Gambling made legal, Arkansas freezes over
Covid death toll climbs, again, Chad Gardner with the Maumelle City Council report, Basketball regionals delayed due to ice storm, Time to pay taxes plus headlines
Note to subscribers: An annual or monthly subscription is billed to your debit or credit card as ARKANSAS.SUBSTACK.COM and if you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading and subscribing!
As of Thursday, the number of Arkansans who have died during the ongoing pandemic stands at 10,341.
That’s up from last week’s 10,190.
If you look at the forecast numbers from the Centers for Disease Control, they continue to be bleak, as seen below.
Top line forecasts still call for more than 12,000 deaths in Arkansas, which is where it was last week, and the week before that and the week before that.
If you don’t want to get sick and die, there’s some things you can do: Get vaccinated Get boosted Wear a mask Avoid crowds
The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement said Thursday, in its weekly press releas, that although the state continues to experience reduced Covid-19 transmission, and reported new cases in school districts reflect this reduction, low testing rates combined with increased at-home testing threaten the accuracy of reporting on new infections at the school district level.
ACHI said that because of its concerns about accuracy, it anticipates being unable to provide school district-level information on new infections after this week.
“Because of the prevalence at-home testing that largely is not reported to the Arkansas Department of Health or reflected in our report, and because recent reported laboratory confirmed test rates continue to drop, the numbers displayed on ACHI’s Covid-19 dashboard underrepresent actual infections and, therefore, the risk in each community,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “For the immediate future, I recommend that school leaders and school board members additionally consider county-level information ― which is likely to be more meaningful than school district-level information at this point because of larger population counts ― to inform their policy decisions.”
ACHI plans to continue reporting county-level information, in the short term, on its Covid-19 dashboard, available at achi.net/covid19.
To read more, click ACHI: At-home tests threaten data accuracy
Family Dollar issues recall: Family Dollar, with dozens of locations in Arkansas, announced that they were issuing a voluntary recall after more than 1,000 rodents were found inside its distribution facility in West Memphis. To read more, click here.
Upcoming meetings: The Maumelle Planning Commission will meet tonight as previously scheduled. To view the agenda, click here. The North Little Rock City Council will meet next Monday night. To view that agenda, click here.
Need a Covid test?
Click here to order a free one.
Basketball regionals again delayed
The Arkansas Activities Association announced on Thursday morning that the regionals scheduled to begin today have been delayed due to the ongoing ice storm.
That means the Maumelle Charter game at White County Central as well as the Central Arkansas Christian games at Lamar has been postponed and no makeup dates has of yet been set as it depends on weather and road conditions on Friday.
Some plans floating around include a full day of games on Saturday that would start at 10 a.m. with semifinals on Sunday, and finals on Monday. It would mean that the state tournaments scheduled to start next week, would begin on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.
Click here on Friday to see an updated post on game times.
Arkansas Newsroom is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
This week’s meeting was lengthy with Mayor Caleb Norris providing his state of the city address as well as the presentation of the 2018 audit (yes, from 4 years ago).
Watch the speech, about 40 minutes long, by clicking below.
Regarding the audit, our finance department under the direction of Liz Mathis, has made great strides in cleaning up the city’s overdue financial reporting. While the 2018 audit was presented this week, the city is already wrapping up the 2019 audit and the auditing firm will be on-site in the coming weeks to do their portion of the work. They plan to present the 2019 audit by April of this year. At that point, they’ll move to complete the 2020 audit by the end of June and the 2021 audit in the second half of this year.
Moving to unfinished business, the council approved the O’Reilly Senior Living project to be built on Crystal Hill Road. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s a very well-designed project and will be an excellent addition to our community for those that want to age in place close to family members in Maumelle. The project passed by a 6-2 vote of the council.
Next, the council approved a new ward map that will rebalance the population in the city’s wards into four equal areas. This map will be used until the next census is completed in 2030 when the city will redistrict again based on the population of Maumelle at that time.
Finally, under old business, the council had the second reading of an ordinance that will allow for a grading permit in our city. This is another option for developers to use if they want to develop a property without having to obtain a building permit for the property. However, there are provisions in this permit process which will require replanting of the area if the project is not completed within a reasonable time. This isn’t something that will be used often, but is an alternate path to get a parcel of land ready for development.
That’s it for the week. Thanks, Chad. 501-529-1336, email@example.com
An elected officials salary task force meeting that had been scheduled for tonight in Maumelle was postponed this morning due to the ongoing ice storm.
City offices are also closed today due to the weather.
In the original announcement City Clerk Tina Timmons said in an email that, “Maumelle City Code § 2-564 requires that a committee be established in the month of January of every even-numbered year to consider the compensation of elected officials. The Elected Official Compensation Committee is charged with analyzing the compensation of all elected officials and making recommendations to the City Council concerning the same. The Code requires that those recommendations be presented in the form of ordinances sponsored by the Mayor no later than the first regular city council meeting in May.”
The committee has a total of seven members, five residents of Maumelle and two members of the City Council. They are:
Jeff Van Patten, Chairman
Michelle Strange Elliot
Council Member RJ Mazzoni
Council Member Doug Shinn
A new meeting time has not yet been scheduled but the clock is ticking as the committee’s recommendations must be presented at or before the first regular meeting in May, which falls on Monday, May 2.
You may have already seen the email but the 2021 Tax Books for Pulaski County are now open, county treasurer Debra Buckner said this week.
If you have previously paid online, you’ll be getting a notification but if you want to check, click here for the county site where you can search and pay the property tax bill.
Buckner noted that, “penalties are added after Oct. 22,” and if you have questions, you can call 501-340-6040.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Buckner’s office is closed to the public.
It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but the effects of Wednesday’s ice storm are still going strong as roads are snarled and schools, along with offices are reporting delayed starts on Friday.
The view in North Little Rock.
After the storm
After every winter storm, there's concerns about what to do with what was left behind.
Maumelle Mayor Caleb Norris said the city has a plan for that.
"Typically after a big storm," Norris said previously. The city "has a policy where we will pick up things we wouldn't normally pick up."
An example might be a big limb that came down because of snow and ice earlier this month.
"So we may not pick up big branches without a special pickup that charges," Norris said. "That's not the case after a storm. We will pick those things up complimentary, you just have to call public works and schedule it."
The number for public works is 501-851-2512.
Wanna bet on it?
The assumption is that you will and the Arkansas legislature followed suit as they approved a measure that would allow Arkansans to have legal, mobile sports betting on their phones and other devices.
As bookies.com pointed out, in a piece you can read in full by clicking here, it isn’t just for March Madness, that begins next month.
“The 10-day filing period that Arkansas needs to wait through is actually scheduled to expire prior to the start of the Men's SEC Tournament on March 9,” the report said. Meaning it would allow “Arkansas Razorbacks fans to bet on their team” when the tournament starts in Florida.
Sports betting in Arkansas, currently legal in the state’s casinos, generated $69 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year and the number will only go up once it is as easy as tapping a button on your phone.
Arkansas’s measure is a little different though.
“Mobile betting was approved with a regulation which mandates that 51 percent of sports betting revenues must stay with the in-state casinos,” David Caraviello wrote for bookies.com. He noted that it was “a measure that national online sportsbook operators lobbied against” and that Arkansas stood in “stark contrast with rules in other states that have legalized sports betting, which typically keep less than 15 percent.”
It could mean some big numbers for casino owners here as Tennessee has mobile sports betting and it has generated more than $2 billion in revenue since it was legalized in 2020.
And if you think that, well people won’t bet that kind of money here. That simply isn’t true.
When former North Little Rock aldermen Sam Baggett and Cary Gaines were on federal trial in 2010 for, among other things, their involvement with George Thompson, who was a bookie and worked with the Colombo crime family. It was noted at the federal trial Thompson was handling bets as large as $25,000 on a single NBA game. FBI agents, who testified at the trial, never divulged who was making those bets but even more than a decade later, that memory is still bright.