KAWX News Archives for 2022-11

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas lawmakers have begun pre-filing bills in advance of the 2023 legislative session, which begins on January 9.

At the beginning of the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, two bills had been pre-filed by senators and 10 bills had been pre-filed by members of the House of Representatives.

 

The first two bills filed were Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 1002, which are identical versions of legislation to reform parole laws and require truth in sentencing. They are so-called “shell bills” because at this point they only contain a title and a paragraph that outlines their general purpose.

 

Public safety will be a major issue during the 2023 session. The legislature is expected to consider proposals to add space in state prisons, particularly for inmates in maximum security units.

 

Also expected are measures to tighten parole regulations, because of the growth in the number of serious crimes committed by inmates out of prison on parole. Truth in sentencing laws provide jurors with more accurate estimates of the length of prison sentences, and can be written to focus on repeat, violent offenders.

 

During criminal trials juries may sentence an offender to a lengthy sentence, but he serves only a portion of the original sentence because it gets shortened for good behavior.

 

In September the Department of Correction announced that it would release 369 male inmates on parole over 90 days because of a lack of space. In May the department released 387 inmates, using a state law known as the Emergency Powers Act that authorizes it to reduce prison overcrowding.

 

Capacity in state prisons is about 15,000, and on an average day an additional 2,000 convicted offenders are held in county jails waiting for space to become available in a state unit. The cost of holding state inmates in county jails has long been an issue between county officials and the state.

 

County sheriffs would like higher reimbursements for each inmate they must house. Also, sheriffs have told lawmakers they are now holding more serious offenders than in the past, which creates more danger of violence for deputies, staff and people being held in in jail on minor charges.

 

Four House bills would require Medicaid to cover more procedures. One House bill would affect businesses that subsidize expenses for employees who leave the state to get an abortion. The bill would require those businesses to also provide 16 weeks of paid maternity leave.

 

The sponsor said that the bill was meant to discourage attempts to circumvent the strong anti-abortion laws in Arkansas.

HB 1004 would require sex offender registration to include more details about the offender’s physical address, such as apartment numbers and suite numbers. It also would require more details about the address of the employer of the sex offender, if he has a job.

 

The numbering of pre-filed House and Senate bills began with “2” because in each chamber the first bill is traditionally an appropriation to authorize paying the expenses of the session.

 

Two years ago, HB 1001 appropriated $1.975 million for House expenses and SB 1 appropriated $1.35 million for Senate expenses of the 2021 regular session. They included salaries of legislators and staff, maintenance and operations.

 

11-25-22 10:40 AM KAWX.ORG

 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Addres: Thankful

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Thankful

 

To listen to Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address, click anywhere on this line, then click on the play button.

 

LITTLE ROCK – Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and reflect on the things with which we’ve been blessed. As I look back on the past year, I know I have plenty of reasons to be thankful this holiday season.

 

One of the greatest blessings is the ability to live in the United States of America. People from around the world look to our nation as the beacon of hope and freedom, and thousands of immigrants come to our shores each year. The freedoms we have from the right to worship, to the right to assembly with others, are all God-given rights that our Constitution protects.

 

I’m also thankful to live in the Natural State with our beautiful landscape. From the majestic Boston Mountains, down through the Ouachitas, across timberland of South Arkansas, and up the Delta, our state has breathtaking scenery in all four corners. The beauty of our state is one reason in enjoy hiking, duck hunting, and canoeing.

 

While the natural beauty of our state is incredible, the true gem of Arkansas are its people. Arkansans love their community and nation. They wake up each day to make an honest living to provide for themselves and their neighbors in times of need. The people of Arkansas are charitable and generous, always willing to help those around them.

 

As I reflect on the past year, I’m reminded of a rare December tornado that came through Northeast Arkansas. As this storm headed directly for a nursing home in Trumann, the staff worked to ensure their residents were protected from the fierce winds and rain. Because of their quick action, these residents were able to escape with very minimal loss of life.

 

But above these things, I’m abundantly thankful for God’s providence and guiding light. His instruction provides direction to me throughout my days, and His love and mercy are a source of strength.

 

As we gather this week to celebrate the blessings in our life, I hope you will reflect on your life and things for which you’re thankful. Time with our loved ones is always precious, and I hope all Arkansans will take to rest and enjoy their Thanksgiving.

 

11-25-22 10:40 AM KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Why the Farm Bill Matters to Everyone

 

When my daughters were growing up they were very active in 4-H and would show livestock we raised on our property in Benton County. To help develop their handling skills, the girls would put harnesses on the lambs and walk them on the sidewalks around town. This drew many curious looks, and with surprising frequency, questions about what breed of dog the girls were walking.

 

I mention this anecdote because, even in Arkansas, many people don’t have a strong connection to, or understanding of, agriculture.

 

For most Americans, getting food for the family starts and ends with going to the grocery store or a restaurant. They often are unaware of all the work that went into preparing that product on the shelf or the plated meal a server brings to the table.

 

That perception may be beginning to change. As a result of the pandemic, our understanding of what it takes to get food from farms to consumers has increased and fostered a greater appreciation for the hardworking men and women around the country who produce it. While some items were hard to find at the onset of the pandemic, we never slipped into a catastrophic national food shortage. Our agriculture community stepped up and made sure we had high-quality food to meet our nutritional needs.

 

As we begin to draft the next farm bill, it is important that we share stories of why this legislation matters. When the pandemic shut the world down, the hardworking men and women who make up our agriculture community were among those who kept on working. They have to ensure Americans have meat, fruits and vegetables for our plates in good times and bad. Not only do they have to overcome economic challenges—such as record high input costs, supply chain bottlenecks and labor shortages—but they also must navigate those brought on by Mother Nature—hurricanes, floods and droughts—which seem to happen with more frequency and force each season.

 

Agriculture policy may be complex, and debates about food policy may get less attention than other hot button issues, but these decisions matter to all of us. Recent events have reminded us we cannot find ourselves in a position where we are dependent on other nations for our food supply. Congress has a responsibility to pass a farm bill that ensures our family farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to succeed.

 

The Senate Agriculture Committee review of each title of the current farm bill is underway in earnest. We recently held our first farm bill hearing on Capitol Hill to review the rural development and energy programs authorized by the legislation. We will continue evaluating each section of the current bill to take an up-close look at the effectiveness of, and opportunities to improve, this critical safety net for rural America.?

 

While the world is in a very different place than it was when we last wrote farm bill, our goal remains the same. We must strengthen American agriculture for any situation we face in the future. If we do that, our farmers will continue to do what they have always done: provide the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply on earth.

 

11-25-22 10:45 AM KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

When you choose to shop at a small business you are choosing to invest in your community. It is estimated that for every $100 spent in a local business, $68 recirculates and remains in the local economy.

 

Local businesses are owned by people who live in your community. They donate to local causes and employ local people. In fact, 47.2% of employees in Arkansas work for a small business.

 

Saturday, November 26, 2022, is Small Business Saturday. It’s a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities.  There are more than 260,000 small businesses in Arkansas. These businesses employ close to 500,000 Arkansans.

 

More than 43% of small businesses in Arkansas are owned by women. Veterans own 9.1% of small businesses and minorities 13% of small businesses in the state.

 

These owners took a chance on their dreams. As a result, the employees are more likely to be personally invested in the products or services they are selling. That often means they can provide more specific product expertise and a personalized shopping experience.

 

Whether it’s handcrafted jewelry or vintage furniture, locally-owned businesses are also more likely to offer unique merchandise.

 

The Arkansas General Assembly continually reviews proposals to make it easier to open and sustain small businesses. In recent years, we’ve reduced the red tape on licensing procedures, lowered taxes, and improved infrastructure. As we approach the 2023 Regular Session, supporting our small businesses will continue to be a priority.

 

Your small purchase this holiday season can make a big difference. Our small business owners are still emerging from a challenging economic time in our history. We encourage you to shop local throughout this holiday season.

 

11-25-22 10:40 AM KAWX.ORG

Mena Water Main Flushing Starts November 28th

Mena Water Utilities will again be conducting our bi-annual water main flushing program during the week of November 28th through December 2, 2022.  

 

Mena Water has scheduled the lines on the south side of Highway 71 including the Nunley and Board Camp areas for flushing on Monday and Tuesday.  On Wednesday and Thursday, the lines on the north side of Highway 71 are scheduled to be flushed.  

 

Flushing is done as a part of a scheduled preventative maintenance program to help maintain good water quality and to improve the water flow in the water distribution system. As Mena Water flushes your area, you may experience a temporary reduction in water pressure.  You may also see some color and/or sand in your water, or you may notice a slight change in the taste and odor of your water.  These conditions are normal during flushing activities, and only temporary.  If you should experience any of these changes, or if you see some cloudiness or rust color in your water, Mena Water recommends that you refrain from washing light colored laundry; likewise, we recommend that you flush the pipes of your home or business. Flushing of your home or business's pipes is accomplished by opening your front outside hose bib until it runs clear and has no noticeable taste or odor. Mena Water regrets any inconvenience the flushing may cause you.  If you have any questions or if you experience any persistent water quality problems as a result of this maintenance program, please call Mena Water Utilities at 479-394-2761.

 

11-21-22 2:11 PM KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for November 13th - 19th

Mena Police Department reports for the week of November 13th through November 19th, 2022

 

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

 

November 13

A report of forgery was taken at Murphy USA.

 

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

 

Dax Wood, 26, was served with four warrants at the police department.

 

November 14

A report of a missing person was taken at a residence on Hamilton Avenue.

 

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

 

November 15

A report of inadequate supervision was taken at a residence on Meadowbrook Drive.

 

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

 

Joshua Graham, 32, was charged with Driving on Suspended License and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

A report of assault and reckless driving was taken on Highway 71.

 

November 16

A report of violation of a no-contact order was taken by a walk-in complainant.

 

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

 

November 17

Thomas Chesser, 58, was charged with Violation of Interlock Device, and No Vehicle License after a traffic stop on Mena Street.

 

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

 

A report of theft of property was taken from Walmart.

 

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

 

Bradley Brumfield, 32, was charged with Theft of Property at Wal-Mart.

 

November 18

A report of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia was taken after a traffic stop on North Reine Street.

 

November 19

 

No report.

 

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

 

11-21-22 9:31 AM KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Log for November 14th - 20th

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of November 14, 2022 – November 20, 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.

 

November 14, 2022

A report of a vehicle accident on Polk 44 near Mena led to the arrest of Jeffery Parnell, 61 of Mena on four Felony Failure to Appear Warrants.

A report of a physical domestic disturbance at a residence on Polk 122 near Mena led to the arrest of Kaylie Stroud, 26 of Mena on three Failure to Appear Warrants, a charge of Violation of a no Contact Order and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Also arrested was Cody Thornton, 30 on a charge of Fleeing on Foot.

Deputies were dispatched to a business near Cove in reference to shoplifting leading to the arrest of Joshua Heifner, 21 of Hatfield on charges of Possession of a Schedule VI Controlled Substance, Resisting Arrest, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Theft of Property and three warrants for Failure to Appear. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 76 E near Acorn in reference to a disturbance. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a report of stolen guns from a residence on Polk 67 near Big Fork.

 

November 15, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 88 E near Cherry Hill in reference to a Physical Domestic Disturbance leading to the arrest of Chad Thornton, 31 of Mena on a charge of 3rd Degree Domestic Battery, Carolyn Thornton, 32 of Mena on a charge of 3rd Degree Domestic Battery and Tammy Smith of Mena on a charge of Obstructing Governmental Operations.

Stacey Burnett, 36 of Mena was arrested on six Felony Warrants.

 

November 16, 2022

Deputies responded to a residence on Hatton Lane near Wickes in reference to Harassment.

Deputies responded to a report of Harassment.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to Financial Identity Fraud.

Deputies responded to a residence on Polk 56 near Nunley in reference to trespassers.

 

November 17, 2022

No reports.

 

November 18, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hatton Lane near Wickes in reference to a dispute among neighbors leading to the arrest of Alexander Cernoga, 34 of Cove on a misdemeanor warrant for Failure to Appear. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 270 near Acorn in reference to a trespasser.

 

November 19, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to an area on Polk 95 near Rocky in reference to a wrecked and abandoned vehicle.

 

November 20, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 70 near Cherry Hill in reference to a chimney fire.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to a violation of an order of protection. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 75 near Acorn in reference to a trespasser leading to the arrest of Anthony Robertson on a charge of Criminal Trespassing. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 18 Incarcerated Inmates, with 14 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

11-21-22 9:23 AM KAWX.ORG 

Southwest Artist 2023 Photography Show Announced

The Mena Art Gallery/Southwest Artists 2023 Photography Show will be bigger than ever this year, with cash prizes totaling well over $1,000. 

According to Lisa Keeling, Mena Art Gallery/Southwest Artists Executive Director, the 2023 show will be bigger than ever as there will be an additional youth division (ages 14-18) added for 2023. 

“The name of this division is ‘Bikes in Our Lives’ and the focus will be, of course, on bikes!” noted Keeling. 

“We want to give young adult photographers a chance to showcase their creativity by showing us how bikes affect their lives,” she added. 

Keeling noted that more and more young adults are discovering cycling and that mountain bikes and street bikes are becoming more popular than ever in Mena and Ouachita Mountains. 

Photo submissions for the 2023 Mena Art Gallery/Southwest Artists Photography Show are due February 18 and the photos will be exhibited at the gallery show  February 22 through March 15. 

The exciting awards reception will be held February 25 at which time winners will receive their prizes. 

For more information and submission rules and an application, please visit the Mena Art Gallery website at SouthwestArtists.org. or visit us on Facebook or email the gallery at email@menaartgallery.org or call 479-394-3880.  

 

11-20-22 5:14 PM KAWX.ORG 

CLICK IT OR TICKET: RAMPED-UP ENFORCEMENT OF SEAT BELT LAW SET FOR THANKSGIVING WEEK

Arkansas law enforcement officers plan to bolster their patrol assignments aimed at violators who are not buckled-up while traveling on local streets and state highways during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday period.
 
  State troopers, local police and sheriff’s deputies are following the lead of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) high visibility Click It or Ticket seat belt awareness campaign which is intended to reduce the number of fatalities that occur when motorist fail to buckle-up.  The concerted campaign by law enforcement begins next Monday (November 21st) and continues through Sunday night (November 27th).
 
 During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend of 2020 (6 PM Wednesday, November 25, to 5:59 AM, November 30), there were 333 passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes across the nation.  More than half the victims (52%) were not wearing a seatbelt.  Additionally, nighttime has proven to be more deadly than daytime, with 67% of Thanksgiving weekend fatal crashes occurring at night. The deaths were needless tragedies for families across America that may have been prevented with the simple click of a seat belt.
 
  “Properly using a seat belt in a moving vehicle isn’t just a suggestion, it’s the law,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Wherever you travel, short distances or long, you must wear a seat belt.  It’s your best defense if involved in a crash and may mean the difference between life and death.  This Thanksgiving, and every day of the year, remember, Click It or Ticket.”
 
  For more information about highway safety during this Thanksgiving holiday, please visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.
 
11-18-22 5:32 PM KAWX.ORG

Mena Art Gallery 2023 Garage Sale

Mena Art Gallery 2023 Garage Sale

 

Mena Art Gallery is having a 3 Week FUNDAISER Art Supply Garage Sale!

 

When: Drop off items at the Gallery, 607 Mena Street, Tuesday, January 3, 2023

 

Sale Dates: January 4 – January 21, 2023

 

What: WHAT is acceptable for this Garage Sale? Unused (or gently used) art supplies of all types. Artwork carriers, fabric, yarn, clay and tools, molds, canvas, paintbrushes, open-but-useable tubes of paint, colored pencils . . . if you are uncertain, just ask us! Also acceptable is completed artwork, framed or not, mats and frames, as well as any completed items of the type we would sell in the Gift Shop. All items must be CLEAN and USEABLE. We reserve the right to reject anything deemed unsuitable.

How can I help?

DONATE items for the sale. Clean out your closets and craft room.

SHOP the sale! Someone else’s donation may be your new hobby.

All proceeds will be considered as donations to the Mena Art Gallery.

No items will be returned.

All items should be brought to Mena Art Gallery, 607 Mena Street, on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, between 10 AM and 3 PM unless prior arrangements are made with the executive director. If you have questions, please call the gallery at 479-394-3880 or Lynn Greenwade, at 479-234-5440.

 

Non-members are welcome to contribute donated items to the sale. Please tell your friends & neighbors. The Mena Art Gallery is most grateful for your donations. The proceeds will help us to keep offering art to the Ouachitas.

HOURS: Wednesday – Saturday 10 - 3

607 Mena Street

479-394-3880

email@menaartgallery.org

 

11-18-22 5:16 PM KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Did you know that more than 12% of all turkeys produced in the United States are raised right here in Arkansas? Arkansas produces 27 million turkeys per year and ranks third in the nation in turkeys raised.

 

But that’s not the only popular Thanksgiving dish that may have started its journey on an Arkansas farm.

 

Arkansas is the 4th largest producer of sweet potatoes and our state ranks 6th in the nation in the acreage of pecans.

In the last year, Arkansas farmers harvested more than 690,000 acres of corn.

 

Arkansas currently ranks 11th in the nation in soybean production, producing more than 150 million bushels last year valued at $2 billion.

 

Soybean oil is used to make hundreds of foods, including mayonnaise, peanut butter, and ranch dressing. These special ingredients may be the secret to pulling off the perfect pumpkin pie, casserole, and stuffing.

 

From casseroles to rice pudding, another Arkansas crop makes its way to the Thanksgiving table every year.

 

Arkansas ranks first among rice-producing states, accounting for more than 40 percent of U.S. rice production.

 

Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, providing more than $19 billion in value to Arkansas’s economy every year. There are 49,346 farms statewide and 97 percent of Arkansas farms are family-owned.

 

So as you gather around the table with family and friends next week, we encourage you to think about the men and women who helped bring your meal to the table. Arkansas farmers made not only your meal but countless meals across the country possible.

 

You can help show your appreciation to our Arkansas farmers and food service workers by looking for the “Arkansas Grown” label at your local supermarket.

 

11-18-22 5:07 PM KAWX.ORG 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Addres: An Arkansas Tradition Unlike Any Other

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: An Arkansas Tradition Unlike Any Other

 

To listen to Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address, click anywhere on this line, then click on the play button.

 

LITTLE ROCK – This weekend begins a special tradition in the Natural State, and today I’d like to talk about what this means to me and our state.

 

Arkansas duck season begins this Saturday, and hunters from around the world migrate to our flooded timber and farm fields for this annual event. The rich tradition of duck hunting has united Arkansas families for generations and creates memories that last a lifetime.

 

But duck season in Arkansas provides more than memories and food on the table. Duck hunting contributes to our state’s economy and provides jobs for Arkansans.

 

The Duck Capital of the World is located about an hour away from Little Rock in Stuttgart. Their local Chamber of Commerce estimates duck hunting brings in over $1 million per day of duck season every year. Hunters are coming to Arkansas to eat at our restaurants, shop at our stores, and stay in our hotels for the chance to hunt our legendary flooded green timber public land.

 

These hunters have plenty of reasons to visit Arkansas besides hunting our public land. Each year, the Wings Over the Prairie Festival is hosted in downtown Stuttgart. The week-long festival has something for everyone in the family. Pageants, a carnival, the duck gumbo cook-off, and of course, the World's Championship Duck Calling Contest are all part of this celebration of duck hunting in Arkansas.

 

As a native of the hills of Northwest Arkansas, duck hunting has not always been a part of my life like it has been for those raised in the Delta. But as I take my children and grandchildren to see the sun break over flooded timber, I’m reminded of how special and unique Arkansas is. I’ll never forget seeing the joy on his face when my grandson took his first banded duck a few years ago.

 

Part of being a responsible hunter is conserving the resources we hold dear for generations to come. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission works tirelessly to ensure the habitat in our state is not only ready to host the millions of migrating ducks heading south, but that it can sustain them for generations to come.

 

The memories created and lessons learned in a duck blind will often follow us throughout our life. Patience, discipline, and preparation all play a part in a successful hunt and a successful life. As we set our alarms for earlier than normal this weekend, I want to wish our duck hunters a safe and happy Opening Day. Hopefully you plan on having some jalapeno duck poppers with your Thanksgiving feast, because I know I will.

 

11-18-22 4:00 PM KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Giving Thanks for Arkansas Adoption Champions

 

Our country is shaped by individuals who take initiative to serve others. In Arkansas, we can give thanks for all these givers who are willing to serve causes greater than themselves.

 

Two individuals who embody this ideal are Monticello’s Hiller and Marilyn Suber. The couple opened their home and hearts to Arkansas teens in need of a loving and safe place to live more than 20 years ago. Since then, they have welcomed more than 350 young Arkansans in the foster care system into their life and mentored them to stability and success. The Subers were recently recognized by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) as 2022 Angels in Adoption.

 

Since 2001, CCAI has played a vital role in eliminating barriers standing between orphaned and foster children becoming part of a loving family. Through its signature public awareness program, Angels in Adoption, CCAI annually recognizes outstanding individuals, families and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to adoption and child welfare.

 

In Arkansas, we are fortunate to have many other angels. Like the Subers, families and organizations all across our state are working to ensure children can live their best lives.

 

Hundreds of kids in our state are waiting for a permanent home. As part of National Adoption Month, in mid-November, 15 children were united with a loving family during an adoption celebration in Pulaski County.

 

As a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, I am pleased to support efforts in Arkansas and all across the country that put love into action and make a positive impact on the wellbeing of children.

 

I’ve championed legislation in the Senate to expand the ability of families to welcome children into a permanent home. This is often a costly process, which is why I cosponsored the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act. This legislation would make the existing federal tax credit for adoption expenses fully refundable so it’s more affordable for families to expand through adoption.

 

In recent years, the Arkansas legislature has taken action to decrease the number of children in foster care. Programs like The CALL and Project Zero help place children in loving homes, while facilities like the Young Children’s Home provide a family atmosphere for many young people and prevent them from being moved far away or separated from their siblings while in foster care. 

 

We are blessed to have families like the Subers who are setting an amazing example for others across Arkansas and the nation. As we join with our family and friends around the Thanksgiving table, let us consider the call to serve the children around our state and across the nation in need of a forever home.

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column: Give Thanks for Arkansas Farmers

Give Thanks for Arkansas Farmers

It is no secret to most Arkansans that poultry is a major driver of the economy in the Natural State, but did you know that Arkansas’ Fourth District is also one of the nation’s top producers of Thanksgiving turkeys? 

This Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful for the meaningful contribution of Arkansas’ Fourth District to the nation’s economy. From Thanksgiving turkeys to timber, America relies on Arkansas farmers, producers, and ranchers to provide many of the basic goods enjoyed by Americans every day. Our agriculture workers never get a day off. Through rain, sleet, hail, and heat, farmers take care of their animals and their crops, often with little thanks or recognition. It is only because of their hard work that we have bursting grocery stores and enough left over to export around the world.

I will never forget visiting the farm of a Fourth District constituent last year on my yearly agriculture tour. In the middle of the tour, his neighbor and fellow farmer, who had joined the tour, got news that his crop was completely destroyed in a passing hailstorm. The crop was scheduled to be harvested in the next couple of days. The farmer was distraught telling me about how this meant he would be unable to pay back his loan. This is farmers’ hard reality. Their livelihoods are at the mercy of the elements.

Besides the usual risks, farmers and producers have faced serious challenges over the past two years in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, a supply chain crisis, low labor engagement, and high inflation. High input costs have put significant strain on their businesses and forced farmers to raise their prices. I am committed to supporting farmers at the federal level however possible, including introducing bills in the 118th Congress to unleash American energy independence and bring down energy costs. While one party rule in Washington, D.C., has made it impossible to bring these bills to the floor for consideration, I have made it one of my top priorities in the new Congress under a Republican majority to ensure these issues receive proper attention and action. 

As we gather with friends and family this holiday, don’t forget to give thanks for the hardworking and dedicated farmers who made the feast possible. Our nation is forever grateful for the Fourth District farmers and producers who keep America fed, clothed, housed, and thriving.

 

11-18-22 2:45 PM KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

November 18, 2022

 

LITTLE ROCK – A record prize in the Powerball lottery generated increased ticket sales in Arkansas in October.

 

Increased sales of lottery tickets generated an additional $2.1 million for college scholarships, compared to the same month last year.

 

Revenue from scratch-off tickets were almost the same as last year. It was the Powerball prize that boosted ticket sales in October. A state lottery officials said that sales of Powerball tickets in October were $5.7 million, compared to $3.1 million in October of 2021.

 

The record $2 billion Powerball prize was awarded to a California ticket-buyer on November 7. In the first week of November, Powerball ticket sales in Arkansas were $9.4 million, so the final numbers for November are also expected to be more than normal.

 

During the first four months of the current fiscal year, the lottery has generated $36.2 million for scholarships. The lottery raised $32 million for scholarships during the first four months of last fiscal year.

 

Arkansas voters approved a state lottery in 2008. The first tickets were sold in September of 2009. Since then, about 30,000 students a year have qualified for a college scholarship, but last year due to declining enrollment the number was 28,716.

 

The state lottery is projected to provide $91.4 million this fiscal year for college scholarships. Increased ticket sales, due to the popularity of the Powerball prize, have put expected revenue about $10 million more than was originally estimated.

 

The price of gasoline is another important factor that affects lottery ticket sales. When consumers pay more to fill up with gas, they tend to buy fewer lottery tickets.

 

Outsourcing Veterans Hospital

A subcommittee of the Legislative council recommended approval of a request from the Department of Veterans Affairs for $1.4 million to cover some of the costs to be incurred in changing the operations of the Arkansas State Veterans Home at Fayetteville to a private contractor.

 

The department has received two bids from firms with experience in providing skilled nursing home care.

 

Officials with the Veterans Affairs Department told legislators that staff turnover is very high. It has 65 residents, which puts its occupancy rate to just over 70 percent.

 

Many other states contract with private firms to operate skilled nursing facilities for veterans, the official said.

 

The subcommittee is called Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, or PEER. It is one of the most important of the legislative panels that meet during the interim between regular sessions.

 

In other action PEER recommended approval of allowing the State Crime Lab to have $600,000 in reserve funds so it can contract with a private company to help clear its backlog of rape and sexual assault kits. About 500 evidence kits must be analyzed, the Crime Lab director said.

 

First Bill Filed for 2023

The first two bills have been filed in anticipation of the upcoming regular session of the legislature, which convenes on January 9, 2023.

 

They are a Senate bill and a House bill that mirror each other, and they would amend truth in sentencing laws and make changes in parole laws.

 

11-18-22 12:04 PM KAWX.ORG 

Mena November School Board Meeting Recap

The Mena School Board met for their regular November meeting on Tuesday at the district administration building. It was a very brief meeting.

 

The meeting began with the superintendent’s report and Dr. Lee Smith immediately yielded the floor to Mena High School Principal David Maxwell.

 

Maxwell informed the board that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has awarded Mena High School with a monetary reward of $50.00 per student for their performance on  the latest test scores. Mena High School was rated in the top 6-10% of schools in the state for academic growth. Maxwell recommended that the $24,200.00  be equally distributed to all faculty and staff at MHS. The board approved.

Dr. Smith then continued with more information for the board. He stated that discipline reports are 22% lower across the district compared to last year.

The district attendance rate was reported to be 92.6%, which is below the district goal of 96%. Smith explained that the flu and other illnesses have had a major impact on students and staff attendance and has made it difficult for them to attend school at a high rate.

Smith also told the board that the district is meeting the reading goals, set at the beginning of the year, with the exception of 5th and 8th grades.

In new business Smith gave an update on school projects, including the vehicle plan. A new truck for the band has been ordered through Mena Ford and is on it’s way. A new car for district use is also expected to arrive in 6-8 months. That car was paid for with proceeds from an auction of surplus equipment earlier this year.

Estimates from the district’s construction management company, C.R. Crawford, have also arrived on the construction of the new activity center, a new concession stand and restrooms at Bob Carver Bearcat Stadium and an outdoor classroom. The board approved moving forward with the projects and await official bids and funding recommendations in December.

Next was the financial reports. Dr. Smith stated that revenues outpaced expenses in the past month and the district is on target to meet the projected ending balance. The board approved.

 

Finally in personnel. The board accepted the resignation of Scott Wright as Head Girls Basketball Coach and Sr. High assistant Volleyball Coach. They also accepted the resignation of Tiffany Sims from her position as Paraprofessional at MMS.

The board accepted the retirement of Suzanne Bentley, Administrative Bookkeeper, effective June 30th, 2023.

Several contracts were restructured. Including bus driver Peggy Foster from a full time E route to an afternoon only C route. Brad Lyle from Sr. Girls Basketball Assistant to Sr. Girls Basketball Interim Head Coach. Tia Fryar from Jr. Girls Basketball Assistant Coach to Sr. Girls Basketball Interim Assistant Coach.

New hires included Tyler Smedley as Bus Driver and Whitney Horner as paraprofessional at LDE.

 

11-16-22 1:20 PM KAWX.ORG

OLT's "A Seussified Christmas Carol" Cast is Announced

 

“A Seussified Christmas Carol” Cast Chosen


Junior Ouachita Little Theatre is performing the OLT holiday play this season. It is a delightful rendition of the famous story, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. This version contains dialogue written in the humorous rhyme and unique pentameter of famed author, Dr. Seuss.


This play is sure to be a holiday treat for local families to enjoy, featuring young performers and energetic directors Makayla Ortiz and Lexie Payne. Costumes and sets will reflect the Dr. Seuss genre, and performances will cover two weekends. Dates are December 2,3,4 and 9,10,11.


Advanced tickets are now available online and at the OLT office on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during office hours as posted on the OLT website, oltmena.com for $10 each. Season tickets are accepted for this show.


The directors announce their cast as follows: Jocelyn Biard and Crissie Womack as narrators; Omar Cecillo – Scrooge; Abigail Felix as Marley, Cratchet and Belle’s husband; Lily Loyd -Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future; Jacob Kenyon-Ortiz as Fred and Young Scrooge; Zoe Hamilton as Belle, Mrs. Cratchit and Fred’s wife. Filling out the cast playing carolers, Skateboard posse, band members, and various supporting roles are Rener Melson, Addyson Melson, Natalee Failer, Kynnleigh Midgette, Ashlynn Lingo, Emma Vieira, Hudson Hughes, Tiffany Lawrence, Avori Gortemiller, Katy Goodnight, Savannah Goodnight, Charis Seitz, Gracie Baker, Marynelle Thoma, Johanna Diffee, Macy Adams and Payton Adams.

 

11-15-22 10:28 AM KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Log for November 7th - 13th

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of November 7, 2022 – November 13, 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.

 

November 7, 2022

Deputies responded to a report of a dog being shot at a residence on Polk 74 near Mena.

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

 

November 8, 2022

No reports.

 

November 9, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 286 near Hatfield in reference to the theft of a side by side.

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

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 31 near Hatfield in reference to threats being made. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

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

 

November 10, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 24 near Cove in reference to sheep being attacked by dogs.

Kyle Fairless, 33 of Cove was arrested on a Felony Rape Warrant.

 

November 11, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 37 near Potter in reference to gunshots being heard leading to the arrest of Zachary Bryan, 30 of Mena on charges of Aggravated Assault Upon a Certified law Enforcement Officer, Resisting Arrest and Possession of a Firearm by Certain Persons.

A traffic stop on Hwy 8 West near Mena led to Laura Emry being charged with No Proof of Insurance, No Registration and Open Container.

Michael Moore, 26 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Rape Warrant.

 

November 12, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Martin Lane near Cove in reference to an unattended death.

 

November 13, 2022

A traffic stop on Hwy 71 near Mena led to the arrest of Carla Dorn, 45 of Crestview, Florida on charges of DWI and Driving without Headlights.

A report of a physical domestic disturbance at a residence on Polk 29 near Hatfield led to the arrest of Matthew Esser, 43 of Hatfield on a charge of Public Intoxication.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to domestic violence. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 21 Incarcerated Inmates, with 14 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

11-14-22 3:50 PM KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for November 6th- November 12th

Mena Police Department reports for the week of November 6th through November 12th, 2022:

 

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

 

November 6

 

Lessley Hunt, 42, was charged with Driving on Suspended License and served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Reine Street.

 

A death investigation report was taken at a residence on 9th Street.

 

A report of theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle was taken at a residence on Deridder Avenue.

 

November 7

 

Charles Solo, 50, was charged with Driving on Suspended License after a traffic stop on Bethesda Road.

 

November 8

 

A report of unsafe load and fleeing was taken on Racetrack Road.

 

A report of theft of property was taken from Walmart.

 

November 9

 

No report.

 

November 10

 

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

 

November 11

 

William Parsons, 26, was charged with DWI, Possession of Open Container, Driving on Suspended License and No Liability Insurance after contact at EZ Mart.

 

A report of theft of property was taken at Walmart.

 

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

 

Timothy Hooks, 37, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

Elizabeth Ward, 25, was served with a warrant at the police department.

 

Michael Davis, 47, was charged with Theft of Property at Walmart.

 

November 12

 

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

 

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

 

Jeremiah Franklin, 28, was served with a warrant at Walmart.

 

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

 

11-14-22 09:51 AM KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Detention Center Inmates 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address Thank You, Veterans

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Thank You, Veterans

To listen to Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address, click anywhere on this line, then click on the play button.

 

LITTLE ROCK – Today, I would like to talk about celebrating our veterans and recognizing the sacrifices they have made for our freedoms.

 

Veterans have a special place for me. My father was a veteran of World War II, and I am humbled by the privilege to lead a state that honors those who serve or have served in the military. When I have the opportunity to honor veterans or to improve life for them, I try to take advantage of that. In the budget I presented this week to the General Assembly, I asked for increased funding for specific veterans assistance programs.

 

One hundred three years ago today, “Armistice Day” was created to celebrate the first anniversary of the end of World War I. At the time, World War I was named the war to end all wars. But in hindsight, we know that isn’t true, and our brave men and women have been called upon several of times since.

 

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day, and with it the focus of the holiday shifted to pay tribute to all American veterans.

 

Today, we can honor them by supporting our military institutions within the state and equipping them with the best tools to complete their missions. Our military must be second to none, and we have the ability to make sure that happens.

 

We also must honor them by giving them opportunities to use their skills in a good job where they are able to showcase their leadership and experience.

 

No one day of observation is equal to the sacrifice of those who put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms that we sometimes take for granted. While we celebrate this Veterans Day, we can look back to just earlier this week when we were able to practie one of our special freedoms.

 

Election Day is a critical time in our democracy that decides the coming future of our country. We are free today to have a say in our democracy because of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have stood against dark times.

As Governor, it is important to say thank you, and God bless our men and women who have served and those who continue to serve. We are forever in your debt.

 

11-11-22 10:11 AM KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Remembering the Sultana Disaster and Engaging with Arkansas History 

 

There’s an event in our nation’s past that, though catastrophic and heartbreaking, hasn’t ever received the attention it truly deserves. For Arkansans, it should be something we learn about thoroughly and feel connected to perhaps more than most of the other dates and milestones we read in textbooks and hear about from educators.

 

The affair, commonly referred to as the Sultana disaster, happened on the Mississippi River in the shadow of the end of the Civil War. It is often referred to as the “forgotten tragedy” and Congress has officially recognized it as the worst disaster in U.S. maritime history, including the sinking of the Titanic.

 

On April 27, 1865, just weeks after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, a 260-foot-long wooden steamboat with thousands of passengers aboard exploded, burned and sank into the Mississippi River just miles from Memphis on the Arkansas side of the river.

 

The vessel was overcrowded to begin with since it was only rated to carry about 376 people. Many of those onboard were recently released Union prisoners headed home. An estimated 1,200 people died as a result of this mishap.

 

In 1982, archeologists uncovered the Sultana’s remains under a soybean field. Ever since, there have been efforts to bring this incident and its repercussions back to the forefront after so many years of languishing in relative obscurity.

 

The Sultana Historical Preservation Society has worked tirelessly to see to that. In 2011, the first public exhibit of Sultana-related artefacts was held at Arkansas State University. A few short years later, a small museum opened in Marion, Arkansas to help tell the harrowing story and invite further research.

 

With each step forward, the benefactors and champions of this cause have made significant progress toward ensuring the Sultana’s fate is forgotten no more.

 

Now, an even larger goal is within sight and stands ready to formalize that mission by creating an institution that will last for generations and go a long way toward helping future young Arkansans learn of and remember what happened on a Civil War-era steamboat traveling through our backyard.

 

This month, the Sultana Disaster Museum will break ground on a new, permanent and modern home that will afford all visitors – from school groups to Civil War enthusiasts and others – the opportunity to intimately grasp the scope and magnitude of the Sultana’s demise and the human cost it carried.

 

It’s been an honor and pleasure to work alongside the supporters of this endeavor leveraging funding and expertise from all levels of government, including federal and state agencies and partners alongside the private sector because we know it is the successful formula to create investments that serve our communities, our economy and the public good.

 

This facility will do so much to ensure the full story of the Sultana never stops being told while also deepening the appreciation and reverence for it among those who interact with its exhibits and artefacts for years to come.

 

Not only that, but it will appropriately create the space needed to place this tragedy in our nation’s history and memory where it belongs rather than as an historical footnote. Doing so honors the victims and helps push their legacies forward.

 

Celebrating this next exciting chapter in the effort to help the Sultana disaster receive the attention and acknowledgement it is due is so important for many reasons, including the fellowship it has fostered in the community and the economic benefits it can offer.

 

11-11-22 10:03 AM KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Committees are an essential part of the legislative process. While in committee, a bill is reviewed, researched, and sometime revised. Committee meetings also provide an opportunity for public comment.

Committee selection is one of the first orders of business for newly elected members and returning members of the House.

A House Caucus is currently scheduled for 9 am on November 17. During the caucus, newly elected members will draw for seniority and all members will select their seats for the 94th General Assembly. After seat selection, the committee selection process will begin. The vast majority of legislation considered during a legislative session begins in a standing committee. There are 10 standing committees in the House. These include 5 class “A” committees and 5 class “B” committees. Each member serves on 1 “A” committee and 1 “B” committee. Class “A” committees include: •Education •Judiciary •Public Health, Welfare and Labor •Public Transportation •Revenue and Taxation Class “B” Committees include: •Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs •Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development •City, County and Local Affairs •Insurance and Commerce •State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Each standing committee consists of 20 members including 5 members from each of the 4 House district caucuses. Pursuant to a House Rules, the most senior member of the House of Representatives will select first and will choose a position on a Class “A” standing committee. The seniority rotation procedure will continue until the member with the least seniority makes his or her selection. After the member with the least seniority makes his or her Class “A” standing committee selection, the most senior member will select his or her Class “B” standing committee. The seniority rotation will continue until the member with the least seniority selects his or her Class “B” standing committee. Selection for the House Budget Committee, Arkansas Legislative Council, and Legislative Joint Auditing will take place after standing committee selection.

You can watch the committee selection process live at arkansashouse.org.

 

11-11-22 09:53 AM KAWX.ORG

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a time to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who dedicated their lives and risked their safety to protect our nation and our way of life. It is one of my greatest honors as a member of Congress to meet the men and women across the Fourth District who demonstrated tremendous bravery and acts of heroism during their time of service. 

 

In May, I had the pleasure of attending the Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony for Mr. Bobby Gene “Bob” Ross, a 94-year-old World War II United States Merchant Marine Veteran from El Dorado. This ceremony was the first time a Merchant Marine has received the Congressional Gold Medal. Mr. Ross joined the Merchant Marines in 1942, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor,when he was only 14-years-old. Mr. Ross served in the South Pacific and Atlantic, where he earned the South Pacific Victory Medal, the Pacific War Zone Bar, and the Atlantic War Zone Bar. The Merchant Marines suffered the highest rate of casualties of any service branch in WWII, with 1 in 26 mariners dying in the line of duty. About 12,000 members were injured or taken prisoner. Imagine how brave a 14-year-old had to be to join that amazing group of young men. That’s why it was such a privilege to meet Mr. Ross and be a part of honoring him with the Congressional Gold Medal 

 

Individuals like Mr. Ross exemplify the very best of the American spirit, but all too often, our veterans are not repaid properly for their service. My office continually hears from folks who have troubles with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and in this year alone, my office has assisted over 130 Fourth District veterans with issues involving the VA, including with problems receiving the benefits they have earned. Our veterans were promised that they would be provided care for life upon their retirement from service, but they have often been denied benefits despite ample evidence of a connection between their time in service and their health status. 

 

That is why I introduced two bipartisan bills in the 117th Congress to ensure veterans who were exposed to chemical herbicides while serving their country receive the benefits they have earned. I also sent a letter with the Arkansas Congressional delegation to address VA staffing shortages that contribute to long wait times and unreliable service. Our veterans have sacrificed everything in service of our nation. It is the least we can do to ensure they receive the best of what our country has to offer. 

 

Quality health care is the minimum that our veterans deserve. Providing them with the ability to enjoy the nation they defended is critical too. That’s why I cosponsored the Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act, which recently became law. It allows veterans, active-duty servicemembers, and Gold Star Families to access our beautiful national parks for free. 

 

This Veterans Day, take a moment to thank our veterans who dedicated their lives to service of our great nation. These men and women are patriots and deserve the very best our nation has to offer. I am honored to continue fighting for our veterans in Congress and ensuring these extraordinary men and women continue receiving the benefits they have earned.

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

November 11, 2022

 

LITTLE ROCK – Funds are now available from the settlement of a massive lawsuit against opioid distributors, and will be awarded to projects that have demonstrated effectiveness in combating the abuse of painkillers.

 

The Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership has set up a website with information about how to apply. It has an advisory board that will review applications. The Partnership’s director previously served as state Drug Director for five years.

 

The Partnership is a combined effort of the Arkansas Association of Counties and the Arkansas Municipal League, which joined in the litigation against opioid distributers.

 

Arkansas was awarded $216 million in the settlement. That money will be divided evenly between cities, counties and the state and will be gradually paid out over the next 18 years. The settlement was announced a year ago, after four years of litigation that resulted in a $26 billion settlement that will be distributed nationally.

 

So far, Arkansas has received about $10 million from the first stage of the settlement. At a recent news conference the Partnership director said that more settlements with other pharmaceutical companies may increase the total amount Arkansas gets from lawsuits over opioid sales.

 

The dispensing rate for opioids is very high in Arkansas. In Arkansas in 2022, for every 100 people in the state more than 80 prescriptions were filled. That is an improvement over 2018, when more than 93 prescriptions for painkillers were prescribed for every 100 Arkansas residents.

 

The dispensing rate was even higher in some counties. In 2018, in Garland County 126 prescriptions were dispensed for every 100 residents.

 

The number of people who have died from an overdose increased from 180 in 2019 to 261 in 2020 and 371 in 2021.

 

The fatal overdoses are not caused just by abuse of illegal drugs, but are commonly from abuse of legal prescriptions. Arkansas is second in the nation, behind Alabama, in the overprescribing of prescription opiods.

 

After states and local governments joined in lawsuits against major drug companies, the prescribing of opiods tapered off between 2012 and 2020, when dispensing rates fell to the lowest level in 15 years.

 

However, even after the decline, 3.6 percent of all counties in the United States had a dispensing rate of more than one prescription of painkiller for each resident in the county.

 

Nationwide, the dispensing rate has gone down from a peak in 2012 of 81.3 prescriptions for every 100 people. In 2020 the national rate was 43.3 prescriptions for every 100 people.

 

One announced goal of the Partnership is to make Naloxone more available among first responders and groups that work to abate opioid abuse. It is a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.

 

The 12-member advisory board includes a school board president, a county judge, a mayor, a physician whose specialty is pain medicine, a retired police chief, sheriff, a grant writer, staff and former staff of opioid abatement projects and an attorney knowledgeable about the settlement of the opioid lawsuit.

 

The board also has representatives from the Municipal League and the Association of Arkansas Counties.

 

 

Polk County Sheriff's Log for October 31st - November 6th

SHERIFF’S LOG

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of October 31, 2022 – November 6, 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.

 

October 31, 2022

Deputies responded to a residence on North Hornbeck Street near Vandervoort in reference to a physical domestic disturbance. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a report of a vehicle fire on Polk 31.

Keleb Rushin, 21 of Cove was arrested by an officer with Probation Parole to be held for another agency.

 

November 1, 2022

Deputies responded to a residence on Polk 136 near Cove in reference to a vehicle being broken into.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 676 near Acorn in reference to harassment. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to harassment. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

November 2, 2022

A report of an altercation at a residence on Hwy 71 S near Potter led to the arrest of Mark Blehm, 30 of Mena on charges of 3rd Degree Domestic Battery, Disorderly Conduct and Public Intoxication.

 

November 3, 2022

Zackary Kellam, 36 of Commerce, TX was arrested by an officer with the Arkansas State Police on charges of DWI, two counts of 2nd Degree Battery, No Seatbelt, Refusal to Submit and Careless and Prohibited Driving.

Deputies responded to a report of a damaged mailbox at a residence on Hwy 8 E near Mena.

Ernest Ray, 65 of Mena was arrested by an officer with the Arkansas State Police on a charge of DWI.

Deputies responded to a residence on Polk 44 near Mena in reference to a physical altercation.

 

November 4, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a business near Cove in reference to a physical altercation leading to the arrest of Rocky Daugherty, 30 of Mena on charges of Aggravated Assault upon a Certified Law Enforcement Officer, Resisting Arrest, 3rd Degree Battery and 1st Degree Criminal Mischief.

A traffic stop led to the arrest of Timothy Hutson, 56 of Mena on a charge of DWI.

 

 

November 5, 2022

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on West Boundary Road in reference to a disturbance.

 

November 6, 2022

A traffic stop on Hwy 8 W led to the arrest of Nicolas Kent, 22 of Mena on charges of DWI and Driving Left of Center.

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

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 88 E near Cherry Hill in reference to a dispute.

 

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

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 21 Incarcerated Inmates, with 14 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

 

11-07-22 11:25 PM KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for October 30th- November 5th

Mena Police Department reports for the week of October 30th through November 5th, 2022:

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

 

October 30

 

Martin Cruz, 53, was charged with Criminal Trespass at United Country Real Estate.

 

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

 

Christopher Ridley, 59, was charged with DWI after a crash at Murphy USA.

 

October 31

 

Johnathan White, 37, was served with warrants at Janssen Park.

 

November 1

 

Lukas Holliday, 32, was served with warrants at the county jail.

 

Michael Davis, 47, was served with a warrant at the county jail.

 

A report of battery was taken at the request of Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children.

 

November 2

 

Hannah Jerimiah, was charged with Dog Running at Large on Lisa Way.

 

A report of a disturbance was taken at a residence on 11th Street.

 

Gena Esser, 40, was charged with Theft of Property at Walmart.

 

Winnie Cotter, 62, was charged with Theft of Property at Walmart.

 

November 3

 

Nathaniel Riley, 39, was charged with Driving on Suspended License and served with a warrant after a traffic stop at Citgo.

 

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

 

November 4

 

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

 

 

November 5

 

No report.

 

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

 

11-07-22 11:20 AM KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Detention Center Inmates 

 

2022 Ouachita Quilt Show Winners

 

2022 Ouachita Quilt Show Winners

 

The Ouachita Quilt Show Committee thanks everyone who participated in making this year’s Quilt Show a huge success.

There were 32 Categories in this year’s show. Each category qualified for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons. Best of Show was the judge’s choice from all the first-place quilts. In addition to those ribbons, community leaders were asked to pin a mini bear paw on their favorite quilt. Watch the Ouachita Quilt Show on its Facebook page for dozens of show photos and other announcements.

 

We are pleased to announce the following winners for the various categories.

 

Donation Quilt Winner: Judy McClara, Mena AR

Best of Show: Jeri Breashears, “Let’s Bake” (shown below)

Peoples Choice: Susan J Carter: “Dawn Chorus”

 

Shown is Best of Show: Jeri Breashears, “Let’s Bake”

 

Community Leader Ribbons:

Chamber of Commerce: Sharon Judkins, “Red & White Sampler”

City Attorney: Debra Lay, “The Sasquatch”

City Clerk: Jeri Breashears, “Prim”

Mena Chief of Police: Patsy Tarlton/ T Hooper, “Truckin”

Polk County Judge: Joyce Sanden, “Chocolate Star”

Polk County Sheriff: Judy McClara, ”Judy’s Flower Garden”

Mayor of Mena: Debra Lay, “The Sasquatch”

Mayor of Cove: Elizabeth Nunley, “Missouri Star”

Mayor of Hatfield: Rhonda Sweet, “Old Barn & Truck”

Mayor of Wickes: Linda McAdoo, “Over the River”

Prosecuting Attorney: Joyce Sanden, “Frolicking Pinwheels”

Polk County Clerk: Barbara D Moncrief, “Patriotic Strawberry Swirl”

Mena Star: Carol Carlyle, “Funky Chickens”

The Pulse: Susan J Carter, “Dawn Chorus”

Mena Art Gallery: Barbara D Moncrief, Unnamed

UARM Chancellor: Jeri Breashears, “Garden Sampler”

Mena ISD Superintendent: JoAnn Mitchell, “Unity”

Cossatot River Superintendent: Susan J Carter, “The Dance”

Judges of Show: Susan J Carter, “Dawn Chorus”, Molly Lindsey, ‘Make Yourself at Home”

Vendor Choice: Jana Strictland, “Dames with Dogs Duet”, Martha Edwards, “Christmas Trees”

Quilt Show Chairman: June Blaine,” Sodalite Cabins”

Quilt Show Committee: Cookie Shelley, “Fractured Textiles”, Mae Dell Sikes, “Dresden Plate”, Linda McAdoo, “Anna’s Baskets”, Rebecca Romine, “Bear Paw”, Janna Strictland, “Summer Sherbet”, Elizabeth Nunley, “Missouri Star”

 

Quilt Categories Winners

Hand Pieced/Hand Quilted: 2nd: Rebecca Romine “Confetti in the Snow”, 3rd: Tammy Free, “Spider Webb”

Hand Pieced/ Home machine quilted: Collette Phillips “Memory of Grandma II

Machine Pieced/Hand Quilted: 1st: Rebecca Romine, “Friendship Star”, 2nd: Debra Lay, “Red, White & Black Sunshine”

Machine Pieced/Home machine quilted: 1st: Rhonda Sweet,” Old Barns & Trucks” 2nd: Jan Strictland, “Summer Sherbet”,

3rd: Judy Myres, “Antique Tiles”

Machine Pieced/Long Arm all over quilted: 1st: Linda McAdoo, “Anna’s Baskets”, 2nd: Debra Lay, “Home Sweet Home”,

3rd: Barbara D Moncrief, Unnamed

Machine Pieced/Long Arm custom quilted: 1st: Susan J Carter, “Dawn Chorus”

 

Machine Pieced/Long Arm hand Guided: 1st: Barbara D Moncrief, “Harmony & Light in the Darkness”, 2nd:

Jeri Breashears, “A Very Coriander Christmas”

Combined Techniques/Hand quilted: 1st Peggy Shelley,” Sampler Quilt Blocks”

Combined Techniques/Home machine quilted: 1st: Anna Brainerd/Patsy Tarlton, “Graduation”, 2nd: Debra Lay,

“Cherry Smash”

Hand Appliqued/Hand quilted: 1st: Marty Smith, “Mimi’s Flower Garden”

Hand Appliqued/Home Machine quilted: 1st: Carol Carlyle, “Funky Chicken”, 2nd: Sharon Judkin, “Dresden Irish Chain”,

3rd: JoAnn Mitchell, “Unity”

Machine Appliqued/Home machine quilted: 1st: Jeri Breashears,” Prim”, 2nd: Linda McAdoo, “Variegated Threads”,

3rd: Sharon Judkin, “Flea Market Flowers”

Wall Hanging/Machine quilted: 1st: Molly Lindsey, “Make Yourself at Home”, 2nd: Debra Lay, “I Will Cut You”,

3rd: Linda McAdoo, “Bewitching Hat”

Lap Quilt/Machine quilted: 1st: Barbara D Moncrief, “Patriotic Strawberry Swirl”, 2nd: Judy McClara,

“Frazzled Oriental Garden”, 3rd: Klinda Rath,” Birds of a Feather”

Miniature: 1st: Barbara D Moncrief, “Harvest Barn Stars”, 2nd: Cindy Ezell, “Iris”, 3rd: Judy Myres, “Leftovers”

Baby Quilt: 1st: Linda McAdoo,” Diamond Patch”, 2nd: Martha Edwards, “Beach Comber”, 3rd: Molly Lindsey, “Doll House”

Apparel: 2nd: Jeri Breashears, “Beach Comber Jacket”

Original Design: 1st: Jeri Breashears, “Autumn Sampler”, 2nd: Rebecca Romine, “Bear Paw”

First Quilt: 1st Judy McClara, “My Life Quilt”, 2nd: Barbara Moncrief, 3rd: Matthew Wiltrout, “Blue Jean Quilt”

Group Quilt: 1st” Nancy Philpot, “Birthday Blues”

Embroidered Quilt/Hand Quilted: 1st: Jeri Breashears, “Lets Bake” , 2nd: Linda McAdoo, “Over the River”

3rd: Patsy Tarlton/Grady Pate, “Busy Boys”

Home Décor: 1st: Barbara D Moncrief, unnamed wall hanging 2nd: Peggy Shelley, “Chicken Scratch”,

3rd: Jeri Breashears, “Santa Standing”

Art Quilts/Embellishments: 1st: Debra Lay, “Go Fly a Kite”, 2nd: Rhonda Sweet, “Laura’s Wedding Dress Baby Quilt”

Other: 1st: Barbara D Moncrief, “Making Lemonade out of Lemons” bag, 2nd: Cindy Ezell, “Cheerful Fellow” quilted bag,

3rd: Debra Lay, “Wine Tote bag”

 

11-7-22 6:15 AM KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Arkansas is home to more than 222,000 veterans. That equals close to 10% of our adult population.

 

Whether they served in times of war or peace, our veterans all share an unwavering belief in the cause of freedom.

 

As we approach Veterans Day, we want to extend our sincere appreciation to those who despite the risk and sacrifice, raised their hand to serve and defend our country. We are also grateful to families of service members and veterans who also serve this nation with their support and sacrifice.

 

The Arkansas General Assembly continually reviews ways to ensure our veterans and their families are well cared for and that our policies make life a little easier for those who call Arkansas home.

In 2017, we passed Act 141 which exempts military retirement benefits from state income tax. It is estimated that there are close to 25,000 military retirees living in Arkansas.

 

In the 2021 Regular Session, we passed Act 988 which allows dependents of certain veterans to receive tuition waivers to private, nonprofit institutions of higher education; and caps the amount of the tuition waiver for dependents of certain veterans.

 

We also passed Act 58 creates a veterans treatment specialty court program. This General Assembly passed Act 888 which waives the licensing fee for a license to carry a concealed handgun if the applicant is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces or is currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. And we passed Act 640 which ensures that the Suicide Prevention Hotline employs individuals who have experience working with veterans.

 

We encourage Arkansans to consider ways they can support our veterans this Veterans Day and throughout the year.

 

There are numerous volunteer opportunities across the state. Medical facilities, VA hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics need volunteers to perform a wide range of duties.

 

You can find links to resources for our veterans at veterans.arkansas.gov.

 

11-4-22 5:46 PM KAWX.ORG 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address Expanding Health Services with Life360 HOMEs

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Expanding Health Services with Life360 HOMEs

 

To listen to Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address, click anywhere on this line, then click on the play button.

 

LITTLE ROCK – Today I would like to talk about how Arkansas is expanding health services for several populations with greater health needs through the state’s ARHOME program.

 

In 2013, the Arkansas General Assembly passed the Health Care Independence Act, which established the use of expanded Medicaid coverage. It was known as the "private option."

 

After I took office in 2015, we worked to put in place the Arkansas Works Act. This act continued the Private Option, but also added features such as including a work requirement.

 

On January 1, 2022, we introduced Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me, or ARHOME. Like Arkansas Works, ARHOME offers health care coverage for eligible Arkansans, using Medicaid dollars to buy health insurance coverage for clients. The difference is that ARHOME places a greater emphasis on improving health outcomes of those who use it by holding the insurance carriers accountable for meeting health improvement targets.

 

This week, I announced the newest expansion to the ARHOME program with the addition of Life360 HOMEs. The General Assembly takes a lot of credit for the hard work in expanding these services.

 

These Life360 HOMEs will be used to assist women with high-risk pregnancies, help people with mental illnesses gain access to services in our rural counties, and give young adults most at risk of long-term poverty a helping hand with opportunities and skills for improving their lives. They will also provide support for hospitals, especially those in rural areas.

 

The rural hospitals will offer services like home visits for eligible women with high-risk pregnancies. Home visitation programs can improve maternal health outcomes and improve health for children.

 

Another function of the Life360 HOMEs will be to coordinate services to individuals with serious mental illnesses or substance use disorders who are living in rural areas. They will be able to partner with our rural hospitals and provide clients with care for up to 24 months.

 

In 2021, nearly 52,000 ARHOME clients in rural counties were diagnosed with a serious mental illness or substance use disorder. This means our rural patients will be receiving more treatment with a closer focus on better health outcomes.

 

These Life360 HOMEs are a critical part of the ARHOME initiative, and the additional services made available to Arkansans across this state have the potential to make a profound impact on the health of our citizens.

 

 

11-4-22 4:00 PM KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Rising to the Challenge to Combat Worldwide Hunger

 

Agriculture is the cornerstone of Arkansas’s economy. It’s a way of life for families in rural communities across our state. For generations, men and women have proudly devoted their lives to producing the food and fiber that feeds and clothes the world. Their job is vital as we confront new global threats and we must ensure they have the tools and the resources to rise to the challenge.

 

The International Monetary Fund recently released a report detailing the global hunger crisis and warned food insecurity is on the rise. The organization reports this problem has been increasing since 2018, and now with the war in Ukraine as well as increased costs for food and fertilizer, the situation is even more dire.

 

It’s a problem UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley has seen firsthand, and in early November he shared his solutions for tackling this emergency at an event on the Harding University campus.

 

As part of the school’s distinguished lecture series, I was honored to join him on a panel about the future of global food security. Beasley and WFP staff visited Arkansas and discussed ongoing efforts to combat hunger. Beasley warned the next two years will be a challenge as millions of people are “marching to starvation” as a result of escalating conflicts, food inaccessibility and increased prices.

 

He understands the problem better than anyone. In 2020, under Beasley’s leadership, the WFP was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work to fight hunger, promote peace in conflict-affected areas and prevent the weaponization of food as part of war and hostilities.

 

As Beasley has noted, America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities are vital in helping the WFP achieve its mission. As the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I’m committed to providing our agricultural producers throughout the country with the safety nets and risk management tools they need to sustain production.

 

The U.S. agricultural industry is experiencing significant challenges with an increase in input costs. Fertilizer prices have nearly tripled since January 2021, and diesel prices have increased by nearly 150 percent over this same time period. The cost of borrowing is on the rise too as interest rates are rising at the fastest pace in nearly 40 years. These are some of the biggest expenses for farmers and the costs are going up because of labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and historic inflation.

 

We’ll be working in the coming year to craft an updated farm bill that supports the current needs of the industry in order to continue producing the most abundant, affordable and safest food supply in the world.

 

Beasley acknowledged it’s up to world leaders to help end hunger and U.S. leadership to alleviate food insecurity is indispensable. In Congress, we’ve taken steps to combat hunger and malnutrition by supporting the mission of the WFP.

 

Last month, the president signed into law the bipartisan Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act, legislation I championed to help fight food insecurity and improve coordination with our partners around the world to deliver help to children and families most in need.

 

We know we have more work to do. We can be grateful for the WFP and other public, private and charitable organizations helping deliver hope and nutritional provisions to those struggling. This is a humanitarian crisis, but it is also a matter of great national security importance.

 

As we write out our shopping lists for Thanksgiving dinner, it’s important we think about those who don’t have access to food. Arkansans have always been generous and willing to give back to people in need. Whether it’s donating to a local food bank or volunteering time to help serve meals, there is a role for us all to play to help our neighbors in need.

 

11-4-22 3:30 PM KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

November 4, 2022

 

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas received good news from federal regulators that allows the state Medicaid program to better help women during at-risk pregnancies and other at-risk populations.

 

Last year Medicaid provided medical services to 12,500 Arkansas women with high-risk pregnancies.

 

The availability of more benefits will extend also to veterans aged 19 through 30, and to people in rural areas who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness or a substance abuse disorder.

 

Another group that will benefit are young people from 17 through 27 years of age who have been in foster care, young people 19 through 24 who have been incarcerated and young people aged 19 through 24 who have been in the custody of the state Youth Services Division.

 

State Medicaid officials had asked for permission from federal agencies to implement the new services, targeted at some of the state’s most vulnerable people.

 

The permit came in the form of a waiver for the Arkansas Medicaid expansion program known as ARHOME. At the beginning of September ARHOME had 339,297 enrollees.

 

The waiver allows ARHOME to emphasize services for specific vulnerable populations, and as a result Arkansas residents will hear a lot more about Life360 HOMEs, the name of the newly designed programs.

 

Maternal Life360s will serve pregnant women. Rural Life 360s will serve people in rural areas suffering from mental illness or substance abuse. Success Life 360s will help young people who have been in foster care, jail or the juvenile justice system. Also, it will serve young veterans at risk of being homeless.

 

Hospitals coordinate a variety of services that enrollees receive. For example, they will provide a nurse to visit the homes of pregnant women, during their pregnancies and for up to 24 months after the baby is born. They will get funding for counselors to help people with mental illness, and to set up acute crisis units.

 

Acute care hospitals can contract with local organizations that have experience working with young people at risk of leading a life of poverty. Those youths typically go through foster care and the juvenile justice system.

 

People receiving services under the Life360 may be referred to homeless shelters, churches or faith-based organizations.

The state’s Medicaid expansion program has had several names since its initial creation. It was called the private option when the legislature first approved it in 2013.

 

Unlike the traditional Medicaid program, the private option and subsequent versions uses government funds to subsidize private health insurance for eligible people.

 

The second version of Medicaid expansion was called Arkansas Works, because it first had a requirement that in order to receive services an enrollee must either work or look for work.

 

An individual with income of more than $12,888 a year must pay a $13 monthly premium to help cover the cost of ARHOME health insurance. Medicaid pays the rest. Also, enrollees must pay up to $60 a quarter in co-pays.

 

Co-pays are generally $4.70 for a doctor visit. Generic medications are $4.70, and specialty drugs are $9.40. There are no costs for some services, such as preventive care and vaccines.

 

11-4-22 11:32 PM KAWX.ORG

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

Critical Diesel Shortage

This week, reports from the Energy Information Administration have caused fuel companies to sound the alarm, warning of a dire shortage of diesel in the Southeast. As of October 28, United States has a 25-day supply of diesel in reserves. 

 

Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee will be impacted by the shortage the most, but rising costs will affect every industry. Diesel is the basic building block of our supply chain. It is a necessity for farmers to grow food and for truck drivers to deliver goods across the country. Without diesel, our supply chain would come to a grinding halt. As a result of the shortage, November delivery prices have surged almost 40%.

 

The Biden Administration says they are keeping a close eye on diesel inventories and are working to boost supplies. House Democrats are asking President Biden to release some of the diesel reserves from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve in New England to bring prices down as we enter the colder months. Simply robbing our reserves over and over again is unsustainable and dangerous. We should never come this close to emptying our reserves because energy security is national security. The U.S. should always have adequate reserves to ensure our energy sector is resilient in the event of an attack or a natural disaster.

 

The Administration is reportedly threatening to cut military aid to Saudi Arabia to punish their decision to reduce oil production. The U.S. should never be held to the mercy of foreign powers like OPEC+ for our energy supply, especially when the U.S. produces energy cleaner and more efficiently than the countries from which President Biden insists on importing oil.

The likelihood of truly running out of diesel is low. Refineries will continue to produce diesel and we will continue to import energy, but prices will rise, further harming American families who are struggling from inflation. 

 

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese acknowledged that diesel levels are “unacceptably low” and all options are on the table to address the situation. The easiest, and most lasting solution that seems to be ignored by the Administration is to boost domestic energy production. Instead of strangling the energy industry in red tape, while simultaneously accusing energy companies of price gouging, President Biden must allow companies to boost production by raising the number of oil leases and expediting permitting.

 

If Republicans take back the House and I become Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, I will ensure U.S. energy independence is addressed as one of Republicans’ first priorities in the new Congress. My bill, the Transparency and Production of American Energy Act, will streamline our energy infrastructure, incentivize innovation, and cut the red tape, and prevent any president from imposing bans on federal energy leasing and mineral withdrawals in the future. One party rule in Washington, D.C. has left our economy in shambles. Enough is enough. It is time to unleash American energy as the first step of healing our economy 

 

11-4-22 11:30 PM KAWX.ORG

Issue 3 is a Good Amendment

Winston Churchill is credited with saying, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth even gets its pants on.” Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with religious freedom amendment Issue 3: Gossip and lies about the measure have made the rounds on social media much more than the truth has. Here is the truth about Issue 3: Issue 3 is a good amendment that will protect the free exercise of religion in Arkansas.  That is why attorneys at Focus On The Family, Family Research Council Action, Alliance Defending Freedom, and Liberty Counsel have endorsed Issue 3, and that is why liberals at the ACLU and atheists at the Freedom From Religion Foundation oppose Issue 3. The Arkansas Baptist State Convention and Family Council Action Committee also have endorsed the amendment. Unfortunately, some conservatives—including a few of our friends—on social media have claimed that Issue 3 will give the government more power to restrict religious freedom. A self-proclaimed constitutional expert from Florida has posted videos online making that claim. But stop and ask yourself:  If Issue 3 makes it easier to restrict religious freedom, then why would the Freedom From Religion Foundation oppose Issue 3? They attack the free exercise of religion every time they have the opportunity. What seems to bother some people is that Issue 3 says the government may burden the free exercise of religion if it has a compelling governmental interest at stake and if it behaves in the least restrictive manner possible. I understand why some people would ask questions about this language, but here’s why Issue 3 contains that exception: Over the past 200 years, courts have had to address situations where cult leaders wanted to commit crimes in the name of their religion, where cities and counties denied building permits to churches, and where conscientious objectors wanted to avoid military service during times of war. In situations like these, courts traditionally asked two questions: First, does the government have a “compelling interest” at stake in this situation—like providing for national defense or protecting people from violent crime? And second, can the government protect that compelling interest while burdening the free exercise of religion as little as possible? Under this test, cult leaders who broke the law went to prison, conscientious objectors in the military were assigned to non-combat duties, and churches that were denied a building permit typically were allowed to build anyway. In the 1980s and 1990s courts began abandoning that standard and issuing rulings that made it easier for the government to run roughshod over religious freedom—even when it did not have a compelling interest at stake or could operate in a less restrictive manner. In response, states began passing laws like Issue 3 to protect religious freedom. In fact, Arkansas passed a religious freedom law similar to Issue 3 in 2015.  Issue 3 simply improves on that good law, and it writes the protections into the Arkansas Constitution. If Issue 3 fails to pass this year, it probably will be because conservatives who did not understand the amendment sided with the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation in voting against the measure. Normally when we disagree with our friends, we simply agree to disagree. In this case, I have to tell you why I am standing with the growing list of highly credible, Christian organizations that support Issue 3 and why I am voting for Issue 3 and urging everyone else to do the same. If you have questions about Issue 3, please feel free to reach out to me or my staff.

 

Jerry Cox

 

11-2-22 12:55 PM KAWX.ORG