KASU

Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A second Republican has launched a bid for Arkansas state land commissioner.

Alex Ray on Wednesday announced he's seeking the GOP nomination next year for the post currently held by John Thurston. Thurston, a Republican, is serving his second term and running for secretary of state next year.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri's top prosecutor says a sheriff participated in a jail altercation in which an inmate died and that he should be fired.

Attorney General Josh Hawley says in a news release that he filed a request in court Tuesday to remove Cory Hutcheson from his position as sheriff of Mississippi County.

Hawley says his office is investigating the inmate's death Friday. Details haven't been released.

An invasive beetle known for destroying ash trees has been discovered in three more Arkansas counties.

The Arkansas State Plant Board said Tuesday that the emerald ash borer has been discovered in Garland, Montgomery, and Pike counties in southwest Arkansas. The beetle has now been confirmed in 17 Arkansas counties and the board has established a quarantine in those counties and 16 counties adjacent to them that prohibits the movement of ash items including nursery stock and firewood in hopes of preventing the spread of the beetle.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee police say they have found an infant that was the subject of an Amber alert.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said 5-month-old Ayla Settles was taken early Tuesday "by force" from her home in Memphis by her non-custodial father, Alvin Lloyd.  The agency says she was found about six hours later and Lloyd has been arrested.

No additional details were immediately available.

Ten Republicans and six Democrats have been named to serve on a legislative task force that will recommend tax cuts before the 2019 session.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam and Senate President Jonathan Dismang on Monday named their appointees to the Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force, created as part of a $50 million income tax cut plan approved by lawmakers this year.

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — The final suspect charged in connection with the 2014 shooting deaths of Arkansas State football player Markel Owens and his stepfather Johnny Shivers has pleaded guilty.

The Jackson Sun reports (http://bit.ly/2qCPQam) 24-year-old Craig Taylor pleaded guilty Monday to accessory after the fact on charges of first-degree murder, felony murder, especially aggravated robbery and attempted first-degree murder.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — New school enrollment numbers will shake up the classifications used in Arkansas school activities.

The Arkansas Activities Association released school enrollment numbers for the 2018-2020 reclassification cycle on Tuesday. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2pwx9HK), Texarkana will drop down to Class 5A, while Sylvan Hills in Pulaski County will move up to Class 6A.

Pixabay

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Severe thunderstorms with possible tornadoes are forecast from the Plains states to the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Valley regions.

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Board of Health has unanimously approved rules that govern the issuance of marijuana-user registration cards, and the labeling and testing of the drug.

Robert Brech, the Department of Health's chief attorney, tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2ptmqy5) the department's staff made a few technical revisions since receiving board approval in January before submitting the final version of the rules Thursday.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say 54 cases of mumps have been confirmed among students at Southeast Missouri State University.

KFVS-TV (http://bit.ly/2oR3hD5) reports that there also are another 23 probable cases among students at the Cape Girardeau school. School leaders believe the peak of the mumps outbreak has passed, but expect to see more positive cases on campus and in the community. Students are being urged to receive a booster dose of the vaccine that protects against mumps, as well as measles and rubella.

Pixabay

Update 4/26/17 11:22 am:  The National Weather Service in Memphis has issued a Tornado Watch for all of Northeast Arkansas with the exception of Crittenden and Mississippi Counties until 5:00 pm today.

Pixabay

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a Memphis meat packer has recalled some ready-to-eat ham products due to possible bacterial contamination.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seems closely divided about whether an Alabama death row inmate should get a new sentencing hearing because he did not have a mental health expert on his side when he was tried and sentenced to death more than 30 years ago.

The court has ruled previously that poor defendants whose mental health might be a factor in the criminal charges they are facing have a right to an expert's evaluation. The justices on Monday took up a case about whether the expert must be independent of the prosecution.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has signed into law statewide regulations for ride-hailing companies including Uber and Lyft.

The governor signed the bill Monday at St. Charles Community College. It requires app-based companies to conduct driver background checks and pay a licensing fee.

The law will also exempt such companies from local and municipal taxes, require drivers to submit to background checks and to buy vehicle liability insurance.

Uber and Lyft say the law will allow them to expand throughout the state.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee local official has been arrested after police said he choked his girlfriend at a fast food restaurant.

Memphis police said Monday that Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford has been charged with aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

Police said Ford's girlfriend told officers he physically assaulted and choked her during an argument at a Church's Chicken on Sunday.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Residents of a Memphis neighborhood are being told to avoid approaching, detaining or feeding a black bear that's been roaming the area for two days.

Memphis police say officers are looking for the bear, which was seen by people in the Frayser neighborhood in north Memphis on Thursday and Friday.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials are leading the investigation into the bear's whereabouts. Frayser has woods that could attract the bear and allow it to avoid people as it moves through the area.

Arkansas State University

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas State University might be adding metal detectors at athletic events this fall.

The Jonesboro Sun (http://bit.ly/2pHgsHw) reports the preliminary discussions for the detectors comes after the approval of an act last month to allow concealed handguns at public colleges and universities.

Pixabay

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Health officials say the state's first human case of West Nile virus this year has been found in west Tennessee.

The health department in Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said Friday the virus was recently confirmed in a person who lives in the county. Officials did not identify the patient.

Officials said there were six human cases of the virus in Tennessee in 2016. One case was fatal.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is signaling that it'll rule for a Missouri church that wants state money to put a soft surface on its preschool playground.

The case is being argued before the justices Wednesday — and it's being closely watched by proponents of school vouchers.

Liberal and conservative justices alike seem troubled by Missouri's decision to exclude the church from a grant program that pays for playground surfaces made of recycled tires.

Pixabay

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — After two weeks of surveying farmers for its annual farm production forecasts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it expects Arkansas farmers to plant 500,000 acres of cotton, up from 375,000 last year.

Bill Robertson, a cotton agronomist with the University of Arkansas System's Agriculture Division, says he is surprised by the numbers. The division works with the department in gathering the estimates.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas health panel has recommended limiting coverage of opioid prescriptions in health plans that cover tens of thousands of state employees and teachers.

POCAHONTAS, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas community college has been placed on probation after a regional accrediting agency said it didn't meet three criteria related mostly to assessing student learning and could fail another five.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2nP9vUe) reports Black River Technical College must provide evidence to the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission that it's worked on the criteria by July 1, 2018. The Pocahontas community college must also host an on-site visit no later than September 2018.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states remains healthy, despite a slight slip in a monthly survey of business supply managers, an economist said in a report released Monday.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report said the overall economic index for the region dropped to 60.1 in March from 60.5 in February. It's the first index decline in five months.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen is expected to announce on Tuesday a new education plan that will emphasize more accountability, especially when it comes to teaching traditionally underserved kids.

The plan outlines how Tennessee will comply with a federal education law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two northern Arkansas school boards have temporarily ceased prayer before meetings.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2n3xYoE) reports Springdale and Harrison boards are researching the legality of the public prayers after receiving a letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin. The foundation monitors matters regarding separation of church and state.

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