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Good week: Swepco


July 20-26

It was a good week for...

SWEPCO. The power company signed a con-fidential settlement of lawsuits challenging the construction of its John W. Turk Power Plant in Hempstead County. The Hempstead County Hunting Club and other plaintiffs have withdrawn their challenges to the plant's air permit and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the plant. The settlement means a loss of some financial clout for the plant's opposition, but it does include SWEPCO's abandonment of plans to build a second unit of the coal-fired plant, a victory of sorts for the opposition.

ARTEE WILLIAMS. The director of the state Department of Workforce Services left his post on July 1 and will remain gone until the end of month, at which time he will be reappointed to the position by Gov. Mike Beebe. From then on, he'll draw both his regular pay ($136,601) and retirement pay, which is figured by a formula including years of service and his highest years of pay.

ABDULHAKIM MUHAMMAD. The admitted murderer of a soldier outside a Little Rock military center struck a plea bargain in his trial, which will leave him with a life sentence without parole. The prosecution had sought the death penalty.

It was a bad week for...

FOURTH DISTRICT DEMOCRATS. Two days after he delivered a charged, partisan speech to the Arkansas Democratic Party, Rep. Mike Ross announced that he won't seek re-election to continue representing Arkansas's Fourth District in Congress. That leaves little time for a relatively unknown Democrat to mount a campaign to replace him. Ross cited Washington's dysfunction as a reason for not running. He also left open the possibility of running for Arkansas governor in 2014.

REP. NATE BELL. The Republican state representative from Mena quoted Hitler on his Facebook page. Or at least he thought he did. "As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation" doesn't actually come from "Mein Kampf" as Bell suggested. Still, he stands by the sentiment, he said in a follow-up post.

THE ARKANSAS UNEMPLOYED. The Arkansas unemployment rate in June was 8.1 percent, up from 7.8 percent the month before. The rate is the highest in 24 years.

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