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Fort Smith Moves A Step Closer To Joining Main Street Arkansas Program

Fort Smith Moves A Step Closer To Joining Main Street Arkansas Program

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — The Fort Smith Board of Directors on Tuesday (July 16) approved a resolution endorsing the city’s inclusion in the Main Street Arkansas Program. It’s one of the last parts of the process required, according to 64.6 Downtown Executive Director Talicia Richardson, who is leading the effort to get downtown Fort Smith in the program.

Under the Department of Arkansas Heritage, Main Street Arkansas provides support for the businesses and organizations within the Main Street communities such as advising on façade renovations or interior remodels, grants, and small business consulting.

Fort Smith is in the program’s Arkansas Downtown Network, and Richardson has worked for two years to make the most of the membership and to step up to be a Main Street member.

“Fort Smith was one of the initial cities who signed up to be an ADN. Upon finding this information, 64.6 Downtown engaged the City in discussion to reactivate membership while informing the 64.6 Downtown Board and Central Business Improvement District of the role of Main Street Arkansas,” Richardson noted in a letter to the city. “In addition, meetings were held with the Downtown Business Association and business owners to present the benefits of being a Main Street Affiliate. With these efforts, business owners have participated in visits from Small Business Services, Interior and Exterior Design. The Main Street Arkansas staff has conducted presentations to business owners on general Main Street services and Make Your Store a Money Magnet: Attract Festival and Tourism Dollars to your Business.”

To read more of this story visit our content partners at Talk Business & Politics.

University Of Arkansas Trustees OK Raises For Top Officials

FAYETTEVILLE (AP) — The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees has approved a 3.1% salary increase for the chancellor at the system’s flagship campus in Fayetteville.

The raise for Joe Steinmetz, approved Tuesday, brings his annual total compensation to $714,000. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , that amount includes an annual salary of $464,000 and annual deferred compensation of $250,000 for Steinmetz.

The board of trustees also approved pay increases for other employees Tuesday during a teleconference meeting, including 10% increases for the deans of UA’s Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design and the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

Also Tuesday, the board approved a 2.1% pay increase for UA Chancellor Emeritus G. David Gearhart, bringing his annual salary to just under $290,000.

Malvern Votes To Renew Contract With LifeNet, Inc. EMS Service – MALVERN

Public Release – LIFENET, Inc.

Malvern Votes To Renew Contract With LifeNet, Inc. EMS Service – MALVERN

This evening the Malvern City Council approved LifeNet’s bid to continue providing Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to the citizens of Malvern, Arkansas.

Malvern Votes To Renew Contract With LifeNet, Inc. EMS Service – MALVERN
Malvern Votes To Renew Contract With LifeNet, Inc. EMS Service – MALVERN
Malvern Votes To Renew Contract With LifeNet, Inc. EMS Service – MALVERN

LifeNet began providing ambulance service to the City in 2014 and since that time has met or exceeded the standards set by the city. We have also developed great relationships with area first responders and area medical providers, and we look forward to working with them for years to come.

The entire team at LifeNet thanks the City Council and the community for continuing to entrust our medical crews with your out-of-hospital care. We promise to continue serving you with a commitment to putting the patient first.

UPDATE | President Trump approves major disaster declaration for Arkansas

Governor Hutchinson announced on Twitter that President Donald Trump approved the Major Disaster Declaration for the state of Arkansas after the Arkansas River flooding. 

The Governor tweeted,” Very quick action which allows FEMA to provide individual and public infrastructure assistance in the impacted counties.” 

 More than 857 homes suffered major damage or were destroyed in the counties affected by flooding. 

RELATED: Pine Bluff park and nature center damaged by floodwater

RELATED: You can drop your sandbags off at 3 locations in Little Rock

Los Angeles County approves Alabama travel ban over abortion law

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved a one-year suspension on travel to Alabama to protest its toughest-in-the-nation abortion law, calling abortion “part of the very fabric of the United States.”

“This challenge by Alabama and other states would overturn decades of precedent,” said supervisor Hilda Solis in a statement. “It is an attack not only confined to the residents of those states, but an act of aggression upon all of us.”

The ban prohibits official travel by county employees to the red state, but allows exceptions for “emergency response, training, or assistance, or other legally-required matters where the failure to authorize such travel would seriously harm the County’s interests.”

The supervisors also voted Monday to send letters urging Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and legislators to repeal HB 314.

“The constitutional and human right to a safe and legal abortion is part of the very fabric of the United States,” said Ms. Solis. “As such, Los Angeles County will stand against all attempts to dismantle the protections afforded by Roe v. Wade and the U.S. Constitution.”

Ms. Solis previously served in Congress and as Labor Secretary under President Barack Obama.

Seven other states have also approved laws this year curtailing access to abortion, but instead of suspending travel to those states, the supervisors decided to send letters expressing their opposition and calling for the “immediate repeal” of those laws.

The other seven states are Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah.

Despite calls by pro-choice advocates for an Alabama boycott, the response has been muted, with only two state officials announcing travel bans so far: Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.

California already bans travel to Alabama and nine other red states over their “discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression,” such as laws on transgender-bathroom access and religious-based adoption and foster-care services.

Arkansas State Highway Commission Approves Bids For Road Improvements In Benton County

BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KFSM) — The Arkansas State Highway Commission has now approved a bid for improvements to roadways in Benton County.

According to officials from the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT), the purpose of the project is to overlay 1.9 miles of selected sections of various city streets in Cave Springs. This includes S. Rainbow Rd. and W. Wallis Rd.

Decco Contractors-Paving, Inc. in Rogers was awarded the contract worth over $296,000.

Construction is scheduled to begin in two to four week, weather permitting and completion is expected in mid-2019.

Travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ArDOT.gov.

Road to owning marijuana dispensary in Arkansas seemingly more difficult for the 'little' guys

When voters approved medical marijuana in 2016 it created opportunities. Experts figure some 30,000 people will take advantage of the drug.

Amendment 98 also mandated that Arkansans make up at least 60 percent of any ownership group. 

An 11News investigation has shown that those qualifications are among items the Alcohol Beverage Control board has had to examine in the months since cultivators and dispensary winners were announced.

But there are some would-be marijuana millionaires with proven Arkansas roots. They had to answer the thorny questions of how to prove to the government that you can run a business when that business has never legally existed until now.

“As a businessman, I just put it together like a business plan like I normally would,” said Dragan Visentic, the part owner of Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs. “It kind of became surreal mid-December when the scores came out and I think mine was like the fourth highest in the state.”

Others chose to focus on those new customers.

RELATED: As Arkansas’s marijuana industry grows, some wonder if system is already rigged

“I think that I was excited to think that I could make a difference for all those people,” said Elizabeth Barrett co-owns Rock City Harvest in Conway who worked with her son and partners to defy the odds and secure a dispensary license without high-powered consultant help. “Quite honestly the dining room table is where we worked it out.”

Both credit original ideas for winning the merit-based process. Visentic also owns a vape shop and figured he could help pain patients the way his vaping products help tobacco smokers.

“I want to help people and get them to change over to a natural product that’s healthier, and so I think we kind of pioneered that part of it,” he said. “I don’t think too many people came up with that idea.”

Others chose to find parallel paths to help patients and make profits.

“I think a lot of them are hopeful, and there’s so many people that are hurting that don’t want to hurt anymore,” said Dr. Randy Hill, who is working with three partners to approve medical marijuana cards. 

“There’s a buzz about it. People are excited that there’s something they can take with all the stigma around opioids. You go into your doctor’s office now and feel like a drug addict.”

The people we spoke with have all encountered varying levels of discomfort here in the buckle of the Bible belt.

“We took a big risk in the community,” said Dr. Hill, who fell back on his hospice experience for motivation while vowing his business isn’t a rubber stamp. 

“Our reputations were at stake. We didn’t know what the patients would think about this. We didn’t know what the community would think. We could have been pariahs.”

Barrett is coming out of retirement after running a nursery and greenhouse.

“It was a horticultural business, and of course cannabis is in that realm,” she said. “So it’s not such a difference but every, every detail is highly, highly regulated.”

And that’s been part of the challenge to these locals making money as they had to D-I-Y the applications.

“I do know there were a lot of companies that had consulting firms that helped with their applications,” Visentic said. “Maybe they even did more than that. I don’t agree with that because that was maybe a bit of an unfair playing field.”

“Anytime there’s money involved, there’s going to be people that try to get their piece of the pie,” said Dr. Hill with resignation.

Those out-of-state operators may be able to turn a profit sooner. That’s something the smaller operations are trying to be realistic about.

“You know it could easily turn into a million dollar investment,” Barrett said. 

“Whether or not it turns into a million dollars in returns? I think at the end of the day this is a business.”

Early indications are many customers held off getting marijuana cards amid uncertainty over when stores would open. Despite the slow start, these owners remain cautiously optimistic.

“I think that once the first dispensary opens, I think that those numbers will be just out of this world,” Visentic said.

RELATED: Arkansas licenses first medical marijuana dispensary

“We need to find a way that helps people with these really tragic and chronic diseases that seem to be so prevalent these days,” Barrett said while adding a loved one’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease inspired to go into business. “I think that cannabis is going to serve a really good role in that.”

“I hope that people that are getting into this industry realize that there’s a right reason for this and wrong reason for it,” said Dr. Hill.