Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday (feels very early) summary

Stan Heath, who has not caused dissention among players and coaches, and whose wife has forwarded no offensive or insulting emails to student athletes, will lead the Razorback basketball team to the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas will play Southern California in the first round.

The Mark Pryor reelection campaign is sitting on an $800,000 war chest this morning after its’ first fundraiser Saturday evening.

A union-funded political campaign is costing Wal-Mart sales, locking it out of some markets where it seeks to expand and driving up the company’s internal costs, according to an investment analyst.

A Wal-Mart employee fired last week over accusations that he intercepted and recorded calls from a news reporter and others says he felt pressured to uncover who at the retail giant was leaking embarrassing information to outsiders.

Today is the 64th day of the 86th General Assembly and Arkansas lawmakers have major work ahead before they end this regular session.

The House on Friday took final action on two bills that form the framework of the state's $5.2 billion public school funding formula for the next two years. A spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe says a signing ceremony for the two bills, and an already approved bill that appropriates the funding, likely will occur this week.

Two bills signed into law last week, will allow the state to offer incentives to nursing home owners to explore building a different kind of long-term care facility known as a Green House. It also will permit a variance in staffing standards for such facilities. Nancy Johnson, vice president of Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents, said her organization supported the bills “wholeheartedly” and wants to see Green House nursing homes established in Arkansas

Rep. Sharon Dobbins defends legislation that would require direct legislative oversight of state prisons, telling a House panel that she won’t back down from a powerful corrections lobby.

Diametrically opposed on most social issues, one cause in the Legislature has forged perhaps the closest thing to an agreement between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Family Council -- breastfeeding. The ACLU supports House Bill 2411, which would remove public breastfeeding from Arkansas' indecent exposure law, and the Family Council of Arkansas does not oppose the measure.

Though the beginning of 2007 has seen far fewer fires in Arkansas than the drought-afflicted start to 2006, the threat of wildfires is high across more than half of the state, according to the state Forestry Commission.

Police continue to schedule interviews with children who may have been abused by a foster parent, said Bella Vista Chief James Wozniak. Brian Bergthold is being held in lieu of a $50,000 bond.

Edward Dean Schuler of Russellville is charged with raping his 4-year-old daughter. According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Pope County Circuit Court, the victim, now living in Arizona, told Arizona police the incident occurred in 2006, when the family lived in Dover. Schuler said during the bond hearing he had two previous felony convictions.

A Shell Lake man is dead after trying to steal copper from highline poles near Widener, according to the St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies identified the victim as Terry Padgett.

The former head dispatcher of the Lonoke Police Department testified that former Chief Jay Campbell borrowed $200 from the department’s commissary fund and never paid it back. He also took some prisoner medication that he never returned, Lisa Marty testified.

A Little Rock teenager who claims he was forced to participate in a December bank robbery where shots were fired lost an effort to have his case transferred to juvenile court. Pulaski County Circuit Judge John Langston, citing the violence of the holdup, declined to transfer the case involving 17-year-old Ray Lewis Jr.

Sebastian County Circuit Judge J. Michael Fitzhugh has denied Greenwood Mayor Kenneth Edwards’ motion to dismiss a civil suit that contends he has no right to his office. The suit contends Edwards is ineligible to be mayor because of felony convictions in Washington County in 1996.

Bentonville girls who let too much hang out will miss the big dance. Dresses must be modest, with full coverage of the bust and buttocks. Girls or guys who might like to bring a date from a different school can't in Rogers, but that's not an issue in Fayetteville.

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