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Tess Vrbin, Arkansas Advocate

Tess Vrbin, Arkansas Advocate

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.

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 […]

Arkansas legislators study solar power growth, net metering and recycling

By: - September 8, 2022

State lawmakers on Wednesday began weighing how to regulate Arkansas’ growing solar industry. During the four-hour hearing, legislators heard a range of at times conflicting views about the potential impacts and viability of solar energy and net metering. Representatives of utilities, the solar industry and environmental advocacy groups agreed that solar power can benefit Arkansas […]

Arkansas proposes move to clear developmental disability waitlist, allow in-home family care

By: - September 6, 2022

The state moved a step closer Tuesday to eliminating the waitlist for Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities who want to receive care at home, particularly from those closest to them. The state House and Senate Committees on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor reviewed a rule on Tuesday that would allow parents and legal guardians […]

Arkansas senators debate ethics complaint for hours with no outcome

By: - September 1, 2022

The Arkansas Senate Ethics Committee did not reach a decision Thursday after almost 10 hours of privately debating a complaint that state Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, filed earlier this month against another senator. The committee will meet again Sept. 8 at noon and resume deliberations for “as much time as necessary in order to get […]

Employment records show past problems, successes of 3 Arkansas officers in viral arrest

By: and - September 1, 2022

One of the officers involved in the now-viral beating of a suspect in northwest Arkansas was fired or forced to resign from two nearby law enforcement agencies over domestic problems. Another was counseled on two occasions for being too aggressive with inmates at the Crawford County jail, including a reprimand for striking an inmate in […]

Committee approves $60M to help struggling rural Arkansas hospitals

By: - August 31, 2022

Rural Arkansas hospitals at risk of permanently closing their doors should get short-term relief with $60 million of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, a state panel unanimously recommended Wednesday. Hospitals statewide saw less revenue over the past two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some are in “immediate jeopardy of […]

A pregnant woman on a couch talking to another person.

Arkansas groups seek more than $275,000 total from state fund aimed at encouraging birth

By: - August 29, 2022

This story was updated on Aug. 31, 2022. Twelve Arkansas pregnancy resource centers are among 16 groups that applied for a share of the state’s $1 million grant program created this year to help fund crisis pregnancy centers, adoption agencies and maternity homes. The other applicants include an adoption agency, a maternity care home, a […]

Farmers in 40 Arkansas counties can receive drought-related financial aid

By: - August 26, 2022

Farmers in more than half of Arkansas’ 75 counties can apply for federal funds to help them cope with the effects of ongoing drought conditions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday. The USDA declared a “primary natural disaster area” in 20 counties: Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clay, Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Independence, Izard, Johnson, Lawrence, Madison, […]

Arkansas Senate reviews complaint from disciplined senator

By: - August 26, 2022

The Senate Ethics Committee will take action next Thursday on a complaint that state Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, filed earlier this month against another senator. The committee met Friday morning to review documents pertaining to the complaint filed Aug. 18. Chairman Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, sent the meeting into executive session immediately, so the substance […]