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Friday September 22, 2017

INMATES-CHICKEN POX

Quarantine at Arkansas prison after chicken pox outbreak

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (AP) — Corrections officials have quarantined nearly 300 inmates after identifying five cases of chicken pox at an eastern Arkansas prison.

The Arkansas Department of Correction said Thursday that the quarantine at the East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys would continue until Oct. 10 unless more cases of chicken pox were identified.

The East Arkansas Regional Unit has a capacity of more than 1,600 inmates.

HERBICIDE DISPUTE-ARKANSAS

Arkansas panel OKs cutoff date for herbicide’s use next year

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas regulators approved a cutoff date for the use next year of an herbicide that has prompted scores of complaints in several states from farmers who say the weed killer has drifted onto their crops and caused damage.

The state Plant Board on Thursday voted to ban the use of the herbicide dicamba from April 16 to Oct. 31 of next year. The panel will hold a public hearing on the new restrictions on Nov. 8 before it’s forwarded to lawmakers for their approval.

The state earlier this year approved a temporary ban on the herbicide’s sale and use, and has received at least 969 complaints about dicamba this year.

Thursday September 21, 2017

 

JUVENILE SENTENCES-ARKANSAS

Arkansas court OKs new sentence hearings for juvenile lifers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ highest court says Pulaski County judges can hold resentencing hearings for seven inmates sentenced to life terms as juveniles, potentially setting a course for how courts statewide should handle cases from similar inmates in other counties.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life terms without at least a chance at parole. Arkansas legislators subsequently declared such inmates parole-eligible after a term of years, but Pulaski County judges want each inmate to receive an individualized resentencing hearing.

Lawyers for the state argued to the Arkansas Supreme Court that the lawmakers’ fix was fine, but justices on Thursday rejected their arguments.

Some judges outside Pulaski County have approved of the Legislature’s remedy. Lawyer Jeff Rosenzweig says Thursday’s decision will help guide courts outside Little Rock.

POLICE SHOOTING-ARKANSAS

Man critically wounded in shooting by Arkansas law officers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Police say a man was critically wounded when he was shot by police officers in central Arkansas.

Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner says the man was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive after being shot early Thursday in southwest Little Rock.

Buckner says officers investigating a reported rape and stabbing were told one suspect was hiding behind a nearby church.

Buckner says officers went to the area and called for the man to come out of the dark with his hands up, but the man came out in a “shooting stance” and two officers opened fire.

No names have been released and police did not immediately say whether the suspect was found to have a weapon.

The two officers are now on paid leave.

MISSISSIPPI-PRISON ESCAPEES

Second escaped Mississippi inmate back in custody

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A second inmate who escaped from a Mississippi prison in back in custody.

Mississippi Department of Corrections spokeswoman Grace Fisher says 22-year-old Ryan Young was captured Wednesday.

James R. Sanders , 41, was captured Tuesday night.

The two men escaped late Sunday or early Monday from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

Young was caught in Mound Bayou, 15 miles west of Parchman. Sanders was caught in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, 50 miles north.

Fisher says officials continue investigating how the men escaped and whether others could face criminal charges for helping.

Sanders was convicted of murder in Lafayette County and sentenced to life in prison in 2000.

Young was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2015 after being convicted of burglary, grand larcency and illegal gun possession in Claiborne County.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-ARKANSAS

Report: Arkansas can lose $6B under proposed health care law

(Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A report estimates that Arkansas could lose $6 billion in federal health care funding over seven years under legislation aimed at repealing much of the health care law.

The analysis Washington, D.C.-based Avalere Health released Wednesday compares projected spending under the current health care law and the Republican-backed legislation revealed last week.

It found that the proposed legislation would reduce funding to over 30 states, including Arkansas, by a total of nearly $294 billion from 2020 to 2026. The analysis also found 16 states would gain nearly $80 billion, leaving a $215 billion net loss of funding.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Gov. Asa Hutchinson supports the proposed legislation despite Avalere’s analysis. Several health care groups say they’re concerned the proposed legislation could result in more people losing health coverage.

Wednesday September 20, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas prison officials say an inmate was hospitalized with a head injury and the incident is being investigated by state police. The Department of Correction said the inmate, 34-year-old James Walker, was taken by ambulance from the Cummins Unit in Grady to an area hospital to treat a head injury.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ Republican governor is backing a revived effort to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law, saying the latest measure addresses his concerns that past proposals would have shifted too much in cost to the states. Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters he supports the legislation backed by the White House and Senate leaders that would replace much of Obama’s health law with block grants to states.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge says prison officials must release the package label from a recently acquired lethal injection drug, saying manufacturers don’t enjoy the same secrecy as others under the state’s execution procedures. Lawyer Steven Shults says Arkansas’ Freedom of Information law requires disclosure. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce on Tuesday rejected the state’s argument that privacy granted to drug sellers and suppliers in Arkansas’ execution law also extends to manufacturers.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas man charged with first-degree murder in the road-rage killing of a 3-year-old boy has been found mentally competent. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports a judge on Monday found 33-year-old Gary Eugene Holmes of Little Rock fit to proceed and scheduled his trial to begin Feb. 13. Holmes has pleaded not guilty in the Dec. 17, 2016, fatal shooting of Acen Ameer King in Little Rock.

Tuesday September 19, 2017

LITTLE ROCK SHOOTING

Federal trial delayed in Arkansas for Tennessee rapper

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas trial has been delayed for a Tennessee rapper and his bodyguard, who face federal weapons charges

The scheduled Monday trial of Ricky Hampton, who performs as Finese2Tymes, and bodyguard Kentrell Gwynn, both of Memphis, was postponed on Friday until March 19.

Hampton is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in connection with a shooting outside a nightclub in eastern Arkansas and Gwynn is charged with providing a felon with a firearm and with providing armed security to a felon.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

The two were arrested in Alabama on July 2, a day after a shooting at a Little Rock nightclub during a performance by Hampton.

Gwynn has pleaded not guilty to state charges of aggravated assault in the Little Rock shooting.

APARTMENT FIRE

Woman dead, officer injured in Arkansas apartment fire

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Police say a woman has died and an officer was injured in an apartment fire in North Little Rock.

Police say firefighters were called Saturday morning and found the woman after forcing their way into the apartment.

Police say the woman was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. Her name has not been released.

A police officer who responded to the fire was treated for smoke inhalation. The officer’s name and condition were not released, but police say the injuries are not life-threatening.

A suspected cause of the fire is still under investigation.

FATAL STABBING

Man fatally stabbed in North Little Rock, woman questioned

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Police say a 53-year-old man has died after being stabbed outside a home in North Little Rock and a woman is being questioned about the case.

A police news release says officers responding to the stabbing shortly before 7 p.m. Friday found Mark Crotts wounded in the driveway of the home.

Crotts was taken to a hospital where he later died.

Police say a woman who reportedly left the scene of the stabbing before officers arrived was later stopped on an Interstate 40 on-ramp and is being questioned.

No arrests have been announced.

WALMART-HEADQUARTERS

Walmart to build new home office in Bentonville, Arkansas

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has announced plans to build a new home office less than 2 miles (3 kilometers) from its current headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove says the company is in the early planning and design phases of the project and that it will take up to seven years to complete.

An estimated cost of the project has not been determined.

The company said its current operations are in more than 20 buildings and the new headquarters to be built on more than 350 acres will provide more efficiency.

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer and has been in its current home office since 1971.

Monday September 18, 2017

QUINTUPLE FATAL

5 die when pickup truck crashes into Oklahoma creek

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says five people were killed when the pickup truck they were in crashed into a creek in northeastern Oklahoma.

An OHP report says 18-year-old Donovan Caldwell of Muskogee, 18-year-old Jessica Swartwout of McAlester, 19-year-old Drake Wells of Thackerville, 18-year-old Rhianna Seely of Salina and 18-year-old Lily Murphy of Gentry, Arkansas, were each dead at the scene of the crash near Tahlequah.

The report says the five were in the pickup driven by Caldwell shortly before 10:45 p.m. Sunday when it went off the road and struck a guardrail, then crossed the roadway and went through a guardrail before plummeting about 35 feet into the creek and landing on its top.

The report says the cause of the crash has not been determined.

IN-CUSTODY DEATH-ARKANSAS

Authorities: Man dies in custody after fighting deputies

HEBER SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas State Police is investigating the in-custody death of a man who went into medical distress after authorities say he began fighting with sheriff’s deputies.

The Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office says in a statement that deputies were aiding an ambulance on a medical call Saturday when a man in the area started acting “disorderly.”

When deputies approached, the sheriff’s office says the man began to fight them. Authorities said after a “very intense physical altercation,” the man was taken into custody.

Deputies soon discovered the man was in medical distress. They performed CPR and ran to the ambulance for help.

The man died later at a hospital.

The deputies involved have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Authorities haven’t released the name of the man.

Friday September 15, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A spokeswoman for Georgia Power Company says an Arkansas man was injured while helping restore power in Georgian following Hurricane Irma. Georgia Power spokeswoman Ashley West said Thursday that the company’s top priority is the safety of the workers and said their thoughts and prayers are with the lineman’s family. The man’s name, hometown and details of the accident were not released.

 

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Enhanced security measures will be in place at North Little Rock High School football games after a shooting last week that injured a teenager. The North Little Rock School District says all bags and purses will be scanned at the high school’s stadium, and more police officers will be present at Friday’s game against Little Rock Parkview.

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A proposed policy change for Little Rock’s airport would ban medical marijuana use for all airport employees even if they qualify to use it. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the proposed change at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport comes in response to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. The amendment passed in November allows doctors to recommend marijuana for patients suffering from specific medical conditions.

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A government agency survey says the percentage of Arkansas residents with health care insurance is on the rise, putting the state above the national average. According to the survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of uninsured residents dropped last year by almost 46,000 to nearly 231,800. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the state ranked 25th in the percentage of residents with coverage last year, an improvement from 2015 when the state ranked 30th.

Thursday September 14, 2017

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) — Police say a woman has been found dead in a car in the parking lot of a northwest Arkansas hospital. Springdale Police Lt. Jeff Taylor told KHOG that the woman was found Wednesday morning outside Northwest Medical Center in Springdale. Her name was not released and Taylor says the body is being sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy to determine the cause of death and for positive identification.

 

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) — Voters in Baxter County have approved two sales tax measures that will expand the county jail and fund Mountain Home’s fire and police departments. Voters on Tuesday approved an eight-month, 1 percent sales tax that will pay for 50 new beds at the Baxter County jail, along with a 0.25 percent sales tax to pay for maintenance and operation at the jail. In Mountain Home, voters approved a 0.375 percent sales tax that will support police and fire departments in the city.

 

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — City leaders in northwest Arkansas have been advised to reject a settlement in a lawsuit that accuses them of violating the Freedom of Information Act by discussing city business in emails. Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen filed two FOIA lawsuits on behalf of a resident. His settlement offer requires the city directors to admit that the emails violated the act by holding informal meetings. But the city’s attorney, Jerry Canfield, recommends that the city directors reject the offer.

 

ROGERS, Ark. (AP) — Firefighters say a woman was found dead following a house fire in northwest Arkansas. The Rogers Fire Department says it was called shortly before 4 a.m. Wednesday to the home on the city’s east side. Firefighters say the woman lived alone in the home. Her name hasn’t been released.

 

Wednesday September 13, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Prosecutors say two central Arkansas police officers who fatally shot a man in Little Rock’s downtown entertainment district won’t face criminal charges. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that officers Brian Osmundson and Samuel Hill have been cleared in the March 26 death of 54-year-old Michael Hornibrook. Authorities have said that Hornibrook pointed a handgun at the officers before they opened fire on him.

 

NEWPORT, Ark. (AP) — A northeast Arkansas man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in the death of a 10-month-old infant. Jail records show that the man from Newport is being held in the Jackson County jail. Court records do not show that formal charges have been filed. KAIT-TV reports that police were called to an apartment complex in Newport on Sunday where they found the baby dead.

 

WEINER, Ark. (AP) — Tigers, lions and a leopard that were recently discovered in a warehouse in northeastern Arkansas will soon be flown to Germany. The big cats are former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus animals. Local authorities found them Saturday. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that animals will be flown to Germany next week.

 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A judge has halted a lawsuit filed by reality TV personality Josh Duggar over the release of information related to allegations that he sexually abused his sisters as a child. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports a federal judge issued the ruling Monday in the lawsuit filed against city officials in Springdale. The decision stops proceedings until the judge decides on the city’s motion to dismiss the case.

 

Tuesday September 12, 2017

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped capital murder charges filed against a Blytheville man who had been accused in a December shooting death. The Blytheville Courier News reports that the charges were dropped Monday against Travis Young, who had been charged in the Dec. 19 killing of 52-year-old Dennis Moore. A defense attorney says the charges were dropped after a witness recanted her statement.

WEINER, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokesman says authorities are investigating the discovery of seven tigers, six lions and a leopard in a barn in Arkansas. Spokesman Randy Zellers says that the animals were discovered Saturday in Poinsett County in cages. Zellers says they are owned by a man from England who was keeping them until they could be flown to Germany. But he didn’t have the paperwork to bring them to Arkansas.

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a man died following a shooting at a gas station in West Memphis. West Memphis police say the shooting happened Saturday night at a Citgo gas station in the east Arkansas city. Police say the victim was taken to a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where he later died.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas State Fair will increase its security this year amid a surge of crimes in Little Rock. Event President Ralph Shoptaw tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the fair has purchased walk-through metal detectors for the first time in its 78-year history. The detectors, which cost about $1,500, are paid for through a surplus equipment program. In previous years, security guards have used handheld metal detectors to search for weapons. Weapons are banned from the fairgrounds.

Monday September 11, 2017

ENVIRONMENTAL GRANT-ARKANSAS

No one has applied for $815,000 Arkansas environmental grant

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Administrators of Arkansas’ most populous county say no one has applied for an $815,000 grant from a federal environmental program that helped developers revitalize downtown Little Rock’s Main Street.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund distributes money to government agencies to assess and clean up properties where hazardous substances may be present.

About 10 years ago, more than $1 million in brownfields program money helped clean up buildings that became major staples of Little Rock’s Main Street program. But Josh Fout, Pulaski County’s brownfields administrator, says no one has applied for the new grant money.

Last year, the EPA announced $55.2 million in brownfields grants to 131 communities, with Pulaski County receiving the highest award of $820,000. The county has spent only $5,000.

WATER QUALITY-ARKANSAS

Arkansas 1 of 2 states without plan for water degradation

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas is one of just two states that have yet to implement a plan to protect the state’s most important waters from degrading.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Arkansas has not adopted an “anti-degradation” plan, a major provision of the federal Clean Water Act’s water quality standards to stop rivers and lakes from deteriorating.

Deterioration can occur in many forms, such as when a body of water has too much dirt or when nutrients like phosphorus or nitrogen build up and form algae.

Environmental advocates say the anti-degradation provision protects the nation’s scenic waterways. But businesses say implementation of the provision won’t change water quality much but will require companies and utilities to pay more for engineering studies on cleaner waste technology and disposal methods when applying for discharge permits.

HURRICANE IRMA-AIRCRAFT-ARKANSAS

US Air Force aircraft sent to Arkansas ahead of Irma

JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — U.S. Air Force aircraft and personnel from Florida have arrived in Arkansas as Hurricane Irma threatens the East Coast.

Little Rock Air Force Base says in a news release Saturday that 400 personnel from Hurlburt Field in Florida with aircraft that include the U-28A, CV-22 Ospreys and the MC-130H Combat Talon II will be housed at the base until the weather threat ends.

The Category 4 hurricane battered much of Cuba Saturday as it continued on a path toward Florida.

The Air Force is also relocating other aircraft that’s in the potential path of the hurricane to reduce the chance of it being damaged.

ARKANSAS-CORRUPTION INDICTMENT

Taped phone calls can be used against ex-Arkansas lawmaker

(Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.nwaonline.com)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Federal prosecutors will be allowed to use secretly recorded phone calls involving a former Arkansas state senator charged in a corruption case.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that U.S. District Judge Tim Brooks on Friday denied a request by Republican former Sen. Jon Woods to prevent prosecutors from using the recordings. The recordings are of phone calls between Woods and Republican former Rep. Micah Neal, who earlier pleaded guilty to fraud related to the case.

Woods is charged in a federal indictment along with Ecclesia College President Oren Paris III and consultant Randell Shelton Jr. The three allegedly took part in a scheme in which Woods directed state money to the college in return for kickbacks.

Each of the three has pleaded not guilty.

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PRISON SEX-INVESTIGATION

Victim of ex-Arkansas prison chaplain files federal suit

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — One of three female inmates a former Arkansas prison chaplain admitted to sexually assaulting has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against him and other state prison officials.

An inmate at the McPherson Women’s Unit sued Kenneth Dewitt, a former chaplain at the prison, Correction Director Wendy Kelley and other state prison officials in a complaint filed Thursday. Dewitt was sentenced to five years in prison last year after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual assault.

Fifty counts of third-degree sexual assault were initially filed against Dewitt, who resigned in September 2014 after acknowledging a sexual relationship with a subordinate in the chaplain’s office. A separate lawsuit was filed in federal court last year by another of Dewitt’s victims.

ARKANSAS EXECUTIONS-DRUGS

Lawyer sues Arkansas prison system over execution drug label

(Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A Little Rock attorney has again sued the Arkansas Department of Corrections, saying it needs to publicly disclose labeling materials for an execution drug.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Steven Shults is seeking labeling for the state’s supply of midazolam. The sedative is the first of three drugs used in Arkansas’ lethal injection protocol.

Shults’ lawyer says his client wants to be sure prison officials are complying with state law.

Prison officials rejected Shults’ request for the labeling in August, saying the state’s execution law prevents them from disclosing information about the maker or provider of drugs used in executions.

Shults also sued the department in March to see the labeling for potassium chloride, another drug used in the execution process. A judge ruled in his favor, but the Arkansas Supreme Court put the ruling on hold as the state appeals.

Friday September 8, 2017

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS-ARKANSAS

Arkansas asks court not to reconsider abortion pill ruling

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas is asking a federal appeals court to not reconsider a panel’s decision to clear the way for the state to restrict how the abortion pill is administered.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday to deny a request from Planned Parenthood to have the full court review a three-judge panel’s ruling vacating a judge’s preliminary injunction against the 2015 law.

The measure requires doctors providing the pill to maintain a contract with another physician with admitting privileges at a hospital who agrees to handle any complications. In July, the panel sent the case back to the judge and said the lower court should look into the number of women who would be unduly burdened by the contracting physician requirement.

LOCAL PROJECTS-ARKANSAS

Arkansas court hears arguments over local project funding

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Supreme Court justices are questioning just how specific lawmakers need to be in funding measures as they weigh a lawsuit that claims the Legislature is violating the constitution by sending money to regional agencies to be distributed around the state for local projects.

Justices heard oral arguments Thursday in a former state representative’s lawsuit challenging $2.9 million that went toward one of eight planning districts in 2015. Mike Wilson said the money violates a constitutional ban on strictly local legislation and the constitution’s requirement that budget measures state a distinct purpose.

Wilson was behind a lawsuit that prompted the court to strike down the Legislature directly funding local projects around the state with surplus money. Attorneys for the state and the district argued the grants are constitutional.

ROBO CALLS-MOVIE

St. Louis judge awards $32 million to robo call recipients

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal judge in St. Louis has ordered a Virginia man and his companies to pay $32.4 million in damages for improper robo calls promoting a movie.

U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber says in the ruling Thursday that Gabriel Joseph III and his companies violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by making calls to more than 3.2 million recipients without their consent.

The calls made in 2012 promoted the movie “Last Ounce of Courage.” Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee narrated the calls but was dismissed from the lawsuit.

The attorney for the St. Louis County couple who filed suit on behalf of all call recipients says an appeal will seek the $500 per call penalty allowed by the law — in this case, $1.6 billion.

LITTLE ROCK KILLINGS-POLICE

Little Rock spends nearly $10K a day for police overtime

(Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Little Rock is spending nearly $10,000 daily as it keeps in place a mandatory overtime plan for police aimed at tackling the city’s uptick in violent crimes.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Police Chief Kenton Buckner’s plan calls for 45 officers to each work four hours of overtime weekly. The added patrols take place from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Buckner says he’s reviewing the increased overtime schedule every 30 days. He says the plan will continue as long as necessary.

The city could spend an estimated $1.2 million if the plan continues through December. The mandatory overtime began in August.

The plan is being covered by the Police Department’s $2 million overtime fund. The department will have to increase its allocation if the overtime plan carries over into 2018.

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ARKANSAS STATE-ENROLLMENT

Arkansas State University sees enrollment increase

(Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com)

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas State University’s enrollment has increased by 40 more students this year, but the university has fewer first-time undergraduates and first-year international students.

The Jonesboro Sun reports the university enrollment for the fall is up to nearly 14,130 compared to the nearly 14,090 students enrolled in fall 2016.

The university has 217 fewer first-time freshman this year compared to last year. The school’s new international student enrollment also dropped 75 percent.

Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said in a statement that the university appreciates “the rise in concurrent, online and graduate students, plus the addition of our new students.” But she said the decline in the number of traditional incoming students is an issue that needs to be addressed.

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MEDICAL MARIJUANA-BENTON COUNTY

Benton County leaders delay vote on marijuana facility

(Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.nwaonline.com)

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Leaders in Benton County have delayed a decision on whether to allow a proposed medical marijuana cultivation facility in the county.

The county’s planning board voted unanimously Wednesday to table any action on the proposed facility until Sept. 20. The proposal would create a growing facility for marijuana on a 20-acre site near Gentry, about 160 miles (257 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that about a dozen people spoke out Wednesday against the facility, citing concerns about traffic, crime and environmental issues.

Arkansas voters legalized medical marijuana last year and the state is now working to implement the program. The state is accepting applications until Sept. 18 for five cultivator permits and 32 dispensary permits.

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Thursday September 7, 2017

OPIOID ABUSE-ARKANSAS

Arkansas pharmacists to dispense drug overdose antidote

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas pharmacies can now dispense an overdose antidote drug without a prescription under an initiative aimed at reducing opioid-related deaths in the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state officials on Wednesday announced the implementation of a new law that will allow pharmacists to order, dispense and administer naloxone without a prescription. State officials say they had finalized the protocol for the state’s roughly 3,400 licensed pharmacists for the new law, which they said would provide greater access to more Arkansans and first responders in the event of a drug overdose.

Naloxone is administered via injection or nasal spray to block or reverse an opioid overdose.

COUNTY JAIL-INMATE ATTACK

Arkansas inmate accused in officer’s death to be evaluated

(Information from: Texarkana Gazette, http://www.texarkanagazette.com)

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — A judge says an Arkansas inmate accused of killing a correctional officer needs further mental evaluations before his case can proceed to trial.

The Texarkana Gazette reports that 27-year-old Tramell Hunter could face the death penalty if convicted of capital murder in the Dec. 18 death of correctional officer Lisa Mauldin. Hunter is also accused of attacking correctional officer Damaris Allen.

Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson ordered the evaluation earlier this year after defense attorney Ron Davis entered a not guilty plea by reason of mental disease or defect. The prosecution says a psychologist found that Hunter is incapable of assisting his lawyer with his defense. The psychologist also recommended further evaluation.

Johnson says Hunter’s case can’t move forward until he’s reevaluated and a determination of his competency has been made.

Wednesday September 6, 2017

STATE PARK-REMAINS FOUND

Son, mother charged in connection to 2009 Oklahoma death

POTEAU, Okla. (AP) — The husband and mother-in-law of an Oklahoma woman whose remains were found near a state park have been charged in connection to the 2009 smothering death.

The Southwest Times Record reports that Donald Wilson has been charged with first degree murder and unlawful disposal of human remains in the death of his wife, Jody Wilson.

LeFlore County District Attorney Jeffrey Smith says Donald Wilson’s mother, Edith Wilson, has also been charged as an accessory. He says she is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

A man who was paragliding above Runestone State Park near Heavener discovered the victim’s remains in May 2009.

A sheriff’s department official says Wilson turned himself in Tuesday.

MISSING CANNONBALL

Cannonball goes missing from Arkansas Confederate statue

(Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.nwaonline.com)

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A cannonball from a Confederate monument in northwest Arkansas has been stolen.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the cannonball stolen from Bentonville’s downtown square Monday night was a replacement for one that was stolen more than a decade ago.

A Sheriff’s Department spokesman says the police department has received video from a surveillance camera that covers the area. County Judge Barry Moehring says the incident is “a law enforcement matter right now.”

City officials say they’ve fielded questions and comments about the statue since the deadly white supremacist rally last month in Charlottesville, Virginia.

According to county records, the statue was placed in the downtown square in 1908 under an agreement between the county and James H. Berry chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Tuesday September 5, 2017

ESCAPED INMATE

Escaped Arkansas jail inmate surrenders after 4 days

WYNNE, Ark. (AP) — Authorities in northeast Arkansas say an escaped jail inmate is back in custody after four days on the run.

Cross County Sheriff J.R. Smith says inmate Larry Jackson Jr. walked into the lobby of the county jail and surrendered to authorities shortly before 6 a.m. Monday.

Smith says Jackson escaped shortly before midnight Thursday when he distracted a jailer and ran through an unlocked kitchen door. Smith says a jailer violated a jail policy by agreeing to move Jackson from his cell during the night shift.

Jackson was being held on first-degree battery charges. Smith says Jackson will face an additional charge of escape and that he hopes to also pursue charges against Jackson’s cell mate for failing to report Jackson’s plans to jailers.

GUARDSMEN INJURED

Convoy crash on Arkansas highway injures 14 guardsmen

(Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com)

CABOT, Ark. (AP) — Fourteen soldiers with the Arkansas National Guard have returned to duty after being injured during a convoy crash involving eight military vehicles preparing to travel to Texas to aid in hurricane relief efforts.

Arkansas National Guard spokesman Maj. Will Phillips told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette the vehicles were traveling to Camp Robinson when the crash occurred Sunday.

Arkansas state police said the 14 injured soldiers were taken to three separate hospitals, but none had life-threatening injuries. Trooper Liz Chapman said an object fell off the back of the lead convoy vehicle, and the vehicle behind it could not stop in time, leading to a chain reaction.

Phillips said the vehicles were traveling to Camp Robinson when the crash occurred, and that all 14 soldiers were returned to duty Sunday evening.

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ESCAPED INMATE CAPTURED-ARKANSAS

Escaped Prairie County inmate captured. back in custody

(Information from: KTHV-TV, http://www.kthv.com/)

DES ARC, Ark. (AP) — An inmate who escaped from the Prairie County Jail is back in custody after a few hours of freedom.

Little Rock television station KTHV reports that inmate Richard Lee Long escaped from the Prairie County Jail on Saturday. Sheriff Rick Hickman says Long managed to squeeze through one fence and climb over another one.

Authorities say Long was back in custody Saturday afternoon although details of his capture were not immediately available.

Originally from Benton, Long was living in Hazen at the time of his arrest on charges of third-degree domestic battery.

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PUBLIC PAYROLL-ARKANSAS

Arkansas state payroll adds 297; colleges see biggest gain

(Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An annual report indicates that Arkansas’ public payroll increased by 297 full-time employees to a total of 60,226 during the past year.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the number of state workers at public colleges and universities increased during the fiscal year that ended on June 30. But the annual public payroll report indicates numbers at other agencies declined.

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration records indicate that full-time workers at two-year and four-year public colleges and universities increased by 345 when compared with the end of fiscal 2016 to a total of 28,764. Full-time employees declined by 48 to 31,462 at other state agencies.

Many employees are under the control of Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, but some work for six other constitutional officers in Arkansas, including the attorney general.

Friday September 1, 2017

EL DORADO, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas State Police say three people have been killed in separate vehicle crashes on state roads. Reports say a juvenile, whose name wasn’t released, and 21-year-old Calen Summerville of Junction City died in crashes near El Dorado and 63-year-old Phillip Walker of Midland died in a crash near Midland. Each accident occurred Thursday.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey of business leaders suggests more economic growth lies ahead for nine Midwest and Plains states. A report released Friday says the overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 57.5 in August from 56.1 in July. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the survey “points to solid growth for both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing for the rest of 2017.”

WOODVILLE, Miss. (AP) — An inmate has died after a fight in a privately run Mississippi prison. Management & Training Corporation says in a news release Thursday that 39-year-old Deandre Davis died Wednesday at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. Davis was from West Helena, Arkansas, and was convicted of murder and other charges in Mississippi for crimes committed in 2001.

UNDATED (AP) — The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Depression Harvey is beginning to lose its tropical characteristics as its heavy rain spread deeper inland toward the Ohio Valley. At 10 p.m. CDT, Harvey’s center was located about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Memphis, Tennessee. Flash flood watches and warnings remain in effect from northeast Arkansas into northern Mississippi, western Tennessee and much of Kentucky.