Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rainy Tuesday morning summary

The emphasis on Arkansas’ commitment to winning big in basketball again can be seen in new Coach John Pelphrey’s incentive-laden compensation agreement that in a perfect season could push $2 million.

The Arkansas National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade, which has already served one tour in Iraq, has been alerted to prepare for another possible year-long deployment sometime after October 1.

The fate of a proposed $26.5 million park complex for the city of Benton will be determined today when voters visit the polls in a special election. Forrest City voters will decide on local improvements and Fayetteville will consider impact fees for new land developments.

The decision to apply to a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement program attracted the attention of Hispanics in Rogers and Springdale. Unlike Rogers, the attention in Springdale is positive. "It's like night and day," said Jim Miranda, a Bella Vista resident and a member of the Mexican American Political Association. "Springdale invited us into the dialogue when they started. Rogers shut us out of the process."

Benton County should set an example and pass a resolution not to do business with any entity employing illegal immigrants, Justice of the Peace Burton Schindler said Monday.

In the first vetoes of his administration, Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday rejected bills that would have appropriated funds from the state’s General Improvement Fund to a school in Springdale and to the Lake Village Fire Department.

The state Board of Education unanimously removed the Lead Hill and Dollarway school districts from the state’s “fiscal distress” list. The board’s decision frees the districts from the threat of state takeover for poor money management.

Just days after Gov. Mike Beebe signed legislation allowing virtual charter schools to receive state funding, the state Board of Education voted Monday to approve renewing the charter of the Arkansas Virtual Academy in Little Rock for five years.

The Texarkana School District has withdrawn its application to sponsor a charter school in partnership with a church. Several board members had questions about the proposal by the school district and Mount Grove Baptist Church to operate a charter school that would be the first in Arkansas to be co-sponsored by a public school district and a church.

Mike Masterson reports in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the witness who claims she saw the late Janie Ward being beaten on Sept. 9, 1989, says she tried on four occasions over a period of 17 years to tell the state police investigator in the case what she had seen. She says that then-Sgt. Bill Beach told her he wasn’t interested in hearing her story.

After more than five weeks of testimony in the Lonoke corruption trial, special Circuit Judge John Cole told jurors that the trial’s end was near, possibly as soon as the end of the week.

A 2-year-old girl is dead after her mother’s boyfriend raped and beat the child Sunday morning, according to Pine Bluff police. Marcha Jarmane Smith of Pine Bluff faced charges of first-degree battery and rape, while the child was on life support. The charges are expected to be upgraded.

A judge set bail at $250,000 for a man accused in a weekend shooting that seriously wounded a 6-year-old girl while she was asleep in a Benton home. Zeronical Rice, 27, was on felony charges of first-degree battery and committing a terrorist act. Rice also faces a charge of felony possession of firearms in a previous case.

An April 4 memo by the Arkansas Board of Parole chairman ordering the release of parole violators from state supervision who are hiding from that supervision but whose sentences are up was described as a one-time housecleaning measure by parole officials Monday.

Gas prices in Arkansas jumped an average of 12 cents per gallon in a week as the upward trend at the pumps continued.

Wal-Mart has obtained a gag order against an employee it fired last month, saying he has trade secrets that could damage the company if revealed to competitors. The multi-national retail giant claims that Bruce Gabbard, who formerly worked in its Threat Research and Assessment Group, twice gave confidential company information to The Wall Street Journal for articles after his dismissal.

The cold temperatures over Easter weekend inflicted serious damage on some Arkansas crops, especially fruits like grapes and peaches. Post Familie Vineyards of Altus expects to lose 100 percent of this year’s bunch-grape crop because of the freeze. Major crops like wheat, grain sorghum and corn likely suffered damage from the record low temperatures, which followed the warmest March since 1910.

The Little Rock school board will meet Wednesday evening to consider terminating the superintendent, Roy Brooks.

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