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November 24, 2020

OUACHITA COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT HOLIDAY STATEMENT
The Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department asks residents to be careful over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Follow all traffic laws. Buckle up. When traveling, let someone knows your destination, the route you’re taking and your estimated time of arrival. Carry a cell phone in case of emergency. If you drink, don’t drive. Have a designated driver. Call 231-5300 or dial 911 in case of emergency. Happy Thanksgiving form the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office.

 

QUARANTINE RELIEF PROGRAM
The Quarantine Relief Program (QRP) was developed to help individuals that are quarantined due to COVID-19.  After a positive test, the patient is subjected to social isolation and separated from society.  If patient has lack of family or financial support, social isolation can lead to patient re-entering society and spreading the virus.  Also the people that patient has come in contact with will be quarantined for 2 weeks.  This person may also need assistance through this program.

If you or someone you know needs help obtaining necessary supplies while quarantined, please call The Hub at 870-231-1111.

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID PRESS CONFERENCE – NOVEMBER 24, 2020
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 complications continue to increase in Arkansas. Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported during his weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday that nearly 1,000 Arkansans are currently hospitalized due to the virus. 

In other statewide figures, an additional 2,122 cases were reported on Tuesday for a statewide, cumulative total of over 148,000. Of those, just over 17,000 are currently active. Deaths rose by 14 on Tuesday to a total of 2,405 since the pandemic began. An additional 1,800 recoveries were reported over the past 24 hours. That means nearly 129,000 Arkansans have contracted the virus and since recovered. 

Testing efforts remain strong, with combined antigen and PCR tests numbering around 15,000 since Monday. So far the state has overseen more than 300,000 tests in November, or nearly 10 percent of Arkansas' population.

Hutchinson provided an update on the process the state uses for its contact-tracing efforts. He said the state has triaged contact tracing efforts into two levels. Which priority a person may fall in is dependent on how long it's been since their initial exposure was detected. Either way, Hutchinson said the state is investigating each confirmed COVID-19 patient and reaching out to anyone they may have exposed. 

One of the challenges the state has faced is Arkansans, understandably, not answering calls from unknown numbers. Hutchinson said the state will use one of the following three numbers in its contact tracing efforts: 877-272-6819, 833-283-2019 and 501-686-5875. The governor urges all Arkansans to answer if they receive a call from one of these three phone numbers.

Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero is again stressing families to be cautious as they gather this Thanksgiving. He urges Arkansans to try and keep their get-togethers to a "nuclear Thanksgiving;" that is, a Thanksgiving event limited to the immediate members of your household. He shared a few other words of advice on how people can do their best to celebrate safely this holiday.

Romero shared a little good news in regards to the expected arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the future. He said the state is hoping to receive the first shipment of vaccines starting around the beginning of 2021. Those initial vaccinations will be set aside for healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations in Arkansas. Romero however said vaccines for the general public will likely not be available until the second or third quarter of the year.

Troy Wells, CEO of Arkansas Baptist Health in Little Rock, gave an update on the state of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state. He said hospitalizations continue to rise but that hospitals in the state still have capacity available. Nonetheless, he said it's safe to say hospitals and healthcare workers are busier than ever with the increasing COVID caseload. He gave a specific shoutout to healthcare professionals across Arkansas for their tireless dedication to treating victims of the pandemic.

In review, the state reported an additional 2,122 cases on Tuesday for a cumulative total of 148,000 since the outbreak began. Deaths rose by 18 to 2,405 and hospitalizations by 14 to 988. Active cases of COVID-19 grew by 330 on Tuesday to a currently confirmed total of 17,000 confirmed active cases in the state. Over 15,000 tests were performed between Monday and Tuesday.

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

ARREST MADE IN I-530 HOMICIDE
NOVEMBER 23, 2020
Anthony Madison, 20, of Pine Bluff has been arrested and charged in connection with the September 3, 2020 homicide and attempted murder of three others individuals that occurred along Interstate 530 south of Little Rock.

A copy of the original Arkansas State Police news release reporting the incident can be found at:
https://www.dps.arkansas.gov/news/gunfire-along-i-530-claims-one-death-three-injured/Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division have been the lead investigators assigned to the case.

Madison appeared in Saline County court today and is currently being held in the Saline County Detention Center without bond.
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 23, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 


COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 629
Confirmed Cases: 575
Probable Cases: 54
Total Active Cases: 152
Active Confirmed Cases: 129
Active Probable Cases: 23
Total Recovered Cases: 465
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 434
Recovered Probable Cases: 31
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,461
Confirmed Cases: 1,249
Probable Cases: 212
Total Active Cases: 133
Active Confirmed Cases: 97
Active Probable Cases: 36
Total Recovered Cases: 1,272
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,103
Recovered Probable Cases: 169
Total Deaths: 56
Confirmed Deaths: 49
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1000
Confirmed Cases: 769
Probable Cases: 231
Total Active Cases: 130
Active Confirmed Cases: 75
Active Probable Cases: 55
Total Recovered Cases: 846
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 670
Recovered Probable Cases: 176
Total Deaths: 24
Confirmed Deaths: 24
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 269
Confirmed Cases: 259
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 56
Active Confirmed Cases: 53
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 207
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 200
Recovered Probable Cases: 7
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 130
Confirmed Cases: 115
Probable Cases: 15
Total Active Cases: 31
Active Confirmed Cases: 26
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 99
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 89
Recovered Probable Cases: 10
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

NFIB: SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT THIS SEASON
LITTLE ROCK (Nov. 23, 2020) -- NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith says it's important this season to shop local on Small Business Saturday, either in person, online or over the phone. Small Business Saturday is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

"This pandemic has taken a heavy toll on Arkansas' small businesses," Smith said. "Businesses have had to make changes to keep customers and employees safe, but revenue is down, and some businesses have had to close for good.

"That’s why we need to make a point of supporting local businesses on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season," Smith said. "If you can't support them in person, support them by shopping online or ordering by phone and taking advantage of curbside pickup or delivery. Or, buy gift certificates you can redeem once things get back to normal.

"Small businesses are the foundation of Arkansas's economy," Smith said. "By helping them get through this crisis, we'll make our communities stronger in the year ahead." 

The National Federation of Independent Business is the nation's leading small business advocacy organization. To learn more about NFIB in Arkansas, visit www.NFIB.com/AR and follow @NFIB_AR on Twitter.

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN CALLS FOR A COMPLETE PHASE-OUT OF ARKANSAS'S PERSONAL INCOME TAX
Says 'Eliminating the income tax will incentivize work and productivity, attract high-quality, good-paying jobs, and unleash Arkansas small businesses'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Griffin today called for a complete and total phase-out of Arkansas's personal income tax over a period of several years and provided the following statement: 

"Governor Hutchinson and the General Assembly deserve tremendous credit for lowering our chronically uncompetitive income tax rates from 7.0% to 5.9%, starting in 2015. However, there is much more work to be done. Now more than ever before, states are competing with each other: for jobs, for new movers, for skilled workers, and for quality of life. Arkansas needs bold ideas if we are to make our state the best possible place to live, work, and raise a family. That's why I'm calling for a complete and total phase-out of Arkansas's personal income tax. Eliminating the income tax will incentivize work and productivity, attract high-quality, good-paying jobs, and unleash Arkansas small businesses. I am ready to chart a course that leads Arkansas to a brighter future -- one with zero income tax. That conversation begins today.

"Eliminating the income tax won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight. It could take 10 years or possibly even longer. How long it will take to achieve this goal will depend on a number of factors, including our rate of economic growth and our commitment to spending discipline and reform of state government. We must be responsible and do it in a way that protects funding for essential government services, especially for our most vulnerable citizens. But this goal should be our North Star - every tax-related decision in state government should be made through the prism of whether it moves us closer to or further away from this goal. I know from many conversations with both legislators and Arkansans from all corners of our state that they are ready for this bold idea." 
 

South Arkansas Arts Center LogoSAAC TO HOST SOCIALLY DISTANT THEATRE EVENTS
The Theatre Steering Committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center announces plans to honor SAAC's rich theatrical past with an exhibition of photo montages of shows from the organization's half-century of history. Entitled "Love Letters to SAAC," the exhibit will include photography from shows throughout the decades and will be on display in the Merkle Gallery December 1-20.
The exhibition will be celebrated with a socially-distanced reception at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 4. While there is no entry fee, guests are asked to RSVP for a limited-entry time slot at www.saac-arts.org. In the gallery, they can enjoy a single-serving refreshment and take a walk down memory lane while viewing the montages. They are even asked to help us identify a few of the stars of days gone by.
Mary Egerer, who has been an integral part of the SAAC theatre community since her first production of "The Sound of Music" in 1966, is enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing so many photo montages again. "They bring back so many memories, from friends I haven't seen in many years to the specific details of the costumes and the music from the different shows," she said. "We need to find a way to remember everyone who has been a part of this wonderful organization and our lives!"
The event will also be an opportunity to purchase tickets for the extremely limited seats to SAAC's production of "Love Letters" by A.R. Gurney, scheduled for December 18-20. Love Letters is the story of Melissa and Andrew, childhood friends who grow up and go off to college, war, and careers. They remain in touch via handwritten letters, and even kindle a brief romance for a time. The play is told entirely in correspondence, over the course of about 50 years. As the letters the send to each other are read aloud, it creates an evocative, touching, frequently funny, but very revealing and meaningful story of two lives. To ensure social distancing, the performances are limited to 50 tickets, which must be reserved at www.saac-arts.com or by calling 870-862-5474. Face coverings are required.
"Although we can't produce large-scale theatrical productions and musicals because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the theatre committee really wanted to find a way to produce something creative for the community that could be done safely and for a very small audience," said executive director Laura Allen. "This show presents a wonderful solution without sacrificing the author's intent."
To honor our community's sacrifices during this ongoing pandemic, all tickets are available for the SAAC member price of $10. Call 870-862-5474 or visit the website for more information.  

November 23, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 23, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 


COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 608
Confirmed Cases: 556
Probable Cases: 52
Total Active Cases: 146
Active Confirmed Cases: 123
Active Probable Cases: 23
Total Recovered Cases: 450
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 421
Recovered Probable Cases: 29
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,450
Confirmed Cases: 1,241
Probable Cases: 209
Total Active Cases: 131
Active Confirmed Cases: 94
Active Probable Cases: 37
Total Recovered Cases: 1,263
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,098
Recovered Probable Cases: 165
Total Deaths: 56
Confirmed Deaths: 49
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 988
Confirmed Cases: 759
Probable Cases: 229
Total Active Cases: 129
Active Confirmed Cases: 69
Active Probable Cases: 60
Total Recovered Cases: 835
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 666
Recovered Probable Cases: 169
Total Deaths: 24
Confirmed Deaths: 24
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 265
Confirmed Cases: 255
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 52
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 204
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 197
Recovered Probable Cases: 7
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 127
Confirmed Cases: 112
Probable Cases: 15
Total Active Cases: 31
Active Confirmed Cases: 26
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 96
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 86
Recovered Probable Cases: 10
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 145,173
Confirmed Cases: 128,493
Probable Cases: 16,680
Recovered Cases: 125,153
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

PUBLIC NOTICE SPSC FLUSHING LINES
Shumaker Public Service Corporation will begin flushing water lines on December 7th through January 1, 2021. Flushing will begin in Highland Industrial Park on December 7th. and will move into the East Camden residential area that same day. This process will take approximately 20 workdays to complete. We ask that you take precautions while doing laundry due to sediments stirred up in the lines. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.


FRANKENBERG NAMED VICE PRESIDENT AND CFO OF AECC/AECI
Little Rock, Ark. — Nov. 20, 2020 — David Frankenberg has been named as vice president and chief financial officer of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI) effective Jan. 1, 2021. Frankenberg replaces Michael Henderson, who is retiring after 36 years of service with AECC and AECI.

Frankenberg has more than 20 years of experience in accounting and finance, including more than 12 years in the utility industry. Most recently, he served as the director of enterprise forecasting and financial planning for Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the operator of the nation’s largest public power system and power supplier to a population of approximately 10 million people. While at TVA, Frankenberg held additional director-level roles covering areas such as technical accounting, enterprise risk management, Sarbanes-Oxley internal controls compliance, operational accounting and budgeting, and Securities and Exchange Commission reporting.

“I want to thank Michael Henderson for his dedication and leadership to AECC and AECI and wish him the best in his future endeavors as CEO of Today’s Power, Inc.,” said Buddy Hasten, president/CEO of AECC/AECI. “We welcome David to the AECC/AECI family and look forward to his leadership in driving the continued long-term financial success of both the generation and transmission cooperative and the statewide services association.”

In addition to Frankenberg’s experience in the electric utility industry, he has also held financial leadership roles in the mining and pharmaceutical industries subsequent to his time in public auditing. Frankenberg holds several certifications, including Certified Public Accountant. He earned both a masters and bachelor’s degrees in accounting from the University of Tennessee.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.


HOW TO REPLACE A MISSING SOCIAL SECURITY CARD ONLINE
By Tonya Cater
If you need to replace your lost or misplaced Social Security card, our online application makes getting a replacement card easier than ever.  Requesting a card replacement online is available if you live in the District of Columbia or one of the 45 states that can verify state ID information for us.  If you’re only requesting a replacement card and you’re making no changes, you may be able to use our free online service.

All you need to do is create a personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount and meet certain requirements.  Opening a personal my Social Security account is easy, convenient, and secure.  We protect your information by using strict identity verification and security features.  Once you have a personal account, simply follow the instructions to request a replacement Social Security card.

You can apply for a replacement card online, if you meet all of the following requirements:

Are a U. S. citizen age 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address (this includes APO, FPO, and DPO addresses).

Are not requesting any changes to your card (including a name change).

Have a valid driver’s license or state-issued identification card.

In many cases, you may not need a replacement card; often, simply knowing your Social Security number is enough.

But if you do need a replacement card, please visit our website at www.ssa.gov/ssnumber to find out if you can take advantage of this convenient online service.

 

November 20, 2020

SEVEN ARKANSAS COMMUNITIES RECEIVE WATER AND WASTEWATER PROJECT FUNDING
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Commission approved $2,422,683.37 for water and wastewater projects serving more than 2,786 people in seven Arkansas communities on November 18, 2020. The projects are as follows:

The Beaver Dam Drainage District in Greene and Randolph Counties received a $1,030,000 loan from the Water Development Fund for restoration of the existing drainage system which benefits 15,120 acres of agricultural land in the two counties.

The City of Dover in Pope County received a $375,000 loan with principal forgiveness from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. These project funds will be used to conduct a sanitary sewer evaluation survey of the existing collection system and to develop a prioritized plan for rehabilitation, repairs, and replacement of the system. This project will benefit 588 sewer customers.

The Wilburn Water Association in Cleburne County received a $403,532.37 grant from the Water Sewer & Solid Waste Fund to connect the Association’s water system to the Heber Springs Water System and decommission the Association’s existing water treatment plant. This project will benefit the Association’s 326  water customers.

The Wright-Pastoria Water Association in Jefferson County received a $356,460 loan from the Arkansas Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund to replace the existing water meters with an upgraded drive-by meter system.  The new meters will log customer data in a more efficient manner and will reduce the operational costs of the Association. The Wright-Pastoria Water Association also received an increase in funding of $64,650 on an existing loan. The customer base for the Association is 444. 

The City of Turrell in Crittenden County received a $114,040 grant from the Water Sewer & Solid Waste Fund to replace outdated water meters, a master meter, and an ultrasonic meter on the force main for the City for Jericho. Turrell has approximately 186 sewer customers.

The City of Hampton in Calhoun County received $56,650 in additional funding on an existing loan.   The customer base for the project is 568.

The City of Fifty-Six in Stone County received $22,351 in additional emergency funding.  The City of Fifty-Six has a customer base of 230.

More information about the Natural Resource Division’s water and wastewater programs can be found at agriculture.arkansas.gov/natural-resources/ or by contacting Debby Dickson at debra.dickson@arkansas.gov or 501-682-0548 or Debra Banks at debra.banks@arkansas.gov or 501 682-0547.

Learn more about the Arkansas Department of Agriculture at agriculture.arkansas.gov.

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 20, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 


COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 562
Confirmed Cases: 518
Probable Cases: 44
Total Active Cases: 120
Active Confirmed Cases: 101
Active Probable Cases: 19
Total Recovered Cases: 430
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 405
Recovered Probable Cases: 25
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,393
Confirmed Cases: 1,196
Probable Cases: 197
Total Active Cases: 98
Active Confirmed Cases: 66
Active Probable Cases: 32
Total Recovered Cases: 1,239
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,081
Recovered Probable Cases: 158
Total Deaths: 56
Confirmed Deaths: 49
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 929
Confirmed Cases: 723
Probable Cases: 206
Total Active Cases: 101
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 53
Total Recovered Cases: 805
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 652
Recovered Probable Cases: 150
Total Deaths: 23
Confirmed Deaths: 23
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 254
Confirmed Cases: 244
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 52
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 196
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 190
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 117
Confirmed Cases: 105
Probable Cases: 12
Total Active Cases: 28
Active Confirmed Cases: 25
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 89
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 80
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 139,855
Confirmed Cases: 124,165
Probable Cases: 15,690
Recovered Cases: 120,545
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

SOCIAL SECURITY IS IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
In November, we show gratitude for the many things we are thankful for throughout the year.  Family usually tops the list.  The strong women in our lives are one of the central figures we appreciate.

More women in the 21st century work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history.  Yet, on average, women face greater economic challenges in retirement than men.

The majority of the people receiving Social Security benefits are women.  Women generally live longer than men while often having lower lifetime earnings.  And women may reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets compared to men.  These are three key reasons why Social Security is vitally important to women.

If you’ve worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system for at least 10 years, and have earned a minimum of 40 work credits, you may be eligible for your own benefits.  Once you reach age 62, you may be eligible for your own Social Security benefit whether you’re married or not and whether your spouse collects Social Security or not.  If you’re eligible and apply for benefits on more than one work record, you generally receive the higher benefit amount.

The sooner you start planning for retirement, the better off you’ll be.  We have specific information for women at www.ssa.gov/people/women.  You can also read the publication What Every Woman Should Know at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10127.pdf.

Please share these links with friends and family you love.

November 20, 2020

Arkansas AG logo

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES FAULKNER COUNTY WOMEN SENTENCED FOR MEDICAID FRAUD 
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced the conviction of two Faulkner County women for Medicaid fraud and elder abuse. Vonita Pitones and Juanita Rowden (Juanita Cruz) pleaded guilty to one count of theft by deception, a Class C felony, and abuse of adults, a Class D felony, in Faulkner County Circuit Court.

Pitones was sentenced to three years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections with an additional two years suspended imposition of sentence. Rowden was sentenced to five years probation and also ordered to pay a fine of $2,500. As part of the sentencing agreement, they must jointly and severally pay $2,639 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund.

“Investigators and Arkansas Attorney General’s office attorneys work tirelessly to investigate and prosecute those who commit Medicaid fraud and elder abuse,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will ensure that people attempting to defraud and hurt Arkansans are held accountable and that type of action is not tolerated in our State.”

Rowden provided private care to the victim and unlawfully filled out Medicaid documents to allow her daughter, Pitones, to be her home health aide through Absolute Care in Conway. Pitones billed for Medicaid services not provided including changing and bathing the victim. Neither Rowden nor Pitones provided adequate care and the victim was neglected. The victim’s daughter found her mother in need of medical attention. She was hospitalized for dehydration, sepsis, pneumonia and several pressure wounds. The victim passed away eight days later. The case was referred to the Attorney General's Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit by the Faulkner County Prosecutor’s Office and was prosecuted in conjunction with them.

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.

November 19, 2020

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 15 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that OV Thomas, age 36, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced to a total of 188 months in federal prison followed by five 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 spring of 2019, Detectives with the 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration launched an investigation into Thomas for drug trafficking in the Western District of Arkansas. The investigation determined that Thomas was an upper level member of a drug distribution ring, which operated primarily in the Western District of Arkansas.  In March, June and July of 2019, detectives conducted multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Thomas.

Thomas was indicted by a federal grand jury in October of 2019 and entered a guilty plea in February of 2020. 

This case was investigated by the 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations Little Rock, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the 18th East Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn and Special Assistant United States Attorney Trent Daniels prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

TEXAS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 17 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Texarkana, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that, Christopher Ryan Johnson, 37, of Devine, Texas, was sentenced yesterday to 210 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing, in the United States District Court’s Texarkana Division.

According to court records, on October 22, 2018, an Arkansas Sate Police Trooper stopped a Chevy pickup for a traffic violation in Hempstead County, Arkansas.  Johnson, the truck’s driver and sole occupant, gave conflicting stories about who owned the truck, and exhibited other behaviors that caused the Trooper to suspect he might be transporting controlled substances.  The Trooper asked Johnson for consent to search the truck, which he granted.  In the course of the consent search, troopers located a small amount of marijuana in the cab of the truck, and began to search the truck based upon probable cause.  In so doing, they began attempting to open a large, locked toolbox in the bed of the truck, for which Johnson claimed he did not have a key.  As they did so, Johnson fled on foot across the eastbound lanes of Interstate 30, toward the center median.  One trooper was able to catch up with Johnson, and had to pull Johnson out of the path of an eastbound semi truck.  As several troopers struggled to subdue Johnson in the center median, Johnson produced a knife and refused the troopers’ orders to drop it.  Ultimately, Johnson was tased and taken into custody, but not before a trooper’s fingers were cut by the knife Johnson was holding.

After Johnson was arrested, the Troopers opened the toolbox in the bed of the truck.  Inside, they found approximately 22 pounds of suspected methamphetamine.  A Drug Enforcement Administration crime laboratory later determined that it was a mixture of a substance containing at least 9,480.1 grams (over 20 pounds) of pure methamphetamine.

Johnson was indicted by a federal grand jury in February of 2019, and entered a guilty plea in September of 2019.

This case was investigated by the Arkansas State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Arkansas Highway Police.  Assistant United States Attorney Graham Jones prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

SOCIAL SECURITY SPOUSES’ BENEFITS EXPLAINED
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
Understanding how your future retirement might affect your spouse is important.  Here are a few things to remember when you’re planning for your retirement.  Your spouse’s benefit amount could be up to 50 percent of your full retirement age benefit amount.  If you qualify for a benefit from your own work history and a spouse’s record, we always pay your own benefit first.  You cannot receive spouse’s benefits unless your spouse is receiving their retirement benefits (except for divorced spouses).

If you took your reduced retirement first while waiting for your spouse to reach retirement age, your own retirement portion remains reduced.  When you add spouse’s benefits later, the total retirement and spouses benefit together will total less than 50 percent of the worker’s amount.  You can find out more about this at www.ssa.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html.

If your spouse’s retirement benefit is higher than your retirement benefit, and he or she chooses to take reduced benefits and dies first, your survivor benefit will be reduced, but may be higher than what your spouse received.

If your deceased spouse started receiving reduced retirement benefits before their full retirement age, a special rule called the retirement insurance benefit limit may apply to you.   The retirement insurance benefit limit is the maximum survivor benefit you may receive.  Generally, the limit is the higher of:

The reduced monthly retirement benefit the deceased spouse would have been entitled to if they had lived, or

82.5 percent of the unreduced deceased spouse’s monthly benefit if they had started receiving benefits at their full retirement age (rather than choosing to receive a reduced retirement benefit early).

Knowing about these benefits can help you plan your financial future.  Access a wealth of useful information and use our benefits planners at www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement.
 

SURVEY SAYS: COST OF THANKSGIVING FEAST DOWN SLIGHTLY
Lower cost of ham, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie mix behind price drop
LITTLE ROCK — For the second year in a row, the average cost of the classic Thanksgiving meal reflected a modest decrease, according to Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 35th annual survey of items included in the holiday feast. This year’s meal will cost $57.14 for a family of 10, down 61 cents from last year’s average of $57.75.

Mark Lambert, director of Commodity Activities and Economics for Arkansas Farm Bureau, said a decrease in wholesale pork prices offset the slight increase in turkey prices.

“Ham prices saw a decrease on a per-pound basis of 20 cents, which can be attributed to record pork production and a six percent decrease in wholesale prices,” Lambert said. “Also, freezers saw a 32-percent decrease from a year ago in their bone-in ham stocks. Turkey prices increased by three cents per-pound, which was due to higher wholesale prices and inventory in freezers almost equal to a year ago.”

According to Lambert, disruptions in the second quarter due to covid-19 outbreaks in poultry processing plants had very little impact on turkey stocks.

 “That American consumers continue to be able to prepare the meal for less than $6 per person is testament to the efficiency of our farmers and ranchers and despite the pandemic, providing them access to affordable food for the holiday season,” he said.

 The statewide average is based on responses from members of the Arkansas Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee and other volunteers who surveyed food prices at 10 grocery stores and supermarkets across the state. They were asked to report the “best in-store price” of 15 items included in the meal and are allowed to take advantage of advertised specials, excluding discount coupons and purchase requirements.
Arkansas food prices remain more affordable than elsewhere in the U.S. American Farm Bureau’s national survey revealed an average price of $60.11 or roughly $6 per person.

“This has truly been a challenging and unusual year for all Americans,” said Arkansas Farm Bureau president Rich Hillman. “Yet, despite the pandemic and disruptions in the supply chain earlier in the year, we continue to have the most affordable and abundant food supply in the world. Our farmers, ranchers and those in our food production and delivery system have worked tirelessly to ensure our families have access to the nutritious, abundant food they’ve come to expect. As we do each Thanksgiving, many families and charitable organizations will share the meal with those who are not as fortunate, and that is truly reason to give thanks,” Hillman said.

Though unscientific, the survey is intended to be a snapshot of actual prices across Arkansas and the nation. The survey period was Oct. 30 – Nov. 12. Click here for a comparison price chart of items in the survey. The average cost of a 16-pound young tom turkey was $17.36 or $1.09 per pound. That’s up from $1.06 per pound last year. American Farm Bureau’s national survey reported an average of $19.39 or $1.21 per pound for the whole bird. The average price of a four-pound half bone-in ham is $7.42 or $1.86 per pound, down from $2.06 per pound in 2019. The cost of protein products such as turkey and ham are the major drivers of the cost of the meal.

Other items in the shopping list that reflected price increases are a 5-pound bag of russet potatoes which cost $2.93 or $.59 per pound, up from $2.62 last year. A gallon of whole milk averaged $3.69, up 40 cents from $3.29 last year.

 Conversely, items that dropped in price were a three-pound bag of sweet potatoes at $2.84, down from $3.16 last year and a 30-oz can of pumpkin pie mix at $3.26, down 13 cents from 2019.

 The remaining items surveyed included a package of fresh cranberries, carrots, celery, frozen green peas and green beans, frozen pie shells, cubed stuffing mix, dinner rolls, and a ½-pint carton of whipping cream.
 


COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 19, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 547
Confirmed Cases: 505
Probable Cases: 42
Total Active Cases: 111
Active Confirmed Cases: 94
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 424
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 399
Recovered Probable Cases: 25
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,380
Confirmed Cases: 1,191
Probable Cases: 189
Total Active Cases: 93
Active Confirmed Cases: 68
Active Probable Cases: 25
Total Recovered Cases: 1,231
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,074
Recovered Probable Cases: 157
Total Deaths: 56
Confirmed Deaths: 49
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 913
Confirmed Cases: 717
Probable Cases: 196
Total Active Cases: 97
Active Confirmed Cases: 49
Active Probable Cases: 48
Total Recovered Cases: 793
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 645
Recovered Probable Cases: 148
Total Deaths: 23
Confirmed Deaths: 23
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 252
Confirmed Cases: 243
Probable Cases: 9
Total Active Cases: 53
Active Confirmed Cases: 49
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 193
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 188
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 113
Confirmed Cases: 102
Probable Cases: 11
Total Active Cases: 31
Active Confirmed Cases: 28
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 82
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 74
Recovered Probable Cases: 8
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 137,617
Confirmed Cases: 122,481
Probable Cases: 15,136
Recovered Cases: 118,751

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

November 18, 2020

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, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Christopher Gibson, age 41, of Crossett, Arkansas, was sentenced today to 63 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.

According to court records on October 9, 2019, Arkansas State Parole Officers and Ashley County Sheriff’s Deputies conducted a parole search on Gibson at Gibson’s residence, which is located in the Western District of Arkansas. During the search of his residence, officers located and seized a loaded Mossberg 12-guage shotgun and several shotgun shells.  Gibson was taken into custody without incident.

Gibson was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2019, and entered a guilty plea in February of 2020.

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This case was investigated by the Ashley County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Probation and Parole Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Fire, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF). Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case for the United States.

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 18, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.




COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 526
Confirmed Cases: 488
Probable Cases: 38
Total Active Cases: 95
Active Confirmed Cases: 82
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 419
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 394
Recovered Probable Cases: 25
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,358
Confirmed Cases: 1,176
Probable Cases: 182
Total Active Cases: 81
Active Confirmed Cases: 59
Active Probable Cases: 22
Total Recovered Cases: 1,222
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,069
Recovered Probable Cases: 153
Total Deaths: 55
Confirmed Deaths: 48
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 890
Confirmed Cases: 708
Probable Cases: 182
Total Active Cases: 81
Active Confirmed Cases: 44
Active Probable Cases: 37
Total Recovered Cases: 787
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 642
Recovered Probable Cases: 145
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 242
Confirmed Cases: 233
Probable Cases: 9
Total Active Cases: 47
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 189
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 184
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 111
Confirmed Cases: 101
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 34
Active Confirmed Cases: 31
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 77
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 70
Recovered Probable Cases: 7
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 135,902
Confirmed Cases: 121,153
Probable Cases: 14,749
Recovered Cases: 117,608
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

SIGN UP FOR MEDICARE PART B ONLINE
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
For many people, signing up for Medicare Part B doesn’t require you to leave the comfort of home.  Please visit the Medicare Part B webpage at secure.ssa.gov/acu/ophandler/loginSuccess  if:
You’re enrolled in Medicare Part A.
You would like to enroll in Part B during the Special Enrollment Period.

You can complete form CMS-40B (Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B [Medical Insurance]) at www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms-Items/CMS017339 and CMS-L564 at www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/Downloads/CMS-L564E.pdf (Request for Employment Information) online.

You can also fax the CMS-40B and CMS-L564 to 1-833-914-2016; or return forms by mail to your local Social Security office.  Please contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) if you have any questions.  

 Note:  When completing the forms:
State, “I want Part B coverage to begin (MM/YY)” in the remarks section of the CMS-40B form or online application.
If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion as best you can on behalf of your employer without your employer’s signature.
Submit one of the following types of secondary evidence by uploading it from a saved document on your computer:
Income tax returns that show health insurance premiums paid.
W-2s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions.
Pay stubs that reflect health insurance premium deductions.
Health insurance cards with a policy effective date.
Explanations of benefits paid by the GHP or LGHP.
Statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums.

 Please let your friends and loved ones know about this online, mail, or fax option.

CAIR WELCOMES INTRODUCTION OF HATE CRIME BILL IN ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE 
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/17/2020) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed the introduction of anti-hate crime legislation in the Arkansas legislature.    

On Monday, state lawmakers in Little Rock filed legislation combating hate crimes, the latest in a series of attempts. The bill is designed to strengthen penalties for discrimination based on sex, national origin, religion, and a number of other factors. 

Penalties under this new bill could increase sentences by up to 20 percent. Arkansas currently has legislation increasing sentences for hate crimes by law enforcement and first responders. However, it is among the few states (Arkansas, South Carolina, Wyoming) without existing anti-hate crime legislation. Previous attempts have been made in the state legislature and have yet to succeed. 

The latest hate crime bill will be introduced when the legislature comes back into session, in mid-January 2021. 

 SEE: Arkansas Lawmakers File Hate Crime Bill 
https://wreg.com/news/arkansas-lawmakers-file-hate-crime-bill/        

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.   

SENATORS INTRODUCE RESOLUTION HONORING THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM FOR RECEIVING NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
WASHINGTON–The Senate Hunger Caucus has unveiled an effort to honor the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) for receiving the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

The caucus co-chairs—Sens. John Boozman (R-AR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jerry Moran (R-KS)—have introduced S.Res.774 that congratulates the WFP for being awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, affirms the organization’s mission and expresses support for the leadership of WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

Additionally, the resolution reiterates the Senate’s commitment to the goal of working with the international community to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition through the work of the WFP.

“Eliminating hunger at home and abroad takes an all-hands-on-deck approach. It requires leaders with visionary solutions and supporting team members who are willing to put in the hard work to bring about meaningful change. David Beasley and his team at the WFP embody these principles. I congratulate them and offer my continued support as we work together toward a world where hunger is no longer an issue,” said Boozman.

“For nearly 60 years, the World Food Program has been on the front lines fighting hunger, preventing famines and responding to humanitarian crises across the world,” said Brown. “The WFP is a worthy recipient of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize and I congratulate the women and men of the WFP who have worked so hard to make the world a better place. I am honored to join my colleagues on the Senate Hunger Caucus to recognize the outstanding work of the WFP.”

“World Food Program staff and volunteers are on the front lines fighting famine, hunger and malnutrition in the world’s most difficult to reach regions. Awarding WFP with the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize is not only commendation of the incredible work WFP does, but also a recognition that food security is essential to fighting poverty and achieving a more just and equitable world. As the world deals with an unprecedented pandemic, conflict and displacement, we must not forget that hunger is often one of the first effects of unrest. I congratulate WFP for this well-deserved honor and along with my colleagues remain committed to fighting hunger and malnutrition around the world,” said Casey.

“So many in America and across the globe suffer from a shortage of food. The World Food Program has been a steadfast leader in the fight to end world hunger, providing innovative solutions and determination to end this struggle. I’m proud to join members of the bipartisan Senate Hunger Caucus to introduce a resolution that commends the WFP’s Nobel Peace Prize and recognizes the need to continue our efforts in the Senate to end world hunger,” said Durbin.  

 “As hunger impacts families here in the United States and around the globe, it will take collaboration between producers, Congress and organizations like the World Food Program to eradicate hunger,” said Moran. “Fighting hunger is not only the morally right thing to do; it is also the smart thing to do for our producers, and I applaud the World Food Program and the work they do each day to end hunger.”

“We are deeply grateful for this bipartisan recognition from the leaders of the Senate Hunger Caucus. From the time of the United Nations World Food Program’s creation in 1961, the United States has remained a stalwart and generous donor in support of our lifesaving work in more than 80 countries around the world,” said Barron Segar President & CEO of World Food Program USA. “Being named the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is a timely and decisive acknowledgement that ending hunger is a critical first step towards peace. The award is a tribute to the sacrifice and commitment of the U.N. World Food Program’s 18,000 staff, many of whom work on the frontlines of hunger and conflict, delivering food assistance that offers hope to some of the most vulnerable people, living in some of the world’s most remote and insecure locations.”

November 17, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON COVID-19 UPDATE - NOVEMBER 17, 2020
State officials warn Arkansas is on the precipice of an uncontrollable rise in COVID-19 cases. Now, more than ever, Arkansans are being asked to do their part in slowing the spread of the virus. That was the message shared during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Hutchinson said Arkansas' COVID-19 situation has escalated greatly in recent days and weeks. Figures shared on Tuesday back up the concerns of Hutchinson and other state officials. Hutchinson reported a case increase of more than 1,500 over the past 24 hours. In total, nearly 136,000 Arkansans have contracted the virus since the outbreak began in the spring. Hospitalizations continue to rise to unprecedented levels with another 34 reported on Tuesday. That leaves 895 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. Deaths increased by 20 in Arkansas to a total of 2,245. 

The state's testing regiment remains stronger than ever, with more than 10,000 combined PCR and antigen tests performed on Monday. Officials say the high level of testing evidences both the capacity of and demand for COVID-19 tests in Arkansas.

Hutchinson cited a new White House report warning Arkansas' COVID-19 situation could dramatically worsen in the coming days and weeks. He said the study suggests an additional 1,000 Arkansans could die from the virus before Christmas.

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero once again urged everyone in the state to follow local and state health guidelines. He stressed that reversing the case growth relies upon every Arkansans to do their part.

In response to the virus' increasing impact on Arkansas, Hutchinson said the state is ramping up compliance checks and actions. Mike Moore with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration stated compliance officers are checking more bars and restaurants across the state to ensure they're following social distancing and mask requirements. 

Again, more than 1,500 new cases were reported on Tuesday. That raises Arkansas' cumulative total of confirmed and probable cases at nearly 136,000 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by 20 to 2,245 while hospitalizations grew by 34 to 895. Active cases of the virus in Arkansas grew by 91 to 16,576.  We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

CHRISTMAS IN EL DORADO
FREE Events in Downtown El Dorado AR
Hometown is Downtown for the Holidays in El Dorado!

El Dorado, Arkansas, - Hometown is Downtown for the Holidays and Main Street El Dorado is inviting you to celebrate Christmas traditions and complete your holiday shopping with a series of festive activities throughout the season in El Dorado's award-winning downtown!

"Let's All Open Together" is the tagline to remember in a nod to the holiday shopping season, which has officially kicked off, and a call to shop locally by exploring downtown shops to find great bargains and the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list. For those who are simply looking to soak up the ambiance and energetic cheeriness of the holiday season, downtown El Dorado will transform into a quaint Christmas village, awash in red-and-green lights and other yuletide decorations.

"We all need a little Christmas with everything that's been going on this year," said Beth Brumley, executive director of Main Street El Dorado. "We want to make it as normal as possible for 2020 and it helps the merchants, who already rely on the holidays and fourth-quarter sales to close out the year," Brumley said. Main Street is teaming up with Murphy USA and the Downtown Business Association to present the Hometown is Downtown El Dorado for the Holidays promotion with coronavirus (COVID-19) health and safety protocols in mind.

Activities range from the annual holiday lighting ceremony to Black Friday sales events and an opportunity to visit with Santa, while socially distancing, of course!

Highlights include:
The Downtown Holiday Lighting Ceremony, the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season in El Dorado, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, November 19, on the east (Jefferson Avenue) side of the Union County Courthouse Square:

The night will be filled with live entertainment from local dance groups, singers and other performers. The Salvation Army of El Dorado will hand out free cookies and hot chocolate to the crowd and launch its 2020 Red Kettle Campaign, a charitable fundraiser.

First responders - law enforcement officers, firefighters and healthcare workers - will be honored during the ceremony and will conduct the ceremonial "flipping of the switch" to turn on the holiday lights.

Local television news station KTVE will also broadcast its weather report live on location. Space for the lighting ceremony is limited to the first 300 people. The event area will be blocked to traffic.

Crowds will enter at intersection of Main Street and Jefferson Avenue and exit at the intersection of Elm Street and Jefferson Avenue.

Those who enter and exit the event area will be counted. Face masks will be required.

The community will be invited to help pick a winner in a Window Decorating Contest that starts on the night of the lighting ceremony and is open to downtown merchants.

The deadline is Monday, November 16, to submit entry forms to Main Street El Dorado. Displays must capture the Home is Downtown for the Holidays theme. Entries will be judged on visual impact, creativity, overall use of the theme and incorporation of store products.

Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third-place winners. A winner will also be selected for the People's Choice award.

People will be able to take selfies and vote on their favorite window display by submitting the photos to mainstreeteldorado.org or the Main Street El Dorado Facebook page.

Contest winners will be announced at 5:30 p.m. on First Thursday — 4 until 7 p.m., December 3 — on local radio station KIX 103, who will be broadcasting live from downtown El Dorado

The Downtown Open House is set for 1 until 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 22. Shoppers are encouraged to stroll downtown to see what's new for the holiday season and take advantage of specials, sales and treats at retail stores and restaurants for a safe and enjoyable shopping and dining experience.

Downtown businesses will open from 8 p.m. until midnight on Thanksgiving (November 26) to offer Black Friday deals. Merchants will throw a pajama party so feel free to wear your PJs!

Shop Small Saturday is slated for Saturday, November 28. The national campaign is promoted by American Express to encourage Americans to make a big impact by supporting small businesses.

Stores will open at 10 a.m. in downtown El Dorado.

Santa will also arrive on his sleigh and he will be available for photobombs from noon until 4 p.m.

Photos with Santa will be free for shoppers who present receipts that list purchases from downtown shops and restaurants between November 22 and November 28. Photos will be $5 without a receipt Shoppers may use their cellphone or cameras to snap their own photos or ask a Main Street El Dorado representative to take a photo.

Not sure what to get for a family member, friend or co-worker? Main Street El Dorado gift cards make great Christmas gifts and are available for purchase throughout the holiday season. Gift cards are $25 each and may be used like cash at participating downtown businesses.

Those who purchase gift cards between November 19 and December 3 will be eligible to enter a drawing that will be held on First Thursday in December. An announcement about the prize is forthcoming.

For more information or to purchase a gift card, call the Main Street El Dorado office at 870-862-4747. Also, visit mainstreeteldorado.org or the Main Street El Dorado Facebook page.
 

HOT SPRINGS WOMAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Lessie Gallo, age 39, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced to a total of 300 months in federal prison followed by five 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 summer of 2019, Detectives with the 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration launched an investigation into Gallo for drug trafficking in the Western District of Arkansas.  The investigation determined that Gallo was the head of an extensive drug distribution network that operated primarily in the Western District of Arkansas.  In July and August of 2019, detectives conducted multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Gallo.

Gallo was indicted by a federal grand jury in October of 2019 and entered a guilty plea in February of 2020. 

This case was investigated by the 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations Little Rock, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the 18th East Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn and Special Assistant United States Attorney Trent Daniels prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.
 

$5.5 MILLION LITERACY SUBGRANTS AWARDED TO 128 SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS 
LITTLE ROCK — Students around the state will soon experience the benefits of enhanced literacy programs thanks to the distribution of $5.5 million in federal funds this year. 

The U.S. Department of Education previously awarded the Arkansas Department of Education a five-year grant totaling $38 million (the most allowed under the grant) for the Arkansas Comprehensive Literacy State Development Program, which will improve literacy outcomes for students in grades Pre-K through 12. Ninety-five percent of the funds will be subgranted to schools, districts, and community partners. 

Since being awarded the grant, ADE accepted applications for the Successful Outcomes for Arkansas Readers subgrant and has identified the following 128 schools and districts that will receive funds this first year: https://bit.ly/3nwdXFh. An additional $1.2 million is awarded to the Arkansas Imagination Library, a program under Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library that provides free books to families.

“We were extremely excited to award these much-needed funds to deserving schools and districts that submitted comprehensive plans to improve literacy at their schools and in their communities,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “I cannot stress enough the importance of building a strong foundation in reading, and through this grant, educators will take their literacy programs to the next level, resulting in increased student access to books, robust reading programs, and an improved culture of reading.”

Schools and districts will use the grants to do the following:
develop and implement a comprehensive literacy instruction plan across all content areas;
provide high-quality professional development opportunities for educators;
provide assistance to leadership regarding the support, development, administration, and evaluation of high-quality literacy initiatives;
coordinate the involvement of early childhood educators;
foster collaboration among various stakeholders; and
build a culture of reading.

The subgrants build upon the efforts of R.I.S.E. Arkansas (Reading Initiative for Student Excellence) that was launched by ADE and Gov. Asa Hutchinson in January 2017. The program’s objectives are to strengthen reading instruction, create community collaboration, and build a culture of reading.

To learn more about R.I.S.E. Arkansas, visit http://www.risearkansas.org.

CITY OF CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, October 20, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road in Camden.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 17, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 507
Confirmed Cases: 472
Probable Cases: 35
Total Active Cases: 82
Active Confirmed Cases: 70
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 413
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 390
Recovered Probable Cases: 23
Total Deaths: 11

Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,347
Confirmed Cases: 1,170
Probable Cases: 177
Total Active Cases: 82
Active Confirmed Cases: 61
Active Probable Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 1,210
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,061
Recovered Probable Cases: 149
Total Deaths: 55
Confirmed Deaths: 48
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 878
Confirmed Cases: 704
Probable Cases: 174
Total Active Cases: 81
Active Confirmed Cases: 44
Active Probable Cases: 437
Total Recovered Cases: 775
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 638
Recovered Probable Cases: 137
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 236
Confirmed Cases: 228
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 43
Active Confirmed Cases: 40
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 187
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 182
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 110
Confirmed Cases: 100
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 37
Active Confirmed Cases: 34
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 73
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 66
Recovered Probable Cases: 7
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0


For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

SHANNON WILLIAMS NAMED AFFILIATE OFFICER FOR ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
Little Rock, Ark. (Nov. 17, 2020) – Shannon Williams has been named Arkansas Community Foundation’s affiliate officer. With $442 million in assets, the Community Foundation is a statewide grant-making organization providing tools for charitable giving to all 75 counties through its network of 29 affiliate offices statewide. 

“Shannon is passionate about serving and advocating for nonprofits, communities and underserved populations. His education and experience make him a great fit for working with our affiliate network across Arkansas,” said Heather Larkin, Community Foundation president and CEO.

A native of Lake Village, Williams administers statewide outreach through the affiliate program and provides liaison support between the central office and local affiliate staff and advisory boards. He is excited to contribute his knowledge and talents to help respond to Arkansans' needs and achieve the mission of Arkansas Community Foundation to engage people, connect resources and inspire solutions to build community throughout the state.

He most recently served as an organizational development consultant for the University of North Texas System. Before that, he served as an organizational development specialist for Baptist Health System and as the retention counselor for the University of Central Arkansas College of Education's Partnership for Transition to Teaching Grant Program.

Williams earned a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies from the University of Central Arkansas and a master's degree in Higher Education and three bachelor's degrees from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is a certified StrengthsFinder Facilitator and a trained coach.

For more information about the Foundation’s affiliate network, visit www.arcf.org/affiliates or call 501-372-1116.

Arkansas Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs. By making grants and sharing knowledge, the Community Foundation supports charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create new initiatives that address the gaps.  Since 1976, the Community Foundation has provided more than $310 million in grants and partnered with thousands of Arkansans to help them improve our neighborhoods, our towns and our entire state. Contributions to the Community Foundation, its funds and any of its 29 affiliates are fully tax deductible.

 
 
 

November 16, 2020


SUPPORT FOR VETERANS NOW AVAILABLE THROUGH CARES ACT FUNDING
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Steering Committee has approved a proposal by the Arkansas Department of Human
Services (DHS) Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) to fund mental health services, outreach and education, and crisis intervention through December 2020 for veterans experiencing mental health issues during the public health emergency.

Senator Trent Garner of El Dorado emphasized that the deadline is very soon. Organizations must apply detailing their requested needs and proposed budget for eligible costs by Wednesday, November 18.

The pandemic has had an adverse impact on the mental health of many Arkansans, and some veterans have been severely affected,” Garner said.

“The holidays can be stressful, and they tend to increase the need for suicide prevention and crisis interventions,” he said.

This proposal aims to make sure there are targeted efforts underway to support Arkansas veterans and connect them to services in their communities.

Non-profit veteran service organizations may submit proposals for equipment costs and delivering direct services to veterans experiencing mental health conditions through December 30, 2020.
- $3.4 million will be dedicated to fund direct support for veterans and their families.
- To be eligible organizations must have:
- Mission and vision that align with addressing the needs of Arkansas veterans;
- Demonstrated history of service to Arkansas veterans;
- Leadership and staff that are representative of Arkansas veterans;
- Demonstrated history of clear strategies for engaging Arkansas veterans; and
- Been in operation since March 1, 2019.

Here is a list of eligible services and expenditures:
- First Aid & Trauma Supplies
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Naloxone
- Training & Professional Development
- Hosting Seminars, Support Groups
- Food Assistance for Veterans and Families
- Housing Expenses for Veterans Who are Homeless
- Outreach & Education Campaigns about Available Services
- Information Technology Support & Equipment

• Applications are available at: https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/procurement/details/cares-act-supports-for-veterans-with-behavioral-health-needs-during-the-covid-19-pandemic.

Organizations may submit applications for up to the following amounts:
▪ Organizations with 0 to 4 employees may submit for up to $15,000
▪ Organizations with 5 to 15 employees may submit for up to $30,000
▪ Organizations with 15 to 30 employees may submit for up to $$60,000
▪ Organizations with 30 or more employees may submit for up to $100,000
All recipients will be subject to weekly monitoring on activities and services provided to ensure accountability with CARES Act funds and activities.

 

GIVING TUESDAY CONTRIBUTIONS WILL HELP ARKANSAS CHILDREN, FAMILIES AT METHODIST FAMILY HEALTH
LITTLE ROCK (Nov. 16, 2020) - Many families this year have had to face numerous challenges ranging from employment uncertainty to a global pandemic. Methodist Family Health wants to remind everyone that it’s more important than ever to give back to your community and help support those in need.  Coming up on Tues., Dec. 1, Giving Tuesday is one way that you can help.  This day has been marked as a global effort to encourage people to do good and help those around them.

Arkansans are known for their generosity, and Methodist Family Health asks you to help the children and families of our state by donating to the Methodist Family Health Foundation’s compassion fund.

“Our compassion fund helps us with things to help further the child along in their therapy,” said Carolyn McCone, executive director of the Methodist Family Health Foundation. “These are items such as gas/food gift cards that support a child’s therapy in direct correlation to Methodist Family Health services; unreimbursed needs such as eye/dental appointments, eye glasses, contacts and dental implants; an unfunded necessity item such as a specific size undergarment or clothing; and special therapy needs.”

Methodist Family Health is looking for organizations and individuals in Arkansas to help support our mission of providing the best possible care to those who may need our help. To contribute, visit https://www.methodistfamily.org/donate.html, text TUES to 501-881-2258, visit https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/hub and search for Methodist Family Health Foundation, call 501-906-4201 to make a secure contribution with your debit or credit card, or mail your cash or check donation to Methodist Family Health Foundation, P.O. Box 56050, Little Rock, AR 72215-6050.

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement designed to unleash the power of people and organizations to transform their communities around the world. Created in 2012 as a day that encourages people to do good, it has grown into a global movement.

About Methodist Family Health
Founded in 1899 as the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage, Methodist Family Health provides the best possible care to those who may need our help. A statewide continuum of care, Methodist Family Health each year serves thousands of Arkansas children and their families who are abused, abandoned, neglected and struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues. Methodist Family Health has locations throughout the state, including the Methodist Behavioral Hospital, two residential treatment centers, therapeutic group homes, a day treatment program, outpatient counseling clinics, school-based counseling clinics, a grief center for children and their families, and the Arkansas Center for Addictions Research, Education and Services (Arkansas CARES).
 

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION REGULAR MEETING
The Camden Fairview Board of Education will hold their regular meeting  on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. at Garrison Auditorium.
The agenda is as follows:
1. Call to order.
2. Approval of minutes of previous meetings
3. Communication

4. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
a. None

5. NEW BUSINESS
a. Recognition of Cindy Bever - High Reliability Teacher Cohort for Arkansas
b. Recognition of Cynthia Outlaw - Region 3 Choral Director of the Year
c. Recognition of Jimna Betts - Cognitive Academic Language Therapist
d. Presentation of Math Grant by Judy Dunmire
e. Facility rentals
6. Superintendent's report to the Board
7. Financial report
8. Personnel
a. Hiring
b. Transfer
c. Resignation
d. Retirement

EL DORADO MAN SENTENCED TO 7 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON ON DRUG CHARGES
El Dorado, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that on November 10, 2020, Thomas Lovett, 36, of El Dorado, was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for Aiding and Abetting the Distribution of Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in El Dorado.

In July 2019, as part of an ongoing operation targeting South Arkansas drug traffickers, agents of the FBI and the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force conducted a controlled purchase of methamphetamine that was arranged and facilitated by Lovett. 

Lovett was indicted by a federal grand jury in November of 2019, and entered a guilty plea in May of 2020. 

This case was investigated by the FBI, the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the El Dorado Police Department and the Union County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Graham Jones prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

INDEPENDENT EVALUATION VALIDATES SUCCESS OF ARKANSAS PLC AT WORK® PROJECT
LITTLE ROCK —
An independent evaluation of Arkansas’ Professional Learning Communities at Work® project determined that the program has positively impacted student achievement on the ACT Aspire assessment.

Education Northwest, a third-party research firm that conducts external evaluations of programs to determine their effectiveness, evaluated Arkansas’ PLC at Work® model. After only two years of data, the firm found that Arkansas’ program positively impacted students’ math ACT Aspire scores, as well as the math scores among specific student subgroups. Arkansas’ efforts also resulted in student math achievement gains that exceeded those attributed to other professional learning programs.

“The Education Northwest report confirms what we have known the last couple of years: When a culture of collaboration is created that is entirely student-focused, then student achievement increases,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “When we were introduced to the PLC at Work® model a few years ago, we knew it was critical to success here in Arkansas. This report not only validates educators’ hard work in changing the culture at their school, it also confirms that students are responding to these efforts, resulting in enhanced learning. We are extremely pleased with these results, and I’m excited to see future successes from the program.”

Education Northwest started the three-year study with the first Arkansas PLC at Work® cohort (which includes nine schools and one district). The firm intended to complete the study after the 2020 state assessment; however, COVID suspended testing this spring. The study will conclude in 2021 after state assessments are administered.
To read the full report and learn more about the PLC at Work® process, go to https://bit.ly/36CEdqF.

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 16, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 494
Confirmed Cases: 459
Probable Cases: 35
Total Active Cases: 78
Active Confirmed Cases: 64
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 404
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 383
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,336
Confirmed Cases: 1,161
Probable Cases: 175
Total Active Cases: 82
Active Confirmed Cases: 59
Active Probable Cases: 23
Total Recovered Cases: 1,200
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,055
Recovered Probable Cases: 145
Total Deaths: 54
Confirmed Deaths: 47
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 870
Confirmed Cases: 701
Probable Cases: 169
Total Active Cases: 86
Active Confirmed Cases: 44
Active Probable Cases: 42
Total Recovered Cases: 762
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 635
Recovered Probable Cases: 127
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 232
Confirmed Cases: 225
Probable Cases: 7
Total Active Cases: 42
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 184
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 181
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 104
Confirmed Cases: 94
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 37
Active Confirmed Cases: 33
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 67
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 61
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 133,040
Confirmed Cases: 118,843
Probable Cases: 14.197
Recovered Cases: 114,312

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

November 13, 2020

STATE POLICE CID WILL LEAD INVESTIGATION IN MURDER OF HELENA POLICE OFFICER
NOVEMBER 13, 2020
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are in northwest Mississippi today where two men wanted in connection with the murder of a Helena – West Helena Police Officer yesterday were apprehended early this morning by U.S. Marshals.  Latarius Quayshun Howard, 29, the suspected gunman in the murder, surrendered without resistance in Shaw, Mississippi shortly after 6 AM.  Bruce Hillie, 24, the alleged getaway driver, was apprehended in Indianola, Mississippi.   
The Arkansas State Police will be the lead law enforcement agency to investigate the Thursday evening shooting incident.  Special agents assigned to the department’s Criminal Investigation Division will be responsible for preparing an investigative case file for the Phillips County prosecuting attorney who has filed the state’s charges.  Howard faces a capital murder charge, Hillie, is charged with hindering apprehension.  Both are being held in the Sunflower County Jail at Indianola, Mississippi and will face an extradition hearing before being returned to Arkansas.
Officer Travis C. Wallace, 41, was struck by gunfire during a gun battle with Howard about 6:11 PM outside the Delta Inn located at 1207 U.S. Highway 49 in Helena-West Helena.  Officer Wallace and other local police officers had been looking for Howard who was wanted on charges stemming from a shooting incident in Helena – West Helena about a week ago.
Howard was spotted by Officer Wallace riding in a sport utility vehicle about exit the motel parking lot and turn onto U.S. Highway 49.  The officer used his patrol car to block the truck’s exit, at which time Howard exited the vehicle and reportedly began advancing on the officer while firing a gun.  Officer Wallace returned fire, however there has been no report that Howard was injured.  After wounding Officer Wallace, Howard and the driver, believed to be Hillie, then fled from the crime scene.
Officer Wallace was transported to an area hospital where he died at 7:10 PM.

INTENSIFIED SEATBELT ENFORCEMENT SET TO BEGIN AS THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY TRAVEL APPROACHES
NOVEMBER 13, 2020
Arkansas families have begun making their Thanksgiving holiday preparations.  For many Arkansans, the plans include highway travel across the state or nation.  Local and state law enforcement officers always wish the safest travels for all, but inevitably the festivities are cut short for some as the result of a motor vehicle crash.  The importance of seat belt use is greater than ever and that’s why Arkansas law enforcement agencies are reminding all drivers and their passengers to always buckle-up.  It can make the difference between an everlasting tragedy and living to celebrate next year.
Beginning Monday (November 16th) the annual U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s national Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement plan begins and will be operational for two weeks.  Aimed at enforcing seat belt use laws to help keep people safe, the national seat belt campaign runs concurrent with the upcoming travel season which typically includes an uptick in traffic volume.
“During the Click It or Ticket campaign, we’ll join forces with other law enforcement agencies across local and state lines to ensure the seat belt safety message gets out to all drivers and passengers,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “By far, buckling up is the simplest thing you can do to limit injury or save your life during a crash.  We see the results of not wearing a seat belt all the time.  The loss of life and devastating injuries that could’ve been prevented with the simple click of a seat belt is saddening when all anyone had to do was obey the law.”
According to NHTSA, in 2018, there were 9,778 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. In that same year, 56 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts.  The staggering statistics associated with nighttime travel has prompted the Click It or Ticket campaign to place added emphasis on evening enforcement.  Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night.
For more information about highway safety during Thanksgiving, go to www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org.

COMMISSION APPROVAL FOR SERGEANT PROMOTION
NOVEMBER 12, 2020
Corporal Michael Garlington, 49, of Faulkner County, has been promoted to the rank of sergeant.  The promotional recommendation was made by Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and approved by the Arkansas State Police Commission today during a regular monthly meeting.

Sergeant Garlington is a 22 year veteran of the department and most recently been assigned as a special agent in the Criminal Investigation Division, Company A headquartered at Little Rock.  He will assume supervisory duties under a new assignment with CID, Company B, headquartered at Pine Bluff.


BUSINESS INTERRUPTION GRANT
In partnership with Chambers of Commerce, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is helping business owners navigate the new Business Interruption Grant.

The grant is open to Arkansas small businesses in the service and hospitality industries.

The application period is limited to Nov. 16-25, so the time to act is now!

The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, in cooperation with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, will administer the grant program utilizing $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in industries significantly impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN GRIEVES THE LOSS OF FALLEN HELENA-WEST HELENA POLICE OFFICER
Says ‘I am heartbroken for the family of the officer, the community, and the Helena-West Helena Police Department who lost one of their own’
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Griffin issued the following statement in response to the killing of a Helena-West Helena police officer in the line of duty:

"We face a new day with the knowledge that another Arkansas officer was senselessly taken from us in the line of duty. It is intolerable. This officer was seeking justice for a shooting victim when he was shot and killedI am heartbroken for the family of the officer, the community, and the Helena-West Helena Police Department who lost one of their own. Our officers and their families should not have to fear this type of loss, yet it is one that is increasingly more real to the law enforcement community. I am praying for those grieving and for the killer to be brought to swift justice.”
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 13, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 465
Confirmed Cases: 435
Probable Cases: 30
Total Active Cases: 61
Active Confirmed Cases: 52
Active Probable Cases: 9
Total Recovered Cases: 394
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 373
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,302
Confirmed Cases: 1,136
Probable Cases: 166
Total Active Cases: 83
Active Confirmed Cases: 61
Active Probable Cases: 22
Total Recovered Cases: 1,165
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,028
Recovered Probable Cases: 137
Total Deaths: 54
Confirmed Deaths: 47
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 839
Confirmed Cases: 682
Probable Cases: 157
Total Active Cases: 73
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 35
Total Recovered Cases: 744
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 622
Recovered Probable Cases: 122
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 211
Confirmed Cases: 207
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 21
Active Confirmed Cases: 20
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 184
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 181
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 95
Confirmed Cases: 84
Probable Cases: 11
Total Active Cases: 34
Active Confirmed Cases: 29
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 61
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 55
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 128,006
Confirmed Cases: 115,228
Probable Cases: 12,778
Recovered Cases: 111,357

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

NEARLY ONE-IN-FOUR TEENS LESS LIKELY TO CONSIDER STARTING A BUSINESS AS AN ADULT AS THE RESULT OF COVID-19 IMPACT
Research by Junior Achievement Coincides with National Entrepreneurship Month, which is in November
(Little Rock, Arkansas) – A recent survey for Junior Achievement (JA) by research firm ENGINE Insights shows that nearly one-in-four teens (22%) say they are less likely to consider starting a business as an adult due to the impact of COVID-19 on small business. The release of the survey results coincides with National Entrepreneurship Month in November. The 2020 survey of 1,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 17 was conducted from October 20 to 25, 2020.  

"Entrepreneurship drives innovation, creates jobs, and builds communities, but these results raise some concerns about what business creation will look like in the future," said Tonya Villines, President of Junior Achievement of Arkansas. "It’s important that we encourage today’s young people to consider entrepreneurship as a career option for the future. That’s why entrepreneurship is one of the main areas of focus for Junior Achievement’s educational experiences.”

To help introduce teens to entrepreneurship, for the past five years Junior Achievement has offered JA Launch Lesson. JA Launch Lesson is a point-of-entry program delivered by community entrepreneurs. Students gain firsthand knowledge about starting a business and the entrepreneurial journey. Since its introduction, JA Launch Lesson has reached more than 210,000 teens. This year virtual options of the program will be offered.

Despite the concerns of some teens about starting a business, the survey shows a majority remain open to the idea of being an entrepreneur. More than two-thirds (68%) of teens were "likely" to consider starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur as an adult.

Other findings of the survey include:
Nearly a third of teens (30%) said they would need a “role model in business” to consider becoming an entrepreneur. While most teens (52%) said they need "someone to invest" in their business to consider being an entrepreneur

 Three-in-ten (31%) of teens stated their greatest concern with starting a business is “not having enough money”. 

Methodology
This Youth CARAVAN survey was conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS among a sample of 1,000 respondents aged 13-17. This survey was live on October 20-25, 2020. 

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. The data have been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the 18+ population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.

About Junior Achievement of Arkansas
Junior Achievement is the state’s only organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches over 13,000 students per year across Arkansas.

For more information, visit www.jaark.org or follow the organization on Facebook at JuniorAchievementArkansas and on Twitter @JAArkansas 

November 11, 2020

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MET IN REGULAR SESSION
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in regular session on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order promptly at 7 pm. Social distancing was practiced, and a face covering was required.

The Invocation was given by Greg Nettles, Pastor of the Bethel AME Church, 515 Madison Avenue NE in Camden. The invocation was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. It was noted that once again, Alderman Joe Askew did not take part in the pledge and stood with his back turned to the flag. City Clerk Donna Stewart called the Roll. All Aldermen were present.

The minutes of the Special called meetings of September 09, 2020 and September 22nd as well as the minutes of the regular meeting of October 13, 2020 were approved as well as the Financial Report for October 2020.

Alderman Chris James Bell move Resolution 35-20 to the next item on the agenda.  Resolution #35-20 was a resolution appointing an Alderman to fill the vacancy that was created in Ward 2, Position 2, and to serve the remainder of the unexpired term of office. The Resolution was moved to the top of the agenda. William McCoy was elected to fill that position in the November 3rd election. McCoy was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Chip Simmons. The Mayor swore in Alderman McCoy and he took his place at the Council Table.
The meeting moved to the Audience Participation part of the meeting.
Mayor’s Report. Streets have been taken care of. Thanks to Kevin Franklin for his work and leadership on parks and streets projects. He reminded that Covid is alive and well and asked that if anyone need to see someone at City Hall, please call and make an appointment. He talked about the upcoming Christmas events in Downtown Camden. Budget Workshops are going well and there will be one more called before the December meeting.

Old business was next on the agenda.
Resolution #21-20, a resolution requiring certain materials to be posted on the city website. Motion was made and approved. There was a short discussion. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Ordinance #17-20, an ordinance amending ordinance #19-86 (Camden code section 2-97.2) regarding the airport commission; and for other purposes. This Ordinance will allow coordination between the Airport Commission and the City. Alderman Askew expressed frustration regarding the lack of communication between the Commission and the City. City Attorney Michael Frey explained how things have been working between the two entities and said there are some issues, and this Ordinance is a starting place to fix the issues. After a lengthy discussion, the Ordinance passed.

The Council turned their attention to new business.
Ordinance #41-20 is an ordinance repealing ordinance #02-14 assessing a lien on certain property located at 555 Grinstead Street SE. Motion was made to suspend the rules and move to the third reading. Motion passed. There was a discussion regarding the reduction of the lien. Motion was made to change the $500 to $590 which is the normal 20% usually assessed when a lien is reduced. Amended was approved. Ordinance passed with amendment.

Resolution no. #32-20, a resolution approving the appointment of Mike Smith to the Water and Sewer Commission. Resolution passed.

Resolution #33-20 was a resolution authorizing the payment for a portion of salary for the 39th Arkansas Judicial District Court Judge. Resolution passed.

Resolution #34-20, a resolution amending resolution no. 34-10; setting policy for employee health insurance benefits; and for other purposes. This Resolution would change the amount of money the City Pays for Employee Insurance. The City would be paying more as insurance has gone up not causing undue hardship on the City employees. Resolution passed.

The meeting adjourned at 8:03 pm.
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 11, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 442
Confirmed Cases: 415
Probable Cases: 27
Total Active Cases: 45
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 387
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 367
Recovered Probable Cases: 20
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,277
Confirmed Cases: 1,126
Probable Cases: 151
Total Active Cases: 72
Active Confirmed Cases: 64
Active Probable Cases: 8
Total Recovered Cases: 1,152
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,015
Recovered Probable Cases: 137
Total Deaths: 53
Confirmed Deaths: 47
Probable Deaths: 6
COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 831
Confirmed Cases: 677
Probable Cases: 154
Total Active Cases: 80
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 37
Total Recovered Cases: 729
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 612
Recovered Probable Cases: 117
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 205
Confirmed Cases: 201
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 17
Active Confirmed Cases: 16
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 182
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 179
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 87
Confirmed Cases: 79
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 29
Active Confirmed Cases: 26
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 58
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 53
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 124,235
Confirmed Cases: 112,736
Probable Cases: 11,499
Recovered Cases: 109,235

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

GRIFFIN APPLAUDS GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON'S CALL FOR CONTINUED INCOME TAX RELIEF
Says 'I am excited about Governor Hutchinson's commitment to lowering Arkansas's income tax burden further for the hardworking families of our state'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Griffin released the following statement regarding Governor Hutchinson’s announcement that he would pursue further income tax relief in the 2021 legislative session:

"I am excited about Governor Hutchinson's commitment to lowering Arkansas's income tax burden further for the hardworking families of our state. Reducing the income tax will incentivize work, job creation, and economic productivity and will make Arkansas more competitive with other states. I also support reducing the sales tax burden on used automobiles, a Clinton-era tax that disproportionately harms lower-income Arkansans."
 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: DON’T TEST YOUR LUCK OVER A TROPHY BUCK
LITTLE ROCK – Even though many activities have changed in 2020, Arkansas is still an outdoorsman’s paradise. According to Arkansas law, all hunters are required to carry a valid Arkansas hunting license while hunting and must check all harvested deer within 12 hours.

“Hunting in Arkansas is deeply rooted in our culture, tourism and family traditions,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansans are well-aware of the importance of hunting safely, responsibly and legally because they are conservationists dedicated to passing on our great traditions to the next generation. I am deeply grateful for the many Wildlife Officers committed to preserving the resources of the The Natural State for future generations.”

Attorney General Rutledge urges hunters to follow all regulations and to use the guidebooks and other resources provided by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Arkansas hunters and anglers 16 years or older are required to purchase a hunting or fishing license. A license can be purchased online through the AGFC smartphone app, agfc.com, or over the phone at 501-223-6300, at participating sporting goods stores, nature centers and at AGFC offices.

Arkansas hunters and anglers can carry a digital copy of their hunting and fishing licenses using the AGFC smartphone app. The digital copy also may be carried on their phone as a screenshot of the license image or as an image saved in their phones’ files. They may also carry their license as a paper copy or even a reloadable plastic card to show proof of purchase.

Arkansas hunters are required to check harvested deer within 12 hours, either by the AGFC app, agfc.com, or by phone at 877-731-5627.

Anyone born after 1968 must complete a hunter education course to hunt in Arkansas, which can be completed via instructor or online. Children under 16 may hunt without hunter education as long as they are under the direct supervision of someone who is 21 years or older.

For more information on hunting safely and legally visit www.agfc.com.


VIRTUAL SECRET SANTA THE PERFECT WAY TO GIVE AND STAY SAFE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Little Rock (Nov. 10, 2020) - Kids in our treatment facilities often have a difficult time around the holidays.   With COVID-19 protocols in place, it has made it even more difficult for kids to get the support they need in our treatment and residential facilities around the state.   Many times, our kids and families have been abandoned, abused, neglected, or struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional, or spiritual issues. 

To help you bring a bit of comfort and joy to our kids at the holidays, we’ve created a Virtual Secret Santa Program at Methodist Family Health.   Here’s how it works.   Our kids create their wish list online at Amazon and we set up our virtual Secret Santa Tree online where you can see what the kids are wishing for and can choose to adopt one online.    You can use the provided lists on Amazon to ship directly to our offices or you can drop your gifts off at our offices at 1600 Aldersgate Road in Little Rock.   

If you would like to participate and make a child’s life a little happier this holiday season or if you have any questions about the program, please reach out to Amy Shores at ashores@methodistfamily.org.

About Methodist Family Health
Founded in 1899 as the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage, Methodist Family Health provides the best possible care to those who may need our help. A statewide continuum of care, Methodist Family Health each year serves thousands of Arkansas children and their families who are abused, abandoned, neglected and struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues. Methodist Family Health has locations throughout the state, including the Methodist Behavioral Hospital, two residential treatment centers, therapeutic group homes, a day treatment program, outpatient counseling clinics, school-based counseling clinics, a grief center for children and their families, and the Arkansas Center for Addictions Research, Education and Services (Arkansas CARES).

 

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS RELEASE OF SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE BILLS
WASHINGTON- The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday, released each of its Fiscal Year 2021 funding bills including the Senate Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) bill authored by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR).

Boozman’s bill includes full funding of the VA MISSION Act and electronic health record modernization programs. It also supports the newly enacted Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, which includes a provision by the senator to create a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grant program to reduce and prevent veteran suicide.

“Funding the government is the most important responsibility of Congress. I’m proud of the bipartisan collaboration that resulted in the support of veteran programs and national defense facilities. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to work together with the Senate so we can provide this certainty for Americans,” Boozman said.

Boozman also secured several Arkansas-related priorities in the bills:
Air Force Training: $8 million to support training at Razorback Range.
Pine Bluff Arsenal: Over $25 million for munitions manufacturing.
Department of Defense Research: Funding for collaborative research in which Arkansas companies are engaged, including more than $30 million for silicon carbide research to make smaller components for more sophisticated modern weapons.
National Center for Toxicological Research: $66.7 million to support the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) research to promote and protect public health conducted at the National Center for Toxicological Research. This facility is located in Jefferson County.
Rural Broadband: $400 million to help close the digital divide and invest in rural broadband through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program.
Rural Development: Expanding business development and job training opportunities in rural areas, including $2.8 million for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Access (ATTRA) program which connects Arkansas agricultural producers to information that helps them improve their operations. ATTRA administers the Armed to Farm program that assists veterans in transition to civilian life by training them for a career in farming. ATTRA has a regional headquarters located in Fayetteville.
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA): $285 million to support effective and innovative drug control efforts by federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in HIDTA areas. In Arkansas this includes Benton, Jefferson, Pulaski and Washington counties.V
Veterans Treatment Courts: Support for critical components of our judicial system that offer an alternative treatment to jail for individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Veterans treatment courts received $24 million to help break the cycle of addiction.
Law Enforcement Grants: $481 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program which provides federal, state and local governments the tools to prevent and combat crime and keep their communities safe. In Arkansas, Byrne JAG helps fund multi-jurisdictional programs like Drug Task Forces.
SRF WIN Funding: $5 million is included to help meet underserved or unmet water infrastructure needs, a program Boozman-authored last Congress to create an innovative approach to modernizing critical water infrastructure.

Community Health Centers (CHC):
In Arkansas, there are more than 130 CHC facilities that help nearly 200,000 people get the medical, dental, vision and behavioral health care services they need. The Senate allocates $1.7 billion for these health facilities.
Delta Regional Authority (DRA): The DRA works to improve economic opportunity for residents of the Delta region through targeted investments. The proposed Senate bills include more than $30 million for the DRA which supports grants to the region and funding for basic public infrastructure development and transportation improvements.
Small Business Development: More than $30 million is included for programs that support small business development such as the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program, Women’s Business Centers and Regional Innovation Clusters program.
McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS): The bill includes report language discussing the importance of the MKARNS inland waterway deepening and encourages the Army Corps of Engineers to provide funds for non-structural activities, such as channel deepening, when funding is sufficient to accommodate such projects.

The Senate will now begin negotiations with the House of Representative so a final agreement can be reached to fund the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021.

November 10, 2020

MAGNOLIA WOMAN SENTENCED TO OVER 9 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
El Dorado, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Ashley Martin (a/k/a “Hey Bae Bae”), 34, of Magnolia, Arkansas, was sentenced November 6, 2020, to 110 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing, in the United States District Court’s El Dorado Division.

According to court records, on June 3, 2019, while conducting operations in the Columbia County area, investigators with the FBI and 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force saw Martin and co-defendant, Jarred “Chase” McDaniel, 34, also of Magnolia, Arkansas, in a vehicle traveling east on Highway 82.  Knowing that Martin had an outstanding felony arrest warrant and that McDaniel (who was driving) did not have a valid driver’s license, investigators contacted Arkansas State Police. After an Arkansas State Trooper stopped the vehicle and placed Martin and McDaniel under arrest, the Trooper conducted a vehicle search.  During the search, the Trooper located a red Nike shoebox that contained two zip-lock bags of suspected methamphetamine.

The DEA crime laboratory has since determined that the zip-lock bags contained approximately three and a half pounds of a substance containing methamphetamine.

Martin and McDaniel were indicted by a federal grand jury in June of 2019.  Martin pleaded guilty in February 2020.  McDaniel has also pleaded guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, Magnolia Police Department and Columbia County Sheriff’s Department investigated the case.  Assistant United States Attorney Graham Jones prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.
 

STATE POLICE FOLLOW MURDER CASE LEADS TO OREGON; ARREST MADE IN REBEKAH GOULD HOMICIDE
NOVEMBER 9, 2020
A Texas man visiting Izard County in 2004 has been arrested and charged with murder (1st) degree in connection with the death of Rebekah Christian Gould, whose body was discovered 16 years ago on a hillside off Arkansas Highway 9 south of Melbourne.  
William Alama Miller, 44, now a resident of Cottage Grove, Oregon was arrested Saturday night (November 7th) by a Special Agent of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division.  The arrest occurred in Lane County Oregon after the state police special agent assigned to the case learned Miller had returned to his home following an extended stay in the Philippines.
Miller will remain in the Lane County Jail in Eugene, Oregon pending an extradition hearing.
Ms. Gould was 22 years-old when she was murdered.  In the days leading up to the discovery of her body on September 27, 2004, family members had reported Ms. Gould missing, leading to a community based search across Melbourne and much of Izard County.
Izard county law enforcement authorities handed-off the criminal investigation to Arkansas State Police immediately while the search was underway.  Special Agents of the Criminal Investigation Division have devoted hundreds of hours to the case which was never classified as a cold case.
Upon learning of the arrest, Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police stated, “The special agents assigned to this case never abandoned any hope of finding the necessary evidence and facts to lead them to a suspect and an arrest.  This case is a testament to the Criminal Investigation Division and the devotion the special agents assigned to the division possess in helping police and sheriff’s department across Arkansas with their toughest cases.”

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 10, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 435
Confirmed Cases: 410
Probable Cases: 25
Total Active Cases: 41
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 384
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 363
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,261
Confirmed Cases: 1,110
Probable Cases: 151
Total Active Cases: 68
Active Confirmed Cases: 55
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 1,140
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,008
Recovered Probable Cases: 132
Total Deaths: 53
Confirmed Deaths: 47
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 807
Confirmed Cases: 664
Probable Cases: 143
Total Active Cases: 64
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 27
Total Recovered Cases: 721
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 605
Recovered Probable Cases: 116
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 201
Confirmed Cases: 197
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 13
Active Confirmed Cases: 12
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 182
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 179
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 81
Confirmed Cases: 73
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 25
Active Confirmed Cases: 22
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 56
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 51
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 122,811
Confirmed Cases: 111,761
Probable Cases: 11,050
Recovered Cases: 108,201

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS UNVEILS NEW ENTERGY EFFICIENCY MARKETPLACE
Online site provides discounted items to save money, energy
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Just in time for holiday shopping, the new Entergy Arkansas Marketplace provides residential customers a convenient way to purchase reduced-cost, energy-saving products. Through the online marketplace, Entergy Arkansas customers can purchase discounted LED light bulbs, smart thermostats and advanced power strips that reduce energy use.

A part of the Entergy Solutions Program, the Entergy Arkansas Marketplace offers free shipping on all orders over $35 and a flat shipping rate of $5 for orders under $35. There are quantity limits on some discounted items.

“Part of a clean energy future involves partnering with customers to create simple and innovative ways to improve energy efficiency in their homes,” said Gabe Munoz, Entergy Arkansas manager, Energy Efficiency. “Our Entergy Solutions Program gives customers the opportunity to save money by leveraging technologies to reduce the up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrades.”

Entergy Arkansas shares some simple steps customers can take now to reduce energy costs and save on their monthly bills:
Use energy-efficient LED light bulbs.
Run dishwashers and washing machines only when fully loaded.
Lower water heater temperature.
To make sure the air can circulate, don’t block heat registers or air returns with curtains or furniture.
Ensure ceiling fans are turning clockwise to pull air up in the winter.
Unplug unused appliances or use an advanced power strip.
Set thermostats at 68 degrees during the winter months.

To learn more or participate in additional Entergy Solutions energy efficiency programs, customers can visit entergysolutionsar.com.

ABOUT ENTERGY ARKANSAS
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 715,000 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 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 1ST QUARTER EARNINGS
Treasury hits $400 million milestone
Little Rock, Ark. – The State Treasury reported first quarter earnings of $6.8 million for fiscal year 2021, which ended Sept. 30. The earnings push the total amount earned to more than $400 million during Treasurer Dennis Milligan’s administration. 
“As I reported to the State Board of Finance in our previous meeting, FY 21 is shaping up to be a difficult year for the Treasury,” Milligan said. “While it was undoubtedly a tough quarter, I’m learning to celebrate the successes where I can. As of Sept. 30, my administration has earned the State and the hardworking taxpayers of Arkansas more than $400 million dollars.

“When I first came into office, I pledged to make Arkansans’ tax dollars work harder, and we are doing that. We are doing the best we can with the money we’ve been entrusted, and I’m very proud of this accomplishment.”

The Treasurer also addressed public concerns about why it seems the Treasury’s investment portfolio is not rebounding as quickly as many constituents’ 401K plans appear to be.

“Most 401K plans are made up of both stocks and bonds, and typically the younger someone is, the higher percentage they have of higher-risk investment types such as equities or commodities. Your State Treasury, on the other hand, is limited to more stable, fixed-income securities, which produce lower yields,” Milligan said. “So our ‘rebound’ is going to be slower and look more like someone’s 401K account who is nearing retirement, with investments in CDs, municipal bonds and other more secure assets.”

Milligan gave his investment report to the State Board of Finance today during its regular quarterly meeting.

He also reported that the Treasury had created a new program called “Invest Arkansas,” which authorizes treasury investment staff to purchase municipal bonds of state universities, school districts, cities and counties. It has already secured more than $50 million in Arkansas bonds.

“Like many families in our state who are taking the opportunity to refinance their home mortgages, entities within Arkansas are using this opportunity to refinance their public debt to get better rates and reduce their payments,” Milligan said. “Through ‘Invest Arkansas,’ we are keeping money in Arkansas and earning better yields at a time when interest rates are at zero percent.”

BUFFALO RIVER CONSERVATION COMMITTEE IS ACCEPTING GRANT APPLICATIONS
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Buffalo River Conservation Committee (BRCC) is accepting applications through December 15, 2020 for assistance with funding projects that will benefit water quality and resource management in the Buffalo River Watershed.    

Governor Hutchinson established the BRCC through Executive Order 19-14 on September 23, 2019.  The BRCC is tasked with leading and assisting projects that benefit water quality and resource management in the Buffalo River Watershed with an emphasis being placed on items that engage local stakeholders and landowners that have a positive impact on water quality and are beneficial for landowners within the Watershed.

Approximately $167,400 is available for disbursement.  Funding for the BRCC efforts was made available through Governor Hutchinson and the Arkansas Legislature.  Applications can be found at https://www.cognitoforms.com/ArkansasAgriculture1/brccgrant.   

The BRCC membership consists of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Secretary of the Department of Energy and Environment, Secretary of the Department of Health, and Secretary of the Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.

The members of the BRCC are required to work in cooperation with one another to identify opportunities to leverage their Department’s unique expertise, relationships, focus areas, and funding mechanisms in support of the vitality of the watershed.

The BRCC includes a subcommittee consisting of key stakeholders representing local landowners, conservation organizations, environmental and technical experts, representatives of the tourism industry, local county and municipal officials and federal partners.  The subcommittee assists with identifying opportunities for training, relationship building, and specific projects, in service to preserving and enhancing water quality within the Buffalo River Watershed.

More information about the BRCC can be found at https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/buffalo-river-conservation-committee/.  

 
 
 

November 09, 2020

THE CITY OF CAMDEN PRESENTS CHRISTMAS IN CAMDEN, A NORTH POLE FANTASY!
Experience the magic of the holiday season during Camden’s "North Pole Fantasy” 2020 Christmas celebration!

While we won’t be able to pack stores with crowds or have some activities from last year to maintain social distancing, we still have amazing plans for safe and fun holiday shopping & dining experiences in Camden November-December.

Watch as beautiful new Christmas decorations appear around Camden this year for great community displays! You will again get to enjoy the giant community tree along with other new decorations at the corner of Washington and California Ave. Residents and guest are invited to come hang your ornament on the community tree. A great new display will be located downtown in the city park located at Washington and Adams. This display will delight the imagination of both young and old. Children be sure to come down and drop your letters off in the Santa Mailbox and get your wish list in early. This year will have a new huge 19 foot led Christmas tree complete with digital lightshows. There will also be 2 special photo ops located in the park. One for daytime and one for night, so be sure to bring family and friends down to get your photo.

The Christmas light poles throughout Camden will be decked out as the “Parade of Trees”.

* If you would like to reserve a light pole to decorate as a tree, email director@camdendowntownnetwork.org to reserve one.

Holiday Fun & MORE:
The 2020 Camden Christmas Campaign schedule is filled with TONS of activities from for the entire family:

Saturday, November 14th
• On Saturday, November 14th, 1:30PM join us for a special Christmas Wreath Workshop. This workshop will be held at First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall. Attendance to this event will be very limited, so do not delay on signing up. The cost of the workshop is $75.00 which will include all supplies and instruction to be able to leave this afternoon with your completed wreath, ready to hang. Prepayment is required to confirmation your registration. You can pay via paypal (https://py.pl/1hIVEi) or drop off at 136 W. Washington St in Camden. Deadline to sign up for this workshop is November 2nd.

December 1st – 18th
• Join in the fun to find “Camden’s Elf on the Shelf”. December 1st through the 18th (except for Sundays). Camden’s Elf will be moving all over town. Be sure to watch for the clue to be released each morning on where to find it. Clues can be found on the City of Camden Facebook page. Be the 1st person each morning to find it and post a selfie for your name to go into a drawing for a great grand prize.

Friday, December 4th
• Courthouse Lighting Friday, December 4th is a special night to delight all children. The evening will start off at 6PM with the lighting of the Ouachita County Courthouse. Join us as we flip the switch to light everything up and have a short time of holiday music.

• At 6:30 PM the Ouachita County Fair Board invites all kids to come ride in the special “Kid’s Light Parade”. Children of all ages bring your trikes, bikes, wagons, hoverboards, battery operated cars. Deck them out with battery operated lights and decorations. The line-up will be at the parking lot at Jefferson St. & Harrison Ave. across from the courthouse. Parents are invited to walk beside your child or pull their wagon. The children will make their way around the block and past the Christmas displays to celebrate their own night parade. To sign up, contact Missy Chambers.

• At 7:00 PM, join the Camden Police Department on the Farmer’s Bank Parking Lot for the Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt. Children bring your bags to hunt throughout downtown to find the dozens of hidden candy canes. The hunt will be open to children 10 and under. This is free to the public. All children should be accompanied by an adult and bring a flashlight.

• Saturday, December 5th will be a fun filled day at the Ouachita Recreation Center sponsored by Ouachita County Fair Board. You will find a Christmas market set up from 10:00 AM till 3:00 PM.
• Join in the fun of a Chili Cook Off and sample all the goodness from 11:30 AM till 1:30 PM.
• A Baggo Tournament will start at 10:00 AM.
• As the evening winds down join us for the “Winter Wonderland Walk Through” as you make your way through different North Pole stations.
• Saturday, December 5th at 7 PM the Ouachita Community Concert presents Jimmy Lewis and 8 Second Ride at the Event Center at Fairview Park. Tickets $10 at the door, or free if you have a membership.

Saturday, December 12th
• On Saturday, Dec. 12th, H & P Alliance and Native Dog will sponsor the “12 Strays of Christmas”. Bring your 4-legged children out for this special time to get their Christmas photos, shop the great pet booths and learn how you can be a foster home to help a pet through a difficult time. We will end the evening with a “Deck the Paws” pet parade. So be sure to bring their Christmas finest to dress them for their parade through downtown.

• Living Nativity in the Farmer’s Bank Parking Lot. There will be four performances of the Living Nativity - 6:00 PM, 6:30 PM, 7:00 PM, and 7:30 PM. There will also be Christmas vendors and Strolling Carolers.

Thursday, December 17th
• On Thursday, December 17th we have a great “Guy’s Night Out”. We know it’s hard to shop for your lady, after all which scent, flavor or collection does she like this year….let us help you!! Ladies, we invite you to stop by participating stores to make your Christmas “wish list”. The stores will contact your guy….which might be your husband, dad, son, brother….etc. to let them know they have your list. On this Thursday, stores will be open a little later to allow your guy to come shop. Restaurants will also be offering “Guy Specials” to top off their shopping night.

All November Long
• As we move forward through November watch as beautiful new Christmas decorations appear in 2 locations this year for great community displays! You will again get to enjoy the giant community tree along with other new decorations at the corner of Washington and California Ave.

• Residents are welcome and encouraged to come hang your ornament on the community tree.

• A great new display will be located downtown in the city park located at Washington and Adams. This display will delight the imagination of both young and old.

• Children be sure to come down and drop your letters off in the Santa Mailbox and get your wish list in early.

• This year will have a new 19’ LED tree which will delight you with it lightshows. There will also be 2 special photo ops located in the park. One for daytime and one for night, so be sure to bring family and friends down to get your photo.

• The Christmas light poles will be decked out as the “Parade of Trees”. If you would like to reserve a light pole to decorate as a tree, email director@camdendowntownnetwork.org to reserve one.

All December Long
• For December you will see the windows of downtown presented as special Christmas storybooks. Be sure to come drive or stroll through as you “read” the story as you proceed down the street.

For more information, contact:
Charlotte Young
Camden Christmas Events:
870-807-1468
christmas@explorecamden.com
ExploreCamden.com /
www.facebook.com/ExploreCamden


CITY OF CAMDEN THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The City of Camden Public Works Department and the City of Camden will be closed on Thursday November 26th and Friday, November 27th in observance of Thanksgiving. The Sanitation Department will run on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day routes on Wednesday, November 25th. Friday, November 27th route will run as scheduled. The Transfer Station will be closed on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day and Friday, November 27th.  If you have questions, call the Public Works Department At 837-5573. The City of Camden wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

 

EL DORADO MAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING AND FIREARMS POSSESSION
El Dorado, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Marcus Damon Howard, 42, of El Dorado, Arkansas, was sentenced on November 6, 2020, to 120 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for 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’s El Dorado Division.

According to court records, on July 1, 2018, Investigators with the Criminal Apprehension Division (CAD), observed a vehicle fail to stop at a stop sign. As the vehicle continued travelling, Investigators observed the driver throw a cigarette pack wrapper out of the driver’s window.  Based upon the observed violations, Investigators conducted a traffic stop. When the vehicle stopped, Investigators made contact with its driver and sole occupant Howard.  Investigators were advised that Howard was on active state parole and had a search wavier on file. A search of the vehicle resulted in Investigators locating a clear plastic bag that contained 18 smaller plastic baggies of suspected marijuana and 2 baggies of suspected methamphetamine.  CAD Investigators also conducted a search of Howard’s residence. That search resulted in Investigators locating three firearms, miscellaneous drug paraphernalia, fentanyl, additional marijuana and additional methamphetamine.

The suspected fentanyl and methamphetamine were sent to the DEA Crime laboratory for analysis. The laboratory was able to confirm positive test results for fentanyl and methamphetamine. 

Howard was indicted by a federal grand jury in November of 2019, and entered a guilty plea in June 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation, 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, El Dorado Police Department, and Union County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Graham Jones prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 09, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 434
Confirmed Cases: 409
Probable Cases: 25
Total Active Cases: 41
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 383
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 361
Recovered Probable Cases: 22
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,261
Confirmed Cases: 1,110
Probable Cases: 151
Total Active Cases: 72
Active Confirmed Cases: 58
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 1,136
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,005
Recovered Probable Cases: 131
Total Deaths: 53
Confirmed Deaths: 47
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 805
Confirmed Cases: 662
Probable Cases: 143
Total Active Cases: 73
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 30
Total Recovered Cases: 710
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 597
Recovered Probable Cases: 113
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 198
Confirmed Cases: 194
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 11
Active Confirmed Cases: 10
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 181
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 178
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 79
Confirmed Cases: 71
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 24
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 55
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 50
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 121,866
Confirmed Cases: 110,932
Probable Cases: 10,934
Recovered Cases: 107,287
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

November 06, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 06, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 418
Confirmed Cases: 396
Probable Cases: 22
Total Active Cases: 41
Active Confirmed Cases: 40
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 367
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 346
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,234
Confirmed Cases: 1,088
Probable Cases: 146
Total Active Cases: 64
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 16
Total Recovered Cases: 1,118
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 994
Recovered Probable Cases: 124
Total Deaths: 52
Confirmed Deaths: 46
Probable Deaths: 6


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 777
Confirmed Cases: 646
Probable Cases: 131
Total Active Cases: 71
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 33
Total Recovered Cases: 684
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 586
Recovered Probable Cases: 98
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 192
Confirmed Cases: 188
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 5
Active Confirmed Cases: 4
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 181
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 178
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 71
Confirmed Cases: 63
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 18
Active Confirmed Cases: 13
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 53
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 50
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 117,360
Confirmed Cases: 107,292
Probable Cases: 10,068
Recovered Cases: 104,816

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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


GOVERNOR PROCLAIMS NOVEMBER ARKANSAS SOYBEAN MONTH, COMMENDING THE WORK OF ARKANSAS SOYBEAN PRODUCERS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Nov. 5, 2020)  - This month, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is recognizing the state's No. 1 row crop by declaring November Arkansas Soybean Month in honor of soybean producers and the significant economic impact of the soybean industry. Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward met with the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board (ASPB) this week to present the proclamation on the Governor's behalf.

"Agriculture is our state's number one industry, contributing more than $21 billion in economic value to the state's economy and providing more than 269,000 jobs, one of every six jobs, in the state. Arkansas ranks 11th in the nation for soybean production, and we appreciate the many farm families who make the soybean industry such an important part of Arkansas's diverse agricultural industry," said Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward. 

Last year Arkansas harvested 2.61 million acres, yielding 128 million bushels. Covering more acres in Arkansas than rice, corn, sorghum and wheat combined, the Arkansas soybean industry contributed $1.15 billion to the state's economy in 2019. Known for its versatility, the commonly referred to "miracle bean" can be found in a variety of forms in supermarkets, hardware stores, biodiesel and more. Additionally, soy plays a significant role in animal nutrition. High in protein, amino acids and energy, soybeans are one of the best livestock feed ingredients available.

"Arkansas Soybean Month is a time to celebrate the soybean producers who work tirelessly to keep soybeans the top row crop in Arkansas. Soybeans are crucial to the agriculture industry in Arkansas, and the agriculture industry helps drive Arkansas's economy," said Donald Morton, chairman of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board (ASPB) and Prairie County soybean grower. "We are proud Arkansas producers, and we're grateful for our consumers."

Gov. Hutchinson, Secretary Ward, and the ASPB invite all Arkansans to follow ASPB on  Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for ideas about how to celebrate Arkansas Soybean Month. You can also visit the ASPB website at TheMiracleBean.com to find recipes, career and research videos and podcasts, and meet the farmer-leaders who serve on the ASPB.

To learn more about the Arkansas soybean industry, watch The Arkansas Soybean Brand Documentary, a short, two-and-a-half minute video offering a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to sustain this valuable industry..  

ARKANSAS MINORITY HEALTH COMMISSION BRINGING MOBILE HEALTH UNIT
Our Mobile Health Unit is coming to a location near you!
November Dates:
Nov. 10 | 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. | Community Family Enrichment Center | 301 N. 23rd St., Arkadelphia, AR 71923
Nov. 12 | 10 a.m. - Noon | Lakeside Baptist Church| 3601 Malvern Ave., Hot Springs, AR 71901
Nov. 14 | 1 - 4 p.m. | Bald Knob City Hall | 3713 AR-367, Bald Knob, AR
Nov. 17 | 9 - 11 a.m. | Miller Co. Senior Center | 1007 Jefferson Ave. Texarkana, AR 71854
Nov. 18 | 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. | First Baptist Church - Fordyce | 501 N. Main St., Fordyce, AR 71742 
Nov. 20 | 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. | Interfor Monticello | 211 Old Troy Rd., Monticello, AR 71655
Nov. 24 | 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. | Prescott Senior Center | 419 E Main St. Prescott, AR 71857
Nov. 30 | 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. | Hope Senior Center |102 S Main St. Hope, AR 71801

December Dates: 
Dec. 2 | 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. | Ashdown Senior Center | 1331 Gordon Dr., Ashdown, AR 71822
Dec. 5 | 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. | St. Barbara's Catholic Church | 503 W. DeQueen Ave., DeQueen, AR 71832
Dec. 8 | 9 a.m. - Noon | Glenwood Church of Nazarene | 776 Hwy 70 East, Glenwood, AR 71943
Dec. 14 | 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. | Stamps Senior Center | 228 Church St. Stamps, AR 71860
Dec. 17 | 1 - 3 p.m.| St. Paul UMC - El Dorado | 700 W 8th St. El Dorado, AR 71730
Dec. 19 | 7:30 a.m. - Noon | Immanuel Baptist Church | 201 E. Holly, Sheridan, AR 72150

A Mobile Health Unit (MHU) is a screening center on wheels. This initiative will provide an avenue to double our preventive screenings by reaching people where they are within the state. The MHU will provide preventive screenings, health education and allow an opportunity of coordination of care with the MHU coordinator.  Screenings will include: COVID-19 testing, blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, A1C, HIV, height, weight and BMI. The MHU coordinator will follow-up with patients that have abnormal results and share county level resources for follow-up medical care. The MHU will support a partnership with Arkansas Foodbanks statewide. 

For more information contact Beatriz Mondragon at Beatriz.Mondragon@arkansas.gov or 501-683-4960. To schedule the unit, click here. 

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR TRENT GARNER
November 6, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – The state is helping people who have trouble paying their rent because of the coronavirus pandemic.
People affected by the pandemic are eligible for help if their household income is less than 80 percent of the median income in their area. They can qualify for two-and-a-half months of rent under the newly created Fresh Start program.

Money comes from about $10 million in relief grants received by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas CARES Act Steering Committee. It will be administered by the Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association (ACAA).

To get help, apply to your local Community Action Agency, which are non-profit organizations. There are 15 in Arkansas and they serve all 75 counties in the state.

The CARES Act Steering Committee comprises top state officials appointed by the governor. The group considers how best to allocate about $1.25 billion in federal relief funds approved by Congress at the beginning of the pandemic.

The state Secretary of Commerce, who is over the AEDC, said that short-term rental assistance provided through the Fresh Start program would benefit both renters and landlords.

A recent survey by the United States Census Bureau estimated that as many as 139,000 Arkansas households are in danger of not being able to pay rent, specifically because of financial hardships created by the pandemic.

If you’re interested in applying for rental assistance, a list of community action agencies and their contact information is available on the ACAA website. It is at acaa.org.

Click on the tab first tab on the front page of the site, which is labeled “Emergency Services.”  It opens to a new page and Rent Payment Assistance Information is the top tab on the new page. If you click on it, you will see a list of the 15 community action agencies in Arkansas and their contact information. It also lists the counties that each agency serves.

College Athletics
State-supported colleges and universities spent $191.5 million last year on athletics, which was 4.8 percent below the amount they spent the previous year.

State law requires the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to set uniform standards for institutions to report athletic expenditures, so that comparisons are fair.

The bulk of the money spent on athletics was generated by income from athletic events, such as ticket sales and souvenir sales. That category generated $115 million, or more than 59 percent of the total.

Student fees for athletics generated more than $26 million, which amounted to 13.5 percent of the total spent on sports.

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville accounted for the lion’s share of athletic spending, about $117 million. Arkansas State University at Jonesboro was second, spending about $21 million on athletics last year.

The University of Central Arkansas at Conway spent about $13 million on athletics, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock spent $9 million, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff spent $7.8 million and Arkansas Tech University in Russellville spent about $6 million.

Seven of the state’s two-year colleges spent $1.7 million on athletics.

About 8 percent of athletic department spending came from transfers from colleges and universities’ education and general accounts. That amounted to $15.7 million.

 

November 05, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 05, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 410
Confirmed Cases: 389
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 39
Active Confirmed Cases: 39
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 361
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 340
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,220
Confirmed Cases: 1,079
Probable Cases: 141
Total Active Cases: 62
Active Confirmed Cases: 47
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 1,106
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 986
Recovered Probable Cases: 120
Total Deaths: 52
Confirmed Deaths: 46
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 768
Confirmed Cases: 642
Probable Cases: 126
Total Active Cases: 68
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 30
Total Recovered Cases: 678
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 582
Recovered Probable Cases: 96
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 190
Confirmed Cases: 186
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 3
Active Confirmed Cases: 2
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 181
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 178
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 60
Confirmed Cases: 55
Probable Cases: 5
Total Active Cases: 7
Active Confirmed Cases: 5
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 53
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 50
Recovered Probable Cases: 3Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 115,812
Confirmed Cases: 106,137
Probable Cases: 9,675
Recovered Cases: 103,762

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

CADC TO GIVE EMERGENCY FOOD BOXES
The CADC will be giving out Emergency Food Boxes on November 10th at Carnes Park, 955 Adams Avenue in Camden. The boxes will be given out between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 am. Each box will contain over 50 pounds of food including meat, vegetables and baking goods. A Photo ID is required and you must meet income guidelines. Remain in your vehicle. Call 836-3200 for more information.

OUACHITA COUNTY THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension Office will be closed Wednesday 25, Thursday 26 and Friday 27th of November for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The Ouachita County Sanitation Department will run on regular schedule excluding Thursday Thanksgiving Day, that day will be picked up on Friday November 27th, 2020.

RAYTHEON AWARDED CONTRACT
Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a $24,814,227 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-18-C-5407 for procurement of fiscal 2021 Navy Standard Missile-2 intermediate level provisioned items ordered spares; and to exercise one-year options for fiscal 2021 Standard Missile-2 and Standard Missile-6 repairs and maintenance.  Work will be performed in Camden, Arkansas (72%); Tucson, Arizona (19%); Anaheim, California (6%); and San Diego, California (3%), and is expected to be completed by July 2024.  Fiscal 2021 operation and maintenance (Navy) funding in the amount of $24,814,227 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity. (Awarded Nov. 2, 2020)

 

GRIFFIN NAMES HANNAH BUNCH DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Says Bunch is a 'proven conservative' who brings 'communications and digital experience,'  'shares my values,' and 'has a passion to serve the people of Arkansas'
 LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin today announced the hiring of Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director Hannah Bunch:
 "I am excited to welcome Hannah Bunch to my team. She is a proven conservative who brings communications and digital experience to the office. She shares my values, has a passion to serve the people of Arkansas, and will be an asset when working with the state legislature."
Bunch worked previously as the Community Engagement Director for Americans for Prosperity- Arkansas. She is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. While in college, Bunch served as Vice Chair of Arkansas Federation of College Republicans and Student Body President. She helped found the Northeast Arkansas Reentry Coalition and served as a board member for Options on Main, a pro-life pregnancy resource center in Jonesboro. She has experience in communications, policy research, and building coalitons with diverse groups.
 "I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve the State of Arkansas by working alongside Lt. Governor Griffin as he serves Arkansans by working to lower taxes, ensuring a fiscally responsible state government, and advancing liberty in our state," said Bunch.

November 04, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 04, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 407
Confirmed Cases: 386
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 45
Active Confirmed Cases: 45
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 352
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 331
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,199
Confirmed Cases: 1,066
Probable Cases: 133
Total Active Cases: 50
Active Confirmed Cases: 40
Active Probable Cases: 10
Total Recovered Cases: 1,097
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 980
Recovered Probable Cases: 117
Total Deaths: 52
Confirmed Deaths: 46
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 764
Confirmed Cases: 641
Probable Cases: 123
Total Active Cases: 72
Active Confirmed Cases: 40
Active Probable Cases: 32
Total Recovered Cases: 670
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 579
Recovered Probable Cases: 91
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 188
Confirmed Cases: 185
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 2
Active Confirmed Cases: 1
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 180
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 178
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 60
Confirmed Cases: 54
Probable Cases: 6
Total Active Cases: 9
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 51
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 48
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 114,519
Confirmed Cases: 105,223
Probable Cases: 8,398
Recovered Cases: 101,507
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

ARKANSAS VOTERS PASS ISSUE 1 BY “OVERWHELMING MARGIN”
Vote for Roads Campaign Issues Statements After Passage

LITTLE ROCK – Tonight, by passing Issue 1, Arkansas voters paved the way to a brighter future, better roads, and a stronger economy across the state. This critical continuation of funding for Arkansas highways, roads, and bridges—all without raising taxes—will benefit every resident and every small business that calls Arkansas home.

Governor Asa Hutchinson and Shannon Newton, Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1. Campaign Chair, released the below statements following the passage of Issue 1:

“Good roads are vital to the growth and success of our state, and tonight, Arkansas voters made that clear in passing Issue 1 by an overwhelming margin,” said Governor Hutchinson. “I’m delighted by the results, and I look forward to building better roads, a stronger economy, and a safer Arkansas in every corner of the state.”

“From day one of the Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1. campaign, our message was about giving Arkansans what they want and need - better roads,” said Newton. “Tonight, the voters have spoken and said they’re ready for their potholes to be fixed, less traffic, and overall safer roads in every corner of our state. The passage of Issue 1 means we can do all of those things. We are thrilled with the results and are excited to fulfill the promises that Issue 1 has made to all Arkansans.”
To learn more about the Issue 1 campaign, visit www.VoteForRoads.com.

REMINDER: GRANT TO AID THE ARKANSAS SERVICE AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRIES Application period: Monday, November 16 through Wednesday, November 25
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADPHT), the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), and the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) received approval to proceed with a grant program utilizing $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in industries significantly impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Arkansas Legislative Council recently approved a business interruption grant for certain Arkansas businesses in the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. The grant will provide reimbursement for a portion of specific eligible expenses incurred by businesses in these industries between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020. 

 The program will utilize $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in these industries significantly impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Arkansas small businesses having 250, or fewer, full-time employees located in Arkansas may seek reimbursement for expenses associated with COVID-19 mitigation or certain listed business interruption expenses due directly to local, state or federal government COVID-19 directives. Grants can be for up to $250,000 each.

Applicants will have plenty of time to plan an application with a Facebook Live question and answer session the week of November 2nd and an applicant help phone line opening on November 9th, one week before the application period opens. All applications will be completed online.

 A link to the application will be posted on www.ArkansasReady.com.

Review frequently asked questions and answers here:
https://arkansasready.com/site/assets/files/1887/faq_document_october_20_2020.pdf

You can find grant rules here:
https://arkansasready.com/site/assets/files/1887/oct_14_2020_rules_business_interruption_grant.pdf

 View a checklist for applicants here: https://arkansasready.com/site/assets/files/1887/checklist_for_applicants_october_20_2020_final.pdf

The grant application period will open Monday, Nov. 16, and close Wednesday, Nov. 25. Grants will be awarded on a prorated basis depending on the total number of applicants and the amount of reimbursement requested. The program anticipates making grant awards in late December.
 

ASP/CID JOINS IN PIKE COUNTY SUSPECTED MURDER INVESTIGATION
NOVEMBER 3, 2020

The apparent murder of a 63-year-old Pike County woman has led state police Criminal Investigation Division Special Agents to join in the investigation.  The body of Theresa Humphry was found at her home this morning.
Pike County Sheriff’s Deputies located the body at 307 Billstown Road in Delight and requested the Arkansas State Police to assist them in the criminal investigation.
A 39 year-old man has been taken into custody and is being held at the Pike County Jail while the investigation continues this afternoon.  Special Agents expect to submit information to the Pike County prosecuting attorney for the consideration of formal charges.

Humphry's body is being transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for determination of the manner and cause of death.

 

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT HONORS TWO FAYETTEVILLE ARKANSAS POLICE OFFICERS IN THE FOURTH ANNUAL ATTORNEY GENERAL’S AWARD FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE IN POLICING
Fort Smith, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, United States Attorney General William P. Barr and Justice Department leadership announced today that two Fayetteville, Arkansas Police Officers are recipients of the Fourth Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing.

The Attorney General’s Award recognizes individual state, local, and tribal sworn rank-and-file police officers and deputies for exceptional efforts in policing. The awarded officers and deputies have demonstrated active engagement with the community in one of three areas: criminal investigations, field operations or innovations in community policing. This year, the department received 214 nominations recognizing a total of 355 individual officers, deputies, and troopers. There were 39 states represented in the nomination pool, covering state, local, campus, sheriff, and other agency types.

“We are so proud and thankful to work with tremendous law enforcement officers throughout the Western District of Arkansas,” said First Assistant United States Attorney David Clay Fowlkes. “Officer Eucce and Corporal Floyd both exemplify what we see in officers throughout Arkansas: dedication, bravery, and excellence in policing.  The bravery and sound tactics that Officer Eucce and Corporal Floyd showed in the face of terrible danger and tragedy is remarkable.  They are both certainly very deserving of this recognition.  We are fortunate to have such courageous, selfless, and well-trained officers keeping our communities safe.”

“There is no career nobler than that of a police officer, and the 23 officers we honor this year demonstrate that clearly,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “These individuals are distinguished in their service for field operations and criminal investigations – from investigating homicides to drug trafficking to sexual exploitation and assault – to making positive change in their communities through innovative outreach to local residents. Their actions are a testament to what law enforcement officers contribute to our nation each day, keeping us safe from violent crime and building more trusting communities, and they are deserving of our collective thanks. I am pleased to honor these 23 officers for their distinguished service in policing.”

The Department of Justice works closely with local law enforcement and strives to be a ready resource for them. The Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing is just one more way the department can show its continued commitment to the profession and honor the men and women who so bravely serve it.

Attorney General Awards for Distinguished Service in Policing 2020

Officer Natalie Eucce and Corporal Seay-Peter Floyd, Fayetteville Police Department (Arkansas)

In December 2019, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, an individual determined to assassinate law enforcement officers, and armed with 100 rounds of ammunition, approached a police car and fired 10 times, killing Officer Stephen Carr. Hearing the shots and seeing the suspect, Corporal Seay-Peter Floyd – with no regard for his personal safety – pursued the suspect and fired. Officer Natalie Eucce (Officer Carr’s partner) and Sergeant James Jennings joined Corporal Floyd in pursuing the suspect and fired as well. The suspect was pronounced dead on the scene. It is very likely more officers would have lost their lives that night, if it were not for the bravery of Corporal Floyd and Officer Eucce.

Twenty-two other law enforcement officers and deputies from 12 jurisdictions across the country also received awards from the Attorney General.

 
 
 

November 03,2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON COVID-19 UPDATE - NOVEMBER 03, 2020
Total deaths in Arkansas due to COVID-19 topped 2,000 on Tuesday as the virus' third wave continues to impact the state. 

During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported 18 additional deaths across the state over the previous 24-hour period. Confirmed and probable deaths related to the virus now number 2,003. An additional 878 cases were reported as well for a cumulative total of 114,519. Hospitalizations did decrease by 21, leaving 667 Arkansans still hospitalized due to the virus. Slightly more than 6,400 tests were performed since Monday. State officials said over 310,000 tests were performed in October. That equals more than 10 percent of Arkansas' population.

Hutchinson provided a few more details on the state's winter strategy in response to the ongoing pandemic. The strategy consolidates most of the tactics already encouraged by state officials, such as social distancing and wearing masks. Other elements of the strategy include continued contact tracing and quarantine protocols, encouraging Arkansans to get their flu shots, and compliance checks to ensure businesses are following health guidelines. Finally, the winter strategy seeks to develop the plan to distribute vaccines once they become available.

Bo Ryall, CEO of the Arkansas Hospital Association, provided some details over COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arkansas. Despite a decline on Tuesday, hospitalizations remain at their highest level since the pandemic began. Ryall said hospital capacity is tight but manageable. The real risk, he stressed, is a developing shortage in healthcare workers.

Before concluding Tuesday's press conference, Arkansas Health Secretary Jose Romero issued an appeal to all Arkansans. He encourages everyone to take extra precautions when gathering with family this holiday season. 

Finally, Hutchinson shared some information suggesting COVID-19 is currently the third-leading cause of death in Arkansas - behind only cancer and heart disease. This is in relation to data from 2018.

In review, an additional 878 cases were reported on Tuesday for a cumulative total of 114,519 since the outbreak began. Deaths increased by 18 and now number slightly more than 2,000 overall. Hospitalizations saw a decrease of 21 patients to 667 still hospitalized. 

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

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 03, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 404
Confirmed Cases: 383
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 50
Active Confirmed Cases: 47
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 344
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 326
Recovered Probable Cases: 18
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,198
Confirmed Cases: 1,065
Probable Cases: 133
Total Active Cases: 58
Active Confirmed Cases: 46
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 1,088
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 973
Recovered Probable Cases: 115
Total Deaths: 52
Confirmed Deaths: 46
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 760
Confirmed Cases: 638
Probable Cases: 122
Total Active Cases: 73
Active Confirmed Cases: 41
Active Probable Cases: 32
Total Recovered Cases: 665
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 575
Recovered Probable Cases: 90
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 188
Confirmed Cases: 185
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 2
Active Confirmed Cases: 1
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 180
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 178
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 60
Confirmed Cases: 55
Probable Cases: 5
Total Active Cases: 9
Active Confirmed Cases: 7
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 51
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 48
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

AEDC TO HOST VIRTUAL MINORITY AND WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESS ENTERPRISE CERTIFICATION WORKSHOP
The Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWOBE) division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) will host its first virtual Arkansas Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Certification Assistance Workshop training Wednesday, November 18, to help business owners learn more about the certification process for state vendors and available resources.
“Now more than ever, we want to do everything we can to bring valuable resources to our state’s minority and women-owned businesses,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “This training will help guide eligible participants through the certification process that will increase the potential for contract opportunities through the state of Arkansas.”
The Certification Assistance Workshop provides attendees information and practical assistance for the state certification application process. In addition, businesses learn how to connect with state contracting opportunities and other benefits of becoming certified. Due to effects of COVID-19, the November workshop will be virtual.
To be eligible, the business must be a for-profit company operating for at least two years. Participants must be interested in learning how to grow their business as well as the benefits of the Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Certification program and have questions about the application process.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and AEDC officials announced in August 2017 the state’s Small and Minority Business Program mission would be expanded to include women-owned businesses and be renamed the Division of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise by Act 1080 of 2017. New annual spending targets for state of Arkansas were also set at that time at eight percent for minority businesses, five percent for women-owned, and two percent for service-disabled veterans in construction, goods and services, totaling 15 percent for vendors in those categories.

AEDC’s Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Division promotes the growth and sustainability of such businesses by providing real-world technical and professional assistance, state vendor certification, and opportunities for networking and contracting with AEDC partners in state and federal government, higher education, lending institutions and the private sector.

The training will be held Wednesday, November 18, beginning at 10 a.m. and should last about an hour. Participants must RSVP through the AEDC Eventbrite page. 

HARRISON ARKANSAS MAN CHARGED IN CONNECTION TO SETTING A WILDLAND FIRE IN BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER Fort Smith, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Jacob Walls, age 28, of Harrison, Arkansas, has been arrested and charged in connection to a wildland fire set in February 2019 within the Buffalo National River.

In February 2019, National Park Service (NPS) Firefighters and US Park Rangers were dispatched to the report of a wildland fire, in Newton County, near Pruitt. The indictment alleges that Walls willfully and without authority and consent of the United States set fire to National Park Service land.  The fire was contained by NPS Firefighters to prevent its spread onto private lands.  Walls was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in March and a trial date has been set for December 7, 2020. The Honorable Mark E. Ford, United States Magistrate Judge, presided over the arraignment in the United States District Court in Fort Smith.

The case was investigated by the National Park Service (NPS), Investigative Services Branch, the US Park Rangers at Buffalo National River, the Newton County Sheriff’s Department and the 14th Arkansas Judicial District Prosecutor's Office. Assistant United States Attorney Claude Hawkins is prosecuting the case for the United States.

An indictment is an allegation and Wells is presumed innocent until convicted. Wells faces up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000.00 if convicted.


STATE POLICE INVESTIGATING OVERNIGHT NORTH LITTLE ROCK INTERSTATE 30 SHOOTING INCIDENT
NOVEMBER 2, 2020
A teenager was critically wounded last night (Sunday, November 1st) from gunfire directed at the car he was in as it pulled onto the Interstate 30 access ramp at Broadway in North Little Rock.  The shooting incident was reported to Arkansas State Police at 10:20 PM.
The 14 year-old male sustained a gunshot wound fired by an occupant in a yellow Dodge Challenger.  The driver of the car carrying the victim and another teen proceeded directly to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in the aftermath of the shooting.  Neither the driver, nor the other passenger were injured.  All three are residents of Little Rock.
State troopers of the Highway Patrol Division and Special Agents of the Criminal Investigation Division are working together in a search for suspects and a vehicle connected to the shooting incident.

U.S. SEMIQUINCENTENNIAL COMMISSION LAUNCHES A “NOVEMBER SALUTE” TO CELEBRATE THE LIVES OF AMERICA’S SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN, PAST AND PRESENT 
Program honors veterans, active duty military and all who have served in defense of freedom
 Washington, DC – In recognition of Veterans Day and the millions who have served in our nation’s military, the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission today announced the launch of the America 250 November Salute,  a month-long celebration of veterans, active duty military and their families.

“We wouldn’t be celebrating the 250th Anniversary of our nation without the brave service and sacrifice of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and all those who have worn our nation’s uniform,” said Dan DiLella, Chairman of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission. “We hope the November Salute offers all Americans the opportunity to remember, thank, and honor the men and women who defend our freedoms and democracy.”

Throughout the month, Americans will have the opportunity to submit a photo of themselves or their loved ones to an online photo mashup generator, with America 250 branded photo filters commemorating the service of veterans, active duty military and in remembrance of those who have gone before us. The filtered image will be available for the user to download and display in an online “Gallery of Salutes” for all Americans to see and enjoy.

Americans will be able to submit their photos beginning November 1, 2020 through the end of the month on www.NovemberSalute.America250.org. The full Gallery of Salutes will also be available on the America 250 website, www.america250.org. As an official program of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, photos from the America 250 November Salute will be shared with the U.S. National Archives.

“In the lead up to America’s 250th birthday in 2026, the service of our nation’s heroes and their families will be an incredibly important theme,” added DiLella. “We look forward to establishing additional activations and partnerships that honor, recognize and celebrate their important role in the history and future of our country.”

Officially known as the United States Semiquincentennial, “America 250” will be the most expansive and inclusive milestone in our nation’s history. During the official commemorative period beginning this year and culminating on July 4, 2026, America 250 has the opportunity to engage nearly 350 million Americans and millions more friends worldwide through engaging programs, educational outreach and signature events. More information about the Commission’s vision and approach to programming can be found in Inspiring the American Spirit, its report submitted to the President on December 31, 2019.

About U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission
The U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission was established by Congress to inspire all Americans and each American to participate in our greatest milestone ever—the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the United States. The Commission is charged with orchestrating the largest and most inclusive anniversary observance in our nation's history. The Commission will work with public and private entities across the country to make America 250 a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all Americans. For more information visit www.america250.org and visit us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

NOVEMBER 3, 2020


Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES LAWSUITS INVOLVING ILLEGAL PYRAMID SCHEMES
Says, ‘Don’t be fooled by testimonials that these schemes work’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced the first step in a law enforcement sweep against illegal pyramid schemes organized and operated in Arkansas. The State has filed lawsuits in Faulkner and Saline Counties alleging Defendants represented to consumers that they could earn a 700% return on investment and “bless” their communities by joining a “Blessing Loom” board and recruiting others to do the same. No products or services were offered in exchange for the payment, only the opportunity to earn money. But, when new participants stopped joining and the pyramids’ organizers started using consumers’ money as their own, consumers lost every dollar contributed and unwittingly participated in illegal pyramid schemes.

“These lawsuits demonstrated that we will not stand by while con artists use deceptive tactics to dupe consumers into get-rich-quick schemes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As scam artists find new ways to exploit consumers’ economic fears during the coronavirus pandemic, my office will tirelessly work to hold these bad actors accountable for swindling Arkansans out of their money with promises of large payouts and community goodwill. Remember, when people pay a fee for the opportunity to earn money simply by recruiting others into a program, those people are likely involved in an illegal pyramid scheme. Don’t be fooled by testimonials that these schemes work.”

Rutledge’s suit filed in Faulkner County alleges the Lackland family violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) by organizing and operating a pyramid scheme they called “Passionate Minds Circle of Wealth.” Within eight months, more than $320,000 was deposited into separate bank accounts held by Scottie Lackland and his wife Valentina from Marion, their adult daughter Sydney Lackland from Marion, and their son Scottie D. Lackland II from Conway, who is also employed as a Little Rock Police Officer. Consumers were encouraged to join with a $500 “gift” that would grow into a $4,000 “blessing” in just 28 days, but, instead, the Lacklands converted consumers’ money and used it to pay off their debt, bolster their savings accounts, and purchase luxury goods and services, including plastic surgery.

Rutledge’s suit filed in Saline County alleges similar ADTPA violations were made by Alexander-resident Ramona McGee, who is employed by the Little Rock School District as a coach at Pulaski Heights Middle School. McGee held weekly meetings to recruit participants to join the pyramid scheme she organized, called the “Family Blessing Circle.” In exchange for a $1,400 “donation,” McGee represented participants would receive $11,200 in four to six weeks. Over just a few months, she deposited tens of thousands of dollars into her checking account and used that money to pay for vacations, shopping sprees and jewelry. Consumers were left with nothing to show for their spent money.

Each Defendant faces a $10,000 fine for each violation of the ADTPA.

Attorney General Rutledge has identified several tips for Arkansans to use in protecting themselves against pyramid schemes:

  • If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Know that large sums of money generally do not result from small investments.
  • Be wary of “opportunities” to invest your money in programs that require you to bring in subsequent investors to increase your profit or recoup your initial investment.
  • Just because something appears to be fun and was shared by a friend or family member, doesn’t mean there isn’t an inherent risk.
  • Independently verify the legitimacy of any investment before you invest.

For more tips to help avoid falling victim to schemes similar to this, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

 
 
Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE ENCOURAGES ALL ARKANSANS TO PRACTICE CIVIC DUTY ON ELECTION DAY
IIt’s Election Day and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is encouraging all Arkansans to make their vote count. Elections give you a voice. You can make decisions about the candidates and issues that directly impact our communities. There are hundreds of important elections to vote on this year—ranging from national races like the ones for President and Congress, to state and local races for county judge, mayor, school board, and many others. Like many years, Arkansans can also decide whether to approve amendments to the Arkansas Constitution.
“We live in a country with free and fair elections, and our vote and voice matter. I want all Arkansans to have the opportunity to make their choices this year,” said  Attorney General Rutledge. “This is one of the most important rights we have as Americans and I ask you all to go to the polls and cast your ballots.”
In 2020, Arkansas has seen a record number of early voting totals. More than 750,000 ballots were cast in the two weeks leading up to Election Day and over 115,000 absentee ballots were returned to county clerks. If you plan to vote today, get to the polls early and be prepared to wait in line. Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. If you are in line by 7:30 p.m. you will be allowed to vote. If you have already voted, you can rest assured that all valid ballots will be counted no matter how long it takes.
Attorney General Rutledge released the following information for voters heading to the polls on Election Day:
 
  • Confirm your voting registration, location and precinct at VoterView.org.
  • The Arkansas Department of Health issued guidance for voters to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
  • Review candidate information and ballot issues by visiting the Secretary of State’s Elections website.
 
For tips on what to expect at your polling location, you can review the Secretary of State’s Voting 101 Pocket Guide or if you would like to report a voting concern, please contact the State Board of Election Commissioners at (501) 682-1834 or visit arkansas.gov/sbec.
 
 

NOVEMBER 2, 2020

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS MODIFICATION OF RICE TARIFF LINES
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced a modification to rice tariff lines in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Program: 

“This step in the right direction is a win for American rice producers,” Boozman said. “Our rice farmers can compete with anyone on the world stage. This update will help level the playing field to ensure our American farmers are not being undercut by international growers. I appreciate the Administration for listening and responding to this petition from our farmers.” 

In September, Boozman led a letter in support of the USA Rice Federation’s petition urging United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to remove all rice tariff lines from the list of commodities eligible for duty-free import under GSP. 

“We are pleased to see the Administration’s recognition that U.S.-grown rice is an important, import-sensitive crop and they are largely removing incentives for our foreign competitors to ship it to the U.S. by eliminating the outdated duty-free access they enjoyed under the GSP Program,” said USA Rice Chair Bobby Hanks. 

 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES ARREST OF 
INDEPENDENCE COUNTY MAN FOR 
POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of an Independence County man for crimes involving children.

David Shannon Canady, 39, of Batesville, was arrested by the Attorney General’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit on three counts of distributing, possessing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class C felony. He is currently being held at the Independence County Detention Center.

Special agents in the Attorney General’s Office, working in partnership with the Independence County Sheriff’s Office, seized a desktop computer, a 2 terabyte hard drive and a cellphone from the home. The file will be turned over to 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hance.

 

OCTOBER 30, 2020

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OF ARKANSAS SEND ADDITIONAL CREWS TO ALABAMA AND MISSISSIPPI
Little Rock, Ark. — Oct. 30, 2020 — The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas have dispatched an additional 60 professional line workers and equipment to Alabama and Mississippi to assist with outages related to natural disasters. The second wave of 60 line workers brings the total of Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas linemen assisting with power restoration efforts to 108.
On October 28, 48 Arkansas crews traveled to Oklahoma to assist with ice storm outages and to Mississippi to assist with Hurricane Zeta outages. Electric cooperatives sending crews represent Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. of Little Rock, C&L Electric Cooperative of Star City, Clay County Electric of Corning, First Electric Cooperative of Jacksonville, Ozarks Electric Cooperative of Fayetteville, Petit Jean Electric Cooperative of Clinton, Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative of Mena and South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Arkadelphia.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 30, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.




COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 394
Confirmed Cases: 373
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 53
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 331
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 315
Recovered Probable Cases: 16
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,150
Confirmed Cases: 1,025
Probable Cases: 125
Total Active Cases: 54
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 1,047
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 945
Recovered Probable Cases: 102
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 43
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 731
Confirmed Cases: 619
Probable Cases: 112
Total Active Cases: 65
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 25
Total Recovered Cases: 645
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 561
Recovered Probable Cases: 84
Total Deaths: 21
Confirmed Deaths: 21
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 181
Confirmed Cases: 178
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 4
Active Confirmed Cases: 3
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 171
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 169
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 54
Confirmed Cases: 50
Probable Cases: 4
Toal Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 5
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 48
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 45
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Detaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 109,712
Confirmed Cases: 101,588
Probable Cases: 8,124
Recovered Cases: 97,340

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW
From Senator Trent Garner
October 30, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – At the beginning of this year, there were more than 2,000 licensed childcare programs in Arkansas. They had slots for 194,000 children.

By mid-April, about half the facilities had closed. Although most have been able to re-open, as of early October at least 20 had closed permanently. They had slots for more than 1,140 children.

The numbers change every day, according to the state director of the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education. She reported to lawmakers about the impact of the pandemic on childcare facilities and the families that rely on them.

The official statistics support what working parents already know. It is more difficult than ever to find affordable childcare of high quality.

Many childcare programs had to close because they struggled to hire staff. They had to limit groups of staff and children to 10 or fewer people. Staff are required to wear masks.

From March through early October, 416 workers at childcare facilities contracted Covid-19. During that same period, 273 children tested positive for the virus. Those numbers continue to go up, generally at a steady ratio of two workers for every child.

Before the pandemic there had been about 400 facilities that did not have children whose childcare was subsidized by the government. According to the director, several hundred have taken steps to participate in child are assistance programs.

Arkansas has received federal relief assistance to pay for grants and loans to people and businesses especially hard hit by the pandemic.

In late March, the Division increased the amounts of vouchers by $10 for each infant or toddler and $7 for each child in pre-school. Vouchers for school aged children in after school care went up $5 per child. The increased value of vouchers in Arkansas has cost the government about $11 million to date.

The state Division of Child Care has distributed about $26 million so far to help facilities and families. For example, about 6,000 families are getting financial assistance for childcare because one of the parents is considered an essential worker. Those jobs are in health care, sanitation, the food supply chain, childcare and education and emergency response.

More than $6 million in relief funds have paid for thermometers, cleaning supplies, masks and protective equipment that are now required by childcare facilities.

At the same legislative meeting in which lawmakers heard about the effect of the pandemic on childcare facilities, a state tax official reported on the extent of tax credits now available to families with children in care.

The state offers an individual income tax credit of 20 percent of the allowable federal credit. In the past two years, more than 50,000 Arkansas taxpayers took advantage of the state credit. It is claimed on line 35 of the Arkansas return.

In 2018, a total of $6.3 million in credits was claimed by 54,007 Arkansas taxpayers. In 2019 a total of 51,254 taxpayers claimed $6 million in childcare credits.

Arkansas also offers an early childcare tax credit for dependent children in an approved day care facility. It also is equal to 20 percent of the allowable federal early childcare credit. It is on line 43 of the Arkansas return.

About a thousand taxpayers a year claim it and saved from $114,000 to $137,000 on their taxes the past two years. A taxpayer may not claim both the childcare and the early childcare credits.
 

COTTON STATEMENT AFTER U.S. CHANGES PASSPORT POLICY TOWARD JERUSALEM
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the United States announced that Americans born in Jerusalem can now choose Israel as the country of birth on their passports:

"Jerusalem is the spiritual center of the Jewish people and the rightful capital of Israel. It took many years for the United States to acknowledge these truths, and many more for them to shape our diplomacy. But President Trump and Secretary Pompeo have made support for Israel central to America's foreign policy in the Middle East. Today's announcement reinforces our policy that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel."

 
 

October 29, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 29, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 385
Confirmed Cases: 364
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 47
Active Probable Cases: 8
Total Recovered Cases: 320
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 307
Recovered Probable Cases: 13
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,130
Confirmed Cases: 1,007
Probable Cases: 123
Total Active Cases: 44
Active Confirmed Cases: 26
Active Probable Cases: 18
Total Recovered Cases: 1,037
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 938
Recovered Probable Cases: 99
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 43
Probable Deaths: 6
COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 711
Confirmed Cases: 609
Probable Cases: 102
Total Active Cases: 50
Active Confirmed Cases: 29
Active Probable Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 640
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 559
Recovered Probable Cases: 81
Total Deaths: 21
Confirmed Deaths: 21
Probable Deaths: 0

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 178
Confirmed Cases: 177
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 3
Active Confirmed Cases: 2
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 171
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 169
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 53
Confirmed Cases: 50
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 7
Active Confirmed Cases: 7
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 46
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 43
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 108,640
Confirmed Cases: 100,751
Probable Cases: 7,889
Recovered Cases: 97,450

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

GENERAL DYNAMICS, OUACHITA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE AND TODAY’S POWER, INC. ALIGN BRINGING SOLAR + BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE ONLINE IN SOUTH ARKANSAS
Battery Storage and Solar Power Boosts Renewable Energy Footprint in South Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK, AR & ST. PETERSBERG, FL- Florida-based aerospace and defense corporation, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (OTS), announced earlier this year a partnership with Today's Power, Inc. (TPI) of North Little Rock, Arkansas, to develop two solar arrays at their facilities based in Calhoun County, Arkansas.

The projects, now finished, provide the defense company with clean electricity. In addition, this project marks the dramatic arrival of battery energy storage in the already robust renewable footprint of South Arkansas. Two Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) for Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC) were coupled with the two solar arrays installed for General Dynamics-OTS.

Project Background
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems began the information gathering for this project in 2018 with the objective of attaining energy cost reduction and environmental sustainability. With the existing strategic partnership with Ouachita Electric Cooperative and the State of Arkansas, it was apparent that there was viable opportunity to create a solution that would benefit the environment, the surrounding community, and General Dynamics-OTS.  This project provides the backbone for future endeavors as we continue to reduce our Operations’ carbon footprint. The Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by General Dynamics-OTS requested options for a Solar Power Services Agreement (SPSA) that took into account federal investment tax credits ('ITCs') and the accelerated depreciation allowance. TPI was chosen as the developer for this project after the RFP phase was completed and provided all the equipment, materials, and services needed for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the completed solar facility.

Shortly after the decision of General Dynamics-OTS to go solar, and as more renewables are coming online, OECC saw the opportunity to invest in infrastructure that could enhance the distribution system's resiliency by leveraging the opportunity to demonstrate grid reliability with battery storage and solar energy.

Technical Specifications

The two solar arrays are each 1.2 megawatts (MW) in size and combined, consist of more than 6,400 Tier 1 solar panels. Together, these innovative systems are projected to produce approximately 91 million kWh over the next 25 years, offsetting the defense company’s carbon footprint by 64,341 metric tons.  

“Together with our partners TPI and OECC, we have found a solution for expanding our usage of renewable energy and attaining environmental sustainability. This project not only lowers cost, but more importantly, it positively impacts our employees, our community, and the environment. This initiative is the foundation for future endeavors as we continue to reduce our Operations’ carbon footprint,” said Eric Ellis, VP Precision Systems at General Dynamics-OTS.

The solar systems will power General Dynamics-OTS Camden Operations which is an industry leader in the high rate production, system integration and testing of energetic products. As part of General Dynamics-OTS, Camden Operations serves as the company’s explosive load, assemble and pack facility, supporting a variety of U.S. military programs, including the HYDRA 70 2.75 inch rocket, Hellfire, Javelin, Stormbreaker and JASSM warheads, the Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS), and various other ordnance programs. Camden Operations houses over 880,000 square feet of manufacturing and storage space with approximately 300 employees.

The two on-site energy storage systems store electricity generated from the two solar installations and have an output of 2.4 MW for two hours.  TPI has developed the battery energy storage system to minimize the wholesale power costs of OECC while also increasing the resiliency of the grid for all OECC customers, as this facility will also supplement the other distribution facilities of Ouachita Electric, such as the OECC substation in Hampton.

"GD would operate on its own power during regular operations, and OECC would be able to monitor the delivery of electricity to substations and the battery energy storage facility. This provides the co-op the opportunity to restore electricity in the event of an outage. This is quicker than traditional restoration and, because of our fiber connections, we can do this remotely." - Mark Cayce 

He also said, "being able to provide backup power will eventually be a requirement to provide reliability. We don't want to be in a situation where we have to cut off people, or we're short on generation. These issues will be taken out of the equation by the batteries."

“TPI is excited to partner with GD-OTS and OECC to provide both entities with significant savings.  With this renewable sustainable net metering facility, GD-OTS can produce more economical defense products which helps all Americans and the solar plus storage facility will help OECC achieve significant savings for all of its members.  Its rare when 1 project can benefit so many consumers.  I applaud the leadership of GD-OTS and OECC on making this project a reality”, said Michael Henderson, President of TPI.
ABOUT

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (OTS) is a global systems developer and manufacturer of munitions, weapons and tactical systems. It is the purpose of General Dynamics-OTS to empower the United States Armed Forces and its Allies through readiness and innovation to protect what is most important – the warfighter.

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.

Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI) is one of the nation’s most experienced renewable energy companies with more utility-scale projects than any Arkansas-based company. A wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., TPI is a full-service provider able to carry out all phases of any solar or battery storage project including, but not limited to, full bill / rate analysis, site evaluation, engineering procurement, design, commissioning, monitoring, operating and maintaining projects.

STATE TROOPERS & ASP PERSONNEL HONORED AT STATE CAPITOL CEREMONY
OCTOBER 28, 2020
(LITTLE ROCK) – Trooper Matt Price, 36, assigned to Troop H, headquartered at Fort Smith, was presented with the prestigious Arkansas State Police Trooper of the Year Award (2019) at the Arkansas state capitol tonight during the department’s’ annual award ceremony.

Twenty-one state troopers and two civilian employees were presented awards in six different service categories.  The award recipients were selected based on nominations through their respective chain of command for particular acts of extraordinary service that exceeded standards of expectations in their assigned duties as defined in the Arkansas State Police Policy and Procedures Manual.

Governor Asa Hutchinson and Jami Cook, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety, addressed state police personnel through pre-recorded messages.  Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police presented the awards.

Trooper Price was selected as Trooper of the Year (2019) based on a May 29, 2019 Crawford County manhunt involving a bank robbery suspect.

Trooper Price, a four-year veteran of the department, encountered the suspect fleeing the area in a vehicle along Interstate 40.  While attempting to stop the vehicle, the driver began firing a gun at Trooper Price who returned fire wounding the suspect yet continued to flee until Trooper Price was able to take the robbery suspect into custody.

The actions of Trooper Price also led to his nomination and receiving the Arkansas State Police Medal of Valor in addition to being considered among the nominees for Trooper of the Year (2019).

Arkansas State Police Civilian of the Year (2019):

Mike Patterson, 55, of Saline County, was presented the Arkansas State Police Civilian of the Year (2019) Award.  Patterson, a 15-year veteran of the department, is assigned to the Highway Patrol Division command and administrative headquarters at Little Rock.

 Working in an administrative assistant capacity, Patterson was recognized for streamlining multiple accounting processes and providing an improved means of personnel resource and division operating costs analysis.

A civilian of the year award nominee is considered through their respective chain of command based on extraordinary performance or contribution to the mission of the Arkansas State Police.  Civilian employees are defined as non-commissioned employees who work in all divisions of the agency.  Qualifications for the award pursuant to policy must be exemplary as to set the employee apart and above a peer.

Other award recipients recognized during the evening ceremony were:
Lifesaving:
Corporal Billy Turnipseed, assigned to Troop H, headquartered at Fort Smith was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role in an August 17, 2019 incident.  While assisting another trooper investigating a motor vehicle crash, Trooper Turnipseed observed one driver had attempted to commit suicide.  The driver briefly held troopers at bay with a knife, leading Trooper Turnipseed to disarm the driver and begin immediate lifesaving measures while awaiting emergency medical personnel to respond to the crash scene.

Trooper First Class Bo Hays, assigned to Troop K, headquartered at Hot Springs, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role in an August 27, 2019 incident.  TFC Hays responded to a shooting incident at a Polk County residence.  Once inside the home, TFC Hays found the wounded victim lying in a pool of blood and immediately began lifesaving measures by applying a tourniquet that stopped the bleeding.  TFC Hays continued to use his training to render medical aid to the victim until emergency medical personnel arrived.

Trooper James Ray, assigned to Troop H, headquartered at Fort Smith, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role in a June 2, 2019 incident.  Trooper Ray was among a group of first responders who hiked into a remote area north of Ozark in search of a helicopter that had reportedly crashed.  At the crash site, the first responders discovered three of the four individuals onboard the helicopter had died.  While preparing to extricate the lone survivor, Trooper Ray discovered that a tourniquet that had been applied to a leg of the survivor had failed to stop the bleeding.  Trooper Ray applied his own tourniquet and successfully stopped any further loss of blood.

Trooper Lonnie Moore, assigned to Troop J, headquartered at Clarksville, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role a February 27, 2019 incident.  Trooper Moore encountered an individual threatening to commit suicide.  The distraught man had crossed a guardrail on the outer edge of an Interstate 40 overpass.  Trooper Moore successfully established rapport with the man and began slowly closing the distance between the two, eventually making contact and holding the man until others could move toward them and pull the man to safety.

Trooper Lukas Tankersley, assigned to Troop K, headquartered at Hot Springs, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role in a May 3, 2019 incident.  While assisting Garland County sheriff’s deputies at the scene of a shooting, Trooper Tankersley used emergency medical equipment and supplies gathered from his patrol car to assess the victim who had sustained a gunshot wound to the chest.  Trooper Tankersley made repeated attempts to close the wound with a chest seal, leading him to pack the wound with gauze, and keeping pressure on the wound until emergency medical personnel arrived.

Trooper Tyler Porter, assigned to Troop H, headquartered at Fort Smith, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role in a February 2, 2019 incident.  Responding to a call of a medical emergency at a nearby residence, Trooper Porter found his grandfather there and determined he had sustained a leg injury, causing a significant amount of blood to have been lost.  He was also experiencing a loss of consciousness.  Trooper Porter applied pressure bandages and a tourniquet to the wound until emergency medical personnel arrived.

Investigator Patricia Holloway, assigned to the Crimes Against Children
Division, Area 3, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for her role in a November 25, 2019 incident.  While investigating a case involving a two-year-old child, Investigator Holloway discovered “extreme” bruising over the child’s entire body and made immediate arrangements to have the boy taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.  Although the child had already been examined at a home county clinic, physicians at Children’s Hospital found evidence of ITP, a condition causing a person’s platelet count to fall below an accepted medical scale and range.  The child’s platelet count was dangerously low and was in a life-threatening range.  Physicians have credited Investigator Holloway’s assessment with saving the child’s life.

Distinguished Meritorious Service Awards:
Lieutenant Kevin Richmond (Special Agent), assigned to Criminal Investigation Division, Company D was presented the department’s Distinguished Meritorious Award.  The award is the department’s highest form of recognition for meritorious service or achievement.  In May 2017, Lieutenant Richmond was assigned additional command duties with the Arkansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, specifically developing and managing the $320,000 task force budget, purchasing and providing equipment and training for 50 affiliate agencies and 1,644 law enforcement officers.  Under Lieutenant Richmond’s command, the task force opened more than 1,400 cases, resulting in 247 arrests.  While supervising the task force, Lieutenant Richmond increased the number of participating agencies, coordinated thousands of cyber tips and identified 79 child victims.  Although the command positon is primarily an administrative function, Lieutenant Richmond planned and executed a 2019 undercover operation to identify adults who were seeking children for illicit activities.  The operation resulted in the arrests of one dozen suspects charged with state and federal crimes.  During his special assignment, Lieutenant Richmond continued to lead the investigative work and supervise Arkansas State Police Special Agents assigned to Company D encompassing nine north and west Arkansas counties.

Medal of Valor:
The Medal of Valor is the highest award presented to a commissioned or civilian employee of the Arkansas State Police. The Medal of Valor is earned for extraordinary acts of valor and gallantry that clearly set the individual apart from other employees.

Corporal Chad Staley was presented the Medal of Valor for his role in an August 21, 2019 incident while he was assigned to the department’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team.  The team responded to a Van Buren County hostage standoff situation.  Corporal Staley developed an entry plan for the team to gain access to a residence where an armed individual was holding a nine year-old boy hostage.  The plan was executed flawlessly, allowing troopers to enter undetected, confronting the gunman and safely extricating the child.

Trooper Garrett Brock, assigned to Troop F, headquartered at Warren was presented the Medal of Valor for his role in an October 17, 2019 incident.  While leaving Warren Trooper Brock initiated a traffic stop after observing a driver violation.  The driver refused to comply and began to flee the area.  During the course of a motor vehicle pursuit through a rural area of Bradley County, the driver of the suspect vehicle lost control of the car causing it to crash alongside a gravel road.  The driver exited the vehicle and raised a handgun, pointing it at Trooper Brock.  The suspect began to open fire on Trooper Brock who returned fire, striking the suspect who later died.

Sergeant Philip Hydron and Corporal Mike Nelson were presented Medals of Valor for their roles in an August 27, 2019 incident while assigned to the Arkansas State Police Special Weapons and Tactics Team.  A homicide suspect who was believed to have killed two women in West Helena had barricaded himself inside a local residence.  After four hours while troopers attempted to make contact with the suspect, an arrest team was formed to approach the residence at which time the suspect exited the house.  Sergeant Hydron and Corporal Nelson moved-in to establish communication with the suspect who then raised a gun, pointing it in the direction of the two troopers.  In an attempt to distract the suspect, state police snipers engaged the suspect with gunfire as both Sergeant Hydron and Corporal Nelson moved toward the residence.  An ensuring exchange of gunfire led to the death of the suspect.

Trooper Matt Price, assigned to Troop H, headquartered at Fort Smith was presented the Medal of Valor for his role in a May 29, 2019 incident.  During a Crawford County manhunt for a bank robbery suspect, Trooper Price encountered the suspect fleeing the area in a vehicle along Interstate 40.  While attempting to stop the vehicle the driver began firing a gun at Trooper Price who returned fire wounding the suspect, yet continued to flee until Trooper Price was able to take the robbery suspect into custody.

Troopers Cross:
The Trooper’s Cross is awarded to Troopers and civilian employees who demonstrate courage at a level not justifying the Medal of Valor.

Corporal Andrew Ault and Corporal Jason Baethke were presented the Trooper’s Cross for their roles in an August 27, 2019 incident while both were assigned to the Arkansas State Police Special Weapons and Tactics Team.  As two team members approached a West Helena residence where a homicide suspect had barricaded himself inside the home after allegedly killing two women, Corporals Ault and Baethke were assigned in sniper positions to cover the troopers approaching the residence.  (*See narrative for Medal of Valor presented to Sergeant Philip Hydron and Corporal Mike Nelson.)  Corporals Ault and Baethke engaged the suspect with gunfire as he exited the residence aiming a gun at the two SWAT team troopers nearest the house.

Corporal Houston Talley (Special Agent), assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division, Company B, headquartered at Pine Bluff, was presented the Trooper’s Cross for his role in an April 29, 2019 Jefferson County incident.  Special Agent Talley was off duty traveling with his family when he witnessed a motor vehicle crash.  S/A Talley stopped at the crash site and began to render aid to the injured victims.  Inside one of the vehicles, he found the entrapped driver, a woman, who said her two young grandchildren were in the backseat.  Using a pry bar, S/A Talley was able to open one of car doors to extricate the driver, then began to crawl his way into the rear of the car which had been crushed, forcing the rear seat into the trunk.  After moments of searching for the children, S/A Talley saw a child safety seat embedded in the floorboard.  Still strapped into the car seat was an infant who S/A Talley removed from the wreckage, only to return and begin searching for the second child.  Near the rear of the car, tangled within the crushed backseat, S/A Talley found a 4-year-old boy. Unable to remove the child until additional assistance arrived, S/A Talley stayed with the youngster in an attempt to provide moral comfort and render any medical aid he could.  The young boy later died, however his grandmother and sister survived.

Corporal Robert Kyle Jones, assigned to Troop G, headquartered at Hope was presented the Trooper’s Cross for his role in a July 16, 2019 Howard County water rescue incident.  Two women and a small child were trapped inside a bus that had stalled along a flooded roadway near Dierks.  As heavy rain continued to fall, and realizing it would be only a short time before the already swift current of the rising waters would turn into a churning river, Corporal Jones drove to his nearby home to retrieve a kayak and three life vests.  He then returned to the area only to see his worst fear; water already inside the bus and quickly rising.  Upstream from the bus Corporal Jones entered the fast-moving stream and maneuvered the kayak toward the vehicle knowing he would have to crash into the rear of the bus in what would be his one and only chance of getting inside to save the three occupants.  With the help of the adult women, Corporal Jones was able to crawl through a window of the bus in order to get the life vests into the hands of the occupants.  He then exited the bus through an emergency exit, re-entered the kayak and reached for the child being handed to him by the women.  Once Corporal Jones was able to get the child into the hands of emergency personnel on higher ground, he returned to the bus twice more, successfully rescuing both adults.

Sergeant Nicholas Brown was presented the Trooper’s Cross for his role in an August 21, 2019 incident while assigned to the Arkansas State Police Special Weapons and Tactics Team.  As the team developed an entry plan to extricate a child hostage that was being held by a Van Buren County gunman, Sergeant Brown volunteered to place himself in harm’s way and single handedly remove a barricade that had been placed against an exterior doorway.  Gaining an unobstructed access to the particular entry point to the residence was vital to the plan as it would facilitate a means to enter the home undetected.  Sergeant Brown was successful in his mission to remove the barricade allowing the team to enter and safely remove the hostage.

Trooper Michael Kyle Ellison, assigned to Troop A, headquartered at Little Rock, was presented the Trooper’s Cross for his role in a November 11, 2019, Pulaski County incident.  Sherwood police had contacted Troop A telecommunications requesting assistance in getting a vehicle stopped that was fleeing the area.  As the Sherwood officers entered North Little Rock, the fleeing driver headed for Interstate 40 and eventually moved onto Interstate 30 (westbound).  Trooper Ellison took the lead in the pursuit as it continued into southwest Little Rock along I-30 and onto Baseline Road.  As the fleeing suspect continued to increase the speed of the vehicle he was driving and approaching Stagecoach Road, Trooper Ellison realized an opportunity was ahead that would allow for a PIT maneuver, forcing the car off the roadway and eliminating any threat of danger to other motorists.  As the PIT was executed, the suspect lost control of the car, causing it to crash.  Trooper Ellison then began to coordinate the extrication of the driver from the crash and set-up a clear path for emergency medical personnel to access the area.

Distinguished Service Award:
The Distinguished Service Award honors citizens or law enforcement officers from other agencies who assist the Arkansas State Police in the apprehension of a criminal in a manner that clearly and directly places the individuals in jeopardy, physical harm or death.

Dylan Boucher of Pocahontas has been awarded the Arkansas State Police Distinguished Service Award for his role as a private citizen coming to the aid of an Arkansas State Trooper on October 17, 2019.  Boucher had witnessed a motor vehicle crash along U.S. Highway 67.  When Boucher saw one of the drivers leave the crash scene, he contacted Arkansas State Police Troop B Headquarters in Newport and began following the vehicle, keeping a Troop B telecommunications operator advised of his location.  Trooper Andrew Lay was dispatched to the area and intercepted the hit and run driver.  Trooper Lay initiated a traffic stop and made contact with the driver who began to resist the trooper’s attempt to arrest him.  The two began to wrestle alongside the highway.  Boucher had remained at the traffic stop and stepped from his vehicle to assist Trooper Lay getting the suspect under control.

Official Commendations: 
*Presented for acts of exemplary service and awarded during the course of 2019 during regular monthly meetings of the Arkansas State Police Commission. Certificate. * *Supporting information for the commendations is available upon request.
Corporal Brandon Trewyn
Trooper Drew Pannell
Trooper John Bass
Corporal Robert Stewart
Corporal Shane Alkire
Corporal Aaron Keith
Corporal Jason Davis
Trooper Trevor Stevenson
Trooper Spencer Morris
TFC Joshua Porter
Corporal Dwight Lee
TFC Chris Shor

OCTOBER 27, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 28, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 379
Confirmed Cases: 359
Probable Cases: 20
Total Active Cases: 49
Active Confirmed Cases: 42
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 320 
COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 379
Confirmed Cases: 359
Probable Cases: 20
Total Active Cases: 49
Active Confirmed Cases: 42
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 320
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 307
Recovered Probable Cases: 13
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,122
Confirmed Cases: 1,004
Probable Cases: 118
Total Active Cases: 40
Active Confirmed Cases: 25
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 1,033
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 936
Recovered Probable Cases: 97
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 43
Probable Deaths: 6
COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 704
Confirmed Cases: 607
Probable Cases: 97
Total Active Cases: 51
Active Confirmed Cases: 31
Active Probable Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 632
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 556
Recovered Probable Cases: 76
Total Deaths: 21
Confirmed Deaths: 21
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 179
Confirmed Cases: 176
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 3
Active Confirmed Cases: 2
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 171
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 169
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 53
Confirmed Cases: 50
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 7
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 46
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 44
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 107,679
Confirmed Cases: 100,061
Probable Cases: 7,618
Recovered Cases: 96,322
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

DON’T LET PHANTOM POWER TRICK YOU INTO HIGHER ENERGY USAGE
Devices can haunt your home year-round
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS – While ghosts and goblins only come out at Halloween, phantom power can haunt your electric bill year-round. With a few tips and tricks, however, you can scare away unnecessary energy usage.

Phantom power, also known as standby power, vampire power or phantom load, is the energy used by certain plugged-in appliances and electronic devices, even when they are in standby mode or turned off.

The most common culprits include electronics with remote controls, built-in clocks or timers and instant-on features such as televisions, computers, printers and video game consoles.

While it might seem like a trivial amount, it’s spooky how much wasted energy can add up over time and affect monthly utility bills. According to the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, phantom power accounts for as much as 10% of residential electricity usage.

High electric bills can be frightening, but with a little care and attention, they don’t have to be. Use these tips to keep high electric bills from haunting you.
Vanquish phantom load by turning off appliances and electronics that use power even when you’re not using them. These “vampires” sit in stand-by mode and suck energy that can add to the cost of your bill. Plug these devices into power strips and turn them off regularly with the push of a button.
Banish sneaky phone chargers and power adapters by unplugging them and whatever they are charging when not needed.
Trap escaping air from windows and doors by using caulking or weather stripping leaky areas and closing chimney flues
Ward off witches by lowering the heat on that fiery cauldron (aka water heater).
Scare away ghosts with LED bulbs, which last longer and use less energy than traditional bulbs.
Guard against evil power surges from lightning or voltage spikes by using surge protectors on expensive electronics and appliances.
Mummify’ your house with new insulation in walls and attics.
Engage the superheroes of energy efficiency with the Energy Solutions program.
Treat yourself to a new Energy Star-rated appliance.

ABOUT ENTERGY ARKANSAS
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 715,000 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 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.

SIMMONS BANK DONATES $25,000 TO EL DORADO UAMS REGIONAL CAMPUS
EL DORADO, Arkansas – On Oct. 28 Simmons Bank presented $25,000 to University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) representatives to help fund the coming UAMS regional campus in El Dorado. The campus represents a joint effort by the Medical Center of South Arkansas (MCSA) and UAMS to increase medical access throughout south Arkansas by training primary care physicians to serve Union County.

“The arrival of the UAMS regional campus in El Dorado will represent a very special moment for our community, bringing benefits that range from enhanced medical services and education to boosted economic opportunity,” said Rob Robinson, Simmons Bank’s El Dorado community president. “We at Simmons feel honored to support a program that will positively impact so many individuals and families.”

The UAMS regional campus in El Dorado hopes to open its clinic in January 2022 and begin training medical college graduates to become family medicine residents by July 2023.

“I am very thankful to Simmons Bank for this investment to improve health care in El Dorado,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA. “Community partnerships like these are essential to increasing access to health care across the state. We are looking forward to establishing a new regional campus in El Dorado.”

UAMS has committed to building its ninth regional campus in El Dorado. The majority of family practice physicians in rural areas of the state are trained at one of UAMS’ eight regional campuses. Creating a regional campus will provide an influx of physicians and health care professionals to create a sustainable educational and training pipeline and make it easier to maintain consistent levels of care.

Regional Campuses, originally called Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), was started in 1973 through the efforts of then-Gov. Dale Bumpers, the Arkansas Legislature and UAMS to train medical residents and provide clinical care and health education services around the state. Its eight regional campuses are located in Batesville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Helena-West Helena, Jonesboro, Magnolia, Pine Bluff and Texarkana. UAMS is working to expand the number of campuses across the state.

Simmons’ donation to the UAMS Regional Program follows on the heels of its $1 million gift to support the Jefferson County Health Unit and the Veteran’s Services Office earlier this month and a $1 million gift to Arkansas Children’s in May to support construction of a new pediatric clinic in Pine Bluff. 
 

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES MILITARY SERVICE OF HARRISON WWII VETERAN
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service of World War II veteran Perry Harness in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans. 

Harness was born in Bear Creek, Arkansas on February 13, 1925. As the son of farming parents during the Great Depression, he understood the value of hard work and the importance of family at a very young age. Harness grew up in a small cabin with his parents, eight siblings and his grandparents who were a close part of his early life. 

“We were a poor family but proud…hard times that I am so glad I went through. I would not want to go back,” he recalled. 

Harness was well aware of the worries his parents had about their children serving in uniform since three of his older brothers were also in the military at the time he was drafted. When asked why his father picked up a raincoat and went to the orchard every evening, Harness’ mother replied that the “raincoat is to kneel on and the prayer [is] for all of the boys that were in service.”

Upon graduating from Marshall High School, Harness began his service in the Army. If you were “breathing and warm, they’d take you because they needed ‘em,” he said.

Harness trained at Camp Wheeler, near Macon, Georgia which he described as “seventeen of the hardest weeks of my life.” He then shipped off to Europe on the Queen Elizabeth, an ocean liner used for troop transport. 

Harness landed in Scotland, but soon found himself in France for the Battle of the Bulge. 

Though Harness trained in heavy artillery, the demand for front line troops was too great to ignore. “They were really looking for troops when they put me on the front line,” Harness explained. During his time in battle, Harness was a rifleman before getting his final job in the military: carrying the bazooka. 

After weeks of intensive fighting in the cold and snowy battlefield, Harness was shot in the knee. Despite being under enemy fire and having limited immediate medical attention, he was able to find help, and get a ride to a treatment facility. The injury he sustained prevented Harness from continuing to serve in the Army. He was honorably discharged with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

“Thank God for a bad shooter,” Harness joked. 

After returning to Arkansas, Harness got married and became a shoe salesman for what is now known as Harness Boots and Shoes on the square in Harrison. 

In 1946, Harness was a founding member of the Boone County Disabled American Veterans. Just as he did in battle over 75 years ago, Harness continues to fight for those who have served our nation. 

“Perry Harness’ life is a continuous story of fighting for causes much larger than himself, and I thank him for his service. I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his stories,” Boozman said. 

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

COTTON STATEMENT ON JUDGE BARRETT’S CONFIRMATION
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the statement below after Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court:

“Judge Barrett has earned the confidence of the United States Senate and the trust of the American people. Her confirmation is a triumph for the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and our nation.”
 

BOOZMAN VOTES TO CONFIRMJUDGE BARRETT TO SERVE ON THE SUPREME COURT
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after voting to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve as Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court:

“Judge Barrett has demonstrated that she is eminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. Her resume is impeccable. Her demeanor is calm and unshakeable. Perhaps most importantly, her understanding of the role shows she will be a fair-minded and thoughtful jurist who steers clear of legislating from the bench. 

Judge Barrett has earned the trust and confidence of the Senate and the majority of the American people. I congratulate her on this honor and look forward to her tenure on the Supreme Court.”
 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE’S STATEMENT ON APPOINTMENT OF AMY CONEY BARRETT AS U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE
"LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

“As the mother of a two-year old daughter, I am personally and professionally thrilled about today’s historic confirmation of the first mother of young children to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As a strong and brilliant jurist, Judge Barrett will adhere to the rule of law to protect our Constitution and our country. I look forward to the many opportunities in which Justice Barrett will hear cases from our office which impact the lives of all Arkansans.”

October 26, 2020

EARLY VOTING CONTINUES IN OUACHITA COUNTY
Early voting continues this week at the Ouachita County Courthouse. You can vote at the Courthouse from 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday and 10 to 4 Saturday and 8 to 5 on Monday November 2nd. Friday, October 30th and Saturday October 31st all polling places will be open for early voting the same hours as the Courthouse.


 

The following voting locations will be open on Friday, October 30th from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm and Saturday, October 31st from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm
Bearden Lion’s Club
Calvary Baptist Church
Chidester City Hall
Elliot Baptist Church
Ross Center (Thrive Church)
The Word Family Church

You can vote at any of the voting sites regardless of where you live in the County.

Remember to take your photo ID with you. Arkansas State Law requires that a picture ID is necessary to vote.

As of Saturday, October 24th, 2,887 votes had been cast in the County. The Clerk’s Office has received 1,227 absentee ballots.
 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: CASTING YOUR VOTE IN 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Election Day 2020 is quickly approaching - a time when Arkansans have the opportunity to have their constitutional rights heard by making important decisions on candidates and issues being considered on the ballot. This year has brought forward challenges that have required additional precautions which will ensure all Arkansans are safe while executing their voting rights. Despite any concerns with the changes, it is important for Arkansans to know that the integrity of the election is preserved and that when a ballot is cast, it will be counted.

“Voting is one of the most important rights we have as Americans,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “We are blessed to live in a country with free and fair elections where our voice truly matters when we exercise our right to vote.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following voter information list:

Confirm your voting registration, location and precinct with your county clerk on your voter registration card or online at VoterView.org.

Check with your County Clerk to view a sample ballot before you vote.

Due to COVID-19, you may request an absentee ballot from the County Clerk’s office by printing an English or Spanish  absentee ballot application and return it by mail or in person to your county clerk by October 27.

The Arkansas Health Department issued a guidance for voters to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

Review candidate information and ballot issues by visiting the Secretary of State’s Elections website.

Research ballot issues from a non-partisan source beforehand to be a more informed voter.

Early voting for Arkansas began Monday, October 19th and will run through Monday, November 2nd, the day before Election Day. The polls are open on Monday through Friday 8am-6pm and Saturdays 10am-4pm with hours on Monday the 2nd at 8am to 5pm.

Absentee ballots must be returned to your County Clerk by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, November 3. Military ballots must be post marked by Election Day and received by Friday, November 13.

For tips on what to expect at your polling location, you can review the Secretary of State’s Voting 101 Pocket Guide or if you would like to report a voting concern, please contact the State Board of Election Commissioners at (501) 682-1834 or visit arkansas.gov/sbec.

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at OAG@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 26, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 


COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 374
Confirmed Cases: 354
Probable Cases: 20
Total Active Cases: 50
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 314
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 30
Recovered Probable Cases: 13
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,118
Confirmed Cases: 1,002
Probable Cases: 116
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 34
Active Probable Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 1,014
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 925
Recovered Probable Cases: 89
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 43
Probable Deaths: 6


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 690
Confirmed Cases: 598
Probable Cases: 92
Total Active Cases: 44
Active Confirmed Cases: 27
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 627
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 552
Recovered Probable Cases: 75
Total Deaths: 19
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 0

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 179
Confirmed Cases: 176
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 5
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 168
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 166
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 48
Confirmed Cases: 46
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 5
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 42
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 41
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 106,115
Confirmed Cases: 98,880
Probable Cases: 7,235
Recovered Cases: 94,528

sFor additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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


 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN NAMED RECIPIENT OF NLGA IMPROVING LIVES AND COMMUNITIES AWARD
Says, ''A truly healthy and vibrant Arkansas' requires tackling problems like 'homelessness, recidivism, and substance abuse.'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin announced today that he has been awarded the Anthem Improving Lives and Communities Award by the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA). The Improving Lives and Communities Award honors dedicated public servants who work to enhance the lives of their constituents and impact every aspect of community life by addressing social drivers of health such as nutrition, affordable and accessible housing, economic stability, and transportation in order to promote the wellbeing and quality of life for individuals and families. 

 Lt. Governor Griffin has been selected to receive this award due to his extensive community involvement and leadership. Lt. Governor Griffin serves on the board of Our House shelter for the working homeless, as well as on the board of Pathway to Freedom, a nonprofit, faith-based prison ministry at the ADC unit in Wrightsville that prepares inmates to be reintegrated back into society. He has also served on the boards of the Florence Crittenton Home for unwed mothers and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas. 

 Upon receiving the award, Lt. Governor Griffin released the following statement: "I am honored to receive this award, and I thank Anthem and the NLGA for bringing awareness to these critical issues. If we want a truly healthy and vibrant Arkansas, we must continue to tackle the toughest societal problems that impact Arkansans. I remain committed to finding solutions to issues such as homelessness, recidivism, and substance abuse, so that every Arkansan can live a healthy life and fulfill their God-given potential."
 

LYON COLLEGE AND STONE WARD ANNOUNCE DATA SCIENCE PARTNERSHIP
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Oct. 26, 2020) – Lyon College and Stone Ward have created a data science partnership, which provides real-world experience to students by allowing them to collaborate and work alongside Stone Ward’s analytics team. The partnership will focus on analyzing client data and offer analyses and recommendations to Stone Ward and its clients to help move their business forward. In addition to hands-on experience, Lyon students will also have the opportunity to earn academic credit by participating in micro-internships with Stone Ward. 

Stone Ward, a Little Rock based advertising agency, contacted Lyon after the College announced its addition of the data science program this past spring. Lyon College is the first private college to add data science as a major in Arkansas. 

“Stone Ward is committed to building good for our clients and the community. This collaboration will allow us to share our knowledge and resources with the students at Lyon College to help advance the field of data analytics,” said Millie Ward, president of Stone Ward. “With today’s business climate becoming increasingly more digital-driven, we hope that more students will consider data and analytics as a career path for their future.” 

Lyon’s new data science professor, Dr. Torumoy Ghoshal, said finding access to real-world data can be difficult, so the partnership is a great opportunity for students. Working with “real-world data” will prepare students “for real-world challenges,” he said.

Associate Professor of Computer Science David Sonnier agreed, “The use of real data will allow us to bring our students from the ‘toy data’ level to the next level, which reflects the real world.”

"As one of the first agencies to form this type of innovative partnership, Stone Ward will have even greater access to some of the brightest, up-and-coming analytical minds in the state to enhance our already deep business insights into custom algorithms, models, and machine learning,“ said Brett Parker, director of media and digital services at Stone Ward. “Our marketing analytics will be even stronger moving forward, which is a desperately needed business solution amid the exponential growth of data in virtually all aspects of life.”

“The projects they will complete are likely to make their resumes stand out,” said Ghoshal. “The potential internship opportunities will give them first-hand experience with industry level data science projects.”

According to the organizations’ memorandum of understanding, students will use the consumer information in several ways to help clients, such as selecting media channels to promote a particular product, determining company performance, and finding effective price points on particular products or services.

Provost Melissa Taverner added that the partnership “also will require students to practice effective interpersonal communication with Stone Ward professionals.”

“This kind of experience is ultimately our goal for all of our students,” she said

October 23, 2020

WHITE OAK LAKE STATE PARK’S “HALLOWEEN IN THE PARK” CANCELED
Bluff City, AR – Due to the health pandemic, White Oak Lake State Park will not be hosting “Halloween in the Park” this year. The park remains open to camping and day-use visitors.

Unregistered guests are not permitted within the campground. The park closes at 10 p.m. to unregistered guests. For more information please contact the park’s Visitor Information Center at 870-685-2748.

ARKANSAS LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL APPROVES  BUSINESS INTERRUPTION GRANT FOR CERTAIN ARKANSAS BUSINESSES LAST WEEK THE
 Arkansas Legislative Council approved a business interruption grant for certain Arkansas businesses in the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. The grant will provide reimbursement for a portion of specific eligible expenses incurred by businesses in these industries between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020.
 The program will utilize $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in these industries significantly impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Arkansas small businesses having 250, or fewer, full-time employees located in Arkansas may seek reimbursement for expenses associated with COVID-19 mitigation or certain listed business interruption expenses due directly to local, state or federal government COVID-19 directives. Grants can be for up to $250,000 each.
Applicants will have plenty of time to plan an application with a Facebook Live question and answer session the week of Nov. 2 and an applicant help phone line opening on Nov. 9, one week before the application period opens. All applications will be done online. A link to the application will be posted on www.ArkansasReady.com. An applicant checklist and FAQs regarding the grant can be accessed here: https://arkansasready.com/news/
The grant application period will open Monday, Nov. 16, and close Wednesday, Nov. 25. Grants will be awarded on a prorated basis depending on the total number of applicants and the amount of reimbursement requested. The program anticipates making grant awards in late December.

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 23, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 351
Confirmed Cases: 335
Probable Cases: 16
Total Active Cases: 38
Active Confirmed Cases: 31
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 304
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 295
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,100
Confirmed Cases: 990
Probable Cases: 110
Total Active Cases: 47
Active Confirmed Cases: 25
Active Probable Cases: 22
Total Recovered Cases: 1,004
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 922
Recovered Probable Cases: 82
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 43
Probable Deaths: 6


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 667
Confirmed Cases: 582
Probable Cases: 85
Total Active Cases: 33
Active Confirmed Cases: 19
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 615
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 544
Recovered Probable Cases: 71
Total Deaths: 19
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 0

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 178
Confirmed Cases: 176
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 167
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 165
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 47
Confirmed Cases: 46
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 41
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 40
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

 

Arkansas

Total COVID-19 Cases: 102,798
Confirmed Cases: 96,292
Probable Cases: 6,806
Recovered Cases: 92,288

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

COTTON & GALLAGHER INTRODUCE BILL TO CLOSE LOBBYING LOOPHOLES FOR CHINESE COMPANIESWashington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) today announced they will introduce the Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act, which would close loopholes that allow lobbyists for Chinese companies to avoid registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The bill comes after Rep. Gallagher and Sen. Cotton wrote to Attorney General Bill Barr last month expressing concerns about these loopholes and whether individuals lobbying on behalf of certain Chinese companies should be required to register under FARA..

“Chinese companies—particularly powerful ones—are all arms of the Chinese Communist Party and remain ultimately under state control. It’s time our laws recognize that reality. Our bill will close legal loopholes and force lobbyists for Chinese companies to register as foreign agents," said Cotton.

"Even nominally private Chinese firms are not like normal companies. All Chinese firms, and especially those significant enough to register lobbyists in Washington, D.C., are subject to the extrajudicial direction of the Chinese Communist Party," said Gallagher. "This bill ensures companies subject to the direction of the CCP face appropriate disclosure standards and Americans better understand how our adversaries seek to use the swamp against us." 

Following calls from Rep. Gallagher and Sen. Cotton, the U.S. Department of Defense released lists of Chinese companies affiliated with the People's Liberation Army. Despite the publication of these lists, individuals lobbying on their behalf can still receive exemptions, including for commercial activity, that allow them to register under the less transparent Lobbying Disclosure Act.

OCTOBER 23, 2020

COTTON & GALLAGHER INTRODUCE BILLTO CLOSE LOBBYING LOOPHOLES FOR CHINESE COMPANIES
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) announced they will introduce the Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act, which would close loopholes that allow lobbyists for Chinese companies to avoid registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The bill comes after Rep. Gallagher and Sen. Cotton wrote to Attorney General Bill Barr last month expressing concerns about these loopholes and whether individuals lobbying on behalf of certain Chinese companies should be required to register under FARA. 

“Chinese companies—particularly powerful ones—are all arms of the Chinese Communist Party and remain ultimately under state control. It’s time our laws recognize that reality. Our bill will close legal loopholes and force lobbyists for Chinese companies to register as foreign agents," said Cotton.

"Even nominally private Chinese firms are not like normal companies. All Chinese firms, and especially those significant enough to register lobbyists in Washington, D.C., are subject to the extrajudicial direction of the Chinese Communist Party," said Gallagher. "This bill ensures companies subject to the direction of the CCP face appropriate disclosure standards and Americans better understand how our adversaries seek to use the swamp against us." 

Following calls from Rep. Gallagher and Sen. Cotton, the U.S. Department of Defense released lists of Chinese companies affiliated with the People's Liberation Army. Despite the publication of these lists, individuals lobbying on their behalf can still receive exemptions, including for commercial activity, that allow them to register under the less transparent Lobbying Disclosure Act.

OCTOBER 22, 2020

EARLY VOTING IN OUACHITA COUNTY
Early Voting started on Monday at the Ouachita County Courthouse. According to County Clerk Britt Williford, as of Tuesday afternoon 1147 voters had been through the Courthouse to cast their vote.

Early voting continues through 5 pm November 2nd. Hours to vote are from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturdays and 8 to 5 on Monday November 2nd.

The following voting locations will be open on Friday, October 23rd from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm and Saturday, October 24th from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. They will be open again Friday, October 30th from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm and Saturday, October 31st from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.

Bearden Lion’s Club
Calvary Baptist Church
Chidester City Hall
Elliot Baptist Church
Ross Center (Thrive Church)
The Word Family Church

You can vote at any of the voting sites regardless of where you live in the County.

Remember to take your photo ID with you. Arkansas State Law requires that a picture ID is necessary to vote.

OPED BOARD OF DIRECTORS BOARD MEETING
The OPED Board of Directors will meet on Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 10:00 am in the OPED Training Room located at 570 Ben Lane SE, in Camden.

Please wear a mask. Hand sanitizer will be available. Social distancing will be practiced. Packets will be on the tables. The meeting is open to the public, but an RSVP is required.
The agenda is as follows:
Call to Order                                                                       Jim Golden
Audience Participation                                                   Jim Golden
Approval of Minutes – September 2020                  Chuck Sponer
Financial Reports – September 2020                        James Nixon
Overview of Contacts-Ext. Director                           James Lee Silliman
OPED Budget Committee Update                             Dotty Harris
Nominations Committee-Officers/Executive Committee Reese Broadnax
Workforce Presentation                                                Reese Broadnax
Old Business
Future Fit Update                                                            Karmen House 
AEDC's Competitive Communities                            James Lee Silliman
Open Discussion                                                               Jim Golden                        
Adjournment                                                                    Jim Golden

Next Scheduled Board Meeting – November 11, 2020

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE S.T.O.P. PROGRAM
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division has selected 15 playgrounds as participants in the Shade Trees on Playgrounds program.

Schools selected in South Arkansas include McGehee High School, Gardner Strong Elementary School in Strong, Smackover Pre-school in Norphlet, and William Jefferson Clinton Primary School in Hope.

The Shade Trees on Playgrounds Program was organized to lower adult skin cancer risk by reducing childhood exposure to direct sunlight where children play, like school playgrounds.

Winning schools receive five shade trees, mulch, watering supplies, and planting guidelines after participating in program training.

"The STOP program combines hands-on, outdoor experiences with classroom curriculum about the importance of trees and how to care for trees," said Kristine Kimbro Thomason, Urban & Community Forestry Program coordinator.

Schools are invited to submit S.T.O.P. applications annually. To qualify, participating schools must lack shade, participate in a virtual S.T.O.P. workshop, agree to use Forestry Division curriculum to emphasize the importance of trees and forestry in Arkansas, hold a tree-planting ceremony with students, and agree to long-term maintenance of the planted.
 

SAU BOARD OF TRUSTEES SET OCTOBER 29TH VIRTUAL MEETING
MAGNOLIA – The Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees will meet at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in the Reynolds Center Grand Hall on the campus of SAU.

Board members and presenters only will meet face-to-face. Guests are invited to attend this public meeting virtually via Zoom on smartphone, laptop or desktop by logging in https://zoom.us/j/94946865567?pwd=OUl4SjBQMW04d3c2WWJoM3QxaWUydz09 and using the meeting ID 949 4686 5567.

To join the meeting via audio only, dial 1-312-626-6799, using meeting ID 949 4686 5567.

Agenda items include comments from Dr. Trey Berry, SAU’s president; Dr. Jason Morrison, SAU Tech’s chancellor; SAU refunding bond pricing presented by Shawana Reed, vice president for Finance; SAU Tech program changes presented by Dr. Valerie Wilson, vice chancellor of SAU Tech; SAU program changes, presented by Dr. David Lanoue, SAU’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; SAU’s 2019-20 Minority Recruitment and Retention Annual Report, presented by Lanoue; SAU Tech’s 2019-20 Minority Recruitment and Retention Annual Report, presented by Jenny Sanders; Memorandum of Understanding, presented by Josh Kee, SAU’s vice president for Advancement; SAU’s 2018-2019 Legislative Audit, presented by Reed; SAU Tech’s 2018-2019 Legislative Audit, presented by Gaye Manning, vice chancellor, and personnel changes, to be discussed in executive session.

HOW COVID-19 HAS CHANGED THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS FOREVER
(StatePoint) The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed how business gets done. And when it comes to midsized and small businesses, the importance of investing in new technology, facilitating remote work and maintaining a tech-savvy workforce has never been so clear, according to a new survey.

Conducted by The Harris Poll for CIT Group Inc., a leading national bank focused on empowering businesses and personal savers, the survey of leaders of U.S. middle-market and small businesses is designed to illuminate the intersection of technology and talent.

Compared to last year’s survey, significantly more leaders today believe continuous technological investment is a business requirement.

“The resiliency and flexibility that technology can deliver businesses has been convincingly proven by COVID-19,” says David Harnisch, president of CIT’s Commercial Finance division. “Business leaders have taken that lesson to heart and are focused on making technology a fundamental part of their ‘tomorrow thinking’.”

Most executives surveyed wish that they’d invested even more in technology over the past 12 months. In fact, more than three in four middle market executives believe investments in technology would have helped their company fare better during the pandemic. For small businesses, roughly half felt similarly.

However, there’s little question how important technology will be going forward, with the majority of respondents saying it’s crucial to future success.

Seemingly determined not to repeat the mistake of under-investing, the majority plan to invest as much or more in their business over the next 12 months as compared to the past year. Only 15% of small businesses say they may invest less this coming year, likely due to financial constraints resulting from the pandemic.

“Small businesses don’t always have the financial resources that larger enterprises often enjoy,” says Ken Martin, managing director of CIT’s Small Business Solutions group. “When investments are imperative, borrowing or leasing may be the right solution to acquiring the technology needed to remain competitive.”

When it comes to these upgrades, investments that make it easier for employees to work remotely are a clear priority. Over the next 12 months, 71% of middle market executives and 31% of small business leaders who plan to invest will spend on technology that facilitates remote work.

“It’s not just a matter of convenience. Businesses that empower employees to work remotely have a clear competitive advantage,” says Denise Menelly, CIT's executive vice president and head of Technology and Operations.

This is a trend that’s likely here to stay. Approximately a quarter of small businesses operating remotely expect -- and want -- these changes to remain permanent after COVID-19 subsides, and about 40% of middle market executives expect the same, with some seeing it as a means to grow the company.

However, this digital transformation puts a premium on a tech-savvy workforce able to support customers and collaborate with colleagues remotely. While many believe their current workforce has the skills to keep up, businesses are also substantially more likely than last year to say companies need to focus on hiring tech-savvy talent.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created a great deal of uncertainty for small and midsized businesses, it has in many ways clarified what’s needed to remain successful in an evolving world.

 

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES PROGRAM CREATES NEW OUTDOORS OPPORTUNITIES FOR ARKANSAS SCHOOLS, STUDENTS
LITTLE ROCK — Thanks to a partnership between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation, Arkansas schools can now add semester-length programs focused on outdoor recreation that qualify for a Physical Education credit.

The Outdoor Adventures curriculum developed by OTF has been taught in more than 600 schools in 37 states, meeting all requirements to be used as a co-ed Physical Education course, a local elective or an Agricultural Science Wildlife Management course. 

The program differs from the many educator resources currently available from the AGFC by including a rounded list of lesson plans and curriculum to support a full semester of outdoor education. 

“We have Hunter Education and Boater Education in many schools, as well as our [Arkansas National Archery in the Schools] and Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports as after-school activities for students to engage with us,” Hollie Sanders, assistant chief of education for the AGFC. “But we just can’t devote the staff time to be available at all of the schools in the state for a full semester at a time. This partnership bridges that gap.”

In addition to conservation concepts, the curriculum offered in Outdoor Adventures includes activities such as angling, archery, camping, wilderness survival, outdoor cooking, fly-tying and paddlesports. More than 34 units are available for teachers to choose from to mold the program to fit their students and community. Many of the AGFC’s other programs are addressed, letting students know about the many ways they can become more involved in the outdoors.

“I wish we had things like this when I was in school,” Sanders said. “Instead of only being exposed to traditional sports like softball and volleyball, we could have also had an opportunity to go outside to shoot a bow or a slingshot, maybe learn how to paddle a canoe or fish. Outdoors skills are healthy forms of exercise people may enjoy for the rest of their life, well beyond their youth, and you don’t have to be the most athletic person in the room to excel at them.”

The AGFC even has a way to offset the cost of implementing the program through its conservation education grants. 

“The program costs $1,000 for the curriculum, but the school will receive a matching amount of $1,000 for the supplies needed for classes,” Sanders said. “In the future that first $1,000 may be eligible for conservation education grants collected from fine money, so it’s possible to start the program with zero cost to the school. Schools that already have equipment from other AGFC programs may be able to work from that end, using that equipment as the match for the curriculum cost. They just need to reach out to OTR and the AGFC to see how we can get this program started at their location.”

Even if educators cannot find a way to fit the Outdoors Adventures program in their schedules this year, Sanders says the AGFC has many other resources available to help them deliver the conservation and outdoor education message, despite challenges brought about by COVID-19.

“We’ve adapted many of our traditional programs to meet the needs of educators while maintaining the current need for social distancing,” Sanders said. “We can deliver many teacher workshops for professional development and classroom programs through online meeting platforms and can work with our educators to make sure our youth have the opportunity to learn about Arkansas’s great outdoors and find their outside.”

Visit www.agfc.com/en/education or call 501-223-6300 to learn more about education programs offiered by the AGFC. For more information on signing up for the Outdoor Adventures program, contact Scot McClure at 972-504-9008 or email scot@GoOTF.com.

RANKIN COLLEGE OF BUSINESS TO HONOR THREE INDUCTEES IN 2020 HALL OF FAME CLASS
MAGNOLIA -- The David F. Rankin College of Business at Southern Arkansas University proudly announces the 2020 Hall of Fame Class honoring three inductees who exhibit outstanding professional achievement, remarkable peer leadership, and exceptional support for the Rankin College of Business.

The second Hall of Fame class includes Dr. David Rankin, president-emeritus of SAU; Mr. Ron LeMay, managing director and co-founder of OpenAir Equity Partners and CEO of Main Street Data; and business honoree Murphy Oil Corporation.

According to Dr. Robin Sronce, dean of the Rankin College of Business, the Hall of Fame “recognizes and memorializes remarkable business leaders and organizations for professional success, community service and dedication to SAU and the College of Business.”

“We are appreciative of the impact this year’s inductees have made on our University and the students in the College of Business,” said Dr. Sronce. “We are excited to be able to honor them through their induction into our Hall of Fame.”

Dr. Rankin earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas, an MBA from Louisiana Tech University, and a PhD in Finance from the University of Mississippi. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.

He retired as president of SAU on June 30, 2015, and was named President Emeritus. He served SAU for 46 years, the last 13 as president. He also served as the dean of the College of Business and professor of finance and economics.

His ambitious “Blue and Gold Vision,” SAU’s first capital campaign, raised more than $100 million for numerous campus projects. With the addition of the Governor Ben and Lucile Laney farm and the 400-acre Ted Monroe farm the University more than doubled in size to a total of 1,892 acres.

Rankin facilitated growth for SAU’s quality academic programs, adding many cutting-edge programs to SAU’s comprehensive list of degrees.

He served as the Economic Advisor to Arkansas Governors and as Chairman of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. He is a George Washington Honor Medal recipient from the Freedoms Foundation for Excellence in Economic Education. He served as Chair of then-Governor Mike Huckabee’s Summit on Economic Development in 1998, as Chair of the Golden Triangle Economic Development Council, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Council of Economic Education. Rankin has also served on the NCAA Division II National Presidents’ Council and the NCAA Long-Range Planning Task Force.

He is the author of What Every American Needs to Know About Economics released in 2018.

LeMay is a successful corporate executive, serial entrepreneur and early stage investor with more than 50 years of experience. OpenAir Equity Partners specializes in broadband communications and the “Internet of Things” associated with related data science investments. Its portfolio companies focus on connected car, home, aircraft and agricultural machinery businesses to access and shape data into solutions that revolutionize business processes, companies and industries.

Previously, LeMay served as president-COO of Sprint. As the first employee and CEO of Sprint PCS, LeMay guided the company from start-up to $10 billion in annual revenue and grew the company to 35,000 employees in four years. On retiring from Sprint in 2003, LeMay served as CEO of Japan Telecom, where he orchestrated the company’s turn-around and successful sale to SoftBank, producing the highest internal rate of return of any multi-billion-dollar private equity exit.

In addition, he is a co-founder of GoGo Inflight Internet Services, the leading global broadband in-flight Internet service. LeMay co-founded Hyla Mobile, the company that invented the wireless device trade-in program for carriers, which is now the global leader in that space. He is co-founder of Conexion Connect, an operator of fiber to the home networks in rural America. LeMay has served on eight public company boards and numerous private company boards over the past 20 years.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Murphy Oil Corporation is an independent exploration and production company with a balanced portfolio of global offshore and onshore assets. Murphy produces oil and natural gas in the United States and Canada and conducts exploration activities worldwide. Murphy has deep roots in south Arkansas and had its corporate headquarters in El Dorado until earlier this year when it consolidated all of its worldwide offices to Houston. Murphy has supported SAU for many years through different initiatives including the Murphy Lecture Series. The company has employed many SAU graduates through the years.

The Rankin College of Business will host this year’s inductees in the Leadership Challenge Speaker Series at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22 via Zoom. The induction ceremony for the second Hall of Fame class will be delayed until 2021, due to COVID. These distinguished honorees will join the inaugural inductees from 2019, which includes the late Mr. Louis Blanchard, Dr. Ron J. Ponder, and Peoples Bank.
 

COTTON & LOEFFLER TO AG BARR: INVESTIGATE RACIAL SEGREGATION IN SCHOOLS
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr urging the Department of Justice to investigate apparent racial segregation in schools, particularly on college campuses.

“Sadly, there is evidence that segregation is a growing trend, especially on college campuses. A report released last year by the National Association of Scholars compiled hundreds of instances where college campuses have established or allowed programs or activities that are segregated on the basis of race, color, or national origin. That includes segregated residence halls, commencement ceremonies, cultural centers, student and alumni groups, ‘safe spaces,’ and even classes,” the senators wrote.

The full text of the letter may be found below.
The Honorable William Barr
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Barr,

I write to bring your attention to an alarming trend of apparent racial segregation in schools in the United States. These cases appear to violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in federally funded programs or activities. I urge the Department of Justice to investigate these and similar cases as part of our nation’s commitment to equality before the law.

On September 8, the Center for Social Justice and Inclusion at the University of Michigan-Dearborn hosted two virtual “cafes,” or online discussion groups, that were segregated on the basis of race, with moderators also segregated on the basis of race. The cafes were advertised as opportunities for students “to gather and discuss their experience” on campus and in the world as members of a particular racial group.

This discussion series included separate events for “BIPOC” students—a politically correct neologism that stands for “Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color”—and “non-POC,” or white, students. In plain English, the University of Michigan appears to have created “whites-only” and “non-whites-only” events, in a manner reminiscent of the doctrine of racial segregation overturned by Brown v. Board of Education. The University of Michigan’s chancellor later apologized for the events and reaffirmed the school’s “commitment to an inclusive campus community.” The school now maintains the race-based events “were never intended to be exclusive or exclusionary for individuals of a certain race.”

Similarly, on August 7, the University of Kentucky’s Bias Incident Support Service hosted segregated training sessions for resident assistants, “one for RAs who identify as Black, Indigenous, Person of Color and one for RAs who identify as White.” The training for non-white students was called “Healing Space for Staff of Color,” while the training for white students was called the “White Accountability Space.” While resident assistants received invitations to both trainings, they were “expected to attend only one that corresponds best to your identity,” according to an email from the University. Students who attended the “whites-only” meeting were provided with supplementary materials that listed “common racist behaviors and attitudes of white people.” One of the examples on the list was segregation.

Sadly, there is evidence that segregation is a growing trend, especially on college campuses. A report released last year by the National Association of Scholars compiled hundreds of instances where college campuses have established or allowed programs or activities that are segregated on the basis of race, color, or national origin. That includes segregated residence halls, commencement ceremonies, cultural centers, student and alumni groups, “safe spaces,” and even classes.

College administrators often rationalize these forms of racial segregation, claiming they give members of certain racial groups, especially minority groups, spaces where they can discuss shared concerns and issues. Thus, these defenders attempt to portray racial segregation as a tool to further diversity. Some defenders of these practices further claim that segregated facilities and events protect racial minorities from racism that supposedly is endemic in our nation’s schools.

Whatever the rationale, the effect of racial segregation is to divide the student body on a college campus, creating racial or ethnic enclaves. This practice heightens racial consciousness while discouraging students from thinking of themselves as part of one nation that encompasses members of all races.

Racial segregation is antithetical to our nation’s creed, expressed in the Founding documents, that “all men are 

created equal.” Segregation also is illegal under multiple federal laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act states that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The practices outlined above appear to violate the plain text and intent of the Civil Rights Act. I thus urge you to investigate these and similar cases of racial segregation in our nation’s schools, enforcing the law as written and bringing offenders into “prompt and full compliance” with the law.

Sincerely,
 

COTTON, ROSEN URGE BULGARIA TO DESIGNATE HEZBOLLAH AS TERRORIST ENTITY 
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada) sent a letter to the Bulgarian Ambassador to the United States Tihomir Stoytchev expressing appreciation for Bulgaria's recent sentencing in absentia of Hezbollah operatives responsible for the 2012 bombing of a bus of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria and encouraging Bulgaria to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist entity in its entirety.

"The time is right for concrete actions from our European allies to hold Hezbollah accountable. The Burgas attacks convinced the European Union in 2013 to designate the so-called 'military wing' of Hezbollah, but not its 'political wing,' as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah's political leadership does not itself recognize this division. In designating Hezbollah as a terrorist group, Bulgaria would reject this false distinction and set a bold example for the rest of the European Union to follow," the Senators write.
 

COTTON, BOOZMAN EXPRESS CONCERN OVER TRICARE PRESCRIPTION FULFILLMENT
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) sent a letter to the Defense Health Agency expressing concern over current policy that requires Tricare beneficiaries to fill certain prescriptions through Express Scripts with no option to use local pharmacies. 

“We applaud Tricare’s use of retal pharmacies by allowing beneficiaries to obtain vaccinations and other services at their local pharmacy. As you know in addition to dispensing medications and vaccines, local community pharmacists provide many valued and cost-saving services. Examples include: medication adherence services, access to health tests, and management of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Local and community pharmacies are considered healthcare providers to our veterans and service members living in rural areas,” the Senators write.

The letter requests the Defense Health Agency answer the following questions.

How is DHA monitoring the delivery of medication from mail-in pharmacies to beneficiaries to ensure it arrives in a timely manner?  
How is DHA monitoring the availability of prescription medications and alerting beneficiaries that their prescription drug is in short supply?  
One benefit of using local and community pharmacies to fill prescription medications is the support these pharmacies offer by answering questions regarding dosage, side effects, and other concerns of the beneficiary. How is DHA ensuring that beneficiaries receive equivalent support from mail-in pharmacies? 
Is there a course of action beneficiaries can pursue if they are unsatisfied with the delivery or availability of medication or support from the mail-in pharmacies?  

 

BOOZMAN MEETS WITH SUPREME COURT NOMINEE JUDGE AMY CONEY BARRETT 


U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after meeting with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to serve as Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court: 

“While her legal and academic resume were already well known, the Judiciary Committee’s hearings gave the country an opportunity to see Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s exceptional intellect and calm demeanor on display. The manner in which she handled the intense questioning exceeded my already high expectations and reaffirmed my view that Judge Barrett will respect her Constitutional role, rather than attempt to legislate from the bench. I appreciate that Judge Barrett took the time to discuss her nomination with me and look forward to casting my vote to confirm her to serve on the Supreme Court in the coming days.”


SENATE DEMOCRATS REJECT MUCH-NEEDED COVID-19 RELIEF ONCE AGAIN
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement following Senate Democrats’ filibuster of targeted coronavirus relief legislation that would offer further support to American families, workers, small businesses, schools and front line health care workers:

“Americans have to be tired of watching Senate Democrats block multiple efforts to provide them with relief during this difficult period. 

My colleagues and I put forth yet another responsible, targeted relief bill focused on getting Americans back to work, back to school and back to some sense of normalcy. Instead of working with us to pass this bill, Senate Democrats continue to state Speaker Pelosi’s bill—which comes with a multi-trillion dollar price tag, and funds programs which have nothing to do with COVID-19 needs—is all they will accept.

This is not the issue to play politics with. Our nation is simultaneously facing a public health emergency and an economic crisis at the same time. This chamber has a responsibility to act. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to stop focusing on their own political wishes. Instead, they ought to start focusing on defeating the virus and helping those who are struggling to get through these unprecedented times.”


 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES $500,000 JUDGMENT AGAINST OWNER OF 
FRADULENT TIMESHARE EXIT COMPANY

Says, ‘judgment sends a message to dishonest timeshare exit companies'
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced a judgment against Bart Bowe, co-owner of Bentonville, Arkansas-based Real Travel, LLC. Real Travel and its owners, Bowe and Brian Scroggs, charged consumers exorbitant fees but did not deliver on their guarantees to help consumers transfer or cancel their timeshare property interests. Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Real Travel, Bowe and Scroggs under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for their deceptive acts and illegal misrepresentations to consumers. The judgment requires that Bowe pay $50,000 in restitution and $450,000 in suspended civil penalties.

“Good, hardworking people were promised a service they did not get. Instead, they were left with unwanted timeshares and additional debt.” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This judgment sends a message to other dishonest timeshare exit companies that seek to take thousands of dollars from unsuspecting timeshare owners.”

The lawsuit, filed in July 2019, alleged that Real Travel sold timeshare exit services to consumers nationwide. In exchange for a fee ranging from approximately $5,000 to $18,000, Real Travel convinced consumers through deception, high-pressure sales tactics, and a so-called “100% Guarantee” that it would liquidate, cancel, or transfer their unwanted timeshares. However, Real Travel failed to honor their agreements with consumers, leaving consumers burdened with the ownership of their unwanted timeshares, all the associated costs and fees and the additional unnecessary costs of Real Travel’s illusory services. During the investigation, the Attorney General’s Office discovered 83 consumers impacted by Real Travel’s illegal acts.

Under the consent judgment in this case, Bowe will no longer be able to conduct any business related to timeshares or timeshare exit businesses in Arkansas. The State is still pursuing a judgment against Real Travel and Scroggs in Benton County Circuit Court.

Consumers can file complaints with the Attorney General’s Office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.

OCTOBER 21, 2020

ISSUE 3 - CHANGING ARKANSAS' CITIZEN INITIATIVE PROCESS, VOTES REQUIRED FOR LEGISLATIVE BALLOT ISSUE PROPOSALS AND PUBLICATION REQUIREMENTS
This amendment asks voters to approve changes to three parts of the Arkansas Constitution, which would impact how proposed ballot measures make it on the ballot for voter approval as well as publication requirements for legislative proposals.

First, the amendment would change Article 5, Section 1 of the Arkansas Constitution, known as “Initiatives and Referendum.” The proposed changes would:

Change the date when voter signatures are due for statewide ballot measures proposed by the public. Instead of four months ahead of the general election, the due date would be set as January 15 of the election year.

Increase the number of counties where voter signatures must be collected for statewide ballot measures and referendums proposed by the public, from 15 counties to 45 counties.

Establish April 15 of the election year as the deadline for filing lawsuits challenging statewide ballot measures proposed by the public.

Eliminate the ability of statewide ballot issue groups to collect and submit additional signatures from voters to put a proposed constitutional amendment, state law or referendum on the ballot if the first round of signatures submitted to the Secretary of State does not meet the threshold. This is often called a “cure period.”

Eliminate the cure period for local ballot measures on a city or county-wide ballot if the first round of signatures submitted to the city or county clerk does not meet the threshold.

Eliminate a section requiring that a person challenging the validity of a ballot issue petition in court has the burden to prove the petition is invalid. The impact of this change is not clear.

Add a sentence to the constitution that extends a deadline that falls on a weekend or holiday, to the next day that isn’t a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.

Second, the amendment would make changes to Article 19, Section 22 of the Arkansas Constitution, known as “Miscellaneous Provisions.” The proposed changes would:

Increase the number of votes needed by state legislators to refer a constitutional amendment to voters, from a simple majority of legislators in each house of the General Assembly to 3/5 of the members in each house. This is a change from 50% to 60% of legislators in each house.

Delete a requirement that constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature be published in a newspaper in each county for six months ahead of the election. Instead, the proposed amendment would be published “in a manner provided by law.” No additional definition is provided.

Third, the amendment would make changes to Amendment 70, Section 2 of the Arkansas Constitution impacting how legislators propose a constitutional amendment changing salaries of elected state officials. This new section would:

Delete a requirement that proposed constitutional amendments affecting the salary of statewide elected officials and legislators be published in a newspaper in each county for six months ahead of the election. Similar to proposed changes to Article 19 listed above, an amendment proposed under this section would be published “in a matter provided by law.” No additional definition is provided.

Add a sentence to the constitution that would require constitutional amendments proposed under this section to comply with requirements in Article 19, Section 22. This would effectively increase the number of votes needed by state legislators to refer salary-based constitutional amendments to voters from a simple majority of legislators in each house to 3/5 of all members in each house. This is a change from 50% to 60% of legislators in each house.

How did Issue 3 get on the ballot?
Arkansas senators and representatives voted last year to put Issue 3 on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot for voters to decide.

Who is supporting or opposing this measure?

Supporters and opponents that spend money to campaign are required to register with the Arkansas Ethics Commission as a ballot or legislative question committee. Visit the Commission's website to view these filings, which include names of people behind a group and how much money has been raised or spent. 

Multiple groups have filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission to financially support or oppose Issue 3.

STATE POLICE CID CONTINUES INVESTIGATIVE WORK IN SHARP COUNTY HOMICIDES & ASSAULT
OCTOBER 20, 2020)
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are continuing their work today assisting Sharp County sheriff’s deputies in developing leads and collecting evidence connected to the apparent murders of two women and the assault on a third.  Officers of the Cherokee Village and Highland Police Departments have also joined the investigations.
Agents were called to 28 Warpath Drive in Cherokee Village before noon yesterday (Monday, October 19th) where the body of Hayleigh Gruger, 23, was discovered by local authorities inside the victim’s home.
During the course of processing the Warpath Street crime scene, state police CID special agents were sent to a second crime scene at 101 FM Road in Highland, southeast of Cherokee Village.
Debra Compton, 41, was transported from the Highland address to an area hospital where she is being treated for a stab wound sustained while she was in a vehicle with two men traveling in the area.  One of the men fled the crime scene and was later taken into custody by state police special agents.  The 24 year-old man is considered a suspect in the attack on Compton and the deaths of Gruger and a third woman.
Late yesterday Sharp County deputies and state police special agents located the body of Linda Janny, 72, in her home at 1 Lakeshore Drive, Cherokee Village.
The bodies of Gruger and Janny have been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where autopsy examinations have begun to determine when the deaths occurred and each victim’s manner and cause of death.
Information related to any criminal charges that may be filed against the lone suspect will be released by the Sharp County Sheriff’s Department.  

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 21, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 342
Confirmed Cases: 328
Probable Cases: 14
Total Active Cases: 40
Active Confirmed Cases: 35
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 294
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 285
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 8
Confirmed Deaths: 8
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1081
Confirmed Cases: 980
Probable Cases: 101
Total Active Cases: 36
Active Confirmed Cases: 19
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 998
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 919
Recovered Probable Cases: 79
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 660
Confirmed Cases: 581
Probable Cases: 79
Total Active Cases: 44
Active Confirmed Cases: 32
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 597
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 530
Recovered Probable Cases: 67
Total Deaths: 19
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 177
Confirmed Cases: 175
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 5
Active Confirmed Cases: 5
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 167
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 165
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 44
Confirmed Cases: 43
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 38
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 37
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 100,441
Confirmed Cases: 94,418
Probable Cases: 6,023
Recovered Cases: 90,283

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE SUES MONOPOLIST GOOGLE FOR VIOLATING ANTITRUST LAWS
Arkansas joins DOJ and ten other states in filing complaint against Google to restore competition in search and search advertising markets
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced filing a civil antitrust lawsuit jointly with the U.S. Department of Justice and ten state attorneys general in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.

“Most Americans think it is free to ‘Google’ something, but it comes at a cost and that cost is the freedom to choose the best products from the best companies,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As Attorney General, I am charged with the responsibility of protecting the citizens of our state and while I want businesses to thrive, I will do everything in my power to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair practices.”

As alleged in the complaint, Google, being one of the wealthiest and most powerful companies on the planet with a market value of $1 trillion, entered into a series of exclusionary agreements to lock up the primary avenues through which users access search engines, and thus the internet. By requiring that Google be set as the default or exclusive search engine on billions of mobile devices and computers worldwide, Google solidified its lead as the primary search engine in the United States, accounting for almost 90 percent of all search queries. In particular, the complaint alleges that Google has unlawfully maintained monopolies in search and search advertising by:

Entering into exclusivity agreements that forbid pre-installation of any competing search service.
Entering into tying and other arrangements that force pre-installation of its search applications in prime locations on mobile devices and make them undeletable, regardless of consumer preference.
Entering into long-term agreements with Apple that require Google to be the default – and de facto exclusive – general search engine on Apple’s popular Safari browser and other Apple search tools.
Generally using monopoly profits to buy preferential treatment for its search engine on devices, web browsers, and other search access points, creating a continuous and self-reinforcing cycle of monopolization.
These and other anticompetitive practices harm competition and consumers, reducing the ability of innovative new companies to develop, compete and discipline Google’s behavior.

By restricting competition in search, Google’s conduct has harmed consumers by reducing the quality of search (including on dimensions such as privacy, data protection and use of consumer data), lessening choice in search, and impeding innovation. By suppressing competition in advertising, Google has the power to charge advertisers more than it could in a competitive market and to reduce the quality of the services it provides them. Through filing the lawsuit, Arkansas seeks to stop Google’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition for American consumers, advertisers and all companies now reliant on the internet economy.

In addition to Rutledge and the Department of Justice, the other participating state Attorneys General offices represent Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas.

 

October 20, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID UPDATE – OCTOBER 20, 2020
Arkansas hit a grim milestone on Tuesday with the state topping 100,000 cumulative cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in the spring.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the new figures during his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday afternoon. He reported 840 new cases since Monday, raising Arkansas' overall total to 100,437. During the same period deaths increased by 14 to a total of 1,576. Hospitalizations saw another increase on Tuesday, raising by 24 to 637. Arkansas testing positivity rate remains around 7.6 percent - below the CDC's goal of eight percent or less. 

Hutchinson's press conference marked his 153rd since the pandemic began. But, it was the first to be held entirely through a virtual setting. That was made necessary, Hutchinson said, after he was informed on Monday of his proximity to a confirmed case of COVID-19 during a meeting last week. So far Hutchinson has himself tested negative for the virus. Due to caution however Tuesday's press conference was held virtually with state officials and media. 

Hutchinson provided a bright spot during Tuesday's meeting with Arkansas' latest unemployment data. That data continues to track a downward trend in Arkansas' unemployment rate. The rate dropped slightly from 7.4 percent in August to 7.3 in September. The national unemployment rate remains around 8.4 percent.

Arkansas Secretary of Health Jose Romero spoke briefly to stress the importance of Arkansas' mask mandate. He said no other practice can do more to help curb the increasing growth COVID-19 cases in the state. 

Before concluding Tuesday's press conference, Hutchinson called for a voluntary, statewide day of prayer this Sunday.  He said this would be a way for Arkansans to remember those who've died due to COVID-19 and that strength is still needed for the weeks and months ahead.

In review, Arkansas topped 100,000 cumulative cases on Tuesday with 840 new cases reported over the past 24 hours. Deaths increased by 14 to 1,576 while hospitalizations saw a net increase of 24 to 637. State health officials reported a net decrease in active cases for the second day in a row but exact figures were not immediately available. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 


BALLOT ISSUE #2
Issue Number 2 is a constitutional amendment to amend the term limits applicable to members of the General Assembly, to be known as the “Arkansas Term Limits Amendment.

This amendment asks voters to eliminate life-time term limits for state legislators. Prohibit future legislators from serving more than 12 years in a row. Legislators who serve the full 12 years consecutively would be allowed to hold office again once four years have passed since their last term expired.  It Includes two-year senate terms resulting from apportionment after a census in calculating the years of consecutive service for legislators elected after January 1, 2021. Currently, this two-year partial term does not count toward term limits. It will also allow current legislators and any legislators elected this November to serve under the current term limit amendment, which allows them to serve 16 years consecutively or non-consecutively. They would be eligible to hold office in the future once four years have passed from their last term expiring.

How did Issue 2 get on the ballot? Arkansas senators and representatives voted last year to put Issue 2 on the November 3, 2020 ballot for voters to decide.

Who is supporting or opposing this measure?

Supporters and opponents that spend money to campaign on this issue are required to register with the Arkansas Ethics Committee as a ballot or legislative question committee and file reports disclosing who has donated money and how the money was spent. 

As of August 21, 2020, no group has filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission to officially support or oppose this measure. This issue is being challenged in court with a lawsuit filed to strike it from the ballot. 
 

HAMPTON SCHOOL DISTRICT BREAKS GROUND ON 5- ACRE SOLAR FARM 
Hampton Schools Collaborate with Today’s Power, Inc. to Construct 770-kW Solar Array on Campus 
LITTLE ROCK & HAMPTON, ARK, October 15, 2020 –Hampton School District (HSD) groundbreaking in partnership with North Little Rock's Today's Power, Inc. (TPI) to announce the school district’s new Solar project. The solar project will encompass 5 acres of land and will be owned and operated by TPI. All energy generated by the array will be sold under a 20-year Solar Power Services Agreement (SPSA) to HSD. 

"The Hampton City School District is proud to be part of a venture like this, according to HSD Superintendent Doug Worley. Seeing our community embrace solar power, our school board sought an innovative way to take be fiscally responsible and respecting our environment. As a cornerstone of the Hampton community, we saw this opportunity as a method to impact the lives of our students and the entire community. “ 

In an area with ample renewable energy use, these projects are just another example of how solar power saves and are a stable long-term investment 

Sited near the Hampton Highschool, the HSD array will be a 770-kW single-axis tracking array, and it is expected to produce over 90% of the districts energy needs by generating approximately 1,240,000 kWh each year. Ouachita Electric Cooperative will provide the remaining energy needs of the District. 

In April 2020, the HSD school board began pursuing solar-powered opportunities by creating and distributing a request for proposal (RFP) from qualified solar vendors with the goal of reducing operating expenses. The contract was awarded to TPI after the complete RFP process was completed. 

“This is yet another project in a region where solar power is widely installed that exemplifies Solar’s ability for economic and environmental savings. TPI is excited to partner with HSD to help reduce costs so more of the school’s funds can go to educational purposes” said Michael Henderson, President of TPI.  

Construction of the 2,052-panel solar system will begin in December 2020 and will be ready to produce clean, affordable energy late in the first quarter of 2021. 

Today’s Power was created in November 2014 by Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI) to serve Arkansas’ electric cooperatives but our fellow cooperatives in neighboring states and municipals quickly learned of our program and wanted a “known business partner” to provide their solar system. 

Today's Power is now one of the most qualified renewable energy companies in the nation with more utility scale solar and storage projects than any Arkansas based company. 

As an integral part of helping the electric cooperative and public power sector serve their members who are interested in solar and emerging technologies, Today's Power also designs advanced renewable energy systems for residential and commercial and industrial customers of all sizes. 

Hampton School District is a public-school district based in Hampton, AR. The school district encompasses 479.67 square miles of land. Hampton School District is the only public-school district in Calhoun County. The city of Hampton is conveniently located 30 miles north of El Dorado, AR and 25 miles east of Camden, AR. 

Hampton School District serves over 600 students from the communities of Hampton, Harrell, Tinsman, and Locust Bayou. The district consists of one comprehensive high school, one elementary school, and one pre-k school. Hampton employs approximately 100 faculty and staff members.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 19, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 336
Confirmed Cases: 324
Probable Cases: 12
Total Active Cases: 40
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 289
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 280
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1073
Confirmed Cases: 976
Probable Cases: 97
Total Active Cases: 32
Active Confirmed Cases: 18
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 994
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 916
Recovered Probable Cases: 78
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 658
Confirmed Cases: 580
Probable Cases: 78
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 39
Active Probable Cases: 16
Total Recovered Cases: 584
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 522
Recovered Probable Cases: 62
Total Deaths: 19
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 177
Confirmed Cases: 175
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 5
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 166
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 167
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 42
Confirmed Cases: 41
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 4
Active Confirmed Cases: 4
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 38
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 37
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

BOOZMAN CELEBRATES WINSLOW FAMILY AS 2020 ANGELS IN ADOPTION
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized Dawn Curtis and the late Danny Curtis for their commitment to providing a loving home to children in need and making a difference for other families throughout the region. Boozman nominated the couple from Winslow, Arkansas for the 2020 Congressional Angels in Adoption award and talked with Dawn to celebrate this recognition via a Zoom meeting on Tuesday.

The Curtises have 12 children, including 10 they adopted from foster care, and have been advocates for adoption and the needs of children through their careers and personal lives.

“The Curtis family is an amazing example of putting love into action. Their personal commitment changed the lives of the children they brought into their family and serves as an inspiration for others as to the impact of foster care and adoption. I’m proud to recognize Mrs. Curtis and her late husband for their inspiring work on behalf of children and families in Arkansas,” Boozman said.

The couple first became adoptive parents after seeing a photo album of children in foster care at a booth hosted by the Arkansas Department of Human Services at a local Walmart. They fell in love with the picture of a four-year-old girl and learned she had three brothers. The siblings had been in the foster care system for three years and multiple homes when the couple adopted all four of the children.

After their first adoption experience, Dawn decided to follow her passion to work with children in foster care and obtained her master’s degree in social work. She went on to work for the Arkansas Department of Human Services and served in a variety of roles during her career, including as an Adoption Specialist. During these years, the family was approached to consider adopting others in foster care and eventually added six additional children to their home.

Danny worked for many years as a police officer and a bus driver while caring for his growing family. Danny and Dawn also visited Washington, D.C. on several occasions to advocate for adoption and children in foster care. The 12 Curtis children span 20 years of age and are all adults now, but the example and dedication of their parents continues to move everyone around them.

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) coordinates the Angels in Adoption program and raises awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States, and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent homes.

“The Angels in Adoption program gives a platform to the families, advocates, and experts who so often serve quietly behind the scenes yet make a huge impact on behalf of children and families. Together with the Adoption Caucus, we are thrilled to shine a light on the extraordinary work of our Angels,” said CCAI’s Executive Director, Nancy Kay Blackwell.

Boozman annually nominates an Arkansan or Arkansas organization that has made an extraordinary contribution on behalf of children in need of safe and loving homes as an Angel in Adoption.
 

c

COTTON STATEMENT ON DOJ ANTITRUST SUIT AGAINST GOOGLE
Washington, D.C. — Following reports that the Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google earlier today, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement:
“Google’s growth has gone unchecked for too long. Its anticompetitive conduct is harming the public and American business. I commend the Department for finally holding Google accountable. When it comes to big tech, this is just the beginning. Winter is coming.”

OCTOBER 19, 2020

 VOTER EDUCATION 101: HOW DOES AN ISSUE GET ON THE BALLOT?
In Arkansas, there are two ways for an issue to appear on the statewide ballot:
Legislators vote to put issue on the ballot.
Citizens collect enough signatures from registered voters across the state.
 Putting a proposed constitutional amendment or act on the ballot is not an easy task. Legislators whittle down dozens of proposals in committee meetings to arrive at the three proposed constitutional amendments they’re allowed to refer to voters. Citizens must collect thousands of signatures from registered voters in at least 15 counties. For an amendment, citizen groups need signatures from 89,151 registered voters. This is equal to 10% of the number of people who voted in the last governor’s election. For referendums, citizen groups must collect 53,491 voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. This represents 6% of the number of people who voted for governor last time. The Arkansas Secretary of State sent the official statewide ballot to counties on August 20th. Several court challenges that were in place when this voter guide went to print may alter what appears on the ballot for you to decide.
Go to www.uaex.edu/ballot for up-to-date information about the

 

BALLOT ISSUE #1
Issue 1 is an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution continuing a one-half percent (0.5%) sales and use tax for state highways and bridges; county roads, bridges and other surface transportation; and city streets, bridges, and other surface transportation after the retirement of the bonds authorized in Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 91. This ballot initiative proposes making permanent a 0.5% state sales tax that currently helps fund Arkansas’s four-lane highway system, county roads, and city streets, by amending the Arkansas Constitution to include the tax. The existing 0.5% sales tax, which is used partially to repay highway, road and street bonds, is set to expire in June 2023.


What do supporters say?  This tax will support around 3,600 jobs each year and provide $8.2 billion of economic activity over 10 years. This measure helps to pay for highway and road infrastructure without adding new taxes. It is just an extension of an existing tax. It’s not a new tax. If the tax extension doesn’t pass, you’re going to have county judges and mayors looking at their budget sheets thinking I’ve just lost 30% of my road money. Do I take that from other things? Or, do I let my roads further deteriorate? And those are tough questions.  There is a significant need for funding for highways and roads in Arkansas to ensure public safety, repair or replace dangerous bridges, and ensure access to reliable roads. The money could improve close to all of the roads that Arkansans use most. Funds could go towards improving almost all (7,300 out of 7,900) miles of roads that carry 90% of Arkansas traffc.  Funding for highways and roads is a growing problem because most of that funding comes from fuel taxes, which is whittled away by increasing construction costs, increasing fuel efficiency and decreased fuel consumption. Alternative funding sources are necessary.

What do opponents say?  ARDOT cannot take care of its existing roads because it has too many to oversee. If the highway department were to receive $300 million, it would ask for $300 million more. And if it gets that, it would need $300 million more. The amount of funding it receives is never enough.  A huge portion of the tax revenue will go to the 30 Crossing project in Little Rock, an unnecessary “boondoggle” that will benefit only a tiny percentage of Arkansans. ARDOT is currently being sued in state and federal courts for violating environmental and planning regulations on this project as well as using “4 lane highway” tax revenue for expanding these freeways from 6 lanes to 8+ lanes. Expanding I-30 will not perform as well as adding a local street bridge crossing and keeping the freeway 6 lanes.  Many Arkansas lawmakers have pledged not to increase taxes in Arkansas, and this increase would violate that promise.  It is a new tax. If you got a 10-year sentence in jail, and then the judge extended it, that would be an additional sentence.  More and more states have multi-modal transportation programs that fund public transportation. To date, ARDOT has spent virtually no dollars on public transit. 

 

SAU SETS RODEO FOR OCTOBER 22ND THROUGH 24TH
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University’s Intercollegiate Rodeo will be held at Story Arena October 22-24 beginning at 7:00 p.m. nightly. Capacity at this year’s event is limited due to the pandemic, and tickets are available by advance purchase only. Tickets will not be sold at the gate. Paper or electronic tickets (e-tickets) will be accepted.

Tickets may be purchased by visiting muleriderathletics.com/tickets, and pricing remains family friendly: adults $10, youth $5, children under the age of 6 will be admitted free (reserve free ticket online). Admission is free to SAU students, faculty, and staff, but an advance ticket must be reserved online and presented with an SAU ID at the gate.

All current public health guidelines will be enforced. Face coverings will be required to enter and exit the facility, and anytime in transit within the facility. Physical distancing will be monitored and must be maintained among non-family groups/individuals within the arena.

FORT SMITH TEACHER NAMED 2021 ARKANSAS TEACHER OF THE YEAR
LITTLE ROCK — When Susanna Post, a math and business technology teacher at Belle Point Alternative Center in Fort Smith, arrived at school this morning, she had no idea that a huge surprise awaited her. During an 11 a.m. routine, socially-distant, assembly, Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key recognized Post as the 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.

Post, a five-year teacher, utilizes her previous business world experience to build relationships with her students, connect them with the outside community, and give them real-world, relatable problems to solve. She strongly believes that positive relationships result in improved student learning and a strong school culture. Because of her multi-dimensional approach to reach each and every student, Post was named the Arkansas Teacher of the Year.

“Susanna Post’s real-life experience in the business world enriches the lessons that she teaches in the classroom,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “The list of programs she leads at Belle Point is evidence that she goes the extra mile. Her students are fortunate that Ms. Post decided to leave the oil and gas industry and return to Arkansas to resume her teaching career. Above and beyond her education and experience, however, she has a heart for her students.”

“Each year I get the privilege of announcing the Arkansas Teacher of the Year,” Key said. “This is an extremely tough decision, considering all the amazing teachers here in Arkansas. This year, however, one teacher, Ms. Susanna Post, stood out as the best of the best. Her exceptional ability to identify and meet the needs of every student exemplifies teaching excellence and empowers students to rise above all barriers to achieve success. I am extremely excited about Ms. Post’s platform to close the “empathy gap,” which is essential for student engagement and academic achievement. I know Ms. Post will make her students, her co-workers, Fort Smith, and Arkansas proud. Congratulations!”

Post began her teaching career at Wake County Public Schools in Raleigh, North Carolina, in July 2002. Because of a family move, Post temporarily left the classroom and entered the business world. She worked as a petroleum analyst and senior engineering technician at multiple oil and gas companies in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, and in Fort Smith, prior to returning to the classroom in 2016. She has taught at Belle Point Alternative Center since August 2016, previously supplemented homeschool curriculum for Grace Academy in Fort Smith, and continues to serve as an expert facilitator for the New Tech Network. 

At Belle Point, Post has co-taught with a senior high school Special Education teacher, initiated the school’s first Coding Club, coordinated with district curriculum leaders to create an ACT prep program, facilitated a Lindamood-Bell literacy intervention group, served on the district’s secondary math curriculum development team, and incorporates community relationships into problem and project-based lessons. She leads the school’s Culture Project Week, which includes project-based activities that improve school culture by strengthening relationships between students, teachers, and the community. 

Post was selected for the Class of 2020 Aspiring Leaders Institute and was named the 2020 Fort Smith Teacher of the Year. She has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics, with a minor in Computer Science, from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Central Arkansas at Conway, and a Master of Education in Rural and Urban School Leadership from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

In addition to being eligible to become the National Teacher of the Year, Post received an additional $14,000 award today sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation. She previously received $1,000 when named a Regional Finalist and an additional $1,000 when selected as a State Semi-Finalist.

Her one-year tenure as Teacher of the Year will begin July 1, 2021. During this time, Post will travel the state as a representative for teachers and will serve as a non-voting member on the State Board of Education.

To learn more about the Arkansas Teacher of the Year program, visit https://bit.ly/2P7mQXR.


COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 19, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 333
Confirmed Cases: 321
Probable Cases: 12
Total Active Cases: 42
Active Confirmed Cases: 39
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 284
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 275
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1072
Confirmed Cases: 976
Probable Cases: 96
Total Active Cases: 38
Active Confirmed Cases: 24
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 987
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 910
Recovered Probable Cases: 77
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 654
Confirmed Cases: 576
Probable Cases: 78
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 580
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 519
Recovered Probable Cases: 61
Total Deaths: 19
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 177
Confirmed Cases: 175
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 166
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 164
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 42
Confirmed Cases: 41
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 4
Active Confirmed Cases: 4
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 38
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 37
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas

Total COVID-19 Cases: 99,066
Confirmed Cases: 93,356
Probable Cases: 5,710
Recovered Cases: 88,450

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

FERAL HOG PROBLEM IN ARKANSAS
They’re mean, they’re nasty, and they destroy just about anything anywhere they are. If that description conjures up the image of a feral hog, you’ve certainly been paying attention. So have state officials in Arkansas. It's hard not to notice these widespread and highly destructive creatures. Feral hogs cause over $19,000,000 in damages here in Arkansas alone they pose a threat to native species especially ground nesting birds. They also present a significant risk to human and livestock health through the diseases they carry. Feral hogs are becoming a problem no one can miss. Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward is one of the leaders behind a multi-agency effort to tackle this increasingly widespread problem. The first step in any battle is knowing your enemy that's why in hopes of lending Arkansans a hand in this fight, the Department of Agriculture recently released its newly created Arkansas Feral Hog Handbook the Handbook is described as a guide to assist Arkansans in controlling and hopefully eradicating feral hog populations in their areas. Secretary Ward joined us earlier this week to detail the problems those animals pose and let Arkansans know they're not alone in this fight.

“The big impact that feral hogs have had, not just in Arkansas but across the country, they’re prolific animals, their nuisance animals. We've seen their population grow across the state and across the country and so they they create about 1.5 billion dollars worth of damage in the US, about 19 million worth of damage in Arkansas alone and w19e think that number is probably higher than that, but just what we've got reported so we've been working as the state over the last few years working with a very broad range of partners both from the government level as far as industry partners. Really anybody that's impacted by feral hogs that's all try to work together to to create resources and find solutions and all work together to address this problem and so it's that's part of what we're doing and we've been doing that the last several years. We have a feral hog eradication task force with a broad range of members and just recently published the feral hog Handbook that we're distributing to the public across the state just on what resources are out there and what we can do to help people

The Handbook includes contact information websites and brief explanations of the resources offered by state and federal agencies and other entities The Handbook also details the economic damages caused by feral hogs in Arkansas as well as the danger they pose to humans and livestock. Feral hogs aren't clean animals by any stretch of the imagination and Ward said they can be widespread vectors for disease the disease aspect.
“We know that feral hogs carry at least 45 different diseases and parasites so there's something that you have to be careful with. You know a lot of people will will shoot feral hogs and and process their meat and so people need to be very careful when they do that. Just make sure that they're being as sanitary as possible, but you know damage is widespread. We see it on forestry seedlings. Forestry is an important piece of Arkansas agriculture. You see disease spread to other animals, you see it spread to wildlife and you see it even in more urban areas. You know we've got people here in more urban settings in Little Rock residential housing areas that have sent pictures and like I just was out walking and saw Feral Hogs crossing. I mean we know that there are all 75 counties in Arkansas the damage is widespread. We think the $19,000,000 number is probably quite a bit higher. This is just a number that's been reported. We think it's pretty broad spread throughout the state on the damage they're causing.”

The Handbook is part of an increasing effort to tackle Arkansas's problem alongside multiple agencies and partner is across the state. Ward said part of the path of victory is letting Arkansans know they're not alone in the fight I can't stress enough just how important the partnerships are. It’s not  one entity for one group that's going to solve the feral hog problem, it's just too big so we we have been working very closely with with USDA as part of the 2018 Farm Bill was a pilot program for feral swine control. We work very closely with them and enter resources, conservation service, as well as USDA wildlife services but it was through through a partnership with them that we were able to put out this Handbook and really just trying to highlight the resources that we have at the state level and the USDA has at the federal level that our partners know  that the Farm Bureau, the Cattlemen's Association, Conservation districts, a broad range of resources, just trying to get that information out there as much as we can because we don't want people to have a feral hog problem and feel like  I've just got to  deal with this. I'm just going to have recurring damage. We want to be helpful and there's a broad range of resources that we want to make them aware of.

The handbooks are being distributed to the public at locations throughout the state including Farm Bureau Offices, the Cooperative Extension Service and Arkansas Game and Fish Nature Centers. Copies of the Handbook can also be found online at the Department of agriculture's website agriculture.arkansas.gov.

 

South Arkansas Arts Center Logo

SAAC PLANS VIRTUAL MOVIE WATCH PARTY FOR KIDS
South Arkansas Arts Center instructor and Artist in Education Mike Means is in the mood to watch a Halloween movie! As inspiration for his upcoming monster-themed pumpkin-decorating video, Mr. Mike is inviting all his friends, young and old, to join him for a "Monsters, Inc." virtual watch party on Saturday, October 17 at 1 p.m.
Next week, SAAC will release Mr. Mike's "Monster Pumpkin Painting" DIY video on our website, www.saac-arts.org

 To get everyone's spooky creativity going, we can all gather virtually to watch the movie, no matter where we are. With the My Disney Pal app, we can watch the movie on Disney Plus together, with Mr. Mike will posting lots of Monster trivia about Mike and Sully in the app's chat window.

"After watching the movie with me, get your family together and paint monster pumpkins for your house. You will need pumpkins, a pencil, assorted colors of acrylic paint, a couple of brushes, and a little creativity for monstrously good time," said Mike. Watch the DIY painting video on the SAAC website or Facebook page to see how Mr. Mike makes his version of a Mike Wazkowski and Sully from “Monsters, Inc.” 

To access the Watch Party, you will need a Disney Plus account and a computer with the My Disney Pal extension. The link to join the watch party will be posted on the day of the event. It will be posted on SAAC's website and Facebook page at about 12:30 to give everyone time to login before the movie starts at 1pm.

My Disney Pal is a third-party extension that allows us all to watch movies on Disney Plus and chat at the same time. The extension is available in both the Chrome or MicrosoftEdge browser. You will need to be on a computer or a laptop and have your own Disney Plus account. To join, first download the My Disney Pal extension in Chrome or MicrosoftEdge browser on your computer. Then open Disney Plus and login to your account. Go to SAAC's website or Facebook page to click on Mr. Mike's watch party link, and a new window will open with the movie. Click on the extension to join our room and the chat window will open. Enjoy the movie and Mr. Mike's monster trivia chat!

 

The watch party is free to anyone with a Disney Plus subscription! Call 870-862-5474 or come by SAAC for more information, or check out www.saac-arts.org for some great tips for logging on. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

South Arkansas Arts Center Logo

TRICK-OR-TREAT IS HERE!
The South Arkansas Arts Center in El Dorado will present Trick-or-Treat for 2020, except this year's festivities will be drive-thru for a change. Trick-or-Treat is Friday, October 30, just after school is done for the day and the week, between 3:30 and 5:00 P.M. If you have questions, phone the SAAC at 870-862-5474 or e-mail info@saac-arts.org.

 
 
 

October 16, 2020

JORY WORTHEN FACES JUDGE FOR FIRST APPEARANCE
Jory John Worthen faced Judge Hamilton Singleton for his First Appearance today at 1:30. Worthen entered the Court Room in shackles with his head down. Allyssa and Braydon had family members in attendance.

Worthen’s address of record is 701 N. Cedar in Bearden. He is charged with 2 counts of Capital Murder. Each count can be punished by life in prison or death.

Judge Siingleton read Worthen his rights to which he stated that he understood his rights. He had filled out an affidavit of indigency. The Judge declared him indigent and appointed Public Defender Daren Nelson to the case.

The finding of probable cause was waived as he was not going to get a bond or a release. The Prosecutor in attendance today was Geoff Rogers. The case will be heard in the 4th Division Judicial Court. Judge Robin Carroll will be the Judge.
After the appearance, Allyssa’s mother Angela, said that today was very difficult as it ws the first time she had laid eyes on Worthen since the murders of her daughter and grandson. She said that if she could ask him anything that she would ask him why. Why, if he hated them so much, didn’t he just leave.

LOCKHEED TEAMS WITH AEROJET ON NEXT GENERATION INTERCEPTOR
Aaron Mehta
Fri, October 16, 2020, 7:00 AM CDT
WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin today announced it will partner with Aerojet Rocketdyne to compete for the right to build America’s next missile defense interceptor.

The pairing officially ends any speculation about which company would produce the propulsion system for Lockheed’s offering of the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) program, which is being run by the Missile Defense Agency.

Lockheed’s offering will be “designed from the ground up as an all-up-round to address all elements of environmental survivability from day one,” according to a company press release. Aerojet Rocketdyne will provide the primary propulsion for the interceptor.

The NGI is the replacement for the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) program. The RKV program was paused in May 2019 and then abruptly terminated in August 2019 due to insurmountable technical issues resulting in delayed schedules ad cist increases. The Defense Department announced at the time that it would embark on an entirely new program to field a future interceptor. The RKV would have upgraded the U.S. homeland defense system’s interceptors designed to go after ballistic missile defense threats.

After gathering industry feedback, the Pentagon formally issued its request for proposals for the new interceptor in April. MDA plans to downselect to two companies, with an eventual winner aiming to have a system ready in 2028.

This marks the second NGI team that features Aerojet. Boeing had previously announced it was teamed with the firm, as well as General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, on its NGI bid; Northrop Grumman is partnering with Raytheon Technologies, the producer on the now-cancelled RKV program.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON TO CAMPAIGN FOR ISSUE 1, TRAVEL THE STATE ON MONDAY
Stops include Jonesboro, Harrison, Rogers, El Dorado and North Little Rock 

LITTLE ROCK—Governor Asa Hutchinson will kick off the start to early voting Monday, October 19, by traveling the state to campaign for “Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1.” to continue funding for Arkansas highways, roads, and bridges at no additional cost to taxpayers.

“The Vote for Issue 1 campaign is thrilled to have Governor Hutchinson travel the state to campaign for this important issue,” said Shannon Newton, Issue 1 Campaign Chair. “From the northeast part of our state, to the southwest corner—and everywhere in between—good roads play a vital role in the state’s economic development, the public’s safety, and our agriculture community. No one knows this more than our Governor, and his message will be key as voters head to the polls starting Monday.”

Governor Hutchinson will begin the day in Jonesboro with his last event scheduled for North Little Rock on Monday afternoon. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and members of the Issue 1 committee will join the Governor on the “Get Out the Vote” tour around the state.

Event details are as follows:
MONDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2020
JONESBORO
8:30 a.m.
Jonesboro Municipal Airport
3901 Lindbergh Dr.
Jonesboro, AR 72401

HARRISON
9:45 a.m.
Boone County Regional Airport
2524 Airport Rd.
Harrison, AR 72601

ROGERS
11:30 a.m.
Walmart AMP
5079 West Northgate Rd.
Rogers, AR 72758

EL DORADO
2:30 p.m.
Murphy Arts District Amphitheater
105 E Locust Dr.
El Dorado, AR 71730

NORTH LITTLE ROCK
4:30 p.m.
Argenta Plaza
510 N Main St.
North Little Rock, AR 72201

To learn more about the Issue 1 campaign, visit www.VoteForRoads.com.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR TRENT GARNER
October 16, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – The legislature has begun budget hearings, in preparation for the regular session that begins in January.
Setting spending levels for state agencies is the most time-consuming duty for legislators. It also is one of the most important duties of the legislature, even though it rarely generates a lot of publicity.

The budget work that begins in mid-October will be finalized in late March and early April of 2020, when the regular legislative session is expected to end. The budgets will set spending levels for state agencies for Fiscal Year 2022, which will begin on July 1, 2021.

Legislators have discretion over how to allocate about $5.6 billion in net general revenue. Its main sources are the state sales tax, the state individual income tax and the state corporate income tax.

In addition to state agencies, the legislature distributes aid to public schools and institutions of higher education.

Schools have other sources of revenue apart from state aid, chiefly the local property tax and some federal funds. Colleges and universities have revenue aside from state aid, mainly in the form of tuition, fees and donations.

Many state agencies receive federal funds in addition to the state dollars they receive in net general revenue. In total, Arkansas state agencies received about $9 billion in federal funding last fiscal year. The bulk of that total, more than $6 billion, went to the state Human Services Department for Medicaid, a health program for senior citizens, people with disabilities and low-income families.

Also, state agencies generate special revenues, which come from taxes collected for specific purposes. The largest category is the motor fuels tax, which generates more than $870 million in special revenue for the Transportation Department to maintain and build highways.

The state earns interest from banks and financial institutions and has numerous miscellaneous sources of revenue, such as fees for hunting and fishing licenses, leases from oil and gas producers, and rentals of cabins in state parks.

In all, state government has a total operating budget of $33 billion, according to the most recent data from the Finance and Administration Department.

In order to ensure that appropriations are spent properly, legislators and a team of accountants conduct audits on a year-round basis. They audit state agencies, school districts and institutions of higher education, and the results are reported to the Legislative Joint Audit Committee.

During regular sessions and fiscal sessions, the Joint Budget Committee review agency budgets and spending requests. During the interim between sessions, the Legislative Council and its subcommittees closely monitor state government spending to make sure that tax revenue is spent for the purposes set out in legislative appropriations.

Those subcommittees include the Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Subcommittee, which monitors financial practices, and the Personnel Subcommittee, which oversees staff changes.

Legislative subcommittees have been created to specifically monitor Medicaid, prisons, the Transportation Department, the Game and Fish Commission, the State Police, lottery scholarships, the health insurance marketplace and the regulatory boards that license occupations.

OCTOBER 15, 2020

JORDY WORTHEN BACK IN CAMDEN
A group of Camden City Police Officers drove to Los Angeles, California to bring Jory Worthen back to Camden where he will face charges for allegedly murdering Alyssa Cannon, and 4-year-old son, Braydon Ponder. Officers got to Los Angeles on Tuesday after a non-stop drive from Camden. They rested Tuesday evening to be prepared for the long trip back home with Worthen. The Los Angeles Police released Worthen on Wednesday.

Worthen was released to Camden Police Officers on Wednesday at 11am. Officer who made the trip were Sergeant Kyle McDaniel, Officer Nathan Clayton, Officer Newkirk and Officer Deon Tyson They drove non-stop to arrive back in Camden about 3 this afternoon.

Worthen was taken into the Camden Police Department in shackles to be processed before being taken to the Ouachita County Detention Center. He will have first appearance in front of Judge Ham Singleton tomorrow (Friday, October 16th) at 1:00 pm.

After Worthen was taken into the station, Police Chief Bo Woody said that it had been a long road. Alyssa’s mother, Angela, said it had destroyed her physically and mentally. She expressed gratitude to Chief Woody. Lieutenant LaRhonda Moore and to the US Marshall’s. She also expressed gratitude to everyone who had prayed for her.

After the killings, Worthen fled the scene in Cannon’s vehicle. The car was found abandoned in a parking lot in Seattle, Washington, but there was no sign of Worthen.

Woody said that after authorities issued a warrant for Worthen’s arrest on June 25, 2019, investigators received countless tips of possible sightings across the United States. The case was on “In Pursuit with John Walsh”. Worthen was added to the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted list in late July. Some information even suggested that Worthen might be dead, but Chief Woody said the police department was determined to keep the case active.

Worthen was found living under the alias “Ronald Kleigler, at a Burbank motel more than sixteen months after the horrific crime. Worthen had been living in the area for about 5 months. US Marshall’s apprehended him on Monday, October 5th.

Marshall’s recovered some personal effects from Worthen’s motel room, including a cell phone, which could provide some clues about Worthen’s activities in the months since he first disappeared. It is suspected that someone was helping him.

Montez Charles-Xavier Woods, 23, was also charged with hindering apprehension in the case after admitting to meeting Worthen four days after the murders and giving him $400. He was given a five-year suspended sentence for his role in January.
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 15, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 307
Confirmed Cases: 298
Probable Cases: 9
Total Active Cases: 27
Active Confirmed Cases: 27
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 273
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 264
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1028
Confirmed Cases: 949
Probable Cases: 79
Total Active Cases: 37
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 16
Total Recovered Cases: 944
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 886
Recovered Probable Cases: 58
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 622
Confirmed Cases: 559
Probable Cases: 63
Total Active Cases: 45
Active Confirmed Cases: 45
Active Probable Cases: 8
Total Recovered Cases: 550
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 495
Recovered Probable Cases: 55
Total Deaths: 19
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 178
Confirmed Cases: 176
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 8
Active Confirmed Cases: 8
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 163
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 163
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 39
Confirmed Cases: 38
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 3
Active Confirmed Cases: 3
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 36
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 35
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas

Total COVID-19 Cases: 95,246
Confirmed Cases: 90,235
Probable Cases: 5,011
Recovered Cases: 85,597

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS, DIVISION OF AGRICULTURE COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE OFFERS TRAINING
The University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service will be conducting training for Private Applicators needing certification or recertification of their license. The training will be held Monday, November 9, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Ouachita County Cooperative Extension Office, 2760 Mt. Holly Road.  For more information, contact Keri Weatherford at 870-231-1160 or by email at kweatherford@uaex.edu.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your Ouachita County Extension Office as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

CENTRAL ARKANSAS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL TO MEET
The Board of Directors of Central Arkansas Development Council will have a board meeting Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 9:00 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.

LIGHT FOR THE FIGHT TO HAVE VIRTUAL CEREMONY ON OCT. 1
MAGNOLIA – The Business Student Advisory Council at the Rankin College of Business at Southern Arkansas University is sponsoring its eighth annual Light for the Fight during the month of October. Light for the Fight honors those who have battled, or continue to battle, cancer by placing luminaries in Blanchard Hall on the SAU campus. Because of concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, the ceremony will be slightly different this year.

Luminaries are available for purchase in honor and in memory of friends and family members affected by cancer. Light pink luminaries will be in memory of our friends and family members who had breast cancer, dark pink luminaries are for breast cancer survivors or current fighters, and purple luminaries are for those affected by other types of cancer.

The luminaries will then be on display throughout the month of October in the Blanchard Hall business building.

A virtual lighting ceremony will be broadcast from Blanchard Hall at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. Participants can join this ceremony via zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83656616270.  The luminaries are $5 each and can be purchased by visiting https://web.saumag.edu/business/light-for-the-fight/. Luminaries purchased by Oct. 15 will be included in the ceremony.

“This ceremony is a way to honor all of those who have battled cancer, as well as for the survivors of those who have been lost to cancer, said Dr. Robin Sronce, dean of the Rankin College of Business. “This is a great community project that our students have taken on.”

This Light for the Fight ceremony began when business students wanted to do something to honor Tammie Green, the wife of current business professor Dr. Ken Green.

Proceeds from the sale of the luminaries will go to the Steel Magnolias’ Breast Cancer Support Group in Magnolia.

BOOZMAN URGES SECRETARY OF HEALTH TO REEVALUATE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS FOR RURAL HOSPITALS
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of senators in raising concerns with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar about changes in reporting requirements for health care providers that received support from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF), which have the potential to create financial hardships and uncertainty for hospitals across the country, especially those operating in rural areas.  
“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our health care providers need more certainty, not less. The CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, established the PRF to reimburse eligible health care providers for health care-related expenses and lost revenues attributable to the coronavirus. Hospitals and other providers received funds and have budgeted accordingly,” the senators wrote. “However, we are still in the midst of a pandemic and providers continue to face uncertainty in terms of loss of revenue from delayed procedures and care as well as increased expenses related to COVID-19.” 

 

The letter was led by Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and in addition to Boozman was cosigned by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), David Perdue (R-GA), James Risch (R-ID), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), John Thune (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

Text of the full letter is below.

Dear Secretary Azar:
We write today with concern regarding the Post-Payment Notice of Reporting Requirements published on September 19, 2020. We have grave concerns this change in reporting requirements for funds received from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) will create uncertainty and financial hardship for hospitals in our states, particularly in rural areas. In the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, our health care providers need more certainty, not less. 
The CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, established the PRF to reimburse eligible health care providers for health care-related expenses and lost revenues attributable to the coronavirus. Hospitals and other providers received funds and have budgeted accordingly. However, we are still in the midst of a pandemic and providers continue to face uncertainty in terms of loss of revenue from delayed procedures and care as well as increased expenses related to COVID 19. 
Based upon the impact of these changes to access to health care, we urge you to carefully consider any policies that disproportionately affect rural and safety net hospitals. 

 

October 14, 2020

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in Regular Session last night, Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Social distancing was practiced and face coverings were required.

Mayor Julian Lott call the meeting to order promptly at 7:00 pm. The invocation was given by Rev. Gentry Hill, Pastor of the First Baptist Church located at 348 W. Washington St. in Camden, AR. Following the Invocation was the Pledge of Allegiance. It is worth noting that Alderman Joe Askew did not take part in the pledge. He stood with his head bowed and his back to the flag.

City Clerk, Donna Stewart called the roll. Marvin Moore was not at the meeting.

The Minutes and Financial reports were approved by the Council.

Mayor’s Report included the resignation from Alderman Chip Simmons that was effective September. He said he was relocating. A person will be appointed to finish the term. By the time the November meeting comes around someone will have been elected for the Position. It was suggested that that person be appointed.

The Mayor went on to talk about Parks. There have been improvements at the parks and stated everyone should go look at the parks and see the improvements. There are more plans for improving the Parks. He asked the Community to pitch in and help with the improvements to the city. If you’re willing to help, call City Hall.

After the Mayor’s report it was time for old business. It was noted that all Old Business is up for the Second Reading
Resolution No. 21-20, a resolution requiring certain materials to be posted on the City Website. A motion was made and seconded to approve followed by a discussion. Alderman Askew asked who would do the work. Alderman James Bell explained that he and the Mayor had decided. The person doing the work had already trained.  L.E Lindsey asked if there was anymore software that will be needed.  Alderman Bell said that there would not be. The Resolution was tabled until next month.

Ordinance No. 17-20, an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 19-86 (Camden Code Section 2-97.2) amending Ordinance 19-26 regarding the Airport Commission and for other purposes. Motion was made and seconded to suspend the rules and put it up for a final reading. Five Aldermen voted yes. Alderman Askew abstained. 6 votes were needed to pass the motion so with only 5 yesses the motion failed and the Ordinance will be on next month’s agenda for a third and final reading.

Ordinance No. 18-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 526 Hawkins Street.
Ordinance No. 20-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 485 Hawkins Street.
Ordinance No. 21-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 474 California Avenue.
Ordinance No. 22-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 440 Maple Street SW.
Ordinance No. 23-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 419 Maple Street SW.
Ordinance No. 24-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 407 North Street.
Ordinance No. 26-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 536 Cleveland Ave. NW.
Ordinance No. 27-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 578 Cleveland Ave. NW.
Ordinance No. 29-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1041 Elm Street.
Ordinance No. 30-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1333 Ronald Drive.
Ordinance No. 31-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1440 Ronald Drive.
Ordinance No. 32-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 2157 Avon Avenue.
Ordinance No. 34-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 687 Agee Avenue NW.
Motion was made to suspend the rules put each one up for a third reading, Motion passed in all cases. There was no discussion on any of the Ordinances. Roll call vote was called for each Ordinance. All passed.
 
NEW BUSINESS
Ordinance No. 35-20, an ordinance fixing the rate of taxation for the year 2021; Declaring an emergency; and for other purposes. Motion was made to suspend the rules put the Ordinance up for a third reading. Motion passed.

Ordinance No. 36-20, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 01-11 assessing a lien on certain property located at 618 Cleveland Ave. NW. Motion was made to suspend the rules put the Ordinance up for a third reading. Motion passed. Ordinance passed.

Ordinance No. 37-20, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 02-11 assessing a lien on certain property located at 622 Cleveland Ave. NW. Motion was made to suspend the rules put the Ordinance up for a third reading. Motion passed. Ordinance passed.

Ordinance No. 40-20, an ordinance to amend the Camden Zoning Ordinance in order to define uses in certain residential zones. Motion was made to suspend the rules put the Ordinance up for a third reading. Motion passed. Ordinance passed.

Resolution No. 26-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to pay an end of year bonus to City employees, including the City Clerk, City Attorney, Judge and Mayor.
Motion was made and seconded. There was a discussion. Alderman Linsey questioned how much the bonuses would cost the City. The amount comes to $29,000.00. City Treasurer Jim Green explained how it would be paid and where it would come from. The Resolution passed.

Resolution No. 27-20, a resolution confirming the appointment of Travis Daniel to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments. Motion was made to suspend the rules put the Ordinance up for a third reading. Motion passed. Ordinance passed.

Resolution No. 28-20, a resolution confirming the re-appointment of Ben Wooten to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments. Motion was made to suspend the rules put the Ordinance up for a third reading. Motion passed. Ordinance passed.

Resolution No. 29-20, a resolution confirming the appointment of Wendell Parr to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments. Motion was made to suspend the rules put the Ordinance up for a third reading. Motion passed. Ordinance passed.

Resolution No. 30-20, a resolution confirming the appointment of Katie Drake to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments. Motion was made to suspend the rules put the Ordinance up for a third reading. Motion passed. Ordinance passed.

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 14, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 301
Confirmed Cases: 292
Probable Cases: 9
Total Active Cases: 26
Active Confirmed Cases: 25
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 268
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 260
Recovered Probable Cases: 8
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1024
Confirmed Cases: 948
Probable Cases: 76
Total Active Cases: 44
Active Confirmed Cases: 30
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 933
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 876
Recovered Probable Cases: 57
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 619
Confirmed Cases: 556
Probable Cases: 63
Total Active Cases: 65
Active Confirmed Cases: 54
Active Probable Cases: 11
Total Recovered Cases: 535
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 483
Recovered Probable Cases: 52
Total Deaths: 19
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 177
Confirmed Cases: 175
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 8
Active Confirmed Cases: 8
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 164
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 162
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 39
Confirmed Cases: 38
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 3
Active Confirmed Cases: 3
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 36
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 35
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 94,167
Confirmed Cases: 89,351
Probable Cases: 4816
Recovered Cases: 84,804

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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


NOT YOUR AVERAGE HOMECOMING’ TO BE HOSTED BY SAU
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University will celebrate its 2020 homecoming October 19-24, but it will look a bit different than years past.  The University has tagged this year’s festivities “Not Your Average Homecoming” because of the need to celebrate within the current COVID boundaries.

“The obvious difference is there won’t be a football game,” said Steve Browning, director of athletics. “We’ve won 12 straight homecoming games and 13 of our past 14. So to not have an opportunity to potentially add to that impressive streak is disappointing, but we are still excited to be able to celebrate homecoming. With all of the virtual events and interactions that the university has planned with students and alumni, it is definitely something to look forward to.”

Most of the events planned for the week are virtual or require specific times for small group participation, but many of the Mulerider homecoming traditions will continue this year, just in a different format.

The homecoming court will be announced later this week with the Homecoming Queen and King being crowned at a coronation event to be live-streamed on Thursday evening, October 22. Students will also be able to participate in street painting, a drive-in movie and the traditional Muleshoe Hunt.

A full week of activities is also planned for SAU Alumni.

“We look forward to homecoming each year because it brings so many alumni to campus,” said Megan McCurdy, director of alumni relations. “This year is not your average homecoming. However, we have planned several fun events this year that our alumni can enjoy from home, since we cannot gather in person.”

McCurdy explained alumni can participate in the shoebox homecoming float competition, join a Facebook Live update with Dr. Berry, compete in a virtual trivia night as well as be a part of the annual Golden Rider Reunion, which honors SAU Alumni on the 50th anniversary of their graduation.

“The Class of 1970 will be celebrated this year during a special Zoom gathering,” McCurdy explained. “I wish we could celebrate with our traditional brunch at the Alumni Center, but connecting this way will give us an opportunity to see fellow Muleriders who may not have been able to join us on campus.”

In conjunction with homecoming week, SAU’s Mulerider Club is hosting an invitational golf tournament, sponsored by Murphy USA. The event will be held Friday, October 23, at Mystic Creek Golf Club in El Dorado. SAU’s rodeo will also take place during the homecoming festivities. It will be held October 22-24 at Story Arena.

“COVID has altered so much of what we have been able to do on campus this semester,” said Dr. Trey Berry, SAU president. “But, we wanted to still be able to have homecoming with our students and alumni, so we have found different ways to celebrate. It is certainly not your average homecoming, but it will be one we all remember!”

For information on all of the events scheduled for SAU’s Homecoming Week, visit https://web.saumag.edu/homecoming/. Please note that participation in most events will be virtual or under specific social-distancing guidelines.

CITY OF CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION MEETING
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, October 16, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. The Commission will meet at the Army Reserve building first. After a walk through the building.

 

SOCIAL SECURITY ANNOUNCES 1.3 PERCENT BENEFIT INCREASE FOR 2021
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent in 2021, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2021.  Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2020.  (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits).  The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages.  Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $142,800 from $137,700. 

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount.  Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account.  People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.    

Information about Medicare changes for 2021, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov.  For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2021 are announced.  Final 2021 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated.  To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: STATEWIDE DRUG TAKE BACK DAY SCHEDULED FOR OCTOBER 24
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is encouraging Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets and bring any unused or expired medications to one of the State’s more than 250 Prescription Drug Take Back Day drop-off locations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 24.

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

Prescription Drug Take Back Day is held semi-annually with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, DEA, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers.

Event sites are held at various locations across the State but year-round locations are also available and can be found at ARTakeBack.org. The Attorney General’s office also hosts take back events at mobile offices around the State. Since the program began, more than 72 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is an estimated 201 million individual pills.

 

October 13, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S WEEKLY COVID UPDATE
Gov. Asa Hutchinson held a relatively brief weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday to announce the state's latest figures and guidelines. 

During the press conference Hutchinson reported an additional 680 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours. That raises the state's cumulative total to 94,167 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths increased by 24 to a statewide total of 1,610. The number of Arkansans hospitalized due to COVID-19 saw its first decrease in over a week, dropping by a net of three to 605. This figure is still the highest level of hospitalizations since the outbreak began.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, an infectious disease control specialist with the Arkansas Department of Health, again encouraged all Arkansans to get their flu vaccination this year. Besides limiting the severity of the flu or even one's change of catching it, the vaccine will help minimize the number of Arkansans hospitalized for influenza. This is especially critical, Dr. Dillaha said, given the high number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations.

Hutchinson then highlighted the efforts of Arkansas businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19 by following state health guidelines. He also encouraged Arkansans to go out of their way to patronize businesses which are following these guidelines. 


COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 13, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 301
Confirmed Cases: 292
Probable Cases: 9
Total Active Cases: 29
Active Confirmed Cases: 28
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 265
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 257
Recovered Probable Cases: 8
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1010
Confirmed Cases: 936
Probable Cases: 74
Total Active Cases: 45
Active Confirmed Cases: 28
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 918
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 866
Recovered Probable Cases: 52
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 619
Confirmed Cases: 555
Probable Cases: 64
Total Active Cases: 71
Active Confirmed Cases: 59
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 530
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 478
Recovered Probable Cases: 52
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 175
Confirmed Cases: 173
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 164
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 162
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 39
Confirmed Cases: 38
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 3
Active Confirmed Cases: 3
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 36
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 35
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

HARMONY GROVE HIGH SCHOOL BLOOD DRIVE
Sponsored by The National Honor Society
The Harmony Grove National Honor Society is sponsoring a Blood Drive this Friday, October 16TH from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Arena Foyer. Donate 6 times for the Honor Cord, Community Service Award and Seniors for the chance to win a $250 Scholarship.

 All donations will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies to identify potential convalescent plasma donors. Appointment needed to participate. Masks required for all donors.

Donors ages 16 or 17-years old need parental consent to be screened for COVID-19 antibodies and are not eligible to donate convalescent plasma. This test has not been FDA cleared or approved. It has been authorized by the FDA under an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) for use by authorized laboratories. The test has been authorized only for the detection of the IgG antibody against SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens. Blood drives will be

managed according to CDC safety recommendations. Test results will be made available post-donation.

We are accepting parents and community members to come to the Arena Foyer and donate blood! Schedule your appointment with Mrs. Sorrells, Counselor by calling 574-0656.

You can also "vote" for the senior of your choice to receive a $250 scholarship from the AR Blood Institute. Plus, you get a "Natural State of Mind" t-shirt!!

At least 25 donors are needed each blood drive to get THREE $250 scholarships for the Class of 2021 (this includes both HG and Sparkman seniors)
 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, October 15th at Catherine's Bistro @12:00 PM. The program will be by Barbie Quarles Topic who will be discussing Domestic Violence Awareness Month

 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.

2020 ARKANSAS STATE FAIR SCHEDULE RELEASED 
Junior Livestock, pageants, talent slated over 10 days at State Fairgrounds 
 LITTLE ROCK (Oct. 13, 2020) -- The 2020 Arkansas State Fair will soon welcome livestock, talent and pageant competitors from across the state for 10 days of competition. The Arkansas State Fair Board announced earlier this year that aside from these two attractions, the 2020 event was being cancelled out of an abundance of caution over public health issues related to the coronavirus. 

“I think it is safe to say that the 2020 State Fair is the most unique in the event’s long history,” said Doug White, Arkansas State Fair president. “Despite the unconventional nature of this year’s Arkansas State Fair, we are very pleased to host the Junior Livestock Show, State Fair Pageant and Talent competitions and their participants.”

Competitors qualified for the State Fair field at county and/or regional events. In the case of pageants and talent, many also had a virtual component to their 2020 State Fair competition experience.

“Our number one priority is to put public health and safety above all other considerations,” White said. “We have implemented stringent safeguards and protocols for these events, including social distancing, wearing masks, limiting attendees and spacing of events to allow for thorough cleaning of required buildings.” 

State Fair administration has developed an extensive logistics plan to limit the number of people and animals on the grounds at any given time. Attendance by the general public is not allowed and competitors’ family members are limited in number to help maintain social distancing. Masks are required in all areas and strict cleanliness in barns and competition areas will be observed.

The 2020 Arkansas State Fair runs Oct. 14-24 at the State Fairgrounds in Little Rock. 

JUNIOR LIVESTOCK SHOW JUDGING SCHEDULE 
2020 Arkansas State Fair            
Thursday, Oct. 15 
9 am                     Lamb Showmanship (Market & Wether Dam)                     Swine Barn 
1 pm                     Jr. Wether Dam Lambs                                                             Swine Barn 
3:30 pm               Arkansas Bred Lambs                                                                Swine Barn 

Friday, Oct. 16
9 am                     Market Lambs                                                                            Swine Barn 
                             Jr. Boer Goats followed by Showmanship                             Goat Center 
2:30 pm               Jr. Beef Showmanship                                                               Equestrian Center 
5 pm                    Bred & Owned Jr. Breeding Beef                                            Equestrian Center 

Saturday, Oct. 17  
9 am                     Jr. Non-Brahman Influenced Breeding Cattle                         Equestrian Center 

Supreme Drives                                             
10:30am              Jr. Broilers/Commercial Poultry                                                Poultry Barn 
1 pm                    Goat Showmanship (Market & Wether Dam)                      Swine Barn 
3:30 pm               Jr. Wether Dam Goats                                                               Swine Barn 
6 pm                    Arkansas Bred Wethers                                                                           Swine Barn 

Sunday, Oct. 18 
8 am                     Market Goats                                                                             Swine Barn 

Monday, Oct. 19 
8 am                     Jr. Breeding Sheep followed by Showmanship                    Goat Center 
2:30 pm               Market Hog Showmanship                                                      Swine Barn 

Tuesday, Oct. 20 
8 am                     Market Breed Hogs
                            Lightweight Crossbred Market Hogs                                        Swine Barn 
4 pm                    Steer and Commercial Heifer Showmanship (combined)   Equestrian Center 

 Wednesday, Oct. 21 
9 am                     Commercial Heifers                                                                   Equestrian Center 
1:30 pm               Market Steers                                                                             Equestrian Center 
4 pm                    Market Hog Showmanship                                                       Swine Barn 

 2020 Junior Livestock Show 
Thursday, Oct. 22 
8 am                     Crossbred Market Hogs (231-280 lbs)                                   Swine Barn 
2 pm                    Jr. Market Rabbits                                                                      Rabbit Barn 

Friday, Oct. 23 
8:30 am               Jr. Poultry                                                                                   Poultry Barn 
                            Youth Dairy Goats & Showmanship                                       Goat Center 
9 am                     Jr. Exhibition Breed Rabbits                                                      Rabbit Barn 
                            (State Fair Junior Show followed by ARBA Junior Point Show) 
10 am                  Poultry Showmanship                                                                Poultry Barn 
4 pm                    Jr. Beef Showmanship                                                                Equestrian Center 
5:30 pm*             Bred & Owned Jr. Breeding Beef                                               Equestrian Center 
 *Or, 30 minutes after conclusion of Jr. Beef Showmanship    

Saturday, Oct. 24 
8 am                     Breeding Swine Showmanship                                                 Swine Barn 
                             Breeding Gilt Show                                                                                     
                            (Jr. Purebreds/Commercial Gilts/Supreme Champion Drive)  
9 am                     Brahman Influenced Breeding Beef/Supreme Drives           Equestrian Center  
4 pm*                  Dairy Cattle (Ring A and Ring B)                                                 Equestrian Center 
                             Supreme Champion Drive
                            Jr. Dairy Cattle Showmanship 
*Or, immediately following Breeding Beef show                                                        


SURVEY: SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM IMPROVES IN SEPTEMBER; UNCERTAINTY INDEX REMAINS HIGH 
LITTLE ROCK (Oct. 13, 2020) – The NFIB Optimism Index rose 3.8 points to 104.0 in September, a historically high reading. Nine of the 10 Index components improved and one declined. The NFIB Uncertainty Index increased 2 points to 92, up from 75 in April. 

“As parts of the country continue to open, small businesses are seeing some improvements in foot traffic and sales,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “However, some small businesses are still struggling financially to operate at full capacity while navigating state and local regulations and are uncertain about what will happen in the future.” 

State-specific data isn’t available, but NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, “This has been a rough year for Arkansas’ small businesses, but, hopefully, the worst is behind us, and things will get back to normal sooner rather than later.”

Other key findings include: 
Earnings trends over the past 3 months improved 13 points to a net negative 12% reporting higher earnings. 
Owners expecting better business conditions over the next 6 months improved 8 points to a net 32%. 
Real sales expectations in the next 3 months increased 5 points to a net 8%. 
Inventory investment plans over the next 3 to 6 months increased by 5 points to a net 11%. 
The percent of owners thinking it’s a good time to expand increased 1 point to 13%. 

Included in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, a net 23% (seasonally adjusted) of owners plan to create new jobs in the next 3 months, up 2 points from the August report and 22 points above April’s report. However, 36% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings that they could not fill in the current period. 

Fifty-three percent of owners reported capital outlays in the last 6 months, up 6 points from August. Of those making expenditures, 38% reported spending on new equipment (up 4 points), 23% acquired vehicles (up 2 points), and 16% improved or expanded facilities (down 4 points). Four percent acquired a new building or land for expansion (down 2 points) and 8% spent money on new fixtures and furniture (down 1 point). 

A net negative 6% of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, an improvement of 9 points from August but still below pre-crisis levels. The net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes increased 5 points to a net 8% of owners. 

The net percent of owners reporting inventory increases rose 2 points to a net negative 7%, showing that more firms are reporting falling inventories than seeing stocks building. The net percent of owners viewing current inventory stocks as “too low” rose 2 points to 5%. Owners planning to expand inventory holdings increased 5 points from August to a net 11%, the highest reading since November 2004.   

The net percent of owners raising average selling prices rose 12 points to a net 13% (seasonally adjusted). Eleven percent of owners reported lower average selling prices and 23% reported higher average prices. Price hikes were the most frequent in wholesale (27% higher, 10% lower) and retail (27% higher, 7% lower). A net 17% (seasonally adjusted) plan price hikes. 

A net 23% (seasonally adjusted) reported raising compensation, up 5 points from August. A net 16% of owners are planning to do so in the next three months. Nine percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem. 

Twenty-one percent of owners cited “finding qualified labor” as their top business problem. Thirty percent in construction report finding qualified labor as their top issue and slowing new home production.  

The frequency of reports of positive profit trends rose 13 points to a net negative 12% reporting quarter on quarter profit improvement. Among owners reporting weaker profits, 51% blamed weak sales, 9% cited lower prices, 6% cited usual seasonal change, and 5% cited labor costs. For owners reporting higher profits, 73% credited sales volumes and 12% cited usual seasonal change. 

Two percent of employers reported that all their borrowing needs were not satisfied, down one point. Thirty-three percent reported that all credit needs were met (up 2 points) and 55% said they were not interested in a loan. A net 2% reported their last loan was harder to obtain than in previous attempts. One percent of owners reported that financing was their top business problem. The net percent of owners reporting paying a higher rate on their most recent loan was negative 10%. Twenty-six percent of owners reported borrowing on a regular basis.  

Click here to view the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Survey.   

About the Small Business Economic Trends   

The NFIB Research Center has collected Small Business Economic Trends data with quarterly surveys since the 4th quarter of 1973 and monthly surveys since 1986. Survey respondents are drawn from a random sample of NFIB’s membership. The report is released on the second Tuesday of each month. This survey was conducted in September 2020. For more information about NFIB, please visit NFIB.com.   
 

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OF ARKANSAS CREWS ASSIST IN HURRICANE DELTA RECOVERY
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas have dispatched 93 linemen and equipment to assist with power restoration efforts at Beauregard Electric Cooperative (BECi) of DeRidder, La.

BECi once again sustained substantial damage to its infrastructure as a result of Hurricane Delta that swept through southwest Louisiana on Friday evening. As of 10:00 p.m. Friday night, BECi lost power to all 43,000 meters, an event seen for the third time in its more than 80-year history including Hurricanes Rita in 2005, Hurricane Laura just six weeks ago and now with Delta. The Hurricane Laura power restoration effort involved 1,200 lineworkers working for 36 days.

Line crews from other states, including Arkansas are either at BECi or on their way to assist with the current restoration effort. BECi anticipates that its substations will be energized by Wednesday, Oct. 14. Transmission lines from one substation received damage and will have to be repaired using special off-road equipment and air boats. Linemen have begun to assess and make repairs to service and tap lines – a level of restoration not seen until week two of Hurricane Laura power restoration. Hurricane Delta did not inflict the same level of devastation to BECi’s distribution infrastructure and did not destroy as much of the cooperative’s three-phase lines.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas crews include personnel from Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative of Ozark, C&L Electric of Star City, Craighead Electric of Jonesboro, First Electric of Jacksonville, Petit Jean Electric of Clinton and Southwest Arkansas Electric of Texarkana.

UAMS TO PROVIDE COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING
October 20th in Prescott
LITTLE ROCK – Drive-up testing for COVID-19 will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., October 20th at the Nevada County Fire Department, 113 E. Walnut St., in Prescott. There will be no out-of-pocket cost for testing. Up to 200 community members will be tested. 

The testing will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in cooperation with the Nevada County Rescue, Nevada County Fire Department, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, the Blue and You Foundation and Bank of America Foundation. Flu vaccinations will also be available at the drive-up at no cost to the patient for those receiving a COVID-19 test.

You do not have to be a UAMS patient to be seen. This testing is for everyone who feels they need testing. Patients will get instructions on how to take care of themselves and their family at home. Test results will be returned either through an online patient portal, letter or phone call.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people not in your household, and wear a mask in public. An online screening tool is available at uamshealth.com/healthnow. Phone screening is available through the UAMS Health hotline at 800-632-4502.

 UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — COPD, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
 

October 12, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 12, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 293
Confirmed Cases: 284
Probable Cases: 9
Total Active Cases: 23
Active Confirmed Cases: 22
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 263
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 265
Recovered Probable Cases: 8
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1009
Confirmed Cases: 935
Probable Cases: 74
Total Active Cases: 51
Active Confirmed Cases: 30
Active Probable Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 911
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 863
Recovered Probable Cases: 48
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 612
Confirmed Cases: 549
Probable Cases: 63
Total Active Cases: 68
Active Confirmed Cases: 56
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 526
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 475
Recovered Probable Cases: 54
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 174
Confirmed Cases: 172
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 5
Active Confirmed Cases: 5
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 164
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 162
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 39
Confirmed Cases: 38
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 3
Active Confirmed Cases: 3
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 36
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 35
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 92,833
Confirmed Cases: 88,302
Probable Cases: 4531
Recovered Cases: 83,454

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Social distancing will be practiced and a face covering will be required.

The Agenda is as follows:
A.    CALL TO ORDER
B.    INVOCATION –Rev. Gentry Hill, Pastor – First Baptist Church, 348 W. Washington St., Camden, AR

C.    PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
D.    ROLL CALL
E.    APPROVAL OF MINUTES
       1.  Minutes of Regular Meeting September 8, 2020     
F.    ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORT
       1.  Financial Report for September 2020
G.    AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
H.    MAYOR’S REPORT    
I.    OLD BUSINESS -Note*All Old Business is up for the Second Reading
       1.  Resolution No. 21-20, a resolution requiring certain materials to be posted on the City Website.
       2.   Ordinance No. 17-20, an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 19-86 (Camden Code Section 2-97.2) regarding the Airport Commission; and for other purposes. 
       3.   Ordinance No. 18-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 526 Hawkins Street.
       4.   Ordinance No. 20-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 485 Hawkins Street.
       5.   Ordinance No. 21-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 474 California Avenue.
       6.   Ordinance No. 22-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 440 Maple Street SW.
       7.   Ordinance No. 23-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 419 Maple Street SW.
       8.   Ordinance No. 24-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 407 North Street.
       9.   Ordinance No. 26-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 536 Cleveland Ave. NW.
      10.   Ordinance No. 27-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 578 Cleveland Ave. NW.
      11.   Ordinance No. 29-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1041 Elm Street.
      12.   Ordinance No. 30-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1333 Ronald Drive.
      13.   Ordinance No. 31-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1440 Ronald Drive.
      14.   Ordinance No. 32-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 2157 Avon Avenue.
      15.   Ordinance No. 34-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 687 Agee Avenue NW.

J.   NEW BUSINESS
      1.   Ordinance No. 35-20, an ordinance fixing the rate of taxation for the year 2021; Declaring an emergency; and for other purposes.  
      2.   Ordinance No. 36-20, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 01-11 assessing a lien on certain property located at 618 Cleveland Ave. NW.
      3.   Ordinance No. 37-20, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 02-11 assessing a lien on certain property located at  622 Cleveland Ave. NW.
      4.   Ordinance No. 40-20, an ordinance to amend the Camden Zoning Ordinance in order to define uses in certain residential zones.
      5.   Resolution No. 26-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to pay an end of year bonus to City employees, including the City Clerk, City Attorney, Judge and Mayor.
      6.   Resolution No. 27-20, a resolution confirming the appointment of Travis Daniel to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments
      7.   Resolution No. 28-20, a resolution confirming the re-appointment of Ben Wooten to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments.
      8.   Resolution No. 29-20, a resolution confirming the appointment of Wendell Parr to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments.
      9.   Resolution No. 30-20, a resolution confirming the appointment of Katie Drake to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments.

   K.    OTHER BUSINESS

   L.    ADJOURNMENT
 

LEADER OF DRUG TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON
Defendant one of 25 individuals sentenced for their role in a drug conspiracy involving fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine
Fayetteville, Arkansas – On Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, Marion Wise of Cave Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced to 25 years in prison conspiracy to distribute heroin. Wise is the final of 25 individuals responsible for a wide-ranging drug conspiracy to be sentenced.

David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and Brad L. Byerley, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, announced today that  all 25 individuals have now been sentenced by the United States District Court for their roles in a heroin and methamphetamine trafficking ring that operated in Benton and Washington Counties in Arkansas and also in the additional jurisdictions of California, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona and Mexico.  The investigation and prosecution of this operation began mid-2018 through the October 6, 2020 sentencing. The Honorable Judge Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearings in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

“Heroin and fentanyl drug use has reached epidemic proportions in many communities across the United States.  These drugs are terribly addictive and extremely dangerous.  The overdose deaths investigated in this operation are proof of how deadly these drugs are.  This case is an excellent example of our plan to keep the trafficking of these drugs from causing even more deaths and even more damage to our communities in Northwest Arkansas.  We will continue to focus our Federal Criminal Resources to investigate, convict, and obtain lengthy sentences for all those who would seek to import and distribute these deadly drugs into the Western District of Arkansas,” said First Assistant US Attorney David Clay Fowlkes.       

 “Nothing is more important than keeping our communities safe. DEA, along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, will continue to utilize our combined resources to target individuals trafficking drugs and guns, threatening the safety of our citizens in this region of Arkansas and throughout the country. These convictions send a message of our unending resolve to pursue drug traffickers who wreak havoc in our communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley.

Federal grand juries returned multi-count indictments against 25 individuals in the Northwest Arkansas area and beyond for their roles in a large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy.  This drug trafficking ring imported multiple kilograms of heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl into the Northwest Arkansas area from out of state for local distribution.  Once sold to retail distributors, the heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl were distributed in communities throughout Northwest Arkansas. Two heroin/fentanyl related overdose deaths were tied to the investigation.

Defendants in this conspiracy received the following sentences:
Marion Wise, 50, of Cave Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced Oct. 6, 2020, to 25 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin. Wise was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty to an information in Feb. 2020. 

Sherry Finn, 44, of Bella Vista, Arkansas, was sentenced Oct. 6, 2020, to 77 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin. Finn was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty to an information in Feb. 2020

Michael Wells, 49, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was sentenced May 20, 2020, to 68 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin. Wells was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Nov. 6, 2019.

Ari Sorto, 28, of Springdale, Arkansas, was sentenced May 19, 2020, to eight years in federal prison followed by one year of supervised release on two counts of Knowingly Using a Communication Facility in a Drug Trafficking Crime. Sorto was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Jan. 7, 2020.

Cole Coleman, 29, of Bentonville, Arkansas, was sentenced April 17, 2020, to 87 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin. Coleman was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Nov. 22, 2019. 

Blaine Dehosse, 33, of Rogers, Arkansas, was sentenced April 17, 2020, to 106 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin and one count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Offense. Dehosse was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Jan. 23, 2020.

Jonathan Hannah, 35, of Rogers, Arkansas, was sentenced Feb. 13, 2020, to 54 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Maintaining Drug-Involved Premises. Hannah was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in and plead guilty on Sept. 26, 2019.  

Stephanie Coleman, 47, of Bentonville, Arkansas, was sentenced Jan. 29, 2020, to 18 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin. Coleman was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Nov. 22, 2019. 

Kourtney Wilson, 31, of Joplin, Missouri, was sentenced Jan. 29, 2020, to one year in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of Heroin. Wilson was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Oct. 22, 2019.

Robert Johnston, 54, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was sentenced Jan. 29, 2020, to 46 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin. Johnston was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Oct. 25, 2019. 

Jennie Nutt, 59, of Rogers, Arkansas, was sentenced Jan. 28, 2020, to three years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin. Nutt was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Oct. 23, 2019.          

Adrian Oviedo, 36, of Springdale, Arkansas, was sentenced Sept. 18, 2019, to 330 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count each of Aiding and Abetting in the Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Felon in Possession of a firearm.  Oviedo was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on July 9, 2019.  

Brenda Martinez-Blevins, 48, of Springdale, Arkansas, was sentenced Aug. 22, 2019, to one year in federal prison on one count of Failure to Depart. Martinez-Blevins was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on May 3, 2019.                   

 Vernon Williams, 53, of Watts, Oklahoma, was sentenced Aug. 14, 2019, to 248 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of More Than 50 Grams of Actual Methamphetamine. Williams was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Mar. 12, 2019. 

Gabriel Whitener, 36, of Watts, Oklahoma, was sentenced Aug. 14, 2019, to 210 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances. Whitener was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Mar. 12, 2019. 

Aaron Bevill, 38, of Gravette, Arkansas, was sentenced Aug. 13, 2019, to 142 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances. Bevill was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Mar. 12, 2019.

 Gregory Jobe, 32, of Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced July 31, 2019, to 15 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of Heroin. Jobe was previously indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Mar. 4, 2019. 

Connie Sherrell, 56, of Watts, Oklahoma, was sentenced June 10, 2019, to 62 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances. Sherrell was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Feb. 19, 2019.             

Harold Campbell, 36, of Rogers, Arkansas, was sentenced June 10, 2019, to 37 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin. Campbell was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Nov. 8, 2018.                               

Tyler Dellinger, 29, of Bella Vista, Arkansas, was sentenced May 11, 2020, to 13 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance and one count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. Dellinger was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Feb. 4, 2020.

Matthew Woodrome, 38, of Rogers, Arkansas, was sentenced May 8, 2019, to seven years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin. Woodrome was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Nov. 8, 2018.

Robert Peeler, 31, of Rogers, Arkansas, was sentenced April 19, 2019, to 27 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin. Peeler was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Dec. 7, 2018.

David Moore, 32, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was sentenced April 4, 2019, to 46 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin. Moore was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Nov. 15, 2018.

David Garduno, 35, of Rogers, Arkansas, was sentenced April 2, 2019, to 51 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of Heroin. Garduno was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Nov. 7, 2018.

John Botson, 27, of Garfield, Arkansas, was sentenced March 5, 2019, to 157 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin. Botson was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas and plead guilty on Nov. 7, 2018.  

This prosecution was part of the Western District of Arkansas’ Operation Sticking Points, which is part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. The OCDETF program is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illicit drug supply.

This OCDETF case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Benton County/Rogers PD Narcotic Unit, the 4th JDDTF, Arkansas State Probation and Parole and the Arkansas National Guard Counter-Drug Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Kimberly Harris, Dustin Roberts and David Harris prosecuted the cases for the Western District of Arkansas.
 

SAU TO OFFER BFA IN ART THERAPY IN SPRING 2021
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University will begin offering a bachelor of fine arts degree in art therapy with a concentration in pre-art therapy in spring 2021.  The 120-credit hour undergraduate program was recently approved by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

The program represents a collaboration between the Department of Art and Design and the Department of Behavioral Sciences, uniting mental health with the creative process. The curriculum prepares those seeking admittance to a master’s program in art therapy or a master’s in counseling or related fields emphasizing art therapy.

Dr. Deborah Wilson, chair of behavioral and social sciences, said that students have often inquired about an art therapy program at SAU. “Under Steven Ochs’ leadership, a plan was developed and approved so we are now able to offer another program that students wanted – one that can significantly impact human services,” Wilson explained.

“The coursework balances art and psychology,” said Ochs, chair of the art department. “The specific art therapy courses offer an overview into the history and growth of the discipline and the theoretical approaches that have evolved from the founding practitioners. Students develop a specific definition of art therapy that conveys a personal approach.”

Ashley Lawrence, who served as a curriculum advisor in the development of the program, will teach Introduction to Art Therapy. Lawrence graduated from SAU in 2015 with a BFA, Studio Emphasis, and a BA in English with a writing minor. Her discovery of art therapy as a student inspired her to explore it as a career.

“I am excited that my passion for the field has allowed me to return to my roots and teach Introduction to Art Therapy this spring,” Lawrence enthused. “I aim to introduce students to the concepts more thoroughly explored in a master’s degree program.”

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is an integrative profession that enriches lives through active art-making, applied psychological theory, and human experience. Students will acquire a broad understanding of the applications, theories, and career paths when preparing to apply to accredited art therapy or other related counseling graduate programs.

“As art therapists, our role is to help clients understand feelings that arise throughout the creative process,” said Lawrence. “This artwork isn’t meant for display. It serves as a confidential testimony to healing.”

Art therapy offers a means of communication for those unable to express themselves with words alone. People experiencing such difficulties as divorce or the loss of a loved one may benefit from participating in art therapy.

“Art therapists can fulfill workplace roles in hospitals, residential treatment facilities, prisons, shelters, schools, and private practice,” Lawrence explained. “Art therapy might be new to Arkansas, but the field is well-established and proven across numerous populations.”

To learn more about the art therapy program at SAU contact Steven Ochs at 870.235.5053.

SAAC TO OFFER ZOOM WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP
The South Arkansas Arts Center invites you to sign up for a four-part Zoom Watercolor Workshop taught by well-known local artist Maria Botti Villegas . The Zoom classes will be held on Tuesday nights, with the first class experience beginning on October 20 from 6:00-7:30 and following up on the next three Tuesday nights. This will be a fun and interesting way to hone your skills or start a new hobby... virtually!
In this workshop, Ms. Maria, as she is affectionately called by her students, will teach how to paint a landscape from Arkansas, The Natural State, and will demonstrate how to choose an appropriate landscape from a photo, a magazine, or by viewing a setting. From drawing and sketching to painting with watercolors, Ms. Maria will give her students the confidence to create a colorful landscape. This is a workshop intended for beginners as well as more experienced watercolor painters. It is a painting workshop, but basic notions of perspective, composition, and landscape drawing will be taught. Class cost is $125.
"I like to stimulate students to take sometimes a first step in creating a landscape," said Ms. Maria. "In Arkansas we are surrounded by wonderful hills, native prairies, strong tree trunks, and powerful sun light. Let us take advantage of this incredible environment to create our own particular way of envisioning the world around us."
Villegas, a muralist, illustrator, and multidisciplinary artist, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She holds a 5 -year degree from Pueyrredón School of Fine Arts in her native country, Argentina. In 1992, she moved to El Dorado and became an Arkansas Arts Council Artist-in-Education (AIE artist). As a working artist, she has participated in numerous exhibits and competitions in Arkansas, Louisiana and other states winning many awards including the 2001 scholarship from the Committee of The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. She has also painted 30 public murals in Arkansas and Louisiana.
Maria has been a teaching artist at The South Arkansas Arts Center Arts Academy and an AIE artist in the school system in levels K-12 for more than 25 years. Maria also teaches art forms and art therapy at her studio as a way to channel a myriad of emotions and the most personal deepest questions. She shares her art with her husband, artist Jorge Villegas, her students, and with Lulu and Krishna, her cats.
For more information on this fun art experience, please call the SAAC office to register at 870-866-0707 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

FOUR SCHOOLS TO RECEIVE FUNDING TO OPERATE SCHOOL-BASED HEALTH CENTERS 
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education's Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, in collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Health, selected four Arkansas schools to each receive $542,000 over a five-year period to implement School-Based Health Centers. 

The centers listed below will be fully operational during the 2021-2022 school year and will provide health and wellness services to students, staff, and families.
Darby Junior High School in the Fort Smith School District
Fountain Lake Elementary School in the Fountain Lake School District
Jessieville Elementary School in the Jessieville School District
Sheridan High School in the Sheridan School District

"Awarding these grants could not have come at a better time,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “With our schools facing unprecedented health challenges this school year, these grants will give these four schools the opportunity to expand their partnerships, complete renovations, and be prepared to offer health services at the beginning of the next school year. The services provided will not only help schools better assist students, they also will provide essential care to teachers and families.”

These four schools join 36 others around the state that have received state grant funding over the years to operate School-Based Health Centers. The centers remove physical and mental health barriers by offering these services on campus. As a result, academic achievement approves and the number of absences is reduced due to health issues.

Grant applicants undergo a comprehensive, competitive application process that includes internal and external reviews and an onsite visit. Grant awardees partner with local health providers to implement three main components of School-Based Health Centers: physical health services, mental and behavioral health services, and school health outreach programs. Many centers also offer additional services, such as oral health and optometry services.

To learn more about the School-Based Health Center program, visit https://bit.ly/2Rw2oit

OCTOBER 8, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 08, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.


 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 283
Confirmed Cases: 275
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 21
Active Confirmed Cases: 19
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 255
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 249
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 960
Confirmed Cases: 911
Probable Cases: 49
Total Active Cases: 36
Active Confirmed Cases: 23
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 877
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 846
Recovered Probable Cases: 31
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 584
Confirmed Cases: 529
Probable Cases: 55
Total Active Cases: 84
Active Confirmed Cases: 68
Active Probable Cases: 16
Total Recovered Cases: 482
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 443
Recovered Probable Cases: 39
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 173
Confirmed Cases: 171
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 4
Active Confirmed Cases: 4
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 164
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 162
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 37
Confirmed Cases: 36
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 1
Active Confirmed Cases: 1
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 36
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 35
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Arkansas

Total COVID-19 Cases: 88,880
Confirmed Cases: 84,914
Probable Cases: 3,966
Recovered Cases: 80,703

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

STATE POLICE COMMISSION ACCEPTS RECOMMENDATION FOR PROMOTION; SOUTH ARKANSAS CID COMMANDER NAMED
OCTOBER 7, 2020
Arkansas State Police Sergeant Robert Wilson, 51, of Jefferson County, has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant and will assume command of the department’s Criminal Investigation Division, Company B, headquartered at Pine Bluff.
The promotion was approved today by the Arkansas State Police Commission.  The recommendation for promotion was presented to the commissioners by Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police.
Lieutenant Wilson is a 22-year veteran of the department and has been assigned as a Company B supervisor since 2018.

 

STARBUCKS AND GRUBHUB COMING TO SAU CAMPUS
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University is adding new food options and conveniences for food delivery on campus. We Proudly Serve Starbucks (WPS Starbucks), one of the Starbucks Coffee solution platforms, will open a site on the campus of Southern Arkansas University in January 2021. The Seattle-based coffee house will be located in the Reynolds Center at the current site of Java City.

The WPS Starbucks will offer a very similar drink menu to the full store locations and a modified food menu, which will include a variety of hot and cold breakfast, snack and “meal on the go” items. A Provisions on Demand (POD) will be attached to the Starbucks facility and will offer snacks and convenience items.

“We are excited to add this popular brand to our campus to serve both on- and off-campus customers,” said Dr. Trey Berry, SAU president. “We expect to add four full-time and three part-time jobs with the transition to the new brand, which is also exciting for our community.”

The hours of operation for the WPS Starbucks will be Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., closed Saturday and Sunday, but may change based on campus needs and location traffic.

 “This project has been in the works for over a year ago,” said Alain Verbeiren, Food Services Director, “Aramark is proud to work with many leading brand partners. After evaluating campus needs and meeting with campus partners, the decision was made to refresh the Java City location to a WPS Starbucks.”

Java City will remain in operation until the end of the current semester when work begins to transition the current site to WPS Starbucks.

Grubhub Mobile Ordering will be available for mobile order/pickup use at Panda Express, Grille Works and Java City, until it is converted, and WPS Starbucks once it opens. Grubhub will be available beginning later this month and accessed through the Grubhub app.

BOOZMAN, CRAWFORD & WOMACK APPLAUD USDA BROADBAND INVESTMENT IN ARKANSAS
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), along with Congressmen Rick Crawford (AR-01) and Steve Womack (AR-03), applauded the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) $11.8 million broadband investment in rural Arkansas. The members participated in a virtual event with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue where he announced funding will support three high-speed broadband infrastructure projects to improve rural broadband in Pope, Van Buren, Stone and Marion counties.

“I’m proud to support the ReConnect Program and advocate for Arkansas applicants who want to help strengthen rural infrastructure and close the digital divide. USDA’s investment in our state will provide more homes, businesses and essential community services with reliable access to high-speed internet,” said Boozman co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus.

“Reliable connectivity is now almost essential for work, education, and even healthcare access. I appreciate Secretary Perdue’s continued support for rural America and his investment in these Arkansas communities. The future of North Central Arkansas – and the rest of rural America – is brighter because of this Administration,” Crawford said.

“Connecting our rural communities to reliable, high-speed broadband has never been more important. These investments will provide internet services to Third District Arkansans, supporting economic development, education, and telehealth services. I thank Secretary Perdue and USDA for being a strong partner to the Natural State,” Womack said.

“The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now – as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency. Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children, and remote business operations all require access to broadband,” said Secretary Perdue. “I am so proud of our rural communities who have been working day in and day out, just like they always do, producing the food and fiber America depends on. We need them more than ever during these trying times, and expanding access to this critical infrastructure will help ensure rural America prospers for years to come.”

The Arkansas Telephone Company was awarded $4.1 million to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 491 people, 92 farms and four businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Pope and Van Buren counties.

The Northern Arkansas Telephone Company will receive $4.7 million in ReConnect funds to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 1,202 people, 68 farms and six businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Marion County.

Mountain View Telephone Company will use $2.9 million to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 1,331 people, 39 farms, six businesses, two fire stations and one post office to high-speed broadband internet in Stone County.

USDA launched the ReConnect Program in December 2018 to facilitate broadband deployment.

OCTOBER 7, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 07, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 281
Confirmed Cases: 273
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 22
Active Confirmed Cases: 20
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 252
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 246
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 948
Confirmed Cases: 908
Probable Cases: 40
Total Active Cases: 36
Active Confirmed Cases: 30
Active Probable Cases: 6
Total Recovered Cases: 865
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 836
Recovered Probable Cases: 29
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 579
Confirmed Cases: 523
Probable Cases: 56
Total Active Cases: 93
Active Confirmed Cases: 71
Active Probable Cases: 22
Total Recovered Cases: 468
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 434
Recovered Probable Cases: 34
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 171
Confirmed Cases: 169
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 9
Active Confirmed Cases: 8
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 157
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 156
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 37
Confirmed Cases: 36
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 1
Active Confirmed Cases: 1
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 36
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 35
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 88,071
Confirmed Cases: 84,230
Probable Cases: 3,841
Recovered Cases: 79,885

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

AEROJET ROCKETDYNE’S NEW STATE-OF-THE-ART LARGE SOLID ROCKET MOTOR FACILITY OPEN FOR OPERATIONS
CAMDEN, AR

Oct. 6, 2020 – Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new large solid rocket motor manufacturing facility is officially open for operations, highlighting the company’s significant investments in the modernization and innovation of its solid rocket motor production capabilities, and continuing the company’s expansion in southern Arkansas.

“The Engineering, Manufacturing and Development facility is the newest, state-of-the-art large solid rocket motor manufacturing facility in the nation, and we look forward to expanding our decades-long solid rocket motor production capability in Camden,” said Eileen P. Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “Thanks in large part to Governor Asa Hutchinson and our partners in the great state of Arkansas, Camden is poised to become a major center of large solid rocket motor production.”

The ability to produce large solid rocket motors at the Engineering, Manufacturing Development (EMD) facility positions the company to deliver on some of the nation’s most important next generation national security programs, including strategic deterrence, hypersonics and missile defense. Aerojet Rocketdyne was recently selected by Northrop Grumman to provide a large solid rocket motor system and a post-boost propulsion system as part of its nationwide GBSD team.

“The aerospace and defense industry has a significant impact on Arkansas’ economy, and Aerojet Rocketdyne has been a vital part of that success for many years,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “The company has demonstrated unwavering dedication to both the workforce and community in Calhoun County, and I am delighted to see our partnership continue as the company expands operations in Camden. It is my pleasure to welcome Eileen Drake back to Arkansas to officially open the company’s new large solid rocket motor manufacturing facility.”

"Arkansas is playing an increasingly important role in the production of advanced national defense technologies and tools,” Senator John Boozman said. “This facility represents the next step in that evolution, and our state is proud to partner with Aerojet Rocketdyne so that its operations in Camden are equipped to meet the company’s needs for a business-friendly environment and skilled workforce capable of helping ensure the readiness, effectiveness and safety of our troops. Arkansas’ rich military history and tradition is only further enhanced with this expansion, and we’re excited for what’s to come.”

Representative Bruce Westerman said, “Aerojet Rocketdyne’s investment in Camden is solidifying the area as a major player in the defense industry, not to mention bringing dozens more jobs to the community. I’m glad to support their work in the Fourth District and look forward to seeing this new rocket motor facility begin operating.”

Construction of the 17,000 square-foot EMD facility began last spring as part of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s ongoing expansion in Camden, where the company has long had a presence and currently produces more than 75,000 solid rocket motors per year. It was made possible with support from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Calhoun County and the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED).

“We are proud to partner with Aerojet Rocketdyne as the company continues to grow in Camden and invest in technology that plays an integral role in our nation’s security efforts,” Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said. “Not only does Aerojet Rocketdyne serve as an international leader in the aerospace and defense industry, but it also serves as a leader in the South Arkansas community. This announcement is great news for the state.”

Executive Director for OPED James Lee Silliman said, “Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development is proud to have been a partner in Aerojet Rocketdyne’s EMD facility project by providing both job creation and workforce training incentives for this milestone expansion for the Camden operations. It required coordination and teamwork with Aerojet Rocketdyne, Governor Hutchinson's office, AEDC and Calhoun County to make this project possible. South Arkansas will reap dividends for years to come due to this investment.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s growth in Camden was driven by a company-wide consolidation and modernization initiative that began in 2015. Aimed at reducing costs and increasing operational efficiency, the company has demonstrated the ability to successfully transfer programs and proficiencies to other sites. Now substantially complete, Aerojet Rocketdyne surpassed its goal of reducing costs across the enterprise by $230 million annually. The company is now well-positioned to deliver innovative, affordable solutions for some of the nation’s most challenging national security requirements.

About Aerojet Rocketdyne:
Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion systems and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, and tactical systems areas, in support of domestic and international customers. For more information, visit www.Rocket.com and www.AerojetRocketdyne.com. Follow Aerojet Rocketdyne and CEO Eileen Drake on Twitter at @AerojetRdyne and @DrakeEileen.


CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB ANNOUNCE 2020 DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS BANQUET
The Camden Noon Lions Club announces the Distinguished Service Awards Banquet will take place on Tuesday, October 20th 6:30PM at Thrive Church (former Charles O Ross Center).

The doors will open at 6PM.  The meal will be catered by Catherine’s Bistro.  Tickets are $25.00 each and can be purchased at Catherine’s Bistro or from Camden Noon Lions Club members.

There will be 4 local citizens recognized for their community service during the banquet.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Scotty Thurman.  As current Head Basketball Coach at Little Rock Parkview, Coach Thurman is best known as the Arkansas Razorbacksshooting guard who hit the high-arcing go-ahead three-pointer with 50.7 seconds left in the 1994 NCAA Basketball Championship game, helping to secure Arkansas' only national title to date in a 76–72 victory over the Duke Blue Devils. That shot is referred to as the "Shot heard 'round Arkansas".
 

SAU OFFERS FALL INTERSESSION SEMESTER
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University is offering a five-week fall intersession in December with a wide variety of courses to allow students to earn credits during the winter break.

“We adjusted our fall schedule for COVID,” said Dr. Trey Berry, SAU president. “The fall semester will end in November, which presents a fabulous opportunity to have an additional intersession during December.”

Intersessions provide shortened schedules for classes and are often held between traditional semesters. Many of the classes offer three credit hours of instruction, but are accelerated due to the shortened time period, similar to summer school.

“We have had a small fall intersession in the past with only a few courses available, but with the longer winter break, we are able to provide a more robust offering this year,” said Dr. David Lanoue, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This can be a great opportunity for students to get classes they need to stay on track.”

Students can benefit from intersession courses to increase their total number of credit hours, which is often a requirement of maintaining a scholarship. Intersession is also an opportunity to take a class which may not have fit into the student’s schedule previously, or to complete a necessary prerequisite before the next semester begins.

Approximately 25 classes will be offered during this intersession, which will run from December 1-31, 2020.

“All of the classes will be online,” Lanoue said, “so students can complete the classes from wherever they are during the semester break.” 

A full listing of the classes offered during SAU’s fall intersession can be found at: https://mysau.saumag.edu/ICS/Course_Search/

The fall intersession schedule can be found at: https://web.saumag.edu/academics/academic-calendar/

 

Arkansas AG logoU.S. SUPREME COURT HEARS ORAL ARGUMENTS FOR RUTLEDGE V. PCMA
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA). In this case, Rutledge seeks to protect family pharmacies in Arkansas and to ensure Arkansans’ access to affordable healthcare by defending the State’s power to regulate the abusive payment practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

“Arkansans deserve affordable healthcare. By requiring these drug middlemen to be held accountable to pay pharmacies a fair price, we are protecting Arkansans from skyrocketing prescription drug prices and preserving their access to frontline healthcare providers like family pharmacies,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Our case was one of two landmark healthcare cases before the Supreme Court this term, and it’s time states like Arkansas had the power to protect themselves.”

In the U.S. Supreme Court, Attorney General Rutledge is supported by the U.S. Solicitor General and a bipartisan coalition led by California that includes 44 other states and the District of Columbia.

In 2015, PCMA filed a lawsuit to block enforcement of Act 900, which regulates PBMs, who act as prescription drug middlemen, reimbursing pharmacists for prescription drugs dispensed to insurance beneficiaries. Before Act 900, PBMs often reimbursed pharmacies at less than the pharmacies’ cost to acquire a drug. This practice and other factors caused more than 16% of rural pharmacies to close in recent years. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas ruled in 2017 that Act 900 was preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and, in 2018, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision.

The case is Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No.18-540.

 
 

Playlist

October 06, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID UPDATE – OCTOBER 06, 2020
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 hit their highest level on Tuesday since the pandemic reached Arkansas. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced during his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference that 529 Arkansans are now hospitalized for complications caused by the virus. That's an increase of five from Monday.

Another 523 cases were confirmed as well, raising the cumulative statewide total to 84,203. Deaths increased by 22 over the previous 24 hours to 1,469. State officials shared some good news in regards to the state's testing positivity rate. That rate continues to decline and currently sits at 7.7 percent. Testing also remains rigorous with more than 45,000 tests performed since Oct. 1. 

Hutchinson said he believes Arkansans have given COVID-19 a renewed seriousness after the President and First Lady recently contracted the virus. He added that the upcoming flu season provides another incentive to follow state and federal health guidelines.

Hutchinson also shared updated directives from the health department regarding visitation at nursing homes. Those new guidelines slightly relax the rules covering visits by family members. They allow a minimum amount of family visitation at all long-term care facilities in Arkansas if a resident is undergoing medical treatment or in need of compassionate care. 

Expanded visitation is now allowed at nursing homes if they meet certain parameters. Those include no new positive cases of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days. The facility must also screen every visitor, employee, contractor and vendor entering the building and restricting access to anyone who does not pass the screening process. 

The full guidelines are available online at healthy.arkansas.gov

Dr. Ivy Pfeffer of the Arkansas Department of Education announced a new statewide partnership titled Engage Arkansas. The effort aims to help school districts assist and reengage virtual leaners who are falling behind in their instruction. Around 25 percent of students in Arkansas have chosen their school's virtual learning option. Some, education officials say, are struggling to succeed through online instruction.  

In review, cases of COVID-19 grew by 532 on Tuesday to 84,203. Deaths increased by 22 to 1,469. Hospitalizations increased by five to a new record of 529. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 06, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 278
Confirmed Cases: 270
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 22
Active Confirmed Cases: 20
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 249
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 243
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 945
Confirmed Cases: 905
Probable Cases: 40
Total Active Cases: 38
Active Confirmed Cases: 31
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 860
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 832
Recovered Probable Cases: 28
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 565
Confirmed Cases: 512
Probable Cases: 53
Total Active Cases: 98
Active Confirmed Cases: 74
Active Probable Cases: 24
Total Recovered Cases: 449
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 420
Recovered Probable Cases: 29
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 171
Confirmed Cases: 169
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 12
Active Confirmed Cases: 11
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 154
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 153
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 37
Confirmed Cases: 36
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 1
Active Confirmed Cases: 1
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 36
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 35
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ORDERS FLAGS TO FLY AT HALF-STAFF IN MEMORY OF OFFICER KEVIN COLLINS
LITTLE ROCK - Governor Asa Hutchinson has ordered the United States flag and the flag of the State of Arkansas to be lowered to half-staff in tribute to the memory of Officer Kevin Collins of the Pine Bluff Police Department, who was killed in the line of duty on Monday, October 5, 2020. The flag shall be lowered immediately and remain at half-staff to the day of interment.

The full proclamation can be found HERE.

Governor Hutchinson released a statement on the passing of Officer Collins:
I was deeply saddened to learn that Officer Kevin Collins was shot and killed in the line of duty yesterday. Officer Collins spent his 5-year career at the Pine Bluff Police Department protecting and serving his community. He selflessly put his life on the line each day in the violent crimes unit and paid the ultimate price for the safety of others. We are forever grateful for his service and the dedication of our entire law enforcement community. Our prayers remain with Officer Collins? family, the Pine Bluff Police Department, and for the full recovery of Lt. Ralph Isaac.

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, September 8th at Catherine's Bistro at 12:00 PM. The program will be by Britt Williford who will be discussing the upcoming Election.

 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.

JORY WORTHEN IN CUSTODY
On June 23, 2019, Jory Worthen of Bearden, allegedly murdered Alyssa Cannon, 20, and
her 4-year-old son, Braydon Ponder in their home located at 1338 Ronald Drive, Camden, Arkansas.

Their bodies were discovered June 25th. Authorities found Worthen’s pick-up truck at the residence, but the victim’s white 2007 Honda Accord was missing. The vehicle was later found July 22, 2019, in Seattle, Washington, in a Burger King parking lot. Authorities cannot confirm if it was Jory that drove the vehicle there or someone else.

A note was left behind at the scene allegedly laying claim, a confession if you will, about the act, and Worthen leaving to end his life via suicide. It was heavily rumored that Jory may have committed suicide since he was on the run, but US Marshal Services believe that may have been a ruse to throw off Authorities. 

The Camden Police Department charged Worthen with two counts of capital murder. 

Authorities arrested 22-year-old Montez Charles-Xavier Woods on July 24, 2019 in connection to the homicide. Police determined that Woods had knowledge of the murder and knew of Worthen's whereabouts.  Camden Police Department Chief Bo Woody confirmed that Woods assisted Worthen after the double homicide.  Woods reportedly admitted his involvement in helping Worthen. It was revealed Woods met with Worthen on June 27, 2019 outside of Chidester. Woods later led investigators on several different versions of his meetings with Worthen. Evidence was obtained Woods had knowledge of the murder and knew Worthen’s whereabouts. Lt. LaRhonda Moore stated that Woods knew the murders had taken place when he aided Worthen so he wasn’t brought into the situation not knowing Worthen was a suspect. When Moore’ was asked in what capacity Wood’s helped Worthen - financially or providing a place to hide - Moore answered that at this time she can only say Woods “assisted.” Moore also shared that Woods had closer ties to the victims’ family than to Worthen.

There was a story that broke later that Alyssa cell phone had been turned on and pinged a cell tower in Wichita, Kansas. Authorities tried to triangulate the phone, but the phone had disappeared from the network shortly after. It was believed that Jory had her phone and had been using it.

Reports poured in that he may have been in Alaska. Marshal services followed all reasonable leads, but those went cold. A video appeared on social media, Paul Michael of Bikers Against Abuse and Tracy Gonzalez a bail worker in Georgia tagged Angela Cannon, Alyssa’s mom to a Facebook post of a possible spotting of Worthen, at a Georgia gas station getting into a Camero as the passenger, but that went nowhere. 

Authorities have received over 500 tips across multiple states, including Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, Alaska, and Washington with nothing confirmed. In the begging, there was no monetary incentive being offered in Worthen’s apprehension.  Police Chief Bo Woody put up $1,000 of his own money, just to bring Worthen in. Over time the reward grew to $5,000.
US Marshalls obtained a Federal Warrant for Worthen in February. US Marshals placed Worthen on their top 15 most wanted list.  The 15 Most Wanted list is reserved for fugitives we consider the worst of the worst,” said U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington. The US Marshalls upped the reward to $25,000 for information leading directly to Worthen’s arrest. 

CPD Chief Bo Woody assigned Lt. LaRhonda Moore to pursue Worthen adding additional assistance with U.S. Marshalls after Worthen was believed to have crossed state lines. 

Worthen was picked up by local authorities at a local hotel, in Burbank, California.. After being picked identified by authorities, and taken into custody after a short foot pursuit. Worthen is being held on the state warrant for Murder awaiting extradition back to Arkansas.

We will update this story this afternoon as we get more information.

PINE BLUFF POLICE DETECTIVE SHOT AND KILLED, ANOTHER WOUNDED, STATE POLICE INVESTIGATING
OCTOBER 5, 2020
A Pine Bluff Police Detective is dead and another wounded following an exchange of gunfire that occurred today in Pine Bluff at 210 North Blake Street.

Detective Kevin Collins, 35, a five year veteran of the department, was pronounced deceased at Jefferson Regional Medical Center shortly after 2 PM.
Lieutenant (Detective) Ralph Isaac, 42, a twenty-year veteran of the department, sustained a non-life threatening gunshot wound.

The police officers were met with gunfire as they arrived at the Econo Lodge Motel about 12:05 PM.  The officers were at the location in connection with an on-going local criminal investigation.  A third detective, Kelsey Collins, 28, a two-year department veteran, did not sustain any injury.
Two individuals believed to be involved in the shooting were wounded.  Both were treated for non-life threatening wounds at a local hospital and later released for questioning by state police.

The homicide investigation will be led by Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division.  The FBI has been requested to assist in the investigation.  An investigative file will be submitted to the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney for the consideration of criminal charges.

 

SAU WAIVING ADMISSION EXAM REQUIREMENT FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL FOR SPRING 2021
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University will waive admission exam requirements for graduate school for the spring 2021 semester.

“Testing sites are trying to reopen but continue to have issues accommodating students,” said Dr. Kim Bloss, dean of SAU’s School of Graduate Studies. “We didn’t want this, which is out of their control, to prevent them from applying to graduate school. This waiver is for all graduate admissions exams including the GRE, MAT and GMAT.”

With the waiver, students can be considered for admission if they have completed a bachelor’s degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.2 or higher from a regionally accredited institution.

“Our graduate programs continue to grow,” said SAU President Dr. Trey Berry, “and we want students to be able to take advantage of the fabulous programs we are offering. We didn’t want the availability of testing sites due to COVID to be a limiting factor for someone wanting to continue their education.”

The graduate school application can be completed online at www.saumag.edu/graduate.
 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN MOURNS DEATH OF PINE BLUFF POLICE OFFICER
Says, 'Horrifically tragic' news comes just four days after Peace Officer Memorial Day ceremony
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin released the following statement on the death of a Pine Bluff Police Officer who was killed today in the line of duty:

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the Pine Bluff police officer who was shot and killed today in the line of duty as well as the officer who is wounded and currently in the hospital. This news is horrifically tragic and comes just four days after we commemorated Peace Officer Memorial Day by adding the names of three fallen officers to the monument at our State Capitol. My heart goes out to the Pine Bluff Police Department as they grieve the loss of one of their own. Our police officers take extraordinary risks in order to protect our communities, and they deserve our eternal gratitude."
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON PASSING OF PINE BLUFF POLICE OFFICER
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after it was reported that one of the two Pine Bluff police officers shot earlier today had succumbed to his wounds:

“Officers Kevin Collins and Ralph Isaac dedicated themselves to defending the rule of law and the safety of their fellow citizens, and for that Arkansans will be forever grateful.  As we mourn the loss of Officer Collins and pray for Officer Isaac’s recovery, may God bring comfort to their families and to the brave policemen and women of the Pine Bluff Police Department.”

ARKANSAS STATE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES ADVOCACY FELLOWS FOR 2020 
Little Rock, AR – The Arkansas State Teachers Association (ASTA), a nonprofit and nonunion  professional association serving thousands of Arkansas educators and school employees announces its 2020 cohort of Advocacy Fellows. The ASTA Advocacy Fellowship Program was developed with the goal of elevating and empowering our state’s educators to influence policy through advocacy and education. The 2020 class of twenty advocacy fellows was selected from a statewide pool of distinguished applicants encompassing classroom educators, professors, and administrators serving students in traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools, and universities. 

The following educators will participate in a yearlong fellowship engaging in activities and actions throughout the 2020-2021 school year to advocate for policies and issues that directly impact their students and educational communities. 
John Allison, Vilonia High School, Math Teacher
Leslie Battles, Cooper Elementary – Bentonville, Classroom Teacher, Team Lead
Jeff Davidson, Forrest City Junior High, Classroom Teacher
Melannie Duclan, Batesville Junior High School, Classroom Teacher
Felicia Goings, Forest Heights STEM Academy, 5th Grade Teacher
Olivia Hansen, Cabot Middle School North, 6th Grade Math and Science Teacher  
Kimberly Harlan, eStem Public Charter Schools, District Testing/Federal Programs Coordinator
Teri Harrah, Forest Heights STEM Academy,  Social Studies Teacher
Sam Kelley, Westside High School – Jonesboro, Social Studies Teacher and Department Chair
Nancy Lively, Rogers High School, Classroom Teacher
Rebecca McGee, Reed Elementary School – Dumas, 5th Grade Math/Science Teacher
Kathleen Moe, Willowbrook Elementary – Bentonville, Art Educator
Tanner Oglesby, Bryant High School, Choral Director
Karon Parrish, Crossroads Learning Center – Rogers, School Counselor
La Warn Rodgers, North Little Rock High School, Dean of Students
Jessica Saum, Stagecoach Elementary School – Cabot, K-4 Special Education Teacher
Cody Strahan, Ramay Junior High School – Fayetteville, Engineering/Robotics Teacher
Melissa Ward, Fox Meadow School of Creative Media – Nettleton, Literacy Resource Teacher
Brycial Williams, Wynne Primary School, First-Grade Teacher

“This incredible group of professionals represents a diverse cross-section of today’s education professionals,” noted ASTA Executive Director, Dr. Michele Linch. “In the wake of the pandemic, one of the primary concerns we heard from ASTA members was that their input and voice was not sufficiently sought or valued as decisions that directly impacted their schools and students were made.  We knew then that we had to formalize our member advocacy efforts. They have already begun the important work of researching, writing opinion pieces, and preparing for the upcoming 2021 legislative session.”  

Modeled after ASTA’s national affiliate’s Association of American Educator’s (AAE) fellowship program,  AAE Fellowship alumna and Little Rock School District teacher Lydia Dillon noted, “This fellowship is the most important and valuable program that AAE offers.” Our goal is for the ASTA fellowship program to become a vital asset to educators and policy makers as it elevates the educator’s voice in Arkansas.

 The ASTA Advocacy Fellowship is available to ASTA professional members statewide. Application consideration for the next cohort will open in 2021.  

The Arkansas  State Teachers Association is the state chapter of the Association of American Educators (AAE), the largest national, nonunion, professional educator organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to educator empowerment and advocacy—promoting professionalism, collaboration, and excellence without a partisan agenda. ASTA-AAE is committed to a teaching profession that is student oriented, well respected, and personally fulfilling. AAE serves members in all fifty states and welcomes professionals from all education entities. Membership is $16.50 per month which includes $2 million professional liability insurance, employment rights coverage, professional resources, and many other benefits. Classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, student teachers, university professors, support staff, and supporters can learn more at astapro.org.

 
 
 

October 05, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 05, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.


 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 275
Confirmed Cases: 268
Probable Cases: 7
Total Active Cases: 23
Active Confirmed Cases: 22
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 245
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 239
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 943
Confirmed Cases: 903
Probable Cases: 40
Total Active Cases: 40
Active Confirmed Cases: 33
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 856
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 828
Recovered Probable Cases: 28
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 42
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 555
Confirmed Cases: 504
Probable Cases: 41
Total Active Cases: 105
Active Confirmed Cases: 76
Active Probable Cases: 29
Total Recovered Cases: 432
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 410
Recovered Probable Cases: 22
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 171
Confirmed Cases: 169
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 12
Active Confirmed Cases: 11
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 154
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 153
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 36
Confirmed Cases: 35
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 0
Active Confirmed Cases: 0
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 36
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 36
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 87,013
Confirmed Cases: 83,306
Probable Cases: 3,707
Recovered Cases: 78,358

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY: STATEWIDE FORCES SET TO CURB DISTRACTED DRIVING VIOLATORS
Beginning today and continuing through October 12th, Arkansas law enforcement officers will join forces with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to participate in a high visibility enforcement effort directed at drivers violating distracted driving laws.

Arkansas has joined the national “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” operation formed to stop distracted driving.  Police and sheriff’s departments have pledged the support of their officers and deputies to spread a unified message that distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone operating a motor vehicle on Arkansas roadways.
Between 2012 and 2018, nearly 23,000 people died as the result of motor vehicle crashes attributed to distracted driving, according to NHTSA records.  While there were 2,841 deaths from crashes caused by distracted driving during 2018, a 12 percent decrease from the previous year, law enforcement agency leaders say additional emphasis devoted to stopping violators is still needed.

Millennials and older Generation Z drivers have become the most egregious offenders of texting while driving.  A comparison of NHTSA statistics indicate that since 2007, drivers 16 – 24 years of age have been using handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle in greater numbers of instances than older drivers have.  During 2018, eight percent of the people killed among teenage drivers (15 – 19 years old) were distracted at the time of the crashes.

“It’s inexcusable how common it has become to see people driving while looking at their phone,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “That’s why Arkansas motorists can expect to see an increase in law enforcement presence on streets and highways looking for distracted driving violators who will be stopped and issued a ticket.”

Many drivers are guilty of practicing a double standard when it comes to distracted driving.  A 2018 American Automobile Association Traffic Safety Culture Index reported that nearly 96 percent of drivers believe it is very or extremely dangerous to read a text message or email while driving, yet, 4 out of 10 drivers admitted to doing it within the previous 30 days.

Commenting on the report, Colonel Bryant said, “People know that texting while driving is dangerous and illegal, yet without considering the consequences that could end in someone being injured or losing their life, they do it anyway.”

Arkansas law enforcement and NHTSA urge Arkansas motorists to lay their phones aside while driving and practice the following suggestions, ensuring everyone remains safe:
While driving, if you’re expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park the vehicle in a safe location.  Once the vehicle is safely off the road and parked, it’s safe to text.
Ask your passenger to be a “designated texter”.  Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls and messages.
Do not engage in social media scrolling, reading or messaging while driving.
Cell phone use is habit forming.  Activate your phones’ “Do Not Disturb” feature or place the phone in the trunk or an out of reach location until you reach your destination.   
Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal.  Break the cycle.

Remember: U Drive. U Text. You Pay.  For more information on distracted driving, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.


CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO HAVE A BUDGET WORKSHOP
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have a workshop on Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. The purpose of the Workshop is to discuss the proposed 2021 budget for the City of Camden.

 

SOCIAL SECURITY COLUMN - NEW BENEFIT VERIFICATION LETTERS
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas

We are excited to announce the release of a new, standardized Benefit Verification letter.    

People receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can obtain their letter by using their personal my Social Security account.  You can use the letter as proof of income for loans, housing assistance, mortgage, and other verification purposes. 

Please create your personal my Social Security account to access your new Benefit Verification letter online in a safe, quick, and convenient way without needing to contact us.  People not receiving benefits can use their account to get proof that they do not receive benefits, or proof that benefits are pending, in the same standardized letter.  Individual representative payees can also use the new my Social Security Representative Payee Portal to access the new Benefit Verification letter online for themselves or their beneficiaries. 

You can access your Benefit Verification letters at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.  If you don’t want to use your personal my Social Security account, you can call our National 800 Number to speak with a representative or to use the Interactive Voice Response system. You can also contact your local office.
 

AR INSURANCE DEPARTMENT RISK MANAGEMENT DIVISION RECOGNIZED
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 5, 2020)– The State Risk and Insurance Management Association (STRIMA) recently named the Arkansas Insurance Department’s (AID) Risk Management Division as the recipient of the 2020 Award for Innovative Risk Management (AFIRM) for its Loss Prevention Evaluation Report (LPER) system, an adaptable tool that assists state agencies in prioritizing and budgeting loss prevention inspection findings.

Created by Dr. Ken Dolan of the AID Risk Management Division, the LPER system utilizes certain terminology to characterize a state agency’s risk profile. With a focus on property and life safety exposures for the Arkansas Multi-Agency Insurance Trust (AMAIT), identified risks are rated according to occurrence probabilities and expected operational impacts. This is intended to assist an agency in determining its priorities for remediation of identified hazards and to support its budgeting efforts.

"I am extremely proud of the work of AID's Risk Management Division, and the work that went into being recognized with the award from STRIMA," said Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Alan McClain. "I am confident our state agency customers will be very well served by this new tool which will allow relevant data to be used to drive key insurance coverage decisions, resulting in more efficient use of state resources.  Congratulations to Director Mark Guinee, Dr. Dolan, and the rest of the Risk Management Team at AID."

The Risk Management Division has been implementing the LPER system for nearly two years and state agencies have already benefited from its results and recommendations. Agency stakeholders use the system's loss prevention analysis to decide which areas to initially focus capital expenditures in order to lower the agency's financial exposures to risk hazards. Prior to the LPER system, no formal analytics system existed.

The Risk Management Division is the second division of the AID to receive the innovation award from STRIMA in the last two years. In 2019, the Public Employee Claims Division (PECD) received the AFIRM for its state employee workers’ compensation pharmacy benefit management program in partnership with the UAMS College of Pharmacy and Optum.

 

OCTOBER 2, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 02, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 270
Confirmed Cases: 263
Probable Cases: 7
Total Active Cases: 23
Active Confirmed Cases: 22
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 241
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 235
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 924
Confirmed Cases: 889
Probable Cases: 35
Total Active Cases: 40
Active Confirmed Cases: 27
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 838
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 821
Recovered Probable Cases: 17
Total Deaths: 46
Confirmed Deaths: 41
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 520
Confirmed Cases: 480
Probable Cases: 40
Total Active Cases: 102
Active Confirmed Cases: 77
Active Probable Cases: 25
Total Recovered Cases: 400
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 385
Recovered Probable Cases: 15
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 166
Confirmed Cases: 165
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 8
Active Confirmed Cases: 8
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 153
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 152
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 36
Confirmed Cases: 35
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 2
Active Confirmed Cases: 2
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 34
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 33
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 84,821
Confirmed Cases: 81,531
Probable Cases: 3290
Recovered Cases: 76,186

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

LOCKHEED AWARDED ANOTHER CONTRACT
Lockheed Martin, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $26,960,639 modification (PZ0058) to contract W31P4Q-16-C-0036 for the procurement of last time buy production components for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems launchers. Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, Texas; Camden, Arkansas; and Palm Bay, Florida, with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2023. Fiscal 2019 missile procurement, Army funds; and fiscal 2019 and 2020 U.S. Marine Corps funds in the amount of $26,960,639 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity. 

 

EDUCATORS RAISE SCHOOL SAFETY, STUDENT LEARNING CONCERNS
AEA offers new tool for educators to speak up on school conditions
Educators are now on the frontlines of the coronavirus public health crisis and AEA is receiving troubling reports of unsafe practices and policies that undermine educators’ ability to provide effective learning for our students. 

AEA is a member driven organization. The educators who make up our local associations have the closest and best knowledge of their students' needs and safety in school buildings. Over the past several weeks, we have heard from educators across the state about health and safety concerns. We must take these concerns seriously and district officials must address them to slow the spread of this deadly virus.

“When educators speak up about health and safety issues, they do so to protect their students, colleagues and community,” said AEA President Carol Fleming.  “It’s disheartening to see educators being punished for trying to bring community awareness to safety issues in our school buildings.”
Last week Education Secretary Key said, in the first few weeks alone, more than one hundred schools had to pivot to offsite learning in some manner after health officials determined it was unsafe to proceed with in person learning.

“Parents don’t know if schools will remain open week to week, or even day to day, as new positives force shut-downs at a moment’s notice,” Fleming said. “These abrupt closures are disruptive for both students and educators.” 

To make the situation even more frightening, policies aiming to protect privacy mean educators don’t know if a missing student or colleague is infected, on quarantine, or just out for some unrelated reason.  

In addition to health and safety issues, many educators are now working two jobs as they struggle to teach both in person and virtually. We are also hearing reports of school districts assigning individual teachers hundreds of students which is well in excess of state standards.

These situations are normally prevented by state laws established to ensure students receive a quality education. Earlier this year the board of education approved a set of statewide waivers to some of these rules. AEA argued against those waivers because we saw the potential for a negative impact on student learning. 

"Unfortunately, now our fears are being realized,” Fleming said. “Our elected leaders vet and approve rules and regulations based on what we know about student learning. These waivers allow that process to be upended, creating an impossible situation for the school employees on the front lines.” 

AEA has developed a survey tool to find out what’s happening in our school buildings. We want educators to share the challenges, successes, or any other information we need to communicate to our public officials. The anonymous survey, available at www.aeaonline.org, aims to identify complications that need to be fixed as well as positive examples that can be expanded upon “We are also hearing reports of administrators creating a culture of suppression Fleming said. “This does a great disservice to our children, educators and communities.In order to fight this virus, we must be able openly communicate without fear of retribution.”


SAAC TO HOST ANN DOWNS EXHIBIT IN OCTOBER
The South Arkansas Arts Center announces its current art exhibition, "A Lifetime with My Easel", by well-known South Arkansas artist Ann Downs.  Her exhibit will hang in the Lobby Gallery beginning October 2 through October 28, 2020, with an artist’s reception on October 8 from 5:30-6:30pm. 

 Ann Downs, a native of Magnolia, is a versatile artist who works with various mediums.  She also creates original designs for painted furniture accent pieces, and her murals can be seen in downtown Magnolia and in principal buildings at Southern Arkansas University.  "A Lifetime with My Easel" is a compilation of works through the years showcasing Downs’ various styles of painting. 

 As a teacher and active artist, aware of the positive impact of visual arts, Downs wanted to share her knowledge with the community. She opened Blue Moon Studio, where she held classes for all ages.  She has been active in local and regional art groups, including the first Magnolia Sidewalk Art Show in 1950, founded by Marjorie Chamberlain, teacher and friend.  This show remains a special feature of the annual Magnolia Blossom Festival, sponsored by Magnolia Arts each year in May.  Downs has artwork in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States.

 “As I observe the world around me, I seek new ways to express the essence of it.  The challenge for me, the artist, is to speak to the viewer in a way that is unique, that is mine.  My goals are to grow in my own creative ability and promote the arts wherever life takes me.”

 A reception for the artist will be hosted for small groups on Thursday, October 8 with scheduled times for viewing at 5:30pm or 6:00pm. Place your reservation for a time slot by calling SAAC at 870-862-5474 or visiting https://saac-arts.org/ann-downs/. As per Governor Hutchinson's statewide order, face coverings are required for entry. 

For more information on this exhibit, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474.  Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00.  Sign in as you enter the lobby and face masks are required. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street,
El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE FILES SUIT AGAINST OWNER OF THE IRON SHOP OF ARKANSAS
Says, ‘Arkansans should be cautious of any business demanding upfront payments for projects or repairs’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed suit yesterday against Robert Walley of Center Ridge and owner of The Iron Shop of Arkansas, for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Walley failed to complete the work that was agreed upon after requesting upfront payments for material to build ornamental iron fence projects for Arkansans.

“Arkansans should be cautious of any business demanding upfront payments for projects or repairs,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Let us do the fighting for you when dealing with businesses that fail to follow through on promises, correct mistakes or complete projects.”

Walley, doing business as The Iron Shop of Arkansas, sells and installs ornamental iron fences and other iron fixtures to consumers. Rutledge received seven unresolved consumer complaints since 2019 regarding Walley’s deceptive business practices. Consumers report Walley failed to complete work, provided inferior products differing from those ordered by customers, and failed to follow through on his promises to return to consumers’ homes to complete or correct projects. Other consumers have reported that Walley requested partial, upfront payments for materials and failed to purchase the materials or even begin the work.

Walley is not licensed to conduct residential home improvement work as required by the Arkansas Residential Contractors Board. He was fined and ordered to cease and desist conducting business by the Board on January 22, 2020, and June 24, 2020. Walley failed to attend either hearing.

Attorney General Rutledge filed the case in Pulaski County and is requesting restitution, civil penalties, injunctive relief and demands a jury trial.

Consumers who have been affected by the Iron Shop of Arkansas or experienced similar deceptive practices should contact the office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

COTTON STATEMENT AFTER MEETING WITH JUDGE BARRETT
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement today after meeting with President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett:

"My meeting with Judge Barrett confirmed she is a brilliant legal mind and highly qualified nominee for the Supreme Court. I urge my Democratic colleagues to set politics aside and approach this nomination with an open mind so Judge Barrett receives the overwhelming confirmation vote she deserves."

 

OCTOBER 1, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 01, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 269
Confirmed Cases: 261
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 24
Active Confirmed Cases: 22
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 239
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 239
Recovered Probable Cases: 233
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 911
Confirmed Cases: 879
Probable Cases: 32
Total Active Cases: 38
Active Confirmed Cases: 26
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 833
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 818
Recovered Probable Cases: 15
Total Deaths: 40
Confirmed Deaths: 35
Probable Deaths: 5


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 500
Confirmed Cases: 465
Probable Cases: 35
Total Active Cases: 95
Active Confirmed Cases: 73
Active Probable Cases: 22
Total Recovered Cases: 387
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 374
Recovered Probable Cases: 13
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 166
Confirmed Cases: 165
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 9
Active Confirmed Cases: 9
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 152
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 151
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 36
Confirmed Cases: 35
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 2
Active Confirmed Cases: 2
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 34
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 33
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0


Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 83,697
Confirmed Cases: 80,610
Probable Cases: 3087
Recovered Cases: 75,312

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

STATE TREASURER DENNIS MILLIGAN ELECTED 2021 NATIONAL CHAIR OF FINANCIAL GROUP
State Financial Officers Foundation promotes fiscal responsibility
Little Rock, Ark. – Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan was elected last night as the 2021 National Chair of the State Financial Officers Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes fiscally responsible public policies nationwide.

“It’s a great honor and a privilege to have been elected by my peers to this national position,” Milligan said. “I’ve always been very passionate about fiscal responsibility, so this is a natural fit for me. I look forward to serving Arkansans by helping to promote sound fiscal policy throughout the state and country.”

“The State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) is proud to have Treasurer Milligan as chair of our board,” said SFOF President Derek Kreifels. “He has transformed the Arkansas Treasury into a world-class office with his vision. He is constantly challenging his team to discover the best ways to do their job, and I have no doubt those leadership skills will enhance SFOF as well.

Grant Wallace, Milligan’s Chief Deputy Treasurer, received the State Government Staff Outstanding Leadership Award from the organization as well.

“His deputy treasurer, Grant Wallace, has been a key member of our board as a staff representative during the last year, always stepping in to serve when asked and doing so enthusiastically,” Kreifels continued. “We appreciate Grant’s willingness to serve and felt this leadership award was well-deserved.”

The State Financial Officers Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is focused on promoting fiscally responsible public policies nationwide.
 

MALVERN MAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR FIREARMS POSSESSION
Fort Smith, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that James Rhodes, age 35, was sentenced today to 120 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm.  The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

According to court records, on or about December 9, 2019, Rhodes, having previously been convicted of a felony offense, was arrested for shoplifting and found to possess methamphetamine. During the investigation, Investigators learned that Rhodes had been staying at a hotel and that additional methamphetamine and a firearm were located in the hotel room.  Investigators were able to verify that Rhodes had rented a room at a hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas. A search of the room resulted in Investigators locating a loaded handgun.

A federal grand jury indicted Rhodes in January 2020, and he entered a guilty plea in May 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 Rogers Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Fire, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF). Assistant United States Attorney Amy Driver prosecuted the case for the United States.

 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: OPERATION CORRUPT COLLECTION: NATIONWIDE CRACKDOWN ON PHANTOM AND ABUSIVE DEBT COLLECTION
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and more than 50 federal and state law enforcement partners announced today a nationwide law enforcement and outreach initiative called Operation Corrupt Collector. The goal of this initiative is to protect consumers in Arkansas and nationwide from phantom debt collection and abusive, threatening debt collection practices.

“Scammers are creative and conniving when trying to steal from Arkansans and I won’t stand for it,” said General Leslie Rutledge. “Operation Corrupt Collector is a nationwide effort to help Arkansans resist the high-pressure, deceptive tactics that lure them into repaying debts they don’t owe.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers who receive abusive or misleading debt collection inquiries:

Debt collection phone calls are only allowed to a consumer’s home during the hours of 8 AM to 9 PM.  Legitimate debt collectors cannot harass, intimidate, threaten, or embarrass consumers and cannot make false or misleading statements, including false threats of imprisonment or criminal charges.

If a caller requests payment of a suspicious debt, then request a written verification of the debt.  A legitimate collection agency is governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  When asked by a consumer, it must provide written verification of the debt, including the name of the original creditor. 

Keep detailed records, and report the debt collector to the Arkansas Attorney General's Office, the Federal Trade Commission or the Arkansas State Board of Collection Agencies if wrongdoing is suspected.

The Operation Corrupt Collector initiative includes 54 total enforcement actions brought by the FTC, other federal agencies, and various state agencies against debt collectors engaged in these illegal practices. In coordination with 46 states, Arkansas joins with the FTC in rolling out new information to help consumers know their rights when it comes to debt collection and what steps to take if they receive a call trying to collect on a debt that they do not recognize. The FTC has also created a new online dashboard with information about reports received from consumers on debts not owed and abusive and threatening collection practices. So far in 2020, the FTC has received more than 85,000 reports from consumers related to debt collection, and nearly 45 percent of those were related to debts the consumer did not owe or abusive and threatening practices.
 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE SAYS FAYETTEVILLE
HEALTH CENTER OVER COVID-19 IMMUNITY BOOST SCAMS 

Medical center fraudulently targets Latino community with expensive treatments
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has  announced a lawsuit against Arkansas Regenerative Medical Center LTD (ARMC), the firm’s medical director Sarah Knife Chief, M.D., and chiropractor Serge Francois, D.C. for fraudulently promoting to Northwest Arkansas’s Latino community expensive stem cell and ozone therapies, costing upwards of $3,000, to combat COVID-19.

“I will not allow Arkansans to fall prey to fraudulent COVID cures, especially when the scams take advantage of a language and cultural barrier,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This business preyed on public fear and targeted a minority community for personal gain. I will continue to work to hold accountable those who exploit consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In early 2020, ARMC, Chief, and Francois used a popular Hispanic radio station and even employed the station’s DJ in an effort to reach Latino consumers, who were being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. ARMC advertised on its website and Facebook page stem cell treatments and ozone therapy, claiming that they were “very effective” against COVID-19 and would allow employees to return to work more quickly. Consumers were charged upwards of $3,000 for the useless treatments. The CDC states there are no known drugs or other therapeutics presently approved by the FDA to prevent or treat COVID-19.

The lawsuit was filed in Washington County Circuit Court under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Rutledge seeks restitution for affected consumers, civil penalties, injunctive relief and other costs and fees incurred by the State of Arkansas in resolving this issue for consumers.

If you are a consumer who has been impacted by similar actions, Rutledge encourages you to contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

ARKANSAS SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNITY ENDORSES FRENCH HILL FOR RE-ELECTION
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Sept. 30, 2020) — The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, today endorsed Congressman French Hill for re-election to the United States House of Representatives.

 “Congressman French Hill truly understands the issues our members are facing,” said Sylvester Smith, NFIB’s Arkansas State Director. “He has been a champion on small business tax priorities and has protected small business owners’ privacy throughout his time in Congress. Congressman Hill has always made himself available for our members, and even participated in an NFIB Small Business Challenge where he worked at one of our small businesses for a day. Small businesses need strong representatives in office, and Congressman Hill is just that. On behalf of our members in Arkansas, we are proud to endorse him today for re-election.”

 “Congressman Hill has demonstrated his support for our members both in Arkansas and across the country,” said NFIB National Political Director Sharon Sussin. “We are confident that he will continue to be a leader on the issues our members care about, and we are pleased to endorse him today.”

 French Hill’s endorsement today comes from NFIB FedPAC, the organization’s political action committee. NFIB FedPAC is funded by NFIB member donations above membership dues. Decisions made by NFIB FedPAC are managed by a member-driven grassroots evaluation process. Small business owners are influential in their communities and NFIB members in Arkansas will work hard to re-elect French Hill. 
 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON PASSAGE OF BILL TO AVOID SHUTDOWN
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after
voting to pass a short-term extension to keep the federal government funded through December 11, 2020:

“Governing by short-term extensions is a less than desirable option. Congress should pass individual funding bills each year to avoid the chronic budget uncertainty that makes it difficult to plan for the future. Regular order is the best way to reduce government spending, balance our budget and prioritize the needs of federal agencies.

However, a government shutdown is the last thing we need in the midst of a public health emergency and an economic crisis. Important pandemic response and economic relief programs that the American people are counting on would be stopped or disrupted if not for this bill.

I am pleased that we reached an agreement that included full reimbursement to the Commodity Credit Corporation in this legislation. Our farmers and ranchers have faced more than enough challenges this year – extreme weather events, low commodity prices, market volatility, a global pandemic and the list just goes on and on and on. They don’t need Washington to make things even more difficult.”
 

COTTON AND CRAWFORD INTRODUCE BILL TO PROTECT AMERICAN AGRICULTURE FROM CHINESE ESPIONAGE
Washington, D.C.  — Today, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced the Agricultural Intelligence Measures (AIM) Act, a bill that would establish an Office of Intelligence within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This office would leverage the assets of the intelligence community to better protect U.S. agriculture from foreign threats posed by countries like China. The bill text may be found here.

Representative Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. 

“The Chinese Communist Party wants to undermine vital American industries through sabotage and intellectual property theft—U.S. agriculture is no exception. Our bill will help safeguard the food and technology that our country depends on for its prosperity and freedom,” said Cotton.

 “The powerhouse that is American agriculture is a product of years of research and serves as an example of our nation’s ingenuity. It is a national security imperative that we safeguard our agriculture sector from foreign threats such as espionage, intellectual theft, and biological attacks. The AIM Act and its companion bill in the Senate both play a critical role in taking a proactive approach to foreign attacks on our nation’s agriculture,” said Crawford.

Background:
In 2014, Chinese researchers were accused of stealing patented corn and later sentenced to prison.
In 2018, a Chinese national was sentenced to 121 months in federal prison for attempting to steal rice research for China.
In 2019, a Chinese national who worked at Monsanto was indicted on economic espionage charges.
The USDA is currently investigating suspicious, unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to have been sent from China to the United States. 

September 29, 2020

CASES OF COVID-19 IN ARKANSAS TOPPED 80,000 ON TUESDAY. 
During his COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced 482 cases confirmed over the past 24 hours, raising the statewide total to 80,003. Recoveries followed suit with over 72,000 Arkansans catching the virus and beating it since the pandemic began. Deaths, however, saw another day of moderately high growth with an additional 21 since Monday. That raises the total to 1,204. Hospitalizations saw a net decrease to 490. While lower than the 520-peak hit over the summer, current hospitalizations remain higher than those recorded for most of the first half of the month. 

Hutchinson provided updated information on cases of the virus within Arkansas schools and colleges. Among public schools the state has confirmed 748 active cases as of Monday. In colleges and universities that total is 490. Both figures are less than those recorded a week ago, especially at the college level.

State officials also announced they had hit and surpassed their goal of performing one million tests since the start of the outbreak. The ramped up testing effort is part of the state's winter strategy against COVID-19. Hutchinson said his goal is to test at least six percent of Arkansans each month through the rest of the year. 

Other figures provided Tuesday showed Northwest Arkansas continues to lead the state in new cases while Southwest Arkansas is seeing the fewest. 

New cases over the past days and weeks have been moderately high. The seven-day rolling average has risen to approximately 750 new cases a day. Hutchinson attempted to explain why cases are growing after seeing a downward trend earlier this month. Increased testing is one of the big factors, he said.

State health experts say Arkansas' positivity rate is continuing to drop. That's a sign, they say, of an improving COVID-19 situation in the state. With a reduced positivity rate, new cases, deaths and hospitalizations should drop. 

Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key spoke to clarify the cancellation of football games and other events on the high school level. These cancellations aren't coming from the state level, but from local decisions. That's the kind of flexibility and local decision making the state wants its school districts to maintain, said Key.

In review, 482 new cases were reported on Tuesday for a statewide cumulative total of 80,003. Hospitalizations experienced a net decrease of six to 490. Deaths increased by 21 to 1,204. There are slightly more than 6,000 active cases in the state. More than 72,000 Arkansans have recovered since the pandemic began. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.


COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 29, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 263
Confirmed Cases: 256
Probable Cases: 7
Total Active Cases: 29
Active Confirmed Cases: 27
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 228
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 223
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 894
Confirmed Cases: 871
Probable Cases: 23
Total Active Cases: 33
Active Confirmed Cases: 27
Active Probable Cases: 6
Total Recovered Cases: 823
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 811
Recovered Probable Cases: 12
Total Deaths: 37
Confirmed Deaths: 32
Probable Deaths: 5


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 469
Confirmed Cases: 443
Probable Cases: 26
Total Active Cases: 75
Active Confirmed Cases: 61
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 376
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 364
Recovered Probable Cases: 12
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 163
Confirmed Cases: 162
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 9
Active Confirmed Cases: 9
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 150
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 149
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 4
Confirmed Deaths: 4
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 36
Confirmed Cases: 35
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 2
Active Confirmed Cases: 2
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 34
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 33
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 82,049
Confirmed Cases: 79,521
Probable Cases: 2,528
Recovered Cases: 73,573

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

HARMONY GROVE NATIONAL HONOR SOCIETY SPONSORS BLOOD DRIVE
The Harmony Grove National Honor Society is sponsoring a Blood Drive Friday, October 16th from 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. in the Arena Foyer for Class of 2021 scholarships!  Every blood donation “earns” the opportunity to VOTE for the senior you wish to receive a $250 Scholarship! The group needs over 75 donors total for all the blood drives they sponsor during the 2020-2021 school year. There is a t-shirt for every donor and a chance to have free COVID antibody test for donors! High school students who donate 6 times before graduation earn a blood donation honor cord! 

Donors are asked to wear a mask and come free of COVID symptoms. 

16-year olds may donate with signed permission forms available in the counselor’s office.

18-year olds and younger need a permission form to be screened for COVID antibodies.

 All adult donors may be screened for COVID antibodies to identify potential convalescent plasma donors.

Anyone in the community who wishes to donate may call 574-0656 to sign up. Students sign up in counselor’s office and pick up permission forms.

FREE ONLINE SEMINAR – IDENTIFYING WEAKNESSES IN YOUR STRATEGY
This Seminar will look at your Digital Market Scorecard and help identify weaknesses in your Strategy. This Seminar will be held on October 6th beginning at 8:30 AM. Brought to you by the Camden Downtown Network and Think Institute. T sign up text your name, contact number and email to 870-807-1468.
For these and other stories, visit www.yesradioworks.com

SEPTEMBER 28, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 28, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 263
Confirmed Cases: 256
Probable Cases: 7
Total Active Cases: 34
Active Confirmed Cases: 32
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 215
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 223
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 892
Confirmed Cases: 870
Probable Cases: 22
Total Active Cases: 34
Active Confirmed Cases: 29
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 821
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 809
Recovered Probable Cases: 12
Total Deaths: 36
Confirmed Deaths: 31
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 451
Confirmed Cases: 425
Probable Cases: 26
Total Active Cases: 78
Active Confirmed Cases: 64
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 355
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 343
Recovered Probable Cases: 14
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 162
Confirmed Cases: 161
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 10
Active Confirmed Cases: 10
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 148
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 147
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 4
Confirmed Deaths: 4
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 36
Confirmed Cases: 35
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 2
Active Confirmed Cases: 2
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 34
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 33
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 81,242
Confirmed Cases: 78,735
Probable Cases: 2,507
Recovered Cases: 72,602

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

RAYTHEON AWARDED NEW CONTRACT
Raytheon Missiles and Defense, Tucson, Arizona, is awarded a $45,260,184 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-18-C-5407 for procurement of fiscal 2020 Navy Standard Missile-2 and Standard Missile-6 depot and intermediate level provisioned items ordered spares.  Work will be performed in Tucson, Arizona (41%); Camden, Arkansas (40%); Joplin, Missouri (5%); Anaheim, California (3%); Andover, Massachusetts (3%); Minneapolis, Minnesota (3%); and miscellaneous locations - each less than 1% (5%), and is expected to be completed by March 2023.  Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance (Navy; 67%); fiscal 2018 weapons procurement (Navy; 15%); fiscal 2020 weapons procurement (Navy; 13%); fiscal 2014 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy; 4%); and fiscal 2019 weapons procurement (Navy; 1%) funding in the amount of $45,260,184 will be obligated at time of award, of which, funds in the amount of $36,899,712 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE STATEMENT ON PRESIDENT TRUMP'S NOMINATION OF JUDGE BARRETT FOR U.S. SUPREME COURT
Says, ‘resume, experience and deeply held faith make her the perfect selection for our country’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Donald J. Trump.
“President Trump has once again nominated an exceptional legal scholar to serve on the nation’s highest court and protect our Constitution,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Judge Barrett has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since 2017. Before that, she distinguished herself as a constitutional scholar during nearly two decades as a respected member of the faculty at her alma mater Notre Dame Law School after clerking for Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Barrett has published many articles in leading law reviews throughout the country. She has done all this while raising seven children. Judge Barrett’s resume, experience and deeply held faith make her the perfect selection for our country. I look forward to working with President Trump and the U.S. Senate to assist with getting Judge Barrett confirmed.”

 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT NOMINEE JUDGE AMY CONEY BARRETT
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve as Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court:
“I congratulate Amy Coney Barrett on her nomination to serve as a member of the Supreme Court. With her extensive legal and academic experience, she is well qualified for the job. As with previous justices nominated by President Trump, Judge Barrett has shown that she understands her Constitutional role and refrains from legislating from the bench. I have every reason to believe she will continue that same approach on the nation’s highest court. I look forward to meeting her and evaluating her nomination on the merits as the Senate proceeds with the confirmation process.”

COTTON STATEMENT ON THE NOMINATION OF AMY CONEY BARRETT TO THE SUPREME COURT
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today released the following statement on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court:
 “Judge Amy Coney Barrett is one of the finest legal minds of her generation and has now proven to be a wise judge as well. I congratulate Judge Barrett on her nomination and I commend President Trump for another outstanding choice. The Senate voted to confirm Judge Barrett to the Court of Appeals not even three years ago; since then, she has exceeded our high expectations for faithfully applying the law and upholding our Constitution. I therefore look forward to voting promptly for Judge Barrett next month and confirming her to the highest court in the land.”

September 25, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 25, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.


 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 254
Confirmed Cases: 248
Probable Cases: 6
Total Active Cases: 33
Active Confirmed Cases: 31
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 215
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 211
Recovered Probable Cases: 4
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 874
Confirmed Cases: 854
Probable Cases: 20
Total Active Cases: 33
Active Confirmed Cases: 28
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 808
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 798
Recovered Probable Cases: 10
Total Deaths: 32
Confirmed Deaths: 27
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 412
Confirmed Cases: 388
Probable Cases: 24
Total Active Cases: 53
Active Confirmed Cases: 40
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 341
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 330
Recovered Probable Cases: 11
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 161
Confirmed Cases: 160
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 13
Active Confirmed Cases: 13
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 145
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 144
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 3
Confirmed Deaths: 3
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 34
Confirmed Cases: 33
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 4
Active Confirmed Cases: 4
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 30
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 29
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 79,049
Confirmed Cases: 76,6766
Probable Cases: 2,373
Recovered Cases: 70,737
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

SAAC ANNOUNCES DATES FOR EL DORADO FILM FESTIVAL • NOVEMBER 13-14
The South Arkansas Arts Center is pleased to announce scheduled dates and social distancing protocols for the El Dorado Film Festival. In response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the event, originally planned for October 8-10, will instead be held November 13-14 at the Murphy Arts District's First Financial Music Hall. Presented by SAAC and sponsored by Suddenlink, the festival is pleased to have the opportunity to work within MAD's larger space in order to present an in-person event.
"El Dorado Film Festival has always been a home-grown event with an emphasis on relationships and hospitality. We've always had a pretty small footprint, for better or for worse, so we can remain adaptable in these uncertain times," said Alexander Jeffery, executive director of the El Dorado Film Festival. "Being able to utilize this massive event space allows us to really spread people out and keep our audience safe, while still putting on in-person screenings for our filmmakers."
At full capacity, the music hall is capable of seating up to 1,800 people. Festival organizers have worked to develop an adaptable seating plan that can accommodate 200 festival goers in socially distanced, reserved seating "pods" of up to 6, allowing groups to enjoy films together. Masks will be required (unless eating or drinking concessions), sanitization stations will be readily available throughout the venue, and surfaces will be sanitized every two hours.
"SAAC is thrilled to be able to present this event again this year, and we are so excited that Alex and his team have been able to work on such creative solutions to social distancing," said Laura Allen, executive director of SAAC. "The El Dorado Film Festival will be a wonderful way to enjoy the connection and engagement that the arts provide, in a safe and accessible environment."
Throughout the two-day event, 30 films from 10 countries will be screened in competition for the festival's prizes, along with the winning films from this year's virtual Louisiana Film Prize.
Weekend passes to the festival will be available for $30 and include access to all films. Attendees can purchase all seats in a pod of 6 for $150, a $30 discount. Pods must be purchased in a single transaction, and all seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tickets will be available through the South Arkansas Arts Center Box Office soon. Visit www.saac-arts.org or call 870-862-5474 for details.

 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN COMMENDS PRESIDENT TRUMP ON DECISION TO FILL SUPREME COURT VACANCY
Says, Presidential and Senate powers 'don't change simply because it's an election year'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin released the following statement on President Donald Trump's decision to nominate a justice to fill the seat left vacant by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 
 "President Donald Trump has the constitutional authority to nominate a justice for the Supreme Court, and the Senate has the same authority to advise and consent. Those powers don’t change simply because it’s an election year. It’s that simple. The rest is politics. President Trump is right to fill the vacant seat with a qualified nominee. It is true that the Supreme Court nomination process has become quite political. But that is in large part because of how Senate Democrats smeared the character of good men like Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh. In fact, the Democrats' assault on Bork was so out of the ordinary that the term 'Borking' a judicial nominee came to represent the character assasination of an otherwise qualified nominee. Harry Reid's elimination of the filibuster made court politics even more toxic. These abuses of power and partisan games contributed significantly to the partisan nomination process we have today."


BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES MILITARY SERVICE OF WWII VETERAN FROM PINE BLUFF
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service of World War II veteran Fulton William Walker in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Walker was born in Emerson, Arkansas in 1923. He was raised on the family farm with his 10 brothers and sisters. After graduating high school, Walker was drafted into the Army when he was 19-years-old and began his military service on July 29, 1943.

Walker’s father was visibly shaken by his son’s departure. “I already had three brothers in service, and when I was called it was almost more than my father could bear,” Walker said.

During his training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Walker learned how to drive a truck, a skill that would be key to his success overseas.
“I didn’t know how to drive anything. I hadn’t even learned to drive a car,” Walker remarked. After arriving in England, Walker and other African American soldiers didn’t receive a warm welcome. They were treated poorly simply because the color of their skin. When his mission took him to France and Germany, he recalls being treated well.

Walker was part of the famous Red Ball Express, an operation primarily manned by African American soldiers that convoyed much-needed supplies to Allied forces for 82 days. The Red Ball Express played a vital role in helping bring an end to the war in Europe.

“We just traveled, sometimes [for] days, sometimes under dark, it just depends where we were,” Walked said.

During his assignment with the Red Ball Express, Walker developed a friendship with James Williams, a fellow Arkansan. “We called him ‘royal jester’…because he liked to have a lot of fun,” Walker fondly recalled.

Following the end of the war, he remained in Germany to help rebuild and restore the country. Some of his missions included transporting German POWs back to their hometowns. 

“It looked like a tornado had come through it.” He became friends with the locals and was eventually sent off with a memorable farewell filled with gifts and gestures to remember his stay.

When he returned stateside, Walker used the GI Bill to continue his education and enrolled at AM&N College, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where he studied English and social studies. While in school, Walker married his high school sweetheart. The couple had one daughter, Phyllis Keele Walker.

After college, Walker became an educator, coach and principal in rural Arkansas. In 1965, he was hired by the Pine Bluff School District where he served as a principal for several schools and eventually oversaw all federal programs in the district.

While he had much success in education, he is most proud of being a role model for his family.

“Fulton Walker’s dedication to serving others, whether it be in the military or in his community, is inspiring and a reminder that a single person can make a difference. I am extremely grateful for his service and I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his stories,” Boozman said.

In February, Boozman presented Walker with the service medals he earned including the Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medals and the World War II Victory Medal.

Boozman will submit Walker’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.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW
From Senator Trent Garner
September 25, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas cities and counties that have been hit hard by the economic impact of the coronavirus can apply for help, after legislators approved the use of $150 million for relief grants.

Cities and counties can apply online for expense reimbursements, with a total limit for the 499 municipalities in Arkansas set at $75 million. The total limit for the state’s 75 counties will be the same amount.

Cities and counties must provide documentation, to prove that the expenses are allowed to be reimbursed with federal CARES Act funds.

CARES is an acronym that stands for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. It was approved by Congress and signed by the president in March to offset the financial impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Arkansas is to receive about $1.25 billion in total from the act.

Legislators and state officials intend for the grant process to move quickly. The first deadline for applying is October 30, with another deadline on November 16 for applications that may be incomplete.

The Legislative Council approved the use of $150 million in CARES Act funds for relief for cities and counties. The Council is the legislative body that monitors state government operations in the interim between sessions.

During discussion, legislators confirmed from the officials who will administer the grants that cities can be reimbursed for the cost of helping residents with utility bills. The state Department of Finance and Administration will disburse the grants to cities and counties.

Many utilities have not cut off service for non-payment of bills, because of policies enacted to help people who lost their jobs or businesses due to the coronavirus.

An official of DFA said that grants would reimburse local governments for rental assistance, mortgage assistance and food banks.

A related effort is in the works to help the Arkansas tourism industry. The state Parks, Heritage and Tourism Department is writing a list of allowable reimbursements that will provide financial help for the hospitality and service industries.

Senators on the Legislative Council said tourism has been especially hard hit by the pandemic. They are working to see that some CARES Act relief is disbursed to local convention and visitors bureaus, because those local agencies promote business in local hotels, restaurants, gift shops and tourist destinations.

Higher Education Enrollment Declines

An indicator of how the coronavirus is affecting Arkansas is that only three public institutions of higher education reported an increase in enrollment in undergraduates for the fall semester. They are the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (10.5 percent), the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (29 percent) and Southern Arkansas University Tech at Camden (2.1 percent).

The enrollment figures don’t account for students in nearby high schools taking concurrent classes.

Another factor in the enrollment decline is that colleges and universities have changed their focus to retaining and graduating students, rather than boosting enrollment numbers. Over the past five years, the number of students in higher education in Arkansas has dropped 13.2 percent, from 115,468 to 100,241

SEPTEMBER 24, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 24, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.





COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 252
Confirmed Cases: 246
Probable Cases: 6
Total Active Cases: 36
Active Confirmed Cases: 34
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 210
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 206
Recovered Probable Cases: 4
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 858
Confirmed Cases: 838
Probable Cases: 20
Total Active Cases: 27
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 6
Total Recovered Cases: 798
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 789
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 32
Confirmed Deaths: 27
Probable Deaths: 5
COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 399
Confirmed Cases: 380
Probable Cases: 19
Total Active Cases: 45
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 8
Total Recovered Cases: 336
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 325
Recovered Probable Cases: 11
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 158
Confirmed Cases: 157
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 12
Active Confirmed Cases: 12
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 143
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 142
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 3
Confirmed Deaths: 3
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 34
Confirmed Cases: 33
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 4
Active Confirmed Cases: 4
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 30
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 29
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 77,963
Confirmed Cases: 75,646
Probable Cases: 2,317
Recovered Cases: 69,952

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

HOT SPRINGS WOMAN SENTENCED TO 14 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG POSSESSION
Fayetteville, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Michelle Friedman, age 38, was sentenced yesterday to 168 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release for Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine.  The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

According to court records, on or about January 3, 2020, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) learned that Friedman was purported to be selling methamphetamine from a hotel room in Fayetteville, Arkansas. These agents contacted Friedman's supervising parole officer and learned that Friedman had an active arrest warrant for absconding supervision, and had an active search waiver on file.

DEA agents and her Parole officer located Friedman in her hotel room and made contact with her. Friedman immediately advised officers that everything in the room belonged to her. During a search of the room, Officers located a box and a flashlight that contained methamphetamine, as well as a digital scale.

The DEA crime lab tested the seized methamphetamine and determined that it contained 627grams of methamphetamine.

A federal grand jury indicted Friedman in March 2020, and she entered a guilty plea in June 2020.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Arkansas Probation and Parole.  Assistant United States Attorney Hunter Bridges prosecuted the case for the United States.
 

FIVE ARKANSAS SCHOOLS NAMED 2020 NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLS 
LITTLE ROCK — The U.S. Department of Education today named five Arkansas schools as 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The schools are recognized for their overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

Exemplary High Performing Schools
Bernice Young Elementary School in the Springdale School District
Jefferson Elementary School in the Little Rock School District
Saint Joseph Catholic School (Fayetteville) in the Diocese of Little Rock
Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools
Crawford Elementary School in the Russellville School District
Eudora Elementary School in the Lakeside School District (Chicot County)

“Congratulations to these five schools on achieving this prestigious national honor,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “These schools serve as role models to all schools in the state and demonstrate the importance of providing an excellent education to all students.”

The 317 public and 50 non-public National Blue Ribbon Schools from across the country will be recognized November 12 and 13 during a virtual awards ceremony. To learn more about the program, visit https://www2.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/index.html

 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: TAKE A PASS ON FAKE ONLINE SELLERS
LITTLE ROCK – Over the last several years and as COVID-19 has changed Arkansans’ daily routines, shopping online has become the new normal when purchasing necessities, gifts and even school supplies. While many sites may look honest and trustworthy, they sometimes have no intention of delivering the product that has been advertised. 

“Scam websites can take advantage of Arkansans through fake advertising on social media at unrealistic rock-bottom prices,” said Attorney General Rutledge.  “Consumers should be careful and avoid purchases from suspicious websites until they research the seller and determine whether the seller can be trusted.”

Attorney General Rutledge offers several tips for Arkansans shopping online.

Don’t fall for lower-than-expected prices.  If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Do your research.  Use an internet search engine and the Better Business Bureau website to look for reviews of the company and check any buyer feedback, and determine what the seller’s return policy is.

Find out where the seller is located and do a search to verify the address.  Sometimes sellers will give a false address to make it appear as if they’re located in the United States. If the seller is overseas, returns and refunds can be complicated by the existence of international laws that lack consumer protections.

Pay with a secure payment method such as a credit card or PayPal.  Avoid wire transfers and gift card payments.  Before entering personal information, confirm that any payment information provided online is through a secure website with a “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar and the letters “https” in the URL address.

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

 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE JOINS PRESIDENT TRUMP ANDATTORNEY GENERAL BARR FOR DISCUSSION ON SOCIAL MEDIA CENSORSHIP
Says, ‘it has become clear that these sites have actually been censoring speech based on political ideology’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge participated in a roundtable discussion yesterday with President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr on censorship experienced by Americans using various social media platforms.
“Arkansans have been misled to believe that social media platforms are neutral sites. But it has become clear that these sites have actually been censoring speech based on political ideology,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “During today’s meeting with President Trump and General Barr we discussed how we can partner to investigate any deceptive trade practices under Arkansas law.”

The meeting follows Executive Order 13925, signed by President Trump in May that combats censorship of users by online platforms.
 

COTTON, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO ALLOW AWARDING MEDAL OF HONOR TO SFC CASHE
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today introduced a bill that would give the president authority to award posthumously the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class (SFC) Alwyn Cashe. 

SFC Cashe exemplified the finest traditions of military heroism when he disregarded his own safety and saved the lives of six fellow soldiers despite his serious injuries during Operation Iraqi Freedom in October of 2005. Cashe later died from his wounds, which included severe burns over 70% of his body.

The bill text may be found here. Representatives Brian Crenshaw (R-Texas), Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida), and Michael Waltz (R-Florida) passed companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Mr. Cashe’s incredible bravery on the battlefield in the service of his fellow Americans is worthy of the Medal of Honor. Unfortunately, current law prevents us from appropriately recognizing his service. Our bill will waive the current statutory limitations so that the president can ensure Mr. Cashe’s memory is honored by our grateful nation,” said Cotton.

“The actions of Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe exemplified the best of our military and nation. He made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. SFC Cashe without a doubt deserves to posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and selflessness. This legislation also shows that while we may be in divisive times, Congress and the American people can come together to recognize heroic efforts of our military. I am proud of our bicameral bipartisanship and I look forward to witnessing SFC Cashe finally receive the recognition he rightfully deserves,” said Manchin.

“Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe, a native of Florida, served our country with remarkable courage, and he deserves to be awarded the Medal of Honor,” Rubio said. “I am proud to introduce this legislation that will allow his legacy of service to be given the honor and recognition he deserves,” said Rubio.

“Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe displayed incredible heroism and bravery while serving our nation, risking his own life to save six others. He truly represents what it means to be an American hero and is undoubtedly a worthy recipient of the Medal of Honor. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this legislation, which would allow the President to posthumously award Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe with this great honor,” said Scott.

“Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe showed truly extraordinary heroism, selflessly sacrificing his own life to save his fellow soldiers. He is undeniably deserving of our nation’s highest recognition of valor, the Medal of Honor. This legislation will ensure that our country can appropriately honor SFC Cashe’s remarkable courage and pay our deepest respects to his family,” said Blumenthal.

“Mr. Cashe demonstrated incredible bravery and selflessly saving the lives of six of his fellow soldiers in the face of danger,” Cruz said. “Mr. Cashe should be remembered for his heroic service to our country. I’m proud to cosponsor this important legislation to ensure the Medal of Honor can be awarded to those most deserving.”


U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY ELAINE L. CHAO ANNOUNCES $335 MILLION IN INFRASTRUCTURE GRANTS TO AMERICA’S AIRPORTS
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced today that the Trump Administration will award $335 million in airport safety and infrastructure grants through the Fedeeral Aviation Administration  (FAA) to 80 airports in 25 states.

 “Airport infrastructure projects funded by this $335 million in federal funding will advance safety, improve travel, generate jobs and provide other economic benefits for local communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

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

 The total includes $300 million from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and $35 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants to equal a 100 percent federal share.
 

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS INCLUSION OF FUNDS TO ENSURE CERTAINTY, PREDICTABILITY FOR FARMERS AND RANCHERS IN BILL TO AVOID SHUTDOWN
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Committee, spoke on the Senate floor in support of the agreement that was reached to ensure a full reimbursement of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) in the continuing resolution that passed the House of Representatives.

The House’s initial version of the bill—which Congress needs to pass to avert a government shutdown—did not include the CCC reimbursement. This was a break from previous funding bills, which always included provisions to ensure critical Farm Bill programs are implemented.

Boozman and his colleagues on the Senate Agriculture Committee worked with House Republicans to successfully push for inclusion of the CCC reimbursement in a revised version of the bill.

“We are here today to commend our Republican leadership for forging a bipartisan compromise on a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown. And in particular, I’m so pleased that we reached an agreement that included full reimbursement to the Commodity Credit Corporation. For decades, the CCC has been routinely reimbursed without fanfare, but unfortunately, not so this year,” Boozman said. “Our farmers and ranchers have faced more than enough challenges this year – extreme weather events, low commodity prices, market volatility, a global pandemic and the list just goes on and on and on. They don’t need Washington to make things even more difficult.”

“These 61 AIP grants will allow airports around the country to begin and complete projects that are vital to the safe and efficient operation of our nation’s airports,” said FAA Administrator Stephen M. Dickson.

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.

Since January 2017, the Trump Administration has delivered $14.5 billion to America’s airports to improve infrastructure and safety. Additionally, this year the Administration has delivered $10 billion in economic assistance to America’s airports under the CARES Act to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
 

SEPTEMBER 23, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 23, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 252
Confirmed Cases: 246
Probable Cases: 6
Total Active Cases: 36
Active Confirmed Cases: 34
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 210
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 206
Recovered Probable Cases: 4
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 858
Confirmed Cases: 838
Probable Cases: 20
Total Active Cases: 27
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 6
Total Recovered Cases: 798
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 789
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 32
Confirmed Deaths: 27
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 399
Confirmed Cases: 380
Probable Cases: 19
Total Active Cases: 45
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 8
Total Recovered Cases: 336
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 325
Recovered Probable Cases: 11
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 158
Confirmed Cases: 157
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 12
Active Confirmed Cases: 12
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 143
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 142
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 3
Confirmed Deaths: 3
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 34
Confirmed Cases: 33
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 4
Active Confirmed Cases: 4
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 30
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 29
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 77,963
Confirmed Cases: 75,646
Probable Cases: 2,317
Recovered Cases: 69,952

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

“STEP UP” TO PREVENT FLU
This information from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is for Veterans and their families. This fact sheet explains steps you can take to help stop the spread of flu!  Each year in the U.S., thousands die and many more are hospitalized because of flu.

 

 


Step 1 Get your flu shot
Everyone age 6 months and older is recommended to get a flu shot each year by VA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Getting a flu shot is the best way to slow the spread of flu from person to person.
Get a flu shot every year as flu viruses can change from year to year.
Anyone can get flu, but some people are at high risk for complications from flu:
people age 65 and older
people with health problems like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and other chronic illnesses or conditions
pregnant women or people caring for an infant or a family member with health problems.

Step 2 Know how flu is spread
When a person with flu sneezes, coughs, talks, or laughs, flu virus can spread into the air as droplets.
The droplets can spread to people and surfaces up to 6 feet away.
Flu virus can spread to your hands if you touch anything that has the virus on it. If you then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you might get flu.
A person can spread flu to others about 1 day before they feel sick and up to 5 days after getting sick.

Step 3 Know the symptoms of flu
Fever (100o F or higher)
Body and muscle aches
Headache
Feeling tired or weak (can be extreme)
Cough
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Nausea and vomiting
Stomach symptoms (mostly in children)

Step 4 Clean your hands AND surfaces around you
Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
Use paper towels to dry hands or don’t share cloth towels.
Clean your hands:
before eating or preparing food
before and after caring for someone who is sick
after coughing or sneezing
after using the bathroom
Flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours.
Clean surfaces that are touched often such as: phones, faucets, light switches, countertops, door and cabinet handles,
keyboard and mouse, and TV remotes.

Step 5 Cover your coughs and sneezes
Use clean tissues and discard after each use.
Coughing or sneezing into your sleeve is OK when you don’t have a tissue.
Always clean your hands after coughing or sneezing.

Step 6 Stay home when sick
Because flu spreads easily from person to person, stay home when you are sick.
Studies show you are most contagious and likely to spread flu virus to others for at least 5 days after your first symptoms start AND at least 48 hours after your last fever.

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?

www.publichealth.va.gov/flu
www.cdc.gov/flu
www.flu.gov

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, September 24th at Catherine's Bistro. The program will be presented by Nick May from Elite Fitness.

 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.

 

BOOZMAN-WARNER INITIATIVE TO BOOST VA SUICIDE PREVENTION HEADED TO PRESIDENT’S DESK
WASHINGTON– Congress is sending President Donald Trump legislation to expand veterans’ access to mental health services, which includes an initiative led by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA) to create a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grant program that leverages and supports veteran-serving non-profits and other community networks in order to reduce and prevent veteran suicides. The White House has expressed support for this approach and is expected to sign the bill into law.

House passage of the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act comes after the Senate unanimously approved the legislation in August to connect more veterans to local mental health treatment options and increase access to VA mental health care in rural areas and for hard-to-reach veterans. The Boozman-Warner provision will enhance coordination and planning of veteran mental health and suicide prevention services and better measure the effectiveness of these programs in order to reduce the alarming number of veteran suicides.

“This new approach will allow us to reach more veterans and support organizations that have a track record of success in suicide prevention. Delivering additional resources to community-based groups providing support and services to at-risk veterans will allow them to expand their outreach, identify more veterans in need and provide great access to mental health care. I’ve been proud to join Senator Warner in leading Senate efforts to devise a strategy that empowers veteran community organizations to work with the VA in the fight against veteran suicide. I’m glad this will soon become law,” Boozman said.

“Too many veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war are left struggling when their tours of duty conclude. Though we can never repay the enormous physical and mental sacrifices that our servicemembers make for our freedom and national security, we can give them the resources and tools they need to begin the lengthy process of healing,” said Warner. “That’s why I was proud to help write this legislation to tackle the alarming rate of veteran suicide, including through providing greater support to veteran-serving non-profits and community networks in order to reach more veterans. I can think of no better way to conclude National Suicide Prevention Month than by seeing this legislation head to the President’s desk. I urge President Trump to swiftly sign this important legislation into law.”

The senators’ initiative is based on the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act, legislation they introduced in June 2019. Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Jack Bergman (R-MI) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“As a veteran and Chair of the Servicewomen and Women Veterans Congressional Caucus, I am passionate about protecting those who have served our country,” said Houlahan. “There is a crisis amongst our veteran population – thousands are dying by suicide every year. Within this vulnerable population, it’s important to note that our women veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide as non-veteran women. In these partisan times, I’m grateful to work alongside fellow veteran, Representative Jack Bergman, and my colleagues in the Senate – Senators Tester and Boozman – to tackle this crisis head-on in our bipartisan Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act. I’m also grateful to Chairman Takano for his leadership on this issue and bringing this critical legislation to the House Floor. As a Congress and as a country, we have a duty to stand up for those who’ve put their lives on the line for this country. I look forward to the president signing S.785 into law, which includes our legislation, and the support it will provide our veterans.

"Even one suicide is too many. Despite billions of dollars spent within the VA, the statistics on veterans suicide haven't budged. For this reason, we need to implement new approaches that focus on individual veterans and reach even more of them than before. I'm grateful for the persistent effort of my colleagues who have helped make passing this legislation a possibility. Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, Senators Boozman, Tester and Moran, Secretary Robert Wilkie, and so many others have worked tirelessly with me to ensure our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country have access to the care and services they need and deserve," said Bergman. 
The VA estimates that around 20 veterans commit suicide each day. That number has unfortunately remained roughly unchanged despite drastic increases in VA 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 health care services at the VA. The Boozman-Warner provision empowers the VA to share information with veteran-serving non-profits and requires it to develop a tool to monitor progress so that resources can be concentrated on successful programs.

In January 2020, provisions of the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act were included in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. President Donald Trump included this approach to veteran suicide prevention in the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) which was rolled out in June.
 

SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES BOOZMAN-LED MEASURES TO EXPAND VETERANS BENEFITS
Approves Legislation Aimed at Reducing VA Backlog & Expansion of Benefits for Vietnam Vets
WASHINGTON— The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved a veterans benefits package that includes provisions authored and championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) including plans to cut down the increasing backlog of disability compensation and pension (C&P) exams and the expansion of wartime benefits for certain Vietnam veterans.

The Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020 would improve benefits for education, pensions, burial, compensation and other vital services veterans have earned.

“Committee passage of this legislation is a good step to fulfilling the commitment we made to the men and women who serve in uniform. I’m proud to work on behalf of veterans to advance policies that will improve their lives and will continue to ensure they receive the services and benefits they have earned,” Boozman said.

The legislation includes Boozman’s measure aimed at reducing the backlog of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) compensation and disability exams and claims by allowing additional medical professionals to perform C&P exams.

Many veterans are required to complete a C&P exam to verify their medical condition and eligibility when applying for VA benefits. The backlog has drastically grown to 600,000 as a result of the VA’s temporary suspension of exams during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The bill also incorporates the Forgotten Vietnam Veterans Act, legislation introduced by Boozman and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) 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 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.

Additional Boozman-led provisions in the Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020 include:
Authorizing the VA to put the names of veterans’ family members on headstones in private cemeteries. Currently, the
VA is only allowed to put veterans’ family members’ names on headstones in national, state veterans’ and tribal veterans’ cemeteries.
Updating VA funeral benefits to treat all non-service connected deaths equally, regardless of where the veteran passes away.
Modernizing the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to permit servicemembers to deliver notice of termination of residential and car leases electronically, including by email.
Expanding the list of work-study activities that that qualify for payment of work-study allowances under VA’s rehabilitation, training and education programs.

 

Arkansas AG logo

RUTLEDGE RECEIVES JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT LEGACY AWARD
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge received the Legacy Award from Junior Achievement of Arkansas (JA), honoring her visionary leadership in supporting the academic success of Arkansas’ youth. The purpose of Junior Achievement is to inspire and prepare young people for success in the global economy. The program is also dedicated to providing a positive and enriching learning experience while investing in more than 8,400 students in Central Arkansas. The Legacy Award recognizes individuals who display exceptional leadership in Arkansas.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by Junior Achievement, a fantastic organization on a mission to educate and make sure young people have the tools to

 take care of their communities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We want students to learn how to manage a budget early. Financial literacy is an important lesson Junior Achievement teaches kids from the classroom before they enter the workforce.”

Due to COVID-19, Rutledge accepted the award at JA’s Legacy Award Business Luncheon that was hosted virtually yesterday. It can be viewed on Talk

 Business and Politics’ website.

The Legacy Award was established in 2008 to honor visionary leaders who founded Junior Achievement of Arkansas in 1987. Along with Rutledge, AT&T Arkansas president Ronnie Dedman was also honored with the Legacy Award.

 

SEPTEMBER 22, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S WEEKLY COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 22, 2020
Gov. Asa Hutchinson held his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday to update Arkansans on the latest developments regarding the ongoing pandemic.

Concerning daily COVID-19 figures, Hutchinson reported an additional 486 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. That raises the state's cumulative total to 74,772. Deaths increased by 12 to 1,060. Hospitalizations continued a slight upward trend, raising by 12 to 459. That's still less than the peak hit earlier this summer. Hutchinson said over 6,800 COVID-19 tests were performed between Monday and Tuesday.

State health officials discussed several trends concerning the pandemic. At the moment, Northwest Arkansas is leading the state in the number of new COVID-19 cases. Southwest Arkansas is experiencing the lowest growth. The 18-to-24 age group is seeing the majority of new cases. That's likely due to the reopening of college campuses across the state. 

Hutchinson said the state hopes to reach a milestone on Oct. 20 of one million tests performed since testing began this past spring. Health experts across the nation have stressed the importance of quick and widespread testing to combat the pandemic.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, an infectious disease control specialist for the Arkansas Department of Health, stressed the importance of getting an influenza vaccination this year. She said the vaccine doesn't just lessen the effects of the flu or outright prevent it. Critically the vaccine will also reduce new hospitalizations - an important goal in the middle of a pandemic. 

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston reminded recipients of regular unemployment insurance that they must certify online to receive the additional $300 in weekly benefits. The certification process includes confirming that an individual's unemployment status is due to COVID-19. The deadline to certify is this Friday, Sept. 25. Anyone already approved for the special pandemic unemployment assistance is already certified and will not need to take any additional steps. 

Claims can be filed at www.dws.arkansas.gov

In review, 486 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday for a statewide total of 74,772 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by 12 to 1,060. Hospitalizations also grew by 12 to 459. 

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

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 22, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.




COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 247
Confirmed Cases: 241
Probable Cases: 6
Total Active Cases: 43
Active Confirmed Cases: 41
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 198
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 194
Recovered Probable Cases: 4
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Positive Tests: 252
Total Negative Tests: 4,959
Total Tests: 5,211

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 841
Confirmed Cases: 826
Probable Cases: 15
Total Active Cases: 23
Active Confirmed Cases: 20
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 786
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 779
Recovered Probable Cases: 7
Total Deaths: 31
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 5
Total Positive Tests: 840
Total Negative Tests: 7,901
Total Tests: 8,741

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Positive Tests: 840
PCR Positives: 826
Antigen Positives: 14
Total Negative Tests: 7,901
PCR Negatives: 7,871
Antigen Negatives: 30
Total Tests: 8,741
Total Positive Tests: 840
Total Negative Tests: 7,901
Total Tests: 8,741

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 156
Confirmed Cases: 155
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 13
Active Confirmed Cases: 13
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 141
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 140
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Positive Tests: 156
Total Negative Tests: 1,846
Total Tests: 2,002

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 34
Confirmed Cases: 33
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 28
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 27
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1,408
Total Positive Tests: 156
Total Negative Tests: 1,829
Total Tests: 1,985

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 76,364
Confirmed Cases: 74,286
Probable Cases: 2078
Recovered Cases: 68,456
Tests: 901,625
Negative Tests: 825,097
Positive Tests: 76,528
Recovered: 67,853
Deaths: 1,197

USA
Cases: 6,858,212
Recoveries: 2,615,949
Deaths: 199,890
Global
Cases: 31,358,115
Recoveries: 21,525,897
Deaths: 965,575
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

CAMDEN DOWNTOWN NETWORK BRINGS WEBINARS TO SOUTH ARKANSAS
The Camden Downtown Network is excited to join together with The Conductor from Conway and Think Institute from Searcy to bring the following free online webinars:

The Conductor online webinars:

Startup Stories: YGFBF Kitchen
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
2:30 PM  to  3:30 PM
Link to sign up:   https://www.eventbrite.com/e/startup-stories-ygfbf-kitchen-tickets-118640917177

Developing a Relationship with your Banker
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
12:00 PM  to 1:00 PM
Link to sign up:    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/developing-a-relationship-with-your-banker-tickets-117669024219

Policy Roundtable
Friday, October 2, 2020
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Link to sign up:    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/policy-roundtable-tickets-120046280657

Think Institute Online Webinar
Oct.  6th  8:30 AM
Digital Marketing Scorecard - Identify Weaknesses in Your Strategy

To participate, call or text Charlotte Young at (870-807-1468) or email:  charlotte@jcproductions.tv with the following information:
Business Name
First Name, Last Name
Email
Phone Number
Job Title 

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. The speaker this week will be Ouachita County Clerk Britt Williford.  He will be discussing the upcoming election.  He will go over dates for early voting, voting places, absentee voting, safety protocols, etc.

SAU OFFERING NEW INSTRUCTIONAL FACILITATOR / LEAD TEACHER MASTER’S PROGRAM
MAGNOLIA – Southern Arkansas University’s College of Education is now offering an exciting new graduate program for P-12 educators. Unlike other advanced degrees offered for educators, this program will provide teachers the opportunity to enhance teaching skills and become leaders within their school districts and remain in the classroom upon completion.

The Instructional Facilitator/LEAD Teacher M.Ed. – one of a number of advanced programs offered to educators through SAU – is offered fully online. A revision of the previous Curriculum & Instruction master’s degree, it provides teacher leaders the opportunity to hone their craft while learning to apply the acquired skills in assisting other educators.

The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the proposal in July, permitting the curriculum to be offered for the first time this fall. It is the first approved program of its type to be offered in Arkansas. Dr. Denise Moseley, assistant professor of education, is the program director.

 “While the previous program offered strong content and support for classroom educators, it was a non-licensure program,” said Dr. Moseley. “The addition of Instructional Facilitator, with the added LEAD Teacher designation, will provide classroom teachers the opportunity to grow and invest in their school districts.”

The LEAD Teacher degree offers a path to a licensure designation for educators seeking leadership roles while continuing to teach in content-area classrooms. Teachers who desire to be leaders within their school districts are typically only offered a degree in Educational Administration, rather than a lead-teacher role.

“I am proud that, through this new degree, SAU will develop teacher leaders to support teachers at every stage of their careers,” said Dr. Kim Bloss, Dean of the College of Education. “We know that learning never stops for teachers and that Instructional Facilitators are critical for supporting great teachers. Graduates will provide the support teachers need to become more effective in the classroom.”

Dr. Connie Wilson, assistant professor of education in Education Leadership stated, "This M.Ed. program is excellent for teachers interested in improving instruction and student learning as well as developing as leaders.”

“SAU is the first in the state to offer this degree, which allows our teacher candidates a unique opportunity to complete a program of study and gain distinction on their teaching license as a LEAD teacher,” added Dr. Jessica Samples, assistant professor of education and an instructor in the new program.

Additional information about the Instructional Facilitator/LEAD Teacher M.Ed. program is available at https://web.saumag.edu/lead-teacher-med/.
 

MISSISSIPPI RIVER MAINLINE LEVEES DRAFT SUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETINGS SCHEDULED
VICKSBURG, Miss. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) scheduled two virtual public meetings for its Draft Supplement II (Draft SEIS II) to the 1976 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) Project, Mississippi River Mainline Levees (MRL).

The meetings will be streamed on the following dates on the USACE New Orleans District’s Facebook page at:
https://www.facebook.com/usacenola/
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020 at 9 a.m.
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 at 6 p.m.

The general public, interested parties and stakeholders are invited to comment on the Draft SEIS II. The draft report contains a description of the project, an evaluation of the alternatives under consideration and an analysis of potential environmental impacts. All public comments received will be addressed and considered as part of USACE’s decision-making process. Comments will be accepted through Oct. 13, 2020, when the comment period ends.

The Draft SEIS II and additional meeting details are available online at the project website: http://www.mvk.usace.army.mil/MRLSEIS/.

During the virtual meeting, USACE will accept comments through Facebook or by calling or texting (601) 392-2237. Written comments on the Draft SEIS II should be sent by e-mail to MRL-SEIS-2@usace.army.mil or by mail to the following address:

District Engineer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Vicksburg District
4155 Clay Street
Vicksburg, Mississippi 39138-3435

The Draft SEIS was developed in collaboration between the USACE Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans districts.
 

COTTON INTRODUCES BILL TO PRIORITIZE HONG KONG REFUGEES
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced The Hong Kong Refugee Protection Act, a bill that designates Hong Kong as a priority refugee area with up to 25,000 additional visas per year for the next five years above the regular refugee cap.

The bill also establishes an additional 30,000 visas per year for five years to be awarded through a points-based system to attract especially qualified Hong Kongers to the United States. The additional visas for both programs would be borrowed from the “Diversity Visa” lottery.

The bill text may be found here.

“The residents of Hong Kong are no longer safe as Beijing increasingly asserts its authoritarian rule over the region. The United States' refugee admissions program was designed to assist in exactly this type of situation, where a foreign government is subjecting innocent people to persecution on account of their religion, political beliefs, or ethnicity. My bill would prioritize Hong Kong’s residents in our refugee program and help them secure freedom from the oppressive Chinese Communist Party.”

Background

Earlier this year, Senator Cotton called on the administration to work with the United Kingdom and Australia to welcome Hong Kongers seeking refuge from Beijing’s authoritarian rule.
 

SENATORS CALL FOR REMOVAL OF TRADE PROGRAM’S RICE TARIFF BARRIERS
WASHINGTON—Members of the U.S. Senate are urging the Trump Administration to reform our largest and oldest trade preference program to level the playing field for American rice producers.

The program in question—the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)—provides duty-free treatment to goods from developing countries to promote economic growth in those nations. In recent years, highly-subsidized rice growing competitors have taken advantage of this program to increase rice exports to the U.S. at the expense of American producers.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer—authored by Senator John Boozman (R-AR)—the members shared their support for the USA Rice Federation’s petition to remove all rice tariff lines from the list of commodities eligible for duty-free import under GSP.

“We understand GSP is meant to be a win-win for both the U.S. and our trading partners, but unfortunately in the case of rice, our biggest competitors on the world stage have taken advantage of the program for far too long. Over the past several years, we have seen an annual uptick in rice imports from countries that have GSP eligibility. Coupled with our competitors’ high and rising domestic subsidies, these unfair advantages are having negative implications for our rice farmers, millers, merchants and allied businesses, who are losing domestic market share. As you continue your efforts to promote fair and free trade, we encourage you to remove rice from the GSP eligibility list,” members wrote in the letter.

Along with Boozman, the letter is signed by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Kennedy (R-LA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

Full text of the letter below: 

The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

Thank you for your work on behalf of American farmers and ranchers to promote a fair and level playing field for them in the global marketplace.

During a June 2020 Senate Finance Committee hearing, you mentioned the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) “has benefits, but needs changes.” We would like to express our support for the USA Rice Federation’s petition to remove all rice tariff lines from the list of eligible commodities for duty-free access to the U.S. under GSP.

We understand GSP is meant to be a win-win for both the U.S. and our trading partners, but unfortunately in the case of rice, our biggest competitors on the world stage have taken advantage of the program for far too long. Over the past several years, we have seen an annual uptick in rice imports from countries that have GSP eligibility. Coupled with our competitors’ high and rising domestic subsidies, these unfair advantages are having negative implications for our rice farmers, millers, merchants and allied businesses, who are losing domestic market share.

As you continue your efforts to promote fair and free trade, we encourage you to remove rice from the GSP eligibility list.

Thank you for considering our request, and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT VACANCY
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court vacancy:
"There is no room to dispute the constitutional authority President Trump has to nominate an individual to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. Likewise, the Senate can also choose to exercise its role in confirming a nominee to the nation’s highest court. Historically, in a presidential election year, when a U.S. President and the Senate majority represent the same political party, a new justice has been nominated and confirmed. I have confidence that my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee will give the president’s nominee a thorough hearing so the full Senate can have a fair and thoughtful debate and vote on the merits of President Trump’s nominee."

 

SEPTEMBER 21, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 21, 2020






COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County

Total Cumulative Cases: 244
Confirmed Cases: 238
Probable Cases: 6
Total Active Cases: 45
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 193
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 189
Recovered Probable Cases: 4
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 249
Total Positive Tests: 249
PCR Positives: 238
Antigen Positives: 11
Total Negative Tests: 4,810
PCR Negatives: 4,793
Antigen Negatives: 17
Total Tests: 5,059
COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 840
Confirmed Cases: 825
Probable Cases: 15
Total Active Cases: 25
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 783
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 777
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 31
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 5
Total Positive Tests: 839
PCR Positives: 825
Antigen Positives: 14
Total Negative Tests: 7,837
PCR Negatives: 7,812
Antigen Negatives: 25
Total Tests: 8,676
Private Lab Tests: 6,428
Public Lab Tests: 2,249
COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 376
Confirmed Cases: 363
Probable Cases: 13
Total Active Cases: 35
Active Confirmed Cases: 30
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 323
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 315
Recovered Probable Cases: 8
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Positive Tests: 839
PCR Positives: 825
Antigen Positives: 14
Total Negative Tests: 7,837
PCR Negatives: 7,812
Antigen Negatives: 25
Total Tests: 8,676
Private Lab Tests: 6,428
Public Lab Tests: 2,249
COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 156
Confirmed Cases: 155
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 14
Active Confirmed Cases: 14
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 140
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 139
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Positive Tests: 156
PCR Positives: 155
Antigen Positives: 1
Total Negative Tests: 1,829
PCR Negatives: 1,820
Antigen Negatives: 9
Total Tests: 1,985
Private Lab Tests: 1,435
Public Lab Tests: 550
COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 34
Confirmed Cases: 33
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 7
Active Confirmed Cases: 7
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 27
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 26
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1,408
Total Positive Tests: 156
PCR Positives: 155
Antigen Positives: 1
Total Negative Tests: 1,829
PCR Negatives: 1,820
Antigen Negatives: 9
Total Tests: 1,985
Private Lab Tests: 1,435
Public Lab Tests: 550
Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 75,723
Confirmed Cases: 73,960
Probable Cases: 2033
Recovered Cases: 67,853
Tests: 889,200
Negative Tests: 813,315
Positive Tests: 75,885
Recovered: 67,853
Deaths: 1,181
USA
Cases: 6,814,696
Recoveries: 2,590,671
Deaths: 199,552
Global
Cases: 31,104,646
Recoveries: 21,285,899
Deaths: 961,544
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

FLAGS TO FLY HALF STAFF
The United States flag and the state flag of Arkansas should be lowered to half-staff immediately for the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The flags will be at half-staff until the day of internment.

U.S. Flag Code
§7. Position and manner of display (m)
“The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. […] The flag shall be flown at half-staff 30 days from the death of the President or a former President; 10 days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.”

U.S. Flag Code Source
 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE RELEASES STATEMENT ON PASSING OF JUSTICE GINSBURG
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following statement after the announcement of the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday.

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg served our great nation for many years,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “She leaves behind a legacy that will know no boundaries. My prayers go out to her family and friends during this difficult time.”


 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: DON’T FUMBLE WHEN BUYING TICKETS THIS YEAR
LITTLE ROCK - If Arkansans want to take in a live football game at any of our great in-state institutions this fall, it is going to be a much different experience than it has been in years past. Due to the novel coronavirus, many precautions have been implemented in an effort to keep students, student athletes, and fans safe when taking in the game. In addition to COVID-19, every year scammers often try to sell fake tickets to unsuspecting fans and Arkansans should be cautious when purchasing tickets from an unverified ticket broker. The stadium should be a safe haven for fans rather than for scammers.

“Football in Arkansas is a cherished tradition and it is worth protecting,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Whether you support the Razorbacks, Red Wolves, Bears or Boll Weevils, all Arkansans deserve to cheer for their favorite team while feeling safe and without worry of being taken advantage of by scammers.”

The Arkansas Department of Health issued the following directives for large outdoor sports venues during the upcoming football season.
A venue may increase the number of attendees at events to up to 66 percent capacity for the facility with a plan approved by the Secretary of Health.
Lines or cues for entrance, exit, making purchases, or for other reasons must be marked or monitored for maintaining a distance of six-feet between people.
Family groups may sit together but six-feet should be maintained between groups. Every-other-row seating should be unoccupied to provide for six-feet of physical distancing.
Face coverings are required for all persons present, except for children under 10-years-old, who are exempt.  For outdoor venues, once attendees are seated and maintaining six-feet physical distance from others, face coverings may be removed.  However, if moving around where social distancing is not achievable, such as in food and beverage areas, or any area where there is confinement such that six-feet distancing cannot be maintained, the face covering must be put back in place.

More information can be found at the Arkansas Department of Health’s Directive found here.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued the following tips to help Arkansans protect themselves when looking to buy game tickets during the upcoming football season.
Research the seller or broker with the Better Business Bureau and ensure it is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers.
A legitimate ticket broker will offer a refund policy. Only buy tickets from a reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction.
Always use a credit card to make a ticket purchase because credit card laws provide buyers with some recourse if the tickets are fraudulent.
Check the seats ahead of time. Ask for section, row and seat numbers to avoid obstructed views and purchasing tickets that do not exist.
Stick with well-known ticket sellers who offer guarantees and policies that protect buyers and have the ability to investigate and restrict accounts of merchants who violate the policies.
If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Refuse to be rushed. Scam artists often try to hurry prospective buyers into making a decision.

According to AARP, nearly 5 million consumers receive fraudulent concert, sporting event or theme park tickets each year.  We can all do our part by ensuring our neighbors, friends, and families are educated on the deceptive practices of scammers and ways to avoid them.

Consumers who think they may have purchased a counterfeit ticket can contact the National Association of Ticket Brokers at 630-510-4594 or the Arkansas Attorney General’s Public Protection Department.

For more information on other tips to avoid being scammed and other consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

DOL PROVIDES GRANT TO TRAIN AND EMPLOY LOW INCOME SEASONAL AND MIGRANT FARMWORKERS IN ARKANSAS
Arkansas agriculture workers, particularly those identified as low income seasonal or migrant farmworkers, will continue to receive counseling, training and support, under a recently awarded grant to the Arkansas Human Development Corporation (AHDC).  The grant, in the amount of $1,144,067.00, was provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (DOL/ETA) through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and will cover the cost of assessment, counseling, training, and support for unemployment or underemployed farm workers.

 AHDC is a nearly 50-year old private non-profit organizations with offices across Arkansas.  It has extensive experience coordinating services with both public and private training institutions, such as community colleges, truck driving, nursing and welding schools.   Its staff, most of which are co-located in Arkansas Workforce Centers, has broad experience identifying and placing clients in public and private sector employment.  Services will be available for the period July 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.

Services are available state-wide.  To begin the process, call 1-800-842-7641, extension 0 or email Ms. Linda Scott at lscott@arhdc.org to locate the office closest to you.  AHDC is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Veterans also receive priority of service.

MORE THAN $735,000 AVAILABLE FOR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION EDUCATION GRANTS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (September 21, 2020) – The Arkansas Economic Development Commission Division of Rural Services announced the Wildlife Conservation Education Grants Program application period is open now through Oct. 8. More than $735,000 is available for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021. Funds for these grants come from fines collected by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC).

“Education is foundational for economic development,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “It leads to stronger communities, greater incomes, and more opportunities. These funds not only support enhanced educational opportunities, but they also help us to preserve our state’s wildlife for future generations to enjoy. I encourage all of our school districts to apply.”

According to AGFC Chief of Education Tabbi Kinion, these grants go a long way in strengthening learning opportunities for youth, especially in rural areas of Arkansas where education dollars are at a premium.

“Many schools participating in our shooting sports, archery, and conservation education programs are able to keep the programs going thanks to this partnership,” Kinion said. “We also hear from many teachers who are able to make conservation-oriented field trips possible thanks to the money we collect from wildlife fines.”

Programs eligible for funding include but are not limited to: the study of general fish and wildlife conservation issues, Project WILD Workshops, Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program, Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, Fishing in the Natural State, Arkansas Stream Team, School Yard Habitat Site Development, and specialized AGFC conservation education/educator training workshops focused on the programs above. Funds may also be used for field trips to AGFC Nature Centers, Conservation Education Centers, and Wildlife Management Areas.

For a county-by-county listing of available funds and an application, visit www.arkansasedc.com/Rural-Services/division/grants/wildlife-education-grant.
 

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS ADDITIONAL COVID-19 RELIEF FOR FARMERS AND RANCHERS
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Committee, praised the Trump administration’s announcement of a second round of assistance to farmers and ranchers negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced up to $14 billion of additional assistance will be made available to agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19.

“Our farmers and ranchers make vital contributions to our state and our nation, and they have been struggling with low commodity prices, volatile weather and unfair trade practices long before the coronavirus hit. Unfortunately, the additional stress and challenges brought on by COVID-19 have amplified an already tough situation for those who grow our food and fiber. I applaud President Trump and Secretary Perdue for acting to make a second round of assistance available, and I will continue to advocate on behalf of our farmers and ranchers to ensure they are able to withstand adverse impacts resulting from the pandemic,” Boozman said.

Producers were awarded close to $10 billion in assistance through the first round of payments made through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which was funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The second round, CFAP 2, will support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and many additional commodities. USDA will use the program’s remaining money and funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation to administer CFAP 2.

Producers can apply for CFAP 2 at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices, beginning September 21, 2020 and ending December 11, 2020.

 
 

September 18, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 18, 2020
 




COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 225 227
Confirmed Cases: 227
Probable Cases: 5
Total Active Cases: 43
Active Confirmed Cases: 41
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 183
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 180
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 4928
Total Positive Tests: 236
PCR Positives: 227
Antigen Positives: 9
Total Negative Tests: 4,692
PCR Negatives: 4,671
Antigen Negatives: 21

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 833
Confirmed Cases: 819
Probable Cases: 14
Total Active Cases: 38
Active Confirmed Cases: 34
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 763
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 758
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 31
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 5 Total Tests: 8,542
Total Positive Tests: 832
PCR Positives: 819
Antigen Positives: 13
Total Tests: 8,542
Total Negative Tests: 7,710
PCR Negatives: 7,680
Antigen Negatives: 30

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 359
Confirmed Cases: 349
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 32
Active Confirmed Cases: 28
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 309
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 303
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 4,304
Total Positive Tests: 366
PCR Positives: 349
Antigen Positives: 17
Total Negative Tests: 3,938
PCR Negatives: 3,913
Antigen Negatives: 25

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 152
Confirmed Cases: 151
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 14
Active Confirmed Cases: 14
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 136
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 135
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1932
Total Positive Tests: 152
PCR Positives: 151
Antigen Positives: 1
Total Negative Tests: 1,780
PCR Negatives: 1,771
Antigen Negatives: 9

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 31
Confirmed Cases: 30
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 25
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 24
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1,408
Total Positive Tests: 32
PCR Positives: 31
Antigen Positives: 1
Total Negative Tests: 1,376
PCR Negatives: 1,372
Antigen Negatives: 4

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 73,211
Confirmed Cases: 71,614
Probable Cases: 1,597
Recovered Cases: 65,941
Tests: 853,549
Negative Tests: 781,096 791,094
Positive Tests: 72,453 73,455
Recovered: 65,941
Deaths: 1,166

USA
Cases: 66,88,236
Recoveries: 2,540,334
Deaths: 197,246

Global
Cases: 30,255,091
Recoveries: 20,576,269
Deaths: 947,500
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

OPED BOARD OF DIRECTORS BOARD MEETING
The OPED Board of Directors will meet on Wednesday, September 23rd at 10:00 A.M. in the OPED Training Room located at 570 Ben Lane SE in Camden.  Meetings are open to the Public.

Please wear a mask. Hand sanitizer will be available. Social distancing will be practiced in seating. The doors to the meeting area will be open. Packets will be on the tables.
The agenda is as follows:
Call to Order - Jim Golden
Audience Participation – Jim Golden
Approval of Minutes – July 2020 - Chuck Sponer
Financial Reports – July, August 2020 - James Nixon
Overview of Contacts-Executive Director - Lee Silliman
Request for Audit - James Nixon
OPED Budget Committee - Dotty Harris
Nominations Committee-Officers/Executive Committee - Dotty Harris
Old Business
Workforce Project Update - James Lee Silliman
Future Fit - Karmen House          
AEDC's Competitive Communities - Lee Silliman
Open Discussion – Jim Golden     
Adjournment - Jim Golden

The next Scheduled Board Meeting will be on October 28, 2020.
 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PROCLAIMS ACES AWARENESS WEEK
Coinciding with AFMCs ACEs and Resilience Summit
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. ‒ September 16, 2020 ‒ By proclamation of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, September 20 – 26 is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Awareness Week. ACEs, such as abuse, neglect, an incarcerated parent, or a parent who suffers from substance abuse or mental illness, are harmful events that can occur during childhood. Studies in the fields of neurobiology, psychology, epigenetics, child development and medicine, among others, show that ACEs create toxic stress in children that has lasting consequences for their physical, mental and emotional health well into adulthood, and can be passed on to the next generation.

 Arkansas ranks second in the nation for the percentage of children who have experienced two or more ACEs and nearly 62% of Arkansas adults have a least one ACE. By working together, the negative effects of ACEs can be reduced by preventing ACEs and helping individuals build resilience through safe, stable and nurturing relationships in the home and community.

The Arkansas ACEs and Resilience Coalition, in connection with the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, are hosting the fourth annual AR ACEs and Resilience Summit, September 22 – 23. This Summit will feature subject matter experts in the fields of trauma, racial equity, education, mental health and self-care. If you would like to learn more about ACEs or register for the Summit please visit www.afmc.org/aces.

About AFMC
For 48 years, AFMC  has worked to improve the health of Arkansans through utilization review, quality improvement projects and public education. AFMC’s mission is: To promote excellence in health and health care through education and evaluation.

THIRD IN BECHTELHEIMER LECTURE SERIES UPCOMING AT SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center continues its six-part lecture series, "The New York School", presented by local artist Gay Bechtelheimer, on Thursday, September 24, at 6:00pm. There will be a brief reception, followed by an entertaining dive into the context, characters, and culture of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Reservations are required for socially distant and safe reserved seating.
This lecture series, sponsored by Linda and Louis Hall, is being held on Thursday evenings throughout the fall. "Color Field" is the third topic to be addressed by Bechtelheimer in this series. "Color Field painting is the subdued side of Abstract Expressionism. Broad expanses of sublime color become the subject of the painting, inviting the viewer to participate in a contemplative and inward experience." 
Lynn Dwight, SAAC board member, has been attending the series and bringing her mom along. They have both thoroughly enjoyed their experience at the lectures. "From the minute we walked into SAAC, we felt a sense of calm...the screening was effortless," said Dwight. "And with all the artwork around us which we were encouraged to wander about and see, we felt a sense of ‘normalcy'. Safely seated with only family or friends, we were given an insight into the art world that we might otherwise have never known about!" 
In order to keep SAAC employees and members as safe as possible, SAAC 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 an individually packaged "SAAC Snack in a Sack" to enjoy during the 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," Laura Allen.
Seating is limited at this time. For more information on this lecture series, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org to reserve a seat. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street.  

 

COTTON INTRODUCES BILL TO END CHINA’S PERMANENT MOST-FAVORED-NATION STATUS
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced a bill that would strip China of its permanent most-favored-nation status—also known as Permanent Normal Trade Relations—a designation it has held for the last twenty years. If passed, the legislation would make extending most-favored-nation status to China an annual decision for Congress and the president.

"Twenty years ago this week, the Senate gave a gift to the Chinese Communist Party by granting it permanent most-favored-nation status. That disastrous decision made the Party richer, but cost millions of American jobs. It’s time to protect American workers and take back our leverage over Beijing by withdrawing China’s permanent trade status,” said Cotton.

Background
 The Senate voted to give China permanent most-favored-nation status on September 19, 2000. This vote paved the way for China’s accession to the World Trade Organization.

Granting China this trade status contributed to the “China Trade Shock” that destroyed 2 million American jobs after 2001. It also led to a surge of business investmentin China that made the CCP stronger and more dangerous.

The China Trade Relations Act
The China Trade Relations Act would revoke China’s permanent most-favored-nation status and return to the pre-2001 status quo, whereby China’s MFN status must be renewed each year by presidential decision. Congress could override the president’s extension of MFN by passing a joint resolution of disapproval.

The bill also would expand the list of human-rights and trade abuses under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment that would disqualify China for MFN status, absent a presidential waiver. The abuses that would make China ineligible for MFN status, absent a presidential waiver, are as follows:

Uses or provides for the use of slave labor;

Operates ‘vocational training and education centers’ or other concentration camps where people are held against their will;
Performs or otherwise orders forced abortion or sterilization procedures;
Harvests the organs of prisoners without their consent;
Hinders the free exercise of religion;
Intimidates or harasses nationals of the People’s Republic of China living outside the People’s Republic of China; or
Engages in systematic economic espionage against the United States, including theft of the intellectual property of United States persons.

 

BOOZMAN URGES HHS TO PROTECT 340B PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING PROGRAM
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prevent pharmaceutical companies from undermining the 340B Drug Pricing Program and for the agency to provide certainty to hospital participants.

The 340B drug pricing program is providing flexibility to more than 40 Arkansas medical facilities to help lower drug prices. The program requires prescription drugs be sold at a discounted price to safety net hospitals, rural health facilities and other entities that provide care in underserved communities. Savings from the 340B program ensure these “covered entities” are able to continue serving their patients.

Recent announcements by drug manufacturers have put new, burdensome requirements on “covered entities” beyond the scope of the 340B program and have eliminated discounts for medications shipped to pharmacies that dispense drugs to patients on behalf of covered entities.

In a letter to HHS Secretary Alx Azar, Boozman and a bipartisan group of senators urged the administration to take enforcement action to end these policies and protect the ability of health care facilities to continue providing medications to their patients.

“In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, where providers have seen drops in revenue and available resources, it is critically important that 340B covered entities, including federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), FQHC Look-Alikes, children’s hospitals, Ryan White HIV/AIDS clinics, and other safety-net hospitals and providers are able to continue to serve the individuals who seek out their care. As these threats to the Program progress, we fear the potential exacerbation of these shortfalls in resources for providers at a time when they are needed most,” the senators wrote in the letter.

The letter was sent one day after Boozman urged HHS to provide certainty for the 340B participants.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Boozman shared the concerns of rural Arkansas hospital administrators about eligibility for continued participation in the program. As a result of COVID-19, hospitals paused elective procedures and admissions decreased for Medicare and Medicaid patients. These are among the key metrics used to determine acceptance into the program. 

Boozman encouraged his colleagues to extend eligibility so they can care for low-income patients and pass legislation introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD) that would provide certainty to current 340B program participants.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW
From Senator Trent Garner
September 18, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Census workers across Arkansas will be knocking on doors until the end of September in a last-ditch effort to make sure that as many people as possible get counted in the 2020 U.S. Census.

Undercounting the population of a state or community has long-term negative consequences, because the benefits of so many government programs are allocated according to census data. For example, an undercount of as little as one percent would mean the loss of a billion dollars in federal funding in Arkansas over the next ten years.

The potential loss of federal dollars would have a negative effect on Medicaid, food stamp programs, highway maintenance and construction, education and the availability of childcare subsidies.

Census workers are visiting homes in communities that traditionally have been hard to reach. Sometimes they leave packets on doorsteps if they are unable to contact anyone in the home.

However, it’s not necessary to wait for a census worker to visit your house. You can fill out the census over the phone in about 10 minutes. Call 844-330-2020. After you have completed the census, encourage everyone you know to complete it.

The census is conducted every 10 years, and this is the first time that a majority of people will complete it online. You can fill out the form online by going to https://my2020census.gov

Your personal information will be kept confidential. Also, you will not be asked financial questions, such as bank account numbers or credit card numbers. You will not be asked for your Social Security number either. You will not be asked for money and you will not be questioned about your political opinions.

If you suspect that you have been contacted by a deceptive outfit that is trying to defraud you, check out the address of their website. The address of a valid census web page will always have “gov” at the end.

Nationwide, 65.9 percent of the population have already responded to the census on their own volition. In Arkansas, 60 percent have responded by telephone, Internet or traditional mail.

Helping Our Neighbors
Twenty firefighters from Arkansas, including five employees of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, are fighting wildfires in Oregon.

Crews in California, Oregon and Washington have been pushed to the breaking point battling wildfires on more than 2 million acres this year.

In addition to the five employees of the state Forestry Division, the so-called “Razorback Crew” has eight Arkansas employees from the U.S Forest Service, two from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, two from the National Parks Service, and three from of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Two other employees of the state Forestry Division recently returned from California, where they helped battle wildfires.

The legislature created the Forestry Division in 1931 to protect state woodlands from fire and other natural hazards. State forestry officials estimate that since 1935 they have helped put out more than 225,000 forest fires.

After tornadoes and ice storms, Forestry Division employees help clear roadways for emergency vehicles, and set up command centers for first responders.

It also has a nursery in North Little Rock, from which it provides low-costs seedlings to Arkansas residents for reforestation projects.

 
 
 

September 17, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 17, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 225
Total Active Confirmed Cases: 36
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 182
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 179
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 4909
Total Negative Tests: 4,681
Total PositiveTests: 228

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 804
Total Active Cases: 51
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 733
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 729
Recovered Probable Cases: 4
Total Deaths: 31
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 5
Total Tests: 8522
Total Negative Tests: 7,138
Total Positive Tests: 826

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 354
Confirmed Cases: 346
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 30
Active Confirmed Cases: 27
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 306
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 301
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 4287
Total Negative Tests: 3295
Total Positive Tests: 346

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 152
Confirmed Cases: 151
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 15
Active Confirmed Cases: 15
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 135
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 134
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1913
Total Negative Tests: 1,761
Total Positive Tests: 152

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 31
Confirmed Cases: 30
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 25
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 24
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1401
Total Negative Tests: 1,370
Total Positive Tests: 31

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 72,219
Confirmed Cases: 70,731
Probable Cases: 1,488
Recovered Cases: 65,147
Tests: 853,549
Negative Tests: 781,096
Positive Tests: 72,453
Recovered: 65,147
Deaths: 1010

USA
Cases: 6,649,458
Recoveries: 2,525,573
Deaths: 197,223

Global
Cases: 29,960,718
Recoveries: 20,362,794
Deaths: 942,631
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

SOUTH ARKANSAS TRAFFIC FATALITIES
A Hampton man was killed in a rollover crash in Warren Tuesday. 56-year-old Benjamin Travis was driving a Dodge Dakota east on U.S. Highway 278 in Warren when the vehicle crossed the centerline and went off the road, according to police reports. The Dakota went down a ditch embankment and flipped onto its roof. Travis died, and the state police did not list any other injuries.
On Tuesday morning, another rollover crash in Calhoun County left a Fordyce man dead. 40-year-old William Deboard was driving a Ford F-150 east on Chambersville Road in Thornton around 11 A.M., when it veered off the road, struck a tree, and flipped several times, according to police reports. Deboard died, and no others were listed in the report as injured.
Weather was clear, and the roads were dry at the time of both crashes.

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET IN SPECIAL SESSION
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will meet in special session on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Social distancing will be practiced. Please wear your masks.

CAMDEN PORT AUTHORITY TO MEET
The Port Authority will meet on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.
Cassandra Caldwell, Director of the Arkansas Waterways Commission and Deidra Smith will make a presentation.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call 837-5500.

NEW CENSUS DATA ON POVERTY, INCOME, HOUSING AND HEALTH CAN HELP GAUGE HOW MUCH ARKANSANS HAVE LOST IN THE PANDEMIC 
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – People across Arkansas continue to face dire economic hardship – particularly Arkansans of color and those with low incomes - as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, making the need for bold action at the state and federal levels clearer than ever. That’s the picture painted by new data released today from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey and an analysis of data from its ongoing Household Pulse Survey and other sources.

Between 2018 and 2019, Arkansas’s poverty rate fell by 1 percentage point to 16.2 percent, and median household income rose by 2.4 percent to $48,952. Health care coverage declined and housing costs remained flat – trends that accelerated this year’s severe health and housing needs.

More up-to-date data from this summer show a worsening of some trends and a sharper rise in hardship across Arkansas:
14 percent of adults reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days
21 percent of adults with children reported that their kids sometimes or often didn’t eat enough in the last seven days because they couldn’t afford it
18 percent of adults who live in rental housing reported that they were behind on rent, and 29 percent are behind on their mortgage payments
29 percent of all children in Arkansas live in a family that is either not getting enough to eat or behind on housing payments

This hardship is being felt more acutely by Arkansans of color and people with very low incomes, who were already struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic. As a result of current and historic policies contributing to deep inequities, low-income Arkansans and Arkansans of color often lack access to the resources they need to be resilient, like healthy food options, transportation, quality schools, etc.

“As we see every day, people across Arkansas are struggling with paying their bills, putting food on the table, and getting back to work. And many of these same Arkansans are the one that are on the frontlines of this pandemic, working at child care centers, grocery stores, and in other low-paid jobs,” explained AACF Senior Policy Analyst Bruno Showers. “Our federal and state policymakers must act decisively to help families and individuals facing today’s extreme levels of hardship, especially those in Black, Latino, Indigenous, and immigrant households.”

Here’s what they can do:
Federal: Congress must act swiftly to provide more federal relief that matches the extraordinary need that households and our economy face. That includes boosting vital assistance programs such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and housing assistance, extending enhanced federal unemployment benefits, and allocating additional aid to states and local governments that can help prevent further layoffs and cuts to core public services.

State: Lawmakers must meet the demands of the moment by advancing bold policies to build antiracist, equitable, and inclusive communities and an economic recovery that extends to all people. You can read AACF’s full federal recommendations on our website.

About Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families is a statewide, nonprofit child advocacy organization established in 1977. Our mission is to ensure that all children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and to realize their full potential. For more information, visit aradvocates.org.

SAFE SURGERY ARKANSAS RELEASES STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT RULING TO INVALIDATE ISSUE 6 FROM NOVEMBER BALLOT
“We are not at all finished fighting for patient safety”
LITTLE ROCK – The vast majority of Arkansans believe surgery should be performed by surgeons. Unfortunately, voters will not get the chance to voice that opposition based on this morning’s Arkansas Supreme Court ruling to invalidate Issue 6 from the November ballot.

Safe Surgery Arkansas released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“An overwhelming majority of Arkansans agree that surgery should be performed by surgeons, and it’s a shame that voters will not have the opportunity to express themselves at the ballot on this critically important health issue,” said Laurie Barber, MD, chair of Safe Surgery Arkansas. “Despite today’s ruling, we are not at all finished fighting for patient safety. It’s too important, and it matters to too many Arkansans.”

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
 

TEXAMERICAS CENTER UPGRADES WEBSITE; INTEGRATES SITE WITH NATIONAL SITE SELECTION DATABASE
New website provides detailed economic and community information to site selectors
TEXARKANA, USA (Sept. 17, 2020) – TexAmericas Center (TAC) today shared its upgraded website which, in addition to a more user-friendly and intuitive interface, integrates with RealMassive, a real estate database provider, and ZoomProspector, a leading commercial real estate data portal, to provide a depth of information at the individual site level valuable to business owners, site selectors, and commercial listing agents evaluating locations.

Site selectors are used to culling multiple sources to identify, vet, and eventually select the ideal location for
business establishment or expansion. Businesses have different goals for projects which can require weighing variables like cost per square foot, utilities, labor markets, tax rates, incentives, transportation, and cost of living. The new TexAmericas Center website is designed to offer a single resource for more of these critical data points.

The new website provides visitors with an overview of Texarkana – a 75-mile, four-state (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma) region, as well as a robust database of TAC’s commercial property listings. The Property Search Database integrates listing information with economic and community data via RealMassive and ZoomProspector including regional demographics, laborshed, and industry concentrations. The aggregation of this information allows site selectors to view a variety of data points in one resource. This streamlines the initial process, after which the TAC real estate development professionals can offer more customized information, reports, and solutions for businesses.

“Site selection is a complicated process that considers an interconnected web of location features against organizational goals,” said Scott Norton, TexAmericas Center Executive Director/CEO. “Our new website now serves as a resource that streamlines the process for our different audiences which include businesses looking to locate or expand, site selectors conducting a business analysis, and commercial listing agents interested in referring a prospect.”

The website launch is another in a series of successes for TexAmericas Center. In July, TexAmericas Center announced that Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company employing more than 110,000 people worldwide, will expand operations at TexAmericas Center in support of a Public/Private Partnership contract with the Red River Army Depot (RRAD). In August, TexAmericas Center it was ranked the #8 industrial park in the country by Business Facilities in its 2020 Metro and Global Rankings Report .

“We’re designing systems and tools that make doing business with and in Texarkana easy,” said Eric Voyles, Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Development Officer with TexAmericas Center. “Whether that’s providing data resources like the website or creatively crafting lease agreements, our goal is to find ways to make projects work for businesses interested in locating here and contributing to our regional economic development.”

TexAmericas Center is a growing catalyst of economic investment in the Texarkana region. Since May 2014, TexAmericas Center has increased its total leased square footage by more than 85 percent to more than 1 million square feet. 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. Additionally, TexAmericas Center also offers a complement of unique assets like utilities, rail, fiber, and a transload provider.

For more information about TexAmericas Center, visit texamericascenter.com.

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 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.

 

BOOZMAN SUPPORTS STRENGTHENING PROTECTIONS FOR SERVICEMEMBERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is pushing for improvements to the Servicmembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Boozman joined his colleagues to introduce two pieces of legislation to amend the law and better serve the needs of the men and women of the military and their families.

On average, military families move every two to three years. For military spouses, frequent relocations disrupt careers and require them to spend thousands of hours and dollars to continue practicing their vocation, despite already being licensed in another state.

Boozman helped introduce the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act to require states to recognize the occupational licenses of military spouses who move across state lines as a result of a permanent change of station (PCS) order.

“Military spouses make tremendous sacrifices and we have an obligation to support them and their families. This is a meaningful way to help cut the red tape that exists and make it easier for them to continue to their career after relocating as they support their loved one’s service,” Boozman said.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative, 67 percent of military spouses had to quit a job because of a move to a different duty station. Additionally, 50 percent of military spouses work in a field that requires licensing. 

Boozman also helped introduced the Modernizing Notice of Lease Terminations for Servicemembers Act to allow servicemembers to deliver notice of termination of residential and car leases electronically, including by email.

“We need to focus on ways to make life easier for the men and women of our nation’s Armed Forces. This update to the SCRA will provide greater flexibility and convenience for servicemembers and their families navigating changes to housing and vehicle leases, protecting them from penalties and ensuring they have the ability to comply with orders to deploy or relocate while serving in uniform,” Boozman said.

The ability to electronically deliver notice of termination of a residential or car lease is especially important for service members who may already be serving in another location by the time they are able to seek termination due to a deployment or a PCS. Electronic means of communication are also critical in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which physical contact should be limited and traditional mail and delivery services may heighten the risk of exposure.

 
 
 

September 16, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 16, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson gave this unexpected and unannounced update from Batesville, explaining in his opening remarks that he had committed earlier to make this visit and also that he enjoyed getting out among the people.

The Governor reported that there were 606 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the previous 24-hour period. The cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state is now 70,731. Active Positives currently stand at 5,572 cases. The death toll due to COVID-19 in Arkansas increased by seven to 1,010.
UAMS released new modeling figures Wednesday that show a predicted increase of COVID-19 cases and deaths as the fall and winter months approach, with schools in session and more people being indoors with the cooler weather. Governor Hutchinson says the schools are doing a good job and predicts that the state can beat the modeling numbers if the rules of safety continue to be followed.

The Governor also mentioned the latest White House Task Force report showing Arkansas still in the "red" as far as new per capita cases category, but "yellow" in the positive rate of testing category.

UAMS released new modeling figures Wednesday that show a predicted increase of COVID-19 cases and deaths as the fall and winter months approach, with schools in session and more people being indoors with the cooler weather. Governor Hutchinson says the schools are doing a good job and predicts that the state can beat the modeling numbers if the rules of safety continue to be followed.

Governor Hutchinson was asked about an ease of restrictions for events and festivals. The Governor says that events and festivals can submit plans to the Health Department for approval but maintains that now is not the time to lift more restrictions.
Secretary of Health,Dr. Jose Romero, updated the Statewide number as follows.
70,731 cumulative cases
387 hospitalized (down 2 from yesterday)
65 on ventilators (down 3 from yesterday)
7 new deaths
1,010 total deaths
5,572 active cases
730 new recoveries
64,145 total recoveries
6,360 PCR tests yesterday (606 positive)
529 antigen tests yesterday (95 positive).

Counties with 20 or more new cases today were Washington with 65, Pulaski with 58, Benton with 37, Faulkner with 31, Jefferson with 29, Miller with 21, and Craighead with 20.

This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 220
Total Active Confirmed Cases: 35
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 178
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 175
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Negative Tests: 4,646
Total Tests: 4868

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 804
Total Active Cases: 51
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 733
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 729
Recovered Probable Cases: 4
Total Deaths: 31
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 5
Total Negative Tests: 7,683
Total Tests: 8498

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 348
Confirmed Cases: 341
Probable Cases: 7
Total Active Cases: 26
Active Confirmed Cases: 24
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 304
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 299
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths:
Total Negative Tests: 3,899
Total Tests: 4255

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 154
Confirmed Cases: 153
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 19
Active Confirmed Cases: 19
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 133
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 132
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Negative Tests: 1,747
Total Tests: 1901

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 31
Confirmed Cases: 30
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 25
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 24
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Negative Tests: 1,355
Total Tests: 1386

Arkansas Tests: 845,788
Confirmed Cases: 70,125
Probable Cases: 1,372
Recovered Cases: 64,342
Arkansas Negative Tests: 774,069
Arkansas Positive Tests: 71,719
Arkansas Recovered: 64,342
Arkansas Deaths: 1003

USA Cases: 6,603,033
USA Recoveries: 2,495,427
USA Deaths: 196,147

Global Cases: 29,628,650
Global Recoveries: 20,129,159
Global Deaths: 936,377
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

To view the 9-16-20 briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtube/7iyFww-xj-8

 

INVESTIGATIONS UNDERWAY BY STATE POLICE CID IN THREE CHILD DEATHS ON STATE ROADS
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Two apparently unrelated incidents over a five hour period today claimed the lives of three children along two U.S. highways in Jackson and Saline Counties.  Both are being investigated by Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division.
At 4:07 AM state troopers of the Highway Patrol Division were dispatched to the 98 mile marker of U.S. Highway 67 south of the Jackson and Craighead County line where two children were found dead.  The victims have been identified as Michael Rogers, III, 10, and his sister, Princess Josh-Lyn Logan, 3.
The children were apparently struck by a southbound tractor-trailer commercial carrier driven by Gerald Sanders, 77.  Sanders was not injured.
Latoya Taylor, 26, the mother of the children was found at the fatality scene when state troopers arrived, but she was not physically injured.
In an unrelated incident, at 8:53 AM state troopers responded to a call from a motorist reporting a young child had been dropped from a moving vehicle along the westbound lanes of Interstate 30 near the 117 mile marker in Saline County.
The child, believed to be approximately 2 years-old, died after troopers were on the scene and awaiting emergency medical care to arrive.
The child, believed to be approximately 2 years-old, died after troopers were on the scene and awaiting emergency medical care to arrive.
CID special agents are questioning witnesses in each case.   Agents have been in contact with prosecuting attorneys in both local jurisdictions and will submit criminal case files for consideration whether to file formal charges in the deaths. 
No arrests have been made in either case at this time.



COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING SEPTEMBER 17TH IN CAMDEN TO BE PROVIDED BY UAMS
WHAT: A community drive-up testing clinic for COVID-19 will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). There will be no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
WHO: UAMS nurses and volunteers.
WHEN: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. - Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020

WHERE:  Cullendale First Baptist Church, 1850 Cash Road SW. 

 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, September 17th at Noon at Catherine's Bistro. The program will be presented by Jenny Sanders from SAU Tech’s Scholars Program.

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.

ARKANSAS BAR ASSOCIATION RELEASES EDUCATIONAL VIDEO OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION IN HONOR OF CONSTITUTION DAY
The Arkansas Bar Association (ArkBar) is releasing a video today to help educate Arkansas students and the public about the importance of the Constitution and the rule of law in the United States in honor of Constitution Day. Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. The video can be found at ArkBar’s youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbUlw0GDHb0.

The Legal Related Education Committee of ArkBar presents this Constitution Day video, explaining the legal system, how it works, and the rule of law. This video describes the basic framework of the legal system today, details the basic rights guaranteed by our Constitution and provides an overview of the three branches of government.

The Constitution Day video is moderated by UCA Professor Anthony McMullen. McMullen said he hopes the video “will help students better understand their role as citizens, future voters, and the future leaders of this great country.”

ArkBar President Paul Keith of Monticello said that ArkBar believes that educating students and the public about our Constitution is important work. “Just over 230 years ago a very grand experiment began. For the first time in modern history, a government was founded on a unique proposition that the power of the government came from the people and not from a king. For the first time in modern history the people stood up and told its government ‘your power comes from us. We are in charge.’ For you to understand and access the power that you have, you need to know more. So, we pause today to understand the voice of your power–the United States Constitution.”

Presenters include the Honorable Dan Kemp, Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, the Honorable Courtney Hudson, Associate Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court; the Honorable Mary McGowan, Circuit Judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit Court; Senator Kim Hammer; Theresa Beiner, Dean of the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law; Tamera Deaver, Assistant Public Defender for the Eastern District of Arkansas; Chad Cumming, attorney at Gill, Ragon, Owen, P.A.; Chris Hussein, chair of the Young Lawyers Division & attorney at Legal Aid of Arkansas; and Beverly Brister, chair of the Legal Related Education Super Committee.

About the 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 5,000 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.

 
 

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the state now has the needed supplies for 12,000 antigen tests that will be available at some schools, rural hospitals, and county health units, including Mena.


The Governor reported that 139 "probable" deaths would be added to the total deaths in Arkansas.

Governor Hutchinson announced 17 additional deaths during a COVID-19 Taskforce press conference held Tuesday afternoon. That raises the total since the start of the outbreak to 1,003. 

Hutchinson and state health experts announced the state was creating a new category of deaths in which COVID-19 is listed as a probable - but not confirmed - cause. The new figure includes an additional 139 Arkansans who are believed to have died from the virus. Dr. Mike Cima, chief epidemiologist for the Arkansas Department of Health, explained the new category.

Hutchinson updated the state on the level of antigen testing supplies available. After hitting a shortfall in those supplies, the state now has enough tests to cover two months of expected need. Those point-of-care tests are rapid and available at all county health units across Arkansas. These testing kits are primarily directed for use in educational facilities to allow the quick identification and isolation of COVID-19 cases.

In review, the state confirmed an additional 676 cases over the previous 24 hours for a new total of 70,125.

The governor's COVID-19 updates are no longer being held daily but now on a weekly basis. We'll continue to keep you updated on future addresses and any other developments that occur.

This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. They will be updated later today.
COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 214
Total Active Cases: 33
Total Recovered Cases: 171
Total Deaths: 5
Total Tests: 4822

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 801
Total Active Cases: 58
Total Recovered Cases: 717
Total Deaths: 25
Total Tests: 8448

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 345
Total Active Cases: 30
Total Recovered Cases: 299
Total Deaths: 18
Total Tests: 4218

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 154
Total Active Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 131
Total Deaths: 2

Total Tests: 1894

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 29
Total Active Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 24
Total Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1,368

Arkansas Tests: 835,335
Arkansas Negative Tests: 764,352
Arkansas Positive Tests: 70,983
Arkansas Recovered: 63,601
Arkansas Deaths: 992

USA Cases: 6,557,802
USA Recoveries: 2,474,570
USA Deaths: 194,674

Global Cases: 29,323,347
Global Recoveries: 19,898,806
Global Deaths: 929,444
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

To view the weekly briefing for September 15, 2020, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/bqd4Bx1NbLI

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

DRIVE THROUGH FLU SHOT CLINIC TO BE HELD AT THE OUACHITA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
There will be a Drive through Flu Shot Clinic on September 21st from 8 am to 4:30 at the Ouachita County Health Department located at 740 California in Camden. Drive around to back of the Clinic. You will not have to exit your vehicle. Please bring your insurance, Medicare or Medicaid card with you. There is no cost for the vaccine even if you do not have insurance.   Call 836-5033 for more information. There will be a flu form on a table in front of the Health Department if you wish to pick one up ahead of time and have it filled out. You can also find one at www.yesradioworks.com to download and print.

CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, September 18, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road, Camden, Arkansas.

BOOZMAN, CARDIN CALL FOR IDENTIFYING GLOBAL CRISIS IN EDUCATION DUE TO COVID-19
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) have introduced legislation that would help identify the scope of one of the most significant secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic: education loss. School closures stemming from this global health crisis have affected over 1 billion students around the world and, according to a recent study by Save the Children, about 10 million students are in danger of permanently dropping out of school due to rising poverty related to the pandemic.

“Understanding the impact COVID-19 has on the education of children around the world is important to our long-term investment in international education programs. Having detailed information about these current challenges will help us innovate the delivery of academic opportunities so students can continue to receive a quality education when faced with unexpected circumstances. I appreciate Senator Cardin’s leadership to ensure no student is left behind,” Boozman said. 

“Education loss due to the pandemic is going to reverberate throughout the globe long after COVID-19 is contained, and its impact will be more than empty classrooms. It has the potential to fuel hunger, poverty, and violence while undermining equality, especially for girls and young women, as well as stability all over the world. We have a responsibility to mitigate this crisis before an entire generation is left behind,” said Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee that oversees human rights and global women’s issues.    

Serious educational gaps that existed before COVID-19 are being exacerbated as schools have been forced by the pandemic to transition to remote learning or close completely. Children and youth who were already vulnerable including girls and young women, refugees and those with disabilities are likely to be the worst impacted by this loss of access to education. The Global Learning Loss Assessment Act notes the major economic and humanitarian implications of this learning loss, as well as the significant shortage of global financing for international education programs that is predicted. It highlights the need for the United States to promote inclusive learning opportunities, help strengthen education systems and support the return of children to school across the globe.

The bill would require the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to submit a report within 90 days to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the impact of COVID-19 on global learning and basic education programs. It requires the report to be made publicly available and to include: 

an assessment of the magnitude of global learning loss,
an analysis of how school closures affect marginalized children,
descriptions of forms of distance learning in low resource contexts,
data on Agency programs being carried out to continue learning during the pandemic, and 
a description of the resources USAID needs to support education programs during and after the pandemic.
Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.  

“We cannot overstate the profound impact COVID-19 is having on education across the world,” said Houlahan. “This education gap has the potential to hinder global efforts on economic justice, lasting peace, poverty eradication, ending world hunger, gender equity and more. As a steadfast advocate for women and girls around the world, I’m particularly concerned about the harrowing consequences school-aged girls face in light of school closures – including an increased likelihood of gender-based violence. I am glad to be leading a bicameral effort with colleagues from across the aisle to ensure we in the United States are doing everything we can to mitigate the effects of such an education gap and stand up for the world’s youth.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has affected every corner of US government, including foreign aid and development. USAID’s mission is vital to America’s international relationship building. Congress needs a thorough understanding of how the pandemic has impacted that mission if we hope to continue our global basic education  programs successfully in the future,” said Quigley and Fitzpatrick. “USAID providing Congress with a report is the first step to developing that understanding and supporting USAID effectively moving forward.”

SEPTEMBER 14, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 14, 2020
The following numbers were reported by the Arkansas Department of Health this morning.


 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 212
Total Active Cases: 39
Total Recovered Cases: 168
Total Deaths: 5
Total Tests: 4757

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 796
Total Active Cases: 60
Total Recovered Cases: 710
Total Deaths: 25
Total Tests: 8148

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 339
Total Active Cases: 27
Total Recovered Cases: 295
Total Deaths: 17
4185 total tests

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 154
Total Active Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 131
Total Deaths: 2

Total Tests: 1880

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 28
Total Active Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 24
Total Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1,356

Arkansas Tests: 829,087
Arkansas Negative Tests: 758,511

Arkansas Positive Tests: 70,576
USA Cases: 6,521,887
USA Recoveries: 2,451,406
USA Deaths: 194,107
Global Cases: 29,053,724
Global Recoveries: 19,652,377
Global Deaths: 924,953
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

CAMDEN MAN KILLED IN SATURDAY MORNING CRASH
Saturday morning, September 12th at approximately 7:41 am Billy Ray Porchia, Jr., 39 of Camden was killed in a single vehicle accident according to the Arkansas State Police. Porchia was traveling East on Highway 24 in a 2005 Honda when he failed to maintain control of the vehicle, He crossed the center line and over-steered to the right causing the vehicle to skid and enter the eastbound roadside. The vehicle struck a tree and rotated counterclockwise causing the driver to be ejected before coming to rest. The weather was clear and the road was dry. 425 people have died on Arkansas Highways this year.

UAMS TO PROVIDE COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING SEPTEMBER 17TH IN CAMDEN
LITTLE ROCK – Drive-up testing for COVID-19 will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sept. 17 at Cullendale First Baptist Church, 1850 Cash Road SW in Camden. There will be no out-of-pocket cost for testing. Up to 200 community members will be tested. 

The testing will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, Cullendale First Baptist Church, the Blue and You Foundation and Bank of America Foundation.

You do not have to be a UAMS patient to be seen. This testing is for everyone who feels they need testing. Patients will get instructions on how to take care of themselves and their family at home. Test results will be returned either through an online patient portal, letter or phone call.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people not in your household, and wear a mask in public. An online screening tool is available at uamshealth.com/healthnow. Phone screening is available through the UAMS Health hotline at 800-632-4502.

 UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
 

STATE POLICE INVESTIGATING AFTER BODY FOUND IN LEWISVILLE HOME
SEPTEMBER 12, 2020
Authorities within the Lewisville (Lafayette County) Police Department have requested the Arkansas State Police to investigate an apparent homicide following the discovery of a woman’s  body inside a home at 915 West 3rd Street.

The body has been identified as that of Kira Bradley, 45, of Lewisville.  Local police officers found the body inside a bedroom of the residence shortly before noon yesterday (Friday, September 11th) and contacted state police a short time later.

Two suspects, an El Dorado man and a Lewisville woman, have been taken into custody by Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police.

Bradley’s body will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the cause and manner of death will be determined following an autopsy.

Agents are preparing an investigative file to be turned-over to the Lafayette County prosecuting attorney who will determine whether criminal charges will be filed against the suspects.

 

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. The speaker this week will be Lisa Pickett from the Camden Library. She will give an update on what the library is doing during the pandemic.

 
 

September 11, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson was introduced at the last of the daily COVID-19 briefings, held in Mena but closed to the public, by Mena Mayor Seth Smith.

 opened the daily briefing today with remarks about the 19th anniversary of the 9-11-01 attacks on the USA. He also commented about the beautiful UARM campus.

The last meeting did not start on a high note, however, with Hutchinson reporting the highest number of confirmed new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. Cases over the past 24 hours grew by 1,107, raising the state's total to 67,911. It was disappointing news considering the relatively low and encouraging case growth this week. The record was previously set on Sept. 4 when state officials confirmed 1,094 additional cases. Hutchinson did add some nuance to the numbers announced on Friday.
Arkansas' seven-day rolling average shows the median daily growth rate is around 500 cases. Other figures updated on Friday showed no net increase of hospitalizations. Currently 392 Arkansans are hospitalized by illness caused by COVID-19, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Deaths increased by 13 to 953. The state performed over 7,100 tests over the previous 24 hours. Confirmed active cases of the virus currently number approximately 5,700. Recoveries total more than 61,000. 

Hutchinson addressed national reporting in relation to a recent study from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. This study linked dining out to the spread of COVID-19. Hutchinson said he and state health officials did not see that correlation in Arkansas' data. That data, as well as statewide contact tracing efforts, suggested Arkansans carrying COVID-19 were several times more likely to visit a retail environment than a restaurant.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
1,185 new cases (1,107 PCR and 78 antigen)
67,911 cumulative cases (12.9% from colleges and universities)
5,713 active cases
13 new deaths
953 total deaths
577 new recoveries
61,245 total recoveries
0 new hospitalizations
392 currently hospitalized
76 on ventilators (down 3 from yesterday)
7,801 tests yesterday
459 antigen tests yesterday with 78 positive or 20.5%.

Of the new cases, counties with 20 or more new cases were Pulaski with 105, Washington with 91, Craighead with 61, Benton with 52, Sebastian with 51, Jefferson with 47, Crawford with 35, Faulkner with 25, Garland with 24, and Carroll with an unspecified number but 20 or more.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 189 positive cases with 32 active positive cases, 152 recovered, 5 deaths, and 4438 negative tests. Union County shows 755 positive cases with 40 active positive cases, 690 recovered, 25 deaths and 7524 negative tests. Columbia County shows 323 positive cases with 21 active positive cases, 286 recovered, 16 deaths and 3781 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 141 positive cases with 23 active positives, 116 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1584 negative tests. Calhoun County had 26 positive cases with 3 active cases, 23 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1295 negative tests. These numbers will be updated later today.

In the US there has been 6,417,186 cumulative cases, 2,403,511 recoveries, and 192,381 deaths.
Globally there has been 28,268,970 cumulative cases, 19,048,042 recoveries, and 911,282 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/-hDdiFr2BMA

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/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

Hutchinson will provide another statewide update on Tuesday. We'll provide you with information from that press conference as well as any other developments. 

OUACHITA COUNTY FAIR GEARING UP FOR 2020 CELEBRATION OF “WE’VE GOT A GOOD THING GROWING”, SEPTEMBER 23-26 IN CAMDEN, AR.
Camden AR - The 2020 Ouachita County Fair will kick off 4 days of fun on Sept. 23-26 once again held at the Ouachita County Recreational Center (Former Boys & Girls Club Facility) at 2708 Mt Holly Rd. Camden, AR 71701.

Join us at the Ouachita County Recreational Center to support the youth of our community who are involved in 4-H and FFA programs. We will have all the things you love and expect from our county fair. Cows. Chickens. Goats. Hogs. Cotton Candy and Funnel Cakes. Plus there will be exhibits showcasing all our local talent, everything from preserved fruits and vegetables, baked items, hand crafted quilts, crafts, photography, and much, much more.

New addition to the fair this year will be a Gospel Concert by the Jordan Family Band on Saturday, Sept 19th, 7:00p.m.$5.00 admission. Please bring your lawn chairs.

Due to Covid-19 and regulations from Department of Health, there will be no carnival this year. However, we will serve fair food on Friday night. The fairboard will prepare your favorite caramel apples, funnel cakes, cotton candy and other fair favorites. There is no admission fee to purchase food.

Whatever your interests, the Ouachita County Fair has something that’s sure to excite your imagination, tickle your taste buds, or spark your imagination.

COST:
Admission – $5.00
Parking – Free!

EVENTS & ACTIVITIES SCHEDULE:
SATURDAY, SEPT. 19
Concert: The Jordan Family Band
Satruday Night Sept. 19th at 7pm
$5.00 admission
Bring your lawn chair, and enjoy the music!

MONDAY & TUESDAY
5pm – 8pm Enter creative arts @ Shaddock Gym

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 23
Sheep & Goat Show
6:00pm
$5.00 admission
Merge Youth Rally
7:00pm All churches are invited.
Speaker is Ryan Huffty from Cullendale First Baptist
Hot Dog & Drink $1.00
$3.00 gate admission

THURSDAY, SEPT. 24
Beef & Swine Show
6:00pm
$5.00 admission

FRIDAY, SEPT. 25
Premium Sale Lunch, served in to-go trays
11:30am
Premium Sale
12:00pm
Beginning at 5:00 the fair board will sell fair food (Caramel Apples, Funnel Cakes, Cotton Candy, Sno-Cones) Along with other items. No admission to purchase food. All food will be served in to-go trays.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 26
Cornhole Tournament
Competition will begin at 9:00am
$40.00 per team
Craft Vendors
10:00am-3:00pm
Kid’s Hands on Activities
12:00pm-2:00pm
Talent Contest “Next Big Thing”
Winner in every age division will win a plaque
Sign-ups will begin at 6:00p.m.
Entry fee $25.00
Admission is $5.00
The audience will be the judge.

 

STATE POLICE COMMISSION APPROVES SERGEANT PROMOTION
Arkansas State Trooper First Class Ryne Shelton, 30, of Pike County, was promoted to the rank of sergeant today during a meeting of the Arkansas State Police Commission.  The recommendation for promotion was made by Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and approved by the commissioners.
Sergeant Shelton is a six year veteran of the department and has accepted a new assignment as a post supervisor in the Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, headquartered at Hope.
Prior to the promotion, Sergeant Shelton was assigned to patrol duties in Pike County where served in the Highway Patrol Division, Troop K, headquartered at Hot Springs.

ARKANSAS DELEGATION ANNOUNCES MAJOR DOT AWARDS FOR US 67 & RAILROAD OVERPASS IN MONTICELLO
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—announced the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $10 million for improvements to U.S. Highway 67 northeast of Little Rock and $4 million for the construction of a railroad overpass in Monticello.

DOT awarded a $10 million grant from the Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) program which will be used to widen U.S. Highway 67 from four to six lanes, construct an overpass, convert frontage roads to one-way operation and reconstruct two interchanges. This grant follows a $40 million award the project received from DOT’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program in June.

“This is great news for Arkansas, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make U.S. Highway 67 an interstate-quality road. This funding will bring us closer to completing ‘Future I-57,” which is key for making the communities around it even more attractive places to live, work or start a business,” delegation members said.

An additional $4 million BUILD grant was awarded by DOT for the construction of a railroad overpass on the north-south connector from U.S. Highway 278 to the Arkansas Highway 83 Spur in Monticello. The project will create better access to emergency health care and improve the overall safety of the route by allowing a safe bypass of the rail tracks for vehicular traffic. 

“Growth in Monticello has led to congestion and safety challenges, specifically on the north-south connector which is used to access critical medical care. Fortunately, officials from the city and Drew County have a plan to alleviate these concerns. This BUILD grant will help supplement local investment to add an overpass to the north-south connector so vehicular traffic can move in a safe and timely manner,” delegation members said.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao noted that these grants were part of a larger announcement to fund critical surface transportation projects across the nation.

“This Administration is making significant investments in infrastructure, and this $1 billion in BUILD grants will repair, rebuild and revitalize transportation systems across America,” said Secretary Chao.

“We are grateful for President Trump and Secretary Chao’s continued commitment to the infrastructure ne