Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thursday summary

Jurors will begin deliberations today in the case of a Jacksonville family whose home was invaded by Jacksonville police, who entered by breaking down a door weapons drawn. Martha Smith suffered an asthma attack during the assault, and a back injury from a police officer’s boot. Jacksonville police claim no liability though the search warrant was served on the wrong house.

A broad expansion of a federal health insurance program for children “appears to be is a first step toward socialized medicine," according to Rep. John Boozman, the only Republican in Arkansas' congressional delegation. The Senate is on track to add $35 billion over five years to the State's Children's Health Insurance Program, despite a veto threat from the president. A House version calls for a $75 billion expansion.

Bob Balfe, the chief federal prosecutor for Western Arkansas, tried to keep his bosses in Washington informed of news in the state regarding Carl Rove operative, voter suppression specialist and Eastern Arkansas federal prosecutor Tim Griffin, according to an e-mail made public on Wednesday.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is now investigating whether college athletic departments nationwide - including Arkansas State University- steered student athletes to education lenders in exchange for kickbacks.

An investment manager for the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System decided to sell a system-owned building in downtown Little Rock for $9.25 million, about $2.5 million less than the system paid for it 13 years ago. Former State Senator, and convicted felon, Nick Wilson received a $250,000 “finders fee” at the time of the original transaction.

The relationship between Pulaski County’s 5th Division Circuit Court and a probation program appears to violate state ethics and conflict-of-interest statutes, an investigative report released by the Legislative Audit Division found. The report found no theft but questioned thousands of dollars in payments Circuit Judge Willard Proctor Jr. and court employees received from Cycle Breakers Inc.

Gov. Mike Beebe plans to meet next week with supporters and opponents of new guidelines for teaching Arkansas history in public schools, his spokesman said Wednesday. Beebe is to meet privately with state Education Commissioner Ken James, Tom Dillard, president of the Arkansas History Education Coalition, the group that opposes the new curriculum, and others Monday at the state Capitol.

The Ozark Regional Transit board of directors approved a 2008 budget that calls for the elimination of two bus routes and four jobs because of shrinking federal funding. Despite surging ridership levels, the transit system faces a $167,000 budget shortfall for 2008. Ridership for paratransit and fixed routes is up 22.4 percent over 2006.

The Supreme Court of Arkansas has ruled unanimously that Arnell Willis' appeal challenging the outcome of the State Senate district 16 seat should be heard and that Phillips County Circuit Judge L.T. Simes may have broken a judicial Canon by failing to expedite the case.

Arkansas ranks among the worst states in the nation for adults with a college education, placing 49th for the second consecutive year in percentage of adults over age 25 with at least a bachelor’s degree.

Faulkner County District 10 Justice of the Peace Johnny Brady has filed a motion for retired Circuit Judge Russel Rogers of Stuttgart to stay a ruling that determined he lost the Nov. 7 election to Jerry Roberts.

The first of two meetings to gauge the public’s pulse on the financial future of the Dollarway School District will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Martin Elementary School cafeteria in Altheimer.

Arkansas is stepping up inspections and testing at facilities in the state that distribute foreign fish in response to the recent discovery of an antifungal agent in some imported catfish in the state. Richard Bell told the Arkansas Agriculture Board that the Arkansas Bureau of Standards will begin checking to make sure they have proper documentation verifying sanitary conditions by their foreign processors and packagers.

The drop in Little Rock-based Dillard’s Inc.’s stock price gained speed Wednesday, as shares fell 8 percent and closed under the retailer’s 52-week low of $28.40.

Alltel Corp. reports a 54 percent drop in second-quarter income compared to results from the same quarter a year ago, which included profits from its landline business, which was spun-off to create Windstream in July 2006.

George David Reed is free on bond from the Benton County jail as his daughter’s boyfriend, Michael Austin Guzman, has surgery to treat a bullet lodged in his spinal cord. Police say Reed found Guzman hiding inside her bedroom closet, beat him bloody with a pool stick, then left the room to fetch a gun. The daughter and boyfriend blocked the door with a dresser, so the father shot through the closed door, hitting the boyfriend in the back and paralyzing him.

Forrest City police are searching for a man who allegedly escaped from a police car and a woman who allegedly opened the door for him to escape. That incident was related to the arrest of another man for marijuana possession and another woman for alleged interference with government operations.

Six black students’ largely forgotten attempt to integrate North Little Rock High School in 1957 will get its own tribute next month in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Little Rock Central High’s integration. The September 9, 1957 incident marked the first actual violence in Arkansas’ desegregation of public schools.

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