Community Briefs March 30

Simmons sets earnings release date

Simmons First National Corp. is scheduled to release first quarter 2024 earnings prior to the market opening on April 24, according to a news release. Management will conduct a live conference call to review this information beginning at 9 a.m.

Interested parties can listen to the call by dialing toll-free 1-844-481-2779 (North America only) and asking for the Simmons First National Corp. conference call, conference ID 10187669. In addition, the call will be available live or in recorded version at simmonsbank.com under "Investor Relations." The recorded version will be available for at least 60 days.

DRA grant recipients include area group

Arkansas Rural Health Partnership of Lake Village was awarded $450,000 for the Arkansas Delta Advance: Emergency Medical Services Training Initiative, which will bring together nonprofit, education, health care, economic/workforce development, and industry/employers within the emergency medical services sector to meet critical workforce shortages.

The funding was part of the Delta Regional Authority's award of more than $10 million in investments toward 23 projects across Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee through the Delta Workforce Grant Program (DWP). Funding for this program was made possible, in part, by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden, according to a news release. Details: dra.gov.

Arkansas Rice has scholarship

High school juniors graduating in 2025 are eligible to apply for up to $17,500 in scholarship funding towards higher education. Arkansas Rice's "Rice Reps" is a five month program to help educate students about the rice industry while equipping them to act as advocates in their communities and on social media.

Reps actively participate in activities from May through September designed to teach students about rice farming and the importance of the Arkansas rice industry at home and abroad. They are also asked to attend four different exclusive, on-site experiences during the program to better understand the reach of rice in Arkansas.

Apply online prior to the April 5 deadline. For more information, visit https://www.arkansasrice.org/rice-reps or contact Becky Campbell at [email protected].

Area Agency tells menu

Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas is serving lunches from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays at the senior centers. Here's next week's menu:

Monday -- Barbecue on bun, baked beans, cole slaw, hot applesauce, and milk.

Tuesday -- Baked chicken, corn salad, broccoli, cake with glaze, and milk.

Wednesday -- Baked ham, holiday sweet potatoes, green beans, wheat roll, fruited Jell-O, and milk.

Thursday -- Swiss steak with gravy, cubed potatoes, peas and carrots, bread, fruit, and milk.

Friday -- Tuna salad sandwich, broccoli slaw, tomato wedges, lite lemon cheese cake, and milk.

Details: Strachota Senior Citizens Center, (870) 543-6323.

Entergy to decrease bills

Entergy Arkansas' low-cost power generation portfolio, along with lower gas prices last year, has allowed the company to decrease customer bills beginning with the April billing cycle.

An average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month will see a decrease of $10.01 in their total bills -- a 7.49% decrease. Commercial and industrial customers could see anywhere from a 1.6% to 17.7% decrease, depending on their customer usage profile, according to a news release.

The decrease was prompted by a lower fuel rate, known as the Energy Cost Recovery Rider (ECR), which is adjusted and passed on to customers. The redetermined ECR rate will decrease from $0.01883 per kWh to $0.00882 per kWh -- the lowest it has been in more than a decade.

Each year, the fuel rate adjusts either up or down, depending on changes in the cost of fuel used by Entergy Arkansas to generate electricity and wholesale prices paid for additional electricity. The new rate is effective until March of 2025, unless an interim adjustment is needed. It is reflected in the "Fuel and Purchased Cost" line item on monthly bills.

More than 71% of the total energy production in 2023 came from clean nuclear energy, while natural gas powered about 15% of our total energy production in 2023. In addition to Entergy Arkansas' three solar facilities currently in operation -- Stuttgart, Chicot and Searcy -- another 530 megawatts of new solar generation will be coming online this year -- Walnut Bend (100 MW), West Memphis (180 MW) and Driver Solar (250 MW). Construction of another 400 MW of solar expected to be completed next year.

The new ECR rate includes recovery of cost shifting from Entergy Arkansas net-metering customers. In this year's ECR calculations, Entergy Arkansas included $8.9 million in costs, which are being shifted to all customers because of private net-metering installations. Notably, these costs are only a portion of the overall costs that have been shifted to other customers as a result of net-metering.

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