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The Jewish Food and Cultural Festival, held annually in Little Rock, is taking a year off. The Jewish Federation of Arkansas voted to take time to review the festival and bring it back in two years, on April 14, 2019. JFA Director Marianne Tettlebaum made the announcement on Monday afternoon.

Arkansas Department of Transportation

UPDATE: Tuesday afternoon, the Arkansas Department of Transportation announced stationary traffic cameras can now be viewed on the traveler information website www.idrivearkansas.com. Visitors to the website will have to click on the traffic light image on the right side of the screen, make sure "traffic cameras" is clicked, then can select any camera to view from a map of the state.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Facebook is expanding a partnership with Arkansas and will donate virtual reality kits to every public high school in the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Monday the state and the social media giant are expanding the TechStart Partnership, which was announced earlier this year to generate interest in computer science careers and instruction.

Facebook originally donated 400 virtual reality classroom kits, including computers, cameras and Oculus Rift equipment, to approximately 250 schools.

Members of the Arkansas National Guard preparing to deploy for Texas relief efforts.
Arkansas National Guard

A band of Arkansas National Guardsman is set to arrive in Houston this afternoon to assist in recovery efforts related to Tropical Storm Harvey. 14 guardsmen set out for Texas early Monday morning for about a week-long hazmat stint. Governor Asa Hutchinson deployed the team.

Public Affairs Officer Major William Phillips says the Arkansas contingent is focused on next-stage recovery and not immediate water rescue efforts.

Gibbs Magnet Elementary School in Little Rock.
LRSD.org

The threat of a protest at Gibbs Magnet Elementary School in Little Rock today derailed a planned speaking appearance by U.S. Representative French Hill. A parent complained about Hill's support for Donald Trump and fears children would be used as a photo-op.

UPDATE: Congressman Hill responded to the matter in a statement.

Mike Nelson (far left) sports an eye patch during a town hall meeting.
Talk Business and Politics

One of two Democrats seeking the nomination to run for the U.S. House seat representing east Arkansas's 1st District is bowing out of the race due to an undisclosed pending legal issue. Mike Nelson, an Arkansas County farmer, had already been busy attending a range of forums and civic clubs. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson has granted clemency for death row inmate Jason McGehee.  The the 21-year-old man was found guilty of murdering teenager John Melbourne, Jr. in 1996. He'll now serve life without parole, the same sentence as two accomplices. The governor explained his decision.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Conflicting messages of success and dissatisfaction were the predominant themes of a town hall meeting with officials from the Arkansas Department of Education, state lawmakers and the Little Rock School District Thursday. The optimistic assessments of the state of district schools by Superintendent Michael Poore and Education Commissioner Johnny Key contrasted with vocal opposition from the public.

Governor Asa Hutchinson has set an execution date for Jack Greene for November 9th. He was found guilty in the 1991 murder of Sidney Burnett. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge requested on August 17th that Hutchinson set a date.

It followed state confirmation earlier this month that a new supply of midazolam had been secured for the three-drug lethal injection procedure. Arkansas law allows the state to keep its source of drugs a state secret.

The latest numbers from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show Arkansas had the second-highest opioid prescribing rate in the nation in 2016, after Alabama. There are enough painkiller prescriptions being filled for every Arkansan to have a bottle.

The rates reflect the number of initial and refill prescriptions dispensed per 100 people at retail (non-hospital) pharmacies, which represent 88% of prescriptions in the United States. For Arkansas, the rate is 114.6.

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