Yes Radio Works

May 30, 2024

CAMDEN REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE DIRECTOR RESIGNATION
Cindy Green, Executive Director, Resigns but Remains Committed to Camden's Future
Camden, AR – Cindy Green has resigned from her position as Executive Director of the Camden Regional Chamber of Commerce. While this decision was not made lightly, Green is excited to begin a new chapter and remains deeply committed to the Camden community.

"I have been incredibly fortunate to serve this vibrant community and work alongside such dedicated professionals," Green said. "While I am stepping back from my role as Executive Director, I look forward to continuing my involvement with the Chamber as a volunteer. The future of Camden is bright, and I am eager to contribute in new ways."

Green's tenure has been marked by several key accomplishments, including the establishment of the Camden Arkansas Regional Empowerment Foundation (CARE Foundation) as a 501(c)3 organization. The CARE Foundation will be instrumental in supporting the Chamber's mission by securing grants and donations to fund initiatives that benefit the Camden community. Green has also brought boundless passion, enthusiasm, and energy to her role, fueling the growth and vitality of the Camden community. Her dedication to keeping members informed through regular updates and engaging social media content has fostered a sense of connection and collaboration among businesses and residents alike.

The Camden Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Tomeka Warren will serve as Interim Executive Director while a search is conducted for a permanent replacement. Warren brings approximately 30 years of experience in management and customer service, with a proven track record of increasing revenue and profit. She has a keen ability to build and maintain a strong team and deliver exceptional customer experiences. Warren is well-versed in reviewing KPIs and P&L statements to devise effective plans and prioritize tasks for a thriving business. Her mission is to drive results by developing ideas that uplift, support, and connect people and products.

"Cindy's dedication to Camden has been inspiring, and we are grateful that she will remain involved," said Betsy Tuberville, Board President. "We are also thrilled to have Tomeka Warren at the helm during this transition. Her vision, expertise, and commitment to integrity will be invaluable as we move forward. The Board is excited to begin our search for the next leader who will take the Chamber to new heights."

The Camden Regional Chamber of Commerce is the voice of Camden's business and professional community. We seek to foster a healthy business climate and economy and work closely with existing businesses and industries to represent their interests. The Chamber promotes civic pride, tourism, economic development, workforce initiatives, and educational seminars. The Board of Directors employs an Executive Director.

For more information, please contact:
Betsy Tuberville, Board President
Mike Smith, Board Vice President
office@ccar.community

ARKANSAS DISASTER RELIEF PROGRAM OPENS FOR DONATIONS
May 27, 2024
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. ‐ If you would like to make a monetary donation to help Arkansans impacted by DECLARED disasters, you now have two methods for doing so through the Arkansas Disaster Relief Program.

You can donate electronically via our website at:
https://ar.accessgov.com/adem/Forms/Page/adem/disaster-recovery/0.  

Once you are on the donation page, you can select an amount you would like to give. You can also mail in a donation. If you choose this method, please make your check payable to DFA. The check memo should show a note indicating “Donation for Disaster Relief.” Once received, DFA will deposit the funds into the Arkansas Disaster Relief Program fund to be utilized by the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management (ADEM). If you wish your donation to go to a specific DECLARED community, a note should be written either on the check or sent along with the check. DFA will notify ADEM of the amount specified for a community so they may process the funds to the correct entity.

Mail to:
DFA‐OAS
PO Box 2485
Little Rock, AR 72203

Under the Arkansas Disaster Relief Program, ADEM is able to provide funds for immediate needs for disaster relief to communities experiencing major impacts from a DECLARED disaster. These funds are to be utilized as additional state and federal program availability are being determined.

The determination of amount and recipient will be dependent upon the effect of the disaster upon the community and the need within the community. These funds cannot duplicate other state and federal programs.

All donations to the Arkansas Disaster Relief Program are tax‐deductible and donors will receive a receipt for tax purposes after donating.

CONTACT: Public Affairs at publicaffairs@adem.arkansas.gov or 501‐683‐6700.

The Arkansas Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) is the state's homeland security and preparedness agency. The agency works to identify and lessen the effects of emergencies, disasters and threats to Arkansas by developing effective prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery actions for all disasters and emergencies. For additional information, contact ADEM at (501) 683-6700 or visit the website at www.adem.arkansas.gov.

 

ASP NETS IMPAIRED DRIVERS, GUNS, DRUGS AND MAKES ARRESTS IN SATURATIONS OVER 5 DAYS 
May 30, 2024
In an ongoing effort to support areas of the state struggling with a surge of criminal activity, Arkansas State Police (ASP) Troopers carried out multiple saturation operations across the state in recent days, making 163 criminal arrests and issuing 726 citations from May 21 to May 25, 2024. Seventeen individuals were arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

On Tuesday, May 21, and Wednesday, May 23, 2024, ASP Troopers conducted a saturation in the Little Rock metropolitan area in Pulaski County. The operation resulted in 317 citations and 69 criminal arrests, three of which were for DWI. The citations were for various violations, including 20 for failure to wear seat belts, and 3 for not using child restraints. Additionally, 212 citations were issued for hazardous and non-hazardous violations. In total, Troopers made 440 contacts during the 36-hour operation.

On Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, 2024, ASP conducted a saturation operation in Sebastian County. In collaboration with local law enforcement agencies, the operation resulted in 253 citations and 59 criminal arrests, including six for DWI. Citations included five for failure to wear seat belts, seven for lacking child restraints and 158 for hazardous and non-hazardous violations. Troopers also responded to two accidents during the initiative and made more than 500 contacts. Officers with the Sebastian County Sheriff's Office and the 12th and 21st Judicial Task Force worked alongside ASP during the operation.

During a separate 9-hour operation, ASP conducted a saturation initiative in Lee County. The operation resulted in the seizure of illegal items, including five firearms, Methamphetamine, Ecstasy pills, and illegal marijuana. Troopers physically arrested twenty individuals. The operation began at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 24, 2024, and ended at 2 a.m. on Saturday, May 25, 2024. ASP issued 156 citations for various offenses, including eight individuals arrested for DWI and two felony warrant arrests. Other citations issued included Speeding (13), failure to wear seat belts (22), and no child restraints in use (10). ASP made 278 contacts during the operation. Three of the five confiscated firearms were reported as stolen.

 

GRIFFIN PRAISES HIS OFFICE’S INVESTIGATORS FOR LEADERSHIP IN ARREST OF KANSAS MAN ON FEDERAL CHILD PORN CHARGE INVOLVING ARKANSAS CHILD
Griffin: ‘Bringing child pornographers to justice requires collaboration across multiple jurisdictions’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin today issued the following statement on the involvement of his office in the arrest of Marcus Allen Abeyta, 31, of Emporia, Kansas, on one federal count of production of child pornography involving a minor residing in Arkansas:

“Bringing child pornographers to justice requires collaboration across multiple jurisdictions including, in this matter, federal, military, and state law enforcement. Abeyta is not a member of the military, but my office took the lead on this case because the victim is the child of parents stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base.

“During our investigation, it was discovered that Abeyta is a suspect in numerous other criminal investigations involving child exploitation in other states. I thank my office’s Special Investigations Division for working closely with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on this matter.”

Abeyta was arrested on May 16 at his residence, and his cell phone was seized for digital forensic examination. The examination led to the identification of other minor victims in various parts of the country. HSI and Griffin’s office are still working through evidence to identify other potential victims.

Abeyta is currently being held in Kansas at the Butler County Jail awaiting transfer to Little Rock by the U.S. Marshals Service.

May 28, 2024

CAMDEN POLICE REPORTS
Public Intoxication And Refusal To Submit To Arrest

On May 24, 2024 at 10:34 pm 2234 hours Officer Carwin Edwards was dispatched to Soapy Suds Laundromat for a  security check. The reporting person stated a subject was on scene and was making her feel uncomfortable. Upon my arrival the Officer made contact with Michael Hall and observed Hall standing outside of the Laundromat. He smelled of alcohol and was speaking very loudly. Hall began screaming and using profanity.

Officer Edward stated that Hall was loudly stating he hadn't done anything illegal. It explained to him that PD had received a call of someone drunk in the laundromat. Hall believed he wasn't doing anything wrong, and that he was being singled out from everyone else who had left the bar and drank. Hall was not doing laundry and did not have a legitimate reason to be on the property. Officer Edwards checked to see if Hall had any warrants and he returned with a warrant of arrest. Officer Edwards then told Hall to put his hands behind his back t=because he was being arrested. Hall refused the order. He stiffened his arms and began pulling away after being told to repeatedly place his hands behind his back. Hall continued screaming and resisting until Officer Bailey and Officer Ryan helped Officer Edwards maneuver him into the cuffs. Hall was transported to the Camden Police Department. Hall was not served his warrant due to suicidal statements he made.

He was later released into the custody of emergency medical services. Hall was given a citation for Public Intoxication and refusal to submit to arrest.

CELLAR CLUB BURGULARIZED
On May 25, 2024, at 8:28 AM  Officer Dolden Brice and Sargeant Edens were dispatched to 355 South Adams Street, The Cellar Club in reference to a burglary that occurred overnight.

Upon arrival, the Officer met with Donna McKissack, owner of the Cellar Club.  McKissack stated that she had received a phone call at 3:00 am from Electronic Alarm company informing her of an alarm being tripped at the Cellar Club. She was also informed that at 3:09 am police had been dispatched to the location. At 8:28 am, McKissack had arrived at the Cellar Club and noticed that the back door of the business had been kicked in, and immediately contacted the police. She said that whoever had done this had not taken any money, but instead had stolen Marlboro Cigarettes, Marlboro Red Cigarettes, Marlboro Menthol Cigarettes, Newport Cigarettes, individual bottles of Bud light Beer, and several lighters. McKissack stated the estimated total value lost was $568.00. McKissack also requested to know if police were dispatched, and if they were why they did not notice the back door being open.

Upon entering the business, Officer Brice noticed that the back door was standing open, with what appeared to be a sign that had been nailed over the doorway. There also appeared to have been a metal beam that sat across the doorway, to prevent anyone from opening it from the outside. The back door had several shoe marks in the dust on the door from where the suspect had kicked the door open. The Officer also collected the information on what had been stolen and was informed that an inventory would be completed to more accurately determine if anything else was missing as well.

Detective Scott Bodenhamer and Detective Sergeant Kelly Blair arrived on scene to conduct their initial investigation. Pictures were taken by Sergeant Edens. There was a camera noted on the back of the business, but McKissack said it does not work.

Dispatch records show that Officer Ryan had been dispatched to an active alarm at 355 South Adams Street at 0312 hours. Sergeant Edens contacted Officer Ryan via phone call and asked if he had checked the back of the business and Ryan advised that he did not check around the back.

CAMDEN AREA REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESENTS GOLF CART DRIVE-IN MOVIE NIGHT
The Camden Area Regional Area Chamber of Commerce presents Golf-Cart Drive-In Movie Night every Friday night in June. Golf Carts will be available to rent on a first come first serve basis, but you can enjoy the movie by bringing your lawn Chairs or blankets. Drive-In Movie night will be held at the East Camden Golf Course. Admission is free. Concessions will be available for purchase.

CONSUMER ALERT: POST-STORM REBUILDING SCAMS AND PRICE GOUGING
Griffin: ‘Price gouging will not be tolerated as Arkansas recovers’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin today issued the following statement alerting Arkansans of post-storm rebuilding scams and informing businesses that the prohibitions on price gouging in Act 367 of 1997 are now in effect after Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s declaration of a state of emergency in Executive Order 24-07 issued on May 26:

“My prayers continue for everyone affected by this weekend's storms, especially those who lost loved ones. Arkansans always show kindness and compassion to others when storms strike our state. Yet there are unscrupulous people who will try take advantage of our neighbors in their desperate time of need. 

"Those with storm damage should call their insurance company before paying any company or individual a deposit. Post-storm scammers will offer quick repair jobs for an immediate deposit and may even claim that insurance will reimburse the purchaser. I encourage Arkansans not to feel pressured into immediate solutions that appear too good to be true.

"Furthermore, the Governor's emergency declaration has triggered the state's anti-price gouging law, prohibiting businesses from charging more than 10 percent above the pre-disaster price of goods or services. Price gouging will not be tolerated as Arkansas recovers, and I will bring the full power of my office to bear on anyone who violates our law."

Griffin reminds homeowners that:
Insurers will honor their home policies.
There is no need to rush into or be pressured to sign a contracting agreement.
He also offered these tips for repairing damaged property:
Get more than one estimate.
Demand references and check them out.
Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.
Never sign a contract with blanks “to be filled in later.”
Never pay a contractor in full until the work is finished.
Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.
Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance company.

Act 367 of 1997 is triggered whenever a state of emergency is declared by federal, state, or local governments. A violation of Act 376 is also a violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which carries a fine of up to $10,000. The law prohibits businesses from charging more than 10 percent above the pre-disaster price of goods or services, such as:

Food and water; Fuel;
Blankets, medicine, and bandages; and
Flashlights, batteries, and construction materials.

The ban on price gouging remains in effect for at least 30 days and can be extended another 30 days if necessary to protect Arkansans’ lives, property, or welfare. For home repairs, the law remains in effect for 180 days.

Arkansans who wish to report concerns about the subject of this Consumer Alert or desire more information should contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office by calling (501) 682-2007, emailing consumer@arkansasag.gov, or visiting www.ArkansasAG.gov


SAAC ARTISTS TO HOSTS SUMMER ART CAMPS FOR KIDS
The South Arkansas Arts Center is thrilled to announce three action-packed summer art camps for kids! Join the SAAC art teachers as they team up for an unforgettable adventure of creativity, experimentation, and artistic expression.

The first Art Camp for kids in grades 1-9 will run from June 17-21, featuring the artistic team of Michaela Gross, Mike Means, and Katie Harwell.  The second Art Camp, also for grades 1-9, will follow from June 24-28, led by Nicole McAdams, Mike Means, and Katie Harwell. Both June art camps will meet daily from 9am to 12pm, providing a unique opportunity for students to work with multiple art teachers throughout the week. Each day, students will spend an hour with a different teacher, exposing them to a variety of artistic styles and techniques. This dynamic approach allows students to discover new skills and perspectives, while fostering creativity and self-expression.

In July, Gross and McAdams will be teaming up again to teach a Mini Art Camp for children Age 3-6 during the week of July 22-25. The four-day mini camp will meet from 10am to 12pm Monday through Thursday.

“Summer camp's projects are just more fun!,” said art instructor Katie Harwell. The summer art camps are designed to be an engaging experience for kids, allowing them to explore their artistic side in a supportive environment. With a talented team of art teachers leading the way, students will have the opportunity to develop their skills and learn new techniques while having fun.

For more information on all the theatre, art, and dance camps hosted by SAAC this summer, visit the SAAC website at www.saac-arts.org or call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. The South Arkansas Arts Center is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

May 24,2024

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR MATT STONE
May 24, 2024

LITTLE ROCK – Four election laws passed by the legislature in 2021 will continue to be enforced, thanks to an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that upholds their constitutionality.

The four laws were immediately challenged after the 2021 regular session, during which the legislature enacted a long series of election integrity laws.

Last year a Pulaski County judge ruled that the four laws were unconstitutional. The lower court decision was reversed by the Supreme Court, which determined that the Pulaski County judge had made an error in law.

The four laws are Acts 249, 728, 736 and 973 of 2021.

Act 249 reaffirms the requirement that a voter bring a government-issued photo ID to the polling place. It repeals a provision in previous law that used to allow voters to sign an affidavit at their polling place if they didn’t have a photo ID with them.

Under Act 249, in order for their provisional ballots to be counted, voters must bring their ID to the county clerk or the county board of election commissioners by the Monday following Election Day.

Act 249 does not allow for a signature at the polling place, with or without an affidavit.

Act 728 prohibits people from entering or remaining in an area within 100 feet of the entrance to a voting site while voting is taking place, except for a person entering or leaving the building for lawful purposes.

Supporters of Act 728 say it prevents intimidation and electioneering within 100 feet of voting places. Opponents say it will prevent people from passing out water, and the lower court ruling was that it violated free speech rights embodied in the First Amendment.

However, the Arkansas Supreme Court cited U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have allowed restrictions on speech within 100 feet of a polling place. Therefore Act 728 easily satisfies First Amendment challenges, the state Supreme Court ruled.

Act 736 states that possession of more than four absentee ballots is presumed to be election fraud. It requires county clerks to provide the county board of election commissioners with a daily count of absentee ballot applications.

A contested provision of Act 736 directs county clerks to compare signatures on applications for absentee ballots with the original signatures on the applicant’s voter registration document. If the signatures don’t match, the clerk will not send an absentee ballot to the applicant. Opponents of the act argued that a person’s signatures change over time, and that the law would burden elderly voters.

Act 973 moves the deadline when absentee ballots must be turned in to the county clerk, from the Monday immediately before Election Day to the preceding Friday.

The Supreme Court ruled that the four laws did not threaten citizens’ fundamental right to vote. The justice who wrote the majority opinion said that “while the right to vote has been held to be fundamental, the right to vote in a particular manner is not guaranteed.”

In 2021 the legislature enacted a long series of election integrity laws clarifying the powers of county boards of election commissioners in relation to county clerks.


SUMMER MUSICAL AUDITIONS UPCOMING AT SAAC MAY 29-30
The South Arkansas Arts Center is going to the “highest height” this summer for Cameron Mackintosh and Disney’s “Mary Poppins” musical sponsored by Murphy USA.  Auditions will be held at 6pm on May 29 and 30. The Lobby will open for registration at 5:30pm for auditioners to fill out an audition form and have a headshot taken.

This show has something for everyone with fun character roles and great ensemble parts, including parts for those ages 9 to 60 plus - whether you want to become a member of the Banks family, fly like Burt and Mary Poppins, sing like the Bird Lady, or just dance in the ensemble.  The roles of Jane and Michael Banks are open to anyone who can look 9-12 years old, but no one younger than 9 years old. All other roles are open to anyone 14 years and older. 

Director Ian Aipperspach said that people should expect a low-pressure, laid back family atmosphere during auditions where they will sing for the directors of the show, “We’re very encouraging and want everyone to do well and succeed! For auditions they can prepare 16-32 bars from a show similar to ‘Mary Poppins’ and, if interested in being a named role, to prepare a monologue.”

Everyone should come to auditions prepared to sing a short cut from a song in the style of the show and to dance a short combo. Bring a music track that can be played via Bluetooth or AUX cord. For roles that will include dancing and for those auditioning for dancing roles only, the short musical theatre dance/movement combination, choreographed by Hannah Jade McGaugh, can be found on SAAC’s web site to preview.  

With her umbrella and carousel horse at the ready, Mary Poppins is a symbol of imagination, creativity, and the power of childhood innocence. Young Jane and Michael Banks have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins arrives. Using a combination of magic and common sense, she helps teach the family how to value each other again. Mary Poppins is an enchanting mixture of an irresistible story, breathtaking dance numbers and unforgettable songs such as Chim Chim Cher-ee, A Spoonful of Sugar and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

For those unable to attend in-person auditions, video auditions will be accepted. For more information about auditions for “Mary Poppins,” please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474, visit the SAAC web site at www.saac-arts.org, or visit SAAC at 110 E. 5th Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

May 23, 2024

MEETING OF THE CITY OF CAMDEN YOUTH SPORTS COMMITTEE
The Youth Sports Committee will meet on Thursday, May 30, 2024, at 4:00PM in the Council Chambers of the City of Camden Municipal Building.

CID INVESTIGATING LEE COUNTY HOMICIDE
May 22, 2024
MARIANNA, Ark. — On Tuesday, May 21, 2024, the Lee County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) requested the Arkansas State Police's (ASP) Criminal Investigation Division (CID) investigate a homicide in Lee County. 

A local farmer reported finding the body of a woman on a farm field road off Lee County Road 706, north of Marianna. The woman was later identified as Ashley Monroe, 30, of Lexa. 

The deceased has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Lab to determine the cause of death. The investigation into Monroe's homicide is ongoing.   

FORREST CITY FAMILY PRACTICE PHYSICIAN TO LEAD STATE SOCIETY
Dr. George Conner Named President of the Arkansas Medical Society
LITTLE ROCK, AR – May 19, 2024 – The Arkansas Medical Society (AMS) is proud to announce the successful conclusion of its 2024 Annual Meeting, held on May 17 and 18 at the Embassy Suites in Little Rock, Arkansas. This year’s event brought together medical professionals from across the state to engage in two days of informative sessions, networking opportunities, and the celebration of achievements.

The highlight of the meeting was the President's Inaugural Gala, where Dr. George Conner III from Forrest City was officially installed as the AMS President for 2024-2025. Dr. Conner, a family practice physician and an AMS member since 1987, recalled that he knew early on the importance of fostering connections with fellow physicians and collaborating with them to safeguard and improve the standard of medical care here in Arkansas. Today, he regards AMS as the premier medical organization in our state when it comes to advocating for the well-being of physicians and patients.

“I am honored to serve as the President of the Arkansas Medical Society,” said Dr. Conner. “Together, we will work towards improving healthcare access, advocating for our patients, and supporting the continued education and growth of our medical community.”

Over 60 awards were presented to outstanding students, residents, fellows, and faculty from Arkansas’ three medical schools and multiple residency programs from around the state. In addition, there were over 70 research posters on display chosen from a field of over 100 submissions. Thirteen of the poster authors were also recognized as winners.
 

U.S. SENATE SMALL BUSINESS AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP COMMITTEE REPORTS OUT LEGISLATION, INCLUDING SHAHEEN BILL TO REAUTHORIZE THE STATE TRADE EXPANSION PROGRAM (STEP)
(Washington, DC) – The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship today reported out four bills, which legislate critical improvements to the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) and improve access to federal contracting opportunities for small businesses.

“Through today’s legislation, we’re helping to make STEP more flexible and easier to administer in order to increase the number of small businesses that access and compete in international markets,” said Chair Shaheen. “When I created STEP in 2010, I sought to help small businesses offset the cost of training, market research, website upgrades and trade missions to begin or expand sales internationally. By modernizing STEP, it will now be simpler for small businesses to access these resources. I look forward to continuing to work together as we consider additional, bipartisan legislation that strengthens the economy and our local communities.” 

The following legislation was reported out of committee:  

 The STEP Modernization Act of 2024 updates STEP by streamlining the application, reporting and compliance requirements, improving award consistency and transparency and establishing a formula that will replace the current competitive process for determining award amounts once appropriations reach a set level. Lead sponsors are Chair Shaheen and Ranking Member Ernst.  

 The Subcontracting Simplification Act amends the Small Business Act to require prime contractors to communicate subcontract opportunities to small businesses in a clear, concise and accessible manner. Lead sponsors are Senators Risch and Hickenlooper. Cosponsors include Senators Budd, Crapo, Kennedy, Rubio and Young. 

 The Small Business Contracting Transparency Act amends the Small Business Act to require SBA to provide an annual report to the Senate and House Small Business Committees on certification activities and contract awards within the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) programs. Lead sponsors are Senators Coons and Kennedy.  

The Plain Language in Contracting Act makes federal contracting opportunities more accessible to small businesses by requiring notices to be written in clear and accessible language.

Chair Shaheen helped create STEP as a pilot program in 2010. The program was fully authorized by Shaheen’s small business trade amendment, which was signed into law in 2016. Since its creation, the STEP program has awarded $235.5 million in grants and directly supported over 13,000 small businesses' international expansion and export growth. As states improve their exporting skills, the return on investment keeps improving. In 2022, every $1 in STEP funding yielded $43 in U.S. export sales. 

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST TICKETMASTER AND PARENT LIVE NATION, JOINS U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND 29 OTHER ATTORNEYS GENERAL
Griffin: ‘Arkansans—whether they are concert goers, artists, or venue operators—are at the mercy of Live Nation and Ticketmaster’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin today announced that he has joined the U.S. Department of Justice and a bipartisan coalition of 29 other attorneys general in filing an antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., over its illegal monopoly of the live entertainment industry:

“Arkansans—whether they are concert goers, artists, or venue operators—are at the mercy of Live Nation and Ticketmaster when it comes to live entertainment. Live Nation’s monopoly dictates which artists play where, prevents venues from using other ticketing companies at the risk of losing access to artists, and milks fans with large service fees in a so-called marketplace where there is a paucity of choice. Live Nation is also in violation of Arkansas’s prohibition on monopolies and our state’s Unfair Practices Act.”

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the DOJ and coalition states allege that Live Nation has:

Harmed fans through higher fees and limited the amount of information fans have regarding the ultimate cost to see a show. Fans’ ticketing experience—from buying a ticket to showtime—is also worse than it would be if the industry were competitive.

Maintained its monopoly in ticketing markets by locking up venues through restrictive long-term, exclusive agreements and threats that venues will lose access to Live Nation-controlled tours and artists if they sign with a rival ticketer.

Leveraged its extensive network of venues to force artists to select Live Nation as a promoter instead of its rivals, maintaining its promotions monopoly.  

The DOJ and coalition states are asking the court to prohibit Live Nation from engaging in its anticompetitive practices; order Live Nation to divest its ownership of Ticketmaster; and order Live Nation to pay civil penalties for its violations of law.

Joining Griffin in the suit are the attorneys general from: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

May 22, 2024

CITY OF CAMDEN MEMORIAL DAY SCHEDULE
The City of Camden Offices will be closed on Monday 27, 2024 in observance of Memorial Day. The trash pickup will run as usual.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN ISSUES CEASE AND DESIST LETTERS TO ABORTION PILL COMPANIES ADVERTISING IN ARKANSAS
Griffin: ‘As Attorney General, I will continue fighting to enforce the laws of our state’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin today issued the following statement announcing that he has sent cease and desist letters to New York-based Choices Women’s Medical Center, Inc., and Aid Access of the Netherlands for potential violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) related to abortion pill marketing and sales:

“Abortions are prohibited in Arkansas except under very limited circumstances. As such, abortion pills may not be legally shipped to Arkansans or brought into the State for use by Arkansans. My office has verified that both Choices Women’s Medical Center, Inc., and Aid Access are advertising the availability of abortion-inducing pills to Arkansans in contravention of our laws. 

“These companies must cease and desist advertising relating to the performance of abortion services in Arkansas immediately or face the possibility of lawsuits from my office. As Attorney General, I will continue fighting to enforce the laws of our state.”

The Attorney General may sue violators of the ADTPA and seek civil penalties of $10,000 per violation. Both companies have 14 days to notify Griffin in writing of the steps they have taken to comply with his letter.

To read the Aid Access letter, click here.

To read the Choices Women’s Medical Center, Inc., click here.For more on  these and other stories visit www.yesradioworks.com/news


BOOZMAN SECURES INVESTMENTS FOR ARKANSAS WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, secured measures that will strengthen Arkansas water resources in legislation approved by the committee Wednesday.

The Thomas R. Carper Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2024 authorizes water and wastewater projects, invests in ports and inland waterways, and improves U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) programs. The bipartisan bill passed the committee unanimously and next heads to the Senate floor consideration.

“Reliable, efficient water infrastructure underpins our entire economy. This legislation preserves and enhances this critical resource to ensure we are maximizing its potential to support the demands of communities and industries in Arkansas as well as nationwide. I’m pleased this bipartisan bill includes policies I championed to advance economic growth and development locally and beyond,” Boozman said.

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

Advancing the reallocation study for the Beaver Water District.

Modifying the federally authorized area of Osceola Harbor to manage the increased barge traffic, supporting the growth of the port and regional steel industry which significantly contribute to economic development in the region.

Prioritizing funding for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System to mitigate cost overruns with a cost-share adjustment. This would allow the nation to realize sizable economic returns, reduce the supply chain’s environmental footprint and address uncertainty in the global agricultural and energy markets

Creating a comprehensive approach to managing the Lower Mississippi River and implementing restoration practices to support animal habitats in Arkansas and Tennessee.

Reestablishing the Levee Owners Advisory Board to engage local owner-operators to improve public participation and enhance flood protection.

Addressing levee safety guidelines under development and ensuring they follow congressional intent.

Examining digital infrastructure and real-time data collection by authorizing a study on water distribution optimization. 

Permitting the Corps to reinvest recreation fees to improve facilities where the funds were collected, creating an incentive for the Corps to maintain good facilities and provide quality recreational opportunities on our public lands.

May 21, 2024

"OPERATION HOPE" COMBATS HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN HOT SPRINGS
May 20, 2024
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Seven women believed to be victims of human trafficking were offered services, and another 25 local victims were identified as part of Operation HOPE (Help and Opportunity to Prevent Exploitation), which took place in Hot Springs this month. 

Arkansas State Police (ASP) and members of the Arkansas Human Trafficking Council conducted the recovery operation over a single day, offering victims services such as food, lodging, on-site medical services, counseling, therapy, and drug rehabilitation.

"These concerted efforts will significantly contribute to making Arkansas a place where human trafficking is not tolerated," said ASP Director Colonel Mike Hagar. "The dedicated law enforcement community in Arkansas is fully committed to approaching the grim reality of human trafficking with empathy, aiming to rescue victims from the shadows and provide them with the support and care they need to recover."

The multidisciplinary operation consisted of law enforcement and victim service providers from around the state, working together to combat human trafficking, recover victims, and detain traffickers to make our communities safer. Before and during the operation, intelligence analysts and law enforcement officers identified local victims. Leading up to the operation, three children and one adult were removed from exploitative, vulnerable, and unstable situations. All minors were taken into protective custody, and the adult received victim services.

"Not only do we hunt the wicked, but we also seek out the wounded," said Major Stacie Rhoads, CID commander.

The operation was made possible through the coordinated efforts of representatives from federal, state, local, and non-government organizations, including the Arkansas Attorney General's Office, Hot Springs Police Department, Garland County Sheriff's Office, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Harrison Police Department, Arkansas Fusion Center, along with victim advocates and medical personnel from the Regional Intervention of Sexual Exploitation "RISE," The Genesis Project, Into the Light, ACASA, Saline County Safe Haven, River Valley Medical Wellness, and the NWA Forensic Nurse Team.

During a similar Jonesboro operation in February, 30 adult females were identified, and five were offered services in Northeast Arkansas.

ASP cannot release any further details now as the investigation is ongoing.

Human Trafficking continues to be a problem in Arkansas and across the United States, and law enforcement will continue to take it seriously. If you have information or suspect human trafficking in your area, please get in touch with the Arkansas Human Trafficking Council at reportht@asp.arkansas.gov or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.


ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN ANNOUNCES CYBERSECURITY SUMMIT OCTOBER 7-8 FEATURING TOP FEDERAL CYBERSECURITY EXPERT
Griffin: ‘This summit will have national and international appeal’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin announced today that he will host a Cybersecurity Summit October 7-8, 2024, at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock at no cost to attendees. The summit will feature the Director of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Jen Easterly, as the keynote speaker. The summit will be held in cooperation with the fifth annual Forge Institute Cyber Summit, also taking place at the Statehouse Convention Center. Griffin released the following statement about the summit:

“Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important as online technology advances. My office regularly deals with cybersecurity issues related to scams, data breaches, sexual exploitation, and other aspects of online criminal activity, so we are on the front lines of this fight every single day. I’m a big believer in the power of collaboration, so I am convening experts, stakeholders, policymakers, business owners, and the general public for two days in October. Some of the presentations will be held with the Forge Institute.

“While there will be plenty of Arkansas-specific concerns addressed, this much-needed summit will have national and international appeal as we bring in top experts in the field of cybersecurity. I am particularly thrilled that Jen Easterly, Director of CISA, will serve as our keynote speaker. I’ve known Jen for a long time, and there is no one in government more knowledgeable than her on the topic of cybersecurity.

“I am also proud to work with our private sector partners at the Forge Institute. Their cybersecurity expertise and capabilities are invaluable resources to our country, and working alongside such a strong, Arkansas-based organization like Forge makes sense for our event.”

The Cybersecurity Summit is free and open to the public, but attendees must register in advance and can do so by clicking here. More information about the summit will be made available in the coming months. All inquiries about the summit should be directed to the Office of the Attorney General at (501) 682-2007 or oag@arkansasag.gov. 
 

SAAC WELCOMES BACK DIRECTOR IAN AIPPERSACH TO LEAD "MARY POPPINS"
The South Arkansas Arts Center is thrilled to welcome back visiting director Ian Aipperspach, Ph.D. After successfully directing SAAC’s summer 2023 musical “Newsies,” Aipperspach returns to direct the 2024 summer musical production of Disney's "Mary Poppins," sponsored by Murphy USA. Aipperspach brings a wealth of experience from both the educational and professional musical theater worlds, and is excited to once again see the talent and dedication of the people of south Arkansas.

With decades of experience in theatre, Aipperspach’s most recent productions include music directing "Anastasia" with Ouachita Baptist University and "Addams Family" with East Texas Baptist University. He has also had the privilege of serving as music director for "Mary Poppins" at Ouachita Baptist University and has professional credits, including stage directing "Forever Plaid" and music directing "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Titanic."

Dr. Aipperspach serves as Lecturer of Music and Music Director for Musical Theatre at Ouachita Baptist University where he also teaches courses in Musicology and Music Theory. Previous engagements have included productions with the Marshall (TX) Kids Community Theatre, East Texas Baptist University, Lubbock Christian University, and Lubbock Moonlight Musicals where he served as production manager for summer shows and music director. He received his Ph.D. in Fine Arts from Texas Tech University.

Joining Aipperspach on the production team are assistant director Ruth Griffin and choreographer Hannah Jade McGaugh, both familiar faces on the SAAC stage. Griffin recently directed SAAC's Second Stage Production "The Odd Couple: Female Edition" and appeared on stage in "Once Upon a Mattress" as The Nightingale of Samarkand, Lady Maybelle, and Lady Merrill. McGaugh has served as choreographer for SAAC's productions of "Singin' in the Rain," "Mamma Mia!," and "Newsies." As a dancer, she is the owner and instructor at Lucy's Ladies Dance Studio.

The musical "Mary Poppins" is set in early 20th century London and follows the Banks family, who are struggling to connect with each other. Mary Poppins, a magical nanny, arrives to care for the children and brings magic and wonder into their lives. Through her influence, the parents, George and Winifred, learn to let go of their strictness and become more loving and connected with their children. The story ends with Mary Poppins departing, leaving behind a transformed family that is more joyful and harmonious.

Auditions for "Mary Poppins" are scheduled for May 29 and 30 at SAAC. For additional information, visit the SAAC website at www.saac-arts.org or call 870-862-5474. 

AEDC’S RURAL SERVICES DIVISION TO HOST 2024 RURAL DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 21, 2024) – The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Rural Services Division will host its annual Rural Development Conference on May 21-23 in Hot Springs.

The conference offers participants the opportunity to learn about programs and services that assist local communities with development, planning, and revitalization efforts. The target audience for the conference includes state legislators, mayors, county judges, rural firefighters, local community leaders, and community development professionals.

“AEDC’s Division of Rural Services is proud to host this annual conference for our rural communities,” said Becca Caldwell, director of Rural Services. “We strive to provide engaging and diverse sessions aimed at tackling the issues rural Arkansas faces while also providing time for our community leaders, economic developers and elected officials to network with their counterparts. This year’s conference, with a packed agenda of great speakers and sessions, promises to be our best Rural Development Conference yet.”

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the opening welcome for the conference on May 21. Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin will serve as the guest speaker during the Rural Development Commission Luncheon on May 22.

Attendees can participate in multiple sessions and roundtables throughout the conference. Topics include affordable housing, outdoor economy, rural real estate, regionalism, rural workforce strategies, and grant training.

The Rural Services Awards Luncheon will be held on May 23.  A full agenda for the Rural Development Conference can be found here.

To register for the 2024 Rural Development Conference, click here.

May 20, 2024

OUACHITA COUNTY COURTHOUSE MEMORIAL DAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse along with the County Extension Office and Juvenile Office will be closed on Monday the 27th of May for the Memorial Day Holiday The Ouachita County Sanitation Department WILL run on regular schedule. They will not take the holiday.


COOPERATIVE MEMBERS WARNED TO BE AWARE OF UTILITY SCAMS
Little Rock, Ark. — May 20, 2024 —The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas want to help Arkansans avoid falling victim to energy scams.
Consumers with water, gas and electricity connections are often targets for utility scams. Scammers approach consumers through a variety of means, including phone calls, text messages, emails and even in-person visits. A newer tactic is a digital attack such as disguising a caller identification number or “spoofing” to make the phone number appear to be from a trusted source.  

Scammers also use fraudulent websites that look identical to a utility payment webpage. Often these pages are promoted on search engines to trick consumers into clicking and making a payment. 

Another scam to be on the lookout for involves calls, texts or emails claiming you overpaid your electric bill and will receive a cash or banking refund.  

There are several red flags you can watch for to identify an energy scam:  

  • High-pressure tactics such as creating a sense of urgency by claiming you will be disconnected if a payment is not made immediately; 
  • If someone is pushing unusual payment methods such as gift cards or cryptocurrency; 
  • Poor grammar, spelling errors and odd email addresses; or
  • Requesting banking information or a social security number over the phone or email. 

The 17 local electric distribution cooperatives as part of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas will never demand instant, immediate payment and threaten to disconnect your service without prior notice or warning.  

 Your local electric cooperative will also never ask for a Social Security number or banking details over the phone or through email. Each locally owned electric cooperative offers several secure payment options. 
 

COTTON: INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION IN ISRAEL
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today released the following statement after the chief prosecutor of International Criminal Court announced he is seeking arrest warrants for leaders of Israel and Hamas, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Equating Israel’s democratically elected leaders with the perpetrators of the worst attack on Jews since WWII shows what a farce the International Criminal Court is.

Mr. Khan’s kangaroo court has no jurisdiction in Israel to pursue these anti-Semitic and politically motivated ‘charges.’ My colleagues and I look forward to making sure neither Khan, his associates nor their families will ever set foot again in the United States.”

May 17, 2024

AMITY MAN CHARGED WITH 30 COUNTS OF DISTRIBUTING CHILD SEX ABUSE MATERIALS
May 17, 2024
AMITY, Ark. -- On April 27, 2024, Arkansas State Police initiated an investigation based on a tip forwarded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that led to the Tuesday, May 13, 2024, arrest of Ethan Fagan, 31, of Amity.

Fagan was charged with 30 counts of Distributing, Possessing, or Viewing Matter Depicting Sexually Explicit Conduct Involving a Child. Fagan appeared in Clark County Circuit Court the following day and is in custody, being held on a $100,000 bond.

Additional charges are pending as investigators determine what child sexual abuse material images may have been generated using artificial intelligence technology.

Investigators will be contacting potential victims directly. Anyone with information about the investigation may call (501) 618-8151.


SANDERS, ANRC ANNOUNCE MORE THAN $79 MILLION FOR ARKANSAS WATER PROJECTS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On Friday, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced more than $79 million in financial assistance for 25 water and wastewater projects serving more than 587,000 Arkansans. The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission approved this funding on May 15, 2024.

“Arkansans are counting on their local water utilities to deliver consistent and safe drinking water. In my administration, we’re proud to help communities provide that critical service,” said Governor Sanders. “The $79 million in assistance we’re announcing will help us improve water infrastructure for more than half a million Arkansans, keeping faucets, showers, and plumbing running all across our state.” 

“From the Governor's Executive Order requiring an update to the State Water Plan to yesterday's decisions providing financial assistance of over $79 million for water projects throughout the state, we appreciate Governor Sanders’ leadership on water issues and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture will continue to prioritize this natural resource that is critical to all Arkansans,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.

“During Wednesday’s commission meeting, nine projects were awarded $1.9 million in grant funding from a new funding opportunity for sewer overflow and stormwater use from the Environmental Protection Agency and administered by the Department.  We continue to assist communities across the state through our existing programs and new funding opportunities to meet water and wastewater needs,” said Chris Colclasure, Director of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Division.

The projects receiving funding are below:

Arkansas City, Desha County, received a $400,000 grant from the Sewer Overflow and Storm Water Reuse Municipal Grant Program. The current customer base for this project is 205. 

Benton County received a $137,873 grant from the Sewer Overflow and Storm Water Reuse Municipal Grant Program. The current customer base for this project is 284,336.

Calico Rock, Izard County, received a $50,000 grant from the Sewer Overflow and Storm Water Reuse Municipal Grant Program. The current customer base for this project is 507.

Gentry, Benton County, received a $50,000 grant from the Sewer Overflow and Storm Water Reuse Municipal Grant Program. The current customer base for this project is 1,750.

Highland, Sharp County, received a $69,500 grant from the Sewer Overflow and Storm Water Reuse Municipal Grant Program. The current customer base for this project is 615.

Benton County, on behalf of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership, received a $400,000 grant from the Sewer Overflow and Storm Water Reuse Municipal Grant Program.

Malvern Water Works, Hot Spring County, received a $400,000 grant from the Sewer Overflow and Storm Water Reuse Municipal Grant Program. The current customer base for this project is 10,867.

Mount Ida, Montgomery County, received a $40,000 grant from the Sewer Overflow and Storm Water Reuse Municipal Grant Program. The current customer base for this project is 1,600.

Watershed Conservation Resource Center, Washington County, received a $400,000 grant from the Sewer Overflow and Storm Water Reuse Municipal Grant Program contingent on finding an eligible sponsor entity. The current customer base for this project is 120,000.

Calhoun County Water Association received a $2,301,647 loan from the Water Development Fund. The current customer base for this project is 733.

Community Water System Public Water Authority, Cleburne County, received a $1,325,000 loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. The current customer base for this project is 76,000.

DeValls Bluff, Prairie County, received a $142,140 loan from the Water, Sewer, and Solid Waste Fund. The current customer base for this project is 305.

Emerson, Columbia County, received a $1,175,388 loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. The current customer base for this project is 451.

Hardy Water Works, Sharp and Fulton counties, received an emergency $100,000 loan from the Water Development Fund. The current customer base for this project is 450.

Haynes Water Works, Lee County, received an emergency $40,000 loan from the Water Development Fund. The current customer base for this project is 122.

Hot Springs, Garland County, received a $1,912,500 loan and a $1,837,500 loan with principal forgiveness from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. The current customer base for these projects is 38,114.

Magnolia, Columbia County, received a $613,240 loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. The current customer base for this project is 11,000.

Phillips County Sewer Facilities Board received an emergency $100,000 loan from the Water Development Fund. The current customer base for this project is 735.

Poyen, Grant County, received two loans in the amounts of $1,140,000 and $787,415 from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund and a $684,442 loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. The current customer base for these projects is 361.

Springdale, Benton and Washington counties, received a $50,000,000 loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. The current customer base for this project is 38,250.

Tull, Grant County, received a $316,422 loan from the Water, Sewer, and Solid Waste Fund. The current customer base for this project is 950.

White River Regional Irrigation Water Distribution District, Prairie County, received a $15,000,000 loan from the Arkansas Water, Waste Disposal, and Abatement Facilities General Obligation Bond Fund. 

In addition to today’s announcement, Governor Sanders has launched a comprehensive analysis and review of Arkansas’ State Water Plan. She also took action to address Helena West-Helena’s water system issues, including approving loans, providing potable water, and offering Arkansas National Guard assistance.
 

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR MATT STONE

May 17, 2024

LITTLE ROCK – Limiting children’s access to social media is still a priority for Arkansas policy makers.

Last week the governor sent a letter to the governors of all 50 states, and to all Arkansas legislators, urging them to continue working for meaningful restrictions on children’s use of social media platforms.

With the letter she includes a copy of a book titled “The Anxious Generation,” written by Jonathan Haidt. He is a social psychologist at New York University. The book recommends strategies to fight the recent, dramatic increases in mental health issues among young people, such as depression, anxiety and suicide.

Last year the legislature passed Act 689, the Social Media Safety Act. It would have made Arkansas the first state to enact laws requiring juveniles to obtain parental consent before they could open a social media account.

However, enforcement of Act 689 was delayed by a federal judge last year after a group of social media companies filed a legal challenge. That lawsuit is still winding its way through the judicial system.

Other states have enacted similar laws designed to limit the accessibility of social media by young people, including Utah, Louisiana, Texas and California. Lawsuits seeking to strike them as unconstitutional have been filed by an industry group called NetChoice.

The industry has cited First Amendment rights in its challenge of laws that limit the use of social media. Tech industry lawyers argue that social media is different than a casino or a liquor store because it is a platform for communication, and not a location of privileged activity for adults.

Act 689 generated controversy as it progressed through the legislature during the 2023 regular session. It was opposed by legislators of both parties. One concern was the act’s requirement that social media companies hire a third party vendor to verify the ages of account holders.

Even though Act 689 prohibits vendors from keeping any identifying information about account holders. Opponents of the law are skeptical and argue that because it requires a user to submit an ID, it magnifies the risk of identity theft.

The governor has been outspoken in her criticism of the tech industry that operates social media sites. Last year, when a federal judge halted enforcement of Act 689, she wrote on social media that “big Tech companies put our kids’ lives at risk. They push an addictive product that is shown to increase depression, loneliness, and anxiety and puts our kids in human traffickers’ crosshairs.”

In her recent letter to legislators and the nation’s governors, she wrote that “millions of American kids have fallen into the dark sewer of social media and screen addiction.”

In his book, Haidt lists four guidelines for helping young people avoid mental health issues created by an addiction to cell phones. The first is not to allow smartphones before high school. The second is for parents not to allow children access to social media before they turn 16. The third is to have phone-free schools and the fourth is to encourage more outdoor play and childhood independence.

The governor reiterated the four points in her letter to lawmakers and governors.


GRIFFIN LAUDS UNANIMOUS STATE SUPREME COURT WIN UPHOLDING STATE ELECTION LAWS
Griffin: ‘Today’s unanimous decision is a total victory for Arkansas voters and the security of our elections moving forward’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement after the unanimous decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court in Thurston v. League of Women Voters, upholding four state election laws relating to absentee ballots, voter identification, and polling-place electioneering restrictions:

“Today’s unanimous decision is a total victory for Arkansas voters and the security of our elections moving forward. With the Supreme Court reversing and dismissing the 2022 injunction by former Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, Acts 249, 728, 736, and 973 of 2021—passed by the people’s elected representatives in the Arkansas General Assembly—can continue to be enforced to the benefit of Arkansans.

“I am thankful for the diligent work of Solicitor General Nicholas Bronni and Deputy Solicitor General Dylan Jacobs, which led to today’s unanimous decision. I also thank Dylan for his work to win a stay of the 2022 injunction.”


BOOZMAN HONORED BY IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA
WASHINGTON – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) honored U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) with its 2024 Leadership in Government Award in recognition of his advocacy for policies to improve the services and benefits veterans and their families have earned.

“I’m proud to work with IAVA to ensure we fulfill the promises made to the men and women who served in uniform. We’ve been able to accomplish landmark improvements for women veterans and toxic-exposed veterans thanks to the dedicated support of IAVA members. I appreciate this honor and look forward to continuing our collaboration to make meaningful improvements in the lives of these unsung heroes,” Boozman said.

“Senator John Boozman has been a leader on behalf of the post-9/11 generation of veterans as he has answered our calls for action over and over again,” said IAVA CEO Allison Jaslow. “When IAVA put rocket fuel into the conversation about the need to address issues facing women veterans when we launched our She Who Borne the Battle campaign in 2017, Senator Boozman stepped up. He helped deliver a big win for women veterans after working hand in hand with us to craft the Deborah Sampson Act, which is now law, and a huge win for all veterans who’ve experienced toxic exposure thanks to his leadership that contributed to passage of the PACT Act. It’s an honor to recognize Senator Boozman’s efforts on behalf of my generation of veterans, and IAVA’s more than 425,000 members, with our 2024 Leadership in Government award.”

As a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding, Boozman has been a leader in delivering additional resources to support the needs of veterans and their families.  

The senator has championed a number of significant improvements that were signed into law in recent years to enhance or expand veterans benefits including transformational legislation expanding VA health care to toxic-exposed veterans of all eras and strengthening VA care and services for women veterans.

May 16, 2024

ASP CONFISCATES OVER 200 POUNDS OF ILLEGAL MARIJUANA AND $10,000 DURING I-40 STOPS
May 15, 2024
Arkansas State Police's (ASP) Interstate Criminal Patrol (ICP) arrested two women in separate traffic stops for trafficking illegal narcotics on Interstate 40.  

On Tuesday, May 7, 2024, around 6:45 p.m., ICP stopped a white Chrysler Pacifica near the 99-mile marker in Pope County for a traffic violation. Upon searching the vehicle, Troopers discovered five trash bags containing 120 individually wrapped bundles of illegal marijuana, with each bundle weighing approximately 1 pound. Additionally, Troopers found $9,350 in cash inside the suspect's vehicle.

ASP arrested the driver, Kristi Dortch, 50, of Eureka Springs, California, and transported her to the Pope County Detention Center, where she was charged with Felony Possession with the Purpose to Deliver of a Controlled Substance, Felony Possession of a Drug Paraphernalia, and multiple traffic violations.  Dortch told investigators she was traveling from Eureka Springs, California, to Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

On Monday, May 13, 2024, at approximately 2:30 p.m., ICP stopped a rented black Chevrolet Malibu for a traffic violation at the 172-mile mark in Lonoke County.  During a search, ICP discovered 115 pounds of illegal marijuana in the car's trunk, along with $1,005.   

Troopers transported the driver, Shayla Cooper, 41, of Oklahoma City, to the Lonoke County Detention Center, where she was booked and charged with felony counts of Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Cooper was traveling from Oklahoma City to Atlanta, Georgia.

 

U OF A POULTRY ECONOMIST DISCUSSES POULTRY INDUSTRY
Last year’s closure of chicken processing plants in North Little Rock and Van Buren sparked a few questions in the mind of Jada Thompson, a poultry economist for the University of Arkansas.

The poultry industry is vertically integrated, which means poultry companies contract with growers and supply those growers with birds and feed. The growers supply the rest, including barns, electricity, water and labor. The industry is a big deal in Arkansas, which produced 7.35 billion pounds of broilers in 2022, ranking it third in the U.S. broiler production. The critical step between farm and consumer is the processing plant.

Thompson said that risk is part of any enterprise and in the case of the plant closures, growers had to figure out what to do with the houses they have to raise birds. Some growers had their contracts switched to a nearby plant. Others’ contracts were bought out and growers were left scrambling to find places to contract to process their poultry to ensure their livelihood.

All of this led Thompson to develop a team of researchers to analyze the risks. The result of this collaboration is the fact sheet Location, Location, Location: Mapping the Risks for Arkansas Broiler Production, which evaluates the risks for poultry producers and lenders by quantifying low, average, medium or high-risk areas. Among the factors the authors identified in determining risk level was the local cost of electricity, the location of feed mills, tax liabilities and the proximity of processing plants.

Using these factors, the team developed a map showing areas of highest risk, including Southwest Arkansas and Jefferson County. The lowest risk was in northwest Arkansas, where there is a high concentration of integrators.

This map could reinforce the idea of increased processing plant concentration in the poultry industry, where financial risks are lower. However, Thompson stressed that poultry is a living industry susceptible to biological hazards such as Avian Influenza, Newcastle, or Marek’s disease. These diseases spread rapidly when houses are in close proximity.

The fact sheet concludes that having high risk doesn’t mean that a location isn’t a worthy investment, just that there are obstacles a grower could face. Overall, this risk map aims to provide information so that informed decisions can be made.

The fact sheet is available under the "Publications" tab on the Cooperative Extension Service website at www.uaex.uada.edu.

LITTLE ROCK FARMERS’ MARKET KICKS OFF 50TH SEASON
Market continues legacy of supporting local commerce bringing fresh produce and local goods to the city
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Little Rock Farmers’ Market celebrated five decades of operations with thriving opening weekends. Market patrons were able to shop with over 60 Arkansas-based vendors at the downtown Little Rock attraction bringing an array of fresh produce and local goods to the city once again. The market will be open to the public every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Labor Day weekend at the River Market pavilions located at 400 President Clinton Ave.

Originally established on Main Street in 1974, the market moved to the newly-completed River Market pavilions in July 1996, Since its founding, the Little Rock Farmers’ Market has been a staple in the community, providing farm-fresh produce, locally prepared cottage foods and handmade arts and crafts. Today, the market is home to a diverse selection of offerings, including fresh produce vendors representing family-owned farms from across the state. 

"We are proud to welcome visitors and residents to join us downtown as the city celebrates 50 years of community, fresh produce and local goods at the Little Rock Farmers’ Market,” said Gina Gemberling, president and CEO of the LRCVB. “This milestone is a testament to the market's enduring appeal and its role as a vibrant hub of local culture and commerce."

Over the course of the market's 50 years, the LRCVB has been proud to support its commitment to accessibility for the city’s residents. Many of the participating vendors accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, which can be purchased at the Farmers’ Market Manager’s Tent. Additionally, the Little Rock Farmers’ Market is a proud participant in the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program, matching up to $20 worth of SNAP tokens to use at the market for free.

“Opening weekend was a great success, setting us up for an incredible 50th season of the Little Rock Farmer’ Market,” said Elizabeth Rush, manager of the Little Rock Farmers’ Market. “This is a central Arkansas tradition, offering the perfect atmosphere and location for families to enjoy a Saturday morning. We encourage all Arkansans to make a trip to experience the market with us this summer.” 

Guests age 21 and older can experience even more of Little Rock’s vibrant downtown scene by enjoying adult beverages while they peruse market vendors in the expanded River Market Entertainment District (RMED). For a full map of the RMED zone and details click here.

Free parking is available for Little Rock Farmers’ Market patrons in the lot behind the market and in the River Market parking deck at Second Street and River Market Avenue. Handicapped parking options are accessible from the parking lot off Ottenheimer and President Clinton Avenue.

For more information, visit littlerock.com/river-market/farmers-market/.
 

OVER 13,000 TREES GIVEN AWAY DURING FREE TREE FRIDAYS CAMPAIGN
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture's fourth annual Free Tree Fridays campaign resulted in the distribution of 13,400 trees during 27 events held across the state each Friday from March 22 through April 26. The events were hosted by the Forestry Division in the weeks between Arkansas Arbor Day, proclaimed in March by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and National Arbor Day, celebrated on the last Friday in April.

“This program is an excellent way to provide access to trees for people who may never have planted a tree, and to residents in areas like Little Rock and Wynne who lost trees in the March 2023 tornadoes” said Kristine Kimbro, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator. “Arbor Day celebrates trees, and through Free Tree Fridays, we are able to promote proper planting techniques for bare root and potted trees, as well as the importance of planting native species.”

The Arkansas Urban Forestry Council (AUFC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of urban and community trees, partnered with the Forestry Division for the campaign this year. AUFC donated six species of hardwood seedlings native to Arkansas including red mulberry, bald cypress, sycamore, Shumard oak, cherrybark oak, and river birch. 

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.

Learn more about urban and community forestry at agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/urban-community-forestry/ 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, forestry, and natural resources conservation to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while sustaining natural resources and 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.


GRIFFIN LAUDS UNANIMOUS STATE SUPREME COURT WIN UPHOLDING STATE ELECTION LAWS
Griffin: ‘Today’s unanimous decision is a total victory for Arkansas voters and the security of our elections moving forward’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement after the unanimous decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court in Thurston v. League of Women Voters, upholding four state election laws relating to absentee ballots, voter identification, and polling-place electioneering restrictions:

“Today’s unanimous decision is a total victory for Arkansas voters and the security of our elections moving forward. With the Supreme Court reversing and dismissing the 2022 injunction by former Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, Acts 249, 728, 736, and 973 of 2021—passed by the people’s elected representatives in the Arkansas General Assembly—can continue to be enforced to the benefit of Arkansans.

“I am thankful for the diligent work of Solicitor General Nicholas Bronni and Deputy Solicitor General Dylan Jacobs, which led to today’s unanimous decision. I also thank Dylan for his work to win a stay of the 2022 injunction.”

May 15, 2024

CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL MEET
The Camden City Board of Aldermen met Tuesday, May 14, 2024 AT 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers at the City of Camden Municipal Building

Mayor Charlotte Young called the meeting to order promptly at 7:00 PM. The Invocation was given by Rev. Rudolph Stennis, Pastor of New Providence Baptist Church, 2931 Smackover Hwy in Norphlet, The Invocation was followed by the Pledge Of Allegiance.

City Clerk City Clerk Donna Stewart called the roll. Aldermen Chris Aregood, Marvin Moore, Ed Winters, William McCoy, Joe Askew, Gerald Castleberry and L.E. Lindsey, were all in attendance.

The minutes of the April 09, 2024 regular meeting were presented in print. Motion was made and seconded. Motion was made and seconded to accept the minutes as corrected. The minutes were passed by with 6 votes for and Alderman Moore abstained.

The Financial Report for April was presented in print.  Motion was made and seconded. There were a couple of questions which were clarified as to what the expenditures were. ALdermen Lindsey, Aregood, Winters and Castleberry voted for. Aldermen Moore, McCoy and Askew abstained.

Mayor Young introduced Earl Portia as the new Parks Director.

Alissa Garrett, Director gave a report from the Camden Housing Authority.

Jeremy Covington, Fire Chief gave the 2023 Annual Fire Report. In 2023 the Camden Fire Department answered 946 National Fire Incident Reporting System requests for service. This was a 62% increase from the previous year. The department answered an additional 1744 request for service that did not meet the criteria for NFIRS. The addition of this data raised the total request for service to 2701 for 2023. This is up from 1703 total request.

In 2023 the Camden Fire Department responded to 185 fire calls. 35 were structure fires. The number of fire calls was up 66% from 2022 and the number of structure fires were up 16% from the previous year.

In 2023 the Camden Fire Department provided and average response time of 4 minutes and 33 seconds. In 2023 the Fire Department was able to increase their public education efforts.

The Aldermen then went into executive session. Upon return Aldermen Moore made a motion to move 27-24 to next on the agenda. Motion was seconded. Passed by unanimous vote.

TResolution No. 27-24, A Resolution Appointing An Individual To Fill The Vacancy That Was Created In Ward 3, Position 2, And To Serve The Remainder Of The Unexpired Term Of Office. Motion was made and seconded. The Resolution passed by unanimous vote.

The agenda was then amended to insert a Brady Renix into the resolution. Motion was made and seconded. Motion was made to approved the amended resolution. Motion passed by unanimous vote. Grady Renix was appointed to fill the seat in Ward 3 that was vacated last month by unanimous vote. Mayor Young administered the Pledge to Renix and he took his seat on the Council.

The Aldermen then turned their attention to Old Business beginning with Ordinance No. 05-24, An Ordinance Permitting An Official Of The Water And Sewer Commission To Be Interested In Contracts With The City Of Camden, Arkansas. This was the second reading of this Ordinance. Motion was made to amend the rules and put it up for a third and final reading. All Aldermen voted yes except for Aldermen Renix who abstained. A motion was then made to approve and seconded. There was no discussion. Passed by unanimous vote.

Ordinance No. 06-24, An Ordinance Amending Article I Of Chapter 5 Of The Camden Code Regarding Dogs; And For Other Purposes. This was the second reading of this Ordinance.

Resolution No. 20-24, A Resolution Confirming The Appointment Of Fred Lilly To The Camden Housing Authority To Fill A Vacancy. Motion was made and seconded. The Resolution passed by unanimous vote.

 Resolution No. 21-24, A Resolution Confirming The Appointment Of Beverly Golden To The Camden Housing Authority To Fill A Vacancy.  Motion was made and seconded. The Resolution passed by unanimous vote.

This brought the board to new business beginning with Ordinance No. 07-24, An Ordinance Amending Section 3, Residential, Section 4, Commercial, Section 5, Manufacturing, Section 6, Rs-4 Residential District & Pud’s, Section 7 Special Provisions, Section 14, Definitions, And Table Of Contents, Of The Zoning Ordinance For The City Of Camden, Arkansas. This was the first reading of this ordinance.

Ordinance No. 08-24, An Ordinance Amending Camden Code Sections 2-46, 2-52 And 2-53. Regarding Purchases And Contracts; And For Other Purposes. This was the first reading of this ordinance. Motion was made and seconded to put it up for a third and final reading. Aldermen Aregood, Lindsey, Winters and Castleberry voted yes. Aldermen Moore and Askew voted no. Aldermen McCoy and Renix abstained. The Ordinance will come back next month for a second reading.

Resolution No. 26-24, A Resolution Awarding The Bid For The Purchase Of Two (2) 2024 Police Utility Vehicles For The Camden Police Department. Motion was made and seconded. The Resolution passed by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 28-24, A Resolution Awarding The Bid For The Purchase Of A Truck Mounted Ulv Sprayer for the Camden Street Department. Motion was made and seconded. The Resolution passed by with all Aldermen voting yes with the exception of Moore who abstained.

Resolution No. 29-24, A Resolution Authorizing The Mayor And Clerk to execute a Consent administrative order; authorizing the payment of a civil penalty to the Arkansas Division of Environmental Quality And For Other Purposes. Motion was made and seconded. The Resolution passed by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 30-24, A Resolution Amending The Annual Operating Budget; Amending The 2024 Operating  Budget; Waiving Competitive Bidding; Authorizing Repairs To The Swimming  Pool At Carnes Park; And For Other Purposes. Motion was made and seconded. The Resolution passed by unanimous vote.

The meeting adjourned at 9:52 pm.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN CELEBRATES ‘BIG WIN’ ALLOWING STATE LAWSUIT AGAINST TIKTOK TO PROCEED
Griffin: ‘Each procedural win brings us one step closer to holding TikTok accountable for its deceptive practices’
LITTLE ROCK – Following an order today from the Circuit Court of Cleburne County denying TikTok’s effort to dismiss the state’s suit against it and its parent company, ByteDance, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

“This is a big win because it allows us to move forward with the case, where we will show how TikTok has been deceptive when it claims its platform is safe for minors.

“Each procedural win brings us one step closer to holding TikTok accountable for its deceptive practices, and it paves the way for others to do the same. I am extremely proud of the members of my staff working on this case, particularly Deputy Attorney General Alexandra Benton and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Ford, both of whom presented oral arguments against this motion back in February.”

The Arkansas Office of Attorney General sued TikTok and ByteDance last year for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, asserting that TikTok has misled the public about the content available to minors on its platform and about the platform’s safety and addictiveness.

 

COTTON, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO REPEAL TAX ON CERTAIN FIREARM PURCHASES
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced the Repealing Illegal Freedom and Liberty Excises (RIFLE) Act, legislation that would remove a burdensome tax imposed on firearms regulated under the National Firearms Act.

Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), Pete Ricketts (R-Nebraska), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Rick Scott (R-Florida) are co-sponsors of the legislation. Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (Iowa-02) introduced companion legislation in the House.

“Law-abiding Americans who exercise their Second Amendment rights should not be subject to unnecessary taxes and restrictions preventing them from doing so. Passed into law in 1934, the National Firearms Act needs to be amended. Our legislation will remove the red tape that places an undue financial burden on would-be gun owners,” said Senator Cotton.

“The federal government should not be placing financial barriers on the inalienable rights of Americans. This unconstitutional tax on certain firearm purchases is a direct violation of the Second Amendment and must be repealed. As the Biden Administration and Democrats push proposals that unfairly target law-abiding gun owners, I will continue to stand up for Iowans’ right to keep and bear arms,” said Congresswoman Hinson.

Background:
The 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA) regulates short-barreled shotguns and rifles, fully automatic firearms, suppressors, and a catchall category of explosives. In addition to background checks and registration, NFA regulated items have a $200 tax.

The ATF has acknowledged the tax was intended “to curtail, if not prohibit, transactions” of firearms. The $200 tax, unchanged since 1934, is equivalent to $4,648 in today’s dollars.

Since 2018, ownership of NFA regulated items have grown by more than 250% as more sportsmen, shooters and firearm enthusiasts exercise their Second Amendment right.

The RIFLE Act does not modify the current checks and registration; it solely removes the federally mandated financial burden on law-abiding gun owners.

The legislation is endorsed by the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.


WESTERMAN VOTES TO IMPROVE AVIATION SAFETY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, bipartisan legislation that will reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years and improve American aviation safety and infrastructure. Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) released the following statement:

"The FAA Reauthorization will make timely and strategic investments to bolster aviation safety and infrastructure, support the aviation workforce, and drive economic growth. Arkansas is on track to be a leader in aviation, and this legislation is a significant step in getting us there. As a member of the Aviation subcommittee, I was proud to play a role in passing this historically bipartisan bill, and I look forward to the President signing it into law expeditiously."

BACKGROUND:

Westerman ensured the inclusion of provisions in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 that will:

Grow the state of Arkansas' aviation workforce by reauthorizing funding for the Aviation Workforce Development (AWD) program, which will educate the next generation of aviation professionals.

Improve radio communications at the Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport. 

Support the Unmanned Aircraft System Collegiate Training Initiative at the University of Arkansas to prepare students for careers in the emerging field of drone aviation.

Improve Arkansas' airport infrastructure by providing $23 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding to the state of Arkansas for airport capital improvement projects. Arkansas has 76 airports that are eligible for AIP funding.

Ensure data privacy and safety of General Aviation (GA) aircraft, crew, and passengers by allowing GA aircraft to ask the FAA to block the plane's aircraft codes from the public.

Ensure the safety of manned aircraft is considered when the FAA proposed rules for Beyond Visual Line of Site (BVLOS) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to ensure the safety of pilots and passengers on manned aircraft.

Westerman serves as a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Aviation.

May 14, 2024

EAST ARKANSAS SATURATION YIELDS GUNS, DRUGS, AND STOLEN CARS 
May 14, 2024
During a 33-hour saturation of Crittenden County, Arkansas State Police (ASP) issued 372 citations and arrested 23 individuals on various charges, including felony charges for possession of guns, drugs, DWI, and fleeing.

On Thursday, May 9, and Friday, May 10, 2024, the ASP’s Highway Patrol Division conducted a joint law enforcement operation with West Memphis Police Department, Marion Police Department, and the Cross County Sheriff's Office supporting the initiative.  

ASP seized 11 firearms, recovered two stolen vehicles, and confiscated a variety of illegal drugs, including Fentanyl, prescription drugs, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, and Marijuana.
During the operation, Troopers made a total of 11 arrests for individuals Driving While Intoxicated. In addition to these arrests, Troopers issued 29 citations for speeding, 7 for safety belt violations, and 7 for child restraint violations. There were a total of five vehicle pursuits during the saturation. ASP issued 40 hazardous citations along with 201 non-hazardous citations.  Law enforcement made 795 contacts with individuals. 

"The community openly expressed their appreciation for our proactive presence, which significantly enhanced the safety of the streets. I am immensely proud of our dedicated team and the invaluable collaboration with our regional law enforcement partners," said ASP Captain Philip Hydron, Troop D Commander.

ASP Col. Mike Hagar added, "During those two days in East Arkansas, ASP played a critical role in protecting human life and property. The people of Arkansas look to law enforcement to carry out special operations like these to maintain the peace and safety of the communities we are dedicated to serving."

SANDERS, COMMERCE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCE $20M TO GROW STATE'S NURSING PIPELINE
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 14, 2024) – On Monday, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Secretary Hugh McDonald, and Cody Waits, Director of Arkansas Workforce Connections, announced more than $20 million in training grants to support the development of the nursing profession in Arkansas. Through the Arkansas Linking Industry to Growing Nurses (ALIGN) Program, Arkansas Office of Skills Development (OSD) has awarded $20.4 million to 19 Arkansas two- and four-year colleges and universities. The ALIGN Program is designed to upskill nursing professionals, expand nursing apprenticeship programs, and increase nurse educator recruitment and retention. 

“As Governor, one of my biggest priorities is preparing young Arkansans for the careers of the future. Healthcare and nursing is one of our primary areas of focus,” said Governor Sanders. “The 19 2- and 4-year colleges and universities receiving grants today train some of the best nurses in America. Each of them will help us build Arkansas’ next generation of healthcare professionals.”

“Nurses play a critical role in delivering quality healthcare in our state. It is essential that we have qualified nursing professionals to meet Arkansans’ healthcare needs today and in the future,” said Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald. “Increasing educational opportunities and apprenticeships is vital for developing the nursing pipeline in Arkansas, and the ALIGN Program will provide funding to support the growth of our state’s nursing field.”

Public and private post-secondary educational institutions in Arkansas providing LPN, RN, and BSN degrees were eligible to apply for the ALIGN grant funding. All applicants were required to provide a healthcare partner contribution with a two-to-one match by the state for each dollar contributed by the healthcare partner. 

Funding for the ALIGN grants is through the America Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Eligible funding usage includes professional upskilling, expanding nursing apprenticeship, increasing nurse educator recruitment and retention, expanding clinical rotations, increasing nursing program capacity, tuition reimbursement, equipment purchasing, stimulations centers, and expansion of labs. 

All ALIGN award funding must be expended by December 31, 2026.


COTTON, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO REPEAL BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S ARMS EMBARGO ON ISRAEL
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced the Israel Security Assistance Support Act, legislation that would force the Biden administration to send critical weapons to Israel. The bill comes after President Biden announced that his administration would withhold certain weapons from Israel if it conducted a full-scale ground invasion of Rafah in Gaza.

Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Katie Britt (R-Alabama), Ted Budd (R-North Carolina), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Pete Ricketts (R-Nebraska), Rick Scott (R-Florida), and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) are co-sponsors of the legislation. Congressman Ken Calvert (California-41) introduced companion legislation in the House.

“President Biden’s decision to impose a de facto arms embargo on Israel is a betrayal of one of our most important allies as it fights an existential war for survival. This bill will reverse Joe Biden’s arms embargo and withhold the salaries of officials who implement it,” said Senator Cotton.

“President Biden’s decision to withhold a portion of the Israel security aid just passed by an overwhelming and bipartisan majority of Congress projects the very weakness that has become a trademark of his presidency. If President Biden will not release these weapons, Congress must act to enforce the United States’ support for Israel in its efforts to eliminate Hamas. I thank Senator Cotton for his steadfast support for Israel and introduction of The Israel Security Assistance Support Act in the Senate,” said Congressman Calvert.

The Israel Security Assistance Support Act would:
Force the Biden administration to complete the delivery of weapons to Israel.
Cancel the salaries of any Biden administration official at the Department of Defense or Department of State who take any action to withhold the delivery of weapons to Israel.

 

May 13, 2024

ACCIDENTAL DROWNING OCCURS IN OUACHITA COUNTY ON MOTHER’S DAY
On May 12, 2024 just after 11:00 AM,  Deputy Alec Faulkner of the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office, responded to 3076 Roseman Road in reference to a drowning. Deputy Faulkner was met by Neeley Robbins who directed him to an overturned boat in the middle of a pond at the residence. Robbins said two men (John Hailey and Jimmy Stanley) were fishing in the boat when it overturned and one of the men did not come back up.

Deputy Faulkner relocated to where Jimmy was. He stated that he and John were fishing in the boat and were moving to fish along the bank on the southern side of the of the lake. He said the boat began to rock and just flipped over as they were moving. He told the Officer that he surfaced and swam to shore. When he turned around he saw John clinging to the side of the boat. He said he called for help and his brother Jerry Stanley came over to help him. Jimmy said he and Jerry went out into the water again in an attempt to help John to shore. While attempting to get John to shore, he began to go under John was unable to swim. Jimmy said he and Jerry had to drag John back up to the surface as he kept going down under. He told me this happened twice and after the second time they could not find John after he went down.

Jerry said he saw the boat flip over and rushed over to help. He said he and Jimmy tried to get John back to the bank and that he was hanging on the side of the boat. He told me that on the way back to the bank with John he went down and didn't come back up.

Camden Fire Department responded to the scene and launched their boat. They used drags to locate John who was approximately 15 yards off of shore. John was located at approximately 12:55 PM by Camden Fire and was subsequently brought to shore where he was transferred into the Coroner's possession.

 

CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL TO MEET
The Camden City Board of Aldermen will meet Tuesday, May 14, 2024 AT 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers at the City of Camden Municipal Building

The Agenda is as follows:
A. Call To Order
 B.  Invocation – Rev. Rudolph Stennis, Pastor –  New Providence Baptist Church, 2931 Smackover Hwy, Norphlet, Ar 71759
C. Pledge Of Allegiance
E. Approval Of Minutes
      1. Minutes Of Regular Scheduled Meeting, April 9, 2024
F.  Acceptance Of Financial Report
      1. Financial Report For April  2024
G.  Audience Participation
H.  Mayor’s Report    
       1. Alissa Garrett, Director - Camden Housing Authority”
        2.   Jeremy Covington, Fire Chief – Annual Report
I. Old Business         
      1. Ordinance No. 05-24, An Ordinance Permitting An Official Of The Water And Sewer Commission To Be Interested In Contracts With The City Of Camden, Arkansas. (Second Reading)
      2. Ordinance No. 06-24, An Ordinance Amending Article Ii Of Chapter 5 Of The Camden Code Regarding Dogs; And For Other Purposes. (Second Reading).
      3. Resolution No. 20-24, A Resolution Confirming The Appointment Of Fred Lilly To The Camden Housing Authority To Fill A Vacancy.
      5.   Resolution No. 21-04, A Resolution Confirming The Appointment Of Beverly Golden To The Camden Housing Authority To Fill A Vacancy.       

 J.  New Business
      1. Ordinance No. 07-24, An Ordinance Amending Section 3, Residential, Section 4, Commercial, Section 5, Manufacturing, Section 6, Rs-4 Residential District & Pud’s, Section 7 Special Provisions, Section 14, Definitions, And Table Of Contents, Of The Zoning Ordinance For The City Of Camden, Arkansas
      2. Ordinance No. 08-24, An Ordinance Amending Camden Code Sections 2-46, 2-52 And 2-53. Regarding Purchases And Contracts; And For Other Purposes.
      3. Resolution No. 26-04, A Resolution Awarding The Bid For The Purchase Of Two (2) 2024 Police Utility Vehicles For The Camden Police Department.
      4. Resolution No. 27-24, A Resolution Appointing An Individual To Fill The Vacancy That Was Created In Ward 3, Position 2, And To Serve The Remainder Of The Unexpired Term Of Office.
      5. Resolution No. 28-24, A Resolution Awarding The Bid For The Purchase Of A Truck Mounted Ulv Sprayer ForThe Camden Street Department.
      6. Resolution No. 29-24, A Resolution Authorizing The Mayor And Clerk To Execute A Consent   And For Other Purposes.
      7. Resolution No. 30-24, A Resolution Amending The Annual Operating Budget; Amending The 2024 Operating  Budget; Waiving Competitive Bidding; Authorizing Repairs To The Swimming  Pool At Carnes Park; And For Other Purposes.
K. Other Business
L.  Adjournment

 

FILING FOR GENERAL ELECTION BEGINS
It’s time to file if you are planning to run for any Municipal Offices, or the Annual School Election including school board members that run in November for Bearden and Harmony Grove Schools.

Filing for Municipal Offices go from now through July 31st at noon. Those running for 1st class city offices must have 30 signatures from registered voters that live in their respective Ward. Those running for 2nd class city offices must have 10 signatures from registered voters living in their respective ward.

Call Melissa Vaughan at 870-837-2220 for more information.
 

EVENT CENTER AT FAIRVIEW PARK TO HOST SUMMER CAMPS
Special Needs” Theatre Camp
Matilda!
June 10th-14th  9:00 am – Noon
Camp Actors - 3rd – 12th grades
Mentors - 5th – 12th grades
Performance: Friday, June 14 6pm
Tuition: Camper - $50 Mentor - $25

The Events Center is fortunate to have Lynn Gunter, with her wealth of experience from
SAAC in El Dorado, serve as director for the very first Special Needs Theatre
Camp. New to the Events Center, but not to her, Lynn has directed over 30 productions for
children and teens since 2013, including four special needs projects.

SAU Professor Jenny Louden will serve as assistant director, bringing yet another
level of commitment and experience to theatre productions from across south
Arkansas. Additional therapy assistants and volunteers will ensure our actors and
their families are provided with the greatest care possible. Each actor will be
paired with a peer mentor, working in tandem to perfect their performances in
Friday night’s production of Matilda. This camp has a limited enrollment so apply
soon!

Special Needs Theatre Camp is supported in part by the Arkansas Arts Council Division of the
Department of Arkansas Heritage and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pryce Robertson
Autism Foundation, the Camden A&P Commission, as well as private donations.

Musical Theatre Dance Camp
June 10th – 14th 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Dancers - 6th – 12th grades
Performance: Friday, June 14th,  6:00 pm
Tuition: $50
Joining the Event Center for a second year, Rebecca Gunter Carpenter brings another toe-
tapping Musical Dance Camp to the Events Center! A frequent dance Instructor at
SAAC in El Dorado, Rebecca has choreographed and taught four theatre dance
camps, one theatre dance class, five theatrical productions and numerous ballet
classes. The Dance Camp theme will complement the storyline of the Matilda
production and enhance the presentation. With each dancer portraying a role,
songs from Matilda will be chosen to tell the story of the play in dance for the
Friday night performance. This class is designed for 6th graders – graduating
seniors.
Partial funding provided by the Arkansas Arts Council, the Camden A&;P Commission, and
private donations.

Musical Youth Theatre Camp
Matilda!
June 17th – 21st 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
3rd – 12th grade
Performance: Friday, June 21st, 6pm
Tuition: $50
Lynn Gunter returns for a second week as director for our Musical Youth Theatre
Camp. The plot will be extended from the first camp to perform an original re-
scripting/improvisation of the classic book Matilda, by Roald Dahl. During this
presentation, the cast will add singing to some of the dances learned in Dance
Camp.

Support, in part, has been provided by the Arkansas Arts Council, the Camden A&P
Commission, and individual donations.

2024 Art Camp – June 24th-28th
Art From Around the World
9:00 am – 11:30 am Ages 5 – 9
1:00 pm – 3:30 pm Ages 10+
Tuition: $50
Art Camp Director Ashley Kriehn will offer Campers instruction in how to create Folk Art inspired works through various methods, and will teach some of the fineart techniques utilized by various cultures from  around the world. Daily works of art will result in a collection of creations by each camper, to be displayed at the Friends and Family Showcase at 5pm on Friday, June 28. Funding, in part, is provided by Ouachita Valley   Foundation and private donations.

Visit the Events Center at Fairview Park Facebook page to complete registration and pay tuition online (PayPal, debit or credit card accepted) or email theeventscenter37@gmail.com. For more information call or text 870-510-
9332.

 

USDA COMMODITIES DISTRIBUTION IN OUACHITA AND CALHOUN COUNTIES MAY 15 AND 16, 2024 IN OUACHITA AND CALHOUN COUNTY
Camden –Central Arkansas Development Council will distribute USDA Commodities in Ouachita County Wednesday, May 15, and Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Camden.  Distribution will begin at 9 am.  

Food Items May Include:
UHT Milk, Grape Juice, Applesauce, Dried Cherries, Vegetable Soup, Tomato Soup, Cream of Chicken Soup, Great Northern Beans, Black Beans, Peanut Butter, Walnuts, Macaroni, Rice, Beef Stew, Can Chicken,  Salmon

In Ouachita County, commodities will be distributed at the following location:
Ouachita County: CARNES PARK, Carnes Park Dr, Camden

All customers receiving commodities must present identification and must meet income guidelines.
 

CLICK IT OR TICKET CAMPAIGN REMINDS DRIVERS: BUCKLE UP–SEAT BELTS SAVE LIVES
May 13, 2024
Arkansas state and local enforcement officers are joining the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in urging drivers to buckle up ahead of the national Click It or Ticket high-visibility seat belt enforcement effort. This campaign coincides with the Memorial Day holiday, running from May 20 to June 2, 2024.

“We want seat belt use to be an automatic habit for drivers and passengers alike,” said Arkansas Public Safety Secretary Colonel Mike Hagar. “It’s not just a safe thing to do — it’s the law. During the Click It or Ticket campaign, the law enforcement community will be working to ensure the message gets out to drivers and passengers. Injuries and lost lives can be prevented by simply wearing a seat belt.”

In 2023, the seat belt use rate in Arkansas was 79.7%, which is well below the national seat belt use rate of 91.9%. The other 20.3% of Arkansas motorists still need to be reminded that seat belts save lives. Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night. NHTSA data from 2022 shows that nationally a higher number of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities happen at night (6,252) than during the day (4,949). Seat belt use also differs among females and males. Men make up the majority of those killed in traffic crashes. Of the males killed in crashes in 2022, more than half (54%) were unrestrained. For females killed in crashes, 41% were not buckled up.

No matter who you are, the type of vehicle you’re driving, or the type of road you’re driving on, the best way to stay safe in case of a crash is to wear your seat belt. Unfortunately, many families are suffering because their loved ones refused to follow this simple step. Remember to buckle up: Click It, Don’t Risk It. Seat Belts Save Lives.

For more information on the Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization, please visit NHTSA.gov/ClickIt or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8127, and go to https://www.tzdarkansas.org/ to learn about Arkansas’ Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities. 

TWO DEAD IN LEE COUNTY PLANE CRASH
May 13, 2024
MARIANNA, Ark.— On Sunday, May 12, 2024, at around 9 p.m., the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) dispatch received a report of a possible plane crash in Lee County. According to witnesses, the privately-owned plane was traveling from Florida to the Batesville airport. At around 8 p.m., family members of the victims had not heard from them and contacted the West Helena Police Department (WHPD) for assistance.

At around 9:30 p.m., first responders located a single-engine plane in a field approximately 12 miles southeast of the city limits of Marianna. Responders found two people inside the plane who were deceased from the crash. There were no other passengers aboard the aircraft.

The Arkansas State Police (ASP) has handed over the investigation to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which will investigate the cause of the crash.

May 09, 2024

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN ANNOUNCES CONVICTION IN ELDER ABUSE CASE
Griffin: ‘I will continue to use all the resources I have to prosecute those who exploit elder Arkansans under their care’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement announcing the conviction of Sarah Mazander, 39, of Judsonia after she pleaded guilty in White County Circuit Court to the charge of Abuse of an Endangered/Impaired Person, a Class C Felony:

“I am grateful for the diligence of everyone in my office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, especially Assistant Attorney General Gabby Davis-Jones, who helped to secure the negotiated plea leading to conviction. I also thank the Searcy Police Department and 17th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Reed McCoy for their assistance and cooperation.

“Protecting our state’s vulnerable takes a team effort, and I will continue to use all the resources I have to prosecute those who exploit elder Arkansans under their care.”

Mazander obtained the debit card information of a resident at Providence PCC, a long-term care facility in Searcy. She used that information to transfer money to her personal bank account using CashApp.

Mazander was sentenced to five years suspended imposition of sentence and 30 days in jail. She was also fined $500 plus court costs, and payment of restitution in the amount of $239.

 

WESTERMAN DELIVERS REMARKS AT UNVEILING OF DAISY BATES STATUE IN U.S. CAPITOL
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) delivered remarks at the unveiling of a statue of civil rights activist and journalist Daisy Bates in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

Congressman Westerman's remarks, as delivered:

“Imagine, as an eight-year-old girl, you learn that years before, your mother had been raped, murdered, and dumped in a pond. That was young Daisy Gatson Bates’ story in the small town of Huttig, Arkansas, not far from the Louisiana line.

On top of that, imagine you learn the white men who did this to your black mother were never brought to justice - never held accountable – how would you feel?

Fifty-four years later, in an interview, she said, ‘I was so tight inside, there was so much hate. And I think it started then without me knowing it. It prepared me, it gave me the strength to carry this out.’

Fortunately, Daisy Bates took the advice of her dying adopted father and channeled her anger and hate into a lifelong motivation to make a difference, to seek justice in a world where there was injustice.

Ben Victor, the sculptor of the statue, when asked, ‘what stands out to you most about Daisy Bates?’ He replied, ‘her courage really stands out to me. I’ve depicted her in motion because she was a woman with a cause. She is smiling, showing her optimism in the face of great adversity. And of course, her role as a journalist and publisher are highlighted by the pen and notepad in her right hand and the newspaper in the left.’

Daisy bates was a courageous woman. She often spoke about being afraid. Afraid when rocks were being thrown through her window. Afraid that a bomb or assassination could happen. Afraid when she told the Little Rock Nine, quote ‘one of us might die in this fight. And I said to them, if they kill me, you would have to go on. If I die, don’t you stop.’

We know that courage does not mean an absence of fear. But true courage, the example of courage Daisy Bates gave us all, is to face our fear, to overcome it, and to do the right thing. What a remarkable story the great state of Arkansas has chosen to tell by placing this beautiful statue, the statue of Daisy Bates, here in our nation’s Capitol, in this sacred hall.

Hopefully, as her story is told over, and over again, it will be a small semblance of the justice she so faithfully sought. Not just justice for herself, but justice for all.

It is a day we can be proud to honor one of our own. It is a day to be proud to be an Arkansan. Thank you.”


ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN ANNOUNCES $104,246 SETTLEMENT WITH WIRELESS CARRIERS OVER DECEPTIVE AND MISLEADING ADVERTISING PRACTICES
Griffin: ‘[I]t is imperative that wireless companies are straightforward and honest in their advertising practices’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement announcing Arkansas will receive $104,246.46 as part of a $10.25 million, 50-jurisdiction settlement with AT&T, Cricket Wireless, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless, and TracFone Wireless resolving state attorneys general investigations into the wireless carriers’ deceptive and misleading advertising practices:

“Cell phones are important to the daily lives of Arkansans, and it is imperative that wireless companies are straightforward and honest in their advertising practices. Consumer protection is a core mission of my office, and it remains one of my top priorities. I want to thank my Public Protection Division for its work on securing this settlement, especially Deputy Attorney General Chuck Harder and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Ford.”

In the settlement, Arkansas will receive $49,017.04 from T-Mobile USA, $30,125.14 from Verizon Wireless, and $25,104.28 from AT&T.

Under the terms of the settlement, wireless carriers will be required to:

Ensure that all future advertisements and representations are truthful, accurate, and not misleading;

Refer in marketing to “unlimited” mobile data plans only when such plans do not set any numerical limits on the quantity of data allowed during a billing cycle and clearly and conspicuously disclose any restrictions on data speed, as well as the triggers of such restrictions;

Offer to pay for consumers to “switch” carriers only when they clearly and conspicuously disclose the type of fees and amounts that they will pay consumers, the form and schedule that such payment will take, and all material requirements that consumers must satisfy in order to qualify for and receive such payment;

Offer wireless devices or services for “free” or similar terms only when they disclose clearly and conspicuously all material terms and conditions that the consumer must meet in order to receive the “free” devices or services; 

Make offers to lease wireless devices only when the company makes clear that the consumer will be entering into a lease agreement; 

Make representations that a consumer will save money by purchasing its products or services only when it has a reasonable basis to do so based on comparisons with the prices of comparable goods or services of other providers, or where any material differences between those goods or services are clearly and conspicuously disclosed;

Appoint a dedicated employee to work with the attorneys general to address ordinary complaints filed by consumers; and

Train its customer service representatives who speak with consumers to comply with these terms and implement and enforce a program to ensure compliance with these terms.
 
To read the settlement with AT&T and Cricket Wireless, click here.
To read the settlement with T-Mobile USA, click here.
To read the settlement with Verizon Wireless and TracFone Wireless, click here.

May 08, 2024

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN PRAISES LEARNS ACT DECISION
Griffin: ‘Today’s decision ratifies what I've said all along’
LITTLE ROCK – Following a decision in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in a lawsuit challenging a single section of the LEARNS Act, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision confirms what I’ve said all along. Arkansas law doesn’t prohibit teaching the history of segregation, the civil rights movement, or slavery. I’m pleased that the District Court entirely rejected the Plaintiffs’ vagueness claims. And the very limited injunction merely prohibits doing what Arkansas was never doing in the first place. I look forward to continuing our enforcement of the statute as written rather than as Plaintiffs would choose to wrongly interpret it.”


ARKANSAS STATE POLICE SEIZE OVER 400 POUNDS OF ILLEGAL MARIJUANA DURING TRAFFIC STOP IN CONWAY CO.
May 8, 2024
MORRILTON, Ark. – On Monday, May 6, 2024, around 10 p.m., Arkansas State Police (ASP) stopped a white rental box truck on Interstate 40 eastbound at the 109-mile marker in Conway County for a traffic violation. 

During a search of the truck's cargo area, Troopers found 21 boxes containing individually vacuum-sealed packages of illegal marijuana, totaling 434 pounds.

ASP arrested the driver, Seth Molen, 44, of Marietta, Georgia, and transported him to the Conway County Detention Center. Molen is charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. 

Molen was traveling from Oklahoma to Atlanta, Georgia. 

 

PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT GRANTS ATTORNEY GENERAL’S MOTION, DISMISSES BLOGGER’S LAWSUIT AGAINST GOVERNOR
Griffin: ‘This was the proper outcome for this baseless case’
LITTLE ROCK – Following the dismissal of attorney and blogger Matt Campbell’s lawsuit against Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders today by the Pulaski County Circuit Court, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

“This was the proper outcome for this baseless case after Mr. Campbell failed to serve process within 120 days of filing the complaint—the second time this year he has had a case dismissed for failure to serve process. It’s unfortunate that cases like this waste taxpayer dollars and clog up our judicial system.”

Campbell sued Governor Sanders last year over alleged violations of Arkansas’s Freedom of Information Act. A Pulaski County Circuit Court judge today granted a motion to dismiss made by the Office of the Attorney General, which was defending Governor Sanders in the case.


COTTON, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO OVERHAUL WORKFORCE EDUCATION
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced the American Workforce Act, legislation that would overhaul workforce education. Funding from the bill—paid for in part by taxing wealthy private college endowments—would provide training vouchers to pay for education programs designed by employers.

Senator J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) is co-sponsoring the legislation. Congressman Max Miller (Ohio-07) is introducing companion legislation in the House.

“For decades, the federal government has spent billions of dollars propping up bloated colleges that serve a minority of our citizens—and recently, have let antisemitic and anti-American ideas flourish. Meanwhile, the majority of Americans who don’t go to college are left behind. In fact, the federal government spends eight times more on college for the few than it does on job training for the many. My bill will right that wrong by investing heavily in a new workforce education strategy to help working Americans get ahead,” said Senator Cotton.

“In today's world, it's clear that the government's hefty investment in higher education hasn't really set up our next generation for success. Just look at our college campuses across America today. Our education system leaves behind Americans who want to head directly into the workforce pursuing careers that don’t require a college degree. It's high time we fix this by focusing on giving all American workers all the tools they need to grow our workforce, boost the economy, and secure a bright future. My bill is all about shaking up the education system to give a leg up to the folks who've been overlooked for too long while finally bridging the gap between,” said Congressman Miller.

The American Workforce Act would:
Create a $9,000 federal voucher available to prospective “trainees,” defined as any citizen with a high school degree/GED, but without a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Offer an additional $1,000 bonus to employers for each trainee that is hired after completion of the workforce training program.
Require participating employers to provide training for positions paid at least 80% of the local median household income.
Allow the voucher to subsidize employer-led workforce training that offers a full time, paid position combing on-the-job experience and skilled workforce training.
Give employers wide flexibility to build their own training programs or delegate the training to a valid third-party entity, such as a trade association, community college, high school, non-profit, or union.
Require E-Verify at participating employers.
Levy a one percent tax on the fair market value of endowments that 1) have more than 500 full-time enrolled students, 2) have endowments worth more than $2.5 billion and $500,000 per full-time enrolled student, 3) do not have a religious mission.

May 07, 2024

SAAC ANNOUNCES 2024-2025 THEATRE SEASON
Make no “mistake” about it. The 2024-2025 South Arkansas Arts Center’s slate of theatrical productions is sure to entertain and delight audiences both young and old.  On May 6, SAAC’s theatre committee announced its lineup of titles for the 2024-2025 theatre season during their announcement party “A Season of Mistakes and Acceptance” held on the SAAC stage.

 “The play reading committee had their work cut out for them as they looked at over 150 different play options. We knew we wanted to throw things back a little with one of the choices while punching into the future with the other two picks – a little past mixed with a little future.” said theatre committee chair Rhett Davis. “The shows are a lot of fun, and I think audiences will be delighted by the three selections. The stories are all about overcoming mistakes and finding acceptance in either admitting wrongdoings or pushing forward to finding a better solution.”

 After a 9-year hiatus, SAAC is bringing back a Christmas production in December, 2024 with “A Christmas Carol,” based on the classic novel written by Charles Dickens. Sponsored by Nexans Amercable and Southern Bancorp, “A Christmas Carol” is a classic Christmas story with an important message about the true wealth of love. A mean-spirited, miserly old man named Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley as well as by the spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. During this process, Scrooge transforms into a kinder, gentler man.

 In April of 2025, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields, will be gracing the SAAC stage. This play is a comedy play about a theater production that goes horribly wrong. As the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempts to put on a murder mystery play, everything that can go awry does. The inept cast and crew's attempts to salvage the show lead to more chaos and laughter as the play derails in the most absurd and ridiculous ways. This production is presented by arrangement with Dramatist Play Service under license from Mischief Worldwide Ltd. and is sponsored by Murphy Pitard Jewelers and All About Flowers.

 To round out the 2024-2025 season, the hit Broadway musical “Hairspray” will make an appearance on the SAAC stage in July, 2025 through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). Sponsored by Murphy USA, "Hairspray" follows the story of 1960s teenager Tracy Turnblad who dreams of dancing on a popular television dance program but faces discrimination due to her size. However, Tracy's passion and talent catches the attention of the show's host and she becomes an overnight sensation. Using her newfound platform, Tracy advocates for racial integration on the show, challenging the status quo and fighting against discrimination and segregation. Along the way, Tracy falls in love as well as befriends several characters who support her cause. With its catchy songs, energetic dance numbers, and heartwarming story of acceptance and inclusivity, "Hairspray" ultimately delivers a message of unity and the importance of standing up for what is right.

For more information about the upcoming theater season, please visit the SAAC website at www.saac-arts.org or call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.


ATTORNEYS GENERAL GRIFFIN AND BAILEY FILE TITLE IX SUIT ON BEHALF OF SIX STATES ALONGSIDE ARKANSAS HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE
 
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin and Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey today issued the following statements after filing suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on behalf of four other state attorneys general alongside an Arkansas high school athlete against the U.S. Department of Education over its new rule interpreting Title IX:

“The overwhelming majority of Americans see the Biden administration’s rule change for what it is: a ridiculous, nonsensical and illegal election-year move that few can comprehend or support. It’s outrageous. 

“Congress enacted Title IX to protect and promote opportunities for women and girls in education and sports. For the last half century, that’s what it has done. But President Biden and his Department of Education now want to radically reinterpret Title IX and recast it as a rule about gender identity.

“The rule we’re challenging today requires schools and universities to allow men onto women and girls’ sports teams. It robs young female athletes of opportunities. It forces schools and universities to allow men into women and girls locker rooms, restrooms, and shower facilities. It compels teachers, administrators, and even fellow students to use an individual’s preferred pronouns. And it subjects anyone who disagrees with President Biden’s view of sex to investigation and possible sanction.  

“That contravenes Title IX’s plain language, and it violates the Constitution. That’s why we’re challenging it, and it’s also why we’re confident the federal courts will set aside this unlawful regulation. I am proud to stand with my fellow attorneys general and one of my constituents against President Biden’s latest attempt to push forward by fiat what Congress never passed into law and to defend the laws we’ve passed in Arkansas to protect female athletes.”

Attorney General Bailey added:
“Joe Biden is once again exceeding his constitutional authority, this time to put a radical transgender ideology ahead of the safety of women and girls. As the father of a young daughter, I take this personally. The Biden Administration has threatened to hold federal funding hostage from any institution who rejects this unconstitutional and sexist rule. I’m filing suit because I will not allow federal bureaucrats to subject Missouri girls to unsafe conditions in order to push a radical transgender ideology.”

The suit, filed by the attorneys general of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and an Arkansas high school athlete asks the court to stay the rule; grant a preliminary injunction preventing the rule’s implementation; enter a judgment that the Department of Education’s interpretation is unlawful; and vacate the rule.


ARKANSAS SCHOOL BREAKFAST MONTH CHALLENGE 2024 WINNERS ANNOUNCED
LITTLE ROCK, AR (May 6, 2024) – The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance’s No Kid Hungry Arkansas campaign is pleased to announce winners of the 2024 School Breakfast Month Challenge. We want to recognize the determined efforts of these schools and all Arkansas school nutrition teams across the state, who work hard to provide nutritious meals to their students.

For over a decade, the Alliance has partnered with the Arkansas Governor’s office and key child health and education advocates to proclaim March as School Breakfast Month and challenge school districts to increase school breakfast participation. According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), school breakfast leads to reduced food insecurity, improved student health, and better attendance and behavior in the classroom. “It’s important to encourage school nutrition teams who are working hard to provide the most nutritious foods in creative ways,” said Vivian Nicholson, Breakfast Program Director for the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. “It’s no secret that school breakfast equals success and we want to recognize schools that go the extra mile,” said Nicholson.

This year, we encouraged school districts to participate in the Challenge in one or more of these award categories: Largest Increase in breakfast participation, most innovative School Breakfast Month promotion, and start or restart Breakfast After the Bell. Participating schools were eligible to win dollars for their child nutrition programs.

Winners of the 2024 School Breakfast Month Challenge are:
Largest Increase in Breakfast Participation (comparing March 2023 to March 2024):
First Prize: North Little Rock School District
Second Prize: Monticello School District
Third Prize: Paris School District

Most Innovative School Breakfast Month Promotion:  Lonoke School District

Start or Restart Breakfast After the Bell: Sheridan School District

We appreciate our partners at the Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Child Nutrition Unit and the Arkansas School Nutrition Association for their support. ###

About the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance: The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is a collaborative statewide voice advancing equitable solutions to hunger. Our vision is to create a hunger free Arkansas. Founding members include the Arkansas Foodbank in Little Rock, Food Bank of North Central Arkansas in Mountain Home, Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas in Jonesboro, Harvest Regional Food Bank in Texarkana, Northwest Arkansas Food Bank in Springdale, and River Valley Regional Food Bank in Fort Smith. We invite you to visit ARHungerAlliance.org for details on hunger relief programs, donor, and volunteer opportunities.

May 06, 2024

LOCAL MAN LOSES LIFE IN FATAL CRASH
Richard Allen Murry Jr., 56, of Camden lost his life after an accident Friday night a little after 10:00 PM.  Murray was on a Kawaski Bayou and was traveling south in the southbound lane near 2395 Highway 376.  A 2019 Chevrolet was traveling South on Highway 376. The front of the Chevrolet struck the right side of the Kawaski and both vehicles came to rest on the north side of the road.

 

REAP-TAG - RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM FOR RURAL SMALL BUSINESSES OR FARMERS
The purpose of the REAP TAG Program is to enable Applicants to provide technical assistance to Agricultural Producers and Rural Small Businesses applying to REAP, with priority for applications assisting at least two or more of the following types of REAP Applicants: (a) Agricultural Producers, (b) REAP applicants pursuing projects located in disadvantaged or distressed communities, (c) Tribal entities, (d) REAP Applicants pursuing projects using Underutilized Technologies, and (e) REAP...

How it works:
You Decide to Do an Energy Efficient or Renewable Energy Project
Under the REAP Grant, there are many projects that help improve energy ( ex. Solar Panels, Grain Dryer Replacements, Diesel to Electric Irrigation Replacement, HVAC Replacement, and more)
You Come to EIM, LLC to Write Your REAP Grant
If you meet a certain criteria, we will write your grant completely free of charge
We Submit your Application to the USDA
Once they review your application, you could potentially have the grant cover up to 50% of eligible costs

When: May 9th from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Where: Ouachita Partners for Economic Development at 570 Ben Lane, Camden, AR 71701
Who to Contact: Dotty Harris, Office Manager at Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development at oped@att.net, at (870) 836 -221Ox101, or (870) 703-8240 or Janet Everly at info@eimgrants.com or (317) 228 -0134

Light Refreshments Will be Included!

 
WEST MEMPHIS BANK ROBBERY SUSPECT APPREHENDED AFTER FOOT CHA SE
May 3, 2024
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – At 11:43 a.m. on Friday, May 3, 2024, the West Memphis Police Department (WMPD) notified Arkansas State Police (ASP) that they were pursuing a stolen Black Infinity heading east on Interstate 55. The driver was a suspect in an armed bank robbery that took place minutes earlier on Shoppingway Boulevard in West Memphis.

ASP took the lead in the pursuit across the Mississippi River on the I-55 bridge into Memphis. The driver, identified as Freddie Najil, 35, abandoned his vehicle and fled on foot. The Trooper followed the suspect on foot across railroad tracks toward West Carolina Avenue in Memphis. At 11:50 a.m., the Trooper took Najil into custody at the intersection of West Carolina and Channel 3 Drive and recovered a firearm and an undisclosed amount of currency.

West Memphis and Memphis Police officers assisted. Najil is being held in the Shelby County Jail in Memphis.

 

ASP SEIZES ALMOST 900 POUNDS OF ILLEGAL MARIJUANA FROM I-40 IN 10 DAYS
May 3, 2024
The Arkansas State Police's (ASP) Interstate Criminal Patrol (ICP) seized a combined 886 pounds of illegal narcotics and one handgun in the past 10 days during six traffic stops on Interstate 40.

The team has confiscated over 4,000 pounds of illegal marijuana already this year.

"ASP's ICP team is strongly committed to ensuring the safety and security of the state's highways, and their success in intercepting massive amounts of illegal drugs in less than two weeks is a testament to their dedication," said ASP Colonel Mike Hagar. "Efforts like these are crucial in maintaining public safety and preventing destructive illegal activity in our communities."

On Thursday, April 25, 2024, at approximately 7:15 p.m., ICP stopped a car hauler tractor-trailer on I-40 eastbound at the 164-mile marker in Lonoke County. During a search, Troopers found 75 pounds of illegal marijuana in three large duffle bags located in the back of one of the vehicles being transported. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed an additional 68 pounds of illegal marijuana. The driver was transporting the vehicle from Oklahoma City to Atlanta.

Four days later, on Monday, April 29, 2024, at around 3 p.m., ICP pulled over a white Lincoln Aviator on I-40 eastbound at the 175-mile marker in Lonoke County for a traffic violation. Upon searching the vehicle, Troopers discovered six duffle bags that contained vacuum-sealed packages of illegal marijuana. Each duffle bag was filled with 20 packages of unlawful marijuana, for a total weight of 120 pounds. Additionally, troopers found a 9mm handgun in the vehicle.

Troopers transported the driver, Jalen Gillispie, 24, of Spencer, Oklahoma, and the passenger, Daviauna Partee, 21, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the Lonoke County Detention Center. Gillispie was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, Simultaneous Possession of Drugs and Firearms, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Partee was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance with Purpose to Deliver. Gillispie and Partee were traveling from Oklahoma City to Memphis. 

On Tuesday, April 30, 2024, around 7 a.m., another traffic stop occurred on I-40 eastbound near the 170-mile marker in Lonoke, leading to the discovery of 31 pounds of illegal marijuana located in a Kia Sportage. Troopers arrested and transported the driver, Carlos Smith, 53, of Louisville, Kentucky, to the Lonoke County Detention Center, where he was booked and charged with Possession With Purpose to Deliver of a Controlled Substance, Unauthorized Usage of Property, and Improper Lane Change.

On Wednesday, May 1, 2024, Troopers stopped a Toyota Corolla near the 102-mile marker on I-40 eastbound around 7:15 a.m. in Conway County for a traffic violation.  Upon searching the vehicle, the troopers discovered 70 pounds of illegal marijuana concealed in trash bags in the trunk of the car. The driver, Mark Williams, 71, was taken into custody and transported to the Conway County Detention Center. He was charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Speeding, and Expired Tags.

On Thursday, May 2, 2024, at approximately 1:15 a.m., Troopers initiated a traffic stop on a Nissan van for a traffic violation on I-40 East at the 178-mile mark in Lonoke County. A search of the vehicle revealed boxes and suitcases containing approximately 222 pounds of marijuana in the back of the van. The driver, Marlita Williams, 44, of Hope Mills, North Carolina, was taken into custody and transported to the Lonoke County Detention Center. She was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance with Purpose to Deliver, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Careless and Prohibited Driving.

On Friday, May 3, 2024, around 2 a.m., the ICP team made a traffic stop on a Sprinter Van for a traffic violation on I-40 East at the 171-mile marker in Lonoke County. The driver stated he was traveling from Los Angeles to East Point, Georgia. Troopers searched the van and discovered 11 boxes containing vacuumed sealed bags of illegal marijuana. The approximate total weight of the seized illegal marijuana was 300 pounds.  

May 03, 2024

SANDERS, AEDC ANNOUNCE 17 COMMUNITY GRANTS TOTALING NEARLY $8.5 MILLION 
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 3, 2024) – The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) has awarded $8,478,624 in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to 17 Arkansas cities and counties.

These grants were awarded under the General Assistance set-aside, part of Arkansas’s $17.8 million FY 2023 formula grant allocation, which is designed to provide communities the opportunity to apply for a variety of non-housing public facility and public infrastructure projects. These funds originate from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) State Program for Small Cities.

“When the federal government works right, in coordination with state and local experts, the results can be fantastic. The Community Development Block Grant program is a great example of state and federal collaboration,” said Governor Sanders. “This year’s seventeen recipients come from all across our state, from Garland City in the southwest to Peach Orchard in the northeast. Each one of these grants advances our administration’s priorities of improving our education system, investing in workforce readiness, and ensuring that every Arkansan has access to safe and clean drinking water.”

AEDC is highlighting these awards in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Community Development Block Grant Program. Enacted by Congress in 1974 under the Housing and Community Development Act, CDBG provides necessary funding to communities across the country to address infrastructure, economic development, housing, disaster recovery, and other community needs.

“Across Arkansas, there are thriving communities that are laying the foundation for future economic success and improving the lives of their citizens,” said Clint O’Neal, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. “The Community Development Block Grants help local communities to strengthen that foundation to provide excellent quality of life and a great business environment for companies.”

Since the CDBG program’s inception in Arkansas in 1983, more than $900 million has been awarded for 2,390 projects that have benefited more than 5.16 million Arkansans. State CDBG funds are utilized for a variety of public facility and public infrastructure projects, including senior centers; childcare centers; public health facilities; youth centers; residential water and wastewater; street, curb, gutter, sidewalk, or storm sewer; and flood control and drainage projects; as well as towards economic development grants incentivizing the location or expansion of jobs in the state. Funds are awarded on an annual basis with counties and municipalities also allocating resources to meet urgent needs and benefit low- and moderate-income persons.

“The Community Development Block Grant remains one of the most important grant resources for the State of Arkansas and local governments and their non-profit and other partners to utilize in designing flexible solutions to meet community development needs,” said Jean Noble, director of AEDC’s Grants Division. “We are proud to recognize the awardees for their hard work and dedication to addressing their highest priority community needs and administering these funds effectively back in local cities and counties. We look forward to partnering on these successful projects!”

The 17 General Assistance projects include the following:
Columbia County, $500,000, after-school youth center
Dierks, Howard County, $499,743, water system improvements
Dumas, Desha County, $499,935, sewer system improvement
East Camden, Ouachita County, $499,420, sewer system improvements
Garland City, Miller County, $500,000, pond levee improvements
Hope, Hempstead County, $500,000, wastewater system improvements
Jennette, Crittenden County, $500,000, water system improvements
Kensett, White County, $499,750, wastewater treatment plant improvements
Kingsland, Cleveland County, $500,000, pump station improvements and pipe repairs
Lockesburg, Sevier County, $500,000, water tank improvements
Logan County, $485,556, senior center renovations
Lonoke, Lonoke County, $498,874, sewer line rehabilitation
Lonoke County, $500,000, developmentally disabled vocational training facility
Pangburn, White County, $500,000, wastewater collection system rehabilitation
Peach Orchard, Clay County, $498,920, water line rehabilitation
Sparkman, Dallas County, $496,426, wastewater rehabilitation 
Van Buren County, $500,000, road improvements

To be eligible for CDBG funds, communities must have a population of less than 50,000 and at least 51 percent of the persons benefitting from the project must be of low- to moderate-income, or the project must meet another CDBG national objective, prevention of slum or blight, or meet an urgent need. All Arkansas cities and counties are eligible for the grant program except for 14 entitlement cities that receive CDBG funds directly from HUD.

For more information on the Arkansas Small Cities CDBG or CDBG-CV program, visit https://www.arkansasedc.com/grants.

State Capitol Week in Review

From Senator Matt Stone

May 3, 2024

LITTLE ROCK – The Senate has passed a balanced budget for state government for next fiscal year, clearing the way for completion of the 2024 session.

The budget calls for general revenue spending of $6.31 billion in Fiscal Year 2025, which begins on July 1.

That is an increase of only 1.76 percent over current general revenue spending. The legislature has always been fiscally conservative, and the 2025 budget is one of the most conservative in recent history.

In Arkansas the balanced budget law is called the Revenue Stabilization Act. The bulk of state general revenue comes from three major sources. They are the state sales tax, the state individual income tax and the state corporate income tax.

General revenue is distributed to public schools, institutions of higher education, corrections, the State Police, health care programs and human services programs.

Growth in general revenue will be an estimated $109.3 million from this fiscal year to next. Under the governor’s proposed budget, public education from kindergarten through twelfth grade will receive the majority of that increase. Legislators are increasing the amounts available under the Education Freedom Account program that provides financial help to parents who choose to send their children to a private school rather than to a public school.

Public elementary and secondary schools will receive about $2.4 billion next year.

The Department of Human Services will receive about $1.8 billion in state funds. However, its spending authority is much higher because it receives so much in federal matching funds.

For example, the state contributes about 29 percent for Medicaid spending in Arkansas while the federal government pays for the remaining 71 percent.

The Division of Correction is budgeted to received $536 million. It operates state prisons. The Division of Community Correction monitors inmates on parole and runs re-rentry programs for inmates just out of prison. It is budgeted to receive $105 million next year.

The fund for reimbursing county jails that hold state inmates will remain stable at $25.7 million. The state is working to open space for about 3,000 additional beds, and when that happens the backlog of state inmates in county jails should lessen.

The State Police are budgeted to get a 4.4 percent increase, from $88.6 million to $92.5 million.

Under next year’s Revenue Stabilization Act, institutions of higher education will get a decrease in state aid of $2.45 million. This year they are receiving about $781.3 million and next year they’re budgeted to receive about $778.8 million.

Four-year universities will receive $628.6 million in state support and two-year colleges will receive $117.1 million.

Some state agencies receive special revenues and their budgets are not included in general revenue category. An example is the Department of Transportation, whose revenue comes from motor fuels taxes, fees on large trucks and federal highway funds.

The state is projected to end next fiscal year with a surplus of about almost $400 million, after ending the current fiscal year with a surplus of about $240 million. The amount of the budget surplus allows legislators to seriously consider further tax cuts.

 

 

ARKANSANS HONORED AT FUNERAL DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION ANNUAL CONVENTION
HOT SPRINGS – Several Arkansans were honored on Friday, April 26 by the Arkansas Funeral Directors Association (AFDA). The honors were presented during an awards banquet that serves as the capstone of the AFDA Annual Convention.

The Arkansas Funeral Directors Association is composed of the professional men and women across the state serving in the funeral industry. The association’s mission is to inspire excellence in service to funeral professionals providing industry support, government advocacy, public relations, and best practices to the association’s members. Their annual convention, held every spring, was held at the Embassy Suites in Hot Springs. The day included continuing education, a keynote speaker, and a reception at Selected Funeral & Life Insurance Company in Hot Springs.

Recipients of the awards include The Mosley Family of Proctor Funeral Home, Robert W. Eichelberger, Jr., Boyd Heath and Douglas Hawkins. The recipients were honored for the contributions to the funeral industry in Arkansas and services to their communities. 

“This year’s award winners are particularly impressive. Combined, they’ve served the state in the funeral profession for over 190 years. It was an honor for the Arkansas Funeral Directors Association and the AFDA Board to recognize their accomplishments in this way,” said David Tucker, AFDA Board President.

The following awards were presented:
Hall of Fame Award: The Mosley Family, Proctor Funeral Home
Hall of Fame Award: Robert W. Eichelberger, Jr. 
Hall of Fame Award: Boyd Heath (1939-2018)
Funeral Director of the Year: Douglas Hawkins

 

LIFESAVING REMINDER: MOTORCYCLIST SAFETY IS EVERYONE’S SAFETY
May 1, 2024
Coinciding with Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, May marks the beginning of riding season for many motorcyclists in America. The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office (AHSO), state and local law enforcement, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) want to remind all motorists that Motorcyclist’s Safety Is Everyone’s Safety. Motorcycle safety is an ongoing responsibility for all road users. By consistently following safe driving and riding practices and sharing the road with others, all motorists can help reduce the number of motorcyclist fatalities.

Each year motorcyclists are overrepresented in traffic crashes. According to NHTSA data, there were 6,218 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2022, which represents 15% of total highway fatalities for that year and a 1% increase from 2021 (6,143). Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists were about 22 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and 4 times more likely to be injured. Two leading contributors to this reality are speeding and alcohol impairment.

Speeding, like in all other years, was a major contributing factor to motorcyclist fatalities in 2022. Thirty-five percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared to 22% of all passenger car drivers, 15% of all light-truck drivers, and 6% of all large-truck drivers. Motorcycle riders 21 to 24 years old involved in fatal crashes had the highest speeding involvement at 51% in 2022.

Alcohol impairment also plays a significant role in motorcycle-involved crash fatalities, and 2022 was no exception. Of the 2,254 motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes that year, 42% were alcohol-impaired. Motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes (killed and survived) had a higher percentage of alcohol impairment than any other type of motor vehicle driver (28% for motorcycle riders, 25% for passenger car drivers, 21% for light-truck drivers, and 3% for large-truck drivers). Forty-six percent of motorcycle riders killed in single-vehicle crashes that occurred on weekends were alcohol-impaired. Forty-two percent of all motorcycle riders killed in night-time were alcohol-impaired, compared to 16% of those killed in daytime crashes.

Like seat belts, wearing Department of Transportation (DOT)-compliant motorcycle helmets save lives and reduce injuries. After three years of declines, motorcycle helmet use increased among motorcycle riders from 64.9% in 2021 to 66.5% in 2022. Similarly, among motorcycle riders with passengers, helmet use increased: 52.1% in 2021 and 58.3% in 2022. Unfortunately, helmet use among motorcyclists traveling in light traffic decreased significantly from 59% in 2021 to 35.5% in 2022. NHTSA data estimates that helmets saved 1,872 motorcyclists’ lives in 2017 and that 749 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn their helmets.  

The following are safe driving and riding practices that all road users — vehicle drivers and motorcyclists alike — should follow to help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on Arkansas’s roadways: 
-- Observe all traffic laws and always obey the speed limit.
-- Drive and ride alcohol- and drug-free.
-- Avoid distractions while driving or riding.
-- Drivers should yield to motorcyclists, especially while turning at intersections.
-- Motorcyclists should wear high-visibility protective gear and DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets. Learn how to identify a safe, DOT-compliant helmet at www.nhtsa.gov/motorcycle-safety/choose-right-motorcycle-helmet

One other significant step that motorcycle riders can take toward promoting road safety for all motorists is completing a rider education and training course. During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month — and every month — motorcycle riders should commit to adopting and promoting safe driving and riding practices. Everyone can work toward a secure environment for motorcycle riders and all other motorists.

For more information on motorcycle safety, visit NHTSA.gov/Motorcycles or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8127, and go to https://www.tzdarkansas.org/ to learn about Arkansas’ Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities. 


STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR MATT STONE
May 3, 2024
LITTLE ROCK – The Senate has passed a balanced budget for state government for next fiscal year, clearing the way for completion of the 2024 session.

The budget calls for general revenue spending of $6.31 billion in Fiscal Year 2025, which begins on July 1.

That is an increase of only 1.76 percent over current general revenue spending. The legislature has always been fiscally conservative, and the 2025 budget is one of the most conservative in recent history.

In Arkansas the balanced budget law is called the Revenue Stabilization Act. The bulk of state general revenue comes from three major sources. They are the state sales tax, the state individual income tax and the state corporate income tax.

General revenue is distributed to public schools, institutions of higher education, corrections, the State Police, health care programs and human services programs.

Growth in general revenue will be an estimated $109.3 million from this fiscal year to next. Under the governor’s proposed budget, public education from kindergarten through twelfth grade will receive the majority of that increase. Legislators are increasing the amounts available under the Education Freedom Account program that provides financial help to parents who choose to send their children to a private school rather than to a public school.

Public elementary and secondary schools will receive about $2.4 billion next year.

The Department of Human Services will receive about $1.8 billion in state funds. However, its spending authority is much higher because it receives so much in federal matching funds.

For example, the state contributes about 29 percent for Medicaid spending in Arkansas while the federal government pays for the remaining 71 percent.

The Division of Correction is budgeted to received $536 million. It operates state prisons. The Division of Community Correction monitors inmates on parole and runs re-rentry programs for inmates just out of prison. It is budgeted to receive $105 million next year.

The fund for reimbursing county jails that hold state inmates will remain stable at $25.7 million. The state is working to open space for about 3,000 additional beds, and when that happens the backlog of state inmates in county jails should lessen.

The State Police are budgeted to get a 4.4 percent increase, from $88.6 million to $92.5 million.

Under next year’s Revenue Stabilization Act, institutions of higher education will get a decrease in state aid of $2.45 million. This year they are receiving about $781.3 million and next year they’re budgeted to receive about $778.8 million.

Four-year universities will receive $628.6 million in state support and two-year colleges will receive $117.1 million.

Some state agencies receive special revenues and their budgets are not included in general revenue category. An example is the Department of Transportation, whose revenue comes from motor fuels taxes, fees on large trucks and federal highway funds.

The state is projected to end next fiscal year with a surplus of about almost $400 million, after ending the current fiscal year with a surplus of about $240 million. The amount of the budget surplus allows legislators to seriously consider further tax cuts.

 

SAAC ANNOUNCES 2024-2025 THEATRE SEASON PRODUCTIONS
There’s no business like show business, so get ready for a season of chills, thrills, and trills! The Theatre Steering Committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center has planned a riveting schedule of productions for the 2024-2025 theatre season, and they wish to announce it ceremoniously when they host a reveal of “A Season of Mistakes and Acceptance!” Join the committee onstage starting at 6:30pm on Monday, May 6th to be among the first to know which productions will be taking center stage at SAAC next season.

This free event, chaired by Kaila Emery and Rhett Davis, is open to SAAC members and the public as well as to local media outlets. The evening will begin with refreshments onstage at 6:30pm followed by the 7pm announcement of the three SAAC main stage productions for fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025. 

“We are excited to bring top-notch entertainment to the stage at the South Arkansas Arts Center for the 2024-2025 season. I think the community will be pleased with the lineup, so bring your friends and join us for the big reveal,” said event co-chair Rhett Davis. 

Guests will also have the opportunity to pick up audition materials for the 2024 summer musical “Mary Poppins”. Auditions which are coming up on May 29 and 30, and the production team is looking for actors, singers and dancers ages 9 and older.

For more information about the upcoming season reveal or about SAAC productions, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.


COTTON, COLLEAGUES: NO STUDENT LOAN BAILOUTS FOR CAMPUS CRIMINALS
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced the No Bailouts for Campus Criminals Act, legislation preventing any pro-Hamas protestor on college campuses convicted of a crime from having their student loans forgiven. The bill comes after widespread, anti-Semitic protests continue to spread on college campuses across the United States.

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Katie Britt (R-Alabama), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) are co-sponsoring the legislation.

Congressman Brandon Williams (New York-22) is leading companion legislation in the House.

 

“Americans who never went to college or responsibly paid off their debts shouldn’t have to pay off other people’s student loans. They especially shouldn’t have to pay off the loans of Hamas sympathizers shutting down and defacing campuses,” said Senator Cotton.

“Violent campus protestors laughably demand respect, amnesty, and even takeout food. Our bicameral bill ensures that not one student protestor convicted of criminal offenses is bailed out by student loan forgiveness. Not one dime of taxpayer money will fund these criminals,” said Congressman Williams.

The No Bailouts for Campus Criminals Act would:
Make any individual who is convicted of a state or federal offense in connection with a campus protest ineligible for any federal student loan relief.

 

BOOZMAN, COTTON APPLAUD SENATE CONFIRMATION OF GARY GRIMES TO SERVE AS U.S. MARSHAL
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) applauded Senate confirmation of Gary Grimes to serve as U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas.

“Gary Grimes has dedicated his career to public safety. I am confident he will continue to serve Arkansas with the same honor and distinction he has demonstrated as a law enforcement officer. I congratulate Gary on his new role as U.S. Marshal,” Boozman said.

“As U.S. Marshal, Gary Grimes will continue to diligently serve the state of Arkansas, just as he has done for decades. I congratulate him on his confirmation and wish him the best in his new role,” Cotton said.

Since 2011, Grimes has served as the principal owner of Grimes & Associates, LLC, a law enforcement, security and government affairs consultancy. Grimes has a worked in a number of law enforcement capacities including as Liaison to Law Enforcement and Emergency Management for Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe from 2007 to 2011. Prior to that role Grimes served as a law enforcement officer in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas including as the Sheriff of Sebastian County from 1989 to 1999.

May 01, 2024

CADC TO DISTRIBUTE USDA COMMODITIES MAY 15 AND 16, 2024 IN OUACHITA COUNTY AND CALHOUN COUNTY
Camden –Central Arkansas Development Council will distribute USDA Commodities in Ouachita County Wednesday, May 15, and Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Camden.  Distribution will begin at 9 am.  

Food Items May Include:
UHT Milk, Grape Juice, Applesauce, Dried Cherries, Vegetable Soup, Tomato Soup, Cream of Chicken Soup, Great Northern Beans, Black Beans, Peanut Butter, Walnuts, Macaroni, Rice, Beef Stew, Can Chicken,  Salmon

In Ouachita County, commodities will be distributed at the following location:
Ouachita County: CARNES PARK, Carnes Park Dr, Camden

 In Calhoun County, commodities will be distributed at the following location:
CADC Office, 210 South Lee Street, Hampton, AR (870) 626-0553

All customers receiving commodities must present identification and must meet income guidelines.


LIFESAVING REMINDER: MOTORCYCLIST SAFETY IS EVERYONE’S SAFETY
May 1, 2024
Coinciding with Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, May marks the beginning of riding season for many motorcyclists in America. The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office (AHSO), state and local law enforcement, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) want to remind all motorists that Motorcyclist’s Safety Is Everyone’s Safety. Motorcycle safety is an ongoing responsibility for all road users. By consistently following safe driving and riding practices and sharing the road with others, all motorists can help reduce the number of motorcyclist fatalities.

Each year motorcyclists are overrepresented in traffic crashes. According to NHTSA data, there were 6,218 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2022, which represents 15% of total highway fatalities for that year and a 1% increase from 2021 (6,143). Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists were about 22 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and 4 times more likely to be injured. Two leading contributors to this reality are speeding and alcohol impairment.

Speeding, like in all other years, was a major contributing factor to motorcyclist fatalities in 2022. Thirty-five percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared to 22% of all passenger car drivers, 15% of all light-truck drivers, and 6% of all large-truck drivers. Motorcycle riders 21 to 24 years old involved in fatal crashes had the highest speeding involvement at 51% in 2022.

Alcohol impairment also plays a significant role in motorcycle-involved crash fatalities, and 2022 was no exception. Of the 2,254 motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes that year, 42% were alcohol-impaired. Motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes (killed and survived) had a higher percentage of alcohol impairment than any other type of motor vehicle driver (28% for motorcycle riders, 25% for passenger car drivers, 21% for light-truck drivers, and 3% for large-truck drivers). Forty-six percent of motorcycle riders killed in single-vehicle crashes that occurred on weekends were alcohol-impaired. Forty-two percent of all motorcycle riders killed in night-time were alcohol-impaired, compared to 16% of those killed in daytime crashes.

Like seat belts, wearing Department of Transportation (DOT)-compliant motorcycle helmets save lives and reduce injuries. After three years of declines, motorcycle helmet use increased among motorcycle riders from 64.9% in 2021 to 66.5% in 2022. Similarly, among motorcycle riders with passengers, helmet use increased: 52.1% in 2021 and 58.3% in 2022. Unfortunately, helmet use among motorcyclists traveling in light traffic decreased significantly from 59% in 2021 to 35.5% in 2022. NHTSA data estimates that helmets saved 1,872 motorcyclists’ lives in 2017 and that 749 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn their helmets.  

The following are safe driving and riding practices that all road users — vehicle drivers and motorcyclists alike — should follow to help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on Arkansas’s roadways: 
-- Observe all traffic laws and always obey the speed limit.
-- Drive and ride alcohol- and drug-free.
-- Avoid distractions while driving or riding.
-- Drivers should yield to motorcyclists, especially while turning at intersections.
-- Motorcyclists should wear high-visibility protective gear and DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets. Learn how to identify a safe, DOT-compliant helmet at www.nhtsa.gov/motorcycle-safety/choose-right-motorcycle-helmet

One other significant step that motorcycle riders can take toward promoting road safety for all motorists is completing a rider education and training course. During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month — and every month — motorcycle riders should commit to adopting and promoting safe driving and riding practices. Everyone can work toward a secure environment for motorcycle riders and all other motorists.

For more information on motorcycle safety, visit NHTSA.gov/Motorcycles or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8127, and go to https://www.tzdarkansas.org/ to learn about Arkansas’ Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities. 

 

MAY IS FOSTER CARE AWARENESS MONTH
Sounding The CALL for National Foster Care Awareness Month
Little Rock, AR— May 1, 2024 — 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. 

This month, The CALL is launching a campaign to highlight “Say Yes to foster care” focusing on the need for additional foster families and how everyone can get involved to serve these children and families. For the Welch family-saying yes to foster care meant having “The opportunity to see God use you and your family in ways you would never imagine! 

The need for more families to open their homes to fostering is great. Currently, there are approximately 3,700 children in foster care statewide and 1,400 foster families open to care for them. On average, 12 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. Since 2007, The CALL has opened over 3,135 foster and adoptive homes serving over 31,000 children and youth.

 For more information or to contact your local affiliate in your community:
PR Contact Name: Jill Bobo
501-580-1214
jbobo@thecallinarkansas.org

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


ASP INVESTIGATING SHOOTING INCIDENT ON INTERSTATE 630
May 1, 2024
The Criminal Investigation Division of the Arkansas State Police (ASP) is currently investigating a shooting incident that occurred on Interstate 630 in Little Rock on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, at around 5:50 p.m. Investigators believe the shooting was not random and was not the result of road rage.

According to witnesses, a Honda Accord was traveling westbound on I-630 with three occupants. As the vehicle approached the Pine Street/Cedar Street exit, a Dodge Durango pulled up on the left side of the Honda and started firing, striking driver Brien Gaines, 38, of Little Rock and passenger Brandon Ragland, 35, of Little Rock. Another passenger was treated for lacerations.

Gaines and Ragland were transported to local hospitals, where they are being treated for injuries not believed to be life threatening.

Anyone with information about this incident should call (501) 618-8458. The investigation is ongoing.


STATUE OF DAISY GATSON BATES TO BE PLACED IN UNITED STATES CAPITOL
Unveiling in National Statuary Hall Will Take Place on May 8th
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Daisy Gatson Bates will become the 13th woman to be represented in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. on May 8, 2024, at 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. Bates, best known as the mentor to the Little Rock Nine, was also Co-Publisher of the Arkansas State Press, author of “The Long Shadow of Little Rock,” president of the Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP, and the only woman to formally address the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston and Shane Broadway, Chairman of the National Statuary Hall Steering Committee for Arkansas, made this announcement today following confirmation by U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson’s office.

Artist Benjamin Victor was commissioned by the National Statuary Hall Steering Committee and the Arkansas Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission to create the 7-foot 6-inch bronze sculpture following the approval of Act 1068 of 2019, sponsored by Senator Dave Wallace and Representative Jeff Wardlaw of the Arkansas General Assembly.  This statue and a statue of musician Johnny Cash, replace Arkansas’s two current statues that have been in the U.S. Capitol for over a century. Cash’s unveiling by Arkansas artist Kevin Kresse will take place at a later date.

In 1864, Congress passed a law inviting each state to submit up to two bronze or marble statues to be placed in what is known as the National Statuary Hall. As the number of states grew, the statues were housed in additional areas of the U.S. Capitol. In 1917, a marble statue of the late Uriah M. Rose, a founder of the Rose Law Firm and the American Bar Association, and in 1921, a marble statue of the late U.S. Senator and Governor James P. Clarke was placed in National Statuary Hall, both approved by the Arkansas General Assembly.

The public is invited to watch the dedication ceremony with a live viewing party, which will begin at 1:00 pm Central Standard Time at Second Baptist Church, located at 1709 John Barrow Road. This local event will feature highlights of Mrs. Bates' legacy and efforts by local dignitaries to uphold her vision for equality and justice. The unveiling will then be viewed live immediately following the program. These events are free and open to all. The ceremony will also be broadcast live on C-SPAN and the Speaker of the House website.

Victor, who hosted a residency to work on the statue last year at the Windgate Center of Art and Design at UA Little Rock, said, “It’s been such an honor. When I read about [Bates’s] life and legacy and accomplishments, I know it will take the best of me in order to do justice to her spirit and legacy. I can’t imagine any person more worthy than Daisy Bates of being immortalized in Statuary Hall.”

Victor is the only living artist to have three works in National Statuary Hall and is further recognized as the youngest artist to have a sculpture installed, with his first work installed at the age of twenty-six.

Secretary Thurston said, “It is an honor to have a part in bringing the statue of Daisy Gatson Bates to the U.S. Capitol. Her life and legacy have shaped Arkansas's future, and we are proud to have her represent our great state in Statuary Hall. I am thankful for the diligent work of the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission, Governor Asa Hutchinson for signing the legislation and his work fundraising, Shane Broadway, Chairman of the National Statuary Hall Steering Committee for Arkansas, the leadership of our legislature, and my staff, who have been involved in each step of the process.”

Shane Broadway thanked Secretary Thurston, the Capitol Arts and Ground Commission, and the Secretary’s staff for their assistance since this process began. “We also want to thank former Governor Asa Hutchinson, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and the members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation for their steadfast support as we have worked with the Architect of the Capitol and the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library be at the point where both of our statues have received their final approvals and will be unveiled soon. We are grateful to our steering committee, our donors, and all who have helped us get to this significant moment in our state’s history.”

Daisy Gatson Bates Biography

Daisy Gatson Bates was an activist and publisher. She is best known for her role as mentor and advisor to the group of nine students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Bates dedicated her life to the struggle against injustice and was among this country’s fiercest and most steadfast advocates for civil rights.

Born Daisy Lee Gatson in Huttig, Arkansas, on November 11, 1914, Bates was raised by friends of her parents. When Bates was very young, her mother was raped and murdered by three white men in Huttig who were never called to account for their crime. Devastated and facing intimidation from white residents of Huttig, Bates’ father fled, leaving his young daughter with Susie and Orlie Smith. The Smiths raised Bates as their own, and it was not until she was eight years old that she learned that she was not their biological daughter. Bates also learned of the tragic circumstances of her mother’s death.

In 1929, at the age of 15, Bates met Lucius Christopher (L.C.) Bates, a traveling insurance salesman and one-time journalist. Over the next decade, a romance developed between Bates and her older suitor. In 1941, the two moved to Little Rock, where L.C.’s dreams of returning to journalism were realized when the couple started the Arkansas State Press. The small newspaper quickly earned a reputation for stories dealing with themes of injustice and violence against Blacks in the south. The couple married in 1942 and soon became prominent members of the black community in Little Rock.

The Arkansas State Press was the dominant civil rights voice of the region, and the Bates's became deeply involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. During this time, Bates also enrolled in classes at both Shorter College and Philander Smith College. She was elected president of the Arkansas State Conference of NAACP branches in 1952. This position set Bates up to be a central figure in what was becoming known as the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, that segregated education was inherently unequal. In 1956, the Arkansas NAACP, and through it, Bates, became involved in a legal effort to enforce this ruling, which was being actively resisted by Whites in the south. In its attempt to integrate Little Rock Central High School, the NAACP chose nine black students who would come to be known as the “Little Rock Nine” to be the first to enroll in the fall of 1957.

As the president of the State Conference of NAACP branches, Bates became one of the primary leaders in this effort. Her house was used both for strategy meetings and as a place for the students to gather. To the students, Bates became a mentor and advisor, helping them to understand both the specifics of what they were about to go through, as well as the larger implications of the events about to unfold.

April 30, 2024

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO HAVE SPECIAL MEETING
There will be a City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, at 6:30PM in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. The Council will be discussing finances.

FIRST FRIDAY MARKET IN DOWNTOWN CAMDEN THIS FRIDAY
First Friday Monthly Market in Camden, AR announces the theme for its May market is “Musical May”.  Come to downtown Camden, AR on May 3rd  to enjoy a great time shopping, eating, listening to live music and visiting.

A large array of vendors will be showing their wares, with everything from  resin art, vinyl records, wood working, jewelry, clothing, greeting cards and more.

Food options will include crawfish and Bills N Dimes fare.  Great snack items from rolled ice cream, kettle korn, ice cream tacos, cookies, fruit cups, fresh baked breads, cinnamon rolls, flavored coffee drinks and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Musical May will include Camden’s own talent show where our locals have an opportunity to win money!  You can also catch some great music on the Native Dog patio with Shaw Revolver.

Bring your lawn chairs and plan to stay a while for this crowd favorite. We can’t wait to see you there!!  Don’t forget to catch a ride on Queen City Train while downtown.

Downtown merchants will be open late for all your shopping convenience offering great First Friday specials. First Friday Monthly Market in Downtown Camden, AR, May 3, 6PM – 9PM.

Come stroll, shop, nibble, browse and chat… See you there!

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OF ARKANSAS CONTRIBUTE $1.76 BILLION ANNUALLY TO ARKANSAS
Little Rock, Ark. — April 29, 2024 — Arkansas’ electric cooperatives recently announced the results of a study examining the economic contributions that the state’s electric cooperatives have made within communities across the state from 2017 through 2022. Please view the study here: https://aecc.com/about-us/economic-development/.

The study quantified the economic impact that electric cooperatives have on Arkansas and more specifically, on towns and communities where the cooperatives serve, according to J.D. Lowery, director of economic development for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

“The study clearly illustrates that the electric cooperatives in Arkansas are committed to work for the growth and continued development of their communities,” Lowery said. “This commitment guides cooperatives in helping communities create and sustain jobs, as well as work to improve life for the communities’ residents. It’s simply what cooperatives are all about.”

Lowery said that the cooperatives have been economic drivers in rural Arkansas since their inception 80 years ago. However, this study provides a more exact understanding of the quantitative and qualitative contributions made by the cooperatives.

Results of the study showed that from 2017 to 2022, state’s electric cooperatives:

• For every dollar spent by electric cooperatives in Arkansas, an additional $1.81 in economic activity is stimulated in the state.

• Arkansas electric cooperatives support more than 27,000 jobs with a total $26.1 billion investment in pay, benefits and infrastructure boosting the Arkansas economy over a five-year period.

• The activity by electric cooperatives in Arkansas contributed $11.6 billion to gross state product (GSP) between 2017 and 2022, for an average of $1.93 billion annually is the market value for all finished goods and services produced in the state.

• Arkansas electric cooperatives also generated $2.89 billion in state and local taxes over this period.

• Arkansas’ electric cooperatives employ more than 2,300 people across the state who operate in generation, transmission and distribution capacities, including subsidiaries that offer broadband services, utility support services and alternative energy resources.

• In the last six years, the 17 local distribution electric cooperatives have returned more than $211 million to its members in capital patronage payments. 

Had a $23 billion impact on employment and infrastructure spending;
Served more than 1.2 million Arkansans;
Contributed more than $5.3 million to philanthropies;
Returned $131 million in direct payments to members through capital patronage dividends; and
Maintained more than 75,000 miles of power lines. 

The study, conducted by Boyette Strategic Advisors of Little Rock, can be viewed at: INSERT URL

Arkansas’ 17 local electric cooperative distribution systems, statewide association and generation and transmission cooperative serve approximately 600,000 members in 74 of the state’s 75 counties. The cooperatives are member-owned utilities established to provide reliable, affordable electric service to farms, homes, schools, churches, businesses and other establishments across the state in a responsible manner.

The distribution cooperatives own and govern Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a service association for the electric cooperatives, as well as Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, a generation and transmission cooperative, which provides wholesale power to the distribution cooperatives.

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

April 26, 2024

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR MATT STONE
April 26, 2024
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Senate passed two bills that will tighten state and local regulations of data centers and the newly emerging crypto mining industry.

Senate Bill 78 passed with 26 votes in the 35-member Senate. SB 79 passed with 32 votes. Next, they will be considered by the House of Representatives.

The measures represent legislators’ attempts to balance competing demands. One is to protect the quality of life near the centers. Another is to ensure that their energy consumption doesn’t cause power failures. At the same time, lawmakers don’t want to cripple the growth of a new industry that few people understand.

The legislature is in a fiscal session that is expected to end on May 2. Routinely, during fiscal sessions only budget bills can be introduced, but the state Constitution allows for consideration of non-budget bills if both the Senate and House agree by an extraordinary majority of two-thirds. That happened with SB 78 and SB 79.

Since the first fiscal session took place in 2010, only a few non-budget bills have been brought up and they were relatively non-controversial. SB 78 and 79 address issues of enormous importance to people who live near crypto mines, and to local governments that want more authority to regulate them.

Crypto mines have popped up in rural areas only recently and more are being planned. They consume a lot of electricity and some use large quantities of water. Nearby residents have been especially vocal about the noise they generate every day, all day.

The Senate bills require crypto mines to install equipment or build coverings that will reduce noise levels.

Neighbors who live within 2,000 feet of a digital asset mining business will have standing to file lawsuits in circuit court. The state Oil and Gas Commission will issue permits to data centers and local governments can pass ordinances to regulate them.

A major concern about some crypto mines is that their ownership cannot be verified, and they may be a threat to our cybersecurity. Ownership by Chinese military agencies is a particular concern.

The Senate bills prohibit ownership of data centers by organizations or foreign countries that sponsor terrorism and that traffic in weapons in violation of international law.

State Employee Pay Plan

The Joint Budget Committee approved the governor’s proposal to raise salaries of state employees.

Beginning on July 1, which is the start of Fiscal Year 2025, state employees may get raises of up to three percent. Also, they will be eligible for lump sum bonuses of up to $5,000 or 40 hours of leave.

Agencies looking to hire new employees may offer the bonuses as a recruitment incentive. The head of the Arkansas State Employees Association said the pay raises were much needed and well deserved.

The plan allows for higher salaries for employees at the top of the pay scale. The minimum salary for employees at the bottom of the pay scale is raised significantly, from $22,880 to $32,405 a year.

The governor’s office said it was important for state government to recruit and retain its best employees.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN CO-LEADS 17-STATE COALITION CHALLENGING ILLEGAL RULE MANDATING EMPLOYERS ACCOMMODATE WORKERS’ ABORTIONS
Griffin: ‘The [Pregnant Workers Fairness Act] was meant to protect pregnancies, not end them’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement after co-leading, alongside Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, a coalition of 17 states in suing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over its new rule mandating workplace abortion accommodations through an erroneous interpretation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2022 (PWFA):

“This is yet another attempt by the Biden administration to force through administrative fiat what it cannot get passed through Congress. Under this radical interpretation of the PWFA, business owners will face federal lawsuits if they don’t accommodate employees’ abortions, even if those abortions are illegal under state law. The PWFA was meant to protect pregnancies, not end them.

“The new rule, passed by a bare 3-2 majority of unelected EEOC commissioners, goes beyond what Congress authorized under the PWFA.”
 
The PWFA fills a gap in federal law by ensuring pregnant workers receive accommodation to protect their pregnancies and unborn children. A diverse coalition of bipartisan lawmakers, business groups, and nonprofit organizations supported the pro-family aim of the 2022 legislation.
 
Seventeen states have brought this lawsuit to enjoin and set aside the EEOC’s unprecedented and unlawful abortion-accommodation mandate. The states joining Arkansas and Tennessee are: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia. 
 
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Eastern District of Arkansas, can be accessed here.

April 24, 2024

SHOOTING IN CAMDEN LEAVES ONE MAN INJURED
On 4-23-2024 at 9:00 pm hours, the Camden police Department dispatched Officer Chanel Bailey to 187 Ratcliff for a report of a gunshot victim.

Upon arrival Officer Bailey observed a black male lying in the driveway of 201 Ratcliff face down in a red shirt. She saw that Odell Hopson Jr., had a bullet wound to the lower right side of the abdomen and was losing a copious amount of blood. Jimmy Hildreth had his hand on Hopson's side monitoring his breathing. Hopson breathing was very shallow and Officer Bailey found a very shallow heartbeat. Hopson's eyes were open, but he was not responding to questions. After a while, the Officer felt Hopson's breathing stop and she was unable to find a pulse. She rolled Hopson over to his front and observed a bullet wound to his abdomen on his left side. She began CPR and Hopson resumed breathing.

EMS and Fire then arrived on scene and took over the medical treatment of Hopson. Before moving away, Officer Bailey observed a twenty-dollar bill in Hopson's right hand that appeared to have another bill tucked inside. The bill was unrecovered at the scene.

Stephanie Wright, the reporting party, tole Officer Bailey that she and Hopson were outside kissing when a dark brown colored vehicle pulled up next to them in the driveway. Wright said she observed a male, identified as Michael Jackson sitting in the front driver seat and a male identified as 'Toe' in the passenger side front seat. Wright said Hopson sent her inside while he spoke to them about getting a twenty of crack cocaine. Wright said once she was inside the house, she observed Toe striking Hopson and then shoot him once before backing up and driving east down Ratcliff at a high rate of speed.

After Hopson was sent to OCMC for Emergency Medical Treatment, Officer Bailey was able to get a statement from Wright. She learned that Hopson owed Toe an unknown amount for previous deals. Wright said Toe lived on Elm somewhere near the top of the hill but was unsure where his house was. In between speaking, Wright was hyperventilating and was unable to speak at times. Wright's sister was on scene and was able to keep her calmed. Wright refused to go to the department and Detective Watts spoke to her at her sister's residence at 221 Ratcliff.

Hildreth said he had been in the back of the house when he heard the shot and came outside to see Hopson lying face down and a car fleeing down Ratcliff headed east. The Officer was later informed that Hopson was living at 201 Ratcliff along with Hildreth and Wright.

Lieutenant Bush was also dispatched to the scene. He spoke with Hopson's girlfriend (Stephanie Wright) who told him that she was outside with Hopson when two subjects drove up in a brown four door car. Wright stated the driver was Micheal Jackson and the passenger was a subject with the nickname "Toe". Wright stated she was told to go inside the residence as Toe got out of the car. At some point, Toe and Hopson got into a physical altercation. Moments later she stated Toe shot Hopson, he and Jackson then fled the scene. Wright stated Toe is a drug dealer with access to several guns and she is afraid of retaliation. Wright further explained that Toe lives somewhere on Elm Street.

Officer Mark Ryan had also been dispatched to the scene. He relocated to the Ouachita County Medical Center to try to speak to Hopson and gain information on his condition. When the Officer arrived, Hopson was being treated by several medical staff members and was not responsive at the time. Medical staff advised the injuries were life-threatening. They advised there was one bullet wound that entered the left side of his abdomen and exited the right side of his back. There was also a wound to his chin. It was unknown if that occurred during the physical altercation or if it occurred when he fell. Medical staff members advised he was not moving the bottom half of his body so they believed there may have been injuries to his spinal cord. They also stated they did not have enough blood to operate on him. Due to these circumstances, he would need to be Med-Flighted by Survival Flight to UAMS in Little Rock, AR. Sergeants Blair and Watts as well as Lieutenant Reynolds arrived at the hospital and were briefed on the incident.

At the time of this report, Hopson was in a Little Rock Hospital in critical condition.

 

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR TO LIE IN STATE IN ARKANSAS STATE CAPITOL ROTUNDA
Friday, April 26th Set Aside for Public to Pay Respects
(LITTLE ROCK, ARK.) – Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston announced Wednesday that the late Senator David Pryor will lie in state in the second floor rotunda of the Arkansas State Capitol on Friday, April 26, 2024, from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Friends, family, staff, and the public are welcome to come and pay their respects.


OUACHITA COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER PROJECT SEARCH® GRADUATION
Ouachita County Medical Center, Project SEARCH® Arkansas: ACCESS® Initiative, ACCESS® and Arkansas Rehabilitation Services invite you to join us as we celebrate the 2023-2024 Project SEARCH graduates in their achievements. These young adults have successfully completed their internships to find purpose and independence to build a brighter future.

Tuesday, May 21,2024,10:30 a.m.
Ouachita County Medical Center W.K. Green Center
638 California Avenue SW
Camden, AR 71701

RSVP to Beth Morgan  at 501.515.0578 or Beth.Morgan@accessgroupinc.org
 

CASE FILE IN MARCH OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING TO BE TURNED OVER TO PROSECUTOR
April 22, 2024
The case file on the March 19 officer-involved shooting of Bryan Malinowski will be forwarded by Arkansas State Police’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) to the 6th Judicial District prosecuting attorney’s office on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

The shooting occurred at 4 Durance Court, Little Rock, while the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was serving a federal search warrant. Malinowski, 53, was transported to a local hospital, where he died on March 21, 2024.

ASP is authorized to investigate only the agent-involved shooting portion of the incident. CID has compiled a case file that will be handed over to the prosecutor, who will determine whether the shooting was justified. As with all such investigations, ASP will not give any form of recommendation to the prosecutor.

“We do not have the authority to address methods and tactics used or whether agency protocols and policies were followed,” said ASP Colonel Mike Hagar. “Any administrative oversight of tactics would fall to that agency’s – in this case, the U.S. Department of Justice – internal review and is not part of the scope of what ASP is authorized to review.”

The prosecutor will determine whether and when to release the case file.


 

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN PRAISES RULING AGAINST LITTLE ROCK LANDLORD
Griffin: ‘Today’s order sends a message to those who engage in deceptive tactics against Arkansas consumers: We will stop you.’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin today issued the following statement after a Pulaski County Circuit Court entered an order enforcing a $20,000 civil penalty against Entropy Systems, Inc. and Little Rock landlord Imran Bohra for failure to follow a consent judgment:

“After years of failing to follow the law and blatantly disregarding an order to notify tenants of their rights to file complaints to my office, Mr. Bohra and his company, Entropy Systems, Inc., are being held accountable. To that end, the defendants are prohibited from entering into future residential leases until the civil penalty is paid in full, and any future residential leases must properly notify tenants of their rights to file complaints. Today’s order sends a message to those who engage in deceptive tactics against Arkansas consumers: We will stop you.

“I thank Assistant Attorney General Reid Adkins and our Public Protection Division for their diligence on this matter.”

April 22, 2024

VACANCY ON CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL
A vacancy for the City Council of Camden exists in ward 3 Position 2. The city council will appoint an individual to fill the position until the next election. Interested individuals must be qualified electors of ward 3. Individuals seeking to be considered can send request with a bio or resume to the Mayor's Office prior to May 8th.


GOVERNOR SANDERS’ STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF FORMER U.S. SENATOR DAVID PRYOR
 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. —Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders released the following statement on the passing of former U.S. Congressman, Arkansas Governor, and U.S. Senator David Pryor:

“Bryan and I are mourning the death of a dedicated Congressman, Governor, and Senator, David Pryor. His career defied easy definition: a man with deep roots in Ouachita County who reached the heights of influence in Washington; a Solid South Democrat who stood strong against the Faubus machine; the architect of an Arkansas political dynasty who was just as comfortable in a Camden lumber yard as the Cambridge quad.

“David Pryor’s charisma and moderate politics made him a force at the ballot box for decades. While the Senator and I came up in different political parties, I, like all Arkansans deeply appreciated his diligent stewardship of Arkansas and our interests during his time in public life. And we can all thank him for his role in burying the divisive racial politics that infected Arkansas government before his tenure.

“I was honored that David joined me for my inaugural address and sat on the State House floor for my first address to the legislature. I remember meeting his son, Mark, when he served as Attorney General and I was elected Attorney General of Arkansas Girls State. He was kind and welcoming to me, and I know he learned that from his parents. David’s legacy lives on in Arkansas and U.S. government - and also through his wonderful family. On behalf of all Arkansans, Bryan and I share our deepest condolences with David’s wife Barbara, their son, former U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, and the entire Pryor family.”


ASP CID INVESTIGATING WEST HELENA HOMICIDE
April 21, 2024
WEST HELENA, Ark. – Arkansas State Police’s (ASP) Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is working to locate a Helena man for killing a teenager outside a party following Helena-West Helena’s Central High School (CHS) Prom.

Agents have identified a suspect, Donterious Stephens, 19, of Helena, a previous graduate, who will be charged with First Degree Murder and Possession of Firearms by Certain Persons in the death of Lorenzo Harrison III, 18, a CHS senior.

Phillips County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) requested assistance at about 1 a.m. on Sunday April 21, 2024.

The incident occurred after the CHS Prom at an event attended by students located across the street from Ater Warehouse, located at 3235 Highway 49 in West Helena.

Anyone with information on the suspect’s whereabouts is requested to contact PCSO or CID Company A at (870) 970-6082.

The deceased will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Lab, where an autopsy will determine cause and manner of death.

 

FLEEING HOMICIDE SUSPECT INJURED DURING APPREHENSION
April 19, 2024
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Arkansas State Police (ASP) is investigating a shooting involving an off-duty ASP Trooper that occurred at 10:50 a.m. on April 19, 2024. The Trooper, who had been at a training event held by the Pine Bluff Police Department (PBPD), was assisting officers attempting to apprehend a suspect with active warrants in a homicide investigation.

The Trooper accompanied PBPD officers responding to a call for assistance as suspect Derrick D. Stidum,19, of Pine Bluff, fled from officers in a stolen vehicle. Stidum lost control of the vehicle near the intersection of East 11th Avenue and Ohio Street. The Trooper and other officers gave chase when Stidum and a passenger fled on foot.

Officers made contact with Stidum as he was running through the backyard of residences on Nebraska Street.

Stidum was shot as he resisted being taken into custody.
Stidum was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Jefferson Regional Medical Center before being taken into custody and charged with Theft by Receiving and Fleeing. He is being held at the Jefferson County Detention Center, with Capital Murder charges pending.

The Trooper was placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated.


ARTIST OLUWATOBI ADEWUMI EXHIBIT OPENING AT SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center welcomes contemporary artist Oluwatobi Adewumi and his exhibition "Journey to the Unknown" to the Merkle and Price Galleries April 29 – June 12. Adewumi is originally from Nigeria but now calls south Arkansas his home. There will be an artist's reception on Thursday, May 2 from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.

Adewumi focuses on the sociocultural aspect of the subject through his multimedia drawings. His work explores his personal journey of having been born in Nigeria and then moving and assimilating into American Culture in conservative Arkansas.

His drawings are between realism/abstract figures and portraits layered out to make it simple for his audience by telling a story in a story. Some of his best tools are charcoal, and acrylic paint, which he can manipulate and use freely to bring the depth of the subject as he tackles the story behind each piece.

“The exhibition narrates my experience as a black man in the US or as a black man in an arduous society. From the lens of an immigrant, my art frames new stories about an epic experience that has been playing like a film for the past five hundred years. The stories remind us that we are one people who must live together and learn about love and harmony, despite the differences in the colors of our skins,” said Adewumi.

When Adewumi first migrated to America, he never considered himself “black” since he came from a country where the idea of skin color was never reflective of his identity.  In Nigeria, ethnicity, religion, social class, and gender defines who a person is in society. To be called black had never been part of the conversation, since the social construct in Nigeria was not based on race. He would travel to any part of the country without worrying that someone was going to judge him or not afford him the imperative opportunity based on his skin color.

When he migrated to America, he realized that his race and his ethnicity as an African immigrant would define the space that society afforded him. Adewumi and his wife, an Arkansas native, live in McNeil located just outside of Magnolia.

For more information on the Oluwatobi Adewumi exhibit at the South Arkansas Arts Center, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.


WESTERMAN STATEMENT ON EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS
WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a series of bills providing supplemental appropriations to address U.S. national security threat and to provide funding for defense assistance to U.S. allies and for costs incurred by the U.S. military for regional support.

H.R. 8038, the 21st Century Peace Through Strength Act, confronts several U.S. national security threats through substantive policy changes, including fentanyl trafficking, TikTok, Iranian-backed aggression, and more.

H.R. 8036, the Indo-Pacific Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, supports Taiwan in its efforts to counter communist China and ensure a strong deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region.

H.R. 8034, the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, supports Israel in its effort to defend against Iran and its proxies, and reimburses U.S. military operations in response to recent attacks.

H.R. 8035, the Ukraine Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, replenishes U.S. military stockpiles to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) released the following statement:
“From a dismal Afghanistan withdrawal to a nonexistent southern border, the leadership failures of Joe Biden and his Administration are too numerous to list. As a result, the world is in turmoil and is looking to the U.S. for leadership. Today I voted to support our allies and replenish U.S. military stockpiles with weapons made by Arkansans in East Camden, protect Americans online by forcing the sale of TikTok, combat fentanyl trafficking, and stand up against the authoritarian aggression of China, Russia, and Iran.

“As Ronald Reagan said, during his remarks at the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Point Du Hoc, ‘We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.’

“The Biden Administration has put our national security, and that of our allies, at risk through appeasement. This package is not only about supporting our allies but is also critical to safeguarding our own national security.”

H.R. 8038, the 21st Century Peace Through Strength Act:
Prevents app store availability or web hosting services in the U.S. for ByteDance-controlled applications, like TikTok, unless the application severs ties with entities that are subject to the control of a foreign adversary, like Communist China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia.
Declares international fentanyl trafficking a national emergency and directs the Treasury Department to target, sanction, and block the financial assets of criminal organizations and drug cartels involved in fentanyl trafficking.
Ensures that Putin pays for his brutal war of aggression.
Makes it illegal for data brokers to sell personally identifiable data of Americans to North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, or entities controlled by any of these countries.
Imposes sanctions on ports and refineries that receive and process Iranian oil.
Fully enforces human rights sanctions on the Iranian regime.
Disrupts the ability of Hamas to fund terrorism and makes it harder for state sponsors of terrorism to abuse International Monetary Fund resources to finance terrorist organizations.

H.R. 8036, the Indo-Pacific Security Supplemental Appropriations Act:
Provides funding to continue efforts to counter communist China and ensure a strong deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Strengthens U.S. military capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region.
Enhances the production and development of artillery and critical munitions.
Replenish defense articles and defense services provided to Taiwan and regional partners.

H.R. 8034, the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act:
Provides funding to support Israel in its effort to defend itself against Iran and its proxies, and to reimburse U.S. military operations in response to recent attacks.
Replenishes the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems.
Prohibits funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
Supports current U.S. military operations in the region.
Enhances the production and development of artillery and critical munitions.

H.R. 8035, the Ukraine Security Supplemental Appropriations Act:
Provides funding to address the conflict in Ukraine and assist our regional partners as they counter Russia, much of which will be used for the replenishment of U.S. weapons, stocks, and facilities.
Increases oversight and accountability of aid and equipment provided to Ukraine.
Bolsters oversight through in-person monitoring requirements.
Requires partners and allies to pay their fair share through cost-matching requirements.
Mandates agreement on repayment for economic support by the government of Ukraine.
Includes a loan structure, along with requirements for enhanced strategy and accountability, which is necessary to ensure that funding is provided for a clear, achievable purpose and not a waste of taxpayer dollars.


ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN ANNOUNCES MORE THAN $49 MILLION IN TOBACCO SETTLEMENT FUNDS
Griffin: ‘With this year’s disbursement, Arkansas has received a total of $1.38 billion’
LITTLE ROCK – After the State of Arkansas received $49,593,803.13 as the 2024 share of proceeds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with tobacco companies, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

“My office is tasked with enforcing the MSA and various tobacco statutes enacted pursuant to the MSA. The annual disbursement of settlement funds supports key programs in Arkansas that improve health outcomes. With this year’s disbursement, Arkansas has received a total of $1.38 billion.”

Background
In 2000, Arkansas voters created the Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act, which governs how the MSA funds are used. Tobacco settlement moneys fund numerous health-related programs in Arkansas, including the Arkansas Biosciences Institute, an agricultural and medical research consortium; the Medicaid Expansion Program, which provides Medicaid coverage for underserved populations; the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program, which aims to reduce tobacco use; and the Targeted State Needs Program, which includes support for public health programs for minorities, older Arkansans, and residents of rural areas and the Delta.

In addition to enforcing the terms of the MSA, the Office of Attorney General’s enforcement of tobacco statutes includes operation of a certification process for tobacco manufacturers; ongoing quarterly and annual reporting; maintaining an Approved-For-Sale Directory for cigarettes; and conducting audits, investigations, or litigation should violations of the tobacco statutes occur.

April 19, 2024

BEECH SPRINGS CAMP PLANS WORKDAY
Beech Springs Camp is hosting a Camp Work Day on May 4th. The projects will include brush cutting, power washing, cleaning, painting, lumber projects and more. 

The necessary supplies will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own pole saws, power washers, drills, saws, rakes and anything else that might help things go smoothly!

This is a great opportunity for students to get volunteer hours that are mandatory to graduate.  

If you have any questions, please reach out to the Camp Manager, David Stanley. You can reach David at 870-314-4939 or email beechspringscamp@gmail.com.
 

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR MATT STONE
April 19, 2024
LITTLE ROCK – The state Education Department has written new rules for troubled schools to enter “transformation contracts” with outside entities, such as charter school operators.

The Department will accept public comments until May 15 on the eight pages of proposed rules. They will implement a provision in the LEARNS Act that was passed by the legislature last year. The act was the centerpiece of the governor’s legislative agenda.

An Education Department official said that transformation contracts offer a dramatic way to improve districts that are in academic distress.

Schools are eligible to enter the contracts if they have a D or an F rating or if they are classified as needing Level 5 intensive support by the Board of Education.

A strong incentive to enter transformation contracts is that for two years after the contract is signed, the state will not impose any sanctions or take any actions against the school for failing to satisfy academic performance standards.

The proposed rules allow the state to provide financial incentives to support the transformation campus, but the proposals do not specify any details about those incentives.

Under the proposed rules, any property owned by a school district when the contract is signed shall remain in the school’s possession.

The organization that contracts to take over most of the school’s administration is referred to as the transformation campus operator. Their intent must be to return management to the school after “accelerated, meaningful, and sustainable increases in student achievement have been achieved.”

One school district in the state is already being operated under a transformation contract that was signed soon after the LEARNS Act took effect last year. It is the Marvell-Elaine School District in east Arkansas, which is under state control.

Under the three-year transformation contract signed last year, Marvell-Elaine schools are being operated by the Friendship Education Foundation that sponsors open-enrollment charter schools in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pine Bluff.

The proposed rules would allow school districts that are not under state control to enter transformation contracts. If the district falls under state control during contract period, the contract would become void on the date the state takes over control.

Community Service Requirement

Another provision in the LEARNS Act will require high school students to perform 75 hours of community service in order to graduate. The first seniors who will have to comply will be the class of 2027, who are now in ninth grade.

This class has about 39,000 students, so they will contribute almost three million hours of community service in Arkansas over the next four years.

The Education Department has written four pages of proposed rules to implement the community service provisions and will take public comments until April 24.

Local school boards may grant a waiver to a graduating student for extenuating circumstances, on a case-by-case basis. For example, waivers may be granted to students who are medically fragile, or students going through a serious illness or who has a family member who is seriously ill.

Also, students with jobs who contribute significantly to the family’s income may get a waiver.


ASP RECOGNIZED FOR OUTSTANDING INTERSTATE CRIMINAL PATROL EFFORTS IN 2023
April 19, 2024
BILOXI, MISS. – Arkansas State Police’s Interstate Criminal Patrol (ICP) once again dominated the annual Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area awards held earlier this week in Biloxi, Miss., winning three individual awards, Team of the Year and Officer of the Year.

ASP’s outstanding performance in 2023 was recognized for collectively seizing illegal drugs with a total street value of $27.7 million,  45 vehicles, and $1.26 million in currency.

Trooper Ana Escamilla was recognized as 2023 Officer of the Year for 28 drug seizures, with a total street value of $5,678,326 and 7 currency seizures, totaling $610,755.

Individual winners:
-- Sergeant Derek Nietert, largest marijuana seizure, 939 pounds
-- Trooper Cody Martin, largest cocaine seizure, 145 pounds
-- Trooper Escamilla, largest “other dangerous drugs” seizure, 420 bottles of Promethazine (street value $100,800)

 

ARKANSAS’ UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DOWN TO 3.5% IN MARCH
Today the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, in conjunction with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, announced that Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point, from 3.6% in February to 3.5% in March. The United States’ jobless rate also declined one-tenth of a percentage point, from 3.9% in February to 3.8% in March. 

Arkansas Civilian Labor Force Summary:

Arkansas’ civilian labor force rose by 519 in March. There were 1,747 more employed Arkansans, while the number of unemployed in the State declined by 1,228. The labor force participation rate remained unchanged at 57.4% between February and March.

Compared to March 2023, there are 5,316 more employed in Arkansas. An additional 9,276 unemployed Arkansans are actively looking for work, pushing the unemployment rate up seven-tenths of a percentage point. The labor force participation rate remained stable over the year.

Arkansas Nonfarm Payroll Job Summary:

In March, Arkansas added 10,900 nonfarm payroll jobs. Gains were posted in Leisure and Hospitality (+4,800), Trade-Transportation-Utilities (+2,000), Manufacturing (+1,800), and Professional and Business Services (+1,800).

Compared to March 2023, there are 15,400 more jobs in the State. Notable growth occurred in Private Education and Health Services (+6,200) and Construction (+5,600). Manufacturing reported the largest decline (-2,100), mostly due to losses in durable goods manufacturing (-1,600).


ACCLAIMED SONGWRITER DAVE GIBSON TAKES THE SAAC STAGE FOR A SPECIAL SHOWCASE
The South Arkansas Arts Center is thrilled to announce a special capital campaign fundraising event, “The Power of a Song,” featuring iconic country music figure and El Dorado native Dave Gibson, known for his exceptional songwriting talent. At the event, Gibson will recount the songs and stories of his more than 40-year hit-songwriting career. The Songwriter Showcase is set to take place on Friday, May 31st at 7:00 p.m. in the Callaway Theatre at SAAC.

With roots that run deep in the heart of the south, Gibson’s career in the music industry spans several decades, during which he has penned hit songs for some of the biggest names in country music. A Nashville heavyweight, Gibson’s songwriting has been recorded by artists like Alabama, Tanya Tucker, and Confederate Railroad. Hits like "Jukebox in My Mind" and "Queen of Memphis" showcase his talent for crafting relatable stories set against the backdrop of country life.

Gibson has also written numerous hit songs that have topped the charts and earned him critical acclaim. Some of his most well-known songs include "I'm a Survivor" (performed by Reba McEntire), "Texas Tattoo" (performed by Gibson himself), and "If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do It Right)" (performed by Vern Gosdin).

Gibson's live performances are known for their energy, passion, and authentic country sound that have earned him critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base. Attendees can expect to hear some of his most famous compositions, performed with his signature style that blends country, rock, and blues influences.

Tickets for this highly anticipated event are priced at $15 for SAAC members and $25 for the general public. “The Power of a Song” with Dave Gibson promises to be an unforgettable evening celebrating the art of songwriting and the rich musical legacy of the south.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to experience the timeless talent of Dave Gibson at the South Arkansas Arts Center. For ticket reservations and more information, please visit www.saac-arts.org or call (870) 862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 E. 5th Street in El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

COTTON, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO REPORT ILLEGAL ALIEN ATTEMPTS TO PURCHASE FIREARMS
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cynthia Lummis, (R-Wyoming), and John Boozman (R-Arkansas), today introduced the Illegal Alien NICS Alert Act. The legislation would require the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement (ICE) and relevant local law enforcement when an illegal alien tries to purchase a gun.

“Those who come into America illegally should be detained and deported. They certainly shouldn’t be able to purchase a firearm. Our bill is necessary to ensure the proper authorities are notified when an illegal immigrant attempts to buy a gun,” said Senator Cotton.

“The National Instant Criminal Background Check system is an important tool to ensure firearms stay out of the wrong hands, which is why I co-introduced the Fix NICS Act. It is already against the law for an illegal immigrant to purchase a firearm, and this legislation would notify the appropriate authorities when an illegal immigrant tries to break the law,” said Senator Tillis.

“Our local law enforcement and immigration officials should have the tools to know if folks are in our country illegally. Instead of taking every opportunity to crack down on lawful FFLs just trying to earn a living, the Biden administration should capitalize on their dutiful work by using their resources to prevent unlawful actions by illegal immigrants. In the face of the border crisis of its own making, President Biden’s priorities again are out of touch. This bill will help officials do their job and keep our communities safe,” said Senator Ernst. 

“I have no confidence in this administration’s willingness or ability to prevent illegal aliens from unlawfully entering our country, let alone in preventing them from illegally obtaining a firearm,” said Senator Lummis. “If this administration refuses to enforce our existing immigration laws, we must empower law enforcement and immigration officials to hold them accountable and take appropriate action to keep our communities safe.”

“Alerting the proper authorities when illegal immigrants seek to obtain firearms is commonsense. I’m proud to join Senator Cotton and our colleagues on this legislation to help protect our communities,” said Senator Boozman.

Background:
When a person tries to buy a firearm from a store, the firearm seller, known as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), contacts the NICS to conduct a background check. That background check verifies the buyer is not ineligible to purchase or own a firearm.

The FBI maintains a record of prohibited persons r which currently includes the names of 14.8 million illegal aliens. NICS is not, however, required to notify immigration authorities if an applicant is in the country illegally.

Since November 30, 1998, NICS has issued denials for 49,411 attempted firearm purchases by illegal aliens.

April 18, 2024

EL DORADO BRINGS A DAY OF FUN FOR MAY(HAW) ON MAIN
El Dorado, AR.— Come out and enjoy the day in Downtown El Dorado at May on Main. This fourth annual event, presented by Main Street El Dorado, will be held Saturday, May 4th, Starting at 10am on Jefferson Avenue and Elm Street in Downtown El Dorado(201 N Jefferson Street El Dorado AR). This festival is a collaborative effort with the Mayhaw Festival, which begins at 8am on Jackson Street.

Beth Brumley, executive director of Main Street El Dorado, expressed her enthusiasm for this collaboration, sharing, “We are thrilled to announce the partnership with the Mayhaw Festival. This successful collaboration will evolve into one grand event and the Downtown portion will be known as Mayhaw on Main in the future. Mayhaw on Main offers a full day of enjoyment, including music, games, a kid's foam party, a Mimosa bar, shopping, and more. It's the perfect opportunity to experience the charm of our beautiful downtown and all it has to offer.” Admission is FREE to the festival.

Fun Zone Sponsored by Roseburg - El Dorado MDF
El Dorado is the place to be for families and festivalgoers this season! Join us downtown for a host of fun activities and attractions that will keep you entertained all day long. Kids can look forward to an exciting rock-climbing wall, inflatables and a foam party, while the Big Wheel races are sure to be a hit with the little ones. The races start at 1pm, and while there's no entry fee, children must register at 12pm on Jefferson Street.

Great Food
Not only will our Elm Street and Jefferson Ave restaurants will be open for business, but we will also have a variety of food trucks offering delicious treats such as Flossie's Funnel Cakes and Corndogs, Willie T’s BBQ and King Kone's sno cones and more. Come join us for a wonderful dining experience and indulge in some of the best food and treats the area has to offer.

Live Music on Jefferson Street Courthouse Stage
Live Music sets the tone, and we have an exciting music line up for you! The event will kick off at 11:00 with Ruston’s very own Luke Johnson taking the stage. Following that, we have Captain Erick Meadows scheduled to perform at 12:15, and closing out the day will be the fantastic Second Hand Jacket starting at 1:15. Get ready for a day filled with amazing music and vibrant performances.

Beer Garden and Mimosa Bar
New this year, and sure to be an instant hit, we excitedly announce “The Well Garden Mimosa Bar”, sponsored by The Haywood Hotel where we will be offering bottomless Mimosas(11am-1pm)! Whether you're looking to cool off or simply wash down some delicious festival food, we've got you covered. In addition to our bottomless Mimosa bar, we will also have beer, soft drinks and water available.

Lots To Do
In addition to the Live Music and Kids Fun Zone, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Mayhaw on Main Vendors will begin at 10am and all the downtown boutiques and shops will be open. Don't miss the chance to join Michaela Miller Photography for a Mother’s Day mini photo shoot that includes a 10 min session and 10 digital photos located on Elm Street outside All About Flowers.

To make your day even more special, take a FREE ride on the El Dorado Trolley from 10am - 2pm. There are several stops to take you from Mayhaw on Main to the Mayhaw Festival. The route covers Peach, Jackson, Main and Washington.

If you're looking for a more romantic or more intimate ride, enjoy a wonderful Horse and Carriage ride around El Dorado starting at 10am. Randall Clark Farms will be providing the rides starting at $30 for 2 people. And of course, you can't leave without picking up your own jar of Mayhaw Jelly!

Join us for a memorable celebration filled with fun activities for the whole family! To learn more about May(haw) on Main, visit mainstreeteldorado.org. You can also call the Main Street El Dorado office at 870-862-4747.

Sponsors for this year’s event include Roseburg El Dorado-MDF, Mac’s Tree Service, First Financial Bank, Hepco, Red River Credit Union, Lawrence Electric, Judge Mike and Phena Loftin,Brookshires, I ♥︎ El Dorado, The Haywood and the El Dorado A&P Commission.

For more information, contact:
Beth Brumley, Executive Director of Main Street El Dorado
(870)862-4747 (office)
director@mainstreeteldorado.org
www.mainstreeteldorado.org / https://www.facebook.com/mainstreeteldorado

 

SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN WYNNE BLOCK PARTY SHOOTING THAT KILLED 1 AND INJURED AT LEAST 9
April 17, 2024
WYNNE, Ark. —  On Tuesday, April 16, 2024, Special Agents from the Arkansas State Police (ASP) arrested four individuals in connection with a block party shooting that resulted in the death of one person and injuries to at least nine others.

“I’m proud of how Arkansas State Police personnel worked with the Wynne Police Department to swiftly apprehend the suspects in this case,” said ASP Colonel Mike Hagar.

The suspects, Quavarius Milon, 23, Tommie Frost, 18, Carl Washington, 21, and Cameron Crawford, 22, all from Cross County, have been taken into custody and are being held at the Cross County Detention Center.

All four suspects are charged with First-Degree Murder, nine counts of First-Degree Battery, and nine counts of Engaging in Violent Criminal Group Activity.

The incident occurred on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at about 10 p.m. near the corner of Williams Avenue and Martin Luther King Street in Wynne. Two victims were run over by vehicles at the scene.

Varian Campbell, 27, of Wynne was pronounced dead at an area hospital. Victims were male and female, with ages ranging from 24 to 49.

The deceased was transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, where the manner and cause of death will be determined.

 

DAVID HOUSTON OF THE OHR-O’KEEFE MUSEUM OF ART TO JUROR SAAC'S 2024 JURIED ART COMPETITION
The South Arkansas Arts Center is pleased to announce the selection of David Houston of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi as juror for the 2024 SAAC Juried Art Competition.  The deadline for artist entries into the competition is Tuesday, May 14 with exhibition showing June17- July 24, 2024..    

Designed by Frank Gehr, The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art celebrates the innovative, independent and creative spirit of namesake Mississippi master potter George Ohr (1857-1918). David Houston has served as the Executive Director and Chief Curator since 2020. 

With experience developing collaborative relationships between artists and institutions and inter-institutional collaborations, Houston has consulted or led the opening of six cultural institutions as well as a nature-based sculpture park. He also has over 28 years of curatorial experience in exhibition design, installation, and lighting with specialties in modern art, contemporary art, architecture, American art, and nature-based art.  

Prior to his current position at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, Houston was the Director of the Bartlett Center at Columbus State University in Georgia, The Director of Curatorial at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, and the Chief Curator and Co-Director of the Ogden Museum in New Orleans.

Houston has taught the history of art at the Clemson University School of Architecture, the University of New Orleans, and the Brandenburg Technical University, Germany. He is the author of over fifty publications on art, architecture, photography and self-taught art.

SAAC's Juried Art Competition is juried by nationally and internationally recognized art professionals and is open to all artists and makers across the nation, ages 18 and up who work in two-dimensional and three-dimensional fine arts media, including but not limited to, paintings, sculptures, photography, computer generated art, video, fiber art, and multi-media. Artists may submit any number of entries via digital image to the SAAC web site at www.saac-arts.org. Each submission is $10. 

For more full details about SAAC’s juried art competition, please go to our web site at www.saac-arts.org or call us at 870-862-5474.
 

HOUSE PASSES WESTERMAN COSPONSORED BILLS TO COMBAT IRANIAN AGGRESSION
WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 6046 and H.R. 5947, legislation cosponsored by Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) to comprehensively address the threat posed by Iran. Westerman released the following statement in support of the bills:

“Iran is one of the world’s foremost sponsors of terrorism. The Obama Administration set an unruly precedent of appeasing Iran that the Biden Administration has compounded. This weakness has emboldened Iran to continue launching unjustified attacks against Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East, just as we saw this past weekend. House Republicans acted swiftly this week with a slate of bills to stand with Israel and respond to Iran’s unprecedented attacks. I was proud to support these measures to further block Iran’s ability to continue financing these heinous attacks.”

BACKGROUND:
In 2021, the Biden Administration wrongfully removed the Iran-backed Houthis’ designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). Since then, the Houthis have increased their terrorist activities, including their ongoing missile and drone attacks against global shipping.

H.R.  6046 would mandate the reimposition of the FTO and SDGT designations on the Houthis.

Since President Biden took office, the Biden Administration has used certain waivers and licenses related to Iran to transfer $6 billion in Iranian funds to restricted accounts in Qatar and $10 billion in payments from Iraq. The Iranian regime is highly skilled in evasion, cutting corners, and blurring lines to hide the true use of these funds, and the Biden Administration is compliant and complicit in these efforts. Any funding to Iran, even if nominally in a restricted account, frees up more money for Iran to use on malign activities. Iran is too potent a threat to the United States and our partners to allow these waivers to exist any longer.

H.R. 5947 would eliminate any of these sanction waivers and licenses related to Iran.


ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN LEADS 23-STATE AMICUS IN SUPPORT OF WEST VIRGINIA’S ABORTION LAW
Griffin: ‘The Food and Drug Administration’s flawed approval of an abortion drug ... doesn’t override West Virginia’s state law prohibiting abortions’
LITTLE ROCK – After filing an amicus brief on behalf of himself and 22 other state attorneys general in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit supporting West Virginia’s abortion prohibition, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

“Two years ago, the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade and returned the authority to regulate or prohibit abortion to the States. The Food and Drug Administration’s flawed approval of an abortion drug doesn’t change that, and that’s why I led 22 states in filing an amicus brief arguing that FDA approval of an abortion drug doesn’t override West Virginia’s state law prohibiting abortions.”

The amicus supports West Virginia’s defense of its abortion restrictions from a legal challenge by the abortion drug maker GenBioPro, which claims that West Virginia cannot ban abortion because that would restrict access to an FDA-regulated drug. In particular, GenBioPro claims that the FDA’s modest mifepristone safety regulations preempt all state laws that affect mifepristone access—an erroneous view that would preempt a host of state laws regulating everything from the practice of pharmacy and medicine to state malpractice law. 

Attorney General Griffin previously led a multistate amicus brief supporting West Virginia’s motion to dismiss this case in federal district court. That court agreed and dismissed GenBioPro’s lawsuit. The states supporting West Virginia urge the Fourth Circuit to affirm that decision.

April 17, 2024

FREE MEDICAL AND DENTAL CLINIC TO BE HELD IN CAMDEN
There will be a free Medical and Dental Clinic at the First Baptist Church of Camden on Saturday May 18, 2024. Registration will begin at 8:00 AM. The clinic will include dental cleanings, dental extractions and a physician will be on site. For more information call Jennifer at 870-450-1855. First Baptist Church is located at 348 West Washington Street in Camden. This event is sponsored by your local Southern Baptist Churches and the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.


AIRSTREAMS ON THE SQUARE AND GRILL WARS RETURN TO DOWNTOWN EL DORADO IN APRIL
El Dorado, Arkansas — Get ready to have some fun while learning about the RV lifestyle and culture and sampling hearty chili recipes with the award-winning Airstreams on the Square and Grill Wars: Chili Cook-Off on Thursday, April 25 - Sunday, April 28, in Downtown El Dorado!

Presented by Main Street El Dorado, the multi-day event will include a mix of public and private activities, live music, games, karaoke, historic tours, a canned food drive and more!

Admission is free for the public activities.

Each year, Main Street El Dorado and the Arkansas Razorback Airstream Club team up to host AOTS in El Dorado — the only such event in Arkansas.

The theme for Airstreams on the Square 2024 is M*A*S*H, based on the beloved TV series that aired from 1972 - 1983. The theme's tagline, AOTS7th: Best Care Anywhere, denotes the seventh anniversary of AOTS.

Airstreams will begin arriving in town on Thursday, April 25. The public is invited to participate in a bingo game at 7 p.m.

Friday, April 26
Starting at 1:30 p.m.. the public may participate in Singo-Bingo and Baggo.

The M*A*S*H Bash is set for 8 p.m., with a performance by Monroe, Louisiana, band Smackwater, whose playlist includes a blend of classic rock, R&B, Louisiana Soul Swamp Pop, funk, soul and country. Join us for a block party!

Saturday, April 27
Grill Wars: Chili Cook-Off, sanctioned by the International Chili Society, is scheduled for 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Winners will be awarded more than $2,000 in cash and prizes.

Attendees will be able to taste competition chili at the all-you-can-eat cost of $10 starting at 1 p.m. and vote for their favorite. Winners will be announced, and awards presented at 4 p.m. The competition is open to adults and children. For more information or to enter the chili cook-off, visit www.chilicookoff.com.

At 3 p.m., a Klinger Beauty Pageant and Houlihan's Hot Lips Contest — a callback to characters from the M*A*S*H TV show — will be held on stage.

The public will have the opportunity to judge their favorite airstream decor by presenting canned goods to their favorite Airstream that will be donated to the Salvation Army of El Dorado's food pantry.

Sponsors for Airstreams on the Square and grill Wars are Main Street El Dorado, the City of El Dorado, the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission, Union County Judge Mike and Phena Loftin, Lawrence Electric, United Insurance Agency, Inc., Mac's Tree Service, Inc. and Foley RV Center.

For additional information, call the Main Street El Dorado Office at 870-862- 4747 or send an email to director@mainstreeteldorado.org. Also, visit MainStreetElDorado.org or www.facebook.com/mainstreeteldorado.

Main Street El Dorado
Main Street El Dorado is a Main Street America TM -accredited program that is committed to continued downtown revitalization.

The program builds on the downtown total image with an incremental approach that utilizes four elements, including:
• Organization/Membership.
• Design.
• Promotion.
• Economic Vitality.


ARKANSAS ASSISTS IN LEADING AGRICULTURAL TRADE MISSION TO VIETNAM
LITTLE ROCK, AR
– Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward assisted in leading a National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Emerging Markets Trade Mission to Vietnam from April 5-13, 2024.

Secretary Ward is currently serving as the Vice President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Secretary Ward was joined by Rick Pate, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture; Christy Clark, Montana Director of Agriculture; Sherry Vinton, Nebraska Director of Agriculture; Derek Sandison, Washington Director of Agriculture; Amanda Brondy, Global Cold Chain Alliance; and members of the NASDA staff.

The trade mission follows Governor Sanders’ successful trade mission to South Korea and Japan from March 6-14, 2024, and highlights the potential for significant increases in agricultural trade in Asia as we seek to continue to diversify our state’s agricultural trading markets away from China.

Vietnam is currently Arkansas’s fourth largest agricultural export market with a value of over $61 million which includes cotton, feeds and fodders, poultry, and forest products. Vietnam ranks as the 10th largest agricultural export market for the United States with a value of $3.46 billion. Vietnamese consumers view products from the United States as high quality and safe with an increasing demand for high-value consumer-oriented products and growing modern food retail, food service, and food processing sectors. Further, Vietnam has a population of 100 million with half of the population expected to enter the global middle class by 2035.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture hosted delegations from Thailand and Vietnam in Arkansas on October 15-17, 2023, as the first NASDA inbound trade mission through the Emerging Market Programs. During the inbound trade mission, delegates traveled throughout the state to learn about Arkansas’s largest industry to include visits at McGehee Producers Gin, the Port of Little Rock, Ben E. Keith, the University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center, Isbell Farms and Origami Sake, Bruce Oakley, as well as numerous discussions with Arkansas agriculture industry leaders and associations.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture, forestry, and natural resources conservation to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while sustaining natural resources and 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.

ENTERGY ARKANSAS CELEBRATES 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF REMMEL DAM
Providing hydroelectric power to the state of Arkansas for 100 years
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – If it weren’t for construction of Remmel and Carpenter dams a century ago, some of the state’s greatest recreation areas may not exist. As Remmel Dam marks its 100th anniversary, community and company leaders gathered at Lake Catherine to celebrate the decades of reliable, clean energy the dam provides.

Constructed and first brought online by Arkansas Power and Light Company in 1924, Remmel Dam is located on the Ouachita River near Jones Mills in Hot Spring County. Together with Carpenter Dam in Hot Springs, they provide hydroelectric power for the natural state and form lakes Catherine and Hamilton

”Remmel Dam is an essential part of Entergy Arkansas’ diverse fuel mix portfolio,” said William Cunningham, director of resource planning for Entergy Arkansas. “Harnessing the hydroelectric power enhances our clean energy offerings and positions us well for future power generation needs.”

Senior leadership from Entergy Arkansas, Entergy Power Generation, family members of AP&L founder Harvey Couch and current employees working at Remmel Dam gathered with state and local officials and members of the community to celebrate the dam’s centennial anniversary this morning at the dam site in Malvern. Festivities included a dedication recognizing Remmel Dam’s place in Arkansas and Entergy history, guided tours of the dam site and a pop-up museum of artifacts, information and photos.

Tours of Remmel Dam will be given to Entergy Arkansas employees and retirees throughout this week, and area schools have scheduled tours the last week in April. The dam will be open to the public for guided tours June 10-13. Visitors should wear closed toed shoes if they are interested in visiting the dam up close.

Couch founded AP&L in 1913. Three years later, he was approached by Flave Carpenter about building dams on the Ouachita River to harness hydroelectric power.

Remmel Dam was one of the first major sources of power generation for AP&L. It was the third generation site built by Harvey Couch and the only one still operating today, with many original parts, in service for Entergy. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. The lake and surrounding area created by Remmel Dam has been a great source of tourism and economic development for the state.

Remmel Dam is named after Colonel Harmon L. Remmel, a friend of Harvey Couch who helped facilitate meetings in Washington D.C. for Couch to obtain licensing and permission to build the dam. Construction on the dam began in May 1923 and was completed in December 1924 at a total cost of $2,142,000.

“The benefits that Remmel Dam has brought to the Malvern and Hot Springs area are numerous,” said Kimberly Bogart, lakes manager for Carpenter and Remmel Dams. “The dams were originally intended to help bring reliable low-cost electrical power to the state, but now also serve multiple purposes including fisheries and especially recreation/tourism. Hot Springs is the number one tourist destination in the state of Arkansas and one of the major draws is the area lakes, which all started with Remmel Dam and Lake Catherine.

Today, power from Remmel Dam services not only Entergy Arkansas, but is also interconnected to the Entergy power grid. Entergy Arkansas plans to continue maximizing the dam’s ability to provide safe and reliable hydroelectric power to the state of Arkansas for the next century.

“With one hundred years in service, the dam boasts a legacy of rich history and community partnership,” said Bogart. We are looking forward to building on this legacy and continuing to be a valued resource for Entergy Arkansas and the state for years to come.”

About Entergy Arkansas
Entergy Arkansas, LLC provides electricity to approximately 730,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, a Fortune 500 electric company. Entergy powers life for 3 million customers through our operating companies in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. We’re investing in the reliability and resilience of the energy system while helping our region transition to cleaner, more efficient energy solutions. With roots in our communities for more than 100 years, Entergy is a nationally recognized leader in sustainability and corporate citizenship. Since 2018, we have delivered more than $100 million in economic benefits each year to local communities through philanthropy, volunteerism and advocacy. Entergy is headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana, and has approximately 12,000 employees. For the latest news from Entergy Arkansas, visit the Newsroom and connect with @EntergyArk on social media.



ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN UNVEILS OPIOID MOBILE HEALTH CLINIC
Griffin: ‘This mobile health clinic will reach previously underserved and unserved Arkansans in need of treatment for opioid addiction’
LITTLE ROCK – At a press conference in Malvern today, Attorney General Tim Griffin announced the deployment of a mobile health clinic run by Arkansas Mobile Opioid Recovery (ARMOR). Griffin issued the following statement:

“This mobile health clinic will reach previously underserved and unserved Arkansans in need of treatment for opioid addiction. The $770,000 that my office granted to ARMOR from the state’s opioid settlement funds is money well spent. This mobile clinic not only establishes new treatment capabilities for those battling addiction, but because of its mobile nature, it also gives us a nimble tool to take our opioid abatement effort to the places where it is needed most.

“I greatly appreciate the vision of Dr. Kristin Martin in bringing the concept of this mobile clinic to my attention and then following through to its fruition. My hope is that this mobile clinic will serve as a pilot program, and, if it has the type of success we anticipate, more funds can be raised to establish similar units to serve more corners of the state.”

The mobile unit will be deployed initially on a rotating basis to Malvern, Danville, and Morrilton, providing those communities with a wide range of services, including opioid-addiction assessments; on-site medical consultations; individualized treatment planning; medication-assisted treatment for Opioid Use Disorder; counseling and peer recovery support services; and follow-up care and monitoring.

Griffin first announced funding for the ARMOR mobile health clinic at his Stop Overdose Summit in November 2023. More than 1,300 people registered for the event where Griffin announced grants totaling just over $1 million from state opioid settlement funds.

For more information about the mobile health unit, visit www.armobilerecovery.org or call (833) 280-5313.
 

LRCVB NAMES MARKETING DIRECTOR - OLUMIDE YEROKUN TO LEAD BUREAU’S MARKETING DEPARTMENT
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 16, 2024) - The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) has announced the hiring of Olumide Yerokun as Director of Marketing. Bringing more than a decade of experience to the role, Yerokun will manage a variety of promotional strategies and activities to boost the Bureau’s tourism efforts for Little Rock.

“Olumide is off to a great start,” said LRCVB President & CEO Gina Gemberling. “Olumide’s social media and marketing experience will serve him well in planning promotional efforts for the LRCVB, and we look forward to seeing him put his plans into action.”

Yerokun joins the LRCVB after most recently working as a client account manager for Bayard Advertising. Prior to that role, Yerokun led social media strategies for Hendrix College, GWL Advertising and Albright Ideas. He also served as a social media director for ACANA (African Cultural Alliance of North America) and led content and marketing strategy for One Tribe Magazine.

“I am thrilled with the opportunity to join the marketing team,” Yerokun said. “With my experience and passion for driving innovative marketing strategies, I am eager to contribute to the LRCVB's growth and success by creating impactful campaigns that position the city as a regional leader.”

Yerokun earned his bachelor’s degree in business marketing from Morehouse College. Yerokun, who was raised in Little Rock, lived in Georgia and Pennsylvania before returning to Little Rock in 2016.

ABOUT THE LITTLE ROCK CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU 
The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) is the official destination marketing organization for the City of Little Rock, charged with marketing and selling the city as a meeting, sports and leisure travel destination. The LRCVB also manages the Statehouse Convention Center, Robinson Center, River Market and multiple parking facilities. For more information, visit www.littlerock.com.  

 

WESTERMAN, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE SECOND CHANCE REAUTHORIZATION ACT
WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Representatives Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Carol Miller (WV-01), Danny Davis (IL-07), Bobby Scott (VA-03), Barry Moore (AL-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), and Jerry Nadler (NY-12) introduced the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2024, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize Second Chance Act programs for an additional five years and reduce recidivism rates nationwide.

“Promoting second chances is essential to breaking the cycle of crime. When we meet individuals who have paid their debts to society with the support and tools they need to succeed, rather than with burdensome legal and social barriers, they are less likely to re-offend and more likely to be positive members of our communities," said Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04). "I'm proud to support the Second Chance Reauthorization Act to promote second chances and foster safer communities. The opportunities and resources provided by this legislation are paramount in breaking the cycle of crime and reducing recidivism rates in Arkansas and nationwide.”

“In West Virginia, we know how important it is to provide everyone with opportunities to succeed. The Second Chance Reauthorization Act is an important component of my efforts to reduce recidivism rates and increase public safety. When we invest in our communities and put in place strong reentry services and supports for people released from prisons and jails, we build stronger and safer communities,” said Congresswoman Miller. “The bill’s strengthened provisions around transitional housing services and substance abuse treatment will be instrumental in helping people in West Virginia and across the nation get back on the right path as they reenter their communities.”
 
“Second Chance reentry programs and services have reached hundreds of thousands of individuals and families across the country, creating healthier families and safer communities,” said Congressman Davis. “Continuing to invest in these evidenced-based interventions is a commonsense approach to strengthen individuals, re-build families, and grow our economy.”

“The Second Chance Act provides an invaluable safety net for those returning to society. Recently incarcerated individuals require a number of stabilizing services and opportunities to get their life back on the right track. We have the evidence and tools at our disposal to reduce recidivism and encourage successful reentry, and we know that the programs funded through the Second Chance Act work. I thank my colleagues for joining this bipartisan effort with me,” said Congressman Scott.
 

COTTON TO BIDEN: INVESTIGATE AND BAN TEMU
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today sent a letter to President Joe Biden about the retail application Temu and its harmful practices, including gathering massive amounts of Americans’ personal data. Senator Cotton asked President Biden to address questions about the Chinese government’s control over the app, Temu’s violations of U.S. laws and regulations, and actions the administration can take against Temu.

In part, Senator Cotton wrote:
“As with TikTok and other invasive Chinese apps, Temu has no place in America. It’s a threat to American producers, investors, online retailers, and every single American’s personal privacy. I urge you to investigate Temu and to request the authorities necessary to protect Americans from this dangerous Chinese application.”

 Full text of the letter may be found below.

April 15, 2024

President Joseph R. Biden

The White House,

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden,
I write to you regarding the urgent threat from the Chinese retail application, Temu. This malign app is a pipeline of dumped, counterfeit, and slave-labor products from China that is also gathering massive quantities of Americans’ personal data.

After launching in 2022, Temu has skyrocketed to one of the most downloaded apps in America and already rivals eBay for online sales. It has achieved this astronomical growth through billions of dollars of advertisements, including Super Bowl ads, and by undercutting competitors with extremely cheap and often counterfeit Chinese goods. Temu sells many of its products at a fraction of the price of its American competitors.

Temu’s goods are cheap not because of fair competition, but rather because of China’s familiar combination of intellectual-property theft, government subsidies, and human-rights abuses. For example, Temu directly copies Amazon storefronts and then sells knock-off Chinese versions of the product at a deeply discounted rate. Temu also likely benefits from the use of slave labor. According to the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, “American consumers should know that there is an extremely high risk that Temu’s supply chains are contaminated with forced labor.”

Temu is getting away with this intellectual-property theft, unfair competition, and use of slave labor by flooding the American market with more than a million individual packages a week. Worse still, the company is importing these goods tax-free under the so-called de minimis loophole in such volumes that Customs and Border Protection simply can’t keep up.

Further, Temu is harvesting vast amounts of personal information from American consumers. In fact, Temu’s data gathering may be even more dangerous than TikTok’s and, according to one lawsuit, the app can access “everything on your phone.” Google Play also removed Temu’s parent company Pinduoduo’s (PDD) app as a result of harmful malware hidden in the app that gave it access to everything from biometrics to information about Wi-Fi networks.[x] This poses a grave threat to Americans’ privacy. PDD Holdings received more than $400 million in “income” from the PRC government last year, which suggests that PDD Holdings may be selling data collected on Temu to entities affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party.

As with TikTok and other invasive Chinese apps, Temu has no place in America. It’s a threat to American producers, investors, online retailers, and every single American’s personal privacy. I urge you to investigate Temu and to request the authorities necessary to protect Americans from this dangerous Chinese application. I also urge you to end the de minimis loophole for China and other American adversaries.

Please provide answers to the following questions by May 10, 2024.

 To what degree does the Chinese government exercise control or influence over Temu and its parent company PDD Holdings?

How many leaders of Temu and its parent company PDD Holdings are members of or affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party?

Has your administration investigated Temu’s data gathering and its threat to American personal privacy?

To what extent does Temu steal and counterfeit American products and has the Department of Justice’s Intellectual Property Section investigated Temu, PDD Holdings, and members of the Board of Directors for criminal intellectual-property violations?

Has your administration directed the Department of the Treasury to investigate Temu for possible violations of anti-money laundering regulations?

Has your administration directed the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate PDD Holdings for potential securities fraud given its status as a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ exchange? 

Is it safe for military personnel to have Temu downloaded on their personal or government devices?

What authorities would your administration need to ban Temu? If given these authorities, would you follow through with a ban?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

April 15, 2024

DON’T RISK IT ON 4/20: DRIVE HIGH, GET A DWI
April 15, 2024
(LITTLE ROCK)  The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with Arkansas law enforcement to urge drivers to stay sober behind the wheel. This upcoming Saturday, April 20, 2024, marks the unofficial marijuana “holiday,” and there will likely be an increase in marijuana use. Marijuana laws are changing constantly across the country, but one thing remains: Impaired driving is illegal and deadly. NHTSA is reminding all drivers: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DWI.

“If you are impaired, do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle,” said Arkansas Public Safety Secretary Colonel Mike Hagar. “We are asking our community members to use good judgement, obey the law, and make safe choices when driving a vehicle. Your decisions don’t just affect you — they affect everyone on the road.”

If you think being high won’t affect your driving, you’re wrong. It has been proven that marijuana can slow reaction times, impair cognitive performance, and make it more difficult for drivers to keep a steady position in their lane. Whether the drug is legally obtained or not, drug-impaired driving poses a threat to everyone on the road.

If you are impaired, give your keys to a sober driver who can safely drive you home or to a safe place. Remind your friends to never get in the vehicle with an impaired driver. If you have a friend who is about to drive while high, advise them not to drive and help them get to their destination safely. They’ll thank you later.

By working together, we can save lives and help keep Arkansas’ roadways safe. Please join the Arkansas Highway Safety Office in sharing the lifesaving message: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DWI.

For more information on impaired driving, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drug-impaired-driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8127, and go to https://www.tzdarkansas.org/ to learn about Arkansas’ Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities. 

ARKANSAS GROWN SCHOOL GARDEN OF THE YEAR CONTEST ENTRIES ACCEPTED THROUGH JUNE 14
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Entries are being accepted for the 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 2023-2024 school year or is planning to start a garden in the 2024-2025 school year.

“School gardens are valuable educational tools that help students develop healthy eating habits, participate in hands-on activities, and learn about Arkansas agriculture,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “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 14, 2024, and the application can be found at cognitoforms.com/ArkansasAgriculture1/ArkansasGrownSchool GardenOfTheYearContest2024. Winners will be announced in the fall of 2024.

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 - $1,000 Award
Champion of School Garden Sustainability - $1,000 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 jessica.chapman@agriculture.arkansas.gov.

The Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas are locally-owned and managed financial cooperatives that are part of the national Farm Credit System. They are dedicated to making a significant and positive impact on agriculture, rural communities, and youth in agriculture through their statewide partnership. Three independent associations come together to form Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas – Farm Credit of Western Arkansas, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, and Farm Credit Mid-America. The Farm Credit System has supported rural America since 1916 and remains committed to its original mission of providing reliable, dependable credit to farmers, ranchers and rural homeowners. “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 of Western Arkansas President and CEO, Brandon Haberer, on behalf of the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture, forestry, and natural resources conservation to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while sustaining natural resources and 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.


ONE DEAD, AT LEAST 9 INJURED IN WYNNE BLOCK PARTY SHOOTING  
March 14, 2024
WYNNE, Ark. – One man was killed and at least nine people were injured April 13, 2024, when shots were fired at about 10 p.m. at a block party near the corner of Williams Avenue and Martin Luther King Street in Wynne. Two victims were run over by vehicles at the scene.

The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the incident at the request of the Wynne Police Department. Investigators have identified multiple people of interest and encourage anyone with information about the incident to call Troop D at (870) 970-6082.

Varian Campbell, 27, of Wynne was pronounced dead at an area hospital. Victims were male and female, with ages ranging from 24 to 49.

Victims were transported to St. Bernards CrossRidge Community Hospital in Wynne, Forrest City Medical Center, and hospitals in Memphis, Tenn., and Jonesboro. One victim was transported by helicopter to the Regional One Health Elvis Presley Trauma Center in Memphis. Authorities believe additional injured individuals may have been transported to hospitals in private vehicles.

The deceased was transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, where manner and cause of death will be determined. The investigation is ongoing.


CID INVESTIGATING OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING FATALITY IN HEMPSTEAD COUNTY
April 12, 2024
COLUMBUS, Ark. — Special Agents with the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Arkansas State Police (ASP) are investigating the shooting death of a Hempstead County man by a Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputy.

On Thursday, April 11, 2024, at approximately 8:52 p.m., HCSO responded to a 2900 block of Highway 73 residence in the Columbus community of Hempstead County to serve a felony arrest warrant. Deputies contacted the subject of the warrant, identified as Randy May, 65, at the front door of his residence. According to a witness, May was armed with a machete and charged deputies. A deputy fired his service weapon, striking May. May succumbed to his injuries on the scene.

ASP CID agents will prepare an investigative file to be submitted to the Hempstead County Prosecuting Attorney, who will determine whether the use of deadly force by the sheriff’s deputy was consistent with Arkansas laws.
 

ARKANSAS STATE POLICE INVESTIGATING INCIDENT INVOLVING OFFICER’S USE OF FORCE
April 12, 2024
WICKES, Ark. — The 18th West Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney has requested the Arkansas State Police (ASP) Criminal Investigation Division (CID) to investigate an alleged use of physical force by a Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) Deputy.

The incident took place on or around Monday, April 8, 2024, near Wickes in Polk County, which resulted in non-life-threatening injuries to the individual.

ASP Special Agents assigned to the case will present their findings to prosecuting attorneys for review

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TO HOST LOCATION-SPECIFIC PUBLIC MEETINGS FOR ARKANSAS WATER PLAN UPDATE
LITTLE ROCK, AR – In compliance with Executive Order 23-27 signed by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) is updating the Arkansas Water Plan. As a part of the comprehensive analysis required by Governor Sanders’ executive order, the Department will hold public meetings to engage stakeholders in identifying current water issues, needs, and best practicable solutions.

The meetings are scheduled for May 6 -10, 2024 from 10:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. The format for each meeting will consist of a general overview of the current water plan and discussion about potential updates during the morning session and location-specific water supply discussion in the afternoon from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Attendees are welcome to attend all or parts of each meeting but encouraged to arrive 15 minutes early for on-site registration. The meetings will be held in the following locations:

May 6, 2024 – Fowler Center 201 Olympic Drive, Jonesboro, AR 72401 (Afternoon session topic: Water Infrastructure) 

May 7, 2024 – Fort Smith Convention Center, 55 S 7th St., Fort Smith, AR 72901 (Afternoon session topic: Drinking Water Supply)

May 8, 2024 – Donald W. Reynolds Campus & Community Center, 100 E. University St., Magnolia, AR 71753 (Afternoon session topic: Industrial Water Supply and Mineral Extraction) 

May 9, 2024 – Rice Research and Extension Center, 2900 AR-130, Stuttgart, AR 72160 (Afternoon session topic: Agricultural Water Supply)

May 10, 2024 – Arkansas Cooperative Extension State Office, 2301 S. University, Little Rock, AR 72204 (Afternoon session topic: Environmental Quality and Recreation). A virtual option will be provided on the agency website at agriculture.arkansas.gov

Representatives from all water use sectors, including interested water planning groups, state and federal agencies, legislators, and local entities, are encouraged to participate in the meetings. If you would like to provide feedback about water issues, please fill out the Arkansas Water Engagement Form, bit.ly/ArkansasWaterPlanSurvey. Contact J. Ryan Benefield at Ryan.Benefield@agriculture.arkansas.gov or at 501-682-3962 for additional meeting information. Learn more about the Arkansas Water Plan at agriculture.arkansas.gov/natural-resources/divisions/water-management/arkansas-water-plan/. The update of the Arkansas Water Plan and the development of a statewide flood plan is being conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The purpose of the Arkansas Water Plan is to conserve and protect the state’s water resources, with a long-term goal of sustainable use to maximize the environmental and economic benefit of the State of Arkansas, and the health and well-being of its citizens. Learn more about the Arkansas Water Plan at agriculture.arkansas.gov/natural-resources/divisions/water-management/arkansas-water-plan/. Read Executive Order 23-27 at governor.arkansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/EO-23-27-Arkansas-Water-Plan-1.pdf

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture, forestry, and natural resources conservation to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while sustaining natural resources and 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.


LRCVB NAMES MOBILE VISITOR CENTER PUBLIC CONTEST HELD FOR NAMING
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 15, 2024) - The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) has announced the winner of a naming contest held for its new mobile visitor center. 

Now known as Pebbles, the mobile visitor center’s name is a play on words for Little Rock and was inspired by an acronym. Little Rock resident Tamarha Walker suggested Pebbles, to Promote Every Bit of Big Little Rock Excitement. 

The mobile visitor center was unveiled on February 29 and the contest was held on the LRCVB’s website. More than 200 responses were received, which gave the LRCVB a wealth of options. Narrowed to 10 finalists by an internal committee, the winner was chosen by votes from all LRCVB employees. 

Along with bragging rights, Walker was presented with a Little Rock Staycation package as the winner. This included a hotel night and gift certificate to a local restaurant.  

“Pebbles is such a fun name,” said LRCVB President & CEO Gina Gemberling. “We knew from the start that we wanted the mobile visitor center to have a distinct personality that reflects all that makes Little Rock the perfect leisure travel destination.” 

Pebbles will serve as a roving billboard and ambassador to promote Little Rock. It will gather data while in other cities to market Little Rock as a destination to potential visitors. While positioned in Little Rock, the unit will gather visitor profile data including origin, length of stay, and attractions and locations visited. This will assist the LRCVB to develop more strategic marketing strategies. 

The eclipse was the first major event for Pebbles. It was used to greet the crowd in the River Market District by providing destination information and selling eclipse-themed merchandise. 

For more information about Pebbles, please visit www.littlerock.com

HOT SPRING COUNTY SHERIFF ARRESTED
April 10, 2024
As a result of an ASP Criminal Investigation Division probe, Hot Spring County Sheriff Scott Finkbeiner was charged on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, with misdemeanor sexual solicitation and felony unauthorized use of the Arkansas Crime Information Center. He surrendered to the Hot Spring County Detention Center. His bond was set at $10,000. No additional information will be released at this time.


UAMS ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR NEW HEALTH CAREER PROGRAM FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS IN DELTA, SOUTH ARKANSAS
LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is accepting applications for the inaugural summer academy of the Arkansas Delta Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) Academy, an initiative that supports students in the Delta and South Arkansas as they pursue careers in health care.

Open to rising high school seniors, HCOP Academy will equip students with the skills they need to gain admission to and succeed in health professional programs.

The academy focuses on expanding the workforce in a variety of health care disciplines, including sonography, dietetics, health administration, medical lab technology, mental and behavioral health, occupational and physical therapy, physician assistant studies, public health, radiography and respiratory therapy.

The program will begin with a residential summer academy from June 17 to July 26 at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Students will gain exposure to high-demand careers in health care, tour the UAMS campus in Little Rock and the UAMS South Central Regional Campus in Pine Bluff, prepare for their ACT exams, and receive instruction in math, science and writing. They’ll also engage in fun activities that foster team building and leadership.

Representatives from colleges and universities in the Delta region will speak about their health-career programs and admission requirements.

To stay engaged with its members during the 2024-25 school year, HCOP Academy will offer monthly workshops and opportunities to meet with student mentors from UAMS and its academic partner institutions. And in 2025, participants will attend a summer academy that prepares them for their postsecondary education.

Applicants must demonstrate an interest in pursuing a health career and must be enrolled at a school in the program’s 20-county service area. Those counties are Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Chicot, Cleveland, Columbia, Crittenden, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Jefferson, Lee, Lincoln, Monroe, Ouachita, Phillips, Sevier, St. Francis and Union.

The deadline to submit applications is April 30. For parents and students who are interested in learning more about the program, HCOP Academy will host a series of virtual informational sessions at 6 p.m. April 17, 18 and 25. To sign up for a session or to apply for the academy, visit https://uams.info/HCOP.

The new academy is operated by the UAMS Division for Academic Pathways and Workforce Partnerships with the assistance of UAMS and community collaborators. Brian Gittens, vice chancellor for academic pathways and workforce partnerships, said the program aims to fill some of the chronic and pervasive gaps in the Delta’s health care workforce.

“HCOP Academy will serve as a steppingstone for students who aspire to enter the health care field and make a difference in their communities,” he said.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and eight institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community Health Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.

 

EL DORADO BRINGS A DAY OF FUN FOR MAY(HAW) ON MAIN
El Dorado, AR.— Come out and enjoy the day in Downtown El Dorado at May on Main. This fourth annual event, presented by Main Street El Dorado, will be held Saturday, May 4th, Starting at 10am on Jefferson Avenue and Elm Street in Downtown El Dorado(201 N Jefferson Street El Dorado AR). This festival is a collaborative effort with the Mayhaw Festival, which begins at 8am on Jackson Street.

Beth Brumley, executive director of Main Street El Dorado, expressed her enthusiasm for this collaboration, sharing, “We are thrilled to announce the partnership with the Mayhaw Festival. This successful collaboration will evolve into one grand event and the Downtown portion will be known as Mayhaw on Main in the future. Mayhaw on Main offers a full day of enjoyment, including music, games, a kid's foam party, a Mimosa bar, shopping, and more. It's the perfect opportunity to experience the charm of our beautiful downtown and all it has to offer.” Admission is FREE to the festival.

Fun Zone Sponsored by Roseburg - El Dorado MDF

El Dorado is the place to be for families and festivalgoers this season! Join us downtown for a host of fun activities and attractions that will keep you entertained all day long. Kids can look forward to an exciting rock-climbing wall, inflatables and a foam party, while the Big Wheel races are sure to be a hit with the little ones. The races start at 1pm, and while there's no entry fee, children must register at 12pm on Jefferson Street.

Great Food
Not only will our Elm Street and Jefferson Ave restaurants will be open for business, but we will also have a variety of food trucks offering delicious treats such as Flossie's Funnel Cakes and Corndogs, Willie T’s BBQ and King Kone's sno cones and more. Come join us for a wonderful dining experience and indulge in some of the best food and treats the area has to offer.

Live Music on Jefferson Street Courthouse Stage
Live Music sets the tone, and we have an exciting music line up for you! The event will kick off at 11:00 with Ruston’s very own Luke Johnson taking the stage. Following that, we have Captain Erick Meadows scheduled to perform at 12:15, and closing out the day will be the fantastic Second Hand Jacket starting at 1:15. Get ready for a day filled with amazing music and vibrant performances.

Beer Garden and Mimosa Bar
New this year, and sure to be an instant hit, we excitedly announce “The Well Garden Mimosa Bar”, sponsored by The Haywood Hotel where we will be offering bottomless Mimosas (11am-1pm)! Whether you're looking to cool off or simply wash down some delicious festival food, we've got you covered. In addition to our bottomless Mimosa bar, we will also have beer, soft drinks and water available.

Lots To Do
In addition to the Live Music and Kids Fun Zone, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Mayhaw on Main Vendors will begin at 10am and all the downtown boutiques and shops will be open. Don't miss the chance to join Michaela Miller Photography for a Mother’s Day mini photo shoot that includes a 10 min session and 10 digital photos located on Elm Street outside All About Flowers.

To make your day even more special, take a FREE ride on the El Dorado Trolley from 10am - 2pm. There are several stops to take you from Mayhaw on Main to the Mayhaw Festival. The route covers Peach, Jackson, Main and Washington.

If you're looking for a more romantic or more intimate ride, enjoy a wonderful Horse and Carriage ride around El Dorado starting at 10am. Randall Clark Farms will be providing the rides starting at $30 for 2 people. And of course, you can't leave without picking up your own jar of Mayhaw Jelly!

Join us for a memorable celebration filled with fun activities for the whole family! To learn more about May(haw) on Main, visit mainstreeteldorado.org. You can also call the Main Street El Dorado office at 870-862-4747.

Sponsors for this year’s event include Roseburg El Dorado-MDF, Mac’s Tree Service, First Financial Bank, Hepco, Red River Credit Union, Lawrence Electric, Judge Mike and Phena Loftin,Brookshires, I ♥︎ El Dorado, The Haywood and the El Dorado A&P Commission.



STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR MATT STONE
April 12, 2024
LITTLE ROCK – The legislature convened the fiscal session and will spend the next month working on a $6.3 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The legislature has always approved conservative budgets, and the balanced budget proposed by the governor is very conservative even by traditional standards.

It calls for growth in state agency spending of only 1.76 percent, compared to traditional growth of about 3 percent in recent years.

The growth amounts to increased spending of about $109.3 million. The majority of that amount, about $65.7 million, would go to the Education Freedom Account program created last year. Also, the governor proposes an increase of $38.2 million in the state’s Public School Fund.

The State Police would get an increase of about $3.8 million for its trooper school, allowing the agency to add 100 troopers.

State-supported institutions of higher education will receive about $781 million this year. The governor proposes to reduce that amount by $2.45 million next year.

In a speech to a joint session of the Senate and House on the first day of the fiscal session, the governor said that her reason for holding down growth in state government is to make room for future tax cuts. She repeated her pledge to responsibly phase out the state income tax.

We are currently in Fiscal Year 2024, which ends on June 30. Forecasters at the state Department of Finance and Administration predict that the state will end the fiscal year with a budget surplus of about $240.5 million.

The proposed surplus for Fiscal Year 2025, which we’ll finalize during this year’s fiscal session, is predicted to be about $376.6 million.

For the most part legislators will consider budget bills. However, there will be efforts to add non-budget bills to the agenda, which is allowed by the state Constitution if two-thirds of both the Senate and House approve a resolution for their introduction.

The Revenue Stabilization Act, which is the Arkansas balanced budget law, is actually considered a non-budget bill because it doesn’t specifically appropriate tax funds. It sets spending priorities and states the purpose of various funds, but it doesn’t have specific dollar amounts as appropriation bills do.

In past fiscal sessions the Revenue Stabilization Act has been introduced and approved without controversy.

This year some legislators have filed resolutions declaring their wish to file bills affecting the regulation of data centers and crypto mines. They would amend Act 851 of 2023, known as the Arkansas Data Centers Act, which defines how local governments may regulate data centers and crypto mines.

People who live near crypto mines have voiced complaints about the constant noise levels, and local communities have expressed concerns about the amount of electric power and water used by the centers.

Senate Resolution 5 would allow legislation to create noise reduction techniques. The proposed legislation also would prohibit certain foreign entities from owning a controlling interest in an Arkansas data center. The prohibitions also would apply to agents of foreign interests.

Seven other Senate resolutions have been filed seeking to allow introduction of bills to further regulate crypto-mines and data centers.

April 11, 2024

HIGHWAY 387 IN CAMDEN TO CLOSE FOR REPAIRS
OUACHITA COUNTY | April 11, 2024
Highway 387 (Cash Road) will be fully closed just south of Highway 376 (Fairview Road) in Camden from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, April 15 and Tuesday, April 16.

Weather permitting, crews will replace a damaged pipe under Highway 387.

Traffic will detour to Highway 7 South. Please see the attached detour map for additional information.

Traffic will be controlled with the use of barrels, cones, and signage.

Drivers are urged to use caution while traveling in the area.

Additional travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov.   

 

BREAKING GROUND, BUILDING SAFELY: ENTERGY ARKANSAS RECOGNIZES SAFE DIGGING MONTH
Stay safe by knowing where utility lines are buried – call 811 before you dig
Little Rock, Ark. – Spring is here and with warmer temperatures on the way, this is the prime season to start home improvement and landscaping projects. April is National Safe Digging Month and Entergy Arkansas is reminding you to call 811 before digging into your list of spring projects.

National Safe Digging Month serves as a reminder to all people who excavate or dig to call 811 at least two full business days before digging to have the approximate location of their utility lines marked. This process helps prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient utility outages.

The focus of National Safe Digging Month is on preventing serious consequences that could occur from digging without knowing what’s below the surface – not only now, but year-round. 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.

“Protecting our customers and making sure they are safe is our top priority,” said Adam Effrein, vice president of reliability and power delivery for Entergy Arkansas. “Everyone – homeowners, business owners and contractors – should call 811 to ensure you don’t disrupt underground utility lines, including gas, water and electric. Not only is it the safe thing to do, but it’s also the law.”

The depth of underground utility lines varies and there may be multiple utility lines in one common area. The risk of striking underground utility lines exists even when digging only a few inches.

Arkansas has its own 811 call center that can help you stay safe while digging. Call center representatives can advise you 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.

After you make the call to 811, professional locators 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.

If you suspect utility damage of any kind, leave the area immediately and call 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) or call 911. A gas leak could be occurring if you smell the distinctive natural gas odor, hear a hissing or whistling sound near a gas appliance or see dead vegetation or bubbles near a gas line.

For more information, visit Arkansas811.com, Entergy.com/safety/dig/ or call 1-800-482-8998For more on these and other stories visit www.yesradioworks.com.


ARDOT LAUNCHES TRANSPORTATION PERFORMANCE DASHBOARD
Dashboard includes pavement ratings, safety data, and the status of construction jobs
The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) launched an interactive dashboard designed to keep citizens informed about pavement conditions across the state, the status of construction jobs, safety data, and other metrics under the “Transportation Performance” umbrella.

The Transportation Performance Dashboard can be accessed via ARDOT’s website at ardot.gov/performance.

The dashboard features gauges showing bridge condition, Interstate condition, and National Highway condition ratings – along with the evaluation process and what each rating means.

“These ratings are determined using federal standards,” said ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor.  “Seventy-five percent of our budget goes toward taking care of the roads we already have. We’re proud of our pavement preservation efforts across the state and are excited to have a tool that shares where we stand in that continuous effort.”

The dashboard also includes the latest roadway safety data and an interactive map of construction jobs across the state.

“This is a great tool to promote transparency and show the public how their tax dollars are being spent,” said Director Tudor. “We hope to continue adding features to this dashboard over time.”

To learn more about the dashboard and how to navigate it, click here.

Additional travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov.   


 

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OF ARKANSAS DISPATCH 77 LINEWORKERS TO ALABAMA, LOUISIANA
Little Rock, Ark. — April 11, 2024 — The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas have dispatched 77 lineworkers and utility vehicles, along with construction equipment, to assist Alabama Power and DEMCO of Central City, Louisiana, with power restoration efforts.

Seventy professional lineworkers are with Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI) of Little Rock, and seven are with Petit Jean Electric Cooperative of Clinton. Thirty-seven of the AECI lineworkers who are now working in Alabama had completed a power restoration assignment in Mississippi earlier this week. The seven Petit Jean Electric and 33 of the AECI lineworkers are assisting DEMCO.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives along with Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives, and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 600,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.

 

FOUR WAYS TO GET YOUR FAMILY MOVING THIS MONTH
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 11, 2024) – April is Move More Month, which makes it a great time to get moving as a family. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that kids stay active throughout the day and that older kids get an hour of more vigorous physical activity daily. Exercising as a family is a great way to show your children the importance of physical activity at an early age. Here are four ways to get your family moving more this month.

1. Limit screen time.
Setting boundaries to limit your kids’ screen time is a good place to start if you want your family to be more active. With less time to watch TV or play video games, kids will have to find other ways to entertain themselves. Try finding photo hunt apps and games for your kids that encourage spending screen time outside. Be ready to step in with some non-electronic ways to have fun and get them moving, too.

 2. Exercise and play together.
Set aside time to play and stay active as a family. Choosing activities to complete together can show your kids how fun exercise can be. Hiking a local trail or cycling around your neighborhood can be great ways to spend time outdoors while staying active. Consider going bowling or trying mini golf for a fun change of pace.

 3. Buy toys that require activity.
Getting kids to move more can be as simple as encouraging them to play with toys like kites, skateboards, jump ropes and other things that require movement. Consider gifting them these toys for birthdays and holidays. Keeping these toys near the front or back door in your house can also prompt your children to grab them before heading outside.

 4. Think outside of the box.
Gardening and chores might not seem like exercise, but both are great ways to make sure your kids stay active. Planting and caring for a garden will give your kids a reason to spend time outside every day. Chores like raking leaves, shoveling snow and tidying up indoors can keep kids busy and on the move, and it gives you an opportunity to reward them once they’re done.

No matter how you choose to move more this month, make sure you get the whole family involved. The American Heart Association has more tips and resources at heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/getting-active/how-to-get-your-family-active, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about the importance of physical activity for children at cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adding-pa/activities-children.html.

April 10, 2024

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET – EBONY GULLEY RESIGNS
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in regular session on Tuesday, April 09, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Mayor Charlotte Young called the meeting to order promptly at 7:00 pm. The invocation was given by Supt. Roy Wesley, Jr., Pastor at New Hope Tabernacle Of Faith COGIC.  The invocation was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

City Clerk Donna Stewart called the roll. Aldermen Chris Aregood, Marvin Moore, Ed Winters, William McCoy, Joe Askew, Ebony Gulley and L.E. Lindsey, were all in attendance. Aldermen Gerald Castleberry was absent.

The minutes of the March 12, 2024 regular meeting were presented in print. Motion was made and seconded. Alderman Askew noted a correction that needed to be made. Clerk Donna Stewart agreed that there did need to be a correction. Motion was made and seconded to accept the minutes as corrected. The minutes were passed by unanimous vote.

The Financial Report for February was presented in print. Due to mistakes in the report the acceptance of the February financial report was tabled last month. Motion was made and seconded and after some discussion Aldermen Moore, Gulley and Askew abstained. Aldermen Lindsey, Aregood, and Winters voted yes. Alderman McCoy voted no. The Financial report for February was not approved.

The Financial Report for March was presented in print. Motion was made and seconded. There was discussion. Aldermen Winters Lindsey and Aregood voted yes. Aldermen Moore, Gulley, Askew and McCoy voted no. The Financial Report was not approved.

During the Mayor’s Report Police Chief Bo Woody gave his report for the prior year. The Chief reported that there were 4 homicides, 9 robberies, 5 rapes, 44 residential and 13 commercial burglaries, 53 assaults, 52 thefts and 16 auto thefts in 2023. There were a total of 483 criminal cases reported. Of that 483, 407 or 84% were closed. There were 104 cases of Domestic Violence reported. 100% of those cases were closed.

The felony amount stolen in 2023 was $310,125.00. $118,514.00 or 40%  was recovered. There were 159 felony warrants issued and 29 misdemeanor warrants issued in 2023, There were 84 search warrants issued. There were 17 vehicles reported stolen with 13 of the 17 or 76% recovered. There were 4 additional vehicles recovered from other jurisdictions. There were 74 drug cases investigated.

The Police Department responded to 10,751 calls for services during 2023, averaging over 207 calls per week or 30 calls a day for police services. The Police Department took 2,653 Incident reports, responded to 272 traffic accidents, issued 756 traffic citations made 653 physical arrests, served 326 warrants and gave 114 escorts in 2023.

During the calendar year 2023, the Animal Control Officer’s responded to 612 complaints. As a result of these complaints, 346 dogs were confined, 189 reports were filed, 89 ncitations issued and 142 warnings were issued. In 2023, 35 of the dogs that were sent to rescue shelters in other states and 36 were reclaimed

After the Police Chief’s report, the Mayor stated that there would be a public meeting regarding the curfew in Camden. She also mentioned that the Jamboree at the Camden Sportsplex will be this weekend with 24 teams participating. Admission to the Sportplex is free. She also mentioned a CDL Fair coming up as well as a vaccination clinic for your dogs at Carnes Park.

Old Business consisted of Ordinance No. 03-24, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 07-02 assessing a lien on certain property located at 541 Greenwood Street NW, Camden, Arkansas. This was the second reading. Motion was made and seconded. Motion was made to suspend the rules and put it up for the third and final reading. The motion passed by unanimous vote.

The Council move on to new business beginning with Ordinance No. 04-24, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 311 Monroe St. This was the first reading. Motion was made and seconded to amend the rules and move to a final vote. Motion passed. Motion was made and seconded to approve and the Ordinance passed by unanimous vote.

Ordinance No. 05-24, an ordinance permitting an official of the Water and Sewer Commission to be interested in contracts with the City of Camden, Arkansas. This was the first reading of the Ordinance.
 

Ordinance No. 06-24, an ordinance amending Article II of Chapter 5 of the Camden Code regarding dogs; and for other purposes. Motion was made and seconded. This Ordinance addresses ownership. This ordinance would raise the threshold of ownership. Currently if you feed a dog it is considered your dog. This ordinance would remove that stipulation would consider feeding an animal as only being humane. However, it would make law improvement to prove an animal belongs to a particular person. Alderman Aregood had taken some papers to Attorney Frey regarding animal cruelty and questioned why this issue was being addressed and not the animal cruelty. The suggestion was made to take a further look at it and add some language to it regarding cruelty to dogs. The ordinance was tabled.

Resolution No. 19-24, a resolution declaring the dilapidated structures located at 719 Clifton St. NW a public nuisance and to order the removal of the same. Motion was made and seconded. The motion passed by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 20-24, a resolution confirming the appointment of Fred Lilly to the Camden Housing Authority to fill a vacancy. Motion was made and seconded. There was an extensive discussion regarding the Housing Authority. Alderman Gulley made a motion to table Resolution 20-24 and 21-04 a resolution confirming the appointment of Beverly Golden to the Camden Housing Authority, to see if the Housing Authority will show up to a council meeting so that the Aldermen can address their concerns.  The motion passed by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 22-24, a resolution amending the 2024 Annual Operating Budget; awarding the bid for a gas generator for the Camden Police Department; and  for other purposes. Motion was made and seconded. The motion passed by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 23-24, a resolution amending the Annual Operating Budget for 2024; appropriating and      authorizing the transfer of funds from the General fund to the Stret Department; and for other purposes. Motion was made and seconded.  There was extensive discussion. Alderman Lindsey asked if there wasn’t money in a CD for the Street Department. Clerk Stewart stated that was the case.  The discussion continued. There was discussion regarding the CD. Alderman Gulley stated that she was on the Depository Committee that would be involved with cashing in the CD. She stated that she wasn’t comfortable with it so she withdrew from the Depository Committee. Alderman Lindsey said he would be on the Depository Committee for one month.  Following all the discussion the Council voted to accept Alderman Gulley’s resignation from the  Depository Committee. The vote passed with 7 yeses and 1 abstention. Alderman Lindsey was voted to replace Alderman Gulley on the Depository Committee. Alderman Aregood made a motion to table the Resolution to give the Depository Committee time to meet and bring forth some recommendations. The Resolution was tabled.

Resolution No. 24-24, a resolution amending the 2023 Annual Operating Budget for the City of Camden, Arkansas, and appropriating money for each and every item of expenditure therein provided for.    Motion was made and seconded. There was a long discussion. Aldermen Aregood, Lindsey and Winters voted for the resolution. Aldermen McCoy, Gulley and Moore voted no and Alderman Askew abstained. The Resolution failed.

Resolution No. 25-24, a resolution appointing Douglas Jones to the Civil Service Commission. Motion was made and seconded. The motion passed with 7 yeses and Aldermen Moore abstaining.

At the end of the meeting Alderman Gulley resigned the board leaving a vacancy on the Board of Aldermen. Applications will be taken to fill the vacancy and the Council will appoint a replacement for her. The meeting adjourned at  9:15p.m.  The next regular meeting of the Council is scheduled for May 14, 2024.


CITY OF EAST CAMDEN CITY WIDE GARAGE SALE
The City of East Camden will hold its annual City-Wide Garage Sale on Saturday, May 4th, 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 $15. Something New added a couple of years ago: “Vendor Row”.  Vendor Row has been a huge success since it was added in 2022. We still have just a few spaces available for arts & craft vendors who want to come sell their items. Please contact city hall 574-2900 to reserve a booth for $15. Mark your calendars and make plans to come shop our sales on May 4th. For more information please contact: Mayor Angie McAdoo (870) 833-2196  or City Hall (870) 574-2900.

 

SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM REACHES LOWEST LEVEL SINCE 2012
Optimism declined to 88.5 in March
LITTLE ROCK (April 9, 2024) – The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index decreased by 0.9 of a point in March to 88.5, the lowest level since December 2012. This is the 27th consecutive month below the 50-year average of 98. The net percent of owners raising average selling prices rose seven points from February to a net 28% percent seasonally adjusted.

“Small business optimism has reached the lowest level since 2012 as owners continue to manage numerous economic headwinds,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Inflation has once again been reported as the top business problem on Main Street and the labor market has only eased slightly.” 

Though state-specific data is unavailable, NFIB State Director Katie Burns warned that inflation exacerbates the challenges of owning and operating a small business. 

“To keep up with elevated costs, small business owners must pass higher prices onto their customers. This puts Main Street in a difficult position, as inflation continues to rob the purchasing power of hardworking families.” 

Key findings include:
The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher decreased eight points from February to a net negative 18% (seasonally adjusted).

Twenty-five percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business (higher input and labor costs), up two points from February.

Owners’ plans to fill open positions continue to slow, with a seasonally adjusted net 11% planning to create new jobs in the next three months, down one point from February and the lowest level since May 2020.

Seasonally adjusted, a net 38% reported raising compensation, up three points from February’s lowest reading since May 2021. 

As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 37% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period. A net 21% (seasonally adjusted) plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up two points from February. The percent of small business owners reporting labor quality as their top small business operating problem rose two points from February to 18%. Labor cost reported as the single most important problem for business owners decreased by one point to 10%, only three points below the highest reading of 13% reached in December 2021.

Fifty-six percent of owners reported capital outlays in the last six months, up two points from February. Of those making expenditures, 38% reported spending on new equipment, 24% acquired vehicles, and 17% improved or expanded facilities.

Ten percent of owners spent money on new fixtures and furniture and 5% acquired new buildings or land for expansion. Twenty percent (seasonally adjusted) plan capital outlays in the next few months.

A net negative 10% of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, up three points from February. The net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes declined eight points to a net negative 18% (seasonally adjusted).

The net percent of owners reporting inventory gains fell six points to a net negative 7%. Not seasonally adjusted, 12% reported increases in stocks (down one point) and 22% reported reductions (unchanged). A net negative 5% (seasonally adjusted) of owners viewed current inventory stocks as “too low” in March, down one point from February. A net negative 7% (seasonally adjusted) of owners plan inventory investment in the coming months, unchanged from February.

 

The net percent of owners raising average selling prices rose seven points from February to a net 28% seasonally adjusted. Twenty-five percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, up two points from last month.

Unadjusted, 13% reported lower average selling prices and 43% reported higher average prices. Price hikes were the most frequent in finance (61% higher, 10% lower), retail (54% higher, 6% lower), construction (51% higher, 4% lower), wholesale (50% higher, 17% lower), and transportation (44% higher, 0% lower). Seasonally adjusted, a net 33% plan price hikes in March.

The frequency of reports of positive profit trends was a net negative 29% (seasonally adjusted), up two points from February, but still a very poor reading. Among owners reporting lower profits, 29% blamed weaker sales, 17% blamed the rise in the cost of materials, 13% cited usual seasonal change, and 12% cited price change. For owners reporting higher profits, 53% credited sales volumes, 23% cited usual seasonal change, and 12% cited higher selling prices.

Two percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not satisfied. Twenty-seven percent reported all credit needs met and 59% said they were not interested in a loan.

A net 8% reported their last loan was harder to get than in previous attempts. Four percent of owners reported that financing was their top business problem. A net 17% of owners reported paying a higher rate on their most recent loan, up one point from February.

The NFIB Research Center has collected Small Business Economic Trends data with quarterly surveys since the fourth 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 March 2024.


HOUSE PASSES WESTERMAN BILL TO EXPAND OUTDOOR RECREATION OPPORTUNITIES
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Act (EXPLORE), bipartisan legislation sponsored by Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) to expand outdoor recreation access nationwide.

Westerman released the following statement on the policy provisions included in the EXPLORE Act to reopen overnight camping at Albert Pike Recreation Area:

“Ever since the Forest Service suspended overnight camping at Albert Pike Recreation Area, I’ve heard from countless constituents who are disappointed with the decision and frustrated with the mismanagement of the site since the suspension. As such, I included comprehensive and responsible policies in the EXPLORE Act that will ensure the Forest Service reopens overnight camping and better manages the Albert Pike Recreation Area. No one understands the blessing of outdoor recreation opportunities quite like Arkansans, which is why I’m proud to champion the EXPLORE Act to ensure that outdoorsmen and women can safely enjoy their favorite recreation sites, like Albert Pike, for generations to come.”

BACKGROUND:
One of the most popular sites within the Ouachita National Forest is the Albert Pike Recreation Area (APRA), a unique area that has long attracted outdoorsmen and women from across the country. The U.S. Forest Service suspended overnight camping at APRA following a major flash flood that tragically killed 20 people on June 11, 2010. Since then, APRA has been to limited day use. Congressman Westerman’s EXPLORE Act will:

Safely re-open any existing overnight campsites outside of the 100-year flood plain within 30 days of the bill’s enactment.

Identify 54 areas that may be suitable for overnight camping in the recreation area within 6 months of the bill’s enactment.

Establish at least 27 new overnight camping sites outside of the 100-year flood plain, including at least 8 with electric and water hookups, for public use within 2 years of the bill’s enactment.

Require the rehabilitation necessary to make publicly accessible areas in APRA suitable for year-round day use.

In addition to reopening overnight camping at APRA, the EXPLORE Act will:

Improve access to public lands and waters for outdoor recreation.

Modernize technology to improve visitor experiences, like increasing broadband connectivity and creating digital recreation passes.

Streamline the permitting process and reduce fees for small businesses that depend on public land access.

Protect rock climbing in iconic places and create new long-distance bike trails.

Restore campgrounds and modernize infrastructure.

Support gateway communities by addressing housing shortages and outdated infrastructure.

Improve accessibility for military service members, veterans, individuals with disabilities and children.

The EXPLORE Act is supported by more than 100 outdoor organizations, including several Arkansas based organizations who advocate for hunting, fishing, horseback riding, recreational boating, rock climbing, and more.
 

April 08, 2024

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET IN REGULAR SESSION
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

The agenda is as follows:
A. Call To Order
B. Invocation – Supt. Roy Wesley, Jr., Pastor – New Hope Tabernacle Of Faith Cogic, 2236 S. Adams  Ave., Camden, Ar
C. Pledge Of Allegiance
D. Roll Call
E.  Approval Of Minutes
     1. Minutes Of Regular Scheduled Meeting, March 12, 2024
F. Acceptance Of Financial Report
      1. Financial Report For February 2024
      2. Financial Report For March 2024        
G.  Audience Participation
H. Mayor’s Report    
I. Old Business         
      1.  Ordinance No. 03-24, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 07-02 assessing a lien on certain property  located at 541 Greenwood Street NW, Camden, Arkansas. (Second Reading)
 J.  New Business
      1. Ordinance No. 04-24, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 311 Monroe St.
      2. Ordinance No. 05-24, an ordinance permitting an official of the Water and Sewer Commission to be  interested in contracts with the City of Camden, Arkansas
      3. Ordinance No. 06-24, an ordinance amending Article II of Chapter 5 of the Camden Code regarding dogs; and for other purposes.
      4. Resolution No. 19-24, a resolution declaring the dilapidated structures located at 719 Clifton St. NW a public nuisance and to order the removal of the same.
      5. Resolution No. 20-24, a resolution confirming the appointment of Fred Lilly to the Camden Housing Authority to fill a vacancy.
       6.   Resolution No. 21-04, a resolution confirming the appointment of Beverly Golden to the Camden Housing Authority to fill a vacancy.
       7.   Resolution No. 22-24, a resolution amending the 2024 Annual Operating Budget; awarding the bid for a gas generator for the Camden Police Department; and  for other purposes.
       8.   Resolution No. 23-24, a resolution amending the Annual Operating Budget for 2024; appropriating and      authorizing the transfer of funds from the General fund to the Stret Department; and for other purposes.
       9.   Resolution No. 24-24, a resolution amending the 2023 Annual Operating Budget for the City of Camden, Arkansas, and appropriating money for each and every item of expenditure therein provided for.    
      10.  Resolution No. 25-24, a resolution appointing Douglas Jones to the Civil Service Commission.
K. Other Business
L.  Adjournment


PUBLIC MEETING SCHEDULED TO DISCUSS CAMDEN CURFEW
There will be a public meeting to get feedback on revising the curfew in the City of Camden, Arkansas.  This meeting will be held at the Greater St. Paul Baptist Church, in their Community Outreach room AT 6:30 pm on April 15, 2024. The church is located at 896 South Adams Avenue.


ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION KICKS OFF NATIONAL WORK ZONE AWARENESS WEEK
The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) is kicking off National Work Zone Awareness Week with a press event and announcement in downtown Little Rock at 11 a.m. Monday, April 15.

Additionally, ARDOT will display new safety equipment at the event including green-light vehicles, Lane Blade devices, and Gator Getters.  ARDOT’s Mobile Work Zone Memorial will also be on display.

Work Zone Awareness Week is a national safety campaign observed each spring, traditionally at the start of construction season, to encourage safe driving through highway work zones across the country. This year, it will be the week of April 15-19. 

Additionally, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed a State proclamation declaring the week of April 15-19, 2024 as Work Zone Awareness Week in Arkansas. Bridges and buildings in the central Arkansas area will be lit orange in honor of work zone safety.

ARDOT is joined by industry partners that include the Arkansas Chapter of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), the Associated General Contractors of Arkansas (AGC), the Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA), the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The National Work Zone Awareness Week campaign was founded by ATSSA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and FHWA.

What: Arkansas’ 2024 National Work Zone Awareness Week

Kick-Off Event and Announcement

When: 11 a.m., Monday, April 15

Where: Southwest Parking lot of the Clinton Presidential Library, overlooking the 30 Crossing work zone in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock (see attached map)

Who: Open to the public


THE STARLETS TO PERFORM IN CAMDEN, AR ON APRIL 26, 2024
Live On Stage, Inc. and the Ouachita County Community Concert Association announce 50s & 60s female vocal group as part of their 2023 - 2024 Concert Season
CAMDEN, Ark. – (April 5, 2024) – Join the Starlets as they celebrate the iconic girl groups of the 50s & 60s in a one-of-a-kind concert at the Event Center at Fairview Park on Friday, April 26, 2024 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.camdenliveonstage.com.

“They have a fantastic repertoire of classic songs that will have you singing along.”
Charity Event, 2019

Inspired by iconic girl groups The Ronettes, The Angels, The Shirelles and The Supremes, The Starlets take you on a musical journey through the 50’s & 60’s when radio was dominated by Pop, Doo-Wop, R&B and Motown. Take a trip back in time as The Starlets perform such memorable hits as My Boyfriend’s Back, Heatwave, These Boots are Made for Walkin’, Be My Baby, Stop! In the Name of Love, and more! Produced with fabulous costumes, sizzling choreography and engaging audience interaction, this show will inspire you to start “Dancin’ in the Street!” Click Here To View A Video Of The Starlets.

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. 

 

REMINDER: 2024 ARKANSAS CENTURY FARM APPLICATIONS DUE MAY 31
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the 2024 Arkansas Century Farm Program. This program recognizes Arkansas families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years. The program is voluntary and there is no cost to apply.

“Since it began in 2012, the Arkansas Century Farm Program has inducted 604 farm families,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “It is an honor to recognize families across Arkansas who have persevered challenges and contributed greatly to the success of our state’s largest industry over the last century.”
To qualify, Arkansas farms must meet the following criteria:
The same family must have owned the farm for 100 years by December 31, 2024. 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.

Qualifying Arkansas farms will receive a personalized Arkansas Century Farm certificate and metal sign listing the farm name and year established.

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 at beth.moore@agriculture.arkansas.gov or postmarked on or before May 31, 2024, to be eligible for designation as a 2024 inductee.

Please contact Beth Moore at (501) 539-4027 with questions.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture, forestry, and natural resources conservation to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while sustaining natural resources and 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.


STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR MATT STONE
April 5, 2024
LITTLE ROCK – Parents can now apply to the state Education Division for Education Freedom Accounts for next year.

The application period began the first day of April. This school year about 5,000 students are benefitting from the accounts, and more children will be eligible next year.

Eligible families may receive up to 90% of the amount of per student foundation funding for last year. In the 2024-25 school year, that amount will be about $6,856 per Education Freedom Account (EFA).

An education official estimated that 14,000 students would take advantage of EFAs next school year. Families can apply online at efas.ade.arkansas.gov

Expect to be notified of approvals in June.

The governor and the legislature created the accounts last year in Act 237, also known as the LEARNS Act.

The families of students who qualify receive financial help paying for schools of their choice. This year about 100 private schools have been approved to participate. The schools send invoices to the families, then the family uploads it to the student’s Education Freedom Account and an account manager sends funding to the school.

This year eligible students include first-time kindergarteners, students coming from schools that last year got an “F” on school report cards and students from districts in Level 5 of the state’s accountability process for gauging academic distress.

Also eligible this year are students from the Succeed Scholarship Program, which existed before the LEARNS Act was created last year. Children of active duty military personnel also qualify this year.

For the 2024-2025 school year, the criteria will be expanded to include students from a school that got a “D” on school report cards. The children of military veterans and the children of emergency responders.

This year homeschooling expenses are not allowable under the Education Freedom Accounts program. However they will become allowable beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, when instructional and curriculum materials can be paid for through EFAs.

Homeschooled students will have to take the same national standardized tests that private school students take, and the results must be reported to the state Education Division. The expenses of taking the tests can be paid for through EFAs.

In the third year of the LEARNS Act, the 2025-2026 school year, all Arkansas students are eligible to apply for Education Freedom Accounts.

Revenue Report

Legislators return to the Capitol April 10 for the fiscal session. They will approve a state government budget for Fiscal Year 2025, which begins on July 1, 2024.

The state is in healthy financial shape, according to the most recent revenue report for March. Net general revenues were 17.5 percent above forecast. The solid performance was in all three of the major sources of tax revenue for state government – individual income taxes, corporate income taxes and sales taxes.

The governor has proposed a state general revenue budget of $6.31 billion, with most of the increases in spending dedicated to education. Forecasters predict that the state will end Fiscal Year 2024 with a budget surplus of $240.5 million and that Fiscal Year 2025 will end with a surplus of $376.6 million.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN PRAISES STATE SUPREME COURT DECISION ON VOTING MACHINES
Griffin: ‘This is a win for the voters and taxpayers of Arkansas’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement after today’s ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court in Arkansas Voter Integrity Initiative v. Thurston affirming a lower court ruling that the voting machines used in Arkansas elections comply with state law:

“This is a win for the voters and taxpayers of Arkansas as the State Supreme Court affirms what we’ve already known to be true: The voting process and machines used in Arkansas comply with state law. I thank the diligent work of Senior Assistant Attorney General Jordan Broyles in successfully defending the state in this matter.”

April 04, 2024

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PLANS HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL FOR CAMDEN
The Camden Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting the highly anticipated "Soaring to New Heights: Celebrate Labor Day with a Spectacular Sky-High Festival!" on August 30 and 31, 2024.

This event promises to be a spectacular spectacle of hot air balloons, entertainment, and community camaraderie. We believe this festival will not only provide an unforgettable experience but also contribute to the vibrant culture and spirit of our community.

To ensure the success of this event and address any queries or concerns, the Chamber is holding a Question-and-Answer meeting with Balloon Event Manager, Pat Harlow. The meeting will take place on April 5, 2024, at 2PM at OPED, located at 570 Ben Ln, Camden AR 71701. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to engage with Pat, hear about the festival's plans, and voice your thoughts and ideas.

We look forward to seeing you at the Question-and-Answer Meeting and the Labor Day Hot Air Balloon Festival. Your participation and support are crucial to making this event a resounding success.

CAMDEN CITY POLICE RESPOND TO FIGHT IN LINCOLN CENTER
Tuesday evening, April 2nd Officers from the Camden City Police Department were dispatched to Lincoln Center for a fight in progress. Officers arrived go see a large group of individuals running back to their respective apartments. Officer McMahen advised them to all remain in the area. He spoke with a juvenile who led him to a group of women and children who were all screaming at each other. The juvenile stated someone had been beating up on his sister. This was what started the fight. Fighting ensued and a few other people got involved. One adult came out and tried to break up the juvenile brawl. During the investigation, it was determined that this was a mutual combat situation based on the statements given. All parents were advised that a report would be on file.

 

MISSISSIPPI WOMAN ARRESTED DURING TRAFFIC STOP FOR TRAFFICKING FENTANYL
April 3, 2024
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – On Tuesday, April 2, 2024, an ASP Trooper made a traffic stop on a vehicle traveling eastbound on Interstate 40 near the 86-mile marker, seizing approximately half a pound of counterfeit hydrocodone pills containing fentanyl from the center console of the vehicle.  

“Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous substance that has led to a significant increase in overdose-related deaths across this country,” said ASP Colonel Mike Hagar. “Our Troopers will continue to fight to keep this deadly substance out of our communities and uphold our primary duty to keep Arkansans safe.”  

The driver of the vehicle, identified as Jasmine Charmaine Petty, 31, of Pittsboro, Mississippi, was taken into custody after a Trooper stopped her vehicle for speeding and continuously driving in the left lane. She was booked into the Pope County Detention Center on felony charges for Trafficking a Controlled Substance.   

 

ARKANSAS STATE BROADBAND OFFICE RECEIVES NTIA APPROVAL FOR DIGITAL SKILLS AND OPPORTUNITY PLAN
Little Rock, Ark. (April 3, 2024) – The Arkansas State Broadband Office has received approval for its Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

In 2022, the NTIA awarded the State Broadband Office $843,673.10 to develop its Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan. This funding was awarded as part of the Digital Equity Planning Grant Program – one of three broadband grant programs created in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.

“Expanding broadband infrastructure in Arkansas is critical to ensuring the success of our residents in the new digital economy,” said Glen Howie, director of the Arkansas State Broadband Office. “Infrastructure is only one piece of the larger broadband issue. Arkansans need access to digital devices and the digital skills to operate those devices properly to self-determine their success. This Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan lays the foundation for providing these skills in the Natural State.”

The Arkansas Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan outlines the state’s vision for empowering Arkansans with the skills, technology, and capacity needed to self-determine success in the 21st-century digital economy. The Arkansas Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan was created to complement and build upon the State Broadband Office’s BEAD Five-Year Action Plan and Initial Proposals, which are focused on building out the state’s broadband infrastructure.

The Arkansas State Broadband Office developed the plan by leveraging partnerships in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, in addition to conducting 32 in-person focus groups, holding roundtable discussions in all 75 Arkansas counties, and organizing a digital opportunity survey that gathered more than 12,000 responses across the state.

To learn more about the plan, visit broadband.arkansas.gov
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN ANNOUNCES ARREST OF LITTLE ROCK MAN ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY,
DRUG AND GUN CHARGES

Griffin: ‘It takes a team effort to protect our most vulnerable from exploitation’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin today issued the following statement regarding the arrest of Patrick J. Pettit, 34, of Little Rock on 32 counts of distributing, possessing, or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child and three other felony charges:

“This arrest stemmed from a CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Special agents from my office’s Special Investigations Division executed a search warrant at Mr. Pettit’s Little Rock home on April 3. While at Pettit’s home, agents discovered psilocybin, also known as ‘hallucinogenic mushrooms,’ and several weapons. Our agents contacted the Little Rock Police Department, who arrested Pettit on three additional felony charges related to the drugs and weapons.”

“I am grateful for the diligence of my office’s special agents, who are part of the Arkansas ICAC Task Force, and the assistance of LRPD. It takes a team effort to protect our most vulnerable from exploitation.”

In addition to the child pornography charges (Class C Felony), Pettit was charged with trafficking a controlled substance (Class Y Felony), simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms (Class Y Felony), and maintaining a drug premises (Class B Felony). He was booked on April 3 into the Pulaski County Regional Detention Center, where he is currently being held without bond.
 

SECOND STAGE PRESENTS THE ODD COUPLE, FEMALE VERSION AT SAAC APRIL 18-19
Second Stage Acting Troupe wishes to announce the cast of their upcoming production of “The Odd Couple, Female Version”.  The play, under the direction of Ruth Griffin, will run April 18 and 19, 2024 in the South Arkansas Arts Center's Callaway Theater.

When Florence Unger’s (Emilia Gaithright) marriage breaks up, her friend Olive Madison (Hannah Hopson) offers to let her move in with her. Before long, tensions rise between the two friends, as Florence is a neat freak and Olive is, well, not. They are joined by their Trivial Pursuit playing friends - Vera (Kate Flynn), Mickey (Jade Watts), Sylvia (Nicole Hopson), and Renee (Amy Smith) as they brave this new roommate situation and the trials that come with it. Olive soon convinces Florence to double-date with two handsome men in the building. Manolo (Chris Curry) and Jesus (Levi Nesbitt) only add flame to the fire in this story of how opposites do not attract. Tempers flare and food flies. Will these two be able to put their differences aside or is there another break-up on the horizon? 

Audiences will enjoy the snappy dialogue between the characters and the pure feelings that are shown. The author holds nothing back and shows a real throw down of emotions and how even good friends can feel the stress of spending too much time together. This cast has great chemistry and will have you laughing in your seats.  

Join Second Stage for the Neil Simon classic "The Odd Couple, Female Edition" in SAAC's Callaway Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Showtime is at 7:30pm each night. This show does contain adult language and mild adult themes.  For more information or to reserve tickets for this show, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

April 03, 2024

ASP ICAC ARRESTS CONWAY MAN ON CHILD PORN CHARGESApril 3, 2024
CONWAY, Ark. – On Thursday, March 28, 2024, agents with ASP's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) executed a search warrant in the 600 block of East German Lane in Conway, which led to the arrest of Jesse Anderson, 30, of Conway.

The search warrant stemmed from an investigation initiated by cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC identified numerous uploaded files, identified as child sexual abuse materials. ICAC Agents arrested Anderson at his home and confiscated multiple electronic devices before transporting him to the Faulkner County Detention Center.

Anderson was charged with multiple counts of Distributing, Possessing, or Viewing Matter Depicting Sexually Explicit Conduct Involving a Child. Anderson's bond was set at $500,000.
For more on these and other stories visit www.yesradioworks.com/news


U.S. DISTRICT COURT DECLARES FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION RULE TO BE ‘ARBITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS’
Griffin: ‘The Federal Highway Administration should be helping states maintain and update our highways, not pushing President Biden’s climate activism’
LITTLE ROCK – Following an order by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement praising the court’s order, which declared unlawful a final rule of the Federal Highway Administration that would require states to set declining targets for tailpipe CO2 emissions from vehicles on the National Highway System. Griffin was one of 21 attorneys general to join the lawsuit that challenged the rule.

“The Federal Highway Administration should be helping states maintain and update our highways, not pushing President Biden’s climate activism. Unfortunately, it took a multistate lawsuit and a federal court order to remind them of that. I’m pleased with our victory.”

 

The multistate lawsuit was led by Kentucky and South Dakota, and joining Arkansas on the lawsuit was also Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

April 02, 2024

ASP CID INVESTIGATING SHOOTING INCIDENT THAT LEFT ONE PERSON DEAD IN JEFFERSON COUNTY 
April 1, 2024
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) requested ASP’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) investigate a shooting incident that took place on Sunday, March 31, 2024, on Highway 79 in Jefferson County.

JCSO Deputies responded to a call at approximately 12:30 a.m. to the 9200 block of Highway 79 to find two individuals inside a vehicle suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. Kavon White, 31, was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Jefferson County Coroner. A female passenger was transported to a hospital in Pine Bluff and has since been released.

The deceased was transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, where manner and cause of death will be determined. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information is urged to contact CID Company B at (870) 850-8630 or a local law enforcement agency. 

 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS’ ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAM EARNS ENERGY STAR® AWARD
Sixth consecutive year for the Point of Purchase Solutionsprogram to be honored by EPA for Excellence in Marketing
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Entergy Arkansas Entergy Solutions Point of Purchase Solutions (POPS) Program is proud to announce that it has received the 2024 ENERGY STAR® Excellence in Marketing Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy. This is the sixth year in a row that Entergy Arkansas’ program has been recognized for its exemplary work and ongoing commitment to energy efficiency.

The Entergy Solutions energy efficiency portfolio of programs are administered by Entergy Arkansas to 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 lower their energy usage and manage their bills through the implementation of energy efficiency measures.

“Entergy Arkansas is always committed to offering our customers safe, affordable and reliable energy,” said President and CEO Laura Landreaux., “The Entergy Solutions programs are an integral part of helping us do that by providing leading technologies and resources to help customers manage their energy usage efficiently and save money on their bills. We are all very proud to be recognized by the EPA for this work.”

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, which can contribute to bill savings. From smart thermostats to dehumidifiers and power strips, there are discounts and rebates that allow Entergy Arkansas customers to make their homes brighter and more comfortable.

For businesses, Entergy Solutions provides solutions for organizations 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.

Program Highlights
A standout initiative in 2023 was the introduction of horticultural lighting into the POPS commercial program. Horticultural lighting projects in the program led to energy savings of over 850,000 kilowatt hours (kWh), with installations receiving $234,000 in incentives.

Another big addition to the 2023 POPS program was the introduction of refrigerator and freezer recycling. For no cost, Entergy Arkansas customers can now schedule a pick-up of their old refrigerator or freezer that is in working order to be recycled and receive a $25.00 incentive for doing so.

Since the start of the recyc ling program measure in May 2023 through December 2023 a total of 457 refrigrators and freezersd combined have been recycled - equating to 478,342 kWh saved. To learn more, visit https://www.entergy-arkansas.com/ee/recycling/.

Overall Impact
In 2023, the POPS program realized a combined energy savings of 98,819,744 kWh and provided incentives for almost 2.2 million individual retail units, predominantly ENERGY STAR certified. In terms of environmental impact, the program's efforts have led to 67,569 metric tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions.

In total, the Entergy Solutions POPS program (previously the Lighting and Appliances program) has achieved evaluated energy savings of 482,971,712 kWh through 2023. These hours equate to saving the carbon dioxide emissions from 66,588 homes’ electricity use for one year, or from 22,273,982,209 smartphones charged.

“ENERGY STAR plays an indispensable role in the POPS program. The use of ENERGY STAR tools has streamlined staff responsibilities, cutting down costs and enabling more resources to support customers and projects throughout our market,” said Sharnelle Allen, Energy Efficiency program manager for Entergy Arkansas. “In 2023, the program achieved energy savings of more than 98 million kilowatt hours — we are proud to be recognized by ENERGY STAR as we continue the work to help Arkansans use energy more efficiently.”

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 2024 winners and more information about ENERGY STAR’s awards program, visit energystar.gov/awardwinners. For more information about residential and customer Entergy Solutions programs, visit https://www.entergy-arkansas.com/energy_efficiency/main/.


TENNESSEE WOMAN DIES IN VEHICLE CRASH AFTER FLEEING FROM ARKANSAS STATE POLICE
April 2, 2024
JENNETTE, Ark. – On Monday, April 1, 2024, at approximately 9:24 p.m., an Arkansas State Trooper attempted to stop a vehicle traveling eastbound on Interstate 40 near Exit 265 in Crittenden County. The driver, identified as Courtney Ridgeway, 28, of Smyrna, Tenn., failed to stop. Troopers pursued the fleeing vehicle, which reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour for approximately two miles on Bing's Store Road.

Ridgeway lost control of her vehicle on the gravel road and crashed into a ditch. The Crittenden County Coroner pronounced Ridgeway deceased at the scene at approximately 10:42 p.m.

Two passengers in the suspect’s vehicle sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

“This incident underscores why Arkansas State Police has been cautioning the public for months about the dangers of fleeing from law enforcement,” said ASP Colonel Mike Hagar.  “Fleeing is reckless and has serious consequences. When you see blue lights in your rearview mirror, be smart. Pull over.” 

 

MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL OPERATION IN BAXTER COUNTY RESULTS IN NUMEROUS ARRESTS
April 1, 2024
MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. – The Baxter County Sheriff’s Office led a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement operation last week in an attempt to purge communities of violent and repeat offenders engaged in criminal activity.

This initiative was part of a coordinated effort between nine law enforcement agencies that serve the area. A total of 71 individuals were booked into the Baxter County Detention Center on various charges, including absconding, narcotics and firearms violations, traffic offenses, and other felonies and/or misdemeanors. 

ASP contributed between 18 to 23 Troopers to this operation to help patrol the streets in Baxter County, making a total of 559 vehicle contacts over three days and issuing 184 traffic citations and 203 warnings.

“Arkansas State Police will always support our local law enforcement agencies in their effort to protect public safety,” said ASP Colonel Mike Hagar. “Any time peace is threatened, it is our duty to step up and hold those who break the law accountable for their actions.”

PEARCY MAN ARRESTED ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES
April 1, 2024
PEARCY, Ark – On Thursday, March 28, 2024, Agents with ASP’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) executed a search warrant in the 100 block of Avalon Drive in Pearcy, which led to the arrest of 32-year-old Riley Robert Stanley.

A joint undercover investigation between ICAC’s Task Force and the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office led to the discovery of numerous files of child sexual abuse material that were being shared from a laptop belonging to Stanley.

 Stanley was arrested without incident on Friday, March 29, 2024, and booked into the Garland County Detention Center on charges of Distributing, Possessing, or Viewing Matter Depicting Sexually Explicit Conduct Involving a Child. His bond is set at $500,000. 

April 01, 2024

FIRST FRIDAY IN DOWNTOWN CAMDEN
First Friday Monthly Market in Camden, AR is excited about kicking off the 2024 season in downtown Camden. Lots of fun and activities are planned for the April 5th market where the theme is “Total Eclipse of the Heart”!

The April market will be the kick off of a full weekend of events leading up to the April 8th Eclipse.

Several first-time vendors will be showing their wares, with everything from metal  art, face painting, crochet items, resin art, baked goods, potted plants, Mother’s Day gifts and more.

Two great food trucks will be located at the Washington Street and Madison Ave intersection ready to serve you.    Taco Shellz will be serving up their Indian frybread tacos, street tacos, burrito, corn cups, fresca. First time at the market will be Chef Tate with great hamburgers, fries, chip, salsa and chicken strips.  Another first time vendor will be Rollin’ with the Homies offering rolled ice cream and shakes.   Other food items can be found throughout the market from freeze dried candy, kettle Korn, lemonade, fried pies, fresh baked breads and more!   

We excited to announce the April live music will be the band Sauce.  Comprised of   Matt Winters, Benjamin Pace, and Dylan Adams within the pines of Northwest Louisiana. The group developed their sound during the pandemic era of 2020 while being confined to the rehearsal space. With aclectic influences like Grateful Dead, The Doors, and The Isley Brothers. Alongside modern acts such as, Khruangbin, Vulfpeck, and Tame Impala. Everything is better with Saucé. Dancing is always allowed, so come out and show us your moves.

Find out information on some of our wonderful nonprofit organizations that will be set up.  Enjoy a special activity with Lockheed Martin that will delight everyone young and old.      

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 5, 6PM – 9PM.

Come stroll, shop, nibble, browse and chat… See you there!


ASP TROOPERS CRACK DOWN ON TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS ON CENTRAL ARKANSAS ROADWAYS
March 29, 2024
Arkansas State Police (ASP) Troopers ramped up their efforts to enforce traffic laws on Central Arkansas interstates and highways from March 19 to March 24. Troopers concentrated on Interstates 30, 40, 630, 440, and 530 along with the Highway 67/167 corridor, which runs from North Little Rock through Jacksonville to Cabot. These areas contain several significant work zones where highway construction workers are at risk.

According to the Arkansas Highway Department (ARDOT), between 2021 and 2022, there were 2313 accidents and 13 fatalities in Central Arkansas work zones.

During the operation, Troopers issued 199 traffic citations and 128 warnings. Six accidents were also investigated. Nearly all vehicles stopped were traveling 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

Troopers are taking a zero-tolerance approach to traffic violations in these areas, including speeding, distracted driving, and failing to obey traffic laws.
 

ASP MAKES ARREST IN APRIL 2023 CALHOUN COUNTY HOMICIDE
March 28, 2024
CALHOUN COUNTY, Ark.– On Tuesday, March 26, 2024, Arkansas State Police (ASP) Special Agents arrested Faith Marie White, 42, charging her with First-Degree Murder in the death of George Haynes, 62, of El Dorado.

Haynes was found deceased in his residence on April 16, 2023, on East Calhoun Road in Calhoun County.

Special Agents interviewed White at the Calhoun County Detention Center, where she was being held on unrelated charges.

 

LRCVB ANNOUNCES MORE ECLIPSE DETAILS OPENING ACT FOR SUNDAY CONCERT NAMED, WEB STORE OPENS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 29, 2024) - With just over a week remaining until the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) is making final preparations for the upcoming tourism event.

Announced in late 2023, a free three-day concert series will be held at First Security Amphitheater in the River Market District. Local act The Cons of Formant have been announced as the opening act for up-and-coming country sensation Ward Davis on Sunday, April 7.

The Cons of Formant are a central Arkansas band performing folk and Americana music. The four-piece band has more than a decade of stage presence, and will perform from 7-7:45 p.m. Davis, an Arkansas native and accomplished songwriter, will take the stage from 8-9:30 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m. for the concert, with first-come first-serve seating.

The Saturday event will feature The Rodney Block Collective and His All-Star Friends with The Machine Performs Pink Floyd on the day of the eclipse. Gates will open at 5 p.m. for the 6-8 p.m. Saturday show. Gates will open at 11 a.m. on Monday with the performance taking place between 12:40 and 3 p.m. The Machine will pause for twenty minutes to allow the audience to experience totality in silence.

“We’re taking steps to ensure our guests have a unique and memorable experience,” said LRCVB Destination Project Coordinator Cory Blunt. “In addition to pausing our concert during totality, we are also staging food trucks near the amphitheater. This will add dining capacity for the expected crowd in the River Market and allow those in attendance to stay close to the center of activity.”

Food trucks scheduled to be at the three-day concert series include a range of cuisines from snacks and desserts to comfort food and BBQ.

The LRCVB will also have its new mobile visitor center activated in the River Market during the three-day concert series providing information and answering questions for visitors to the city. Another project the LRCVB is undertaking is an online store. This store features eclipse-themed merchandise, which would be desirable keepsakes for residents and visitors alike.

The store, as well as all information related to the eclipse, can be found at https://www.littlerock.com/eclipse.

 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS CUSTOMER BILLS TO DECREASE BEGINNING IN APRIL
Average residential customer will save over $10 per month
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Entergy Arkansas’ low-cost power generation portfolio, along with lower gas prices last year, has allowed the company to decrease customer bills beginning with the April billing cycle.

An average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month will see a decrease of $10.01 in their total bills -- a 7.49% decrease. Commercial and industrial customers could see anywhere from a 1.6% to 17.7% decrease, depending on their customer usage profile.

“Although our rates are consistently lower than the regional and national average, we continue to keep affordability for our customers at the forefront of our decisions,” said Ventrell Thompson, vice president of Customer Service. “The total decrease customers see on their bills will vary based on their individual energy usage but comes at a time when our customers need bill relief and will extend during the upcoming hot summer months.”

The decrease was prompted by a lower fuel rate, known as the Energy Cost Recovery Rider (ECR), which is adjusted and passed on to customers. The redetermined ECR rate will decrease from $0.01883 per kWh to $0.00882 per kWh – the lowest it has been in more than a decade.

Each year, the fuel rate adjusts either up or down, depending on changes in the cost of fuel used by Entergy Arkansas to generate electricity and wholesale prices paid for additional electricity. The new rate is effective until March of 2025, unless an interim adjustment is needed. It is reflected in the “Fuel and Purchased Cost” line item on monthly bills.

“Because we have a diverse fuel mix that includes nuclear, natural gas, coal, solar and hydropower, we are able to produce electricity at the lowest cost possible,” said William Cunningham, director of resource planning. “In fact, our consistently low rates help make our state an attractive place for new and existing businesses to grow and expand.”

More than 71% of our total energy production in 2023 came from clean nuclear energy, while natural gas powered about 15% of our total energy production in 2023.In addition to Entergy Arkansas’ three solar facilities currently in operation -- Stuttgart, Chicot and Searcy – another 530 megawatts of new solar generation will be coming online this year – Walnut Bend (100 MW), West Memphis (180 MW) and Driver Solar (250 MW). Construction of another 400 MW of solar expected to be completed next year.

The new ECR rate includes recovery of cost shifting from Entergy Arkansas net-metering customers. In this year’s ECR calculations, Entergy Arkansas included $8.9 million in costs, which are being shifted to all customers because of private net-metering installations. Notably, these costs are only a portion of the overall costs that have been shifted to other customers as a result of net-metering.

For more information about how Entergy generates electricity, visit https://www.entergy.com/operations/generation/


ARKANSAS STATE POLICE ARREST FORMER SHERIFF DEPUTY ON SEXUAL ASSAULT AND CHILD PORN CHARGES
March 28, 2024
GOSNELL, Ark.– Arkansas State Police (ASP) arrested a Gosnell man on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, charging him with First-Degree Sexual Assault and Distributing, Possessing, or Viewing of Matter Depicting Sexually Explicit Conduct Involving a Child.

ASP Special Agents located Colton Crabb, 26, at his residence in Gosnell and arrested him without incident. ASP transported Crabb to the Mississippi County Detention Center, where his bail was set for $50,000.

Crabb was employed with the Blytheville Police Department before being hired at the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office. Crabb is no longer a law enforcement officer.

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE PARTICIPATES IN AGRICULTURAL TRADE MISSION TO REPUBLIC OF KOREA
LITTLE ROCK, AR
– Arkansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward participated in a USDA Agricultural Trade Mission to the Republic of Korea from March 24-28, 2024. Secretary Ward joined USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Alexis Taylor, as well as North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture, Doug Goehring, Indiana Director of Agriculture, Don Lamb, and California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross. Also participating were 48 different agricultural businesses and farm organizations.

The visit follows Governor Sanders' successful trade mission to the Republic of Korea earlier this month where the Governor met with President Yoon, Trade, Industry, and Energy Minister Dugeun Ahn, the Korean International Trade Association and Korea-U.S. Economic Counsel, Inc, and POSCO Group.

South Korea ranks as the 5th largest export market for United States agriculture with total sales averaging about $9 billion annually over the past 5 years. American food and beverage products are well-known and highly regarded in the Korean market due to an outstanding reputation for quality, safety, and affordability.

The Republic of Korea imports many agricultural commodities that are successfully grown in Arkansas to include cotton, soybeans, rice, beef, pork, poultry, and peanuts. Arkansas currently exports over $6 million to the Republic of Korea providing the potential for significant increases in agricultural trade as we seek to continue to diversify our state’s agricultural trading markets away from China and towards our allies. 

2023 marked the 70-year milestone for the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea, starting at the conclusion of the Korean War in 1953. Arkansas has a deep connection with the Republic of Korea with approximately 6,300 Arkansans fighting in the Korean War, where 462 Arkansans lost their lives. 

 


KATHRYN WIGGINS EXHIBIT OPENING AT SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center welcomes Jackson, Mississippi artist Kathryn Wiggins and her exhibition "Meditations" to the Lobby Gallery April 2-26, 2024. There will be an artist's reception on Monday, April 1 from 5:00-6:30pm.

“It seems there is a connection between the human soul and the natural world; my work uses landscape art to speak to the inner landscapes of the soul,” said Wiggins, “Feelings of anxiety, peace, dread, longing, loneliness, love, desire, and a myriad of other places my inner thoughts take me are processed through terrestrial landscape paintings and drawings. Often there are passages in my work, inviting the viewer to pass through the shadows or trees into their own inner lands. Other images give a focal point to journey toward in settled determination.”

Wiggins work pays attention to the simple wonders that are all around us, such as light filtering through leaves, the red sunset illuminating the tops of pine trees, or the color variations in a dark shadow. Nature captures Wiggins’ attention in these moments and allows her to take time for a mental reset by really looking and paying attention to her surroundings. In the gazing, Wiggins begins to understand her inner-self more clearly.

All of Wiggins’ landscapes are based on real places she has traveled and experienced. She draws inspiration from family camping trips, kayak excursions, and walks around her neighborhood. She presents these landscapes to her audience as meditations on standing still in nature and being vulnerable to where it can take you.

Born and raised in Brandon, Mississippi, located just east of Jackson, Mississippi, Wiggins always loved the landscapes of her rural childhood. A graduate of Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, she completed her schooling in 2007 in Edinburgh, Scotland in the Master of Fine Arts program at Edinburgh College of Art. After graduating, she returned to Mississippi and began a family with her husband John. In 2010, she received the Visual Arts Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission. Also during that time, she taught drawing at the Tulane University School of Continuing Studies in Madison, Mississippi.

For more information on the Kathryn Wiggins exhibit at the South Arkansas Arts Center, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.
 


STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR MATT STONE
March 29, 2024
LITTLE ROCK – Several state agencies are preparing for increased traffic from out-of-state tourists who will drive to Arkansas on Monday, April 8, to view the solar eclipse.

They’re planning for traffic disruptions even in parts of the state that will not experience the full effect of the eclipse.

For example, southeast Arkansas is not in the path of totality but highway officials expect the impact on traffic to be “significant” on Highways 65, 165, 82 and 425 because so many visitors will be headed to Pine Bluff, Little Rock and locations along the path of totality in central Arkansas.

Likewise, in the extreme corner of northwest Arkansas there will be significant impacts on traffic on Highways 412, 59, 62 and the Pig Trail, Highway 23.

Highway 65 from the Missouri border to Conway will have “very high” traffic levels, according to a Transportation Department analysis. So will Interstate 49 from Fayetteville to Alma, and Interstate 40 from Alma to Little Rock.

All the major highways in central, northeast and southwest Arkansas will have at least a “significant” amount of higher traffic volumes.

Along Interstate 40 from Alma to Mulberry there will be “extreme traffic” increases. Also, along Highway 65 from Conway to Greenbriar will see “extreme traffic” increases.

The Transportation Department has an 18-page planning document on its website that includes a highway map. Highways are color-coded to indicate the expected level of disruption.

On roads with even a “significant” impact, which is the lowest level, motorists can expect the volume of traffic to meet or modestly exceed capacity. That’s tolerable unless a wreck or other type of incident occurs, then conditions quickly worsen. Local authorities may get overwhelmed because they will bear the brunt of maintaining traffic flows, because state resources will be prioritized in routes where traffic is very high or extreme.

Along routes with “very high” volumes traffic will be well above exceed capacity for several hours, so any wreck or incident will quickly make conditions much worse. Roads with “extreme” traffic increases will be bottlenecks that may require authorities to detour traffic.

The Transportation Department is working with the Arkansas Truckers Association to encourage 18-wheelers and oversize loads to stay off the highways before, during and after the eclipse. However, staying off the roads will be a voluntary decision and there will be no penalties for truckers who operate during the eclipse.

The Department will encourage contractors to limit lane closings from April 5 through April 9.

Based on data collected during past eclipses, the Department anticipates that 80 percent of visitors will leave immediately after the eclipse passes over. This further strains the smooth flow of traffic.

The eclipse will create a shadow almost 118 miles wide that will enter southwest Arkansas, near DeQueen, at 1:46 p.m. on Monday, April 8. The center of the shadow will leave Arkansas about 2 p.m. in the northeast corner, near Pocahontas.

If you are in the central portion of its path, the eclipse will cause darkness for about four minutes. Remember, it’s not safe to look directly at the sun without special eye protection.

Transportation officials and the police are preparing for as many as 1.5 million out-of-state visitors to drive into Arkansas. In addition, about 500,000 Arkansas residents are expected to drive toward the path of totality from the northwest corner and from southeast Arkansas, which are not in the path of the eclipse.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN FIGHTS EPA OVERREACH, STANDS UP FOR ARKANSAS MEAT AND POULTRY PRODUCERS
Griffin: ‘The EPA can’t arbitrarily decide to increase its regulatory authority’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement after co-leading a 27-state comment letter opposing a proposal from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would unduly burden state and national meat and poultry producers and illegally expand the EPA’s regulatory authority:

“The EPA wants to impose illegal and crippling regulations on meat and poultry producers, and it has circumvented Congress, colluded with extreme environmental groups, and entered into a consent decree that would radically expand the EPA’s regulatory authority. The EPA’s proposed rule would add additional regulations on processing plants with indirect wastewater discharges—discharges that are already treated by a municipal or other wastewater treatment facility, which are themselves subject to EPA regulations. That’s an extra layer of regulation that doesn’t accomplish anything. And the EPA lacks the legal authority to impose such regulations.

“The Clean Water Act already sufficiently regulates processing plants that discharge wastewater directly into navigable waters. The EPA currently regulates approximately 150 such plants. The EPA’s proposed rule would increase the number of processing plants that are directly regulated by the EPA from 150 to as many as 3,789 and adversely impact small, family-owned production operations like many here in Arkansas.

“The EPA can’t arbitrarily decide to increase its regulatory authority via a consent decree; only Congress can increase federal agencies’ regulatory power. The EPA should withdraw this rule immediately.”

Griffin co-led the letter with Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, and they were joined by a coalition of 25 other attorneys general. The letter asks the EPA to withdraw the proposed rule and argues that it exceeds the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act. Additionally, the letter explains that the proposed rule is part of a legal settlement between the Biden administration and its radical environmental allies—all designed to avoid congressional oversight and unlawfully expand the EPA’s authority.

The 25 states joining Arkansas and Kansas on the letter were Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.


ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN TAKES TEXAS ROBOCALLER TO COURT FOR VIOLATING PERMANENT BANS
Griffin: ‘I will continue to combat robocallers who ignore the law and the courts’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Tim Griffin today issued the following statement after announcing that he and seven other state attorneys general are asking the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas to take additional action against a Texas based robocaller for violating permanent robocall and telemarketing bans:

“In March of last year, my office obtained judgments shutting down the massive robocall operation of Rising Eagle Capital Group, LLC, and other companies owned by John Caldwell Spiller, II. As part of the judgment, Spiller was banned from making robocalls or engaging in telemarketing. Spiller has ignored those bans, and we are asking the court to enforce the $122 million fine against Spiller that was suspended contingent upon honoring the terms of the judgment.

“Unwanted calls are a nuisance to every Arkansan. I will continue to combat robocallers who ignore the law and the courts.”

Despite the permanent injunction against Spiller in March 2023, he continued to harass people by making deceptive and abusive robocalls and by helping others make these calls. Spiller used aliases and falsified business records filed in various states and with the Federal Communications Commission. Further, since being originally sued, Spiller has set up at least three new businesses through which he engaged in telemarketing and facilitated robocalls.

Because he violated these bans on robocalling and telemarketing, Griffin and the attorneys general of Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas are asking the court to ban Spiller from engaging in all telephone-related services, not just robocalling and telemarketing. That includes transmitting telephone calls over the U.S. telephone network, providing any VoIP services, engaging in text messaging services, and originating or facilitating ringless voicemail messages or any other electronic messages.
 
The attorneys general are also asking that the court order Spiller to dissolve his existing telephone service companies. They also ask that Spiller be ordered to pay $122,339,320—the amount that would have otherwise been suspended if Spiller had followed the rules of the permanent injunction and the court’s order. Because he failed to do so, he is obligated to pay the full amount.