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This Week's News:
DE QUEEN CITY COUNCIL MEETING TONIGHT AT 6 P.M. 7/18/17
De Queen Mayor Billy Ray McKelvy announced the De Queen City Council will be meeting this evening at 6 p.m. after canceling last week's meeting due to the lack of a quorum.
In a letter to the aldermen of the De Queen City Council, McKelvy reported the contractors are installing new water meters throughout the city. He said contractors must to turn off each customer’s water while they install the new meter, but the water will not be cut-off very long.
Tonight, aldermen will be asked to approve the mid-year budget adjustment. McKelvy said the main thing that needs to be added to the budget is the water meter project, which totals about $715,000.
McKelvy informed KDQN that the city had to purchase new lids for the meter boxes to increase the meter range and to provide more protection for the meter's antenna.
Aldermen will also consider amending the city's drug testing policy to include non-CDL employees. McKelvy presented the council with suggestions from the Arkansas Municipal League concerning this change. He said the city already does random drug tests on employees who have a commercial driver's license.
McKelvy said he will provide aldermen with the audit of the city's proprietary funds.
2ND ANNUAL SEVIER COUNTY NIGHT OUT IS AUGUST 1ST 7/18/17
Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry announced the upcoming 2nd Annual Night Out is Tuesday, August 1st at the De Queen Sportsplex from 6 to 9 p.m.
Gentry said the event is free for the community and nothing will be sold that night. Gentry said his department and the De Queen Police Department are planning to hand out backpacks full of school supplies and they need the assistance of local business owners, community organizations and volunteers to help make this year's event even bigger and better than last year.
Gentry said he is inviting area businesses to be a part of the largest crime prevention and community building event in the country. He said businesses can provide gift certificates or small gifts for contest prizes, food donations, entertainment or supplies for the children's activity area, trinkets with their business logo on them or school supplies that will go into the backpacks.
Gentry said the National Night Out is an anticrime effort that has led to improved quality of life in many areas where the event has taken place.
Gentry said if you are interested in making a donation, contact Beth Hughes at 870-584-8227 or Dana Gentry at 870-279-0499 and the sheriff's office will make arrangements to pick up the donations.
CENTRAL FIRE DEPARTMENT ANNUAL FISH DINNER 7/18/17
Central Fire Department members will be hosting their annual fish dinner on Saturday, July 29th at the Central Community Building in the Central Community beginning at 6 p.m.
Central volunteer firefighters, Bretny Lynch and Ginger Sutton announced this year's dinner will also feature a cake and pie auction and musical entertainment by the CrossPoint Cowboy Church band.
Sutton said fire district members can also pay their $25 fire dues. Lynch said the fish dinner is by donation only and they will be auctioning off cakes, pies and homemade crafts.
Lynch said the proceeds will be used to update equipment for fire fighters and help maintain the department's vehicles.
For more information, contact a member of the Central Volunteer Fire Department.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 7/18/17
District 4 Representative DeAnn Vaught reported the Arkansas Tax Relief and Reform Task Force met last week for the third time since it was created during the last legislative session. She said the purpose of the task force is to identify areas of potential reform within the state's tax laws and to make recommendations to the legislature for their consideration during the 2019 Regular Session.
Vaught said the task force is considering proposals to hire consultants to research the implications of tax overhauls in other states.
Vaught reported the state currently receives 37.5 percent of its revenue from the state's General Sales Tax and 23.4 percent from individual income taxes. The other 39.29 percent comes from corporate income taxes, property taxes, selective sales tax on fuel and tobacco, as well as other items.
Most of the states around Arkansas receive 31.3 percent of their revenue from property taxes, 23.3 percent from General Sales Tax and 22.9 percent from individual income taxes.
In Arkansas, personal income tax is divided into six brackets depending on a person's income. In Mississippi, the personal income tax has only three brackets and Missouri has 10 tax brackets.
When it comes to selective taxes, Arkansas ranks just below the U.S. median by charging almost .22 cents per gallon on motor fuel, while Tennessee charge's .25 cents a gallon, but Oklahoma only charges .17 cents.
One area of study for the task force will be the implementation of tax cut triggers. Vaught said tax triggers only take effect when the state's revenues meet an established threshold. Tax triggers are used by states including Missouri and North Carolina.
MEET COACH ROBERT COLLUM AT HORATIO HIGH SCHOOL 7/18/17
For the second time in three years, the Horatio Lions will have a new head football coach, but this season, it's a familiar face.
Following the resignation of Coach David Bennett, the Horatio Board of Education promoted Assistant Football Coach Robert Collum to head coach. Coach Collum said he's been coaching in the Horatio School District for seven of the last eight years.
Collum said the Horatio Lions will work hard and be prepared, every Friday night. He said the Lions will go back to the Flexbone offense, but convert to the 3-4 defense.
Collum said defensively, the Lions may be a little undersized, but they have a lot of senior leadership, he said the offense will be triggered by four-year starter, Senior Zach Izzo.
The Horatio Lions will start the 2017 season on the road at Dierks where Coach Collum hopes to kick-off his head coaching career with a victory.
ONE PERSON KILLED IN DRIVE-BY SHOOTING IN ASHDOWN 7/17/17
One person is dead and a second is recovering after a drive-by shooting that occurred early Sunday morning in Ashdown.
According to the Ashdown Police Department, two people were shot around 1 a.m. Sunday on Washington Street. The victims were identified as 19-year-old Desmond Smith and 19-year-old Samari Covington.
Both victims were from Ashdown and they were taken to the Little River Memorial Hospital by private vehicle, where one died of a gunshot wound to the chest. The other victim was transferred to a Texarkana hospital where he was treated for nonlife-threatening injuries.
Authorities with the De Queen Police Department and the Sevier County Sheriff's Office have detained four suspects. The suspects range in age from 17 to 22 and one suspect has been identified as 20-year-old Joshua King of De Queen. They were reportedly riding in a red Dodge Charger.
The suspects are believed to be residents of Sevier County, however the vehicle they were riding in, is allegedly registered to a resident in Howard County.
According to the Ashdown Police Department, no weapons have been found, but all four suspects are being held in the Sevier County Jail.
According to a press release, deputies with the Little River County Sheriff's Office and wildlife officers with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission assisted the Ashdown Police Department with crowd control at the hospital. Police Chief Mark Ardwin reported the body was sent to the Arkansas Crime Lab in Little Rock for an autopsy.
HORATIO SCHOOL INNOVATION TAKING SHAPE 7/17/17
Last month, the Horatio School District was informed by the Arkansas Board of Education that their School of Innovation application had been approved.
Superintendent Lee Smith said the district is now working to design the district's school of innovation on the high school campus. He also introduced Lisa Kraus as the district's School of Innovation facilitator.
Monday morning, Kraus said the goal is to make school more relevant and fun.
7th grade English teacher, Becky Fawcett said the new program will help some students be workforce ready when they graduate from high school or be better prepared for college.
Kraus described Horatio's new schedule as a flex-mod schedule, which includes eight-25 minute mods. She said students who need extra help will be able to receive individual learning time during their pod time.
Fawcett said it will allow teachers to help students who are struggling, because they will actually be in the classroom more.
Kraus and Fawcett said the new School of Innovation will be a work in progress. However, Kraus said the elementary will not be using the flex-mod schedule, but they will be doing more blended-learning, which uses on-line resources.
If you have any questions about the Horatio School District's new School of Innovation, contact Kraus at the high school 870-832-1900.
LOCKESBURG CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7/17/17
Aldermen of the Lockesburg City Council approved the purchase of a freezer for the Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center, but tabled a request for the city to make a monetary donation to the center.
Last week, Frances Brakeville attended the Lockesburg City Council meeting on behalf of the Lockesburg Senior Adult Center. She reported the center was receiving donations of meat for the Lockesburg Meals for Seniors project and they needed a freezer to store the food.
Council members voted to purchase a freezer and donate it to the center, but Brakeville also asked the council to make a monetary donation to the center, which the aldermen tabled until their August meeting.
Aldermen heard a report from Robin Rice of the A.L. Franks Engineering firm in Texarkana. She stated the city was waiting on verification from the railroad company concerning the height of the walking bridge before they start the sidewalk project.
Rice also presented a bid from RBIS, LLC in the amount of $395,959 for the city's Waste Water project. Aldermen voted to accept the bid, but the approval is contingent on the approval of the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.
Park Commissioner Sheila Ruth gave the council report about the city's Fireworks in the Park program. She said there were more vendors this year and they had a wonderful fireworks display.
Aldermen voted to seek bids for the renovation of the Lockesburg Library, including the replacement of a door to the mayor's office.
Aldermen were also informed that the city's Water-Sewer audit contained no instances for non-compliance.
STATE EARNS OVER $57 MILLION DOLLARS ON INVESTMENTS 7/17/17
Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan reported the state treasury department earned $57.5 million dollars on its investment of more than $3 billion dollars during the past year, which is most the state has earned in about a decade.
In 2016, Arkansas' treasury earned $48.9 million dollars.
According to records from Milligan's office, the treasury had an average of $3.4 billion dollars to invest this past fiscal year, which was up from $3.2 billion during the 2016 fiscal year and $2.8 billion during the 2015 fiscal year.
Milligan's office says the investments include $3.28 billion in bonds, about $277,500 in demand accounts and about $155,000 in money market accounts.
LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS IN SIX STATES READY TO CRACKDOWN ON SPEEDING VIOLATORS 7/17/17
Law enforcement authorities in Arkansas and five other states will concentrate their patrol assignments on speeding violations this coming weekend.
"Obey the sign or pay the fine," is a multijurisdictional enforcement operation plan that is designed to crack down on speeding offenses and make highway travel safer across, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
According to the latest data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, speeding was a contributing factor in 27 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. during 2015. More than 9,500 lives were lost in speed related accidents. In Arkansas, there were 531 total traffic fatalities, of which 17 percent were speed related.
Federal highway safety experts consider a motor vehicle accident to be speed related if the driver is charged with exceeding the posted speed limit or if the driver was driving too fast for conditions at the time of the crash.
The risk of a crash on a road with a speed limit of 65 or greater is more than twice as likely to result in a fatality as on a road with a 45 to 50 mph speed limit.
The Arkansas State Police released a notice that during the "Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine" operation, state troopers will intensify their speed enforcement patrols and will ticket anyone caught speeding.
BAD CREDIT CAN MEAN HIGHER AUTO INSURANCE RATES 7/17/17
If you have a good driving record but think your car insurance is too high, a new survey says your credit score could be the problem. A report by the online marketing firm WalletHub found five of the largest insurance companies that write auto policies use credit ratings as a factor in determining insurance premiums. And the difference between good credit and bad can be substantial, in Arkansas, a low credit score can increase premiums as much as 73 percent.
WalletHub's Jill Gonzalez explains low credit doesn't mean companies think a person is more likely to be in an accident.
The report shows the effect a credit score can have on the cost of an auto policy varies widely. Gonzalez says they found companies such as Farmers and Allstate weigh credit scores heavily in calculating premiums, while for GEICO and Progressive, low credit is much less of a factor.
She says costs also vary between states. The survey found bad credit in New Jersey can raise rates as much as 100 percent, while in California, poor credit adds very little to the cost of a policy. Some critics say using credit scores to rate policies can unfairly raise insurance rates for lower-income families and communities of color.
Gonzales says avoiding accidents and tickets will do the most to keep insurance rates down. But paying bills on time can help, too.
She says some companies are more transparent than others about how they use credit scores. Check the fine print on an insurer's website or call the company and ask them directly.
STATE TEST SCORES ARE UP 7/17/17
According to state education officials, Arkansas' third through 10th graders scored higher on the state-required ACT Aspire tests this spring than they did in 2016.
More than 287,500 students participated in the state's testing program for the second year by taking an online test in English, math, science, reading and writing.
Results showed students improved in most grades and subjects, except for sixth grade science, fifth grade English and third grade writing.
Education officials said students in sixth and eighth grade improved in math while students in fourth through eight grade improved in writing.
Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key said the scores are a positive reflection of the work that is being done by local educators.
But, he said there is still room for improvement and the results will be used to develop academic improvement plans for students who didn't score the ready or better levels on any of the tests.
Arkansas is currently using the ACT Aspire testing program to comply with the federal Every Child Succeeds Act, which calls for states to hold schools and their district's accountable for student learning.
BODY RECOVERED IN MCCURTAIN COUNTY THAT OF MISSING OKLAHOMA MAN 7/14/17
A body has been recovered from a well in McCurtain County off Oklahoma Highway 3 just outside of Broken Bow.
Divers and other members of the Broken Bow Fire Department's rescue team worked Thursday afternoon and into the evening to get the remains out of an old well on Church Street.
Authorities have yet to say whether the discovery is related to the disappearance of a man who was reported missing last week. But, according to the McCurtain County Sheriff's Office, a deputy found the body shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday about 15 feet down in the well.
Authorities with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation say the body may have been beaten and thrown into the well, but no motive has been determined at this time.
Investigators think the remains could be those of 41-year-old Harold Jones, whose sister reported him missing on July 5th. She told law enforcement that she hadn't seen him since June 29th in the Broken Bow-Idabel area. She also reported his truck was missing.
According to authorities, Jones' truck was stopped in Mount Pleasant, Texas on July 8th. The driver told police he had bought the truck from a guy on July 3rd in Clarksville, Texas. Authorities say that information led investigators to a person who provided them with details that led to the body in the well.
SEVIER COUNTY SHOOTING SPORTS BOOSTER CLUB HOLDING CLEAN UP DAY AT SHOOTING RANGE 7/14/17
JP Atkins of the Sevier County Shooting Sports Booster Club announced this morning that the club will be conducting a clean up day at the shooting range on Saturday.
Atkins said they will be changing the locks and handing out ID cards to all booster club members. He said it's $35 for current members and $45 for new members.
Atkins said club members are also selling chance for a rifle. He said they will give the rifle away by the end of the Sevier County Fair.
Atkins said if you would like to help clean up the shooting range or join the booster club, stop by the shooting range tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. The shooting range is located on Highway 71 across from Avon Cemetery.
LOENBRO ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES TO HOLD A BENEFIT GOLF TOURNAMENT FOR TRACY STEWARD SATURDAY, JULY 22 7/14/17
Shane Haarmeyer of Loenbro Environmental Services announced Friday morning that the employees of the company have planned a benefit golf tournament for Tracy Steward. He said the benefit will be held at the De Queen Country Club on Saturday, July 22nd and there's going to be an auction, live music, a gun give away, chicken lunches and fish dinners.
He said registration for the golf tournament is at 7 a.m. on the 22nd and there will be two flights. One flight will tee-off at 8 a.m. and the other flight will tee-off about 1 p.m. Haarmeyer said it is a four-man scramble and the entry fee is $200 per team.
He also said there's going to be prizes for the longest drive, closest to the pin and every golfer will receive a certificate for a free golf club.
Haarmeyer said the cost of the lunches and dinners are by donation only, but they are selling chances for the gun give away for $5 each or 5 tickets for $20 dollars.
For more information, visit the website www.tracystewardbenefit.com or the Facebook page Tracy Steward Benefit.
ACTIVITY REPORT FOR SEVIER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE 7/14/17
Thursday afternoon, Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry released the monthly activity report for the deputies of Sevier County Sheriff's office.
Gentry reported deputies conducted a total of 268 traffic stops, issued 256 warnings and wrote 16 citations, while patrolling a total of 26,052 miles throughout the county. He said they also worked 26 accidents and made 24 arrests.
Gentry said a total of 93 inmates were booked into the county jail and June’s community service took place around the jail because the Community Service Deputy was attending the Arkansas Law Enforcement Academy in Camden.
Gentry also said several identity theft type of complaints have been made to his office and some county residents have reported their debit or credit card was used outside the immediate area. Gentry is encouraging county residents to keep an eye on their financial accounts to make sure there hasn't been any unauthorized use.
UA HOPE-TEXARKANA ADDS MOBILE WELDING CLASSROOM 7/14/17
The University of Arkansas at Hope-Texarkana recently added a mobile welding classroom to the methods of instruction that is being offered by the college.
The mobile welding classroom was fabricated from a 26-foot enclosed aluminum trailer by UA Hope-Texarkana welding instructors Charlie Scoggins and Eddie Thomas. The trailer is equipped with eight Miller Trailblazer 325 welders, individual workstations, and all of the required safety equipment.
The mobile classroom will be used to offer three types of welding instruction: MIG, TIG and SMAW/Stick welding, on location at high schools, industry, and for the general public.
UA Hope-Texarkana offers several welding certificate programs, some of which prepare students for jobs in as little as six weeks.
The mobile welding classroom is part of the Workforce Initiative Act of 2015 Regional Workforce Grant Program.
Five community colleges within the University of Arkansas System formed a workforce alliance to address workforce needs in the regions that are served by these colleges.
CONSUMER ALERT: SNAPCHAT SCARE 7/14/17
With Snapchat releasing a new tracking feature for their app, users need to be aware of some new risks. Snapchat is a mobile messaging app that allows users to send and receive pictures that are displayed on screen for, at most, 10 seconds. The new update Snap Map now allows Snapchat friends to track others' locations when the app is open.
Although the update was only introduced recently, GPS tracking apps are already concerning law enforcement officials because of the potential safety issues. Officials worry that location-based services on apps make children and teens more vulnerable to predators. Snapchat has also implemented a Ghost Mode for users to hide from the map feature which can be turned on by pinching the screen when the camera is open in the app, tap the settings icon in the top right corner and swipe to enable the feature.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following tips to protect children from online predators: She recommends parents talk to their children about the potential dangers online, utilize parental controls and blocking software on mobile devices, tell children to keep their passwords, pictures and personal information to themselves, remind children to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they first met online, teach them to not post anything online that they would not want others to see, help them to remember people they meet online are not always who they say they are, tell them not to respond to inappropriate messages, encourage them to tell someone if they ever encounter a problem online and consider disabling all location-based services on mobile devices.
The Attorney General's office is hosting an internet safety webcast on Wednesday, August 2nd. Rutledge's office also provides a technology tip card for consumers, information for parents on how to spot cyberbullying and a parent's guide to internet safety.
For more information, call 1-800-482-8982 or visit the website ArkansasAG.gov.
PUBLIC COMMENTS BEING ACCEPTED FOR CULVERT PROJECT IN LITTLE RIVER COUNTY 7/14/17
A proposed amendment to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's Statewide Transportation Improvement Program for the federal fiscal years of 2016 through 2020 is now available for public comment.
The amendment would add a new project to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, by replacing a drainage structure for Hurricane Creek on state Highway 234 to the west of Winthrop in Little River County with a concrete box culvert. The structure was damaged during flooding events.
The public is invited to review and comment on the amendment's contents by July 27th. The proposed amendment may be reviewed at the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department office, The State Clearinghouse or the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District Office. For more information or to request a copy of the amendment by mail, call the department of transportation's Program Management Division at 501-569-2262.
Comments should be mailed to Program Management Division, Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, P.O. Box 2261, Little Rock, AR 72203.
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