With virtually no notice from the Arkansas Health Department and no word from the media, legislators reversed direction last month and renewed the state’s contract with Denver-based National Jewish Health and its 1-800-QUIT-NOW hotline for smokers.

A contract worth more than $1.8 million was reviewed by a Legislative Council subcommittee on Aug. 16 and accepted by the entire council three days later. The new expiration is June 30, but state Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) says the end is nearer than that.

Bobby Ampezzan/ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

Last week students across Arkansas returned to the classroom, and the heavens approved. The clouds huddled close and offered the state a fill of rain. Cooler temperatures kept new school duds light and loose.

The man-made change of “season” — summer to school year — seemed to be accompanied by a very real one.

Not so for a select student demographic at places such as KIPP Delta Preparatory Academy in Helena-West Helena and eStem Public Charter School in downtown Little Rock. Oh, it rained there, too, but these schools opened days, even weeks ago.

Major Evan Young, a retired U.S. Army officer, joined the military in 1989 during an era which barred him from disclosing his sexual orientation.

“I was a lesbian at that time so I was used to being in the closet,” Young says.

Just as the gay rights movement was taking root, then-President Ronald Reagan in 1982 issued a stern directive to the U.S. Department of Defense stating that anyone serving in the military who engaged in homosexual acts or professed to be lesbian, gay or bisexual would be immediately discharged.

Pride Day at American Legion Post 114 in Batesville looked a lot like a Tuesday. By mid-afternoon a handful of regulars sat at the bar sipping cold beer and ice water, telling lawyer jokes and staring absently at a Law and Order episode.

Public health officials in Arkansas and nationally are monitoring the spread of the Zika virus following the births of thousands of babies with microcephaly.

120 students in white doctor coats stood proudly on the Riceland Hall stage in the Fowler Center, reciting the “student pledge of commitment” with the goal of accomplishing a dream.  A dream to practice medicine.

The students are the culmination of a dream for a medical school to be in Northeast Arkansas at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.  They are the inaugural class of the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at A-State—the first Osteopathic Medical school in the state.

Goats
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

At Hot Springs National Park, rangers are fighting to protect an ecosystem besieged by invasive species, and recently, they turned to a biological weapon, a mercenary army whose absence of mercy is matched only by their competitiveness around food.

Mary Stafford started out a few years ago by keeping a herd of goats at her house in Vilonia. She says they make great pets. They have big personalities and puckish charm.

OECC

Futurists have long foretold of two energy “unicorns,” sources that are as abundant and non-polluting as they are competitive in the marketplace. The dreamier of these is nuclear fusion, fuel to the stars! It chews up abundant hydrogen — that’s nine out of every 10 atoms in the galaxy — and spits out helium, the stuff of party balloons.

Arkansas's governor and attorney general went to bat for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by smacking  Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton back-to-back Tuesday night in prime-time speaking slots at the Republican National Convention.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson told delegates Tuesday night that electing Clinton after President Barack Obama's eight years in office would "double your trouble."

This summer, Arkansas is fighting back.

Back against a population of blood-sucking ticks that’s abundant, active and virulent.

Scientists from a half dozen state agencies and institutions have banded together to target these tiny terrors, not for termination but for a count, a dissection at most.

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