The Daily Press The Saline Courier | AP iAtom feed Copyright The Daily Press 2014-07-19T14:10:49-04:00 Baptist College hit with civil lawsuits2014-07-19T14:10:49-04:002014-07-19T14:10:49-04:00The Saline CourierThe historically black college in Little Rock has struggled to pay its bills, meet payroll obligations and deliver financial aid checks to its students since last year, the media reported this week.One of those lawsuits filed this week in Pulaski County Court says the college twice bounced a $157,016 check to pay for furniture it bought from a Texas-based company, Southwest Contract.Earlier this month, the state's department of workforces filed a lien on the college's property, because of about $131,400 in unpaid unemployment insurance contributions, interest and penalties. In May, another lawsuit filed against the college says the school did not repay a $132,325 loan from national company GreatAmerica Financial Services.Overall, the private college with around 1,000 students has had seven civil lawsuits filed against it since January 2013.Arkansas Baptist College President Fitz Hill has said before that the college's financial situation was a result of "cash flow" problems. When the U.S. Department of Education placed the college on Heightened Cash Monitoring Status last year, it affected how fast the college receives funds from the federal government for student aid.LaCresha Newton, the college's chief of staff, wrote in an email that a lot of the challenges the school has faced are because of how it receives payment for federal student financial aid. She added the college is "fully cooperating with our vendors and has provided them with the information required to secure our obligations as we continue to make progress in paying each of our creditors in full."The college must provide proof to the Higher Learning Commission, a national agency, next month that the financial and internal problems that could jeopardize its accreditation have been resolved."We want the community to know that Arkansas Baptist College appreciates its committed employees, dedicated students, patient vendors and supportive community during this challenging time," Newton said."We have every intention of returning to solid financial footing in the days ahead."Benton, ARAssociated PressArkansas Baptist College hit with civil lawsuitsNo source agenda planned for Bryant Council meeting2014-07-19T14:09:09-04:002014-07-19T14:09:09-04:00The Saline CourierDuring the meeting, the council will discuss an agreement between the city and the Boys The council has been discussing the agreement with the Boys Each year the council approves agreements with various organizations and groups, but this year the council decided to create a facilities agreement with the club that would last longer than one year.The longer agreement came under scrutiny when the city's bond counsel was reviewing a proposed bond issue. According to the Arkansas Constitution, a city cannot provide the club property that is paid for with tax money. As a compromise, Bryant city attorney, Chris Madison proposed a three-year term that includes an out-clause to protect the city. Madison and the club's officials have agreed on the term length, but some items have not been agreed on yet."It is my understanding that the three-year term is agreeable to the Boys "At this point, I have provided my professional opinion on the remaining issues, and it is simply a matter of decision time by the council and the board of the Boys Alderman Adrian Henley requested a financial update about the two proposed fire stations. The two new stations were approved during a special election in November. These stations will replace the out-of-date stations the firefighters currently are using.During the last update, Mayor Jill Dabbs told the council that the city would not spend as much money to spend on the project as expected. Dabbs could not be contactd by press time to comment on what the update with include. The council also will hear a presentation about Healthcare Express, a new business in Bryant; a presentation by Eddie Black from the Saline County Economic Development Corp.; and a presentation by Mary Vickers about the Bryant Senior Wellness and Activity Center.Benton, ARSarah PerryLengthy agenda planned for Bryant Council meetingNo source and countywide alcohol petitions fall short on signatures2014-07-19T14:07:42-04:002014-07-19T14:07:27-04:00The Saline CourierThe countywide petition lacked 4,032 signatures, said Saline County Clerk Doug Curtis. The petition was filed July 7 with 2,888 pages of signatures. Approximately 4,406 signatures were rejected, Curtis said. A signature can be rejected if the person is not registered in Saline County or if things "don't match up," he said. "We're not handwriting experts, and we give them the benefit of the doubt," he said. The group, Our Community, Our Dollars, that has been working to gather signatures will have 10 days, starting today, to receive more signatures, Curtis said. Let Arkansas Decide, the organization collecting signatures for the statewide issue, fell 17,133 signatures short, said Secretary of State Mark Martin. Let Arkansas Decide is a group seeking a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to legalize retail alcohol sales in all of the state's 75 counties. The campaign needs 78,133 signatures to qualify for the November ballot and currently has produced signatures from 61,000 registered voters. On July 7, the campaign turned in almost 85,000 signatures. Several hundred were disqualified for facial failures before being checked to see if the signatures belonged to valid, registered voters. The findings mean that the campaign has 30 days to meet the requirement of 78,133 signatures. Canvassers never stopped collecting signatures throughout this process. Benton, ARBobbye PykeStatewide and countywide alcohol petitions fall short on signaturesNo source deepens Gaza push to destroy Hamas tunnels2014-07-18T12:27:25-04:002014-07-18T12:27:25-04:00The Saline CourierIsrael launched the operation late Thursday, following a 10-day campaign of more than 2,000 air strikes against Gaza that had failed to halt relentless Hamas rocket fire on Israeli cities.Israel's first major ground offensive in Gaza in just over five years came as Egyptian cease-fire efforts stalled. Earlier this week, Israel accepted Cairo's offer to halt hostilities, but Hamas refused, demanding that Israel and Egypt first give guarantees to ease the blockade on Gaza.Israel had been reticent about launching a ground offensive for fear of endangering its own soldiers and drawing international condemnation over mounting Palestinian civilian deaths.It remains unclear how long the offensive will last and what Israel's eventual goal may be — other than its stated goal of stopping the rocket attacks.Israeli leaders have said the aim is to weaken Hamas militarily and have not addressed the possibility of driving the Islamic militants from power.Hamas has survived Israeli offensives in the past, including a major three-week ground operation in January 2009 from which it emerged militarily weaker, but in each case it recovered. The groups controls an arsenal of thousands of rockets, some long range and powerful, and it hs built a system of underground bunkers.But Hamas is weaker now than it was during the previous two offensives — from 2008-9 and 2012 — with little international or even regional support , even among traditional Gaza supporters Turkey and the Gulf-state of Qatar.French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was travelling Friday to Egypt, Jordan and Israel as part of a diplomatic push to stop the fighting in Gaza.He said in a statement that he wants a cease-fire and lasting truce "that responds to Israel's security needs and Palestinian economic needs."The operation may be its best opportunity for Israel to rid the strip of the group — which much of the world considers to be a terrorist organization.But an operation that last weeks could take a heavy toll in both casualties and cost, and most Israelis has no wish to retake Gaza, which the country effectively gave up in 2005.Egypt supports a ceasefire, but not Hamas or its conditions, which include a lifting to the siege of Gaza and completely open borders into the Sinai — where Egypt is already fighting Islamic extremists.Israeli defense officials said soldiers faced little resistance during the first night of the ground operation, but the longer the military keeps a presence in Gaza, the greater the risk for heavy casualties on both sides.Forces are expected to spend a day or two staking ground and are working in the north, east and south of the Gaza Strip. Then, they are expected to move to the second phase, which is to destroy tunnels, an operation that could take up to two weeks.After thousands of troops had been on standby for several days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he ordered the military to prepare for a "significant expansion" of the ground offensive."Since it is not possible to deal with the tunnels only from the air, our soldiers are doing it also from the ground," he said before a special Cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv."We chose to begin this operation after the other options were exhausted and with the understanding that without the operation the price we will pay can be very high."Throughout the night, the thud of tank shells echoed across Gaza, often just a few seconds apart. Several explosions from Israeli missile strikes shook high-rise buildings in central Gaza City and sent pillars of smoke into the sky.The wounded were rushed to Gaza's main Shifa Hospital, including several members of the same family struck by shrapnel from tank shells. Among those hurt were a toddler and a boy of elementary school age, their bodies pocked by small bloody wounds.Gaza health officials said at least 20 Palestinians have been killed since the ground operation began, including three teenage siblings killed by shrapnel from a tank shell attack. At the morgue, one of the victim's faces was blackened by soot and he and his siblings were each wrapped in a white burial shroud.The Israeli military said it killed 17 militants in different exchanges of fire, while 13 were captured after surrendering. It was not immediately clear if the militants were among the casualties reported by Gaza authorities."The ground offensive does not scare us and we pledge to drown the occupation army in Gaza mud," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.The Israeli military said one soldier was killed in the northern Gaza Strip, the first Israeli casualty among troops. The circumstances behind the death of Staff Sgt. Eitan Barak, 20, were not immediately clear, with Hamas' military wing saying it ambushed Israeli units in the northern town of Beit Lahiya and caused casualties but Israeli media saying it was likely a case of friendly fire.Tanks, infantry and engineering forces were operating inside the coastal strip. The military said it targeted rocket launchers, tunnels and more than 100 other targets, and that a number of soldiers were wounded throughout the night.Since the July 8 start of the air campaign, more than 260 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded, Palestinian health officials said. In Israel, one civilian died and several were wounded.Israeli public opinion appears to strongly support the offensive after days of unrelenting rocket fire from Gaza and years of southern Israeli residents living under the threat. Gaza militants have fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israel over the past 11 days.Israel said it launched an open-ended assault on several fronts, with the primary aim being to destroy underground tunnels into Israel built by Hamas that could be used to carry out attacks.On Thursday, 13 heavily armed Hamas militants tried to sneak in through such a tunnel, but were stopped by an airstrike after they emerged some 250 meters (820 feet) inside Israel.Prior to the Israeli Cabinet meeting, several ministers said they expected a prolonged offensive.Benton, ARAssociated PressIsrael deepens Gaza push to destroy Hamas tunnelsNo source of earthquake increased for one-third of U.S.2014-07-18T12:25:46-04:002014-07-18T12:25:46-04:00The Saline CourierThe U.S. Geological Survey on Thursday updated its national seismic hazard maps for the first time since 2008, taking into account research from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast and the surprise 2011 Virginia temblor.The maps are used for building codes and insurance purposes and they calculate just how much shaking an area probably will have in the biggest quake likely over a building's lifetime.The highest risk places have a 2 percent chance of experiencing "very intense shaking" over a 50-year lifespan, USGS project chief Mark Petersen said. Those with lower hazard ratings would experience less intense swaying measured in gravitational force."These maps are refining our views of what the actual shaking is," Petersen said. "Almost any place in the United States can have an earthquake."Parts of 16 states have the highest risk for earthquakes: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina. With the update, new high-risk areas were added to some of those states.Also, Colorado and Oklahoma saw increased risk in some parts and moved up to the second of the sevenhazard classifications, he said.There are major faults and quake hazards along the entire west coast, with an increased concern in the Cascadia region around Oregon. Southern Alaska, the big island of Hawaii, the Missouri-Tennessee-Arkansas-Illinois New Madrid fault area and Charleston round out the biggest hazard areas.But shaking hazards are nearly everywhere.Much of the country west of the Rockies, along with parts of Oklahoma and Tennessee and sections of central Arkansas, northern Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, New York and New England saw an increase in shaking hazards for small buildings like houses.At the same time much of North Carolina, the northern tip of South Carolina, patches of Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York saw hazard levels lower slightly. And using a different type risk analysis for tall buildings the shaking hazard in New York City dropped ever so slightly, Petersen said.Petersen said the maps sidestep the issue of earthquakes created by injections of wastewater from oil and gas drilling in Oklahoma and other states, saying those extra quakes weren't included in the analysis. So far this year, nearly 250 small to medium quakes have hit Oklahoma.Much of the research and cataloging was done by the nuclear industry in response to the quake and tsunami that crippled Japan's Fukushima reactor. And researchers at the University of California, Berkeley came up with a better model to simulate shaking, Petersen said.Benton, ARAssociated PressRisk of earthquake increased for one-third of U.S.No source airlines didn't avoid risky Ukraine airspace2014-07-18T12:24:29-04:002014-07-18T12:24:29-04:00The Saline CourierAirlines might have to be more vigilant about avoiding trouble spots, making flights longer and causing them to burn more costly fuel, an extra expense that is often passed onto passengers through higher fares. They may even be forced to reconsider many international routes.In the hours after Thursday's disaster involving a Malaysia Airlines jet, carriers around the globe began rerouting flights to avoid Ukraine. Some had been circumventing the country for weeks. Experts questioned the airline's decision to fly near the fighting, even as Malaysia's prime minister said that the plane's route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was declared safe by international aviation authorities."I find it pretty remarkable that a civil airline company — if this aircraft was on the flight plan — that they are flight-planning over an area like that," said Robert Francis, a former vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.Violence in Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russia rebels in the country's east erupted a month after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March. Earlier this week, the rebels claimed responsibility for hitting a Ukrainian military jet with a portable surface-to-air missile; the pilot was able to land safely. And the government charged that a military transport plane was shot down by a missile fired from Russian territory.In April, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cautioned airlines that Russia's claim to the airspace over Ukraine's Crimea could lead to conflicting air traffic control instructions. A few weeks later, the FAA issued a tougher warning, telling pilots not to fly over the area, and the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization told governments to warn their airlines. Thursday's crash, however, occurred outside the warning areas.Thomas Routh, an aviation attorney in Chicago, said it would be unusual for an airline to ignore such warnings, but he said it's up to airlines to decide whether a flight will be safe for crew and passengers."There are airlines flying through Afghanistan airspace every day," Routh said.John Cox, a former airline pilot and accident investigator, said despite the cautions, the airspace was not closed. The Malaysia Airlines crew filed a flight plan and "Russia and the Ukraine both accepted the airplane into their airspace," he said.Rerouting planes around war zones costs airlines money, as the planes burn more expensive jet fuel. Aviation expert Norman Shanks said many airlines continued to fly over Ukraine despite warnings because it offered a shorter route that saved money on fuel.Greg Raiff, an aviation consultant in New Hampshire, said that if airlines must avoid flying over all the world's hot spots, flight times would be extended, requiring extra fuel and pilots. That might make some routes uneconomical, forcing airlines to abandon them.Airlines quickly changed some routes. Snapshots from flight-tracking services showed dense traffic to the west, light traffic to the east, but very few planes over Ukraine.Emirates airlines said that one of its jets bound for Ukraine's capital of Kiev turned around and returned to Dubai. The airline suspended all flights to Kiev indefinitely. It emphasized that flights to and from the U.S. and other European destinations don't fly over the area where the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crashed.Germany's Lufthansa immediately rerouted all overflights to avoid eastern Ukraine, although flights to Kiev and Odessa were not affected. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said that none of its flights operated over the portion of Ukraine covered by the FAA security advisory, but added that it would stop routing flights over any part of the country. India's Ministry of Civil Aviation said Air India and Jet Airways would divert flights away from Ukraine.Airlines don't always risk flying over conflict areas.Australia's Qantas stopped flying over Ukraine several months ago and shifted its London-Dubai route 645 kilometers (400 miles) to the south. A spokeswoman declined to explain the change. Korean Air Line said it had rerouted cargo and passenger flights in early March amid the worsening situation over the Crimean peninsula.Emirates stopped flying over parts of Syria as a civil war there expanded. Some airlines have curtailed service in Iraq, where violence has escalated between the government and a jihadist militant group. Some of the other places that the FAA also currently warns pilots to avoid parts of include Iran, Yemen, the Sinai peninsula and North Korea.Benton, ARAssociated PressWhy airlines didn't avoid risky Ukraine airspaceNo source adds name to Bryant attorney pool2014-07-18T12:22:45-04:002014-07-18T12:22:32-04:00The Saline CourierFarmer said he has "big dreams" about what Bryant can become and hopes he can do his part to make the city a better place. "It took decades for Bryant to build momentum of growth from an exit sign on the interstate to a bustling community," he said."We are now growing at speeds we could not have believed many years ago," he said. "I have benefited tremendously from being a part of this growing city, and I want to reinvest myself to continue building a strong foundation for long-term growth and community success into the future." Currently, Bryant does not have an elected city attorney. Chris Madison serves as the city's staff attorney through an appointment from Mayor Jill Dabbs.To date, the race has drawn one other candidate, Benton attorney Doug Mays.Farmer predicted that several candidates will be vying for the seat, but believes he is "uniquely qualified."The race will be included on the November general election ballot."Although I am still a fairly young man, I know that I am fully capable of successfully fulfilling this role and serving Bryant far beyond expectations," he said. "I hope that my candidacy signals the interest and involvement of a new generation of leaders for Bryant."Farmer said his experience in working as an attorney for large corporations will help him as a city attorney. "I think city governments and corporations have very similar goals and objectives from a legal standpoint," he said. "First, we have to manage and minimize our risks to the best of our ability."Second, we have to proactively work to achieve growth and serve our customers or citizens as best as we can," he said. Farmer earned a bachelor's degree from Ouachita Baptist University, a master's degree in business administration at Henderson State University and a law degree at the University of Arkansas Little Rock Law School.He currently works as an attorney at a large firm in Little Rock and is a member of the Arkansas Bar Association and the American Bar Association.His wife Sarah is a pediatric dentist in Bryant.Recently, the Farmers had their first child, a daughter Lucy. "We are all eager to make Bryant the best home it can be for us and our neighbors and friends," he said. Benton, ARSarah PerryFarmer adds name to Bryant attorney poolNo source made after pursuit with officers2014-07-18T12:21:12-04:002014-07-18T12:21:12-04:00The Saline CourierBrian Keith Scroggins, 31, allegedly was traveling recklessly on Interstate 30. When a Benton police officer tried to stop the vehicle, Scroggins continued to travel at a high rate of speed.Scroggins eventually traveled onto U.S. 70, venturing into oncoming traffic, according to the police report. When Scroggins drove into a large open field on Highway 88 in Lonsdale, the officer could not safely follow him. Eventually the officer had to use a K-9 officer to find Scroggins who had gotten out of his vehicle and was in the woods nearby.After placing Scroggins under arrest, officers realized he had driven his vehicle into a private pond and had damaged a nearby fence. The tire on the officer's vehicle was also damaged during the pursuit. Scroggins was charged with fleeing, driving while intoxicated, refusal to submit to chemical tests, reckless driving, driving on a suspended license from a previous driving while intoxicated charge, criminal mischief, speeding, careless and prohibited driving and no proof of insurance, according to the Saline County Sheriff's Office inmate roster. Benton, ARSarah PerryArrest made after pursuit with officersNo source Dispatch, July 17, 20142014-07-18T12:19:54-04:002014-07-18T12:19:20-04:00The Saline Courier•The building superintendent at the Saline County Courthouse reported the theft of a surplus door.•Jaton Bolden, 25, of Little Rock received a citation for allegedly stealing money from McDonald's restaurant.•Kimberly Krippendorf, 29, of Benton was arrested at Walmart and charged with theft of property. •A woman reported her daughter's ring was stolen. The woman said she does not know when or where the ring was taken. •Keith Dick, 52, of Benton was arrested on South Highway 5 and charged with false evidence of registration, driving while intoxicated, driving on a suspended driver's license and fictitious tags. He was also named in an active warrant. •A woman at Captain D's reported that an individual had harassed her. •A man on Alcoa Parkway reported the theft of a bicycle.•A woman on Watts Road reported several items were stolen from her residence. •An employee at Big Red Valero on U.S. 67 reported the theft of his wallet. Saline County Sheriff's Office•A woman on South Sardis Road reported a theft. •A man on Sunnybrook Road reported he had been threatened. •A woman on Rebel Road reported her daughter was bitten by a dog. •A woman on Green Manor Drive reported the theft of her debit card. •A woman on Samples Road reported an individual shot an arrow through her bedroom window. •A man on Red Oak Drive reported a break-in at his residence. •A woman on Holly Lane reported her husband assaulted her. Benton Fire DepartmentBenton firefighters responded to two rescue calls and two medical calls. Bryant Fire DepartmentBenton, ARSarah PerryDaily Dispatch, July 17, 2014No source vehicle found in Saline County2014-07-17T14:50:52-04:002014-07-17T14:50:52-04:00The Saline CourierThe vehicle, a 1999 tan GMC Jimmy, which was found in the woods near White Oak Pond Drive in Mabelvale, according Lt. Scott Courtney, Saline County Sheriff's Office spokesperson. Roach was last seen in North Little Rock wearing a red Arkansas Razorback T-shirt and dark pants. His family has not had contact with him since July 11, according to Lt. James Kulesa, Lonoke County Sheriff's Office spokesperson. Benton, ARSarah PerryMissing vehicle found in Saline CountyNo source