On today's show, we find out why school districts across Arkansas are choosing to go solar and how the state has made it easier for them to do so. Plus, we speak with writer Steve Wiegenstein whose new book of short stories from the Ozarks has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award. And, we learn about a bill that proposes to make it easier to achieve a licensed professional massage therapy education.

Courtesy / Batesville School District

In 2018, the Batesville School District voted to work with Entegrity Partners to go solar to make room in its budget for salary increases for teachers. Now, Entegrity is working with 20 other school districts to harness the power of the sun to save money. Aside from becoming more affordable overall, Arkansas laws like the Solar Access Act of 2019, have made it more economically feasible for public entities like school districts to make the switch to solar power.

Courtesy / Cornerpost Press

Steve Wiegenstein's collection of short stories, Scattered Lights, is one of the five finalists for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award. His stories are set in the Ozarks and feature people in circumstances often beyond their control.

Courtesy / Massage Envy

Arkansas is among the first states to strictly regulate licensed professional massage therapy education to protect public health. Over the past decade, the commercialization of massage spas, by franchises such as Massage Envy, has created high demand for skilled therapists. An Arkansas legislator is sponsoring a bill that he claims will facilitate easier access to massage therapy licensure.

Last week, Becca Martin-Brown, the feature editor for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, delivered a long list of opportunities to experience live music this spring. This week, another sign entertainment is making its way back: theater is cautiously returning to the stage.

Thanks to a recent change in Arkansas health law, the Arkansas Support Network feels it can now serve it's clients much more smoothly. In the past, someone who may be diagnosed with both an intellectual or development disability combined with a behavioral health or psychiatric disability, would only be covered for whatever was diagnosed first. Pete Hartman speaks with Dr. Syard Evans, Chief Executive Officer, with Arkansas Support Network.

On today's show, we hear from Hendrix College researchers about the value of restoring abandoned oil and natural gas extractions sites. Plus, we speak with Rev. Nancy Frausto of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach, California about whether the COVID-19 pandemic has changed houses of worship. And, we discuss COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, which remains high in Arkansas, and ways to encourage more residents to get the immunization.

Courtesy / Nature Sustainability

A team of Hendrix College professors and students have determined the value of ecological services delivered by abandoned oil and natural gas extraction sites which have been environmentally restored. The team's findings are newly published in the journal Nature Sustainability.

After more than a year of a global pandemic, will houses of worship be forever changed? Rev. Nancy Frausto, associate rector at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach, California, will deliver a pair of talks on the the subject this weekend. The virtual events are part of St. Paul's Tippy McMichael Lecture Series.

Courtesy / U.S. Secretary of Defense

On this week's edition of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal Report, we hear from Ray Hanley, the president and CEO of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, about the high rate of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Arkansas and what can be done to encourage more people to get vaccinated, especially as the reluctance was escalated by the federal government’s recommendation this week to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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Fetal tissue is uniquely valuable to medical researchers - useful for developing treatments and better understanding diseases like HIV, Parkinson's, and COVID-19.

But many anti-abortion rights groups oppose it on moral or religious grounds.

Now, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra says he's reversing several restrictions on fetal tissue research put in place during the Trump administration.

All federal prison inmates will have the opportunity to receive a vaccine by mid-May, according to the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Michael Carvajal.

Vaccines have already been made available to all federal prison staff, he said, speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing Thursday.

More than 40,000 people incarcerated in federal prisons have received both doses of the vaccine, the bureau says, which is about a third of the people in BOP custody. Nearly 18,000 federal prison staff have been fully vaccinated.

Liberty University is suing former president Jerry Falwell Jr. for millions of dollars, accusing him of withholding damaging personal information from school officials while negotiating a lucrative employment agreement for himself, among other allegations.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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