Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday summary

The first base coach of the Tulsa Drillers is dead after being struck by a foul ball during a game at Dickey-Stephens Park on Sunday night. Mike Coolbaugh was hit in the side of the head in the top of ninth inning with Drillers player Tino Sanchez at bat. Coolbaugh collapsed to the ground and lay there motionless as medical personnel and team members came to his side.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says a Pulaski County judge must review hundreds of often explicit e-mails written by a county employee charged with theft to determine whether the correspondence is public record, a ruling that dissenting members of the court said could threaten access to public information.

State Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen on Friday asked a federal court in Little Rock to throw out a disciplinary case in which he is accused of breaking rules barring jurists from speaking out on controversial political issues and to declare those rules unconstitutional.

A press release issued by Russellville Police Chief Tom McMillen after the acquittal of Kevin Jones says, “[t]he Russellville Police Department will be evaluating and debriefing on the Nona Dirksmeyer case; however, any future action on this case will be at the discretion of the Prosecuting Attorney. Our condolences go out to the victim’s family.”

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has fixed and declared the popular names of two proposed constitutional amendments that were approved by the state Legislature earlier this year. One would change some rules for poll workers and remove the word “idiot” from the state constitution. The other proposal would allow yearly legislative sessions.

A lawsuit is will be filed soon in Pine Bluff the federal court to make the Arkansas Correction Department open the execution process from beginning to end. The ACLU is providing the legal representation. Plaintiffs include the NW Ark. Society of Professional Journalists and Arkansas Times editor Max Brantley.

A northwest Arkansas electric company is asking customers to turn up pressure on lawmakers in Washington over railroad antitrust legislation. The Carroll Electric Cooperative added a one-page flyer to its monthly bills seeking customer help in support of congressional action to rein in what utilities see as out-of-control costs and unreliable rail delivery of coal.

A purse snatching on the parking lot of a North Little Rock Wal Mart turned into a homicide when the fleeing suspect shot Dean Worden of Jacksonville. Police interviewed several witnesses and are reviewing security video. This is North Little Rock’s ninth murder this year.

Fifteen banks in Arkansas have delinquent loans that exceed 20 percent of their equity, and almost half the state’s banks have past-due loans higher than the national average. Still, analysts say that doesn’t mean those banks are in trouble.

A Forbes columnist mulls the possibility of the next potential takeover targets, analyzing ten firms that could be candidates for private equity buyouts. Robert Maltbie’s top pick is Murphy Oil. Maltbie says that Murphy Oil would be “a perfect addition to a T. Boone Pickens-style empire” and he notes that the firm “could be attractive to any of the big integrated oil majors.”

A service charge tacked on to some collect calls from prison inmates is being scrapped after advocates complained the fees wiped out most of the recent savings promised by a new vendor.

A proposed program to train prison inmates to drive big rigs has been deep-sixed for now by the Department of Correction, still leery over last year’s escapes by work-release van drivers.

Minority farmers are being short-changed compared to white counterparts when it comes to getting federal aid, according to a study released this week. Only 18 percent of black farmers received U.S. farm aid compared to 34 percent of white farmers, according to the study by the anti-poverty group Oxfam America.

Layoffs at Conway's IC Corp. plant are still possible, according to IC Corp. parent company Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley, who said the plant's situation hasn't changed since workers were given 60 days' notice of the possible layoff of as many as 500 workers last month.

Unemployment in Arkansas dropped to 5.0 percent in June, two-tenths of a percentage point less than in May, but the state’s joblessness level is still among the worst in the country.

The number of people living in homeless shelters and on the streets in central Arkansas rose by one-third in the past three years, and those who work with the homeless say they are seeing more families without a permanent place to live.

The next park in Bentonville will be fit for a dog. The city wants to build a dog park along North Walton Boulevard, just south of Northwest "A" Street, thanks to a $29,500 donation from Wal-Mart vendor American Safety Razor.

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