Going to open the line early again. Closing out:
* FISCAL CLIFF: President Obama has cut short his holiday but Sen. Harry Reid says the likelihood of a deal before the end of the year seems non-existent. House Republicans' refusal to deal is at the root of the short-term outcome. The advent of a big tax increase for rich people may yet force a miracle, though not the return of higher tax rates for working stiffs. In Little Rock, some big dealmakers were madly working last week to offload some assets ahead of an expected rise in the capital gains tax, as if a few percentage points were make-or-break for a billionaire.
* BANK ROBBERY: I'm always surprised when a bank is robbed with ice on the streets. Speedy getaway? But a Metropolitan branch on University was hit today, Channel 4 reports. And the robber reportedly drove off in a pickup, not the best ice vehicle around. UPDATE: Suspect arrested.
* STATE TO WORK PARTIAL DAY FRIDAY IN LR: From the governor:
While state offices in the Little Rock Metropolitan Area will reopen on Friday, Governor Mike Beebe will put the Inclement Weather Policy into effect to allow state employees an extra two hours to navigate potentially icy roads. Essential personnel should report at their regular times when requested.
As always with the Inclement Weather Policy, agency directors are authorized to allow extra time for employees who must traverse especially treacherous conditions.
* THE CITY OF LITTLE ROCK REPORTS: Mayor Stodola issues the following advisory on various city services in the context of the winter storm. (He left out the part that says the Martin Street hill, as is customary, will be the last to get attention from plows or salt trucks and trash and recycling trucks. Hey, I know. It's dangerous.) I am curious what, if anything, the city plans in the way of assistance on the massive tree damage cleanup. Surely there's to be an option for relief from the customary mandatory rules on chopping limbs into matchstick size, preferably in gift-wrapped bundles. It might take a special contract service, as with some past tornado damage. That half-billion in added tax revenue could be well applied here.
UPDATE: Still more info from the city follows on jump. Message: they care. Still looking for that salt in my 'hood.
LR NEWS RELEASE
Mayor Mark Stodola.
Update from City Hall: Christmas Storm of 2012.
1. Entergy reports 57,500 in Little Rock still without power. Could be up to 7 days before restored 100%. Should see substantial improvement by Thursday night. Entergy has 1200-1400 repairmen to assist in restoring power, coming in from surrounding states. For real time updates go the Entergy website: Stormcenter.entergy.com.
2. Public Works has 70 employees working to salt streets and clear limbs and trees. Working 24/7 shifts. Call 311 to report downed trees and limbs. Garbage pick up began today at 11 am, running Tuesday and Wednesday routes. Citizens advised to leave bins out. Will continue to pick up though the weekend. Drivers given discretion to determine passable streets. Recycling by Waste Management to follow.
3. Police report all shifts running pretty close to normal. Cars have chains.
4. Fire department reports 7 structure fires due to either candles or fireplaces. Do not leave these unattended. 359 call outs as of 11am Thursday.
5. Warming Center and Overnight Shelter established at Dunbar Community Center located at 16th Street and Chester. Will be open for those in need, starting this afternoon. Equipped with cots, food, essentials etc. If transportation needed, please call 311 and we will pick up. Please check on your elderly friends and neighbors.
6. Weather Report: 40% chance of freezing rain in the early am hours on Friday. Increases to 70 % chance by Friday afternoon.
7. Airport is open and operational. Please contact airlines for updated information on delays and cancellations.
Thank you. For additional inquiries, please call 311.
UPDATE FROM CITY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Assistant City Manager
The City of Little Rock is providing the following information in response to the recent ice storm. City staff is working around the clock to address all of the issues caused by this storm and will continue to do so until the City returns to normal.
Entergy Arkansas reports that all substations are up and running and now Entergy crews are working on restoring individual circuits throughout the city. Entergy reports that Little Rock is one of the hardest areas and by tomorrow over 1,000 workers will be focusing their efforts on restoring power to the City.
As of 11:00 AM Thursday morning, approximately 57,542 outages were reported within the City of Little Rock.
Entergy outage maps are in real time and can be accessed via the Entergy website at www.entergy.com. In addition, the information can be accessed via smart phones, iPads or tablets.
Entergy is updating regularly via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Text updates and alerts can be received by texting the word REG to 368374 and activating your account.
The City’s Public Works staff is currently working twelve (12)-hour rotating shifts with crews working both the day and night shifts. The City’s goal is to clear all of the roads of snow and ice and remove the fallen trees. As trees are cut out of the roadway, they will be piled to the side and picked up at a later date. If there are power lines tangled in the trees, City staff has been instructed to wait until Entergy has removed the lines before further working on the tree removal. Residents should call 311 to report downed trees and limbs.
City crews began putting salt on bridges around noon on Christmas Day and have replenished the stockpile today. Crews will continue salting and de-icing the roads as necessary.
City garbage pick-up resumed today at 11:00 AM and City crews began picking up the Tuesday routes. If City crews encounter any hazardous routes, the locations will be added to a list and picked up when conditions improve. Crews will work through the weekend to ensure that all trash is picked up.
Waste Management is in the process of assessing the situation to determine when they will resume recycling pick-up.
The Little Rock Police Department is fully staffed and is patrolling the City streets and responding to calls as they normally do.
The Little Rock Fire Department reports that Station #20, which is located behind Kohl’s in West Little Rock, was without power due to a generator failure, and the fire fighters were moved to another station. As of 11:00 AM this morning (12/27), the Fire Department has responded to 359 call outs and seven (7) structure fires.
The City’s Fleet Services staff is scheduled to operate around the clock in order to accommodate any vehicle repairs for City operations, particularly police and fire.
The City has dedicated the Southwest Community Center, located at 6401 Baseline Road, as a warming center. It will be in operation today (12/27) from 2:00 PM — 6:00 PM and from 10:00 AM — 6:00 PM starting tomorrow.
In addition, the City has dedicated the Dunbar Community Center, located at 1001 West 16th, as a warming center and overnight shelter. It will be equipped with cots, food and essentials. Individuals are encouraged to bring their own bedding, cell phone chargers, snacks, entertainment, etc.
Upon individual assessment of need, the Little Rock Fire Department will provide transportation for the elderly and disabled to the shelter or other locations for shelter.