Johnathan Reaves

Announcer/Morning Edition host

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Courtesy of Governor Asa Hutchinson's Press Office.

Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced the following appointments:

Tyler West, Little Rock, to the Arkansas Suicide Prevention Council.  Appointment expires June 4, 2019.

Audrey House, Altus, to the Arkansas Alternative Energy Commission. Appointment expires at the Will of the Governor. Reappointment.

Gregory Perkins, Lowell, to the Arkansas Alternative Energy Commission. Appointment expires at the Will of the Governor. Replaces Kurt Castleberry.

http://www.justice.gov/usao-edar/meet-us-attorney

A major operation in Mississippi County leads to the arrests of 50 defendants in 40 separate indictments.  20 defendants are reportedly still on the run and are being sought by local law enforcement.  United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Christopher Thyer made the announcement in a press conference in Blytheville, along with David Resch of the FBI and 2nd Judicial District Prosecutor Scott Ellington.  Dubbed Operation Blynd Justice, the two year investigation targeted increased drug and gun crime in Mississippi County.

The Jonesboro City Council’s Finance Committee has approved a proposed sales tax to be considered by the full council.  If approved by the council next week, a one cent sales tax would be voted on during a special election November 10th.  7/8 cents of the tax would go toward funding 20 transportation projects in the city and would generate just over 14 million dollars a year.

From our content partner Talk Business & Politics:

A new clinic with ties to Northeast Arkansas will receive $983,403 in Affordable Care Act funding to help 2,825 patients, officials announced Tuesday.

Corning Area Healthcare, Inc. received the funding for the delivery of comprehensive primary healthcare services, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said.

Zimmer Development Company

The Jonesboro Metropolitan Area Planning has approved a rezoning proposal that would place off-campus student housing on East Johnson Avenue in Jonesboro, near Arkansas State University’s University Loop.  Representatives from Zimmer Development Company said they plan to place several buildings on 15 acres of land on East Johnson Avenue. The new development would be called University Woods and would be built in two phases.

A major operation in Mississippi County leads to the arrests of 70 defendants in 40 separate indictments.  United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Christopher Thyer made the announcement in a press conference in Blytheville, along with David Resch of the FBI and 2nd Judicial District Prosecutor Scott Ellington.  Dubbed Operation Blynd Justice, the two year operation targeting increased drug and gun crime in Mississippi County.  Early Tuesday morning, almost 600 law enforcement officers executed arrest warrants.  According to a news release, of the 70, twenty are fugitive

The Craighead County Quorum Court has approved a solution to the county’s shrinking data capacity.  Information Technology Director Erin Johnson informed justices last month the county’s storage of data has grown exponentially over the past several years, and that an increase was needed immediately to provide storage for the next five years.  The Sun newspaper reports $78,000 worth of services will be provided by a vendor that has been approved by the state. Johnson says work on the storage will start immediately.  

Courtesy of Fritz Gisler, Director of Communications for the City of Jonesboro:

Ben Barylske, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Jonesboro, announced his resignation today. His last official day with the City will be August 13, 2015.

Preliminary plans for a new county jail in Lawrence County are being drawn up.  The Lawrence County Quorum Court approved a construction firm that will provide justices with different jail options.  The Sun reports South Build contractors were selected to provide the layouts for the jail, which could house at least 100 inmates.  No word on exact cost estimates, but County Judge Dale Freeman says the new jail could cost as much as nine-million-dollars.  Freeman says the county is looking at a half-cent sales tax increase or more for construction of a jail.  Arkansas Jail Standards threatened

From our content partner Talk Business & Politics:

A short-term highway bill drew the support Thursday of 91 U.S. Senators, including Arkansas’ Republican U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton. The Senate voted 91-4 Thursday to approve HR 3236, one day after the House overwhelmingly approved the bill.

From our content partner Talk Business & Politics:

A 17-member panel charged with making recommendations regarding Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has submitted 21 of them to Gov. Asa Hutchinson to consider.

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who led the Council on Common Core Review, said earlier in the week that Common Core – a group of common standards in math and English Language Arts – should be made more rigorous and be renamed.

A report issued by the Council said concerns over testing were the most divisive elements of the controversial guidelines.

Courtesy of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

American Railcar Industries, Inc. (ARI or the Company), a leading North American designer and manufacturer of hopper and tank railcars,  provided further details regarding its project to enhance its  tank railcar manufacturing facility in Marmaduke, Arkansas (Greene County). As part of the expansion, the Company will invest $10.5 million in buildings and equipment and expects to hire up to 75 new full-time employees.

Johnathan Reaves / KASU/News

Since 1963, Paragould has sought a bypass that would take traffic around the city.  Yesterday, the eastern part of that bypass was dedicated. 

“I think it’s a big asset to Paragould.  It takes a lot of traffic out of the center of Paragould and will benefit the city very much.”

federaltax.net

Arkansas Highway officials say a three month extension of the Federal Highway Trust Fund is not sustainable for future planning of projects.  Arkansas has pulled $350 million dollars’ worth of projects due to uncertainty about federal funding.  Director of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Scott Bennett says a Highway Funding Study group has been formed by Governor Asa Hutchinson to look at what the state can do to fund future projects:

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has approved a contract for construction of a roundabout in Jonesboro.  Here is a press release from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department:

The Arkansas State Highway Commission has approved a bid for improvements to roadways in Craighead County, according to Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) officials.

The purpose of the project is to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 351 and Aggie Road in Jonesboro.

The Jonesboro Police Department is hosting a Citizen Police Academy this fall.  The academy gives citizens an opportunity to see what the police department does and why.  Media Specialist with the Jonesboro Police Department Paul Holmes tells how this started.

“After police chief Rick Elliott took the reins here, he felt that this would be a valuable way to have a community outreach program that be interactive,”  said Holmes.  “We could learn from the citizens and they could learn from police department to gain a better understanding of each other’s views.”

Big River Steel

Big River Steel will be in operation this time next year.  That announcement was made before the Arkansas Waterways Commission by John Correnti, the president and CEO of the 1.3 billion dollar steel mill under construction in Osceola.  Between 500 and 600 construction workers are currently onsite, with another 15-hundred coming to work.  On Friday, commissioners joined Correnti and president of Mid River Terminal Rick Ellis in a tour of their facilities. 

Craighead County is running out of data storage space for all of its departments and needs an immediate upgrade.  That is what the Craighead County Quorum Court was told during a meeting last night.  The county’s Information Technology department says data usage has soared, which creates the need for much more storage.  Justices learned the county only has about three months of storage left before it runs out.  A proposal was brought before the Quorum Court for $75,000 to be used to purchase an upgraded system, which would increase data storage capacity for the next five years.  Justices w

The Arkansas Waterways Commission is working with the U-S Army Corps of Engineers in developing a dredging plan for the White River.  The White River is the only river in the state that is not navigable for river traffic.  That is due to the 2011 river flooding.  Executive Director of the Arkansas Waterways Commission Gene Higgenbotham says the problem is that huge trees and other debris from the flooding in 2011 is in the navigation channel, which is making the river impassable. 

Osceola High School is receiving a one-point-three million dollar grant over a three-year period to help with teacher retention and developing strategies to boost student scores in math and literacy.  The Sun Newspaper reports the funds are part of a federal school improvement grant program.  Part of the funds will allow for the district to give bonuses to teachers who decide to stay at the high school for four years.  This is in response to a reported high turnover rate at the school district.  Funds will also be used to compensate teachers for additional training they take above and beyon

The U-S Army Corps of Engineers is about to start a major dredging project involving the White River.  The three-year project would take place from Newport down to Clarendon.  Vickie Wilson is with the Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis.  She told the Arkansas Waterways Commission the first year would be gathering permits and conducting environmental studies.  She tells what else is involved.

Bridge repair on State Highway 75 north of Interstate 40 in Poinsett County has required immediate closure of a section of the route 2.86 miles north of the Cross County Line, according to Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) officials.

Cracks in several of the structure’s wooden support columns have rendered the bridge impassable. This section of State Highway 75 will remain closed to through traffic until repairs can be made, which is estimated to take approximately two weeks. Local traffic, however, will be permitted in this area.

Two years ago, Newport put in a bid to be a city where the new Veterans’ Home would be located.  Jacksonville landed the 22 million dollar facility.  The 20 acres of land the home would have been placed could be available again to try to persuade the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to place a regional center in Newport.  A report by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette stated that five regional centers in the state are being planned.  Newport Mayor David Stewart says the city will apply for a VA regional center.

Next year, Arkansas should have a new water plan in place.  Since 2012, The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission has been working on drafting a plan that will be in place until 2050.  Final public meetings on the final rules in the plan are taking place across the state.  Meetings have been held in Russellville and Jonesboro, with five more meetings yet to be held.

Arkansas Judiciary

2nd District Circuit Judge Lee Fergus is being remembered for how he helped children, and for establishing a juvenile drug court in Craighead County, and surrounding counties.  KASU's Johnathan Reaves interviews 2nd Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington about Fergus.    Click Listen to hear the interview. 

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