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Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Accomplishments of the 92nd General Assembly

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Accomplishments of the 92nd General Assembly
 
 

Now that I have signed the last bill of the 92nd General Assembly, the really hard work begins for my administration.

 

Before I talk about the tasks ahead, though, I want to commend the legislators for focusing on the challenges we face as a state. As a result of their work, I signed into law 1,091 bills in the 2019 session.

 

The legislature met for nearly 90 days this year, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. During the session, many legislators worked long into the evenings. They listened to constituents, reviewed the day’s work, and prepared for the next day.

 

The General Assembly wasn’t content to pass just one big-ticket item. Legislators passed a number of key initiatives, and their success is a credit to their willingness to work together and with my administration.

 

The shortlist of highlights is an all-star roster of legislation – juvenile justice reform, additional homestead tax relief, and the $10 million we set aside to support UAMS in the effort to earn a National Cancer Institute designation.

 

Then when we review the big-ticket legislation, the initiatives that I labeled the 4 Ts, it’s hard to imagine another general assembly with more to show for its three months in Little Rock.

 

The accomplishments include a $4,000 raise in the starting pay for teachers over the next four years. That’s one of the Ts.

 

Transportation is another T. The General Assembly passed a highway bill that will produce $95 million a year to pay for upkeep and new construction.

 

Additionally, they passed a bill that will allow voters the opportunity in 2020 to continue a half-cent sales tax that will raise $205 million a year to pay for roads, bridges, and highways that we need in this state. This legislation is historic.

 

We passed the 5.9 Tax Cut Plan that will cut the state’s top income tax rate from the current 6.9 down to 5.9 percent over the next two years. This was the third phase of my three-part tax initiative, which has cut a total of nearly $250 million in income taxes since 2015 without cutting any essential services.

 

But the highest accomplishment was passage of my fourth T, Transformation. Work on the Transformation and Efficiencies Act of 2019 started two years ago with the Transformation Advisory Board. Then we had to pass 16 different bills before we merged them into one 2,047-page bill that we had to pass through both houses.

 

This law, the first effort to reorganize state government in 50 years, cuts the number of cabinet-level agencies from 42 to 15.

 

Now that we have the law in hand, we have to implement it. That’s the tough part.

 

The 15-member transition team, led by Amy Fecher, started work on Monday. Within a month, I expect to name the secretary of each cabinet agency.

 

The slimmed-down, more manageable version of Arkansas state government will open for business on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

 

I am fortunate to serve as governor of a state where so many are so willing to seek the best for the entire state for now and far into the future.

 

4-19-19 4:30 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Board Camp Fire Department To Receive Wildfire Suppression Kit

Wildfire Suppression Kits Distributed to Volunteer Fire Departments through Rural Fire Program

 

LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Rural Fire Program, managed by the Arkansas Agriculture Department’s Forestry Commission (AFC), received $237,000 from the United States Forest Service to purchase and distribute 79 Wildfire Suppression Kits to statewide volunteer fire departments in 2019. Kits feature equipment and gear necessary for the safe suppression of wildfires and will be delivered to selected volunteer fire departments through May.

 

Volunteer fire departments are the primary partner to AFC crews in wildfire response and suppression but often need the specialized equipment and gear necessary for safe wildfire suppression. Since 2014, more than 300 volunteer fire departments have received Wildfire Suppression Kits through the Rural Fire Program. Kits distributed this year include lightweight wildfire-resistant personal protective equipment, hand rakes, back-pack water pumps, and leaf blowers.

 

Volunteer fire departments interested in participating in the Wildfire Suppression Kit program submit applications that are scored according to specific criteria including fire district population, the size of the response area, wildfire equipment response needs, and other factors. The application period for the 2020 Wildfire Protection Kit program starts in September. Contact Kathryn Mahan-Hooten at Kathryn.Mahan@agriculture.arkansas.gov or (501) 679-3183 with questions or to be added to the Rural Fire Program email distribution list.

 

Fire departments receiving kits in 2019 are listed below by fire department and county:

 

Antioch/White

Appleton/Pope

Ash Flat/Fulton&Sharp

Barton-Lexa/Phillips

Bee Branch/Van Buren

Board Camp /Polk

Bradley/Lafayette

Brinkley/Monroe

Buford/Baxter

Bussey Sharman/Columbia

Butlerville/Lonoke

Butterfield/Crawford

Calico Rock/Izard

Cecil Rural/Franklin

Center Point/Howard

Center Ridge /Conway

Chickalah/Yell

Chidester/Ouachita

Chimes/Van Buren

Collins-Cominto/Drew

Corning/Clay

Cross Roads/Hempstead

Cross Roads/Prairie

Daisy/Pike

Decatur/Benton

Dierks/Howard

Driggs/Logan

Dumas/Desha

East End/Saline

Elaine/Phillips

Elkins/Washington

Emerson/Columbia

Enola/Faulkner

Fisher/Poinsett

Fountain Lake/Garland

Hackett  /Sebastian

Hardy/Sharp

Hoxie/Lawrence

Huttig/Union

Hwy 15 S/Jefferson

Johnsville/Bradley

Joy/White

Lacey-Ladell/Drew

Lamar/Johnson

Luxora/Mississippi

Lynn/Lawrence

Mammoth Spring/Fulton

Mandeville/Miller

Marvell Rural/Phillips

Maysville/Benton

McRae/White

Mulberry/Crawford

Murfreesboro/Pike

New Blaine/Logan

Norman/Montgomery

Norphlet/Union

Northside/Prairie

Oak Grove Heights/Greene

Oak Prairie/Prairie

Ouachita/Hot Spring

Oxford/Izard

Pansy/Cleveland

Paron/Saline

Ravenden/Lawrence

Rover/Yell

Selma/Drew

South Phillips/Phillips

Southeast White/White

Southwest/Hot Spring

Sparkman/Dallas

Swifton/Jackson

Turtle Creek/Saline

Valley/Drew

Watalula/Franklin

Watson/Desha

Williford/Sharp

Woodlawn/Cleveland

Y Community-212/Cleveland

Y City/Scott.

 

4-19-19 4:21 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

 

When we pass legislation to grow our economy, it does not stop at tax incentives and workforce training.

 

In Arkansas, we know our economy can also grow by bringing in people from out of state to appreciate our natural resources, our talents, and our history.

 

The hospitality industry is the second largest industry in the state. It is a $5.6 billion industry and employees over 100,000 people.

From encouraging investment in our historic buildings to designating a scenic highway, we passed several pieces of legislation aimed at promoting tourism in the 2019 Regular Session.

 

Act 292 designates certain routes in Central and Southwest Arkansas as the “Camden Expedition Scenic Highway”. The Camden Expedition Scenic Highway guides a Civil War tourist through southern and central Arkansas connecting five battlefields and other Civil War historic sites.

 

Act 601 states that the fourth Saturday in July shall be known as "National Day of the Cowboy" to commemorate America's cowboy heritage. The vaquero spirit of competition among ranch cowboys and cowgirls is reflected in rodeo events throughout the state that contribute to tourism and the economy.

 

Act 546 states that each year before September 1, the Governor shall issue a proclamation proclaiming September 1 Arkansas Music Appreciation Day.

The legislation also states “The General Assembly finds that Arkansas has a proud history of contributing music and musicians to the nation, including Johnny Cash, B. B. King, Glen Campbell, Charlie Rich, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Al Green, Conway Twitty, Floyd Cramer.”

 

Act 812 allows cities in wet counties to pass an ordinance creating a temporary or permanent designated entertainment districts. Rules that prohibit a person from possessing an alcoholic beverage outside of an establishment would not apply within a designated entertainment district.

 

Act 671 creates the ATV Tourism and Trail Expansion Study. The purpose of the study is to make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding the creation, development, and implementation of a statewide all-terrain vehicle trails system utilizing existing state roads to connect forest roads and all-terrain vehicle trails in national forests in order to increase all-terrain vehicle tourism and economic development in the state.  The House and Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development Committees will meet to begin the study this year.

 

Act 818 designates Washington, Arkansas as the birthplace of the Bowie Knife, Arkansas Heritage Site.

 

Act 886 authorizes a $5 increase for special permits to trout fish and lifetime trout stamps. The money will be used to make necessary renovations for hatcheries damaged by floods.  The trout industry in Arkansas generates an estimated $180 million in revenue every year.

 

Act 855 creates the Arkansas Major Historic Rehabilitation Income Tax Credit Act, creating a tax credit of 25% of the total rehabilitation costs for projects with a minimum investment of $1.5 million.

 

Act 1066 creates the Arkansas Delta Music Commission within the Department of Arkansas Heritage. The commission will develop, implement, and administer a tourism program based on art projects that focus on highlighting music stories and related dynamics on the designated music highways in the state. Music highways in the state include Rock 'n' Roll Highway 67, the Louis Jordan Memorial Highway, the Levon Helm Memorial Highway, the Sister Rosetta Tharpe Memorial Highway, the Americana Music Highway, the Johnny Cash Memorial Highway, and the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway. The commission will also create a signage program that captures the stories and points of interest in blues, rock and roll, jazz, rockabilly, soul, hip hop, opera, country, and gospel music throughout the Arkansas Delta.

 

If you are planning a summer vacation, be sure to check out what all our state has to offer.  Visit www.arkansas.com

 

4-19-19  2:30 p.m.  KAWX.ORG

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State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

 

LITTLE ROCK – During the recent regular session, the legislature referred three proposed constitutional amendments to Arkansas voters.

One would limit terms of legislators to 12 years. Another would permanently extend a highway program that is now scheduled to expire in 2023. The third would make it more difficult to change the constitution. The proposals will be on the general election ballot in November of 2020.

 

The current half-cent in state sales tax was approved by Arkansas voters in 2012 by a 58 to 42 percent margin. It took effect in 2013 and is scheduled to expire after 10 years. It raised the state sales tax from 6 to 6.5 percent.

 

If extended, the half cent would generate an estimated $293.7 million a year, of which cities and counties each would receive $44 million, and the state Transportation Department would get the remaining $205 million.

 

A second proposed amendment would limit terms of lawmakers to 12 years, although it grandfathers in current office holders. They could serve 16 years, which is the limit under current law.

 

The 12-year limit is consecutive, but not lifetime. That means a lawmaker would have to sit out after serving 12 years, but after a four-year break could run for office again.

 

The third proposed amendment that the legislature put before voters is whether or not to change the process of gathering signatures on petitions to place issues on the ballot.

 

The number of signatures required does not change. The threshold will still be eight percent of the turnout in the most recent gubernatorial election for an initiated act and 10 percent for a constitutional amendment.

 

Now, signatures must be gathered from at least 15 counties, and the change would require them to be gathered from at least 45 counties of the 75 counties in Arkansas.

 

If approved, the measure would repeal current provisions that allow an additional 30 days to collect more signatures. Now, if a group submits petitions on which 75 percent of the signatures are valid, it may get a 30-day extension to collect more.

 

The current deadline for submitting signatures is in early July. If changed by voters, the new deadline for filing would be January 15, and any legal challenges would have to be filed by April 15.

 

It also would raise the bar for the legislature, which may refer up to three proposed amendments in every regular session. Now, it takes a simple majority of 51 percent of the Senate and House of Representatives to refer a proposed constitutional amendment to voters. If voters approve the change, it would require a 60 percent majority.

 

Regardless of the outcome of next year’s election, there will be changes in the process of submitting signatures on petitions to change the Constitution through ballot issues.

 

That’s because of the passage earlier this year of Act 376, which changes the entity that will approve proposed ballot titles. It has been the state attorney general, but under Act 376 it will be done by the state Board of Election Commissioners.

 

Petitions with signatures must be presented to the Secretary of State at the same time that the proposed ballot title is presented to the Board of Election Commissioners.

 

Also, Act 376 increases the penalty for petition fraud, from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony.

 

4-19-19  12:20 p.m.  KAWX.ORG

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Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

 

Pulling the Plug on Robocalls and Scammers

 

The unwelcome nature of scammers and telemarketers’ frequent, harassing and deceitful calls to our landlines and cell phones is something almost everyone can agree on. It’s time more is done to curb them.

 

The good news is that efforts are underway in our state and on a national level to cut down on these practices that at best are a nuisance, but often turn out to be nefarious schemes to trick hardworking people out of their paychecks or savings.

 

We are all familiar with these calls. They are now the top consumer complaint submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Many are automated and offer an unearned, unsolicited and seemingly too-good-to-be-true award. Others turn out to be from a real person who, within a few moments, begins attempting to collect on debts you are alleged to owe to government agencies or private businesses.

 

What’s worse is that sometimes these calls are made to seem more legitimate even before you answer them by using “spoofing” technology which causes the caller ID service on our devices to show that the incoming call appears to be coming from a local or familiar number.

 

Unfortunately, these unwanted calls continue to occur and are increasing. It’s easy to see how much of a risk they pose to unsuspecting people, particularly the elderly or those who might be convinced to act quickly and render some form of payment in order to settle a debt or assist a loved one they fear might be in danger or in need.

 

A Little Rock-based company, First Orion, predicts that nearly half of all cellphone calls in 2019 will come from scammers. Call-blocking company YouMail projects that last month over five billion robocalls were placed, including 60 million in Arkansas.

 

The United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has recently passed legislation, which I have cosponsored, to combat annoying, illegal and abusive robocalls. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act is a bipartisan bill that seeks to mobilize the federal government to more aggressively prevent these calls and punish the culprits.

 

It would increase the statute of limitations for regulators to pursue investigations and take legal action as well as allow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy fines without first issuing a legal warning. Additionally, the TRACED Act will prod carriers to implement new technology to verify if a call comes from a real number while also seeking to bring agencies like the FTC, FCC, Department of Justice and state attorneys general together to work on ways to tackle this issue.

 

Our state is also leading efforts to stop unwanted calls to Arkansans. The state legislature recently passed and the governor signed legislation raising the penalty for illegal robocalls from a misdemeanor to a felony as well as making spoofing a felony. The law requires telecom companies to report annually to the state Public Service Commission on steps they take to identify and block illegal robocalls.

 

Pulling the plug on robocalls and scammers is common sense. Their manipulative, harassing practices are unwarranted and, in many cases, illegal. I will continue to advocate for solutions and enforcement of existing laws so that Arkansans and citizens across the country do not continue being hassled, badgered and even defrauded by these illegitimate actors.

 

4-19-19 7:23 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Family Fun Activities At QWSP Just Minutes From Mena

 

 

Upcoming activities at Queen Wilhelmina State Park near Mena, Arkansas.

 

Friday, April 19

 

Reservoir Hike 2:00 pm 1 hour Reservoir Trailhead Join Park Interpreter Melissa on a hike to what used to be the old water system for the 1898 hotel.

 

Champion Trees 5:00 pm 30 min Hearth Room Do you ever wonder what the largest tree of it species are called? Join Park Interpreter Melissa and she will talk about the Champion Trees in Arkansas and where their located.

 

Arkansas Symbols 7:00 pm 30 min Hearth Room Do you know the symbols of Arkansas? Join Park Interpreter Melissa and find out our state drink, cooking vessel, bird and much more!

 

Saturday, April 20

 

Wonder House Tour 2:00 pm 30 min Wonder House Do you ever wonder what the Wonder House is about? Join Park Interpreter Melissa and step back into history to see one of the first vacation homes built in the 1930’s.

 

Dutch Oven Demonstration 4:00 pm 1 hour Picnic Area Are you in need of a tasty treat for this week? Stop by Queen Wilhelmina picnic area to find out how much better dessert is cooked over a fire! Park Interpreter Melissa will be using the state vessel – a Dutch oven – to cook-up a simple and delicious dessert. Come by for a taste.

 

Slithering Snakes 7:00 pm 30 min Hearth Room What type of snake slither over the forest floor at Queen Wilhelmina? Join Park Interpreter Melissa to learn a few of the venomous and nonvenomous snakes we have here at Queen Wilhelmina. 

 

Sunday, April 21

 

Bird Watching 9:00 am 1 hour North side of Lovers Leap Whether you’re a beginner or pro at birding, join park interpreter Melissa as we hike to the observation deck. We will be watching for birds along the way. Bring your binoculars and we will see how many birds we can identify.

 

Wonder House Tour 2:00 pm 30 min Wonder House Do you ever wonder what the Wonder House is about? Join Park Interpreter Melissa and step back into history to see one of the first vacation homes built in the 1930’s.

 

Edible Insects 3:00 pm 30 min Hearth Room Are eating bugs a real thing? Join park interpreter Melissa and see who really eats bugs. If you’re brave enough you can join the “I Ate A Bug Club!” Bring your appetite and take a bite, or come and watch!

 

Friday, April 26

 

Reservoir Hike 2:00 pm 1 hour Reservoir Trailhead Join Park Interpreter Melissa on a hike to what used to be the old water system for the 1898 hotel.

 

Arkansas Symbols 5:00 pm 30 min Hearth Room Do you know the symbols of Arkansas? Join Park Interpreter Melissa and find out our state drink, cooking vessel, bird and much more!

 

Sunset Hike 7:45 pm 30 min Beside Telescopes Join Park Interpreter Melissa, for an easy stroll to watch the sunset. Feel free to bring your camera to take photos of this beautiful view.

 

Saturday, April 27

 

Wonder House Tour 2:00 pm 30 min Wonder House Do you ever wonder what the Wonder House is about? Join Park Interpreter Melissa and step back into history to see one of the first vacation homes built in the 1930’s.

 

Critter Signs & Tracks 4:00 pm 30 min Amphitheater Do you know what animals eat or where they get their food? Join Park Interpreter Melissa on a short hike to look for critter signs and track to see what is eaten for food.

 

Champion Trees 7:00 pm 30 min Hearth Room Do you ever wonder what the largest tree of it species are called? Join Park Interpreter Melissa and she will talk about the Champion Trees in Arkansas and where their located.

 

For more information about these activities at QWSP, or the park, call (479) 394-2863 or 394-2864. You can also learn about the park by visiting their website.

 

4-18-19 7:52 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Governor Signs Bill Creating Resident Lifetime License For Disabled Vets

During a ceremony in the governor’s office Wednesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 397. The bill creates an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission resident disabled veterans license that includes a lifetime combination hunting and fishing license, a lifetime Arkansas duck stamp and an Arkansas trout stamp.

 

The governor said the license, “...is one way to recognize and honor the service of disabled veterans in this state.”

AGFC Director Pat Fitts said the license will double the reach of eligible recipients to over 14,000 disabled veterans. “It also lowers the threshold from 100 percent disable to 70 percent disabled,” Fitts said. “We did work very closely with the Veterans Affairs office on this bill and while we can never fully repay our disabled veterans for what they have given this country, we can say ‘thank you’ by offering this lifetime license,” he added.

 

The cost of the license will be $52.50 and will be available 90 days after the current legislative session officially adjourns. The new license is an option to the current $1.50 resident disabled military veteran lifetime fishing license and the $1.50 resident disabled military veteran lifetime hunting license.

 

4-18-19 8:31 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Weekly Fishing Report

 

Weekly Fishing Report

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for April 17, 2019. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email AGFCfishingreport@outlook.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news.

 

Central Arkansas

 

North Arkansas

 

Northwest Arkansas

 

Northeast Arkansas

 

Southeast Arkansas

 

Southwest Arkansas

 

South-Central Arkansas

 

West-Central Arkansas

 

East Arkansas

 

Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk

 

For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt

 

For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality.

 

4-17-19 5:16 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Polk County Circuit Court Arraignments April 15th

All criminal information is merely an accusation and the Defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner, within and for the 18th-West Judicial District of the State of Arkansas, of which Polk County is a part, in the name and by the authority of the State of Arkansas, on oath, do hereby accuse the defendants of committing in Polk County, Arkansas the following crimes: 

 

State of Arkansas Vs. Robert W. Williams, W/M, age 51, Count I: Possession Of A Schedule II Controlled Substance, a Class "D" Felony. Count II: Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia, a Class "D" Felony. Count III: Possession Of Controlled Substance, Oxycodone, a Class "D" Felony. Count IV: Possession Of A Schedule VI Controlled Substance With Purpose To deliver, Marijuana, a Class "D" Felony. The State of Arkansas notified the defendant that it intends to pursue enhanced penalties pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated 5-4-501 due to the fact that he has been convicted of more than one (1) felony but fewer than four (4) felonies.

 

State of Arkansas Vs. Michelle Hogan, W/F, age 37, Count I: Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia, a Class "D" Felony. Count II: Driving On suspended License, an Unclassified Misdemeanor.

 

4-17-19 5:10 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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DRIVE HIGH - GET A DWI

“DRIVE HIGH – GET A DWI”
 
ARKANSAS JOINS REGIONAL ENFORCEMENT PLAN STRIKING AGAINST DRUG IMPAIRED DRIVING
 
   Law enforcement agencies across six states will increase patrol officer presence on roads and highways beginning later this week as part of a regional plan aimed to reduce incidents of drug impaired driving.
 
   Beginning Friday (April 19th) and continuing through Saturday, local police, sheriff’s deputies and highway patrol troopers in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma will concentrate patrols directed toward an effort to stop drivers who are impaired by drugs.  Impaired driving is illegal in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
 
    Regardless of how a driver may come to be in possession of drugs, whether the substance is prescribed or illegal to possess; driving while impaired by drugs creates a safety threat to the driver, vehicle passengers and others traveling on public roadways.
 
    “Drug impaired driving is a serious issue for drivers and law enforcement officers on Arkansas roadways,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “By intensifying enforcement of drug impaired driving laws we hope people will think twice before driving while impaired by any drug whether it is prescribed or not.”
 
    Almost all illegal drugs and many prescription drugs can slow the reaction time of a driver who must be alert and in control of the vehicle.  Just like alcohol, drugs make it more difficult for drivers to keep a steady position in their traffic lane.  It doesn’t matter what term is used to describe the impairment; if a driver is high, stoned, wasted or drunk, the individual is impaired.  Driving while impaired by any substance is illegal and can be deadly.
    “Our goal is to save lives and we’re putting all drivers on notice that drug impaired driving is against the law,” said Colonel Bryant.
 
    Remember, “Drive High – Get a DWI.”
 
    Lear more about the dangers of drug impaired driving at Traffic Safety Marketing, https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.
 
4-17-19 6:02 a.m. KAWX.ORG   

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Quorum Court Committees Deal With Raises, Cadaver Cooler

 

Two Polk County Quorum Court Committees met Tuesday, April 16th.

 
The Salary and Personnel Committee chaired by JP Harold Coogan met at 5:00 p.m. to discuss raises for county employees. The committee voted to recommend to the full Quorum Court at the next regular meeting, which will me April 23rd, that all county employees and elected officials, excepting Justices of the Peace, be given a $1,200.00 annual raise, or $100.00 a month. The raise, if approved by the full Court, will be retroactive to January 1st.
 
At 6:00 p.m. the Health and Sanitation Committee chaired by JP Basil Kesterson met to take up business assigned to them last month when the full Court was unable to come to a resolution to handle the cadaver cooler problem that recently surfaced when the County Coroner, Brian Bowser, requested that the cooler be relocated to his place of business, Bowser Family Funeral Home. The cooler has been located at Beasley Wood Funeral Home since the county purchased it in 2007, at which time the manager of Beasley Wood was the Coroner. In an opinion by the Arkansas Attorney General in 2012, Coroners are legally responsible for maintaining custody of human remains. After lengthy discussion about the existing arrangement and the need for the Coroner to maintain custody of bodies to preserve evidence, it was decided by the committee to have the cooler appraised and then sell it to the high bidder in a sealed bid sale. Proceeds from the sale of the cooler will be used, if required, to purchase a more portable cooler for the use of the Coroner for official coroner use only. 
 
The cadaver cooler was purchased used in 2007 for $4,000.00.
 
The county is in possession of a refrigerated mass casualty trailer that is owned by ADEM (Arkansas Department of Emergency Management), that could be used in the event of a disaster. The trailer is not for the exclusive use of Polk County and could be sent to neighboring counties if needed. 
 
4-16-19 8:24 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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City of Mena Public Meeting Scheduled

 

The City of Mena invites citizens and other interested persons to a drop-in Public Meeting at City Fire Station No. 2 located at 1100 Mena Street on Thursday, May 9, 2019, from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.

 
The purpose of the meeting is to identify potential outdoor park and recreation needs and priorities. Following the identification process, city officials will select those priorities to be submitted to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism for an Outdoor Recreation Matching Grant application.
 
Ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and special interest groups are encouraged to attend and participate. 
 
Please make plans to drop in and share your thoughts!
 
For those unable to attend the meeting, you may phone (479) 394-3141. Written comments may be submitted to City of Mena, 520 Mena Street, Mena, Arkansas 71953.
 
4-16-19 7:54 p.m. KAWWX.ORG 

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City Offices Closed Friday In Observance Of Good Friday

Mena city offices will be closed Friday, April 19th, in observance of Good Friday

 
4-16-19 7:43 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Area Schools Get Report Cards From Arkansas Department of Education

The Arkansas Department of Education released the annual school report cards today for area schools. 

 
The letter grades for each school are based on a number of things. To view the complete reports, click anywhere on this line.
 
The schools and letter grades are below.
 
Acorn Elemenatry C
 
Acorn High School B
 
Cossatot River High School C
 
Holly Harshman Elementary B
 
Louise Durham Elementary B
 
Mena Middle School B
 
Mena High School B
 
Oen Schools B
 
Umpire K-12 B
 
Van Cove Elementary B
 
Wickes Elementary B
 
4-15-19 9:13 p.m. KAWX.ORG 
 
 
 
 

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Know Where To Take Shelter When The Sirens Sound

 
When the tornado siren sounds, or your NOAA Weather Radio advises there is a tornado warning for your community, where will you take shelter?
 
Some have safe rooms or storm shelters. If you don't, and have time to safely get to one of the shelters open to the public, here is a list.
 
Mena High School - Mena
Holly Harshman Elementary - Mena
Acorn School - Acorn
Polk County Courthouse Basement - Mena 
 
The shelters listed above will automatically open when the local tornado sirens are activated, according to Polk County Office of Emergency Management Director Kris Lyle. Lyle also pointed out that pets are not allowed in the shelters.
 
If you are forced to shelter in place, see the graphic below for some dos and don'ts.
 
 
Having as much advance notice as possible is very important, so if you don't already, consider buying a NOAA Weather Alert Radio. Keep fresh backup batteries in your NOAA Weather Radio so it will warn you even if the electricity is off. When a "Tornado Watch" is issued, pay close attention to the weather radio since a "tornado watch" means that conditions are favorable for the development of a tornado. A "Tornado Warning" means there has been a sighting by a trained spotter or law enforcement officer, or a tornado is radar indicated. When "Tornado Warnings" are issued, take cover! 
 
KAWX streams the Mena NOAA Weather Radio station and provides a free app. The stream and app are not intended to replace actual NOAA Weather Radios with alerting capabilities. To listen to the stream on your PC, click anywhere on this line. The free "Mena Weather Radio" app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.
 
Finally, have a Severe Weather Plan. Keep phones charged, flashlights handy, and important numbers where you can find them. Portable AM-FM radio that operate on batteries and police scanners are also very good sources for information before, during and after severe weather. 
 
April and May are the traditional "severe weather" months for Arkansas, so stay weather aware! 
 
4-15-19 6:32 p.m. KAWX.ORG 
 

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Polk County Sheriff's Log For April 8th - 14th

 

 

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of April 8 - April 14, 2019.  The charges against those arrested are allegations and the cases are still pending in the courts.  Individuals charged and whose names appear in this column may submit documentation to us at a later date that the charges have been dismissed or that they have been found innocent and we will include that information in this space in a timely manner.


April 8, 2019
Report from complainant on Forest Lane in Vandervoort of problems with a contractor he had hired.  Deputy advised that matter was a civil issue.
Report from complainant on Polk 36 near Hatfield of being dog bit.  Deputy responded.
Arrested was Karson B. Crawford, 26, of Mena, on a Warrant for Bond Revocation.
Arrested was David M Fraser, 30, of Mena, on a Warrant for Violation of Suspended Imposition of Sentence.
Arrested was Samantha E. Coleman, 26, of Mena, on Warrants for Forgery 2nd Degree, Criminal Trespass and two counts of Theft of Property.


April 9, 2019
Report from complainant on Polk 48 near Potter of damage done to a sign.  Investigation continues.
Report from complainant on Polk 129 near Rocky of damage done to a vehicle.  Deputy responded.
Report of a vehicle on fire on Highway 88 East near Mena.  Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Highway 71 South near Hatfield of a forged signature.  Investigation continues.
Arrested was Joseph J. Davis, 40, of Mena, on a Warrant for Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card.


April 10, 2019
Report of neglect of animals on Polk 22 near Cove.  Deputy responded.
Arrested was Jamie F. Beckwith, 27, of Mena, on Charges of Possession of Schedule I/II Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.


April 11, 2019
Arrested was Phillip A. Lowery, 43, of Spiro, OK, on Charges of two counts of Theft of Property.


April 12, 2019
Report from a Mena man of a missing family member.  Investigation continues.
Report from complainant on Polk 20 near Cove of the break-in and theft of equipment valued at $220.00.  Investigation continues.
Report from complainant on Lil George Lane near Yocana of an abandoned vehicle on their property, and the theft of two batteries, valued at $100.00.  Investigation continues.
Report from complainant on Highway 375 East near Mena of damage done to a parked vehicle.  Investigation continues.
Traffic stop on Polk 63 near Yocana led to the arrest of Michelle L. Hogan, 37, of Mena, on Charges of Driving with a Suspended Driver’s License and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Report from complainant on Polk 48 near Potter of trash illegally dumped on their property.  Investigation continues.
Arrested was Michael E. Trivette, 27, of Mena, on a Warrant for a Parole Hold.

April 13, 2019
Report from complainant on West Dover Street in Hatfield of their dog being attacked by other dogs.  Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Highway 71 South near Cove of damage done to a vehicle at an unknown time.  Investigation continues.


April 14, 2019
Traffic stop on School Street in Cove led to the arrest of Cody D. Dees, 33, of Hatfield, on two Warrants for Failure to Comply with a Court Order.  Also arrested was Matthew B Parnell, 26, of Cove, on two Warrants for Failure to Comply with a Court Order.
Report from complainant on Highway 246 West near Hatfield of an unknown vehicle parked in their yard led to the arrest of Amos M. Miller, 40, of Mena, on a Charge of Public Intoxication.
Report of a domestic disturbance on Highway 88 East near Yocana.  Deputy responded.  Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration.

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 18 Incarcerated Inmates, with 4 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

PC19-00257

 

4-15-19 2:37 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Mena Police Department Report for April 7th - 13th

 
Mena Police Department Reports for the Week of April 7, 2019 through April 13, 2019 
 
 
April 7, 2019
A local woman reported she is being harassed by an acquaintance.  No charges have been filed.
 
April 8, 2019
 
Jazzmyn Hoskin, 21, of Grannis was charged with shoplifting after officers responded to a call at a local retail store.
 
Melanie Howard, 46, and William Howard, 47, both of Boles, were charged with shoplifting after a call to a local business.
 
A 40-year-old Hatfield woman reported that someone had stolen prescription drugs from her.  Case is pending.
 
April 9, 2019
 
Michelle Huff, 43, of Mena was charged with shoplifting after a call from a local retailer.  She was also served an outstanding warrant from the Mena Police Department for failure to pay fines and court costs.
 
Sarah Mitchell, 25, of Mena was arrested on an outstanding warrant.  The incident happened after officers had responded to a call in a local neighborhood regarding having issues with a neighbor.
 
April 10, 2019
 
Officers went to a local residence after an acquaintance had called to ask that the police check on the welfare of the resident.  The woman was located, and was not in peril.
 
April 11, 2019
 
Report was made of someone breaking a window in a vacant building in Mena.  No suspects at this time.
 
A Mena woman reported that someone had damaged her mailbox.  No suspects at this time.
 
A local woman reported that someone had broken a window in a property she owns.  No suspects at this time.
 
April 12, 2019
 
David Sinyard, 43, of Mena was charged with inhaling intoxicants after officers responded to a call concerning a man who would not leave his property.  He was additionally served four outstanding warrants from the Mena Police Department.
 
April 13, 2019
 
Alan Bryan Cox, 47, of Cove was charged with shoplifting.  The arrest followed a call to a local retail store.
 
Officers responded to a call from a Mena woman requesting they check the welfare of a dog in her neighborhood.  The dog’s owner was advised to provide more adequate shelter.  Case was referred to the animal control officer.
 
4-15-19 1:28 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Acorn's Got Talent Show Winners Announced

The Acorn high School Music Department recently held a talent contest to raise money for the Cherie and Michael Magness family. Valerie Couch, the Acorn Band and Choir Director, reported that close to $800.oo was raised to help the family with medical expenses.

 

Winners of the Middle School Division: 1st Place Dane Richardson, 2nd Place Kaelin Harding, and 3rd Place Hannah Woodard. 

 

Winners of the High School Division: 1st Place Jeb Wilborg, 2nd Place Tessa Kesterson, 3rd place Halli Holland.

Pictured left to right: Hannah Woodard, Kaelin Harding, Dane Richardson, Halli Holland, Tessa Kesterson, and Jeb Wilborg.

 

Congratulations to all the winners!

 

4-15-19 11:54 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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May Activities at Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area

 

For more information about any of these activities at Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area near Wickes, or about the park, call (870) 385-2201. Click anywhere on this line for directions to the park.

 

Saturday, May 04

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Guided Kayak Tour (7 hours) A park interpreter will be your guide on this fun-filled trip down the beautiful Cossatot River! Kayak adventure tours are designed for beginners, but all ability levels are welcome. The park provides kayaks, paddles, helmets, and life jackets. Transportation to and from the Park Visitor Center is provided at no additional cost.

Please note: Inclement weather or river conditions may cause the park to cancel the tour. Payment is required prior to trip. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance. Questions? Call 1-870-385-2201
Meeting Place: Visitor Center. Cost: $30.94/Person
 

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Worm’s the Word (1 hour) Without worms, we’d all go hungry! Meet a park interpreter to discover the vital role these often overlooked critters play in our survival.

Meeting Place: Cossatot Falls’ Parking Lot.
 

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. What’s for Dinner? (1 hour) What’s an owl’s favorite food? Owl show you! Join a park interpreter as you dig in and uncover the answers for yourself.

Meeting Place: Low Water Bridge below Visitor Center.
 

Sunday, May 05

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Power Plants (1 hour) From medicine to food, plants are a powerhouse! Join a park interpreter and explore the many uses of plants at Cossatot River State Park –Natural Area.

Meeting Place: Cossatot Falls’ Parking Lot.
 

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Feed the Critters (1 hour) It’s dinner time and the critters are hungry! Come and watch them eat and learn about the animals here at Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area.

Meeting Place: Visitor Center.
 

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wildflower Walk (1 hour 30 mins.) Come to the Cossatot River State Park and enjoy the beauty of spring wildflowers with a park interpreter. Many of these wildflowers are unique to the area, occurring only in the Ouachita Mountains.

Meeting Place: Low Water Bridge below Visitor Center.
 

Friday, May 10

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Guided Kayak Tour (7 hours) A park interpreter will be your guide on this fun-filled trip down the beautiful Cossatot River! Kayak adventure tours are designed for beginners, but all ability levels are welcome. The park provides kayaks, paddles, helmets and life jackets. Transportation to and from the Park Visitor Center is provided at no additional cost.

Please note: Inclement weather or river conditions may cause the park to cancel the tour. Payment is required prior to trip. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance. Questions? Call 1-870-385-2201
Meeting Place: Visitor Center. Cost: $30.94/Person
 

Saturday, May 18

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Guided Kayak Tour (7 hours) A park interpreter will be your guide on this fun-filled trip down the beautiful Cossatot River! Kayak adventure tours are designed for beginners, but all ability levels are welcome. The park provides kayaks, paddles, helmets and life jackets. Transportation to and from the Park Visitor Center is provided at no additional cost.

Please note: Inclement weather or river conditions may cause the park to cancel the tour. Payment is required prior to trip. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance. Questions? Call 1-870-385-2201

Meeting Place: Visitor Center. Cost: $30.94/Person
 

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

Sunday, May 19

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Guided Kayak Tour (7 hours) A park interpreter will be your guide on this fun-filled trip down the beautiful Cossatot River! Kayak adventure tours are designed for beginners, but all ability levels are welcome. The park provides kayaks, paddles, helmets and life jackets. Transportation to and from the Park Visitor Center is provided at no additional cost.

Please note: Inclement weather or river conditions may cause the park to cancel the tour. Payment is required prior to trip. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance. Questions? Call 1-870-385-2201

Meeting Place: Visitor Center. Cost: $30.94/Person
 

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.

 

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Feed the Critters (1 hour) It’s dinner time and the critters are hungry! Come and watch them eat and learn about the animals here at Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area.

Meeting Place: Visitor Center.

 

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

Friday, May 24  Memorial Weekend (May 24-27, 2019)

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Guided Kayak Tour (7 hours) A park interpreter will be your guide on this fun-filled trip down the beautiful Cossatot River! Kayak adventure tours are designed for beginners, but all ability levels are welcome. The park provides kayaks, paddles, helmets and life jackets. Transportation to and from the Park Visitor Center is provided at no additional cost.

Please note: Inclement weather or river conditions may cause the park to cancel the tour. Payment is required prior to trip. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance. Questions? Call 1-870-385-2201
Meeting Place: Visitor Center. Cost: $30.94/Person
 

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

Saturday, May 25

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Guided Kayak Tour (7 hours) A park interpreter will be your guide on this fun-filled trip down the beautiful Cossatot River! Kayak adventure tours are designed for beginners, but all ability levels are welcome. The park provides kayaks, paddles, helmets and life jackets. Transportation to and from the Park Visitor Center is provided at no additional cost.

Please note: Inclement weather or river conditions may cause the park to cancel the tour. Payment is required prior to trip. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance. Questions? Call 1-870-385-2201

Meeting Place: Visitor Center. Cost: $30.94/Person
 

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

Sunday, May 26

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Guided Kayak Tour (7 hours) A park interpreter will be your guide on this fun-filled trip down the beautiful Cossatot River! Kayak adventure tours are designed for beginners, but all ability levels are welcome. The park provides kayaks, paddles, helmets and life jackets. Transportation to and from the Park Visitor Center is provided at no additional cost.

Please note: Inclement weather or river conditions may cause the park to cancel the tour. Payment is required prior to trip. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance. Questions? Call 1-870-385-2201
Meeting Place: Visitor Center. Cost: $30.94/Person
 

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.

 

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Feed the Critters (1 hour) It’s dinner time and the critters are hungry! Come and watch them eat and learn about the animals here at Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area.

Meeting Place: Visitor Center.
 

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

Monday, May 27

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Guided Kayak Tour (7 hours) A park interpreter will be your guide on this fun-filled trip down the beautiful Cossatot River! Kayak adventure tours are designed for beginners, but all ability levels are welcome. The park provides kayaks, paddles, helmets and life jackets. Transportation to and from the Park Visitor Center is provided at no additional cost.

Please note: Inclement weather or river conditions may cause the park to cancel the tour. Payment is required prior to trip. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance. Questions? Call 1-870-385-2201
Meeting Place: Visitor Center. Cost: $30.94/Person
 

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

Friday, May 31

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Guided Kayak Tour (7 hours) A park interpreter will be your guide on this fun-filled trip down the beautiful Cossatot River! Kayak adventure tours are designed for beginners, but all ability levels are welcome. The park provides kayaks, paddles, helmets and life jackets. Transportation to and from the Park Visitor Center is provided at no additional cost.

Please note: Inclement weather or river conditions may cause the park to cancel the tour. Payment is required prior to trip. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance. Questions? Call 1-870-385-2201
Meeting Place: Visitor Center. Cost: $30.94/Person
 

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.
 

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Clue in to Cossatot (varies) Stay for a minute or an hour –it’s up to you. Each time slot offers a different adventure just waiting to be discovered! Will it be snorkeling? skins and skulls? marvelous macros? nature crafts? Clue in and find out! All activities are free and open to all ages. Find a park interpreter at river access areas during the day to join in on the fun!

Meeting Place: Rotating River Access Areas throughout the park.

 

4-14-19 9:03 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Daisy Bates, Johnny Cash Give Arkansas History a Fresh Face

Daisy Bates, Johnny Cash Give Arkansas History a Fresh Face
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – After three months of hard work that produced historic and much-needed legislation, the 92nd General Assembly has adjourned. Together, we cut taxes. We raised teacher pay. We funded roads and highways, and we passed legislation that will bring more efficiency to state government. 
 
But while we were passing laws that will make history, we also passed legislation that recognizes Arkansas’s history. Senate Bill 75 authorizes the state to put two new statues in National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. House Bill 1030 declared September 1 to be an annual Arkansas Music Appreciation Day in honor of Arkansas’s rich musical history that is rooted in the earthen soul of Arkansas from the gumbo mud of the Delta to the tree-shrouded hollows of the Ozarks. 
 
I signed those bills this week in a ceremony that included some of the royalty of Arkansas’s civil rights movement and musical heritage.
The Arkansans who currently represent us in Statuary Hall are U. M. Rose, a lawyer who served as president of the American Bar Association, and James Paul Clarke, a governor of Arkansas and a U.S. senator. Their statues have been there for nearly a hundred years.
 
Most everyone who was involved in the discussion agreed we needed to update the statues with representatives of our more recent history. But there were many opinions about which historic figures best represented our state. The debate was lively and healthy. In the end, the Senate chose Daisy Lee Gatson Bates and Johnny Cash. 
Jan Brown, Mrs. Bates’s goddaughter; Annie Abrams, a friend of Mrs. Bates; Rosanne Cash, Johnny’s daughter; and Joanne Cash, his sister, were among those who joined me in the conference room for the bill signing. 
 
The history of the civil rights struggle in Arkansas is an essential part of our story that says much about courage and who we are as a state. Daisy Bates was a key person in that story. She continues to inspire us. 
 
Music is a big deal in Arkansas, and Johnny Cash is a big deal in music. Those two great historicfigures who made such a difference in Arkansas in their own way are appropriate people to tell part of the story of Arkansas in our nation’s capitol.
 
Senator Dave Wallace, who sponsored the bill, spoke of walking past the portrait of Mrs. Bates that hangs on the north end of the capitol. He said, “I’d look at that portrait. I’d look at the statue of the Little Rock 9. I’d think about the courage it took for her to walk with those children. Mrs. Bates changed Arkansas, and changed it for the better.”
 
Music is such an important part of Arkansas that the House of Representatives decided that we should set aside a day of appreciation for the heritage. The bill mentions some of the most well-known Arkansans, including Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Glen Campbell, Charlie Rich, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Al Green, Conway Twitty, and Floyd Cramer.
 
Rosanne Cash spoke poetically about the musical heritage of her family. She said, “The music that the Cash family sang in the fields, in the church, and in their Dyess home formed the background of their lives. For my father, it became the center of his life and the wellspring from which he drew his inspiration. He carried on the tradition that began at my grandmother’s piano in Dyess.”
 
It was an honor to sign these two bills that help tell the story of the great state of Arkansas.
 
4-12-19 5:46 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

More than 900 bills have been signed into law this session. This General Assembly has reduced taxes, addressed infrastructure needs, increased funding to education, and transformed state government.
 
One of the last bills we passed was the amendment to the Revenue Stabilization Act.
 
This outlines the $5.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020. It includes a 2.2% increase in spending from the current fiscal year. It is the lowest amount of increased spending in Arkansas in the last 10 years. 
 
The increases include an additional $61 million for Medicaid and additional $31 million for public education.
 
The budget also addresses public safety by increasing funding for state police to hire more troopers and funding for the Department of Community Correction to hire more parole officers.
 
This budget includes increases for UAMS, the Division of Agriculture, and the Department of Correction.
 
Meanwhile, legislation passed this session has reduced income taxes for more than a ½ million families in Arkansas to the tune of $97 million.  We reduced taxes for business and paved a way for tax fairness with online sales tax. In addition, every homeowner in Arkansas will benefit from the $25 increase in the homestead tax credit.
 
When it comes to infrastructure, the 92nd General Assembly passed legislation creating $95 million in additional funding. We have also referred an amendment to voters on the November 2020 ballot to create additional funding for highways.
 
In addition to the $31 million increase in education, this General Assembly also increased the minimum starting teacher salary pay by $4 thousand over the next 4 years.
 
Just this week, the Governor signed The Transformation and Efficiencies Act of 2019 into law. It authorizes the reduction of the number of cabinet-level agencies from 42 to 15 and accomplishes the largest reorganization of state government in almost 50 years.
 
We passed legislation transforming our juvenile justice system. Pilot programs have shown these changes result in a lower prison population and drastically reduce the number of children in foster care.
 
The 92nd General Assembly cut red tape for small businesses, created and funded the Next Generation 911 system, and laid the groundwork for a state of the art cancer research facility in Arkansas.
 
The House will convene again on April 24 to address any unfinished business and officially adjourn the 2019 Regular Session.  It has been an honor to serve our districts and we look forward to updating you on our work during the interim.
 
4-12-19 5:12 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: NATO at 70

During a recent address before a Joint Session of Congress, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg vividly described the two monuments that stand out front of the organization’s headquarters in Belgium. One, a piece of the Berlin Wall. The other, a twisted steel beam from the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

 

As Secretary General Stoltenberg noted, both serve a special purpose. These monuments stand as powerful reminders for NATO members of where we have been, are going and our commitment to one another.

 

NATO turned 70 this month. The United States and our Trans-Atlantic allies in the organization have seen the world change considerably during those seven decades. The threat posed by the Soviet Union—one of the main reasons the alliance was formed—no longer exists. However, the international community now faces the challenge of an increasingly hostile Russia in its place.

 

When Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, it carried out an alarming act of aggression that Europe hasn’t seen since World War II. Realizing that he faced little recourse for that action, Vladimir Putin stepped up his belligerent acts by arming pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine, carrying out bombing campaigns on behalf of a murderous regime in Syria and conducting cyberattacks on Western democracies.

 

As if this litany of aggressions isn’t enough, Russia has deployed mobile, nuclear-capable missiles in Europe. This is a clear violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that will have long-term ramifications for NATO countries. As the Secretary General stated in his Joint Session address, “an agreement that is only respected by one side will not keep us safe.”

 

We don’t have to return to a Cold War-era arms race as a result of Russia’s actions. However, we must, as Secretary General Stoltenberg noted, “prepare for a world without the INF Treaty and take the necessary steps to provide credible and effective deterrence.”

 

While the threat posed by a resurgent Russia reinforces the need for a strong NATO, it is far from the only concern facing the alliance. China’s expanding global influence and the aspirations of smaller rogue nations like North Korea and Iran will continue to challenge the west moving forward. Despite making great strides to eliminate ISIS, the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorists remains ever present and knows no boundaries.

 

Amidst all these challenges, NATO stands as a very visible deterrent. When half the world’s military strength stands together, bad actors take notice. Collectively, NATO members also make up half of the world’s economic might. The bond the U.S. shares with our NATO allies extends far beyond security cooperation, as many of these nations are our most reliable and trustworthy trading partners.

 

The strength of NATO is contingent on each and every member paying its fair share. Every member nation must meet the agreed upon defense spending levels. Secretary General Stoltenberg stressed this point during his address and this message has begun to resonate with NATO members. An additional $41 billion has been spent on defense by our European allies and Canada in the last two years alone. That number is expected to reach $100 billion by the end of the year.

 

President Trump deserves credit for bringing about this sea change. His words to our allies that were not living up to their commitments were conveyed in a direct manner. NATO must be a fair alliance.  

 

We have accomplished a great deal together, but many challenges remain for NATO. As we mark the 70th year of the alliance, we do so with the knowledge that our friends from across the Atlantic will continue to be trusted partners who stand by each other in our hours of need.

 

4-12-19 5:09 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

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Shade Trees on Playgrounds Program Accepting School Applications through May 3

Arkansas Agriculture’s Forestry Commission is now accepting applications for the 2019 Shade Trees on Playgrounds (STOP) program through May 3, for schools needing additional shade on playgrounds.

 

Selected schools will receive five shade trees, mulch, watering supplies, and planting guidelines. Officials with the Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) will help plant the trees during a ceremony with students in the fall. The STOP program application and program guidelines can be found here.

 

Urban forestry staff began the STOP program sixteen years ago to help lower adult skin cancer risk by reducing childhood exposure to direct sunlight on school playgrounds. Since then, more than 100 Arkansas schools have received trees. The STOP program also provides teachers with a full curriculum about the environmental benefits of trees, how shade reduces skin cancer risks, and tips for keeping trees healthy.

 

“The STOP program combines hands-on, outdoor experiences with classroom curriculum about the importance of trees and how to care for trees,” says Urban Forestry Program Coordinator, Krista Quinn. “We hope this program not only improves the health of Arkansas students, but also leaves a lasting impression about the value of forests and how to be good stewards of our natural resources.”

 

Trees are chosen by AFC staff to fit the unique region and conditions of each playground. Lacebark elms, oaks, tulip poplars, and black gum trees are common candidates for the program. To participate in the STOP program a school must meet the criteria below:

 

  • Lack shade on a school playground
  • Participate in a STOP workshop to be held in Little Rock on September 9
  • Use provided curriculum materials to emphasize the importance of trees during the week leading up to the tree planting event
  • Involve students in tree-related projects that culminate with a tree planting ceremony
  • Hold a tree planting ceremony prior to November 15, 2019
  • Be willing to maintain the trees after planting

 

Learn more about urban and community forestry services and programs, here.

 

The Arkansas Agriculture Department is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit www.aad.arkansas.gov.

 

4-12-19 11:50 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

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Growing Season Prescribed Burns Benefit Turkey Habitat

Forest managers have long known that prescribed fire used to aid with land management is an important tool to improve wildlife habitat.  While many prescribed burns are conducted during the dormant season, or winter, there are benefits to extending the activity into the growing season. 

 

The concern expressed by some is the effect of prescribed burns on ground nesting birds, specifically wild turkeys.  March and April are generally known as wild turkey nesting months.  Forest managers say that burning during this time is much more beneficial than harmful to wild turkey populations.

 

“A common misconception is that prescribed burns during March and April are detrimental to wild turkey populations because they burn wild turkey nests,” said Ouachita National Forest Biologist Clay Vanhorn.  “While we do the bulk of our prescribed burning prior to turkey nesting season,  we have learned that prescribed fire during growing season is an important tool in creating the improved nesting and brood habitat that turkeys require to thrive.”

 

Burning during late March and April — when shrubs and saplings start to bud — is much more effective at reducing brush and saplings and stimulating grass and flowering plant growth than winter burning.  Hunters know, and research shows, that the lush, new plant growth resulting after a prescribed burn attracts a multitude of insects and provides food and shelter for growing turkey poults.  Conversely, if prescribed burns are not implemented, the result is less favorable habitat, a decrease in young poult survival, and eventually a decline in the turkey population.

 

Two to three years after the prescribed burn, the habitat is prime nesting for hen turkeys.  “Hens prefer nesting in prescribed burn areas in the 2-3 years after the initial burn.  The vegetation during this period is not too thick, but it has grown enough to provide adequate cover for the nests and young poults,” said Matt Anderson, Ozark-St. Francis National Forests Wildlife Biologist.  “Since hens prefer this type of habitat, many of them are not nesting in the thicker, denser areas that are generally the target for prescribed burning during March and April.”

 

Historically, spring is the time for cleansing fires in nature. Before humans began focusing on fire suppression in wildlands, spring lightning storms ignited fires that eliminated brush and opened forests up to new growth. This resulted in a more fire resistant forest and enhanced habitat for wildlife at the same time. Today, forest managers work to mimic nature’s original forest health cycle with planned prescribed burns.

 

According to Vanhorn, turkeys, like many animals in Arkansas and Oklahoma forests, adapted to natural, periodic fires.  “This has been happening for as long as we’ve had forests. We’re restoring an important component to an ecosystem that evolved with fire. It’s very common to see turkeys feeding on acorns and insects within hours of a prescribed burn, even with brush and grass still smoking around them.”

 

A position paper by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) supports the practice.  “While the loss of wild turkey nests to prescribed fire is a legitimate concern, a majority of wild turkey research shows very few turkey nests are lost directly because of springtime burns. Research suggests that hens prefer nesting in areas that have been burned within the past two years, but not in high numbers in unburned areas because the habitat is too thick. For the few nests that are lost due to habitat management activity, predation, or even weather-related events, it’s important to note that hens may re-nest up to three times.” 

 

To read more of the NWTF position on springtime prescribed burning and its effect on turkey populations, log on to www.nwtf.org/prescribed-fire.  To learn more about prescribed burning in general, log on to our website at http://tinyurl.com/y5nx4ang.

 

4-12-19 11:42 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Arkansas Lottery Ticket Sales Near $52 Million In March, Over $185,000 in Polk County

Polk County Treasurer Tanya K. Fretz has released Arkansas DFA report showing lottery ticket sales fo March 2019 in Polk County as well as the other counties in Arkansas.

 
Statewide sales in March 2019 were $51,974,614.00.
 
The highest sales were in Pulaski County and totaled $9,662,798.00 and the lowest sales in Montgomery County totaling $37,936.00.
 
Sales in Polk County were $185,610.50.

According to the Family Council, only about twenty cents of each dollar in the so called "education lottery" goes to scholarships.
 
4-12-19 11:19 a.m. KAWX.ORG

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