Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin in early June pronounced the American veterans health care system to be in “critical condition.” 
 
One northwest Arkansas VA hospital, however, appears to be thriving, and that prompted U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R-3rd District) to invite Shulkin to take a look.

After an early morning tour of the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville Monday, Shulkin, at a press conference on the grounds, characterized the forested campus facility as extraordinary.

 
 “It is a five-star facility. That means it is the very top of performance across the country in VA’s.”
 

Applications are now available for those who want to sell or grow medical marijuana in Arkansas under a new constitutional amendment legalizing the drug for some patients.

The Medical Marijuana Commission on Monday posted the applications for licenses to operate medical marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries. The commission is expected to accept applications from June 30 to Sept. 18.

The United States Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Alabama death row inmate has the right to a mental health evaluation from a neutral party. Previously, such evaluations were done by doctors within state government. 

In April, Arkansas inmates Don Davis and Bruce Ward were granted stays of execution after asking for such independent evaluations.

Earthquakes in northern Arkansas are being linked to the weight of extra water at a flood-swollen reservoir.

Earthquake geologist David Johnston works with the Arkansas Geological Survey. He says the added weight of the water at Bulls Shoals Lake likely triggered 10 earthquakes over five days last week near Harrison, a city about 140 miles north of Little Rock.

Johnston says the reservoir's water level has risen 42 feet because of rainfall since March 1.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of an Alabama inmate who complained that he didn't have an independent mental health expert to help him try to stave off a death sentence at his trial.

The justices divided 5-4 Monday in siding with inmate James McWilliams. He did not have his own expert when he was convicted of raping and killing a convenience store clerk in Tuscaloosa.

The justices had previously decided that poor defendants whose mental health might be a factor in the criminal charges they are facing have a right to an expert's evaluation.

At a brainstorming session after school recently at district headquarters, a group of black school employees sit around a U-shaped table discussing how to become principals. Coach Shawn Burgess, head of human resources at the Pulaski County Special School District, speaks to two women in the room who recently interviewed for leadership positions and didn’t get the job.

“And it’s not what you did wrong, per se. It’s about, ‘When is it my time?’” she said.

“That’s right. Um-hmm. That’s it,” echo the staff.

For the past several years, Beth Ditto was known as the dynamic frontwoman of the dance-punk band Gossip. She established herself as a singer with a helluva voice who embraced being queer, feminist and fat.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A maligned but crucial row crop herbicide that’s led to disputes among neighbors and at least one class action lawsuit could be on its way toward becoming banned in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Plant Board Pesticide Committee voted Friday to recommend a ban on the sale and use of dicamba for the state’s row crops. Farmers spray dicamba on a specific genetically resistant soybean variety, produced by Monsanto. Misuse and wind drift in recent months has led to the herbicide impacting fields and damaging non-genetically resistant agricultural crops in the eastern part of the state.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, fiercely maintaining he did nothing wrong in meeting twice with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during President Trump's 2016 campaign and also infuriating Democrats by refusing to detail any conversations he has had with the president.

I arrived at Riverside Park in Batesville where white nationalists were gathering for an anti-Shariah law demonstration, and took a few minutes to gather my thoughts and nerve before I approached them.  I had never covered a race rally before and wasn't sure what to expect.  It felt unpredictable.

"This probably isn't the safest part of your job, is it?" said Jordan Gould, one of the day's counterprotesters, who offered to jump in his car and lead me to the other side of the White River when my GPS couldn't find the way. My colleague, KASU-89.1 news director Johnathan Reaves, stayed behind to cover the counter-protest, and it was my job to obtain interviews from Billy Roper and his band of white nationalists.

The task  was to obtain both some audio and some personal understanding of the rally members' agenda.  My guide wished me luck and left, and I took a few minutes to observe the white nationalists before approaching them.

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