Business Briefs for Dec. 5, 2005

• Alltel Corp. of Little Rock has completed the sale of its Irish business, Meteor Mobile Communications Ltd., to a subsidiary of Eircom Group PLC, the Irish fixed-line telecommunications operator, for approximately $500 million.

• Southern Financial Partners, a nonprofit affiliate of Southern Bancorp of Arkadelphia, presented Henderson State University's Small Business Development Center in Arkadelphia with a $30,000 contribution to provide Business Advantage training to entrepreneurs from 2006-08. Business Advantage is a series of four three-hour seminars designed to provide potential and existing business owners with financial and marketing information for building a stronger business.

• Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Little Rock has been named to the InformationWeek 500 list of leading users of business technology. The insurance company's support of the emerging consumer-directed health market and its secure electronic health records are two disciplines that helped it gain the recognition.

• ABF Freight System Inc. of Fort Smith has been named as one of the top six U.S. companies to sell for in the service sector by Selling Power magazine. This is the fourth consecutive year ABF has placed among the top 10 each year. ABF is the largest subsidiary of Arkansas Best Corp.

• Arkansas ranks 23rd among the 50 states and Puerto Rico in its percentage of alcohol-related traffic deaths. End Needless Death on Our Roadways said 39.2 percent of the traffic accident deaths in the state last year were alcohol-related.

Rhode Island was first and Utah was last. The group said nearly 17,000 motorists are killed nationwide in alcohol-related accidents each year.

• Starting with the new year, motorists will be required to have a temporary cardboard license plate that will be good for about 30 days. Arkansas motorists now have a month to register a car they just bought. Legislators changed the law to curb abuses by people using dealer tags to avoid paying taxes on their vehicles.

• The University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Institute for Economic Advancement and the Economic Development Information Coalition will host a local viewing of the satellite broadcast titled "Gulf Coast Business Reinvestment Forum: Lessons Learned." The showing will be held from 2-3 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business & Economic Development at UALR. Call Vaughan Wingfield at (501) 569-8519 or Neva Wayman at (501) 569-8551 for more information.

• Dr. Robert D.B. "Jake" Jaquiss has joined Arkansas Children's Hospital as chief of its pediatric cardiovascular surgery program and as professor of surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine in Little Rock. Jaquiss, most recently an associate professor of surgery and the senior cardiothoracic attending physician at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, replaces Dr. Jonathan Drummond-Webb, who committed suicide last year.

• The Hot Springs Convention Center has received the 2006 Readers' Choice Award for excellence from Conven-tionSouth magazine, a trade publication that has covered meetings and conventions in the South for 22 years. The award is based on commitment to professionalism, creativity, excellence and outstanding customer service.

• President Bush has signed into law Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor's legislation mandating the Federal Trade Commission begin an investigation on nationwide gas prices in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to determine if and where there was gas price gouging. Pryor's amendment was part of the appropriations bill for the Commerce, Justice and State Departments for Fiscal Year 2006.

• Former Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., will visit Arkansas Dec. 9 for a fundraising banquet for Asa Hutchinson, Republican candidate for governor. The event will be held at The Peabody Little Rock, with a private reception from 5-6 p.m. Dinner will begin at 6 p.m.

• Bill Halter, a potential Democratic candidate for Arkansas governor, has announced his opposition to a $575 million highway bond program that will be voted on in a Dec. 13 special election. Halter supports a bond program for construction and technology improvements at Arkansas colleges and universities.

• Sales of new single-family homes jumped 13 percent to a record seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.424 million units in October — a sales pace that was 9 percent above a year ago, according to the Commerce Department.