Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wednesday summary

Despite the untimely departure of several key players and the offensive coordinator, and controversy over cell phone records related to an offensive email directed to former quarterback Mitch Mustain, Arkansas Razorback coach Houston Dale Nutt has secured a $160,000 annual raise (over $3,000 weekly) increase. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports his annual compensation at $1,209,644.

Arkansas' personal income rate grew 4.7 percent between 2005 and 2006, but the state still fell one spot to 48th nationwide in per capita income, according to preliminary federal figures. Personal income in 2006 grew to $27,935 ($537 weekly) per capita.

80 year-old Athletic Director Frank Broyles, forced to announce his retirement earlier this year, says he has, in effect, offered the basketball job to his No. 1 candidate even though he had not spoken to him. Stan Heath, fired from the job earlier this week, had twice taken his team to the NCAA tournament and done nothing to bring disrepute upon the University.

The future of Arkansas guard Patrick Beverley, the SEC Freshman of the Year, remained unclear Tuesday while guard Sean McCurdy pushed ahead with a request to transfer.

A House committee has rejected, for the second time, a bill requiring drivers hauling gravel, sand or rock on public roadways to place a tarp over their loads.

A bill to levy a 1 percent tax on retail beer sales was approved Tuesday by the House Rules Committee.

An effort to start a state housing trust fund for the homeless failed in the Joint Budget Committee.

A “hate crime” bill passed by the state Senate would provide enhanced penalties based on “prejudice against the victim” if that prejudice is based on behavior or characteristics “that could be identified by the perpetrator.” The penalties apply in cases of criminal mischief, criminal trespass, harassment and harassing communications.

The Arkansas Senate unanimously voted Monday to send to the governor a bill that would allow for a special election on whether the state Natural Resources Commission may issue up to an additional $300 million in general obligation bonds. Unless the General Assembly authorizes a greater amount to be issued during a biennium, the total principal amount to be issued during any biennium would be limited to $60 million.

Gov. Mike Beebe says that the General Improvement Fund projection has grown from $844 million to $919 million, making more money available for projects around the state.

A proposed ban on homosexuals adopting or fostering children collapsed in the Arkansas Legislature on Tuesday, failing twice to win the approval of a House committee.

State Police Director Col. Steve Dozier prefers the state buy a new airplane that the governor would use. Governor Beebe flew commercial to a Democratic Party function in Phoenix last weekend and the Party paid the cost. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee flew more than 1,500 hours on the plane, costing taxpayers nearly $600,000 since 2002, including flying to political functions such as the 2004 Republican National Convention.

The Arkansas Senate passed a resolution Tuesday authorizing a subcommittee to accept public and private contributions and commission a bust in honor of the late Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller in the state Capitol.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is seeking a divorce from his wife. McDaniel filed the divorce case in Craighead County Circuit Court. The petition says McDaniel and his wife, Amanda, separated on January 16th, a week after he was sworn in as attorney general.

The entire Fort Smith School District is on alert status for not meeting certain goals under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. While there are no consequences of being warned by the state Department of Education that the district is on alert status, it does cast a light on the largest urban school district in western Arkansas.

Magic Springs Development Co. has signed an agreement to sell its Hot Springs amusement park to a real estate investment trust. CNL Income Properties of Orlando, Fla., will close on the purchase before April 30. It will then lease Magic Springs & Crystal Falls back to Magic Springs Development, which will continue to run the park.

Testimony in the Lonoke corruption trial was limited to phone company representatives talking about call records and to a Lonoke shop owner discussing his suspicion that Kelly Campbell stole $500 from his store. Day 14 of the corruption trial was delayed while prosecutors reshuffled their witness list.

A Seligman, Mo., man will spend 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting a Lake Atalanta jogger in July. Billy Gene Davis, 36, was a convicted sex offender when he assaulted a 19-year-old woman jogging around the lake on July 22, 2005 in Rogers. A law passed in 2001 will keep him in prison for his entire sentence because he is a repeat offender.

Fort Smith lawyer Oscar Stilley, who went to jail in February after the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered that he serve 30 days for a contempt-of-court finding, will remain in the Sebastian County jail a bit longer while he gathers financial records required by the courts.

A Craighead County woman faces criminal charges after she allegedly stole a teddy bear from the arms of a 3-year-old child on March 22. Judge Keith Blackman found probable cause to charge Tonya Marie Taylor of Bono, with breaking or entering in connection with the incident.

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