Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday summary

The vice president of the private company that runs the Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility told a House committee Wednesday that he plans to hire a law enforcement officer to investigate every incident at the lockup. One of the latest abuse allegations involves a 14-year-old mentally ill boy who told the advocacy group, the Little Rock-based Disability Rights Center, that an employee broke his arm in early February while restraining him. The boy was not diagnosed with a broken arm until Feb. 27.

Arkansas tailback and Heisman Trophy candidate Darrenn McFadden spent an “overwhelming” afternoon at the state Capitol on Wednesday. He was honored with resolutions noting his accomplishments in both the House and Senate, and he posed for dozens and dozens of pictures with legislators, Capitol staffers and tour groups.

The Joint Committee on Constitutional Amendments voted Wednesday to advance proposals for annual legislative sessions and to clean up outdated language from the state constitution to the House and Senate. Faris' resolution would remove terms such as L"idiots," in reference to mentally disabled people, from the constitution's provisions concerning voting and elections.

The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday completed legislative action on a bill that would allow voters to decide whether to give the state authority to issue $575 million in bonds for interstate improvements.

Arkansas car owners could see a $12-a-year hike in their insurance premiums under an amended bill to create and fund a new trauma system in the state.

Web sites selling tickets above face value would be allowed to operate if they have the permission of event promoters and the venue, under a bill advanced by a House panel.

A bill that would prohibit state environmental regulators from investigating anonymous complaints sailed through a House committee despite concerns that it would have a chilling effect on whistle blowers and expand the reach of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The Russellville School Board will give the district’s junior-high and high-school students more opportunities to excel in math by offering more math courses The board agreed to the proposal that would give students the option of taking Algebra I during a two-year program, Parts A and B, instead of in one year.

Janice Blevins and Thelma Ray Jones have told the the Public Service Commission that the natural-gas-fired 60-megawatt plant the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. hopes to have running by June 15 at Elkins will disrupt their lives. Already, Jones said, she’s preparing to move.

A Pea Ridge man is under arrest in connection with a 1985 murder in Las Vegas. Charles Reese Conner went to the Probation and Parole Office in Bentonville, not realizing he would be met by Arkansas State Police officers who had an arrest warrant for him. Police were able to process a sample of Conner's DNA from his registered sex offender file to a DNA sample collected at the 1985 crime scene and got a match back earlier this month.

In telephone conversations played for a Lonoke County jury, Kelly Campbell asked a state inmate about his sexual fantasies and declared that, if what she did with him was rape, “That is not too bad a thing.” The tapes were played during the 11th day of testimony in the trial of Campbell; her husband, former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell; and Bobby Junior Cox, a bail bondsman. The three are accused of conspiring as part of a criminal organization aimed at getting money, sex and drugs.

Van Buren police are investigating whether a man arrested after a bank robbery Wednesday afternoon participated in a string of similar robberies in western and central Arkansas. Ernest Gail Lail of Landis, N.C., was arrested after he drove his car into a pond during a police chase after the First Community Bank of Crawford County was robbed.

A Fort Smith woman faces charges after she allegedly lied to Jonesboro police about being raped. She is the second woman in less than five weeks to tell local authorities she was raped before evidence indicated otherwise. Tracey Lynn Cutts was arrested after she was taken to St. Bernard’s Medical Center to have a rape test performed She then confessed that she had lied.

Prosecutors dropped rape and child pornography charges against a Bentonville man. Todd Wayne Hall was to face trial next week on charges of rape and five counts of possessing child pornography. Prosecutors began meeting with the reported victim in May 2006, but in January, the person began to digress and refused to talk about allegations. Prosecutors say although images of child pornography were found in the temporary internet file of Hall's computer, the state can't prove he viewed the illegal images, the motion states. Federal prosecutors also looked at the case but didn't seek an indictment.

A group of 10 Springdale Police officers are receiving special training for a newly formed Crime Suppression Unit. Officers will initially work part-time during their shifts, but will combine to have a full-time unit, primarily to combat gangs and graffiti in the city.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board unanimously approved a Bradford man’s application to manufacture wine in Jackson County. Winemaking has been a hobby of Donley G. Helms’ for the past five or six years, and he now hopes to capture a niche marketing specialty wines - muscadine and blackberry, for example - to restaurants and a few liquor stores.

Louisville women’s basketball coach Tom Collen is in town interviewing for the vacant Arkansas job, Women’s Athletic Director Bev Lewis said late Wednesday afternoon.

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