Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday summary

Somewhere in the United States, Andrew Golden will likely step outside of prison today for the first time as a free man since being arrested as an 11-year-old after he and another individual killed four classmates and an English teacher at a Jonesboro middle school.

Rhode Island’s state treasurer has asked federal regulators to investigate whether Wal-Mart violated securities laws by not disclosing that the son of the retailer’s chief executive works for a company that does business with Wal-Mart. Eric S. Scott, son of Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott, works for Jacobs Trading Company, which buys unsold furniture from big retailers like Wal-Mart and resells it to smaller discount stores.

Warren Stephens defended his firm’s role in Alltel Corp.’s proposed $27.5 billion buyout and assured a packed audience at the Clinton School of Public Service that the $27.5 billion deal — and the proposed $3 billion sale of Acxiom Corp. — will have no near-term adverse effects on Arkansas’ economy.

It's the gasoline refiners, not the retailers at the pump that drive your gas prices up and up, said state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. Northwest Arkansas' higher prices are a result of the different pipeline that serves this area, which goes through Oklahoma and ends in Rogers, he said. The eastern and southern areas of Arkansas are served by another pipeline that passes through Arkansas on its way to the East Coast and allows lower prices to those regions.

As a sweeping immigration proposal makes it way through the U.S. Congress, Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, says he could see himself supporting the bill but still has some unanswered questions. Senator Blanche Lincoln called on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation Rep. John Boozman, the only Republican in the Arkansas delegation, predicts what he calls an "amnesty" bill will not pass the House of Representatives.

A Pulaski County Circuit judge sided with a Little Rock woman who was seeking records from the private Public Education Foundation of Little Rock under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The Little Rock School Board voted 4-3 to buy out the remaining two years of Superintendent Roy Brooks’ contract, an abrupt move that negates the need for next Wednesday’s hearing on whether to fire Brooks but will cost the district about $500,000 in severance pay.

State Court of Appeals Judge Wendell L. Griffen plans to call ministers, judges and legal scholars to defend him in a case in which he stands accused of breaking rules governing the judiciary, according to papers filed in the case.

The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau will work to collect sales taxes it is owed from the 2004 and 2005 Arkansas Travelers baseball seasons. The minor-league baseball team did not collect or pay the 2 percent tax on concession sales at the team’s former midtown Little Rock home, Ray Winder Field, since the tax was initiated in 1970.

Seminars designed to help businesses implement the reduced sales tax on groceries that goes into effect July 1 are planned in each of the state's 75 counties.

Members of a regional committee say that while the odds are bad, the weather will ultimately determine if the coming ozone season will keep central Arkansas from failing to meet federal air quality standards.

The city of Searcy says it had agreed to a $30,000 settlement of a lawsuit filed by a District Court probation officer who said she was underpaid for 16 months.

Deborah Frazier, interim chancellor of the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, is University of Arkansas System President B. Alan Sugg’s choice to run the two-year campus permanently.

A former Bella Vista foster parent charged with sex-related crimes is under investigation on child pornography charges in Oregon. Brian J. Bergthold is accused of sexually molesting boys in his care and producing child pornography in Arkansas and is being held on a related federal charge.

A man who rammed his Hummer into a Fayetteville apartment building is sentenced to prison and ordered to pay restitution. Jonathan Brent Butler pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree criminal mischief and aggravated assault stemming from the Nov. 30 incident. He was sentenced to 10 years at the Arkansas Department of Correction, with four years suspended, and ordered to pay $11,191 restitution.

A Russellville business owner is facing charges of burglary and theft after a Pottsville woman set up a surveillance camera in her kitchen in an attempt to discover who was stealing her pain medication. Doug Lowe appeared before District Judge Don Bourne and was ordered held on $10,000 bond and to stay away from the victim.

Three men arrested in connection with the weekend raid of a cockfighting operation made their first appearance in Crawford County Circuit Court. Judge Gary Cottrell ruled there was probable cause to file charges against Mark Hyatt and Timothy Sprinkle, both of Van Buren, as well as Justin McHone, who gave his residence at Arrow Point. Prosecutors identified Hyatt and Sprinkle as major operators in the organization and said McHone owned birds that fought at the events.

Fort Smith police arrested Marcus Marquis Lane, a convicted sex offender, for allegedly touching a minor in an illegal manner. Lane was arrested on suspicion of sexual indecency with a child after investigators interviewed him on three separate occasions concerning an allegation that he touched a child in an inappropriate manner. A female in her early teens said that she was sleeping in her bed and woke up to find Lane, who had been trying to date her mother, rubbing her leg.

The Osceola City Council agreed Monday to add commercial land use areas along Arkansas 140 for the 100,000-square-foot Wal Mart Supercenter which will potentially add 100 new jobs.

Riverfest begins in downtown Little Rock this afternoon.

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