KAWX News Archives for 2021-03

Mena Police Report for March 21st - 27th

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of March 21st through March 27th, 2021

 

 

March 21

 

A suspicious person report was taken at Walmart.

 

A littering report was taken at Salvation Army.

 

Garrett Puerto, 25, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

Christopher Huddleston, 42, was served with a warrant at Lime Tree Inn.

 

Eddie Clovis, 36, was charged with Possession of Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Disorderly Conduct, Criminal Trespass, and Public Intoxication after a suspicious person complaint on 3rd Street.

 

James Smith, 52, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

March 22

 

Bradley Verba, 22, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Morrow Street.

 

March 23

 

Randell Burkett, 28, was charged with Possession of Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Driving on a Suspended License after a traffic stop on Mena Street.

 

A report of a disturbance was taken on Miller Street.

 

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

 

Herbert Slater, 35, was served with a warrant after a suspicious person complaint at the Southside General Store.

 

A report of found property was taken from a walk-in complainant. Contact the police department if you are missing a bank bag containing money.

 

March 24

 

Darrin Cannon, 52, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

March 25

 

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

 

March 26

 

A report of a missing person was taken on Miller Avenue.

 

A report of criminal mischief was taken on Polk Street.

 

A theft report was taken from a person at Bunch’s Laundromat.

 

March 27

 

Dakota Bullard, 21, was charged with 3rd Degree Assault on a Family Member, Obstruction of Government Operations, and Terroristic Threatening after a disturbance call to a residence on Dallas Avenue.

 

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

 

3-29-21 1:20 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Report for March 22nd - 28th

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of March 22, 2021 – March 28, 2021. 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.

 

March 22, 2021

Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Hatfield of trespassing. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report from complainant on Dogwood Springs Lane near Acorn of an incident with an unknown individual.

 

March 23, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 168 near Hatfield of a domestic assault. Deputies responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report from complainant on Race Lane near Acorn of issues with an acquaintance. Deputy responded.

 

March 24, 2021

No reports filed.

 

March 25, 2021

Report of a disturbance on School Street near Cove led to the arrest of Patricia Brown, 27, of Hatfield, on Charges of Disorderly Conduct, Public Intoxication, and Criminal Trespass.

 

March 26, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 14 near Wickes of a fraudulent account being opened. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 18 near Vandervoort of a stolen vehicle license plate. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Shane Hogan, 31, of Little Rock, Arkansas, on a Warrant for Delivery of Meth or Cocaine and Delivery of a Schedule I or Schedule II Controlled Substance.

 

March 27, 2021

Report from complainant on Golden Lane near Mena of being bitten by a dog. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 41S near Potter of a telephone scam. Deputy responded.

Report of the violation of an Order of Protection. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report of a disturbance on Hwy 71S near Cove led to the arrest of Patricia Brown, 27, of Cove, on Charges of Public Intoxication, Indecent Exposure, and Disorderly Conduct.

Report of the violation of an Order of Protection. Deputy responded. Information forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report of a vehicle doing doughnuts in a church parking lot. Deputy responded.

 

March 28, 2021

Report of a vehicle being backed into at a convenience store parking lot near Cove. Deputy responded. Investigation continues.

Report from complainant on Spencer Lane near Board Camp of problems with renters. Deputy responded.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 27 Incarcerated Inmates, with 18 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00240

 

3-29-21 10:23 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

March Quorum Court Meeting Recap

The Polk County Quorum Court meeting for March was held at the Polk County Extension Service Education Building in Mena. The Extension Service provided a meal for the Justices of the Peace and others in attendance prior to the meeting. 

 

Becky Sterner, Bridgett Martin, and Sherry Beaty-Sullivan all gave reports to the Quorum Court about the many programs of the Extension Service her in Polk County.

 

The Quorum Court handled routine business only at the meeting.

 

Polk County judge Brandon Ellison reported that the preliminary Census report for Polk County shows a decline in population for the county. If the preliminary numbers are used, the County will have to reduce the number of Justices of the Peace from 11 to 9, and other things will be affected in the County.

 

The Next Quorum Court meeting will be April 27, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. in the Quorum Court Meeting Room at the Polk County Office Complex (old hospital) located on Pine Street in Mena. Quorum Court meetings are open to the public.

 

3-29-21 8:00 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Computer Science Advancement

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Computer Science Advancement
 
Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
 
LITTLE ROCK – This week I signed Senate Bill 107, which requires high school students to take at least one computer science course in order to graduate.
 
This is a gigantic step forward among many steps that we’ve taken to advance computer science education in Arkansas. 
 
For six years, we have led the nation in computer coding. This bill takes our programs up another notch. 
 
I’m proud of the leadership in the General Assembly, which has been key to ensuring that all of our students have access to computer science education. I am particularly grateful to Senator Jane English and Representative Deann Vaught, who sponsored this bill, which they named the Computer Science Education Advancement Act.
 
The law will become effective for freshmen in the fall of 2022. The bill also requires that by the fall of 2023, every public high school must employ a certified computer science teacher.
 
Senate Bill 107 will keep Arkansas in the forefront of computer science education in the nation. South Carolina is the only other state that’s done anything close to this.
 
We started this journey when I became governor in 2015, and we became the first state to require every high school to offer a computer science course. The growth of the computer science programs has surpassed even my most optimistic projections.
 
I have spoken with teachers who told me the chance to teach computer science has opened opportunities they never imagined. Gerri McCann, who taught French in the Manila Public School District, recognized the importance of coding and became certified to teach it. Eventually, she earned a master’s degree in Information Systems so that she could prepare her students for a high-tech world where computers seem to run everything.
 
To support teachers who want to be certified, the Arkansas Department of Education developed a bonus program that will pay up to $10,000 over five years to teachers who are certified to teach computer science.
 
Since 2015, we have added 550 fully certified computer science teachers and awarded over $200,000 in bonuses directly to high school teachers. 

 

National organizations such as code.org have recognized our progress. One of the most satisfying endorsements came last fall in an editorial in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the state’s largest newspaper, as we began discussions about the computer-science graduation requirement.

 

The editorial began: “When you ask most people where the technology hubs are in America, their minds probably go to Silicon Valley, New York City, or maybe Austin. [Not] many people [will] say Arkansas. Give it a few more years. Arkansas is giving students opportunities to grow their interests in computer science."

 

As the editorial notes, in the day when typewriters were the thing, schools required students to learn how to type. Generations of students could type before they earned a diploma. Now computer coding is our new keyboard.
 
The editorial pointed out that Arkansas students already are required to take things outside the English, science, math, and history core curriculum, as well as health and physical education. To require a computer science class is a great investment in the future.
 
The editorialist is correct when he wrote that our “hope is Arkansas students who love their home state will start building the Silicon South right here. That brings jobs. That brings revenue. That brings the future to Arkansas.” 
 
3-26-21 5:44 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Building on Momentum Behind Broadband Deployment

 

The urgency for expanded broadband deployment is unmistakable. High-speed internet has become a necessity that has kept Arkansans connected throughout the COVID-19 emergency. Telework, distance learning and expanded telehealth opportunities exposed the pronounced need communities in Arkansas and across the country have for reliable broadband services. As co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, I’m working to build on this momentum.

 

Last year, Congress delivered millions of dollars to help close the digital divide. We approved funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program. Money from this initiative has been invested in Arkansas to support high-speed broadband infrastructure in Baxter, Marion, Stone, Pope and Van Buren counties.

 

We created a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) telehealth pilot program in the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that offers grants for health care providers so they can purchase equipment to help continue serving the needs of patients through telehealth services.

 

Telehealth has been critical for Arkansans to safely continue receiving medical care without having to make a trip to the doctor’s office. Many providers, especially in rural areas don’t have the tools and resources to expand their connectivity capacity, so this money has made a real difference in keeping folks healthy during COVID-19.

 

I recently spoke with a Bentonville resident who shared with me that expanded telehealth opportunities have opened doors to get her brother the help he needs by connecting him with a medical specialist across the country. Now we must ensure that all patients continue to have access to this care delivery system. Broadband deployment is an important first step in that process. We cannot allow connectivity issues to come between a patient and effective care. Telehealth will continue to play an increasingly important role in the future of health care delivery.

 

One of the long-standing and well-known problems with broadband deployment is the lack of reliable broadband coverage maps. We must ensure that our most rural and underserved communities are accurately represented in the data because this information helps determine where we need to focus investments. Knowing where connectivity is lacking will allow us to target dollars and resources to the places that need it most.

 

Congress has recently taken steps to ensure broadband mapping is more precise like approving funding for the FCC to create better broadband maps. This is a key component to closing the digital divide.

 

Reliable broadband services will also help our farmers and ranchers improve their yields with advances in precision agriculture. This technology provides producers with information that enables them to increase efficiency and productivity.

 

As the USDA works to build out networks for some of our most rural communities across the country, I’m pushing the agency to collaborate with the FCC in order to avoid overbuilding in any one area. It’s important that resources deployed to build out networks are used effectively and logically. 

 

I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Senate Broadband Caucus to advocate policies that expand access to high-speed internet. That’s the message I recently shared at a caucus event to discuss 2021 priorities, because while we’ve made progress, we know there are still many Arkansans in need of this technology to help them live, work and learn in the 21st century.

 

3-26-21 4:12 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

The 11th week of the session was an abbreviated one as the General Assembly took a recess for Spring Break. Before members left the Capitol, the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee advanced a new version of the Medicaid expansion program.

SB 410 establishes the framework for a new program called ARHOME which stands for Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me.


Currently, more than 300,000 Arkansans receive services under the Arkansas Works program. However, the federal government is moving to end the work requirement, and the current waiver expires at the end of this year.

 

ARHOME would continue to offer low-income families private insurance, with incentives for taking advantage of career and work opportunities, education and skill development, and health or other activities that will lead to long-term economic independence.

 

In addition, ARHOME would offer the following targeted plans:


• RuralLife360 –For Arkansans living in rural areas.


• MaternalLife360 – For pregnant women and families.


• SuccessLife360 – For veterans, those who were incarcerated, and those once in foster care.


SB410 will now go before the full House for a vote.

 

If approved, it will still require federal approval from the Biden administration for a waiver of Medicaid rules.

 

While the General Assembly had previously planned on wrapping up the session by April 9, it now appears it may take a few more weeks to complete our business. The House approved a resolution that will provide for an extended recess to begin no later than April 30 and return when census data becomes available to complete congressional redistricting. Currently, census data is expected to be released in September.

 

The resolution states that bills passed without an emergency clause or specified effective date will become law 90 days after the date the recess begins.

The Arkansas Legislative Council will meet on Monday morning to consider a request by the Governor to extend the public health emergency. The House will convene again that afternoon.

 

We will continue to update you on the latest developments from the session. You can watch live streams of all House meetings at www.arkansashouse.org.

 

3-26-21 1:46 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

March 26, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – The legislature voted to extend the 2021 session until April 30, and then to recess for an extended period rather than to adjourn.

 

There are several reasons the legislature chose to go into extended recess, rather than adjourn sine die.

 

The legislature has a duty to redraw the boundaries of the state’s four Congressional districts every 10 years. That will require new population data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. However, the Covid-19 pandemic caused delays in counting and canvassing. Those delays pushed back until September 30 the expected date when census information becomes available.

 

Another reason the legislature extended its recess is that Arkansas is going to receive federal relief funds under the new American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress. Initial estimates are that $2.8 billion will be allocated to Arkansas schools, cities, counties and state agencies.

 

The U.S. Treasury Department will set rules on how those funds may be spent, and those rules are not expected to be finalized before April 30.

 

When the legislature is in recess, the Senate and House can re-convene at the call of their leadership. If the legislature adjourns sine die it cannot. After adjournment the legislature could only re-convene if the governor called a special session, and in that event the governor also would have the power to limit the issues that could be considered.

 

During the extended recess, the President Pro Tem of the Senate and the House Speaker may call the legislature back into session for the purpose of completing Congressional redistricting and for distribution of federal Covid relief funds. Another allowed purpose is to consider legislation related to the Covid-19 public health emergency.

 

Typically, new laws take effect on the 91st day after sine die. This year is far from typical, and under a resolution passed by the legislature new laws will take effect on the 91st day after the April 30 recess.

 

Some bills have emergency clauses and as always they will take effect as soon as they are signed by the governor.

 

Fairness in Sports

 

Both chambers have approved and the governor signed Senate Bill 354, which prevents transgender students from participating in women’s sports. Specifically, it allows students to seek injunctive relief and monetary damages if they are deprived of the opportunity to participate in activities because their school allowed transgender students to compete on the female team.

 

Postponed tax deadlines

 

The governor announced that May 17 will be the new deadline for filing individual state income tax returns. The IRS has also made the deadline for filing federal returns May 17.

 

Traditionally the tax filing deadline is April 15. This year the date was postponed to help people whose medical and financial situations got worse during the pandemic.

 

Universities Go Back to Classroom

 

The Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas passed a resolution directing its campuses to prepare for in-person classes and activities in the fall. The system oversees five universities, seven colleges and the state’s major medical school in Little Rock, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Arkansas State University at Jonesboro has also decided to return to normal classes in the fall, as has Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

 

3-26-21 9:57 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Weekly Arkansas Fishing Report

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 25, 2021. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email jim.harris@agfc.ar.gov with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 9 a.m. the day of publication (March 25).


****Buy an Arkansas Fishing License by clicking here. Your purchase of a Fishing License helps support the AGFC’s work in maintaining the fishing resources throughout the state.

 

Quick links to regions:

 

Central Arkansas

 

North Arkansas

 

Northwest Arkansas

 

Northeast Arkansas

 

Southeast Arkansas

 

Southwest Arkansas

 

South-Central Arkansas

 

West-Central Arkansas

 

East Arkansas

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

3-26-21 9:06 a.m. KAWX.ORG

 

Flags To Half Staff For Boulder Shooting Victims

A Proclamation Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Boulder, Colorado
 
As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colorado, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, March 27, 2021. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
 
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.
 
                              JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
 
3-23-21 1:13 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for March

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of March 15, 2021 – March 21, 2021. 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.

 

March 15, 2021

Report of a vehicle accident on North Main Street near Cove. Deputy responded.

Report of a domestic disturbance on Hatton Lane near Wickes. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Cove of a stolen bicycle. Deputy responded.

 

March 16, 2021

Report of a disturbance on Race Lane near Acorn. Deputies responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report from complainant on Polk 299 near Dallas Valley of the theft of tools. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Race Lane near Acorn of identity fraud.

 

March 17, 2021

Report from complainant on Pearl Street near Wickes of harassment. Deputy responded.

Report of an unattended death on Hwy 8W near Rocky. Deputy responded.

Arrested by an officer with the Grannis Police Department was Levi R. Follis, 23, of Wickes, on Charges of Domestic Battery 3rd Degree and Terroristic Threatening 2nd Degree.

Arrested was Israel Y. Schwartz, 75, of Mena, on a Warrant for Forgery 2nd Degree and Theft of Property.

 

March 18, 2021

Report of two vehicles striking mirrors on Hwy 71 causing damage to the vehicle. Deputy responded.

 

March 19, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 133 near Acorn of a scam involving credit cards. Deputy responded.

Report of two vehicles striking mirrors on Hwy 88E near Ink causing damage to the vehicles. Deputy responded.

Report of reckless driving in a local business parking lot. Deputy responded.

 

March 20, 2021

Report from complainant on Joshua Lane near Board Camp of receiving harassing phone calls. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Michael T. Higgins, 34, of Hatfield, on a Parole Hold.

 

March 21, 2021

Report from complainant on Horseshoe Lane near Potter of a break-in and theft of tire rims and a tire changing machine valued at $650.00. Deputy responded. Items were later recovered.

Arrested was Polycarpio Rios, 49, of Wickes, on a Charge of Disorderly Conduct.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked no vehicle accidents this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 20 Incarcerated Inmates, with 19 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00221

 

3-22-21 11:11 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for March 14th - 20th

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of March 14th through March 20th, 2021

 

 

 

March 14

 

No reports.

 

March 15

 

Darrell Stone, 28, was charged with DWI, Refusal to Submit to BAC, and Running a Stop Light after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

Jason Colburn, 51, was charged with Criminal Mischief and Obstructing Government Operations after a complaint from First Financial Bank.

 

March 16

 

A report of Curfew Violation and Park Curfew Violation was taken at McMillian Park.

 

Aaron Whisenhunt, 29, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

March 17

 

Jennifer Williams, 49, was served with an arrest warrant at the police department.

 

Robert Wallis, 39, was served with four warrants after a disturbance call on Old Highway 71.

 

Danielle Sackett, 37, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

March 18

 

A report of a disturbance was taken on Evans Circle.

 

Dax Wood, 24, was served with four warrants at the Limetree Inn.

 

March 19

 

Two juveniles were charged with Breaking or Entering and Theft of Property after a theft from a vehicle complaint on Janssen Avenue.

 

Two juveniles were charged with Breaking or Entering and Theft of Property after a theft from a vehicle complaint on Marion Street.

 

Two juveniles were charged with Breaking or Entering and Theft of Property after a theft from a vehicle complaint on 10th Street.

 

A report of disorderly conduct was taken at James Super Save Food.

 

March 20

 

Billy Fletcher, 34, was served with five warrants after a disturbance call on Oak Avenue.

 

A report of breaking or entering and theft of property was taken from a person at Janssen Avenue Florist and Gifts.

 

Christopher Sanders, 32, was charged with Obstruction of Government Operations and served with two warrants, and Tina Richey, 34, was served with six warrants at Sun Country Inn.

 

A report of theft was taken from Subway.

 

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

 

3-22-21 10:55 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Iowa Man Dies After Motorcycle Crash Near Mena

A 41 year old Urbandale, Iowa man died Saturday after a motorcycle crash on the Talimena Scenic National Byway between Mena and Queen Wilhelmina State Park.

 
According to the Arkansas State Police Report, Daniel Mick was eastbound on a 2003 Honda VFR800 just before noon when he failed to negotiate a curve, overturned, left the roadway and struck a guard rail. 
 
Mick was pronounced dead at Mena Regional Mena System at 12:55 p.m.
 
Mick's death was the 101st traffic fatality in Arkansas this year, and there has been one more since bringing the total to 102. 
 
3-21-21 12:42 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Spring Time in Arkansas

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Spring Time in Arkansas
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas is springing to life. The White Trout-lily is in full bloom in the woods. Spring ephemerals such as Pale Corydalis, Spring Beauty, Toothwort, Bloodroot, and Violets are coloring the forest floor. The return of Arkansas's natural beauty is a relief and a reminder that the pandemic of 2020 didn't upend everything in our world.
 
A brief walk through your neighborhood may be enough of an antidote to COVID-19 claustrophobia. If you have the means to travel beyond your community for some outdoor therapy, then Grady Spann, director of the Arkansas State Parks, suggests the Jonquils at Washington Historic State Park as well as a tour of the town of Washington. Grady says Dogwoods and Redbuds are blooming along the Ozark trail, and the wildflower and butterfly garden at Devil’s Den State Park is a showcase of native wildflowers.
 
When it comes to spring flowers – or any other flower or plant – Theo Witsell is a fount of knowledge. Theo is Arkansas’s chief botanist. He is employed at the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. Theo fell in love with the natural world on childhood trips to the Buffalo River with his parents. In the book that Theo and two colleagues wrote about Arkansas plant life, called Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Arkansas, you’ll see that he knows nature.
 
For a spring flower expedition, Theo suggests a hike along larger creeks in the mountains such as the state park trails at Pinnacle Mountain, Petit Jean, and Lake Catherine; the natural areas at Sweden Creek Falls, Devils Eyebrow, Rattlesnake Ridge, and Cossatot River State Park; and Hobbs State Park Conservation Area. Jonquils are still going strong, and Henbit, Dead-nettle, Bittercress, Field Pansy, and Speedwell are everywhere.
 
Speaking of Daffodils, Wye Mountain, a short drive from Little Rock, is an easy spot for seeing flowers. Over the decades, thousands of children have romped among the seven acres of Daffodils, whose story dates to the 1950s. A fellow named Austin Harmon walked into Hackett’s feed and seed store in Little Rock and spotted their last half-bushel of Daffodil bulbs.
 
Austin proposed a swap: If they would give him the bulbs, he would bring them a half-bushel of fresh bulbs the next spring.
 
For the next twenty years, Mr. Harmon grew the Daffodils on his land. Then he moved a load of bulbs down the road to Wye Methodist Church, where they still grow and are the star of the annual Daffodil Festival. Members of the church still tend them and sell them. They use proceeds from the sale of flowers and bulbs to assist the less-fortunate in their community.
 
At the governor’s residence, when I look out any window, I renew my hope that COVID-19 is almost behind us, and I know there is still much beauty in the world.
 
3-19-21 5:04 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

In the 10th week of the 2021 Regular Session, the House passed several bills focusing on improved education.

 

Once enacted, these bills would increase funding for our public schools, raise teacher salaries, and require every high school student to complete a computer science course.

 

HB1677 raises the foundation funding amount for public schools from the current $6,899 per student to $7,182 per student for the next school year. It increases the amount for the 2022-2023 school year to $7,349 per student. The bill also outlines enhanced funding amounts for school districts where a large majority of students qualify for the national school lunch program. This bill will now be considered by the Senate Education Committee.

 

This week, the House also addressed teacher salaries. While the 92nd General Assembly worked to improve the minimum teacher salary, our teachers continue to make less than those surrounding states when it comes to the average salary. The current average salary for teachers is $49,822.

 

HB1614 seeks to raise the average salary by creating the Teacher Salary Equalization Fund. The bill outlines a statewide target average of $51,822 for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years. This bill would direct the Department of Education to disperse money from the Equalization Fund to districts whose average teacher salary falls below $51,822.

 

The House voted 97-0 in favor of HB1614. The bill is now before the Senate Education Committee.

 

Meanwhile, another education bill is making its way to the Governor’s desk. 

 

The House passed SB107, which requires students entering the ninth grade class of 2022-2023 to earn one credit in a computer science course before graduation. SB107 states that beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, a public school district shall employ a computer science teacher at each high school.

 

The House also passed two other education bills this week, HB1451 and HB 1594. 

 

HB1451 allows a public school district to adopt a bilingual program or a dual-immersion program approved by the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.

 

HB1594 allows the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education to grant a teaching license to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who have completed the necessary requirements.

 

You can find summaries of other legislation passed this week as well recorded meetings, links to live streams, and committee agendas at www.arkansashouse.org.

 

3-19-21 4:53 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Targeting Investments to Help Water Infrastructure

 

Water infrastructure plays a critical role in supporting the agriculture industry, providing protection from floods and increasing access to clean drinking water in communities across Arkansas. Water and wastewater systems are an essential part of our everyday lives, but we are facing challenges to ensuring they continue to meet our needs. As discussions ramp up about ways for Congress to address our nation’s infrastructure shortfalls, improvements to aging water systems must be part of that plan.

 

As a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, I’m working to strengthen our water infrastructure so Arkansans will have reliable access to drinking water well into the future, no matter where they live. The Arkansas Rural Water Association (ARWA) plays a key role in maintaining safe and effective drinking water and wastewater services in rural communities throughout the Natural State and helping provide assistance to support the needs of utility operators. 

 

In Arkansas, approximately 340 of the 370 community wastewater utilities serve small geographic localities. With a smaller population density, rural utilities find it more difficult to complete the necessary maintenance and upgrades in order to remain in compliance with safety and environmental standards and provide safe, reliable access to their customers.

 

In a rural state like Arkansas, sometimes it is difficult to fully fund vitally important drinking water projects. That’s why I helped develop an innovative approach to modernizing critical water infrastructure that makes the process easier and more affordable for states seeking to meet underserved or unmet water infrastructure needs. My proposal was incorporated into the America’s Water Infrastructure Act that was signed into law last Congress. My colleagues and I are continuing to support the program, approving $5 million for it a few short months ago, because we know it can help states and communities modernize their water infrastructure.

 

There is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to update critical water systems. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invested millions of dollars into rural drinking water projects in Arkansas that fund updates for old pipes, improvements to water pressure, maintenance of water quality and reduction of water loss, among other enhancements. As ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I understand how important this program is to rural communities and will continue to advocate for more assistance for rural America to develop and implement solutions to drinking water challenges.

 

National non-profit organizations are also helping. During a recent meeting with the Water Systems Council (WSC), I applauded its work to provide Arkansas families with access to clean and reliable drinking water. Its efforts have helped families like the Frazees in Rogers who had been relying on hauling water from a nearby source for their non-drinking water needs. In 2014, I connected the family with the WSC which worked to drill wells that brought efficient, fresh drinking water to the family and their neighbors. 
 

We all share the common goal of ensuring our systems are capable of delivering clean and reliable water to all in need. Our policies and investments must reflect the urgency that exists in providing access to this basic resource. I look forward to further championing this issue and supporting more projects that strengthen our water resources.

 

3-19-21 4:48 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

March 19, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – The Senate has approved legislation to grant to certified nurse practitioners full and independent practice authority.

 

The nurses would need about three years, or 6,240 hours, of practice under a collaborative agreement with a physician in order to earn the right to practice independently.

 

Nurses with fully independent practice authority will then have their licenses renewed every three years. They will be able to receive and prescribe drugs, medications and therapeutic devices.

 

Scope of practice bills tend to be controversial and difficult to pass. However, months of negotiations went into the writing of the legislation, House Bill 1258. It passed the Senate and House with clear majorities and was sent to the governor.

 

The Senate passed another scope of practice bill, but by the bare minimum. HB 1198 changes the definition of “certified registered nurse anesthesia.” Those nurses would no longer practice “under the supervision” of a physician. Instead, under HB 1198 they would work “in consultation with” a physician.”

Supporters of HB 1198 say it will help hospitals in rural areas that have trouble recruiting surgeons willing to supervise and be responsible for the work of nurse anesthetists.

 

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 18-to-12. In the 35-member Senate, 18 is the minimum number of votes needed to pass a bill.

 

HB 1198 failed in the House on the first attempt, getting only 50 affirmative votes and needing at least 51. On a second try, it received 55 votes. It was sent to the governor.

 

Pharmacists and their technicians will be authorized to give vaccinations and immunizations, because of the passage of HB 1134 and HB 1135. Both bills have completed the legislative process and were sent to the governor.

 

Pharmacists will be able to dispense birth control pills without a prescription because of the passage of HB 1069, which the legislature has passed and sent to the governor. The pharmacist must notify the woman’s primary care physician of the pills being dispensed.

 

Also, the pharmacist must ask the woman when her most recent doctor visit took place. If it is more than six months since the most recent visit, the pharmacist shall refer her to a primary care physician or to a women’s health care provider. Also, the pharmacist could not dispense more than six months of birth control pills until the woman sees a doctor.

 

Only women aged 18 and older may get birth control from a pharmacist without a prescription.

 

Both chambers have passed a version of Senate Bill 289, which protects physicians and medical providers from punishment if they refuse to perform a procedure because it would go against their conscience.

 

For example, a hospital could not deny their staffing privileges, demote or terminate them. Nor would the physician be made liable in a civil suit.

However, the physician would not have the right to deny someone emergency care.

 

The Senate passed and sent to the House SB 309 to lower the age for colorectal cancer screenings that are covered by health insurance, from 50 to 45. Follow-up colonoscopies, if needed, would also be covered for people 45 and over.

 

3-19-21 10:45 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Weekly Arkansas Fishing Report

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 18, 2021. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email jim.harris@agfc.ar.gov with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 9 a.m. the day of publication (March 18).

 

****Buy an Arkansas Fishing License by clicking here. Your purchase of a Fishing License helps support the AGFC’s work in maintaining the fishing resources throughout the state.

 

Quick links to regions:

 

Central Arkansas

 

North Arkansas

 

Northwest Arkansas

 

Northeast Arkansas

 

Southeast Arkansas

 

Southwest Arkansas

 

South-Central Arkansas

 

West-Central Arkansas

 

East Arkansas

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

3-18-21 2:21 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Flags To Half Staff For Atlanta Tragedy Victims

Fly the United States Flag at Half-Staff Immediately Until Sunset on Monday, March 22, 2021 Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area

 

 

HONORING THE VICTIMS OF THE TRAGEDY IN THE ATLANTA METROPOLITAN AREA

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION

 

As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on March 16, 2021, in the Atlanta Metropolitan area, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, March 22, 2021. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

 

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR

 

3-18-21 1:02 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

 

Mena Water Utilities PUBLIC NOTICE Concerning Elevated Chlorite In Water

PUBLIC NOTICE

 

The MENA WATER DEPT, who supplies water to Acorn Rural Water Association and Freedom Rural Water Association, is a public water system subject to regulation under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Those regulations require the notification of customers whenever a violation occurs, and is the basis for this notice.

 

The Arkansas Department of Health has advised the water system that there is no immediate health risk from consuming the water. Failure to meet the following requirement does not mean that the water is unsafe or that alternate sources of water should be used.

 

The maximum concentration of chlorite (a disinfection byproduct) in the water at the entry point or within the distribution system cannot exceed 1 milligram per liter. A concentration of 1.1 mg/l was measured in your system in the month of December 2020.

 

The water system has replaced the malfunctioning Chlorite chemical feed system that was feeding a higher dose than shown. We have also put in a secondary measurement system to confirm that the correct amount is being fed and to prevent an overdose from happening again.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets national standards for drinking water and has established the maximum level of Chlorite at 1.0 milligrams per liter. Chlorite is formed from the breakdown of chlorine dioxide, a drinking water disinfectant. EPA has determined that elevated levels of Chlorite are a health concern at certain levels of exposure.

 

Some infants and young children who drink water containing chlorite in excess of the MCL could experience nervous system effects. Similar effects may occur in fetuses of pregnant women who drink water containing chlorite in excess of the MCL. Some people may experience anemia. EPA has set a drinking water standard for chlorite to protect against these effects. Drinking water which meets this standard is associated with little or none of these risks and should be considered safe with respect to Chlorite.

 

Should you have any questions concerning this notice, contact the water system at 479-394-2761 or the Engineering Section of the Department of Health at 501-661-2623.

 

Information on drinking water can be obtained from the Engineering Section at 501-661-2623 and on the health effects of Chlorite from the Epidemiology Section at 501-280-4186.

 

3-17-21 10:14 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena City Council Meeting Recap

The Mena City Council met Tuesday for their regular monthly meeting.

 
The consideration of bids for the 2021 Street Overlay Hot-Mix program was tabled and will be sent back to committee.
 
The Council approved a resolution authorizing the Mayor and City Clerk/Treasurer to execute a real estate Lease/ Purchase Agreement with Graves and Wilson Properties, LLC which will in effect lease unused pasture that is part of the property acquired by the City for the new waste water treatment facility. 
 
The Council approved the appointment of John Maddox tot he Mena Hospital Commission to fill the unexpired term of Tammy Young which expires August 31, 2022.
 
Mena Mayor Seth Smith presented the State of the City address.
 
There was other routine business and reports.
 
It was announced that City Hall will be closed on April 2, 2021 in observance of Good Friday.
 
3-17-21 10:02 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena School Board Meeting Recap

The Mena School Board held their March meeting on Tuesday at the Administration Building.
 
The meeting began with Mr. Ray Beardsley, representing First Security, addressing the board. First Security has served the district as it’s financial advisor for many years and Beardsley expressed their desire to continue that relationship. A motion was made to extend their contract for 3 more years and it was approved.
 
In the Superintendent’s Report Mr. Benny Weston updated the board on numerous issues affecting the district in the Arkansas Legislative Session. Including current bills being considered by the House Education Committee.
 
The school choice capacity resolution was passed with no discussion. The financial reports were also approved.
 
Assistant Superintendent Lee Smith shared revisions to the 2021/2022 school calendar. The main revisions were to move the first day of school to August 16th with the final day being May 27th. The calendar was approved as revised. 
 
Personnel was the final and most anticipated item on the agenda. The board accepted the retirement of Pam Gross and Sheila Graves. They also accepted the resignation of bus driver Max Hartwig and approved the transfer of Sam Varner to take over that route.
 
Building Administrators then presented their recommendations for transfers and new hires on their respective campuses.
 

Louise Durham Elementary – Jimma Holder
Transfers:
 To Art
 Sarah Wagner to replace Pat Self at LD and HH
 To Interventionist
 Patty Oglesby to overcome lost learning
Hires:
 Shelby Garcia
 Aileen Sirkis
 Jaqueline Redfearn
 Bethany Meaders
 Abi Tilley
 Courtney Cates

 

Holly Harshman Elementary – Tamara Smart
Transfers:
 To Interventionist
 Amanda Posey to overcome lost learning
 To Third Grade Literacy
 Donna Golden to maintain standards for class size
 To HH Counselor
 Tonya Thacker from MHS to replace Vicky Maye
Hires:
 Fourth Grade Math
 Brianna Peters to replace Sheila Graves
 Fifth Grade Literacy
 Erika Williams to keep current configuration of Fifth Grade
 Fourth Grade Literacy
 Liberty Jacot to replace Donna Golden

 

Mena Middle School-Todd Coogan
Hires:
 Assistant Principal
 Teresa Warner to replace Todd Coogan
 Sixth Grade Math Teacher
 Reagan Sikes to replace Robin Ponder

 

Mena High School – Bridget Buckley
Hires:
 Assistant Principal
 Amy Montgomery to replace Bridget Buckley
 Lead Counselor (12 month)
 Shannon Lyle to replace Pam Gross
 

All recommendations were approved by the board & the meeting was adjourned.
 
3-17-21 9:43 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

City Council Meeting, State of the City Address

The Mena City Council will meet Tuesday, March 16, 2021 for their regular monthly meeting. 

 
In addition to routine matters, the Council will consider the following new business:
 
Consider bids for the 2021 Street Overlay Hot-mix Program
 
Consider a resolution authorizing the Mayor and City Clerk/Treasurer to execute a Real Estate Lease/Purchase with Graves and Wilson Properties, LLC
 
Consider a Resolution of Intent concerning the allocations of funds received from the Special One-Cent County Sales Tax
 
Consider an Ordinance to provide for the Waiver of Competitive Bidding in an exceptional situation to contract for economic development services with Mena Downtown partners; declaring an emergency to exist; and for other purposes
 
Consider a Resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute an agreement for Economic Development Services with Mena Downtown Partners
 
Consider an Ordinance amending the 2020 Budget Ordinances; declaring an emergency; and for other purposes
 
Consider the appointment of John Maddox to the Mena Hospital Commission to fill the unexpired term of Tammy Young which expires August 31, 2022.
 
In addition to these items, Mayor Seth Smith will present the annual State of the City address.
 
City Council meetings are open to the public.The meeting will be at Mena City Hall.
 
3-15-21 3:34 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for October March 8th - 14th

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of March 8, 2021 – March 14, 2021. 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.

 

March 8, 2021

Report of an unattended death on Polk 35 near Hatfield. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 125 near Rocky of stolen and forged checks. Deputy responded. Investigation continues.

Report from complainant on Polk 53 near Dallas Valley of being harassed. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report of a missing juvenile male.

Report of an ATV being found at a logging site on Polk 26 in Hatfield. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Kristalynn N. Ollar, 30, of Mena on a Warrant for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

 

March 9, 2021

Report from complainant on East Mena Street near Hatfield of trespassing. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on 375W near Potter of the theft of a trailer and four tires valued at $800.00. Deputy responded. Investigation continues.

Report from complainant on Trinity Lane near Acorn of the theft of $2,200.00 cash. Deputy responded. Investigation continues.

Report form complainant on Hwy 246W near Hatfield of the theft of a pistol. Deputy responded.

Arrested was William H. Hinkle, 47, of Cove on a Warrant for Possession of Firearms by Certain Persons and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Arrested was Leon C. Jordan, 34, of Hatfield on a Warrant for Failure to Appear.

 

March 10, 2021

Report of a grass fire on Eaves Mountain Lane near Acorn. Deputy responded.

 

March 11, 2021

Arrested was Chad A. Aucoin, 36, of Mena on a Warrant for Failure to Appear.

 

March 12, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 70 near Acorn of a burglary. Deputy responded.

Report of a disturbance on Polk 179 near Acorn led to the arrest of Nathaniel S. James, 22, of Mena on a Charge of Public Intoxication and a Warrant for Failure to Comply.

Report from complainant on Polk 284 near Hatfield of a stolen gun valued at $100.00. Deputy responded.

Report of a domestic altercation on Polk 295 near Hatfield. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report of an unattended death on Huber Lane near Shady Grove. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Toma D. Odom, 21, of Mena on a Warrant for Domestic Battery 3rd Degree and a Warrant for Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.

Arrested by an officer with the Grannis Police Department was Polycarpio Rios, 49, of Wickes on Charges of Public Intoxication, Criminal Mischief, Fleeing on Foot, and Disorderly Conduct.

 

March 13, 2021

Report of a vehicle accident on Hwy 8W near the state line. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Jacob L. Baker, 36, of Nashville, Arkansas on a Warrant for Failure to Appear.

 

March 14, 2021

Arrested was Jarad A. Miller, 22, of Gillham on a Warrant for Rape.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked one vehicle accident this week. Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 18 Incarcerated Inmates, with 15 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00200

 

3-15-21 12:26 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for March 7th - 13th

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of March 7th through March 13th, 2021

 

 

 

March 7

 

Lukas Holliday, 30, was charged with Possession of Schedule 6 Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Driving on a Suspended License after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

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

 

Samantha Coleman, 28, was charged with No Liability Insurance, and served with six warrants after a traffic stop on Reine Street.

 

Ronald Staggs, 58, was served with four warrants at the police department.

 

A report of battery, kidnaping, burglary, and robbery was taken from a man on Reine Street.

 

March 8

 

A theft of property (shoplifting) report was taken from Walmart.

 

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

 

A report of criminal trespass and criminal mischief was taken at a residence on Midland Drive.

 

March 9

 

William Robison, 38, was served with two warrants at the Executive Inn.

 

A report of theft of vehicle was taken at a residence on Sherwood.

 

A report of theft of motor fuel was taken from the Northside Super Stop.

 

Devyn Pursell, 26, was served with two warrants at the police department.

 

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

 

A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken from Walmart.

 

A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken from Walmart.

 

 

March 10

 

Daniel Roberts, 30, was served with four warrants after a traffic stop on Janssen Avenue.

 

March 11

 

No reports.

 

March 12

 

A report of breaking or entering was taken from Lindy’s Jewelry.

 

Robin Cauldwell, 42, was charged with Possession of a Firearm by Certain Persons, Possession of Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Schedule 1 Controlled Substance after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

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

 

March 13

 

A report of possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of schedule 6 controlled substance, possession of firearms by certain persons, and simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms was taken after a traffic stop on Sherwood Avenue.

 

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

 

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

 

3-15-21 10:34 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address:

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: The Benefit of Task Forces
 
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – The historic flood of 2019 exposed the weakness of Arkansas’s levee system, an issue that required immediate and focused attention, so I created the Arkansas Levee Task Force.
 
Today, I’d like to talk about some of the task forces that I have relied on during my administration. My model comes from Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s successful use of task forces as he reshaped Arkansas during his two terms as governor in the 1960s.
 
Arkansas state government is composed of dozens of departments, divisions, agencies, boards, and commissions that handle the day-to-day matters of governing. When an unexpected issue arises – such as our crumbling levees – we have to look for solutions quickly before the problem grows worse. I’m not an expert on every challenge, and state agencies may not always have the time or personnel to undertake the intense and thorough study that the unexpected issues demand. When I create a task force, I seek a range of experts and ask the members to study the problem and report back with recommendations.
 
When I recognized the need for the levee task force, I appointed 27 members including representatives from the departments of Public Safety, Agriculture, Emergency Management, and Finance and Administration; as well as the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and Arkansas Waterways Commission. The task force’s report included seventeen recommendations that will ensure we shore up our levees as well as our management and oversight. In fact, The Arkansas General Assembly is considering legislation recommended by the task force.
 
In 2018, two weeks after the horrific shooting of students at the high school in Parkland, Florida, I created another task force called the Arkansas School Safety Commission. My appointees included the director of the Criminal Justice Institute, a retired FBI agent, a school safety manager, a superintendent, several educators, a counselor, and a parent.  There were many issues for them to consider, but their bottom-line mission was to find ways to ensure that our young people return home from school every day. Many of their recommendations have been adopted by local school districts and have led to changes that keep our school children safer.
 
The task force whose work led to a great deal of national recognition was the Arkansas Computer Science Task Force. The work by the members of that task force  led to changes and to the recognition of Arkansas as a national leader in computer science education.
 
Other task forces I have created include ones to recommend ways to reduce red tape, guide economic recovery as we navigate COVID-19, and chart the next path in computer science and cybersecurity education. After last summer’s nationwide unrest, I created the Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas, and those recommendations were signed into law this last week.
 
Most recently, after our historic winter storm in February, I created the Energy Resources Planning Task Force to review the adequacy of our supply of critical energy sources during extreme weather events.
 
And so you can see the way task forces work. They allow us to move quickly and to utilize the best minds in Arkansas to solve specific problems. The people I have appointed serve on a voluntary basis, donating hours and energy, sometimes traveling around the state in pursuit of solutions. The quality of life in Arkansas is richer, our educational system is stronger, and we are safer because of their willingness to volunteer their time for our benefit.
 
3-12-21 6:51 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

More than 320 bills have been signed into law during the 2021 Regular Session. There are several hundred bills still making their way through the legislative process.

 

This week, House members voted on legislation impacting education, healthcare, voting, and much more.

 

The following bills passed the House during the 9th week of the session:

 

HB1633-This bill requires a city of first class to establish a city police department and provide the department with proper resources.

 

HB1416-This bill is intended to encourage home-based entrepreneurship. It outlines what restrictions local governments can and cannot place on home-based businesses.

 

HB1517-This bill states that the Secretary of State shall prepare and administer electronic voter registration application forms. 

 

HB1349-This bill creates the Every Arkansan Retirement Plan Opportunity Act. It outlines a voluntary plan for employers without a current retirement plan offered to their employees. 

 

HB1570-This bill prohibits healthcare professionals from providing gender transition procedures to any individual under 18 years of age. 

 

HB1510-This bill requires a school district board of directors and local law enforcement agencies to adopt a memorandum of understanding governing school resource officers. It also requires school resource officers to complete specialized training.

 

HB1429-This bill reduces the waiting period from after a parent or guardian withdraws their child from a school district to enroll to begin home-school. The waiting period is currently 14 days. This bill reduces it to 5 school days.

 

HB1522-This bill states that no person applying to be placed on a ballot for any public office shall knowingly provide false information with reference to his or her qualifications. It creates a misdemeanor offense for providing false statements by a candidate.

 

HB1323-This bill allows for the prosecution to display an in-life photograph of a homicide victim to the judge or jury. 

 

HB1512-This bill eliminates no-good-cause exemptions to the work requirement for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs. The bill does provide exemptions for an individual currently in foster care or residing in a domestic violence shelter.

 

HB1198-This bill allows a certified registered nurse anesthetist to operate in consultation with, but not necessarily in the presence of, a licensed physician.

 

HB1258-This bill authorizes full independent practice authority for certified nurse practitioners who meet specific requirements. Currently, nurse practitioners have to practice in a collaborative agreement with physicians.

 

SB155-This bill creates “Lila’s Law,” which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities regarding access to organ transplantation.

 

HB1069-This bill authorizes pharmacists to provide access to oral contraceptives. The bill also includes a provision for pharmacists to refer a patient to a primary care or women’s health provider if she has not been seen by a physician in the previous six months.

 

HB1506-This bill classifies the use of a hoax bomb as a Class C felony. A hoax bomb is defined as a device designed to look like an explosive or incendiary device. 

 

SB118-This bill creates the Arkansas Public Service Internship Program.

 

We will continue to update you throughout the session.

 

All House floor and committee meetings are live-streamed. The links to the video and agendas can be found at www.arkansashouse.org.

 

3-12-21 5:07 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: Vaccinating Arkansans Against COVID-19

Vaccinating Arkansans Against COVID-19

 

One year after COVID-19 was first identified within the United States and our states and cities were forced to dramatically restrict routine activities, we are now all much more aware of how a transmissible disease like the coronavirus is capable of bringing our society and economic activity to a grinding halt.

 

Thankfully, we have also learned that Americans motivated to find solutions to complex problems can do extraordinary work under immense pressure to deliver breakthroughs and remarkable innovation. That is precisely what happened as pharmaceutical companies, with the full support of the federal government, researched and developed COVID-19 vaccines in record time – just under a year. Operation Warp Speed, as the effort was known, truly was a game changer.

 

Now, three different vaccines are on the market and getting into the arms of Arkansans and Americans across the country.

 

We know that widespread vaccination against this strain of the coronavirus is going to be critical in our ability to return to normal life. That effort began to take shape early this year and continues to build momentum and clarity, with more Arkansans being vaccinated each day.

 

The good news is Arkansas has received over one million vaccine doses and has administered over 60 percent of the shots. The number of eligible Arkansans is also expanding. I share the same encouragement of many others upon learning our loved ones and neighbors are rolling up their sleeves, as I did, to protect themselves and help beat this pandemic.

 

We are particularly getting buy-in from our vulnerable populations. The Arkansas Department of Health reports that roughly half of all Arkansans over age 70 have now received at least one shot of the vaccine.

 

Now is the time to double our efforts and motivate those eligible to get vaccinated. Fortunately, opportunities to do so are increasing.

 

I recently attended a mass vaccination clinic at J.B. Hunt’s headquarters in Lowell sponsored by the Northwest Arkansas Council. It was reassuring to see such high demand – over 3,000 doses were administered – and confidence in the safety and necessity of the COVID-19 vaccines. Arkansans all across the state, in rural, suburban or urban areas, must continue to have access to the inoculation.

 

One model for successful vaccine deployment has come from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Last month, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing to examine the status of that effort at which I praised department officials and staff in Arkansas for their committed work to administer the vaccine.

 

At the same hearing, I mentioned hearing from Natural State veterans about their desire to have their loved ones and caregivers vaccinated. When VA officials shared with me that new statutory authority would be required in order to do that, I teamed up with VA Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) to provide a solution. I’m pleased to have worked in a productive, bipartisan manner to introduce the Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse (SAVE LIVES) Act in recent days.

 

I appreciate the input from Arkansas veterans and the support of my colleagues to meet the moment and craft legislation to allow the VA to get shots in more arms. This sensible approach to address concerns of veterans while also vaccinating more Americans, more quickly is one I am hopeful Congress will support.

 

The mobilization of Arkansas’s vaccination program, led by Governor Hutchinson and retired Arkansas National Guard Col. Robert Ator, is making important headway. As are the VA programs serving Arkansas veterans.

 

Let’s all do our part to help make them an even bigger success. If we do, we will hasten the end of the pandemic’s grip on our lives and strengthen our own health.

 

3-12-21 4:33 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

March 12, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – The Senate passed a new version of the Medicaid expansion program, which is one of the most important bills of this year’s session because of the number of people it benefits and the amount of money that it generates in Arkansas.

 

About 311,000 people receive services under the program. The current number is higher than usual because the Covid-19 pandemic caused many people to lose their jobs or businesses. Before the pandemic, about 250,000 people were eligible.

 

The original version of the Arkansas Medicaid expansion was called the private option. Rather than simply expanding traditional Medicaid rolls, Arkansas developed a unique model of implementing the federal law. Our private option helps low-income families pay for private health insurance.

 

It is an extension of the traditional Medicaid program, which subsidizes health care for low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities.

 

When Congress passed the federal Affordable Care Act in 2010, it allowed states to expand their Medicaid programs to make people eligible if they earned up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Arkansas created the private option and in 2014 was one of 25 states to expand Medicaid.

 

Spending bills in Arkansas must get a supermajority of 75 percent of the legislature for approval, so creation of the private option was a battle.

 

Maintaining a supermajority of support for the program has continued to be a political struggle. In a special session in 2016 legislators added a work requirement, in order to win the necessary number of votes.

 

However, the work requirement has been struck down by federal courts, and the current administration in Washington has signaled that it does not intend to make it a part of Medicaid.

 

The new version is in Senate Bill 410, which the Senate passed by a vote of 26-to-3. It would create a program called ARHOME, an acronym that stands for Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me.

 

It would continue the private option, which reimburses physicians and hospitals at a higher rate than traditional Medicaid. Also, the private health coverage available to beneficiaries in the private option generally offer more services.

 

The availability of more services will be the incentive for beneficiaries to look for work and continue their education. They can keep their private coverage if they work or study, and if they don’t they will be moved to traditional Medicaid.

 

Physicians, hospitals and other providers will still be paid commercial rates under ARHOME. Those are from 25 to 65 percent more than traditional Medicaid rates, and therefore ARHOME will continue to help rural hospitals stay open.

 

The private insurers must meet annual financial and health targets to avoid financial penalties. Three specific categories of beneficiaries will be measured for health improvement. One is at-risk pregnant women and newborns up to the age of two. The second is people in rural areas with mental illness or drug abuse problems. The third comprises young people who were incarcerated or in foster care, and veterans.

 

SB 410 creates a new program and the bill has no specific dollar amounts. Funding will be considered later in the legislative session when lawmakers vote on the appropriation for Medicaid. That appropriation will require 27 votes for passage in the Senate, which is 75 percent of the 35-member body.

 

3-12-21 11:35 a.m. KAWX.ORG

 

Weekly Arkansas Fishing Report

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 11, 2021. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email jim.harris@agfc.ar.gov with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 10 a.m. the day of publication (March 11).

 

****Buy an Arkansas Fishing License by clicking here. Your purchase of a Fishing License helps support the AGFC’s work in maintaining the fishing resources throughout the state.

 

Quick links to regions:

 

Central Arkansas

 

North Arkansas

 

Northwest Arkansas

 

Northeast Arkansas

 

Southeast Arkansas

 

Southwest Arkansas

 

South-Central Arkansas

 

West-Central Arkansas

 

East Arkansas

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

3-11-21 4:43 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

GREATER TUNA Coming to the Ouachita Little Theatre

OLT Presents “Greater Tuna” this April!

 

Ouachita Little Theatre has been looking for ways to keep our community entertained during the past year of the pandemic. With socially distanced seating in the theater, limited capacity audiences, and required masking, OLT has safely brought us some amazing readers theater style performances and small productions. The theater is inching back toward normal with the next venture in the presentation of “Greater Tuna.”

 

“Greater Tuna” is a very popular comedy about a tiny town in Texas called Tuna. The wacky inhabitants of this town include men, women, children, and animals who are all played by two experienced actors, Scotty Jenkins and John Puddington. Acting in this play requires great skill from these two men who must literally transform themselves into different characters at a breakneck speed. They use inventive voicework, creative costume changes, and visual humor to keep audiences laughing and thoroughly entertained.

 

Production consultant Brad Storey reports, “Scotty and John have been working really hard at rehearsals to bring laughter and fun to our audience. This is a challenging play to memorize and execute, but this promises to be a show that is definitely worth your time and money!”

 

Opening night is Friday, April 16 at 7:30; another evening performance is Saturday, April 17, and a Sunday matinee will be performed April 18 at 2:30 PM. Season tickets will be honored, or tickets may be purchased for $10 at the door. You can also buy advance tickets at the OLT office on Main Street on Fridays between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.

 

3-11-21 2:43 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for February 28th - March 6th

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of February 28th through March 6th, 2021

 

 

February 28

 

A death investigation report was taken on Reine Street.

 

A report of a disturbance was taken on 7th Street.

 

A report of battery was taken on 11th Street.

 

March 1

 

A report of battery was taken at Limetree Inn.

 

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

 

A report of possession of schedule 2 controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of schedule 6 controlled substance, disorderly conduct, and driving on a suspended driver’s license was taken after a traffic stop on Highway 88 East.

 

March 2

 

No reports.

 

March 3

 

A report of theft by receiving, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal mischief, obstructing government operations, and theft was taken at the Executive Inn.

 

Elizabeth Trusley, 27, was charged with charged with Public Intoxication after a complaint on Highway 71.

 

March 4

 

Elizabeth Trusley, 27, was charged with Theft of Vehicle, Fleeing in a Vehicle, Speeding, Disregarding Signs and Traffic Signals, Driving on a Suspended Drivers License, and Resisting Arrest after a complaint from a person at a doctors office on College Drive.

 

Eddie Clovis, 36, was charged with Breaking or Entering, and Theft of Property after a complaint at a residence on Cherry Street.

 

A theft report was taken at a residence on 7th Street.

 

March 5

 

Russell Boyd, 25, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

Clay Breeden, 41, was charged with Possession of Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and served with a warrant at a residence on 2nd Street.

 

March 6

 

David Heard, 34, was served with five warrants after a traffic stop on Reine Street.

 

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

 

3-9-21 11:28 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

UPDATED March 9th Special Election Day In Polk County

UPDATE-The Special Sales Tas passed overwhelmingly on Tuesday. Only 963 people voted in the special election. There were 803 YES votes, 157 NO votes, and 3 left blank. The total YES votes amounted to 83.65%.

 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 is Special Election Day in Polk County. Voters are being asked to renew the special 1% sales tax that provides over 40% of the money for county roads and bridges, and also provides important revenue for the 6 municipalities in the county. This is NOT a new tax, only a renewal of the existing tax that has to be renewed by the voters every 7 years.

 

The Polk County Quorum Court has agreed to roll the road millage on property taxes to zero if the sales tax is renewed. Millage rates are set in November each year by the Quorum Court. Millages are a year behind, and if the Quorum Court has the opportunity to roll the road millage back, it will be a year delayed. 

 

All of the revenue generated by this tax stays in Polk County. This tax has nothing to do with state highways.

 

Vote Centers will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Voters are permitted to vote at any Vote Center, not just the one in their precinct.

 

The Vote Centers are listed below.

  

Vote Center #1  
POLK COUNTY OFFICE COMPLEX (OLD HOSPITAL) 
601 PINE STREET 117 CEMETERY ROAD
MENA, AR 71953 

 

Vote Center #2
FIRST BAPTIST FELLOWSHIP HALL
811 PORT ARTHUR (8TH STREET SIDE)
MENA, AR 71953 

 

Vote Center #3 
AMERICAN LEGION BUILDING
3253 HWY 71 N. 
MENA, AR 71953 WICKES, AR 71973

 

Vote Center #4 
CONCORD BAPTIST CHURCH
3467 HWY 88 E. 
MENA, AR 71953 

 

Vote Center #5
SALEM BAPTIST CHURCH
115 POLK ROAD 56
MENA, AR 71953

 

Vote Center #6
HATFIELD AUDITORIUM
117 CEMETERY ROAD
HATFIELD, AR 71945

 

Vote Center #7
COVE TOWN HALL
5568 HWY 71 S.
COVE, AR 71937

 

Vote Center #8
WICKES COMMUNITY CENTER
136 STEVENSON DR.
WICKES, AR 71973

 

Vote Center #9
GRANNIS TOWN HALL
132 FRACHISEUR ROAD
GRANNIS, AR 71944

 

3-8-21 5:18 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Report for March 1 - 7

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of March 1, 2021 – March 7, 2021. 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.

 

March 1, 2021

Traffic stop on Hwy 71N near Mena led to the arrest of Cheyenne N. Smith, 26, of Mena, on Charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance, Driving on a Suspended Driver’s License, Fictitious Tags, Possession of Meth or Cocaine with Purpose to Deliver, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Furnishing Prohibited Articles.

Arrested was Terrina D. Williams, 49, of Mena, on Charges of Possession of Meth or Cocaine, Possession of Schedule VI, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Arrested was Jody L. Carter, 36, of Mena, on Charges of Possession of Meth or Cocaine, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Schedule VI, Theft by Receiving, five Warrants for Failure to Appear, and a Warrant for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Arrested was Michael L. Lance, 57, of Mena on a Warrant for Probation Violation, and two Warrants for Failure to Comply.

 

March 2, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 732 near Acorn of the unauthorized use of a vehicle. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Hwy 270 near Acorn of an argument between neighbors. Deputy responded. Complainant refused to press charges.

 

March 3, 2021

Report of an incident between family members.

Report from complainant on Hwy 270 near Acorn of problems involving property easements. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 117 near Acorn of a break-in and theft of tools and a stove in the amount of $1,000.00. Deputy responded.

 

March 4, 2021

Report of receiving bills on an unauthorized account. Deputy responded.

An incident involving the discovery of suspicious items led to a juvenile male being issued a Juvenile Citation. Juvenile was released to the custody of a parent/guardian.

 

March 5, 2021

Report of a disturbance at a housing authority near Hatfield led to the arrest of James D. Ralph III, 21, of Mena on a Charge of Disorderly Conduct.

Report of a disturbance near a state park led to the arrest of Adrian P. Fleming, 45, of Benton, AR on a Charge of Disorderly Conduct.

Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Hatfield of a possible break-in. Deputy responded.

 

March 6, 2021

Report from complainant on Hillcrest Lane near Acorn of a missing person. Deputy responded.

Traffic stop on Hwy 71S near Cove led to the arrest of Miguel A. Nieto-Mendoza, 18, of Dequeen on a Charge of Purchase, Possession of Intoxicating Liquor by Minor.

Report from complainant on Hwy 88E near Ink of a possible theft. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report from complainant on Polk 194 near Ink of a dog being shot. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Krystal M. Neer, 35, of Hatfield on two Warrants for Failure to Comply and a Hold for Other Agency.

 

March 7, 2021

Report from complainant on Ruby Lane near Acorn of trespassers. Deputy responded.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 21 Incarcerated Inmates, with 14 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00179

 

3-8-21 1:31 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: The path forward is to work together

The path forward is to work together

 

Congress passed five bipartisan COVID-19 bills last year to help Arkansas families, small businesses and health care providers as we were facing unprecedented times during the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans and Democrats came together to deliver a total of $4 trillion in emergency relief to support medical workers treating patients, research and develop a vaccine, help small business operations continue to pay employees and safely reopen schools. As President Joe Biden called for unity at his inauguration, it was reasonable to hope this spirit of cooperation would extend beyond the first hours of his presidency. Sadly, he hasn’t demonstrated a willingness to work across the aisle.

 

Senate Republicans went to the White House last month and shared a proposal for targeted spending intended to launch negotiations. New funding directed in a precise way to meet fresh and ongoing needs is the appropriate course of action given there is a significant amount of money that remains to be spent. Federal agencies are still in the process of awarding monies from the bipartisan COVID-19 relief package signed into law late last year.

 

Just days ago, the Department of Transportation announced $4.5 million in grants for six Arkansas airports to blunt the impact of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus. It’s likely Arkansas is in line for additional funding. As these awards continue to be rolled out, they are further proof that previous relief efforts are still being noticed and implemented.

 

Now is not the time to pass another massive spending bill, and President Biden isn’t serious about getting the bipartisan support that a measure like this requires.

 

Congressional Democrats have used a procedural maneuver that requires only a simple majority of the Senate to approve the president’s $1.9 trillion plan. It should be no surprise this bill does not have widespread bipartisan support. It has little to do with pandemic relief. Less than 10 percent of the controversial partisan legislation is targeted to the health response and less than one percent goes toward vaccine distribution.

 

Taxpayer dollars are being used to pay for union pensions and bailout states that have mismanaged their finances. It’s wrong to make Arkansas taxpayers foot the bill for states whose leaders imposed severe, extended business shutdowns. This bill rewards bad behavior and penalizes states like ours that have a decreasing unemployment rate.

 

There is more money for schools to reopen for in-person learning. Arkansas is a model of how this can be accomplished without additional funds. Schools across the state opened their doors at the beginning of the school year. School districts invested in cleaning supplies, barriers and retrofitted classrooms with prior federal COVID-19 aid.

 

Over the course of this past year, Congress delivered nearly $68 billion to help bring K-12 students nationwide back into the classroom. As of late February, only a small amount had been spent.

 

Instead of ensuring the funds Congress already approved are being used effectively, President Biden has pushed for more spending in the name of emergency relief. In reality, according to the Congressional Budget Office, most of that money won’t be spent for years.

 

The path forward is to work together, identify the outstanding critical needs and reach consensus. Rather than advancing policies that have nothing to do with beating the virus and putting us on the road to economic recovery, we should be discussing a bipartisan compromise. I looked forward to the president acting on his call for unity, but this isn’t a good start.

 

3-5-21 5:10 p.m. KAWX.ORG

 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Easing Restrictions

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Easing Restrictions
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – In a news conference last week, I announced that I was renewing the state of emergency through March 31. I also announced that we would be keeping the mask mandate through March 31, as well.
 
In the days before March 31, we will consider whether we can convert the mask directive to a guidance, which is just that – guidance. Adherence is voluntary, and there is no penalty for a violation. We must meet one of two benchmarks in order to lift the mask mandate. If we are testing an average of 7,500 a day with PCR and antigen tests and have a daily positivity rate of less than 10 percent, we will convert from a mask directive to guidance that strongly encourages masks but doesn’t require them. At the end of the month, if we haven’t met the threshold of 7,500 tests, then we can look at the number of hospitalizations. If the number of COVID patients in hospitals is less than 750 statewide, that will allow us to lift the mask mandate.
 
I also announced that since our COVID-19 numbers have been moving in the right direction, the secretary of health and I decided we could safely take some steps toward more normal lives. This includes converting all restrictions on businesses to less-restrictive guidance.
 
I have heard good reports since our announcement. Eric Buckner, who owns 10 Fitness gyms, said older clients have been returning. He said, “It’s nice to see some of our long-time members we haven’t seen in a while.” Eric also said the mask mandate has been helpful because it gave small businesses authority to enforce it. He said, “We wouldn’t have been able to stay in business without the mandate. It was a common-sense directive to keep people safe without destroying a business.”
 
Since the announcement, some restaurants have seen their business pick up overnight. Candy Wilkerson, owner of Capitol Smokehouse in downtown Little Rock, closed for seven weeks in the spring. She has chosen to remain at 66 percent capacity for now. She said the pandemic has been a struggle but that the Smokehouse is starting to come back.
 
We can’t keep the directives in place forever, and this cautious approach offers flexibility for our small businesses. We are able to loosen up a bit because Arkansans have followed the directives. We have vaccinated nearly 10 percent of our 3 million population, and as more people get the vaccine, our number of cases will continue to fall. We are not in the end zone. I encourage you to follow the Health Department guidelines and get your vaccine as soon as you can.
 
If the numbers start to rise again, we may have to renew the state of emergency on March 31. I encourage you to continue all the things you’ve done to put us at this point so we don’t have to go back. Let’s keep working together to push the pandemic out of the Natural State.
 
3-5-21 4:18 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

As we wind down the 8th week of the 2021 Regular Session, more than 270 bills have been signed into law.

 

Next week, the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee will begin hearing proposals for constitutional amendments. According to Joint Rules, the House and Senate can each recommend one amendment, but it must be approved by a majority in both chambers. A 2/3 vote is required by both chambers to introduce a third proposed constitutional amendment.

 

This week, the House passed more than 50 bills, including the following:

 

HB1061-This bill creates the No Patient Left Alone Act. The bill outlines visitation rights for hospital patients, including children, patients with disabilities, hospice care, long-term care patients, and members of the clergy.

 

SB6-This bill would ban abortions except those performed to protect the life and health of the mother.

 

HB1568-This bill creates a legislative study on the possible use of election technology to increase transparency and security. 

 

SB137-This bill states that a local government shall not adopt any ordinance or policy that would prohibit a customer's right to purchase, use, connect, or reconnect to a utility service.

 

HB1437-This bill concerns “Publish for Pay websites” or privately-owned websites that request a fee to remove a booking photograph from the website. The bill states the person responsible for removing the booking photograph from the website shall remove the picture within five business days of receipt of a written request and not require payment of a fee for removing the booking photograph. It also states the website must post contact information.

 

HB1457-This bill creates “Paisley’s Law”. It allows parents of a stillborn child to claim an income tax credit in the amount of $500.

 

HB1488-This bill allows employees to file a Workers’ Compensation Claim for COVID-19 if the employee can prove they contracted the virus at their place of employment. 

 

HB1407-This bill modifies the method of calculation of the stabilization tax and caps the tax at .2% for 2022.

 

HB1409-This bill caps the taxable wage base for employers at $10,000 for 2022.

 

HB1433-This bill outlines transportation funding for the 2020-2021 school year for districts that need more than the foundation funding provided to all public schools.

 

HB1464-This bill adds a provision to the Arkansas Code that allows parents to challenge instructional material, events, or activities in public schools. 

 

HB1389-This bill creates the Arkansas Foresters for the Future Scholarship Program. This scholarship will be funded by the State Forestry Fund.

 

SB287-This bill expands eligibility for the Governor’s Scholars Program and the Arkansas High Technology Scholarship Program to migrants from the Compact of Free Association Islands (Marshallese) and to an individual or child of a person who holds a Federal Form I-766 Employment Authorization Document (work permit).

 

HB1462-This bill allows state-supported two-year and four-year institutions of higher education to designate a staff member as a homeless and foster student liaison. 

 

There will be some changes to committee schedules beginning next week to accommodate hearing bills and proposed amendments. You can find updated schedules and links to live streams on our website www.arkansashouse.org.

 

3-5-21 3:45 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

March 5, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – Both chambers of the legislature have approved a bill that prohibits abortions, except if necessary to save the mother’s life in a medical emergency.

 

Several legislators said they had concerns about the bill because it does not have an exception for rape or incest.

 

Senate Bill 6 passed in the Senate by a 27-to-7 vote and in the House of Representatives by a 76-to-19 vote.

 

It authorizes penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for people who are convicted or performing or attempting to perform an abortion. It specifically does not authorize any criminal charges against any pregnant woman in the death of her unborn child.

 

Also, SB 6 does not prohibit the sale or use of prescription drugs, contraceptive measures or chemicals as long as they are administered before the pregnancy has been determined through conventional medical testing.

 

In other news, the governor signed SB 24, known as the “Stand Your Ground” bill. It is Act 250 of 2021.

 

It removes the previous requirement in state law that people had to retreat from a confrontation if they could do so safely.

 

Under Act 250, a person is not required to retreat before using deadly force if he or she is legally at the location where the confrontation occurs, and has a reasonable belief that the other person is threatening his or her life with death or serious physical injury.

 

A group of about 35 legislators formed the “Back the Blue” caucus to support bills strengthening law enforcement. One measure in the package is SB 300 to prohibit parole for certain repeat offenders who use a firearm to commit a felony.

 

Another measure is HB 1343 to lower the threshold for retirement for state troopers, from 30 to 28 years of service.

 

Also in the package is SB 346 to add audiovisual media to the list of documentation that law enforcement agencies maintain in criminal investigations.

Other criminal investigation documents include lab reports, arrest records, search warrants and incident reports. The bill outlines how many years those documents must be retained, which depends on the severity of the crime.

 

SB 346 would allow law enforcement agencies to charge reasonable fees for the costs of copying audiovisual media and electronic records, for example to comply with a request for public records under the state freedom of information act.

 

Reasonable fees could include personnel time needed to reproduce the documents.

 

Some advocates for transparency in government have expressed concern that approval of SB 346 might encourage other government entities, apart from law enforcement agencies, to charge for personnel time when complying with FOI requests.

 

The House has passed several bills prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. HB 1488 would allow employees to file a workers’ compensation claim if they can prove they contracted the Covid-19 virus in their workplace. It would expire in two years.

 

The House also passed HB 1521 to provide immunity from civil lawsuits for health care providers when they diagnose and treat patients with Covid-19. Their immunity would be similar to that of emergency responders.

 

HB 1061, called the “No Patient Left Alone” act, would create procedures for allowing people to visit family in hospitals and nursing homes during the pandemic.

 

3-5-21 10:16 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Weekly Arkansas Fishing Report

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 4, 2021. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email jim.harris@agfc.ar.gov with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 10 a.m. the day of publication (March 4).

 

****Buy an Arkansas Fishing License by clicking here. Your purchase of a Fishing License helps support the AGFC’s work in maintaining the fishing resources throughout the state.

 

Quick links to regions:

 

Central Arkansas

 

North Arkansas

 

Northwest Arkansas

 

Northeast Arkansas

 

Southeast Arkansas

 

Southwest Arkansas

 

South-Central Arkansas

 

West-Central Arkansas

 

East Arkansas

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

3-4-21 5:58 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

If you have local news tips or would like to place an item on the KAWX.ORG Community Calendar, email us at communityradio@live.com or click on the News Tips graphic above.

 

Polk County Archery Teams Participate In Virtual Competition

Archery teams from Vandervoort, Wickes and Acorn schools placed high in recent virtual competition. Other area schools also placing include Oden, Waldron, Caddo Hills and De Queen. Congratulations to these temas and the excellent archers from our area schools! 

 

LITTLE ROCK — Social-distancing requirements may have prevented the typical scene at Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs for this year’s Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program State Championships, but schools from across the state still are competing to see who is the best at Olympic-style archery this week.

 

Curtis Gray, ANASP coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said all competitions were moved to a virtual format this year to prevent the typical crowds of up to 16,000 at one location for the state championships.

 

“We just couldn’t organize any sort of gathering like that in good conscience,” Gray said. “But we still wanted to give all of our archers an opportunity to compete and continue enjoying their sport.”

 

Instead, archers at each school are competing at their own facilities with at least two coaches or administrators serving as scoring judges. Instead of the meet taking place all in one or two days, teams will have four days to shoot and submit their scores.

 

“With each school district going by different formats for how many people can be in a group at once and which days they host virtual learning, we wanted to make sure everyone had enough time to compete,” Gray said.

 

The format went well during the regional shoots, which took place from Feb. 8-24, despite weather-related setbacks.

 

“Major snowstorms shut everything down right in the middle of the regional shooting period,” Gray said. “We extended the deadlines for those scores for two weeks because of the weather, but we anticipate having all of the state championship numbers in by this Thursday night’s deadline.”

 

Gray says participation in regional shoots saw a substantial drop from last year, but he’s still pleased by the turnout.

“With COVID and the switch to a virtual format, I was worried we wouldn’t have many teams for this year’s competition, but we had more than 3,000 kids shoot and turn in scores,” Gray said. “With all the changes to student’s schedules and ability to gather for practice, We’ve weathered the storm much better than we anticipated, and I hope we’ll have even more participation next year as we see more stability in school schedules.”

 

Concerns for spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 shuttered last year’s Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program’s events, as well as this year’s regional ANASP, meets, but Gray is hopeful that next year will be different.

 

“That’s all we can do right now is hope that this is behind us when next year’s tournaments come around,” Gray said. “Until then, I encourage everyone to keep practicing and enjoying archery. We have 3D courses available throughout the state to enjoy some open-air opportunities as well as all of the teachers still giving instruction through the hundreds of schools that participate in the program. Every situation is different, but the end goal is to help our youth build confidence in this great sport.”

 

Visit www.agfc.com/ANASP for more information on the Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program and this year’s competition.

 

Teams competing in this year’s state championships:

 

Region 1
Elementary
1st Place- Old High Middle School
2nd Place- Lincoln Elementary

Middle School
1st Place- Washington Jr. High
2nd Place- Old High Middle School
3rd Place- Arkansas Arts Academy Middle School

High School
1st Place- Arkansas Arts Academy
2nd Place- Bentonville High School

 

Region 2
Elementary
1st Place- Bergman Elementary
2nd Place- Omaha Elementary
3rd Place- Valley Springs Elementary

Middle School
1st Place- Alpena Jr. High
2nd Place- Bergman Middle School
3rd Place- Valley Springs

High School
1st Place- Alpena High School
2nd Place- Valley Springs High School
3rd Place- Bergman High School

 

Region 3
Elementary
1st Place- Eagle Mountain Elementary
2nd Place- Cave City Elementary
3rd Place- Southside Bee Branch Elementary

Middle School
1st Place- Cave City Middle School
2nd Place- EPC Junior High
3rd Place- Southside Bee Branch Middle School

High School
1st Place- Cedar Ridge High School
2nd Place- Southside High School
3rd Place- EPC Senior High

 

Region 4
Elementary
1st Place- Greene County Tech Elementary
2nd Place- Valley View Elementary
3rd Place- Maynard Elementary School

Middle School
1st Place- Greene County Tech
2nd Place- Valley View Jr. High
3rd Place- Hillcrest Middle School

High School
1st Place- Greene County Tech
2nd Place- Valley View High School
3rd Place- Brookland High School

 

Region 5
Elementary
1st Place- Charleston Elementary
2nd Place- Rena Elementary
3rd Place- Pottsville 5th Grade

Middle School
1st Place- Charleston Middle School
2nd Place- Waldron Middle School
3rd Place- Pottsville Junior High

High School
1st Place- Waldron High School
2nd Place- Charleston High School
3rd Place- Pottsville High School

 

Region 6
Elementary
1st Place- Westside Elementary

Middle School
1st Place- Palestine-Wheatley Middle School
2nd Place- Westside Middle School

High School
1st Place- Pangburn High School
2nd Place- Palestine-Wheatley High School
3rd Place- Vilonia High School

 

Region 7
Elementary
1st Place- Perryville Elementary
2nd Place- Ode Maddox Elementary

Middle School
1st Place- Bryant Middle School
2nd Place- Bethel Middle School
3rd Place- Oden Middle School

High School
1st Place- Oden High School
2nd Place- Bryant High School
3rd Place- Caddo Hills High School

 

Region 8
Elementary
1st Place- Crystal Hill Elementary
2nd Place- Carlisle Elementary

Middle School
1st Place- Cabot Junior High North
2nd Place- Cabot Junior High South
3rd Place- Our Lady of the Holy Souls Catholic School

High School
1st Place- Cabot High School
2nd Place- Little Rock Christian
3rd Place- Cabot Freshman Academy

 

Region 9
Elementary
1st Place- Vandervoort Elementary
2nd Place- Wickes Elementary
3rd Place- Bradley Elementary

Middle School
1st Place- Acorn Middle School
2nd Place- Wickes Middle School
3rd Place- Vandervoort Middle School

High School
1st Place- Dequeen High School
2nd Place- Acorn High School

 

Region 10
Elementary
1st Place- Glen Rose Elementary
2nd Place- Spa City Archery
3rd Place- Mountain Pine Elementary

Middle School
1st Place- Glen Rose Middle School
2nd Place- Lake Hamilton Middle School
3rd Place- Mountain Pine

High School
1st Place- Glen Rose High School
2nd Place- Lake Hamilton High School
3rd Place- Hot Springs Shooting Sports

 

Region 11
Elementary
1st Place- Parkers Chapel
2nd Place- Taylor Elementary
3rd Place- Westside Christian

Middle School
1st Place- Barton Jr. High
2nd Place- Taylor Middle School
3rd Place- Emerson Middle School

High School
1st Place- El Dorado High School
2nd Place- Taylor High School
3rd Place- Parkers Chapel High School

 

Region 12
Elementary
1st Place- Hamburg Elementary
2nd Place- St. Johns Lutheran

Middle School
1st Place- Star City Middle School
2nd Place- Stuttgart Jr. High
3rd Place- St. Johns Lutheran Stuttgart

High School
1st Place- Star City High School

 

3-4-21 1:22 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for February 21st - 27th

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of February 21st through February 27th, 2021

 

 

Correction for February 14

 

Abram Abernathy was not charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) at Walmart.

 

Brandon Abernathy, 30, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) at Walmart.

 

February 21

 

A report of criminal mischief was taken at Murphy USA.

 

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

 

February 22

 

No report.

 

February 23

 

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

 

February 24

 

A report of violation of a no contact order was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

Two juveniles were charged with Criminal Trespass and Theft of Property at a residence on Gillham Avenue.

 

February 25

 

Ashley Page, 19, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

A report of theft was taken at Teeter Motors.

 

A report of breaking or entering and theft was taken from Space Center Storage.

 

February 26

 

Tristen Canada, 20, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

A report of financial identity fraud was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

Amber Thomasson, 38, was served with two warrants at the police department.

 

February 27

 

A report of endangering the welfare of a minor was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

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

 

3-1-21 10:34 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for February 22nd - 28th

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of February 22, 2021 – February 28, 2021. 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.

 

February 22, 2021

Report from complainant on Hwy 8E near Board Camp of a stolen vehicle. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Jason W. Busby, 47, of Mena, on a Parole Hold.

 

February 23, 2021

Report from complainant on Hwy 8E near Dallas Valley of a break-in. Deputy responded. Investigation continues.

Arrested was Julie E. Renard, 37, of Mena, on a Charge of Driving While Intoxicated.

Arrested was Crystal L. Thacker Farmer, 32, of Atlanta, Texas, on a Warrant for Probation Violation.

 

February 24, 2021

Report from complainant on Hwy 246E near Cove of a domestic disturbance. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Amber R. Thomasson, 38, of Mena, on a Parole Hold and Criminal Trespass.

Arrested was Sheila M. Akers, 42, of Cove, on a Charge of Possession of Meth or Cocaine.

Arrested was David F. Rife, 49, of Hatfield, on a Charge of Possession of Meth or Cocaine.

 

February 25, 2021

Report of receiving threatening calls and texts. Deputies responded.

Report of receiving a fraudulent bill in the mail.

Report of vehicle striking a church building. Deputy responded.

Report of a telephone scam.

Arrested was Neisha F. Wikel, 28, of Cove, on a Hold for Other Agency.

 

February 26, 2021

Report from complainant on Hwy 375E near Dallas Valley of being assaulted. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

 

February 27, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 465 near Grannis of the theft of two Ranger’s, an ATV, multiple firearms and chainsaws valued at $12,250.00. Deputy responded. Investigation continues.

Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Grannis of the theft of a gun. Deputy responded. The gun was later returned to the owner.

Report from complainant on Polk 231 near Cove of a vehicle causing damage to property and other vehicles led to the arrest of Gerhard H. Hicks, 23, of Wickes, on Charges of Disorderly Conduct, Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage Accident, Careless and Prohibited Driving, Public Intoxication, Criminal Mischief 1st Degree, No Vehicle License, and Resisting Arrest.

 

February 28, 2021

No reports filed.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 16 Incarcerated Inmates, with 10 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00161

 

3-1-21 10:25 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

Mena Weather