SCHOLARSHIP ESTABLISHED TO HONOR ALEX IRVAN 02/28/20
Horatio resident, Gayla Irvan, donated to the UA Cossatot Foundation to establish the Alex Scholarship.
The scholarship is to honor the memory of her son, Alex Irvan. The Alex Scholarship is for UA Cossatot students accepted into the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program. Eligible applicants will need to have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and have a financial need. The scholarship will award one applicant $500 for the academic year.
Irvan said, “I had a disabled child and I wanted to give to a college with an OTA program to help students who could work with people with disabilities and helping with other rehabilitation services.”
The UA Cossatot Foundation exists to create awareness of the need for scholarships while focusing efforts on raising resources to meet the need and furthering UA Cossatot’s institutional development.
UA Cossatot Foundation Director, Dustin Roberts said, “Mrs. Irvan has a big heart and a strong desire to help others succeed. This gift in memory of her son, Alex, is greatly appreciated and will help a deserving OTA student at UA Cossatot.”
AHS STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN “GET REAL – HERE’S THE DEAL” 02/28/20
Students in Mrs. Tipton’s Financial Literacy class participated in a program Feb. 24th and 25th with Bethany Bailey from the U of A Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service.
Get Real-Here’s the Deal! is a hands-on experiential simulation that gives young people the opportunity to experience your future in a financial decision-making mode.
Each participant was given a card with various career options and salaries along with different family scenarios with single, married or divorced and childless to several children.
There were 12 simulation stations where students made decisions about housing, transportation, food, insurance and other real-life financial choices. Moving from station to station, students made financial lifestyle choices similar to those that adults face, basing their decisions on their family size and affordability.
The program also included instruction on correctly writing out actual checks from their accounts.
Community Members who participated in the project included: Teresa Fawcett, Becky Reynolds, Holly Norman, Tyler Davis, Kirk Mounts, Glenda Smedley, Deanna Sively, Jennifer Sansom, and Carolyn Henderson.
AHS WRESTLERS COMPETE AT STATE TOURNAMENT 02/28/20
The following AHS varsity wrestlers, wrestled at the State Tournament, Saturday, February 22nd, held at Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock:
At 113lbs. Chris Bailey, Jr.,
At 120lbs. Braydon Cross,Jr., 6th place medalist
At 126lbs. Logan Fisher, Fr., 6th place medalist
At 132lbs. Cole Sallade, Jr., 6th place medalist
At 138lbs. Sean Swearingen, Fr.
At 145lbs. Matt Reed, Fr.,
At 152lbs. Grant Young, Jr.
At 170lbs. Cameron Reed, Fr.
At 182lbs. Mason Bush, Fr.
At 220 lbs. Will Ford, Soph. 6th place medalist
At 285lbs. DJ Johnson, Sr.
Top Right: Will Ford
Bottom Left: Cole Sallade, Logan Fisher, and Brayden Cross
Bottom Right: (l-r) Cole Sallade, Logan Fisher, Coach Chaz Mauger, Braydon Cross, Grant Young, and Will Ford
DE QUEEN MAN FOUND WITH METH PIPE AFTER TRAFFIC STOP TUESDAY 02/28/20
A De Queen man was held in the local jail after authorities discovered two travelers with warrants out for their arrest during a traffic stop in Sevier County Tuesday, February 25th.
A report released by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department states that Chief Deputy Chad Dowdle and Deputy Justin Gentry were patrolling Smith Road East of De Queen Tuesday when they observed two people traveling in a green Pontiac car without wearing seat belts.
The driver of the vehicle was identified as Tony Evans, and the passenger is listed as Donavon Ford, both residents of De Queen, Arkansas. The Deputies were informed through dispatch services that Tony Evans had a warrant out in Texas but authorities did not pursue extradition. The passenger, Donavon was discovered to have a warrant out for his arrest in Polk County, Arkansas and authorities did wish to have him picked up.
Donavon was transported to The Sevier County Jail where he reportedly admitted to being in possession of a pipe used for smoking methamphetamines concealed in his boot. Authorities recovered the glass pipe containing suspected meth residue wrapped inside a sock and Donavon was charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, both class D felonies.
DIERKS MAN SENTENCED IN SEXUAL ASSUALT CASE 02/28/20
A Dierks man was sentenced to 15 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections earlier this week on Tuesday, February 25th. The man, 53-year-old Rhodie Romine, was found guilty and sentenced following a bench trial before Circuit Judge Tom Cooper.
Romine was charged with Second Degree Sexual Assault last year in 2019. Prosecutors report that Romine was accused of having sexual contact with an underage victim in March of 2019.
The felony count carried a prison term of five to twenty years. He will be given credit for jail time served.
SEVIER COUNTY ELECTION COMMISSION TO HOLD MEETING TUESDAY 02/28/20
There will be a meeting of the Sevier County Election Commission on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 5:00 P.M. The meeting will be held in the County Courthouse in the Conference Room. This meeting is to canvass the results of the Primary Election held on the same day.
There will be a meeting on the 9th of March to conduct Provisional Ballot Hearings. This meeting will start at 1 P.M. in the County Clerk’s office.
All Election Commission meetings are open to the public.
AGFC TO HOST PUBLIC MEETING IN SW ARKANSAS MARCH 18TH 02/27/20
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host a special open forum for the public at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus on March 18. The forum will begin at 6 p.m. in Hempstead Hall, 2500 S. Main St., in Hope.
The AGFC hosted three open town hall meetings during 2019, and this will be the first scheduled for 2020.
This forum will take on a different look than previous town hall meetings. Instead of Commissioners sitting in front of a crowd to answer questions, they and various AGFC staff will be stationed at tables throughout the room to answer questions on a one-on-one level.
“We received some excellent participation from the public at the last three meetings,” AGFC Director Pat Fitts said. “We hope to offer even more time for individual questions and engagement with the public through this new format. Everyone will still be able to talk directly to Commissioners or staff, but we hope this gives a much more personal environment where people can speak freely.”
Brief presentations are planned before the open question period. Anyone who wishes to speak is encouraged to attend.
Visit the AGFC’s YouTube page for a recap of questions and answers during the previous three meetings. A direct link to the Stuttgart meeting, held in November, is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9B7_7iehas.
ARKANSAS AG TO HOST SCAM PREVENTION WEBCAST 02/27/20
Later this Spring, The Office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will be hosting a scam prevention webcast March 5th in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week. This free webcast on scams and consumer protection will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and is open to the public.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division represents and protects the State, its subdivisions, legitimate business community and Arkansas consumers.
This webcast will review the many ways the Attorney General’s office can be utilized as a resource, common scams to be aware of and how to avoid them, and identity theft. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions during the presentation.
The Attorney General’s office has applied for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) and law enforcement standards (CLEST) credit.
DE QUEEN MAN FACING MULTIPLE DRUG RELATED CHARGES AFTER TRAFFIC STOP MONDAY 02/26/20
A De Queen man has been charged with multiple drug-related Crimes after a Deputy with The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department pulled a vehicle over for traffic violations Monday, February 24th.
A report released by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department states that Deputy Isaac Alvarado was dispatched to the area of HWY 29 and Farm to Market Road in regards to a suspicious vehicle call. While en route to the scene, Deputy Alvarado noted witnessing a vehicle commit multiple traffic violations. That vehicle was listed as a 2013 Dodge Ram being driven by a man identified as Steven Curtis , age 18, of De Queen.
During the traffic stop, a sobriety test was administered that resulted in Curtis being placed into custody for suspicion of DWI. A search of the truck revealed marijuana, THC oil and drug paraphernalia to be located in Steven’s possession. The suspect was transported to the Sevier County Jail in De Queen and charged with possession of a controlled substance, drug paraphernalia, and DWI drugs. All charges are listed as misdemeanors and a court date for Steven Curtis has been set for April 28th, 2020.
MISS UA COSSATOT PAGEANT ANNOUNCED 02/26/20
The second annual Miss UA Cossatot Scholarship Pageant will be held at the historic UA Cossatot Bank of Lockesburg Gymnasium on Saturday, March 28, 2020, at 6:00 P.M. The winner of the pageant will be crowned Miss UA Cossatot 2020 by Perri Lowrey, and will also receive a full-tuition waiver while attending UA Cossatot. This is an opportunity for current and future UA Cossatot students to receive a scholarship, and also to promote their school and their community.
To be a contestant in the pageant you must be a female student who has never been married, you must be seventeen to twenty-one years old, and have a GPA of 2.5 or above. To participate, you must also be a current student at UA Cossatot or an area high school senior who plans to enroll at UA Cossatot. The winner of the pageant will be expected to make appearances and be on UA Cossatot promotional material while being a student at UA Cossatot for at least two semesters after being crowned Miss UA Cossatot.
The UA Cossatot Student Ambassadors are coordinating the pageant, and admission prices for the event are $5. UA Cossatot students and high school students can pay $3 to attend, and there is no fee for children twelve and under to attend.
UA Cossatot Student Ambassador, Jhamilex Hernandez, said, “This is our second Miss UA Cossatot pageant. I know the pageant will be a super fun night, but it will also be an opportunity for the winner to earn scholarship money.”
The theme for the second annual pageant will be “The Roaring Twenties”. For anyone interested in participating in the pageant, please visit www.cccua.edu/missuac for more information.
ARKANSAS TO JOIN MULTISTATE INVESTIGATION OF TOBACCO VAPE COMPANY 02/26/20
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced joining a bipartisan, multistate investigation of JUUL Labs. The 39-state multistate coalition is investigating JUUL’s marketing and sales practices, including targeting of youth, claims regarding nicotine content and statements about risks, safety and effectiveness as a smoking cessation device.
“Misinformation and inaccurate advertising has run rampant in the vaping industry, enticing our youth to use a virtually unknown product” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Millions have been put at risk and it’s time to fight back against JUUL for making profits through deceptive practices.”
While traditional cigarette use has plummeted among young people, vaping is skyrocketing. From 2017 to 2018, Arkansas saw a 78 percent increase in high school students vaping and a 48 percent increase in middle school students vaping.
Rutledge has been at the forefront of the fight against the vaping crisis. In 2019, she hosted two Youth Vaping Summits in Little Rock and Bentonville, bringing medical experts together to help present facts and address the public on the real dangers associated with e-cigarette use.
Rutledge also issued an Enforcement Advisory to 100 online e-cigarette retailers, warning them that it is illegal to sell or ship any nicotine products, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids, to consumers in Arkansas. The advisory warned of potential legal action if businesses are found selling to minors over the internet.
In October 2019, Rutledge filed suit against three online e-cigarette retailers for violating Arkansas laws. By selling and shipping nicotine products and devices to Arkansas children without age verification, the companies are in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
To learn more about the dangers of youth vaping, visit ArkansasAG.gov.
MARGARET DANIEL FOUNDATION DINNER RAISES OVER $9,010 IN ASHDOWN 02/26/20
Ashdown School Board Member Glenda Smedley, Ashdown Teacher and Foundation Board Member Brenda Tate, and Ashdown School Board Member Rosa Bowman.
The Annual Margaret Daniel Educational Foundation Dinner was held in the Ashdown High School Cafeteria on Saturday, February 15 and sponsored by Trammell Piazza Law Firm, PLLC. The cafeteria was set for an elegant dinner of creamy green pea soup (Sponsored by Red River Oil/McIver Abstract & Title), Bibb salad with raspberry maple dressing (Sponsored by Little River Health System), smokey garlic pork loin with mahogany sauce and spiced peaches, loaded mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach & corn, (sponsored by Cowling Title) and cream cheese carrot cake crumble (sponsored by Judge Mike Cranford and Horatio State Bank) prepared by Chef Lois Corbell and assisted by Gary Corbell, Michelle Haskins and Wilma Burke. The delicious meal was served by the AHS Skills USA and Beta Club students and guided by their sponsors Mrs. Amy Silva and Mr. Elmorris Hopkins. The evening entertainment of piano music was provided by Ashdown High School student pianists Ariel Shumake, Ashlyn Harger, Alex Hamby, Dal Ringgold, Tryston McCandless, Grant Young and his dad Mr. Carl Young (sponsored by Red River Federal Credit Union).
The evening raised over $9,010. AHS Principal, Kay York Wortham said, “We are all delighted in the outpouring of support for our students and schools. Grants totaling over $137,000.00 have been awarded since 2005 to teachers in the Ashdown School District. The teachers and staff at Ashdown have many unique and innovative ideas in which they wish to come to fruition and the Margaret Daniel Educational Foundation provides the support and funds to do so.”
The Foundation Board continues to keep the standards high so that each dollar that is given either as a gift, memorial or honorarium is in turn granted to projects and ideas that meet the goals set forth by the Margaret Daniel Educational Foundation. Wortham said, “We want our donors to know that their hard earned dollars are benefitting students in Ashdown to reach higher learning and academic achievement through unique and state of the art ideas and materials.”
Grants have been awarded for World Drumming Materials, sensory stations, butterfly gardens, AHS art supplies, engineering equipment for robots and programming, Colombia University Writing Institutes, the Baby Grand Piano at Ashdown High School, and most recently computer software and equipment for our computer science class to work closely with the AHS Baseball Team on data analysis. These grants have provided over-the-top opportunities for our teachers and students.
The Foundation accepts donations, memorials, and honorariums throughout the year as well as providing for the annual dinner and silent auction in February each year. Ashdown School District Employees that are “invested” have been giving $10 per month which is automatically deducted and given to the foundation each month. According to Wortham, “That is a true blessing.”
Foundation Board members include: Darren Thomas, Brenda Tate, Kari Harger, Beth Provence, Thad Bishop, Katrina Williamson, Mallory Wharton and Kay Wortham.
Any donations can be mailed to: MD Ed. Foundation, 171 South Locust, Ashdown, AR 71822
JONQUIL FESTIVAL SET FOR MARCH 20-22 IN WASHINGTON 02/26/20
The 52nd Annual Jonquil Festival will be held at Historic Washington State Park, March 20-22, 2020 and the Festival is Free to enter, $5 for Parking and Tours at regular prices.
Jonquils are in bloom at Historic Washington State Park and a tremendous line-up of Entertainment and fun await those who will be visiting the park on March 20th through 22nd for the 52nd Annual Jonquil Festival.
In addition to our crafters and food concessions, festivities will include the Four States Iron Munchers, 5K run, and singing competition.
The Washington Volunteer Fire Department will be having a Burger Fundraiser Saturday beginning at 11:30am under the Farmer’s Market pavilion. There will also be a free concert featuring Dillan Cate, a country/rock artist from Northeast Arkansas beginning at 11:30am under large green and yellow entertainment tent.
One thing that makes this festival stand out from other events is the “Atmosphere”. Strolling the board walks, watching children play in the jonquils, picnicking on festival food or enjoying music under the entertainment tent, there is something for every family member to enjoy. After shopping and enjoying a great meal, you cna experience history in the 19th century by touring locations such as the Weapons Museum, the Print Museum, and the Blacksmith Shop, famed home of the Bowie Knife!
Williams Tavern Restaurant will be open serving the buffet all three days from 11am – 3pm.
FIRE CAUSED LOSS OF HOME FOR LOCAL FAMILY, DONATIONS BEING ACCEPTED 02/25/20
More information about a house fire that caused the displacement of a local family last week was released by The De Queen Fire Department Monday. The report states that the De Queen Fire Department was dispatched to the scene of a structure fire on the edge of De Queen Thursday, February 20th, 2020.
Seven members of the department responded to the all-call alarm at 10:30 a.m. and arrived to the house fire by 10:45 a.m. The home was located on Swift Road and The Horatio Fire Department assisted in handling the scene. Water was used to extinguish the fire but Chief Dennis Pruitt confirmed the flames caused a total loss of the structure. The Department left the scene by 12:03 p.m.
No insurance company was listed for the home in the report and no persons received injuries as a result of the fire.
An occupant of the home is an employee of The City of De Queen and donations are currently being accepted at city hall to help the family during this difficult time.
Donations can be dropped of during business hours at city hall, located at 220 North 2nd Street in De Queen, Arkansas.
TRIAL DATE SET FOR NASHVILLE WOMAN WHO FILED FALSE REPORT IN SEVIER COUNTY 02/25/20
A Nashville woman accused of filing a false police report in Sevier County has a trial date set for May 13th, 2020.
Casey Parker, age 31 of Nashville was arrested February 4th, 2020 for falsely reporting that her vehicle had been stopped near the Highway 70/71 intersection by someone impersonating a police officer. Parker claimed the man who stopped her was a black male, weighing around 200 lbs and standing 5’7 inches tall.
Deputies with The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, De Queen Police Department, 9th West Judicial Drug Task Force, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Highway Patrol, Howard County Sheriff’s Department, and the Little River County Sheriff’s Department were all assisting in the attempted apprehension of the alleged suspect before the claim was determined to be a hoax.
Deputies reported as they began investigating the incident, they received information that Parker had made up the story as a prank.
Casey was arrested that same day and charged with Class D Felony for filing a false report and was held in the Sevier County Jail.
Parker’s pre-trial date is scheduled for April 30th.
HARVEST REGIONAL FOOD BANK COMING TO SEVIER COUNTY THIS WEEK 02/25/20
Harvest Regional Food Bank is returning to Sevier County with its TEFAP USDA Commodity Mobile Pantry. “We have several communities in our rural service area that are not fully served by local partner agencies. To be sure that the residents in these areas are served, we are providing direct service where needed.” said Camille Coker Wrinkle, Executive Director of Harvest Regional Food Bank.
Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute TEFAP USDA Commodities directly from their truck on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 from 10 am to noon. The truck will be parked at the Horatio First United Methodist Church located at 304 S Pennock St., AR. Next Mobile Pantry will be on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Recipients must bring photo identification verifying their age and residence in Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one per household. USDA TEFAP Commodities will be available for those who meet income requirements. Please note, the day of mobile pantry will be on a Wednesday.
FREE PREDATOR TRAPPING WORKSHOP IN HEMPSTEAD COUNTY 02/25/20
A free predator trapping workshop for Arkansas Hunters has been announced in Southwest Arkansas this weekend. Trapping provides important benefits for people, habitat and wildlife. The workshop will cover basic trapping safety, trapping equipment and preparation, selective trapping techniques, ethical best management practices, trap modifications and care, as well as fur handling and preparation.
There is free Admission and the workshop will be held at Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center in Columbus, Arkansas on Highway 73 in Hempstead County .
This program is for adults and teens age 15 and older and attendees should meet at the pavilion dressed for outdoors Friday, February 28th at 6:00 p.m.
There is no fee for this program thanks to support of the 1/8 Cent Conservation Sales Tax.
For more information about this or any other program, please contact the Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center at 870-983-2790.
DE QUEEN HIGH SCHOOL QUIZ BOWL TEAM STILL ON TOP IN MID-SEASON POLL 02/25/20
De Queen, Fort Smith Southside, Russellville, Arkadelphia, Mountain View, Haas Hall-Fayetteville and Norfork High School all top their divisions, from 7A to 1A, respectively in a mid-season poll of participating Arkansas Governor’s Quiz Bowl Association (AGQBA) coaches.
The poll was administered by Arkansas Friends of Quiz Bowl, a nonprofit organization comprised of alumni, coaches and others who support quiz bowl in Arkansas by, among other things, funding annual scholarships for quiz bowl players.
Polls were taken in January in which all AGQBA coaches were asked to rank their opponents by division, as determined by their classification in the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA). Weighted points were assigned to higher rankings. A composite score was generated from those weighted points to determine the highest ranking teams in each division.
A similar poll conducted in September prior to the beginning of the academic year’s competitions had Conway, Russellville, De Queen, Arkadelphia, Centerpoint, Haas Hall-Fayetteville and Haas Hall-Rogers as the top ranked teams in each division from 7A to 1A, respectively.
Quiz bowl is an academic competition governed by the AGQBA under the administration of the AAA. During games, players answer questions on a variety of academic topics such as literature, art, music, history, science and math to earn points.
Games are structured such that teams must rely on the individual knowledge of each player to answer most questions but are allowed to work collaboratively on others. State championships will be played in April and broadcast live on the Arkansas Educational Television Network.
5A includes: De Queen, Morrilton, Huntsville, White Hall, and Little Rock Christian.
FIESTA FESTIVAL ANNOUNCED FOR DE QUEEN MAY 2ND 02/25/20
Fiesta Fest will be held on Saturday, May 2, 2020, on North 3rd Street of the courthouse in Downtown De Queen from 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. The festival’s focus is bringing the community together to celebrate all the cultures of Southwest Arkansas while raising scholarship money for UA Cossatot students.
Festivities will include food, vendors, live music, a DJ, folkloric dancing, carnival rides, games, face painting, shopping, a petting zoo, and a mariachi.
The UA Cossatot Student Ambassadors will host the De Kolores 5k run before the festival at 8:00 A.M. in the same location. The entry fee is $20 and t-shirts are guaranteed to pre-registration participants. Registration forms can be found at www.cccua.edu/ff5k. Completed forms can be mailed to Ben Renfrow C/O UA Cossatot 183 College Drive De Queen, AR 71832.
Sponsors and vendors are wanted for Fiesta Fest. Sponsorship and vendor forms can be found online at www.cccua.edu/ff or by contacting Dustin Roberts at email@example.com or 870-584-1172.
TRAFFIC STOP LEADS TO METH DISCOVERY IN DE QUEEN 02/24/20
A man was jailed on multiple drug-related charges after a traffic stop was conducted in De Queen earlier this month. A report released by The De Queen Police Department states that Sergeant Wayne Baker was eastbound on Colin Raye Drive on February 14th when he observed a pick up truck in front of him change lanes without using a turn signal.
Wayne pulled the vehicle over and identified the driver as De Queen resident Stacey Higgins, who was known to officers from previous interactions involving an arrest for methamphetamine possession. Higgins reportedly claimed there was a problem with the turn signal on his vehicle and looked away when asked if he was in possession of anything illegal.
After being granted permission to search the truck, a brown crystal-like substance was discovered to have been concealed by paper inside a cigarette pack. Higgins was transported to the De Queen Police Department where he was read his rights and agreed to answer questions. During the questioning, Higgins also presented a pipe for meth consumption that had been kept in his sock. That pipe was discovered to contain residue of suspected methamphetamine and Higgins was charged with both possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The suspected methamphetamine was reported to weigh a total of .03 grams. Higgins was held at the Sevier County Jail for the crimes.
CREATE BRIDGES SEEKING SURVEY PARTICIPATION FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT 02/24/20
A pilot program focusing on rural economic development in six rural Arkansas counties is surveying employees to learn more about job training and experiences that can bolster businesses in the retail, tourism, entertainment and accommodations industries.
Create Bridges, a multi-state program to help communities strengthen their retail, tourism, accommodations, and entertainment sectors, which in turn provide jobs and business opportunities that can boost rural economies, is seeking survey participants. In Arkansas, the efforts are organized by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Community, Professional and Economic Development unit.
The program was established in October 2018 in two regions in Arkansas. The 3Cs Region includes Howard, Little River and Sevier counties, while the Ozark Foothills Region is made up of Fulton, Izard and Sharp counties.
In 2019, Create Bridges held forums in several counties throughout the state to gather information about community assets in the retail, tourism, entertainment and accommodations industries. They also interviewed business owners to learn about the opportunities, benefits and challenges of operating a business in rural Arkansas.
Now, the project is focusing on gathering employee insight, asking survey participants about their current skills, areas in which they want to improve, and training available to them. The survey also asks about the types of benefits employees appreciate in their jobs, such as flexible scheduling, training opportunities, childcare assistance and insurance. Finally, the survey asked participants about the factors affecting their ability to work, including limited transportation options, housing availability, and child or elder care access.
Employees in the six program counties can access the survey at http://bit.ly/CBEmployeeSurvey. The survey is anonymous and takes about 15 minutes to complete. Results will be used to create strategies to support these businesses including workforce training.
Julianne Dunn, economic development instructor for the Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service, encouraged employees to participate in the program.
“The employee perspective will be invaluable to identifying training and policy opportunities to promote the flourishing of these types of businesses,” Dunn said.
Create Bridges — an acronym for Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism, and Entertainment by Building Rural Innovations and Developing Growth Economies — has already held community forums and a retail academy for regional leaders.
DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 02/24/20
Early voting for the Arkansas Preferential Primary and Nonpartisan General Election began last week and will continue up until the date of the election, Tuesday, March 3.
Although many of the headlines focus on the Presidential race, it’s important to remember the other significant elections on your March ballot including legislators and judges.
Non-partisan elections for judicial candidates and prosecutors are held at the same time as Democratic and Republican primaries. If no candidate wins a majority in the non-partisan races, the two candidates with the most votes participate in a runoff. If a runoff is required, it takes place on the same day as the general election for partisan races, and runoff candidates appear on the general election ballot.
Arkansas is one of thirteen states that choose their state supreme court justices in entirely nonpartisan elections and one of eighteen states that select judges through nonpartisan elections at all trial court levels.
The polls are open between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday. Early voting ends at 5:00 pm on the Monday before the election. The polls on Election Day will be open from 7:30 am until 7:30 pm. Once at the polls, you will be asked to show a photo ID issued by either the United States, the State of Arkansas, or an accredited postsecondary educational institution in the State of Arkansas.
In most counties, early voting is conducted at the county clerk’s office. In counties with off-site early voting (a location other than the county clerk’s office), local newspapers will publish the designated sites. You can also find your polling location and a sample ballot at www.voterview.org.
DANNY RUTH PASSES LEAGUE CERTIFICATION PROGRAM 02/21/20
The Arkansas Municipal League congratulates Danny Ruth, who has achieved or maintained their status as a Certified Municipal Official through the League’s Voluntary Certified Continuing Education Program.
The certified municipal officials were honored during the opening night banquet at the League’s 2020 Winter Conference, held Feb. 12-14 in Little Rock.
Numerous municipal officials representing cities and towns from across the state completed 15 core Level 1 hours and six continuing education hours of study in subjects such as budgeting, personnel management and methods of effective leadership. To maintain certification, graduates must complete six hours of continuing education workshops each year.
The program continues in 2020 with workshops held throughout the year at the League’s North Little Rock headquarters and in June at the League’s Annual Convention in Little Rock. The League is also expanding its certification program this year, offering Advanced Level 2 workshops for those who have achieved Level 1 status in addition to offering a new Certified Municipal Personnel designation for key municipal personnel such as department heads and finance directors.
The Arkansas Municipal League is a service and advocacy organization for the municipalities of Arkansas. The League offers its programs and services to 500 cities and towns in Arkansas and was created in 1934 to assist cities with information and representation in the public affairs of our state and nation. To find out more, please visit www.arml.org.
UA COSSATOT RECOGNIZES AMERICAN HEART MONTH 02/24/20
February is recognized as American Heart Month. The UA Cossatot Employee Safety and Wellness Committee and the college’s Continuing Education department are both promoting heart health and CPR training this month to educate individuals throughout the year.
Statistics indicate that over 17 million people in the U.S. have coronary heart disease, with 234,000 of those individuals in Arkansas. About 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year.
The UA Cossatot Employee Safety and Wellness Committee has teamed up with the college’s Educational Resource Center (ERC) to provide heart-healthy information to everyone at the college.
This month in the ERC, students and employees can view fact sheets, statistics, and suggestions to improve heart health. Large heart magnets displaying signs of a heart attack are also available and free to anyone.
UA Cossatot’s Continuing Education department is also promoting American Heart Month by hosting a free lunch and learn in partnership with the Sevier County Coalition’s Live Well Sevier County Coalition on Thursday, February, 27 at noon. The lunch and learn will take place in the UA Cossatot Weyerhaeuser room located in the Skilled Trades building on the UA Cossatot De Queen Campus.
This lunch and learn will inform those in attendance about early heart attack care and will be presented by Radiologic Technologist, Leah Harper. All are invited to bring their lunch and enjoy this free event.
UA Cossatot is offering CPR and AED training this spring, summer, and fall on a demand basis for both initial certification and recertification. CPR is an emergency procedure that can help save a person’s life if their breathing or heart stops. More than 350,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States per year. Ninety percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest die before reaching a hospital or medical care facility. Knowing CPR can save someone’s life.
This training is available to the general public, daycare centers, industry personnel, or anyone wanting to learn the skill of CPR. To sign up for a class or to learn more about CPR courses through UA Cossatot, please contact UA Cossatot’s Continuing Education department at 870-584-1178.
BANK ROBBERY REPORTS SURFACE IN DE QUEEN 02/21/20
On Thursday February 20th, KDQN received reports about a possible attempted robbery at a bank in De Queen occurring around the 6:00 p.m. hour. We reached out to De Queen Police Chief Scott Simmons and Mayor Jeff Brown for an official statement. Mayor Brown confirmed multiple law enforcement agencies worked a call regarding a bank. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department confirmed a burglary was attempted at Red River Credit Union in De Queen.
According to an official press release from The De Queen Police Department, on Thursday February 20th, 2020 at approximately 6:03 p.m. officers of The De Queen Police Department were dispatched to an attempted robbery call at Red River Credit Union at 6th and Collin Raye Drive in De Queen.
It was reported that a black male approached the front door of the bank and pointed a gun while attempting to open the door. The suspect is said to have then fled the scene and a pursuit was initiated after the man’s vehicle was located.
The pursuit crossed over into McCurtain County Oklahoma where the suspect’s vehicle reportedly became stuck and he then fled on foot.
The Arkansas State Police, De Queen Police Department, Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, and McCurtain County Sheriff’s Department are currently investigating the case.
As of Friday morning, February 21st, no persons of interest were reported to have been taken into custody. De Queen Police Chief Scott Simmons confirmed no suspects have been apprehended but officers are actively working the case.
CITY OF DE QUEEN ACCEPTING DONATIONS TO HELP FAMILY AFTER HOUSE FIRE 02/21/20
De Queen Fire Department Chief Dennis Pruitt has confirmed that a house Fire occurred in the local area Thursday, February 20th and the flames caused a total loss of the structure. The Horatio and Broken Bow Fire Departments assisted in handling the scene.
The home belonged to an employee of the City of De Queen and donations are currently being accepted at city hall to help the family during this difficult time.
More details will be reported in the KDQN local newscasts on 92.1 FM and donations can be dropped of during business hours at city hall, located at 220 North 2nd Street in De Queen, Arkansas.
IMPROVEMENTS COMING FOR KIDD’S LANDING IN HEMPSTEAD COUNTY 02/21/20
On Thursday, February 20th, The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission unanimously authorized $554,800 from the state’s Marine Fuel Tax program to be used for repairs and upgrades to boat ramps and access points throughout Arkansas at its meeting today.
The money will fund eight projects ranging from road repairs and construction to parking lots, boat ramps and courtesy docks.
Marine fuel taxes are collected on gasoline and diesel fuel used in boats throughout Arkansas. The money is held by the Arkansas Department of Transportation and is distributed through a partnership between the AGFC and ArDOT.
In Southwest Arkansas, projects funded included:Improvement of Kidd’s Landing Access on Bois d’Arc Lake in Hempstead County.
The Commission also approved the 2019 White-tailed Deer Strategic Management Plan, which will help guide the agency’s efforts in managing the species for the next five years. The plan was submitted for public review throughout January and was viewed by more than 34,000 people. More than 4,100 public comment surveys were completed during this time to offer input and overall attitudes toward the plan. The final approved plan will be published at agfc.com later this week.
PUBLISHED AUTHOR TO HOST BOOK SIGNING AT LOCKESBURG LIBRARY 02/21/20
Lockesburg native and published author Davida Wynn will be hosting a meet and greet/Book signing event at the Lockesburg Library in Sevier County on Saturday, February 22nd from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
There will be free entry, door prizes, an open forum discussion, a question and answer session and book purchase and signing available. Light refreshments will be served and everyone is welcome.
Davida is a 1999 Lockesburg High School graduate who achieved a Master’s Degree in Nursing and also works as an editor, motivational speaker and advance practice nurse, in addition to being an author.
Wynn is committed to empowering women in all walks of life and she currently resides in Atlanta Georgia, though she often returns to her roots of Lockesburg to stay connected with her friends and family in Southwest Arkansas.
For questions about the book signing, call Ms. Wendy at 870-289-2233.
OFFICER ARRESTS MAN FOUND WITH DRUG PARAPHERNALIA IN DE QUEEN 02/20/20
A local man is now facing a felony charge for being in possession of drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop in De Queen Monday, February 17th.
A report released by The De Queen Police Departments states that Officer Jarrin Platt was patrolling South 4th Street around 1:20 p.m. when he observed a man known to have a suspended driver’s license traveling near the 41B and Hwy 41 South intersection.
Platt conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and confirmed the driver’s identity as Joshua Burcham, age 33 of De Queen. Burcham complied when asked to step out of the vehicle and he reportedly admitted to possessing a needle used for drugs.
A search of his person uncovered a syringe with suspected meth residue and Burcham was restrained. Platt noted finding needle marks on both of Burcham’s arms and he continued the search, but no additional paraphernalia was discovered in the car.
Platt transported the suspect to The De Police Department where he reportedly agreed to answer questions and make a statement. Burcham was charged with drug paraphernalia, class D felony and was held in The Sevier County Jail.
PINKERTON NAMED NEW ATHLETIC AND FACILITIES DIRECTOR FOR DE QUEEN HIGH SCHOOL 02/19/20
A full agenda was handled by The De Queen School Board Tuesday night, as personnel, student healthcare and financial topics were among the most major of the 25 total items addressed during the meeting. A new Athletic Director and Facilities Director will be in order for the districts High School programs as the board agreed to promote from within and hire current Middle School Principal Mr. Lance Pinkerton to fill the role. The position opening was presented following the recent announcement of retirement for longtime coach and AD Bob Sikes.
The first item discussed Tuesday night was the bond closing with Ray Beardsley of First Security Financial. Superintendent Jason Sanders credits Mr. Beardsley for his guidance on the matter, as his financial advice helped the district obtain more than $700,000 in total unrestricted savings.
The board then heard from Angie Walker from the office of De Queen Physician, Dr. Randy Walker in regards to the proposed Leopard Clinic. The purpose of the clinic is to “help students and faculty in the district by bringing health services to them where and when they need it.” The proposed partnership will aim to reduce absences, increase vaccine compliance and fill gaps in the healthcare needs of the district by providing free access to medical services. The board agreed that educating the families and students through parent-teacher conferences, emails and informational materials prior to moving forward with the clinic would be the best approach in implementing the new services.
After holding the conferences and allowing time for public input, the board will reconvene on the issue at the April meeting.
Stephanie Jones informed the board that the show choir has raised a total of $20,450 towards their upcoming trip to attend “America Sings.” The show choir has attended the event 6 times, but this is the first group to be invited to participate in the honor choir. With around $2,000 still needed to pay for all parts of the trip, the board agreed to provide the remaining amount for the show choir to participate in the event.
All financial reports, previous meeting minutes, student transfer, substitute pay, stipends and the calendar for the 2020-2021 school year were approved, as well as the renewal of the administrative contracts.
Following the announcement of the new Athletic Director hire of Mr. Lance Pinkerton, Mr. Sanders also announced that an opportunity has been presented for assistant Middle School Principal, Brandon Lindly. As Mr. Pinkerton will step in to the AD position for the High School, the assistant principal position at the middle school will be condensed with the principal role and Mr. Lindly will serve as the principal and lead administrator for the campus.
Another big personnel change has been revealed with the announcement that Beau McCastlain will be stepping into a media relations position with the district. McCastlain is currently the baseball coach for De Queen, however he has a background in broadcasting and media and he will be leading the video board and video production class at the High School, as well as serving as a point of contact with media relations for De Queen schools. The move from baseball to video board/production will open up a spot for a head baseball coaching position and Sanders reports a recommended hire to replace McCastlain will be announced “in the next month or two.”
Good news is in order for staff members as the 2% raise announced for De Queen teachers is reportedly the first raise implemented in about 10 years. The raise will go in effect for the 2020-2021 school year.
The technology project bids were approved for two companies at a total of $310,308 to cover the installation and set up of cabling, cameras, intercom systems, and access controls for the district to feature top-notch equipment. The selected bids allow the board to save more than $400,000 from what the original bid submitted.
The board agreed to approve the start date of new head football coach Brad Chesshir on March 2nd, 2020, which allows him to participate in Spring football with the program.
Chesshir’s wife, Phylicia was also hired on with the De Queen district within the special education department. She is set to begin the position July 1st.
The final item addressed before adjourning was the selling of the Lockesburg Property on steel street. The highest bid came in at $36,500 and the letter of approval to sell the property was received from the state on Tuesday, February 18th, 2020, just in time for the board meeting.
The next De Queen School Board meeting is set for March 16th at 5:30 p.m. in The District Adminsitration building and the public is welcome.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION MEETING HELD FOR HIGHWAY SALES TAX TOPIC IN MENA 02/19/20
The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) held a public meeting on Tuesday, February 11th at the Ouachita Center on The UA Rich Mountain Campus in Mena to emphasize the need to maintaining the state sales tax on the sale of Gasoline, which is set to expire in 2023.
Featured speaker for the meeting, Scott Bennet, ARDOT Director, advocated a proposed constitutional amendment for the 2020 General Election Ballot-Issue1- that would make the tax permanent. The half-percent sales tax that was originally approved by voters in 2012 and set to expire after a 10-year run.
Bennet expressed concerns in Mena about a grim future for Arkansas infrastructure if the tax is allowed to sunset. Bennett projects the tax will raise about $205 million per year for highways and around $89.6 million to be split between cities and counties.
Approval of the proposed amendment would provide funding for thousands of miles of interstate highways and farm-to-market roads, as well as money for repairing deteriorating bridges. Bennett said the measure is needed because highway revenue has remained flat over the last 30 years. “We have had three fuel tax increases since 1983, but people are also buying vehicles that are more fuel efficient,” Bennett said. “It has kept the revenue flat while prices for construction and repairs could have continued to increase.”
Bennet said $10 million could have paid for 200 miles worth of overlay in 1995 but today, it would only cover around 54 miles. Bennett said allowing the tax to sunset would call for a 30% reduction in funding.
The November, 2020 ballot proposal, referred to voters by the Legislature, is the second part of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s $300 million highway plan.
The meeting in Mena was one of 12 total sessions planned around the state in which attendees are able to view displays, ask questions and hear from ARDOT staff about the highway tax.
UA COSSATOT HOSTS TRANSFER FAIR MONDAY 02/20/20
The 2020 UA Cossatot Transfer Fair took place on Monday, February 17, at UA Cossatot’s De Queen and Nashville Campus. Thirteen four year universities visited the college to meet with students to discuss transfer options.
The UA Cossatot Transfer Fair gives students who have chosen to go to school at UA Cossatot the chance to meet with university representatives to learn about how they can continue their education after obtaining an associate’s degree.
rkansas Tech University Assistant Director for Transfer Recruitment, Sabrina Billey, said, “I am excited to be at the UA Cossatot Transfer Fair. Arkansas Tech University has several educational opportunities for transfer students. There are five transfer scholarships available that community college students can apply for and use at Arkansas Tech University that range from $3,000 to $9,000.”
Billey added, “We also have a Tech Transfer Tracker where transfer students can view degree agreements online between UA Cossatot and Arkansas Tech. On the Tracker, students can also view how many of their credits will transfer.”
The representative from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville also provided information to students. She informed them that this past year the University of Arkansas announced that they would honor UA Cossatot’s tuition rate by offering the Arkansas Transfer Achievement Scholarship.
Anyone who graduates from UA Cossatot with a transferable degree to the University of Arkansas, which would be an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or an Associate of Arts in Teaching degree, can pay the same tuition rate at Fayetteville that they spent at UA Cossatot.
The University of Arkansas’s tuition rate per hour is $246.12. UA Cossatot’s in-district tuition rate per hour is $72. This scholarship is available for those who qualify and will allow UA Cossatot students the opportunity to continue to pay UA Cossatot’s tuition rate of $72 at Fayetteville.
UA Cossatot students wishing to learn more about transfer agreements and options at other four year universities can contact UA Cossatot Student Services Advisor, Jocelin Galvez, at 870-584-1163.
ARKANSAS AG FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST HOT SPRINGS WOMAN FOR SCAM 02/20/20
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a Hot Springs woman who facilitated a multi-million dollar international sweepstakes scheme. The complaint alleges that Jean Butler, 73, is funneling fraudulently obtained funds through numerous bank accounts to the operators of the scheme in Jamaica.
“Jean Butler was and has always been an active, willing participant in this fraudulent money mule scheme,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Money mules like Butler who help scammers take advantage of Arkansans and people across the country must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
In these types of schemes and in this particular case, the operators, who are often in foreign countries, contact potential victims and say they have won a jackpot or lottery but must first pay taxes or fees before receiving the prize. The victims are instructed to send this payment to a person in the U.S., commonly referred to as a “money mule,” like Butler. The money mule opens bank accounts and deposits money received from these victims. The operators then withdraw those funds for themselves. In Butler’s case, investigators estimate she opened numerous bank accounts and facilitated the transfer of about $6 million to the operators of the scheme in Jamaica. The victims, usually seniors or other vulnerable persons, never received the promised prize and discover all too late that the money they sent to the money mule is gone.
Butler is accused of acting as a money mule since 2017 in a scheme purporting to be the “Mega Millions” lottery. After opening bank accounts, Butler would inform the bank that she would be traveling out of the country that way avoiding raising suspicions about the foreign transactions. Banks would eventually suspect fraudulent activity and close the accounts. Butler would then open an account in another bank and continue the activity.
Investigators determined that Butler was aware of her actions and complicit in her involvement in the scheme. The various victims of this scheme are reportedly from throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, alleges that Butler violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and seeks restitution for affected consumers, civil penalties and an injunction prohibiting Butler from further participating in this or any other scheme. The lawsuit also requires her to cooperate with any additional law enforcement investigations into the scheme. Any person who violates the ADTPA may be subject to civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation. The Attorney General’s Office coordinated this effort with the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The recruitment of money mules is on the rise, often deceptively advertised as “work from home jobs” or “online jobs”, and appear to be attractive options for the elderly or college students to make money easily. It is common for those who participate in money mule activity to not even be aware they are facilitating an illegal operation. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be a victim of money mule activity, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
DE QUEEN POLICE FIND PARAPHERNALIA, MAN SUSPECTED OF DWI DURING TRAFFIC STOP 02/18/20
An Oklahoma man was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and arrested for suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated on President’s day in De Queen.
A report released by The De Queen Police Department states Sergeant Bucky Sawyer was patrolling Locke avenue in De Queen when he observed a vehicle in front of him accelerate in speed quickly. The vehicle was reportedly clocked at 47-miles-per hour in a 35-mile-per hour zone. The driver of the car was identified as Markus Hill of Smithville, Oklahoma, age 25.
Upon making contact with the driver, the officer noted the smell of an odor associated with alcohol coming from inside the vehicle and asked Markus how much he’d had to drink. The suspect reportedly claimed he’d consumed one alcoholic beverage an hour earlier, however a Portable Breathalyzer Test revealed Markus to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.12
Sergeant Wayne Baker assisted in administering additional field sobriety tests and officers asked if any drugs including marijuana, methamphetamine or cocaine were located inside the vehicle, Markus reportedly claimed he did not, however the police report lists a green pipe with residue as evidence found in the car.
Markus Hill was taken into custody for possession of a marijuana pipe and suspicion of DWI.
Since taking office in 2015, Rutledge has hosted 384 Roundtables with over 4,300 participants. Each meeting has included officials from local businesses, local and State government, farmers, faith leaders, educators and representatives from various other industries.
4-H POP-A-TOP CAN DRIVE 02/18/20
Ethan Wolcott reminded #1 Country listeners of the ongoing 4-H Pop-a-Top Can Drive being conducted by the Sevier County 4-H. This is a state-wide campaign and Sevier County placed 1st in the Region and 3rd in State for this community project last year.
4-H is focused on community service and a new 4-H service club has been formed. The Sevier County Community Changers will assist local groups with community service projects. Call (870) 784-0748 or (870) 584-3013 for more information.
SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE ENCOURAGING VISITORS 02/17/20
The Ashdown High School Scholarship Committee will soon be awarding scholarships to 2020 AHS graduates, as it has since its formation in 1986, and contributors are encouraged to either continue donations as they have in previous years or become new scholarship donors and contribute to the success of new Ashdown High School graduates in their post-secondary endeavors.
“Last year, we awarded 65 scholarships with a total value of $37,090” states Ronda Pounds, chairperson of the committee. “This brings the total scholarships to over $462,557 awarded to 1,116 students over the course of our 34-year history.”
Pounds also states that 100% of all donated monies are awarded every year and that all donations are tax deductible.
The Scholarship Committee has also authorized an alumni fund through which former students of Ashdown High School and businesses may contribute to the program in any amount and at any time. Such contributions may be made in honor or memory of friends and loved ones.
As in previous years, scholarship recipients will be announced and scholarships awarded at a tea sponsored by the committee. The date for this year’s tea is Sunday, May 3 at 2:00 p.m. in the Ashdown High School cafeteria. “All donors are welcome at the tea,” Pounds continues, “and welcome to participate in presenting the scholarship they are giving if they would like.”
To be awarded to 2020 AHS graduates, contributions must be received by April 2. They may be mailed to or dropped off at the Ashdown School District Administration Office at 751 Rankin Street, Ashdown, Arkansas 71822.
EARLY VOTING FOR PRIMARY ELECTION STARTS FEBRUARY 18th 02/17/20
>Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston wants to remind Arkansans that Early Voting for the Preferential Primary & Nonpartisan General Election begins Tuesday, February 18th.The polls will be open between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday. Early voting ends at 5:00 pm on the Monday prior to the election. Election Day is Tuesday, March 3. The polls on Election Day will be open from 7:30 am until 7:30 pm.
SEVIER COUNTY QUORUM COURT STAYS PUZZLED ON TIME CLOCK ISSUE FOR COUNTY EMPLOYEES 02/14/20
A small list of agenda items managed to host a “packed house” and a continued discussion of a puzzling time clock issue for the Sevier County Quorum Court at the February 10th meeting.
With just four items under the “new business” category and only two presentations in the committee and reports section, it was an item in the “old business” topics that held the JP’s up in lengthy discussion. The Time Clock Management system item is one KDQN has previously reported on in multiple recent meetings of the county Quorum Court.
After hearing an update from the Sevier County Hospital Board of Governors and a report from Kaylen Lewies of the Jason Owens Law Firm in regards to legal policies, the use of time clocks presentation was delivered, as The Quorum Court heard from Becky Boyett of Financial Intelligence Systems out of Little Rock. Ms. Boyett explained the logistics of the proposed time keeping system and answered questions from the JP’s, Department Heads and meeting attendees.
The Sevier County Quorum Court first approved the state-operated electronic timekeeping system for county employees back in December of 2018, but the discussion didn’t begin to heat up until nearly a year later, when the topic of implementing the system was included on the Quorum’s agenda for the November 2019 meeting. The hot button conversation was put on hold in November and was tabled again until this month.
The proposed system will require all county government employees to clock-in and out of all shifts using a digital method through computer or cell phone app to log the hours worked. The system will also keep track of sick time and vacation hours for employees as well.
The discussion sparked a variety of reactions and response from the supervisors responsible for tracking employee time, as a concern for overtime regulations was brought up, along with the issue of emergency response time for Sheriff’s Deputies and logistics for the County Road Department. The elected officials of the county are split on the issue with differences in opinion.
After the presentation, the item was then tabled for the fourth time and will be addressed again at the March 9th meeting.
After the JP’s reviewed the 2018 County Audit results, a request for the allocation of funds to replace two wrecked vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department was discussed. The combined amount of the two vehicles in need of replacement totals more than $23,000 and after insurance, Sheriff Gentry reported the amount needed is roughly $12,000. No action was taken during the meeting, as Sheriff Robert Gentry is set to collect bids and then report back to the Quorum Court before the purchases are made.
The last items on the agenda included the re-appointment of Greg Wright as the delegate for The Arkansas Association of Quorum Courts and the 2% increase on dispatch fees for Horatio before the meeting was adjourned.
The next Sevier County Quorum Court meeting will be Monday, March 9th at 2:00 p.m in the conference room of the courthouse. The public is welcome.
Justyce is a 2015 De Queen High school graduate, mother of a two-month old son named Dexter, and wife to De Queen Police officer Doug Johnson. Her family connection to law enforcement doesn’t just include her city officer husband, as her mother is also employed by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department as a Dispatcher.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office is temporarily closing access to several boat ramps on Millwood Lake because of high water levels.
The impacted boat ramps are River Run East, River Run West, White Cliffs, and Wilton Landing.
The project office is monitoring the water levels and will reopen the ramps when the water recedes.
Officials at the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office regret any inconveniences this may cause.
If you have questions, please contact the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office at 501-340-6609.
Recreation information can be found on the Internet at www.swl.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/littlerockusace, and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/usacelittlerock.
Friday, February 21, 2020, at the First Baptist Church Texarkana, located at 3015 Moores Lane in Texarkana, TX, multi-Grammy Award-winner Bill Gaither will host a spectacular evening of music, laughter and encouragement featuring the talent of the prestigious Gaither Vocal Band.
During the summer of 2019, the Gaither Vocal Band celebrated the release of a new recording, Good Things Take Time, produced by famed country and gospel music performer and studio musician Gordon Mote. The recording is a musical snapshot of a special season for this lauded quintet, featuring Gaither, Wes Hampton, Adam Crabb, Todd Suttles and Reggie Smith.
Year after year, Bill Gaither has brought the Homecoming Tour into cities worldwide, performing to packed houses with collective attendance figures exceeding a million people and being ranked among the top concerts for tickets sold worldwide in any music genre during the past two decades. Each concert showcases gospel music’s finest talent and draws new listeners with every city. Joining The Gaither Vocal Band for this special evening will be talented female vocalist, Charlotte Ritchie and powerful male vocalist Gene McDonald, as well as guitarist and comedian, Kevin Williams.
Gaither continues to be delighted by audiences’ response to the concerts, now more than 40 years after he quit his day job as a teacher: “I’ve always said it all starts with a great song, and we are fortunate that each concert includes great songs that have stood the test of time. With all the musical choices that are available now, there is still a special place for the joy and optimism that reside in Gospel music. Good news never gets old.”
Named ASCAP’s Songwriters of the Century, Bill and Gloria Gaither have written more than 700 popular gospel songs throughout their multi-decade career, including favorite standards “He Touched Me,” Because He Lives,” and “There’s Just Something About That Name.” Since 1992, when Gaither began recording the celebrated Homecoming series of DVDs and CDs, most every volume has gone gold or platinum with sales totaling approximately 100 million volumes. The programs appear regularly on television networks around the world.
This event with the Gaither Vocal Band at the First Baptist Church Texarkana in Texarkana, AR, begins at 7:00pm and will celebrate timeless themes of faith, unity and eternal hope through a variety of music the whole family will enjoy. Complete information, including ticket pricing, is available by visiting www.gaither.com or www.premierproductions.com. To charge tickets by phone or to obtain additional information call 1-855-484-1991.
WESTERMAN WEEKLY 2/14/20
MAN ARRESTED FOR DWI, DROVE WITHOUT LICENSE IN DE QUEEN 02/13/20
A man found driving without a license was charged with DWI and held in the Sevier County Jail after authorities worked a motor vehicle accident in De Queen over the weekend.
A report released by The De Queen Police Department states that around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, February 8th, officer Hanney arrived on the scene of a car accident on West Locke Avenue and noted observing a vehicle “had run off the road and taken a street sign with it.”
The driver of the car was identified as Jose Luna, age 21 of Nashville, Arkansas. Luna reportedly spoke limited English and a nearby resident assisted in translating. Luna allegedly claimed to have a vison problem and also stated that another car had driven by with headlight beams on high. He also reportedly admitted to not having a driver’s license and a series of sobriety tests were administered.
The portable breathalyzer revealed a .13 and Luna claimed he’d consumed two beers, and officer Michael Barnes noted seeing a 30 pack of beer in the car. After completing additional Sobriety tests, Luna was arrested for driving while intoxicated and read his rights.
Another breathalyzer test taken later at the jail showed Luna to blow a .146. The suspect was charged with DWI and driving with out a license then booked in the Sevier County Jail.
ARKANSAS TOURISM EARNS STATE TOURISM OFFICE OF THE YEAR AWARD 02/13/20
Arkansas Tourism has been named the State Tourism Office of the Year by the Southeast Tourism Society.
The 2020 Shining Example Award winners were announced during the Southeast Tourism Society’s annual Connections conference in Little Rock, which was attended by representatives of several southeastern states.
The State Tourism Office of the Year award was given in light of team accomplishments throughout the Arkansas Tourism office, including effective tourism marketing, creativity in design and development, and implementation of new projects.
A recent economic impact report indicates that Arkansas hosted more than 32 million visitors in 2018 who spent $7.37 billion in total travel expenditures, $408 million in state taxes and $161 million in local taxes. This data indicates a healthy, thriving tourism industry across Arkansas.
The job of Arkansas Tourism is not just about numbers though. It’s also about finding creative and innovative ways to help tourism partners promote their attractions and destinations, while also enhancing the traveler’s experience.
In 2019, Arkansas Tourism conceptualized and launched several new projects that had not previously been implemented in the tourism field. The most prominent example was the creation of “Ark Tank,” a competition for start-up tourism businesses within the state that debuted during the 2019 Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
Other highlights of the year included: Arkansas Tourism took part in its first international sales missions trips including a Travel South International Sales Mission trip to Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou, China and sales trips to the UK and Ireland. Arkansas Tourism began a new partnership with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to produce “ARKANSAS: Love Where You Live,” a print publication targeting potential audiences for relocation to the state. Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., served as an ambassador for Arkansas’s participation in the U.S. Civil Rights Trail by participating in a satellite media tour broadcast to local news outlets across the U.S.
In his appearances, Mayor Scott promoted not only Central High School National Historic Site and other Arkansas civil rights sites, but also Arkansas’s culinary scene and other tourism attractions. Arkansas Tourism collaborated with the University of Arkansas to launch an experiential learning experience for high school students.
Arkansas Tourism increased its professional development opportunities for the industry by hosting a Crowdriff Webinar and Google Webinar.
In addition to these external-facing projects, Arkansas Tourism also launched several new programs for internal staff. These programs not only increased the team’s professional knowledge, they also fostered a spirit of teamwork and collaboration.
STATE PARK IN MENA TAKES TOP PRIZE IN TOP CHEF COMPETITION 02/13/20
Queen Wilhelmina State Park took home the top prize today at the Arkansas State Park’s Top Chef Competition. It was the first time they won in the seven years of the contest.
Five park restaurants participated in the event, sponsored by Ben E. Keith, at the Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute. “We made a fajita salad with roasted asparagus,” said winning Chef Ken Morse. “We think it was our special seasoning on the fajita steak that caught the attention of the judges.”
Contestants from Queen Wilhelmina, DeGray Lake Resort, Petit Jean, Mount Magazine and Ozark Folk Center state parks prepared a new entrée and sides that each restaurant does not currently have on its menu but is considering adding it as a selection.
Judges from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, Ben E. Keith and UAMS used criteria such as flavor, presentation, and workstation tidiness to crown the victor.
DE QUEEN/SEVIER COUNTY BOARD OF DIRECTORS ANNOUNCED 02/13/20
The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce board election committee met to tally the ballots cast for the four positions open on the current board, and the 2020 Board of Directors have been announced.
Incoming board of directors:
Tara Athey – Hale Real Estate
Monica Pearce – Monica Pearce Designs
Angie Walker – Dr. Randy Walker Family Clinic
Callie Miller – De Queen-Mena Educational Co-op
Current board of directors:
Chris Chandler – Smartphone EMT
Christy Gallegos – HealthCARE Express
Sheila Ridley – Sevier County
Amanda Billingsley – Avanna Boutique
Emilee Vaught – Vaught Care Center
Zahir Kamruddin – Individual
Angela Smith – Bailey Discount Building Supply
Lori Jones – Ranch House Cafe
Hector Gallegos – HealthCARE Express
Denise Smith – Country Girls Cafe
Jan Wolfe – Wolfe Chiropractic
Daniel Figueroa – Selena’s
Alicia Gonzales – Meraki Hair Studio
Montana Frachiseur – Pilgrim’s Pride
Jackie Taylor – UA Cossatot
ASHDOWN SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER TRAVELS TO WASHINGTON D.C FOR ASBA 02/12/20
Ashdown School Board Member Rosa Bowman traveled to Washington D.C. February 2-4 to represent the Arkansas School Board Association. She currently serves as President-Elect for the State Association.
The trip was part of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Advocacy Institute 2020. Mrs. Bowman has served on the Ashdown School Board since 2006 and is a retired teacher.
She was excited to travel to the nation’s capital for a second time to be a part of the Advocacy Institute, and said, “I’m honored to have the privilege to again meet with our national legislators concerning upcoming legislation and to thank them for all they do in providing federal funding for our schools.
This was a great opportunity to consider the proposed federal mandates and to discuss the impact that they will have on the students of our state and community.”
While in Washington, D.C., she had two days of meetings and workshops focused on IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act), broadband for rural communities, and E-Rate funding. On the third day, she had the opportunity to meet one on one with Arkansas Legislators serving the state of Arkansas. She met with Senator Tom Cotton and Congressmen Bruce Westerman and Rick Crawford. This gave Mrs. Bowman the opportunity to communicate to them the important issues of our local schools.
While in Washington, Mrs. Bowman was able to tour the Smithsonian Museum of Natural Science, see the 45 carat Hope Diamond, and see the original Declaration of Independence.
Ashdown Superintendent, Casey Nichols said, “We are so excited Mrs. Bowman had the opportunity to again represent both Ashdown Public Schools and the entire state of Arkansas in order to voice the needs for our district and state to the legislators who serve us in Washington. We are so proud of her dedication to our students.”
SEVIER COUNTY CATTLEMAN’S ASSOCIATION 02/12/20
The monthly meeting of the Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association will be held on Monday, February 17th at 6:30 p.m. at the Adams Building of UA Cossatot.
Morris Ranch Inc. will sponsor the meeting, and the speaker will be Rachel Bradshaw with Farm Service Agency.
A drawing will be held for all those who have paid their 2020 dues in December and January, and the prize is a steak dinner from the Ranch House Café.
Come eat with the organization, learn about some valuable programs available to agriculture producers through Farm Service Agency, and renew your cattlemen’s membership if you haven’t already.
They welcome new members as well, and all who renew in February will be entered in the drawing for a steak dinner to be drawn for in March. For more information, call 870-584-8809.
HILLTOP BAR BURNS DOWN IN EAGLETOWN WEDNESDAY 02/11/20
The City of Broken Bow, Oklahoma has released information about a fire that caused a McCurtain County bar to burn down last week.
A report from The Broken Bow Fire Department states that on Wednesday, February 5th at approximately 11:45 p.m, Firefighters were dispatched to the scene of a commercial structure fire at Hilltop Saloon off Highway 70 East in Eagletown, Oklahoma. Multiple members of the department worked to extinguish the flames, along with assisting aid from The Eagletown and De Queen Fire Departments.
The report states that Broken Bow Fire arrived on the scene by 11:59 p.m. February 5th to discover the building fully engulfed and “50%” of the structure already burned to the ground.
Firefighters pulled lines to suppress the blaze from both sides of the building and reported the fire to be out by 1:28 a.m. At that time, command of the incident was transferred back to The Eagletown Volunteer Fire Department.
There were no deaths or injuries reported and the state Fire Marshall was contacted to assess the scene and investigate what caused the flames.
The owner of the property is listed as Jeanette Rojas, a resident of De Queen, Arkansas. KDQN reached out to the office of the State Fire Marshall to retrieve the official report and officials stated that “the investigation is ongoing at this time”. Details will be reported as information becomes available.
SEVIER COUNTY HOSPITAL MEETING HELD THURSDAY 02/11/20
The most recent Sevier County Hospital Board of Governor’s meeting was held Thursday, February 6th in the conference room of the county courthouse in De Queen.
The meeting was lead by acting chair Greg Revels, who filled in for chairman Steve Cole. After the prayer and opening remarks, the board welcomed a presentation from Mark Webb of Vizient, who announced that he will be making himself available as a resource for the construction and equipment planning aspects of the hospital project.
The board agreed an important point to consider as construction draws closer is making the most cost-efficient decisions possible when planning equipment purchases and patient logistics. The next item discussed was the floor plan design for the medical center. The board previously sought input from the local community and held a special meeting to go over the results submitted.
After discussing several issues within the floor plan that still needed adjusting, an additional meeting to finalize the blueprint for the new Sevier County Medical Center was scheduled for Wednesday, February 12th at noon in the county courthouse conference room.
It was reported that a communication error resulted in the final floor plan being estimated at 1500 square feet more than planned, when the goal was to reduce the overall center size by 1500 square feet. Details still needing to be finalized in the plan include locations of the kitchen, inpatient rehab services, trash removal coordination and other logistics.
The next item on the agenda was discussing the land and site survey for the property in which the center will be located. A full site survey is reportedly in the works, as well as the laying out of electric lines and water lines.
In regards to the old De Queen Medical Center, an update was provided by Attorney Lynda Johnson of The Friday Firm and Sevier County Judge Greg Ray. It was revealed that the old building in De Queen will be put up for auction by the Commission of State Lands in September of next year. Greg Ray reported the property, however, is “uninsurable” and will require a 3-year minimum before anything else could be built in the old center’s place. Ray also currently has full authority over the hospital license and money from the receivership account has also been transferred to the Sevier County Court System.
The final item on the agenda was about developing a support system for the hospital through an official foundation. That foundation would serve a purpose of directly benefiting the Sevier County Medical Center through efforts coordinated by local people in the community who have a strong interest in the well being of the center. The foundation board will consist of 9-15 community residents who will be in charge of donations, fundraisers and events that will benefit the new medical center. The board approved the decision to form the official organization and the group title has been chosen as “The Sevier County Medical Center Foundation.”
The next Sevier County Medical Board of Governor’s Meeting is set for this week on Wednesday, February 12th at noon in the county courthouse conference room.
ASHDOWN HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS SIGN WITH COLLEGES THIS MONTH 02/10/20
Ashdown High School senior football players signed to continue playing at the next level. Brett, Joseph and Delrae will play at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Anthony Hopkins will play at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas.
(l-r) Brett Bond, Anthony Hopkins, Joseph Paredes and Delrae Smith
Front row (l-r): Brett Bond, Anthony Hopkins, Joseph Paredes and Delrae Smith Back row (l-r): Matt Richardson, Chuck Crow, Joe Baker, Jake Norwood, David Wilson, Tyler Sheppard
TRUCK DRIVING TRAINING OFFERED AT UA COSSATOT 02/10/20
UA Cossatot is offering a Truck Driving Training Program this spring at its Nashville Campus for individuals seeking a career as a professional truck driver.
The training program is provided through the college’s Continuing Education department and is available in March, April, and May.
The UA Cossatot Truck Driver Training Program is an intensive one hundred and sixty-hour training program with a proven record of providing quality, in-depth truck driver training that will have students on the road in four fast-paced weeks. The training program includes a combination of up-to-date classroom, field, and on the road training.
The total cost to sign up for the course is $3,695, which includes books needed for the training. Financial assistance may be available for students interested in being in the program.
Classes will take place Monday through Thursday on March 2-26, April 6-30, and May 4-28.
The instructor, Phillip Jones, will teach the course from 6:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. each day. The Truck Driving Training Program at UA Cossatot will be offered three times this spring semester.
The deadline days to register for one of the three options is February 24, March 30, and April 27. Truck drivers, on average, make $39,070 a year in Arkansas. In only four weeks, students in this program at UA Cossatot can expect to be prepared to enter a career where there is a bright job outlook.
The college is also offering a Truck Driver Refresher Program designed to reacquaint individuals who haven’t worked in the trucking industry for a long period of time with the opportunity to get refreshed. In this program, the student will learn skills to obtain his/her CDL license and re-enter the trucking industry as a professional commercial truck driver. The course is also available to those who would like to improve on their existing skills, such as backing, shifting, or driving.
The course is customizable to each student’s needs and may include classroom, range, and road time. Persons entering this course must have his/her permit or a valid CDL. The program includes forty hours of training and costs $900, which includes the CDL Skills Test.
To learn more about the Truck Driving Training Program, the Truck Driver Refresher Program, or to enroll in either program, please call UA Cossatot’s Continuing Education department at 870-584-1178.
10TH ANNUAL IRONMEN’S WILD GAME COOK-OFF 02/10/20
De Queen First Assembly 10th Annual Ironmen’s Wild Game Cook-Off will be held Saturday, February 29th in the Hospitality Hall. This year’s speaker will be John Williamson. Area men may enter their Wild Game dishes for a chance to win great prizes. Dishes for judging must be turned in and registered between 4:30 pm and 5:00 pm at the church. The meal will begin at 5:30 pm.
Prizes include: Browning Abolt 270 Rifle Ruger 10/22 Rifle Chain Saw Weed Eater and many other great prizes. There will also be a Rack Em up Contest for the Best Mount, Best Rack, and Ugliest Rack. Call 584-3435 if you have any questions.
LITTLE RIVER COUNTY CHAMBER AWARDS BANQUET WINNERS ANNOUNCED 02/10/20
The annual Little River Chamber of Commerce membership banquet was held Thursday evening, February 6th in the Barbara Horn Civic Center on the U of A Cossatot campus in Ashdown.
Congratulations to the following award recipients: The Steve Pearce Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Joe Mack Bennett. Rhonda Fleming Pounds received the Clayton Castleman Public Service Award. The Panther Ambassador Award was presented to Cole Smith, while Kenzie Cowan received the Gator Ambassador Award. Teachers of the Year was honored as follows: Jennifer Simmons for Ashdown; Samantha Lace Smith for Foreman; and Lynze Greathouse for U of A Cossatot. New Construction Award went to Davis Feed Company. The Renovation Award went to Tres Agaves. Noah’s Ark Daycare won the Small Business Award, while Southern Precision Fabrication took Large Business honors. And the School/Community/Non-Profit Award was presented to the Methodist Church in Ashdown and Reverend Jim Cross, our own “Voice of the Panthers” on 92.1.
Congratulations to all the award recipients at the Little River Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet last Thursday evening in Ashdown.
2020 CENSUS UPDATE 02/10/20
A greater effort is being made in many Arkansas cities to emphasize getting an accurate count in hard-to-count communities during the 2020 census effort this spring.
Getting an accurate count is important in helping cities receive the maximum federal funding that’s based on population. Every year, census data is used in sending billions of federal funds to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other services.
At last week’s Count Me In Census 2020 Kickoff in Little Rock, it was estimated that census numbers are projected to amount to an average of $3,300 per person per year over the next ten years. Undercounted residents include children under younger than five, people of color, people with limited English language skills, those in rural communities, those who distrust the government, those who move a lot, and the homeless.
Mireya Reith, executive director of Arkansas United, an advocacy group for immigrants, said state, local, and community partnerships will be needed because the 2020 census faces several unique challenges. Reith said mistrust of government isn’t limited to immigrant communities. Farmers in rural Arkansas also fear government intrusion. Reith said that in De Queen, there is a large number of hard-to-count residents from immigrants with limited English language skills to farmers who don’t trust the government because they think it will make their taxes go up.
Tyson Foods is also participating in the efforts to ensure an accurate count. With 25,000 team members in Arkansas, John Tyson says that communicating the importance of census participation to employees and dedicating company time and resources to helping everyone understand is vitally important.
The goal of the Count Me In 2020 campaign is to tear down fear and distrust, and to start building bridges among people in communities.
AGFC ANNOUNCING YOUTH SHOOTING SPORTS SCHOLARSHIPS 02/10/20
Student athletes considering participating in this year’s Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program have a new reason to sign up and build their shotgunning skills: the chance to claim a $1,250 scholarship as top gun in the Champion of Champions shoot that will be held in conjunction with the program’s state championship event.
The additional scholarship opportunity is possible thanks to the Homebuilders Association of Greater Little Rock. In November, they signed a five-year agreement to donate $2,500 each year to the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation to support the scholarship. The remaining portion of the donation will be held in an annuity to continue funding the scholarship in the future. AYSSP is a competitive trap shooting program created by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 2007 for any student in grades 6-12.
Teams practice on their own beginning in February, and then compete in regional tournaments held each weekend from the end of April through May. Teams and individuals who qualify through regionals then advance to the annual state championship.
Jimmy Self, AYSSP coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, says the contract will renew at the end of its five-year term unless either party opts to cancel it at that time, so the donation may very well support young shooters’ college goals for the foreseeable future. “We’ve always been able to provide a scholarship to the top teams in the senior division at the state championship, but this will be the first time we can offer the top overall shooter a scholarship as well,” Self said.
According to Self, before this donation it was entirely possible for the best shooter in the whole program to get a trophy and a pat on the back, but no scholarship like the top overall team. In some cases, individual shooters have come to the state championship’s “Champion of Champions” competition from teams that didn’t even show up to the final weekend’s shoot. “Usually the top shooter is on a qualifying team, but there are cases when the entire team could not make it to the competition day,” Self said. “We hope the added incentive helps motivate some of our young outdoors-oriented students to take up the sport and compete.”
Visit www.agfc.com/ayssp for more information on the program.
ARKANSAS AG LAUNCHES PSA ON CHILD ABUSE 02/10/20
LITTLE ROCK –This week, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released her public service announcement (PSA) on her YouTube channel addressing the warning signs of child abuse.
One in every five children in Arkansas suffers abuse from family, friends or neighbors. “Many of us were blessed to grow up in a loving home, but not every child does,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If something doesn’t seem quite right, say something, and save a child’s life.”
The Special Investigations Department (SID) of the Attorney General’s Office has statewide jurisdiction. These certified law enforcement officers are committed to protecting Arkansas’s children by investigating and arresting those who sexually exploit children online. SID is also a member of the Arkansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and cooperates with federal, State and local law enforcement agencies.
The public service announcement can be viewed now on Rutledge’s YouTube page and it can later be seen on various networks and cable stations throughout the State. Arkansans who have questions can email the office at oag@ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.
HORATIO STUDENTS TO ATTEND BOYS AND GIRLS STATES 02/06/20
American Legion Post 54 of De Queen is sponsoring Duncan Connor and Melissa Arellano from Horatio High School to participate in the upcoming American Legion Boys State and the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State programs. American Legion Boys State will be held at the University of Central Arkansas and the Girls State will be held at Harding University from May 24-May 29.
The Boys and Girls State programs are a one week intensive education program of government instruction for high school juniors. They are programs where each participant becomes part of the operation of their local, county and state government. Connor and Arellano will partake in various activities to include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies’ band, chorus and recreational programs.
ASHDOWN COMEPTES AT FBLA CONFERENCE THIS WEEK 02/06/20
The FBLA District IV Conference was held on Wednesday, Feb. 5th at UACCH in Hope. Ashdown High School had 16 students competing in various events. Several students qualified to compete in State Competition on April 6-7 in Little Rock by placing in District competition.
Above: Aly Mills was installed as the District IV Reporter and will work with the District IV Officer Team for the year 2020-2021.
Public Service Announcement – Gracie Sisemore – 1st Place Business Ethics – Chelbi Gathright, Rhys Parker and Ansleigh Patrick – 3rd Place Digital Video Production – Morgan Billingsley and Kaya Stultz – 3rd Place Introduction to Public Speaking – Aly Mills – 3rd Place Public Speaking – Sara Huddleston – 3rd Place Business Calculations – Addison Smedley – 5th Place Business Communications – Ellie Loosier – 5th Place Personal Finance – Lanyce Hemphill (not pictured) -6th Place
STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS DELIVERED AT TUESDAY’S COUNCIL MEETING 02/06/20
The agenda for the council meeting in De Queen Tuesday night listed just three items and one of those was the notable state of the city address delivered by Mayor Jeff Brown.
The address reading took place after the approval of the previous meeting’s minutes and time for citizen comments. During the comment session, Imagination Library organizer Z.Z. Kamruddin informed the council that the program has been a big success for Sevier County since launching the local chapter in 2018. Kamruddin thanked the council for their financial contribution but announced the $2,500 donation would not be needed this year due to an outpour of support from the community.
Suzanne Babb used the comment time to report the annual chamber of commerce awards ceremony and banquet set for Thursday, February 27th in The De Queen High School Cafeteria. This is the 100th anniversary of the De Queen chamber of Commerce and this year, the theme for the banquet will be “Dress for the Decade.” Attendees will be encouraged to wear outfits that were popular during their chosen decade between 1920-2020.
The first item of new business was a fiesta fest presentation from Dustin Roberts of The UA Cossatot Foundation. City Attorney, Erin Hunter informed Mayor Brown and the council that using taxpayer money for a donation towards anything that is not a youth organization (like boys and girls clubs or imagination library) is a violation of Arkansas constitution.
Though the council will not be able to donate any money, they can still help with the festival by closing off city streets and routing traffic for the event.
The next item on the agenda was the state of the city address delivered by Mayor Jeff Brown. KDQN was permitted to record the reading and the file has been uploaded below:
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The last item on the agenda was information about a COPS grant presented by Police Chief, Scott Simmons. Simmons reported that the city will be applying for a grant in the amount of $125,000 through The Governor’s office that would allow for an additional school resource officer to serve the campuses of De Queen public schools. Simmons said 75% of the funds can be used for the officers salary. After three years, the grant would run out and the city would be require to foot the bill for that officer’s pay. After a brief discussion, the council discussed a few housekeeping items that will be addressed at the next meeting and then the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting is set for Tuesday, February 18th at 5:30 p.m.
HORATIO STUDENTS ATTEND FBLA COMPETITION IN HOPE 02/06/20
Horatio FBLA students dressed to impress for their spring conference and competitions this week. UA Hope hosted over 750 competitors just for the district . A total of 12 students placed top 5 in the district and will advance to State in several categories. Superintendent Lee Smith reports “All of the FBLA students represented Horatio well, and we couldn’t be more proud of them!”
Congratulations to the participating students:
Jacob Brecheisen-Securities & Investments Samantha Harris-Personal Finance Aubrey Matheson-Impromptu Speaking Gabbi Litchford-Job Interview Hannah Norman-Political Science Haylin Halcombe-AgriBusiness Madisyn VanBibber-Bus Communications Angela Gutierrez & Magaly Sandoval- Publication Design Team Diego Zenon, Norma Resendiz, & Melissa Arellano- Marketing Team
ARKANSAS HUNTERS CAN TRY FOR ‘TRIPLE TROPHY AWARD’ 02/06/20
The 2019-20 Arkansas deer seasons are winding to a close, and a handful of archers are still looking for a last-minute harvest before the February 29th deadline. But, there’s plenty of time for successful hunters to submit an application for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Triple Trophy Award. Hunters who qualify for the Triple Trophy Award must, within a single annual deer season framework, take at least one deer by each of the three legal hunting methods – modern firearms, muzzleloading rifle or pistol, and archery/crossbow tackle. Qualifying hunters receive a patch and a certificate suitable for framing. The program was started in the mid-1980s to encourage the harvest of antlerless deer and to spread hunting pressure through the three seasons, reducing crowding. It may be hard to believe now, but at one point in the 1930s, only 500 deer were estimated to still exist in Arkansas. Unregulated market hunting and subsistence hunting nearly caused them to be completely wiped out. The AGFC introduced deer from other states and relocated deer to game refuges, where deer were protected and allowed to grow without disturbance. Harvest of female deer was strictly prohibited to enable the deer herds to expand. By the 1980s, however, deer populations had grown to healthy enough numbers to allow some harvest of does to begin the change in management from growth to maintenance. But breaking the taboo of harvesting does was a difficult process. In fact, it is still frowned upon by some hunters, despite the need for more doe harvest to keep the herd balanced and healthy. If does are protected from harvest, the ratio of does to bucks can be too far out of balance. This can lead to many does being bred later in the season than usual as well as too many deer competing for limited resources, which impacts the health of bucks and does alike. Visit www.agfc.com/tripletrophy to learn more and apply.
TWO SW ARKANSAS SCHOOLS CLOSE FOR ILLNESSES 02/06/20
Two area school districts have announced their classes are dismissed for the remainder of this week due to a high volume of student sickness. Officials at the South Pike County District and the Mineral Springs School system both announced late Tuesday afternoon that school will be shut down through Friday. Both districts will utilize the A.M.I. days for this week. Mineral Springs officials say their conference basketball games slated for Friday night are still scheduled to be played at this time.
OFFICER IMPERSONATION REPORT DETERMINED TO BE A HOAX 02/04/20
On Tuesday, a press release containing information about a black male impersonating an officer was published to the community by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department.
The press release stated that a woman, who has now been identified as Casey Parker, age 31 of Nashville claimed she’d been pulled over for a turn signal violation by a black male driving a white, unmarked Chevrolet car with blue lights.
Deputies with The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, De Queen Police Department, 9th West Judicial Drug Task Force, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Highway Patrol, Howard County Sheriff’s Department, and the Little River County Sheriff’s Department were all assisting in the attempted apprehension of the alleged suspect who was reported to be impersonating an officer.
Multiple news reports were announced on local media sources to inform the public they should “Be on The Look out” for the suspect, described as a black male weighing 200 lbs, standing 5’7 inches tall.
On Tuesday, February 4th, 2020 after authorities spent numerous hours investigating the reported incident, Deputies with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department received information about Casey Parker making the scenario up as a prank, and filing a false report.
Casey was arrested that same day and charged with Class D Felony for filing a false report and is currently being held in the Sevier County Jail.
The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department would like to inform the public that they take every call the comes in very seriously and they are here to take care of all the citizens of Sevier County to the best of their ability. Anyone who calls in false reports will be dealt with accordingly. Sheriff Robert Gentry would like to thank everyone who shared the information on social media.
DE QUEEN/SEVIER COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BANQUET ANNOUNCED 02/05/20
The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce has announced their annual banquet and awards ceremony for later this month. The event will be held on Thursday, February 27th with doors to open at 5:30 p.m. in The De Queen High School Cafeteria. This year, the chamber will be celebrating their 100th anniversary, and the theme for this year’s banquet is to “Dress for the Decade” as attendees are encouraged to come dressed in attire from their favorite 10-year span from 1920-2020. Community awards will be given out during the event, and a meal will be served by The De Queen High School cross country team. There will also be a silent auction and deals on merchandise that have been donated by chamber members through the live auction. The De Queen Jazz Band will be performing live and tickets are on sale now. The cost is $25 per person or $200 per table. Email DQchamber@gmail.com or call 870-584-3225.
SEVIER COUNTY COALITION TO HOST LUNCH-AND-LEARN ON HEART HEALTH 02/04/20
February is Heart Month, the perfect time to learn lifesaving information about heart health. On Thursday, February 27, 2020, the Sevier County Coalition’s Live Well Sevier County Committee and UA Cossatot will be co-hosting a Lunch-n-Learn entitled “Early Heart Attack Care” at UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus. The presentation will begin at 12:00 noon in the Weyerhaeuser room, located in the Skilled Trades Building, and will conclude at 12:30 p.m.
Presenter Leah Harper will be teaching participants to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart attack including risk factors, how symptoms can differ for men and women and atypical presentations of a heart attack. Harper says, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in the United States,” adding “Last year alone, 647,457 people died of heart disease. A number of these deaths could have been prevented.”
Harper is a registered Radiologic Technologist (RT(R), ARRT) and native of Sevier County with a background is in Radiologic Sciences. She has worked at Christus Saint Michael Health System for over 36 years, including 26 years in the Heart Cath Lab. She is currently the supervisor for the Heart Cath, Electrophysiology and Interventional Radiology labs; and active in community outreach. Harper says, “Heart health is something I’m very passionate about. Heart disease doesn’t just happen to older adults. The conditions that lead to it are now being seen in younger adults more often. My goal is to save lives by educating the public on how to be savers instead of enablers.”
All are invited to bring their lunch and join Mrs. Harper for this free event. For more on Lunch-and-Learn programs, visit the Sevier County Coalition website at www.seviercountycoalition.com or call UA Cossatot’s Continuing Education Services at (870) 584-4471.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO HOST PUBLIC MEETINGS 02/04/20
The Arkansas Highway Commission has scheduled a series of regional public meetings in the first quarter of 2020. The purpose of these meetings is to educate and inform the public while soliciting input regarding proposed projects that could be funded by a continuation of the temporary half-cent sales tax. A total of 12 meetings have been scheduled, and the next session will be held on Tuesday, February 11th at 5:30 p.m in The Ouachita Center of UA Rich Mountain in Mena. Other meetings are planned in West Memphis, Harrison, Texarkana, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Maumelle, Springdale, Batesville, Jonesboro and El Dorado . These sessions will consist of an open house program where attendees can view displays and visit with Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) staff. This will be followed by a brief formal presentation on the current funding and condition of the Arkansas Highway System as well as the impact that continuation of the half-cent sales tax would have in funding system preservation and new capital projects moving forward. In early 2019, Governor Hutchinson announced his highway funding legislative package that resulted in Act 416 and a proposed Constitutional Amendment, House Joint Resolution 1018. Act 416 provides revenue from motor fuel taxes, electric and hybrid vehicle registration fees, and casinos resulting in an estimated $95 Million in new funding to ARDOT. If the constitutional amendment is approved by voters, it will provide an additional estimated $205 Million annually to ARDOT and an estimated $43 million each to cities and counties. Citizens with an interest in learning more about the Governor’s proposed highway program are encouraged to attend one of these 12 regional public meetings. Each of the meetings will be identical in format and presentation material. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions that will be addressed by Commission Director Scott Bennett.
GAME AND FISH TO HOST PUBLIC MEETING IN SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS 02/04/20
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host a special open forum for the public at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus on March 18. The forum will begin at 6 p.m. in Hempstead Hall, 500 S. Main St., in Hope. The AGFC hosted three open town hall meetings during 2019, and this will be the first scheduled for 2020. This forum will take on a different look than previous town hall meetings. Instead of Commissioners sitting in front of a crowd to answer questions, they and various AGFC staff will be stationed at tables throughout the room to answer questions on a one-on-one level. “We received some excellent participation from the public at the last three meetings,” AGFC Director Pat Fitts said. “We hope to offer even more time for individual questions and engagement with the public through this new format. Everyone will still be able to talk directly to Commissioners or staff, but we hope this gives a much more personal environment where people can speak freely.” Brief presentations are planned before the open question period. Anyone who wishes to speak is encouraged to attend. Visit the AGFC’s YouTube page for a recap of questions and answers during the previous three meetings. A direct link to the Stuttgart meeting, held in November, is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9B7_7iehas.
LIBRARY SNIPPETS: BY JOHNEYE FISHER 02/04/20
Each Sevier County Library Branch recently received a wonderfully generous gift of 100 new children’s book from The Brownstone Book Fund. The staff would all like to say a BIG Thank you to Diane. Johnye says Without folks like her our libraries could not continue to thrive. At The De Queen Library this month, The Caplinger family will be donating a bronze plaque in memory of their Beloved mother Thema Caplinger. She instilled upon her children the love of reading and are still avid readers. There will be a ceremony on February 20th at 1:00 pm. Everyone is invited to attend. We will have a story time and Making Valentine’s with Klondike February 12, 2020 at 4pm. Everyone is welcome to come on in and make Valentine Cards for the Nursing center folks here in De Queen. Don’t forget those Domino games going on Wednesdays at 10am.You can contact 870-584-4364 or visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/seviercountylibrary Happy Valentines Day from the Horatio Library. They will have a children’s program on February 15th at 10 a.m. Every Thursday there is a Mexican train domino game at 9:30 with a trophy for the winner to take home that week. They have several new books on the shelf from authors such as Stewart Woods, Suzanne Wood Fisher, and Melinda Leigh just to name a few. They also have 100 new children’s books that were donated by The Brownstone Book Fund and they have several used Christian Fiction books on the way. Any residents with an interest in starting a Book Club in Horatio should call at 870-832-6882. Have a Blessed month and we hope to see you at the Horatio Library. At the Lockesburg Library there will be a book club discussion of February’s selection “Where Somebody Waits”, by Margaret Kaufman at 10:00, Saturday, Feb. 8. March’s book club selection will be available to pick up at this meeting. Please join us on Saturday, February 22 for a “Come and Go”, “Meet the Author/ Book Talk/Book Signing” with Davida F. Wynn from 10-11:30. Davida F. Wynn is an advanced practice nurse, author, motivational coach, and speaker. She has resided in the Atlanta, Georgia metro area for the past five years. She is a 1999 graduate of Lockesburg High School. Her family continues to live in our area. Contact Wendy Clay at 870-289-2233 for more information concerning programs, books and activities at the library. Due to recent changes the hours for Gillham Library will be Saturdays 10 am- 2pm until further notice. For more information, you can contact at the Gillham Library at 870-386-5665. They are currently looking for volunteers please call the De Queen Library at 870-584-4364
SHOPLIFTERS ARRESTED IN DE QUEEN SUNDAY 02/04/20
Two local residents were charged with theft of property and held in the Sevier County jail after police responded to a shoplifting call in De Queen Sunday evening. According to a report released by The De Queen Police Department, Sergeant Wayne Baker and Officer Michael Barnes were dispatched to Wal-Mart on Colin Raye Drive around 5:54 p.m. Sunday, February 2nd in reference to a report about shoplifters inside the store. The suspect was described as a white male, wearing sunglasses and a cap who was reportedly seen switching his tennis shoes for a pair of boots and leaving them in the box on the store rack. He also consumed a red bull energy drink in the store without paying for the item. The man was identified as Shane Patrick Davis, age 25 of De Queen. Authorities waited outside until Davis exited the premises and then placed him in custody. Later that evening, a woman identified as Kristen Arrender, age 31 of De Queen was confronted by police for alleged thefts from the Wal-Mart store. Arrender reportedly admitted to having previously taken a bottle of shampoo, hair dye, a notebook and cologne. The suspects reportedly admitted to the shoplifting and were charged with theft of property. Both Davis and Arrender were read their Miranda Rights separately and held in the Sevier County Jail before being released due to overcrowding.
LOCKESBURG COUNCIL NOTES FROM JANUARY MEETING 02/04/20
The most recent Lockesburg City Council meeting was held Tuesday, January 14th and a variety of agenda items were addressed. The council agreed to continue their scheduled meeting times of 6:30 p.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of each month throughout 2020. Other action items approved during the meeting include new back tires for the city’s Kabota Tractor in the amount of $800 each, as water supervisor Justin Ruth reported the purchase would need to be made in time for Spring. An additional lawn mower may be coming as well. Justin also noted that the city is currently down to just one mower and it was agreed that price estimates will be collected and reviewed at the February meeting. Before entering an executive session, the council approved Wastewater Superintendent Matt Webb to attend a wastewater 1 class in Clarksville class March 10-12 with testing to be conducted March 13th. It was announced that work was under way for dead trees and various streets around town. Following the executive session, two raises were revealed for city employees. Recorder/Treasurer Becky Jegstrup will be receiving a 6% raise and after being presented with a certificate from the City Clerk Recorder Association, a 25 cent per hour raise is set to go in effect for Deputy Municipal clerk, Joanna Giusti. The council has also reviewed applications for a clerk assistant but no action was taken.After going over several engineering proposals, it was agreed that Al Franks Engineering will be hired to complete the wastewater project. In addition to a new audio recording device to be purchased for city meetings, new items have arrived for the Lockesburg Senior Center. The Lockesburg Lions Club purchased picnic tables and chairs that were delivered for the seniors. The council agreed to give $100 per month to the center and the current employee will cook on Fridays. In March, the city will be applying for a grant to supply funds for finishing the kitchen. After approving the previous meetings minutes, December Financial report, and bills, the meeting was adjourned. The next Lockesburg City council meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 11th at 6:30 p.m. in city hall.
DE QUEEN TEACHER ACHIEVES NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION 02/03/20
Jill Collins, literacy facilitator at De Queen Elementary, recently achieved National Board Certification in the area of Literacy: Reading-Language Arts for early childhood through middle adolescence. She joins the ranks of teachers across the country who have proven their abilities as highly accomplished teaching professionals. “These new National Board Certified Teachers will continue to change the way their students learn, and their proven ability to be the best teachers they can be will have a ripple effect on their schools and their communities for years to come,” said Peggy Brookins, NBCT, president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. “I’m especially proud to see that large numbers of new NBCTs are teaching in schools where they are needed most.” Including Collins, the De Queen School District now employs 11 National Board Certified teachers. According to Collins, “The rigorous process of achieving National Board Certification has helped me strengthen and refine my teaching skills. I have become more reflective in selecting only the best methods and materials to meet the unique needs of each learner. I am grateful to work in a district that supports teachers in reaching their full potential, encouraging them to continue to grow professionally throughout their careers. The students I have taught and the families I have gotten to know are among some of the greatest blessings in my life,” “The staff at De Queen Elementary School is extremely proud of Mrs. Collins and her accomplishments. She works diligently with all of the students at DES as well as serves as a resource to all teachers. She is a valuable member of our DES family,” said Terriann Phillips, De Queen Elementary principal. In order to become a Board-certified teacher, teachers complete a performance-based, peer-reviewed process, demonstrating their proven impact on student learning and achievement. In addition to the new NBCTs, more than 24,000 teachers are currently pursuing Board certification. An increasing number of states and districts support growing the number of Board-certified teachers because of the impact they see on teachers and students. “National Board Certification is about elevating the teaching profession; and it is about helping children achieve at higher rates,” said Brookins. “The certification process impacts teaching and learning well beyond an individual teacher’s classroom.” More about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards can be found at www.nbpts.org
DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 02/03/20
Representative DeAnn Vaught reports the Department of Finance and Administration announced that effective February 3, 2020, all 134 State Revenue Offices will have the ability to issue a Real ID. Arkansas is taking part in the federal nationwide initiative to improve the security of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, which will help fight terrorism and reduce identity fraud. Starting October 1, 2020 anyone who boards a domestic flight or enters a federal building will need a Real ID driver’s license, Identification Card or other approved documentation required by the United States Department of Homeland Security. When we previously reminded constituents of the upcoming deadline, just 25 State Revenue Offices could issue a Real ID. Now, DFA has expanded the capability to all revenue offices to make it more convenient. The cost to obtain a REAL ID does not differ from the cost to obtain or renew a license or ID. Current Driver Licenses (DL) can upgrade to REAL ID at any time by purchasing a duplicate license. The fee for a duplicate DL is $10.00 and expiration dates remain the same. If within one year of the expiration date, you may renew and convert to the Arkansas Real ID. At regular renewal periods, the REAL ID may be purchased for $40.00 and will not expire for eight (8) years. Real ID will not replace a U.S. Passport or allow border crossing. A Real ID Driver’s License is optional and only required for individuals who wish to continue using their Driver’s License to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings after October 1, 2020. Should you have any questions about the Real ID, please contact the Office of Driver Services at 501-682-7059, email questions to email@example.com or VISIT www.ar.gov/realid or www.dhs.gov/real-id
ARKANSAS AG ANNOUNCES LAWSUIT AGAINST HOT SPRINGS TOW BUSINESS 02/03/20
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit today against Classic 24 Hr. Towing & Recovery, a Hot Springs business for operating without a license, mandatory permits, vehicle registration or liability insurance. The owner, Paul Vujicic, advertises that his company has been in business for more than 40 years, yet evidence shows, it has never been properly licensed. “Every time this illegitimate business is put to work, its customers are unknowingly put at risk,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas has these regulations in place for the safety and protection of both consumers and business owners.” According to the complaint, Vijicic has been cited repeatedly by the Hot Springs Police Department for failure to register his towing vehicles, failure to have insurance, as well as safety and moving violations. In 2014 Classic 24 Hr. Towing was caught operating without the required safety permits. The investigator informed Vijicic that he was violating Arkansas law. A similar interaction occurred in 2017, and Vijicic was cited for displaying a fake safety permit on the rear window of one of his tow trucks. The Towing and Recovery Board demanded he quit towing immediately. Vijicic continued to operate. In 2018, the Towing and Recovery Board ordered Vijicic to pay a $10,000 civil penalty before the Board would issue him a license or safety permits. Again, Vujicic was later discovered to be operating with two unpermitted trucks. In 2019, Vujicic applied to perform towing and recovery for the Arkansas Department of Transportation. These harmful acts violate the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA). Each violation can amount to a $10,000 fine. The Attorney General asks that the Court prohibit Classic 24 Hr. Towing & Recovery from doing further business until it has all the required permits. To file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
A De Queen woman was held in The Sevier County Jail after Deputies with The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call near Lockesburg this week.
According to a press release provided by the Sheriff’s Department, Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Highway 317 South East of Lockesburg on Thursday, January 30th to assess a report of a suspicious person in a pasture.
Upon arriving at the scene, Deputies noted coming in contact with 43-year-old Geishla Driver of De Queen and it was reported that Driver appeared to be under the influence of narcotics and was unaware of her location. Deputies also reportedly noticed Geishla attempting to conceal a “marijuana cigarette” in her hand.
Once Geishla was taken into custody, deputies discovered a smoking device and a small amount of a crystal-like substance, believed to be methamphetamine in her possession. Geishla was transported to The Sevier County Jail and charged with drug paraphernalia as well as possession of a controlled substance. Her bond was set at $25,000.
APPEAL REJECTED IN POLK COUNTY 01/31/20
The Arkansas Supreme Court Thursday rejected the appeal of death row inmate Karl Roberts of Polk County who argued that he shouldn’t be executed because he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Justices upheld a lower court’s ruling against Roberts, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1999 killing of his 12-year-old-niece Andi Brewer. Brewer’s body was found near Cove. Brewer’s mother, Republican State Representative Rebecca Petty, has served in the Arkansas House since 2015.
Arkansas doesn’t have any executions scheduled and its supply of lethal injection drugs expired last year. The state has said it is not actively searching for lethal injection drugs.
Roberts’ attorney had argued that the inmate’s schizophrenia hampered his defense during his 2000 trial in Polk County because he believed that his jailers were secretly recording him.
The court, however, said there’s no categorical prohibition on sentencing a person with schizophrenia to death. It also said his claim of incompetency wasn’t ready to be adjudicated since no execution date has been set.
INTERNSHIPS ANNOUNCED FOR ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMISSION 01/31/20
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is accepting applications for summer internships until Feb. 28, 2020. These internships, funded by sales of the AGFC’s Conservation License Plates, let students gain hands-on training and experience needed to compete for a future career in conservation. Betty Bryant, internship coordinator for the AGFC, says many students are interested in careers in wildlife management, fisheries, wildlife health and conservation education, but often lack the hands-on experience to stand out from the crowd of applicants.
“Each year thousands of students graduate from college, but very few have real-world experience,” Bryant said. “Internships not only give them that training, but they also help them decide if the career they’re studying for really does fit them.”
Internships are available across the state in conservation education, wildlife management, fisheries management, and wildlife law enforcement.
To qualify for an internship, an applicant:
Must have a declared degree in the conservation field. Must have 60 hours of college credits earned by the time the Internship begins.
At the time of application, must be a college student, graduated within the previous 12 months, or currently enrolled in a post-graduate program.
Must have a 2.5 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
Selected interns will be responsible to coordinate with their college or university to obtain course credit for their work.
Applications should include a current resume, a one-page cover letter, a copy of college transcripts and a completed application form.
Visit https://jobs.agfc.com for more information on the internship program and a list of openings for 2020.
VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE 01/31/20
Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston is encouraging all Arkansans to exercise their civil rights by getting registered and voting in the Preferential Primary and Nonpartisan General Election being held on March 3rd. The deadline to register to vote if you are not already registered is Monday, February 3rd. Arkansans can obtain a voter registration application from their local county clerk’s office, public assistance office, public library, revenue office, military recruiting center, or you can download one from the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.arkansas.gov.
If you are already registered to vote, you do not need to register again. You can check your voter registration information, polling location, or view a sample ballot at www.voterview.org.
If you have moved or your information has changed and you need to update your voter registration, you have until February 28th to make this change before the March 3rd election.
To check your voter registration information, find a polling location or view a sample ballot, visit VoterView.org
WESTERMAN WEEKLY 01/30/20
Arkansas Fourth District U.S Congressman, Bruce Westerman’s weekly interview with Jay and Wiley of The morning Brew on KDQN:
SEVIER COUNTY LIBRARIES IMPACTED BY MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE 01/30/20
In 2018, Arkansas voters passed Issue 5 with the purpose of increasing the state minimum wage from $8.50 per hour up to $9.25 by 2019. This year, on January 1st of 2020, the minimum wage went up to $10 per hour and next year in 2021, the pay rate for workers in the natural state will increase to $11 per hour.
With the federal minimum pay per hour at just $7.25, on paper, Arkansas appears to be ahead of the curve, offering higher wages than the surrounding states of Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Though increasing the pay rate per hour each year has been seen as a positive move for many, some local Arkansas agencies with set budgets have found themselves struggling to adjust to the change.
In Sevier County, the Library system is one of the agencies affected most by the mandated increase. With more than 17,000 residents calling Sevier County home, many local citizens rely on the libraries for computer access, research, academic assistance, activities for children, learning opportunities and much more.
The locations in De Queen, Horatio, Gillham and Lockesburg allow the Library system to provide needed resources and information for the community through books, magazines, newspapers and public internet access. The agency also provides office and administrative services like faxing, copying, scanning and a confidential notary is featured on staff as well.
The staffing department is an area that the minimum wage increase has affected the most.
According to Head Librarian, Johnye Fisher, hours for part time employees were reduced at the Gillham Library per advisement from The county Quorum court last year in anticipation of the wage increase for 2020. Gillham was chosen for the reduction in hours due to it being the lowest populated branch of the Sevier County Library system.
Two more positions in the system were cut back on hours as well, and the agency has been seeking volunteers to help the libraries continue to serve the community in spite of the cutbacks.
With the reduction of hours already implemented, the question of location closures has presented itself, though the topic is not unfamiliar to Johnye, who has served the county as head librarian for nearly 10 years.
At the end of 2015, the Ben Lomond Branch of the Library system closed permanently. According to Johnye, one way to prevent another Branch from closing is through the help of volunteers. Ideally, the volunteers would serve as staff who help the library operations continue as normal, without affecting the agency’s already tight budget.
The volunteers may help the branches hang on, but the main thing that would make the libraries thrive is economic development in the county.
Johnye explained that the only way for the library budget to increase is through property taxes. When more businesses are established and more houses are built within the county, the libraries receive a millage of 1/10th for the personal property taxes.
For example, if a resident pays a personal property tax of $500, the library receives 50 cents of that tax paid. Though economic development is the main route for increasing the Library budget, the branches also graciously accept both monetary and book donations so they can continue providing literature and resources to the community.
Some local businesses have taken it upon themselves to supply some of those resources directly, as Domtar Paper Mill has provided paper donations to the library since before Johnye even joined the library staff.
In December, each branch was gifted a gracious donation of 100 children’s books ranging from Pre-K through early readers. The donation was provided by The Brownstone Book Fund, a private foundation based in New York City that focuses on fostering literacy and encouraging parents and kids to read together.
Children and families in the local area are invited to check out the new collection featured at each location.
Sevier County is currently in the midst of growing economically and new businesses as well as tourist attractions are in the works for the area, however the Library systems will continue to hold a tight budget as the minimum wage hike hits $11 per hour next year.
Johnye, her staff and The Library Board of Trustees will be continuing to work hard to keep from closing another branch, however community assistance is always appreciated and will help the worthy cause.
To donate time, supplies, books or money to The Sevier County Library system please call 870-584-4364.
Visit seviercountylibrary.com for more information about services offered.
ARKANSAS AG RELEASES TIPS FOR TAX SEASON 01/30/20
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has issued a warning for residents during tax season. As she states that “tax season is like hunting season for con artists.” Between the fear of making a mistake on your taxes, and the increased sophistication of scammers, opportunities are endless for bad actors looking to line their pockets during tax season. Each year, many scammers pose as agents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by sending emails with fake tax bills and transcripts to Arkansans. The malicious emails often include an attachment that is not a document from the IRS, but instead infectious malware. The email may even threaten arrest if payment is not received immediately using a gift card, prepaid debt card or wire transfer.
“No matter how convincing an email from an IRS employee may seem, even using your name and home address, no government entity will ever ask for payment from an untraceable source,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This is just another shameful attempt at playing with Arkansans’ emotions and stealing their hard-earned money.”
The increase in data breaches has given criminals more access to sensitive information than ever before, helping make their schemes more believable.
Consumers who receive this scam via email should forward it to the IRS at email@example.com and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
ONLINE PAYMENTS NOW BEING ACCEPTED BY COSL FOR DELINQUENT PROPERTIES 01/30/20
Property owners who have delinquent real estate taxes can now pay online, the Commissioner of State Lands Office announced. “We’re working to accommodate property owners and modernize the office,” Commissioner Tommy Land said. “As part of that, we’ve begun accepting online payments for delinquent real estate taxes.”
It’s the latest step the COSL office has taken to simplify the process of redeeming tax-delinquent real estate.
“We spent much of 2019 significantly reducing red tape for owners trying to redeem real estate,” Land said. “A major part of that was reducing the paperwork required and expanding the payment options we could accept. We appreciate the Arkansas General Assembly for approving the legislation that cleared the path for this.”
In the past, only the property owner or the owner’s heir could redeem tax-delinquent real estate from the COSL office. Heirs seeking to redeem were required to submit documentation of their claim to the land.
Changes implemented mid-2019 allow anyone to redeem real estate back into the owner’s name. “What we’ve done simply streamlines the redemption process,” Land said. “It does not change the ownership; it just gets the property out of our office and back onto the county’s tax rolls.”
Accepting payments online expands that simplification process.
“Our office will still have some in-house work to do after receiving payment, so this is not instant redemption,” Land said. “But it will be faster and easier. Now taxpayers can redeem property at their convenience, without worrying about mail delivery or office hours.”
The COSL accepts online payments at its website, https://www.cosl.org.
STOLEN TRUCK RECOVERED IN SEVIER COUNTY OVER THE WEEKEND 01/29/20
Authorities in De Queen have reported that a vehicle stolen from a local gas station has been recovered and a suspect was taken in to custody.
According to a report from The De Queen Police Department, Sergeant Wayne Baker was notified by Officer Jarrin Platt that a call about a stolen pick-up truck had come in around 5:10 p.m. on Friday, January 24th. The truck was reportedly taken from the “Tiger Mart” store on Colin Raye Drive in De Queen.
Chief Deputy Chad Dowdle, Investigator Brian Hankins and Deputy Kevin Cross of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department assisted in handling the call.
The officers took a report from Jordy Roldan, who informed police that he left his unlocked truck running in the parking lot while he went inside the store to purchase coffee and the truck was gone when he came back outside. The vehicle, a 2002 Red F150 Crew Cab, also had Roldan’s Iphone 6s Plus inside at the time of the theft.
Authorities contacted the phone service company associated with the cell and used GPS coordinates to locate the truck in real time, which was reported to have been traveling North on Interstate 30 towards Malvern, Arkansas. Authorities apprehended the man found driving the truck and arrested 40-year-old Jason Bodenheimer and transported him back to Sevier County. The suspect was charged with theft of property and held in the County Jail.
Video footage from the convenience store later showed Bodenheimer on camera getting into the driver’s seat of Roldan’s truck at the time of the theft.
The following day on Saturday, January 25th authorities were informed that Roldan was able to get his vehicle back without damages.
ASHDOWN PHARMACY PROGRAM NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED 01/29/20
Starting during the 2019-2020 school year, Ashdown High School students were given the opportunity to be part of the new Pharmacy Technician Program. Pharmacy Tech Instructor Amy Silva received notice in January that the program at AHS is now nationally recognized by the National PTCB as a PTCB-Recognized Education Training Program! A press release from PTCB said, “Those who have completed your program will be eligible to apply for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) starting in 2020.” Students will also be able to receive a variety of complimentary benefits after completing this program.
The Pharmacy Technician program at AHS is a full-year course that covers Pharmacy Practice as well as Pharmacology. Eight of the 10 fastest-growing careers in Arkansas are within the healthcare field. The goal of adding this program is two-fold. The first is to provide students with the opportunity to be career ready upon graduation if they choose Pharmacy Technician as a life-long career. The second is to provide students with the opportunity to utilize this as a stepping stone while furthering their education in the healthcare field. The program will provide students the opportunity to receive an annual income of over $32,000 starting out with an hourly wage averaging $16.36 per hour. Jobs in this field have increased and continue to be in demand. Ashdown Public School Superintendent Casey Nichols said, “I am so proud of Mrs. Silva and her dedication to our students and the example she sets for them. We are excited to offer such an amazing opportunity for our students at Ashdown. They will be employable in this career field immediately upon graduation. The national recognition for this program they have received continues to set us apart in the opportunities we provide for our students at Ashdown High School. “
BOIL WATER ORDER LIFTED IN LITTLE RIVER COUNTY 01/29/20
The Department of Health has released the ‘Boil Water’ Notice confirmed on 1/27/2020 8:36:03 AM by Brandon Walraven for the approximately 800 customers west and north of the Wallace Pump Station located at 2501 Hwy 32 West. This order was issued as a precautionary measure because of the possibility that contaminated water may have entered the distribution system as a result of complete loss in normal system pressure.
Bacteriological samples taken on Monday, January 27, 2020 were found to be free of bacterial contamination and a satisfactory disinfectant level has been established throughout the distribution system. The water is therefore considered ‘Safe’ for human consumption and the ‘Boil Water’ notice is hereby lifted.
DE QUEEN TEACHER WINS NATIONAL AWARD 01/29/20
The National Art Education Association has named Amber Lemser, of De Queen, AR, to receive the 2020 Arkansas Art Educator Award. This prestigious award, determined through a peer review of nominations, honors an outstanding member from each state or province association whose service and contribution to art education merits recognition and acclaim. The award will be presented at the NAEA National Convention in Minneapolis, MN, March 26-28, 2020.
NAEA President Thom Knab states, “This award is being given to recognize excellence in professional accomplishment and service by a dedicated art educator. Amber Lemser exemplifies the highly qualified art educators active in education today: leaders, teachers, students, scholars, and advocates who give their best to their students and the profession.”
De Queen Schools Superintendent Jason Sanders stated “We are extremely proud of Ms. Lemser and what she does in the art classroom for our students. She is very deserving of this award. This is yet again proof that De Queen Schools has some of the best educators anywhere in Arkansas.”
Founded in 1947, the National Art Education Association is the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts educators. Members include elementary, middle, and high school visual arts educators; college and university professors; university students preparing to become art educators; researchers and scholars; teaching artists; administrators and supervisors; and art museum educators—as well as more than 54,000 students who are members of the National Art Honor Society. We represent members in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, U.S. Possessions, most Canadian Provinces, U.S. military bases around the world, and 25 foreign countries.
The mission of NAEA is to advance visual arts education to fulfill human potential and promote global understanding.
For more information about the association and its awards program, visit the NAEA website at www.arteducators.org
SEVIER COUNTY ELECTION COMMISSION MEETING 01/29/20
There will be a meeting of the Sevier County Election Commission on Monday and Tuesday, February 3 and 4, 2020 at 9:00 A.M. The meeting will be held in the County Courthouse in the County Clerk’s Office. This meeting is to conduct Logic and Accuracy Testing of election equipment. There will also be Public Test done. There will also be discussion of other matters relating to the upcoming Primary Election.
This meeting is open to the public.
Left to Right Back: Jinnefer Lagunas, Haylee Melendez, Ashlyn Chambers, Abbygail Ponce, Perla Zapata, Emily Avalos, and Aubrey Seymour.
Left to Right Front: Hailee Alvarez and Alicia Salazar.
This experience will be a supervised trip open to all students who will be in the 6th-12th Grades for the 2020-2021 School year. This travel opportunity will provide local youth with an opportunity to make memories, sight-see and experience different aspects of culture and view landmarks in a new environment. Students do not have to attend De Queen Public Schools to be eligible to go on the trip since the trip is NOT sponsored by De Queen Public Schools.
A Parent Meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, January 29th at 5:00 pm in the De Queen Middle School Library.
Parents of interested students are encouraged to come learn more about the trip and all that the students will see, do and experience in Washington D.C. and New York City.
Contact Stacy Faulkenberry if you have any questions
Link to video posted below:
DE QUEEN HIGH SCHOOL QUIZ BOWL TEAM GOES UNDEFEATED AT TOURNAMENT MONDAY 01/28/20
The De Queen quiz bowl team competed Monday, January 27th in the Mena invitational tournament held on the U of A Rich Mountain campus. They went undefeated winning the tournament. A total of eleven teams competed.
“Today I’d like to talk about the ways the state Revenue Office has made life easier for its customers – who are the taxpayers of Arkansas.
When I took office in January 2015, I asked agency leaders to identify state services that we could streamline and simplify. At the time, the state revenue offices offered online tag renewal, a valuable service that saved Arkansans a trip to the Revenue Office. But we thought we could do more.
So the folks at the 134 revenue offices across Arkansas put their heads together, and as of today, you can conduct nearly all of your revenue business online on a computer or a phone. You can do pretty much whatever you want while you’re on an evening walk or even watching a football game.
They call it “Skip the Trip.”
If you lose your driver’s license, a brief visit to MyDMV.Arkansas.Gov allows you to apply for a replacement, and they’ll mail it to your house.
If you want a personalized license tag, you can check to see whether another car owner already is using the name. If it is available, you can order it online.
The possibilities go on: You can check the status of your car title, transfer vehicle ownership, and calculate sales tax.
In 2018, Arkansas became one of the first states to allow complete registration of a vehicle online.
To put this in perspective, in 2017, Arkansans registered over 643,000 vehicles at revenue offices throughout the state.
Skipping the trip would save on average an hour for each registration. If only half of those registrations occurred online, Arkansans would save 36 years of driving and standing in line.
There is a benefit in this for those who prefer personal interaction – the lines will be considerably shorter.
Give it a try at MyDMV.Arkansas.Gov. The website is taxpayer-friendly and will save you time, effort, and gasoline. The website recently was honored with the Excellence in Government Partnership Award by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
Time is our most valuable commodity. Once you’ve used it, you can’t get it back. Skip the trip, and you’ll have more time to do something important.
Don’t be like the gentleman who thought he preferred to stand in line and conduct his business in person. Last year, he decided to go the high-tech route. When his new stickers arrived in his mailbox, he quickly realized he should have skipped the trip sooner.”
The following is a list of the Sevier County 4-H clubs: Chapel Hill 4-H Club, Happy Face 4-H Club, Lakeside 4-H Club, Infinity∞ 4-H Club, Froglevel Hoppers 4-H Club, Shooting Sports 4-H Club, Teen Leaders 4-H Club, Goin’ Showin’ 4-H Club, Legacy 4-H After School Club and Community Changers 4-H Club.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
For more information about meetings, 4-H club membership or program benefits, contact Sevier County Cooperative Extension Service located in the Adams Building on the UA Cossatot Campus in De Queen or call (870) 584-3013.
Authorities said Manasco was driving a Chevrolet Traverse on Highway 84 near Umpire last February when he lost control of the vehicle in a curve. The vehicle overturned several times eventually striking a tree before coming to rest. A passenger, 19 year old Rachel Norman of Wickes, died at the scene from her injuries. Manasco and three minors in the vehicle were injured according to police reports.
State troopers working the wreck said they detected the odor of alcohol coming from Manasco and testing conducted by the State Crime Lab found Manasco’s blood alcohol level was above the legal limit.
A reconstruction of the accident by state police determined Manasco’s vehicle had been traveling at speeds approaching 90 miles per hour just before the accident occurred.
January has been declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. It can happen in any suburb, rural town, or city.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline reports that of the calls placed from Arkansas last year, 35 relayed information with a high indication that trafficking was taking place. The hotline also reports 33 calls made were from victims or survivors.
In recent years, the Arkansas General Assembly has passed legislation addressing human trafficking. In the 2019 Regular Session, we passed the following:
ACT 937 requires the Department of Education and the Department of Human Services to collaborate on providing awareness and training materials to local school districts on human trafficking that include strategies for the prevention of child trafficking.
ACT 842 includes evidence of a person’s prior sexual conduct that was committed when the person was a victim of human trafficking under the state’s rape shield law. Rape shield laws forbid certain evidence in a trial that is believed to be prejudicial and harassing.
ACT 536 amends the offenses that disqualify an individual from receiving a first time teaching license or renewal of a teaching license, including adding as disqualifying offenses the trafficking a person or patronizing a victim of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a crime that hides in plain sight. Often, it simply takes an astute police officer, hotel worker, or bystander to notice and speak up—and save a victim.
To report trafficking call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733. You can also chat live with an operator at www.humantraffickinghotline.org
Coach Chuck Cross and coach Tyler Sheppard have been tracking data by hand for all the players for several years. Connecting with the computer science department will provide many more students career and /or college opportunities. Many students love sports but may not go beyond high school to play. Having job opportunities that involve data analysis is another venue for students to explore. Students with Rapsodo analysis work along with R and Python will be able to apply and procure jobs that are available and in demand.
Intelligent.com is a trusted resource for online degree rankings and higher education planning. They recently announced their national community college list for 2020 listing the top 60 online community colleges in the United States. UA Cossatot was included on this list and was also named the “Most Affordable Online Community College” in the nation.
After comprehensive research, UA Cossatot was included in this list. Of the top 60 community colleges, UA Cossatot was ranked at number 15.
The 2020 rankings are calculated through a unique scoring system, which includes student engagement, potential return on investment, and leading third-party evaluations. Intelligent.com analyzed 286 schools, on a scale of 0 to 100, with only 60 making it to the final list.
Students who choose any one of these online schools are expected to gain employment at a faster rate. Intelligent.com provides unbiased research to help students make informed decisions about higher education programs.
Dr. Steve Cole, Chancellor of UA Cossatot said, on the rankings, “It is certainly an honor to be on any list that shows we are creating tremendous value for our students. We feel that when students choose us, they made a thoughtful decision based on many things, including affordability and employment once they are finished. We help students check both of those boxes at UA Cossatot”.
UA Cossatot was the first Arkansas institution of higher education to offer a degree completely online and continues to lead the way in the number of courses and programs offered online. UA Cossatot also rewards online students by offering most online courses free of textbook costs. To learn more about these opportunities, please visit www.cccua.edu.
ARKANSAS AG SEEKING INTERNS FOR SUMMER 2020 01/24/20
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced her office is now accepting applications for summer interns. The summer internship session will begin June 8, 2020.
“An internship with the Attorney General’s Office offers invaluable hands-on experience in the State’s top legal office,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I want to encourage careers in public service and help college students gain real-world involvement on issues that directly impact the people of Arkansas.”
Applicant packet information is available at ArkansasAG.gov under the Office tab.
The deadline to apply is March 31, 2020.
Some interns may be able to arrange for college credit for their internship depending upon the requirements of their college or university.
Any questions regarding the Attorney General’s Office internship program may be directed toward the Human Resources Department at internship@ArkansasAG.gov or (501) 682-2007.
CITY COUNCIL HEARS MASTER PLAN PROPOSAL AT RECENT MEETING 01/27/30
A quick city council meeting was held in De Queen Tuesday night, as a short list of agenda items were addressed in roughly 30 minutes.
After approving the previous meeting’s minutes, the resolution to continue holding council meetings on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall was approved. The aldermen then heard the master plan proposal from County Economic Development Director, Lisa Taylor.
The Master plan, as explained by Taylor, is a land use and infrastructure plan that establishes local goals, objectives and policies for community growth over the next 20-30 years. The proposal is not a legally binding agreement, but rather an organizational tool that prevents cities from becoming “plop and drop” communities with no specific layout or consistency involved in the coordination of new home and business developments.
Each new business, update to city roads, big financial move and new residential neighborhood will all be coordinated with the master plan for De Queen before construction on those projects could begin. The formal establishment of a master plan for the city of De Queen is expected to take between 18 months and two years to complete. Taylor noted that many big cities around the state have seen success through the master plan process.
Following the master plan discussion, Water superintendent Darren Higgins reported that the weather has caused a slight Delay in the Stilwell Water Tank project, but a completion date is still on track for the first week of February. The council approved a request from Higgins for a pressure wash job on a city tank in the amount of $5,000.
The council then made an amendment to the safe water drinking fee ordinance, which Mayor Jeff Brown explains is a change that has already gone into effect, but the council simply needed to reflect the change in the ordinance.
Before adjourning, the council approved the reconfirmation of planning commission members Eduardo Abril, Patty Sharp and Linda Candelaria.
The next De Queen City Council meeting will be held February 4th at city hall, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the public is welcome.
The Fish and Wildlife service will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. The Service will hold public scoping meetings in the form of multiple webinars in February 2020.
More information about the rulemaking process, cormorants and meetings, including how to register, will be posted online at https://www.fws.gov/birds/management/managed-species/double-crested-cormorants.php.
Back row: Hailie Alvarez, Perla Zapata, Ashlyn Chambers, Haylie Melendez, Aubrey Seymour
Front row: Jinnefer Lagunas, Abbygail Ponce, Emily Avalos, and Alicia Salazar
STOLEN RAZOR RECOVERED BY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT 01/22/20
Stolen property was recovered by Deputies of The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department last week.
A report released by the department states that investigator Bryan Hankins recovered a 2016 polaris razor XP 1000, valued at $16,000. The razor had been reported stolen from a location in Lockesburg, Arkansas on November 25th, 2019. Howard county investigator Joey Davis assisted in the recovery of the razor and the investigation is ongoing at this time.
TRAIL BUILDING SCHOOL IN DE QUEEN THIS WEEK 01/22/20
Dr. Jason Lofton, of Legacy Initiatives has announced representatives of the International Mountain Biking Association will be hosting a mini Trail Building School January 23-25. This will involve a 3-4 hour classroom session with two days in the field at the lake actually breaking ground on the proposed trail. Those involved in the Trail Building School will serve as team leads on the future trail project.” Legacy Initiatives is seeking area residents who are interested in being a part of this exciting opportunity and laying the foundation for a vast variety of outdoor recreation opportunities in our area.
The plan is for there to be multi-use trails designed specifically for mountain biking but which can also be enjoyed by walkers, runners and hikers. The vision is to have trails surrounding the entire lake connecting all the campgrounds. This will create a vast recreation opportunity for local residents as well as a new tourism destination for mountain bikers. The popularity of cycling has grown significantly over the past decade with the cycling industry contributing approximately $6.2 billion to the US economy. There are an estimated 47.5 billion cyclists in the US and that number is growing every year.
Dr Lofton hopes the trails will encourage local residents to get out and enjoy our vast natural resources and that over time we can grow into a cycling community. “I want to see our part of the state get healthier and one way to do this is through cycling”. With our proximity to the Dallas Ft. Worth metroplex and Hochatown, Dr. Lofton believes there is a place for cycling tourism here in Southwest Arkansas. “Arkansas is quickly becoming a cycling tourism state thanks to what the Walton Foundation is doing in Northwest Arkansas. Our vision with Legacy Initiatives is to help improve the lives of the people in Sevier County and Southwest Arkansas. We believe by helping be a catalyst for outdoor recreation through these trails this can help stimulate our local economy, overall health and quality of life in our area”.
If you are interested in being a part of the Trail Building School please contact Jason Lofton at email@example.com or call his office at 870-642-4000.
SAVE THE DATE: MARGARET DANIEL EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION DINNER AND SILENT AUCTION 01/22/20
Community residents are encouraged to save the date for the upcoming Margaret Daniel Foundation Dinner and silent auction will be taking place on Saturday, February 15th at 7:00 p.m. The dinner will be held at Ashdown High School and tickets are available now. The cost is $50 and tickets can be purchased by calling 870-898-3562. Menu sponsors and table for 6 sponsors available.
HARVEST REGIONAL FOOD BANK COMING TO SEVIER COUNTY 01/22/20
Harvest Regional Food Bank is returning to Sevier County with its TEFAP USDA Commodity Mobile Pantry. “We have several communities in our rural service area that are not fully served by local partner agencies. To be sure that the residents in these areas are served, we are providing direct service where needed.” said Camille Coker Wrinkle, Executive Director of Harvest Regional Food Bank.
Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute TEFAP USDA Commodities directly from their truck on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 from 10 am to noon. The truck will be parked at the Horatio First United Methodist Church located at 304 S Pennock St., AR. Next Mobile Pantry will be on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Recipients must bring photo identification verifying their age and residence in Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one per household. USDA TEFAP Commodities will be available for those who meet income requirements. Please note, the day of mobile pantry will be on a Wednesday.
Last week, a group of local business owners filed a petition for the legalization of alcohol sales to be included on the ballot for Sevier County voters in the November 2020 election. The petition was officially filed through the Sevier County courthouse on Friday, January 17th, 2020 by members of the Sevier County “EDGE” organization.
There were 293 bears harvested with archery equipment, while 57 bears were harvested with muzzleloaders and 82 bears were taken using modern guns.
Arkansas bears are still slowly expanding in population numbers and a current study is in its last year of field research to establish a population baseline on bears in the Southwest Arkansas region and regulations will be based on those findings.
More information about elk and bear hunting updates and other news from the AGFC can be found online in a video of the most recent meeting. The link has been posted to AGFC.com
According to the latest study, “Arkansas’s voluntary workers’ compensation market would have disappeared and many employers would have found themselves unable to afford workers’ compensation coverage, facing the choice of either closing down their business or operating outside the law, had Act 796 not become reality.” To emphasize its conclusion, the report states that “the impact of the Act on workers’ compensation premiums is clear and significant. Prior to its enactment rates were increasing significantly.”
In the two years immediately before the legislature approved Act 796 of 1993, rates increased 15 % and 18 %. However, the year in which the act passed was the first time in 10 years that workers’ comp rates did not go up. The act created a division within the Insurance Department assigned to investigate fraud, and set financial penalties for fraudulently making workers’ comp claims. In 2005 the division’s authority was expanded to investigate all forms of insurance fraud, and it was renamed the Criminal Investigation Division of the Insurance Department.
Workers’ comp fraud makes up four % of the total number of insurance fraud cases investigated by the division. Since 1993, when the investigation division was created, it has referred 166 cases to local prosecutors. Those referrals resulted in 123 convictions and three acquittals. The remaining cases were not acted on by prosecuting attorneys.Arkansas companies can get workers’ comp from two categories. The most affordable plans are in the voluntary market. The other plan is an assigned risk pool for companies that do not generally qualify for the more affordable coverage available on the voluntary market. The Insurance Department annual report concludes that without the changes made by the legislature in Act 796 of 1993, it is doubtful that a voluntary market would still exist in Arkansas. The assigned risk pool, which is typically considered the market of last resort, would likely have become the Arkansas workers’ comp market of “only resort,” the insurance officials reported.
The state’s chief fiscal officer recently appeared before a Congressional committee in Washington, D.C. He briefed federal officials on the history of the Arkansas balanced budget amendment, and how state government can operate efficiently under a balanced budget every year.
The U.S. government is expected to run a deficit of $984 billion this fiscal year. Arkansas voters approved Amendment 20 to the state Constitution in 1934, which prohibits the state from borrowing money without approval by citizens in a statewide vote. Amendment 20 was placed on the ballot by the 1933 legislature.In 1945 the legislature approved the Revenue Stabilization Act, which prioritizes state spending. If revenue declines due to a slowdown in the economy, state agency spending is reduced accordingly.
LITTLE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BANQUET SET FOR FEBRUARY 6TH 01/21/20
The Little River County Chamber of Commerce has invited the community out to their annual membership and awards Banquet on Thursday, February 6th at the Barbara Horne Civic center on The UA Cossatot Ashdown campus. Doors open at 5:30 and attendees can choose between a steak or chicken dinner meal. The Ashdown High School Drama Club will be providing entertainment for the evening and the cost of tickets is $30 per individual or $50 per couple.
Various awards will be given out during the banquet, including teacher of the year, citizen of the year, large and small business awards and more. For tickets, call the Little River County Chamber of commerce at 870-898-2758 or visit red river oil.
On average, children in poverty have been exposed to only 25 hours of one-on-one reading, compared to middle-class children who have been exposed to 1,000-1,700 hours of one-on-one reading. Only 48% of young children are read to daily.
Exposure to books provides significant academic advantages as 85% of the brain is developed between the ages of 3-5.
To provide Arkansas families with more resources, a state 501 (c) (3) partnered with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in July 2017. Arkansas is 1 of 4 states to partner with the organization.
In 1995, singer-songwriter Dolly Parton launched the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee. Her vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families. The new program gave each child from birth to age 5 a specially selected book each month.
The program has expanded and now delivers 1.4 million books each month to children nationwide.
Recently, the House and Senate Education Committees were updated on the progress of the Arkansas Imagination Library.
Approximately, 39,000 books are delivered each month to Arkansas children enrolled in the program. And in the last year, more than 427,000 books have been delivered to Arkansas homes. The number of books mailed monthly grew 87.3% in just two years.
Thousands of families could still benefit from the program. Any family with children ages 5 and under can sign up regardless of income. We have provided a link on our website www.arkansashouse.org.
John Moore is a native of Ashdown, Arkansas, but he has called Texas home for over 30 years. He is a former radio announcer and worked at several stations in Arkansas and Texas. From 1979-1982, he even worked at Ashdown’s former station KMLA. While a student at AHS, he worked on the journalism staff as a photographer for the school paper.He currently owns One Moore Production, a recording studio where he does commercial voice work and books on tape for Audible. His weekly column, Moore Thoughts appears in the Marshall News-Messenger, Tyler Morning Telegraph, the Longview News-Journal, the Texarkana Gazette, and six others.
Mr. Moore said, “I am looking forward to coming home to Ashdown to see family and friends and I’m looking forward to supporting the Alumni Association through my book signing. I hope to see everyone come out on Saturday the 22nd from 11 to 2 and thanks to the Ashdown Alumni Association and the Ashdown School District for inviting me to come.”
BURGLARY HANDLED BY CITY POLICE IN DE QUEEN SATURDAY 01/17/20
A man was jailed for burglary after authorities responded to a call at an apartment complex in De Queen Saturday night.
A report from The De Queen Police Department states that Sergeant Wayne Baker and Officer Micheal Barnes were dispatched to the scene of a burglary in process at Kingsgate Apartments around 5:56 p.m. on Saturday January 11th.
Police identified the burglary suspect as Rowdy Roberts, age 32 of Horatio. The occupant of the burglarized apartment reported coming home to damage at the residence, including a flooded bathtub and standing water throughout the living room and bathroom floor. Officers took photographic evidence of the scene and Roberts was placed in custody, then transported to the city police department for questioning. Roberts was charged with residential burglary, criminal mischief and theft of property. He was held in the Sevier County Jail in De Queen for the alleged crimes.
DEADLINE FOR SEVIER COUNTY HOSPITAL FLOOR PLAN COMMENTS TODAY 01/17/20
The deadline to submit input on the floor plan for the new Sevier County Hospital is today, Friday January 17th.
Local residents can look at the floor plan (pictured above) and email any comments that will be helpful in the overall design of the layout of the hospital. The board is looking for helpful and thoughtful comments regarding the layout of the hospital and all submissions must be turned in by the end of the day today, Friday, January 17th.
Please provide comments by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the subject line, please enter: COMMENTS
Please include your name and address in the body of the email. Only verified comments will be accepted.
WILDLAND FIRE TRAINING OPEN TO AREA FIRE AND RESCUE AGENCIES 01/17/20
Red River Army Depot will be hosting a Wildland Fire Training Academy open to firefighters in the Southwest Arkansas area. The training is scheduled for February 3-11, 2020. This will be the third training academy held at RRAD.
This year the academy is offering seven courses, including: S-130/190 Basic Wildland Firefighter; S-212 Wildland Chainsaws; S-215 Fire Operations in the Wildland/Urban Interface; S-131 Firefighter Type 1; S-219 Firing Operations; S-230 Crew Boss (single resource) and S- 290 Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior.
Registration is open to all federal and state agencies, as well as fire departments and prescribed burn managers. Classes will begin each day at 8:00 am at Red River’s Elliott Lake facility.
Those wanting to register may contact the Texas A&M Forest Service Regional Assistant Fire Coordinator, Billy Whitworth, at 936-546-3150 or by email at email@example.com.
FINES SUPPLY GRANT MONEY FOR ARKANSAS OUTDOOR EDUCATION AND CONSERVATION 01/17/20
Arkansas students participating in conservation education programs will have nearly a half a million dollars in support, thanks to the fines collected from poachers and other people who violate hunting and fishing laws in the state.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission Division of Rural Services has awarded $444,230.34 in grants to promote wildlife education and improve school conservation programs to 164 schools, school districts, and conservation districts in 70 Arkansas counties. The grant program is funded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission through fines collected from hunting and fishing violations. These grants have helped create archery, fishing and competitive shooting sports programs, created and enhanced outdoor classroom opportunities and provided funding for educational materials, lab supplies and field trips to AGFC nature and education centers. Conservation districts also use the funding to help promote wildlife conservation awareness in the communities by hosting environmental education days and fishing derbies for children of all ages.
Applications for these grants are each fall, with deadlines for grant proposals usually set at the beginning of October.
Visit www.ArkansasEDC.com/Rural-Services for more information on the grants, including a complete list of award recipients and program narratives.
ROAD IMPROVEMENTS APPROVED FOR POLK COUNTY 01/16/20
The Arkansas State Highway Commission has approved a bid for improvements to roadways in Polk County, according to Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) officials.
The purpose of this project is to resurface selected sections of 3.7 miles of U.S. Highway 71 and State Highway 88 in Mena. Crow Group, Inc. of Morrilton was awarded the contract at $1,881,608.15.
Construction is scheduled to begin in two to four weeks, weather permitting. Completion is expected in mid 2020.
Travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ArDOT.gov. You can also follow us
on Twitter @myARDOT.
HORATIO BOARD OF EDUCATION JANUARY MEETING UPDATE 01/16/20
Horatio Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, January 13, 2020 in
the administration building. The board voted to extend contract of superintendent, Lee Smith, through June 30, 2022. They also approved the 2020 master plan and resolution certifying the dedication of local resources to meet district’s share of the finance participation. Board members approved the resolution for the 2020 Annual School Election, to be held March 3, 2020. The board approved Save the Children budget and proceed with hiring of coordinators.
They accepted bid from Progressive Technologies for improvements to high school cameras and student transfer from De Queen to Horatio.
ARKANSAS AG FILES SUIT AGAINST TEXARKANA BUSINESS OWNER 01/16/20
Wednesday, January 15th, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed suit against Texarkana business owner Robert Stevens, owner of Pro-Pave Asphalt, Robert Stevens Construction and RS Asphalt, for multiple violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA). Eight consumers have reported losses of nearly $60,000 resulting from Stevens’ aggressive and deceptive sales tactics.
“Arkansans, including our most vulnerable citizens, must be protected from aggressive business practices that attempt to skirt the law and demand exorbitant payments before work is performed or services rendered,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will continue to hold bad actors accountable for their deceptive business practices.”
Eight consumer complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office between April 2016 and August 2019 reveal a common scheme. Stevens or his workers typically pull up to consumers’ houses in an asphalt truck, claim to have some leftover asphalt to sell at a “deeply discounted price,” and provide only vague, misleading, and incomplete estimates of the total cost. Stevens then immediately begins laying asphalt while failing to ever inform the consumer of their three-day right to cancel as required by the HSSA. After the work is completed or nearing completion, Stevens demands an exorbitant and unexpected payment amount and regularly threatens or intimidates consumers until they pay.
Six of the eight unresolved complaints are from senior citizens over the age of 60 and span the State from Manila to Gravette and Texarkana.
Stevens can face a $10,000 fine for each violation of the ADTPA and HSSA and is subject to an additional $10,000 penalty per violation for targeting elderly consumers.
General Rutledge encourages all Arkansans to demand written estimates of the total project price before any construction work begins.
For more tips to help avoid falling victim to bad actors, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
FULL AGENDA HANDLED BY DE QUEEN SCHOOL BOARD MONDAY NIGHT 01/16/20
A full list of agenda items was tackled by The De Queen school board during the meeting Monday, January 13th at the district administration building. A new head coach for the leopard football program was announced with Brad Chesshir to fill the role beginning later this year. Chesshir is the current defensive coordinator at Jonesboro High school and he also worked as a coach with Nashville High School when the team won a state title in 2015.
(click to hear soundbite on new Football Coach Brad Chesshir from Superintendent Jason Sanders)
KDQN 921 FM was granted exclusivity of broadcasting leopard athletic events by the board and Bunyard Broadcasting will continue to host the official network of leopard sports.
A master plan for the district’s future was approved. The plan allows flexibility to be adjusted as goals for De Queen Schools continue to evolve in the coming years. In addition to all financial statements, expenditures, student transfers, policies and previous meeting’s minutes, the expulsion of an unnamed student was also approved, as recommended by Superintendent, Jason Sanders.
In Mr.Sanders report, plans for the future were discussed in terms of phase two for the High School construction project. Sanders says a courtyard for outside classes and lunch breaks are on the way, along with renovations for the Jr. High School and many other updates still in the works.
(Listen to hear soundbite on district plans from Superintendent Jason Sanders)
Also in the Superintendent’s report, the board discussed a partnership with UA Cossatot Community College that would bring “leopard launch” to the district. The proposed program would allow students to graduate High School with an associate’s degree from the college. Sanders describes the program as “competitive.”
(Listen to hear soundbite on the leopard launch program from Superintendent Jason Sanders)
After approving the resignation of Athletic Director Bob Sikes and rescinding the resignation of Katelynn Norris, the board renewed contracts for Superintendent Jason Sanders and Assistant Superintendent Paul Shelton. They also heard a report from Joe Vallee in the maintenance department regarding properties around the county that are owned by the district but are currently inaccessible or occupied by friends of De Queen schools. The board then approved the selling of a property in Lockesburg and established the next meeting time before adjourning.
The next De Queen School Board meeting will be held Monday February 10th at 5:30 p.m. in the district administration building.
SEVIER COUNTY FARM BUREAU RECEIVES RECOGNITION AT ANNUAL CONVENTION 01/14/20
Sevier County Farm Bureau President Bruce Jackson (center) of Lockesburg received recognition for the county’s work at the 85th Arkansas Farm Bureau annual convention recently in Little Rock. Presenting the award were former President Randy Veach (right) and newly elected president Rich Hillman of Arkansas Farm Bureau. Each county Farm Bureau is measured in 10 program areas and awarded Gold Stars for exemplary effort in each one. Sevier County earned 9 Gold Stars.
Arkansas Farm Bureau is a non-profit, private farm and rural advocacy organization of more than 191,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.
ARKANSAS GOVERNOR TO SPEAK AT KNIFE DEDICATION CEREMONY IN HEMPSTEAD COUNTY THIS WEEK 01/14/20
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will be appearing in Hempstead County this week, as he is set to speak at the Arkansas #1 knife dedication ceremony during the grand opening of the UAHT James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades. The campus is located in Historic Washington State Park and the dedication ceremony will be held on Friday, January 17th at 2:30 p.m. The grand opening will also be the first public viewing of Arkansas #1 knife. Along with the dedication, there will be a special reception hosted by the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council.
The 92nd General Assembly, in ACT 510, designated the Bowie knife, commonly known as the “Arkansas Toothpick,” as the official knife of the State of Arkansas. The General Assembly also passed, and Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law ACT 818, which designated Historic Washington, Arkansas, as the “Birthplace of the Bowie Knife, Arkansas Heritage Site” and designated the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana to develop and operate a school of bladesmithing.
Visit https://www.uaht.edu/bladesmithing/ for more information about the dedication ceremony and the bladesmithing school.
HORATIO ELEMENTARY TEACHERS RECEIVE GRANTS 01/14/20
Three Horatio Elementary staff members successfully earned grants for their programs recently. Karen Cunningham earned a Blue & You Foundation grant for $1,000 to upgrade the school’s first aid and CPR equipment. Leslie Ray was awarded two Life Science classroom grants totaling $631 for the addition of a freshwater aquarium and dissection materials. Glenda Butler was awarded $3,283 from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission to support the school’s greenhouse and gardening education. Congratulations to these educators for going above and beyond to make safer and more meaningful learning experiences for students.
DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 01/13/20
In an age where technology moves at a rapid pace, electronic devices often become e-waste in only a few years after manufacturing.
Electronic waste is commonly known as e-waste. It is defined as used electronics that are nearing the end of their useful life, and are discarded, donated or given to a recycler.
The amount of worldwide e-waste generation in 2018 exceeded 50 million tons. And it’s growing at a rate of 5% every year.
This month, a House City, County, and Local Affairs Planning Sub-Committee held a meeting to discuss e-waste, the impact it has on our state, and what is being done to address the problem.
Many electronics contain elements – lead, mercury, and cadmium, for example – that are safe when the items are used as directed but can be hazardous if disposed of in household trash and compacted at landfills. There are 19 Regional Solid Waste Management Districts across the state. Representatives from several of those districts testified to members of the committee about their e-waste recycling efforts. In that testimony, we learned that e-waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste. We also learned that only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled.
An estimated 6,000 tons of e-waste in 2018 were collected and processed in Arkansas.
Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year. For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, and 75 pounds of gold can be recovered. For all the benefits of recycling electronics, collection efforts can be costly. And with Arkansans disposing more each year it is an issue that demands our attention.
While the legislature continues to study ways to address e-waste collection efforts, there are things all of us can do to reduce the amount of products we discard. Proper maintenance of electronics can extend their usefulness. And before discarding, consider selling or donating your used device.
Many Arkansas communities offer electronic waste collection centers or events. We posted a link to find an e-waste collection center in your area on our website www.arkansashouse.org.
FOUR STATES BANDMASTERS CONVENTION THIS WEEK 01/14/20
The Four States Bandmasters Convention & Clinic will be held on Thursday, January 16 through Saturday, January 18. An expected 350 students along with directors representing 57 schools from the four states area will be in attendance.
The Four States Bandmasters Convention & Clinic brings together the musical abilities of area students who have been nominated to the Four States Honor Band by area band directors. During the course of the convention, students audition for one of three bands: jazz, concert and symphonic. Following their concert assignment, students rehearse on a daily basis and present a series of concerts to the community which will be held on Saturday, January 18 at 2:00 p.m. at the Sullivan Performing Arts Center & John Thomas Theatre. Admission is FREE and the public is invited to attend
ARKANSAS AG TO OFFER FREE SCAM PROTECTION WEBCAST 01/14/20
Later this Spring, The Office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will be hosting a scam prevention webcast March 5th in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week. This free webcast on scams and consumer protection will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and is open to the public.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division represents and protects the State, its subdivisions, legitimate business community and Arkansas consumers.
This webcast will review the many ways the Attorney General’s office can be utilized as a resource, common scams to be aware of and how to avoid them, and identity theft. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions during the presentation.
The Attorney General’s office has applied for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) and law enforcement standards (CLEST) credit.
FRIDAY NIGHT STORMS 01/13/20
For the most part, Southwest Arkansas and Southeast Oklahoma were spared from significant damage during Friday night’s (1/10) highly anticipated severe weather threats.
Flash Flood and Thunderstorm Warnings, along with Tornado Watches, were issued at various times by the National Weather Service late Friday night.
The National Weather Service reported peak wind gusts of 47 miles per hour in De Queen. 2.90 inches of rainfall were recorded for the 24 hour period in De Queen that ended at 7:00 A.M. Saturday. Around the area, Broken Bow reported 3.52 inches of rain. Idabel reported 3.76 inches. Mena recorded 3.91 inches of rain Friday night.
There were some flash flooding issues in Polk County for a time. But Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison reports that all county roads are passable.
Ice, sleet, and snow created havoc on the highways north of Mena on Saturday morning. Officers worked numerous traffic accidents caused by slick roadways north of Mena.
At the peak of the storm on Friday night, SWEPCO says that about 29,300 customers in their service area were without power. Most of those customers were in North Louisiana and in Northeast Texas after storms broke utility poles, downed wires, and toppled trees. Wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour were reported in Caddo, Louisiana.
Other than a few trees down, Southwest Arkansas was very fortunate not to have experienced more damage from Friday night’s storms.
TRIAL DATES PUSHED BACK IN SEVIER COUNTY NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE CASE 01/10/20
A pre-trial date set for earlier this week in a Sevier County Negligent Homicide case has been pushed back, according to reports from the Sevier County Court system.
Justin Williams, age 25, of Texas is accused of killing three Sevier County residents and injuring another in a car accident that occurred on Highway 41 back on October 12th, 2019.
Reports state that the smell of alcohol was allegedly coming from Williams while he was being interviewed by State Police after the accident. He also allegedly admitted to attempting to pass another vehicle in a no pass zone at the time of the collision.
Williams was arrested by local authorities on October 17th and held at The Sevier County jail before being released the same day on a $100,000 bond.
The pre-trial hearing in the case was originally scheduled for Thursday, January 9th, 2020 at The Sevier County courthouse in De Queen, however the legal team representing Justin Williams asked for a continuance and the request was granted. The date has been pushed back to March 19th, 2020.
A jury trial date in the case set for January 29th was also rescheduled. That date has been rescheduled for April 1st of 2020.
If convicted, a prison term of up to 20 years is possible for each homicide charge.
SEVIER COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES RECOVER STOLEN TRAILER THIS WEEK 01/10/20
A trailer reported stolen from a Sevier County business was recovered by local authorities this week, and a suspect was taken into custody.
According to a report released by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, on Tuesday, January 7th Deputies recovered a 16-foot axle trailer that had been reported stolen from Baker’s Saw Shop in Lockesburg.
Sergeant Greg Davignon and Investigator Brian Hankins reportedly received information about the trailer that lead to the discovery. Officers with the department went to a residence in Howard county Tuesday and recovered the trailer, valued at $1,800 and returned the property to the rightful owner. Robert Blake Massingill was arrested and charged with felony theft of property. Massingill was held in the Sevier County jail on a $5,000 bond.
REGISTRATION DEADLINE APPROACHING AT UA COSSATOT 01/10/20
The UA Cossatot spring semester will begin on Monday, January 13, 2020, but open registration will be taking place until Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Anyone that would like to enroll in a college course at UA Cossatot for the spring semester can do so by contacting Student Services by January 15.
Six-teen and eight-week courses are being offered in class and online. The full list of courses being offered this semester can be viewed at www.cccua.edu.
UA Cossatot Admissions Advisor, Jocelin Galvez, said, “Come on by Student Services, and we will be more than happy to help you get registered for classes and answer any questions. Whether you will be a first-time college student needing more information regarding our programs and tuition costs, or simply a returning student needing to get enrolled, please stop by any of our campuses. We will get you taken care of!”
To speak with Student Services about registering for classes, please call 870-584-4471 or e-mail them at email@example.com. Walk-ins are always welcome. The UA Cossatot campus hours for De Queen, Nashville, and Ashdown are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.
TURKEY HUNT PERMIT APPLICATIONS BEGIN JANUARY 15TH 01/10/20
Turkey season may open at the beginning of April, but now is the time to begin planning for a successful season. One of the best ways to be successful on public land is to apply for one of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s wildlife management area turkey hunt permits beginning Jan. 15.
Many good public turkey hunting opportunities exist, particularly on the large cooperative WMAs owned by the U.S. Forest Service. However, turkeys and turkey hunters need room to spread out, which can lead to conflicts between hunters on some smaller WMAs. To increase the quality of the hunt on some of the most popular public areas, the AGFC restricts the number of hunters allowed during turkey season through random drawings. Only permit holders may hunt on the WMA during the permit hunt. However, a permit holder can have a friend alongside them to call for them. Friends and family may camp with permit holders at designated campsites on the WMA.
Applications are taken electronically through www.agfc.com, from Jan. 15 through Feb. 15, and winning applicants will be notified via email. Applications require a $5 nonrefundable processing fee. Winning applicants are not required to pay any additional fees beyond the purchase of their hunting license.
Visit www.agfc.com/turkeypermits to view a list of available permits.
ASHDOWN STUDENTS ACHIEVE MICROSOFT SKILLS IN BUSINESS CLASSES 01/10/20
The Microsoft Office Specialist Program provides industry-leading assessments of skills and knowledge through project-based testing, giving students and professionals real-world exercises to appraise their understanding of Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office Specialist program boosts academic performance, prepares students for college and opens doors for career opportunities. Microsoft Office continues to be one of the Top 3 Skills required for jobs.
Front Row, Left to Right: Brinlee McAdams, Anna Neeson, Reagan Burden, Jessie Hinton, Jaimya Northcross, Jamiya Traylor, Za’karyionna Williams, Quincya Faulks, Rachael Vice, Zoe Hogan, Matthew McKendre, Tyler Baldwin
2nd Row, Left to Right: Xzavier Brown, Kimberly Hendrix, Savannah Neldon, Dal Ringgold, Gavin Ketcher, Derek Hilton, Kayn Hawk, Marty Lansdell, Lexi Ryan, Elizabeth Rutledge, Caleb Bass
3rd Row, Left to Right: Adrian Fondren, Carter Cash, Destiny Surber, Blake Scheik, Journey Pope, Jeana Paredes, Stacy Walker, Gracie Young, Aly Mills, Isaac Linnett, Madison Hudleston, Ethan Jones, Michael Taylor, Jonathan Denney
4th Row, Left to Right: Jared Day, Drake Abney, Jerri Pricket, Allison Wooden, Emily Wooden, Shamar Easter, Makaila Moore, Von Deric Thomas, Cameron Sanders, Malik Muldrew, Whit Shelton, Sean Swearengin, Caleb Henry, Joshua Shute
Not Pictured: Kasey Dinwiddie, Dylan Rose, Matthew Reed, Kaiden Parker, Michael Mcelroy, Jaylie Lehnert, Jayda Nelson, Savanna Parker, Juan Pena, Shane Offutt, Jayden Brooks
HEMPSTEAD COUNTY MEETINGS ANNOUNCED FOR SALES TAX DISCUSSION 01/10/20A series of meetings will be held throughout Hempstead County over the next few weeks as county officials present information regarding a one cent sales tax election. The issue will be on the March ballot and, if approved by voters, the tax revenues would be used to convert the former Farmers Bank and Trust building into a new courthouse. The measure would also provide funds for the removal of the current courthouse should the county decide to tear down the existing structure.Meeting dates will include February 11th at the McNab Community Center, February 18th at the Blevins City Hall and February 25th at the Washington Fire Station. Each of the meetings will begin at six p.m.
In the subject line, please enter: COMMENTS
The awards and respective finalists include:
– Spring River Innovation Hub, Inc., for work on the Arkansas Pie Festival
– Sevier County Tourism Committee
– Marvell Civic Club for work on the Levon Helm Project
The Tourism Hall of Fame Award is presented the previous day of the conference, recognizing individuals who have been actively involved for many years in tourism and have made substantial contributions to the betterment of the industry.
For more information on the 46th Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism, contact Arkansas Tourism at 501-682-1926. For specific information on the Henry Awards, contact Leigha Jones at 501-682-1676.
Thursday, February 27, 2020 the U of A Fruit Research Station in Clarksville will be hosting a pruning workshop. In this workshop, you will learn about the principles of pruning with hands-on demonstrations in blueberries, blackberries, grapes, peaches, and pecans. Registration will begin at 12:45 p.m. with the workshop starting at 1:15 p.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m.
Pre-registration is required. Please email Katie Hanshaw at Khanshaw@uark.edu or call 479-754-2406 to pre-register, or for further information. There will be a $10.00 charge collected on the day of the event for the workshop. Cash only. (University employees and students are free)
Location: 1749 State Hwy 818, Clarksville, AR 72830
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact the Sevier County Extension Office as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
center will be hosting our 11 th Annual PLUNGE for Life on Saturday, February 1 st at
1:00 p.m. The event will take place at Area D, Stephens Gap of Broken Bow Lake.
If you would like to participate, please contact the center at 580-286-5390 or by
email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also pick up a participant packet at the center in Idabel, OK.
FREE SERVICES OFFERED TO CLIENTS REGARDLESS OF ECONOMIC STATUS INCLUDE:
CHILD BIRTHING CLASSES
CPR/FIRST AID CLASSES
BABY CARE ITEMS
TUTORING & MENTORING PROGRAMS
LOVE & SUPPORT
PUBLIC SAFETY CAR SEAT PROGRAM
WeeCare Pregnancy Resources, Inc. can be reached by calling (580) 286-5390. The center is located at 110 East Main Street, Idabel, OK 74745.
with the De Queen School District. Coach Sikes began his coaching career as head baseball
coach and assistant football coach. He served the Leopards football team as defensive coordinator, and enjoyed a successful run as high school baseball coach before becoming
Athletic Director. Superintendent Sanders says he appreciates the dedication that Coach Sikes has shown the sports programs at De Queen Schools and he will always refer to Sikes as “Coach.”
interest in the position. A search committee, headed by Sanders, has narrowed the list down to six candidates to be interviewed. Three of the candidates will be interviewed on
Tuesday of this week, while the other three will be interviewed on Wednesday.
article that other school districts around the state should borrow ideas from De Queen Schools as far as how to be better student-focused. De Queen Schools Superintendent Jason
Sanders told the De Queen Rotary Club Monday about some of the recognition that the school system has been receiving lately, including OEP awards received from The University of Arkansas and ranking #35 out of more than 200 schools throughout the state.
Superintendent Sanders says that the new high school should wrap up anticipated construction and expansion needs for the immediate future.
Nominees do not have to be well-known or involved in major events. The nominee(s) can be anyone, your friend, your family, or your neighbor. All that we want to recognize is how their efforts have made a positive impact in our community. Do you happen to know someone who gives their time and energy on a voluntary basis to benefit Broken Bow? If you know someone deserving this honor, please send us the following information:
1. Your Name
3. Phone Number
4. NOMINIEE’S NAME
6. Phone Number
7. A description of “WHY” you believe this individual should be Broken Bow’s Citizen of the Year.
Nomination forms are due January 13th Nominations can be mailed, emailed, dropped off or faxed to the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce, 113 West MLK, Broken Bow, OK 74728. For more Information, call Charity O’Donnell, Chamber Director, at 580-584-3393.
While the Extension Get Fit program targets older adults, the program is open to anyone especially those who have never exercised or who need to start at different levels. Janet Cantrell, Family and Consumer Sciences County Extension Agent, says, “One of the ways that we are able to offer this service in so many areas is the use of local volunteers. Community volunteers that usually start out taking the classes themselves, may go through a training program in order to be able to lead classes for others. This means that classes can be offered closer to rural communities in venues like churches and community centers.”
One of the new laws which took effect this week may reduce the number of uninsured motorists on Arkansas roads.
Nationwide, it is estimated that 1 in 8 drivers do not have insurance. In Arkansas, the uninsured motorist rate has been higher than the national average in recent years. The latest numbers show close to 16% of drivers on our roads may be uninsured. Arkansas State Police write more than 10,000 citations a year for failing to provide proof of insurance.
Legislators along with law enforcement and insurance companies worked for two years to implement a system to address this problem.
The result is the implementation of a real-time insurance verification program. It was created by Act 1016 of 2017. The fees and dates of implementation were created by Act 869 of 2019. It went into effect on January 1, 2020.
The system allows law enforcement real-time data when they run a license plate. It will tell officers if the car is currently insured or if a policy has lapsed. In addition, it will also result in letters being issued to any Arkansan (with a registered vehicle) if they allow any lapse in insurance coverage. As soon as the system is alerted to the lapse, the owner will be issued a $100 fine for the lapse in coverage along with a letter notifying them of this. If the fine and proof of insurance are not provided within a certain time frame (normally 30 days), the vehicle’s registration will be permanently suspended until the fine is paid and coverage confirmed.
When a similar system was implemented in Alabama, the rates of uninsured motorists on the road dropped from more than 20% to 13%.
This is just one of several laws which took effect this week. You can find a list of other laws on our websitewww.arkansashouse.org.
JACOB BUNYARD GRADUATES FROM UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS 01/03/20
Jacob Bunyard of De Queen graduated with honors in December from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a double major in Accounting and Finance.
Bunyard, a 2015 graduate of De Queen High School, served as President for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) and Vice President of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). Jacob was a member of Beta Alpha Psi, and was also active in TF College, his church ministry. During his junior year at the University of Arkansas, he studied abroad in Brazil.
His grade point average at the University of Arkansas was 3.809. Bunyard, graduating Cum Laude, was one of only 14 honor graduates among the several hundred students receiving their diplomas from the Sam Walton College of Business on the Fayetteville campus last month. His thesis presentation topic was on International Money Exchange Rate Fluctuations.
The son of Jay and Teresa Bunyard of De Queen, Jacob will begin work with Landmark CPA’s in Fort Smith in January, and he plans to sit for the CPA exam in 2020.
COUNTY HOSPITAL BOARD SEEKING PUBLIC INPUT ON FLOOR PLAN FOR NEW MEDICAL CENTER 01/03/20
The Sevier County Hospital Board will be seeking public comment from the community in regards to the final floor plan design for the new emergency facility, set to open next year.
During the January 2nd meeting the board decided on a method for including the public, along with area medical providers in the process of finalizing the hospital design before submitting the plan to WD&D Architectural firm and then beginning the construction process this Spring.
Funds from the sales tax that will be used for construction and operation costs of the Hospital are set to begin generating in April 2020. The board members, legal team, architects, construction firm and various community leaders have all been hard at work planning logistics for the new medical center over the past several months.
Board Chairman Dr. Steve Cole reports that he as received comments from area residents who are concerned that the construction phase has yet to begin. Though ground has not yet been broken for the project to begin being built, the board members remain busy behind the scenes, working on legalities, insurance policies, planning and logistics issues, along with other paperwork required to bring a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week emergency healthcare facility to Sevier County. Dr. Cole says the hospital is still on track time wise, and dirt work is set to begin this Spring.
(Listen for Soundbite from Hospital Board Chairman, Dr. Steve Cole)
During Thursday’s meeting, the board unanimously agreed to join the Arkansas Hospital Association (AHA). Cole reports many benefits will come with joining the organization, including savings on equipment purchases and additional discounts.
(Listen for Soundbite from Hospital Board Chairman, Dr. Steve Cole)
As far as the recent survey of the land for the new hospital goes, a move has been made to try and landscape the timber on the 18.63 acre property into a layout that supports walking trails and scenic views for visitors at the center.
(Listen for Soundbite from Hospital Board Chairman, Dr. Steve Cole)
Before the final floor plan is submitted to the architects, a private meeting will be held for area medical providers to offer input on the design on January 8th. The following day on January 9th, the floor plan will be published on KDQN for the community to view online and public comments can then submitted to the hospital board.
(Listen for Soundbite from Hospital Board Chairman, Dr. Steve Cole)
For more updates regarding the Sevier County Hospital Construction development, keep listening to KDQN 92.1 FM and viewing KDQN.net online.
2019 WEATHER SUMMARY – DE QUEEN 01/02/20
It was a very wet year in De Queen in 2019. Rainfall for the year totaled 66.18 inches. The average annual rainfall for De Queen is around 51 inches.
The most rain fell during the month of May when we recorded 10.91 inches.
The official hottest days in 2019 were 98 degrees recorded on both September 7th and 8th. The hottest day ever recorded in De Queen was 105 degrees on August 12, 1943. The coldest mornings in 2019 were 21 degrees recorded on both February 8th and 9th. The coldest day on record in De Queen is minus 16 degrees on February 12, 1899.
#1 Country 92.1 is the official reporting station for the National Weather Service in De Queen.
CHILD STRUCK BY VEHICLE WHILE BIKE RIDING IN DE QUEEN 01/02/20
A child was struck by a car while riding a bicycle in De Queen last week, according to a report released by local authorities.
The report from The De Queen Police Department states that Sergeant Bucky Sawyer was dispatched to North 4th street and W. Vandervoort on Friday, December 27th at 4:26 p.m.
Upon arriving at the scene,Sergeant Sawyer reported speaking with the driver of the vehicle, who stated they had been traveling South on North 4th street when a child crossed the road on a bicycle in front of them without stopping.
The report states that the driver claimed they attempted to stop the vehicle but was “unable to do so.”
Damage to the vehicle caused by the accident included a shattered driver’s side windshield as well as damage to the left front fender.
The child was transported by medic 16 for medical attention.
ARKANSAS STATE POLICE LAUNCHING NEW ONLINE SCHEDULING TOOL FOR DRIVER’S LICENSE TESTING 01/02/20
Beginning next week anyone with a valid Arkansas driver learner’s permit can begin using an online scheduling tool to arrange the final step toward becoming a motor vehicle licensed driver. The scheduling tool will be accessible beginning Monday, January 6th through the Arkansas State Police Driver Exam web site at ar.gov/aspdrivertest
Online scheduling will make it easier for permit holders and anyone who must accompany the skills test applicant to set a specific date and time for the skills test and avoid waiting in line or possibly being turned-away due unexpected large numbers of applicants at a testing location and impending closing hours.
“This is another step toward modernizing the process of obtaining an Arkansas driver license,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police.
Almost ten years ago the state police began installing computers at the 115 testing sites around Arkansas for driver license applicants to use in taking their knowledge test. Offering online study guides, online practice tests and voice prompted study features have been other modern additions for testing operations.
We’re always listening to the citizens when they voice their concerns about the testing process and I hope the scheduling module will prove to be a huge benefit for skills test applicants, particularly the parents and guardians who accompany their first time drivers to any of the testing sites around the state,” Colonel Bryant commented.
Anyone planning to proceed with the skills test, whether it has been scheduled online or not, is strongly encouraged to review the checklist of items and other information provided at the web site or provided to them when the learner’s permit was issued. The test site locations will continue to offer an open door availability for walk-in knowledge and skills test applicants.
When the scheduling module goes live next week, the online system can only be used to schedule skills tests for Class D licenses (i.e. a license to drive a conventional passenger car or truck). Plans are being considered to expand the scheduling system in the future to include other testing services, such as commercial driver license testing operations and knowledge tests for Class D applicants.
Driver License Testing is administered by the Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division which is a part of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety.
ARKANSAS AG ISSUES HEALTH INITIATIVE 01/02/19
Getting in shape is always a top New Year’s Resolution and joining a gym is a popular step in achieving that goal. More than 60 million Americans are members of health clubs and gyms, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. While the decision to join an exercise program or gym can be a pleasant and rewarding experience, sometimes, it’s not.
“Investing in your health is important for your physical and mental wellbeing,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But reading the fine print, getting all sales promises in writing and knowing the cancelation and billing policies are crucial in securing your fiscal wellbeing and avoiding any unfortunate surprises.”
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge addresses some concerns received by her office on poor practices at health clubs, and what to look out for before signing on the dotted line.
Ask about trial periods so you can sample the gym without obligation to join.
Ask about hours of operation and any limits to certain memberships.
Do instructors and trainers have special qualifications or expertise to best serve its members?
Ask what the cancellation policy is upfront and the costs of any joining or cancellation fees.
Ask about automatic renewal policies and any recurring annual fees.
If signing a contract for a specific time period, are there extenuating circumstances that would allow breaks in the contract such as injury, illness or moving?
If a sales person agrees to special perks, waived fees or price changes, always make sure they are in writing and approved by the manager. The law requires that a copy of the signed contract be given at the time of joining.
Finally, before joining a health club, consider contacting the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau to find out if complaints have been filed against the gym.
For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
MINIMUM WAGE TO INCREASE IN ARKANSAS JANUARY 1ST 12/30/19
New laws are in effect as of January 1 st across the state, including new wage rules. The minimum wage increases to $10 per hour in 2020, and then bumps up to $11 per hour in 2021.
At the end of 2019, the minimum wage in Arkansas is $9.25 per hour.
Arkansas voters passed Issue 5 in 2018 to increase the minimum wage employees will earn around the state. Business owners are divided on the pay hike saying that it could drive
prices of products and services up.
Arkansas is one of twenty-one states seeing minimum wage hikes on January 1, 2020. Surrounding states of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Mississippi continue to
use the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour. Missouri increases its minimum wage from $8.60 to $9.45 per hour in 2020.
RUFFLING FEATHERS FOR FARMERS IN ARKANSAS 12/31/19
The $4.50 per square foot, that state assessment officials last year increased their recommended appraisals of standard chicken houses, has frustrated state legislators, who have
questioned the valuations. Lawmakers in Little Rock passed a resolution recently condemning the state Assessment Coordination Division’s poultry house valuations and urged further study.
Assessment officials say it’s time to update poultry house appraisals, which have remained unchanged since 1995. Several lawmakers though argue that the chicken houses are a
special type of property, and the rate increase from $4.50 to $9 per square foot on broiler houses was changed without proper representation for the farmers.
The Assessment Coordination Division was created to help ensure that local taxes across Arkansas were levied equitably. But in addition to the famers being upset about increased
property-tax bills, there were misconceptions about whether the division’s recommendations were binding on county assessors who felt the rates were too high in their respective
counties. The division publishes guidelines to assist assessors,
but they are not mandatory.
The final authority to determine market value in a specific county lies with that elected assessor. Lawmakers argue that while the guidelines aren’t binding on assessors, most are forced to abide by them because they don’t have the resources to independently develop their own valuation measures.
State Representative DeAnn Vaught of Horatio, a poultry farmer told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the issue is still “muddy” even after a letter was sent from the Division to
lawmakers addressing concerns. Representative Vaught said some farmers could go out of business. Polk County Assessor Jovan Thomas told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that most of the confusion appeared to have cleared from her perspective. She said that she has spoken with many poultry farmers whose concerns were eased after she walked them through the new appraisal guidelines. Most, she said, ended up owing far less that expected. Thomas, who said Polk County has one of the highest concentrations of chicken houses in the state, added that new poultry houses are affected most by the new guidelines, but she said that after meeting with one farmer in the middle of building new chicken houses, even he was surprised at how little the taxes would increase.
To determine the property tax owed in Arkansas, 20% of a valuation is multiplied by a millage rate. Under the state constitution, a property-tax bill can increase at most 10% a
year when the valuations increase. Thomas, the Polk County Assessor, says the Assessment
Coordination Division’s poultry house valuations were accurate based on poultry house sales in Polk County. If anything, she said, the rate remains favorable to the farmer. In
recent months, Thomas said that poultry farmers in the area have come to realize that the new valuations are not as tremendous and scary as they thought. “We just had to take the time to explain it to our constituents”, Thomas said.
A spokesman with the Department of Finance and Administration noted that change is difficult, but that the new rates will benefit communities. The majority of the property- tax money is used to educate children in public schools locally. But some farmers argue that higher taxes on poultry houses could have an adverse effect by discouraging the construction of broiler houses.
AGFC COLLECTING XMAS TREES FOR FISH HABITATS 12/31/19
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has set up drop-off locations for your used Christmas tree. The trees will be given a second life as a fish habitat.
Game and Fish says that no artificial trees should be used, and trees should be free of any decorations which include lights, tinsels, and ornaments.
The brush piles will sink with standard cinder blocks tied to the tree with either parachute cord or heavy baling wire. These materials last for an extremely long time and keep the tree anchored to one spot.
Trees can be dropped off at any of the following locations
through the end of January:
Millwood Lake – Cottonshed, White Cliff’s Recreation Areas,
and the Millwood State Park ramp on the point.
Dierks Lake – Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area
De Queen Lake – Any Corps of Engineers boat ramp
Gillham Lake – Any Corps of Engineers boat ramp
Lake Greeson – New Cowhide Cove and Self Creek Recreation
A man who was reported to be shoplifting at a store in De Queen was held in the Sevier County Jail after authorities responded to a call last week.
According to a report released by the De Queen Police Department, Officer Kristopher Hundley was dispatched to the Dollar General in De Queen on Sunday, December 22nd in response to a call about a shoplifter inside the store. The suspect was described as a white male seen wearing a blue sweatshirt and jeans.
Employees at the store reported to the officer that a man “sounded suspicious” while in the restroom, and was seen leaving the building before quickly re-entering after exiting. Upon re-entering the store the man was seen with a woman in an area that did not have cameras and the two were reportedly making excessive noise.
When the suspect left the store, officer Hundley made contact with the man and informed him of the shoplifting call. The man was identified as David Shroeder, age 35 of Oklahoma. The store manager reported locating an unopened package of pepperoni and beef jerky inside Shroeder’s pocket. Shroeder reportedly later admitted to taking the items without paying because he was hungry. The store manager decided to press charges and the suspect was apprehended. Shroeder was charged with theft of property and held in the Sevier County Jail.
DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 12/30/19
As many of you are reflecting on 2019 and setting goals for 2020, we want to remind you of what is ahead for the Arkansas House in the New Year.
In less than 10 weeks, Arkansans will be heading to the polls to cast ballots in the March 3 primary.
This year, the General Assembly passed Act 545 which provides for a March preferential primary election in the years in which the office of President of the United States is voted on and a May preferential primary election in the years in which the office of Governor is voted on. Fiscal sessions have been held on the second Monday in February on even-numbered years. However, Act 545 states that on years in which the preferential primary is held in March, the General Assembly will instead meet for a fiscal session on the second Wednesday of April.
This means we will begin pre-fiscal session budget hearings the day after the primary election, March 4. The hearings are expected to continue through March 12. Members can begin filing bills for the session on March 9. We will convene on April 8.
In 2008, Arkansans approved Amendment 86 which created fiscal sessions. Only budget bills are to be considered during a fiscal session. If any member wishes to file a bill other an appropriation bill during a fiscal session, then 2/3 of both chambers must first vote on a resolution to allow such a bill to be filed. Amendment 86 is also very clear about keeping these sessions brief. Fiscal Sessions can only be 30 days long. They can be extended one time for 15 days only if ¾ of both chambers agree.
We head into this New Year with an optimistic financial outlook. State revenue reports continue to exceed economic forecasts. And the unemployment level is at 3.6%.
Just as you do with your budget, our job in the weeks ahead will be to prioritize spending. As a reminder all of our budget hearings are live streamed and recorded on our website www.arkansashouse.org.
SENATOR LARRY TEAGUE COLUMN 12/30/19
The new year is an election year, and thanks to legislation approved during the regular session earlier this year, the primaries in Arkansas will take place on Tuesday, March 3.
Traditionally, Arkansas holds its primaries in May. The legislature passed Act 545 to move up the date, in the hope that presidential candidates will pay more attention to Arkansas voters. In past election years, both major political parties had usually completed their selection of presidential candidates by May.
So as not to mix electoral politics with governing, Act 545 also moved the starting date for the 2020 fiscal session. Usually, in even-numbered years our fiscal sessions begin on the second Monday in February. Now, in years with a presidential primary on the ballot, the fiscal sessions will begin the second Wednesday in April.
Another change in election law will affect organizations that want to place issues on the ballot, such as proposed constitutional amendments or initiated acts. In the past, those groups would get approval of the ballot title from the state attorney general, who would make sure that the ballot title accurately reflected the contents of the measure.
After the attorney general approved the ballot title, the groups would gather signatures on petitions to have their proposals placed on the ballot. Sometimes the attorney general rejected several proposed ballot titles before finally approving one.
Under Act 376 of 2019, the state Board of Election Commissioners will replace the attorney general’s office as the entity that approves ballot titles. Advocacy groups will submit lists of signatures to the Board at the same time as they submit a proposed ballot title. If the Board rejects either the ballot title or the sufficiency of signatures, appeals to the state Supreme Court will be extradited.
Act 376 increases the criminal penalties for petition fraud, changing it from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony.
At least three issues will be on the November general election ballot because they were referred by the legislature during the 2019 regular session. All three are proposed constitutional amendments.
One would permanently extend the current half-cent sales tax that generates revenue for highway projects. It is a temporary tax that is due to expire in 2023, unless Arkansas voters approve the ballot issue.
A second proposed amendment would change the current term limits provision in the state Constitution. It would impose a 12-year limit, but the limit would be for consecutive service and not for a lifetime. Thus, a legislator who served 12 years would have to leave office. But under the proposed amendment, the lawmaker could run again after sitting out for four years.
The third measure, if approved, would change the process for citizens’ groups to have measures placed on the November ballot. It would move up the deadline for submitting signatures to January 15. Currently, the deadline is in early July.
It would no longer allow groups an additional 30 days to collect more signatures. Now, if 75 percent of submitted signatures are valid, they get a 30-day extension. The amendment also would raise the bar for the legislature, which can refer up to three proposed amendments in every regular session. It would require a 60 percent majority in each chamber to adopt a joint resolution with a proposed amendment. Now, the legislature can refer a proposed amendment to voters by a vote of 51 percent of each chamber.
WEYERHAEUSER DONATES TO UA COSSATOT 12/30/19
On December 12, 2019, following UA Cossatot’s Christmas party, school representatives met with Sandra Gandara, Administrative Assistant for Weyerhaeuser, where Christmas came early in the form of a $6,000 donation from Weyerhaeuser’s “Giving Fund Grant”.
UA Cossatot Division Chair of Skilled and Technical Sciences, Steve McJunkins, said, “Thank you, Weyerhaeuser, for this generous donation and all your support. We could not provide this level of training without the assistance of our business partners.”
To learn about classes and programs offered at the UA Cossatot Lockesburg Campus, please contact Student Services at 870-584-4471. To learn about ways one can support UA Cossatot, please contact UA Cossatot Foundation Director, Dustin Roberts, at email@example.com or 870-584-1172.
Resident Tracy Sutton, who reported an issue involving neighborhood dogs in the city, addressed the council. The problem was brought to the council’s attention and is under control for the time being. Mayor Danny Ruth informed the council that new tables and chairs for the senior citizen’s center arrived. The Lions club purchased the furniture.
After reviewing the budget for 2020, some corrections were made to the line item titles and the budget was then approved with the exception of the personnel fund.
After an executive session was held, the council elected to stay with the freeze on raises, with the exception of an employee obtaining a certification from a class attended.
The council then approved the decision to distribute $500 bonuses to Mayor Ruth, JoAnna Giusti and Justin Ruth. New wastewater superintendent Matt Webb also received a Christmas bonus in the amount of $50.
After correcting an error, the previous meeting’s minutes along with November financial report and bills were approved and the council briefly discussed progress on the new senior building and sidewalk project before holding an executive session and then adjourning shortly after 8:00 p.m.
A woman is facing a criminal trespass charge after city police responded to a call about trespassing at a residence on circle drive in De Queen earlier this week.
According to a report released by The De Queen Police Department, officer Gilberto Elizondo was dispatched to the home around 10:00 p.m. Monday, December 23rd. A man at the scene reportedly told the officer that a woman by the name of Amanda McDougal had been screaming and throwing groceries outside the house that night. A jar was also allegedly thrown at the man’s car windshield and mountain dew soda cans had been busted in the driveway. The mailbox door was also reported to have been torn off by the suspect.
Police collected photos of the evidence consistent with the man’s report and Officer Elizondo traveled to the suspect’s home to speak with her.
Upon making contact with Amanda McDougal, she reportedly admitted to the officer that she had been at the man’s residence but claimed she never got out of her vehicle. Amanda was transported to The Sevier County Jail and booked for criminal trespassing.
Biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are seeking public input on the current revision to Arkansas’s White-tailed Deer Strategic Management Plan. This is the first review and revision of the plan since 2013.
The plan is reviewed every five to seven years to adapt to changing needs by developments in Arkansas’s deer herd and available habitat.
The plan was drafted by the agency’s deer program coordinator and assistant deer program coordinator with considerable input from the agency’s Deer Management Team, a collection of biologists and enforcement personnel from every region of the state. Additional review was provided by Wildlife Management Division administration as well as representatives from the agency’s Research, Evaluation, and Compliance Division and Communications Division before being submitted to the Commissioners for their review.The draft of the plan and a public comment survey are available at www.agfc.com/en/hunting/big-game/deer/2019-strategic-deer-management-plan/. Comments will be accepted until Jan. 20th. The Deer Management Team will then make needed revisions and submit the final draft to the Commission at its regularly scheduled February meeting.
FIRST DAY HIKES ORGANIZED BY ARKANSAS STATE PARKS 12/26/19
Make a New Year’s resolution to improve your health and happiness by kicking off 2020 with an invigorating First Day Hike at an Arkansas State Park. On January 1st, Arkansas will join state parks across the country by offering unique programming as a part of this annual event. Last year nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country on guided hikes. The First Day Hikes initiative encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with an outdoor exploration.“So many people start the year with resolutions about seeking more authentic experiences, as well as taking control of their own health and fitness,” said Arkansas State Parks Chief of Interpretation and Program Services Kelly Farrell. “With our First Day Hikes, you can put those good intentions right into action! We hope our visitors will take advantage of our programs so they can turn goals into accomplishments on day one of 2020.”
Visit arkansasstateparks.com for more information.
SPECIAL HOLIDAY DEER HUNT IN ARKANSAS DECEMBER 26TH-28TH 12/26/19
Established during the 1999-2000 deer season, the Statewide Holiday Deer Hunt was created to enable hunters another opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors and harvest deer while home for the holidays. “A lot of hunters will receive hunting equipment for Christmas, and they want to put those items to use right away,” said Ralph Meeker, Deer Program Coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “There also are a lot of families and friends who only see each other during the holidays and this hunt enables them to continue their hunting traditions.”
The holiday hunt is structured identically to the regular modern gun hunts with the exception that no dogs are allowed anywhere in the state. All deer taken during the hunt count toward a hunter’s seasonal bag limit for the zone where they are hunting. Some wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges are closed to modern gun hunting during the hunt, but many will be open.
Also ahead is the second Youth Hunt, Jan. 4-5. This also is a statewide hunt with no dogs allowed.
“We don’t see as much interest in the second youth hunt as the first,” Meeker said. “But there are still plenty of deer out there for young hunters to pursue and it gives them one last shot to use those new rifles they may have gotten at Christmas.”
Hunters 6 to 15 years old can go after deer with modern guns, muzzleloaders or archery gear. Youths who have passed hunter education may hunt on their own. Youths who have not passed hunter education must be under the direct supervision of an adult who is 21 or older. The adult mentor may not carry a hunting weapon of their own during the hunt.
This year’s extremely good mast crop has kept many deer deeper in the woods more than usual, which has not played in favor of hunters who have stayed on the stand in front of food plots or feeders.
“When the woods are full of acorns, the deer will absolutely focus on that food source as long as it is available,” Meeker said. “However, some acorns have been on the ground for a while and have begun to rot, especially with all the wet weather we’ve had. This may cause deer to begin moving more during the late season and going back to food plots and feeders. You never know unless you’re out there hunting.”
Visit www.agfc.com/deer for more information on deer hunting in Arkansas.
UA Cossatot’s registration for the spring 2020 semester is ongoing now. Students will be able to enroll in courses by contacting a Student Services Advisor to begin or continue their education at UA Cossatot.
The college’s Student Services department has Admissions and Recruitment Specialists at the Ashdown, Nashville, and De Queen Campuses. To sign up for classes or to learn about educational opportunities, they can be reached at 870-584-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-in visits are welcome from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Monday through Friday.
The Spring 2020 semester includes available courses in general studies, student personal development, accounting, biology, business, child development, fine arts, criminal justice, health and safety, political science, Spanish, English, and sociology, to name a few.
The college also offers courses in specific programs, including nursing, welding, radio-television broadcasting, industrial electricity and technology, automotive services, diesel technology, cosmetology, the physical therapist assistant program, and the occupational therapy assistant program. Medical pre-requisites are available to take, and UA Cossatot will also be offering EMT classes this upcoming semester at the Nashville Campus.
UA Cossatot has four campuses and will be offering classes for students to take in-class, online, during the day and evening. The college also provides AV courses.
Students are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible to enroll in the courses they need. The final day to register for the spring 2020 semester is January 14. Spring 2020 classes begin at UA Cossatot on January 13.
ARKANSAS AG LEADS FIGHT AGAINST ROBOCALLS 12/24/19
“The unanimous Senate vote today is a welcome tool to help stop the incessant, irritating robocalls we all receive,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I have led the charge in Arkansas to stop these illegal calls, but this is a national problem that needs multifaceted solutions. Arkansans and all Americans can find hope in knowing this legislation is heading to President Trump’s desk, and with his signature, law enforcement will have an additional tool to shut down these illegal calls.”
Rutledge led the fight against robocalls by working with state legislators to pass legislation to require telecommunication providers to submit annual reports to the Arkansas Public Service Commission to certify that all available and applicable technology is being employed to identify and block illegal robocalls and spoofing.
Rutledge also joined a bipartisan, public/private coalition agreement with every state attorneys general and 12 phone companies earlier this year. The coalition adopted eight principals to fight illegal robocalls and pave the way for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute bad actors.
Arkansans who would like to file a consumer complaint can email the office at oag@ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.
HORATIO SCHOOL RECOGNIZED AT GOVERNOR’S MANSION 12/24/19
Sevier County Judge Greg points to Horatio High School on a poster at the Governor’s Mansion last week. The school art department was recognized, along with 24 total schools around the state for their work in researching and contributing to the “christmas around the world” display at the mansion of Governor Asa Hutchinson.
MAN JAILED AFTER POLICE SEARCH HOUSE IN HORATIO 12/23/19
A man was arrested in Sevier County after authorities conducted the search of a residence in Horatio last week.A press release provided by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department states that Narcotics officers with the 9th West Judicial Drug Task Force and the Arkansas State Police executed a search warrant at a house on Messer Street in Horatio, Arkansas on Wednesday, December 18th. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department assisted with the search, which resulted in the arrest of a 28-year-old Horatio resident named Dustin Taylor.
Taylor has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with purpose to deliver methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and maintaining drugs on premises.
Dustin Taylor was held in The Sevier County Jail on a $50,000 bond.
ASHDOWN SCHOOLS RECOGNIZE TEACHERS OF THE YEAR 12/23/19
On, Monday December 16, Ashdown Public Schools recognized their campus Teachers of the Year and announced the District Teacher of the Year. Teachers from each campus were able to vote for their Teacher of the Year and a special committee with much difficulty chose AHS teacher Jennifer Simmons as the District TOY.
During the graduation ceremony, UA Cossatot Chancellor, Dr. Steve Cole, introduced Dr. Maria Markham, Director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) and Alisha Lewis, Associate Communications Director for ADHE. They were invited to the ceremony to present Dr. Cole and UA Cossatot with a sample check for 1.1 million dollars.
This check was used to represent the total amount of money that has been awarded to UA Cossatot students through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education using funds generated by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.
In the ten years since its inception, the lottery has raised more than $908 million to help provide more than 542,000 college scholarships for Arkansas students.
To apply for a lottery scholarship in Arkansas, please visit the Department of Higher Education’s website, scholarships.adhe.edu, to complete the Arkansas YOUniversal Scholarship Application.
NURSING HOME RESIDENTS EVACUATED AFTER FIRE THURSDAY MORNING 12/19/19
Residents of a nursing home in De Queen were evacuated after a fire broke out at the facility Thursday morning.
A report from The De Queen Fire Department states that 12 firefighters were dispatched by the all-call alarm at 9:46 a.m, Thursday December 19th. The department utilized two fire trucks and arrived at Bear Creek Health Care on Colin Raye Drive at 9:47 a.m, just one minute after being dispatched to the scene.
Fire Chief Dennis Pruitt commended the Bear Creek staff and assisting agencies for their efforts in evacuating the residents quickly and efficiently. The chief says the staff originally thought the incident was just a drill before finding out an actual fire caused by a heater had ignited inside the building.
(click for Chief Pruitt soundbite)
With no injuries reported and residents safely brought back inside, the department left the scene by 10:36 a.m. Assisting agencies include local volunteer fire departments and The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department.
HEMP PRODUCTION MEETING SEES LARGE TURNOUT IN DE QUEEN THURSDAY 12/19/19
Nearly 150 farmers from Sevier County and the surrounding area turned out for a Hemp farmer production meeting held at UA Cossatot’s De Queen campus Thursday, December 19th. Well-Known figures in the community in attendance included Sevier County Judge Greg Ray, De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown, Economic Development Director Lisa Taylor and a host of community leaders.
(De Queen Mayor, Jeff Brown attending the Hemp Farmer Production meeting at UA Cossatot in De Queen Thursday, December 19th)
County Agent Rex Herring thanked the meeting attendees and welcomed Attorney Rusty Rumley from The National Agricultural Law Center to lead the event presentation.
The main focus of the meeting was to address the legal regulations surrounding industrial hemp production for farmers in Arkansas. The long list of legalities circulating around the hemp discussion includes seed selection, pesticide use, processing, growing and selling of Industrial Hemp products.
Questions about the industry began to rise after The USDA put new regulations into effect in October 2019, and removed Hemp from the controlled substance list.
Though the new regulations provide more economic opportunities for area farmers, the rules won’t permit just anyone to grow hemp in Arkansas. As Mr Rumley says no one with a controlled substance-related criminal conviction in the last 10 years will be eligible to grow the product.
The program also featured an update on 2019 research trials and plans for the coming year in 2020, as presented by John Carlin of the Arkanas Crop variety improvement program.
The meeting also provided a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for Hemp production and allotted time for questions from curious farmers to be addressed by a panel of experts. Though the laws involving industrial hemp production seem to have already changed so recently, Mr. Rumley also says the laws are expected to change over the next year and again the following year after that. As the industry evolves, the rules surrounding Hemp production will grow and change with it.
More news regarding hemp farming in Arkansas will be announced as information becomes available to KDQN.
ASHDOWN SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER RECEIVES AWARD AT ASBA CONFERENCE 12/19/19
Congratulations to Ashdown School Board Member Rosa Bowman on receiving a Platinum Award for completing 400 hours of in-service training at the annual Arkansas School Board Association (ASBA) Conference in Little Rock. Mrs. Bowman is also President-Elect for the association.
Solar power company Today’s Power Inc. (TPI) and electric utility Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative (SWAECC) will build a 1-megawatt solar array near the headquarters of the cooperative in Texarkana.
TPI and SWAECC broke ground Wednesday (Dec. 18) on the single-axis tracking array that will include more than 3,800 panels on about 8 acres. The system was designed to offset a portion of SWAECC’s peak demand. Work on the project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020. TPI declined to release the cost of the project.
TPI will own and operate the array, providing electricity to SWAECC under a 20-year service agreement. Including this project, TPI has developed arrays or energy storage for 13 of the 17 electric cooperatives in Arkansas. Most of the arrays have been about 1 megawatt and a result of a utility partnership.“This solar project is a representation of the board of directors’ and management’s excellent commitment and vision to further improve the quality of life in their communities, thus creating substantial savings for the members of SWAECC for the next 25 to 30 years,” said Michael Henderson, president of TPI.
TPI is a subsidiary of Little Rock-based Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., which is owned by 17 Arkansas electric cooperatives. SWAECC provides electricity to 32,715 customer meters and has 4,531 miles of distribution lines, 139 miles of transmission lines and 35 substations.
According to a report from The De Queen Police Department, Officer Kristopher Hundley was requested to assist with a suspicious vehicle report by Deputy Chris Wolcott (Jr.) on Highway 71 East around 11:20 p.m. Friday, December 14th.
Upon arriving at the scene, the officer noted finding a male subject who was asleep in a White Chevy Pick-up truck. The man was identified as Jeffery Adams, age 57 of Smackover, Arkansas. Adams reportedly appeared to be under the influence of a substance and a plastic bag containing methamphetamine was allegedly found inside a cigarette carton in the vehicle.
Adams was taken into custody and transported to The Sevier County jail. The amount of methamphetamine discovered was listed as .89 grams and Adams was charged with possession of a controlled substance.
IMPORTANT END-OF-YEAR REMINDER FOR ARKANSAS BUSINESSES 12/19/19
This is a reminder for Arkansas businesses from Secretary of State John Thurston that the end of the year is approaching and there are a couple of important deadlines coming up.
Have You Paid Your Franchise Taxes? If you have not paid your franchise taxes for 2019, and do not do so by December 31st, your business will enter revoked status.
To find out if your business is currently in good standing, search our database here: https://www.sos.arkansas.gov/corps/search_all.php.
You can file and pay your franchise taxes online 24/7 at: https://www.ark.org/sos/franchise/index.php.
CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO SUSPEND SHORELINE ACTIVITY REQUESTS 12/18/19
The Army Corps of Engineers’ Millwood Lake Project Office will suspend shoreline activity requests beginning Jan. 1, 2020 to establish a baseline of the lake for officials to use while revising its 45-year-old master plan and 7-year-old shoreline management plan.
Shoreline activity requests will not be accepted during the master plan revision and all zoning and shoreline management regulations will remain in effect until the plans are complete.
A series of public workshops will be held to inform the public about the process used to update the Millwood Lake Master Plan and Shoreline Management Plan. The workshops will also allow project personnel to gather information from local residents and park visitors. The locations, dates and times of these workshops will be announced in the near future.
At the public workshops, representatives from the Corps of Engineers will be present to answer questions on the master plan and shoreline management plan revision process, to include explaining the difference between a master plan and a shoreline management plan. Anyone with any interest in the future management of Millwood Lake is encouraged to attend.
The Corps’ master plans are used to guide all use and development of a project’s federal public lands and waters for environmental stewardship and recreation related purposes, throughout its life.
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