Business Briefs for March 13, 2006

• Fred Wulfekuhler, 87, the longtime publisher of the Paragould Daily Press, has died at Jefferson Regional Medical Center at Pine Bluff after a long illness. He ran the newspaper from 1959 until he sold it in 1989 to the Paxton Media Group, winning numerous state and national awards for editorial excellence.

• Security National Financial Corp. of Salt Lake City has acquired Memorial Insurance Co. of America of Blytheville. Terms were not disclosed. Memorial, in business for 50 years, has $43 million in assets. It will continue to operate the Blytheville office. The acquisition gives Security Financial a total of 25 offices in 12 states.

• Advanced Environmental Recycl-ing Technologies Inc. was found guilty by a Benton County Circuit Court jury and ordered to pay approximately $750,000 in damages to Advanced Control Solutions for future business opportunities that ACS alleges it lost when A.E.R.T. discontinued using ACS programming and electrical contractor services. A.E.R.T. said it asked the judge to set aside the verdicts as not being supported by the law and facts, and if that motion is not granted it will appeal to the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

• Simmons First Trust Co. of Pine Bluff had two of its funds ranked among the top 10 by Pensions & Investments, the newspaper of money management. The Employee Benefit Income Fund had an annualized return of 5.2 percent for the past five years, ranking eighth in the intermediate duration fixed income fund category. The Employee Benefit Stock Fund had an annualized return of 1 percent for the same period and ranked ninth in the domestic growth equity category.

• Remettra Inc. of Little Rock has licensed its medical banking software to Personix, a unit of Fiserv Inc. Personix will expand services by using Remettra's medical banking software and process to authenticate individuals registering their bank account information.

• DAC Technologies Group International Inc., the Florida-based outsourcing company with its major distribution facility in Little Rock, has entered into an agreement to private-label gun cleaning kits for the National Rifle Association. The company also has entered into a licensing agreement with Haas Outdoors Inc. to use its Mossy Oak Break-Up camouflage pattern on DAC's Sportsman windproof and water-resistant lighter.

n Fitch Ratings has assigned a rating of AA-/F1+ to the $25 million Boone County variable rate hospital revenue construction bonds (North Arkansas Regional Medical Center Project), series 2006. The rating is based on the support provided by an irrevocable direct-pay letter of credit issued by Bank of America, securing the bonds.

• A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the financial strength rating of a joint venture between Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida Inc. from A- to A for USAble Life and affirmed an A rating for Florida Combined Life Insurance Co. USAble and Florida Combined are part of Life & Specialty Ventures LLC, a combination of the life and specialty products divisions of BCBSF and ABCBS that was completed in June. Both ratings have a stable outlook.

• A federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of three migrant workers from Mexico who claim that their employer, Superior Forestry Service of Tilly, failed to pay them as promised to plant trees in Tennessee. The suit was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and seeks to become a class-action case for an estimated 1,500 migrant temporary workers that Superior employed over the past six years.

• The Greater Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce will hold a candidate development seminar on from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. March 15 at the Economic Development Alliance office. The seminar is designed to offer training in the basics of organizing and implementing a campaign for public office. The fee, which includes materials and lunch, is $50 for chamber members and $75 for nonmembers. The deadline for registering is March 13. For more information, call (870) 535-0110.

• The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce will present 59 Minutes With Congressman Vic Snyder on March 21 at the Wyndham Riverfront in North Little Rock. The breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. and conclude by 8:29 a.m. Tickets are $25 each ($250 for reserved table of 10) and may be ordered online at www.littlerockchamber.com/calendar.htm.For more information, contact Gary Newton at (501) 377-6007 or gnewton@littlerockchamber.com.

• The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce has added an informal coffee at the Canadian Embassy as part of its 47th Annual Salute in Washington, D.C. The event will be held May 1. Canada is Arkansas' largest foreign trade partner; 28 percent of its worldwide merchandise exports went north in 2004.