Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday summary

Hino Motors USA is expected to announce today a multi-million dollar expansion of its parts plant in Marion, Ark. Gov. Mike Beebe has scheduled a 3 p.m. press conference at the $160 million plant. Sources tell the Memphis Commercial Appeal that Hino will announce an expansion of the plant, which produces axles for the Toyota Tundra truck.

Wal-Mart Chief Executive H. Lee Scott, recently accused by a fired marketing executive of accepting sweetheart deals from suppliers, bought a diamond ring from a Wal-Mart vendor, according to that vendor’s officials. Robert Kempler, president of the New York-based company. declined to discuss the terms of the diamond sale other than to say Scott hadn’t received preferential pricing.

MMI Investments, the New York-based hedge fund opposing the $3 billion deal to take Acxiom Corp. private, has proposed three candidates for the board of the Little Rockbased data management firm, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

Brandon Rains, project manager with The Barber Group, says the Springdale-based developer is withdrawing its plans for the Divinity hotel and condominium project between Church and Block Avenues near Dickson Street in Fayetteville.

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor says he is trying to work with the auto industry on legislation to increase fuel efficiency in American vehicles, despite the industry's recent launching of a nationwide advertising campaign opposing new efficiency standards.

The New York Times reports that, when states were ranked by school spending as a percentage of personal income, Arkansas’ proportion was the highest, followed by Vermont, West Virginia, New Jersey and New York.

A legislative committee is not impressed with proposed rules requiring state-funded preschool programs operated by private providers to hire only teachers with bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education or child development and give existing teachers six years to obtain degrees.

In the wake of a circuit judge's decision to allow a red dirt mine to operate in Benton County despite opposition from county government, state lawmakers plan to review the state's dirt mining rules.

Traces of methamphetamine so small a forensic chemist couldn’t weigh them were insufficient to convict a Crawford County woman of drug possession. The Court of Appeals ruling, which turned on a finding that drug residue found in small plastic bags was too minute to use, exonerates Kathleen Ann Porter now of Fort Smith.

Authorities have recovered the tractor portion of a tractor-trailer rig reported stolen last week from a truck stop near Forrest City, but the search continued for the trailer section said to have been transporting about $5.5 million worth of pharmaceutical drugs.

A Mississippi County teen-ager will serve to 60 years in prison for shooting a Jonesboro officer and the rape of a woman in late 2006. Steven E. Hill Jr., 17, of Blytheville entered a guilty plea to criminal attempt to commit capital murder and rape at Craighead County Circuit Court in Jonesboro.

A 25-year-old Sherwood father admits to inflicting injuries that left his infant son with broken bones and internal injuries. Percy Jones IV was scheduled to stand trial Wednesday on a charge of first-degree domestic battery, but instead pleaded guilty to the Class B felony charge for injuries he inflicted on his then-7-monthold son in May 2005. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 3.

Grandsons of the owner of Arko Inc. were arrested Monday as commercial burglary suspects, after persons close to the family told police of an alleged break-in as it happened at the Arko's Conway facility. The police report listed for both suspects possible felony charges of commercial burglary and criminal attempt to commit theft. The owner of Arko, J.C. Jones, has been under medical supervision for weeks now after a stroke.

Donnie Collins will remain superintendent in the Palestine-Wheatley School District for three more years. Collins will earn $95,000 per year for the next three years. The new contract will increase Collins’ salary by close to $20,000 per year.

The Metroplan board of directors voted Wednesday to work with state and local officials on plans to improve the Interstate 630/Interstate 430 interchange and develop a light-rail location along the major commuter route. The resolution gave state highway officials enough commitment to go forward with design of the Little Rock project, which they say must include widening I-630 to eight lanes from the interchange to University Avenue.

Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau leaders unveiled a new system Wednesday for tracking businesses delinquent in paying their hotel and restaurant taxes. It was revealed earlier this week that the Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball team did not pay the so-called “hamburger tax” for over 30 years.

Little Rock is debating whether to ban pit bull terriers over concerns that the dog breed in the hands of some pet owners threatens public safety.

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