Johnathan Reaves

News Director/Morning Edition host

Ways to Connect

O'Reilly Hospitality Management has announced that it is moving forward with plans to build a 202-room Embassy Suites Hotel and a 40,000 square foot convention center, as well as a Houlihan's Restaurant. 

TimO'Reilly, CEO and Managing Member of O'Reilly Hospitality says they are finalizing their Embassy franchise application and will turn in a financial package in the next 30 days. 

He says the project has received a "significant grant" from the Delta Regional Authority and is partnering with Arkansas State University to make the project a reality. 

Arkansas State University

The 22nd Delta Symposium takes place April 13th through the 16th at Arkansas State University, with the Saturday afternoon events taking place at CWL Park in Jonesboro.  The theme for this year's symposium is "Representing Cultural Heritage".  KASU's Johnathan Reaves talks with the symposium's chairman Dr. Gregory Hansen about this event.  Listen to the full interview by clicking the button. 

You can view the entire Delta Symposium schedule here

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

UPDATE 3/29/16:

Road work continues this week on Red Wolf Blvd between Johnson and Aggie. 

On Tueday, the inside southbound lane and both northbound lanes are open.  The outside southbound lane is closed as construction begins to create a 200-foot deceleration lane for right turns on to Alumni Blvd. 

Last week, crews worked to remove the median and create a turning lane.  City officials say the project which was estimated to take 2 weeks is now ahead of schedule.

The Jonesboro Metropolitan Planning Organization is holding two public meetings next week about improvements in transportation. 

Public forums will be held concerning the Transportation Improvement Program over the next four years. 

The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 29th from one to three at the Jonesboro Municipal Center.  The second meeting will be held on Thursday, March 31st from five to seven at the Jonesboro United Way Building in the Board Room. 

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

Baylor Assistant basketball coach Grant McCasland is the new men’s basketball coach at Arkansas State University.  He was introduced today during a press conference at the Convocation Center. 

McCasland addressed the crowd and said he will establish a family atmosphere with the team:

McCasland says he will fly back to help coach Baylor while they are playing in the NCAA tournament tomorrow afternoon.  He says he will wear a red tie, representing the Red Wolves, and also promised the Wolves will be in the tournament in years to come. 

The ballot order for an alderman race in Jonesboro has been set.  The Craighead County Election Commission conducted a draw in Jonesboro for the five people that are running for the Ward 6, Position 1 position that was left vacant by Tim McCall.  He resigned in January after serving 15 years on the Jonesboro City Council. McCall resigned after he moved out of his ward.

Here is the ballot order:

1.  Bobby E. Long

2.  Joseph R. Woodbury

3.  James W. Bowman

4.  Phillip Cook

5.  Richard Wang

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University will introduce its new men’s basketball coach Wednesday.  The Red Wolves have hired Grant McCasland to take over the program.  According to Arkansas State University’s Department of Athletics, a press conference will be held at the Convocation Center’s Auditorium at eleven.   

Pixabay

Construction on extending Parker Road to Washington Street in Jonesboro is underway.  The two-point-two million dollar project is funded by federal funds that have been passed through the State Highway and Transportation Department and the City of Jonesboro.

Questions concerning how special revenues are accepted by the county were debated last night by the Craighead County’s Finance and Administration Committee. Those special revenues are in the form of grants the county receives.  Members of the Finance and Administration Committee questioned some of the grants and what they were used for. Some were concerned that grants were used inappropriately for salary increases or other uses. 

The Craighead County Quorum Court is reviewing questions that are expected to be forwarded to the Arkansas Attorney General concerning operations of both the eastern and western districts of the county. The debate centers on how the Circuit Clerk’s office is able to do its business at courthouses in Jonesboro and Lake City. 

The City of Jonesboro is applying for federal funds to help low-income families.  Jonesboro’s Communications Director Bill Campbell says the funding would come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  If approved, Jonesboro would receive almost 600-thousand dollars under next year’s Community Development Block Grant program.  Jonesboro has used previous funds from the program to make improvements to homes, such as winterization, installing insulation, and replacing windows.  The public can comment on Jonesboro’s proposed projects if the city gets next year’s grant.  More info

US Representative Rick Crawford is taking a trip to Cuba next month to work on opening up markets in that country for trade.  Crawford says commodities, such as American-grown crops, can go to Cuba now, but there are hefty restrictions that make trade difficult:

He says two top staples that are grown in Arkansas meet a huge demand in Cuba:

Arkansas leads the nation in the amount of rice grown and is the second largest poultry producer in the United States.  Crawford’s trip takes place April sixth through the ninth.  

During Friday’s I-555 dedication ceremony in Jonesboro, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that he will be introducing a new highway plan to state lawmakers.  That announcement is expected to take place during a special session of the legislature this spring.   This year’s session will focus on budgets.  Governor Asa Hutchinson:

This year’s special legislative sessions are also expected to address funding of education, the state’s private option Medicaid expansion, and look at the budgets of all state agencies.

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

Touted as “Making the Connection”, today’s dedication ceremony of the new Interstate 555 was a culmination of work that has been done on the highway since 1968. 

US Highway 63 was turned into four lanes in the 1980’s, was made interstate quality in the 1990’s and has been ready for the interstate designation.  That happened today at St. Bernard’s Auditorium in Jonesboro. 

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson tells about the significance of the designation. 

City of Jonesboro

The Jonesboro Economic Transit System is working on fixing a fare-collecting system that has been malfunctioning.  Director Steve Ewart says revenue numbers have been down this year from last year because of the software glitches.  While numbers of riders continue to increase, the number of fares that have been collected are lower than this time last year.  Ewart says some rides have been given away because of the failures.  Two motherboards will be shipped to Chicago for repairs over the next two weeks.  In other news, Ewart says JETS has surveyed all 135 bus stops in Jonesboro to be plac

Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department / Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department

Friday will be a day that has been 40 years in the making.  

In the 1970’s, work started to turn Highway 63 into the Jonesboro bypass project.  Highway 63 eventually became a four-lane road that would connect Jonesboro to I-55.    

After four decades and $250 million of work on the highway, the numbers will change. 

During a ceremony at St. Bernards Auditorium, US 63 will become the new Interstate 555.  The new I-555 will consist of 44 miles from Highway 49 in Jonesboro to I-55 in Crittenden County. 

Can Jonesboro support two convention centers? 

That is a question that KASU news asked Roby Brock of Talk Business and Politics.  Last week, the Jonesboro Advertising and Promotion Commission decided to give funding to the Keller Family Hotel and Convention Center Project. 

The Jonesboro Advertising and Promotion Commission has decided to give funding to the Keller Family Hotel and Convention Center project.  

The project is funded by the Keller family and will be located along Browns Lane Access Road near I-555.  

According to KAIT, the project will consist of a 159-bed Hyatt Place Hotel and a convention center, which is expected to open by the middle of next year.  

The Craighead County Election Commission has confirmed that Jeff Presley has defeated Garry Meadows in yesterday's primary.  Both Republicans faced each other to see who would face current County Judge Ed Hill in November.  Computer issues with the county election commission's computer software put last night's result in that race in doubt.  An 88-vote discrepancy appeared because of the computer issue, which left the County Judge's race too close to call.  Originally, Presley led Meadows by 39 votes.

The Craighead County Election Commission is spending the day sorting out a voting discrepancy that could affect the Republican primary in the Craighead County Judge’s race.  Last night’s computer issues affected 88 votes and 16 provisional ballots.   A faulty flash card with the computer software tabulating system is to blame for the issue.  The paper ballots that are recorded every time someone votes showed 88 more votes than what the computer software recorded.  Officials are on the phone today with computer software company ENS trying to sort out the issue.  The Craighead County Electio

Computer issues have affected the Craighead County Judge's race.   An 88 vote discrepancy between the paper ballots that are filed every time a person votes and the computer tabulating software has made the Craighead County Judge's race too close to call.  That is because there is a 39 vote difference between the Republican candidates.  Unofficially, Jeff Presley has 5,447 votes and Garry Meadows has 5,408 votes.  Election Commissioners also say there were 16 provisional ballots that are not counted for.  An error with one of the flash cards is being blamed for the error.

Google Maps

The Jonesboro City Council has voted against adopting Dayton Avenue as part of a deal in the Old Fairground Bankruptcy case.  Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin says the road of a “cut-through” from Red Wolf Boulevard to Fair Park Boulevard.  Perrin asked the Jonesboro City Council to delay the decision to adopt the roadway so he could meet with neighboring businesses and receive financial assistance to bring the road up to city standards.

The cities of Jonesboro and Bono have been recognized by Arkansas Business as Cities of Distinction.  Paul Phillips from Cruz and Associates of Little Rock made a presentation to Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin during Tuesday’s Jonesboro City Council meeting.  Jonesboro has been awarded the 2015 Quality of Life Award for its Miracle League Ballpark that allows children with disabilities the opportunity to play different ball games.  The city of Bono has also been awarded the 2015 City of Distinction for Technology.  Bono was recognized for an upgrade in the city’s water metering system.  The

Arkansas Secretary of State's Office

Over six thousand people voted early in the Super Tuesday primary in Craighead County, and the polls are busy today.  Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday tells KASU News it could be a record turnout for a primary election:

Over 13,000 to 15,0000 could vote early in Craighead County.  National coverage from NPR and local coverage from the KASU News team starts at 7 tonight on KASU. 

  A hotel, convention center, and restaurant will be built on the Arkansas State University campus. 

The ASU Board of Trustees has approved a resolution that will allow O'Reilly Hospitality to construct the new facilities on 11 acres of land at the site of the former track and field program.  

The agreement is a ground lease agreement that allows for the construction of a 200-room Embassy Suites Hotel, a convention center of 30,000 to 40,000 square feet, and a Houlihan’s Restaurant and Bar on the Jonesboro campus.   

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