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David Monteith / KUAR

David Monteith is a reporter for KUAR news.

Making communities in Arkansas more successful when competing with other states for industries and jobs is the goal of a new program announced Monday by Governor Asa Hutchinson.

The “Competitive Communities Initiative” is an evaluation process developed by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. It’s intended to help cities identify assets that companies look for when selecting new host sites. Governor Hutchinson spoke to over 100 city leaders at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock about the need for the initiative.

A movement started by civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr is seeing new life in Arkansas, and around the country, 50 years after his death.

According to organizers, the Poor People’s Campaign is “a national call for a moral revival.” Faith leaders from across the state gathered at the Arkansas Capitol to announce the goals of the campaign.

Starting Tuesday history of women’s undergarments will be on display in Little Rock at the nation’s only purse museum.

ESSE Purse Museum’s newest exhibit, Exposed, features what the museum refers to as women’s “unmentionables” from the 1900s to the 1960s.

“We really try and stick with things that can be connected to women and can tell the history of women in a unique way,” said Ally Weaver, the museum’s director.

Conditions in Arkansas are still dangerously dry despite rainfall over the weekend.

Much of the western half of the state is under threat of wildfires with 58 of the state’s 75 counties still under active burn bans as of Monday. That number is down from a high of 70 late last week.

Friday marks the end of the enrollment period for people seeking insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

What was once a three month sign up period was shortened to 45 days under the Trump administration. Jim McDonald, executive director of Enroll the Ridge in Jonesboro, said the decreased timeframe changed the approach of the Arkansas’s navigators who help people sign up for insurance.

Before the start of the next school year, Arkansas may be among the few states providing high-speed internet access to all of its public school districts.

In the 1990’s Arkansas developed a system for providing internet access to schools, but its capabilities were limited and it became outdated quickly. Now, fiber optic cables running throughout the state have replaced the old infrastructure and currently reach 233 of the state’s 238 school districts. The updated system, known as the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN) will increase access speeds from 5 kilobits per student to 200 kilobits per student.

Each month, Arkansas Works, the state’s Medicaid expansion program which provides health coverage for low income residents, refers new and renewed enrollees in the program to the Department of Workforce Services. The Arkansas Department of Human Services issued a report Monday on the number of enrollees referred to employment services this year. 

In the first quarter of the year 144,716 referrals were made. According to the report from DHS, the number of people actually acting on those referrals rose from 628 in January to 2,792 in April.

Business leaders from across Arkansas will join with community leaders from the Delta Friday to develop strategies for improving the impoverished region. Simmons Bank, based in Pine Bluff, is sponsoring the second annual conference, “The Arkansas Delta: Why It Still Matters.”

Another concern is being raised about legislation that would require public universities and colleges in Arkansas to allow licensed faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns on campus.

John Pijanowski, chair of the campus faculty senate at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, believes the campus carry bill could be in conflict with existing laws regarding guns in churches.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is scheduled to proclaim February 7 as “Women’s Primary Suffrage Centennial Day” during an event Tuesday at the state Capitol.

One hundred years ago Arkansas lawmakers introduced legislation allowing women to vote in primary elections. Kathleen Pate, president of the non-profit Arkansas Women’s History Institute, says Arkansas was the first non-suffrage state to enact such a law, which, while progressive for its time, was still limited.

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