Berryville  Elementary Pledge of Allegiance


12-11-2019

Detail Days of Christmas Giving - Non-profit Spotlight - Dolly Parton's Imagination Library your s

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  We continue today with our non-profit spotlight of local non-profit organizations that rely on donations for their programs.

The Days of Christmas Giving highlights 12 non-profit organizations through December 24th. 

Our spotlight today is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Republic of Ireland.

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write Dolly started her Imagination Library in 1995 for the children within her home county. Today, her program spans four countries and mails over 1 million free books each month to children around the world.

It is available in Carroll County schools. Peggy Lodewycks is with the Holiday Island Rotary Club.......https://soundcloud.com/user-984958735/dolly-parton-il-peggy-lodewycks .

Our Non profit spotlight of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is brought to us by Sun Fest Market at Holiday Island.

Relocation of the Early Voting Site in Eureka Springs

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  The Carroll County Clerk and the Carroll County Election Commission do hereby announce that the Early Vote Site has been relocated from the Western District Carroll County Courthouse in Eureka Springs to the St. Elizabeth’s Parish Center. The Parish Center is located at 232 Passion Play Road in Eureka Springs.

The County Clerk and the Election Commissioners believe that the St. Elizabeth’s Parish Center is an ideal solution to accommodate the growing number of Early Voters in the Western District. The Parish Center offers more than adequate parking, a large area for the voting equipment and is handicap accessible assuring that Early Voting in the Western District is ADA Compliant. 

We sincerely hope that our voters will appreciate this move and take advantage of the more convenient Early Voting in Eureka Springs. We are planning to have 9 voting machines available for the new Early Vote Center instead of the 2 to 3 machines we were able to use in the Courthouse.

The County Clerk and the Carroll County Election Commissioners strive to continue to improve the election process and the voting experience for our county.

Missing Woman's Body Found

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  The body of a missing Kansas woman has been found in Newton County.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office says the remains of Sherry Babcock were found around 10 Monday morning.

Deputies say Babcock’s body was found by two loggers who were working in the Ponca area.

The body has been sent to the State Crime Lab to determine a cause of death.

NWA Woman Gets 40 Years for Trying to Hire a Hitman

  A northwest Arkansas woman was sentenced to 40 years in prison for trying to hire a hit man to kill a judge and another man in exchange for thousands of dollars in electronics and art. 

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green sentenced 38-year-old Dorris Jenkins on Monday after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit capital murder. 

Judge Green has ordered Jenkins to not have any contact with either of the men she sought to have killed, Judge Brad Karren and Jerry Ingram. 

Jenkins also faces a 10-year sentence for a drug conviction.

Rogers Home School Teacher Charged with Sexual Assault

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  A home-school teacher pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of sexually assaulting a student.

Alisa Andrews, 50, of Rogers faces from six to 30 years in prison if convicted. She was arraigned Monday before Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren.

Rogers police began an investigation in September after a church pastor reported a parent told him a home-school teacher was in an inappropriate relationship with a student, according to a probable cause affidavit. The student attended a home-school program at the pastor's church.

The 17-year-old girl told police she and Andrews were having a sexual relationship, according to the affidavit.

Andrews was a teacher through a home-school education association and director of Stage One Entertainment, which produces an annual community theater production with child actors, according to court documents.

The teen told police the two began having a sexual relationship in March. She said she knew the relationship was wrong and tried to end it, according to the affidavit.

An omnibus hearing is scheduled for Jan. 30.

Andrews is free on $25,000 bond.

Marybeth Byrd Misses Top 4 Pick

  Arkansas native Marybeth Byrd is no longer a contestant on The Voice. 

After results were annouced Tuesday night, Byrd did not make the Top 4, which would have allowed her to sing in the Finale of The Voice next week.

In recent weeks we’ve given you special coverage of watch parties in her hometown and other Arkansas locations where friends and family cheered her on. 

We are so proud of how far Marybeth has come, and are excited to see where she goes from here. We will always be #ByrdWatchers.

Cybersecurity Courses to Be Available By Fall for Students

  Arkansas high school students will be able to take courses in cybersecurity starting next fall, state and area university officials announced Monday.

The courses could prepare students to attempt industry-level certification out of high school or continue their cybersecurity education in college, said Anthony Owen, state director of computer science.

The state's curriculum will be designed using models created by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's "CyberGym." Eventually, advanced courses will be designed using models created by the University of Central Arkansas' cyber range.

The courses can be provided on high school campuses or through Virtual Arkansas. Three will be developed by May 30, and teacher training will begin in the summer.

To fund the initiative, the Arkansas Department of Education is providing a grant of $94,500, and Arch Ford Education Service cooperative is providing two subgrants of $25,000 to UALR for developing and assessing the CyberGym.

It's part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's coding initiative, funded annually at $2.5 million by the Legislature, Owen said.

Cybersecurity is a high-paying career field with not nearly enough candidates for employment, according to Albert Baker, chairman of UALR's computer science department. About 5,000 jobs exist in Arkansas, and more than 1,000 are unfilled, he said. Average starting salaries range from $90,000 to $125,000.

But Arkansas is forward-thinking, Baker said, and on the right path to fulfilling the economy's needs.

USMCA Almost A Deal

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  Arkansas lawmakers and industry leaders say they're glad that the United States Mexico Canada Agreement is moving forward, predicting it will be good for workers and a boon for the nation.

The trade agreement "will reposition the United States as not only the largest economy in the world but as one of the best places to do business in the world," U.S. Rep. French Hill said in an interview.

"I think it's a big success, probably the biggest trade success in a quarter-century, and is a substantial accomplishment for President [Donald] Trump and his principal trade ambassador," the Republican from Little Rock said.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman said he's eager to review the revised text.

"I'm really pleased that it appears to be close to completion," the Republican from Rogers said in an interview. "This is something that's drug on far too long."

Tuesday's announcement has repercussions for Walmart Inc. as well.

"We applaud the hard work and diligence by [the U.S. trade representative] and leaders in Congress on the USMCA. We're reviewing the final details, but maintaining a strong North American economy and supply chain is important to us," a company spokesman said, using the abbreviation for the United States Mexico Canada Agreement.

Walmart has a major presence in all three countries.

"North America is core to Walmart's operations as a global company. We have more than 2,800 Walmart retail units in Mexico and Canada and those support nearly 430,000 jobs," the spokesman added. 

"We are pleased the USMCA remains a trilateral agreement that preserves the free flow of goods and services in North America."

Other Arkansans were also glad to see bipartisan progress on the trade agreement.

Arkansas Farm Bureau officials were also delighted by the progress.

Thursday's Full Moon Has Significance

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  The 2010s are going out in style; cosmic style.

The last full moon of the decade is sure to be a treat for anyone who is feeling superstitious.

According to the Farmers Almanac Moon Phase Calendar, December’s Cold Moon, also referred to as the Moon Before Yule, will be 100% full on Thursday, Dec. 12 at 12:12 a.m. EST.

In Chinese numerology, 12 represents the harmony of yin and yang. The number 1 is a yang number, ruled by the sun and symbolizes independence and individualism. The number 2 is a yin number, ruled by the moon and represents symmetry and balance. Together they equal harmony.

For math nerds, the number 12 is considered sublime, which means it has the perfect number of divisors, and the sum of its divisors is also a perfect number.

Other References to 12

The number 12 is significant in these 12 ways:

1. The “Twelve Days of Christmas,” start on Dec. 25 and runs through Jan. 5.

2. Twelve is associated with the heavens — 12 months and 12 zodiac signs.

3. It’s a number widely used in the Bible — the number of apostles, the Tribes of Israel, etc.; In the book of Revelation, there are 12 gates and 12 angels.

4. The number of hours on a clock face is 12.

5. Twelve is the number of members on a jury.

6. There are 12 stages of life in Buddhism.

7. The Ancient Greeks worshipped 12 major gods of Olympus.

8. Eggs come in packs of 12.

9. The average human has 12 ribs.

10. The number of inches in a foot is 12.

11. There were 12 Knights of King Arthur’s Round Table.

12. We go through 12 grades in school.

The day after the full moon? Friday the 13.

Berryville Christmas Parade Winners

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Berryville Christmas Parade Winners

What an amazing night for a parade! Thank you so much to the participants, the judges, and the spectators!

And the winners are:

Overall Float Winner—-Grandview Baptist Church

Best Corporate Float—-Tyson Foods

Best Non Profit Float—-Girl Scouts Troop 5381

Best Automobile—-Katie Escobar

Best ATV, Bike, Mototcycle—-

Tie between Larry Plumlee and Mel Jensen

Equestrian—-Green Forest Rodeo Queen

Pedestrian—-Cub Scouts Pack 128

Congratulations to each winner!

12-10-2019

Days of Christmas Giving - Non-profit Spotlight - A Cup of Love Ministry

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  KTHS continues today with our special holiday feature, "Days of Christmas Giving", where we highlight a non-profit each day through December 24th. Our featured non-profit today is A Cup of Love Ministry in Eureka Springs.

A Cup of Love Ministry, has served thousands of nutritious, free meals to area residents, the homeless and transient travelers since its inception in 2013.

A Cup of Love Ministry was founded by Chuck and Pattie Jarrett, both licensed ministers, who saw an urgent need to fulfill a mission: feeding the hungry. Since opening its doors, they have served tens of thousands of cups of soup and full meals in a warm and welcoming environment. Meals are free to all who enter its doors. Additionally, ACLM offers its clients clothing, personal hygiene products, help with jobs, counseling, prayer and camaraderie -- and even emergency shelter and a place to sleep. Patty Jarrett shares more with us .................

Our non profit spotlight of A cup of Love Ministry is brought to us by Harts Family Center in Eureka Springs.

More information and donation information is available on their website www.nwacasa.org or on Facebook.

Tyler Worley Cheered on by Family

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  Tyler Worley (Son of Dewayne and Wendy Worley and Nephew to Freddie Worley) is competing in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas NV. They take the top 15 competitors in the PRCA circuit and he made it as the #15 in the world. He is doing very good out there this week. He is a team roper (heeler) and is roping every night this week. The NFR started last Thursday and will continue thru Saturday. 10 performances. There are many, many people from Carroll County that have or are making the trip to watch him in person. You can also watch each performance on CBS Sports each night at 9 p.m.

This is a huge deal to the cowboys lifestyle. This is like the Super Bowl of football, or the World Series of baseball. This is the culmination of a year of rodeoing as hard as they can go and going to as many sanctioned rodeos as possible. 

You can log onto the National Finals Rodeo website and get more information on Tyler and how he has done all year.

Governor Orders Flags Flown at half-staff for Fallen Police Officer

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  Governor Asa Hutchinson has ordered that U.S. and Arkansas flags be flown at half-staff in tribute to fallen Fayetteville Police Officer Stephen Carr.

Flags are to remain at half-staff until the day of interment.

Carr was shot and killed while sitting in his patrol car in the parking lot of the police station.

Gov. Hutchinson released the following statement:

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the senseless killing of Officer Stephen Carr. Our prayers are with his family, Chief Reynolds, and our entire law enforcement community."

U.S. Congressman Steve Womack, who represents the 3rd District of Arkansas, released a statement Sunday (Dec. 8) about the shooting saying, in part:

"Officer Stephen Carr proudly wore his shield while upholding his oath to keep Arkansans safe each day. He was on duty about to begin another shift when he was unjustly targeted and assassinated. He will be remembered for his dedication to community, the selfless service he exemplified, and the meaning of the uniform he wore. This tragedy serves as a reminder of the risks our brave men and women in uniform face each day. I join all Arkansans in mourning the loss of Officer Carr and offer my deepest condolences to his family, loved ones, and the Fayetteville Police Department."

A candlelight vigil for Officer Carr will be held outside of the Walton Arts Center on Tuesday, December 10 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Dickson Street will be closed between West Avenue and School Street during the vigil.

The FPD is asking residents to turn the city blue in honor of Carr by utilizing blue lights at their homes and businesses. You can also use the hashtag #LightTheCityBlue413 on social media.

A GoFundMe has been set up by the Fayetteville Fraternal Order of Police to support Carr’s family.

A visitation for Officer Carr will be held on December 11, at the University Baptist Church at 333 W, Maple St. in Fayetteville from 3-7 p.m.

The funeral service will be held on December 12 at Bud Walton Arena at 1270 Leroy Pond Dr. in Fayetteville at 1 p.m.

Both services are open to the public. Information about parking will soon be released.

If You Dread the Holiday Spending, You're Not Alone

  

A new survey shows more than 60percent of Americans dread holiday spending, with 57 percent dreading Christmas specifically.

A typical consumer will spend an average of $602.65 on winter holiday gifts in 2019, according to the LendingTree survey.

Key findings of the survey show one in three people are losing sleep worrying about how they’ll pay for the winter holidays.

According to the survey, Millenials are experiencing more pressure than other generations. It shows 71 percent feel obligated to purchase gifts. Nearly 50 percent of millennials stated they want to give the “best” presents.

Seventy-five percent of parents of children younger than 19 stated they feel pressured to spend on holiday gifts. Many indicated they’re trying to spend less than they did during 2018.

Arkansans Having Fewer Babies

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  According to health officials, people in Arkansas are having fewer babies. The Arkansas Department of Health says the state last year had its lowest birth rate in at least 19 years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports birth rates in the U.S. have hit a record low and Arkansas is seeing a similar trend. Dr. William Greenfield, with the Arkansas Department of Health, tells the Little Rock television station he’s not worried because it could mean couples are waiting until they’re ready. He says the state has seen a decline in the teen birth rate, “which is a positive.”

LOPFI Investments Increase

  The Arkansas Local Police and Fire Retirement System’s investments have increased in value from $2.04 billion to $2.35 billion so far this year and earned a return of 14.44%, an investment consultant said Thursday.

“We have seen really strong results,” Larry Middleton, executive vice president for Stephens Inc., told the system’s board of trustees.

The trustees later authorized the reallocation of about $30 million among the system’s investment managers and the termination of international stock managers — Clearbridge and Fisher Investments — that handle more than $100 million for the system. The system plans to hire two other international stock managers.

The trustees also decided to wait until they receive investment performance figures for calendar year 2019 in March before deciding whether to reduce the targeted annual return, now 7.5%.

The system’s actuary, Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Co., suggested reducing the targeted annual investment return to between 6.25% and 7% and reducing the wage inflation assumption from 3.25% to 3%, said David Hoffman of Gabriel.

But most of the trustees said Thursday they aren’t ready to reduce the targeted annual return. Some of them worried a cut could increase the cost to the system’s employers.

Since the system’s creation, its average investment return net of fees has been 8.85% a year as of Dec. 31, 2018, said David Clark, executive director for the system.

In 2018, employers paid $113.2 million into the system with a statewide average contribution rate of 22.44% of payroll, but about 40% of that amount was from the state’s insurance premium tax, Clark said.

Walmart Invests in Mas Timber Manufacturer

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A Canadian-based mass timber manufacturer that Walmart has invested in is spending $90 million to open a plant in Arkansas. 

It will be the company’s first plant in the United States. Structurlam Mass Timber Corporation announced Monday it will purchase, retrofit and equip a former steel plant in Conway and create 130 new jobs at the facility.

The plant is set to open in mid-2021 and will source softwood lumber from Arkansas-grown southern pine trees. 

The first customer of the facility will be Walmart, which is building a new home office in Bentonville.find it, it doesn’t exist. Clearly list and describe the services you offer. Also, be sure to showcase a premium service.

New Head Football Coach to Make $3M Per Year

  New University of Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman has signed a five-year deal that will pay him $3 million per year with various incentive clauses and an interesting buyout structure.

Pittman, 58, signed the offer letter on Sunday, the day he agreed to become the 34th head coach at Arkansas and the fifth in 10 years.

Pittman can increase his salary based on stair-stepping win totals. His annual pay would increase by $250,000 if the Razorbacks win six games in a given year, $500,000 if they win seven games, and $750,000 if the Hogs win eight or more games.

UA Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek, who has been vocal about reining in exorbitant buyout packages, got language in Pittman’s contract that makes progress in that regard.

If the Razorbacks fire him for convenience during the five-year term, the UA would owe him 75% of his remaining annual pay as long as the team wins 50% or more of its games. If the Razorbacks win less than 50% of their games and Pittman is fired, the UA would owe him 50% of his remaining annual pay.

The contract includes a non-compete clause with other SEC teams and buyout language from Pittman’s side. Pittman would owe the UA $6 million if he left of his own accord between now and Dec. 1, 2021. That amount would be reduced to $3 million between Dec. 2, 2021 and Dec. 1, 2022, and drop down by half again, to $1.5 million from Dec. 2, 2022 through the end of the contract term.

The contract also includes a bonus structure based on bowl appearances, SEC and College Football Playoff championships or appearances and individual awards like SEC coach of the year. Pittman can receive up to two one-year extensions for leading the Razorbacks to bowl games.

Missouri Records Three Flu Deaths

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  The cold and flu season is just beginning, but the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says three deaths are already blamed on the flu. 

The health department on Monday did not release any information about the victims but said the total number of influenza cases in the state has topped 1,500. 

The department urged people to get vaccinated and to take other precautions, such as avoiding close contact with sick people, washing hands often and thoroughly, and staying home when sick to keep others from getting infected.

RECALL - White Castle Frozen Burgers

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Running a holiday sale or weekly special? Definitely promot  

White Castle has recalled some of its frozen burgers sold at retailers due to Listeria concerns after a quality assurance test showed the presence of Listeria at one manufacturing facility.

In an announcement the company made through the Food and Drug Administration, White Castle said the recall was voluntary.

The affected products include a limited number of frozen 6-pack cheeseburgers, frozen 6-pack hamburgers, frozen 6-pack jalapeno cheeseburgers, 16-pack hamburgers, and 16-pack cheeseburgers.

There have not been any reported illnesses associated with the burgers.

The products have best-by dates ranging from Aug 4, 2020 to Aug. 17, 2020.e it here to get customers excited about getting a sweet deal.

12-9-2019

Days of Christmas Giving - Non-profit Spotlight - CASA of NWA

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KTHS has begun a special holiday feature that we're calling the Days of Christmas Giving.  We are highlighting 12 non-profit organizations through December 24th. 

A non-profit organization is formed by a group of people in order "to pursue a common not-for-profit goal". A non profit organization is often dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a particular point of view. In economic terms, a nonprofit organization uses its surplus revenues to further achieve its purpose or mission.

Our spotlight today is CASA of NWA

   CASA of Northwest Arkansas first opened its doors in 1997. They are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and are governed by a board of directors.

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northwest Arkansas provides compassionate volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children. They are committed to ensuring a consistent voice, safe home, and promising future for children in foster care.

Every child in foster care will have a fierce and skilled CASA champion by their side.

They value children above all else. In order to serve their best interests, they value commitment, compassion, truth, respect, and hope.

Katie Crow is with CASA. She says volunteers are always needed for the mission...https://soundcloud.com/user-984958735/casa-of-nwa-non-profit .

Our non profit spotlight of CASA of NWA is brought to us by Allen Squires Law and R.D. Allen Consulting.

More information and donation information is available on their website www.nwacasa.org or on Facebook.

Murdered Police Officer Identified

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  The officer who was killed in Fayetteville last night has been identified as well as the suspect who shot him.

The officer who was killed has been identified as Fayetteville Police Officer Stephen Carr.

At 9:40 p.m. on Saturday night, the shots were fired in the back parking lot of the Fayetteville Police Department on Rock Street.

According to Police Chief Mike Reynolds, the suspect was identified as London Phillips.

Reynolds said that Carr was shot while sitting inside his patrol car behind the police department.

Chief Reynolds said that Carr was, “ambushed and executed.”

Two officers responded and fired shots at Phillips and killed him. The officers are on paid administrative leave per the investigation.

Fayetteville Police have released the names of the two officers who shot and killed suspect London Phillips.

According to the department, Crpl. Seay Floyd, a seven year veteran of the department and Officer Natalie Eucce, a two and a half year veteran, both fired their weapons during the incident.

According to a Facebook post by the Fayetteville Arkansas Police Department, Stephen Carr and Natalie Eucce started their first day together in the Fayetteville Police Department on April 24, 2017.

Newton County Sheriff's Wife Found Dead

  The family and community are mourning the sudden death of Newton County Sheriff Glenn Wheeler’s wife, Stacey. According to the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association, 46-year-old Stacey Wheeler was discovered dead Friday afternoon at the couple’s residence.

The Wheelers were reportedly planning to travel out of the area for the weekend. Stacey Wheeler had reportedly packed the couple’s vehicle, waiting on her husband to arrive when she collapsed.

There were no signs of physical trauma, and Stacey Wheeler’s death is believed to be of natural causes. However, due to her age, her body is being sent to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock.

Eureka Springs Man Sentenced in Police Dragging

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  A Eureka Springs man accused of dragging a Tontitown police officer with his pickup in December of last year pleaded guilty Thursday to battery and fleeing.

Eddie Lee Marchant, 55, pleaded guilty in Washington County Circuit Court to second-degree battery and fleeing, both felonies, and a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated.

Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay sentenced Marchant to six years at the Arkansas Department of Correction with one year suspended.

Tontitown police officers called early Dec. 30 about a report of an intoxicated man urinating in public.

An officer was approaching the pickup with Marchant inside when he sped away.

The officer's equipment got snagged on the pickup, and he was dragged about 70 feet before falling to the ground, according to police.

The pickup then ran over the officer, who was treated at a hospital and released.

The pickup was traced to a home in Springdale where Marchant was arrested.

Razorbacks Hire Football Coach

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  Arkansas has hired its 34th head football coach with the announcement of former assistant Sam Pittman returning. 

He will succeed Chad Morris who was fired on Nov. 10. Morris was 4-18 at Arkansas never winning an SEC game. Barry Lunney Jr. served as the interim head coach the final two games of the season. 

Pittman is taking over a program that has fallen on hard times in recent years. Since Arkansas’ second half collapse against Missouri to end the regular season in 2016 Arkansas has gone 8-30. Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek was pleased to hire Pittman.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.“

Pittman was at Arkansas with Bret Bielema the 2013-15 seasons. He was regarded as outstanding coach and recruiter. Once he left for Georgia the Arkansas offensive line hasn’t been the same since. The Arkansas job will be a challenge, but he’s got vast coaching experience and the ability to hire a top staff. 

Forest Service Stops Feral Swine Hunting - With Excepton

  The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service says it will close Mark Twain National Forest to feral swine hunting, with a new exception.

The Forest Service will allow exceptions for licensed deer or turkey hunters who have valid state deer or turkey hunting permits to also kill feral swine. Hunters must be hunting deer or turkey in compliance with their permit. 

The decision comes after a 60 day public comment period. 

“We appreciate the public’s involvement and interest in their public lands. The comments we received helped us determine the need to modify the closure order,” said Mark Twain Deputy Forest Supervisor Tony Crump. “As a land management agency, we take input seriously so we can most effectively manage public lands for the good of the resources, our partners, and the American people.”

According to the forest service, the forest order will align Mark Twain National Forest with state efforts to eliminate feral swine from Missouri. 

According to the forest service, feral swine are responsible for more than $1.5 billion in damage and control costs, including $800 million due to direct damage to agriculture across the U.S. Feral swine also destroy natural resources such as springs and compete with native wildlife.

Fayetteville Police have released the names of the two officers who shot and killed suspect London

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 Fayetteville Police have released the names of the two officers who shot and killed suspect London Phillips.

According to the department, Crpl. Seay Floyd, a seven year veteran of the department and Officer Natalie Eucce, a two and a half year veteran, both fired their weapons during the incident.

According to a Facebook post by the Fayetteville Arkansas Police Department, Stephen Carr and Natalie Eucce started their first day together in the Fayetteville Police Department on April 24, 2017.

CWD Found in Independence County

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  A new case of chronic wasting disease has been found in Independence County. A hunter-harvested white-tailed deer taken east of Oil Trough tested positive for the disease.

The buck, sampled through the AGFC’s network of partnering taxidermists, tested positive for CWD at the Arkansas Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and was confirmed by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison.

Although Independence County is outside the AGFC’s CWD Management Zone, the AGFC does not expect to make any changes to deer-hunting regulations for the remainder of the 2019-20 deer hunting season. 

Ballard says the new positive case in Independence County is indicative of how the disease can spread slowly through natural deer movements.

Local landowners near Oil Trough may contact the AGFC to participate in surveillance efforts in the area. For more information, call 501-978-7370.

The current CWD management zone includes Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Scott, Searcy, Sebastian, Stone, Van Buren, Washington and Yell counties.

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Bob Ballinger

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  December 6, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – More than 2,000 people attended a series of meetings that the legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Retirement held in 11 cities across Arkansas earlier this fall.

Estimates are that about half of those in attendance were members of the state Teacher Retirement System.

Many of them expressed concerns about changes approved in 2017, which retirement officials concede were the result of difficult decisions. Retired teachers are living longer, so the system can expect to pay out more in lifetime benefits. 

Also, the return on the system’s investments could no longer be maintained at 8 percent. When the assumed rate of return was lowered to 7.5 percent, it necessarily meant a lengthening of the system’s period of unfunded liability.

Another change made in 2017 was to lower a benefit stipend from $75 to $50 a month. That took effect last July. There was no change to the cost of living adjustment of 3 percent a year. According to the director of the Teacher Retirement System, no changes are expected in the foreseeable future in either the stipend or the COLA.

The Arkansas retirement system is 80 percent funded, which is better than the national average of 72 percent. The amortization period is 28 years. Retirement experts recommend keeping the period below 28 years, and the Arkansas system is aiming for 18 years.

The market value of the system’s assets, as of June 30, was $17.6 billion, compared to $16.7 billion on June 30, 2018. 

A question asked during the committee meetings was whether to expect legislators to try to merge the various public retirement systems. The audience was told that no bills have been filed or proposed. Arkansas has a separate retirement system for judges, state employees, highway department employees, police and firefighters.

As of September, the teacher system was paying monthly benefits to about 50,000 retirees. Their annual benefits are a significant contribution to the local economies of Arkansas cities and towns, because they receive a total of about $1.2 billion a year. 

According to a presentation made at a recent Board of Trustees meeting, their average annual benefit is $23,558.

Of the retirees, 28 women and three men were older than 100. There were 976 retirees between 90 and 99 years old, of whom 803 were women and 173 were men. The oldest retired teacher is a woman who is 108 years old.

Revenue Report

For the first five months of the current fiscal year, the state’s net general revenue is up 4.5 percent over the same period last year.

One contributor to the healthy increase was personal income tax collections. They were up 5.9 percent, which means more people are working and getting paid more.

Another factor has been an increase of 3.1 percent in sales tax collections, which means people are spending more.

Revenue forecasts are used to set budgets for state government agencies. So far this fiscal year, revenue is 3.8 percent above official forecasts.

November was a good month for the Arkansas economy, judging by revenue statistics. Net general revenue for November was 6.1 percent more than last year and 3.7 percent above the forecast. 

Christmas will be here before we know it, but what are the chances that it could end up white across Arkansas on Christmas morning? Based on NOAA’s NCEI (National Centers for Environmental Information) climate data from 1981-2010, it’s not completely zero!

While White Christmas mornings are not common in the Natural State, they have happened in the past. Here are the chances for at least 1″ of snow depth on Christmas Day.

Higher chances (10% or higher) can be found in extreme northern Benton County and for the higher elevations of the Boston Mountains. There’s also a small max of 5% near Mount Magazine in the Paris-Subiaco-Corley area.

12-06-2019

Christmas Parades Galore

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  This is a big weekend for Christmas Parades in Carroll County.

Beginning tonight, the Eureka Springs Parade of Lights begins at 6pm downtown Spring Street. The theme is A Gingerbread Christmas. On Saturday the E.S. Preservation Society presents their 40th Annual Tour of Homes from 3-8pm. Tickets are available online or from the Chamber of Commerce. 

Saturday morning will be the Green Forest Christmas Parade beginning at 10am on the Green Forest Square. The theme this year is Chrismas Memories. The Green Forest American Legion Auxiliary will have their annual Chili Dinner this Saturday after the Green Forest Christmas parade at 10am. Serving; Chili, soup, hot dogs, desserts, hot coco, and coffee. You are encouraged to come out and support the American Legion Auxiliary in Green Forest.

Saturday evening at 6pm will be the Annual Berryville Christmas Parade at 6pm through the Berryville Square. The theme is Christmas in July. The Berryville Parks Department invite you to the After Parade Party at the Berryville Community Center for an evening of Karaoke of all your favorite songs. Cookies and hot chocolate will be available. The Karaoke Party will last until 8pm. 

Blue Eye Lady Bulldog Signs Letter of Intent

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  Congratulations to Kohnnar Patton a senior Blue Eye Lady Bulldog basketball player as she signed her letter of intent to play college basketball with Evangel University Wednesday. Kohnnar’s storied high school career includes eclipsing 1000 points in her junior year and leading Blue Eye to a 21-7 record last year that included a district title and going 7-0 in the Southwest Central League She was surrounded by family, friends, coaches, and teammates in a ceremony held in the Blue Eye gym, including her parents Steve and Tamara Patton. Picture courtesy of the Blue Eye school facebook page can be seen at kthsradio.com news page.

Mumps Cases Up at U of A

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  The Arkansas Department of Health is reporting there have been 26 cases of mumps at the University of Arkansas since September 2019.

According to Public Information Officer Danyelle McNeill, there have been 54 total cases in Arkansas since January 1, 2019.

McNeill says three cases were in September, three in October and the rest were in November.

The department is still receiving cases of the mumps around Arkansas.

Governor Announces Increase in U of A Division of Agriculture

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  Gov. Asa Hutchinson will ask the Legislature, when it convenes in April, to boost the University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture general revenue budget by $1.8 million next fiscal year, Hutchinson said Wednesday at the Arkansas Farm Bureau's annual convention.

The increase would apply to the budget for fiscal 2021, which starts July 1, 2020. The Republican governor announced his plan to several hundred people attending the farm bureau's 85th annual meeting in Little Rock.

In its regular legislative session earlier this year, the Legislature passed and Hutchinson signed a state general revenue budget that increased the division's funding by $1.13 million, to $63.93 million, in fiscal 2020, which started July 1, according to the state's Revenue Stabilization Act.

They also enacted a measure setting aside up to $1.86 million in rainy-day funds for the Division of Agriculture in fiscal 2020.

Farm Bureau President Randy Veach said in a written statement that "we were pleased to hear the governor commit to expanding the permanent funding for the UA Division of Agriculture" because adequate funding has long been a priority issue for the Arkansas Farm Bureau.

Hutchinson also said "I understand risk and I understand what you go through, and this year has not been the easiest for Arkansas farmers. It's been a tough year for Arkansas farmers, he said.

Boozman Highlights World Trade Center Arkansas Report in Push for USMCA

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  U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) highlighted data from a new report produced by the World Trade Center Arkansas to make the case that ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) needs to happen now.

During a speech on the Senate floor, Boozman argued that the U.S. House of Representatives, which must act first on ratification, is unnecessarily delaying the process and stifling economic growth as a result. 

“House Leadership’s refusal to move this trade deal is preventing additional job creation in our country and is sending the wrong signal to our trading partners across the globe. We ought to be spurring economic activity by striking fair trade agreements globally, not sitting on our hands and refusing to approve an agreement between two of our top trading partners,” Boozman said.

Boozman cited the findings of a recent report from the World Trade Center Arkansas, entitled Arkansas International Trade and Jobs Data Summary 2019, to make the case for how important the Canadian and Mexican markets are for Arkansas exporters.

“The Arkansas World Trade Center—which has played a valuable role in connecting businesses in my state with international partners for over a decade—recently released a report summarizing trade and jobs data for the Natural State. The report underscores just how crucial Canada and Mexico are for Arkansas’s economy. Natural State exports to Canada amounted to $1.2 billion last year. Our exports to Mexico totaled $870 million in that same time span. Combined, these two countries account for a third of Arkansas’s total exports,” Boozman said.

Man Arrested for Human Trafficking

  Springdale Police say a North Little Rock man was arrested for human trafficking on Tuesday outside of Fairfield Inn in Springdale, where the man and a 26-year-old woman were staying. 

According to Springdale Police, the hotel manager noticed that the woman was in trouble and intervened. 

The manager told police that the woman was staying at the hotel with 33-year-old Damion Gunnells, and that she was being forced to prostitute herself. 

Lt. Jeff Taylor said that the manager may have saved this woman's life by calling 911. 

"Thankfully she called us, and the victim was willing to stick around and tell us what happened. Or who knows what could have happened."

When police arrived at the hotel, Gunnells was leaving in a Chevy Impala, but was caught and arrested by police. 

According to the report, the woman told officers that once she started dating Gunnells, he took her across Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas and forced her to have sex in exchange for money. 

The woman said that Gunnells takes the money, and will let her "smoke narcotics" if she behaves. 

Lt. Jeff Taylor said that the woman said she was beaten by Gunnells and she was afraid to leave because he had threatened to hurt her family and friends. 

Gunnells faces several charges: including criminal sex acts, human trafficking, false imprisonment and various drug charges. He is currently being held on a $75,000 bond in the Washington County Jail.

Fairfield Inn and Suites issued a statement: "The safety of our guests and associates is one of our top priorities. This incident is an ongoing investigation with the Springdale Police Department." 

Big Day for Future of Research in Arkansas

  This week, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Teresita Bellido, professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at UAMS, and Justin Zhan, professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering at the University of Arkansas as this years Arkansas Research Alliance Scholars. 

The pair join other outstanding research professors the ARA brings to the state to advance education in a wide range of research fields, and it appears the rest of the country is taking notice. 

“Roughly around 300 of the top technology developers from 47 states are coming to Little Rock this is going to give us an enormous opportunity to shine a spotlight on Arkansas.”

Arkansas will host for the first time the states Science and Technology Institutes Annual Conference. 

12-05-2019

Berryville City Council Report

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  The Berryville City Council met Tuesday for their first meeting of the month to a short agenda.

The only item on the agenda was a Resolution giving Mayor Tim McKinney authority to execute all documents requesting membership in the Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS). TIPS is a national Cooperative Purchasing Program offered by Region VII Education Service Center in Pittsburg, Texas. Through membership and utilization of competitively bid and awarded vendor contracts, in a cooperative purchasing program specializing in the management of high-quality cooperative procurement solutions. It will be beneficial to the taxpayers through the anticipated savings to be realized by the City. The Resolution was approved by the council. 

The audit and budget were handed out to them with no official action on either one until next meeting so they have plenty of time for review before the next meeting.

Jasper Superintendent Moving to OUR Cooperative

  Jasper School District Superintendent Jeff Cantrell submitted his letter of resignation effective June 30, 2020. He plans to take over as director at the Ozark Unlimited Resources Educational Cooperative near Harrison.

The Jasper School District includes schools in Jasper, Kingston and Oark.

Cantrell’s letter of resignation was accepted by the Jasper School Board on Nov. 18.

Cantrell has been with the district the past 19 years and has been in education for 25 years.

Candra Brasel, former principal at Watson Primary School in the Huntsville School District, is assistant superintendent for the Jasper School District. Brasel said in a Facebook message that she has submitted her application for the superintendent’s job.

Cantrell said he’s proud of many accomplishments at the school district, specifically about when the three school systems came together.

Ozark Unlimited Resources Educational Cooperative is one of 15 coops in the state. It works with 16 school districts in this part of the state.

The group works with such schools as Alpena, Berryville, Green Forest, Harrison, the Jasper School District, Eureka Springs and more.

United Industries Catches Fire in Bentonville

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  A fire at an industrial plant in Bentonville sent thick clouds of smoke through Benton County.

The fire broke out at United Industries, a plant full of laminated plastic materials, On E Central Ave. Wednesday (Dec. 4) afternoon.

Thick black smoke could be seen billowing through the air as crews battled the flames.

According to Beth Wright from Northwest Medical Center, one person was injured at the scene and has already been released from the hospital. All other employees were accounted for, and no emergency crew members were harmed.

Kevin Boydston, Deputy Chief for the Bentonville Fire Department, said the situation is under control, and Melody Daniel with the Arkansas Department of Emgergency Management says the fire is completly put out.

Boydston said in a press conference, crews initially responded to an external fire at the plant.

He said a lot of United Industries' bulk storage, pallets and products, were stored in the back of the plant along with vertical tanks that contained polystyrene.

A concern for crews at the scene was a tank containing 35,000 gallons of highly flammable difluoroethane.

Boydston said they were able to protect the difluoroethane tank and the building.

Former High School Teacher Accused of Sexual Assault

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  Police arrested a former Springdale High School teacher accused of sexual assault.

Detectives arrested Randall Scott Peckham at his Springdale home at 2 p.m. Wednesday. He is being held on a $50,000 bond.

Peckham is facing charges of Sexual Assault 1st degree and Pandering or Possessing Visual or Print Medium Depicting Sexually Explicit Conduct Involving a Child.

Last month a students mother said Peckham asked her daughter to follow his various accounts.

There, Peckham had posted nude photos of himself.

The mother also said Peckham asked her daughter to send him nude photographs of himself.

Peckham had worked at the Springdale School District for 17 years, according to a copy of his resignation letter obtained by 40/29 via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Air Evac Lifeteam Closing Two Bases

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  Two Air Evac Lifeteam bases in Arkansas have closed, including the base in Paragould.

President of Air Evac Lifeteam President Seth Myers said the main reason for the closures was low reimbursement for air medical flights.

“Medicare and Medicaid do not come close to reimbursing air medical companies for the actual cost of a flight,” Myers said. “More than 70 percent of these people we fly are either on Medicare, Medicaid, or have no insurance.”

Myers also said that low reimbursement rates from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas made it where they could not maintain the bases in Paragould and Morrilton.

Myers said it costs $3 million to operate one base, and more than 87% of those costs are fixed.

Hundreds of Thousands to Lose SNAP Benefits

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  Hundreds of thousands of Americans who rely on the federal food stamp program will lose their benefits under a new Trump administration rule that will tighten work requirements for recipients.

The move by the administration is the latest in its attempt to scale back the social safety net for low-income Americans. It is the first of three proposed rules targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Program, known as SNAP, to be finalized. The program feeds more than 36 million people.

The plan, announced Wednesday, will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.

The Agriculture Department estimates the change would save roughly $5.5 billion over five years and cut benefits for roughly 688,000 SNAP recipients. That’s down from its original estimate that 750,000 people would lose benefits.

Under current rules, work-eligible able-bodied adults without dependents and between the ages of 18 and 49 can currently receive only three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period if they don’t meet the 20-hour work requirement. But states with high unemployment rates or a demonstrable lack of sufficient jobs can waive those time limits.

The new rule imposes stricter criteria states must meet in order to issue waivers. Under the plan, states can only issue waivers if a city or county has an unemployment rate of 6% or higher. The waivers will be good for one year and will require the governor to support the request.

The final rule will be published in the federal register Thursday, and go into effect in April.

The Urban Institute in a study released last month estimated that taken together, the three measures would affect roughly 2.2 million households, and 3.7 million individual beneficiaries.

Willie Nelson No Longer Smokes

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  Country music icon, Willie Nelson, announced he is no longer smoking due to ongoing health and breathing issues.

Nelson is known for singing the virtues of smoking pot and even has his own line of marijuana products. 

“I have abused my lungs quite a bit in the past, so breathing is a little more difficult these days and I have to be careful,” Nelson said.

Nelson, 86, had to postpone the tail end of his tour in August due to breathing issues. He resumed the tour the next month.

“I started smoking cedar bark, went from that to cigarettes to whatever,” Nelson said in an interview. “And that almost killed me.”

Now, he says, he’s more conscientious about his health.

During the CMA Awards last month, Nelson performed with Kacey Musgraves and at one point it appeared as though he was struggling for breath. But he did pull through the performance.

Nelson isn’t planning on stopping touring anytime soon. He told the local affiliate that singing for an hour on stage is the best exercise for his lungs. He also added that the tour bus is home to him.

12-04-2019

Flu Deaths Reach 6 So Far for the Season

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  Arkansas' flu season is picking up early, with two more deaths recorded in the past week, the state Department of Health reported Tuesday.

The latest deaths raised the state's death toll from the current flu season to six. That's twice the number of people who had died at the same point in the season last year. That season resulted in 120 deaths by the time it ended this spring.

This season is also unusual because influenza B is more common than A, said Jennifer Dillaha, the Health Department's medical director for immunizations and outbreak response.

Influenza B is typically more common in children than adults and peaks in transmission later in the flu season than influenza A.

Among those who have died, four were infected with type-B influenza, Dillaha said.

Both the normal flu vaccine and the ones designed for older people protect against the most common strain of type B in circulation.

People who haven't gotten flu shots yet should get them, she said. Even in instances when it doesn't prevent the flu, the vaccine can reduce the severity and shorten the duration of illness among those who get the flu, she said..

Often, people who die from the flu have other health conditions that weaken their immune systems or are exacerbated by the flu, she said.

One Vehicle Crash Injures Arkansas Man

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  An Arkansas man was injured early this morning in Christian County, Missouri when his vehicle ran off the roadway and overturned several times down an embankment.

The Missouri Highway Patrol reports the accident was shortly before 1am on US 65. 

Travis Anderson, 25, of Omaha, Ar., was transported to a Springfield hospital with moderate injuries.

Porch Pirates Nabbed

  Stone County deputies have arrested two people for stealing packages off porches near Branson West.

36-year-old Justin Chambers and 32-year-old Melissa Lind were booked into the Stone County jail on Monday December 2.

They're accused of stealing boxes from homes along Highway DD and Talking Rocks Road.

One of the crimes was caught on a home security camera. The man can be seen swiping a box off a porch just after 5 p.m. Monday afternoon. Chambers and Lind were booked into the Stone County jail about an hour later, after a state trooper spotted the truck that matched a neighbor's description. Deputies also found several boxes opened and emptied.

If you live in the area of DD Highway or Talking Rocks Road and are missing a package, the Sheriff's Office asks that you let them know.

Marybeth Byrd Makes Top 8 on The Voice

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  Marybeth Byrd has just made it to the Top 8 on NBC’s The Voice.

Byrd performed for the last spot tonight and made it. 

In recent weeks watch parties were held in her hometown and other Arkansas locations where friends and family cheered her on. 

You can catch Marybeth Byrd on ‘The Voice’ again next Monday on NBC.

BB&B Donates $200,000 to Local Charities

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  Bikes, Blues and BBQ is celebrating how much money the annual four-day rally brought in.

Beyond boosting the northwest Arkansas economy, the event is designed around charity.

Since it’s inception in 2000, it’s donated over $2 million.

Tommy Sisemore, Executive Director of the rally, says about $200,000 was raised this year and will be given to local charities around northwest Arkansas.

‘We always find it important to support these local home grown charities that don’t have the biggest fundraising campaigns themselves. But, it also brings a lot of attention to their causes,” he said.

The four day rally will return on September 23, 2020.

Big Frank Recovered and Back Home

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  After Big Frank disappeared Monday, its owner doubted that the thief would be able to hide the giant meat smoker for long.

He was right.

Big Frank, the beloved, hog-shaped smoker, was located Tuesday off Pitts Road, near Jennings Road, according to the Pulaski County sheriff's office.

Owner Buddy Rhoads said someone near that property had seen reports about the smoker's disappearance and called authorities after she noticed the 14-foot-tall, 20-foot-long smoker.

The sheriff's office flew a drone over the area Tuesday to verify that Big Frank was behind a locked gate, and Rhoads said authorities were getting a search warrant to enter the property and get the smoker.

Rhoads said he intends to press charges in the case.

Big Frank is usually kept in a secured parking lot, Rhoads said Monday, but it was outside his home Sunday night and Monday morning because he was working on repairs.

The smoker stays on a trailer, so Rhoads said all anyone needed to do was hitch the trailer to a truck or large vehicle to tow away Big Frank.

The smoker was originally owned by Arkansas philanthropist Jennings Osborne.

State Revenues Increase Over One Year Ago

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  State general revenues in November increased by 4.7 % over a year ago with the help of increased individual income and sales and use tax collections, state officials reported on Tuesday.

Total general revenue collections increased last month by $23 million over November 2018 to $515.2 million and exceeded the state’s forecast by $7.6 million, according to state Department of Finance and Administration officials.

The month’s collections reflect low unemployment and increased consumer spending in the state, they said.

The net general revenue available to state agencies increased last month by $24.7 million over a year ago to $431.8 million and exceeded the state’s forecast by $15.3 million.

November is the fifth month of fiscal year 2020 that started July 1.

U.S. Teens Lag Behind in Reading, Math and Science

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  Teenagers in the United States continue to lag behind their peers in East Asia and Europe in reading, math and science, according to results of an international exam that suggest U.S. schools are not doing enough to prepare young people for the competitive global economy.

The results of the Program for International Student Assessment were released Tuesday and show widening disparities between high- and low-performing students in the United States, adding to a growing body of evidence showing worsening inequity in public schools.

The exam was first administered in 2000 to measure the performance of 15-year-olds in the 35 industrialized countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and has been administered every three years since. It has expanded beyond the 35 member countries. In 2018, 600,000 students from 79 countries took the exam.

And for about as long, the exam has faced a chorus of skeptics who caution against reading too deeply into the results. Students are not penalized for performing poorly and never see their results, and students in the United States tend to be less motivated to perform well on it compared with teens in other countries, according to recent studies.

Reading and math scores for U.S. students have not changed significantly since the exam debuted, while there have been some improvements in science. That trend continued in 2018, when student scores across all three subjects were virtually unchanged from 2015.

Background Checks on Gun Purchases Surge

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  Background checks on gun purchases in the U.S. are climbing toward a record high this year, reflecting what the industry says is a rush by people to buy weapons in reaction to the Democratic presidential candidates' calls for tighter restrictions.

By the end of November, more than 25.4 million background checks — generally seen as a strong indicator of gun sales — had been conducted by the FBI, putting 2019 on pace to break the record of 27.5 million set in 2016, the last full year President Barack Obama was in the White House.

On Black Friday alone, the FBI ran 202,465 checks.

The industry has been going through one of its toughest periods, with some gunmakers, such as Remington Arms, filing for bankruptcy. More recently, Smith & Wesson’s parent company, American Outdoor Brands, announced plans to spin off its firearms unit, and Colt said it would suspend production of AR-15 rifles.

12-03-2019

#Giving Tuesday Today

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GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. 

GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts and everyone has something to give.

Total donations on Giving Tuesday last year were estimated to be nearly $400 million in the United States alone, according to tentative estimates.

Black Friday Was Huge, Cyber Monday Even Bigger

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  Americans spent a record amount of money Cyber Monday following an already record-breaking Black Friday and Thanksgiving, according to three different sales reports.

Adobe Analytics projects that Monday was the largest online shopping day in US history with $9.4 billion in sales — a 19% increase from last year.

So far, sales have surpassed $470 million and Adobe expected the final four hours of the day (10 pm ET to 2 am ET) will account for 30% of the day’s revenue. Around $11 million will be spent per minute in the 11 pm ET hour Monday.

This increase in sales can be attributed to two factors: Severe weather across the country, which is forcing people to stay home, and a shorter holiday shopping season. Adobe is also predicting a major year for shopping on mobile devices.

Americans spent $7.4 billion on Black Friday and $4.2 billion on Thanksgiving. Both were increases of 20% over last year, according to Adobe.

U.S. Census Bureau Needs Temp Employees

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  Want to make some extra moneyfor the holidays? 

The U.S Census Bureau is looking to hire temporary employees for the upcoming 2020 census. 

“So one of the most unique things they are doing this time around from this census is that they’re going to allow people to fill out their census online and by phone which are both things that have never happened before,” says Diego Caraballo a demographer with the University of Arkansas – Little Rock. 

As a demographer, Caraballo looks at the statistical data released by the census and sees how it relates to the changing structure of human populations – specifically for him, Arkansas. 

Last year the state received close to $10-billion dollars. 

With the new online option more jobs are now available for the public. It has created some interesting positions – many of which allow a person to work directly from home. 

More information is available at www.census.gov.

Human Skull Found in Newton County

  A human skull was found Monday morning in Newton County, but authorities said they don't have an official identification of the remains.

Newton County Sheriff Glenn Wheeler said the skull was located by a local resident southwest of Sam's Throne near Mount Judea on U.S. Forest Service land. He said the skull was was found near an area that was the subject of a multiweek, large-scale search for a missing woman in June.

Pamela Samuels-Lauro was reported missing from Garland County on June 3 and her truck was found near Sam's Throne a few days later. Authorities searched the area for weeks but never found Lauro.

"At this point we don't have an official identification on who this is," the sheriff said in a news release. "The skull will be submitted to the Medical Examiner's Office to try and obtain an identity or compare it to known missing person cases."

Wheeler said the skull was the only piece of remains found, but investigators will continue to search the area.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Put on Notice

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  Arkansas officials say they may consider revoking medical marijuana licenses for dispensaries that aren’t open by June.

Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control officials regulate the state's budding cannabis industry. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that that those officials say they could begin taking action against inoperable dispensaries at the end of January. But a necessary rule is still being drafted and won’t be ready by then.

Officials have said licenses may not be reissued when they are up for renewal in June.

Marijuana commissioners have expressed frustration at how long it is taking the 32 dispensaries in the state to open since being licensed this year. Only 11 are operating.

Attorney Alex Gray represents several dispensaries. He says cannabis companies have been weighing patient count, product supply and locations of other dispensaries.

Shipping Deadlines Loom

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  If you have some gifts to send across the country, there are some important deadlines to know.

Some of them are coming up in about two weeks!

If you’re going for standard ground delivery, get your packages to the post office by December 14.

UPS ground will need it one day sooner on December 13.

While FedEx gives you a little more time.

The deadline for the standard ground service is Monday, December 16.

If you’re a last-minute shopper, you’ll have to shell out more money.

The three major carriers will deliver next day air for packages sent on December 23.

But it will come at a premium price.

Razorbacks Looking at FAU Coach Kiffin

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  Arkansas could be closing in on a coaching hire after reportedly spending approximately four hours on Sunday meeting with Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin in Boca Raton.

Kiffin has coached FAU to a 9-3 mark and spot in the Conference USA Championship Game. If hired Kiffin would bring a vast amount of experience at various levels to Arkansas. 

He was head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2007-08 and then held same position at University of Tennessee in 2009. He left Knoxville after one year for USC where he coached from 2010-13. He was offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama from 2014-16 and coached the quarterbacks. He has been head coach at FAU since the 2017 season and compiled records of 11-3 in 2017 and 5-7 in 2018 before leading to the East title this season. They will play UAB on Saturday in the championship game. 

Kiffin is known for his development of quarterbacks and offensive mind.

Former Youth Minister Sentenced for Sexual Assault of Church Member

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  A former volunteer youth minister was sentenced to probation and jail time after admitting to sexually assaulting a 17-year-old church member.

Derek L. Smittle, 31, of Centerton pleaded guilty Monday to sexual assault. His plea was under an agreement his attorney, Drew Miller, reached with Tyler Williams, deputy prosecutor.

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green placed Smittle on 10 years probation and sentenced him to 119 days in the Benton County Jail. He also must pay $1,670 in court costs.

He will be required to register as a sex offender.

Smittle was a volunteer at First Baptist Centerton, according to court documents. Bentonville police began the investigation Jan. 9 after they received a report from the Arkansas State Police's child abuse hotline, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The girl told police that she and Smittle had been having a secret relationship for 15 months, but they didn't have sex until Oct. 11, 2018, according to the affidavit.

Benton County Deputy Cited for DWI, Then Tenders Resignation

  A Benton County deputy was cited for driving while intoxicated, according to Decatur Police.

On Monday, November 25, Tou Xiong was pulled over near 588 South Main (Decatur) at around 7 p.m. after calls that a black SUV was driving in a “reckless manor,” according to a police report.

Xiong’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.10. 

According to the report, Officer Steve Grizzle was dispatched after “several complaints” of Xiong’s driving. 

According to the report, Xiong said he was driving the way he was because he was on his phone, but Officer Grizzle said he “detected a intoxicating odor”. 

Officer Grizzle asked if he had been drinking and Xiong “put his head down, stating yes, he had a few,” according to the report. 

According to Sergeant Jenkins with the BCSO, Xiong has “tendered his resignation the following morning”.

Arkansas Gas Prices Up Slightly

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  While the national average fell nearly 2 cents last week, gas prices in Arkansas ticked up ever so slightly.

According to GasBuddy.com's daily survey of 1,826 stations, the price for a gallon of regular unleaded rose 0.3 cents in the last week to an average price of $2.29. That’s 17.1 cents higher than what Arkansas motorists paid last year.

The lowest price in the state as of Monday, Dec. 2, is $2.06/gallon, while the most expensive is $2.87/gallon, a difference of 81 cents per gallon.

Meanwhile, the national average fell 1.6 cents last week to an average of $2.58/gallon.

Despite the drop, motorists nationwide spent more to fill their tanks than they did in 2018.