Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thursday summary

West Memphis Police have identified the officer involved in the shooting death of a 12-year-old boy last month as Erik Sammis. The 10-year police veteran first entered the public eye five years ago when he rescued a nine-month old baby dangled by an armed suspect from a two-story apartment window.

Six correctional officers are on administrative leave in the reported beating of inmates at the East Arkansas Unit in Lee County. Anonymous accounts allege the beatings were at least partially racially motivated, with black officers beating white inmates.

Gov. Mike Beebe says he would support raising the severance tax on natural gas but said it would probably take a ballot measure to see such an increase enacted. It would take a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise the severance tax.

Arkansas' revenue surplus swelled past $1 billion by the June 30 end of the state fiscal year, the state finance office reported Tuesday.

Arkansas home sales dropped almost 11 percent in May when compared with May last year, continuing a trend of slow sales that has persisted for 17 months. The number of new and previously owned homes declined in 25 of the 39 counties surveyed by the Arkansas Realtors Association.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has set a September date to hear oral arguments in a challenge of a law that allows race tracks in Hot Springs and West Memphis to offer electronic games of skill.

Historians are criticizing Arkansas’ new social studies curriculum, claiming that it will water down the study of Arkansas history at the elementary level and leave high school students studying it with seventh-grade textbooks.

Conway Mayor Tab Townsell and city engineer Ronnie Hall plan to travel to the Federal Aviation Administration's Southwest Regional Headquarters in Fort Worth on Friday, July 13. "We're going down there to get an airport," Townsell said to the Log Cabin Democrat, "and we're not coming back until we've got one."

Officials with Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) program have suggested a task force be formed to handle illegal immigration issues in Northwest Arkansas. Mayor Steve Womack said Tuesday he's not opposed to a task force, but it has been eight months since the city applied to participate in the 287(g) program and he'd like an answer.

Russellville Public Works Director Morgan Barrett and Brad Teeter, a street department employee, are unemployed following a Russellville Police Dept. investigation. A legislative audit of the department is expected to begin in three weeks.

An attorney for the city of Pine Bluff has filed notice that the city will appeal the decision of a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge that declared an ordinance abolishing the Civil Service Commission “null, void and of no effect.”

A federal judge wants a 120-acre property once owned by Hollis Wayne Fincher appraised before deciding whether the militia leader transferred assets in order to appear poor before the court and receive a court appointed attorney.

Officials with Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) program have suggested a task force be formed to handle illegal immigration issues in Northwest Arkansas. Rogers Mayor Steve Womack said Tuesday he's not opposed to a task force, but it has been eight months since the city applied to participate in the 287(g) program and he'd like an answer.

Guards at the Pope County jail did not document a Michigan man’s fall and did not pass along information about his worsening condition before he died of a heart attack while in custody, an internal sheriff’s investigation found. Sheriff Jay Winters said,“Overall, everything was handled properly”

Donald Lewis of Searcy, armed with two pipe bombs, is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after authorities said he tried to detonate a pipe bomb in rural White County as deputies approached him.

A prosecutor is seeking to have a mentally ill St. Francis County man who killed his father with an ax 16 years ago returned to the Arkansas State Hospital. The Arkansas Supreme Court, overturning a decision by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray, ruled that 54-year-old Carey Lewis Owens should not have been released in October.

A Fort Smith woman must report in August to federal prison after pleading guilty to allegations that she embezzled more than $136,000 from her employer. Elberta J. Cobb was sentenced for three counts of mail fraud in connection with incidents spanning a two-year period during her employment at Shields Energy, an independent oil and gas exploration company based in Fort Smith.

Hundreds of bags of ice once designated for hurricane victims have sat melting outside an AmeriCold Logistics warehouse on East Parkway the last few days. Congressman Steve Cohen said citizens have been carting off some of the ice and he's worried it may pose a health risk. The Federal Emergency Management Agency bought the ice in November 2005 after it was caught unprepared for the long power outages brought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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