The Whispers Blog

Arkansas' breaking business news blog, with news and commentary from the Arkansas Business staff.
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Happy #ARLEGValentines Day!

It's that time of the year again. A time when Arkansas legislators, lobbyists, media and other political animals set aside their partisan differences and celebrate love. Below, a sampling of today's #ARLEGValentines, updated throughout the day.

And if this romantic day finds you in a wistful mood, you can look back on #ARLEGValentines of years past here and here.

Stone Ward's Danny Koteras Reviews Super Bowl Ads

Danny Koteras

Sure, there was a football game. But there was also a big marketing blitz playing out on TV screens across the country on Sunday.

We're talking about those 30-second gems that aired during the Super Bowl, which is likely to be the most-watched Super Bowl ever. Danny Koteras, the creative director for Little Rock advertising agency Stone Ward, watched all of Sunday's ads so you don't have to, and talked to THV 11's Ashley Blackstone about the best and worst the night had to offer.

You can click here to watch the full segment, which appeared on THV 11 This Morning.

Koteras' favorite spot? That epic Mophie ad. And the one that didn't ring his bell? That tear-jerking Budweiser puppy spot.

In case you were wondering, NBC sold out of Super Bowl ad space in the nick of time, just a few days before the big event. In 2014, Fox sold out by December 2013. But NBC charged a prettier penny for this year's 30-second clips: $4.5 million.

It's Been a Busy 4 Days at the State Insurance Commission

Arkansas Funeral Care in Jacksonville

New Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr has been a busy man since taking over the post as part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's administration.

That's included fielding a lot of calls and questions about Arkansas Funeral Care in Jacksonville.

Kerr, in a news release this afternoon, said

the Arkansas Insurance Department has fielded approximately 700 calls in just four days from consumers with concerns and questions about prepaid funeral benefits contracts they have with Arkansas Funeral Care, LLC of Jacksonville, Arkansas. Following the funeral home’s surrender of its license to the Arkansas State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors on January 23, 2015, Kerr signed an order suspending the funeral home’s permit to provide funeral services and funeral merchandise in prepaid funeral benefits contracts, often referred to as pre-need contracts or plans.

"My staff is responding to this volume of calls as quickly as possible," said Kerr. "I appreciate your patience as we go through the records we seized on Monday. The Department is taking a methodical approach to its investigation prior to the hearing which is scheduled for February 11, 2015. I am confident any consumer who calls the Department about this matter will receive a call back," Kerr stated.

Kerr said the department doesn't think any of the prepaid policies are in jeopardy. He said families with claims on or before Feb. 11 should contact the department's Prepaid Funeral Benefits staff for help in finding a substitute funeral provider.

Arkansas Business reported on Jan. 16 about a complaint filed against the funeral home by a former empoyee who alleged "blatant disregard for the dead" at the business.

The Arkansas State Board of Embalmers & Funeral Directors later voted for an emergency suspension of the funeral home's licenses and the license of its manager, LeRoy Wood, after an inspector testified that she was "taken aback" by the conditions under which bodies were being held. 

Earlier this week, the Insurance Department also suspended the funeral home’s permit to provide the pre-need contracts. And of course the lawsuit have begun.

TV News People: Don't Mess with Drew Carey on Twitter

Who knew the departure of KARK/KLRT meteorologist Greg Dee to a Cleveland TV station would raise the ire of that city's Favorite Son?

Drew Carey, the bespectled game show host and "Guy Who Used to Be on That Show With Craig Ferguson," is not amused.

First, there was this: A fake tweet from Carey, photoshopped by someone at KARK and shared on Twitter:

The tweet included the real Drew Carey's account name, which naturally caught the comedian's attention.

So soon there was this response from the real Carey. 

We won't embed Carey's tweet because, well, he uses the kind of language we'd expect from, say, Mimi Bobeck, not the host of America's Most Favorite Game Show. But the gist is this: "Don't create fake tweets from me to promote yourselves!"

As those TV news types say:

FedEx Schedules Groundbreaking for Southwest Little Rock Site

Artist’s rendering of the new FedEx Distribution Center in Little Rock.

FedEx Corp. of Memphis has scheduled a groundbreaking for its new Ground distribution facility in southwest Little Rock. The publicly traded logistics firm (NYSE: FDX) has set the event for noon on Feb. 19 at a 44-acre site near the northwest corner of Alexander and Loop roads.

Arkansas Business reported in December that an affiliate of Saad Development Corp. of Mobile, Alabama, had purchased the pastureland from R&D Holding LLLP, led by Don Thompson. Saad paid $3.38 million.

Saad is a commercial development company specializing in "nationwide build-to-suit and value-add development." Among various projects on Saad's website are FedEx locations throughout the country.

The $24.9 million construction project is forecast to take a year and will involve a new street, Industry Parkway, which will link with Alexander Road to the south and Loop Road to the east.

FedEx hasn't commented on its plans for the site. Plans submitted to the city show a 305,000-SF package distribution warehouse and truck station. The documents also indicated the project could have parking for 624 employees and room for 118 more. We'll know more on Feb. 19.