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Jury finds man innocent in Fort Smith homicide

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- A Sebastian County Circuit Court jury Thursday acquitted a man of first-degree murder in the strangulation death last year of a Fort Smith woman in her home. Continue reading...

Fort Smith man acquitted of murder

A Sebastian County Circuit Court jury acquitted 60-year-old Kevyphonh Songyaphong Thursday of first-degree murder in the 2013 strangulation death of a Fort Smith woman in her home. Continue reading...

Man charged in rape of boys

Subscriber onlyA Waldron man is out on bond after being charged with 20 counts of rape and six counts of second-degree sexual assault, authorities said. Continue reading...

Fort Smith shooting by lawmen justified

Sheriff’s deputy shot, killed carjacker

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- Two Fort Smith police officers and an off-duty Sebastian County sheriff's deputy were justified in using deadly force in a shootout last month with an Oklahoma man, according to a ruling by Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue. Continue reading...

Ex-Cedarville treasurer pleads innocent to theft of city funds

Subscriber onlyCedarville's former recorder/treasurer has pleaded innocent to charges that she stole as much as $175,000 from the city since 2008. Continue reading...

Guilty plea OK'd for assault on girl

N.J. man had sex with 14-year-old

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- A federal court judge Tuesday accepted the guilty plea of a New Jersey man on charges he transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines for sex, according to court records. Continue reading...

Man gets 20 years for manslaughter

Guilt admitted in Fort Smith shooting

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- A Fort Smith man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the shooting death in January of another man, according to Sebastian County Circuit Court records. Continue reading...

Fort Smith gets water-fluoridation grant

City has 18-month deadline to carry out project, utilities director says

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- Fort Smith has lined up a grant for $1.8 million to buy and install equipment necessary to fluoridate its water system, which serves 160,000 people. The process is expected to be finished in the spring of 2016. Continue reading...

Lawmakers wait for power-line report

Subscriber onlyOZARK -- Members of the Arkansas congressional delegation who were represented at a public meeting regarding plans for a power transmission line to send wind-generated power from Oklahoma to Tennessee have not taken a stand on the issue. Continue reading...

Chemical found in club's land near closed Whirlpool plant

Subscriber onlyTraces of a hazardous chemical that has contaminated Whirlpool Corp. property also has been found under property owned by the Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club. Continue reading...

Fort Smith seeks grant for school

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- Fort Smith is applying for a $1.5 million grant to support development of an osteopathic medical school in Fort Smith and to match the grant with $1.5 million in infrastructure improvements. Continue reading...

Newman retrial's prosecutor chosen

Subscriber onlyFormer prosecutor Ron Fields was appointed Wednesday as special prosecutor for Ricky Dale Newman's capital murder retrial in Crawford County Circuit Court. Continue reading...

Sebastian County JPs set ambulance-fee vote

Subscriber onlySebastian County voters outside Fort Smith and Barling will be asked to decide whether to increase the $18 fee they pay each year for ambulance service to $43. Continue reading...

Texas firm progresses in transmission line project

Subscriber onlyA Texas company announced progress in its effort to build a power transmission line through Arkansas as opponents to the project planned to meet this week. Continue reading...

Funds for new jail ready next month

JPs to vote on $465,000 land purchase

Subscriber onlyVAN BUREN — Crawford County officials will be able to buy 16 acres of land for a new county jail next month when money from jail bonds becomes available. The Crawford County Quorum Court voted Aug. 18Monday to issue the bonds, which will yield $21.9 million for design and construction of a new county jail on U.S. 64 just outside Van Buren’s eastern border. Bond counsel told the quorum court members the money from the bond sale will become available for them to spend after Sept. 24. County Judge John Hall said he expects the Quorum Court to vote at its Sept. 15 meeting to spend $465,000 to buy the land for the jail on Sept. 25. Nothing stands in the county’s way of buying the land, Hall said. Surveys, soil studies and environmental investigations have been completed and have not turned up any problems that would hamper the purchase of the property, he said. County officials want to build a new jail on the land for $20 million. The jail would hold 260 prisoners and house the sheriff’s office. The size of the lot will allow for future expansion of the jail. Bond money for the purchase of the land, design and planning, and other nonconstruction expenses has been set aside for those purposes and will not cut into the construction budget, Hall said. He said he expected jail construction to be advertised for bidding by March 1 under the direction of project construction manager and architect SouthBuild Team LLC of Collierville, Tenn. Construction is expected to take 18 to 20 months. The bonds that are providing the money for the project will be paid off over eight to 10 years with proceeds from a 0.5 percent sales tax that county voters approved in May. The tax will sunset when the construction debt is paid off. Another 0.25 percent sales tax that voters approved in the same election will be used to fund the additional operating expenses of the new jail and for other law enforcement needs. That tax will be permanent. The county’s current 20-year-old jail in downtown Van Buren has a capacity of 88 prisoners but has been chronically overcrowded and in violation of state jail standards for years. Because of the overcrowding, officials say they have had to free criminals who should be in jail. Continue reading...

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