KAWX News Archives for 2022-04

US Representative Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

Americans Deserve a Healthy Future

When my eldest son was born, he suffered from a life-threatening respiratory disease that would not respond to traditional treatments. His doctors offered us the option of an experimental treatment that was not covered by insurance. For my wife and I, it didn’t matter how much it cost. We would make sure our son got better and figure out how to pay for it later. Thankfully, the treatment was successful, and my son is now 26 years old. I am so grateful for the American ingenuity that allowed such life-saving treatments to be developed in time to save my son’s life.


Years later, I found myself at the center of a health care crisis once again. I served in the Arkansas State Legislature during Medicaid Expansion, and, after that, on the House Budget Committee during the failed repeal of Obamacare. These experiences showed me firsthand the consequences of poorly structured health care policy. Health care drastically affects each of our lives, and I am passionate about ensuring Americans can affordably access the lifesaving treatments they need.


That’s why I’m so proud that Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy recently launched the Healthy Future Task Force to develop an advanced health care agenda for America. I specifically joined the Treatments Subcommittee to help develop policy to lower drug costs, fast track the innovation of medicines, devices, and diagnostics, and promote American made medicines.


The U.S. is a global leader in innovation. Patients benefit the most when they quickly access new treatments without onerous and unnecessary government interference. Unfortunately, it can take years for government-insured patients on Medicare, Medicaid, or in the VA health system to gain access to new, breakthrough treatments and devices after FDA approval. Privately insured patients, however, generally have access to these treatments much earlier.  For some on the left, the answer is always more money, but more money won’t solve the problem of slow government bureaucracy. Instead, the government should be removing barriers to access and burdensome regulations that prevent innovative therapies from coming to market


New treatments won’t mean anything, however, if we don’t secure our nation’s medical supply chains. The COVID-19 pandemic made clear we are far too dependent on our greatest strategic competitors. We never should have become reliant on China and other strategic adversaries for the majority of our nation’s personal protective equipment (PPE), pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. America can and should continue to be the world’s leader in medical innovation and advanced medical manufacturing, and my colleagues and I on the Health Future Task Force are committed to making that a reality.


In the coming year, our subcommittee will address the root problems that plague our health care system. I look forward to presenting common-sense legislation to lower drug costs for all Americans, secure domestic medical supply chains, unleash American manufacturing and production, and supercharge American leadership in medical innovation, cures, and treatments. 


4-30-22 4:34 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Teachers are the heart of our educational system. They inspire hope and instill a life-long love of learning.


The week of May 2 is National Teacher Appreciation Week. It’s a perfect time to show our appreciation to the 41,000 teachers in our state who lend their passion and skills to educate our students.


The commitment and innovation of our teachers have helped lead our schools through one of the most challenging times for education in recent years.


There are many ways Arkansans can show their appreciation such as participating or planning events with your PTA, sending heartfelt cards and messages, or offering discounts at your place of business.


Making sure our teachers feel valued and want to continue the profession are important factors in determining funding for education. The House and Senate Education Committees are currently conducting the Educational Adequacy Study. This study evaluates the entire spectrum of public education to determine whether students receive equal opportunity for an adequate education. Members spend a great deal of time reviewing teacher salaries and recruitment as part of the study.


In 2019, the General Assembly passed legislation increasing the minimum pay for teachers. In the most recent Regular Session, we passed Act 680 which seeks to raise the average salary by creating the Teacher Salary Equalization Fund. The bill outlines a statewide target average salary of $51,822 for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years. This bill would direct the Department of Education to disperse money from the Equalization Fund to districts whose average teacher salary falls below $51,822.


The General Assembly is also consistently reviewing ways to recruit more qualified teachers. In the 2021 Regular Session we passed ACT 646 which provides that by August 1, 2022, each public school district and open enrollment public charter school in the state shall prepare a three-year teacher and administrator recruitment and retention plan. The act provides that the Department of Education shall set goals for increasing the number of teachers and administrators of minority races and ethnicities in this state.


We will continue to explore ways to recruit and retain teachers in the months ahead. Meanwhile, let’s all take a moment this week to let our teachers know how valuable their work has been in our communities.


4-30-22 4:30 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: The Importance of Free Speech
The freedom of speech is one of the bedrock principles upon which our country was founded. The purchase of Twitter by the world’s richest man this week has reignited the discussion surrounding free speech, and I’d like to share my thoughts on the importance of this freedom.
Social media censorship has been a concern of many Americans for years. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter are privately owned companies that set their own rules for the service they provide, the concern over the spread of misinformation and disinformation on these sites is one shared by millions of Americans.
There is equal concern over how these private companies censor or ban certain speech, and the argument is that the platforms are, in essence, the public square where speech should not be limited.
These worries have led some elected leaders to call for increased censorship, while others have called for a hands-off approach.
Throughout our nation’s history, especially in times of war and turmoil, Americans have spilled a lot of ink about what speech, if any, should be limited by the government. The government plays a necessary role in ensuring public safety and protecting its citizens from violence. In other words, no one should be allowed to shout “fire” in a crowded theater.
Since the advent of the internet and social media, bad actors, such as violent terrorists who wish to harm us, have used these platforms to stir up unrest and recruit others to join their causes to harm others. This has been seen throughout the world, especially since the September 11th attack on the United States. In the wake of these horrific events, organizations like al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban have used the internet and recruited and radicalized citizens around the world to commit acts of terrorism in their home countries or join their fight overseas.
These are legitimate threats that can interfere with the government’s commitment to ensure domestic tranquility and to provide for the common defense. It is important for these social media platforms to assure they do not cross the line into advocating violence.
But there is a difference between citizens engaging in speech directly intended to cause violence that is illegal and those engaging in speech we may not agree with.
In his dissent in the 1929 case of U.S. v. Schwimmer, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted, “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”
The American Ideal calls for us to live in a nation where we can agree to disagree with our neighbors, have robust debate, and still live peaceably. The Bill of Rights identifies rights that the government may not infringe; it prohibits government from interfering with these rights that are essential to our freedoms, the rule of law, and our democracy.
I often see negative and hateful comments on social media. But despite this negativity, I am grateful to live in a nation where the rights of those who disagree can voice their opinions freely and without persecution. Whenever I check my Twitter account, I’ll be appreciative of the protection of freedoms we’re blessed to experience in this country.
4-29-22 5:02 p.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Arkansas’s Example for Workforce Development Success


During the in-state work period I had the opportunity to travel across the state and meet with hardworking Arkansans, small business owners and local leaders. No matter where I was, the topics of concern were the same: border security, skyrocketing inflation, high cost of energy and labor shortages. These economic challenges gripping the nation are impacting families, businesses and communities and we’re all making adjustments.


Small businesses are increasingly facing staffing shortages. According to a recent report by the National Federation of Independent Business, vacancies are most prevalent in the transportation, construction and manufacturing industries where many of the positions require specialized training and skills.


The good news is Arkansas has already created a strong foundation to produce a pipeline of skilled laborers. It’s happening all over the state. Manufacturers are partnering with local schools to promote the trade skills required among businesses in the area and customizing training to meet those needs.


In El Dorado, I toured the Charles A. Hays Manufacturing Center at South Arkansas Community College and saw the instructional tools used to provide students with the training they need for successful employment in the region. Well-paying jobs are available. Employers are anxious to hire. Learning skills to seamlessly transition from the classroom to career is mutually beneficial.


This is the model for success to attract and train the next generation of skilled laborers. It’s just one example of the collaboration between the business and education communities in Arkansas. Similar partnerships exist all across the state.


The Peak Innovation Center in Fort Smith connects high schools students with training and technology so those who join the workforce after graduation are qualified to fill these in-demand jobs. It also provides specialty training and classes for credit toward advanced degrees. In addition, the city recently celebrated the opening of the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Center for Economic Development as another place where community members can hone their skills and explore new careers.


In Russellville, the Arkansas/Oklahoma Carpenters Training Center is helping close the existing gap in carpentry and machinery careers. The training that will be offered at this new location aims to promote hands-on experience with the tools and equipment common on modern jobsites for successful careers in construction.


The statewide Be Pro, Be Proud initiative, a mobile center offering young Arkansans the ability to explore their interests and how they correspond with technical-skilled careers has been successful in opening doors to well-paying careers.


I’m proud to support workforce development initiatives like these. Rather than focusing on the labor shortage at hand, the Biden administration has remained inflexible and continues to pursue policies like canceling student loan debt that will only serve to increase the burden of inflation and do nothing to prepare the next generation workforce our communities need right now.


Thankfully, in Arkansas we have leaders who have already been creating workforce development opportunities for skilled labor. I will continue to push for solutions to help spur economic growth and development so Arkansas families have the tools and skills for success and job creators find the employees right here in their backyard to meet their demand and lay the groundwork for future growth.


4-29-22 4:57 p.m. KAWX.ORG


Matilda Ticket Sales Underway

Ouachita Little Theatre Director Jessica Kropp tells us “The cast and crew for “Matilda the Musical” are talented and dedicated. The show is energetic and sincere. You won’t want to miss this classic story brought to life!”

Showtimes are May 13 (7:30 PM), 14th (2:30 PM), 15th (2:30 PM), May 20th (7:30 PM) 21st (7:30 PM) and 22nd (2:30 PM.) Reserved seats are available online at OLTMENA.COM or at the office Thursdays and Fridays 2-6 PM and Saturdays, 10 AM- 2 PM, and also at the door. Adult prices are $15, children and senior citizens $10.


OLT News

The annual Membership Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 11 at 5:00 PM at the theater. The public is invited. It will follow the monthly board meeting at 4:00 PM. Officers and Board members will be elected at the membership meeting as well as a vote concerning amendments to the constitution. OLT patrons and supporters are encouraged to attend.


Candidates for officers include the following: Alex Night (president) Brad Storey (vice president) Judy Kropp (secretary) Bill Hays (Treasurer) and five board positions. Those board nominees include Lamar Austin, Jessica Kropp, Robby Burt, Rudi Timmerman, and Ann Glenn. Nominations for all positions may also be made from the floor during the meeting.


The “Burn the Mortgage Campaign” is making a big push to receive enough donations to finish the project of OLT owning the historic Lyric building. The theater group has collected a little over $20,000 and hopes to collect the final $10,000 needed to pay off the building before the end of May. The 100th anniversary of the Lyric Theatre is in 2023, and the goal for OLT is to own the building before the milestone year begins.


FYI: Ouachita Little Theatre will be phasing out their post office box, so please direct all mail to the physical address at 610 Mena Street beginning immediately.


Suite A, part of the Lyric Building, has undergone a major remodeling and is currently rented by Logan Byrd who is running his technical business from the site.


4-29-22 2:36 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

April 29, 2022


LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Board is one of the smallest and least known state agencies, but it helps thousands of people every year.


Last year the board awarded claims to 1,900 crime victims, 1,335 were victims of sexual assault and 565 were victims other crimes.


When a crime victim applies for financial help, it takes about six months to grant an award. It didn’t used to take as long, but the board’s staff was reduced from seven to five a couple of years ago.


The investigator who verifies sexual assault claims has more than 1,200 pending applications pending. There are 335 claims pending from victims of other crimes, the board told legislators on the Joint Performance Review Committee.


Examples of payments made last year include help with funeral expenses for murder victims, help with medical expenses for women abused by their husbands and help with medical expenses for people injured in car wrecks caused by drunk drivers.


Help paying funeral expenses is the largest category of claims paid out by the board. Almost half of the payouts last year for were for funeral expenses. The board can award up to $7,500 for funeral expenses.


Legislators questioned the second largest category, for forensic exams, which made up almost 36 percent of payouts. While agreeing that victims should not have to pay for forensic exams.


The exams are part of the evidence kit that has to be presented at criminal trials, and legislators questioned whether the payouts should be considered reparations to victims.


If other law enforcement agencies paid for the forensic exams, the board would have more funds to make true reparations to crime victims.


Other questions from lawmakers concerned mental health. The board pays up to $2,500 each for in-patient and out-patient counseling, but according to crime victims who spoke to the committee, the typical six-month delay in awarding claims can be too late for victims who need immediate mental health services.


The board also makes payments to victims who lose income because they cannot work. In homicide cases the board can help pay for cleaning up the crime scene. Also in homicide cases, the board can make payouts to dependents of murder victims for loss of financial support.


Claims are not awarded for attorneys’ fees, pain and suffering or property damage.


The board is a payer of last resort, and is not a substitute for federally subsidized health programs like Medicaid or Medicare.


The total amount in claims paid last year was close to $1.6 million. Next year the board will have about $2.5 million to pay claims, because its members asked the legislature for a steady source of revenue and it receive $2.3 million in general revenue.


The board also gets revenue from court costs and restitution paid by convicted offenders, but those sources of money are not steady. Restitution usually brings in from $85,000 to $90,000 a year, and revenue from court costs have declined over the past several years.


The board gets federal grants, and the governor and the attorney general have allocated money from special funds.


4-29-22 10:16 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

May 5 Open House To Discuss Proposed Mena Trails Project

A community open house is scheduled in Mena from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 5. The open house, hosted by Arkansas State Parks, the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation, and the City of Mena, will be held at the Historic DeQueen Street Armory at 601 DeQueen Street in Mena.   The purpose of the meeting is to present initial concepts for a trail-focused recreation development project spanning Arkansas State Parks, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and City of Mena managed lands. A brief welcome and overview will take place at 6 p.m., followed by time for open discussion, questions and public input. Handouts and maps of the project area will be made available, and the overall process to plan and consider future trail development will be explained.   The project is in the concept phase, and the following vision statement has been developed to guide the project: To create a unique and inspiring visitor experience with a focus on gravity-fed and backcountry trails that allows for the realization of a higher potential for outdoor recreation, economic vitality, and quality of life by capitalizing on the terrain and relationships between local, state, and federal partners.”   As a part of this project, connections to the City of Mena that support recreational access and economic development will also be explored. The public is invited to further explore this vision, identify community connections and provide their thoughts on this opportunity.   Due to portions of the project being located on federally managed lands, there would be a forthcoming environmental review under the direction of the USDA Forest Service prior to implementation. The current trail study is being funded through a grant to the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation from the Walton Family Foundation.   Representatives of each of the host organizations will be available following the welcome and overview to answer questions about the project, provide media interviews and explain how interested individuals and organizations can participate in this process. Interview availability for media will take place at 6:30 p.m.


4-26-22 2:20 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

From online homework assignments to scheduling telehealth visits, we live in a digital world where high-speed access is no longer a luxury. Unfortunately, too many households across Arkansas are still unable to access high-quality broadband internet.


According to a report released this week, Arkansas currently has 110,000 households that are underserved when it comes to broadband access.


Underserved households are those with less than 100+ Mbps access.


In October of last year, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved a contract with the Broadband Development Group to create a master plan for broadband development. The group released its report this week.


The group hosted or attended more than 300 community meetings in all 75 counties and received more than 18,000 surveys from residents in every county across the state. Several Arkansas legislators participated in these meetings to ensure a variety of voices were heard during the community fact-finding portion of our research. They also consulted with nearly 30 broadband providers to learn more about their perspectives.


The report not only assesses current broadband availability, but also maps out where the broadband gap exists in the state, calculates the budget needed to bridge the gap, and makes recommendations for improvements to the Arkansas Rural Connect grant program.


The report found that significant progress has already been made by utilizing state and federal programs in recent years to create coverage for about 100,000 households. 


The remaining 110,000 households are not currently addressed by any identified programs at any level. It estimates the cost of covering these households at about $500 million. The report recommends using funds through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) grants to close the current gaps.


The General Assembly is currently reviewing the recommendations. You can find the full report at www.arkansashouse.org.


4-25-22 7:06 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Log for April 18th - 24th



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of April 18, 2022 – April 24, 2022. The charges against those arrested are allegations and the cases are still pending in the courts. Individuals charged and whose names appear in this column may submit documentation to us at a later date that the charges have been dismissed or that they have been found innocent and we will include that information in this space in a timely manner.


April 18, 2022

Richard Ducote, 46 of Mena was arrested by an officer with Probation Parole on a Body Attachment.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to a theft.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 44 near Mena in reference to a violation of an order of protection.


April 19, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 178 near Acorn in reference to a theft.

Kimberly Williams, 35 of Royal was arrested on a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant.


April 20, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to an MVA leading to the arrest of Brittney Whitworth, 33 of Benton on charges of DWI and Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test.

Robert Wallis, 41 of Cove was arrested on a warrant for Criminal Trespass and Criminal Mischief 1st Degree.


April 21, 2022

Trae Clouse, 30 of Mena was arrested by an officer with Probation Parole on a Felony Warrant for Probation Violation.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to a stolen firearm.


April 22, 2022

Tommy Black, 48 of Boles was arrested on a Felony Probation Violation Warrant.


April 23, 2022

Heather Hilderbrand was issued a citation for Interference with Emergency Communications after an incident in the jail.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 24 near Cove in reference to a disturbance. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.


April 24, 2022

No reports filed.


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


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 19 Incarcerated Inmates, with 12 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.



4-25-22 8:20 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for April 17th - 23rd

Mena Police Department reports for the week of April 17th through April 23rd, 2022


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



April 17

Andrew Stewart, 21, was charged with DWI 2, Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test, and Driving on Suspended License after contact on Highway 71.


A theft report was taken from Walmart.


A theft report was taken from Walmart.


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


April 18

An harassment report was taken from a person at Walmart.


Alivia Harper, 18, was charged with Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop on Mena Street.


April 19

Stephen Corney, 33, was charged with Driving on Suspended and No Liability Insurance after a traffic stop on Highway 71


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


April 20

Tyler Cornelius, 28, was charged with Battery after a disturbance call to a residence on Church Street.


Daryl Ray, 38, was charged with Disorderly Conduct after a disturbance call to the Northside Shopping Center.


April 21

Joshua McLellan, 49, was charged with Disorderly Conduct and Criminal Mischief after a disturbance call on Church Street.


Daryl Ray, was charged with Disorderly Conduct, Criminal Trespass and Fleeing after a disturbance call to Northside Laundromat.


April 22

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


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


A report of disorderly conduct was taken at a residence on Lisa Way.


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


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


April 23

Shawn Long, 45, and Rebekah Stanley, 38, were both served with a warrant at Executive Inn.


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


A report of theft was taken at a residence on Rogers Avenue.


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


4-25-22 10:14 a.m. KAWX.ORG


Polk County Detention Center inmates.

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

This week we celebrate Earth Day, where we recognize the need to protect our environment as good stewards of the Earth. “Environment” should not be a dirty word to conservatives. Republican President Teddy Roosevelt became the father of conservation by creating the National Park Service and setting aside 230 million acres of public lands for the nation to protect and enjoy. The Republican party was the first to champion conservation to benefit our communities, and we continue to do so today. It is a fallacy to assert, as too many environmental activists do, that we must choose either the health of our environment or the success of our economy. It is counterproductive to bankrupt ourselves through Green New Deal programs when our nation continually develops innovative technologies to produce energy and products cleaner and more efficiently than any other nation. The bottom line is: we can have both a clean environment and a booming economy.


I am working to advance shared conservative goals, from backing legislation that bolsters America as a leader in global energy and mineral production, to calling out the Biden Administration for its hypocrisy and detrimental policies, to featuring Arkansas’ leaders offering creative and commonsense solutions that will make our economy and our environment flourish. 


My Republican colleagues and I have introduced a myriad of legislation this year that would steward our resources well and conserve the planet without destroying our economy, including the Trillion Trees Act.  This bill solidifies the United States as a global leader of the One Trillion Trees Initiative to conserve, restore, and grow 1 trillion trees worldwide.  


Republicans also introduced the RENEW WIIN Act to reauthorizes water storage, desalination, recycling, and conservation programs to help provide more water for people and species in times of historic drought and the Resilient Federal Forests Act to provide comprehensive solutions to address the rapidly declining health of American forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires by expediting environmental analyses, reducing frivolous lawsuits, and increasing the pace and scale of critical forest restoration projects. 


We also have introduced the BUILDER Act to modernize the outdated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to make infrastructure project reviews more efficient, reduce project costs, spur economic recovery, and rebuild America all without sacrificing environmental protection, and the No Timber from Tyrants Act to prohibit imports of forest products from Russia and Belarus while ramping up responsible harvesting of American timber to create new jobs, produce more sustainable wood products, and make U.S. federal lands more resilient to catastrophic wildfires.


Our work has only just begun. Through science-based legislation, Republicans are re-claiming our rich heritage of conservation. Together, we will leave our world better than we found it.


4-23-22 11:01 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Standing Against Hate
LITTLE ROCK – Thirty-seven years ago this week, I put on a bulletproof vest and entered a white-supremacist compound to try to convince the group they were outmanned and outgunned and should surrender.
As I have reflected on that moment as well as the racial tension and civil unrest that have roiled our nation over the past two years, I have thought about the lessons we learn from our history.
The people I confronted on April 21, 1985, were members of the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, known as the CSA, and one of their missions was to take down the United States government. Members of the CSA had sent out teams to assassinate several government officials, including me.
On April 21, 1985, I was the United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, appointed three years earlier by President Ronald Reagan. For two years, my office had monitored the CSA in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Missouri, as well as the FBI and the ATF.
As we developed our strategy to flush out the CSA, we were well aware that the white supremacists had stockpiled high-powered weapons and weren’t afraid to shoot law enforcement officers. Just a year earlier, CSA member Richard Snell shot and killed a black Arkansas State Trooper who had stopped him for a traffic violation. His name was Louis Bryant, and he was a true hero.
We anticipated fierce resistance, so we brought over 200 law enforcement officers to the small town of Elijah, Missouri, many of them disguised as anglers in town to fish. I joined several other agents on the negotiating team. We persuaded Jim Ellison, the CSA founder who had purchased the land for the compound, that his best hope was to surrender. After three days of negotiations, all the men laid down their weapons, and the standoff ended without gunfire or bloodshed. That day also marked the end of the CSA. But it wasn’t the death of the dangerously misguided belief that one race is superior to another.
On the anniversary of that tense standoff with the white supremacists of the CSA, I understand there remains much work to be done to close the gaps among Americans of different races, religions, and beliefs.
Ultimately, I am hopeful. Throughout history, people have often expressed their disagreement with violent language, and sometimes it goes further into actual violence, so this is nothing new. But I am optimistic because in America we learn from the mistakes of the past.
Nearly forty years ago, I joined a band of hundreds of good people who linked arms to confront those who believed violence and racial hatred were the answer to their anger. Sometimes I fear we are not moving fast enough toward an America that is truly equal. But we are making progress as long as we listen to each other and care about each other.
There will be more times when we must stand shoulder to shoulder against hate just as those federal and state agents did nearly forty years ago in western Arkansas. But Americans’ bedrock belief that all men are created equal echoes in our founding documents and rises from our hearts as we continually travel toward that more perfect union.
4-22-22 5:22 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Ensuring Federal Agencies are Accessible, Accountable to Arkansans


As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’ve delivered improvements to benefits and services for Arkansas veterans. Crafting policies and approving legislation is one way to fulfill the promise made to the men and women who served in our nation’s uniform. Just as importantly is cutting through red tape and breaking down hurdles blocking access to the critical care and services Congress authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide.


The importance of this role was clear during a recent visit to Malvern-based Covenant Health Urgent Care. The clinic aimed to expand urgent care services to eligible veterans, but the staff ran into some barriers to achieving this goal. Delays in the approval process forced the medical center staff to send veterans further away from home to seek care for minor injuries and illnesses. When my team and I heard about the challenges the clinic was experiencing, we stepped in to help speed up the process so it could provide veterans care through the VA’s Community Care Network.


I’m pleased my staff and I were able to help resolve this issue and so many other problems Arkansans experience with federal agencies.


Many U.S. government offices and departments are still struggling with backlogs and policy changes resulting from modifications made in the early days and weeks of the pandemic. Since January, my office has received more than 100 requests for help with veteran’s disability claims, fueled by substantial delays at all levels of that process. We are starting to see improvements with agency employees returning to in-person work, but there’s still a long way to go to ensure veterans receive timely decisions.


My office has also been inundated with requests from Arkansans who are frustrated with significant lags and poor customer service from the IRS. While the agency has pressed for more funding to support additional staff, the solution is to prioritize the needs of taxpayers over other activities like representational work. As a result of feedback from Arkansas taxpayers, I helped introduce the IRS Service Improvement Act, legislation requiring IRS employees to focus on meeting their obligations to customers instead of using their time on the clock for union work.


Other federal agencies have made major improvements. There is finally good news for people hoping to travel internationally this summer. The U.S. Passport Service has overcome the backlog that plagued the agency in 2020 and 2021. Although applications still take longer to process than before the pandemic, Arkansans are getting their passports for vacations, education exchanges and business travel with a little extra lead time.


Constituent service is an important oversight function of Congress. By assisting Arkansans with these federal agencies, I truly understand what is and is not working at the federal level so I can pursue changes to broken systems and help people work through very large bureaucracies. I appreciate knowing what challenges you face and providing information and assistance to help make these complicated processes less cumbersome.


My office has been recognized for our commitment to serving Arkansans. As the Congressional Management Foundation’s inaugural Democracy Award  for Constituent Service winner, we were thrilled to claim the title of “the best public servant” for our constituents. I look forward to continuing to serve Arkansans and helping overcome the roadblocks to federal services. Let my staff and I help you.


4-22-22 5:20 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

April 22, 2022


LITTLE ROCK – A six-month survey of Internet access in Arkansas has been completed, and state officials now have a more accurate roadmap of which regions need more investment in broadband technologies.


They also have a clearer idea of how much that investment will cost. With up to $350 million, broadband can be provided to about 100,000 households. Then it gets even more expensive. To provide Internet capability to the last 10,000 isolated homes in Arkansas will cost about $200 million.


There are 1.7 million households in Arkansas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A total of about 210,000 households lack adequate broadband access, according to the statewide broadband study that was released recently.


Of those 210,000 households lacking broadband, about 100,000 are eligible for existing state and federal programs and the remaining 110,000 households are in areas where no government program exists. Those are the households for which it will cost about $550 million to connect them to high-speed Internet.


The standard of high speed broadband capacity steadily goes up. The statewide study set it at 100/20 megabits per second. The first number refers to download speed and the second number to upload speed.


In the early days of the Internet, still images and text made up the majority of content on web sites, and the data that consumers uploaded and downloaded.


Now, consumers expect to listen to audio, such as podcasts that can last more than 10 minutes. They expect to watch videos, and send them to friends, family and business associates.


Consumer expectations have helped drive a remarkable growth in broadband capacity. For the past 30 years it has averaged growth of more than 50 percent a year.


The exponential growth in capacity is expected to continue, so the state study recommends that providers be required to “future proof” all new networks they install. That means they should be required to install technology that is proven to be able to handle demands of tomorrow. Fiber optic cable is an example.


The study recognizes that the monthly price paid by consumers is a factor that can cause an area to be lacking in service. In other words, if the government pays a provider to install a system that nobody can afford, that provider has not served the area with high speed Internet.


The study recommends $50 a month per household, or less, as the standard for describing broadband as affordable.


The consulting firm that did the study, Broadband Development Group, held more than 300 community meetings and surveyed more than 18,000 Arkansas residents.


The firm worked with 29 broadband providers and electric co-ops, and with the Farm Bureau, the Municipal League, the state Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Arkansas Counties, the Arkansas State Library Association and the Arkansas Sheriffs Association.


The state Education Department, Transportation Department, State Police, UAMS, the Economic Development Commission, Arkansas PBS and the Division of Agriculture helped.


The Covid-19 pandemic provided a huge impetus for the project, because so many students and employees had to work from home. Federal covid relief funds have been essential for much of investment in broadband that the state has made over the past three years. Since July of 2019 the state Broadband Office has distributed $386 million in grants to local communities.


4-22-22 9:50 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Fatal Accident on Polk County Road

A one vehicle accident on Polk County Road 26 just east of the Oklahoma state line claimed the life of 21 year old Jessica J. Mann, a Cove resident. According to the Arkansas State Police accident report, Mann was westbound in a 2004 GMC Envoy around 8:25 p.m. Tuesday when it left the road, struck a tree, and came to a stop back in the road facing north.


Mann was pronounced dead at the scene by Polk county Coroner Garrett Lundberg.


A passenger in the car, 27 year old Andy Arce of De Queen, was transported to Mena Regional Medical Center  hospital by a private party.

The fatality was the 149th in Arkansas this year.
Investigating the accident was Trooper Seth K. Smedley of the Arkansas State Police.
4-21-22 KAWX.ORG

UARM Tourism Conference May 17


UA Rich Mountain has announced that it will be hosting a tourism conference May 17 in the Ouachita Center.


Noting the rapidly increasing local tourism industry, Director of Marketing, Public Relations and Business Outreach LeAnn Dilbeck said that the conference was designed specificially to


1.) bring all of the tourism stakeholders, both private and public, together to network;


2.) increase awareness of various entities and services that can bring added exposure to help grow their business;


3.) to educate the community, as a whole, of multiple large tourism developments/events in the local area over the next couple of years.


“Mena is poised to see phenomenal growth in the tourism industry in the coming months and it is important that the community be well informed and have working relationships with each other to fully capitalize on upcoming opportunities as well as establish a foundation that will allow us to maintain a thriving tourism industry,” Dilbeck added. “As a college, we want to support that growth and be a resource to our community.”


This conference will be ideal for anyone with short term rentals through Air BnB, VRBO, cabin owners, restaurants, traditional B and B’s, or any retail/service business. “Anyone interested in the growth of the local community can benefit from the content shared in this conference. “We will have local, regional, and state speakers presenting,” said Dilbeck.


The event is $25/person and open to the community. It will begin at 9 am and conclude by 3 pm. Participants will need to register by May 12. Register by calling 479.394.7622 ext. 1220 or by emailing ldilbeck@uarichmountain.edu.


UA Rich Mountain’s mission is to provide transformative education to all learners.


4-20-22 1:14 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Log for April 11TH - 17TH



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of April 11, 2022 – April 17, 2022. The charges against those arrested are allegations and the cases are still pending in the courts. Individuals charged and whose names appear in this column may submit documentation to us at a later date that the charges have been dismissed or that they have been found innocent and we will include that information in this space in a timely manner.


April 11, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of a missing person from a residence on Polk 646 near Mena. The person was located.


April 12, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 70 near Cherry Hill in reference to a domestic disturbance. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.


April 13, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to an MVA on Highway 246 near Hatfield leading to the arrest of Jessica Mann, 21 of Ashdown by an officer with the Arkansas State Police on charges of DWI, Driving on a Suspended DL and Open Container.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 87 near Ink in reference to a disturbance. This led to the arrest of Shawnna Morris, 25 of Mena on charges of Public Intoxication, Disorderly Conduct and Endangering the Welfare of a Minor 2nd Degree.


April 14, 2022

Officers responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to Forgery.


April 15, 2022

Officers were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 4 near Cove in reference to an altercation.


April 16, 2022

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to possible child abuse.


April 17, 2022

Officers responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to a report of a violation of a no contact order.


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


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 23 Incarcerated Inmates, with 12 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.



4-20-22 12:41 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena School Board Meeting Recap

The Mena Public Schools Board Meeting for the month of April was held on Tuesday, April 19th at the Administration Building.


 The meeting began with a presentation by Mena Middle School students Allison Howard and Bre Crider. They are both a part of the Girls of Promise at MMS and were accompanied by their sponsor Mrs. Tiffany Luttmer. They spoke on their recent experience at the annual Girls of Promise Conference at the Arkansas 4-H Center! Eighth grade girls from 46 schools across the state of Arkansas attended. The girls met some amazing women who work in STEAM fields and enjoyed fun  activities.


Dr. Lee Smith continued with his superintendent’s report and stated that he expects to suggest a $1200.00 raise in base pay for all certified personnel plus a 2% to 3% increase for classified personnel. After a few final details are completed those raises should be ready for the board to ratify at the May meeting. 


Smith also reported that he had met with the district’s construction manager, C.R. Crawford, about the proposed outdoor pavilions to be built on each campus. With an optimistic goal of having those completed by the beginning of the 2022/2023 school year. They also discussed the development of a feasibility study in regards to updates the district would like to make at Holly Harshman Elementary and Mena Middle School as well as a concession building on the visitor’s side at Bearcat Stadium and a multipurpose building.


He then updated the board on turf replacement at Bearcat Stadium. That project is scheduled to begin on May 27th with the paving of the “D” zones to follow.


Smith concluded his report by asking the board to approve the purchase of two mats for the new wrestling program with reimbursement expected through a philanthropic gift to the district. That purchase was approved.


The board next voted to join the Perkins Consortium with the DeQueen Mena Education Service Cooperative. The coop will manage the distribution of funds in the career and technical programs.


Maintenance Supervisor Danny Minton then updated those in attendance on projects that are underway. He stated that the installation of the new central heat and air units is almost complete at Holly Harshman Elementary and Mena Middle School. As well as the ionization machines at LD. Plans for summer projects are now being made including knob and lock replacement at MMS and an extension of the sidewalk on the south end of Bearcat Stadium. Minton concluded by asking the board to approve the purchase of a new Exmark industrial mower from Gilchrist Tractor in Mena for $14,159.25. That was the lowest of three bids and the board approved.


The board then approved the financial reports after Dr. Smith informed them that revenue and expenditures have been normal for this time of year and he expects to finish the year on target.


Finally, in personnel the board accepted the resignation of Randi Brown from the position of Pre-K Paraprofessional. Isaac Minton who taught MMS Health/PE/Jr. Boys Basketball and Abby Grace Minton an Alternative Education Paraprofessional at MMS.


The board approved the restructuring of contracts for MMS Custodian Mitch Milne from 12 months to 9 months. Shanda Craig from HHE Science to a new position as Student Success Planner and Holli Plunkett from LDE Second Grade to MHS Library/Media Specialist.


New hires included Megan Auer to LDE Kindergarten, Anna Schauble and Georgia Weil as HHE Teachers.  


4-20-22 12:36 p.m. KAWX.ORG


Mena Police Report for April 10TH - 16TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of April 10th through April 16th, 2022:


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


April 10


James Ragain, 39, was charged with DWI and No Driver’s License after a traffic stop on Sherwood Avenue.


A death investigation report was taken at a residence on Walker Drive.


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


April 11


Jordan Schmitz, 23, was served with a warrant at the county jail.


A report of endangering the welfare of a Minor was taken at Mena Medical Associates.


A repot of violation of an order of protection was taken from a walk-in complainant.


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


Jaden Fussell, 20, was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana with intent to Deliver, and served with two warrants after a traffic stop on Reeves Avenue.


April 12


Michael White, 56, was charged with Driving on Suspended License after a traffic stop on Bethesda Road.


Gary Smith, 44, was charged with Criminal Trespass at Phillips 66.


Jason Cox, 36, was served with a warrant at the police department.


A report of theft of vehicle, theft of property, and fraudulent use of a credit card was taken at a residence on Dequeen Street.


April 13


No reports.


April 14


A death investigation report was taken at a residence on Highway 71.

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


A report of theft by deception was taken at Fabulous Finds.


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


Bradley Brumfield, 32, was served with six warrants and Cheryl Smith, 32, was served with two warrants, and charged with Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop on 7th Street.


Christopher Chesser, 36, was charged with Domestic Battery and served with a warrant after a disturbance call on Morrow Street.


Rodney Morrison, 36, was charged with Domestic Battery and Battery after a disturbance call to Tapley Park.


April 15


Coby Clickenbeard, 27, was charged with criminal trespass at a residence on Pickering Avenue.


David Fraser, 53, was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Driving on Suspended License, No Liability Insurance, No Vehicle License and served with four warrants after a traffic stop on Pine Avenue.


April 16


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


Kasi Dollarhyde, 39, was served with two warrants after a traffic stop on Highway 71.


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


4-18-22 6:05 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

The month of April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a time to raise awareness and inspire collective action so that every child can lead their best life.


In the 2021 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed Act 920 which created the Blue Ribbon Task Force to End Child Abuse. Child Abuse Hotline operators in Arkansas receive thousands of calls every year. In 2020, more than 5,500 cases were investigated by authorities.


The task force is charged with reviewing child abuse data in the state and the state's options for adopting or revising policies, procedures, programs, and services to assist in identifying and eliminating child abuse. The task force will file a final report with the House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs and the Senate Interim Committee on Children and Youth.


The General Assembly also passed Act 975 which directs the Children Advocacy Centers of Arkansas to review and track reporting from the Department of Human Services relating to the alleged abuse or neglect of a child in order to ensure a consistent and comprehensive approach to providing services to a child and the family of a child who is the victim of alleged abuse or neglect.


In addition, the General Assembly passed Act 556 which makes all full-time and part-time employees of public and private schools mandated reporters of child abuse.


We all can help to prevent abuse by supporting families in our communities. Parents who have support from family, friends, and neighbors are more likely to provide safe and healthy homes for their children.


You can also help prevent further abuse by reporting suspected maltreatment. If you see something that concerns you or just doesn’t look right, we encourage you to say something!


If you need to report child maltreatment, it’s easy. Just call the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-844-SAVE-A-CHILD.


4-16-22 7:57 a.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Celebrating a Buffalo National River Milestone


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Buffalo National River’s designation as our country’s first national river. Enjoying wildlife and the outdoors is a way of life for residents of The Natural State and the Buffalo National River has helped countless Arkansans do just that. As we commemorate National Park Week, we celebrate this milestone and all of Arkansas’s national treasures.


Congress formally afforded the Buffalo River federal protection on March 1, 1972 to preserve its 135 miles of free-flowing river and conserve natural, scenic and scientific features like the deep valleys, towering bluffs, rugged wilderness and beautiful landscapes of the Ozark Mountains. That Act of Congress has helped safeguard one of Arkansas’s most prized gems for five decades.


The federal designation was the result of the leadership and vision of Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, the longtime representative of the 3rd Congressional District. Using his position on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he helped protect the Buffalo River and preserve it as an enduring symbol of natural splendor. 


This incredible attraction welcomes Arkansans and travelers from all over the world to experience our state’s abundant natural riches. From Big Bluff and Hawksbill Crag, to its famous herd of elk, images of the area are instantly recognizable.


The Buffalo National River provides something for everyone. Outdoor enthusiasts come to enjoy the excitement of the river, take in the beauty and serenity of the surrounding wilderness and experience the friendliness Arkansas warmly offers. This unique, natural treasure has also been a steady source of economic growth and a staple of our tourism industry for years. Helping to grow businesses and communities, the Buffalo National River has contributed to the betterment of the state in countless ways.


I am grateful for all the people who have worked over the years to make this national river what it is today and helped maintain it for all Arkansans to enjoy. It is because of these dedicated individuals and organizations that future generations will be able to experience the river’s beauty and inviting atmosphere just as we do today.


In celebration of this historic milestone, an incredible group of park and community workers and volunteers has planned some great events throughout the year and I’m excited to follow along. On behalf of all Arkansans, I congratulate all those, past and present, who have helped conserve and protect this iconic natural resource that has helped define and differentiate Arkansas for the last 50 years and will continue to do so for many more into the future.


We can be proud of the preservation of the scenic and historic beauty in Arkansas. The thermal springs in Hot Springs have attracted folks to the area for generations. In 1832 Congress designated it the first federal reservation before making it a National Park officially in 1921. Today it offers an opportunity to undergo a traditional bath at the two remaining operational bathhouses.


I was proud to support the Senate-passed resolution recognizing National Park Week as April 16-24. This is a time to promote awareness about the unique landscape across the country and remember we’ve been afforded many outlets to connect with nature. As an avid outdoorsman I encourage all Arkansans to explore the lands of our national parks and the waters of our national rivers.


4-16-22 7:53 a.m. KAWX.ORG


Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: After the Storm
LITTLE ROCK – This week, I declared Washington County a disaster area in the wake of an EF3 tornado that damaged more than 350 homes and businesses and demolished the gym at George Elementary in Springdale.
The process that led to the declaration officially began at 5:34 a.m. on March 30th when the director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management notified me a tornado had touched down about 4 a.m.
In the weeks since then, leaders of local and state emergency agencies have joined investigators from FEMA to inspect homes and structures in order to estimate the dollar amount of damage.
The tornado stayed on the ground for eight minutes and cut a strip through Washington County that was as wide as the length of nearly four football fields.
Fewer than ten people were injured, and we were blessed that no one died in this storm.
Within hours of the storm, volunteers from Springdale and nearby communities, members of church-based disaster-relief teams, and representatives from nonprofit agencies appeared to help the county dig out.
In my seven years in office, I have declared too many areas a disaster after they have been flattened by a tornado or washed away by a flood. I have flown over houses without a roof or have been flattened altogether. I have seen automobiles lying upside down far from the place where the wind picked them up. I have seen fields of soybean, corn, and cotton overtaken by the rushing water of historic floods, which also sometimes tear out chunks of the levees that protect towns and farms along our rivers.
My role in these events usually starts the same way, with a telephone call from my Director of Emergency Management.
Sometimes it’s a call from the Corps of Engineers in another state, which notified me on a beautiful spring morning in 2019 that water from Oklahoma soon would engorge the Arkansas River and threaten our state all the way to Little Rock.
While management of the response to a natural disaster is one of the most difficult tasks that falls to a governor, it’s also one of the most rewarding because I witness the best in people that emerges in the worst of times.
I see firsthand the kindness and personal sacrifice of Arkansans who ignore risks to their personal safety to help their neighbors. First responders run to the danger to ensure everyone is out safely. Employees of power companies climb ice-encrusted poles in sub-freezing weather to restore electricity. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals report for duty to back up staff already on the job.
We hold our breath when we hear that severe weather is likely, and when the black, low-hanging clouds blow in as they did again this week, we wonder where the storm will go and how it will end.
We can only guess at what’s about to happen, but we always can be certain of one thing after every calamity. We know that after every single storm, Arkansans will emerge by the hundreds to rescue and comfort the victims and to start rebuilding without regard for their personal inconvenience.
So today, I am expressing thanks to the hundreds of volunteers and the disaster-relief organizations that respond in a crisis. These include the Red Cross and multiple faith-based organizations and churches.
I am also announcing today the allocation of $100,000 in individual assistance that will be available to cover part of the loss to homeowners.
The Small Business Administration will make available low-interest loans to impacted businesses.
One of the many things on my list of bragging rights is the compassion and courage of Arkansans.
4-16-22 7:50 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

I recently led a group of Western Caucus Congressmen on a tour of Arkansas’ Fourth District to show my colleagues the unique relationship the Natural State has with our natural resources and how we manage and use them to our communities’ advantage. The Western Caucus consists of congressmembers from rural and western states who are invested in policies that particularly affect our constituencies. 


On our tour, we visited both private and federal forested lands to discuss the processes and regulations that surround both, as compared to states like California that suffer from devastating wildfires yearly. In other states, proper forest management is impeded by heavy regulation and environmental lawsuits, which in turn cause millions of dollars in destruction, degraded air and water quality, and often, tragic loss of both human life and wildlife. Members were particularly impressed by our uniquely cooperative relationship with the U.S. Forest Service and expressed their desire to adopt the “Arkansas model” however possible in their home states. 


In addition to protecting our lands, proper forest management leads to a prosperous forestry industry; our most renewable resource. With the proper market forces in place, the U.S. has a remarkable capacity to produce large amounts of lumber. That is why I recently introduced the “No Timber from Tyrants Act,” to prohibit the import of wood products from Russia and Belarus, while ramping up production of American timber, creating good, well-paying jobs and encouraging the proper management of U.S. federal lands.


We must fight against Putin's war of aggression however possible, but ending Russian oil imports is just the beginning. We must cut off Russia's economy at the knees.


Russia is the fourth largest exporter of wood in the world. In 2021, the U.S. imported $459 million in wood products from Russia and $52 million from Belarus, giving Russia the power to channel those funds directly into Putin's war. Instead, we should be investing directly into our rural economies. By immediately banning the import of all Russian timber, we can not only deal a harsh blow to tyranny, but we can also simultaneously boost American industries. By cutting-off a major source of revenue from Vladimir Putin and encouraging more robust timber management in the U.S., we can help stop Putin’s war machine, bring economic opportunity to rural America, and better manage our forested lands to eliminate disastrous wildfires in the future. The “No Timber from Tyrants Act” is a potential major victory for America.


I was proud to show members of Congress the incredible work Arkansas has done to manage our natural resources and give them the tools and information to help follow our lead in their own districts. I want to thank everyone in Arkansas who helped me make this educational tour possible. It certainly won’t be the last time the rest of America can learn from Arkansas’ innovative spirit!


4-15-22 5:51 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

April 15, 2022


LITTLE ROCK – At their first meeting scheduled after Easter, lawmakers will hear an update on new rules and new funding that will eliminate a waiting list for services for people with developmental disabilities.


Officials of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services are scheduled to present an update on Medicaid waiver services. They will report to legislators on new waiver slots that over the next three years will be sufficient to add 3,204 clients who have been on the state waiting list.


The waivers allow clients to remain in their homes, rather than live in an institution. Eligible clients have been diagnosed with autism, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder or epilepsy, Down syndrome and Spina bifida. Also on the eligibility list are people diagnosed before the age of 22 with a significant intellectual limitation accompanied by deficits in their adaptive behavior.


Currently, 5,400 children and adults receive Supportive Living services, which brings support staff to their homes and communities.


The program is called the Community and Employment Supports (CES) waiver. It costs about $300 million a year, with the federal government paying 71.62 percent and state government paying 28.38 percent.


Division officials estimate that after three years, when all the new slots are filled, the annual cost of the program will be $442 million.


During the 2022 fiscal session earlier this year, legislators voted to dedicate an additional $37.6 million for the CES waiver program, with the intention of eliminating the current waiting list for services.


Other changes that Division officials will discuss with legislators include using more monitoring systems, such as alarms and sensors, which are appropriate and safe when the person with disabilities is sleeping.


Another change affects the relatives of people with developmental disabilities. Currently, family members who are not legal guardians can be paid as direct care staff, as long as they meet certain requirements. The Division will discuss with legislators the possibility of adding legal guardians and any “legally responsible person” as care providers.


Another change is in response to workforce shortages caused in part by the Covid-19 pandemic. It would increase from four to eight the capacity of group homes.


The changes in rules and waiver programs is on the agenda of the House Children and Youth Permanent Subcommittee of the Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs Committee, which is scheduled to meet on April 18.


Forestry Caucus

A majority of legislators have joined the newly created Forestry Caucus, which will work to pass legislation to expand forestry and promote economic development. The impetus came from legislators representing south Arkansas, the dominant timber-growing area of the state.


In the 2021 session the legislature created the Center for Forest Business at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, within its College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources. Also, the legislature put $841,000 for the center in the state budget for Fiscal Year 2023, which begins on July 1.


In related news, the state Agriculture Department and the university at Monticello are offering scholarships of $4,000 per semester to attract students to the campus’s forestry programs.


4-15-22 5:42 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Winners of Annual UARM Science Fair Announced

The UA Rich Mountain Science Club held its annual Science Fair April 1 in the Ouachita Center. The club was unable to hold the event in 2021 due to covid restrictions and was grateful to return to the event that provides an opportunity for science minded students to create projects and compete for prizes.


The club received approximately 20 entries. Science Department Chair and Science Club Sponsor Dr. Gaumani Gyanwali expressed his gratitude to the community for their continued support. “Before COVID, we had more participants and great momentum growing the event. We are happy to be able to hold the event again and I am hopeful that it spark a renewed interest in our young scientists.”



In the high school/college category, the winners are:


1st Place, receiving a $300 cash prize and trophy – Water Stress Experiment

Participants: Lakelin Ashley, Tyler Shook, Kate Duncan (UARM)

2nd Place and receiving $150 cash prize – Natural Sunlight Versus Sunlight Lamp

Participant: Jennifer Taylor (UARM)

Honorable mention and receiving a $50 Walmart gift card – Ready, Set Fly

Participant: David Castillow (Caddo Hills High School)


In the middle/junior high category, the winners are:


1st Place receiving $200 cash and trophy – Increasing Distance with a Dowel in a Mouse Trap Car

Participants: Eilam Holland and Regan Larucci (ACORN)

2nd place and receiving a $100 cash prize – Effects of Rubbing Alcohol

Participant: Tanzanna Haggard (ACORN)

Honorable mention and receiving a $50 Walmart gift card – Elephant Toothpaste Experiment

Participants: Reily Crabtree and Cadence Onstott (ACORN)

Local community sponsors supporting the event include: Union Bank, Nidec, Walmart, Patrick and Wendy McDaniel, Chris Masters, Samantha Shores, Joanne Coogan, Mena Middle School teachers, and the UARM Science Club who raised money from their periodic table cookie sale in February.


UA Rich Mountain’s mission is to provide transformative education to all learners.


4-13-22 3:59 p.m. KAWX.ORG


Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom

UA Fort Smith (UAFS) recently extended an invitation to sister school UA Rich Mountain’s (UARM) English Composition II (Comp II) students to meet New York Times best-selling author David Grann. Grann is the author of the book – Killers of the Flower Moon, which covers the Osage murders in Oklahoma during the 1920s. The students had just completed studying the book that features one of the FBI’s first major cases under J. Edgar Hoover.


Comp II Instructor Mysti Gates accompanied the students along with Brenda Miner, Director of Library Services, and Dr. Krystal Thrailkill, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. Gates expressed her appreciation to UAFS who made this unique opportunity available to UARM students. “They provided our students with the books and provided dinner for us as well. Students were even able to have their books autographed by Grann,” said Gates.

Thrailkill commended Gates’ efforts and ability to engage students with the literature beyond the written words. Gates’ introductory activity as the class began the book was an escape room based on the subjects discussed in the book. “I used the book as a starting point and reached out to the Osage Nation in Pawhuska for materials relating to their language and culture.” The students expressed appreciation for the opportunity to meet the author and visit the UAFS campus.


UA Rich Mountain’s mission is to provide transformative education to all learners.


4-12-22 4:10 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Log for April 4TH - 10TH



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of April 4, 2022 – April 10, 2022. The charges against those arrested are allegations and the cases are still pending in the courts. Individuals charged and whose names appear in this column may submit documentation to us at a later date that the charges have been dismissed or that they have been found innocent and we will include that information in this space in a timely manner.


April 4, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 482 near Vandervoort in reference to an assault.

Deputies responded to a report of harassment.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 375 E in reference to a disturbance leading to Nathaniel James being issued a citation for Disorderly Conduct.


April 5, 2022

No reports were filed.


April 6, 2022

Kenneth Chaney, 27 of Mena was arrested by an officer with Probation Parole on a Felony Warrant for Theft of Property and a Parole Hold.

Deputies responded to a report of Financial Identity Fraud.

Cody James, 21 of Mena was arrested by an officer with the Drug Task Force on a charge of Possession of Methamphetamine or Cocaine.


April 7, 2022

Donnie Dollarhyde, 48 of Mena was arrested on charges of Maintaining a Drug Premise, Possession of Methamphetamine or Cocaine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Andrea Main, 32 of Hatfield was arrested by an officer with Probation Parole on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance and Violation of Suspended Imposition.

Shane Hogan, 32 of Mena was arrested on charges of Possession of Methamphetamine or Cocaine, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Carrying Certain Prohibited Weapon and a Body Attachment.

Christopher Cox, 38 of Mena was arrested on charges of Maintaining a Drug Premise, Possession of Methamphetamine or Cocaine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.


April 8, 2022

No reports filed.


April 9, 2022

No reports filed.


April 10, 2022

A report of a disturbance at a residence near Hatfield led to the arrest of Earnest Smith, 59 of Hatfield on charges of Disorderly Conduct and Public Intoxication.

Deputies responded to a report of a physical domestic disturbance at a residence on Polk 626 near Mena leading to the arrest of Christopher McMellon, 39 of Mena on charges of Aggravated Assault, Domestic Battery 3rd Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Minor 3rd Degree. Also arrested was Jennifer McMellon, 42 of Mena on charges of Domestic Battery 3rd Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Minor 3rd Degree.


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


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 25 Incarcerated Inmates, with 8 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.



4-12-22 6:57 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena's Ben Shreve to perform at UARM Ouachita Center

Mena’s own Ben Shreve is returning to Polk County on the campus of UA Rich Mountain. A staple entertainer in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Benjamin Del Shreve will be performing “The Sound of the 60s: The Songs That Defined a Generation,” at the Ouachita Center.


Fueled by classic rock and blues rock from the old days yet with a modern twist, Shreve’s performance will bring new life to classic 1960 tunes. Shreve even performed the National Anthem at a Thunder vs. Celtics game. His live shows are said to have ‘endless power and sound.’


Shreve’s live performance is made possible by a grant through the American Library Association’s American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries, an emergency relief program to assist libraries that have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Director of Library Services Brenda Miner is responsible for writing for the competitive $10,000 grant, which is assisting Johnson Learning Commons at UARM in delivering programs and services related to culture, history, literature, and other humanities subjects.


The event is free and open to the community. It begins at 7:00 pm this Saturday, April 16.


UA Rich Mountain’s mission is to provide transformative education to all learners.


4-11-22 10:45 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for April 3RD - 9TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of April 3rd through April 9th, 2022


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



April 3

George Niels, 60, was charged with DWI after contact in the Louise Durham parking lot.


A report of criminal mischief was taken at a residence on Grand View Heights.


A report of a dog bite was taken at a residence on Marion Avenue.


A report of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle was taken at a residence eon 3rd Street.


Bradley Crawford, 27, was charged with Driving on Suspended License, No Insurance, and served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Highway 71.


April 4

Charles Morgan, 44, was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and served with a warrant at Sun Country Inn.


April 5

Alan Phillips, 53, was served with a warrant at the police department.


Windal Loyd, 41, was charged with Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest at Healthy Connections.


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


David Craddock, 54, was served with a warrant at the county jail.


April 6

A report of theft and theft of services was taken at Walmart.


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


April 7

William Hale, 58, was charged with DWI 2, Disorderly Conduct, and Possession of Marijuana after a disturbance call on Mena Street.


April 8

No reports.


April 9

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


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


Brittan McCulley, 41, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Church Avenue.


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


4-11-22 10:42 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Inmates 

Commodity Distribution April 19TH in Mena

Commodities will be distributed Tuesday April 19th at the Polk County Fairgrounds from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. The information for the Commodity Distribution is listed below. ARVAC is still following all safety precautions, therefore this will be a drive through only distribution.


ARVAC, Inc. will issue commodities at Polk County Fair Grounds on Polk Road 43 Mena, AR on Tuesday November 16 , 2021  from 10:00am until 1:00 p.m.


Due to Covid-19 Concerns this will be a drive through only distribution. Listed are the income guidelines, family size and monthly income below:







$ 322


$ 16,744


$ 436


$ 22,646


$ 549


$ 28,548


$ 663


$ 34,450


$ 776


$ 40,352


$ 890


$ 46,254


$ 1,003


$ 52,156




$ 58,058

Each additional family member

+ $114

+ $492

+ $5,902


The above income guidelines are based on 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.


Add $492.00 for each additional family member. You cannot pick up commodities for more than two households. 


Rules for acceptance and participation in the program are the same for everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, or handicap.


For additional information contact Stephanie Garner CEO, ARVAC, Inc. at (479)219-5292 or (479)229-4861.


4-9-22 7:11 a.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

An important deadline is approaching if you plan on voting in the May 24 Preferential Primary Election and Nonpartisan General Election.


If you have not already registered to vote, you have until April 25 to file your voter registration application with your county clerk.


If you submit your application close to an election registration deadline, you are strongly advised to follow up with your county clerk before Election Day.


You can check your voter registration status and find your polling location at www.voterview.org.


On the website, you can also find a list of who will appear on the ballot. If you do not see that information listed by May, call your County Clerk’s office. 


Due to redistricting changes, we encourage you to review your ballot before heading to the polls. The boundaries of voting districts for state legislators shifted to reflect population changes in the 2020 Census. Districts were also renumbered. You may have the same lawmaker listed on your ballot but your House or Senate number may be different than what you’re used to.


Early voting for the primary and nonpartisan general election will begin on May 9. Early voting is available between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, ending at 5 p.m. on the Monday before the election. Off-site early voting hours may vary by county.


At the voting site, an election official will ask you to state your name, address, and date of birth. The election official will request you provide an approved form of I.D.


In a primary election, you must state the party primary in which you wish to vote. If you don’t wish to cast a party ballot, you may choose to vote in the nonpartisan races only (which may include judicial and prosecuting attorney races, and other local issues such as tax increases).


The General Election and Nonpartisan Runoff Election will be held on November 8.


You can find more information about voting in Arkansas at www.sos.arkansas.gov.


4-9-22 6:56 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Building a Better Arkansas Through Service


Arkansans are unfortunately familiar with the devastating impacts of tornadoes. I’ve seen the damage left in their powerful wake and talked with homeowners, businesses and local leaders about the challenges they face in getting things back to normal. In the face of these trials, I have also seen the resolve of citizens determined to rebuild and the care of those who offer hope through words and deeds to friends and neighbors experiencing some of the greatest hardships of their lives.


Natural State residents have a long and proud history of opening their hearts to help others. Support thrives in our communities beyond the aftermath of a natural disaster.


I’ve met with people from all corners of the state who have answered the call to serve, making connections and tapping into the resources and knowledge of others who have the same desire.


I’m constantly inspired by Arkansans who are identifying problems, rolling up their sleeves and getting to work on real, innovative solutions. These problem solvers are working in communities across the state alongside elected officials and civic groups like boys and girls in scouting as well as veteran service organizations. And these efforts are noticed.


Across the state, communities have built a solid foundation to inspire and grow a passion for service and giving back to others. Thanks to the encouragement of organizations like EngageAR, which aims to empower service and volunteerism at the municipal level, these communities can continue to spread kindness in our state’s time of need.


I was proud to recently recognize the newest recipients of EngageAR’s Community of the Year Award; Osceola, Vilonia, Maumelle, Fayetteville, Siloam Springs, North Little Rock and West Memphis. They have demonstrated the value of civic engagement through efforts like citywide cleanups, training volunteer firefighters, cultivating gardens to feed the food insecure and expanding foodbank operations.


Volunteering gives people the opportunity to put their talents to use on behalf of others. It’s a powerful and rewarding experience and the involvement of citizens in these communities has made a positive impact.


As Arkansas Municipal League Executive Director Hayes says – local people solve local problems best.


For instance, the Disabled American Veterans chapter in Mountain Home recognized the need to take action to reduce and prevent veteran suicides. Its members launched an outreach program to connect with veterans who are outside of the VA system – and it worked. There was a significant decrease in veteran suicides.


In order to build on this success and the positive results of other veteran-serving non-profits and community networks, I authored the IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act to create a grant program to leverage these efforts so we can help bridge the gap existing in VA outreach.


This new strategy harnesses the ideas of community advocates into sound policy so they can continue the great work they’re already doing.


I’m proud Congress passed this legislation and we’re working with the VA right now to ensure it’s implemented as we intended.


One of the things I learned early on as a Member of Congress that has continued to serve as inspiration for my work in Washington, is that you can get a lot accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit. That’s the same mentality I’ve seen across our state as communities do what they always do in times of need: bring people together to achieve what can’t be done individually.


There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing Arkansans from all walks of life who share the same goal – helping their neighbors. I encourage all Arkansans to stay true to the spirit of service and selflessness that helps make us all better.


4-8-22 5:04 p.m. KAWX.ORG


Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Combatting Violent Crime


LITTLE ROCK – Today, I would like to talk about the national increase in violent crime, and what we are doing to combat that here in Arkansas.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world felt like it came to a halt while we dealt with the issues of public health. But violent crime did not slow down. In fact, violent crime actually increased since 2018. Homicides in Arkansas were 224 that year, but in 2020, the number was 310, an increase of 38 percent. All this is according to data from the Arkansas Crime Information Center.
Government has no greater responsibility than to assure public safety, and at the state level, we are taking several measures to address this increase in crime and the current threat to public safety.
First, we have tangibly shown our support of our law enforcement.
I signed into law a $5,000 bonus for every certified full-time police officer in the state. We raised the salaries of our state troopers and have expanded the number of positions at the Arkansas State Crime Lab to accelerate rape-kit testing. Finally, we also allocated money to enlarge the prison at Calico Rock.
The prison expansion is necessary because our local court system does not have enough flexibility or adequate space in the county jails due to the lack of space in our prison system.
This last week, based on recommendations by Secretary Solomon Graves and the Division of Community Correction, I announced the expansion of the Intensive Supervision Program.
This expansion will add officers to a team dedicated to providing a higher level of support and supervision to those who pose a higher risk of violent crimes.
These are those that have spent time in prison and were released on parole. We want them to get a second start in life, and our ultimate goal is to help them do that. But you have an element of those who pose a greater risk than others, and the design of the Intensive Supervision Program is to focus on those high-risk offenders.
I have asked the General Assembly to approve $1 million in funding for this initiative. It will cover new positions at a five-county area in Central Arkansas. This initiative will help keep our streets safter and curb violent crime.
It is a dangerous but important time to be in law enforcement as violent crime is on the increase. Our need to support the men and women who put their lives at risk increases every day.
I want officers to know we support them, and we want to make their job as safe as it can be.
4-8-22 5:00 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Office Operation Lights Out, Drug Bust

On Thursday April 7, 2022, the Polk County Sheriff's Office, 18th Judicial W. Drug Task Force. and the Mena Police Department executed search warrants and arrest warrants on 2 rooms at the Executive Inn in Mena. The search warrants were the result of a months long investigation into narcotic trafficking. Arrested in connection to the operation were Donnie Dollarhyde age 48, Chris Cox age 38, Shane Hogan age 30, and Cody James age 21. During the search warrant, officers recovered a large amount of methamphetamines, drug paraphernalia, cash, stolen property, and seized two vehicles.
Dollarhyde and Cox were both arrested and charged with Possession of Methamphetamine with Purpose to Deliver, Maintaining a Drug Premises, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Hogan was arrested and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Carrying a Weapon.
James was arrested and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Sheriff Scott Sawyer stated "Operation Lights Out is a part of a larger investigation into methamphetamine trafficking in SW Arkansas and SE Oklahoma. We are working hard and are committed to locking up the people responsible for destroying lives and poisoning our communities with methamphetamines. While this was a good operation and will help make our community a little safer, we've got more work to do and more arrests like this coming."

The above charges are allegations. All individuals are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.


4-8-22 9:48 a.m. KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

April 8, 2022


LITTLE ROCK – Average teacher salaries in Arkansas ranked 47th in the nation in 2020, down from 46th in 2019 and 44th in 2018.


Legislators on the Senate and House Education Committees heard a lengthy salary comparison last week, written by legislative staff.


Nationally, the average teacher salary in 2020 was $64,133. In Arkansas it was $50,546.


The top average teacher salaries were paid in New York, California, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. The cost of living is highest in those states, according to an economic index cited by staff.


When average teacher salaries in Arkansas are overlaid with a standard cost of living index, we move up to 28th in the nation in 2020. In 2018 and in 2019 they ranked 22nd and 25th, respectively.


The Southern Regional Education Board compiles education data from 16 southern states. The average teacher salary in the 16 southern states was $55,205 in 2020. Arkansas teacher salaries ranked 13th, but when adjusted for cost of living they moved up to ninth.


The average teacher salary was $51,819 in the six states that share a border with Arkansas. When adjusted for the cost of living, average salaries in Arkansas ranked fourth, which was exactly in the middle of the rankings.


Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee ranked first, second and third. Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana ranked fifth, sixth and seventh.


Legislators pay attention to disparities in teacher salaries within the state. For example, last year the Fayetteville School District paid average salaries of $61,682 and the Dermott School District paid an average of $39,263.


Generally, schools in cities pay higher salaries. The average salary in urban school districts last year in Arkansas was $54,912. In rural school districts the average was $47,238.


The disparities in salary exist in charter schools too. Haas Hall Academy in northwest Arkansas paid average salaries of $52,732 and the Imboden Charter School District paid an average of $35,600.


Charters generally paid lower average salaries than regular public schools. Although disparities exist between the salaries paid by individual charter schools, there was not a pronounced disparity between urban and rural schools. Urban charter schools paid teachers an average salary of $43,472 and rural charter schools paid an average of $44,759.


The legislature does not mandate salaries except for minimum levels. Act 170 of 2019 mandates minimum salaries of $33,800 for a teacher with no experience. The minimum salaries go up for teachers with a master’s degree and for teachers with experience in the classroom.


On average, schools pay more than the state-mandated minimum salary. Last year the average minimum salary was $35,799.


Last year 97 Arkansas school districts had minimum salaries at the state-mandated level of $33,800, and 138 districts paid minimum salaries that were higher than the state mandate.


The Springdale School District had the highest minimum salary level, which was $48,242.


Act 679 of 2021 creates a teacher salary equalization fund for school districts where the average minimum salary is below statewide averages. The goal is to bring up salaries in those districts to $51,822.


4-8-22 9:15 a.m. KAWX.ORG 


Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

Maintain Title 42

The situation at our southern border continues to worsen as Spring brings about a predicable spike in illegal border crossings and encounters. In addition to the expected seasonal spike, President Joe Biden is ending Title 42, originally implemented by President Donald Trump as a public health measure barring asylum applicants from entering the U.S. while their applications were being processed. This measure has proven to be one of President Biden’s most unpopular decisions yet, with 56% of U.S. voters opposing the plan.

Under President Joe Biden, border arrests at the southern border have sharply increased, and by the Administration’s own estimates, are set to skyrocket to 18,000 a day after the end of Title 42. Unfortunately, he has provided no plan at all to counter the surge or offered our border patrol any sort of increased support. Our border security is severely threated by this chaos.

In the last 30 years, law enforcement officials have discovered more than 230 cross-border tunnels that were used to smuggle drugs, weapons, and people through the Mexico-U.S. border with most likely many left undiscovered. With such an unprecedented surge of migrants flooding the border, many agents are diverted from their essential tasks of monitoring our ports of entry or finding tunnels like these to instead process migrants.

Cartels are taking full advantage. Fentanyl seizures are up 134% in FY2021, but many times the drugs pass undetected resulting in a historic number of overdoses in the U.S. According to the CDC, fentanyl overdose is now the leading cause of death in Americans aged 18-45. Not COVID-19, cancer, or car accidents. Fentanyl. We must prioritize stemming the flow of this horrible substance.

Democrats claim Title 42 is unnecessary as a health measure while also asking for an additional $10 billion in COVID-19 funding because they do not believe the pandemic is over. Democrats simply can’t have it both ways. If President Biden continues his course and ends Title 42, but continues to refuse to assist our border patrol, the crisis at our southern border will continue to devolve into chaos. President Biden must listen to the American people, realize the effect of his policies on this country, and maintain Title 42.


4-8-22 7:57 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Log for March 28TH - April 3RD



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of March 28, 2022 – April 3, 2022. The charges against those arrested are allegations and the cases are still pending in the courts. Individuals charged and whose names appear in this column may submit documentation to us at a later date that the charges have been dismissed or that they have been found innocent and we will include that information in this space in a timely manner.


March 28, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on North Street near Cove in reference to a Domestic Altercation and an Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.


March 29, 2022

Rickey Morse, 68 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Harassing Communications, Terroristic Threatening 1st Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Minor 2nd Degree.

George Trivette, 29 of Mena was arrested by an officer with Probation Parole on a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant and a Parole Hold.


March 30, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of a tree falling on a vehicle that was traveling on Hwy 71 S near Cove.

Kenneth Chaney, 27 of Mena was arrested by an officer with Probation Parole on a Felony Warrant for Theft of Property and a Parole Hold.


March 31, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of a land dispute on Gardenia Lane near Mena.


April 1, 2022

Kelly Watson, 35 of Wickes was arrested by an officer with the Grannis Police Department on charges of Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct.

Trae Clouse, 30 of Mena was arrested by an officer with the Arkansas State Police on charges of DWI, Disorderly Conduct, No Proof of Insurance, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor 3rd Degree, Open Container, Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test, No Driver’s License, No Child Safety Restraint and Speeding.


April 2, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of a vehicle fire at a residence on Polk 129 near Rocky.


April 3, 2022

Joseph Lunsford, 27 of Mena was arrested by an officer with the Arkansas Game and Fish on a charge of DWI.


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


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 20 Incarcerated Inmates, with 8 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.



4-5-22 8:44 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for March 27TH - April 2ND

Mena Police Department reports for the week of March 27th through April 2nd, 2022


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


March 27

A report of possession of a controlled substance was taken on Marion Avenue.


March 28

A report of breaking or entering was taken on Eagle Gap.


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


March 29

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


Michael Trivette, 30, was served with three warrants at a residence on Fink Street.


March 30

Jerad Haarmeyer, 30, was served with a warrant for Stalking.


A report of criminal mischief was taken at a residence on Deridder.


A report of criminal mischief was taken on Deridder.


Mario Caramez, 40, was served with a warrant at the police department.


A report of criminal mischief was taken from a person at the Dallas Avenue Baptist Church parking lot.


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


March 31

Gary Smith, 44, was charged with Criminal Trespass at James’ Food.


A report of criminal trespass was taken at Phillip 66.


April 1

A report of unauthorized use of a vehicle was taken at a residence on Sarah Way.


April 2

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


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


Timothy Hooks, 36, was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and served with five warrants after a traffic stop on Eagle Gap.


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


4-4-22 9:41 a.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

On Monday of this week, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees met jointly with the Charitable, Penal, and Correctional Institutions subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council.


Members reviewed reports from the Department of Corrections concerning the current prison population and recidivism rates. Currently, the recidivism rate for the entire department is 46.1%. That breaks down to 47.8% for the Division of Correction and 37.5% for the Division of Community Correction.


In Arkansas, recidivism is defined as either an arrest, conviction, or re-incarceration within a 3 year time period from an individual’s release from a correctional facility.

Arkansas’ definition of recidivism makes it difficult to compare to other states, but Corrections Secretary Solomon Graves told members Arkansas’ recidivism rate is “unacceptably high.”


Secretary Graves told members they will be reviewing current programs to evaluate their effectiveness. He added that this is an issue that government cannot solve alone. It will take a collaborative effort from advocacy groups and faith-based organizations.


To bring attention to the issue, the Governor has proclaimed the week of April 26 as Reentry Awareness Week.


The proclamation states that at least 90% of state prison inmates will be released at some point in their sentence. It goes on to say that because high recidivism increases the cost of corrections and puts Arkansas citizens at greater risk of becoming victims of crime, it is imperative that offenders returning to the community have the programs, services, and support they need to become productive citizens of the state.


Committee members were also presented with information showing that roughly two-fifths of individuals entering prison do not have a high school degree or GED. Research presented also showed that incarcerated people who participate in postsecondary education in prison are 48% less likely to recidivate than those who do not.


The inmate population for the Division of Correction is currently 15,089. There are 1,528 inmates in county jails waiting to be transferred.


In the most recent Fiscal Session, the General Assembly increased county jail reimbursements by $6.4 million. The General Assembly also approved the transfer of $150 million for various one-time funding projects including prison construction.


In the months ahead, the members will continue to consult with the Department of Corrections regarding the inmate population, recidivism, and ways we can improve on this crucial issue.


4-2-22 10:27 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column: End COVID Travel Restrictions

Biden’s Broke Budget

President Joe Biden released his Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal this week, revealing more the same polices that have brought Americans historic inflation and record high gas prices. President Biden promised not to raise taxes on those earning less than $400,000 a year, but he has broken that promise by ensuring every American pays more for everyday necessities.

Inflation has reached a historic 40-year high, furthered by the Biden Administration’s outrageous spending, as demonstrated in a new analysis by the San Francisco Federal Reserve. President Biden’s FY23 budget continues this spending by including Green New Deal radical climate priorities, providing $44.9 billion of taxpayer funding for both a foreign and domestic climate agenda. Meanwhile, in the same budget, he revoked roughly $43 billion in tax incentives for oil and gas companies in the midst of an unprecedented energy crisis when the average national gas price hovers at $4.22. I am firmly in favor of being good stewards of our environment, but we are capable of doing so in a way that protects our environment and our economy.

To pay for his profligate spending, President Biden has doubled down on his crippling tax hikes. Most recently, President Biden has proposed a tax on “unrealized gains.” An unrealized gain would tax an individual’s stock before they sell the stock. For example, if you own $100 in stock and the price rises to $200, but you do not sell the stock, the $100 increase is unrealized gains. This tax will punish and discourage investment, harming small businesses and job creation the most. Some Democrats understand this radical plan is ridiculous. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) correctly said, “You can’t be taxed on things you don’t have.” He’s exactly right. Even the left-leaning Tax Policy Center said this tax scheme “raises many practical problems,” “won’t work,” and is “ripe for abuse.”

recent poll from NBC News showed that 62% of working families reported their incomes cannot keep up with rising costs. Biden’s radical tax and spend policies are simply not working. It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again expecting a different result. When releasing his budget, the President said that “budgets are statements of values,” and he’s right. Sadly, it seems our President values taking your hard-earned money out of your pocket. President Biden must change course immediately, empower our oil and gas industries to lower gas prices, and relieve families of skyrocketing inflation.


4-2-22 10:21 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: The Black Bear Makes a Comeback
LITTLE ROCK – One hundred-fifty years before I took office, Arkansas was home to so many black bears that we were known as The Bear State, but by the early years of the last century, enthusiastic hunters had thinned the population to the point that the General Assembly outlawed bear hunting.
Today I’d like to share a bit of the story of the demise and the historic reintroduction of the black bear in our state.
I learned much of this history two weeks ago when I accompanied several of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s 14-member bear team on a visit to a bear den near Jessieville. The team is led by Game and Fish Deputy Director Roger Mangham and Myron Means, the coordinator of the Large Carnivore Program. The annual survey starts in January and is complete by the end of March.
The team tracks the bears with radio collars that allow them to distinguish one bear from another and to find each bear’s den. As they usually do, the members of the team found each of its 43 collared bears this spring.
The day I joined the team, the members were visiting the den of mama bear Brenda Lee, who has two cubs. They safely tranquilized and examined Brenda, and held her cubs to measure and weigh.
A hundred years ago, the number of Brenda Lee’s ancestors had dwindled to fewer than about 50 in the entire state. From 1958 to 1968, Arkansas brought in bears from Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada. Now the project, with almost 6,000 bears, is considered the most successful reintroduction of a large carnivore anywhere in the world.
By 1980, the state had once again allowed bear hunting in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains. This year, the Game and Fish Commission is expanding bear hunting into south Arkansas.
Myron Means, who grew up in Van Buren and now lives in his grandparents’ home there, has worked with bears for 27 years. His degrees are from Arkansas Tech and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He started his career as a field biologist in the Ozarks. In 1989, he caught his first bear, which was two years old and weighed 110 pounds. Out of the thousands of bears Myron has handled, he remembers that one. That was the moment he knew he wanted to work with bears.
A bear has never attacked him, but plenty of mama bears have bluff charged him. Myron says the mamas attempt to scare humans by running at them, but they stop short of an attack. Bears really are timid, and the bears that attack a person have lost their fear through frequent interaction with humans.
My visit with Brenda Lee and the bear team was exciting, informative, and safe. Now I can add bears to my list of Arkansas wildlife I have seen in the woods.
4-1-22 5:12 p.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Leading the Way in Protecting Cyberspace


In the 21st century, most of the systems and operations we depend on for everything from personal financial activity to the community-wide distribution of information and resources is built within and around the internet.


The connectedness, convenience and efficiency it offers have improved how we live and work, but it does not come free of risk.


Last month, President Biden warned that our country faces a heightened threat of malicious cyber-attacks from Russia. Our intelligence services attribute that to its displeasure with U.S. support of Ukraine as it withstands the brutal, unjustified invasion waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin. This reality only underscores the need to harden our domestic cybersecurity and resilience.


Even before the announcement from the White House, I asked the Biden administration to provide all necessary resources and work with private, state and local institutions to prevent our critical infrastructure and systems from being compromised through nefarious activity in response to the severe economic sanctions America has imposed on the Russian Federation.


From banks to hospitals, liquified natural gas terminals, bridges and roads, and more, our networks and institutions need to be informed and supported by the federal government in order to be prepared to absorb and rebuff offensive cyber operations by foreign adversaries. That was obvious last year as we saw bad actors target a major pipeline, disrupt service at a key meat supplier and even infiltrate a water treatment facility.


I’ve pushed the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to pull out all the stops and be proactive in allocating the resources and capabilities to defend against these attempts to cripple our vital systems and disrupt our lives.


Thankfully, our state hasn’t been waiting around for disaster to strike. We’ve been preparing and training our workforce to help protect our information and secure our critical networks.


I’ve been working alongside other leaders to strengthen Arkansas’s role in combating cyberthreats and am pleased with the progress we are making.


Efforts by the Forge Institute and universities like UAPB and UALR are positioning Arkansas as a cyber defense state. We’ve launched the Consortium for Cyber Innovation, a project to develop and align cyber instruction and marshal applied research capabilities throughout the state, creating a cluster of industry and education that will support our cyber readiness.


I’ve also helped secure funding for the University of Arkansas System’s Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) to update its cyberterrorism courses and lead training to help state and local governments prevent cyber-attacks.


Additionally, just last month Governor Hutchinson announced grant funding for further development of the Cyber Learning Network (CyberLearN) – a regional partnership with seven schools in the University of Arkansas System aimed at averting a skills gap in this sector within The Natural State.


I’m also backing policy solutions like the Cybersecurity Opportunity Act to help Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) offer education and training so even more students are prepared to fill jobs vital to protecting our country and the digital domain. Since Arkansas is home to four HBCUs, establishing this pipeline will help our employers find local talent to fill these critical, in-demand positions.


We can take great pride in how our higher education institutions and private entities are leading the way in this arena.


The importance of private and public partnerships working together to prevent future cyber-attacks is critical. Most of the nation’s essential infrastructure is privately owned, so these relationships are crucial to secure and protect it. The urgency is only increasing as we understand the true global threats we face from adversaries and competitors, as well as private actors who seek to exploit vulnerabilities for financial gain.


I will continue to make this issue a priority and help Arkansas continue to lead in defending and maintaining our cybersecurity.


4-1-22 4:33 p.m. KAWX.ORG


State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

April 1, 2022


LITTLE ROCK – The recidivism rate for Arkansas prison inmates is 46.1 percent, a rate which the head of state prisons called unacceptable.


Prison officials appeared before a joint meeting of legislators to discuss estimates of growth in the state’s inmate population. They also discussed reentry programs to better prepare inmates for productive careers after they are released from prison.


The legislature passed an appropriation during the recent fiscal session for a 498-bed expansion of the North Central Unit in Calico Rock. Some legislators, county sheriffs and law enforcement officers argue that Arkansas needs more maximum security beds.


The number of inmates behind bars is a little more than 15,000, but they represent only a fraction of the total number of people under the jurisdiction of the state Correction Division.


Another 1,371 inmates are in housed in residential centers run by the Division of Community Corrections. They house inmates referred from drug courts, and are licensed to provide alcohol and drug abuse treatment.


The centers also offer education and job training, as well as therapies to help inmates transition to the outside world, such as parenting classes and courses on how to improve relationships.


State inmates also are housed in county jails, because of a lack of space in state prison units. When offenders are convicted, they normally would be transferred to a state unit. However, due to the lack of space there is a permanent backlog of inmates in local jails.


The backlog of state inmates in county jails was a factor in the legislature’s decision to pass an appropriation for an expansion at the Calico Rock unit.


At the end of March, more than 1,500 inmates were being held in county jails. Sheriffs have appeared before legislative hearings to voice concerns about the increasing number of violent and dangerous offenders in their jails.


The director of state prisons told lawmakers that about 55 percent of new inmates are legally classified as violent offenders. Sentences are determined using a grid that compares the seriousness of criminal offenses, on a scale of one through ten. The director said 55 percent of new offenders are in the eight, nine and ten categories.


Also, about 67,000 inmates are on probation or parole, under supervision by officers. About 24,000 of those are on parole and the others are on probation.


Recidivism rates measure the percentage of inmates who return to prison within three years of being released. The director of Arkansas prisons was hesitant to compare the rate in Arkansas with other states because Arkansas uses different standards and definitions, therefore any comparisons would be “apples to watermelons,” he said.


The Board of Correction recently invoked the Emergency Powers Act to grant parole to almost 400 inmates. The decision does not create new eligibility criteria for their release, but it moves up the time period in which they become eligible for early release.


The governor has proclaimed the week of April 26 through April 30 as Reentry Awareness Week, to help focus public attention on ways to better prepare inmates for life outside prison after they are released.


4-1-22 9:54 a.m. KAWX.ORG