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Alma Public Library receives grant despite opposition


Court approves Alma Public Library grant

The Crawford County Quorum Court is approving a $10,000 grant for the Alma Public Library. Talk Business and Politics reportsthe approval came during a special session last night. The grant from the American Library Association had been on hold after one court member said he’d been contacted by a constituent worried the library would be beholden to a special interest group wanting certain books in the library. In reality, the grant is solely intended to replace the library’s front doors to bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The approval of the grant was passed unanimously last night.

Arkansas schools required to provide adoption awareness

A new Arkansas law requires all public schools to provide instruction on adoption awareness. Olivia Gardner, director of education policy for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, is an expert on K-12 education policy in Arkansas. 

“According to the law it’s supposed to begin with the 2023-2024 school year," Gardner said. "The curricula is supposed to be developed by the State Board of Education. I think that it'll probably start being taught probably more so in the spring just because folks still need some time to really you know iron out the kinks and the state board probably needs more time to actually develop the curriculum.”

Act 637 requires students in grades sixth and up to be taught the adoption awareness course for one hour every school year. Gardner said the law is in response to Arkansas’s abortion trigger ban declared over a year ago, immediately following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade.

“I think this was one of those bills that was an attempt by legislators to try to make things a little bit easier with with the reality of the situation that's going to happen unfortunately for the families in Arkansas -- and the reality of that is that there's going to be more babies being born in the state of Arkansas,” Gardner said.

Before the abortion ban, Arkansas’ birth rate ranked 7th in the nation. Data show more than 3,000 abortions occurred annually in Arkansas in the years preceding abortion ban. Arkansas also ranks near the bottom for child well-being, according to the annual Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “Kids Count Data Book.”

Arkansas schools are not required to teach sex education, and if offered, the coursework must stress abstinence rather than birth control.

“I do know that Arkansas remains the highest in the nation for teen birth so I will say that that remains highly concerning and I don't know that that number is likely to change because of Dobbs,” Gardner said.

The new course under Act 637 will provide instruction on private and public adoption; statistical data on abortion, adoption and childbirth, and “reasons adoption is preferable to abortion.”

Gov. Sanders approves funding for Crisis Stabilization Units

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is approving a plan for additional funding for Arkansas’ four Crisis Stabilization Units, or CSUs. According to a press release from the Department of Human Services, this plan will fund the CSU’s expenses until June 30, 2024, by directing around $1 million in Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grants to the program. DHS has asked the CSUs to submit plans for how they will enhance services and collaborate with their local communities in order to become financially independent after July 2024.

Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality hosts public hearing in Springdale

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is hosting a public hearing tomorrow afternoon in Springdale. The topic is a proposed permit to allow the spreading of industrial wastewater flocculates, biosolids and grease on pastures adjacent to Brush Creek and War Eagle River. Both streams flow into Beaver Lake, a regional drinking water supply. The hearing will take place at the Springdale Senior Activity & Wellness Center at 203 Park St.

Agencies supplying blood to hospitals are reminding people to give blood in advance of the Labor Day Weekend. Danny Cervantes, the executive director of Our Blood Institute, said a three-day weekend can affect the amount of blood available for emergencies.

This year OBI is offering incentives including a Halloween-themed, glow-in-the-dark t-shirt, free hot dogs, and, tomorrow and Friday, a chance to win 500 pounds of beef from the Beef Council. Cervantes says data shows such incentives do get more blood donations and about a quarter of donors are first-time blood givers.

But, Cervantes says, first-time donors don’t always turn into frequent donors.

Our Blood Institute has centers at 5300 South U St. in Fort Smith and 1003 West Main St. in Russellville. Information about mobile blood drives and appointments can be found on their website.

S.C. Tucker Elementary in Danville to receive safe room

The Danville School District will use money from FEMA to construct a safe room at the district’s elementary school campus.  The funds will come from the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program.  The safe room will accommodate more than 1,100 faculty, staff and students during severe weather and tornadoes.  Currently, the Danville School District has no designated protection for students and faculty during severe weather.

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Jacqueline Froelich is an investigative reporter and news producer for <i>Ozarks at Large.</i>
Kyle Kellams is KUAF's news director and host of Ozarks at Large.
Matthew Moore is senior producer for Ozarks at Large.
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