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.

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 […]

Federal judge dismisses challenge to “failure to vacate” law after plaintiffs leave Arkansas

By: - August 25, 2022

A federal lawsuit challenging Arkansas’ criminal eviction statute, the only one of its kind in the nation, was dismissed Monday in light of the plaintiffs’ move to another state. The dismissal upholds a “draconian law” and allows the “discriminatory practice” of eviction for failure to pay rent to continue in Arkansas, according to a news […]

Boozman visits irrigation projects meant to preserve Arkansas groundwater

By: - August 25, 2022

Two water infrastructure projects decades in the making would make Arkansas farmers less reliant on one of the most-used aquifers in the state, officials said Wednesday after U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, visited both projects. The Bayou Meto and White River water management districts have each been digging canals and installing pipelines to transport surface […]

Federal, state authorities investigating northwest Arkansas police beating in viral video

By: and - August 22, 2022

The FBI is investigating possible civil rights violations after three northwest Arkansas law enforcement officers were shown in a viral video beating a man during an arrest in Crawford County on Sunday morning. Arkansas State Police is conducting a separate investigation into whether the officers’ use of force was justified. The Crawford County sheriff’s office […]

Committee promises American Rescue Plan funds to water and wastewater improvement

By: - August 19, 2022

Several water infrastructure projects will get a financial boost from federal COVID-19 relief funds after a state committee approved the allocation Thursday. $270 million from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, received in 2021, will be distributed among water and wastewater projects if the Arkansas Legislative Council approves the request, state Agriculture Secretary Wes […]

Arkansas DHS official chosen for Medicaid improvement fellowship

By: - August 18, 2022

Arkansas’ Medicaid director is one of six chosen from around the country to participate in the Medicaid Leadership Institute, a fellowship program that will help improve the state’s Medicaid programs and citizens’ health outcomes, according to a Thursday news release from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Dawn Stehle has worked for DHS since 2006 […]

AG sues Little Rock housing complex for unsafe conditions, deception of tenants

By: - August 18, 2022

The state of Arkansas filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a Little Rock apartment complex and its owner for allegedly violating city housing code and multiple state laws, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Wednesday. Rutledge’s office is investigating Big Country Chateau, a 151-unit complex on Colonel Glenn Road, and Apex Equity Group, the New Jersey-based […]

A counselor holds a pregnant woman's hands during a session.

Arkansas’ $1M pregnancy resource center grant untouched so far

By: - August 18, 2022

Arkansas’ crisis pregnancy centers so far have declined to apply for a new $1 million grant program created by the state Legislature to help fund their operations. The application period opened Aug. 1 and ends Aug. 26, but no one has applied for the money aimed at helping those facing unintended pregnancy and encouraging them […]

Arkansas Silver Haired Legislative Session to meet after pandemic hiatus

By: - August 17, 2022

Arkansas will hold its first Silver Haired Legislative Session since 2018 today and tomorrow, according to a news release from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The non-partisan mock legislative session at the Capitol allows senior citizen “delegates” from across the state to write, discuss and vote on legislation addressing issues to older Arkansans. State […]