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Gov. Hutchinson criticized for allowing refugee resettlement in Arkansas

Gov. Hutchinson criticized for allowing refugee resettlement in Arkansas


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson has spent the past few days defending his decision to continue accepting new refugees despite skepticism from some GOP lawmakers.

In return, Hutchinson challenged lawmakers to avoid creating “fear” about the decision to allow vetted refugees to relocate to places in northwest Arkansas as part of a plan announced by the Trump Administration last September.

“A refugee coming to America is not an illegal entry,” the governor said in his opening statement. “This was an executive branch decision that I was called upon to make.”

Hutchinson explained to the legislative committee that fewer than 50 refugees will be resettled in Washington County, and only if the White House makes the request.

Arkansas is among 42 states that have said they will continue to accept refugees since the Trump administration issued order that gave state and local governments the authority to refuse to accept them for the first time in history.

That local component is part of what led Garner to back off his criticism of the governor and focus on city and county officials.

“If you have an opinion about the resettlement of refugees in your area, call your county officials and your mayors,” he said. “Let your quorum court and city council members know.”

“Each of you are leaders in your community,” the governor said. “You’ve got a choice to make. You can create fear or you can help resolve fear.”


Family of 11-year-old choking victim wants to spread awareness

WALKER CREEK — A Southwest Arkansas community is helping a family that is dealing with the loss of a child who died after choking at school.

School leaders, first responders and others paused this weekend to remember Jaxson Land.

People are remembering 11-year-old Jaxson Land, of Walker Creek, as a fifth-grader who had an infectious personality and was infatuated with law officers and firefighters.

Last week, Jaxson was at Taylor Elementary when he choked on some food and later experienced a seizure. People at the school and emergency crews tried helping him, but he later died.

Family members said Jaxson was diagnosed with autism early on in life and that one of his obsessions was the love to eat.

Jaxson’s parents said he also had been diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a disease resulting in feeding difficulties with late development and poor growth. Now his family wants to educate others about this disease.

“We honestly don’t know what each day is going to bring for us right now. We can’t imagine losing our baby boy,” Lonnie Land said.


Judicial candidate appeals ballot disqualification

JONESBORO — A Lawrence County district court judge knocked off the ballot due to a 25-year-old misdemeanor charge is appealing his case to the state’s highest court.

Judge Adam Weeks filed a petition Friday, Jan.

10, for a writ of certiorari with the Arkansas State Supreme Court.

It came after the Pulaski County Circuit Court ruled last Monday, Jan. 7, that Weeks’ name should be removed from the ballot for a circuit judge’s position.

On Dec. 6, a lawsuit seeking to have Weeks declared ineligible to run for public office and his name removed from the ballot was filed. The suit claimed Weeks had been found guilty of “infamous crimes,” including 4 hot check charges in the late 1990s and a fictitious tags charge from 1994.

In his Jan. 6 decision, Circuit Judge Chris Piazza found that the hot check charges did not disqualify Weeks, but the fictitious tags conviction mandated Weeks’ removal. In his order, Piazza noted that it was “absurd” that the 25-year-old charge should disqualify Weeks.

With early voting set to begin on Feb. 17, Weeks asked in his appeal that the Supreme Court justices expedite their decision, stating “this matter must be decided no later than Feb. 14, 2020.”

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