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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...

Won't let Barber associate withdraw plea, judge rules

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- A federal judge won't reconsider his ruling last month rejecting a request by an associate of former Northwest Arkansas developer Brandon Barber to withdraw his guilty plea to money laundering, court records show. Continue reading...

Raise ambulance fee, county chief says

Increase to relieve Sebastian County’s general fund, replace equipment, he says

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- Sebastian County Judge David Hudson is heading an effort to increase a fee for Sebastian County Emergency Medical Service (EMS) to generate more money for the service and to relieve the county's general fund of its current burden of subsidizing it. Continue reading...

Man arrested in Mena assault, kidnapping

Super charged in Oklahoma, awaiting extradition on Arkansas warrants

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH — Anita Smith thought Jerald Lavelle Brewer DH was going to kill her when he beat and kidnapped her before she escaped from a Mena gas station Sunday, according to the Sebastian County sheriff’s office. Continue reading...

Airport picks emergency firm

Fort Smith officials to negotiate rescue, firefighting pact

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- The Fort Smith Regional Airport Commission on Tuesday chose a Green Bay, Wis., company to provide aircraft rescue and firefighting service beginning next month. Continue reading...

After fatal gunfire, 3 still off job

23-year-old slain in police face-off

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- Two Fort Smith police officers and a Sebastian County sheriff's deputy remained on paid leave Monday after a police confrontation in which the deputy shot to death a 23-year-old man. Continue reading...

Police rules broken in 911 call

Officers disciplined for not going to kidnapping scene

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- Fort Smith police violated department protocols when officers failed to respond to a 911 call in June when a woman was kidnapped at gunpoint at a local business, according to the results of an internal department investigation. Continue reading...

Fort Smith to vote on millage

2-mill increase projected to raise $2.8 million for library

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- Fort Smith library officials say a vote for a library millage increase today is an investment in the community's future. Continue reading...

Machete-slayings trial to hear self-defense claim

Subscriber onlyFORT SMITH -- Gregory Aaron Kinsey's defense in the slaying of two men with a machete last year will be self-defense one of his attorneys told a Sebastian County circuit judge Thursday. Continue reading...

For projects, Alma asks voters to renew sales tax

Subscriber onlyAlma voters will decide on a smorgasbord of projects Tuesday on a special election ballot that, if all are approved, will cost more than $12 million. Continue reading...

Newman's retrial set in 2001 capital case

Subscriber onlyOctober 27 has been set for the retrial of Rickey Dale Newman, who is charged with capital murder in the 2001 mutilation death of a 46-year-old female transient. Continue reading...

Completion of I-540 section celebrated

Fort Smith, Van Buren ceremony marks project’s end

Officials gathered Tuesday morning to proclaim the completion of the $78.8 million reconstruction of Interstate 540 in Fort Smith and Van Buren. Continue reading...

Youth club: Firm can test land

Whirlpool wells near Fort Smith plant also need city OK

The Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club has given the Whirlpool Corp. access to its property next to the company's closed refrigerator manufacturing plant to sink wells to test for trichloroethylene. Continue reading...

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