David Monteith

Reporter

David Monteith is a reporter for KUAR news.

As an additional indicator of improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba, fifty-three Arkansans hosted by the State Chamber of Commerce will begin a week-long visit to Cuba Tuesday. Senior Vice President of the Chamber, Susie Marks says this trip is not focused on forging official business or economic ties, however several members of the group are from key Arkansas industries.

“From the start of our trip there was a lot of interest from the agricultural sector of our state's economy, so there may be an opportunity to open that a little more,” said Marks. 

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The two-day Delta conference on economic equality for working families begins Tuesday in Little Rock.

The Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus, an advocacy group promoting economic development in the impoverished region will host the conference. Topics being discussed will include women and children in poverty and race relations, but the overall focus is economic equality. 

David Monteith

Plans intended to make South University Avenue safer and more attractive are to be voted on Tuesday by the Little Rock Board of Directors.

Arkansas Nuclear One
www.entergy-nuclear.com

Entergy's nuclear power plant, Arkansas Nuclear One, is currently the worst in the country, according to a ranking by the federal regulators. The reasons for the poor performance rating and plans for improvement will be discussed Tuesday night at 6 p.m.  during a public hearing in Russellville.

complete streets bus bike lanes
David Monteith / KUAR News

The Little Rock City Board of Directors is expected to vote Tuesday night on an ordinance which would impact future development in the city. The Complete Streets policy would require that when transportation improvement projects are planned within the city, consideration of all anticipated users be incorporated.

Director of the Department of Planning and Development, Tony Bozynski, has been involved with crafting the policy since 2013. He said, “Complete Streets is all about safety and to provide equal access for all users of the city’s roadways and all modes of transportation.”

David Monteith

Speaking from the intersection of Capitol and Broadway Monday morning, Mayor Mark Stodola joined a variety of organizations to announce the Heads Up Downtown campaign. The initiative is part of Pedestrian Safety Awareness Month.

Representatives from the organizations each spoke about pedestrian safety from their perspective.

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The historic Delta Queen riverboat is heading for New Orleans for repairs that some hope will make it seaworthy for the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers again.

One significant hurdle remains for the vessel. A congressional exemption to the Safety of Life at Sea Act is necessary because the Delta Queen is a riverboat rather than an oceangoing vessel. A bill allowing the exemption stalled in the Senate last year.

Lee Powell, Executive Director of the Delta Caucus, is optimistic about congressional support this year.

The number of unemployed people in Arkansas was down in January. The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services released its monthly report Tuesday, which showed more than 9,000 jobs were added between December 2014 and January 2015. This puts the state’s unemployment rate at 5.6 percent, which is just under the national average of 5.7.

Michael Pakko, Chief Economist at UALR’s Institute for Economic Advancement, said the report factors in expected changes due to temporary holiday jobs.

Another round of winter weather is expected this week in central Arkansas. Temperatures in the mid-50s are predicted for Tuesday, but then rain, sleet, and possibly more snow will likely arrive Wednesday night.

Marty Trexler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says significant accumulation is anticipated late Wednesday.

Central Arkansas Transit Authority CATA bus
David Monteith / KUAR News

Public transportation in the Little Rock area will undergo some major changes this summer. In July, 15 new buses with a noticeably different paint scheme will be added to the fleet as Central Arkansas Transit Authority, or CATA, becomes known as the Rock Region METRO.

The modern buses and new branding are part of a broader project known as Move Central Arkansas. Leading the effort is Executive Director and CEO Jarod Varner.

Whitney Murph Hal Cook
Jayme Goad / KUAR News

The family of a Jacksonville man has filed a lawsuit against Arkansas Funeral Care and its owner LeRoy Wood. The suit, announced at a press conference Monday, alleges that Kenny Alton Smith’s funeral had to be done with a closed casket due to negligence by the funeral home staff.

When asked about the motivations behind the suit, Hal Cook, an attorney for the Smith family said, “I think they want to do the right thing. They want other people to come forward and be comforted and get some type of closure that they’re going to hopefully ultimately get.”

Snow Mt. Magazine
Arkansas State Parks / Twitter

A winter storm moving northeast from the Gulf of Mexico brought snow to Texas, New Mexico, and parts of western Arkansas Thursday. The same weather system generated rain in the Little Rock area, but some snowfall is possible in central Arkansas early Friday.

Jeff Hood, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, does not expect road conditions in Little Rock to be significantly impacted.

Arkansas small business owners have the opportunity to learn more about the state’s health insurance marketplaces during a free webinar Tuesday. The on-line seminar will explore topics related to the costs and benefits of using the marketplaces.

Edward Haddock with the Small Business Administration said the information presented will be relevant even as the Arkansas Legislature discusses the future of healthcare in the state.

Esse Purse Museum
David Monteith / KUAR News

It’s the only one of its kind in the United States and one of only three in the world. Located on Main Street in Little Rock is the ESSE Purse Museum. Laura Hardy, public relations director, says when people learn about it, “The reaction is usually like, ‘What the heck is a purse museum’ or, ‘Oh my gosh that is so cool.” 

fast food protest salary
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Employees of several central Arkansas fast food restaurants took part in demonstrations Thursday calling for higher wages. 

About 60 people chanted slogans and held signs saying “Show Me $15 and a Union,” outside a Little Rock McDonald's. Similar protests, all organized by the group Fight for 15, took place in over 150 U.S. cities. The group also organized demonstrations here in September.

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