Monday, April 16, 2007

Monday summary

Almost 30 percent of Entergy Arkansas’ latest rate increase request covers stock options and incentive pay - mostly for top management and mainly at its New Orleans-based parent, Entergy Corp. That’s about $30 million of the $106.5 million request in annual billing that Arkansas’ largest electricity provider wants the Arkansas Public Service Commission to approve. But the state attorney general wants all of the $15.4 million in options and about half the $14.6 million in incentive pay that Entergy seeks thrown out.

Congressional investigators have discovered that interim U.S. attorney Tim Griffin joined a behind-the-scenes move to justify his politically motivated appointment, an effort that included a White House request for one senator to ask "friendly questions" about Griffin's qualifications at a hearing. Griffin was a top deputy to White House political adviser Karl Rove and served two stints with the Republican National Committee.

The Senate voted 63-34 last week to end the Bush administration's ban on federal funding to expand embryonic stem cell research. Senators Lincoln and Pryor both voted for the bill.

After record sales figures in 2006, Hino Motors Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp.'s commercial-vehicle unit, said it will consider adding a second U.S. factory for medium-duty trucks in the Southeast. But not in Marion, where the company already has a $160 million, 400,000 square foot parts facility, according to Hino Motors Sales USA Inc. marketing manager Chad Bamberg.

Prosecutors painted former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell as a “king” who treated the city of Lonoke as his “fiefdom,” while defense attorneys portrayed him as a target of overzealous prosecutors who“threw everything on the wall to see what sticks.” The six-man, six-woman panel won’t begin deliberations until Monday morning because court recessed for the weekend. Should the jury return any guilty verdicts, a sentencing phase will follow during which both sides can put on additional evidence.

A team of 12 consultants will be on the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville campus Monday and Tuesday conducting the university’s overall accreditation review.

The Arkansas Air National Guard’s 188th Fighter Wing stationed in Fort Smith has two years to get up to speed in its newly acquired A-10 Thunderbolt before it’s called into service overseas, the wing’s commander said. The 188th is scheduled to fill a role in the Air Expeditionary Force in 2009, wing commander Col. Kevin Wear said.

The Russellville city council has leaned that hotel developer John A. Hammons will not proceed on developing a $40 million hotel and convention center if a liquor permit cannot be secured. Details of his proposed contract were discussed during a meeting called to consider calling a special election to approve continuing a bond program which, in part, would putchase the land for a convention center.

A Pulaski County probation program has denied an open records request from a parent opposing its attempt to locate near her children’s school. Little Rock resident Barbara Cockrell requested access to Cycle Breakers Inc. audits, bank statements, checks and other financial documents in a Freedom of Information request in March. She argued that the program should be subject to the open-records law because it receives probation fees and carries on public business.

Although the freezing temperatures Easter weekend have damaged crops in the county, the “real crop status” will be not be evident until next week, said Jason Kelley, extension agronomist-wheat and feed grains, with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

Farms and small businesses damaged by the recent severe cold weather may receive assistance, according to a news release from the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

With just over five months remaining until the 50th anniversary of Little Rock Central High School’s integration, organizers have raised nearly 60 percent of the approximately $450,000 budget.

A Hot Springs couple that was aboard a cruise ship that sunk earlier this month near Greece say a ship employee’s kindness helped them survive. Benjamin and Oteka Best were among 1,600 rescued when the Sea Diamond sunk.

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