Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday summary

The Democrat-Gazette is reporting that former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain is planning to transfer to Southern California. Mustain is still enrolled at Arkansas as a freshman, but left the football program in January. He will have to sit out next season because of NCAA eligibility rules, but would be cleared to play for the Trojans in 2008.

The head of Arkansas' economic development office says that portions of the state aren't providing a work force sufficiently trained for some kinds of businesses. She called for a better "connection" between schools and development efforts. In an interview with The Associated Press, Economic Development Commission director Maria Haley wouldn't say which regions of Arkansas lacked a qualified work force.

Arkansas National Guard officials now say that retirements and discharges of 39th Infantry Brigade soldiers are no longer being delayed. Two days earlier, Col. Kendall Penn, brigade commander, said that he was holding retirement and discharge requests from his soldiers pending clarification of stop-loss - a secretary of defense directive that delays such requests in the months leading up to and during a deployment.

Senators say they took notice when Sen. Mark Pryor expressed out-of-character outrage over the Bush administration's appointment of an interim federal prosecutor in Arkansas. Pryor's anger helped spark interest in how the Bush administration was handling U.S. attorneys, and was a factor leading to a key hearing where Attorney General Alberto Gonzales acknowledged he was trying to save his job.

About 300 black students in the Brinkley School District boycotted classes again Thursday, missing a second day of Arkansas Benchmark Exams. An adult boycott leader cites three areas of concern: the layoffs of two black school administrators and allegations of unfair disciplining of black students and an unwillingness by the district’s superintendent, who is white, and a majority-white School Board, to consider “black issues.”

Gov. Mike Beebe is one of 29 governors praised by a public education advocacy group for making pre-kindergarten a priority. In a report, the group Pre-K Now noted that Beebe proposed $40 million in additional pre-k funding during his successful gubernatorial campaign last year, and pushed the proposal through the Legislature this year.

The matriarch of the world's most successful and largest retail company has died. Helen Walton, the widow of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, was 87. A statement from Wal-Mart released late Thursday night said she died in her Bentonville home of natural causes.

Wal-Mart paid its president and chief executive officer $22.91 million in 2006, according to the proxy statement the company filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The state Game and Fish Commission will pay $8.2 million - more than the appraised value - in a "once in a lifetime" land deal for elk habitat along the Buffalo River. The 2,761-acre tract is in western Searcy County and adjoins the Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area and the Buffalo National River. It is prime elk habitat, a major need in the area.

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee urged federal officials to reject a proposed Indian casino in Fort Smith, saying in a letter that it would go against the express wishes of Arkansans and Sebastian County voters in particular. Huckabee made those statements in the Sept. 12 letter not disclosed publicly until Thursday.

Arkansas lawmakers would oppose new federal gun control legislation in response to Virginia Tech murders, members of the state’s congressional delegation said Wednesday.

Dardanelle Hospital will soon become known by another name, River Valley Medical Center. The hospital has been leased to Allegiance Health Management of Shreveport, La. Allegiance has taken over all hospital debts and is to lease the facility at $15,000 a month for five years plus two roll-overs, essentially 15 years total.

The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board denied a Newport liquor store a permit Wednesday to transfer its location outside of city limits. The plan had been opposed by some nearby residents.

The 67th annual Arkansas Boys State is scheduled for June 3-8 at the University of Central Arkansas, according to a news release from the American Legion Department of Arkansas.

The pre-kindergarten program promoted by Gov.Beebe is the start of another state funded program. The state education department does not fund programs for students younger than kindergarten. My local district is trying to start a new program from funds from the Health Department. They have a paid pre-k program now but if they get the grant then they will offer a free program for 120 kids. Sounds like they are trying to run private child care out of business. The superintendent stated there is a lot of money available so the district should get it's hands on some.
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