Arkansas’ Friday summary

One year after the $787 billion federal stimulus package was signed into law, U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln stands by her vote for the bill and says the stimulus has been effective.

Lawmakers advance Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe’s $4.5 billion spending plan for the coming year, as legislative leaders said the state’s first fiscal session could wrap up as early as next week.

The Joint Budget Committee approves the state purchase of the old Dillard’s headquarters on Capitol Avenue in Little Rock for $18.5 million.

Lawmakers want to prevent the state from paying the legal bills for criminal defendants who have hired private attorneys. The bill will not effect payments for the accused killer of one Army recruiter and the wounding of another in Little Rock.

School superintendents were told they would be getting nearly $120 million this year, but the federal government may shift a large chunk of that cash to the Department of Higher Education.

If the Public Employees Retirement System voids the retirement of all the elected officials it has tentatively identified as having retired improperly, it stands to gain about $1.5 million.

Glenn Worthington, who has dug for treasure at Crater of Diamonds State Park for more than three decades, has made his biggest find yet, a 2.13 carat chestnut-colored diamond.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is backing a startup company that would build trains in Arkansas to run on a high-speed rail network, challenging international manufacturers that dominate the market.

Oklahoma attorneys have begun closing arguments in a pollution lawsuit against Arkansas poultry farmers, alleging they cut corners when getting rid of thousands of tons of waste and allowed it to pollute a sensitive watershed.

The just-released 2007 Census for Agriculture finds Arkansas farmers as a class are growing older, harvesting more corn and rice and producing more chickens, and doing it all on increasingly valuable land. And a majority of them consider farming their secondary occupation – a sideline job.

Wal-Mart’s profits rose 22 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 but same-store sales declined 1.6 percent during the Christmas shopping season.

Windstream Corp. profit for the quarter was $76 million, down 7 percent from a year earlier. Revenue at the landline rural telephone and Internet provider fell 3 percent.

Internet growth and increased wireless data traffic has led AT&T to invest nearly $450 million in Arkansas during the past three years to improve its working infrastructure.

Hunters took a record number of bears during the 2009-10 Arkansas bear season. Over 530 bears were killed.

John Mills of Cabot waived indictment in federal court and pleaded guilty to aiding bank fraud by a check kiting scheme devised to cover up financial problems at the now-defunct Affiliated Foods.

A federal judge has rejected a motion to separate the trials of an Arkansas doctor accused of bombing the state medical board chairman from the doctor’s wife — who faces perjury and obstruction charges.

A 19-year-old woman is accused of throwing her 2-year-old son from a moving vehicle and then speeding away. Witnesses told police it appeared the car struck the boy as it left. Authorities said it appeared he suffered only minor injuries.

After deliberating about 20 minutes, a Jefferson County Circuit Court jury found a former prison guard guilty of smuggling contraband into the Tucker Unit last year.

A woman seeking $8 million in damages after her 55-year-old husband died while incarcerated at the Pope County Detention Center in 2007 will not pursue a civil suit further.

Clay Helton, an assistant the past 10 seasons at Memphis who was the Tigers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the last 3 years, and offensive coordinator at Arkansas State for two months, has been named an assistant coach at USC, new Trojan head coach Lane Kiffin announces.

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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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