Author

Tess Vrbin

Tess Vrbin

Tess Vrbin came to the Advocate from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where she reported on low-income housing and tenants' rights, and won awards for her coverage of 2021 flooding and tornado damage in rural Arkansas. She previously covered local government for The Commercial Dispatch in Mississippi and state government for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri. A Midwesterner by birth, she graduated from the University of Missouri's journalism school in 2019.

AG’s Medicaid fraud watchdog arrested 51, convicted 33 in fiscal year 2022

By: - October 6, 2022

Arkansas’ Medicaid fraud watchdog saw its most active year in fiscal 2022, which ended Sept. 30, racking up 51 arrests and 33 convictions for various types of Medicaid fraud, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Thursday. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit also brought in a record of more than $42.5 million in civil settlements, restitution and […]

Arkansas joins national maternal health care alliance

By: - October 3, 2022

Arkansas recently became the 48th state to join a national maternal health support organization that provides evidence-based standards of medical care to pregnant people, with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Arkansas Department of Health spearheading the move. States qualify for enrollment in the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) by […]

Little Rock housing complex facing AG lawsuit pleads no contest to city code violations

By: - October 3, 2022

Management of a housing complex facing a state lawsuit pleaded no contest to several city code violations Monday in Little Rock environmental court. Sylvester Smith, the attorney representing Big Country Chateau, said about 90% of the “life and safety issues” at the complex have been resolved. The issues include mold, broken windows, scattered garbage and […]

Little Rock housing authority failed to follow spending and contracting rules, HUD finds

By: - October 3, 2022

Little Rock’s public housing agency routinely failed to comply with federal, state and its own purchasing rules, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD’s Departmental Enforcement Center reviewed samples of two and a half years of contracts and financial documents from the Housing Authority of the City of […]

Arkansas Senate suspends Clark for “frivolous” complaint, changes rules for future ethics filings

By: - September 27, 2022

The Arkansas Senate voted to sanction Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale), who was not present at Tuesday’s Senate meeting, for filing a “spurious, frivolous and retaliatory” ethics complaint against Sen. Stephanie Flowers (D-Pine Bluff). The 26-4 vote came after three Senate Ethics Committee meetings and two full Senate meetings, bringing an end to several weeks of […]

Most Arkansas pregnancy center grant applicants awarded requested state funds

By: - September 26, 2022

Twelve of the 16 applicants for Arkansas’ $1 million grant program meant to assist pregnancy resource centers will receive the full amounts requested in August, according to data the state Department of Finance and Administration released Monday. Two organizations will only get some of the money they requested, and the final two will get none, […]

Pregnancy centers outline advertising plans in Arkansas grant applications

By: - September 23, 2022

Many of the Arkansas crisis pregnancy centers that applied for state funding hope to use the money for digital advertising, including targeted ads aimed at Arkansans who might have an unplanned pregnancy, according to the applications. Applicants also hope to use a portion of the taxpayer-funded grant to pay for physical advertising, rent and utilities, […]

Mold, sewage, broken appliances among tenants’ problems in properties whose owner faces AG lawsuit

By: - September 20, 2022

Nick and Amy Black’s son, August, already had a persistent cough by the time he was two months old. Their pediatrician said the baby is allergic to the mold in the family’s Little Rock apartment. It’s what makes Amy “the most mad” about their living situation at Big Country Chateau, which has had a plethora […]

Arkansas Senate delays decision on possible sanctions for senator’s complaint

By: - September 16, 2022

The Arkansas Senate did not reach a decision Friday about whether to censure Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale) after he tried to present a case to his colleagues that the ethics complaint he filed against another senator was not “frivolous and retaliatory,” as the Senate Ethics Committee found last week. Senators did, however, vote unanimously to […]

Arkansas LGBTQ group cancels minor league baseball event after drag queen denied first pitch

By: - September 15, 2022

A Central Arkansas LGBTQ advocacy group canceled its participation in an Arkansas Travelers game Thursday after the team did not allow a drag queen to throw the first pitch, the organization said in a Facebook post. Central Arkansas Pride was set to host its second Out Days, in which members of the local LGBTQ community […]

Committee recommends suspension, demotion for senator for “frivolous and retaliatory” complaint

By: - September 9, 2022

State Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, faces several possible sanctions after the Senate Ethics Committee decided Friday that his complaint against Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, was “spurious, frivolous and retaliatory.” The committee met Sept. 1, Thursday and Friday, and members heard testimony and debated the complaint behind closed doors for a total of about 16 […]

Arkansas senators debate ethics complaint for 2nd day, decision expected Friday

By: - September 8, 2022

The Arkansas Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday again failed to reach a decision after its second hours-long, closed-door meeting on a complaint state Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, filed in August against another senator. The committee met for almost 10 hours on Sept. 1 to discuss the complaint in executive session before agreeing to table the […]