Q&A with Brandon Achor
State House candidate opens up on his campaign, Chad Gardner with the Maumelle City Council report, Covid death toll goes back up, Travs in town this week and next 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 email@example.com. Thanks for reading and subscribing!
Death toll back up
The weekly death toll from the ongoing pandemic went back up this past week as the total number of dead Arkansans was at 16.
The previous week it was at 7.
The total number of dead Arkansans is now at 11,426
As for the national trends, the forecast numbers from the Centers for Disease Control are below and through June 11.
Most forecasts have settled in at 11,500 total deaths in the next four weeks but with one outlier that is now calling for more than 12,500 deaths. While case counts in the state have been climbing, that doesn’t match the outlier forecast.
If you don’t want to get sick and die, there’s some things you can do:
Wear a mask
ICYMI: Argenta Community Theater sets 12th season lineup: The Judy Kohn-Tenenbaum Argenta Community Theater recently announced the lineup for its 12th season as well as the opening of a new educational annex.
Upcoming meetings: The North Little Rock School Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. tonight and the North Little Rock City Council will meet next Monday night.
Upcoming events: Maumelle High School graduation is this Saturday.
Texas Two-Step: The NASCAR All-Star Race returns to Fort Worth’s Texas Motor Speedway this weekend In addition to NASCAR’s premier series including the Xfinity Series, Camping World Truck Series, and the NASCAR Open, fans can enjoy a Blake Shelton concert, Olympic-caliber high divers, and more.
There’s now a one-stop shop to learn about vaccination sites and other Covid related information. Click here to learn more.
State championship games start today
The high school state championships in spring sports are scheduled to start today in Benton and, unlike years past, there’s no North of the River teams competing for a title in boy’s and girl’s soccer, baseball and softball. To read more, click State championship games start today
Travs back at home
The Arkansas Travelers are at North Little Rock’s Dickey-Stephens Park this week and next with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals through Sunday and the series next week is against Amarillo.
Today … 6:35 p.m …. vs. NW Arkansas ... 6:35 p.m.; Promotions: $3 Thirsty Thursday and Strike Out Stroke
Friday ... May 20 … 7:05 p.m. ... vs. NW Arkansas; Promotions: Fireworks
Saturday ... May 21 … 7:05 p.m. … vs. NW Arkansas; Promotions: Healthcare Workers Appreciation Night and Noche De Diamantes
Sunday ... May 22 … 1:35 p.m. ... vs. NW Arkansas; Promotions: Operation: Military Appreciation and Family Sunday
Tuesday ... May 24 … 6:35 p.m. ... vs. Amarillo; Promotions: Star Wars Night and Mug Club
Wednesday ... May 25... 6:35 p.m. ... vs. Amarillo; Promotions: Dog Days Of Summer
Thursday ... May 26... 6:35 p.m. ... vs. Amarillo; Promotions: $3 Thirsty Thursday
Friday ... May 27 ... 7:05 p.m. ... vs. Amarillo; Promotions: Fireworks
Saturday ... May 28 ... 7:05 p.m. ... vs. Amarillo; Promotions: Salute To Seattle & Jersey Auction and Kids Run The Bases
Sunday ... May 29 ... 5:35 p.m. ... vs. Amarillo; Promotions: Memorial Day Fireworks and Operation: Military Appreciation
Early voting in progress for Tuesday’s Primary
Early voting for May 24’s primary has begun and will continue through Saturday at all locations listed below and on Monday at the Pulaski County Regional Building in downtown Little Rock.
Times there are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week with 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
Any registered voter in Pulaski County can early vote at any location and times for the other early polling sites are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
The Jess Odom Community Center and the main branch of North Little Rock’s Laman Library are North of the River early voting locations with the others being:
Sue Cowan Williams Library, 1800 S Chester St., Little Rock
John Gould Fletcher Library, 823 Buchanan St., Little Rock
Bethel Baptist Church, 112 N Jeff Davis St., Jacksonville
Dee Brown Library, 6325 Baseline Road, Little Rock
Adolphine Fletcher Terry Library, 2015 Napa Valley Drive, Little Rock
Roosevelt Thompson Library, 38 Rahling Circle, Little Rock
Hillary Clinton Children’s Library, 4800 W 10th St., Little Rock
First Christian Church of Sherwood, 2803 Kiehl Ave., Sherwood
Sidney S. McMath Library, 2100 John Barrow Road, Little Rock
A complete list of Tuesday’s poll locations can be found by clicking here. Hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Maumelle polling locations are:
1 … First UMC, 1201 Edgewood Drive
2 … Jess Odom Community Center, 1100 Edgewood Drive
3 … First UMC, 1201 Edgewood Drive
4 … First UMC, 1201 Edgewood Drive
5 … Hampton Inn of Maumelle, 11920 Maumelle Boulevard
6 … Jess Odom Community Center, 1100 Edgewood Drive
7 … Immaculate Heart of Mary, 7025 Jasna Gora Drive, North Little Rock
8 … Jess Odom Community Center, 1100 Edgewood Drive
9 … Hampton Inn of Maumelle, 11920 Maumelle Boulevard
10 … Hampton Inn of Maumelle, 11920 Maumelle Boulevard
Achor Q&A on candidacy
Maumelle pharmacist Brandon Achor is running for Arkansas House seat 71 that represents portions of the city and below is a transcript of a question and answer he did with ArkansasNewsroom.com.
Achor’s Primary opponent, Wes Booker, did not complete the questionnaire sent to him.
The Q&A has been lightly edited and follows.
>> If elected, what are some of the things on your priority list?
My priorities as District 71 representative will center around those issues closest to District 71, which include advocating for parental rights through School Choice and working to make Arkansas more competitive with our neighbors by reducing or eliminating state income taxes.
>> What about your background and experience makes you the most qualified candidate in the race?
As a life-long resident of Maumelle for over 30 years, a local small business owner, and having served as a community resource for healthcare and counsel during unprecedented times, I know this area. I understand the concerns of this community and as an active member of my hometown I can offer a tangible level of accessibility and accountability.
>> How will you work with the other Maumelle/North of the River members of the legislature if elected?
My time serving as a board member for the Arkansas Pharmacists Association has allowed me to not only educate legislators on healthcare issues but also network with a diverse collective of lawmakers over the last 4 years. This engagement has provided a strong relationship with both neighboring legislators as well as others across the state. I will work with all my elected colleagues to move effective policy for the state of Arkansas.
>> How will you work with the other Maumelle/North of the River municipal and county elected officials?
I believe that prioritizing concerns of those who have duly elected me is a necessity for leading impactful legislation. The legislative processes centers around various committees that are assigned specific categories of new law. I plan to apply for a seat on the City, County, Local House Committee, which will provide a direct line of communication with local municipalities and allow me to advocate most effectively.
>> How will you serve your constituents?
Me and my wife are humbled to be able to serve our community as their pharmacists, a truly rewarding and intimate relationship with people of all different back stories. This relationship is built on a promise that we strive to impart to all of our patients: you are not on your own. I counsel all of our employees, it is not your job to solve every problem our patients encounter, but it is absolutely your job to make sure they know they're not alone in working to solve that problem. Making myself as accessible and as accountable to my constituents as I am to my patients will be the foundation for my service.
Maumelle: City Council report
Indoor batting cage to be built at Maumelle Baseball Complex; Auditing firm approved for 2020 and 2021 financial audit; Additional funds approved for roundabout to join Country Club Parkway and White Oak Crossing.
This week’s meeting began with our April financial report presented by Liz Mathis. Through four months of the year, city revenues are trending right in line with budget and operating expenses are approximately $600,000 below budget. The city continues to do well with our budget and our revenue will likely exceed budget once we receive property tax payments in the coming months. The 2019 financial audit is being wrapped up and will be presented to the council in the near future. Following completion of the 2019 audit, the 2020 and 2021 audits will be completed in the latter part of the year at which point the city will be completely caught up on all past due financial reporting. I really appreciate all the work our finance department has done under the direction of Mathis to clean up our record-keeping and get our city back on track with our financial reporting.
Under unfinished business, we had several administrative ordinances accepting streets and drainage for three new developments: Pinnacle Heights, Osage Terrace, and The Reserve at Country Club. All these ordinances passed unanimously.
The council approved changes to probationary periods for newly hired police officers. The new probationary period will be 24 months for a police officer that is hired and not currently certified as a law enforcement officer in the state. Previously the probationary period was only 12 months. This change is consistent with other municipalities in central Arkansas and the state.
The council heard the second readings on salaries for elected officials and there was no discussion on any of these items. If approved at the next meeting, salaries beginning in January of 2023, would be as follows:
City Clerk/Treasurer: $67,473
City Attorney: $105,002
City Council: $7,500 (the council is not receiving an increase from current salary)
The council heard the second reading of an ordinance allowing Patrick McIntire, a Lieutenant in our fire department, to operate a business in our city. McIntire is currently an owner of a towing business that will potentially do business here and be included on the city’s weekly rotation for towing services. Any towing company can do business in our city if they meet the city’s requirements for being a towing vendor, so I don’t have any issue with a city employee being included since there’s a set rotation for towing services.
A resolution was passed to allow a batting cage to be built at our city’s baseball and softball complex. Local individuals and our baseball association have been fundraising for this project for several years and this structure will be built at no cost to the city.
The council approved a 5-year term for Tom Boothe to continue serving on Maumelle’s Public Facilities Board. Boothe has served on this board for a number of years and was eager to continue serving the city for another term.
The council approved BKD CPA’s & Advisors to be our auditing firm for 2020 and 2021. They will begin work as soon as the city completes the 2019 audit in the coming weeks. Additionally, the council appropriated $83,000 from our general fund to pay for additional auditing services in this fiscal year. Since we’re completing four audits in one year, additional funds were needed in order to pay for all of the audits we’ll be completing.
The council approved a marketing contract with Metro Little Rock Alliance to help the city with economic development. This is an annual contract that the city approves so that cities in central Arkansas can work together to help promote our area and bring in new business and jobs.
As a part of the city’s ongoing effort to improve our technology, it was discovered the police department needed additional equipment to securely and safely store data. $8,500 was appropriated from the general fund to purchase this needed equipment so that we can have a reliable system to securely store their data.
Lastly, the council approved a resolution that will budget future funds for the White Oak Crossing and Country Club Parkway roundabout. While this project has already been awarded a large federal grant, costs have increased substantially in the past few years. This requires the city to go back and ask for additional dollars to cover the remainder of the project. Due to the city only paying a 20% match for the entire cost of this project, our increase will be small, but this was a required step in asking for the additional funding. According to Mayor Norris, this project could be underway by this Fall with utility relocation taking place at that time and construction beginning late this year or early 2023.
That’s all for the week, please let me know if you have any questions. Chad. 501-529-1336, firstname.lastname@example.org
Williams named Teacher of the Year at PCCSD
Bokari Williams, a teacher at Sylvan Hills Middle School, was named Teacher of the Year by the Pulaski County Special School District at an awards breakfast on Friday, May 13.
Last year’s winner, Shanon Hum, was also from Sylvan Hills Middle School.
Williams, above, has been a teacher for 15 years and was previously at the North Little Rock and Jacksonville-North Pulaski school districts.
Williams was selected out of 27 other PCSSD school-level winners and will now move on to represent the District in the 2023 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Program. In addition to receiving a plaque, each school winner will receive a check for $100. The District winner will receive a check for $500.
Teachers from each campus were also recognized and that list follows
BAKER ELEMENTARY: Dawn Bartels
CATO ELEMENTARY: Kristy Robinson
CHENAL ELEMENTARY: Caitlin Spencer
COLLEGE STATION ELEMENTARY: Tonya Colen
CRYSTAL HILL ELEMENTARY: Laura Campbell
DAISY BATES ELEMENTARY: Erica Mack
HARRIS ELEMENTARY: Jackie Hayes
LANDMARK ELEMENTARY: Audrian Harville
LAWSON ELEMENTARY: Bettie Mhoon
OAK GROVE ELEMENTARY: Jacqueline Thompson
OAKBROOKE ELEMENTARY: Brittany Slayton
PINE FOREST ELEMENTARY: Erin Dearasaugh
ROBINSON ELEMENTARY: Elise Moore
SHERWOOD ELEMENTARY: Rachel Gammill
SYLVAN HILLS ELEMENTARY: Beth Hendrix
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON ELEMENTARY: Christy Hobbs
MAUMELLE MIDDLE: Andrea Johnson
MILLS MIDDLE: Ethan Moore
ROBINSON MIDDLE: Dawn Irby
SYLVAN HILLS MIDDLE: Bokari Williams
SYLVAN HILLS JUNIOR HIGH: Callie Seats
MAUMELLE HIGH: David White
MILLS UNIVERSITY STUDIES HIGH: Gregory Hamblock
ROBINSON HIGH: Michelle Young
SYLVAN HILLS HIGH: Prentice Dupins
CENTER OF INNOVATION: LaTiya Cooper
DRIVEN VIRTUAL ACADEMY: Clarence Guy
Maumelle to have graduation on Saturday morning
Eva Casto will be, as expected, Maumelle High School’s Valedictorian at graduation this Saturday, May 21.
Geneva Millikan will be the Salutatorian for the Class of ‘22.
Graduation will start at 9 a.m. at the Jack Stephens Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Other Pulaski County schools will also be graduating that day with the schedule being:
Joe T. Robinson at 10:30 a.m.
Sylvan Hills at 1 p.m.
Mills University Studies at 2:30 p.m.
New pavilion opens on river trail in North Little Rock
The Arkansas Master Naturalists and the Parks and Recreation Department for the city of North Little Rock, announced the opening of the Arkansas Master Naturalists Pavilion on the Arkansas River Trail.
The pavilion, above, is directly across from the Hatfield/McCoy Bridge at the junction of the Arkansas River Trail, the Isabella Jo Trail, the North Shore Trail and the Pfeifer Loop.
Parking is at 4100 Cook’s Landing Road at the base of the Big Dam Bridge.
“For 15 years, Central Arkansas Naturalist members have educated the public and introduced kids to the wonders of nature and the responsibility we all share in caring for it,” said Davis Thompson with the organizaiton. “[Our] volunteers have built trails, provided housing for birds, monitored the quality of rivers and lakes, picked up litter, removed invasive species, grown and planted native plants, and provided educated citizen scientists.”
The organization, which started in 2006, has donated more than 26,000 hours of support to keeping Arkansas beautiful.