The Daily Press The Saline Courier | AP iAtom feed Copyright The Daily Press 2014-07-11T13:06:32-04:00 industry seeks to create right to farm2014-07-11T13:06:32-04:002014-07-11T13:05:59-04:00The Saline CourierSome powerful agriculture interests want to declare farming a right at the state level as part of a wider campaign to fortify the ag industry against crusades by animal-welfare activists and opponents of genetically modified crops.The emerging battle could have lasting repercussions for the nation's food supply and for the millions of people worldwide who depend on U.S. agricultural exports. It's also possible that the right-to-farm idea could sputter as a merely symbolic gesture that carries little practical effect beyond driving up voter turnout in local elections."A couple of years from now, we might say this was the beginning of the trend," said Rusty Rumley, a senior staff attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. But "we really don't even know what they're going to mean."Animal advocates and other groups are increasingly urging consumers, grocers and restaurants to pay as much attention to how their food is raised as to how it tastes. Their goals include trying to curtail what they consider cruel methods of raising livestock and unsafe ways of growing food.Those efforts are helping to fuel the right-to-farm movement in the Midwest, where the right has already won approval in North Dakota and Indiana. It goes next to Missouri voters in an Aug. 5 election. Similar measures passed both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature earlier this year before dying in a conference committee. And they could soon spread elsewhere.The uncertainty surrounding the proposals stems from the vague wording of the measures, which have yet to be tested in court.Missouri's proposed constitutional amendment asks voters whether the right "to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed."Indiana's new measure — which was written into state law but not enshrined in the constitution— protects the rights of farmers to use "generally accepted" practices, including "the use of ever-changing technology." The North Dakota measure prohibits any law that "abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices."Supporters hope the wording provides a legal shield against initiatives that would restrict particular farming methods, such as those modeled after a California law setting minimum cage space for hens or policies in Florida and Ohio that bar tight pens for pregnant pigs. Others hope to pre-empt any proposals to ban genetically modified crops similar to ones recently passed in southern Oregon."Agriculture's had a lot folks that's been trying to come down on our farms and tell us what we can and cannot do," said Neal Bredehoeft, a corn and soybean farmer who supports the Missouri measure. He added: "This gives us a little bit of protection."Bredehoeft gave $100 to the political group backing Missouri's ballot measure. His money is being mixed with five-figure checks from the state corn and pork associations, the Farm Bureau and businesses with strong financial stakes in rural America, such as electric cooperatives and a farm-credit organization.They're preparing for an advertising blitz against a coalition that includes the Humane Society of the United States, the Sierra Club and rural groups that have battled for decades against corporate hog and poultry operations.Opponents fear the right-to-farm measures could be cited by corporate farms to escape unwanted regulations against pollution and unsanitary conditions."This is a fight in each state," said Joe Maxwell, a former Missouri lieutenant governor who is the Humane Society's vice president of outreach and engagement.Stopping the proposals at the ballot box "sends a message: Don't waste your money," he added.North Dakota voters approved their right-to-farm measure by a two-thirds vote in 2012 after a relatively low-profile campaign in which the North Dakota Farm Bureau spent $158,000 promoting the measure. Opponents spent little.The state Farm Bureau pursued the initiative after the Humane Society of the United States unsuccessfully pushed a measure two years earlier to abolish fenced hunting preserves in North Dakota.Soon, agriculture leaders from Iowa to Idaho and numerous other places were inquiring about how to do something similar, said Jeffrey Missling, executive vice president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau.A year ago, the North Dakota measure was a topic for discussion as legislative agriculture chairmen from across the U.S. gathered for a conference in Vancouver, Canada. The event by the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Association was financed by dozens of agriculture businesses, including Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill, DuPont Pioneer, Deere The outcome of Missouri's vote could influence what happens next in the right-to-farm movement."There's a lot of rural people who would like to see it be a trend," said Carolyn Orr, executive secretary of the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Association.Benton, ARAssociated PressAgriculture industry seeks to create right to farmNo source Brooks going digital, announces new album, tour2014-07-11T13:03:15-04:002014-07-11T13:02:09-04:00The Saline CourierBrooks, one of the last holdout big-name musicians still refusing to put his music on iTunes, said Thursday he will make his back catalog of hits and his new music available for download, but only through his own website. He said the digital downloads of previous music would be available in a few weeks to tide fans over until a new album comes out later this year.The 52-year-old country star remains one of music's top-selling artists, with 134 million albums sold, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. He has said in the past that he had no animosity toward Apple, but disagreed with its approach to selling music.Other performers who refused to join iTunes but later reached deals include AC/DC, Radiohead and Led Zeppelin. ITunes was launched in 2001."So, we'll be doing our digital the best way we can, the only way we know how, because we are the only ones who kind of play our own way," Brooks said at a press conference in Nashville.He also announced a new deal with the Sony Music label, which will put out an album of his first new music since 2001. Brooks said it would likely be issued sometime around Black Friday. The first city on his tour will be announced on July 15, according to Sony.Brooks entered semi-retirement in 2001 near the height of his popularity to be with his three daughters and his wife, Trisha Yearwood. Since then he has performed an extended run in Las Vegas and done a few charity shows.The Country Music Hall of Fame member said he's grateful for his fans sticking around during his time off from the road."A second half of a career isn't granted," Brooks said. "I'm not saying that's what I have now, but you have given me a shot to have it."But he acknowledged a rocky start to his return to the stage. A series of Ireland shows later this month billed as his "Comeback Special" was cancelled after a battle between venue owners and local residents.Brooks had expanded the number of shows he was to play at Croke Park stadium in Dublin because of demand, but the Dublin City Council last week refused to grant permission for five shows, saying they would cause "an unacceptable level of disruption" for residents and businesses.Brooks said tickets had already been sold for five shows and if he couldn't play them all, he would play none.Benton, ARAssociated PressGarth Brooks going digital, announces new album, tourNo source lauded for patient safety; judge presents award2014-07-11T12:59:22-04:002014-07-11T12:59:22-04:00The Saline CourierFor the second consecutive year, the hospital received the Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award.The distinction places Saline Memorial Hospital within the top 5 percent of all hospitals for its excellent performance in safeguarding patients from serious, potentially preventable complications during their hospital stays, according to Healthgrades, the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals.Fite presented the award to Bob Trautman, chief executive officer of the hospital, while SMH employees and community leaders observed. Trautman then in turn presented the award to Debbie Burrow, the hospital's chief nursing officer.The judge congratulated the hospital staff for the honor, saying it is "a great comfort when you're a patient to look up and see, friendly, hometown people providing your care."He commended the employees for the excellent care they provide.When compared to hospitals performing in the bottom 5 percent for patient safety, patients treated in Healthgrades 2014 Patient Safety Excellence Award recipient hospitals, on average, reportedly were: •73 percent less likely to experience pressure sores or bed sores acquired in the hospital compared to hospitals ranked in the bottom 5 percent in the nation.•72 percent less likely to experience a hip fracture following surgery compared to hospitals ranked in the bottom 5 percent in the nation.•67 percent less likely to experience catheter-related bloodstream infections acquired at the hospital compared to hospitals ranked in the bottom 5 percent in the nation.“Our team is dedicated to personalized patient care and continuous quality improvement,” Trautman said, “and this award is just one example of that. “This is great news for our hospital but even better news for our patients and community that we serve," he added.Evan Marks, an executive vice president of Healthgrades, noted that the agency is dedicated to "providing quality information that helps consumers make decisions based on objective data leading to the best care for themselves and their families."“Consumers can rest assured that a hospital recognized with a Healthgrades 2014 Patient Safety Excellence Award has demonstrated an established commitment to patient safety," he added.SMH officials reported that a number of patient safety initiatives have been implemented during the past few years. These include the following:•In 2011, SMH implemented a Patient/Family activated Rapid Response Team.  If a family or patient feels something isn’t quite right about the patient's health, the Rapid Response Team (ICU Nurse, Respiratory Therapist and Physician) can be contacted. This team immediately responds to the patient's bedside to assess the situation. •The SMH leadership team rounds on all new patients daily. This helps to identify patient safety issues and or concerns in real-time. Nurse managers and clinical coordinators also visit patients preoperatively to identify safety concerns or other issues prior to surgery. •All shift change reports are done in the patient's room for continuity of care and to involve the patient and the family. This provides an opportunity for patients to be involved in the plan of care and to address any safety concerns before the next nurse takes over. “Safety doesn’t’ have a beginning or an end,” said Debbie Burrow, SMH chief nursing officer. “It’s a continuous process."It’s everybody’s responsibility to strive to maintain a safe environment for our patients," Burrow said. "I’m proud of our team and the level of care provided at our hospital.”Healthgrades reported that during the 2014 study period (2010-2012), Patient Safety Excellence Award hospitals showed better than expected performance in providing safety for patients in the Medicare population, as measured by objective outcomes (risk-adjusted patient safety indicator rates) across 13 of the 14 patient safety indicators defined by the agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.If all hospitals performed at the same level as award recipients, 266,813 patient safety events among Medicare patients in U.S. hospitals potentially could have been avoided, officials reported.Saline Memorial is a full-service, 167-bed nonprofit community hospital that has served Saline County and the surrounding areas for more than 58 years.Located in Benton, the facility provides a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services, including but not limited to, cardiology, women’s services, bariatric surgery, pediatrics, orthopedics, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, adult and geriatric psychiatry, hospice and home health, sleep disorders and wound care.Although the main campus is in Benton, SMH also manages a general surgery clinic, internal medicine/after-hours clinic and two women’s clinics located throughout the county. For more information, visit, ARLynda HollenbeckSMH lauded for patient safety; judge presents awardNo source charged with burglary for break-in at local church2014-07-11T12:56:44-04:002014-07-11T12:56:44-04:00The Saline CourierMichael Lyn Jones, 46, is charged with commercial burglary and breaking or entering. Saline County deputies received a report of the break-in at the church via a security system. When an officer arrived at the scene, he observed a man, later identified as Jones, climbing out a broken window of the church, said Lt. Scott Courtney, spokesperson for the Saline County Sheriff's Office.Jones did not take anything from the church, Courtney said. According to the incident report, Jones told the investigating officer, "I messed up, Officer. I should not have messed with the Lord's house." Jones also told officers that he recently was released from prison for prior burglary charges and was currently staying in housing provided by the American Red Cross, according to the incident report. Benton, ARSarah PerryMan charged with burglary for break-in at local churchNo source board filings end; 2 districts to have races2014-07-10T12:13:00-04:002014-07-10T12:13:00-04:00The Saline CourierIn Bauxite, Frank Torres is seeking another term, but he is being challenged by Ryan Jacks.In the Harmony Grove district, Andy Kelloms and Jordan Abels are seeking the position Kelloms now holds.Jackie Sasfai will become the new member on the Benton board since she was the only candidate to file for the open position. The seat currently is held by Brad Bohannan, who did not seek re-election.In Bryant, Joe Wishard is the only candidate who filed. With that situation, he will continue to serve in the Zone 1 seat he currently holds.Because there are no challenged races in Benton and Bryant, neither will appear on the election ballot.None of the districts is seeking a change in millage.The annual school election is scheduled Sept. 16. If a runoff election had been needed, it would have taken place Oct. 7. However, that will not be necessary since no race drew more than two candidates.In the unlikely event that a tie should occur in Bauxite or Harmony Grove, the winner would be determined by a coin toss or by drawing straws, Curtis said.Benton, ARLynda HollenbeckSchool board filings end; 2 districts to have racesNo source offered in death of endangered terns2014-07-10T12:10:25-04:002014-07-10T12:10:25-04:00The Saline CourierThe endangered birds are protected by federal and state endangered species regulations. They are found anywhere along the Arkansas River, from the Oklahoma state line to the Mississippi River. Their main nesting area is a section of the river from Clarksville downstream to Pine Bluff.The dead birds were found late last month and several spent shotgun shells also were discovered on the island. In addition to the dead terns, egg shell fragments also were found.  Earlier in June, researchers found more than 50 adult terns and two active nests on the island. Researchers believe the birds were beginning re-nesting activities following a flood on June 12.The terns are protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Penalties can range from fines up to $100,000 and up to a year in prison, or both. Civil penalties up to $25,000 per violation also can be assessed.Benton, ARAssociated PressReward offered in death of endangered ternsNo source petition filed at clerk's office: alcohol push close to being on ballot2014-07-10T12:08:40-04:002014-07-10T12:03:21-04:00The Saline CourierSaline County Clerk Doug Curtis said 2,888 pages of signatures were turned in to his office at approximately 4:10 p.m. Monday.In the next 10 days, Curtis' staff will be reviewing the signatures to validate that they are from registered voters. According to state law, in order to place the issue on the general election ballot, at least 38 percent of registered voters in the county must sign a petition saying they want to bring the issue to a vote. It would take 25,600 valid signatures to meet this percentage.Spokespersons for Our Community, Our Dollars stated that 25,917 signatures were filed in Saline County. Curtis noted that employees in his office began verifying the signatures on Tuesday and went through approximately 2,200."Being the first day, it took a little while to get started," he said. "We have hired extra part-time help to get this done within the 10 days required by law."Curtis said he will not release any other numbers until the process is completed.A similar petition was filed in Craighead County and another is expected to be filed in Faulkner County closer to the Aug. 5 final deadline. Our Community, Our Dollars representatives have said they will continue to collect signatures in all three counties. Marshall Ney, spokesperson for Our Community, Our Dollars, said, "Our primary objective with this campaign is to allow the residents of these counties to be formally heard on an issue that hasn't been voted on in decades. Much has changed over time in these counties and their individual communities, including population growth and economic development."We would like to see these counties have the opportunity to keep more tax revenue in their communities," he said. "The more tax revenue they ultimately receive, the better equipped they are to fund key services and amenities, such as police, fire, EMS, roads and parks."A recent economic impact study conducted by the University of Arkansas' Center for Business and Economic Research estimates that, based on potential sales figures from 2013, a wet Saline County could have seen $34.2 million in sales with related tax revenues. The overall estimated potential economic benefit to Saline County on an annual basis is $12.5 million. Benton, ARBobbye PykeWet/dry petition filed at clerk's office: alcohol push close to being on ballotNo source alcohol issue gains steam2014-07-10T11:57:29-04:002014-07-10T11:57:29-04:00The Saline CourierThe amendment needed 78,133 signatures to appear on the November general election ballot.The initial count performed by the Secretary of State's office reportedly exceeded 84,000. The office now will move to the signature verification process to determine how many of the signatures are those of registered voters. Meeting the initial count qualifies the petition sponsor to an additional 30 days to collect signatures, allowing time to compensate for any that may be disqualified during the signature verification process. Benton, ARBobbye PykeStatewide alcohol issue gains steamNo source urgently asks for $3.7 billion for border crisis 2014-07-09T13:37:42-04:002014-07-09T13:37:42-04:00The Saline CourierObama himself was flying to Texas on Wednesday, a trip designed mostly for political fundraising for Democrats but now including a meeting on immigration with Gov. Rick Perry and religious and local leaders in Dallas. He rejected pressure from the Republican governor to visit the border for a firsthand look.In Washington, Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill seemed open to approving the emergency money, which would go toward hiring more immigration judges and asylum officers, building more detention facilities, boosting deterrence and enforcement and increasing surveillance along the border with Mexico. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate would act on it this month.Obama said in a formal letter of request that the money was needed to "address this urgent humanitarian situation."But Senate Democrats voiced skepticism about other changes the White House has said it wants that would send the minors back to Central America more quickly, partly by limiting their existing rights to court hearings. Those proposals, which are not part of Tuesday's request, have infuriated immigrant advocates who say they would result in harsher treatment of kids and eliminate their legal protections."Everybody's very concerned. I'm one of them," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. "I just want to make sure that at the end of the day we're being fair, humane and doing this in an orderly way."At the same time Republicans criticized Obama for stepping back from asking for those legal changes, which the White House initially had said would come in concert with the emergency spending request. The White House now says those proposals will come later."He just decided not to do that because of the pushback he got from some in his own political base," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "We need to solve the problem, but you don't need to just ignore the cause of the current crisis. And that requires more than just appropriating $3.7 billion for additional judges and the like."The back-and-forth came as lawmakers reconvened on Capitol Hill after a weeklong July 4 recess and suggested political struggles ahead over the unfolding situation at the border. More than 50,000 young people have showed up unaccompanied since last fall, many fleeing oppressive violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, but also drawn by rumors that once in the U.S. they would be allowed to stay.Lawmakers are now beginning to confront the full dimensions of the crisis, and their responsibility to act, with midterm elections around the corner. It all comes with comprehensive immigration legislation dead in Congress for the year and Obama preparing to take steps by his executive authority to change the nation's faulty immigration system where he can — plans that could be complicated by the border crisis.Cornyn and other Republicans kept up their criticism of Obama's decision not to include a border visit in his Texas trip, but the White House held firm, instead adding the meeting on immigration to Obama's schedule in Dallas. Perry announced plans to attend.As for the spending request, some Republicans said they would have to review the details. "We're going to take a look at it. This is clearly a huge crisis," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, a Republican, called the situation on the border "extremely dire" and said that additional funding clearly would be needed to care for the children, enforce the law and secure the border. "Our committee will focus on providing what is necessary," said Rogers.Immigrant advocacy groups, however, worried the package placed too much emphasis on enforcement and on deporting minors."This package was sent up with this very strong message that we keep hearing from the White House, which is detain, deter and deport," said Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, an advocacy group for immigrant children. "The issue is much more complicated than that."Meanwhile officials with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said they want many of the Central Americans to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict, a designation that could increase pressure on the U.S. to accept tens of thousands currently ineligible for asylum.Asked about that, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said individuals coming from Central America are already entitled to due process.But White House officials are seeking to change a 2008 law signed by President George W. Bush that guarantees immigration hearings to minors who arrive in this country from noncontiguous countries — anywhere other than Mexico or Canada. The law was pushed to combat sex trafficking and give young people new protections.In the current crisis, it's resulted in children from Central American countries being released to family members or into foster care while they face long waits for court hearings they may never attend.Kids from Mexico, by contrast, are screened by Border Patrol agents who can decide to send them back unless determining they have a fear of return that merits additional screening. The administration wants to be able to treat Central American children in much that same way, though officials say they want to retain the children's right to due process.Benton, ARAssociated PressObama urgently asks for $3.7 billion for border crisis No source campaign edits tornado video after complaint2014-07-09T13:35:47-04:002014-07-09T13:35:47-04:00The Saline CourierDoug Boydston complained about the video featuring footage shot on the Mayflower RV property that was destroyed by a deadly tornado in April, saying he wasn't told it would be used as a political attack against Republican challenger and U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton. Pryor's campaign denied that it misled Boydston.Boydston's complaints were aired in a letter that was released by Cotton's campaign."You obtained this footage under false pretenses and I demand that you remove these videos and immediately stop all use of the raw footage," Boydston said in the letter to Pryor's campaign.Boydston said he had agreed to allow Pryor's campaign to shoot video on the property last month, but said he was under the impression it was to draw attention to cleanup efforts in Mayflower. Pryor's campaign last week posted the video, which features interviews with Mayor Randy Holland and other community leaders criticizing Cotton over his past votes against disaster aid and accusing him of being absent from Mayflower and Vilonia in the tornado's aftermath. The April 27 storms that hit Arkansas are blamed for 16 deaths and caused millions of dollars in damage."I didn't think it was going to be a political ad," Boydston said.Pryor's campaign said it was upfront with Boydston about the reason for shooting the video, but said it would remove any footage of his property from the ad."Out of respect for this gentleman's wishes that were expressed today for the first time we will edit out anything that was shot on his property," said Erik Dorey, Pryor's deputy campaign manager.Disaster relief has been a major issue in the Senate race, with Pryor and Democrats criticizing Cotton for opposing relief for the northeast states hit by Superstorm Sandy. Cotton on Tuesday launched a six-figure television ad buy featuring County Sheriff Andy Shock defending Cotton's record on disaster relief, citing votes he's cast for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's funding.Cotton's campaign criticized Pryor over the online videos, while Dorey accused Cotton of trying to distract voters from his record.The increasingly expensive race in Arkansas is closely watched because Republicans need a net gain of six seats in November to capture majority control of the Senate. Top-tier GOP targets are the Republican-leaning Southern states — Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — where Obama is unpopular and incumbent Democratic senators are struggling to hold onto their seats.The tussle over the footage came as Pryor's campaign continued criticizing Cotton for saying the Democratic senator believes "faith is something that only happens at 11 o'clock on Sunday mornings." Pryor launched a six-figure television ad buy focusing on the comments, which Pryor has called a personal attack on his faith.Benton, ARAssociated PressPryor campaign edits tornado video after complaintNo source