Thursday Arkansas stories

Persistent rains are hurting agriculture. Cotton growers are already looking at losses of 20 percent to 30 percent or higher. Some low-lying soybean fields have been flooded for much of the growing season. Rice farmers have had a good yield so far, but that isn’t expected to be sustained.

Roby Brock at TalkBusiness.net reports that Arkansas has “borrowed” $119.44 million from the federal government to pay unemployment benefit claims, and could end up with a tab of more than $360 million by the end of 2011.

State Senator Joyce Elliott wants more people to “take ownership” of the state’s poverty rate, which is the second highest in the nation, and suggested that state agencies such as the Game and Fish Commission and the Department of Correction devote portions of their budget to help the poor

Fourth- and eighth-grade public school students scored about the same on standardized math tests this year as they did two years ago, but the gap between eighth-graders’ performance and the national average widened, according to the state Department of Education.

A panel trying to find funding for improvements to state highways has been briefed on a carbon tax on motor fuel and a sales tax hike on gasoline and diesel.

Early numbers show that Pulaski, Jefferson and Saline Counties have produced the largest proceeds in the new lottery. Arkansas Times Blog readers calculate sales figures on a per capita basis and the top counties are Dallas, Conway, Arkansas, Jackson, Jefferson, Pulaski and Pope Counties.

A Van Buren man who became the first $100,000 winner in the lottery has since been arraigned on a felony drug charge and denied indigent status. Joseph Kirk Pierce will have to hire his own lawyer. This comes after spending the night in jail on two sex-related misdemeanor charges.

The attorney general certified the name and ballot title of a proposed constitutional amendment that would make it difficult for illegal immigrants to receive public benefits.

The Public Service Commission says the Arkansas Electric Cooperative can charge customers more beginning with bills in December. The rate increase of about $24.4 million a year should result in an approximate increase of $2.54 a month in the average bill of an AECC member’s customers.

Eight Saline County families won a $1.4 million dollar civil judgment against an Oklahoma trucking company in connection with an explosion at a hazardous waste transfer facility in 2007.

Wal-Mart has launched its own no-contract mobile phone service that it will run with TracFone Wireless Inc. Wal-Mart will offer monthly plans of 1,000 minutes for $30. For $45 per month, Wal-Mart is offering 1,000 minutes plus unlimited text and mobile Internet.

Wal-Mart will pay up to $11 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of 97,000 current and former workers in Iowa over allegations that they were forced to skip breaks or work off the clock.

Reuters reports that J.B. Hunt Transport Services is in negotiations to sign a long-term deal with an eastern railroad, most likely Norfolk Southern Corp.

A Vilonia policeman was arrested early Wed at a Conway private club on suspicion of disorderly conduct and public intoxication, both misdemeanor offenses. During the altercation the Vilonia officer was tased by a Conway officer, who was his brother

Pine Bluff police are investigating a Wednesday morning fatal hit and run.

Louisiana State Police arrest two men accused of possessing $250,000 worth of equipment stolen in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.

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About patlynch
I am a broadcaster in Arkansas, a former freelance writer and political columnist in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Writing Coach. Speaker. Director of the Christian Foundations for Ministry program, and presently enrolled in the Anglican School of Ministry Master of Ministry program.

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