Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tuesday summary

Razorback basketball coach Stan Heath is out. Bob Holt reports in the Democrat-Gazette that Arkansas soon will be paying three head basketball coaches. That includes Nolan Richardson, Stan Heath and whoever is hired as the Razorbacks’ next coach. Richardson has been receiving $500,000 per year as his buyout since being fired March 1, 2002. He is due to be paid through June 2008.

Three attorneys with strong in-state Republican ties confirm they are in the running to replace Tim Griffin as chief federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Arkansas. Jason Hendren of Little Rock, the son of U.S. District Judge Jimm Hendren, former Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Betty Dickey, and State Rep. Michael Lamoureux, of Russellville, have been in discussions with Congressman John Boozman's office.

A bill to make cruel treatment of dogs and cats a felony was defeated in a House committee Monday. Joining Arkansas Farm Bureau in in supporting the torture of animals were: Reps. James Norton, R-Harrison; Stan Berry, R-Dover; Lenville Evans, D-Lonoke; Scott Sullivan, D-De Queen; Roy Ragland, R-Marshall; Eddie Cooper, D-Melbourne; Monty Davenport, D-Yelleville; and Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs.

The House on Monday approved a $456 million appropriation for public school improvements, along with a proposed constitutional amendment to authorize annual legislative sessions.

the Senate passed legislation that makes all school districts eligible to receive some money and approved a revolving loan fund for building facilities in high-growth districts.

“Enhanced” education funding will get more protection from possible revenue shortfalls the next couple of years under a revised proposed state general revenue budget. Joint Budget Committee Co-chairman Sen. Shawn Womack of Mountain Home, says the move is a message to the state Supreme Court that the state is giving a high priority to education.

A bill aimed at preventing what supporters call “forced abortions” failed to clear an Arkansas Senate committee on Monday. It’s Senate Bill 871 by Sen. Sharon Trusty of Russellville.

The state Senate passed a measure Monday to create a “milk stabilization board,” moving the state one-step closer to regulating the milk industry and possibly helping dairy farmers distressed by high fuel and grain costs.

Senate Bill 795 by Sen. Henry Wilkins of Pine Bluff, places an excise tax on liquor and wines and would raise $10 million a year. Of that, 70 percent would go to drug abuse prevention and treatment, 24 percent to programs that help abused spouses and children and 6 percent to support the Arkansas State Police abused child hotline. It passed 20-0 and goes to the House.

In day 13 of the public corruption trial in Cabot, current and former Lonoke police officers testified about department policies and procedures, as well as alleged impropriety by former Police Chief Jay Campbell during his tenure as head of the department.

A circuit judge dismissed felony theft counts against the former West Helena mayor and five ex-aldermen, saying the prosecuting attorney had failed to properly document the charges and had neglected to have a judge sign the subsequent arrest warrants. Circuit Judge L.T. Simes III, presiding in Phillips County Circuit Court, stated in a 14-page order that affidavits filed by the prosecutor’s office in support of the arrests lacked findings of probable cause that felonies had been committed, as required by state law.

A woman apparently became entangled in a trotline during a weekend fishing trip to Lake Cargile and she and two others drowned after their boat capsized. Conway County Sheriff Mike Smith identified the victims as Tina Petty, her husband, Joseph “Tony” Petty and her brother, Tim Moses all of Morrilton. The sheriff said the three were not wearing life jackets.

A 40-year old Jonesboro man and a 3-year Paragould child died this weekend in two separate accidents involving all-terrain vehicles, reports from Jonesboro police and the Arkansas State Police both said.

Arkansans have been hit with foreclosure notices at the rate of one for every 103 houses in the past 12 months, according to RealtyTrac of Irvine, Calif. Nationwide, there was one foreclosure for every 88 houses during the past 12 months.

Work could begin in June on the first phase of the $1.2 million Russellville Regional Airport taxiway relocation project. Airport officials hope work can begin in June. The project’s first phase is expected to take six months to complete.

Genetically engineered crop field research will suffer because of the contamination of U.S. long-grain rice supplies by traces of unapproved transgenic rice, according to one Arkansas researcher.

Portions of four streets in North Little Rock’s historic Argenta neighborhood will be offlimits to parking during baseball games and other events once Dickey-Stephens Park opens.

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