Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thursday summary

President Bush should nominate a black person to fill the federal judgeship in Arkansas left vacant by the death of U.S. District Judge George Howard Jr., Sen. Mark Pryor says. Not only was Howard the first black federal judge in Arkansas, Pryor said Wednesday, but the Eastern District of Arkansas where Howard was a judge also has a large minority population.

Larry Norman, a retired Arkansas State Police trooper, will be sentenced today after pleading guilty in May to negligent homicide in the March 7, 2006, death of Erin Hamley, a disabled Springdale man whom police mistook for a prison escapee.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into an incident at the Federal Corrections Complex at Forrest City which left one man dead. The medium security facility has been on lock down since the death of Rigoberto Lopez-Alvarado. He was serving 24 months at the facility for illegal re-entry into the United States following deportation. Truman said that Lopez-Alvarado died at Forrest City Medical Center from injuries he suffered in an altercation with another inmate at the facility.

Two notable self-promoters plan to visit West Memphis in the aftermath of the death last weekend of a 12-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a police officer. Al Sharpton will attend the funeral of DeAuntae Farrow tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. Jessie Jackson intends to participate in a march in West Memphis, tentatively planned for a week from Saturday, on July 7.

Nearly a week after an internal memo at Northwest Airlines warned employees several hundred flights were being canceled due to crew scheduling shortages, the airline continues to founder. By Tuesday night, 850 Northwest flights had been canceled in five days. By late afternoon Wednesday, an additional 178 flights were scratched, including five in Memphis, according to flightstats.com. The cancellations gummed up travelers' plans and wreaked havoc on travel agents trying to rebook on short notice.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel cautioned a Little Rock School District attorney against settling out of court the desegregation lawsuit that is currently on appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. The district has been released from federal court supervision.

Little Rock School Board President Katherine Mitchell denied that she was ever employed by the city district, and said that if her involvement in a teacher training program in 2005 was a violation of state statutes, she would have expected Superintendent Roy Brooks and Chief Financial Officer Mark Milhollen to call attention to the problem at the time.

A Faulkner County circuit judge contradicted state law in admitting results of a polygraph test into evidence in a divorce case, the state Court of Appeals has ruled. The appeals court overturned Circuit Judge Linda P. Collier's admission of the test results, which the judge used in concluding that the ex-husband in the case had abused a child, and ordered a new hearing on only admissible evidence.

Two Arkansas residents have sued a Maryland-based company, BlueHippo Funding, that they allege tricked them and hundreds of others in the state into buying low-end computers — many never delivered — for more than they were worth.

Gov. Mike Beebe has declared Crawford County a state disaster area because of damage caused by a tornado and 100 mph winds on June 20.

A Maumelle developer is suing Pulaski County and its planning board for rejecting his project near central Arkansas’ primary source of drinking water.John “Jay” DeHaven argues that the Pulaski County Planning Commission arbitrarily denied plans for the first phase of his proposed Canterbury Park development just west of Lake Maumelle.

A Hoxie boy died when a large rock fell from a bluff on the Black River near the Powhatan Courthouse State Park, apparently crushing him. Eugene Bailey Jr. was fishing on the Black River at the base of the bluff with a younger brother when his line broke. As he attempted to climb up the rocky bluff to the top, a large rock became dislodged, causing him to fall. The rock then fell on the youth's chest and abdomen.

Three Department of Correction employees are suspended after mistakenly releasing an inmate from the East Arkansas Unit at least nine months before his sentence expired. The mistake happened on May 25 at the maximum-security prison at Brickeys in Lee County and involved two Corey Johnsons: Corey D. and Corey W. Corey D. was taken back into custody within hours at a family residence.

A Dallas County man on death row for the June 20, 1997, shotgun slayings of two Holly Grove store clerks should have an opportunity to prove in federal court that he is mentally retarded and not subject to the death penalty, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith campus security team has evolved into a police department with certified officers who will be armed with handguns this fall. New uniforms for the officers will arrive soon, along with new badges, body armor, belts, holsters and a Glock Model 22 housing a .40-caliber magazine for each of the certified officers.

Mark and James Forrester of Bigelow are dead, their bodies found in a Roland trailer in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning. Drake Graham, the resident of that trailer, is in the Pulaski County jail charged with two counts of first-degree murder. No motive has been disclosed for the shootings.

Craighead County Circuit Judge Victor Hill set the bond of a Jonesboro man who made alleged threats against an inmate prior to his own court appearance Monday at $1 million on six charges and revoked a prior bond on two separate charges. Kevin Dale Brady was apprehended the previous day by county and city law enforcement on a tip that he brought a gun to court and planned to use it against another prisoner in the courtroom.

A jury recommended that a Rogers man serve a 12-year prison sentence for leaving the scene of a September accident that killed a motorcyclist. Manuel Cuellar pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and driving on a suspended license. He had asked that his sentence be determined by a jury.

A Boone County woman has been sentenced to five years in prison for allowing her daughter to use methamphetamine on her 13th birthday. Stephanie Ann Tennison pleaded guilty to introduction of a controlled substance into the body of another, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Angry downtown merchants who witnessed the June 21 scuffle between a group of skateboarders and a police officer contend the incident resulted from a staged act of youthful rebellion and that the videos posted on YouTube — which have drawn national attention — exclude pertinent portions of what actually happened.

The city of Little Rock will begin enforcing parking tickets with the boot by this fall. It is estimated that the city may lose over $400,000 annually in unpaid parking fines.

The northwest Arkansas town of Centerton is growing so fast, the U.S. Census figures released Thursday are already off by hundreds. Centerton grew 167.16 percent between 2000 and 2006.

Superintendent Mike Mertens said the Greenbrier School District's growth rate rose to 7 percent for the 2006-2007 year, up from 4 percent in 2005-2006. To deal with the growth, several construction projects are in the works.

Vilonia will soon have a natural gas "supercenter", according to Randy Hudgeons of CUDD Energy Services. When at full staff, there will be at least 150 employees with a $9 to 10 million payroll.

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