News Blitz: Feb. 15, 2021

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Freezing temperatures and additional snowfall will continue across our region. Road conditions are unsafe for travel as overnight and early morning temperatures continue to remain below freezing. Therefore, all Texarkana Arkansas School District campuses and offices will remain closed with plans to resume on Thursday, February 18. Tuesday and Wednesday will be virtual learning days for students. Please stay safe.
Due to inclement weather, all Farmers Bank & Trust branches will be closed Tuesday, February 16, 2021. The Farmers Bank & Trust Customer Contact Center will be open 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. They are available by calling 855-855-3268 or using the live chat option at MyFarmers.Bank. The MyFarmers iTeller ITMs will be open 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. To find an ITM location near you, please visit MyFarmers.Bank.

National News

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi security officials say rockets have struck outside Irbil international airport near where U.S. forces are based in northern Iraq, wounding at least two civilians and causing property damage. Three rockets Monday night hit the areas between the civilian airport in the Kurdish-run region and the nearby base hosting U.S. troops, the three security officials said. At least two civilians were wounded and material damage was caused to cars and other property, the officials said, without providing more details. No one immediately claimed responsibility. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Louisiana News

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Unusually cold temperatures and slippery road conditions prompted officials in the Deep South to urge people to stay home Monday. A winter storm that brought snow, ice and plunging temperatures across the southern Plains and caused a power emergency in Texas stretched its frigid fingers down to the Gulf Coast. Winter storm warnings blanketed most of Louisiana and Mississippi and extended into parts of Alabama. The National Weather Service is warning of the possibility of ice storms in the northwest corner of Alabama. In Georgia, officials predicted precipitation and overnight temperatures dropping into the 20s across the northern part of the state Tuesday.

Texas News

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas council that manages the majority of the state’s electricity has initiated rotating power outages amid a winter storm that’s dropped snow, ice, and temperatures. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is urging residents to reduce electricity. More than 2 million customers went without power for short periods Monday morning as officials worked to conserve energy. Snow is also falling across Arkansas and Oklahoma, with the governors of those states and Texas activating the National Guard to assist state agencies. Dozens of crashes were reported Sunday and hundreds of flights were canceled across the southern Plains as the states dealt with the impacts of the winter storm.

Arkansas News

Arkansas Reported 320 new cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas

The Arkansas Health Department added 320 new cases of COVID-19 in today’s update, and 3,445 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered.

“As we expected, testing was down yesterday and will probably be down today due to the weather,” Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “Please limit travel, keep yourself safe, and remember to take necessary precautions against COVID-19.”


UCF hires former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn to lead Knights

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Feb 15, 2021 3:03PM (GMT 21:03)

Central Florida has hired Gus Malzahn to be the Knights’ coach a little more than two months after he was fired by Auburn. Malzahn was 68-35 in eight years with the Tigers, never having a losing season and going 39-27 in the SEC. UCF lost both its athletic director and football coach to Tennessee last month. UCF hired Terry Mohajir as AD last week. Mohajir was the athletic director at Arkansas State during Malzahn’s one season at the Sun Belt school. UCF has been one of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference since joining the league in 2013.

Former NFL receiver Vincent Jackson found dead in hotel room

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Feb 15, 2021 4:33PM (GMT 22:33)

BRANDON, Fla. (AP) — Former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson has been found dead at a Florida hotel room, days after authorities spoke with him as part of a welfare check. There were no signs of trauma and the medical examiner’s office was looking into a cause of death. Sheriff’s officials said his family initially reported Jackson missing on Wednesday. Deputies tracked him down to a hotel in Brandon two days later, spoke with him and canceled the missing persons case. Jackson was then found dead Monday morning in his hotel room by a housekeeper. Jackson played for the San Diego Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was selected to the Pro Bowl three times.

Following is the Overall Top 10 boys high school basketball teams in Arkansas and the top five in Classes 6A, 5A, 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A as voted by a panel of sports media from around the state for the week ending February 13. Ranking is given with first-place votes received, records, total points and last week’s rankings:

1. Magnolia (11) 17-0 165 1
2. Bentonville (5) 18-1 148 3
3. LR Central (1) 18-4 141 2
4. N. Little Rock 13-1 133 4
5. Bryant 15-4 87 5
6. Jonesboro 16-3 82 7
7. LR Parkview (1) 15-2 73 7
8. Sylvan Hills 18-3 53 10
9. Maumelle 15-3 36 6
10. Marion 16-2 34 9

Others receiving votes: Blytheville 17, Fayetteville 11, Springdale Har-Ber 3, Bergman 1, LR Mills 1, Pine Bluff 1.

1. Bentonville (10) 18-1 78 2
2. LR Central (5) 18-4 75 1
2. N. Little Rock(3) 16-2 60 3
4. Bryant 15-4 37 4
5. Fayetteville 18-5 18 5

Others receiving votes: Springdale Har-Ber 2.

1. Jonesboro (9) 16-3 77 2
2. LR Parkview (5) 15-2 65 2
3. Sylvan Hills (2) 18-3 59 5
4. Maumelle (2) 15-3 33 1
5. Marion 16-2 30 4

Others receiving votes: Pine Bluff 4, Russellville 2.

1. Magnolia (18) 17-0 90 1
2. Blytheville 22-2 70 2
3. LR Mills 17-4 50 3
4. Farmington 17-4 34 4
5. Fountain Lake 22-2 17 5

Others receiving votes: Morrilton 4, Brookland 2, Southside-Batesville 2, Berryville 1.

1. Osceola (15) 16-2 87 2
2. Dumas (2) 12-2 59 1
3. Mayflower 17-2 48 3
(tie) Bergman (1) 25-4 48 4
5. Waldron 13-5 13 5

Others receiving votes: Manila 11, Baptist Prep 2, Newport 2.

1. Marianna (16) 11-1 86 1
2. Earle 14-1 57 2
3. Dierks (1) 21-2 46 3
4. Flippin (1) 27-4 41 4
5. Caddo Hills 24-3 34 5

Others receiving votes: Melbourne 2, Fordyce 1, Junction City 1, Tuckerman.

1. West Side Greers Ferry (15) 21-4 84 1
2. Nevada 15-4 47 3
3. Izard County 22-5 40 5
(tie) Bradley (1) 16-2 40 4
5. Marvel (2) 17-1 31 4

Others receiving votes: Viola 23, Ridgefield Christian 5.


Spurs-Pistons game postponed by coronavirus-related issues

UNDATED (AP) — Tuesday’s game between the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons has been postponed, marking the second time this month that the NBA has called off a game because of coronavirus-related issues.

The NBA announced Monday that the Spurs have someone who tested positive. That, combined with contact tracing, meant they would not have the league minimum of eight players available to begin a game.

The Spurs were without guard Quinndary Weatherspoon for Sunday’s game against Charlotte because of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Weatherspoon had played 10 minutes on Friday in Atlanta, then was flagged by the protocols over the weekend.


AP source: Cavs to sit Andre Drummond while pursuing trade

CLEVELAND (AP) — A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that the Cleveland Cavaliers will make center Andre Drummond inactive for upcoming games as they pursue a trade for him.

Drummond did not dress for Sunday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers and will continue to stay on the sideline. The person who spoke to the AP says there is “nothing imminent” on the trade front. The Cavs said Sunday that Drummond was out for “rest.” The Cavs have lost seven straight games and 11 of 13.

Drummond was a two-time All-Star with Detroit before he traded to Cleveland last year.

Elsewhere in the NBA:

— The Detroit Pistons say Blake Griffin will be out of the lineup while he and the organization work out a resolution on his future, a sign that the star forward’s days with the team could be numbered. Griffin, who turns 32 next month, came to Detroit in a trade during the 2017-18 season. The Pistons have made just one postseason appearance with him and have spent much of the last year overhauling their roster in earnest. Detroit is 8-19 this season, and Griffin has already missed seven games.

Big 12 alters 3 games due to winter weather travel issues

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Feb 15, 2021 2:58PM (GMT 20:58)

IRVING, Texas (AP) — The Big 12 Conference has altered three men’s basketball games on its schedule this week because of extreme winter weather in the southern Great Plains region that created travel issues. No. 12 Texas will play at No. 9 Oklahoma on Wednesday night after that game was pushed back from its scheduled Tuesday slot. The Longhorns’ game at Iowa State scheduled for Thursday has been postponed. TCU’s game at No. 15 Texas Tech won’t be played Tuesday night after previously being switched. The Red Raiders and Horned Frogs are still scheduled to play Thursday night in Fort Worth.


Gonzaga, Baylor sit atop AP Top 25; Kansas returns at No. 23

UNDATED (AP) — Gonzaga and Baylor lead an unchanged quartet atop The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll, while Kansas has returned to the rankings at No. 23.

Coach Mark Few’s Bulldogs received 59 of 64 first-place votes in the latest Top 25. Scott Drew’s Bears claimed the other five. Those two teams have been 1-2 in all 13 polls this season.

Michigan, Ohio State and Illinois rounded out the top 5. Kansas fell out of last week’s poll for the first time in 12 years but joined No. 24 Arkansas and No. 25 San Diego State as the week’s new additions. Oklahoma State, Purdue and Rutgers fell out of the rankings.



Virus-hit Boston College fires coach Jim Christian

BOSTON (AP) — Boston College has fired basketball coach Jim Christian with three weeks left in his seventh season.

The team is 3-13 and has struggled to fill out a lineup as COVID-19 protocols chipped away at the roster. Assistant Scott Spinelli will serve as interim head coach for the rest of the season. The Eagles have just one win in 10 Atlantic Coast Conference games.

Christian struggled to recruit top talent and supplemented his roster with graduate transfers who showed promise. But he couldn’t elevate the school from the also-rans of the ACC, and the Big East before it.



Williams against Halep in quarterfinal

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams goes up against Simona Halep in the Australian Open quarterfinals. It is their 12th meeting on tour in a matchup that dates to a decade ago. Williams leads the series 9-2 but Halep won their most recent showdown, 6-2, 6-2 in the 2019 Wimbledon final. The 39-year-old Williams is chasing her record-tying 24th major singles trophy.

Naomi Osaka goes up against Hsieh Su-wei. The 35-year-old Hsieh is the oldest woman to make her Grand Slam quarterfinal debut.

Eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic carries an abdominal muscle injury into his quarterfinal against 2020 U.S. Open runner-up Alexander Zverev. The other men’s match is 18th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov against 114th-ranked Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev.

In Monday action:

— Rafael Nadal advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 13th time. The No. 2-ranked Nadal closed his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over 16th-seeded Fabio Fognini with an ace.

— Top-ranked Ash Barty moved into the quarterfinals for the third straight year by beating Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-4.

— Jessica Pegula reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal by earning her first victory over an opponent ranked in the Top 10. The 61st-ranked American beat No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in three sets. Pegula now meets No. 22 Jennifer Brady in an all-U.S. matchup with a semifinal berth at stake. Brady defeated No. 28 Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 7-5.

— There will also be a one-nation men’s quarterfinal. Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev will play each other after advancing.

— No. 25 Karolina Muchova rallied from 5-2 down in the first set to upset 18th-seeded Elise Mertens 7-6 (5), 7-5.

— Ninth-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy pulled out of the Open before his fourth-round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas because of an abdominal injury. That allows the fifth-seeded Tsitsipas to move into the quarterfinals.



Marlins to allow small crowds

MIAMI (AP) — Small crowds at Marlins Park will be back this season. The attendance-challenged Marlins plan to allow fans at home games, although crowds will initially be limited to about 25% of capacity. That would mean a maximum of about 9,300 spectators in the 37,446-seat ballpark.

The Marlins, like the rest of MLB, didn’t allow fans during the 2020 regular season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Limited crowds were permitted for the postseason. In Derek Jeter’s first two years as CEO, the Marlins averaged about 10,000 fans in 2018 and 2019, worst in the majors.



Indians finalize Billy Hamilton’s minor league contract

CLEVELAND (AP) — Billy Hamilton has joined the Indians’ cluttered outfield competition. The free agent signed Monday with Cleveland, which will give Hamilton a chance to win a roster spot during training camp.

Hamilton agreed to terms on a minor league deal with a spring invitation last week. The contract was finalized after he completed medical tests.

Hamilton spent last season with the Cubs and Mets. He gives the Indians another option as they try to fix an outfield that hasn’t produced much in recent seasons. The 30-year-old Hamilton has 305 career steals over eight seasons with Cincinnati, Kansas City, Atlanta, Chicago and New York.

Elsewhere in the majors:

— Catcher Austin Barnes and the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers avoided a salary arbitration hearing when they agreed to a $4.3 million, two-year contract. Barnes gets a $300,000 signing bonus and salaries of $1.5 million this year and $2.5 million in 2022. The 31-year-old hit .244 with one homer and nine RBIs in 86 bats over 29 games during the pandemic-shortened season and batted .325 in the postseason with one homer and three RBIs. Barnes had been set for arbitration on Tuesday and was the last Dodgers player scheduled for a hearing.

— The Colorado Rockies will be taking a look at another first baseman after signing C.J. Cron to a minor-league deal with an invite to major league spring training. Cron, 31, hit .190 with four homers and eight RBIs in 13 games with Detroit last season. He was the 17th overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels in 2011 and has appeared in 686 career games with the Angels, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and the Tigers.



Shiffrin sets records with 6th gold, 9th overall at worlds

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin’s latest gold medal from the skiing world championships moved her past both Lindsey Vonn and Ted Ligety.

Shiffrin won the combined to give her a sixth gold and a ninth career medal from the worlds. She now leads Vonn at the top of the all-time list of American medalists and leads Ligety in terms of golds. Shiffrin says “I can’t wrap my head around it.” She is also among the main contenders in slalom and giant slalom later this week.

Marco Schwarz won the men’s combined to give Austria its third straight gold medal in the men’s events.



Michael Jordan gives $10M for North Carolina health clinics

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — A health care system announced Monday that basketball legend Michael Jordan is donating $10 million to launch two medical clinics in underserved communities near his North Carolina hometown.

Novant Health says the clinics are set to open in New Hanover County in early 2022. News outlets report that the gift marks one of the largest ever from the Basketball Hall of Fame athlete. Jordan previously gave $7 million to open clinics in Charlotte in 2019 and 2020.

Jordan grew up in Wilmington before going on to play at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill then later winning six championships with the Chicago Bulls.