Discover more from Arkansas Newsroom
Wastewater bill to go up
Maumelle's State of the City is March 3, Maupin gets the nod, Covid death tally continues to grow, Pulaski County Fair back in May.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to technical issues that are still being resolved, this week’s newsletter format is a little bit different. Instead of links back to some news and sports stories, they’re all printed in full below. So, keep scrolling if you want to read sports coverage.
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 tally continues to grow
It didn’t have to be this way.
It is true that active cases, at least those reported to the state, are down. Dramatically down. As of Wednesday, Arkansas has had a total of 810,520 cases. That figure doesn’t include home tests or tests done in other states.
What is up is deaths. The fatality count now stands at 10,190. That’s 263 new deaths since this time last week. Roughly 40 new deaths a day. Every day.
That kind of loss has become normalized in these times.
The issue, as always, is that people are still dying.
Nationally, the number is well over 900,000 as the previously unthinkable one million mark seems likely.
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.
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
Maumelle: State of the City to be March 3
The Maumelle Area Chamber of Commerce will be having the annual State of the City luncheon on Thursday, March 3 at the Jess Odom Community Center.
The event will start at noon and tickets are $30.
Speaking will be Mayor Caleb Norris and he will be presenting the State of the City address as he looks back at the previous year.
For reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org and the meal will be catered by Cheers in Maumelle.
Wastewater bill to go up in April
You may have noticed that things are getting more expensive.
Another thing about to go up is the wastewater bill.
Currently, for those served by North Little Rock Wastewater, the basic charge is $18.05 with a volume charge of $5.64 per hundred cubic feet or hcf.
That changes in March, when the new monthly rate goes to $18.95 and additional volume goes to $5.92 per hcf
Then, every January for the next four years, the rates increase with the January 2026 monthly rate at $23.92 and the volume charge at $7.47.
In a presentation given to the North Little Rock City Council that discussed the rate increases, a slide showed that a monthly bill with an average of seven hcf used, would be $34.97 now. In April that would go to $36.71 while in 2026 it would be $46.33, or just a little below the average charge in Little Rock where a monthly bill now is $45.09.
The increased cost isn't due to inflation.
The utility estimates that there's $72 million worth of work that needs to be done "to repair, maintain and expand the system" of roughly 700 miles of pipes.
The system counted 32,170 accounts in 2015, but acquired Maumelle's wastewater in 2016, and that pushed total accounts to 37,848. The number currently served between North Little Rock, Maumelle and portions of Sherwood and unincorporated Pulaski County is 41,258 with accounts projected out to 43,942 by 2031 as all cities are experiencing residential and commercial growth.
The rate increase was approved by the North Little Rock City Council on Monday with the new rates becoming effective in April.
Pulaski County Fair back in May
After last year’s inaugural event, the Pulaski County Fair returns to North Little Rock on Wednesday, May 25.
The fair will again be held at Riverfront Park, 120 Riverfront Drive, and admission is $5, while those 12 and younger are free.
The fair will end on Sunday, May 29 and it will be held Memorial Day weekend.
Hours Wednesday through Friday are from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. while on Saturday and Sunday, the fair will open at noon and close at 11 p.m.
Entertainment will be of the local and regional variety as acts have not yet been announced. The fair will also feature a carnival midway, rides, food and drinks, among other things.
For more information, click here.
School districts continue to have high Covid-19 rates
In a Thursday morning press release, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement noted that 97 of the state’s 234 contiguous public school districts have Covid-19 infection rates of 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period, down from 225 last week.
The ACHI cited its own analysis of Arkansas Department of Health data, that was current as of Monday.
ACHI’s latest update of the school districts map on its Covid-19 dashboard, available at achi.net/Covid19, shows that 94 districts are shaded red to signify 14-day infection rates of 50 to 99 new known infections per 10,000 residents, down from 109 last week, and three districts are shaded purple to signify 14-day infection rates of 100 to 199 new known infections per 10,000 residents, or at least 1 percent of the local population, down from 114 last week. No district is shaded pink for a 14-day infection rate of 200 or more new known infections per 10,000 residents, or at least 2 percent of the local population, down from two last week.
Pulaski County Special was among those 97 school districts but North Little Rock had dropped off.
“It’s important to keep in mind that Arkansans have obtained more than a million at-home tests, and the results of most of those tests are not being reported to the Department of Health,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “That means we are undercounting infections. The omicron surge does appear to be receding, but the virus is still present in all our communities, and we need to continue using all available tools to fight it: vaccination, good hand hygiene, social distancing, mask wearing in public places where social distancing cannot be maintained, and the best possible ventilation.”
ACHI also updated vaccination rates on its dashboard, using Department of Health data, and it showed that 25 school districts have achieved vaccination rates of at least 50 percent of district residents, and of those, two have achieved vaccination rates of 60 percent or more: Bentonville at 62 percent and Eureka Springs at 60 percent. The Department of Health’s vaccinations counts include people who have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; they do not take into account whether people have received booster shots, which are required for maximum protection against the omicron variant.
The infection rates reported by ACHI are based on infections among community residents living within the geographical boundaries of each school district and not only on cases among school employees and students.
Known infections include confirmed and probable cases. Probable cases are based on verbal reporting and antigen test results, as identified by the Department of Health. Reported rates do not include complete results from at-home testing, thus the true level of infections is likely higher than that reported.
Infection rates and counts are not reported for districts with fewer than five reported infections to reduce the possibility of identifying individuals. School district counts do not include infections among incarcerated populations, in nursing homes, or in human development centers.
Need a Covid test?
Click here to order a free one.
Arkansas Newsroom is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Maumelle taps Maupin to be next head football coach
Maumelle hired Brian Maupin to be the head coach of the football program last week.
This will be Maupin’s first head coaching job as he was previously an assistant at Joe T. Robinson, where he also played in high school and was an all-state fullback and linebacker.
Maupin played college football at Harding University in Searcy where he was a linebacker.
The Maumelle Sports Network sat down with Maupin on Tuesday night and you can watch the interview by clicking here.
The job became open when Kirk Horton gave up football responsibilities to focus on his other role as athletics director at the high school
Rice, Fimple to headline Downtown Tip-Off Club
North Little Rock basketball coaches Daryl Fimple and Johnny Rice will be the featured speakers at next Tuesday’s Downtown Tip-Off Club luncheon.
The luncheon will start at 11:45 a.m. at the Wyndham Riverfront hotel in downtown North Little Rock with the doors opening at 11 a.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the door and can also be purchased in advance by calling 501-906-6300 or emailing email@example.com.
The Downtown Tip-Off Club benefits North Little Rock Parks & Recreation and is used to fund inclusive playgrounds.
Sponsors include: McLarty Auto Group, UAMS Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Mainstream Technologies, Stephens Inc., Curtis Stout, Centennial Bank, Ashley Group, Dow Janitorial, Taggart Architects, North Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Advantage Service Company.
CAC basketball teams to play for district titles tonight
Central Arkansas Christian’s basketball teams will play in their respective 3A-6 District championship games tonight.
Steve Quattlebaum’s Lady Mustangs (21-7), who shared the conference championship with Episcopal Collegiate after both finished league play 13-1, will face those Wildcats again tonight at 6 at Episcopal. The two split their regular-season meetings, CAC winning the December matchup, 44-40, and Episcopal prevailing over a covid-short Lady Mustang squad in January, 46-18.
Matt Hall’s Mustangs (18-5) knocked off Jacksonville Lighthouse in the district semis, 55-45. CAC won the first meeting, 49-43; Lighthouse won the second, 49-46. CAC’s boys will also face Episcopal, the conference champion, at 7:30 tonight for the district title.
Both CAC teams will advance to the Class 3A Region 3 Tournament at Lamar next week. They’ll have to win their opener there to move on to the Class 3A State Tournament at North Arkansas College in Harrison (hosted by Valley Springs) the following week.
Lady Mustangs: CAC knocked off Helena-West Helena Central on Wednesday, 59-33, in the district semifinals.
“We didn’t play great, but these two (district tournament) games help us,” Quattlebaum said. “These were two we didn’t get to play last year. Helena got after us pretty good. We had to play, and we did. The second half, we played pretty well.”
Riley Bryant and Ava Knoedl led the Mustang offense with 21 and 18 points, respectively.
In the regular-season finale last week, the Lady Mustangs rolled over Palestine-Wheatley, 55-18. They built leads of 27-2 after one quarter, 42-4 at halftime; and 47-11 after three quarters.
Knoedl and Livian Burton led scoring with 12 points each. Burton added four rebounds, two assists and one steal; Knoedl had two assists. Avery Lillard recorded six points, seven rebounds and one assist; Bryant had five points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists. Carleigh Petlak led the defense with four steals.
Lamar and Mayflower will play for the 3A-5 district title and will be the top two seeds for the regional, depending on tonight’s outcome. Atkins and Perryville will be the 3 and 4 and would be on CAC’s side of the bracket.
Mustangs: Episcopal won the conference title, finishing league play 13-1. CAC and Lighthouse tied for second at 11-3.
During the final week of the regular season, CAC beat Palestine-Wheatley, 57-35; lost at Dollarway, 71-57; and then beat Dollarway, 60-47.
Against Palestine-Wheatley, the Mustangs raced to a 24-5 lead after the first quarter and extended their edge to 46-16 at halftime. Sam Maddox led CAC with 11 points. Andrew Haughaboo added 10 points and four steals.