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Pulaski Circuit Judge Vann Smith's proposal for case assignments next year would send no criminal cases to Judge Willard Proctor, he said Monday.

The judges in the Sixth Judicial District (Pulaski and Perry counties) will meet June 18 to discuss and vote on the assignments.  Smith is the chief judge in the district.

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission is considering whether to remove Proctor from the bench because of his relationship with probationers and a non-profit he created that was supported by fees from his court.

Smith said Proctor's uncertain position on the bench did play into the assignment plan, but also that it worked with the assignment wishes of other judges. The plan will be submitted to the state Supreme Court June 30.  Proctor, who doesn't speak to the Arkansas Times, is likely to object to the loss of his criminal docket. He's used it to generated tens of thousands of dollars in fees for the Cycle Breakers nonprofit probation program that he began.

Stimulating

In late May, the Arkansas Department of Human Services announced plans to hire 112 new employees, using federal stimulus dollars, to help process the growing number of applications for state services. DHS Communications Director Julie Munsell says the department received a total of 11,743 applications by the end of the month, including 5,000 in one week.

“My guess is that the bulk of those nearly 12,000 applications were for those stimulus positions,” Munsell says.

DHS typically receives 30,000 applications in any given year, so 12,000 in one month is definitely a surge. The new positions will help the agency determine eligibility for state services. DHS has seen an increase in applications for food stamps, Medicaid and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program as the economy has gone down hill.

DHS is using a bench-mark system to whittle down the number of applications. Minimum requirements will eliminate some, but Munsell says DHS could still wind up with hundreds of applications. Interviews will begin June 11.

Potato salad wars

A tasty little article about potato salad in our summer issue didn't go down easy in some quarters. Several objected to praise for a local barbecue joint's potato salad because it's a commercial product. (We never said it wasn't.) Then we mentioned the legendary Cordell's potato salad, a staple of a now-defunct deli that was added to the menu by new owners of the equally legendary Browning's Mexican restaurant in the Heights.

Dean Cline, the last operator of Cordell's, took his potato salad recipe and other Cordell's favorite recipes such as chicken salad and roast beef to Browning's in an oral agreement to supplement their catering business. Cline says new owners cut him loose in February, but continue to trade on his products. He thinks he's owed additional payment. Plus, he contends the products aren't made according to his specifications. David Ashmore, owner of Browning's, says the restaurant had purchased the recipes and rights to market the items from Cline and continues to produce them “with the recipes Dean gave us.” Ashmore said he knew Cline was unhappy about the way things worked out, but, “Without question, we've certainly honored everything we could and way beyond.” Do the potato salad and chicken salad taste the same as prefer? We've learned our lesson. You tell us.

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