KAWX News Archives for 2022-07

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

Fair Care for All

Senate Democrats are resurrecting President Biden’s shortsighted “Build Back Better” bill after reaching an agreement with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). The bill, besides raising taxes and greenlighting Green New Deal provisions, will expand government control over drug pricing in a misguided attempt to bring down health care costs. Though Americans largely agree that health care reform is needed, given the 31 million uninsured Americans and the cost of health care averaging over $12,500 per person in 2020, sadly, but unsurprisingly, Republicans are being entirely excluded from the negotiations.

We have real differences in how we want to address our problems leading to oversimplified stereotypes suggesting that Republicans insist on fiscally responsible, long-term solutions that will bring costs down, while Democrats will not risk increasing the number of uninsured Americans, even in the short term. The disagreement has led to an impasse without meaningful progress towards making health care affordable for all Americans.

That is why I crafted a comprehensive plan that combines over 75 bipartisan proposals to salvage workable sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to expand insurance and health care options, protect those with pre-existing conditions, lower costs, and increase the number of insured Americans.

My plan, the Fair Care Act (FCA), will put more dollars back into American’s pockets so they can make their own choices about what health care options work best for them and their families, while dropping the number of uninsured Americans by about 35%, or roughly 14.6 million people.


I am confident that a bipartisan solution can be found to deliver real and lasting health care reform to the American people. Regardless of the difficulties that have come before us, we must deliver Americans the Fair Care they deserve. No one should go broke from a tragic accident or diagnosis. I am confident that through the FCA, we can support free market solutions that protect the most vulnerable among us.

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

The Best Ideas Come From The Ground Up


Recently, the American Farm Bureau Federation recognized me with the Golden Plow, the highest honor it awards sitting members of Congress.


The success I’ve had in shaping ag policy is thanks, in large part, to the Farm Bureau – and especially its Arkansas branch – serving as a vital resource in supporting Natural State farmers, ranchers and foresters.


For over 100 years, the Farm Bureau has been on the forefront of efforts to boost rural America and strengthen the lives of those who call it home.


I strongly believe the best ideas come from the ground up, not the other way around, which is why the Farm Bureau’s voice carries so much weight in my book. We have stood side by side on numerous battles over the years and those outcomes would have been much different had the Farm Bureau not been there.


The Farm Bureau’s guidance will be heavily relied upon as we begin to develop the next farm bill, the nation’s five-year-plan for agriculture, conservation, food, forestry and rural development policy.


Arkansas Farm Bureau has made a notable impact on the farm bill drafting process already, as members offered testimony at the Senate agriculture committee’s recent field hearing in Jonesboro.


Our witnesses shared insights and concerns about our commodity programs, safety nets, risk management, conservation programs, rural development and more—covering nearly the whole gambit of issues that the farm bill touches. The hearing was invaluable in that it provided a look into the effectiveness of, and opportunities to improve, farm bill programs for our state’s ag industry.


There is a long list of challenges we face as we begin writing the next farm policy framework. Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has created a global food shortage. Inflation is historically high and Americans do not feel positive about the economy. Our producers are dealing with high input costs, including record high fertilizer prices and skyrocketing energy bills. They are also dealing with drought, a labor shortage and supply chain bottlenecks. Consumers are facing the highest food inflation rate since the Carter administration. 


I’ve had the opportunity to work on several farm bills over the years. There is one consistent key to success—we have to all work together. The good news is the Senate agriculture committee has a long and storied history of doing just that.


But there is one threat that continues to hang over the farm bill process: the Democrats’ reckless tax and spending legislation. Their latest proposal sets aside the bipartisan farm bill process and charges forward in designating funding for specific farm bill programs in a partisan way which will make it much more difficult to write farm bills in the future.


Using this partisan process to increase farm bill spending sets a bad precedent and undermines our own work. If we're not careful, farm bills will only be written this manner moving forward. Not only does this process cut out the minority party, but it also means policy is written without input from the stakeholders. 


Having input from those directly impacted by the policy is vital to ensuring the final product will work when it is implemented. Engaging farmers, ranchers and producers should happen as we formulate legislation, not as an afterthought. I am committed to always seeking out and incorporating the counsel of the Farm Bureau, and other agricultural stakeholder groups, as we craft policy in the Senate.     


7-29-22  4:15PM  KAWX.ORG

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio AddressMy Year as Chairman of the National Governors Association

To listen to Governer Hutchinsons weekly radio adress, click anywhere on this line, then click on the play button


LITTLE ROCK – Two weeks ago, I passed the gavel to my successor as chair of the National Governors Association, and today I’d like to talk about my year as leader of the NGA and the opportunity to work with other governors on some of our nation’s biggest challenges.


I accepted the gavel virtually in my office at the capitol a year ago during the NGA’s annual summer meeting.


This year, we met in Maine, so I passed the gavel in person to the new chair, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.


My term as chair offered the opportunity to show off Arkansas and our Computer Science Initiative, which I declared as my Chairman’s Priority. By my final day as chair, 50 governors of states and territories, which was a record, had signed the computer science education compact.


By signing, governors were committing to establish plans to expand computer science in schools and to fund the expansion so that we can create new paths to success after high school.


At the NGA summer meeting, Patrick Gelsinger, the CEO of Intel, spoke about the value of our initiative. Mr. Gelsinger noted that modern life is becoming more digital, and everything digital runs on semiconductors. The manufacturing of semiconductors requires talent and money, which is why we must provide first-rate education for our young people.


He also discussed the federal CHIPS Act, which is the abbreviation for Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America. The CHIPS Act would provide about $50 billion in subsidies to support the manufacture of computer chips in the United States. Congress passed the bill, the goal of which is to decrease U.S. dependence on chips that are manufactured overseas. The CHIPS Act had bipartisan support from the governors.


On my first day as chair in July 2021, I reminded my fellow governors that states are laboratories of democracy. I challenged them to innovate, determine what works best, and to share what they have learned.


I suggested that we should lead with civil discourse, respect others in our debates, and rise above party differences to work together. Those words were as relevant today as they were a year ago.


As I reflect on my term as NGA chairman, I am grateful and amazed at the opportunities I have had to serve. I grew up on a farm. My dad was a farmer, and neither of my parents graduated from college. But they gave my siblings and me opportunities they never had. Because of their sacrifice, I’ve had incredible opportunities in life.


In the public arena, I served as United States Attorney under Ronald Reagan and in the United States Congress. In the Bush administration, I served as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration and undersecretary at Homeland Security. I’ve prosecuted neo-Nazis and criminal organizations. I helped guide the nation after 9-11. I returned to Arkansas, and then eight years later, I ran for governor and won.


I shared with the governors that I have attempted to follow my parents’ example and to live by their faith and work ethic. My hope is that as governors, we will inspire our young people to participate in our democracy and to understand the importance of public service.


7-29-22 4:20 PM  KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in ReviewFrom Senator Larry Teague

July 29, 2022


LITTLE ROCK –Well-attended meetings at the state Capitol usually indicate that legislators are addressing an important issue.

That was certainly the case when the joint Senate and House Committees on City, County and Local Affairs met to explore methods of funding of much-needed improvements to water and sewer systems across Arkansas.

A room full of local officials, managers of water and engineers asked legislators to open a process that would allow them to apply for grants and relief funds.


Several legislators and many witnesses expressed frustration that no water projects had even been considered by the steering committee that recommends how federal relief funds should be spent.


One senator who is on the steering committee said it was stacked in favor of the governor, because it consists of nine executive branch department heads and six legislators. That means no projects are brought before the steering committee without prior approval from the governor.


The steering committee has recommended that hundreds of millions in federal funding be used for broadband expansion, virtual training and contact tracing. Legislators said it’s just as important to shore up deteriorating infrastructure that delivers clean drinking water to citizens.


The Senate co-chair of the City, County and Local Affairs Committee emphasized the urgency of getting projects funded immediately. The federal relief funds have to be spent by 2026, but water and sewer projects can take years to plan and get “shovel ready” because they are so complex.


Water systems must acquire rights of way and prepare highly detailed specifications before bidding them out. Projects must comply with exacting health and safety regulations.


Even if revolving loans are available, long-term financing is tricky because water systems cannot simply double or triple the rates paid by consumers in order to finance loans. Many of the 650 water systems in Arkansas serve low-income families.


Inflation is a factor, especially in the construction industry. The longer it takes for a water system to bid out a project, the less pipeline it gets for the money. The longer the steering committee waits, the fewer water projects will be funded because of inflation.


Also adding urgency to the debate are this summer’s high temperatures and the lingering drought across Arkansas. As one witness told legislators, even after the drought ends most water systems will need upgrades.


Water managers were hesitant to estimate how much money is needed to upgrade water and sewer infrastructure in Arkansas. For one reason, it is a moving target. A few years ago a statewide study estimated about $3.7 billion in needs, but in more recent surveys the estimates are closer to $5 billion.


The Secretary of Agriculture said that water systems in every corner of the state have needs.


Water managers said that they did not expect to get the entire amount of funding, but that receiving some of the federal relief money would show that the state’s decision makers believe water is a priority.


The governor said $836 million in federal relief funds arrived in June. He told the press that his appointments to the steering committee were working on a plan, and that he had asked them to meet soon.


7-29-22 12:10 PM KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for July 18th - 24th



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of July 18, 2022 – July 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.


July 18, 2022

John Robertson, 47 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Probation Violation Warrant.


July 19, 2022

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

Landon James, 27 of Watson, OK was arrested on warrants out of McCurtain County.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to a break-in and stolen property.


July 20, 2022

Mark Blehm, 29 of Mena was arrested on a charge of 3rd Degree Domestic Battery.

Brandon Rose, 24 of Mena was arrested on a charge of Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.

Deputies responded to a report of a violation of an Order of Protection.


July 21, 2022

No reports.


July 22, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to an incident on Hwy 71 South leading to the arrest of Marc Baker, 41 of Hot Springs National Park on charges of 1st Degree Terroristic Threatening and Resisting Arrest.

Deputies responded to a report of a stolen cell phone from a business near Hatfield.

Jake Miller, 21 of Cove was arrested on a charge of Public Intoxication.


July 23, 2022

A traffic stop on Hwy 71 South resulted in the arrest of Kasie Wright, 24 of DeQueen on charges of Driving While Intoxicated, Careless and Prohibited Driving and Speeding.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 482 near Vandervoort in reference to a physical altercation leading to the arrest of Marc Baker, 41 of Hot Springs National Park on charges of 3rd Degree Domestic Battery and Resisting Arrest.


July 24, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 65 near Opal in reference to a death.

Deputies responded to a report of a violation of an order of protection leading to the arrest of Danny Hunt, 60 of Mena.


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


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 21 Incarcerated Inmates, with 10 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.


7-26-22 9:21 AM KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for July 17th - July 23rd

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


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


July 17

A report of criminal trespass was taken at Cruizzers.


Jennifer Collins, 46, was charged with theft at Walmart.


A report of battery and fleeing was taken at Walmart.


Michael Wing, 39, was charged with Domestic Battery after a disturbance call on 9th Street.


Larney Moore, 35, was charged with Possession of Marijuana during an accident investigation on Highway 71.


A report of battery was taken at a residence on Carder Avenue.


July 18

Cheryl Smith, 32, was served with a warrant at a residence on Dickson Road.


James Wright, 42, was served with a warrant at the police department.


July 19

Robert Everly, 56, was charged with Sexual Indecency of a Child at a residence on Dequeen Street.


A report of sexual indecency of a child was taken after receiving information from Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division.


Brandon Rose, 24, was charged with DWI and Driving with Suspended License after an accident at the Walmart parking lot.


Jamie May, 40, was served with a warrant at the county jail.


July 20

A report of harassment was taken at Peachtree Assisted Living.


Heather Hilderbrand-Judd, 47, was served with four warrants at the county jail.


Tyler Cornelius, 28, was served with a warrant at the county jail.


July 21

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


A report of fraud was taken at a residence on Reeves Avenue.


July 22

Clay Breeden, 43, and Jennifer Breeden, 30, were both charged with Disorderly Conduct after a disturbance call to a residence on 7th Street.


July 23

A report of theft was taken from a person at 71 Diesel.


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


7-25-22  10:05 AM  KAWX.ORG


Polk County Dentention Center Inmates

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

It is estimated that the average family will spend more than $600 per child on back-to-school shopping this year. This time of year can bring a financial burden to many families across Arkansas. That is why we want to remind you about the upcoming Arkansas Sales Tax holiday.


This year, the event will begin at 12:01 am on Saturday, August 6th, and will continue until 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 7th.

Act 757 of 2011 provides for a sales tax holiday in Arkansas during the first weekend of August each year. A sales tax holiday is a temporary period when state and local sales taxes are not collected or paid on the purchase of certain products.


Clothing less than $100 per item is exempt during the weekend, as well as clothing accessories less than $50 per item. Clothing accessories include handbags, cosmetics, jewelry, umbrellas, and more. Most school supplies, including book bags, binders, paper, crayons, pencils, and rulers, are also exempt.


In the 2021 Regular Session, we passed Act 944, which amended the sales tax holiday to include electronics. Examples include a calculator, desktop computer, cell phone, e-reader, computer mouse, laptop, monitor, printer, keyboard, and tablets. It does not include video game systems or televisions. Statewide, Act 944 is estimated to save Arkansans an additional $650,000 in taxes a year.


Online purchases for the specified items will be tax-free as long as the transaction processes between 12:01 a.m. on the 6th and 11:59 p.m. on the 7th and the items are shipped to an Arkansas address. 


The sales tax holiday was created to help Arkansas families. We hope you take advantage of this opportunity. We have posted the entire list of tax-exempt items and answers to frequently asked questions at www.arkansashouse.org.


7-23-22 1:27 PM KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: 988 Mental Health Hotline Makes Connecting to Help Easier

988 Mental Health Hotline Makes Connecting to Help Easier


There is a new way to get help for folks experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis and it’s as easy as dialing 988. In July, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline launched, ushering in a link to crisis centers nationwide through a toll-free number connecting callers to trained counselors for free and confidential care.


This comes as a result of years of hard work by mental health advocates and legislators to expand access to mental health care through this critical service. After studying the feasibility of this initiative, with my support, Congress passed the bipartisan National Suicide Hotline Designation Act in 2020 to establish a quick and convenient way to get individuals the help they need so we can save lives.


The stress of the past couple of years only exacerbated the mental health crisis that was already gripping our nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports suicide was the 12th leading cause of death for all ages in the United States in 2020. Arkansas ranked 11th in the nation for deaths by suicide that same year.


Investments in mental health care are more important than ever. Expanding access to critical care is essential to getting individuals the help they need. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates health professionals answering these calls can resolve more than 80-90 percent of the challenges over the phone.


The new nationwide emergency number continues our commitment to improving services designed to confront the challenges of mental illness and deploying support tools for those at risk of suicide.


Men and women who are serving or have served in their nation’s uniform suffer a disproportionately higher rate of suicide compared to the general population. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates more than 20 veterans die by suicide every day. While we’ve increased federal funding to address this national crisis, there has been little to no improvement in reducing that number. That’s why we’ve updated the VA’s policies to support veteran-serving non-profits and other community networks that have proven effective in their outreach and better measure the effectiveness of existing programs.


Congress approved my legislation, the IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act, two years ago to create a VA grant program to leverage the positive outcomes of these organizations and build on their successes. The VA received applications for the inaugural funding and is currently in the process of reviewing the submissions and awarding millions of dollars in grants to support this effort.


Implementing a comprehensive strategy to provide mental health care and treatment is essential. The good news is there is support from every level of government. We’ve taken critical steps, but we know this is just the beginning.


The 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will save lives and I am committed to working to further improve access to mental health care for Arkansans.


Establishing the 988 number that is easy to remember and access during a mental health crisis is a simple way we can save more lives. Preventing suicide and reaching those struggling with their mental health is all about helping them understand they are not alone and assistance is available. I look forward to the good this new lifeline will do for Arkansans who are at risk and need support.


7-23-22 1:22 PM KAWX.ORG


Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

Fighting the Drought in Arkansas

It is no secret to Arkansans that this summer has been an unusually dry season, resulting in moderate to severe drought throughout the state. Some areas have not recorded rainfall for over a month, and the National Weather Service predicts the drought will persist for the foreseeable future.

These conditions are catastrophic for our farmers and producers. I have heard from many constituents who are suffering during this abnormal drought, especially poultry and cattle farmers who are struggling to provide for their animals. Some cattle farms have unfortunately reported resorting to reducing their herds. Any loss of production is detrimental not only to Arkansas, but also to the entire country who relies on the industry to keep us fed and clothed. Further, 53 of 75 counties in Arkansas are now under active burn bans to avoid forest fires.

In response, I sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack supporting Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for a Secretarial Disaster Declaration for the state of Arkansas. A Secretarial Disaster Declaration would allow farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers to apply for Emergency Farm Loans. As Americans struggle with inflation and a potential food crisis, the federal government must take any threat to the agriculture industry incredibly seriously.

I will continue to monitor the situation closely and ensure folks are aware of all programs available to them. Agriculture is the lifeblood of Arkansas and must be protected.

7-22-22 9:45 AM KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

July 22, 2022


LITTLE ROCK – Every year the sales tax holiday is the first weekend in August. This year it will be Saturday, August 6, and Sunday, August 7.


Consumers will not have to pay sales tax on any articles of clothing that cost less than $100. The exempted items include not only ordinary clothing such as pants, shirts, dresses and shoes. Also free from sales tax are bathing suits, baby blankets, underwear, raincoats, uniforms, hats and caps, aprons, neckties, scarves and steel-toes boots.

Diapers, even disposal diapers, are included on the list of exempt items.


Accessories are also on the list of exempted items, as long as they cost less than $50. The list of articles is extensive, and includes handbags and purses, sunglasses, jewelry, hair notions, wallets, watches and wigs.


More than 65 categories of cosmetics are exempt from the sales tax, such as mascara, many types of hair products, fingernail polish and fingernail remover, bath salts, artificial eyelashes, perfume and stretch mark cream.


School supplies will be exempt from the sales tax. Officially the first weekend of August is called the sales tax holiday, but many people refer to it as the “Back to School” sales tax holiday. That’s because the legislature intentionally scheduled it for early August, to benefit families with children going to school.


School supplies include pens, pencils and paper as well as art supplies.

Thanks to Act 944 of 2021, approved by the legislature earlier this year, certain electronic and computer equipment was added to the list of tax exempt items.


Laptops, desktops, tablets, printers, keyboards, calculators, cell phones, e-readers and monitors are exempt from the sales tax.  However, video games, stereos and televisions are not included.


Arkansas families will save an estimated $2.6 million on purchases of electronic and computer equipment.


The sales tax exemption applies to single articles, and is not based on the overall cost of everything you buy. For example, you can buy three shirts $25 each and a pair of pants for $50 and you will not be charged the sales tax, even though the total is $125. Because each item is less than $100, the exemption is applied.


However, if you buy a pair of shoes for $120, you will have to pay the sales tax on the full amount of the purchase.

Essentially, there is no limit on the number of exempt items you can purchase, as long as each item costs less than $100 for clothes or $50 for accessories.


There is no price limit on electronics and computer equipment, nor is there one on school supplies.

The exemption applies to all sales taxes, not just state sales taxes. That means exempt items are free of all city, county and local sales taxes.


All retailers have to participate. Articles cannot be separated in order to lower their price under the $100 and $50 thresholds. Men’s suits and pairs of shoes, which normally are sold as one unit, cannot be split into separate purchases.


7-22-22  9:45 AM   KAWX.ORG

Mena School Board July Meeting Recap

The Mena School Board held their July meeting on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 at the district administration building. Dr. Lee Smith began the meeting with his superintendent’s report. He informed the board that bids are being accepted for the construction of outdoor pavilions at each campus and he anticipates that construction will begin in August or early September. Smith then informed the board that the federal government allowed schools to offer free meals to all students during the pandemic, but Congress did not extend this benefit for 2022/2023. Families that are eligible for free or reduced-price meals must apply to receive them, and all other students must pay full price for their meals. Due to the increased cost of food the state has also recommended increasing price. There will be a .10 cent increase for students. Making breakfast $1.80 and lunch $2.85. Adults will see an increase of .30 cents. The good news is that students at Louise Durham and Holly Harshman will eat breakfast free. Parents are encouraged to fill out the free lunch form found on the school website whether you think you qualify or not. Students who qualify receive additional benefits such as fee waivers for the ACT test and additional opportunities for financial aid for college or vocational training. Assistant Superintendent Bridget Buckley then gave a presentation on the upcoming “One District, One Book” program. The Mena School District will be engaging our entire community to participate in a shared reading experience. One District One Book is a reading program that involves students and families in grades Pre-K-12. The event is scheduled to begin on September 6th. The school board unanimously approved the program and asked full participation of staff members, community members, students and parents. Next on the agenda was the annual report to the public. Smith noted that the district is now required to post the report online by August 1st. Since all the information is not available until later in the year an incomplete report will be available at first with a complete report to follow at a later date.

Mr. Danny Minton, district maintenance supervisor, updated progress on projects. He stated that the new agriculture science barn has been completed. Paving at Bob Carver Bearcat Stadium should begin next week. Stripping and waxing of the floors at LDE, HHE and MMS is nearing completion. The crew doing the tile stripping and concrete polishing project at MHS are expected to begin on August 8th. Heating and air conditioning improvements continue across the district and drainage issues at MMS are being addressed. Dr. Smith then proposed an update to the recruitment and retention plan. The update would reflect that it is a three year plan with an emphasis on high school students choosing teaching as a career. The update was approved. The board was also reminded of the district registered volunteer and visitor policies. With the increase of people who will be back on campus and with a renewed emphasis on security Dr. Smith felt like now was the time to ensure that these policies are understood. Registered volunteers are those who work with students in unsupervised settings doing things like tutoring or coaching. Registered volunteers must be properly vetted by the district and have state police and FBI background checks. Visitors on campus do not have to have background checks because in most cases they serve on a short term basis and are supervised by licensed staff members. Visitors may come on campus to read to a class or help serve holiday meals in the cafeteria. The policies are available on the school website under State Required Information, Section 6, policy numbers 6.4 and 6.5. Vehicle and bus insurance was next on the agenda and only one bid was received. The board approved the bid of $19,064.60 by Farm Bureau Insurance. The board then approved the 2022/2023 petty cash for each campus in the amount of $200.00. The administrators at each school the presented the board with changes to the student handbook. Most of which were simple clarification and language changes. Notably at MMS were changes to the dress code and the drug screening policy. As well as changes in student make up work that would allow them to check out chrome books to complete that work. Plus a new policy dealing with students trading,buying or selling personal items on campus.

Mena High School had the most changes. Including new graduation requirements beginning with the class of 2026. They will be the first class at MHS that will be required to have one credit of computer science to graduate. Changes to summer school include extending it to three weeks with a maximum of eighty four hours of instruction. This will allow students to earn their full grade from summer school as opposed to factoring in their grades from the regular school year. The student council and the student executive council suggested a new emphasis on the dress code and added consequences. Changes were made on the device use policy to mirror the policies on the other Mena campuses. A new exemption policy for semester exams was also added to the handbook that would allow students with certain grades and number of absences to forego final exams if they choose to. Finally in the extracurricular handbook a levels of infraction and levels of discipline section was added. The board approved all the changes. The handbooks will be available to read on the school website at a later date. The board then approved the Act 1120 Report. This requires a school district board of directors to review and approve by a written resolution an increase in salary of five percent (5%) or more for a school district employee. Dr. Smith then asked the board to allow him the flexibility to adjust reimbursement rates for employees in light of increased gas prices and to other expenses. The board took it one step further by suggesting that the district follow the General Services Administration table for reimbursements. Smith agreed and the change passed with little discussion. In Personnel the board accepted the resignation of Mathew Sandifer. Restructured the contract of Kristi Wilson from 200 days to 190 days. New hires included: Brooke Maechler – LPN at MMS Rose Branch – Bus Driver Trevor Humphry – Head Baseball, Assistant Football as well as HHE and MMS Teacher Jennifer Philpot – Behavior Support Paraprofessional LDE.


7-20-22 12:22 PM KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for July 11th - 17th



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of July 11, 2022 – July 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.


July 11, 2022

Deputies took a report of a car tire being cut at a residence on Polk 70 near Acorn. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.


July 12, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a ball field in reference to breaking or entering.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 482 near Vandervoort in reference to being threatened. This led to the arrest of Michael Krulcik, 28 of Cove on Misdemeanor Warrants for Harassing Communications and 2nd Degree Terroristic Threatening and a charge of 1st Degree Terroristic Threatening.


July 13, 2022

Deputies received a report of stolen property.

Deputies responded to a report of a violation of an order of protection.


July 14, 2022

A report of a vehicle accident near Polk 93 led to the arrest of Jackson Hunter, 19 of Mena on a charge of underage DUI and Careless and Prohibited Driving.


July 15, 2022

A traffic stop on Polk 70 near Cherry Hill led to the arrest of Sabrina Stafford on a Misdemeanor Warrant. Additional information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.


July 16, 2022

Donavan Hunt, 30 of Mena was arrested on two Body Attachment Warrants.

Lea Fox, 42 of Wickes was arrested on a Felony Probation Violation Warrant and a charge of Violation of a Court Order.


July 17, 2022

No reports.


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


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 24 Incarcerated Inmates, with 11 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.


7-19-22 8:36 AM KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for July 10th - 16th

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


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



July 10

A report of possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug Paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana was taken after a traffic stop on Highway 71.


Deanna Ayres, 48, was charged with Theft at Walmart.


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


July 11

Cory Beckwith, 28, was charged with Cruelty to Animals after a call on 10th Street.


July 12

A report of a suspicion person was taken at a residence on Janssen Avenue.


A report of breaking or entering and theft was taken at a residence on Eagle Gap Avenue.


A report of breaking or entering and theft was taken at the city pool.


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


July 13

Michael Krulcik, 28, was served with a warrant at the county jail.


July 14

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


A report of a firearm being found was taken at The Corner store. The firearm has been claimed by the owner.


July 15

A report of harassment was taken from a person at Cruiser’s.


Bobby May, 34, was charged with Possession of Marijuana and served with a warrant after a harassment complaint from someone at Subway.


July 16

A death investigation report was taken at an address on Magnolia Avenue.


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


7-18-22 11:57 AM KAWX.ORG

Polk County Detention Center Inmates

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

This week, I had the honor of hosting a roundtable discussion with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), education experts, and Arkansas educators on our bipartisan, bicameral 21st Century Dyslexia Act, which would codify a federal definition of dyslexia to give schools, parents, and students the tools they need to identify and manage the learning disability. 


In our discussion, we heard from students and adults about their experiences living with dyslexia before and after diagnosis. I was struck by their testimonies of feeling “stupid” and struggling with low self-esteem as they fought to learn to read when the skill came so easily to their peers. After they were diagnosed, however, the students were encouraged that their difficulty reading was not their fault and could be managed with proper care. 


Twenty percent of children are dyslexic, but too often, dyslexia goes undiagnosed, wrongly dismissed as laziness or low intelligence, especially in low-income and minority communities. With proper accommodation, dyslexic students are empowered to reach their greatest potential, in their academic and professional careers. 


The 21st Century Dyslexia Act implements the groundbreaking research of Doctors Bennet and Sally Shaywitz at Yale University’s Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, who also attended the roundtable discussion, to address the chronic underdiagnosis of students and adults with dyslexia.


As a former school board member, the husband of a special education teacher, and co-chair of the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus, I am always looking for ways to implement the science of reading at a young age in schools to best equip all students to not only reach proficiency in reading, but also to excel in all areas of education. Reading is the foundational building block of education, and I am proud to take this important step with my friends in the Senate and across the aisle towards ensuring children are never again dismissed by our education system as they develop these vital skills.


7-15-22 6:17 PM KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

This week we want to remind Arkansans who receive Medicaid coverage to make sure their contact information is up to date.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government temporarily stopped some Medicaid requirements and conditions. This was done to help keep people with Medicaid from losing their health coverage during the pandemic.


However, Arkansas will soon be required to review Medicaid eligibility for people whose coverage was extended due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This means that many Medicaid clients may lose their coverage if they don’t take simple steps now.


The Department of Human Services (DHS) has launched a campaign called Update Arkansas. The agency is working with community partners, advocates, and clients to make sure eligible Arkansans keep getting high quality health care coverage.


It’s important for clients to update their contact information now to avoid possibly losing coverage. Clients need to update their information on the phone, online, or in-person.


Here’s how clients can update their contact information:


  1. Call the Update Arkansas hotline at 1-844-872-2660
  2. Go online at access.arkansas.gov
  3. Visit their local DHS county office to update their information 


Be sure to check the mail. Arkansas Medicaid may mail clients a renewal letter asking them to complete paperwork to make sure they still qualify for Medicaid.


If clients get renewal forms, they should fill them out and send them to Arkansas Medicaid right away to keep their coverage. They can renew quickly online at www.access.arkansas.gov. They can also fill out the renewal forms and mail them back to DHS or drop them off at their local DHS county office.


If clients have any questions, they can call 1-855-372-1084 or visit www.access.arkansas.gov.


DHS needs your help in spreading the message. This mission is too important to do alone. Your social media circle may include people who are Medicaid or ARHome clients or who have kids or grandkids with ARKids coverage. Please help spread the word regarding the importance of updating their information.


7-15-22 4:20 PM KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: Breaking Ground to Honor Veterans

Breaking Ground to Honor Veterans


It’s been more than 30 years since the United States and coalition forces helped liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion. Now, the men and women who served in uniform during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield will soon be recognized with a national memorial honoring their selfless service and sacrifice.


Hundreds of people recently gathered in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the groundbreaking for the tribute.


The site has national significance. In the shadows of the Lincoln Memorial, it appropriately recognizes the sacrifice of those called to serve in our nation’s uniform. The stretch of ground holds a special place in the hearts of Americans. It’s where we honor influential leaders and recognize the leaders who shaped the history of our nation and heroes who defended our ideals.


It’s where America gathers to celebrate Independence Day, commemorate the ingenuity that has made our country great and exercise our freedoms.


When people around the world think of our nation’s capital, they picture the landmarks spread across the backdrop of the National Mall and associate them with what the United States represents. These memorials and monuments stand as shining beacons of hope and the promise of the American dream.


So it’s only fitting for the home of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial to be found there as well.


I championed this bipartisan effort with my friend from Indiana, former Senator Joe Donnelly.


In 2013, we introduced legislation to authorize a national memorial to honor the hundreds of thousands of men and women who fought to defend freedom in the Gulf War including those who made the ultimate sacrifice.


It’s been more than three decades since the war ended. The time has come to ensure we have a dedicated landmark honoring the valor and dedication of our servicemembers and their loved ones. We want these men and women to be able to have a dedicated place of honor to reflect on their mission and those they served alongside.


I’m proud to have played a small role in helping make the memorial a reality, but the hard work was done by those whose service and sacrifice will be memorialized there for generations to come. It will stand as a symbol of reverence to and respect for the veterans and their families, and help teach future generations about this important moment in our nation’s tradition of fighting tyranny. 


It’s critical we reflect on this episode and those who willingly set out to answer this call. 


I was honored to join those who have spent years advocating for this memorial, veterans and their families to mark the occasion and acknowledge the incredible support worldwide to recognize those who served in this mission. We can be proud of the efforts of Arkansans Jeff Kurczek and Brenten Byrd who have helped pave the wave for this monument as National Desert Storm War Memorial board members.


As long as men and women fight and die on behalf of the country we love and the freedoms we espouse, they must never be forgotten or have cause to question our national gratitude. I look forward to the day the site features a completed tribute to America’s Gulf War veterans. They richly deserve it, and our unending thanks, for what they did and all they represent.


7-15-22 4:15 PM KAWX.ORG

USFS Officials Remind Visitors Of Wildfire Dangers

Report wildfires by dialing 911. Polk County, AR, as well as most counties in the state, are under BURN BANS.


With extreme temperatures forecasted for Arkansas and Oklahoma, Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests officials are asking visitors to maintain awareness of increased wildfire risks.


During periods of high temperatures, visitors should use alternatives to campfires, even when there are no restrictions.


“If visitors are going to use campfires, they can reduce wildfire danger by using existing fire rings and ensuring those campfires are completely out,” said Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests Fire and Aviation Staff Officer, Josh Graham. “As the temperatures increase, it is important that the public exercise caution as they enjoy their public lands.”


When traveling through the forests, visitors should never park on dry brush or grass. Heat from the muffler on the bottom of an ATV/UTV or motor vehicle could start fires. Ensure that there is nothing dragging behind vehicles or trailers that could cause sparks and potentially start a fire.


Robert Murphy, Director of Emergency Services for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, recommends taking additional precautions when driving or operating machinery.


“It’s important to remain cautious when driving through or working in dry grass,” Murphy said. “Trucks, ATVs, hay balers, and other vehicles are often hazardous in hot, dry conditions.”


In Oklahoma, state officials are concerned with the drying trend and impact it is having on their fire danger, according to Andy James, the fire management chief for the Oklahoma Forestry Services.


“We are prepared for this situation, staffing seven days a week to provide coverage and protection to the state,” he said. “We will continue coordinated response working with all agencies; fire departments, Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and forest industry and landowners.” 


Before going hiking or camping, check with the forest, grassland or ranger district for fire restrictions or area closures.


For more information, contact the Ouachita National Forest at (501) 321-5202 or the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests at (479) 964-7200.


Online, information can also be obtained on the Ouachita National Forest Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ouachitanf or the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ozarkstfrancis/.


Report wildfires by dialing 911. Polk County, AR, as well as most counties in the state, are under BURN BANS.


7-15-22 4:01 PM KAWX.ORG

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Building a Culture of Reading
LITTLE ROCK – The ability to read well is one of the most crucial skills we can give our students, and today I’d like to encourage you to join in our efforts to build a culture of reading in Arkansas.
Reading is not simply one skill of many that we choose to master. Young people who don’t learn to read well will always struggle in life. Reading changes everything.
We can give our children the gift of reading by providing books at home and reading aloud to them. Children with age-appropriate books at home are more likely to excel academically. When we read to our children, we help them build a broad vocabulary, strengthen language skills, and foster a desire to read.  Their memory of that time spent with parents and grandparents is a bonus.
Dolly Parton, the iconic singer from Tennessee, understands that children must read to succeed. So in 1995, she started the Imagination Library to provide books to children up to the age of five. The Department of Education has partnered with Dolly to provide books to more than 55,000 Arkansas children. Dolly visited the Governor’s Mansion in May to join us for a dinner to celebrate the expansion of Imagination Library into every county in Arkansas, which is an impressive accomplishment.
Just this morning, as I wrapped up my year as Chair of the National Governors Association, Dolly joined us by livestream at our summer meeting in Maine to talk about Imagination Library. As the First Lady points out, the children who receive a book in the mail every month have a new story to read and a reminder that someone cares about them.
Public and school libraries are another important element of a reading culture. Libraries offer books, newspapers, and magazines to readers who might not otherwise be able to afford those materials.
When I was growing up in Gravette and reading Hardy Boys detective books, a trip to the library was as much a part of the reading experience as sitting down with a book.
A resident of Helena once wrote to a Little Rock newspaper editor about the mystique of   Helena’s public library, which “was what a library is supposed to be — dark in the corners, cool air, quiet, a little mysterious, and the wonderful smell of books.”
The road to a reading culture in Arkansas is lined with dozens of libraries, including the four that the railroad tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie paid for in Little Rock, Fort Smith, Morrilton, and Eureka Springs.
Of all the gifts I’d like to leave to Arkansans, a culture of reading is one of the most important. One of our goals has been to ensure that by the time students leave the third grade, they are reading at the third-grade level. To enhance that possibility, the Arkansas Department of Education launched the Reading Initiative for Student Excellence – or RISE. We emphasize phonics and the science of reading.
For Arkansas to continue to prosper, we must build a foundation of readers. Our success depends in large measure on the strength of our collective reading skills.
But it’s more basic than that. I love to read. Literature of all kinds has greatly improved the quality of my life. I want Arkansas’s kids to enjoy books and to read for pleasure as well as education, because we miss so much of life when we don’t.
7-15-22 3:29 PM KAWX.ORG

ARVAC Commodity Distribution in Mena July 20th

Commodities will be distributed Wednesday, July 20th at the Polk County Fairgrounds in Mena 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.


Listed are the income guidelines, family size and monthly income below:







$ 340


$ 17,667


$ 458


$ 23,803


$ 576


$ 29,939


$ 694


$ 36,075


$ 812


$ 42,211


$ 930


$ 48,347


$ 1,048


$ 54,483




$ 60,619

Each additional family member

+ $118

+ $512

+ $6,136


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


Add $512.00 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, at ARVAC, Inc., phone (479)219-5292 or (479)229-4861.


7-15-22 1:54 PM KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

July 15, 2022


LITTLE ROCK – Two interest groups submitted petitions to the Secretary of State seeking to have two proposed constitutional amendments placed on the November general election ballot.


One would legalize marijuana and the other would remove Pope County as a possible site for a gambling casino.


The group seeking to legalize marijuana turned in more than 190,000 signatures. The other group submitted more than 103,000 signatures.


To qualify for a place on the ballot, at least 89,151 signatures of registered voters must accompany the petitions. That represents 10 percent of the number of votes cast in the most recent election for governor.


Also, a required number of signatures must have been gathered in at least 15 counties. In each of the 15 counties the number of signatures must exceed 10 percent of the number of votes cast in that county in the most recent election for governor. This provision prevents an interest group from qualifying a ballot measure by collecting almost all the required signatures in one or two big cities.


The deadline was July 8 for submitting the petitions and signatures with the Secretary of State, whose office examines them to make sure they are valid.


The interest groups may continue collecting signatures for 30 days, to further ensure that they have enough valid ones, as long as their initial submission contained at least 75 percent of the required number. That means at least 66,864 of the original signatures must be valid in order for the interest groups to be able to continue collecting additional signatures.


Also, the Secretary of State submitted the proposed ballot titles and popular names with the state Board of Election Commissioners.


The Board must determine within 30 days of July 8 whether or not the ballot title is misleading. If it does not approve the ballot title the sponsor groups may appeal to the state Supreme Court, which must expedite its decision.


Historically, the state attorney general determined whether or not the ballot title was misleading, and did so before the sponsor groups began collecting signatures. The attorney general could instruct the sponsor groups to submit a different ballot title that was not misleading.


Act 376 of 2019 changed the law to give the Board of Election Commissioners the power to approve ballot titles. If the Board rejects a ballot title the sponsor group may not submit a new one with different language, as they could previously when the attorney general approved ballot titles.


Considering the controversial nature of both proposed amendments, legal challenges can be expected throughout the process. A group in favor of a Pope County casino has already spent more than $1 million to develop a resort with gambling near Russellville.


Arkansas voters approved Amendment 100 in 2018 to allow four casinos in Arkansas. Besides the much disputed Pope County location that has yet to open, they are at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, at Southland in West Memphis and at Saracen in Pine Bluff.

Arkansas voters approved Amendment 98 in 2016 to allow the cultivation and dispensing of medical marijuana. Officials in the Secretary of State’s office who verify signatures said that no one could remember a sponsor group ever surpassing the 190,000 signatures submitted by the sponsors of the recreational marijuana.


7-15-22 10:34 AM KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for July 4th - 10th



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of July 4, 2022 – July 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.


July 4, 2022

Coty Stiers, 32 of Gillham was arrested on a Felony Probation Violation Warrant by an officer with the Grannis Police Department.

Deputies responded to a report of a structure fire at a residence on Polk 647 near Mena.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 35 near Hatfield in reference to damage done to a vehicle. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies were dispatched to a single vehicle accident at the intersection of Polk 21 and Polk 288 near Cove. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 246 E near Vandervoort in reference to a structure fire.


July 5, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of trespassing at a residence near Polk 153 near Hatfield.


July 6, 2022

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

Loyd Bolton, 52 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.


July 7, 2022

No reports filed.


July 8, 2022

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

Deputies responded to a residence on Polk 282 near Hatfield leading to the arrest of Caleb McLellan, 21 of Hatfield on a charge of Public Intoxication and Communicating a False Alarm.


July 9, 2022

Austin Nickles, 24 of Smithville was arrested on charges of DWI and Driving on a DWI Suspended DL.

Deputies responded to a residence on Polk 59 in reference to an unwanted person on the property. Information has been provided to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a business near Hatfield in reference to an Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to an address on Polk 29 near Hatfield in reference to a structure fire.

Deputies responded to a residence on Polk 44 near Mena in reference to a structure fire.


July 10, 2022

A traffic stop on Polk 18 near Vandervoort led to the arrest of Larry Joseph, 44 of Mena on a

Felony Warrant for Possession of a Schedule I or II Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Information has also been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

A traffic stop on Ransom Road near Mena led to the arrest of Amy Evans, 30 of Wickes on charges of 1st Degree Criminal Impersonation, Possession of Methamphetamine or Cocaine, Failure to Carry Vehicle Registration, Driving without Insurance and Probation Violation.


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


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



7-1-22 4:49 PM KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for July 3rd - 9th

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


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



July 3

A report of breaking or entering and criminal mischief was taken at a residence on 4th Street.


Tatum veal, 31, was served with a warrant at Family Dollar.


July 4

A report of criminal mischief was taken at a residence on 7th Street.


July 5

George Trivette, 29, was served with a warrant after contact on Race Track Road.


Yavonne Miller, 57, was served with a warrant at District Court.


Sonja Hernandez, 30, was charged with DWI 2 and Careless Driving after a traffic stop on Amsterdam Street.


Chelsea Roba, 26, was served with a warrant at the county jail.


Steven Huber, 38, was served with a warrant at the county jail.


July 6

A report of a dog bite was taken from a person at Mena Reginal Heath System.


July 7

A death investigation report was taken at a residence on 12th Street.


Michael Phillips, 54, was served with a warrant at the county jail.


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


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


July 8

A report of assault was taken at a residence on Bonner Circle.


July 9

A report of theft was taken from Murphy Oil USA.


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


7-11-22 8:40 AM KAWX.ORG

Polk County Detention Center Inmates 

Ouachita Expressions Show 2022 Winners Announced

“Ouachita Expressions Show 2022”


The Ouachita Expressions Show, is Mena Art gallery’s longest running and most popular regional judged show, it is open to all local artists 14 and up. Ouachita Expressions is a creative outlet for a multitude of mediums. This variety opens up an opportunity for everyone to express and enjoy a large range of artistic talent and true passion. Painting, pencil, ceramic, metal, wood, paper mâché, batik, fiber, photography, and so much more!


The show will be on display in the gallery through August 26th, 2022. When you stop by, please take some time and choose your favorite as you vote for People's Choice. You just do not want to miss coming in to see this show.


Mena Art Gallery will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for this show.


This year’s winners:


Best in Show: “California Coast” by Barbara DuBose


1st Place: “Serendipity” by Tamara Dickson

2nd Place: “Iron Forks Lake” by Henry Moreno

3rd Place: “Bog Buddies” by Steven Knott


Honorable Mentions:

“When Yo Yos Attack”, by Debra Lay

“Primary Colors”, by Jane Brace

“Totem #2”, by Gilda Meyers

“Emerald Darner”, by Avery McGoldrick

“Dimensional Distortion”, by Lonnie Tyler

RL Norris Award “Snow Gaze” by Brittany Matthews


7-10-22 5:50 PM KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column


Summer Road Trip in Arkansas


Summer always brings back memories of my family’s road trips to Petit Jean State Park and other adventures around Arkansas. Whether I was in the back seat as a kid or driving my own daughters, there was always a lot to see and do as we explored the state.


I know many families in Arkansas are making tough choices about vacations this year. It’s harder to visit friends and family, enjoy some downtime on a vacation or transport school-age children to camps and other activities as rampant inflation and record-high gas prices take a bigger bite out of families’ budgets. Still, lots of folks are doing what they’ve always done – finding a way to make things work while creating as little disruption to their normal lives and routines as possible.


I recently took a road trip to see how families and communities are weathering these challenging times. Each stop underscored the strength of our citizens, various challenges and opportunities they’re confronting and the common bonds we all share as proud Americans and Natural State residents.


Traveling to a variety of towns and cities gives me the opportunity to receive updates on important local projects as well as understand more intimately how national issues are playing out in homes and on streets throughout our state. That’s exactly what the Senate’s In-State Work Periods are designed to do and why I aim to hit the road during them.


Touring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hydroelectric power plant in Ozark with Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-4) was a great way to start. Many Arkansans know this site at the Ozark-Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam for its excellent camping and fishing. But, in addition to its role in recreation, the hydropower generated at the Ozark Powerhouse plays a critical role in ensuring the power grid has the capability to support demand, particularly in the summer when power usage peaks.


From there we were off to the races, making stops across western and northern Arkansas. In Mulberry and Pea Ridge, I talked to stakeholders about anti-hunger efforts and policies I’ve championed to ensure students in need have access to healthy meals all year long.


I also made time to speak at the National Be Pro Be Proud conference in Northwest Arkansas. Workforce development and skilled training are only becoming more important, so I’m excited by the model our state is building in this area.


Next, I made my way over to the scenic and vibrant communities of Mountain Home, Fifty-Six, Mountain View and Heber Springs as part of my commitment to sitting down with local officials to discuss concerns and priorities. Joining Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-1) to address the continued closure of Blanchard Springs Caverns to the public with the U.S. Forest Service was an especially important item given the caves are one of our state’s most popular destinations.


After the July Fourth holiday, I set out for the River Valley and Southwest Arkansas for more opportunities to get feedback from businesses, elected officials and community advocates.


In Fort Smith, I talked agriculture policy with a poultry company and then got an update on the preparations at Ebbing Air National Guard Base for the new missions coming to the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 188th Wing, which the congressional delegation worked tirelessly to bring to fruition.


Then we turned the car south on Highway 71 to events in Waldron, De Queen and Texarkana to talk economic development, transportation and health care before heading to central Arkansas to tour a local business poised to mark its 100th anniversary. We closed out the trip at a roundtable to share with Natural State veterans about recently passed initiatives I’ve championed that will improve their benefits and services.


It was a busy, but productive two weeks out and about, listening to and learning from the people of our state. That’s where the solutions to problems come from and there’s no substitute for getting face-to-face for these important conversations.


As summer continues and more Arkansans hit the road, I will be taking their input back to Washington. At a time when we seem to be facing multiple crises directly impacting everyday Americans, that concept is more important than ever.


7-8-22 5:08 PM KAWX.ORG

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Trooper Going the Extra Mile for a Stranded Motorist

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Caught Serving: Trooper Going the Extra Mile for a Stranded Motorist
LITTLE ROCK – Today I am going to tell the story of an Arkansas State Trooper who put his own safety at risk to serve and protect a driver through a good deed that a Weather Channel reporter videotaped and posted online.
The trooper’s action was business as usual for state troopers and police officers. But as the Weather Channel photographer said, you don’t often have the chance to photograph the good work of police officers for others to see.
The trooper that Charles Peek saw in action is Richard Surrette, who patrols in Northwest Arkansas. One day in mid-May, Trooper Surette went to the aid of a driver who was stranded at Mile Marker 78 on Interstate 49 near Rogers.
When Trooper Surrette arrived, Jim Dacus was standing beside his car preparing to change his tire. Troopers are not required to assist with flat tires. They direct traffic and generally ensure the tire changer is safe. But Trooper Surrette says he has changed hundreds of tires. So he changed the tire.
Trooper Surrette, whose father also was in law enforcement, started his career as a Benton County deputy, where he rose to the rank of corporal.
The driver with the flat tire, Jim Dacus, is a 75-year-old veteran who grew up in Wynne and served as an Air Force intelligence officer during the Vietnam War.
By the time Charles Peek happened upon the scene, the tire was changed, but he taped Trooper Surrette talking to Mr. Dacus through the driver’s window, and filmed their smiles and handshake.
Mr. Peek posted the film to his Twitter page with these words: “MUST SEE! I saw Trooper Surrette changing the tire for this motorist. He finished just as I got turned around to video. Police are doing many good things but not often ‘caught’ on video. Thank you, Trooper Surrette!”
State Police Director Colonel Bill Bryant recently spoke to a law enforcement group in Seattle, where Arkansas State Trooper Spencer Morris was honored as a Trooper of the Year. Colonel Bryant noted that 500 Arkansas State Troopers patrol more than 16 thousand miles of state highways every day, and they frequently stop to serve the citizens, whether it’s changing a flat tire or listening for a minute to someone’s concern. They  are part of the fabric that holds local communities together. They are among the best trained law enforcement officers in the country, dedicated and always ready to serve. They set aside risks each day to make their state a safer and better place to call home.
Trooper Morris, by the way, was honored for pursuing a stolen car even after the suspect fired a weapon and shot the trooper in the chest. Fortunately, Trooper Morris was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Even though Trooper Surrette’s assistance was a routine tire change, he knows first-hand that even routine tasks can end badly. Years ago, as a Benton County deputy, he investigated a fatal accident at the same intersection where he helped Mr. Dacus. The victim that night was struck and killed by a car as he changed a flat tire.
Officers protect us because that is what they love to do. They will tell you they are just doing their job. Thank you Richard Surrette, Spencer Morris, and all your co-officers at all levels of law enforcement who care for us by simply doing your job.

7-8-22 5:03 PM KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

This week, we received the Fiscal Year 2022 Revenue Summary. It shows we ended the last fiscal year with the largest surplus in state history.


It is likely we will convene for a special session in August to address additional tax relief.


Fiscal Year 2022 ended on June 30. Net Available General Revenue collections totaled $7.477 billion. That amount was $632.1 million or 9.2% above collections from the previous fiscal year.


It is $1.628 billion in excess of fully funding the Revenue Stabilization Act representing a surplus as defined by our budget process. The previous record for a revenue surplus was Fiscal Year 2021 at approximately $945 million.


Fiscal Year 2022 ended above forecast in all major categories of collections. The largest sources of general revenue are individual income taxes and sales tax.


Individual income tax collections totaled $4.17 billion. That is 5.1% above collections in Fiscal Year 2021.


Sales and Use tax collections totaled $3.15 billion. That is an increase of 9.4% from the previous fiscal year.


Corporate income taxes totaled $837.2 million. That is 28.4% above the previous fiscal year.


In a special session held late last year, the General Assembly passed Act 1 and Act 2, which are identical pieces of legislation that reduce the top income tax rate for individuals from 5.9% to 4.9% incrementally over the next four years. For the tax year that began on January 1, 2022, the top rate was reduced to 5.5%.

The Governor has stated publicly he intends to call another special session the week of August 8. Other items in addition to tax relief may be listed on the call for the special session but will be announced at a later date. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.


We’ve posted the revenue report on our website www.arkansashouse.org.


7-8-22  5:01 p.m.  KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

July 8, 2022


LITTLE ROCK – The governor announced that he would call the legislature into special session on August 8 to consider income tax cuts that would save Arkansas families and businesses almost $700 million when they take effect.


The legislature enacted many of the measures last December during a previous special session. The tax reductions were to be phased in over several years.


Due the enormous size of the state’s budget surplus, the governor’s finance officials and legislative leaders agree that the effective date of many of the planned tax cuts can be moved up by several years.


For example, last December the legislature voted to reduce the top rate for individual income taxes from 5.5 to 4.9 percent by tax year 2025. The new plan is to accelerate the reduction so that the 4.9 percent rate becomes effective retroactively to January 1, 2022.


Making the lower rate effective for this calendar year would save taxpayers about $296 million on next year’s tax bills.


In the August special session legislators will consider a similar plan to move up the effective date of a reduction in the top rate for corporate income taxes. In last December’s special session the legislature voted to lower it from 5.9 to 5.3 percent by 2025.


Accelerating the reduction to 5.3 percent will save Arkansas businesses an estimated $18.5 million next year, $27.8 million the following year and $9.2 million the third year. In other words, accelerating the effective date will lower corporate income taxes by $55.6 million more than the savings enacted last December.


The legislature also will consider changing depreciation rules in Section 179, to save businesses $24.8 million in 2024 and $21.1 million in 2025. After the first five years of being in effect, the change will save businesses an estimated $102.1 million.


Also to be considered will be a temporary income tax reduction for low-income and middle-income families totalling $90 million in tax year 2022.


Under the current code, taxpayers with an income of less than $87,000 will pay 2 percent in income tax for the portion of their income that is between $5,100 and $10,299. The legislature will consider reducing it from 2 percent to nothing. The savings will come next year when Arkansans file their 2022 taxes.


Between now and fiscal year 2027 the total tax savings would be $697 million. There is a consensus that the state can afford that much in tax relief because on June 30 state government ended the 2022 fiscal year with a budget surplus of more than $1.6 billion.


The governor is still preparing the call for the special session, which will list the items for the legislature to consider. He said he may include school safety measures and increased financial commitments to maternal care and adoption services.


The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe vs. Wade immediately outlawed abortion in Arkansas except in cases in which the mother’s life is endangered.


Act 180 of 2019, known as a “trigger law,” was worded to take effect in the event Roe vs. Wade was overturned.


Teacher pay raises will not be considered until the 2023 regular session. By then legislators will have the results of a study that determines how much the state has to fund public schools, in order to comply with the constitution’s mandate that the state provide all children with an adequate education.


7-8-22  2:04 p.m.  KAWX.ORG

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

Stop Pills That Kill

This week, several counties in Texas declared the immigration crisis at our southern border an “invasion,” and Arizona AG Brnovich urged Governor Doug Ducey to do the same. President Joe Biden continues to ignore the crisis and has doubled down on his America Last policies by moving forward with his plan to end Title 42, also known as the Remain in Mexico policy, after the Supreme Court’s ruling last week.

This fiscal year, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is on pace to exceed 2 million detentions. CBP agents are understandably overwhelmed as many smugglers take the opportunity to capitalize on the chaos in order to traffic synthetic opioids across the border. These synthetic drugs are responsible for the tragic deaths of thousands of Americans. In 2021, the CDC reported that an estimated 80,816 overdose deaths were caused by synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, CBP seized 10,586 pounds of fentanyl at the southern border, more than double the amount apprehended in FY 2020.

We must do everything we can to fight this epidemic. That is why I joined Representative Ken Buck (CO-04) in cosponsoring his bill, the Stop Pills That Kill Act. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation, which is sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in the U.S. Senate, seeks to deter narcotics traffickers and strengthen the nationwide fight against fentanyl by implementing new penalties for counterfeit pill production. The bill also instructs the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to create an in-depth plan for stopping the rapid spread of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl or methamphetamine in communities across America. Additionally, it requires the Attorney General, in conjunction with the DEA and Office of National Drug Control, to submit an annual report to Congress on the risks of pills laced with illicit drugs, along with information on efforts to raise public awareness and actions from law enforcement to combat the opioid crisis.

We have seen too many tragedies in Arkansas and across the nation as a result of this deadly drug. We must protect our communities and ensure those who are peddling this poison are met with the strongest deterrents possible. I look forward to seeing the Stop Pills That Kill Act become law soon.


7-8-22 5:53 AM KAWX.ORG

OLT's "Wednesday Night at the Lyric" Returns in July

OLT’s “Wednesday Night at the Lyric” Returns in July


For a number of years, Ouachita Little Theatre hosted a series of “patron parties” which typically featured the screening of popular films representing all movie genres. The pandemic interrupted the regular monthly “movie nights,” as they were often referred to. The OLT Board of Directors has decided to bring back “Wednesday Night at the Lyric” beginning July 20, 6:30 PM at the theatre.


There is one change; instead of once a month, “Wednesday Night at the Lyric” will occur seasonally with the first one appearing this summer. There are plans to host others at the original Lyric Theatre (now known as the Ouachita Little Theatre on Main Street) in the fall and again at Christmas and springtime.


The movie being shown is Silverado, one of the most popular westerns of all time. Released in July of 1985 and directed by Lawrence Kasdan (Return of the Jedi, The Big Chill, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and many others) Silverado stars a host of revered actors. Included in the cast are Kevin Cline, Kevin Costner, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Brian Dennehy, John Cleese, Jeff Goldblum, Linda Hunt and Rosanna Arquette. With it’s sweeping vistas and musical score, it is a treat for the senses. It also boasts a story that will remind you of westerns from a generation before this movie was made. It is both original and a nod to the past, complete with a touch of humor and all the gunfights, stampedes, covered wagons, and galloping horses you would imagine.


Admission is FREE! The concession stand will be open serving hot popcorn, soft drinks and candy at bargain prices. Silverado is rated PG-13, with some western style violence, some salty language, and a saloon girl or two making an appearance. But all adults and families with older children will most likely enjoy this summer movie in an air-conditioned vintage theater; a pleasant way to spend a Wednesday July evening with your friends and family.


7-8-22 5:47 AM KAWX.ORG

United States Flags to Half-Staff Immediately Until Sunset on Saturday, July 9, 2022

Proclamation on Honoring The Victims Of The Tragedy In Highland Park, Illinois
   As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of gun violence perpetrated on our Independence Day, July 4, 2022, in Highland Park, Illinois, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, July 9, 2022. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.
7-5-22 1:23 PM KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Log for June 27th - July 3rd



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of June 27, 2022 – July 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.


June 27, 2022

Billy Fletcher, 35 of Mena was arrested on three Felony Failure to Appear Warrants.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 375 E near Mena in reference to the complainant receiving threatening messages.


June 28, 2022

Deputies responded to a structure fire at a residence on Hillcrest Lane near Acorn.


June 29, 2022

Deputies responded to a structure fire on Polk 286 near Hatfield.

Edwin Mendoza, 25 of Louisiana was arrested by an officer with the Drug Task Force on a charge of 2nd Degree Criminal Impersonation.


June 30, 2022

Tyler Crider, 30 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Rape.

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

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Garvin Lane near Mena in reference to a welfare check.

A traffic stop on Hwy 4 near Cove led to the arrest of Cash Parker, 20 of Mena on a charge of Underage DWI. Also, arrested was Travis Parker on warrants.


July 1, 2022

While on patrol on Hwy 71 near Hatfield, deputies encountered a vehicle with no headlights resulting in a traffic stop leading to the arrest of Leon Jordan on five misdemeanor warrants. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.


July 2, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a disturbance at a residence on Polk 602 near Shady. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to being harassed.

Bradley Crawford, 27 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Probation Violation.


July 3, 2022

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to being harassed.


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.



7-5-22 10:53 AM KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for June 26th - July 2nd

Mena Police Department reports for the week of June 26th - July 2nd, 2022


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


June 26

Bradley Crawford, 27, was served with a warrant at Walmart.


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


A report of violation of a no contact order was taken at a residence on Bert Street.


Alexander Cernoga, 33, was charged with Assault, Public Intoxication, Disorderly Conduct, Possession of Schedule 6 Controlled Substance, and Littering after a disturbance call to Walmart.


June 27

Paul Horner, 65, was charged with Assault after a disturbance call to Griffith Park Road.


Debra Stepiens, 60, was served with two warrants after a disturbance call to Marion Avenue.


June 28

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


Brandon Rose, 24, was charged with Public Intoxication and served with a warrant after contact on Highway 71.


June 29

No report.


June 30

No report


July 1

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


July 2

Brittany Mendel, 32, was charged with Disorderly Conduct, Public Intoxication, Resisting Arrest, Possession of Marijuana, and served with a warrant after a disturbance call at Executive Inn.


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


7-5-22 8:38 AM KAWX.ORG

Polk County Detention Center

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address:  Independence Day at Arkansas State Parks

LITTLE ROCK – Today I’d like to talk about the Fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Arkansas, the state with enough lakes, rivers, hiking trails, and outdoor festivals to accommodate 3 million Arkansans and visitors as we celebrate the 246 years of our Nation’s independence. And of particular importance, is our beautiful state parks.


The Arkansas State Park System, which will turn 100 next year, is one of the best benefits of living in the Natural State. The system attracts families and companies that are considering a move to Arkansas.


Petit Jean, Arkansas’s first state park, opened in 1923 when the Fort Smith Lumber Company decided that the area was too difficult for logging. Dr. T.W. Hardison, the Arkansas-born doctor who was the company’s physician, suggested preserving the area as a park. The National Park System declined because the area wasn’t large enough. But Arkansas’s General Assembly liked the idea, and legislators established Petit Jean State Park in 1923.


In the 99 years since,  Dr. Hardison’s effort to preserve one forest has expanded to 52 state parks. Employees of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps built many of the trails and cabins, and much of the infrastructure during the Great Depression.


Arkansas state parks offer experiences for adventurers at all levels. You can explore the culture and spirit of Arkansas at the Ozark Folk Center, and listen to the musicians who play late into the night on Mountain View’s square. You can watch the sunset at Sunset Point on Mount Nebo, learn Arkansas history at the Arkansas Post Museum, float the river at Cossatot River State Park, or learn to smith a knife at Historic Washington State Park, where James Bowie, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett passed on their travels.


The state park system was designed to ensure that Arkansans could always explore the beauty of the outdoors and history, not far from their backyard. That’s why there is a state park within 60 miles of every Arkansan home. So you’re never too far from experiencing what makes Arkansas great!


The State Parks are offering a variety of ways to spend the Fourth of July: At Historic Washington State Park, a reading of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence with Mr. Jefferson in full Revolutionary garb; at Lake DeGray, a Freedom Fun Run; and at our first state park, Petit Jean, the annual 4th of July Fun and Games Day includes a Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest and wheelbarrow races.


For those who like to set goals or keep track of their travels, we offer a State Park Passport that you can have stamped at the visitor’s center at every park.


Through the hard work of thousands of people, our state parks have achieved Dr. Hardison’s vision and aspirations. Our parks preserve the history, culture, and beauty of our natural state, and offer us a place to experience the beauty of our state every day of the year, and on special days such as the Fourth of July.

7-1-22 4:01 PM KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Congressional Award: Recognizing Tomorrow’s Leaders


If you’re like me, there were few days on the calendar that I looked forward to more than the last day of school when I was young. As a parent, I understand how challenging the summer months are to keeping kids busy. Communities offer specialized programs to engage youth through public library reading programs, sports camps and Boys and Girls Clubs. For young people aiming to challenge themselves and make a difference in the lives of others, there is the Congressional Award. 


The Congressional Award program is a worthwhile experience for Arkansans interested in improving themselves and their community. It serves as motivation for young citizens to get involved in public service and inspires the next generation of leaders. The Congressional Award creates a valuable opportunity for our youth to highlight their potential by setting goals and being rewarded for reaching their potential.


Established by Congress in 1979, the Congressional Award recognizes the achievements of young individuals who accomplish dedicated commitments through public service. This is the highest honor presented by Congress to America’s youth. Participants in this program earn bronze, silver, and gold certificates and medals based on their achievements. Each specific award requires setting goals in four different program areas: voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition and exploration.


Across the country, young Americans are setting ambitions goals, learning valuable skills and making a difference in their communities as they meet the requirements for the Congressional Award. From its most recent report of engagement, the Congressional Award Foundation found youth actively involved in the program have volunteered more than 970,300 hours of public service including more than 8,400 by Arkansas participants.


We can be proud of the young Arkansans who are challenging themselves, improving their community and achieving their goals.


This year, Etana Morse of West Fork has earned the prestigious honor of the Congressional Award Gold Medal for her completion of 400 hours of voluntary public service, 200 hours of personal development, 200 hours of physical fitness and completion of an exploration trip.


Serving as a member of the Washington County 4-H Youth Development Club, and also creating a fundraiser campaign to support a non-profit organization, Etana is making a positive impact in her community while challenging herself.


She is one of nine Arkansans who have earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal since 2020.


Nationwide, more than 50,000 youth are setting ambitious goals and taking actions to reach them all while demonstrating that personal growth goes hand-in-hand with serving others.


I’ve seen the excitement surrounding the Congressional Award and the unique opportunities it offers young people. In recent years, the Congressional Award has partnered with 4-H and other youth organizations to encourage involvement and setting challenging goals. 


7-1-22 3:12 PM KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Research has shown that 90 percent of a person’s brain develops in the first five years of life.


That is why a child’s experiences and relationships during that time are critically important. Reading not only engages children and boosts brain development, but it also helps children and parents and children bond.


This year the Department of Human Services launched the “10 Minutes Matter” reading campaign.


Studies have shown that reading just one short book every day to a young child can increase their vocabulary by 300,000 words. 


Reading creates a wonderful bonding experience between parent and child starting at birth. It stimulates the imagination and expands children’s knowledge of the world. It also strengthens social and emotional development by teaching them words to express their feelings.


Reading to your child for just 10 minutes a day can make a big difference and it is never too early to start.


For families with limited resources, there are several ways to get books a little to no cost.


The Arkansas Imagination Library works in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to send every child in Arkansas from birth to age 5 a new book each month. The books are free of cost and age-appropriate.


Research has shown that a child with 25 books in their home complete an average of two additional years of schooling compared to their peers without books in their home. The goal of the Arkansas Imagination Library is that every kindergartner begins school with 60 books in their home. 


You can also check out books from your local library. We have posted a link to a map of all libraries in the state as well as a link to the Arkansas Imagination Library website on our website at www.arkansashouse.org.


7-1-22 3:09 PM KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

Stare Capitol Week In Review From Senator Larry Teague

July 1, 2022


LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas School Safety Commission is meeting frequently in order to have an initial report ready for the governor and legislators by August 1.


The commission has been charged with updating its original report, which was issued in November of 2018.


At its most recent meeting the commission chair encouraged more school districts to form behavioral assessment teams. In its 2018 report the commission urged schools to create teams. They would include an administrator, a faculty member, a school resource officer, a mental health professional, a school counselor, teachers and coaches.


Schools already have the resources to form behavior assessment teams. The challenge is to get the various school officials and resource officers to communicate as a team.


If a school does not have a behavioral assessment team, information about a troubled student may not be acted on because it doesn’t reach the right person. For example, a teacher may not share it with a mental health professional out of concern for the student’s privacy.


The commission heard from a former Secret Service agent and member of the National Security Council, who has expertise in recognizing behavior that could become violent.


If faculty notice a change in behavior, such as a sharp decline in grades or personal hygiene, they can help the student get counseling before the student gets to a point of desperation, or suicide.


Laws that protect a student’s privacy prevent teachers and staff from divulging grades and school records, but it should not prevent them from sharing what they observe with other school officials.


The former Secret Service agent told the commission that for assessments to be accurate, it’s important that information about a student come from more than one person. If a teacher notices a change in behavior, a technical expert can review the student’s social media accounts for threatening messages. A counselor or mental health professional can ask the student to visit. Former teachers can be asked if they witnessed any behaviors that concerned them.


The agent said that in her experience, if only one person contributes to the assessment, it can go wrong.


In addition to creating behavior assessment teams, schools should set up a system for receiving anonymous tips. The administration should send a clear message to the student body that the system is not meant to get someone in trouble, but to provide help.


The former Secret Service agent said that “a lot of these are suicides with collateral damage.”


In many school shooting cases, the gunman had been a victim of bullying, she said. She told the commission about a school violence case in which a student had been bullied and his mother reported it to school officials, but they dismissed her concerns. They also didn’t take seriously enough reports that the student said things that frightened other students. They recommended suspension from school rather than a referral to a mental health professional.


The Arkansas School Safety Commission was first formed after a mass killing of students in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. The governor reformed the group after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.


In future meetings the commission will work on changes to buildings and facilities, and on law enforcement.


7-1-22  9:50 a.m.  KAWX.ORG