Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday summary

With the collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and the closing of the Interstate 40 bridge in Memphis, Congress will likely consider raising the gas tax slightly in order to pay for necessary repairs to improve America’s aging roads and bridges, Rep. Marion Berry told a Jonesboro civic group.

Pulaski County prosecutors have linked criminal charges against former county Comptroller Ron Quillin to his affair with a county vendor, according to a criminal complaint released Wednesday. The complain was filed under seal and Pulaski County has been attempting to hide emails between Quillin and the female vendor from public scrutiny.

The Pulaski County sheriff’s office on Wednesday sent Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley its completed investigation into allegations of ethics law violations by Little Rock School Board President Katherine Mitchell, interim Superintendent Linda Watson and a small group of other Little Rock district employees.

The Arkansas State Police is investigating how money used for undercover drug buys was managed at the Beebe Police Department, according to White County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Raff.

Alltel Corp. shareholders’ overwhelming approval of the sale of the company for $26.3 billion marked a final step toward taking the publicly traded firm private.

A study projecting a three-year, $5.5 billion statewide economic impact from natural-gas production in the Fayetteville Shale formation was much too low, according to Kathy Deck, director of the University of Arkansas’ Center for Business and Economic Research. Arkansas has the lowest severance tax in the region.

Roby Brock reports on Mississippi County has a hot industrial prospect although the name of the company is not being disclosed. Earlier this week, Mississippi County officials agreed to add $175,000 in economic development funds to a $425,000 commitment in trying to land a major industry in the county. The prospect is rumored to be in the steel industry, which would compliment Nucor Steel’s major operations in the region.

Equity research giant Credit Suisse issued a scathing memo on Dillard’s Department Stores and the company’s woeful second quarter in which the Little Rock-based mall retailer reported a $25.2 million loss.

Several record companies filed a lawsuit in Arkansas against 10 people they say copied music illegally through a file-sharing website, and then distributed over 5,000 copies. The ten people have internet provider addresses through a Little Rock company, Windstream Communications. In the lawsuit, the record companies asked for permission to subpoena Windstream for the real names, addresses and phone numbers of the ten.

Southwestern Energy Power Co.’s proposed coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County is likely to cost more than the company’s $1.4 billion estimate, an attorney for some of the opponents has suggested.

Reconfiguring the Interstate 630/Interstate 430 interchange in west Little Rock will cost at least $130 million, almost twice the original estimate, a top state highway official reports. The total cost likely will be even higher, in part because the project will take several years to complete, said Scott Bennett, assistant chief engineer for planning at the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. The cost estimate is in today’s dollars, he said.

The state has determined that Jefferson County violated state ethics rules by paying more than $600,000 to vendors that employed family members of former County Judge Jack Jones and another county employee, according to an audit released Wednesday.

A state representative who is trying to kick a more than 20-year habit of smoking cigarettes wants colleagues who chew tobacco to change their ways, too. Rep. Pam Adcock of Little Rock proposed changing House rules to bar representatives from chewing tobacco in the House chamber and committee rooms.

Arkansas State University officials told a legislative panel they have a tool that could help promote interest and demand for broadband technology in the state, but they lack funding to use it. At a meeting of the Joint Committee on Advanced Communications and Information Technology, ASU officials gave a presentation on the NETmobile, a van with wireless Internet access that the university acquired through a 2001 grant from the U.S. Department of Economic Development.

Volunteers seeking to raise $2 million to save Bald Knob schools say they are being hindered by untrue rumors that substantial sums have already been raised.

Rachel Hoffmann of Searcy has joined an elite group in the nation. She has achieved a perfect score of 36 on the ACT when she took the exam in June. The ACT is a test given to high school seniors used to qualify them for entrance into college.

A day after an e-mail chain sparked concern about safety in Little Rock’s River Market District, police arrested two teens Wednesday in a pair of carjackings occurring in the entertainment district in the past month.

A former Arkansas Tech University chemistry professor arrested in conjunction with a Russellville Police Department online sting operation designed to catch Internet predators has been indicted in federal court. Prosecuting Attorney David Gibbons says he declined to continue prosecution of Albert Snow in Pope County Circuit Court after federal prosecutors notified him they planned to pursue the case in U.S. District Court.

A woman tried to plead guilty in an arson case Wednesday in hopes of keeping her children from losing both their parents to prison, but a judge wasn’t convinced of her guilt. “I can’t accept the plea,” U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson Jr. told Tawanna Thomas after she said she didn’t know that when she bought gas canisters for her husband, he planned to use them to commit a crime, let alone to ignite the Bada-Bing Grille nightclub in Pulaski County.

A 9-woman, 3-man jury was seated at the Craighead County Courthouse in the case of a Paragould woman charged with manslaughter and four counts of second-degree battery. Judy Cozart is charged in connection with a traffic accident on March 21, 2006, in which Greene County Justice of Peace Mark E. Reed was killed and four others were injured. Another motorist called 911 describing Cozart’s irratic driving prior to the wreck.

Country star Faith Hill will sing the opening theme to NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” this season, the network announced Wednesday.

Big-time moviemaking returns to Memphis in October, when Matt Dillon, Kate Beckinsale, Alan Alda, David Schwimmer and Vera Farmiga come to town to shoot "Nothing But the Truth," a political thriller from writer-director Rod Lurie.

We have a few college students online from college of Arkansas-State-University-Jonesboro and we love your blog postings, so well add your rss or news feed for them, Thanks and please post us and leave a comment back and well link to you. Thanks Jen , Blog Manager Arkansas State University Jonesboro.
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