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Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 6:14 p.m.
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TOP 10: The week's top Arkansas stories


Scroll down to see 10 of the biggest and most-read Arkansas news stories from the past week.

No. 10

Political parties tap apps to track, persuade voters

Both the Republicans and the Democrats have stepped up their ground games in Arkansas as Election Day approaches, finding new ways to reach individual voters using technology and an unprecedented amount of manpower. According to organizers for both parties, they're using technology in new ways to identify voters, target messages and get those people to the polls. And both parties are banking on high-tech computer apps to actually make retail politics more personal.
[FULL STORY]

No. 9

City laments: Oh, Christmas tree

The Christmas tree that "was a lemon from the start" is back in Conway, but no one is celebrating its return. The Northwest Arkansas company that sold the city the 54-foot-tall, $130,000 cone-shaped tree quietly went out of business and never repaired the tree that malfunctioned throughout last year's holidays.
[FULL STORY]

No. 8

Airport panel briefed on plans for concourse revamp

More than $17.6 million in proposed improvements unveiled Tuesday for the aging concourse at the state's largest airport will include new boarding bridges and gate furniture, more power outlets to keep passengers' smartphones and other electronic devices charged, and what is billed as the fastest free Wi-Fi service at a U.S. airport.
[FULL STORY]

No. 7

Minimum wage group turns in petition haul

A group hoping to raise Arkansas' minimum wage submitted close to 70,000 more petition signatures Monday to try to get the measure on the November ballot.
[FULL STORY]

No. 6

Lottery dials back budget projections

The Arkansas Lottery Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a revised budget that reduces its projection for money raised for scholarships by $3 million to $78.2 million. It also voted to close three regional prize claim centers in a cost-cutting move.
[FULL STORY]

No. 5

Pedestrian dies; now the charge is murder

The woman who was struck and dragged by a pickup in a Bryant parking lot died Friday morning, just hours before the accused driver of the vehicle appeared in court.
[FULL STORY]

No. 4

Man guilty in murder at LR mall

A Pulaski County jury deliberated about 30 minutes Wednesday before deciding to send the 20-year-old Little Rock man charged in the killing of a restaurant manager during a Park Plaza holdup to prison for life.
[FULL STORY]

No. 3

After police chief resigns, Sun reporter returns to newsroom

Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates has resigned effective immediately just days after he was suspended without pay for comments he made online about a local reporter.
[FULL STORY]

No. 2

Ruling finalizes desegregation pact

A federal judge on Thursday issued a consent judgment that incorporates the Jan. 13 settlement agreement, dismisses some of the parties and describes the court's role going forward in the long-running Pulaski County school desegregation lawsuit.
[FULL STORY]

No. 1

Hearing takes up defaults on grain

Farmers in Arkansas and some neighboring states stand to lose $20 million — possibly as much as $50 million — in the payment defaults of Turner Grain Merchandising in Brinkley, according to statements made by agricultural officials during a legislative committee hearing Friday.
[FULL STORY]

Aug. 12-18

No. 10

New dog lapping up golf course job

Little Rock's newest four-legged employee, Jill, is a little unruly and still getting used to her work at Rebsamen Golf Course, but Facility Supervisor George Earls said she's still a breeze with which to work.
[FULL STORY]

No. 9

Freight trains collide in Hoxie, killing two

Two Union Pacific freight trains collided in Hoxie early Sunday morning, killing two crew members, injuring two others and forcing the evacuation of more than 300 people in the Lawrence County town.
[FULL STORY]

No. 8

Redfield biding time on Osborne’s house

Overgrown shrubs obscure some of the windows at 4 Robinwood Drive, the Cantrell Road-facing mansion once owned by late Little Rock philanthropist Jennings Osborne. In places, the thick green leaves reach well past the roof, and vines snake along the white brick wall surrounding the property.
[FULL STORY]

No. 7

Roses, miles of thread preview of art to come

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art's long-awaited contemporary art exhibition "State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now" opens one month from today, though some of its large-scale art installations are already visible to museum patrons.
[FULL STORY]

No. 6

Plan to assign letter grades divides board

The Arkansas Department of Education proposed Thursday a process to assign A-through-F letter grades to the state's public schools.
[FULL STORY]

No. 5

For $2 million, inventor reels in Dogpatch acres

What is left of the former Dogpatch theme park in Newton County was sold Wednesday for about $2 million to the inventor of a "spill-proof" dog bowl and his partners. Charles "Bud" Pelsor said he wants to turn the 400-acre site into an ecotourism "village" complete with artisans, a restaurant, and a creek stocked with trout and freshwater pearl mussels.
[FULL STORY]

No. 4

Alcohol petition adds 6,332 pages

Advocates for expanding the sale of alcohol in Arkansas submitted more than 41,000 signatures in a final effort to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in November.
[FULL STORY]

No. 3

Low-cost school net fix do-able, nonprofit says

Arkansas can provide good Internet access to all of its school districts without raising spending sharply if it stops using copper and starts using fiber optic cable, a high-tech nonprofit said.
[FULL STORY]

No. 2

2 call for vote to scrap No. 2 job

Sens. Keith Ingram and Jimmy Hickey said they will introduce a proposed constitutional amendment during the next legislative session to eliminate the lieutenant governor's office. The post was held by Mark Darr (pictured) before he resigned Feb. 1 under pressure after he was found to have misspent $41,000 in public and campaign funds while in office.
[FULL STORY]

No. 1

Campaign-finance files onerous

Arkansas ranks as one of the most difficult states for the public to learn who's donating campaign money to candidates for state office — especially in the biggest, most-talked-about races.
[FULL STORY]

Aug. 4-11

    No. 10

    In Hope, hopefuls messy and wet

    With rain falling and the ground sopping wet, there weren’t many observers Saturday for the Hope Watermelon Festival’s annual Politically Correct Watermelon Eating Contest. But most of the state’s leading office seekers showed up anyway, participating in a tasty, messy but obligatory Arkansas campaign ritual.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 9

    Pump prices start August down

    Abundant gasoline and weaker demand is nudging retail gasoline prices lower, energy analysts said Friday.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 8

    Google Street View car crashes in LR

    A Google Street View vehicle crashed into a Sherwood man’s car on Cantrell Road in Little Rock around 6 p.m. Wednesday.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 7

    Mom on reality show admits to sex with boy

    The 34-year-old Sherwood woman once featured on a reality TV show about competitive cheerleading accepted a 10-year prison sentence Thursday for having sex with a boy in an arrangement that requires her to keep away from the 13-year-old for at least 20 years.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 6

    Police defend muting radios

    Little Rock police officials said they felt the need to encrypt most of their radio traffic to make things simpler and avoid a confusing situation that could put officers in peril.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 5

    Phone booth stands tall after close call

    The Prairie Grove Telephone Co. reinstalled its last remaining phone booth Tuesday in front of the Colonial Motel across from the entrance to Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park. The phone booth, which had been in place since 1959, was knocked down June 7 by a sport utility vehicle that strayed from U.S. 62.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 4

    Revenue below forecast as state starts fiscal ’15

    The state's general revenue collections in the first month of fiscal 2015 were lower than expected, according to a revenue report released Monday by the state Department of Finance and Administration.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 3

    Woman admits setting 7 fires at LR complex

    A Little Rock woman admitted Friday in federal court that she set seven fires last year at the Forest Place Apartments in midtown, permanently displacing 90 people, causing at least $12.5 million in damage and injuring two Little Rock firefighters.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 2

    Slayer of three in home gets life

    Riakos Lizana, 21, pleaded guilty to the December 2012 slayings of Marley Crutchfield, 4, Adiele Crutchfield, 6, and their stepfather, Bobby Jean Galbraith, 40. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 1

    Maggio's exit from bench to be forever

    Circuit Judge Michael Maggio and a state agency have agreed to sanctions that would suspend him from all judicial duties until year's end and then prohibit him from ever serving as a judge again in Arkansas, the agency announced Wednesday.
    [FULL STORY]

July 26-Aug. 1

    No. 10

    LR student makes finals on Jeopardy! teen edition

    Cooper Lair, a 15-year-old sophomore at Little Rock Christian Academy, earned a shot at $75,000 in the Jeopardy "Teen Tournament" finals after besting two competitors in the tournament semifinals in an episode that aired Tuesday. The final episode airs at 2 p.m. today.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 9

    Pryor, Boozman say politics aside, they are good friends

    U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman say fighting between the chamber's Republican and Democratic leaders hasn't affected their relationship and that they think it benefits Arkansas if they work together.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 8

    Teachers, principals gear up for new evaluation systems

    Arkansas public schools are moving forward with new statewide teacher and administrator evaluation systems in the coming 2014-15 school year, after piloting the systems this past year with at least one teacher and one administrator per school.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 7

    Teen offenders leave cells behind

    The Garland County Juvenile Detention Center’s new Life Intensive Skills Training program aims to keep nonviolent youths out of detention by providing daily classes on cooking, physical fitness, art and music.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 6

    LR sets traps to corral stray animals

    Little Rock Animal Services Manager Tracy Roark estimates that his staff has caught about 200 stray animals by traps this year, and about 60 percent of those were euthanized because of illness or aggressive behavior.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 5

    Everyone listed in PACs was notified, Baker says

    Former state Sen. Gilbert Baker said under oath that despite reports to the contrary, he believes he contacted everyone he was supposed to notify before listing their names on several political action committees that have since become mired in contention surrounding campaign contributions to Circuit Judge Michael Maggio.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 4

    Traffic engineers in LR, NLR plan for bridge closure

    As many as half of the 24,000 vehicles now using the Broadway Bridge daily are projected to use the nearby Main Street Bridge as an alternative when the Arkansas River crossing is closed for up to two years while a new one is built.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 3

    Hutchinson to pay homestead penalty tab

    Republican gubernatorial nominee Asa Hutchinson said he'll give Pulaski County $1,750 for improperly claiming homestead tax credits there, even though the statute of limitations has expired. Hutchinson of Rogers had simultaneously claimed the tax credit in both Pulaski and Benton counties for tax years 2008-11.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 2

    LR today puts police radio in encryption

    With the exception of conversations with other city departments on "open" group radio channels, the Little Rock Police Department’s day-to-day radio calls, ranging from bank robberies to traffic accidents, will no longer be available to the public.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 1

    Wife, mom of 2 dead in woods is out of jail

    The woman whose baby and husband were found dead in the Ouachita Mountains on Tuesday posted a $50,000 bond and was released from the Yell County jail Wednesday evening. Brooke Floyd, 21, of Greenwood in Sebastian County was arrested in the case involving her 10-month-old son, Harper Floyd, and 33-year-old husband, Brian Floyd, whose bodies were found by U.S. Forest Service members Tuesday afternoon after a four-day ground and air search.
    [FULL STORY]

July 19-25

    No. 10

    Truck downs wires, blocks U.S. 67/167 at rush hour

    U.S. 67/167 closed to traffic in both directions during rush hour Wednesday morning after a truck knocked power lines down across the highway.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 9

    New NLR elementary school first to open in districtwide overhaul

    For the first time in nearly 45 years, the North Little Rock School District will start this school year with the opening of a newly constructed school — a new Meadow Park Elementary to replace a building with the same name in the Prothro Junction area of the city.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 8

    Parents of Cotton, Pryor on stump to define sons

    Avis Cotton and Barbara Pryor both wear mementos near their hearts that remind them of their sons. For Barbara Pryor, it's a shiny silver antique broach shaped like a donkey that Mark Pryor and his brothers gave her decades ago.

    Fifty miles away in Dardanelle, sitting with her hands clasped around a red coffee cup at her kitchen table, Avis Cotton's small, metal, ribbon-shaped American flag pin almost blends into her blue shirt. The pin shows her support for her son and all the others who have fought for their country.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 7

    Base lockdown was a false alarm

    A lockdown of Little Rock Air Force Base that lasted more than four hours Wednesday was caused by a "case of mistaken identity," base spokesman Lt. Mallory Thornton said in a news release.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 6

    Police say bandwidth limits reach of cameras

    Little Rock police cameras positioned across the city last year in a $500,000 Internet-based surveillance network are yielding lower-quality footage because of bandwidth limitations.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 5

    Arkansas slips a notch in 2014 Kids Count study

    Arkansas dropped one spot nationally — from 40 to 41 — in this year's Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count study on children's well-being, though the state improved from last year's statistics in more categories than it declined in.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 4

    Jogger in hit-and-run dies; no leads yet, LR police say

    The Little Rock jogger struck by a vehicle near his midtown residence died late Tuesday, according to police. Barry Livingston, 76, was pronounced dead at a hospital by the state medical examiner, according to Little Rock Police Department spokesman Lt. Sidney Allen, just a day after Livingston was found lying in a roadside patch of grass near his home.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 3

    State OKs $1 satellite-lockup deal

    The state Board of Corrections unanimously approved a contract to house state prisoners in an unused Pulaski County satellite facility during a Monday morning conference call.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 2

    Clubs’ 5 a.m.-closing issue makes 2 directors detectives

    The Little Rock Board of Directors has been flirting with the idea of limiting private club hours to 2 a.m. since last fall. Most bars and clubs in the city already have to stop selling alcohol by 2 a.m., but there are 13 establishments that have permits from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to serve alcohol until 5 a.m.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 1

    Tolls on I-40 seen in study as a way to add more lanes

    Tolls could generate enough money to build an additional lane in each direction on the 110-mile section of Interstate 40 between North Little Rock and West Memphis, according to a study ordered by the Arkansas Highway Commission.
    [FULL STORY]

July 12-18

    No. 10

    LR's Main Street corridor draws 2 more restaurants

    Two restaurants are planned for downtown Little Rock in the resurgent Main Street corridor. Chris Tanner, owner of Cheers in the Heights, said Thursday that he will open Samantha's Tap Room and Wood Grill in the Mann on Main building, possibly by the end of the year. Justin Patterson, owner of The Southern Gourmasian, a mobile restaurant, will make a home in the Sterling annex building at 219 W. Capitol Ave., he said.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 9

    Pine Bluff couple found dead in upscale neighborhood

    Jefferson County authorities are investigating the death of a couple whose bodies were found last Friday morning at a home in an upscale neighborhood just outside Pine Bluff.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 8

    Crystal Bridges exhibit taps 4 in state

    After nearly 1,000 studio visits across the country and hundreds of hours of interviews with largely undiscovered artists, officials at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art have chosen 102 artists for a first-of-its-kind exhibition — "State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now."
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 7

    Cottage-style design for new veterans home at NLR site unveiled

    Architects proposed Tuesday a cottage-style design for the new veterans home that will be built in North Little Rock. The first public presentation of the design comes two years after Cissy Rucker, director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, announced the closure of the Little Rock Veterans Home at 4701 W. Charles Bussey Ave., which had structural problems that would have cost more than $10 million to repair.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 6

    Texas ricin mailer sentenced to 18 years

    A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a former actress to 18 years in prison for mailing letters containing ricin to President Barack Obama, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a Washington, D.C.-based gun-control advocate.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 5

    Plan for tech park draws opposition

    Some historic preservationists are upset that the preliminary site plan for Little Rock's future technology park calls for demolishing the old Worthen Bank building that houses KATV now, but park development officials say there's a chance the building won't have to be torn down.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 4

    Exxon: Can’t settle on cause of rupture

    Exxon Mobil has told federal regulators that it could not determine what sped the growth of decades-old cracks in its Pegasus pipeline, causing the line to rupture and spill crude oil into a Mayflower neighborhood last year. A pipeline safety consultant advising Central Arkansas Water countered Monday that he doesn't believe the oil giant's statement.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 3

    With no council, Fisher could lost its status as a city

    The Fisher City Council hasn't met since at least July 2012. If residents don't run for the open seats soon, the town of 223 people could lose its charter and be absorbed by the county.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 2

    I-30 bridge's rehab is revived as option

    Engineers working on an estimated $450 million project to ease congestion on the Interstate 30 corridor through North Little Rock and Little Rock have reversed course on a recent decision to replace the highway's bridge over the Arkansas River and now want to explore all potential options.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 1

    LR says ride-sharing service is illegal

    Little Rock's city attorney has sent a letter to ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft, which both recently began advertising for drivers here, informing them that the service is illegal and that they must abide by taxicab regulations if they want to operate in the city.
    [FULL STORY]

July 4-11

    No. 10

    Rescue of veteran and dog

    When James Blanford hooks a leash to his dog, Rocky, he's not just preparing for a walk. The 35-year-old former Army sergeant is fighting back against a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis that ended his career and changed his life.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 9

    Restorers taking panes at Capitol

    Nathan Cathey and Lynn Fitzgerald are two of a handful of people at Soos Stained Glass Inc. restoring the panels of stained glass that make up the inner dome of the Capitol building's House chamber. Workers took out all 448 panels from the dome of the chamber and transferred them to the Soos workshop in North Little Rock, where they will be restored in the coming months.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 8

    Shots fired as teens removed from Harry Potter screening

    Shots rang out in Little Rock's River Market district Wednesday night after a group of "unruly" teenagers were removed by police from a free, outdoor showing of a Harry Potter film. There were no reports of injuries. The Little Rock Police Department said it started when officers escorted a large group of teenagers from the Movies in the Park screening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the River Market Amphitheater "due to their unruly behavior." Multiple shots were fired. No arrests have been made.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 7

    LR man admits to killing cousin

    Joe Louis Wicker, a 41-year-old Little Rock man arrested with his slain cousin's ring in his pocket, admitted Monday to killing the beloved elementary school cafeteria worker, and accepted a 50-year prison sentence. The sentencing came almost three months after 56-year-old Debbie Jean Moore-Bush was found stabbed to death in her Tatum Street home.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 6

    Closing veterans home in LR cast some adrift

    There's no quick fix for the veterans displaced by the November 2012 closure of the Little Rock Veterans Home after inspectors estimated its structural problems would cost millions to fix.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 5

    26 schools given ‘distressed’ label

    The Arkansas Board of Education on Thursday classified 26 schools as academically distressed, the first time it has singled out individual campuses — rather than entire districts — for the designation, which carries sanctions. The board labeled the schools because fewer than half of their students scored at proficient or better levels on state Benchmark and End of Course exams over a three-year time period, 2011-13.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 4

    Parcel in core of LR choice for tech park

    The Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board voted Wednesday to pursue property located in and adjacent to a downtown city block between Main and Scott streets off Capitol Avenue to become the home of the future tech park. The site includes KATV's studio and parking garage, the vacant building often referred to as the old Stephens building, the Exchange Bank building and its annex, the Mays, Byrd and Associates law firm, and five parking lots.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 3

    KILLER ON THE RUN: Escapee vanishes, town a bit jumpy

    Downtown Booneville remains quiet on a recent afternoon. Authorities, though, are keeping an eye on the area, searching for escaped prison inmate Timothy Buffington, who used to live in Booneville.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 2

    Signatures in to add alcohol, wage to ballot

    Groups supporting proposed ballot measures to allow statewide alcohol sales and raise Arkansas' minimum wage submitted signatures to the secretary of state's office Monday — the last day to do so to get on the ballot this year.
    [FULL STORY]

    No. 1

    THIS WAY TO $100: Secret benefactor has town hunting

    Someone in Osceloa, a town of 7,553, is hiding envelopes with $100 bills on historical properties and leaving clues to their whereabouts in the local newspaper. The person, who wants to remain anonymous and refers to himself only as "Pass it on Pete," has hidden five envelopes so far.
    [FULL STORY]

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