Our View: Objections won’t deter plans for 10 Commandments monument

Good for you state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, for standing up to the left-wing, self-interest Washington, D.C., based American Humanist Association wanting to ax your plan to place a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the State Capitol. Rapert is forging ahead with his endeavors after he created an online fundraising account for the monument and has already raised over $6,000 in donations. We’re confident that when all is said and done Rapert will easily collect the necessary $10,600 needed to complete the fundraising drive. We’re told the account has already reported that $3,035 in donations were received through the GoFundMe account and the other $3,000 was made in direct donations from concerned Christian Arkansans who have had their belly full of being pushed around by these bully groups with self-serving and self-interest causes. In a legal response to Rapert’s efforts from this radical group’s legal center, he was informed of the organizations strong objections on, listen to this, “behalf of Arkansas residents and others who see it as a blatant attempt to promote religion and a clear violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.’ Then came the threat of litigation, as if that was going to deter Rapert from pursuing his efforts. This radical Washington element, sticking its nose in the lives and beliefs of what we believe are the majority of Arkansans, told Rapert it has litigated cases involving church-state separation and the rights of humanists, other non-theists and non-Christians in state and federal courts across the nation and is biting at the bit to put him in his proper place. The fact of this matter, and what is giving Rapert the encouragement to pursue his endeavors, is a Supreme Court ruling that approved a Ten Commandments monument on a state Capitol grounds in 2004, and the Eighth Circuit approval for a Ten Commandments monument in a public park in 2005. “It is settled law that a Ten Commandments monument such as the one we intend in Arkansas is in full compliance with the Constitution. Act 1231 was passed by 99 out of 135 state legislators and signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2015 and will be fulfilled according to state law,” Rapert said. Most of us should remember that in April, Hutchinson signed into law legislation requiring the secretary of state to arrange for a privately funded Ten Commandments monument to be placed on the Capitol grounds in Little Rock. Act 1231 states that the “placing of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol would help the people of the United States and of the state of Arkansas to know the Ten Commandments as the moral foundation of the law.” It requires the secretary of state to permit and arrange for the monument to be designed, constructed and paid for by private entities at no expense to the state. Similar monuments have been constructed in Oklahoma and Texas. We say, Go For It! Sen. Rapert, and don’t let this radical group or any others hinder your efforts to not only collect the necessary donations but also have this important monument in a special place for all Arkansans to view and take very seriously.

It’s not just Tax Day — it’s ‘Shred Day’

Dispose of old documents safely at Fidelity Bank event April 15

By Ralph Hardin ralphhardin@gmail.com

April 15 is a day dreaded by many Americans — it’s Tax Day. But this year, many financial institutions around the country are also holding “Shred Day” events. “More than 19.5 million Americans were the victims of identity theft in 2015 according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics,” said Bill Pearson, a corporate communications officer with Navy Federal Credit Union. Pearson said that Shred Day offers the opportunity to safely dispose of important documents as a way to help prevent sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands. He said having seen an increase in attendee participation over the years, Navy Federal expects well over 50 tons of paper and documents to be processed during the event through their 2016 Shred Day. Locally, Fidelity National Bank will be hosting a free, open-to-the-public Shred Day event. Area residents can bring their old paperwork (five box limit, no plastic or other hard materials) to the Fidelity Mid-Continent branch in West Memphis, Friday, April 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Early voting starts today for JP Dist. 7 runoff

Marconi, Watkins contend for Quorum Court seat March 22

By Ralph Hardin ralphhardin@gmail.com

A handful of Crittenden County voters still have some voting to do. Voters in Quorum Court District 7, which includes parts of West Memphis, as well as Anthonyville, Edmondson and Horseshoe Lake, will have an opportunity to head back to the polls to decide a winner for the Quorum Court Justice of the Peace position in District 7. The runoff election is scheduled for Tuesday, March 22. The two run-off candidates for the JP 7 position are Ronald Marconi and Kyle K Watkins. On election night, March 1, Watkins outpolled the incumbent Marconi, 128-127, with third candidate John Moore receiving 60 votes. Moore will be off the ballot for the runoff. Election Day voting hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The results will be counted at the Election Commission Office, located in the County Annex Building next to the County Courthouse in Marion, starting at 7:30 p.m. Additionally, there will be a week of early voting. Early voting begins today, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Crittenden County Courthouse, and continues daily through Monday, March 21. The polling sites which will be open for this election on Election Day are as follows: Anthonyville Baptist Church, 9161 Hwy. 147 S., Anthonyville; Bond’s Marine, 15263 Hwy. 147, Horseshoe Lake; Eugene Woods Civic Center, 228 Polk Ave., West Memphis; Edmondson City Hall, 61 Waterford St., Edmondson; Horseshoe Lake City Hall, 174 Highland Dr., Horseshoe Lake; West Memphis High School Arena, 501 W. Broadway, West Memphis.

WM Easter Weekend trash collection schedule

From Rhonda Standridge City of West Memphis

The City of West Memphis has released its modified sanitation pick-up schedule for the upcoming Easter holiday weekend. The city will be observing the Good Friday holiday on Friday, March 25. To accommodate the holiday, garbage collection service will be changed that week as follows: Regular Monday and Tuesday customers will be serviced on Monday, March 21. Regular Wednesday customers will be serviced on Tuesday, March 22.  Regular Thursday customers will be serviced on Wednesday, March 23. Regular Friday customers will be serviced on Thursday, March 24.   No service on Friday, March 25. The regular collection schedule will resume on Monday, March 28.

Marion Chamber hosts recycling expert at quarterly luncheon

Curran: ‘There are more markets now than I have ever seen’

By Mark Randall news@theeveningtimes.com

Before Virco Manufacturing started a recycling program, they were sending 245 cubic yards a day of waste to the landfill. That was about five trips to the landfill every day. In 1989 — long before recycling was cool — the company decided to start looking at ways to reduce their waste stream and implemented a recycling program. “When we first started a waste control program, we were out of control,” said Don Curran, facilities manager at Virco, a school furniture manufacturer located in Conway. “But recycling is like those guys on TV who hunt for gold up in Alaska. You’re going to find a little bit. But one of these days you’re going to find that big nugget and it is going to turn in to something of value. And people will take notice.” Curran was the guest speaker at the Marion Chamber of Commerce Quarterly luncheon, and spoke about the Arkansas Recycling Coalition, and his company’s successful efforts to be better stewards of the environment. ARC is a non-profit educational coalition of individual, community, government, nonprofit, and private enterprise members who share ideas and technical knowledge to encourage recycling and waste reduction. “When we first started we didn’t know at that time if there were even markets,” Curran said. “We just figured we had to do something.” Virco formed a committee, mapped out a strategy, got ideas from employees, identified all recyclable materials on hand at the plant, and started a pilot program to see how much waste they could eliminate. It started with simple Dumpster diving. By the time they went through the Dumpster, the pile on the outside of materials that could be reused or recycled was bigger than the trash side inside. Virco eventually even purchased a cardboard baler and its own roll off truck, which cut down on trips to the landfill. “I remember cringing when we went $3,000 in debt to buy a baler,” Curran said. “Now you can’t touch one for under $15,000 today.” Curran said unlike today, there weren’t very many markets for recycled materials when they first started and they were glad to take what they could get for them. “The market was just very poor,” Curran said. “If we could get a penny a pound, we were going to take it because that is better than nothing. Now, we can get the price we want for our recyclables. There are more markets now than I have ever seen.” Virco has since become an industry leader in recycling and has been recognized with numerous state and national awards including the Keep America Beautiful Award, and recognition from the National Recycling Coalition, the Discovery Channel, and even the Sierra Club. “Was it worth it? Yes. Would Virco do it again? Yes. Will Virco continue to be environmentally focused? Yes,” Curran said. “It is a part of business now. You can not put a price on this. We are in the school furniture business. If you build school furniture and make a bunch of waste doing it, what are you teaching those kids? I don’t think there is anything that man has made that you can’t recycle somewhere or another.” Mary Singer, a member of ARC and owner of Funkee’s Cafe, which hosted the event, said she is very conscious about recycling at her business. She has a Dumpster for cardboard behind the business and takes home the empty plastic milk jugs to Memphis to be recycled. “I don’t want our gelatto milk containers to be in the waste stream,” Singer said. “Everything we do here I try and recycle. And I try and buy as many recycled materials as can here. We need to be doing more in eastern Arkansas. So hopefully there is something you can do or products that you are using that can be recycled. We’ve got to start doing things differently.”

WM Airport looking to the future

Public weighs in on 20-Year Plan

By John Rech news@theeveningtimes.com

Thirty curious folks gathered at West Memphis City Hall Tuesday evening to participate with the municipal airport in developing a new 20-Year Plan. The airport recently concluded all the projects on its last plan and requirements call for a renewed look into the future. Airport commissioners, and FAA official, airport engineers and citizens turned out for the session. Some citizens thought they’d hear about the latest plans from the airport but the shoe was put on the other foot as Airport manager Lynda Avery and engineers with ETI asked about the hopes and concerns of those on hand. After covering the history of the airport and the wrap up of the last 20-Year Plan, Avery told the audience future plans were a “blank slate.” Residents in nearby neighborhoods worried about noise and traffic increases and expressed uncertainties about residential property values. The answer received was good new. “There are noise restrictions on new aircraft now,” said Avery. “So new jets are even quieter.” Asked about runway expansion and the effect on neighborhoods Avery provided a thoughtful answer. “We could only expand about 500 feet of runway toward the south, toward the railroad,” said Avery. “We could not accommodate bigger aircraft even if we were to expand that way.” In the airport presentation Avery pointed out the importance of the airport to the local community and that funds to operate and improve the airport were driven from aviation related taxes. The airport has twice been awarded Arkansas Airport of the year, both in 1998 and 2013. “We are a general aviation airport one of 13,000 in the country,” said Avery. 131 aircraft are based in West Memphis. According to facility statistics 91 percent of all operations art business flights with ground transportation to other locations at Mid-South. Jet fuel and Av-Gas sales provide an income stream. Frequent flights include air ambulances carrying patients or transplant tissue, freight and cargo services, search and rescue and military aircraft refueling. The airport served as an economic catalyst for the area as well with some big businesses settling in near the airport. “When Family Dollar located here, we were one of three very similar finalists,” said Avery. “Our airport gave us an edge because we were a reliever airport and just two miles away from their site. That is 500 jobs that came to our area.”

Kingsley selected second-team All-SEC

Arkansas junior rewarded for major improvement

By David Beall UA Media Relations

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas men’s basketball standout Moses Kingsley continues to haul in postseason honors as the junior was named second team All-SEC by the Associated Press Monday afternoon. It’s the third award for Kingsley who was named second team All-SEC and to the All-Defensive Team by the league head coaches, before garnering All-District VII honors by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Kingsley has emerged as one of the most improved players in the country in 2015-16, increasing his scoring output by 12.3 points per game and his rebounds by 6.8 boards per contest. He ended the regular season as one of two players in the league and one of seven high-major players in the country averaging 16-plus points and nine-plus rebounds per game. The Abuja, Nigeria native is second in the SEC with 16 double-doubles and was the league’s only finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award as the nation’s top center. Kingsley was named the SEC Player of the Week on Feb. 1 after averaging 17.5 points and 11 rebounds per game with a pair of double-doubles in victories over No. 5 Texas A&M and Texas Tech. He is the only player in the league with multiple games of 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, and his 3.2 offensive rebounds per game lead the SEC. Kingsley is the lone player in the conference to rank in the top five in rebounds, field goal percentage and blocked shots. For more information on Arkansas men’s basketball, follow @RazorbackMBB on Twitter.