July 30-Aug. 5, 2008
It was a good week for …
LES WYATT. The president of Arkansas State University was revealed by a Higher Education Department survey to be the best-compensated college administrator in Arkansas with pay and perks worth $540,610 a year. None of the rest was exactly hurting thanks to various private bonuses and deferred compensation deals, a fact that could bring some legislative scrutiny in 2009.
CANCER CAMPERS. UAMS and the Corps of Engineers have joined to provide long-term campsites at Maumelle Park for campers who use the park as a low-cost housing alternative when staying in Little Rock for cancer treatment at UAMS. The park generally has a two-week limit on camping.
EL DORADO. The El Dorado Promise college scholarship program financed by Murphy Oil continues to pay dividends. The El Dorado School District is expecting to enroll more than 100 new students this year, a turnaround for the district, which had been in decline before the scholarship program was announced.
BLACK COLLEGE STUDENTS. The state made available $115,000 in scholarship money for students at historically black colleges — UAPB, Philander Smith and Arkansas Baptist.
It was a bad week for …
UTILITY BILLS. Already suffering from a brutal summer, ratepayers got the word from the Public Service Commission that higher gas prices could mean a jump in winter heating bills from 25 percent to 40 percent.
The state GAME AND FISH COMMISSION. It was paid for a gas lease before the deal was approved by the commission and it signaled resistance to the notion that it should share its recent Fayetteville Shale bonanza with the rest of state government. What's bad about that? It increases pressure for legislative and voter solutions to the agency's imperial autonomy.
DECATUR SCHOOL DISTRICT. The state Education Department took over the near-bankrupt district and a bookkeeper was charged with tapping district money for personal use.