Johnathan Reaves

News Director/Morning Edition host

Ways to Connect

The annual agri-business conference takes place next Wednesday at Arkansas State University.  Registration and morning sessions take place at the Fowler Center.  Lunch and the afternoon sessions will occur in the Convocation Center.  Dr. Burt Greenwalt is professor of agricultural economics in the College of Agriculture and Technology.  Greenwalt tells about some of the challenges that will be addressed during the conference:

Today is the deadline for first-time Arkansas voters to register to vote in the March first primary election.  Voters can register at county clerks’ offices across the state.  Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday tells KASU news there is an excitement about the primary being moved up this year.  He also has been using that point as an education tool to remind voters about the date change this year:

Previously, the primary had been held in May, and some voters felt like things had been decided.  Holliday says that won’t be the case this year:

The following is a news release from 2nd Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington:

Scott Ellington, District Prosecuting Attorney for the Second Judicial District of Arkansas, announces today that he will seek the death penalty against a Bay man accused of abducting and killing an elderly Bay woman last July. 

Jonesboro City Council's Nominating and Rules Committee votes to forward to the full city council a request for a special election for Ward 6, Position 1.  If approved, it will be held May 10th.  Those who want to run should file by March 11th and candidate draws would take place March 15th.  This is to replace Alderman Tim McCall's seat.  He resigned his position because he moved out of his ward.  The unexpired term will end at December 31, 2018. The cost of a special election would be $20,000.   The city council will vote on this Tuesday night.

Depleted underground aquifer levels in the state will be one of the key topics during the Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference in Jonesboro tomorrow.  Kevin Cochran is with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.   He says northeast Arkansas and Arkansas’ Grand Prairie are areas where the most damage has taken place.  Cochran says while municipalities use the Alluvial aquifer, farmers use it the most to irrigate the state’s rice and soybean crops.

Governor Asa Hutchinson continued his statewide computer coding tour in northeast Arkansas yesterday.  He made stops at a career and technical center at Jonesboro High School and then went to Nettleton High School, where he met with students involved in computer coding classes and the EAST Lab.  Hutchinson says four-thousand students across the state are involved in the computer coding classes, which is part of his STEM initiative.  Republican State Senator John Cooper of Jonesboro says the computer coding classes will have a direct impact on the economy of Arkansas:

Preparations for a major winter storm are underway by crews from City Water and Light in Jonesboro.  Click the Listen button to hear what crews are doing to prepare for the storm, what they do during the storm response, and how they help those who need shelter.  You can access City Water and Light's website here

The Jonesboro City Hall is the first municipal building in the state to try a program of emergency response that is currently in all of the state’s schools.  The RAVE Panic Button will be implemented in the city hall this month and is being used as a pilot program.  Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliot explains what the Panic Button is:

Elliot tells KASU news Jonesboro is the first city in the state to try the program in a municipal building:

The RAVE Panic Button was approved by the Jonesboro City Council’s Public Safety Committee last night.

City of Jonesboro

After 15 years on the Jonesboro City Council, Alderman Tim McCall is resigning his position.  McCall tells KASU news the resignation is the result of moving out of his ward.

Tim McCall.  He served in Ward 6, Position 1.  He tells KASU news that he is moving out of his ward and has to resign, due to Arkansas law.  McCall says he has served under three mayors, and tells what he is most proud of:

An announcement on McCall’s replacement could come soon.

A transportation plan through 2040 has been approved by the Jonesboro Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Policy Committee.  The coverage area for the plan covers Jonesboro, but also includes Brookland, Bay, Bono and other outlying areas in Craighead County.  As federal funding becomes available, specific transportation priorities will be focused.  The main transportation needs were making more bicycle and pedestrian paths available in the area, as well as adding more sidewalks in areas that are close proximity to parks and schools.  Other projects that are high on the list

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior was remembered yesterday through a parade, a program at St. Bernards Auditorium in Jonesboro, and an afternoon service project at Arkansas State University.  Reverend Dr. Ray Scales is the chairman of the Northeast Arkansas Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior Parade Committee.  He says he put it together in 2002 and has seen how it has grown over the years.  He tells what it means to see so many people from towns across the region to come together for the event:

He also tells what Dr. King’s message means to him:

A community conversation on race relations took place yesterday in Jonesboro.  It was part of the legacy of celebrating the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.  That celebration continues today.  During yesterday’s conversation, Assistant professor of Journalism at Arkansas State University, Dr. Gabriel Tait, read a passage from Dr. King:

Tait was part of a panel discussion that took place about race.  He says in order to bring more equality to all people, conversations about race must take place:

An analysis of race relations in Jonesboro is to be provided during a special event Sunday afternoon.  Known as “Community Conversations”, the two hour program will feature a panel discussion, a question and answer session, and a time to discuss what can be done about race relations.  One of the panelists for the event is Dr. Gabriel Tait.  He is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Arkansas State University.  Tait tells KASU news about some of the topics that will be discussed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reducing its flood watching efforts in all areas of the Mississippi River.  This is thanks to the receding river, which has swollen in many areas due to heavy rains in December.  Another factor that helps is the lack of any measurable rainfall that is forecast over the next several days.  Below is a news release from the Army Corps of Engineers:

With river stages falling in all locations, the Memphis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has lowered its floodfighting response activation level to Phase I in all active areas.

The Buffalo Island Central school district has passed its millage issue on the third try.  In unofficial numbers released from the Craighead County Election Commission, 669 people voted for the measure, 434 people voted against.  That is a 60% to 40% split.  The approval means a new kindergarten through sixth grade school will be built in Leachville and a new seventh grade through 12th grade school is coming to Monette.  Both projects will be a combined 123-thousand square feet and will cost 16-million dollars.  The square feet will be divided evenly with both schools, as well as the cost. 

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

Craighead County has been stepping up its efforts to collect delinquent taxes from businesses.  Craighead County Tax Collector Marsha Phillips provided a report to the Craighead County Quorum Court’s Public Service Committee.  She says some businesses owe taxes as far back as 2008.  She tells KASU news her staff of ten have been making a lot of phone calls over the past month to collect, and she says the efforts have been working.  Phillips provided the latest collection efforts over the past month:

Arkansas State Parks and Tourism

Hundreds of people gathered in the former Gillett High School Auditorium for the annual Coon Supper Saturday night.  The 73rd event brought many people from across the state, and even from out of state, to gather, eat coon and meet local, state, and federal politicians and candidates for office.  Some have been attending the event for most of their lives.  Gillett residents Margie and Johnny Holzhaeur have been attending the event for over 60 years, and have only missed it twice.  Margie tells the significance of the supper.

Formal charges have been filed against the suspect in the December 10, 2015 active shooter case that occurred at Arkansas State University.  The following is a press release from the office of Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington's office:

Scott Ellington, Prosecuting Attorney for the Second Judicial District of Arkansas, announced today that his office is filing charges in the Arkansas State University Active Shooter case that gained national attention and shut down the campus during finals week.

Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The first unofficial political event of the New Year happens Saturday night.  The 73rd annual Gillett Coon Supper will be held.  Originally held as a party and a hunt for raccoon when it first started, it has evolved into a key political function.  Larry Bauer is the treasurer of the Farmers and Businessmen’s Club in Gillett.  He says the small southeast Arkansas town of 700 will have about that many people attend the event.

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

The Jonesboro Metropolitan Planning Organization is working on a 25 year transportation plan.  The plan would involve road and transit projects that would be eligible for federal funding through 2040.  Director of the M-P-O is Erica Tait. 

“We are in the process of updating our long-term plan.  The last one was completed in 2011.  This plan goes out to 204.  The vital part of the process is public involvement. We want to make sure the public has an opportunity to comment on this as we take a look at the transportation needs in the area. ”

The Jonesboro City Council is expected to pass a nearly 60-million-dollar budget at its next meeting.  The figure is actually two-and-a-half million dollars less than the 2015 budget. Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin tells KASU news that all but one of the city’s departments made cuts in capital improvement.  Jonesboro’s E911 department did not have any cuts to its budget.  Three amendments to the budget have to be approved next week by the city council’s finance committee.

Update on flooding in the region, state

Jan 4, 2016

The US Army Corps of Engineers is closely watching levees along the Mississippi River.  Communities on our listening area are not expected to receive the kind of flooding that has taken place in St. Louis; however, the river is expected to be in major flood stage levels from Cape Girardeau, Missouri south through Osceola, Memphis and Helena-West Helena.  Jim Pogue is a spokesman for the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin says a newly passed Property Maintenance Code will not go into effect until March.  Perrin made the announcement during a press conference, just days after he broke the tie to approve the proposal during Tuesday night’s city council meeting.  The code had been the subject of much controversy over a period of at least six weeks, where both sides adamantly expressed their views about the code.  Supporters say they wanted the code to help reduce dilapidated and neglected pieces of property.  Opponents say they were afraid of the interior requirements, as well as

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

St. Bernards Healthcare announces a $130 million expansion in downtown Jonesboro.  The Master plan will be done in four phases.  The plans include the Ben E. Owens Cancer Treatment Center and the Heartcare Center---the center will be named after a former president and CEO of St. Bernards.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin was the deciding vote on a controversial property maintenance code.  After the city council came to a six-to-six tie, Perrin cast the seventh vote last night, which means that Jonesboro will have a property maintenance code that mirrors the International Property Maintenance Code.  After the meeting, Perrin commented on why he voted the way he did.