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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Village couple dies in car accident

John and Lois Thyfault of Hot Springs Village were killed in a one car accident Sunday afternoon in Chicot County. John, age 80, and Lois, age 78, were passengers in a car that veered out of the lane of traffic. Both were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Historic Washington Park to host Valentine's dinner

Historic Washington State Park invites you to escape the crowds and the fuss by stepping into a simpler time. Enjoy a romantic evening with someone special at Historic William's Tavern Restaurant. On February 10th and then again on February 11 the park will host it’s annual Valentines Dinner and entertainment which includes a surrey ride offered from 6 to 7 p.m. Dinner and live entertainment will follow at 7 p.m. Call park for menu and reservations.

Call now to book your reservations! Reservations required. Admission: $70 per couple.

CONTACT:
Ph: 870-983-2684, HistoricWashington@arkansas.com

February events in the Arkansas River Valley

Lake Dardanelle State Park in Russellville offers free winter lake cruises that provide a great opportunity to see American Bald Eagles. Upcoming dates for the trips are Feb. 3, 5, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 26, and 29. Many other spectacular birds can be spotted, including American white pelicans, ducks, and snow geese. Participants should dress warmly because temperatures and winds can be more severe on the lake. In an effort to accommodate as many people as possible for tours, the park is taking reservations this year. Call the visitor center at 479-967-5516 to reserve your seat. Boarding begins 15 minutes before the tour at the boat dock near the fishing tournament weigh-in facility. Also, in case of inclement weather, call one hour before tour time for possible cancellations.

A Coyote Mentoring Workshop takes place Feb. 3-5 at Lake Fort Smith State Park in Mountainburg. The workshop focuses on the 8-Shields Model, a highly effective educational approach that synthesizes age-old indigenous techniques with the benefits of 21st century technology. Developed by Jon Young and endorsed by Richard Louv, it has been utilized by a variety of organizations over the past 25 years. In this model, the focus shifts from information transmission characteristic of most Western didactic educational models, to a cultural mentoring model of “learn it, do it, model it, mentor it,” allowing nature to be the teacher. The method fosters scientific inquiry while allowing the content to be learner-driven.

From dynamic sensory awareness exercises to animal mimicry games, the 8-Shields Model includes some of the most effective tools available for fostering Deep Nature Connection which subsequently cultivates authentic Environmental Stewardship among mentors and mentees. Developing an effective, viable mentoring community with the goal of connecting people to nature, this program is tailor-made for formal and informal educators, parents, scout leaders, camp counselors, and anyone wanting to join a community of people who love nature and want to preserve it for future generations. The cost is $25. Contact the park at 479-369-2469 for further details. Register online at http://ozarktrackers.org/classes/ozark-nature-mentoring-initiative/coyote-mentoring-workshops/.

The annual Migrating Through the River Valley Bird Weekend at Mount Nebo State Park in Dardanelle is Feb. 10-12. Bird-themed programs are offered all weekend. There is no cost to attend. Contact the park at 479-229-3655 for a schedule of events.

Head to Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton on Feb. 11-12 for "Hikes, Hearts, and Hugs." Enjoy a romantic weekend at the park as a prelude to Valentine’s Day with guided trail hikes and other activities geared toward couples. Contact the park at 501-727-5441 for a detailed schedule. Visit www.petitjeanstatepark.com for more information on the park.

Take a Bald Eagle Boat Tour on Feb. 25 at Lake Fort Smith State Park in Mountainburg. American Bald Eagles find the lakes of Arkansas as suitable homes during their winter migration. Bundle up and be ready to explore the sky and shoreline for sightings of these feathered friends while cruising along the shores of Lake Fort Smith. Reservations are suggested and can be made at the visitor center or by calling 479- 369- 2469. This is a weather dependent event so in case of inclement weather call for possible cancellation. Tours depart from the park marina and cost $11 for adults, and $6 for ages 6 to 12. Children younger than 6 are free.

Heifer committed to helping out in the Arkansas Delta

Leaders from Heifer International and the U.S. Department of Agriculture gathered Monday, Jan. 30, with community leaders in Hughes, Arkansas, to celebrate Heifer's commitment to working in a USDA StrikeForce area.

The StrikeForce Initiative is designed to help relieve persistent poverty in high-poverty counties by accelerating USDA assistance while working closely with Community Based Organizations. USDA is currently piloting this initiative in 137 counties in Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi.

Heifer International recently launched the first phase of the Seeds of Change project, which aims to improve the income of small farmers in areas of Appalachia and the Arkansas Delta. It also aims to make healthy foods more accessible to hungry families in the United States.

"Of all the gifts Heifer can offer to a community, the most meaningful is opportunity-an opening for people to craft their own future," said Pierre Ferrari, President and CEO of Heifer International. "Hughes is one community that has seized that opportunity and shouldered the responsibility that comes with such support."

Heifer will be working in several Delta counties: Woodruff, Monroe, Cross, Crittenden, St. Francis, Lee, Phillips, and Prairie counties. All of those save Cross and Prairie counties, are part of the USDA's StrikeForce Initiative.

In today's event, Ferrari, along with USDA Assistant Secretary for Administration Pearlie S. Reed, offered a commitment to impoverished areas of the Arkansas Delta. Other participants included Gary Hughes, St. Francis County Judge; Lawrence Owens, Mayor of Hughes; Dr. Edmund Buckner, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; and state Sen. Jack Crumbly, D-District 16.

Heifer International, along with the USDA, has found that rural America is disproportionately poor, hungry, and underserved. Heifer has a long history of helping families in the most impoverished parts of the world to lift themselves out of poverty and into self-reliance. Heifer's new project, Seeds of Change, targets the neediest sections of the United States, in hopes of bringing that transformation to its own backyard.

About Heifer International

Heifer's mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in 40 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant. For more information, visit www.heifer.org or call 1-800-696-1918.

Hot Springs ASMSA teacher publishes second book

Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts teacher Cliff Happy has released his second e-book “The Pelindaba Conspiracy.”

Former Mossad operative Gideon Meltzer: Founding member of Friends from Damascus. To eliminate extremists bent on destruction, this no-nonsense terrorist hunter and his crack black-ops team will go anywhere and risk anything. The daring theft of highly enriched uranium by religious fanatics forces Gideon’s team to partner with an unlikely ally: a beautiful, blind, Persian computer genius named Alaleh Koyunlu. On the run from both the intelligence agencies who think she orchestrated the theft and the terrorists who set her up to take the fall, she leads the team on a world-wide hunt for the missing material. With the clock ticking and millions of lives on the line, they’ll stop at nothing to bring down their prey.

This book is the second in a series of eight to nine books Happy plans to write. The first book “Friends from Damascus” was released last fall. Both books are available only in digital format for nook and Kindle.

Happy served in the U.S. Marines for 22 years, including five years on an anti-terrorism team, and drew on his military experience when writing the action-adventure thrillers. He joined the ASMSA staff in 2006 and teaches American history and government. For more information visit cliffhappy.com.

Oaklawn Rotary pic

Sylvester Smith of Little Rock, owner of Change Agents Inc., a public relations and consulting agency, spoke to the members of the Oaklawn Rotary Club today. Sylvester spoke on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, an organization that represents the needs and interests of small businesses in Arkansas. The theme of Sylvester’s speech, “Divided We Fail, “centered around how the United States needs to pull together to solve the issues it is facing as a nation and leave out bipartisan politics.

Road closure in Hot Springs

The southbound lane of Higdon Ferry Road in Hot Springs between Central Avenue and Harvard Street will be closed beginning at 10 p.m. Tuesday, January 31 for gas main repair. It will reopen at 9 a.m. on Wednesday February 1. Signs will be posted and motorists are asked to use caution when traveling in this area.

Legislative update from Congressman Mike Ross

Dear Friends:

Each year, the President of the United States reports to Congress and the nation the state of our union. This annual report is an opportunity for members of Congress and the President to come together and discuss our nation’s challenges and successes while building a roadmap for the future of our great country.

Last week, the President delivered his State of the Union address. I appreciate the President presenting a detailed plan on how we can strengthen the middle class and get this economy back on track – two important priorities for this Congress - and I strongly urge the President and Congress to come to the table, actually listen to one another and work in a bipartisan way. It is time to govern and get the job done for the American people.

During his address, the President outlined a plan that would help create jobs here at home by putting an end to the tax cuts given to the big corporations that ship their jobs overseas and start providing incentives to companies that bring jobs back home to America. As your Congressman, I have long fought for these commonsense solutions that support American manufacturing and help create more jobs here at home and have already voted for and helped pass in the House several bipartisan “Make it in America” bills that are now law. Among these new laws are initiatives that have sped up the patent process, invested in science and math education, encouraged small businesses to grow with tax cuts and loans and much more.

America’s strong tradition of working hard, being productive and encouraging innovation is what has helped build the world’s strongest middle class and the most prosperous country in the world. Now, at a time when millions are still out of work, it’s our responsibility to build on that tradition to create jobs, strengthen the middle class and secure our nation’s leading place in the world economy.

While supporting the President’s effort to boost American manufacturing, I was disappointed he did not address the Keystone XL pipeline, which he recently rejected. As a strong supporter of the pipeline, I urge the President to reconsider his decision because this Canada-to-Gulf pipeline will reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, lower fuel prices and create thousands of jobs here in America.

However, the President did announce that his administration would be opening more than 75 percent of America’s potential offshore oil and gas resources, something I have long supported. Exploring and harvesting our nation’s energy resources is critical to our energy independence. Americans need a stable, affordable supply of energy. The high costs of gas and other forms of energy continue to make it harder for Arkansas's working families to make ends meet and I will keep working hard in Congress to lower the price at the pump and secure our nation’s long-term energy security.

While we can all agree that strengthening the middle class and getting our economy back on track are important goals, the real challenge lies in how we achieve these goals. It will require Democrats and Republicans to work together. While many are sure that the partisan bickering in Congress will be even worse this year compared to last year, Congress and the President can and must work together in a bipartisan way to find commonsense solutions to our nation’s serious challenges.

As a fiscal conservative and leader of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, I’ll continue the fight to reduce our deficits and put people back to work. And, I’ll continue to offer commonsense leadership in our nation’s capital, fighting for you and working hard to bring both sides together.

Sincerely,

Mike Ross

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What's happening at Wildwood Park?

Wildwood Park's Lanterns Festival kicks off this Thursday, February 2.
Festival Days
February 2, 3 and 4
6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly

The Lanterns Festival is Arkansas’ only deep-winter outdoor festival, will light up the night at Wildwood Park for a fourth year of family fun and illuminating entertainment starting February 2! Celebrate the first full moon of the lunar year with a variety of indoor and outdoor entertainment. Take a mystical stroll along paved pathways lit by fire pits and over 2,000 luminaries into Wildwood’s winter woodlands and visit eight cultures around the globe, including China, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, The Moon, India, American Baseball, Shakespeare's England, and Venice! Admission ($10 for adults; $5 for children ages 6 to 12; FREE for children 5 and under) includes live entertainment, family activities and a cultural experience like no other in Central Arkansas. You can purchase your tickets online or at the gate.

Also new this year: a Parking Shuttle! Save the stress and park in the old Kroger Chenal parking lot and ride the free shuttle straight to the Wildwood gates.

We look forward to seeing you here.

China:

located in Wildwood's Asian Woodland Garden, this vista features delicious edibles from Fantastic China, as well as activities for the whole family, including practicing or learning chopstick skills and making a celebratory red paper lantern.This vista is sponsored by the June Hoes Williams Endowment.

Paris:

Filling the Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre from lobby to stage, Paris delights with live performances of French art song by The Muses Project, and a stunning Piaf tribute by Ballet Arkansas, as well as crepes, cafe au lait and wine! This vista is made possible by the generosity of Chip and Cindy Murphy.

Rio de Janeiro:

The Lakeside Stage will be dance all night long to the bossa nova beats of The Graduation Band! Cafe Bossa Nova will be providing fabulous Brazilian foods and drinks for purchase and young and young-at-heart can create their own carnaval masks.

The Moon:

The Green is brought to life by the fabulous folks at Botanica Gardens and features tasty treats, lovely lights and moon dust.

India:

This colorful vista features fabulous food for purchase from Star of India Restaurant and mango smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe, as well as family activities centered on Diwali, the Hindi new year.

American Baseball:

Play ball with a pitching carnival game, a raffle for tickets and merchandise from the Arkansas Travelers Baseball Club, a classic ball game on the radio and hot dogs from Little Rock celebrity Hot Dog Mike! American Baseball is sponsored by our friends at Sync Weekly.

Shakespeare's England:

Walk on to Butler Hill and travel back in time to the Renaissance! Grab a turkey leg and some mulled cider to enjoy while watching scenes, green show entertainments and stage fighting demonstrations from Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, as well as fabulous live music from the era.

and Venice:

The Gazebo is dressed for carnivale! Enjoy sweet treats for purchase and send a wishing lantern onto the lake in a fabulous, festive atmosphere!

P.S. Want to attend LANTERNS! Festival for FREE? We are still looking for some fantastic volunteers to work at the festival for any of the three nights beginning at 5:15pm. Duties include: Ticket Takers/Sellers, WILDBucks Bankers, Concessions Salespeople and Children's Activities Leaders. If you are available to volunteer, please email Leslie Fay Vaeth at lvaeth at wildwoodpark.org or call at (501) 821-7275.

If you have any questions about volunteering any time at Wildwood Park for the Arts, please contact Leslie Fay Vaeth, Assistant Director for Development, at lvaeth@wildwoodpark.org, or (501) 821-7275 ext. 259.

Wildwood Park for the Arts, 20919 Denny Road, Little Rock, AR 72223, (501) 821-7275, http://www.wildwoodpark.org/

AWL - Don't litter spay/neuter your pet

Looking for homes this week from the Village Animal Shelter is Jasmine, a two year old spayed female Siamese mix. Jasmine is a friendly lap cat.

And Leeza is a two year old PIT mix spayed female. Leeza loves to fetch. Leeza is happy and sweet. Almost housebroken.

GREAT SELECTION OF CATS & KITTENS CALL Nancy 922-6444 FOR DETAILS.

Newly minted certified municipal officials in Hot Springs

Hot Springs' Mayor Ruth Carney, City Director Karen Garcia, City Director Cynthia Keheley and City Manager Lance Hudnell each received Certified Municipal Official certificates from the Arkansas Municipal League at their recent winter conference. To achieve certification status, mayors, city managers and aldermen must complete 21 hours of study over the course of the year in subjects such as procedural rules, municipal finance, planning and zoning, human resources and more. To maintain certification, city officials must obtain six hours of continuing education each year.

This spring at Davidsonville Historic State Park

March

Archeology of Communities: Celebrate Archeology Month at Davidsonville.
March 31
10 a.m. to 3p.m.

Established in 1815, Davidsonville was on the cusp of the American frontier. Home to Arkansas first land office, post office, and courthouse it was the first democratic foothold in what is now known as Arkansas. We will be celebrating the community of Davidsonville with a variety of activities, living history actors, and guest speakers. There will be activities for kids and adults!! Call park closer to event time for details.

Admission: FREE

April

Survival Workshop
April 14
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We tend to not think about the day when disaster may strike and help is not readily available. What do you do? How do you find your way out of the wilderness? How do you build a shelter? How do you make fire when there are no matches? What do you do in order to survive? This workshop teaches and puts into practice basic survival skills. Reservations are required and space is limited. Bring a sack lunch.

Workshop Fee: $10 per participant

CALLING ALL SCOUTS
Scout Patch Day
April 21
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Calling ALL Scouts. Join us for our Discovering Davidsonville Scout Patch Day. Scouts will participate in 5 activities that explore Davidsonville’s past. From the living history characters, crafts, site tour, and more, your scout will learn about this early 19th century town that is home to several of Arkansas’s firsts. Space is limited. Reservations and patch fees are required. Call the park for more details.

To get to Davidsonville Historic State Park; from Pocahontas travel 2 miles west on U.S Highway 62, then south on State Highway 166 and travel 9 miles to the park.

From U.S. Highway 63 at Black Rock, take state Highway 361. Travel 5 miles to the park.

For more information, contact Krystal L. Watson, Interpreter, Davidsonville Historic State Park. Or visit davidsonvillehistoric@arkansas.com. Davidsonville Historic State Park, 7953 Hwy. 166 South, Pocahontas, Arkansas 72455, phone: (870) 892-4708.

CBID to meet

In Hot Springs the Central Business Improvement District No. 2 (CBID No. 2) Board of Commissioners will meet at 8 a.m. on Thursday, February 2 in the Board Chambers at City Hall, 133 Convention Boulevard, to discuss the overall authority and role of the CBID in downtown Hot Springs and to receive input from downtown property owners, merchants and tenants on the parking plan during the upcoming tourist season. Interested parties are encouraged to attend.

Look for the signs

The Heritage Trails System Act, or Act 728 of the 87th General Assembly’s Regular Session, aims to promote and recognize key routes through Arkansas that shaped the past. Four trail maps have been identified:

The Southwest Trail, the first federally sponsored road in the state, which four-fifths of Arkansas’s population used to enter the territory in the early 19th century;

The Trail of Tears, which maps the paths of five tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole) following the passage of the Federal Indian Removal Act of 1830;

The Butterfield Trail, the original path of the Butterfield Overland Mail route; and

The Civil War Trails, which follow the historic routes of Union and Confederate forces during key campaigns throughout the state.

The project has been a joint effort by the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the Department of Parks and Tourism and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

Mark Christ with the Department of Arkansas Heritage says matching trail paths to highways was tricky. “Our part in the process was to calculate where each of those routes would be.” Christ says GPS was used to match trails to highways as closely as possible.

The Department of Parks and Tourism created a website and a brochure from the information, available to motorists who wish to follow these new trails. The Highway and Transportation Department then fabricated the signs and are currently in the process of installing them.

Now 500 of the 2500 signs for Heritage Trails have been placed around the state. The markers are already up along several routes in southern Arkansas.

For more information, check out http://www.arkansasheritagetrails.com/.

Rock Me Amadeus in Conway

Introduce your child to the enjoyment of classical music on Feb. 18 at the Conway Symphony Children's Concert. “Rock Me Amadeus” features the works of Mozart. In addition to the performance, attendees can partake of refreshments and visit with the performers and learn about their instruments after the concert. Curtain goes up at 2 p.m. in the Reynolds Performance Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus. Please bring a non-perishable food item for the Orchestras Feeding America food drive. Tickets are $6. Phone: 501-269-1066 for more information.

Bird, birds, birds

Head to Mount Nebo State Park near Dardanelle on Feb. 10-12 for a weekend dedicated to the birds. All weekend park staff offers bird-themed programs. The park is located in the Arkansas River Valley, a great place to see winter birds. Admission is free. Contact the park for a detailed program schedule.

16728 West State Highway 155, Dardanelle. Phone: 479-229-3655.

Does the POA now have a quota of violations to fine each month?

Hot Springs Village POA planning and inspections department will be taking a proactive approach regarding violations, including parking and storage of recreational vehicles on streets in front of residences and property maintenance issues for village residential properties. This is necessary to maintain the aesthetics of the village and neighborhood preservation.

The planning and inspections department has divided the village into five zones and have started with the West end. The inspectors have been given an organized plan to cover every street in Hot Springs Village.

The inspectors will be looking for:

1) Parking violations such as boats/trailers, utility trailers, motor homes, abandoned vehicles, and inoperable motor vehicles.

2) Yard maintenance items: grass, weeds, or plant growth over 10 inches tall.

3) Exterior home maintenance items: hazardous conditions, building materials other than active construction sites, appliances, household items, rubbish, garbage, safety violations such as fire hazards and rotting wooden decks.

4) Exterior surfaces: including detached garages, fences, seawalls, decks and walls not being maintained.

If a violation is found the inspector will leave a notification advising of the issue and requesting compliance within 72 hours.

For more information, contact planning and inspections at 922-5535.

POA looking for vote counters

Hot Springs Village POA is soliciting applications from Village property owners in good standing who are willing to serve on this year’s election day committee.

This committee is charged with overseeing the ballot counting for the Hot Springs Village board of directors election. The ballots will be counted on Thursday, March 29 at Ouachita Building.

Applications will be available beginning February 1, online at hsvpoa.org/about us/committees/committee application or from the General Manager’s office at the POA Administration Building, 895 DeSoto Blvd. There will be 14 members selected by a blind draw on March 7, at the work session and appointed by the board of directors on March 21.

Applications must be completed and returned to the General Manager’s office no later than Thursday, March 1.

Please contact 922-5530 for additional information or questions.

Road closures in the Village next week

Hot Springs Village POA public works department will close part of Cortez Road from the intersection of Cortez and Minorca Road to the southern intersection of Cortez and Baeza Way beginning Monday, February 6 through Wednesday, February 8.

The road will be closed to replace two culverts that have rusted and separated. As Lake Cortez has been drawn down for the winter, the culverts will be exposed below the water line and easier to replace.

Drivers will follow detour signs around the construction work on these three days by taking Jarandilla Drive or Barcelona Road.

For more information, call public works at 922-5524.

Arkansas Lottery Commission says scanners work

Lottery ticket scanners are the little electronic machines sitting on the counter at more than 1,800 Arkansas Lottery Commission retailers all over the state. They “read” the bar codes on each ticket and their screens flash a message to you that says, “WINNER! FILE CLAIM FORM” or “SORRY NOT A WINNER” or other messages.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission is happy to confirm that these machines have been doing their job with no issues since the first tickets were sold on September 29, 2009.

It was reported today by various media that a Lottery scanner in Beebe had not functioned properly for a $1 Million winning ticket, according to one witness in a Searcy civil trial. In response to that testimony, the Lottery wants to assure our players and all Arkansans that in that case—and in quality-assurance testing conducted regularly and thoroughly—our ticket scanners have passed the test.

Here are the facts on the Beebe ticket:

Players at that Beebe retailer scanned tickets at that location numerous times on the day the $1 Million ticket was sold, and each time the scanner worked perfectly.

The ticket in question was scanned at the original retailer and at several other scanners in various locations, and each time it scanned properly.

In short, the Arkansas Lottery’s ticket scanners are performing like clockwork.

POA offering an opportunity to change your vote, you've got to be kidding

Hot Springs Village Property Owners’ Association will announce the results of the proposed change to the HSV Declaration on Wednesday, February 15, at the regular meeting of the board of directors.

This is a measure the POA staff very much wants to see pass. The votes are being counted by the POA staff. The Village no longer sends its votes to an unbiased agency to count votes.

This proposal amends Article X, Section 4 by removing the one year limitation for special assessments and allows property owners to vote on the finance of capital projects over a number of years. Proxies were mailed to 27,409 property owners in good standing in September, 2011.

Property owners will have an opportunity to change their vote by exchanging their proxy for a ballot at this meeting on February 15,  at 9 a.m. at Ponce De Leon Center. At the conclusion of the meeting, the result of the vote will be announced.

The Declaration amendment will become effective April 20, 2013. All property owners are encouraged to attend this important meeting.

Please contact 922-5530 if you have questions.

Civitan Services sponsoring a fishing tournament

Civitan Services is sponsoring "Hook a Heart" bass fishing tournament at Lake Ouachita on February 25. Take off is at 7 a.m. Weigh in is at 3 p.m.

This year the Hook-a-Heart Bass Tournament will benefit Civitan Services and the men, women and children with developmental disabilities it serves. The tournament will be Saturday, February 25 with take-off and weigh-in at Crystal Springs.

The tournament is open to all amateur anglers sixteen years and older and there should be two fishers per boat. Entry fee is $100 per boat and should be turned in to Civitan Services. Entries turned in after February 17 will have a $25 late penalty.

The first place team is guaranteed a $1,000 cash prize. Cash and prizes will also be awarded to teams finishing second through fifth place but the total payout will be determined by the number of boat entries. Fishermen will also have the opportunity to pay to enter and win a cash prize for the biggest bass weighed in for the day.

For more information call (501) 776- 0691.

Pryor's testimony for Kristine Baker appointment


Last week at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Mark Pryor testified on behalf of Kristine Baker of Little Rock, nominee for the U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Below is Pryor’s prepared testimony:

I would like to thank Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Grassley and members of the Committee for allowing me to introduce Kris G. Baker. I would also like to thank the family and friends of Kris who have made the trip to Washington, DC to be with her on this special day. Thank you all for being here.

I am honored to sit before you today and recommend Kris for confirmation as a federal judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Throughout the confirmation process, I believe this Committee will come to understand why Kris has earned a reputation in legal circles and around the state of Arkansas as a hard worker and brilliant lawyer.

While this Committee has seen more than its share of polarizing nominees, you will find Kris is not. She is well respected for her extensive experience in civil matters and has a strong commitment to a fair, impartial legal system.

I have a three-pronged approach when considering judges. First, is the the person qualified? Second, do they have the proper judicial temperament? Third, do they have the ability to be fair and impartial? As you learn more about this candidate, I believe you will also find that she meets and exceeds these criteria.

Currently a partner at the law firm Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull & Burrow in Little Rock, she specializes in commercial, employment, and First Amendment litigation. Kris joined the firm as an associate in 2000 and became a partner in 2002. Previously, she worked at the law firm Williams & Anderson from 1998 to 2000. She began her legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Susan Webber Wright of the United States District Court for the Eastern District from 1996 to 1998. Kris earned her law degree with honors from the University Of Arkansas School Of Law and her B.A. from the Saint Louis University in 1993.

I have reviewed Kris’ work and have been impressed with her record. I am not alone. She has been recognized as one of Chambers and Partners' America's Leading Lawyers for Business; named a Rising Star by Mid-South Super Lawyers; and listed with The Best Lawyers in America, the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers and Arkansas Business’ Forty Under 40.

Character and integrity is also important. Kris has done extensive pro bono work, representing clients in a variety of cases through the Pulaski County Bar Association’s Volunteer Organization Center for Arkansas Legal Services (“VOCALS”) and helping elderly and sick prisoners receive proper medical care.

I am confident Kris will serve the Eastern District of Arkansas with distinction.

Kayak fishing in Arkansas by Zoie Clift for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The fish are always biting somewhere, even in places you can’t reach by boat. But you can reach many of these hard-to-reach waterways by kayak.

“Kayak fishing is ready to explode in Arkansas as recreational kayaking has done over the past five years,” said Don Jackson, an avid fisherman and owner of Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters in Hot Springs. “It has opened up a whole new avenue for fisherman in that he or she can fish lakes, rivers, ponds, bayous, or many places that big boats cannot go for a minimal investment.”

Kayak fishing has been established for some time in the coastal areas of the country, and now the sport is migrating inland. The practice is also growing worldwide, with the first world championships held in Australia last year in Port Macquarie along the New South Wales coast.

Among those that competed in the event was Jose Chavez, a pro kayak angler based in Tampa, Florida. After the tournament, Chavez traveled to Arkansas to fish Lake Ouachita.

“Kayak fishing is an incredible experience where I feel I am connected with nature in everything I do,” he said. “You are able to get away from the crowds, experience nature intimately, and make a stealthy approach to fish that will never learn of your presence. It is also very inexpensive to get started. All you need is a kayak and basic safety and fishing equipment. There are no expenses for gas or maintenance plus it’s great exercise.”

Arkansas’s mild climate means fishing is available year round. The state has over 9,700 miles of fishable streams and rivers and 600,000 acres of lakes, numerous bayous, creeks and sloughs that provide a variety of freshwater species to catch. Along with these opportunities, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission operates warm-water hatchery systems and trout fisheries.

Chavez, who is a member of the Hobie Fishing Team, said the fishing he usually does in Florida is in shallow grassflats where sight fishing is the predominant way of locating fish. “While fishing in Lake Ouachita we were mostly fishing in water of 25-35 feet in depth so that took a little adjusting, “ he said. “Also, I mainly fish for either redfish, snook and trout in Florida. What amazed me about Lake Ouachita was that there were so many gamefish readily available to the kayak fisherman. I found myself trying to catch as many species as I could.”

When Chavez first started fishing in Florida, he primarily fished from land and would either fish from a pier or wade fish the flats. One day he was doing a long walk through a flat to get to one of his favorite fishing spots. After 30 minutes of walking he was nearly there, and then it happened…a kayaker passed him, got to his spot, caught a bunch of fish and then moved to the second spot he was going to fish.

“By the time I made it to the first spot, the bite had shut off since he had caught so many fish from that location,” said Chavez. “When I got to my second spot I experienced the same thing, the bite was just off. That's when I realized I needed to get a kayak and I went out and bought my first one.”

Jackson said more kayak manufacturers are making kayaks specifically designed for smaller bodies of water. “They are very stable and well designed to accommodate kayak fisherman,” he said. “They have live wells, rod holders, anchors…and are better outfitted with fishing options than regular kayaks. Some are designed now where you are able to stand and sight fish and have very comfortable and adjustable seating for all day fishing.”

Jackson added that fisherman also save on cost going the kayak route. “With so many tournaments and fishing events during the year fishermen generally have a four wheel drive vehicle pulling a 20 foot bass boat with a 200 hp motor,” he said. “The expense is enormous.”

As for tips on picking a kayak, Jackson advised trying one out first (“I wouldn’t buy a car without driving it first,” he said). Outdoor outfitters usually have programs that allow potential buyers to demo gear before buying. “We have a rental program for our general recreational paddlers and we will demo any kayak the customer wishes to try out,” he said. “We are fortunate to have Lake Hamilton close enough that we can demo a kayak any day during the week.”

Chavez said he believes kayak fishing in Arkansas could take off because of the diverse fishing available.

“Getting a kayak fishing club together with an online forum is one of the best ways to bring people together that share the interest of fishing, and a great way to expose the rest of the community to what the kayak fishing community is up to,” he said. “It generally doesn’t take long for people to see the great fish kayakers can catch and make them realize they could also be getting on the water with friends and have a good time catching fish.”

Dexter found guilty of no rabies vaccination and owning a vicious animal

Following a trial in Hot Springs District Court last week regarding a pit bull that attacked and severely injured a man on November 23, of last year on Fox Pass Road, District Court Judge David Switzer found the pit bull’s owner, Retina Dexter, 36, guilty of no rabies vaccination and of owning a vicious animal.

Dexter was ordered to pay $5,000 in medical costs to the victim, Donny Moore. Moore had submitted more than $36,000 in medical bills to the court, following extensive plastic surgery for his wounds, with additional surgeries required in the future. Dexter was also ordered to repay $505 in costs to the City of Hot Springs for quarantining the animal as required by law and boarding the animal until the court date. Dexter asked the court if she could perform community service in lieu of a fine.

Judge Switzer ordered the destruction of the dog, which was completed this morning.

MPO meeting scheduled

The Hot Springs Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transit Coordination Committee will meet at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, February 1 in the Transportation Depot, 100 Broadway Terrace. The committee will review the current Garland County Coordinated Transit Plan and Referral Form. The public is welcome to attend. For information, contact Dianne Morrison, MPO Study Director, at (501) 321-4804.

The Wind and the Willows at Jonesboro Forum Theatre

The Wind in the Willows will be featured by the Jonesboro Forum Theatre on February 18 and 20 at 7 p.m. and February 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $6. Tickets can be purchased online at www.foajonesboro.org, or by calling 870-935-2726 or at The Forum Theatre Box Office.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Easley arrest in Garland County

Garland County Deputies arrested 24 year old Matthew Easley after he allegedly threw a knife at his wife or sister (Garland County Sheriff's Department documents have her listed as either his sister or wife), Kristina Easley, cutting her hand.

Deputies were dispatched to the Easley residence after dispatchers received a call of a disturbance at that residence.

The victim, 25 year old Kristina Easley, said that she and Matthew had been arguing, he got upset and threw a kitchen knife at her. She blocked the knife with her hand, to keep from getting hit in the face, and was cut in the process. The victim was treated at the scene by Lifenet and elected to drive herself to the hospital for stitches.

Matthew Easley was taken into custody without incident and charged with 2nd Degree Domestic Battery.

Summer softball registration starts now

The Hot Springs Parks & Recreation Department will hold registration until Friday, April 6 (or until leagues fill up) for adult summer softball league play at Kimery Park.

Team registrations, $450 per team, will take place at the Parks & Recreation administrative office, 111 Opera Street, Suite A. Men’s Lower and Coed leagues will begin play on April 25. Men’s Middle/Upper League will begin play on April 26. For information, contact Recreation Superintendent Nathan Neighbors, 321-6871.

P. Allen Smith news

Acclaimed designer and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith has been named as the host of YouTube’s new eHow Home Channel and has unveiled his latest project, the “Garden Home Challenge”, exclusively online.

In the “Garden Home Challenge”, planning, design and craftsmanship converge when designer and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith and his colleagues build an environmentally friendly home for $150,000 in 150 days. Along the way he'll also offer practical tips for style, comfort and sustainability in his “At Home with P. Allen Smith” series. The “P. Allen Classics” collection offers innovative tips for your home and garden from his extensive library.

“Doing the various TV shows, books, connecting to the public on social media sites, our blogs and now the new eHow Home channel on YouTube -- there is so much to share!” Allen continues, “We have shows about everything – from the garden, decorating, style tips, antiquing and junk shop finds to “green” alternatives. Many are brand new shows that I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy and learn from in an entertaining yet informative way!”

P. Allen Smith walks his viewers through the process of building a home from the ground up in the “Garden Home Challenge”. Building a 1,600 square foot, eco-friendly Garden Home in 150 days for $150,000 dollars? From the insulation, to the windows, to the roof, viewers will be able to track how much money is being spent, what adjustments are made and what projects are cut to stay on budget – while learning from a trusted authority who inspires consumers with ideas and empowers them with easy and affordable lifestyle solutions. New episodes every Thursday.

The eHow Home line-up, “At Home with P. Allen Smith” consists of:

· Practical tips for style, comfort and sustainable living from designer and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith. Allen dissects style and function to reveal the tips that will take your home and garden to the next level.

· Once hooked, no one will want to miss episodes of behind the scenes of The Garden Home with P. Allen Smith. It’s chaotic. It’s crazy. And, it’s never as smooth as it looks. But, it’s also a lot of fun. Allen gives viewers a behind the scenes look at what viewers normally don’t see on film. Peek behind the curtain and see what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling.

· Organic gardens, energy efficiency, a model for sustainable agriculture and a place to reintroduce endangered varieties and breeds of livestock, these are just a few things people from all over the world see when they visit Allen’s Moss Mountain Farm. Each week, Allen will feature the unique things happening at the farm, from the birth of a lamb, to hatching baby ducks, to the 275,000 blooming daffodils, to learning about one of the largest private collections of antique rose species in the country.

Finally, see the “P. Allen Smith Classics”. Originally aired as part of "P. Allen Smith's Garden Home" Television series, watch construction updates from Allen's previous construction project at Moss Mountain Farm. There are also segments of Allen and friends giving hands-on basics of gardening and container gardening tips. Take a tour of the Garden Home Retreat and view a selection of innovative virtual garden makeovers. Join host P. Allen Smith as he visits some of the most interesting gardeners and gardens in the country.

Watch everything online only on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/ehowhome.

P. Allen Smith is an award-winning designer and lifestyle expert and host of two public television programs, P. Allen Smith's Garden Home, P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table and the syndicated 30-minute show P. Allen Smith Gardens. Smith is one of America's most recognized and respected design experts, providing ideas and inspiration through multiple media venues. He is the author of the best-selling Garden Home series of books published by Clarkson Potter/Random House, including Bringing the Garden Indoors: Container, Crafts and Bouquets for Every Room and P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes from the Garden. Allen is also very active on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Allen’s Blog and YouTube as well as on the new eHow Home channel. His design and lifestyle advice is featured in several national magazines. Learn more at http://www.pallensmith.com/.

What's happening this winter in Central Arkansas?

Two Pinnacle Mountain State Park workshops this month introduces you to the ins-and-outs of Dutch oven cooking. On Feb. 4 you can learn to prepare meals outdoors the way our frontier ancestors did. Admission is $15 and advance payment is required. Saturday, Feb. 18, the focus is on Dutch oven desserts. No prior experience is necessary for this one. Advance payment of $15 secures your registration. Meet at the park visitor center for both events, 11901 Pinnacle Valley Road in Little Rock. Phone 501-868-5806 for more information.

The beauty of an Arkansas winter is explored through Pinnacle Mountain State Park’s Discovery Lake Cruises, Feb. 5 and 19. Guided boat tours of Lake Maumelle are led by park interpreters as you watch for the thousands of birds which migrate South during colder weather. Dress in layers for extreme cold and windy lake weather. Advance payment of $10 for adults and $5 for ages 6-12 is required. Meet at Jolly Roger’s Marina, 11800 Maumelle Harbour Road in Roland. Phone the park at 501-868-5806 for more information.

It’s difficult to believe anyone can improve on Shakespeare but when you throw Cole Porter in the mix, you get a masterpiece. Based on “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Kiss Me Kate” is a play within a play where a cast working on a musical version of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” begins to mimic the literary classic they are performing. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, and $5 for students. The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. for the Thursday-Saturday shows, 2 p.m. on Sundays. Show dates are Feb. 9-12 and 16-19 at Benton’s Royal Theatre, 111 Market Street. Visit theroyalplayers.com to order tickets online or phone 501-315-5483.

Renowned actors Danny Glover and Felix Justice present "An Evening with Martin and Langston" on Thursday, Feb. 9 in Conway. This production “draws audiences inside the worlds of two of the greatest orators of the 20th century: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Langston Hughes.” The show begins with Justice’s critically acclaimed portrayal of Dr. King through the words of his most memorable speeches. Glover brings to life the words and poetry of Langston Hughes through readings of his work. A question and answer session follows at Reynolds Performance Hall on the UCA campus where the event takes place. Visit www.uca.edu/reynolds or phone 501-450-3406 to order tickets, which are $10-$40.

Celebrate St. Valentine’s Day with your special someone by taking a cruise aboard the Arkansas Queen on the Arkansas River. The $59.95 price includes the trip and a full-course dinner. Boarding begins at 6:30 p.m. with the cruise from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Dates are Feb. 11 and 14. Visit www.arkansasqueen.com or phone 501-372-5777 for more information or to make reservations.

The one-of-a-kind BLUE MAN GROUP appears in Little Rock Feb. 14-16 at Robinson Center Music Hall. The show creates experiences that defy categorization. The trio of “bald and blue characters” are best-known for their theatrical performances which take the audience through a multi-sensory, multi-media journey. Theatre, percussion, music, art, science and Vaudeville are combined into a masterpiece of entertainment. Ticket prices vary. Visit www.celebrityattractions.com or phone 501-244-8800 for more information. Robinson Center is located at 426 West Markham in downtown Little Rock.

Perhaps the most distinctive voice in show business today will be on stage in the form of award winning actor James Earl Jones, Feb. 23 in Conway. Jones’ easily recognizable intonation has been featured in live stage, film and television roles and enriched recordings of everything from classic dramas to Bell Atlantic commercials. But the role for which he is best known is “Darth Vader" in the “Star Wars” trilogy of feature films. Jones will present the topic of “Shakespeare in the Minority Key” during this Black History Month salute. Tickets are $10-$40 for the event which takes place in Reynolds Performance Hall on the UCA campus. Visit www.uca.edu/reynolds or phone 501-450-3406 for more details.

The expectation of what spring brings to The Natural State is showcased during the 21st annual Arkansas Flower and Garden Show, Feb. 24-26. The theme for this year is "Floral Notes." The event includes educational gardening seminars, amazing indoor garden displays, over 100 booths with garden-related items for sale, a juried flower show, children's activities, a professional florist's design competition, and a silent auction benefiting scholarship and community beautification grant programs. Everything takes place at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock. Admission is $8 for adults, free for those ages 11 and younger, and $6 for senior citizens age 60 and older and for members of the military. Visit www.arflowerandgardenshow.org for a full schedule or phone 501-821-4000 for more information.

The cooler months are a great time for collectors who want to add to their stash and the 26th annual Arkansas Glasshopper Inc. Depression Era Glass and Pottery Show is a must-shop destination. Dates are Feb. 25-26 at the Hall of Industry on the State Fairgrounds, 2600 Howard Street in Little Rock. Dealers from several states show and sell china, and pottery from the Depression Era. Special displays of rare glass and glass identification are also on the schedule. Phone 501-868-4969 for additional details.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Little Rock Wind Symphony presents "Carmina Burana!" on Sunday, Feb. 26. The program features music inspired by the greatest love poems ever written, and Jamie Lipton dazzles on a theme and variations for euphonium. Assistant Director Michael Chance conducts the performance which takes place at Second Presbyterian Church, 600 Pleasant Valley Drive. Admission is $10, $8 for senior citizens, and free for students. Visit www.lrwindsymphony.org or phone 501-666-0777 for more information.

Senator Mark Pryor's comments on State of the Union

The state of our union is better this year. We are creating manufacturing jobs for the first time since the late 1990s, our auto industry is making a comeback with GM at the helm, consumer confidence is up and domestic oil production is higher than it’s been in eight years. And for the first time in nine years, Americans are no longer fighting in Iraq.

Yet, we have too many Arkansans receiving an unemployment check when they’d rather be earning a paycheck. We need the President, Republicans and Democrats to create an environment that leads to new economic opportunities in America. The President’s commitment to enable more businesses to hire, more entrepreneurs to innovate and more students to graduate prepared for a 21st Century job should be shared by both parties in Congress. I hope to work with him and my colleagues to achieve these goals in 2012.

While I share the President’s interest in growing our energy capacity, we must also embrace the potential that already exists. We cannot afford to forego traditional forms of energy. I disagree with his decision to postpone the Keystone pipeline. I believe in this day and age, this project can be done in a responsible way that protects the environment.

Despite predictions otherwise, I am hopeful Congress and the White House can deliver results this year. My six point solution to job creation offers common-sense initiatives to strengthen our country’s future. We can find common ground and put our nation on a stronger path for tomorrow.

Congressman Mike Ross' comments on State of the Union

U.S. Congressman Mike Ross of Prescott issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

Statement from U.S. Congressman Mike Ross:

“I appreciate the President presenting a detailed plan on how we strengthen the middle class and get this economy back on track – two important priorities for this Congress. I strongly urge the President and Congress to come to the table, actually listen to one another and work in a bipartisan way. The November elections are ten months away, so there’s still plenty of time to govern and get the job done. We simply cannot afford to wait any longer to address our national debt or our jobs crisis. It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to stop putting party over country and get to work on behalf of the American people.

“As a fiscal conservative and leader of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, I’ll continue the fight to reduce our deficits and put people back to work. And, I’ll continue to offer commonsense leadership in our nation’s capital, fighting for the people I represent and working hard to bring both sides together.”

Food tips to keep in mind in an emergency

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing recommendations for affected residents in the Southeast to minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses due to the aftermath of the weekend’s devastating storms and tornadoes.

“Particularly during times of emergency, food safety can be a critical public health risk,” said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. “In the affected areas, the American public should be aware that information is readily available to help them protect their food supply. It is our expectation that these guidelines will help people avoid any further complications from this extreme weather that has plagued the Southeast.”

Steps to follow to prepare for a possible weather emergency:

Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. An appliance thermometer will indicate the temperature inside the refrigerator and freezer in case of a power outage and help determine the safety of the food.

Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.

Make sure the freezer is at 0°F or below and the refrigerator is at 40°F or below.

Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers after the power is out.

Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately — this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.

Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.

Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.

Group food together in the freezer — this helps the food stay cold longer.

Steps to follow after the weather emergency:

Never taste a food to determine its safety!

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.

Thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.

Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved.

Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters. If bottled water is not available, tap water can be boiled for safety. Access the FSIS publication “Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency” at www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Keeping_Food_Safe_During_an_Emergency/index.asp for more information on drinking water safely during weather emergencies and on salvaging all-metal cans and retort packages.

The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) and the door remains closed.

Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after 4 hours without power.

Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below when checked with a food thermometer.

Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.

If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer. If the appliance thermometer reads 40°F or below, the food is safe to refreeze.

If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.

When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

Muses looking to 2012 season

Cosie fan Tutte
Deleen Davidson

The Muses Creative Artistry Project’s annual Opera Gala will be held on September 22, 2012 in Hot Springs Convention Center’s Horner Hall, Muses founder Deleen Davidson announced today.

Following Hot Springs’ enthusiastic response to the Muses’ presentation of Mozart’s “Magic Flute,” performed last September to a sell-out crowd in the Arlington Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom, Davidson stated, “It’s time we moved to a larger venue. Previous Opera Galas had been presented in Little Rock, because we had been told by some that Hot Springs would not come out for opera, but Hot Springs residents certainly proved those naysayers wrong. The full house was a tremendous encouragement.”

The Muses Creative Artistry Project, a non-profit arts organization designed to promote music, art, creativity and wellness, was founded in 2006 when Davidson relocated to Hot Springs from New Orleans after her home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Each year, the Muses brings performers from across the country to entertain audiences throughout Arkansas with world-class operas and classical performances.

The 2012 Opera Gala will feature another Mozart opera, “Cosi fan Tutte“ which when translated means “Women are like that” tells the surprisingly modern and funny tale about love and fidelity, offering deep insight into both. Muses fans will recognize some familiar names from past performances that will return Hot Springs to participate in this year’s performance. Michelle Pretto of New York City has previously been in Muses productions of “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Don Giovanni” and was unforgettable as Rosalinda in “Die Fledermaus.” Nicole Vogel, from Denver, has performed in several past Muses Christmas concerts as well as “Die Fledermaus” and “The Magic Flute.” And, of course, audiences always adore Stacy Murdock, the loveable Papegeno from “The Magic Flute” and Dr. Faulke in “Die Fledermaus.”

In addition to the popular Opera Gala, the Muses will present their seasonal concert subscription series, “The Four Seasons in Art & Song” at Garvan Woodland Gardens’ Anthony Chapel. The concerts are held on the third Sunday of each third month at 3 p.m.

The spring concert’s theme is “Printemps, Beauty of the French Art Song.” It will be held on March 18, featuring some of the most breathtaking music ever written by Debussy, Faure, Gounod, and Berlioz. Summer will be celebrated with Broadway tunes and other popular standards, in a performance aptly titled “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” to be held on Fathers’ Day, June 17. The Opera Gala performers will be in town to celebrate fall’s arrival on September 16 with “Opera Classics.” They will sing some of their favorite arias, duets, and ensembles, in preparation for the following week’s performance. And, of course, the Christmas season would be incomplete without the Muses’ presentation of the seventh annual “Voices of Angels” concert on December 16.

Series tickets are still available for $80, a $20 savings over individual prices of $25 per concert. Advance tickets are encouraged, as several of last year’s concerts were sold out in advance.

For more information about The Muses Creative Artistry Project or their 2012 season, contact the Muses at (501) 463-4514 or www.themusesproject.org. Or, stop by the Muses’ Three Arts CafĂ© and Bookstore, located in the lobby of the Hale Bathhouse in beautiful, historic downtown Hot Springs.

Teen Challenge kitchen renewed

On January 23, Teen Challenge hosted a "Kitchen Open House", a celebration of renewal. With the help of good neighbors and friends, Teen Challenge has renovated its kitchen. The kitchen now has a new stove, counters, flooring, vent hood, and sinks.

Teen Challenge was devastated during the April tornado that hit the region. Recovery has been an ongoing project since day one. Within a week of the ghastly tornado the area once occupied by the Vintage Mall was an empty cement slab. Damages to the kitchen facility have now been set right.

Teen Challenge thanks all who contributed to this special project. What a blessing. Significant Contributors to the Kitchen Renovation are: Teen Challenge Ladies Guild, Iola Whitver, Ruthie Hadsell, Healthy Move Class 11, Randy Rowland - Bates Fire Extinguisher Company, Melvin Bates of Gilliam Electric, Albert Bland of Albert Bland Plumbing and Les Surfas of the Culinary District.

Arrest of Fountain Lake school teacher

Timothy Brian Oshields

On January 6 the Arkansas State Police was made aware of an ongoing investigation at Fountain Lake school regarding a teacher allegedly having inappropriate relations with a student.

At 6:50 p.m. on January 24, Timothy Brian Oshields, a teacher at Fountain Lake Schools, was arrested on one count of computer child pronography and one count of sexual assault in the second degree. He is being held at the Garland County Detention Center. Bond has been set at $20,000.

O'Shields is a Hot Springs resident.

What constitutes sexual assault in the second degree in Garland County?

A recent arrest in Garland County prompted the Garland County Sheriff's Department to define sexual assault in the second degree.

A person commits sexual assault in the second degree if the person: is a teacher in a public school in a grade kindergarten through twelve (K-12) and engages in sexual contact with another person who is: (a) A student enrolled in a public school; and (b) less than twenty-one (21 years of age).

What constitutes computer child pronography in Garland County?

In light of the recent arrest of a Fountain Lake teacher for one count of computer child pronography, Garland County Sheriff's Department supplied the following definition.

A person commits computer child pornography if the person knowingly; (1) compiles, enters into, or transmits by means of computer, makes, prints, publishes, or reproduces by other computerized means, knowingly causes or allows to be entered into or transmitted by means of computer or buys, sells, receives, exchanges, or disseminates, any notice statement, or advertisement or any child's name, telephone number, place of residence, physical characteristics, or other descriptive or identifying information for purposes of facilitating, encouraging, offering, or soliciting sexually explicit conduct of or with any child or another individual believed by the person to be a child, or the visual depiction of the conduct; or (2) utilizes 'a computer online service, internet service, or local-bulletin board service to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child or another individual believed by the person to be a child, to engage in sexually explicit conduct.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rehab subcommittee scheduled meeting

WHO: Rehabilitation Subcommittee of the Governor’s Trauma Advisory Council

WHAT: Scheduled Meeting

WHEN: Tuesday, January 31, at 1 p.m.

WHERE: Freeway Medical Tower, Room #906 (Boardroom), 5800 West 10th Street Little Rock, AR 72204

WHY: This is a scheduled subcommittee meeting for general business related to state-wide efforts to build a trauma system in Arkansas.

Note: The meeting is open to the general public. If you have any questions or need directions, please contact the Trauma Section at 501-671-1428.

Conference Call Option: Members and guests who need to attend by conference call should follow these steps:

• To access the conference call, please phone: 1-800-390-5809

• Once you have reached the conference call center, you may use participant code 6711428 to join the meeting by phone.

Fountain Lake Middle School Team places in Youth Entrepreneur Showcase

Colorful Crayons of Fountain Lake Middle School in Hot Springs, under the sponsorship of Kathy Darin, is one of 26 finalists in Arkansas’s 7th annual Youth Entrepreneur Showcase (Y.E.S.), a statewide business plan competition for fifth to eighth graders. Y.E.S. began in 2005 as a collaborative project for middle school students and is sponsored by the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF), an affiliate of the Arkansas Capital Corporation.

Annually, over 50 Arkansas business leaders serve as volunteer judges to assist in the selection of the qualifying team finalists. This year 275 teams, made up of over 700 Arkansas students, accepted the challenge of creating a business plan for their product or service. Each team strived to have an innovative concept in order to compete for an opportunity to turn their business ideas into reality.

Colorful Crayons’ products are fun, big, cheaper, colorful crayons that anyone can use. Team members include Ethan Westerman, Brock Rigsby, Jessa Goodeaux, Scout Martin, and Stephen Turner. “Our product is made with broken and unwanted crayons,” the team noted. “Each crayon will be about the size of big candies, and some will even be multi-colored because we choose to hand prepare each batch to have a better product. And, each crayon will be bargain priced at only $.50 a piece.”

For the next round of the competition, the finalists are tasked with creating a comprehensive marketing piece and display booth that will showcase their concepts. All 26 products and/or services were on display and available for purchase on Friday, January 20, at Park Plaza Mall in Little Rock.
The top 26 teams compete for prizes in four categories: business plan, innovation, marketing and retail booth display, with the possibility that teams can win in more than one category. Each team member of the winning 1st place teams receives a $100 cash prize. The teachers of the 1st place teams take home an additional $500. Trophies will be awarded for all 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in each category.

The Arkansas Capital Corporation (ACC) was established in 1957 as a private, non-profit business development corporation that specializes in secured long-term financing to Arkansas’s small and medium size businesses. As of the state’s largest government lenders, ACC bridges the gap between the level of funding a business needs and what it is able to obtain through traditional financing sources.

AEAF is a 501c3 non-profit, education focused foundation that empowers budding and seasoned entrepreneurs with programs, resources and events, such as the business plan competitions:

• Y.E.S. for grades 5 through 8;

• Y.E.S. 2.0 for students in grades 9 – 12;

• the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup for undergraduate and graduate level college students; and,

• the Tri-State Award for the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup winners from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nevada.

For more information about the Y.E.S. competition or the 26 finalists, contact Janet Keller at (501) 517-4200. To learn more about the Arkansas Capital Corporation and its programs, contact Clay Mercer of the ACC at (800) 216-7237 or (501) 374-9247 or cmercer@arcapital.com.

CADC providing free tax preparation services in Pike County

Local residents in Pike County can receive valuable help at tax time from Central Arkansas Development Council, which is offering free tax preparation assistance.

In Pike County, free tax preparation will be offered at the CADC Glenwood Senior Activity Center, 229 Betty Street. The site is by appointment only and will be open January 30 until April 12. Call 870-867-0151 to make an appointment.

This year many workers will qualify for the Earned Income Credit (EIC) for the first time because their income declined or they became unemployed; tax refunds through the EIC and Child Tax Credit can help low- and moderate-income families cover day-to-day expenses such as utilities, rent, and child care. Families with three or more children also get an extra boost with a larger EIC this year.

The IRS estimates, however, that one-fourth of eligible people could miss out on the EIC because they don’t know about it, don’t know that they qualify, or don’t know where to find free tax filing assistance.

At CADC tax sites, IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers work one-on-one with families and individuals to help file their tax returns and ensure that they receive the tax credits for which they qualify. Sites also provide information on financial education classes and saving with US Savings Bonds. Customers can split refunds into multiple accounts, or if they don't hold a bank account, can receive their refund on a debit card. Customers generally receive federal refunds 7-10 days.

“Workers who earned around $50,000 or less in 2011 and were raising children should see if they qualify for the EIC,” said Larry Cogburn, executive director of CADC. “And single workers not raising children who earned less than $13,600 might qualify for a smaller EIC,” he added. “But you must file a federal income tax return to claim the EIC – even if you don’t earn enough to owe any federal income taxes.”

Persons utilizing the sites should bring their family's Social Security Cards, picture ID, W-2/1099s, a copy of last year's return, bank account information for direct deposit or splitting a refund to several accounts, and any other pertinent information.

CADC's Free Tax Sites will be located in Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hot Spring, Lonoke, Montgomery, Ouachita, Pike, Pulaski, Saline and Union Counties. For a complete site listing, go to http://www.cadc.com/.

CADC is a private nonprofit community action agency that was formed in 1965 to fight and win the “War on Poverty.” The mission of CADC is to improve the quality of life and build strong communities in Arkansas. For more information, please contact CADC at 501-778-1133.

Congressman Ross talks about fair pay for women

Ross Says Three Years since Passage, Legislation Already Making Difference for Women

Three years ago this week, Congress passed and the President signed into law a historic piece of legislation that advances the fight for women against wage discrimination. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was one of the first pieces of legislation passed in the 111th Congress and it was done so alongside the Paycheck Fairness Act, both of which work to close the unfair pay gap between men and women.

The name of the bill comes from a woman named Lilly Ledbetter who worked for nearly two decades at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Facility in Alabama. At the time, she was the lowest-paid supervisor at the plant, despite having more experience than several of her male counterparts. It wasn’t until an anonymous note from a coworker alerted her to the pay discrimination that she decided to sue the company. While she won her lawsuit in the lower courts, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Lilly waited too long to sue for pay, tossing aside longstanding laws and making it much harder for women and other workers to pursue pay discrimination claims.

More than 40 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act and Title VI, women are still being paid less for performing the same job as their male colleagues. In fact, the Institute of Women’s Policy Research in 2009 estimated that women earned just 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man, costing women anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million in wages over a lifetime.

Equal pay is not simply a women’s issue, but a family issue. The wage gap hurts everyone – husbands, wives, children and parents – because it lowers the overall family income. When women earn more, an entire family benefits. Given these tough economic times, this pay gap can often make a bad situation worse, particularly for the 41 percent of women who are their families’ sole source of income.

That’s why I was proud to help pass both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and the Paycheck Fairness Act. These key initiatives will help close the gender pay gap by giving women a longer time frame to challenge a discriminatory pay check, strengthening the Equal Pay Act of 1963, requiring employers to justify that unequal pay is not discriminatory and prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers.

Since its enactment, the law is already helping women all over the country get fair pay for their work. The courts sided with a female police office in Pennsylvania, who was making thousands less than her male counterparts. The courts also ruled in favor of a female professor in Mississippi who was denied tenure and a salary increase because of her gender.

While these new laws are an important step forward, we still have a long way to go. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act were two important bills I was proud to support, because they are key to strengthening our middle class families and putting our economy back on track. As your Congressman, I will keep fighting for you and keep working with both Democrats and Republicans to make this nation better and stronger for our children and grandchildren.

Chemical spill in Hot Springs

At approximately 11:52 a.m. yesterday morning, Tuesday, January 23, the Hot Springs Fire Department responded to a request for assistance from the Garland County Department of Emergency Management concerning a release of polyethylene glycol (antifreeze) at Kay and Nevada Streets. The accidental release of the compound resulted when a cooling line at a local business was severed, allowing the chemical to run into a drainage line and adjacent ditch.

Quick action by firefighters temporarily halted the chemical from draining into the local watershed. Crews from the Hot Springs Street Division soon responded to a fire department request for several truckloads of sand, which were used to dike a drainage ditch to impound the runoff from the spill.

Hot Springs Fire and Street personnel assisted at the scene until approximately 2:44 p.m.

New postal rate

As of January 22, it cost just a penny more to mail letters to any location in the United States, the first price change for First-Class Mail stamps (Forever stamps) in more than two and a half years. The new 45-cent price for Forever stamps is among price changes filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 22, 2012, include:

• Letters (1 oz.) – 1-cent increase to 45 cents

• Letters additional ounces – unchanged at 20 cents

• Postcards – 3-cent increase to 32 cents

• Letters to Canada or Mexico (1 oz.) – 5-cent increase to 85 cents.

• Letters to other international destinations – 7-cent increase to $1.05

Prices also will change for other mailing services, including Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services. Today’s announcement does not affect Express Mail and Priority Mail prices. More information on the new pricing is available at
 http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2011/pr11_factsht_pricechng_1018.pdf.

“The overall average price increase is small and is needed to help address our current financial crisis,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “We continue to take actions within our control to increase revenue in other ways and to aggressively cut costs. To return to sound financial footing we urgently need enactment of comprehensive, long-term legislation to provide the Postal Service with a more flexible business model.”

While actual percentage price increases for various products and services varies, the overall average price increase across all mailing services is capped by law at 2.1 percent, the rate of inflation calculated based on the Consumer Price Index.

First-Class Mail Presort mailers, when the new prices go into effect on Jan. 22, the second ounce for presorted letters will be free. “This gives companies expanded opportunities to advertise new services and products to their customers as part of bill and statement mailings,” said Paul Vogel, president and chief marketing/sales officer.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

IT free ride day

Hot Springs Intracity Transit will celebrate its 31st anniversary during the annual Free Ride Day from 6:10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 26 at the Transportation Depot, 100 Broadway Terrace. Buses and paratransit vans will operate all day at no charge. Participants are eligible to enter a prize drawing for an annual bus pass. Paratransit service for qualified disabled riders must be reserved in advance by calling 321-6625.

“Free Ride Day lets new riders experience our services, and gives us the opportunity to thank our regular riders as well,” said IT Resident Advisor Bob Reddish. “Everything is free, so leave your wallet at home and enjoy the day.” For more information, call, 321-2020.

Souper Bowl for Habitat for Humanity

Saline County Habitat for Humanity presents The 2012 Apostles Build SOUPER BOWL Cookoff.

soup & chili competition*

JOIN HABITAT FOR HUMANITY FOR LUNCH
Friday, February 3
First United Methodist Church, Benton
Family Life Center
11a.m. to 2 p.m.
$5 per ticket*

*Tickets available at the door or can be purchased at the Habitat ReStore on Market Street.

Habitat for Humanity of Saline County, AR
404 W. Walnut
Benton, AR 72015
501-315-5434
http://www.habitatsalinecountyar.org/

CADC to distribute USDA commodities today and tomorrow in Pike and Montgomery Counties

Central Arkansas Development Council will distribute USDA commodities January 24-25 in Pike and Montgomery Counties.

Pike County’s distributions will take place from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and Noon to 3 p.m. at the CADC Glenwood Senior Activity Center at 229 Betty St. and from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 3 p.m. at the CADC Murfreesboro Senior Activity Center at 120 E. Court St., Ste. A.

Montgomery County’s distribution will take place from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 3 p.m. at the CADC Mt. Ida Senior Activity Center at 158 Senior Dr.

The food items to be distributed may include whole kernel corn, refried beans, spaghetti sauce, applesauce, frozen chicken leg quarters and rotini pasta.

To be eligible to receive USDA commodities, income guidelines must be met. The income guidelines for this program are based on 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Based on these guidelines, a one person household must make less than $14,157 per year to qualify for this program. For each additional family member, add $4,966.

This is an equal opportunity program. In accordance with federal law and US Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington DC 20250.

CADC is a private nonprofit community action agency that was formed in 1965 to fight and win the “War on Poverty.” The mission of CADC is to improve the quality of life and build strong communities in Arkansas. For more information, please contact Evelyn Reed at 501-778-1133.

Another Faulkner County tremblor

2.3 Md - ARKANSAS

Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 2.3 Md
Date-Time 24 Jan 2012 16:32:30 UTC
24 Jan 2012 10:32:30 near epicenter
24 Jan 2012 10:32:30 standard time in your timezone

Location 35.491N 92.258W
Depth 0 km
Distances 10 km (6 miles) SSW (209 degrees) of Higden, AR
12 km (8 miles) S (177 degrees) of Fairfield Bay, AR
13 km (8 miles) NNW (344 degrees) of Quitman, AR
84 km (52 miles) N (5 degrees) of Little Rock, AR
392 km (244 miles) SSW (208 degrees) of St. Louis, MO

Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 1.6 km; Vertical 2.0 km
Parameters Nph = 20; Dmin = 13.0 km; Rmss = 0.20 seconds; Gp = 57°
M-type = Md; Version = A
Event ID NM 012401a

Monday, January 23, 2012

Small earthquake near Morrilton

2.2 Md - ARKANSAS
Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 2.2 Md
Date-Time 23 Jan 2012 07:24:38 UTC
23 Jan 2012 01:24:38 near epicenter
23 Jan 2012 01:24:38 standard time in your timezone

Location 35.304N 92.724W
Depth 5 km
Distances 17 km (10 miles) N (6 degrees) of Morrilton, AR
18 km (11 miles) NNW (335 degrees) of Plumerville, AR
21 km (13 miles) ENE (71 degrees) of Atkins, AR
73 km (45 miles) NNW (331 degrees) of Little Rock, AR
430 km (267 miles) SSW (212 degrees) of St. Louis, MO

Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 2.0 km; Vertical 3.4 km
Parameters Nph = 14; Dmin = 17.0 km; Rmss = 0.26 seconds; Gp = 147°
M-type = Md; Version = A
Event ID NM 012301a

Hot Springs planning commission meeting

The Hot Springs planning commission will hold a work session at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, January 26 in the Board Chambers at City Hall, 133 Convention Boulevard, to review the Hot Springs Board of Directors’ assignment to study the city’s Adopted Planning Area and to make recommendations about its future scope and administration. County officials and other representatives have been invited to attend.

The agenda will include a review of the board’s assignment; slideshow of existing as well as hypothetical use and development regulatory schemes; mapped information; and the establishment of a timeline for future action, including the scheduling of a future citizen meeting.

Arkansan honored by stamp

The U.S. Postal Service will hold a First-Day-of-Sale event for the 2012 Black Heritage stamp (Forever priced at 45 cents), honoring Arkansas Native and publisher John H. Johnson, Tuesday, January 31, at Desha County Courthouse, Robert S. Morris St, Arkansas City, AR, at 10:30 a.m. Mr. Johnson was born in Arkansas City, AR and spent a large part of his childhood years there until he moved to Chicago, IL where he later founded his publishing business.

Johnson (1918 – 2005) is the trailblazing publisher of Ebony, Jet, and other magazines, and an entrepreneur who in 1982 became the first African American listed by Forbes magazine as one of the 400 wealthiest people in America. Johnson overcame poverty and racism to build a business empire embracing magazines, radio stations, cosmetics, and more. His magazines portrayed black people positively at a time when such representation was rare, and played an important role in the civil rights movement.

“I am proud to be part of this event that recognizes and honors a fellow, native Arkansan,” said David Camp, Arkansas District Manager. “Mr. Johnson was an amazing change-maker and his legacy will continue through the issuance of this stamp.”

The Postal Service has recognized the achievements of prominent African Americans through the Black Heritage series since 1978. This stamp honoring Johnson is the 35th stamp in that series, which highlights outstanding individuals who helped shape American culture.

The Black Heritage stamp honoring John H. Johnson is being issued as a Forever® stamp. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

A free pictorial postmark will be available with a stamp purchase. A limited supply of cachet envelopes will be available to purchase for $5.00 each at the event and sheets of stamps as well.

The stamp, designed by USPS art director Howard Paine, features a photograph of John H. Johnson by Bachrach Studios. The photographer was David McCann.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Road closures in Hot Springs

Today, Monday, January 23, due to guard rail replacement at the Hot Springs Creek bridge on Golf Links Road, the road will be closed down to the outside lane. When that side is completed, the inside lane will be closed. Flaggers will be on side to direct traffic.

On Tuesday, January 24, guard rail replacements will be implemented on Michael Street, north of Leonard Street. The Michael Street bridge will be closed during construction. Motorists will need to enter and exit Michael Street via Woodlawn Avenue.

The start time for both projects is 8 a.m. The area will be re-opened when each project is completed, which is estimated to take one full day.

Six candidates for POA board of directors

Six candidates have filed for positions on the Hot Springs Village Property Owners’ Association Board of Directors. There are three seats up for election in 2012.

Incumbent board directors Bob Brandt and Katie Feather are seeking re-election; board director Mike Misch is term limited.

Villagers Bobbie Bateman, Tom Elliott, Keith Keck and Frank Leeming have also announced their bids for a seat on the seven member board.

Candidates are members in good standing of the Village Property Owners’ Association and are not employees of the association.

Candidates completed a 250-word statement which represents their views including their background information, when they became a property owner, their current community involvement and why they wish to serve on the board of directors. These statements will be printed in the Spring 2012 Property Owners’ Association Advocate, which is sent to all property owners in early March. They will also be posted on hsvpoa.org/news and announcements in mid-February.

Candidates were also required to submit a petition with 50 signatures of property owners in good standing requesting that their name appear on the election ballot.

Ballots will be mailed on Friday, March 9. All ballots must be received back to the POA no later than 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28. On Thursday, March 29, the POA staff will count the ballots and submit the results to the general manager, who will notify the current board of directors, all candidates and issue a press release with the results.

Newly elected board members will be seated at the conclusion of the Wednesday, April 18, POA regular board meeting.

Garland County teen slected as Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist

Robert Watkins, a senior at Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, is the only Arkansas student to be selected as a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search.

The Intel® Science Talent Search®, a program of Society for Science & the Public (SSP), is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science research competition for high school seniors. Since 1942, SSP has provided a national stage for the country's best and brightest young scientists to present original research to nationally recognized professional scientists.

Watkins’ project, “Form Follows Function: A Venomous Explanation for the Exceptional Allosaurus,” compares modern Komodo dragons of Indonesia that use venom to hunt with the Jurassic Allosaurus, a cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex, to determine how the Allosaurus was able to kill its giant dinosaur prey.

Watkins, who has been interested in dinosaurs since he was four years old, spent his summer break traveling to museums in Utah and Kansas to examine fossil skulls and corresponded with top researchers around the world in America, Europe and Australia.

“We are very proud of Bobby’s new achievement,” said Dr. Janice Sullivan, ASMSA dean of academic affairs. “Becoming a semifinalist for the Intel Science Talent Search is another example of Bobby’s creativity and commitment combined with the higher level of education ASMSA students are exposed to on a daily basis.”

As a semifinalist, Watkins will receive a $1,000 award from the Intel Foundation with an additional $1,000 award going to ASMSA. Watkins is the son of Keeylia Watkins of Garland City and the late Michael Watkins.

The 300 semifinalists were selected from 1,839 entrants in 28 states, the District of Columbia and one American high school overseas.

On Jan. 25, 40 of the semifinalists will be named as finalists and will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C., from March 8-13. The winners will be selected based on rigorous judging sessions and announced at a gala at the National Building Museum on March 13. The top award is $100,000 with the remaining top 10 receiving awards totaling $305,000.

About ASMSA: The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts is one of 13 public residential high schools in the country specializing in the education of academically gifted juniors and seniors. Located in historic downtown Hot Springs, the school is a campus of the University of Arkansas system. ASMSA also provides an award-winning K-12 distance education program that serves nearly 3,500 students. The ASMSA Office of Distance Education offers real time, interactive video courses in virtually all disciplines to schools nationwide. For more information about Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, visit www.asmsa.org or call 1-800-345-2767.

Arkansas Secretary of State Martin certified Green Party petition

Secretary of State Mark Martin certified as sufficient a petition submitted on behalf of the Green Party of Arkansas to form a new political party. The party has met the requirements for its candidates to appear on ballots through the November 2012 General Election.

A.C.A. § 7-7-205 allows any group wishing to form a new political party to do so by submitting a petition to the Secretary of State. The petition must contain the signatures of at least 10,000 registered voters. The Green Party of Arkansas submitted its petition on December 20, 2011 , and the Secretary of State's office verified a sufficient number of valid signatures from registered Arkansas voters. Party status shall be maintained as long as statutory requirements are met.

In addition, Secretary Martin wants to take this opportunity to highlight some of the changes enacted last year. Act 1036 of 2011 requires that new political parties must complete their selection process for candidates by convention, must hold that convention naming those candidates, and all of their candidates must file political practices pledges, no later than NOON on the date of the May 22, 2012, preferential primary election. With this new party certification, the Green Party of Arkansas is the first political party explicitly covered by Act 1036.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Natzke update

I spoke with Lt. James Martin of the Garland County Sheriff's Department late yesterday and he said there is nothing new for him to report on the Natzke matter at this time. Still no arrests.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2.0 Md earthquake in Faulner County last night

2.0 Md - ARKANSAS
Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 2.0 Md
Date-Time 19 Jan 2012 04:54:35 UTC
18 Jan 2012 22:54:35 near epicenter
18 Jan 2012 22:54:35 standard time in your timezone

Location 35.486N 92.264W
Depth 0 km
Distances 11 km (7 miles) SSW (210 degrees) of Higden, AR
12 km (8 miles) NNW (340 degrees) of Quitman, AR
13 km (8 miles) S (180 degrees) of Fairfield Bay, AR
84 km (52 miles) N (4 degrees) of Little Rock, AR
393 km (244 miles) SSW (208 degrees) of St. Louis, MO

Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 1.8 km; Vertical 2.0 km
Parameters Nph = 16; Dmin = 13.0 km; Rmss = 0.31 seconds; Gp = 126°
M-type = Md; Version = A
Event ID NM 011901b

Senator Mark Pryor speaks out on the Project IP Act, PIPA

"While I commend the ongoing efforts to prevent online piracy, I am concerned that the Protect IP Act (PIPA) has too many unanswered questions and could lead to many unintended consequences. We need a solution that will protect intellectual property without restricting American’s rights to an open Internet. I believe we can do better, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to find a solution."

Ross weighs in on Keystone decision

U.S. Congressman Mike Ross of Prescott on Wednesday criticized President Obama’s decision to reject the permits to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canada to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico and create thousands of jobs in America, while reducing our dependence on oil from places like the Middle East and Venezuela. Ross, who is a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, is an ardent supporter of the pipeline and helped pass a bill last year in the House of Representatives to expedite its approval process.

“Last year, the unrest in the oil-rich Middle East and in places like Libya is proof that we have got to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. It’s a threat to our economy, national security and way of life,” said Ross. “This Canada-to-Gulf pipeline will carry almost one million barrels of oil a day from our North American neighbor and ally in Canada, to refineries on the Gulf, creating jobs here at home and making our nation more energy independent, which is why I’m disappointed the President rejected the project. The pipeline has so far met all of the environmental standards required for its construction and I strongly urge the President to reconsider his decision. If not, I urge the White House to work with all parties involved to find common ground, such as an alternative route, to build this pipeline as safely and as soon as possible.”

Completion of the Keystone XL pipeline would bring about one million barrels of oil per day to U.S. markets. Construction of the pipeline expansion is estimated to directly and indirectly create thousands of U.S. private-sector jobs. In fact, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the U.S. and Canada wrote a letter to Congress supporting the pipeline, arguing the project will generate $6.5 billion in income for workers.

Ross worked with Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., to help pass a bill in the House Energy & Commerce Committee that would expedite approval of the pipeline, called the North American-Made Energy Security Act, H.R. 1938. The full House of Representatives passed the bill on July 26 with bipartisan support, but the Senate never considered the bill.

“We need jobs and we need jobs now. Building and opening this pipeline are commonsense, straightforward actions our government can take to create private-sector jobs, boost economic development and lower the price of fuel for all Americans,” said Ross. “Our nation must take serious steps to reduce our dependence on oil from OPEC and the Middle East because Americans need a stable, affordable supply of energy. The high costs of gas and other forms of energy continue to make it harder for Arkansas's working families to make ends meet and I will keep working hard in Congress to lower the price at the pump and secure our nation’s long-term energy security.”