Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

David Ussery Dorothy Graves
Visanu Wanchai

On this month's edition of Science Cafe, a discussion on the role of microbiome bacteria on the immune system, potential infections and overall human health.

David Ussery, Ph.D., a professor for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and director of the Arkansas Center for Genomic Epidemiology, join host Dorothy Graves for the program.

Little Rock Nine 9
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, joined Tueday (May 23) with civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont to introduce legislation expanding boundaries of the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.

This expansion would mean seven homes located near Little Rock Central High School would be included in the school’s national historic site designation and preserved by the National Park Service. The legislation is being introduced ahead of the city’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine in September.

The trial of a former Arkansas state senator and two others on corruption charges is being delayed.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that a federal judge in Fayetteville on Tuesday postponed the trial of Republican former Sen. Jon Woods, Ecclesia College President Oren Paris III and consultant Randell Shelton Jr. until Dec. 4. Prosecutors say the investigation continues and more indictments are expected.

The judge also rejected Paris' request that he be tried separately in the case.

Rusti Barger, a stay-at-home mom of six, delivered her first two babies in the local hospital. When she became pregnant a third time in 1999, she and her husband David, from rural Faulkner County, chose to have a home birth. They hired a midwife who instructed her to undergo a state-mandated medical risk assessment. Barger made an appointment at the county public health clinic. And that’s where, she says, things went awry. 

Physician assistants don’t have the same level of education as a doctor but do many of the same things, but they're being credited with helping to fill some of the scheduling gaps that have long been a problem in rural Arkansas.

Supporters of the profession say physician assistants can help with writing prescriptions for common illnesses, setting simple fractures and assisting with long-term management for illnesses such as diabetes.  Physician assistants were also the highest level of medical professional to attend the recent executions in Arkansas.

Each month, Arkansas Works, the state’s Medicaid expansion program which provides health coverage for low income residents, refers new and renewed enrollees in the program to the Department of Workforce Services. The Arkansas Department of Human Services issued a report Monday on the number of enrollees referred to employment services this year. 

In the first quarter of the year 144,716 referrals were made. According to the report from DHS, the number of people actually acting on those referrals rose from 628 in January to 2,792 in April.

City of Monticello / City of Monticello

In the aftermath of the resignation of Monticello’s mayor, two of the city’s former mayors are in a special runoff election to see which of them will complete the remaining 18 months of the term.

In January, Zack Tucker resigned as mayor and pleaded guilty to abuse of office after misusing city funds. David Anderson, a Democrat, and Joe Rogers, an Independent, and are both vying to fill the position and become the city’s 8th mayor since 2014.

Harold Coggins, the editor of the Advance Monticellonian newspaper, covers local politics.

UAMS campus carry guns
Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Ahead of a new law taking effect in September that expands places where people can carry firearms, schools that want to prohibit concealed handguns are working with state police to get exemptions.

Institutions seeking to ban concealed weapons from certain areas and events must send a security plan to be approved by Arkansas State Police.

The plan calls for schools to have enhanced security measures in place should they choose to opt out of the bill. One institution seeking to restrict concealed carry is the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

Preserve Arkansas, which each year releases a list of 10 most endangered places, has released its list for 2017.  

From the group's press release:

Cemeteries, Burial Grounds, and Graveyards
Statewide

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has been approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing to bring back its pre-licensure nursing program.

The Pine Bluff Commercial reports the university's approval for the program, which extends through 2020, is the final step before accreditation. 

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