Yes Radio Works

August 11, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 11, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that school district level data would soon be available including active and cumulative cases. Elected officials and state health experts sounded an optimistic but nonetheless cautionary note as new cases of COVID-19 transmission saw a significant drop on Tuesday.
Hutchinson said the lower figure could be a result of fewer tests performed Monday. He nonetheless urged Arkansans to capitalize on the lower figures in recent days by continuing to follow state health guidelines. He said the overall goal is a return of some sense of normalcy and a safe return for Arkansas schools later this month.
Secretary of Education Johnny Key said the Arkansas Center for Health Improvements will soon have COVID-19 data down to the school district level. While not detailing how many students or staff in a particular school district have transmitted the virus, the data will display the number of people in a school district's physical boundary that have COVID-19. That information, alongside county and city level COVID-19 data, will soon be available at www.achi.net
Key also reminded Arkansas residents colleges will return to classes in the coming days and weeks. He urged Arkansans to continue committing to social distancing and other COVID-19 health directives to ensure a safer return for incoming college students.

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
383 new cases (69 in prisons, 313 in the community)
50,411 cumulative cases
507 hospitalized (down 1 from yesterday)
116 on ventilators (down 1 from yesterday)
11 new deaths
566 total deaths
4,140 tests yesterday
57,229 tests to date in August
868 new recoveries
42,998 total recoveries
6,847 active cases (60 in nursing homes, 817 in prisons, 5,970 in the community).

Secretary of Education Johnny Key spoke about the school district level data that would soon be available on the ACHI website. (Link at the bottom of this post.)

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 63, Sebastian County with 31, and Carroll County (new) with 20.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 105 positive cases with 22 active positive cases, 81 recovered, 2 deaths, and 3188 negative tests. Union County show 508 positive cases with 80 active positive cases, 410 recovered, 18 deaths and 4497 negative tests. Columbia County shows 220 positive cases with 32 active positive cases, 176 recovered, 12 deaths and 2669 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 64 positive cases with 9 active positives, 54 recoveries, 1 death and 875 negative tests. Calhoun County had 17 positive cases with 4 active cases, 13 recoveries, 0 deaths and 557 negative tests.

Again, new cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas saw a relatively smaller increase on Tuesday with 383 reported. That brings Arkansas' total since the start of the pandemic to 50,411. Deaths grew by 11 to 566 and hospitalizations decreased by one to 507. Currently, there are 6,847 active cases in Arkansas with 60 in nursing homes, 817 in correctional facilities and the remainder in communities. Nearly 43,000 Arkansans have contracted the virus and recovered. A total of 4,140 tests were performed over the previous 24 hours with a positivity rate around 10 percent.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/j8Clv7MYP8w

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

 

SAU MOURNS THE LOSS OF STUDENT IN TRAGIC INCIDENT
MAGNOLIA -- From Dr. Trey Berry, president: Early this morning, our SAU family lost a student in a tragic, isolated incident, which occurred in the Donald W. Reynolds Campus Community Center parking lot on the campus of Southern Arkansas University. The individuals involved in the incident included students who live off-campus as well as other individuals not believed to be associated with the Institution. This incident was not random, and at no time were other students, faculty, or staff endangered.

Arkansas State Police investigators are on the scene assisting the University Police Department and the Magnolia Police Department with this ongoing investigation.

At approximately 12:31 a.m., the University Police Department reported three students who live off-campus came onto campus and met individuals not believed to be associated with the Institution in the parking lot of the Donald W. Reynolds Campus Community Center. After a brief encounter, shots were fired. SAU engineering student Joshua Keshun Smith lost his life during the incident, and another student was transported by ambulance to the Magnolia Regional Medical Center and is in stable condition.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Josh’s family as we mourn the loss of his life, and we pray for our other students involved in this devastating event.

The safety of our campus family is always our primary concern. Counseling services are available through the SAU Counseling Center for SAU students, faculty, and staff by contacting 870-235-4911.

We appreciate the work of law enforcement officials who were able to quickly determine that this isolated act poses no broader threat to our campus community. Anyone who believes they have additional information about this incident is urged to contact University Police at 870-235-4100.
 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, August 13th at Catherine's Bistro. The program will be presented by Leslie Humphrey who will talk about Make-A-Wish.

You are required to wear a mask was entering and leaving the building, if you do not have one they will provide you with one. Your temperature will be taken, and you'll sign in and report your temp. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.

ENTERGY ARKANSAS OFFERS MORE PAYMENT OPTIONS FOR CUSTOMERS AFFECTED BY COVID-19
Customers will have up to 12 months to make payment on past due bills
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – While the state continues to grapple with the health and economic impacts from COVID-19, Entergy Arkansas is implementing an Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan that includes offering flexible options to extend time to pay with payment arrangements, and waiving late fees, if applicable. As part of this plan, any customer experiencing financial hardship is eligible to take up to 12 months to pay a current bill and/or unpaid balances.

"We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting our customers and understand how disruptive this continues to be,” said Michael Considine, Entergy Arkansas vice president of customer service. “We want to do everything we can to help our customers, which is why we encourage any customers needing assistance to contact us now so we can work with you.”

Customers with a past due balance are encouraged to contact Entergy as soon as possible to make payment arrangements and discuss other enhanced customer assistance offers while available.

For customers’ convenience, new self-service options are available at online at myentergy.com/s/makepayment or by selecting Deferred Payment on the Entergy Mobile App.

Customers who are more comfortable using the automated response system billing and payment menu or require further special assistance are encouraged to call 1-800-ENTERGY for help with their unpaid balance.

Customers can access more information regarding federal, local and state financial assistance while it is still available at entergy.com/covid-19/arresources/.

“We also urge our customers to remain cautious, as scammers are working to take advantage of the fear this pandemic has created, threatening disconnection of service and asking for immediate payment over the phone,” continued Considine. “Please know that we will never ask for your personal information over the phone or demand payment using money orders or gift cards. You can visit entergy.com/scams/ to learn how to protect yourself.”

Entergy Arkansas will continue to monitor the pandemic impact and update our Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan as appropriate in consultation with the Arkansas Public Service Commission. 

Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.
 

TREASURER OF STATE DENNIS MILLIGAN ANNOUNCES ANNUAL EARNINGS FOR FISCAL 2020
Treasury held steady amid several changes
Little Rock, Ark. – Investment receipts for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, which ended June 30, were $11.4 million, bringing the annual total for fiscal 2020 to $80.7 million, Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan announced to the State Board of Finance today.

“We held steady amid so many major changes going on, both with our investment strategy and in the world, and we’re celebrating these earnings today,” Milligan said.

The investment climate during FY 2020 was difficult due to geo-political tensions worldwide and more so, the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

“When the Federal Open Market Committee dropped rates to zero in March, that put us on the same playing field as we were during the Great Recession of 2008,” Milligan told the Board, adding that the Treasury had liquidated its short-term holdings to provide plenty of cash on hand to support the state during the pandemic. But he cautioned members that the next fiscal year will be hard.

“Until we’re able to see some renewed activity and stability in the bond market in response to Covid, I expect us to remain in the lower-yielding environment,” Milligan said.

Despite the pandemic’s effect on the fixed income market, Milligan said his team is working hard to set the Treasury up to become a stable and reliable income source for the state.

“There are many ways to respond in a crisis such as this, and we have been focused on using the opportunity to reset the foundation: Taking the opportunity to move out of underperforming assets, restructure the investment policy and build an operation that can be relied upon for many years to come,” Milligan said. “Like any prudent investor, we are more focused on the long term and will withstand the lows just as we do the highs.”

 

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting tonight, Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Masks and safety precautions still in effect. Seating will be social distanced until all available seating is taken.
The agenda includes the Mayor’s report which will include the Biannual Water & Sewer Report. David Richardson, Camden Water Utilities, Manager will give the report and Resolution No. 12-20, a resolution requiring certain materials to be posted on the City Website.   

AUGUST 11 SERVES AS REMINDER TO ‘CALL BEFORE YOU DIG’ 
Avoid damaging buried utilities by calling 811
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Planning any yard work this summer? Entergy Arkansas reminds people to make sure to “Call Before You Dig” to avoid damage to underground utilities.

Across the nation, Aug. 11 serves as a reminder to call 811 before starting any digging project to have underground utility lines marked. When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to Arkansas 811, which notifies Entergy Arkansas of their intent to dig. Professional locators then arrive at the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both. Requests can also be made online or via the Arkansas One Call application that can be found in the iTunes App Store.

With more people at home during pandemic restrictions, and summer serving as a peak time to work on home improvement projects, it’s more important now than ever before that residents remember to dig safely to avoid unnecessary outages.

“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors to use the free 811 service before digging to reduce the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said Melanie Taylor, Entergy Arkansas vice president of distribution operations. “Calling 811, using the cell phone app or visiting arkonecall.com is crucial to identifying which utilities are buried in your area so that you dig safely, especially at a time when we’re relying on important utilities to connect us and keep us safe at home. ”

Every few minutes, an underground utility line is damaged because someone began digging without first contacting 811. Striking a single line or pipe can cause injury, repair costs, inconvenient outages and fines. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants contacting 811 by phone or online. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are just some examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting.

The depth of utility lines can vary for reasons such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches or digging in a location that’s previously been  Marked, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.

Visit www.entergyarkasas.com, www.call811.com or www.arkonecall.com for more information about 811 and safe digging practices.

Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.

 
 
 

AUGUST 10, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 10, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the briefing commenting on President Trump's Executive Order and said that he was still trying to determine just what it means for Arkansas. The executive order dealt with enhanced unemployment assistance. The executive order would ask states to match with 25%. In the case of Arkansas, that would mean some $265 million. Governor Hutchinson said it's doable for the state if budget adjustments can be made. Governor Hutchinson says the President is simply trying to help hurting Americans as quickly as possible The Governor added that it would be better if Congress would act, and that he felt the Presidents was doing what he thought was best since Congress has been unable to act.

Governor Hutchinson announced at Monday afternoon's COVID-19 Press Conference that the total number of cumulative cases in Arkansas has now topped 50,000. With an additional 645 cases in the previous 24 hours, the total number of COVID-19 cases now stands at 50,028. However, the number of recoveries were more than new cases. So, the number of Active Positives declined by 44 to 7,343. The death toll increased by 11 to 555. 

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
645 new cases (13 in prisons, 632 in the community)
11 new deaths
555 deaths total
508 hospitalized (down 6 from yesterday)
117 on ventilators (up 2 from yesterday)
7,343 active cases (52 in nursing homes, 886 in prisons, 6,450 in the community)
678 new recoveries
42,139 total recoveries
5,341 tests yesterday
52,946 tests to date in August
8.85 cumulative positive rate.

Dr. Romero also spoke briefly about a new respiratory viral syndrome in children that can cause acute paralysis of arms and legs. Dr. Romero said that this new virus is transmitted by respiratory secretions, and strongly encouraged the continued use of masks and hand washing to slow the spread.

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston spoke briefly about unemployment and the fraud issue DWS is dealing with concerning claims for unemployment benefits.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 61, Sebastian County with 52, Garland County with 50, Saline County with 43, Jefferson County with 40, Craighead County with 32, Benton County with 21, and Independence County with 20.

In the US there has been 5,063,770 cumulative cases, 1,656,864 recoveries, and 166,156 deaths.
Globally there has been 19,936,547 cumulative cases, 12,144,510 recoveries, and 732,467 deaths.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 100 positive cases with 74 recovered and 2 deaths, Union County show 499 positive cases with 389 recovered and 17 deaths, Columbia County shows 215 positive cases with 159 recovered and 11 deaths, Dallas County is showing 63 positive cases with 51 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 16 positive cases with 13 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Secretary of Commerce, Mike Preston, addressed the media at the press conference on Monday. Preston says that 120,000 Arkansans are currently receiving unemployment compensation. Since the pandemic began in March, more than $1.3 billion in claims have been paid out to Arkansans. Preston warns that fraudulent unemployment claims remain an issue.

Again, the state of Arkansas topped 50,000 COVID-19 cases on Monday. The rolling seven-day averages would indicate that the mask mandate put into place a few weeks back seems to be helping the situation. Governor Hutchinson was asked to reflect on the significant number. He says he's pleased at how the hospitalization numbers have been managed. He's also happy that the state is beating the UAMS model projections. However, the Governor says “it's not time to let up.”

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/IROpT6DJcV4

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

ARKANSAS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR VIRTUAL START OF SCHOOL YEAR 
Arkansas Education Association President Carol Fleming told state lawmakers today it is unsafe for schools to return to in-person learning as Arkansas continues to struggle to limit the spread of the coronavirus. 

Fleming also shared a set of principles and expectations that must be met to keep students, educators and our communities safe once conditions allow for a return to in-person learning. The AEA Return to Learn Committee created the school reopening matrix to guide any decisions about the upcoming school year. The committee is made up of educators from across the state who have used their own expertise, along with guidance from health professionals to create the guidance. 

Fleming asked state lawmakers to join the AEA’s call for education officials to make a conscientious decision to keep children, educators and our communities safe by beginning the 20-21 school year with virtual only instruction. 

“While we agree in-person education is the best thing for students, moving kids and educators in and out of school based on isolation and quarantine protocols will be too risky and too disruptive to the teaching and learning environment,” Fleming said. “Let’s work together to maximize the next two weeks to ensure that we keep students and educators safe, and prepare for a new way to deliver education and support until we can get this virus under control.” 

President Fleming’s remarks were made to the Education Caucus of the Arkansas General Assembly. Sen. Alan Clark and Rep. Mark Lowery called the meeting to hear from stakeholders on the topic: COVID-19 School or Not?

TEXAMERICAS CENTER ANNOUNCED AS PROPOSED LOCATION FOR NEW REGIONAL WATER SYSTEM
Offers increased capacity; opportunities for job creation
Texarkana, USA (August 10, 2020) – TexAmericas Center (TAC) today announced that it will be the site of Riverbend Water Resources District’s (RWRD) proposed new regional water treatment system to support the ongoing growth for current and future tenants at its industrial park and 16 other RWRD members entities.

The new regional water system would replace the water treatment facility located on New Boston Road in Texarkana and provide increased treatment capacity over the current treatment plant. The proposed location is on TexAmericas Center property near other existing RWRD facilities.  The location would be expandable in the future to meet long-term growth and usage projections for the region.  Proposed plans include a raw water intake structure to be constructed at the nearby 31-square-mile U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir, Lake Wright Patman, as well as a raw water transmission line from the intake structure to the water treatment facility.

On August 5, RWRD shared that it had garnered approval of up to $200 million in multi-year financing from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to finance planning, acquisition, design, and construction of a new regional water system.

“This state-of-the-art water system allows our current tenants to expand without concerns surrounding water treatment needs and availability,” said Scott Norton, TexAmericas Center Executive Director/CEO. “This also adds to the attractiveness of TexAmericas Center for businesses around the nation looking for affordability and access to solid infrastructure, talent pipelines, and logistics capabilities. We check all those boxes.”

Ranked earlier this month by Business Facilities’ 16th Rankings Report as the #8 industrial park in the country, TexAmericas Center is a catalyst of economic investment in the Texarkana region. Its 12,000 acres and 3 million square feet of space is fully entitled, providing potential tenants of specialized industries options that would be difficult or cost-prohibitive to secure in other regions. Its location in the Texarkana metropolitan area offers an attractive pipeline of talent and a logistics network to rival many larger – and therefore more expensive – urban hubs.

TexAmericas Center also offers a complement of unique assets like utilities, rail, fiber, and a transload provider.

“Investment in the water treatment system at TexAmericas will further spur economic development, jobs and increased revenue for the Texarkana area,” said Eric Voyles, Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Development Officer with TexAmericas Center. “Our facility will be that much more attractive to key industries such as food processing, metals processing and chemical processing businesses, and other commercial businesses.”

Since May 2014, TexAmericas Center has increased its total leased square footage by more than 85 percent to more than 1 million square feet.

Successes for TexAmericas Center are building momentum. In July, TexAmericas Center announced that Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company employing more than 110,000 people worldwide, will expand operations into a building at the TexAmericas Center in support of a Public/Private Partnership contract with the Red River Army Depot (RRAD).

About TexAmericas Center
Located in the Texarkana metropolitan area, TexAmericas Center (TAC) owns and operates one of the largest mixed-use industrial parks in the United States. With roughly 12,000 development-ready acres of land and about 3 million square feet of commercial and industrial product, TAC services four states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas). In 2020, TAC was recently ranked as the #8 industrial park in the country by Business Facilities magazine. It is a designated US Opportunity Zone, HUBZone, New Market Tax Credit Census Tract, Foreign Trade Zone #258 and a Texas Enterprise Zone. TAC has the operating capabilities of a municipality but functions like a traditional real estate development company, offering customized real estate solutions.

 

SAAC TO HOST NEW LECTURE SERIES WITH GAY BECHTELHEIMER
The South Arkansas Arts Center will begin a new six-part lecture series, "The New York School," presented by local artist Gay Bechtelheimer. Please join us for a brief reception, followed by an entertaining dive into the context, characters, and culture of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Reservations are required for reserved seating.

"As a way to say thank you to our wonderful members for their continued support throughout this pandemic, the Board of Directors and Membership Committee invite you to this educational and entertaining experience," said Laura Allen, SAAC executive director.

This six-part lecture series, sponsored by Linda and Louis Hall, will be held on Thursday evenings throughout the fall. The first lecture entitled "Events and Influencers" will be held on August 13 at 6:00pm. 

"During the 1940's, the center of the art world shifted from Paris to New York. Over the course of six discussions, we will survey the events and influencers of this transformation, the associated artists, and the art historical movements they inspired," said Bechtelheimer. "At the first lecture, we will delve into the context of the Abstract Expressionist movement by looking at art and what brings about change in that art form. Is it war? Is it social change? Is it global migration?"

"Looking at art in relationship to its history is a celebratory chronology of the creations of humankind. We acquire a richer understanding of surface, content, thought, and influence. When we acquire this knowledge, we are better prepared to draw conclusions and make assessments in either a historical or contemporary context."

Bechtelheimer has been a long time art teacher at SAAC and has been instrumental in shaping many children's, as well as adult's, art journeys in South Arkansas. She recently served as education coordinator for "Astro Zone", MAD's collaboration with Crystal Bridges. Bechtelheimer also had the recent honor of being one of 50 women featured in Erin Wood's book "Women Make Arkansas", conversations with female creatives.

In order to keep SAAC and our members as safe as possible, we will follow all directives from the Arkansas Department of Health. Reservations are required to determine assigned seating in the theatre where guests will be seated with plenty of required distancing. Patrons will be temperature checked at the door, and masks are required. Beer and wine will be served in the gallery, where guests can pick up their seating assignments and an individually packaged snack to enjoy during Gay's presentation.

"We've been looking for a safe, creative way to say thank you to our membership. By offering the lecture series free of charge, and observing social distancing requirements, we hope to remind our members just what a wonderful community SAAC is, and how much their support means. 

For more information on this lecture series or to place a reservation to attend, please visit the website at www.saac-arts.org or call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Main Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

BOOZMAN PUSHES FOR NATIONAL DESIGNATION OF BUTTERFIELD OVERLAND TRAIL
SPRINGDALE—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) introduced legislation to designate the Butterfield Overland Trail as a National Historic Trail. Boozman made the announcement today during a visit to Fitzgerald Station, a stop along the historic route.

The trail was used to transport mail and passengers between St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and San Francisco, California, serving as the route of the longest stagecoach operation in history. Much of the trail traveled through portions of Arkansas.

“The Butterfield Overland Trail played an important role in our nation’s westward expansion. Designating it as a National Historic Trail is a fitting recognition for its contributions to the growth and development of our country and the state of Arkansas,” Boozman said. “For more than a decade, I’ve been working through the process to achieve this long overdue distinction. With the introduction of this bill, we are now one step closer to accomplishing this goal.”

In June 2018, the National Park Service (NPS) announced the requirements to become a national historic trail have been met after conducting a study to evaluate the significance, feasibility, suitability and desirability of designating the routes associated with it as a national historic trail. The study was required by a provision of Public Law 111-11 that was authored by Boozman during his tenure as Congressman for the Third District of Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.

From 1858-1861, the Butterfield Overland Mail Company held a U.S. Mail contract to transport mail and passengers between the eastern termini of St. Louis and Memphis and the western terminus of San Francisco.  

It became known as the “ox-bow route” due to its curved path comprised of approximately 3,553 miles of trail routes in eight states: Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. 

The routes from St. Louis and Memphis merged in Fort Smith, and the Butterfield Overland Express stagecoaches traveled through much of the state. Stagecoaches made stops between Memphis and Fort Smith in St. Francis, Prairie, Lonoke, Faulkner, Conway, Pope, Yell, Logan and Franklin counties. The northwestern route that came out of Missouri included stops in Benton, Washington and Crawford counties.

 Four segments of the roads that the Butterfield Overland Express traveled over in Arkansas have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Potts home, a well-preserved Arkansas way station for the Butterfield Express, is still standing in Pope County and is maintained as the Potts Inn Museum on Highway 247 by the Pope County Historical Foundation.

The legislation, S. 4404, is cosponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX).


COTTON STATEMENT ON 8TH CIRCUIT RULING OF DISMEMBERMENT ABORTIONS
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) on Friday released the following statement after the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals vacated an injunction imposed by the district court preventing enforcement of Arkansas's law prohibiting "dismemberment abortions":
"After years of obstruction and delay, Arkansas is one step closer to protecting unborn babies from the barbaric method of dismemberment abortion. Today's ruling moves us toward a society that respects the dignity and worth of every human being."

 

August 07, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 07, 2020
Teachers and this year's general election were the focus of Friday's press conference hosted by Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce. Teachers will receive additional paid leave if they are forced to quarantine for COVID-19 concerns. An executive order announced Friday will also provide more Arkansans with the option to choose absentee voting this fall. 

Before launching into those announcements, Hutchinson and state health experts updated the state's latest COVID-19 figures. Arkansas witnessed one of its highest single-day increases in COVID-19 cases between Thursday and Friday. During that 24-hour period, an additional 1,011 cases were detected across the state, raising the cumulative total since the beginning of the pandemic to 48,039. Deaths increased by six to 521. Hospitalizations continue to see a net growth, with an additional nine currently hospitalized. There are currently 523 people in Arkansas hospitals due to illness caused by COVID-19. Active cases grew to 7,158. Recoveries now total 40,360 people.

During Friday's meeting, Hutchinson announced his support for a proposal which would provide school teachers and staff with an additional two weeks of paid leave for COVID-19 related quarantine. These two-weeks would supplement a teacher's existing paid leave. Funding would be provided through the CARES Act. The $20 million proposal will need to be approved by the state's CARES Act steering committee. Secretary of Education Johnny Key said the proposal was created to help ease concerns among teachers over the start of school this month.

Hutchinson also announced an executive order authorizing that anyone with COVID-19 related concerns can request an absentee ballot for the November General Election. The mandate also provides Arkansas county clerks with more time to prepare absentee ballots for counting before election day. 

Arkansas Secretary of Education Johnny Key clarified state educational guidance in regard to how schools will reopen later this month. He said every school district in Arkansas is required to open its campus to students for the start of the school. But, that does not mean students have to be physically present if they choose their district's virtual learning option.
Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
1,011 new cases
48,039 cumulative cases
7,158 active cases (53 in nursing homes, 687 in prisons, 6,418 in the community)
9 new hospitalizations
523 currently hospitalized
116 on ventilators
6 new deaths
521 total deaths
805 new recoveries
40,360 total recoveries
6,224 tests the past 24 hours
8.7% positive cumulative rate (up slightly from yesterday).
Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 182 (100 of which were in the prison at Wrightsville), Jefferson County with 61, Craighead County with 53, Mississippi County with 44, Sebastian County with 43, Washington County with 41, Independence County with 40, and Benton County with 32.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 84 positive cases with 66 recovered and 2 deaths, Union County show 464 positive cases with 365 recovered and 17 deaths, Columbia County shows 209 positive cases with 166 recovered and 8 deaths, Dallas County is showing 59 positive cases with 46 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 13 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Again, Arkansas saw an increase of 1,011 COVID-19 cases between Thursday and Friday. Deaths rose by six to 521 and Hospitalizations by nine to 523. Active cases grew to 7,158, with 53 in nursing homes, 687 in correctional facilities and 6,418 in communities. Over 5,000 tests were performed Thursday with a positivity rate of 8.7 percent. Recoveries grew to 40,360. 
In the US there has been 4,904,474 cumulative cases, 1,598,624 recoveries, and 160,437 deaths.
Globally there has been 19,176,624 cumulative cases, 11,610,064 recoveries, and 716,400 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/i0b-ky1rYw4

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.

VICKSBURG DISTRICT'S DEGRAY LAKE TO HOST YOUTH DEER HUNT WITH COVID-19 SAFETY MEASURES
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District's DeGray Lake will host its fourth annual youth deer hunt Oct. 3 and 4, and COVID-19 precautions will be in place.

The registration deadline is Sept. 5, and hunters must email Kolin Cogburn at kolin.p.cogburn@usace.army.mil for an application. For more information, contact Cogburn at 870-246-5501, extension 64015.

To be eligible for participation, hunters must be between the ages of six and 15 and accompanied by an assistant at least 21 years of age. Youth hunters may harvest a maximum of one buck and two does during the hunt.

USACE will implement COVID-19 prevention measures for the safety of all participants during the event. Interaction between participants and USACE personnel will take place outdoors at a campground or hunting locations. Participants and USACE employees will be required to wear masks when within 10 feet of one another, and participants will be provided with hand sanitizer. To minimize contact, hunters must provide their own equipment, ice chests and personal amenities, and utilize their own vehicles to travel from base to the hunting location.

Participants or USACE personnel exhibiting fever or any COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to participate.

Hunters and their locations will be selected through a random drawing process. All hunters will be provided with a packet outlining the hunt's rules and regulations, as well as a detailed map of their hunting area. Each hunting area will contain ground blinds and two-person ladder stands for hunters' use.

The purpose of the hunt is to encourage young people to become more involved in outdoor recreation and habitat preservation. Last year, five young people participated in the event and harvested a total of four deer.

The USACE Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation's toughest challenges. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana that holds seven major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. The district is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.

MARKETING WORKSHOP  - IDENTIFYING YOUR BEST CUSTOMER FOR GROWTH
We can all acknowledge that we need customers in order to succeed as a small business. Knowing who they are isn't enough in today's highly competitive marketplace. Steve Jobs said it best when he said, "Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves." During this webinar, we will explore what it means to become customer obsessed.

August 11, 2020 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/424697341

The Southern Arkansas University SBTDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration through a partnership with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the SAU Rankin College of Business. All ASBTDC programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.  Contact Kristen Cribb at (870) 235-5033.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR TRENT GARNER
August 7, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – More than 28,000 Arkansas residents work in the forest products industry, cutting trees, producing paper and pulp, manufacturing furniture and shipping wood products across the world.

The majority of those jobs are in rural areas. They support ancillary occupations that bring the annual payroll of forestry-related occupations to $1.7 billion. The value of standing timber is estimated to be more than $12.6 billion.

The timber industry accounts for 5.1 percent of the total state economy, which means that forestry makes a bigger contribution to the Arkansas economy than it does in any other southern state. Forestry accounts for 4.6 percent of the Mississippi economy and 4.5 percent of Alabama’s, but only 0.8 percent of the economy of Texas.

About 55 percent of Arkansas, or almost 19 million acres, is forested. Dallas County is the most heavily forested County, according to a Farm Bureau report. It is 94 percent forested. Mississippi County is the least covered in forest, with only five percent.

Most of the forest in Arkansas is hardwood, and about half of the pine forests are planted. Arkansas is the top state for planting oak seedlings in the South.

Also, Arkansas has the largest area of national forest in the South, with 2.5 million acres in the Ouachita and the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.

In the 10-year period from 2008 through 2017, Arkansas lost an average of 22,740 acres of forest a year to wildfires.

The state Forestry Division was created in 1931 by an act of the legislature, with the purpose of protecting timberland from fires and natural hazards, while promoting the overall health of forests.

Last year Searcy County lost the most acreage to forest fires, with almost 11,000 acres burned. Izard County was second, with more than 6,600 acres of forest lost to fire. Chicot County, in the farm country of southeast Arkansas, came in at the bottom of the list with only three acres of forest lost to fire.

Insects such as beetles, moths, wood borers, worms and weevils can significantly reduce the value of a forest. Trees also can get diseased, especially when they’re under stress from drought or heat. Most of the common diseases are a type of fungus that cause blight, scale, spots, mildew and rust, according to the Cooperative Extension Service.

The University of Arkansas at Monticello has the only school of forestry in the state, but most of our state-supported colleges and universities have programs in agri-business, biology or environmental sciences.

Last year the Extension Service Plant Clinic received 3,321 plant samples for diagnosis of a disease.

County extension agents or staff at the Forestry Commission also help landowners market their timber. Private non-industrial landowners have about 58 percent of the forest land in Arkansas. Harvesting timber may not be their main source of income, but if managed wisely it can become a valuable investment.

Paper products made up almost 4 percent of total Arkansas exports overseas last year. Exports of paper have been on a three-year decline, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Exports of recovered waste and scrap paper, with wood pulp, have increased over the same period, from accounting for less than 2 percent of total Arkansas exports to more than 4.25 percent.
 

SENATE VA COMMITTEE ADVANCES BILL CHAMPIONED BY BOOZMAN TO SUPPORT WOMEN VETERANS
WASHINGTON—The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (VA) this week passed legislation championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that would improve VA care and services for women veterans.

The Deborah Sampson Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Boozman and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), would eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face and help ensure the VA can address the needs of women veterans who are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment and go without needed health care. 

“More women are answering the call to serve in uniform. The modern makeup of our veteran population requires us to reexamine how we can best serve their needs. Removing the obstacles women face to accessing the care and benefits they earned is necessary to fulfilling our promise to these veterans. We are one step closer to making the VA more accommodating to the unique challenges facing these brave former service members,” Boozman said.

“Women are the fastest growing population of veterans and VA needs to be fully prepared to meet their needs,” said Ranking Member Tester. “The landmark passage of our Deborah Sampson Act sends a very important message—not only to women veterans, but to the American public—that my colleagues and I came together during politically turbulent times to do what’s right. In this case, it means getting one step closer to providing critical support to our sisters, mothers, and daughters who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.”

There are 19,000 women veterans in Arkansas. According to VA data, women comprised nine percent of the nationwide veteran population in 2015. That number is expected to increase to more than 16 percent within the next 25 years

 
 

August 06, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 06, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson was not present for the daily briefing. He is attending a meeting of governors of the US.

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
735 new cases (44 in prisons, 514 in the community)
514 currently hospitalized (down 2 from yesterday)
111 on ventilators (up 5 from yesterday)
7 new deaths
515 total deaths
6,958 active cases (71 in nursing homes, 548 in prisons, 6,339 in the community)
47,028 cumulative cases
39,555 recoveries
4,514 tests the past 24 hours
27,998 tests to date in August (goal is 180,000 plus 10,000 antigen tests)
8.65% positive rate cumulative (up slightly from yesterday).

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 143, Craighead County with 69, Sebastian County with 62, Poinsett County with 27, Benton County with 24, Garland County with 24, Crittenden County with 23, Mississippi County with 23, Greene County with 22 and Saline County with 21.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 84 positive cases with 64 recovered and 2 deaths, Union County show 458 positive cases with 359 recovered and 17 deaths, Columbia County shows 209 positive cases with 165 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 59 positive cases with 44 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 13 positive cases with 11 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.
Today Governor Asa Hutchinson did approve the state active duty call-up of an additional 8 Guardsmen to support the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Medical personnel from 188th Air Wing and 189th Air Wing will assist with medical screening.

Arkansas Air National Guardsmen will assist the Arkansas Department of Corrections with COVID-19 screening under the direction of Wellpath, the contracted medical provider. The Guardsmen will report to the Department of Corrections on August 10.

In addition to the 8 called to duty today, 40 Guardsmen are still providing the following support to state agencies:
Four Guardsmen are providing logistics support to distribute personal protective equipment and medical supplies at a warehouse in North Little Rock, Ark.
Nine Guardsmen are providing case management and call center support at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Ark.
Fourteen Guardsmen are providing facility support and patient transport at a COVID-19 positive isolation facility in Little Rock, Ark.
Thirteen Guardsmen are providing case management support at the Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock, Ark.

The Arkansas National Guard assumes support roles to augment civil authorities, where needed and directed by the Governor, to help in a crisis.
In the US there has been 4,854,690 cumulative cases, 1,577,851 recoveries, and 159,433 deaths.

Globally there has been 18,897,857 cumulative cases, 11,402,427 recoveries, and 710,136 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://www.facebook.com/arhealthdept/videos/1035312490248906/

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

CANDIDATES OUACHITA COUNTY 2020 GENERAL ELECTION
 

 

 

Name                                                    City                        Ward                                     File Date
Mitchell Pate                                     Bearden                  Ward 1, Pos 1                       08-04-20
Carolyn Pate                                      Bearden                  Ward 1, Pos 2                      08-04-20
Sherry Hiller                                     Bearden                   Ward 1, Pos 2                      08-03-20
Ronnie D Quarles                             Bearden                   Ward 2, Pos 1                      07-29-20
Melvia Buckley                                Bearden                    Ward 2, Pos 1                     08-03-20
Leon Coston                                     Bearden                    Ward 2, Pos 1                     08-04-20
Phillip Lambert                                 Bearden                    Ward 2, Pos 2                    08-03-20

Donna Stewart                                Camden                     City Clerk                           08-04-20
Yolanda Clemons Lewis                 Camden                     City Clerk                           08-05-20
Amy Tatum                                     Camden                     City Clerk                           08-04-20
Danita Webster                               Camden                     City Clerk                           08-03-20
James Bell                                      Camden                     Ward 1, Pos 1                      08-05-20
Gwendolyn Edwards                     Camden                     Ward 1, Pos 2                       08-05-20
L.E. Lindsey                                  Camden                     Ward 1, Pos 2                       08-04-20
Lawrence “Joe” Askew                 Camden                     Ward 2, Pos 1                       07-31-20
Scott Bodenhamer                         Camden                     Ward 2, Pos 2                       07-31-20
William S. McCoy                         Camden                    Ward 2, Pos 2                       08-03-20
Marvin L. Moore                           Camden                    Ward 3, Pos 1                       08-03-20
Sandra Lee                                     Camden                    Ward 3, Pos 2                       08-03-20
Cecil McDonald                            Camden                     Ward 3. Pos 2                       08-03-20
Willie T. Cooper                            Camden                    Ward 3, Pos 2                        08-05-20
Terrie Smith                                  Camden                     Ward 4, Pos 1                        08-04-20
Chris Aregood                              Camden                     Ward 4, Pos 2                        07-31-20

Jeanette Ponder                            Chidester                    Recorder/Treasurer              08-04-20
John Truman Gosvenor               Chidester                    Ward 1, Pos 1                       08-04-20
Jessica Clay                                 Chidester                    Ward 1, Pos 1                       08-04-20
Myrtle Nell Pratt                          Chidester                   Ward 1, Pos 2                       07-30-20
Edward Szymanski                      Chidester                   Ward 2, Pos 1                       08-04-20
Carolyn A. McKenzie                 Chidester                    Ward 2, Pos 2                       08-04-20

Amanda Harcrow                        East Camden               Recorder/Treasurer              07-31-20
Jason Thomas                              East Camden              Ward 1, Pos 1                       07-31-20
Linda Starr                                  East Camden               Ward 1, Pos 2                       08-03-20
Rhonda Dunn                              East Camden               Ward 2, Pos 1                       07-31-20
Thurnell Green                            East Camden               Ward 2, Pos 2                       07-29-20
Steven Hiller                               East Camden               Ward 2, Pos 2                       08-05-20

 

HARMONY GROVE WATER ASSOCIATION A PRECAUTIONARY BOIL ORDER LIFT
Lift date: August 5, 2020
The Department of Health has has released the 'boil water' notice issued on 7/30/2020 at 1 :44:00 pm by Michael Gairich for the entire system. This order was issued as a precautionary measure because of the possibility that contaminated water may have entered the distribution system as a result of complete loss in normal system pressure.

Bacteriological samples taken on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 were found to be 'safe' and a satisfactory disinfectant level has been established throughout the distribution system. The water is therefore considered 'safe' for human consumption and the 'boil water' notice is hereby lifted.

The boil water order was due to construction related water line break. For further information, CONTACT For more information contact Andrew Shaw - District Engineer - Engineering Section at (501) 661-2623.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: PROTECT YOUR CREDIT AND IDENTITY FROM UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD
LITTLE ROCK – Unemployment fraud has become a prevalent problem in Arkansas and around the nation. The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services recently announced over 37,000 suspected fraudulent unemployment claims have been identified and are being investigated in Arkansas. Depending upon the extent of the fraud, consumers may choose to request a fraud alert or security freeze with the credit reporting agencies or to seek an ID Theft Passport from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s Office if unauthorized lines of credit have been opened.

“Con artists are filing unemployment claims using stolen information and potentially ruining the good names of nearly 40,000 Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “No one is safe from these criminals who have brazenly attempted to file a claim pretending to be Governor Asa Hutchinson.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for those who believe they have been a victim of identity theft:
File a fraud alert with one of the three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.
File a police report with your local law enforcement and get a copy of the report as soon as it is available.
For unemployment fraud, contact the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services’ fraud hotline at (501) 682-1058 or complete the secure fraud reporting form online at dws.arkansas.gov.
Get a copy of an identity theft booklet, which provides step-by-step instructions for dealing with identity thieves, including affidavits and forms for your financial institutions.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Cancel any accounts you believe have been compromised or have been opened fraudulently.
Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report to restrict access and help prevent additional instances of identity theft.
If fraudulent lines of credit have been opened in your name, then consider applying for an ID Theft Passport from the Attorney General’s office.

Many consumers are rightfully concerned about the safety of their personal and financial information and want to prevent fraud and identity theft. Attorney General Rutledge encourages Arkansans to never give their personal information over the phone or via email, to use strong passwords on all online accounts and to be diligent in reviewing all types of financial statements.

Committing identity theft in Arkansas is a felony and comes with a sentence that could include incarceration, fines up to $25,000 and restitution. Consumers are advised that if you receive funds that you did not apply for and that you were not expecting, do not accept them. Instead, report the matter to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services at (501) 682-1058 and to local law enforcement. Even if you did not request the funds, accepting such funds as part of an unemployment scam is unlawful.

For more information on identity theft and other consumer related issues, or to apply for an ID Theft Passport, contact the Arkansas Attorney General's Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

ARKANSAS RECIPIENTS OF PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE ANNOUNCED 
LITTLE ROCK — Two Arkansas teachers were recently selected as recipients of the 2019 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The National Science Foundation, on behalf of The White House, oversees the program that recognizes teachers who have demonstrated a commitment to professional development, innovative teaching techniques, and technology use in their classrooms. Each recipient will receive a $10,000 award, presidential citation, and a trip to Washington, DC, for a series of recognition events, professional development activities, and an awards ceremony.

2019 Recipients

Mary Hatch, Environmental and Spatial Technology, Grades 6-8, Harrison Middle School, Harrison School District (Science Award)

Melodie Murray, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, AP Calculus, Advanced Topics and Mathematical Modeling, Pocahontas High School, Pocahontas School District (Math Award)

“Math and science principles are heavily ingrained in today’s jobs, as well as jobs of the future,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “In order to be prepared for the workforce, exceptional teachers in these fields are critical to success. I am happy to congratulate Ms. Hatch and Ms. Murray for receiving these presidential awards. This recognition is among the highest in the STEM field, and these two outstanding educators are well deserving of this honor.”

Each year math and science educators are nominated on the state level. State finalists then have the potential to receive national recognition. A national committee comprised of scientists, mathematicians, and educators reviews all state finalists and recommends up to 108 teachers to receive PAEMST awards in mathematics, science, and computer science. Winners are chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. territories, and schools operated in the United States and overseas by the Department of Defense Education Activity.

To learn more about the awards program, go to https://www.paemst.org

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AWARDS OVER $445,000 TO NASHVILLE FOR BROADBAND
Nashville, Ark. (August 6, 2020) - The Arkansas Department of Commerce has announced its fourth Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) broadband grant. The grant, in the amount of $448,450 is awarded to the City of Nashville in partnership with Premier Holdings, LLC. The project will deploy fixed wireless to homes in Nashville.

“This is the fourth project that the Department of Commerce has funded through the ARC Program,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “We will continue to invest in broadband infrastructure that will help Arkansas compete at a global level.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided challenges for Arkansas,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “However, it has also provided us a unique opportunity to deploy broadband quickly to communities. By the end of the year, the entire city of Nashville will have 25/3 Mbps broadband, which is great step as we close the digital divide in Arkansas.”

The Arkansas Department of Commerce received $19.3M in CARES Act funds for ARC grants after an approval from the CARES Act Steering Committee and the Arkansas legislature. Grant recipients must expend the COVID-19 federal funds by December 30 of this year. Additionally, $4.7M is available in state funds for projects that would extend beyond December 30. The goal of the program is to provide high-speed broadband to rural communities.

“Nashville is an important piece to the economy in Southwest Arkansas and District 10,” said State Senator Larry Teague. “Connecting Nashville with high-speed broadband will ensure that we can continue to grow and thrive.”

“Connecting Nashville is a win for my district and the people I proudly represent,” said State Representative Justin Gonzales. “But we cannot stop there. We must continue to expand the broadband footprint in Arkansas into rural parts of the state.

The department is currently evaluating applications with a focus on projects that can deploy broadband to qualified areas before December 30. For more information or to apply for an ARC grant, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov.
 

SENATE APPROVES COMPREHENSIVE VETERANS MENTAL HEALTH BILL THAT INCLUDES BOOZMAN-WARNER INITIATIVE TO BOOST VA SUICIDE PREVENTION
WASHINGTON–A potentially life-saving initiative led by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA) that will create a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grant program to leverage veteran-serving non-profits and other community networks in order to reduce veteran suicides has passed the Senate.

The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, a comprehensive bill that expands veterans’ access to mental health services, includes provisions from the Boozman-Warner IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act. The Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent.

The Boozman-Warner language enhances coordination and planning of veteran mental health and suicide prevention services and would better measure the effectiveness of these programs in order to reduce the alarming number of veteran suicides. The bill creates a new grant program to enable the VA to conduct additional outreach through veteran-serving non-profits in addition to state and local organizations.

“We can’t take our focus off the veteran suicide crisis even with all that is going on in the world right now. In recent years, Congress has increased funding to reach at-risk veterans, yet the number who commit suicide each day has remained largely unchanged. It’s clear a new strategy is necessary and the approach that Senator Warner and I have proposed in this bill is a key part of that. Coordinating and sharing information between the VA and veteran-serving organizations that have the common goal to save lives will have a positive impact,” Boozman said.

“Congress came together in a bipartisan fashion to make sure our veterans receive the tools and resources they need to heal from the invisible wounds of war. Right now, too many veterans still die by suicide long after having completed their tours of duty. This important legislation will help tackle the alarming rate of veteran suicide by ensuring our military heroes have the support they need after faithfully serving our country. It’s my hope that the President quickly signs this critical life-saving bill into law,” Warner said.

The VA estimates that around 20 veterans commit suicide each day. That number has unfortunately remained roughly unchanged despite the drastic increase in funding. Over the last ten years, Congress more than tripled the VA’s funding for suicide prevention efforts to $222 million.

Only six of those 20 veterans are receiving healthcare services at the VA. That’s why Boozman and Warner are empowering the VA to share information with veteran-serving non-profits and requiring it to develop a tool to monitor progress so that resources can be concentrated on successful programs.

The IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act was introduced in June 2019. Days later, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie called the bill “key” to unlocking the veteran suicide crisis at a committee hearing. In January 2020, provisions of the Warner-Boozman legislation was included in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, which was unanimously approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. President Donald Trump is supportive of the solution outlined in the IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act and included the approach in the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) which was rolled out at the White House earlier this summer.

 

AUGUST 5, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE – AUGUST 05, 2020
Deaths in Arkansas due to COVID-19 surpassed 500 on Wednesday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. The announcement was made during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Wednesday afternoon. Deaths from COVID-19 rose by 18 to 508 people since the beginning of the outbreak. Overall cases saw a sizeable growth Wednesday as well, with 912 new cases recorded between Tuesday and Wednesday. That leaves Arkansas' cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions at 46,293. Hutchison reported that hospitalizations decreased by 10 to 508. Active cases grew to 6,937 and recoveries to nearly 39,000.
Hutchinson said Arkansas' COVID-19 realities are closely following predictions released by UAMS earlier this summer. That report predicted 50,000 cumulative cases by August 10th and 543 deaths by August 15th. Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by announcing that he has named Dr. Jose Romero the new Secretary of Health replacing Dr. Nate Smith who left to work at the CDC. The Governor noted that both Dr. Smith and Dr. Romero were nationally recognized leaders in public health, and that Dr. Romero currently chairs a national groups dealing with immunizations.
The Governor announced that a health department directive has been posted concerning school music and band programs. A link to the directive is below.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/…/directive_Community_and_…

Johnny Key, Director of the Arkansas Department of Education, announced on Wednesday a new "Ready for School" resource call center for parents with questions or concerns related to the start of school this fall. The call center can be reached by calling 1-833-353-6050, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Key also spoke to concerns related to the start of school this month. Key cited the resiliency of a child's immune system as one factor in favor of reopening schools. He also said education officials are closely following the start of school in other states in hopes of better predicting what results the return of schools will have in Arkansas.
Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe, who chairs the High School Sports Advisory Committee, spoke briefly about the committee's work in preparation of fall sports.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
912 new cases in Arkansas (158 in prisons, 754 in the community)
516 hospitalized currently (down 10 from yesterday)
18 new deaths
508 deaths total
46,293 cumulative cases.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Chicot County with 149, Pulaski County with 79, Sebastian County with 51, Washington County with 42, Mississippi County with 35, Garland County with 29, Craighead County with 28, Saline County with 26, Pope County with 24, Ashley County with 21, Crittenden County with 21, and Benton County with 20.
During Wednesday's press conference, Hutchinson stated his administration's plan to test 100 percent of Arkansas' prison inmates by the end of the month. National Guard specialists will assist with this task. Due to the close proximity of inmates, COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect within the prison system. At one prison alone, the Ouachita River Unit in Malvern, had 577 active cases out of a prison population of 1,700 inmates. 

Again, Arkansas saw the COVID-19 death toll rise by 18 to 508. Total cases grew by 912 to 46,293. Active cases increased to 6,937. Hospitalizations decreased by 10 to 516. There have been 38,848 recoveries since the start of the pandemic. A total of 5,077 tests were performed on Tuesday.

In the US there has been 4,793,950 cumulative cases, 1,528,979 recoveries, and 157,416 deaths.

Globally there has been 18,614,542 cumulative cases, 11,181,018 recoveries, and 702,330 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/Ln-5P-LM-6w

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.


EDUCATORS CALL FOR STANDARDIZED TEST SUSPENSION TO FOCUS ON MEETING STUDENTS' NEEDS
In light of the ongoing public health emergency due to COVID-19 and the consequent upheaval it has caused in every public school community across Arkansas, the Arkansas Education Association today asked Secretary Johnny Key to halt high stakes, standardized testing for the 2020-21 school year. 
As we prioritize the health and safety of students, educators and the broader school community, it would be detrimental to shift our focus and our resources away from achieving this goal.
In a letter, which you can read in full here, educators also call for a suspension of the Teacher Evaluation and Support System (TESS) for the same reasons, as well as a shift in professional development requirements to focus on topics that will better focus on student needs.
These include​​ trauma-informed educational strategies; supporting social and emotional health; as well as, virtual and other off-site teaching and learning strategies.
 Educators must have the time and other resources to determine how best to offer safety, support and educational opportunity to all of Arkansas’s public-school students during the 2020-2021 school year. Taking these actions will aid in achieving that goal. 


CONTRACT CHANGES PROVIDE MORE WORK TO LOCKHEED OPERATIONS IN CAMDEN
by Talk Business & Politics staff
Contract modifications received by Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin will support production at the company’s manufacturing operation in Camden.
A $1.042 billion modification “for incidental services, hardware, facilities, equipment, and all technical, planning, management, manufacturing, and testing efforts to produce Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target Advanced Capability-3 missiles,” is for work to be completed by October 2024. Camden is one of six Lockheed locations to perform the work.

According to the Department of Defense, the work is for U.S. Army missile procurement and supports foreign military sales to Bahrain, Germany, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Republic of Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.

A $226.254 million contract modification is for the M270A2 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, with Camden one of three Lockheed locations to perform the work. The contract calls for work to be completed in August 2023 and is for missile sales to the U.S. Army.

Lockheed Martin in October 2019 broke ground on a new $142 million Long Range Fires Production Facility in Camden that is estimated to add 326 jobs. Once construction is complete by the beginning of 2021, the new Long Range facility will add more than 70,000-square-feet of production and office space to the current property in Highland Industrial Park, supporting increased orders for the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), the Low-Cost Reduced-Range Practice Rocket (LCRRPR) and other associated work.

AGFC GRADUATES NEW CLASS OF WILDLIFE OFFICERS
MAYFLOWER – One dozen new wildlife officers will be hitting the fields and forests of The Natural State this summer, after graduating from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s training program. The graduation ceremony took place July 31 at the H.C. “Red” Morris Enforcement Training Center off Arkansas Highway 89.

With social-distancing protocols in place, this class of graduating officers did not receive quite the fanfare as previous classes, but they were not shorted any training, thanks to new techniques adopted by instructors in the face of COVID-19.

“I regret that these officers did not get to enjoy some of the celebration as previous classes, but they are sure to make their own marks on their communities, as many officers before them have done,” said Pat Fitts, director of the AGFC. “These men and women do not sign up for this job to be recognized, they do it because protecting the outdoors and serving the people in their communities is a calling they’ve felt compelled to answer.” 

Because of restrictions to large gatherings, the graduation ceremony was kept small, with only members of the graduates’ families and a few key AGFC personnel invited. Families were allowed to sit together, but each group was screened before entry and separated from other family groups in attendance. 

Despite the changes required by COVID-19, this class of cadets did not get slighted when it came to the training needed to become an AGFC wildlife officer. The class began March 8, and had three weeks of in-person training before the center had to be closed because of social distancing protocols.

“They were introduced to what would be expected of them during that time and we had online training through Google Meets during the time when the center was temporarily closed,” said Lt. Tracey Blake, assistant training administrator for the AGFC. “They also came back for a week of in-person instruction once some of the COVID-related restrictions were loosened. You just can’t teach some things, like shooting, self-defense and accident investigation techniques online.”

Blake says cadets had to maintain the same physical training regiment on their own while the center was shut down, and they were paired with veteran wildlife officers along the way to make sure they received all the resources they needed to get the job done. 

“They will go out in the field in their assigned counties and have an eight week field training period before hunting seasons begin, then we’ll likely have them come back to the training center for three or four more weeks of training,” Blake said. “A lot of people think the first training is all a wildlife officer sees, but there’s a lot of in-service training required of every wildlife officer throughout their career. It’s not a one and done sort of deal.” 

Capt. Sydney Carman also directs the cadet-training program with Lt. Tracey Blake. Many AGFC enforcement officers serve as instructors, and many AGFC biologists and experts from other agencies are brought in to teach specialized topics.

Assignment of the new officers will fill several vacancies in the AGFC enforcement ranks. 

The 2020 graduates and their county assignments are:
Caleb McClanahan - Madison County
Kent Slape - Newton County
Tyler Staggs - Johnson County
Jake Standford - Sevier County
Cody Stone - Nevada County
Clint Park - Ouachita County
Renner Smith - Calhoun County

Eric Rawls - Cleveland County
Nate Baker - Drew County
Stephanie Carter - Ashley County
David Foret - Lincoln County
Michael - Dollard - Phillips County

CIVIL RIGHTS HISTORY COMES ALIVE ON EXPLOREPINEBLUFF.COM
Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - Pine Bluff, AR: The Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail, a digital brochure that explores the pivotal role Pine Bluff has played in Civil Rights history, is now available on ExplorePineBluff.com.
The Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail delivers 22 short, powerful video stories about people and places with Pine Bluff connections who figured large in the Civil Rights movement. “Pine Bluff boasts credentials on par with Selma, Little Rock, and Montgomery,” said Sheri Storie, Executive Director of Explore Pine Bluff. “Pine Bluff was the site of boycotts, sit-ins, demonstrations, and bombings as African Americans demanded an end to segregated public facilities and jobs in the early 1960s.”

The Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail includes segments dedicated to attorneys Harold Flowers, Wiley Branton, and Leo Branton, who played prominent roles in groundbreaking cases like the Little Rock Central High crisis, the integration of the University of Arkansas Law School, and the drive to register black voters. Judge George Howard, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Black Panther Bobby Hutton, all key figures in the fight for equality, are also featured, along with Paul Greenberg, Dick Gregory, Delores Jean York, George Edmund Haynes, Sarah E. Howard, William Levan Sherrill, James Nabrit, Jr., and Vernon Jordan, Jr. One segment explains the groundbreaking psychological research performed by the husband and wife team of Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark, research that was ultimately presented before the U.S. Supreme Court.

People aren’t the only stars of the show. The Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail also tells the stories of places in Pine Bluff that served as backdrops for history, including the UAPB/AM&N Freedom House, the Missouri Pacific/Greyhound Bus Station, Saint James United Methodist Church, the Woolworth’s Store, McDonald’s Restaurant, the Jefferson County Courthouse, the Williams Building, and more.

“Every one of these stories is riveting, but most of them have gone untold until now,” Sheri explained. “Thanks to the efforts of Jimmy Cunningham, Explore Pine Bluff’s Interpretive Coordinator, we are finally able to bring this history to anyone with a smart phone or digital device.”

Sheri noted that more Civil Rights-related digital historical products will be added to ExplorePineBluff.com, including an in-depth video docu-series relaying incredible, mostly untold Civil Rights and freedom stories, and a virtual museum which will provide even more in-depth coverage of Pine Bluff’s connection to Civil Rights history.

“Until it’s safe to travel again, Explore Pine Bluff is committed to providing educational and informative online experiences,” added Sheri. “These stories deserve wider recognition and that’s what we’re giving them.”

Access the Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail 

Explore Pine Bluff, governed by the Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission, is a destination marketing agency that promotes Pine Bluff as a year-round destination for leisure, business, group, and individual travel. In addition to allocating a majority of operating funds for the Pine Bluff Convention Center, the Commission provides funding assistance to many Pine Bluff attractions, festivals, sporting events, and special events. For more information, visit ExplorePineBluff.com or call 870.534.2121.

COTTON, BLACKBURN, LOEFFLER BILL TO ALLOW CONCEALED CARRY FOR PROSECUTORS, FEDERAL JUDGES
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), introduced the Protect Our Prosecutors and Judges Act, a bill that expands the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act—which allows current and retired LEOs to carry concealed firearms—to include current and retired state, local, and federal prosecutors, as well as federal judges. Bill text may be found here.

“Judges and prosecutors have been the target of growing threats and violence simply for doing their jobs. They should be able to protect their own lives and their families. Our bill will allow federal judges and prosecutors to defend themselves in a similar way to other law enforcement officers,” said Cotton.

“Prosecutors and judges make difficult decisions daily that have the potential to put them in harm’s way,” said Loeffler. “In a day and age when personal information is so easily accessible online, these public servants should be able to protect themselves and their families at all times. I'm proud to support this commonsense legislation that extends the right to self-protection for those working for justice every day.”

“Right now, law enforcement officials are facing increased threats to their safety just for doing their jobs,” said Blackburn. “Cities across the country have seen a spike in crime in the wake of weeks-long protests, making the thin blue line appear even thinner than usual. I am pleased to join my colleagues in this crucial effort to ensure members of law enforcement are able to protect themselves in case of emergency.”

Background:

Prosecutors and judges have recently been the target of attacks due to their role in the criminal justice system.

According to a U.S. Marshals Service report from this year, “threats and inappropriate comments” against protected persons increased by a magnitude of four since 2015.

The legislation is supported by the National District Attorneys Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association.


COTTON INTRODUCES AMENDMENT BLOCKING CHINA FROM RECEIVING HEALS ACT FUNDING
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has introduced an amendment to the HEALS Act that would prohibit any funds in the HEALS Act-or residual CARES Act funds-from supporting any entity that is under Chinese ownership, control, or influence. The legislation also mandates that the Secretary of the Treasury claw back CARES Act funds provided to Chinese firms. The amendment comes in response to reports that Chinese-owned companies received PPP funding from the CARES Act passed earlier this year.
"China unleashed this plague on the world and they must be held accountable-not given a cash bonus by the American government. My amendment would ensure all coronavirus relief funds stay right here in the United States where they're needed the most," said Cotton.

 
 

August 04, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE – AUGUST 04, 2020
Fraud continues to slow down unemployment relief for individuals across Arkansas. That was the message shared by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other state officials during Tuesday's statewide COVID-19 Taskforce press conference.

Figures released during the press conference showed an increase 784 cases from Monday. The cumulative total since the start of the pandemic is now 45,381. An additional 15 deaths were reported over the previous 24 hours for a new total of 490. Hospitalizations increased by 13 to 526. There are currently 6,891 active cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas with over 38,000 Arkansans recovered. 
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 77 positive cases with 60 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 433 positive cases with 343 recovered and 16 deaths, Columbia County shows 193 positive cases with 153 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 58 positive cases with 39 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 13 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

State officials said approximately 27,000 pandemic unemployment assistance claims have raised red flags for a number of potential fraud concerns. A further 10,000 are within the state's traditional unemployment insurance program. Many of these claims are expected to be legitimate. Others will be turned over to federal law enforcement for further investigation.

Hutchinson said con-artists are sending out false unemployment verification letters to citizens across the state in hopes of fraudulently applying for state assistance. Hutchinson said he was one such Arkansan who recently received a letter declaring his eligibility for unemployment assistance despite never having filed for it.

Anyone who receives a similar letter - and who has not themselves filed for unemployment - should file a police report with the local law enforcement officer. Victims are also asked to report the fraud to state investigators by calling (501) 682-1058 or visiting DWS.arkansas.gov.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said the state is organizing verification centers across the state to assist people whose unemployment claims are on hold due to a fraud investigation. He said many legitimate claims are on hold due to the high amount of fraud suspected in the unemployment assistance program.

Dr. Thomas Romero, director of the Arkansas Department of Health, said contact tracers in the state are facing difficulty reaching out to those infected with COVID-19 and the people with whom they have come into contact. He stressed the need for people to share accurate information with contact tracers when they call. He also urged anyone who feels the need to take a COVID-19 test to quarantine themselves until they receive their results. 

Again, Arkansas saw an additional 784 cases of COVID-19 on Monday for a new total of 45,381. Deaths increased by 15 to 490 and hospitalizations by 13 to 526. Active cases increased to 6,891. Of those active cases, 393 are in the state's prison system, 88 are in nursing homes and the remaining 6,410 cases are in the community. Over 5,000 tests were performed Monday. The average positivity rate is around 8.5 percent. 
To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/9XfZzJ6mfvIFor additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.


CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, August 6th at Catherine's Bistro. The program will be presented by Dr. Larry Braden who will be discussing COVID-19.

You are required to wear a mask was entering and leaving the building, if you do not have one they will provide you with one. Your temperature will be taken, and you'll sign in and report your temperature. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.

AGHERITAGE FARM CREDIT SERVICES PROMOTES CANNON
Little Rock, Ark. – August 3, 2020 - AgHeritage Farm Credit Services has promoted Clay Cannon from the Department of Capital Markets to VP of Lending and Branch Manager for the Pine Bluff branch, according to Cole Plafcan, SVP Chief Lending and Marketing Officer.

Cannon joined AgHeritage in September 2015 as a Credit Officer. In July 2018, he transitioned to an AgriBusiness Credit Officer.

Cannon attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where he earned a Bachelor of Science and Arts in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

AgHeritage Farm Credit Services is a financial cooperative with owned and managed assets of approximately $1.54 billion as of December 31, 2019. The company provides credit and related services to more than 3,100 farmers, ranchers and producers or harvesters of aquatic products in 24 Arkansas counties. 

Branch offices are located in Batesville, Brinkley, Lonoke, McGehee, Newport, Pine Bluff, Pocahontas, Searcy and Stuttgart. 

RECIPIENTS OF FARM BUREAU FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS ANNOUNCED
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Farm Bureau Scholarship Foundation Committee has named the 13 recipients of the $3,000 Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships for the 2020-21 school year.
Scholarship recipients are Arkansas residents, members of a Farm Bureau family and enrolled as juniors or seniors in pursuit of an agriculture-related degree at a state-accredited university.

The scholarship recipients are:
Casey Arnold of Poplar Grove (Phillips County), Arkansas State University
Kaylee Breckling of Benton (Saline County), Southern Arkansas University
Conner Catt of Marion (Crittenden County), Arkansas State University
Samantha Clanton of Hermitage (Bradley County), Southern Arkansas University
Sara Gardner of Fayetteville (Washington County), UA-Fayetteville.
Jacob Hollaway of Griffithville (White County), Leo Sutterfield Scholarship, Arkansas State University
Chandler Knowles of Rison (Cleveland Columbia County), UA-Monticello
Macy Lamkin of Buckner (Lafayette County), Southern Arkansas University
Neely Purifoy of Louann (Ouachita County) Troy Buck Scholarship, Southern Arkansas University
Garrett Reynolds of Harrisburg (Poinsett County), UA-Monticello
Caleb Swears of Carlisle (Lonoke County), UA-Fayetteville
Kaylie Stone of Gurdon (Clark County), Southern Arkansas University
Kacey Williams of Greenbrier (Faulkner County), Arkansas Tech University
The scholarships are based on financial need, academic achievement, career plans, as well as character and leadership potential. The 13 scholarship recipients will receive paid installments of $1,500 per semester for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“Arkansas Farm Bureau has always been an advocate for higher education,” said Arkansas Farm Bureau President Rich Hillman of Carlisle. “The future of Arkansas agriculture is dependent on the young adults who are pursuing agricultural careers. Supporting them remains a priority for this organization.” 

Arkansas Farm Bureau and county Farm Bureau organizations have awarded more than $1 million to assist more than 2,000 youth with their college expenses. In addition to the Foundation scholarships, the organization annually awards the Romeo E. Short scholarship to students enrolled in the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas and the Marvin Vines Memorial scholarship to a broadcast journalism student at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Many county Farm Bureaus also award scholarships to young people in local communities.
Arkansas Farm Bureau is a private advocacy organization of almost 190,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.

NEIL OATSVALL NAMED 2020 ARKANSAS HISTORY TEACHER OF THE YEAR 
LITTLE ROCK — Neil Oatsvall, a teacher at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts, has been named the 2020 Arkansas History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

The institute, which promotes the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources, honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and U.S. territories each year. One of these winners will be named the 2020 National History Teacher of the Year this fall.

As a student, I always enjoyed learning about Arkansas, American, and world history,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “Not only did I appreciate learning about our ancestors, I realized that learning about our past is essential to paving a positive future. Mr. Oatsvall is one of the many critical educators who help our young students do just that. I congratulate him on being named the 2020 Arkansas History Teacher of the Year and know his students greatly benefit from his expertise, passion for history, and commitment to education."

Oatsvall is a history and social science teacher at ASMSA, where he also serves as chair of the Humanities and Fine Arts Department. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina in Asian studies and history and received a master’s degree in history from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in history from the University of Kansas. Oatsvall has published articles in various publications including Agricultural History, Environment and History, and Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies. His book manuscript is under advanced contract with the University of Alabama Press. 

Oatsvall will receive a $1,000 award, and his school will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials.

Nominations for the 2021 History Teacher of the Year are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers for the award by visiting https://bit.ly/2XsbEbp. The deadline for 2021 nominations is March 31, 2021.
 

KYLIE COWAN ACCEPTED INTO UAMS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY DOCTORAL PROGRAM
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University’s HKR Department is pleased to announce that Kylie Cowan, a senior Exercise Science major from Foreman, Arkansas, has been accepted into the UAMS Occupational Therapy Doctoral program.

Cowan, an All-American Scholar Athlete and member of the SAU softball team, will begin the program starting in January 2021. She will graduate from SAU this fall after completing her internship at Texarkana Therapy Center Pediatrics. While attending SAU, Cowan gained different levels of field experience by working as a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in Wake Village. She also works at The Nutrition Box in Ashdown.

Cowan is the daughter of Zon and Sonja Cowan. Her father Zon graduated from SAU with a BS in Industrial Technology. Her mother Sonja is an occupational therapist and completed her degree from the University of Central Arkansas. The tradition will continue as Cowan’s sister will be attending SAU this fall as a Hallman Scholar and member of SAU’s track team.

“I am really excited to start my internship this fall,” Cowan said. “I can’t thank SAU enough for helping me realize all my goals and ambitions. My classes have truly prepared me for a career as an occupational therapist, as well as becoming a personal trainer. I am very thankful for the professors in the Exercise Science program who helped me exceed my goals, and provided me with connections that will benefit me throughout my journey.”

 The HKR Department is proud of Cowan’s accomplishments and wishes her well in the next stage of her academic career.

 For more information on becoming an Exercise Science major please visit https://web.saumag.edu/hkr/.

TEXAMERICAS CENTER RANKED IN TOP 10 INDUSTRIAL PARKS BY BUSINESS FACILITIES MAGAZINE
Top media outlet for site selectors identifies TexAmericas Center; State of Texas as leaders
Texarkana, USA (August 4, 2020) – TexAmericas Center today shared its ranking as the #8 industrial park on Business Facilities’ 16th Rankings Report, an annual assessment of economic development leaders. Added this year, the category for industrial parks reflects the increasing recognition of their importance to the growth of small and middle-sized enterprises and weighs the size, space availability, shovel readiness, growth potential and unique assets in order to rank facilities. In addition to TexAmericas Center’s ranking, the State of Texas earned 48 total placements in the lists, a nod to the state’s attractiveness to companies, industries, and site selectors.

As a top industrial park, TexAmericas Center is a catalyst of economic investment in the Texarkana region. Its 12,000 acres and 3 million square feet of space is fully entitled, providing potential tenants of specialized industries options that would be difficult or cost-prohibitive to secure in other regions. Its location in the Texarkana metropolitan area offers an attractive pipeline of talent and a logistics network to rival many larger – and therefore more expensive – urban hubs. TexAmericas Center also offers a complement of unique assets like utilities, rail, fiber, and a transload provider. These factors, coupled with the organization’s reputation as problem-solvers and partners in mixed-use industrial development, led to the ranking.

Since May 2014, TexAmericas Center has increased its total leased square footage by more than 85 percent – to over 1 million square feet.

“A great industrial park needs to promote economic activity for its region, and sometimes that means taking a slightly speculative approach to development,” said Eric Voyles, Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Development Officer with TexAmericas Center. “Where others put up roadblocks, we put up welcome signs and work with current and potential tenants to find solutions that help them establish solid footing so they can grow. We’re more than landlords, we’re their partners, so we have skin in the game, too.”

The recognition comes as several other announcements are on the horizon, including long-awaited news from TexAmericas Center in addition to placemaking projects in the community.

“We’ve worked for the last ten years to remove environmental encumbrances from our properties and we anticipate an announcement by the end of the year regarding those opportunities,” shared Scott Norton, Executive Director/CEO. “It will be a game-changer for TexAmericas Center and the Texarkana region, which we are excited to share.”

In July, TexAmericas Center announced that Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company employing more than 110,000 people worldwide, will expand operations into a building at the TexAmericas Center in support of a Public/Private Partnership contract with the Red River Army Depot (RRAD).

About TexAmericas Center
Located in the Texarkana metropolitan area, TexAmericas Center (TAC) owns and operates one of the largest mixed use industrial parks in the United States. With roughly 12,000 development-ready acres of land and about 3 million square feet of commercial and industrial product, TAC services four states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas). TAC is a designated HUBZone, New Market Tax Credit Census Tract, and Foreign Tarde Zone #258. It has the operating capabilities of a municipality but functions like a traditional real estate development company, offering customized real estate solutions.

August 03, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 03, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by announcing that he had attended the first meeting today of the High School Sports Advisory Committee. The Governor also thanked the Alcoholic Beverage Commission Enforcement Division for their work concerning directives. The Governor announced that 100 antigen test analyzers had arrived in Arkansas but not the test kits needed.

School districts across Arkansas are expected to get some assistance this month in terms of combating COVID-19 transmission. That's according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who said rapid COVID-19 testing machines will be provided to local health units across the state before the start of school this month. Their use will be prioritized for district staff and students. The announcement was made during Monday's press conference hosted by Hutchinson's statewide COVID-19 Taskforce. 

With school set to begin this month, it's not just football season on the minds of state health experts. Dr. Jose Romero, director of the Arkansas Department of Health, stressed the need for Arkansans to receive their influenza vaccines with the flu season just around the corner. Those vaccines are either now available or will be soon at doctor offices and local health units. Dr. Romero said health experts are concerned what effects influenza will have on this year in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Monday marked two weeks since the start of Arkansas' face mask mandate, requiring everyone in the state to wear face masks in public environments. What impact the mandate has had on COVID-19 transmission rates has yet to be seen, but Hutchinson urged Arkansans to continue to adhere to it. He said Arkansans should not let their guard down because the virus continues to affect every corner of the state.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
787 new cases (6 in prisons, 781 in the community)
44,597 cumulative cases
513 hospitalized (down 2 from yesterday)
108 on ventilators
11 new deaths
475 deaths total
636 new recoveries
37,240 total recoveries
6,882 active cases in the state (80 in nursing homes, 392 in prisons, 6,408 in the community)
6,357 tests in the past 24 hours.

There were 194,836 tests administered in July 2020.
The testing goal for August 2020 is 190,000 plus 10,000 antigen tests.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Sebastian County with 87, Washington County with 66, Pulaski County with 54, Benton County with 42, Logan County with 37, Independence County with 32, Garland County with 29, Crittenden County with 28, Jefferson County with 25, and Mississippi County with 22.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 77 positive cases with 60 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 433 positive cases with 343 recovered and 16 deaths, Columbia County shows 193 positive cases with 153 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 58 positive cases with 39 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 13 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

In the US there has been 4,690,404 cumulative cases, 1,468,689 recoveries, and 155,124 deaths.

Globally there has been 18,149,860 cumulative cases, 10,753,318 recoveries, and 690,624 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/9XfZzJ6mfvI

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

FOUR TEACHERS NAMED 2021 ARKANSAS TEACHER OF THE YEAR STATE SEMI-FINALISTS 
LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key announced the four teachers selected as 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year State Semi-Finalists. The semi-finalists were selected among 12 regional finalists and were recognized at an event today at the Governor’s Mansion. 
“With so many wonderful educators around the state, each year it becomes difficult to narrow the list even more,” Key said. “I congratulate these four for their commitment to their students, communities, and the teaching profession. Each of these outstanding educators serves as a role model of excellence and is deserving of this honor.”

State Semi-Finalists 
Tia Brickey
Library Media Specialist
Park Avenue Elementary School
Stuttgart School District
Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative 
Amber Harbin
Grades K-8 Science, STEM, and Project Lead the Way
Forest Heights STEM Academy
Little Rock School District
Pulaski County 
Susan Henderson
Library Media Specialist
Ellen Smith Elementary School
Conway School District
Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative 
Susanna Post
Grades 9-12
Math and Business Technology
Belle Point Alternative Center
Fort Smith School District
Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative 
Each semi-finalist received a certificate, medallion, and a $1,000 award at today’s ceremony. The financial prize is made possible by a grant provided by the Walton Family Foundation, a long-time supporter of the program.

The ATOY Selection Committee will conduct site visits, to include classroom observations and interviews, with the 2021 ATOY being named this fall.
To learn more about the ATOY program, visit https://bit.ly/1iT6bUe.



SEBASTIAN COUNTY INMATE DIES; ASP/CID INVESTIGATINGAUGUST 1, 2020
The Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department has requested the assistance of the Arkansas State Police in the investigation of an in-custody death that occurred yesterday (Friday, July 31st) at the county detention center.
Jacob W. Honeycutt, 36, of Fort Smith was pronounced dead at Baptist Hospital in Fort Smith at 9:04 last night.
Detention center officers were alerted at approximately 8:30 PM by another inmate in the jail that Honeycutt appeared to be experiencing a seizure.
Nurses at the detention center and sheriff’s department personnel administered life saving measures to Honeycutt and contacted emergency medical personnel to transport Honeycutt to the local hospital.
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are leading an investigation of the death.  Honeycutt’s body is being transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where a manner and cause of death will be determined.

 
 

July 31,2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 29, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by thanking teachers of Arkansas and mentioning that Secretary of Education Johnny Key and Lance Taylor with the Arkansas Activities Association would join him today at the briefing to discuss fall sports.
Before making that announcement, Gov. Hutchinson and state health experts updated Arkansas' figures related to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. An additional 752 cases were detected over the 24-hour period, increasing the state's total to 42,511. Eleven more deaths were reported for a new total of 453. Hospitalizations grew by three to 507. Currently, there are 6,645 active cases in the state and 35,413 recoveries. Over the previous 24 hours, the state received over 7,000 COVID-19 test results with a positivity rate of approximately 10 percent.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 72 positive cases with 50 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 379 positive cases with 320 recovered and 16 deaths, Columbia County shows 172 positive cases with 134 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 51 positive cases with 22 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 10 positive cases with 7 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Hutchinson then announced the decision was made to allow high schools across Arkansas to launch their fall athletic programs for the 2020-2021 school year. These programs are expected to begin as usual. Contactless but full-helmeted football training is now allowed to begin Aug. 3. Full contact sports may begin the following week.
The Governor announced that he was appointing an advisory committee to develop a plan in conjunction with the Arkansas Department of Health and his office to allow for fall sports (football and volleyball). If such a plan is in fact approved, fans in attendance will come under the ADA Large Venue Directive and be required to social distance and wear face coverings. No contact drills with helmets will be permitted August 3rd thru 7th while the plan is being developed.

The Advisory Committee will also follow and update health advisories related to sports and the start of school in August. Most states bordering Arkansas have already announced a normal start to their fall high school sports programs.
The number one goal this fall season, Hutchinson said, is protecting high school athletes and their coaching staffs. Arkansas Lance Taylor, Executive Director of the Athletics Association, said coaches will have a huge part to play in ensuring Friday's decision is the right one. He held up a face mask during his address.
Hutchinson stressed the importance of seeing a high school football season this fall. Not just to the state as a whole, but especially for participating high school athletes. He said high school sports is a very positive effect on an athletes behavioral and academic wellbeing.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
752 new cases (33 in prisons, 719 in the community)
42,511 cumulative cases
3 new hospitalizations, 507 total
11 new deaths, 453 total
100 on ventilators (down 1 from yesterday)
6,645 active cases (75 in nursing homes, 329 in prisons, 6,241 in the community)
676 new recoveries, 35,413 total
7,207 tests yesterday
188,478 tests to date in July (the goal for July was 200,000).

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Sebastian County with 81, Pulaski County with 77, Benton County with 51, Washington County with 41, Independence County with 31, Crittenden County with 29, Union County with 29, Mississippi County with 25, Jefferson County with 23, Saline County with 21, and Craighead County with 20.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/2tWz3oweqkw
For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

Again, fall sports are expected to start as normal in Arkansas this upcoming school year. Regarding the state's updated COVID-19 figures, total cases grew by 752 to 42,511. Deaths increased by 11 to 453 and hospitalizations by three to 507. Recoveries across the state grew to 35,413 since the start of the pandemic. There are currently 6,645 active cases across the state. Tests performed over the 24-hour period amounted to 7,000. That brings the total tests for July to more than 188,000 with a positivity rate of around 10 percent. We'll continue to keep you updated on the latest developments. 

COVID-19 UPDATE | RETURN TO THE AAA CALENDAR - FALL SPORTS APPROVED
After the Governor’s announcement today, we have been given the approval to proceed according to the 2020-2021 AAA calendar and handbook regarding practice and competition for all sports.

We continue to expect compliance with all directives as issued by the Governor and Department of Health. More information related to the directives will be issued as soon as it is released.
 

TWO INJURED DURING EXCHANGE OF GUNFIRE ON I-630, SEARCH FOR SUSPECTS CONTINUES
JULY 30, 2020
At least two individuals are known to have been injured, one of them possibly wounded by gunfire that erupted along I-630 about 1 PM today (Thursday) as occupants in two eastbound vehicles reportedly began shooting at each other in the vicinity of the Pine and Cedar Streets interchange.
One of the vehicles exited the freeway onto 8th Street and was abandoned after it crashed and was engulfed in flames.  The occupants fled on foot into the surrounding residential neighborhood.  The second vehicle involved in the shooting incident was last seen being driven away from the area.
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are leading the investigation and being assisted by Little Rock police officers.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: UNSOLICITED PACKAGES OF SEEDS HITTING ARKANSANS’ MAILBOXES
LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning Americans to watch out for unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to be shipped from China. According to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, the identities of the seeds are unknown and may be an invasive plant species. Arkansans who have received a package of seeds should immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division at (501) 225-1598.

“Anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds should not open it and immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture who is working to determine the identity of the seeds,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I urge people to not open or plant these seeds because as a farm family, I understand the devastating impact invasive plants can have on crops and the ripple effect those financial losses can have on harming our state’s economy. ”

Attorney General Rutledge and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend the following tips if Arkansans receive an unsolicited package of seeds:

Immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division at (501) 225-1598.

Place the unopened seeds in a sealed package and turn over the label and packaging to the appropriate authorities.

Do not plant the seeds.

The USDA and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture are collecting seeds received from across the nation to identify the seeds and determine if they pose a threat to agriculture or the environment of the United States. 

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR TRENT GARNER
July 31, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – The state Education Department will spend $10 million to expand Internet access in every school district in Arkansas.

Many parents may keep their children at home during the upcoming school year because of concerns about the spread of Covid-19. Some students may be required to study from home in “virtual” classrooms if there is an outbreak of the virus at their schools.

In that event, the digital divide between low-income families and prosperous families will become even more severe. Students will be more likely to fall behind academically if they have no access to reliable, high speed Internet, or if they only have antiquated mobile devices and computers.

The Education Department will buy up to 20,000 devices and allocate them to schools based on enrollment. School officials will then distribute them to students who need them.

Educators and elected officials say that it is especially important to equalize access to the Internet in rural areas, whether students attend classes on campus or stay home and study in “virtual” classrooms.

More students will be able to work from home to do projects that require Internet access, rather than having to sit at a restaurant or business that offers free wireless. A superintendent at the announcement said that that her rural district provides Internet access on buses and in school parking lots, and that the expanded access becoming available would be a monumental improvement.

The Education Department has signed agreements with major telecommunications companies for wi-fi access points and data plans.

Under the contracts, the companies will guarantee high-speed internet with unlimited data for two years for about $20 per month per device. Also, they agree to allow local school districts to buy additional devices and data plans at the same rate as the state plan.

The $10 million comes from the federal CARES Act, which is a massive relief bill passed by Congress in response to the economic and social disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak. CARES is an acronym that stands for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security.

In its memoranda to local schools, the state calls it the Hotspot Project and says that the intent is to benefit students with the greatest need.

When schools prioritize which students are to be allowed access to a hotspot they are to consider three criteria.

One priority is for students who are learning from home because of the pandemic and who have no way to connect with online learning materials. Another priority is for students who are economically disadvantaged and need help acquiring the equipment they need to access online learning materials. The third priority is for students who are going through periods of being homeless, and thus need help.

Schools are set to open August 24. The Education Secretary has said that his department plans to purchase $1 million of personal protective equipment, such as face masks and gloves. This stockpile will be distributed to schools if they are in danger of depleting their supplies.

The Education Secretary said that schools should be prepared to adapt, for example, they may have to close temporarily for a deep clean.

 
 

JULY 30, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 29, 2020
Thursday was marked by another day of cautiously hopeful figures detailing the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Arkansas. Although new cases reported Thursday still numbered higher than average with 791 additional confirmations, the state saw a healthy increase in case recoveries while also noting a decline in both COVID-19 related hospitalizations and patients on ventilators. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported that the 791 new cases brought Arkansas' total caseload since the start of the pandemic to 41,759. The state did see an additional eight deaths for a cumulative total of 442. Hospitalizations decreased by four to 504 and patients on ventilators by seven to 101. Active cases dropped to their lowest level in several weeks, currently 6,580. Recoveries grew to 34,737. Tests performed over the previous 24 hours numbered 5,598 with a positivity rate of approximately 10 percent. That's a total of 181,456 tests since the start of the month.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 72 positive cases with 50 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 379 positive cases with 320 recovered and 16 deaths, Columbia County shows 172 positive cases with 134 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 51 positive cases with 22 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 10 positive cases with 7 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Hutchinson reported that the state has collected data on 5,084 antigen tests performed since June 11. Of these, 11 percent, or 548 people, tested positive for the antigens. The other 89 percent tested negative. Antigen tests do not directly test for COVID-19 but rather the antibodies made by the body as a response to it. 

Antigen tests are commonly administered at local health units, pharmacies and doctor offices. The average cost of an antigen test is around $90. 

Dr. Joseph Thompson, president and CEO of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, spoke briefly to update Arkansans on the new information available detailing COVID-19 figures in each of the approximately 500 communities in the state. Previously, this information was only available down to the county level. The new data Dr. Thompson announced Thursday includes currently active cases in each Arkansas city or community with at least 10 reported cases.

That data is available at www.achi.net.

Hutchinson then responded to a tweet from President Donald Trump Thursday morning. In that tweet, the president stated his wish to see the upcoming November General Election postponed due to COVID-19 concerns and unsubstantiated fears of mail-in voting fraud. Hutchinson stated he sees no reason to postpone the General Election and that Arkansas is ready to go to the polls safely and on time.

Again, Arkansas an increase of 791 COVID-19 cases on Thursday for a cumulative total of 41,759. Deaths increased by eight to 442 and hospitalizations decreased by four to 504. Patients on ventilators also decreased by seven to 101. Active cases in the state dropped to 6,580. Recoveries grew to 34,737. Tests performed during the previous 24-hour period numbered 5,598 with a positivity rate of 10 percent.

We'll continue to keep you updated on any new developments.

HARMONY GROVE WATER ASSOCIATION ISSUES PRECAUTIONARY BOIL ORDER NOTICE
ISSUE DATE: JULY 30, 2020

The department of health has confirmed a 'boil water' notice issued by Michael Gairich for the entire system. This order was issued as a precautionary measure because of the possibility that contaminated water may have entered the distribution system as a result of a complete loss in normal system pressure.

Under the 'boil water' order, all affected customers must be advised that the water may be unsafe for human consumption, and water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled briskly for one (1) minute prior to use. All ice cubes should be discarded and only boiled water used for making ice.

This "precautionary boil water notice" will remain in effect until the problem has been corrected, an adequate disinfectant level is established throughout the distribution system, and a Bacteriological survey shows that the water is safe to drink.

The boil water order was due to construction related water line break.

𝗖𝗔𝗠𝗗𝗘𝗡’𝗦 𝗚𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗧 𝗢𝗨𝗧𝗦𝗜𝗗𝗘 𝗙𝗨𝗡 𝗗𝗔𝗬
Looking for fun, safe outdoor adventure? Don’t Miss 𝗖𝗔𝗠𝗗𝗘𝗡’𝗦 𝗚𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗧 𝗢𝗨𝗧𝗦𝗜𝗗𝗘 𝗙𝗨𝗡 𝗗𝗔𝗬, 𝗦𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗔𝘂𝗴𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝟴𝘁𝗵 𝗶𝗻 𝗖𝗮𝗺𝗱𝗲𝗻 𝗔𝗿. A full day of outdoor fun events for the entire family. Camden’s Great Outside Fun Day will be chock full of activities for all ages!𝗥𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿 $𝟭𝟬,𝟬𝟬𝟬 𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗕𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗧𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁
Anglers will compete for more than $10,000 in prize money at Camden’s Riverwalk boat launch on the Ouachita River
6am-3pm
register here: https://tinyurl.com/y65pc54n

𝗗𝘆𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗰 𝗗𝗶𝘀𝗸𝘀 𝗧𝗿𝗶𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘆 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗲: 𝗗𝗶𝘀𝗰 𝗚𝗼𝗹𝗳 𝗧𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁  
An Arkansas Disc singles golf tournament held with three divisions — advanced, intermediate and women at the new Camden Disc Golf course in Carnes Park.
8am-4pm
register here: https://tinyurl.com/y4va83pv

𝟭𝟬𝗞 𝗕𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗙𝘂𝗻 𝗥𝗶𝗱e
Families can enjoy this FUN evening 10K Ride starting Downtown Camden and down the beautiful new Camden TRACE path. The ride is free and open to children and adults.
Join any time between 5:30 and 6pm
Free registration here: https://tinyurl.com/y67sbyp2  

𝗛𝗼𝗿𝘀𝗲 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘄
The South Arkansas Horse Show Association will present a horse show the Circle C Riding Arena, 100 Ouachita County Road 451 in Camden. Starting with Western Pleasure Events and moving to speed events, barrels, flag and poles, this guarantees to be fun for the entire family. Lots of fun activities are also planned for children!
Join any time between 1pm
Admission is free

𝗦𝗶𝗱𝗲𝘄𝗮𝗹𝗸 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗸 𝗔𝗿𝘁 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗲𝘁𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻
The competition will include categories for children, teens, adult and families along the Downtown city sidewalks.
All Day
Free to enter but pre-registration is required here: https://tinyurl.com/y6k3s27e

For more Information on any of these events, visit www.explorecamden.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorecamden

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, July 30th at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Tara Wright who will be discussing the Harmony Grove 2020-2021 School Year.

SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED TO ARKANSAS COLLEGE STUDENTS MAJORING IN AGRICULTURE
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture recently awarded $20,000 in scholarships to six students attending Arkansas universities with agricultural programs. The universities include Arkansas State University, Southern Arkansas University, the University of Arkansas, and Arkansas Tech University.

The scholarship recipients include the following students:

Arkansas State University
Austin Hampton, Bryant, AR; Plant and Soil Science Major
Jimmy Duvall, Jonesboro, AR; Plant and Soil Science Major

Southern Arkansas University
Emma Reed, Quitman, AR; Agriculture Education Major
Sherman Glass, Magnolia, AR; Agriculture Education Major

Arkansas Tech University
Dixie Sayger, Dover, AR; Agribusiness and Horticulture Major

University of Arkansas
Thomas “Max” McKeown, Wilmar, AR; Horticulture, Landscape and Turf Sciences Major

“The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to provide funding to help these deserving students further their education and prepare for potential careers in agriculture, our state’s largest industry,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture.  “It is an exciting time to be involved in the agricultural industry and we wish the scholarship recipients all the best as they consider the many career options available in agriculture,” said Ward.

Funding for the scholarships comes from civil penalties collected by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.  Each institution receives $5,000 annually and has its own process for selecting the scholarship recipients and the amounts awarded to each student.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit agriculture.arkansas.gov.    
 

COTTON CALLS FOR LAW CHANGE AFTER INDICTMENT OF UA PROFESSOR WITH CHINA TIES
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after news that a former University of Arkansas professor with ties to China was indicted on counts of wire and passport fraud:

“Federal law enforcement deserves great credit for putting together a strong case against alleged Chinese agent Simon Saw-Teong Ang. But Chinese spies aren’t ordinary fraudsters—they’re working for a foreign adversary. We ought to change the law so foreign agents in the future are held accountable not only for wire fraud, but for taking money from the Chinese Communist Party in the first place, the real crime in these cases.”
 

BOOZMAN INTRODUCES LEGISLATION AIMED AT REDUCING VA’S MEDICAL EXAMS BACKLOG
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) introduced legislation to reduce the backlog of pending Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability claims by expanding eligibility for health care providers who are allowed to conduct the required medical exam for veterans applying for benefits.

Veterans are required to complete a compensation and pension (C&P) exam to verify their medical condition and eligibility when applying for VA benefits. The backlog has more than tripled since November 2019, growing to 197,000 veterans nationwide. In Arkansas, more than 1,500 veterans are waiting for a C&P exam.

The Boozman bill would allow physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, audiologists or psychologists to perform C&P exams.

“We must make the process of filing disability claims more efficient so our veterans receive the benefits they have earned. While Congress has approved the expansion of benefits, it’s clear the framework to support the additional claims is not meeting the demand. By allowing additional health care personnel to conduct C&P exams, we can ensure veterans get the attention they deserve in a more timely manner,” Boozman said.

The VA paused in-person C&P exams in early April because of the coronavirus. Exams recently resumed at several VA facilities around the country including the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System.

During a Senate VA Committee hearing in early June, Boozman pressed VA officials about their plan to reduce the backlog. Department leaders requested flexibility to allow more medical personnel to conduct the exams.

Companion legislation was introduced last month in the House of Representatives by Congressman Mike Bost (R-IL).

"For many veterans living in rural areas, it can often be difficult to travel to faraway VA facilities or hospitals to get a disability exam, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it more complicated,” Bost said. “By expanding the number of providers who can conduct disability exams, we can better ensure that our veterans can get an exam they need close to home and apply for disability benefits even quicker."
Click here to read the Senate bill.

JULY 29, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 29, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing, held today at ATU in Russellville, by announcing that Verizon had joined the project to provide WiFi access points for students in areas where there was no or insufficient broadband to accommodate blended or remote learning. The $10 million dollar project is being paid for by the state with CARES money and also includes AT&T and TMobile.

Elected officials and state health experts breathed a small and cautious sigh of relief after reporting better numbers on Wednesday related to Arkansas' ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

During the state's COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported an additional 787 cases. That's still an intolerably high level, but less than what was seen several days last week when those figures neared the record-setting level. That leaves the state's cumulative totals since the start of the pandemic at 40,968. Deaths also significantly declined from Tuesday as well. Six new deaths were reported Wednesday compared to the record level of 20 on Tuesday. That total is now 434. New hospitalizations numbered seven for a current total of 508. The state reported 4,519 tests conducted on Tuesday. The positivity rate of those tests was over 17 percent.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, an infectious disease and control specialist with the Arkansas Department of Health, spoke to clarify when Arkansans are expected to quarantine themselves. She stated that anyone who has performed a COVID-19 test, either due to potential symptoms or contact with someone confirmed to carry the virus, should quarantine themselves immediately for 10 days. She said Arkansans should not wait until they have their test results returned.

Dr. Dillaha went on to differentiate COVID-19 quarantine and isolation. Isolation, she said, is recommended for anyone who has tested positive for the disease. Quarantine affects those who have been tested but still await their results. The length of time recommended for quarantine and isolation guidelines ranges from 10 days to 20. 

Dr. Dillaha gave the following report of numbers:

787 new COVID-19 cases (617 in the community, 170 in prisons)
7,352 active cases
40,968 cumulative cases
7 new hospitalizations
508 currently hospitalized
108 on ventilators (up 2 from yesterday)
6 new deaths
434 total deaths
4,519 tests the past 24 hours
33,938 recoveries (up 750 from yesterday).

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 71 positive cases with 48 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 376 positive cases with 314 recovered and 15 deaths, Columbia County shows 169 positive cases with 130 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 49 positive cases with 16 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 10 positive cases with 6 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Chicot County with 152 (145 in a prison), Pulaski County with 82, Sebastian with 43, Benton County with 33, Little River County with 30, Craighead County with 24, Mississippi County with 22, and Washington County with 22.

Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe spoke briefly to encourage state residents to follow the health department's guidelines. He said those guidelines, if followed, will help Arkansas curb its rising COVID-19 caseload.

Again, Arkansas saw an increase of 787 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday for a statewide total of 40,968. Deaths increased by six to 434 and hospitalizations by seven to 508. 

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/Id2a23ihu4U
For additional information, click on one of the links below.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

ARKANSAS ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATION COVID-19 UPDATESTATEMENT FROM THE AAA
We know there are many questions that we can't give you definitive answers for close-contact team sports on start dates, allowable practice activities for the future, plans for competition venues, etc. We are in communication with the Governor's office and the Department of Health in efforts to provide these answers.

We have issued guidance related to the current Governor's Directives. Please review the AAA COVID-19 page at aractivities.org/covid19. These are the valid directives until new directives are issued. Updates will be provided as soon as new directives are issued.

Issuing guidance or setting dates that are contrary to a Governor's Directive is not an option.
 

TEXAMERICAS CENTER WELCOMES LOCKHEED MARTIN
Global security and aerospace company to utilize building leased by Red River Army Depot Texarkana, USA (July 29, 2020) – TexAmericas Center today shared that Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), a global security and aerospace company employing more than 110,000 people worldwide, will expand operations into a building at the TexAmericas Center in support of a Public/Private Partnership contract with the Red River Army Depot (RRAD).

 “RRAD has utilized these partnerships with various Original Equipment Manufacturers since 2002. Lockheed Martin has a proven track record of supporting the Department of Defense and the nation’s Warfighters.  We are looking forward to working with the Lockheed team,” said Marshall McKellar, Chief of the depot’s Business Management Office. 

 Lockheed Martin will utilize a portion of the floor space at TexAmericas Center currently leased by the RRAD to support the Army’s Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Fleet Expansion Program. The contract with RRAD is valued at $77M and runs from 2020 - 2024. The 218,857-square-foot building, commonly referred to as Building 333, will undergo improvements requested and paid for by Lockheed Martin as part of its public/private partnership with RRAD.

 During the course of the contract, Lockheed Martin will create new full-time positions responsible for suppling various parts of the MLRS for remanufacturing, resetting, and integration of the MLRS. Working with an international leader like Lockheed Martin is central to RRAD’s efforts to maintain the critical skills sets and capabilities of the industrial base found at the depot. By facilitating jobs that leverage and expand the knowledge base of these workers, RRAD can sustain its ability to deploy these skills whenever, wherever, and however they are needed as part of its mission readiness objective for the Department of Defense.

 “We’re excited to welcome Lockheed Martin and continue our support of the Red River Army Depot,” said Scott Norton, Executive Director and CEO of TexAmericas Center. “We understand the value of these partnerships, not just in terms of improvements to our buildings, but also the growth of the advanced manufacturing skills sets critical to our future economic potential.”
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: FAKE PET SCAMS TRICK ARKANSANS INTO PAYING FOR CUTE DOGS
LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists are online pretending to sell friendly dogs to their forever homes, but are taking consumers’ money without turning over a new fluffy friend. Often, scammers post ads on free buy-and-sell websites and use endearing photos of the animal they have no intention of sending, or may not even own.

“Con artists see families considering a new pet as an opportunity to get into Arkansans’ wallets,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “We have seen scam artists using fake email addresses to trick consumers into paying additional fees for shipping the animals via air travel when these cons do not even have a pet for sale.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips to avoid falling victim to a scammer selling a pet that does not exist.

Visit the breeder or rescue group in person offering the pet. Responsible individuals and organizations will allow potential customers to tour their facility.

Arrange to pick up the animal from a kennel instead of meeting the breeder at a potentially unsafe location. Do not rely on the breeder to ship the animal, and never pay for shipping.

Search the user’s profile for warning signs that it may be a scam. Fake breeder websites can often look real because they steal content from legitimate rescue sites. Look for duplicate sites by copying a line from the website into a search engine and looking for identical wording elsewhere on the Internet.

Check the organization’s references. Talk to others who have purchased pets from this breeder and the breeder’s veterinarian.

Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, you could be dealing with a fraudulent breeder.

Pay for the puppy with a check or credit card. If a breeder pressures for a wire transfer or prepaid debit card payment, it is probably a scam.

Attorney General Rutledge encourages Arkansans to do their research regarding adopting and purchasing pets. If you have questions about a potential pet shipper, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association provides a list of trusted shippers across the world.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS PROFESSOR INDICTED FOR WIRE FRAUD AND PASSPORT FRAUD
Fayetteville, Arkansas – Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas David Clay Fowlkes, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch of the FBI Little Rock Field Office, announced today that Simon Saw-Teong Ang, 63, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Arkansas on forty-two counts of wire fraud and two counts of passport fraud.

“This case is the result of the tireless efforts of our Federal law enforcement partners at the FBI and the Diplomatic Security Service, stated Acting US Attorney Fowlkes.”  “The wire fraud in this case affected not only the University of Arkansas, but also several other important United States Government Agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Air Force. It is our sincere hope that this investigation sends a strong message to those who would attempt to defraud the Federal Government.”

“Transparency and integrity have long sustained the pursuit of knowledge on America’s campuses,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “Mr. Ang is alleged to have demonstrated neither when he failed to disclose his financial and other ties to companies and institutions in China to the University of Arkansas and to U.S. government agencies, despite an obligation to do so.  This is a hallmark of the China’s targeting of research and academic collaborations within the United States in order to obtain U.S. technology illegally. The Department of Justice will continue to work with colleges and universities to protect U.S. research and development from exploitation by foreign powers and will prosecute those who defraud the U.S. Government.” 

 “The significant federal charges leveled against Simon Ang demonstrate how real the PRC’s pervasive threat is to Arkansan innovation and businesses,” said FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch. “Our counterintelligence agents work tirelessly to protect our state’s economy from foreign adversaries. Throughout this investigation, we were proud to partner with the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, NASA’s Office of Inspector General, the Diplomatic Security Service and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Arkansas.”

Ang was a professor and researcher at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 1988. At the University of Arkansas, Ang served as the Director of the High Density Electronics Center (HiDEC) until on or about May 8, 2020. During his employment with the University of Arkansas and as director of the HiDEC, Ang was the investigator and co-investigator for many grant contracts that were funded by United States Government Agencies. Annually, the University of Arkansas required Ang to disclose any conflicts of interest, including outside employment.  Agents working with the FBI discovered that Ang received money and benefits from China and was closely associated with various companies based in China during the same time that he was receiving grants from various United States Government Agencies.  The agents discovered that Ang did not disclose these conflicts of interest, even when specifically required to do so by the University of Arkansas and NASA, one of the agencies that awarded Ang and his research associates a Federal grant.

The Indictment charges that beginning as early as June 9, 2013, and continuing to on or about May 8, 2020, in the Western District of Arkansas, and elsewhere, Ang, knowingly and willfully devised and intended to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and to obtain money and property from unknowing United States Government Agencies, the University of Arkansas, and others by means of material false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises and the concealment of material facts for the purpose of obtaining money and intellectual property that he would not have received had the University of Arkansas and other government authorities known the facts involved in his scheme and artifice to defraud.

The Indictment also charges Ang with two counts of making false statements on a passport renewal application. Specifically, the Indictment states that on or about August 5, 2019, in the Western District of Arkansas, Ang, willfully and knowingly made a false statement in an application for a passport with intent to induce and secure for his own use the issuance of a passport contrary to the laws regulating the issuance of passports, in that Ang stated that he was not known by any names other than “Simon Saw-Teong Ang,” which he knew to be false. The Indictment also charges that Ang also listed immediate travel plans for a trip to Singapore with a departure date of August 30, 2019 and a return date of September 7, 2019, which he knew also to be false.

If convicted, Ang faces a statutory maximum punishment of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count and 10 years in federal prison for each passport fraud count. If convicted, Ang’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including Ang’s prior criminal record (if any), Ang’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations.

The FBI, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), NASA Office of Inspector General and Air Force Office of Special Investigations are investigating the case. Acting United States Attorney David Clay Fowlkes from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas and Trial Attorneys Michael Eaton and Ali Ahmad from the National Security Division are prosecuting the case.

An Indictment is merely an accusation.  An arrest warrant represents a finding of probable cause.  A person is presumed innocent unless or until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


COTTON, COLLEAGUES, URGE TIKTOK SCRUTINY OVER ELECTION SECURITY
Washington, D.C.-Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) led Senators Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Rick Scott (R-Florida) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) in sending a letter to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf expressing concern over the Chinese social-media service TikTok. Specifically, the Senators write that TikTok could enable the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to engage in influence operations against the United States, including operations designed to interfere with our elections. The Senators request answers to the following questions regarding TikTok:

Do you believe ByteDance's ownership of TikTok gives the CCP an opportunity to conduct influence operations within the United States, including campaigns directed at changing the outcome of elections?

Given the CCP's control over ByteDance, is it possible Chinese officials could direct TikTok's employees to amplify or suppress certain political content for U.S. users?

Could the CCP direct networks of bots to create or boost its preferred political content on TikTok and other social-media platforms?

If evidence emerges of CCP electoral interference via TikTok, would ByteDance be eligible for sanctions under President Trump's September 12, 2018, executive order on foreign electoral influence?

What other Chinese social-media applications and technology corporations present vectors for election interference in the United States?

The full text of the letter can be found below.

July 28, 2020

The Honorable John Ratcliffe
Director of National Intelligence
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511

The Honorable Christopher Wray
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535

The Honorable Chad F. Wolf
Acting Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Director Ratcliffe, Director Wray, and Acting Secretary Wolf,

We write to raise concerns about TikTok, the Chinese social-media service, which could enable the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to engage in influence operations against the United States, including operations designed to interfere with our elections.

The Trump Administration has rightly taken steps to maintain the security and integrity of our elections. As President Trump stated in Executive Order 13848 in September, 2018, "the proliferation of digital devices and internet-based communications has created significant vulnerabilities and magnified the scope and intensity of the threat of foreign interference." The administration has acted decisively on this threat by forcing media outlets controlled by hostile state actors like Russia and China to register as foreign agents, imposing sanctions on foreign officials who attempted to meddle in American elections, and issuing repeated warnings about efforts by hostile foreign powers to interfere in upcoming elections.

TikTok has become a popular forum for Americans-particularly younger Americans-to engage in political conversations. I'm greatly concerned that the CCP could use its control over TikTok to distort or manipulate these conversations to sow discord among Americans and to achieve its preferred political outcomes.

TikTok is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, and the majority of the company's engineering and development resources are based in China. ByteDance regularly modifies TikTok content to satisfy CCP censorship rules. In 2019, the Washington Post reported that ByteDance employees based in China set TikTok's content standards and issued commands to remove TikTok content they deemed "subversive or controversial." In November 2019, TikTok locked the account of an American teenager who posted a video critical of the CCP's horrific crimes against the Uighur people in China. TikTok only reversed this act of censorship and unlocked the young woman's account after a public outcry.

The CCP devotes significant resources to conduct information operations overseas. Beijing exploits the openness of Western democracies and social-media platforms to propagate the Party's preferred narratives. The CCP conducts these influence operations by coopting traditional media outlets, spending tens of millions of dollars to purchase space in major U.S. newspapers for propaganda by state-owned outlets like China Daily, and working to ensure Chinese state television channels like CGTN dominate Chinese-language media overseas. The CCP also manipulates overseas political discussions on Chinese-owned social media platforms like WeChat. Chinese government officials increasingly use Western social-media companies, including those banned in China, to flood global social media with propaganda and misinformation.

With this history in mind, we respectfully request answers to the following questions about TikTok:

Do you believe ByteDance's ownership of TikTok gives the CCP an opportunity to conduct influence operations within the United States, including campaigns directed at changing the outcome of elections?
Given the CCP's control over ByteDance, is it possible Chinese officials could direct TikTok's employees to amplify or suppress certain political content for U.S. users?
Could the CCP direct networks of bots to create or boost its preferred political content on TikTok and other social-media platforms?
If evidence emerges of CCP electoral interference via TikTok, would ByteDance be eligible for sanctions under President Trump's September 12, 2018, executive order on foreign electoral influence?
What other Chinese social-media applications and technology corporations present vectors for election interference in the United States?

Thank you for working to ensure the integrity of our elections from Chinese interference, which is important in order to maintain the American people's trust in the democratic process. We look forward to hearing from you.

 
 
 

JULY 28, 2020

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 28, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing giving a highlight the new case numbers, and said that it was "not good news". The total number of COVID-19 cases topped 40,000 Tuesday, while hospitalizations topped 500. In the daily Press Conference in Little Rock Tuesday afternoon, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the number of COVID-19 cases had increased by 734 in the previous 24 hours to a total of 40,181. Hospitalizations increased by 12 to 501. The death toll grew by 20 to 428. The number of recoveries increased by 823, meaning that the current number of Active Positives decreased to 6,565. A total of 5,248 tests were administered in the past 24 hours. Governor Hutchinson says that over 180,000 tests will be conducted in July which represents roughly six percent of the state's population. 

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 55, Benton County with 50, Mississippi County with 48, Sebastian County with 45, Washington County with 45, Pope County with 36, and Faulkner County with 34.

The Governor noted that 11 counties had more than 20 new cases yesterday but only listed the 7 above.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 68 positive cases with 45 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 373 positive cases with 305 recovered and 15 deaths, Columbia County shows 166 positive cases with 129 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 48 positive cases with 16 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 9 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Governor Hutchinson thanked the Legislative Council of the General Assembly for approving two funding requests that will help contact tracing, especially among minority populations. The Governor says that successful contact tracing efforts remain very important.

Governor Hutchinson defended his decisions regarding mask mandates, business restrictions, and other limitations in response to a question that some Arkansans weren't supportive of some of the rules in place:"

Governor Hutchinson, responding to a question from a reporter, said that football teams are allowed to have "no contact drills" or "practices", but stopped short of saying whether football could be played when schools starts.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/7pACCoaY_Ro

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

TEXAS MAN SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Shane Ellis Krum, age 37, of Gilmer, Texas, was sentenced to 144 months in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

On or about December 26, 2017, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a Garland County Sheriff’s Deputy conducted a traffic stop on a brown sedan for a traffic violation. As the vehicle stopped, the driver, later identified as Krum, got out and walked to a fence on the side of the road.  Krum lit a cigarette, then turned and walked back to the vehicle and sat down in the driver’s seat. After learning that Krum had a search wavier on file, a search of his vehicle was conducted.  During the search, Deputies located a loaded semi-automatic handgun under the driver’s seat. Deputies also searched the area Krum had been standing and located a backpack that contained a plastic bag of suspected methamphetamine, a plastic bag of suspected marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The suspected methamphetamine was sent to the Arkansas Crime Laboratory where it was determined to be 50.7 grams of actual methamphetamine.

Krum was indicted by a federal grand jury in September of 2018 and entered a guilty plea in October of 2019. 

This case was investigated by the Garland County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney’s Bryan Achorn and Candace Taylor prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.


RUTLEDGE: CONWAY MAN, KEITH HEAD, ARRESTED FOR STEALING OVER $43,000 FROM RESIDENTS’ TRUST FUND ACCOUNTS
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of Keith Alan Head, the former owner of Prescott Manor Nursing Center in Prescott, by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Head is accused of emptying or severely depleting residents’ trust fund accounts totaling over $43,000 and charged with one count of theft of property valuing more than $25,000.

Head, 69, of Conway is the registered agent of H.O.P.E Healthcare, LLC, whose principle address is in Conway, and is the management company for KSJ, LLC doing business as Prescott Nursing Center and four other homes in Arkansas. The investigation began on September 27, 2019, when the Arkansas Department of Human Services discovered the residents’ trust fund accounts had been emptied or significantly depleted at several facilities by Head. Referrals were also received by the Prescott Police Department. This joint investigation involved agents from the Arkansas Attorney General's Office, and federal agents with the Offices of Investigation for the Social Security Administration and Health and Human Services. The case will be prosecuted in coordination with Prosecutor Christi McQueen of the 8th North Judicial District.

To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

GRANTS AWARDED FOR AIRPORT SAFETY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced today that the Trump Administration will award more than $273 million in airport safety and infrastructure grants through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to 41 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Puerto Rico.

“This $273 million federal investment in our nation’s airports will strengthen safety, improve travel, generate jobs, and benefit local communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. 

complete listing of grants (PDF) and an interactive map of airports receiving funding is available on the FAA website.

The total includes just over $242 million from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and $31 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants to equal a 100 percent federal share.

 “The safety of our nation’s airports is of paramount importance to the FAA,” said FAA Administrator Stephen M. Dickson. “These grants will allow these necessary projects to continue.”

 The grants will be used for a variety of critical infrastructure and safety projects. The projects include purchasing aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, constructing runways and taxiways, repairing runways and taxiways, installing aircraft lighting and signage, conducting airport master plan studies and installing airport perimeter fencing.
Arkansas Airports included in the grants Arkansas are:
Calico Rock Calico Rock - Install Miscellaneous NAVAIDS, Reconstruct  Runway Lighting, Reconstruct Taxiway  Lighting Total $161,111 
Hot Springs Memorial Field
Construct/Extend/Improve Safety Area
Total $1,656,368 
Mountain Home
Reconstruct Perimeter Fencing not  Required by 49 CFR 1542
Total $181,995   
Paragould Kirk Field
Extend Taxiway
Total $521,285 
Rogers Executive ‐ Carter  Field
Construct Taxilane ,Reconstruct Taxiway
Total - $3,214,278 
Texarkana Regional‐Webb  Field  
Reconstruct Terminal Building
Total - $3,583,333 

CASA SPAGHETTI LUNCH   
There will be a Spaghetti Lunch hosted by CASA on July 30th.  The Fundraiser will be held at the Cullendale First Baptist Church located at 185
0 Cash Road in Camden from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Choose from regular Spaghetti or Chicken Spaghetti. Spaghetti will be served with green beans, roll, dessert, and water. Cost is $10.00. For more information call

870-818-2824 or 870-833-0141. Pick up, curb side service or delivery is available. Please come out and support the 13th Judicial District CASA North Program.

JULY 27, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 27, 2020
Wireless internet resources and virtual learning options for the upcoming school year were the focus of Monday's press conference hosted by Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce.

Before launching into that discussion, Hutchinson updated the state's COVID-19 figures from Sunday. Another 824 new cases of COVID-19 were detected Sunday for a statewide total of 39,447. Of those, 6,674 cases are currently active. That's a decrease of over 300 from late last week. In addition, nine new hospitalizations were reported for a total of 489. Seven additional deaths also occurred over the previous 24 hours. That figure is now 408. A total of 110 COVID-19 patients are currently relying on ventilators for their treatment. Hutchinson reported that nearly 6,000 tests were performed Sunday. The state has registered 164,000 tests since the beginning of July, or approximately five percent of Arkansas' population.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 66 positive cases with 44 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 369 positive cases with 300 recovered and 15 deaths, Columbia County shows 166 positive cases with 126 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 32 positive cases with 16 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 10 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Hutchinson announced he was releasing $10 million in federal CARES Act funding to provide Wi-Fi access points across Arkansas. These devices will use cellular signals to provide internet service for any capable device. According to Hutchinson, the Wi-Fi points will be distributed across the state in hopes of reaching students who choose a virtual learning option within their school district, but who do not have adequate access to internet at home. Hutchinson said the $10 million in released funds will provide approximately 20,000 Wi-Fi points. 

Johnny Key, Director of the Arkansas Department of Education, spoke about a survey targeting school districts across the state and judging their preparedness for returning to school next month amidst the COVID-19 environment. The survey attempts to judge each district's approach to providing such resources as virtual learning options. It will also study districts' supply of personal protective equipment and technology needs. Results of the survey will be released to the public."

Hutchinson said Arkansas' Legislative Council will vote Tuesday whether or not to approve a request of $7 million from the state's CARES Act fund in hopes of providing additional outreach resources aimed at the state's minority populations. This renewed effort would primarily be aimed at the state's LatinX and Marshallese communities. The funding would be especially useful, Hutchinson said, in communities such as De Queen in which sizeable populations from both communities reside. 

Before ending Monday's press conference, Hutchinson defended the state's contact tracing efforts. These efforts have taken some criticism due to the regular delay in testing results. Some have questioned the usefulness of contact tracing if a particular test result is not received until days, or even weeks, following the initial infection.

Again, the state saw an increase of 824 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday for a new total of 39,447. Deaths increased by seven to 408 and hospitalizations by nine to 489. An additional 5,929 tests were performed over the previous 24-hour period. There are currently 6,674 active cases in Arkansas. Recoveries since the beginning of the pandemic currently total over 32,000. 
For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

We'll continue to keep you updated on any new developments. 
 

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES MILITARY SERVICE OF CONWAY VETERAN CLEM KORDSMEIER
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service of Korean War veteran Clement (Clem) Kordsmeier in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Kordsmeier was born in Morrilton, Arkansas in 1931. He was raised on his family’s farm with his ten brothers and sisters. By 1952, Kordsmeier had received two draft deferments while helping his dad on the farm. This prompted his decision to enlist in the Air Force before being drafted into the Army. 

Kordsmeier’s mother was reluctant to bless her son’s decision, because she had lost one of her children, Hubert, a command pilot on B-29s in a crash outside of Tokyo in 1945. “I assured my mother that I would not be in an airplane,” he said.

Kordsmeier attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. It was the first time he’d left Arkansas. “I was shocked at the very poor quality of barracks,” he laughed. “It was quite different from home.” 

He attended petroleum specialist school in Tillamook, Oregon and was hoping for a stateside assignment, but learned he would be going overseas after his training.  

“I told them I gotta go home because I plan to get married,” he said. Kordsmeier and his girlfriend, Florence, had set their wedding date for June 13. As luck would have it, he couldn’t get back to Arkansas until a week later, so he and Florence were married on June 20.  He didn’t have much time to spend with his new bride because he had to ship out to Korea soon after.

Kordsmeier was assigned to the 19th Air Division, 824th Air Base Group, 824th Supply Squadron at (K-55) Osan Air Base, Korea. It was the only base on the peninsula entirely planned and built by the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. Kordsmeier worked in the petroleum supply section, refueling F-86 aircraft that were flying missions over Korea. “At the time, the war was near the end, and I was sure happy about that,” he said. 

Kordsmeier interacted with the locals who laundered the airman’s clothes. “One person asked me if I wanted to buy a hat.” Kordsmeier agreed to purchase a baseball-type hat and selected details that represented his time in Korea. The cap, which says K-55, the name of the airbase, is still part of his memorabilia of time in the service.

When his year-long tour ended, he was looking forward to a quick return home, but it took 27 days to reach Seattle, Washington. From Washington he was able to secure the last available ticket that had a route to get him to Little Rock. “I felt there was an angel looking after me,” he said. 

Kordsmeier remained in the military after he returned stateside and volunteered to serve in North Africa on a 30-day temporary duty mission. He was excited to explore Casablanca, but his time to sightsee was limited. “Two days after we got there, the provost marshal of that base was shot by civilians while he was en route to downtown,” Kordsmeier said. He was confined to the base thereafter.

After completing four years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Kordsmeier was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant in 1956. He and Florence raised their four children in Conway and he worked for Hambuchen Home Furnishings, where he retired in 1996. 

“I am grateful for Clem Kordsmeier’s dedication and service to our nation. His memories of military service are an important part of our history and I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his stories,” Boozman said.

Boozman submitted Kordsmeier’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative by the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.  

COTTON STATEMENT AFTER SCOTUS REJECTS CHALLENGE TO NEVADA'S CHURCH RESTRICTION
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the appeal of Nevada's church attendance restriction:

"Freedom of religion is our first freedom. Yet the Supreme Court has ruled that casinos can host hundreds of gamblers, while churches cannot welcome their full congregations. Justice Roberts once again got it wrong, shamefully closing church doors to their flocks."

 
 

JULY 24, 2020

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS SENATE
PASSAGE OF DEFENSE BILL

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) supported the Senate-passed Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), legislation that invests in the military, ensures servicemembers have the tools and resources they need to successfully carry-out their missions and strengthens Arkansas’s role in national defense. 

“At a time of increasing risks and dangerous challenges to global security, the United States must lead in creating stability through a strong and modernized military. Peace through strength is a proven concept that reinforces American deterrence and produces greater global security. That’s why it’s so important to yet again come together and advance this NDAA,” Boozman said during a floor speech in support of the bill. “I am pleased this bill includes a few of my priorities aimed at supporting our deployed service members and the state of Arkansas.” 

Boozman’s amendment to improve child care assistance for military families who are assigned to around-the-clock, stateside rotations units—like the 188th Wing in Fort Smith—was included in the Senate-passed bill. The provision directs the Department of Defense to research, report and provide recommendations to Congress on how to provide 24-hour child care to military families. 

The bill also authorizes a new Arkansas National Guard Readiness Training Center at Fort Chaffee. Boozman secured funding to construct the center which will provide greater support for training exercises and help ensure Arkansas guardsmen continue to be some of the best trained in the country.

The NDAA supports the deployment of the Iron Dome protection system to U.S. Central Command theater. This comes after Boozman called on Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to deploy this protection to safeguard U.S. and coalition members in the region as a result of talking with commanders about vulnerabilities to defense capabilities while visiting Iraq in February. A portion of the Iron Dome defense is produced in Camden, Arkansas.

JULY 23, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 23, 2020
On Thursday state officials said Arkansas had experienced the second highest one-day growth in new COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic in March. 

A total of 1,013 new cases were reported during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Thursday afternoon. That came a day after state officials announced a significantly reduced one-day addition of 591 new cases. However, state health officials were concerned that figure was low and would raise significantly in coming days due to reduced testing and a backlog in testing results. Thursday's figure neared the one-day COVID-19 record in new cases, currently set at 1,061 new cases on July 11. 

Governor Hutchinson, Secretary Romero, and Prison Director Dexter Payne all gave reports about the COVID-19 situation in state prisons. Officials focused on the Ouachita River Unit in Malvern, which has 577 active cases out of a total prison population of around 1,700 inmates. A total of 4,655 COVID-19 cases have been reported with Arkansas' prisons, with 869 currently active and 21 deaths.

Dr. Jose Romero, head of the Arkansas Department of Health, said the state is also planning on releasing new guidelines and visitation procedures for nursing homes in Arkansas.

Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers for Arkansas:
1,013 new cases (1,008 in the community, 5 in prisons)
36,259 cumulative cases
7,009 active cases (146 in nursing homes, 869 in prisons/jails, 5,994 in the community)
6 new hospitalizations
480 currently hospitalized
107 on ventilators
6 new deaths
386 deaths total
5,487 tests yesterday
133,054 tests to date in July (goal is 200,00)
28,864 recoveries
869 active cases in prisons/jails (841 in prisons, 28 in various county jails)
4,655 cumulative in prisons/jails
21 COVID-19 deaths in prisons
8% cumulative positive rate.
Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 113, Washington County with 76, Benton County with 73, Sebastian County with 65, Craighead County with 41, and Crittenden County with 43. Several other counties had more than 20 new cases.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 55 positive cases with 35 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 335 positive cases with 260 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 147 positive cases with 105 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 22 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 8 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.
To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/zzXuUXmtGcY

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/

We'll continue to keep you updated as developments occur. 

NEW AACF REPORT: ARKANSAS HUNGER SAFETY NET NEEDS REPAIR 
State policies exacerbate food insecurity during a time of pandemic
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – More than 150,000 Arkansans are estimated to be newly food insecure since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and state policies are making it harder for families to get the nutritional support they need during this time of crisis.

Food Insecurity in Arkansas, a new report by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF), calls for the state to eliminate policies that make it more difficult to be hungry here than in most other states. For example, Arkansas is one of only 10 states with an “asset limit” that prevents families with even modest savings accounts from becoming eligible for SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Regardless of household size, Arkansas’s families are automatically ineligible if they have more than $2,250 in the bank ($3,500 if the household includes someone with a disability or someone 60 or older). Most states have no such asset limit, and many others have raised the limit so families can save more for emergencies.

While Arkansas lifted many of the barriers to SNAP enrollment when the pandemic started, the asset limit remains in place because it would take legislation to change it.

“As a relatively poor state, we shouldn’t be adding to the burden of food insecurity for Arkansans in the middle of a pandemic,” said Laura Kellams, AACF’s Northwest Arkansas Director and the author of the report. “These state policies are unnecessary and put us at a disadvantage, now and during the economic recovery to come.”

Among other recommendations, the report calls for Arkansas to reverse a 2017 law that barred the state from participating in “Broad-Based Categorial Eligibility” options. The state law requires that the SNAP asset limit be kept at the lowest level allowed under federal law. AACF also recommends removing compliance with the Child Support Enforcement program as a condition of SNAP eligibility, which takes away food benefits from children and parents – even if they’re owed child support. The latter requirement has been temporarily lifted during the health emergency.

The publication also outlines changes to SNAP since the pandemic began, including a state-reported 27 percent increase in enrollment since February. The Arkansas Department of Human Services reports that about 318,000 people were enrolled in SNAP before the pandemic began, compared to about 404,000 at the end of June. Meanwhile, Feeding America estimates that the food insecurity rate increased by about 39 percent during the same time period, or that about 150,000 more Arkansans now lack consistent access to enough food for everyone in the family to live active, healthy lives. Download a copy of the report on the AACF website.
 

RUTLEDGE TESTIFIES BEFORE PRESIDENT TRUMP’S NATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMISSION
 Says, ‘to provide my expertise and recommendations on how we can better support our law enforcement officers by creating stronger community partnerships’
 LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge yesterday testified before President Donald J. Trump’s National Law Enforcement Commission’s hearing on the rule of law and respect for law enforcement. In October 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order No. 13896 authorizing U.S. Attorney General William Barr to establish the Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. The Commission, appointed by Barr in January, will work directly with national experts to collect and study data to submit recommendations to the President that will focus on strengthening our American law enforcement officials and their ability to serve and protect our communities.

“As the chief law enforcement officer of Arkansas, I was honored to testify before President Trump’s Commission and provide recommendations on how we can better support our law enforcement officers by creating stronger community partnerships, increasing accessibility and funding for law enforcement training and by providing more resources for crisis intervention,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This heated national debate is an opportunity for us to find common ground to resolve long-standing and divisive issues, while finding ways to improve the relationship between our law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”

Attorney General Rutledge has long been a leading advocate for law enforcement and a vocal opponent to the “defund the police” movement. She provides supplemental funding and free training to law enforcement throughout the state and annually recognizes the achievements of officers from all 75 counties. Rutledge also utilizes her roundtables as a forum to pro-actively obtain feedback from local police officers and community leaders.
 

BOOZMAN BACKS LEGISLATION TO SUPPORT CHILD CARE NEEDS OF FAMILIES AND PROVIDERS 
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is continuing his work to support economic recovery by ensuring Arkansas families have access to child care services.

Boozman joined U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and other colleagues to introduce the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020, legislation to assist child care providers in continuing to offer critical, affordable services for working families during the COVID-19 emergency. 

“We need to take steps to ensure caregivers can continue to provide this vital service Arkansas parents rely on. As parents seek to return to work, they need an available and safe environment to bring their children. This legislation is critical to meeting the needs of hardworking families and helping providers continue operations,” Boozman said.

A March survey of Arkansas child care centers by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that 32 percent would not survive closing for more than two weeks without significant public investment. According to Arkansas respondents in a second survey in April, 28 percent of child care programs were completely closed and six percent open only for children of essential workers.

The Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020 would provide:
Critical resources to help child care providers reopen and stay open
Provides nine months of financial assistance for providers to open, welcome children safely and ensure a robust child care sector is available for families;
Allows states to design state-specific plans to support child care centers, operators and providers in their state;
Sends funds to child care providers more quickly without administrative red tape.
Safe environments for children
Requires all providers receiving assistance to follow all state and local health and safety guidelines;
Requires states to ensure a diverse field of child care setting options for parents, including center-based, family child care and faith-based options.

COTTON BILL TO DEFUND 1619 PROJECT CURRICULUM
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced the Saving American History Act of 2020, a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds to teach the 1619 Project by K-12 schools or school districts. Schools that teach the 1619 Project would also be ineligible for federal professional-development grants.

Under the bill, the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture would be required to prorate federal funding to schools that decide to teach the 1619 Project—determined by how much it costs to plan and teach that curriculum. Any federal funds intended for low-income students or special-needs students are not affected by this legislation.

“The New York Times’s 1619 Project is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded. Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage,” said Cotton.

Background:
The 1619 Project is a revisionist history project of the New York Times widely criticized by historians.

Despite major criticism of the project, schools around the country have begun incorporating the 1619 Project into their curricula. So far, schools or school districts in Chicago; Newark, N.J.; Buffalo, N.Y., and Washington, D.C. have all reportedly announced 1619 Project-related programs.

 
 
 

JULY 22, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 22, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily COVID-19 Briefing by sharing about his tour of the La-Z-Boy factory in Siloam Springs and meetings with northwest Arkansas leaders and educators earlier in the day. Members of the Governor's COVID-19 Taskforce took a cautiously optimistic tone during Wednesday's daily press conference. State officials reported a decrease in new cases and hospitalizations while touting better economic figures released in recent days.
During the press conference, Governor Asa Hutchinson said 591 new cases were reported between Tuesday and Wednesday for a new total of 35,246. That's a decrease from Tuesday's press conference during which Hutchinson reported 728 additional cases. Hospitalizations decreased by 14 patients for a new total of 474. An additional six deaths were reported over the 24-hour period for a current total of 380. Nearly 4,000 tests were performed Tuesday with a positivity rate of around 5.8 percent. 

Hutchinson described meeting with healthcare workers at Washington Regional Medical Center, which has seen a large number of hospitalizations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the supreme efforts of Arkansas' healthcare workers while acknowledging the burden placed on them by combating the virus.
Dr. Jose Romero, who replaced Dr. Nate Smith as director of the Arkansas Department of Health, detailed the unique characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic in Arkansas and particularly in Washington County. He said the number of relatively young adults as well as children who have been infected by COVID-19 is higher than the national average. The higher number of relatively young people who have contracted the virus is a trend also noted by Dr. Smith in Sevier County during his visit to De Queen earlier this month.

Dr. Romero gave the following report of numbers for Arkansas:
591 new cases (584 in the community, 7 in prisons)
6,876 active cases (140 in nursing homes, 916 in prisons, 5,820 in the community)
35,240 cumulative cases
474 hospitalized (down 14 from yesterday)
6 new deaths
380 total deaths
3,933 tests yesterday
107 on ventilators (down 3 from yesterday)
27,990 recoveries to date.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 55 positive cases with 33 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 333 positive cases with 256 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 141 positive cases with 102 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 21 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 7 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Arkansas Commerce Secretary Mike Preston touted recently released figures by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics detailing a 1.6 percent drop in the state's unemployment rate. June figures showed a drop to eight percent of the labor force currently filing for unemployment - significantly higher than pre-COVID times but nonetheless a significant drop since the spring.

Preston also reminded Arkansans that the supplemental $600 in pandemic unemployment benefits is officially set to expire July 31. However, that could end as soon as July 25 or July 26 due to payment schedules in Arkansas and most other states, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Around 25 million Americans are receiving the benefit at this time. Federal politicians are currently considering a possible extension of the supplemental benefit but that potential legislation remains in negotiations. 

Again, state officials noted a decline of new COVID-19 cases compared to previous days and weeks. Wednesday saw an addition of 591 cases to the list for a cumulative total of 35,246. Hospitalizations actually decreased by 14 to a new total of 474

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas and the second for Oklahoma information.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/

We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.


CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, July 22nd at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Russell Delezen who will talk about the History of Highland Park

You are required to wear a mask when entering and leaving the building, if you do not have one, they will provide you with one. Your temperature will be taken, and you’ll sign in and report your temperature. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.


ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SCAM ARTISTS TARGETING ARKANSANS’ SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
LITTLE ROCK – As Arkansans adjust to the new normal during the pandemic, the lull from robocalls has ended and bad actors are again seeking the social security numbers of our most vulnerable. The Attorney General’s Office has seen an increase in complaints where scammers are pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and threaten consumers into providing personal information or asking for money.

“It’s time to reinforce an important fact: the government will never call consumers requesting financial information,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “If you receive a call claiming to be from the government, requesting personal or financial information, immediately hang up the phone. Let my office do the fighting for you by reporting these illegal calls.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips for Arkansans who may be dealing with a government imposter:

Never give out or confirm sensitive information, such as bank account, credit card or social security numbers, to an unsolicited caller.

Be cautious of callers using organization names similar to existing agencies. Scammers use internet technology to spoof area codes, so although it may seem the call is from Washington, D.C., it could originate from anywhere in the world.

The Social Security Administration and other government agencies have warned about these scams and suggest contacting the agency directly.

The Social Security Administration can be contacted at (800) 772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.

To report this scam to the Social Security Administration, contact its Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you have provided your social security number to a scammer, visit www.identitytheft.gov/SSA to find out what steps you can take to protect your identity.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please visit ArkansasAG.gov or call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982.


UNDER QUARANTINE ART EXHIBIT OPEN AT SAAC
The visual arts committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center announces the award-winning entries for the Under Quarantine Art Competition and Exhibition. "Under Quarantine: Art During Unprecedented Circumstances" continues to hang in the Merkle and Price Galleries at the South Arkansas Arts Center through Thursday, August 27.

Awards in the competition are: Best of Show - Clayton Bolding, Strong; First Place - Mike Means, El Dorado; Second Place - Missy Inman, El Dorado; Third Place - Emmaline Landes, El Dorado; Honorable Mention - Marla Tomlinson, Brent J. Rowley, Nelson Post, and Mandy Kingery, all from El Dorado.

A total of forty-eight artists from El Dorado, Smackover, Camden, Warren, Strong, Hampton, Calion, Norphlet, and Junction City, Arkansas, and The Woodlands, Texas, contributed 82 pieces for the exhibit. Of the exhibiting artists, 31 have never shown work at SAAC before, and 27 of those are entirely new to SAAC. Kelly Campbell, gallery manager, said, "It's wonderful to see such exciting artwork from artists who are new to us! The galleries are open 9am-5pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-1pm on Friday. I hope everyone makes time to see this show."

The governing idea behind the exhibit is to showcase work done by artists beginning with the two week stay at home order March 14 through the implementation of Phase 1 reopening. Many people found that they had more time to work on their art, and that it helped them cope with the isolation. The show includes 2D and 3D work, and the subject matter runs the gamut from florals to animals to abstracts and beyond. According to Assistant Executive Director John Lowery, "The artwork was not required to have COVID 19 as a theme. We do have a few COVID related pieces, but the majority of the work reflects what artists focused on during the stay at home order. The exhibit is a very eclectic, very interesting mix of work."

Other exhibitors are: Sandy Bennett, Cherie Bright, Stephanie Brown, Dana Burke, Kelly Campbell, Ann Downs, Marian Dunn, Jenn Elmore, Kelsey Farley, Alec Gatewood, Michael Herren, Jessica Honeycutt, Janice Hughes, Beth Jones, Helene Lambert, Cynthia Landaverde, Jeremy Langston, Charles Lawrence, Patricia Lowery, Kassidy Marsh, Kate McDaniel, Leah Moore, Nathan Odom, Ann Palculict, Patti Simpson, Pat Peel, Millie Reap, Rob Reep, Christopher Silkwood, Mallory Slaughter, Brittany Stanton, Chris Stone, Christine Street, Lisa Burton Tarver, Angela Thurmon, Steven Wall, Lainey Walthall, Ruth Wells, Anna Williams, and Ann Wilson.

Local artist and SAAC's Visual Arts Committee chair Helene Lambert served as judge for the exhibit. Lambert recently retired after teaching art for 34 years in Union County, including "31 wonderful years" at Barton Junior High School in El Dorado. Lambert currently works with Arts Integration Services and is Arts In Education (AIE) teaching artist, in addition to working in her studio in Hampton on her own artwork. 

For more information about the exhibit or to place a reservation to attend the reception on Saturday, July 25th, please email kelly@saac-arts.org before 4pm on Thursday, July 23, or call SAAC at 870-862-5474. As per Governor Hutchinson's statewide order, masks must be worn. If you are drinking a beverage, you may remove your mask, but you must practice social distancing of at least 6 feet when you are "uncovered". SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

 

BOOZMAN JOINS EFFORT TO SIMPLIFY PPP LOAN FORGIVENESS
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) continued his efforts to make the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) more flexible by joining a bipartisan effort to streamline forgiveness of the program’s smaller loans.

Boozman cosponsored the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act, introduced by Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). The bill would make it easier for small businesses to get PPP loans of $150,000 or less forgiven through a simple, one-page form. 

“The PPP has been a critical lifeline for small businesses and has helped millions of Americans continue to receive their paychecks during the COVID-19 crisis. However, the bureaucratic hurdles small business owners need to clear to prove their eligibility for loan forgiveness are overly burdensome for the 85 percent of recipients who received loans of $150,000 or less. Simplifying the loan forgiveness process for the smallest borrowers will minimize the burden of extensive paperwork and allow small businesses to focus on retaining jobs and growing our economy,” said Boozman. 

Approximately 3.7 million PPP loans of $150,000 or less have been granted, which accounts for 85 percent of the program’s approved loans. The cost of applying for forgiveness for a PPP loan of this size is $2,000 for the small business and $500 for the lender. This bipartisan legislation could save small businesses $7.4 billion and banks nearly $2 billion

 

JULY 21, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 21, 2020
Education and getting Arkansas kids back to school was the focus of Tuesday's daily press conference hosted by Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce. Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily COVID-19 Briefing by giving new case information. He also said that the number of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized was a concern. Over 5,600 tests were performed yesterday with a positivity rate around five percent. That makes a total of 120,000 tests since the start of July - roughly four percent of the state's population, according to Hutchinson. The seven-day rolling average of positive cases showed a slight downward trend. 

Hutchinson said his recent travels across the state show that Arkansas' educators are ready for school to return next month. He said the two-week delay in reopening classes provides districts with more time to deal with the new COVID-19 environment.
State Education Secretary Johnny Key highlighted the options school districts across Arkansas are offering to students and parents. That included the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District's virtual learning options. The De Queen School District announced a similar plan on Monday providing parents with a choice for a remote, internet-based learning environment. 
The Governor and Secretary of Education Johnny Key are committed to the August 24th school start date, but acknowledge that there is a lot of work to do before then.

The Governor showed a brief news clip of several pediatricians saying that they would send their children to school when it starts. Several questions were directed at the Governor and Dr. Romero about the names, locations, and pandemic situations of the unidentified people.

Secretary Key highlighted the plans of several school districts as examples for other districts. The plans included on campus, remote, and blended education.
Hutchinson said he hopes Arkansas will see an improvement in its COVID-19 figures in the next 30 days before the start of school. He added that the state's face mask mandate, which came into effect on Monday, will help flatten the curve of new cases.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
728 new cases (122 in prisons, 606 in the community)
34,655 cumulative cases
17 new hospitalizations
488 total hospitalized currently
11 new deaths
374 deaths total
5,607 tests yesterday with a 5.5% positive rate
7.9% cumulative positive rate
110 on ventilators (down 1 from yesterday)
6,999 active cases (138 in nursing homes, 921 in prisons, 5,939 in the community)
27,283 recoveries.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 110, Washington County with 62, Faulkner County with 46, Benton County with 45, Sebastian County with 30, Jefferson County with 29, and Saline County with 24. All other counties had fewer than 20 new cases.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 52 positive cases with 32 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 313 positive cases with 252 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 139 positive cases with 95 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 21 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 6 positive cases with 3 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.
Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials will provide another update Wednesday afternoon. Again, the state saw an increase of 728 COVID-19 cases since Monday for a total of 34,655, with 6,998 of those currently active. Hospitalizations increased by 17 to a total of 488. Overall deaths increased by 11 to 374. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/JiDIIlJ0QB8

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas and the second for Oklahoma information.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For city level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/

Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials will provide another update Wednesday afternoon. Again, the state saw an increase of 728 COVID-19 cases since Monday for a total of 34,655, with 6,998 of those currently active. Hospitalizations increased by 17 to a total of 488. Overall deaths increased by 11 to 374. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
 

CHILDREN FOUND IN CAR, ONE DEAD, ANOTHER ALIVE BUT CRITICAL; INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY
The Arkansas State Police is investigating the death of a three-year-old girl and injury to her 15 month old sister. Both are the apparent victims of heat while they were inside a car parked outside their mother’s home in Booneville yesterday.

Kaylee Petchenik, 21, of 482 West 5th Street in Boonville contacted local police about 2 PM stating that when she awoke from a nap, her children were missing. A Booneville police officer who responded to the residence found the children, both unconscious, lying on the car’s back floorboard.

Laykn Petchenik was later pronounced dead at a Booneville hospital. Her body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for purposes of an autopsy. Olivia Petchenik remains hospitalized in Little Rock. She is in stable, but critical condition.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are leading the investigation and will submit a case file to the Logan County prosecuting attorney for consideration.

ALMOST 800 ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION GRANTS HELP ORGANIZATIONS STATEWIDE RESPOND TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Little Rock, Ark. (July 21, 2020) –A total of 797 grants totaling more than $2.6 million from Arkansas Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund have helped local organizations fight the pandemic.

“We learn more every day about how our COVID-19 grants are working to help Arkansans in need,” said Heather Larkin, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are now evaluating how to utilize the remainder of the dollars in the COVID-19 Relief Fund to address additional needs and gaps that have emerged since the pandemic began.”

A few examples of how grants from the Community Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund are aiding pandemic response include:

The Central Delta Community Action Agency in Pine Bluff works with many families who were struggling financially even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Lost wages and unemployment have made their circumstances even more tenuous. The agency is using a $25,000 COVID-19 Phase 2 Adaptation Grant to help low-income families with immediate needs and give them a chance to reach financial stability.

A $25,000 COVID-19 Phase 2 Adaptation Grant is making it possible for Child Care Aware of Northwest Arkansas to help facilities that have been caring for the children of essential workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant funds will be used to purchase equipment and offer programs to help provide childcare center staff with required professional development and training.

Southern Bancorp Community Partners is using a $25,000 COVID-19 Phase 2 Adaptation Grant to support Arkansans’ long-term financial health. It offers credit counseling for individuals who had to defer payments because of COVID-19-related lost wages or unemployment as they return to the workforce. The organization’s certified counselors work with people to focus on rebuilding credit, avoiding foreclosure and remodeling or even purchasing homes.

With a $1,000 Rapid Response Mini-grant, the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas developed tutorials to help the population it serves understand how to use telemedicine and to avoid becoming victims of scams. The organization prepared and distributed information about how clients could lower their risk of contracting Covid-19 and how to get tested if they think they might have the novel coronavirus.

Main Street Russellville Inc. used a $1,000 Rapid Response Mini-grant to support essential workers while helping some of the city’s downtown businesses. The grant made it possible to purchase more than 850 meals from Russellville restaurants. These meals were delivered to staff at the COVID Triage Center at Saint Mary’s Regional, the city’s fire and police departments and others.

Nationwide, U. S. community foundations have mobilized more than $1 billion to support on-the-ground efforts by nonprofits, according to a study by the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative. This figure includes funds managed by nearly 600 community foundations who have already granted more than $800 million of the funds mobilized directly to nonprofits.

A full list of organizations receiving grants from the COVID-19 Relief Fund is available at www.arcf.org/covid19. These grants are possible because of donations of more than $3.6 million to the COVID-19 Relief Fund from Arkansas Community Foundation, other Arkansas foundations, businesses and individuals since the fund was created March 18. A list of donors to the fund is available at  www.arcf.org/covid19.

SAAC HOSTS TWO FUN WORKSHOPS FOR KIDS - CRYSTAL DIGGING AND FOSSIL DIGGING
Are your children going a little stir crazy? Then they can "dig it" with Mike Means at the South Arkansas Arts Center! For students entering second and third grades, Means is offering "Crystal Digging" on Friday, July 24, from 10:30-11:30. On Friday, July 31, students entering fourth and fifth grades can participate in "Fossil Digging" from 10:30-11:30. Cost for each of the student workshops is $20.
"If you enjoy nature, science and art - I hope you come join me for the fun!" said instructor Mike Means. "I've always loved the science behind geology and living in Arkansas with its abundance of crystal locations has fascinated me. I remember the rock shops that used to dot the highways of northwest Arkansas. Fossils just are cool! Holding something that represents a living creature from over 500,000 million years old is just amazing to me." 
Just outside of Hot Springs are many mining areas that you can actually go and dig up your own crystals. For the Crystal Digging Workshop, we pick-up a large bucket from one of these mines. Since the crystals are found in the red clay, participants could get their hands pretty dirty. We will be using water and small brushes to wash the clay from the crystals. Everyone will get to keep what they find. Hopefully that will be a beautiful clear quartz crystal.
The shale rock for the Fossil Digging Workshop comes from a mining area in Utah that does nothing but dig up fossils. Hopefully participants will find prehistoric sea animals known as trilobites. They look a little like horseshoe crabs that first appeared around 540 million years ago. The fossil hunting won't be too dirty, but will take time and skill with a small hammer to reveal the fossils.
"Having fun is the goal. If the kids accidentally learn something along the way, that's cool," Means said.
Limit 10 students per workshop. Come prepared to get a little dirty and wear your mask! Bring gloves and safety goggles if you have them, otherwise they will be provided. Register online at saac-arts.org or call the South Arkansas Arts Center for more information. SAAC is located at 110 East 5th Street in El Dorado.

 

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES $300,000 JUDGMENT AGAINST LOAN SHARK BAILEY’S SUPERSTORE
Says, ‘Bailey abused the criminal court system to take advantage of vulnerable Arkansans’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced a judgment against Dennis Bailey and the businesses he controls: Bailey’s Superstore, Inc., Bailey’s Bottleshoppe, Brooks Bailey Enterprises, Inc., Bailey’s On Main, Bailey’s Pawn and Gun, and Newsmart Liquor. Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Bailey and his businesses under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for his illegal use of the criminal court system to collect debts. The judgment requires that Bailey pay $50,000 in restitution, $250,000 in suspended civil penalties and withdraw all outstanding affidavits previously submitted to the Hot Check Coordinator valued at approximately $125,000.

“Bailey abused the criminal court system to take advantage of vulnerable Arkansans who needed money to pay their bills or for emergencies—some even paying for a family member’s funeral,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Anyone who has experienced these illegal business practices should call my office to let us do the fighting for you.”

The complaint filed in July 2019 showed Bailey often loaned large amounts of money to his customers, and as security for the loans, Bailey accepted a signed blank check. When the debt was due, consumers could buy the blank check back for the cost of the original loan plus interest that violates the Arkansas Constitution’s 17 percent usury cap. If the consumer were unable to pay the debt on time, Bailey would add the principal and interest together, enter it as the amount to be paid on the check, and deposit it into one of his business bank accounts. If the check returned unpaid by the bank, Bailey turned those checks over to the prosecuting attorney’s office for enforcement under Arkansas’s Hot Check Law despite the law’s clear prohibition against its use for the collection of pre-existing debts. In some instances, consumers who did not repay Bailey’s loans on time were arrested, jailed, and convicted of crimes they never committed.

Under the consent judgment in this case, Bailey and his businesses are permanently restrained and enjoined from offering or providing usurious loans, the deferred deposit of checks for usurious fees, or charging usurious check-cashing fees. He is also enjoined from holding any check, debit or credit card, driver’s license or identification, or EBT card as a promissory note or security for the payment of any money, loan, or debt. He and his businesses are barred from submitting any transaction to any prosecuting attorney’s office for collection or law enforcement action that violates Arkansas law. The judgment bars Bailey from retaliating against any person who reports that their debt to Bailey was wrongfully submitted to law enforcement for collection or who provided information or cooperated with the State in its investigation and prosecution of the case and from threatening consumers with taking any of the above actions. No person employed by or affiliated with Bailey can violate these provisions.

Bailey must cooperate and assist the State to resolve all wrongful arrests or convictions of affected consumers, reinstatement of victims’ wrongfully-suspended licenses, refunds of fees and fines, and expungement of any criminal records.

Victims of these or similar business practices should contact the Attorney General’s office to file a consumer complaint at (800) 482-8982 or go to ArkansasAG.gov.

 

JULY 20, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S COVID 19 UPDATE – JULY 20, 2020
Monday was the first day for the mask mandate to take effect in Arkansas. If a person cannot maintain a distance of at least six feet with non-household members either indoors or outside, a mask should be worn. Governor Hutchinson compared it to farmers working together to help out neighbors.

Governor Hutchinson announced Monday that he was assigning ten National Guard members to assist at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville for the next 30 days.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
699 new cases Monday (695 Sunday and 771 Saturday)
Of the new cases Monday, 688 were in the community and 11 were in prisons
33,927 cumulative cases
471 currently hospitalized (up 15 from yesterday)
111 on ventilators (up 6 from yesterday)
363 deaths (up 6 from yesterday)
7,127 active cases (121 in nursing homes, 1,093 in prisons, 5,913 in the community)
26,397 recoveries
Cumulative positive rate is 7.8%
5,689 tests yesterday.
Mitchell Simpson with the Department of Energy announced that there was $8.21 million available for energy assistance through the CARES program. The assistance money can be used for gas, wood, propane or electricity. The program is administered in Polk County by ARVAC. For more information dial (479) 229-4861.
The counties with the most new cases today were Pulaski with 68, Washington with 44, Craighead with 32, Pope with 30, Benton with 29, Garland with 24, Sebastian with 22, and Saline with 21. All other counties had fewer than 20 new cases.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 49 positive cases with 30 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 306 positive cases with 246 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 134 positive cases with 93 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 20 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 5 positive cases with 3 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

For additional information, click on one of the links below.https://https://www.healthy.arkansas.com
https://www.cdc.gov/

Again, there are now 33,927 total COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. 7,127 are considered Active Positives. The death toll increased by six to 363. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

COVID-19 UPDATE – MONDAY AM 07-20-2020
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas reached 33,000 over the weekend, while Active Positive cases approached 7,000. The death toll topped 350, and hospitalizations climbed up to over 450. During the most recent COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock on Friday afternoon, the two main topics were the improving state unemployment figures and the mask mandate that takes effect around the state today.

Governor Asa Hutchinson highlighted a report released Friday showing a 1.6 percent decrease in the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment figures, from 9.6 percent in May to 8.0 percent in June. The Governor said the report was good news for Arkansas' economy, which he called the "second crisis" of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Hutchinson defended his executive order requiring that everyone in Arkansas wear a protective face covering beginning today, July 20. He addressed reports that some law enforcement agencies across the state have expressed refusal to enforce the mandate in their jurisdictions. The Governor says he respects the right of law enforcement to set priorities for their agencies, but he views law enforcement as partners in educating the public on the importance of wearing a mask.

The executive order that takes effect today requires every person in Arkansas to wear a face covering completely over their mouth and nose in all indoor and outdoor environments, excluding private homes, where they are exposed to nonhousehold members and cannot maintain six feet of social distancing. Health officials are hopeful that the mask mandate will help decrease the transmission of COVID-19. The directive exempts children younger than 10, people with medical conditions or disabilities preventing them from wearing a mask, and people participating in athletic activities where the mask would inhibit the activity. Law enforcement will be authorized and encouraged to enforce the directive. Violations will be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $100 to $500, although first-time offenders will receive a written or verbal warning. Police can still enforce trespassing and other laws to remove violators from businesses or other locations at the request of the property owner. 

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 49 positive cases with 30 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 306 positive cases with 246 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 143 positive cases with 93 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 20 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 5 positive cases with 3 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials are scheduled to provide the next statewide update this afternoon at 1:30. Friday's Press Conference was the last to feature Dr. Nate Smith of the Arkansas Department of Health, who is taking on a new role at the national Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.

MEET US ONLINE FOR THE MARKETING WORKSHOP SERIES
Presented in Partnership with Team Camden
Marketing is and has always been an ever-changing task for small businesses. Janell Morton, Center Director, and Kristen Cribb, Business Consultant with the SAU Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, in partnership with Team Camden, are excited to offer a free four-part webinar series on the basics of building a successful marketing campaign for your small business.

During the COVID pandemic, the SAU ASBTDC has served the Camden small business community through virtual Zoom meetings and will continue to do so. Please contact us at sau@asbtdc.org or contact Dotty with OPED at 870.836.2210 to schedule your free and confidential virtual meeting with a small business consultant.

Webinar #1
Positioning Your Business for Growth - Tuesday, July 21
12-1:30 p.m.

As a small business owner wearing many hats, it's very tempting to jump right into achieving the "how" without first knowing the "what" in marketing.

Success with marketing begins by identifying the biggest growth opportunities for your business. During this interactive webinar, we will lay the foundation for marketing your business successfully in today's ever-changing marketplace.

UPDATED WITH CORRECTION. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES SAFETY PROCEDURES FOR 20-21 ACADEMIC YEAR
MAGNOLIA -- As Southern Arkansas University looks forward to beginning the 20-21 academic year August 11, Dr. Trey Berry, president, urges students, faculty, and staff to be heroes by practicing the safety protocols established to maintain a healthy campus.

“We always say that SAU feels like home, and it does now more than ever,” Berry said. “This year will be like no other in our history, but we are in this journey together. Now is the time for heroes. Now is a time for reaching out and caring for others.”

To support and protect the SAU family and ensure that students have a successful academic semester, the University’s Reopening Committee and Risk Management Task Force have worked diligently to develop a 2020 Return to CampusGuide. This living document is based on current state and federal public health guidance and is viewable by visiting web.saumag.edu/coronavirus/guide.

Some specific measures included in the University’s guide are educating students, faculty, and staff on methods to mitigate viral spread. Face coverings will be required in public spaces where social distancing is not possible, and both students and faculty will be required to wear face coverings in the classroom.

Classrooms have been modified to allow for social distancing, hand sanitizing stations have been placed in buildings across campus, and programs have been established to deliver synchronous learning to students enrolled in face-to-face classes who may present a health-related need to be absent for extended periods of time. Enhanced cleaning measures have been developed following Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

Indoor events hosted by external groups will NOT be permitted this fall. Outdoor events will be approved on a case-by-case basis. Any approved outdoor events will be required to follow current public health guidance. Decisions are still under consideration regarding popular events such as Family Day, Mulegating, and Homecoming. When asked about these events, a spokesperson indicated that regrettably some of these events may be postponed or canceled due to the current public health crisis.

SAU plans to open residence halls to returning students via appointment beginning August 5, and plans to welcome freshman to campus August 9. For the most current information regarding campus events, openings, and changes, visit the SAU website at www.saumag.edu.

The mission of Southern Arkansas University is to educate students for productive and fulfilling lives in a global environment by providing opportunities for intellectual growth, individual enrichment, skill development, and meaningful career preparation.

FT. SMITH AIRPORT POTENTIAL HOST OF SINGAPORE AIR FORCE, F-35 AIRCRAFT
Washington, D.C. — Ft. Smith Airport has been selected as one of five possible sites to host F-35 planes as well as the Republic of Singapore’s F-16 squadron. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has long advocated for Ft. Smith’s inclusion in this important economic development and national security initiative, and other Arkansas officials have pledged their support of the city and state’s efforts to compete for the mission.
On July 6, 2020, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett signed a memorandum to establish a permanent Foreign Military Sales training center at a single location in the continental United States for 24 to 36 F-35 long term Foreign Military Sales aircraft and for Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 basing. The Republic of Singapore Air Force is an F-35 Foreign Military Sales customer and wishes to collocate its current F-16 squadron—now at Luke Air Force Base—with its F-35 aircraft to a long-term Foreign Military Sales location.
Fort Smith Airport, Hulman Field, Buckley Air Force Base, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, and Selfridge Air National Guard Base are the final candidates for the collocation.
“Ft. Smith is a strong candidate for Singapore’s F-16 squadron and future F-35 aircraft. The United States deeply values our relationship with Singapore, and I appreciate Secretary Barrett’s consideration of Arkansas as a location for our important defense partnership. I look forward to working with the Air Force and the state of Arkansas to ensure that Ft. Smith is a welcome location for this vital new national security mission,” said Senator Cotton.
“I was elated to learn that Ebbing Air National Guard Base is a finalist to become home to this important training facility. The state is a serious contender because Senator Cotton and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission launched a serious and sophisticated campaign to persuade the selection committee that Fort Smith is the right place. If Arkansas is selected, this will be a significant victory for Fort Smith and all of Arkansas,” said Governor Hutchinson.
“Fort Smith would be an ideal location to host this mission and we appreciate that Secretary Barrett continues to keep it in the running as the Air Force narrows its list of sites under consideration. The reason Fort Smith has made it to this pivotal point in the process is due, in a large part, to the community’s enthusiastic support and tireless efforts. I am committed to continuing to work with state and local officials, as well as my colleagues in the delegation, to get this effort across the finish line,” said Senator Boozman. 
“Fort Smith has everything the Air Force needs for this training center. With our strategic location and strong community, we are primed to support our allies and the next generation of air combat capabilities. I look forward to working with Secretary Barrett and my fellow Arkansans as the vetting process continues. The River Valley is ready to take on this critical defense mission,” said Congressman Womack.

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES 2020 SUMMER INTERNS
Says, ‘exclusive internship program that allows students to gain first-hand and unique experiences in public service’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge this week welcomed ten students from across the State to the Attorney General’s Office Annual Summer Internship program. Despite a brief delay in start dates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office has provided a variety of experience to students and future leaders in a safe environment.
“I am excited to offer this exclusive internship program that allows students to gain first-hand and unique experiences in public service,” said Attorney General Rutledge, “Each intern will work with the professionals in various areas of the Office where they learn the value of helping Arkansans.”

Rutledge is proud to welcome the following students into the Office:
Gifty Agana is a senior at Hendrix College where she is a Political Science major. She is from Fayetteville and a graduate of Fayetteville High School. Agana is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Deshawn Beard is a sophomore at Philander Smith College where she is a Philosophy major. She is from New Orleans and a graduate of Slidell High School. Beard is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Madison Beck graduated from the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business in May with a Bachelor of Science degree. She was a business administration major with an emphasis in marketing. Beck, of Center Ridge, is a graduate of St. Joseph High School and worked in the Northwest Arkansas Office. She will pursue her juris doctorate degree from University of Arkansas School of Law beginning this fall.

Jake James is a junior at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he is a Financial Management/Investment and Pre-Law major. He is a Little Rock native, and graduated from the Little Rock Catholic High School for Boys. James is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Kyle Lants is a senior at the University of South Carolina where he is Criminal Justice and Criminology major. He is a Little Rock native and graduated from Pulaski Academy. Lants is working in the Public Affairs Department.

David Lee is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas where he is a History major with a minor in Communications and Political Science. He is from Maumelle and graduated from Maumelle High School. Lee is working in the Communications Department.

Drew Martin is a graduate student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where he is currently seeking a master’s degree in public administration. He is from Bryant and graduated from Bryant High School and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Martin is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Mallory McClure is a junior at the University of Central Arkansas where she is a Political Science and Communication major. She is from Batesville and a graduate of Batesville High School. McClure is working in the Communications Department.

Kaitlyn McFarland is a junior at the University of Alabama where she is a Political Science major. She is from Hot Springs and a graduate of Lakeside High School. McFarland is working in the Administration Department.
Allyson Oliver is a junior at Ouachita Baptist University where she is a Psychology and Political Science major. She is from Conway, and a graduate of Conway High School. Oliver is working in the Public Affairs Department

Katie Strickland is a junior at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where she is an International and Global Studies and Political Science major. She is from Little Rock and a graduate of Mount St. Mary Academy. Strickland is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Maddison Thomas is a senior at Hendrix College where she is a Sociology major. She is from North Little Rock and graduated from North Little Rock High School. Thomas is working in the Public Affairs Department.

College students interested in learning more about the Attorney General’s Internship program should contact the Office at (501) 682-2454 or by email at internship@arkansasag.gov.

JULY 17, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 17, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and state health officials presented their daily COVID-19 Taskforce Conference Friday afternoon. During the press conference Gov. Hutchinson touted newly released figures showing a decrease in Arkansas' unemployment rate and he defended the face mask mandate announced on Thursday.

Statewide, Gov. Hutchinson said 648 additional cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total cases to 31,762. Hospitalizations decreased by six to a total of 464 over the same period. Revised figured increased the death toll by 12 since June for a current total of 353. Recoveries grew by 581 to a total of 24,776. The number of patients on ventilators decreased by four from Thursday to a total of 97.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 38 positive cases with 27 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 287 positive cases with 239 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 119 positive cases with 87 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 20 positive cases with 11 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 5 positive cases with 3 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Gov. Hutchinson highlighted a report released Friday showing a 1.6 percent decrease in the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment figures, from 9.6 percent in May to 8.0 percent in June. He said the report was good news for Arkansas' economy, which he called the "second crisis" of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gov. Hutchinson also announced data now available detailing COVID-19 transmission rates and cumulative totals broken down to the municipal level. The new information can be found at www.achi.net. Unfortunately, at the time of this broadcast, the website was down and that new information was unavailable. According to Gov. Hutchinson, the data shows De Queen and other rural communities have had higher per-capital transmission rates than larger urban areas like Little Rock or Fayetteville. 
Gov. Hutchinson defended his executive order, announced Thursday, that everyone in Arkansas will be required to wear a protective face covering beginning Monday, July 20. He addressed reports that some law enforcement agencies across the state have expressed refusal to enforce the mandate in their jurisdictions. 

Vacation-goers received a message from Gov. Hutchinson in regard to the potential need to self-quarantine upon their return. He urged Arkansans returning from vacation to use common sense when deciding if they need to be tested or self-quarantined when they get home.

Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials are slated to provide another update Monday afternoon. Friday's conference was the last to feature Dr. Nate Smith of the Arkansas Department of Health, who is taking on a new role at the national Center for Disease Control. Again, the state saw an increase of 648 COVID-19 cases since Thursday for a total of 31,762. Hospitalizations decreased by six to a total of 466. Overall deaths increased by 12 to 353. Current recoveries grew to 24,776. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES SAFETY PROCEDURES FOR 20-21 ACADEMIC YEAR
MAGNOLIA -- As Southern Arkansas University looks forward to beginning the 20-21 academic year August 11, Dr. Trey Berry, president, urges students, faculty, and staff to be heroes by practicing the safety protocols established to maintain a healthy campus.

“We always say that SAU feels like home, and it does now more than ever,” Berry said. “This year will be like no other in our history, but we are in this journey together. Now is the time for heroes. Now is a time for reaching out and caring for others.”

To support and protect the SAU family and ensure that students have a successful academic semester, the University’s Reopening Committee and Risk Management Task Force have worked diligently to develop a 2020 Return to CampusGuide. This living document is based on current state and federal public health guidance and is viewable by visiting web.saumag.edu/coronavirus/guide.

Some specific measures included in the University’s guide are educating students, faculty, and staff on methods to mitigate viral spread. Face coverings will be required in public spaces where social distancing is not possible, and both students and faculty will be required to wear face coverings in the classroom.

Classrooms have been modified to allow for social distancing, hand sanitizing stations have been placed in buildings across campus, and programs have been established to deliver synchronous learning to students enrolled in face-to-face classes who may present a health-related need to be absent for extended periods of time. Enhanced cleaning measures have been developed following Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

Indoor events hosted by external groups will be permitted this fall. Outdoor events will be approved on a case-by-case basis. Any approved outdoor events will be required to follow current public health guidance. Decisions are still under consideration regarding popular events such as Family Day, Mulegating, and Homecoming. When asked about these events, a spokesperson indicated that regrettably some of these events may be postponed or canceled due to the current public health crisis.

SAU plans to open residence halls to returning students via appointment beginning August 5, and plans to welcome freshman to campus August 9. For the most current information regarding campus events, openings, and changes, visit the SAU website at www.saumag.edu.

The mission of Southern Arkansas University is to educate students for productive and fulfilling lives in a global environment by providing opportunities for intellectual growth, individual enrichment, skill development, and meaningful career preparation.
 

RUTLEDGE ISSUES STATEMENT ON GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S EXECUTIVE ORDER ON STATEWIDE MASK MANDATE
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following Governor Hutchinson’s Executive Order on a statewide mask mandate.
“I have long encouraged Arkansans to take personal responsibility of preventing the spread of COVID19 by wearing masks when not able to socially distance,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is imperative that we all take the exponential spread of this deadly disease seriously not only for the safety of family, friends and neighbors, but we must also reopen our schools and get our economy back to its full strength moving our country away from this virus and back to exercising our God given freedoms.”

 

July 16, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 16, 2020
Arkansas residents and visitors will be required to wear protective face masks in almost all public settings and under almost all situations, according to a new mandate announced Thursday afternoon during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference. 
Gov. Hutchinson announced the mandate in response to the continuing growth of COVID-19-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Over the previous 24 hours, Arkansas witnessed 817 additional COVID-19 cases for a new total of 31,114. Hospitalizations increased by 12 to 470 and deaths by six to 341. Currently active cases grew to 6,578.
The counties with the most new cases today were Pulaski with 114, Washington with 68, Benton with 48, Sebastian with 43, Pope with 40, Faulkner with 27, Yell with 26, Garland with 24, Craighead with 22, and Arkansas with 20. All other counties had fewer than 20 new cases.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 37 positive cases with 27 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 284 positive cases with 238 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 114 positive cases with 86 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 14 positive cases with 11 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 4 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

According to the executive order, beginning Monday, July 20 every person in Arkansas is required to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose in outdoor and indoor areas where a person is exposed to non-household members and where distancing of six feet or more cannot be assured.

There are a number of exemptions included in the mandate. The executive order includes exemptions for anyone younger than 10 years of age or anyone with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask. The mandate is not enforceable among anyone participating in athletic activities in which six feet distance is not achievable and wearing a mask would be prohibitory to the activity. 
Finally, the mandate is lifted in counties where the Department of Health has certified that risk of community transmission of COVID-19 is low. During Thursday's conference, Gov. Hutchinson said that means counties which have not seen a positive COVID-19 case in at least 28 days. 
 The fine for not wearing a face covering without an appropriate exemption can range from $100 to $500. Local and state law enforcement officers will not have the authority to arrest or detain anyone violating the face mask offense. 

According to the COVID-19 taskforce, one of the goals of the face mask mandate is ensuring ICU beds within Arkansas' hospitals do not reach capacity. Troy Wells, CEO of Baptist Health, Arkansas' largest hospital, said 32 of Arkansas' 200 ICU beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients. He said hospitals in the state have developed surge plans to accommodate any additional growth in severe COVID-19 cases.  Wells also announced the launch of clinical trials within Arkansas of a novel COVID-19 vaccine. He said certain Arkansans are welcome and encouraged to participate. For more information on the trials, or to sign up, visit www.arkansascovidvaccine.com

Gov. Hutchinson said at this time the mandate does not have a definitive end date. He said the governor's office, legislature and state health officials will continue to track progress of the virus to determine when the order can be lifted.

Again, a statewide face mask mandate will go into effect Monday, July 20. On Thursday, the Arkansas COVID-19 Taskforce added 817 new cases of COVID-19 for a state total of 31,114. There were an additional six deaths for a total of 341 as well as 12 new hospitalizations totaling 470. A total of 6,020 tests were conducted on Wednesday with a total positivity rate of 7.6 percent. Currently, there are 6,578 documented active cases within the state. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 






OPED BOARD OF DIRECTORS BOARD MEETING
The OPED Board of Directors will meet on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 10:00 A.M. in the OPED Training Room located at 570 Ben Lane SE in Camden.

The Agenda is as follows:
Call to Order                                                                                                                      
Audience Participation  
Approval of Minutes – June 2020
Financial Reports – June 2020
Overview of Contacts-Ext. Director                          
Old Business
Workforce Project Update          
AEDC's Competitive Communities
Open Discussion                                                                                                                              
Adjournment   

Please wear a mask if you have one. There will be hand sanitizer available. Social distancing will be practiced in seating arrangement. The Doors to the meeting area will be open. Packets will be on the tables.

Next Scheduled Board Meeting – August 26, 2020

RSVP will be required. Please RSVP to  836-2210 and leave a message or email oped@att.net  by July 21st by 2:00 p.m To allow OPED to prepare for social distancing seating.

The next Scheduled Board Meeting is August 26, 2020.


JULY SUMMER ON THE SQUARE EVENTS AND GRILL WAR EVENTS IN DOWNTOWN EL DORADO POSTPONED DUE TO CONTINUED COVID-19 CONCERNS
EL DORADO, ARK.,— People who were looking forward to Summer on the Square this month in Downtown El Dorado will have to wait a little longer. Main Street El Dorado recently announced that its summer activities — which include Grill Wars Steak competition and Music on the Square with live bands— have been rescheduled for Saturday, August 22, due to concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A plan for the July 25 installment of Summer on the Square had been approved by the Arkansas Health Department but after further consideration amid reports of a spike in COVID-19 cases, Main Street El Dorado decided to postpone the event until August.

"With the uncertainties that come with COVID, we wanted to be ultra-conservative. Even though we had a plan with the Arkansas Health Department, we have a great number cooking teams that were mostly coming from out of state and we wanted to be prudent," said Greg Withrow, president of the Main Street El Dorado board of directors.

"Hopefully, by August, things will have settled down with COVID and we can do our event and do it safely."

Withrow explained. Withrow promised that the August presentation of Summer on the Square will bring the same level of fun and the same safety measures that had been set for July.

For more information or to register for August Grill Wars, call the Main Street El Dorado office at 870-862-4747. Also, visit www.mainstreeteldorado.org or the Main Street El Dorado Facebook page.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: FAKE CHARITIES DISGUISED AS HELPING MILITARY AND VETERANS
LITTLE ROCK – It is important to be vigilant and do your homework when donating to a new charity for the first time. Scammers have been stealing money from Arkansans by posing as veterans’ charities and often requesting charitable donations. Even though these bad actors can leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, it is important to note that there are still many well-intentioned military and veterans charities across Arkansas and the country doing tireless work for our nation’s heroes.

“Arkansas is just one big small town and the fantastic people of our state have a giving spirit, especially when it comes to our men and women in uniform,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But, I want to make sure Arkansans’ generosity is not taken for granted by con artists looking to make a quick buck posing as a fake military or veteran’s charity.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers ensure an organization’s legitimacy before giving money:

Ask questions before giving. Only give when comfortable that the donation will support a trustworthy organization or activity. Refuse high-pressure appeals. Legitimate charities will not rush a donation.

Ask for written information or research the organization online. A legitimate charity will send information that provides the organization’s mission and how the donation will be used, along with proof that the contribution is tax deductible.

Call the charity directly. To avoid falling victim to sham solicitors, personally contact the charity before giving a donation by email, to the person knocking at the front door or to a telephone solicitor to ensure it is not a scam.

Do not send cash. For security and tax records, make donations by check or credit card.

Search the Arkansas Charities Database for more information on charities in Arkansas, including those benefiting service members and their families.

The FTC has released a video to highlight tips on how to research charities on giving wisely to veterans organizations.

In 2015, Rutledge launched the first-ever Military and Veterans Initiative at the Attorney General’s office to assist active duty military service members, reservists, veterans and their families with consumer-related issues and many other collaborative efforts.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982, consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

VAN BUREN POLICE ASK ASP/CID FOR INVESTIGATION OF OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING INCIDENT
JULY 15, 2020

The Arkansas State Police is continuing its investigation today of an officer involved shooting incident that occurred yesterday afternoon (July 14th) at a Van Buren motel.  Lawrence Brandenburg, 74, of Van Buren was shot and wounded when he reportedly reached for a gun as police entered a motel room.

The incident occurred at the Travelers Inn, located at 3107 Alma Highway.  Van Buren police had been contacted shortly after 1:30 PM about a motel occupant who had pointed a gun at motel employees.

Local police officers who responded to the call attempted to make contact with the motel occupant, later identified as Brandenburg.  During the encounter Brandenburg reached for a handgun and a VBPD officer fired his weapon, striking Brandenburg.

Officers rendered first aid and Brandenburg was transported to a nearby hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.  Earlier today Brandenburg remained hospitalized.  No police officers or motel employees were injured.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are leading the investigation.  The investigative file, once completed, will be turned-over to the prosecuting attorney to determine if the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Charges against Brandenburg are pending at this time.

MASK UP WALMART SHOPPERS
Walmart Inc. of Bentonville has announced that beginning Monday July 20, 2020 you will be required to wear face coverings in all Walmart Stores as well as at all Sam’s Clubs.

There are a number of other companies that have mandated face covering be worn to shop including Best Buy, Kroger and Starbucks.

Walmart said that it has created a new position of "health ambassador". You “Health Ambassadors” will be stationed at store entrances. They will be reminding shoppers that enter without a face covering of the new policy. Ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers. The ambassadors who can be identified by their black polo shirts will help customers who enter the store without a face covering to try and find a solution.

Sam's Clubs will provide masks to customers, who pay a membership fee to shop there.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has resisted calls for such a mandate, saying he doesn't want to install a rule "that is unenforceable." He has, however, endorsed a model ordinance the cities can adopt that would require residents to wear a face covering in public.  The ordinance that cities across the state are adopting does not contain penalties for violations. Cities adopting the ordinance include Camden, Bentonville, Conway, Helena-West Helena, Hot Springs, North Little Rock, Rogers and Tontitown. 

STATEWIDE EDUCATOR SURVEY CONFIRMS SIGNIFICANT COVID CONCERNS AHEAD OF SCHOOL REOPENING
Arkansas educators want to see the safe return to in-person learning in schools across our state; however, they remain concerned about the risk to their students and colleagues.  When we return to classroom learning, we need to do it in a sustainable way that ensures school buildings stay safe and stay open.  

survey conducted by AEA over the last weekend, confirmed Arkansas educators are extremely concerned about the safety of returning to in-person learning in the fall. More than six thousand teachers and education support professionals responded to the survey, representing all 75 counties in the state. 

The results show 90% of respondents are concerned about student health issues related to teaching and learning in schools, and 98% believe it will be very or somewhat difficult to implement social distancing or other safety measures in school buildings. In addition, more than 40% of respondents said they are considering retiring early or leaving the profession as a result of the pandemic. 

While acknowledging the disruption and learning loss caused by the pandemic, and the importance of in-person instruction, most respondents believe schools should reopen only after public health experts determine it’s safe to return. Educator input and adequate planning and equipment are also necessary to protect school employees, students and visitors from COVID-19. 

As districts discuss plans to for the 2020-2021 school year it is essential that we make decisions based in science and safety. Schools must not become places that increase that spread or endanger the lives of students, staff, or of our surrounding community. Districts will need flexibility and should be including educators in discussions aimed at providing the best possible education for our students as we confront the challenges posed by COVID-19. 

“The message from the vast majority of responding Arkansas educators is clear: we must assure the health and safety of students and educators before our schools are ready to reopen,” said AEA President Carol Fleming. “We need supplies, support and clearly communicated safety protocols before our students, teachers and education support staff can consider returning to in-person learning. Arkansas’s educators know their students, parents and communities best, and they want to be a part in decision-making as we develop a safe, sustainable path forward.” 

AEA has formed a “Return to Learn” committee made up of educators across the state. They are currently analyzing the results of the survey and health guidance and will create a list of expectations that must be met before students and educators can return to the classroom.

JULY 15, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP JULY 15, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and state health officials presented their daily COVID-19 Taskforce Conference Wednesday afternoon. Officials provided an update on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic across Arkansas, which grew Wednesday to over 30,000 total cases. Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily COVID-19 Briefing by announcing that Walmart and Sam's will start requiring that shoppers wear masks.
Statewide, Gov. Hutchinson said 564 additional cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total cases to 30,297. An additional 13 hospitalizations were reported over the same period for a total of 458. Deaths increased by four to 335. Recoveries grew by 679 to a total of 23,523. There are currently 94 people on ventilators.  Gov. Hutchinson also shared the announcement by Walmart that it would require customers to wear protective face masks in each of its stores across the country. Walmart made the announcement Wednesday morning that the mask regulation would go into effect July 20. 

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 37 positive cases with 27 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 282 positive cases with 230 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 112 positive cases with 84 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 13 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 4 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Dr. Nate Smith of the Arkansas Department of Health noted the significance of the state hitting the 30,000-mark in terms of total COVID-19 cases. Smith said that, while this is still less than one percent of the state's total population, the growing figure means the battle against COVID-19 will continue for some time. Congressman French Hill, who represents Arkansas' second district in the U.S. House of Representatives, spoke briefly during the conference. He stressed the importance of wearing masks in public spaces despite the inconvenience they may cause.

Dr. Smith gave the following report of numbers:
564 new cases (78 in prisons and 486 in the community)
30,297 cumulative
6,439 active cases (130 in nursing homes, 979 in prisons, 5,330 in the community)
13 new hospitalizations
458 currently hospitalized
4 new deaths
335 deaths total
679 recoveries yesterday
23,523 total recoveries
5,146 test results reported yesterday
80,862 total tests in July.

Gov. Hutchinson added that state residents, including himself, have become "weary" of COVID-19 but stress that patience will help the state, nation and world get through the current pandemic. 

The Arkansas Educational Association released a survey of over 6,000 teachers on Wednesday stating that over 90 percent of respondents expressed concern over the start of school this fall. Gov. Hutchinson advised school districts and teachers to study and follow state educational guidelines. He said these guidelines attempt to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the upcoming school year and that educators should feel "confident" by their recommendations. 

Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials will provide another update Thursday afternoon. Again, the state saw an increase of 594 COVID-19 cases since Tuesday for a total of 30,297. Hospitalizations grew by 13 to a total of 458. Deaths increased by four to 335. Current recoveries grew to 23,523. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas and the second for Oklahoma information.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/


CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met last night in regular session last night at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order at 7:02 pm. The invocation was given by Reverend H. Earl Anderson, Pastor of the Shiloh missionary Baptist Church.

The Minutes of the Special called meeting of June 25th and the regular meeting that was held on June 9th were approved. The financial report from June 202 was approved.
The Mayor deferred his time for the Mayor’s report to Dr. Lawrence Braden, Chief Medical Officer for Ouachita County. He stated that his role was to bring facts. He explained what viruses do, how they behave and how to prevent the spread. He encouraged the Council to pass the Mask ordinance that was on the agenda.

There was no old business on the agenda, but L.E. Lindsey had sent the transcript of the May Mayors report to City Hall and he thought that it would be included in the Agenda under old business. Alderman Lindsey contended that the transcript of the report should be included in May’s minutes. He made a motion to include it. Alderman Aregood seconded the motion. Alderman Askew asked what would be gained by including it in the minutes. He wanted to get past the contention on the council. The Mayor said he just wants to do what is right and move on to move Camden forward. Alderman Terry Smith stated that he could have worded things differently. He said that there were racists on the City Council and the School Board. He said that he is on the Council and his wife was on the School Board. He asked for an apology for putting a whole group instead of calling the names who the Mayor was calling racist. Alderman James Bell and Chip Simmons also voiced their views on the statements the Mayor had made. After a lengthy discussion the motion passed with 5 yesses and 3 noes. The transcript will be added to the May minutes.

The Council then moved on to Ordinance No. 15-20, an ordinance regarding the use of masks in relation to the COVID-19 Pandemic. A motion was made to suspend the rules. The motion passed. Motion to approve the ordinance was made and the Council went into a discussion regarding the Ordinance. Alderman Lindsey asked City Attorney Michael Frey to explain how this ordinance would work. He explained that if passed, it would give businesses the right to ask someone to leave their business if they aren’t wearing a mask provided there is a sign on the door stating masks are required to enter. The Police can be called if someone refuses to leave after they have been asked and can possibly be charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct. While there is no ticket or summons issued for simply not wearing a mask, Officials will be able to educate the offender on the importance of wearing a face covering. This includes City Property including the Trace and City Parks if Social Distancing cannot be achieved.  This does not affect restaurants, salons and other businesses that are already under directives from the Department of Health. Ordinance passed with 7 yesses and 1 no.

Resolution No. 18-20, a resolution adopting policies and procedures for the Camden Fire Department was introduced. Resolution passed without discussion.
Resolution No. 20-20, a resolution accepting a marker commemorating Ms. Mildred Weaver McKinney was introduced. The marker would be placed in Carnes Park. Resolution passed unanimously.

 

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW CANCELS PLANNED GRADUATION FOR THE CLASS OF 2020
Letter from Fred Lilly
To the Senior Class of 2020, Parents, and Community:"
On July 14, 2020, the CFSD Graduation Committee met to discuss plans for the in-person graduation ceremony. While we recognize that graduating from high school is an important milestone in a young person's life, the safety of our students, staff, and families must be considered. Due to the rising number of positive cases of Covid-19 each day, we do not feel it is prudent to host a graduation ceremony at this time. The possibility of endangering our seniors, their families, our staff, and the community at large is too great of a risk. So, it is with a heavy heart that we have decided to cancel the in-person graduation, tentatively scheduled for July 31, 2020.

I know that this announcement will not be met with applause. Some will vigorously disagree. However, we hope that you understand our position. As a district, it is our desire to see our students have a chance to embark upon amazing journeys into adulthood. To jeopardize that opportunity in any way is not an option.

Regrettably, you will not have the experience of a traditional graduation, we hope that your  virtual graduation will serve as a memory of a truly unforgettable senior year. We are extremely proud of the Class of 2020 and wish each of you tremendous success in the days, months, and years to come. You will always be a vital part of the Camden Fairview School District Family.

Sincerely,

Fred Lilly

GOVERNOR’S LAW ENFORCEMENT TASK FORCE TO MEET THIS WEEK
JULY 14, 2020
The Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas will convene at 10 AM, Thursday, July 16th at the Pine Bluff Convention Center, located at One Convention Center Plaza.

The Task Force appointees, government personnel and representatives of the public who may attend are reminded the meeting will be conducted in a manner consistent with the directives issued by the Arkansas Department of Health, specifically health screening prior to entering the meeting, the use of respiratory masks and exercising social distancing.

CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, July 17, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road in Camden, Arkansas.


RUTLEDGE ISSUES STATEMENT FOLLOWING THE FEDERAL EXECUTION OF DANIEL LEE
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the federal execution of Daniel Lewis Lee, convicted of killing a Pope County family of three, including an eight-year-old girl, in 1999.
“I appreciate the leadership of our federal partners to ensure justice was carried out this morning,” said Rutledge. “Today reaffirms that we are a country of laws and the most heinous offenses, like Lee’s act of torturing and murdering this Arkansas family, must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

COTTON STATEMENT ON UK HUAWEI ANNOUNCEMENT
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the UK announced Huawei would not be part of its 5G network:

"The UK government's decision is a step in the right direction, imposing limits on further Chinese spying on British communications. I urge London to remove completely the risk that Huawei 5G equipment poses to the privacy and security of its people."

July 14, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 14, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and state health officials presented their daily COVID-19 Taskforce Conference Tuesday afternoon. Officials provided an update on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic across Arkansas and focused on ramped up testing throughout the state.

Statewide, Gov. Hutchinson stated that 794 additional cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total cases to 29,733. An additional six hospitalizations were reported over the same period for a total of 445. Deaths increased by eight to 331. Recoveries grew by 738 to a total of 22,844. There are currently 91 people on ventilators. 

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 36 positive cases with 26 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 275 positive cases with 228 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 109 positive cases with 83 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 12 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 3 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Tuesday's conference focused heavily on increased testing efforts by both public and private labs across the state. Dr. Nate Smith of the Arkansas Department of Health said testing was increasing, with more tested on Monday than any other day since the start of the pandemic. 

Gov. Hutchinson said the state is also increasing enforcement of compliance measures aimed at Arkansas businesses. He said the state is investigating around a thousand complaints in regards to restaurants, bars and other businesses that are not following state guidelines in response to the virus. Compliance violations can include such instances as restaurants failing to require that customers wear protective face masks. Gov. Hutchinson said Arkansas cities with enforceable mask ordinances in effect include Fayetteville, Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Hot Springs, North Little Rock, Helena West Helena and Tontitown.

Stephanie Williamson, chief of staff to the governor, said state residents can also expect to see additional contact tracing efforts in the coming days and weeks. She said the state has partnered with an additional vendor to increase the number of statewide contact tracers. Contact tracers are responsible for reaching out to individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as anyone with whom they have come in contact, in order to encourage isolation practices. 

The counties with the most new cases today were in Pulaski with 111, Washington with 68, Sebastian with 52, Pope with 41, Johnson with 37, Benton with 36, Craighead with 29, and Faulkner with 24.

Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials will provide another update Wednesday afternoon. Again, the state saw an increase of 794 COVID-19 cases since Monday for a total of 29,733. Hospitalizations grew by six to a total of 445. Deaths increased by eight to 331. Current recoveries grew to 22,844. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas and the second for Oklahoma information.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus


ARKANSAS NATIONAL GUARDSMEN TO TRANSPORT COVID-19 PATIENTS
Guardsmen will transport positive COVID-19 patients to isolation facility near UAMS
WHO:        The Arkansas National Guard

 WHAT:      By order of the Governor, 14 medics were called to state active duty from the Arkansas Army National Guard to transport positive COVID-19 patients from locations around the state to an isolation facility near the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. This facility provides an isolation location for Arkansans unable to isolate at home due to family considerations.

 WHEN:      beginning July 14, 2020, for 30 days in

 WHERE:   Little Rock.

 WHY:        The Guard medics will work in 12-hour shifts around the clock to transport positive COVID-19 patients, as needed. For more information about the isolation facility, news media should contact the Arkansas Department of Health public information office.

 The Arkansas National Guard assumes support roles to augment civil authorities, where needed and directed by the Governor, to help in a crisis.

12 TEACHERS NAMED ARKANSAS TEACHER OF THE YEAR REGIONAL FINALISTS
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education is pleased to announce the 12 teachers named 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Regional Finalists. The regional finalists will be recognized and the four state semi-finalists will be announced at an event July 31 at the Governor’s Mansion. (The event will adhere to social distancing and virus prevention guidelines and directives.)

“I want to congratulate the regional finalists for their outstanding work and dedication to their students, schools, and communities,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “While one of them will become the next Arkansas Teacher of the Year, all of them have exhibited determination, commitment, and a passion for education and are deserving of this honor."

2021 ATOY Regional Finalists 
Teresa Adams
Grade 5 Literacy
Cabot Middle School South
Cabot School District
Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative
Tia Brickey
Library Media Specialist
Park Avenue Elementary School
Stuttgart School District
Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative
Bailey Coburn
General Music
East Side Elementary School
Magnolia School District
South Central Service Cooperative
Lea Ann Ferrell
Grade 4 Math
Lake Hamilton Intermediate School
Lake Hamilton School District
Dawson Education Service Cooperative
Amber Harbin
Grades K-8 Science, STEM, and Project Lead the Way 
Forest Heights STEM Academy
Little Rock School District
Pulaski County
Susan Henderson
Library Media Specialist
Ellen Smith Elementary School
Conway School District
Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative
Katie Hutton
Grades 10-12 Business Education
Academies of West Memphis
West Memphis School District
Great Rivers Education Service Cooperative
Todd Musgraves
Grade 4 Math and Science
College Hill Elementary School
Texarkana Arkansas School District
Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative
Susanna Post
Grades 9-12 Math and Business Technology
Belle Point Alternative Center
Fort Smith School District
Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative
Abbie Russell
Grade 3-5 EAST
Linda Childers Knapp Elementary School
Springdale School District
Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative
Melissa Steiner
Library Media Specialist
Hackler Intermediate School 
Mountain Home School District
Northcentral Arkansas Education Service Cooperative
Brycial Williams
Grade 1
Wynne Primary School
Wynne School District
Crowley’s Ridge Educational Service Cooperative
The Arkansas Teacher of the Year program is part of the National Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes teachers for their teaching and leadership skills. The 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, who will be announced this fall, will apply to become the 2021 National Teacher of the Year.

The four state semi-finalists named on July 31 will be selected from the 12 regional finalists. One of the four state semi-finalists will be named the 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.

Some State Board of Education members may attend the July 31 event at the Governor’s Mansion, but no official business will be conducted. 

To learn more about the ATOY program, visit https://bit.ly/2AXaDjE.

RUTLEDGE AND THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ASK U.S. SUPREME COURT TO UPHOLD ARKANSAS’ MEDICAID EXPANSION PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and uphold the Arkansas Works Medicaid Demonstration Project. The Justice Department is also seeking review to uphold Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion project.

Rutledge said, "Arkansas Works’ model was designed to encourage able-bodied Arkansans without dependents to transition into the workforce, building a stronger, more resilient connection with their communities. I appreciate Attorney General Bill Barr hearing from us last week in Arkansas on this issue and as a result, the Department of Justice also filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to allow our pilot program to continue as a way to support Arkansans by enabling recipients to obtain employment in exchange for Medicaid benefits and create a sense of accomplishment by improving their health and financial independence."

In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision to vacate Arkansas Works.


CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting tonight, Tuesday, July 14, 2020

at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. .
The agenda is as follows

  1. CALL TO ORDERB.   
    INVOCATION – Rev. Johnny Hobbie, Pastor - Maul Road Church of Christ, 1425 Maul Road, Camden, AR 

C.    PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

D.    ROLL CALL

E.    APPROVAL OF MINUTES
       1.  Special Called Meeting of June 25, 2020
       2.  Minutes of Regular Meeting June 9, 2020

F.    ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORT
      1.  Financial Report for June 2020

G.    AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

H.    MAYOR’S REPORT

 I.    OLD BUSINESS

 J.    NEW BUSINESS
1    Ordinance No. 15-20, an ordinance regarding the use of masks in relation to the      COVID-19 Pandemic.
2.   Resolution No. 18-20, a resolution adopting policies and procedures for the Camden Fire Department.
3.   Resolution No. 20-20, a resolution accepting a marker commemorating Ms. Mildred Weaver McKinney.

K.    OTHER BUSINESS

L.    ADJOURNMENT
 

STATE POLICE CID CALLED TO INVESTIGATE BANKS HOMICIDE
JULY 13, 2020
Bradley County Sheriff’s Deputies discovered the body of Crissy Lee Jacks, 44, of 322 Buck Fever Highway (U.S. 278) in Banks earlier today.  Authorities later contacted the Arkansas State Police requesting assistance.
 Based on evidence found at the residence, Special Agents of the Criminal Investigation Division are treating the case as a homicide.  Jacks’ body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the manner and cause of death will be determined.
It’s believed Jacks was last seen alive late yesterday (Sunday) outside her home.  Agents are continuing their investigation tonight (Monday).

 

VICKSBURG DISTRICT TO CONTINUE ONLINE RESERVATION SYSTEM INTO WINTER AT ARKANSAS, MISSISSIPPI, LOUISIANA CAMPGROUNDS
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District will continue to use the online reservation system Oct. 1 through Feb. 28, 2021 for campgrounds at its projects in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

All campsites at Class A campgrounds as well as campsites at select Class C and D campgrounds will be available by advance reservation only during this time.

Online reservations will open to the public Aug. 15 for visits on or after Oct. 1. Campsite reservations and payments for visits to these campgrounds must be made in advance at https://eur05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.recreation.gov%2F&data=02%7C01%7C%7Ce967a7c76a724f9c4e3a08d8276c4f53%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637302694152281835&sdata=fF3qkH0GnjEACqy1pLO4dTmkoo6Q%2F34WLdRYK%2BEBMOs%3D&reserved=0. Up-to-date information about the status of campgrounds at the USACE Vicksburg District's recreation sites is available at the following link: https://eur05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.usa.gov%2Fxw4K5&data=02%7C01%7C%7Ce967a7c76a724f9c4e3a08d8276c4f53%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637302694152281835&sdata=EmShQ0NR%2BeZ2nSGGV1N%2BcJwPbAItKZv4o0c538j4QKw%3D&reserved=0.

Affected campgrounds in Arkansas include Brady Mountain, Crystal Springs, Denby Point, Joplin, Stephens Park, Little Fir, and Tompkins Bend at Lake Ouachita; Arlie Moore, Edgewood, Iron Mountain, Caddo Drive, Shouse Ford and Alpine Ridge at DeGray Lake; and Parker Creek, Kirby Landing, Self Creek, Jim Wylie, Narrows Dam and Cowhide Cove at Lake Greeson.

Affected campgrounds in Mississippi include Dub Patton and South Abutment at Arkabutla Lake; Wallace Creek, Persimmon Hill, Chickasaw Hill, Water Valley Landing and Ford's Well at Enid Lake; North Abutment and North Graysport at Grenada Lake; and Clear Creek, Pat's Bluff, Hurricane Landing and Oak Grove at Sardis Lake.

Affected campgrounds in Louisiana include Tom Merrill at Bayou Bodcau.

For more information about operational changes or questions about recreation facilities in Arkansas, contact the Lake Ouachita Field Office at 501-767-2108, DeGray Lake Field Office at 870-246-5502, or Lake Greeson Field Office at 870-285-2151.

For more information about operational changes or questions about recreation facilities in Mississippi, contact Arkabutla Lake at 662-562-6261, Enid Lake at 662-563-4571, Grenada Lake at 662-226-5911, or Sardis Lake at 662-563-4531.

For more information about operational changes or questions about recreation facilities in Louisiana, contact the Bayou Bodcau Office at 318-949-1804.

The USACE Vicksburg District owns and operates more than 100 recreation areas across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana where millions of visitors enjoy fishing, camping, hunting, boating, hiking, swimming, geocaching and more every year. The district's 10 flood control reservoirs across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana provide numerous benefits to the region, including flood risk management, hydropower, water supply, wildlife management and recreation.

The USACE Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation's toughest challenges. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana that holds seven major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. The district is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.
 

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY’S SUPPLEMENTAL INSTRUCTION PROGRAM GAINS INTERNATIONAL CERTIFICATION
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) program is now the only one in Arkansas to have achieved the honor of certification by the International Center for Supplemental Instruction at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“We are striving to achieve a high standard of excellence with our program,” said Sheffield Coulter, SI coordinator at SAU.

Student SI leaders are valuable as they pass their experience in historically challenging courses along to those who need help academically. Leaders are hand-picked by faculty to help students deal with not only content but develop good study habits and strategies and help them get to know other students. SI leaders are chosen not only because they excelled in difficult courses but often because they took advantage of SI sessions themselves.

SI sessions are available through SAU Student Support Services, a federally-funded program designed to increase the retention and graduation rates and foster an institutional climate supportive of the success of low-income and first-generation college students and those with disabilities.

Dr. Julie Collins, executive director of the International Center for Supplemental Instruction, said SAU has implemented the core elements of SI to make a positive impact and that its practices uphold the SI model.

“It is an honor for our program to be awarded this recognition,” said Eunice Walker, director of Student Support Services. “This program helps students become successful, independent learners.”

SI has been available to SAU students since 1991. Data shows that students who consistently attend SI earn a higher grade and have a higher GPA upon graduation.

Walker gave special thanks to Coulter, SI leaders, and the SAU community. “They worked diligently to garner this achievement,” she said.

“We are currently the only accredited SI program in the state of Arkansas,” said Coulter, attributing the honor to the hard work of student leaders as well as faculty support.

SI leaders persevered through a shift to online instruction due to COVID-19.

Drew Glover, director of online learning, was a huge asset in helping set up sessions through Blackboard so that online sessions could continue. No sessions were missed during the crisis.

SI programs require attention to detail, time and resources, and a superb student and professional staff. SAU’s SI leaders are engaged in rigorous planning, observed by program leadership, and provided feedback for continual growth.

The decision to become an accredited program was made after SI training in the fall. Changes were made to lesson planning, observations and end-of-term reporting. Faculty support letters were obtained, as well.

“We are excited to have our program certified!” enthused Coulter.

The mission of Southern Arkansas University is to educate students for productive and fulfilling lives in a global environment by providing opportunities for intellectual growth, individual enrichment, skill development, and meaningful career preparation.

ARKANSANS FOR TRANSPARENCY LAUNCHES EFFORT TO PRESERVE DEMOCRACY, FIGHT BACK AGAINST OUT-OF-STATE INTERESTS “ARKANSAS VOTERS—NOT OUT-OF-STATE INTERESTS—DECIDE OUR ELECTIONS”
LITTLE ROCK – Today, Arkansans for Transparency launched a campaign in response to two proposed amendments to the Arkansas Constitution, which are meant to grossly manipulate Arkansas’s election process and the laws that have governed redistricting in our state for decades.

Jonelle Fulmer of Fort Smith and Washington County Judge Joseph Wood will serve as co-chairs of the committee, with Will Rockefeller serving as the committee’s secretary. The co-chairs released the following statement:

“From the very beginning, the proponents of these two amendments have operated under a false guise of transparency in an attempt to both confuse and deceive the Arkansas electorate. This effort is being championed by out-of-state interests as a way of stealing elections right in our own backyard. They’ve essentially described Arkansas as a lab rat for their own social and election engineering efforts. It’s unacceptable, and it’s not the way we do things in Arkansas.
“For these reasons, Arkansans for Transparency has been established to protect the democratic process in our state and to fight for what all Arkansans want and deserve: full transparency at the ballot box. Arkansas voters—not out-of-state interests—decide our elections, and we fully expect that message to be sent loud and clear in November.”
About Arkansans for Transparency:

Arkansans for Transparency is a Ballot Question Committee formed as a response to two proposed amendments to the Arkansas Constitution, which are meant to grossly manipulate Arkansas’s election process and the laws that have governed redistricting in our state for decades. The goal of Arkansans for Transparency is to protect our democratic process by educating voters on the deceitful practices by the amendments’ proponents.

 
 
 

JULY 13, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 13, 2020
Governor Hutchinson opened up the Press Conference by continuing to impress on Arkansans that the wearing of masks can make a difference in this fight against the spread of COVID-19:
Governor Hutchinson reported that the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had increased by 572 in the past 24 hours to a total of 28,939. The number of Active Positive cases has increased to 6,510. Hospitalizations increased by 19 to 439. The death toll grew by two to 323. The positivity rate of tests conducted in the past 24 hours is 7.5%. The Governor said that all Arkansans need to wear a mask and socially distance to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.The Governor noted that there were 1,061 new cases Saturday and 503 new cases Sunday.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 34 positive cases with 24 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 274 positive cases with 226 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 109 positive cases with 81 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 12 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 3 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Governor Hutchinson opened continues to impress on Arkansans that the wearing of masks can make a difference in this fight against the spread of COVID-19:"

Governor Hutchinson displayed graphs showing the capacity of hospitals in various regions of the state. With hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continuing to rise, Governor Hutchinson says there's still hospital capacity available but that Arkansans needed to work together to prevent a strain on health care workers and facilities.

Governor Hutchinson reiterated that schools will open in Arkansas the week of August 24th. Communities should be working hard over the next couple of weeks to get the coronavirus spread under control.
Responding to a reporter's question, the Governor acknowledged that 6 high schools in Arkansas have had to cancel football practice due to players being tested positive for COVID-19.
Responding to a question from a reporter for KAIT TV in Jonesboro, the Governor said that if people see violations of the any of the directives that they should report them to the ADH. The situation involved a restaurant owner saying he would not require masks.
Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith gave the following report of numbers:
572 new cases (3 in prisons, 569 in the community)
28,939 cumulative cases (127 in nursing homes, 958 in prisons, 5,425 in the community)
6,510 active cases
Over 500 of the recent new cases are in the Ouachita River Correctional Facility at Malvern
19 new hospitalizations
439 total hospitalized currently
89 on ventilators (up 7 from yesterday)
2 new deaths
323 deaths total
515 new recoveries
22,106 recoveries total
5,254 tests yesterday.

The counties with the most new cases are Pulaski with 77, Washington with 53, Sebastian with 40, Pope with 25, Benton with 23, Mississippi with 23, Crittenden with 22, Craighead with 20 and Jefferson with 20. All other counties had fewer than 20 new cases.
Dr. Smith spoke about the need to wear masks and debunked the wrong information on social media about masks not being effective.
For additional information, click on the link below.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases statewide increased by 572 to 28,939. Active Positives are up to 6,510. The death toll is up by two to 323. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

FUTURE FIT PRODUCTION/OPERATOR TRAINING FREE OF CHARGE
SAU Tech Workforce Training and OPED will be at the Incubator building Thursday, July 16th at 625 Adams Ave. in Camden from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to be register interested people for the “Future Fit Program”. This training was developed with input from local manufacturers. The training is a combination of instruction-led, hands-on and online instruction.

Location:  SAU Tech main campus

Class Schedule:   Monday-Thursday 5:00 pm TO 9:00 pm
Program lasts 9 weeks (excluding holidays)
Classes begin July 20, 2020
No cost to the student.  All costs paid by Arkansas Department of Commerce.
Only 15-20 students will be accepted.
GED/High School diploma AND Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) required.
A valid email address is required at registration.

For more information, contact Karmen House at khouse@sautech.edu or call 870-574-4769. 
This will be your final opportunity to register for this class.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM APPLICATION EXTENDED
The federal Paycheck Protection Program resumed accepting applications last week in response to the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act. The new deadline to apply for a P.P.P. loan is now August 8th.

If you are interested in applying for P.P.P. assistance for your small business, nonprofit, or agriculture business, contact your local bank to see if they are participating.

As of June 30th, 42,427 Arkansas businesses received P.P.P. loans totaling some $3.3 billion dollars. The average P.P.P. loan received by an Arkansas business is $78,246.

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

The Small Business Administration will forgive P.P.P. loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage, interest, or utilities. 60% must be used for payroll expenses.

Most local banks are participating in the program. If you need help finding a lender, contact the S.B.A. Arkansas office at 501-324-7379.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT JULY 15TH TAX DEADLINE
It’s time to do your taxes. No more delays. As the coronavirus took hold this spring, the federal government postponed the traditional April 15th filing deadline until July 15th.

The move provided some economical and logistical relief for taxpayers dealing with the disruptions and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. But now that new tax deadline is here.

Taxpayers must file or seek an extension by the new deadline or face a penalty. The I.R.S. is expecting about 150 million returns from individuals.

Taxpayers who need more time can request an extension on the I.R.S. website. That will give them until October 15th to file. However, an extension to file does not mean added time to pay. So those planning on filing later should estimate what they owe and make that payment by July 15th.

Go ahead and file your taxes even if you cannot pay. The I.R.S. is willing to set up payment plans or make other arrangements with taxpayers who cannot pay in full. Many of those can be set up online.

The I.R.S. is still processing and issuing refunds, most within 21 days. Those getting refunds will be paid interest, dating back to April 15th, if they file on time.

You can file or pay your taxes online. The I.R.S. urges taxpayers to use electronic options to support social distancing and speed the processing of returns, refunds, or payments.
There are other tax deadlines linked to July 15th. Check the I.R.S. website or reach out to a tax professional for assistance.


GET OUTSIDE: DE-STRESS OUTDOORS EVEN WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING, BUT BE RESPONSIBLE
Observe local ‘stay at home’ orders
Keep at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with
Don’t gather in large groups
Wear a face mask in public

Exercise. Throw a ball to your dog.  Go for a short walk. 
Use your ‘outdoor living room’ to connect with immediate family. 
School closed? Keep kids engaged. Go on a nature hunt. Get outdoor lesson plans at TurfMutt.com.
Unwind. Find solace. Sit and listen to nature. 
Plant something. Mow the yard. Trim a bush or tree. 

Use Community Green Space Responsibly. Your Yard is Your Safe Space. 

For more information, go to www.turfmutt.com 

COVID-19 UPDATE - SUNDAY 07-12-2020
The number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas increased by 1,061 on Saturday. That's a record for the number of cases added in a single day. Governor Asa Hutchinson said that the record of new cases is very concerning and may be the result of the July 4th celebrations. The Governor says he'll dig deeper into the data and have further comments at Monday afternoon's Press Conference in Little Rock. 
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 34 positive cases with 24 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 274 positive cases with 226 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 109 positive cases with 81 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 12 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 3 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

At the most recent Press Conference held on Friday in De Queen, Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, discussed the importance of wearing masks when out in the public. Dr. Smith says that face coverings are for source control.

Governor Hutchinson has said that a statewide mask mandate wouldn't be appropriate, noting that some of the state's 75 counties have few active cases. Earlier this month however, he issued an executive order allowing cities to adopt limited requirements for people to wear masks. Rules issued by the Health Department require customers and employees to wear masks in certain types of businesses across the state, such as restaurants and hair salons. The Health Department has also issued guidance recommending that people wear masks in all places in which they could come within six feet of people who are not from their households. 

 Governor Hutchinson warned Arkansans at Friday's Press Conference that COVID-19 is going to be a long-term fight.

Saturday was the first time the number of cases had increased by more than 1,000 in a day. Coming a week after the Fourth of July, some of the cases could have resulted from holiday gatherings. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people typically begin having symptoms of COVID-19 four to five days after they are infected. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

BEARDEN SCHOOL DISTRICT BREAKS GROUND ON CAMPUS-BASED SOLAR SYSTEMS
CAMDEN & LITTLE ROCK, ARK, July 9, 2020 – In conjunction with Bearden School District’s (BSD) monthly board meeting, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to announce the start of construction on two campus-based solar facilities that will supply roughly 90% of the school district’s energy.

 

The decision to go solar came shortly after South Central Service Cooperative’s (SCSC) announced its Camden-based solar project. Deciding to save with solar, BSD partnered with Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI) of North Little Rock to develop a 226-kW system near Bearden High school and a 195-kW solar system near the Bearden Elementary School cafeteria. BSD’s Superintendent, Denny Rozenberg, said the solar facility is one way in which the district can be fiscally responsible and energy friendly. “The Bearden School District is very proud of the partnership agreement with Today's Power to develop the first Solar Panel system for a public school district in South Arkansas, and it is estimated to save the  Bearden School District over $25,000 a year in energy costs for the next 20 years.”  He also said, “We greatly appreciate the insight of Ouachita Electric Cooperative General Manager, Mark Cayce, and South Central Educational Coop Director, Karen McMahen for providing this opportunity.”

The  Bearden School Board, president Mrs. Doris Parham and Bearden Superintendent, Denny Rozenberg believe that this Solar Panel Project will be a great asset to the Bearden School District and lead the way for other schools in South Arkansas to develop solar power energy saving projects in the future.

Made up of 1,120 solar panels, the two solar arrays are projected to save Bearden School District approximately $25,000 annually. Through the solar array, Bearden Schools will generate approximately 646,000 kWh each year, and gather roughly 90 percent of its energy while Entergy will provide the remaining 10 percent of Bearden’s energy needs. Construction will move forward upon approval of the preliminary interconnection site review. 

According to TPI President, Michael Henderson, “TPI is excited to play a role in helping to educate tomorrow’s leaders by lowering the cost of the educational process.  The actions taken by the Bearden School Board and leadership team proves they are preparing for the Bearden students/community to be successful.”
 

CAMDEN’S FIRST FRIDAY MARKET IS BACK!
First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR will hold the “Camden Drive Thru Farmer’s Market” on Friday, July 17th from 4PM till 6PM on Jefferson St in downtown Camden

Vendors will be on hand selling vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, honey, jam & jelly, baked goods and flowers. Jefferson St. will be turned into a one way street for the market. Customers may enter Jefferson Street at the courthouse and head East to Adams Ave.

Be sure to watch the First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR Facebook page to see which vendors will be present along with what items each one will have for sale on that evening.

Pricing will also be listed on the Facebook Page to assist customers in being prepared prior to getting to the market. Many vendors will also be taking pre-orders to make the purchasing go smoother.

Customers will not get out of their vehicles. They will simply pull up to any vendor they wish to purchase from and hand off will be made off from the vendor.

Watch the Facebook page for specials being offered from downtown businesses during the time of the farmer’s market.

Farmer’s Markets will be held on the 3rd Friday on the month. See you there!

TWO ARRESTS FOLLOW IN DERMOTT DISTURBANCE AND HOMICIDE CASE
JULY 12, 2020
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division, assisted by Dermott Police, late yesterday arrested Mario Milton, 27, and Alicia King, 24, both of Dermott.  Milton is charged with Murder (1st degree), and Battery (1st degree).  King is charged with Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution.
Both were jailed in Chicot County and are scheduled for a first appearance hearing tomorrow.
The charges against Milton and King are in connection with the death of Johnny Hayes and wounding another person outside 925 Skipper Bridge Road, in Dermott early Friday. (*See Friday news release below.)

STATE POLICE CID CALLED TO JOIN MULTI-JURISDICTION PROBE OF DREW COUNTY SHOOTING & HOMICIDE
JULY 10, 2020
A 64-year-old Dermott woman, Carolyn Hayes, was wounded earlier today outside 925 Skipper Bridge Road, in Dermott.  Her son, Johnny Hayes, 49, was shot and killed.
Dermott police received a telephone call about 12:22 AM reporting the shooting incident.  Only 45 minutes earlier a local police officer had been sent to the Skipper Bridge Road address to quell a disturbance that had arisen out of an argument involving Johnny Hayes and another person.
When police arrived at the residence a second time, Carolyn Hayes was seen walking in the front yard, but wounded.  Her son was laying in the yard, unresponsive and was later declared dead at an area hospital.  Johnny Hayes’ body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the manner and cause of his death will be determined.
State Police and local law enforcement officers and deputies have not made an arrest in the case.  The investigation is being handled jointly by the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division, Dermott Police Department, Drew County Sheriff’s Department and Chicot County Sheriff’s Department.

 

RUTLEDGE APPOINTS RENAE HUDSON DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CIVIL LITIGATION DEPARTMENT
Says Hudson is ‘the perfect choice to fill this leadership role’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today Renae Ford Hudson of Sherwood
was appointed Deputy Attorney General of the Civil Litigation Department. Hudson is a litigator with over 25 years of trial and management experience. She is tasked with handling the day-to-day operations of the department and managing a 20 person team of litigators and legal assistants.

“Renae is the perfect choice to fill this leadership role in the Civil Department,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “She has the experience, skills and the leadership ability to guide this outstanding team of attorneys in and out of the courtroom as they fight to protect Arkansans.”

Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office in 2003, Hudson spent time practicing in the areas of criminal defense, family law and utility regulation. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law where she taught litigation skills. In addition, she served as a local faculty member for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy Training Program.

Hudson graduated with honors from Arkansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and she received a Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law. She is a member of the New Hope Baptist Church in North Little Rock. She is also a member of the Little Rock Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

The Attorney General’s Office Civil Litigation Department handles approximately 500 cases each year in state and federal courts and serves as counsel representing agencies, officials, boards and commissions when they are named as defendants in civil lawsuits. The lawyers also initiate lawsuits when necessary to protect the interests of the State of Arkansas.

LAST DAY FOR RESIDENTS TO APPLY FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— Homeowners and renters in Cleveland, Drew, Grant, Hot Spring, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ouachita and Phillips Counties affected by the severe storms and straight-line winds on April 12, 2020, may be eligible for disaster assistance through the State of Arkansas Individual Assistance program. 

The application period for Individuals whose primary residence was destroyed or made uninhabitable WILL CLOSE WEDNESDAY, July 15, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.  In order for homeowners and renters in Cleveland, Grant, Jefferson and Lincoln Counties to be eligible for state disaster assistance funds applicants must apply for assistance through the Small Business Administration as well as through the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority’s Disaster Home Loan Program.  Homeowners in Drew, Hot Spring, Ouachita and Phillips Counties are not required to apply through the Small Business Administration, however, they are required to apply through the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority’s Disaster Home Loan Program to be eligible for state disaster assistance funds.

Assistance may include home repairs, cleaning, household debris removal, and personal property repair.  Businesses, second homes, vacation homes, vehicles, shed and outbuildings are NOT eligible for disaster assistance funds. 

Affected residents can apply by contacting the call center hotline weekdays 8:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. at 1-888-683-ADEM (2336).  Applicants will need to provide the address of the damaged home, insurance information, social security number and detailed damage information.  Residents will also be asked to provide a phone number and email address.

 
 

JULY 10, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE FROM SEVERE COUNTY – JULY 10, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and state health officials presented their daily COVID-19 Taskforce Conference at UA Cossatot in De Queen on Friday. Officials provided an update on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic across the state while focusing on COVID-19's impact in Sevier County as well as efforts which have succeeded in limiting the virus' impact locally.

Statewide, Gov. Hutchinson stated that 751 additional cases of COVID-19 were recorded between Thursday and Friday, bringing the total cases to 26,803. An additional eight hospitalizations were reported over the 24-hour period for a total of 402. Deaths increased by four to 313. Recoveries grew to a total of 20,642. Gov. Hutchinson highlighted the significant impact of COVID-19 in Sevier County, but also praised efforts to combat the virus while maintaining an active and strong economy. 
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 29 positive cases with 20 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 266 positive cases with 220 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 103 positive cases with 75 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 7 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 2 positive cases with 0 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Dr. Smith did say the 788 overall cases make Sevier County, per capita, the hardest hit in Arkansas. He added that two-thirds of the reported cases involved the county's Latino community. Of the total cases in Sevier County, the majority were among younger people with only 34 percent of those infected above 65 years of age. While noting the county's above average testing positivity rate, Dr. Smith did state that Sevier County has seen a vast improvement in combatting the virus. As proof, he highlighted the current number of active positives. This figure has dropped to 83, or around ten

The data provided by Sevier County's experience with COVID-19 proves the virus can be successfully fought through concentrated efforts, said Gov. Hutchinson and Dr. Smith. They said other communities across Arkansas can view De Queen and Sevier County as a cautious success story in the battle against COVID-19. 

A significant source of COVID-19 infections across the nation have stemmed from the close-in working conditions at meat processing plants. This has also been the case at Pilgrim's facility in De Queen, said Gov. Hutchinson, though he highlighted the company's efforts in curbing new contraction rates. 

Again, total COVID-19 cases in Arkansas grew by 751 to 26,803. Hospitalizations increased by eight to 402, and deaths by four to 313. Recoveries grew to a total of 20,642. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
 

CITY OF CAMDEN LOOKING FOR CANDIDATES TO BE CITY FIREFIGHTERS AND CITY POLICE
The City of Camden is looking for candidates to become City Fire Fighters. The Civil Service Commission will conduct entry-level examinations on Saturday, August 15, 2020 at 8:00 am at the Ouachita Valley Business and Technology Center, 625 Adams in Camden. Applications will be accepted until 6PM, Friday August 7, 2020 at 6PM. Competitive salary plus excellent benefits package. Applications and qualifications available at the City Clerk’s office in the Municipal Building or online at www.camden.ar.gov. Visit Camden Fire Department on Facebook. Call 836-6436, for more information. The City of Camden is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


EDUCATORS DEMAND SAFETY IN SCHOOL REOPENING
The following statement can be attributed to Arkansas Education Association Executive Director Tracey-Ann Nelson:

No one wants students to safely return to classrooms more than parents, educators and administrators. However, we can’t allow this common desire to place our children, educators and their families at risk.  

Today’s announcement of a delayed start date is a step in the right direction of acknowledging Arkansas is in no way ready to safely reopen our schools.  

The state’s guidance on outbreaks in our schools is acknowledgment that we are attempting to send students and educators into an unsafe situation. This danger is compounded by the states’ lack of coordinated guidance to districts as they attempt to plan amid constantly changing guidelines that have somehow become politicized.  

While some decisions may be more appropriately made at a local level, this virus does not know school district boundaries. There must be a detailed statewide plan that anticipates a number of scenarios to ensure student and school employee health and safety. 

We must at least ensure social distancing, rigorous cleaning and disinfecting standards, PPE, rapid testing and contact tracing, and access to internet and devices for all students. Educators are known for dipping into their own pockets to ensure students' needs are met, but they cannot be expected to cover the cost of this crisis. Students, educators, and their families need funding from policymakers to make safe school and campus reopening a reality.  

Unfortunately, in addition to shifting responsibility to districts, our state officials have also given these districts the ability to cut out teachers and support staff from the decision-making process through a series of statewide waivers.  

As the people who deal most closely with our kids' day in and day out, our educators must be included in any decisions about how we safely reopen our schools. 

Last month, the National Education Association released “All Hands on Deck: Initial Guidance Regarding Reopening School Buildings.” Built around four basic principles – health expertise, educator voice, access to protection, and leading with equity – the document lays out what schools need to do to prepare for reopening. 

We expect administrators, school boards, parents, medical experts, local community and business organizations will be able to work together to open schools as soon as possible, as safely as possible, but the state must take a more realistic position on when and how that will be possible.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: TAX DEADLINE IS UPON US
Says, ‘I want Arkansans to know their options’
LITTLE ROCK – Due to COVID-19, the delayed deadline to file state and federal taxes is quickly approaching. Arkansans who have not filed to pay their taxes still have until July 15. 

“This year, the date might have changed, but the responsibility remains – tax time has arrived,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Our communities have dealt with many difficult situations for a majority of the year when it comes to making ends meet and I want Arkansans to know their options and filing your taxes shouldn’t be a burden.”

Taxpayers have the ability to file and pay their taxes safely online through IRS.gov in order to avoid the backlog of mail that may have developed due to previous closures in response to the pandemic. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers taxpayers their Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA) system as a resource to learn more and answer frequently asked questions while filing taxes online.

Attorney General Rutledge has provided these tips for Arkansans still working on filing their federal and state taxes this year:

Taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline can request a filing extension to October 15, but this must be done by July 15. Then they must file Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software, or using the Free File link on IRS.gov.

Arkansas taxpayers who still owe 2019 income tax, as well as estimated tax for 2020, must make two separate payments on or before July 15, 2020; One for their 2019 income tax owed and one for their 2020 estimated tax payments.

Members of the military qualify for an additional extension of at least 180 days to file and pay taxes if either of the following situations apply: they serve in a combat zone, have qualifying service outside a combat zone, or they serve on deployment outside the United States away from their permanent duty station while participating in a contingency operation.

AARP Foundation Tax Aide program offers free assistance to Arkansas seniors filing their taxes online or by calling 888-OUR-AARP (888-687-2277).

Tax help is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week on IRS.gov.

Information for filing state taxes can be found online on dfa.arkansas.gov/income-tax or by calling (501) 682-1100

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or OAG@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
 

STATE POLICE REPORTS
CRACK DOWN ON SPEEDERS PART OF STATEWIDE TRAFFIC SAFETY BLITZ
“OBEY THE SIGN OR PAY THE FINE”
 (LITTLE ROCK) – Law enforcement officers across Arkansas are set to begin a week-long concerted speed enforcement plan next week.  The operation will be publicized across the state using a public message headline, “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine”.
 The intensified enforcement plan involving both state and local departments will begin Monday, July 13th and continue through the following Sunday, July 19th.  Additionally throughout the month of July, the Arkansas State Police will contribute patrol resources in a Regional Speed Enforcement Plan that targets speeding violators on particular selected days of the week.  The participating states include Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

“Speeding is synonymous with tragedy and death on our roadways,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “It’s a proven fact, higher speeds significantly reduce a driver’s reaction time and ability to steer safely around other vehicles, roadway hazards, and unexpected highway exits or detours in highway construction zones."

Drivers who ignore the speed limit put themselves, their passengers, and others at tremendous risk.  During calendar year 2018, speeding was a contributing factor in 26 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. and 9,378 people lost their lives in the crashes, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  In Arkansas 131 deaths were attributed to speed related crashes during 2018.
Already this year, Arkansas traffic fatalities are on the rise.  According to preliminary NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting data, fatalities in speeding related crashes are increasing at an alarming rate.  Through the end of June (2020) 84 people have died in speed related crashes, compared to 63 at the same time last year which equates to a 33 percent increase.

“Driving above the posted speed limit or speeding during inclement weather conditions dramatically increases the probability that a motorist will be involved in a crash,” Colonel Bryant said.  “State troopers want to be sure the highways are safe and stopping speeding drivers is a top priority.”

The goal of these enforcement efforts is to save lives and make drivers aware that no excuses for speeding are acceptable.  When it comes to speeding; Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.

More information on the “Obey the Sign, or Pay the Fine” mobilization can be found at www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  Additional information about Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths initiative to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities can be found at www.TZDarkansas.org.

STATE POLICE CID ASKED TO ASSIST HOWARD COUNTY DEPUTIES IN MURDER PROBE
JULY 10, 2020
The Arkansas State Police is searching for a murder suspect who is believed to have shot a killed a Howard County woman this morning.  The state police Criminal Investigation Division is coordinating the crime scene investigation while Highway Patrol ground and air troopers are among the law enforcement officers looking for a man wanted for questioning.
Howard County Sheriff’s Deputies discovered the body of Betty Renee Burgess, 50, inside a residence at 108 Highway 246 in Umpire shortly after 8:30 this morning.
Witnesses have told law enforcement officers they saw a Nashville (Howard County) man armed with a shotgun at the backdoor of the home before deputies later found Burgess dead.  Her body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where a manner and cause of death will be determined.
The suspect was last seen driving away from the residence in an orange or yellow color 2008 Ford Ranger displaying Arkansas license plate 200 UVJ.

STATE POLICE CID CALLED TO JOIN MULTI-JURISDICTION PROBE OF DREW COUNTY SHOOTING & HOMICIDE
JULY 10, 2020
A 64-year-old Dermott woman, Carolyn Hayes, was wounded earlier today outside 925 Skipper Bridge Road, in Dermott.  Her son, Johnny Hayes, 49, was shot and killed.
Dermott police received a telephone call about 12:22 AM reporting the shooting incident.  Only 45 minutes earlier a local police officer had been sent to the Skipper Bridge Road address to quell a disturbance that had arisen out of an argument involving Johnny Hayes and another person.
When police arrived at the residence a second time, Carolyn Hayes was seen walking in the front yard, but wounded.  Her son was laying in the yard, unresponsive and was later declared dead at an area hospital.  Johnny Hayes’ body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the manner and cause of his death will be determined.
State Police and local law enforcement officers and deputies have not made an arrest in the case.  The investigation is being handled jointly by the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division, Dermott Police Department, Drew County Sheriff’s Department and Chicot County Sheriff’s Department.

\
TWO ASP TROOPERS RECEIVE SERGEANT PROMOTIONS
Two Arkansas State Troopers were promoted today during a regularly scheduled meeting of the Arkansas State Police Commission.  The recommendations for promotion were approved by the commissioners after considering the recommendations from Colonel Bill Bryant, state police director.
Special Agent (Corporal) Randall Murphy, 49, of Woodruff County, was promoted to sergeant. He is a twelve-year veteran of the department.
Sergeant Murphy will assume supervisory duties within the department’s Criminal Investigation Division, Company A, headquartered at Little Rock.
Corporal Chad Staley, 49, of Hot Spring County, was also promoted to the rank of sergeant.  He will assume new duties as the Arkansas State Police Firearms Officer, headquartered at Little Rock.
Sergeant Staley is a twenty-two-year veteran of the department and most recently has been assigned to the ASP training division.

GRIFFIN THANKS U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR FOR LEADERSHIP; VISIT TO ARKANSAS
Says, AG Barr is a 'steady hand at the U.S. Department of Justice during these turbulent times'
 LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin today issued the following statement following United States Attorney General William Barr's visit to Arkansas:

 "I am thankful to U.S. Attorney General William Barr for visiting Arkansas and for his steady hand at the U.S. Department of Justice during these turbulent times. That leadership was apparent today in his discussions with Arkansans. I appreciate him for speaking out about important issues such as support for law enforcement and the threat posed by China's theft of intellectual property." 

ARDOT AWARDED $42.7 MILLION FOR COVID-19 RECOVERY
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for awarding $42.7 million to the Arkansas Department of Transportation in support of the state’s public transit systems.

The grant—totaling $42,742,893—comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law in March with the support of the Arkansas delegation. The funding will be used by ARDOT for state and project administration, including leave for employees due to the reductions in service or the need to quarantine; operating expenses to maintain transit services; and the purchase of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

“The CARES Act is continuing to deliver help to Arkansas. The transportation industry is facing economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus. These funds will help support the changing needs of transit agencies and ensure Arkansans can continue to use the vital services they provide,” members said.

 

THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE AND THE IRS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION REMIND TAXPAYERS OF UPCOMING TAX FILING DEADLINE; URGE TAXPAYERS TO REMAIN VIGILANT OF SCAMS.
Fort Smith, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation division reminded taxpayers of the July 15 filing and payment deadline and warned against an increase in tax and COVID-19 scams.

Due to COVID-19, the original filing deadline and tax payment due date for 2019 was postponed from April 15 to July 15. Taxpayers filing Form 1040 series returns must file Form 4868 by July 15 to obtain the automatic extension to Oct. 15.

As the filing deadline approaches, taxpayers should beware of tax and COVID-19 related scams.

“Criminals use the tax filing deadline as an opportunity to steal personal and financial information”, said Acting U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes for the Western District of Arkansas. “Taxpayers should remain vigilant and know that the IRS will not initiate contact with them via phone, email or social media to request personal or financial information.”

“Although the extension provides additional time to file the tax return – it is not an extension to pay any taxes due”, said Tamera Cantu, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-CI’s Dallas Field Office. “For people facing hardships who cannot pay in full, including those affected by COVID-19, the IRS has several options available to help. The IRS encourages taxpayers to visit IRS.gov as soon as possible to explore these options and avoid accruing interest and penalties after the July 15 deadline.”

In the last few months, the IRS Criminal Investigation division (CI) has continued to see a tremendous increase in a variety of Economic Impact Payment scams and other financial schemes. CI continues to work with its law enforcement partners to put a stop to these schemes and bring criminals to justice.

Taxpayers can report COVID-19 scams to the National Center for Disaster Fraud. Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Unsolicited (phishing) e-mails that appear to be from the IRS should be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov.

For the most up-to-date information about the tax filing deadline and IRS impersonation scams, taxpayers can visit IRS.gov.

COTTON APPLAUDS SUPREME COURT RULINGS ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has released the following statement on the Supreme Court's rulings in the Little Sisters of the Poor case and the Our Lady of Guadalupe case:
"The Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious communities have been hounded for years by activist lawyers and politicians who demand they sacrifice their beliefs on the altar of left-wing dogma. I welcome the Supreme Court's rulings to protect religious individuals, so they can live out their faith without being forced to violate their conscience. This inquisition must now end."

JULY 9, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JULY 09, 2020
At the Thursday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock, it was reported that there were 806 new cases statewide, increasing the overall total to 26,052. Active Positive cases increased to 5,751. Hospitalizations increased by 36 to 394. The death toll grew by four to 309. It was the 100th Press Conference conducted since the Pandemic began in mid-March.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 28 positive cases with 19 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 264 positive cases with 219 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 100 positive cases with 75 recovered and 4 deaths, Dallas County is showing 11 positive cases with 7 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 2 positive cases with 0 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Despite gloomy statistics in the daily report, Governor Asa Hutchinson was upbeat about the start of the school year with in-class education starting next month.

Governor Hutchinson did announce that the start of the school year will be delayed from August 13th to the week of August 24th in order to give school districts a little more time to prepare.

Governor Hutchinson and Secretary of Education, Johnny Key, unveiled three levels of response should a positive COVID-19 case occur in a school district. The three response levels are limited, moderate, and critical. The response levels will be released to the School Districts to use as a guide should a COVID-19 case occur in school. 

Again, there are now 26,052 total COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. That's an increase of 806 from Wednesday. There are 5,751 Active Positives. Hospitalizations increased by 36 to 394, and the number of deaths increased by four to 309. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

SIGNODE ANNOUNCES EXPANSION AT FORDYCE FACILITY, CREATES 31 NEW JOBS
FORDYCE, Ark. (JULY 9, 2020) – Signode Industrial Group LLC, a leading transit-packaging provider with more than 80 manufacturing facilities worldwide, will expand its operations in Fordyce, Arkansas, creating 31 new full-time jobs over the next 12 months, the company announced today.

“Signode’s confidence in Arkansas is a testament to how a skilled manufacturing workforce can influence companies seeking to move or expand, and we are pleased to partner with Signode in this endeavor,” Arkansas Secretary of Commerce and Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) Mike Preston said.

Signode manufactures transit packaging consumables, tools, software, and equipment that optimize end-of line packaging operations and protect products in transit. The company has operated in Arkansas for nearly 50 years and currently has a total of 218 full-time employees across its facilities in Benton, Sheridan, and Fordyce.

 “As we look to optimize our manufacturing footprint and operational efficiencies, our existing facilities and excellent workforce in Arkansas are well-suited to handle the growth and transformation we have planned for the future,” Signode’s Vice President of Supply Chain and Project Management Keith Kushner stated.  “Signode’s partnership with the AEDC and local communities over the years has been extremely positive and helped facilitate this decision.  We thank them for their ongoing support to help us grow our business.”

Along with its decision to expand at its Fordyce facility, the company also announced plans to re-purpose and grow its Sheridan operations as well. While products currently produced at Sheridan will move to Fordyce, additional product lines will move into the Sheridan plant over the next year to utilize its existing skilled workforce.  As part of this transition, each of the 23 employees currently working at the company’s Angleboard facility in Benton will have the opportunity to transfer to the Sheridan site.
 

ALEXANDER OFFICER SURRENDERS TO STATE POLICE SPECIAL AGENTS
JULY 9, 2020
Calvin Salyers, 33, of Alexander, an officer of the Alexander Police Department, surrendered to Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division yesterday (Wednesday, July 8th) and was formally served with an arrest warrant for Manslaughter (Class C felony).

Salyers was charged in connection with the June 3rd shooting death of Scott Hutton, also an Alexander police officer.  The incident occurred at 15458 Evergreen in Alexander

Salyers was taken before a Saline County judge who set bond at $15,000.

The Arkansas State Police was contacted by Alexander Police Department authorities soon after the shooting incident and requested special agents to conduct an investigation of an officer involved shooting.  Upon completion of the investigation, the case file was submitted to the prosecuting attorney who made the decision to criminally charge Salyers.

Original Release
June 04, 2020

The Arkansas State Police is investigating the death an Alexander Police Officer, Scott Hutton, 36, of Bryant.

Saline County Sheriff’s Deputies were sent to 15458 Evergreen in Alexander about 7:12 PM (Wednesday, June 3rd) where they found Hutton wounded by a gunshot and lying outside the residence.  Life saving measures were being administered to Hutton by an Alexander police officer.

Hutton was transported to a Little Rock hospital where physicians pronounced his death.
Two people who were at the residence at the time of the shooting have been questioned by state police special agents assigned to the department’s Criminal Investigation Division.  One of the individuals is an Alexander police officer.

Hutton’s body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the manner and cause of death will be determined.

The state police investigation is continuing and upon being completed will be presented to the prosecuting attorney of jurisdiction to determine whether any criminal charge should be filed or if the shooting was accidental.

Questions relating to the duty status of either officer at the time of the incident, or the administrative status of the surviving officer should be directed to the Alexander Police Department.

COVID-19 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS(FAQS): TESTING & ADH RESPONSE EFFORTS
What should I do if I’ve been exposed to COVID-19?

If you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you will need to get tested. If you are unsure where testingis available, you can find testing locations on the ADH website at: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/covid-19-guidance-for-getting-tested. Once you’ve been tested:

•If you have symptoms, isolate yourself at home until your test results come back.

•If you have a known exposure but no symptoms, self-quarantine at home until 14 days have passed since your exposure, even if your results come back negative.

If you have no known exposures or symptoms, you may resume normal activity while taking precautions like physical distancing, wearing a face covering when you go out, and frequent handwashing.

How is COVID-19 spread?
The virus is spread mainly from person-to-person between people within 6 feet of one other. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Some studies suggest that COVID-19 can be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

What does ADH do when a positive case is reported?
ADH staff conduct case investigations and contact tracing for confirmed positive cases of COVID-19.

What is a case investigation?
Case investigation is the identification and investigation of patients with confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19. Case investigation is followed by contract tracing.

What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is how public health officials track the spread of an infectious disease outbreak. When a patient is confirmed to have an illness, they isolate themselves to prevent further spread of that illness. Public health staff help those who have been infected recall where they have been and with whom they had close contact while they were infectious. Those “close contacts” are contacted by public health staff and asked to quarantine themselves to stop further spread of the illness.

What is a “close contact”?
Contact tracing focuses on close contacts while a positive patient was infectious. The infectious period begins 48 hours before the patient’s symptoms began. If the person with COVID-19 never developed symptoms, the infectious period begins the 48 hours before the positive test was collected. A person is considered a close contact if they have been within 6 feet of the patient for at least 15 minutes. If a person is thought to be a close contact, then a contact tracer will give them a call. If the exposure wasn’t within 6 feet, if it didn’t last 15 minutes or more, or if it occurred before the infectious period, that person would not be considered a close contact and will not receive a phone call from a contact tracer.

Where can I get help or more information?
ADH has activated a call center to answer questions from health care providers and the public about the coronavirus. During normal business hours (8:00am –4:30pm), urgent and non-urgent calls, please call 1-800-803-7847. You can also e-mail adh.coronavirus.com. Updates are also posted daily on the ADH website at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.



SAAC TEEN DRAMA CLUB TO STREAM VIDEO OF STAGE PRODUCTION
After months of darkness, the South Arkansas Arts Center stage welcomed actors once again this month, for the Teen Drama Club's production of "The Audition" by Don Zolidis. While the small group of actors gathered under social distancing guidelines due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the play will be presented in an exclusive two-day streaming opportunity on the SAAC website on July 10 and 11.

The ten-actor ensemble worked with director Lynn Gunter to produce the teen-appropriate take on the classic story of "A Chorus Line." The show follows eight high school students gather to audition for their high school play. Who will get a part? Who won't? Who will get the lead? Who is just there to get a boyfriend? Who cares only about themselves? Who needs this project so they can forget, for a moment, the life problems into which they are sinking? Can this group pull together a performance with so many things against them?

"As a theatre enthusiast, I've always loved the music and storyline of ‘A Chorus Line'," said Gunter. "For the audience, you relate to these very real, serious, humorous characters. If you allow yourself to put down your social media/gaming and truly engage in the content of this production, you might even find your life changed. I invite you not to just watch ‘The Audition,' but to experience it."

The group began gathering in June, following Arkansas Department of Health Guidelines to observe social-distancing protocols and wear masks when not appearing on stage. These young actors and their adult guides saw clearly that the opportunity to be part of a creative arts experience far outweighed the inconveniences required. These were characters they could really grasp and identify with, either from their own experiences or from experiences of other teens they know, enabling them to give performances that were richer and deeper than ever before.

"A painter can still paint in quarantine, but an actor needs an audience," said Gunter. "An actor's canvas is the stage. We are thankful that guidelines were created for the state of Arkansas to produce safe theatre in these times."
The cast is made up of some of the most talented young actors around, including Carmelo Brown, Maddy Couture, Kale Dugal, Hannah Elizabeth, Sarah Faith, Avery Hall, Mason Halstead, Ellis Lyles, Mary Claire Parker, and Maggie Phillips. Director Gunter was joined on the production team by Hannah Davis as assistant director and parents Cassie Hickman and Tracye Couture. The set was designed by April Hoover, and Jacob George provided lighting design.

The cast and crew worked together to video each scene, and the final product was edited by Mary Claire Parker. The recording will be available to view at www.saac-arts.org on Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11. The video is free to view, but SAAC asks that you consider donating the cost of a ticket to help support student art programs in South Arkansas.

For more information about "The Audition," please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.



BOOZMAN CALLS ON NATION'S TOP HEALTH AGENCIES TO MAKE EXPANDED TELEHEALTH SERVICES PERMANENT
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) continues his efforts to strengthen access to telehealth services, which have become even more necessary in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Boozman called on the agencies to provide a plan on permanent changes to Medicare telehealth rules. 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided HHS with the authority to waive telehealth requirements for the length of the COVID-19 public health crisis, making it possible for patients to continue receiving medical care without exposing themselves or providers to the coronavirus. Additionally, telehealth has provided a source of financial stability as providers had to delay non-emergency procedures. 

However, patients have expressed concern that Medicare’s temporary changes to telehealth rules will be rolled back without advance notice. 
“We appreciate your recognition that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more patients and providers see the value of telehealth. We believe telehealth is an important tool that enhances patient care and can provide efficiency in health care delivery,” the senators wrote in the letter. “While telehealth may not be able to replace all in-person care, we believe it should continue to be an option to meet individual care needs.  

The senators urged HHS and CMS to provide transparency and clarity for their plans on the future of telehealth.

The bipartisan letter was led by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and signed by more than 25 Senators.

You can read the letter below:

July 2, 2020
Dear Secretary Azar and Administrator Verma
We write to commend you for the steps you have taken to remove barriers to the broad-based delivery of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate your commitment to making these temporary telehealth flexibilities permanent—most recently with the proposed rule to permanently extend telehealth changes under the home health benefit—and  ask you to provide Congress with a written plan and timeline for permanent administrative changes to Medicare rules governing the provision of telehealth. We further request that you provide Congress with a list of telehealth changes that will require Congressional action.

Telehealth has been a lifeline to patients and providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. For patients, telehealth has provided continuity of care, allowing them to access care without exposing themselves or their providers to the risk of a COVID-19 infection. For providers, telehealth has maintained access to patients and provided an important source of financial stability, which is particularly important now as providers attempt to recover some of the financial losses associated with delaying non-emergency procedures and following stay at home orders. 

However, telehealth would not have been as critical of a lifeline during the pandemic without action from Congress in collaboration with the Administration. Congress, through coronavirus relief packages, provided HHS with the authority to waive telehealth requirements for the length of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  

Due to the combined effect of Congressional and administrative actions, health care providers and patients can now deliver and receive telehealth services in their own homes. Physicians can supervise staff remotely, more easily provide services across state lines, and see new patients—not just established patients—through a telehealth visit. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists can now provide telehealth services, and a longer list of mental health and addiction treatment services can be provided through telehealth. Patients and providers can use audio-only telephone telehealth to get care, and they don’t face the same limits on the number of services they can receive via telehealth.            

As you stated, it is hard to imagine rolling back these changes. However, we are hearing from patients and providers who are concerned about when Medicare’s temporary changes to telehealth rules will be rolled back and whether they will receive any advance notice. Patients are anxious about when private payers will change rates for telehealth services and if they will decide to rescind telehealth coverage all together. 

We appreciate your recognition that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more patients and providers see the value of telehealth. We believe telehealth is an important tool that enhances patient care and can provide efficiency in health care delivery. While telehealth may not be able to replace all in-person care, we believe it should continue to be an option to meet individual care needs. 

We therefore ask you to continue working with Congress to provide transparency and clarity for your plans for the future of telehealth. Specifically, we request that you:

Provide a written plan and timeline for making permanent the administrative changes—including the expansion of the definition of telecommunications systems—you have made to Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) rules governing the provision of telehealth under Section 1135 Waivers. This plan should include sufficient public notice and comment periods in order to ensure that these permanent changes are not at the expense of access for patients in rural or underserved communities, patient privacy, protections against fraud, waste, and abuse, or quality of patient care. 

Provide a timeline for if and when you intend to end enforcement discretion by the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for non-compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) so that health care providers and patients have a reasonable expectation as to when the use of everyday technologies may be discontinued. In addition, perform an analysis of the non-HIPAA compliant platforms used during the pandemic and report to Congress their impact on providers, consumers, and patient data security.  

Clarify whether you intend to extend existing in-office Medicare reimbursement parity to telehealth services provided by Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) for the duration of the pandemic or whether doing so would require Congressional action.  

Detail the list of permanent telehealth changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP rules that you can act on within your own authority and those that require Congressional action. 

Develop and issue guidance for private health plans to provide advance notice to their enrollees on future changes to coverage of telehealth services.

Lastly, we encourage the Administration to consider how permanent changes to telehealth policy can be part of broader movement, including a shift toward value-based care. We look forward to your response and urge you to continue working with Congress to expand access to telehealth during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and after we put the pandemic behind us. 

July 08, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JULY 08, 2020
Wednesday afternoon's Press Conference revealed an increase of 734 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas, increasing the total to 25,246. Active Positives increased to 5,545. Hospitalizations decreased by 11 to 358. The death toll increased by four to 305.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 25 positive cases with 19 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 256 positive cases with 219 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 90 positive cases with 68 recovered and 4 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 7 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 2 positive cases with 0 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Governor Asa Hutchinson says the continued uptick in COVID-19 cases is concerning. He says that data shows that much of the spread is coming from community gatherings.

Dr. Nate Smith, Secretary of the Department of Health, adds that it's difficult to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when someone infected brings it home.

Governor Hutchinson added that the state must stick with its strategy in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Chairman of the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, Steurt Walton, went over the findings of a recent phone survey of 600 Arkansans at Wednesday afternoon's Press Conference. Walton says the survey results will be posted online at www.arkansasready.com. He encouraged Arkansans to look over the results.

The Governor reported that Thursday's Press Conference will deal mainly with education and school-related issues. Again, 25,246 total COVID-19 cases in Arkansas represents an increase of 734. There are 5,545 Active Positives. Although hospitalizations decreased by 11 to 358, the number of fatalities due to COVID-19 increased by four to 305. We'll continue to keep you updated.

AAA PREPARES TO RESUME ACTIVITIES AND ATHLETICS IN THE FALL
The Arkansas Activities Association is preparing to resume activities and athletics this Fall in accordance with the regular AAA calendar. These preparations are contingent upon compliance with all directives as issued by the Governor's office and Department of Health.

In collaboration with the NFHS, AAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, Coach's and Official's Advisory Committees, and other affiliated activity committees, plans are being formulated to comply with all directives and safely return to participation.

All states contiguous to Arkansas have indicated they are making similar plans to begin as scheduled this Fall. Plans are also being discussed at all levels in regard to adjustments to the calendar if necessary.

LYNN RAMSAY COMMUNITY CENTER FUNDRAISER FOR VETERAN'S MEMORIAL
There will be a Fish Fry Cookout August 1, 2020 at the Lynn Ramsay Community Building in Holly Springs, AR. All monies raised go to the Veteran Dedication on November 7. Orders will be carry-out only. Plate include catfish, hushpuppies, fries, slaw, beans, dessert, and drink. Early call in is available until noon August 1st. Early call in orders will be ready to pick up between 4 and 5 p.m. Walk-in pick-up time will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. $10.00 per plate. Be sure to register your ticket for a drawing! Please call or text orders in early to Betty Gurnsey  at (870) 814-5334 or call in to Peggy Mahan at (870) 687-1138.

U.S. SENATOR TOM COTTON ENDORSES BEN GILMORE FOR STATE SENATE
“Arkansas conservatives need leaders like Ben in Little Rock.”
CROSSETT – Today, Republican Ben Gilmore received an endorsement from U.S. Senator Tom Cotton in his bid for State Senate District 26, which includes Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Drew, and portions of Cleveland, Desha, and Lincoln Counties.

“Ben Gilmore is the conservative leader that southeast Arkansas needs in the State Senate,” said Cotton. “He will fight for the unborn, protect our Second Amendment right, and stand up against the liberal mob that threatens our religious liberties. Arkansas conservatives need leaders like Ben in Little Rock, which is why I enthusiastically support him for State Senate in District 26.”

Gilmore issued the following statement:

“I am incredibly honored to receive the full support of Senator Cotton in my campaign for State Senate. Not only has Senator Cotton consistently and successfully stood against the liberal left’s socialist agenda in Washington, but he has fought tirelessly for our shared conservative values here at home.

“His endorsement adds even more momentum to my campaign as we march towards the fall with one thing in mind: victory in November.”

About Ben Gilmore
Ben Gilmore currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director for Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, where he has boldly advocated for state government reform, lower taxes, and STEM education. Ben previously served as a Field Representative for Congressman Bruce Westerman in the Fourth Congressional District, where he worked on important issues facing the forestry and agricultural industries in southeast Arkansas. While attending the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Ben worked at the Crossett Public Library where he served in the Public Relations role. While at the library, Ben advocated for reading and STEM education. Ben has actively served the community and supported economic development efforts in southeast Arkansas. Ben has served on the Crossett Chamber of Commerce Board, the Crossett Beautification Committee, the Crossett Committee for the Future, Ashley County United Fund Board, and currently serves on the Friends of the Library Board. Ben is a graduate of the Delta Regional Authority’s Leadership Institute, FBI Citizens Academy, and the Union County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class. Ben is a skilled violinist, a member of the First Baptist Church of Crossett and has served as Trustee of the Church. He is also a member of the Crossett Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association (NRA). 

 

PUBLIC BLOOD DRIVE SCHEDULED FOR JULY 16TH
Camden, Ar.- LifeShare Blood Center is having a community blood drive July 16th at the Camden Fire Station #3 on Highway 79 from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM, and at the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department off Highway 7 from 2:00PM until 6:00PM. They are offering free COVID-19 anitbody testing to every donor.

The Fire Department and the Sheriff’s Office are teaming up for LifeShare’s United We Give promotion for the month of July and will be hosting a Cuffs & Hoses drive at each location. The community is encouraged to unite with us on July 16th by donating live saving blood, and will receive an exclusively designed t-shirt for the event. Your antibody test results arrive via email after 1-2 weeks, so make sure your email is correct in the system upon initial screening. If you don’t have email, contact the Monroe center for your results, 318-322-4445.

About 1 in 7 people entering a hospital need blood. One blood donation, approximately one pint of blood, can save up to three lives. “Only 3% of the eligible population donate blood, so my main focus is spreading the awareness of how important it is to give blood regularly. You can donate every 56 days, which means you can donate about 6 times a year. After 20 years, you will have saved up to 360 lives! Additionally, LifeShare will let you know where your blood has been sent to, so that you can stay connected from start to finish. Your donation truly matters to us, and it makes a life changing difference, literally, to the person who receives it.” says Paige Wilson, Account Manager, LifeShare Blood Centers.

Help us control crowding by scheduling your appointment today:

Fire Department 9:00AM-1:00PM
https://donor.lifeshare.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/213363

Sheriff’s Office 2:00PM-6:00PM
https://donor.lifeshare.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/212927

LifeShare Blood Center regularly supplies blood components to more than 100 medical facilities throughout Louisiana, East Texas and South Arkansas. Founded in Shreveport, La. in 1942, it is a nonprofit community service provider governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees.  LifeShare is a member of America’s Blood Centers and the American Rare Donor Program, is licensed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and accredited by AABB.
 

THE HUB JULY NEWSLETTER
Hub and the Christian Health Center continue to operate by telephone or in-person at our door during COVID-19.

QUARANTINE RELIEF PROGRAM
The Hub is currently working on a new program to offer aid to patients that have COVID-19 and that do not have family or friends to help them. The Hub will deliver groceries and other personal items to the patient so the patient does not have to leave their house and possibly infect others in the community.

Several non-profits and churches in the area are working together to provide food during the summer for school children. Food is available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:00 to 1:00 at drive thru locations at New Starlight Baptist Church on Cash Road and Zion Hill Baptist Church on Maul Road. Food is also available at the community rooms at Ft. Lookout, Carver Courts, Ivory Heights and Lincoln Center. If you would like to help with this program, please send donations to The Hub or to First United Methodist Church with notation of Summer Feeding Program.

The Salvation Army will be set up in the Hub office once a month to offer bill payment assistance. Watch the Hub’s Facebook page for dates and more details.

The Getting Ahead classes have resumed by using Zoom. The participants and facilitators meet every Monday afternoon. Their graduation will be some time in August.

Genesis Cancer Center of Hot Springs has returned to the clinic every Thursday to offer chemotherapy and other needed infusions to local patients.

All donations made to The Hub and Christian Health Center stay in our community to help our neighbors.
MISSION STATEMENT

The Hub exists to facilitate solutions and/or services that meet needs in order to improve the quality of life for the socially and economically challenged in our county.

1115 Fairview Road, Camden, AR 71701
Phone 870-231-1111 Fax 870-231-9659
Email: hub@ouachitacounty.org
Website: http://www.hubofouachitacounty.org


ARKANSAS DELEGATION ENCOURAGES ARKANSANS TO PARTICIPATE IN CENSUS
Washington -- U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—are reminding Arkansans to fill out their census questionnaire.

 The census is a constitutionally mandated public survey conducted by the federal government every ten years. Any identifiable information collected by the census is protected by law and cannot be released to law enforcement or any other groups. The census provides valuable demographic information, and determines the number of representatives states receive in Congress as well as how many dollars in federal funding each community can receive.

“The 2020 U.S. Census determines Arkansas’s future for the next ten years, including how much federal funding can be delegated to communities for services like schools, medical clinics, and more. It’s of vital importance that Arkansans take the time to fill out their census, and we urge individuals to turn in the survey before the October 31st deadline,” members said.

 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Arkansas is currently 40th in the country for the number of homes that have responded to the 2020 Census.

 Individuals can fill out the survey on www.2020census.gov or request a paper census at 844-330-2020.
 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, July 9th at  Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Paul Lindsey. He will be talking about The Beginning and Building of the Statue of Liberty.

 

JULY 7, 2020

RUTLEDGE APPLAUDS SCOTUS DECISION UPHOLDING PROTECTIONS FOR CONSUMERS RECEIVING ROBOCALLS
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 which prohibits robocalls to cell phones. The Court also ruled that an exception in the TCPA that exclusively allowed robocalls from federal government debt collectors was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.

"The Supreme Court wisely ruled to protect consumers by upholding federal robocalls protections for Americans.", said Attorney General Rutledge. "Arkansans are fed up with these annoying calls and through my work with the legislature and the Federal Communication Commission, this decision brings us one step closer to permanently hanging up on robocalls."

 

JULY 6, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JULY 06, 2020
At the Monday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the total number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas had increased by 439 to 24,253. However, the number of recoveries increased by 701, meaning that the number of Active Positive cases had decreased to 6,127. Hospitalizations increased by 12 to 337. The death toll climbed by five to 292.
At this time Ouachita County is showing 21 positive cases with 18 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 252 positive cases with 216 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 90 positive cases with 44 recovered and 4 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 6 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 2 positive cases with 0 recoveries and 0 deaths. The Health Department Website reported in 21 cases in Ouachita County, however the number has been reduced to 20 positives. One case moved to another county but are not sure where. These numbers will be updated later today.

Governor Hutchinson announced that he had increased the goal for the number of tests in the month of July from 180,000 to 200,000. With over 30,000 already tested this month, the state is well on its way to achieving the new testing goal. 

The 320 in-house contact tracers currently are not enough. Governor Hutchinson announced that he has entered into a couple of $20 million transactions to bring in 350 additional contact tracers now, and 350 more later.

Stephanie Williams, Chief of Staff at the Arkansas Department of Health, passed along some tips to Arkansans to make the contact tracing process go quicker and easier. She stated that a number of calls don’t get answered so they have to call again. She gave the number that the calls are being made from hoping that more people will answer the call.

That number  that contact tracers will be calling from is 877-272-6819. There are also bi-lingual contact tracers available who speak Spanish and Marshallese. 

 Governor Hutchinson encouraged the people of Arkansas to take responsibility themselves and continue to work together to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Again, the total COVID-19 cases in Arkansas increased by 439 to 24,253. Recoveries increased by 701 however, making the number of Active Positive cases decrease to 6,127. The death toll due to COVID-19 increased by five to 292. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

BOOZMAN, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO ALLOW RURAL ELECTRIC CO-OPS, TELECOM PROVIDERS TO REFINANCE RURAL UTILITY SERVICE DEBT
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Flexible Financing for Rural America Act, legislation that would allow electric cooperatives and small, rural telecommunications providers to refinance their Rural Utilities Service (RUS) debt at lower interest rates.

By taking advantage of current lower interest rates, rural cooperatives and businesses would gain flexibility in managing their cash flow, allowing them to invest in rural communities and pass savings on to customers. At the same time, the bill would enable a stronger recovery from the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rural cooperatives and businesses have struggled throughout the pandemic as a result of a decline in electricity consumption from industrial sources and an increase in unpaid bills from customers who have faced financial hardship.

“Connectivity has long been a struggle for Americans who live in rural areas. COVID-19 has only made that challenge even more difficult to overcome. This bill gives rural electricity and broadband providers flexibility to meet customers’ needs in these challenging economic times and ensures that rural America will have these vital services to recover and grow when the pandemic is behind us,” Boozman said. 

Under current law, the RUS charges significant penalties when borrowers refinance their loans—an option which is allowed only under narrow circumstances. Rural electric cooperatives currently hold approximately $43 billion in RUS Electric Loans, and small, rural broadband providers hold about $3 billion in RUS Telecom Loans. The savings from the senators’ legislation would amount to approximately $2 million per year for the average rural electric cooperative, helping to sustain the organizations through current economic challenges and empowering greater investment in local communities.

“This has been a challenging time for Arkansas’s electric cooperatives. Our priorities during this COVID-19 crisis have been the safety and well-being of our members and employees, and maintaining the delivery of affordable and reliable power,” said Kirkley Thomas, Vice President of Governmental Affairs at Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. “The economic devastation caused by this pandemic has resulted in significant financial hardships for our rural members as we have seen jobs lost and businesses cease or curtail operations. We applaud Senator Boozman for leading this legislative effort that will save rural Arkansas co-ops millions of dollars as we strive to provide the best possible service to our members.”

 The bill was introduced on Thursday by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND). In addition to Boozman, it is cosponsored by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Representatives Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) introduced identical legislation in the House of Representatives.

COVID UPDATE – SUNDAY JULY 05, 2020
As of Sunday afternoon, there are now a total of 23,814 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. That's an increase of 605 from Saturday. The Active Positives increased by 198 to 6,323. The death toll due to the coronavirus grew by one to 287 in Arkansas. 
At this time Ouachita County is showing 21 positive cases with 18 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 252 positive cases with 216 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 90 positive cases with 44 recovered and 4 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 6 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 2 positive cases with 0 recoveries and 0 deaths. The Health Department Website reported in 21 cases in Ouachita County, however the number has been reduced to 20 positives. One case moved to another county but are not sure where. These numbers will be updated later today.

In the most recent COVID-19 press conference on Friday afternoon in Little Rock, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that he was issuing an Executive Order allowing Arkansas cities to adopt limited requirements for people to wear masks in public places. According to the model ordinance drafted by the Arkansas Municipal League, cities can require the use of face coverings according to the State Department of Health guidelines. The order allows law enforcement and city officials that adopt a requirement to educate and encourage members of the public about the importance of wearing such coverings. Police in those cities can also assist businesses that want to require masks on their premises. The model ordinance doesn't include a penalty for not wearing a mask. Governor Hutchinson emphasized that this is a local option for cities to give them more flexibility if they have a community in which they might have a surge in cases.

Arkansas Municipal League attorney John Wilkerson explained the model ordinance at Friday afternoon's COVID-19 Press Conference. Wilkerson said a customer, who refuses to abide by a business's mask requirement and won't leave, could be arrested for trespassing.

Again, the latest COVID-19 statistics in Arkansas as of Sunday afternoon, the total number of cases increased by 605 to 23,814. The number of Active Positive cases increased by 198 to 6,323. The death toll due to COVID-19 increased by one to 287. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.
 

CADC ANNOUNCES 2020 SUMMER LIHEAP UTILITY ASSISTANCE START DATE
Benton, AR - JULY 2020 - Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) announced today the 2020 Summer LIHEAP Utility Assistance program will begin the week of Monday, July 13, 2020, and continue as long as funds are available. Both Regular and Crisis assistance will be available.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps keep families safe and healthy through initiatives that assist families with energy costs. We provide federally funded assistance in managing costs associated with home energy bills and energy crises.

LIHEAP can help you stay cool in the summer through programs that reduce the risk of health and safety problems that arise from unsafe cooling practices.

CADC operates the LIHEAP program in the following counties in Arkansas:
Calhoun, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Pulaski, Saline, Sevier and Union.

In adherence with CDC and State of Arkansas Covid-19 guidelines; and to enforce social distancing , only the applicant will be allowed to enter the facility. Additional family members and or friends must remain in vehicle or outside of facility. All applicants must agree to submit to screening before being allowed to enter. If the applicant does not agree to screening or fails the screening, they will not be allowed to enter. All applicants must wear a mask at all times while in line and in the facility. Due to restrictions on the number of people allowed in the facility at a time, applicants should prepare for longer than usual wait times.

For more information about CADC’s Utility Assistance Program visit:
https://www.cadc.com/utility-assistance.

CADC is a non-profit Community Action Agency, an equal opportunity employer and a United Way Agency. The mission of CADC is to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty, to help vulnerable populations achieve their potential and to build strong communities in Arkansas through community action.

NINETEEN COUNTY REAPPRAISALS MUST PROCEED
Reappraisals will occur this year regardless of the pandemic, the state has informed the assessors in 19 counties due for reappraisal this year.

The list of 19 counties includes Ouachita County and Calhoun County.

A reappraisal done this year will be based on 2019 fair market values for properties.

Many county tax assessors had argued that an increase in taxes will come as a blow to businesses and homeowners while many are suffering from the economic effects of COVID-19. The assessors had asked the state Assessment Coordination Division in May whether the reappraisal could be delayed a year to allow the coronavirus pandemic’s expected effect on property values to show up in the reappraisal. The Division said in an initial response letter that the law allows no exceptions. The Division stated that it would conduct the reappraisals if the county assessors refused to do so.

Appraised value is the total estimated value of a piece of property. Twenty percent of that value is used to calculate the taxes due. The millage rate of tax for the property is then applied to that assessed value. The millage tax rate varies by location and school district.

Property taxes in Arkansas largely go to schools.

SOME ARKANSAS CITIES SEE INCOME CLIMBS DESPITE VIRUS
Several Arkansas cities saw economic prosperity in April, a month in which travel was restricted and many businesses closed because of COVID-19.

The Arkansas Municipal League says that sales tax collections have been closely monitored during the pandemic. The majority of some 500 cities and towns in Arkansas have a city sales tax. The numbers reflected in the Municipal League report reflect only citywide sales tax revenues, and do not include any advertising and promotion taxes.

Camden saw a 14% increase in city sales tax collections in April 2020, compared to April 2019. Sales tax revenues in Camden in April 2020 generated $340,043, compared to $298,978 in April 2019.

The Municipal League and several Mayors around the state attribute some of the April increase to people buying online. Mayors had been anxiously awaiting the April numbers. Governor Asa Hutchinson implemented some travel and business restrictions in late March, but April provides a better picture of economic activity during the pandemic because restrictions were in place for the entire month.

The April economy was also helped out by the $1,200 federal stimulus checks and even more so by the $600 per week provided to unemployed people through the CARES Act. The increased unemployment benefits are set to expire on July 31st.

 A breakdown of Arkansas spending changes by category from January through June revealed these fluctuations: Apparel and general merchandise increased 20%, and groceries increased 13.8%. Transportation declined 53.3%. Entertainment declined 44.4%. Restaurants declined 23.3%.
 

JULY IS MILITARY CONSUMER PROTECTION MONTH
Rutledge to offer free identity theft webcasts for veterans

LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists will use every trick in the book to take advantage of Americans and no one is immune, even our military service members. July is Military Consumer Month and aims to educate military families about potential deceptive practices that specifically target these families and their unique circumstances. In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 3.2 million reports nationwide, with nearly 650,000 of those complaints categorized as imposter scams.

“It is shocking that there are people in this world that will take advantage of our service members and veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “With such a large military population living in Arkansas, we must use every resource to educate and protect our service members, veterans and their families from experiencing fraud at the hands of con artists.”

Rutledge is offering free webcasts that can assist veterans with consumer protection and how to avoid common scams and identity theft, Wednesday, July 15 and Wednesday, July 29.

In 2015, Rutledge launched the Military and Veterans Initiative at the Attorney General’s Office to assist active duty military, reservists and veterans with consumer-related issues, veterans courts, the Hiring Heroes program and many other collaborative efforts.

Attorney General Rutledge shared the following list from the Federal Trade Commission of the most common complaints filed by service members in Arkansas in 2020 to present day.
Identity Theft – 2,210 complaints filed
Credit Bureaus, Info Furnishers and Report Users – 1,016 complaints filed
Imposter Scams – 458 complaints filed
Telephone and Mobile Services – 365 complaints filed
Online Shopping and Negative Reviews – 260 complaints filed
Banks and Lenders – 238 complaints filed
Debt Collection – 233 complaints filed
Auto Related – 153 complaints filed
Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries – 138 complaints filed
Internet Services – 127 complaints filed

Military Consumer Month is a partnership between the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Defense and other state and local organizations.

Arkansas military service members, veterans and families should file complaints with the Attorney General’s Office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982

July 03, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JULY 03, 2020
At the Friday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that he was issuing an Executive Order that gives Arkansas cities the local option of requiring the wearing of masks in public. Governor Hutchinson says the model ordinance for cities to consider was prepared by the Arkansas Municipal League.

Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by announcing that he had singed an Executive Order giving cities in Arkansas the authority to adopt an ordinance requiring wearing of masks, and that the Arkansas Municipal League had prepared a model. According to AML General Counsel John Wilkerson, there is is no "enforcement mechanism" by design.
These numbers will be updated later today. The death reported earlier in Polk County has been removed by the ADH.

The Governor shared results of a poll suggesting that 82% of Arkansans are using masks, 16% are not, and 2% either don't know or don't remember.

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith gave the following report of numbers:
547 new cases (182 in prisons, 365 in the community)
22,622 cumulative
6,177 active cases (156 in nursing homes, 671 in prisons, 5,350 in the community).
13 new hospitalizations
285 currently hospitalized
70 on ventilators
2 new deaths
281 deaths total
16,164 recoveries (up 466 from yesterday).

Dr. Smith shared that there are five times as many cases going into the Independence Day weekend as there were going into Memorial Day and emphasized the need for use of masks, social distancing and other safety measures.

Of the 547 new cases, 84 were in Washington County, 74 in Benton County, and 74 in Pulaski County. All other counties had less than 20 new cases.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 20 positive cases with 18 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 250 positive cases with 211 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 84 positive cases with 32 recovered and 4 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is showing 1 positive case with 0 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,772,395 cumulative cases, 781,970 recoveries, and 129,150 deaths.
Globally 10,951,467 cumulative cases, 5,797,522 recoveries, and 523,100 deaths.

More data is available on the ADA site. (Link below.)
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

To watch the video of today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/nwXNP9071VI

 

BLACKMON DEAD; APPARENT SUICIDE TEXAS AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATING
JULY 2, 2020
Texas law enforcement authorities notified Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division shortly after 6 PM last night that Lavern Blackmon of Conway (Arkansas) is dead.  Preliminarily authorities in Conroe, Texas believe Blackmon died from a self-inflected gunshot wound.

Conroe, Texas is approximately 40 miles north of Houston.
 

GRIFFIN CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE DAY AND HONORS THOSE WHO DEFEND OUR FREEDOM
Says, 'Independence Day serves as a reminder of how fragile and precious freedom is, and it is an opportunity for us to honor the Founders and patriots who established this great nation as well as those who defend it'
LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin today issued the following statement to commemorate Independence Day:

"Like all Arkansans on Independence day, I look forward to spending time with my friends and family as we celebrate this great country. Independence Day serves as a reminder of how fragile and precious freedom is, and it is an opportunity for us to honor the Founders and patriots who established this great nation as well as those who defend it today. May God continue to bless this great nation, and I wish all Arkansans a happy and safe Independence Day."


JULY 6-9 ONLINE AT SAAC: VARIATIONS BALLET CAMP WITH CAMI LOWREY AND ELIZABETH WOOD
The South Arkansas Arts Center's Virtual Summer Camp will continue July 6-9 with Variations ballet camp from SAAC instructors Cami Lowrey and Elizabeth Wood. Their video-based camp for older ballet students will focus on a series of solos within a ballet, often performed by leading or secondary roles, called variations. free Virtual Summer Camp, which can be accessed via computer, tablet, or smartphone. Each week, an additional instructor's video lessons will be added to the library, available at SAAC's website at www.saac-arts.org. Lessons can be completed on your own schedule, and at your own pace.

During Variations ballet camp, the participants get to jump into those lead roles, right in the spotlight of their own home, and learn some of the most popular variations from timeless ballets such as the Nutcracker, Cinderella and Swan Lake. These variations range in skill level from intermediate to advanced, but dancers both young and old (and even Mom!) are encouraged to join in and learn something new.

"Some variations will be easier than others, but all will be challenging," said Elizabeth. "For our younger dancers, if you missed Ballet Camp Jr., be sure to go back and check it out!"

Elizabeth, who studied and taught ballet at Theatre School of Dance in Bossier City, Louisiana, is a physical therapy assistant at South Arkansas Orthopaedics and a Pilates instructor at Healthworks Fitness Center, in addition to teaching ballet as part of SAAC's after-school programming. College student Cami began as a student in SAAC's ballet program as a first grader, and has been dancing ever since, becoming a soloist, choreographer, and teacher in her own right.

In addition to learning two variations each day, participants will begin with a ballet barre to improve technique and warm up. The chosen variations will not only be a fun challenge to learn the steps, but also a chance to improve the artistic expression within every dancer. Cami and Elizabeth are very excited to present the Variations ballet camp, and they invite you to join in on this great experience that will improve both ballet knowledge and skill. 
"Grab some ballet slippers or socks, and join us in your home for ballet camp," said Cami.

Visit the website at www.saac-arts.org to access the summer camp videos or register a student. By registering, SAAC will be able to keep you informed of new camp announcements and program updates. Best of all, students can enjoy summer camp at any time, choosing to complete the lessons day by day, week by week, or save them up to complete all at once. Each instructor will include a supply list of materials and all the information needed to complete the projects in their videos.

For more information about Virtual Summer camp, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES INTENT TO GRANT EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced his intent to grant 10 pardons and one commutation. An additional 35 clemency requests were denied and two had no action taken upon them. These include requests from both inmates and non-inmates.

The applicants intended for pardons have completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole and probationary requirements and paid all fines related to their sentences. There is a 30-day waiting period to receive public feedback on the notices before final action is taken.

Governor Hutchinson intends to grant pardons to the following people:
Dale A. Beason (Las Vegas, NV): Theft of Property over $200 (C Felony) (CR 89-14), Residential Burglary (B Felony) and Theft of Property (C Felony) (CR 89-54), and Theft by Receiving (C Felony) and Felon in Possession of a Firearm (D Felony)(CR 92-171-1).
This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (1989 - Garland County, 1989 - Hot Spring County, and 1992 - Hot Spring County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Katie M. Bostian (Hot Springs): Failure to Appear (C Felony) (CR 2004-26) and Failure To Appear (Revocation) (C Felony) (CR 2004-26).
This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (2005 - Pope County and 2006 - Pope County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Angela Dunn (Magnolia): Filing False Police Report (D Felony)(CR 2001-14) This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2001 - Columbia County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Martha I. Eads Sells (Stuttgart): Possession of Methamphetamine (Sch. II) W/Intent to Deliver (Y Felony) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony) (CR 2005-00059).  This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2006 – Arkansas County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Gerald H. Funkhouse, Jr. (Fayetteville): Theft by Receiving (C Felony) (CR-98-450). This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (1998 - Sebastian County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Sandra R. Liles (Batesville): Theft Of Property (C Felony) (CR-97-15). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1998 - Izard County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Eddie J. Stratton (El Dorado): Battery (Felony)(CR 83-1). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1983 - Calhoun County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Charles A. Morman (Godfrey, IL): Possession Of a Handgun by a Minor (D Felony)(CR 97-448-2), Theft by Receiving (B Felony) (CR-97-448-2), Residential Burglary (B Felony) (CR 97-523-2), Theft of Property (B Felony) (CR 97-523-2), Theft of Property (C Felony) (CR 97-523-2), and Theft of Property (C Felony) (CR 97-525-2). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1997 – Jefferson County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Kenneth E. Williams (North Little Rock): Theft of Property by Deception (Revocation (Felony)(CR 79-1549), Forgery 2nd degree 5 counts (Felony)(CR 80-1999), Forgery 5 counts (Felony)(CR 80-1838), Delivery of a Controlled Substance, 2 Counts (Y Felony) (CR 90-1505), Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent (Y Felony) (CR 91-1542). This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (1981 - Pulaski County and 1992 - Pulaski County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Timothy D. Withers (Hot Springs): Theft of Property (C Felony)(CR 94-133) and Theft of Property 2 counts (B Felony)(CR 94-65-1). This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (1994 - Washington County and 1995 - Benton County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Governor Hutchinson intends to grant a commutation of sentence to the following people:
Rogelio Reyes (ADC #094046): Possession of Cocaine w/Intent to Deliver (Y Felony) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony) (1995-342) (Jury Trial).The Governor  has given notice of his intent to commute the sentence of Rogelio Reyes, who was convicted in Sebastian County in 1996 for the above offenses, from a total Life and 360 months  in the Department of Correction to making him immediately parole eligible. The Prosecuting Attorney has raised objections to applicant's request.

 

JULY 2, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON'S PRESS CONFERENCE – JULY 02, 2020
As of 1:30 p.m. there were 22,075 COVID-19 cumulative cases. There have been 279 deaths in Arkansas. There are currently 6,098 active cases. There have been 15,698 recoveries.
At this time Ouachita County is showing 20 positive cases with 18 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 249 positive cases with 208 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 84 positive cases with 30 recovered and 4 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. These numbers will be updated later today..

Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by announcing that Secretary of State John Thurston has interpreted the absentee voting law to include anyone concerned about their health and COVID-19 by voting at a polling location in the upcoming General Election. Registered voters may request an absentee ballot by contacting their County Clerk's office or at SOS.ARKANSAS.GOV under the ">SOS.ARKANSAS.GOV under the "elections" tab. Secretary Thurston noted that absentee voting is not the same as mail-out ballots. Democratic Party Chairman Michael John Gray and Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb gave their endorsement for this plan.
Absentee ballots must be applied for by mail or fax by October 27th or in person by November 2nd, and received by 7:30 PM November 3rd, Election Day.

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith gave the following report of numbers:
878 new cases
22,075 cumulative cases
3 new hospitalizations
272 total hospitalized
2 new deaths
279 total deaths
7,089 tests yesterday (goal is 180,000 in July)
69 on ventilators
15,698 recoveries (up 535 from yesterday).

Of the 420 new cases, 151 were in Hot Spring County, 117 in Washington County, 98 in Pulaski County, 75 in Benton County, 55 in Sebastian County, 35 in Faulkner County, and 23 in Crawford County. All other counties had less than 20 new cases.

As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,715,124 cumulative cases, 729,994 recoveries, and 128,439 deaths.

Globally 10,763,604 cumulative cases, 5,522,094 recoveries, and 517,667 deaths.

More data is available on the ADA site. (Link below.)
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

To watch the video of today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/WLAgaptRYFo

 

OUACHITA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE INDEPENDENCE DAY PRESS RELEASE
The Independence Day Holiday weekend is a big holiday for travel, water activities and celebrations. Many of us will have a long week-end to enjoy. We spoke with the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office who said that they are expecting the river to be a popular spot this weekend. All boaters are reminded that if you are drinking, there should always be a designated captain in the boat. The same penalties apply to drunk drivers on the water as they do to motorists. Always have a life preserver for everyone in the boat. If you are traveling, be sure someone knows your estimated time of arrival at your destination as well as the route you will be taking. Always carry a cell phone whether on the water or the road in case you find yourself in need of assistance. The Sheriff’s Office will be out on patrol all week on the river and on the county roadways. Check points will be set up throughout the county. Always be sure to follow all traffic laws and if alcohol is involved in your celebration – have a designated driver. If you need assistance call 231-5300 or dial 911 for any emergency that might arise. The entire Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office wish you all a safe and happy Independence Day Holiday.

20TH ANNUAL STAR SPANGLED SPECTACULAR AT THE CAMDEN AIRPORT IN CAMDEN, AR
Rules for Safety During the Show
Join us at the Camden Municipal Airport on Saturday, July 4th for the 20th annual Star Spangled Spectacular. Enjoy the evening with great musical acts ending with the largest professional fireworks Display in South Arkansas.

This year’s event is brought to you by Title Sponsor Aerojet Rocketdyne, Camden & Ouachita County Ministerial Alliance, Camden A & P Commission and local business and industry.

The evening will start with local talent from the McKelvin Brothers kicking off at 6:30PM, they will be joined at 7PM by Shanna Dorey for the singing of the National Anthem, followed by The Voice contestant L. B. Crew ending the evening the headliner, America’s Got Talent winner Kris Allen. There will be special parking and recognizing of local veterans (past and those presently serving).

COVID-19 guidelines will bring some changes to this year’s event. Due to guidelines this year’s show will not have inflatables for the kids or concessions. Event attendees are encouraged to bring your own drinks and snacks. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets to sit by your vehicles as you enjoy this year’s event.

Please be aware of the following rules to follow for the Star Spangled Spectacular.
Spectators may sit outside their vehicles, however you must stay in the area of your vehicles.  No sitting in groups in the field.

Anyone who must use porta potties will need to wear a mask from the time they leave their vehicle area until they return.

All social distancing guidelines must be utilized during the entire time.

If you have had a fever, cough, or exposed to anyone testing positive for COVID-19, do not enter the field.  You may choose to park along one of the side roads or lots and tune in to listen.

Also, please be respectful and place all litter in trash bins or take home for disposal.  We are very thankful for AR Dept of Health for approving our fireworks, so we want to make sure we respect

All guidelines that they have ask from us.  It is our desire to provide a safe environment to allow our citizens to enjoy the fireworks and music on the evening of the 4th of July.
This year will bring a larger professional fireworks display for your enjoyment. Come on out to the Camden Municipal Airport to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment.

This year will bring a larger professional fireworks display for your enjoyment. Come on out to the Camden Municipal Airport to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment. The entire evening will be aired live on KCXY, Y95.3 FM so that you can listen to all the happenings on your car radio or Andriod or IPhone App. 

Brought to you by Title Sponsor Aerojet Rocketdyne, Camden A&P Commission and local business and industries.
Contact:
Charlotte Young
Call or Text: 870-807-1468
charlotte@jcproductions.tv
explorecamden.com

 


KEEP YOUR FREEDOM THIS INDEPENDENCE HOLIDAY: STAY OUT OF JAIL – DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER
(LITTLE ROCK) – As Arkansans prepare for the approaching July 4th Independence Day holiday weekend, many families will include plans to travel across the state for cookouts and the customary summer festivities.  However, experience and records tell us, some drivers and their passengers won’t make it to their destinations or return home.  Drunk or impaired driving will be to blame.

Arkansas law enforcement officers will be participating in the statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” operation.  The mission will be devoted to stopping drunk drivers before tragedy strikes.   State police, along with city officers and county deputies across Arkansas will increase their patrols along the roads and highways with zero tolerance for those who drive impaired.  Motorists should expect to see more sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols involving a unified police force working to keep the roadways safe.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving accounted for 29% (10,511) of the total motor vehicle traffic deaths during 2018. Additionally, drunk driving can be attributed to 40% (78) of the 193 traffic fatalities over the July 4th (2018) holiday period.

“Making the choice to drink and drive can be deadly.  It’s irresponsible behavior, and we will be out in full force to put a stop to it,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Make no mistake, if you’re caught drinking and driving, you will be arrested.”

If travelers plan to consume alcohol, the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office offers these reminders.
•   Plan a safe way home before you leave. It’s never okay to drink and drive, even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage.
Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely.
•   If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to drive you home.
•   If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.
•   If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help make other arrangements to get the person safely to their destination.
•   Always buckle up.  Your seat belt is the best defense against a drunk driver.

For more information on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  Information about Arkansas’ ongoing “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign to eliminate preventable traffic deaths can be found at www.TZDarkansas.org.  

 

DESHA COUNTY SUSPECT ON THE RUN; BLACKMON WANTED IN MURDER OF EX-WIFE JULY 2, 2020
Arkansas State Police and law enforcement agencies across the state and region are following new investigative leads in the search for a murder suspect who is believed to be armed and dangerous.

Lavern Blackmon, 57, of Conway was last seen in Little Rock on Monday (June 29th) after he reportedly kidnapped his ex-wife, Viola Davis, about 5:30 AM as she left her home in Mitchellville (Desha County) going to work.  Her body was found a short time later along Kirtley Road, northeast of Dumas.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are using every resource to locate Blackmon who is believed to be driving a 2008 Grey Chevrolet Avalanche truck.  Blackmon may have possibly fled the state.

Blackmon is believed to be in the possession of at least two handguns and may possibly pose a threat to others.  He is currently charged in Desha County with Kidnapping and Capital Murder.

The general public should not try to intervene or approach Blackmon if he is sighted.  Instead, please immediately contact the nearest law enforcement agency.  Anyone with knowledge of Blackmon’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Arkansas State Police.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: IMPOSTORS ARE WORKING HARD TO AVOID WORK BY STEALING ARKANSANS’ UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
LITTLE ROCK – States have had to adapt quickly to the keep their residents safe from COVID-19 and worked hard to ensure economic resources are easily available. In recent weeks, the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office has received complaints from Arkansans receiving notices that they had applied for unemployment benefits when they had not in fact applied for benefits. In other cases, consumers have received the unemployment funds and are then contacted by the scam artist claiming that a mistake has occurred and asking the consumer to forward the proceeds to them.

“My office has received over 100 complaints from Arkansans who have had their personal information used to fraudulently apply for unemployment by scam artists,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We have been working with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services and financial institutions in order to assist consumers in stopping unlawful payments and preventing additional identity theft.”

The unemployment application process is typically an in-person application process, but the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing has created a new online procedure that requires only a name, date of birth, social security number, and employer verification. This abbreviated procedure, while safer and more simple for applicants, has also meant that scam artists who have fraudulently obtained this personal information on consumers from prior data breaches and identity theft can apply for unemployment benefits on unwary consumers’ behalves.

Attorney General Rutledge advises consumers who suspect that their identity has been used to apply for unemployment benefits should immediately:
File a police report and then contact the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services’ fraud hotline at 501-682-1058. 
Report the fraud to your employer.
Obtain new copies of their credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies (i.e., Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) to confirm that no additional lines of credit have been opened in his or her name and consider requesting a fraud alert or a security freeze in order to prevent additional fraudulent activity.

If a victim of financial identity theft, apply for an identity theft passport with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office by submitting a copy of a police report and other relevant information.  Identity theft passports are designed to assist consumers in proving their true identities.

Consumers are advised that if you receive funds that you did not apply for and that you were not expecting, do not accept them.  Instead, report the matter to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services at 501-682-1058 and to local law enforcement.  Even if you did not request the funds, accepting such funds as part of an unemployment scam is unlawful.

If you believe you have experienced identity theft or have been scammed, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

GLENWOOD MAN SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR BEING A FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Jacob Anzaldua, age 39, of Glenwood, Arkansas, was sentenced today to 180 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for one count of being a Felon In Possession of a Firearm. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

On or about May 4, 2018, around 3:00 a.m., Anzaldua broke into the John Pylar's Home Center located in Glenwood, Arkansas. Anzaldua was captured on surveillance footage and was observed operating a distinct 1998 Ford pick-up truck. On or about May 5, 2018, around 9:00 p.m., a Special Agent with the ASP observed the distinct 1998 Ford pick-up truck, operated by Anzaldua and attempted to stop it. Anzaldua failed to stop the vehicle and fled from the officer. Ultimately, Anzaldua's vehicle underwent a mechanical failure and came to a stop. Anzaldua was placed under arrest and his vehicle was searched. The search resulted in officers locating a loaded defaced handgun behind the center console.

Anzaldua was indicted by a federal grand jury in August 2019, and entered a guilty plea in October of 2019.

This case was prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justices Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, which is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of firearms and improving the safety of residents in the Western District of Arkansas.  Participants in the initiative include federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

This case was investigated by the Arkansas State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Fire, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF). Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn and Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) Trent Daniels prosecuted the case for the United States.
 

STATE CALL CENTER WILL BE CLOSED ON FRIDAY, JULY 3
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— The Individual Assistance Hotline to apply for State Disaster Assistance will be CLOSED on Friday, July 3 in observance of the 4th of July Holiday.  The call center will re-open on Monday, July 6 at 8:00 am.  Homeowners and renters in Cleveland, Drew, Grant, Hot Spring, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ouachita and Phillips Counties affected by the severe storms and straight-line winds on April 12, 2020, may be eligible for disaster assistance through the State of Arkansas Individual Assistance program. 

Individuals whose primary residence was destroyed or made uninhabitable will be able to apply for assistance until Wednesday, July 15, 2020.  In order for homeowners and renters in Cleveland, Grant, Jefferson and Lincoln Counties to be eligible for state disaster assistance funds applicants must first apply for assistance through the Small Business Administration as well as through the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority’s Disaster Home Loan Program.  Homeowners and renters in Drew, Hot Spring, Ouachita and Phillips Counties are not required to apply through the Small Business Administration, however, they are required to apply through the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority’s Disaster Home Loan Program to be eligible for state disaster assistance funds.

Assistance may include home repairs, cleaning, household debris removal, and personal property repair.  Businesses, second homes, vacation homes, vehicles, sheds and outbuildings are NOT eligible for disaster assistance funds. 
Affected residents can apply by contacting the call center hotline weekdays 8:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. at 1-888-683-ADEM (2336).  Applicants will need to provide the address of the damaged home, insurance information, social security number and detailed damage information.  Residents will also be asked to provide a phone number

 

SUMMER SAFETY: FIREWORKS, FOOD, SWIM, HEAT AND COVID-19
Little Rock, Ark. – The Fourth of July is coming up this week, so it’s an important time to remember firework, food, swim and heat safety along with precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Precautions
Arkansans are advised to wear face coverings in both indoor and outdoor environments where they are exposed to non-household members and unable to maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others. Face coverings should cover both the mouth and nose. Frequent hand-washing is advised, and anyone with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should avoid contact with others and seek a COVID-19 test.

Firework Safety
Fireworks-related injuries are most common on the Fourth of July. Improper use of fireworks can lead to death and injury, including burns, cuts, and foreign objects in the eye. To prevent injury, keep these safety tips in mind:
Read all labels and instructions before igniting.
A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities.
Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.
Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and placing them in a metal trash can away from any building or flammable materials.
Never give fireworks to children.
Never shoot fireworks of any kind near pets.
Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.

Food Safety
Due to a variety of factors, including warmer temperatures, foodborne illness increases in summer. When handling food during the holiday, stay healthy and safe by using these tips:
Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs when bringing food to a picnic or cookout.
A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one.
Avoid opening a cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer.
In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should never sit out for more than one hour.
Serve cold food in small portions and keep the rest in the cooler.
After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served – at 140°F or warmer.
Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.
Use different utensils for handling raw meat than you use for cooked or ready-to-eat foods

Water Safety
Every day in the United States, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Two of these ten are children aged 14 or younger. Keep these tips in mind, so you and your loved ones can swim safely:
Take part in formal swimming lessons to reduce the risk of drowning among children aged 1 to 4 years old.
Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while swimming or playing in or around water.
Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, or talking on the phone) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.
Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as "water wings", "noodles", or inner-tubes instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing.
Always swim with a buddy. Use swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.

Heat-related Illness Prevention
Heat-related illness is caused by your body’s inability to cool down properly. The body normally cools itself by sweating. However, under certain conditions sweating is not enough. People who have higher risks for heat-related illness or death include children under the age of four, seniors age 65 or older, anyone overweight and those who are ill or on certain medications. Heat-related illnesses are preventable. Simple tips to prevent them are:
Stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day. If your home does not have air conditioning, consider public places like a library, senior center or mall.
Wear light, loose-fitted clothing.
Drink water often. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities if you are outside or without air conditioning.
Avoid unnecessary sun exposure. Wear a hat when you are in the sun.
Use sunscreen as directed and reapply regularly, especially when swimming.

For more information regarding injury prevention, visit healthy.arkansas.gov.
 

SMALL BUSINESS LABOR MARKET REMAINS WEAK IN JUNE
Owners report they can no longer afford to keep workers past June
LITTLE ROCK (July 1, 2020) – The NFIB Research Center released its monthly jobs report, showing the small business labor market has further weakened in June. Firms reduced employment by 0.28 workers per firm over the past month, weaker than the decrease of 0.17 workers per firm in May. Unchanged from last month, 6% reported increasing employment an average of 2.6 workers per firm and 22% (up one point) reported reducing employment an average of 4.6 workers per firm (seasonally adjusted).

“As states change reopening rules and dates, sometimes easing restrictions, small businesses are feeling various levels of uncertainty as to what comes next,” said NFIB’s Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “With recent COVID-19 spikes in some cases, many state governments are reversing prior decisions and reducing the potential for small business to earn needed revenue.”

NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, “These numbers demonstrate the challenge the enhanced unemployment benefit is having on job seekers. Many small owners simply cannot offer salaries that can compete with $4,000 per month to stay at home.” The federal CARES Act adds $600 a week to the state's maximum unemployment benefit of $451 a week. The enhanced benefit is set to end on July 31.

Some small business owners are cutting payrolls as Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan borrowers are moving through their 8-week forgiveness period. The forgiveness terms for the PPP loans generally require owners to keep payrolls at pre-crisis levels except under certain conditions. Many owners received their loans in April and will be unable to keep all their workers past June.

A seasonally adjusted 16% plan to create new jobs in the next 3 months, up 8 points from May. As states begin to reopen, owners are planning to re-hire workers as they open their business or expand business operations.

Also seasonally adjusted, 32% of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up 9 points from May. Fifty-one percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in June and 84% of those hiring or trying to hire reported few or no “qualified” applications for the positions they were trying to fill, up 6 points.

Fifty percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants and 30% cited the shortage of qualified labor as their top business problem.

Up 7 points from last month, 27% have openings for skilled workers and 11% have openings for unskilled labor (up 1 point). Twenty-three percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions (up 4 points) and 20% reported none (up 2 points). Forty-one percent of the job openings in construction are for skilled workers.

Fewer owners raised compensation than in previous months with less upward pressure on wages created by the massive level of layoffs and terminations. Seasonally adjusted, a net 14% reported raising compensation (unchanged) and a net 13% plan to do so in the coming months (up 3 points). Eight percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem.

Click here to view the full jobs report.


THE ARKANSAS BAR ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES NEW LOGO AND GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE
The Arkansas Bar Association (ArkBar) is excited to reveal its new logo that is being released in conjunction with its new governance structure. “As we transition and move the association forward, we believe the new logo reflects our dedicated and diverse membership,” said Karen K. Hutchins, Executive Director.

ArkBar is moving forward to meet future statewide expectations by rolling out its new governance structure. The new governance structure creates a single Board of Trustees consisting of 15 statewide districts. The new trustees were elected in May and began serving at the inaugural meeting of the Board of Trustees during the association’s virtual annual meeting in June.

“The new governance structure will allow the association to be more responsive, as the legal profession continues to meet the challenges that require quicker responses and increased technology in the practice of law,” Hutchins said.

The new logo was designed by Mangan Holcomb Partners.

Below is the list of members who have been elected to lead the association this year:

The 2020-2021 Officers: 
President: Paul. W. Keith, Hamburg
President-Elect: Bob Estes, Fayetteville
Immediate Past President: Brian Rosenthal, Little Rock
Treasurer: Joseph F. Kolb, Little Rock
Secretary: Glen Hoggard, North Little Rock

Young Lawyers Section Chair:
Chris Hussein, Fayetteville

Parliamentarian:
Aaron Squyres, Little Rock

The Inaugural Board of Trustees:
Kelsey Kaylyn Bardwell, Harrison
Jordan Bates-Rogers, Little Rock
Kandice A. Bell, White Hall
Melanie Ann Beltran, Clinton
Maggie Benson, Fayetteville
Laurie A. Bridewell, Lake Village
Evelyn E. Brooks, Fayetteville
Randall L. Bynum, Little Rock
Thomas M. Carpenter, Little Rock

Sterling Taylor Chaney, Arkadelphia
Kesha Zaffino Chiappinelli, Bentonville
Brinkley Beecher Cook-Campbell, Fort Smith
Bryce Cook, Jonesboro
Craig L. Cook, Fort Smith
Laurie A. Bridewell, Lake Village
Leslie Copeland, Fayetteville
Tim J. Cullen, Little Rock
Carol C. Dalby, Texarkana
Joe Aaron Denton, Conway
Margaret Dobson, Sheridan
Bob Edwards, Little Rock
Paul Nathaniel Ford, Jonesboro
Amy Freedman, Texarkana
Caleb Peter Garcia, Little Rock
Jesse J. Gibson, Little Rock
Steven P. Harrelson, Little Rock
Michael McCarty Harrison, Little Rock
Jason M. Hatfield, Fayetteville
Geoff Hamby, Centerton
Christopher Heil, Little Rock
Jason B. Hendren, Rogers
Rachel Hildebrand, Little Rock
Brian C. Hogue, Fayetteville
Anton Leo Janik, Jr., Little Rock
Sarah Coppola Jewell, Fayetteville
Jamie Huffman Jones, Little Rock
Taylor Andrew King, Arkadelphia
Alan Lee Lane, Fayetteville
George A. Lea, Jr., Pine Bluff
Victoria Leigh, North Little Rock
Jessica Virden Mallett, Little Rock
Skye Martin, Little Rock
Stefan McBride, North Little Rock
Kathleen M. McDonald, Little Rock
J. Cliff McKinney II, Little Rock
Jeremy M. McNabb, Little Rock
Mary Catherine McNulty, Little Rock
David Stockley Mitchell, Jr., Little Rock
Meredith Strong Moore, Little Rock
John Ogles, Jacksonville
Brant Perkins, Jonesboro
John Rainwater, Little Rock
George M. Rozzell, Rogers
Ryan Scott, Rogers
Dusti Standridge, Fort Smith
Carter C. Stein, Little Rock
Paul D. Waddell, Jonesboro
Todd Cooper Watson, Newport
William Zac White, Heber Springs
Patrick D. Wilson, Little Rock
George R. Wise, Little Rock

About Arkansas Bar Association
Founded in 1898, the Arkansas Bar Association is the premier legal association in the state. As a voluntary organization of more than 5,300 members, the Association’s primary mission is to support attorneys; advance the practice of law; advocate for the legal profession; foster professionalism, civility, and integrity; and protect the rule of law.




BOOZMAN-SUPPORTED QUALITY CARE FOR VETERANS LEGISLATION PASSES SENATE 
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) applauded unanimous passage of legislation he helped introduce to ensure proper care and treatment of the men and women who served in our nation’s uniform.

The Ensuring Quality Care for Our Veterans Act requires that any Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care provider with a previously revoked license undergoes a third-party review of that provider’s care. If the review determines that a competent practitioner would have managed the veteran’s care differently, the veteran will be notified. 

“Implementing an additional clinical review of the care administered by VA providers who have previously had their license revoked by a state medical board is a commonsense protective measure. It is key to ensuring veterans get the quality care they have earned. Our nation made a promise to take care of those who served in uniform. Senate passage of this bill is important to fulfilling that commitment and ensuring veterans have access to reliable and accurate health information,” said Boozman, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

The Ensuring Quality Care for Our Veterans Act was authored by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA). In addition to Boozman, original cosponsors include Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). 

Background:
Following a December 2017 report in USA Today that the VA hired providers with revoked licenses, the VA took corrective action by taking appropriate human resources action and issuing new guidance to prevent health care providers with revoked licenses from being hired in the future. The USA Today story found that the VA knowingly hired providers who had their licenses revoked or had been accused of misconduct. 

July 01, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JULY 01, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by saying that in order to have high school and college sports this fall that masks need to be worn. The Governor did not give any criteria that would need to be met in order for there to be sports. Governor Hutchinson reported that the total cases statewide had increased to 21,197. That's an increase of 420 from Tuesday. The good news is that the Active Positives in the state declined by 219 to 5,757. Hospitalizations also declined by 15 to 275. The death toll due to COVID-19 increased by seven to 277. 

The Governor said there would be an "important announcement" at the Thursday briefing but gave not hint what is was about.

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith gave the following report of numbers:
420 new cases
21,197 cumulative cases
275 hospitalized (down 15 from yesterday)
7 new deaths
277 total deaths
2/3 of all deaths have been nursing home residents
5,757 active cases (153 in nursing homes, 525 in prisons, 5,079 in the community)
7,993 tests yesterday (over 180,000 tests in June)
6.7% overall positive rate
15 new nursing home residents positive
11 new nursing home staff positive
72 on ventilators (up 5 from yesterday)
275 hospitalized (down 15 from yesterday)
15,163 recoveries (up 632 from yesterday).

Of the 420 new cases, 69 were in Lee County, 49 in Pulaski County, 48 in Washington County, 28 in Yell County, 20 in Benton County, and the other counties had less than 20 each.

Dr. Smith also discussed non-respiratory symptoms now being seen among COVID-19 patients.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 20 positive cases with 17 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 248 positive cases with 201 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 83 positive cases with 29 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. The Health Department Website reported in 21 cases in Ouachita County, however the number has been reduced to 20 positives. One case moved to another county but are not sure where. These numbers will be updated later today

As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,658,324 cumulative cases, 720,631 recoveries, and 127,681 deaths. Globally 10,538,577 cumulative cases, 5,395,571 recoveries, and 512,689 deaths.

More data is available on the ADA site. (Link below.)
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

To watch the video of today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/hsaPOp8fTic

Again, the good news is the number of Active Positives in the state declined by 219 to 5,757. Hospitalizations declined by 15 to 275. However, the deaths due to the coronavirus increased by seven to 277. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.


CROSSETT MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 5 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR BEING A FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM
El Dorado, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Tracy Wright Jr., age 25, of Crossett, Arkansas, was sentenced on June 30, 2020 to 70 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for one count of being a Felon In Possession of a Firearm. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in El Dorado.

On or about July 27, 2019, deputies with the Ashley County Sheriff’s Department and officers with the Crossett Police Department encountered Wright, a convicted felon. Upon contact with law enforcement, Wright was immediately recognized by law enforcement, who were aware of an active warrant that had been issued for Wright’s arrest. After Wright was taken into custody, a search of his persons resulted in officer’s locating two handguns in his pants pocket.

Wright was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2019, and entered a guilty plea in January of 2020.

This case was prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justices Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, which is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of firearms and improving the safety of residents in the Western District of Arkansas.  Participants in the initiative include federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

This case was investigated by the Ashley County Sheriff’s Office, the Crossett Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Fire, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF). Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case for the United States.
 

COTTON, TILLIS INTRODUCE NDAA AMENDMENT ON CONFEDERATE RENAMING
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) have introduced an amendment to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that would create a commission to study all Department of Defense assets that are named after or commemorate the Confederacy or anyone associated with the Confederacy. The commission would submit a list of those assets to both Congress and the Secretary of Defense, who would then decide how to move forward on possible renaming.

"The language in the current NDAA is too broad and gives too much power to an unaccountable and probably unconstitutional commission. My amendment will ensure we carefully study each property and that Congress determines the best way forward," said Cotton.

"Instead of mandating the renaming of military bases, including Fort Bragg, we need a thoughtful and constructive process that includes the input of our military communities. Our amendment accomplishes that goal," said Tillis.

 

RUTLEDGE URGES SENATE TO PASS LAW TO FIGHT SHELL COMPANIES
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge led a bipartisan letter signed by 42 attorneys general urging the U.S. Senate to pass S. 2563, the Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act. The letter was sent to Sen. Mike Crapo, Chairman, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ranking Member, of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. The ILLICIT CASH Act updates the federal framework for fighting money laundering and terrorism financing, which has not been comprehensively reassessed since its inception in the 1970s. It creates new tools for information sharing between financial institutions and law enforcement. Along with that, the Act requires a covered entity to report its “beneficial owners,” the actual people who benefit from or control the entity.

“By passing the ILLICIT CASH Act, Congress would increase transparency in the American financial system,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This increased transparency would make it tougher for criminals to use shell companies to launder money from crimes like drug trafficking, terrorism and tax evasion and give law enforcement the resources they so desperately need.”

The letter led by Attorney General Rutledge recognizes that many states do not have the ability to track information on the actual people who control or benefit from corporations and other entities doing business there. Without that information, states cannot know if an entity is a shell for concealing the illicit proceeds of criminals like drug traffickers, terrorist financiers, tax evaders and corrupt government officials.

Under the ILLICIT CASH Act, certain business entities will have to disclose a “beneficial owner” to the federal government. A beneficial owner is a “natural person” who controls an entity, owns at least 25% of it, or receives economic benefits from it. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Department of Treasury (FinCEN) will then keep all the disclosed beneficial ownership information in a federal registry. The Act requires FinCEN to release beneficial ownership information to law enforcement agencies, including at the local and state levels.

Rutledge led the letter with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, which was signed by attorneys general in: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, N. Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
 

FAULKNER COUNTY MAN WANTED IN CONNECTION WITH SOUTH ARKANSAS MURDER
JUNE 30, 2020
Lavern Blackmon, 57, of Conway is wanted in connection with the abduction and murder of a Desha County woman.


Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division were requested yesterday (Monday, June 29th) to lead the investigation after local law enforcement authorities were notified of a body being discovered along Kirtley Road northeast of Dumas.  The body was later identified as Viola Davis, 56, of Mitchellville (Desha County).

Davis’ body is being examined at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to determine a manner and cause of death.

State police special agents have obtained arrest warrants for Blackmon, charging him with kidnapping and capital murder.

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Blackmon is asked to contact the nearest Arkansas State Police office.

 

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES ITS FIRST DOCTORAL PROGRAM IN RURAL AND DIVERSE EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIPMAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University is now approved to offer the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership according to a recent decision by its regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission.

SAU’s first cohort of doctoral students will be admitted for Fall 2021. The program will be offered fully online, and requirements can be completed in as little as three and a half years.

Establishing SAU’s first doctoral program was a key vision set forth during Dr. Trey Berry’s first year as SAU president. Reacting to final approval of the degree program, Dr. Berry remarked:

“This news marks such an important point in SAU history! To be the first university south of Little Rock to offer a doctorate through a College of Education is a responsibility we take very seriously. 

“Over the past few years, our students have benefited from the university establishing academic programs that are unique to south Arkansas,” said Dr. Berry. “The creation of the Ed.D.is yet another example and a natural progression of the expanding academic mission at SAU.

“We are excited to be providing the opportunity for an advanced, terminal degree to equip our educational and community leaders for the future,” Dr. Berry concluded.

To explore achieving this goal, a 2017 feasibility study was conducted by SAU, and a survey was administered by the-then Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE). The survey affirmed high, regional demand for the potential opportunity.

Stakeholders consisting of building and district-level K-12 administrators, college and university faculty and staff, and non-profit and public agency personnel took the survey and indicated a strong (96.5%) preference to hire applicants holding the doctoral degree. More than half of the open positions within their district, school, or agency required applicants to have doctoral training, and an overwhelming number of survey participants (94.6%) wanted the program to be offered entirely online.

These results gave SAU a sense of urgency to formally develop the Ed.D. program and to deliver it entirely online.

After receiving approval from the Arkansas Division (then-Department) of Higher Education, SAU applied for regional approval of the change in the University’s role and scope to the Higher Learning Commission, the Chicago-based agency that accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in a number of states, including Arkansas. 

The process, which began in Fall 2016, concluded with the May 8, 2020, affirmative decision by the Commission.

The program’s launch comes at a critical time for Arkansas and rural America. Educators and community leaders who serve rural and diverse communities face sharply changing demographics, reduced populations, and economic upheaval as industries relocate and rural manufacturing declines.

These challenges affect schools and students at every educational level, as well as the organizations serving them. The newly-approved SAU Ed.D. program provides advanced training in research and practice for professionals holding or seeking leadership positions.

Dr. David Lanoue, SAU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the University “is eager to begin the process of developing the next generation of educational leaders in south Arkansas.

“Under the leadership of Dean Kim Bloss of the College of Education and her outstanding faculty and staff colleagues, this program will have a transformative effect on our students, our region, and rural educators across the nation,” said Dr. Lanoue.

Complete program details will be available September 1, 2020. For the latest information, and to join the SAU Ed.D. contact list, please visit web.saumag.edu/EdD.

THE ARKANSAS ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATION (AAA), THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF HIGH SCHOOLS (NFHS), AND EKNOWLEDGE CONTINUE SPONSORSHIP OF SAT AND ACT POWERPREP™ PROGRAMS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN THE STATE OF ARKANSAS
The are pleased to announce that the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) continues its support of the National SAT/ACT Prep Project through the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and eKnowledge. Because of this association, Arkansas students receive a 95% discount on SAT or ACT prep courses. This is a community-service, no-profit-project and all student fees are reinvested to improve the program and reach more families. The project has already assisted almost 300,000 families and has over 45,000 5-star reviews. The Project started over 15 years ago and is supported by more than 300 groups, organizations, and professional athletes. A significant moment happened about 10 years ago when The NFHS (a non-profit 501(c)(3)) began to sponsor the project and it is now the official program for all 19,500-member high schools and 12 million students.
How to request a sponsored SAT/ACT Prep Program Parents of high school students in the State of Alabama may request their 95% discounted SAT or ACT PowerPreptm Program at www.eknowledge.com/ArkansasAA or Telephone, 951-256-4076 (Reference: Arkansas News) About the SAT/ACT PowerPreptm Programs The online SAT/ACT PowerPrep is accessible from any device. It has hundreds of hours of student classwork, 50+ hours of detailed video explanations, 360+ multimedia/video lessons, 29 automatically graded progress quizzes with detailed answers and much more.

LOCKHEED MARTIN AWARDED $226,254,087 CONTRACT
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $226,254,087 modification (P00006) to contract W31P4Q-19-C-0077 for a 44 M270A2 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, Texas; New Boston, Texas; and Camden, Arkansas, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 30, 2023. Fiscal 2020 missile procurement (Army) funds in the amount of $226,254,087 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.


CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet Thursday, July 12 at 12:00 at  Catherine’s Bistro. The program wll be presented by Charlotte Young who will discuss The Drive Thru Farmer’s Market and The Fireworks Guidelines for the Star Spangled Spectacular.



LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN APPLAUDS U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION ON SCHOOL CHOICE
Says, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision 'marks an important win for children, their parents, and the communities where they live' LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin today issued the following statement:

"The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue marks an important win for children, their parents, and the communities where they live. The Court correctly ruled that a State cannot bar private schools from school choice programs simply because they are religious. Equipped with this ruling, I look forward to working with the Arkansas legislature and the governor to take bold action and further expand educational freedom for parents and children in the 2021 session."  

 
 
 

JUNE 30, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – JUNE 30, 2020
As of 1:30 p.m. there were 20,777 COVID-19 cumulative cases. There have been 270 deaths in Arkansas. There are currently 5,976 active cases. There have been 14,531 recoveries.
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by announcing that Secretary of the Department of Corrections Wendy Kelley has submitted her resignation effective July 30, 2020. The Governor thanked Secretary Kelley for her work.

The Governor also announced that the state financial situation was much better as the fiscal year comes to an end than had been anticipated.

The Governor announced that he has authorized a 2.2% merit pay increase for state employees.Governor Hutchinson, responding to a reporter's question, said that the state is not ready for Phase 3 which would allow for contact sports.

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith gave the following report of numbers:
520 new cases (18 in prisons, 502 in the community)
20,777 cumulative cases
5,976 active cases (120 in nursing homes, 548 in prisons, 5,308 in the community)
11 new nursing home residents positive
8 new nursing home staff positive
40,000+ tests in nursing homes (residents and staff) as of June 29th
290 hospitalized (down 10 from yesterday)
67 on ventilators (up 4 from yesterday)
270 deaths (up 5 from yesterday)
14,531 recoveries (up 465 from yesterday)
4,048 tests yesterday
171,944 tests this month as of yesterday .

Dr. Smith also reported that the CDC team continues to work in northwest Arkansas. Dr. Smith added that a second CDC team would begin working to mitigate the spread of COVOD-19 in nursing homes.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 20 positive cases with 17 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 247 positive cases with 200 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 84 positive cases with 29 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. The Health Department Website shows Calhoun County with 0 cases however one of the cases that was reported in Ouachita County yesterday was actually a Calhoun County resident according to reports. These numbers will be updated later today.

As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,612,259 cumulative cases, 705,203 recoveries, and 126,512 deaths.Globally 10,368,165 cumulative cases, 5,284,524 recoveries, and 507,188 deaths.

More data is available on the ADA site. (Link below.)
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

<span data-lynx-mode=">https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

https://youtu.be/Jyw7xPCqGZg

<img style=" img="" span="" href="https://youtu.be/Jyw7xPCqGZg?fbclid=IwAR1hwsLx4wlFldRLcTkuGaVrJUSt39NGwrke4Jnh2gfKLBLNIQGCMKNomOo" of="">https://youtu.be/Jyw7xPCqGZg

<img style=" target=" "="">https://youtu.be/Jyw7xPCqGZg

OUACHITA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE INDEPENDENCE DAY PRESS RELEASE
The Independence Day Holiday weekend is a big holiday for travel, water activities and celebrations. Many of us will have a long week-end to enjoy. We spoke with the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office who said that they are expecting the river to be a popular spot this weekend. All boaters are reminded that if you are drinking, there should always be a designated captain in the boat. The same penalties apply to drunk drivers on the water as they do to motorists. Always have a life preserver for everyone in the boat. If you are traveling, be sure someone knows your estimated time of arrival at your destination as well as the route you will be taking. Always carry a cell phone whether on the water or the road in case you find yourself in need of assistance. The Sheriff’s Office will be out on patrol all week on the river and on the county roadways. Check points will be set up throughout the county. Always be sure to follow all traffic laws and if alcohol is involved in your celebration – have a designated driver. If you need assistance call 231-5300 or dial 911 for any emergency that might arise. The entire Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office wish you all a safe and happy Independence Day Holiday.


The Sheriff's Office is decorated with American Flags for Independence Day
 


 

 


 

STATE TROOPER IDENTIFIED IN SATURDAY SHOOTING INCIDENT
JUNE 29, 2020
Sergeant Marcus Daniels, a 13 year veteran of the Arkansas State Police, is identified as the Arkansas State Trooper who shot Aloysius Keaton Saturday evening, only seconds after Keaton stabbed an Arkansas Highway Police Officer while fleeing from police.
The shooting incident occurred outside a gas and convenience store at Roosevelt Road and the I-30 westbound access ramp.
Keaton was wanted in connection with an aggravated robbery (carjacking) that had occurred minutes earlier in southwest Little Rock.
After Keaton stabbed the highway police officer, still brandishing the weapon, he moved toward Sergeant Daniels who fired an electronic control device (TASER) in an attempt to stop Keaton.  The ECD was ineffective, leading Sergeant Daniels to order Keaton to stop and drop the weapon.  Keaton failed to comply with the order and charged toward the trooper leading Sergeant Daniels to shoot Keaton with a handgun.
Keaton was pronounced dead at a Little Rock hospital.

Sergeant Daniels, a Highway Patrol Division, Troop A post supervisor, remains on paid administrative leave while an investigation into the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer continues.  The investigative case file will be reviewed by the Pulaski County prosecuting attorney who will decide whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was consistent with Arkansas Law.

SAFETY A MUST FOR FIREWORKS FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATIONS
Safe Surgery Arkansas issues eye safety warning ahead of fireworks season

LITTLE ROCK – Every year, dozens of Arkansans are rushed to the emergency room for eye injuries caused by fireworks. Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas, retinas, and ruptured eyeballs. Many people believe that consumer fireworks are safe, but the truth is that most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children. This includes fireworks such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.

To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, Safe Surgery Arkansas is sharing these tips:
Wear protective eyewear when igniting fireworks: Ophthalmologists recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear. Stop by any hardware store and pick up some safety glasses for the entire family. 

Don’t pick up duds and misfires: Keep a hose and buckets of water on hand for duds and misfires. Soak the dud from a distance with a hose or a bucket of water. Pick it up with a shovel and fully submerge it in a bucket of water to ensure it’s safe for disposal. 

Keep a safe distance: Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as the operator.

Supervise children closely: Sparklers seem like harmless fun for the kids, but they are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year across the country. Even those tiny poppers or snappers can pose dangers.

“Consumer fireworks, grilling, and apple pie are in our Fourth of July celebration fabric, but we must remember to respect the danger fireworks present if used improperly or carelessly,” said Dr. Laurie Barber, chairman of Safe Surgery Arkansas. “If you experience an eye injury as a result of fireworks, you should seek medical attention immediately and consult your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.”

In order to minimize the damage to the eye after a fireworks accident, ophthalmologists recommend the following:

Seek medical attention immediately.
Do not rub the eye. Rubbing may make the injury worse.
Do not attempt to rinse the eye.
Do not apply pressure to the eye.
Do not remove objects from the eye.
Do not apply ointments or take pain medications before seeking medical help.

About Safe Surgery Arkansas:
Safe Surgery Arkansas was formed in 2019 to repeal Act 579 of 2019, a new law that would allow non-medical doctors to perform certain eye surgeries. These non-medical doctors did not attend medical school, nor do they have the surgical residency training necessary to perform these delicate and complex surgeries. Learn more at www.SafeSurgery2020.com

AGHERITAGE FARM CREDIT SERVICES TO HOLD ANNUAL STOCKHOLDERS MEETING

The AgHeritage Farm Credit Services Annual Stockholders meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 21, at the Arkansas Waterfowl Association Event Center in Lonoke. The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. where reports of the association will be presented and the election process for directors and the nominating committee will be opened.

The Annual Meeting Information Statement was mailed to stockholders on or about June 26.

AgHeritage Farm Credit Services is a financial cooperative with owned and managed assets of approximately $1.54 billion as of December 31, 2019. The company provides credit and related services to more than 3,100 farmers, ranchers and producers or harvesters of aquatic products in 24 Arkansas counties. 

Branch offices are located in Batesville, Brinkley, Lonoke, McGehee, Newport, Pine Bluff, Pocahontas, Searcy and Stuttgart.
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT DECISION ALLOWING FEDERAL EXECUTIONS
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the resumption of federal executions:

“Daniel Lewis Lee is a white supremacist responsible for the heinous slaying of an entire family in Arkansas, including an 8-year-old girl. Twenty years after a jury imposed the death penalty for these crimes, the Supreme Court has rightly allowed justice to proceed.”

RUTLEDGE'S STATEMENT ON SCOTUS SPLINTERED DECISION RULING AGAINST LOUISIANA'S REASONABLE ADMITTING PRIVILEGES STATUTE
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s splintered decision narrowly ruling against Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act (Act 620) which would require any physician who performs abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. Reflecting the weakness of the abortion practitioners’ position, there was no majority opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts who provided the deciding vote explained that he had only voted to strike down Louisiana’s requirement because he believed this case was identical to an earlier case.

“Abortion is a serious medical procedure that can often have complications and, if not adequately addressed, can leave women with long-term health issues including death,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Despite today's technical decision against Louisiana’s law, the Supreme Court reaffirms common sense laws that ensure protection of women’s health and welfare.”

The Court’s decisions comes after Rutledge led a 20-state coalition of attorneys general in support of Louisiana’s case to protect the safety and welfare of women by requiring admitting privileges to all clinics located in Louisiana. The brief argued the Supreme Court should not allow abortion practitioners to challenge health and safety laws, like those in Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana and other states on behalf of women.

In March, the case, June Medical Services, LLC. v. Russo was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

JUNE 29, 2020

COVID 19 – MONDAY JUNE 29 UPDATE
During the Monday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the total cases in Arkansas had now topped 20,000. The total number of COVID-19 cases increased by 439 from Sunday to 20,257. The number of Active Positives is now 5,926. Hospitalizations increased by seven to 300. The death toll due to the coronavirus increased by one to 265. Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Washington County with 92, Pulaski County with 56, Benton county with 48, Sevier County with 31, and Sebastian County with 22.
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by reporting that he had been on a conference call with other governors and Vice President Pence today discussing concerns about compliance of social distancing and other directives. The Governor asked that Arkansans practice social distancing and wear masks when shopping.

Governor Hutchinson reported that 60,000 additional masks have arrived in Arkansas.

Governor Hutchinson says it now is the time to support local businesses around the state, but to do so in a respectful manner by wearing cloth face coverings into the business.

The number of Active Positive cases in the state seem to be leveling out now. The number of recoveries recorded per day now almost equal the total new cases. But the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend will be important as groups will gather for various events. Although the Governor plans to address the importance of following the safety guidelines during the holiday weekend later this week, he mentioned in his Monday press conference that we all will need to work together.
At this time Ouachita County is showing 21 positive cases with 17 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 245 positive cases with 196 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 84 positive cases with 28 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 9 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. These numbers were from the Sunday afternoon update. Totals will be updated later today.

Again, there are now over 20,000 total COVID-19 cases in Arkansas, and hospitalizations have now reached the 300 mark. The death toll stands at 265.
As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,564,163 cumulative cases, 685,164 recoveries, and 125,928 deaths.

Globally 10,199,798 cumulative cases, 5,169,421 recoveries, and 502,947 deaths.

More data is available on the ADA site. (Link below.)
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

To watch the video of today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/uC6i7wDA6AE

<span style=">https://youtu.be/uC6i7wDA6AE

We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

ARKANSAS PUBLIC POLICY PANEL TO DISCUSS Covid-19’s impact on public education – JOIN DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK LIVE AND ZOOM
 As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Arkansas, parents of children enrolled in public schools across the state are being asked to make tough decisions about their children's return to the classroom in a very short amount of time. And they're lacking vital information on which to base their decisions regarding their school's execution of these options.

If you have questions or concerns about returning to the classroom in August, join  tomorrow night at 6 p.m. on Zoom and Facebook Live as we discuss public education and a return to classrooms amid the coronavirus crisis.

Register to participate here: https://arpanel.nationbuilder.com/education_webinar


SOUTH CENTRAL SERVICE COOPERATIVE FLIPS THE SWITCH ON SOLAR POWER
SCSC unveils 100 kW fixed-tilt solar array at their headquarters

The South-Central Service Cooperative (SCSC) solar array, located at their headquarters, is now commissioned and operational Dedicated to innovation and 

sustainability in reducing their carbon footprint, the SCSC solar project was designed to offset the energy use of the campus.  

Projected to supply nearly 99 percent of the SCSC's energy consumption, the system is capable of producing over 185,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually.

SCSC Director, Karen Kay McMahen said that, “This project exemplifies partnership and investing in our community.”

The project, now consisting of 324 panels, began when the director reached out to their local utility, Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC), seeking a solution to lower energy bills.

Once OECC conducted an evaluation of the SCSC facilities, it was suggested that SCSC consider solar energy as a power alternative.

“Our goal at OECC is to help our members receive the lowest cost, most sustainable and most efficient energy available,” said Mark Cayce, CEO/General Manager of Ouachita Electric Cooperative.

Choosing North Little Rock's Today's Power, Inc. (TPI) as its energy partner, the agreement with TPI is a win-win for SCSC, OECC and surrounding school districts.  The savings from the purchase power agreement are to be reallocated to services for the local  school districts, children and SCSC and OECC's local community .

“We are excited to partner with SCSC as they fulfill their mission” said Michael Henderson, President of Today’s Power, Inc. “Embracing leading edge technology so all of their member schools receive benefits of lower cost and contributing to a cleaner environment is sending the right message to the 15,954 students they represent,” he added.

Today’s Power, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based utility service cooperative owned by 17 Arkansas electric distribution cooperatives. Today’s Power, Inc. offers turn-key solar photovoltaic systems, energy storage systems, electric vehicles and charging stations for all sizes and applications.

South Central Service Cooperative is committed to empowering our schools and communities to meet their educational goals by striving toward strong academics, innovative strategies, and knowledge of skills necessary to impact effective citizenship and economic productivity.

Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corporation is a non-profit rural electric utility cooperative headquartered in Camden, Arkansas, with a district office in Hampton, Arkansas. The Cooperative was organized in 1938. The Cooperative serves portions of five counties in the state of Arkansas, in a territory generally surrounding Camden and Hampton.
 

COUNTY RESIDENTS MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— Homeowners and renters in Cleveland, Drew, Grant, Hot Spring, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ouachita and Phillips Counties affected by the severe storms and straight-line winds on April 12, 2020, may be eligible for disaster assistance through the State of Arkansas Individual Assistance program. 

Individuals whose primary residence was destroyed or made uninhabitable will be able to apply for assistance beginning Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 and continuing until Wednesday, July 15th, 2020.  In order for homeowners and renters in Cleveland, Grant, Jefferson and Lincoln Counties to be eligible for state disaster assistance funds applicants must first apply for assistance through the Small Business Administration as well as through the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority’s Disaster Home Loan Program.  Homeowners and renters in Drew, Hot Spring, Ouachita and Phillips Counties are not required to apply through the Small Business Administration, however, they are required to apply through the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority’s Disaster Home Loan Program to be eligible for state disaster assistance funds.

Assistance may include home repairs, cleaning, household debris removal, and personal property repair.  Businesses, second homes, vacation homes, vehicles, shed and outbuildings are NOT eligible for disaster assistance funds. 

Affected residents can apply by contacting the call center hotline weekdays 8:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. at 1-888-683-ADEM (2336).  Applicants will need to provide the address of the damaged home, insurance information, social security number and detailed damage information.  Residents will also be asked to provide a phone number and email address.

COTTON CONDEMNS SCOTUS’S OVERTURNING LOUISIANA ABORTION LAW
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law today requiring that individuals who perform abortions at clinics have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital:

“Americans hoping for justice for women and unborn babies were let down again today by John Roberts. The Chief Justice may believe that he’s protecting the institutional integrity of the Court, but in reality his politicized decision-making only undermines it.”
 

COVID 19 – SUNDAY JUNE 28 UPDATE
As of Sunday afternoon, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had grown to 19,818. That's an increase of 508 from Saturday. Active positive cases are now at 5,918. The death toll due to Covid-19 increased by five from Saturday to 264. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, displayed a map in the latest COVID-19 Press Conference Friday afternoon showing where churches are located that have been hot spots for the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Smith says that the churches who are following the guidelines for social distancing and wearing masks have not been experiencing problems. But the churches who have not been following the guidelines have seen a dangerous COVID-19 spread.

Governor Hutchinson announced Friday afternoon that as an additional compliance resource and to supplement the Health Department inspection units, he was directing the Arkansas Alcoholic and Beverage Control officers to be engaged and to report to the Health Department any restaurants or bars that are not complying with public health directives.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 21 positive cases with 17 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 245 positive cases with 196 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 84 positive cases with 28 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 9 positive cases with recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases.

 Again, there are now 19,818 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. Active cases stand at 5,918. The death toll increased by five from Saturday to 264. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.
 

20TH ANNUAL STAR SPANGLED SPECTACULAR AT THE CAMDEN AIRPORT IN CAMDEN, AR
Rules for Safety During the Show
Join us at the Camden Municipal Airport on Saturday, July 4th for the 20th annual Star Spangled Spectacular. Enjoy the evening with great musical acts ending with the largest professional fireworks Display in South Arkansas.

This year’s event is brought to you by Title Sponsor Aerojet Rocketdyne, Camden & Ouachita County Ministerial Alliance, Camden A & P Commission and local business and industry.

The evening will start with local talent from the McKelvin Brothers kicking off at 6:30PM, they will be joined at 7PM by Shanna Dorey for the singing of the National Anthem, followed by The Voice contestant L. B. Crew ending the evening the headliner, America’s Got Talent winner Kris Allen. There will be special parking and recognizing of local veterans (past and those presently serving).

COVID-19 guidelines will bring some changes to this year’s event. Due to guidelines this year’s show will not have inflatables for the kids or concessions. Event attendees are encouraged to bring your own drinks and snacks. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets to sit by your vehicles as you enjoy this year’s event.

Please be aware of the following rules to follow for the Star Spangled Spectacular.
Spectators may sit outside their vehicles, however you must stay in the area of your vehicles.  No sitting in groups in the field.

Anyone who must use porta potties will need to wear a mask from the time they leave their vehicle area until they return.

All social distancing guidelines must be utilized during the entire time.

If you have had a fever, cough, or exposed to anyone testing positive for COVID-19, do not enter the field.  You may choose to park along one of the side roads or lots and tune in to listen.

Also, please be respectful and place all litter in trash bins or take home for disposal.  We are very thankful for AR Dept of Health for approving our fireworks, so we want to make sure we respect

All guidelines that they have ask from us.  It is our desire to provide a safe environment to allow our citizens to enjoy the fireworks and music on the evening of the 4th of July.
This year will bring a larger professional fireworks display for your enjoyment. Come on out to the Camden Municipal Airport to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment.

This year will bring a larger professional fireworks display for your enjoyment. Come on out to the Camden Municipal Airport to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment. The entire evening will be aired live on KCXY, Y95.3 FM so that you can listen to all the happenings on your car radio or Andriod or IPhone App. 

Brought to you by Title Sponsor Aerojet Rocketdyne, Camden A&P Commission and local business and industries.

Contact:
Charlotte Young
Call or Text: 870-807-1468
charlotte@jcproductions.tv
explorecamden.com

SUSPECT DEAD FOLLOWING CARJACKING AND ASSAULT ON HIGHWAY POLICE OFFICER
JUNE 28, 2020
Aloysius Keaton, 58, of Little Rock died last night at a Little Rock hospital.  An Arkansas State Trooper shot Keaton yesterday (Saturday, June 27th), about 7:08 PM, after Keaton stabbed an Arkansas Department of Transportation, Highway Police Officer.  Keaton was wanted in connection with the carjacking of a taxicab on 7620 Baseline Road only minutes prior to being approached by a state trooper and the highway police officer near Roosevelt & I-30 in south Little Rock.

Keaton had abandoned the taxicab after losing control of the vehicle while exiting I-30 onto Roosevelt Road and crashed into another vehicle.

Area law enforcement agencies and officers on patrol had been alerted in a message from Little Rock Police about the carjacking.  A state trooper had spotted the stolen taxicab and approached Keaton who fled on foot a short distance where he encountered the highway police officer who attempted to arrest Keaton.

Keaton used a weapon to stab the highway police officer as the state trooper approached the scene.  Keaton, still brandishing the weapon, moved toward the state trooper who fired an electronic control device (TASER) in an attempt to stop Keaton.  The ECD was ineffective, leading the trooper to order Keaton to stop and drop the weapon.  Keaton failed to comply with the order and charged toward the trooper leading the trooper to shoot Keaton with a handgun.

Emergency medical personnel transported both the Highway Police Officer and Keaton from the scene.  The officer had sustained non-life threatening injuries and was treated, then released.  Keaton died at the hospital.

Keaton’s body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where an autopsy will be conducted.

The Arkansas State Trooper remains on paid administrative leave and will be identified once he has had the opportunity to meet with family and seek initial spiritual or professional guidance.

Questions relating to the identity of the Highway Police Officer should be directed to the Arkansas Department of Transportation, Office of Highway Police.

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES ROB FINLEY AS NEWS GAME AND FISH COMMISSIONER 
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has appointed Mountain Home businessman Rob Finley as a
member of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. He replaces Chairman Ken Reeves. 

Governor Hutchinson announced the appointment and introduced Mr. Finley today at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center.  

“Rob’s love of the outdoors is in his blood,” Governor Hutchinson said. “His grandfather owned a fishing and bait store on Portia Bay, and by the time he was four, Rob was fishing from his grandfather’s boat launch. Rob and his cousins spent hours with their grandfather learning about fishing and hunting. His love of the outdoors inspired a passion for conservation. He and his wife, Nicki, have been successful in a variety of businesses, including outdoor retreats and lodges. In Rob, I found the perfect mix of attributes that make him a logical pick to serve as a Game and Fish commissioner.” 

Mr. Finley was born on Eaker Air Force Base in Mississippi County, graduated from Cotter High School in Baxter County, and followed in his father’s footsteps to join the U.S. Air Force. After his service, he returned to Mountain Home, where he worked in the banking industry and developed a credit-insurance program for financial institutions. They own Route 66 Warranty in Mountain Home and Cranor’s White River Lodge in Cotter. 

“The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is a body of seven stewards of the people’s property,” Mr. Finley said. “I take that very seriously, and I will work diligently to protect it. If I could drop the gavel 84 months from now with an increase in hunter/fishing participation and youth involvement numbers on the rise, I would consider my term a success.” 

He and Nicki live in Mountain Home and have a daughter and three sons. 

Governor Hutchinson thanked outgoing Chair Ken Reeves for his service on the commission. 

“Arkansas is a better place because of Ken Reeves’s work as a Game and Fish commissioner,” Governor Hutchinson said. “He has been steady at the helm and charted a good course for those who love and want to preserve Arkansas’s forests and waterways.”

June 26, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 26, 2020
At the Friday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the total number of cases had grown to 18,740. That's an increase of 678 from Thursday. Of those 678 new cases, 669 were in the community. That's the largest single day increase in the community cases as yet. Active positive cases are now 5,707. Hospitalizations remained the same at 284. The death toll due to Covid-19 increased by seven to 249. 

Governor Hutchinson and the Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, displayed a map showing where churches are located that have been hot spots for the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Smith says that the churches who are following the guidelines for social distancing and wearing masks have not been experiencing problems. But the churches who have not been following the guidelines have seen a dangerous COVID-19 spread.

Governor Hutchinson announced Friday afternoon that as an additional compliance resource and to supplement the Health Department inspection units, he was directing the Arkansas Alcoholic and Beverage Control officers to be engaged and to report to the Health Department any restaurants or bars that are not complying with public health directives.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 18 positive cases with 16 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 237 positive cases with 118 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 72 positive cases with 26 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 6 positive cases with 4 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases.

Again, there are now 18,740 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. The increase of 669 community cases since Thursday is the largest single day increase as yet. Active cases stand at 5,707. The death toll increased by seven to 249. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.
 

COTTON TO INTRODUCE THE WASHINGTON-GRANT HISTORIC PRESERVATION ACT 
Washington, D.C. -Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) will introduce the Washington-Grant Historic Preservation Act, which would amend the Veterans' Memorial Preservation Act to provide for a one-year mandatory minimum for those who injure or destroy monuments dedicated to our most gallant American heroes.

"Vandals are defacing and tearing down of statues of our esteemed forefathers such as George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant with reckless abandon. At a minimum they should face one year in prison for this crime," said Cotton.

 

COTTON BILL TO SUPPORT SEMICONDUCTOR MANUFACTURING IN U.S.
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), James Risch (R-Idaho), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), and Doug Jones (D-Alabama) have introduced the American Foundries Act of 2020, a bill that supports the production and development of microelectronics in the United States. The Senators aim to include the bill as an amendment in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

Bill text may be found here. Additional details may be found below.

“The United States revolutionized the microelectronics industry, which is essential to our safety and security today. But by ceding semiconductor manufacturing and development to countries like China, the United States has fallen behind and given the Chinese Communist Party dangerous leverage over our nation’s future. Our bill invests in the microelectronics industry here in America, where it belongs,” said Cotton.
“America’s technological advantage played a decisive role in our victory in the Cold War, and it will be equally important to our ability to outcompete China over the coming decades. This bill strengthens that advantage by bringing semiconductor manufacturing back to the United States, and it does so in a way that will create jobs and revitalize communities across our nation,” said Hawley.
“As home to one of the world’s foremost chip designers, Idaho has played a key role in the United States’ leadership in the semiconductor industry, driving forward our world-class innovation,” said Risch. “With the Chinese Communist Party’s continued efforts to dominate the rest of the world’s microelectronics industries through theft and coercion, it is critical that we work swiftly to strengthen domestic production of semiconductors and maintain our strategic competitive edge.”

“Semiconductors are not only essential to keeping our country on the cutting edge of technology, but are also vital to maintaining our national security,” said Collins.  “Although the U.S. semiconductor industry has been an international leader for decades, aggressive incentives by foreign governments and unfair business practices have eroded America’s dominance in this crucial sector.  The targeted investments provided in our bill would help spur the research and development necessary to keep U.S. semiconductor companies at the forefront of the industry while also preserving the good-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs they create.”

“America’s technological prowess is a key source of economic innovation, and a vital building block of our national security – we cannot and must not undercut either by outsourcing the manufacturing of semiconductors,” said King.  “We need to be investing in these capabilities, to ensure that we are able to remain leaders in the world of microelectronics and to support good, high-paying jobs in communities across the country.”

“Our nation is in an economic crisis. Investing in microelectronics manufacturing and the semiconductor industry will create high paying manufacturing jobs for hard working Americans at a time when our country needs it most. The American Foundries Act of 2020 would expand our advanced manufacturing workforce and invests in cutting edge research and development. Additionally, this bill helps to strengthen our microelectronic domestic supply chain, prioritize American owned businesses over foreign production, and keep our country safe,” said Gillibrand.

Background:
The United States revolutionized the microelectronics industry, inventing many of the key technologies that drive the economy today. However, it is at risk of falling behind in manufacturing or “fabricating” semiconductors at home as countries in Asia, especially China, have made significant investments in their microelectronics sectors. Seventy-eight percent of cutting-edge wafer fabrication capacity is now located in Asia; North America fell behind China in this benchmark for the first time in 2019.

The American Foundries Act makes critical investments in commercial and defense-related microelectronics projects to ensure the United States remains a world leader in the industry. The bill includes the following measures:

Support for Commercial Microelectronics Projects: Authorizes the Department of Commerce to award $15 billion in grants to states to assist in the “construction, expansion, or modernization … of microelectronics fabrication, assembly, test, advanced packaging, or advanced research and development facilities.”

Support for Secure Microelectronics Projects: Authorizes the Department of Defense to award $5 billion in grants “for the creation, expansion, or modernization of one or more commercially competitive and sustainable microelectronics manufacturing or advanced research and development facilities capable of producing measurably secure and specialized microelectronic” for defense and intelligence purposes. This funding may go to primarily commercial facilities capable of producing secure microelectronics.

R&D Funding: Authorizes $5 billion in R&D spending to secure U.S. leadership in microelectronics. Requires agencies that receive this funding to “develop policies to require domestic production, to the extent possible, for any intellectual property resulting from microelectronics research and development as a result of these funds.”
$2 billion for DARPA’s Electronics Resurgence Initiative
$1.5 billion for the National Science Foundation
$1.25 billion for the Department of Energy
$250 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology
National Microelectronics Research Plan: Establishes a subcommittee of the President’s Council on Science and Technology to produce a report each year “to guide and coordinate funding for breakthroughs in next-generation microelectronics research and technology, strengthen the domestic microelectronics workforce, and encourage collaboration between government, industry, and academia.”
Safeguards: Prohibits firms owned, controlled or otherwise influence by the Chinese government from accessing funds provided by the legislation.

 

ARTIST KATIE HARWELL HOSTS NEXT ONLINE ART CAMP AT SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center's Virtual Summer Camp will continue June 29-July 3 with videos from artist and new SAAC instructor Katie Harwell. Katie will work alongside her eight-year-old daughter, Millye, as she guides students through a week of virtual lessons focused on the principles of design and creative problem solving.
This summer, all of SAAC's camps are presented via the tuition-free Virtual Summer Camp, which can be accessed via computer, tablet, or smartphone. Each week, an additional artist's video lessons will be added to the library, available at SAAC's website at www.saac-arts.org. Lessons can be completed on your own schedule, and at your own pace.

Katie's videos will begin on June 29, with an outdoor project called "Organic Mandalas," which uses items from nature to build a Mandala design. Next, students will "Wreck The Rainbow" using mixed media to discover the color wheel. On Wednesday, Katie will offer instruction on a crayon resist flower drawing. Thursday and Friday's lessons will delve into the work of two noted artists: Victor Vasarely and Paul Klee.

"I love watching students discover art, and I believe with my whole heart that creative problem solving is a critical skill that should be offered to every student," Katie says. "Art not only brings my students happiness and improves their self-confidence, but it also opens up a new world of career possibilities."

A native of El Dorado, Katie has 16 years of teaching experience and currently teaches Visual Art at El Dorado High School. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a bachelor's degree in Interior Design and worked as a Registered Interior Designer in Shreveport and Dallas before returning to her hometown to pursue her passion for painting, printmaking, and teaching.

The final three weeks of SAAC's Virtual Summer Camp take a deeper dive into skill-based instruction. After Katie's lessons on creative problem solving, ballet instructors Elizabeth Wood and Cami Lowrey will facilitate a week of advanced ballet practice, and theatre instructor Jacob George will offer students a chance to hone their audition skills.

Visit the website at www.saac-arts.org to access the summer camp videos or register a student. By registering, SAAC will be able to keep you informed of new camp announcements and program updates. Best of all, students can enjoy summer camp at any time, choosing to complete the lessons day by day, week by week, or save them up to complete all at once. Each instructor will include a supply list of materials and all the information needed to complete the projects in their videos.
For more information about Virtual Summer camp, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL MEETS IN SPECIAL SESSION
The Camden City Council met in a special session Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

 The only item on the agenda was a Resolution to authorize the mayor and the Water and Sewer Commission to execute a power purchase agreement with Scenic Hill Solar, LLC and for other purposes.

There were some changes to the original contract the Council had seen. City Attorney Michael Frey gave a lengthy explanation as to why the changes had been made. He also explained how the whole agreement would work as to the money it would cost, how much money the City will save, rates and all the ins and outs of the 29 page agreement.

The packet also had several exhibits including projected energy purchase rates for the next 20 years, early termination amounts for the next 20 years, a description of sites and a description of the premises. There was an exhibit that described the project, the insurance requirements and finally an exhibit showing estimated electricity production for the next 20 years which was for reference purposes only.

The Resolution passed unanimously.
 

KEEP YOUR FREEDOM THIS INDEPENDENCE HOLIDAY: STAY OUT OF JAIL – DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER
(LITTLE ROCK) – As Arkansans prepare for the approaching July 4th Independence Day holiday weekend, many families will include plans to travel across the state for cookouts and the customary summer festivities.  However, experience and records tell us, some drivers and their passengers won’t make it to their destinations or return home.  Drunk or impaired driving will be to blame.

Arkansas law enforcement officers will be participating in the statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” operation.  The mission will be devoted to stopping drunk drivers before tragedy strikes.   State police, along with city officers and county deputies across Arkansas will increase their patrols along the roads and highways with zero tolerance for those who drive impaired.  Motorists should expect to see more sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols involving a unified police force working to keep the roadways safe.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving accounted for 29% (10,511) of the total motor vehicle traffic deaths during 2018. Additionally, drunk driving can be attributed to 40% (78) of the 193 traffic fatalities over the July 4th (2018) holiday period.

“Making the choice to drink and drive can be deadly.  It’s irresponsible behavior, and we will be out in full force to put a stop to it,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Make no mistake, if you’re caught drinking and driving, you will be arrested.”

If travelers plan to consume alcohol, the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office offers these reminders.
•   Plan a safe way home before you leave. It’s never okay to drink and drive, even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage.
Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely.
•   If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to drive you home.
•   If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.
•   If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help make other arrangements to get the person safely to their destination.
•   Always buckle up.  Your seat belt is the best defense against a drunk driver.

For more information on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  Information about Arkansas’ ongoing “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign to eliminate preventable traffic deaths can be found at www.TZDarkansas.org.  



NORTHEAST ARKANSAS MAN WOUNDED IN GUNFIRE EXCHANGE WITH POLICE AND DEPUTIES
JUNE 25, 2020
The Arkansas State Police has been requested to conduct an investigation into the use of deadly force by three northeast Arkansas law enforcement agencies.  The investigation arises out of an incident near Hardy last night (Wednesday, June 24th) when a local resident exited a home with a gun and fired at police and sheriff’s deputies.
Hardy Police initially responded at 6:45 PM to 3440 Highway 62/412 where Jerod White, 28, of Ash Flat had been seen outside with a gun.  As police arrived, White reportedly fired the gun at an officer.
The officer was not injured, but retreated from the area and requested additional law enforcement assistance.  Meanwhile, White entered a camper trailer located on the property.  Law enforcement officers eventually made contact with White by telephone and attempted to negotiate a peaceful surrender.
Almost three hours later, minutes before 10 PM, White exited the trailer brandishing a gun and fired a second time at officers and deputies who returned fire, wounding White who was then airlifted to an area hospital.  White was reported to be in stable condition when taken from the scene by emergency medical personnel.
At least two police officers, one from Hardy, the other from Highland and two Sharp County sheriff’s deputies, fired guns at White.  None of the law enforcement officers were injured.
Questions relating to the names of the local police officers and sheriff’s deputies, as well as their administrative status with the respective department, should be directed to the chief law officer at each department.
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are conducting the investigation that will be used by the county prosecuting attorney to determine whether the use of deadly force by the officers and deputies was consistent with Arkansas law.

 

BOOZMAN, TESTER INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO EXPAND VA BENEFITS FOR VIETNAM VETERANS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Forgotten Vietnam Veterans Act to expand wartime benefits to veterans who served in the Vietnam War and have been ineligible for assistance because of differences between the war era dates at the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Currently, DoD recognizes the Vietnam War era as November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975 while the VA recognizes the Vietnam War era as February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975. This discrepancy has prevented members of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) from qualifying for wartime veterans benefits like the veterans pension. MAAG is a designation for U.S. military advisors sent to other countries to assist in the training of conventional armed forces and facilitate military aid. More than 3,200 MAAGs served during the Vietnam War.

“Expanding the VA’s statutory definition of the Vietnam War era will ensure MAAG veterans are eligible for benefits they earned. Our legislation will correct the error that has prevented them from receiving benefits they are rightly due,” Boozman said.

“As a nation, we have an obligation to ensure that the men and women who served in Vietnam are properly recognized—and honored—for their sacrifices,” said Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tester. “Our bipartisan bill will alter the federal government’s timeline to reflect our country’s official involvement in the Vietnam War, rightfully extending wartime benefits to veterans previously excluded from receiving the benefits they deserve.” 

The legislation is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America.

“More than 3,000 veterans served in Vietnam from November 1, 1955 to February 27, 1961, ten of whom were killed in action,” said Matthew Doyle, Deputy Director National Legislative Service of VFW. “However, veterans who served in Vietnam prior to February 28, 1961 are not considered wartime veterans and likewise are ineligible for certain VA benefits. The VFW is proud to support this legislation, which would change the statutory definition of Vietnam veteran to include those who served in the Republic of Vietnam beginning on November 1, 1955.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman TJ Cox (D-CA-21).

Click here to read the Senate bill.

JUNE 25, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 25, 2020
At the Thursday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the total number of cases had climbed to 18,062, an increase of 687 over the previous day. The number of Active Positives stands at 5,695. Hospitalizations increased by 17 to 284. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 increased by two to 242. A total of 6,652 tests were administered in the previous 24 hours with a positivity rate of 6.5%. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by reading a post from a nurse at WRMC named Cheyenne Bright about the seriousness of COVID-19.

"To the people who think Covid isn’t real or isn’t “serious”. I just want to let you know it is very real and very serious. I spent the day comforting my dying patient, so they would know they weren’t alone. This patient, who was perfectly fine 6 days ago. This patient who didn’t have underlying conditions, this patient who is now not perfectly fine. Covid doesn’t care about your age, your gender, where you’re from, or what ethnicity you are. If you have lived a good healthy life, or if you haven’t. It doesn’t matter. It can affect anyone.
So be safe and be mindful. Wear your mask, if not for yourself do it for others."~Cheyenne Bright

Benton and Washington Counties in Northwest Arkansas have been driving the increase in COVID-19 cases in the state in the past couple of weeks. The new cases have now begun to flatten out in those two counties. Governor Hutchinson praised the Springdale Chamber of Commerce for starting a campaign called: "Protect and Respect. Wear a Mask". Businesses have been displaying signage with that campaign theme at their entrances. Governor Hutchinson says there are other factors that communities have done to flatten the curve in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Governor Hutchinson says if the state is going to contain the spread of COVID-19, word is going to have to get communicated to all members of the community to get tested.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 18 positive cases with 13 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 232 positive cases with 183 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 72 positive cases with 25 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 6 positive cases with 4 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases.
As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,398,491 cumulative cases, 656,161 recoveries, and 122,238 deaths.

Globally 9,494,571 cumulative cases, 4,782,924 recoveries, and 484,155 deaths.

More data is available on the ADA site. (Link below.)
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas topped 18,000 on Thursday. Active positives stand at 5,695. Hospitalizations increased by 17 to 284. The death toll grew by two to 242. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

FUTURE FIT PRODUCTION OPERATOR/ASSEMBLER TRAINING CLASSES OFFERED FREE
There will be Future Fit Production/Assembler classes offered at the SAU Tech main campus. Classes will be Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9 PM. The Program will last for 9 weeks, excluding Holidays. Classes will begin July 20, 2020.

For more information, contact Karmen House at khouse@sautech.edu or call 870-574-4769. Deadline to register is July 15, 2020.

ARKANSAS SKILLS GAP TRAINING PROGRAM: FUTURE FIT WHAT IS FUTURE FIT?

A study by the Manufacturing Institute showed that nationally 80% of manufacturers report a shortage of qualified applicants for skilled production positions.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission conducted more than 1,800 face-to-face meetings with local Arkansas companies to evaluate the extent of the skilled worker shortage in Arkansas. It was found approximately 10,000 unfilled jobs, of which 26.2 percent require no formal education and 52.5 percent require a high school diploma or GED.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO ENROLL IN FUTURE FIT?
Future Fit is designed to accommodate a diverse group of people:
High school graduates that do not plan to enroll in college
Military veteran
Unemployed or underemployed
Non-violent offenders released by law enforcement

There will be no enrollment cost to qualified students during the initial pilot program. Applicants must have a High School Diploma or a GED and have earned a Bronze level ACT National Career Readiness Certificate as a minimum qualification to enroll.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: BUSINESSES TARGET HISPANIC COMMUNITIES TO FRAUDULENTLY SELL COVID-19 TREATMENTS
LITTLE ROCK – As the pandemic continues and Arkansans attempt to get back on their feet, scam artists see opportunity uncertainty the virus has caused. A new scam has been identified by the Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s Office seeking to target the Hispanic population in Arkansas where businesses are charging exorbitant amounts of money for COVID-19 tests and for “immunity boosts” that will prevent or treat COVID-19, with no credible proof from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the Arkansas Health Department.

“Snake oil salesmen are taking advantage of vulnerable Arkansans by using fear to sell their expensive immunity boosts with some over $3,000,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “When a vaccine is approved by the federal government, the information will be shared far and wide, but until then Arkansans are urged to avoid anyone peddling fake, expensive COVID-19 cures.”

Rutledge is currently investigating Arkansas companies, including chiropractic and medical practices, that are peddling preventatives, treatments and cures for COVID-19 that are not approved by the FDA. These are often advertised as “immunity boosting” treatments. Unfortunately, there are currently no cures, treatments, lotions, or potions to treat COVID-19.

Attorney General Rutledge has offered the following tips for consumers about fraudulent COVID-19 cures and treatments.
Avoid paying exorbitant fees for COVID-19 tests. Instead, visit the Arkansas Department of Health’s website to find locations of mass testing and clinics offering COVID-19 tests at no cost to consumers.
Be cautious of health providers who claim they can cure, prevent, or lessen the effects of COVID-19 while charging high fees for their false claims.

For questions about COVID-19, including where to find testing locations, call the Arkansas Department of Health at 1-800-803-7847.

Find accurate information about COVID-19, including information about how it spreads, symptoms, prevention and treatment, what to do if you are sick and frequently asked questions, on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.  

IIf you have been scammed by a business or suspect a scam related to the COVID-19 cures, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

CAMDEN A&P COMMISSION MEETING CANCELED
The Camden A&P Commission will NOT meet on June 30, 2020 due to a lack of Business to be conducted.

 

NEW ADDITIONS TO MAIN STREET ARKANSAS-CAMDEN INCLUDED
LITTLE ROCK— Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is pleased to welcome several new Downtown Network programs and one new Main Street to the Main Street Arkansas program.

Having completed all the requirements, Calico Rock, Camden and Lonoke are new Arkansas Downtown Network programs. Main Street Paris moved up from Network status to designated Main Street this spring after completing the annual Main Street University course.

“We are delighted to add Paris to our roster of outstanding Main Street programs,” said Scott Kaufman, director of AHPP. “Downtown Network Communities are steppingstones to becoming designated Main Street programs. These programs play an important role in the revitalization of historic downtowns.”

Paris joins the following Main Street programs:
Argenta Downtown Council (North Little Rock)
Main Street Batesville
Main Street Blytheville
Conway Downtown Partnership
Main Street Dumas
Main Street El Dorado
Main Street Eureka Springs
64.6 Downtown (Fort Smith)
Main Street Helena
Downtown Jonesboro Alliance
Downtown Little Rock Partnership
SoMa 501(South Main Little Rock)
Main Street Osceola
Main Street Ozark
Main Street Paragould
Pine Bluff Downtown Development
Main Street Russellville
Main Street Searcy
Main Street Siloam Springs
Main Street Texarkana
Main Street West Memphis

Since 1984, Main Street Arkansas has been a leading advocate for downtown revitalization providing resources, education and professional assistance to spark life into Arkansas's traditional commercial areas.

The Main Street Arkansas team works closely with the 22 local Main Street programs and 18 Downtown Network Communities across the state. Main Street Arkansas staff members include: Greg Phillips, director; Susan Shaddox, interior design consultant; Hannah Ratzlaff, exterior design consultant; and Mark Miller, small business consultant. Main Street focuses on a four point approach as laid out by Main Street America which centers on Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion and Organization.
Learn more about Main Street Arkansas at https://www.arkansaspreservation.com/Programs/Main-Street-Arkansas/main-street-mission-history.
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is an agency of Arkansas Heritage. AHPP is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other divisions are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. 

 

FCC WILL VOTE AT JULY MEETING ON FINAL RULES DESIGNATING ‘988’ AS 3-DIGIT NUMBER FOR NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE
Rules Would Help Combat Rising Suicide Rates by Making It Easier for Americans in Crisis to Obtain Assistance from Trained Counselors

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2020—Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today presented his colleagues with draft rules to establish 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors.  The rules, if adopted by the Commission at its July 16 Open Meeting, would require all phone service providers to begin directing all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.  While this transition takes place, Americans who need help should continue to contact the Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats.

“988 will save lives.  Helping Americans in crisis connect to counselors trained in suicide prevention is one of the most important things we can do at the FCC,” said Chairman Pai.  “We believe that 988—which has an echo of the 911 number we all know as an emergency number—will help people access mental health services.  Establishing this special purpose number will also highlight the urgency of addressing rising suicide rates in America and reduce the stigma too often associated with seeking assistance from suicide prevention and mental health services.  I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting these final rules.  By doing so, we would send a message to every American:  You are not alone.”

If adopted, these rules would apply to all telecommunications carriers as well as all interconnected and one-way Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers.  They would be required to complete this transition by July 16, 2022.  The draft final rules reject a request from phone service providers for a longer transition period.  But they also reflect the real challenges of such a nationwide effort including the need for widespread network changes and providing time for Congress, other federal agencies, and local call centers to prepare for the expected increase in the volume of calls.  Under the proposed rules, calls to 988 would be directed to 1-800-273-TALK, which will remain operational before and after the 988 transition is completed.

An FCC staff report to Congress in 2019 proposed establishing 988 as the three-digit code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Staff analyzed various options and determined 988 was the best option for increasing access to crisis resources and ensuring the fastest possible transition. 
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of approximately 170 crisis centers.  The centers are supported by local and state, public and private sources, as well as with Congressional appropriations through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 

 

COTTON BILL TO LIMIT OVER-POLITICIZING OF SPECIAL PROSECUTORS
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) introduced a bill to require at least a 7-year gap between an individual’s serving on a special prosecutor team investigating a president or presidential candidate and that individual’s appointment to a Senate-confirmed position. By instituting a “cooling-off period,” the Restore Integrity of Special Prosecutors Act would eliminate the political incentive for individuals to use investigations as political weapons.

Elise Stefanik (R-New York) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The Mueller investigation, General Flynn’s prosecution, and the initial sentencing memo of Roger Stone each reflect the danger of using political prosecutors in politically charged investigations. Just this afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee hearing featured Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky—a prime example of a partisan prosecutor seeking favor with the Democratic Party. Our bill would restore public trust in future investigations by eliminating the opportunity for political gain in exchange for a partisan inquiry,” said Cotton.

“Special counsels and their staffs are to pursue the truth with unwavering integrity,” said Loeffler. “As we’ve recently seen, that mission has been clouded by self-interest or political bias for some. To prevent that from happening in the future, the Restore Integrity of Special Prosecutors Act will create a seven-year cooling-off period between an individual's appointment to a special counsel investigation or prosecution and when that individual could be nominated to a Senate-confirmed position. I'm proud to cosponsor this legislation that seeks to reestablish public trust in our federal justice system.”

“I’m proud to introduce the House companion bill to Senator Cotton’s legislation, which mandates a 7-year cooling off period for individuals who work on special counsel investigations of a sitting president or presidential candidate before they could be appointed to a Senate-confirmed position,” said Stefanik. “Using a special counsel investigation as a partisan tool and a means for career advancement is corrupt and the very definition of swampy.”
 

THE ARKANSAS MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. COMMISSION ANNOUNCES INITIATIVES IN LITTLE ROCK AND HOT SPRINGS COMMEMORATING THE 55TH ANNIVERSARY MILESTONE OF THE PASSAGE OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT
The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission partners with several agencies to kickoff statewide voter registration outreach

LITTLE ROCK - In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. organized a voter registration drive in Selma, Alabama. That day ended in violence, however, it set the foundation for the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  

There are many advantages to partnerships in the community, especially in the area of community awareness. As a state agency organized to teach Arkansans about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Commission honors this historic event by cordially inviting the public to assist us by participating in our 2020 Statewide Mass Voter Initiative G.O.T.V. (Get Out to Vote). The Commission will launch G.O.T.V. – “Get Out to Vote”, a nonpartisan, cooperative initiative to register more voters in response to recent reports of low voter turnout in local elections. The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission is a division of the Arkansas Department of Education. The events will take place on Saturday, June 27, 2020 in Little Rock and Hot Springs. Both are free and open to the public.

Little Rock -11:00 AM-2:00 PM, Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, 906 Broadway, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

Hot Springs- 5:00 PM-6:30 PM, Hot Springs Farmers Market, 121 Orange Street, Hot Springs, Arkansas 71913

“Grandma once said, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.  Therefore, it’s time for a change, says DuShun Scarbrough, Executive Director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. The “Get Out to Vote” campaign will be a nonpartisan collaborative effort in partnership with The State and Little Rock Branches of the NAACP, the Urban League, Arkansas Talks Broadcasting, Arkansas Better Dads, and The STAND Foundation to encourage citizens to vote or get registered to vote to commemorate this great and important event in history. We will host outreach programs and initiatives in all four corners of the state. Dr. King, once said, “the most important step we can make is that short walk to the ballot box.” Well-spoken by Dr. King who walked fifty miles from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights.”

This will be one of several events commemorating The Voting Rights Act of 1965 which applied a nationwide prohibition against the denial or abridgment of the right to vote.  The Act was signed into law on August 6, 1965, by President Lyndon Johnson.  It outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting.
During the G.O.T.V. Statewide Mass Voter Initiative – Getting Voters to the Poll  the AMLKC is sponsoring free adult memberships for the first ten (10) to sign up to join the NAACP Little Rock Branch and the first five (5) to sign up to join the Urban League of Arkansas. Arkansas Better Dads will be on hand to provide fatherhood packs to all fathers who attend.

The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission welcomes Angela Harrelson

His name was George Floyd.  In life, he was a single father of three, stood six feet, seven inches tall and had just moved to Minneapolis to start a new life.  His death shocked the world, sparking protests, discussions of race relations and community interactions with law enforcement around the world. Floyd was laid to rest in Houston, Texas next to his mother. 

Angela Harrelson is the maternal aunt of the late George Floyd. She promised his late mother that she would look after him. She talked to Floyd regularly after he moved to Minneapolis. Mrs. Harrelson will share her personal reflections and memories of her nephew.

Other confirmed special guests for the Little Rock event include:
State Representative Joy Springer, District 34
State Representative Denise Ennett, District 36
State Senator Will Bond, District 32
State Representative Tippi McCullough, District 33

Each public official will speak about the importance of voting and voter education. 

June 24, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 24, 2020
At the Wednesday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the number of cases in the state had climbed to 17,375, that's an increase of 697 from Wednesday. Hot spots include a correctional facility in Malvern and a nursing home facility in Magnolia. The number of Active Positives stands at 5,567. Hospitalizations increased by 19 to 267. The death toll due to COVID-19 grew by three to 240.

Of the new cases yesterday, the highest numbers were in Hot Spring County with 168 (likely most in the Ouachita Prison Unit), Washington County with 79, Benton County with 67, Pulaski County with 51, Sebastian County with 40, Faulkner County with 29, Yell County with 26, and Columbia County with 26.

Governor Hutchinson announced that he has ordered the number of contact traces to be doubled to 700 at a cost of $22 million. 

The state topped its goal of 120,000 COVID-19 tests administered during the month of June. That represents roughly 4% of the state's population. For the month of July, Governor Hutchinson set a goal on Wednesday afternoon of 180,000 tests. That represents 6% of the state's population.
At this time Ouachita County is showing 17 positive cases with 13 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 232 positive cases with 182 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 44 positive cases with 24 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing  6 positive cases with 3 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases.


As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,364,874 cumulative cases, 647,548 recoveries, and 121,662 deaths.Globally 9,323,932 cumulative cases, 4,677,740 recoveries, and 479,215 deaths.

Again, there are now 17,375 total cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. 5,567 are considered Active Positives. Hospitalizations increased by 19 to 267, while the total number of deaths due to the coronavirus increased by three to 240. We'll continue to keep you update, so stay tuned.


CENTRAL ARKANSAS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL TO DISTRIBUTE FOOD BOXES
The Central Arkansas Development Council will distribute food boxes to qualifying families in Benton AR in Saline County on July 1, 2020 beginning at 9:00 AM. Anyone living in CADC's Service Area may participate. Calhoun, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Pulaski, Saline, Sevier, and Union Counties.

Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) whose mission is to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty, to help vulnerable populations achieve their potential, and to build strong communities in Arkansas through community action will be holding an emergency food distribution in Saline County at the Saline County Fairgrounds on July 1, 2020. Food boxes will contain over 50 pounds of food, including meat, beans and vegetables. Central Arkansas Development Council hopes that by holding this distribution, we can alleviate some of the uncertainties many in the community are currently facing at this time. Customers will be asked to show I.D. and will be limited to one box per family. Families will have to meet income eligibility guidelines to qualify. Distributions will occur beginning at 9:00 AM until supplies run out. Anyone living in CADC’s service area is eligible to participate in the food distribution including those living in Calhoun, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Pulaski, Saline, Sevier, and Union Counties.

CADC would like to invite all news and media outlets to join and share in this event as we intend to bring joy, happiness, and much needed supplies to families across Arkansas during this pandemic. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” Ghandi.

Founded in 1965, Central Arkansas Development Council is a private nonprofit community action agency operating in 19 counties in the state of Arkansas. CADC is a local force in the War on Poverty providing a hand-up, promoting self-help in our neighborhoods and for our families. We are committed to providing opportunities for empowerment for individuals, families and communities. For more information on the distribution, visit our website at www.cadc.com, or contact your local CADC office.
 

VICKSBURG DISTRICT TO REOPEN SELECT RECREATION AREAS AT ARKANSAS LAKES JUNE 24
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District will reopen select recreation areas at its Arkansas lakes - Lake Ouachita, Lake Greeson and DeGray Lake - and incorporate preventative health measures beginning June 24.

Beaches and swimming areas will reopen, and visitors to these areas are encouraged to follow all guidance from local, state and federal officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That guidance includes practicing social distancing and wearing face masks when not in the water.

Picnic shelters, pavilions and group use areas will reopen, and information about the number of visitors in a group will be requested during the reservation process. Visitors to these areas must follow state directives for gatherings at large outdoor venues.

Signs with information about COVID-19 symptoms, measures to prevent the spread of the virus and social distancing have been installed in key locations at each facility, including shower houses, comfort stations, fee booths, bulletin boards, beaches, access roads, day use area parking lots and pavilions. Park rangers and other lake personnel are taking recommended precautions to reduce risk for visitors as well as themselves.

"After consulting with our local and state partners and other USACE offices, including the Little Rock District, we have decided to reopen select recreation areas at our Arkansas lakes," said USACE Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard. "The health and safety of our team, our community and our visitors remain our top priority, and we are taking measures to reduce risk. The pandemic is an ongoing and fluid challenge, and we will continue to monitor conditions and adjust operations as needed. We are eager to welcome visitors back to our facilities and thank them for their understanding."

Campgrounds and their accompanying amenities at Lake Ouachita, Lake Greeson and DeGray Lake reopened May 20, and reservations and payments for select campsites must be made in advance at Recreation.gov. For up-to-date information about campgrounds and other recreation operations, please visit the following link: https://nam11.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.usa.gov%2FxwfVT&amp;data=02%7C01%7C%7C01ff6fc18403464a9c2908d8184d8b88%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637286069540205332&amp;sdata=WTfg2KMzlEGYJhBSg0wRvCSWpalTXvTef3POik9kmN8%3D&amp;reserved=0.

Boat ramps, nature trails and fishing areas as well as nearby amenities remain open. Applications for special use permits will be reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis. The collection of all day use fees has been suspended until Oct. 1.

All playgrounds, visitor centers, field offices, amphitheaters and drinking fountains will remain closed until further notice. Interpretive programs will remain suspended until further notice. The USACE Vicksburg District temporarily closed select recreation site attractions across Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas to the public in March.

For more information about operational changes, the public may contact the following:
* Lake Ouachita: 501-767-2101
* DeGray Lake: 870-246-5502
* Lake Greeson: 870-285-2151

Located in southwest Arkansas, Lake Ouachita, Lake Greeson and DeGray Lake are flood control reservoirs with multiple additional missions, including hydropower, water supply and wildlife management. At these USACE recreation sites, and unlike sites managed by others, employees are responsible for the protection and maintenance of these critical missions.

The USACE Vicksburg District owns and operates more than 100 recreation areas across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana where millions of visitors enjoy fishing, camping, hunting, boating, hiking, swimming, geocaching and more every year. The district's 10 flood control reservoirs across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana provide numerous benefits to the region, including flood risk management, hydropower, water supply, wildlife management and recreation.

The USACE Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation's toughest challenges. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana that holds seven major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. The district is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.
 

ARIZONA ADOPTION ATTORNEY PLEADS GUILTY TO ALIEN SMUGGLING FOR FINANCIAL GAIN
Fayetteville, Arkansas – Acting U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes for the Western District of Arkansas, Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch of the FBI Little Rock Field Office and Peter Kapoukakis, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Miami Field Office announced today that Paul Petersen plead guilty to the offense of Conspiracy to Smuggle Illegal Aliens for Commercial Advantage and Private Financial Gain. The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks accepted the plea in the U.S. District Court in Fayetteville.

“This plea agreement is one more step on a long road towards putting an end to the illegal adoption practices that have long plagued the Marshallese community in our District,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Fowlkes.  “It is my sincere hope that this plea sends a strong message to those who would seek to take advantage of some of the more vulnerable members of our community.  We will continue to investigate these cases and will continue to seek justice for all the parties involved.  We will also continue to work to end this illegal adoption practice which is nothing more than a sophisticated scheme to not only take advantage of the Marshallese community, but also to swindle prospective adoptive parents out of large sums of money.”

According to the Plea Agreement filed in this case, the FBI, the DSS and local law enforcement, have been actively investigating the criminal activities of Paul Petersen, 44, of Mesa, Arizona, for several years. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement determined that the defendant, Paul Petersen, among other things, orchestrated the travel of several pregnant women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the Western District of Arkansas.  The purpose of this travel was for Petersen to arrange adoption of their children by families living in the United States.  

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is an island country near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, slightly west of the International Date Line.  In 1983, the United States entered into a Compact of Free Association (hereinafter, the “Compact”) with the RMI government.  The United States and the RMI signed an Amended Compact in 2003, which Congress codified at Public Law 108-188.  Section 141 of the Compact grants RMI citizens the ability to freely enter and take up employment within the United States.  Section 141(b) prohibits RMI citizens from entering the United States under the Compact agreement if their travel is for the purpose of adoption.

According to the Plea Agreement, the Defendant, Paul Petersen, is a licensed attorney who practices law in Arizona, Utah, and Arkansas.  During the course of the investigation, FBI and DSS agents discovered that Petersen used credit card accounts that he controlled to purchase airline tickets for several women, all citizens of the RMI who did not have official authorization to enter or reside in the United States, to travel from the RMI to the Western District of Arkansas.  This travel arranged and funded by Petersen was in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act because the women were all citizens of the RMI and were not eligible for admission into the United States under the terms of the Compact.  According to State of Arkansas Circuit Court records, the families who adopted these children paid Petersen significant sums of money for him to act as a legal facilitator of the adoptions.  Finally, also according to the Plea Agreement, witness interviews conducted by the agents investigating Petersen revealed that it was part of the conspiracy that Petersen’s co-conspirators offered the women $10,000 to induce them to travel to the United States and consent to the adoptions.

“By preying upon both pregnant women from the Marshall Islands and loving Arkansan couples who wanted to adopt children, Mr. Peterson acted in a despicable manner and profited off individuals who simply sought to enrich their families,” said FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch. “We were proud to work alongside our partners at the Diplomatic Security Service on this investigation, and we hope Mr. Peterson’s case will serve as a warning to others who seek to financially benefit from illegal adoption practices.”

"The Diplomatic Security Service would like to thank our partners in this case, including the RMI government,” said DSS Special Agent in Charge Kapoukakis.  “Together, we have prevented further victimization of Marshallese women and abuse of the Compact of Free Association between our countries that permits visa-free travel to the United States under certain conditions. The DSS remains firmly committed to leveraging our worldwide reach and partnerships to prosecute anyone who willfully violates federal law to exploit innocent and vulnerable families.”
Petersen’s sentence will be determined by the court at a later date. Petersen faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for alien smuggling.

The FBI and the DSS conducted the investigation. Acting U.S. Attorney Clay Fowlkes, Deputy Criminal Chief Kim Harris, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sydney Butler are prosecuting the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division also assisted in the investigation.

OUACHITA COUNTY JULY 4TH HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension Offvice will be closed Friday July 3rd in observance of the 4th of July Holiday.

DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR THE PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM RAPIDLY APPROACHING

The deadline to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program is ONLY 6 DAYS away on June 30th. To apply for a forgivable PPP loan, and join over 40,000 Arkansas businesses who have been able to keep countless Arkansans employed, we encourage you to contact your lender TODAY.

If you were not granted funding the first time around NOW is the time to consider contacting your lending officer and getting in line. If you already applied you shouldn't have to reapply but verify with your lending officer that you are still in the right spot in the que. One way to verify if your original application was submitted and received is you should have received a pending loan number.

Breakdown of the additional funds:
PPP/EIDL
· $250 billion unrestricted for PPP
· $ 60 billion in PPP set aside for smaller institutions:
· $30 billion for assets less than $10 billion
· $30 billion for assets between $10 billion and $50 billion
· $60 billion for EIDL
· $50 billion for EIDL loans
· $10 billion for EIDL Advance grants
 ·$2.1 billion for SBA administrative expenses 

Health
$75B for hospitals (same language as PHSSEF from CARES)
$25B for testing ($11B distributed to states, rest will go to federal agencies for research, development, and testing)

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM (PPP) INFORMATION SHEET:
BORROWERS The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone. The loan amounts will be forgiven as long as:
· The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made; and
· Employee and compensation levels are maintained. Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs. Loan payments will be deferred for 6 months.
When can I apply?
· Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
· Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
· Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans as soon as they are approved and enrolled in the program. Where can I apply? You can apply through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating. Visit www.sba.gov for a list of SBA lenders. Who can apply? All businesses – including nonprofits, veterans organizations, Tribal business concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors – with 500 or fewer employees can apply. Businesses in certain industries can have more than 500 employees if they meet applicable SBA employee-based size standards for those industries (click HERE for additional detail). For this program, the SBA’s affiliation standards are waived for small businesses (1) in the hotel and food services industries (click HERE for NAICS code 72 to confirm); or (2) that are franchises in the SBA’s Franchise Directory (click HERE to check); or (3) that receive financial assistance from small business investment companies licensed by the SBA. A
dditional guidance may be released as appropriate.

What do I need to apply?
You will need to complete the Paycheck Protection Program loan application and submit the application with the required documentation to an approved lender that is available to process your application by June 30, 2020. Click HERE for the application. What other documents will I need to include in my application? You will need to provide your lender with payroll documentation. Do I need to first look for other funds before applying to this program? No. We are waiving the usual SBA requirement that you try to obtain some or all of the loan funds from other sources (i.e., we are waiving the Credit Elsewhere requirement). How long will this program last? Although the program is open until June 30, 2020, we encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap and lenders need time to process your loan. How many loans can I take out under this program? Only one. What can I use these loans for? You should use the proceeds from these loans on your:
· Payroll costs, including benefits;
· Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020;
· Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020; and
· Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020. What counts as payroll costs?

Payroll costs include:
· Salary, wages, commissions, or tips (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee);
· Employee benefits including costs for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits including insurance premiums; and payment of any retirement benefit;
· State and local taxes assessed on compensation; and
· For a sole proprietor or independent contractor: wages, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.

How large can my loan be?
Loans can be for up to two months of your average monthly payroll costs from the last year plus an additional 25% of that amount. That amount is subject to a $10 million cap. If you are a seasonal or new business, you will use different applicable time periods for your calculation. Payroll costs will be capped at $100,000 annualized for each employee.

How much of my loan will be forgiven?
You will owe money when your loan is due if you use the loan amount for anything other than payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities payments over the 8 weeks after getting the loan. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs. You will also owe money if you do not maintain your staff and payroll.
·Number of Staff: Your loan forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease your full-time employee headcount.
· Level of Payroll: Your loan forgiveness will also be reduced if you decrease salaries and wages by more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000 annualized in 2019.
· Re-Hiring: You have until June 30, 2020 to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020. How can I request loan forgiveness? You can submit a request to the lender that is servicing the loan. The request will include documents that verify the number of full-time equivalent employees and pay rates, as well as the payments on eligible mortgage, lease, and utility obligations. You must certify that the documents are true and that you used the forgiveness amount to keep employees and make eligible mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments. The lender must make a decision on the forgiveness within 60 days. What is my interest rate? 0.50% fixed rate. When do I need to start paying interest on my loan? All payments are deferred for 6 months; however, interest will continue to accrue over this period. When is my loan due? In 2 years.

Can I pay my loan earlier than 2 years? Yes. There are no prepayment penalties or fees.

Do I need to pledge any collateral for these loans? No. No collateral is required. Do I need to personally guarantee this loan? No. There is no personal guarantee requirement. However, if the proceeds are used for fraudulent purposes, the U.S. government will pursue criminal charges against you.

What do I need to certify?
As part of your application, you need to certify in good faith that:
· Current economic uncertainty makes the loan necessary to support your ongoing operations.
· The funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or to make mortgage, lease, and utility payments.
· You have not and will not receive another loan under this program.
· You will provide to the lender documentation that verifies the number of full-time equivalent employees on payroll and the dollar amounts of payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities for the eight weeks after getting this loan.
· Loan forgiveness will be provided for the sum of documented payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
· All the information you provided in your application and in all supporting documents and forms is true and accurate. Knowingly making a false statement to get a loan under this program is punishable by law.
· You acknowledge that the lender will calculate the eligible loan amount using the tax documents you submitted. You affirm that the tax documents are identical to those you submitted to the IRS. And you also understand, acknowledge, and agree that the lender can share the tax information with the SBA’s authorized representatives, including authorized representatives of the SBA Office of Inspector General, for the purpose of compliance with SBA Loan Program Requirements and all SBA reviews.

JUNE 23, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 23, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson held his Tuesday afternoon Press Conference in Mountain Home in North Central Arkansas. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas stands at 16,678. That's an increase of 595 from Monday. 212 of those new cases are located in correctional facilities. 5,221 cases are considered Active Positive. That's an increase of 158 from Monday. Hospitalizations increased by 11 to 248. The death toll due to the coronavirus increased by 10 to 237. 

Governor Hutchinson discussed the UAMS modeling forecast, which predicts a peak in Arkansas around September 30th. The modeling predicts on September 30th that the total cases would be at 133,056, with 3,326 hospitalizations. The Governor says the goal is to beat that model forecast.

Dr. Nate Smith, the Secretary of the Department of Health, also spoke about the UAMS modeling forecast. Dr Smith says that COVID-19 can spread very quickly, especially when the safety guidelines are not being followed.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 17 positive cases with 12 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 227 positive cases with 180 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 43 positive cases with 23 recovered and 2 deaths, Dallas County is showing 6 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases.

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas grew by 595 to 16,678. Of those new cases since Monday, 212 were in correctional facilities, and 383 were in the community. Active Positives stand at 5,221, an increase of 158 from Monday. The death toll grew by 10 to 237. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO 7 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING AND FIREARMS POSSESSION
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Tyler Merle Cable, age 34, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced on June 22, 2020 to a total of 84 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and one count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

In the fall of 2019, Detectives with the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force launched an investigation into drug trafficking in the Western District of Arkansas.  In September of 2019, detectives conducted a controlled purchase of methamphetamine and a firearm from Cable.

Cable was indicted by a federal grand jury in November of 2019 and entered a guilty plea in February of 2020. 

This case was investigated by the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations Fayetteville. Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

CITY OF CAMDEN INDEPENDENCE DAY HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The Public Works Department, City of Camden and Transfer Station will be closed on Friday, July 3, 2020 in observance of Independence Day.
Trash pick-up will run on regular schedule routes on Friday, July 3, 2020.
If you have questions, you can call the City of Camden Sanitation Department at 870-837-5573.


 

EMERSON NATIVE JOEY BAKER GIVES BACK TO SAU WITH ENDOWMENT
MAGNOLIA -- A desire to generously give back to his community in a significant way inspired Joey Baker (77) to endow the Emerson, Arkansas Scholarship for students from his hometown who choose to make Southern Arkansas University their college home.

“Emerson School and SAU helped shape who I am today,” Baker said. “I want to give back to them both in a meaningful way.”

Baker, who graduated from Emerson High School in 1973, still identifies with those students today. “I see them in the same way that I was in 1973. Money was such a big issue. I want to be able to help out.”

Scholarships will be awarded to Emerson graduates based on academic and financial need, as determined by SAU’s Scholarship Committee. There is no essay requirement.

Baker chose Southern State College for its proximity to his home as well as affordability. (The college changed its name to SAU in his senior year.) He majored in marketing and obtained his BBA in 1977 – a memorable year in his life.

That year, Baker served as president of the student body at SAU. It was also the year the bell tower was constructed on campus and that Dr. Harold Brinson was welcomed as president. A family tragedy, however, showed Baker firsthand the commitment to caring for students that SAU has always demonstrated.

“The students, faculty and administration were unbelievable in their support for me and my family,” Baker said. “It is examples like this that set SAU apart from other institutions.”

He can attest to the true “family feel” of SAU and observes that this “culture of caring” continues today. “They really do care,” Baker said of faculty and administration.

Richard Samuel, a marketing professor at SAU, mentored Baker. “He was instrumental in me getting my foot in the door for the education field,” Baker said. “One day, Mr. Samuel asked me if I would be interested in teaching marketing at El Dorado High School. At the time, I was a college graduate working in the oil field construction business. It was during the recession of the late 1970s, and I took whatever work I could find. I jumped at the chance to teach.”

However, Baker lacked the education credit hours to go with his business degree. “Mr. Samuel said, ‘no problem, I will work with our Education Department to get you the hours you need while you are teaching.’” For the next couple of years, Samuel helped Baker obtain the necessary credits to become a certified teacher. “I applaud SAU for thinking outside the educational box,” Baker said.

Teaching at El Dorado introduced Baker to the education field, but he soon moved on to politics. “I left teaching to work for Arkansas Secretary of State Paul Riviere when he ran for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District,” Baker said. “Another person that I happened to meet on that campaign was Dr. Trey Berry.”

After politics, Baker went to work for the Pharmacists Mutual Company providing insurance and financial services for Arkansas pharmacists for 28 years. He has been teaching as an adjunct professor at UAMS College of Pharmacy for 21 years. “I teach a personal finance course for third-year pharmacy students.”

He also teaches personal finance at Harding University’s College of Pharmacy. Utilizing his teaching and life experiences, Baker has written a book to be published later this year, Baker’s Dirty Dozen Principles for Financial Independence. He believes that giving back will make one healthy in heart, body and soul.

He and his wife, Brenda, who retired as a math teacher from Benton Public Schools, have two daughters, Lindsey and Brooke. Lindsey holds an undergraduate degree from Ouachita Baptist University and a MAT from SAU. She teaches middle school social studies at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock. Brooke also has an undergraduate degree from OBU and a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a social studies teacher at Kent Place School in Madison, N.J., and has been accepted into the doctoral program at UCLA to study Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Baker received his MBA from the University of Central Arkansas.
 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE JOINS PARTNERSHIP TO SUPPORT FULL CIRCLE FARMCORPS MEMBERS
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture recently partnered with the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas to grow the center’s national service program, Full Circle FarmCorps. Full Circle FarmCorps is a state AmeriCorps program that promotes food security and strengthens communities through farming, teaching, and outreach. This summer 20 AmeriCorps members will serve 675 hours each at school and community gardens throughout Pulaski County.

“It was a natural fit for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture to partner with the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.  “Farm to school education is a triple win for our state: our children learn about agriculture and locally grown food, our Arkansas farmers are supported, and our local economy thrives.”
Farm to school programs include some combination of school gardening, local food procurement, and traditional or garden-based education about food, nutrition, agriculture, and/or natural resources. Farm to school improves public health, strengthens the local economy and local communities, improves food access and food abundance for all, and protects the environment.

St. Joseph Center is excited to see so many pieces of history come full circle for this former orphanage, school, and farm,” said Sandy DeCoursey, Executive Director of St. Joseph Center.  “Full Circle FarmCorps carries on this historic mission of planting hope, sowing knowledge, and growing lives in the communities they serve.”

"Since January, Full Circle FarmCorps has harvested nearly 13,000 pounds of produce,” said A.B. Stewart, Program Director of St. Joseph Center. “These summer members have signed on at a critical time to further increase our community response in tackling hunger.”
Joining eight others who began their service term earlier, the 20 new AmeriCorps members will spend 50% of their time at a school and 50% of their time at a community space where they will support gardens, teach nutrition, and engage volunteers.

The AmeriCorps members will be serving at the following sites: Gibbs Magnet International School, Immaculate Conception, Lake Nixon Preschool, Pulaski Heights Elementary, Forest Park Elementary, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Dunbar Community Garden, Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center, Heifer International Urban Farm, North Little Rock Fit 2 Live, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Centennial Garden, Woodruff Community Garden, Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light, and the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas.

At these sites, members will serve on teams to grow gardens, leverage volunteers, educate children through Growing My Plate, a curriculum created by Apple Seeds, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, and UAMS.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit agriculture.arkansas.gov.

The St. Joseph Center of Arkansas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based out of a historic 56,000-square-foot building and resting on 63 acres.  Its mission is to preserve and restore the historic property through sustainable farming, food production, education, agri-tourism, and community development.  To get involved, visit stjosephcenter.org.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, service, and civic engagement.  The Arkansas Service Commission, known as EngageAR, manages state AmeriCorps subgrants, and seeks to empower communities through service.  For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

PRIDE NAMED NEW ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF LEARNING SERVICES
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key is pleased to announce that Dr. Kiffany Pride has been named the new assistant commissioner for the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Learning Services division. Pride will assume her new role July 1 after the departure of Stacy Smith.

“Dr. Pride brings a wealth of experience to our leadership team, especially in the area of literacy,” Key said. “During the brief period she was assigned as a literacy coach for LRSD under the Office of Coordinated Support and Service, the schools in which she worked saw dramatic improvements in student outcomes. Since coming to the agency, Dr. Pride has helped build and maintain the momentum of the RISE Arkansas reading initiative. She is a dynamic leader of learning, and we are excited to have her leading the Learning Services team at the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.”

Pride started working for DESE as a Response to Intervention coordinator for literacy, a position she held from August 2018 until February 2019. She then served as a R.I.S.E. (Reading Initiative for Student Excellence) assessor until August 2019, when she assumed her current role as the director of curriculum and assessment. 

Prior to joining DESE, Pride was the program administrator for the Pulaski County Special School District’s Department of Learning Services from July 2012 to June 2018. Her previous experience also includes serving as a teacher, literacy coach, and athletic coach for the Little Rock School District. 

Pride has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Hendrix College in Conway, a Master of Science in Middle Childhood Education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a Master of Science in Reading and Literacy from Walden University in Minneapolis, and an Education Specialist in Educational Leadership and a Doctorate in Education in Educational Leadership from Harding University in Searcy.

In addition, Pride is a member of several professional organizations, including the Mid-South Educational Research Association, the Arkansas Reading Association, and the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators.

COTTON URGES ATTORNEY GENERAL TO BRING CHARGES AGAINST VIOLENT MOBS
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr urging the Department of Justice to bring charges against mobs toppling statues across the country. The letter follows a floor speech by Senator Cotton on the danger of mob rule earlier on Monday. The full text of the letter is below .

Dear Attorney General Barr,
Violent mobs have, in recent weeks, defaced and torn down statues, memorials, and monuments around our country. These criminals masquerade as protestors exercising their lawful right to peaceably assemble, but there can be no right to destroy public or private property. To borrow from Abraham Lincoln-whose Memorial in our nation's capital was also defaced-"there is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law."

On Friday, this mobocratic spirit reached an absurd conclusion with the tearing down of a statue of Ulysses S. Grant in San Francisco. That would be General Grant, the commander of the Union forces, who destroyed the Confederate Army and whose very initials captured his tenacious, unrelenting approach: "unconditional surrender." And it would be President Grant, the statesman who smashed the Ku Klux Klan, signed the first major civil-rights legislation, and presided over passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. When the mob tears down a statue of U.S. Grant, it's not about the Civil War-it's because they hate America.

And that's just one example. Elsewhere, mobs have also destroyed monuments to George Washington, Francis Scott Key, Saint Junipero Serra, and Christopher Columbus, among others. It's past time to stop the mob; these vandals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Unfortunately, local authorities, who normally would prosecute such crimes, have proven unwilling in many cases to uphold the rule of law. In some cities, it appears that feckless politicians have directed police to stand idly by while mobs rampage.

Thus, I urge the Department of Justice to bring charges against these criminals. They aren't exactly criminal masterminds, typically filming their crimes and posting the videos on social media. Federal laws such as the Anti-Riot Act and the Veterans Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act should cover some crimes. Other federal laws may also apply.

I commend your efforts against rioting and looting earlier this month. Regrettably, there's more work yet to quell the mob. The country is fortunate to have an Attorney General up to the task.

June 22, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 22, 2020
In his Monday afternoon Press Conference, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the total number of COVID-19 cases statewide had reached 16,083. The number of Active Positives climbed to 5,063. While hospitalizations decreased by seven to 237, the death toll rose by two to 227. 

Governor Hutchinson reported that the total coronavirus tests administered in June exceeded the goal of 120,000 for the month, as the testing total reached 120,053. That represents about 4% of the state's population being tested during June. The positivity rate is 6.3%. Governor Hutchinson says that he and his team continue to take COVID-19 very seriously.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said that testing would continue in July and that goal would be set and announced soon. The Governor announced that of the new cases, counties with the highest numbers were Washington with 124, Hot Spring with 85, and Benton with 78. Most, if not all, of the new cases in Hot Spring County are in the Ouachita Prison Unit.

Most of Monday afternoon's Press Conference centered around hospital capacity. Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, says that he's encouraged with the number of available hospital beds, Intensive Care Unit space, and the number of ventilators that the state has. Plus, Dr. Smith says that the state has the capability to expand this capacity even more if needed.

Officials with Baptist Health, CHI St Vincent's, and UAMS agreed that the hospital capacity is available if needed. The representatives from three of the bigger hospitals in the state say that regular patients are now coming back to the hospitals for elective medical procedures and surgeries that many had delayed from having earlier. 

At this time Ouachita County is showing 17 positive cases with 12 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 224 positive cases with 176 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 38 positive cases with 22 recovered and 2 deaths, Dallas County is showing 6 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas topped 16,000 on Monday. The number of active positive cases topped 5,000.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

To watch the video of today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/I1FZvHJaOns
We'll continue to keep you updated. So, stay tuned."

OPED BOARD OF DIRECTORS BOARD MEETING
The OPED Board of Directors will meet Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 10:00 A.M. in the OPED Training Room located at 570 Ben Lane SE, in Camden. The agenda includes Audience Participation, the Approval of Minutes and Financial Reports from May 2020. James Lee Silliman will rundown an Overview of Contacts he has made. There will be a Workforce Project Update and an update on the AEDC's Competitive Communities.

Please wear a mask if you have one. There will be hand sanitizer available. Social distancing will be observed in seating. The doors to meeting area will be open. There will be packets on tables.

RSVP will be required. RSVP to 836-2210 and leave a message or email oped@att.net  by June 23rd by 2:00 p.m. to allow OPED to prepare for social distancing seating.

There will be reserved space for media. Please do not attend if you have a cough or fever. Reminder to maintain a minimum six-foot distance from other people. Do not shake hands or engage in any unnecessary physical contact.

The next scheduled Board Meeting  will be July 22, 2020

COVID-19 WEEKEND UPDATE
The coronavirus count in Arkansas topped 15,000 over the weekend. The state's death toll due to COVID-19 increased to 224 as of Saturday afternoon. Locally in Ouachita County, the total cases reached 17 Saturday afternoon, with five considered active positives. In Union County, the total cases climbed to 223 on Saturday, with 36 currently active, and 13 deaths have been recorded. Columbia County has 32 total cases with nine active currently, and a death toll of two. Nevada County has 87 cases, with 25 currently active, and two deaths. Clark County is up to 50 cases, with seven active positives. Dallas County is up to six cases with four currently active. Calhoun County is still the only county in the state to not report a COVID-19 cases as of yet.

Governor Asa Hutchinson opened up the most recent press conference on Friday afternoon with some good unemployment news. The unemployment rate in Arkansas for the month of May declined by 1.3% to 9.5%. With the national unemployment rate at 13.3%, Arkansas is fairing better with job numbers compared to other states. 
Governor Hutchinson also had good news for Emergency Medical Service workers Friday. The state CARES Act Steering Committee has approved payments for E.M.T.'s and paramedics that will total over $12 million dollars. Governor Hutchinson says that over five thousand E.M.T.'s and paramedics will benefit from bonus payments covering the weeks of April 5th through May 30th. The amount paid will be $125 per week for those who worked 20 to 39 hours, and $250 per week for those who worked 40 hours or more.

Governor Hutchinson reported that the positivity rate from COVID-19 tests thus far is 6.5%, again that's well below the national average. The state is on track to achieve the goal of testing over 120,000 Arkansans during the month of June. That represents roughly 4% of the state's population. 
Governor Hutchinson also announced Friday afternoon that the Arkansas Department of Health has posted new guidelines on its website recommending that Arkansans wear face coverings in all indoor and outdoor environments where they could come within six feet of people who are not from their household.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said Saturday that the recent growth of cases among the Hispanic community appears to be accelerating. Hispanics make up less than 8% of the state's population but accounted for 23% of the state's total cases as of Saturday, according to the state website. Dr. Dillaha says a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the state analyzing Health Department data to study how transmission is occurring among Hispanics and Marshallese, who have also been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Dr. Dillaha added that physical distancing and wearing masks have not been commonly used in those populations as protective measures, and the state is trying to determine what can be done to help communicate the need for that. In addition to outbreaks connected to Hispanic communities, Dr. Dillaha said the Health Department has traced infections to church gatherings, funerals, and other community events, adding that it shows when people don't wear cloth face coverings and don't maintain social distancing, it's very easy for spread to occur.

Again, there are now over 15,000 total cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. The death toll due to the coronavirus in Arkansas has now increased to 224 through Saturday. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

CHILCOAT NAMED DIRECTOR OF ARKANSAS STATE LIBRARY
LITTLE ROCK — Jennifer Chilcoat has been named the next director of the Arkansas State Library. Chilcoat, the current deputy director, replaces Carolyn Ashcraft, who is retiring July 1. 

Chilcoat brings 30 years of library experience to the position, including 28 years at Arkansas public libraries. She has served as the deputy director of the Arkansas State Library since August 2018, where she oversees the Library Development Department, the Information Services Department, and the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.
Chilcoat also has served as the library’s state data coordinator for Arkansas and has spearheaded statewide efforts to maximize the power of libraries in achieving a complete count for the 2020 Census.

“When I hired Jennifer as my deputy director in 2018, it was with the understanding that I was looking to retire in a couple of years,” Ashcraft said. “She has been like a sponge, soaking up as much information as possible, learning about state government and our agency, and preparing for the opportunity to be the next state librarian. There will be a time of transition, but I know she has the skills necessary to lead our agency into this next decade.”

Before joining the staff at the State Library, Chilcoat spent 28 years at the Central Arkansas Library System, where she served in various capacities, such as a reference librarian, branch manager, head of human resources, construction coordinator, and interim deputy director.
“The move from CALS to the Arkansas State Library was natural for me because I get energized by empowering other librarians to do their best work,” Chilcoat said. “At ASL, I get to empower librarians around the entire state, not just those in my local community. Now, as director of the agency, I can ensure that the issues we face in our state are heard on the national stage.”  

Chilcoat earned bachelor’s degrees in English and German, as well as a Master of Science in Library and Information Science, from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She currently coordinates a Parenting of Teens class at Second Presbyterian Church and serves as an assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America Troop 30, both in Little Rock.

CENTRAL ARKANSAS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL TO HOLD BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING SATURDAY, JUNE 27, 2020 AT 10:00 AM.
Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) whose mission is to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty, to help vulnerable populations achieve their potential, and to build strong communities in Arkansas through community action will have a board meeting Saturday, June 27, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will be held by Zoom and/or conference call. The public is invited to join the meeting and may contact 501-315-1121 for information to join the meeting.

Founded in 1965, Central Arkansas Development Council is a private nonprofit community action agency operating in 19 counties in the state of Arkansas. CADC is a local force in the War on Poverty providing a hand-up, promoting self-help in our neighborhoods and for our families. We are committed to providing opportunities for empowerment for individuals, families and communities. For more information on the distribution, visit our website at www.cadc.com, or contact your local CADC office.

June 19, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 19, 2020
703 new COVID-19 cases were reported Friday afternoon in Arkansas to increase the overall total to 14,631. It's the largest increase among community cases in a single day so far. Hospitalizations statewide increased by five to 231. The death toll due to the coronavirus increased by six to 214. Counties with the largest number if new cases yesterday were Washington with 112, Pulaski with 53, Sevier with 44, Sebastian with 26, Faulkner with 27, and Yell with 21.

Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the briefing by recognizing that is was Juneteenth and announced that he had signed a proclamation for the important day.
with some good unemployment news. The unemployment rate in Arkansas for the month of May declined by 1.3% to 9.5%. With the national unemployment rate at 13.3%, Arkansas is fairing better with job numbers compared to other states. 

Governor Hutchinson also had good news for Emergency Medical Service workers. The state CARES Act Steering Committee has approved payments for E.M.S. workers that will total over $12 million dollars. Governor Hutchinson says that over five thousand E.M.S. workers will benefit.

Governor Hutchinson reported that 5,167 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the previous 24 hour period. The positivity rate thus far is 6.5%, again that's well below the national average. The state has conducted over 92,000 tests in June, and is on track to achieve the goal of testing over 120,000 Arkansans during the month. That represents roughly 4% of the state's population. 

Governor Hutchinson also announced Friday afternoon that the Arkansas Department of Health is issuing new guidelines for face coverings.

Ouachita County is showing 17 positive cases with 12 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 218 positive cases with 174 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 29 positive cases with 20 recovered and 2 deaths, Dallas County is showing 4 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. These numbers will be updated later today.

Again, there are now 14,631 total cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. That's an increase of 703 from the previous day. It's the largest single day increase yet among community cases. The death toll due to the coronavirus in Arkansas has now increased to 214. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.
 

20th STAR SPANGLED SPECTACULAR - CORRECTED
The regions largest 4th of July Fireworks Display and Live Concert event returns for the 20th annual CAMDEN STAR SPANGLED SPECTACULAR on Saturday July 4th in Camden, AR. Camden, Ark.,– Join us at the Camden Municipal Airport on Saturday, July 4th for the 20th annual Star Spangled Spectacular. Enjoy an evening with great live music, a special recognizing of our Veterans, all ending with the largest professional fireworks display in South Arkansas.  Live musical entertainment will be featured throughout the evening with local talent, the McKelvin Brothers, kicking off at 6:30PM. They will be joined at 7PM by Shanna Dorey for the singing of the National Anthem, followed by NBC’s The Voice finalist, L. B. Crew, and ending the evening with the headliner, American Idol winner, Kris Allen. Local veterans (past and those presently serving) will enjoy special VIP parking. COVID-19 guidelines will bring some changes to this year’s event. Due to guidelines this year’s show will not have inflatables for the kids or concessions. Attendees are encouraged to bring your own drinks and snacks. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets to sit by your vehicles as you enjoy this year’s event.    This year will bring a larger professional fireworks display for your enjoyment. Come on out to the Camden Municipal Airport to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment. All the programs and entertainment will be broadcast live on KCXY, Y95, 95.3FM. The Fireworks show will feature patriotic music to be broadcast on 89.5 FM, KCAC SAU Tech Radio.  This year’s event is brought to you by our title sponsor, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and the Camden & Ouachita County Ministerial Alliance, Camden A & P Commission and local businesses and industry.

 

NEXT WEEK AT SAAC: CAMP WITH MR. JORGE
The South Arkansas Arts Center's Virtual Summer Camp will continue June 22-26 with videos from artist Jorge Villegas. Mr. Jorge will take students through four visual art activities focusing on the beauty that can be found in the world around us by using our own four senses.
This summer, all of SAAC's camps are presented via the tuition-free Virtual Summer Camp, which can be accessed via computer, tablet, or smartphone. Each week, an additional artist's video lessons will be added to the library, available at SAAC's website at www.saac-arts.org. Lessons can be completed on your own schedule, and at your own pace.

Jorge's videos will begin on June 22, with each video delving into discovering art within an aspect of the natural world. Mr. Jorge will offer instruction and inspiration for the creation of a paper butterfly, trees created from natural shapes, and observations of the natural beauty. Finally, students can create their own interpretation of Notre Dame cathedral's famous rose window.

"I am thrilled and honored to have the chance to be a part of this video project," said Jorge. "The South Arkansas Arts Center is in so many ways a vital part of this community, by providing an outlet for expression. That outlet is essential for emotional good health, shaping who we are, and providing identity."

Jorge, who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a talented multidisciplinary artist and educator. A master drawer, he has created everything from large-scale murals and theatrical backdrops to detailed portraits in his own career. He became an American citizen in 1993, and he has been an arts educator for more than 40 years, working with adults and children of all levels of ability to help them see the world just a little differently.

"What is art? Art is many things," says Jorge. "Art is seeing, feeling, and thinking about the world. Art lets you use your mind and all your senses. I cannot think of a more important time to unleash the power of our own creativity, and the possibility to produce a healthy harmonic change in our lives." 

Visit the website at www.saac-arts.org to access the summer camp videos or register a student. By registering, SAAC will be able to keep you informed of new camp announcements and program updates. Best of all, students can enjoy summer camp at any time, choosing to complete the lessons day by day, week by week, or save them up to complete all at once. Each instructor will include a supply list of materials and all the information needed to complete the projects in their videos.

For more information about Virtual Summer camp, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY HOLDS IN-STATE UNDERGRADUATE TUITION
MAGNOLIA – The Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees met Thursday, June 18, 2020, in the Reynolds Center Grand Hall on the SAU campus. The Board approved the 2020-2021 University system budget as presented. 

SAU held the in-state undergraduate tuition constant showing no increase per credit hour, and mandatory student fees were unchanged but reflected a temporary transfer of $1 from the student activity enrichment fee to the health services fee.  Tuition and fees for off-campus undergraduate students were held flat. The food service contract rose by 3.1 percent, precipitating a slight increase to student meal plans.

The University budgeted expenditures $6,762,722 lower than the previous fiscal year. Due to a forecasted decline in enrollment, state funding reductions, and contractual increases, the University took many actions to balance the budget. Unfilled positions were frozen or restructured to help offset the anticipated decline in revenue. Additionally, budgeted expenditures for graduate assistants, student and contract labor were significantly reduced. Other savings were captured by reductions to non-fixed or non-contractual supply and service accounts and to travel budgets.

The University prioritized essential operations and employee retention throughout the budget process. While currently there are no workforce reductions due to decreased revenues, changes were implemented to employee benefits to balance the budget. Employees will see an increase in health insurance premium contribution rates, and SAU will reduce the employer retirement match to state levels. The freeze on unfilled positions comes at a cost to existing employees to create the robust experience students are accustomed to having at SAU but with fewer resources, a situation the institution hopes to improve as the economy improves.

The Board-approved SAU-Tech budget included no increase in tuition for the sixth straight year and left student apartment rates unchanged. The Tech balanced budget included major reductions to supplies and services, travel, equipment, contingency funds and institutional funded student labor to offset projected decreases in funding.

During his opening comments, system president Dr. Trey Berry said SAU is working tirelessly to ensure that students return to campus safely and to the quality they expect. He expressed his gratitude to faculty and staff for their efforts to successfully reopen the campus. “We are going to get through this together, and we’ll be stronger for it.”

SAU is reopening in phases, with the first having begun on June 15 and the second to begin July 6. Two committees were established to make sure the reopening adheres to all safety guidelines. Berry praised the committees for their hard work, noting the risk-management team has met several times to discuss the over-arching situation. “They have done a wonderful job,” he said.

A re-opening committee consisting of faculty and staff and led by Dr. David Lanoue and Dr. Donna Allen has met frequently to establish policies and procedures for the fall. “They have spent hours looking at state and federal guidelines to get us ready,” Berry said, thanking all committee members.

He informed the Board that the fall semester will begin a week earlier than normal, on August 11, and end before Thanksgiving, to keep students as safe as possible. Spring and Summer Commencement will be held on Aug. 7-8 in Wilkins Stadium. “We look forward to celebrating the achievements of our graduates,” said Berry. Social distancing will be observed during the ceremonies.

Berry said SAU has purchased hundreds of personal protection devices for the fall including masks, hand sanitizers, testing machines and plexi-glass shields for use in high-traffic areas. People will also be required to wear masks inside buildings.

Regarding the upcoming year, Berry thanked the budget committee for its work over the past few months. “It has been a very unusual budget process. The committee has had many frank discussions,” Berry said. “We have a tremendous faculty and staff, and we have all learned a lot about our priorities.”

He informed trustees that Josh Kee, Vice President for Advancement, and his team have established the Mulerider Strong Fund, which will assist SAU in times of emergency. “We have been amazed at what our alumni and friends have done already,” Berry said, promising additional information on the fund in the near future.

Berry pointed to Mulerider heroes who have made a positive difference during the pandemic. The College of Science and Engineering has used its 3D printers to create shields used at local health care facilities, including Magnolia Regional Medical Center. He thanked the College for providing this service to health workers.

Berry recognized 2005 SAU alum Grant Smith, who has led the State of Arkansas’ efforts to make it possible for all state employees to work remotely. This included getting laptops to all state workers so that they could work from home. Berry also praised Zachary Shealy, a 2018 SAU nursing program graduate, who quit his job in Tyler, Texas, to work on the pandemic’s front lines in New York City. “He saw the huge problems they were having and ran to the fire,” Berry said. “We have Muleriders doing this all over the country.”

Another Mulerider hero who Berry singled out for praise is Colorado resident and 1942 Southern State alum Ray Burns, who has begun a campaign to raise money for the COVID-19 crisis by walking 100 miles by his 100th birthday in August. “He is a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War,” said Berry, lauding Burns’ effort.

Berry also noted that SAU has received a grant totaling almost $700,000 from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) for the restoration of historic Bussey Hall. Work to restore the residence hall to its proper glory is expected to begin in July.

In his comments, Dr. Jason Morrison, chancellor of SAU Tech, said the college is working to ensure a safe reopening in the fall. He also recognized the retirement of David McCleane, vice chancellor of student services, who served SAU Tech for 15 years. McCleane thanked Morrison and the Board for the opportunity to serve students.

In other agenda items, the Board approved SAU’s request to add six new academic programs, supporting the institution’s mission to educate students for productive employment in a global environment. The programs approved included a BSE/MBA and BS Engineering Physics program, a 4+1 LBPH/MPA program, an Educational Examiner Licensure program, and two Graduate Certificates in Data Analytics and Business Leadership.

Approved program changes for SAU-Tech included the additional areas of emphasis in Associate of Arts in General Education for Math, History, Psychology and English, as well as Associate of Applied Science in Health Science for Phlebotomy and Pharmacy Tech. A degree name change was approved, changing the Associate of Applied Science in Engineering to Associate of Applied Science in Engineering Technology. Additionally, trustees approved the creation of a Certificate of Proficiency in Mechanical Maintenance.

Under the SAU Appropriation Act of 2020-2021, new provisional positions were granted to sustain the new academic programs, including additional staff, faculty and classified pool positions based on the needs of student service. The motion to increase the provisional request for SAU was approved up to the statutory limit of 70.   SAU-Tech was approved a request to continue the 15 current provisional positions they currently have and to fill any remaining positions needed by the institution. The Board’s approval of these positions will go to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education for certification to the Legislative Council.

The Board approved and adopted athletic budgets as presented, including the renewal of a $19 athletic fee for SAU. The SAU Tech budget included a $9 per credit hour fee, with eighty-eight percent of the fee allocated for athletics and twelve percent for student activities.

In other business, a change of accounting policy was approved, shifting from a straight-line method of depreciation to the State’s uniform depreciation policy. This change is expected to reduce the University’s annual depreciation expenses.

The Board authorized the University to refinance 2013B and 2015 Student Fee Secured Capital Improvement Bonds, at interest rates 2.0-2.5% below current rates, saving the institution almost $700,000 over the life of the bonds. Terms of the refinanced bond issue will not exceed the remaining 25-year maturity date of the original issue.

Amendments to the Faculty Handbook proposed by the Handbook Committee of the Faculty Senate were approved.

After the Board adjourned from Executive Session all personnel changes were approved and the meeting adjourned.
 

33 STATE POLICE RECRUITS COMMISSIONED INTO SERVICE AT GRADUATION CEREMONY
(LITTLE ROCK) - Thirty-three Arkansas State Police Trooper Recruits received their certified law enforcement certificates tonight during a graduation ceremony at the Arkansas State Capitol.  The new troopers will report to their Highway Patrol Division assignments across the state next month.
The recruits reported to the Arkansas State Police Training Academy at state police administrative headquarters January 26th this year.  Since that time the recruits accumulated more than 1,000 hours of specialized classroom and practical training.

Governor Asa Hutchinson, Jami Cook, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety and Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police each addressed the class during the ceremony.  The recruits affirmed the Oath of Arkansas State Trooper to Judge Meredith B. Switzer of Hot Springs.

Graduates of the Arkansas State Police 2020 Troop School are:
Justin Parker, 33, 2020-A Recruit Class Leader, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop K, Garland County.  He is a graduate of Lake Hamilton High School, Southern Arkansas Tech and the American Military University. Trooper Parker served as recruit class leader. 
Jonathan Arnold, 31, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop I, Stone County.  He is a graduate of Arkansas Education Alliance.
Jacob Byrd, 24, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Bryant High School and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Garrett Byrd, 23, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Crittenden County.  He is a graduate of Creekwood High School and John Gupton College in Tennessee.
Maria Galan Duarte, 28, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, Washington County.  She is a graduate of Northside High School.
Austin Duncan, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Benton High School.
Ronald Elkins, 28, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop H, Sebastian County.  He is a graduate of Van Buren High School and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.
Dairren Evans, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Phillips County.  He is a graduate of Marion High School.
Matthew Foreman, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Bryant High School.
Korbyn Freeman, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Bryant High School and the University of Central Arkansas.
Philip Gonten, 35, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop I, Boone County.  He is a graduate of Mountain Home High School.
Jacob Graham, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, Carroll County.  He is a graduate of Berryville High School.
Martino Green, 24, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop E, Arkansas County.  He is a graduate of Pine Bluff High School.
Trip Hensley, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, St. Francis County.  He is a graduate of Paris High School.
Rand Lace, 23, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Prairie County.  He is a graduate of Cross County High School.
Tyler Langley, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Conway High School and the University of Central Arkansas.
Issac Lawson, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, White County.  He is a graduate of Living World Christian Academy.
Tate Ledbetter, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Lee County.  He is a graduate of Acorn High School.
Jackson Little, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, Washington County.  He is a graduate of Harrison High School.
Jeb Little, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Warren High School and Ouachita Baptist University.
Quinton Maag, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, White County.  He is a graduate of Highland High School.
Mason Marrone, 29, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Crittenden County.  He is a graduate of the National University Academy in Vista, California.
Paul Matthews, 32, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, Johnson County.  He is a graduate of North Crowley High School, in Forth Worth, Texas.
Kayla Mean, 29, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  She is a graduate of Mat-Su Central High School and the University of Alaska.
Hugo Meza, 35, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Union County.  He is a graduate of Prepa-Ameza High School and the University of Guadalajara in Mexico.
Blaine Middlecoff, 29, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop C, Mississippi County.  He is a graduate of Hoxie High School.
Walker Morphis, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Chicot County.  He is a graduate of Cornerstone Christian Academy and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Ian Nelson, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, Little River County.  He is a graduate of Valliant High School and Carl Albert State College in Oklahoma.
Brian Palmer, 31, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, Columbia County.  He is a graduate of Magnolia High School.
Seth Smedley, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop K, Pike County.  He is a graduate of Fountain Lake High School and Henderson State University.
Zackery Smither, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, St. Francis County.  He is a graduate of Ozark High School and Arkansas Tech University.
Matthew Walker, 24, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of the Camden Fairview High School and Southern Arkansas University Tech.
Michael Whitman, Jr, 34, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop E, Jefferson County.  He is a graduate of Pine Bluff High School.
Special recognition and awards were presented to the recruits who attained the highest scores within the respective training categories listed as follows:

Academics
1st place – Tyler Langley
2nd place – Ronald Elkins
3rd place – Austin Duncan
Physical Fitness

1st place – Tyler Langley
2nd place – Justin Parker
3rd place – Martino Green

Firearms
1st place – Ronald Elkins
2nd place – Matthew Walker
3rd place – Brian Palmer
Upon reporting for duty at their respective troop headquarters, the new troopers will be placed with a certified departmental Field Training Officer (FTO).  Each graduate will work in tandem with their respective FTO for a transitional period prior to being released to their assignment.

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENTS
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced the following appointments:
Steve Sutton, Marion, to the State Board of Education.  Appointment begins July 1, 2020, and expires June 30, 2027.  Replaces Diane Zook.
Dr. Beatrice Reed, Little Rock, to the State Board of Optometry.  Appointment expires April 26, 2025.  Replaces Dr. Robert Smalling.
Daryl Bassett, Little Rock, to the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Public Employees’ Retirement System.  Appointment expires March 9, 2026.  Reappointment. 
Dennis Wiederkehr, Altus, to the Arkansas Wine Producers Council.  Appointment expires March 1, 2023.  Reappointment. 
Frank Wilson, Rison, to the Arkansas Forestry Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2029.  Reappointment.
Ed Spaeth, Greenbrier, to the Arkansas Manufactured Home Commission.  Appointment expires September 1, 2023.  Replaces Dewight Mack.
Katherine Holmstrom, Little Rock, to the War Memorial Stadium Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2026.  Replaces Brenda Scisson.
David Mattingly, Benton, to the War Memorial Stadium Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2027.  Replaces Kevin Crass.
Dan York, Foreman, to the Red River Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2027.  Reappointment.
Dwayne Raper, Ashdown, to the Red River Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2026.  Reappointment.
Robert Liner, Fort Smith, to the Oil and Gas Commission.  Appointment expires February 20, 2025.  Replaces Lee Dawkins.
Frank Morledge, Forrest City, to the Oil and Gas Commission.  Appointment expires February 20, 2026.  Reappointment.
Robert Passwaters, Bryant, to the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities.  Appointment expires June 1, 2024.  Reappointment.
Craig Reinhardt, Little Rock, to the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities.  Appointment expires June 1, 2024.  Reappointment.
Sheri Rogers, Hot Springs, to the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities.  Appointment expires June 1, 2024.  Reappointment.
Anne Canada, Subiaco, to the Arkansas Educational Television Commission.  Appointment expires March 23, 2027.  Replaces Sammie Benjamin.
Ann Clemmer, Benton, to the Arkansas Educational Television Commission.  Appointment expires March 23, 2022.  Replaces Philip Hathcock.
Annette Herrington, Little Rock, to the Arkansas Educational Television Commission.  Appointment expires March 23, 2028.  Reappointment.
Stephen Horton, Maumelle, as a Special County Judge in the County Court of Searcy County, for the case styled Searcy County Court Case No.: CO-19-1.  Replaces Judge Jim Harness, who has disqualified himself from the case.

SENATE PASSES BOOZMAN-SUPPORTED RESOLUTION HONORING JUNETEENTH
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) praised Senate passage of a resolution designating June 19, 2020, as “Juneteenth Independence Day'” in recognition of June 19, 1865, the date on which Union General Gordon Granger brought the news of emancipation to Texas. Boozman, a cosponsor of the resolution, released the following statement in celebration of Juneteenth.

“I’m pleased to join with Arkansans and all Americans to celebrate the anniversary of the welcome news of the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is a milestone in our nation’s history that brings us together to reflect on the struggles of the past and the challenges that remain in pursuit of equality. This day symbolizes hope, reminds us of the progress we’ve made, and represents opportunities we have to make a brighter future for all Americans.”

JUNE 18, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 18, 2020
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has increased by 322 to a total of 13,928. The number of active cases stands at 4,344. The hospitalizations have increased by nine to 226. The death toll in Arkansas due to the coronavirus has increased by 11 to 208. Of those 11 additional deaths, ten were in the age category of 65 and up. 
Governor Asa Hutchinson held his Thursday afternoon press conference at the U.S. Marshall's Museum in Fort Smith. Governor Hutchinson recognized the newly created Law Enforcement Task Force, which held its first ever meeting on Thursday at the Marshall's Museum. The Governor used the opportunity to announce that he has lifted earlier than scheduled his 30-day emergency order that he had imposed earlier due to the civil unrest that resulted in mobilizing parts of the National Guard. 

But back to COVID-19, Governor Hutchinson said he was extending the Public Health Emergency for another 45 days, and the Governor encouraged the importance of moving forward together as a state.

The Governor's comments were directed at the City of Fayetteville, which had passed a strict law earlier this week imposing the mandatory wearing of face coverings in public. Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, an infectious disease expert, took the opportunity though to strongly encourage the wearing of face coverings in public for the safety of others and to help prevent the continued spread of the disease.

Again, there are now 13,928 total cases and 4,344 active cases of COVID-19 in the state of Arkansas. The death toll has now topped 200, with eleven additional deaths raising the total number of deaths to 208. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

 

SAU TECH PREPARES FOR FALL SEMESTER
Camden, AR-Since the middle of March when the COVID-19 restrictions started, SAU Tech has been adapting to the limitations and safety precautions recommended by the CDC and the State of Arkansas to keep both students and employees safe.

To address the impact of COVID-19 on daily operations, Dr. Jason Morrison assembled a Pandemic Task Force comprised of the College’s executive officers, deans, and directors. Morrison commented about the group saying, “This group has been at the forefront of moving forward to where we are in Phase II of reopening the campus, and I could not be prouder of a group of individuals. They have provided leadership and have made it their personal goal to ensure that that our staff and students are safe during this unusual time for our campus. ” The Pandemic Task Force is currently finalizing a document to be published on the College’s website that addresses all aspects of operations as they relate to preventing the spread of COVID-19 while still providing quality educational services.

As the College moves forward to the fall semester, with the first wave of student-athletes returning to campus on June 28, SAU Tech is implementing a comprehensive pandemic response plan. Part of the plan includes a partnership with the CABUN Clinic in Hampton, Arkansas. The Clinic is assisting with student health assessments and COVID-19 testing for the duration of the pandemic. Representatives from the Clinic met with the Pandemic Task Force on Tuesday, June 16, to review the College’s plans for the rest of the summer and into the fall.

The Southern Arkansas University System announced this week some changes to their fall schedule, most notably ending the semester at Thanksgiving break. SAU Tech will follow a similar academic schedule to reduce the risk of students going home for thanksgiving and returning to the campus with possible illnesses or exposures to the virus.

Students who were impacted by the precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and met the US Department of Education’s eligibility requirements have received a spring CARES Act payment from SAU Tech. Those who are continuing in classes this summer and into the fall will receive two more payments from the College out of the CARES Act funding. The College has also received CARES Act funding to assist in the implementation of virtual delivery of courses for the fall and to recoup some of the costs associated with moving the majority of the College’s classes online in March. The funding is restricted, and the College must account for all funds spent with reports back to the US Department of Education. More information about SAU Tech’s CARES Act funding is available at www.sautech.edu/cares.

Morrison says he is confident that the College will continue the training necessary to provide skilled graduates for the College’s workforce partners and to provide transfer students with a holistic college experience while following the CDC’s guidelines for a safe campus. The National Junior College Athletic Association is expected to announce its guidelines for resuming athletics on June 19. SAU Tech will share that information with the public once it becomes available.

For updates related to COVID-19 preparation and procedures at SAU Tech, go to www.sautech.edu/cv. The College’s updated academic calendar can be found at https://mycollege.sautech.edu/ics.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF CODING COMPETITION 
LITTLE ROCK — After multiple rounds of competition on the regional and state levels, students from the Don Tyson School of Innovation in Springdale were named winners of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s All-State Coding Competition. Due to COVID-19, Hutchinson announced the winners via a video, which is available at https://youtu.be/1ImZZAAIcys.

As winners, James Cassady, Benjamin Easterling, and Lucas Kellar will receive 529 College Savings Plan scholarships totaling $2,000, each. Owen Bell, Julian Sanker, and Ganer Whitmire from Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville placed second, and each will receive $1,000 scholarships deposited into 529 plans. The third-place team of Tyler Lacroix, Ethan Peck, and Addison Zheng from Cabot High School will each receive 529 College Savings Plan scholarships of $500. In addition to these individual scholarships, the schools that sponsored the winning teams will be awarded $10,000, $6,000, and $4,000, respectively, to support their computer science programs.

A total of 135 teams from across the state first participated in 15 competitions held regionally. The top 16 teams from the regional competitions, along with a team from last year’s first-place school, competed in the All-State Competition that was held virtually on May 2.

Verizon, a four-year sponsor, donated $50,000 to ARCodeKids to support the competition this year. The company announced it would also contribute $35,000 to sponsor next year’s competition, bringing Verizon’s five-year commitment to $225,000.00.

"We could not be more impressed with the talent shown in this year's competition,” Dave Wengel, co-founder of ARCodeKids, said. “Once again Verizon has shown a commitment to support our state's computer science education efforts, and these students are the real winners because of it."

To learn more about Arkansas’ Computer Science Initiative, visit http://bit.ly/ARKidsCanCode.

FCC ISSUES $10,000 FINE IN ARKANSAS PIRATE CASE
Says Gerald Sutton claimed Communications Act does not apply to him
From RadioWorld
BY Paul McLane
PUBLISHED: JUNE 18, 2020
An Arkansas man must pay $10,000 for alleged illegal broadcasting, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Gerald Sutton has been directed to pay within 30 days, after which the FCC says his case may be referred to the Justice Department.

The investigation began in summer of 2018 when the FCC says it received a complaint about an unauthorized FM station in Alma, Ark. It says an agent subsequently observed a signal on 103.1 MHz, traced it to an address in Alma and found that it exceeded allowable limits under Part 15 of the rules. An agent identified Gerald Sutton as the operator, said he refused an inspection, and said the signal disappeared after the agent’s arrival but was turned on again later.

According to the commission summary, Sutton subsequently wrote to the FCC at the end of 2018 to say that the federal Communications Act did not apply to him.

The Enforcement Bureau issued a notice of apparent liability against Sutton in August 2019, and now says he never replied to it.

“Pirate radio stations undermine the commission’s primary mission to manage radio spectrum,” wrote Ronald Ramage, acting field director of the Enforcement Bureau, summarizing the commission’s longstanding stance on this issue.

“Such illegal operations can interfere with licensed communications, including authorized broadcasts and communications by public safety entities. Moreover, such illegal operations pose a danger to the public because they interfere with licensed stations that inform their listeners of important public safety messages, including Emergency Alert System transmissions that provide vital information regarding weather and other dangers to the public.”

ARKANSAS BAR ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCE 2019-2020 AWARDS
2019-2020 Arkansas Bar Association President Brian Rosenthal selected the following association members as award recipients for their outstanding work and service to the Association. The awards were presented virtually during the association’s annual conference on June 10.
Presidential Awards of Excellence:
Maggie Benson, Littler Mendelson, Fayetteville, for work as Public Service Academy Co-Chair.
Nikolai DiPippa, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Little Rock, for work with the Public Service
Academy.
Joe F. Kolb, j. kolb, Little Rock, for work as Treasurer and Annual Meeting Co-Chair.
Nathan C. Looney, Arkansas Children’s Foundation, Little Rock, for work as Public Service Academy Co-Chair.
Dean Skip Rutherford, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Little Rock, for work with the Public
Service Academy.
Aaron L. Squyres, Wilson & Associates, PLLC, Little Rock, for work as Parliamentarian and Chair of the Bylaws Redrafting Committee.
Golden Gavel Awards:
Speaker Matthew J. Shepherd, Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives, State Representative, District 6, Law Offices Shepherd & Shepherd, P.A., El Dorado, for Leadership and work on the Steering Committee of the Public Service Academy
Kandice A. Bell, Office of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, White Hall, for work as Co-Chair of the Disaster Preparedness Task Force.
Howard W. Brill, School of Law, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, for work as Steering Committee member and Speaker in the Public Service Academy.
Beverly I. Brister, The Brister Firm, Benton, for work as Chair, Law Related Education Committee

Judge Earnest E. Brown, Jr., Circuit Judge, Pine Bluff, Judicial District: 11th West, Jefferson and Lincoln Counties, for work
on the Steering Committee of the Public Service Academy.
Tim Cullen, Cullen & Co., PLLC, Little Rock, for work on  Legislative Drafting and Constitutional Research.
Representative Carol Dalby, State Representative, District 1, Texarkana, for Leadership and Service to the Association.
Bob Edwards, The Edwards Firm, PLLC, Little Rock, for work on association sponsorship.
Bob Estes, Law Office of Bob Estes, Fayetteville, for work as Chair, Redistricting Task Force.
Julie DeWoody Greathouse, PPGMR Law, PLLC, Little Rock, for work as Chair, Emeritus Attorney Rule.
Heide Harrell, Director of Marketing & Business Development, Rose Law Firm, Little Rock, for work as Marketing Advisor, Branding Task Force.
Heather Haywood, APR, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodard, P.L.L.C., Little Rock, for work as Marketing Advisor, Branding Task Force.
Glen Hoggard, Hoggard Law Firm, North Little Rock, for work as Secretary.
Chris Hussein, Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc., Springdale, for work as Interim Young Lawyer Section Chair.
Jamie Huffman Jones, Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, Little Rock, for work as Co-Chair, 

Jurisprudence and Law Reform Committee.
Sarah C. Jewell, McMath Woods P.A., Fayetteville, for work as Mid-Year Planner.
Sean T. Keith, Keith Law Group, Rogers, for work as Co-Chair,  Jurisprudence and Law

Reform Committee.
Cindy Kolb, Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, P.C., Little Rock, for work as Co-Chair, Annual Meeting.
Jeffrey E. McKinley, Attorney at Law, Little Rock, for work as Chair, Branding Task Force.
J. Cliff McKinney II, Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC, Little Rock, for work as Chair, Legal  Hall of Fame Task Force.
Anthony L. McMullen, Associate Professor of Business Law, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, for work as Chair, Mock Trial Committee.
Regan Gruber Moffitt, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Little Rock, for work on the New Student Initiative.

G. S. Brant Perkins, The Perkins Law Firm, P.A., Jonesboro, for work as Chair, Constitution

Information Advancement Committee.
Jordan Bates-Rogers, Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, Little Rock, for work on

Emeritus Rule Drafting.
Scott C. Trotter, Trotter Law Firm PLLC, Little Rock, for work in Legislative Drafting and

Constitutional Research.
Samantha Vital, The Herrera Law Group, Rogers, for work as Co-Chair, Disaster Preparedness Task Force

 

20TH ANNUAL STAR SPANGLED SPECTACULAR AT THE CAMDEN AIRPORT IN CAMDEN, AR
Join us at the Camden Municipal Airport on Saturday, July 4th for the 20th annual Star Spangled Spectacular. Enjoy the evening with great musical acts ending with the largest professional fireworks Display in South Arkansas.

This year’s event is brought to you by Title Sponsor Aerojet Rocketdyne, Camden & Ouachita County Ministerial Alliance, Camden A & P Commission and local business and industry.

The evening will start with local talent from the McKelvin Brothers kicking off at 6:30PM, they will be joined at 7PM by Shanna Dorey for the singing of the National Anthem, followed by The Voice contestant L. B. Crew ending the evening the headliner, America’s Got Talent winner Kris Allen. There will be special parking and recognizing of local veterans (past and those presently serving).

COVID-19 guidelines will bring some changes to this year’s event. Due to guidelines this year’s show will not have inflatables for the kids or concessions. Event attendees are encouraged to bring your own drinks and snacks. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets to sit by your vehicles as you enjoy this year’s event.

This year will bring a larger professional fireworks display for your enjoyment. Come on out to the Camden Municipal Airport to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment.

Brought to you by Title Sponsor Aerojet Rocketdyne, Camden A&P Commission and local business and industries.

Contact:
Charlotte Young
Call or Text: 870-807-1468
charlotte@jcproductions.tv
explorecamden.com

 

LA BODEGA MEAT LLC RECALLS BEEF PRODUCTS DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT BENEFIT OF IMPORT RE-INSPECTION
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2020, La Bodega Meat LLC, a Farmers Branch, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 83,038 pounds of raw beef products that were not presented for import re-inspection into the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The various raw beef items were imported on June 2 and June 3, 2020. The following products are subject to recall:

51.90-lb. boxes containing various cuts of beef, including:
“Boneless Ribeye Roll”
“Flank Steak”
“Fresh Boneless Brisket”
“Fresh Eye Of Round”
“Fresh Flap Meat”
“Fresh Inside Skirt”
“Fresh Outside Round”
“Fresh Top Sirloin”
“Inside Round”
“Outside Skirt”
“Peeled Knuckle”
“Shoulder Clod”

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “ESTABLISHMENT 5” inside the foreign mark of inspection. The boxes also contain shipping marks 0671-20 or 0627-20. These items were shipped to distributor locations in Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas for food service and retail sales. Product at the retail level will not have any unique identifying labels.

The problem was discovered during routine FSIS surveillance activities of imported products.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.  

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in distributors’, retailers’ and consumers’ refrigerators or freezers. Distributors in possession of these products are urged not to further distribute them. Retailers who have obtained these products are urged not to sell them. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers and members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Jose Torres, Director, La Bodega Meat LLC at (214) 402-4966.
Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via email to MPHotline@usda.gov. For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/

 

RUTLEDGE ALLOCATES OVER $2 MILLION TO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY FOR CRIME VICTIMS
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced the allocation of $2.1 million from the Consumer Education and Enforcement Fund to the Department of Public Safety for the Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Program. The funds for the program will be used by the Crime Victims Reparation Board to compensate victims and family members of victims of violent crimes as well as ensuring forensic tests can be completed.

“Life is precious and it is tragic that a program like this is necessary,” said General Rutledge. “Arkansas families need to know they will be taken care of even after a violent crime has happened to a loved one.”

“I am deeply grateful to our Attorney General for her compassion to make sure that our child and youth victims of crime get the necessary expert medical forensic exams and lab work to aid not only their legal cases, but to assure them of their well-being and wholeness to start the healing of their hearts and souls,” said Arkansas’s First Lady Susan Hutchinson.

“As a law enforcement officer, I’ve seen first-hand, the hopelessness left in the eyes of people who were victims of a criminal act and even though justice was meted out, the victims are left to rebuild their lives. All too often, these victims are our precious children,” said Secretary Jami Cook. “The Children’s Advocacy Centers provide an invaluable service in the pursuit of justice for our young victims. The compassionate allotment from Attorney General Rutledge will ensure the Crime Victims Reparations Board can help restore some small degree of hope to those who did nothing wrong.”

The Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Program was transferred in the Governor’s reorganization to the Department of Public Safety and was previously administered by the Office of Attorney General until 2019. The program provides financial compensation to victims and family members who have suffered personal injury or
death as the result of violent crime.

For more information contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8983 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

DENISON TEXAS MAN SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR CALLING IN BOMB THREAT TO THE MENA POST OFFICE AND FOR SETTING FIRE TO A MENA BUSINESS
Fort Smith, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Jacob Samuel Green, age 26, of Denison, Texas, was sentenced today to 60 months in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $145,272.25 in restitution on one count of Making Willful Threat by Mail or Telephone and one count of  Maliciously Damaging and Destroying or Attempting to Damage and Destroy Real or Personal Property. The Honorable Judge P. K. Holmes III presided over the sentencing hearing today in the United States District Court in Fort Smith.

In the early morning hours of August 3, 2019, the Mena Police Department received a telephone call on its non-emergency phone line there was a bomb in one of the Postal Service vehicles at the Mena Post Office and when someone opens the door of the vehicle, it will blow up. Mena police officers responded to the Mena Post Office and while they were investigating, one of the officers noticed a fire had been set in the "Just for Kids" resale store located across the street of the post office. Police officers called the fire department, which were able to put out the fire after substantial damage to the building and its contents had occurred. At all relevant times, the resale store was operated by the Polk County Developmental Center which is a nonprofit corporation and the proceeds from the resale store were and are used to provide services for individuals with disabilities. During the investigation, officers were able to identify Green as being the caller and were able to trace the phone back to a hotel room in Mena that had been registered in Green’s name. Officers were able to locate and interview Green.  During the interview, Green admitted to calling in the bomb threat and to setting the business on fire.

Green was indicted by a federal grand jury in January 2020 and entered a guilty plea in February 2020.

This case was investigated by the Mena Police Department, Mena Fire Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, United States Postal Service, ATF and the Fort Smith Bomb Squad. Assistant United States Attorney Claude Hawkins prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.
 

SAAC WELCOMES HELENE LAMBERT AS JUDGE FOR JULY'S EXHIBITION OF QUARANTINE ART 
Local artist and retired art educator Helene Lambert will serve as judge for an upcoming exhibit and competition at the South Arkansas Arts Center. "Under Quarantine: Art During Unprecedented Circumstances" is an open-invitation, no-fee event which provides our community an outlet to share their results of creative expression while under quarantine. The artwork will be on display July 1-28.
"We have been anticipating this exhibition since the beginning of the quarantine process, and it's exciting and intriguing to see the work that has been created by South Arkansas' creative community during this strange period in our history," said SAAC executive director Laura Allen. "Helene has served on our Visual Arts committee for several years, and we are thrilled to bring her expertise to the judging of this exhibit."
Any artist age 18 and up is eligible to participate. Art is accepted in any medium, and two-dimensional and three-dimensional work will both be accepted. Artists may enter one or two pieces of artwork created while working at home during the quarantine, started on or after March 14, and completed by the delivery date. SAAC requests artwork to be preregistered through the "Under Quarantine" portal on the website, saac-arts.org, then deliver the work to SAAC by June 29.
Lambert recently retired after teaching art for 34 years in Union County, including "31 wonderful years" at Barton Junior High School in El Dorado. Upon retirement, she received the El Dorado Education Foundation Middle/Junior High School Teacher of the Year Award. Lambert attended school in Hampton and received her BSE at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff where she studied art under the notable Henri Linton and Terrance Corbin.
Lambert's studio in Hampton is where she experiments with what she calls "free range art." She said, "I am on a mission to find myself and paint what I feel. I love what I do-whatever it is-because all of my works are sketches in pursuit of happiness." Lambert currently works with Arts Integration Services and is Arts In Education (AIE) teaching artist.
Gallery manager Kelly Campbell said about the exhibition idea, "A friend of mine called me on the first Saturday that we went into ‘quarantine' with the idea for this exhibit, and the idea of a competition came at the very end of our conversation. She was so excited about the possibility of artists who could share the art they were creating during these strange times, and I just jumped right in there with her."
Prizes are: Best of Show $200; First Place $150; Second Place $100; Third Place $50. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prize.
Visit saac-arts.org/artist-exhibit-entry-form/ to enter artwork in the exhibit. For more information on this competition, please email Campbell at kelly@saac-arts.org, or call SAAC at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON INTRODUCTION OF JUSTICE ACT
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement on the introduction of the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act:

“The anger and frustration brought on by the horrific deaths of George Floyd and others at the hands of those charged with protecting the public have pointed a spotlight on the need for reform.

President Trump took the first step by signing an executive order that directs more attention and resources toward best practices in police training, recruiting and community engagement. The introduction of the JUSTICE Act builds on that idea.

I appreciate the exhaustive effort my colleague Tim Scott put into crafting this bill. Senator Scott has personally experienced instances of abuse, but he also emphasizes the important role of law enforcement in our society and rejects the false choice between supporting police officers or supporting communities of color. He is well suited to lead the Senate’s attempt to propose meaningful reforms.

His work has produced a bill that focuses on training and tactics that lead to the de-escalation of force, accountability for instances of officer misconduct and greater public transparency within the criminal justice system.

With the exception of those parroting extreme ‘abolish the police’ talking points, members of both parties, in each chamber, are closer than most realize on these issues. There is a consensus that reforms that promote transparency, accountability and procedures that lead to safer interactions between officers and the community are the key to real reform.

The vast majority of officers are good, honest individuals who provide a valuable service. We can help foster better relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve through proper reform. That is why I am a cosponsor of this legislation.

I am optimistic my colleagues across the aisle will vote to move this bill to the floor for debate. I expect and welcome a thorough and honest discussion during floor consideration. The American people deserve that much.”
 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON SENATE PASSAGE OF HISTORIC PUBLIC LANDS CONSERVATION BILL WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after voting in support of the Senate-passed Great American Outdoors Act, historic legislation that will support investment in the conservation and preservation of public lands: 

“The Great American Outdoors Act ensures America’s national treasures will continue thriving for future generations to enjoy. This landmark legislation allows us to conserve and preserve public lands and support the pastimes of Arkansas hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Natural State residents are proud of the resources in our backyard that bond us to nature, attract visitors from around the world and support economic growth. Passage of this legislation brings us one step closer to ensuring that we can experience these resources for years to come,” Boozman said. 

The Great American Outdoors Act invests in the repair of national parks and public lands infrastructure, and protects and provides future recreational access by permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). 

The LWCF has been used to improve public access and protect Arkansas federal recreation areas like the Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, and the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge. The LWCF also provides grants to states to develop parks and other recreation areas. The Department of the Interior reports that funding has been provided to every county in the country since the program was established in 1965.

The bill now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.

JUNE 17, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 17, 2020
Family members of residents in Long Term care facilities will now be able to see their loved ones in person as Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced visitation to nursing homes will be permitted in Arkansas on July 1st. The announcement came during the Governor's daily COVID-19 press conference Wednesday.

The decision comes with many requirements, as Governor Hutchinson says nursing home visitors will be required to wear masks and make visitation appointments in advance. Space will be sanitized between each visit. Other requirements include a maximum of 2 visitors per resident, masks are to be worn. Guidance also includes expanding activities, beauty salons for residents and communal dining. If cases are present, facilities will work with AD Hans will have to close again before re-opening again for families to visit.

Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Secretary of the Department of Health announced the COVID-19 case update and reported that the total number of documented Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 13,606. Of the total cases, 4,413 are considered active and 8,996 people have recovered. Hospitalizations in the state have increased to 217 with 53 of those patients on a ventilator at this time. The death toll by COVID-19 in Arkansas has reached 197.

Jerry Sharum of the Department of Human Services oversees the long term care division, and during Wednesday's press conference he reported that the department has been focusing on making sure facilities have been compliant with COVID-19 safety protocol and also conducting infection control studies over the last three months.

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has reached 13,606. Of the total cases, 4,413 are considered active, and 8,996 people have recovered. Hospitalizations in the state have increased to 217, with 53 of those patients on a ventilator at this time. The death toll by COVID-19 in Arkansas has reached 197. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

CRASH CLAIMS LIVES OF TWO HAMPTON RESIDENTS
At about 1:00 am Monday morning a single vehicle accident claimed the lives of two Hampton residents. The driver, Jody L Ream, was traveling southbound on state highway 275 near Banks in Bradley County. Ream failed to negotiate a right-hand curve.  The 2000 Mercury traveled across the center of the roadway through the opposite traffic lane exiting the roadway and entered the northbound ditch. The front of the vehicle made an impact with a tree where it came to rest against the tree.  Erin Minks was a passenger in the car. Both Ream and Minks lost their lives in the crash.

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY SETS COMMENCEMENT DATES
MAGNOLIA – To honor the hard-won achievements of its May and August 2020 graduates, Southern Arkansas University announced that it will hold Summer Commencement ceremonies at Wilkins Stadium on August 7 and August 8 with some special considerations for gathering.

The time schedules for each college will be as follows:

Friday, August 7, 2020
8:30 a.m. College of Liberal Performing Arts
11 a.m. College of Education
7:30 p.m. School of Graduate Studies

Saturday, August 8, 2020
8:30 a.m. College of Science and Engineering
7:30 p.m. College of Business

A commencement and pinning ceremony for graduates of the Department of Nursing will be held at Story Arena at 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 8.

As SAU will follow guidelines issued by the CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health, every attendee over the age of 10 will be required to wear face coverings, and social distancing procedures will be observed. Seating areas will be marked for use, and extensive cleaning procedures will be observed between ceremonies.
Following state COVID-19 guidelines for attendee limit, a ticket will be required for entry.

Each graduate can receive a maximum of eight tickets with individual seating information denoted on each ticket. Further information for graduates will be provided by the Office of the Registrar.

“We are excited to bring our graduates back to campus for these Commencement ceremonies,” said Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU. “Having commencement in Wilkins Stadium will provide a safe and healthy environment for families and students as we celebrate their achievements.”

Caps and gowns will arrive on or around July 27, and graduates may pick them up at the SAU Bookstore. Prior to each ceremony they may be picked up at the track under the SAU tent. 

In case of inclement weather all ceremonies will be moved to Story Arena.
 

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 6 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Dylan Lee Hooks, age 24, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced June 15, 2020 to a total of 77 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of a Controlled Substance that Contained Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

In the fall of 2019, Detectives with the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force launched an investigation into Hooks for drug trafficking in the Western District of Arkansas.  In September of 2019, detectives conducted multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Hooks.

Hooks was indicted by a federal grand jury in November of 2019, and entered a guilty plea in February of 2020. 

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations Fayetteville and the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.


RUTLEDGE SUES JIM BAKKER FOR PEDDLING COLLOIDAL SILVER PRODUCTS TO CURE COVID-19
Arkansas Consumers have purchased over $60,000 on silver products for false COVID-19 cures
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced a lawsuit against Morningside Church Productions, Inc., which conducts business as The Jim Bakker Show, as well as Jim Bakker and Sherrill Sellman, for falsely telling Arkansas consumers that colloidal silver products would cure, eliminate, kill or deactivate COVID-19. The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

“Jim Bakker has exploited Arkansas consumers by leveraging COVID-19 fears to sell over $60,000 worth of their products that do nothing to fight the virus,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Let me be clear, this case is not about freedom of religion. This is a consumer fraud case and I urge any Arkansans who have experience with these false advertisements claiming silver to be a COVID-19 cure to immediately call my office.”

Approximately 385 Arkansans made purchases from Bakker’s company totaling approximately $60,524 for colloidal silver products between January 1 and March 9, 2020.

In February 2020, The Jim Bakker Show hosted Sherrill Sellman who falsely claimed the colloidal silver products hawked by Jim Bakker were “proven by the government to have the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV… .” Both Bakker and Sellman have separately received warning letters from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for selling unapproved drugs to cure or prevent COVID-19. The FDA had previously stated that silver products are not scientifically recognized to be safe and effective.

Rutledge is seeking restitution for affected consumers, injunctive relief, and civil penalties. Violations of the ADTPA may be assessed with a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

Rutledge is urging all consumers who have purchased products from Bakker or Sellman to contact the office immediately at (800) 482- 8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

COURTHOUSE AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION RESTORATION GRANTS
Ouachita, Dallas, Nevada and Bradley Counties Included
LITTLE ROCK— Arkansas Historic Preservation Program announces the fiscal year 2021 Courthouse and Historic Preservation Restoration Grants. 

“The work of preserving historic structures across Arkansas is a duty we take seriously at Arkansas Heritage,” said Jimmy Bryant, director of Heritage. “I admire and appreciate the work from the applicants, their committees and teams of experts, and our grant selection committee. Every year we not only look forward to awarding this money but seeing the progress photos and reports that come into our office. The real winners in all of this are the citizens of our state.”

The County Courthouse Restoration Grant is an annual grant that has been in existence since 1988. It is funded primarily by an annual grant to the AHPP by the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) using Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) funds. The purpose of the County Courthouse Restoration Grant program is to encourage and promote the preservation and continued use of Arkansas’s historic courthouses by providing financial assistance for restoration, selected maintenance and accessibility projects.

This year, $1,671,349 in grant funding was given out to 16 worthy recipients who completed applications for consideration.

The courthouse recipients, the proposed projects and award amounts are:
Arkansas County, Stuttgart, ADA ramp installation, $61,664
Bradley County, Warren, clock tower roof/cupola restoration, $85,000
Carroll County, Berryville, condition assessment report, $13,750
Chicot County, Lake Village, water drainage system exploration, $22,150
Clay County, Piggott, roof replacement, $222,660
Conway County, Morrilton, replace entry doors, $67,318
Dallas County, Fordyce, cornice repair, $80,250
Franklin County, Ozark, masonry pointing and repairs (parapet courses), $175,000
Hot Spring County, Malvern, 100% repoint masonry, $222,900
Lee County, Marianna, roof replacement, $108,000
Miller County, Texarkana, roof - phase 2, $216,653
Ouachita County, Camden, clock tower restoration, $90,500
Poinsett County, Harrisburg, masonry cornice repairs, $70,686
Polk County, Mena, HVAC and steel window restoration, $142,310
Prairie County, DeValls Bluff, roof replacement and soffit repairs, $60,113
Woodruff County, Augusta, repair lobby floor over abandoned staircase, $32,395

The purpose of the Historic Preservation and Restoration Grant program is to encourage and promote preservation of Arkansas’s historic resources by providing financial assistance for restoration of historic properties. The program is financed through proceeds of the Real Estate Transfer Tax.

This year, $796,460 in grant funding was given out to 22 deserving applicants. The amount of funding fluctuates each year depending on the taxes collected.

The Historic Preservation and Restoration Grant recipients, the proposed projects and award amounts are:
Conway County, Morrilton, Big Cuppa, LLC, restore window - 205 Broadway, $8,950
Pulaski County, Little Rock, Pulaski, Jane E. Anderson, remove artificial siding and restore original siding - 404 Louise St, $10,000
Clark County, Arkadelphia, City of Arkadelphia, replace tile roof – depot, $70,700
Prairie County, Hazen, City of Hazen, masonry pointing, wood repair and painting - Rock Island Depot, $44,897
Polk County, Mena, City of Mena, ADA restroom - Mena Depot, $13,487
Drew County, Monticello, City of Monticello, capstone repair and masonry pointing - Monticello Post Office, $63,317
Mississippi County, Osceola, City of Osceola, fire damage repairs - Old Post Office/City Hall, $22,000
White County, Searcy, City of Searcy, replace roof - American Legion Hut #106, $60,000
Washington County, Springdale, City of Springdale, replace roof and repair soffits - Rabbits Foot Lodge, $62,238
Monroe County, Clarendon, Clarendon First United Methodist Church, roof and stained glass window repairs, $19,998
Nevada County, Emmet, Emmet United Methodist Church, roof replacement, $37,775
Carroll County, Eureka Springs, Eureka Springs Historical Museum, repair chimneys, roof & windows, selective masonry pointing, $14,836
Baxter County, Galatia, Galatia Community Building Inc., roof replacement and siding repairs, $32,200
Ashley County, Hamburg, Hamburg First United Methodist Church, reset limestone capstones and masonry pointing, $27,178
Carroll County, Eureka Springs, Heart of Many Ways, replace roof - former First Church of Christ Scientist, $20,000
Newton County, Jasper, Newton County, replace roof - former Newton County Jail, $26,667
Crawford County, Winslow, Ozark Folkways, exterior repairs and restoration - Muxen Building, $17,575
Boone County, Paris, Paris First United Methodist Church, restore entrance steps and preservation plan, $57,455
Garland County, Hot Springs, People Helping Others Excel By Example (P.H.O.E.B.E.), continue masonry and replace low slope roof(s) - John L Webb House, $78,251
Sebastian County, Fort Smith, St. John's Episcopal Church, restore stained glass window, $42,644

Independence County, Batesville, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, roof repair, $58,240
Nevada County, Moscow, Nevada County Depot & Museum, monument restoration - Moscow Cemetery, $8,052

To learn more about the application process for AHPP awarded grants, visit  http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/Programs/Funding/grants-programs. For more information about Courthouse and Historic Preservation Restoration Grants, please contact Joia Burton, Grants Administrator, at 501.324.9883. 
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is an agency of Arkansas Heritage. AHPP is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other divisions are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.  

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, June 18th at 12:00 at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Robyn Yarbro General Manager at the Camden News. She will talk about the Camden News 100th Anniversary.   

You are required to wear a mask while entering and leaving the building, if you do not have one you be will provided with one. Your temperature will be taken, and you’ll sign in and report your temp. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.
 

MEMBERS OF ARKANSAS DELEGATION ANNOUNCE $40 MILLION DOT AWARD FOR US 67 UPGRADES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford and French Hill—announced the Arkansas Department of Transportation will be awarded $40 million to reconstruct and improve two sections of US 67 northeast of Little Rock.

The project will widen US 67 from four to six lanes, construct an overpass, convert frontage roads to one-way operation and reconstruct two interchanges. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program.

“Arkansas has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make Highway 67 an interstate-quality road. This major award from the Department of Transportation will help facilitate the ongoing upgrade of Highway 67 to meet interstate requirements. Completion of this project is key to encouraging economic development in neighboring communities,” said Boozman, who authored the language to designate the portion of Highway 67, from North Little Rock to Walnut Ridge, as “Future I-57.”

“An interstate-quality road system enables faster movement of people and goods—an important asset for any community. This important investment from the Department of Transportation will make the towns of northeast Arkansas even more attractive places to live, work, or start a business. I worked hard to help secure this grant for the Natural State, and I’m pleased that the administration is keeping its promise to invest in rural America,” Cotton said.

“This INFRA grant puts us one step closer to I-57. This grant is the latest in a series of Federal investments in Arkansas and I applaud Secretary Chao’s leadership in ensuring rural America is included in the national infrastructure conversation,” Crawford said.

“This major grant from the DOT will go a long-ways towards improving Highway 67. The ‘Future I-57’ will enhance economic opportunities in communities throughout central Arkansas by promoting commerce and encouraging job growth. Improving infrastructure throughout the state helps all Arkansans and will bring more visitors in to enjoy our Natural State,” said Hill.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao noted that this grant was part of a larger announcement to fund critical surface transportation projects across the nation.

“This Administration is focused on infrastructure improvements and this $906 million in federal funding would improve major highways, bridges, ports, and railroads across the country to better connect our communities, enhance safety and support economic growth,” said Secretary Chao.

 
 
 

June 16, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 16, 2020
COVID-19 continues to rise in Arkansas as the total reported cases in the state has now reached 13,191. According to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, the number of cases reported during Tuesday's COVID-19 update was an increase of 274 from the previous day.

Hospitalizations have also increased in the state as the number of patients admitted to Arkansas medical centers for treatment of the virus is up eight from Monday to Tuesday, with a total of 214. The state death count by COVID-19 has reached 188.

As previously reported, Governor Hutchinson announced a goal to conduct 120,000 tests for COVID-19 among residents across the state throughout the month of June. With more than 4,000 additional tests conducted in the last 24 hours, officials report the state is on track to meet that goal. Since testing for the virus began in the early stages of the pandemic on March 11th, a total of more than 208,000 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted throughout the state.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha attended the press conference Tuesday to provide a breakdown of the rates at which each age group in Arkansas has been contracting COVID-19. According to Dillaha, Arkansans age 25-44 have the highest case rates for the state with 38%:

Arkansas Economic Development Director Mike Preston spoke at the press conference to provide an update on the financial front for the state. In a report of good news, Preston says the number of those filing for unemployment numbers has steadily decreased over the last four weeks.

Again, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has reached 13,191.  The number of cases reported during Tuesday's COVID-19 update was an increase of 274 from the previous day. Hospitalizations have also increased as the number of patients admitted to Arkansas medical centers for treatment of the virus is up eight from Monday to Tuesday, with a total of 214. The state death count by COVID-19 has reached 188. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

NEW ADDITIONS TO MAIN STREET ARKANSAS 
LITTLE ROCK— Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is pleased to welcome several new Downtown Network programs and one new Main Street to the Main Street Arkansas program.  

Having completed all the requirements, Calico Rock, Camden and Lonoke are new Arkansas Downtown Network programs. Main Street Paris moved up from Network status to designated Main Street this spring after completing the annual Main Street University course. 

“We are delighted to add Paris to our roster of outstanding Main Street programs,” said Scott Kaufman, director of AHPP. “Downtown Network Communities are stepping stones to becoming designated Main Street programs. These programs play an important role in the revitalization of historic downtowns.” 

Paris joins the following Main Street programs:  
Argenta Downtown Council (North Little Rock) 
Main Street Batesville 
Main Street Blytheville 
Conway Downtown Partnership 
Main Street Dumas 
Main Street El Dorado 
Main Street Eureka Springs 
64.6 Downtown (Fort Smith) 
Main Street Helena 
Downtown Jonesboro Alliance  
Downtown Little Rock Partnership 
SoMa 501(South Main Little Rock) 
Main Street Osceola 
Main Street Ozark 
Main Street Paragould 
Pine Bluff Downtown Development 
Main Street Russellville 
Main Street Searcy 
Main Street Siloam Springs 
Main Street Texarkana 
Main Street West Memphis 

Since 1984, Main Street Arkansas has been a leading advocate for downtown revitalization providing resources, education and professional assistance to spark life into Arkansas's traditional commercial areas.  

The Main Street Arkansas team works closely with the 22 local Main Street programs and 18 Downtown Network Communities across the state. Main Street Arkansas staff members include: Greg Phillips, director; Susan Shaddox, interior design consultant; Hannah Ratzlaff, exterior design consultant; and Mark Miller, small business consultant. Main Street focuses on a four point approach as laid out by Main Street America which centers on Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion and Organization. 
 
Learn more about Main Street Arkansas at https://www.arkansaspreservation.com/Programs/Main-Street-Arkansas/main-street-mission-history
 
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is an agency of Arkansas Heritage. AHPP is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other divisions are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.   

 

COTTON BILL TO REWARD POLICE OFFICERS EXEMPLIFYING BEST PRACTICES
Washington, D.C.— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced a bill that would recognize and reward state, local, and tribal police officers who exemplify the very best policing. The Better Community Policing Recognition Act would establish a $5 million annual fund for the Department of Justice to administer, choosing the best nominees from approximately 18,000 police departments nationwide.
Officers eligible for these rewards would be those who either exemplify best practices, innovate to reduce the excessive use of force, or improve community policing strategies. Those officers who excel in making their communities safer for everyone would be eligible for nomination by their local police department or by their state attorney general. Text of the bill may be found here.
“Police officers are being unfairly demonized across the country as calls for defunding departments grow, despite the fact that the vast majority of officers are selfless public servants who are already underfunded. It’s never been more important to recognize those officers who exemplify the best kind of policing. My bill will reward the policemen and women who are working hard to improve their service and win the public’s trust,” said Cotton.

BOOZMAN PRESSES FCC CHAIRMAN ON COLLABORATION WITH FEDERAL AGENCIES TO EXPAND RURAL BROADBAND
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) continued his commitment to strengthening rural broadband and helping expand telehealth and distance learning opportunities.

In a hearing before the Senate Committee on Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, Boozman questioned Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on the level of collaboration among federal agencies as it relates to information about high-speed internet access and efforts to bring the service to more Americans

As more Americans are taking precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19, they are relying more on at-home broadband to connect to health providers and teachers, as well as for teleworking.

“Is there a formal working group that’s talking about how to share information?” Boozman asked.

While Chairman Pai said collaboration has been occurring, Boozman urged the FCC to create a formal way to share information in a reliable and timely manner given how quickly the work environment has changed this year.

Boozman is a founder and co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus. He is a cosponsor of critical legislation to expand broadband to rural areas that includes the Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2020 and the Health Care Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDERS ON MEDICAL IMMUNITY, BUSINESS LIABILITY, AND WORKERS COMPENSATION COVERAGE
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson issued executive orders today that clarify Workers Compensation Law during the public-health emergency, protect health care providers from liability, and exempt businesses from liability related to the spread of COVID-19.

“I want to thank the General Assembly for its leadership in securing support for limited immunity legislation and for requesting action by the executive order versus calling a special session during the pandemic.” Governor Hutchinson said. "I also want to thank Steuart Walton and the Economic Recovery Task Force for their work on these important issues." 

Executive Order 20-33 regarding employers and businesses orders that:
All businesses and their employees shall be immune from civil liablity as a result of exposure to COVID-19.
Immunity does not apply to willful, reckless or intentional misconduct.
A presumption that the actions are not willful or reckless if the business owner substantially complies with public health directives.
Immunity does not extend to worker compensation benefits.
Immunity is effective from today until the emergency is terminated.

Executive Order 20-34 regarding immunity for health care providers orders that:
Health care workers and providers are authorized to use crisis standards of care to respond to treat COVID-19 patients.
The health care providers as emergency workers are immune from civil liability.
Immunity does not extend to willful, reckless, or intentional misconduct.
Immunity is effective from today until the emergency is terminated.

Executive Order 20-35 regarding workers compensation coverage orders that:
Assures workers compensation coverage for employees. 
COVID-19 is considered an occupational disease under the law.
COVID-19 shall be an exception to prohibition on compensation for ordinary diseases of life.
There must be a causal connection between employment and the disease.
Extends during the public health emergency.

Executive Order 20-33 can be viewed here.
Executive Order 20-34 can be viewed here.
Executive Order 20-35 can be viewed here.

20 GUARDSMEN TO SUPPORT ADH WITH COVID-19 CASE MANAGEMENT
Medics from 77th CAB, 87th Troop Command, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade, MEDCOM
20 Guardsmen with the Arkansas National Guard will support the Arkansas Department of Health with COVID-19 case management.

By order of the Governor, the Arkansas National Guard has mobilized 20 Medic Guardsmen from the 77th Combat Aviation Brigade, 87th Troop Command, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade and Medical Command

The Guardsmen will be assisting ADH from June 15th until July 1st at the Arkansas Department of Health, 4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, Ark.

 Arkansas National Guardsmen will assist the Arkansas Department of Health with COVID-19 positive case management in line with state and federal guidelines outlined by the designated ADH supervisor. They will report to ADH Tuesday, June 16.

In addition to the 20 called to duty yesterday, 11 Guardsmen are still providing the following support to state agencies. Six Guardsmen are providing logistics support to distribute personal protective equipment. Five Guardsmen are providing cemetery maintenance at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery.

 The Arkansas National Guard assumes support roles to augment civil authorities, where needed and directed by the Governor, to help in a crisis.

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES FALL SEMESTER TO BEGIN AUGUST 11
MAGNOLIA – In response to the COVID-19 situation, Southern Arkansas University has modified its calendar for Fall 2020. Classes will now begin Aug. 11, 2020, and end Nov. 20, 2020.

“We are truly excited to welcome our students back to campus,” said Dr. Trey Berry, SAU’s president. “Over the past few months we’ve heard from countless students about their eagerness to return to campus and resume their lives, their classes, and their relationships. We felt it would be prudent to start the semester early and to finish the semester before Thanksgiving to better assure the health and safety of our entire campus.”

Activities centered around the start of the fall semester are outlined below:
Wednesday, Aug. 5 – Saturday, Aug. 8 – Returning Students Move-in
Sunday Aug. 9 – New Student Move-in and Mulerider Roundup (Orientation) begins (register at  https://web.saumag.edu/orientation/mulerider-round-up)
Monday, Aug. 10 – Mulerider Roundup continues
Monday, Aug. 10 – Tuesday Aug. 11 - Late Registration and Advising
Tuesday, Aug. 11 – Classes begin
Tuesday, Aug. 18 – Last day of entrance and course additions
Monday, Sept. 7 – Labor Day (virtual class day)
Tuesday, Nov. 17 – Friday, Nov. 20 – Final Exams
Saturday, Nov. 21 – Fall Commencement

To better accommodate students and practice proper social distancing, move-in will occur over several days and allow only 10 students to move in every 30 minutes to each residence hall and apartment complex.

Students will receive a Move-In Packet through their SAU email which will include a link to reserve their housing move-in time. Due to the large number of people coming to campus during this time, students will be limited to two guests to assist them in the move-in process.

SAU will observe the Labor Day Holiday on Monday, Sept. 7. Virtual classes will meet on this date. There will be no fall break this year.
Final exams will begin Tuesday, Nov. 17, and the semester ends Friday, Nov. 20. Fall commencement will be Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, June 19, 2020 at
11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road in Camden, Arkansas.

LOTTERY SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED TO AUGUST 1
LITTLE ROCK, AR –The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has announced that the deadline to apply for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship has been extended to August 1 with modified eligibility requirements deemed necessary because of COVID-19.  

Unlike in prior years, students who have a sufficient number of hours and have earned satisfactory academic progress before March 27 are automatically eligible for the scholarship for the 2020 fall semester.

“COVID-19 greatly disrupted our educational processes, particularly in terms of in-person learning,” said Maria Markham, director of the Division of Higher Education. “We felt it necessary, therefore, to modify the requirements for those students who might have experienced a setback through no fault of their own.”

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery provides tuition assistance to traditional and non-traditional students attending universities and two-year colleges, public and private, in the state. Since its inception in 2009, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has raised more than $954 million in scholarship proceeds and awarded more than 542,000 scholarships to students.

“The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery was started with the primary goal of helping Arkansas students realize their higher education goals,” said Bishop Woosley, director of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. “We have never deviated from that mission and are proud that more than 92 cents of every dollar raised through the sale of lottery tickets goes to scholarships, prizes, retailer commissions and other expenses.”

Traditional students must score at least 19 on the ACT to qualify for the scholarship. The latest ACT score accepted by Arkansas Department of Higher Education will be from the July testing. Students who have yet to achieve a score of 19 on the ACT may take the Accuplacer test remotely as a substitute.

Freshman students at four-year colleges receive $1,000 from the scholarship.  Second-and third-year students receive $4,000, and senior level students are awarded $5,000 per year. 

At two-year colleges, first-year students receive $1,000, while second-year students are awarded $3,000. To maintain eligibility, students must keep a 2.5 GPA.

Additionally, students seeking certification for high-demand occupations such as in healthcare and information technology may apply for the Arkansas Workforce Challenge Scholarship, which is also funded by lottery revenue. Students must apply at least 30 days before enrolling in an eligible program.

Students may apply online for both scholarships at scholarships.ADHE.edu.
 

COTTON APPLAUDS KYLE HAUPTMAN’S NOMINATION TO NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION BOARD
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement on the nomination of Kyle Hauptman to be a member of the National Credit Union Administration Board.

Hauptman currently serves as Senator Cotton’s economic policy advisor and as the staff director of the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy.

“Kyle Hauptman has been my trusted economic advisor since 2017. I congratulate Kyle and commend President Trump on the nomination. I regret to see Kyle go, but I know he will serve our country with distinction in this important role.”

JUNE 15, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 15, 2020
Monday's daily COVID-19 press conference update held by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson began with the signing of three executive orders involving workman's compensation benefits, Arkansas businesses liability, and healthcare workers across the state.

Governor Asa Hutchinson provided a breakdown of the three orders during Monday's press conference. The orders will be in effect for those whom are directly affected by the relevant information during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Hutchinson, the executive orders are effective as of June 15th but will be addressed again by the legislature in January. Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that there would not be a Special Session of the Legislature. The Governor signed three Executive Orders during the briefing today, with the overwhelming support of the Legislature, to address things a Special Session would have dealt with. Covered by the Executive Orders: Immunity for heath care workers, immunity from civil liability for businesses and employees opening back up during the pandemic, and Workers Compensation coverage for employees who contract COVID-19 on the job. The Speaker of The House, President Pro Tempore, and other legislators were on hand for the signing and briefing.
The Governor also commended Walmart for the donation of 7,000 masks to residents across Northwest Arkansas this month.
A record number of COVID-19 tests were conducted in a single day period recently as well. Officials say 7,063 tests were conducted in the 24 hours prior to Monday's press conference.

As far as the case update goes, COVID-19 continues to rise in Arkansas as the total number of documented cases has now reached 12,917. There were 416 new cases reported today. There are reportedly 8,352 residents who have recovered from the illness, but the hospitalization number continues to rise. Officials say 206 patients are now hospitalized from COVID-19 in Arkansas, and the state death toll has reached 182. We'll continue to keep you updated with COVID-19 coverage, stay tuned.

CAMDEN’S FIRST FRIDAY MARKET IS BACK!
Friday, June 19 • 4 PM – 6 PM
First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR will hold the “Camden Drive Thru Farmer’s Market” on Friday, June 19th from 4 PM till 6 PM on Jefferson St in downtown Camden.

Vendors will be on hand selling vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, honey, jam & jelly, baked goods and flowers. Jefferson St. will be turned into a one-way street for the market. Customers may enter Jefferson Street at the courthouse and head East to Adams Ave.

Be sure to watch the First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR Facebook page to see which vendors will be present along with what items each one will have for sale on that evening.

Pricing will also be listed on the Facebook Page to assist customers in being prepared prior to getting to the market. Many vendors will also be taking pre-orders to make the purchasing go smoother.

Customers will not get out of their vehicles. They will simply pull up to any vendor they wish to purchase from and hand off will be made off from the vendor.
Watch the Facebook page for specials being offered from downtown businesses during the time of the farmer’s market.

Farmer’s Markets will be held on the 3rd Friday on the month. See you there!
For More Information:

Call or Text: 870-807-1468
email: firstfridaycamdenar@gmail.com
FirstFridayCamden.com
www.facebook.com/FirstFridayCamdenAR

GENERAL DYNAMICS, TODAY'S POWER PLAN MAJOR SOLAR PROJECTS IN CALHOUN COUNTY
There was a big announcement for Calhoun County today. General Dynamics has partnered up with with Today’s Power Inc. of Little Rock and Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corp. to build two solar power plants in Calhoun County. Between these two power plants over 4 million kilowatt-hours of sun power a year will be produced.

General Dynamics’ Ordnance & Tactical Systems is a global aerospace and defense company with major operations in East Camden, has signed a deal with Today’s Power for solar services and electricity from two 1-megawatt arrays to be built near General Dynamics’ facilities on two campuses near Little Caney Creek, along Highway 203 and County Road 15. Today’s Power, in a news release, said the power plants should be operational by the third quarter of this year. Construction is expected to start this month and end in August.

“We are excited about this opportunity to partner with TPI and OECC to expand our usage of renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint at the General Dynamics-OTS Calhoun County facility,” said Eric Ellis, vice president and general manager of precision systems for the defense contractor. Ellis’ remarks came in a prepared statement.

Ouachita Electric will lease and operate two on-site 2.4MW battery storage systems as part of the project, under an energy storage services agreement. The battery systems will store the electricity from the two solar arrays.

The project is the 10th major renewable energy project in and around Camden in recent years and is designed to mitigate part of OECC’s peak demand, said Mark Cayce, General Manager of Ouachita Electric. He said the project would help General Dynamics “lower their cost of operations while at the same time lowering costs for all members of our cooperative.” He called it “a great example of how industry and utilities can work together to protect the environment, lower cost, and improve the reliability of the electric grid.”

“It’s a pleasure working with one of the most innovative companies in the world,” Today’s Power President Michael Henderson said in the news release. “TPI is honored to work with General Dynamics-OTS to ensure our nation’s defense is operated with clean, sustainable energy.”

The contractor develops and manufactures munitions, weapons and tactic systems “to empower the United States armed forces and its allies,” the company says. Today’s Power is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. of Little Rock, the wholesale power co-op owned by the state’s 17 power distribution cooperatives, including OECC.

BOOZMAN CALLS FOR PAPERWORK RELIEF FOR PPP PARTICIPANTS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) signed a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza urging the administration to ease paperwork requirements for small businesses seeking loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The letter, signed by 44 senators, specifically requests the loan forgiveness application for loans under $250,000 be no longer than one page in length.

“While the Small Business Administrator was also given the ability to require additional documentation necessary to verify proper use of PPP funds, we believe it is beyond the program’s intent to require the information solicited in the 11-page forgiveness application that the SBA recently released,” senators wrote in the letter. 

More than 41,000 loans worth more than $3.2 billion have been approved for Arkansas small businesses through the PPP.

“Many of our constituents and the financial institutions who processed their PPP loan applications have reported that the existing forgiveness application will be difficult to complete and could cost business owners several thousand dollars in professional tax advice,” senators continued in the bipartisan letter.

The letter can be found here or below: 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza:

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been critical for helping small businesses remain viable and keeping Americans employed during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we would like to make you aware of a serious problem with the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application. We have received feedback from a number of businesses and lenders that the forgiveness application is difficult to understand and to complete. We ask that the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) urgently revise the application so that it is no longer than one page for any loan under $250,000.

When Congress created the PPP, its purpose was clear: get immediate funding into the hands of small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic so their employees could stay on the payroll and maintain benefits and so that businesses could resume normal operations as soon as it was safe to do so. Given the innumerable challenges that small business owners face, PPP loans were designed to be forgiven to prevent small business owners from incurring additional debt, provided employees were kept on payroll.

The text of the CARES Act, which was approved unanimously by the Senate, specified three criteria that the PPP forgiveness application was required to include:

1.     Documentation verifying the number of full-time employees on payroll and their respective pay rates;

2.     Documentation verifying payment of mortgage, lease, and utility payments for which the business owner sought PPP funds; and

3.     A certification that the information presented in the forgiveness application is true and correct.

While the Small Business Administrator was also given the ability to require additional documentation necessary to verify proper use of PPP funds, we believe it is beyond the program’s intent to require the information solicited in the 11-page forgiveness application that the SBA recently released. We appreciate the interest in appropriately auditing the use of government money. However, the loan forgiveness application – which understandably needs more information for loans worth significantly more than $250,000 – is three times longer than the original application for the PPP. Many of our constituents and the financial institutions who processed their PPP loan applications have reported that the existing forgiveness application will be difficult to complete and could cost business owners several thousand dollars in professional tax advice.

The Administration’s intentions to scrutinize PPP loans above $2 million is an appropriate oversight of taxpayer resources. Failing to streamline the loan forgiveness application for loans that are worth a mere fraction of that will not only leave millions of small business owners without the relief that they were promised by Congress, but it will also introduce a needless complication to our nation’s economic recovery. 

We look forward to continuing to work with you and the Administration in supporting our country’s small businesses and their employees during this difficult time. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. 

 
 

JUNE 12, 2020

ARKANSAS DELEGATION SUPPORTS GOVERNOR'S REQUEST FOR MAJOR DISASTER DECLARATON FOR CRAIGHEAD COUNTY
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—wrote to President Donald Trump urging him to support Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for a federal disaster declaration for Arkansas, Bradley, Cleveland, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Grant, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ouachita and Phillips Counties due to extensive damage as a result of severe storms on April 12, 2020.“We believe the severe magnitude of these weather events warrant supplementary Federal assistance. The state of Arkansas has already been dealing with financial hardships due to extensive damages from previous extreme weather events hurting local businesses and agricultural enterprises. This, coupled with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have put the state of Arkansas in a dire situation,” members wrote. 

The letter can be found below:

Dear Mr. President: 

On behalf of the State of Arkansas, we are writing to support Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request to declare a major disaster, pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act, as a result of severe storms and tornados which took place on April 12, 2020. 

Based on Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs), conducted by FEMA, at least 59 homes were destroyed with an additional 109 homes sustaining major damage. In total, over 531 homes were affected by the storms, of which an estimated 50% of the affected homes are uninsured. In total, eleven Arkansas counties sustained significant storm damage, leaving thousands without power for up to two weeks. Unfortunately, the eleven counties who sustained major storm damages have a total of 22.3% living below the poverty line.  

Simply put, we believe the severe magnitude of these weather events warrant supplementary Federal assistance. The state of Arkansas has already been dealing with financial hardships due to extensive damages from previous extreme weather events, hurting local businesses and agricultural enterprises. This, coupled with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have put the state of Arkansas in a dire situation.   

Arkansas is still recovering from historic flooding events that took place last year, and is currently dealing with the increasing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, Arkansas was in the midst of recovering from multiple disasters before COVID-19. Since January 2018 the state of Arkansans has had 13 Gubernatorial Declared disasters and numerous federally declared disasters. 

Recent Presidential Major Disaster Declarations for Arkansas

  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds (DR 4544) May 8, 2020
  • Arkansas COVID-19 (DR 4518) April 3, 2020
  • Arkansas COVID-19 (EM 3461) March 13, 2020 
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Straight-line winds, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4460) Sept. 13, 2019
  • Arkansas Severe Storms and flooding (DR 4441) May 29, 2019
    • Record breaking flooding along the Arkansas River that included EM 3414
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4318) April 26, 2017
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4270) March 08, 2016
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4254) Dec. 23, 2015
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4226) May 8, 2015
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4174) April 27, 2014
  • Arkansas Severe Winter Storm (DR 4160) December 5, 2013
  • Arkansas Severe Storms and Flooding (DR 4143) August 8, 2013
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4124) May 30, 2013
  • Arkansas Severe Winter Storm (DR 4100) December 25, 2012
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4000) May 24, 2011
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 1975) April 14, 2011

Without the assistance of the Federal government, we fear the burden will be too much for the state of Arkansas to bear alone. As losses mount, the people of our great state hope the federal government will join in restoration efforts. Federal government resources are critical in the aftermath of these devastating events, and coordination between the federal government and state and local officials is crucial to begin the process of recovery and rebuilding. 

We are eager to assist in any way possible to ensure expedited evaluation of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices with any questions. We thank you for the support you have already offered, and respectfully ask for your continued attention and assistance in providing the resources necessary to ensure the safety of Arkansans.
 

RUTLEDGE FILES COMPLAINT IN ONGOING ANTITRUST PRICE-FIXING INVESTIGATION INTO GENERIC DRUG INDUSTRY
Names 26 Corporate Defendants, 10 Individual Defendants in Conspiracy to Fix Prices and Allocate Markets for at least 80 Generic Topical Dermatological Drugs
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined a coalition of 51 states and jurisdictions in filing the third lawsuit stemming from the ongoing antitrust investigation into a widespread conspiracy by generic drug manufacturers to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition and unreasonably restrain trade for generic drugs sold across the United States. This new Complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, focuses on 80 topical generic drugs that account for billions of dollars of sales in the United States. The Complaint targets Taro Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Perrigo, New York, Inc., and Sandoz Inc., along with 23 other corporate Defendants and 10 individual Defendants.

“Generic drug companies have been manipulating drug prices that directly harm Arkansans’ pocketbooks,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Drug prices have skyrocketed in recent years due to fraudulent agreements between generic drug companies and their competitors and this litigation will hold these companies accountable for their illegal collaboration to reap massive profits.”

The topical drugs at the center of the Complaint include creams, gels, lotions, ointments, shampoos, and solutions used to treat a variety of skin conditions, pain, and allergies.

Between 2007 and 2014, three generic drug manufacturers, Taro, Perrigo, and Fougera (now Sandoz) sold nearly two-thirds of all generic topical products dispensed in the United States. The multistate investigation has uncovered comprehensive, direct evidence of unlawful agreements to minimize competition and raise prices on dozens of topical products. Based on evidence gathered from a massive document database of over 20 million documents, phone records, and the cooperation of several witnesses, the Complaint alleges longstanding agreements among manufacturers to ensure a “fair share” of the market for each competitor, and to prevent “price erosion” due to competition.

The lawsuit seeks damages, civil penalties, and actions by the court to restore competition to the generic drug market.

The Complaint is the third to be filed in an ongoing, expanding investigation that the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General has referred to as possibly the largest domestic corporate cartel case in the history of the United States. The first Complaint, still pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2016 and now includes 18 corporate Defendants, two individual Defendants, and 15 generic drugs. The second Complaint, also pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2019 against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers. The Complaint names 16 individual senior executive Defendants. The States are currently preparing for trial on that Complaint.

Rutledge joined attorneys generals in the lawsuit, led by Connecticut, from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Territory of Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin in filing the complaint.

 
 

Playlist

June 11, 2020

GOVERNOR’S HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 11, 2020
The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in the state of Arkansas has now reached 10,816, This information was announced during Governor Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 Press Conference Update Thursday afternoon.

Of those cases, 3,294 are considered active, with 140 from nursing homes, 199 are sourced out of correctional facilities, and the remaining 2,955 linked to community spread.

There are currently 187 people who have been hospitalized with the illness, and 45 patients remain on ventilators at this time. The state death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas is now at 171, and 7,351 residents have reached recovery status.

As far as testing numbers go, the state is trending at 1,000 cases more than anticipated at this time, with a goal of conducting 120,000 tests throughout Arkansas in the month of June.

Officials acknowledged the top three counties in the state with the highest cases reported during Thursday's press conference as well. Washington, Benton and Pulaski counties were listed as areas with the most Coronavirus cases in Arkansas. According to Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Secretary of the Department of Health, 93% of the cases in the Northwest region are located in the city of Springdale.

The Center for Disease Control will be sending representatives into the Northwest Arkansas area Friday in order to assess the region's outbreak of the illness and to work with the community on containing the spread.

Governor Asa Hutchinson's main focal point of Thursday's news conference was education for Arkansans, as the "Arkansas Ready For Learning" initiative was unveiled. Hutchinson confirms that normal, on-site instruction, with internet curriculum to be implemented as needed is on the horizon for Arkansas students and educators.

To elaborate on the Arkansas Ready For Learning Plan, The Governor called upon Dr. Ivy Pfeffer, Deputy Commissioner of The Arkansas Department of Education, to speak on the outline of the plan for students this fall.
Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases reported in the state of Arkansas has now reached 10,816. Of those cases, 3,294 are considered active, with 140 from nursing homes, 199 are sourced out of correctional facilities, with the remaining 2,955 linked to community spread.

There are currently 187 people who have been hospitalized with the illness, and 45 people remain on ventilators at this time. The state death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas is now at 171, and 7,351 residents have reached recovery status.We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.
 

LOCKHEED MARTIN AWARDED CONTRACT
Lockheed Martin Corp., Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $1,042,250,000 modification (P00001) to contract W31P4Q-20-C-0023 for incidental services, hardware, facilities, equipment, and all technical, planning, management, manufacturing, and testing efforts to produce Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target Advanced Capability-3 missiles. Bids were solicited viamthe internet with one received. Work will be performed in Huntsville, Alabama; Camden, Arkansas; Chelmsford, Massachusetts; Grand Prairie, Texas; and Lufkin, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31, 2024. Fiscal 2020 missile procurement, Army; and Foreign Military Sales (Bahrain, Germany, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates) funds in the amount of $1,042,250,000 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.

LIFESHARE BLOOD DRIVE SCHEDULED
There will be a Blood Drive sponsored by the Ouachita County Medical Center Wednesday, June 17th from 12:00 to 6:00 pm. The LifeShare Bus will be at the Express Clinic in Camden. Help control crowding by scheduling your appointment today! You may make an appointment at donor.lifeshare.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/212467. Donors will receive a LifeShare T-Shirt while supplies last. Contact Cathy Hailey at 870-836-1322 for more information. Help save lives!!!!



MULERIDER MARKET PROVIDING FREE FOOD AND PERSONAL ITEMS TO STUDENTS
MAGNOLIA -- In response to the extraordinary financial challenges faced by college students, those in need of food and/or personal items will find a valuable resource in the FREE Mulerider Market, located in the Donald W. Reynolds Center on the campus of Southern Arkansas University.

Macye Plunk, SAU + VISTA Campus & Community Engagement Fellow, said students are welcome to come directly to the counter (located in Reynolds 107A, next to the post office) and pick out items or they can submit a package request using the form on the Mulerider Market web page,  www.saumag.edu/mulerider-market.

Items can be picked up during operating hours. Students will receive an email notifying them when their package is ready for pickup.

According to Dr. Katherine Berry, SAU+VISTA Director, “Research tells us that many college students live in poverty and face persistent food shortages. When we realized the likely intersection of our high rate of Pell-eligible students and the current economic realities, we decided not to wait until Fall to open Mulerider Market.

“Our summer enrollments are holding strong, students live on campus and in Magnolia, and we had an idea-in-the-making to meet those needs now,” she said. “Trey and I are often asked in what small ways community members can connect with the needs of SAU students. Mulerider Market will be a wonderful way to make this connection in a very helpful, tangible way.”

Students picking up items from Mulerider Market must:
Present a valid SAU ID;
Pick up only one package per week, per student;
Order a maximum of 15 items (of student’s choice) per package;
Order a maximum of only five of the same item.

The Mulerider Market inventory includes canned vegetables, soup, fruit, Ramen Noodles, and cereal. Personal items include toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, body soap, feminine products, baby diapers and wipes, deodorant, and more. Inventory will vary throughout the year according to donations. Mulerider Market will accept donations periodically throughout the year. Anyone wishing to donate non-perishable items may do so during those occasions or may contact SAU at 870-235-4922. Please see the web page for a list of current needs.

SAU+VISTA is federally-funded through AmeriCorps. The SAU+VISTA mission is to increase college completion – a proven factor in the elimination of poverty. SAU currently hosts eight full-time SAU+VISTA Fellows and 24 Summer Associates. For more information, see www.saumag.edu/vista.

WRF BOARD MEMBER APPOINTED TO STATE POLICE REFORM TASK FORCE
The mission of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) is to relentlessly pursue economic, educational, social, ethnic, and racial equity for all Arkansans. Based on our mission, a nearly 50-year history of support for social justice in Arkansas, and the legacy of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, a champion for racial equity, we unequivocally state that Black Lives Matter.

As the world responds to the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others, WRF stands with those who have lifted their voices to speak out against systemic policies that lead to over-policing of Black communities, over-criminalization of Black people, and the long-standing, disproportionate impact of state violence against unarmed Black citizens.

We are encouraged by the appointment of Rosa Velázquez, Latinx community organizer and WRF Board member, along with several other leaders of local uprisings, to the recently formed Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas. Rosa is the Advocacy Director for Arkansas United and has served on the WRF Board for six years. 

We commend Governor Asa Hutchinson on his quick action to establish this task force. The inclusion of several young leaders of color gives us confidence that the recommendations of this group will be inclusive of community voice. WRF further supports the recent call for state-level hate crime legislation that would be equitably applied. Arkansas is one of only six states in the country who do not have hate crime legislation. We can change that immediately.

There is more that can be done quickly at the local level. We call on every Arkansas municipality to immediately adopt the “8 Can’t Wait” policing policies that have been shown to significantly reduce the use of excessive force by police and save lives. Policy changes that include a ban on strangleholds and codifying the affirmative duty for police officers to intervene when policy is being violated can save lives and help rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities most impacted by unwarranted police violence. Trust building is the first step towards the more extensive changes needed to remake our police departments into the community-centric institutions we all desire.

Black Arkansans and other residents of color deserve to live lives with the full confidence that the systems supported by their tax dollars are working in the interest of their safety. Today, many do not. There is still much work to do to ensure that our state economy works for all, that our education system produces excellent outcomes for every child, and that every community member can thrive and prosper.

Over 50 years ago as the world grieved the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Governor Rockefeller said that he hoped the tragedy would “awaken the eyes, the minds, and the hearts and the souls of the people, throughout our state and throughout the nation.” 

Over the last two weeks, we have witnessed an international awakening. Now that we’re awake, we should move to immediate action.

ARKANSAS HEALTH & WELLNESS, ARKANSAS TOTAL CARE SUPPORT LITTLE ROCK CARES COVID-19 EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND
(Little Rock, AR) June 11, 2020- As Arkansans continue to cope with the threat of the novel coronavirus, Arkansas Health & Wellness, together with Arkansas Total Care, continues to support our community through a donation of $15,000 to the City of Little Rock’s ‘Little Rocks Cares COVID-19 Community Relief Fund’. The Little Rock Cares Fund helps provide food relief to Arkansas residents and personal protective equipment to health care professionals and first responders in Little Rock. 

"We are extremely grateful for this donation to the Little Rock Cares Emergency Relief Fund," Mayor Scott said. "The COVID-19 crisis, unfortunately, is not behind us. These funds will assist us in continuing to ensure our first responders and healthcare workers receive the necessary equipment to continue meeting the needs of Little Rock residents and patients who need health services in our city."

The Little Rock Cares Fund is committed to helping feed Little Rock residents. Arkansas Health & Wellness and Arkansas Total Care share that commitment, which is why we recently partnered with Jimmy John’s to provide lunches to the workers of the City of Little Rock Solid Waste Department.  These outreach efforts and our recent contribution of $100,000 to the Arkansas Foodbank reaffirms the company’s continued commitment to serving Little Rock and the state of Arkansas.

“We are proud to continue our support of the Little Rock Cares Fund and all Arkansans with this donation during the COVID-19 crisis.  It is critical that we continue to care for those who are most vulnerable during this time.  Together we can Help Arkansas Live Better.” – John Ryan, President and CEO, Arkansas Health & Wellness, Arkansas Total Care.

HHS AWARDS ARKANSAS NEARLY $170 MILLION RELIEF FUND PAYMENTS FOR SAFETY NET HOSPITALS, MEDICAID & CHIP PROVIDERS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding nearly $170 million to Arkansas Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers diagnosing, testing or caring for individuals with possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

HHS distributed a total of $169,908,060 to eligible Medicaid and CHIP providers on the front lines of Arkansas’s coronavirus response. The award was made available through the Provider Relief Fund created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress passed—with the Arkansas delegation’s support—to address the coronavirus crisis.

“The providers receiving funding through this award treat the most vulnerable in Arkansas. These vital resources will ensure our medical community can continue to provide high-quality treatment and services to every Arkansan as the state enters phase two of reopening,” members said.    

ARKANSAS DELEGATION SUPPORTS GOVERNOR’S REQUEST FOR MAJOR DISASTER DECLARATION
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—wrote to President Donald Trump urging him to support Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for a federal disaster declaration for Arkansas, Bradley, Cleveland, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Grant, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ouachita and Phillips Counties due to extensive damage as a result of severe storms on April 12, 2020.

“We believe the severe magnitude of these weather events warrant supplementary Federal assistance. The state of Arkansas has already been dealing with financial hardships due to extensive damages from previous extreme weather events hurting local businesses and agricultural enterprises. This, coupled with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have put the state of Arkansas in a dire situation,” members wrote.

The letter can be found below: