Johnathan Reaves

News Director/Morning Edition host

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The Arkansas Rice Federation is holding its annual rice meeting Friday at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center.  Spokeswoman Lauren Waldrip says breakout sessions will take place on several topics:

Lauren Waldrip.  Congressman Rick Crawford and Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward will speak during the event.  More details can be found here

Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas

The Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas has received a 25-hundred-dollar grant from the Burlington-Northern/Santa Fe Railway Foundation.  The money will go the Backpack Program, which helps provide food for hungry children on the weekends and school holidays.  Development Director Vicky Pillow tells KASU news almost 800 children in Northeast Arkansas benefit from the program.  She tells why it is needed:

Vicky Pillow.  27% of the people served through the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas is under 18.  She says Arkansas is near the bottom in nation when it comes to food security. 

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University’s Lecture-Concert Series continues tomorrow with the annual Greenfield Lecture.  The speaker will be Dr. Michael Honey from the University of Washington-Tacoma.  Honey will present “Sharecropper’s Troubadour: John Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmer’s Union, and the African-American Song Tradition.”  Dr. Honey conducted oral histories with the late John Handcox, who spent part of his young life as a sharecropper in Arkansas.  Dr. Honey tells why Handcox’s poems and songs from the 1930’s are still relevant today:

www.jonesboro.org

A special election, railroads, and the Miracle League ballpark were the main topics discussed during last night’s Jonesboro City Council meeting.  As expected, the Jonesboro City Council approved a special election to fill a vacant seat of former Alderman Tim McCall.  McCall resigned his seat last month, which opens up Ward 6, Position 1.  The special election will occur May 10th and the filing deadline for candidates will be March 11th.  In other news, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin says he will be meeting with highway and railroad officials about future work later this year.  Work to upgr

The Jonesboro City Council will consider a proposal to hold a special election to fill the vacancy for former alderman Tim McCall’s seat.  McCall resigned last month because he moved out of his ward, which is Ward 6 Position 1.  During last week’s Nominating and Rules Committee meeting, members suggested a special election be held May 10th.   If it is approved tonight, those who want to run for the seat can file by March 11th and candidate draws will take place March 15th.  The cost for a special election would be 20-thousand dollars.  The unexpired term will end December 31st, 2018.  

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.arkansas.gov

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. ”

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