Our Heads in the Clouds, A Tour of HP in Conway & Fox 16 at 10 in Arkansas Business This Week

This week in Arkansas Business newspaper, we take a look at information technology in Arkansas, including a firm that quietly controls your every online interaction with Arkansas government:

The Arkansas Information Consortium runs Arkansas.gov and e-commerce for the state, a job it’s unlikely to give up anytime soon. We look at how they do it.

Guess what? Your operating system will be obsolete in 10 years. Where will you do your computing? On the Web, in the cloud. Mark Carter looks at the hows, pros and cons. Also: Think you’re ready for the cloud? Here’s some questions to ask yourself.

A Conway firm has launched a privacy app for your smartphone. Block unwanted calls, identify unknown callers and more.

A look inside the new HP operation in Conway.

The new news wars: Fox affiliate KLRT-TV, Channel 16 will debut its first 10 p.m. newscast next week.

Warren Stephens tells us about his print and online ad campaign for Stephens Inc., which aims to project the firm’s long-term thinking in a dicey economic environment.

KFSM-TV, Channel 5 has started a half-hour sports talks show on its digital channel. The show is hosted by veteran sports anchor Mike Irwin.

Gwen Moritz, frustrated woman, indeed.


Holding the Bag for the Turk Plant and More in This Week’s Arkansas Business

It’s Monday and time for the latest edition of Arkansas Business. This special edition focuses on utilities and includes the lists of the largest electric and natural gas companies in Arkansas. Among other highlights:

Jamie Walden examines the cases against Southwestern Electric Power Co.’s John W. Turk Jr. coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County and says that if Swepco loses its appeals, its customers in Arkansas and elsewhere could be on the hook for more than $876 million.

Another Twitter story! This time, our cousin the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal takes a look at the 140-character phenomenon in action among small businesses in Washington and Benton counties.

Also in the NWABJ, Rob Keys on Razorbacks’ coach Bobby Petrino’s $100,000 gift to the Razorbacks Foundation, believed to be the largest by a sitting coach in school history.

That decline in natural gas prices hasn’t curtailed drilling activity in the Fayetteville Shale Play in central Arkansas. Between 2007 and 2008, production and the number of wells drilled in the shale play region more than doubled.

Steve LaFrance, owner of USA Drug and twice the victim of embezzlement, is taking his latest alleged corporate thieves to civil court. Garret Sorensen; his wife, Katherine Sorensen; Katherine’s sister, Shannon Walters, already face federal charges.

Dillard’s Inc. of Little Rock is also going to court, taking several New York-based insurance firms to task for not paying up when. Its targets: two AIG subsidiaries.

Gary Lay isn’t the only Arkansas Mad Man who had problems with the Arkansas Lottery Commission’s advertising RFP. Mangan Holcomb also took a pass after reading the document. Meanwhile, The Natural Brands insists it’s going to continue to pursue advertising business in Arkansas.

We all know most newspapers would love to go back in time and live and in a world before the Internet. Now, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in northwest Arkansas has managed to travel back in time to 2007 — at least in terms of its circulation numbers!

KFSM-TV, Channel 5, continues to be the TV news ratings leader in northwest Arkansas, according to data compiled by Nielsen Media Research.

Former Alltel Execs Start New Ventures & The Recession and Arkansas Companies in This Week’s Arkansas Business

Difficulties at the printer delayed the mailing of this week’s Arkansas Business newspaper. But you can find the complete edition online in its usual spot, or here in this virtual print edition. Among this week’s stories:

Executives of Alltel Corp. of Little Rock aren’t sitting on their wealth. Several are launching news ventures, Scott and Joe Ford among them.

The recession has been mixed for Arkansas public companies. While Wal-Mart and Murphy Oil have fared well, transportation companies like JB Hunt have taken it on the chin. Here’s a look at how Arkansas public companies performed.

In case you haven’t heard, something’s up at Affiliated Foods. Sale, merger, bankruptcy, whatever — more signs of activity as Affiliated goes after members with past due bills and credit lines.

KLRT makes it a three-way tie for key demos in the Little Rock TV news race in March. (And in northwest Arkansas, KFSM reigns supreme.)

Vincent Insalaco’s “War Eagle, Arkansas” film gets some additional distribution ahead of its June 12 opening in Little Rock.

Publisher Jeff Hankins considers another Democratic administration’s attempt to fix health care and underlines what issues must be addressed.

In his second recent commentary for Arkansas Business, Stephens Inc. COO Curt Bradbury, speaking as a Bank of America shareholder, wants the government to leave BOA alone so it can earn its way out of this mess.

THV Tweets, Plus More Arkansas Twitter Noobs

Here it is, another in our series of ongoing updates on the ever-expanding Arkansas Twittersphere. See our barely organized, unofficial Official Arkansas Twitter Guide here. And below, for your consideration, are the latest Tweeps to blast into the ‘sphere:

Today’s THV: Latest local news headlines from our partners at the Gannett-owned Little Rock CBS affiliate.

Johnathan Powell, the #tweetjuror: The infamous Tweet Juror, as if you didn’t already know.

Jeff Matthews, B98.5: Your morning drive-time friend!

Southwest Times Record: Proudly joining the ranks of Arkansas newspapers on Twitter.

Kevin Kelly, Fox 16 Anchor: K², weeknight anchor for the Little Rock Fox affiliate, gets his feet wet. No Tweets as of yet, though!

Jeremy Baker, Fox 16 Weather: WX updates from Fox 16.

Rick Bagley, news director, KFSM:  Rick’s still learn’. Hopefully the tweets are coming soon.

Morning News: Twittering Juror Prompts Request for New Trial



Update IV: The Morning News’ Christopher Spencer, who broke the story, follows up here40/29 TV in northwest Arkansas talks to Powell (vide0)Attorney Drew Ledbetter and Powell talk to KNWA-TV in northwest Arkansas about the case (video)KFSM-TV’s story hereThe Democrat-Gazette catches up here, with info on how the tweets were discovered

Update III: Spencer has updated his story, which has since been picked up by the AP, with new information in the aftermath of Powell’s delayed meeting with the judge. Meanwhile, the Fayetteville Flyer has published its interview with Powell, who says he wasn’t trying to shake up the legal system with all this crazy Twitterin’.

FF: When you wrote the above messages, did you even consider that any of this might happen?
JP: Not at all. I paid very close attention at the trial and followed all of their rules. I even took like twenty pages of notes! I was not trying to shake up the system here. I was just doing what I do every day.

Also: We asked when Johnathan might get his own hashtag. Ask and ye shall receive. Kudos to @abartlett for setting up #tweetjuror

Update II: Powell is back from the courthouse. He says the judge wouldn’t see him without all lawyers involved present. Also:Bailiff to Judge’s Assistant, ‘This is the one who…tweets.'”

Update: The Associated Press picks up the story

Original Item:

Twitter, quite possibly the Best Thing in the World or maybe the most inane (depends!) is now affecting our judicial system! This, according to this story from The Morning News by Christopher Spencer, himself a Twitterer:

FAYETTEVILLE — A defendant who must cough up $12.6 million in a civil suit asked for a new trial Thursday because a juror used Twitter to talk about the case during the proceedings.

The juror — identified as “Juror Jonathan” — was not a fair and impartial juror and did not abide by the oath administered to him by the court. He researched information about the case and communicated with nonjury members, allege defendants Russell Wright and Stoam Holdings.

A new trial is warranted, the motion states. The motion was filed by attorney Drew Ledbetter of Fayetteville.

“Oh and nobody buy Stoam. Its bad mojo and they’ll probably cease to Exist, now that their wallet is 12m lighter. http://www.stoam.com” the juror posted from his Twitter account during the trial, according to the motion.

The juror in question is Johnathan Powell. You can follow him here, where he’s linked to The Morning News story. We see from this update that he’s apparently got a date with the judge this morning.

Surely, he and the judge will discuss some of the offending (illegal?) Tweets, which we display after the jump.

Continue reading

Pondering Arkansas’ Puzzling Jobs Picture

Earlier this afternoon, I did a quick interview with KFSM-TV, Channel 5, in northwest Arkansas, the local CBS affiliate, on the region’s jobs outlook and the puzzlement over some metropolitan unemployment numbers ArkansasBusiness.com and others reported on Tuesday.

According to the unemployment story, by ArkansasBusiness.com reporter Mark Hengel

Arkansas’ six metropolitan areas once again have shown better year-over-year employment statistics than the rest of the nation.

For the second month in a row, Jonesboro’s unemployment rate fell more than any area in the nation.

The city’s unemployment rate in October clocked in at 4.3 percent, compared with 4.9 percent for the same period a year ago. In all, five of Arkansas’ metropolitan areas fell in October when compared with the October 2007 numbers, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data (PDF).

This raised eyebrows among many, considering all we’re hearing about recession and job cuts (particularly the loss of 350,000 jobs nationwide coming Friday). It seems especially unbelievable in Fort Smith, which has been rocked by numerous layoff announcements, including two today.

The biggest of those has been Whirlpool, which announced in September that it will lay off 700 of its 2,100 workers beginning in November. Others announcing layoffs include Riverside Furniture (250 by January) and Jarden Process Solutions (93 also by January).

So why these numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that show sunny times in Arkansas? We think it over after the jump.

Continue reading