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Residents of Jefferson County will have three different venues to observe fireworks and pyrotechnics Wednesday evening, but folks in several neighboring counties won’t have the same access unless they want to drive to Pine Bluff, White Hall or Redfield. Burn bans ordered because of dry conditions mean most can purchase fireworks nearer home, but can’t discharge bottle rockets and fire crackers legally.

The discharge of all fireworks outside of those shows remains prohibited under a burn ban ordered by Jefferson County Judge Mike Holcomb. The ban was extended to fireworks because of dry conditions and the potential danger from wildfires.

Burn bans in Grant and Cleveland counties specifically prohibit the discharge of fireworks as a safety measure, officials said.

To watch lots of fireworks on the Fourth of July, check out the amphitheater in Regional Park at approximately 9:05 p.m.; Bulldog Stadium at White Hall High School about 9 p.m.; or the baseball field at the Redfield’s F.P. Baugh Park about 9 p.m.

The Arkansas Forestry Commission has served notice that the discharge of any fireworks because of extremely dry conditions could result in a ticket to appear in a district court.

Safety first beats an appearance before a judge and the potential liability of starting a fire.

Jobless rate down

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Unemployment levels in Arkansas’ metropolitan fell in May from the same month in 2011, a report released at mid-week by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated.

The unemployment rate in the state’s six metropolitan areas fell, at the same time Arkansas’ statewide unemployment rate decreased from 8.1 percent to 7.3 percent. The six were among 331 of 372 that showed lower unemployment rates from a year earlier.

Closer to home, the Pine Bluff rate in May was 9.2 percent, down from 10 percent a year ago.

Crossover voters

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Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter should be receiving the names of more than 60 who may have voted illegally in the June 12 Democratic preferential primary runoff elections from the Jefferson County Election Commission. It will be up to prosecutor to determine if any charges will be filed.

An initial review of election records indicated some 65 voted illegally in the all-Democratic runoff after marking Republican ballots in the May 22 primary. That’s more than a big “oops” when a criminal penalty is involved.

It’s possible that the number of names might grow by another dozen or so.

Election officials plan to interview election workers to determine what might have occurred in leading to the crossover irregularities, including 16 at one polling site alone.

The credibility of our election process is too important to be darkened by “poll worker incompetence” or “honest mistakes by polling officials.”


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President Barack Obama is expected to sign a bill that could provide more work for the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson.

The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act was approved in a 92-4 Senate vote Tuesday and now goes the Oval Office for the president’s signature.

The legislation authorizes $25 million annually for the FDA to assess nanomaterials used in drugs and other products. NCTR is already equipped to conduct the scientific research, which would be paid for by industry user fees.