KAWX News Archives for 2021-10

Flags to Half Staff for U.S. Navy Fireman First Class Dan Edward Reagan

Governor Asa Hutchinson has ordered the United States flag and the state flag of Arkansas to be lowered to half-staff in tribute to the service and memory of U.S. Navy Fireman First Class Dan Edward Reagan. Fireman First Class Reagan was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma when he was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was 20 years old when he died. Through DNA analysis, Fireman First Class Reagan was identified, and after 80 years, will be laid to rest in Arkansas. Flags are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise Monday, November 1, 2021, to sunset Tuesday, November 2, 2021.















Governor Hutchinson has proclaimed November 2, 2021, as Dan Edward Reagan Memorial Day in Arkansas. The Governor’s proclamation can be viewed HERE.


10-31-21 7:19 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: For the Health of Our State and Nation

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: For the Health of Our State and Nation
LITTLE ROCK – For the past 21 months, we have been fighting a common enemy that has disrupted lives around the globe. One of the hindrances to beating COVID-19 has been a reluctance to get the vaccine.
During the polio epidemic in the 1940s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pleaded with Americans to help beat the disease. In a radio appeal for donations to National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, President Roosevelt compared the fight against polio to the Second World War, describing it as an enemy that showed no pity for the young. He said that the future of the nation depended on how Americans combated the disease.
In today’s world, we have a better grasp of how to beat a pandemic. I traveled around the state to encourage Arkansans to get vaccinated. At our meeting in Calhoun County, Judge Floyd Nutt admitted that initially, he thought the 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 rolled up their sleeves for the vaccine. As of this week, about 57 percent of Arkansans have received at least one dose.
The truth is that vaccines work and that is the message we are trying to get across to everyone. This vaccine is important for our community and for the health of our state and nation and getting vaccinated should not be a partisan issue. Republican, Democrat, or Independent, COVID-19 hits us all the same.
I can’t make someone get vaccinated, and we will not overcome the challenge of hesitancy by mandates. I have consistently opposed a government mandate. However, businesses must be given the freedom to make their own decisions regarding their workplace and how to best protect their employees. The evidence that a mandate increases vaccinations are mixed. In the State of California where they have mandated for its state employees to be vaccinated, they have a vaccination rate of 66 percent. Here in Arkansas, we do not mandate a vaccine on state employees and our rate of vaccinations is almost at 67 percent. A vaccination mandate often increases the resistance of those who are hesitant.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the average age for hospitalizations was 64. Over time, that average dropped to 54 because those who are most vulnerable, the elderly population, got vaccinated while more young people were waiting for their turn at the vaccine.
Now, as the vaccine is being approved for kids ages 5-11, I urge parents to protect their children from COVID-19. If you are still hesitant, please talk to your family doctor or to someone that you trust.
10-29-21 4:45 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 363,781 people in Arkansas, or 14.8% of the adult population, have diabetes. 


Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and the number one cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult blindness. In the last 20 years, the number of adults nationwide diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled.


November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes and its devastating consequences.


People with diabetes have medical expenses approximately 2.3 times higher than those who do not have diabetes. Diabetes and prediabetes cost an estimated $3.1 billion in Arkansas each year. 


In the most recent legislative session, we passed Act 643, which mandates that the Arkansas Medicaid Program cover a continuous glucose monitor for an individual if the individual has either a presence of Type 1 diabetes or any other sort of diabetes with the use of insulin more than two times daily.


About 90-95% of people with diabetes have Type 2. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active.


In an effort to help Arkansans with those lifestyle changes, the General Assembly passed Act 506 in 2019. This act established a farm-to-school and early childhood education program. It also created the position of farm to school coordinator within the Arkansas Agriculture Department. This position is used to help connect more farmers to nearby schools.


Evidence shows that students who participate in farm-to-school activities are more likely to be familiar with, have a preference for, and consume more fruits and vegetables at both school and home.


Parents have the power to make healthy changes that give kids the best chance to prevent type 2 diabetes. And when the whole family makes changes together, it’s easier to create healthy habits that stick. We’ve posted recommendations from health experts on our website www.arkansashouse.org.


10-29-21 3:44 p.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Energy Accessibility and Reliability is Under Attack


Arkansans filling up their vehicles are paying more now than at any time in the last seven years. In the Natural State, the average price for a gallon of gas is $1.20 more than what were we paying just one year ago. It’s not only fuel prices that are spiking, but energy costs across the board are snowballing out of control. In late October, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected the cost of natural gas will increase 30 percent this winter. The EIA also estimates about 40 percent of Arkansas households use natural gas to heat their homes, which means higher prices will force families to pay an average of $746 on gas heating through March.


This surge has already hit Europe, resulting in fertilizer plant closures – creating a food-grade CO2 shortage crisis that is hurting pork and poultry processing – while at the same time, beverage producers are also facing the same challenge getting CO2 and could face widespread disruption across the food and beverage sector.   


Propane, heavily relied upon in America’s rural communities for agriculture production and home heating, has seen prices almost double this year. Market experts are predicting an “armageddon” as we head into the winter. 


The Biden administration’s policies have only intensified this problem. During his first week in office, the president paused all oil and gas leasing on federal lands and then killed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.


Now, President Biden and his allies in Congress want to enact policies that double down on economic hardship by eliminating affordable sources of energy, particularly those relied upon in rural America.     


As ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I take these warnings seriously. 


The president’s plan would be an absolute gut punch to our family farmers and rural America as a whole, especially as inflation continues to skyrocket under this administration’s watch.  


The policies President Biden has enacted or proposed are not a realistic approach to keeping costs low while addressing our country’s environmental and energy needs. Heavy-handed rules that reduce energy supplies are also counterproductive. 


Bureaucratic overreach and unwarranted spending will not only drive up energy costs on consumers, but will also do the most harm to low- and middle-income families. Think of the impact this would have on single moms and seniors on fixed incomes. These families are most affected by burdensome regulations and can least afford a costly, unworkable energy policy.


There are commonsense steps we can take, beginning with using our nation’s existing energy resources. In addition to helping affordability, this will also reduce our dependence on oil from unstable regions. American manufacturers need long-term access to cost-effective energy so our country can compete globally against nations with much lower environmental standards. Also, in the event of a national security or an energy crisis, access to our resources will be essential.


We must continue to use an all-of-the-above approach to diversify our nation’s energy portfolio. Working to increase exploration and production of natural gas and oil, continuing the development and use of coal, and further supporting renewable and nuclear energy sources should all be part of our national energy strategy. America’s energy supply should be diverse, stable and affordable.


The good news is we have that capability. I will continue advocating for policies that encourage American energy production and fight against overreaching rules and regulations that result in increased costs to fuel our cars and heat our homes.


10-29-21 3:28 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

October 29, 2021


LITTLE ROCK – Business activity was severely affected by the pandemic last year across most areas of the economic spectrum, from the largest corporations to small businesses and individual wage earners.


In spite of the challenges created by the pandemic, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission signed incentive agreements for 48 projects that will create or preserve 2,917 jobs in the state. The average wage of those jobs is $22.10 an hour.


Those projects represent $695 million in new capital investments, according to a report to legislators by the AEDC.


The cost-benefit ratio of those projects is 6.36 to 1, which means the state will collect $6.36 in taxes for each dollar it offered to companies in financial incentives, as measured over a ten-year period.


The cost-benefit ratio of the projects contracted in 2020 was the highest of any year since Arkansas has been offering incentives to recruit industry.


For the four calendar years of 2017 through 2020, the AEDC signed agreements to offer financial incentives for 880 projects that will create or retain 16,619 jobs. The average cost-benefit ratio of the projects contracted during this four-year period is 4.66 to 1.


The estimated hourly wage for all the jobs created during this period is $22.24.


When the AEDC offers financial incentives to recruit or retain a private company, the agreement includes what are known as “clawback” provisions. They are a condition the companies must accept in order to receive the incentives.


The companies must meet performance standards, such as paying wages and investing capital in the amounts to which they agreed.


The state Department of Finance and Administration conducts audits to determine if the companies comply with the “clawback” provisions.


Incentives take various forms. Manufacturers may qualify for refunds of sales taxes paid for equipment and machinery.


Companies may get income tax credits for creating jobs. They may receive grants to pay for infrastructure, such as water lines, drainage, roads or rail spurs.


Companies can apply for income tax credits when they pay tuition for employees’ education and job training. Businesses may pay reduced sales taxes on their electricity and natural gas, if the energy is used directly in the manufacturing process.


The Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund is an important tool for recruiting industry, especially when a firm decision is needed at the last minute to close a deal. For example, $10 million from the fund was committed to finalize an agreement with a manufacturer that recently announced it would create 500 jobs at the Port of Little Rock.


Since 2007 the fund has been used to help bring 97 projects to Arkansas. Those projects created or retained 31,509 jobs with an average salary of $20.90 an hour. The projects represent an investment of $3.35 billion.


Last year the fund was used to create the Quick Action Loan Program, which made more than $7 million in loans to 412 companies that suffered losses due to the Covid-19 virus, helping them maintain 3,318 full-time jobs and 1,480 part-time jobs.


The state attorney general helped fund the loan program with $3 million from the Consumer Education and Enforcement Fund.


10-29-21 11:40 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Renowned Wildlife Photographer Mike Martin Presentation at UARM November 8TH

With a grant from the Division of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), Quality of Life, Inc. is hosting a presentation by Mike Martin in the Ouachita Center on the campus of UA Rich Mountain. DAH was created to preserve and promote Arkansas’s natural and cultural heritage. 


Martin is a renowned photographer featuring wildlife in Arkansas, including eagles and elk. His photographs have been featured in the Arkansas, New York State, Florida, and California parks departments’ literature as well as Cornell University’s Ornithology Department and the Field Museum of Chicago.  Additionally, his eagle photos have been published in Wildlife and Science magazines. 

He will be presenting a slide show on the American Bald Eagle Monday, November 8 at 1:30 pm in the Ouachita Center that will include the ecology and facts about the eagle. According to Brenda Miner, Director of Library Services and member of the Quality of Life, he will not only answer questions about the eagle, he’ll also share some of his wildlife photography techniques.


This is the third exhibit held on the UARM campus in 2021 that has been made possible through the DAH grant authored by Miner. The event is open to the community, however, if you do plan to bring a group of 10 or more, you are encouraged to contact Miner at bminer@uarichmountain.edu.


To become familiar with or to purchase Martin’s work, please visit his website at https://www.ozarknaturegallery.com/index.


Chancellor Phillip Wilson expressed his appreciation to Miner for her efforts in securing the grant and bringing programs such as Martin’s to campus and the local community. UA Rich Mountain’s mission is to provide transformative education to all learners.


10-28-21 5:26 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Flags to Half Staff for Assistant Fire Chief Lucas Stephenson

Governor Asa Hutchinson has ordered the United States flag and the state flag of Arkansas to be lowered to half-staff in tribute to the memory of Mandeville Assistant Fire Chief Lucas Stephenson.


Lucas Stephenson, assistant chief of the Mandeville Volunteer Fire Department, died in the line of duty on the evening of Tuesday, October 26, 2021. Stephenson, 25, was employed with Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. and was a graduate of Arkansas High School in Texarkana. He served the citizens of Mandeville and Miller County since 2013 and was promoted to assistant chief in 2019.

The Governor’s proclamation for Assistant Chief Lucas Stephenson can be found HERE.


Flags have already been lowered to half-staff in tribute to memory of Representative Carolyn Pollan and Senator Bobby Glover. Flags are to remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of interment.


10-28-21 5:09 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Flags to Half Staff for Rep. Carolyn Pollan, Senator Bobby Glover

Governor Asa Hutchinson has ordered the United States flag and the state flag of Arkansas to be lowered to half-staff in tribute to the memory of Representative Carolyn Pollan and Senator Bobby Glover.


Representative Carolyn Pollan passed away on Saturday, October 23, 2021, at age 84. Rep. Pollan, of Fort Smith, was a dedicated and caring representative and a prominent advocate for children and victims of domestic abuse. She served in the House from 1974 to 1998 and was a legislative liaison in Governor Mike Huckabee’s administration. In 2020, she was inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame.


Governor Hutchinson's proclamation for Representative Carolyn Pollan can be found HERE.












Senator Bobby Glover, of Carlisle, passed away on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. Sen. Glover served his constituents for more than 40 years as mayor, state representative, and state senator. As a state representative, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention (1979-1980). In 2021, Sen. Glover was appointed to the Arkansas Board of Corrections, where he served as vice chair.


Governor Hutchinson's proclamation for Senator Bobby Glover can be found HERE.












Flags are to be lowered immediately and remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of interment.


10-27-21 8:03 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for October 17TH - 23RD

Mena Police Department reports for the week of October 17th through October 23rd, 2021


October 17

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


Christopher Cox, 38, was charged with Forgery after a call to Sonic.


David Fraser, 53, was charged with Possession of meth, Possession of SCH VI Controlled Substance, Felony Possession of drug paraphernalia, Misdemeanor Possession of drug paraphernalia, Driving on suspended license, No liability insurance, No vehicle license, and served with five warrants after a traffic stop on 3rd Street.


October 18

Kendra Davis, 36, was served with two warrants at Tobacco Superstore.


Elena Hendershot, 38, was charged with Theft of Property (shoplifting) after a call to James’ Food.


October 19

Jason Cox, 35, was charged with Violation of a Protection Order after a call to a residence on Morrow Street.


Cindy Parnell, 41, was charged with Disorderly Conduct after a disturbance call to Atwoods.


October 20

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


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


Martin Dollarhyde, 46, was served with a warrant at the police department.


October 21

Barbara Rusher, 34, was charged with Possession of Firearm by Certain Persons, Possession of Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Resisting, and Obstructing Governmental Operations after a trespassing complaint at the Budget Inn.


Bobby May, 33, was served with two warrants at a residence on Locust Street.


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


Jeffrey Dollarhyde, 33, was served with a warrant after a disturbance call to Mountain View Drive.


October 22

Amy Harrison, 31, and Travis Dollarhyde, 32, were both charged with Violation of Public Nuisance Ordinance 2051 after a complaint on Flora Drive.


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


10-25-21 4:55 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Report for October 18TH - 24TH



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of October 18, 2021 – October 24, 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.


October 18, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a House Fire on Polk 661 near Cherry Hill.


October 19, 2021

Vicky Fussell, 53 of Mena was arrested on a Body Attachment and a Failure to Appear charge.

Deputies responded to a report of an Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.

Jason Lovett, 46 of Waldron was arrested on three Misdemeanor Warrants for Contempt of Court.


October 20, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a Stolen Cell Phone.


October 21, 2021

Deputies responded to a Dispute at a residence on Polk 75 near Acorn.


October 22, 2021

Deputies were dispatched to a Vehicle Fire on Hwy 270W near Acorn.

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Valley Ranch Lane near Potter in reference to a Hit and Run Accident with property damage. This led to Brad Norman being issued a citation for Careless Driving and Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Property Damage.


October 23, 2021

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Polk 10 near Wickes in reference to a dog killing chickens and chasing livestock.

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Polk 75 near Acorn in reference to dogs killing chickens.

Deputies attempted to make a traffic stop of an ATV on Hwy 246 near Vandervoort. The suspect fled. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Natasha Smith, 44 of Mena was arrested on charges of Driving Left of Center, DWI and Failure to Appear.


October 24, 2021

Joseph Stubbs, 45 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance and a Felony Warrant for Probation Violation.

Christopher Gibson, 27 of Hatfield was arrested on charges of Public Intoxication and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.


Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 2 vehicle accidents this week.


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 23 Incarcerated Inmates, with 11 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.




10-25-21 4:44 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: The Surge of Illicit Drug Use

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: The Surge of Illicit Drug Use
LITTLE ROCK – As we head into the second winter of the pandemic, mental health professionals and law-enforcement officers are standing in the gap to assist Arkansans who are struggling with isolation, depression, and substance abuse.
Long before COVID-19, leaders in Arkansas recognized the need for increased mental-health assistance. The worldwide health crisis has made life harder for many Arkansans and confirmed this need. Thanks to the foresight of many, Arkansas’s basic infrastructure already was in place to offer aid and comfort amid the loss and other hardships that COVID has inflicted.
A surge in the availability of potent and cheap illicit drugs has worsened the negative effects of this pandemic as some have sought out drugs for relief from the past twenty months. A marked increase in the potency of fentanyl has fueled a fifty-five percent increase in the number of drug-overdose deaths in 2020 over 2019.
This trend alarms Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane, who has increased his warnings about the use of illicit drugs. Kirk says the illicit fentanyl comes to the United States from China and Mexico. The fentanyl is up to one-hundred times more potent than heroin.
It’s popular because it is easy to find and inexpensive. But it is as lethal as it is cheap. A packet the size of one serving of artificial sweetener will hold a gram of fentanyl. That’s enough to kill five-hundred people. 
Colonel Bill Bryant, head of the Arkansas State Police, tells me that over the past four years, the Criminal Interdiction Unit has confiscated seventy pounds of fentanyl in Arkansas. That’s more than thirty-thousand grams, enough to kill fifteen million people.
Kermit Channel, head of the Arkansas State Crime Lab, said that the number of fatal fentanyl overdoses has increased from three in 2014 to 175 last year. The state is on a pace to see 276 fatal overdoses this year.
Fentanyl is especially dangerous because it’s impossible to know the dose or potency you are consuming. The pills are made to look like oxycontin or other opioids, but they are laced with fentanyl. Consuming fentanyl from a street dealer is like playing Russian roulette with drugs.
Jarad Harper, assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Arkansas, says that dealers are selling fentanyl over the dark web, which makes it easier to buy. A teenager can buy fentanyl on the dark web almost as easily he buys earbuds online.
I can’t overstate the danger of these illicit drugs to our state. And I can’t say this too often: Hundreds of good people are trained and ready to help those who are struggling.
Arkansas Connect is a partnership between the state and UAMS. The initiative provides care to anyone who is dealing with substance use disorders, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. AR-Connect offers assistance by telephone and tele-health around the clock seven days a week. The phone numbers are 501-526-3563 or 800-482-9921.
Saturday is the fall Drug Take-Back day. We have placed 270 take-back boxes around the state. We have collected more than 221 tons of out-of-date and unused medicine since we started the initiative. Saturday also is the first day of the DEA’s and FBI’s Red Ribbon Week, the annual program for schools designed to educate students about the danger of abusing drugs of any sort.
My message is that regardless of the difficulties you face, plenty of people are willing to help. Please ask.
10-22-21 6:22 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Improving Mammography Services for Veterans


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This annual recognition serves as a reminder of the importance of breast self-exams, mammograms and the life-saving effect early detection has in the fight against this disease. We must ensure we have the resources to prevent it and treat those who develop this cancer.


Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer in women. The prevalence of breast cancer in women veterans and military populations is estimated to be up to 40 percent higher than the general population according to a study on cancer occurrence by the National Institutes of Health.


Given the dangerous environments in which military members serve and additional risk factors associated with these locations, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should have the advanced tools and updated policies to enable those who are more vulnerable to get mammograms and tests at an earlier age. Doing so will save lives.


Modernizing the VA’s policies to reflect this reality is critical to upholding our promise to our servicemembers.


That’s why I introduced the Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act. This legislation would require the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms or family history.


The Senate VA Committee, on which I serve, is pushing the department to make these improvements. The committee unanimously approved this legislation earlier this year. I’m hopeful the SERVICE Act will soon be signed into law so we can make a difference for veterans.


My colleagues and I are taking additional action. This month, we discussed legislation that would expand access to mammography services so we can reach veterans in rural areas. The Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act has bipartisan support and would require the VA to develop a strategic plan to improve breast imaging services, create a telemammography pilot program for veterans in areas where the VA does not offer in-house mammography and expand veterans’ access to clinical trials through partnerships with the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This expanded partnership with NCI accredited facilities will enable Arkansans and veterans in all 50 states access to first class care.


The VA is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the research, treatment and prevention of breast cancer. Taking full advantage of its resources will help veterans get the best care available. I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure the VA implements improvements to critical exam protocols and diagnostic testing.


These legislative efforts are crucial to providing women veterans with the services and benefits they earned. We’re certainly moving in the right direction. These bills build on the momentum created by the passage of the Deborah Sampson Act, landmark legislation to eliminate barriers to care and service many women veterans face when accessing VA benefits that was signed into law in early 2021.


As the population of female veterans continues to grow, we must ensure they have access to VA care and resources, and that these programs are designed to provide the appropriate services. Improving the VA’s procedures for mammography screenings will help veterans live long and healthy lives.


10-22-21 6:14 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

There are two big developments this week regarding our state’s economy.


Unemployment in Arkansas continues to decline, and our budget forecast was adjusted to reflect an increase in revenue. 


The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services says Arkansas’ unemployment rate decreased two-tenths of a percentage point from 4.2% in August to 4.0% in September.


This is the third month in a row that we have seen a decline in unemployment, and we continue to remain below the national rate of 4.8%.


We were also informed this week of a forecast revision to the general revenue budget. The Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) now says the forecast for Fiscal Year 2022 is $246.2 million more than previously forecasted.


The forecast revision for FY 2023 was also increased to $6.454 billion, which is an increase of $298.5 million over the prior release.


Individual income tax and sales and use tax are the two largest sources of general revenue to the state.


This week, the Governor outlined an income tax cut proposal but added he would not call for a special session the week of October 25 as originally planned. 


The Governor’s proposal would lower the top rate from 5.9% to 5.5% in the next year and then lower it to 5.3% by 2024. His proposal also provides a low-income tax break and increases the individual tax credit. 


Members continue to review tax cut proposals. It is anticipated that we will be called into a special session for that purpose at a later date.


The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that nine states have passed reductions in either personal or corporate income tax this year. Several other states are considering proposals.


We will continue to update you on any developments. You can find the latest news from the House of Representatives at www.arkansashouse.org.


10-22-21 4:38 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Culumn

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

October 22, 2021


LITTLE ROCK – State government will collect more in tax revenue this year than previously estimated, according to a revised forecast by the Department of Finance and Administration.


The department notified the Legislative Council that revenue for the current fiscal year would be $246 million more than was projected earlier, when legislators finalized a state budget.


The revised forecast means that state government will end the current fiscal year with a surplus of $263 million, rather than the $17 million that legislators put in a restricted reserve account earlier this year.


Under the new forecast, Arkansas will have $6.1 billion to spend from state taxes. The current budget year, Fiscal Year 2022, ends on June 30, 2022. The main sources of state revenue are sales taxes, about $2.9 billion, individual income taxes and almost 4 billion, corporate income taxes of about $652 million.


The expected surplus will be available even after all spending categories in the Revenue Stabilization Act are funded. The act is how Arkansas operates under a balanced budget every year. The legislature prioritizes spending programs by placing them in categories labelled A, B and C.


This fiscal year, all three categories should be fully funded and the surplus will be available in future fiscal years.


That sets the stage for possible tax cuts. The governor has announced that he wants to call a special session to lower state income tax rates. He and his staff are working with legislative leaders on proposed tax cuts that would save Arkansas families several hundred million dollars a year when they are fully in effect.


One tricky aspect of a possible tax cut is a so-called “trigger,” which is language that would postpone tax reductions in the event of an unexpected drop in revenue. Lawmakers want to ensure that state revenue is sufficient to maintain vital services such as education, health care and public safety.


Arkansas Exports


Last year Arkansas ranked 38th in the country in the value of its export products, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.


Arkansas exports were valued at $5.2 billion, which actually represented a decrease from the previous year of about 16 percent.

As was the case in previous years, Canada was our top destination for exported products. About 22 percent of Arkansas exports, valued at $1.5 billion, were sold in Canada last year.


Mexico was the second highest purchaser of Arkansas products, buying about $712 million worth of goods.


Aircraft and spacecraft were the largest category of export products made in Arkansas last year. They were valued at $1 billion and accounted for almost 20 percent of all Arkansas products sold abroad. The top three destinations for aircraft products were France, the Netherlands and Brazil.


Mexico and China were the largest markets for Arkansas poultry. Mexican companies bought $$82 million worth of poultry and Chinese firms bought $48 million worth of poultry from Arkansas producers. Guatemala bought $27 million worth of Arkansas poultry, and companies in Canada bought $21 million worth of poultry.


10-22-21 10:31 a.m. KAWX.ORG

OLT Announces "A Doublewide Texas Christmas" Cast and Crew

Director Amanda Baker has announced the cast and crew for the OLT Christmas comedy, “A Doublewide Texas Christmas.”


Ouachita Little Theatre is slated to perform the comedy “Doublewide Christmas” over two weekends on December 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. This fast-paced comedy is set in of one of the smallest trailer parks in Texas, consisting of four doublewides and a shed. The inhabitants of the trailer park are distressed to learn that the nearby town of Tugaloo is determined to annex them. Confusion and hilarity ensue, and this show is sure to appeal to many Polk County residents looking for some original holiday entertainment.


Big Ethel Satterwhite:  Nancy Lands

Georgia Dean Rudd:  Leshonda Reed

Lark Barken:  Annalyse Baker

Haywood Sloggett:  Tommy Myers

Patsy Price:  Linda G. Johnson

Norwayne "Baby" Crumpler:  Lamar Austin

Joveeta Crumpler:  Tara Cornelius

Caprice Crumpler:  Ann Glenn

Nash Sloggett:  Theodore "TJ" Schoeppey

 Harley Dobbs: Marvin Glenn


Director:  Amanda Baker

Assistant Director:  Donna Sloan

Stage Manager:  Lexi Payne


10-20-21 3:01 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena School Board Meeting Recap

The Mena School Board held their regular October meeting on Tuesday at the District Administration Building. It was a short agenda and a brief meeting that lasted approximately 25 minutes.


Superintendent Dr. Lee Smith began by updating the board on the formation of a committee of volunteer organizers. This group will have input on  strategies. This includes how the district will approach the reintroduction of community members to facilities as COVID protocols change and need to be addressed. At the moment persons are only admitted for educational purposes.


Smith also told the board that the Arkansas  Department of Health had changed the social distancing rule from six feet to three feet and the ‘test-to-stay’ option will soon be implemented for students who are probable close contacts to stay in school.


In new business the board quickly approved the Annual Equity Compliance Report. This action is a requirement to insure the district is following federal guidelines and that no discriminatory practices are taking place.


The next topic had to do with the addition of more surveillance cameras on all campuses and other buildings in the district. Only one company responded with a proposal and that company was Progressive. The board approved that proposal and this project will be funded by ARP and ESSER II funds.


The shortage of bus drivers is forcing the district to get creative. Dr. Smith suggested a policy that would allow the formation of a pool of on-call bus drivers made up of current licensed staff. The board approved the policy. A total of four individuals will earn $200.00 per month plus route pay to be on-call to drive when needed.


Maintenance Supervisor Danny Minton addressed the board and gave an update on numerous projects. A new fence is being constructed and a new freezer has arrived at Louise Durham Elementary. All kitchens in the district have been inspected recently and all passed with flying colors. New basketball goals have been installed on the playground at Holly Harshman Elementary. The company installing new shot clocks at the Union Bank Center is still waiting on equipment to arrive and hope to install those sometime in November. Wilson Heating and Air is having similar supply issues to be resolved before they can start on the heating and air conditioning projects at Mena Middle School and Holly Harshman.  Also the relocation and repair of gas lines at MMS continues.


The Facilities Master Plan Resolution was passed with no discussion. The only addition to the master plan was a multipurpose building. 


Dr. Smith then informed the board the Annual Report to the Public will be available online just like last year. It should be ready to view by district patrons by November.


Since the December meeting would fall during the Christmas break it was proposed to move that meeting to Tuesday, December 14th. That change was approved.


The financial reports were approved unanimously and the final item on the agenda, as always, was personnel. Charles Morgan, Rachel Dover and Landon Dover were added as on-call bus drivers. The board accepted the resignation of Paul Hooper from his position as a para at Mena High School.


They also accepted the retirement of bus drivers Peggy Foster and Gwynn Andrews.


10-20-21 10:16 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Santas 4 Seniors Will Coordinate Gifts For Senior Citizens

Santas 4 Seniors
Sponsored by Polk County 4-H/EHC/Master Gardeners

The “Santas 4 Seniors” program is open to low-income Senior Citizens, ages 65 and older who have no family support.


The main focus of this program is to provide low-income senior citizens with a special gift this Christmas.


Applications are available at the Polk County Extension Office, 211 DeQueen St., Mena, AR. Cossatot Senior Center and the Mena-Polk County Senior Center. Not all applications will be selected.

Application Deadline-November 10, 2021. Santas will be on the tree November 10th and ready for adoption.


Please bring presents to our office unwrapped in a gift bag no later than December 3rd. Deliveries to our special Seniors will be made on December 9th-14th.

For more information, contact the Polk County Extension Office at 211 DeQueen Street, Mena, AR, or by phone at (479) 394-6018.


10-18-21 3:03 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Flags To Half-Staff For General Colin Powell

In honor of the life and legacy of General Colin Powell, President Biden has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff immediately until sunset on October 22, 2021.

Governor Asa Hutchinson released the following tribute to the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Secretary of State:

“Our nation has lost a true hero & statesman with the passing of Colin Powell. Secretary Powell dedicated his life to serving our country. My respect for him grew as we both served in the Bush Administration after 9/11. Susan & I are praying for his family in this time of loss.”


10-18-21 2:40 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Statewide Fall Drug Take Back Saturday, Oct. 23rd

In addition to the permanent Drug Take Back drop box in the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Polk County Sheriff Scott  Sawyer announced that officers will be in front of the courthouse in Mena on Saturday, October 23RD, from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. collecting unused or expired prescription drugs at the curbside. 


Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is reminding Arkansans about the importance of the upcoming Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 23rd. The biannual event is an opportunity for Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets, taking any unused or expired medications to one of the State’s more than 270 drop-off locations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. At the April 2021 Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Arkansas collected the ninth largest amount of medications in the nation totaling over 28,705 lbs.


“Cleaning out medicine cabinets and turning in expired and unused medications to law enforcement during a Drug Take Back event can save lives,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “With overdoses on the rise during the pandemic, now more than ever we must continue to properly dispose of these prescription drugs.”


The event comes just after Attorney General Rutledge announced the state of Arkansas as well as cities and counties signed a memorandum of understanding which allocated the use of $216 million in national settlement funds from opioid manufacturers and distributors. This historic settlement in July 2021 provided needed relief to people across the country who are struggling with opioid addiction. The agreement includes Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids.


The semi-annual event is put on by the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Aging, Adult, & Behavioral Health Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, DEA, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director, University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute and over 207 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers.


The Take Back event will be held at various locations across the State but year-round locations are also available and can be found at ARTakeBack.org. Since the program began, more than 72 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is an estimated 201 million individual pills.


10-18-21 10:46 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for October 10Th - 16TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of October 10th through October 16th, 2021


October 10


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


A report of criminal trespass was taken at a residence on 2nd Street.


Eric Revels, 37, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Highway 71.


October 11


Justin Keaster, 38, was served with four warrants at the county jail.


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


October 12


Cheryl Smith, 32, was served with a warrant after contact on Eagle Gap.


Shannon King, 27, was served with two warrants at the police department.


Janet Shreve, 57, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) after a call to Walmart.


October 13


A report of a disturbance was taken at a residence on Warner Avenue.


October 14


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


October 15


Brandon Rose, 23, was charged with Public Intoxication after a suspicious person complaint on West Boundary Road.


Charles Solo, 49, was charged with Theft of Services after a complaint on 9th Street.


A report of breaking or entering was taken at a residence on Cherry Street.


October 16


Matthew Miller, 39, was served with three warrants at the police department.


Gary Smith, 44, was served with a warrant after a report of a suspicious person at the intersection of 11th Street and Port Arthur Avenue.


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


10-18-21 10:15 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Report for October 11TH - 17TH



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of October 11, 2021 – October 17, 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.


October 11, 2021

Sofia Velazquez, 23 of Van Buren was arrested on a charge of DWI.

Matthew Hackworth, 36 of Mena was arrested on a Parole Revocation and a Felony Warrant for Probation Violation.

A traffic stop on Hwy 8 West led to Teresa Davis being issued a citation for Public Intoxication.

Tatum Veal, 31 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Cheyenne Smith, 27 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Probation Violation.

Deputies responded to a report of Theft of Medication at a residence on Polk 41 S near Mena.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 93 near Mena in reference to a Trespasser. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.


October 12, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of Financial Identity Fraud.

Jimmy Lindsey, 37 of Eureka Springs was arrested on a Body Attachment.


October 13, 2021

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Polk 60 near Mena in reference to a piece of equipment being vandalized.

Deputies responded to a report of Terroristic Threatening.

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Strawberry Lane near Potter of a dog being shot.

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Hwy 71 S near Hatfield in reference to fraud.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of a Scam.


October 14, 2021

Anthony Tolleson, 31 of Norman was arrested on a Warrant for DWI.

Royce Green, 46 of Mena was arrested by an officer with Probation/Parole on a Warrant for Disorderly Conduct.

Cord Olson, 35 of Hatfield was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Criminal Possession of Explosives as well as a charge of Criminal Use of a Prohibited Weapon.

Deputies responded to a report of Theft of Property at a residence on Hwy 71 S near Cove.

Deputies responded to a Dispute between neighbors on Polk 20 W near Cove. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.


October 15, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a Missing Person.

Deputies responded to an Altercation between landowners and renters.


October 16, 2021

Deputies responded to a complaint of a missing ATV.

Charles Duff, 34 of Mena was arrested on four Misdemeanor Warrants for Theft of Property.


October 17, 2021

Randy Whitehead, 39 of Mena was arrested on a Misdemeanor Warrant for Theft, Obstructing Governmental Operations and Criminal Trespass.

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Polk 56 near Nunley in reference to a Disturbance. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.


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


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 21 Incarcerated Inmates, with 9 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.



10-18-21 9:18 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Pathways to Freedom and Success

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Pathways to Freedom and Success
LITTLE ROCK – One of my priorities has been to help pave a path to success for those who are re-entering society after a prison term. Today I’d like to talk about how we’ve addressed that. I also want to share the story of a man who spent his life encouraging young people to make good choices so they wouldn’t go to prison.
During my first year in office, we created Restore Hope, a program designed help inmates prepare for freedom. We needed an effective reentry system to give those coming out of prison a better chance of success, of getting a job, and of contributing to their community. Most importantly, by helping them succeed, we would reduce the risk that they would return to prison.
This also addressed a problem that isn’t as obvious but just as serious. Often when people enter prison, their children go into our foster care system. When we reduce the number of people going to prison, we reduce the number of children entering foster care.
Pathway to Freedom is a nonprofit faith-based program that works with inmates while they are in prison and after they are released. The numbers tell the story of Pathway’s success. Of all the programs offered in Arkansas’s prison system, the percent of Pathway graduates who return to prison is the lowest at 23 percent.
Now I’ll tell you about a man whose mission was to keep young people out of trouble so that they never needed a Pathway to Freedom.
Everyone seemed to know Dwayne Yarbrough. Most people called him Big D. You couldn’t miss him. He was 6-foot-7, and you could see his smile a mile away. Coach Houston Nutt first met Big D at a high school basketball game decades ago. Most people knew him from his security jobs at War Memorial Stadium and the State Fair, which is where I met him. At concerts, he was one of the big guys who stood between fans and the entertainers on stage.
But his day job was as an educator with the Attorney General’s office, where he worked for 23 years. His passion was to steer young people onto the right path. He created the program “Right Choices, Better Chances,” which he presented at schools and police departments all over the state. He trained law enforcement officers and School Resource Officers. He taught at the Criminal Justice Institute. Director Dr. Cheryl May praised his ability to convey his message and his method.
Larance Johnson, who recently retired from the Criminal Justice Institute, said Big D lived and breathed his mission. He was a gentle giant whose size and unexpectedly calm voice and manner could bring tense situations under control.
He was one of the early members of the Arkansas Safe Schools Association and served as president of the board from 2018 to 2020.
Big D died on September 8 of this year. Family and friends attended a service for him at War Memorial Stadium. There’s no way to quantify Big D’s impact, but we can honor his work by sharing his mission to set our young people on the path to success so that they won’t need a path out of prison.
10-15-21 5:13 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

ARDOT to Launch New Anti-Litter Campaign: Keep it Clean, Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Transportation will debut its new anti-litter campaign, Keep It Clean, Arkansas, at the Arkansas State Fair this October, according to Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) officials.


Arkansas has the twelfth largest highway system in the nation with more than 16,000 miles of roadway to maintain and keep litter-free. For every one mile of road, Arkansas averages 2,000 pieces of trash—that adds up to almost 32-million pieces of litter each year. ARDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program helps address litter by allowing volunteers such as individuals, groups and organizations to pick up trash along the highway. With more than 900 groups across the state—and more added each day—there is an ongoing effort to keep Arkansas clean.


“Even with that many volunteers, ARDOT still spends an average of $5 million each year picking up trash,” reported Holly Butler, Executive Assistant for ARDOT’s Public Information Office. “One of my duties is to oversee the Adopt-A-Highway program. We absolutely love our volunteers, but it’s clear that picking up trash isn’t the problem—littering is.”


ARDOT’s new Keep It Clean, Arkansas, campaign focuses on educating the public about the long-term damage caused when litter hits the highway.


“Trash doesn’t just stay on the side of the road,” Butler explained. “It also gets washed into nearby rivers, lakes and streams, and pollutes waterways and aquatic habitats. Things we consider harmless trash can take hundreds of years to decompose. When you look at the big picture, the litter problem is overwhelming.”


ARDOT’s booth at the State Fair will provide information on how you can take a proactive approach to litter and how to get involved with the AAH program.


Follow us on Twitter @IDriveArkansas for traffic and @myARDOT for everything else.


10-15-21 3:34 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Fighting Drug Abuse Through Arkansas Take Back


According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 20 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers, stimulants, tranquilizers or sedatives that year. A majority of these misused prescription drugs came from family and friends’ home medicine cabinets.


Clearly our nation continues to battle an epidemic of substance abuse – particularly the misuse of prescription medications. The results have been tragic.


In Arkansas, we are intimately familiar with the consequences.


In 2020, over 500 Arkansans died from drug overdoses, an increase of 195 from the previous year. Drug overdoses have been the second leading cause of accidental deaths in Arkansas since 2010, and many of those overdoses can be attributed to opioid misuse. Last year, for the first time in our state’s history, fentanyl surpassed methamphetamine to become the deadliest drug.


Thankfully, there are multiple efforts underway to combat this crisis, bring overdose deaths down, and treat and prevent substance abuse.


One such initiative is a partnership between the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and state and local law enforcement agencies called National Drug Take Back Day. Twice per year, a concerted campaign is organized and promoted by DEA along with state and local partners to encourage Americans to properly dispose of prescription drugs and curb their abuse.


The Natural State has fully embraced this approach to ridding homes of expired and unused prescription medications. Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane has mobilized support for Arkansas Take Back, which each spring and fall facilitates numerous collection sites in communities across the state. Here Arkansans can bring their surplus medicines and have confidence they will be safely discarded instead of winding up in the wrong hands. To date, Arkansas has collected 442,162 pounds (221 tons) of prescription drugs through Take Back events.


In recent years, we had actually been reducing overdose deaths through a combination of prevention and addiction treatment services, as well as widespread deployment of Naloxone, sometimes referred to as Narcan, which is used to reverse the effects of an opioid-induced overdose.


The second Drug Take Back Day in 2021 is quickly approaching and presents an opportunity to once again clean out our homes and medicine cabinets. On Saturday, October 23, over 250 locations will be collecting expired and unneeded medications. If you need to find the closest collection site to your home, just visit artakeback.org.


I’ve been proud to back federal efforts to help combat the opioid epidemic, including increasing resources for law enforcement, allocating money to grant programs that help state and local governments offset the costs of opioid abuse and providing funds for research into opioid addiction and alternative treatments.


We all have a part to play in getting these medications off the streets and out of the hands of our family, friends and neighbors who might misuse them accidentally or intentionally. I will continue to support policies and programs that offer solutions to help get this crisis under control, save lives, and restore families and communities that have suffered so deeply from the effects of these drugs.


There’s no doubt our state and the country suffered a setback in drug abuse because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that does not mean we can’t get back on the right track. The first step will be to join together and commit to safely, securely disposing of potentially dangerous medications at the upcoming Arkansas Take Back events. I encourage all Arkansans to take that step.


10-15-21 3:23 p.m. KAWX.ORG


State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Culumn

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer.


It is the most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of death among women. In 2018, there were 2,339 new breast cancer cases and 368 cancer deaths in the state. 


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer and the importance of early detection.


In 1997, the Arkansas General Assembly passed the Breast Cancer Act, which led to the ADH’s BreastCare program. The BreastCare program coordinates efforts with providers to offer no-cost screenings and follow-up services to eligible women who are uninsured or underinsured. 

Last year, the program served 8,403 women in fiscal year 2021. Those services resulted in 62 Arkansas women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer. 


The General Assembly continually reviews legislation to improve services for early detection.


In the most recent legislative session, we passed Act 553. 


ACT 553 amends the law concerning coverage of diagnostic examinations for breast cancer under certain health benefit plans. It clarifies that an insurer, upon the recommendation of a woman's physician, must offer screening mammography as an essential health benefit if the woman has a prior history of breast cancer or the woman's mother, sister, or any first- or second-degree female relative of the woman has had a history of breast cancer, positive genetic testing, or other risk factors. 


According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%. Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.


The Arkansas Department of Health is encouraging women to talk with their healthcare providers about getting screened. If you would like more information on the BreastCare program, call 501-661-2942 or visit www.arbreastcare.com.


10-15-21 3:18 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

October 15, 2021


LITTLE ROCK – The market for workers’ compensation insurance remains competitive in Arkansas, thanks to efforts by the legislature to hold down rates.


According to the most recent data available from the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Arkansas has some of the lowest rankings for losses. Factors that drive rates include the frequency of claims, medical costs and the price of prescription drugs.


There are two major markets from which employers purchase workers’ comp insurance. One is voluntary and the other is the assigned risk pool, for jobs that are too risky or too expensive for the ordinary market. The top five categories that are covered in the assigned risk pool are in the construction industry.


Earlier this year 185 companies in Arkansas were removed from the assigned risk plan and got coverage in the voluntary market, saving them on average 5.35 percent in premiums.


In 2020 Arkansas had the lowest loss costs in the region, per each $100 of payroll. It was 50 cents per $100, compared to a regional average of 69 cents and a national average of 91 cents. The cost of premiums in Arkansas is stable or declining because of declines in loss costs.


In the early 1990s workers’ comp insurance was about to become too expensive for many employers to afford. Annual rate increases were in the double digits. For example, premiums went up by 15 percent and 18 percent in 1991 and 1992.


The legislature passed Act 796 of 1993, and the effect on the market was clear and significant, according to the Insurance Department’s most recent annual report. Anticipated rate increases in 1993 and 1994 did not occur. It was the first time in 10 years that rates did not go up.


The Insurance Department reached the conclusion that the voluntary market in Arkansas would possibly have disappeared without Act 796, leaving the assigned risk pool as the only market for workers’ comp insurance.


The act created a division within the Insurance Department assigned to investigate fraud, and set financial penalties for fraudulently making workers’ comp claims. According to the Insurance Department report, “before the passage of Act 796 of 1993, there had never been a criminal prosecution in Arkansas for workers’ compensation fraud committed by employees, employers or healthcare providers.”


In 2005 the division’s authority was expanded to investigate all forms of insurance fraud and it was renamed the Criminal Investigation Division of the Insurance Department.


In 2020 the Division got 40 referrals, of which 20 were investigated. One case was referred to local prosecutors, but it was subsequently closed for lack of evidence. Since the Division was created in 1993, it has referred 167 cases for prosecution, resulting in 123 convictions.


In three cases the defendant was acquitted and in all the remaining cases the charges were not filed by prosecutors.

In cases in which there is not sufficient evidence to prosecute, often the threat of prosecution is motivation for the parties to settle out of court, according to the Insurance Department.


The overwhelming majority of cases investigated by the Division are for other forms of insurance fraud. Only 3.5 percent of its cases are investigations of workers’ comp fraud.


10-15-21 9:46 a.m. KAWX.ORG 


Arkansas law enforcement agencies will unite in the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” initiative aimed at stopping the dangerous practice of distracted driving.  Starting Sunday, Arkansas State Troopers, joined by local police officers and sheriff’s deputies across the state, will begin a week-long (October 17-23) intensified patrol effort to stop drivers who are distracted and fail to keep their eyes on the road.
   One of the leading factors contributing to the epidemic of distracted driving is the simultaneous use of cell phones and other electronic devices to communicate while drivers travel across state highways and local streets.  In recent years, young drivers have become the largest segment among distracted driving offenders, using their cell phones to talk, text, and scroll through social media while they’re supposed to be in control of their vehicle.
   According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, since 2007 the number of drivers 16 to 24 years old observed using handheld electronic devices while driving has continually increased compared to older drivers.  During 2018, 8 percent of the people killed in teen driving crashes (ages 15-19) died when teen drivers were distracted at the time of the crash, and the following year (2019) 10 percent of the teenage drivers were distracted at the time of the crashes.  
   National Teen Driver Safety Week coincides with the planned distracted driving operation.  Parents are encouraged to have conversations with their teenage children who are drivers about the important rules they need to follow to stay safe while operating a motor vehicle.
   Texting while driving is illegal in 47 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Teenage drivers need to be reminded of the dangers when using a phone while driving and that any use of a cell phone to text, talk or use social media applications raises the chances of someone being injured or killed.  Even when stopped at a traffic light, distracted driving laws can and will be enforced by law enforcement officers.  Additionally, young drivers should be told it’s not advisable to use headphones or earbuds while driving.  All drivers need to be able to hear another vehicle’s horn or the siren from an emergency vehicle.
   “The growing disregard of distracted driving laws isn’t limited just to teenagers,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “It’s frightening to realize many adults are now mimicking the dangerous distracted driving practices of their children and grandchildren which is taking a toll in the form of injuries and deaths on Arkansas roadways.”
   Cell phones aren’t the only cause of distracted driving.  A driver who takes their eyes off the road to speak to a passenger, adjust entertainment programming or temperature controls, even eating while driving are all examples of distracted driving.
   “People know texting and driving is dangerous and illegal, but they selfishly do it anyway while putting others at risk,” said Colonel Bryant.  “We have to get the message out and beginning this weekend state troopers will be sending that message in the form of violator citations to anyone caught texting and driving.”
   Arkansas law enforcement officers and the Highway Safety Office urge drivers of any age to put their phones away while behind the wheel and operating a vehicle. If a text message is necessary, safely exit the street or highway and find a location to stop and use the phone.  Never try to read or send a text message while a vehicle is moving.  Drivers are also asked to consider other safety precautions:
•  Designate a passenger as a “designated texter.” Allow the passenger to access the driver’s phone.
•  Never engage in social media scrolling or posting messages while driving.
•  Cell phone use is habit-forming.  If a driver is struggling with safe practices, activate the cell phone “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put the phone out of reach from the driver such as in the trunk, glove box, or back seat.
   Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal.  Remember, U Drive. U Text. U Pay.  For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.
10-14-21 4:58 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Fall Clean-up Starts October 25TH



The City of Mena’s 18th Annual Fall Clean-Up is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 25, 2021. Only yard waste items will be picked up (tree limbs, shrubs, leaves, grass, etc.). Due to state law, we can not pick up construction debris and lumber. Furniture and other household items will not be picked up. Please place items at curb side PRIOR to Monday, October 25th to insure they will be collected.


It is required that smaller items, such as small limbs, gum balls, and leaves, be placed in garbage bags.


This service is free for the residents of Mena. The Mena Street Department will begin collection in the Northwest part of the city and work their way across town following the same routes as Southern Disposal. This pick-up is scheduled for one week only and it is not necessary to call City Hall in order to receive this service.


10-14-21 11:55 a.m. KAWX.ORG

"The Farm", A Story Partners Video About a Mena Couple

"The Farm"


Life in the Ouachita Mountains of Western Arkansas is anything but fancy. But Phillip and Ann Hatley wouldn't have it any other way. They love the simple life. Days full of organic gardening, bee keeping, raising free range livestock, and their favorite thing.... loving people.


To watch "The Farm", click here


Who is Story Partners? Story Parters is a team of storytellers whose passion is to create short films that document how God is working in the world around us. He is moving - everywhere, and in such dynamic and incredible ways. We want to point people to Jesus by sharing the stories of who He is and how He is active today.


About the filmmakers. Walt and Annie (Schulte) Manis both grew up in Mena, Arkansas. They have been involved in Christian filmmaking ministries for the past 19 years. This work has taken him all over the world, documenting and sharing stories.


In 2019, Walt and Annie helped start the filmmaking ministry Story Partners, based in Austin, Texas. Their Board of Directors includes two others people with Mena connections, Adam Herod and Cynthia Mathis.


10-13-21 5:47 p.m. KAWX.ORG

OLT, Just 4 Fun Players Present Night of Mystery!

OLT and Just 4 Fun Players Team Up with Mena Mountain Resort for a Night of Mystery!


Looking for a fall evening with live entertainment that is full of fun and suspense? Mark your calendar for the performances of 39 Steps, a hilarious “whodunnit” comedy with just the right mix of murder mystery and humor.


The first of the shows will be performed on October 22 and 23 at Mena Mountain Resort. Doors will open at 6:00 PM and the show starts at 7:30 PM. This is a dinner theater with a twist; you bring your own “brown bag” dinner! There is limited seating, so please make reservations by calling MMR at 479-394-3110. You can also get ticket information at this number for these two shows.

There will be a reprise of 39 Steps on Halloween weekend at Ouachita Little Theatre, 610 Mena Street. Three shows will take place on Friday and Saturday, October 29-30, at 7:30 PM and Sunday October 31 at 2:30 PM. Your OLT season ticket will get you into either location. If you would like to purchase advanced tickets, you may visit the OLT office on Thursdays and Fridays between 2-6 PM or on Saturday between 10 AM and 2 PM.


Just 4 Fun cast member Tim Hesse describes the play as a parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s early thriller, The 39 Steps.” He states, “It is set in London in 1935 and centers around a large cast of characters all played by four actors. Our hero runs deeper and deeper into pre-WWII espionage, Nazis, and even murders. What’s fun about this play is that the actors are actually encouraged to adlib and do whatever it takes to get a laugh. It reminds me of when I was a kid and came home from a movie and acted it out for my parents.”


Ouachita Little Theatre is concerned for the health and safety of our performers as well as our patrons.  We will not require our OLT audiences to be masked, but we respectfully ask you to do so to assist in protecting each other from Covid19.  Since the interactive dinner theatre at Mena Mountain Resort contains a stage that protrudes in the audience area, the tables will be limited to 4 people and placed to allow for social distancing.


Thank you for your cooperation and hope to see you for 39 Steps!!!


10-12-21 6:14 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for October 3RD - 9TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of October 3rd through October 9th, 2021


October 3


Benjamin Farley, 22, was charged with Public Intoxication and served with a warrant after a suspicious person complaint at Janssen Park.


October 4


A theft report was taken from a person at Northside Laundromat.


A report of theft and criminal mischief was taken at Salvation Army.


Howard Blume, 26, was served with a warrant at the police department.


October 5


A death investigation report was taken at a residence on Hickory Avenue.


Kimberly Jones, 22, was served with a warrant at the county jail.


Chelsea Roba, 26, was served with a warrant at the police department.


Amy Watts, 42, was charged with Theft of Property after a complaint from a person at Bunch’s Laundromat.


Ginger Acquaah, 40, was served with a warrant at the police department.


October 6


A report of criminal trespass was taken at Budget Inn.


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


October 7


A report of financial identity fraud was taken at a residence on Ouachita Circle.


A report of theft was taken from a person at Sun Country Inn.


October 8


Kyle Robinson, 26, and Terri Dehart, 25, were both served with warrants at a residence on Evans Circle.


October 9


No reports.


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


10-11-21 12:04 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for October 4TH - 10TH



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of October 4, 2021 – October 10, 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.


October 4, 2021

Deputies were dispatched to a business on Hwy 71 North near Hillcrest for a report of Theft of Property.

Deputies responded to a call to Polk 29 near Hatfield, leading to the arrest of Jennifer Slaikeu, 37 of Judsonia on a charge of Disorderly Conduct.

Cord Olson, 35 of Hatfield was arrested on charges of Disorderly Conduct and Communicating a False Alarm.

Glen Busch, 71 of Mena was arrested on charges of Harassment and Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the First Degree.


October 5, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a Hit and Run Accident on Hwy 375 E near Mena.

Deputies responded to a Harassment complaint at a cemetery near Hatfield.

Deputies responded to a report of a Break-In on Polk 602 near Shady.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of a property dispute.


October 6, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of a Domestic Altercation. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Bobby Huber, 29 of Mena was arrested by an officer with the Probation/Parole Office on a Felony Warrant for Failure to Register.


October 7, 2021

Deputies responded to a request for Welfare Check at a residence on Polk 36 near Hatfield led to the arrest of Terrie Jo Williams, 34 of Hatfield on two misdemeanor Failure to Appear Warrants. Also arrested was Patrick Billings, 71 of Cove on a misdemeanor Failure to Appear Warrant.


October 8, 2021

Patricia Jackson, 53 of Mena was arrested on charges of Delivery of Methamphetamine or Cocaine, Trafficking a Controlled Substance and Driving Left of Center.

Richard Erickson, 45 of Hatfield was arrested on charges of Delivery of Methamphetamine or Cocaine, Trafficking a Controlled Substance and Driving Left of Center.

Whitney Reynolds, 31 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Possession of a Controlled Substance.


October 9, 2021

Joseph Stubbs, 45 of Mena was arrested on a Misdemeanor Warrant for Theft of Property.

James Keaster, 38 was arrested on two Misdemeanor Failure to Appear Warrants.


October 10, 2021

Lehnard Barnett, 32 of Mena was arrested by an officer with the Arkansas State Police on a charge of DWI.


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


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 25 Incarcerated Inmates, with 6 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.



10-11-21 9:20 a.m. KAWX.ORG


Polk County Sheriff's Office, 18th Judicial West DTF arrest 2, seize large amount of Methamphetamines

Polk County Sheriff’s Office and 18th Judicial West DTF arrest 2 and seize large amount of Methamphetamines


On Friday October 8, 2021.  At approximately 11:30 am, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the 18th Judicial West DTF conducted a traffic stop on Hwy 8 West and Polk 95. During the traffic stop and subsequent search of the vehicle, Deputies discovered approximately 1 pound of Methamphetamines. The driver, Richard C. Erickson age 45 of Hatfield, and passenger, Patricia L. Jackson age 53 of Mena, were both arrested at the scene and transported to the Polk County Detention Center.


Richard C. Erickson

Patricia L. Jackson


Erickson is currently charged with -Possession of Methamphetamines with purpose-Trafficking a Controlled Substance (Methamphetamines). Jackson is currently charged with -Delivery of Methamphetamines-Trafficking a Controlled Substance (Methamphetamines).


All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


10-8-21 KAWX.ORG

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Firsthand Perspective from the Southern Border

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Firsthand Perspective from the Southern Border
LITTLE ROCK – Today I’d like to talk about my recent trip to the southern border of Texas. General Kendall Penn, Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, joined me for a visit with members of the Arkansas National Guard who are in Texas to support Operation Lone Star. They are doing a fantastic job for our state and nation. We also went on a fast boat inspection of the Rio Grande River and received a briefing from the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande sector. 
The issues at the border are familiar to me. When President Bush appointed me as Undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, one of my tasks was to oversee security of our southern border. The problems were challenges 20 years ago. But the current number of illegal crossings and apprehensions, the volume of illegal drugs seized, and the human trafficking are far worse than we’ve ever seen, especially in Texas.
Under Operation Lone Star, there have been nearly 7,000 arrests and nearly 150,000 illegal aliens that have been apprehended and referred to federal immigration authorities. And then Border Patrol apprehensions and seizures are on top of those numbers.
We have a crisis at the border. It is a humanitarian crisis, a border-security crisis, and a public health crisis all rolled into a national security threat. It’s never been worse than it is right now. Any time you have migrants coming across our border from scores of countries, waiting for the right moment and then successfully coming in, this is not a closed border.
Until January, U.S. border policy had controlled the flow of illegal crossings and drugs. But those policies were reversed, and that puts all of us at risk, especially those who live along the border in Texas and Arizona. We must change our policy in order to regain control.
I was one of 26 governors who signed a letter requesting a meeting with President Biden to discuss the crisis. After three weeks, the President has not responded. On Wednesday, nine other governors joined Texas Governor Greg Abbott for a press conference to demand federal action to control the border.
Governor Abbott has allocated more than a billion dollars to continue building the wall along the Texas border and to initiate other measures to protect his state.
The illegal immigration and drug smuggling is a national problem. Those who cross illegally don’t remain in Texas and neither do the drugs. They are coming into Arkansas and all over the United States. Every state has an interest in bringing this under control.
Late Monday night, we took a boat tour along a section of the Rio Grande River that is a hotspot for smugglers. Then we hiked through the brush on the Texas side of the river. The people who patrol at night work in total darkness and rely on night-vision goggles.
Arkansas is doing its part as we are asked. The men and women from the Arkansas National Guard who deployed in July are doing an incredible job of maintaining vehicles for the Texas National Guard.
My trip was useful as I saw firsthand the enormity of the challenge along our border and to personally thank the men and women who serve our country as Border Patrol agents and as National Guard members.
10-8-21 7:46 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

This week, the House passed legislation outlining new boundaries for Arkansas’ four congressional districts.  


HB1982 and SB743 are identical bills that divide the state into the following districts:


The first congressional district includes the counties of Arkansas, Baxter, Boone, Chicot, Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Desha, Fulton, Greene, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Lee, Lincoln, Lonoke, Marion, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett, Prairie, Randolph, St. Francis, Searcy, Sharp, Stone, and Woodruff. It also includes and a portion of Pulaski County.


The second congressional district will include the counties of Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Perry, Saline, Van Buren, White, and a large portion of Pulaski County.


The third congressional district will include the counties of Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Madison, Washington, and a portion of Sebastian County.


The fourth congressional district will include Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Clark, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Drew, Franklin, Garland, Grant, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Jefferson, Johnson, Lafayette, Little River, Logan, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Pike, Polk, Pope, Scott, Sevier, Union, Yell and portion of Pulaski and Sebastian Counties. 


We have posted the map proposed in the legislation at www.arkansashouse.org.


The bills have now been sent to the Governor’s desk. 


This week, the House also passed HB1977 and SB739.


These bills state that an employer that requires vaccination or immunization for COVID-19 for its employees shall provide specific exemption processes outlined in the legislation. 


The bills state the exemption process shall include options that allow the employee to produce either:


A negative antigen detection test result or molecular diagnostic test result no more than one time per week showing that the employee is not positive for COVID-19; or

Proof of immunity for the virus that causes COVID-19 or its variants, including without limitation the presence of antibodies, T cell response, or proof of a positive COVID-19 or its variants test, on a basis of two times per year from a licensed healthcare provider.


The House will be in recess unless the Speaker called us back to the Capitol to address any errors or consider any vetoes. If we are not called back to the Capitol, the 2021 Regular Session will officially adjourn on October 15.


10-8-21 5:36 p.m. KAWX.ORG


US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Getting Cyber Smart


Cyberattacks on individuals, businesses and government entities are a growing problem. Cybercriminals are becoming more brazen and their crimes are increasing in size and scale. This year, hackers infiltrated a Florida water treatment facility, forced the temporary closure of a major pipeline and disrupted operations at a major meat supplier. Bad actors are constantly looking for targets and we must implement defenses to safeguard our nation’s interests.


Robust cybersecurity is increasingly important to protecting the public’s privacy and critical infrastructure. We must ensure we take appropriate steps to prevent and mitigate future attacks.


In a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing this summer, my colleagues and I examined potential cybersecurity threats facing our nation’s infrastructure and how the federal government can better protect existing vulnerabilities and stay ahead of emerging threats. 


One thing we learned from industry leaders is the lack of awareness about the tools and resources available to identify and reduce cybersecurity attacks on small and medium utility systems. Expanding education about these opportunities can help prevent attacks on critical industries, which is vital because we know our adversaries have these systems in their crosshairs.


The 2021 annual threat assessment by the U.S. Intelligence Community lays out how intelligence officials are growing more concerned with threats posed by China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. The report noted how Russia “continues to target critical infrastructure” in order to disrupt and create chaos to daily routines. Most recently, we witnessed this disruption and chaos with the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline.


The troubling increase in cyberattacks on essential services demonstrates the crucial need to invest in capabilities and resources to defend against these risks to our national security.


That’s why the Emerging Threats Center at the Forge Institute in Little Rock is so valuable. It brings private and public sector organizations together to train individuals on how to best protect and defend critical infrastructure and programs from emerging threats and future cybersecurity attacks.


By supporting the development and implementation of stronger cybersecurity programs, we can safeguard Arkansas families, small businesses and public entities from attacks and costly responses caused by cyber criminals. I’m working to strengthen Arkansas’s role in this effort.


I am proud to have secured a mission at the Little Rock Air Force Base to combat cyberthreats. Today, the 223rd Cyberspace Operations Squadron assesses state infrastructure cyber risks and develops exercises for the private and public sectors in Arkansas. These exercises build awareness of existing threats and teach cyber protection and response strategy. I support efforts to expand the scope and capabilities of the squadron so we can provide a full spectrum of readiness and resilience against cyber disasters within the state.


In Arkansas, state leaders have been proactively working to reduce the threat of cyberattacks. In 2019, the state legislature passed a bill to establish the Arkansas Cyber Initiative to promote cooperation among public and private entities in order to strengthen cybersecurity. The recent launch of the Arkansas Cyber Advisory Council will also enhance the state’s ability to manage and identify threats.


There is an urgency to fortify public and private systems to protect individuals, industries and our economy against these attacks. This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, let’s commit to working together to develop and implement strategies that prevent us from becoming future victims.


10-8-21 5:33 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Miller Named New Vice-Chancellor of Finance and Administration at UARM

Chancellor Dr. Phillip Wilson has announced Kate Miller as UA Rich Mountain’s new Vice-Chancellor of Finance and Administration. Miller replaces Morris Boydstun who has announced his retirement from that role but plans to continue as the Bucks Athletic Director and Assistant to the Chancellor.


Miller is a 7th generation Polk County resident who graduated Mena High School while also taking concurrent classes through [then] Rich Mountain Community College. She is a strong advocate for junior/community colleges, attending Connors State College on a livestock judging scholarship. “I highly advocate the junior college route, both for cost savings but also from a maturity standpoint. JuCo gave me the opportunity to grow up a little more before being released into the ‘wild’.” Miller later earned her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University.

Miller, who has worked across the country since leaving Mena, is astounded at the changes the college has undergone, “When I came back for the initial tour, I was shocked at how much the campus footprint has grown. The addition of the dorms, student union and sports complex are really an asset to the institution; and I am looking forward to seeing how these additions strengthen recruiting abilities.”


Miller added that the experience she has obtained while developing her career make her an ideal fit for her new role. “I have had many unique experiences in my decade long stint in sales and operations, and while I have many new things to learn, I know there is a great team in place to help make that transition easier. As opposed to the private sector where my focus was on efficiency, my role here will be based on ensuring the experience that UARM students have on campus. This college provides many in the region with the opportunity to reach their own goals, and so I see my role as a supporting cast member to that endeavor by supporting the professors, staff, students and programs that make our campus unique.”


Wilson is proud to welcome someone with such strong local roots to this administrative role, “You hate to lose someone as experienced as Morris, who is responsible for so much of the strategic growth of the college, so we are very grateful that he will continue with us in a different capacity. Kate brings a wealth of experience in business development and operations, along with her enthusiastic appreciation to return home and make a significant impact. We couldn’t be more proud to have her on board with our Rich Mountain family.”


With a renewed appreciation for this part of the country and the people who live here, Miller added, “There is something so special about this town. Yes, there is no privacy, you can never get out of Walmart without seeing half the people you know, and we don't all see life the same way; but we are all truly privileged to live somewhere so beautiful and welcoming. I am looking forward to this season of my life at home, watching the college, the community and my family grow and change.”


In her new role, Miller will primarily oversee the financial operations of the college. Her spare time will be spent doing what she’s always had a passion for, family and farming. “As a family we spend our time working together on the farm, sharing a meal or playing fetch in the yard; and it is those things that I am so grateful to be able to experience again. I have a golden etriever named Ellie, who is over the moon to be back home with her friends and within closer proximity to deeper mudholes to play in.”


UARM will host the Chamber coffee Friday, October 15 at 10 am to give the community an opportunity to meet/welcome Miller back home and into her new administrative role with the college. The event will be held in the Ouachita Center.


10-8-21 12:21 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

October 8, 2021


LITTLE ROCK – In an extension of this year’s regular session the legislature drew new boundaries for the four Congressional districts in Arkansas, and approved exemptions for workers at companies that require staff to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.


The legislature was prepared to convene again, in the event that the governor vetoes any of the bills and lawmakers want to override the veto.


The new map of Congressional districts will divide two counties. Sebastian County will be divided between the Third District of northwest Arkansas and the Fourth District of southern Arkansas.


Pulaski County will be divided three ways. The western half of the county will be in the Second District. Traditionally, an undivided Pulaski County has been the centerpiece of the Second District of central Arkansas.


The new map will put southeastern Pulaski County in the First Congressional District, which covers much of eastern Arkansas. The First District includes the counties along the Mississippi River and a band of counties along the northern border with Missouri.


A sliver of southern Pulaski County, in Little Rock, will be in the Fourth District, which is a geographically large district that covers southwest Arkansas.


The Second District will include northwest Pulaski County, as well as Saline, Perry, Faulkner, Conway, Van Buren, Cleburne and White Counties.


Boone, Marion, Baxter, Stone and Searcy Counties will in the First District, which covers northeast Arkansas.


Carroll, Crawford and Madison Counties will be in the Third District, along with the major population centers of Washington and Benton Counties and northern Sebastian County.


The counties along the Louisiana border and the Texas border will be in the Fourth District, except for Chicot County in the southeastern corner of the state. It will be in the First District, along with other Delta counties where row crop agriculture is prevalent.


The Fourth District will extend from Texarkana northward to include southern Sebastian County. The Fourth District will extend north across the Arkansas River to take in Franklin, Johnson, Pope and Newton Counties. It also will include Jefferson County, Grant County, Hot Spring County and Garland County.


Ashley and Drew Counties will be in the Fourth District; Lincoln County will be in the First District.


Under legislation passed by the Senate and House, companies that require their workers to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus would have to provide exemptions for employees who are tested weekly.


Also, they would be exempt if they could show that they have antibodies, which the body produces after a person contracts the virus. Tests for antibodies could not exceed twice a year.


The cost of testing would be paid by any state or federal funding available. If no government funding is available, the cost would be paid by the employee.


Employees who comply with the testing requirements shall not be terminated, and if they are terminated in violation of the law, they may be eligible for unemployment benefits.


The exemption process will expire July 31, 2023, unless the legislature extends it. There is no emergency clause on the legislation, so it takes effect 90 days after the official adjournment of the extended session.


10-8-21 12:18 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

New JP Sworn In, Quorum Court Meets, Tim Williamson Honored

The Polk County Quorum Court met for their regular monthly meeting September 28th. Only routine business was handled by the Justices of the Peace. All eleven JPs were present for the meeting, as well as County Judge Brandon Ellison, County Clerk Terri Harrison, several other elected officials and guests.


Just prior to the meeting, Penny Kesterson was sworn in as the newest Justice of the Peace District 10. Kesterson was appointed to fill out the unexpired term of her late husband, Basil Kesterson, by Governor Asa Hutchinson. Kesterson will not be eligible to run for the office in the next election. Her term will be through the end of 2022.
























Penny Kesterson


Former Prosecuting Tim Williamson, who recently died, was recognized for his service to Polk County, and a moment of silence was observed in his honor.












Tim Williamson


County Judge Brandon Ellison updated the court on the $3.8 million the county will receive in ARP (American Rescue Plan) money. Judge Ellison said that it was still unclear how the money could be used. Employees of the County will be getting a retention bonus from some of the money.


The October 2021 Quaorum Court meeting will be October 26th at 6:30 p.m. in the Quorum Court Meeting Room at the Polk County Office Complex (old hospital) on Pine Street in Mena. Quorum Court meetings are open to the public.


10-5-21 10:33 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Log for September 27 - October 3



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of September 27, 2021 – October 3, 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.


September 27, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a verbal Domestic Disturbance on Polk 46 near Shady Grove leading to the arrest of William Dollarhyde, 25 of Mena on charges of Obstructing Governmental Operations.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of Fraud resulting in losses of approximately $54,500.

Deputies responded to a report of a Stolen Vehicle from a business near Hatfield.

Deputies were dispatched to a physical altercation on Polk 168 near Hatfield leading to the arrest of Tommy Sevier, Jr., 41 on charges of Domestic Battery 3rd Degree, Battery 3rd Degree, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Driving on a Suspended DL, and Residential Burglary.

Jamie Crider, 32 of Mena was arrested on four Felony Failure to Appear Warrants and a Warrant for Possession of Schedule I or II Controlled Substance.


September 28, 2021

Deputies were dispatched to the local hospital in reference to an accidental gunshot wound.

Deputies were dispatched to Rex Lane near Potter in reference to a Verbal Dispute.


September 29, 2021

After a traffic stop on Hwy 71 N, near Mena, Justin Keaster, 38 of Mena was arrested on a Body Attachment, a Warrant for 2nd Degree Criminal Mischief and a Warrant for Criminal Trespassing.

Deputies were dispatched for a Welfare Check leading to the arrest of Shawnna Morris, 25 of Mena on charges of Disorderly Conduct and Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.


September 30, 2021

Monica Shores, 36 of Hatfield was arrested on a Body Attachment.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of property damage.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of being threatened.

Carrie Kelton, 50 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Residential Burglary, 2nd Degree Battery and Interfering with Emergency Communications.

Jeralyn Ramzy, 22 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Residential Burglary and 2nd Degree Battery.

Neisha Wikel, 28 of Cove was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.


October 1, 2021

A traffic stop led to the arrest of Shannon House, 54 of Gillham on a charge of Possession of Meth or Cocaine.

Deputies responded to a report of Theft of Property.

Deputies responded to a report of a Disorderly student at a school campus.


October 2, 2021

Roscoe Cline, 57 was arrested on a charge of Public Intoxication.

Larry Joseph, 44 was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of a Controlled Substance.

A traffic stop on W Barton Avenue near Cove led to the arrest of Oscar Ramirez, 50 of Cove on charges of DWI and Driving on a DWI Suspended License.

Deputies responded to a report of an Interference with a custody exchange.


October 3, 2021

Darius Sims, 22 was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Delivery of a Schedule VI Controlled Substance.

Deputies responded to a report of an assault. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant of being threatened.

Deputies responded to a report of a Tresspasser.

Deputies were dispatched to a possible Break-In at a residence on Polk 76 East near Acorn.

Deputies responded to a Physical Domestic Disturbance at a residence on Polk 626 near Dallas Valley. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 36 near Hatfield in reference to a Prowler.

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Nomore Loop Lane near Wickes for a Welfare Check.


Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 2 vehicle accidents this week.


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 21 Incarcerated Inmates, with 6 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.




10-5-21 9:57 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for September 26 - October 2

Mena Police Department reports for the week of September 26th through October 2nd, 2021


September 26


A report of loitering and criminal mischief was taken at the Northside Laundromat.


September 27


Fernando Vecchio, 36, was served with a warrant at the probation office.


Owen Waxler, 34, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) and Driving on Suspended License after a complaint from Walmart.


September 28


Melanie Howard, 48, was served with a warrant after contact at Space Center Storage.


Billy Fletcher, 34, was served with nine warrants at a residence on Andry’s Avenue.


September 29


A death investigation report was taken at a residence on Missouri Avenue.


September 30


Shelly Davis, 50, was charged with DWI and Carless or Prohibited Driving after a traffic stop on Mena Street.


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


Shelly Davis, 50, was served with two warrants at the county jail.


A report of theft of motor fuel was taken from Citgo.


A report of dog running at large was taken


A theft report was taken at a residence on 2nd Street.


October 1


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


Vicky Fussell, 53, was served with a warrant after contact at Walmart.


October 2


A report of criminal mischief was taken at Janssen Park.


Charles Solo, 49, was charged with Refusal to Vacate Upon Notice at a residence on 9th Street.


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


10-4-21 11:28 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Firewood permits available on Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Sep. 30, 2021 — Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests officials are encouraging homeowners and others in need of firewood for the winter season to contact their local ranger district offices to apply for and purchase a firewood permit.


Many offices remain closed to the public and issue permits by appointment only. Contact the nearest ranger district office for more information.


Firewood permits for personal use are available in many areas of the Arkansas and Oklahoma forests. They are sold in cubic feet, but in simple terms, 100 cubic feet is roughly equivalent to three-fourths of a cord of wood. A cord is made up of tightly stacked wood measuring 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long. The permit fee allows an individual or a family to cut and remove approximately three or four cords of firewood, depending on the national forest. Permits are for specific areas identified by local Ranger Districts and are issued in limited numbers based on availability and accessibility.


In an effort to stop the spread of invasive species, such as the emerald ash borer and the imported fire ant, permit holders in Arkansas and Oklahoma must abide by their respective state’s regulations. The Arkansas State Plant Board advises that firewood should be bought and used locally to prevent the spread of pests. Additionally, the Oklahoma Forestry Services strongly advises that in general, no firewood should be brought from out of state into Oklahoma, nor should residents of Oklahoma move firewood more than 50 miles from its source within the state.


For more information about firewood rules, regulations, recommendations, and pests of concern, visit https://www.dontmovefirewood.org/.


Ozark-St. Francis National Forests





Ranger District Office & Address


Firewood Permit Information

Clarksville, AR

Pleasant Hill Ranger District

2591 Hwy 21 North



Call for information

Hector, AR

Big Piney Ranger District – South

12000 SR 27



Call for information

Jasper, AR

Big Piney Ranger District – North

Hwy 7 North



Call for information

Marianna, AR

St. Francis National Forest

2675 Hwy 44



Beginning Oct 7. Call for information

Mountain View, AR

Sylamore Ranger District

1001 E Main



Beginning Oct 7. Call for information

Ozark, AR

Boston Mountain Ranger District

1803 N 18th Street



Call for information

Paris, AR

Mt. Magazine Ranger District

3001 E Walnut



Beginning Oct. 11. Call for information





Ouachita National Forest





Ranger District Office & Address


Firewood Permit Information

Booneville, AR

Poteau-Cold Springs Ranger District

2190 E Main St


No firewood permits available

Hochatown, OK, Hodgen, OK or Broken Bow, OK

Oklahoma Ranger District

111 S. State Hwy 259-A


Call for information

Jessieville/Perryville,  AR

Jessieville-Winona-Fourche Ranger District

8607 N Hwy 7



Call for information

Mena, AR

Mena-Oden Ranger District

1603 Hwy 71 North



Call for information

Mt. Ida, AR

Caddo-Womble Ranger District

1523 Hwy 270 E.



Call for information

Waldron, AR

Poteau-Cold Springs Ranger District

Hwy 71 South


No firewood permits available



10-3-21 5:05 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Grant Awarded to QOL

The Quality of Life, Inc. was recently awarded a grant from the Division of Arkansas Heritage (DAH). DAH was created to preserve and promote Arkansas’s natural and cultural heritage. With the grant funds, QOL is currently hosting an exhibit in the Ouachita Center on the campus of UA Rich Mountain of Brian Abbott’s nature photography, which he describes as “inspiring images of God’s wonderful creation.” Most of his collection features sites from the Ozark mountains of Northern Arkansas / Southern Missouri and from the Ouachita Mountains.


For more information about Quality of Life, Inc., Arkansas Heritage, or UA Rich Mountain, please visit: http://qoloutreach.org, https://www.arkansasheritage.com/about-us, https://www.uarichmountain.edu. UA Rich Mountain’s mission is to continue to provide transformative education to all learners.

Pictured [L-R]: Brittany Quinn, QOL member; Bethany Hughes, QOL President; Brian Abbott, photographer; LeAnn Dilbeck, UARM’s Director of Marketing and Community Relations; Brenda Miner, UARM’s Director of Library Services and QOL member.


10-3-21 4:56 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Taking Arkansas's Computer Science Education Initiative to the Nation

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Taking Arkansas’s Computer Science Education Initiative to the Nation
LITTLE ROCK – I became chair of the National Governors Association in July, and today I’d like to talk about this as an opportunity for Arkansas to inspire other states with our focus on computer science education.
Each chair of the NGA is allowed to launch a Chairman’s Initiative. Today at the National Press Club in Washington, I announced that during my year as Chair, I will showcase Arkansas’s successful computer science education initiative as a model for others.
NGA’s tradition of bringing governors together dates back to 1908 when President Teddy Roosevelt invited governors to Washington to discuss conservation issues.
President Roosevelt knew that to improve conservation practices in the United States, he needed the support of the governors. In the same fashion, Arkansas has the chance to increase our leadership role in computer science education.
As we emerge from the pandemic, governors are concerned about the shortage of employees. This was the perfect opportunity to share with others what we have learned about strengthening the workforce with a robust computer science education foundation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2029, the number of computer science and information technology jobs will grow by 11 percent. Computing occupations are currently the top source of new wages in the United States. A computer science major can earn up to 40 percent more than the average college graduate.
There are over 410,000 open computing jobs nationwide, and there aren’t enough qualified people to fill the jobs. The global competition for talent is intensifying, which is why it is so important for the United States to step up computer science education. If Arkansas companies can’t fill their openings with homegrown talent, they will recruit elsewhere. The story is the same nationally.
Computer science courses are mandatory for students in 44 countries, but in the United States, only 47 percent of high schools offer computer science. Only three states require all students take at least one computer science class in order to graduate.
In Arkansas, we were the first state to require all schools to offer at least one class, and we are one of the three states that requires a computer science credit to graduate.
The education of computer science reaches beyond coding. Young people who take computer science perform better on AP calculus exams than students without computer science. Even as early as elementary school, students who study computer science outperform their peers in reading and writing. Digital literacy is the foundation our nation needs to succeed in the high-tech economy of the 21st-century in everything from logistics to farming to national security.
In Arkansas, we have been increasing the options for a high-tech education, and now, thanks to Teddy Roosevelt’s vision to gather governors, we have the opportunity to tell our story to the rest of the nation.
10-1-21 5:17 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. That equates to more than 10 million women and men.


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Communities and advocacy organizations across the country connect with the public and one another throughout the month to raise awareness about the signs of abuse and ways to stop it.


We want to take this time to remind you about the new laws passed this year in an effort to prevent abuse and protect victims.


ACT 800 creates the Arkansas Phoenix Act of 2021, which amends the statute of limitations for offenses involving domestic violence and provides for training to be given to law enforcement officers on additional topics that arise in which domestic violence is suspected.


Act 1068 provides that a court may enter an order enjoining a party from engaging in course of control. The act defines course of control as a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with the free will and personal liberty of a person. 


ACT 980 creates a mechanism to protect the address information of victims of domestic violence on all voter registration materials.


Act 913 provides that if a person requests from the Department of Finance and Administration the residence address of a driver's license holder who participates in the address confidentiality program due to domestic violence, the department shall provide the information only if the person presents a current court order finding a compelling reason and the person has not been convicted of domestic violence against who the order of protection has been entered.


No person should be subjected to the fear, shame, and humiliation that an abusive relationship produces. And leaving those relationships is not easy.


If you are someone you know is impacted by domestic violence, visit www.laurascard.ar.gov today to find resources near you.


10-1-21 5:15 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Bad Border Policies are Driving the Fentanyl Crisis


Drug overdose deaths increased by nearly 30 percent nationwide last year. Recent data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show this record high was fueled by the pandemic and the rise of fentanyl abuse. In Arkansas, fentanyl has surpassed methamphetamine as the leading cause of overdose deaths.


Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid most commonly found in counterfeit pills. Just days ago the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued its first safety alert in six years warning about the “alarming” increase in fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl and methamphetamine.


The agency has seized more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills this year. If that rate continues there will be more counterfeit pills confiscated in 2021 than in the previous three years combined.


The stories of overdose victims, and the heartache of families affected by their loved ones’ addiction and overdose experiences, have impacted us all. There is no part of our country left untouched by illicit fentanyl. It has the same devastating consequences in urban and rural areas.


Natural State law enforcement officers are working to keep drugs off the streets in order to prevent fatal poisoning. In late September, the Springdale Police Department made an arrest of a drug trafficker and seized thousands of dollars of drugs, including fentanyl, with a potential street value of $52,000.


The Fort Smith region’s drug task force coordinator recently told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that officers have seen an uptick in fentanyl and estimates there have been “10-20 monthly arrests related to fentanyl in the last six months.”


Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane says illicit fentanyl has been identified by the law enforcement and judicial communities as a growing problem. That’s why Arkansas prosecuting attorneys spearheaded efforts to strengthen state laws to hold criminals and drug smugglers accountable. The state legislature approved stricter regulations this year, giving us another tool to ensure the criminals perpetuating this problem are brought to justice and our communities are safer.


Combatting the rise in fentanyl requires more than providing law enforcement the tools and resources to get this drug off the streets. We must form a comprehensive government approach to help those addicted get the treatment they need and also prevent the flow of drugs across our border.


Illicit fentanyl is being funneled into the U.S., in large part, by Mexican cartels that are exploiting the disorder at our southern border and smuggling this deadly substance into our country. Fentanyl seizures along the border have risen dramatically this year. In June, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents confiscated more than 1,000 pounds of it – enough to kill 238 million Americans.


Protecting American lives should be reason enough for President Biden to take immediate steps to secure the border. Unfortunately, his reversal of commonsense border policies has helped contribute to the current crisis. We’ve seen how these failed strategies have overwhelmed Border Patrol agents and small towns along the border with Mexico. It’s clear it also has consequences for the safety of Arkansans.


In order to get serious about the fentanyl emergency, border security must be prioritized and achieved. Preventing illegal border crossings will help decrease the opportunities drug-traffickers have to get their dangerous and deadly drugs onto our streets.


10-1-21 5:10 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column


State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

October 1, 2021

LITTLE ROCK – The legislature reconvened to draw new boundaries for the four Congressional districts in Arkansas, and to consider responses to federal vaccination mandates.


The Senate made very slow progress, because of the long-term importance of the measures and their controversial nature.


When the session began, at least 18 proposed maps of Congressional districts had been introduced. As lawmakers discussed and worked on revisions, numerous other maps were proposed that reflect compromises. Much of the discussion was about whether to split counties into two or more separate Congressional districts, and which counties would be split.


The map of the state’s Congressional districts will reflect how Arkansas is represented in Washington, D.C. for the next 10 years.


The Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor had on its agenda a series of bills affecting the rights of individuals when the federal government or their employers require them to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.


Before the Senate began discussion of the merits of those bills, there was lengthy and heated debate on whether it was even proper to consider them. The dispute centered around language in House Concurrent Resolution 1015, which the legislature adopted in March to authorize an extension of the 2021 session.


An extension was needed because the legislature could not draw Congressional district maps during the regular session, which took place from January through April. That’s because the U.S. Census Bureau hadn’t released population data yet.


Rather than adjourn last spring, we adopted HCR 1015 allowing us to return to the Capitol this fall, after the census data was finally ready, to draw new Congressional district maps.


HCR 1015 also allows the legislature to consider “legislation related to the COVID-19 public health emergency and distribution of COVID-19 relief funds.”


The Senate was almost evenly divided over the extent that HCR 1015 allowed the introduction of measures that address our response to the pandemic, but are not specifically related to relief funds.


The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate, and he ruled that HCR 1015 allowed the introduction of the Senate bills in question. The lieutenant governor took into account a precedent set in a state Supreme Court ruling from a similar dispute that occurred when the legislature went into extended recess in 1979.


To novices the debate may have looked like a tempest in a teapot, because so much was about procedure. However, senators took it very seriously because the long-term implications are so important.


One outcome is that the legislature will decide the extent to which Arkansas will resist federal vaccination mandates.


Another outcome of this session is that the legislature will decide how much it intends to test the limits of its constitutional power, in relation to the judicial and the executive branches of state government.


After the legislature has adjourned the extended session, the governor is expected to call a special session to consider reductions in the state income tax.


10-1-21 5:07 p.m. KAWX.ORG