Thursday, August 31, 2006
Thursday, at last!
Despite a daylong meeting Wednesday, lawmakers are still unable to reach agreement on how to adequately fund the state public school system. Act 57 of the 2003 special session sets a September 1 deadline, and it was a previous failure to meet this requirement caused the state Supreme Court to rule state public education unconstitutional in December of last year.
The state’s share of public school construction costs increased from the $265 million reported in June to $277 million Wednesday, largely because of school district officials reworking their building projects to conform to minimum construction standards set by the state.
A Jackson neurologist accused the Mississippi Department of Health Wednesday of underreporting by almost half the number of West Nile virus cases in Mississippi. Dr. Art Leis, a clinical professor of neurology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, told the Senate Public Health Committee the number of West Nile cases over the past year is 31, but the real number should be 60.
The Wichita Wranglers are finished negotiating a lease contract with Springdale, team President Jon Dandes said Wednesday. “To the major points in the lease, we have no intention of even having a conversation about them,” Dandes said. “If the City Council does not want this team, they need to say so. We’ve got other options.” The Springdale City Council agreed to propose major changes Tuesday to a proposed lease, which Mayor Jerre Van Hoose and City Attorney Jeff Harper finalized last week with team officials.
This spring’s primary and runoff elections - the first held since a federal law expanded the use of electronic voting machines - cost Arkansas roughly $600,000 more than elections in recent years, according to estimates released Wednesday. State officials attributed the added expense to the cost of programming the electronic voting machines and printing specialized ballots.
President Bush ventured inside a private west Little Rock gated community yesterday for a luncheon which raised $400,000 for the Republican gubernatorial candidate and $250,000 for the state party.
Efforts to ensure that residents in northeast Arkansas are prepared for the aftermath of an earthquake are continuing with a new program that matches three counties along the New Madrid fault with three counties outside the area. The “sister counties” program, created by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, is designed so counties not directly affected by a catastrophe can offer law enforcement, first responders, a system to back up computer records and other assistance to counties in need.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is participating in a five-year study to determine how a weight-loss program delivered over the Internet stacks up against face-to-face programs delivered in group settings, such as Weight Watchers.
Jessica Palmer, a Benton County coroner's assistant was fired for telling police she suspected her boss was mishandling prescription drugs taken from the homes of dead people, but the woman's job performance was so poor she'd have been fired anyway, a Benton County Grievance Committee voted Wednesday.
Authorities expanded their search Wednesday for a Pine Bluff teenager who went missing in Dumas three days earlier, but bloodhounds, mounted police and an army of volunteers riding all-terrain and four-wheel-drive vehicles were unable to locate Casey Crowder.
CheckUps, a retail-based, non-emergency walk-in medical facility, has reached an agreement with Wal-Mart to open 20 new clinics in the Southeast by the end of 2006. The first of the new clinics will open in the Wal-Mart store located in Forest, Ms., while six are planned for the Jackson area.