Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

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The former president of a private Christian college in northwest Arkansas has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty for his role in a kickback scheme involving former state lawmakers.

Oren Paris III was also ordered to pay $621,500 in restitution. Paris was president of Ecclesia College. He admitted to funneling bribe money to the lawmakers in exchange for state grants.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR

Little Rock mayoral candidates Warwick Sabin, Glen Schwarz, Frank Scott Jr., Vincent Tolliver and Baker Kurrus met Monday evening, September 10 at Dee Brown Library in Little Rock for a forum with questions focused on economic opportunity.

This is the first in a series of five forums with candidates for Little Rock Mayor on topics including economic opportunity, crime, infrastructure and education.

Arkansas Governor's School

A summer program for some of the state’s gifted and talented high school students, could be moving to Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

A site selection committee for Arkansas Governor's School rated Hendrix College in Conway higher according to their criteria, but then voted to recommend Arkansas Tech to the State Board of Education. Jason Rapert, the Republican Senator from Conway opposes the move and the process used to make the decision.

Arkansas voters overwhelmingly favor constitutional proposals to require voter ID and to tighten term limits, and by a 2-to-1 margin they oppose a measure to alter civil lawsuits and court rules.

The latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of 1,701 statewide likely voters was conducted on Sept. 5-7, 2018 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.4. The statewide survey sample is a combination of four Congressional District polls that achieved more than 400 respondents per district. Automated calls and live calls were conducted.

CREDIT SALFALKO VIA FLICKR, CREATIVE COMMONS

An Arkansas judge has disqualified a ballot measure that would limit the damages awarded in civil lawsuits and would give the state Legislature control over court rules.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce on Thursday ruled that the proposal lawmakers put on the November ballot violates the state's constitution by combining disparate measures into one amendment. The proposed amendment caps noneconomic and punitive damages awarded in lawsuits and also places limits on attorneys' contingency fees.

Jon Woods
Ashley Gardner

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jon Woods was sentenced Wednesday to more than 18 years and four months in prison for his role in a bribery scheme. The Republican must also serve three years of supervised release and pay over $1.6 million in restitution.

Woods was convicted in May of 15 felony charges. Prosecutors alleged he took kickbacks in exchanging for steering state money to a private Christian college. Woods co-defendant, Randall Shelton Jr. is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday.

Elizabeth Eckford
National Park Service/ Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A bench now on display across from Little Rock’s Central High School commemorates one key moment from the school’s desegregation. It is a replica of one Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine sat on in 1957 after being kept from entering the school by national guardsmen.

Tuesday’s unveiling coincided with the 61st anniversary of the event.

Central High School’s Memory Project aims to encourage students to remember past events of the high school and to keep the memory of the Civil Rights Movement alive.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A proposal to legalize casinos in Arkansas has been approved for the November ballot.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office on Wednesday said supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment submitted more than the nearly 85,000 signatures from registered voters required to put the proposal on the ballot. Martin's office said it had determined 99,988 valid signatures were submitted.

Jon Woods
Arkansas Times

A sentencing hearing is to begin Wednesday at 9 a.m. for former Arkansas state Senator Jon Woods. He and several others have been convicted or pleaded guilty as part of a wide-ranging corruption investigation. Woods' co-defendant Randell Shelton Jr. will be sentenced Thursday, while their accomplices are scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Doug Thompson, a reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, covered Woods' trial from start to finish and spoke with KUAR about Woods' case.

Arkansas prison officials say they're open to the legislature's help following the deaths of five inmates at the Varner Unit last week. 

Officials from the Arkansas Department of Correction and the state Board of Corrections testified at a joint legislative subcommittee hearing Tuesday on efforts to curb deaths due to illegal drug usage in state prisons. 

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