Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday summary

The body of Olivia Jane Ward will be exhumed for the second time in an effort to conclusively establish whether she was killed during a party at a Searcy County cabin nearly 18 years ago, the special prosecutor in the case said Thursday. Tim Williamson, prosecuting attorney for the 18th-West Judicial District has done nothing on the case for over two years. ABC television is planning a prime time report on the Ward case.

Two Arkansas State University professors have resigned amid allegations of rape by a female student, The Sun has learned. Dr. Gregory D. Russell and his wife, Dr. Ellen Lemley, who were an associate professor and assistant professor of criminology at ASU, respectively, resigned as of June 1. A police investigation is under way.

Three people in Arkansas are being evaluated for possible tuberculosis infections after being passengers on a flight with an Atlanta lawyer diagnosed with a drug-resistant strain of the disease, according to state health officials.

A House committee issued a stern warning to the Delta Regional Authority to rein in administrative expenses and be more forthcoming with Congress about its fiscal operations. Congressman Mation Berry criticized the agency in a speech last month to Delta leaders in Washington for an annual meeting and on the Pat Lynch Show. He said he was worried not enough money was going to residents of the eight-state Delta region.

A sign reading "Honk if you want better gas mileage" drew dozens of responses from motorists Thursday during a demonstration organized by the Sierra Club of Arkansas. "What we're doing today is trying to get Arkansans to contact their senators about a bill that's in Congress that would raise fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles," said Glen Hooks, associate regional representative for the Sierra Club.

The state’s school districts and libraries are missing out on between $3 million to $4 million each year from a federal program aimed at providing affordable telephone and Internet access to schools and libraries, according to a state Department of Information Systems official.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says that state regulators should hear a complaint that CenterPoint Energy Inc. and its affiliates run a “high-low” sales scheme to boost profits at the expense of residential customers.

A Pine Bluff steel pipe plant could be forced to cut jobs if U.S. regulators do not impose duties on Chinese government-subsidized imports that are being placed on the market in large quantities at low prices, the company president said Thursday. Allied Tube & Conduit filed petitions with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking to have duties imposed on the Chinese imports.

Rules regulating bingo games in Arkansas are now in place, giving nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations the legal green light to start operations by the end of next month.

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday overturned four 2005 laws that earmarked state aid to local educational and cultural organizations, finding that the language in three of the acts is too broad to meet state constitutional requirements.

Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau Chief Executive Dan O’Byrne offered early retirement packages to 10 employees Thursday at the beleaguered city agency.

Eureka Springs is facing severe financial problems after it was discovered that the fund set up for construction of a new sewage treatment plant has been exhausted. The city still owes around $1.5 million on the project. An audit is planned.

The late federal judge George Howard should not have considered testimony that a drug trafficker had “seen the light” and was “traveling the straight and narrow path” in suspending more than half of his sentence, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The panel, which included retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, agreed that the Judge Howard lacked authority to suspend 77 months of a 137-month sentence because of testimony that defendant Dexter Ross had begun attending church regularly.

A Beebe man has pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the death of a 15-year-old. Brian T. Rose, Jr., 19, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in reference to a car wreck that killed Jesse Allen Mizer, 15, also of Beebe. “Huffing,” a practice of inhaling compressed air or other chemical vapors, caused the accident, according to White County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Raff.

After an 18-month investigation, North Little Rock police arrested a Miami man who believed he was meeting a 15-year-old girl for sex. Gianfranco Pisani as taken into custody without incident and arrested on a charge of Internet stalking of a child.

Roosevelt Thompson of Little Rock, a 1980 Central High graduate, Yale University senior, and Rhodes Scholar was killed in a car accident on a New Jersey turnpike in March 1984. Yale classmate Slade Mead of Phoenix is taking time from his law practice to make a documentary on Thompson. Mead and his crew visit Little Rock on June 20-22 to interview family, friends and others who knew Thompson.

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