David Monteith

Reporter

David Monteith is a reporter for KUAR news.

Metroplan / Metroplan

Convoys of cyclists will take to the streets of central Arkansas Friday morning as the kick off event for “Ditch the Keys” week. “Bike to Work” day is a national event, which has been incorporated into a regional campaign to draw awareness to, and improve air quality in Little Rock and the surrounding cities.

Metroplan, Rock Region METRO, Bicycle Advocates of Central Arkansas, and several other organizations are supporting the event by encouraging biking or walking to work.

Wikimedia Commons

A temporary exchange of paintings will bring a Renoir masterpiece to the Arkansas Arts Center. Dr. Ann Prentice Wagner, curator of drawings, says Pierre Auguste Renoir’s “Madame Henriot in Costume” will bring a new perspective to other pieces in the museum's permanent collection.

“Of course, Pierre Auguste Renoir is one of the great impressionist masters and this is a really fabulous full-length portrait,” said Wagner, “and it’s not like anything we have on the wall. We have a small Renoir, still life of dead game.”

David Monteith / KUAR

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is making a second attempt at a federal grant that would bring an estimated $14.5 million for renovations on University Avenue.

The school's application for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation was unsuccessful in 2015. UALR's chief government relations officer, Joni Lee, said she's hopeful a few changes will yield a positive result this year.

David Monteith / KUAR

City streets in central Arkansas can sometimes be a dangerous place to be a pedestrian. Local leaders hope to reduce the number of accidents between vehicles and people crossing busy streets by promoting Pedestrian Safety Awareness month.

At a press conference Monday near Little Rock's most dangerous intersection to cross, Mayor Mark Stodola said, “More pedestrians were involved in vehicle crashes on a half-mile stretch of Broadway here in downtown Little Rock than any other street in central Arkansas, which is of course why we are here today.”

A handful of Little Rock businesses will be reducing their prices by 25 percent for female shoppers on Tuesday in support of national Equal Pay Day.

Abby Olivier, a member of the Arkansas Equal Pay Coalition, says the idea of charging women less reflects current Arkansas earning statistics.

“The Institute for Women’s Policy Research – they just put out an extensive report on the status of women in the south  – this came out just this past February. According to this report women in Arkansas earn 75% compared to men,” Olivier said.

David Monteith / KUAR

Representatives of Arkansas’s agricultural community and political leaders will be discussing state and national policies impacting farmers at the Farm Policy Summit in Little Rock this week. Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, says policies which have increased costs to farmers are among the topics to be covered.

Rock Region Metro transit buses CAT central arkansas transit
David Monteith / KUAR News

Rock Region METRO, formerly known as Central Arkansas Transit, is asking voters to approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase which would generate a projected $18 million, all earmarked for public transit. According to Executive Director Jarod Varner, the additional revenue would allow the organization to be more responsive to current passenger needs and attract new riders.

“Our system is anchored in a funding structure that was developed in 1986 and so it's very difficult to make major service changes. We want to modernize what we do,” said Varner               

Arkansans without health insurance have until the end of the month to apply for health insurance or face financial penalties.

Under the Affordable Care Act, those without coverage will be charged nearly $700 per adult, $300 per child, or 2.5 percent of the household's income if they don’t have coverage in 2016. According to the most recent 2014 Census Bureau statistics approximately 1 in 10, or nearly 300,000 Arkansans remain uninsured.

Bruce Donaldson with Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace said there are several reasons Arkansans remain uninsured.

Angelsharum / Wikimedia

The Arkansas Public Service Commission will meet Tuesday to consider a settlement with Entergy Arkansas over a rate increase.

The agreement could result in an 8.3 percent increase to the monthly bills of the utility's customers. Entergy says the rate hike would allow it to improve its electrical infrastructure and purchase one-fourth of the Union Power Station natural gas plant near El Dorado. 

TheRep.org

The artistic director at The Arkansas Repertory Theater is resigning after 17 years in Little Rock.

KUAR's David Monteith spoke with Bob Hupp who is currently in New York conducting auditions for The Rep’s upcoming production of Windfall, which is being directed by Jason Alexander.

Windfall, scheduled for June 10-26, will close The Rep’s 40th season and also be the final production under Hupp’s leadership at the theater.

Metroplan

According to the 2015 Economic Review and Outlook report released by Metroplan, central Arkansas is showing signs of economic growth.

“During most of the year we were growing jobs at a faster rate than the northwest Arkansas region,” said Metroplan researcher Jonathan Lupton. “And normally they outperform us. This is the first year since 1998 that we’ve actually had faster job growth in central Arkansas than they’ve had in northwest Arkansas.”

David Monteith / KUAR

On Monday Habitat for Humanity opened the doors to the 15th home it's built this year in central Arkansas.

“Wow! Are you serious,” asked Horace Grant as he walked into his new home for the first time.

Most recipients of Habitat for Humanity’s zero-interest loans spend a portion of their time working on the home they will eventually move into. Mr. Grant was a rare exception, who instead spent his time volunteering on homes intended for others.

David Monteith / KUAR

Arkansas’ three living survivors of the bombing of Pearl Harbor were honored at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. The ceremony also served to welcome the newest addition to the museum, the ex-US Navy tugboat Hoga.

“The survivors from Arkansas who were in Pearl Harbor will be cutting the ribbon to allow access to the general public to the main deck of the Hoga today,” said Allison Hibblong, the museum's Director of Operations.

Hoga
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The Hoga, a World War II tugboat, became the newest addition to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum Monday, two weeks before the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Ship horns greeted the arrival of the boat, officially classified a Navy yard tug. “That is our honorary submarine welcoming our lovely tugboat,” said Allison Hibblong, the museum’s director of operations.

Arkansas Arts Center

Little Rock city leaders will hear details Tuesday night of a proposed $60 million improvement plan for the Arkansas Arts Center. The facility, which recently committed to remaining in Little Rock after speculation about a move to North Little Rock, is exploring options for making expansions and improvements.

Mayor Mark Stodola supports the plan being presented to the city’s Advertising and Promotions Commission because he says the Arts Center could lose accreditation without renovations to its theater and the rest of the facilities.

David Monteith / KUAR

The deadline for political candidates to file with their respective parties for the 2016 elections ended at noon Monday. Among the 25 hopefuls filing on the last day were Republican Curtis Coleman, Democrat Dianne Curry, and Republican Brock Olree. Coleman, who will challenge Senator John Boozman for his seat in the U.S. Congress, argued that his opponent is not conservative enough.

Arkansas Arts Council / Arkansas Arts Council

Nominations for the 2016 Arkansas Arts Council’s “Living Treasure” award close this Friday. Each year the Arts Council bestows the Living Treasure award on an Arkansas artist “who excels in the creation of a traditional craft and who actively preserves and advances his or her craft”.

“It began in 2002 with Bea Stebbing who was a stained glass artist,” said Robin McClea of the Arts Council. “And it’s included quilters, and fiddlemakers, basketmakers, and a maker of traditional wooden planes, bladesmiths, woodworkers, potters, and last year Lorrie Popow was the recipient.”

Rainfall over the weekend and on Monday has proven to be very beneficial in alleviating drought conditions in Arkansas, but officials say more is needed to completely remedy the situation.

"This rainfall will help ease the dry conditions across the state," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Joe Goudsward. "We won't know the extent to which until about Wednesday when the new drought monitor is issued, but of course any precipitation will be beneficial and it looks like the south will see the best impacts of this rain."

fast food protest salary
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As part of a national movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, some Little Rock workers plan to convene the city’s first wage board Tuesday.

Little Rock’s four-member board is made up of Democratic State Representatives Charles Blake and Vivian Flowers, the chair of Arkansas Community Organizations Donna Massey, and Revered Stephen Copley, who led the recent voter-approved effort to gradually raise the minimum wage in Arkansas to $8.50 by 2017.

American Library Association / American Library Association

Libraries in Arkansas and across the nation are marking Banned Books Week. The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) and Pulaski Technical College have events planned.

CALS is hosting a free screening of The Color Purple at the Ron Robinson Theater on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. In addition to the screening a dramatic reenactment of an interview with author Alice Walker is scheduled.

David Monteith / KUAR

Revitalizing the downtown Main Street area by making it a hub for arts organizations is a project first conceived by Mayor Mark Stodola in 2007. Eight years in the making, he looks forward to announcing the completion of the first phase.

Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah’s resignation goes into effect Monday,  August 31, 2015. Hannah issued a farewell letter on his last day in office.

Earlier in August the nearly 70-year old Chief Justice cited health concerns as his reason for resigning. He chose not to elaborate on the specific health concerns in his letter. Instead he focused on the positive aspects of his time on the state’s highest court saying,

David Monteith / KUAR

15 new buses running on compressed natural gas will roll onto the streets of central Arkansas later this week. The new buses are the visible face of an overall rebranding effort in which Central Arkansas Transit Authority will become known as Rock Region METRO.

Kanis Park skateboarding
David Monteith / KUAR News

Members of the Little Rock skateboarding community were joined by Mayor Mark Stodola and other city officials in Kanis Park Monday morning to receive a check for $150,000. In addition to comments by city officials, Allen Taylor, a member of the local skate community, spoke about the history of the park and his vision for improvements.

Taylor said he was excited about “more stuff to skate obviously, but tying the existing bowl into our DIY stuff – there’s nothing else like that around the country so this is really awesome. It’s quite a feat.”

The 48 Hour Film Project

This weekend Arkansas filmmakers will once again step into the international spotlight as part of the annual 48-hour Film Project. Area film professionals and hobbyists will compete against teams as far away as Amsterdam and Shanghai to create the best short movie. Teams have 48 hours to write, film, edit, and score their entries. Those that meet the deadline are screened and judged locally and the Best Picture from each city continues on to be judged against other cities.

David Monteith

Central Arkansas Transit Authority, or CATA, will host the first of six public meetings Monday evening as part of its ongoing rebranding project.

Executive Director Jarod Varner hopes the meetings will gather information about the types of improvements to public transit area residents want and are willing to pay for.

“Basically state law allows for a quarter-cent of sales tax (revenue) to be dedicated to transit, so that’s one thing we’ll talk to the community about," Varner said, "what we’d be able to fund with that dedicated source of funding.”

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. 

Wikimedia Commons

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.

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