Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

A view of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Pine Bluff from inside the historic, but crumbling Hotel Pines.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Early voting starts Tuesday in Pine Bluff on a temporary five-eighths-cent sales tax increase.

Proponents say the seven-year levy will revive the southeastern Arkansas city of 50,000. Opponents say that a "Go Forward Pine Bluff" initiative to be funded by public and private money will take power away from the people and create government secrecy.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The top two officials for a judicial ethics panel are recusing themselves from investigations involving an Arkansas judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he issued an order that effectively blocked executions in the state.

The executive director and deputy director of the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission on Tuesday stepped away from the cases involving Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who lay on a cot outside the governor's mansion last month after blocking the state from using a lethal injection drug.

Cothams
Kat Robinson / Arkansas Times

A well-known restaurant in central Arkansas has been destroyed in an overnight fire.

Little Rock television station KTHV reports that Cotham's Mercantile in Scott burned down early Tuesday. Cotham's was built in 1917 and opened as a general mercantile store for farmers in the area.

In 1984, Cotham's opened a small restaurant area and it quickly became a favorite for local politicians, including then-Gov. Bill Clinton. A second location was later opened near the state Capitol in Little Rock.

Authorities say they're still looking into the cause of the fire.

Flooding
Twitter

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 23 Arkansas counties disaster areas after recent flooding.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says in a news release Friday he was informed of the designation from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Counties designated as disasters include Faulkner, Lonoke and Randolph.

Perdue visited the state in early May and said in his letter to the governor that there were sufficient production losses in those counties to warrant a designation.

Another 23 counties were designated contiguous disaster areas.

An Arkansas man is charged with trespassing and public intoxication after state police say he climbed the gate at the governor's mansion.

Court records show 55-year-old Edward Harper of North Little Rock was charged with the misdemeanor counts after being arrested about 1:10 a.m. Thursday on the grounds of the mansion.

Jail records show Harper remains in custody and court records do not list an attorney for him.

Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Democratic Party has renamed its annual fundraising dinner to honor former President Bill Clinton after the names of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were stripped from the event.

The party on Wednesday announced that the annual event formerly known as the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner would now be named after the 42nd president and former Arkansas governor.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is scheduled to headline the newly named Clinton Dinner on July 22 in Little Rock.

The trial of a former Arkansas state senator and two others on corruption charges is being delayed.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that a federal judge in Fayetteville on Tuesday postponed the trial of Republican former Sen. Jon Woods, Ecclesia College President Oren Paris III and consultant Randell Shelton Jr. until Dec. 4. Prosecutors say the investigation continues and more indictments are expected.

The judge also rejected Paris' request that he be tried separately in the case.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has been approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing to bring back its pre-licensure nursing program.

The Pine Bluff Commercial reports the university's approval for the program, which extends through 2020, is the final step before accreditation. 

Four sisters of Josh Duggar who were revealed to have told police that they'd been molested by their older brother are suing the city of Springdale and Washington County, Arkansas, and publishers of the magazine that first revealed their identities.

Jill Duggar Dillard, Jessa Duggar Seewald, Jinger Duggar Vuolo and Joy Duggar are suing the city, the county and the publishers of InTouch Weekly for breaching their privacy.

University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

Officials say the estimated impact of agricultural flood damage in Arkansas due to recent severe weather is about $175 million.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture says the April flooding affected more than 970,000 acres of farmland. University officials say more than 360,000 acres of crops were lost due to floodwater from storms that swept through the state last month. About 50 percent of that crop loss was rice.

A preliminary estimate had put the damage at about $65 million. The updated estimate includes sorghum and wheat crops.

Pages