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Arkansas reports record 1,278 coronavirus cases amid surge

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Coronavirus cases continue to surge through Arkansas Thursday with a daily-record 1,278 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus reported.

The Department of Health reported that the state’s confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, rose by 1,068 to 9,303, and probable cases rose by 210 to 5,221. That brought the combined COVID-19 total for the outbreak to 96,524, with 8,424 cases active and 594 requiring hospitalization, seven more than Wednesday. Patients needing breathing assistance fell by seven to 106.

The actual number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

“I expected the number of new cases to increase as we enter the last part of the week,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement. “This has been the pattern, but the cases reported today set a new record high. Our increased testing efforts allow us to find cases already present and react to them. Each one of us must be proactive in our individual efforts to help slow the spread of this virus.”

Hutchinson has mandated that face masks be worn in public, that social distancing be maintained and that restaurant seatings be limited to two-thirds capacity.

The state’s total COVID-19 fatalities rose by 11 new deaths to 1,645.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Centennial backs Guy-Perkins field improvements

Centennial Bank of Conway recently donated $5,000 to the Guy-Perkins School District to help replace the backstop and fencing at the baseball field. Centennial Bank Vice President of Business Development Eric King (left) stands with Guy-Perkins Superintendent Joe Fisher and Regional Bank Representative Max “Doc” Dollar as he presents the district the check.

Police seek help to ID 3 women

Authorities are asking for the public’s help in identifying three women suspected of using a debit card that was reported as stolen last month.

The Conway Police Department reached out to the public via social media Thursday morning and released security photos that show three women who recently used stolen cards at Walmart and Target.

“Your Conway Police Department needs help identifying these three women who are believed to have used debit cards stolen during a vehicle break-in at Gatlin Park,” CPD spokesman LaTresha Woodruff said. “They made purchases of nearly $900 at Walmart on Skyline [Drive] and made an unsuccessful attempt at Target.”

The cards used were taken during a break-in on Sept. 28.

A 36-year-old Conway woman initially called police at 4:58 p.m. Sept. 28 when she and her husband returned to her vehicle after walking along the walking trail at Gatlin Park only to find out someone had shattered the front passenger window and made off with her purse and gym bag, according to an incident report.

The woman told police she and her husband got to the park at 4:05 p.m. and returned to her vehicle by 4:50 p.m. While speaking with officer Austin Clagett about the incident, the woman said she received an alert from Citi Bank saying her card was used at the Walmart on Skyline Drive.

The items taken from the woman’s white 2017 Volvo XC90 were collectively valued at $1,430, according to the report.

Authorities are asking that anyone who recognizes the women in the surveillance footage to call Conway detectives immediately. While it’s difficult to see the women’s faces, authorities are hopeful someone will recognize them.

“Yes, they have masks on but it’s very likely anyone who is familiar with these ladies might be able to identify them,” Woodruff said. “So, if that’s you then let us know by calling Detective [Joseph] Rowe or Detective [Timothy] Gray at 501-450-6130 [and] reference report 320-90758. Thanks in advance for your help.”

Van Buren County wet vote upheld by state court

In a decision signed Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the validity of the so-called “wet vote” for Van Buren County as a 2020 election ballot measure.

Voters now have the opportunity to vote for or against the county permitting alcohol sales as part during the November election.

Thursday’s decision was apparently the final obstacle for “Let Van Buren County Vote” initiative which had begun the wet-vote process with certification of petition Jan. 7. Roughly 4,300 signatures were gathered in the county of 8,300 voters.

The signatures were presented to the county clerk and the ballot measure received certification.

What followed was a lawsuit brought about by “Stay Strong, Status Quo” and “Bevans Family Limited Partnership” to overturn the certification based upon the legality of the signatures certified and the forms used for signature gathering. The appeal was rejected in county circuit court by Hon. Susan Weaver on Sept. 9.

An appeal was made by Stay Strong and Bevans Partnership to the Supreme Court, which upheld Weaver’s decision today.

David Byard, a Let Van Buren County Vote spokesman, said Thursday’s victory was a victory for county voters.

“On behalf of the voters, this is the final straw,” Byard said. “Now the decision is theirs.”

Free Food Friday changes locations

Free Food Friday will continue the over the next three weeks at a new location.

I Feel the Need volunteers will hand out food boxes to families in need from the Conway Expo & Event Center beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16. Volunteers with the feeding ministry previously provided food boxes to families battling food insecurity at the Soul Food Café Mission but opted to change locations as they expect to receive a larger shipment.

“Due to the increased volume in traffic at our last few events, we have simply outgrown the location and began seeking a larger venue,” I Feel the Need Executive Director Shane Willbanks told the Log Cabin Democrat. “The city of Conway stepped in and offered to let us use the parking lot at the Expo Center tomorrow [Friday] and next Friday [Oct. 23].”

Gearing up for the food distribution drive-thru event, Willbanks said he hopes to receive more than 1,500 boxes to disperse among central Arkansas residents and area food banks.

“The manifest said the trucks would have 1,536 all-in-one boxes. We wound up getting just over 1,700 boxes last week, and nearly 1,200 gallons of milk. So I would expect something very close to that again [Friday, Oct. 16],” he said.

The all-in-one boxes include 30 pounds of food.

“Boxes will be an all-in-one kit including protein, dairy, fruit and vegetables. Examples of the components will be chicken, eggs, yogurt, milk, apples [and] potatoes,” a United States Department of Agriculture representative said.

Families who attend the drive-thru event can pick up food boxes for up to two families.

In the past, the feeding ministry has allowed groups to leave with several boxes but cannot continue doing this as the volume of those who line-up for the event increases each week.

Residents should follow the traffic cone-lined path as volunteers unload the shipment. Volunteers will start handing out food boxes to those in line at 9 a.m.

“If people are early, we just ask that they are patient as we get the truck unloaded and the food sorted in its proper locations,” Willbanks said. “After they receive their boxes, they will exit behind the Expo Center and out to the East.”

The feeding ministry’s executive director said it was a blessing to receive the food and help out area residents in need.

“We are very blessed to get these next few trucks and we hope that it will continue into November and December,” Willbanks said. “Please stay tuned on social media or our website for the latest information.”

Those seeking food assistance do not have to show volunteers their ID or any other identifying documents to receive food boxes.

“No ID or documentation is required, just show up with room in your vehicle for us to load the food boxes,” Willbanks said.

To donate to I Feel the Need or for more information about the group and its food distribution schedule, visit www.facebook/feelingtheneed or www.ifeelthe need.org.