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News for Thursday, March 23

National Ag Week - Agriculture Employs 1 Out of Every 6 Arkansans

Simply put, agriculture is vital to The Natural State. As Arkansas’s No. 1 industry, farm income alone contributes $8 billion on average to the state’s economy. When combined with agricultural and food processing industries, agriculture is responsible for close to 25 percent of Arkansas’s economy. It’s also responsible for employing one out of every six Arkansans.

The state boasts 45,071 farms, averaging about 306 acres each, spreading across 13.8 million acres of land. In fact, about one-half of Arkansas’s total land area is devoted to agriculture.

The hardworking farmers operating the land are busy growing and raising the state’s top commodities, including rice, soybeans, broilers, cotton, turkeys, catfish, grain sorghum, timber and more. The state takes the top spot nationally for rice production, and consistently ranks No. 3 for catfish and turkey production. Plus, it consistently ranks in the top three for number of broilers. In 2015 alone, soybeans and rice brought in a combined production value of $2.56 billion.

These crops and more represent an important export industry for Arkansas agriculture, with the state’s farmers exporting cotton, poultry, feed grains, rice and soybeans.

Arkansas provides the right climate for growing specialty crops as well, including fresh-market tomatoes, melons, peaches, blueberries, pecans and grapes.

Although these commodities are important, Arkansas agriculture goes far beyond the field. Educating the next generation of farmers, implementing innovative ideas and sustainability management practices, research and development, exports and international trade, connecting consumers to local products and growers, and much more are all encompassed by Arkansas agriculture.

Working to keep agriculture in the forefront, the Arkansas Agriculture Department, colleges and universities, Arkansas Farm Bureau, and many other organizations across the state make sure this integral industry continues to thrive.

We'd like to thank our local sponsors this week for Ag Week coverage.  They include Thurman & Flanagin, Shumaker Tire, Montgomery Whiteley Realty, St. Francis Vet Clinic, Amerigas, Hart's Family Center, Williams Tractor, SunFest Market, Reliable Poultry, Carroll County Cattlemen's Association, Jackson Insurance Agency, Warren Welding & Generators and Midwest Equipment Rental & Sales.


Record Highs Broken on First Day of Spring

After the state's second-warmest winter on record, several Arkansas cities set record or near-record high temperatures Monday, the first day of spring.

Fayetteville's high of 85 degrees broke the 79-degree record set in 1988 and again in 2011, said meteorologist Karen Hatfield of the National Weather Service in Tulsa.

Harrison's 90 degrees tied the city's record set in 1907, and Fort Smith's reading of 90 degrees was one degree shy of its record of 91, also set in 1907. Mammoth Spring and Salem each reported 92-degree highs for Monday, and Mountain Home recorded a reading of 90 degrees.

KTHS also reported 90 degrees Monday and that could well have been the record since 1907.

High temperature records weren't broken only in Arkansas.

St. Louis was at 86 degrees Monday and broke a record of 83 set in 2012. In Texas, Lubbock's 92 degrees broke a 101-year record.

Tulsa recorded a high of 92 degrees Monday, breaking the record set in 1907. Even western areas of the United States recorded above-average temperatures. Colorado Springs, Colo., reached 80 degrees Monday, breaking the 74-degree record set in 1907.

Monday's warm day in Arkansas was caused by several factors, said meteorologist Lance Pyle of the National Weather Service in North Little Rock.

The state recorded the second-warmest three months of winter, he said. Temperatures in December, January and February were 5.4 degrees above average. The warmest three months of winter on record were in 1931-32 when the state saw a 6.6-degree above-average temperature.

On Monday, a high pressure system stalled in the southern United States, and winds from the southwest prevailed, pushing the temperatures up.

Also, more than two-thirds of the state is in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln organization that records weekly drought information across the country. Those drought conditions make the weather even warmer.


Hutchinson Signs Legislation Expanding Where Concealed Handguns Allowed

The governor signed legislation that expands the locations where concealed handguns are allowed in the state to include colleges, some bars, government buildings and even the state Capitol.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday that he signed the measure, which allows someone to carry concealed guns at the new locations if they undergo up to eight hours of active-shooter training.

The measure originally was intended to only allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns at college campuses, but it expanded as it hit roadblocks in the Legislature.

The law allows concealed guns at private establishments like bars, restaurants and places of worship - unless there are weapons prohibitions posted at the facilities. Concealed handguns are still banned at K-12 schools, courtrooms and prisons.

The law takes effect Sept. 1.


Senate Approves Pilot Program to Create Education Savings Accounts

The Arkansas Senate approved a bill that would authorize a state pilot program to create education savings accounts for students.

The legislation would let parents spend education money as they see fit, with funds paid by nonprofit organizations to education providers. It would establish education savings accounts worth about $6,700 per year for students.

Expenses covered would include private school tuition, textbooks, testing, college, summer programs, speech pathology, transportation and uniforms.

Senate voted 22-5 for the bill on Tuesday. It goes to the House for further consideration. Similar legislation failed to pass the House last week.

Legislation on education savings accounts has been passed in five states, including Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.


Earthquake in Oklahoma Wednesday

The U.S. Geological Survey reports a magnitude 4.0 earthquake and two smaller temblors have struck Oklahoma.

The larger quake was recorded Wednesday near Stroud, located about 60 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. Two smaller quakes were also recorded. A magnitude 2.7 quake struck near Fairview and a magnitude 2.5 temblor hit near Mooreland.

No injuries or damage are reported and geologists say damage is not likely in earthquakes below magnitude 4.0.

Thousands of earthquakes have been recorded in Oklahoma in recent years, and many have been linked to the underground injection of wastewater from oil and natural gas operations.

Regulators have directed oil and natural gas producers to close some disposal wells or reduce the volume of fluids they inject.


Rutledge Rejects Proposal to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has rejected a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state.

In an opinion dated Tuesday and released Wednesday, Rutledge said the ballot title of the proposal is ambiguous and "that a number of additions or changes" are needed "to more fully and correctly summarize" the proposal.

The proposal by Larry Morris of West Fork would allow for the cultivation, production, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use in Arkansas.

It would also allow for the release from prison, parole and probation anyone whose only conviction is for cultivating, distributing, selling or possessing marijuana and would expunge the records of anyone convicted on those charges.


Sears Says "Substantial Doubt" They Can Stay Open

Sears, once the monolith of American retail, says that there is "substantial doubt" that it will be able to keep its doors open.

Company shares, which hit an all-time low last month, tumbled more than 12 percent Wednesday.

Sears has long maintained that by balancing the sale of key assets while at the same time enticing customers with loyalty programs, it would eventually turn the corner.

Yet industry analysts have placed the staggering sums of money that Sears is losing beside the limited number of assets it has left to sell, and concluded that the storied retailer may have reached the point of no return.

The company has lost $10.4 billion since 2011, the last year that it made a profit. Excluding charges that can be listed as one-time events, the loss is $4.57 billion, Perkins says, but how the losses are stacked no longer seem to matter.

As for Kmart, which Sears also owns, Perkins does not see much of a future.

Millions of dollars have been funneled through the hedge fund of Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert to keep Sears afloat but with sales fading, it is burning through cash. Lampert combined Sears and Kmart in 2005, about two years after he helped bring Kmart out of bankruptcy

According to a regulatory filing late Tuesday, Sears Holdings Corp. lost more than $2 billion last year. Adjusted for one-time charges, its loss was $887 million.

Sears has been selling assets, most recently its Craftsman tool brand. But it says its pension agreements may prevent the spin-off of more businesses, potentially leading to a shortfall in funding.


Fattest Cities in America

With March being National Nutrition Month and Americans collectively spending up to $315.8 billion annually on obesity-related medical treatment, the personal-finance website WalletHub took an in-depth look at 2017's Fattest Cities in America.

In order to call attention to the communities where weight-related problems are most prevalent, WalletHub’s analysts compared 100 of the most populated U.S. metro areas across 17 key metrics. The data set range from share of obese adults to share of overweight children to projected obesity rates by 2030.

Top 10 Fattest Cities in America:  1. Jackson, Ms.; 2. Memphis Tn.; 3. Little Rock, Ar.; 4. McAllen, Tx.; 5. Shreveport, La.; 6. Chattanooga, Tn.; 7. Mobile, Al.; 8. Lafayette, La.; 9. Winston, NC.; 10. Knoxville, Tn.

 Most of the country can expect very little threat of flooding this Spring, with some notable exceptions. Rod Bain reports.

News for Wednesday, March 22

National Ag Week - Future of Agriculture in the Hands of Students

National Ag Day is about recognizing - and celebrating - the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives.  Americans pay a comparatively smaller portion of their take-home pay for food than people do in other countries.....

The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. This is particularly the case in our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.

By building awareness, the Agriculture Council of America is encouraging young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture.

Each American farmer feeds more than 144 people ... a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more - and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.

The future of Arkansas agriculture is in the hands of students. Across the U.S., job opening and career opportunities in the agriculture industry greatly outnumber the amount of qualified graduates. In Arkansas, several esteemed colleges and universities offer a variety of programs and degrees to prepare students for careers in all aspects of the industry.

Whether interested in traditional production agriculture or business, economics and communications, employers can be sure that Arkansas graduates are well equipped for success.

We'd like to thank our local sponsors this week for Ag Week coverage.  They include Thurman & Flanagin, Shumaker Tire, Montgomery Whiteley Realty, St. Francis Vet Clinic, Amerigas, Hart's Family Center, Williams Tractor, SunFest Market, Reliable Poultry, Carroll County Cattlemen's Association, Jackson Insurance Agency, Warren Welding & Generators and Midwest Equipment Rental & Sales.


Berryville City Council Report - Mayor Worried About USDA Rural Water Project

The Berryville City Council met Tuesday with all aldermen present, along with Mayor Tim McKinney and City Attorney Clint Scheel.

Under new business:

The council approved a resolution expressing the willingness of the City of Berryville to utilize Federal-Aid Transportation Alternatives Program funds.The 80/20 grant would extend the sidewalks on Freeman Street all the way to the city cemetery and location of the new soccer fields to be developed.

Council approved the Mayor to vacate an undeveloped portion of Rose Avenue via a Quit Claim Deed, for the Joetta Littrell property.  The BV Planning and Zoning Commission also had approved the vacate of approximately 1/3 of an acre.

Berryville Police Chief Robert Bartos gave the February Monthly report of Police Activity.  142 citations were written and 49 offenses reported.  Ten of those offenses were thefts and a variety of others.  Traffic accidents totaled 17 in February, most of those for following too close, failure to yield and improper backing.

The Monthly Financial Report showed the 1% sales tax received in February was $128,858 and the 1/2% dedicated sales tax received $64,429. 

Mayor McKinney, at the end of the meeting, told Council he was worried about the proposed Trump budget with major slashes to programs like the USDA.  He said he hopes USDA and the Arkansas Natural Resources Council already had the money in the bank for the rural water project, of which 300 people have signed up. He is going to inquire to those agencies and see if the city can continue with the plans.


Some School Boards Ceasing Prayer Before Meeting

Two northern Arkansas school boards have temporarily ceased prayer before meetings.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports Springdale and Harrison boards are researching the legality of the public prayers after receiving a letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin. The foundation monitors matters regarding separation of church and state.

The foundation sent a letter to Springdale on Dec. 29 and to Harrison on March 6, saying public prayers before board meetings violated the U.S. Constitution.

Harrison Board of Education president Jon Burnside says the issue will likely be addressed at the next board meeting April 18. The board didn't pray before their meeting Thursday.

Springdale School Board president Randy Hutchinson says the board stopped praying at the end of 2016. He says the board will investigate the matter and move forward based on their findings.


Second Tennessee Farm Tests Positive for Avian Influenza

A second Tennessee chicken farm that has a contract with Tyson Foods has tested positive for avian influenza.

According to a Tyson press release the farm is located in Lincoln County, Tennessee. This is the same county where another breeder farm, also contracted with Tyson, tested positive for the bird flu on March 4.

Tyson is working with the U.S. and Tennessee departments of agriculture to contain the flu, and will euthanize the flock of 55,000 chickens, according to a UDSA news release. The USDA quarantined the property and all poultry farms within about a 6-mile radius will be tested for the flu.

Tyson will not transport or use any flocks from the area unless they test negative for the flu, the release states. The company does not expect the flu to impact its production.

This strain of avian flu, H7N9, does not affect humans. However, flocks affected by the highly contagious poultry disease have several illnesses and higher mortality rates.


Bill to Ban Medical Marijuana Edibles Fails in Arkansas House

The bill to ban medical marijuana edibles failed despite receiving over half of the House of Representatives' votes.

The change to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana amendment would've banned edibles from being manufactured, sold, purchased or exchanged in Arkansas, but patients prescribed medical marijuana, or their caregivers, could still put it in their food or drink.

The bill received 52 votes, but needed two-thirds of a house majority to pass.


House Votes to Move State's Primary to March - Senate May Be Tough Sell

The Arkansas House has voted to permanently move the state's primary from May to March, but the idea faces an uphill battle in the Senate where the move has already been rejected.

The bill approved by the House by a 73-10 vote would move the state's primary to the first Tuesday in March. Lawmakers voted to temporarily move the state's primary last year to that date as part of an effort among southeastern state to create a regional nominating contest for the presidential election.

Supporters of the move have said it helped raise Arkansas' profile and should become permanent. However, a similar proposal failed in the Senate earlier this year after opponents said it would effectively lead to non-stop political campaigns in the state.


AKC Top Dog for 2016

Labrador retrievers are top dog again for 2016.

The American Kennel Club released their rankings for the top purebred breeds in the United States on Tuesday.

For the 26th consecutive year, Labrador retrievers are No. 1. As a breed, Labrador retrievers are loyal, good at hunting, friendly and easily trainable, according to the AKC.

“The Lab is such a versatile dog that it’s no wonder it makes a great companion for a variety of lifestyles. Keep your eye on the Rottweiler, though. It’s been quietly winning hearts over the past decade,” said AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo in a news release.

The Rottweiler’s lands at No. 8 on this list, the highest ranking since 1997 when it reached No. 2.

Coming in at No. 2 is the German shepherd, followed by the golden retriever. The rest of the list in order: bulldogs, beagles, French bulldogs, poodles, the aforementioned Rottweiler, Yorkshire terriers, and the boxer.

The American Kennel Club is a nonprofit organization and a registry for purebred dogs. They also hold agility events and dog shows across the country.

News for Tuesday, March 21

National Ag Day Today, March 21st

A reminder that National Ag Day 2017 is today, March 21st.   National Ag Day falls during National Ag Week, March 19-25, 2017. 

All of us can learn how farming plays a role in every aspect of our lives through programs like National Ag Day...

Ag Day is a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Every year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture.

The Agriculture Council of America hosts the campaign on a national level. However, the awareness efforts in communities across America are as influential - if not more - than the broad-scale effort. Again this year, the Ag Day Planning Guide has been created to help communities and organizations more effectively host Ag Day events.

The Agriculture Council of America and its supporters are committed to increasing public awareness about American agriculture. As the world population soars, there is even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.

The National Ag Day program believes that every American should:

  • understand how food, fiber and renewable resource products are produced.
  • value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, fiber and renewable resource industries.

We'd like to thank our local sponsors this week for Ag Week coverage.  They include Thurman & Flanagin, Shumaker Tire, Montgomery Whiteley Realty, St. Francis Vet Clinic, Amerigas, Hart's Family Center, Williams Tractor, SunFest Market, Reliable Poultry, Carroll County Cattlemen's Association, Jackson Insurance Agency, Warren Welding & Generators and Midwest Equipment Rental & Sales.


Driver Dies After Hitting Two Pedestrians at Roger's Walmart

An elderly driver has died after an accident that left two pedestrians with life-threatening injuries Sunday afternoon.

It happened around 5 p.m outside the Rogers Walmart store.

Fredrick Guidry, 79, driving a Ford Focus, struck the two pedestrians with his car before running into a pole. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The pedestrians have been identified as Joshua Smith and Ashley Grishby, both 27.

Police say they were both flown to a Springfield, MO hospital and were in critical condition.


Arkansas Lawmakers Approve Photo I.D. to Vote

Arkansas lawmakers approved a measure Monday requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, sending to the governor's desk a requirement that was struck down as unconstitutional more than two years ago.

The House, which had already approved a previous version of the legislation, signed off on changes added by the Senate that allow voters without identification to cast a provisional ballot if they sign a sworn statement. There was no debate on the House floor about the changes added by the Senate.

The Arkansas Legislature enacted a similar voter ID law in 2013, but the measure was struck by the state Supreme Court the following year. The bill was aimed at addressing some justices' argument that the restriction needed two-thirds legislative approval.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which successfully challenged the 2013 law, opposes the measure and says it will closely monitor what happens after the requirement is put in place. If signed into law, the measure will take effect 90 days after the Legislature formally adjourns, which is expected to happen in May.


Arkansas Legislature Approves Separating Lee and King's Birthdays

Arkansas lawmakers gave final approval to legislation removing Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The state House approved the proposal with a 66-11 vote and sent it to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had urged lawmakers to end the dual holiday. Five representatives voted present, effectively voting no on the bill. Once the bill is signed into law, Mississippi and Alabama will be the only states that honor Lee and King on the same day.

The bill sets aside the second Saturday in October to honor Lee with a memorial day, not a state holiday, marked by a gubernatorial proclamation. It also expands what is taught in schools about the Civil War and civil rights.

Hutchinson, who promised last year to push for ending the dual holiday, made the unusual move of testifying in front of two separate legislative committees this month to speak in support of the proposal. Hutchinson told the panel that King deserved his own day of recognition, and that ending the dual holiday would be a healing moment for the state.


Keep Arkansas Beautiful Spring Clean-up

Arkansans statewide are encouraged to beautify their communities by coordinating a cleanup in the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup.  The spring cleanup campaign is coordinated and promoted by the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission (KAB) and runs from March 20 through May 31.

All Arkansans are encouraged to get involved in this effort to improve the environmental quality and standard of living in communities across the state and nation.  Last year's Great American Cleanup featured 160 local events across the state involving nearly 7,000 Arkansans, who picked up more than 290,000 pounds of litter and collected over 839,000 pounds of bulky waste, from roughly 780 miles of roadway and waterway.

The Great American Cleanup is an excellent opportunity for Arkansans to make a positive impact on the environment, the state and their local communities. All Arkansans are encouraged to participate by coordinating a cleanup and helping preserve and sustain the natural state of Arkansas.

Those who would like to coordinate an event in their community or volunteer for a local event can register at
www.KeepArkansasBeautiful.com or email info@keeparkansasbeautiful.com.  KAB will also provide clean-up materials and supplies, such as T-shirts, trash bags, gloves and safety vests to local events, while supplies last.


Wild Wilderness Safari in Gentry Deny Violating USDA Regulations

The manager of Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari in Gentry denies allegations of violating U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations.

Leon Wilmoth told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette he's addressed issues raised in the January complaint and is improving the property.

The complaint notes a 7-month old lion died when it hanged itself on its leash while trying to jump a fence.  It also lists inadequate veterinary care, including a spider monkey that lost the tips of fingers from frostbite and expired medications and says the safari paid a $3,094 fine to resolve similar violations in 2008 and received an official warning in 2012 for violating regulations.

USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said the Safari is to answer the complaint and an administrative law judge will determine what, if any action shoud be taken.

News for Monday, March 20

National Agriculture Week Being Observed

This week is National Agriculture Week and we will be highlighting this event on KTHS News this week.  Numerous local sponsors will be bringing you some informative and timely information and published articles about Agriculture in Arkansas.

National Ag Week runs from March 20-24, and it’s a great time to promote the people behind the food and fiber we often take for granted of. National Ag Week is about recognizing and celebrating how agriculture impacts our everyday lives and the many ways people rely on the food, fiber and renewable resources farmers and ranchers produce.

As the state’s No. 1 industry, agriculture is crucial to Arkansas’s economy. More than 44,000 farms spread across 13.8 million acres annually contribute more than $20 billion to the Natural State. That’s nearly one quarter of the state’s economic activity. Additionally, Arkansas agriculture provides jobs for one of every six citizens.

Arkansas ranks in the top three nationally for broilers, catfish and several other commodities, as well as fifth in timber production, eighth in egg production, and 10th for soybean and grain sorghum production. If that’s not impressive enough, the state is actually ranked nationally in the top 25 in production of 23 different agricultural commodities.

While the crops are important, it’s really the men and women behind the tractor that keep Arkansas agriculture strong. Arkansas has just under 69,000 farmers. Many grew up on the farm, and are continuing to carry on the family tradition. In fact, 77 percent of Arkansas farmers have been operating for 10 years or more.

The Arkansas Agriculture Department is working to promote the state’s agriculture, both at home and abroad. With the innovation and knowledge of Arkansas’s farmers, growers and producers, the state’s industry is poised for even more success.

We'd like to thank our local sponsors this week for Ag Week coverage.  They include Thurman & Flanagin, Shumaker Tire, Montgomery Whiteley Realty, St. Francis Vet Clinic, Amerigas, Hart's Family Center, Williams Tractor, SunFest Market, Reliable Poultry, Carroll County Cattlemen's Association, Jackson Insurance Agency, Warren Welding & Generators and Midwest Equipment Rental & Sales.


Huntsville Man Killed in 3-Vehicle Crash

A Huntsville man was killed Friday and two people were injured in a three-vehicle crash on Arkansas 45 in Washington County, according to a state police report.

A 2002 Chevrolet Silverado driven by a 17-year-old was eastbound on the highway, when the pickup crossed the centerline and hit a westbound 1995 Ford F150 driven by Billy Gene Keys, 52, of Huntsville. The F150 overturned, and Keys was killed, according to the report.

After the Silverado hit the oncoming pickup, a 2014 Nissan Altima that was traveling west hit the Silverado, state police said.

The driver of the Altima, 27-year-old Alexander Noel Barksdale of Huntsville, and the teenage driver of the Silverado were both injured, according to the report, which did not identify the teen.


Chili Cook-off - "Have a Seat for a Veteran"

​A Chili Cook-off and Live Auction to Benefit Veterans Health Care System of the Ozark Voluntary Service is coming up this Saturday, March 25th, at the American Legion Post 9 near Holiday Island at the intersection of Hwy. 23North and Hwy. 187.  Veteran Bob Grudek has more information on the unique event.........

Cook-off: 5:00PM
Chair Auction: 6:30PM - "Have a Seat for a Veteran", Auctioning Painted Chairs by Local Artists In Honor of our POW/MIA's
Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door
Contact: Peggy Duncan @ (501) 554-5638 or Mike Warkentin @ (479) 330-0728


Christie Taylor Named Cornerstone's Harrison Branch Manager

Charles T. Cross, President & CEO, Cornerstone Bank, has announced the hiring of Ms. Christie Taylor to the position of Branch Manager for the bank’s entry into Harrison, Arkansas. She will oversee Cornerstone’s deposit services staff for the entire market. Ms. Taylor joins the growing Northwest Arkansas based financial institution after serving the last 17 years at Anstaff Bank in Harrison.

Cross stated, “It is always exciting to bring tenured and capable bankers such as Christie into your bank family. I know she will be a fantastic addition to what is shaping up to be a top notch bank team to serve the Harrison and Boone County area. Her commitment to an exceptional level of personal service within a true community bank environment is welcomed by our institution and will be embraced by our client base as we establish a presence within the market.”

Ms. Taylor, along with her fiancé, Carl Campbell reside in Harrison. She is a lifelong resident of the area, having graduated from Lead Hill High School.

Cornerstone Bank plans to open its temporary facility in Harrison on March 27th at the corner of Hwy 65 and Forward Drive while they construct their permanent facility at the corner of U.S. 65 and Wal-Mart Drive. This will be the bank’s sixth location in Northwest Arkansas and first within Boone County.


Vehicle Involved in February Drowning Pulled from Beaver Lake

The Benton County Dive Team helped the Washington County Sheriff's Office Dive Team pull out a car from Beaver Lake.  The car was involved in a fatal drowning that happened in February.

Deputies say Clifford Collins, 16, was inside a vehicle when his family stopped to look at the view over a bluff on Saddle Shop Lane, near the spot where Highway 412 crosses the lake, east of Springdale.

According to a post on the sheriff's office Facebook page, "The Washington County Sheriff's Office Dive Team and Benton County Dive Team decided to take advantage of the warm day today and planned to raise the vehicle from the lake that was involved in the drowning a month ago.

Deputies say the vehicle had been having maintenance issues and started to roll with Clifford still inside. It rolled off the bluff.  The area of the lake where the car is submerged is 40 feet deep, deputies said.


Arkansas House Approves Ban of Smoking Medical Marijuana

The Arkansas House has approved legislation to ban the smoking of medical marijuana in places where tobacco smoking is also prohibited.  It now heads to the State Senate for consideration.

The bill would also ban smoking prescription pot in the presence of someone under the age of 14 inside a vehicle and in the presence of a pregnant woman.

The measure also prohibits people under 21 from smoking medical marijuana.


Missouri House Passes Bill to Expand Charter Schools

The Missouri House has passed a bill that could allow charter schools to expand to more districts.

With an 83-76 vote on Thursday, the House passed a proposal that would allow charters to operate in more heavily-populated districts such as Springfield and Columbia. It would also allow charters to move into districts with at least one low-performing school.

Opponents say the proposal takes money away from underfunded public schools and gives the money to privately-operated charters with less accountability.

House Speaker Todd Richardson said the proposal ensures accountability by allowing the state to revoke a charter's renewal application for low performance. He said it also allows more choice for kids zoned to low-performing schools.

The legislation now moves to the Senate.


Branson Aldermen Calm Worries Regarding New Boating Attraction

Worries from community members regarding a possible new boating attraction on Lake Taneycomo were examined by Branson aldermen during a recent study session.

Planning and Development Director Joel Hornickel said the department received several phone calls from concerned community members regarding Branson Jet Boats.

Branson Jet Boats is scheduled to open this summer by developer Mark Ruda. He and his father, Dan, own The Runaway Mountain Coaster, which opened in August 2016. The boating attraction will be based out of the Branson Landing where customers will be taken on a historical tour of Lake Taneycomo with additional boat maneuvers and twists for enjoyment.

The Landing’s master plan allows multiple boat docks, according to Hornickel. The next question was if a building permit is needed for the attraction, and Hornickel said since there is no utility connection between the dock and the shore, no building permit is necessary.

News for Friday, March 17

Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Saint Patrick's Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, and the wearing of green attire orshamrocks.

Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival, particularly those that developed in North America. In recent years, there has been criticism of Saint Patrick's Day celebrations for having become too commercialized and for fostering negative stereotypes of the Irish.


BVHS Capstone Project

Also called a senior exhibition, among many other terms, a capstone project is a multifaceted assignment that serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience for students, typically during their final year of high school or middle school, or at the end of an academic program or learning-pathway experience. While similar in some ways to a college thesis, capstone projects may take a wide variety of forms, but most are long-term investigative projects that culminate in a final product, presentation, or performance.

A multi-cultural event has been planned for this Sunday at the Sonic Field in Berryville.  Some students came into our studio to tell us more about it......

Another Capstone project is taking place Saturday at the Berryville fields.  It's a Ragball Tournament with proceeds going to Make-A-Wish.  Eleven teams have signed up for that and it begins at 9am with a silent auction at 3pm.


Berryville's Baylea Smith Selected by AAA to All State Basketball

The Arkansas Activities Association has released the 2017 All State Basketball selections.  These selections were made by each member school's conference coaches and Berryville Lady Bobcat Baylea Smith received the special recognition.

Baylea Smith, a 5'6" sophomore guard, helped lead Berryville to a 22-12 record this year, which included a 1-4A District tournament championship, a 4A North Regional tournament championship, and a state 4A tournament final four appearance.  Smith was also a starter on last year's team that made the final four of state.  Congratulations to Baylea Smith for 4A basketball All State honors!


Arkansas Legislature News

A bill that would have required every firefighter in the state to have access to an industrial washer-extractor machine to clean turnout gear failed for a second time Wednesday, this time by only one vote.

The bill, House Bill 1758, failed last week in a first vote in the Arkansas House. Supporters have said it would help with safety concerns in hazardous areas while opponents have said the requirement would have hurt smaller fire departments.   According to the bill, if a department did not comply with that, their state funding would be at risk.

The Arkansas State Firefighter Association was upset with that decision because they want all firefighters to have clean and safe gear.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, would have given each department until 2022 to buy a washer or sign a local agreement to use another department’s washer in the county.


APSC to Give Credit to Utility Customers Who Contribute Energy to the Grid

The Arkansas Public Service Commission has decided customers who now get credit on their utility bills for electricity they generate at their homes and businesses will be able to continue at current rates for 20 years.

The Arkansas Business reports the commission determined last week that existing customers will be "grandfathered in" to the accounting process that gives utility customers the ability to get credit for the amount of energy they contribute to the grid.

The state Legislature has assigned the commission to revise the state's rules on net metering, which lets consumers offset up to 100 percent of their electric bills.

The commission's decision is the first of two it will make for on-site generation.

The commission will also determine potential rate changes after an examination of costs and benefits of on-site electricity generation.


ADEM Acquiring Tornado Warning Policies from Around the State

When severe weather strikes, people rely on tornado sirens to give them an advanced warning to the approaching danger.

The policies on when to sound that advanced warning varies from county to county and from city to city.

Some counties sound sirens countywide like in Pulaski County or sector as officials do in Saline County.

Then you have an area where sirens are only in certain areas, such as Van Buren County.

During the storm on March 1, strong winds damaged property and knocked out power. Some said they wish they would have had some warnings.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management is now working to get tornado siren policies from every city and county in the state. The agency would then create a place where residents could access that information.

The best practice right now is to know the policy in your city or county.


March is National Nutrition Month.

Here in the state of Arkansas, The Alliance For a Healthier Generation says one in three is overweight or obese. As for adults, the 2016 profile for Arkansas by the Center for Disease Control states almost 36% of the Natural State's adult population is obese. According to America's Health Rankings' 2016 report, Arkansas ranks 45th out of the 50 states when it comes to obesity.

It's a ranking nutritionist Jill Turley looks to improve on. She travels across the United States working with The Alliance For a Healthier Generation, a nonprofit focused on addressing the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. According to Turley, it's easier to teach kids at an early age to love healthy foods. She says the best way to shift toward a healthier lifestyle is through gradual changes. She suggests focusing on one change a week and says getting the kids involved can get them more excited to try new foods.

According to the CDC, 28% of adults in Arkansas reported eating vegetables less than one time daily. Turley says trying to get green vegetables in your diet twice a week is a great way to kick-start healthy eating.


Unfamiliar Area Codes Could Be Scam

Be careful if an unfamiliar area code calls your cell phone. That's a warning from the Federal Trade Commission.

A scam that targets your cell phone is popping back up, and can really dent your wallet.

It's called the "one ring" cell phone scam.

Here is how it works: scammers dial your cell phone and let it ring just once so it appears that you have a missed call. They hope you call back and if you do, expect to get a per-minute charge at an international rate. For one popular carrier it can be $1.99 per minute to one of the identified area codes.

The calls are from phone numbers that look like they're an area code in the U.S. but really it's an international phone number. There are 10 area codes that the FTC is warning people to be on the look out for: 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829 and 876.

Looking up a few of the numbers on the country calling code identified countries such as Jamaica, Antigua/Barbuda and Dominican Republic.

There is no danger in getting the call; the danger is when you answer or call back.

The FTC advises people to read their phone bill often and if you don't recognize a charge, contact your carrier. If you fall victim to the scam, contact your carrier. If that doesn't work, file a complaint with the FCC.


News provided by News Director Linda Boyer