Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday summary

A majority of Northwest Arkansas residents want U.S. troops out of Iraq within a year, a University of Arkansas poll says. The war is considered a mistake by 53 percent of those polled, and 57 percent want to bring most military members home, according to the results of the latest Northwest Arkansas Omnibus Survey from the University of Arkansas Survey Research Center.

Arkansas Reps. Mike Ross and Marion Berry, one a pharmacy owner and the other a pharmacist, warned Tuesday that rural drug stores may be forced to close if new Medicaid prescription drug regulations take effect as planned July 1. The two Democrats said at a Capitol Hill rally that pharmacists will likely reject Medicaid prescriptions for generic drugs as a result of the change.

The chairman of the Senate Education Committee said Tuesday that the state needs a “geek squad” to help promote more uses of technology in the classroom. Sen. Jim Argue, D-Little Rock, said he thinks the state’s education department needs to find more ways to promote technology among all of the state’s school districts.

A legislative subcommittee was appointed Tuesday to study the cost of an “adequate” education in preparation for the 2009 legislative session as actions of the 2007 session are before the state Supreme Court.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported record sales and profits Tuesday for its first quarter that ended April 30, but H. Lee Scott, president and chief executive officer, said that wasn’t good enough.

A company that could employ as many as 1,000 people in its second and subsequent years may be coming to Benton. One other Arkansas city and two in other states are among the places in the running for the development. Alderman Doug Stracener told the city council the business is what is known as an “incoming call center that would employ about 250 people in its first year.”

SEECO Inc., the Arkansas subsidiary of the Southwestern Energy Company, now has drilled 20 natural gas wells in White County, with 13 of them producing.

The Little Rock Board of Directors is holding off for two weeks its first detailed discussion this year on whether and how to boost mayoral power.

The Republican Party of Arkansas' state committee will meet Saturday to select a new GOP chairman. Dennis Milligan of Bryant, currently the party's treasurer, is the only announced candidate to replace the outgoing chairman, Sen. Gilbert Baker of Conway.

Attorneys for Kevin Jones have asked a judge to move his trial from Pope County. Jones is accused of the 2005 bludgeoning death of Arkansas Tech University student Nona Dirksmeyer in her Russellville apartment. The attorneys ask that the trial be moved to Franklin County, which along with Pope and Johnson counties make up the 5th Judicial District. Jones’ trial was scheduled for July 9.

Assuming “full responsibility” for his crimes and acknowledging his victims may never see fit to forgive him, Larry Dan Akins entered guilty pleas to 11 counts of rape and nine counts of second-degree assault. Akins was accused of raping and sexually assaulting children under his supervision at a Van Buren day-care facility. He will be eligible for parole in 28 years. Akins is 62.

A Paragould man faces a charge of second-degree murder after police said he rolled his unconscious brother onto the railroad tracks Friday night as a train approached. Barry Gene Nelson is scheduled for arraignment Thursday morning in Greene County District Court.

An early morning fire at a Holly Grove day care Tuesday is the latest in a string of suspected arsons in the east Arkansas community. A building that previously housed the Police and Fire departments has burned, as have several abandoned structures downtown.

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