Gov. Mike Beebe has named Nathaniel Smith as director and state health officer for the Arkansas Department of Health.
Beebe on Friday announced that he was naming Smith permanently to the position. Smith has been serving as interim director since February, when Paul Halverson left the post to take a job in Indiana. Halverson had served as director since 2005.
Beebe said in a news release that Smith had proven himself to be a steady and knowledgeable leader since taking over the post on an interim basis.
A consultant has been hired by Central Arkansas Water to assess possible vulnerabilities in the Maumelle Watershed caused by ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline.
Tectonic Engineering and Surveying Consultants was awarded a 160 thousand dollar contract to evaluate the consequences of the physical damage to the pipeline, which crosses through the watershed. The third party consultants are necessary to ensure the safety and integrity of the water supply. Central Arkansas Water Protection Manager John Tynan says the assessment will provide information still needed regarding the pipeline.
Arkansas voters could potentially see multiple attempts to legalize medical marijuana on the ballot next year. Two groups are vying to put similar proposed initiated acts before voters in 2014.
This week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel certified the popular name and ballot title of a proposal from Arkansans for Responsible Medicine. That organization plans to start gathering signatures in an attempt to qualify for a spot on next year's ballot.
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Curtis Coleman is criticizing rival Asa Hutchinson's proposal to phase out Arkansas' income tax as "short-sighted," and says a broader look at the state's tax structure is needed.
Coleman told members of the Political Animals Club on Thursday that cutting the income tax isn't enough to make Arkansas competitive with surrounding states.
Coleman said he thinks cutting the state's corporate income tax and eliminating its capital gains tax are also necessary.
A class action lawsuit by two Pulaski County residents claims the Arkansas Lottery misrepresented the number of prizes being awarded during a time period when a former lottery official was being investigated for allegedly stealing thousands of tickets.
Former security official Remmele Mazyck pleaded guilty last month in federal court to stealing nearly a half million dollars worth of promotional tickets, which he activated, then claimed the winning ones.
Some areas in north Arkansas lost residences, bridges, and electricity as a result of heavy rains and flooding Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Much of the damage is limited to Benton County where the County Judge has declared it a disaster area.
Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Information Officer Tommy Jackson said multiple rescue efforts were needed.
“Those were around residences. There were some swift water, some successful swift water rescues, pulled off during the night and early morning in north Arkansas,” said Jackson.