by De Queen Mayor Billy Ray McKelvy
November 22, 2017
Americans celebrate Thanksgiving this week, a holiday that originated with the Pilgrim settlers in the New World, but today has many meanings, from football to start of the shopping season.
President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving holiday in 1863 and set it for the last Thursday in November. President Franklin Roosevelt changed it to the fourth Thursday in November to have a longer shopping season.
Here’s a look at some Thanksgiving numbers.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 118.9 million occupied housing units in the United States where Thanksgiving might be celebrated. Some 4.6 million of those households include three or more generations.
Four places in the country have “turkey” in the name and four places are named for “cranberry.”
U.S. farmers produced 244.8 million live turkeys last year, up 4.5 percent from the year before.
Americans produced 859 million pounds of cranberries and 3.1 billion pounds of sweet potatoes last year.
Pilgrims and Native Americans were present at the first Thanksgiving. Today, 23.1 million Americans are of English ancestry and possibly descendants of the Pilgrims. There were 6,500 members of the Wampanoag tribe in the 2010 census, half of whom live in Massachusetts.
The Arkansas Farm Bureau, in its 32nd annual unofficial survey, has found the cost for a traditional Thanksgiving meal for 10 people is $44.58 this year, down 26 cents from the previous year. That’s less than $5 per person.
In the Farm Bureau survey, the cost of turkey, pumpkin pie mix, green peas, carrots and celery are higher this year. Prices for whole milk, sweet potatoes, rolls and cranberries are down this year.
November 8, 2017
Day, which is coming up Saturday, originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11,
1919, the first anniversary marking the end of World War I.
Congress passed a resolution in 1926 calling for an annual observance and Veterans Day became a national holiday in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 changing the name to Veterans Day and honoring those who served in all American wars.
Here’s a look at veterans by the numbers, as provided by the U.S. Census.
· There were 18.8 million military veterans in the U.S. in 2015.
· 1.6 million veterans are female.
· Ethnically, 78.3 percent of veterans are non-Hispanic white, 11.6 percent are African-American and 6.4 percent are Hispanic.
· The annual median income for veterans is higher than that of non-veterans.
Closer to home, the U.S. Census estimates there were 1,055 veterans in Sevier County in 2015. Only 40 World War II veterans were counted that year.
Although Veterans Day falls on Saturday, Nov. 11, the City of De Queen will be closed in observance of Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 10. The sanitation department will observe the holiday on Monday, Nov. 13. Trash routes will not be changed this week. However Monday and Tuesday routes will be run one-day late next week.
November 1, 2017
The project to install an automated meter reading system for the city’s water department is virtually complete.
Quantities are being tallied for the final payment to the installation contractor. Earlier this month, the water department used the system to read every automated meter in the system in about two hours. Previously, it would have taken four employees five days to do the job. During bad weather, the process took even longer.
The system should be ready for a good test this week when meters are read.
Customers can still read their water meter by lifting the meter cover and waiting for the solar panel to light up. If there is not enough available light, you can shine a flashlight on the LCD panel to activate it.
The new meters record a reading every 15 minutes during the day. Water employees can extract that data using a data logging device which will display hourly readings. These can be displayed on a tablet computer and shared with the customer, or saved in a computer file and printed or e-mailed.
The data log has been useful in detecting leaks. In some cases, workers could show customers when water was used, which is helpful in understanding an unusual bill.
The new system uses Neptune brand water meters.
October 25, 2017
Do you need to do some energy efficiency projects before winter? Maybe add attic insulation, or some crack sealing to prevent air infiltration?
If so, customers of AEP-SWEPCO have help available at little or no cost.
SWEPCO officials have announced that they are still offering the GridSmart program which has incentives for residential customers, as well as small business, commercial and industrial users.
The Arkansas Public Service Commission directs electric utilities to set aside funds each year for energy conservation. SWEPCO has about $6 million each year for the project.
Here are some highlights of the program:
Residential customers can use the Home Performance with Energy Star program to have these energy-saving measures done at no cost: air and duct sealing, additional insulation, low-flow shower heads and LED lights. SWEPCO certified contractors will do the work.
For bigger projects, such as air conditioners, Energy Star windows and appliances, the utility offers incentives, but these are not fully funded.
For small business, a contractor will assess the potential savings from projects such as lighting upgrades. After utility approval, the contractor will install the energy-saving measures within 60 days. Customers will receive an incentive payment equal to 16 cents per kWh, up to 90 percent of the project cost.
For large customers such as commercial and industrial users, qualified projects will be reimbursed 14 cents for kWh of savings. Eligible projects include lighting, HVAC, air compressors, motors and PC power management.
For more information, SWEPCO customers can call 1-888-266-3130 or log on to SWEPCOgridSMART.com.
October 18, 2017
Law enforcement agencies across the state will be
collecting old or expired prescription drugs on Saturday as part of the 14th
annual National Drug Takeback Event on Saturday, Oct. 28.
De Queen and Sevier County officers will be operating the take-back site in front of the Wal-Mart Store on East Collin Raye Drive.
A permanent take-back site is located at the Sevier County jail on Robinson Road. It is available any time during business hours.
Unused prescription medicine, especially opioid pain killers, can be a temptation for some. They pose a risk of accidental poisoning for children and senior citizens.
Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the U.S., exceeding vehicle fatalities. In Arkansas, 1,067 people have died from a drug overdose in a three-year span.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Arkansas’ prescription rate is 114.6 prescriptions for every 100 people. Sevier County had a lower rate of 65.5 prescriptions per 100 people. You can see the prescription rates for every county in the United States at this link: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/maps/rxcounty2016.html
At Halloween time, parents worry about trick-or-treats that have been tampered with. But a greatest danger to children may be lurking in the medicine cabinet. The Prescription Take-Back event is a way to reduce that risk.
October 11, 2017
The district engineer for the Arkansas Department of Transportation (formerly known as the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, reviewed highway projects in Sevier County and described the need for highway funding for the De Queen Lions Club last week.
The department is busy now putting a new surface on U.S. 70 west of De Queen to the Oklahoma line. The work is described as pavement preservation.
Here are some other local projects in the 2016-2020 highway plan:
· Bridge over Saline River on U.S. 70 east of De Queen, 2019
· Bridge over Johns Branch on U.S. 71 south of Lockesburg, 2019
· Bridge over Burke Creek and Cossatot Relief on U.S. 70-71, now underway
· Major widening of U.S. 71 east of De Queen to Cossatot River, 2018
· A new bridge over Little River on Ark. 41 south is also underway.
Sevier County is fortunate to have several highway projects in the pipeline. Although these projects are budgeted, future highway projects will be determined by funding.
The highway department estimates $20 billion in highway needs over the next decade while expected revenue amounts to $3.6 billion.
A state panel is studying the need for highway funding. The Transportation Department is also telling its story to inform the public of the need and see what revenue measures the voters will support. A solution will likely include a combination of several sources, such as taxes on fuel, vehicle registration fees, a sales tax on fuel at the wholesale level or a bigger share of the existing sales tax.
If you would like to give your opinion on the situation, a poll is available online at the highway department web site: www.arkansashighways.com. Survey forms are also available from the highway department.
October 4, 2017
Next week is fall clean-up week in the City of De Queen. Clean-up weeks are held two times per year to give residents a chance to clean their property at the change of seasons.
The city will assist by collecting large items such as furniture or appliances, as well as brush and trees. Last year the sanitation department purchased a grapple truck to keep up with the demand for brush removal. Brush pickup day is usually on Wednesday.
Sanitation crews do not patrol the city looking for brush. Instead, they use a work order system, so you must call city hall to request brush pickup.
Because of past abuse of the service, brush collection is not unlimited. The City will pick up one 24-yard truck load two times per year at no cost. One truck load will accommodate an average size tree. If the customer has more than one load, there will be a $50 charge for each additional load.
Also during clean-up week, old electronics and unused paint will be collected at the fire station. Old electronics such as computers, televisions and phones -- called e-waste -- is transported to the Federal Correctional Institute in Texarkana to be recycled by inmates.
If you have old electronics, you do not have to wait for clean-up week. There is an e-waste collection trailer at the Sevier County Airport west of De Queen. It is open Tuesday morning, Thursday afternoon and all-day on Saturday. There Items collected there are also sent to Texarkana for recycling.
Recycling containers for paper and plastics are available at the Sevier County jail every day.
Cleaning up our community will require everyone to do their part. Everyone who is concerned about the appearance of the community will have to help with things like litter control, regardless of who caused the problem.
September 27, 2017
A monster threatening the city of London is part of a problem that plagues all municipal waste water system.
Recently, London officials announced the discovery of a giant “fatberg” in the city’s financial district. The “berg” is a rock-solid conglomeration of fat, disposable wipes, diapers and personal care products. The mass is one-sixth of a mile long and weighs 140 tons, 10 times bigger than the record blob discovered in 2013. Clearing it is expected to take three weeks.
The problem is not unique to London. New York has spent millions of dollars on problems caused by disposable wipes. Unlike toilet paper, wipes do not break down in water. When these items combine with fat and grease, they form a “super knot” that clogs pipes and jams pumps.
Some wipes are marketed as disposable. Even though they can be flushed, it’s not a good idea.
De Queen’s waste water system is no exception. Clogs are usually discovered when responding to a sewer spill. A high-pressure stream of water is used to break up the blockage so it will flow downstream.
To keep the drains flowing and prevent nasty spills in your neighborhood, remember these tips:
· Never flush wipes down the drain, even if the label says they are “flushable.”
· Keep fats, oils and grease (FOG) out of the drains.
· Collect cooking grease in cans and dispose of in the household trash.
· When washing dishes, wipe grease from pans first to limit what goes down the drain.
If you think it doesn’t matter, remember the “fatberg.”
September 20, 2017
The project to upgrade water meters to an automated
meter reading system is nearing the end.
About 2,300 water meters were replaced during the project. A few meters are being swapped out for different sizes. When the correct meters are available, the contractor will be able to finish the project.
The system is already beneficial. On Sept. 1, water employees used the system to read over 1,500 meters in two and one-half hours, a process that would have taken three or four days to do manually.
So far, the range has been impressive with the receiver reading some meters up to one-half mile away.
After the project is completely finished, the contractor and city water workers will go back over the routes to look for any problems that might not have been resolved during the installation.
The new Neptune brand meters have a solar-powered digital display. Customers can still read their water meter. If the display does not show up, shine a light on the solar panel and it will display the reading. With specialized equipment, the meters can also provide detailed report showing water usage by day or by hour. The report can also detect if the customer has a water leak.
On a different subject, remember that fall clean-up week has been scheduled for Oct. 9-13. Make plans now to clean your property. City crews will help with big item pickup. Old electronics and unused paint will be collected at the fire station during clean-up week.
September 13, 2017
Here are a few reminders about upcoming events around town.
The annual mass flu clinic for Sevier County has been scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the Sevier County Health Unit, 304 N. 4th St., in De Queen.
If you have health insurance, the Health Department will ask your insurance company to pay for the cost of the flu shot. If you do not have health insurance, or insurance does not pay, the flu shot will be provided at no cost.
You can speed up the process by completing paperwork ahead of time and signing the consent form. Forms are available at the front counter at De Queen City Hall and at the County Judge’s office in the courthouse. On the day of the flu shots, make sure you have a photo ID and your insurance card. Also remember to wear a short sleeve shirt.
Medical offices and pharmacies around the county are also advertising that they have flu vaccine available.
On a different subject, the annual fall clean-up week has been scheduled for October 9-13. The city schedules clean-up campaigns each spring and fall to encourage residents to clean their property at the change of seasons. City crews will collect big items such as old furniture and appliances during clean-up week. Unused paint and old electronics will be collected at the fire station.
If any city resident has brush to be collected, you must call City Hall to request service. Employees operate on a work order system and they must have a ticket to know the location. The phone number at City Hall is 870-584-3445.
September 6, 2017
A wet summer has been good news for farmers and firefighters, but some constructions projects that need dry weather are behind schedule.
The street department has been busy for the last week cleaning ditches so that surface water can drain away when it rains.
Normal rainfall is about 55 inches per year. De Queen has received 47.92 inches of rain as of September 1, almost a year’s worth of rain in eight months.
This week the street department is working on the drainage ditch between Wallace and Collins Avenue. Last week, they cleaned the ditch in the area of Ninth Street and Maple Avenue. There are several other trouble spots that need attention. Because these ditches are in low areas, it has to be dry to support the weight of equipment.
Now that the rain has slowed up, the street department is catching up on drainage work. But there are a lot of other outdoor projects that need to be done before fall.
On a different subject, mosquito larvacide tablets are still available at City Hall at no charge. These were provided by the Arkansas Department of Health. Each card contains 12 tablets that can be used to treat standing water where mosquitoes might lay eggs. Each tablet can treat up to 50 gallons of water and last for 90 days. You can ask for these tablets at the front counter at City Hall.
August 28, 2017
Sevier County residents have
been asking for ways to help the people of Houston, Texas affected by Hurricane
The disaster is still unfolding as the rain continues. The need for help may not be fully realized for weeks.
De Queen City Hall has had several calls from people wanting to help. Here is an update on the local situation as of Tuesday morning.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management has two locations on standby for possible evacuee centers, to be operated by the Red Cross, if needed. The two sites are at Second Baptist Church in Arkadelphia and First Baptist Church in Malvern.
The Salvation Army in De Queen will accept cash donations which are forwarded to their headquarters for disaster relief. The Arkansas-Oklahoma division of the Salvation Army has dispatched 42 mobile kitchens, each of which can serve 1,500 meals per day.
If you want to help a specific group, Texas Monthly magazine has a list of charities that will assist groups such as the homeless or pet owners. Here is a link: http://www.texasmonthly.com/.
Contributions can be made to the Red Cross and many churches have charitable efforts.
The Salvation Army recommends a financial donation to your charity of choice as the best way to help. Cash is flexible, it can be used immediately and allows organizations to purchase exactly what is needed. Buying supplies near the affected area reduces transportation and supports local economies that have been affected by the disaster.
August 23, 2017
A new sanitation ordinance increased monthly rates
slightly, but also established some new rules for the waste collection system.
The sanitation department still collects yard waste such as bagged leaves or small sticks but pickups will be made one time per month. There will be a $20 fee for each additional pickup. Leaves must be bagged.
City crews will collect brush, but it is not unlimited. There is no charge for one 24-cubic yard truck load once every six months. If customers have more than one truck load, there will be a $50 charge for each additional load. An average-size tree should fit in one truck load. In the past, some situations have been abusive with crews hauling many loads of brush cut by a contractor.
The sanitation department usually collects brush and yard waste each Wednesday, unless there is a holiday during the week. Service on a specific day is not guaranteed. Crews are dispatched using a work order system. If you have brush, you must call City Hall to get on the list.
The city will not collect brush cut by a contractor who was paid for the work. Contractors should make arrangements for brush disposal.
Finally, the new ordinance makes it unlawful for the public to put trash in dumpsters paid for by businesses. This is a headache for many local businesses who pay for dumpsters, only to find they have been filled up by free riders. Anyone caught using a dumpster not their own can be fined up to $500.
August 16, 2017
For those who are concerned about mosquitoes, the City
of De Queen has received a supply of larvacide tablets that can be used to treat
The product, brand name Natular DT, comes in packages of one dozen tablets. The tablets were supplied by the Arkansas Department of Health as part of the campaign to control mosquitoes which can cause the Zika virus.
Each tablet contains a two-stage larvacide which can last up to 60 days. One tablet will treat up to 25 square feet of water surface area up to 6 inches deep, or about 50 gallons of water. Typical application sites are bird baths, fish ponds, water gardens, rain barrels, roof gutters, drums, buckets and trash cans and any receptacle that holds water.
The product works to kill larvae and prevent mosquitoes from hatching. The active ingredient is derived from a naturally-occurring soil organism. It can be used as a preventive treatment by putting tablets in places that may fill with water after rain.
The larvacide tablets are at no cost to anyone who would like to treat for mosquitoes. They are available at the front counter at De Queen City Hall.
The City of De Queen has a mosquito spraying program that covers the city each week. In addition, city workers treat standing water in selected areas with a larvacide to prevent mosquitoes.
August 9, 2017
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has scheduled a public meeting next month regarding the widening of U.S. 70-71 East of De Queen.
The public involvement meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 14, at Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, 802 E. Vandervoort Ave. The meeting will be in the church fellowship hall. Hours are 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The project will involve major widening of U.S. 70-71 from De Queen east to the Cossatot River. The job, which has been given number 030026, is included in the 2016-2020 State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP). The project is expected to be funded in 2018.
Any interested person will be able to review the highway department plans and ask questions.
Here are the other Sevier County projects which are included in the 2016-2020 STIP and the year:
· Burke Creek and Cossatot Relief bridges and approaches, (now underway).
· U.S. 70 overlay from the Oklahoma State Line to Ark. 339, 2017.
· Saline River Bridge and approaches over U.S. 70, 2019.
· Johns Branch Bridge and approaches over U.S. 71, 2019.
Construction of a new bridge over Little River on Ark. 41 south of Horatio at the Sevier-Little River County line is already underway.
The complete State Transportation Improvement Plan is available on the Highway Department web site at www.arkansashighways.com
August 2, 2017
The city swimming pool in Herman Dierks Park has been
having a successful season. Total revenue for the pool so far has been $18,803.
That includes daily admissions, parties, swimming lessons and season passes.
Parties have been especially popular this year.
While revenues are up, the pool is not a break-even operation. Total operating budget for the pool this year is $74,122. The biggest expense is wages.
August 19 is the last day for public swim at the pool.
The city’s new sanitation ordinance went into effect this month and the new rates are reflected on the August utility bills.
A few reminders are in order about the brush and yard waste pickup. Yard waste such as leaves and sticks cannot be mixed with household trash. This is a state regulation intended to extend the useful life of landfills. The city will pick up yard waste one time per month. If a customer wants more service, there will be a $20 fee for each additional pickup.
Brush and trees will be picked up but it is not unlimited. The first 24-yard truck load will be picked up at no cost. Each additional truck load will be $50 per load. The free pickup will be available once every six months. The fee will give some control in situations where the amount of brush is excessive. City employees will advise the homeowner if the load will be enough to incur an extra charge.
Tree cutters who are paid for their work should be prepared to haul their own brush as part of the deal.
July 19, 2017
A new city ordinance requires all buildings in the City of De Queen to display their 911 address.
Having the numbers properly displayed makes it easier for emergency responders and delivery drivers to find an address.
The ordinance states that numbers should be placed so they can be seem plainly from the street. If the building is not easily seen from the street, the numbers should be placed near the walk, drive or entrance. Numbers painted or stenciled on the curb or mailbox are permitted, but are not a substitute for the display of address numbers.
For residential structures, numbers should be at least three inches in height. On non-residential buildings, numbers should be at least six inches in height. Numbers shall be made of a durable and clearly visible material.
Failure to display your address numbers is punishable by a fine of $50 to $150. However, the city will make an effort to see that every property owner can comply. The De Queen Fire Department will soon be contacting residents who do not have their house numbers displayed and offer to help. The fire department will even provide numbers if the resident is unable to do so.
July 12, 2017
The City of De Queen has an ordinance to regulate
door-to-door solicitation within the city limits.
Ordinance 927 was adopted in 2007 and it requires anyone selling goods or services by calling on private residences to obtain a permit from City Hall. Each person must have a permit and companies with more than one agent may get a corporate permit. The cost is $100 for individuals or $250 for company or corporate permits.
The city staff collects basic information such as names, addresses and phone numbers. Vendors must have all of the necessary licenses or health certificates needed to sell their product. Permits are good for one year.
Each solicitor must have a permit and is required to show it, if requested.
The ordinance states that sales calls cannot be made before 9 a.m. or after 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is unlawful to solicit business any time on Sunday.
There are two exceptions to the ordinance. No permit is required for state residents to sell fruits, vegetables or farm products which are grown in the state on land controlled by the vendor. No permit is required for charitable, educational or religious organizations which operate on a not-for-profit basis.
The ordinance provides for a maximum $500 fine in case of violations.
Anyone approached by a solicitor at their home may ask to see the city permit. If they have questions or experience a problem, they may contact the De Queen Police Department.
July 5, 2017
The National Night Out program, a nation-wide crime and
drug-prevention event, will be back on August 1, at the Hwy. 70 West Sportsplex
in De Queen.
The event, sponsored by the De Queen Police Department and Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, seeks to develop stronger relationships between the community and law enforcement agencies. Sheriff Robert Gentry organized the first event last year to provide the public with an opportunity to get to better know its peace officers.
Several thousand people attended the first event last. Officers gave away hot dogs and schools supplies. Vendors from the community provided activities and information about their services. About 30 exhibitors are expected this year. They will be set up around the park.
All events are free.
For more information, contact Dana Gentry at 279-0499 or Beth Hughes at 642-2213. There is also a social media page. Just search for second annual Sevier County National Night Out.
On a different subject, the project to install new water meters began last week, although rainy weather and a holiday weekend have interrupted the project. About 100 meters have been installed so far. Water customers may notice contractors working on their property around the water meter. Water service will be interrupted briefly while the meter is changed out. For more information, contact De Queen City Hall at 870-584-3445.
June 28, 2017
De Queen water customers may see some extra activity in the coming weeks as contractors prepare to install new meters for every customer in the system.
Bids were opened in late May and a committee selected a system that utilizes Neptune brand meters. The meters are expected to arrive this week and the contractor may begin installing them by the weekend.
The AMR system will be a big time saver for the water department. Presently, it takes four employees about five days to read 2,350 water meters. That’s the equivalent of three months out of every year spent on reading meters. In bad weather, it may take longer. In case of a water leak, employees may have to stop reading meters to fix a leak.
Reading meters is labor intensive and there is an opportunity for error when transcribing numbers.
The AMR system that De Queen is getting is a “drive-by” system. One employee driving a specially-equipped pickup can read meters at highway speed and finish in less than one day. With the addition of radio collectors, the system can be upgraded in the future to a fixed-base system that can read meters from city hall with a computer command.
Employees in the water department are excited about a system that will be faster and more accurate and save time.
If you have any questions about the new meter system, please contact De Queen City Hall or ask any water department employee.
June 21, 2017
Visitors in the downtown De Queen area may have noticed
some activity around the Kansas City Southern Railroad tracks.
The railroad has announced plans to spend $24.6 million on rail and cross tie improvements from Neosho, Mo. to Blanchard, La. The project includes replacing 7.7 miles of rail and 90,000 cross ties, as well as improvements to over 130 road crossings.
Some of those crossing upgrades will be in the City of De Queen. The crossing on Stilwell Ave. (U.S. 70B) is scheduled to be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, June 27 and 28. The Red Bridge Road crossing will be closed on Tuesday, June 27. The crossing on south Fourth Street (Ark. 41B) is scheduled to be closed on Thursday, June 29.
Other Sevier County crossings scheduled for maintenance include Ladd Bridge Road, Bear Creek Cutoff Road and Ark. Hwy. 24.
All of the closures will be for one day, except for the Stilwell Ave. and Ark. 24 crossings, which will be two days. Motorists might want to take an alternate route to avoid delays.
On a different subject, the city’s annual Let Freedom Ring celebration will be on Saturday, July 1, at the Hwy. 70 West Sportsplex. This is a change. In past years, the celebration has been held on July 3. Make plans now to celebrate Independence Day on Saturday, July 1, in De Queen.
June 14, 2017
The 2017 street program for the City of De Queen should be starting this week.
This year, the City of De Queen will be participating in the State Aid for City Streets program, in which the Highway Department will provide $250,000 worth of asphalt paving on city streets. The City of De Queen has added $68,000 in city funds to pave additional streets on the schedule.
The Highway Department is taking responsibility for the entire project from soliciting the bids to paying the contractor. The city’s street department will assist with preparing the streets and inspecting the work as it is being done.
The streets scheduled for paving include:
· Ninth Street from De Queen Avenue to Coulter Drive
· Stilwell Avenue from Fourth Street to Sixth Street
· Gilson Avenue from Fifth Street to Ninth Street
· Wallace Avenue from Fourth Street to Ninth Street
· Driver Avenue from Ninth Street to Coulter Drive.
Motorists might want to avoid these streets while the work is being done.
On a different topic, make plans now to attend the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration at the Hwy. 70 West Sportsplex. Independence Day falls on Tuesday, July 4, but the city’s celebration will be on Saturday, July 1. The Parks Department has planned a Saturday evening of music, food and fireworks. Remember, Let Freedom Ring will be on Saturday, July 1.
May 31, 2017
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation was in De Queen last week to hear comments on a new initiative called “Expect More Arkansas,” an effort to ensure that the more new jobs created in the future are high-paying jobs.
After the great recession, Arkansas has rebounded and now has 1.57 million jobs, but most jobs do not pay enough to support a family.
Arkansas is expected to need an additional 546,000 workers over the next 10 years. The challenge of “Expect More Arkansas” is how to make sure that future jobs pay enough to support a family.
According to the foundation, Arkansas must produce, attract and retain higher-skilled workers to improve the quality of jobs. Better trained and qualified workers will attract more industries and businesses to the state that are seeking a higher-skilled workforce.
“Tomorrow’s jobs will not be better than today’s unless more Arkansans have the right advanced-skills training and education,” the report says.
Expect More Arkansas has identified 10 growth industries that pay higher wages and projected job growth by region of the state.
You can learn more about Expect More Arkansas at the foundation website: www.wrfoundation.org.
May 24, 2017
Memorial Day is the start of the summer travel season and law enforcement officers will be stepping up enforcement of seat belt laws during the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign.
The campaign is an effort by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. It began on May 22 and continues through June 4. During that time, Arkansas State Police, as well as the De Queen Police Department, will be stepping up enforcement of seat belt laws. There is an increased chance of getting a ticket if you are not buckled up.
In addition to more enforcement, a national media campaign will promote safety belt usage. The message is targeted to all drivers, but especially males ages 18 to 34, a hard-to-reach group that, statistics show, is less likely to wear seat belts. Men and pickup truck occupants were less likely to wear seat belts, according to NHTSA data.
Data show that, 48 percent of the 22,441 occupants killed in crashes in 2015 were not buckled in. In nighttime crashes, the fatality rate increased to 57 percent.
Ejection from the vehicle remains one of the deadliest things that can happen in a crash. In 2015, 80 percent of the people who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed.
In Arkansas, all front seat passengers are required to
buckle up. All children under the age of 15 must be properly secured in the
vehicle. If a driver has a restricted license, all passengers must be buckled
May 10, 2017
The latest Consumer Confidence Report for the City of De
Queen water system is now available and the system received a good report with
no violations recorded in 2016.
All public water systems in Arkansas are required to make the report available to water customers. The federal Environmental protection Agency has regulations which limit the amount of contaminants in water from public water systems. The Food and Drug Administration sets limits for contaminants in bottled water in order to protect the public health.
Water is tested daily at the water treatment plant and samples are collected each month for testing by the Arkansas Department of Health. The Consumer Confidence Report lists results for microbiological contaminants, turbidity, inorganic contaminants, lead and copper, total organic carbon, regulated disinfectants and disinfection by-products.
Because of experience, De Queen’s water system is on a reduced monitoring schedule for lead and copper. Water is tested for lead and copper every three years and 2017 is one of the years that will be checked.
Later this month, the state Health Department will be conducting a sanitary survey of the city’s water system. The survey is conducted every other year. Inspectors will take a comprehensive look at the city’s water system and all its processes.
The Consumer Confidence Report is available from the Arkansas Department of Health web site and also on the city’s web site at www.cityofdequeen.com.
April 26, 2017
Anyone renewing an Arkansas driver’s license these days may be asked whether they want an “enhanced driver’s license.” It’s part of a nationwide effort to fight terrorism and reduce identity fraud.
The enhanced license is part of the Real ID Act of 2005. Since October 2016, Arkansas drivers have had two options when applying for or renewing a driver’s license. Card holders can renew their regular driver’s license or they can choose the Arkansas Voluntary Enhanced Security DL or ID card, which is Real ID compliant.
There is no additional cost for the enhanced card, which will contain a gold star on the upper right corner. Regular cards will be marked “Not for Federal Identification”.
On October 1, 2020, anyone who boards a domestic flight or enters a federal building will need an Arkansas Voluntary Enhanced Security Driver’s License. If you do not have an enhanced license, you can provide a regular card plus additional accepted forms of identification.
Enhanced licenses are not offered at the local revenue office. The closest regional office where a license may be obtained is at Texarkana. The address is 801 East 4th Street, Texarkana, AR.
To get an enhanced license, you will need to provide proof of legal presence and identity, residency and Social Security number. You will not have to provide these documents again to renew an enhanced license, unless something has changed.
For more information, contact the Revenue office or visit the web site at www.dfa.arkansas.gov.
April 19, 2017
After several attempts, the City of De Queen has been
successful in getting a bidder for the State Aid for City Streets program.
The State Aid for Streets program is funded by a temporary one-half percent sales tax increase approved in 2012. Approval is not difficult and cities can use the program to resurface arterial and collector streets.
De Queen’s state aid project -- $250,000 worth of street paving -- was bid two times last year and drew no bidders. In January, the only bid was rejected as too high.
The project was put out for bids last week and Tri-State Asphalt of De Queen was awarded the job. There was only one bidder. Streets planned for the City of De Queen total up to $318,157. The city can pay the amount above the $250,000 limit, or reduce the size of the project.
The streets scheduled for paving include:
• Ninth Street from De Queen Avenue to Coulter Drive
• Stilwell Avenue from Fourth Street to Sixth Street
• Gilson Avenue from Fifth Street to Ninth Street
• Wallace Avenue from Fourth Street to Ninth Street
• Driver Avenue from Ninth Street to Coulter Drive.
The cities of Horatio, Lockesburg, Gillham and Ben Lomond have also been approved for the State Aid program.
Paving will begin as weather and the contractor schedule permits.
April 12, 2017
This is spring clean-up week in the City of De Queen. I hope all residents will take advantage of this event to clean up around their property.
The city will assist by collecting brush and large items. If you have items for pickup, please contact De Queen City Hall to get on the list. The city is using a work order system to create a record of each request so that it can be tracked. To ensure the quickest service, please call in your request.
Electronics waste and unused paint are being collected at the De Queen First Station during clean-up week.
Please do not mix trash with brush and metal items when you are cleaning. State laws prohibit mixing brush, leaves and yard waste in with household trash. Landfills are very expensive to develop and operate so to extend their useful life, yard waste is diverted from landfills.
Also, do not put steel or boards into city dumpsters. These items cannot be compressed and may damage the mechanism on the city’s trash trucks.
Finally, the City of De Queen will be closed on Friday, April 14, for Good Friday. Remember that Thursday and Friday trash routes will be run one day early this week due to the holiday. Thursday’s route will be picked up on Wednesday. Friday’s route will be picked up on Thursday. Please remind friends and neighbors of the change.
will assist by collecting brush and large items. If you have items for pickup, pleas contact De Queen City Hall to get on the list. The city is using a work order system to create a record of each request so that it can be tracked. To ensure the quickest service, please call in your request.the change.
April 5, 2017
Many groups around the country call attention to their cause by declaring a national day, week or month to create awareness. While some are obscure, there are a few that are relevant to our area.
You can learn more about these events at the web site www.holidays-and-observances.com
Some holidays are obscure. This week is Medication Safety Week, National Week of the Ocean and International Pooper Scooper Week. Some holidays seem to contradict. This week is Golden Rule Week and it is also Hate week.
There are a few observances closer to home that merit attention. April has been proclaimed Safe Digging Month in the City of De Queen. This is at the request of CenterPoint Energy. The company asks you to help protect underground pipes and lines by calling 811 before any digging project.
April 18 is National Lineman Appreciation Day, as designated by a U.S. Senate resolution. While they have their special day, most of us appreciate linemen whenever the power goes off, as it did downtown last Friday.
Finally, April 10-14 is Spring Clean-up Week in the City of De Queen and all city residents are encouraged to clean their property. The city will assist by picking up big items and brush. Old electronics and unused paint are collected at the fire station.
Because the City of De Queen will be closed Friday, April 14, for Good Friday, clean-up week will be extended until the following Monday.
Keep Arkansas Beautiful suggests three tiny habits that will lead to a cleaner community. These are: 1. Pick up someone else’s litter, 2. Recycle your plastic bottles and 3. Volunteer for a clean-up campaign.
This is also Laugh at Work Week. So enjoy.
March 29, 2017
The annual Spring Clean-up Week has been scheduled for
April 10-14 in the City of De Queen.
Two times each year, the city sets clean-up weeks to encourage residents to clean their property at the beginning and end of the growing season.
The City of De Queen staff will assist by picking up big items and brush for disposal. If you have items for pick-up, please call De Queen City Hall to be put on the pick-up list. The city staff is using a work order system and preference will be given to residents who call for service.
Old electronics such as computers and televisions will be collected at the De Queen Fire Station. These items will only be accepted during clean-up week. Electronics items are transported to the Federal Correctional Institute in Texarkana where they are scrapped and recycled.
A trailer for e-waste is available each week at the Sevier County Solid Waste Transfer Station at the airport. Collection hours are Tuesday, 7 a.m. to noon; Thursday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Unused paint will also be accepted at the fire station during clean-up week. Please do not dispose of paint in household trash as these cans can spill paint on city streets.
If you have junk cars that need to be disposed of, please call Baker Sales and Service.
I am calling on every citizen to do their part to ensure we can live in a clean community. Police the litter around your home of business. It takes everyone to keep our community clean.
March 22, 2017
The Arkansas Department of Health held a one-day session
at Rich Mountain last week to provide area officials with information about the
Zika is a relatively new disease in the Western hemisphere. It is spread primarily through mosquito bites and there is no vaccine or treatment to prevent it.
The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red, itchy eyes. But four out of five people with Zika will not show any symptoms. It poses the greatest risk to babies born to mothers with the virus.
Although the virus can be spread by mosquitoes, the cases in Arkansas have been in people traveling to areas where Zika is present. Arkansas has the types of mosquitoes that carry Zika so they can be infected. So far, Arkansas has no locally-acquired cases of Zika.
The Center for Disease Control is warning women traveling to central or South America to take precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. Women who are pregnant are urged to postpone their trip.
In Arkansas, the Health Department is urging residents to take steps to prevent mosquito bites:
· Use insect repellant containing DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
· Wear long sleeved shirts and pants.
· Use air conditioning and window screen to keep mosquitoes outside.
· Control mosquitoes by emptying standing water in flowerpots and buckets. Mosquitoes can lay eggs in as little amount of water as a bottle cap.
March 15, 2017
With the arrival of spring, some people may be thinking of outdoor building projects that might require a building permit.
Any new structure such as a house, carport or storage building would require a building permit. A new commercial sign or a fence also needs a permit.
One of the most common questions is whether a permit is required for a roofing job. A permit is required only if the roof structure is going to be modified and the roofline changed. No permit is needed to remove old roofing materials and apply a new roof.
Most builders are familiar with the building permit process. However, property owners may not know whether a permit is required.
For projects up to $1,000 in value, the permit fee is $15. There is a $5 fee for each additional $1,000 of value, up to $50,000. From $50,000 to $100,000, there is an additional $4 per thousand and over $100,000 is $3 per thousand. As an example, a building permit for a $100,000 home would be $460.
The State of Arkansas charges an additional 50 cents per $1,000 for non-residential structures.
There is a $25 fee to move an accessory building into the city. The fee for moving a house or manufactured home into the city is $100.
In the case of new construction, inspections are required for electrical, plumbing and HVAC work. These inspections should be made before the walls are closed up.
If a house has been unoccupied and the power has been disconnected, an electrical inspection is required before the power is reconnected.
Anyone considering a building project who needs more information should contact the code enforcement officer at the De Queen Fire Department.
February 28, 2016
Most clean-up issues in the City of De Queen
are covered by Ordinances 725 and 732, which were adopted 25 years ago. A new
proposed ordinance will update some of the terms, but the ordinance is
The city’s clean-up ordinances closely follow state law on the subject of clean-up. There are four sections to the ordinance. Here are the issues addressed:
1. Prohibits overgrown weeds and trees, garbage, tires and inoperative motor vehicles, as well as standing water and sewer leaks on property in the city.
2. Prohibits dumping trash or refuse on city streets, alleys and publicly owned property.
3. Requires occupants of the property to keep the gutters clear to allow the free flow of water.
4. Allows the city council to declare dilapidated buildings as a nuisance and require the owner to abate the problem. It establishes a process for the city to remove the building if the owner refuses.
The ordinance sets a fine of up to $500 for violations. In the case of dilapidated buildings, the only remedy is to demolish the building. There is no way to repair such property and put it back into service. If a building is razed, there is a process for filing a lien against the property, which can be enforced in court or added to the property taxes. Collection is not guaranteed.
The city has had some success on clean-up, but it is a continuous process. For clean-up issues, you may contact the Code Enforcement office at the fire station.
February 15, 2017
The City of De Queen and Sevier County were recognized
by members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart at the monthly quorum Court
meeting on Monday.
Both the De Queen City Council and the Quorum Court have adopted resolutions to join the Purple Heart trail. There are 32 Purple Heart cities and eight Public Heart Counties in Arkansas.
Victor Rojas Jr. organized the program locally. Three representatives of the Military Order of the Purple Heart presented the city and county with certificates and a lapel pins designated a Purple Heart supporter.
Highway signs will be posted at entrances to the city and county indicating that they are part of the Purple Heart trail.
The Purple Heart is the nation’s oldest military medal and was established on August 7, 1782 by General George Washington. It is presented to members of the Armed Services who have been wounded or paid the ultimate sacrifice in combat with a declared enemy of the United States.
The award was all but forgotten until World War I. It was reinstated on February 22, 1932, the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth, with an order signed by General Douglas MacArthur.
Joining the Purple Heart trail allows De Queen and Sevier County to show support for those who put their lives at risk in service of their country.
Feb 8, 2017
The De Queen Police Department receives calls each week about phone or Internet scams.
Most recently, the scheme has been someone calling to say they are the winner of a multi-million dollar prize or a car in a publisher’s sweepstakes. But anyone who talks very long will be asked to send money for a processing fee.
Police say if you don’t remember signing up for something, it’s not likely that you won.
One victim recently brought in a $1,500 check received
in the mail and asked if it was safe to cash it. The scheme usually asks the
victim to return part of the money from the check. When the check turns out to
be no good, the schemers are long gone.
A quick check of the Arkansas Attorney General’s web site reveals scams that pretend to represent the Game and Fish Commission, the Attorney General’s Office and even the Internal Revenue Service.
The Attorney General’s Office offers these tips:
• Be cautious about doing financial transactions by e-mail.
• Never open e-mail attachments if you are not sure of the source.
• Use malware and virus protection on your computer and keep it up to date.
• For online purchases, look for “https” in the URL to indicate a secure server.
• Utilize strong, complex passwords and change them frequently.
If you have a question, you may always contact the De Queen Police Department for help. In some cases a quick response has prevented financial loss.
Feb. 1, 2017
The City of De Queen has implemented a work order system to organize and track service requests, while improving communications. Persons needing service from the city are asked to call City Hall first so their request can be routed to the right department.
In case of water or sewer leaks, missed sanitation stops or requests for brush pickup, call 870-584-3445. Work orders will be created so that they can be worked in the most efficient manner.
Brush pickup has been moved to Wednesdays, although the schedule may be adjusted depending on weather and work load. Persons with brush must call City Hall and request service. Crews will work from a list of work orders but they do not run collection routes.
Please do not call the city shop to request service. Employees are usually working around town and may not be available to answer the phone. City Hall has radio communication with crews and can relay information quickly, if needed.
In case of water or sewer emergencies after working hours, the city has two duty phones that are answered at all times. For water emergencies, call 870-784-7891. For the sewer department, call 870-784-7892.
A work order system will create a written document that can be tracked and does not rely on memory or verbal instructions.
Please remember to call City Hall at 584-3445 if you need service.
Water Department Staff
Jeff Brown Manager
Tim Conatser, water plant
Gary Anderson, water plant
Jody McRae, water plant
Darren Higgins, field foreman
Bobby Souther, distribution
Chet Stubbs, distribution
Kendall Johnson, distribution
Lewis Newberry, distribution
City of De Queen, AR
221 N. 2nd St
P. O. Box 730
De Queen, AR 71832