Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday summary

George Howard Jr., who regularly extolled the virtues of “this great nation” and presided over some of the Whitewater trials, died Saturday after serving as a federal judge for more than a quarter of a century. He was 82. He was frequently refered to as “George the Just” around the Federal Courthouse.

The General Assembly will reconvene April 30 to enact a new law that would replace a half-dozen bills the governor vetoed earlier this month, legislative leaders said Friday. The meeting is a response to Gov. Mike Beebe’s rejection of bills he believed violated a constitutional prohibition against enacting local and special legislation.

Fort Smith attorney Rebekah Kennedy will seek the Green Party’s nomination to run for U. S. Senate in 2008. Kennedy was an unsuccessful candidate for Attorney General last year. Kennedy told Pat Lynch last week that Senator Mark Pryor lags behind Arkansans and Democrats will pay a price for neglecting progressive issues.

Child advocates say allegations that employees twice abused a 15-year-old girl at the Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility within the last four weeks are proof that the lockup continues to flounder despite new management and should be shut down.

An argument between Charles Thomas, a starting forward for the Arkansas basketball team the past two seasons, and his ex-girlfriend resulted in skin abrasions on both and Thomas’ arrest Saturday on suspicion of third-degree domestic battery.

A boycott of the Brinkley School District by some black students went into its third day Friday, although with fewer participants. About 50 of some 300 students who began the boycott Wednesday to call attention to their concerns were back in classes as testing on the Arkansas benchmark exams continued.

A 4-week undercover operation by the Jonesboro Police Department has netted three arrests for attempting to contact a child for sex.

Going on the size of crowds gathering in Conway at around 9:30 Saturday night, the End of the World event could have been the biggest ever according to Lt. Andy Shock of the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office. The yearly event is hosted by the University of Central Arkansas' Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

A Forth Smith Northside High School student was arrested on suspicion of first-degree terroristic threatening after police say he wrote a message on his desk expressing admiration for the gunman in the Virginia Tech shootings.

A federal lawsuit in which two women allege they were sexually assaulted while they were inmates at the Franklin County jail has been stayed pending an appeal by three defendants, on the grounds that, as government officials, they are protected from lawsuits. Former jailer Brad Loughridge pleaded guilty in March 2006 to one count of third-degree sexual assault in the incident.

A U.S. District Court judge will decide in a few days if an assistant principal in the Watson Chapel School District who won a civil lawsuit last year will be allowed to reopen the case. At issue is the district’s payment of a $100,000 judgment for lost wages and damages. It is also alleged that the superintendent committed perjury during the trial.

A grand opening is planned for Arkansas' new Mexican Consulate in Little Rock this week amid fanfare by supporters pushing economic prospects and protest by an opponent who warns of a surge of illegal immigrants into the state. immigration opponent Joe McCutcheon of Fort Smith says he planned to air radio advertisements opposing the consulate, beginning today.

A Hino Motors official in Tokyo says that an earlier statement from a company spokesman that the automaker wouldn’t build a vehicle assembly plant in Marion was “incorrect.”

Office and Professional Employees International Union will continue to represent registered nurses at St. Vincent Infirmary. A majority of registered nurses voted for continued union representation during elections held April 19, 20 and 21.

Parents who have had stillborn babies will be allowed to obtain a type of birth certificate from the state Health Division this summer.

Administrators at the federal prison complex in Forrest City have barred the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from attending quarterly meetings with community members, including one this week, despite a Bureau of Prison policy stating the meetings enhance “public understanding about corrections.”

Secretary of State Charlie Daniels and the state’s Democratic delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives are at odds over a bill that would once again overhaul the equipment states use to hold elections.

The Washington County Election Commission certified the April 10 election Friday, but a legal quandary remains. An overseas absentee ballot, from Fayetteville resident Michael K. Lee, lists the wrong address on the application for absentee voting.

Former U.S. Rep. Tommy F. Robinson and an attorney who has represented him, Roy C. “Bill” Lewellen, were ordered by a bankruptcy judge on Friday to pay more than $134,000 to Robinson’s creditors. The two men will share responsibility for the damages, which will cover the $110,000 cost of a property auction that was canceled because of a lawsuit Lewellen filed Dec. 18 on Robinson’s behalf.

A fired Wal-Mart Stores Inc. security worker says he did not eavesdrop on the company’s board of directors or investigate dissident shareholder groups, Wal-Mart said in a statement and an accompanying deposition released late Friday.

Tyson Valley Distribution Center may face penalties stemming from the deadly fall of a warehouse worker Oct. 16, 2006. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $19,625 in fines for the center. OSHA issued Tyson one citation for five “serious” violations and a second citation for which there was no proposed fine.

Faced with reduced revenue estimates for the second year in a row, the Arkansas Beef Council hammered out a $426,000 budget Friday at its annual meeting in Fayetteville, managing to fund new research while reducing support for other programs.

IBM gave University of Arkansas business students a major technology boost Friday in the form of a $25.5 million gift in computer hardware and software.

Brett Keller, a 2003 Searcy High School graduate now attending Harding University, has been named as one of 65 Truman Scholars nationwide. He is the first Truman Scholar from Harding and the only Arkansas recipient in 2007.

Altheimer Lumber Co., a landmark business in this eroding but once-prosperous city, will be shutting its doors for a final time on Wednesday afternoon. The store has long been a favorite gathering spot for coffee drinkers and “bull shooters,” who through the years have helped in giving the business a personality all its own.

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