Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday summary

Only communities around Arkansas’ capital city neared the national average for per-capita income this year, as the rest of the state continued to trail historically behind. Statistics from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis show the per-capita income in the area that includes Conway, Little Rock and North Little Rock at $34,485 in 2006, a growth of 5.2 percent.

Only 45 supporters of a $1.4 billion coal-fired power plant proposed in Hempstead County showed up as state utility regulators opened a long-awaited public hearing that could decide the facility’s future. The 45 backers were, according to reports, mostly elected officials.

The 11 Arkansas highway bridges similar in design to the span that collapsed last week in Minnesota have been inspected and appear to be structurally sound.

Arkansas’ Martin Luther King Jr. Commission will interview two finalists for the commission’s executive director job again. They are interim director Jerelyn Duncan, who has worked at the commission since 1999, and DuShun Scarbrough of Little Rock, a former director of a nonprofit group that worked with disabled individuals in Tallahassee, Fla.

Twenty-two state legislators have agreed to spend just $3 a day for food over a three-day period next week to raise awareness of hunger and low benefits for food stamp recipients.

Opponents of a move to give Little Rock’s mayor more power and pay want a federal court to block the special election set for Tuesday.

Attorneys are attempting to hash out the particulars of a buyout agreement with outgoing Little Rock School District Superintendent Roy Brooks and, at the same time, draft a contract for the interim superintendent who will take over when he leaves.

A resident's complaint against Tontitown Alderman David Sbanotto led to a letter from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality about an illegal solid waste dump on family property. Pete Sbanotto has 20 days to formulate a plan of action to clean up the site.

92 year-old George Beyers Jr, is in Jefferson Regional Medical Center after his 46-year-old wife allegedly beat him and attempted to steal a large amount of money. Cynthia Marie Beyers is being held for investigation of second-degree domestic battery, kidnapping and attempted theft of property.

Federal prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty for Antoine Demetrius Baker, a reputed Little Rock gang leader who faces a jury trial in the 2002 death of a man scheduled to testify against him in a robbery case.

A Little Rock man demanded the death penalty Thursday for wounding a hotel clerk in a dispute over clean sheets, and Pulaski County jurors did their best to accommodate him, recommending the maximum sentence of life plus 235 years in prison. Robert Thomas Maxwell did not get to hear their decision. He refused to return to the courtroom after throwing a tantrum, proclaiming his innocence in a stream of profanities.

A headline in Wednesday’s edition of The Jonesboro Sun apparently contributed to a mistrial in a capital murder case after several jurors admitted they violated a court order and read the newspaper. Bailiffs earlier detained a private citize, Scott Parker, for taking notes in the courtroom.

An industrial accident claimed the life of a 48-year-old employee of a Russellville contractor Wednesday afternoon at the City Corp. Water Treatment Plant in northern Russellville. A steel beam that weighed approximately 500-600 pounds fell off a piece of equipment, struck Roy A. Bradley in the head.

July brought more bad news for Little Rock-based Dillard’s Inc., which saw sales at stores open at least a year tumble 6 percent from the corresponding period a year ago. Except for March, Dillard’s hasn’t reported a gain in such monthly sales since May 2006.

Ruby Tuesday, which is under construction in Conway, applied to the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for a private club license. The restaurant is expected to open before Thanksgiving.

A state trooper was dispatched to the Searcy County courthouse Wednesday morning to assist an apparent dispute between District 20 Circuit Judge Rhonda Wood and Marshall District Judge Jerry Patterson. Both judges denied reports from multiple sources that they held each other in contempt and ordered sheriff's agents to arrest each other, though both confirmed the occurrence of a dispute as to which judge was scheduled to hear cases at the courthouse.

The Arkansas Wildlife Federation named Griffin Smith, executive editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Conservation Communicator of the Year” Thursday night.

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