KAWX News Archives for 2021-04

Governor Asa Hutchinsons Weekly Radio Adress: Successes in the session

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Successes in the Session
 
 
Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE
 
LITTLE ROCK – This week the 93rd General Assembly concluded its business, and today I’d like to talk about a few of the success stories from the legislative session.
First, I appreciate the leadership of Senate Pro Tem Jimmy Hickey of Texarkana and Speaker Matthew Shepherd of El Dorado. Their steady hand and leadership helped us to navigate through some of the more contentious debates.
One bill that created some last-minute controversy was Senate Bill 298, which was known as the Arkansas Sovereignty Act. This bill was designed to push back against the federal government for what many Arkansans believe will be a new round of gun-control measures. I support that message, and I am a defender of the 2nd Amendment. But the bill would have penalized state and local law enforcement officers for cooperating with federal agencies; it also would have jeopardized hundreds of cases pending in federal court. In other words, public safety would be compromised, and the bill was clearly unconstitutional.
For those reasons I vetoed the bill. As a result, everyone worked together to draft a new bill that Representative Jeff Wardlaw and Senator Missy Irvin sponsored. The new bill sends the same message to Washington that we will not accept unconstitutional burdens on our 2nd Amendment rights. But the bill protects our public safety needs and will not put law enforcement at risk. This was House Bill 1957, and I have now signed the bill into law.
Now, let me talk about some additional successes in the session. 
One of our biggest wins was passage of the Revenue Stabilization Act. The act, known as the RSA, was implemented in the 1940s and requires the state to maintain a balanced budget. Passage of the RSA is an annual exercise in which legislators prioritize spending for the next fiscal year.
As part of the RSA this year, our reserve funds continue to build. We have consistently increased our surplus funds from zero when I took office to the current $210 million. And with the new budget adopted  in this session of the General Assembly, I expect those reserve funds to grow to more than $700 million. As Senator Jonathan Dismang said, the state has never been in better financial condition. Our reserve funds are like a long-term savings account that allows us to weather unexpected economic setbacks.
Other bills we passed include a $2,000 increase in the median salary for school teachers; a reduction in the number of years of service for state police officers to retire from thirty years to twenty-eight years; a requirement that Arkansas students take at least one computer science course to graduate; and that every high school employ at least one certified computer science teacher.    
As you can see, we had a very busy and successful legislative session.
 
4-30-21 5:50 p.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozeman's Weekly Column

Supporting our Unsung Heroes: Military Spouses

 

Military spouses are the unsung heroes in our communities and the Armed Forces. These men and women who serve alongside their loved ones are asked to move away from family and friends to support our country’s readiness at home, during deployments and in mission transitions. We have equal responsibility to care for their needs as we do for those who wear America’s uniform. Demonstrating our commitment to this cause is critical, and advancing policies that expand employment opportunities and benefits is one way to do just that.

 

Too often, military spouses are forced to make professional sacrifices in support of their service members. A 2017 Department of Defense survey found their rate of unemployment stood at nearly 25 percent. The National Military Spouse Network reported earlier this year that number hasn’t decreased. One hurdle to reversing that trend is the red tape for professions requiring state licenses and certifications.

 

Military spouses who work in fields that require professional licenses are forced to spend time and money to obtain licensure each time they move to a new state under military orders. I’m working to make it more convenient and less expensive by championing the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act. This bipartisan legislation would give military spouses with valid professional licenses in one state reciprocity in the state where their spouse is currently serving.
 

We can be proud of the recent efforts in Arkansas to reduce this barrier. I encourage Congress to follow our commendable example and offer military spouses nationwide this small, but meaningful change to make their lives easier.

 

Just as importantly, we must continue to ensure we fulfill the promises made to military families whose loved one won’t return home because they have made the ultimate sacrifice. 

 

During a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing in late April, I shared the experience of Little Rock’s Sharri Briley. Her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Donovan Briley, was part of an elite military unit known as the Night Stalkers that used Black Hawk helicopters to transport special operations forces into combat. Deployed to Somalia with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Briley was killed on October 3, 1993 while serving with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu.

 

Sharri and daughter Jordan, who was five at the time of her father’s death, relied on Dependence and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits for financial support. Sharri continues to receive DIC payments, but only modest enhancements have been made since 1993. “Here we are almost twenty years later and the DIC rates have failed to keep up with the cost of living,” Briley wrote in her testimony to the committee.

 

We need to modernize this benefit. That’s why I introduced the Caring for Survivors Act of 2021. The legislation aims to bring payments to DIC recipients in line with payments to surviving spouses of other federal employees as DIC benefits currently lag behind other programs’ payments by nearly 12 percent. This legislation will deliver critical economic support to Briley and other families who lost a loved one in service to our country. 

 

As a son of a World War II Air Force veteran who served in the military for more than 20 years, I understand that military service is a family affair. As we observe Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 7, let us reflect on their important role in the Armed Forces and provide resources that meet the needs of service members and those closest to them.

 

 

 

4-30-21 4:33 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

The House is now in an extended recess for the 2021 Regular Session.

 

While we have completed the vast majority of our work for the year, we will return in the fall to address congressional redistricting.  

 

The Governor has indicated he may call a special session around that time to address additional tax cuts.

 

Legislation passed so far this session has reduced taxes by $84 million for the current fiscal year and is projected to cut another $197 million in taxes for Fiscal Year 2022.

   

The vast majority of those tax cuts come from two pieces of legislation drafted to respond quickly to the economic situation created by the health emergency.

 

Act 154 exempts unemployment benefits paid in 2020 and 2021 from state income tax. It is estimated that more than 281,000 Arkansans received unemployment benefits in 2020.

 

ACT 248 exempts COVID-19 relief loans for small businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), from state income tax. It is estimated that more than 42,400 Arkansas businesses received a PPP loan in 2020. 

 

Additional tax cuts and credits passed this session include the following:

 

HB1912 reduces the sales tax from 6.5% to 3.5% on used cars priced from $4,000-$10,000. 

 

Act 970 provides a sales and use tax exemption for water used by a poultry farm.

 

Act 971 doubles the income tax deduction for a teacher's qualified classroom expense from $250 to $500.

 

Act 841 creates an income tax credit for up to $3,500 for retired law enforcement officers who work cold cases for Arkansas State Police.

 

Act 840 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.

 

Act 362-The Elective Pass-Through Entity Tax Act. This bill would give owners of businesses organized as S-corporations or partnerships the option of paying state income tax at the corporate level, which would be deductible from federal income tax.

 

Act 875 increases the water impoundment tax credit allowed from $90,000 to $120,000, and for Surface Water Outside Critical Areas Credit, Surface Water Within Critical Area Credit, and Land Leveling Credit, it increases the maximum tax credits allowed from $27,000 to $35,000.

 

Act 972 allows for sales tax exemptions of isolated sales at special events.

 

SB336 creates an exemption from the sales and use tax for coins, currency, and bullion.

 

Act 915 reduces the sales tax rate on coal used by manufacturers.

 

Act 944 expands the sales tax holiday to include certain electronic devices.

 

Act 914 expands “instructional materials” for purposes of sales tax exemption.

 

Act 904 creates a tax credit for contribution to an organization under Philanthropic Investment in Arkansas Kids Program.

 

Act 967 creates an income tax credit for railroad track maintenance expenses.

 

Act 935 creates an income tax credit for a stillborn child.

 

Act 895 amends income tax credit for waste reduction, reuse, or recycling equipment.

 

Act 376 reduces the additional $100 fee on hybrid vehicles to $50.

 

Act 594 creates the Arkansas Wood Energy Products and Forest Maintenance income tax credit.

 

You can find summaries of additional legislation on our website www.arkansashouse.org

 

 

4-30-21 4:30 p.m. KAWX.ORG

 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review: From Senator Larry Teague

April 30, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – The legislature brought the 2021 regular session to a close with a dramatic midnight meeting to approve a Sovereignty Act, which declares new federal laws invalid if they infringe on the right to bear arms.

 

In the waning days of the session the governor vetoed Senate Bill 298, which was the first version of the Sovereignty Act. In his veto letter, the governor expressed concerns that the bill would jeopardize combined law enforcement actions conducted by federal agents in cooperation with local and state police officers.

 

The Senate voted to override the veto, but the House of Representatives did not. Instead, a new version of the Sovereignty Act was introduced - House Bill 1957.

 

Both the Senate and the House finalized action on HB 1957 after midnight, in the early hours of April 28. Each chamber then went in an extended recess, bringing this year’s regular session to an end.

 

HB 1957 allows local police officers to cooperate with federal agents on many types of law enforcement, such as arresting drug dealers. It prohibits Arkansas law enforcement from cooperating with federal agents if the federal operation’s main purpose is confiscation of firearms or any other infringement on the Second Amendment.

 

HB 1957 satisfied the governor’s concerns and he said he would sign it. Spokesmen for sheriffs and prosecutors said they were not opposed to the second version of the Sovereignty Act.

 

Two other states have passed similar sovereignty laws, and in more than a dozen states similar laws have been introduced and are working through the legislative process.

 

The legislative session lasted 108 days. Lawmakers filed 1,675 bills. By the end of the session 894 bills had become law, but the legislature had passed many more and had sent them to the governor.

 

The legislature went into extended recess and will meet again in the fall to draw new boundaries for the four Congressional districts in Arkansas. It’s a task the legislature does every 10 years, when the U.S. Census Bureau releases new population statistics.

Usually, the legislature redraws the boundaries during the regular session, but this year the Census Bureau is behind schedule and won’t have new population numbers until September.

 

After the legislature draws new Congressional district boundaries, we will adjourn and not convene again until next year’s fiscal session. If extraordinary circumstances call for it, the governor could call the legislature into a special session.

 

Under the Arkansas Constitution, the legislature cannot call itself into session. It can only meet in regular sessions or in a special session called by the governor. However, voters will have the opportunity to amend the Constitution next year and allow legislators to call themselves into session.

 

The proposed amendment will be on the general election ballot in November of 2022. It was referred this year by the legislature, which can refer three proposed amendments in each regular session.

 

Another referred amendment is titled the “Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment.” The third referred amendment would raise the bar for citizens’ groups seeking to change the Constitution. It would require a 60 percent majority for approval of ballot measures brought by citizens’ groups wanting to change the Constitution. Currently, a simple majority of more than 50 percent is sufficient.

 

 

4-30-21 4:28 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Weekly Arkansas Fishing Report

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for April 29, 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 (April 29)

 
The Fuhrmans from central Texas found the crappie biting on Millwood Lake. Photo provided by Mike Siefert.

****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.

 

Click here for the full Arkansas Fishing Report for April 29, 2021 by region.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

4-29-21 6:31 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for April 19th - 25th

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of April 19, 2021 – April 25, 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 19, 2021

Report of a disturbance on Polk 116 near Acorn . Deputy responded.

Report of an attempted break-in at an office drop off box near Acorn. Deputy responded.

Report of the theft of a weed eater valued at $219.00 from a business on Hwy 71S near Hatfield. Deputy responded.

 

April 20, 2021

Report of an unattended death on Hwy 246W near Hatfield. Deputy responded.

Report of the theft of a debit card and cash. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

 

April 21, 2021

Report of receiving harassing phone calls from an unknown individual. Deputy responded.

Report of inappropriate behavior led to a juvenile male being issued a Juvenile Citation for Disorderly Conduct. Juvenile was released to the custody of a parent/guardian.

Report of a disturbance on Hwy 246E near Vandervoort led to the arrest of Dale D. Shimel, 31, of Cove, on a Charge of Disorderly Conduct.

Report of a red metal gas can valued at $85.00 not being returned to a local business.

Report of a missing juvenile female. Juvenile was later located.

Report from complainant on Polk 88 near Ink of a dog being shot.

Arrested was Jesse L. Zamora, 38, of Mena on a Body Attachment Warrant.

Arrested was David J. Ortiz, 40, of Mena, on a Charge of Disorderly Conduct.

 

April 22, 2021

Report of a dispute between neighbors on Main Street near Wickes. Deputy responded.

Discovery of suspicious items led to a juvenile female being issued a Juvenile Citation.

Report from complainant on Hwy 8E near Board Camp of damage to property and an assault. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

 

April 23, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 31 near Hatfield of the theft of a necklace valued at $300.00. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 177 near Acorn of the theft of appliances. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Nathaniel A. Riley, 38, of Mena, on a Warrant for Possession of Meth or Cocaine with Purpose to Deliver and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

 

April 24, 2021

Traffic stop on Hwy 8W near Rocky led to the arrest of Benny L. Anderson, 48, of Mena, on a Charge of Careless and Prohibited Driving, DWI, and Driving on a Suspended Driver’s License.

Report of an altercation on Polk 289 near Cove. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Arrested was Jamie M. Crider, 34, of Mena, on a Warrant for Delivery of Meth or Cocaine.

 

April 25, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 90 near Acorn 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 the theft of a UTV from a rental property near Dallas Valley. Deputy responded.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 22 Incarcerated Inmates, with 11 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00321

 

4-26-21 11:25 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for April 18th - 14th

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of April 18th through April 24th, 2021

 

 

April 18

 

A report of disorderly conduct was taken at a residence on 4th Street.

 

Kendra Davis, 36, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

A report of a disturbance was taken at Hibbett Sports. Jason Rosson, 39, was charged with Disorderly Conduct, Violation of a Protection Order and served with a warrant. Also, Joy Reed, 32, was charged with Disorderly Conduct.

 

April 19

 

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

 

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

 

April 20

 

Nickolaus Soras, 21, was charged with Possession of Meth, Possession of a Schedule IV Controlled Substance and Speeding after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

A report of Possession of a Controlled Substance was taken at a residence on Church Avenue.

 

Gloria Duff, 45, was served with seven warrants at the police department.

 

James Ralph, 21, was charged with Disorderly Conduct after a disturbance call to Walmart.

 

April 21

 

Michael Williams, 39, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

A report of theft was taken at the police department.

 

A report of a disturbance was taken at a residence on Hope Circle.

 

April 22

 

A report of a disturbance was taken at the Executive Inn.

 

April 23

 

Ariana Kelley, 23, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

A report of fraudulent use of a credit card was taken at a residence on Sherwood Forrest.

 

April 24

 

Waylen Carter, 49, was served with a warrant at a residence on Gary Drive.

 

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

 

4-26-21 9:46 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

OLT To Honor Rudi Timmerman May 20TH

OLT to Honor Rudi Timmerman May 20

 

The Ouachita Little Theatre annual business meeting is open to the entire community and will be held on Thursday, May 20 at 5:30 PM. This will be the last meeting conducted by outgoing president Rudi Timmerman, who has served in this capacity for 11 years, including the past consecutive 6 years.

 

Officers and board members who will be elected earlier in the month by members online will be announced at this meeting. Then some brief theater business that would be of interest to OLT members will be attended to. Following the meeting (approximately 6:00 PM) there will be a tribute to the steadfast work and devotion of Rudi Timmerman. The public is invited to attend all or part of the evening festivities.

 

There will be a few short presentations honoring Rudi and the tireless devotion he has given to OLT since 1982. You will get a chance to greet him personally and enjoy some light refreshments. If you have ever enjoyed any aspect of OLT in the last four decades, you will not want to miss this opportunity to learn more about Rudi and express any appreciation you may have towards a man who has given many years of service to the community through Ouachita Little Theatre.

 

4-26-21 7:30 a.m. KAWX.ORG
 

90TH Anniversary of Lum and Abner, Special Broadcast on KAWX April 26TH

The very first Lum and Abner radio program was broadcast live on April 26, 1931 over Hot Springs radio station KTHS. Radio was still a relatively new medium and the Lum and Abner program was one of the early programs that helped usher in the Golden Era of broadcasting. 

The characters that became household names across the country on the Lum and Abner Show were from Mena, Arkansas, Chet Lauck and Norris Goff. Movies would follow, as well as TV shows and all the fame one would expect, yet those who knew them often comment that they never forgot their hometown.

Chet Lauck (Lum) is shown with Mena businessman Doy Grubbs during a 1979 visit to Mena. Grubbs tirelessly promoted Mena and loved the Lum and Abner connection.

 

Lauck and Goff quickly became well respected actors and were personally acquainted with the starts of the day. In 1947 on the 16TH anniversary broadcast, an impressive list of those stars dropped by the studio to help them celebrate, including Jack Bailey, Kay Kyser, Andy Devine, Jim and Marion Jordon (Fibber McGee and Molly), just to name a few. You may notice in the broadcast that, mistakenly, it is referred to as the "17TH anniversary", but I have been assured that it is the 16TH.

To commemorate the 90TH anniversary of the first Lum and Abner broadcast, KAWX will air the 16TH anniversary show. The show was provided to KAWX by Donnie Pitchford, the Lum and Abner Comic Strip cartoonist, from a 74 year old 16 inch transcription disc. The show will air at 6:30 p.m. on KAWX 93.1 in Mena, 94.9 in the Hatfield and Cove area, or anywhere in the world at KAWX.ORG. You can also listen with a free KAWX app available at the App Store or Google Play, on any smart TV or device with the TuneIn app, or on Amazon Echo! 

 

My grandmother used to tell me that she stopped her work in time to listen to Lum and Abner, and she way very well have been listening in 1931. And now 90 years later the show is still being played on radio stations around the country!

To learn more about Lum and Abner, visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas or the National Lum and Abner Society. You may also want to visit the Lum and Abner Museum in nearby Pine Ridge, Arkansas operated by Lon and Kathyrn Stucker. 

For those unable to listen at 6:30 p.m. on April 26TH, we will share a link on the KAWX Facebook page as well as my personal page to the show as a podcast. 

4-25-21 5:35 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

To listen to KAWX online, click on the old radio above.

 

 

 

 

 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Licensing Law May Help Fill Gap in Workforce

 
Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Licensing Law May Help Fill Gap in Workforce
 
Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
 
LITTLE ROCK – For years, we have struggled to find enough teachers, nurses, and other licensed professionals to fill jobs in Arkansas, and today I’d like to talk about Act 746, a law that will help overcome that challenge by enlarging the field of employees. I signed it into law this week.
 
Senator Bart Hester, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said that Arkansas has worked hard to find solutions to the shortage of professionals while a solution that could fill thousands of jobs was right in front of us.
 
Representative Clint Penzo co-sponsored the bill, which allows certification of a professional who is in Arkansas legally but isn’t a U.S. citizen.
 
The bill says that agencies that grant certificates or licenses for certain professions may certify or license a person who “fulfills the requirements to practice an occupation or profession in this state and … who holds [the] Federal Form … known popularly as a ‘work permit. … ’ ”
 
Under this new law, as many as five-thousand residents of Arkansas who were born in another country can work, which immediately enlarges the potential workforce for dozens of occupations from teacher to nurse to veterinarian to architect to civil engineer.
 
Mireya Reith, founder of Arkansas United, has worked on this and similar legislation for a decade. During past legislative sessions, we passed a law that allowed the certification of teachers and nurses who weren’t U.S. citizens. But that left out those that need a license. Legislators from both parties supported the bills enthusiastically for all other professions. So this year, the General Assembly passed what became known as Act 746, which covered a multitude of professions and was a big victory for the young people who are talented and ready to build their future in our great state.
 
The certification bill, combined with bills that allow qualified noncitizens to apply for the Governor’s Scholarships and instate tuition, opens up many paths for noncitizens and helps fill critical gaps in certain industries.
 
The laws have made the future brighter for Javier Luna, a senior at Central High who was born in Mexico City but has lived in Arkansas since he was four. He had recently learned that under the current laws, he could not get his engineering license in Arkansas. When he learned about this possibility of the new law, he volunteered to support it in the General Assembly. He testified before two committees, and he joined us at the capitol this week when I signed it into law.
 
This is a special Arkansas moment. The General Assembly passed Act 746 across party lines with unanimous support. All of Arkansas benefits.
 
4-23-21 6:30 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

This week, the Joint Budget Committee advanced two bills outlining the proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

 

The Revenue Stabilization Act prioritizes and categorizes state spending. It is typically one of the last bills passed every session. This year, the RSA is outlined in two identical bills SB702 and HB1949.

 

The proposal disburses $5.84 billion in general revenue. While fully funding our obligations, it decreases overall state spending by $50 million.

 

Proposed increases can be found in Medicaid, corrections, and State Police. The budget also includes the largest percentage increase in educational adequacy in 15 years.

 

The state’s long-term reserve fund is expected to reach over $700 million by the end of this fiscal year. This savings helps the state to secure lower interest rates and bond ratings.

 

This week, the House also passed a bill to reduce the sales tax from 6.5% to 3.5% on used cars priced from $4,000-$10,000. 

 

HB1912 passed both chambers and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

 

Other tax measures passing the House this week include HB1719 and HB1456.

 

HB1719 creates the Reboot Pilot Program. It would provide income tax credits for employers who hire former felony offenders who were released from his or her first term of incarceration in the last year. The maximum amount of this credit is $3,000.

 

HB1456 creates an income tax in an amount equal to 50% of an eligible railroad track maintenance expenditures. The maximum amount of the credit is $5,000 per mile of track.

 

On Thursday, the House voted in favor of SJR10. This is a proposed constitutional amendment which, if approved by voters, would allow the General Assembly to call a special session upon the submission of a written proclamation with signatures from at least 2/3 of both the House and Senate membership. Currently, only the Governor can call for a special session.

 

The House also voted in favor of HR1048. This resolution would allow the House to consider a third proposed constitutional amendment, SJR14, the Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

The House previously passed HJR1005 would require statewide ballot initiatives to receive 60% of the vote before becoming law. 

 

Proposed constitutional amendments approved by the General Assembly will be on the November 2022 ballot.

 

The House expects to enter an extended recess beginning Tuesday, April 27, and return in the fall to address congressional redistricting. The Governor has also indicated he intends to call a special session in the fall to address additional tax cuts.

 

You can find all House agendas and links to live streams at www.arkansashouse.org

 

4-23-21 6:27 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Monta Philpot's Ouachita Portraits at UARM's Ouachita Center

Mena’s own Monta Philpot’s acclaimed Ouachita Portrait collection will be welcomed to the campus of UA Rich Mountain and on exhibit in the Ouachita Center.

 

The collection was a heartfelt project of Monta’s, who wanted to chronicle her home community through her artistry using the colorful personalities, and their skillsets, who helped to mold and shape the Ouachita Region. The collection has been showcased throughout Arkansas in a variety of exhibits but it has also prestigiously adorned the walls of the Russell Senate Rotunda in our Nation’s Capitol.

 

Through her masterful artistry with Prismacolor, she has expertly preserved a way of life that is all too quickly fading, while simultaneously sharing their individual stories… stories that much like the patchwork of a quilt that, when stitched together, have become the folklore of the Ouachita Region. Stories like “Rooster” Cogburn who sat on his front porch in the Shady community, always with a wave for passers-by, while he whittled rolling pins and other utensils; Dean Egger who pastored multiple generations from a small country church in Cherry Hill; or Delta Meador whose handmade quilts that are now prized heirlooms… and this is just a small sampling.

 

The exhibit includes a brief description to accompany each work of art that better explains the significance of the setting for the portrait’s subject. One example being a portrait of John L. Faulkner alongside a pasture of cows that is bordered by a line of electrical poles and lines that signify his more than thirty-year seat on the board of directors for the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. The description ends by crediting his contribution toward rural electricity as bringing about “one of the greatest economic and lifestyle impacts in the Ouachita Mountains.”

 

Monta said that visiting with each of the people featured in her collection was as much her favorite part as the art itself and critical to bringing the art to life. Philpot holds a degree in art from Texas A&M University and now only does commission pieces.

 

The exhibit will open with an artist reception on May 13 at 11:00 am in the Ouachita Center. The public is invited to attend and once again take a step back in time while visiting with Monta Philpot.

4-23-21 4:34 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Cooperation is Key to Successful Infrastructure Policy

 

Infrastructure is about as ripe an issue as any to actually get something major done in a bipartisan, cooperative way. Congress has a history of successfully working across the aisle to advance policies that improve roads and bridges, invest in water systems and broadband deployment. President Joe Biden should look to the positive example of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as a starting point for legislation to modernize our infrastructure.

 

Just weeks ago, the EPW Committee unanimously passed, with my support, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act. Last Congress, the committee unanimously passed America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act to provide resources and long-term certainty for states and local governments to build safer and more modern highways, railways and bridges.

 

I’ve been proud to support investments to upgrade our drinking and wastewater systems, ports and waterways, energy grid and rural broadband deployment in addition to repairing and modernizing traditional infrastructure like roads, railways and runways. Congress has delivered millions of dollars for airport upgrades across Arkansas in recent months. My colleagues and I have provided federal infrastructure funding that has supported road improvements in heavily trafficked areas like the Bella Vista Bypass, Hot Springs bypass extension and a railroad overpass in Monticello. Last Congress, I developed a new method to make it more affordable for rural communities to update their water and wastewater systems. These are just some examples of the work I’ve been involved in to help meet infrastructure needs in our communities.

 

It’s clear that strong bipartisan support for long-term national infrastructure improvement policy exists in Congress.

 

President Biden recently released a plan which claims to focus on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, but his proposal is attempting to reinvent the wheel and worse, lacks emphasis on infrastructure, advances partisan priorities and raises taxes.

 

Unlike the House of Representatives and the Biden administration, who continue to undermine bipartisanship by developing and advancing a progressive policy agenda, the Senate has been working in a bipartisan manner to find solutions for our transportation challenges.

 

A bipartisan infrastructure bill is one way the president can demonstrate his willingness to work across the aisle. However, his initial steps and those of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle raise serious questions about how committed they are to collaborating with Republicans.

 

My advice to President Biden is simple –– the path forward to achieve long-term infrastructure improvement is through bipartisanship. We cannot tolerate a partisan process where only one side gets to offer input, with the end result being a liberal wish list of projects and priorities that have nothing to do with infrastructure investment.

 

There is no reason we need to start at the beginning of the legislative process. The Senate EPW Committee has already done much of the work. My colleagues and I have produced bipartisan infrastructure-related legislation, which can and should be the basis for any infrastructure proposal.

 

Now more than ever, we need comprehensive, bipartisan infrastructure legislation that spurs economic growth and development, and helps us stay competitive globally.

 

We must focus our energy and efforts on bipartisanship so we can produce the result most Americans are looking for rather than a bitter political fight that reinforces the idea that we can’t work together. I will support an infrastructure bill that focuses on sensible, needed investments that better connect our communities, enhance our quality of life and is crafted in a bipartisan manner.

 

4-23-21 3:53 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review: From Senator Larry Teague

April 23, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – Fiscal issues took center stage during the final week of the legislative session.

 

Lawmakers have been working on a long list of tax cuts, which were finalized in the closing days of the 2021 session.

 

Legislation to expand the sales tax exemption for purchases of used motor vehicles was first introduced in January, but it took until the closing days of the session for everyone to agree on the details.

 

House Bill 1912 lowers the sales tax to 3.5 percent on purchases of used motor vehicles costing between $4,000 and $10,000. The first year it is completely in effect, it will save Arkansas consumers an estimated $13.1 million.

 

The lower tax rate will apply to used trailers and semi-trailers too. Tax officials estimate that buyers of more than 36,000 used vehicles will benefit from the lower tax rate.

 

Senate Bill 181 expands the number of items that will be exempted from the sales tax during the annual sales tax holiday in late August. It is often referred to as a “Back to School” tax holiday because it is meant to help families buying back to school supplies like clothes and school supplies.

 

SB 181 makes electronics exempt from the sales tax during the tax holiday. The exempted electronics include cell phones, calculators, computers of all sizes and varieties, printers and keyboards. The list does not include televisions, video games and music systems.

 

The exemption will save Arkansas families almost $2 million a year.

 

The legislature has enacted other tax reductions for timber companies, steel mills, schools that buy electronic instructional material, people who restore historic structures, custom printers and farmers who build impoundment and irrigation systems to preserve groundwater.

 

After passage of the tax reductions, legislators had a clear idea of how much funding would be available for next year’s state government budget.

 

Spending priorities in the Fiscal 2022 budget are in the Revenue Stabilization Act, the balanced budget law for Arkansas. SB 702, this year’s version, authorizes spending $5.9 billion in state taxes. If the economy slows and state tax revenue declines, state agency spending is reduced proportionately. Arkansas does not deficit spend.

 

The largest spending categories are the Public School Fund, which is about $2.25 billion, and the Medicaid program, which will spend about $1.37 billion in state general revenue. The Arkansas Medicaid program receives matching federal funds at a ratio of more than three to one. Last year the federal government provided $5.9 billion to the Arkansas Medicaid program.

 

The Department of Correction, which operates prison units housing more than 16,000 inmates, has a budget next year of $375 million. The Department of Community Corrections, which operates work release programs, drug courts and supervises inmates out on parole, will have a budget of $97 million.

 

The Health Department will get $80 million in state funds and the State Police $70.5 million. The division of Children and Family Services will get $120 million. It operates foster care and adoption services and investigates allegations of abuse and neglect of children.

 

State-supported universities will receive $612 million and two-year colleges will receive $118 million. Five technical colleges will share $32 million.

 

4-23-21 3:50 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Weekly Arkansas Fishing Report

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for April 22, 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 11 a.m. the day of publication (April 22).


****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.

 

Click here for the full Arkansas Fishing Report for April 22, 2021 by region.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

4-22-21 6:53 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

May Happenings At The OLT

May Days at OLT! Auditions, Elections, and More!

 

Lots of excitement is in store for Ouachita Little Theatre! After postponement in 2020 due to the COVID19 pandemic, the musical production of “BIG” is being rescheduled. The dates are set for July 2,3,4 and 9,10,11.

 

The cast was mostly selected in March of 2020. However, not all the cast members are able to retain their roles one year later, so auditions are once again necessary. There are some major roles open, including the “boss” MacMillan, and lead character Susan. Also several strong supporting and ensemble parts will be available for various ages.

 

Auditions will be held on Saturday, May 1 from 10:00 AM until noon at the OLT. Just show up or call “Kropp & Company” at 234-3902 and let one of the directors know of your interest. This will be OLT’s biggest endeavor since “Annie” in 2019, so the theater folks are thrilled to start returning to the big productions so many patrons have missed.

 

May is also the month of elections for new board members and officers for Ouachita Little Theatre. This year, voting will take place online for those OLT members with emails; others will be mailed a ballot to return to OLT by May 17.

 

The annual board meeting for patrons and members will be held on May 20 at 5:30 PM. Anyone interested in OLT is welcome to this public meeting. Officers and newly elected board members will be announced in the meeting.

 

Of special note, longtime president, Rudi Timmerman, will be retiring from the presidency after decades of service to the theater. He has been an irreplaceable asset to OLT over the years with his almost daily attention to the details of running the theater. Particularly considering the challenges that COVID19 has produced for all theaters, his work has been keenly appreciated. Those OLT supporters attending the meeting will be given a chance to show Rudi their appreciation and celebrate his tenure as an amazing leader.

 

“The Three Amigos” starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short will be the hilarious movie featured during “Wednesday Night at the Lyric” on May 12 at 6:30 PM. Admission is free, and concessions are amazingly cheap. Join us for a fun old-fashioned event, watching a movie in a theater with the smell of fresh popcorn coming from the lobby!

 

Considering the low number of COVID19 cases in Polk County and the availability of the vaccines, the OLT board is recommending masks for patrons to attend events but no longer requiring them. Concession and ticket staff will still be masked, and social distancing will remain in place with certain seats being marked off as unavailable. This policy is open to change as the situation is being monitored by the board of trustees.

 

Come “play” with us! Even though we never really left, we are coming back in a “BIG” way this May!!!

 

4-21-21 6:23 a.m. KAWX.ORG

APRIL 24TH IS NATIONAL DRUG TAKE BACK DAY

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

Flags To Half Staff For Former Vice President Mondale

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.
 
4-20-21 1:52 p.m. KAWX.ORG
 

MENA FIRE DEPARTMENT ORGANIZES LOCAL FIRE SAFETY PROGRAM FOR STUDENTS

 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

Polk County Sheriff's Report for April 12th - 18th

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

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.

 

PC21-00303

 

4-19-21 6:07 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for April 11th - 17th

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of April 11th through April 17th, 2021

 

 

April 11

 

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.

 

April 12

 

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.

 

April 13

 

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.

 

April 14

 

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.

 

April 15

 

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.

 

April 16

 

A report of a runaway juvenile was taken on Highway 71.

 

April 17

 

No reports.

 

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

 

4-19-21 10:07 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

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

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.”
 
4-16-21 4:23 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

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

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

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 

ARVAC Commodity Distribution In Mena April 28TH

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:

FAMILY SIZE

WEEK

MONTH

YEAR

1

$ 319

$1,383

$ 16,588

2

$ 431

$1,868

$ 22,412

3

$ 543

$2,353

$ 28,236

4

$ 655

$2,839

$ 34,060

5

$ 767

$3,324

$ 39,884

6

$ 879

$3,809

$ 45,708

7

$ 991

$4,295

$ 51,532

8

$1,103

$4,780

$ 57,356

Each additional family member

+ $112

+ $486

+ $5,824

 

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 

Weekly Arkansas Fishing Report

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for April 15, 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 (April 15).


****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.

 

4-15-21 3:55 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena School Board Meeting Recap

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

Polk County Sheriff's Report for 5th - 11th

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

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.

 

PC21-00281

 

4-12-21 3:39 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for April 4th - 10th

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of April 4th through April 10th, 2021

 

 

April 4

 

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.

 

April 5

 

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.

 

April 6

 

A report of a disturbance was taken at a residence on Dickson Road.

 

A report of criminal trespass was taken from Walmart.

 

April 7

 

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.

 

April 8

 

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.

 

April 9

 

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.

 

April 10

 

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 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

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:

 

Law Enforcement

 

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.

 

Mental Health

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.

 

Education:

 

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

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.
 
4-9-21 4:46 p.m. KAWX.ORG 
 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

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 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

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 

The OLT Presents Greater Tuna April 16, 17, 18

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 

Weekly Arkansas Fishing Report, Crappie Are Red Hot In Southwest Arkansas

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for April 8, 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 (April 8).


****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.

 

4-8-21 3:54 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Report for March 29 – April 4

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

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.

 

PC21-0025

4-5-21 4:47 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

Mena Police Report for March 28th- April 3rd

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of March 28th through April 3rd, 2021:

 

 

March 28

 

No reports

 

March 29

 

Jimmy Don Davis, 45, was charged with Commercial Burglary, Breaking or Entering, and Obstructing Government Operations at Reine Street and Southerland Avenue.

 

March 30

 

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.

 

March 31

 

A report of leaving the scene of an accident was taken at Murphy USA.

 

April 1

 

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.

 

April 2

 

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.

 

April 3

 

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 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

 

 

 

 

 

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:

 

Economic Development

 

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.

 

Education

 

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. 

 

Elections

 

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 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

 

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 Radio Address: Rounding the Bend with COVID

 
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.
 
4-2-21 3:38p.m. KAWX.ORG 
 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

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.

 

Lottery Scholarships

 

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 

Weekly Arkansas Fishing Report

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for April 1, 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 (April 1).


****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.

 

Click here for the current rerports, then scroll to the area of the state you are intersted in.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

4-1-21 5:15 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Weather