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This Hour: Latest Arkansas news, sports, business and entertainment

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Arkansas military base on lockdown

JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Little Rock Air Force Base is on lockdown after reports of a suspicious individual.

Officials say the base in Jacksonville was locked down at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, and emergency personnel are on the scene. Gates allowing access to the base have been closed, and officials say people should not go to the front gate.

A base spokeswoman declined to provide further details, saying only that the lockdown was prompted by a suspicious person. More details are expected to be released later Wednesday.

The base had been conducting emergency response exercises, but officials say Wednesday's incident was not part of the drill.

Jacksonville is about 15 miles northeast of Little Rock.


Unknown substance turns Arkansas creek green

EL DORADO, Ark. (AP) - Officials are trying to identify an unknown liquid that has turned a creek in southern Arkansas bright green.

The El Dorado News-Times reports that city and Union County officials worked all day Tuesday to contain the contamination that was first reported in the early morning. They used dump trucks and front-end loaders to dam the creek with gravel.

El Dorado Utilities manager Mark Smith says the mystery liquid ran along the railroad tracks near East Main Street and flowed north into a creek toward the county fairgrounds.

He says officials have sent samples off for testing and hope to know the results by Wednesday. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality was notified.


US 67/167 reopens after downed lines close road

JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Traffic is flowing again on a busy central Arkansas highway that was closed because of downed power lines.

Arkansas State Police say a truck hit power lines at about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday on U.S. 67/167 in Pulaski County. The highway was closed in both directions between Kiehl Avenue and Interstate 440, but reopened by about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Traffic was at a standstill during the morning commute.

Entergy Arkansas reports about 500 customers without electricity.


Wage petitions need at least 15K more signatures

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas election officials say a proposal to raise the state's minimum wage needs at least 15,107 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office on Wednesday released the number of signatures the petitions needed for Give Arkansas a Raise Now to win a spot on the ballot. Martin's office on Friday told the group it needed more signatures, but did not yet have an exact figure.

The group has been given until Aug. 18 to submit additional petitions.

The proposal would gradually raise Arkansas minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017.


Mississippi County court OKs hospital tax vote

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Mississippi County residents will go to the polls in October to vote on a new half-cent sales tax to help the county hospital system.

The Blytheville Courier News reports the Mississippi County Quorum Court passed a resolution Tuesday night to support holding a vote on Oct. 14.

Justice Michael White says it's important to note that the court approving the vote does not mean it is endorsing the tax.

If approved, the tax would begin Jan. 1 and last for five years. It would net the hospital between $12 million and $15 million.

The hospital board president says the funds would be used to recruit doctors and renovate the Blytheville and Osceola facilities. The idea is to get the system in shape to be sold or leased.


Arkansas fire chief tapped as city's new mayor

HUNTINGTON, Ark. (AP) - A western Arkansas city council has chosen its fire chief to serve as mayor after its previous mayor resigned last month.

The Southwest Times Record reports 65-year-old Craig Cotner resigned in June as Huntington's mayor, citing his health.

The city council unanimously chose 47-year-old Gary Lawrence this week to be mayor. He had served as the city's fire chief. Huntington firefighter Duane Logsdon has been appointed fire chief to replace Lawrence.

The mayoral position is a four-year term and has previously paid a $14,400 yearly salary. Lawrence says he plans on officially running for the job in the Nov. 4 election.


4 airports to get more than $500k for upgrades

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Members of the state's congressional delegation have announced more than $500,000 in grants for upgrades at four airports around Arkansas.

The announcement of the Federal Aviation Administration grants was made Wednesday.

The airports receiving funding are the Dexter B. Florence Memorial Field in Arkadelphia, which will receive $150,525 to update the existing master plan and identify future airport growth and development needs.

Saline County Regional Airport in Benton will receive $51,000 to fund the design and expansion of the airport apron, which is needed to accommodate the increased use of the general aviation facilities.

Magnolia Regional Airport will receive $270,000 to support the milling and overlay of the apron.

And Ozark-Franklin Count Airport in Ozark will receive $50,000 to design and make drainage improvements that will help handle stormwater runoff.


US Mint unveils Marshals Museum coin designs

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - Officials with the U.S. Mint have unveiled the three commemorative coins that will be sold next year to raise money for a planned $50 million U.S. Marshals Museum in western Arkansas.

The coins were revealed Wednesday at the Justice Department in Washington. The coins mark the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service and go on sale next year, ahead of the planned 2017 opening of the new museum in Fort Smith.

The $5 coin memorializes marshals who have died in the line of service. The $1 coin honors the agency's frontier history, with the back of the coin showing a U.S. Marshal with a poster that says "Wanted in Ft. Smith."

The half-dollar coin focuses on the agency's diverse missions and features depictions of current and past U.S. Marshals.

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