Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

Jeremy Hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Attorneys say a nephew of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson plans to resign from the state senate to focus on defending himself from corruption charges.

Attorneys for Republican state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson Attorneys on Friday called the new accusations that he had spent campaign funds on personal expenses, including a Caribbean cruise and tuition payments, inaccurate. But they say he's stepping down so that Capitol business can proceed without "unnecessary distraction."

Deadline To Report Work Info Or Lose Arkansas Works Coverage

Aug 31, 2018
File photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson presenting part of his Arkansas Works plan, the state's version of Medicaid expansion.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Thousands of Arkansans are at risk of losing their healthcare coverage this weekend for failing to comply with a recently enacted work requirement for the state's Medicaid expansion program. The deadline is Friday at 5 p.m.

August is the third month that a work requirement has been in place for the Arkansas Works program. Enrollees who fail to report three months in a row will lose their coverage on the first day of the following month. That means those who haven't reported anything will be cut from the program on Saturday.

File photo. Construction of Big River Steel plant in Mississippi County.
bigriversteel.com

Several high-profile steelmakers and investment groups are said to be bidding for the assets of Big River Steel LLC in northeast Arkansas, as billions of dollars pour into the industry after President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on cheap steel imports from China and U.S. allies.

In a response to Talk Business & Politics, a Big River spokesperson said the company was fielding funding offers and reviewing “strategic alternatives” amid the domestic steel industry’s recent upswing as the gap between U.S. and international steel prices has widened.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Two more inmates have died of possible drug overdoses at a maximum security prison in southeast Arkansas.

Arkansas Department of Correction attorney James DePriest say the inmates aged 26 and 55 were found unresponsive Wednesday in their cells at Varner Supermax Unit, about 50 miles southeast of Little Rock.

DePriest has said three other inmates were found unresponsive earlier this week and that they died within 24 hours of each other .

War Memorial Stadium
Bobby Ampazzan / Arkansas Public Media

Arkansas officials say they're implementing new security measures at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. That's after thousands of attendees fled the stands during a high school football game because of false rumors about a gun threat.

The Department of Parks and Tourism said Tuesday it's instituting a clear bag policy for all athletic events, will use a security wand on all patrons entering the facility and is prohibiting loitering in the concourse. The department says it will continue to evaluate security measures and enhance them as necessary.

Varner Arkansas Department of Correction Cummins Prison
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A Department of Correction official says three inmates have died in less than 24 hours at a prison in southeast Arkansas, possibly from drug use.

Spokesman James DePriest said Monday that both state police and the department are investigating to determine the cause of the deaths at Varner and its supermax unit.

David Monteith / KUAR News

The Little Rock School District is gathering public input on a new long-range plan.

Superintendent Michael Poore announced a "community blueprint" Monday, which outlined the district's intentions to close some schools, repurpose some land and buildings, as well as build new schools.

Downtown Little Rock
Wikimedia Commons

Central Arkansas leaders fear the region is fighting a problem of perception. While northwest Arkansas is viewed as booming, the Little Rock metro area – at least according to some around the country – appears to be struggling.

Arkansas Business reporter Kyle Massey digs into that for a story in this week’s issue. He spoke with KUAR's Michael Hibblen during Morning Edition, which you can hear above.

Interview Highlights

The row may be the new paddy in the nation’s number-one rice producing state.

Agronomists, scientists and farmers at a recent field day in Mississippi County say the trend of growing rice in straight rows instead of curves has expanded in Arkansas this year after early experiments were successful.

Water conservation is a top priority for rice farmers — for economic if not ecological reasons — and many say it's not clear yet whether rows reduce flood levels, but they do believe planting in rows may save on tillage costs.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains

A federal appeals court says it won't allow Arkansas to enforce a law that critics say would make the state the first in the U.S. to effectively ban abortion pills.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied a request by the state to put on hold a judge's order preventing Arkansas from enforcing the law.

That law says doctors who provide the pills must hold a contract with a physician with admitting privileges at a hospital who agrees to handle any complications.

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