Friday news roundup | Arkansas Blog

Friday news roundup



Unless Max wants to send in pictures of some fabulous meal he's having in San Francisco later, we'll say goodnight and turn the line over to you. (He did have a good, at One Market, but no photos and walked up Nob Hill after the cable car broke down.) Some final news items:

* Activists are rightly sounding the alarm about a Fort Smith junior high that sent a student home for wearing a rainbow bracelet because it was a symbol for homosexuality, then suspended her for wearing a hand-painted T-shirt saying "homosexual l-o-v-e." It's an outrage. I hope the ACLU is on the case. News on jump.

* Jury in Prairie County awarded a family $10.3 million in a case stemming from a fiery car accident. Iraq veteran had to rescue his family from a burning car after being hit by several tractor-trailers. Release on jump.

* Sens. Lincoln and Pryor announce $15 million in federal spending on a 40-mile bike/hike/"mobility" project in Northwest Arkansas. More of that nasty earmarking that Rep. John Boozman refuses to be a part of.

* On the double-dipping front: The attorney general today said it was legal for the state personnel management office to release information on when certain state employees had retired and then were rehired. I'm uncertain at this moment which employees are covered by this request and who's making it, but I'll try to pick up the information next week. Though the legislature has strengthened the law to prevent fake retirement for the purpose of being automatically added back on the payroll for two paychecks, I think taxpayers are owed a look at how widespread the practice was and which departments engaged most in the practice. Were there meaningful hiring efforts for openings created by these "retirements"? You know there were not in most, if not all, cases.


An out lesbian teen in Ft. Smith, Ar was suspended from Ramsey Jr. High this week for wearing a shirt that expressed her pride. She was asked to remove a rainbow bracelet because it "represented homosexuality". Sommer returned to school the next day with a hand painted T shirt that said "Support Homosexual L-O-V-E".

Ramsey Jr. High teachers and faculty suspended her because the phrase 'Homosexual Love' "described a sexual act" according to the school. She has been suspended for 3 days.

Please call the Ft. Smith's school administration and let the superintendant know that this is unacceptable. No student would ever be suspended for having a shirt that siad "Support heterosexual love". This double standard is not okay.

If you would like to contact the superintendent and let him know that people all over the state support her and other LGBTQ teenagers rights to express themselves please call 1(479) 785-2501 *please remember that rude or disrespectful remarks will not help change anyone’s opinion.


Jury awards $10.3 to tractor-trailer crash victims

PRAIRIE COUNTY - A Prairie County jury awarded $10.3 million to the family of an Iraq war veteran who was burned while rescuing his wife and two children after a devastating collision on I-40 on July 22, 2008.

Mark Rogers and his family were traveling through Arkansas while on vacation when their car was corralled by several tractor-trailers near mile marker 203 outside Biscoe. One of the rigs ignited, and the fire spread, setting Rogers' car on fire. His was the only door that would open, so the 34 year old escaped and kicked in the windshield to rescue his wife, daughter and son.

In total, six tractor-trailers were involved in the catastrophic accident that left three of the four Rogers family members severely burned.

Jim Wilkes and Brian Reddick represented the Rogers family. Five of the companies settled before the trial for a total of $20.5 million. U.S. Xpress, Inc. denied liability and the case went to trial on Sept. 23, 2010.

Wilkes argued that U.S. Express Inc. driver Charles Daniels was following too closely that day and rear-ended a tractor-trailer owned by Triad Transport Inc., causing it to trap the Rogers family in their burning Pontiac. Daniels failed to maintain appropriate speed and distance, and violated other safety regulations, according to the lawsuit.

It took a Prairie County jury only two hours to deliberate.

At the time of the accident, Mark Rogers was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves. He had recently returned from his second tour in Iraq, where he served as a combat engineer. In an ironic twist of fate, Staff Sgt. Rogers was a K-9 handler who searched for explosives in Iraq with the goal of maintaining safe highways.


U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor today announced that the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway Proposal has been selected to receive $15 million through the Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Program.

The Greenway project is an initiative to connect livable communities with active, non-motorized transportation along a 40-mile bicycle, pedestrian and mobility corridor that will join the southern part of Fayetteville to Lake Bella Vista. The corridor will pass through Bentonville, Rogers, Lowell, Springdale, Johnson and Fayetteville. This project is a national model for green infrastructure, sustainable economic development and public-private partnerships.

“This investment is fantastic news for Northwest Arkansas,” Lincoln said. “The Greenway project is an example of the type of innovative community planning project that we should be undertaking all over Arkansas and the country, as it will promote active lifestyles by connecting the places where people live, work and go to school. In addition, it will encourage travel around many of Northwest Arkansas’s significant attractions. I am proud to have lent my support to this economic development project and to have helped make this investment a reality.”

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