KAWX News Archives for 2021-06

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

This week, the Arkansas Legislative Council Highway Commission Review and Advisory Subcommittee reviewed a presentation regarding Arkansas’ inland waterways.

 

This year marks 50 years of service from the McClellan?Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. The system serves a 12 state region and provides a cost-effective form of transportation to Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and surrounding states.

 

The anniversary reminds us of the importance of our waterways and our duty to ensure this infrastructure is well maintained.

 

Arkansas’s inland waterways system is vital to our economic growth. The inland waterways efficiently, sustainably, and cost-effectively transport critical commodities like agricultural goods, energy products, building materials, and industrial chemicals.

 

Arkansas has over 1,860 miles of navigable inland waterways, ranking it third in the nation.

 

Arkansas’ inland waterway assets include the Mississippi, Arkansas, Ouachita, Red, and White Rivers. The waterways account for $4.4 billion in gross state product and contribute more than $270 million in state and local tax revenue. The Mississippi River is the main trade corridor for goods produced in the northern part of the U.S. traveling to gateway ports near the Gulf of Mexico. As trade between the U.S. and Latin America grows, the importance of Arkansas waterways and the strategic location of the state will enhance manufacturing and distribution opportunities. 

 

There are 11 public ports in the state. Arkansas’ ports, inland waterways, and inland waterways-dependent industries support more than 50,000 jobs.

 

The waterways can often be the most economical choice for transportation. One standard 15-barge tow moves the equivalent of 216 rail cars or 1,050 trucks. Waterborne transportation requires significantly less fuel than rail or trucks. 

 

The Arkansas Waterways Commission is the sole state agency responsible for developing, promoting, and protecting waterborne transportation in Arkansas.

 

You can find more information about our waterways system on their website at www.waterways.arkansas.gov.

 

6-18-21 5:23 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: ARHOME: Doing More for Arkansans' Health Care

 
Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address :ARHOME: Doing More for Arkansans’ Health Care
 
Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
 
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Works will end on December 31, and today I’d like to talk about the program that will replace it.
 
We call the new program Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me, also known as ARHOME. Department of Human Services Secretary Cindy Gillespie’s team created a health care insurance program that does more than pay for medical care.
 
Historically, the role of health insurance companies has been to pay for doctor visits and protect against unforeseen expenses. ARHOME adds a third dimension to the role of health insurance plans – to assist their members to become healthy and to stay healthy.
 
The 93rd General Assembly voted to authorize this new waiver program, but legislators made it clear they wanted the insurance plan to accomplish more than provide access to medical care. They wanted to see a payoff of good health for the state’s investment in the health care system.
 
One way ARHOME aims to accomplish that is with three types of community bridge organizations, called Life360 HOMEs. One of the bridges, which will be based in community hospitals, will serve women with high-risk pregnancies. This maternal health initiative will educate women in their homes about health care during pregnancy – things to do and things to avoid so they have the best pregnancy possible, and so that their children are born healthy.
 
The second bridge will be based in rural hospitals and serve those with behavioral and mental health needs. The program will offer crisis intervention or acute care.
 
The third new initiative is for young adults who are veterans, and those who grew up in foster care or have been released from the juvenile justice or adult correctional systems. ARHOME will assist these clients in the transition to adult life in their community.
 
Arkansans need access to quality health care, but they also need encouragement to use the services and to choose a lifestyle that results in good health.
ARHOME will pay rural hospitals to recruit and train coaches to work one-on-one with members. It will support rural hospitals that add crisis mental health to the care they offer. Under ARHOME, hospitals won’t wait for patients to show up. The coaches and peer specialists will meet them where they are.
 
We have opened the ARHOME initiative for public comment through mid-July. Then we will submit our request to the Biden administration for approval to waive certain federal Medicaid regulations so that we can tailor the program to Arkansas. I will be traveling to our nation’s capital to make our case to the White House in person.
 
The legislature did its part and approved the proposed program. Now we must do ours and earn approval from the federal government. Then we will take on the challenge of ARHOME to achieve good health through good health insurance.
 
6-18-21 5:21 p.m. KAWX.ORG 
 

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Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

 

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

June 18, 2021

 

 

LITTLE ROCK – State Medicaid officials are asking the federal government for approval of ARHOME, the newest version of Medicaid expansion.

 

They anticipate a decision in November or December. ARHOME will replace the current version of Medicaid expansion called Arkansas Works, which expires December 31.

 

ARHOME stands for Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me. It was created by Act 530, which the legislature enacted earlier this year during the regular session.

 

Medicaid expansion is a government health program for about 250,000 Arkansans, although there was an increase to about 274,000 people last year due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

 

The Arkansas version of Medicaid expansion is different from that in other states, because the Arkansas version relies on private insurance companies to provide the bulk of the coverage.

 

Typically, 84 percent of the people enrolled in Medicaid expansion are in private insurance plans. The remaining 16 percent have more extensive medical needs and are covered in the more traditional Medicaid program.

 

When Congress enacted the national Affordable Care Act in 2010, the states had the option of creating their own versions of Medicaid expansion to cover more people. Traditionally, Medicaid was for low-income families and the Affordable Care Act made more people eligible by raising the income thresholds.

Arkansas created its unique version of Medicaid expansion in 2013. Now, it’s common for public health officials and legislators to distinguish between “traditional Medicaid” and “Medicaid expansion.”

 

Under Medicaid expansion the state helps individuals pay for private health insurance. The traditional Medicaid program uses a “fee for service” model, which means that enrollees visit their doctors, who then file a claim with the state for reimbursement.

 

In the last quarter of 2020 Medicaid paid for health care for 912,738 Arkansans. Of those, 380,364 were children and 129,399 were people with disabilities, 52,664 were senior citizens and 76,309 were adults in the traditional Medicaid program. The remaining 274,002 were people in Arkansas Works, the Medicaid expansion program created in 2013.

 

State officials need approval from the federal government for changes in Medicaid because the federal government provides the vast majority of the funding. For example, the federal government funds 90 percent of Medicaid expansion and the state funds 10 percent. For traditional Medicaid, the federal government pays about 77 percent of Medicaid costs, although that percentage fluctuates from year to year.

 

The federal match is expected to drop closer to 70 percent when the pandemic is past and current public health emergency declarations are called off.

 

The federal Medicaid matching rate depends on the per capita income in each state, so relatively prosperous states pay a higher percentage. Federal funds pay for 44 percent in New Jersey and New York.

 

The health care community in Arkansas reported significant health and financial benefits from Medicaid expansion in 2013. The number of people without health insurance went down from about 27 percent to about 15 percent between 2013 and 2015, according to surveys conducted by hospitals and health insurance providers.

 

When more people are insured and see a physician regularly, it results in fewer visits to emergency rooms.

 

6-18-21 5:18 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

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US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: Border Crisis Continues Under Biden Policies

 

Border Crisis Continues Under Biden Policies

 

There’s chaos on our southern border. It’s a humanitarian and national security crisis that threatens the safety of Americans and the Biden administration’s careless rhetoric and progressive policies are undeniably at fault.

In May more than 180,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at our southern border. CBP recently reported this new 21-year high, marking the third consecutive month of record increases.

 

Despite the skyrocketing number of border apprehensions, the administration continues to deny a crisis exists.

 

Vice President Harris, the point person tasked by the president to solve it, hasn’t even been to the border to see first-hand the challenges our CBP agents are experiencing as a result of these disastrous policies.

 

Border facilities are overrun and border patrol agents are being diverted from interior drug checkpoints and regional stations to the Rio Grande Valley. The president’s budget, with no increase in funding to secure our border, offers no hope to border agents that help is on the way.

 

That message is also another indication to criminal elements like human smugglers and drug traffickers that their inhumane and illegal activities can continue. CBP has arrested convicted sex offenders and four individuals on the FBI’s terrorism watchlist, in addition to having detained dangerous gang members crossing the border.

 

The failure to enforce our immigration laws is intensifying the flood of crime and drugs into our country. Drug cartels are exploiting the chaos and increasing the flow of lethal drugs like fentanyl into our communities. Last month, more than 900 pounds of fentanyl was seized at the southern border, an increase of more than 300 percent from May 2020.

 

This unfortunate reality is leading to devastating consequences. In Arkansas, fentanyl has surpassed methamphetamine as the leading cause of overdose deaths.
 

We’ve seen these problems growing for months, but the administration is so out-of-touch on this issue that it has not made a good faith effort to resolve a clearly dangerous, unsustainable situation.

 

Luckily, we have a solution. It begins with enforcing our immigration laws. We are a nation of laws. This crisis has shown the damage selective enforcement can have on our country.

 

The problem extends to local and state governments that offer safe-havens for illegal immigrants. These sanctuary cities undermine enforcement of federal immigration laws. Failing to uphold our laws threatens the safety of law-abiding citizens by protecting violent and dangerous criminals illegally in our country.

 

We’ve invested heavily in a border wall that remains incomplete while the cutting-edge technology to detect violators has been nonoperational. We need to finish the job.

 

We must end the failed ‘catch and release’ policy reinstated by the Biden administration that forces border agents and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers to release illegal immigrants as they await adjudication of their claims and potential deportation.

 

The administration must also restore the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy to require illegal immigrants wait in Mexico until their asylum cases are decided.

 

This crisis was avoidable. The Trump administration’s policies were succeeding at enforcing our immigration laws, disincentivizing unlawful entry and securing the border, but the Biden executive orders have reversed those effective measures and the administration has failed to demonstrate a willingness to get this problem under control. It’s time to face reality and do what needs to be done to secure our border, end this crisis and protect the rule of law.

 

6-18-21 7:08 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Mena School Board Meeting Recap

 

 

MENA SCHOOL BOARD JUNE MEETING RECAP 

 

 

 

The Mena School Board met for their regular June meeting on
Tuesday at the district administration building.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lee Smith led the meeting in the
absence of Mr. Benny Weston and presented the
superintendent’s report. He said that parents can expect a
survey in the near future concerning the loss of learning during
the pandemic. These are a part of the consultations required by
the federal government for the allocation of ARP ESSER 3 funds.
Smith also let the board know that the waivers for board
meetings during the pandemic came to an end on April 30 th . He
is anticipating the return of pre COVID procedures when classes
resume on August 16th.

Next on the agenda was the reorganization and election of
board officers. After a brief discussion the board elected to
leave the current officers in place for another cycle. Later in the
meeting they also chose to leave committee assignments the
same as well.

The board was then asked to approve a transfer to the building
fund. Act 1105 of 2017 requires the district to transfer any
amount over 20% of total revenue to the building fund. A
transfer of excess revenues above an ending balance of
$2,600,000.00 was approved.

Mr. Danny Minton then addressed the board and presented a
facilities report. At Louise Durham Elementary floors are being
stripped and waxed. Some painting is taking place and he also
informed the board of bids received for the replacement of the
steamer in the cafeteria. The board approved the low bid. At
Holly Harshman Elementary new warming tables have been
installed in the cafeteria, there has been some painting and of
course the floors are getting refurbished. At Mena Middle
School the unused lockers have been removed, some partitions
are being rebuilt and painted. At Mena High School there is
painting and floor work being done as well. New water heaters
have been installed in the cafeteria and Minton passed along
bids received for the installation of shot clocks at the Union
Bank Center. The low bid was approved. It will include all
hardware and software needed for the installation and
operation. The Arkansas Activities Association has ruled that a
shot clock will be used in basketball and implemented in all
classifications at the start of the 22/23 season.

Dr. Smith then informed the board of a $10,000.00 increase in
the premium for the district’s building and property insurance
caused by an increase of replacement and operational
expenses of the insurance agency. The board voted to approve
the renewal of that policy as well as the supplemental student
accident insurance policy.

Smith then spoke briefly on the district’s policy to align with
emergency COVID-19 legislation and the cancellation of special
waivers for the instructional day.

Next on the agenda was the annual disclosure statement. The
board voted to renew its contract with the Union Bank of Mena
as its primary banking partner.

Dr. Smith shared information on new core literature curriculum
for grades K-5. A committee reviewed several options and
suggested Benchmark Workshop Curriculum. This suggestion
was approved. It will be paid for with ESSER funds and will be in
use for six years.

Mr. Benny Weston had expressed an interest in purchasing the
vehicle that the district provided him in his position as
superintendent. The board approved the sale at fair market
value.

Incoming assistant superintendent Bridget Buckley then read a
proclamation concerning the instructional time waiver
extension for the alternative education program. It was
approved.

Next on the agenda was the purchase of three used busses at a
cost of $21,000.00. That purchase was approved.

The board then corrected an oversight from a previous meeting
concerning the length of the contract for the new
superintendent. The board approved a two year contract.

As always the final item on the agenda concerned personnel.
The board accepted the retirement of bus driver Rose Branch
and the resignation of Para Professional Jackie Baird. New hires
included:

Brianne Burford – LDE
Leanna Harper – LDE
Linda Shelley – MHS
Sarah Billings – MMS
Vincent Coleman – Maintenance and Bus Driver
Elizabeth Thompkins – Bus Driver
Casey Adams – Interventionist and Para Pro at MMS
Christy Chandler – Interventionist and Para Pro at MHS

The board meets on the third Tuesday of every month.

 

6-17-21 6:42 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Mena Police Report for June 6TH - 12TH

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of June 6thth through June 12th, 2021

 

 

June 6

 

A report of possession of Schedule 6 Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia was taken at the Forrest Service Information Center.

 

A report of criminal mischief was taken at Rebecca Apartments.

 

June 7

 

No reports.

 

June 8

 

Donnie Dollarhyde, 47, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

A dog bite complaint was taken at a residence on Dequeen Street.

 

June 9

 

Tera Lott, 37, was charged with Possession of a Schedule 6 Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop on North Reine Street.

 

Tommy Black, 47, was charged with Fleeing in a Vehicle, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, Possession of Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Suspended Drivers License, Careless or Prohibited Driving, Driving Left of Center, No Liability Insurance, Resisting Arrest, Possession of Marijuana, and served with two warrants after a traffic stop attempt on Highway 71.

 

June 10

 

A report was taken of a dumpster on fire at PCDC.

 

A report of fleeing was taken on Fink Street.

 

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

 

June 11

 

Dakota Bullard, 21, was charged with Disorderly Conduct at the Limetree Inn.

 

Dakota Bullard, 21, was charged with Disorderly Conduct, Public Intoxication, and Resisting Arrest at the Mena Reginal Heath System.

 

A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken at Atwoods.

 

June 12

 

Kyle Loomis, 32, was charged with Theft by Receiving, Obstructing Governmental Operations, Theft Of Property, Fraudulent Use Of A Credit Card and Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia. He was also served with 6 warrants, after a call to North Side shopping Center.

 

 

Kyle Loomis, 40, was charged with Theft Of Property, Fraudulent Use Of A Credit Card and Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia after a call to the North Side Shopping Center.

 

A theft of a lawn mower was taken at a residence on Cherry Street.

 

Timothy Hooks, 35, was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Sched. II, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Marijuana and served with 4 warrants.

 

Michael Harper, 42, was charged with Driving on suspended license, Carless/Prohibited Driving, No proof of insurance, Fail to obey traffic control device and served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Tenth Street.

 

Patrick Clark, 41, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

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

 

6-17-21 6:39 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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OLT's Musical Little Women Cast

OLT’s Musical Little Women Cast

 

Ouachita Little Theatre will be producing two musicals this summer. Following, “BIG” which will be performed the first two weekends in July, a musical version of Little Women will be showcased on August 6th, 7th, 8th, and 13th, 14th, and 15th.

 

Director Alexa Night has chosen her cast as follows: Jo March will be played by April Burt. The other March sisters will be played by Katelin Haynes (Meg) Miranda Burt (Beth) Anna Burt (young Amy) and Nalu Pruitt (older Amy.) Gini Burt will play Marmee March, Larry Kropp will portray Mr. Lawrence, and Richard Gilbert will play Laurie Lawrence. Zach Hart will play John Brook and Jaimeson Biard will portray Professor Bhaer. Amanda Baker will play a dual role of Aunt March and Mrs. Kirk.

 

Individual tickets for this show will go on sale shortly at the theatre office, 610 Mena St. New office hours are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons from 2:00 PM until 6:00 PM. Season tickets are available now which will cover both musicals and all other shows in the OLT season. The Memory Makers duplicating service can also be purchased during office hours.

 

6-14-21 2:55 p.m. KAWX.ORG

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Polk County Sheriff's Report for June 7TH - 13TH

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of June 7, 2021 – June 13, 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.

 

June 7, 2021

Report of an unattended death on Polk 164 near Rocky. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 136 near Cove of a domestic altercation. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report of a theft at a place of business near Cove. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

 

June 8, 2021

Report from complainant on Gober Lane near Dallas Valley of being harassed. Deputy responded.

Report of a small unattended child on Hwy 71S near Cove. Deputy responded.

 

June 9, 2021

Report of a verbal dispute on Stone Lane near Acorn. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 46 near Shady Grove of problems with a neighbor’s dogs. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Christopher Pollard, 26, of Watson, Oklahoma, on a Warrant for Failure to Appear.

Arrested was Thomas L. Kidwell, 42, of Mena, on a Warrant for Failure to Appear.

Arrested by an officer with the Drug Task Force was Tracy D. Suire, 31, of Mena, on a Charge of Possession of Meth or Cocaine with Purpose to Deliver.

Arrested by an officer with the Drug Task Force was Randi L. Fields, 34, of Hatfield, on a Charge of Possession of Meth or Cocaine.

Arrested by an officer with the Drug Task Force was Kendra D. Davis, 36, of Cove, on a Charge of Possession of Meth or Cocaine with Purpose to Deliver and a Warrant for Probation Violation.

Arrested by an officer with the Drug Task Force was Kathleen L. Parker, 35, of Cove, on a Charge of Possession of Meth or Cocaine with Purpose to Deliver.

 

June 10, 2021

Report from complainant on 278E near Wickes of identity fraud.

Report from complainant on Polk 290 near Cove of identity fraud.

Report of issues involving child custody. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 84 near Big Fork of being threatened. Deputy responded.

 

June 11, 2021

Report of an incident between family members.

Report of an incident involving a family member on Polk 16 near Vandervoort. Deputy responded.

Report of a vehicle accident on Polk 74 near Acorn. Deputy responded.

Report of a disturbance on Polk 164 near Rocky led to the arrest of Timothy A. Starr, 48, of Mena, on two Warrants for Failure to Appear, and a Charge of Aggravated Assault and a Charge of Criminal Mischief.

 

June 12, 2021

Traffic stop on Polk 676 near Acorn led to the arrest of Jimmy L. Wright, 36, of Mena, on a Warrant for Probation Violation, four Warrants for Failure to Appear and a Warrant for Failure to Comply.

Report of a domestic altercation on Hwy 8E near Board Camp. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration.

 

June 13, 2021

Report of the violation of a No Contact Order. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Michael T. Ellis, 46, of Mabelvale, Arkansas on a Warrant for Probation Violation.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 25 Incarcerated Inmates, with 7 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00488

 

6-14-21 11:39 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address:  Arkansas Blackberry Month

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Arkansas Blackberry Month
 
Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
 
LITTLE ROCK – I have proclaimed that June is Blackberry Month in Arkansas and today I’d like to talk about a crowning blackberry achievement at the University of Arkansas’s Fruit Research Station in Clarksville.

Dr. John Clark, a University of Arkansas Distinguished Professor of Horticulture who leads the team there, is a celebrity in the world of fruit production. Blackberries are his favorite. He has spent his career producing better blackberries, such as the thornless Prime Ark Traveler, which is easy on pickers’ hands.

Blackberries aren’t the only crop at the station, where the team also grows peaches, nectarines, blueberries, and grapes, among other fruit. The station bred the Cotton Candy grape, which sells all over the world. 

Dr. Clark and Dr. Margaret Worthington, who are co-leaders of the fruit-breeding effort, want thornless plants and pretty blackberries that taste better, stay firm, and resist disease. Last year, the team introduced a variety that is a milestone in the world of blackberries.

They named the variety Ponca, which has all the characteristics they’ve tried to breed into blackberries. I sampled the Ponca last summer, and I can attest that the Ponca is a very sweet blackberry.

The station sold a limited number of the Ponca plants last summer. Alfred Froberg, whose farm is near Houston, Texas, has sent John a photograph of a basket of Ponca blackberries, which Alfred has declared is his favorite.

The berries are so sweet, you could bake a cobbler without adding sugar. But John won’t make a cobbler with the berries. He will only eat them fresh.

Blackberry farming in Arkansas has become a serious enterprise. Dr. Amanda McWhirt, a horticulturist with the University of Arkansas Extension Service, helped organize the Arkansas Blackberry Growers Association in 2018. The group, which has about sixty members, convened at the research station on Wednesday.

One aspect of the fruit research program that I really appreciate is its robust intellectual property program. The Division patents the varieties of fruit it breeds, and nurseries buy a license to grow the fruits and pay royalties annually on their crop. The program helps to pay for itself. 

With the release of the Ponca, John has continued his tradition of writing songs about a new variety of blackberry. A search for “Ponca Blackberry” on YouTube will pull up a video of John praising the new berry and picking his guitar in the blackberry patch.

I share John’s love of blackberries. I picked them when I was young, and I took my children to pick them. It’s a tradition for many families and the First Lady planted blackberries in a patch at the Governor’s residence, so we are all doing our part to keep the tradition alive.
 
6-11-21 5:21 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

This week, we would like to remind families of an upcoming scholarship deadline.

 

July 1 is the deadline to apply for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship.

 

The scholarship provides tuition assistance to traditional and non-traditional students attending universities and two-year colleges – both public and private – in the state.

 

Freshman students at four-year colleges receive $1,000 from the scholarship. Second- and third-year students receive $4,000, and senior-level students are awarded $5,000 per year. 

 

At two-year colleges, first-year students receive $1,000 annually, while second-year students are awarded $3,000. To maintain eligibility, students must keep a 2.5-grade point average.

 

Traditional students must score at least 19 on the ACT to qualify for the scholarship. The latest ACT score accepted by the Arkansas Division of Higher Education will be from the June testing. Students who have yet to achieve a score of 19 make take the Accuplacer test as a substitute.

 

Since its inception in 2009, the Arkansas lottery has helped raise more than $1 billion in scholarship proceeds and awarded more than 650,000 Academic Challenge Scholarships to students.

 

The lottery also funds the Arkansas Workforce Challenge Scholarship and the Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarships.

 

Students seeking certification for high-demand occupations in healthcare information technology and industrial manufacturing may apply for the Arkansas Workforce Challenge Scholarship.

 

And funding is available for high school students who wish to start early on receiving credit for college courses through the Arkansas Concurrent Academic Challenge Scholarship.

 

Every bit of education you get after high school increases the chances you'll earn good pay. Most college graduates earn more money during their working years than people who stop their education at high school earn. The more education you get, the more likely it is you will always have a job.

 

For more information and to apply, visit scholarships.adhe.edu.

 

6-11-21 4:01 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

MKARNS: 50 Years Fueling Economic Growth

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ largest public works project – the 445-mile McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) – was completed 50 years ago this month. It’s important to understand how that visionary endeavor reshaped the region, creating a navigable waterway to serve the needs of the central United States and generating welcome economic benefits and job growth.

 

The MKARNS has had a tremendous impact on navigation, flood control, power generation, habitat conservation and economic development. As a river highway, it allows low-cost, fuel-efficient transportation for millions of tons of cargo each year, connecting people and goods throughout our country to the rest of the world. 

 

This ambitious project helped tame rivers that were prone to highs and lows, at times experiencing extreme flooding and, for several months of the year, facing water levels too low for travel.

 

After the flood of 1927 destroyed 160,000 homes in seven states, Congress responded with the Flood Control Act of 1928 to authorize a program of flood works paid for by the federal government and create a comprehensive strategy for the Mississippi River and its tributaries. This was followed by the creation of the Southwestern Division of the Corps of Engineers in the Flood Control Act of 1936 and the 1946 Rivers and Harbors Act, which authorized the building of the MKARNS. 

 

Thanks to the leadership and determination of the Arkansas and Oklahoma congressional delegations at the time, funding the MKARNS remained a priority for Congress. The members championed the value of this river corridor to America’s infrastructure and advocated for its completion over many years. I’m pleased that such support continues with our delegations today.

 

At the dedication of the completed waterway in 1971, President Richard Nixon noted the complexity and importance of the project when he stated “You have demonstrated once again the vitality of the American tradition of daring great things and achieving what we dare.”

 

Five decades later, the significance of the MKARNS continues to grow. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation upgraded it to a Corridor on the National Marine Highway and the Corps increased its designation to a high-use waterway system. On average, 11 million tons of cargo worth more than $4 billion each year is transported on the MKARNS. The marine highway supports more than 56,000 jobs and provides an efficient method to transports goods and commodities.

 

Critical infrastructure like the MKARNS needs support to make sure it continues to meet the needs of our nation. That’s why I included language in the Senate Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bill to highlight the importance of funding improvements such as deepening the channel so barges can transport heavier loads through the navigation system.

 

I will continue supporting policies to modernize the MKARNS and urging the Corps to prioritize funding for operations and maintenance. In fact, the Senate recently recognized the 50th anniversary milestone with the passage of a resolution led by senators from Arkansas and Oklahoma supporting the economic benefits of inland waterways system investments and commitment to complete the deepening of the MKARNS.

 

I am pleased to celebrate this anniversary and honor the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for creating and maintaining this tremendous asset. Its efforts continue to reap rewards as we all benefit from 445 miles of water and ingenuity that bring energy, safety and opportunity to our nation. 

 

6-11-21 3:57 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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OLT Election Results

Ouachita Little Theatre held their annual business meeting on May 20. Voting for new officers and board members was held online and the results were announced at the meeting. Here are the results:

 

Officers are President Scotty Jenkins, Vice-President Brad Story, Secretary Judy Kropp, Treasurer Bill Hays, and Past President Rudi Timmerman. The board members elected to a two-year term are Amanda Baker, Jered Biard, Makayla Kenyon-Ortiz, Justin Richmond, and Julie Ulmer.

 

6-11-21 9:41 a.m. KAWX.ORG

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Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

June 11, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – Public health experts now say that children as young as 12 can safely be vaccinated against the Covid-19 coronavirus.

 

The governor and state officials are urging parents to get their children vaccinated, because after they are fully vaccinated they will not have to be quarantined if they are exposed to someone with Covid-19.

 

Vaccinating more children will minimize disruptions to their schooling. Also, it will indirectly boost the Arkansas economy because parents won’t have to stay home with a child who is in quarantine.

 

Arkansas has begun offering incentives to people to take the vaccinations. In late May, the state began offering people a $20 scratch off lottery ticket, and $21 gift certificates toward a hunting or fishing license with the Game and Fish Commission.

 

Additional incentives may become available, depending on the demand. Initially, the state will offer 50,000 scratch off lottery tickets and 50,000 gift certificates for hunting and fishing licenses.

 

A person who received two doses of the Pfizer shots is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting the second shot.

 

Children 12 and older can now receive the Pfizer shots, under federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines, but vaccinations from Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are only allowed for people 18 and older. You have to have two Moderna shots, but the complete Johnson and Johnson vaccination is in one shot.

 

When vaccines first became available there were not enough for everyone. For that reason they were administered first to people in high priority groups, such as senior citizens and people with medical conditions that made them especially vulnerable to the virus.

 

However, Arkansas is now among the numerous states that now have an excess of vaccines. Public health officials are concerned that vaccines will reach their expiration date before they are administered. The governor has talked to federal officials about possibly sending unused vaccines to other nations where supplies are lacking.

 

About 32 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, compared to almost 52 percent nationwide. Last week the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ranked Arkansas ahead of only Mississippi and Alabama in the percentage of people who are fully vaccinated.

 

Information about getting vaccinated is available at the state Health Department’s web site, at this Internet address: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/.

 

 

New Air Force Mission

 

The state will commit $17 million to extending a runway at the Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith.

 

The Air Force announced it would locate a new training center for pilots who fly F-35 Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.

 

Arkansas won out over proposals from military bases in Texas, Indiana, Colorado and Michigan.

 

The Air Force said that the new training center could house 36 fighter aircraft, with 345 U.S. military personnel and 180 members of a training unit from Singapore, and their families.

 

Ebbing is home of the 188th Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard.

 

The governor cited recent legislation that makes Arkansas a good host for military projects, such as tax exemptions for military retirement incomes and streamlining of occupational licenses for military personnel who move to Arkansas from other states.

 

At a conference in Fort Smith, the governor said that Arkansas was well positioned to grow its aerospace and defense industries.

 

At the same conference, the Secretary of Commerce said that aerospace and defense industries are a major part of the Arkansas economy, and account for almost $800 million in exports.

 

More than 10,000 Arkansans work in the aerospace and defense sector. There are 180 Arkansas companies in the aerospace or defense sectors, and their total economic impact is about $2 billion to the state economy.

 

According to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the top export produced in Arkansas are aircraft and aircraft-related parts and services.

The Commerce Secretary credited Arkansas workers for their skills in manufacturing, and noted that jobs in aerospace and defense pay well compared to jobs in other industries.

 

Numerous Arkansas colleges and universities offer degrees and certificate in aerospace-related programs, and Arkansas leads the South in the variety and number of degrees offered. Five campuses offer a certification in Aviation Maintenance Technology.

 

A closely related field is cyber-security. According to the AEDC, 21 institutions offer classes or degrees in cybersecurity.

 

Every year, higher education institutions in Arkansas award about 2,100 students a degree or certificate in engineering or a related field.

 

Moving Battlefield Artifacts

 

Artifacts from Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park are being moved to Jacksonport State Park, because the Prairie Grove park doesn’t have the right type of facility for storing them and preserving them.

 

The artifacts include weapons, artillery shells, uniforms, saddles and furniture. Many are fragile. The change in location may upset neighbors of the battlefield park because many pieces were donated by local families.

 

Also, they are good visual exhibits for park interpreters when teaching about the battle of Prairie Grove, which occurred on December 7, 1862.

Union forces won the day, enabling them to control northwest Arkansas and Missouri for the remainder of the Civil War.

 

The Jacksonport park is near Newport. It was a thriving port at the confluence of the White River and the Black River, and like Prairie Grove it is the location of a Civil War conflict.  

 

6-11-21 9:34 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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USFS Initiating Public Comment Period on Albert Pike Rec Area, Virtual Open House June 23

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – June 7, 2021 – The USDA Forest Service announced today the environmental asssessment for the Albert Pike Recreation Area is available for public comment.

 

The project examined which facilities and infrastructure will support the uses of the Albert Pike Recreation Area in the future. It also included reviewing what would be needed to maintain all recreation facilities to standard; ensure public health and safety; protect resource values; and provide visitors with a variety of participation opportunities, activites and services.

 

The environmental assessment is available online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58793 along with a copy of the legal notice and instructions on how to send in comments. The environmental assessment includes maps for each of the alternatives and describes their respective components. Documentation is also available for review at the District office in Mt. Ida. 

 

Interested members of the public and groups have 30 days following the June 6 publication of the legal notice in the newspaper of record to provide comments. All comments must be in writing and submitted through formal channels. State “Albert Pike Recreation Area” in the subject line when providing electronic comments, or on the envelope when replying by mail. For questions about the proposed action, alternatives, or the commenting process, please contact District Natural Resources Manager at charity.j.ryles@usda.gov.

 

A virtual Open House is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 23 on Microsoft Teams Live. The presentation will include information on the the planning process, the project’s purpose, alternatives and how the public can be involved. A question and answer session will follow the presentation. To attending the virtual open house, go to https://tinyurl.com/Albert-Pike-RA.

 

For more information on the Ouachita National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita.

 

6-7-21 1:58 p.m. KAWX.ORG

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OLT's BIG, The Musical Cast Announced, Dates Rescheduled

OLT Spring Production BIG the Musical is Cast!

 

Big the Musical has been rescheduled for July 2-4 and 9-11 after being canceled in May 2020 due to Covid19 restrictions. Rehearsals are well underway, and reserved seats are available for sale at the OLT office at 610 Mena Street with new office hours. Beginning June 17, the office will be open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 2:00 PM until 6:00 PM. Until then, it will be open Fridays only from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Patrons may also purchase a season ticket which will give access to the musical version of Little Women in August as well as the rest of the season.

 

It’s always exciting to see which of your friends and neighbors will be showing up in Ouachita Little Theatre’s spring musical. Jessica Kropp is directing BIG the Musical, the high energy Broadway smash-hit version of the beloved Tom Hanks movie, BIG. She is assisted by Musical Director Judy Kropp and choreographers, April Burt and Nichole Philpot. Makeup and hair will be overseen by Angel Rodriguez while props and set dressing are the responsibility of Linda Johnson. Jered Biard is in charge of programs. Makayla Kenyon-Ortiz and Alexis Payne will be keeping things calm and organized backstage as Stage Managers. Rudi Timmerman designed and supervised the building of the set along with Scotty Jenkins, and Lorraine Timmerman will utilize her artistic talents to paint the scenery to enhance the production. Judy Kropp is also taking on the role of costumer assisted by Jamie Rath.

 

The cast has been selected. In the leading roles, we will see James Taylor as adult Josh Baskin, Anna Burt as young Josh, Lexi Williams as love interest Susan Lawrence, and Chris Benner as “the boss” Mr. Macmillan. Tiffany Cavelli plays young Josh’s best friend, Alexyss Hildebrand is Mrs. Baskin, and Jaimeson Biard is Paul, a junior executive. The ensemble includes arcade workers, parents, office workers, and youngsters played by the following people: Gregory Blaschka, Jeanie Bunyard, Roy Vail, Bailey Benner, Jacob Kenyon-Ortiz, Kristie Kenyon, Larry Kropp, Jamie Rath, Philena Rath, Robbilee Rath, Hannah Thacker, Annie Windham, Cheyanne Windham, Katelin Haines, Stacey Musgrave, Scotty Jenkins, Brandy Benner, Zach Beaver, Nichole Philpot, Mikel Kenyon-Ortiz, and Jacob Kenyon-Ortiz.

 

All Friday and Saturday performances will be held at 7:30 PM. Sunday matinees are at 2:30 PM.

 

6-7-21 11:31 a.m. KAWX.ORG

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Polk County Sheriff's Report for May 31ST - June 6TH

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of May 31, 2021 – June 6, 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.

 

May 31, 2021

Report of an unattended death on Gandy Lane near Acorn. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 44 near Dallas Valley of damage to mailboxes. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Hwy 8E near Board Camp of a domestic disturbance. Deputy responded.

 

June 1, 2021

Report from complainant on Hwy 88E near Ink of domestic battery. Deputy responded.

Report of neglected animals on Farmers Lane near Hatfield.

Report from complainant on Hwy 88E near Cherry Hill of an incident between family members. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Arrested was Leonard J. Barnett, 31, of Mena, on a Warrant for Disorderly Conduct.

Arrested was Jamie R. Arce, 37, of Hatfield, on four Warrants for Failure to Appear.

Arrested by an officer with the Grannis Police Department was Samuel C. Henley, 38, of Wickes, on a Charge of Public Intoxication, a Charge of Breaking or Entering, and three Warrants for Failure to Appear.

 

June 2, 2021

Report from complainant on East Canterberry near Vandervoort of an incident between acquaintances. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 56 near Dallas Valley of a domestic disturbance led to the arrest of Veronica M. Maddox, 24, of Mena, on a Charge of Domestic Battery 3rd Degree.

 

June 3, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 93 near Rocky of a domestic altercation. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report from Mangus Lane near Grannis of an altercation. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on West Pearl Street near Wickes of a stolen license plate. Deputy responded.

 

June 4, 2021

Report from complainant on Hwy 8E near Board Camp of a No Contact Order being violated. Deputy responded.

Report of an incident where a purchase was made from an individual.

Report from complainant on Hwy 88E near Ink of a No Contact Order being violated. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Hwy 71S near Cove of being threatened. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 45 near Shady Grove of being threatened. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Arrested was Kyle E. Scheppman, 30, of Cove, on a Warrant for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

 

June 5, 2021

Report of an incident between family members. Deputy responded.

Report of a structure fire on Majesty Lane near Potter. Deputy responded.

Report of a motorcycle accident on Polk 44 near Dallas Valley. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Hwy 8W near Shady Grove of a neighbor’s dog killing chickens. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Hwy 246W near Hatfield of an incident between family members.

Deputy responded.

Report of a Facebook account possibly being hacked. Deputy responded.

Report of a UTV accident. Deputies responded.

Report of a domestic altercation on Polk 136 near Cove. Deputy responded.

Arrested was William L. Copelin, 26, of Mena, on a Warrant for Harassment.

Arrested was Isiaha T. Sipe, 23, of Hatfield, on two Warrants for Failure to Appear, and a Warrant for Intent to Defraud a Drug or Alcohol Screening Test.

 

June 6, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 44 near Dallas Valley of a domestic altercation. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 98 near Grannis of a vehicle being rammed. Deputies responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 20 Incarcerated Inmates, with 6 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00469

 

6-7-21 11:23 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

To listen to the Online Polk County, Arkansas Police and Fire Scanner, click anywhere on this line or on the scanner below. 

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Mena Police Report for May 30TH - June 5TH

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of May 30th through June 5th, 2021

 

 

May 30

 

Kasi Dollarhyde, 38, was served with two warrants at the Executive Inn.

 

Joseph Stubbs, 45, was served with two warrants at the county jail.

 

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

 

A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken at Salvation Army.

 

May 31

 

No reports filed.

 

June 1

 

Bruce Huber, 33, was charged with Possession of Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Driving on a Suspended License, and served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Reine Street.

 

Ashley Laughter, 31, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

A report of unpermitted peddlers was taken Proft Circle, Kenwood Way, and 2nd Street.

 

June 2

 

Jakki Hellyer, 28, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

A report of criminal mischief was taken at Country Express.

 

Mykos Pierce, 21, was served with a warrant after a trespassing complaint on Dequeen Street.

 

June 3

 

Abram Abernathy was served with two warrants at the police department.

 

Austin Kain, 24, was charged with Possession of Schedule 6 Controlled Substance, Possession of Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and served with 3 warrants after a traffic stop on Mena Street,

 

June 4

 

A report of harassment and terroristic threat was taken from a person at Salvation Army.

 

June 5

 

A report of a truck backing into a building was taken at Washburn’s Home Furnishings.

 

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

 

6-7-21 11:16 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

To listen to the Online Polk County, Arkansas Police and Fire Scanner, click anywhere on this line or on the scanner below. 

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Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: The Critical Importance of Infrastructure Investment

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: The Critical Importance of Infrastructure Investment
 
Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
 
LITTLE ROCK – Two weeks ago, we were all alarmed to learn about a significant crack in a beam that supports the I-40 Hernando DeSoto Bridge, which connects Arkansas and Tennessee.
 
Inspectors found no other problems, and now that the repair has begun, we can breathe easier. I am grateful inspectors found that crack and prevented a catastrophe.
 
I’m also thankful that Arkansans passed Issue 1 last year to keep the half-cent sales tax for road construction and maintenance. That investment provides continued state funds for the inspection and repair of our highways, roads, and bridges.
 
We’ve been hearing much talk recently about infrastructure. Congress is negotiating an infrastructure package with President Biden. Some of the discussion focuses on exactly what qualifies as infrastructure.
 
In my view, infrastructure includes highways, roads, airports, ship ports, power grids, water supply, communication systems, and now the broadband system. Infrastructure requires partnerships between the private sector and government, and cooperation between state government and federal government.
 
Today, our attention is on our transportation infrastructure and the bridge that crosses the Mississippi River between West Memphis and Memphis. The bridge opened in 1973, and the Arkansas Department of Transportation has retrofit it for earthquakes. About 41,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day. Since we discovered the cracked beam, we have closed the bridge and rerouted traffic to the I-55 bridge, which opened in 1949. Bridge inspectors from Arkansas and Tennessee inspected the bridge after we closed the DeSoto bridge and found the I-55 bridge to be safe.
 
The company that is repairing the bridge has bolted steel plates on each side of the cracked beam. The company has hung the platforms that will support the repair crews.
 
We don’t know how long the bridge will remain closed, but the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation said on Thursday that the repairs may not be completed until August. The closure has caused delays that are costing the trucking industry $2.4 million a day. That’s just one of the costs when we have to shut down a piece of the infrastructure that connects our nation.
 
This near disaster illustrates how interdependent we are. It also illustrates the urgency for states to be proactive in maintaining infrastructure. That is why Issue 1 was so important. Our investment in highways provides Arkansas the resources to inspect roads and bridges and to keep them in good repair, and to respond quickly to emergencies.
 
Everyone knows we need good roads for our daily lives. We also know that maintaining safe roads is expensive. I am grateful that Arkansas voters were willing to approve the money that will allow us to keep our roads and bridges safe.
 
6-4-21 8:17 p.m. KAWX.ORG

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State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Tourism in Arkansas is making a big comeback.  While the pandemic severely impacted the industry in 2020, there are signs that tourism is rebounding and doing better than before the health emergency began.

 

The tourism tax collections for March 2021 exceeded collections from March 2019 by 14.6%.

 

From mountain biking adventures to world-class art museums, Arkansas destinations play an essential role in our economy.

 

Before the pandemic, travel-supported jobs represented 6.6% of Arkansas’s total private industry employment.

 

We also know that 8.4 jobs are created for every $1million spent on tourism in our state.

 

That is why every session, we consider legislation to improve the industry.

 

In the most recent session, we passed Act 777, An Act to Establish the Arkansas Cultural Institutions Trust Fund Act. This legislation directs the Division of Arkansas Heritage to promulgate rules for the distribution of grants to non-profit organizations that acquire or exhibit works of art or works of cultural or historical significance.

 

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.

 

We passed Act 652, which allows for dynamic pricing at state parks.

 

The division may increase or decrease approved rates charged for lodging, camping, events, services, and all other accommodations using a dynamic pricing strategy based on market forces such as seasonal variation in demand, occupancy, market analysis, and special event interest to maximize revenues from the use of state resources to promote the fiscal soundness and long-term sustainability.

 

The legislature also created the Arkansas Legislative Arts and Technology Boot Camp with Act 577. The camp will issue a final written report, including an inventory of Arkansas’s statewide arts and cultural assets, and identify funding needs to maintain a statewide database.

 

Arkansas is home to experiences and attractions found nowhere else. We encourage you to explore everything our state has to offer this summer.

 

6-4-21 5:55 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Help Wanted: Getting Arkansans Back to Work

 

Arkansas, like other states, is rebounding from the pandemic in a stronger position than we might have expected around this time last year.

 

Recently, Governor Hutchinson announced the state had the largest budget surplus in our history at $980 million. Additionally, unemployment in the Natural State is now at 4.4 percent, down from 10 percent in May 2020 and almost two percent below the current national average.

 

Last month the governor announced Arkansas will opt out of the federal supplemental unemployment assistance program. The move, which becomes effective later in June, is designed to encourage more Arkansans to rejoin the workforce now that we are getting back to normal through widespread access to the COVID-19 vaccines and better understanding of the transmission of the virus.

 

I applaud the governor for taking this step to help spur economic recovery. As I talk with business owners around the state, it is clear that labor is in short supply. Common sense tells us that an enhanced $300 per week federal unemployment supplement, on top of existing benefits, is contributing to this shortage of workers.

 

When the governor made the decision to end Arkansas’s participation in the supplemental payment, there were more than 40,000 open jobs across the state of Arkansas.

 

According to the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, when combining the federal unemployment stipend with the maximum state benefit, weekly unemployment insurance payments in our state can be as much as $751 per week – or about $19 an hour.

 

You don’t have to look far to see the effects of that reality in our communities.

 

Many businesses, including local restaurants and retailers, are being hit hardest when it comes to the difficulties that come with being short-staffed – limiting hours of operation, capacity and services. Even those able to offer higher wages and other competitive benefits are having trouble filling open positions.

 

Paying people not to work, especially now that we can safely and confidently return to activities that were risky at the height of the pandemic, is clearly an obstacle that the private sector can’t compete against.

 

Even the Biden administration has tacitly acknowledged the connection between continued enhanced unemployment benefits and labor shortages. The president recently directed the Department of Labor to work with states to reinstate requirements that those receiving unemployment benefits show they are actively seeking work and must accept a suitable offer of employment.

 

Employers are desperate for more help. They are telling anyone who will listen about how this crisis is affecting their ability to stay open and provide the services their customers rely on.

 

It is incumbent on policymakers at every level to help create an environment where work is encouraged and rewarded. Temporary relief was necessary to help Arkansans and all Americans directly impacted by the pandemic, but thankfully we are rapidly closing the door on that chapter.

 

The “help wanted” signs we see hanging in the windows of our favorite local shops and restaurants are as clear a sign as any that we’ve got to do everything we can to mobilize and empower workers to get back into the job market. In Arkansas, we are on that path now and must keep at it.

 

6-4-21 5:53 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

June 4, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – The state is on pace to have a record surplus of more than $1 billion, which is a strong indicator that the Arkansas economy is recovering from the negative effects of the pandemic.

 

The monthly revenue report for May shows that all categories of state taxes improved significantly over the same period last year.

 

With one more month remaining in the state’s fiscal year, the surplus is a record $980 million. The enormous surplus is attributable to several factors: a rebound in business activity in Arkansas and conservative budgeting by the legislature.

 

Also, federal relief funding helped Arkansas families maintain household spending levels, and helped Arkansas companies remain in business. More people went back to work.

 

At the height of the pandemic last year, the legislature and the governor reduced spending by state agencies.

 

The size of the surplus is impressive when compared to the overall size of the state’s general revenue fund. In the 2021 regular session, which ended in late April, the legislature approved a budget for state government that calls for spending $5.8 billion in Fiscal 2022, which will begin on July 1.

 

The record surplus will be a strong argument for legislators who want to reduce state income taxes. The governor has announced that he intends to call a special session in the fall to lower the top state income tax rate.

 

Medical Marijuana Tax Funds for Cancer Institute

 

During the 2021 regular session, the legislature voted to continue providing funds to the state’s medical school from a privilege tax on medical marijuana.

The tax had been scheduled to expire on July 1, but Act 434 of 2021 extends the sunset date for another two years, to July 1, 2023.

 

The privilege tax was first enacted in 2017. It requires businesses that cultivate and dispense medical marijuana to remit 4 percent of their sales to the state. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the state’s major medical college in Little Rock, receives much of the revenue for the goal of achieving a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation for its Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

 

Act 434 will generate $13.3 million next fiscal year. Of that amount, $12.4 million will be deposited to the UAMS National Cancer Designation Trust Fund.

There are 71 NCI centers in the country. The closest to Arkansas are in Memphis, Oklahoma City and Dallas.

 

The National Cancer Institute awards 68 percent of its grants to centers with the NCI designation, which means that UAMS and other facilities without the designation are left to compete for only 32 percent of the funding left available. For many research grants, only NCI centers are eligible.

 

The Rockefeller Institute also is raising money from private donations for getting its NCI designation.

 

The total operating budget for UAMS this year is $1.6 billion. That is projected to increase by 10 percent, or $174 million, by next year.

 

The hospital at UAMS expects the volume of clinical visits and surgeries to return to levels it had before the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The Board of Trustees for the University of Arkansas System met recently, and the medical school did not request any tuition increases for next year.

 

6-4-21 10:05 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Gov. Hutchinson proclaims June 11-13 Free Fishing Weekend in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK – Thanks to a proclamation by Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday, anyone may fish in Arkansas without a fishing license or trout stamp from noon Friday, June 11, through midnight Sunday night, June 13. The proclamation was read at the beginning of the Commission's May meeting by Megan Perkins, agriculture liaison to Hutchinson’s office.

 

An annual tradition sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and approved by Gov. Hutchinson, Free Fishing Weekend gives many people the opportunity to enjoy the amazing angling The Natural State has to offer. Residents and nonresidents may fish without a fishing license or trout permit. All other regulations, such as daily limits and size restrictions on certain bodies of water, still apply during this weekend.

 

The AGFC will host special fishing derbies at four of its freshwater hatcheries June 12 in celebration of the annual event.

 

“This year we are excited to announce that not only youth, but the entire family may come out and fish with us at our warmwater hatcheries,” said Ben Batten, chief of the AGFC’s Fisheries Division. “Unfortunately we will not be able to conduct a fishing derby at the Spring River trout hatchery in Mammoth Spring, but all other hatcheries will be available to Arkansans. People will need to register in advance to ensure we have adequate space and parking on the hatchery grounds, but we look forward to a return to the hatchery derbies after they had to be canceled last year.”

 

Visit www.agfc.com/en/education/calendar/annual-event/free-fishing-weekend-statewide-2021 for more information on Free Fishing Weekend and the hatchery derbies planned.

 

A feed of the meeting is available on the AGFC’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHOF9Jd7oFk.

In other business, the Commission:

 

  • Hired Austin Booth to serve as the agency’s director following Director Pat Fitts’ retirement June 30. Click here for this news story.
  • Officially named the new boating access area being placed on the Mississippi River near Arkansas City the Gov. Mike Beebe Mississippi River Access.
  • Heard from James Brandenburg, Arkansas chapter chair of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, with a presentation on their partnership with the AGFC on behalf of wild public lands, waters and wildlife.
  • Recognized 10 employees with a combined 235 years of experience for their service and dedication to the natural resources of Arkansas.
  • Awarded retiring wildlife officer Col. Greg Rae his service sidearm for 26 years of service to the AGFC.
  • Approved support for the proposed submission of applications to the Arkansas Department of Transportation to try to obtain grant funds from their Recreational Trails Program and Transportation Alternatives Program to repair and improve portions of the existing trail system at the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro.
  • Heard the first reading of a change to the agency’s live fish trade regulations to correct a minor typographical error in the code.
  • Approved a 50-cent increase to the processing fee on electronic federal duck stamp sales to offset the increase in processing costs from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Approved a new agency substance abuse prevention and handling policy.
  • Approved a cost of living adjustment for AGFC employees of 2.5 percent to their annual salaries.
  • Approved a $100 incentive to AGFC employees who receive a COVID-19 vaccine based on a recommendation by Gov. Hutchinson.
  • Approved the disposal of obsolete inventory with an original value of $100,799.27 and a current net book value of $7,692.81.

A video of the meeting is available at https://www.youtube.com/user/ArkansasGameandFish.

 

6-2-21 6:22 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Polk County Sheriff's Report for May 24th - 30th

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of May 24, 2021 – May 30, 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.

 

May 24, 2021

Report of a disturbance at the Polk County Courthouse led to the arrest of Kirk W. Grafton, 50, of Mena, on a Charge of Disorderly Conduct.

 

May 25, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 76 near Acorn of fraudulent bank activity. Deputy responded.

 

May 26, 2021

Report of a hit and run accident on Hwy 71N near Mena. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 53 near Dallas Valley of a break in and theft of tools, an air compressor, a beer stein, a Husky mower, and a fiberglass boat, totaling losses at $1,100.00. Deputy responded.

Report of possible elder abuse. Deputy responded.

 

May 27, 2021

Report from complainant on Hwy 88E near Ink of being stabbed in the foot. Deputy responded.

Report of a sexual assault. Deputy responded.

Report of the discovery of a suspicious substance led to two juveniles being issued Juvenile Citations for Possession of Marijuana. Juveniles were released to the custody of a parent/guardian.

Arrested was Sarah R. Beck, 36, of Mena, on a Warrant for Delivery of Meth or Cocaine and Delivery of a Schedule VI Controlled Substance.

Arrested was Dale D. Shimel, 32, of Vandervoort, on a Charge of Public Intoxication.

 

May 28, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 661 near Cherry Hill of a scam involving an online purchase. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Jason W. Busby, 47, of Mena, on a Charge of Parole Revocation, Terroristic Act, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Arrested by a trooper with the Arkansas State Police was Michael V. Henderson, 31, of Mena, on a Charge of DWI.

 

May 29, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 16 near Vandervoort of receiving threatening texts. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Polk 44 near Dallas Valley of a domestic disturbance. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Arrested was Jarad A. Miller, 22, of Gillham on a Warrant for Failure to Appear, and a Warrant for Failure to Comply.

Arrested was Bryan E. Sturgis, 54, of Mena, on a Parole Hold.

 

May 30, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 659 near Board Camp of a garage window being broken out. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Wild Rose Lane near Acorn of items missing from a residence. Deputies responded.

Report from complainant on Heritage Lane near Hatfield of property damage. Deputy responded. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for further consideration of charges.

Report of a Violation of an Order of Protection. Deputy responded.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 22 Incarcerated Inmates, with 6 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00442

 

6-1-21 7:27 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

To listen to the Polk County Online Police and Fire Scanner, click anywhere on this line or on the polcie scanner below.

 

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State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Directly behind the Capitol stands a monument honoring those Arkansas families who sacrificed more than most.

 

The Gold Star Family Memorial Monument reminds us daily here at the Capitol that without those sacrifices, our freedom could not and would not have been preserved.

 

Arkansas has citizens in nearly every community willing to make such sacrifices.

 

Whether they volunteered, served during peacetime, or never expected to serve until their draft card arrived, those who wear our nation’s uniform represent the best America has to offer.

 

Honoring our veterans with words alone falls terribly short if we do not bring those words to life by honoring them equally with our deeds. 

We can always offer our support. We can place flags and wreaths at their graves. We can donate to charities that provide for their families.

 

Business owners can offer a special veteran discount.  We can volunteer at the VA hospital or pick up the tab for the table with a soldier at a restaurant.

We can also honor the lives lost by remembering and retelling their stories.

 

We can recognize their sacrifices by taking care of their comrades who served.  In the Arkansas legislature, we strived to do just that.  In recent years, we’ve eliminated taxes on military retirement and survivor benefits. And just this year, we established the Arkansas Military Affairs Council Act and 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.

 

President Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Those who have enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy, forget in time that men have died to win them.”

May we all remember them this Memorial Day and commit to living a life every day worthy of their sacrifice.

 

6-1-21 11:19 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Congratulations Graduates

 

The development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has guided the nation back to normalcy. I have enjoyed resuming in-person meetings with Arkansans instead of conducting business over the phone or online platforms, and I have seen the hope and optimism that exists for so many people who have endured a challenging year. There is a lot of promise for the future, particularly as we recognize the accomplishments of students who adapted to the unique circumstances to earn their diplomas.

 

The Class of 2021 showed unyielding character, resilience and commitment to education which culminated in academic success. It certainly wasn’t easy. We can be proud of the collaboration between parents, students, administrators and teachers that made this memorable school year one that put the needs of kids first.

 

We have been blessed by the example of Arkansas’s teachers and their extraordinary work. They learned new skills overnight, overhauled curriculum and reimagined every aspect of their classroom to comply with COVID-19 guidelines. Somehow, they also made kids feel safe enough to learn, set an example with their positive attitudes and let students know how important they were, whether in a classroom or on a computer screen.

 

As they worked to maintain the academic progress of each child, they also provided a lifeline in an otherwise chaotic time. It is amazing to see the smiles on the faces of children when they see their teachers. Even though nothing was normal, they gave students an escape back to normalcy by being there and continuing to do what they do best – teach.

 

When we look back at the heroes of this tumultuous time, it is clear that teachers will be among those we honor as our society’s most valuable players.

 

Throughout history, teachers and coaches have been, and will continue to be, role models. That’s true in my own life. At the University of Arkansas, my football coach Frank Broyles told my teammates and me that “There are two kinds of people in this world – givers and takers. Live your life as a giver.” I’ve carried Coach Broyles’ words with me ever since. They help guide the way I live and serve because I’ve seen what happens when they get put into action and experienced the reward in helping others.

 

It’s a message I often share with graduates. Subiaco Academy’s Class of 2021 invited me to its commencement exercises in mid-May. For the final assignment of high school, I encouraged them to use what they learned to make a difference. My advice to these students was simple: choose wisely what you point your life at — work, stability, obedience, community, justice and peace — and you can change the world.

 

My hope for the Class of 2021, and all Arkansans, is to experience the happiness and fulfillment that comes from lending a hand to someone else.

 

It’s a welcome sign that we can resume celebrating this milestone together with the pomp and circumstance it deserves. I’m proud to recognize the accomplishments of graduates, all students who have demonstrated their ability to adapt how they learn, the teachers who rose to the challenge and the parents who rearranged their schedules to accommodate learning changes. As we close another school year, I wish them all a great summer and much success in the years ahead.

 

6-1-21 11:17 a.m. KAWX.ORG

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Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Getting Across the COVID Finish Line

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Getting Across the COVID Finish Line
 
Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
 
LITTLE ROCK – The state’s emergency health declaration ends this Sunday, and today I’d like to encourage Arkansans to remember that although the emergency has passed, we are still in a pandemic.
 
We have plenty of reasons to be optimistic, though. Our hospitalizations are down. The General Assembly enacted into law my emergency orders that allowed telemedicine and liability protection. Now every Arkansan 12 and older has access to vaccines, and the vaccine is the best way to manage COVID.
But these encouraging signs and the end of the emergency declaration do not change the fact that COVID-19 is still in our community. The public health concerns remain, and we must continue to take it seriously.
 
Throughout the pandemic, I have worked closely with my team at the Arkansas Department of Health as we decided the best course of action. After consulting Health Secretary Dr. José Romero and his experts, I am confident that ending the declaration is the correct action. Arkansans have demonstrated they will do the right thing, so we can safely move from an emergency response to the day-by-day management of the virus.
 
The Centers for Disease Control reports that 50 percent of adult Arkansans have at least one shot. That is good, but we must do better. And we hope to have seventy-percent of all Arkansans to be vaccinated.
 
We all know that vaccinations are our way out of the pandemic, and that is why I am supporting a program of incentives to help move Arkansas across the finish line.
On Tuesday, I announced the state will purchase fifty-thousand Arkansas Scholarship Lottery scratch-off tickets and fifty-thousand gift certificates for hunting and fishing licenses from Arkansas Game and Fish. Starting this week, everyone who receives a vaccination will get the choice of a lottery ticket or the Game and Fish certificate. If we hand out all of those, we’ll purchase more if this proves successful to motivate more people to get a shot.
 
In addition for Memorial Day weekend, the Department of Health is partnering with Arkansas State Parks to stage vaccination clinics at three of our state parks – DeGray Lake, Mississippi River, and Petit Jean. The name of everyone who receives a shot at one of these clinics will be entered into a drawing for two nights of free lodging at any of our state parks.
 
Last week, I announced that employees of the state’s executive branch agencies who receive the vaccination will receive a one-hundred-dollar bonus. We want employees to be immunized so they can be safe. But we also want to create a safe environment for those who must come into a state office, whether it’s to get a driver’s license or register a business.
 
Memorial Day is the time we officially set aside to honor the memory of those who have given their life in service to the United States. Memorial Day also is the unofficial start of summer. This year, Memorial Day also marks the end of the COVID-19 emergency for Arkansans. We are making progress against the pandemic. Normal life is in sight, and that’s something to be thankful for this Memorial Day.
 
6-1-21 11:14 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

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Mena Police Report for May 23rd - 29th

 

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of May 23rd through May 29th, 2021

 

May 23

 

Alexis Simon, 20, was served with a warrant at Limetree Inn.

 

A report of littering was taken from Simple Simon’s Pizza.

 

May 24

 

William Robison, 38, was served with two warrants at the police department.

 

A report of criminal trespass was taken at a residence on Magnolia Avenue.

 

A report of criminal trespass and littering was taken at Rich Mountain Electric and Dequeen Street Apartments.

 

May 25

 

Garrett Puerto, 25, and Laurie Pecora, 23, were both charged with Domestic Battery 3rd Degree and Disorderly Conduct after a disturbance call to a residence on Rogers Avenue.

 

May 26

 

Aaron Tyler, 28, was charged with Disorderly Conduct and Criminal Mischief after a disturbance call to Executive Inn.

 

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

 

May 27

 

A report of criminal mischief was taken from Walmart.

 

A report of criminal mischief and careless or prohibited driving was taken at Walmart.

 

A repot of dog running at large was taken on Carder Avenue.

 

May 28

 

No reports taken.

 

May 29

 

No reports taken.

 

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

 

6-1-21 11:05 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

To listen to the Online Polk County Police and Fire Scanner, click anywhere on this line or on the police scaner below. 

 

To see the current inmates in the Polk County Detention center, click anyhwere on this line.

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