KASU

David Monteith / KUAR

David Monteith is a reporter for KUAR news.

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Arkansas developed a system for providing internet access to schools, but its capabilities were limited and it became outdated quickly.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.

The coldest temperatures of the year in Arkansas are expected to arrive later this week.

Meteorologist Jeff Hood with the National Weather Service said the temperatures, which have already been unseasonably low, are expected to drop even lower. Rain is expected for much of the state, but no significant snowfall is anticipated.

Students in four Arkansas school districts could help shape the future of medicine in the state.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Arkansas Department of Education are partnering to pilot a telemedicine program in Jasper, Lee County, Malvern, and Magazine School Districts. The four districts were chosen partly because they have existing school-based health centers.

Tina Benton with the UAMS Center for Distance Health says the program is designed to reach students in rural parts of the state.

Arkansans are being asked to join others across the country as they participate in an earthquake drill.

The “Great Central U.S. Shake Out”, is one of many regional earthquake drills being held at 10:20 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20. The organization ShakeOut claims to have had over 43 million participants worldwide for the drills in 2015 and hopes for more this year.

Whitney Green, with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM), said a geological fault line that runs under Arkansas makes it important for the state to practice preparedness.

Arkansans are being asked to spend the week of September 26-30 feeding themselves on no more than $4 dollars per day to better understand food insecurity in the state.

What used to be known as food stamps is now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. In Arkansas, qualified low-income individuals receive an average of $3.74 per day from SNAP to help them afford groceries.

Low-wage workers and local leaders are continuing to push for an increase to the minimum wage in Arkansas.

Local protests for a $15 an hour minimum wage were first seen in late 2014 outside fast food restaurants in central Arkansas. Those efforts were part of a nationwide movement known as Fight for 15.

In this election year organizers took their protest to the steps of the state Capitol. Jay Harris, a member of Fight for 15, said there are many reasons for supporting an increased minimum wage.