Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday summary

The I-40 Mississippi River Bridge at West Memphis is open after being closed for several hours Monday. Highway officials cut off access to the Interstate-40 bridge over the Mississippi River near West Memphis for more than nine hours Monday after an inspector detected a slight shift in a pier on an approach to the main span.

Gov. Mike Beebe joined with three Democratic members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation to support the federal reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health insurance for low-income children. The Program helps fund ARHealthNet, prenatal care for immigrant women, and ARKids B. Rep. John Boozman, the Arkansas delegation’s only Republican, voted against the House proposal because he feared privately insured children would switch to the SCHIP Program.

Arkansas' Democratic U.S. senators welcomed the resignation Monday of embattled U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales but expressed concerns about reports that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff may be nominated as his replacement. AP and Bloomberg also mention former Arkansas gubernatorial candidate and Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Asa Hutchinson.

Gov. Mike Beebe will not call the Legislature into special session to change the Arkansas law that allows children of any age to marry if they have their parents’ consent.

The continued backlog of state prisoners being held in county jails across Arkansas prompted the state Board of Corrections on Monday to invoke the Emergency Powers Act, making up to 704 inmates eligible to apply for early parole.

Closing the border with Mexico is not a solution to America’s immigration problem, according to Mexican Consul Andres Chao. The solution, he says, lies in open communication and in both countries accepting responsibility in what he called a complex relationship. Chao is troubled by law enforcement agencies in Northwest Arkansas that are sending officers to receive immigration enforcement training.

Three years after then-Gov. Mike Huckabee announced a campaign to reduce obesity rates in Arkansas, the state has seen little progress among adults. His Healthy Arkansas initiative sought to cut the state’s adult obesity rate from 23 percent in 2002 to 15 percent. Since then, the percent of adults who are considered obese has actually increased to 26.9 percent in 2006.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is suing an out-of-business Pine Bluff car dealer for failing to pay off debt on traded-in vehicles, leaving the former owners responsible. McDaniel also alleges that when McKay Motors LLC and owner John P. McKay sold new vehicles to consumers through its McKay Hyundai dealership, the business failed to make sales tax payments for consumers when it promised consumers it would do so.

A Financial Times of London article reveales that Wal-Mart is evaluating new store formats as well as mergers and acquisitions in America. The company is searching for a senior executive to head the initiative, according to a job posting at its web site. With same-store sales slowing in the U.S. and new threats from niche retailers as well as the pending arrival of British competitor, Tesco, Wal-Mart wants to evaluate a multi-format strategy to boost growth.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors on Tuesday will continue discussion about a proposed ordinance making English the official language of the city. The board voted 4-3 last week to table the matter until it could be studied further, before voting to approve or reject the ordinance.

The civil-rights era is a model for the country’s future, not a just a historical event, said civil rights historian Taylor Branch to an audience of more than 200 at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock on Monday.

A move to add zoning restrictions on businesses that make “payday loans” has North Little Rock officials looking at a two-year, citywide moratorium on new check-cashing businesses. The ordinance would establish a 24-month moratorium on the establishment of check-cashing businesses while the city studies zoning measures that would specifically affect payday lenders.

The Little Rock School District is buying three pieces of property on Arkansas 10 and Taylor Loop Road West as a site for the district’s first new school on its western edge since 1978.

The Searcy City Council is considering an ordinance by which the mayor would not preside at meetings and would not be allowed to speak unless recognized.

A 20-year-old former nursing student, diagnosed with a mental condition that led her to make her toddler daughter sick, admitted Monday she repeatedly injected the 11-month-old with insulin while the girl was hospitalized in Little Rock for low blood sugar. Tammy Ramme pleaded guilty to a first-degree charge of endangering the welfare of a minor in exchange for five years probation.

Three members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club pleaded not guilty to felony battery charges stemming from the beatings of four members of a rival gang in Eureka Springs last month.

According to a Missouri Associated Press story, Northwest Missouri State claims it won Thursday night’s season opener 21-0, even though lightning ended the game with 2:30 left in the first quarter. According to Arkansas Tech, the game never happened. It will be up to the NCAA to decide the final outcome, and ATU head coach and Athletic Director Steve Mullins said that decision would come from the NCAA some time soon.

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