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Public comment on establishing broadband for underserved homes


Establishing broadband across Arkansas

The Arkansas State Broadband Office is accepting public comment on volume one of the state’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment, or BEAD, Initial Proposal.  The comments will help inform how the state plans to use $1 billion to provide affordable broadband internet to unserved and underserved homes. Public comments will be accepted through Nov. 18.  More details can be found at their website.

Another estimate for lower heating costs

A day after Black Hills Energy announced it expected winter heating costs to be lower this year, Summit Utilities issued a similar statement. Yesterday, Summit estimated the cost of natural gas will be nearly 35% lower than last winter.

Attempting to increase penalty for assaulting public transit drivers

Safety on public transit was a major topic of discussion in the Arkansas Legislature yesterday. Directors of transit organizations in the state shared stories of assaults against drivers at a legislative committee hearing. The conversation comes out of a proposed bill to create harsher penalties for assaulting drivers. Joel Gardner is Executive Director of the Ozark Regional Transit Authority. He detailed one incident that happened after a passenger was asked to leave. 

One of our drivers told the passenger to stop swearing, 'Stop using that language. I'm going to pull over. This is where you're getting off the bus,' because there were small children on the bus, and the driver did not want that individual on the bus, using the language on his phone, talking to his best buddy, or whatever," Gardner said. "And as the guy walked off the bus, he sucker punched him in the back of the head."

Gardner said the current laws “do not have enough teeth.” Some legislators seemed confused by the proposed bill. Republican Rep. David Ray pointed out the state already has aggravated assault laws that criminalize abusing drivers. 

"From a philosophical standpoint," Ray said, "why do we need an enhanced penalty for assaults against your employees as opposed to just any employee who finds himself at heightened risk for assault, maybe a bank employee, maybe a convenience store employee, or fast food worker?"

The committee passed several other interim study proposals about sex crimes and minors caught using a gun.

Nov. 1: "John H. Johnson Day"

A statue of an Arkansas-born influential publisher now stands at Delta Heritage Trail State Park in Arkansas City. The image of John H. Johnson was unveiled yesterday. Johnson was born in Arkansas City and published Ebony and Jet magazines. During the 2019 session of the Arkansas General Assembly, legislators voted to make Nov. 1 John H. Johnson Day in Arkansas to honor the accomplishments of the legendary publisher and businessman.

What Happens Next, shot at XNA, opens tomorrow

A movie filmed in northwest Arkansas will open in theaters across the country tomorrow.  What Happens Next stars Meg Ryan and David Duchovny and was directed by Ryan.  Set in an airport, much of the film was shot at XNA.  In an interview this week with NBC’s Seth Myers, Duchcovny said much of the shooting took place during slow hours at the airport, but some filming had to be done during peak hours.

"And I don't know if you know this, but it's illegal to tell anybody to do anything at an airport," Duchovny said. "I've never tried to do it before, but like, you can't say, 'Seth can just sit there for a moment while David makes this scene,' and you're like, 'No, I gotta get to my gate.'"

"Interesting," Myers said. "So there's no crowd control?"

"Zero," Duchovny said.

"And if I want to come over and be like, 'I'm a big fan of both of you,' while you're filming," Myers said.

"I'm familiar because that happened," Duchovny said. "We would do these— There's like a long walk-and-talk scene in this movie, like eight pages, and we would just be strolling through the airport. And you know, people would recognize Meg, and they recognize me, and I remember after like seven pages, and we're just like high wire acting like, 'We did seven pages, we're there. We're finally at a stopping point.' And this guy goes, 'Hey, it's Meg Ryan.' And I was like, in the middle of my line, I just said, 'That's not helpful.'"

In a separate interview, Meg Ryan told Meyers travelers using XNA often just walked past the makeshift movie set.

"And there were real travelers who really didn't care at all about us," Ryan said. "Big apparatus, all these lights, all this commotion, and they didn't really care much, but it made us have to be on our toes. We did eight-minute-long takes, which, as a movie actor, you just don't do that. So the great thing about shooting in an airport at night is, well, eventually, no one's there. So we just felt like we had to place for ourselves. We made a movie kind of in secret."

What Happens Next opens in wide release tomorrow.

Razorback Volleyball returns to Barnhill Arena

The 8th-ranked Arkansas volleyball team will be back home in Barnhill Arena Sunday after being swept by Georgia in Athens last night. It’s just the second time this season the Razorbacks have been swept.

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Timothy Dennis is KUAF's strategic technical planner and producer for<i> Ozarks at Large.</i>
Kyle Kellams is KUAF's news director and host of Ozarks at Large.
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