Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

Conservatives claim Conway School Board seats

All three candidates who campaigned as “strong conservative voices” won election to the board of the Conway School District Tuesday. School board races in Arkansas are nonpartisan, meaning candidates do not run under any political party’s banner. Nothing, however, prevents them from describing themselves as conservatives, liberals, moderates or even apolitical.
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School board race politicized

CONWAY — Arkansas school board races, once considered nonpartisan events, have joined judicial races in becoming increasingly political without anyone publicly declaring themselves to be Republicans or Democrats. In the Conway School District, for instance, three of the six board candidates have found another way to signal their political...
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State Supreme Court Justice Wood cleared of ethics allegations

A state judicial ethics commission has dismissed a complaint filed against Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood, saying an investigative panel had found “insufficient cause to proceed.”. Wood praised the decision by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission and called the complaint “baseless, without merit, and politically motivated.”...

Program cuts coming to cash-strapped Henderson State

Three years ago, Henderson State University was on the brink of insolvency, its balance sheet loaded with millions of dollars in uncollectible student accounts. Only an emergency $6 million loan from the state in 2019 allowed the small Arkadelphia school to keep its doors open.Today, a new chancellor, a merger with the Arkansas State University System, an improved credit rating and a subsiding pandemic all suggest Henderson’s darkest days are behind it. But for many faculty and staff members, the hardest part still lies ahead.

Slipped through the cracks: How highway authorities missed the flaw that nearly brought down the I-40 bridge

On May 11, a catastrophe was narrowly averted on the I-40 Hernando DeSoto bridge, a 3.3-mile-long structure that crosses the Mississippi River and connects Memphis and Arkansas. A contractor working for the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) noticed a gaping crack in a hollow steel girder, threatening the entire bridge...

State regulators give OK to Medicaid managed care company once dogged by investigations

Two months ago, things were looking dire for Empower Healthcare Solutions, a managed care organization that serves roughly 20,000 Arkansas Medicaid beneficiaries with developmental disabilities, severe behavioral health disorders and other complex needs. The attorney general’s office was investigating the company for suspected Medicaid fraud. The state Department of Human...

Biden administration says premiums for Arkansas Medicaid expansion must end in one year

In June 2018, when Arkansas became the first state in the nation to implement work requirements for certain Medicaid beneficiaries, Governor Hutchinson was triumphant. “We’ve wanted to establish a work requirement … for a long time,” he said at the time. The Obama administration had refused to authorize work requirements, but the Trump administration gave the green light. “With this development, Arkansas has become a national leader in rethinking the delivery of public assistance,” the governor boasted.

State sanctions Empower, says Medicaid managed care company ‘misrepresented’ facts

The Arkansas Department of Human Services has suspended new enrollment for Empower Healthcare Solutions, a managed care organization serving about 20,000 Medicaid beneficiaries with intellectual or developmental disabilities, behavioral health disorders or both. Empower is one of four Provider-led Arkansas Shared Savings Entities, or PASSEs — managed care organizations that...

2 senior Arkansas bridge inspection engineers out after release of long-awaited I-40 reports

This story was co-published with The Daily Memphian. The Arkansas Department of Transportation on Thursday confirmed the retirement of two senior bridge inspection engineers soon after releasing new information about the near-catastrophic crack found earlier this year on the I-40 bridge linking Memphis and Arkansas. Mike Hill, who ran ArDOT’s...

Medicaid managed care company sues outgoing corporate co-owner, alleging ‘sabotage’

This story was updated with additional details at 10:45 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 6. Empower Healthcare Solutions, a managed care organization that serves almost 20,000 Arkansas Medicaid beneficiaries with complex health needs, filed a lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday against a Boston-based company that owns a portion of Empower but is planning to leave by the end of the year.

Former chemistry professor pleads guilty to manufacturing meth in college lab

The story sounded like it was made for Hollywood: Two chemistry professors in a small Arkansas college town accused of cooking methamphetamine in their school laboratory. On the night of Oct. 7, 2019, a chemical spill occurred in Room 304 at Henderson State University’s Reynolds Science Center. The next day, a strong odor filled the building, forcing the school to evacuate the building and cancel classes. Weeks later, Terry David Bateman, 47, and Bradley Rowland, 42, were arrested and charged with manufacturing meth and other drug-related offenses.