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Local & Regional News
12:44 pm
Sat March 8, 2014

Judge Orders Sale Of Convicted Evangelist's Church

A federal judge has again ordered the sale of a convicted evangelist's church in Fort Smith.

The Texarkana Gazette reported Saturday that the order to sell Tony Alamo's church rejects five liens filed against it by Alamo followers. The newspaper reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant ruled that the liens had no enforceable contracts or proof of billing.

Local & Regional News
6:44 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Bond Broker Testifies in Martha Shoffner Trial, Recording Played

File photo of Martha Shoffner leaving a court hearing in June 2013.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR

A broker testified Friday that he saw a “significant” increase in the amount of state bond business being steered his way after he began providing former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner $6,000 twice a year to help her through a difficult time in her life.

Steele Stephens said he paid Martha Shoffner $36,000 over a three year period and in return his bond business rose, adding he made about $3 million in commissions on the sales over a four year period. Stephens was working for Russellville-based St. Bernard Financial Services at that time.

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Local & Regional News
6:03 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Arkansas Officer Involved In Shooting Identified

The North Little Rock Police Department has identified an officer who shot and killed a man who allegedly assaulted the officer with a cane.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the department on Friday identified the officer as Chris Gann, a 17-year veteran of the agency.

Police say Gann shot and killed 52-year-old Robert Storay of Little Rock after Gann responded to reports of a man causing a disturbance on a Central Arkansas Transit bus.

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Talk Business Arkansas
3:51 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

3/7/14: Talk Business Arkansas

This update: The "private option" passes the Arkansas House of Representatives; The first week of former Ark. Treasurer Martha Shoffner's trial concludes; CEO of Little Rock Baptist Health System is retiring after 40 years with the company; Simmons First National Corp. will consolidate its subsidiaries into a single banking operation; Tyson wins a big contract with the US government; Mountain Valley Water is expanding after Great Range Capital acquired it; Union Pacific Corp sees positive signs in the US economy.

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Local & Regional News
12:33 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Cuts to Legal Aid Services, Crime Lab, & Court Programs

Amy Johnson, Executive Director Arkansas Access to Justice Commission
Credit arkansasjustice.org

Four consecutive months of revenue from court fees and fines falling below projections are causing a 25 percent reduction in funding, from that revenue source, for a number of court-related entities.

The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission coordinates legal services for low-income Arkansans and is among several agencies facing budget constraints this month. The commission’s director Amy Johnson says cuts will affect some of the most vulnerable.

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Local & Regional News
11:30 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Bond Broker Takes Stand In Trial of Martha Shoffner

A broker who handled a large share of Arkansas' bond business says he gave the state's former treasurer $6,000 at her Capitol office because she needed help through a rough patch in her life.

Steele Stephens told jurors at Martha Shoffner's bribery and extortion trial Friday that Shoffner's mother had recently died and she had recently lost an apartment and state car.

Stephens said he felt sorry for the former treasurer, and thought giving her money could be good for business.

Shoffner is accused of taking $36,000 from Stephens and directing state business his way.

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Local & Regional News
11:28 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Gov. Beebe Signs Into Law 'Private Option' Plan

Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR

Gov. Mike Beebe has signed into law a measure reauthorizing Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion for another year.

Beebe on Friday signed the budget bill for the "private option" plan that was approved last year as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

Through the private option, Arkansas is using federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

Nearly 94,000 people are receiving subsidized insurance through the program, the first of its kind approved by the federal government.

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Local & Regional News
7:58 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Trespassers Suspected In Majestic Hotel Fire

File photo of the Feb. 27 fire that destroyed the Majestic Hotel.
Credit Save Her Majesty: Restore The Majestic Hotel Facebook Page

Hot Springs' fire chief says the fire that destroyed the Majestic Hotel was likely set by trespassers - but that the cause may never be determined because it wasn't safe to send investigators inside the building before it was torn down.

Fire Chief Ed Davis says investigators believe the Feb. 27 fire was likely set by either "urban explorers" or homeless people who were inside the abandoned building on a regular basis.

Davis tells The Sentinel-Record that someone may have set the fire to keep warm, not as an attempt to burn the building down.

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Local & Regional News
6:51 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Prisons and Pre-K: Legislators Look to State Surplus

Senators Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) and Larry Teague (D-Nashville) talk before the Joint Budget meeting. Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) and Johnathan Dismang (R-Beebe) confer in the background.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The debate over re-authorizing funds for the private option is over for the time being and legislators are moving on to other areas of the budget. The Joint Budget Committee met Thursday afternoon to allocate surplus funding for additional projects.

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Local & Regional News
1:05 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Testimony Begins In Trial Of Former Treasurer Martha Shoffner

File photo of Shoffner and attorney Chuck Banks leaving a court hearing in June 2013.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR

The first witnesses in the bribery and extortion trial of former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner detailed Thursday how the office would make decisions about the state’s investments and how one broker came to get a disproportionate share of that business.

Shoffner is accused of taking $36,000 from bond broker Steele Stephens, in exchange for steering state business his way.

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