KAWX News Archives for 2021-08

Polk County Sheriff's Log for August 23RD -29TH

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of August 23, 2021 – August 29, 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.

 

August 23, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of harassment.

Deputies responded to a report of a windshield being cracked by a rock thrown by another vehicle on Hwy 8 E near Mena.

 

August 24, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of fraudulent bank activity.

Jearl Wilkinson, 37 of Cove was arrested on a warrant for domestic battery 3rd degree.

 

August 25, 2021

No reports were filed.

 

August 26, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a vehicle fire on Polk 71 near Ink.

Deputies responded to a report of a break-in on Polk 28 near Hatfield.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of harassment. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney.

Deputies responded to a report of a dispute on Cardinal Lane near Acorn.

Jimmy Wright, 36 of Mena was arrested on a felony warrant for delivery of methamphetamine.

 

August 27, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a domestic battery on Polk 44 near Dallas Valley.

Deputies responded to a report of a rabid animal on Polk 282 near Hatfield.

Jason Cox, 35 of Mena was arrested on a failure to appear warrant.

Brittiany Mendel, 31 of Mena was arrested on charges of domestic battery.

Deputies responded to a report of commercial burglary at a church in the Rocky community.

 

August 28, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of an accident on Hwy 8 E that led to the arrest of Joseph Ryan, 30 of Oden on charges of DWI, fictitious tags, no proof of insurance, careless driving and no ignition interlock device.

Ricky Robinson, 32 of Oden was arrested on charges of probation violation and a body attachment.

While patrolling on Polk 31, deputies discovered a vehicle on the side of the road leading to the arrest of Rebecca McEntire, 42 of Cove on charges of possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a schedule VI controlled substance.

Deputies responded to a report of a vehicle in a ditch at Polk 74 and Polk 75 near Acorn.

 

August 29, 2021

Lukas Holliday, 31 of Mena was arrested on five failure to appear warrants.

Deputies responded to a report of a stolen four-wheeler on Polk 280 near Vandervoort. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.  

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 3 vehicle accidents this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 15 Incarcerated Inmates, with 4 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00716

 

8-30-21 4:32 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

Mena Police Report for August 22ND - 28TH

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of August 22nd through August 28th, 2021

 

August 22

 

No reports.

 

August 23

 

A report of breaking or entering and criminal mischief was taken at a residence on Ridge Avenue.

 

August 24

 

Shawn Fender, 51, was charged with Possession of Meth, Driving on a Suspended License, No Vehicle License, No Insurance, Failure to Signal, and Disorderly Conduct after a traffic stop on Janssen Avenue.

 

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

 

Danielle Stueart, 30, was served with two warrants after a disturbance call to the Northside Shopping Center.

 

A report of residential burglary, violation of an order of protection, criminal mischief, and stalking was taken at a residence on Petros Avenue.

 

August 25

 

A report of domestic battery was taken at a residence on Morrow Street.

 

Summer Burkett, 26, was charged with Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct after a disturbance call to Mountain View Drive.

 

August 26

 

Gary Smith, 43, was charged with Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct after a trespassing complaint from Walmart.

 

Billy Fletcher, 34, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

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

 

Michael White, 55, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

August 27

 

Timothy Bass, 41, was served with three warrants after a vehicle accident at Walmart.

 

August 28

 

A report of breaking or entering was taken at Car Bath car wash.

 

A report of criminal mischief was taken at a residence on Mountain View Drive.

 

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

 

8-30-21 11:29 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Arkansas Aviation Then and Now

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Arkansas Aviation Then and Now
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – Airports and air travel are essential to Arkansas’s growth and economic development, and the history of aeronautics in Arkansas is colorful. Today I’d like to talk about this industry that has contributed so much to the high quality of life in the Natural State.
 
Charles McDermott, a transplant from Louisiana, was one of Arkansas’s first aviators. The 1872 patent for his airplane was titled “Improvement in Apparatus for Navigating the Air.” The machine was built with flaps and the pilot operated it with his feet.
 
According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Mr. McDermott exhibited his invention at the Arkansas booth in 1876 at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. History doesn’t record whether any of his flying machines actually flew.
 
In May 1910, Fort Smith was the site of Arkansas’s first well-documented flight when James C. “Bud” Mars hit sixty-miles-per-hour in a Curtiss Bi-Plane.
 
Louise Thaden, who was from Bentonville, won the Women’s Air Derby in 1929. In 1936, she and her co-pilot beat all the men pilots in the Bendix Trophy race from New York to Los Angeles. The first African American known to receive a pilot’s license was Pickens W. Black, a Jackson County planter from Blackville. His private pilot license was issued in November 1933 and his last in 1958.
 
Those pioneers laid the foundation for an industry that has grown into 99 publicly owned general aviation public-use airports; and 3,400 general-aviation aircraft. We have nearly 6,000 pilots, four FAA-approved pilot schools, nearly 2,000 student pilots; and more than 800 flight instructors.
 
General aviation airports contribute $467 million to the state’s economy every year with 5,100 jobs and a payroll of nearly $167 million. That doesn’t include the general aviation jobs at commercial-service airports across the state.
 
The “Economic Impact of Arkansas Airports” report shows that all sectors of the industry combined provide more than 42,000 jobs; generate $1.5 billion in payroll; and produce $3.5 billion in economic activity.
 
The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas National Airport, known as XNA, are among the one-hundred largest airports in the nation. Between them, the two fly nearly two-million passengers a year.
 
A robust air-travel system is high on the list for site selectors who are considering Arkansas. To maintain our top-flight system,  the Division of Aeronautics oversees the industry with a staff of five and a commission with seven members that the governor appoints. To underscore the importance of the industry, in 2019, I moved the division into the Arkansas Department of Commerce as part of my government transformation initiative.
 
Like every other business, COVID turned the airline industry on its head. In 2020, air travel was down 50% nationally. Travel spending decreased from nearly a trillion dollars in 2019 to $679 billion last year. That affects so many other areas, such as business travel, conventions, and tourism.
 
As our air-travel industry emerges from the pandemic, we can look to the ingenuity and tenacity of our founding flyers such as Charles McDermott, Pickens Black, Louise Thaden, and Bud Mars, and soon Arkansas aviation will be flying higher than ever.
 
8-27-21 5:31 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

This week, the Arkansas Legislative Council Higher Education Subcommittee reviewed details of a new program designed to benefit Arkansans who have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The Reimagine Arkansas Workforce Project provides funding for qualifying individuals to complete online training at no cost in order to meet workforce needs across the state.

 

The U.S. Department of Education awarded a grant worth over $13 million to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board and the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services to fund the Reimagine Arkansas Workforce Project. Project partners include state agencies, U of A Global Campus Professional and Workforce Development, Shorter College, and iDatafy LLC. The partners expect to serve 3,000 Arkansans.

 

Arkansans who are unemployed, underemployed, are new to the workforce and/or have no work history, are a member of an underrepresented population, receive public assistance, reside in rural areas, are a veteran, are the spouse of a veteran, are homeless, are 55 years of age or older, previously incarcerated, have been paroled, or are on probation are encouraged to apply.

 

Training programs include business, construction, health care, manufacturing, project management, technology, veterinary, and more.

 

Those working with the program can help participants identify career pathways that may be best for them. They can also assist with resume services and connect participants with potential employers.

 

This week, we also learned that the unemployment rate in Arkansas declined one-tenth of a percentage point, from 4.4 percent in June to 4.3 percent in July. The national unemployment rate is 5.4%. Job opportunities are abundant right now in our state. We hope the Reimagine Arkansas Workforce Program will help connect more Arkansans to a meaningful career.

 

If you are interested in learning more about the program, visit our website www.arkansashouse.org.

 

8-27-21 4:24 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Let’s Support Farmers, Ranchers and Landowners with Commonsense Water Rule

 

Utilizing our natural resources is a way of life for Arkansans. Citizens of the Natural State have set a good example for stewardship of the environment because we understand our agriculture and outdoor recreation industries are dependent on our ability to sustain and protect our land and water. We need simple, commonsense rules that allow us to preserve these resources.

 

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) accomplished that and achieved certainty and predictability for farmers, ranchers and landowners. This Trump-era regulation clearly and reasonably defines the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) and protects our waters without eroding the rights of landowners to use their property. It restored the appropriate balance between federal and state authority and reflected the congressional intent behind the Clean Water Act with a practical approach to water quality protection. Just as importantly, it had widespread support among farmers, ranchers and landowners.

 

On day one of his presidency, President Biden signed an executive order essentially beginning to roll back this rule. In June, the administration announced its intent to repeal the NWPR. This action empowers the federal government to again expand its authority over what’s done on private land.

 

Landowners have expressed their concerns about this reversal because they’ve experienced the painful uncertainty and inconsistency that resulted from the one-size-fits-all approach the NWPR replaced. The previous rule was onerous, costly and unfair. It put bureaucrats in Washington in a position to control ditches, ponds and puddles on private land in Arkansas and all across the country.

 

Attempts to revive this bad policy now will result in similar consequences and threaten the already fragile economic recovery by adding another burden on our farmers and ranchers who are already facing challenging production conditions.

 

We all agree that we need clean water, but the administration’s effort to reformulate the WOTUS rule is more about how much authority the federal government and unelected bureaucrats should have to regulate what is done on private land. It is not about finding the most responsible and workable way to protect our water.

 

State and local governments can be trusted to protect waters within their jurisdiction. There is no question that experts at these levels of government will be more successful than federal oversight by unelected bureaucrats sitting behind their desks in Washington.

 

We have a responsibility to ensure America’s water is clean and to create policies to maintain the safety and reliability of this precious resource for the future, which is why I’ve always supported sound policies that protect our environment in a way that respects and upholds the rights of citizens.

 

The NWPR successfully balances the needs of landowners while simultaneously protecting our land and water. I will continue working with my colleagues to prevent attempts to overreach and hold the administration accountable to ensure regulations written by federal agencies do not infringe on farmers, ranchers and landowners. 

 

As I spend the coming days with Arkansas agricultural producers during my annual Agriculture Tour, I will be assuring them that I will continue to be a reliable advocate for our family farms and oppose policies that hinder their ability to use their land in a responsible and sustainable manner.

 

8-27-21 3:58 p.m. KAWX.ORG

 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

August 27, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the state Education Department, and against four south Arkansas school districts that want to be exempt from the state school choice law.

 

The Hope, Camden-Fairview, Junction City and Lafayette County School Districts had argued in court that if they had to comply with the Arkansas School Choice Act of 2017, white flight would create a new era of segregation in their classrooms.

 

The 2017 act was the most recent of several school choice laws that the legislature has enacted over the past 30 years. Before 2017, the four districts had been allowed to exempt themselves from state school choice laws. That’s because previous state laws allowed exemptions for schools under federal court orders to desegregate.

 

The four districts went to court because the 2017 school choice law denied them the ability to exempt themselves, as they had been able to do previously.

 

Last week a three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the four districts and in favor of the state. The state attorney general defended the state Education Department and the 2017 school choice act.

 

If discrimination still exists within the four school districts it cannot be directly traced to the Arkansas school choice law, the federal judges wrote. Even though the four districts are under federal court order to desegregate, those orders have been in place for many years and are “dormant,” they said.

 

A lower court abused its discretion when it originally decided in favor of the four districts and blocked student transfers, the federal appellate judges said.

 

“We also note that we have concerns about these desegregation orders continuing in place. The orders have been in place for decades,” the judges on the Eighth Circuit wrote in their majority opinion. “Such entrenched federal oversight should have raised red flags long ago... It is unclear on this record if there is any reason for the continued federal oversight.”

 

The four districts were sued decades ago for racial discrimination against African-American students and staff.

 

Since those initial lawsuits were decided, the four districts have been operating under federal court orders to desegregate.

 

However, the panel of judges on the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court called those old court orders “dormant” and said “it may be wise” for a lower court to consider removing the schools from federal jurisdiction.

 

On the other hand, a dissenting judge said that evidence presented by the four districts clearly demonstrates the problems caused by white flight.

 

The evidence indicates that a large majority of the student transfer requests came from white families. For example, one year Hope schools received 70 requests for transfers out of the district, and 68 were from white families.

 

The Lafayette County district lost 30 white students one year when it was not exempt from the school choice law.

 

A former superintendent of Camden-Fairview testified that the district was able to desegregate schools because of its exemption from the school choice law.

 

In a prepared statement, the state attorney general said that the Eighth Circuit ruling was a win for parents affirming their right to choose schools that best suit the needs of their children.

 

8-27-21 9:38 a.m. KAWX.ORG

US, Arkansas Flags To Half Staff For Kabul Terrorist Attack Victims

President Joe Biden has ordered flags to fly at half-staff to honor and pay respects to the U.S. service members and other victims killed in the terrorist attack on August 26, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Flags should remain lowered until sunset on August 30, 2021.

 

Governor Asa Hutchinson released the following statement on Thursday:

 

"The news of the terrorist attack at the Kabul airport is tragic. The loss of U.S. servicemembers is heartbreaking and reminds us all of the risk of the evacuation mission and all that is at stake as our courageous military personnel work to save lives in the coming days. Let's all be praying for safety and for the decisions that our leaders must make."

 

8-27-21 7:30 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Fall Events at the OLT

Fall Announcements for OLT

 

After two successful summer musicals, BIG and Little Women, Ouachita Little Theatre will be taking a short break during the month of September. Due to Covid19 concerns, the monthly Wednesday Night at the Lyric event showcasing free classic films will be postponed in September. Hopefully the community response to the Covid numbers will indicate a safer environment for indoor gatherings for October and the popular “movie night” can return October 13.

 

Toward the end of October, OLT’s “Just 4 Fun Players” will present performances of “The 39 Steps.” Part spy mystery and part humorous “whodunit”, this fast-paced show will provide audiences with laughter and suspense. Shows will be at two venues, Mena Mountain Resort and the OLT stage. Details regarding times and dates will be announced shortly.

 

Reserve Saturday evening November 13 or Sunday afternoon, November 14, for a special global event in which OLT will be participating. This event is entitled “All Together Now” and it is a celebration sponsored by Music Theatre International (MTI) that will be taking place simultaneously with hundreds of theaters all over the world. MTI has granted special permission to schools and local theaters to locally produce and perform an exclusive musical revue featuring songs from their beloved shows without having to pay royalties or other expenses. It is intended to encourage theaters attempting to “come back” from the darkened theaters of the pandemic.

 

Directed by musical veteran Judy Kropp, some of your favorite OLT performers will entertain patrons with fantastic memorable showtunes, many of which have been previously performed at OLT through the years. This program is a special fundraiser not included on the OLT season ticket, and all admissions will be a flat $10 fee per person. Additional donations will be grateful accepted.

 

Watch this publication for details on all these great opportunities for entertainment in Polk County!

 

8-26-21 5:00 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Quorum Court Meeting Recap, Census Woes

The Polk County Quorum Court met Tuesday evening for their regular monthly session. The meeting was short, only routine business. All 10 Justices of the Peace were present. Polk County has 11 Justice of the Peace positions, one is vacant now after the death of JP Basil Kesterson. The Governor will appoint a replacement for Kesterson to serve out the remainder of his term, which is through the end of 2022.

 
In addition to the Justices of the Peace, County Clerk Terri Harrison, and Judge Brandon Ellison, the meeting was attended by the prosecutor and assistant prosecutor, sheriff, and six visitors, some of which were county employees. 
 
Judge Ellison told the JPs that the 2020 Census numbers for Polk County were worse than had been expected. Polk County's official population dropped about 7% from 20,662 in 2010 to 19,221 in 2020, a decrease of 1,441 people, which will cause the county to be reclassified as a Class 2 County.
 
In addition to the reclassification, the county will lose two Justices of the Peace, down to 9, lose some highway funding and turn back money, and the sales tax distribution between the county and the 6 towns in the county will change. Redistricting, as a result of the Census, will change the areas Congressmen and State Representatives and State Senators represent. The amount of 911 money the county gets will actually increase due to the new classification.
 
The City of Mena also lost population, the official 2010 population was 5,737, and the official 2020 population is 5,589, a decrease of 148 people. 

Even though Arkansas gained population in the 2020 Census, most of it was in northwest Arkansas. Most all of the rural counties lost population. Judge Ellison shared that Phillips County lost 23%, almost a quarter of their population, between 2010 and 2020. 
 
For more detailed Census information, click here or here.
 
8-25-21 10:30 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Report for August 16TH -22ND

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of August 16, 2021 – August 22, 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.

 

August 16, 2021

A deputy responded to a report on Hwy 8 East near Nunley of a complainant being cut off and punched.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of harassment.

Matthew Austin, 65 of Pryor, Oklahoma was arrested by an officer with the Arkansas State Police on a charge of DWI.

Ronald Wagner, 41 of Waldron was arrested on a charge of breaking or entering.

Deputies responded to a possible burglary at a business on Hwy 71 north of Mena.

 

August 17, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a vehicle on fire on Hwy 71 north of Acorn.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of harassment.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of harassment.

Timothy Hutson, 55 of Mena was arrested on a charge or driving on a suspended license.

Chad Lowder, 46 of Fort Smith was arrested on a charge of probation violation.

Report of a dog bite victim. Owner was advised to quarantine the dog for ten days.

 

August 18, 2021

A report of a domestic disturbance on Polk 42 near Potter led to the arrest of Kyle Martin, 39 of Mena on a charge of domestic battery.

 

August 19, 2021

No reports were filed.

 

August 20, 2021

Joseph Stubbs, 45 of Mena was arrested on a body attachment and two failure to appear charges.

Teresa Davis, 62 of Mena was arrested on a charge of public intoxication.

Deputies responded to a report of a physical altercation on Hwy 8 E near Big Fork. Information was forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

August 21, 2021

Deputies responded to a physical domestic on Polk 24 near Cove, leading to the arrest of Michael Jones, 23 of Cove on a charge of domestic battery 3rd degree.

 

August 22, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of an altercation on Polk 178 near Acorn.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant of a stolen vehicle.

Deputies responded to a verbal altercation on Stone Lane near Acorn. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 0 vehicle accidents this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 12 Incarcerated Inmates, with 5 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

PC21-00695

 

8-23-21 3:15 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for August 15TH - 21ST

Mena Police Department reports for the week of August 15th through August 21st, 2021

 

August 15

 

A report of domestic battery was taken from a person at Mena Regional Health System.

 

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

 

A report of cruelty to animals was taken at a residence on Lincoln Avenue.

 

August 16

 

Bobby May, 33, was charged with Theft of Services at a residence on Locust Street after a complaint from the water department.

 

Bobby May, 33, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

Matthew Miller, 36, was served with two warrants at the county jail.

 

August 17

 

Jessie Zamora, 38, was served with a warrant and Trevor Johnson, 23, was charged with Possession of Meth and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop on 1st Street.

 

August 18

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

August 19

 

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

 

A report of possession of drug paraphernalia was taken at the Corner.

 

August 20

 

Donavan Hunt, 30, was charged with Fleeing in a Vehicle, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, Driving on a Suspended License, and Careless or Prohibited Driving after an attempted traffic stop on Mena Street.

 

A report of a dog bite was taken from a person at Chopping Block Steakhouse.

 

August 21

 

No reports. 

 

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

 

8-23-21 11:27 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over, Labor Day Drunk Driving Crack Down

As Arkansans begin looking forward to plans of a final summer getaway, law enforcement officers are preparing to saturate the highways with additional patrols during the Labor Day holiday.  The mission is to keep streets and highways safe by identifying and arresting drunk drivers.
 
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over impaired driving awareness campaign begins Friday, August 20th and will remain active through September 6th.  Arkansas State Troopers, sheriff’s deputies and city police officers will be unified during the operation designed to arrest drunk drivers who threaten the safety of others traveling on Arkansas road.
 
Lives lost in highway crashes across the nation involving alcohol impaired drivers during 2019 totaled 10,142, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  That’s one person killed every 52 minutes in a drunk driving crash.  On average, more than 10,000 people were killed in drunk driving crash each year from 2015 to 2019.
 
 “The statistics left behind from these deaths each year represent thousands of sad and troubling stories from the families of each victim,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “That’s why law enforcement agencies in Arkansas are working together with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, but also a matter of life and death for those who count on us to keep the highways safe by arresting drunk drivers.”
 
  The Arkansas Highway Safety Office and NHTSA are reminding everyone of the many resources available to get them home safely and offer these tips:
 
  • If you plan on drinking, plan not to drive.
  • Plan a safe way home before you leave.  It’s never okay to drink and drive, even if the driver has consumed only one alcoholic beverage.  
  • Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely.  
  • If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to drive you home.  
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.  
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.  
  • Buckle up, always. Your seat belt is your best defense against the drunk driver.  
“The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is more than just a partnership among law enforcement to remove drunk drivers from the highway during the Labor Day holiday,” Colonel Bryant said.  “We need the commitment from communities and citizens to work with law enforcement every day and help keep the streets and highways safe for everyone.”
 
 For more information on impaired driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org.
 
8-20-21 4:35 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address:

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Overcoming the Hesitancy
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – Over the past several weeks, I have visited 16 communities on my Community COVID Conversations tour, and I heard heartfelt concerns, heartbreaking stories, and heartening testimonies about the value of the COVID-19 vaccines.
 
I launched the tour in an effort to increase the vaccination rate in Arkansas and to engage the community to overcome hesitancy.
 
The face-to-face gatherings allowed me the opportunity to speak, and more importantly, perhaps, people in the communities had the chance to hear from each other.
 
One frequent topic was about different treatment options, including ones that many doctors won’t prescribe. At the Camden meeting, Calhoun County Judge Floyd Nutt joked that if we banned the cattle dewormer that some people reportedly are taking, people might be more willing to take the vaccination.  Then he turned serious and admitted at the beginning he thought the whole vaccination campaign was political, and that he and his wife had been hardheaded and refused to get the shot. But after discussions with his son-in-law, who is a doctor, the judge and his wife got the vaccine.
 
The Camden meeting gave Dr. Jera Smith the chance to respectfully provide correct information to a pastor who spoke about the rate of miscarriages in pregnant women who took the vaccine. The number of miscarriages is one in four, the same as the rate before the pandemic, she said. She pointed out that women who are immunized during the third trimester of their pregnancy pass the COVID antibodies to their babies.
 
Dr. Smith also used her medical knowledge to assure us with a detailed explanation that the vaccines do not alter DNA.
 
In Texarkana, Ward 2 Director Laney Harris cited the terrible Tuskegee experiment in the 1930s to explain why members of the African American community don’t trust the government’s recommendation for medical treatment of COVID.
 
Dr. Loren Robinson, chief medical officer of St. Michael Health System, spoke of her initial hesitancy to take the vaccine because she was pregnant. She walked us through the thought process and personal evaluation that eventually led her to get the vaccine.
In Siloam Springs, some of the participants were passionate, even angry, which I expect anytime you discuss the overlap of personal choice, public health, and the role of government.  That is the beauty of these gatherings. Through these conversations, people hear from both sides. That’s the best we can do. I want Arkansans to make good judgments, and accurate information is essential.
 
I understand the hesitation of some to take the vaccine, but I’m not asking anyone to do anything I’m not willing to do. The First Lady and I are fully vaccinated. I encouraged all the members of my family to get vaccinated as well.
 
If your hesitation comes from distrust of the government, national medical authorities, or the pharmaceutical industry, talk to your family doctor or talk someone you trust. My hope is that you will decide to take the best action to protect yourself, your family, and your neighbors. COVID-19 is real, and it’s stealing too many of our loved ones unnecessarily.
 
To end on a positive note, fifty-one percent of Arkansans have had at least one dose of the shots. That’s great progress. If you aren’t one of those, please think about helping to increase our number.
 
8-20-21 4:20 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

The Sacrifice of American Troops in Afghanistan Will Not Be Forgotten

 

When terrorists attacked our country on September 11, 2001, we demonstrated the steadfast resolve that unifies us as Americans and exhibited the enduring spirit that guides and shapes our response in times of crisis. Thousands of brave men and women answered the call to military service, boldly fighting to defend and protect the United States and deliver justice for the innocent lives cut short by the brutal actions of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.

 

In Afghanistan our servicemembers heroically did their jobs, helping prevent more 9/11-style terrorism attacks in the United States in the years that followed. We must always remember and honor their service and sacrifice. They have repeatedly risen to the challenge to confront evolving threats with professionalism and valor.

 

I understand how extremely demoralizing the images from Kabul are for the men and women who served in the War on Terror and Operation Enduring Freedom. The deteriorating and dangerous conditions were preventable and foreseen. Our withdrawal has been a disaster as a result of poor planning, undervaluing intelligence assessments and denial of reality by the Biden administration. This failure has left a stain on our nation’s reputation.

 

I am heartbroken for the families of the 2,448 American troops who gave their lives in support of the military operation in Afghanistan as well as the countless others who are living with the seen and unseen injuries of this war. The chaos we are witnessing now does not diminish the sacrifices of our troops, veterans and Gold Star families who deserve our continued support during what is certain to be a difficult time.

 

As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’ve worked alongside my colleagues to support the needs of veterans once they resume civilian life. Congress improved treatment for traumatic brain injuries and mental health programs as a result of what we’ve learned from veterans of Afghanistan. We’ve expanded benefits and services including improving access to health care, education and enhanced veteran suicide prevention initiatives.

 

It’s important these heroes know their service has made a real difference and is deeply appreciated. The lack of strategic thinking and poor planning that led to the situation unfolding in Kabul isn’t their fault, but represents a huge disservice to them in light of their work and sacrifices.

 

Our troops exposed Afghans to American ideals and values in addition to helping provide opportunities for education and basic humans rights for women and girls. These efforts have inspired generations of women to find their voices and realize their full potential.

 

Given the hasty exit and the new dangers posed by the Taliban takeover, U.S. servicemembers are once again answering their nation’s call. Our priority must be to safely evacuate Americans and protect those who fought alongside our troops for nearly 20 years.

 

The administration’s strategy has been concerning to say the least, and believing the Taliban will allow our citizens to travel to the airport unharmed is naïve and dangerous. We must ensure the Department of Defense has the capability to successfully execute its missions and help navigate the coming days as we get Americans and Afghan allies to safety.

 

This catastrophic collapse has undoubtedly weakened our position with our allies and emboldened our adversaries and American credibility is shaken. It could undermine our own national security. In the days ahead, we must remain vigilant and course correct this dangerous situation to protect our citizens, the homeland and our interests.

 

8-20-21 4:09 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Everyone has a responsibility to ensure students arrive at and from school safely. This includes being mindful of student safety when approaching school buses. 

 

We want to take this week to remind Arkansans to obey all traffic laws whenever they are near a school bus. 

 

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus whenever its red lights are flashing, as students are present. The fines, penalties, and punishment for anyone found guilty of illegally passing a stopped school bus were increased dramatically by Act 2128 of 2005, also known as Isaac’s Law. 

 

The legislation was named in honor of Isaac Brian, an elementary school student in the Bryant School District who was struck and killed when a driver illegally passed his school bus while students were exiting the vehicle. 

 

The law requires drivers to stop on two-lane and four-lane highways in both directions, even those with a middle lane. Drivers cannot attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus vehicle has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and is in motion again.

 

In the 2021 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed Act 264 to clarify the distance and areas where drivers must stop.

 

It states drivers must come to a complete stop no less than 30 feet from the bus when it stops to load or unload passengers. This 30 feet perimeter would apply to public roads, private or public property open to the general public, and any driveway or parking lot belonging to a public school.

 

It is estimated that close to 350,000 students ride a school bus. Buses make stops in every Arkansas community. Remember: Flashing Red means Kids Ahead. To learn more about the campaign, visit arkansashouse.org.

 

8-20-21 4:05 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

August 20, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – The number of people who live in Arkansas increased by about 95,600 over the past 10 years, a growth rate of 3.3 percent that brought the state’s population to more than three million people.

 

The population of the entire United States grew by 7.4 percent, to more than 332 million people.

 

After months of delay, the U.S. Census Bureau finally released a preliminary version of its new census report last week. The Bureau conducts a census every 10 years.

 

The new population count is important because it will be the basis for distributing almost $10 billion in federal funding, through 55 U.S. government programs. For example, five years ago almost $500 million in Medicaid funding went to Arkansas based on the previous census from 2010.

 

Federal matching funds are distributed to the 50 states through a formula that takes into account population and per capita income, as derived from census data.

 

Census data is a factor in federal funding for highway construction, public housing, foster care, assistance with utility bills, school lunch programs, senior citizens centers, grants for vocational rehabilitation and welfare.

 

That’s why local elected officials worked so hard last year to make sure everyone responded to census surveys. Undercounts are worse in isolated, rural areas and in low-income neighborhoods.

 

The financial impact of population loss is one the reason that some local elected officials are trying to generate support for a recount in areas where population declines have been the most dramatic. However, the odds are strongly against a recount by the Census Bureau.

 

In Arkansas, cities gained population and rural areas lost population. Of the state’s 75 counties, 53 lost population.

 

The largest gains were in Benton County, whose population grew by 28.5 percent, and Washington County, which grew by 21.1 percent. Both counties are in northwest Arkansas, where the local economy has consistently thrived over the past few decades.

 

In central Arkansas, Pulaski County grew by 4.3 percent, Saline County by 15.2 percent, Faulkner County by 11.3 percent and Lonoke County by 7.2 percent.

 

In northeast Arkansas, Craighead County grew by 14.4 and Greene County by 7.7 percent.

 

Census data affects more than a region’s government funding, but also its political influence. The legislature will use the new data to draw new maps of the state’s four Congressional Districts. The total population of Arkansas remained relatively stable over the past 10 years, therefore we continue to be represented in Washington by four members of Congress.

 

Texas grew in population so much that it will gain two Congressional seats. Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon and Montana will add one Congressional seat.

 

New York, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia will each lose one Congressional seat, which means those states will lose some political influence in Washington.

 

The state Board of Apportionment, consisting of the governor, the attorney general and the secretary of state, will use the new census data to draw new maps of legislative districts. There are 35 Senate districts. There are 100 districts in the state House of Representatives.

 

When the redistricting process is complete, probably by the end of the year, all House and Senate districts will have roughly the same number of voters.

 

8-20-21 10:40 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Commodity Distribution In Mena Tuesday, August 17TH

ARVAC will conduct a Food Distribution in Mena on August 17TH at the Polk County Fairgrounds on Polk County Road 43 from 10:00am to 1:00 pm.
 
ARVAC is still following all safety precautions, therefore 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 $319.00 $1,383.00 $16,588.00
2 $431.00 $1,868.00 $22,412.00
3 $543.00 $2,353.00 $28,236.00
4 $655.00 $2,839.00 $34,060.00
5 $767.00 $3,324.00 $39,884.00
6 $879.00 $3,809.00 $45,708.00
7 $991.00 $4,295.00 $51,532.00
8 $1,103.00 $4,780.00 $57,356.00
Each additional family member $112.00 $486.00 $5,824.00
 
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. 
 
For additional information, contact Tim Riley at (479) 968-7019 or (479) 229- 4861.
 
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.
 
8-16-21 2:11 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Report for August

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of August 9, 2021 – August 15, 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.

 

August 9, 2021

Hunter Frost, 22 of Mena was arrested on three felony charges of domestic battery.

Michael Lance, 58 of Mena was arrested on a charge of drinking in public.

Matthew Siddiki, 29 was arrested on a felony warrant for sexual assault.

Deputies were dispatched to the local hospital for a possible assault. Information has been forwarded to the prosecuting attorney.

Report from a walk-in complainant of unauthorized use of a debit card. Information was turned over to the investigator.

 

August 10, 2021

Deputies received a report of two false calls to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline.

A report was made of a broken window at a residence on Polk 35 near Hatfield. Deputy responded.

Barbara Hill, 49 of Grannis was arrested on a charge of delivery of methamphetamine or cocaine.

Report of a violation of an order of protection. Information forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for review.

 

August 11, 2021

No reports were filed.

 

August 12, 2021

Mikel Thomas, 31 of Mena was arrested on warrants for probation violation, hot checks and failure to appear.

A report of someone trespassing. Deputies responded and forwarded information to the Prosecuting Attorney.

 

August 13, 2021

A report was made of possible financial identity fraud. Deputy responded.

 

August 14, 2021

Cameron Justin Rose, 30 of Cove was arrested on a body attachment and on a hold for another agency.

Dajah Hamilton, 24 of Mena was arrested on a charge of criminal trespass.

Danielle Stewart, 30 of Mena was arrested on a public intoxication charge.

Deputies responded to a report of a door window being broken on Hwy 71 South near Hatfield.

Deputies responded to a report of vehicle windows being broken on Rock Creek Lane near Mena. Losses valued at $900.00.

Deputies responded to a complaint on Polk 671 near Mena of someone refusing to leave the property.

Deputies responded to a report of the theft of paint and a gas can from a residence on Polk 648 near Dallas Valley.

Deputies responded to a report of a possible sexual assault. Information was turned over to an investigator with the Prosecuting Attorney.

Report from complainant of a possible stolen laptop. Deputies responded.

 

August 15, 2021

Justin Chicago was arrested by an officer with Arkansas Game and Fish on a felony failure to appear charge and a charge of possession of methamphetamine.

Report from complainant of an internet scam. Possible losses are $51.00. Officer responded.

After a traffic stop by an officer with the Arkansas Game and Fish on Polk 63 near Cherry Hill, Brandon Falls was cited for driving on a suspended license.

While patrolling the area of Polk 63 near Board Camp, an officer arrested Wade Stewart on a charge or possession of schedule VI controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Also arrested was Timothy Bass on two failure to appear warrants.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: Incarcerated Inmates, with 5 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00679

 

8-16-21 1:26 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for August 8TH - 14TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of August 8th through August 14th, 2021
 
August 8
 
No report.
 
August 9
 
A report of breaking or entering was taken from Homewood Cottages of Rich Mountain.
 
A report of unauthorized use of a vehicle was taken. 
 
A juvenile was charged with Cruelty to Animals and Littering after at Janssen Park.
 
August 10
 
Aaron Tyler, 28, was charged with Domestic Battery 3rd Degree, Battery 3rd Degree, Domestic Assault 3rd Degree, Criminal Trespass, and Criminal Mischief after a disturbance call to Executive Inn.  
 
David Sinyard, 45, was charged with Inhaling an Intoxicant after a suspicious person call to Atwood’s.
 
 August 11
 
Christa Holliday, 31, was served with two warrants at the county jail. 
 
August 12
 
A report of theft was taken at a residence on 12th Street. 
 
William Robison, 38, was served with two warrants and Aaron Tyler, 28, was served with a warrant after officers responded to a trespassing complaint at the Executive Inn.
 
Chrystal Garett, 39, was served with three warrants after a disturbance call to a residence on Highway 71. 
 
August 13 
 
Westley Seals, 21, was charged with DWI, and Careless/Prohibited Driving after a traffic stop on Highway 71. 
 
August 14
 
Shawn Fender, 50, was charged with possession of meth or cocaine, driving on a suspended driver’s license, no liability insurance, and no vehicle license after a traffic stop on Hwy 71 and Cherry Street
 
Johnathan White, 35, was served with 3 warrants and charged with 
driving on a suspended driver’s license after a traffic stop at McDonalds.
 
Brandy Crawford, 47, was served with 4 warrants at the Polk County Jail.
 
All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
 
8-16-21 9:45 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee met on Monday to begin the discussion on the redistricting process for Congressional districts in Arkansas.

 

Redistricting is the periodic redrawing of district boundaries that elected representatives who serve specific geographic areas.

 

The periodic updating of districts must be done because, in a series of 1960’s cases, the U.S. Supreme Court held that districts must be equal in population. This is known as the “one-person, one-vote” requirement.

 

Arkansas code establishes that Arkansas is divided into four congressional districts, and the responsibility for the delineation of congressional districts of the substantially equal population is given to the Arkansas General Assembly.

 

The Board of Apportionment is responsible for drawing the boundaries of state legislative districts. The Board of Apportionment is comprised of the Governor, the Attorney General, and Secretary of State. The Board of Apportionment is holding meetings across the state, and the list of these events is found at www.arkansasredistricting.org.

 

On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its numbers. It shows the population of Arkansas is now 3,011,524, an increase of 3.3% since 2010. Northwest Arkansas saw the most amount of growth in the past decade.

 

Receiving this data is the first step. A software vendor contracted by the General Assembly will now begin entering the data in a format to allow members to draft potential maps. We expect to return to the Regular Session soon after that process is complete. 

 

The maps ultimately adopted by the General Assembly must be as nearly equal as possible and must not limit the right to vote of any racial minority.

 

All legislative meetings regarding redistricting are open to the public, and there is time set aside for public comment.

 

You can also watch the meetings live and recorded on our website www.arkansashouse.org.

 

8-13-21 6:00 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Arkansas Dairy Bars: Nostalgic and Pandemic Perfect
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – Today I’d like to talk about a sector of our culinary industry that is the perfect business model for dining establishments during a pandemic.
 
Ninety-four of these eateries dot the Natural State’s rural landscape, and next week, Arkansas PBS will release a documentary about these short-order diners.
 
The subject of the film is the Arkansas dairy bar, a remnant of the time before the proliferation of franchised restaurants.
The idea for this project came to Arkansas foodie Kat Robinson in the early months of COVID-19. Kat, a 1995 broadcasting graduate of Arkansas Tech, has made her name as a food historian, author, and foodie, with some public television shows thrown in. She is a member of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame’s selection committee. She grew up eating sugar on her rice for breakfast and country-fried venison. Her books include Another Slice of Arkansas Pie and two volumes of Things to Eat in Arkansas Before You Die.
 
One day when Kat was hankering for an ice cream, as she says, she traveled to Malvern to see whether the dairy bar from her childhood was still in business. Mel's Dairy Bar was still standing, it looked just like she remembered, and the place was hopping. That’s when she decided to write a book. In March, she and the team at Arkansas PBS began to work on the companion documentary.
 
The documentary, Arkansas Dairy Bars: Neat Eats & Cool Treats, will premiere at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 19, on Arkansas PBS. This week, Arkansas PBS hosted a free advance screening at the Kenda Drive-In in Marshall.
 
Dairy bars evoke nostalgia for many of us who had the good fortune to live in a town with a dairy bar or whose grandparents lived near one. That was the initial appeal for Kat.
 
But as she traveled more than eight thousand miles to visit all ninety-four of Arkansas’s diners, she realized that by their very design, dairy bars may be the perfect restaurant for a pandemic.
 
Think about it. A dairy bar generally doesn’t have a dining room. You order your food through a window. You eat in a car or at a picnic table. Textbook social distancing.
 
Arkansas PBS sustained the social-distancing theme by holding its premiere of Arkansas Dairy Bars at a drive-in theater. The Arkansas PBS event was perfectly crafted as public family entertainment during a worldwide pandemic.
 
Kat is an Arkansan who understands Arkansans. Like the 3 million other people who live here, Kat took the pandemic head-on and blazed a different route. In one of her books, she writes about the character of her state. “Arkansas is a stubborn, hang-on-by-your-teeth subsistence land that adapts to weather, new folks, and the lay of the land.” That’s an accurate description.
 
With this documentary, Kat Robinson and Arkansas PBS preserve a piece of our culinary history. They also demonstrate that with imagination, sweat of the brow, and a dash of courage, we can work our way through anything.
 
8-13-21 4:09 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Out-of-Control Spending Threatens America’s Future

 

We all know that our fiscal house isn’t in order right now. The national debt stands at $28 trillion dollars, the projected budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2021 is nearly $3 trillion and President Joe Biden is aiming to approve more than $5 trillion in spending just this year.

 

Not long ago, Americans viewed significantly smaller federal budgets as bloated and in need of scaling back. Now, we’re dealing with multi-trillion-dollar proposals that we aren’t committed to paying for. As the federal government’s spending has continued to climb over the last two decades, this year we’re pushing the limits of what we thought was even possible.

 

It may seem like we’re dealing with Monopoly money, but unlike in the popular board game there are real-world consequences ahead if we continue down this path.

 

Since January, Congress and the Biden administration have pursued outrageous spending policies that would have been unfathomable just a few years ago. It started with the so-called “COVID-19 relief” legislation that passed in March and came in just under $2 trillion.

 

Now, in pursuit of a bipartisan infrastructure measure, legislation that would add at least a quarter-trillion dollars to the projected deficits over the next ten years is advancing in Congress. I have long supported responsible infrastructure investment, but I couldn’t support this bill because it increases deficit spending with too little to offer in return, including outsized focuses on public transportation and green alternatives rather than traditional needs like modernizing and upgrading roads, bridges, railroads, airports and even water systems and rural broadband.

 

I’m disappointed we couldn’t reach a fiscally responsible solution, but instead are choosing to increase the burden on future generations of Americans to pay for more current spending. And worse, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tied this bill to a $4.2 trillion spending spree of liberal wish list items.

 

That agenda of radical left-wing priorities is also on the move in Congress. The framework passed the Senate on a party-line vote and should concern anyone wary of bigger government and more debt.

 

It also emphasizes the risks of continued inflation. Since last July, prices have risen 5.4 percent. It’s becoming more expensive to fill up our gas tanks, buy food at the grocery store or in restaurants, and even purchase other consumer goods like appliances and automobiles. That hurts all of us to some extent, but none more so than individuals and families already struggling to make ends meet.

 

Many Americans had been seeing their wages rise in recent years, but now those gains have been wiped out as a result of higher costs.

 

These challenges will only grow if the federal government continues to spend at the astounding levels the White House is pushing. One area where the rubber will truly meet the road is the cap on our country’s borrowing limit.

 

I recently joined most of my Republican colleagues in the Senate to tell the American people that we believe Democrats should take ownership of their out-of-control spending. As such, we won’t be voting to increase the debt ceiling. The massive, reckless tax-and-spend agenda they are working to rapidly enact is not paid for, so the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats owe the American people an explanation for why we must borrow even more money to afford it.

 

For my part, I will continue to advocate for responsible and sound fiscal policies. That’s what we do in Arkansas and around our kitchen tables. It is also what should be done in Washington.

 

8-13-21 3:53 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

August 13, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Legislative Council approved a funding request of more than $245 million to help hospitals and nursing homes recruit and retain staff, and to cope with extraordinary expenses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The money comes from a massive federal act known as the American Rescue Plan, which sends about $1,573 billion to Arkansas state government and an additional $1 billion to Arkansas cities and counties. Other ARP funds will go to schools and for capital projects.

 

The Legislative Council is the main body of lawmakers who meet in the interim between legislative sessions to oversee state government operations. The Council met soon after the conclusion of the recent special session to consider the health emergency funding requests.

 

The pandemic has strained the capacity of Arkansas health care facilities in numerous ways. Staff are working long hours. So many beds are occupied by Covid patients that other units in hospitals sometimes lack space for patients with other ailment and injuries. Testing of staff is constant, and continues to add to the cost of operations.

 

According to the request for funding from the state Department of Human Services, the 226 skilled nursing facilities in Arkansas are in unsustainable financial jeopardy. In ordinary times they rely heavily on government programs, such as Medicaid to reimburse their costs for patient care.

 

Since last year the nursing homes have spent most of the emergency government funds they received to help them weather the pandemic, their accounts are being depleted and their unreimbursed costs continue to climb.

 

Without additional help, “thousands of residents and staff face a real risk of multiple closures,” the request said.

 

Those closures would create severe disruption in access to health care, with reduced availability of nursing care for families and individuals. Local economies would suffer, especially in rural areas.

 

“The human impact will be considerable,” the DHS request said.

 

Nursing homes must comply with detailed government regulations, which have changed frequently since last year as medical officials learned more about the pandemic and how it spreads. To meet the specific and complex requirements of regulators, nursing homes have added staff while maintaining nursing services.

 

Hospitals also have seen increased costs due to the pandemic. They’ve bought protective equipment and additional medical equipment. They are constantly testing staff, patients and the general public. They have partitioned and updated rooms to meet the growing demand for beds for Covid patients.

 

According to the Human Services Department request for ARP funding, the factor limiting hospitals ability to respond to the health emergency is a lack of frontline staff. In recruiting available nurses and medical staff, Arkansas hospitals must compete with other states where hospitals pay higher salaries.

 

Hospitals propose to spend the ARP funding recruiting additional staff and retaining their existing staff, the department said in its funding request.

 

The funds will be disbursed to hospitals and nursing homes according to formulas that take into account how many beds they have and how many people they have on staff already.

 

Hospitals that don’t accept Medicaid or Medicare will not receive any of the emergency funding.

 

8-13-21 1:21 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

August Mena School Board Meeting Recap, Masks Optional But Strongly Recommended

The Mena School Board met for their August meeting on Thursday evening, August 12TH, in the Mena High School Library with many district patrons in attendance.

The first item addressed was the district ready for learning plan. Superintendent Dr. Lee Smith recommended no changes at this time. In person and the Polk County Virtual Academy will remain the two learning options for students. This also means that the mask policy will remain as it was amended on April 13th and the wearing of masks will be optional for students and school employees but is still highly recommended by the board.

Next on the agenda was the approval of changes to the school handbooks for each campus. Those changes were presented by administrators from each school. The LDE, HHE and PCVA handbooks were approved with minor changes. The main change at Mena Middle School was the cell phone policy and Mena High School had the most changes. They included some curriculum changes as well as several items that were required due to changes at the state level. The updated handbooks will be posted on the district website soon. Be watching social media for info on when that happens.

Minor changes in the athletic handbook and the athletic administration guidebook were also approved after a brief discussion.

Next Assistant Superintendent Bridget Buckley presented the board with information on the district’s “American Rescue Plan”. This details how the district intends to distribute Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. The ARP
Plan was approved as presented.

Since the July meeting bids were received on installing new HVAC systems at Holly Harshman and Mena Middle Schools. The low bid by Wilson Heating and Air for $635,000 was approved. These upgrades are a major part of the district’s plan to slow the spread of COVID among students and staff. It will be paid for with ESSER II federal funds and will increase fresh air exchange in the two buildings at a rate ten times higher than the current systems. Louise Durham Elementary and Mena High School currently have this technology installed.

Dr. Smith then updated the board on the status of bids on several CD’s held by the district. The board gave the administration the liberty to accept the highest rate offered once all have been received.

The board next discussed a bid from Southern Disposal for use of an indoor practice facility. Dr. Smith spoke briefly on his negotiations and the board agreed to pay $1400.00 a month for unlimited use of the facility with no long term contract.

 

A number of changes in personnel were brought before the board including the resignation of Catlynn Haynes and Casey Adams. The transfer of Samantha Breedlove from MMS to Mena High School.

 

The hiring of Linda Willard, Ashley Pregon, Grace Minton and Alexa Brewer.

 

Dr. Smith recommended that Tommy Johnson be officially added to the high school football staff and that Tim Walston’s contract be extended to 12 months. All actions were approved.

 

8-13-21 7:01 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Log for August 2ND - August 8TH

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of August 2, 2021 – August 8, 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.

 

August 2, 2021

Arrested was Matthew Miller, 39 of Mena on a charge of theft of property.

Report from a complainant on Polk 30 near Hatfield of receiving inappropriate messages via social media. Investigation continues.

Report from a business near Acorn of a threat. Deputy responded.

 

August 3, 2021

Report from a complainant on Hwy 88 E near Cherry Hill of a possible scam totaling losses of approximately $10,000. Deputy responded.

Report from a walk-in complainant of an altercation. Deputy responded.

Arrested by an officer with the Drug Task Force was Jacob Anzaldua, on 3 counts of theft of property and one count of breaking or entering.

 

August 4, 2021

Report from a complainant on Polk 35 near Hatfield of a possible stolen vehicle. Deputy responded.

Walk-in complaint of the unauthorized use of a vehicle. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on West Boundary Road near Mena of vandalism to a travel trailer. Deputy responded.

Report of a verbal altercation. Deputy responded.

 

August 5, 2021

Report from Mena Regional Hospital of a dog bite victim. Deputy responded.

 

August 6, 2021

Report of a runaway juvenile. Deputy responded.

Report of a break in and theft of tools and paint from a complainant on Polk 77 near Acorn. Deputy responded.

Report from a complainant near Hatfield of being attacked. Deputy responded.

Billy Joe Rodger, 41 of Mena was arrested on a warrant for domestic battery.

 

August 7, 2021

Report from complainant on Napier Lane near Mena of fuel lines being cut on a vehicle. Deputy responded.

Report of a disturbance on Treasure Lane near Acorn. Deputy responded. Information forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney.

Report of an altercation on Polk 78 near Mena led to the arrest of Willis Jay Simpson on a charge of aggravated assault.

Report from complainant near Hatfield of a borrowed vehicle not being returned.

 

August 8, 2021

Report from complainant on Polk 59 near Board Camp of someone trespassing. Deputy responded.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 3 vehicle accidents this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 17 Incarcerated Inmates, with 4 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

PC21-00658

 

8-10-21 9:07 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for August 1ST - 7TH

 

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of August 1st through August 7th, 2021

 

 

August 1

 

No reports.

 

August 2

 

Bruce Huber, 33, was served with a warrant at a residence on Reeves Street.

 

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

 

August 3

 

Melissa Stanley, 41, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

Patrick Owens, 25, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

Jason Rosson, 39, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

Michael Phillips, 53, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

Rodney Morrison, 35, was served with six warrants at the county jail.

 

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

 

August 4

 

Darrell Sanders, 51, was served with four warrants after a traffic stop on Pine Avenue.

 

Michael Williams, 39, Abram Abernathy, 24, Windal Loyd, 40, were charged with Criminal Trespassing after a complaint from a residence on 1st Street.

 

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

 

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

 

A report of criminal trespass was taken from a residence on Cherry Street.

 

August 5

 

A report of harassment was taken.

 

A report of terroristic threatening was taken.

 

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

 

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

 

Abram Abernathy, 24, was charged with Criminal Trespass after a complaint from a residence on 9th Street.

 

Veronica Maddox, 24, was charged with Possession of Meth and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after contact at Atwoods.

 

Justin Keaster, 38, was served with two warrants after a disturbance call to a residence on Cherry Street.

 

August 7

 

Donald Armer, 62, was charged with Possession of Meth, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Resisting Arrest and Carrying a Knife as a Weapon after a report of a suspicious person at the corner of 12th Street and Hamilton Avenue.

 

Danial Malin, 48, was charged with Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct after a disturbance call to Mena Regional Health Systems.

 

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

 

8-9-21 10:03 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Special Session and Vaccines

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Special Session and Vaccines
 
Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
 
LITTLE ROCK – This week, I issued a call for a special session of the General Assembly, and today I’d like to explain why my action was necessary.

In the spring, I signed Act 1002, a law that prohibits a government agency from establishing a mask mandate. That made sense to me at the time because I oppose any government-issued statewide mask requirement. And now we have vaccines available. Also, at the time, the number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths and hospitalizations was very low. In other words, we were coming out of the pandemic nicely. But as happens in life, everything changed.

The Delta variant, which is more transmissible than previous variants, arrived, and our cases, hospitalizations, and COVID-related deaths increased. It became clear to me that the law needed to change, and I actually said I regret signing the bill. That statement created somewhat of a firestorm, but it is important for leaders to adapt and change strategies when the facts change – particularly when you are in an emergency. 

With public schools opening for in-person instruction this month, I decided we needed to enact exceptions to Act 1002 to give schools some flexibility regarding face masks in congregate settings, and this should be limited to those students under twelve years of age. This was necessary because those under twelve are not eligible for a vaccine.

I convened the General Assembly to make this limited exception in order to provide more protection for those under twelve, and the law would leave the final decision in the hands of the local school board.

Pursuant to my call, the General Assembly met and considered the exception but failed to act. This leaves us all with the urgent need to get more of our students, teachers, parents, and community vaccinated. If we can’t provide life-saving vaccines to those under twelve, then we have to form layers of protection around them.

So that will be my focus in the coming days. Perhaps you will join me in one of my Community COVID Conversations – or Town Halls – to respectfully discuss how we can stop this virus with more vaccinations.
 
8-7-21 9:08 a.m. KAWX.ORG
 
 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: End the Border Crisis

 

The Right Way (and Wrong Way) to Address Climate Change

 

 

Climate change has taken center stage in Washington. Nearly every committee in Congress has been tasked with exploring ways to protect our natural resources, reduce our carbon footprint and implement more sustainable practices.

 

On its face, the focus on this issue is a very positive development. But there is a right and a wrong way to go about effectuating change.

 

The Senate Agriculture Committee, on which I serve as ranking member, recently demonstrated the correct way in which to approach this issue with passage of the Growing Climate Solutions Act. This innovative legislation provides farmers, ranchers and private forest land owners interested in participating in emerging voluntary environmental credit markets the tools needed to determine if getting involved in these markets is the right direction to take.

 

When it was originally introduced, the bill lacked adequate farmer protections and threatened funding of vital existing U.S. Department of Agriculture programs. I worked with my colleagues—both Democrat and Republican—to make numerous improvements that helped us get this significant piece of climate legislation across the Senate floor, with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote.

 

If this bill were to become law, it would assist farmers, ranchers and private forest land owners in exploring opportunities for compensation in private markets for making verifiable contributions on the carbon sequestration front. We listened to stakeholders and incorporated changes to protect the private information of farmers and ranchers and to alleviate other concerns raised prior to committee consideration of the legislation.

 

By working together on the front end, we strengthened the bill’s appeal to reach a broader base of support and a wide-range of stakeholders from across the agriculture community. This collaboration is a continuation of the long-standing tradition that is expected of the Senate Agriculture Committee to develop practical, bipartisan policy.

 

Our approach should serve as a model that can be emulated to advance additional initiatives in the climate space. Unfortunately, the tack which President Joe Biden and his allies in Congress are taking is the exact opposite of the course we followed.

 

Instead of working together, the administration and congressional Democrats are using a “go-it-alone” process to enact the most extreme elements of their environmental policy. Remember the Democrats’ radical Green New Deal proposals? Well, that is what we are talking about here.

 

Under the guise of climate, and without the input of stakeholders or Republicans, the president and congressional Democrats want to spend trillions to expand the size of government in a way that will eliminate jobs and result in higher energy costs for hardworking Arkansans. It gets worse when one takes into account this strategy’s failure to consider the negative impact an abrupt transition of our energy sources will have on the lives of every American, including the massive land grab needed to pull it off.

 

Our farmers, ranchers and foresters are the greatest stewards of the land, and many have been working for a long time to preserve natural resources and protect the environment through on-farm practices. Engaging these stakeholders is how we create meaningful change, as the best solutions come from the ground up. Taking this advice and working in a bipartisan manner to turn that into sound policy is the right way to address climate change. Ignoring their voices, and forcing legislation written by progressive activists through Congress, is the wrong way.

 

8-6-21 3:25 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

This week, House members convened in the House Chamber for two orders of business.

In accordance with ACT 403 of the Regular Session, the House convened as a committee of the whole on Tuesday, August 4, to consider whether to terminate the Governor’s July 29, 2021 declaration of a statewide public health emergency.

When it was determined that no concurrent resolutions had been filed in the House and that one resolution filed in the Senate had been withdrawn, the House adjourned its committee of the whole. Since no resolution was adopted by the General Assembly, the Governor’s declaration remains in effect for 60 days.

The House convened on Wednesday, August 4, for an Extraordinary Session.
The Governor called for the session primarily for two purposes.
The first item on the call was to allow public school boards and open enrollment charter schools to implement masking protocols for children under 12. Children under 12 are currently not eligible to receive the vaccine for COVID-19.
The second purpose listed on the call was to concur with the Governor's decision to terminate the state’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment compensation program often referred to as PUA.
In response, to the call the House considered two pieces of legislation
HB1001 outlines the General Assembly’s concurrence with the termination of PUA in Arkansas.
This bill passed in the House with a vote of  74-17-0

HB1003 stated that a public school district can mandate the use of a face mask, shield, or other face covering only with approval of the school board and if the district or area served by an open-enrollment charter school has a fourteen-day COVID-19 infection rate of at least 50 new known infections per 10,000 residents of the public school district based on the most recent data published by the Department of Health or the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement. Currently, 100 school districts meet that criteria.

HB1003 outlined certain exemptions and limits such mandates to 60 days. This bill underwent Committee review, but did not advance to the House floor. The House adjourned the special session on Friday, August 6.

We will continue to update you on the actions of the General Assembly regarding the current emergency.

All of our meetings are streamed live and archived on our website www.arkansashouse.org

 

8-6-21 3:20 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

 

August 6, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – Legislators gathered at the Capitol in Little Rock to affirm the governor’s declaration of a public health emergency for 60 days.

 

The governor declared the first emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic last year, on March 11, 2020. He renewed it several times and it finally expired on May 30, 2021.

 

Earlier this year, in the regular session of the General Assembly, lawmakers approved Act 403 to grant the legislature veto power over the governor’s emergency declarations.

 

Act 403 gives the legislature the power to terminate a state of disaster emergency. The Senate and House must meet within eight days of the governor’s declaration.

 

The governor issued a declaration of a public health emergency on Thursday, July 29, and both chambers of the legislature affirmed it on Tuesday, August 3.

 

The legislature then met in a special session to clarify that the state Department of Workforce Services may choose not to participate in a federal program that awards supplemental unemployment benefits.

 

The federal program was awarding unemployed workers an additional $300 a week. Business leaders and legislators have said that the added benefits encouraged people to stay home and not seek work, at a time when some businesses are having trouble finding enough staff.

 

The main topic of the special session was whether to amend Act 1002 of 2021, which was approved by the legislature earlier this year. It prohibits schools from requiring that students and staff wear masks. 

 

Allowing schools to require masks was the first item on the governor’s call for a special session. 

 

Members of the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor heard numerous conflicting statements on the effectiveness of masks, and whether school boards should be able to pre-empt parental authority on health decisions that affect children.

 

The committee defeated bills that would authorize school boards to impose mask mandates.

 

Adding urgency to the debate was the fact that Arkansas is being hit with the Delta Variant of the Covid-19 virus. Children appear to be more susceptible to this year’s Delta Variant than they were to the original Covid-19 virus last year.

 

According to the state Health Department and the governor, the rapid rise in cases of the Delta Variant is causing an unsustainable strain on Arkansas hospitals. Declaration of a public health emergency allows Arkansas officials to recruit additional hospital staff from other states, under an interstate compact.

 

Also, the Health Department is ordered to identify any regulatory statutes that hinder the licensing of health care professionals. They will be suspended during the 60 days of the emergency.

 

Revenue Report

July’s state revenue report must be viewed from a different perspective than usual. Revenue in July of 2021 was well below revenue in July of 2020, but that does not reflect a downturn in the state economy. 

 

Rather, the decrease of almost 22 percent happened because last year the state and the federal government moved the tax filing deadlines from April 15 to July 15 due to the pandemic.

 

State revenue officials anticipated the decline and budgeted for it, so even though revenue was below last year’s levels it was 9.4 percent more than forecast.

 

8-6-21 12:46 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Log for July 26TH - August 1ST

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of July 26, 2021 – August 1, 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.

 

July 26, 2021

Report of a disturbance on Polk 76E near Acorn led to a juvenile male being issued a Citation for Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest.

Arrested by an officer with the Drug Task Force was Christopher Jackson, 34, of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, on a Warrant for Probation Violation.

 

July 27, 2021

Report from complainant near Mena of identity fraud.

Report from complainant on Hillcrest Lane near Acorn of battery. Deputy responded.

Report of an altercation on Race Lane near Acorn. Deputy responded.

Report from complainant on Haven Lane near Cove of the theft of a metal plate valued at $50.00. Deputy responded.

Request for a welfare check on a juvenile. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Veronica M. Maddox, 24, of Mena, on a Hold for Other Agency.

Arrested was Leon C. Jordan, 35, of Hatfield, on a Warrant for Failure to Appear, and a Hold for Other Agency.

 

July 28, 2021

Report of a disturbance at a business near Hatfield led to the arrest of Leon C. Jordan, 35, of Hatfield, on a Warrant for Failure to Appear, a Hold for Other Agency, and a Warrant for Possession of Firearm by Certain Persons.

Report from complainant on Polk 50 near Potter of a broken car window. Deputy responded.

 

July 29, 2021

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

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

Report from complainant on Polk 32 near Cove of identity fraud.

Report from complainant on Weeping Willow Lane near Board Camp of the theft of dog pen panels. Deputy responded.

 

July 30, 2021

Report from complainant on Kodiak Lane near Acorn of a physical domestic. Deputy responded.

Report of a disturbance on Polk 36 near Hatfield. Deputy responded.

Report of an unattended death on Polk 109 near Acorn. Deputy responded.

Report of trash being dumped on private property on Polk 138 near Cove. Deputy responded.

Request for a welfare check on Roach Avenue in Mena. Deputy Responded.

Arrested was Chance Davis, 30, of Mena on a charge of Domestic Battery 3rd Degree and Interference with Emergency Communications.

Arrested by a trooper with the Arkansas State Police was David White, 58, of Mena on a charge of DWI.

Arrested was Isiah Sipe, 24, of Hatfield for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

 

July 31, 2021

Report of a violation of an Order of Protection. Deputy responded and information was forwarded to the prosecuting attorney.

Report of a physical altercation on Polk 44 near Mena. Deputy responded and information was forwarded to the prosecuting attorney.

Request for a welfare check on Polk 238 near Shady Grove. Deputy responded.

Report of a fire in the ditch at the intersection of Polk 288 and Polk 21 near Cove. Deputy responded.

Arrested was Annette Hubbard, 56, of Cove on a charge of DWI.

Arrested was Robert Louis Schmidt, 26, of Mena on a charge of Possession of Meth or Cocaine.

Arrested by an officer with the Arkansas State Police was Michael Creel, 34, of Mena on charge of DWI.

 

August 1, 2021

Arrested was Jimmy Don Davis, 45, of Mena on five warrants for Failure to Appear.

Arrested was Jennifer Williams, 50, of Mena on one felony warrant for Failure to Appear and one hold for another agency.

Report of a stolen lawn mower in Big Fork. Deputy responded and information is being sent to the prosecuting attorney for review.

Complaint of unauthorized use of a vehicle on Polk 18 near Vandervoort. Information was forwarded to the prosecuting attorney for further consideration.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 21 Incarcerated Inmates, with 4 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

PC21-00612

8-3-21 9:45 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for July 25TH - July 31ST

 

 

Mena Police Department reports for the week of July 25th through July 31st, 2021

 

 

July 25

 

Griffin Head, 43, was charged with Public Intoxication, Disorderly Conduct, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and served with a warrant after a disturbance call to a residence on Mena Street.

 

A report of a disturbance was taken at a residence on Michelle Drive.

 

Tabitha Gonyea, 30, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Mena Street.

 

Tina Richey, 34, was served with eight warrants and Chris Sanders, 33, was served with three warrants at the Executive Inn.

 

July 26

 

A report of theft of motor fuel was taken at Murphy USA.

 

Michael Williams, 39, was charged with Criminal Trespass at Rich Mountain Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Hornbeck Avenue.

 

July 27

 

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

 

Richard Silverman, 48, was served with a warrant at EZ Mart.

 

July 28

 

Patricia Jackson, 53, was charged with Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct after a disturbance call to Mena Tire.

 

July 29

 

Ollie Payne, 59, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Locust Street.

 

Patrick Bates, 48, was served with three warrants at the police department.

 

David Sinyard, 49, was charged with Inhaling an Intoxicant and Public Intoxication after a call to Executive Inn.

 

A report of theft and criminal trespass was taken at a residence on 9th Street.

 

July 30

 

Jennifer Tyler, 46, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) and Criminal Trespass after a complaint from Walmart.

 

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

 

Aaron Tyler, 28, was served with a warrant after a disturbance call to Executive Inn.

 

A report of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Criminal Use of Prohibited Weapons/Brass Knuckles, Carrying a Weapon, and Possession of a Schedule 6 Controlled Substance after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

July 31

 

A death investigation report was taken at a residence on Lena Street.

 

Deana Presson, 50, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) after a complaint from Walmart.

 

Kenneth Shelton, 46, was charged with DWI and Careless or Prohibited Driving after a report of a vehicle accident on Highway 71.

 

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

 

8-2-21 9:57 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Weather