On today's show, we find out about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on local criminal justice systems after nearly a year of jury trial suspension. Plus, we speak with Michael Tilley of Talk Business and Politics about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the ranks of the Fort Smith Fire Department. And, we have details on a new medical school that will be going up in Bentonville thanks to a Walmart heiress.

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There have been very few Circuit Court jury trials held across Arkansas in the last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there have been brief windows of time when those types of in person proceeding were allowed, the Arkansas Supreme Court has suspended all felony jury trials through the end of April. The year long delay is having an impact on everyone involved in local judicial systems.

Michael Tilley, with our partner Talk Business and Politics, discusses an apparent reluctance of many firefighters in Fort Smith to accept a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, water bill adjustments following last month's winter storms, and the future of the former Fianna Hills Country Club and golf course.

Courtesy / The Momentary

Diana Al-Hadid: Ash in the Trade Winds debuts at The Momentary today. It joins two other exhibitions featuring works by Sarah Cain and Derrick Adams that opened in February. Admission is free to all three exhibits. Tickets are not required, but The Momentary is operating at reduced capacity.

Courtesy / TheatreSquared

Like so many other arts organizations, TheatreSquared has had to adapt to operating during a pandemic. Becca Martin-Brown, the features editor with the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, tells us about how the new T2 season combines live and virtual theater.

Courtesy / Whole Health Institute

Walmart heiress, Alice Walton, who established the Whole Health Institute in Bentonville in 2020, plans to open an independent non-profit degree-granting medical school in Northwest Arkansas, with a whole health emphasis.

Arkansas Archeology Month is an annual event designed to broaden the public’s interest and appreciation for Arkansas’s archeological resources and to encourage the public’s participation in conservation and preservation efforts. This year's theme is Research Across the State. 

On today's show, we hear from utility company customers and representatives as they assess the impact of the back to back winter storms that slammed the state with record low temperatures and several inches of snow. Plus, after nearly a year since most Arkansas inmates have been permitted to have in person visits, we have the details on a Department of Corrections modified visitation pilot program. And, we find out about the expansion that's taking place at a Springdale-based cidery.

Courtesy / Ozarks Electric Cooperative

 

After back to back winter storms two weeks ago dropped temperatures to as much as negative 20 degrees along with several inches of snow, Arkansans are now bracing for their upcoming utility bills. Energy company representatives told lawmakers in a hearing this week that high demand and short supply dramatically drove up the price of natural gas and all modes of energy production performed less than optimally during several days of brutal weather.

It’s been nearly a year since most Arkansas inmates have been permitted to have in-person visitation. That will change this weekend, as the Department of Corrections launches a modified visitation pilot program at four facilities including the Northwest Arkansas Community Correction Center. It's the department’s second attempt at implementing the program, which it suspended Dec. 30 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

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The state of California updated its plans Friday to allow outdoor events at stadiums, ballparks and theme parks to begin to reopen April 1.

Sports facilities and amusement parks will reopen at reduced capacity, contingent on county-level infection rates. The California Department of Public Health released its Blueprint for a Safer Economy guidelines last August, which has dictated the opening and closing of businesses at the county level ever since.

The artist Grimes recently sold a bunch of NFTs for nearly $6 million. An NFT of LeBron James making a historic dunk for the Lakers garnered more than $200,000. The band Kings of Leon is releasing its new album in the form of an NFT.

This weekend marks 56 years since civil rights marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers on a day now known as "Bloody Sunday." The annual commemoration will be different this year — there's a pandemic, a new president and perhaps most notably, one missing voice.

On March, 7 1965, the late John Lewis and other civil rights leaders led a march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate for voting rights. While crossing onto the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the peaceful demonstrators, including Lewis, were brutally beaten by police.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The commemoration of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Ala., will be different this year. The pandemic means there won't be marching crowds this weekend. The church service will be virtual.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And notably, a voice will be missing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN LEWIS: We're marching today to dramatize to the nation, dramatize to the world, the hundreds and thousands of Negro citizens of Alabama, but particularly here in the Black Belt area, denied the right to vote.

Twitter hasn't changed much over the years, unlike other social media companies that seem to always be rolling out new features. But recently, Twitter announced some new moves of its own.

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