Little Rock

City of Little Rock

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola on Thursday outlined a plan to reduce violence in the city. The “Little Rock for Life” plan (available here) addresses ways to improve the police department, invest in violence prevention programs, expand job opportunities, and revitalize neighborhoods, among other areas.

Arkansas Times

After outcry led to the tabling of a proposed Little Rock ordinance that would have restricted feeding large groups of people on public grounds, the city is about to embark on a trial plan for getting food to the homeless community.

On Tuesday, the Little Rock Board of Directors heard from the city's Volunteer Committee on Group Feeding that had spent six weeks studying the issue. The committee recommends relocating most feeding operations to the grounds of the Jericho Way Resource Center in southeast Little Rock, with transportation to and from downtown.

Nathan Vandiver / KUAR News / KUAR

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola says he intends to run for reelection in 2018. Stodola’s statement comes after State Rep. Warwick Sabin announced over the weekend that he’s exploring a mayoral run. Stodola has been in office since 2007.

State Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock)
Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

Democratic State Rep. Warwick Sabin has announced he’s exploring a run for Little Rock mayor in 2018. The announcement comes as Little Rock faces growing incidents of violent crime, a school district under state control, and a major interstate expansion project that has drawn the derision of many community groups.

In a press release, Sabin says he would promote new energy, create jobs, and improve education. The press release says he will “visit and listen to every corner of the city.”

Low unemployment, affordable housing, strong healthcare access and below-average poverty rates are the positives in the Little Rock Metropolitan area. Some negatives: a high crime rate, fewer professional and technical jobs than other cities, low employment specialization, and slow growth in the ratio of large to small businesses. That’s according to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Arkansas Economic Development Institute’s fourth annual Little Rock Metro Report Card, released Thursday.

Little Rock has had several drive-by shootings over the past week but police say recent ones don't seem to be random.

An 18-year-old was shot Thursday and suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Police spokesman Steve McClanahan told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that it appeared that the shooting was not random. He did not offer details.

Separately, police said an arrest was made in drive-by shooting Tuesday that injured a 7-year-old boy. McClanahan said it appeared the shooter was targeting a group of people - not the child.

Little Rock leaders recently approved a resolution asking the state to restore local control over the city's public schools, but the possibility of a school board election actually taking place and how much local control could be returned are up in the air.

City officials passed the resolution earlier this week, asking for an election to be held later this year after a new law regarding school districts that are under state authority takes effect. The state took over the Little Rock School District in 2015 after it was deemed to be in academic distress.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

State Education Commissioner Johnny Key has approved Little Rock School District Superintendent Michael Poore’s proposal to close three schools and repurpose a fourth. A group of community activists and parents, meanwhile, is condemning the decision.  

The plan calls for the closure of Franklin Elementary, Wilson Elementary and the Woodruff Early Childhood Center. Under the plan, the alternative school Hamilton Learning Academy would move to the Wilson campus.

Michael Poore Little Rock Superintendent
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

Little Rock School Superintendent Mike Poore today announced the district’s latest plans for budget cuts in order to contend with a $37 million loss in state desegregation aid. The plan calls for the closure of Franklin and Wilson elementary schools, as well as the Woodruff Early Childhood Center.

Students attending the Hamilton Learning Academy would move to the Wilson campus. Poore announced that Carver Elementary, which had previously been considered for closure, will remain open.

Police say a 3-year-old boy being taken on a shopping trip by his grandmother was killed in an Arkansas road rage shooting when a driver opened fire on the grandmother's car because he thought she "wasn't moving fast enough."

Authorities say the boy and his grandmother were at a stop sign in southwest Little Rock on Saturday when a driver apparently angry about the delay stepped out of his car and opened fire. They say the boy was struck by gunfire at least once.

The grandmother wasn't struck. She drove away and called police from a shopping center.

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