Drug Take Back Day in Arkansas April 24, 2021 To find a location visit ARTAKEBACK.ORG. This event is held the last Saturday of April and October each year.
If you have unused prescription medicines, please dispose of them properly!
Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer said that his department would be in front of the Polk County Courthouse on Church Street between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. collecting unused prescription drugs. Sawyer suggested that the drugs be placed in a zip lock back for drop off and the bottles be disposed of by the participants.
There is a permanent Drug Take Back drop box located at the Polk County Sheriff's Office in Mena that can be used anytime.
4-20-21 6:05 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Fly the United States Flag at Half-Staff Immediately in Honor of Former Vice President Walter Frederick Mondale.
Mr. Mondale died April 19, 2021 at the age of 93.
Flags should remain at half staff until sunset on the day of the interment.
The date of interment has not been disclosed at this time.
THE CITY OF MENA FIRE DEPARTMENT ORGANIZES LOCAL FIRE SAFETY PROGRAM FOR STUDENTS
A major key in keeping our community fire safe is awareness and education! With this thought in mind, the Mena Fire Department is working with National Fire safety Council, Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, to provide fire prevention materials for our community through their Annual Fire Prevention Program for the children of Mena. These materials will be extremely effective in providing important information and valuable resources for our community.
Some of the materials we have carefully selected include activity manuals, brochures, booklets and other valuable teaching aids. A broad range of critical topics are addressed in these materials including How to Report a Fire: 9-1-1, Home Fire Safety, Crawl Low Below the Smoke, Smoke Alarms, Carbon Monoxide Detectors, Fire Extinguisher Awareness, Burn Prevention, and other community concerns.
The Mena Fire Department will distribute these materials through presentations, activities and programs in our community. “This information is a great tool to help children, parents, teachers, and our community better understand and respond to the challenges and education needed to help protect our citizens every day,” said Chief Steve Egger.
The department is asking for the support of local businesses, by donating to help cover the cost of the materials they will be distributing. Your tax-deductible contribution will be used to provide fire prevention education materials for our local community. All donations are appreciated! In recognition of their generosity , the name or business name will be listed on the materials distributed in our community. Nikki Murdock, state safety coordinator for National Fire Safety Council, Inc., will fully coordinate the program including materials, donations, and delivery, along with Chief Steve Egger. "I WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT THAT THIS IS THE ONLY EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM THAT THE MENA FIRE DEPARTMENT HAS ENDORSED THIS YEAR. IF YOU ARE CONTACTED BY A SIMILAR PROGRAM, PLEASE CALL ME IMMEDIATELY."
Our loyal partners in the business community will be receiving letters soon. Please accept my sincere thanks and appreciation for your consideration of this worthwhile project. Through our partnership, we will be able to work toward providing a safer community for all of our citizens.
If you or your business would like to become a partner or have any questions, or need additional information, please contact Chief Steve Egger at 479-394-1234.
4-20-21 11:35 a.m. KAWX.ORG
The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of April 12, 2021 – April 18, 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.
April 12, 2021
Report from complainant on Hwy 71N near Acorn of a financial issue between family members. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on 4th Street near Cove of residential burglary. Deputy responded.
Report of items flying off a trailer and striking a vehicle on Hwy 71S near Potter. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Hatfield of a theft. Deputy responded.
April 13, 2021
Report of an unattended death on Chancy Lane near Cove. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Cove of the theft of a shotgun and tools valued at $1,100.00. Deputy responded. Investigation continues.
Arrested was Candi Revels, 38, of Mena, on a Parole Hold.
Arrested was Brandy L. Crawford, 47, of Cove, on a Warrant for Possession of a Controlled Substance.
April 14, 2021
Report from complainant on Lott Lane near Ink of the theft of change valued at $200.00. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Hatfield of an individual refusing to leave the property led to the arrest of Brandon W. Rose, 23, of Mena, on a Charge of Criminal Trespass.
Report of a break-in at storage units near Potter. Deputy responded. Investigation continues.
Report of the discovery of a suspicious item led to a juvenile male being issued a Juvenile Citation for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Arrested was Mikel E. Thomas, 31, of Mena on a Warrant for Hot Checks/Personal Services and a Warrant for Failure to Comply.
April 15, 2021
Report of an altercation led to a Juvenile Citation for Disorderly Conduct being issued to a juvenile male. Juvenile was released to the custody of a parent/guardian.
Arrested was Keleb J. Rushin, 20, of Mena, on a Hold for Other Agency.
April 16, 2021
Report of a one vehicle accident on Hwy 375E near Dallas Valley. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Polk 32 near Cove of an individual refusing to leave the property led to the arrest of Nathaniel Shane James, 22, of Fort Smith, Arkansas on a Charge of Criminal Trespass.
Report of issues involving child custody. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Magnolia Ave near Mena of identity fraud.
April 17, 2021
Report from complainant on Polk 21 near Cove of a fraudulent credit card account being opened. Deputy responded.
Arrested by a trooper with the Arkansas State Police was Robbin M. Candelaria, 50, of Mena, on a Warrant for Possession of Firearms by Certain Persons.
April 18, 2021
Traffic stop on Polk 136 near Cove led to the discovery of suspicious items. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.
Report from complainant on Hwy 278 near Wickes of a stolen motorcycle. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked two vehicle accidents this week.
Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 18 Incarcerated Inmates, with 10 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.
4-19-21 6:07 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Mena Police Department reports for the week of April 11th through April 17th, 2021
Michael Thompson, 39, was charged with Failure to Signal, Possession of Meth with the Purpose to Deliver, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Britney Watts,23, was charged with Possession of Meth with the Purpose to Deliver and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Arrests followed a traffic stop on Highway 71.
A report of curfew violation was taken on De Queen Street.
A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken from Walmart.
A report of theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.
A report of criminal mischief was taken from Splash Car Wash.
Tanner Milham, 22, was served with a warrant at the police department.
A report of possession of a controlled substance was taken at the hospital.
Sabrina Stafford, 45, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Dallas Avenue.
Robert Wells, 33, was charged with Possession of a Schedule 6 Controlled Substance after a traffic stop on Highway 71.
Shawn Fender, 50, was served with three warrants after a disturbance call on Fairgrounds Road.
A report of domestic battery was taken at a residence on Evans Circle.
A report of theft of property was taken on Racetrack Road.
A report of disorderly conduct was taken at the Juvenile Probation Office.
Joey Adair, 50, was charged with DWI and Careless Driving after a traffic stop on Highway 71.
Chad Aucoin, 36, was served with a warrant at the police department.
A report of harassment was taken at a residence on Sherwood Avenue.
Christina Shaver, 30, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) at Walmart.
A theft report was taken from a person at Washburn’s.
A report of assault was taken at a residence on South Eve Street.
A report of a runaway juvenile was taken on Highway 71.
All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
4-19-21 10:07 a.m. KAWX.ORG
This week, the House passed several bills which will increase various tax credits and exemptions.
Those bills include the following:
HB1157 would double the income tax deduction for a teacher's qualified classroom expense from $250 to $500.
HB1513 creates an income tax credit for up to $3,500 for retired law enforcement officers who work cold cases for Arkansas State Police.
HB1196 would provide a sales and use tax exemption for water used by a poultry farm.
HB1054 allows for sales tax exemptions of isolated sales at special events.
HB1555 allows the Division of Heritage to issue up to $8 million in historic rehabilitation income tax credits each year. The current maximum amount of credits given is $4 million.
HB1596 amends the Sales Tax Exemption for Certain Machinery and Equipment to include items sold for the use of printing.
HB1314 increases the maximum credits allowed under the Water Resource Conservation and Development Incentive Act.
HB1160 would increase the sales tax exemption on used motor vehicles. Currently, used cars sold for under $4,000 are exempt from sales tax. This would increase the threshold to $7,500.
This week the House also advanced a proposed constitutional amendment. HJR1005 would require statewide ballot initiatives to receive 60% of the vote before becoming law. If approved by the Senate, HJR1005 would be placed on the ballot in November of 2022.
The General Assembly can put forth up to three proposed constitutional amendments every session. Although the resolutions must ultimately be approved by both chambers, the House and Senate each put forward one amendment. A 2/3 vote of both chambers is required before introducing a third amendment.
Our final order of business before adjourning the session will be the Revenue Stabilization Act (RSA). The RSA outlines the state budget for the following fiscal year. Once the RSA is filed, we will post it on our website.
You can find agendas and links to live streams of all House meetings at www.arkansashouse.org.
4-16-21 4:27 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: The Value of a Teacher
LITTLE ROCK – This week, I signed legislation that will increase the median salary of schoolteachers by $2,000 over the next two years. The raise is one way to show teachers we value their work, and this legislation was one of my top priorities. Senator Missy Irvin and Representative Bruce Cozart sponsored the bills that raised salaries.
As another priority, the 93rd General Assembly passed additional education-related laws including requiring a computer science credit to graduate from high school; increasing funding for school transportation; and requiring schools to teach Holocaust Education as well.
As an example of how the teacher salary bill works, the bill allocates nearly $800,000 to the El Dorado School District, where the money will have an immediate benefit. On Monday night, the El Dorado School Board voted to increase pay this fall by $2,000 for each of the 361 certified teachers and increasing the pay by 5.4 percent for each of the 241 classified employees.
Ashley Curtis, a teacher at El Dorado High School who also coaches ninth-grade basketball and track, is one of the teachers whose pay will increase. Ashley accompanied El Dorado Superintendent Jim Tucker to represent his district at the bill signing at the capitol on Monday. Ashley is a hard-working natural-born leader who is in the job for the right reasons, Superintendent Tucker said. But he can say that about every one of the teachers in the district, he added.
Another of our outstanding teachers and one of her first-grade students, Kamryn Gardner, has recently received national attention after Kamryn wrote a letter to a clothing manufacturer. Kamryn, who is seven-years-old, was more than a little put out upon discovering that the pockets on the front of her Old Navy jeans were strictly ornamental. She couldn’t put her hands or anything else in the sewn-on pockets.
In January, Ellie Jayne, Kamryn’s teacher at Evening Star Elementary in the Bentonville School District, taught her students how to write a persuasive letter. With the encouragement of her mother, Kim, who also teaches first grade, Kamryn put pencil to hand-writing paper to compose a letter
to the company. She wrote: “Dear Old Navy. … I want front pockets because I want to put my hands in them. … Would you consider making girls jeans with front pockets that are not fake?”
A month later, Old Navy sent to Kamryn two pairs of shorts and two pairs of jeans with real front pockets and a letter of appreciation from the Old Navy Kids Team.
Ellie Jayne and Ashley Curtis are the caliber of teachers we recruit and hope to retain with competitive salaries such as the raise the 92nd General Assembly passed in 2019 for new teachers and this year’s increase of the median salary.
We know these teachers are special, as Superintendent Tucker said, because they don’t choose their profession for the money. Ellie treasures the opportunity to teach her students to ask questions responsibly and respectfully. Ellie is rightfully proud of Kamryn, who reports that the first thing she put in one of her new pockets was her hand and one of her drawings.
Kamryn’s parents, Kim and Brandon, are not surprised that their outgoing daughter is not going to rest on her success. She thinks that next she’ll write to the president to tell him that “throwing trash on the ground, there should be a law that you can’t do that.”
Applying Lessons Learned to Improve Child Nutrition
Ensuring students have access to healthy, nutritious meals at school is a constant challenge in ordinary times. In an era of COVID-19, that challenge could easily seem insurmountable.
Our school nutrition professionals refused to back down to the pandemic. They deserve a thank you for all the incredible work they have done over the past year, and continue doing today. Their creativity, tenacity and commitment have ensured children in need have access to healthy food even with the extra difficulties brought on by COVID-19.
There are numerous stories, from schools across the country, of dedicated professionals going above and beyond to get nutritious meals to kids attending school, participating in remote learning or, in many cases, a mix of both. One story from our own backyard really puts the challenge in perspective.
In the midst of the pandemic, KATV profiled the team at Mayflower Elementary School, highlighting its efforts to meet the needs of students in these unprecedented times by taking extra care and attention to package each individual meal and deliver them to classrooms where most students eat lunch at their desks.
Then there’s the issue of feeding students who are participating remotely, a problem solved by packing up hundreds of meals for pick-up once a week. Every bag includes breakfast and lunch for each school day.
This process has been replicated in a similar manner across Arkansas and the country. As we begin working on a bipartisan bill to reauthorize our child nutrition programs, it’s critical that we listen to those who operate these programs to understand the lessons they have learned during the pandemic.
As Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, it is a priority of mine to see a child nutrition reauthorization bill cross the finish line.
It has been over 10 years since Congress has reauthorized our child nutrition programs. Without a doubt, some of them need to be modernized. The summer meals program, in particular, needs to be updated as many of the rules date back to the 1960s and are simply unworkable. It is hamstrung by guidelines which dictate a one-size-fits-all solution that requires children to travel to a central location and eat their meals together.
The pandemic has heightened the need for increased flexibility. All options—from off-site, grab-and-go models, to home delivery, to electronic benefits transfer—must be on the table.
Along with modernizing the programs themselves, we need to take a look at the federally-imposed meal pattern requirements. I continue to hear concerns from nutrition professionals, including the Arkansas School Nutrition Association, that the increasingly restrictive requirements for milk, sodium and whole grains are unworkable.
As schools face financial strains and a pandemic, the last thing we should add to their burdens is a mandate to implement strict meal pattern requirements for which products are not available. This is a concern that needs to be addressed in the short term, but it is equally important to find a long-term solution to give schools certainty.
School nutrition professionals feed kids healthy, nutritious meals each school day. I trust them to know their students and what will work in their schools. We should follow their guidance as we move forward to draft a bipartisan bill to reauthorize our child nutrition programs.
4-16-21 3:49 p.m. KAWX.ORG
State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague
April 16, 2021
LITTLE ROCK – The legislature has enacted numerous reforms to Arkansas election laws.
The Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs reviews all proposed legislation that address elections. So far this session, the committee has received 49 bills specifically affecting polling places, absentee ballots, voter fraud and the handling of elections.
A significant example is Senate Bill 644, which has already been approved by the Senate and is being considered by the House.
It creates a toll-free hotline to the state Attorney General’s office to receive complaints of any violations of election law. To knowingly file a false claim would be a Class A misdemeanor.
Within 45 days of an election, the Attorney General shall report all complaints to the legislature’s Joint Performance Review Committee (JPR). SB 644 would empower JPR to investigate allegations of election fraud.
JPR could schedule hearings to investigate allegations of election law. SB 644 empowers the committee to swear in witnesses and subpoena them to require their appearance. It could also subpoena records and documents.
The JPR committee may then refer the allegations to the state Board of Election Commissioners. The referral shall include testimony from the legislative hearings and a recommendation of possible penalties.
The recommended penalties include a letter of reprimand to a county clerk or other local election official. Also, the election official could be decertified during the next election cycle or runoff.
If legislators on JPR believe that violations are so severe that they threaten a county’s ability to conduct a free, fair and impartial election, then the committee could recommend that the state Board take over the election process in that county.
The state Board of Election Commissioners could be reimbursed for running the local election. The state could withhold enough money from the county’s turnback funds to pay for election costs.
SB 644 authorizes similar steps to address voter registration violations. If the state Board finds a violation of voter registration laws, it may issue a letter of reprimand or impose a fine of up to $1,000 against the local election official and have the official decertified.
In related news, the Senate approved HB 1715 to require county clerks to provide the county board of election commissioners with a daily count of absentee ballot applications.
HB 1715 directs county clerks to compare signatures on applications for absentee ballots with signatures on the applicant’s voter registration document. If the signatures don’t match, the clerk will not send an absentee ballot to the applicant.
Both the Senate and House have passed HB 1803 to authorize the state Board of Election Commissioners to take corrective action when it uncovers violations of election laws.
The Senate also passed SB 620 to restrict electioneering at polling places and SB 498, which changes the course of action when someone files an election law complaint to a county board of election commissioners. Instead of forwarding the complaint to the county clerk and prosecuting attorney, the county board shall send it to the state Board of Election Commissioners.
The Committee on State Agencies endorsed HB 1517 to set up online voter registration. However, it failed on the first vote in the Senate. It received 18 votes but needed 24 for approval.
4-16-21 9:30 a.m. KAWX.ORG
There will be a food distribution Wednesday April 28th at the Polk County Fairgrounds from 10:00am until 1:00 pm. ARVAC is still following all safety precautions, therefore this will be a drive through only distribution.
ARVAC, Inc. will issue commodities at Polk County Fair Grounds on Polk Road 43 Mena, AR on Wednesday April 28th, 2021 from 10:00am until 1:00 p.m.
Due to Covid-19 Concerns this will be a drive through only distribution.
Listed are the income guidelines, family size and monthly income below:
Each additional family member
The above income guidelines are based on 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
Add $468.00 for each additional family member. You cannot pick up commodities for more than two households.
Rules for acceptance and participation in the program are the same for everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, or handicap.
For additional information, contact Tim Riley, Community Programs Coordinator, at (479)968-7019 or (479)229-4861.
4-15-21 4:23 p.m. KAWX.ORG
The April meeting of the Mena School Board was conducted on Tuesday the 13th in the district administration building.
The initial item on the agenda was a resolution to adopt portions of a Polk County Disaster Mitigation Plan that applies to the Mena School District. That resolution passed with no discussion.
Next Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lee Smith updated the board on the status of ESSER funds. ESSER 1 was for the mitigation of Covid 19. ESSER 2 was for the recovery of lost learning and the district is still waiting on guidelines on how ESSER 3 funds can be used.
The end of year plan was next on the agenda. Specifically the district’s policy on the wearing of masks to mitigate the spread of Covid 19. After much discussion and input from each member the board voted to modify the mask policy. Much more discussion followed on what those modifications should be. This concluded with a motion to highly recommend the use of masks as an optional method of mitigation. After the motion was seconded the board approved and the new policy will take effect immediately.
Dr. Lee Smith then updated those in attendance on the status of an E-sports program. The board had approved the creation of this program previously and Smith had been approached by those involved to take the next step in making it come to fruition.
Dr. Smith then yielded the floor to Bridgette Buckley who would update the board on academic options for the 2021-2022 school year. Two options will be available to students. That being onsite learning and the Polk County Virtual Academy. Current blended students have already been contacted by Email and are asked to respond as soon as possible if they have not already done so.
The approval of financial reports passed with no discussion.
In personnel the board accepted the resignation of Shannon Miller from LDE and Kristy Cogburn from her position as choir director at MMS and MHS.
Alicia Farringer was reassigned to MMS RTI/Interventionist
The board approved the hiring of Hannah Crafton and Carrie Bland at LDE. Amber Labertew as Interventionist at MHS. Timothy Walston as counselor and career coach at MHS and finally James Waldon as secondary math at MHS.
Before adjourning, Dr. Smith spoke on new legislation concerning the literacy program and the formation of a new literacy committee that is tasked with evaluating what is offered and filling any gaps in the program.
4-14-21 10:42 a.m. KAWX.ORG
The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of April 5, 2021 – April 11, 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.
April 5, 2021
Report from complainant on Dalton Lane near Vandervoort of a domestic disturbance. Deputy responded. Complainant refused to press charges.
Report from complainant on Polk 71 near Ink of the theft of a truck and an engine and transmission valued at $5,500.00. Deputy responded. Investigation continues.
Report from complainant on Harris Road near Hatfield of the theft of rental property. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.
Report from complainant on Spencer Lane near Board Camp of problems with a tenant. Deputy responded.
Arrested was Kobe G. Hogan, 22, of Mena, on a Warrant for Battery 3rd Degree and a Warrant for Criminal Mischief 2nd Degree.
April 6, 2021
Report of an altercation on North Eve Street near Mena. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.
Report of a structure fire on Polk 26 near Hatfield. Deputy responded.
April 7, 2021
Report from complainant on Polk 185 near Ink of the theft of a metal detector valued at $150.00. Deputy responded.
April 8, 2021
Report of threats being made by a juvenile male led to a Juvenile Citation for Terroristic Threatening being issued. Juvenile was released to the custody of a parent/guardian.
Report from complainant on Rogers Drive near Cove of identity fraud.
Arrested was Loyd D. Bolton, 50, of Mena, on a Charge of Domestic Battery 3rd Degree.
April 9, 2021
Report from complainant on Trailers Inn Lane near Cove of being threatened. Deputy responded.
Report of an individual impersonating a government official. Deputy responded. Investigation continues.
Report from complainant on Polk 67 near Big Fork of ATV’s driving on private property. Deputy responded.
Arrested was Christopher L. Chesser, 35, of Wickes, on a Warrant for Domestic Battery 3rd Degree and a Body Attachment Warrant.
April 10, 2021
Report of a vehicle accident on Hwy 71N near Mena. Deputy responded.
Report of a fire on Polk 58 near Board Camp. Deputy responded.
Report of vandalism led to Juvenile Citations being issued to two juvenile males. Juveniles were released to the custody of a parent/guardian.
Arrested was Jimmy L. Wright, 35, of Mena, on three Warrants for Criminal Contempt, a
Warrant for Assault in the 1st Degree and Harassment, a Warrant for Probation Violation and a Body Attachment Warrant.
April 11, 2021
Report from complainant on Polk 257 near Wickes of a break-in. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Hwy 88E near Ink of trespassing. Deputy responded.
Report of a disturbance on Polk 26 near Hatfield. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked no vehicle accidents this week.
Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 18 Incarcerated Inmates, with 8 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.
4-12-21 3:39 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Mena Police Department reports for the week of April 4th through April 10th, 2021
A report of drinking in public was taken after a traffic stop on Highway 71.
A report of criminal mischief was taken from Splash Car Wash.
A report of breaking or entering and criminal mischief, that occurred in the parking lot of the Mena hospital, was taken from a walk-in complainant.
Clayton Barton, 18, was charged with Speeding and Endangering the Welfare of a Minor after a traffic stop on Highway 71.
Joshua Smith, 29, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Janssen Avenue.
A report of disorderly conduct and criminal mischief was taken after a disturbance call on Reeves Avenue.
A report of a disturbance was taken at a residence on Bert Street.
A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken from Walmart.
A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken from Walmart.
A report of a disturbance was taken at a residence on Dickson Road.
A report of criminal trespass was taken from Walmart.
Cara Holliday, 34, was charged with Possession of Schedule 2 Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Highway 71.
A juvenile was charged with Domestic Battery 3rd Degree after a call to a residence on Marian Street.
A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken from Walmart.
Julia Cureton, 45, was served with three warrants at the police department.
Nevada Woodruff, 31, was charged with Possession of a Schedule 2 Controlled Substance and served with a warrant after a traffic stop on highway 71.
A report of theft was taken from a business on Sherwood Avenue.
Robert Morris, 20, was charged with Possession of a Schedule 6 Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop on East Boundary Road.
Gerald Sanders, 49, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) after a complaint from Walmart.
Cody Dees, 35, was served with two warrants after a crash report was taken on Bethesda Road.
A theft of property (shoplifting) report was taken from Coast to Coast.
Veronica Maddox, 23, was charged with Criminal Trespass after a complaint from Walmart.
All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
4-12-21 3:17 p.m. KAWX.ORG
By the end of the 13th week of the 2021 Regular Session, more than 600 bills were signed into law.
This week, the House voted in favor of a bill temporarily changing the deadline for filing and paying state income tax. SB593 extends the deadline this year to May 17, aligning the date with the recent extension issued for filing federal income tax.
The also House voted in favor of the following bills addressing law enforcement, mental health, alcohol sales, and education:
HB1865-This bill requires all law enforcement officers in the state to complete annual training related to a law enforcement officer's duty to intervene if the law enforcement officer observes the use of excessive force by another law enforcement officer.
HB1680-This bill states law enforcement agencies must assist a law enforcement officer involved in a critical incident in obtaining services that may help the officer recover from psychological effects.
HB1689-This bill will create an Arkansas Legislative Study on Mental and Behavioral Health.
SB27-This bill requires the Arkansas Department of Health to ensure that the Suicide Prevention Hotline employs individuals who have experience working with veterans or are veterans.
Alcohol Sales/Service Industry
HB1748-This bill states that a referendum election to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday may be called by a city or county if the governing body adopts a resolution by a two-thirds majority vote.
SB479-This bill states that a restaurant with a valid alcoholic beverage permit from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division (ABC) may expand its outdoor dining availability with approval from the municipality or county's local government zoning authority, which it is located without obtaining prior approval from the ABC. This bill also allows restaurants to remit sales taxes in quarterly payments rather than monthly for the next year.
SB160-This bill states that in the 2022-2023 school year, Holocaust education shall be taught in all public schools in a manner that generates an understanding of the causes, course, and effects of the Holocaust.
SB524-This bill states that by August 1, 2022, each public school district and open-enrollment public charter school in the state shall prepare a three-year teacher and administrator recruitment and retention plan. The plan should include goals for recruitment and retention of teachers and administrators of minority races and ethnicities who increase diversity among the district staff and, at a minimum, reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the district's students.
SB394-This bill states that a public school district or open-enrollment charter school shall conduct a comprehensive school safety audit every three years to assess the safety, security, accessibility, and emergency preparedness of district buildings and grounds in collaboration with local law enforcement, fire, and emergency management officials.
HB1794-This bill creates the Licensed Practical Nurse Pathway Pilot Program. It states that the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, in consultation with the Division of Higher Education, shall establish and implement a program in which high school students may enroll in undergraduate courses required to obtain a diploma or certificate of completion as a licensed practical nurse by the date on which the public school student graduates or within a reasonable frame of time after the public school student graduates.
HB1701-This bill states that a teacher of a K-12 science class at a public school or open-enrollment public charter school may teach creationism as a theory.
The House convenes again on Monday at 1 pm. You can find a complete list of agendas and links to live streams at www.arkansashouse.org.
4-9-21 5:06 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Striving for Positive Outcomes for Children of Abuse
LITTLE ROCK – April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. We all understand that the best way to prevent the abuse of children is to strengthen families. Today I’d like to share the story of state employees whose intervention stabilized a family and allowed a mother to keep her children.
Too often, help for abused children arrives too late. In Mountain Home, a call from police set the system in motion, and DHS caseworkers from the Division of Children and Family Services came to a family’s aid before the family spiraled out of control.
When police arrested a woman for driving under the influence for a second straight night, they contacted DHS staff to alert them that the woman’s children were not safe with her. The staff reacted quickly and found foster care for the children. With the support of the DHS caseworkers, the mother successfully completed substance-abuse treatment. Three months later, the DHS employees reunited the mother with her children. With the help of the caseworkers at DHS, the mother had established a support system and changed the future for her family. The case has now been closed.
The happy ending to this story was possible because our DHS employees are well trained and compassionate. But many stories don’t end well, as the First Lady has seen firsthand. What she saw “captured her heart,” as she says, which is why she supports the Children Advocacy Centers of Arkansas.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve heard much about the frontline workers. In family issues, school teachers and pastors are among the frontline workers because they interact with children on a regular basis.
Since I declared a health emergency more than a year ago, the child abuse hotline has received over 3,100 calls. That is almost fifty percent fewer than the number of reports the previous year. But that’s not because there is less abuse of children.
During times when children spend more time at home, whether it’s during a rare health crisis or every summer when they are out of school, abuse goes undetected, says Elizabeth Pulley, director of Children Advocacy Centers of Arkansas. That’s because professionals such as teachers and pastors who are required to report suspected abuse aren’t interacting with the children. That means the rest of us must remain more vigilant in observing the young people we encounter.
The welfare of children is a high priority for the First Lady and me, both personally and in my role as governor. My office has a liaison who is in daily communication with the various agencies and organizations that oversee the protection of our children. We have a great partnership with the Department of Human Services and Division of Children and Family Services. We want to prevent abuse rather than react to it, as DHS staff was able to do in Mountain Home. Our hope and goal is that all the stories can have a happy ending.
America’s Favorite Pastime Should Unify Rather Than Divide
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sports embodied the optimism we all shared for better days ahead. Now, unfortunately, we are seeing just how eager some are to use them as a tool to advance agendas and narratives that should stay in the realm of politics and as far removed as possible from the places we go to for entertainment, camaraderie and inspiration. Major League Baseball’s recent decision to relocate the All-Star game away from Georgia is just the latest example, and it demonstrates how this trend continues to evolve and escalate.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In Arkansas, we can look to the past for proof that sports are much better used as a unifying force than a vehicle for division and political strife.
As fans head back to major league ballparks, it’s appropriate to remember our state’s unique role in shaping this celebrated pastime. Long before the Diamond Hogs were a top-ranked team, Major League Baseball team owners found the state a prime location to condition players and get ready for the upcoming season, launching the tradition of spring training.
As the first baseball franchise to undertake a preseason residence in 1886, the Chicago White Stockings owner considered several locations before eventually landing on Hot Springs. Several factors influenced this decision, most notably the mild winter climate that allowed for outdoor training and the city’s waters purported to have curative properties that were ideal for recovery.
More than 100 future Baseball Hall of Famers trained in the city at one point during their careers including Babe Ruth. The Sultan of Swat demonstrated his well-known slugging skills during spring training in 1918, hitting what has become recognized as the first 500-foot home run.
After major league teams left to train in warmer locales like Arizona and Florida, the Negro Leagues adopted the training grounds and established Hot Springs as a premier location for African-American baseball players to play and train. Its presence was so significant that an additional ballpark was constructed to accommodate the number of teams playing in the community.
The Historic Baseball Trail in Hot Springs celebrates the community’s distinctive place in the game’s past. The stops along the route take us back to the locations where baseball legends honed their skills, dazzled fans on the diamond and launched the spring training tradition.
Baseball is supposed to bring us together, not divide us along political or cultural lines. It’s time we got back to that and rejected efforts to use sports as a wedge to alienate and polarize Americans. Because of our state’s particular history with and connection to what is still referred to as America’s favorite pastime, Arkansans know this is still possible. As a new season gets underway, we must leave politics on the campaign trail and out of ballparks, stadiums and arenas that still hold the promise of uniting and captivating us in ways that transcend backgrounds and beliefs.
4-9-21 4:10 p.m. KAWX.ORG
State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague
April 9, 2021
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas became the first state in the nation to prohibit physicians from performing gender transition procedures on minors, either through surgery or hormone therapy.
Sponsors of the bill said that children needed protection from experimentation. They said that minors are too young to make such important decisions as choosing a sex change, which has long-term health effects that can be irreversible.
The governor vetoed the legislation, House Bill 1570, saying that it put government between physicians and young people and their parents. He also noted that some young people in Arkansas are currently undergoing a gender change and will not be allowed continued treatment.
The legislature voted to override the veto. The Senate vote was 25-to-8 and in the House it was 71-to-24.
HB 1570 is one of several bills this legislative session that affect transgender people.
Act 461 effectively prohibits transgender boys who identify as girls from competing in sports. It allows a civil action by girls who are deprived of athletic opportunities because the school allowed a boy to compete instead. In the lawsuit, the girl could seek monetary damages for any psychological, emotional or physical harm.
A similar measure, Senate Bill 450, has been approved by the Senate. It requires schools to designate their varsity sports programs for girls, boys or coed. If a boy is allowed to play a girls sports, the girl can file a lawsuit to stop it, and the school could lose its public funding.
In other news the Senate approved SB 622, a version of what is has been labelled as a “hate crimes” bill. It mandates longer prison sentences for violent offenders who target someone who is in a “recognizable and identifiable group or class who share mental, physical, biological, cultural, political, or religious beliefs or characteristics.”
Under SB 622, offenders would not be eligible for parole until they have served at least 80 percent of their original sentence if they purposely chose a victim because of the victim’s class or group.
Prosecutors would have to ask for delayed release during the initial trial. The judge or jury would determine whether the offender’s release should be delayed because of the aggravating circumstances.
According to the FBI, in 2019 there were nine crimes committed in Arkansas whose causes were related to bias. However, not all of the state’s law enforcement agencies reported to the FBI.
Also last week, the Senate approved HB 1614 to raise teacher salaries in districts where they earn less than the state average. Disparities in salaries is one of the major obstacles in recruiting and retaining good teachers in small, rural and isolated districts.
According to state education officials, the gap in salaries between the richest and the poorest school districts is more than $21,000 a year.
HB 1614 creates a special “equalization” fund that will start with about $25 million, which will be distributed to schools that now pay less than the state average teacher salary.
It’s estimated that the money will increase average teacher salaries in those districts by about $2,000 over the next two years. Last year the average teacher salary for Arkansas was $49,822.
Over the next two years, the goal of HB 1614 is to bring the average salary up to $51,822.
4-9-21 10:46 a.m. KAWX.ORG
“Greater Tuna” Presented April 16-18 at OLT
Tickets are now available to purchase for Ouachita Little Theatre’s production of “Greater Tuna.” The OLT office located adjacent to the theatre on Main Street is open on Fridays from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM for you to purchase advance tickets. You can also use your season ticket for admission or buy the tickets at the door for $10 each.
“Greater Tuna” is a very popular comedy about a fictional tiny town in Texas. The wacky inhabitants of Tuna include men, women, children, and even 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!”
CDC guidelines remain in effect for this production, so seating capacity will be limited to enable social distancing. Face coverings are required, but may be removed when consuming concessions. Friday and Saturday performances on April 16 & 17 will be at 7:30 PM, and the Sunday matinee will be held on April 18 at 2:30 PM.
The OLT board is monitoring the COVID19 situation carefully and hopes to return to normal seating and mask optional offerings in the very near future. In the meantime, OLT thanks their patrons for the attendance and support they have offered to keep the doors open at Ouachita Little Theatre!
4-8-21 4:25 p.m. KAWX.ORG
The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of March 29, 2021 – April 4, 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 29, 2021
Request for a welfare check on Polk 35 near Hatfield. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Cemetery Road near Hatfield of an incident where an argument occurred. Deputy responded.
Arrested by an officer with the Drug Task Force was Candi Revels, 38, of Mena, on a Warrant for Possession of Meth or Cocaine.
Arrested was Kenneth R. Fry, 49, of Cove, on a Charge of Possession of Schedule I or II, a Warrant for Delivery of Meth or Cocaine, and a Warrant for Failure to Comply.
Arrested was Jearl E. Wilkinson, 36, of Cove on a Warrant for Battery 3rd Degree.
Arrested was Freddy D. Odell, 39, of Talihina, Oklahoma on Charges of Possession of Firearm by Certain Persons and A Hold for Other Agency.
March 30, 2021
Report from complainant on Rodgers Drive near Cove of a possible burglary. Deputy responded.
Arrested by a trooper with the Arkansas State Police was Clark F. Cude Jr., 46, of Mena on Charges of DWI, Faulty Equipment, and Public Intoxication.
Arrested was Floyd W. Head, 68, of Cove on a Charge of Failure to Appear and a Warrant for Delivery of Meth or Cocaine.
March 31, 2021
Report of a reckless driver on Hwy 71S near Mena. Deputy responded.
April 1, 2021
Report from complainant on Polk 286 near Hatfield of a domestic altercation led to the arrest of Mark A. Warriner, 58, of Hatfield, on a Charge of Domestic Battery 3rd Degree.
Report of a disturbance on Polk 87 near Ink led to the arrest of Rodney L. Goff, 59, of Mena, on a Charge of Disorderly Conduct.
Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Hatfield of being threatened by an unknown individual. Deputy responded.
April 2, 2021
Report from complainant on Polk 31 near Cove of the theft of an Ipad valued at $200.00. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Polk 7 near Wickes of identity fraud.
Report from complainant on Polk 295 near Hatfield of the destruction of rental property. Deputy responded.
April 3, 2021
Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Hatfield of the unauthorized use of a vehicle. Deputy responded.
Report of a reckless driver on Hwy 71 near Mena led to the arrest of Marsha D. Denton, 37, of Mena, on two Warrants for Failure to Appear, three Warrants for Failure to Comply, a Warrant
for Possession of Schedule III and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Charges of DWI, Driving on a Suspended Driver’s License, and Careless and Prohibited Driving.
Report of a disturbance on Bunch Road near Wickes. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.
April 4, 2021
Report of a verbal domestic on Hwy 278E near Wickes. Deputy responded.
Report of a stalled vehicle on Hwy 71S near Hatfield. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Polk 24 near Cove of the theft of $400.00 cash. Deputy responded.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked one vehicle accident this week.
Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 19 Incarcerated Inmates, with 8 Inmates
currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.
4-5-21 4:47 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Mena Police Department reports for the week of March 28th through April 3rd, 2021:
Jimmy Don Davis, 45, was charged with Commercial Burglary, Breaking or Entering, and Obstructing Government Operations at Reine Street and Southerland Avenue.
Jimmy Don Davis was served with five warrants at the Polk County Jail.
A report of harassment and violation of a protection order was taken from a walk-in complainant.
A report of a missing person was taken from the juvenile office and contact was made at the Lime Tree Inn. The juvenile was charged with Possession of a Schedule 6 Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Also, Elijah Williams, 19, was charged with Possession of a Schedule 6 Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Juvenile.
A report of leaving the scene of an accident was taken at Murphy USA.
A report of child abuse was taken from the Mena Regional Heath System.
A report of harassment was taken from a walk-in complainant.
Jakki Hellyer, 28, was served with three warrants at the Executive Inn.
A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken at Atwood’s.
Anastasia Jennings, 36, was served with a warrant, and James Jennings, 41, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Highway 71.
Matthew Parnell, 28, was served with a warrant on Highway 71.
A probation/Parole search was conducted in a room at the Budget Inn. Tonya Morrison, 48, was charged with Possession of methamphetamine with purpose to deliver, Possession of marijuana with purpose to deliver, Possession of drug paraphernalia, and Endangering the welfare of a minor second degree. Candi Revels, 38, was charged with Possession of methamphetamine with purpose to deliver, Possession of marijuana with purpose to deliver, and Possession of drug paraphernalia. Mario Caramez, 39, was charged with Possession of marijuana, and Possession of drug paraphernalia.
All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
4-5-21 12:18 p.m. KAWX.ORG
Close to 500 bills have been signed into law so far during the 2021 Regular Session.
There are still several hundred bills making their way through the legislative process.
In the 12th week of the session, the House passed the following bills regarding economic development, education, and elections:
HB1788-This bill would allow a municipal improvement district to enter a partnership with a private sector company to provide broadband internet service.
SB163-This bill creates the Arkansas Military Affairs Council Act and establishes the Military Affairs Grant Program. The council will work with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to promote and support military installations for state and local economic development.
HB1264-This bill creates the Small Town Economic Development Act. This bill amends the exemptions to the licensing requirements for architects to buildings whose fair market value does not exceed $250,000. The current exemption is for buildings under $100,000.
SB470-This bill establishes the Online Marketplace Consumer Inform Act. It would require an online market facilitator to collect information, including business name, address, email, and phone number. High volume sellers would be required to have this information accessible to consumers on their website.
SB389-This bill would require public schools to provide parents prior written notification and an opportunity to inspect materials related to sex education, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
SB349-This bill would adjust funding for public schools that offer curriculum not aligned with the Science of Reading. This bill also directs the Secretary of the Department of Education to hire an Education Ombudsman to assist the division in enforcement.
SB161-This bill would allow public schools to offer a hunting safety course as part of their curriculum.
SB397-This bill directs the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a Higher Education Consumer Guide for prospective students and parents.
HB1237-This bill states that at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, a public school district board of directors may elect to implement an alternate school calendar. An alternate school calendar shall consist of at least 1,068 hours of instructional time. Currently, state law requires 178 days of instructional time. This law gives schools more flexibility on a start date and length of a school day.
HB1671-This bill establishes the Arkansas Student-Athlete Publicity Rights Act. It allows student athletes in higher education to enter into a contract and receive compensation for the commercial use of the student athlete’s name, image, and likeness.
HB1446-This bill allows children of military families to be eligible for the Succeed Scholarship.
HB1715-This bill amends Arkansas law concerning absentee ballots. It states that the county clerk or other designated election official providing materials to qualified voters shall not distribute unsolicited absentee ballot applications or unsolicited absentee ballots to electors. It also goes on to say that the county clerk shall provide the county board of election commissioners with a daily count of absentee applications received.
HB1803-This bill would give the state Board of Election Commissioners the authority to institute corrective actions for violations of election and voter registration laws.
SB496-This bill amends the law concerning special elections. It states special elections would be held on the second Tuesday in March, May, August or November in presidential election years and the second Tuesday in February, May, August or November in non-presidential election years.
The House will convene on Monday at 1 pm. You can find schedules and links to live streams at www.arkansashouse.org
4-2-21 3:55p.m. KAWX.ORG
Delivering a Lifeline to Small Businesses
Congress took aggressive action last year to respond to the public health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a matter of days, Republicans and Democrats came together to unanimously pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This historic bill delivered immediate assistance to employees and families and created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to support small businesses. The innovative response helped tackle the economic challenges facing small businesses by keeping employees on payroll and covering the cost of rent and utilities. The PPP lifeline saved millions of jobs across the country.
It’s now been one year since the Small Business Administration (SBA) implemented the PPP. The efforts to help this program succeed and the support it continues to provide are a bright spot in an otherwise challenging year. The PPP has delivered more than 8.7 million loans to small businesses totaling approximately $734 billion in relief nationwide. In Arkansas, it has enabled more than 64,000 small businesses to maintain operations.
Given the number of businesses it has helped, it should be no surprise Congress has continued bipartisan cooperation to improve its longevity, simplify the loan forgiveness paperwork and amend eligibility requirements to save more businesses. Participation continues to grow as a result of changes Congress has approved, including the recent extension of the program and the expanded eligibility authorized in the COVID-19 relief bill passed last December.
The legislation extended PPP eligibility to local news outlets — an improvement I advocated for due to the crucial need for local news, especially during the public health crisis. Ensuring our hometown newspapers, television affiliates and radio stations have access to these loans helps keep Arkansans informed and writers and reporters employed. The addition of this provision was a great relief for thousands of newspapers and television and radio stations. Officials with the Arkansas Broadcasters Association said enabling local broadcasters to access PPP funds will allow news organizations to continue to “be there to record and encourage the revival of civic life.”
As we commemorate the one-year anniversary of the PPP, I will be meeting with small business owners who received funding through this program to hear how it has impacted their operations. I’ll also be sharing its influence on Arkansas businesses on my social media channels, where you’ll hear from small business owners and managers about how vital the funds were to maintaining operations. For example, one Arkansas radio station promotions director explained how she wanted to ensure job security for her employees. “We have families that live right here that depend on us.” The PPP helped keep the radio station’s staff on payroll and keep the team together.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are as diverse as the customers they serve and are the heartbeat and lifeline to towns large and small across our state. COVID-19 may have interrupted their operations, but small business owners responded with resilience. I am proud of the PPP’s creation and its role in providing help for many Arkansans struggling to survive and recover during these difficult times.
4-2-21 3:48p.m. KAWX.ORG
Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Rounding the Bend with COVID
Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
LITTLE ROCK – This time last year, I knew COVID-19 was a serious threat, but I was confident if we pulled together as a state and nation, then we could over time defeat the virus.
Now we seem to have rounded the bend with the development of three effective vaccines. I am thankful to see the dramatic decline in the number of deaths, the number of new and active COVID-19 cases, and the number of those in a hospital. I’m also grateful that more than 250,000 Arkansans have recovered.
The pandemic isn’t over, but I am hopeful that the worst of it has passed. To be cautious, we have extended the emergency declaration for Arkansas for sixty more days. I have lifted the mask mandate, but businesses still may require employees and customers to mask up, and I encourage you to respect others. Arkansans have responded well to our vaccination program, but we need even more of you to get a vaccination. That is our path out of the pandemic.
Today, I’d like to share the story of 23-year-old Maleek Caton, one of the many Arkansans who has survived COVID-19.
Maleek had just started his senior year at Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge when he tested positive for COVID on Labor Day weekend. He was a member of Williams’ wrestling team and was ranked 7th nationally in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. He had spent the summer of 2019 working construction and was in the best condition of his life. He went home to North Little Rock on Tuesday after Labor Day, and by Wednesday, he was in intensive care on one-hundred-percent oxygen. He felt as if had glue in his lungs when he breathed. He refused the doctors’ recommendation to go on a ventilator. He was in the hospital for a week and a half and went home with oxygen. In that short time, he had lost the bulk and strength he had added over the summer. Doctors told his mother, Glenda, that Maleek came as close to dying as possible without actually dying.
Maleek returned to school in November to finish the semester and resume training. In January and February, he won most of his matches and tournaments on his way to the national tournament in Park City, Kansas, where he won three matches and lost three to finish in eighth place.
Although he didn’t win the tournament, Maleek did enjoy a sweet moment on the mat in Kansas.
His opponent was Ethan Bunch, a wrestler who had beaten him in each of their three previous college matches. But in their fourth meeting, which was his last match of the tournament as well as the last match of his career, Maleek beat Ethan seventeen-to-nothing.
Maleek’s story is miraculous, and so is the story of every person who recovered. And as spring arrives, I ask everyone over 16 to get their vaccination. This is how we turn spring into a wonderful summer and fall.
State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague
April 2, 2021
LITTLE ROCK – The legislature has approved a broad reform of the laws governing water providers, a measure that sponsors have been working on for the past four years.
Many of the provisions in Senate Bill 386 are the result of a task force that looked into the financial status of water systems in Arkansas, as well as the condition of their infrastructure.
The task force’s findings were surprising. For example, a majority of the systems are “upside down” financially. In 2017 a national organization of civil engineers rated the system of Arkansas water providers with a D plus, in part because of the deteriorating state of pipes and distribution lines.
In addition to the safety factor, lack of reliable water service is a potential barrier to economic development.
The need to upgrade our water systems was highlighted recently when hundreds of thousands of Texas residents went without water due to freezing temperatures.
SB 386 designates the state Natural Resources Commission and the Health Departments as the leading state agencies with oversight over the entire state’s water distribution.
Local control is important, but in many cases water systems are too small to act effectively, because they have relatively few ratepayers and the cost of a major project would be unaffordable.
SB 386 defines when a local system is in fiscal distress. It requires all systems to conduct a fiscal audit every five years to accurately determine the true cost of operating the system, including the cost of long-term maintenance and debt service. Systems must set rates high enough to meet those costs.
Local providers in fiscal distress shall submit improvement plans to the Natural Resources Commission, which can modify the plan if necessary.
The bill sets out the procedures for a city to provide water outside its current boundaries, and takes into account the fact that some cities do not wish to do so without annexation.
SB 386 requires a majority of the board members of a water provider to take at least eight hours of training. If they don’t do so the system would face penalties.
The Senate approved a major reform of the lottery scholarship system, in SB 584. Its goal is to ensure the long-term financial stability of lottery scholarships, so that families can budget for higher education with greater certainty.
It prioritizes which scholarship programs will be funded. It also sets a deadline for the introduction of any future legislation that would add scholarship programs.
They would have to be filed during the first month of the legislative session, in order to give lawmakers sufficient time to gauge their fiscal impact.
Bills that would change eligibility requirements also would have to be filed by the deadline, because they would change the number of students who qualify for a scholarship and thus those bills have a fiscal impact on the lottery scholarship program.
For the first six months of the current fiscal year, the state lottery has generated about $46.7 million for college scholarships. In a typical year, about 30,000 students receive a scholarship.
4-2-21 6:50 a.m. KAWX.ORG