Around Town

Mayor of De Queen

Billy Ray McKelvy
P.O. Box 345
De Queen, AR  71832



December 19, 2018

The end of the year is a good time to remind neighbors that voluntary rural fire memberships are available from the De Queen Fire Department.

The De Queen Fire Department has received 101 fire calls this year and about half of those calls will be outside of the city. Arkansas law requires cities to try to collect for the cost of fire calls outside the city. The charge for a structure fire outside the city is $500. For grass fires it’s $350. A rural fire membership, similar to an ambulance membership, ensures that homeowners will not have to pay any charge. If the owner’s property insurance covers the fire call, the city will apply for that benefit.

The De Queen Fire Department has three full-time personnel during the day shift and two dozen volunteers. Because the department is well-trained and well-equipped, De Queen’s ISO rating has improved from a class six 15 years ago to a class three rating today.

Sevier County is divided into districts for each of the county fire departments. If you are unsure which district you are in, these boundaries can be found on the latest county map which was published earlier this year by the De Queen-Sevier County Chamber of Commerce. Free copies are available at the Chamber office, city hall or the courthouse.

Don’t forget that the city’s sanitation department will stage extra dumpsters at three locations around town in anticipation of a heavy load of trash after the Christmas holiday. Those locations are at the Hwy. 70 West Sportsplex, Sevier County Fairgrounds and the parking lot on the east side of the city shop. These will be serviced over the weekend.

City Hall will be closed Monday, Dec. 24 and Tuesday, Dec. 25 for Christmas. Normal trash routes will resume on Wednesday, Dec. 26.


December 5, 2018

The City of De Queen will be partnering with the county’s economic developer on a couple of upcoming community development projects.

Lisa Taylor reported recently that the City has been approved for a “walkshop” project by the Center for Community and Economic Development at the University of Central Arkansas. Crafton Tull architects will conduct an interactive “walkshop” with community leaders to develop placemaking concepts and solutions for traffic circulation, parking, low-impact development concepts, beautification and community character improvement. The one-day event has a value of $1,000.

Community leaders and stake holders will hear a presentation on the built environment and discuss best practices for site planning and focus on a three-block by three-block area in the community.

Leaders and stakeholders will be needed to participate in the process.

Taylor said Sevier County has been paired with Howard and Little River counties for a regional initiative called Create Bridges. The purpose of the initiative is to build the capacity of rural regions to strengthen retail, accommodations, tourism and entertainment businesses.

Create Bridges is a partnership of development organizations in Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma with funding through Wal-Mart. The Arkansas sponsor is the Cooperative Extension Service’s Community and Economic Development program.


November 28, 2018

With Thanksgiving past, the holiday season is upon us. There are a number of Christmas-related activities coming up in the next few weeks.

The De Queen-Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is encouraging everyone to kick off the Christmas season with three Christmas parades on Saturday, Dec. 1. Horatio leads off the day with a 2 p.m. Christmas parade, followed by Lockesburg at 4 p.m. and De Queen’s downtown parade at 6 p.m. Santa will be holding court in his house on the courthouse square following the De Queen parade.

The Chamber of Commerce is again sponsoring its Shop Local campaign and this year it is easier than ever. Rather than fill out tickets, shoppers can just sign their register receipts and drop them into the entry box. Weekly drawings will be held during the Christmas season and a grand prize winner will be chosen before Christmas.

This is the year for the Kansas City Southern Christmas Train to make a stop in Sevier County. The train will be here Wednesday, Dec. 5, starting at 4 p.m. The train will be parked south of the Stilwell crossing in De Queen.

In addition to tours of the train, the KCS will be making donations to the Salvation Army in each town where the train stops. This is the 18th year for the Christmas train. It is pulled by the Southern Belle business train.


November 19, 2018

This week is Thanksgiving, a time when Americans are reminded to be grateful for their many blessings.

Sanitation routes in the City of De Queen will be one or two days early this week, depending on your regular day. Monday and Tuesday trash routes will not be changed. But Thursday and Friday routes will both be picked up on Wednesday, Nov. 21. Please remind your friends and neighbors to have trash put out early this week.

The Code RED notification system should be sending a phone, text or e-mail reminder Monday evening, if you have signed up for that system. If you would like to receive reminders in the future, sign up for Code RED at either the City of De Queen or Sevier County web site.

Here a few fun facts about Thanksgiving, courtesy of the U.S. Census bureau.

The first Thanksgiving was in the fall of 1621 when pilgrims in Plymouth Colony held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest.

The Wampanoag American Indian tribe attended the first Thanksgiving. The 2010 census counted 6,500 members of the Wampanoag tribe, half of whom live in Massachusetts.

Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and established it as the last Thursday in November.

President Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday to the fourth Thursday of the month, rather than the last, to encourage earlier holiday shopping.


November 14, 2018

The new Code RED emergency notification system is now being used to alert city residents to the changes in sanitation routes.

This is especially useful when trash routes are early due to holidays. Thanksgiving is next week and the City of De Queen will be closed Thursday and Friday, meaning both trash routes will be collected on Wednesday. It is hard to notify people to put the trash out earlier than normal.

Code RED system is primarily for weather warnings, but it can also be used for other purposes such as utility outages and road closure. An area can be defined on a map and a message sent to all subscribers in that area. These general messages will only be sent to people who signed up with the CodeRED system.

If you are signed up for Code RED but do not have the phone numbers stored in your cell phone, it may look like a telemarketer call. After a pause, a synthesized voice asks the caller to stand by for a message.

If you have the Code RED numbers stored in your cell phone contacts, caller ID will display the name of the Code RED system. The two numbers that need to be stored are: 855-969-4636 and 866-419-5000.

If you sign up for the Code RED system, you can choose to be notified by phone call, text, email or any combination.

Code RED is a joint project between Sevier County and the City of De Queen. Applications for the system are still being discovered. Weather alerts are sent only if there is a weather warning, not a watch.

If you would like to be notified of schedule changes, you can sign up for the Code RED system at either the City or County web sites.


October 31, 2018

Visitors to De Queen City Hall may be surprised when they walk through the front door this week.

The building is getting a major remodeling, the first since it was built in 1985.

Crews arrived Monday morning to remove carpet and tile flooring. Everything was moved out of the police department and stored temporarily in the council room. Later the flooring crews will move to the City Hall side and repeat the process. New wood-look vinyl flooring will be installed before everything is reinstalled.

In addition to new paint, the front window for City Hall will be enlarged to accommodate more than one customer at a time. Some new cabinets and furniture will be installed, along with a new drive-up window.

City Hall will remain open, although some things may be relocated over the next three weeks.

Driver’s license tests are being given in the training room on the second floor of the fire station.

The city business offices will be relocated temporarily to the council room and front lobby.

The police department is operating out of the fire station this week.

Phone service will be maintained during the process It might be a good idea to call ahead if you need to need to meet with someone specifically.

Thanks for your cooperation during the process. The inconvenience will be temporary and the benefits should last for many years.


October 23, 2018

Early voting for the Nov. 6 General Election began on Monday. This is the general election and voters will see candidates of all parties and several issues when they go to the polls.

There will be one referred question for voters in De Queen and that is four-year terms for city aldermen. This is provided for by Act 543 of 2001 and is codified in the Arkansas statutes as 14-43-312.

The City of De Queen is divided into three wards with two council members elected from each ward. If it is approved by voters, aldermen representing position one will be elected to a four-year term at the next general election. Aldermen elected for position two will receive a two-year term in the next general election. The result will be staggered terms with one alderman elected to a four-year term from each ward every two years.

When the issue was referred by the city council, one reason was to have some continuity in local government in case a large number of elected officials changed at one time.

The City of De Queen is organized under the mayor-council form of government. The mayor and city clerk-treasurer are elected for four-year terms. City Council members (aldermen) are elected to two-year terms by default, although state law does allow the voters to approve four-year terms.


October 11, 2018

Halloween to be observed in De Queen on Wednesday, Oct. 31

The City of De Queen is asking that trick-or-treaters and their parents make their rounds in De Queen on Wednesday, Oct. 31. There have been some inquiries about whether the observance of Halloween will be moved because it falls on Wednesday.

The Chamber of Commerce will be inviting youngsters downtown beginning at 5 p.m. on Halloween.

Observance of Halloween is not moved unless it falls on Sunday.


October 10, 2018

Several local organizations will be hosting a conference in Hope to acquaint eighth grade students with the need for trained manufacturing jobs in southwest Arkansas.

Explore Success, a youth manufacturing conference, will be held Oct. 16, at Hempstead Hall on the campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope. After years of stressing the importance of attending college, these groups want to make students aware that there is a need for a skilled workforce in manufacturing.

The event will enable students to learn the requirements for successful manufacturing careers from industry and manufacturing leaders.

Students will be hearing from a motivational speaker and another speaker who will stress the importance of soft skills.

Students will also get to meet industry representatives who are seeking a skilled workforce for the future. Eighth graders are targeted because it is the time when students and parents begin thinking about student success plans.

Invitations are being sent to schools in eight southwest Arkansas counties. Sponsors for the event are the Southwest Arkansas Development Alliance, AEP-SWEPCO, Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative and UACCH.


October 3, 2018

Here are a couple of reminders about events around our town.

Oct. 8-12 is fall clean-up week in the City of De Queen. Two times per year, the city holds clean-up weeks to help people get rid of big items, brush, etc. Unused paint and old electronics will be collected at the first station.

Sevier County has an electronics recycling trailer at the airport on U.S. 70 west. You may take electronics there on Tuesday morning, Thursday afternoon and Saturday.

Litter is a common complaint at city hall. Even though we’ve picked up problem areas many times, the litter quickly returns. I challenge every citizen who is concerned about our town’s appearance to join in the fight against litter. Adopt a street in your neighborhood or near your business and keep it clean.

On Tuesday, Scott Bennett, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, made a presentation at Lockesburg for city and county officials in southwest Arkansas. Bennett again addressed the state’s highway needs and the lack of funding. Just to maintain the state’s roads, the state needs almost $500 million more funding each year. Several ideas on raising more funds are being circulated.

It was a good opportunity to inquire from district ArDOT officials about the progress on several local projects.

Engineers said the bridge over Little River on Ark. 41 south of Horatio should be completed by Thanksgiving.

On the U.S. 70-71 bridge at the Dierks junction, completion date is expected to be February, 2019. There have been some delays due to problems with the box culverts on the relief north of the bridge.


September 26, 2018

Saturday was the first day of autumn, a season when the City of De Queen asks all citizens to help clean our city.

The annual fall clean-up campaign is set for Oct. 8-12. Again, the City will assist by picking up big items, recycling electronics and collecting unused paint.

The Code Enforcement and Fire Department have made a concentrated effort this summer to tackle problem areas around the city, including city property. The Street and Sanitation Department spent a week cleaning up the corner at Treating Plant Road and Coulter Drive to improve safety around public schools. Two older mowers were moved from the Parks Department to the Street Department where they are being used to mow along city streets.

Clean-up issues are a common complaint at the city, but to make a difference will require an effort by all city residents.

During clean-up week, old electronics will be collected at the fire station for recycling. Please bring these only during clean-up week when a trailer is available. Unused paint will also be collected at the fire station.

Anyone who has an old automobile to be removed should call Baker’s Sales and Service.

For pickup of large items, please call City Hall at 584-3445 so you can be put on the pickup list. Remember, you must call for service.

Fall clean-up week is Oct. 8-12.


August 29, 2018

Here are a few important dates on upcoming events in our area.

Sevier County will have five town hall meetings regarding the proposed continuation of a one-fourth percent sales tax for the Sevier County jail. The bonds for jail construction have been retired, but the county is proposing to continue the tax to cover the increasing expenses of operating the jail. This is not a tax increase.

The meeting schedule is:
·         Tuesday, Sept. 11 — 6:30 p.m., De Queen-Mena Education Co-op, Room C, Gillham
·         Tuesday, Sept. 18 — 6:30 p.m. Horatio Elementary School Cafeteria
·         Tuesday, Oct. 9 — 6:30 p.m. Lockesburg gym conference room
·         Monday, Oct. 15 — Ben Lomond Senior Citizen Center
·         Tuesday, Oct. 16 — 6:30 pm. De Queen High School cafeteria.

Motorists should use extra caution around the Labor Day holiday. Arkansas State Police will be participating in the national impaired driving campaign called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

Enforcement will be stepped up through Monday, Sept. 3. Troopers recommend designating a sober driver, if plans include alcohol. Motorists are being urged to report drunk drivers.

Finally, here’s a reminder that Arkansas law prohibits using a mobile phone when driving in a designated school zone. Signs are posted around the school. De Queen Police issued six citations and warnings in the last couple of weeks.

August 8, 2018

School starts for a new year on Monday, Aug. 13. Here are a few reminders for those who will be driving in the area of De Queen schools during the first week.

De Queen Police department will be out in force for the opening of school. They will be working traffic at the usual bottlenecks and in the student drop-off zones.

Speeding is the most common complaint around schools. Drivers are reminded that speed limit in the school zone is 20 miles per hour. Speed limit signs are posted.

An Arkansas law that took effect in 2011 makes it illegal to use cell phones when driving in a school zone. Here are the highlights of the law:

Use of a mobile phone is prohibited (both talking and texting) while in a school zone or passing a school building where children are present.

Drivers under 18 may not use cell phones regardless of whether they use a hands-free device

Drivers age 18 to 20 may use hands-free attachments

School bus operators are prohibited from using cell phones while driving.

Finally,  city crews are working this week to improve visibility at the intersection of Treating Plant Road and Coulter Drive. Property owners have cooperated with the city in allowing brush and trees to be removed that will make it easier to see before turning from Coulter onto Treating Plant Road.

August 1, 2018

The De Queen Fire Department is having a busy summer with a number of projects, including clean-up.

Charley Farley, a local country musician, recently donated $1,000 to the Fire Department with funds from a benefit T-shirt sale. The money will be used to purchase smoke detectors which are installed at no charge for city residents. A limited number of carbon monoxide detectors are available at the fire department. Carbon monoxide is a product of combustion. If you heat with gas or wood, you may need a CO detector.

Also, a member of the code enforcement office is canvassing the town looking for clean-up issues. Almost 100 homes have been tagged for clean-up so far. These usually include tall grass or weeds and trash in the yard. Residents are given seven days to comply and so far, response has been good.

Firefighters are also trying to get more homes to display their house numbers. Ordinance 1035 of 2017 requires every building in the city limits to have its house number displayed. Numbers should be a minimum of three inches on homes and six inches on commercial buildings.

Peel-and-stick letters available from local stores are acceptable for most homes. If you are unable to display your numbers, the fire department can provide 6 x 18 metal signs at no cost.

For information, contact the De Queen Fire Station at 870-594-7224.


July 25, 2018

The Sevier County Senior Citizens Center has a new operator who is making improvements to the program.

During the transition, the schedule was reduced to three days per week.

On July 1, South Arkansas Senior Meal Services of Magnolia took over Sevier County and three other counties. Cathy McMahen said the organization has been operating a successful senior center in Columbia County and she hopes to improve the programs in the new counties.

One of the first changes was to add a day to the schedule. Local centers are open Monday through Thursday. Friday might be considered if the participation justifies it.

The new operator found many needs when they took over the struggling program. The Chamber of Commerce donated a freezer and the De Queen Lions Club provided a refrigerator. A food drive by Dr. Randy Walker’s office brought in 8,000 cans of food.

Home cooking is back on the menu. McMahen said they plan to cook the foods that people like to eat while meeting meal requirements. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are served when available.

Seniors over 60 are provided a noon meal. A $3 donation is asked, but not required. Guests younger than 60 may eat for $4.

Seniors are encouraged to try the program. The center can still use community support. The center can also use donations for food, contest prizes and cash.


July 18, 2018

Here are a few reminders about events around the City of De Queen this week.

A storm last Wednesday evening brought down limbs and debris around town. Some residents have the limbs stacked curbside waiting on pickup, but it may be a while before city crews can get to it. The city’s brush grapple truck has a couple of leaky hydraulic cylinders and is in the shop waiting for repairs. It is expected to be back in a week or so, but the regular brush route on Wednesday will not be run this week.

Persons with brush are encouraged to call City Hall and put in a work order for pickup.

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Representatives of AEP-SWEPCO have notified the city that utility contractors are working in the area.

Some contractors are trimming limbs around utility lines. Another crew is inspecting utility poles. If you notice either of these activities, they may be contractors.

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Finally, the Arkansas State Police have announced a week-long speed enforcement program this week.

Stepped-up enforcement begins July 16 and continues through Sunday, July 22.

The operation is promoted using the message “Obey the Sign, or Pay the Fine.” The campaign involves law enforcement departments across the state.

According to the State Police announcement, speed was a factor in 27 percent of the fatal accidents in the U.S. in 2015.

Police are watching for speeders this week. Be careful.