​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​News for Friday, March 24

National Ag Week - Future of Ag Belongs to Students Now

The days of sitting in rows of desks listening to a teacher drone on are past. Education today is progressively moving forward to become more hands-on and project- oriented. While some may believe this new path is a bit too radical, agricultural education programs have been on this track for more than half a century.

Agricultural education works to prepare students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources system, according to the Agricultural Education mission. This is achieved by blending classroom education with leadership opportunities and hands-on learning projects. While agricultural education is most often associated with the National FFA Organization, Arkansas hosts many agricultural education opportunities.

Two strong programs for Arkansas youth are the Arkansas 4-H program and the Arkansas FFA Association. The University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Services maintains the state’s 4-H program. This program allows youth to learn leadership, citizenship and everyday skills as well as receiving mentoring from community members.

Another educational option for youth is the Arkansas FFA Association. This organization works to promote premiere leadership, personal growth and career success in its members. Students can take on leadership roles through serving on an officer team and advocating for agriculture to community members, younger students and their peers. Arkansas FFA members can also develop the ability to think critically, communicate clearly and perform effectively in the competitive job market through experiences in career development events. The skills students gain through this organization better prepare them for future careers in agriculture.

Chris Adams is the Alpena FFA advisor.............

Agricultural education programs, similar to the ones at Arkansas State University, are working dutifully to prepare youth for future careers in agriculture. The combination of Arkansas 4-H, the Arkansas FFA Association and agricultural education programs through higher education is providing Arkansas youth a bright future and setting students up with a solid foundation in agriculture.

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.


Butler Accepts Plea Agreement to Second Degree Murder

Christopher Kevin Butler, 44, of Eureka Springs, was initially charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the Feb. 19, 2016, shooting death of John Catlin Keck, 30, also of Eureka Springs. Butler pleaded innocent to those charges and accepted a plea agreement Thursday in Carroll County Circuit Court to second-degree murder.

Butler pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and committing a terroristic act. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, with 19 years suspended, according to the agreement. He also was given credit for the 397 days he spent in the Carroll County jail in Berryville.

Butler told police he shot Keck in self-defense, believing that Keck had a gun. Then Butler planted a pistol in his own Jeep near Keck's body, according to an affidavit of probable cause from Jerry Reddick, an investigator with the Carroll County sheriff's office.

Butler's public defender, Joseph Tobler, filed a motion to suppress comments to police before the case went to trial, but Carroll County Circuit Judge Scott Jackson denied that request.

The shooting occurred in a rural area about 2 miles north of Eureka Springs. Butler told police that he didn't know Keck.


Potential for Severe Weather

Potentially severe storms packing damaging winds, large hail and possibly tornadoes are in the forecast for parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas heading into the weekend.

The National Weather Service says thunderstorms will develop Friday and move east across Oklahoma, causing storms that could produce damaging winds and heavy rainfall.

Forecasters say the line of strong to severe storms will reach Arkansas by late Friday afternoon and evening and sweep across the state.

The weather service says some storms that develop in Arkansas could pack damaging winds, large hail and possibly a few tornadoes.

Storm chances will decrease Saturday before picking up again in parts of Oklahoma by Sunday.


State Senate Exempts Concealed Handguns at Stadiums and Arenas

The Arkansas Senate has voted to exempt college sporting events from a new law greatly expanding where concealed handguns are allowed, moving quickly to address concerns that the sweeping gun rights measure would lead to armed spectators at stadiums and arenas.

The Senate on Thursday voted 22-10 to add the exemption to the measure signed into law a day earlier by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The new law allows people with a concealed handgun to carry at colleges, some bars, government buildings and even the state Capitol if they undergo up to eight hours of active shooter training.

The bill, which heads to the House, also exempts the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the state hospital.

A sponsor of the expanded gun rights law opposed the move, saying it would undermine the measure.


Bill to Expand Internet Broadband Service Advances

A House committee advanced a bill to subsidize the expansion of Internet broadband service in the state even though several broadband providers oppose the bill.

House Bill 2099 by Rep. Stephen Meeks, R-Greenbrier, was approved by the House Advanced Communications and Information Technology Committee on Wednesday without dissent. It heads to the full House.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, is a co-sponsor. Meeks said the bill was the result of a promise Gillam made in 2015 to look for a way to connect every home and business to high-speed Internet.

The bill would establish a new incentive program to be run by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Meeks said there aren't plans to fund the program this legislative session, but it could be funded with surplus money in the future.

The program would be designed to use a process known as a reverse auction to stem any losses incurred by a private company in areas underserved or lacking access to broadband. Companies would provide competing bids for a chance to receive the funds in a given area.

New York is using a similar mechanism to try to provide broadband to everyone in that state.

But telecommunications providers at Wednesday's meeting said the measure could put millions of federal funding dollars at risk.


Wal-Mart To Develop in Chile

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Chilean unit will invest $800 million in the country over the next three years and open 55 to 60 new supermarkets, the company said on Wednesday, a significant outlay at a time of slow economic growth.

As part of the plan, the retail and supermarket chain will also remodel over 50 stores, add more than 5,000 jobs, and further develop a large distribution center near the capital city of Santiago.

"We are confident in the future potential of the country, and we are convinced that spaces exist to continue expanding our low-cost model," Walmart Chile general manager Horacio Barbeito said in a statement.

"Both in the high and low moments of the economic cycle, consumers are always interested in using their budget efficiently, and this will continue being our focus."

Chile's economy has struggled in recent years amid low prices for key export copper and lagging business confidence. Gross domestic product in the fourth quarter contracted 0.4 percent from the prior quarter, worse than forecast, and first-quarter 2017 figures will be affected by a work stoppage at Chile's largest mine.

In its statement, Wal-Mart said the expansion plan will focus on medium-sized stores, such as the company's Express de Lider and Super Bodega aCuenta formats.


Breast Implants Suspects in Rare Blood Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it has received reports of 9 deaths and more than 350 cases of a rare blood cancer linked to breast implants.

The FDA said Tuesday it now agrees with the World Health Organization, which concluded years ago this type of lymphoma can develop following breasts implants.

Concerns were first raised at the FDA in 2011, but the agency said then that there were too few cases to know if there was a connection.

The disease seems to occur more often with textured implants in the scar tissue near the implant and is associated with pain and swelling sometimes years after the surgery has healed.

The FDA said it can't determine how many cases there are, but noted Australia has also reported three deaths.

News provided by News Director Linda Boyer