Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wednesday (day late, dollar short) summary

An Arkansas soldier is dead after an explosion in Iraq last week, according to the Department of Defense. Army Pfc. Rodney L. McCandless of Camden was one of four soldiers who died Saturday when the vehicle he was in struck an explosive. The soldiers were a part of the 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says he believes calling the state’s largest National Guard combat unit back for a second tour in Iraq is akin to “changing the rules” on them. Spokesman Matt DeCample says the governor is concerned about the military’s decision to call the 39th Infantry Brigade back two years after an 18-month deployment in the war-torn nation.

Sen. Mark Pryor's plan to set a secret deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq has generated more buzz among comedians and pundits than in the halls of the Capitol. Yet, as Congress and the president square off over war spending bills that include public timelines for redeploying troops, Pryor intends to promote his proposal as a compromise, his spokesman told the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas.

By the time he concluded his work day Tuesday, Gov. Mike Beebe had either signed or vetoed every bill passed by the 86th General Assembly during the 2007 regular session. In all, Beebe signed 1,754 bills and resolutions and vetoed eight bills. This year's session produced fewer new laws than the 2005 regular session, when 2,325 measures became law and three were vetoed by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee.

With the Legislature's failure to further regulate payday lenders for the fourth consecutive session, the battle over the constitutionality of the industry's practices will shift back to the judicial branch this fall.

A 7-year-old boy is dead after he and his mother fell from a carnival ride in Hope. Mariscal Alvarado and his mother fell from the Sizzler ride Sunday. The two were taken to a local hospital, and the boy was later transferred to Arkansas Children’s Hospital at Little Rock, where he died. The operator of the ride, Dewayne Mathis of Hope, said he had also been assigned to run another nearby ride. He said the accident occurred about a minute into the Sizzler’s ride sequence.

A circuit court jury is scheduled to hear closing arguments Thursday in the Lonoke corruption case after testimony in the six-week trial ended Tuesday. The attorney for defendant Kelly Campbell didn’t call any witnesses. The state called seven rebuttal witnesses to counter what Campbell’s husband, former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell, said during his two days on the stand.

Marcha Jermane Smith faces capital murder and rape charges in the death of 2 year-old La-Niyah Beard who died Monday after doctors took her off life support at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Smith is scheduled for a probable-cause hearing today in Jefferson County Circuit Court on the capital murder charge, upgraded from first-degree battery after the child died. Smith also faces a petition to revoke his probation on an aggravated assault conviction out of Desha County.

Searcy Police have been called out to the Kohler picket line numerous times for various reasons, most of a violent nature. "We had a report, April 6 two strikers witnessed a worker pull a gun out of glove box of a vehicle," says Searcy Police Officer Amber Dillon-Bramlett.

Roof leaks and possible health hazards from those leaks will force Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay to close the old county jail this week. Holladay told Quorum Court members that he would move the 160 inmates living inside the old jail by the weekend to the nearby work force center, which has been closed since 2005 due to budget cuts.

A growing number of Altheimer area patrons opposed to a March 13 voter-approved Dollarway School District millage increase will have an opportunity to directly address Superintendent Thomas Gathen and the school board at Martin Elementary School here Thursday night. School administrators have admitted misstating the effects of increasing the millage.

The Springdale School District is facing a $1.6 million shortfall next fiscal year unless cuts in the budget are made. Additionally, teachers' raises may be limited to those stipulated by contract or mandated by state law through the sales tax trust fund.

Concerns about an April 2 incident involving an assault on a Benton school bus were raised at the Benton School Board meeting. Debbie Nalley, a district parent, said a 14-year-old boy was injured when he was assaulted by an older student, who then assaulted the driver as he was driving the bus. The older student was enrolled in the Benton School District but was assigned to Rivendell Behavioral Health Service.

A resolution to prevent taxpayers' money from funding businesses hiring illegal immigrants was tabled during the Benton County Quorum Court Committee of 13 meeting.

Voters approved a temporary 1 percent city sales tax to fund projects based on “El Dorado Forward,” a strategic plan to help revive the city’s economy.

Residents voted to increase taxes on themselves to help the Gravette School District increase teacher salaries and improve school buildings for the growing district.

A plan which began as an idea for a new high school track facility in Forrest City has grown into a proposal for a new football stadium to go with it. Originally, the plan called for a bond issue which would have helped to fund a fine arts center at East Arkansas Community College and a track for the high school, whose team has won state championships without having its own track.

Wal-Mart has lost its bid with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission to not submit a shareholder proposal at this year’s annual shareholders meeting. The National Legal and Policy Center has been notified by the SEC that Wal-Mart will be required to submit a proposal asking the company to disclose its charitable giving.

A Fort Smith attorney who has been in jail since March 26 for contempt of court will appear in court again on a separate contempt hearing. Oscar Stilley must appear in Sebastian County Circuit Court on April 17 before Judge Stephen Tabor to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for defiance of Tabor’s advisories against relitigating old issues during a hearing in mid-March.

The Little Rock school board will meet tonight to terminate the contract of superintendent Roy Brooks. Complaints about Brooks fall into four broad categories: acting without board approval, employee relations, community relations and instruction. Brooks makes $198k plus benefits.

A North Little Rock panel granted on Tuesday a rare, after-the-fact waiver to the marquee sign in front of city owned Dickey-Stephens Park that is too big under the city’s municipal code.

Helena’s Wild Hog Musicfest & Motorcycle Rally has released the music lineup for the 7th annual event scheduled for April 26-29. Headlining the weekend of music is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Eric Burdon and the Animals.

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