Arkansas Archives:

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (BNO NEWS) — Aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft on Thursday said it plans to cut 170 jobs at its completion center in Arkansas, coming just weeks after the company entered into negotiations to sell its business jet and general aviation operations to a Chinese firm.

CEO Steve Miller and Chairman Bill Boisture announced the layoffs in a letter sent to employees on Thursday, calling it an “unprecedented time” for the aircraft manufacturer. They said the layoffs will impact approximately 170 employees across multiple levels and functions, both hourly and salaried workers, throughout its facilities in Little Rock.

“As we have communicated with you previously, the company continues to evaluate and balance production rates throughout a difficult and changing environment,” the letter said. “Over the last several months, we have worked to appropriately size our business, primarily in Wichita. Today, we are faced with additional challenging decisions that involve further re-sizing our work force.”

The completion center in Little Rock, which performs repairs and maintenance but also puts the final touch on planes before they are delivered to customers, currently employs about 450 people. Thursday’s letter said the 170 affected workers have been given a 60-day Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN), as is required by federal law.

Hawker Beechcraft, which has suffered from a decline in the demand for business jets due to the global financial crisis, voluntary filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early May. Its senior secured lenders and bondholders also agreed to a financial restructuring plan which aims to eliminate approximately $2.5 billion in debt and approximately $125 million of annual cash interest expense.

The aircraft manufacturer also entered talks last month to sell its business jet and general aviation operations to Chinese firm Superior Aviation Beijing for approximately $1.8 billion. Such a sale would give Hawker Beechcraft greater access to the Chinese aviation marketplace, which is expected to grow considerably during the next few decades.

Hawker Beechcraft Defense Company (HBDC) would be excluded from any deal with the Chinese firm and remain a separate entity. But any definitive agreement reached during the exclusive negotiations, which are expected to last until the end of this month, would have to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and other regulatory agencies.

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PERRYVILLE, ARKANSAS (BNO NEWS) — Oklahoma State University women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke was among four people who were killed in a small plane crash in Arkansas on late Thursday afternoon, officials said on Friday.

The accident happened at around 4.30 p.m. local time when a fixed wing single-engine Piper PA-28 aircraft went down in a wooded area some four miles (6.4 kilometers) south of Perryville, a city in Perry County in central Arkansas. Four people were on board.

Oklahoma State University (OSU) President Burns Hargis said basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant women’s basketball coach Miranda Serna were killed in the accident. The two other people on board, including the pilot, were also killed but not affiliated with the university.

“The Oklahoma State family is devastated by this tragedy,” Hargis said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims.”

Hargis praised Budke as an ‘exemplary leader’ and a ‘man of character’ who had a profound impact on his student-athletes. “He was an outstanding coach and a wonderful person. We send our deepest sympathies to his wife, Shelley, and their children, Sara, Alex and Brett,” he added.

Mike Holder, OSU vice president for athletics, said the University is shocked by the ‘terrible loss.’ “Kurt Budke was an incredibly positive influence on his players and was a tremendous coach,” he said. “He quickly turned our program around and put Cowgirl basketball on the map. Miranda was a tireless worker and great recruiter.”

Holder said Jim Littell, associate head coach, would assume duties as interim head coach. The university announced the Cowgirls will not play games scheduled Saturday and Sunday, and OSU counselors and athletic staff are offering assistance to the Cowgirl student-athletes and staff.

Budke was in his seventh season as Cowgirl coach, with an all-time record of 112-83. His team was 1-0 after a convincing victory over Rice on Sunday. Under his direction, OSU made postseason appearances each of the past five seasons, including three trips to the NCAA tournament.

In the 2009-10 season, the Cowgirls won 24 games, including a school-record six victories against Top 25 teams, achieved a top-10 national ranking for the first time ever and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

It was not immediately known what caused Thursday’s accident. Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the crash.

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DARDANELLE, ARKANSAS (BNO NEWS) — The Arkansas State Police on Thursday canceled a Morgan Nick Amber Alert after a missing teenager who was believed to have been abducted was found safe, police said.

Police said 17-year-old Sara Elizabeth Alvis of Dardanelle went missing on Thursday afternoon after her cellular phone was found in a ditch in Perry County. She was described as a 5’01″ white female with brown eyes, brown hair and weighs about 90lbs.

Alvis was believed to be with 22-year-old Nicholas V. Pfeifer, whose last known address is at 11118 North Liberty Road in Dardenelle. He was described as a 5’11″ white male with blonde hair and green eyes.

Police later said Alvis was found safe, but provided no other details. It was not immediately clear if Pfeifer was also found, and if he was arrested.

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BUFFALO CITY, ARKANSAS (BNO NEWS) — Two people were killed on early Tuesday afternoon when a small plane registered to a company out of California crashed in northern Arkansas, local and federal officials said.

Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery said the Sheriff’s office received a 911 call from a citizen at approximately 12.26 p.m. CDT, stating that he had heard and seen a plane crash in the woods near the Buffalo City area.

Baxter County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Rick Lucy was the first person to arrive on scene at approximately 12:33 p.m. CDT, confirming that a plane had gone down in a remote wooded area off Inwood Lane.

“The remains of the plane were on fire, and the Buford Volunteer Fire Department was already enroute, as was an ambulance from Baxter Regional Medical Center,” said Montgomery. “Two persons are confirmed dead [..] Their bodies are being removed by the Baxter County Coroner’s Office. Their identity has not been established.”

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the plane involved was a Cessna 210, which is capable of carrying one pilot and five passengers. She said the aircraft departed Vermilion Regional Airport in Danville, Indiana several hours earlier and was due to fly to Georgetown Muni Airport in Georgetown, Texas.

Federal records showed the 1982-build aircraft was registered to Monterey Bay Aviation, Inc. in Watsonville, California.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

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CLINTON, ARKANSAS (BNO NEWS) — A medical helicopter that was responding to wreck crashed early Tuesday near Clinton, Arkansas, killing three people on board, officials said.

According to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford, the Air Evac Bell 206 helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances at about 4:15 a.m. near Scotland, a town located few miles southwest of Clinton.

The crew was based in Vilonia, Arkansas and was responding to an auto accident when it went down.

Air Evac is the largest independently owned and operated membership-supported air medical service in the United States, and conducts its operations in 14 states.

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LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (BNO NEWS) — An Arkansas doctor on Monday was convicted of carrying out a car bomb attack on the head of the state’s medical board, prosecutors said.

Randeep Mann, of Pope County, on February 4, 2009 bombed the West Memphis home of Dr. Trent Pierce, Chairman of the Arkansas Medical Board.

Mann placed a grenade against Dr. Pierce’s car with a spare tire and, after Pierce approached his vehicle and moved the tire, the grenade exploded, throwing him off the ground and sending him six feet into a flower bed. The explosion, which should have killed him, was heard over a mile (kilometer) away.

Mann had been facing several problems with the medical board, which was investigating a new complaint against him that could have cost him his medical license. He previously had his permit to prescribe controlled substances suspended in 2006 after complaints of overprescribing painkillers.

The bombing attack was argued to be a retaliation on Mann’s behalf. Dr. Pierce survived the attack, but was severely injured, losing an eye, damaging his face, partially losing his sense of smell and hearing, and fracturing an arm and leg.

Mann was arrested about one month after the attack. Cherith Beck, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said he was found guilty of 7 out of 9 counts on Monday, including possession of an unregistered machine gun and nearly 100 grenades. The trial lasted about five weeks and Mann will now face up to life in prison.

Mann’s wife, Sue Mann, faces obstruction of justice charges and will be facing up to 20 years in prison.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) – The U.S. Department of Labor announced on Tuesday that it certified approximately 9,000 workers from 19 states to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

The eligible workers are from companies in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

The TAA was established under the Trade Act of 1974. Such program provides aid to workers who lose their jobs or whose hours of work and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports. Workers affected by this situation may apply for TAA.

“Trade Adjustment Assistance allows us to offer workers the training they need to get new, good jobs, and the support they need to successfully complete training while continuing to provide for their families,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

The workers covered by the latest TAA certifications will be contacted with instructions on how to apply for individual benefits and services. After that, applicants may receive case management and re-employment services, training in new skills and trade readjustment allowances that provide income for workers in order to continue supporting their families.

Some workers may also receive job search and relocation allowances, as well as the Health Coverage Tax Credit. Workers of over 50 years may elect to receive Re-employment Trade Adjustment Assistance (RTAA).

The RTAA consists in the program paying 50 percent of the difference between the old wage and the new wage, up to $12,000 for a two-year period. Workers are eligible for RTAA if they obtain new employment at wages less than $55,000 and less than those earned in their previous job.

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LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (BNO NEWS) — Medal of Honor recipient and former Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs Director Nick Bacon died on Saturday morning, the department said. He was 64.

The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs said the retired U.S. Army First Sergeant died after a long fought battle with cancer at the age of 64.

Bacon served in the U.S. Army from 1963 to 1984 and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon for his actions during an August 26, 1968 battle near Tam Ky in Vietnam.

“Bacon distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader with the 1st Platoon, Company B, during an operation west of Tam Ky,” the citation with the Medal read. “When Company B came under fire from an enemy bunker line to the front, S/Sgt. Bacon quickly organized his men and led them forward in an assault.”

The Army said Bacon advanced on a hostile bunker and destroyed it with grenades. “As he did so, several follow soldiers including the1st Platoon leader, were struck by machine gun fire and fell wounded in an exposed position forward of the rest of the platoon.”

Bacon immediately assumed command of the platoon and assaulted the hostile gun position, finally killing the enemy gun crew in a single-handed effort.

After that, the 3rd Platoon also moved to Bacon’s location after its leader was also wounded. “Without hesitation S/Sgt. Bacon took charge of the additional platoon and continued the fight,” the Army said. “In the ensuing action he personally killed 4 more enemy soldiers and silenced an antitank weapon. Under his leadership and example, the members of both platoons accepted his authority without question.”

Continuing to ignore the intense hostile fire, the Army said, he climbed up on the exposed deck of a tank and directed fire into the enemy position while several wounded men were evacuated.

“As a result of S/Sgt. Bacon’s extraordinary efforts, his company was able to move forward, eliminate the enemy positions, and rescue the men trapped to the front. S/Sgt. Bacon’s bravery at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

Bacon also received the Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, and Purple Heart.

In April 1993, then-Governor Jim Tucker appointed Bacon as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. He was re-appointed by Governor Mike Huckabee and served until February, 2005.

“Mr. Bacon was essential in the development of the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery and the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery Beautification Foundation,” the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs said in a statement. “A staunch supporter of veterans, he also helped to establish the Arkansas Veterans’ Coalition.”

Bacon was born on November 25, 1945 in Caraway, Arkansas to a farm family of six children. His family moved to Arizona when he was a child. There, at the age of 17, he joined the Army.

After he eventually retired from the military, he returned to Arizona and worked for the VA Regional Office in Phoenix. And following a stint working for John McCain’s U.S. Senate campaign, he became City Manager of Surprise, Arizona.

He moved back to Arkansas in 1990 and most recently lived in Rose Bud, a town in White County. Bacon leaves behind his wife Tamera Ann, several children and grandchildren.

Funeral services, with full military honors, will be conducted at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock on Saturday at 11 a.m. local time. Following the service, a reception is being planned.

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LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (BNO NEWS) — At least sixteen people have been killed and dozens more remain missing after flash flooding in western Arkansas on early Friday, officials said on early Saturday.

Flash flooding from the Little Missouri River created a ‘wall of water’, striking two large camping sites. “Intense search and rescue operations are underway,” a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said. He said search and rescue teams from three counties were assisting, as well as the National Guard and a Blackhawk helicopter with lifting capabilities.

The spokesman said the river near Albert Pike Camp Ground rose over 20 feet and campers were hit by what was described as “a wall of water.” It happened around 5.30 a.m. local time.

It is unclear how many people remain missing, and unofficial reports range from 30 to as many as 80. The spokesman said more than 30 people had been rescued.

Governor Mike Beebe declared Montgomery and Pike Counties disaster areas in the aftermath of the deadly flash flooding. Beebe toured some of the flooded campsites where the water had already receded, and visited with survivors and victims’ families.

“I”ve seen flooding before, but I’ve never seen water do this kind of damage,” Beebe said. “While this tragedy occurred in Arkansas, many of these campers were visiting us from Louisiana and Texas, and our hearts go out to everyone who lost loved ones. We are continuing the search over a wide area and offering whatever help we can to the families of all these victims.”

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) has opened a phone bank to collect information about possible missing persons. Those with information can call 1-888-683-2336 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The remains of nine U.S. service members, who went missing in action during the Vietnam War in 1968, have been accounted-for and returned to their families, the U.S. Department of Defense announced on Monday.

The nine servicemen were aboard a C-130A Hercules aircraft on May 22, 1968 when it went missing over the northern Salavan Province of Laos. They were on an evening flare mission and – fifteen minutes after the aircraft made a radio call – the crew of another U.S. aircraft observed a large ground fire near the last known location of the aircraft. The U.S. Department of Defense said search and rescue attempts were not initiated due to heavy anti-aircraft fire in the area.

Over 40 years, U.S. analysts developed case leads and through interviews with eyewitnesses and research in the National Archives, several locations in Laos and South Vietnam were pinpointed as potential crash sites.

Between 1989 and 2008, teams from Laos People’s Democratic Republic and the Vietnam, led by the U.S. Department of Defense, pursued leads, interviewed villagers, and conducted 10 field investigations and four excavations in Quang Tri Province of Vietnam. They recovered aircraft wreckage, human remains, crew-related equipment and personal effects.

Scientists from Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA– which matched that of the crewmembers’ families – as well as dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.

The nine men now identified are: Air Force Col. William H. Mason of Camden, Arkansas; Lt. Col. Jerry L. Chambers of Muskogee, Oklahoma; Maj. William T. McPhail of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Maj. Thomas B. Mitchell of Littleton, Colorado; Chief Master Sgt. John Q. Adam of Bethel, Kansas; Chief Master Sgt. Calvin C. Glover of Steubenville, Ohio; Chief Master Sgt. Thomas E. Knebel of Midway, Arkansas; Chief Master Sgt. Melvin D. Rash of Yorktown, Virginia; and Master Sgt. Gary Pate of Brooks, Georgia.

Their remains were returned to their families and were buried today as a group in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

Since late 1973, the remains of 927 Americans killed in the Vietnam War have been accounted-for and returned to their families. With the accounting of these airmen, 1,719 service members still remain missing from the conflict.

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