Monday, February 26, 2007

Early Monday morning summar

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter says damage was so severe it appeared “high explosives” destroyed an number of homes in Dumas, where state police resumed a door-to-door search trying to account for everyone after a tornado cut through a portion of town a day earlier.

Gov. Mike Beebe will cut short his first trip to an annual governors conference so he can return to the state to help direct the emergency response to a tornado that struck Dumas on Saturday.

A federal judge has released the Little Rock School District from decades of court monitoring of its desegregation efforts.

House members will hear details on a $121.7 million plan to increase per-student funding for school districts, while the Legislature expects to see the details of Gov. Mike Beebe’s highway plan.

This week, lawmakers in Little Rock are expected to decide the fate of bills such as those aimed at cracking down on payday lenders and allowing law enforcement to pull over drivers for not wearing seat belts.

House leaders have outlined their latest idea for using state funds for local projects and organizations, a plan that would rely on city and county governments and state agencies to dole out grant money to local groups.

Lonoke County’s prosecuting attorney has asked her counterpart in neighboring Arkansas County to handle the review of a 19-month-old investigation into Jefferson County government, and she says he has agreed to do it.

Aaron Arzola-Almeida is under arrest in connection with a hit-and-run accident that killed a young Springdale girl Sunday. Debbie Sorimle was hit by an unidentified driver in front of her house Sunday afternoon a week ago. The girl was laying face down on a skateboard that went into the street and was hit by a black, mid- to late-1990s Honda Accord.

A 17-year-old boy who was caring for his girlfriend’s 18-month-old toddler while the mother was at work will be charged as an adult in the girl’s death this week in rural southeastern Pope County.

Harding University will host a panel discussion and seminar on sexual addiction. Richard Blankenship, a counselor in sexual addiction, will lead both events.

A John Brown University initiative to help build strong marriages in Northwest Arkansas will get $2.7 million in federal help.

Plans for a sports arena in Rogers have been scaled down to reduce the financial risk, but developer Chris Talley maintains the project is still on track to bring professional women's basketball to Rogers. The original proposal for a $55 million arena is now a $38 million facility, and 9,000 seats will now be 7,000 seats.

The mayor of Anderson, Mo., hopes a group of Arkansas investors interested in bringing a NASCAR track to McDonald County will succeed. Bob Corcoran confirmed that investors have been poking around for a potential race track site near his city, which sits about 16 miles north of the Arkansas-Missouri border.

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