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Local & Regional News
7:10 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Founder Of USA Drug Dies At Home In Pine Bluff

The founder of USA Drug has died at his home in Pine Bluff.

Jefferson County Coroner Chad Kelley told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that 71-year-old Stephen LaFrance Sr. died Wednesday. Kelley said the death was due to natural causes.

LaFrance formed USA Drug in 1968 and his company owned 144 stores in seven states when he sold it to Walgreen's in a $438 million deal last July. The company's stores operated under the names of USA Drug, Super D Drug, May's Drug, Med-X and Drug Warehouse in Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Budget Shortfalls
5:16 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Beebe Seeks $1.1 Million For Underfunded Grant Program

Arkansas helps pay out-of-state tuition for certain programs not offered in-state, like dentistry.
Credit flickr.com / Defence Images

With the Department of Higher Education confronting a shortfall in its budget for granting post-graduate students money to pursue specialties not offered in-state, Governor Mike Beebe is requesting that lawmakers use rainy-day funds to cover the program for one more year.

The department normally grants tuition money for Arkansas students who pursue degrees in fields like veterinary medicine, optometry and dentistry. The financial needs of these and similar grant programs have lately exceeded the 28 million dollars allocated by lawmakers.

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Local & Regional News
4:36 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Former Arkansas Treasurer Indicted On Extortion Charge

Martha Shoffner's mug shot after being arrested May 18 at her home in Newport.
Credit Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

A federal grand jury has indicted former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner on charges that she accepted more than $36,000 cash from a bond broker to whom she steered a large portion of the state's investment business.

The indictment filed on Wednesday charged Shoffner with extortion and other charges.

Shoffner was arrested at her Newport home May 18 after the FBI said it caught her on tape accepting a $6,000 payment from the broker, who hasn't been identified.

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Local & Regional News
3:16 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Arkansas Senators Support Changes to Food Stamp Enrollment

Credit www.fns.usda.gov/snap

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is close to invoking cloture on the $100 billion a year Farm Bill. Both of Arkansas’ Senators, Republican John Boozeman and Democrat Mark Pryor, are supporting the bill. 

It addresses issues of farm subsidies and crop insurance. It also addresses nutrition assistance.

Pryor said about 85% of the bill is directed toward the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

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Local & Regional News
3:08 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Arkansas Attorney General Warns Of Telephone Scam

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is issuing a warning about scammers posing as vendors of medical-alert equipment and monitoring services who he says are targeting older residents.

McDaniel said Wednesday that his office has received several complaints in recent weeks about telephone calls from what is allegedly a legitimate medical alert company.

He says the caller uses high-pressure sales tactics and false warnings about the intended victim's need for the equipment and services.

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Local & Regional News
3:04 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Judge Sets Hearing Date In Conway Officer Death

A judge has set a July hearing for a man charged in the death of a Conway police officer who was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic.

Circuit Judge Charles E. Clawson Jr. scheduled a July 23 hearing for 31-year-old Barry Strickland, who is charged with battery and driving while intoxicated.

Strickland is accused in the Feb. 1 death of Officer William McGary, who was struck at night on Dave Ward Drive.

Local & Regional News
3:01 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Lottery Projects $500K Less In Arkansas Scholarships

The Arkansas lottery is projecting that it will bring in less money for scholarships in the coming fiscal year.

Lottery director Bishop Woosley said before a Wednesday legislative hearing that officials are projecting $89.5 million for scholarships for fiscal year 2014.

That's about $500,000 less than the budget for this fiscal year.

Woosley says he made a conservative estimate based on sales drops last summer that hurt 2013 revenues.

Woosley says last summer's drought and long streak of hot weather drove down ticket sales.

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Local & Regional News
1:26 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Little Rock Airport Adds Additional Service to Orlando

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

Little Rock’s Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport is offering non-stop flights to Orlando starting Thursday. 

Nevada based Allegiant Airlines says they intend to offer the flight throughout most of the year. 

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Local & Regional News
11:09 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Marshals Museum Plans 2016 Opening In Fort Smith

Officials say a fall 2016 opening is planned for the $50 million U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith.

The museum's board of directors said Tuesday that groundbreaking for the museum will be held Sept. 24, 2014.

The Southwest Times Record reports the groundbreaking will coincide with the release of a commemorative coin marking the 225th anniversary of the Marshals Service.

Officials say they've raised $11.7 million so far for the museum, and expect to receive another $4 million to $5 million from sales of the commemorative coin.

Local & Regional News
10:52 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Arkansas Husband, Wife Plead In Tax Refund Scheme

A husband and wife in western Arkansas have pleaded guilty to charges they filed federal tax returns in the names of other people and kept refunds of $132,000 for themselves.

U.S. Attorney Connor Eldridge said Wednesday that 37-year-old Owen Wheeler and 51-year-old Patricia Wheeler of Everton took advantage of a new Internal Revenue Service system that provides speedier refunds to taxpayers.

The pair is accused of using tax software to file the returns and have the refunds directly deposited into a bank account.

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