David Monteith

Reporter

David Monteith is a reporter for KUAR news.

David Monteith / KUAR News

A crowd of roughly 60 people gathered at the Arkansas state Capitol Monday to protest the exoneration of Little Rock police officer Charles Stark. He shot and killed Bradley Blackshire during a traffic stop earlier this year. The 30-year old black man was driving a stolen vehicle and footage released by the department showed Blackshire refused the officer's order to exit the car, which then slowly moved toward Stark. 

David Monteith / KUAR News

The 18,000 Arkansans who lost healthcare due to the state's work reporting requirement could begin receiving coverage again if a bill introduced Monday passes in the legislature.

Last week a federal judge ruled the requirement was unconstitutional. Rep. Reginald Murdock, D-Mariana, is the bill's co-sponsor. During a press conference Monday, he said the Department of Human Services has been unwilling or unable to share contact information for those who have lost coverage.

Brandon Markin / The Arkansas Repertory Theatre

After financial troubles last year, officials with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre hope their first show of the season is a sign of future success. The Rep's production of the musical "Chicago" finished its run Sunday.

Karen Rudolph, the organization's director of marketing and audience engagement, said tickets sales from the show were encouraging.

Rock Region Metro
Rock Region Metro

Central Arkansas public transit could benefit from national bipartisan support for infrastructure spending. Charles Frazier, the CEO of Rock Region Metro, traveled to Washington D.C. as part of a national delegation of transit officials requesting federal funding.

"There are backlogged 'state of good repair' projects – upwards of $90 billion – and without the appropriate support from the federal government that work gets kicked down the road," Frazier said.

Frazier was one of several members of the American Public Transportation Association to present data from a report generated by the APTA to members of the U.S. Congress. In addition to repair projects, federal dollars could also help pay for new projects, like an expansion of the transit hub in Arkansas's capital city.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Arkansas could join 10 other states with refundable bottle deposits as the result of legislation filed Monday in the state legislature. Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) is sponsoring the bill to introduce a Container Deposit Law.

The proposal would increase the cost of certain bottles by 6 cents. A refund of 5 cents would be available at certified drop-off locations. Flowers said the program could reduce litter on Arkansas roads, bring recycling to many rural communities that currently have no access, and generate revenue for a variety of state and local organizations.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Improving the employment opportunities of Arkansans with developmental disabilities is the goal of a program announced at the state Capitol today.

Melissa Stone, Director of the Division of Disability Services at the Department of Human Services says the number of people with disabilities in the workforce has increased over the past few years.

"We have people of all different capacities working at grocery stores, at gas stations, answering the phone for the governor's office, working at our store at DHS. I think these people are capable of doing everything," Stone said.

ShareAlike 4.0 International / Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas is expected to get a break from an unusually wet winter, but it may not be enough of a break for farmers.

Some Arkansas counties have received two to three times their average amount of rainfall over the last six months. The frequent and heavy rains have made it difficult for many farmers to work their land. Rice Agronomist Jarrod Hardke with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service says the return of cold weather could offset any relief from the rain.

National Weather Service

Heavy rains are predicted throughout the week for much of Arkansas. According to the National Weather Service, the eastern part of the state could see as much as 8 inches of total accumulation over the next several days.

"What this is likely to cause is prolonged issues with the rivers," said Brian Smith, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service. "We are expecting continued river flooding, especially along the White River, the Black River basin, as well as the Cache River. We could see some flash flooding issues in places as well."

David Monteith / KUAR News

Providing tax cuts for low- and middle-income workers in Arkansas is the goal of a new tax plan released by leaders in the state’s Democratic Party. Speaking at the Capitol, House Minority Leader Charles Blake said an earned income tax credit will benefit more Arkansans than the current plan being proposed by Governor Asa Hutchinson.

“We are not against tax cuts,” Blake said. “We are not trying to oppose the Governor. Arkansans have said that they want tax relief, but let’s be smart. Let’s give tax relief to 99% of Arkansans.”

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration building in Little Rock.
KUAR News

The Department of Finance and Administration says Arkansas was $13.1 million below projections for January, but the state's revenue is still up for the fiscal year. According to the DFA, the year-to-date net available general revenue is $3.4 billion, which is 4.1 percent higher than this time last year.

John Shelnutt, an economist with the department, said a drop in January revenue was forecasted, but not to this degree.

National Weather Service

Another blast of cold air is expected to enter Arkansas Monday. Meteorologist Chuck Rickard with the National Weather Service says temperatures will drop well below freezing, with snow and ice expected in part of the state.

"Parts of southeast Arkansas could see some light snow. It could change over later on tonight once that cold air moves in, but we are not really looking for much in the way of snippy accumulation," Rickard said Monday.

City of Little Rock

A donation drive to help furloughed federal workers in Little Rock is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. The initiative, known as Little Rock Cares, was started by federal employees at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport as a way of helping each other during the partial government shutdown.

Airport spokesman Shane Carter said it was expanded to a citywide effort when the needs outstripped the resources of airport employees.

SNAP
Department of Human Services

As the partial federal government shutdown continues, ripple effects are being felt by more than federal employees. Monday the Arkansas Department of Human Services announced that qualified Arkansans will receive their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits earlier than usual.

The money that allows low-income participants to purchase food is released monthly, and February's allotment will be distributed on January 17, according to DHS spokeswoman Marci Manley.

Frank Scott Jr. Transition Team
David Monteith / KUAR News

New Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has begun working to determine how best to achieve the goals he laid out during his campaign. On Monday, Scott convened the first meeting of his transition team which includes a board of directors and a team of advisors.

"What I hope will come out of this is a transition report that will serve as a playbook for my administration the next four years," Scott said.

gas station
AAA

Motorists in Arkansas can expect the price of gas to hover just over two dollars per gallon, according to experts.

Mike Right, a spokesman for Triple A says this holiday season could be busier than most as far as travel is concerned.

"We're predicting that the Christmas, New Year's holiday period this year will set an all-time record. We're anticipating 112 million Americans will be on the highways, the airways, the railways over this holiday period and that's an increase over last year of 4.4 percent," said Right.

My Arkansas Insurance Marketplace Affordable Healthcare Coverage
https://myarinsurance.com/

The deadline for purchasing health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is this Saturday. Bruce Donaldson, Navigator Outreach Manager for the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, says consumers are more comfortable with the enrollment process, which has been in place for four years, but there are still common questions.

Hoga
David Monteith / KUAR News

Three years ago, the World War II tugboat Hoga arrived at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. Friday, at an event commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor, the public will be allowed to tour the boat for the first time.

The Arkansas House of Representatives chamber.
arkansashouse.org

Now that bill filing for the 92nd General Assembly of the Arkansas State Legislature has opened, both new and experienced advocacy groups have begun looking for sponsors for legislation they hope will become state law.

Zachary Crow, the head of Decarcerate, an organization dedicated to reducing the prison population in Arkansas, said his group is looking forward to being more active in this session.

election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Voter turnout in this midterm election is expected to be higher than in recent years, both nationally and in Arkansas. Chris Powell, spokesman for the Arkansas Secretary of State, said predictions of high turnout are holding true in some parts of the state.

"Some counties are reporting pretty high turnout," Powell said. "Saline County reported that they're already at 31 percent turnout, and Craighead County's got 22 percent. It's going to vary across the state. I think the statewide numbers [for early voting will be about] 23.5 percent of total registered voters."

David Monteith / KUAR News

Little Rock School District teachers and staff are considering a walkout or a strike as a contract between the district and the collective bargaining group representing many of the district's teachers is set to expire Wednesday.

The options were discussed at a meeting Sunday night organized by the Little Rock Education Association, Grassroots Arkansas, Our Community Our Schools and Save Our Schools. On Monday, some teachers were taking part in public demonstrations, with many critical of state Education Commissioner Johnny Key.

David Monteith / KUAR News

A final report of recommendations for protecting Arkansas school children and personnel is set to be completed next month.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who created the Arkansas School Safety Commission in March, spoke at their meeting Monday and gave some feedback on the draft of their recommendations.

“I like the direction to have a security coordinator in each school. And you have put a plan in place that’s unique to that school. And your recommendations enhanced the training and coordination with local law enforcement,” Hutchinson said.

Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford and Democratic candidate Hayden Shamel
AETN

The two top candidates from Arkansas's District 4 Congressional seat faced off Monday. Issues in the AETN debate ranged from the minimum wage to the opioid epidemic.

Recent tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, and the responses from other countries were points of criticism brought by Democratic candidate Hayden Shamel.

"These tariffs are doing nothing but hurting American consumers and American farmers. In fact, we've had to give welfare to our farmers here in Arkansas just to make for the problem that we created," Shamel said.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Reducing the number of people in Arkansas prisons is one of the goals of gubernatorial candidate Jared Henderson.

Monday Henderson released his plan for reforming Arkansas’s criminal justice system to address what he calls the "epidemic of mass incarceration" in the state.

David Monteith / KUAR News

The United State Supreme Court opens its new session the first Monday in October. Monday, the current dean of the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, Theresa Beiner, and one of its former deans, John DiPippa, shared their predictions for which cases the court will agree to hear at a public lecture in Little Rock.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Candidates for Arkansas Attorney General are responding to recent headlines regarding corrupt legislators in the state.

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.

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.

National Weather Service

Late summer usually means hot, dry weather in Arkansas, but according to National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Cook, predictions for the middle of  this month include highs in the 80s and the poential for heavy rain, "which is a little bit unusual." While rainfall is helping the state avoid wildfires, it's a mixed bag for agriculture industry.

David Monteith / KUAR news

Little Rock is getting help in its fight against childhood hunger. On Monday officials announced a $139,500 grant had been awarded to the city by the Food Research Action Center and the National League of Cities.

Mayor Mark Stodola said the efforts of multiple partners helped Little Rock become one of six cities nationwide to receive the grant.

Satanic Temple

A 3,000-pound goat-headed statue of the Satanic idol Baphomet is to be part of a protest of the Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol, organizers say.

The statue is owned by the Satanic Temple, which describes itself as "non-theistic religious organization." The co-founder of the temple, who uses the pseudonym Lucien Greaves, announced Monday the statue will be part of the protest on August 16.

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