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Big news for Maumelle
Tractor Supply to build $100 million facility in city, The Covid news is all bad, Planning Commission to meet tonight, Ware and Smith named McDonald's All-Americans, plus news and sports headlines
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Asterisks and Covid: A cautionary tale
Arkansas came with asterisks this week.
That’s never a good sign and even more foreboding when it is the Covid death forecast from the Centers for Disease Control.
This is the note:
“**New weekly deaths may increase in this location over the next four weeks. For these locations, the ensemble forecast indicates a probability of 0.75 or greater that more deaths will be reported in week four of the forecast than in the last reported week.”
Deaths are already off the charts here and it is going to get worse.
Much, much worse..
The topline forecast is pushing 12,000 deaths.
Weekly deaths are off the charts bad and there’s not much reason for optimism.
As of Wednesday, Arkansas has 9,574 people die. Making the Covid cemetery the state’s 40th largest city.
There’s 84,225 active cases and there’s now been 756,385 cases total in a state of three million people. If each case was a single person, that would be a fourth of Arkansas, who have or have had Covid.
There’s been nearly 200,000 cases added just this month as omicron has had its way with Arkansans. On Jan. 2, it was 567,824 cases. On Jan. 26, it was 756,385.
If you don’t want to get sick and die, there’s some things you can do.
Wear a mask
Nearly 80 percent of school districts have extremely high rates of Covid-19 infections
In a Thursday afternoon press release, the Arkansas Center Health Improvement said its recently added “pink zone,” showed that nearly 80 percent of public school districts in Arkansas had at least 2 percent of the local population known to be newly infected with Covid-19.
ACHI cited its analysis of Arkansas Department of Health data current as of Monday for the report.
ACHI’s updated school districts map shows that 186, or 79 percent of districts have Covid-19 infection rates of 200 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents, up from 170 last week and a new record. The map is available at achi.net/covid19.
For the second consecutive week, all of Arkansas’s 234 contiguous public school districts have COovid19 infection rates of 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period. A district with 50 to 99 new known infections per 10,000 residents is shaded red on ACHI’s map, and a district with 100 to 199 new known infections per 10,000 residents, or at least 1% of the district’s population, is shaded purple.
The map released Thursday includes two districts in red, down from seven last week, and 46 districts in purple, down from 57 last week.
Districts in the pink zone include one, Two Rivers, where more than 6 percent of the local population was recently infected. In five others, more than 5 percent of the population is known to have been recently infected: Mt. Vernon-Enola, Danville, Clarendon, Paragould, and Stuttgart.
“It’s a sign of how quickly and pervasively the omicron variant has spread through our state that as recently as early November, no school district had an infection rate high enough to be in the red zone, and now only two districts have infection rates low enough to be in red zone,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson.
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Basketball: Smith, Ware named McDonald's All-Americans
As expected, North Little Rock got not just its first McDonald’s All-American, it got two on Tuesday afternoon when Kel’el Ware and Nick Smith Jr., were named to the roster.
The game will be played later this year in Chicago.
Smith, a 6-foot-4 guard, who has signed with Arkansas, was also short-listed for National Player of the Year last week. But, so was Ware, as the 7-foot center and Oregon signee is also on the same short list.
The announcement was live on ESPN as a crowd gathered at the high school to watch.
Smith, who played last season at Sylvan Hills and was caught up in a bitter transfer dispute after his family moved to North Little Rock last summer.
The move likely added millions in potential earnings though for Smith, who is just 17 and is considered the No. 3 pick in the 2023 NBA draft after his freshman season at Arkansas. While Smith starred on the AAU summer circuit, North Little Rock has played a nationally competitive schedule this season and have beaten the No. 1 high school team in the country.
That exposure to such high level competition, which he simply wouldn’t have gotten playing at Sylvan Hills, has pushed his profile to the stratosphere.
Ware is another who is looking at an NBA career as well.
If the two do make the league, they would be the first pair of Arkansas high school teammates to be in the NBA since Keith Lee and Michael Cage starred at West Memphis in the very early 1980s.
North Little Rock, the defending 6A state champ, is extremely likely to repeat this March. About the only thing that could keep that from happening is Covid and the title games being called off.
FOOTBALL: This summer's high school All-Star football game will have some local connections. Maumelle's Nico Daviller, who has signed with Arkansas, as well as North Little Rock's Braxton Johnson and Devion Vayson were named to the East Squad. To read more, click Maumelle, North Little Rock players named All-Stars
CAC: Episcopal Collegiate broke a pair of Central Arkansas Christian winning streaks at Mustang Mountain last week. By Donna Lampkin Stephens and to read more click Episcopal upend Mustang winning streaks
This week's basketball games: The basketball schedule for Maumelle Charter, Maumelle, North Little Rock and Central Arkansas Christian.
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Academics Plus Charter Schools recently announced Jennifer Hyde has been named the future principal for the Maumelle Charter Elementary School.
She is currently assistant principal of the school and will remain assistant principal until June.
The Maumelle Charter Schools campuses will be reconfigured due to the addition of the new Maumelle Charter High creating a Maumelle Middle School in the current highs cshool campus. Current elementary school principal Paula Newton will move into the middle school as principal.
Hyde has served as the assistant principal since August 2016. She holds a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from the University of Central Arkansas and a Master of Science in educational leadership from Arkansas State University.
Academics Plus Charter Schools has campuses in Maumelle and Scott.
The Maumelle Planning Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. tonight for its regularly scheduled monthly meeting.
The agenda can be viewed by clicking here.
There's some pretty big items of interest on the agenda as the already announced Tractor Supply distribution center makes an appearance.
The $100 million, 900,000 square foot facility will be located in the city's industrial park.
It will cover 119.39 acres and the address will be 150 Champs Boulevard.
In other new business, Brock Townhomes is a proposed development that would build 29 "owner occupied townhomes" at 235 Country Club Parkway. The townhomes would be "zero lot lines" and be divided up among six buildings on a footprint of 2.54 acres.
A rendering, below, of the proposed construction was included with the Planning Commission packet and “townhomes” are just what developers call apartments these days.
Among the variances requested are:
Reduce private green space
Reduce setback along arterial
Osage Terrace Phase 2 is also on the agenda and that's a request to allow for a subdivision of 17 lots on 7.85 acres at 230 Maumelle Valley Drive.
The newly created Arkansas State House District 71 seat that represents Maumelle is suddenly getting very crowded as three have all entered the Republican Primary.
Wes Booker, an insurance agent with an office in the city, was the second to join the field behind pharmacist Brandon Achor.
That two-way race now has a third candidate as consultant Joe Pack has also thrown his name into the hat.
In addition to being an insurance agent, Booker is also a football official who calls Southeastern Conference games. He also played football at the University of Central Arkansas.
His financial disclosure form is online and can be viewed by clicking here.
Pack's LinkedIn profile lists him as "CEO PruVen Business Coaching & Consulting" and no financial disclosure is available yet.
No Democrats have filed, as of yet, for the seat that was created after the 2020 Census. It was formerly held by Mark Lowery, who announced last week he was running for State Treasurer after dropping out of the Secretary of State race.
Long-time Maumelle resident Bill Russell is a man of many talents and among those are singing and songwriting.
Russell's "Piece of the Coast" went to No. 1 on the weekly Trop 40 Chart done by Radioa1a in Islamadora, Florida.
Russell said the song had started at No. 33, then made its way to No. 2 earlier this month before climbing to No. 1.
Tropical rock, "think Jimmy Buffett," Russell said, is popular in Florida and added his song is "playing on several other ... radio stations."
This isn't Russell's first time to make the charts.
"In 2017 I had a No. 34 song 'I Don’t Hurt Anymore' and in 2018 'Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses' reached No. 19,” he said.
First it was Amazon, then Dollar General and now it is Tractor Supply Company as the business announced on Wednesday that it would be putting a distribution center North of the River and in Maumelle.
The Amazon and Dollar General distribution centers will both be located in North Little Rock while the Tractor Supply facility will be new construction in Maumelle’s industrial park, said Mayor Caleb Norris.
Tractor Supply brands itself as the “largest rural lifestyle retailer” in the country and had 2,003 stores in 49 states.
The 900,000 square foot facility represents a $100 million investment and will create 450 full-time new jobs when the building is completed at the end of next year as construction is expected to start this summer.
In a press release, Hal Lawton, Tractor Supply’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “[W]e look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the Maumelle community. In support of our Life Out Here Strategy, this new distribution center is a significant investment to help serve our growing store base and online sales as we build a strong, relevant company for the future. We appreciate the support of the many state and local officials who have worked extensively to establish a business climate in which everyone can prosper.”
“I am thrilled that Tractor Supply is investing in Maumelle with their newest distribution center,” Norris added. “This huge win for Maumelle follows years of work and demonstrates that Maumelle is a thriving city.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said, “the creation of 450 full-time jobs will continue to boost to the state’s economy and make a big impact on Arkansas families.”
The Maumelle location will be Tractor Supply’s 10th distribution center as one is currently under construction in Ohio, and there’s eight facilities currently in operation.
The nearest to Arkansas is in Waco, Texas.