Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday summary

Wal-Mart has reached an agreement with the California Labor Commission to pay about 50,000 employees a total of $3.9 million in overtime, waiting time penalties and interest.

Gov. Mike Beebe told a group of health advocates that states like Arkansas have to find ways to expand health care options on their own instead of waiting for guidance from the federal government.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders says a lack of sex education in the nation's public schools has hastened the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and sex crimes against children. Speaking at the health care summit, Elders said only education, not any amount of money, could improve the U.S. health care system.

State Education Commissioner Ken James paints a bleak picture for the Bald Knob School District, telling a gymnasium full of parents and teachers that the community needs to come up with at least $2 million to even begin to save the district.

The Corps of Engineers has lifted the small craft advisory on the Arkansas River from Fort Smith to Pine Bluff, and expects to remove it for the remaining part of the river downstream from Pine Bluff on today. The decision ensures that the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza tournament will go on as rescheduled for Friday through Sunday. The tournament, originally scheduled for June, had been postponed because of the hazardous boating conditions.

Patrons frequenting Southland Park in West Memphis or the Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs will now be allowed to consume free drinks in either park’s gambling areas under an amended regulation passed by the state board that regulates alcohol.

A teary-eyed Richard Hodo buried his head in his hands when the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approved his request to sell alcohol from his restaurant in the historic district of downtown Van Buren. The board's 4-1 vote cleared the way for alcohol sales in Crawford County for the first time since June 27, 1942, when residents voted to make the county dry.

State funds contributed to plans for a second expansion of an aircraft services and completion site here, according to the state economic development agency. Dassault Aircraft Services says it will build a new $10 million hangar, doubling the capacity of its service space and adding about 100 jobs over the next three years.

Friends are mourning the death of four family members from Fayetteville killed Tuesday in a car accident about an hour south of Cancun, Mexico. Paul Hoover and his wife, Maureen, were in a rental car with Paul's father and stepmother, Steve and Sharon Hoover, when another car crossed the highway median and struck the car they were in.

A former prison psychologist swallowed a quantity of prescription drugs in an apparent courtroom suicide attempt moments after a jury convicted her of having sex with an inmate. Anna Clark was found guilty of two counts of third-degree sexual assault for having sex with a severely depressed and suicidal inmate in the mental health barracks at the Cummins Unit at Grady. The jury of seven men and five women recommended sentencing her to three years in prison or possible probation.

Two skateboarders who sparked controversy after their arrest on multiple misdemeanor charges June 21 in downtown Hot Springs pleaded no contest Wednesday in Hot Springs District Court.

Animal control officers say that as many as 114 dogs may have been left without proper food and water for up to four weeks before being found abandoned at a kennel in Bloomer, near Fort Smith. Control officer Richard Rivera was called to the kennel in this town along Arkansas 22, about 15 miles east of Fort Smith. He said two of the 114 dogs were dead and the rest had run out of food and water.

Free meals for the whole student body in the Dollarway School District will be a thing of the past when students return to the classrooms next week. Previously, the district — which has 93 percent of its student population eligible for free and reduced priced lunches — provided free meals to every student. The failure to collect official applications from parents last year means that Dollarway will have to nix the across-the-board free meals.

Marked Tree and Tyronza in Pointsett County have passed sales tax increases for community improvements.

Four instances of formal indebtedness and contracts between Lowell and several companies were questioned by the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit in a preliminary report filed recently.

Parking any type of vehicle on the grass in residential areas of Fort Smith could be prohibited in the near future. The Fort Smith Board of Directors directed Wally Bailey, director of planning and development, to draft an ordinance that would prohibit parking a vehicle in a residential area on anything other than a hard surface.

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