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Local & Regional News
6:02 am
Wed June 26, 2013

President Signs Disaster Declaration For Arkansas

President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for 11 counties in Arkansas that were hit by tornadoes, severe storms and flooding from May 30 through June 3.

The declaration signed Tuesday orders federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in Cleburne, Cross, Independence, Montgomery, Poinsett, Polk, Scott, Searcy, Stone, Van Buren, and Woodruff counties.

Local & Regional News
8:36 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Judge Denies Motion To Toss Contempt Findings For Attorney

An Arkansas judge has denied a request to throw out contempt findings for a lawyer representing a former Little Rock police officer charged with manslaughter.

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen on Tuesday denied attorney Bill James' request to vacate the contempt findings that Griffen imposed.

Griffen fined James $25,000 for contempt of court at the end of the trial of former officer Josh Hastings that ended in mistrial.

Hastings is charged in the shooting death of a 15-year-old burglary suspect.

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Local & Regional News
5:10 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Home BancShares To Buy Liberty Bank for $280 Million

Wallace Fowler and Johnny Allison unveil a map showing the footprint of the two banks.
Credit press conference video feed

Home BancShares Inc. of Conway on Tuesday announced the signing of a definitive agreement worth $280 million to acquire Liberty Bancshares Inc. of Jonesboro, the largest in-state bank transaction in Arkansas history.

Under the terms of the agreement, approximately 400 shareholders of Liberty will receive $250 million of Home BancShares common stock plus $30 million in cash.

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Local & Regional News
1:50 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Prosecutor Won't Seek Death Penalty For Arkansas Woman

A prosecutor says he won't seek the death penalty for a northeast Arkansas woman charged in a plot to kill her husband.

Prosecutor Scott Ellington said Tuesday that he won't pursue possible execution for Michelle Despain.

Ellington's announcement comes after he said he spoke with the parents of Despain's late husband, Marc Despain.

Prosecutors say Michelle Despain hired a man to kill her husband, who was shot to death in the couple's home in August 2011.

Three other people charged in the case have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to prison.

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Local & Regional News
12:44 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Western Arkansas Lakes and Parks Open After Flooding

The Dam at Lake Greeson
Credit mvk.usace.army.mil

Three Arkansas parks that closed last week due to flooding reopened today. The US Army Corps of Engineers tracked rising waters, notified campers, and managed the clean-up for lakes Ouachita, DeGray, and Greeson.

Park Ranger Bill Jackson says high water at the lakes is actually a sign flood damage reduction strategies are working, by preventing water from threatening vulnerable areas downstream.

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Local & Regional News
11:34 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Warren Tomato Producers Feeling Pinch

Credit blog.auburn.edu

More than 200 farmers used to put their tomatoes on the auction block in Warren, but changes to the market have left large growers with the bulk of the business.

Now, only about a dozen farmers bring their tomatoes to the Warren Tomato Market to make sales to a single buyer.

Grower Terry Donnelly, who owns Deepwoods Farm, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that most tomato farmers quit because they weren't making money.

Donnelly says costs have risen sharply while tomato prices have stayed the same.

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Local & Regional News
11:33 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Arkansas Poultry Farms Prepare To Protect Flocks From Mild Bird Flu

Poultry owners in Arkansas are taking steps to safeguard flocks from a mild strain of bird flu.

Last week, state health officials reported that a low-pathogenic strain of avian influenza was found on a poultry farm in Scott County.

Though experts with the state’s Livestock and Poultry Commission say the outbreak was isolated to one farm, Dustan Clark, a veterinarian with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, says farmers must take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of diseases. 

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Local & Regional News
11:31 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Arkansas Lawyer Wants $25K Contempt Fine Tossed

A lawyer for a former Little Rock police officer charged with manslaughter is asking a judge to vacate a $25,000 contempt of court fine he was assessed at the end of a mistrial this past weekend.

Attorney Bill James said in court papers Monday that the contempt citation was improperly imposed by Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen.

James argues that he wasn't given a hearing before being cited, which he says is unconstitutional.

He also argues that state law bars the court from making the citation on a Sunday.

Local & Regional News
5:42 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Lane Of I-55 To Close Temporarily In East Arkansas

Highway officials say a lane of Interstate 55 in eastern Arkansas will close temporarily as crews repair a message board in Crittenden County.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department says crews will work on an electronic message board at the 13-mile marker in Jericho.

The department says the southbound, inside lane of I-55 will be closed Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., weather permitting.

Local & Regional News
12:32 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Arkansas 911 Operator Doesn't Cite Reason For Quitting

A Little Rock 911 operator didn't include a reason for her resignation in a letter submitted months after the death of a woman who called for help when she was trapped inside a vehicle in a pond.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter Monday in which the operator simply said she was resigning.

Police said Thursday that she resigned June 14.

The resignation came after 39-year-old Jinglei Yi called 911 on Jan. 14 when her vehicle ended up in a pond.

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