STATE NEWS DIGEST
Man wanted for murder in Searcy arrested in West Memphis
SEARCY — West Memphis Police cornered a Searcy man wanted for murder and made a quick arrest on Thursday morning. Police received a tip that 18-year-old Robert Hurd was hiding out at a relatives house in the 500 block of Parkway.
Searcy police wanted Hurd for capital murder, aggravated robbery, and theft of property after they alledged he shot 38-year-old Eric Kalas on Wednesday. Authorities said they found Kalas on the ground suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Kalas succumbed to his gunshot injuries at a Searcy hospital.
Searcy police had described Hurd as 5’10”, 120 pounds, armed and dangerous. For all the bravado evidenced at the murder scene, Hurd was found hiding, huddled in a West Memphis home. West Memphis Police Chief Robert Langston recapped the 8:00 a.m. arrest details.
“We received a tip as to his whereabouts,” said Langston. “Officers went to the home. There was no one outside. They knocked on the door and gained consent to search the house. They found him in a closet, but he was wearing a mask.”
Searcy police transported Hurd from Crittenden County later in the morning.
Southland reopens under ‘Play it Safe’ guidelines
WEST MEMPHIS — Southland Casino Racing has implemented a comprehensive program for its reopening that features new health and safety standards aimed at helping keep guests and employees safe while slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The program, called Play It Safe, encompasses Southland’s new operating procedures, which have been re-engineered to minimize contact risk. It includes bolstered hygiene protocols to meet or exceed best-practice guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As part of this effort, the facility will undergo rigorous, ongoing cleaning and sterilization with Ecolab products, which are formulated to eliminate bacteria and viruses such as COVID-19 and will close nightly for a deep-cleaning of all public areas.
“The health and safety of guests and employees is above everything,” said David Wolf, president and general manager of Southland Casino Racing. “Throughout our temporary closure and during the development of the Play It Safe program, we have been working closely with state and local government officials and public health officers to ensure we are taking appropriate safety precautions.”
West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon noted the health precautions taken by the city’s biggest tax generator but thought it too soon to reopen anything to large
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“I am going to remain consistent,” said McClendon. “I’ve asked everybody from David Wolf at Southland on down to the smallest churches, to hold out until June first and then re-evaluate then. I understand the governor made the decision. I am glad about all the safeguards Southland planned to put in place.”
Southland announced key elements of the Play it Safe program include:
■ ■ Guests are asked to adhere to social distancing protocols while waiting to enter.
■ ■ All incoming guests will be added to a guest registry and their identity will be stored as a record of their visit.
■ ■ All guests will be required to wear a mask or other face covering during their visit.
■ ■ Temperature screening of guests takes place upon entering the facility.
■ ■ An on-site “Clean Team” equipped with Ecolab multi-surface cleaner and disinfectant to conduct ongoing sanitizing of all surfaces, dispensing hand sanitizer and spot cleaning slot machines and other surfaces on request.
■ ■ Social distancing protocols are in place throughout the facility.
■ ■ Touchless service and payment options are now available at food and beverage outlets.
■ ■ Hand-sanitizing stations have been added at the entrance and throughout the facility.
■ ■ Air exchange settings have been bolstered to optimize air quality within the facility.
■ ■ Some service offerings may be limited or unavailable to help maintain safe social distancing and health and safety guidelines.
■ ■ No smoking will be permitted within the facility, and designated smoking areas will be established and maintained outside of the building.
Employees will undergo comprehensive training on Play It Safe health and safety standards and are required to strictly adhere to Play It Safe policies and procedures, including rigorous sanitation and hygiene requirements. Employees take a health check, including a temperature screen, when they report to work and are required to wear masks while on duty.
Southland reopened on Monday at one-third capacity, per the state’s directive and will feature a reduced number of slots and no table games, live racing or sports betting. The Lucky North players club will have limited hours, and food and beverage options will also be limited, with the World Market Buffet closed. The casino’s hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Southland will continue to consult on its plans with the Arkansas State Racing Commission, the State of Arkansas and the Crittenden County Health Department.
Governor sets reopen date for bars as state COVID-19 deaths reach 100
FORREST CITY — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced that bars in restaurants, will be able to reopen on today. Hutchinson made the announcement during his daily COVID-19 update, which was held Monday at Forrest City while touring the prison there, where a coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a spike in positive cases in St. Francis County.
The reopening of what Hutchinson referred to as “free-standing” bars would come later.
“Those we want to give a little more time to,” Hutchinson said Monday. “To make sure they’re properly prepared and have the safety precautions in place. They will be allowed to open Tuesday, May 26th.”
Restaurants in the state were allowed to resume dine-in service last week with some restrictions, and Arkansas’ three casinos planned to reopen on Monday. The casinos at the Oaklawn horse track in Hot Springs, Southland dog track in West Memphis and Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff planned to reopen after the state approved their plans for enforcing new social distancing rules because of the virus.
Each of the casinos will be limited to one-third capacity and are enforcing other restrictions on games and hours.
It also was announced Monday that the state has had 100 deaths due to COVID-19.
Dr. Nate Smith, director and state health officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, said there have been 4,813 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, and that there are currently 77 hospitalizations.
Dr. Smith said there are currently 1,068 active COVID-19 cases, and that there have been 3,645 who have recovered from the virus.