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Biden Administration Proposes new Regulations on Lead Pipe
The Biden administration has proposed changes that would require drinking water pipes made with lead to be replaced in 10 years.Under the Environmental Protection Agency’s newly proposed “Lead and Copper Rule Improvements,” water systems would have to replace lead service lines in 10 years, with few exceptions. The proposal comes nearly a decade after the start of the Flint water crisis. About 99,000 Flint, Michigan, residents were exposed to lead after a 2014 water supply switch caused lead pipes to corrode and resulted in the substance leaching into the water. Exposure to lead can lead to damage in children’s brains and nervous systems. There are currently about 9.2 million lead pipes serving water to homes in the U.S. The EPA’s proposal would lower the level of lead in the water, and which systems are required to take action in the meantime. Currently, if 10 percent of water samples are found to have at least 15 parts per billion of lead, water systems need to take mitigation actions. The EPA’s proposal would drop that number down to 10 parts per billion. Compliance is expected to cost public water systems between $2.1 billion and $3.6 billion annually.
Could Be Headed South
In Canada an exploding population of hard-to-eradicate swine, being dubbed “super pigs” are threatening to spill south of the border, and some states are already taking steps to prevent the invasion. In Canada, the wild pigs roaming Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba posing a new threat. They are often crossbreeds that combine the survival skills of wild Eurasian boar with the size and high fertility of domestic swine to create these “super pigs” that are spreading out of control.Ryan Brook, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan told the associated press that these pigs are “the most invasive animal on the planet” and “an ecological train wreck.” Pigs are not native to North America. While they’ve roamed parts of the continent for centuries, Canada’s problem dates back only to the 1980s when it encouraged farmers to raise wild boar. The market collapsed after peaking in 2001 and some frustrated farmers simply cut their fences, setting the animals free. As it turns out, these pigs were very good at surviving Canadian winters. They now tear up land when they root for bugs and crops, spread devastating diseases to hog farms, and they reproduce quickly. So quickly, Brooks says 65% or more of a wild pig population could be killed every year and it will still increase. Wild pigs already cause around $2.5 billion in damage to U.S. crops every year, mostly in southern states.They can also be aggressive toward humans. Tragically, a woman in Texas was killed by wild pigs in 2019. While eradication of wild pigs is no longer possible in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the situation isn’t hopeless everywhere and a few U.S. states have been successful in eliminating them. The key, according to Brook, is having a detection system that finds them early and fast, and then responding quickly. Brook said, “Nobody should be surprised when pigs start walking across that border if they haven’t already. The question is: What will be done about it?” Feral swine have been reported in at least 35 states, according to the USDA. The agency estimates the swine population in those states totals around 6 million. Since launching the National Feral Swine Management Program in 2014, the USDA has provided funding to 33 states. The goal is to eradicate wild pigs where populations are low or emerging, and to limit thedamage where they’re already established.
AR Highway Commissioner Addresses Funding Challenges
When it comes to meeting the need for highway and bridge improvements in Arkansas, there's one limiting factor as old as time itself: cost. The ability to pay for maintenance on existing infrastructure - let alone the construction of new projects - has never kept up with the need to do so. Even Ancient Rome, often credited with creating the first publicly-funded road system, couldn't keep up.The prospect of being able to do so in Arkansas, now and into the future, isn't much brighter. Record-setting levels of inflation following the COVID-19 pandemic have burdened every Arkansan - including the planners behind the Arkansas Department of Transportation's goal of maintaining and improving the state's highway infrastructure. During an interview earlier this week, Arkansas Highway Commissioner David Haak discussed the simple but all-encompassing challenge posed by increasing costs in basic material. Haak represents the southern third of Arkansas - from the Ouachita Mountains to the Delta - and said the challenge is even more acute in his region: As an example, Haak described one example of a recent project estimate: to install a concrete culvert across a highway. The planner anticipated construction could reach as high as $1 million. That was to install a single concrete culvert on one small stretch of the more than 16,000 miles in the Arkansas Highway System: One recent development raising Haak's hopes is the decision by Arkansas voters in 2020 to make the state's 0.5 percent highway sales tax permanent. The tax would have expired this year had the measure not passed. Haak understands the political risk behind any tax increase - and the burden it can carry, particularly for business owners like himself - but adds that the tax was necessary to try and meet the growing infrastructure needs in Arkansas:It's important, however, to put into perspective how great the need for highway funding is in Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Transportation would need to set aside its entire budget for the next six years just to complete the 136 miles of I-49 between Fort Smith and Texarkana. And that's at current projected costs. That's again why Haak praises Arkansans for passing the permanent highway tax measure. As owner of First Tape & Seal in Texarkana, he sees daily how vital highway infrastructure is to the state's economy: Arkansans can learn more about the work Haak and the Arkansas Highway Commission do, as well as highway projects planned for across the state, by visiting www.ardot.gov
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November Quorum Court Report – Part 3
It was a busy Quorum Court Meeting last Tuesday, November 21st. Yesterday we covered the special speakers sponsored by Justices of the Peace. Today we discuss the old and new business on the Quorum Court’s Docket. There was one item listed as old business, which was an ordinance changing a job description for the Hot Check Coordinator at the Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, to that of Administrative Assistant. The Ordinance was passed unanimously by the JPs. As for new county business, there were multiple resolutions and appropriation ordinances presented. Some of these included grant approval for funds from the Department of Human Services, appropriations to reimburse the Carroll County Sheriffs Department, allowing more hours for part time employees at the Green Forest Library, and an internal line item transfer of funds at the Carroll County Road Department. There were also several first readings of ordinances. A couple ordinances were passed in an effort to streamline county government processes. JP Jack Deaton commented these ordinances would codify procedures that are already in place to help keep auditors off the back of the county. The Quorum Court approved a new position in Circuit Judge Scott Jackson’s office. The position will be funded entirely through secured grant money. Another ordinance was passed that will continue to support the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District, which helps the county secure grant monies. The 2024 budget was also approved by the court in its first reading. In perhaps the most controversial item of business, a moratorium that would prohibit the building of any commercial wind or solar facilities for at least a year was presented. The ordinance was sponsored by two JPs, Bruce Wright and Kellie Matt. Several JPs were involved in discussion of the ordinance, and the majority of comments were quite critical of the moratorium’s language. JP Deaton expressed his opposition to the wind farm, but said the moratorium opens the Quorum Court to charges from a group that is already threatening the court: JP Jerry King also has reservations about the wind farm, but did not believe the moratorium was in the county’s best interest: JP Harrie Farrow asked the Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney, Tony Rogers, what would happen if the county faced a lawsuit from Scout Energy: JP Farrow went on to say that while she appreciated the county attorney’s input, she wouldn’t be intimidated by large companies nor the reality of the situation: The moratorium was subsequently defeated with only three JPs, Farrow, Matt and Wright, voting in favor of the proposal. I reached out to the sponsors of the moratorium for comment. JP Wright said he was disappointed it didn’t pass. JP Wright also said he didn’t know exactly who wrote the ordinance, saying that JP Matt would have those details. JP Matt said she believes it was a mistake not to pass the moratorium, and expressed her disappointment as well. As for the origin of the ordinance, JP Matt says it was rewritten by Attorney Matt Bishop, the attorney for a group opposed to the wind farm. She said she agreed to sponsor it only after Mr. Bishop had looked at it. JP Matt went on to say that, “I am not so much in favor of zoning...” but calls the issue a double edged sword. The last discussion of the meeting was in regard to building a new courtroom. JP Howerton discussed the possibility of buying the building at 926 W. Trimble in Berryville, which currently houses Dollar Tree, Tyson Offices and other local businesses. The plan would be to buy the building then begin renovations as funds came in from the leases with the current tenants. Over time the building would have ample space to house the county offices. The cost of the building was around $80 per square foot plus remodel costs, versus approximately $700 per square foot to build a new building. JP Craig Hicks commended County Judge David Writer for working hard to present options to better accommodate county offices, but did say that his concern with the building in question was security in that highly populated area. The JPs plan to speak with constituents to get better input on these options. After this discussion, the meeting moved to JP comments, which were brief, followed by Judge’s comments, which detailed the disposal of obsolete computers, and purchase of new desks in the Circuit Clerk’s Office. The Quorum court was then adjourned
with a unanimous vote.
NWA Doc Facing Felony Charges from AG
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin officially charged Brian Hyatt on Wednesday, according to a news release. The release said, “These charges stem from crimes that occurred between January 1 and April 29, 2022, at Northwest Medical Center-Springdale. During that time, Hyatt made fraudulent Medicaid claims in excess of $300,000. Class A felonies are punishable by six to 30 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.” Hyatt was arrested on October 9 after a warrant was filed and appeared in Pulaski County District Court on October 19. AG Griffin said,“Prosecution of Medicaid fraud in Arkansas is the responsibility of my office, and I take that responsibility seriously.”
Capitol Lighting Scheduled for This Weekend
The Christmas season is here, meaning it's almost time to celebrate with an Arkansas tradition that dates back to the 1930s. The 2023 Arkansas State Capitol lighting ceremony is set to bring holiday cheer this Saturday, December 2, at 5:30 p.m. The continuing tradition is a celebration that brings the community together for a night of festivity, joy, and celebrating the spirit of giving. Secretary of State John Thurston will lead the 85th anniversary of the ceremony to continue the legacy that began decades ago. After the lighting ceremony, there will be a fireworks show lighting up the sky, and which point guests will have an opportunity to go inside the Capitol to see the stunning Christmas decorations. Santa Claus will also be in attendance and ready to meet with guests. This ceremony is a family-friendly event
that is open to the public.
November Quorum Court Report – Part 2
Yesterday we covered the public comments portion of the Carroll County Quorum Court meeting from last Tuesday, November 21st. Today we will continue with the Quorum Court Report. After heated discussion during public comments, the meeting moved forward with speakers who had been sponsored by Justices of the Peace. The first to speak was Bob Wilson, who was sponsored by JP Bruce Wright. Mr. Wilson presented a slideshow detailing his concerns over the proposed wind farm Scout Energy has planned south of Green Forest. Wilson called the wind turbines a Trojan horse, saying the only reason they were being built was for tax credits from the Federal Government. He claims there are no regulations on the project and that it has all been kept secret. Wilson says that one eagle being harmed by the project is too many. JP John Howerton pointed out that Mr. Wilson was concerned about Scout Energy using “deceptive practices.” JP Howerton went on to say that Wilson’s slide show pictured ridges he claimed would be filled with the turbines. According to JP Howerton, those photographs were taken looking in the opposite direction of where the turbines are proposed to be built, which he says gave Wilson no room to talk about deceptive practices. This led to an argument from Mr. Wilson who said he did not believe the photographs were misleading. The next sponsored speaker was Peyton Smith, a High School Student from Berryville. Mr. Smith was sponsored by JP Hunter Rivett, and spoke about the value of sports for area youth. Smith stated that as local sports thrived, it brought the community closer together. Smith went on to say that he would like to see “elite” sports teams formed in Carroll County so that families wouldn’t have to travel as far to participate. JP Jack Deaton expressed agreement with the importance of local sports and the value it adds to the community. JP Harrie Farrow questioned Smith as to where the funds would come from to support such a program in the county. Other JPs interjected that parents typically cover the costs of the teams. After Mr. Smith spoke the meeting moved forward to address old and new county business. We will cover this portion of the
meeting in tomorrow’s news brief.
New Website to Assist Local Grocers
As more and more people flock to online grocery shopping some smaller retailers have found it more difficult to keep up, especially with those shoppers using SNAP benefits. For this reason, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has announced the SNAP EBT Modernization Technical Assistance Center, also known as SEMTAC, which they say will be valuable resource to help retailers get set up for SNAP online purchasing. Powered by a cooperative grant agreement with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, the National Grocers Association Foundation is launching a new website designed to provide comprehensive supportto retailers navigating the complexities of SNAP online purchasing. In October 2023, nearly 3.9 million SNAP households shopped for groceries online, underlining the demand for this option and the importance of inclusivity in grocery shopping options. By embracing SNAP online purchasing, retailers can become a hub for accessible and secure grocery shopping. Small stores are the backbone of communities nationwide, offering local employment opportunities and vital resources. But these stores often encounter technical hurdles and resource limitations when trying to meet SNAP requirements for online purchasing. According to a recent press release, the goal of this new website is to empower businesses, ensuring a smooth application process and system setup to enhance online grocery shopping options for SNAP participants. FNS says the new website will guide retailers through the necessary steps, providing advice, order of operations, and technical expertise. FNS says that they hope to create a seamless online grocery shopping experience for SNAP participants, to
foster healthier, more inclusive communities.
AR Abortion Amendment
Rejected by Attorney General
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has rejected the ballot title and language for a proposed amendment to the state constitution that seeks to restore abortion access in Arkansas. In an opinion issued by Griffin’s office, the language and technical details of the ballot proposal were ambiguous. The opinion cites a lack of clarity, which could lead to confusion about the law moving forward. A second component of the ballot title was intended to restrict the state legislature in passing laws restricting abortion access was also deemed unclear according to the opinion. AG Griffin also says the name of the proposal, “The Arkansas Reproductive Healthcare Amendment,” is “tinged with partisan coloring.” The ballot language also failed to describe its impact on existing laws, including Constitutional Amendment 68. That amendment was created in 1988 and states that “The policy of Arkansas is to protect the life of every unborn child from conception until birth, to the extent
permitted by the Federal Constitution.”
Berryville Library Close
to Ground Breaking for New Building
Yesterday during the National Day of Giving, The Friends of the Berryville Library held a telethon here on KTHS. The Library is needing to raise 300,000 dollars by the end of the calendar year. If they can meet this goal Library Director Julie Hall says they will be able to break ground on their new facility ion 2024. In an impressive show of support from the community, donations during the four hour telethon totaled $91,975. That combined with donations from earlier this month bring their total to $142,475, nearly half of their goal. The new library facility will triple the current space they occupy, which Hall says will allow them to provide even more resources to the area. Hall says donations of any size are welcome; no amount is too big or too small. The Berryville Library extends its gratitude for the outpouring of support for the new library project, and says if you would like to help them reach their goal by the there is still time to donate. To donate, stop by the
Berryville Library or call 870-654-6565.
(Photo Credit : Berryville Public Library)
November Quorum Court Report – Part 1
The Carroll County Quorum Court had their regular monthly meeting last Tuesday, November 21st, and was presented with a long list of ordinances and resolutions that required the courts attention. The meeting was once again a lengthy one, with a number of somewhat heated discussions. As the meeting was called to order, all Justice’s of the Peace were present, and the meeting quickly moved through the disposition of journal proceedings and committee report sections of the large agenda. JP John Howerton motioned to make a change to the agenda, wishing to add discussion on a new courtroom and Judicial Building for the county. The addition was made without dissent from other JPs. After the addition to the agenda, the meeting moved to the public comment section. Carroll County Judge David Writer advised he was going to allow six people to speak during the public comments section in an effort to be respectful of time due to the lengthy list of new business and other items on the agenda. To no one's surprise the public comments were once again dominated by discussion of the proposed wind farm project south of Green Forest planned by Scout Clean Energy. Former County Judge Richard Williams, who has been a vocal critic of the project as well as the quorum court, was the first recognized by Judge Writer to speak. Williams introduced himself then said he had invited Ed Maynor to the meeting, saying Mr. Maynor authored the Carroll County Land Use Ordinance. Williams also stated that this land use ordinance would not allow zoning in Carroll County, and stated that Arkansas Right to Farm Law would protect farmers from any legislation passed on wind turbines. Williams then wished to yield the remainder of his time to Ed Maynor, but Judge Writer interjected that Mr. Maynor would be allotted 3 minutes for comment. Judge Writer said that Williams could use the remainder of his time if he wished but it would not be transferred to another speaker. Mr. Williams seemed taken aback by this, but opted not to use the remainder of his time. The next to speak was Matt Bishop, a lawyer hired by those opposed to the wind farm. Mr. Bishop alleged that Scout Energy has engaged in deceptive tactics to try to stop action against their project. Mr. Bishop explained that his time was very expensive especially once litigation begins. He went on to say that fighting a huge company like Scout Energy would take a lot of time and be a very costly battle. Ed Maynor was then recognized by Judge Writer. Maynor said he had been asked a lot of questions about the land plan he helped write for the county. He said the plan was put in place to protect property rights and protect the environment in the county. Maynor went on to say that the average citizen doesn’t have the resources to fight large companies such as Scout Energy, and that the land plan gives the County Government the right to fight these large companies on behalf of its citizens. After Mr. Maynor spoke, Scout Clean Energy Representative Mark Wengierski was recognized. Wengierski stated that the company had entered into voluntary contracts with private citizens. He touted the tax revenue the county would receive, as well as the lease payments that will be received by the property owners. He said wind companies are no stranger to Carroll County, and that they had first come to the area in the early 2000s. Wengierski went on to say that Scout Energy started moving forward with plans to build the wind farm in 2016. Several JPs were critical of Wengierski, citing their distrust of the company. JP Jack Deaton expressed his frustrations over their response to a setback ordinance he had introduced earlier this year. JP Deaton said they blew the ordinance out of proportion by claiming it was zoning. Wengierski was also hounded by JP Harrie Farrow, leading to a heated exchange. Mr. Wengierski stated that many of the property owners who had entered contracts with the company were present and asked that they be allowed to speak on behalf of the project. Judge Writer expressed displeasure with Wengierski’s suggestion saying these landowners had months to speak out on their views, but had remained silent while the quorum court took the heat over the proposed wind farm. Judge Writer said he was allowing six public comments for the evening, which left two remaining comments if the land owners wished to speak. Truman Stark was the next to address the court. Mr. Stark said he did not want the quorum court telling him what he can and can’t do on his land. He said the concerns that have been raised about environmental impacts were already regulated by the EPA. Stark went on to say that he didn’t believe there was anyone in the quorum court qualified to conduct the kinds of environmental studies the opposition wanted conducted, meaning they would have to pay to have it done. He alleged this would cost the county and its taxpayers a huge amount of money to complete because the independent researchers would see the county as “new meat”. JP Farrow asked Stark what he was referring to when he said the EPA already had regulation in place for the impact of the turbines. Mr. Stark said EPA regulations were publicly available and covered health welfare and safety of the environment. Stark suggested that JP Farrow should read them, or have them read to her. Arturo Cavillo was next to speak in support of the wind farm. Cavillo pointed out that many counties in the state would welcome the wind farm and the revenue it would bring. He also said he had already received a payment from Scout Energy. Money he says he used to pay his property taxes this past October. After Mr Cavillo spoke, Judge Writer was asked by JP Farrow to allow more comments from those who wished to speak on a different topic. Judge Writer agreed to allow two more to speak. The next person recognized was Anna Matthews who brought up concerns over Spring Valley Road. When concerns were raised over the legality of the County Road Department rebuilding the road, Matthews replied that she wasn’t concerned about the legalities. She insisted that the county act to fix the road. JP Craig Hicks said that even if the road had been maintained by the county in the past, it doesn’t mean it had the legal right to do so. Eric Scheunemann was recognized to give the final public comment of the night. Scheunemann also raised concerns over Spring Valley Road saying that he had a map from 1971 that showed Spring Valley as a county road. He went on to accuse the Judge of purposefully misleading people as to the status of the road, despite proof to the contrary. During back and forth with JPs, Scheunemann continued to attack the Judge for not maintaining the road as he had requested. At this point, Judge Writer told Scheunemann to be seated. Scheunemann then seemed to become argumentative with the Judge, but for only a brief moment, as the Judge ordered Scheunemann to leave the courtroom. Judge Writer later said he has spoken with Scheunemann on numerous occasions about the road. Judge Writer stated he can’t go by a map from 1971, saying that many things have changed since then. The Judge says that according to documentation in the Carroll County Courthouse Spring Valley Road is not a county road but a public road, at least to a point. Judge Writer says that according to courthouse documents, the road becomes private at Schenemann’s driveway. He also says he is unsure which past Judge made the portion of Spring Valley Road a public road, saying he has tried to find records indicating the designation. Judge Writer says this is just one example of issues in the road system he believes has been caused by the “good ol’ boy system.” Judge Writer says that as long he is in office, the days of that good ol’ boy system are gone. Judge Writer went on to say he will not give in and risk breaking the law regardless of the pressure to become lawless. We will continue with the Quorum Court
report in tomorrow’s news brief.
Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Cantaloupe
Center for Disease Control has issued a food safety alert due to a Salmonella infection outbreak which has led to 99 counts of sickness, including one in Arkansas.The alert shows that the outbreak has been linked to cantaloupes and pre-cut fruit products that are under recall. CDC officials released a report on November 17 that 43 people in 15 states had been infected in the outbreak. However new information was released inFriday’s report, showing an additional 56 people infected in an additional 17 states. This creates a total case count of 99 people in 32 states. Several brands of whole and pre-cut cantaloupes and pre-cut fruit have been recalled. They include Malichita brand whole cantaloupe, Vinyard brand pre-cut cantaloupe and ALDI whole cantaloupe and pre-cut fruit products. Additional brands of whole and pre-cut cantaloupe products that have been recalled include Rudy brand whole cantaloupes, Freshness Guaranteed brand, and RaceTrac brand pre-cut cantaloupes. Consumers who have the products in their homes should throw them away. For more information, you can find the entire
alert regarding the outbreak at CDC.gov.
Grants Aim to Improve Health in AR
An Arkansas charitable foundation is awarding $3.3 million to groups across the state aiming to improve the health and well-being of Natural State residents. The series of 32 grants was announced Monday by the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas. Grant sizes ranged from $12,000 to $200,000, and were made to schools, nonprofit organizations and municipal organizations. Grant categories address maternal and pediatric health, behavioral health and social determinants of health. Programs funded include those supporting pregnancy and pediatric care, affordable housing, addiction and mental health counseling and health-related community outreach. Blue & You is a charity Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield founded 22 years ago in an effort to improve health across the state. Blue Cross & Blue Shield also funds this charity, awarding more than $62 million since its founding.
Weekend Arrest Reports:
JUAN ARAUJO-GOMEZ, 32 SPRINGDALE – DWI (2 ND )JOSHUA COLLINS, 44, EUREKA SPRINGS – DWI, HEADLIGHTS REQUIRED, NO LIABILITY NSURANCE, FAILURE TO PAY REGISTRATIONTIMOTHY DALE, 51, HARRISON – FAILURE TO APPEARALAURA DELCOMBRE, 28, COMMERCE TX
– FAILURE TO APPEAR, CONTEMPT OF COURTDONALD GRANADOS-DELGADO, 41, BERRYVILLE – IDENTITY THEFTBRAD JOHNSON, EUREKA SPRINGS – FAILURE TO PAY REGISTRATION, POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE,
POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIACLANSY LATDRIK, 36, GREEN FOREST – DWIBRENDAN MATTHEWS, 32, BERRYVILLE
– REVOCATION, FAILURE TO APPEARJUSTIN MINTON, 36, EUREKA SPRINGS
– DWI, EXPIRED VEHICLE LICENSETHOMAS RANDLESS, 36, BERRYVILLE – DWI, REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO CHEMICAL TEST, DRIVING LEFT OF CENTER, CARELESS AND PROHIBITED DRIVING, DRIVING VEHICLE IN UNSAFE CONDITIONNICOLAS RAPP, 26, OMAHA – FAILURE TO APPEARCHAD WALKER, 55, BELLA VISTA - FAILURE TO APPEARBOBBY BAXTER, 43, BERRYVILLE – TERRORISTIC THREATENINGDEREK HANSEN, 38, OAK GROVE – FELONY FLEEING, NO MOTORCYCLE ENDORSEMENT, NO VEHICLE LICENSEMICHELLE HUERTA, 56, HARRISON – FAILURE TO APPEARNYEE NYEE, 40, GREEN FOREST – DOMESTIC BATTERY 3 RD DEGREEDANIEL SVITAK, 29, GREEN FOREST
– REVOCATION, FAILURE TO APPEARCARSON TANISEN, 42, SPRINGDALE – HOLD FOR OTHER AGENCYDANIEL AMAYA-MUSTO, 46, BERRYVILLE – FAILURE TO APPEARADELA AVILA, 22, GREEN FOREST
– COURT COMMIT, FAILURE TO APPEARADRYAN CHAFFIN, 18, HOLIDAY ISLAND – FAILURE TO APPEARENRIQUE GARCIA-HERNANDEZ, 24, BLUE EYE – FAILURE TO APPEAR, HOLD FOR OTHER AGENCY, AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON FIRST REPONDERJAMES GYLES, 65, BERRYVILLE – DRIVING LEFT OF CENTER, DWIJASON HENRY, 45, BERRYVILLE – COURT COMMITJUSTIN MCCALISTER, 45, ROGERS – FAILURE TO APPEARFRANK MORALES, 62, GOLDEN MO – COURT COMMITKENNETH OWENS, 35, GREEN FOREST – COURT COMMITASHLEY BERRY, 24, BERRYVILLE – HOLD FOR OTHER AGENCYNOLVERTO CASTILLO, 62, BERRYVILLE – DWI, REFUSAL TO SUBMIT
TO CHEMICAL TEST, NO DRIVERS LICENSEJOSE GONZALES, 30, GREEN FOREST – COURT COMMITMARC HOWARD, 49, FAYETTEVILLE
– POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, POSSESSION
OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA, HOLD FOR OTHER AGENCYBENJAMIN MILLER, 36, BERRYVILLE
– DRIVING ON SUSPENDED LICENSE DUE TO DWIMARIO TOSCANO, 56, BERRYVILLE – COURT COMMIT
AR Hunters Feed Hungry
Arkansas’ modern gun deer season kicked off this month and one statewide organization is reminding hunters in Arkansas how they can join the fight against food insecurity. Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry helps families in need by providing food pantries with fresh protein sourced right here in Arkansas' deer woods. The group's mission is to transform a renewable resource into food for the hungry according to the organization’s President Ronnie Ritter. And more hunters are needed to meet what organizers say is a growing need:
Deer can be dropped off at any participating facility, processed and then picked up by the organization and distributed to local food pantries. There is no cost to the hunter: All donated meat is distributed free and is usually donated to food pantries in the same county. It is served at churches, children's shelters, rescue missions and community food banks. Ritter said he works with many feeding agencies across the state and the number one commodity they need is protein:
Ritter hopes to encourage more hunters in Arkansas to consider donating one or more of their legally harvested deer to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. He particularly addressed those hunters who aren't always interested in filling all their tags. Ritter added that hunters can help in another important way:
by donating a few dollars to the organization when they purchase their hunting or fishing license: Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry has provided more than four million servings of meat for food pantries across the state since its founding in 2000. The group, he said, has received generous financial support over the years in its mission to transform an abundant white-tailed deer population into a renewable food source for the hungry. For more information on Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, and to find out how to join the fight against food insecurity, visit www.arkansashunters.org or call (501) 282-0006.
Why We Enjoy the Thrill of the Scare
Halloween is far behind us, but one element of the holiday sticks with us year-round: the enjoyment of the safe scare. Roller coasters. Scary movies. Bungee jumping. Why do we like the things that scare us? One researcher at the University of Arkansas, Dr. Brittany Schrick, believes she has it figured out: Schrick says, at the bottom of it all, is biology:
Endorphins are hormones that can give us a sense of well-being.That rush of fear followed by a sense of relief has social effects as well, Schrick said: However, the tolerance for “fun fear”
isn’t the same for everyone:
Schrick said that some people seem to have a higher threshold for risk taking than others, and it often shows up at an early age. They are the ones likely to look for thrilling activities because they like how they feel being on the edge of safety. And, interestingly, the fun of the “safe scare” often starts with infants: So why not be scared sometimes
when we know everything will end up OK?
AR National Guardsmen Head to Romania
Members of the Arkansas National Guard gathered at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock in preparation for deployment. Thirty-five Guardsmen of the 216 Military Police Company will be deployed to Romania, where they will conduct law enforcement duties on a military installation, including customs duties for American military members arriving from other countries, ensuring no contraband or prohibited items slip through the checkpoints. The Guardsmen were given a pass to spend Thanksgiving with their families and will depart for their mobilization station at Fort Bliss, Texas, November 27th. The 216th was created as a field artillery battery in West Memphis in the 1950s. It converted to a military police company in 2000 and moved to North Little Rock in 2009. Maj. Gen. Jonathan Stubbs said, “This unit has a proud history of service. This deployment will only add to the unit’s legacy and rich history. These Guardsmen know that we’ll be here to support their families left behind. We’ve been blessed with robust resources to assist, guide, and help their loved ones while they’re
away doing the nation’s business.”
Congressman Womack Highlights
NASA Operations in Antarctica
Congressman Steve Womack made his way to a research station in Antarctica just before Thanksgiving. During the trip he Highlighted the work that NASA is doing there using 3 million dollar balloons, which, believe it or not, is a money saving option compared to other ways to conduct their research:
Expert: Antarctica Has Major Impact on Entire World. During his recent trip to Antarctica, Congressman Steve Womack highlighted the impacts Antarctica has on all of us across the globe. In a special Comment form the Capitol, the congressman spoke to a researcher who says monitoring glaciers is important so they can predict the effects melting may have on coastlines:
AR and MO Among Top 10 Safest States for Cyclists
New data shows that Arkansas and Missouri are considered safe states for cyclists. The study conducted by The Fitch Law Firm looked at data from the National Highway Traffic Administration from 2017 to 2021 to find the areas with the lowest cyclist fatalities. Missouri was ranked 7th with 40 bicycle fatalities and Arkansas ranked 10th with 27 fatalities over the five-year period. South Dakota was found to be the safest state for cyclists followed by Wyoming and Vermont. While the deadliest state is Florida, according to the study:
Arrest Reports: 11/22
CHARLES DONALDSON, 43, GREEN FOREST – FAILURE TO APPEARCAHEN DOWD, 23, HOLIDAY ISLAND
– TERRORISTIC THREATENING, FAILURE TO APPEARURIAH SMITH, 29, SEARCY – CONTEMPT OF COURT
Berryville Friends of the
Library to Hold Telethon
The Berryville Friends of the Library are getting closer and closer to reaching their funding goal to begin building their new facility. Berryville Library Director Julie Hall and Board Member Joe Scott recently sat down for an interview about the new facilities. Director Hall says they are excited about the prospects of breaking ground on the new building, and while they are still somewhat short of the money needed to make that happen, they have an exciting opportunity to reach their goal:
Joe Scott says that the old library has served its purpose, but the building has been outgrown. He says the new Library will have plenty of space to serve the community moving forward: The Library will hold a Telethon on this station, and hopes to secure all the funds needed to move forward with the project. Director Hall says they are
excited about the opportunity:
We will have more on the Friends of the Berryville Library Telethon in tomorrow’s news.
Tips to Prevent Porch Pirates
With Christmas fast approaching, folk are busy gathering gifts for loved ones. In recent years, much of that shopping has shifted to an online setting, which often leads to a seasonal spike in theft of those delivered packages. Police Departments are giving some tips on helping to prevent porch pirates from ruining the holiday spirit at your household. Local authorities say it’s an easy crime that thieves take advantage of this season of giving, and that often it’s too late to recover the packages by the time the crime is reported. It is best to be ahead of the game this time of year by checking cameras, doorbells with cameras, and motion detectors, which are often the biggest tool in catching porch pirates. Many in the security field call Ring doorbells, Nest cameras and the like “revolutionary” in not only catching, but deterring those pesky thieves. Green Forest Police Chief John Bailey says cameras are becoming more and more affordable. He went on to say that he is seeing more and more houses installing these types cameras and security systems. Chief Bailey says not only does it help deter and catch porch pirates during the holidays, but can also help solve other crimes year round. Berryville Police Chief Robert Bartos says there are additional approaches to help prevent these types of thefts, such as having packages delivered to your place of work, and when possible requiring a signature upon delivery. While Chiefs Bartos and Bailey say they haven’t seen a huge problem this year with porch pirates, they urge shoppers to be more alert when shopping both online and on Black Friday. If you should fall victim to package theft, be sure to report the crime, letting officers know what was in the package and if this is a recurring situation.
Body Found in Ashes of Marion Co Fire
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the death of a man who died in a fire. Firefighters in the Oakland community responded to the fire on Saturday night near State Highway 202 after a concerned neighbor reported the out-of-control fire. The fire burned out buildings along with multiple acres of the property. The Oakland Volunteer Fire Department returned to the property on Sunday morning and located the man’s body. The Arkansas State Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting an autopsy to determine the manner of death.
Arrest Reports: 11/21
JOEL MCLEAN, 21, GREEN FOREST - THEFT
Panel Rejects Redistricting Challenge
A federal appeals court rejected a push to appeal an earlier decision on an Arkansas redistricting case on Monday. The ruling will possibly set new legal precedent under the Voting Rights Act. The 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision from 2022 that the Voting Rights Act does not permit private lawsuits about districting. This strikes down the suit brought by the Arkansas State Conference NAACP and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel about voting districts. The court says private citizens and civil rights groups can’t sue under the Voting Rights Act. In dismissing the case, the court held that only the United States Attorney General could bring a court case about districting. Circuit Judge David Stras wrote for the majority, “But assuming their existence, and even discussing them, is different from actually deciding that a private right of action exists,” In his dissenting opinion, Chief Judge Lavenski Smith, argued he would follow existing precedents that allows citizens to seek judicial action until the court rules or Congress amends the statute, saying, “While that private right has been called into question by two Supreme Court justices the Supreme Court has yet to overrule itself on that precise issue.” Reactions for and against the ruling came quickly. Barry Jefferson, president of the Arkansas NAACP, issued a strongly-worded statement, calling the decision “devastating,” saying it strips individuals of the right to sue under the Voting Rights Act. Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin issued a statement supporting the court’s decision and pointing out its potential historical implications, saying, “Today, the Eighth Circuit became the first federal court of appeals to make clear that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is not privately enforceable,” he went on to say, “This is a victory for our citizens and for the rule of law.” An ACLU of Arkansas spokesperson said the group is discussing all of the ways they can fight what they are calling an “injustice.”
AR Sheriff Faces Additional Charges
Hot Spring County Sheriff Scott Finkbeiner is facing additional federal charges in a new indictment from November 15th. This indictment asserts the sheriff worked to obstruct a grand jury proceeding, that he interfered with an FBI investigation to protect an alleged drug dealer, and that he worked to protect a drug house from federal investigation. Count one of the new indictment is tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant/obstruction of justice, and counts two and three are misprision, or deliberately hiding knowledge of, a felony. Finkbeiner is currently free on bond after a hearing earlier this month where he was charged with obstructing a federal investigation. That indictment and this additional indictment were filed in the Western District of Arkansas federal court and are related investigations. The indictment says that beginning in April, the judicial district’s Group 6 Narcotics Enforcement Unit was working with a confidential informant conducting drug purchases from an unnamed man at his home in Hot Springs County. In May, the informant was at the house with the alleged drug dealer when Finkbeiner allegedly arrived and spoke with them. While there, the informant was given drugs by the Sheriff which are “believed to be methamphetamine,” according to the indictment. The indictment goes on to say the informant and Finkbeiner then “consumed a controlled substance, believed to be methamphetamine.” The indictment also alleges that at the same meeting, Finkbeiner paid the informant to have sex with him. Also in May, the FBI began its investigation using the same informant. The informant made another purchase from the alleged dealer in the same house while Finkbeiner was present. In light of this, the FBI set up a surveillance camera near the home. According to the indictment, Finkbeiner tried to persuade the FBI to end its investigation and remove its camera because the man in the drug house the informant had bought drugs from was an informant for him. The person was not a drug dealer, according to Finkbeiner’s statement to the FBI. After the original charge, Hot Spring County Quorum Court voted to disallow Finkbeiner from driving any county vehicles and required him to take a weekly drug test. The sheriff’s department is currently headed by its chief deputy. In a Facebook post, Finkbeiner insisted he
had not obstructed justice in any way.
USDA Updates Plant Hardiness Map
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map last week, updating the tool for gardeners and researchers for the first time since 2012. USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at their location. The new map—jointly developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service and Oregon State University's PRISM Climate Group—is more accurate and contains greater detail than prior Versions. The new map is available online at https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/. In addition to the map updates, the Plant Hardiness Zone Map website was expanded this year to include a “Tips for Growers” section, which provides information about USDA ARS research programs of interest to gardeners and others who grow and breed plants. The 2023 map is based on 30-year averages of the lowest annual winter temperatures at specific locations, and is divided into 10-degree Fahrenheit zones and further divided into 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zones. Like the 2012 map, the 2023 web version offers a Geographic Information System-based interactive format and is specifically designed to be user-friendly. Notably, the 2023 map delivers several new, significant features and advances. The 2023 map incorporates data from 13,412 weather stations, nearly doubling the 7,983 that were used for the 2012 map. Approximately 80 million American gardeners and growers represent the most frequent users of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. However, they’re not the only ones with a need for this hardiness information. For example, the USDA Risk Management Agency refers to the map’s plant hardiness zone designations to set certain crop insurance standards. Additionally, scientists incorporate the plant hardiness zones as a data layer in many research models, such as those modeling the spread of exotic weeds and insects. As with the 2012 map, the new version has 13 zones across the United States and its territories. Each zone is broken into half zones, designated as “A” and “B.” When compared to the 2012 map, the 2023version reveals that about half of the country shifted to the next warmer half zone, and the other half of the country remained in
the same half zone.