Entergy Creates COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to Help Customers in Need
LITTLE ROCK — In an effort to help working families experiencing financial hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Entergy Charitable Foundation has established the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
“The health and safety of our customers, employees and communities is Entergy’s top priority,” said Leo Denault, chairman and CEO of Entergy Corporation. “For more than 100 years, Entergy has never wavered in our commitment to supporting our customers and the communities we serve. This pandemic is no different. During this challenging time, we are helping lessen the impact of this crisis on the most vulnerable in our communities. I strongly encourage our business partners to join us in this effort.”
As devastating and disruptive as this crisis is for everyone, we know from past experience that those most heavily impacted are ALICE households (lowwage working families) and low-income elderly and disabled customers – roughly 40 percent-50 percent of Entergy’s customer base.
“We know from experience that working families and low-income elderly and disabled customers are hardest hit during times of crisis,” said Patty Riddlebarger, vice president of Entergy’s corporate social responsibility. “We are working quickly to make funds available to community partners that serve vulnerable households to lessen the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis and ensure that families have the resources they need to get by during this time of uncertainty.”
To support our most vulnerable customers, Entergy shareholders are committing $700,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to help qualifying customers with basic needs such as food and nutrition, rent and mortgage assistance, and other critical needs until financial situations become more stable. Grants from the fund will be provided to United Way organizations and other nonprofit partners across Entergy’s service area that are providing services to impacted households.
Company shareholders will also match employee contributions to the COVID-19 relief efforts of local United Way organizations up to $100,000 to maximize impact. In addition to establishing the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, Entergy is taking additional steps to support and protect our customers during this crisis, including: With support from our regulators, we are temporarily suspending customer disconnects as we continue to monitor the situation.
We are working with our network of community advocates to request a funding increase of the Low Income
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Home Energy Assistance Program to help alleviate _nancial hardships caused by COVID-19 on vulnerable households.
We are developing bill payment solutions and tools to help customers pay their accumulated balances once the disconnect moratorium is lifted.
Already in place to support vulnerable customers is Entergy’s The Power to Care program, which provides emergency bill payment assistance to seniors and disabled individuals. To mark the 20th anniversary of Entergy’s low-income customer initiative, the limit of shareholders’ dollar for dollar match of customer donations was increased from $500,000 to $1 million per year. Shareholders continue to match employee donations dollar for dollar with no limit.
More information about Entergy’s COVID-19 preparations and response can be found at entergy.com/ coronavirus.
State prisons gearing up to combat coronavirus
JONESBORO — While no inmates or of_cers have tested positive for COVID-19, the Arkansas Department of Corrections and Department of Community Corrections are taking proactive action to protect residents and staff. In Northeast Arkansas, there are the McPherson Unit, an ADC facility for women in Newport, and the Northeast Arkansas Community Corrections Center, a male unit in Osceola.
Inmate visitation at ADC and ACC facilities is suspended statewide for at least 21 days, said Dina Tyler, director of communications. The 21-day period started earlier this week, she said.
Phone and video visitations services, however, are still available. Rates have been reduced for both services and the “connect fee” for phone calls has been waived until further notice, Tyler said.
“Each ACC resident will receive a $1 credit per week to be used for a free 10-minute call each week,” a yer read.
Meritorious and emergency furloughs, or temporary releases for inmates, are also suspended to keep the novel coronavirus out of state correctional facilities. Volunteers with ID badges are allowed entry, but occasional volunteers with church groups or other organizations are not, Tyler said. “There are posters put up all over the facilities for inmates and staff to see,” she said. “We’re trying very hard to limit the number of people coming inside the facilities because the (virus) isn’t in there right now as far as we know of and if it comes in, it will come in with somebody from the outside.”
A male inmate recently tested positive for the u, Tyler said. In any case of contagious sickness, inmates are isolated for others, as that inmate is currently, she said.
Granted that COVID-19 is new to Arkansas, outbreaks aren’t new in state correctional facilities. It’s “entirely likely” that more inmates will be tested for the virus.
“If it’s out in the community, there’s a possibility that it can get inside. We’ve been through all types of outbreaks over the years – u, colds, stomach viruses, chickenpox, TB (tuberculosis), scabies, you name it,” she said.
As of Thursday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was unaware of overcrowding in state prisons.
The McPherson Unit in Newport has a capacity of 971 inmates. As of Friday afternoon, 924 offenders were detained at the female prison.
Northeast Arkansas Community Corrections Center has 240 beds. Tyler said Friday that all the beds are full. In response to public outcry to release some of the inmates, Hutchinson said it’s up to the Board of Corrections.
“Our _rst obligation is that we make sure we keep the prisons safe (and) healthy,” Hutchinson said. “We’ll continue to look at it. The Board of Corrections has (its) emergency powers in the event that there is a need to take action.”
Since Tuesday, the Craighead County Sheriff’s Of_ce has released several nonviolent misdemeanor offenders from the Craighead County Detention Center.
As of Friday afternoon, 254 adults were detained in the county jail, according to the online roster. The jail can house up to 360 inmates.
Staff at the facilities are screened with temperature scanners as they report to work, Tyler said. Those who have a fever or show symptoms of COVID-19 aren’t allowed in.
“We have protocols in place to try and deal with it and so far, so good,” she said.
Northwest Arkansas performance group cancels spring slate of events
FAYETTEVILLE — TheatreSquared has announced that in the interest of public health concerning the COVID-19 virus, the company will adjust its performance schedule for the remainder of the 2019-20 season to support containment efforts in northwest Arkansas.
“As a public trust, we will take any steps necessary to help support the health of our community,” said Executive Director Martin Miller. “We are grateful that the exibility provided by our new two-venue facility allows us to postpone, rather than cancel, our remaining performances for the season.”
TheatreSquared will provide all ticketholders with a comparable seat for the same production on rescheduled dates, and give full exibility for subsequent exchanges to any alternate performance if requested. T2’s ticketing concierge team is implementing the schedule changes immediately and will contact ticketholders directly by email and phone to con_rm new dates.
The current weekend’s performances of “Ann,” including this evening’s performance, have been rescheduled. Patrons will be re-accommodated during an encore three-week run of “Ann” with veteran stage, _lm, and television actor Libby Villari (“Friday Night Lights,” “Boyhood,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) in the Spring Theatre Aug. 19 through Sept. 27.
“My Father’s War” by Robert Ford will now open in the Spring Theatre on June 17. To accommodate this rescheduling, opening date for “Matilda: The Musical” will also be adjusted by two weeks and will begin its month-long run in the West Theatre on June 3. Casting has just been completed for the production and will be announced in the coming weeks.
“The Arkansas New Play Festival,” currently slated for early April, will return to its traditional summer schedule. Performance dates are being con_rmed with festival partner The Momentary, including four new plays in staged reading performances. The rescheduling will also allow for the addition of a staged workshop production, in partnership with an off-Broadway company, of a new musical that is slated to make its New York debut in 2021. The full performance schedule and lineup of new works for the festival will be announced in the coming weeks.
For the present, TheatreSquared’s public spaces will remain open and the Commons Bar/Café will continue to operate with reduced hours closing at 8 p.m. each evening. Elevated disinfecting, sanitation and social distancing measures have all been implemented, and takeaway options (including grab & go) are recommended in order to minimize contact while containment efforts continue.
Upcoming March and April education residencies in Arkansas schools and April donor events including the Sustainers Dinner and Playwrights Breakfast are in the process of being rescheduled. Updates and new dates for these events will be posted to the company’s website at theatre2.org and communicated directly to patrons.
For patrons needing ticketing assistance, contact the TheatreSquared Box Of_ce at 479-777-7477 or visit theatre2.org. For further information on the schedule changes, contact Director of Marketing and Communications Joanna Sheehan Bell at 479-777-7081 or at joanna @theatre2.org.