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Pulaski County officials reject resolution to support ceasefire in the Middle East • Arkansas Advocate

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Pulaski County officials reject resolution to support ceasefire in the Middle East • Arkansas Advocate


The Pulaski County Quorum Court in Central Arkansas on Tuesday rejected a resolution to “support permanent ceasefire and prevent further loss of human life in the Middle East.”

The Justices of the Peace also voted to table the matter indefinitely upon a motion from Justice Phil Stowers.

The resolution stated a desire to save lives regardless of faith or ethnicity, urged national leaders to end the crisis and noted that “harassment, discrimination and violence towards the Muslim and Jewish communities are contradictory to the values that define Pulaski County.”

Several legislative bodies across the country have considered resolutions that call for a ceasefire in the Middle East. Activists brought such a proposal to a Little Rock Board of Directors meeting in April, though officials haven’t acted on it. The Fayetteville city council shut down its own ceasefire resolution in May.

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Phil Stowers, Justice of the Peace for District 13 in Pulaski County, motions to table a resolution concerning a ceasefire in the Middle East indefinitely on July 9, 2024. (Mary Hennigan/Arkansas Advocate)

Stowers’ motion to table the matter indefinitely prohibited justices from voting on the resolution directly. When given the opportunity to discuss the motion of tabling, only Justice Lillie McMullen spoke, and she questioned why Stowers or others would want to do so. 

“Why on earth would we want to table it?” McMullen asked. “Why would we not go forward with it at this point? What is it that we are afraid of or want to avoid?”

Stowers quickly called for immediate consideration, which passed unanimously. Four justices then voted against tabling the resolution indefinitely: McMullen, Diane Curry, Curtis Keith and resolution sponsor Donna Massey.

“Honestly speaking, [the resolution] is not picking sides,” Massey told the Arkansas Advocate ahead of the vote last week. “Of course we could, but it’s just asking for a ceasefire to save lives on all sides. Me, personally, I don’t see how that could be that political. It’s just asking them to stop for the sake of humanity.”

Stowers was escorted out of the meeting room quickly upon adjournment. During a phone interview afterward, Stowers said he was proud of his motion and his colleagues who voted with him.

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“The people who elected us to serve Pulaski County elected us to take care of their business as it relates to Pulaski County,” Stowers said. “I feel that we have congressional representation on the national level that I certainly personally believe in and rely on.”

Stowers also said he believes Hamas was the aggressor and Israel has the right to protect itself. He said he “believes in peace.”

Four Justices of the Peace on July 9, 2024, voted against a motion to table a resolution supporting a ceasefire in the Middle East indefinitely. From left to right: Lillie McMullen, Donna Massey, Dianne Curry, Curtis Keith. (Mary Hennigan/Arkansas Advocate)

Three community members spoke in favor of the ceasefire during the quorum court meeting, and staff read one written comment in opposition to the resolution. 

Supporters shared statistics of the ongoing violence and referenced residents in Pulaski County who have family that are directly affected. The resident in opposition wrote that the resolution was not appropriate for county-level involvement and the language was not equitable.

After the vote, about two dozen supporters in attendance stood and chanted “Shame” and “Justices, where is the peace?” toward the quorum court. Massey extended her apologies to the supporters as she left.

Among those community members was Anika Whitfield, who told the Arkansas Advocate that she has people in her life who have been directly affected by the violence in the Middle East. Whitfield said the quorum court tabling the resolution indefinitely was an “obvious work of not allowing direct democracy to happen.”

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Whitfield said it seemed like the justices’ decision was already finalized before the meeting started.

Anika Whitfield, a Pulaski County resident who spoke in support of a resolution to call for a ceasefire in the Middle East, stands outside the quorum court’s meeting place in Little Rock on July 9, 2024. (Mary Hennigan/Arkansas Advocate)

When Massey talked with the Advocate last week, her confidence that the resolution would pass was wavering based on secondhand communications about what her colleagues might do. Following Tuesday’s vote, Massey noted that there was “no validity” to her colleagues’ reasons to vote against the resolution.

“They don’t feel that we should get involved in international affairs, but we are involved,” Massey said during a previous interview. “We are involved whether we like it or not. Some just don’t want to get into anything too political during election season. I’m just keeping it real.”

The Pulaski County Quorum Court is made up of 15 Justices of the Peace, each of whom represents a designated district for two-year terms. Two are up for election this November, Kathy Lewison of District 3 and Julie Blackwood of District 4. Three seats were determined during the primary election, and those justices will take office in January.

In total, the legislative body serves approximately 380,000 residents. Massey was first elected in 1999. She currently represents District 6, which covers downtown Little Rock and a western portion of the city.

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Man dies in fatal motorcycle crash following pursuit

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Man dies in fatal motorcycle crash following pursuit


TEXARKANA, Ark. (KSLA) – Three motorcyclists led Arkansas police on a chase that resulted in the death of one of the drivers.

On July 21, at 1:02 a.m., the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department (TAPD) began a traffic stop on three motorcycles on the 3600 block of Arkansas Boulevard. The motorcycles immediately began to flee from the officers and a pursuit began.

As one of the motorcycles entered the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Arkansas Boulevard, it crashed into a passenger vehicle that was not involved in the chase.

The driver of the motorcycle was ejected and later pronounced dead at a local hospital in Texarkana, Texas.

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The driver of the passenger vehicle was treated for minor cuts and bruises on the scene.

TAPD has not located the others involved in the pursuit.

Arkansas State Police are investigating the crash.



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Arkansas official says state unsure when Rogers Revenue Office will reopen after being closed due to storm damage | Arkansas Democrat Gazette

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Arkansas official says state unsure when Rogers Revenue Office will reopen after being closed due to storm damage | Arkansas Democrat Gazette


ROGERS — State officials can’t say when the revenue office in Rogers will reopen, but they apologize ahead of time for the longer wait at the other four revenue offices in Benton County.

The Rogers location at 2117 W. Walnut St. has been closed since storms damaged the roof May 26, said Scott Hardin. Hardin is spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, which oversees the state’s revenue offices.

The department does not have a planned date to reopen the office but is monitoring the progress of repairs daily, Hardin said. He added the state plans to open the office as soon as possible but wants to ensure customers have a great experience when it does.

Driver’s license and vehicle registrations are among the services handled at state revenue offices. The closure of the Rogers location has caused an increase in traffic at other locations in the region, Hardin said. He added the Bentonville office has stayed open two hours later on multiple days to be able to process the remaining customers in the building.

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Jackie Scott, a Rogers resident, said when she visited the Bentonville office last month, the room was crowded and every window was in use with employees working nonstop.

Melody Kwok, communications director for Benton County, said the closure of the Rogers location has added “stress and strain” on the Bentonville office.

In addition to state revenue office operations, the Rogers building houses various county services. State and county services are on opposite sides of the divided building.

County services in the Rogers building reopened July 8. The Rogers site is the main location for the county assessor and county collector and has a satellite office for the county clerk.

Kwok said people often come in looking for state services in the county’s portion of the Rogers office. County employees provide the inquiring residents information on the open revenue offices in the region when that occurs, she said.

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The county’s landlord installed a temporary roof, replaced air conditioning units and broken exterior glass and made other repairs needed after the storm, Kwok said. Air quality in the office was found to be normal according to an air quality test the county requested, she said.

A permanent roof is being installed and will take several weeks to complete, Kwok said.

There are 134 revenue offices in Arkansas, Hardin said. According to Benton County’s Facebook page, the other Benton County revenue office locations are in Bentonville, Gravette, Siloam Springs and Decatur.

Rogers Revenue Office employees have been reassigned to Bentonville until Rogers opens to help decrease wait times, Hardin said. He said the Bentonville location is ranked among the busiest in Arkansas, and the state will reassign employees of other offices in the region during the days when wait times increase.

“I think the loss of the Rogers office has put a strain on surrounding offices,” said Elaine Pasley, a Bella Vista resident.

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She said she has always used the Gravette office because it usually has a shorter wait time. She said she went a couple of weeks ago, and the office had wait times of more than two hours.

Morgan Harris, a Pea Ridge resident, said he chose to go to the Gravette office after he saw the line at the Bentonville office “snaked through” the entire building. He said he still waited two hours at Gravette to be helped.

A wide variety of revenue office services are available online, Hardin said. Examples include ordering a replacement license, registering a vehicle, ordering a personalized license plate, checking the status of a title and renewing car tags.

The Finance and Administration Department will provide updates regarding the Rogers office on its social media channels as they are available, Hardin said.

    The Benton County Rogers Office is seen on Thursday, July 18, 2024, in Rogers. The location has been closed from storm damage over Memorial Day Weekend. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
 
 

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Alternate revenue office locations

Bentonville 

Address: 2401 S.W. D St., Suite 3

Phone: 479-273-2724

Gravette 

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Address: 901 First Ave. S.W., Suite C

Phone: 479-787-5912

Siloam Springs 

Address: 707 S. Lincoln, Suite A

Phone: 479-524-3182

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Decatur 

Address: Municipal Hall, 310 Maple St.

Phone: 479-752-3912

Source: Benton County

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Arkansas man injured after crash in Gasconade County Saturday – ABC17NEWS

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Arkansas man injured after crash in Gasconade County Saturday – ABC17NEWS


GASCONADE COUNTY, Mo. (KMIZ)

A Little Rock, Arkansas man was injured after a crash in Gasconade County Saturday morning.

According to a crash report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Arian Robnett, 46 of Little Rock, AR was driving a box truck South on MO 19 at S Oak Drive at 9:48 a.m. The crash occurred when Robnett’s truck went off the right side of the road into a ditch, hit a culvert and flipped over.

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Robnett was taken to Mercy Hospital with serious injuries.

According to the report, Robnett was not wearing a seatbelt.

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