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Governor sets new vaccine goal

Arkansas now has a goal to partially vaccinate 50 percent of its population within the next 90 days, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at his regular coronavirus briefing at the State Capitol on Tuesday.

Currently, 34 percent of the state has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the governor said. To reach the additional 16 percent needed to meet the state’s new goal, the governor said more than 467,000 Arkansans will need to receive a dose of the vaccine. The governor described the new goal as a “simple foundational goal” that will “take a lot of work from Arkansans and their communities.”

To reach the new goal, the Arkansas Department of Health will organize mass vaccine clinics at large events around the state. Clinics will take place at an Arkansas Travelers’ baseball game and at graduations for central Arkansas high schools at War Memorial Stadium, the governor said.

In other news from Tuesday’s briefing, the governor and Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero cautioned the state about the dangers of new coronavirus variants in the state. The most prevalent variant which originated in the United Kingdom (UK) accounts for some 75 percent of variant cases found in Arkansas, Romero said, adding that the UK variant is associated with a higher mortality and morbidity rate. Variants of the coronavirus have now been found in 29 Arkansas counties.

In the case report, Arkansas has noticed an uptick over last week’s numbers with 296 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed since Monday. With the rise in cases comes an increase of 20 hospitalized Arkansans with the virus for a total of 192. Five additional deaths from complications due to COVID-19 have also been reported since Monday, bringing the state’s virus death toll to 5,752.

On the vaccine front, the state administered nearly 11,000 doses between Monday and Tuesday, bringing the state’s fully-immunized population to more than 768,000.

In a final piece of news from Tuesday’s briefing, the governor announced that he would no longer focus specifically on COVID-19 in his regular Tuesday press briefings. While briefings will continue, the governor said that their content will expand to areas outside of the coronavirus pandemic.

Renewal Ranch hosts Kyle Allison Golf Classic

Renewal Ranch Ministries, a faith-based program which assists men and their families who have struggled with addiction, homelessness and other difficulties, hosted its third annual Kyle Allison Golf Classic at the Centennial Valley Country Club on April 26, ranch spokesman Jon-Austen Linch reported to the Log Cabin Democrat.

The golf classic, which brought together players from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, was the ranch’s largest classic ever put on, with 30 teams signed up to compete, Linch said.

The classic was renamed in Kyle Allison’s honor in 2019 after Allison’s death in July 2018. A life-long Conway resident and graduate of Conway High School and the University of Central Arkansas, Allison’s favorite event the ranch put on every year was the golf classic, Linch said.

“Kyle was devoted to the staff and men at [Renewal] Ranch,” Linch said. “His greatest love was for his lord and savior, which he was quick to share with others. Kyle was easy to love and made a personal investment in many people.”

Sponsors of the 2021 Kyle Allison Golf Classic included First Security Bank, Centennial Bank, Bledsoe Chiropractic, the J. Hawks Charitable Foundation and Francis M. Fine Jewelry, Linch said.

CSO presents free virtual concert

The Conway Symphony Orchestra will present Visions of Hope, a free online concert at 7 p.m. May 16. The pre-recorded performance, which anticipates the orchestra’s return to in-person concerts in the fall of 2021, will be available on the CSO’s website.

“Live music will always be essential to our core mission, but this project has given us a chance to explore new avenues of producing concerts,” Music Director Israel Getzov said. “It’s amazing that technology can overcome the distance between performer and public while providing new experiences that go beyond what’s possible in a traditional performance.”

This is the first virtual presentation by the Conway Symphony Orchestra, but it will not be the last.

“We hope to leverage what we’ve learned over the past year to enhance our ability to provide meaningful musical experiences to the community in and around Conway,” Getzov said.

CSO new General Manager Suzanne Loerch echoed Getzov’s sentiments.

“We want to connect with audience members that may not get to the concert hall for any number of reasons,” Loerch said. “Virtual performances could be the bridge to the symphony and its repertoire for many people and we are eager to provide that connection.”

The program includes Edward Elgar’s lushly romantic “Serenade for Strings” and Arcangelo Corelli’s expectant “Christmas Concerto.” A pre-concert talk by the conductor will be live on Facebook at 6:45 p.m. May 16. More information about this event is available at the Conway Symphony’s website at www.conwaysymphony.org or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/conwaysymphony.

The Conway Symphony Orchestra brings professional concerts, guest artists and high-quality music to the central Arkansas community. For more information on concerts and other programs, visit ConwaySymphony.org or call 501-269-1066.

University of Central Arkansas baseball senior Cody Potvin and softball freshman Kayla Beaver earn Southland Conference weekly honors.

Bookcase project

Arkansas budget surplus grows to nearly $717M for year

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Arkansas’ finance office on Tuesday said the state’s surplus for the current fiscal year has grown to nearly $717 million.

The Department of Finance and Administration said the state’s net available general revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 now totals nearly $5.5 billion. That’s more than $651 million more than the state reported at the same time a year ago, the department said.

The state’s net revenue in April totaled nearly $780 million, which was $242 million above the same month last year and nearly $167 million more than was forecast.

The department said net available revenue was above forecast in nearly all major tax categories last month. Individual income tax collections were $2.3 million above forecast, while sales tax collections were $81.7 million above forecast.

Corporate income tax collections were $63.2 million above forecast.