Friday, March 09, 2007

Sunny Friday summary

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reports that A 13-year-old boy once in the care of a Bella Vista foster parent arrested Wednesday on sexual assault charges said he called police after a November incident when the man yelled and threw hangers, chairs and suitcases at them. A police officer who responded in November confirmed the account, and Bella Vista detective Barb Shrum confirmed the boy was one of about 30 that stayed with Brian J. Bergthold while he was a foster parent.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied Gov. Mike Beebe’s request for a federal disaster declaration for Desha County, hit by a tornado on Feb. 24. But FEMA said it would work through the General Services Administration to obtain 30 FEMA travel trailers and mobile homes for Desha County residents who need temporary housing. Authorities had requested 125 trailers. FEMA is storing over 8,000 new and furnished mobile homes at the Hope airport.

A bill to prod the North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts to exit a long-running federal desegregation case was endorsed by a legislative committee. The House Education Committee recommended House Bill 1829 by Rep. Will Bond, of Jacksonville. It now goes to the House.

The House on Wednesday approved legislation appropriating $5.2 billion for public schools over the next two years and reconsidered a bill changing the process for approving charter schools.

Gov. Mike Beebe's request for a quick-action closing fund to seal economic development deals received quick action from a Senate committee.

Legislators would get 50 percent increases in their office-expense allowances and 50 percent increases in stipends for being chairmen of committees under a bill endorsed by the Joint Budget Committee on Thursday.

Representatives from the towing industry and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel reached an agreement Thursday on an amendment to a bill to allow vehicle owners to recover certain personal items from a towed vehicle.

A coalition of business and civic groups decried rising rail shipping rates and declining rail service Thursday and called on Arkansas' congressional delegation to support anti-trust legislation for railroads. Railroads are currently exempt from anti-trust laws.

A relationship that began with a “friendly hug” and a game of footsie progressed to sex with the Lonoke police chief’s wife in the chief’s office, a state prison inmate testified during the fourth day of testimony in the trial of former Police Chief Jay Campbell; his wife, Kelly; and Bobby Junior Cox, a bail bondsman. The three are accused of being part of a criminal organization seeking drugs, sex and money.

The Pulaski County District Court had a surprise guest when the man wanted in Little Rock’s first homicide of 2007 arrived at a hearing to enter a plea in earlier criminal cases. Jermaine Norrise was quickly detained by court officers and turned over to Little Rock police.

Rita Glaze, secretary to former White County Sheriff Pat Garrett, reportedly stole $58,581 during the last two years of Garrett’s administration, and Garrett did not report to the circuit court on the missing money as required. The discovery arose from an audit by the state legislative joint auditing committee.

A 35-year-old Fort Smith man is facing 32 years in prison after being found guilty in a jury trial he chose over a more lenient plea offer. Chor Jott Phavixay was found guilty of methamphetamine delivery that occurred on Aug. 24 when he was accused of selling the drug to a confidential informant.

Twenty drunken driving cases are lost after a clerical error sent subpoenaes to a wrong address and prosecutors had no witnesses for trial. "I've been a lawyer 20 years and I've never seen that happen before," said Rogers attorney Doug Norwood, who represented the 18 clients who walked free. "And they were bad cases -- the facts were not good for us."

The state’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent, down from 5.4 percent in December, according to a report by Arkansas’ Department of Workforce Services. The U.S. rate was 4.6 percent in January, up from 4.5 percent in December.

After years of conflict and negotiations between Central Arkansas Water and Deltic Timber about whether to allow development along the shores of Lake Maumelle, utility leaders learned that the landowner has agreed to sell 700 acres of disputed land on the south shore.

A group of farm-state lawmakers say they will try again to prevent animal waste from being classified as a pollutant, an exemption opposed by environmental groups and plaintiffs in a case against Arkansas poultry companies.

Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corp. asked state regulators for a $5.1 million-a-year rate increase, citing higher costs to serve a shrinking customer base.

A Pulaski County circuit judge has ordered a Conway construction company to turn over a slew of records relating to the construction of a $35 million University of Arkansas dormitory, siding with an advocacy group of contractors who argued they should be considered public records.

By 14 to 3 vote, the Arkansas Activities Association's Board of Directors denied an appeal by North Little Rock, clearing the way for Conway to loose Fort Smith North Side in the girls 7A state championship basketball game, 69 - 49. Conway player Sidney Stewart was ruled ineligible but Conway did not have to forfeit any games because of a rule that if the error is a legitimate transcript error there is no forfeit penalty.

Elijah Dobbs and James Ellis of Newport will make their television debut Friday. Dobbs, 14, and Ellis, 17, will appear on CMT's "Country Fried Home Videos," which airs at 8 p.m. and repeats at 10.

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