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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.

Inauguration Day in Arkansas

Asa Hutchinson was sworn into office Tuesday as the 46th governor of Arkansas. 

Here's a recap of the day, which also included the swearing in of six other state constitutional officers.

USA Today Readers' Choice Picks Little Rock as No. 3 Best State Capital

Little Rock was recently selected as the No. 3 Best State Capital in a readers' choice award from USA Today and 10Best.

Little Rock was recently selected as the No. 3 Best State Capital in a readers' choice award by USA Today and 10Best

Arkansas' capital city was edged out by Carson City, Nevada, and Juneau, Alaska. 

Here's what USA Today and 10Best had to say about Little Rock:

A downtown renaissance has transformed Little Rock into a city with culture, cuisine and abundant outdoor activities. Visitors can rent a bike and pedal the 16-mile loop along the Arkansas River Trail, visit the Clinton Presidential Center and the Little Rock Central National Historic Site, a National Park Service unit that interprets the crucial role played by the school in the civil rights struggle.

For the complete list, click here.