News

Jake Files
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A top Arkansas lawmaker has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he pocketed thousands of dollars in state funds intended to go toward the construction of a sports complex and falsified bids to ensure that he would get the money.

Republican state Sen. Jake Files pleaded guilty on Monday to wire fraud, money laundering and bank fraud charges related to the state funds and for pledging a forklift he did not own as collateral for a bank loan. Files was released on a $5,000 bond after entering his plea in Fort Smith.

Tyson
Tyson Foods

Arkansas-based Tyson Foods Inc. has invested in a food-tech startup that's developing methods to produce meat directly from animal cells.

Springdale-based Tyson announced Monday that its venture capital arm, Tyson Ventures, now has a minority stake in Memphis Meats. The terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Memphis Meats says it expects to use the funds to accelerate product development.

Tyson says the investment reflects the company's commitment to find new, innovative ways of meeting a growing global demand for protein.

Bonnie Montgomery
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Bonnie Montgomery has been a fixture in the Little Rock music scene for years with a voice that has incredible range, singing deep, complicated country songs. When you learn about her background as a classically-trained opera singer who grew up in White County, Arkansas, you begin to understand how she comes to write and perform such songs.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas' attorney general has rejected the wording of a proposed ballot measure that would allow up to three casinos in the state to raise money for highways.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Thursday cited ambiguities in the proposed constitutional amendment submitted earlier this month by Driving Arkansas Forward, a group formed to campaign for the measure. The proposal calls for 65 percent of casino tax revenue to go toward highway funding.

Varner Arkansas Department of Correction Cummins Prison
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A lawyer for an Arkansas inmate who came within hours of being put to death last year has told the state Supreme Court that for three decades it has been misinterpreting a ruling that sets when death row inmates should have access to mental health experts.

Bruce Ward was among eight inmates set for execution last April. Justices issued a stay for him and Don Davis while the U.S. Supreme Court took up a similar case from Alabama. In arguments Thursday, lawyer Scott Braden said Ward never had access to a fully independent mental examiner.

Tom Cotton
Talk Business & Politics

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who has held a hardline position on immigration reform, says there are areas of compromise he’s willing to consider in order to resolve the dilemma of “dreamers” and to enact larger U.S. immigration reform.

Picture of Tobacco
Public Domain Pictures

The American Lung Association released its annual State of Tobacco report for all 50 states Wednesday. Arkansas received an F in four out of five categories, failing in tobacco prevention, tobacco taxes, access to cessation services, and the minimum age of sale for tobacco products.

Clean Line
Arkansas Business

Arkansas's congressional delegation has asked U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to block plans for a power line across the state, arguing that recent setbacks make it unlikely for the project to continue.

Delegation members sent a letter to Perry on Tuesday urging the Energy Department to either "pause or terminate" the $2.5 billion Clean Line Energy project. The project is expected to bring several hundred miles of wind power lines through Arkansas, which landowners say would lower property values.

David Sterling
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An attorney for the Arkansas Department of Human Services says he plans on challenging a state Supreme Court justice who's seeking re-election this year.

DHS Chief Counsel David Sterling told The Associated Press he plans to run against state Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson in the May judicial election.

Sterling ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for attorney general in the 2014 election.

Goodson was targeted by outside groups in her failing bid for chief justice two years ago.

Scenic Hill Solar CEO Bill Halter.
Bobby Ampezzan / Arkansas Public Media

While the energy sector is bracing for higher prices under the impact of President Trump’s 30-percent tariff on solar goods manufactured outside the U.S. the city of Clarksville is ready to turn on Arkansas’s largest municipal solar array. The $10 million project was constructed by Arkansas-based Scenic Hill Solar. It’ll ceremonially open on Wednesday six months ahead of schedule.

CEO Bill Halter says it was made mostly with imported parts out of necessity. He expects future arrays to be more costly with the imposition of tariffs.

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