Latest Arkansas news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. CDT


Tornado tears through shopping area in Arkansas; 3 injured

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Officials in Arkansas say a tornado ripped through northeast Arkansas and hurt three people in the college town of Jonesboro. Local media coverage showed buildings missing walls and with roofs ripped away Saturday. Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that three people hurt were hospitalized and that first responders were searching the area. Forecasters with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, warned that a severe weather outbreak was possible for much of the central U.S. Forecasters said tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds are possible, particularly in parts of Illinois and Iowa.


Arkansas creates COVID-19 fund as 2 more die from virus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a measure creating a $173 million fund to combat the coronavirus and to address a budget shortfall the state faces because of the outbreak. Hutchinson signed the legislation early Saturday moving the state's surplus into the newly created “COVID-19 Rainy Day Fund." The governor can access the fund with the approval of legislative leaders. Hutchinson signed the legislation shortly after the House and Senate approved it in a midnight meeting. Hutchinson on Saturday afternoon announced the number of coronavirus cases had increased to at least 404, with two additional deaths.


Member of white supremacist gang in Arkansas sentenced

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas man has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for drug charges as part of a federal operation targeting white supremacist groups. A federal judge on Monday sentenced 34-year-old Joseph Pridmore to 150 months in prison and five years supervised release. Pridmore pleaded guilty in October to distributing methamphetamine. Prosecutors say Pridmore is a self-confessed member of the White Aryan Resistance. He was among dozens of white supremacist group members charged by federal prosecutors and the third sentenced in the operation.


Judge upholds blocking Arkansas from restricting panhandlers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that panhandlers in Arkansas are allowed to ask for money without being arrested, upending the state's 2017 anti-loitering law that opponents say unfairly targets panhandlers. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson on Thursday made permanent an order he issued in September 2017 that found the amended measure unconstitutional. The law expanded the definition of loitering to include anyone asking for charity or a gift in a harassing or threatening manner that’s likely to cause others alarm or create a traffic hazard. A federal appeals court last week returned the case to Wilson's jurisdiction.


Lawsuit challenges state limits on Little Rock School Board

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A lawsuit has been filed challenging the limits Arkansas placed on the Little Rock School District when it returns to local control. The lawsuit was filed Friday by a Little Rock teacher, a parent and a member of the school board that was dissolved when the state took over the district administration in 2015. The state board last year voted to return district control to a nine-member board to be elected in November. But that plan includes some limits on the local board's powers. The lawsuit contends that the state overstepped its authority with those limits.


Prostitution camp provided women in human smuggling case

PHOENIX (AP) — A co-defendant in a human smuggling operation told police that a prostitution camp in the Marshall Islands provided many of the pregnant women involved in former Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen's allegedly illegal adoption business. The Arizona Capitol Times reported that co-defendant Lynwood Jennet told police that majority of the women were from a prostitution camp. Authorities say Jennet is accused of serving as his fixer in the Marshall Islands. Petersen has pleaded not guilty to the charges in Arizona. His lawyer Kurt Altman told The Associated Press that any implication that Petersen knew of or was involved in a prostitution camp is absurd.