KAWX News

Polk County Sheriff's Report for June 20TH - June 26TH

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of June 20, 2022 – June 26, 2022. 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.

 

June 20, 2022

Deputies responded to a complaint of a dog bite at a residence on E Boundary Road near Mena.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 32 near Cove in reference to a trespasser leading to the arrest of Windal Loyd, 41 of Mena on charges of Criminal Trespass, Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to a child custody dispute.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 34 near Hatfield in reference to a physical altercation. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

June 21, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Wright Lane near Hatfield in reference to a trespasser. This led to the arrest of Leon Jordan, Jr. on a Misdemeanor Warrant and a charge of Possession of Marijuana.

Windal Loyd, 41 of Mena was arrested by an officer with the Arkansas State Police on charges of Theft of Property, Criminal Trespassing and Disorderly Conduct.

 

June 22, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of terroristic threatening. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

June 23, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 659 near Board Camp in reference to a theft. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

June 24, 2022

Jason Lovett, 47 of Waldron was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Probation Violation.

A traffic stop on Hwy 71 South near Mena led to Jearl Wilkinson being issued a citation for Expired Tags and No Insurance. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

June 25, 2022

Rodney McQueen, 44 of Mena was arrested on a Body Attachment.

Michael Thompson, 40 of Mena was arrested on charges of Possession of Methamphetamine or Cocaine and Resisting Arrest as well as a Body Attachment.

 

June 26, 2022

Deputies located a runaway juvenile.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 1 vehicle accident this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 24 Incarcerated Inmates, with 8 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

PC22-0403

 

6-27-22 4:03 PM KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Reports for June 19th - June 25th

Mena Police Department reports for the week of June 19th through June 25th, 2022

 

All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

June 19

 

John Fagan, 54, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

Joseph Hale, 22, was served with a warrant at EZ Mart.

 

A report of harassment was taken at EZ Mart.

 

A report of found property was taken on Ransome Road. If you have lost a firearm, contact the Mena Police Department.

 

June 20

 

Ethan Donelson, 21, was charged with Driving on Suspended License, No Liability Insurance, No Vehicle License, and served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Mena Street.

 

June 21

 

A report of a disturbance was taken at a residence on 2nd Street.

 

David Fraser, 54, was charged with Disregard Stop Sign, Driving on Suspended License, No Liability Insurance, and served with seven warrants after a traffic stop on Ridge Avenue.

June 22

 

Brent Sockey, 27, was charged with Driving on Suspended License and served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

Clay Breeden, 43, was charged with Dog Running at Large after a call to 2nd Street.

 

A report of disorderly conduct and battery was taken from a walk-in complaint.

 

June 23

 

Bradley Brumfield, 32, was served with seven warrants on Bethesda Road.

 

Joy Reed, 34, was charged with Theft at Factory Connection.

 

A report of a vehicle striking a gas pipe on Edwards Street was reported and the gas company was notified.

 

June 24

 

A report of forgery was taken at James’ Food.

 

June 25

 

A report of theft was taken at Wal-Mart.

 

All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

6-27-22 10:23 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Detention Center Inmates

 

Flags to Half-Staff for Perry County Officer Jeremiah Story

Governor Asa Hutchinson has directed the United States flag and the state flag of Arkansas to fly at half-staff for Perry County corrections officer Jeremiah Story, who died in the line of duty on June 22, 2022.

Governor Hutchinson release the following statement:

 

"Perry County jailer Jeremiah Story was known for his cowboy hats & big heart. Late Wednesday, he was shot & killed at the Perry County jail. His death is a loss to Arkansas & my prayers go out to his family & coworkers. I've directed flags to be flown at half-staff until June 28."

 

Governor Hutchinson's proclamation can be viewed HERE.

 

6-24-22 10:10 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

 

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Clinic in favor of Dobbs, reversing Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey and sending the issue of abortion back to the states. This historic decision will have major ramifications across the country. Now, the fight for life begins in the states, as each legislature creates its own laws on abortion. Some states, including Arkansas, have “trigger” laws already on the books have gone into effect after the decision and after appropriate certification by the state Attorney General. Abortion in Arkansas is now illegal except in the case where the mother’s life is threatened. 

 

Thankfully, women who may have otherwise considered an abortion are not alone. Pro-life centers have already saved more than 800,000precious lives by meeting the physical, emotional, and material needs of women in difficult circumstances so they may feel confident in choosing life for their unborn child.

 

You may have seen in the news recently that crisis pregnancy centers across the country have been targeted and vandalized by the pro-abortion group "Jane's Revenge" and threatened by other radical leftist groups after the Supreme Court’s draft opinion was leaked. This violence is designed to promote fear in the staff, volunteers, and mothers who come to crisis pregnancy centers for medical care, referrals, food, baby supplies, education, counseling, and other essential services.  

 

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., “Jane’s Revenge” posted flyers warning of riots after the Supreme Court’s decision to return abortion law to the States, where it belongs. They call it a “night of rage.” I call it possible domestic terrorism. 

 

Domestic terrorism is defined by the FBI as politically or religiously motivated violence committed to further an ideological goal. That is why I sent a letter with more than 100 of my Republican colleagues demanding the Department of Justice investigate these attacks on innocent people in crisis pregnancy centers as domestic terrorism.

 

I also sent another letter this week to Attorney General Merrick Garland imploring him to immediately and aggressively stop the violence against pro-life Americans. The people who work in these pro-life organizations, and the women who come to them for help, are innocent and deserve the protection of law enforcement. The politically motivated threatening and attempted intimidation of crisis pregnancy centers must be prosecuted.

 

Today, life won, but the fight is really just beginning and the pro-life movement will not be intimidated or frightened. We will always stand for the rights of the unborn until abortion is not only illegal in all 50 states, but unconscionable.

 

6-24-22 7:37 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

If you are someone you know is caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, you may be interested in a new program launched this week.

The Arkansas Legislative Council recently approved the creation and funding for the Dementia Respite Care Pilot Program.

This program provides $500 respite grants to enable caregivers to take a break from caregiving.

It is estimated that more than 93,000 Arkansans are caring for a loved one with dementia.  Full-time caregiving can take an emotional and physical toll on anyone.  This program is designed to give those care-takers time to rest or just get out of the house to do routine activities many of us take for granted.

The program is the first of its kind in Arkansas. It was established by the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Advisory Council, which was created as a result of Act 391 in the 2021 Regular Session.

In addition to authorizing the Respite Program, the Council has worked to update Arkansas’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Disease State Plan.

Under the Respite Program, families can receive two grants during a calendar year (with at least six months between approved dates). To qualify, care recipients must live in Arkansas and have a primary or secondary diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Additionally, the diagnosis must state that the patient requires daily assistance.

Respite Program grants come from a $200,000 investment, funded through the Social Services Block Grant.

The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Respite Care Pilot Program is administered by the DHS Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance.

These grants are available now and interested parties can apply starting today.

To learn more about the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Respite Care Pilot Program and to apply for assistance, please visit www.ALZark.org/grants, email grants@ALZark.org, or call 501-224-0021, extension 210.

 

6-24-22 5:02 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Supporting our Teachers

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Supporting our Teachers
 
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas’s education system greatly depends on our ability to attract and retain teachers. We need to make sure the pay reflects the importance of their job and our respect for their role in shaping the lives of the next generation of leaders. When the pandemic impacted the world, our schools were heavily burdened. Education could not waiver even during a time when things felt so uncertain. Arkansas was one of the few states that kept schools open thanks to the amazing teachers in our state. In fact, Arkansas ranked #2 in the nation for days of in-classroom instruction during the pandemic. That puts us in front of Texas and Florida. And so, we must be able to provide for those who are willing to go on the frontlines for our children’s future.     Teacher pay has been one of my top priorities since running for Governor in 2014. Since then, we have increased the minimum teacher pay to align with many of our surrounding states.
In 2019, I signed the Teacher Enhancement Act that took our minimum pay of $31,400 and raised it to $36,000 annually by 2022. This increase was needed for our teachers, but it is not enough. Arkansas is still ranked 48th in the country for teacher starting pay even after that increase. 88% of our school districts start teachers below a salary of $40,000. We are 14th out of 16 states in our region for minimum starting salary, and we rank 13th out 16 for average salary. Nearly 70% of all our teachers are making below $40,000 a year.  Our goal should be to have 100% of our teachers making above $40,000. We know teachers are important, but we must show them why Arkansas is a place they’ll want to teach and live. For that reason, we must give our school districts more resources to recruit teachers. We have seen firsthand how providing the right resources can bring growth like we’ve seen with the Computer Science initiative.  In 2015, we started the initiative with fewer than 50 computer science teachers in Arkansas. By providing more resources and incentives, we now have more than 650 certified computer science teachers with more coming by the fall. We have gone from fewer than 1,000 students learning about computer science to more than 12,000 with that number increasing every year.  There is a reluctance by some in the General Assembly to raise teacher salary because of the concern over a future economic downturn. We currently have over $2 billion in state reserves and our surplus. I am confident in our future ability to fund these initiatives, but the General Assembly controls the purse strings of state government, and I respect their constitutional role. While we might not get it done this year I hope it remains a priority in the future.
 
6-24-22 4:47 p.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: Sharing the Story of Natural State Agriculture

Sharing the Story of Natural State Agriculture

Every five years, Congress sets out to write and pass a new farm bill, the cornerstone of our nation’s agriculture policy. It is a daunting undertaking. However, passing farm bills in this manner offers an opportunity to see what policies are working for our agricultural, nutrition and rural communities, and which ones need updates to better serve their needs.

 

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, on which I serve as the lead Republican, kicked off this process earlier this year holding a field hearing in Michigan, the home state of the committee’s chair.

 

Then it was Arkansas’s turn to shine. 

 

From the stage at Riceland Hall of the Fowler Center at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, 11 Arkansans shared the story of agriculture in The Natural State. Witnesses discussed commodity programs, safety nets and risk management. They talked about how to help rural communities and families, how to support wildlife habitat and conserve natural resources, why research at our universities is crucial to advancing agriculture, and ways to help those who struggle with food insecurity.

 

The testimony they shared with the committee, and their candid responses to questions we posed, will help inform our decisions and identify the issues we will consider as we write a new farm bill.

 

We are in an unprecedented time as we begin this undertaking. The pandemic, the war in Europe, historic and widespread inflation, and now serious concerns about a recession—it just feels different.

 

And yet many of the same challenges that come with each farm bill, such as balancing the different needs of each region of the country, remain true this time around.

 

I believe we have an opportunity in this farm bill to put in place the tools necessary to strengthen American agriculture for any situation we face in the future. If we do that, our farmers will continue to do what they have always done: provide the most abundant, lowest cost and safest food supply in the world.

 

I know Arkansas’s farmers and ranchers are ready to meet the challenge.

 

However as much as the farm bill is a safety net for those who supply our food, it’s also a safety net for rural America. For many of these communities, agriculture is all that is left. 

 

Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, adding around $21 billion to our economy every year and accounting for approximately one in every six jobs.

 

Yet, 53 of Arkansas’s 75 counties lost population in the last census, something that is far too common in rural counties throughout the United States. 

 

We all lose when rural America loses.

 

To stem this loss, we must ensure our farm families and rural residents have access to affordable electricity, high speed internet and safe drinking water. Those forms of infrastructure are essential services that, with proper investment, can measurably increase quality of life.

 

It is imperative for rural Arkansas’s future that we address these shortfalls in the next farm bill. Our rural communities depend on agriculture and agriculture depends on this critical infrastructure. If we keep that in mind, while continuing to ensure our producers have programs that offer strong support that meet the needs of all commodities, then we will have a farm bill that provides that safety net for both agriculture and rural America.

 

6-24-22 2:57 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

June 24, 2022

 

LITTLE ROCK – When people call the state hotline to report suspected child abuse or neglect, about 80 percent are assigned to the Division of Children and Family Services.

 

The other 20 percent are considered more serious, and are assigned to the State Police, which has a Division of Crimes Against Children.

 

The Division presented a report to the Senate Committee on Children and Youth about the most recent quarter. A total of 7,808 reports were received during the three-month period. Of those 1,531 were assigned to the State Police and 6,277 to the Division of Children and Family Services.

 

Of the reports assigned to DCFS, 24 percent were found to be true. Of those assigned to the State Police, 33 percent were found to be true.

 

The investigations concluded that 2,215 children were victims of substantiated allegations of maltreatment. Of those, 55 percent were girls.

 

The most common type of maltreatment was neglect. Investigators found that 70 percent of the substantiated cases reported to the hotline involved children who had been neglected. That is 1,549 children.

 

The second most common form of maltreatment was physical abuse; 20 percent of the substantiated cases, involving 445 children, were for physical abuse.

 

Investigators found 408 children who had been victims of sexual abuse. That was 18 percent of the substantiated cases. Of the remaining cases, 23 children were abandoned and 21 children were victims of sexual exploitation.

 

An individual child may have been the victim of more than one type of abuse or neglect. During the three-month period, investigators substantiated that four children were killed and another four children were nearly killed. One allegation of a child fatality that was reported to the hotline was determined to be unsubstantiated.

 

Of the cases that came through the hotline, the Division of Children and Family Services determined that 1,163 merited a differential response, which is an alternative to a criminal investigation. The most common findings in those cases were of environmental neglect. In 36 percent of the cases the child’s home lacked basic cleanliness and hygiene.

 

The second most common finding, in 30 percent of the cases, the child was inadequately supervised. The third most frequent finding, in 20 percent of cases, the child’s education was neglected. Fourth in frequency was that the child was not given enough to eat. Inadequate food was a reason for a differential response in 13 percent of the cases.

 

In six percent of the cases, the child lacked shelter. In five percent the child had been locked out of his or her home. In four percent the child was not provided medical attention. Also in four percent of cases, the child lacked sufficient clothing.

 

The Division opens a protective services case, or a supportive services case, when it substantiates an allegation of abuse or neglect. During the most recent quarter, case workers found that eight percent of the children in a protective services case were abused within a year after the case had been opened.

 

In supported services cases, three percent of the children were neglected or maltreated within the year after the case had opened.

 

The Division has 428 family services workers. Their average caseload in March was 23.3, which is down from 25.5 last October. The state’s goal is to bring it below 20.

 

6-24-22 2:51 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for June 13 - June 19

SHERIFF’S LOG

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of June 13, 2022 – June 19, 2022. 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.

 

June 13, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of a burglary at a residence on Polk 78 near Potter.

 

June 14, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of a gun being taken by a family member. Arrangements were made for the gun to be returned to the owner.

 

June 15, 2022

No reports were filed.

 

June 16, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of a scam.

Deputies responded to a theft of property.

Deputies responded to a two-vehicle accident on Hwy 246 E near Vandervoort. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Cord Olson, 36 of Mena was arrested on a Parole Hold Warrant.

 

June 17, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 68 near Cherry Hill in reference to a Verbal Domestic Dispute.

 

June 18, 2022

Santana Vaughn, 28 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Possession of Methamphetamine or Cocaine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in addition to a charge of Obstructing Governmental Operations.

Cody Thornton, 29 of Mena was arrested on 3 Misdemeanor Warrants for 3rd Degree Domestic Battery.

 

June 19, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 375 E near Mena in reference to a verbal dispute between neighbors. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 1 vehicle accident this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 18 Incarcerated Inmates, with 8 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC22-0380

 

6-20-22 12:05 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

 

To listen to the Polk County, AR Online Police and Fire Scanner on your PC, click anywhere on this line or on the police scanner below. To listen on your phone, download a free scanner app and select and save as a favorite Polk County, AR Police and Fire Scanner. Please listen responsibly! 

Mena Police Report for June 12th - 18th

Mena Police Department reports for the week of June 12th through June 18th, 2022

 

 

All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

June 12

 

A report of sexual indecency with a child was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

June 13

 

Justin Wikel, 37, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

Bradley Moss, 46, was served with two warrants after contact on Sherwood Avenue.

 

A report of breaking or entering and theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

A report of a discharge of a firearm was taken at a residence on 9th Street.

 

Larry Willis, 55, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

June 14

 

William Copelin, 27, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

June 15

 

A report of theft was taken at a residence on Sarah Way.

 

Gary Smith, 44, was served with six warrants at a residence on Morrow Street.

 

June 16

 

Tatum Veal, 31, was charged with Driving on a Suspended License and served with three warrants after a traffic stop on Eagle Gap.

 

A report of criminal mischief was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

June 17

 

A report of theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

A report of theft was taken from a person at an office on Pine Avenue.

 

A report of harassment was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

 

June 18

 

Christopher May, 36, was charged with Disorderly Conduct and obstructing Government Operations after a disturbance call on Sampson Avenue.

 

A report of fraudulent use of a credit card was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

6-20-22 10:43 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Detention Center Inmates 

 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

With more than 800,000 visitors a year, the Buffalo National River is one of the leading tourist destinations in Arkansas. 

 

This year, the Buffalo National River celebrates its 50th anniversary as a unit of the National Park Service.

 

Former Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt and former Senators J. William Fulbright and John L. McClellan introduced the first Buffalo National River park legislation in 1967. The final park legislation was introduced in 1971, and hearings were held in late 1971. In February 1972, Congress voted to establish the nation’s first “national river.”

 

President Richard M. Nixon signed the law to put the river under the protection of the National Park Service 100 years after the establishment of Yellowstone National Park, the first national park. 

 

It is one of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in the lower forty-eight states. It runs through NewtonSearcyMarion, and Baxter counties. 

 

The Buffalo National River is one of the state's and indeed the nation's premier rivers and is a source of scenic beauty, a unique habitat for local biota, and an agricultural resource to the state as a whole. It is essential that we preserve of this irreplaceable natural and cultural resource for future generations of Arkansans.

 

In the 2021 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed Act 785 which creates the Buffalo River Conservation Committee to establish measurable objectives and lead partnership projects to benefit water quality and resource management in the Buffalo River Watershed. 

 

The committee is tasked with conducting an annual review of the watershed and making recommendations for updates of the plan to the Governor.

 

We also passed Act 541 which creates the Buffalo River Community Development special license plate. Fees from the license plate benefit the development corporation.

 

If you’ve never floated the Buffalo River, this summer provides a perfect opportunity. The National Park Service is hosting 50th-anniversary celebratory events throughout the year. Visit nps.gov for more information.

 

6-17-22 4:35 p.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: Senate Delivers Help to Veterans Living with the Toxic Wounds of War

Senate Delivers Help to Veterans Living with the Toxic Wounds of War

 

I’ve been honored to serve on the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees to help craft policies fulfilling the promise we made to men and women who served in our nation’s uniform by expanding access to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care, benefits and services.

 

We’ve achieved major enhancements this year. Just weeks ago the president signed into law measures I championed to modernize the VA’s approach to breast cancer screening and treatment as well as increased accountability within the department. I’m pleased to build off this momentum with a comprehensive and bipartisan package the Senate recently passed to support veterans living with illnesses they experience as a result of burn pits and other toxic exposures during their military service.

 

The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 will deliver toxic-exposed veterans of all generations their earned VA health care and benefits.

 

Exposure to toxic substances like burn pits is known to cause serious illness including rare cancers and respiratory ailments. Those suffering deserve to know they have not been forgotten and their voices have been heard. The legislation honors the promise our nation made to the men and women who served in these dangerous conditions.

 

The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act fulfills that promise and delivers immediate access to health care for toxic-exposed veterans, directs the VA to evaluate diseases for presumption of service connection, and streamlines the process for toxic-exposed veterans seeking disability compensation for their illnesses without overwhelming the VA system.

 

With this measure, we also continue to correct past failures at the VA to provide health care and benefits to previous generations exposed to Agent Orange.

 

These challenges have existed for decades and it’s time we make good on our commitment to Vietnam War-era veterans once and for all.

 

This legislation updates VA policies to provide veterans like Bill Rhodes of Mena, Arkansas –– a Marine who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War-era –– access to the care he deserves.

 

I’ve been working with Mr. Rhodes for a number of years to educate my colleagues about the restrictions that have resulted in his claim being denied.

 

The VA accepts that herbicides were used along the perimeters of military bases in Thailand, but does not recognize the impact of the herbicides inside the perimeter. This current policy makes no sense and is unfair, preventing veterans like Mr. Rhodes from accessing benefits as a result of toxic exposure.

 

Importantly, once the bill becomes law it will eliminate the bureaucratic hurdles that have stood in the way of Mr. Rhodes and other veterans getting the care they earned.

 

In conversations with my office following Senate passage, Mr. Rhodes says he can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel after all the work he has put in to advance this measure. He has truly been a relentless advocate for veterans living with illnesses as a result of toxic exposure.

 

Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Rhodes, Veteran Service Organizations and families, the Senate passed this critical legislation and I am confident the House of Representatives will quickly take up this landmark bill and send it to the president’s desk to be signed into law to deliver the help our veterans deserve.

 

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

 

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

June 17, 2022

 

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas School Safety Commission has been set up again to update measures to protect students while they are in school.

 

The governor issued an executive order to reinstate the commission in the wake of the mass murder of 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. The commission was originally created in 2018 after the mass murder of 17 people at a school in Lakeland, Florida.

 

The newly created commission will review how thoroughly Arkansas schools have enacted its original set of recommendations, and will set forth new ideas based on more recent research.

 

In its original report of 124 pages the commission issued 30 recommendations, many of which have been put in place. For example, 20 percent of Arkansas school districts now have an armed officer on every campus during the school day, and 84 percent of districts have an armed officer on at least one campus.

 

Some districts hire private security guards and some rely on staff who have been trained how to use firearms.  There are 460 school resource officers in 223 districts whose job is security.

 

Also, 45 percent of Arkansas school districts have implemented a system in which people can anonymously report suspicious behavior, and 28 percent have a team of staff trained in behavioral assessment.

 

The state commission reviewed the findings of two reports by the federal Secret Service.

 

The first, issued in 2019, concluded that the killers in 41 school shootings did not share the same clear psychological profile, although most of them shared some similar circumstances. Most of them had been victims of bullying, most had a history of being disciplined at school and most had experienced troubles in their home life.

 

The second report, issued in 2021, analyzed 67 instances when authorities were able to prevent a planned attack on a school. In those cases, school staff and teachers spotted warning signs in emotionally disturbed teenagers and intervened.

 

The commission’s recommendations, and legislation enacted in 2019 and 2021, have resulted in more training of school counselors in mental health awareness.

 

School officials and local police forces are working to streamline communications, so that response times are faster during an emergency.

 

The Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute offers training for school resource officers, whose duties combine law enforcement with teaching, mentoring and counseling. The Institute also has a course in behavioral threat assessment in cases in which a school is the threatened target.

 

Unlike most other state task forces and commissions, the School Safety Commission is on a tight deadline. Its first report will be delivered by August 1 and its final report is due by October 1.

 

During the meeting of the newly formed commission, members brought up the Westside Middle School shooting of March, 1998, when two boys, of 11 and 13 years of age, shot and killed a teacher and four students.

 

They had set up in a field next to the school, about two miles west of Jonesboro. The younger boy pulled a fire alarm. As students and teacher evacuated the building, the boys fired upon them. In addition to the five people killed, 10 others were injured.

 

6-17-22 3:18 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Strengthening Arkansas's Relationship with Israel

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Strengthening Arkansas’s Relationship with Israel
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Israel Innovation Authority this week, and today I’d like to talk about what this means to Arkansas.
 
On Tuesday, my economic development team gathered with Dr. Ami Appelbaum, Chairman of the Innovation Authority, and Livia Link, Consul General of Israel. We gathered at the Melrose Hotel in Washington for the signing ceremony.
 
Dr. Appelbaum and I signed copies of the agreement in English and in Hebrew.
 
This agreement affirms the mutual interest of Arkansas and Israel to share ideas and to work together to produce technology that will benefit our nations and the world.
 
In the official language of the MOU, the purpose of this agreement is to promote activities to foster mutual cooperation in the innovation and development of technology.
 
I met Dr. Appelbaum last year when I was in Israel for the Prime Minister’s Smart Mobility Summit. This MOU is a logical next step to strengthen our robust relationship with one of the United States’ most important allies. It affirms the deep friendship and mutual respect between Arkansas and Israel.
 
Our relationship with the Jewish community dates to 1823 when businessman Abraham Block and his family were the first Jewish family to take up residence in Arkansas. Mr. Block and his sons opened businesses in four Arkansas counties, in New Orleans, and in Texas. The Blocks’ home in Washington is a museum in Historic Washington State Park.
 
I have had the privilege of expressing our support of Israel by signing bills that allow Arkansas to invest in Israel bonds and that prohibit state and local governments from conducting business with companies that boycott Israel.
 
As Israel’s ambassador said at the bill signing that day in August 2017, we were sending a message that Arkansas stands against hate and against anti-Semitism, and that Arkansas stands with Israel.
 
This agreement is a natural progression of our relationship with Israel.
 
My friendships within the Arkansas Jewish community have led to many personally enriching opportunities, such as participating in the annual Menorah lighting ceremony in Little Rock. I was equally enriched by the brief time we spent with our friends from Israel on Tuesday.
 
As I prepared to sign the Hebrew version of the MOU, I suggested that I was going to use my Hebrew name, which brought some laughter. The joke, of course, is that Asa is a Hebrew name.
 
Now that we have signed the MOU, we will explore what’s next in this mutually beneficial partnership between two leaders in innovation and technology as we embark on the next stage of our long relationship.
 
6-17-22 1:55 p.m. KAWX.ORG
 

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

More Government Will Not Solve the Food Crisis

 

Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’” Americans across the country are hurting, faced with unprecedented gas prices and a global food crisis. Farmers and producers are struggling to combat the growing food shortage as supply chains remained strained and input costs continue to skyrocket. Diesel costs are up 115%, natural gas is up 202%, and fertilizer is up 125% from January 2021.

 

Contrary to what my friends across the aisle might think, the answer to every problem is not always to impose the weight of the government. Congressional Democrats’ misguided solution to lower food costs by increasing regulations and taxes for farmers will only make the crisis worse.

 

I hear often from Arkansas farmers and producers who tell me they need Congress and the Administration to cut the red tape that holds back American agricultural production. That is why I sent a letter with my Republican colleagues to President Biden asking him to cut back on costly, useless regulation, expand the definition of critical minerals to include those needed to create fertilizer, and increase domestic energy production.

 

I also co-sponsored the Reducing Farm Input Costs and Barriers to Domestic Production Act to reverse the more harmful regulatory burdens, address farm input costs, and provide certainty for American farmers and producers. Rather than attacking private industry, we will give American farmers the tools they need to provide immediate relief to families here in the United States and abroad.

 

We can’t continue to throw money at the problem instead of addressing the underlying issues of the upcoming food shortage. My colleagues and I have developed commonsense, near-term solutions that would empower American farmers and agricultural producers. Until we unleash the power of American resources, prices will continue to climb, and that is unacceptable when we hold the keys to a solution.

 

I will always stand up for Arkansas’ farmers, producers, foresters, small businesses, and hardworking families to ensure government does not get in the way of their success. I encourage my friends across the aisle to join me in meaningfully combatting the growing global food crisis and empowering our American farmers and producers.

 

6-17-22 1:45 p.m. KAWX.ORG

June Mena School Board Meeting Recap

The Mena School Board held their regular June meeting on Tuesday evening, June 14th, at the District Administration Building.

 

The meeting began with a brief Superintendent’s report from Dr. Lee Smith. He stated that work on a new Mission and Vision Statement had been completed for the district. This effort has been a lengthy process with input from patrons as well as classified and certified personnel. The document reflects the core values of the district and direction for the future. Smith also asked that the adoption of the statement be added to the night’s agenda.

 

Dr. Smith was also happy to report that the Mena Public Schools had been awarded a $65,000.00 grant for tier one mathematics. The grant will be used to update curriculum and insure improvements across the math program.

 

Next was the appointment of a board member to the zone 4 seat. No one filed for the seat in the recent school board election. Clint Montgomery resides in zone 4 and expressed a desire to remain on the board. After a brief discussion, the action was approved.

 

It was at this point that the new Mission and Vision Statement was added to the agenda. It was quickly adopted and approved by the board. It will be released to the public in the very near future.

 

The board then approved the hiring of an additional school security officer for the 2022/2023 school year. School security is always at the forefront and even more so in light of recent events across the country. Dr. Smith stated that safety will be an even bigger focus when the school year begins.

 

Next on the agenda was the transfer of funds in compliance with ACT 1105 of 2017. Each year at this time the district is required to transfer excess revenue over 20% of the budget to the building fund. That transfer was approved.

 

Assistant Superintendent Bridget Buckley then addressed the board concerning policy updates to the policies of the Arkansas School Board Association and the 2022 Fiscal Session. Most were minor changes in wording. One change of note was the moving of the  deadline for the annual report to the public. It must now be completed and be available for public view by August 1st. The previous deadline had been October 1st. 

 

District Maintenance Supervisor Danny Minton shared a facilities update.  He began by asking the board to approve a bid for repair and replacement of 61 toilets at Mena High School. The low bid by L&M Plumbing of Mena at just over $15,000.00 was approved.

 

Minton then asked the board’s approval on bids for a project to replace locks and latches on the doors at Mena Middle School. Two bids were received and the board approved the low bid of $25,169.00 by the Wesche Co. of Springdale. These had become problematic and with an emphasis on security in the coming year it was important that the issue be addressed.  

 

Mr. Minton also said that he expects the new turf project at Bob Carver Bearcat Stadium to be completed by this Friday. Dirt work will begin immediately after, followed by an extensive paving project that will keep the stadium and track closed to the public for several more weeks.

 

Work continues on the traditional summer projects and several options are also under consideration to fix the drainage issues below the home stands at BCBS.

 

The board then approved the renewal of the building and property insurance for 2022/2023. The district had a 2% increase in coverage and a premium increase of $18,833.00.

 

Next the board approved the switch from AR Live to Bollinger and Co. for supplemental student accident insurance for 2022/2023. That premium was actually $5,600 less than last year at $28,202.00.

 

The board then approved the financial reports and Dr. Smith said that revenue continues to outpace expenses and the district remains on target and on budget.

 

Personnel was next on the agenda and there were a good number of changes.

 

Retirement

Sherry Wood- LPN MMS

 

Resignation

Ashley Stipe- Para MMS

Lisa Standridge- Teacher HHE

 

One Month Contract

Curtis Black- Principal LDE

 

Restructure

Max Hartwig – Bus Driver from D route to A route

Andrea Blair- MHS SPED self-contained to HHE Resource Classroom

Wanalynn Alexander – From MMS Resource to MHS self-contained

Susan Tyler – MHS Resource to MMS Resource

Samantha Breedlove – MHS Literacy to MHS Resource

Heather Catlett – From MHS Social Studies to MHS JAG on a 210 day contract

Deedra Hooker – From MHS English to MHS Social Studies

 

Hire

Mona Davis – Bus Driver – A.M. only C route

Rebecca Sprague – Bus Driver C route

Debra Gagnon – Bus Driver D route

David Chaney – MMS Band Director

Kristin Albin – MHS English

Holly Weiser – MHS Science

Maranda Cash – MHS English

Abigail Denton – MMS SPED Self Contained

 

Finally, all board members were reappointed to the same committees that they had been a part of in 2021 and new officers were elected.

 

President – Kyle Cannon

Vice President – Susan Rowell

Secretary – Robert Hines.

 

6-15-22 4:12 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for May 30 - June 12

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of May 30, 2022 – June 12, 2022. 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 30, 2022

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to a dispute.

 

May 31, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of a stolen vehicle from a residence on Highway 88 E near Mena.

Deputies took a report of a person being threatened. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a residence on Polk 13 near Wickes in reference to a scam.

 

June 1, 2022

Deputies took a report of a missing person. The subject was later located.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to harassment.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Tims Lane near Hatfield in reference to an unruly juvenile.

 

June 2, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of a structure fire at a residence on Polk 41 South near Potter.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to a violation of a no contact order. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

June 3, 2022

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to Financial Identity Fraud.

A traffic stop led to the arrest of Santana Vaughn, 28 of Mena on a Body Attachment. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Kathleen Parker, 36 of Hatfield was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Probation Violation.

Deputies responded to an altercation in the jail. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

June 4, 2022

Ethan Davis, 31 of Hatfield was arrested on a Body Attachment, a Misdemeanor Failure to Appear Warrant and a charge of 3rd Degree Battery.

 

June 5, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to an accident at a location on Hwy 246 leading to the arrest of Thomas Chesser, 57 of Green Springs, Ohio on charges of DWI, Refusal to Submit and Careless and Prohibited Driving.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 70 near Cherry Hill in reference to a verbal argument.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 1 vehicle accident this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 18 Incarcerated Inmates, with 8 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

June 6, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Creekview Lane near Vandervoort in reference to a house fire.

Deputies responded to the report of a theft from an area near a trail near Little Missouri Falls.

Deputies responded to an altercation at a residence near Cove. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further Consideration.

Deputies responded to an incident in the jail. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

June 7, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of vandalism at a residence on Polk 70 near Cherry Hill. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

June 8, 2022

No reports were filed.

 

June 9, 2022

Deputies responded to an altercation at a residence on Polk 284 near Hatfield leading to the arrest of Trae Clouse, 30 of Hatfield on a charge of 3rd Degree Battery.

 

June 10, 2022

Shawn Lenik, 43 of Hackett was arrested on a hold for another agency, a parole hold, Fleeing in a Vehicle, and Driving on a Suspended License.

 

June 11, 2022

Adelle Hill, 34 of Mena was arrested on a charge of DWI.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to an assault. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

June 12, 2022

Larry Willis, 55 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Rape, a Felony Warrant for 2nd Degree Sexual Assault and a Felony Warrant for Theft of Property.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 2 vehicle accidents this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 21 Incarcerated Inmates, with 8 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

PC22-0380

 

6-13-22 4:59 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

To listen to the Polk County, AR Online Police and Fire Scanner on your PC, click anywhere on this line or on the police scanner below. To listen on your phone, downlod a free scanner app and select and save as a favorite Polk County, AR Police and Fire Scanner. Please listen responsibly! 

Mena Police Report for June 5th - 11th

Mena Police Department reports for the week of June 5th through June 11th, 2022

 

All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

 

June 5

Andrew White, 19, was charged with Possession of Marijuana after contact on Pine Avenue.

 

A report of harassment and criminal mischief was taken at Rebecca Apartments.

 

Mary Johnson, 50, was charged with Theft at Walmart.

 

June 6

Kenneth Sipe, 44, was served with a warrant at Executive Inn.

 

A report of harassment was taken at a law office on Mena Street.

 

Brandon Rose, 24, was served with a warrant and Chelsea Roba, 26, was served with seven warrants after a traffic stop on Sherwood Avenue.

 

A report of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of meth and tampering with evidence was taken at Murphy USA.

 

June 7

Abigail Rollins, 25, was charged with Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest at a residence on Mena Street.

 

June 8

Charles Morgan, 45, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

June 9

David Vaught, 41, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Janssen Avenue.

 

June 10

A report or harassment was taken at the Mena Police Department.

 

Jacob Rowe, 24, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Hwy 71.

 

A report of theft of firearms was taken at a residence on Jolie Way.

 

June 11

Adelle Hill, 34, was charged with DWI after a traffic stop on Sutherland Ave.

 

All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

6-13-22 9:15 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Detention Center Inmates 

OLT Announces Cast for "Monty Python's "Edukational Show"

OLT Announces Cast for “Monty Python’s "Edukational Show”

 

Director Jered Biard announces the cast of Ouachita Little Theatre’s OLT hilarious summer musical comedy show. These young performers are all students within 8th grade through college undergraduate ages, for whom the show was written by accredited Monty Python representatives.

 

The cast includes April Burt (also piano accompaniment), Hayden Copelin, Ari Davison, Emma Ferguson, Richard Gilbert (also guitarist), Grey Goforth, Jordann Kenyon, Jacob Kenyon-Ortiz, Ann Loyd, Anthony Neumann, and Jonah Rogan.

 

Each actor has been asked to play a variety of roles. For those who are not familiar with the comic genre of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, it should be noted that some content may contain “rude humor” that might not be appreciated by some young or sensitive audience members. Therefore, discretion is advised by OLT. However, Monty Python fans of all ages will be delighted to see filmed footage of the actual Flying Circus skits woven into the live action and musical numbers performed onstage by our young players.

 

Tickets are $10 for all seats and are now available for purchase online or at the OLT office during regular office hours. Show dates are July 29-31 and August 5-7. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 PM and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 PM.

 

6-10-22 7:20 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Arkansas Boys and Girls State

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Arkansas Boys and Girls State
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – Hundreds of high school students explored the halls of the Arkansas Capitol last week during the annual exercise in government known as Girls State and Boys State. The week-long programs, which are sponsored by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary, offer rising seniors the chance to form a government, run for office, and write and vote on legislation. At the end of the week, the students visit the Arkansas Capitol, where they conduct the business of state government in the place where it really happens. During Boys State and Girls State, the students ran intense campaigns for office, negotiated and passed laws, and held a press conference to announce an economic development project. On Thursday and Friday, in keeping with tradition, I vacated my office for the newly elected governors. This year, I lent my chair to Trinity Foster from Crossett as Girls State Governor and Pablo Velasco-Moya from Brinkley as Boys State Governor. Let me assure you, they represent their community and state very well. And Pablo Velasco-Moya is the first Latino elected as Boys State Governor. Arkansas Boys State began in 1940, and Girls State in 1942. The early days of the program were practically a boot camp. Boys and girls alike slept on cots in unairconditioned four-person huts at Camp Robinson. Bryan Rogers, who was elected Boys State president pro tem of the Senate in 1972, described the experience like this: “We marched like soldiers everywhere we went. We were up at 6 a.m. to salute the flag and do calisthenics. We ate in a mess hall.” For 81 and 79 years respectively, the programs have produced leaders in business, education, and politics. Some already showed promise as teenagers. Mr. Rogers recalls that Mike Huckabee “was already a polished and charismatic public speaker when he won Boys State Governor in a landslide.” Bill Clinton is another alumnus whose week at Boys State played a significant role in his career. The year he attended, his friend from Hope, Mac McLarty, was elected governor. Mr. McLarty later served at the White House with President Clinton. Mr. Clinton was elected Boys State senator, which qualified him to participate in Boys Nation in Washington, D.C. That is where the president-to-be met President John Kennedy at the White House, and the photograph of that meeting became famous as President Clinton rose to national prominence. Other Boys State alumni include four-star General Wesley Clark, and state legislators Eddie Armstrong, Jonathan Barnett, Shane Broadway, and Joe T. Ford; House of Representatives Parliamentarian Tim Massanelli; Jack Watson, who served in President Carter’s administration; and U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton. Both major party nominees for governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Chris Jones, were delegates for Girls and Boys State.
 
Len Cotton, a cattle farmer and a member of the 1962 class, is one of five commissioners who oversee Boys State. He usually speaks on the opening night of Boys State. “I always tell them, ‘You’re going to meet people who are going to become elected officials. Or you could see a Bill Clinton.’” Congratulations Girls State and Boys State's Class of 2022. You’ve got a great tradition at your back as you choose your path in life. 
 
6-10-22 7:11 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Governor Hutchinson Announces Reinstatement of Arkansas School Safety Commission

LITTLE ROCK – With the increased concern about school safety in the wake of recent events around the nation, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced today that he has issued an executive order to reinstate the Arkansas School Safety Commission.
“The recent violence in Texas was a stark reminder that the work of securing our schools is never done,” Governor Hutchinson said. “That is why I am calling the Arkansas School Safety Commission back into service. Members of the commission, which I created in 2018, submitted thirty significant recommendations in their original 124-page report. School districts around the state have implemented many of the recommendations.
“But it is crucial that we constantly assess the security of our schools and keep abreast of the best ways to ensure our children and educators are safe. The original commission built a solid foundation on which to continue this vital work.”
Members of the commission will review the final report from the Commission in 2018. They will update the analysis of the safety of K-12 schools throughout the state taking into consideration the physical and mental health of students. The Commission will identify any new recommendations of best practices in school safety that have developed since 2018.
The School Safety Commission’s first meeting will be Tuesday, June 14, at the state capitol, and the initial report is due to Governor Hutchinson on August 1, 2022.
The commission will include a representative from the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management (ADEM), the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), and the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA).
The commission also will include the director of the CJI, a county sheriff, a public school superintendent, a public school teacher, a public school counselor, and a former federal law enforcement officer.
Members of the commission are as follows:
  • Dr. Cheryl May – Chair Director, Criminal Justice Institute University of Arkansas System  
  • Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge Arkansas Attorney General, or her designee  
  • A.J. Gary Director, Division of Emergency Management Arkansas Department of Public Safety  
  • Dr. David Hopkins Superintendent, Clarksville School District  
  • Donna Wilchie  School Counselor, Conway School District  
  • Tim Cain Director, Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation Arkansas Department of Education  
  • Crystal Braswell Office of Coordinated Support and Services, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Arkansas Department of Education  
  • Tim Helder Sheriff, Washington County  
  • Bill Temple Retired Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation  
  • Dr. Laura Dunn Director, UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute  
  • Secretary Jami Cook Director, Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy Secretary, Arkansas Department of Public Safety  
  • John Allison  Teacher, Vilonia High School  
  • Marvin Burton Principal, Little Rock School District  
  • Chris Chapmond Chief, Hot Springs Police Department President, Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police  
  • Patricia Gann Deputy Director, Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services Arkansas Department of Human Services  
  • Bill Gossage Deputy Chief of Staff, External Operations, Governor’s Office  
  • Linda Graham School Psychologist, Nettleton School District  
  • Dr. Mike Hernandez Executive Director, Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators  
  • Bill Hollenbeck Chief of Police, Fort Smith Public Schools  
  • Ricky Hopkins Parent, Prescott School District  
  • Tom Jenkins Chief, Rogers Fire Department  
  • Lori Poston Vice President of Clinical Services, Northeast Region, Arisa Health   
  • Courtney Salas-Ford Chief Legal Counsel, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Arkansas Department of Education  
  • Paula Stone Assistant Director, Children’s Services, Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services Arkansas Department of Human Services

6-10-22 7:04 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

This week, officials from the Arkansas Center for School Safety (ACSS) provided members of the House and Senate Education Committees with an update on school safety measures taken in recent years. 

In 2018, the Governor created the Safe Schools Commission to assess the state of school security in Arkansas.

That commission gave the General Assembly a list of 30 recommendations. The General Assembly has passed several pieces of legislation in recent years based on those recommendations.

One of the recommendations stated that all school districts should provide access to training in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) for all personnel who interact with students.

In 2021, we passed Act 620 and 648. These identical acts require all school counselors to complete YMHFA training every four years. In addition, we passed Act 551 and 622. These acts requires all school resource officers to complete YMHFA training every 4 years.

To date ACSS staff has trained 611 SROs and school counselors.

Another recommendation by the commission stated that the Arkansas Department of Education should review roles and responsibilities of school counselors to provide increased time with students for counseling and social-emotional learning.

In 2019, the General Assembly acted on that recommendation by passing Act 190. This act requires school counselors to spend 90% of time with students.

The commission also recommended that the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training should study the feasibility of school districts being allowed to establish their own law enforcement agencies. As a result, the General Assembly passed Act 629 in 2019. This allowed school districts to form their own law enforcement agency. To date 16 school districts have been approved to do so.

Dr. Cheryl May with the Criminal Justice Institute serves as the chair for the School Safety Commission. She told members this week that there is more work to be done including improving our anonymous reporting system and strengthening physical security at access points on school campuses.

We will be reviewing the recommendations and will update you on developments. You watch all Education Committee meeting at www.arkansashouse.org.

 

6-10-22 7:00 p.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: Celebrating Arkansas Statehood and Longevity

Celebrating Arkansas Statehood and Longevity

 

The American flag has featured 50 stars since 1959, when Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union. That means over six decades have passed since the United States last expanded, which was well after Arkansas was admitted as the 25th state.

 

In fact, June 15 marks 186 years since The Natural State achieved statehood. Events during the nearly-two centuries since have profoundly shaped and influenced the history, culture and direction of our state. This week, as we celebrate the anniversary of this occasion, we have an opportunity to look back on how Arkansas’s story has unfolded and to renew our hope in the promise of an even brighter future.

 

From the Quapaw tribe of Native Americans who inhabited the land when French and Spanish explorers discovered it – giving rise to the name Arkansas first as a reference to the indigenous residents and then to the territory itself – to the citizens who reside here today, we all understand how majestic this place is and why it’s so special.

 

That also partly helps explain the nicknames Arkansas has acquired over time, including The Wonder State, The Land of Opportunity and now The Natural State.

 

There’s a clear and deep appreciation for the inherently beautiful geographical array it showcases. Over time, that reality has helped draw visitors from across the country and throughout the world to experience and appreciate what the state legislature formally described as the “unsurpassed scenery, clear lakes, free-flowing streams, magnificent rivers, meandering bayous, delta bottomlands, forested mountains and abundant fish and wildlife” readily found here.

 

But it’s not just the land and natural resources that help set it apart. We know the people and communities here are equally integral features within Arkansas’s story.

 

Like most other states, this land was once a frontier that presented promise and risk to settlers looking for a new start. That gave rise to a flourishing society which spread out to every corner of modern-day Arkansas. The demographics and population centers continue to change, but Arkansans stay true to our unique legacy and the wonderful traditions that bring families, friends and neighbors together.

 

Folklore like the Arkansas Traveler and community celebrations like the Pink Tomato Festival in Bradley County or the Gillett Coon Supper demonstrate a shared sense of identity that unites us and invites people to be part of something bigger than themselves.

 

These events, and the towns and cities that host them, are proud of the rich heritage they represent.

 

The state is not the only entity marking a milestone this year. The communities of Lonoke, Judsonia and Brinkley all turn 150, while Joiner and Smackover mark their centennials in 2022.

 

There’s never a shortage of opportunities to celebrate Arkansas and what sets it apart. The 186 years that have elapsed since it became a state are a testament to the resilience of our people and the institutions we have built. No natural disaster or man-made crisis has yet been able to conquer our spirit or bring us so low as to prevent us from getting back up.

 

As we look to the future, I am confident we will continue pursuing pathways that help future generations of Arkansans thrive while uplifting our state on many fronts. We have a track record of doing just that by bridging gaps, finding common ground and putting our motto into action – Regnat Populus, “the people rule.”

 

This state and its people do not quit, and that won’t change when we’re marking the next anniversary or exciting landmark moment.

 

6-10-22 6:57 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

LITTLE ROCK – The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was especially hard for child care centers, so the Arkansas Department of Human Services is administering about $286 million to help them cover expenses and remain in business.

 

So far, about $110 million of the relief funding has been sent to child care providers, according to the department’s Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education.

 

The relief funds go to providers that were licensed on or before March 11, 2021.

 

In addition to helping centers cover expenses related to the pandemic, they are being used also to expand and improve child care. The Division director said that the funds should help them emerge from the pandemic stronger than they were before.

 

Some centers have used their grants to build new playgrounds, storm shelters and fencing. Grants may be spent on mortgage payments and utilities. Others have used grants to pay staff and update computer systems. Others have installed new flooring and added classroom space.

 

One purpose of the federal relief program is to eliminate gaps in the availability of child care in some parts of the state. A particular area may lack available care for toddlers and infants, or after school care. Existing child care providers that were licensed on March 11 of last year are encouraged to take advantage of grants to expand their range of services.

 

The Human Services Department administers the program, which is paid for with federal funding through the American Rescue Plan.

 

It is just one of several ways the state helps make child care available. Low-income families may qualify for financial assistance to help pay for child care. The level of benefits is based on a sliding scale, depending on your income.

 

People who work 30 hours a week, or attend school full time, may apply. If you are turned down, someone at your local DHS office can inform you why you did not qualify, and they can inform you about other programs that may be available to you, such as food stamps, transitional employment assistance, Head Start and Arkansas Better Chance.

 

Child care has become extremely important in recent decades, because two-thirds of all children under five now live in homes where both parents work. In Arkansas, mothers make up 45 percent of the breadwinners in families, so staying home is not an option.

 

The average annual cost of placing an infant in child care centers is $7,500 a year in Arkansas.

 

In Arkansas there are slots for 171,845 children in child care centers. In after school programs there are 26,297 slots.

 

On average, breakdowns in the availability of child care force parents to miss work between one and four days every six months. This not only has a negative financial effect on the parents, but also on the overall productivity of the national economy. When child care is affordable and readily available, parents can focus on improving their job skills and their productivity.

 

Most parents have to return to the work force by the time their newborn baby is four months old. High quality child care gives kids a solid foundation in math, literacy and social skills so that they are prepared for kindergarten and elementary school.

 

6-10-22 KAWX.ORG

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

Bring Security Back to Education

 

Our country was horrified by the evil acts perpetrated in Uvalde, TX, that stole the lives of 19 children and two adults. Americans are rightfully asking the question, “what can we do to ensure this does not happen again?” Parents should never be afraid of sending their children to school, and we must find a way to bring security back to education.

 

Unfortunately, the solutions put forth by Congressional Democrats are not solutions at all, but a band aid designed to capitalize on tragedy and promote their agenda to limit the Second Amendment for law abiding citizens. Republicans have concerns with Democrats proposed measures. For example, the red flag law voted on this week in Congress would strip Americans of their right to due process by assuming an accused individual’s guilt and stripping him of his right to a firearm before he is allowed to defend himself in court. Guilty before proven innocent is the antithesis of a fair judicial process.

 

Trampling on Constitutional rights and instituting a one-size-fits-all solution won’t solve problems, and it won’t make schools safer. That is why I joined Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-8) in introducing the STOP II, Secure Every School and Protect our Nation’s Children Act. STOP II redirects $7 billion in unused COVID-19 funds to provide mental health guidance counselors, increase the number of school resource officers, and strengthen school security. In addition, STOP II closes loopholes in school security protocols by allowing schools to apply for grants to complete risk assessments and identify gaps in mental health services for students. It also permanently creates a centralized program within the Department of Homeland Security to assess, identify, and share best practices related to school safety. To improve emergency preparedness, STOP II requires federal agencies to continuously update, develop, and provide training materials on bullying and cyberbullying, emergency planning, mental health, and targeted violence to help schools prevent, protect, mitigate, respond to, and recover from a range of school safety threats, hazards, and emergency situations.

 

I agree with Americans who see the need for change to address school safety, but we must create laws that will make a difference, instead of an emotional, knee-jerk reaction that could do more harm than good. Through this bill, we will empower communities to devote resources to the areas where they see need, instead of imposing the weight of the federal government on law abiding citizens who would never engage in violence. I hope my Democrat colleagues will focus Congress’ efforts on school safety instead of on sabotaging Constitutional rights.

 

6-10-22 12:21 p.m. KAWX.ORG