Thursday early Arkansas happenings

Heifer International has been unable to reach seven staff members in Haiti in the aftermath of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated the Caribbean country.

Legislators advanced a proposed $2.7 billion budget for Arkansas public schools, which would give them about $500 more per student.

Jim Purcell, the director of the Department of Higher Education, tells legislators that an erroneous perception exists among some that the coming lottery-funded scholarships will help ease budget problems at state colleges and universities.

Reversing a decision it made seven months ago, the Arkansas Board of Corrections will to spare the state’s oldest prison chapel from demolition.

The state today announced expansion of Arkansas Works, aimed at education and economic development. It will include an on-line college and career planning program, plus hiring of 43 college and career coaches who’ll work in 21 economically challenged counties.

A state panel endorsed three options for generating additional money for state highway improvements and voted to take the proposals on the road to get public input. The Committee approved a recommendation to shift $425 million annually from state general revenues, a move Gov. Mike Beebe has said he opposes, and two proposals to raise taxes.

Former state Rep. Sharon Dobbins, 44, of North Little Rock died suddenly of pneumonia at an area hospital. Dobbins became a lawmaker briefly after a plea bargain removed her husband from the General Assembly.

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, a Democrat who is raising money for re-election, filed his quarterly finance reports showing his campaign has $314,000 in the bank.

Yields of all crops except rice were down in 2009, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wagering on electronic games of skill at Southland and Oaklawn dipped in December compared to the previous month but once again posted large gains over the previous year’s comparable periods.

Morris Publishing Group, LLC, parent company to 13 daily newspapers including the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, will file a reorganization plan in the next week to clear up $270 million in debt.

Mattresses from Mattress World in Dallas and sold in Arkansas for $35 to $105, have been recalled because of fire retardant standards.

A federal judge in Texarkana ordered Tony Alamo to pay restitution totaling $2.5 million to five victims in the sex-with-minors case in which he was recently convicted. His organization has assets.

Benton County Judge David Bisbee, the former state senator, apparently hired his own company, Valley Homes, to do a $15,000 remodeling job for the county. The Republican prosecutor, Van Stone, will request a State Police investigation.

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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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