The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) announced today that a Chinese company will invest $5 million to locate a new pet-treat facility in Danville. The company, Pet Won Pet Products, will create 70 new jobs at the 28,887-square-foot facility, according to ADEC. The facility was formerly home to Petit Jean Poultry.
The Northwest Arkansas Worker's Justice Center, which is representing a subcontractor from Northwest Arkansas, claims that Arkansas Sen. Jake Files (R- Fort Smith) owes the subcontractor they represent almost $10,000 for roofing work done for Files' construction company, FFH Construction. After many attempts to reach Files, they say, he still hasn't paid.
A wayward Mercedes-Benz careened off Main Street in North Little Rock following a traffic accident Saturday night, with the car smashing through a window and destroying a door at Argenta Bead Co. The impact knocked over shelves and scattered what the owner of the business called "thousands and thousands and thousands" of beads and charms, including several expensive and rare antique glass beads — across the store.
At a press conference this morning at the State Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Asa Hutchinson continued voicing his opposition to the two ballot initiatives that could bring medical marijuana to the state. Hutchinson was backed by Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and several prominent Arkansas businessmen, who said they were worried marijuana use by their employees — along with a clause that would keep them from discriminating against those prescribed marijuana for illnesses — would cause safety concerns for their workforce and drive up insurance costs.
Glatfelter, a Pennsylvania-based international manufacturer of specialty papers, will open a new manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, the company announced today. The company stated that it would create up to 84 high-skilled manufacturing jobs at the $80-million plant.
Leila Janah, the CEO of a buzzy nonprofit that helps poor people find tech jobs, has a post on Medium about her experience with systemic racism and the lack of access to high-speed broadband in Dumas. The nonprofit she founded and heads as CEO, Samasource, hires low-income people around the world to perform digital tasks for companies like Google, Walmart and Getty Images.
HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which premiered last April, has consistently shown itself to be a Daily Show-level contender for the humor-news crown. Up for discussion on the show last night: the myriad ways major poultry producers exploit chicken farmers. Also featured in the video: Arkansas Republican Rep. Steve Womack, who gets plucked and roasted for placing a rider on the agriculture appropriations bill that forbids the USDA from enforcing already-written protections for the nation's poultry farmers.
Take heed, Arkansas: the same day Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana announced he would sign the state's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" — an anti-LGBT bill with disturbing similarities to Rep. Bob Ballinger's HB 1228 — a $4 billion tech company announced they're pulling up stakes there rather than "require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination." Ouch.
The Tyson family and Tyson Foods have made a $5 million gift to toward the Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences, a $16.3 million project of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Here's a little national coverage on the fight between broadband providers and education advocates (joined by other business interests) who want to allow K-12 schools to access the public fiber optic network for colleges and universities, ARE-ON.
American Bridge, the liberal PAC formed by David Brock, the former Clinton foe now dedicated to round-the-clock Hillary Clinton defender, is out today with a new report on environmental impacts and layoffs from Koch Industries. The report focuses on the business activities of the Koch brothers — more famous for hundreds of millions in political spending aimed at slashing government services, regulation and taxes — in twelve states, including Arkansas. From the report: "The Kochs' extreme, self-serving agenda is bad for working families. And that reality is starkly embodied not only by their political persuasions, but by their business endeavors."
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline brought together campaign rivals Sen. Mark Pryor and U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton this morning at a press conference hosted at Welspun Tubular LLC, the east Little Rock pipe plant, along with U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin and state legislators and business leaders. Because of environmental concerns, the White House is reluctant to approve the Keystone project, which would deliver about 800,000 barrels of carbon-heavy Canadian tar sands oil each day to Gulf Coast refineries and cross hundreds of miles of sensitive lands. Pryor, Cotton and Griffin all urge President Obama to drop objections to the pipeline, which they say are standing in the way of job creation in Arkansas.
Give Arkansas a Raise, the grassroots group hoping to raise the state minimum wage by an initiated act from $6.25 to $8.50 an hour says U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor will join the group for a news conference endorsing the increase at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bullock Temple CME Church.
NPR gives quite a treatment to "The Meat Racket," a new book by former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Chris Leonard on Tyson Foods. It praises the genius of Don Tyson, but raises familiar criticism of the poultry giant's relationship with contract suppliers of chicken.
New York magazine provides a book excerpt from a man, Kevin Roose, who went undercover in the secret initiation rites of a Wall Street fraternity — the 1 percent of the 1 percent. Shades of Mitt Romney, the sights he saw at the dinner in January 2012. They included Little Rock tycoon Warren Stephens singing new lyrics, tailored to Wall Street, to "Dixie." The performance was captured on audio.
Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.
Lee Short, the lawyer for Ledell Lee, the man Arkansas put to death just before midnight last night, posted on Facebook the following letter of thanks for personal support and a bit about Lee's last hours, distributing his possessions and talking to family.
Photos taken Thursday night by Brian Chilson and David Koon, at Cummins Prison in Grady, the State Police barricade away from the prison and in front of the Governor's Mansion, before and after the execution of Ledell Lee.