Diesel tax proposal advances

March 23, 2011 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Sen. Linda Chesterfield says she saw a quorum when she quickly called for a vote on a bill by House Speaker Robert Moore to put a 5-cent hike in the state diesel fuel tax to a public vote.The committee quickly gathered after the Senate adjourned Tuesday afternoon, while members were also scrambling to get to the ground floor of the Capitol for a joint meeting on constitutional amendments.

House panel approves unemployment freeze

March 23, 2011 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — A House panel has recommended freezing Arkansas’ unemployment benefits to help the state repay the more than $346 million it owes the federal government.The House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Tuesday advanced a proposal to remove the indexing formula for minimum and maximum unemployment benefits. It sets the weekly minimum benefit amount at $81 and the maximum at $451. The proposal also would reduce the benefit period for regular unemployment from 26 to 25 weeks.The legislation has already been approved by the Senate.

Beebe signs prison bill

March 23, 2011 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Gov. Mike Beebe on Tuesday signed into law an overhaul of Arkansas’ sentencing and probation programs aimed at reducing the state’s growing prison population, but he was uncertain how much of an impact the reforms would have.“This is kind of new territory. We don’t know if this is going to work for sure,” Beebe said after signing the 167-page bill at the state Capitol.

AG Holder: Rise in police deaths unacceptable

March 23, 2011 WASHINGTON — Police chiefs from around the country on Tuesday supported longer prison terms for gun-carrying felons as a way to combat a recent rise in police deaths in the line of duty.Attorney General Eric Holder directed the 93 U.S. attorneys nationwide to identify repeat offenders for possible prosecution under federal law that would make them eligible for stiffer sentences.A total of 162 officers died in the line of duty last year, up from 117 in 2009. So far this year, 49 have lost their lives, a 20 percent rise from the same time last year.

Ex-board member pleads to child porn

March 23, 2011 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — A former North Little Rock school board member who was indicted by a federal grand jury last year has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.Forty-eight-year-old Malcolm Trent Cox entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Little Rock. A count of receipt of child pornography was dismissed.Investigators executed a search warrant at Cox’s residence and seized computer evidence in September 2009. He resigned from the school board later that month, saying the travel demands of his full-time job were too great.

Fisherman’s body found

March 23, 2011 CECIL (AP) — Authorities say the body of a fisherman who has been missing was found on the Arkansas River near Cecil, but another man believed to have been with him hasn’t turned up.Officials said Tuesday a Mulberry police officer found the man, whose name wasn’t released.Family members of the two men told police they had been missing since Friday. Investigator found one man’s pickup truck at the boat ramp at White Oak Park, but they haven’t found the boat.Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen told KHOG-TV that a search for the other man is continuing.

Ozarka slates Spring Gala

March 23, 2011 MELBOURNE — The Ozarka College Foundation Board will host its annual Spring Gala on March 31.“Celebrating CommUNITY” is this year’s theme and will include dinner prepared by the award-winning Culinary Arts Department to be served in the Ozarka College John E. Miller lobby at 6:30 p.m. Along with dinner, there will be an auction with all proceeds going to the foundation’s general fund that will be applied to “high need projects” at all Ozarka College locations.

Mardi Gras dinner slated

March 23, 2011 BETHESDA — Bethesda Fire Department, Calloway Station, will have its annual business meeting and Mardi Gras dinner at 6 p.m. Saturday.The meal will include pork roast with gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, applesauce, rolls, drink and dessert.The price is $6 for adults and children 12 and over, $3 for children ages 3 to 11 and free for children 3 and under.Entertainment will be provided by the Cowboy Thunder Band.

Volunteer training available

March 23, 2011 NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Hospice will host volunteer training from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday and April 5 at 14 Parkstone Circle, in North Little Rock. Volunteer opportunities are available for office work in Searcy and Batesville, as well as direct patient interaction in homes and long-term care facilities.

Pampered Chef benefits Calico Rock Museum

March 23, 2011 CALICO ROCK — There is a new way to help the Calico Rock Museum Foundation to purchase, renovate and restore the museum. The organization is hosting an online Pampered Chef party now through April.Anyone interested in supporting the museum through the Pampered Chef program may log on to www.pamperedchef.biz/collenskitchen and click on the box to “shop online.” At the show screen type in “Calico Rock Museum” in the first box (leave the second box blank). Select “Calico Rock Museum Show” by “Gloria Gushue.”