Lawyers, doctors ask governor to stop execution

LITTLE ROCK — Groups of lawyers and mental health professionals want Arkansas’ governor to stop the scheduled execution of Jack Greene, saying the inmate is mentally ill.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he is reviewing Greene’s case.

Greene is scheduled to die Nov. 9 for the 1991 death of Sidney Burnett. Prosecutors say Greene beat Burnett with a can of hominy before slitting his throat and shooting him.

Twenty-eight mental health professionals sent Hutchinson a letter Wednesday saying that, after reviewing Greene’s file, they believe he suffers from “extreme mental illness.” The American Bar Association said execution might not be appropriate for Greene. In the spring, the lawyers’ group objected to Arkansas’ plan to execute eight men in 11 days. After judges stopped some executions, Arkansas put four men to death in eight days.

Chinese parts maker building plant in state

LITTLE ROCK — A Chinese company that makes machine parts for heavy equipment is spending $20 million to build a new manufacturing facility in northeast Arkansas that will employ 130 people.

Jonesboro Unlimited announced Wednesday that Hefei Risever Machinery Co. is building its new manufacturing plant at the Craighead Technology Park in Jonesboro. The facility will be the first in the United States for Risever, which operates out of Hefei, China. The facility is planned to have an annual production capacity of 18,000 tons of steel.

Risever makes machine parts for manufacturers that include Caterpillar, Volvo and Komatsu.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission said the project is receiving $1 million from a state incentive fund and a $100,000 training grant, in addition to payroll rebates and sales tax refunds.

Governor going on trade mission to China, Japan

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ governor is traveling to China and Japan next week to meet with business and government leaders in his third trade mission to Asia since taking office.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office on Wednesday said the governor is leaving Oct. 31 for the trip and will return Nov. 7. Hutchinson’s office said the governor will visit Hefei province to sign a formal memorandum of understanding with Risever, a Chinese company that announced plans Wednesday to spend more than $20 million to build a factory in Jonesboro that will employ 130 people.

Hutchinson’s said the cost of the trip for the state will be about $70,000. The eight-person delegation will include Hutchinson, Chief of Staff Alison Williams and Arkansas Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston.

Report: Arkansas immigrant kids likely to live in poverty

LITTLE ROCK — A children’s advocacy group is calling on Arkansas to enact policies making it easier for immigrant families to get access to work and education after a new report illustrating their economic struggles.

The report from the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation found that about 56,000 children from immigrant families in the state live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, corresponding with an income of about $40,000 for a family of three.

“I hope this is a wakeup call to lawmakers to make the investment, not only to immigrant kids but all kids here, to have the resources they need to succeed and lead Arkansas’ economy in the future,” said Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.

Huddleston said it’s difficult for a child living in poverty to be in good health or thrive emotionally, socially and physically.

“If kids are behind today, that means the state is less likely to have a workforce able to complete in the future in-state and globally,” said Huddleston. “They don’t have everything they need to succeed.”

Laura Kellams, Northwest Arkansas director for the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and other community leaders said the state can assist children by supporting pre-kindergarten and after-school programs. They also said higher education should be more affordable.