FREE #GoFRESH Boxes with fresh fruit & vegetables will be distributed this Saturday, May 30 from 10 a.m. until noon or until all boxes have been distributed at 2111 Sutherland Avenue at the Mena First Assembly of God Church.
The GoFRESH items are FREE with no paperwork, no strings attached, and is offered through a drive through. Anyone in our area is welcome to drive through and receive for your family and/or pick up for others. You are welcome to take as many as you will use or share with others. The GoFRESH boxes with fresh dairy, produce, fruit, and/or vegetables will be distributed over the next 5 weeks. Watch our Facebook page for the next date and time.
Again, this is FREE to everyone in our community. PLEASE help us spread the word. LIKE and SHARE this post. Let's get the word spread so everyone can participate!
5-29-30 8:46 p.m. KAWX.ORG
On Wednesday, members of the Arkansas Legislative Council were given an update on unemployment claims in the state. This week, we have also been reviewing a preliminary report from the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force.
Arkansas’s unemployment rate doubled from 5.0% in March to 10.2% in April. The U.S. rate is 14.7%. There were more than 206,000 of initial unemployment claims filed from the week ending March 7 to the week ending May 9. For the week ending May 2, there were 119,332 continued unemployment claims.
Since May 1, close to 39,000 Arkansans have applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance resulting in $19.3 million of paid claims. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is being offered through the CARES Act and provides compensation to those not typically eligible for unemployment benefits such as free-lancers and those who are self-employed.
If you have filed for unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, be sure to check your emails for updates to your account and make sure you submit your weekly claims.
While Arkansas’s economy is faring better than many other states, the fact remains that Arkansans are hurting. The challenge now is to restore our economy and consumer confidence in a way that protects the health of workers, customers, and communities.
The Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force was created in April to develop a strategy for economic recovery efforts.
The task force released a preliminary report this week outlining several recommendations. Those recommendations include increase testing and tracing, addressing COVID-19 related liability concerns for businesses, increasing childcare resources, workforce training, and broadband availability.
The task force noted that much of Arkansas’s recovery will be predicated by our citizens and our businesses continuing to be responsible stakeholders in the recovery efforts. The report states, “Over the next few months, we will all need to adhere to Arkansas’s Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control’s directives in order to manage the impact of COVID-19 throughout our state. Importantly, we need Arkansans to maintain social distancing protocols set out by the Arkansas Department of Health in public settings. Doing so will help protect our friends and relatives from the spread of the virus and undoubtedly accelerate our state’s economic recovery.”
You can read the entire report at www.arkansasready.com.
5-29-20 4:50 p.m. KAWX.ORG
The City of Mena made the following announcement today concerning the swiming pool at Mena's McMillan Park:
Due to health department guidelines concerning social distancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the City of Mena feels it is in the best public interest for McMillan Park Swimming Pool to remain closed until further notice.
5-29-20 3:42 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Pandemic Child Hunger Relief Efforts Can Be Replicated in the Summer
Arkansas children struggling with hunger during this public health crisis will be getting additional support now that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the state’s operational plan for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program.
Created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the program provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals who have been unable to benefit from these programs while closures are in place.
Over 300,000 children in Arkansas are eligible for assistance during the academic year. With schools closed, the pressure on parents to provide their children healthy meals has intensified. Many of these families were already struggling to make ends meet before COVID-19 appeared. They now find themselves facing even more difficult financial hardships as a result.
The Pandemic EBT program will help relieve some of that stress by providing qualifying families with assistance to account for meals that their children would have received at school.
Unfortunately, food insecurity issues facing Arkansas children won’t disappear once the coronavirus crisis is behind us. The challenge arises every summer. When the school year ends, it takes with it the reliable prospect for a healthy breakfast and lunch for children who participate in the program.
I am leading the charge to make federal child nutrition programs more efficient, flexible and better equipped to reach those in need—like the one in four Arkansas children struggling with hunger—during the summer.
The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act of 2019—bipartisan legislation I introduced with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)—will add flexibility to the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides access to healthy lunch and snacks for children from low-income families when school is out.
The SFSP is hamstrung by rules that date back to the 1960s and dictate a one-size-fits-all approach to the problem. Currently, children must travel to a central location and eat their meals together. In rural areas, it can be difficult for children to reach a site, if one even exists. In suburban and urban areas, inclement weather or violence can keep children from these locations and cause them to miss a meal. Because of the rigidity of the program, only 17 percent of eligible students actually receive summer meals.
The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act of 2019 would allow for meals to be consumed off-site through innovative means like mobile feeding and backpack meal programs. It also would authorize an EBT program for summer.
Our bill pre-dates the current public health emergency, but the efforts underway now mirror the reforms we’ve outlined for the summer meals program.
To reduce exposure risks for COVID-19, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act authorized nationwide waivers allowing off-site meal distribution to a parent or guardian to take home to their children. Our bill would create a similar option during summer, since requiring children to receive meals at a central location while school is out is often impractical for logistical and safety reasons.
Additionally, the Pandemic EBT program is essentially the same approach we proposed for families to use during the summer. In USDA pilot programs, summer EBT was shown to reduce child hunger by over 30 percent.
The federal government has rightfully taken steps to help children overcome food insecurity during these difficult times. We shouldn’t forget about these struggles after the crisis brought on by COVID-19 has passed. Efforts to fight hunger, particularly for our children, must remain a priority in order to ensure their health and wellbeing.
5-29-20 3:08 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Queen Wilhelmina State Park near Mena announced today that all park-driven special events will be cancelled through June 30th, with the exception of fishing derbies (which must adhere to AGFC’s and ADH’s guidelines).
The park lodge is currently open for reservations Friday-Monday. Everyone must wear a face-covering in any public spaces.
The restaurant is open with limited capacity and hours. Guests must wear a face-covering until served.
Questions about reservation cancellations should be made to the park directly. You can find the latest COVID-19 updates from Arkansas State Parks on our detailed response page.
If you get a busy signal when calling the park, please email the park directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mountain Glory Train Concessionaire has decided to open later in the season, so it is temporarily closed.
For more information, visit the park's website.
5-29-20 12:30 p.m. KAWX.ORG
State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague
May 29, 2020
LITTLE ROCK –More than 10,500 Arkansas businesses have been approved for grants to reimburse them for the expenses of protecting the health of employees and customers.
The grants are worth up to $100,000, and the total amount of approved grants is about $115 million. They were made available through the Ready for Business Program.
Based on a list provided by the Arkansas Commerce Department, 202 businesses qualified for the maximum grant of $100,000.
The department received 12,234 applications, but 201 were withdrawn or determined to be ineligible.
About 2,500 applications lack paperwork and can still be approved if missing items, such as tax forms, are submitted.
Federal funding was made available in Arkansas as part of a national effort to restore the economy from the negative effects of business closures and layoffs caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In mid-May the legislature voted to allocate $147.7 million to the Ready for Business program. The governor appointed a steering committee, composed of legislators and administration officials, to recommend how best to use the $1.25 billion that Arkansas received from the federal CARES Act. That stands for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Businesses that receive a grant can spend it on supplies such as protective equipment like masks, no-contact thermometers, hand sanitizer stations and cleaning products. They can purchase machines that allow a monetary transaction that requires no contact between the customer and the clerk.
At least 15% of grant recipients must be businesses owned by women or minorities. The Secretary of the Commerce Department said that approved businesses should see checks deposited in their bank accounts within the week.
A state senator on the steering committee said he would like to see some of the CARES Act money be put in a reserve fund.
Another senator on the steering committee noted that Arkansas is obligated to spend CARES Act funding before December 30. If a vaccine is not available before then, it raises the question of whether Arkansas can spend money now from the CARES fund in order to secure future supplies of the vaccine when they do become available. State health officials will look into the wording of the federal funding bill to get an answer to that question.
Food Aid for Children
Financial help is available for families whose children were getting free or reduced-price meals when schools were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
For each child who was enrolled in the lunch program, the family will receive $319. If the family was enrolled in SNAP, the food stamp program, the money will be added to their EBT during the last week of May or first week of June.
If the family was not enrolled in SNAP, the state Department of Education will provide the Department of Human Services with the family’s address, which was on file in the children’s school. DHS will mail an EBT card to the family’s address in June.
The payment will be made only to families enrolled in the free or reduced-price school lunch program when the health emergency was declared and schools were closed. It is a one-time payment, meant to help low-income families who have had to pay for their children’s meals after schools were shut down.
5-29-20 10:29 a.m. KAWX.ORG
OLT Election Results
Ouachita Little Theatre had to suspend the annual membership meeting in May due to pandemic related safety concerns for the public. For the first time, elections for officers and new board members were held by mail-in ballot among the members. There was a very positive response to this voting procedure.
The election results for officers and board members were tallied May 21 and reported online immediately. That information follows:
Rudi Timmerman – President; John Byers – Vice President; Judy Kropp – Secretary; Bill Hayes – Treasurer. Newly elected board members serving a two-year term are Lamar Austin, Jackie Biard, Robby Burt, Gayle Krahn, and Jessica Kropp. The remaining board members serving the second year of their term are Amanda Baker, Jane Buttermilk, Makayla Kenyon-Ortiz, and Julie Ulmer.
OLT Updates & Opportunities
Ouachita Little Theatre board of directors met May 21 to discuss scheduling of shows, the annual financial report, and other miscellaneous details pertaining to theater business.
While OLT is not losing sight of the wonderful success they have had starting with “Annie” last year and running a full schedule of shows through “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” they are struggling with scheduling the 2020-21 season. With COVID19 concerns, rehearsals for the next musical “BIG” have had to be postponed for the time being. The set is mostly constructed, cast and crew chosen, but obstacles remain and at this writing there is no definite word on when rehearsals will start back. According to Director Jessica Kropp and President Timmerman, OLT is determined that “BIG” will be the next production on the OLT stage. Whether it occurs late in the summer or fall depends on the severity of the pandemic in Arkansas and resulting safety guidelines.
The shows from season 2019-20 have left the theater fiscally sound for now. However, there is concern for the future, as there is virtually no income from OLT’s biggest source of income in ticket sales. The other two income sources are through memberships and donations. With maintenance of a historical 100-year-old building and royalties/fees paid for shows not yet produced, the financial cushion will not last long.
As an appeal to the public, if you are able, OLT encourages you to consider renewing your membership, possibly even a higher level than usual. You can also make a donation. Consider purchasing DVD’s made from your VHS, cassette tapes, or even 8 mm film from our Memory Savers service. Just send an email to email@example.com to arrange a time to meet someone at the office on Main Street which is temporarily closed.
To keep our acting and musical skills sharp, OLT invites you to become part of a one-two minute video that will instruct or entertain others about a skill relating to theater. Be watching the Facebook and Instagram pages for examples soon, and if you wish to submit a video yourself, just send an email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for you continued support!
5-29-20 10:18 a.m. KAWX.ORG
The Polk County Quorum Court met Tuesday and for the second month in a row met in the Courtroom at the Courthouse to allow for distancing, and were checked for fever before entering. While the meeting was open to the public, only elected officials and a few county employees were in attendance.
All eleven Justices of the Peace were present, even though one was present via technology.
The agenda was short with JPs taking care of routine business mainly.
Judge Brandon Ellison reported that the county sold some seized vehicles and miscellaneous items in the recent FFA fundraiser auction which netted $5,301. The money was spilt between the Sheriff's Drug Control Fund and the Prosecutors Drug Control Fund. The other items netted $360 which will go to the Sheriff's Department.
Judge Ellison told the JPs that he was pleased with the recent Sales Tax Report. The May 2020 sales tax collected (which was on sales in April) was only $345 less than last year.
While some counties have been much more severely affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic, Polk County's good financial condition and the better than expected sales tax report are good news and the Judge doesn't see any need to look at cutting any services at this time.
Judge Ellison also told the JPs that the recent storms have not only damaged a lot of county roads buy also prevented his road crews from working.
The US Forest Service announced Tuesday afternoon that the Wolf Pen Gap Complex of trails was closing temporarily. The announcement below appeared on their social media page.
Effective 5/26/20, the trails at the Wolf Pen Gap Complex are temporarily closed due to the recent excessive rainfall and wet conditions. For more information and updates, contact the Mena-Oden Ranger District at 479-394-2382.
5-26-20 2:52 p.m. KAWX.ORG
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (May 26, 2020) — Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forest officials have announced that some day use areas on the forests are open today, but many services, such as toilet facilities and trash receptacles, will remain closed
Open day use areas on the forests can be found on the websites of the Ouachita National Forest at www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita or the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests at www.fs.usda.gov/osfnf/.
While some facilities remain closed in the short-term, come prepared with all the essentials you would need for a day trip, including food, emergency supplies, and the ability to pack-out trash.
The Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests are coordinating with federal, state and county officials to reopen areas once it can be accomplished safely. Other developed recreation sites remain closed due to the limited availability of cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment.
Forest Service staff are examining each site to ensure operations comply with current public health guidance. Additional recreation area reopenings are expected on a case-by-case basis.
Visitors to our National Forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.
5-26-20 2:24 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Mena Police Department Reports for the Week of May 17, 2020 through May 23, 2020
May 17, 2020
Jerry Holliday, 31, was served with a warrant and Natalie Holliday was served with a warrant and charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop.
Sara King, 22, and Joseph Holmes, 34, were both charged with Disorderly Conduct after officers responded to a disturbance call.
Brandon Falls, 34, was charged with Driving on a Suspended License, No Vehicle License, Possession of Schedule 6 Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop.
May 18, 2020
Misty Arceneaux, 41, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) after a call to a department store.
Lesia Land, 61, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) after a call to a department store.
A report of Shoplifting was taken at a department store.
A report of unauthorized use of a vehicle was taken from a walk-in complainant.
May 19, 2020
A theft report was taken at a residence.
Officers responded to a disturbance at a residence.
A report of harassment was taken from a walk-in complainant.
A report of Criminal mischief was taken from a walk-in complainant.
May 20, 2020
No reports taken.
May 21, 2020
Dennis Stinson, 42, was served with a warrant.
A forgery report was taken at a fast food restaurant.
Melynda Tilley, 41, was charged with Possession of Schedule 6 and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop.
May 22, 2020
Officers responded to a disturbance call at a residence.
May 23, 2020
Officers responded to a disturbance call at a residence.
All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
5-26-20 1:15 p.m. KAWX.ORG
The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of May 18, 2020 – May 24, 2020. 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.
May 18, 2020
Report from complainant of an online scam involving the sale of a boat. Investigation continues.
Report from complainant of problems involving the online purchase of a dog. Investigation continues.
Report from complainant on Polk 31 near Vandervoort of a trespasser. Deputy responded.
May 19, 2020
Report of a vehicle fire on Hwy 71S near Acorn. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Polk 77 near Acorn of an inappropriate website. Investigation continues.
Report of a single vehicle accident on 375E near Shady led to Citations for Careless and Prohibited Driving and Driving Left of Center being issued to Tyler J. Cornelielus, 26, of Mena.
Report from complainant on Polk 36 near Hatfield of an altercation between two males. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration.
Report from complainant on Polk 87 near Ink of a break-in. Deputy responded.
May 20, 2020
Report from complainant on Polk 290 near Cove of illegal dumping. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant near Mena of a juvenile being harassed. Deputy responded,
Report from complainant on Polk 89 near Mena of criminal mischief and vandalism. Investigation continues.
Report from complainant of finding a gun in a parking lot of a trailhead. Investigation continues.
May 21, 2020
Report from complainant on Destiny Lane near Shady Grove of damage to a car. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Edwards Street near Vandervoort of being harassed. Deputy responded.
Request for a welfare check on Polk 287 near Cove.
Arrested was Tony P. Foster, 34, of Cove on Failure to Appear.
May 22, 2020
Traffic stop on Hwy 71S near Cove led to the discovery of a suspicious substance. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration.
Arrested by an Officer with the Grannis Police Department was Hailey E. Wolski, 28, of Boyce, LA on a Charge of DWI, Driving Left of Center, and No Proof of Insurance.
May 23, 2020
Report from complainant on Polk 720 near Shady Grove of a verbal domestic dispute. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Hwy 71 of a person trespassing. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant near Hatfield of a scam involving salesmen. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Polk 44 near Dallas Valley of a vehicle being side swiped. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Polk 14 near Wickes of damage to a vehicle in the amount of $900.00. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Polk 11 near Wickes of a dispute between family members. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration.
Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Cove of harassment. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration.
Report from complainant on Polk 85 near Cherry Hill of a stolen vehicle led to the arrest of Bradley E. Robinson, 28, of Cherry Hill on a Charge of Theft by Receiving, Possession of a Firearm By Certain Persons and a Warrant for Parole Revocation.
Report of a structure fire on Polk 49 near Shady Grove. Deputy responded.
Arrested was Kennith A. Kyle, 38, of Mena on two Charges of Failure to Comply.
May 24, 2020
Traffic stop near Cove led to the arrest of Jonathon W. Rye, 20, of Cove on a Charge of DWI.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked one vehicle accident this week.
Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 13 Incarcerated Inmates , with 7 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.
5-26-20 12:30 p.m. KAWX.ORG
On Saturday, May 23, 2020, the Polk County Sheriff's Office took a report of a stolen vehicle in the Cherry Hill community. The vehicle, a 2000 Dodge truck, was stolen from a residence on Polk County Road 85.
On Monday, May 25, 2020, the vehicle was spotted in the Pine Ridge are of Montgomery County. After an extensive search, the vehicle was located and a suspect was arrested at a residence on Polk County Road 647 east of Mena.
Bradley Earl Robinson, age 28, of Cherry Hill, was arrested for Theft by Receiving and Possession of a Firearm by Certain Persons. He also had a parole revocation warrant. Sheriff Scott Sawyer stated that Robinson also has other charges pending.
Sheriff Sawyer stated "I'm very happy to get this truck recovered for the owner and I am extremely happy to get Bradley Robinson off the streets. He is a one man crime spree that has a total disregard for the lives of others. Polk County is a safer place with Bradley Robinson in jail".
LITTLE ROCK – Monday is Memorial Day, and today I’d like to pay tribute to the Arkansans who have given their lives through military service to ensure that Americans continue to live in freedom.
Memorial Day 2020 will be different than any of us has ever observed. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to alter most of our traditions, including Memorial Day. This year, we can’t congregate for memorial services at cemeteries and churches. But we can still honor the memory of those who died on our behalf by remembering them and all those who are still willing to go to the front lines.
Since last Memorial Day, we have dedicated a new monument just outside the west doors of the capitol. It is in memory of those who have died in war and in memory of their survivors, the Gold Star families. This monument acknowledges that these families have had to move on with their lives even as they grieve their loss. Their sacrifice never ends.
The monument also is a promise to them that to the best of our ability, we will continue to fight for freedom at home and around the world. We hope that we will never need to add another name to this roll of honor of those who have died on our behalf. But if a situation requires it, we will take up the fight. We will find inspiration in their courage and valor. We will battle to preserve the liberty they bought with their lives.
Those who fight for us understand that serving others requires us to put the interests of others ahead of what we want. That has never been more evident than during this pandemic. Wearing a mask in public is perhaps uncomfortable and inconvenient, but we wear masks because that protects others.
Right now, every retail shop in Arkansas is open to do business. As we head into summer, we will be able to lift even more limits as we reengage our economy, while at the same time we continue to wash our hands frequently and keep a safe distance from others in public.
Because of Arkansans’ willingness to work together, we have been able to allow greater use of our state parks, with all their lodges, cabins, trails, lakes, and rivers. This is a good weekend to begin to explore our life under new circumstances. It’s also a good time to honor the sacrifice of those who went before us.
US and Arkanas Flags should be flown at half stff through Sunday in honor of COVID-19 victims, and Monday for Memorial Day.
Memorial Day will be different this year. The threat of the coronavirus will limit the large gatherings of people who typically come together at ceremonies.
But the virus cannot stop us from taking a moment of private reflection to honor the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform who died protecting freedom.
Arkansas was and is home to so many brave men and women who deserve our recognition.
Our state lost 2,183 Arkansans in World War I.
World War II had a great economic and social impact on the people of Arkansas. During the war, an estimated 194,645 Arkansans served the nation in the various branches of the U.S. armed forces. That was approximately 10% of our state’s population in 1940. As a result of combat, 3,519 Arkansans lost their lives.
Arkansans continued to answer the call to serve. There were 461 Arkansans who lost their lives in the Korean War and 588 during the Vietnam War.
We lost 4 of our own in Desert Storm, 33 in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 29 in Operation Enduring Freedom.
And today, there are thousands who serve willing to put their lives on the line to protect our freedom still.
In 2017, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 281 which instructed the Secretary of State to erect a monument honoring Gold Star Families. The monument is located directly behind the Capitol and was dedicated last fall. The Gold Star Family Memorial Monument honors those families who sacrificed more than most of us, and illustrates that the United States has citizens in every community willing to make such sacrifices. It further illustrates that families suffer and grieve when a dear relative is lost, and without their sacrifices, freedom could not and would not have been preserved.
Monuments and ceremonies are just two of hundreds of ways to honor our men and women in uniform, but the one act of appreciation each of us can do, even in the middle of a pandemic, is to be the kind of American worth fighting for.
5-22-20 6:21 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Helping Arkansas’s Reopening Succeed
We are all eager for a return to normalcy after strict measures were implemented in Arkansas and across the country to slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with patients infected by the disease. We have made significant progress, but what’s equally important now is safely resuming business and allowing Americans to return to work. At the same time, we must remain vigilant and continue to practice effective behaviors like social distancing as commerce restarts.
As a member of President Trump’s Opening Up America Again Congressional Group, I’ve joined discussions about how we can reopen our country in a safe way that protects the health of citizens and supports our businesses. This requires striking the right balance in order to revive the economy while prioritizing public safety and health. Fortunately, Arkansas is leading the way in getting back to business responsibly.
The phased approach to reopening businesses in the Natural State is essential. Governor Asa Hutchinson, along with Arkansas Department of Health Director Dr. Nate Smith and the guidance of his team of public health experts, are leading the way for our state’s return to business by establishing protocols to keep us all safe as doors reopen to customers.
Over the last several weeks, hospitals and clinics resumed elective procedures, churches welcomed parishioners, gyms opened their doors and dine-in services at restaurants across the state returned in limited capacity. In the coming days public pools will reopen to swimmers for the summer.
This measured reopening allows us to minimize health risks while increasing customer capacity at locations we frequented before the pandemic forced us to change our habits. While businesses are required to follow industry-specific guidance, some are also taking additional steps including installing plexiglass shields to separate workspaces in order to reduce the potential for transmission of the coronavirus.
One way we’re working to decrease the spread of the virus and safely reopen American is by expanding COVID-19 testing. Funding authorized by the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act has provided more than $80 million to Arkansas to increase testing capacity. This support will help achieve the governor’s goal of conducting 60,000 coronavirus tests in the state during May.
Widespread testing is critical to reopening businesses and giving citizens the confidence they need to resume contact with loved ones and interact with the businesses and services they rely on in their daily lives. We all want to resume normal activities. It will be a slow process, but I am confident that by continuing to practice social distancing and following the guidelines of medical experts, we can safely and successfully recover.
5-22-20 2:30 p.m. KAWX.ORG
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State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague
May 22, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – In June the Senate Education Committee will hear a report on the effect that public schools have seen due to the recent widespread requests for waivers from education standards.
Almost every school district in Arkansas operates with some sort of waiver granted by the state. More than 1,000 public schools, in which 97 percent of the state’s students are enrolled, operate with some sort of waiver. They are in 229 of the 235 school districts in Arkansas.
The most common waiver allows districts flexibility in scheduling the opening day of the school year in August. In fact, all 229 districts with waivers have the waiver that allows flexible scheduling, which enables them to better align their first semester with winter break.
When legislators and consultants study the impact of waivers on public school standards, they will not include a study of flexible scheduling. It is so widespread that comparisons are impossible.
When you remove flexible scheduling waivers from the picture, in the current school year Arkansas has about 500 schools in 118 districts operating under a waiver of education standards.
The most common waivers release schools from state mandates regarding the licensing of teachers and library media specialists. Other common waivers allow schools flexibility in the area of teacher salaries, curriculum and class sizes. Also popular are waivers from state requirements setting the number of hours a student must complete in order to receive credit for taking a class.
The increase in the number of schools seeking waivers from education standards is directly related to the inception of charter schools in Arkansas.
In the 1990s, the legislature approved the creation of charter schools. So-called conversion charters, created by legislation in 1995, are operated by traditional school districts. Open-enrollment charter schools were created in 1999 and are run by non-profit organizations and universities.
When the state Board of Education approves their charters, they are granted certain waivers from statewide education standards. At the same time, however, charters are expected to use innovative strategies that improve educational opportunities, and many charters teach students who do not do well in traditional school settings.
Two recent laws have spurred the explosion in waivers sought by traditional public schools. Act 1240 of 2015 allowed a district to request waivers that are held by charters within that district’s borders. Act 815 of 2019 expanded that provision to allow public schools to seek any waivers that have been granted to any charter in Arkansas.
The Senate Education Committee analysis basically will focus on two areas. One areas is the impact, if any, that waivers have made on student performance. The other area is the financial effect waivers have made on districts that claim them.
Historically, state aid to school districts has been distributed without regard for any waivers that districts hold. That has been the case even though some waivers release schools from requirements that cost money and for which the state provides funding, such as limits on class sizes and requirements to offer a library media program.
The Senate Education Committee is studying data on waivers compiled by legislative staff and by a private consulting firm.
1. President Trump orders flags to fly at half-staff to honor CoronaVirus victims
"I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus," the President tweeted the evening of Thursday, May 22nd
*** Flags should be at Half-Staff Immediately for the Next Three Days per the President's Tweet.
2. Memorial Day United States Flag Display
Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service. In observance of Memorial Day, fly the United States flag at half staff from sunrise until NOON , and then raise it to full height from noon to sundown.
United States Flag Code
The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then slowly lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.
Click here to see the entire US Flag Code....
*** Flags should be at Half-Staff From Sunrise Until Noon on Monday, May 25th.
The Farmer's Market in Mena, located at the Historic KCS Depot on Sherwood Street in downtown Mena, will open for the season Saturday, May 23rd at 7:00 a.m.
The Farmer's Market will be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. until sold out.
The Mena School Board met on Tuesday, May 19th. The meeting began with the Superintendents Report. Mr. Benny Weston updated the board on the multiple phases the leadership team is working on for reentry & the beginning of the 2020/2021 school year. Assistant Superintendent Paulette Sherrer added that a needs assesment is underway in anticipation of the award from federal COVID-19 CARES Act monies.
Personnel was next on the agenda.
Amy Dollar - 6th grade social studies
Justin Goodnight - Mena High School Agri
Chelsea Johnson - 8th grade algebra
Susan McKeever - LDE Special Education paraproffesional
Dr. Lee Smith - Assistant Superintendent
Cheyenne Burdess - HHE
Lisa Falls - HHE LPN
Alicia Farringer - MMS Special Education self contained
Amy Martin - MMS
Chase McCormick - MMS Agri
Colby Singleton - Secondary MHS
Landon Dover - head sr. girls track
Tia Fryer - assistant jr. boys basketball
Ryan Luttmer - head jr. boys basketball & head jr. boys track
Brad Lyle - assistant sr. boys basketball
Heather Goss - head jr. girls track
All were approved unanimously.
The board then renewed the contract with Aramark Food Service & also renewed the agreement with Horizon Software.
The board accepted the Freedom of Choice Applications of 9 students.
Next was an update on the district's Five Year Plan to improve the FTE (Full-time equivalent). For the 20/21 school year the FTE has improved to 91.4% & is expected to jump to 95% once final calculations are made.
Finally financial reports were approved & the meeting adjourned.
5-19-20 9:03 p.m. KAWX.ORG
State, county and local offices will be closed on Monday, May 25, 2020, in observance of Memorial Day. All emergency services will be available as usual.
5-19-20 12:22 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Mena Police Department Reports for the Week of May 10, 2020 through May 16, 2020
May 10, 2020
Hayley Myers, 28, was arrested for Theft of Property (Shoplifting) at a department store.
May 11, 2020
Jason Rosson, 38, was arrested on warrant.
May 12, 2020
Joshua Smith, 28, was arrested for 3rd Degree Domestic Battery at a motel.
Rachel Tarkington, 22, was arrested for Driving on Suspended Driver’s License, Possession of Schedule 2 Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Schedule 6 Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop.
May 13, 2020
A report of breaking or entering and criminal mischief was taken at a residence.
A report of breaking or entering was taken at a residence.
May 14. 2020
Cody Creekmore, 22, was arrested for 3rd Degree Domestic Assault after a disturbance call to a residence.
Alex Scofield, 31, was arrested for Public Intoxication after a disturbance call to a laundry mat.
May 15, 2020
A Juvenile was arrested for Curfew Violation and Fleeing.
Charles Walker, 71, was arrested for Driving on a Suspended Driver’s License and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop.
Bobby May, 32, was arrested for Public Display of Obscenity after a call to a residence.
Robyn Jacobs, 64, was arrested for Criminal Trespass after a call to a department store.
May 16, 2020
No reports taken.
All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
5-19-20 8:52 a.m. KAWX.ORG
Little Rock, AR – In an effort to save as many Arkansas jobs as possible during the COVID-19 crisis, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her husband, Bryan Sanders, today launched the non-profit Arkansas 30 Day Fund to provide forgivable loans to struggling Arkansas-based small businesses.
The funds disbursed to small businesses by the Arkansas 30 Day Fund are intended to provide immediate financial assistance to meet payroll, preserve healthcare coverage for employees, and save jobs. The application process is quick, easy, and free of red tape. The loans do not need to be repaid. If businesses who receive the Fund’s assistance do, at a later date, wish to “pay it forward” to another Arkansas small business in need of assistance, they may do so by directing those dollars back to the Fund. The Fund will then disburse that funding to another Arkansas business in need.
Arkansas businesses that qualify for assistance from the Fund are:
• Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;
• Based in Arkansas and have been operating for at least one year;
• Owned and operated by an Arkansas resident.
Arkansas 30 Day Fund will begin accepting applications for forgivable loans today at: https://www.Arkansas30DayFund.com.
"My husband and I have been looking for ways to help people during this crisis and we are encouraged by the tremendous response we have received from Arkansans who want to partner with us in this effort. The Arkansas 30 Day Fund is nonpartisan, and we hope to work with people who may not agree with us on anything other than helping people in our community in need," said Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "It’s about Arkansans helping Arkansans, standing together in a time of crisis, and saving jobs."
According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, nearly half of small businesses don’t have enough cash to go more than a month, and more than half are waiting on government assistance.
"Our goal is to bridge that gap and help Arkansas small businesses save jobs now," Sanders said.
5-18-20 12:18 p.m. KAWX.ORG