Business Briefs for June 19, 2006

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jun. 19, 2006 12:00 am  

• Arkansas is ranked 43rd in the nation for volunteer service, according to a report by the Corporation for National & Community Service. The state-by-state study revealed that only 25.6 percent of Arkansans 16 and older volunteered between 2003 and 2005. Utah was ranked first at 48 percent, and the national average was 28.8 percent.

• Arkansas wheat farmers expect a near-record yield for 2006. Jason Kelley, wheat specialist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, estimated the 375,000-acre crop will produce a statewide average yield of 55 bushels an acre. Last year, wheat farmers averaged 56 bushels an acre and harvested 160,000 acres. The high yield is attributed to favorable conditions allowing for more planting and an early harvest.

• A hearing in the defamation suit filed by Jared Bowen against his former employer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, is set for 9 a.m. on July 5 in Benton County Circuit Court. Bowen was fired from his position as vice president of operations in April 2005 and later filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor. He accused the discount store giant of terminating him for reporting crimes committed by former vice president Tom Coughlin, who later pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return. However, in response, Wal-Mart accused Bowen of fraud and misconduct, stating that he came forward only after he knew he would be caught. Those allegations by Wal-Mart were publicly broadcast and are now at issue in Bowen's civil suit.

• Catalina Performance Accessories of Mountainburg announced on Tuesday that it will sell its assets to Littelfuse of Des Plaines, Ill., for $4.5 million in cash. Catalina, which markets and distributes the Smart Glow automotive blade product line, has annual sales of approximately $2 million. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

• The Delta Regional Authority will meet June 22 to discuss the possibility of building a four-lane highway connecting Interstate 55 at Batesville, Miss., with Interstate 40 at Brinkley. The proposed highway, which would include a new bridge over the Mississippi River at Helena, could provide traffic relief to Memphis and bring more visitors to Arkansas.

• A new study offers potential relief to the declining Sparta aquifer, a source of drinking water to about 389,000 Arkansans. A feasibility study conducted for Inter-national Paper and United Water Arkansas Incorporated found that two shallow wells tapping into an aquifer beneath the riverbed of the Arkansas River could provide about 40 million gallons of water daily to serve industry needs. International Paper currently draws about 30 million gallons of water daily from the Sparta aquifer and the Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer.

• Researchers at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville have created assemblies of nanowires that show potential in applications such as armor, flame-retardant fabric, bacteria filters, oil cracking, controlled drug release, decomposition of pollutants and chemical warfare agents. The paper-like material can be cut, bent and shaped into 3-D shapes yet is chemically inert, remains robust and can be heated up to 700 degrees Celsius. The university has applied for patent protection on the process used to produce the nanopaper and is looking for industrial partners to license and commercialize various applications of the product.

• Arkansas Federal Credit Union of Jacksonville plans to open a branch office on Little Rock Air Force Base across the street from Deer Run Golf Course and next to the base movie theater. The branch is scheduled to open in July. This will be a temporary branch until a permanent branch is built in the new mall being constructed on base, scheduled for completion in late 2007 or early 2008.

• Gov. Mike Huckabee was appointed in September 2005 to the board of a Park Avenue medical group, according to Securities & Exchange Commis-sion filings. Flagship Patient Advo-cates Group of New York, which provides members with medical information produced by top doctors and specialists from across the country, plans to go public later this month through a 125-for-one reverse stock split with Finity Holdings, a shell company whose stock has not actively traded in years.

• Russell Harrington Jr., president and CEO of Baptist Health, has been named the Sales & Marketing Executives Association of Arkansas' Top Manager of the Year. Harrington will receive the award at a 6:30-9 p.m. dinner on Sept. 19 at Embassy Suites Hotel in Little Rock. To make reservations, call the SMEA-Arkansas office at (501) 425-7781 or call Jeanie Reed at (501) 834-0511.

• Youth Home Inc. of Little Rock has received a $100,000 grant from the Roy & Christine Sturgis Charitable & Educational Trust of Dallas. This fourth grant the Sturgis Trust has awarded Youth Home since 1985 will be used to make safety and structural improvements to the residential treatment facility, Crestview House, which offers residential psychiatric treatment for emotionally troubled adolescent males. The average length of stay for a Crestview House patient is seven months.

• The Delta Center for Economic Development at Arkansas State University at Jonesboro is recruiting for Class III of the 18-month Mid-South Delta Leaders program scheduled to begin in September. MSDL is a community leadership development and enhancement program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Mid-South Delta Initiative through a partnership between Delta State University at Cleveland, Miss., Arkansas State and Grambling State University in Louisiana. It is designed to strengthen the leadership skills of persons from nonprofit, government, business, faith-based and educational organizations in the 55-county/parish Delta region of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The cost is $500, and scholarships are available. Applications, available at, are due July 21, or call Jerry Smith at (870) 680-8273.

• The North Little Rock Health Advisory Coalition, in cooperation with the North Little Rock Fire Department, Emergency Services and MEMS, received a grant from the state Department of Health & Human Services to buy automatic external defibrillators to place in city-owned facilities to help heart attack victims until emergency medical personnel can arrive. The machines are at City Hall, City Services, Heritage House, Bowker House, Willow House, Campus Towers, the North Little Rock Community Center, Hays Senior Center and the golf course at Burns Park.

• A Building Superior Supervisors session will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on June 21 at Arkansas Tech University at Russellville. The training is designed to give new and experienced midlevel managers and supervisors the management and leadership skills needed to mentor subordinates and achieve new highs in productivity. The cost is $125 or $100 a person if two or more are from same company. To register, go to

• Little Rock-based Melton Co. and Aurora Casket Co. of Aurora, Ind., have formed a partnership called Aurora Southern to sell their products and services in Louisiana. Aurora makes caskets and cremation urns, which it markets to a network of 6,000 funeral homes across the country.

• The Memphis chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth will host a Capital Connection event on June 27 at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Forty-five equity investors and other capital providers from across the country will be on hand to meet with owners and managers to discuss their investing interests and learn more about businesses in the Midsouth. For more information, visit



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