Local News Archive

Why do bug bites itch? Entomologist McDermott weighs in on summer’s bane   07/14/2021

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Those pink splotches of calamine lotion adorning arms and legs are summer’s badge of honor — showing you’ve been outside and faced down the hordes of midges, mosquitoes and ticks out for your blood.

It’s bad enough that these insects want your blood, but why the maddening itch? Emily McDermott, assistant professor of entomology for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said it has to do with the human immune system.

“The itchiness is an allergic reaction to insect saliva,” she said. “As an insect or tick is biting, it’s salivating into the wound. It needs to introduce compounds that will keep the blood flowing.”

While the insect tries to draw the blood out, the human body is working to keep it inside.

“The insect’s saliva is combatting platelet aggregation, vessel restriction and clotting,” McDermott said. “That’s what your body is reacting to — trying to defend against foreign compounds.”

Itch vs. scratch

The immune response creates the itch, but does it have any advantage for the one being bitten?

“Itching is kind of a way to protect your body from things. That immediate itch is a ‘get-that-off-me’ response,” McDermott said.

However, that’s not foolproof. In some cases, the body’s itch reaction to a bite may take days or weeks, long after the insect is gone, she said.

However, outside of the initial “shoo” potential, scratching isn’t all that healthy.

“The pain of scratching overrides the itchy sensation,” McDermott said. “It causes the brain to release serotonin, which make the itch more intensive.

“The more you scratch, the more you itch,” she said, which increases the likelihood of tearing the skin.

Over-the-counter remedies like calamine lotion or cortisone-based creams can help dull the itch. McDermott uses an ice cube, with the cold producing “reduced nerve response.”

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

 About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to 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.

Sevier County jailers, dispatchers to receive pay raise in hopes of increasing employee retention    7/14/2021

DE QUEEN – Staff at the Sevier County Jail will be receiving a $1 per hour raise in hopes to combating a growing loss in jailers and also encouraging more applicants.

The Sevier County Quorum Court voted on Monday to incorporate the pay raise immediately. Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry raised the issue with the quorum court after reporting a significant loss in jail personnel to the private sector – including, just recently, four jailers. He added the jail has no additional applications on file.

Arkansas state jail standards require a minimum number of staff to operate a jail. Gentry said he was worried the continued loss of jailers would cause a violation of those standards. He hopes the $1 per hour pay raise will convince the jail’s remaining staff to stay while also prompting more applicants with the promise of higher pay.

The loss of employees to the private sector has been a growing trend among public workers with local industries paying upwards of $19 an hour. A tight labor market and a desperate need for workers has forced the private sector to offer higher pay at a rate Gentry said he and other public entities cannot match.

During Monday’s meeting of the quorum court, Sevier County Circuit Court Kathy Smith raised the question of pay raises for all county employees. She stressed the fact that offices remained open and county employees remained in their positions throughout the pandemic – a commitment that should be rewarded through a pay raise, she added.

Many businesses have provided pay raises to employees who worked throughout the pandemic. The City of De Queen, too, provided a $0.75 raise to all city employees last month in appreciation of their work during the pandemic.

Earl Battiest, who serves as the head of the quorum court’s budget committee, said however across-the-board pay raises were not feasible for all county employees at this time. He explained the pay increase for jailers was necessary due to the need to meet jail staffing standards – rather than performance or recognition based.

Battiest said a one-dollar-per-hour raise would cost the county an additional $170,000 per year – nearly a million dollars after five years. He said the county could “simply not afford” such an increase at this time. Battiest said county employees do have access to health insurance with no premium costs, county-funded retirement and other benefits not directly associated with per-hour pay.

In other business, the quorum court officially declared a vacancy over the District 7 Justice of the Peace seat. This position was previously held by Mike Archer, who passed away earlier this year after 26 years on the quorum court. Gov. Asa Hutchinson will have to appoint a person to the seat to fill out the remainder of the term. The appointee would not be able to seek re-election.

Finally, the quorum court heard a report from Lori House, CEO for the new Sevier County Medical Center. She provided a brief update, reporting that installation of the roof is currently in the works. House added the search for the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer remains underway and that the hospital’s new website is expected to launch this week.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray added bids open Aug. 3 for the sewer line and pump station to run from De Queen to the hospital site several miles north of the city on Highway 71. That project is estimated to cost around $1.5 million and will be paid for by funds received through the federal American Rescue and Recovery Act passed earlier this year.

Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival on for this Saturday on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes    7/14/2021

DE QUEEN – After several postponements, the 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival is on for this upcoming weekend.

Continually high lake levels have forced organizers of the event to postpone this popular event on several occasions. All three hosting lakes remained way above normal elevation due to tremendous rainfall in May and the beginning of June. Many of the boat ramps used during the tournament were underwater and debris was also a concern.

However, of the three hosting lakes, only Dierks Lake remains above normal elevation. Nevertheless, Jefferson Ridge’s boat ramp is open and levels on Dierks Lake aren’t high enough to hinder this weekend’s tournament.

Although it’s been rescheduled, organizers hope participation will remain strong. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray reported over 100 anglers have already registered for the tournament and more are expected the day of the event.

The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes, this Saturday, July 17. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. that day. Late registration is $50. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.

Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.

Over $14,000 in cash prizes will be awarded during the tournament, including $1,500 for catching the biggest bass.

Despite the postponement organizers remain hopeful this year’s tournament will still draw a big crowd. Especially after last year’s event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

For more information, contact Greg Ray at (870) 642-2425 or the Chamber of Commerce office at (870) 584-3225.

Arkansas notes dramatic increase in COVID-19 active cases, local figures remaining steady    7/14/2021

The Arkansas Department of Health reported another surge with active cases rising past 8,000 and more than 1,400 new cases over the last 24 hours.

Over the last 24 hours, Arkansas saw another increase in new and active cases with an 879 active case jump moving Arkansas past 8,000 active cases.

There were 15 new deaths that were reported over the last 24 hours according to the ADH.

The ADH reported 1,476 new cases for Tuesday, for a total of 358,949.

There are 8,134 active cases, which is up 879 from Monday. Currently 606 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus, which is up 41 from Monday, and 98 on ventilators, which is up 4 from Monday. According to the Arkansas Department of Health, 98 percent of the hospitalizations since January were among Arkansans not vaccinated.

Locally, Sevier County is currently reporting 22 active cases. Total cases rose to 2,817 on Tuesday. Fortunately, deaths have not seen an increase in months and remain at 24.

In Little River County, active cases currently number 10 and cumulative cases at 1,231. Active cases in Howard County total 11 and in Polk County 16.

UA Cossatot restarts enrollment for Youthbuild program    7/14/2021

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot has restarted enrollment for the 2021-2022 YouthBuild program in De Queen. Participants must be out-of-school youth between the ages of 16-24 and lack a high school diploma or GED.

Participants will learn job readiness skills, earn certifications and gain leadership skills. Stipends and supportive services are available.

For more information on the YouthBuild program, eligibility and requirements, call Leslie Daniels at (870) 584-1153.

Four more counties added to fire ant quarantine zone    7/14/2021

The federal Imported Fire Ant Quarantine has been extended to four additional counties: Logan, Prairie, Sebastian and White.

With these additions, there are 43 Arkansas counties included in the current federal quarantine area. The ant’s continued spread across the region means most of Arkansas, including Sevier, Howard, Little River and Polk Counties, are affected by the ban.

Kelly Loftin, extension entomologist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, has spent years studying methods for managing these pests and teaching Arkansans how to protect their families, farms and themselves from this invasive species.

Arkansas wasn’t the only state to see an expansion of the quarantine – three counties were added in North Carolina, one in Oklahoma and five in Virginia, he explained.

The additions are in response to imported fire ant surveys conducted by state regulators in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA announced the expansion in June.

Agriculture is at risk from red imported fire ants for several reasons. These ants will feed on the buds and fruits of numerous crop plants, especially corn, soybeans and okra. Large nests located in fields interfere with and damage equipment during cultivation and harvesting.

Ant attacks can also inhibit field-worker activities as a single fire ant can sting its target repeatedly. Young and newborn animals are especially susceptible to the venom of these stings.

The quarantine is needed to prevent the artificial movement of these invasive ants to non-infested areas. Movement of regulated items from quarantined to non-quarantined areas is restricted unless specific actions are taken to ensure the regulated items are fire ant free. Regulated items can move freely within the quarantine area.

The list of regulated items include:

-Nursery stock with soil or potting media

-Grass sod

-Baled hay stored in contact with the soil

-Baled straw stored in contact with the soil

-Soil

-And used soil-moving equipment.

Additional information, including interactive maps are available through USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection service at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/plantheatlh/plantdiseases/imported-fire-ants.

Find information specific to Arkansas on the fire ant and other quarantines here:https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/plant-industries/regulatory-section/quarantines/.

Back to School: De Queen School District preparing for class to resume with facility improvements, COVID plans    7/13/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s hard to believe but classes for Arkansas students resume again in just little over a month.
That means the De Queen School District is wrapping up several projects in time for the new school year, one everyone hopes is unhindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The De Queen School Board met last night to discuss several ongoing projects around the district planned for completion by the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Those include running fiber optic cables to the new video scoreboard at Leopard Stadium, new flooring for the primary campus, HVAC improvements and, most noticeably, the new field turf and other renovations at Leopard Stadium. Those include new homeside bleachers and stadium seating.
The field turf project was made possible through a partnership between the school district and numerous area businesses. Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district is confident the new turf field will be ready for use by the first football game of the season.
The CDC announced last week its recommendation for all schools in the United States to reopen fully this upcoming school year. Sanders said that was already the plan for De Queen Public Schools, which managed to continue throughout the pandemic and the 2020-2021 school year with only minor interruptions caused by COVID-19. School districts in Arkansas are not authorized to impose mask mandates but Sanders said De Queen parents can choose to send their children to school with masks if they prefer.
Sanders added the sanitary practices implemented over the last school year will continue into the new, along with easy, on-campus access to COVID-19 vaccines for teachers, staff and students aged 12 and up. Sanders stressed those vaccines will be available for anyone who wants one and will not be required.
During last night’s school board meeting, the board voted on several other items including the hiring of Amy Barker as the new De Queen Primary School principal. She will replace Sharon Pigeon, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year.
The school board also heard from its financial advisor, Ray Beardsley of First Security Beardsley Public Finance, about several school bond refinances. He said the district had successfully secured lower rates on all bond issues, including a rate of less than one percent on one of the issues, saving the district nearly $80,000.
The board then approved a $150,000 project to build a new 1.5 acre playground on the backside of the elementary school. Sanders said the new playground will not require students to cross any roads to access and will have a greatly increased capacity of 200 children. Other capital projects approved Monday night includes a $90,000 bid for fencing around Leopard Stadium, new weight equipment for the basketball program and the cost of placing sponsor logos on the new field turf at the stadium.
Classes are set to resume for students within the De Queen School District on Monday, Aug. 16.
Ashdown grad Jaden Hill selected for Rockies in MLB draft   7/13/2021
By Bill Franques, LSU Athletics
LSU junior right-hander Jaden Hill was selected Monday in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies.
Hill, a graduate of Ashdown High School was the 44th overall selection in the draft, which began Sunday with Round 1 and continued on Monday with Rounds 2-10. The draft will conclude on Tuesday with Rounds 11-20. Monday’s selection marked Hill’s second in the MLB Draft.
He was chosen in the 38th round in 2018 by the St. Louis Cardinals after his senior year of high school. Hill made seven starts on the mound for the Tigers in 2021 before being sidelined by an ulnar collateral ligament injury that required Tommy John surgery on his elbow.
He posted a 2-3 mark with a 6.67 ERA in 29.2 innings, recording 12 walks and 25 strikeouts. Hill was named a 2020 third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball newspaper after the pandemic-shortened season in which he allowed no runs and just one hit in 11.2 relief innings (four appearances) while recording five walks, 17 strikeouts and two saves. He limited opponents to an .028 (1-for-36) batting average on the year.
Hill pitched as a starter in LSU’s 2019 weekend rotation for the first two weeks of the season before having to sit out the remainder of the year due to a shoulder ailment. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week after defeating Air Force on February 17, as he worked five innings and limited the Falcons to one run on four hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
De Queen and all other schools to again provide free lunch, breakfast    7/13/2021
DE QUEEN – The USDA waiver implemented last year authorizing school districts in the country to provide free breakfast and lunch will continue into the next school year.
De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the extension of this waiver is good news for families facing other struggles during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the economic consequences caused by it.
The USDA’s decision, encouraged by President Joe Biden, allows schools to serve meals under the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option, which is open to all children and maintains the nutrition standards of the standard school meal programs.
Tammy Huddleston named 2021 De Queen Rotarian of the Year    7/13/2021
Tammy Huddleson recognizes JP Atkins with a plaque commemorating his tenure as De Queen Rotary Club President for 2020-2021. The incoming president is Erika Buenrostro of UA Cossatot.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Rotary Club held its annual awards ceremony Monday to recognize local outstanding Rotarians and officially change leadership.

A number of awards were handed out, including De Queen Rotarian of the Year to long-serving Rotarian Spike Dunlop.
Three 20-year members were also recognized, Teresa Brewer, Ceci Bettel and Marian Chandler. Perfect attendance certificates were awarded to ZZ Kamruddin, Jerry Davis, Tammy Huddleston, Spike Dunlop and JP Atkins.
Finally, Club President JP Atkins officially passed the gavel to incoming De Queen Rotary Club President Ericka Buenrostro. Buenrostro is an employee of UA Cossatot.
Third annual October Cruise Over this fall in Lockesburg   7/13/2021
LOCKESBURG – The third annual October Cruise Over has been scheduled for this fall in Lockesburg. The car show, set to draw out dozens of custom cars, trucks and bikes, has been set for Oct. 9 at the Ida Margaret Coulter Stone Park in Lockesburg. Registration will begin at eight that morning with an awards ceremony set for 3 p.m.

The car show will feature concessions, entertainment, activities and door prizes throughout the day. Cost to register a vehicle is $20 on the day of the show. Categories include best rat rod, top five pre-50’s truck, top five post-50’s truck, best motorcycle, and several other categories for both cars and trucks.
Proceeds from the event will go to serve the local Masonic Scholarship Fund and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. For more information contact Rodney Whisenhunt at (870) 451-3273 or Mark King at (870) 200-1337.

2021 Future Leopard Football Camp set for later this month   7/13/2021
DE QUEEN – Registration continues for the 2021 Future Leopard Football Camp at De Queen Public Schools.

The event has been set for July 26, 27 and 29 at the Leopard Football Stadium each day. Eligible grades are kindergarten through fifth. The camp will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. each night.
Cost is $50 and includes a t-shirt.

The Future Leopard Football Camp is being organized by the Leopard Football coaching staff and players. Campers will learn and develop the basic skills and fundamentals of football that will assist them as future Leopards football players.

Campers will be involved in sessions that include form running, agility and change of direction. All participants will interact with current Leopard football players and coaches to help build the future foundation of the Leopard football program.

For more information, visit the De Queen School District’s Facebook page or contact Leopard Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir at (870) 584-4312.

State, local law enforcement launch “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” anti-speeding campaign   7/13/2021
Arkansas law enforcement officers have launched a speed enforcement blitz with additional patrols to stop speeding drivers.  Operating under the tagline, “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine”, state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and local police officers have committed to confront the safety threat caused by drivers who choose to ignore the posted speed limit on Arkansas highways and local streets.

Starting today and continuing through Sunday, July 18, the intensified enforcement operation will involve law enforcement officers from state and local departments, big and small.

Speeding violations across Arkansas have been trending upward over the past 18 months, correlating with an increase in fatalities from motor vehicle crashes, according to Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.

When a driver increases the speed of a vehicle, it reduces the reaction time the driver has to safely react to unexpected hazards and too often the end result is serious injury or death to drivers and passengers, Bryant added.

During calendar year 2019 the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) documented 26 percent of all traffic fatalities, or 132 lives lost, in speeding related crashes.

Nationally, about 15 percent of the speeding related fatalities occur on interstate highways annually.

Speed also affects safety even when a vehicle is being driven at the speed limit but too fast for road conditions, such as during bad weather, when a road is under repair or in an area at night that is not well lit.

NHTSA considers a crash to be speed related if a driver was charged with exceeding the posted speed limit or if the driver was driving too fast for conditions.

For more information on the “Obey the Sign, or Pay the Fine” mobilization, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visitwww.TZDarkansas.org

Mena man killed in collision with train Friday morning     7/12/2021
NEW POTTER – A Mena truck driver was killed when his Peterbilt truck collided with a train in New Potter Friday morning, according to the Arkansas State Police. 62-year-old Jerry Price of Mena was eastbound on Polk County Road 48 when his Peterbilt truck collided with a southbound train.

The accident occurred at 7:28 a.m. Friday at Arkansas 375 West in New Potter.

According to the State Police report, the weather was clear and the road was dry at the time of the accident.

Ashdown man charged with July 4 shooting incident in Miller County     7/12/2021

ASHDOWN – Authorities say they have an Ashdown man in custody wanted for a shooting on July 4 which fortunately left no one dead or injured.

According to the Miller County Sheriff’s Office, officers with the Ashdown Police Department arrested 19-year-old Neil Williams, Jr. on July 8 in connection to the incident over the Fourth of July weekend. He is facing numerous felony charges, including seven counts of aggravated assault and 11 counts of committing a terrorist act. Williams is currently in the Miller County Jail awaiting his first court appearance.

The Miller County Sheriff’s Office reported responding to a residence on Miller County Road 139 on July 4 after occupants said someone had fired a gun into the home. Although no one was injured, there were several occupants inside the home at the time. It is believed the incident was related to an ongoing dispute between one of the victims and Williams.

Dierks Pharmacy, De Queen Health and Wellness to give away $1,000 thru vaccine drive     7/12/2021

DIERKS – Two area pharmacies are teaming up to help encourage more people to get their COVID-19 vaccines.

The Dierks Pharmacy and the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy have partnered up to create a new, $1,000 incentive for Arkansans who have not yet received their vaccine. Anyone who receives either their first vaccine dose or both at oneof the two pharmacies during the month of July is eligible to enter the $1,000 cash prize drawing.

e drawing will be held during the Dierks Pine Tree Festival July 30-31. Participants do not have to be present at the festival to win if their name is drawn.

For more information, contact the Dierks Pharmacy at (870) 286-2131 or the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy at (870) 642-2400.

The Arkansas Department of Health is continuing its own vaccine incentives, allowing those who get their vaccine to stop by any county health unit to receive either a $20 Arkansas Scholarship Lottery scratch-off ticket or a $20 Arkansas Game and Fish Commission gift certificate.

State and local health officials are continuing to express concern over what appears to be a renewed surge of COVID-19 infections in Arkansas.

Last week saw the first time in over five months that the state reported at least 1,000 new cases in a single day period. On Friday the Arkansas Department of Health reported over 1,100 new cases in just that 24-hour period. Case rose by 1,200 just the day before. Hospitalizations are also seeing a dramatic rise, increasing from a little over a hundred a month ago to nearly 500 as of Friday.

Those increases are starting to be seen locally as well. In Sevier County, active cases last week rose to 21 – the highest figure in months and a dramatic increase from the single-digit caseload reported just a couple of weeks ago. Howard County is currently reporting 18 active cases at this time. Little River County saw its active caseload grow to 12 on Friday.

Sevier County Health Officer Dr. Jason Lofton said his recommendation and those of other health experts remains, get the vaccine.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, just over 30 percent of Sevier County residents are fully vaccinated. Little River is just under 22 percent, one of the lowest rates in the state. Howard County is among the top counties in Arkansas in regards to fully vaccinated residents at 36 percent.

COVID-19 vaccines are currently available at many health providers and pharmacies across the state, including the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy and the Sevier County Health Unit. For Little River residents, vaccines can be obtained through the Walmart pharmacy. Vaccines are widespread and currently available for all Arkansans aged 12 and up. For more information on where to obtain vaccines, and for more info on COVID-19 in general, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

July is Watermelon Month in Arkansas     7/12/2021

Arkansans know that no summer barbecue is complete without fresh watermelon. Our state may not be the largest producer of watermelon, but Arkansas communities lay claim to being the home of the world’s largest and the world’s sweetest.

The month of July is known as National Watermelon Month. July is typically the largest shipping month of the year, with over 15 states harvesting simultaneously.

The United States currently ranks 7th in the worldwide production of watermelon. Over 1,200 varieties of watermelon are grown across 96 countries worldwide. But the impact the crop has on communities here in Arkansas has been a cause for celebration for decades.

In Arkansas, we have more than 200 farms harvesting more than 1,500 acres of watermelons. Crops are valued at more than $5 million.

The city of Hope annually celebrates its claim as the home of the world’s largest watermelons with a yearly watermelon festival. The event first originated in 1926 and has been ongoing, though not continuous, since 1977. This year’s festival is just around the corner, scheduled for Aug. 5-7.

Researchers are now finding out that watermelons are even more nutritious than previously known. The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service recently identified over 1,500 small molecules of diverse chemical characters in the fruit, known as phytochemicals. They concluded that eating watermelon is an excellent way to increase your intake of antioxidants, non-protein amino acids, and lycopene. This means that every time you eat watermelon, you’ll be improving the health of your cells, organs, and nervous system.

In addition to farmer’s markets and fruit stands across the state, you can find Arkansas watermelons and any Arkansas grown produce at supermarkets by looking for the “Arkansas Grown” label. The “Arkansas Grown” logo is a registered trademark of the Department filed with the Arkansas Secretary of State. It may appear in black and white or black and green versions.

Local and state officials express concern over Arkansas’ rising COVID figures     7/09/2021
DE QUEEN – State and local health officials are expressing concern over what appears to be a renewed surge, and possibly a third wave of, COVID-19 infections in Arkansas.

This week saw the first time in over five months that the state reported at least 1,000 new cases in a single day period. On Thursday the Arkansas Department of Health reported over 1,200 new cases in just that 24-hour period. Confirmed active cases rose to nearly 6,000 yesterday and deaths increased by 11 – both higher figures than the state has reported in months. Hospitalizations are also seeing a dramatic rise, increasing from a little over a hundred a month ago to 481 as of Thursday.

Those increased are starting to be seen locally as well. In Sevier County, active cases this week rose to 21 – the highest figure in months and a dramatic increase from the single-digit caseload reported just a couple of weeks ago. Howard County is currently reporting 18 active cases at this time. Little River County, however, has not seen a similar increase yet, with just eight currently confirmed or probable active cases.

Dr. Jason Lofton, who serves as the health officer for Sevier County, said it’s a trend he’s been watching and one which is causing concern. He said his biggest worry is the potential spread of the virus, and particularly the Delta variant, this fall and once school begins again.
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Health officials say most of the new hospitalizations seen in the state are among younger Arkansans – a trend explained at least partially by the reluctance of younger residents to get their vaccine and by the spread of the virus’ Delta variant, which tends to target younger people. The variant is also more contagious and carries the potential for more serious health effects as well.
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Lofton said his recommendation and those of other health experts remains, get the vaccine. And if that’s not doable, take precautions such as mask wearing in public and social distancing to help limit the spread of the virus.
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According to the Arkansas Department of Health, just over 30 percent of Sevier County residents are fully vaccinated. Little River is just under 22 percent, one of the lowest rates in the state. Howard County is among the top counties in Arkansas in regards to fully vaccinated residents at 36 percent.

COVID-19 vaccines are currently available at many health providers and pharmacies across the state, including the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy and the Sevier County Health Unit. For Little River residents, vaccines can be obtained through the Walmart pharmacy. Vaccines are widespread and currently available for all Arkansans aged 12 and up. For more information on where to obtain vaccines, and for more info on COVID-19 in general, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

Sevier County Youth Baseball Association hosting Dixie State Tournament in DQ this weekend     7/09/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s going to be a bustling few days in Sevier County with the Dixie Youth Baseball League state tournament scheduled for this weekend at the De Queen Sportsplex. The tournament is expected to draw in hundreds of players, coaches and guardians to De Queen for the weekend.

Kyle Willis of the Sevier County Youth Baseball Association stopped by earlier this week to let us know the state tournament will begin tonight and continue through Sunday.

The tournament kicks off tonight starting at 7 p.m. with a game in both the 10u and 12u teams. Saturday, the 8u games will begin at 9 a.m. and 11 am.. The 10u and 12u games are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 1:30 P.M. on Saturday. Sunday, games are scheduled for 2 p.m.

There will be a gate fee of $6 for everyone save players on the roster and coaches. There will be no opening ceremony for this year’s state tournament.

Concessions will be available throughout the weekend’s tournament and bottled water will be offered due to COVID guidelines.

NICA Youth Tryout biking event in De Queen this Saturday     7/09/2021

DE QUEEN – Local organizers will be hosting a National Interscholastic Cycling Association Youth Tryout in De Queen this Saturday, July 10.

There is no cost to attend this event, organized for youth in grades sixth through 12th. The tryout will include On the Bike skills and teaching youth about the sport of mountain biking and what the National Interscholastic Cycling Association is all about.

Don’t have a bike? No problem, organizers will have a fleet of bikes and helmets at the event. The tryout will take place from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.

Attendees should bring a water bottle and snacks though light snakes will be provided.

Erik Smith of AMP Fitness, one of the organizers behind the event, said the tryout will allow local kids to be a part of something not necessarily competitive but an experience in riding for fun and volunteerism. Youth will have the opportunity to learn how to help set race courses and other volunteer opportunities during biking events.

For questions contact Smith through AMP Fitness on Facebook Messenger or call or text him at (870) 279-1838.

DQ Lions Club Youth Fishing Derby is July 10     7/09/2021

DE QUEEN LAKE – The always-popular De Queen Lions Club youth fishing derby is set for this Saturday, July 10. The event was originally scheduled for June but was postponed due to high lake levels, which have since dropped to near normal.

All area youth aged 15 and younger are invited to come out to the De Queen Lake Spillway this Saturday for the annual fishing derby. Registration will be held shortly before the event starting at 8:30 a.m. Fishing begins at 9 and continues to 11.

There is a limit of one fishing rod per youth and all youth must be accompanied by an adult. The first 100 contestants who register will receive a t-shirt. All Arkansas Game & Fish rules will apply. There is no cost or fishing license required for this event.

Arkansas Game & Fish will be providing catfish for the derby.

First Baptist Church of De Queen celebrating 125th anniversary on Sunday     7/09/2021

DE QUEEN – First Baptist Church of De Queen will be celebrating its 125th anniversary this upcoming Sunday, July 11. The anniversary celebration will include worship, remembrances and a dinner. The church was established one year before the city of De Queen was incorporated and has been an integral part of the community ever since. It’s purpose was and continues to be the sharing of the Gospel of Christ with this community and the surrounding area.

Everyone is invited to come and celebrate this important occasion for the church. Worship will be at 9:30 a.m., fellowship at 11 and lunch 12 noon. A special invitation is extended to Chapel Hill Baptist Church, Kern Heights Baptist Church and Iglesia Bautiste Emmanuel. These churches were all started as missions of First Baptist Church.

Fish fry fundraiser and benefit cornhole tournament in support of Michael Akins on Saturday     7/09/2021

A fish fry fundraiser and cornhole benefit tournament will be held tomorrow, July 10 in support of Michael Akins. The event will be held at Dee’s Barn and Venue, located on 122 Little River County Road 11 near Ashdown. Plates will be available for $10 and served between 6-7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased prior to the event at Diamond Bank, Mil-Way Federal Credit Union, Pam & Co. Florist, Davis Feed and Southern Tire.

The cornhole tournament will begin at 12 p.m. with check-in starting at 11 a.m. Cost to enter is $50 per team. Pre-register with Brandy Gillihan by calling (903) 293-3856. Water slides will be available all day for kids. Wristbands are available for purchase at the event for just $5. The fundraiser will also feature live music by Bradley Music Studio. Other events include raffles, a bake sale and a silent auction for a custom .308 Mossberg Patriot and a Built Fire Pit Fish Cooker.

All proceeds raised will go to support Michael Akins with medical expenses after he was injured by a falling tree on April 26. For more information contact Chas Davis at (903) 748-6934.

UA Cossatot hosts in-person grad ceremony for 2021 LPN class     7/09/2021

LOCKESBURG – UA Cossatot hosted a Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) graduation and pinning ceremony on Friday, June 25, at the UA Cossatot Bank of Lockesburg Historic Gymnasium.

This year’s graduates included: Sanjuana Alvarez-Hernandez, Victoria Boyd, Heather Bradshaw, Dondria Burdette, Rosio Cisneros, Brittany Crumpler, Elizabeth DiBucci, Yatzari Dominguez, Hannah Fry, Myranda Gross, Caitlin Harding, Evie Harris, Crystal Hernandez, Alondra Lerma, Haley Manasco, Ana Martinez, Leslie Martinez, Emily McCarley, Hannah Pate, Alexis Rubio, Gabriela Ruiz, Shyla Schwartz, Maeghan Vaughn, Caylee Young, Victoria Alfaro, Ada Camarillo, Aldair Guerrero, Kimberly McCauley, Samantha Molina, JaQuasha Ogden, and Hailey Oglesby.

The Practical Nursing Program offers two educational formats for students, an 11-month day program that begins in August and ends in June and an 18-month evening program that begins in January and ends in June of the following year. Students successfully completing the Practical Nursing Program Course are awarded a Technical Certificate.

The course of study meets the requirements of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, and after graduation, students are eligible to apply for the State licensing examination to become an LPN.

Dr. Ashley Aylett, Vice Chancellor for Academics, stated the college is extremely happy to be able to gather in-person to celebrate these LPN graduates. She added the COVID-19 pandemic made the past year extremely difficult to navigate for most everyone. This particular group of LPN students experienced a complete change in the way the nursing program was delivered—requiring them to transition to several months of virtual learning, testing, and clinical. These students’ dedication and determination are evident through the successful completion of the program during a time like none have experienced she added.

For more information on UA Cossatot’s LPN program, contact Medical Education at 870-584-1211.

Horatio Art in the Park this weekend at Horatio City Park     7/09/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Hometown Connections will present the first annual Art in the Park event this month. The art-and-crafts-themed event will take place Saturday, July 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Horatio City Park. The event will feature local artists, craftsmen and food vendors.

The event is free but those interested in attending are asked to RSVP on the Facebook event page. That link can be reached by visiting Horatio Hometown Happenings on Facebook.

Texarkana man facing numerous drug, gun charges after arrest in Ashdown     7/08/2021
ASHDOWN – A Texarkana man is facing a raft of felony drug and firearms charges after he was arrested in Little River County during a routine traffic stop.
According to records in the Little River County Circuit Court, Sergeant Zane Butler of the Ashdown Police Department conducted a traffic stop on June 21 on a vehicle in Ashdown. Butler identified the front seat passenger as 27-year-old Edwin Kaczmarek of Texarkana. Running his information though a warrant check, Butler discovered Kaczmarek had an active warrant for his arrest due to a probation violation warrant in Miller County.

Butler then placed Kaczmarek under arrest for the felony warrant. It was during a search of Kaczmarek’s person that Butler reportedly found a plastic hand-tied bag of methamphetamine hidden inside his underwear. A search of the vehicle then allegedly uncovered a 9mm handgun inside a Little Caesar’s Pizza box Kaczmarek was holding when Butler first spoke to the suspect.

A check of Kaczmarek’s phone also allegedly contained visible communications with a known, large-scale meth dealer from the Texarkana area.

Kaczmarek was then taken to the Little River County Jail where he was charged with felony counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of methamphetamine with purpose to deliver and simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms.

Corn in Foreman designated for families in need instead destroyed and eaten by feral hogs     7/08/2021

Feral hogs will stop at nothing to find a meal. And this time, they’ve targeted food designated for hungry families in Southwest Arkansas.

Harvest Regional Food Bank officials said late last week that feral pigs rummaged through and destroyed a corn crop in Foreman. The crop was specifically designated for the Harvest Regional Food Bank to feed families in need and occurred just a few days before it was scheduled for harvesting.

Officials say volunteers were set to start picking the corn on Monday but arrived only to find the crop nearly completely eaten by feral hogs.

In a statement Harvest Regional Food Bank Executive Director Camille Wrinkle said she’s disappointed the donation was ruined by feral hogs, the organization remains grateful to the farm for its generosity and for their offer to replant the corn again next year. The corn would’ve been distributed to more than 85 food pantries across the region.Anyone who would like to donate fresh produce to Harvest Regional Food Bank can visit http://www.HRFB.org/donate.

In 2020, the food bank distributed over five million meals to families in Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas. Both states consistently rank in the top 10 for adult and childhood hunger.

Grannis Rodeo set for July 23-24     7/08/2021

GRANNIS – Get ready for a night of great family fun at the Grannis Rodeo later this month.

The Wing Rodeo Company and the Grannis Trail Riders will present this year’s Grannis Rodeo on July 23 and 24. Admission is just $6 and kids four and under get in for free. Friday night is half price for senior citizens. Mutton bustin starts at 7 p.m. and the rodeo at 8 p.m. both nights.

There’s a ton of added money for this year’s rodeo, including $1,000 for bull riding, $550 in other events and $50 for nightly junior barrels.

Events range from steer wrestling and calf roping to team roping, barrel racing, break away and bareback. Sign up at the rodeo for the rescue race for $20 per team.

Everyone will have a chance to enjoy the antics of Rodeo Clown Kody Gray and the Rocking Yellow Rose.

Call in will take place July 19 and 20 from 6-10 p.m. both evenings. Call (479) 216-1619.

Benefit calendar looking for 60-somethings in Sevier and Little River Counties      7/08/2021

You, or someone you know, could be featured as a “pin up” in the 2022 ArkLaTex 60 Strong calendar, an exclusive calendar showcasing inspirational “60 somethings” and highlighting area events and activities. In addition to appearing in the calendar, winners receive “celebrity treatment” with a professional photo shoot and compensation for their modeling time.

Anyone age 18 or older can nominate a friend or family member — age 60 to 69 — who has achieved remarkable levels of fitness, pursued a new hobby or given back to others in some way. Perhaps the candidate is fighting a chronic condition or caring for someone who is.

Here’s how it works:

  • Log on towww.ArkLaTex60Strong.comand submit an application form, 200-400 word essay, head shot and full-length photo by Friday, September 10.
  • Those who nominate winning candidates receive a $50 gift certificate.

ArkLaTex 60 Strong candidates must be between the ages of 60 and 69 on Sept. 1, 2021, and a resident of either Little River, Hempstead, Lafeyette, Miller, Columbia, or Sevier county in Arkansas. Other candidates will be selected from counties in Texas and Louisiana.

Celebrity judges will select 12 winners who exemplify how life after sixty can be a vibrant and active time. Contestants are judged on their commitment to health and fitness, community involvement, volunteerism and how they are inspirational to others.

Winners must be available Wednesday, October 6, through Saturday, October 9, 2021. For questions or more information email ArkLaTex60Strong@LiveWellSCA.com. All proceeds from the calendar will benefit Meals on Wheels of America thru Senior Citizens Services of Texarkana Inc., Meals on Wheels Ministry, Inc and David E. Boone, Sr. Ministries, which operates senior citizen centers in De Queen and other locations in Southwest Arkansas.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for Prime Country Meats in Horatio      7/08/2021

HORATIO – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Friday, July 9 to welcome its newest member, Prime Country Meats. The business will host an open house that day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Sevier County Chamber is inviting everyone out to welcome one of Sevier County’s newest businesses. The event will take place at Prime Country Meats, located at 526 Clear Creek Road in Horatio. Prime Country Meats provides USDA and custom cuts with locally grown cattle in Southwest Arkansas.

DHS grad named 2021 Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year     7/07/2021
A graduate of De Queen High School is being honored by Amazon for his work as a teacher of computer sciences.

Aaron Ahrens is one of just ten award recipients from across the U.S. to be recognized by Amazon for going above and beyond to inspire his students to build skills in computer science while also promoting diversity and inclusion in the field. Ahrens, who graduated De Queen High School in 2000, and the school where he teaches, Texas High School, have received a prize package valued at $30,000 for Ahrens’ exemplary work with students.

In addition, the award provides Ahrens with the title of 2021 Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year. The $30,000 prize package includes $25,000 to expand computer science and robotics education at his school as well as a $5,000 teacher cash award.

Ahrens learned of the honor when his colleagues surprised him with an Amazon box filled with Amazon Future Engineer swag. Ahrens said the award was unexpected and that he was truly honored by it.

Ahrens began his career in education seven years ago. He took over as the computer science teacher at Texas High School, which originally included just two sections of Computer Sciences. He worked to grow the program from these two introductory classes to eight classes covering more advanced computer science topics. He’s also been an active mentor to the campus robotics competition team during his tenure. He’s worked to grow student skills in automation and programming through engaging and highly interactive projects throughout the year as well as summer camps.

Ahrens’ current goal is to help develop student skills and knowledge to support and expand the regional technology industry by developing students that companies are seeking to employ.

After graduating from De Queen High School, Ahrens went on to receive both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer sciences.

In a press release, Amaazon Global Director Victor Reinoso said the Amazon Teacher of the Year Award recipients work diligently to help students in underserved and underrepresented communities build life-changing skills to propel their futures in computer science.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the market for computer science professionals will grow 11 percent between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupants in May 2020 was over $91,000, or more than twice the median annual wage for all other occupations. Students from underserved or underrepresented communities are 8 to 10 items to pursue college degrees in computer science if they have taken AP computer science and other courses like those introduced and taught by Ahrens.

Amazon officials said it’s teachers like Ahrens who are ensuring everyone has a chance to enter this field and find a successful career in computer science.

State officials renew vaccine push as new cases, hospitalizations rise in Arkansas     7/07/2021

State officials are making another push to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations as Arkansas continues to see higher increases in new cases and hospitalizations.

During Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly press conference on Tuesday, Dr. Jose Romero of the Arkansas Department of Health reported 55 additional hospitalizations from the day before. That, he explained, is the largest one day increase in hospitalizations since January.
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Most of those new hospitalizations are among younger Arkansans – a trend explained by the reluctance of younger residents to get their vaccine and by the spread of the virus’ Delta variant, which tends to target younger people.

Gov. Hutchinson stressed the vaccine remains the safest and most effective way to not just curb new cases and hospitalizations.
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Incentives remain in place to encourage Arkansans to receive the vaccine – the choice of either a $20 Arkansas Lottery Scholarship scratch-off ticket or a $20 gift certificate from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Hutchinson said he and state officials are working with employers across the state to encourage paid time off for employees who need to receive the vaccine. In addition, he said the Department of Health is willing to host on-the-job clinics to make the vaccination process as quick and simple as possible.
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The Arkansas Department of Health reported 270 new cases of the virus on Tuesday for a cumulative total of just over 352,000 since the spring of 2020. Active cases fell by 107 to number 4,645. Deaths rose by six on Tuesday for a total of 5,926 since the pandemic began.

Dierks Pine Tree Festival set for July 30-31     7/07/2021

The Dierks Chamber of Commerce will present the 48th annual Pine Tree Festival this month.

The event is scheduled for July 30 and 31 at the Dierks City Park. Friday night, July 30, will feature mutton busting at 6 p.m., followed by the TMRA National mini-rodeo at eight. For more information on this event, call (870) 451-2304. Admission Friday night is $10 for adults, $7 for children and free for kids six and under.

Then on Saturday night, it’s the LJ Jenkins Bull Riding Tour at the Dierks City Park area, beginning at 8 p.m. There’s $10,000 in added money and the winner will receive an All Things Western buckle. Mutton busting starts at 6 p.m.

Admission Saturday night is $12 for adults, $7 for children and free for kids six and under.

Two lucky attendees will win $500 in cash and kids will have a chance to win a new bike Saturday night.

The Dierks Pine Tree Festival will also include carnival rides, bounce house, a sawdust scramble, archery shoot, ax throwing, arm wrestling and lumberjack competitions, starting at noon on Saturday. Don’t miss the Pine Tree Festival parade at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

The 48th annual Pine Tree Festival in Dierks in July 30-31.

Sevier County Quorum Court to meet July 12     7/07/2021

The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet again this upcoming Monday, July 12. Following an update from Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House, the quorum court will vote on a proposed resolution declaring a vacancy in the office of Justice of the Peace, District 7, on the Sevier County Quorum Court. This seat was previously held by Mike Archer, who passed away last month. Archer served on the quorum court for 26 years.

In other business, justices of the peace will discuss another resolution seeking to authorize Sevier County Judge Greg Ray to enter into a contract of obligation between the Sevier County Landfill and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

Finally, justices will hear a discussion on pay equity to retain jailers employed by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and a financial appropriation request from the Sevier County Road Department.

The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. July 12 in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse and is open to the public.

Sevier County Single Parent Scholarship now accepting applicaitons     7/07/2021

The fall 2021 semester application process is now open for the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Sevier County. Just go to www.aspsf.org to apply for a single parent scholarship for the upcoming fall semester. Applicants can follow the directions available on the website to apply. Sevier County residents must choose Sevier County in the “select your county” drop bar. Attach all the required documents for your application to be accepted. All applications must be in by the Sept. 15 deadline. If you are a resident of Sevier County only applications filled out on the Sevier County site will be accepted.

Mineral Springs man in custody after shooting gun at officer     7/06/2021

MINERAL SPRINGS – A Mineral Springs man is in custody after he allegedly fired at police officers during an investigation last week.
According to the Howard County Sheriff’s Office, deputies received a 911 call on June 30 in reference to a man with a gun at the Mine Creek Apartments in Mineral Springs. Officers from the Mineral Springs Police Department and deputies with the Howard County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call and made contact with a man standing outside of the apartment building.
Within seconds another man reportedly began firing at the officer and man, with at least four shots fired in total. One of the rounds struck the patrol car of Mineral Springs Police Officer Nathan Cornish, passing through the driverside windshield, passing through the driver’s seat headrest and lodging in the plexiglass of the prisoner transport cage. A picture of the damage caused by the round shows it struck right were the driver would have been sitting if he had been inside the patrol vehicle.
The shooter then fled on foot with multiple vehicles also fleeing the scene. Officers from the Howard County Sheriff’s Office, Nashville Police Department and the Arkansas State Police responded and worked together to secure the scene and surrounding area. Four spent casings were found near where the shooter was standing.
Further investigation of the incident led officers to obtain an arrest warrant for the shooting suspected, identified as 26-year-old Avante Evans. He was located and arrested later and is awaiting his initial court appearance on the charge of Attempted Capital Murder.
We’ll have more on this story as additional information is released.
First Baptist Church of De Queen to mark 125th anniversary with special Sunday celebration     7/06/2021
DE QUEEN – First Baptist Church of De Queen will be celebrating its 125th anniversary this upcoming Sunday, July 11. The anniversary celebration will include worship, remembrances and a dinner. The church was established one year before the city of De Queen was incorporated and has been an integral part of the community ever since. Its purpose was and continues to be the sharing of the Gospel of Christ with this community and the surrounding area.
Everyone is invited to come and celebrate this important occasion for the church. Worship will be at 9:30 a.m., fellowship at 11 and lunch 12 noon. A special invitation is extended to Chapel Hill Baptist Church, Kern Heights Baptist Church and Iglesia Bautiste Emmanuel. These churches were all started as missions of First Baptist Church.
Nearly $16,000 raised during Samaritan Fields fundraiser     7/06/2021
DE QUEEN – The first-ever “Field of Dreams” fundraiser netted more than $15,000 for the Samaritan Fields Soccer project on Collin Raye Drive in De Queen this 4th of July weekend.
A diverse group of Community members teamed up to celebrate the nation’s birthday with festival-style vibes, flavorful food, FIFA, bounce houses, and family-friendly fun Saturday night. Several efforts were made to raise money, including through food sales, auction items, and T-shirt sales, as well as donations collected from parking for De Queen’s “Let Freedom Ring” fireworks display.
Hundreds of area residents attended the event and contributed support for the developing facilities throughout the day, including representative Deann Vaught, along with several local business owners and community leaders.
The event also provided a Covid-19 shot booth and voter registration tent, adding nearly a dozen Arkansans to the state’s vaccinated list.
Project organizer Esteban Ochoa reported the total amount raised was $15,898.85.
Event organizers expressed their appreciation to all who attended and to everyone who has supported the Samaritan Fields initiative in De Queen.

Plans for future fundraisers are already in discussion as the “Field of Dreams” night is set to become an annual event for the Sevier County community.

Ongoing construction and maintenance are required for the project to become both sustainable and successful, and organizers say continual community support will be needed. Businesses or individuals interested in helping bring state-of-the-art community soccer fields to De Queen can call 870-584-9928 or email SamaritanFields@gmail.com.

Arkansas biologists warn of new invasive species, cogongrass, found in the state     7/06/2021

DIERKS – The Dierks Chamber of Commerce will present the 48th annual Pine Tree Festival this month.

The event is scheduled for July 30 and 31 at the Dierks City Park. Friday night, July 30, will feature mutton busting at 6 p.m., followed by the TMRA National mini-rodeo at eight. For more information on this event, call (870) 451-2304. Admission Friday night is $10 for adults, $7 for children and free for kids six and under.

Then on Saturday night, it’s the LJ Jenkins Bull Riding Tour at the Dierks City Park area, beginning at 8 p.m. There’s $10,000 in added money and the winner will receive an All Things Western buckle. Mutton busting starts at 6 p.m.

Admission Saturday night is $12 for adults, $7 for children and free for kids six and under.

Two lucky attendees will win $500 in cash and kids will have a chance to win a new bike Saturday night.

The Dierks Pine Tree Festival will also include carnival rides, bounce house, a sawdust scramble, archery shoot, ax throwing, arm wrestling and lumberjack competitions, starting at noon on Saturday. Don’t miss the Pine Tree Festival parade at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

The 48th annual Pine Tree Festival in Dierks in July 30-31.

Arkansas biologists warn of new invasive species, cogongrass, found in the state     7/06/2021

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is notifying the public that a new invasive grass species, Cogongrass, has been confirmed in Arkansas for the first time.

For several years botanists and land managers have been on the lookout for Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) in southern Arkansas. This aggressive species, native to Southeast Asia, has spread rapidly across the Deep South over the past few decades. Cogongrass is considered one of the worst invasive species in the world, causing both economic and ecological damages that impact forestry, agriculture, rangeland, and natural ecosystems.

The first patch of Cogongrass was detected in Helena-West Helena alongside Highway 49. The invasive plant population was sprayed with herbicide while no other nearby areas showed other Cogongrass populations.

Cogongrass has bright green leaves with serrated margins and a distinctive white vein that is slightly off-center from the middle of the leaf. It has no true, above-ground stem and the leaves emerge directly from stout, underground stems. Cogongrass spreads and can displace all other species on the ground. It is also one of the few warm season grasses that bloom immediately after coming out of winter dormancy. A fact sheet with more information and photos is available at http://southernforesthealth.net/plants/cogongrass/cogongrass-biology-and-management-in-the-southeastern-u.s.

Any sightings of Cogongrass in Arkansas should be reported to Paul Shell, the Arkansas Plant Inspection and Quarantine Program Manager, at paul.shell@agriculture.arkansas.gov or by calling 501-225-1598.

Arkansas State Police, DQPD remember Trooper Bryant and four DQPD officers 37 years after tragic incidents     7/02/2021

Arkansas State Trooper Louis Bryant was killed in the line of duty on June 30,1984. He was just 37-years-old. Trooper Louis Bryant was shot and killed during a traffic stop by a member of a white supremacist terrorist group. Four DQPD officers were killed on their way to Bryant’s funeral. Bryant’s death and the horrific accident en-route to his funeral marked one of the most tragic moments in Sevier County’s history.

Thirty-seven years ago from this past Wednesday, a horrific incident occurred near De Queen that then soon became one of the most tragic periods in Sevier County’s history.
The Arkansas State Police and local law enforcement agencies took time this past Wednesday to remember Trooper Louis Bryant, who was killed in the line of duty on June 30,1984. He was just 37-years-old. Trooper Louis Bryant was shot and killed during a traffic stop by a member of a white supremacist terrorist group. He was shot several times by the suspect at point blank range. The suspect was apprehended by police in Oklahoma after a shootout. He was sentenced to life without parole for Trooper Bryant’s murder but sentenced to death for another murder. The death sentence was carried out in 1995.

Trooper Bryant was survived by his wife, son, and daughter.

Four members of the De Queen Police Department were killed in an automobile accident while en route to Trooper Bryant’s funeral. The officers who were killed were Captain William Mills, Patrolman Herman Jones, Patrolman William Gilham, and Sergeant Roy Brewer. In a statement the Arkansas State Police said its thoughts were with their department on June 30 in remembrance of the death of Bryant and the four DQPD officers.

The Arkansas State Police wants every Arkansan to know that a hero remembered never dies.

Independence Day celebrations, fireworks displays across the area this weekend     7/02/2021

Area residents looking for a way to celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July weekend with a blast won’t have to look far with a number of fireworks shows scheduled across the area this weekend.

The Newhope Volunteer Fire Department will be hosting it’s annual July 4th Celebration this Saturday, July 3. The celebration will consist of a chicken dinner for $7. The meal will be served starting at 5:30 p.m. and take out plates will be available. Organizers will also have several auction items and door prizes throughout the night.

Local band High Voltage will be performing live.

There will be a drawing for two raffle items, a pellet/smoker grill and $500 cash. Tickets on sale now and you can purchase them at the celebration. There will be a concession stand, games, a train ride, and dunking booth.  Vendors are welcomed to contact the Fire Department for details about setting up. The night will conclude with a firework display at dark.

The City of De Queen’s annual July 4th fireworks celebration, Let Freedom Ring, is back on for 2021. And organizers say this year’s event is likely to be better than ever.

Although there will be no live music this year,a DJ will be onsite to play patriotic music throughout the event. Mayor Jeff Brown said spectators can expect a greater-than-ever fireworks show due to many fireworks leftover from last year’s cancelled event. Food will be available onsite as well as other activities.

The city’s Independence Day celebration will be held on Saturday, July 3 at the De Queen Sportsplex. The event will start that evening with the fireworks show to start at dark.

Ashdown will host its annual fireworks show on July 4 starting at 6 p.m. at Ashdown Junior High School. The event will include bounce houses, a gaming bus filled with big screen TVs and gaming consoles and other activities for kids at absolutely no cost. Shaved ice concessions will also be available on site. The fireworks show will kick off at 9 p.m.

The City of Lockesburg will host its annual Fireworks in the Park Independence Day celebration on Sunday, July 4. The event will begin at the IMCS Park in Lockesburg that afternoon. Festivities will kick off with a corn hole tournament at 3 p.m. Vendors are welcome and are asked to be set up by 3 p.m. A full concession stand will be open at the park. Marlon Sharp and Cowboys at the Cross will perform starting at 6 p.m. Organizers are also hosting a veterans recognition and all area veterans are invited to attend. Fireworks will kick off at dark.

Just across the state line into Oklahoma, an Independence Day celebration will be held at the Wright City Rodeo Grounds on July 3 with numerous events lined up including both adult and kid competitions. A fireworks show will be held later that evening.

The Hochatown Volunteer Fire Department will present a fireworks show beginning at dusk on July 4. Donations provided at the event will go towards new equipment for the department.

The Daisey Community will present an Independence Day Celebration on July 3. Events will kick off at 6 p.m. and continue through dark with fireworks on Lake Greeson presented by Big Boom Pyro.

The Wild Card Band will perform that evening starting at 6 p.m. The Fireworks show will commence at 9 p.m. and visitors are asked to bring their lawn chairs. Funds raised during the event will benefit the Daisey City Park. All donations will be accepted and appreciated.

A concession stand will also be onsite selling burgers and dogs.

For more information contact Lisa Cogburn at (870) 223-2892 or James Cogburn at (870) 828-1210.

Field of Dreams fundraiser this weekend in support of Samaritan Fields projects; numerous games, activities available as well as parking for “Let Freedom Ring” fireworks show     7/02/2021

DE QUEEN – Community residents are rallying support for an up-and-coming Sports facility in Sevier County this summer with the “Fields of Dreams” fundraiser set for Saturday, July 3 at 5 pm.

Lead by local business owner Esteban Ochoa and De Queen High School Assistant soccer coach Franklin Bahena, Samaritan fields is a multi-feature athletic facility and community project in its early phases. Located on Collin Raye Drive in De Queen, the fields will host soccer games and plans to feature benches, stands for spectators, a walking trail, and concessions are in the works.

For the process to continue growing, community support is needed for this grassroots effort and the public is invited out to celebrate the Independence Day Holiday with a fundraiser at the fields.

The Field of Dreams night will feature a live DJ, FIFA Tournament, obstacle course, voter registration booth, Iphone 12 Pro Max raffle, T-Shirts, Drinks, snacks and a free soccer ball giveaway for the 1st 100 cars to arrive. De Queen Health and Wellness will be on site providing COVID-19 Vaccinations and $5 will be donated to the fields for each shot administered. Folks interested in viewing the city’s fireworks show can park their vehicles for a donation and all proceeds will go towards construction and maintenance of the developing project. Local Hot Dog vendor “The Walking Dog” will be set up during the event and everyone is welcome.

A long-term goal for the project is to qualify as the host site for the 2026 Arkansas High school State Soccer tournament and pay homage to the 6-time state championship Leopard soccer team in their hometown. Organizers also believe the ability to host a state tournament will have a positive economic impact on the community as travelers will dine at local restaurants and buy from area convenience stores while visiting for the event.

Ochoa says the overall goal for Samaritan fields and the soccer community of De Queen “is to not have great soccer players, but to have great kids who happen to play soccer.”

The group has partnered with numerous sponsors and local businesses to make this goal reality.

For questions or more information contact Samaritanfields@gmail.com

AHS completes awesome project to digitize most Panther yearbooks since 1934     7/02/2021

ASHDOWN – Thanks to an amazing partnership that seemingly came out of no where, Panther alumni and anyone else interested can now go online to see nearly every Ashdown High School yearbook ever published.

It all started with a phone call to Ashdown High School Librarian Sandy Smith back in 2016 from the Oklahoma Correctional Industries (OCI) about scanning the Panther Eyes, Ashdown’s yearbooks. OCI is the commercial arm of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections that reaches out to school districts in the surrounding states to digitize high school yearbooks. After being contacted, Mrs. Smith began the process of collecting the earliest known yearbooks and mailing them to Oklahoma. She was able to gather books from the AHS Library, Two River’s Museum, and a few books borrowed from Ashdown High School Alumni.

As the digitized books were returned from OCI, Ronda Pounds, Public Relations Coordinator for the Ashdown School District began uploading them to the internet. There is a link on the district website (www.ashdownschools.org) under the Alumni tab. Now Ashdown alumni, family, and friends can quickly view the yearbooks online and enjoy reminiscing about their high school years.

Pounds said, “Having all the yearbooks online starting with the 1934 Panther Eyes gives so many the opportunity to browse through the books to the 2020 yearbook. You are able to see all the transformations over the years from student and staff fashions, automobiles, buildings, and grounds to many other things that have changed. We are so fortunate to have this resource so easily accessible for all!

There are, however no yearbooks for 1935, 1941, 1944, and 1945, some were not made during World War II according to alumni. If anyone has a copy of a missing book, please let Pounds know so these too can be scanned and added online. Call (903) 826-4434 for more information.

Art in the Park event in Horatio July 10     7/02/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Hometown Connections will present the first annual Art in the Park event this month. The art-and-crafts-themed event will take place Saturday, July 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Horatio City Park.

The event will feature local artists, craftsmen and food vendors. The event is free but those interested in attending are asked to RSVP on the Facebook event page.

That link can be reached by visiting Horatio Hometown Happenings or the following link: https://www.facebook.com/events/920976592069988/?active_tab=discussion

Sevier County Chamber reaches out to business owners for ideas for NEXT Group     7/02/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is reaching out to member businesses to inform them NEXT Camps will be in De Queen July 28 to spend several days helping out in the community.

In years past the group has helped mow, powerwash, paint and perform other community service projects. The chamber if asking businesses with ideas for projects or jobs the group could perform to reach out and let it know. Chamber officials will get those businesses and individuals in touch with NEXT Camp organizers.

Contact Sevier County Chamber Director Christy McCullough at (870) 584-3225 or by emailing dqchamber@gmail.com

Sevier County Baseball Association now taking pre-orders for state tournament t-shirts     7/02/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Youth Baseball Association is current taking preorders for state tournament t-shirts. Only a few extra will be available at the tournament so everyone interested in getting a shirt is asked to contact the association to place an order. Cost is $15 and an additional $2 for plus sizes. Sizes range from small to adult XL. Preorders must be completed by 11 a.m. on July 5. Call (870) 784-1716 to place orders. For more information, call that number of visit the Sevier County Youth Baseball Association on Facebook.

In addition, the Oklahoma Bandits, a travel baseball organization in Idabel, Oklahoma, is looking for two or three 10-and-under players for the fall 2021 season. Players and parents must be committed to being able to travel and the team-first atmosphere. The program believes in development, arm care, hard work and a philosophy to prepare kids to be their best at the age of 17 and 18. Participating kids cannot turn 11 before May 1 of 2022 and must be in the fourth grade for the 2021-2022 school year. For more information text or call Stone Scroggin at (580) 212-0168.

Geneva Missionary Baptist Church to host VBS     7/02/2021

GENEVA – Geneva Missionary Baptist Church will host a Vacation Bible School later this month.

The theme is Alpine Ascent, finding strength in God’s words, and will take place July 12-16. Sessions will take place from 5:30-8 p.m. each evening at the church on 188 Geneva Church Road. This Vacation Bible School is open for everyone ranging from preschool to adults. Register online at bit.ly/2021genevavbs.

Williamson Community Church to host VBS     7/02/2021

HORATIO – The Williamson Community Church will host a Vacation Bible School later this month, themed Rocky Railway.

The three-day VBS will be held July 15 and 16 from 6-8:30 p.m. both evenings and again on July 17 from 4-7 p.m. A family program will be held immediately after the July 17 Vacation Bible School starting at 7 p.m.

Programs are designed for all youth from pre-k to 12th grade.

Corps of Engineers remind Arkansas to play it safe on the water this Fourth of July Weekend     7/02/2021

DE QUEEN – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reminding everyone to practice good water safety habits over the upcoming Independence Day weekend. The reminder comes after a spring and summer season marred with several drowning deaths in Arkansas, including that of a 27-year-old former De Queen woman last month.

Water levels are high at many of the Little Rock District lakes and there is a small craft advisory in effect in some areas. High water can pose safety hazards such as underwater obstacles or floating debris, exercise caution if on the water this weekend.

Please remember to wear your life jacket, don’t drink alcoholic beverages and operate a boat, never swim alone and stick to designated swim areas. Following these safety tips can help make your family’s holiday a safe and enjoyable one.

Arkansas hunting licenses expired June 30     7/02/2021

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is remind all hunters that all annual hunting licenses expired yesterday, June 30.

Annual fishing licenses are valid for one year from the date of purchase, but all Arkansas hunting licenses expired at the end of June.

Licenses are available at many retail stores throughout the state and by phone, but renewing can be as simple as clicking a button on the AGFC’s website.

All hunting and fishing privileges become effective immediately. Supplying the AGFC with your email address during the license purchase process enables you to receive an email with a digital copy of your license to carry on your phone.

The AGFC app, available here for iPhones or here for Android, is another great resource to renew and carry your hunting and fishing license. It also includes current weather, hunting season information, fishing reports and updates from the AGFC.

Visit www.agfc.com and click the green button in the top right to renew your license today.

Arkansas officials warn of increased frequency of Social Security scams in state     7/02/2021

And now a weekly look at the spams and scams targeting Arkansans from across the state.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning Arkansans of the increased number of scam artists calling and claiming their Social Security numbers have been stolen or compromised. These scams normally start with the scammers calling and stating they work for the Social Security Administration. They will then claim a Social Security number has been canceled due to fraud or misuse. In response, Arkansans will often verify their information over the phone, but once the number is shared, the scam artist steals the victim’s identity and uses it for their own monetary gain.

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips for Arkansans who may be dealing with a government impostor:

Never give out or confirm sensitive information, such as bank account, credit card or social security numbers, to an unsolicited caller.

Be cautious of callers using organization names similar to existing agencies. Scammers use internet technology to spoof area codes, so although it may seem the call is from Washington, D.C., it could originate from anywhere in the world.

The Social Security Administration and other government agencies have warned about these scams and suggest contacting the agency directly.

The Social Security Administration can be contacted at (800) 772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.

To report this scam to the Social Security Administration, contact its Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

Sheriff’s Office, DQPD bring safe end to standoff situation in Lockesburg     6/30/2021
LOCKESBURG – The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the De Queen Police Department and other emergency responders were able to bring a swift and safe end to a standoff incident on Monday.

According to a report released by the sheriff’s office, Deputy Greg Davignon was dispatched to a residence on J. Fisk Lane in Lockesburg in reference to a suspect armed with a handgun and knocking on windows of the residence. A witness reported that the suspect was attempting to get into the locked residence and was threatening those inside, including an infant child. The witness identified the suspect as 29-year-old Christopher Green of Lockesburg. After running Green’s information Davignon determined Green was also wanted on a felony warrant in Arkansas.

Upon arriving deputies believed Green had made it inside the home and was hiding within. After no one answered the deputy’s knock, forced entry was used to gain entry to the residence. A woman was found inside and identified as Green’s girlfriend. She was taken outside while a search began for green inside the home.

Deputies said the girlfriend, identified as Marsha Bayron, was initially uncooperative and stated several times no one else was inside the home. She was later charged with hindering apprehension and obstructing government operations.

While searching the home authorities determined Green was hiding in the attic, although he reportedly did not respond after several attempts to communicate. Due to Green being possibly armed with a handgun, deputies determined it was not safe to go into the attic after him. Members of the De Queen Police Department were contacted and then arrived with tear gas to help flush Green from the attic.

Authorities reported that the tear gas quickly convinced Green to exit the attic and surrender to law enforcement without further incident. Members of Southwest EMS and the Lockesburg Fire Department then checked Green’s medical condition to ensure his safety. He was then decontaminated, provided cool water and oxygen and then transported to the Sevier County Jail. Green was charged with possession of firearms by certain persons and other charges could be pending upon the prosecutor’s review.

The sheriff’s office thanked the DQPD and other emergency responders for their assistance in bringing the standoff to a safe and quick end.

Horatio teacher pleads not guilty to internet stalking charge     6/30/2021

DE QUEEN – The second of two Horatio teachers have pled not guilty to allegations they attempted to organize a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl.

According to court records, 40-year-old Lori Marshall of Lockesburg entered a plea of not guilty in the Sevier County Circuit Court to the felony charge of attempted internet stalking of a child. A second defendant in the case, 32-year-old Ryan Smith of Lockesburg, entered a similar plea to a similar charge last week during a court appearance.

Attempted internet stalking of a child involves the pursuit of online communications with a child aged 15 or younger with intent to engage in sexual activity.

Both Marshall and Smith were both charged earlier this month. Prosecutors are alleging Smith and Marshall had discussed arranging a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl. The incident in question was allegedly committed between May 20, 2020 and June 30, 2020, according to court records.

Marshall is a first-grade teacher at Horatio Elementary School while Smith was a basketball coach who left the Horatio School District in 2016.

Both Smith and Marshall posted $50,000 bonds following their initial court appearances last week. Smith is being represented by the Bennett and Williams Law Office in Texarkana while Marshall is being represented by the Young Pickett law firm of Texarkana.

A jury trial has been scheduled for both Smith and Marshall on Nov. 11 in the Sevier County Circuit Court.

Smith is also facing 35 counts of possession of child pornography in Faulkner County. He was initially arrested on those charges in late May.

During a bond hearing for Smith in Faulkner County, investigators with the Conway Police Department said text messages uncovered on Smith’s phone suggested he and Marshall had discussed arranging a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl. That discovery led to the additional charges filed late last month against both Smith and Marshall in Sevier County, according to court records.

Investigators with the Conway Police Department said the initial investigation into Smith began after explicit photos of a child were found on his phone by a cellphone repair business. Authorities were contacted, leading to the investigation and Smith’s subsequent arrest. A search of the cellphone then reportedly uncovered the communications between Smith and Marshall. It is uncertain at this time if the alleged encounter ever took place.

Upon conviction a felony count of attempted internet stalking of a child can carry a sentence of three to 10 years in prison.

Sevier County 4-H’er raises over $1,800 during senior box fan drive     6/30/2021

Ethan Wolcot, Sevier County 4-H’er, donates money to the local Fan Drive. Pictured from left to right are Rex Herring, County Extension Agent-Staff Chair; Angie Walker; Ethan Wolcott; Kim Frachiseur, 4-H Program Assistant; and Janet Cantrell, County Extension Agent-FCS.

DE QUEEN – Thanks to an effort by local 4-H’ers, senior citizens in Sevier County struggling to keep cool this summer will get a little help.

Sevier County 4-H’er Ethan Wolcott recently announced that he would be holding a box fan drive to donate fans to senior citizens in need. The Be Cool, Stay Cool Fan Drive is a project that Wolcott took upon himself, with help from the Sevier County Extension Office. He teamed up with Dr. Randy Walker and Angie Walker to reach more of the community. Ethan Wolcott, who is just 17, was able to raise $905, including $200 donated by Hale Real Estate. Dr. Randy Walker has agreed to match the $905 that Ethan raised, equaling a total of $1,810 for the Fan Drive. In the end, they were able to purchase 94 fans for seniors in Sevier County.

Many know Ethan Wolcott from the can-recycling program he has held in the county for the past three years. Wolcott started the project to donate money to the 4-H POP-A TOP program, a program that helped 4-H families with medical bills. However, the program was ended due to the COVID pandemic last year. Wolcott made the decisionto keep the money locally. By teaming up with the Walkers, Wolcott was able to give those in need a way to stay cool this summer.

Ethan Wolcot, Sevier County 4-H’er, donates money to the local Fan Drive. Left to right: Rex Herring, County Extension Agent-Staff Chair; Angie Walker; Ethan Wolcott; Kim Frachiseur, 4-H Program Assistant; and Janet Cantrell, County Extension Agent-FCS.

State officials warn Arkansans to be cautious of COVID-19 as cases, deaths and hospitalizations rise     6/30/2021

State officials are asking Arkansans to be as mindful as ever of COVID-19 as they prepare to celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend.

During his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon, Hutchinson said the state has seen a consistent increase in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths over the past month. Given the gatherings many Arkansans will host and participate in this weekend, Hutchinson cautioned everyone to get the vaccine if they haven’t yet or follow mask and social distancing recommendations.

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Hutchinson said the virus’ delta variant has caused particular concern as it spreads rapidly across the United States. Originating in India, health experts warn this variant is more contagious and carries more debilitating health effects.

Dr. Cam Patterson, Chancellor of UAMS, said new cases of the virus, and the delta variant in particular, are trending higher among younger Arkansans and with more serious health complications.
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At this time nearly one million Arkansans, or around a third of the state’s population, have been fully immunized against the virus.

And finally, an update to the statewide COVID-19 figures on Tuesday as reported by the Arkansas Department of Health. Officials reported 479 new cases of COVID-19 across the Arkansas on Tuesday for a statewide cumulative total nearing 349,000. Active cases rose by a net total of 196 to 3,385 currently. Deaths increased by eight to 5,905 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations fell by eight, leaving 306 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Summer Reading Program continues in July at Lockesburg Library     6/30/2021

This July the Lockesburg Library will continue its Summer Reading Program sessions each Saturday at 10 a.m. Although there will be no program this Saturday, July 3, on July 10 there will be a Scales and Tales Program with Casey Hardaway bringing a special guest to the Library. July 17 at 10 a.m. come to the Lockesburg Library for Puppets at the Library. Lockesburg Librarian Wendy Clay is reminding young patrons to not forget about the prize incentive Fun Jar. Each book read earns a young patron a chance to place their names in the Fun Jar to be eligible to win a prize. For more information, call Wendy at (870) 289-2233.

Tony Soto becomes first Latino member of De Queen School Board     6/28/2021

Tony Soto, a graduate of De Queen High School and a 21-year veteran of the Arkansas National Guard, was sworn in as the newest member of the De Queen School Board earlier this month. Soto is the first Latino person to hold sit on the board. Of his four children three are currently attending De Queen Public Schools.

DE QUEEN – Tony Soto is a familiar face to many in the community, but perhaps not everyone is yet familiar with his latest venture – as the newest member of the De Queen School Board.

Soto, who graduated from De Queen High School in 1999, was officially sworn in to the De Queen School Board during the organization’s meeting earlier this month. A school board serves to be the liaison between parents and the school itself while also providing additional accountability to a school district’s financial and educational decisions. Soto was appointed to the seat previously held by Gloria Caldwell, who did not seek re-election.
As the board’s newest member, Soto hopes his personal experiences will help De Queen’s students first and foremost. For one, as the first Latino person to sit on the school board, Soto wants to help bring a voice to the Latino students and parents who make up most of the school’s community.
Soto is also wrapping up his 21st year in the Arkansas National Guard, a career which has included 18 years of active service and two combat deployments to Iraq. As a staff sergeant Soto believes the leadership skills he’s attained through the military will translate well into public service. And finally, at just 40-years-old, Soto hopes his youth will help him be a closer and stronger voice for the district’s students.
Through his time in the military and especially as a recruiter, Soto says he’s developed strong skills related to working and dealing with youth. Those skills work as well in the recruitment office as they do when advocating for kids, he explained.
Soto said he enjoyed his first meeting of the De Queen School Board earlier this month, though he admits he has a lot to learn. Fortunately, Soto explained, he has a lot of wisdom to draw from the other members of the board. He also admits he has a lot to learn about the school district and its policies but nonetheless knows his prime goal is the success of De Queen’s students.
And finally, Soto has a connection to De Queen outside of living here and graduating from De Queen High School – he has three kids attending De Queen Schools, the youngest in middle school. His fourth child, who also graduated from De Queen High School, is current serving in the military. Soto said he hopes his service on the school board won’t just be a roll model for his own children, but all kids attending De Queen Schools.
BOLO issued for Texarkana woman wanted on rape, burglary charges     6/28/2021
The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department is seeking help from people in the region in searching for a female suspect wanted on charges of rape and residential burglary.

A be on the lookout alert was issued Monday evening for 29-year-old Jonie Jane Woods. Her residence is listed as Texarkana, Arkansas. She is described as white with blue eyes and brown hair, about five feet tall and 120 lbs with several tattoos on her face and neck.
Texarkana Arkansas detectives say Woods is wanted for the felony charge of rape and residential burglary. Anyone with information as to her whereabouts is asked to contact the Texarkana Arkansas Criminal Investigation Division at (903) 798-3154 or, if you see her, to call 911 immediately.

Work continues on Leopard Stadium’s new Astroturf field     6/28/2021
Crews started the process of building up the natural and artificial foundation for the Astroturf field at De Queen’s Leopard Stadium late last month in hopes of having the field ready for use by the next school year. Crews are currently installing a shock pad underlay over which the artificial turf will be laid.

DE QUEEN – Work is progressing well on Leopard Stadium’s new Astroturf field.

Crews started the process of building up the natural and artificial foundation for the Astroturf field late last month in hopes of having the field ready for use by the next school year. Crews are currently installing a shock pad underlay over which the artificial turf will be laid.

The dream of installing artificial turf at Leopard Stadium was one that was years in the making and finally came to fruition earlier this year after the school board approved the project.

The De Queen School Board voted unanimously in April to incorporate an astroturf field at Leopard Stadium, which hosts the district’s football and soccer games as well as other sports and community-wide events. De Queen is one of only a handful of high schools in the state without an astroturf field.

The total cost of the field was estimated at $880,000. Administration and athletic officials spent the last five months building partnerships with the community to help raise donations for the new field. Thanks to that push, the district was able to collect $535,000 in private donations from businesses in De Queen. The vast majority of those donations came from private businesses in De Queen. At April’s meeting, the school board voted to put up the additional $345,000 needed to build the field.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders and Leopards Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir highlighted the multiple benefits of astroturf. Those include the well-documented safety aspects of astroturf, the lower maintenance requirements and the visual improvement it will bring to Leopard Stadium.

Chesshir said the astroturf field, coupled with other recent and ongoing improvements at Leopard Stadium, will provide benefits to the whole community.

The astroturf would have been a much greater challenge for the district without the tremendous community support, said De Queen Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton.

Sanders said some other individuals and businesses may be interested in supporting the new field – and they are greatly welcomed.

The astroturf field will include a field stabilizer as well as an additional concrete foundation that includes a 24-year warranty. Sanders added that the field is expected to be in use by the district beginning Aug. 1 of this year.

Keep those pets safe while enjoying fireworks this Fourth of July     6/28/2021
After more than a year of isolation and cancelled events, this July 4th could be one of the most celebrated in recent memory. While the food, fireworks, and festivities that represent Independence Day are fun for most Americans, the same can’t be said for our pets.

As people with dogs and cats at home can attest, the holiday can be traumatic for those four-legged family members. Pets–especially dogs–can have a phobic reaction to fireworks and other loud sights and sounds that can lead to extreme anxiety. Dogs have been known to dig under or jump over fences, break tethers, or even shatter windows in response to their fireworks fears.

Many pets panic and get loose, ending up injured or in shelters, so it’s best to prevent such potential situations in the first place.

Best Friends Animal Society is offering a few tips to help keep your pets as safe as possible during the holiday:

Bring all pets indoors whenever neighborhood fireworks displays are likely, making sure that any potentially harmful food or alcohol is kept out of reach.

Secure pets in a room, close the widows, draw the curtains, and play loud music or turn on the television to drown out the frightening sounds.

Keep pets away from lit fireworks at all times, including your own backyard, as some will chase after the bright moving objects and are at risk to be burned or blinded in the process.

Many fireworks also contain substances that are toxic if ingested, so be sure to keep unlit fireworks out of reach.

Ensure that pets are wearing current identification tags, and make sure your current contact info is recorded with the vet clinic or shelter that implanted the microchip.

Have a plan in place in case your pet does go missing that includes calling and visiting the local shelter and posting information about your missing pet on platforms such as Nextdoor and Facebook.

If you know your pets get severely anxious, pharmaceutical options are an option to help treat anxiety in pets. with your veterinarian.  Milder anxiety can be helped with supplements, such as those containing tryptophan.

And always ensure you have a pett first aid kits to help treat minor injuries such as scrapes or cuts at home. More serious situations such as puncture wounds, burns, broken bones, eye injuries, or heat stroke require consulting with a veterinarian immediately.  When in doubt, consult a veterinarian to decide if an exam is needed.

For more information, visit www.bestfriends.org.

Arkansas Rent Relief program continues to accept applications     6/28/2021A new rental assistance program that’s being provided by the Arkansas Department of Human Services is continuing to take applications from residents facing financial difficulties and possible eviction.

The Arkansas Rent Relief Program offers rental and utility aid assistance for both qualifying renters and landlords that were directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government awarded the state $173 million in aid to fund this program.

There are three main points of criteria for applicants:

The first is the loss of a job or significant source of income due to the pandemic.

The second is the inability to pay rent, along with overdue bills and/or an eviction notice.

The final criteria is that applicants would have to meet the income eligibility.

An applicant’s income has to fall at or below 80% of an area’s median income, which is tricky as it varies county to county.

Renters may be eligible for up to 15 months of rental assistance. This means the program can pay both overdue rent and future rent. For overdue rent, the program can pay up to 12 months back to April 1, 2020. When people apply for future rent, they can apply for up to three months at a time.

The money goes directly to landlords and utility companies.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services says the goal for the program is to ensure people that have a stable home, while assisting them to get back on their feet.

In a report from December 2020, the Arkansas DHS says that out of 403,000 rent-paying households, 19 percent weren’t caught up on payments.

Roughly a third of those renters weren’t confident that they’d have enough money to cover rent going in to the new year.

For more information, and to apply for the rental assistance program, visit www.ar.gov/rentrelief.

Numerous area fireworks show planned for Fourth of July weekend     6/28/2021
Area residents looking for a way to celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July weekend with a blast won’t have to look far with a number of fireworks shows scheduled across the area this weekend.
The Newhope Volunteer Fire Department will be hosting it’s annual July 4th Celebration this Saturday, July 3. The celebration will consist of a chicken dinner for $7. The meal will be served starting at 5:30 p.m. and take out plates will be available. Organizers will also have several auction items and door prizes throughout the night.
Local band High Voltage will be performing live.
There will be a drawing for two raffle items, a pellet/smoker grill and $500 cash. Tickets on sale now and you can purchase them at the celebration. There will be a concession stand, games, a train ride, and dunking booth.  Vendors are welcomed to contact the Fire Department for details about setting up. The night will conclude with a firework display at dark.
The City of De Queen’s annual July 4th fireworks celebration, Let Freedom Ring, is back on for 2021. And organizers say this year’s event is likely to be better than ever.
Although there will be no live music this year,a DJ will be onsite to play patriotic music throughout the event. Mayor Jeff Brown said spectators can expect a greater-than-ever fireworks show due to many fireworks leftover from last year’s cancelled event. Food will be available onsite as well as other activities.
The city’s Independence Day celebration will be held on Saturday, July 3 at the De Queen Sportsplex. The event will start that evening with the fireworks show to start at dark.
Ashdown will host its annual fireworks show on July 4 starting at 6 p.m. at Ashdown Junior High School. The event will include bounce houses, a gaming bus filled with big screen TVs and gaming consoles and other activities for kids at absolutely no cost. Shaved ice concessions will also be available on site. The fireworks show will kick off at 9 p.m.
The City of Lockesburg will host its annual Fireworks in the Park Independence Day celebration on Sunday, July 4. The event will begin at the IMCS Park in Lockesburg that afternoon. Festivities will kick off with a corn hole tournament at 3 p.m. Vendors are welcome and are asked to be set up by 3 p.m. A full concession stand will be open at the park. Marlon Sharp and Cowboys at the Cross will perform starting at 6 p.m. Organizers are also hosting a veterans recognition and all area veterans are invited to attend. Fireworks will kick off at dark.
Just across the state line into Oklahoma, an Independence Day celebration will be held at the Wright City Rodeo Grounds on July 3 with numerous events lined up including both adult and kid competitions. A fireworks show will be held later that evening.
The Hochatown Volunteer Fire Department will present a fireworks show beginning at dusk on July 4. Donations provided at the event will go towards new equipment for the department.
The Daisey Community will present an Independence Day Celebration on July 3. Events will kick off at 6 p.m. and continue through dark with fireworks on Lake Greeson presented by Big Boom Pyro.
The Wild Card Band will perform that evening starting at 6 p.m. The Fireworks show will commence at 9 p.m. and visitors are asked to bring their lawn chairs. Funds raised during the event will benefit the Daisey City Park. All donations will be accepted and appreciated.
A concession stand will also be onsite selling burgers and dogs.
For more information contact Lisa Cogburn at (870) 223-2892 or James Cogburn at (870) 828-1210.
Samaritan Fields first board meeting this evening; fundraiser scheduled for July 3     6/28/2021
DE QUEEN – Community residents are rallying support for an up-and-coming Sports facility in Sevier County this summer with the “Fields of Dreams” fundraiser set for Saturday, July 3 at 5 pm.
Lead by local business owner Esteban Ochoa and De Queen High School Assistant soccer coach Franklin Bahena, Samaritan fields is a multi-feature athletic facility and community project in its early phases. Located on Collin Raye Drive in De Queen, the fields will host soccer games and plans to feature benches, stands for spectators, a walking trail, and concessions are in the works.
For the process to continue growing, community support is needed for this grassroots effort and the public is invited out to celebrate the Independence Day Holiday with a fundraiser at the fields.

The Field of Dreams night will feature a live DJ, FIFA Tournament, obstacle course, voter registration booth, Iphone 12 Pro Max raffle, T-Shirts, Drinks, snacks and a free soccer ball giveaway for the 1st 100 cars to arrive. De Queen Health and Wellness will be on site providing COVID-19 Vaccinations and $5 will be donated to the fields for each shot administered. Folks interested in viewing the city’s fireworks show can park their vehicles for a donation and all proceeds will go towards construction and maintenance of the developing project. Local Hot Dog vendor “The Walking Dog” will be set up during the event and everyone is welcome.

A long-term goal for the project is to qualify as the host site for the 2026 Arkansas High school State Soccer tournament and pay homage to the 6-time state championship Leopard soccer team in their hometown. Organizers also believe the ability to host a state tournament will have a positive economic impact on the community as travelers will dine at local restaurants and buy from area convenience stores while visiting for the event.

Ochoa says the overall goal for Samaritan fields and the soccer community of De Queen “is to not have great soccer players, but to have great kids who happen to play soccer.”

The group has partnered with numerous sponsors and local businesses to make this goal reality.

A Non-Profit group has been launched for the Samaritan Fields project and all interested supporters are welcome to attend the first Board meeting at 7:00 pm Monday, June 28th at Samaritan Fields (1358 W Collin Raye) For questions contactSamaritanfields@gmail.com .

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in Arkansas     6/28/2021

There are currently 58,000 Arkansans who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It is estimated that 67,000 will be diagnosed by 2025.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, an opportunity to hold a conversation about the brain, and share the fact that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are a major public health issue.

In 2019, there were 1,507 deaths from Alzheimer’s in Arkansas. That’s a 250 percent increase since the year 2000. It is now the 6th leading cause of death in the state.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases.

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. Alzheimer’s disease is considered to be younger-onset Alzheimer’s if it affects a person under 65.

More than 6 million Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s.

The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated to total $355 billion in 2021.

In the most recent legislative session, the General Assembly addressed this health issue when it passed Act 391.

Act 391 creates the Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Advisory Council. The council will examine the needs of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, services available in the state for patients and their family caregivers, and the ability of healthcare providers and facilities to meet the current and future needs. The council will make findings and recommendations in an annual report known as the State Alzheimer’s Plan.

Growing evidence indicates that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits. When possible, combine these habits to achieve maximum benefit for the brain and body. These practices and other important information can be found on the website of the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org.

Operation Dry Water commences this weekend on Arkansas lakes, rivers     6/28/2021

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is asking that everyone enjoying a day on the water during the Independence Day weekend to do so responsibly and be aware of the dangers brought about by excessive drinking while aboard a boat. To help make the weekend safe, wildlife officers throughout Arkansas are gearing up for Operation Dry Water July 2-4.

Although wildlife officers patrol the state’s waters year-round, Operation Dry Water sees an increased presence of Arkansas law enforcement on lakes and rivers in the Natural State. The aim is enforce boating laws and ensure waters are enjoyed safely.

AGFC officials say boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs not only carries a stiff fine, it also is grounds for a person to lose their driver’s license just as though they were ticketed for driving under the influence.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Boating while intoxicated can be even more dangerous than driving a car while intoxicated, as most boaters have less experience operating a boat. Boats don’t have brakes, and slower responses to a sudden danger can be the difference between life and death. The sun, heat, wind and motion all intensify alcohol’s impact on a person.

The added impact of alcohol can be a danger to passengers as well as drivers. Although not illegal, passengers who consume too much alcohol can make poor judgments that can lead to injuries and death as well.

The AGFC said it receives calls every year asking if it’s OK to have alcohol on a boat at all. In most cases it’s fine to have an alcoholic beverage onboard, but people should pay attention to the county they are boating in.

Dry counties are still dry, even on the water, said Capt. Stephanie Weatherington, Boating Law Administrator for the AGFC. Sheriff’s departments can and will enforce those regulations just as if they were on land, she added.

Operation Dry Water was launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Smith enters not-guilty plea to attempted internet stalking charge in Sevier County     6/25/2021

DE QUEEN – A former Horatio basketball coach has entered a plea of not guilty to the charge he and another educator attempted to arrange an explicit encounter with a minor.
Ryan Jacob Smith, a 32-year-old resident of Conway, entered the plea in the Sevier County Circuit Court to the felony charge of attempted internet stalking of a child. Prosecutors are alleging Smith and another Horatio teacher, 40-year-old Lori Marshall, had discussed arranging a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl. The incident in question was allegedly committed between May 20-June 30, 2020, according to court records.
Smith, who left the Horatio School District in 2016, is also facing 35 counts of possession of child pornography in Faulkner County. Marshall, who is a first-grade teacher at Horatio Elementary School, is facing a felony charge of attempted internet stalking of a child in Sevier County but has not yet entered a plea.
Both Smith and Marshall posted $50,000 bonds following their initial court appearances last week. Smith is being represented by the Bennett and Williams Law Office in Texarkana.
Smith was first arrested by the Conway Police Department late last month. During an investigation into Smith, detectives with the Conway Police Department allegedly uncovered text messages on Smith’s phone suggesting he and Marshall had discussed arranging a sexual encounter with the 15-year-old girl. That discovery led to the additional charges filed earlier this month against both Smith and Marshall in Sevier County.
The Conway Police Department said the initial investigation into Smith began after explicit photos of a child were allegedly found on his phone by a cellphone repair business. Authorities were contacted, leading to the investigation and Smith’s subsequent arrest. A search of the cellphone then reportedly uncovered the communications between Smith and Marshall. It is uncertain at this time if the alleged encounter ever took place.
Upon conviction a felony count of attempted internet stalking of a child can carry a sentence of three to 10 years in prison.
Sevier County’s unemployment rate sees consistent decline in April     6/25/2021
DE QUEEN – Newly released data shows Sevier County’s unemployment rate continues to trend downwards, similar to the state and national averages as the economy continues to recover from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new data details Sevier County’s unemployment rate in April – the latest month for which data is available. The unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, the lowest since before the pandemic entered Arkansas last spring. That rate is above the state average of 4.4 percent but below the U.S. average of 5.8 percent.
Sevier County’s unemployment rate reached a high shortly after the pandemic entered Arkansas but has consistently fallen back to pre-pandemic levels since then.
Out of a work force of 5,546 people in Sevier County only 259 are currently recorded as unemployed. The county’s highest unemployment rate was recorded a decade ago, in January 2011 with 10.3 percent.
Of course, it’s important to note the rate does not reflect those who are under-employed – that is, they’re not receiving as much work as they would like. The figure does not include people who are currently unemployed but are no longer receiving benefits. The unemployment rate is not a perfect indicator of economic activity in an area but it does show that employment is likely flattening out to pre-pandemic levels among area residents.
Neighboring Little River County’s April unemployment data shows the county is recovering quickly with a current rate of 4.4 percent. That’s a sizable drop from the 5.9 percent recorded in February.
Howard County currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 2.9 percent.
State economic officials have touted the lower unemployment rates as a sign Arkansas’ economy is quickly rebounding from the economic consequences of COVID-19. However, the low unemployment rates have also created a tight labor market, causing worker shortages in many industries. State officials have suggested the end of extra unemployment benefits in Arkansas scheduled for this weekend will help drive more people from the unemployment system and into the workforce.
Stand Up For America celebration in Nashville this Saturday     6/25/2021
NASHVILLE – The Nashville Chamber of Commerce will present the 32nd annual Stand Up For America Celebration this weekend.
Gates open at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 26. Entry fee is just $5 and includes access to a ton of activities and entertainment throughout the celebration.
Events scheduled for this year’s event include an antique car show and youth softball tournament. A Cornhole tournament has also been organized. Live music will play throughout the day. Area veterans are invited to attend and participate in a Salute to Our Veterans recognition.

Join officials from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce as they celebrate the organization’s 100 year anniversary. Visitors will be treated to a patriotic show between 7:30 and 9:20 p.m. with a fireworks show to commence immediately after.

All events will take place at the Nashville City Park. Visit www.nashvillear.com or the Nashville Chamber of Commerce Facebook page for more information.

Daisy Community hosting Independence Day Celebration July 3     6/25/2021

DAISY – The Daisy Community will present an Independence Day Celebration on July 3. Events will kick off at 6 p.m. and continue through dark with fireworks on Lake Greeson presented by Big Boom Pyro.

The Wild Card Band will perform that evening starting at 6 p.m. The Fireworks show will commence at 9 p.m. and visitors are asked to bring their lawn chairs. Funds raised during the event will benefit the Daisy City Park. All donations will be accepted and appreciated.

A concession stand will also be onsite selling burgers and dogs.

For more information contact Lisa Cogburn at (870) 223-2892 or James Cogburn at (870) 828-1210.

Centerpoint VFD hosting ammunition raffle     6/25/2021

CENTERPOINT – The Center Point Volunteer Fire Department is selling raffle tickets for a treasure chest load of ammunition. Over 1,000 rounds of ammunition will be given to 1 lucky winner on July 4th. The ammunition includes many calibers such as 30-30, 7.62mm, 9mm, .45, .40, 7mm, .308, and much much more. Tickets are $10 each. Proceeds made from this event will go towards supporting the Center Point Volunteer Fire Department. If you are interested in getting a ticket in your hand give Chris Stone a call at 870-557-4744. The drawing will be held July 4.

This weekend’s Lions Club Youth Fishing Derby postponed to July 10     6/25/2021

High lake levels are forcing not just the postponement of the annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament, but also this weekend’s De Queen Lions Club youth fishing derby.

The always-popular youth fishing derby was set for this Saturday but organizers say it will now be postponed to July 10. This, organizers hope, will give enough time for lake levels to continue to drop to normal levels.

All area youth aged 15 and younger are invited to come out to the De Queen Lake Spillway on July 10 for this annual fishing derby. Registration will be held shortly before the event starting at 8:30 a.m. Fishing begins at 9 and continues to 11.

There is a limit of one fishing rod per youth and all youth must be accompanied by an adult. The first 100 contestants who register will receive a t-shirt. All Arkansas Game & Fish rules will apply. There is no cost or fishing license required for this event.

Arkansas Game & Fish will be providing catfish for the derby.

Pollinators critical to Arkansas, and there are ways you can help them     6/25/2021

They may be small, but pollinators play a huge role in our daily lives. If it weren’t for the bees, butterflies, bats and birds that tend to wild and agricultural plants, the food supply for humans as well as wildlife would simply stop. Many species of pollinators are seeing declines from changes in land use and certain pesticides.

In recognition of their contribution, it’s National Pollinator Week and Arkansas biologists are sharing ways you can help pollinators and reverse their decline.

There’s no denying the attractiveness of a perfectly manicured lawn of Bermuda or Zoysia with flower beds full of exotic flowers, but picture-perfect isn’t always ideal for the insects and other animals you share the land with. A little manicured space is fine, but there are many native species of plants and flowers that can create stunning displays of color just as well as those potted plants you find at the store.

Local animal species have adapted to use these plants much more readily than exotics when they are available. In many cases, such as with the Monarch butterfly and milkweeds, a particular species of animal relies on a particular type of native plant to complete its life cycle to create the next generation of pollinators. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has worked with the Arkansas Monarch Conservation Partnership to create a brochure on native plants gardeners and homeowners can use to boost the attractiveness of their yards and help pollinator populations throughout the state. Visit to get a free download of “Native Gardening for Arkansas Pollinators,” or call 501-223-6352 to request a free copy of the colorful “Native Gardening for Arkansas Pollinators” guide to native Arkansas plants.

Simply keeping an eye out for pollinating species and helping track their movements can play a huge role in conservation efforts, and it can be an activity the whole family can enjoy. The iNaturalist website has dozens of surveys for anyone to help in. The AGFC has a current project for monarch butterflies, and many other projects involve bees and other pollinating species. To report your sightings, visit the iNaturalist website and create a free account. Then navigate to the Arkansas Monarch Mapping Project page. Click on the red banner that says “add observations” and complete the information fields.

Some projects, such as those tracking bee species throughout the nation, don’t even require joining the project. Just take a picture with your phone, add the location and the administrators of the project will take it from there. With practically everyone toting a camera and GPS unit in their pocket, there’s a huge potential to get a better understanding of some species’ migration patterns and important areas to focus future conservation efforts.

Other projects in need of volunteers include the Arkansas native seed-collecting effort. You can find out more about this program at www.agfc.com.

If you have larger acreage that you want to manage for the benefit of wildlife, the AGFC has a crew of talented biologists you need to know about. Since nearly 90 percent of Arkansas is privately owned, the AGFC has a group of men and women who dedicate their time to working with landowners to plan and develop their land to benefit game and nongame species. The AGFC’s private lands biologists typically work with landowners to increase the habitat for deer, turkey, quail and many other game species; they’re also knowledgeable about many practices that can increase native forage for pollinating species as well.

Visit www.agfc.com/habitat for more information on programs offered and contact a private lands biologist near you.

Vand visit pollinators.org to learn more about how you can help pollinators and celebrate National Pollinator Week.

Samaritan Fields “Field of Dreams” fundraiser set for July 3     6/24/2021
Community residents are rallying support for an up-and-coming Sports facility in Sevier County this summer with the “Fields of Dreams” fundraiser set for Saturday, July 3 at 5 pm.

Lead by local business owner Esteban Ochoa and De Queen High School Assistant soccer coach Franklin Bahena, Samaritan fields is a multi-feature athletic facility and community project in its early phases. Located on Collin Raye Drive in De Queen, the fields will host soccer games and plans to feature benches, stands for spectators, a walking trail, and concessions are in the works.

For the process to continue growing, community support is needed for this grassroots effort and the public is invited out to celebrate the Independence Day Holiday with a fundraiser at the fields.

The Field of Dreams night will feature a live DJ, FIFA Tournament, obstacle course, voter registration booth, Iphone 12 Pro Max raffle, T-Shirts, Drinks, snacks and a free soccer ball giveaway for the 1st 100 cars to arrive. De Queen Health and Wellness will be on site providing COVID-19 Vaccinations and $5 will be donated to the fields for each shot administered. Folks interested in viewing the city’s fireworks show can park their vehicles for a donation and all proceeds will go towards construction and maintenance of the developing project. Local Hot Dog vendor “The Walking Dog” will be set up during the event and everyone is welcome.

A long-term goal for the project is to qualify as the host site for the 2026 Arkansas High school State Soccer tournament and pay homage to the 6-time state championship Leopard soccer team in their hometown. Organizers also believe the ability to host a state tournament will have a positive economic impact on the community as travelers will dine at local restaurants and buy from area convenience stores while visiting for the event.

Ochoa says the overall goal for Samaritan fields and the soccer community of De Queen “is to not have great soccer players, but to have great kids who happen to play soccer.”

The group has partnered with numerous sponsors and local businesses to make this goal reality.

A Non-Profit group has been launched for the Samaritan Fields project and all interested supporters are welcome to attend the first Board meeting at 7:00 pm Monday, June 28th at Samaritan Fields (1358 W Collin Raye) For questions contactSamaritanfields@gmail.com .

Numerous area events scheduled for July 4th weekend     6/24/2021

Looking for a great way to celebrate the nation’s birthday next weekend? Well you won’t have to look far with a number of events scheduled across the area for July 4th weekend.

The City of De Queen’s annual July 4th fireworks celebration, cancelled last year due to COVID-19, is back on for 2021. And organizers say this year’s event is likely to be better than ever.

Although there will be no live music this year,a DJ will be onsite to play patriotic music throughout the event. Mayor Jeff Brown said spectators can expect a greater-than-ever fireworks show due to many fireworks leftover from last year’s cancelled event. Food will be available onsite as well as other activities.

The city’s Independence Day celebration will be held on Saturday, July 3 at the De Queen Sportsplex. The event will start that evening with the fireworks show to start at dark.

Ashdown will host its annual fireworks show on July 4 starting at 6 p.m. at Ashdown Junior High School. The event will include bounce houses, a gaming bus filled with big screen TVs and gaming consoles and other activities for kids at absolutely no cost. Shaved ice concessions will also be available on site. The fireworks show will kick off at 9 p.m.

The City of Lockesburg will host its annual Fireworks in the Park Independence Day celebration on Sunday, July 4. The event will begin at the IMCS Park in Lockesburg that afternoon. Festivities will kick off with a corn hole tournament at 3 p.m. Vendors are welcome and are asked to be set up by 3 p.m. A full concession stand will be open at the park. Marlon Sharp and Cowboys at the Cross will perform starting at 6 p.m. Organizers are also hosting a veterans recognition and all area veterans are invited to attend. Fireworks will kick off at dark.

Just across the state line into Oklahoma, an Independence Day celebration will be held at the Wright City Rodeo Grounds on July 3 with numerous events lined up including both adult and kid competitions. A fireworks show will be held later that evening.

The Hochatown Volunteer Fire Department will present a fireworks show beginning at dusk on July 4. Donations provided at the event will go towards new equipment for the department.

Parents critical to preventing exploitation of children     6/24/2021

Oftentimes when Arkansans hear of sexual abuse of an individual viewing explicit images of a child, they are surprised that such behavior could happen in their own neighborhoods or homes. Many parents think something like this could never happen to their child because they monitor their child’s internet usage. Unfortunately, parents and family members could unknowingly be the ones giving pictures to cybercriminals.

State law enforcement officals released the following tips to all Arkansans to protect children from these online predators:

Think twice about posting pictures of children or young family members online, especially photos of children that show a lot of skin. The Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit is warning parents and loved ones that predators will sometimes harvest from social media sites and other online sources to find seemingly innocent photos taken by well-meaning parents of children in swimsuits, dance costumes, or even sports uniforms that are form-fitting or show skin for their own ill-intentioned plans, to trade, or sell for more explicit photographs.

Remember that status updates, photos and videos posted on social networks are permanent and once the user posts, it is out of their control, and you do not know where it will end up. Consider purchasing cell phone monitoring services from a phone provider to monitor children’s mobile devices.

Just as children are taught to use strong privacy settings, adults should use the strictest settings that are available to prevent unwanted individuals from seeing images of their children. For example, on Facebook, one of the available privacy settings requires explicit permission from the account holder before he or she can be tagged in a post or picture.

Monitor social media posts from friends to ensure photos are not posted of your loved ones that could be stolen by people with sinister motives and end up in the hands of a child predator. Many social media platforms allow users to submit complaints regarding problematic posts and to request deletion of posts.

Encourage children to tell an adult if there is ever a problem online. Photos, along with social media posts and texts are often used to break down young children’s inhibitions to make them more comfortable with the inappropriate behavior. Adults must remember, that if a child comes into contact with an online predator, it is not the child’s fault – the child is a victim.

Arkansans can report child exploitation by calling the National CyberTipline, (800) 843-5678, or visit CyberTipline.com, or in the event of an emergency, dial 911, or a local law enforcement agency. For more information to stay safe online and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

UAEX to host virtual seminar on sustainability in poultry industry     6/24/2021

Join researchers and industry personnel on July 15 as they provide an overview of current and future efforts to build sustainability into the nation’s poultry industry.

The virtual field trip begins at 10 a.m. Participants may register online athttps://uada.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_G_6Zs_IDQRqv1EoeWI_nQA.

The event is the latest in a series of educational events hosted by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The broiler industry was valued at $28.3 billion in 2019, according to USDA. Arkansas is the No. 2 broiler state in the United States, producing more than 7.42 billion pounds of chicken valued at $3.6 billion in 2019.

“The poultry industry is a major player in both the U.S. and Arkansas economies,” Rita Watson, extension virtual education program associate for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said. “With this event, we wanted to provide some insights into this key industry, as well as the sustainability efforts that are going on now, and the research that will enhance those efforts in the future.”

The agenda:

  • Overview of Poultry Sustainability — David Caldwell, head of poultry science for the Division of Agriculture and the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.
  • Tyson Foods corporate sustainability efforts and animal welfare – Jamie Burr, director-sustainability implementation, and Karen Christensen, senior director-animal welfare, Office of Animal Welfare.
  • Sustainable Efforts on the Farm — Karl Vandevender, extension engineer and professor, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

The series focuses on the conservation benefits our researchers have developed in water quality, irrigation water use, climate change, soil health, profitability and sustainability. Each event includes presentations from experts, a question-and-answer session and free 7E and GRC-3D lesson guides for Arkansas high school teachers.

To learn more about virtual education efforts in Arkansas agriculture, visit https://bit.ly/3vRiAxd.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/.

Operation Dry Water seeks to combat boating under the influence on Arkansas waterways     6/24/2021

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is asking that everyone enjoying a day on the water during the Independence Day weekend to do so responsibly and be aware of the dangers brought about by excessive drinking while aboard a boat. To help make the weekend safe, wildlife officers throughout Arkansas are gearing up for Operation Dry Water July 2-4.

Although wildlife officers patrol the state’s waters year-round, Operation Dry Water sees an increased presence of Arkansas law enforcement on lakes and rivers in the Natural State. The aim is enforce boating laws and ensure waters are enjoyed safely.

AGFC officials say boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs not only carries a stiff fine, it also is grounds for a person to lose their driver’s license just as though they were ticketed for driving under the influence.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Boating while intoxicated can be even more dangerous than driving a car while intoxicated, as most boaters have less experience operating a boat. Boats don’t have brakes, and slower responses to a sudden danger can be the difference between life and death. The sun, heat, wind and motion all intensify alcohol’s impact on a person.

The added impact of alcohol can be a danger to passengers as well as drivers. Although not illegal, passengers who consume too much alcohol can make poor judgments that can lead to injuries and death as well.

The AGFC said it receives calls every year asking if it’s OK to have alcohol on a boat at all. In most cases it’s fine to have an alcoholic beverage onboard, but people should pay attention to the county they are boating in.

Dry counties are still dry, even on the water, said Capt. Stephanie Weatherington, Boating Law Administrator for the AGFC. Sheriff’s departments can and will enforce those regulations just as if they were on land, she added.

Operation Dry Water was launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

EBB program continues to accept applications to assist with internet costs     6/24/2021

The Arkansas Department of Commerce is continuing to accept applications for a new program to increase broadband service for eligible households during the pandemic.

The temporary benefit named the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that will lower the code of broadband services.

The $3.2 billion EBB program provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households or qualifying Tribal lands.

The program also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider.

A household is eligible if one member of the household meets certain criteria. That includes an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program;

-Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;

-Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;

-Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or

– Or meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

For more information, including application information, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov

Two-vehicle accident claims life of Wickes man Tuesday afternoon    6/23/2021
WICKES – A two-vehicle accident claimed the life of a Wickes man in Polk County Tuesday afternoon, according to the Arkansas State Police.

According to the agency’s fatal crash report, 44-year-old Anthony J. Cole of Wickes was southbound on U.S. Highway 71 yesterday when his 2002 Chevy S-10 crossed the centerline and struck a 2019 Freightliner semi-truck, according to the investigating state trooper. The head-on accident occurred around 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

The S-10 carrying Cole came to a final rest on the west side of the highway facing east. Cole was pronounced dead at the scene by Polk County Coroner Brian Bowser.

The driver of the semi-truck, who was not identified in the report, was not injured.

Investigating state trooper Seth Smedley reported road conditions as clear and dry at the time of the accident.

Community leaders invite everyone to be part of 2024 Solar Eclipse planning process   6/23/2021

DE QUEEN – On April 8 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North America. The passage marks a significant opportunity for Arkansas and, more specifically, Sevier County.

Located along the centerline of the path of totality, several towns in Sevier County will have the longest duration of full totality in the state of Arkansas. National eclipse experts define totality as the moon being close enough to the earth in its orbit to cover the Sun’s visual surface as they pass.

For some, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it holds incredible tourism and business opportunities for the local community. “We would be doing Sevier County a disservice if we let this opportunity pass without doing something,” stated Christy McCullough, Executive Director of the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.

County leadership and an initial Eclipse Planning Team met recently to establish a few core ideas and action steps to plan an educational series and festivals and events leading up to the April 2024 eclipse.

The community is encouraged to educate themselves on future opportunities, follow the Sevier County-AR Eclipse Community Events page on Facebook and share this news and information with friends and visitors who might be interested in visiting our community for this historic event.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to invite and include visitors in our local community,” shared De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown. “We want to be creative and are beginning to plan for this to be a fun place for people as they experience the best place in Arkansas to view the Eclipse.”

Community members interested in helping plan events for the Eclipse or who want to learn more about what is coming are encouraged to visit www.visitsevierar.com/eclipse.

Lions Club Youth Fishing Derby postponed due to high lake level   6/23/2021

DE QUEEN – High lake levels are forcing not just the postponement of the annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament, but also this weekend’s De Queen Lions Club youth fishing derby.

The always-popular youth fishing derby was set for this Saturday but organizers say it will not be postponed to July 10. This, organizers hope, will give enough time for lake levels to continue to drop to normal levels.

All area youth aged 15 and younger are invited to come out to the De Queen Lake Spillway on July 10 for this annual fishing derby. Registration will be held shortly before the event starting at 8:30 a.m. Fishing begins at 9 and continues to 11.

There is a limit of one fishing rod per youth and all youth must be accompanied by an adult. The first 100 contestants who register will receive a t-shirt. All Arkansas Game & Fish rules will apply. There is no cost or fishing license required for this event.

Arkansas Game & Fish will be providing catfish for the derby.

Get a shot and help raise needed funds during Field of Dreams Fundraiser    6/23/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy are teaming up with Samaritan Fields next month to encourage area residents who have yet to receive their COVID-19 vaccine to go ahead and do so.

On July 3, the pharmacy will host a vaccine clinic starting at 5 p.m. at the Samaritan Fields Fields of Dreams fundraiser on July 3. For every vaccine given that day, the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy will donate $5 to Samaritan Fields. Samaritan Fields is a De Queen-based organization seeking to build a soccer field and sports venue and arena on Collin Raye Drive just west of the former De Queen Hospital campus.

Everyone aged 12 and up is eligible to receive a vaccine at this event. Those aged 12-17 will need to bring a guardian. Everyone is asked to bring a form of ID and their insurance card, if they hold health insurance.

For inquires call the local Arkansas Department of Health public health representative at (870) 584-9329.

Everyone is invited to come out and enjoy not just free COVID-19 vaccines but other events at the Field of Dreams fundraiser. Some of the events scheduled include a live DJ, a FIFA tournament, refreshments, obstacle course and more. The first 100 people who arrive will receive a free soccer ball. The event will begin at 5 p.m. at Samaritan Fields located on Collin Raye Drive in De Queen.

Installation begins for new playground equipment at Herman Dierks Park     6/23/2021

DE QUEEN – New playground equipment is making it to the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen this week, just in time for the summer months.

The De Queen City Council voted last year to budget $95,000 in 2021 for new equipment to replace aging structures at the park and provide new opportunities for area youth. Installation of the new equipment began this week. However, park officials are asking everyone to hold off enjoying the new structures until installation if complete, including the protective material that will need to be placed around and underneath the new equipment.

The new playground equipment comes in addition to a new splash pad designated for Herman Dierks Park. That project was made possible thanks to a $480,000 donation from Pilgrim’s through its hometown initiative.

The splash pad project has been put on a temporary hold, city officials said last week, due to the difficulty in acquiring some of the needed materials. That’s a problem facing nearly every construction project in the state. City officials said they continue to remain hopeful the new splash pad can be constructed this summer.

HWSP to present reading, signing of Declaration of Independence    6/23/2021

WASHINGTON – Historic Washington State Park is inviting everyone to come out and enjoy a historical celebration of the nation’s birthday with a special event July 4th weekend.

On Saturday, July 3, park staff will host a reading and signing of the Declaration of Independence, the document that in 1776 formally separated the original 13 colonies from Great Britian and establishing the United States.

Visitors will have a chance to hear the Declaration of Independence read as was commonly done in the 19th century at the 1874 Courthouse Visitor Center.

Afterwards participants will be able to sign their own “John Hancock” to a copy of the Declaration that they may then take home.

The reading has been split up into three separate sessions on July 3. Those include 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and again at 3:30 p.m. All three events will take place at the 1874 Courthouse. There is no cost to attend.

Historic Washington State Park is located on Highway 278 between Nashville and Hope. Call (870) 983-2684 for more information.

Arkansas Extension to host outreach effort for farmers concerning new livestock medicine rules    6/23/2021

The Cooperative Extension Service will lead education and outreach efforts over the next 18 months concerning new guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding the sale and use of antimicrobial drugs used in veterinarian applications.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Heidi Ward, extension veterinarian and assistant professor of animal science for the Division of Agriculture, said that under the new rules, livestock producers will no longer be able to make over-the-counter purchases from feed stores or other retailers.

“What this does is make all antibiotics come under medical supervision,” Ward said. “That means there has to be an established relationship with a veterinarian, and also that the drug has to be used to control or treat disease, and not as a preventative. That’s a big change.

“Producers won’t be able to go to the feed store and pick up antibiotics over the counter,” she said. “Now they have to have a prescription from a veterinarian.”

The new rules are set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

A complicating aspect of the new guidance is that while drugs governed by the veterinary feed directive are regulated by the FDA, prescription drugs are regulated by state pharmacy boards — thus, each state will shape how certain aspects of the new rules are enforced.

Ward said she anticipates several challenges for both producers and veterinarians with the roll-out of these new rules.

“For producers, the challenge will be in a more complicated supply chain, and an increased expense in treating animals,” Ward said. “For veterinarians, they may be overwhelmed. We have relatively few food animal veterinarians in Arkansas, and now they’re going to be in even higher demand. Additionally, it’s going to be a challenge simply keeping up with the inventory of these antibiotics, if they’re going to sell them themselves.”

Ward said she and other Division of Agriculture experts will soon begin including educational components relevant to the new FDA guidance in all relevant extension programs, including cattle conferences and sheep conferences.

“We’re also going to working as educational liaisons to the regulatory committees — the veterinary board, the pharmacy board, and the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission,” she said.

The new rules grew out of a 2014 federal initiative known as CARB, or “Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria,” which was designed to address the misuse of medically important antibiotics. “Medically important antibiotics” are those that are used in human medicine as well, Ward said.

That same year, the FDA asked pharmaceutical companies to change the labels of their antibiotic products used in livestock. These drugs were covered under the Veterinary Feed Directive.

“They wanted to address antibiotics in feed first, because anything that goes into the mouth of an animal, a lot of that product is excreted into the environment,” Ward said. “Beef feedlots were a big concern because they produce a lot of urine and feces that can get in the soil and groundwater.”

The new rules concern antimicrobial drugs only. Ward said the new rules would not affect other drugs used in food animal production.

“Medically important antibiotics in feedstuffs are covered by the Veterinary Feed Directive, which is similar to a prescription but not controlled by the state pharmacy board,” Ward said. The new rules changes are focused on injectable and topical antibiotics typically found at feed stores, such as injectable penicillin or oxytetracycline.

Body of former DQ resident recovered in Beaver Lake in NWAR    6/22/2021
BENTON COUNTY – Rescue crews recovered the body of a drowning victim at Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas last week. The victim was identified as 27-year-old Mayra Hilario, a former resident of De Queen and a 2012 graduation of De Queen High School.
According to authorities, Hilario disappeared in Beaver Lake on Sunday, June 13. Her body was recovered 48 hours later on Tuesday, June 15. Her body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab.
Information released by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office suggests Hilario fell off of a boat while on Beaver Lake. She was reportedly not wearing a life jacket at the time she fell off.
A massive search effort then commenced. The deep water and the size of the 200-acre lake delayed the recovery of Hilario’s body until Tuesday, authorities said.
Arvest Foundation donates $9k for new seating at Leopard Stadium    6/22/2021

Arvest Foundation donated $9,000 for new seating opportunities at Leopard Stadium during a check presentation Monday morning. Pictured from left to right are Patti Boone and Helga Buenrostro of Arvest Foundation, and De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders and Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton.

DE QUEEN – A donation by the Arvest Foundation will expand seating opportunities for De Queen fans at Leopard Stadium.
Patti Boone and Helga Buenrostro of the Arvest Foundation provided a check for $9,000 to De Queen School officials Monday morning. The donation will cover half of the projected cost to install new handicap-accessible stadium seating and picnic tables on the home side of Leopard Stadium.
Boone said this latest donation is part of Arvest’s continued commitment to supporting the community and especially local schools.
In an interview following the check presentation, De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders expressed the district’s gratitude to the Arvest Foundation. He added the new seating opportunities will add another level of improvement among the many other projects currently ongoing at Leopard Stadium. Those include new bleachers and a completely new, Astroturf field for the district’s soccer and football teams.
The district hopes to have the work completed and Leopard Stadium ready for use by the 2021-2022 school year.

Horatio Public Schools announce comment period for use of federal funds    6/22/2021
HORATIO – The Horatio School District is providing its stakeholders with the opportunity for public comment in regard to the allocation and use of the COVID-19 relief funds disbursed by the federal government’s American Rescue Plan (ARP).
The amount Horatio should receive is around $2.2 million. All activities supported with these funds must relate to preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19. Parents of Horatio students and members of the Horatio community are welcome to provide input by completing the short form available at the link provided here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeLiDsf8wZTOTSsjITZ3ePrjW4MhzUTswkkqnkkBKJU5vZ2PA/viewform

Albert Pike comment period open thru July 6; virtual open house Wednesday evening    6/22/2021
The USDA Forest Service is reminding area residents the environmental assessment for the Albert Pike Recreation Area is available for public comment.
The project examined which facilities and infrastructure will support the uses of the Albert Pike Recreation Area in the future. It also included reviewing what would be needed to maintain all recreation facilities to standard; ensure public health and safety; protect resource values; and provide visitors with a variety of participation opportunities, activities and services.
The environmental assessment is available online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58793 along with a copy of the legal notice and instructions on how to send in comments. The environmental assessment includes maps for each of the alternatives and describes their respective components. Documentation is also available for review at the District office in Mt. Ida.
The Albert Pike Recreation Area has been closed since June 10, 2010, when a devastating 500-year flood claimed the lives of 20 people camping in the park. After more than a decade closed and unmaintained, Albert Pike could again see use by the public depending on the comments provided during this new proposal.
Interested members of the public and groups have until July 6 to provide comments. All comments must be in writing and submitted through formal channels. State “Albert Pike Recreation Area” in the subject line when providing electronic comments, or on the envelope when replying by mail. For questions about the proposed action, alternatives, or the commenting process, contact District Natural Resources Manager at charity.j.ryles@usda.gov.
A virtual Open House is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow, June 23 on Microsoft Teams Live. The presentation will include information on the planning process, the project’s purpose, alternatives and how the public can be involved. A question and answer session will follow the presentation. A direct link to the open house presentation is available here: https://tinyurl.com/Albert-Pike-RA.
For more information on the Ouachita National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita.

Grants for youth fishing clubs in Arkansas now available    6/22/2021
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is offering up to $1,000 to youth fishing clubs for completing habitat projects in their home waters to help improve fishing opportunities on their home lakes.
Created in 2017 by the AGFC’s Black Bass Program, the Youth Tournament Fishing Organization Aquatic Habitat Program enables any fishing tournament organization affiliated with an Arkansas junior high, high school or college to apply for an award ranging from $500 to $1,000 for building and sinking brush piles or engaging in other habitat improvements in Arkansas lakes.
There’s no requirement on what the funds are spent on to help the team. It can be used for the habitat project, or the team can be resourceful and find free materials to use as habitat and keep the money to offset tournament expenses, pay for team jerseys or anything else that will help them grow.

Teams can reach out to organizers at the Black Bass Program or contact their local fisheries biologist to help brainstorm ways to collect materials.

In addition to creating possible tournament-winning hotspots, these habitat projects can help the fishery. With additional ambush cover, predator fish such as bass and crappie are able to catch their prey using less energy, which can translate into better growth rates in the long run. Additionally, the small spaces in complex brush piles can be shelter for many young-of-the-year fish and baitfish to keep the fishery’s future bright.

The idea of the program isn’t just to offer some funds to young anglers or create helpful habitat, but to show these young anglers how they fit into the big picture of conservation in The Natural State.

Funds from the award must be routed through a team’s account at its school, and school officials should be listed as the contact person for the grant proposal. Applications are available at the Black Bass Program’s web page.

Apply for a Youth Tournament Fishing Organization Habitat Project Grant.

Glenwood man killed in one vehicle accident in Montgomery County    6/21/2021
A single vehicle accident in Montgomery County claimed the life of a Glenwood man over the weekend, according to the Arkansas State Police.

A report filed by the investigating state troopers states 38-year-old Micah Graves of Glenwood was traveling westbound on State Highway 8 on June 19 when his 2000 Chevy Silvarado failed to negotiate a curve and left the roadway. State troopers reported the front of the truck struck the treeline, causing it to rollover and ejecting Graves from the vehicle.

A Montgomery County coroner pronounced Graves dead at the scene.

Road conditions at the time of the accident were listed as clear and dry.

Sheriff’s office charges man for graffiti vandalism in Gillham    6/21/2021

A Gillham man was arrested and charged with second degree criminal mischief for his alleged involvement in several instances of graffiti vandalism in Gillham.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into the paint tagging of several businesses and historic locations in Gillham, including the Wax Store, Gillham High School, Morris Peach stand and several bridges in the Gillham Community.

That investigation led to the arrest of Sebastian Sherrouse late last week. The sheriff’s office reported receiving information tying Sherrouse to the vandalism incidents.

The sheriff’s office expressed gratitude to members of the community who aided in the investigation and for providing information leading to the arrest.

Bridge on Robinson Road back open to traffic    6/21/2021

DE QUEEN – The bridge on Robinson Road is back open to traffic after replacement of the aging bridge completed last week. The replacement project began this year and was required due to the bridge failing a state inspection last year.

City officials announced Friday however that construction had completed and the road was again fully open to the public.

Sevier County Chamber presenting hospitality workshop this afternoon    6/21/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is inviting businesses engaged in the hospitality industry to a training workshop Monday afternoon.

The training session will take place June 21 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Adams Building on UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus.

Scott Suddeth, vice president of Tourism Development for North Little Rock, will be the guest speaker. The training is aimed at employers and employees of food truck businesses, restaurants and lodging.

There is no cost to attend.

For additional information contact Tiffany Maurer at tmaurer@cccua.edu or call (870) 584-4471.

Sevier County Cattlemen     6/21/2021

The Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association will host a meeting this evening starting at 7 p.m. in the Skilled Trades Building on UA Cossatot’s De Queen campus. Gary Pinkerton of Pinkerton Financial will speak at the meeting to share financial planning and insurance guidance.

The association is reminding everyone that its membership drive ends June 30. President Travis Kesterson said the group is just a few members short of its goal, which, if reached, will allow the Sevier County Cattlemen to receive bonus dollars to assist with more youth livestock projects and scholarships. Charles and Ginger Morris were the winner of a $500 Livestock Trailer Credit for their membership recruitment in April.

The June 21 meeting will include a beef meal and door prizes.

Finally, Kesterson reminds all area cattle producers of the importance of having their heifers vaccinated against brucellosis. For more information or for assistance contact Kesterson at (501) 590-5522.

Howard Memorial Hospital warning of scam calls targeting patients    6/21/2021

NASHVILLE – Howard Memorial Hospital is reporting several instances of patients receiving scam calls. Hospital Administration is urging its patients to not give out any personal information to anyone that you believe may not be legitimate.

Recent data gathered from surveys taken by Hiya, a Seattle-based company that provides caller-ID services, shows that 75 percent of Americans were targeted by scammers over a 12 month period. In 2020, Hiya estimates more than 50 billion spam calls were made to Americans with seven percent of Americans reporting having lost an average of $182.

If you have received any calls that you believe to have malicious intent you are encouraged to report it online to the Federal Trade Commission via their FTC complaint assistant, or by phone at 1-877-382-4357.

ADH advises Arkansans of tick, mosquito-borne diseases    6/21/2021

As Arkansans plan to enjoy the outdoors during the coming summer months, the Arkansas Department of Health stresses the importance of taking precautions against ticks and mosquitoes and the diseases they can carry.

Arkansas has some of the highest rates in the nation for tick-borne diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and Tularemia.

Anaplasmosis, Lyme disease, Heartland virus and other diseases may also be carried by ticks. Mosquitoes in Arkansas can carry West Nile Virus and other less common diseases. Arkansans traveling within or outside of the country should educate themselves on the specific concerns ticks or mosquitoes may pose on their trip. Mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika, Dengue, Malaria and Yellow Fever, are more common outside of the United States.

Some of these diseases can be fatal; some of them can also be difficult to diagnose and treat. If you or your child does get a tick bite, be on the lookout for symptoms such as fever, chills, rash, fatigue, and aches and pains within the next few weeks following the bite. If you do experience these symptoms, it is important to see a medical provider quickly. Make sure to discuss the tick bite, where you acquired the tick and symptoms with your doctor.

Whether in their own backyard or on a trip, Arkansans should protect themselves from these diseases by preventing tick and mosquito bites. Tick and mosquito bites can be prevented in similar ways:

Use an EPA-approved insect repellant as directed.

Use permethrin on your clothing as directed.

Wear long sleeves and pants. Light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks. Tuck your pants into socks or boots.

Check for ticks on yourself, your children, and your pets regularly. Remove ticks quickly if one is found.

To avoid ticks, walk in the middle of a hiking trail or path; avoid tall grass and leaf litter.

To reduce mosquitoes around your home, get rid of any standing water on your property. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a bottle cap full of water.

It is important to remove ticks correctly if found. Remove ticks by positioning tweezers as close to your skin as possible and lifting up on the tick firmly. Do not twist or jerk the tick or use home remedies such as petroleum jelly, heat, or waiting for the tick to fall off. These methods can increase the chance that a tick may transmit a disease. Just because a tick or mosquito bites you does not mean it carries a disease or that you will get a disease; many Arkansans are bitten by ticks every year and remain healthy.

The ADH wants our citizens to be tick aware so that if you are bitten, and do show signs of illness, you may receive appropriate treatment early on to prevent more severe outcomes.

You can learn more about insect-related diseases at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    6/21/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County saw a single increase since last week, raising to 12 currently confirmed active cases in the county. Total cases also saw a corresponding increase to 2,824. Deaths remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting 11 active cases of the virus. Cumulative cases number 1,267 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42.

Howard County is reporting just two active cases at this time. Total cases number 1,670, an increase of three over the weekend. Deaths remain at 25.

Active cases in Polk County currently number eight. Total cases rose slightly over the weekend to 2,026. Deaths did not increase last week and remain at 74.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 244 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Sunday for a cumulative total of over 345,000 transmissions. Active cases fell by a net total of 25 to 2,464 currently. No deaths were reported yesterday. Currently 261 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus, an sizable increase of nearly 50 from Friday.

Tri-Lakes Bass Tournament, set for tomorrow, postponed to July 17    6/18/2021
DE QUEEN – The 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival scheduled for this weekend has been rescheduled again.

Continually high lake levels are forcing organizers of the event to postpone this popular event again. All three hosting lakes remain way above normal elevation due to tremendous rainfall in May and the beginning of June. Many of the boat ramps used during the tournament remain underwater and debris is also a concern.

The bass tournament has already been postponed twice from its traditional spot on Memorial Day weekend. This time, organizers are giving the lakes plenty of time to get back to normal levels by setting the event back to Saturday, July 17. This will also allow time for debris to be cleared and overall make the event a safer one to participate in.

Although it’s been rescheduled, that also means there’s plenty of time to register for this year’s Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes, now on July 17. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. that day. Late registration is $50. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.

Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.

Over $14,000 in cash prizes will be awarded during the tournament, including $1,500 for catching the biggest bass.

Despite the postponement organizers remain hopeful this year’s tournament will still draw a big crowd. Especially after last year’s event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

For more information, contact Greg Ray at (870) 642-2425 or the Chamber of Commerce office at (870) 584-3225.

Grand reopening today for Salvation Army Store in De Queen    6/18/2021

DE QUEEN – The Salvation Army Family Store in De Queen is inviting everyone to its grand reopening this morning.

The store will host the ceremony today from 10 a.m. to noon. The store is located at 310 West De Queen Avenue in historic downtown De Queen.

Come by to see the store’s new layout and take advantage of great new pricing as well as other great deals and refreshments.

Join us, the Morning Brew Crew from Your Number One Country KDQN 92.1 FM as we host a live remote from 10 a.m. to noon. As always we’ll have our treasure chest available for a chance to win cash and prizes.

The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony during the grand reopening at 11 a.m.

De Queen’s Salvation Army Family Store plays a vital role in the community not just through the great deal on clothing and other items it offers, but also through the money the store raises. Nearly all money raised by purchases from the store is used to support local residents in need.

Grand opening for H&H Nutrition today in De Queen    6/18/2021

DE QUEEN – H&H Nutrition and the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce are also inviting everyone to come out todayto celebrate the grand opening of H&H Nutrition in De Queen.

The store will host the ceremony from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its location on 304 Collin Raye Drive in the Town North Plaza in De Queen, next to Factory Connection. The chamber of commerce will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 12 p.m.

There will be prizes for everyone and raffle drawings ever half hour. H&H Nutrition will also provide food and samples of some of its favorite menu items. H&H Nutrition is also reminding everyone of its new summer hours, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sevier County Chamber to host hospitality training workshop June 21    6/18/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is inviting businesses engaged in the hospitality industry to a training workshop Monday afternoon.

The training session will take place June 21 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Adams Building on UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus.

Scott Suddeth, vice president of Tourism Development for North Little Rock, will be the guest speaker. The training is aimed at employers and employees of food truck businesses, restaurants and lodging.

There is no cost to attend.

For additional information contact Tiffany Maurer at tmaurer@cccua.edu or call (870) 584-4471.

Alligator hunt permit period in Arkansas continues through June 30    6/18/2021

People interested in chasing an Arkansas alligator on public land and water this fall have until midnight June 30 to put their name in the hat. Applications for the 2021 Arkansas alligator season are available online at www.agfc.com.

Thirty-three permits will be issued for public hunting in Arkansas for the 2021 season. These permits will be randomly chosen via electronic draw. As with the rest of the AGFC’s permit application system, alligator hunt applicants must pay a $5 nonrefundable processing fee when the application is submitted.

No additional fee is required from successful applicants. Each permit authorizes the harvest of one alligator, which must be at least 4 feet long.

Alligator hunting is allowed 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise Sept. 17-20 and Sept. 24-27. Each permit holder may have up to three assistants with them on the hunt, but only the permit holder is allowed to snare, harpoon or dispatch the alligator. Alligator hunters must be at least 16 years of age, and only Arkansas residents may hunt alligators on public land in Arkansas.

Applicants with 18 or more AGFC violation points are ineligible to apply. Hunters pursuing alligators on private land no longer need to draw a tag. Instead, alligators on private land are hunted via a quota-based system.

Anyone who has access to private land in Alligator Zones 1, 2 or 3 may purchase a private land alligator tag in addition to their big-game hunting license and be able to hunt during alligator season until the quota is met for their zone.

“It will be up to each hunter to call in before their hunt every night to the wildlife hotline (1-800-440-1477) to see if the quota has been met,” Mark Barbee, AGFC wildlife biologist at the Monticello office, said. “If the quota is reached, the hunt ends early.”

Barbee says the quota system allows more people with possible nuisance alligator problems to have a chance to remove those alligators or allow another hunter to do so.

“We set the number of permits and quotas based on how many alligators we need removed to keep the population at a sustainable level that minimizes nuisance issues,” Barbee said. “But we do see quite a few private land tags go unfilled each year if the hunter doesn’t find a large enough alligator to meet their expectations. Now that extra harvest opportunity can be used by another hunter on different land.”

Successful applicants and private land hunters must also go through an online hunt orientation before going to the field. The orientation lays out the most important details and frequently asked questions about the hunt.

Visit www.agfc.com/alligator for more information on Arkansas’s 2021 alligator season and to apply for a public land permit.

HSU announces 2021 spring semester honor roll, Dean’s List    6/18/2021

ARKADELPHIA – Henderson State University has announced the students listed on the Dean’s List and Honor Roll for the Spring 2021 semester and a number of local students have made both lists.

To be named to the Dean’s List, a student must have achieved a 4.0 grade point average for the entire semester.  To make the Honor Roll, a student must have received at least a 3.5 grade point average for the semester.

Local students named to the Dean’s List include, from De Queen:

From Ashdown, Perry Smith and Alex Day.

Diana Camarillo, Diana Campos, Bretta McCain, Margaret Parker, Jacqueline Rodriguez, Addison Stewart, Brandie Tindell and Karen Villeda Perez.

From Dierks, Holly Cothren, Deirdre Dove, Taryn Lowrey and Charlotte Tipton.

From Foreman, Jessica Stephens.

From Grannis, Haley Polk.

From Kirby, Gunner Golden.

From Lockesburg, Leslie Coulter.

From Wickes, Monica Gonzalez and Jennifer Esquivel-Amador.

Local Students named to the Honor’s List include:

From Ashdown, Jasmine Richard.

From De Queen, Sophie Burke, Haylee Dinger, Drew Dykes, Kelsie Easlon, Jorge Gonzalez, Belen Guevara, Adrian Hernandez, Astrid Jasso Camarillo, Reana Roberson and Tristan Snider.

From Dierks, John Cothren.

From Grannis, Jade Richardson.

From Horatio, Ryan Vaught.

From Kirby, Zane Pedron.

From Lockesburg, Leslie Coulter and Jason Hargrove.

From Umpire, Scotti Musick.

And from Wickes, Manuel Esquivel-Amador.

Sevier County Quorum Court to meet June 21    6/18/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet Monday, June 21 to address a number of items of county business.

The meeting will start with an update from the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. Justices of the Peace will also continue a discussion from the previous meeting related to the request by the county clerk’s office to appropriate an additional full-time deputy clerk position.

In new business, the quorum court will vote on a request to confirm the reappointment of Teresa Brewer to the Sevier County Housing Authority board and Jimna Stinnett to the Hospital Board of Governors.

The quorum court will then hear a proposed resolution authorizing Sevier County Judge Greg Ray to accept a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to seal the taxiway and apron pavement joints at the Sevier County Airport.

A number of routine financial matters and appropriations are also scheduled for a vote.

Sevier sees slight uptick in active COVID-19 cases, Howard County falls to zero reported active cases    6/18/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County saw a slight increase this week, raising to a 11 currently confirmed active cases in the county. Total cases also saw a corresponding increase to 2,822. Deaths have not seen an increase in several months and remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River is also currently reporting 11 active cases of the virus. Cumulative cases number 1,267 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42.

Howard County is reporting no active cases at this time. Total cases number 1,667, an increase of just one over the past week. Deaths remain at 25.

Active cases in Polk County currently number nine. Total cases rose slightly last week to 2,022. Deaths did not increase last week and remain at 74.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 288 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Thursday for a cumulative total of nearly 345,000 transmissions. Active cases rose by a net total of 83 to 2,334 currently. Two deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,869 since last spring. Currently 219 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus, an increase of eight from the day before.

De Queen, Lockesburg announce 2021 Fourth of July fireworks shows    6/17/2021

SEVIER COUNTY – Area cities are gearing up to present their annual fireworks shows in celebrations of the nation’s Fourth of July holiday.

The City of De Queen’s annual July 4th fireworks celebration, cancelled last year due to COVID-19, is back on for 2021. And organizers say this year’s event is likely to be better than ever.

Although there will be no live music this year,a DJ will be onsite to play patriotic music throughout the event. Mayor Jeff Brown said spectators can expect a greater-than-ever fireworks show due to many fireworks leftover from last year’s cancelled event. Food will be available onsite as well as other activities.

The city’s Independence Day celebration will be held on Saturday, July 3 at the De Queen Sportsplex. The event will start that evening with the fireworks show to start at dark.

The City of Lockesburg will host its annual Fireworks in the Park Independence Day celebration on Sunday, July 4. The event will begin at the IMCS Park in Lockesburg that afternoon. Festivities will kick off with a corn hole tournament at 3 p.m. Vendors are welcome and are asked to be set up by 3 p.m. A full concession stand will be open at the park. Marlon Sharp and Cowboys at the Cross will perform starting at 6 p.m. Organizers are also hosting a veterans recognition and all area veterans are invited to attend. Fireworks will kick off at dark.

De Queen Salvation Army Family Store to host grand reopening tomorrow    6/17/2021

DE QUEEN – Tomorrow is going to be a big day for the Salvation Army Family Store in De Queen.

The store will host its grand reopening ceremony tomorrow, June 18, from 10 a.m. to noon. The store is located at 310 West De Queen Avenue in historic downtown De Queen.

Come by to see the store’s new layout and take advantage of great new pricing as well as other great deals and refreshments.

Just us, the Morning Brew Crew from Your Number One Country KDQN 92.1 FM as we host a live remote from 10 a.m. to noon. As always we’ll have our treasure chest available for a chance to win cash and prizes.

The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony during the grand reopening at 11 a.m.

De Queen’s Salvation Army Family Store plays a vital role in the community not just through the great deal on clothing and other items it offers, but also through the money the store raises. Nearly all money raised by purchases from the store is used to support local residents in need.

Horatio Lions host awards ceremony for baseball team    6/17/2021

Easton Leonard was awarded All-State for the Horatio Lions baseball team during a recent awards ceremony. He also received the Golden Ball and Superman awards.

DE QUEEN – The Horatio Lions Baseball program celebrated its achievements for the 2021 season with an awards ceremony this week.

Easton Leonard was awarded All-State while Grayson Porter was elected to the All-State Tournament Team.

All-State Honorable Mentions include Blake Pickett and Tucker Emerson. All-Conference players include: Blake Pickett, Tucker Emerson and Carson McKiever. All- Conference Honorable Mention include Landon Willis, Kase Davis, Grayson Wright, and Grayson Porter. Tucker. Emerson also broke the Horatio Baseball stolen base record set in 2014.

Team Awards presented include:

The Golden Ball Award to Easton Leonard

Silver Slugger for Tucker Emerson

SuperMan for both Kase Davis and Easton Leonard

RBI Leader – Blake Pickett

Stuck on Green – Tucker Emerson

Defensive MVP – Kase Davis

IronMan Award – Grayson Wright

Most Improved – Carson McKiever

Sevier County Chamber to host ribbon cutting Friday for H&H Nutrition    6/17/2021

DE QUEEN – H&H Nutrition and the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce are also inviting everyone to come out tomorrow, June 18 to celebrate the grand opening of H&H Nutrition in De Queen.

The store will host the ceremony from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its location on 304 Collin Raye Drive in the Town North Plaza in De Queen, next to Factory Connection. The chamber of commerce will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 12 p.m.

There will be prizes for everyone and raffle drawings ever half hour. H&H Nutrition will also provide food and samples of some of its favorite menu items. H&H Nutrition is also reminding everyone of its new summer hours, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Braylee Janes to represent HHS at National Juniors High School Finals Rodeo   6/17/2021

a big congratulations to Horatio High School student Braylee Janes who will be representing the Horatio School District and the State of Arkansas at the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo. This nationwide event will take place in Des Moines, Iowa later this month.
Braylee ended the 2020/2021 season as Reserve Rookie of the Year All Around Cowgirl.

Sevier County Cattlemen to host meeting June 21    6/17/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association will host a meeting on Monday, June 21 starting at 7 p.m. in the Skilled Trades Building on UA Cossatot’s De Queen campus. Gary Pinkerton of Pinkerton Financial will speak at the meeting to share financial planning and insurance guidance.

The association is reminding everyone that its membership drive ends June 30. President Travis Kesterson said the group is just a few members short of its goal, which, if reached, will allow the Sevier County Cattlemen to receive bonus dollars to assist with more youth livestock projects and scholarships. Charles and Ginger Morris were the winner of a $500 Livestock Trailer Credit for their membership recruitment in April.

The June 21 meeting will include a beef meal and door prizes.

Finally, Kesterson reminds all area cattle producers of the importance of having their heifers vaccinated against brucellosis. For more information or for assistance contact Kesterson at (501) 590-5522.

Today is last day of Horatio Basketball Skills Camp    6/17/2021

HORATIO – Athletic Officials with the Horatio School District are also reminding anyone interested that this evening is the last of the three-day Basketball Positionless Skills Camp. Registration starts at 4:30 p.m. with the camp to begin at 5 and continue through 7 this evening. The camp will offer basketball training for students in grades second through ninth at the Horatio Practice Gym. Cost is $25.

A number of giveaways will be held during the camp. For more information email ldorsey@horatioschools.org or visit the Horatio School District’s Facebook page.

Amerasian commodities giveaway this Saturday    6/17/2021

DE QUEEN – Amerasian Hometown Missions will host a commodities giveaway in De Queen this weekend. The group will be giving out food on Saturday, June 19th starting at 9 a.m. In order to get free food from the organization’s pantry you must be a resident of Sevier County.

Regulars will know this is a commodities giveaway those in need will not want to miss. Anyone new to the pantry is asked to bring proof of residence.

For questions or more information call (870) 279-4154.

Division of Ag to host invasive plant field day June 30    6/17/2021

Every now and again, the constant gardener is going to come across a plant that just doesn’t quite belong. Invasive plants, from Kudzu to Chinese Privet, are the bane of nearly every landscape, yard and garden in the Natural State — or at least, they’re giving it their best shot.

By some estimates, Chinese privet may make up as much as 3 percent of forest biomass in Arkansas. And in a state with more than 17 million forested acres, that’s no small-scale invasion.

A June 30 field day will help attendees learn to identify and efficiently remove invasive plants, including Chinese Privet and others. John Pennington, extension water quality educator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, and Vic Ford, Associate Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources for the Division of Agriculture, will co-host the field day.

Pennington said the idea came about by volunteers with Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists groups in Arkansas who were curious about which methods might work best in their efforts to remove invasive privet. The purpose of the demonstration is to evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of commonly used methods of invasive plant control.  The primary invasive plant of interest to control at this site is Chinese privet.

Various methods of control and removal that have been used at the research site include mechanical pulling and cut stump and paint with glyphosate, among other methods so far.

There is no cost to attend this demonstration. To register, contact Pennington by phone at 870-329-7009

or by email at jhpennington@uada.edu. You can also RSVP to the event on Facebook on the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Facebook Page. at https://www.facebook.com/events/169147858505008/.

State officials warn of scams targeting victims of flooding in Arkansas    6/17/2021

Arkansas was covered with over a foot of water in parts of the state earlier this month as dangerous levels of water poured into the Natural State. Governor Hutchinson declared a state of emergency and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning Arkansans to protect themselves from con artists looking to make a quick buck after the storms.

Attorney General Rutledge released a number of tips to ensure Arkansans hire a reputable contractor to complete home repairs:

Beware of door-to-door solicitors selling home-repair work. To find someone reputable, ask friends or family who have recently used a home-repair contractor or professional. Consider contacting the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.

Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide you with a written contract.

Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure you to obtain your business.

Obtain and check at least three references from your contractor or professional.

Check with the Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.

Obtain a written and detailed contract that includes the grade, quality, name brand and quantity of any materials to be used. The name and address of the contractor must be on the contract.

Avoid paying for the entire job up front. One-third paid in advance, one-third paid halfway through the job and one-third paid upon completion is a better plan, helping assure that your project will be completed. Never make the final payment until you have had an opportunity to inspect the work.

Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed.

Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.

A contractor cannot promise that your insurance company will cover the work done.  Verify your insurance coverage and authorized contractors before you agree to pay for repairs.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at consumer@arkansasag.gov or visitArkansasAG.gov.

Bond set at $50,000 for teachers accused of attempted internet stalking of a child    6/16/2021
DE QUEEN – Bond has been set for both a current and former teacher of the Horatio School District for charges related to allegations they attempted to orchestrate a sexual encounter with an underage minor.

During their first court appearance in Sevier County on Tuesday, Lori Marshall, 40, and 32-year-old Ryan Jacob Smith had each of their bonds set at $50,000. Both are facing felony counts of attempted internet stalking of a child. The incident in question was allegedly committed between May 20-June 30, 2020, according to court records.

Marshall is a first-grade teacher at Horatio Elementary School while James was a basketball coach who left the Horatio School District in 2016.

Attempted internet stalking of a child involves the pursuit of online communications with a child aged 15 or younger with intent to engage in sexual activity.

Smith, who now lives in Conway, was arrested late last month in Faulkner County on felony charges of possession of child pornography. He is facing a total of 35 charges after explicit images of children were allegedly found on electronic devices in his possession.

During a bond hearing for Smith in Faulkner County, investigators with the Conway Police Department said text messages uncovered on Smith’s phone suggested he and Marshall had discussed arranging a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl. That discovery led to the new charges filed late last week against both Smith and Marshall in Sevier County, according to court records.

Investigators with the Conway Police Department said the initial investigation into Smith began after explicit photos of a child were found on his phone by a cellphone repair business. Authorities were contacted, leading to the investigation and Smith’s subsequent arrest. A search of the cellphone then reportedly uncovered the communications between Smith and Marshall. It is uncertain at this time if the alleged encounter ever took place.

Upon conviction a felony count of attempted internet stalking of a child can carry a sentence of three to 10 years in prison.

Both Smith and Marshall posted bond yesterday after noon following their court appearance. Their next court date has been scheduled for June 24.

In a statement, Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said “The Horatio School District is aware a District employee was arrested by Sevier County Law Enforcement. The District has no knowledge of the matter but will fully cooperate with law enforcement authorities in order to assure the safety of Horatio School District students, which is our first priority in the education of children. As this matter involves District personnel and implicates privacy considerations under applicable law, the District will have no further comment at this time.”

Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival postponed again due to high lake levels    6/16/2021

DE QUEEN – The 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival scheduled for this weekend is… rescheduled again.

Continually high lake levels are forcing organizers of the event to postpone this popular event again. All three hosting lakes remain way above normal elevation due to tremendous rainfall in May and the beginning of June. Many of the boat ramps used during the tournament remain underwater and debris is also a concern.

The bass tournament has already been postponed twice from its traditional spot on Memorial Day weekend. This time, organizers are giving the lakes plenty of time to get back to normal levels by setting the event back to Saturday, July 17. This will also allow time for debris to be cleared and overall make the event a safer one to participate in.

Although it’s been rescheduled, that also means there’s plenty of time to register for this year’s Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes, now on July 17. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. that day. Late registration is $50. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.

Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.

Over $14,000 in cash prizes will be awarded during the tournament, including $1,500 for catching the biggest bass.

Despite the postponement organizers remain hopeful this year’s tournament will still draw a big crowd. Especially after last year’s event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

For more information, contact Greg Ray at (870) 642-2425 or the Chamber of Commerce office at (870) 584-3225.

City council discusses future plans for site of former Ennis Plumbing building, approves mid-year raises for city employees    6/16/2021

DE QUEEN – City officials announced plans last night to turn the site of a former century-old building into an attraction for downtown De Queen.

During the city council meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Jeff Brown detailed the city’s desire to construct a large pavilion and outdoor gathering spot on the site next to city hall. Until Friday, that location was occupied by a multi-story brick building built in 1905 and known to most as the former Ennis Plumbing building.

The building was purchased in 2018 under the administration of former Mayor Billy Ray McKelvy with the intention of using the building or site for future expansion. The city had long sought the property due to its proximity to De Queen City Hall, the De Queen Fire Department and the Multicultural Center.

Current Mayor Jeff Brown said the city had explored the possibility of repurposing the building but found the project would be incredibly expensive. Brown said the old building had serious foundation issues, large cracks in the wall and other issues that would be far too expensive to repair.

After debating the future of the building, the city council voted 5-1 last year to have the building taken down. City fire crews did just that Friday evening via a controlled burn.

Although the project has not been budgeted or officially planned, Brown said the council seems open to the idea of using the building as an outdoor attraction to revitalize and energize the downtown area. He said the site would be perfect for a large pavilion that could draw food vendors, live music and large crowds to the heart of downtown De Queen.

Brown added the city expects to have more official plans in place for the site next year.

In other business, and upon a motion introduced by Alderman Rick Pruitt, the city council voted unanimously to provide all city employees with a 75 cent raise effective immediately. Pruitt introduced the motion after considering the effort demonstrated by municipal employees to keep the city running efficiently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pruitt said, given the fact most if not all city employees were deemed essential during the pandemic, he felt it was important to express the city’s gratitude through a mid-year raise. Pruitt also raised the example of many area industries, who provided raises to their employees during the pandemic and are now offering increased wages in hopes of attracting new and highly-demanded employees.

The city council debated providing a mid-year bonus but ended up choosing the raise as it would provide a permanent boost to employees’ compensation.

During Tuesday night’s meeting the council also unanimously approved a request from De Queen Police Chief Scott Simmons to add a new investigator position to the police department. Simmons cited the increasing calls received by the police department, which rose from an average in 1998 of two thousand a year to more than 7,000 last year. He said the city’s police officers have met the challenge by agreeing to overtime when needed but said many are beginning to feel the stress of burnout from increased hours on the job.

The council’s decision to fund the new investigator position increases the size of the De Queen Police Department to 19 officers. Simmons said Michael Barnes will be promoted to the new investigator position – a position, Simmons added, Barnes has already filled in an unofficial capacity for several weeks.

In final business, Mayor Brown detailed the city’s annual July 4th fireworks celebration, cancelled last year due to COVID-19. Brown said there will be no live music this year but a DJ will be onsite to play patriotic music throughout the event. He said spectators can expect a greater-than-ever fireworks show due to many fireworks leftover from last year’s cancelled event.

The city’s Independence Day celebration will be held on Saturday, July 3 at the De Queen Sportsplex.

Next Sevier County Block Party scheduled for June 29 in Horatio    6/16/2021

HORATIO – In case you missed last week’s Block Party in De Queen, don’t worry: there’s more chances to attend this family-friendly, community-wide event this summer.

The Sevier County Block Party Committee announced it will host a number of events throughout the summer aimed at continuing to foster closer relations between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry founded the annual Block Party celebrations a number of years ago to help strengthen those relationships. The first event was so successful, said organizers, they decided to hold them annually.

The Block Party Committee held its first event last week in De Queen. The next event is scheduled for June 29 from 6-8 p.m. at the Horatio City Park on June 29.

The Gillham Fire Department will also host a block party on July 13 and then in Lockesburg on Aug. 3 at the Lockesburg City Park. The two final events are scheduled for Aug. 24 at the Ben Lomond Community Building and then again in De Queen on Sept. 14 at the Sportsplex.

The events will focus on providing a fun, family-oriented event. The Block Party will include a bounce house, free hot dogs, frozen treats and popcorn. The event will once again feature a Little Debbie eating contest for kids and adults. There will be numerous prizes given away including a bike as well as various gift cards and gift certificates.

For more information visit the Sevier County Block Party Committee on Facebook.

Fundraiser this Friday for Southwest Arkansas Crisis and Resource Center    6/16/2021

DE QUEEN – The Southwest Arkansas Crisis and Resource Center will host a chicken dinner fundraiser this Friday, June 18 from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The fundraiser will be held at the Town North Shopping Center in De Queen. Cost is $8 per plate and includes smoked chicken, potato salad, a roll and cookie.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to support the center’s assistance services in Sevier County and across Southwest Arkansas. For more information call (870) 584-3441.

Gov. Hutchinson details Medicaid expansion program, cybersecurity during Tuesday press conference    6/16/2021

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined the makeover of Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion program during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

The proposal, introduced by the Arkansas Legislature earlier this year, seeks to replace the current Medicaid expansion program, known as Arkansas Works. The new program, if approved, would be called Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me, or ARHOME (pronounced “our home.”) ARHOME would extend subsidized health insurance to the more than 310,000 low-income Arkansans currently enrolled in health plans through Arkansas Works.

Like many states, Arkansas chose to develop its own private option to provide health insurance to low income residents after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The private option developed into Arkansas Works and now, with approval of President Joe Biden, would next year transform into ARHOME.

Hutchinson said ARHOME’s biggest change would be the focus it puts on improving Arkansas’ health outcomes, as opposed to solely treating them. As part of that effort ARHOME would put pressure on health insurance companies to offer preventative healthcare and incentives for wellness plans while also offering goals towards improving health in rural areas.
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Contrary to Arkansas Works, ARHOME does not include the work requirements which proved extremely contentious. Instead, the new proposal seeks to replace those requirements with work and educational training.

In other statewide news, Hutchinson announced the formation of a cybersecurity advisory council made up of various state officials. He said the council is a response to the Colonial pipeline cyberattack as well as a more recent attack targeting JBS Foods. That particular attack shut down most of the companies operations across the state, including the poultry processing facility in De Queen.
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Finally, state officials provided an update on Arkansas’ COVID-19 figures. Just over 300 new cases were reported on Tuesday for a statewide total of over 344,000 transmissions since the COVID-19 pandemic began in spring, 2020. Active cases saw a net increase of 109 to 2,144 currently reported. Deaths increased by six over the same period to total 5,869. Currently 204 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

At this time over two million COVID-19 vaccines have been given in the state with nearly one million Arkansans now fully vaccinated.

Arvest funds 8,000 meals for De Queen Chalice Cupboard through Million Meals Campaign    6/15/2021
DE QUEEN – Arvest Bank raised an amazing 8,000 meals for local families in Sevier County this past spring through its annual Million Meals campaign.

Arvest Bank launched the Million Meals initiative two months ago to help fight hunger in the four-state region. This week the bank announced that, with the help of customers and community members, it has exceeded the campaign goal by raising more than 1.6 million meals.

Launched in 2011, Arvest’s Million Meals campaigns have raised an 11-year total of nearly 19 million meals. These include more than $3.3 million in funds given directly to the bank’s dozens of local food partners.

This year’s campaign total of 1.6 million meals was made possible through donations from the bank, Arvest associates, customers and community members between April 5 and May 29. The success of the campaign is especially meaningful, organizers said, as summer approaches because many children will be without the meals they ordinarily receive at school.

Mark Bigham, manager of Arvest’s De Queen branch, said this year’s campaign beat expectations and was only possible through the effort of Arvest’s customers, community members and associates.
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In De Queen, Arvest partnered with the Chalice Cupboard for the campaign, raising enough local donations to provide the center with 8,000 total meals. All money raised through this campaign directly benefited the 90-plus organizations feeding local communities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Ennis Building taken down due to safety concerns    6/15/2021

The multi-story, century-old brick building on the corner of Second Street and De Queen Avenue – known to nearly everyone as the former Ennis Plumbing building – was destroyed via controlled burn Friday night. Mayor Jeff Brown said the city had explored the possibility of repurposing the building but found the project would be incredibly expensive. Brown said the old building had serious foundation issues, large cracks in the wall and other issues that would be far too expensive to repair.

DE QUEEN – A long-time fixture of De Queen is no longer around after it was dismantled last week due to safety issues, according to city officials.

The multi-story, century-old brick building on the corner of Second Street and De Queen Avenue – known to nearly everyone as the former Ennis Plumbing building – was destroyed via controlled burn Friday night.

The city acquired the building in 2018 under Mayor Billy Ray McKelvy’s administration. The city had long sought the property due to its proximity to De Queen City Hall, the De Queen Fire Department and the Multicultural Center.

Current Mayor Jeff Brown said the city had explored the possibility of repurposing the building but found the project would be incredibly expensive. Brown said the old building had serious foundation issues, large cracks in the wall and other issues that would be far too expensive to repair.

After debating the future of the building, the city council voted 5-1 last year to have the building taken down. City fire crews did just that Friday evening.

Brown said the city has some plans for the property next year but nothing official or approved at this time.

Next Sevier County Block Party scheduled for June 29    6/15/2021

DE QUEEN – In case you missed last week’s Block Party in De Queen, don’t worry: there’s more chances to attend this family-friendly, community-wide event this summer.

The Sevier County Block Party Committee announced it will host a number of events throughout the summer aimed at continuing to foster closer relations between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry founded the annual Block Party celebrations a number of years ago to help strengthen those relationships. The first event was so successful, said organizers, they decided to hold them annually.

The Block Party Committee held its first event last week in De Queen. The next event is scheduled for June 29 from 6-8 p.m. at the Horatio City Park on June 29.

The Gillham Fire Department will also host a block party on July 13 and then in Lockesburg on Aug. 3 at the Lockesburg City Park. The two final events are scheduled for Aug. 24 at the Ben Lomond Community Building and then again in De Queen on Sept. 14 at the Sportsplex.

The events will focus on providing a fun, family-oriented event. The Block Party will include a bounce house, free hot dogs, frozen treats and popcorn. The event will once again feature a Little Debbie eating contest for kids and adults. There will be numerous prizes given away including a bike as well as various gift cards and gift certificates.

For more information visit the Sevier County Block Party Committee on Facebook.

July 1 is deadline for Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship    6/15/2021

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery (ASL) is reminding students in the state that July 1 is the deadline to apply for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship.

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery provides tuition assistance to traditional and non-traditional students attending universities and two-year colleges – both public and private – in the state. Since its inception in 2009, the Arkansas lottery has helped raise more than $1 billion in scholarship proceeds and awarded more than 650,000 Academic Challenge Scholarships to students.

Traditional students must score at least 19 on the ACT to qualify for the scholarship. The latest ACT score accepted by the Arkansas Division of Higher Education will be from the June testing. Students who have yet to achieve a score of 19 make take the Accuplacer test as a substitute.

Freshman students at four-year colleges receive $1,000 from the scholarship. Second- and third-year students receive $4,000, and senior-level students are awarded $5,000 per year.

At two-year colleges, first-year students receive $1,000 annually, while second-year students are awarded $3,000. To maintain eligibility, students must keep a 2.5 grade point average.

For more information and to apply, students may visit scholarships.adhe.edu.

Arkansas employment website launches Wednesday    6/15/2021

In an effort to boost Arkansas’ workforce, the state is launching a free service for people looking for a job.

Arkansas Ready For Life is a new website meant to be a one-stop-shop for employment in the state. The site goes live on Wednesday and Arkansans will have access to more than a thousand job openings in the state and nine thousand courses teaching essential career skills.

State officials say many industries are struggling to find and keep employees. The Arkansas Ready for Life website seeks to connect Arkansans with employers in the state.

The Ready for Life system will be working with schools, doing student success planning starting in eighth grade. And it is partnering with agencies like the Department of Corrections and businesses in several industries.

The courses and resume-building resources will be free to everyone.
Update: Horatio teacher arrested, charged with internet stalking of a child; similar charge filed against former Horatio educator arrested in May    6/14/2021

Lori Marshall, a 40-year-old resident of Lockesburg and a teacher with the Horatio School District, was arrested Thursday evening on one count of attempted internet stalking of a child. According to records filed in the Sevier County Circuit Court, the alleged incident occurred between May-June of 2020.

HORATIO – A teacher with the Horatio School District as well as a former educator have both been charged with attempted stalking of a minor over the internet, according to records filed Thursday in the Sevier County Circuit Court.
Lori Marshall, 40, is facing one felony count of attempted internet stalking of a child. The incident in question was allegedly committed between May 20, 2020 and June 30, 2020, according to court records. Marshall is a first grade teacher at Horatio elementary School.

Attempted internet stalking of a child involves the pursuit of online communications with a child aged 15 or younger with intent to engage in sexual activity.

Ryan Jacob Smith, a 32-year-old resident of Conway and a former employee of the Horatio School District, is facing a similar charge in the Sevier County Circuit Court. Smith, who left the Horatio School District in 2016, was arrested late last month on felony charges of possession of child pornography. Court records show the internet stalking charge filed Thursday against Smith occurred during the same period (May-June 2020) as the incident for which Marshall has been charged. Authorities have not official stated whether the two charges are related.

Ryan Jacob Smith, a 32-year-old resident of Conway and a former employee of the Horatio School District, is facing a similar charge in the Sevier County Circuit Court. Smith, who left the Horatio School District in 2016, was arrested late last month on felony charges of possession of child pornography. Court records show the internet stalking charge filed Thursday against Smith occurred during the same period as the incident for which Marshall has been charged.

The news website RiverValleyNow.com is reporting that, during a bond hearing for Smith, investigators with the Conway Police Department alleged text messages uncovered on Smith’s phone suggested he and Marshall had discussed arranging a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl. That discovery led to the additional charges filed Thursday against Smith and Marshall, according to the Conway Police Department.

According to court records, the investigation into Smith began after explicit photos of a minor were found on his phone by a cellphone repair business. Authorities were contacted, leading to the investigation and Smith’s subsequent arrest. A search of the cellphone then reportedly uncovered the communications between Smith and Marshall. It is uncertain at this time if the alleged encounter ever took place.

Upon conviction, a felony count of attempted internet stalking of a child can carry a sentence of three to 10 years in prison.

In a statement, Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said “The Horatio School District is aware a District employee was arrested by Sevier County Law Enforcement.  The District has no knowledge of the matter but will fully cooperate with law enforcement authorities in order to assure the safety of Horatio School District students, which is our first priority in the education of children.  As this matter involves District personnel and implicates privacy considerations under applicable law, the District will have no further comment at this time.”

Two killed in motor vehicle accident in Howard County on Thursday   6/14/2021

HOWARD COUNTY – Two people were killed following a multiple vehicle accident in Howard County Thursday morning.

According to the Arkansas State Police, a 2012 Cadillac driven by 45-year-old Jamal Staves of Nashville was traveling south on U.S. Highway 278 on June 10 when it crossed the center line and struck a 2015 Chevrolet head on in the opposite lane. The Chevy was driven by Patrick Byrne, a 68-year-old resident of Dierks. The accident occurred around 10:50 Thursday morning.

Staves was pronounced dead at the scene. Byrne was transported to the Howard County Memorial Hospital. He succumbed to injuries from the accident and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

An unnamed minor in Staves vehicle was also injured in the accident and transported to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

Investigating state trooper Joshua Broughton reported weather conditions as dry and the road as clear at the time of the accident.

UA Cossatot will offer free tuition to Pilgrim’s employees, dependents starting this fall   6/14/2021

Submitted by Dustin Roberts of UA Cossatot

UA Cossatot has announced a new partnership with Pilgrim’s to provide additional free educational opportunities for both current and future students.

In May, Dr. Steve Cole, Chancellor of UA Cossatot, signed an agreement with Pilgrim’s in De Queen to be part of the local Better Futures program. Through this local program, any Pilgrim’s Pride employee and their dependents may attend UA Cossatot tuition-free for any field of study they choose.

According to Chancellor Cole, this agreement marks “a tremendous day for education in the region as this will open doors for hundreds, if not thousands, of Pilgrim’s Pride employees and their family members. UA Cossatot is proud to partner with Pilgrim’s Pride on this endeavor as it will be a game changer for many families and the local economy as a whole.”

The Better Futures program will begin in the fall 2021 semester. UA Cossatot officials said they will be working with Pilgrim’s to establish a seamless recruitment and enrollment process.

More information on the Better Futures program can be found at www.betterfutures.jbssa.com/

Ashdown High School recognizes 2021 Arkansas Girls and Boys State participants  6/14/2021

Caylee Turner

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School was well represented at Arkansas Girls State and Arkansas Boys State. Caylee Turner attended Girls State which was held virtually for all three days (May 30-June 1) in 2021 and Landon Wright and Ben Adkison also attended a virtual edition of Arkansas Boys State May 30- June 4.

The American Legion Auxiliary Girls State is an educational program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary that provides for young women who have finished their junior year in high school, training in the fundamental aspects of citizenship and government. They believe that educating youth about the basic ideas and principles of government will help ensure the survival of our democracy. ALA Arkansas Girls State is a unique

Ben Adkinson

and exciting government-in-action learning program in which Auxiliary members guide young women to become knowledgeable stewards of freedom, democracy, and patriotic citizens. The program started in 1937 and is one of the most respected and coveted experiential learning programs presented in the United States, according to their website. Caylee was elected Lieutenant Governor of Price City Nationalists.

According to the Boys State website, Boys State is an immersive program designed for high school juniors. Boys State seeks nominations of the “best and brightest male students entering their senior year; mature leaders in the classroom, on the field, and throughout the community who are ready to shape the future of our state.”  “We had every hope of reconvening in-person for our 2021 program, but with so many uncertainties about COVID-19 yet facing our communities, this was the right decision to ensure that our prestigious program occurs in 2021,” Dr. Lloyd Jackson, executive director of Arkansas Boys State, said. “We are hopeful to be in-person for our 2022 program and to invite our alumni to visit us during that week.”
The week-long program has been in existence for over 80 years. During the week of Arkansas Boys State, delegates are assigned a political party, city, and county. Throughout the week, delegates, from the ground up, administer this mock government as if it were real; they run for office, draft and pass legislation, solve municipal challenges, and engage constituents. By the week’s end, the delegates have experienced civic responsibility and engagement firsthand while making life-long memories and friends – all with our guiding principle that “Democracy Depends on Me.”
 
Landon Wright

According to Ben Adkison, “Boy’s State was a good experience to learn more about government and the process of elections.”

 
AHS Senior Landon Wright said, Boys State was an amazing experience! Learning how the government works was a truly eye-opening experience. Due to Covid, we were unable to attend in person, yet they still had a very interactive and interesting course. I’ve met some lifelong friends during my time at Boys State. One of the best things was that I was able to express my views and have intelligent conversations with many who didn’t agree. During my time at Boys State I ran for three offices and succeeded in winning all three (City Councilman, County Party Secretary, and District Senator). I recommend and encourage anyone who has an interest in Boys State to pursue this path, it is completely worth it.”

Sevier County on track to become Work Ready Community through ACT program   6/14/2021

Submitted by Tiffany Maurer, Sevier County Economic Development Director

Sevier County economic development officials announced this week they’ve engaged in the process to have Sevier County become a certified ACT Work Ready Community.

This process demonstrates the county’s commitment to developing a strong workforce pipeline, desirable to employers, economic developers, and current and future citizens of the county. According to officials, the ACT® Work Ready Communities (ACT® WRC) initiative empowers states, regions, and counties with data, processes, and tools that drive economic growth by identifying skills gaps and quantifying the skill level of the local workforce. Counties can then leverage this designation to measure and close skills gaps within the local workforce and build common frameworks that link workforce development efforts.

To begin the Work Ready Communities process, Sevier County leaders attended the ACT Work Ready Communities Boot Camp, an executive leadership and training program designed and led by ACT to begin efforts to improve the county’s work readiness. Leaders meet with local employers, policymakers, educators, and economic developers to reach established goals and build a sustainable WRC model to fit local needs.

“Work Ready Communities have an advantage in economic development in terms of workforce readiness, site selection, and business attraction efforts. Pursuing this initiative is evidence of Sevier County’s ability to address workforce needs,” said Tiffany Maurer, Director of Economic Development for Sevier County.

ACT Regional Manager, Cheri Tune, says this is a big achievement for Sevier County and puts it on a growing list of counties dedicated to building a robust workforce. She added this designation will provide the county with an economic development advantage, helping it stand out nationally for their workforce development efforts.

For more information on this initiative, go to www.workreadycommunities.org and view all of ACT’s workforce solutions at www.act.org/workforce

Workforce development program seeking local youth applicants   6/14/2021

DE QUEEN – The Southwest Arkansas Planning District is reaching out to at-risk or troubled youth in the area with a new workforce development program.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program is aimed at youth between the ages of 16-24. The program is specifically seeking young applicants who may have a disability, are parenting, dropped out of school, homeless or a runaway, or who are subject to any stage of the criminal justice process.

The program seeks to provide participants with workforce development skills to help them find success in the job market. The effort is a partnership between the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District, the Arkansas Workforce Center and the American Job Center Network.

For more information on the program and all the opportunities it can offer, call (870) 234-4030.

County gearing up for tourist increase ahead of 2024 total solar eclipse    6/11/2021

Nowhere in Arkansas will the 2024 total solar eclipse be more total and for a longer period of time than in Gillham. Eclipse2024.org, a website dedicated to the event, lists Gillham as the location in Arkansas with the greatest length of totality at four minutes, 18.7 seconds. The entire path of totality will only be around 50 miles wide. Outside of that swath the eclipse will be only partially visible.

DE QUEEN – Local economic development officials and community organizers are gearing up to make Sevier County the prime place in Arkansas to see the 2024 total solar eclipse.

Scientific predictions show Gillham is going to be one of the best places in the country to view the 2024 total solar eclipse, which will occur on the afternoon of April 8, 2024.

The predicted path of the solar eclipse shows Gillham exactly in the line of totality – meaning the sun will be entirely eclipsed by the moon, turning day into night. Nowhere in the region will the eclipse be more total and for a longer period of time than in Gillham. Eclipse2024.org, a website dedicated to the event, lists Gillham as the location in Arkansas with the greatest length of totality at four minutes, 18.7 seconds. The entire path of totality will only be around 50 miles wide. Outside of that swath the eclipse will be only partially visible.

Of course, other communities in the path will be able to view the solar eclipse as it occurs. But, given the rarity of these events, every second counts. And with Gillham, De Queen and surrounding communities leading the state for the time of totality, visitors far and wide are likely to descend on the community in hopes of catching every moment of the eclipse.

Keisha McKinney, a local business owner and tourism coordinator for Sevier County, spoke with us earlier this week and said this is an opportunity Sevier County cannot miss.

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McKinney said a planning group has already formed through a partnership between the chamber of commerce, community organizers and officials with the various cities in Sevier County. She said the group hopes to make the most of the 2024 eclipse by planning everything from educational sessions on the eclipse itself while advertising what Sevier County has to offer in terms of viewing this rare celestial event.

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McKinney said the group’s current focus includes two goals: highlighting the fact that Sevier County will be the best place to see the eclipse in Arkansas, and perhaps the region, while also getting as many people in the community involved as possible.

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The simple fact is, the 2024 total solar eclipse is likely to be the last one many of us will get to see. The last total solar eclipse to occur in the United States was in 2017. Prior to this event, no solar eclipse had been visible across the entirety of the United States since 1918. The 2017 eclipse was the first in the era of social media and modern communications and saw correspondingly huge interest. Millions of people traveled across the country to catch a glimpse.

According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s population was doubled, maybe tripled by travelers from the U.S. and across the globe – all seeking to catch as much of the total solar eclipse as they could.

Besides the lengthy path it will take across the United States, the 2024 solar eclipse is likely to be a popular one for another reason: it’ll be the last one to touch North America until 2033. The only state that sees totality then will be Alaska, and the weather prospects for March in the Arctic will make this one a true challenge to view. After that, the eclipse will occur in 2044 and again in 2045. In other words, the 2024 solar eclipse won’t be one to miss.

Fortunately, everyone’s going to have plenty time to prepare for the 2024 eclipse. Starting scheduling those vacation days and lining up your favorite place to watch the sky.

And until then, you can learn nearly everything you need to know about this cosmological event – from the proper eye protection to simulated views of the eclipse for each impacted city – at www.eclipse2024.org.

And for more information on Sevier County’s role in the 2024 total solar eclipse, and how you can be involved, visit www.visitsevierar.com/eclipse

This weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Arkansas   6/11/2021

Starting today at 12 noon and continuing through Sunday, June 13 at midnight is the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission’s annual Free Fishing Weekend.

Residents and nonresidents may fish this weekend without a fishing license or trout permits. This applies to the entire state of Arkansas. So if you’ve been considering a new hobby this is the weekend to try your luck in many of Arkansas fish filled waters.

Fishing regulations still apply such as daily, slot, and length limits. If you decide hitting the water is for you you can purchase a Resident Fish License for $10.50 and a Trout permit for $10.

So dust off the tacklebox and re-spool the reel in preparation for this weekend of fun in the sun.

Dalton Janes Memorial Skeet Shoot this weekend   6/11/2021

BROKEN BOW, Okla. – The annual Dalton Janes Memorial Skeet Shoot has been rescheduled to this Saturday, June 12. The yearly memorial competition is designed to help raise money for scholarships for local students.

The event will take place at 1961 Gardenia Road in Broken Bow and signs will be in place to help those arriving.

The memorial skeet shoot is open to everyone with several divisions, including adults and children. There will be a trophy for the highest shooter in all three categories.

Organizers say everyone is welcome to come by, compete in the skeet shoot and enjoy some free food and fellowship while remembering Dalton Janes and raising scholarships for local students. Numerous prizes will also be given away.

The event will kick off at 10 a.m. this Saturday and continue until the last shooter competes.

This weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Arkansas   6/11/2021

With just over 7,000 wild turkeys checked in Arkansas this spring, it’s no secret that hunting was a challenge for many in The Natural State. Some however couldn’t play by the rules, resulting in an alarming trend noticed by wildlife officers whose business is catching those who cut corners and prevent honest hunters from seeing increased turkey harvest numbers.

“Business was good this spring,” said Col. Brad Young, chief of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Enforcement Division, said.

AGFC officers issued citations for 152 major wildlife violations during this year’s 21-day hunting season. They also assisted Nebraska and Kansas by uncovering 16 violations that occurred in those states during investigations in Arkansas.

Hunting turkeys over bait was the top violation officers found this year, with an alarming 72 cases being made in three weeks.

Young says most wildlife officers take particular pride in catching turkey poachers, as the species is seeing a decline in many states across the Southeast. That includes here in Sevier County, where their declining numbers have become increasingly evident. Young says every turkey poached is one that is being stolen from honest hunters and those trying to help turkeys rebound.

Hunting in a closed season was the second most frequent violation AGFC wildlife officers found with 19 cases being made.

Young mentions that changes to Arkansas’s turkey season structure this year may have contributed to the increase in poaching, but those changes were made to try and help the state’s turkey population and violating them is only hindering the future of the sport.

As an avid turkey hunter himself, Young said the hunt is not supposed to be easy. But not following the regulations isn’t just shooting yourself in the foot for next year, it’s taking opportunities from others to enjoy the sport.

Study shows Sevier, Little River Counties have among the most affordable housing in Arkansas and across the U.S.    6/10/2021

A report from the National Association of Realtors suggests Sevier and Little River Counties are among the more affordable places to buy a home in Arkansas.
The report lists Sevier County as the 27th most affordable location to buy a home in Arkansas with a median home value in 2020 of just over $88,000. That’s significantly less than the average home price in the United States, which increased in April 2020 to over $347,000. Sevier County is ranked 408 out of more than 3,100 counties nationwide in affordable housing costs. According to the report, monthly mortgage payments in 2020 averaged $327 in Sevier County, a slight drop from the year before.
Little River County is even higher on the list of lowest home prices, ranking 20th in the state or 255th out of 3,100 counties nationwide. The median mortgage payment in 2020 was $302, also slightly less than the year before.
JBS CEO says company paid ransom to bring facilities back online    6/10/2021

JBS USA announced Wednesday evening it paid $11 million in ransom to a cyberattack group which temporary shutdown operations at many of the company’s facilities following an attack Memorial Day Weekend.

Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA, said the decision was a very difficult one for the company to make but was made necessary to prevent any potential risk to its customers.

JBS’s payment was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The cyberattack targeted IT systems at JBS’s facilities in North America and Australia. U.S. officials have pointed out REvil, a criminal organization based in Russia or Eastern Europe, as behind the attack.

The attack forced JBS to shut down most of its operations in Australia and the United States. Affected plants included the poultry processing facility in De Queen, which closed last Tuesday alongside many of the company’s other facilities. Operations resumed the following day.

“Preliminary investigation results confirm that no company, customer or employee data was compromised,” JBS said in the statement.

Aubrey Seymour receives prestigious Arkansas Fair scholarship    6/10/2021

Aubrey Seymour

Each year the Sevier County Fair Association accepts scholarship applications to be sent to and judged by the Arkansas Fair Managers Association. Each county is allowed one scholarship application.

The selection is based on the student’s degree of involvement in county, district and state fairs; their leadership skills and community involvement; and their school activities and academics.

The Arkansas Fair Managers Association awards nine scholarships to Arkansas Seniors every year. Sevier County Fair Manager, Linda Frachiseur was notified by the Arkansas Fair Managers Association that Aubrey Seymour was the winner of the $1,200 Steve Skelton Endowed Scholarship.

Organizers say this is a great honor for a Sevier County resident to win this scholarship because Steve Skelton was a resident of Sevier County himself. He served several years on the Sevier County Fair Board as well as the Arkansas Fair Managers. This was the top scholarship awarded by the Arkansas Fair Managers Association for 2021.

Aubrey is the 17-year-old daughter of Debbie Seymour and Justin Seymour. She is a Senior at De Queen High School. She has represented Sevier County in the County, District, State and 4-States Fairs for several years. She was also the 2019-2020 Sevier County Fair Princess and went on to compete at the state level.

Aubrey has competed in District competition for fair princess also. She is an active member of the Lakeside 4-H, a 4-H Teen Star, State Ambassador, and is currently serving as the Southwest Arkansas 4-H Vice President. She is also active in De Queen FFA where she served s the 2020-21 FFA President.

Aubrey plans to attend Harding University in the fall.

Incoming college students warned to be cautious over student loans    6/10/2021

Arkansas college students are in the early stages of preparing for the school year in August and some are applying for student loans. It is important to always read the fine print and be cautious of scammers trying to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. There are some key items that every student should know before agreeing to a loan that often takes decades to repay.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and state law enforcement agencies are providing a few tips for students considering taking out a student loan:

First off, make sure you understand your loan. Before taking out a loan, make sure you understand the repayment terms and other obligations of the loan, interest rates and how they will be applied to the loan, and where to find your balance and payment schedule after you graduate. For federal loans, visit the National Student Loan Data System (nslds.ed.gov).

Take advantage of the grace period. Oftentimes, there is a grace period after you graduate or stop attending a college or university. It is important to know how long the grace period is and whether interest will be charged during the grace period. Grace periods allow you to get your “feet on the ground” while making a plan to repay the loan.

Know your re-payment options. Every loan is different and some offer the chance to change payment options based on your income rather than a set monthly amount. In some cases, if you are going through a financial hardship, there is the ability to temporarily defer payments.

Be wary of loan consolidation and refinance offers. Many companies offer loan refinance options, but may not provide the promised service or might provide services that consumers can access for no cost. Consumers should learn all details about any loan refinance offer before enrolling in one.

Check your credit report to see all of your education debts, including federal and private student loans.

Consider part-time work, work-study, and all scholarships available to limit student debt to as little as possible.

For more information, the Arkansas Student Loan Authority can be contacted here or at 800-443-6030 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

DQPD seeking assistance in investigation into recent graffiti vandalism    6/09/2021
DE QUEEN – The De Queen Police Department is seeking the community’s help in locating who might be behind a number of recent graffiti vandalism incidents in the city.

The police department shared a number of photos on its Facebook page of fences and businesses in De Queen recently vandalized with graffiti tags. The tags are related to the signs used by the Southside Diablos 13, a California-based gang associated with the Mexican Mafia. However, the graffiti tags are no evidence of actual gang activity and, as is common in cases of crudely drawn graffiti like that in De Queen recently, usually just vandalism by kids.

Anyone with information on the graffiti is asked to contact the De Queen Police Department by calling (870) 642-2213.

Albert Pike Recreation Area comment period open to gauge interest in future public use    6/09/2021

LANGLEY – The USDA Forest Service announced this week the environmental assessment for the Albert Pike Recreation Area is now available for public comment.

The project examined which facilities and infrastructure will support the uses of the Albert Pike Recreation Area in the future. It also included reviewing what would be needed to maintain all recreation facilities to standard; ensure public health and safety; protect resource values; and provide visitors with a variety of participation opportunities, activities and services.

The environmental assessment is available online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58793 along with a copy of the legal notice and instructions on how to send in comments. The environmental assessment includes maps for each of the alternatives and describes their respective components. Documentation is also available for review at the District office in Mt. Ida.

Interested members of the public and groups have 30 days following the June 6 announcement to provide comments. All comments must be in writing and submitted through formal channels. State “Albert Pike Recreation Area” in the subject line when providing electronic comments, or on the envelope when replying by mail. For questions about the proposed action, alternatives, or the commenting process, contact District Natural Resources Manager at charity.j.ryles@usda.gov.

A virtual Open House is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 23 on Microsoft Teams Live. The presentation will include information on the planning process, the project’s purpose, alternatives and how the public can be involved. A question and answer session will follow the presentation and is available at the following link:  https://tinyurl.com/Albert-Pike-RA.

For more information on the Ouachita National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita.

Organizers of Sevier County Senior Citizens Appreciation Day recognize long-standing sponsors    6/09/2021

DE QUEEN – Besides recognizing local senior citizens, organizers of last week’s 29th annual Sevier County Senior Citizens Appreciation Day also honored those who have made the event possible over the years.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray handed out a number of awards to local businesses for supporting this longstanding county event.

Sponsors who were recognized on Friday included 10-Year-Sponsor Awards to De Queen Medical Equipment and Supply, Southwest Electric Cooperative and Southwest EMS.

A 20-Year-Sponsor Award went to Bancorp South. A single 30-Year-Sponsor Award went to Suttle Equipment of De Queen.

Organizers gave a huge thank you to these businesses for their many years of support to Sevier County Senior Citizens Appreciation Day.

This weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Arkansas    6/09/2021

Starting this coming Friday at 12 noon and continuing through Sunday, June 13 at midnight is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s annual Free Fishing Weekend.

Residents and nonresidents may fish this weekend without a fishing license or trout permits. This applies to the entire state of Arkansas. So if you’ve been considering a new hobby this is the weekend to try your luck in many of Arkansas fish filled waters.

Regulations for waters still apply such as daily, slot, and length limits. If you decide hitting the water is for you you can purchase a Resident Fish License for $10.50 and a Trout permit for $10.00.

So dust off the tacklebox and re-spool the reel in preparation for this weekend of fun in the sun.

Friendship Baptist hosting VBS this weekend    6/09/2021

DE QUEEN – Friendship Baptist Church in De Queen will host a Vacation Bible School this Saturday, June 12. The event will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through three that afternoon. Registration will begin at 9:30 that morning. Friendship Baptist Church is located at 1121 North Ninth Street in De Queen.

Area under flash flood watch through Tuesday evening    6/08/2021
The flash flood watch covering the listening area has been extended through seven o’clock this evening. The watch was extended given the heavy rainfall seen throughout Monday and into Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service, the flash flood watch affects Sevier, Howard, Little River and McCurtain Counties as well as surrounding areas. The watch will remain in effect through seven Tuesday morning.

An additional two to four inches are possible Tuesday with higher amounts of six or more inches possible in isolated areas, according to the National weather Service. We’ve received reports of some roads beginning to flood or already covered in water as of Tuesday morning with more rain on the way. Flash flooding is particularly likely in urban and poor drainage areas as well as some county roads in the area.

During any flash flooding situation, the National Weather Service and emergency responders urge everyone to follow the mantra: Turn Around, Don’t Drown. Twelve inches of water crossing a road is enough to sweep away most vehicles. It’s vital to not underestimate the power of water, especially in a flash flooding situation.

Tuesday is set to bring more heavy rain with chances of thunderstorms this evening. Fortunately, Wednesday is expected to start bringing in some drier weather with no additional rain chances this week.

County mourns loss of long-serving Justice of the Peace    6/08/2021

DE QUEEN – Family, friends and local government officials are mourning the loss of one of Sevier County’s longest-serving individuals after he passed away over the weekend.

Michael Ruel Archer, known as Mike to everyone, passed away in Little Rock on Saturday, June 5. He had been suffering from bad health. Born in Hot Springs, Archer was a lifelong resident of De Queen. He was the owner and manager of Western Auto in De Queen for over 20 years as well as a farmer. He served in the U.S. Army and graduated from the University of Arkansas.

He is perhaps best known for his long service on the Sevier County Quorum Court, a position he held for 26 years. He was most influential as the chair of the quorum court’s budget committee. In this position he always placed the utmost emphasis on ensuring Sevier County taxpayers saw the revenue they contributed to the county spent wisely and efficiently. He played a significant leadership role on the quorum court, focusing on fiscal responsibility and serving as a source of wisdom and knowledge for newer local government officials.

In addition, Archer also dedicated his time to the Sevier County Water Board, the Tri-County Water Board and his church, First Baptist Church in De Queen.

Archer is survived by his wife, Marilyn, as well as daughter, Meredith Archer of Plano, Texas; son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Aneta Archer of Conway; a sister, Deborah Bickely of De Queen; as well as a number of nieces, grandchildren and numerous other relatives.

A family graveside for Mr. Archer will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday June 9, 2021 at the Redmen Cemetery Pavilion. A memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. at Kern Heights Baptist Church in De Queen with Bobby Fischer officiating, under the direction of Wilkerson Funeral Home in De Queen.

Family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. this evening at the funeral home.

Archer is the second justice of the peace on the Sevier County Quorum Court to pass away within the last year. Charles Keels, who represented District 2 on the quorum court, passed away last September. His wife, Evelyn, was appointed to serve out the reminder of his term earlier this spring.

The passing of Archer leaves open the position of District 7 Justice of the Peace. Similar to Keels’ position, the filling of this vacancy will be handled through Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office.

The Sevier County Courthouse will be closed on Wednesday, June 9 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to allow colleagues the opportunity to attend Archer’s funeral services.

Konner Shelton earns title of Arkansas “Champion of Champions”    6/08/2021

Congrats to Konnor Shelton, pictured center, of the FCC Shooters from the First Christian Church in De Queen for shooting his way to become the “2021 Arkansas “Champion of Champions” at the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports State Finals on Saturday.

JACKSONVILLE – Congrats to Konnor Shelton of the FCC Shooters from the First Christian Church in De Queen for shooting his way to become the “2021 Arkansas “Champion of Champions” at the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports State Finals on Saturday.

Konnor received a $2,500 scholarship from the Dr Doyne and Nancy Williams Endowment Fund.  2021 marks the first year of the scholarship from the Williams family. Organizers of the championship shoot gave a huge congratulations to Konner for his accomplishment at the annual tournament and a big thank you Dr Doyne and Nancy Williams for establishing the scholarship.

Dalton Janes Memorial Skeet Shoot this weekend in Broken Bow    6/08/2021

BROKEN BOW, Okla. – The annual Dalton Janes Memorial Skeet Shoot has been rescheduled to this Saturday, June 12. The yearly memorial competition is designed to help raise money for scholarships for local students.

The event will take place at 1961 Gardenia Road in Broken Bow and signs will be in place to help those arriving.

The memorial skeet shoot is open to everyone with several divisions, including adults and children. There will be a trophy for the highest shooter in all three categories.

Organizers say everyone is welcome to come by, compete in the skeet shoot and enjoy some free food and fellowship will remembering Dalton Janes and raising scholarships for local students. Numerous prizes will also be given away.

The event will kick off at 10 a.m. this Saturday and continue until the last shooter competes.

Sevier 4-H, Dr. Walker’s office team up for box fan drive for local seniors    6/08/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H’ers are teaming up with Dr. Randy Walker to hold a box fan drive for senior citizens in Sevier County.

Organizers say many senior citizens in the area go without cool air during the hot summer months. This program seeks to provide some relief to them.

If you, or someone you know, needs a box fan, contact Dr. Randy Walker’s office at (870) 584-3000.

If you would like to donate a box fan or funds for the program, contact either the Sevier County Extension Office at 584-3013 or Tonya Wolcott at 784-3849.

Area under flash flood watch through Tuesday morning    6/07/2021
DE QUEEN – A flash flood watch is currently in effect for the listening area after a weekend full of rain and more expected today and tomorrow.

According to the National Weather Service, the flash flood watch affects Sevier, Howard, Little River and McCurtain Counties as well as surrounding areas. The watch will remain in effect through seven Tuesday morning.

Rain predictions for today are 90 percent with another 70 percent on Tuesday. Forecasters said rainfall totals of two to three inches are expected with isolated higher amounts possible. Rainfall may occur in a short period of time and may impact locations that have seen heavy rainfall over the last few days, according to the National Weather Service. Flash flooding is particularly likely in urban and poor drainage areas.

Drier weather is expected starting midweek with only slight rain chances this weekend.

Over 200 seniors registered at today’s Sevier County Senior Citizens Day    6/07/2021

Sterling and Pud Daniel of De Queen were recognized as the longest married couple in attendance at the 39th annual Sevier County Senior Citizens Apperciation Day on Friday. They’ve been married an amazing 72 years. Sterling was also recognized as the oldest man and oldest veteran in attendance at the event. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific campaigns during the Second World War. They are pictured with Sevier County Judge Greg Ray (center), who presented the Daniels with their plaque.

DE QUEEN – Organizers of Sevier County’s Senior Citizens Day celebration say today’s event was a huge success, with over 200 registered seniors and nearly 50 vendors on site.

Attendance was down from previous years but organizers say not by much. A lower attendance was expected given prevailing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angie Walker of Dr. Randy Walker’s office and one of the main organizers of the event, said overall the event went perfectly. She also shared some insights into the significance of the appreciation day and what our seniors mean to the community.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray, another longstanding organizer of the event, said he was happy to see beautiful weather and a large group of vendors great today’s guests.

Mary Johnson of De Queen was recognized as the oldest woman in attendance at Friday’s 39th annual Sevier County Senior Citizens Appreciation Day. She is 94 years old. Pictured presenting the award to Ms. Johnson is Sevier County Judge Greg Ray.

One of the event’s most cherished moments is highlighting Sevier County’s oldest man, woman and veteran, as well as the county’s longest married couple.

Well, one guest as today’s event was a ringer, earning three of those awards. Sterling Daniel, a veteran of the Second World War and a former alderman for the City of De Queen, was recognized as the oldest man attending today’s event and the oldest veteran. In addition, he and his wife, Pud, were highlighted as the longest married couple at an amazing 72 years!

Mary Johnson of De Queen was the oldest woman in attendance at 94-years-old.

Horatio Public Schools issue statement after arrest of former employee    6/07/2021

CONWAY – The Horatio School District said it is fully cooperating with law enforcement agencies in an investigation regarding a former employee who was arrested lasted month on nearly three dozen counts of possession of child pornography.

In a statement, Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the district is aware of the case regarding Ryan James Smith, a former employee of the district who left in June of 2016. Smith was arrested on May 28 on 35 counts of possession of child pornography.

The Horatio School District said it will cooperate with authorities to assure the safety of its students, which Vanderpool said is the district’s first priority.

Officers with the Conway Police Department arrested 32-year-old Ryan James Smith on Thursday, May 28 at his home in Conway. Police say he is being charged with 35 counts of child pornography after it was allegedly discovered on a computer he owned.

Conway police said the investigation is ongoing and no additional details have been made available. Smith is currently being held in the Faulkner County Jail.

Smith worked as a coach for the Horatio School District in 2016 before finding employment at the Danville School District. He worked there until 2020.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in the case and is advising anyone who was a possible victim of James’ to contact the office at (870) 642-2125.

Horatio Public Schools hosting basketball camp    6/07/2021

HORATIO – Today is the deadline to early register for the Better Basketball Positionless Skills Camp at Horatio Public Schools. The basketball camp is scheduled for June 15-17 from 5 to 7 p.m. each evening. The camp will offer basketball training for students in grades second through ninth at the Horatio Practice Gym. Cost is $25 per day or $50 for all three days. Included in the cost is a camp t-shirt, but registration must be completed by 4 p.m. today to guarantee one. A number of giveaways will be held during the camp. For more information email ldorsey@horatioschools.org or visit the Horatio School District’s Facebook page.

Master Gardener online auction going on now    6/07/2021

You don’t need a green thumb to attend the Arkansas Master Gardeners auction this year. It’s online, open to all, and free to attend.

The online­ auction will be open through June 11 with more than 200 items available at https://county76auction.uada.edu.

Gardeners of all abilities will find plenty of items, from tools and seed to rain barrels and garden gnomes. Ferns, hanging baskets, succulents and more will be available as well.

Plenty of items for non-gardeners are also available, including spa services, salon hair products, James Hayes glass art, autographed books, tickets to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and homemade goat soap. A few edibles‚ such as honey, jams, jellies and fresh eggs will also be available.

The auction coincides with the Master Gardeners annual conference, which will be virtual this year. The online auction is open to the public at no charge.

Bidders must register and provide a credit card for purchases. Purchases will be by credit card only. Winning bidders’ credit cards will be charged when the auction ends at noon on June 11.

Winners will pick up items at designated locations and times.

County 76 Master Gardeners, the statewide advisory group for the Arkansas Master Gardener program, organizes the auction each year.

Proceeds support the Janet B. Carson County Scholarship Fund, which awards funds to counties for innovative and educational projects, and provides scholarships to college-bound high school students. Proceeds also help offset the cost of the Master Gardeners annual leadership conference.

More than 3,100 volunteers are active in Arkansas Master Gardeners. The program is administered by the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Their mission is to extend research-based information through demonstration and educational programs to strengthen local communities and families throughout Arkansas.

To learn more about Master Gardeners in Arkansas, visit https://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/master-gardeners/ or contact the Sevier County Cooperative Extension Office at (870) 584-3013. In Little River County that number is (870) 898-7224.

COVID figures continue to remain low in Southwest Arkansas    6/07/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County saw a single net increase since last week, with six currently confirmed active cases in the county. Total cases grew just slightly over the last week to 2,805. Deaths have not seen an increase in several months and remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting just wo active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,255 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42.

Howard County is reporting three active cases at this time. Total cases number 1,667 and deaths 25.

Active cases in Polk County currently number eight. Total cases rose slightly last week to 2,012. Deaths did not increase last week and remain at 74.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 88 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Sunday for a cumulative total of over 342,000 transmissions. Active cases fell by 74 to 1,707 currently. No deaths were reported yesterday. Currently 187 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus, an increase of six from the day before.

American Legion Post 54 to host luncheon in commemoration of D-Day anniversary     6/04/2021
The American Legion Post 54, based in De Queen, will host a hotdog lunch for the community this weekend to honor the 77th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War II.

The event will be held on Sunday, June 6 starting at 1 p.m. at the legion hut at 513 North Eighth Street in De Queen. Lunch will be offered by donation.

Organizers say the event will be held in commemoration of the D-Day landings during the Second World War. The operation, which was the largest amphibious assault in history and involved troops from the United States, Britain, Canada and other Allied nations, opened up a vulnerable second front against Nazi Germany and helped bring a quicker end to that devastating war.

The American Legion Post 54 invites everyone from the community to come by and learn more about the American Legion while also honoring this famous and historic event.

Ashdown man sentenced to life for murder of 16-year-old child     6/04/2021

TEXARKANA, Texas – An Ashdown man was sentenced to life in prison last week by a Texas jury for the murder of a minor last year.

Demarius DeJuan Taylor, 21, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for killing Notorious Crabtree.

The murder occurred following an altercation on Ash Street in Texarkana last year. Following that fight, Taylor fired a handgun into the crowd, striking Crabtree. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Prosecutors presented the jury with two 2019 violations in California and Arkansas in which Taylor was arrested while possessing firearms. This previous offenses led the prosecution to successfully seek the life sentence in Taylor’s case.

Listening area in for another wet, stormy week and weekend     6/04/2021

DE QUEEN – The listening area is going to be in for another wet weekend thanks to a new storm front entering the region tomorrow.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service are calling for a 60 percent chance of showers beginning Saturday morning with thunderstorms possible later that afternoon. Those chances grow into Sunday, with a 90 percent chance of thunderstorms as the end of the weekend. More thunderstorms are predicted through the end of next week.

No watches or warnings are currently in effect but the National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook suggesting rainfall could be heavy and lead to flooding across some areas. Otherwise, the risk of these storms becoming severe is currently low.

Yesterday’s blue skies were a welcome reprieve to the wet and cloudy weather we’ve seen nearly nonstop this spring. Hopefully you had a chance to enjoy yesterday’s weather because it’s likely to be the last nice day we get for at least the seven days.

Pre-trial hearing reset for Lockesburg woman charged with negligent homicide, DWI     6/04/2021

A fall pre-trial hearing has been set for a Lockesburg woman facing charges for her involvement in a 2020 vehicular accident that left one man dead.

According to court records, 33-year-old Brandi Turner of Lockesburg will appear before the Howard County Circuit Court for the pre-trial hearing on Sept. 29. Turner’s pre-trial hearing was originally scheduled for June 9 but a continuance was issued until later this year.

Turner was charged in late January with negligent homicide as well as second-degree battery and driving while intoxicated in relation to a fatal accident in Howard County on Oct. 17 of last year.

Prosecutors allege Turner was intoxicated at the time of the accident. According to the Arkansas State Police, Turner was traveling north on Highway 27 around 11:30 that night when she crossed the centerline and collided with two other vehicles. The investigating state trooper reported Turner collided head-on with a 2013 Dodge Avenger. The driver of the avenger, 58-year-old Tony Ray Young of Mineral Springs, was killed in the accident. A passenger, listed as an unnamed minor in the report, was injured.

No injuries occurred in the third vehicle, according to the investigating state trooper. Road and weather conditions at the time of the accident were reported as clear and dry.

The investigation continued following the accident with the authorities issuing a warrant for access to Turner’s cellphone.

A toxicology report alleges Turner was over the legal limit in terms of alcohol consumption when the accident occurred. The negligent homicide charge is a Class B Felony which can carry a sentence of five to 20 years in prison. In addition, Turner has been charged with second degree battery for the minor injured in the accident. That charge can carry an additional sentence of three to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

Turner’s pre-trial hearing has been set for Sept. 29 in the Howard County Circuit Court.

Local youth competing today and tomorrow at state shooting competition     6/04/2021

JACKSONVILLE – A local team and several local youth are competing today and tomorrow to earn the title of Arkansas’ top shot.

The Horatio Junior Trap Team earned their spot to the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program State Championship by placing 13th out of 103 teams. The competed last month at the South Region Junior Division competition at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex. They are set to compete again today for the finals beginning at 9 a.m.

During the qualifier, seventh grader Rhett Walker shot 22 out of 25 thrown clays. Sixth grader Ty Dorsey followed close with 21. The eighth graders finished strong with Titus Caudle scoring 20, Konner Bailey 17 and team captain, Logan Chandler, shooting a 15. Seventh grader Brian Lampi shot 14/25 clays.

One young man from De Queen is also competing this weekend at the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program state tournament after shooting a perfect score at the regional conference.

Konnor Shelton, captain of the senior trap shooting team for First Christian Church of De Queen, shot a flawless 50/50 at the regional qualifiers in Jacksonville last month. The perfect score secured him a trip back to Jacksonville on June 5 to compete in the state tournament for Arkansas top youth shot.

Jared Day of Ashdown has also been invited to participate in the Champion of Champions shootoff at the AYSSP State Championships this weekend.

The final rounds will go live at about 1:30 p.m., depending on how quickly the first five rounds proceed in getting to the championship and the third-place matchups. The Champion of Champions shootoffs involve the perfect scorers from junior (25 shots) and senior (50 shots) regional tournaments. Each participant competes until missing a shot; the last person standing is the Champion of Champions.

The senior Champion of Champions will receive a $2,500 scholarship for college.

The final rounds of the state championship will be carried today and tomorrow on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission YouTube channel with Trey Reid, host of “Arkansas Wildlife,” handling the “clay-by-clay” commentary.

To see all scores from the tournaments, visit https://apps.agfc.com/ayssp.

Sevier County 4-H, Dr. Walker’s Office to host box fan drive for area seniors     6/04/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H’ers are teaming up with Dr. Randy Walker to hold a box fan drive for senior citizens in Sevier County.

Organizers say many senior citizens in the area go without cool air during the hot summer months. This program seeks to provide some relief to them.

If you, or someone you know, needs a box fan, contact Dr. Randy Walker’s office at (870) 584-3000.

If you would like to donate a box fan or funds for the program, contact either the Sevier County Extension Office at 584-3013 or Tonya Wolcott at 784-3849.

De Queen City Pool now open     6/04/2021

DE QUEEN – The City of De Queen’s pool is back open to visitors just in time for the upcoming summer season. The pool kicked off the season with a free community swim on Memorial Day and will be open now Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. The pool is also open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and closed on Sunday. General admission is $3 per person. Season passes are $50 per person, or $200 for a family pass that covers four or more family members.

The pool is open exclusively to adults Monday through Friday from 9-10 a.m. The pool is only open to adults 25 and older during this time and there is no cost to swim. The pool is also open for private pool party rentals by calling (870) 642-4140. The pool can be rented for between two and six hours Monday through Saturday. The pool is reserved on Sundays and Wednesdays for church groups and local vacation bible schools.

For more information on the De Queen Dolphin Swim Team, contact Jill Smith at (870) 279-0567.

July 1 is deadline to apply for Arkansas Lottery Scholarships     6/04/2021

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery (ASL) announced today that July 1 is the deadline to apply for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship.

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery provides tuition assistance to traditional and non-traditional students attending universities and two-year colleges – both public and private – in the state. Since its inception in 2009, the Arkansas lottery has helped raise more than $1 billion in scholarship proceeds and awarded more than 650,000 Academic Challenge Scholarships to students.

Traditional students must score at least 19 on the ACT to qualify for the scholarship. The latest ACT score accepted by the Arkansas Division of Higher Education will be from the June testing. Students who have yet to achieve a score of 19 make take the Accuplacer test as a substitute.

Freshman students at four-year colleges receive $1,000 from the scholarship. Second- and third-year students receive $4,000, and senior-level students are awarded $5,000 per year.

At two-year colleges, first-year students receive $1,000 annually, while second-year students are awarded $3,000. To maintain eligibility, students must keep a 2.5 grade point average.

Additionally, students seeking certification for high-demand occupations in healthcare information technology and industrial manufacturing may apply for the Arkansas Workforce Challenge Scholarship, which is also funded by lottery revenue. Students must apply at least 30 days before enrolling in an eligible program.

Finally, funding is available for high school students who wish to start early on receiving credit for college courses through the Arkansas Concurrent Academic Challenge Scholarship. It pays $125 per credit for up to two concurrent-credit courses per semester of the student’s junior and senior high school year.

For more information and to apply, students may visit scholarships.adhe.edu.

State law enforcement officers warn of catalytic converter thefts     6/04/2021

State law enforcement officers are warning Arkansans that catalytic converter thefts are on the rise and are sharing some tips on how people can protect their automobiles from this type of crime.

A catalytic converter is an EPA-approved exhaust emission control device that is usually found beneath the vehicle as part of the exhaust system. Thieves are stealing catalytic converters from all types of automobiles for the precious metals contained within. Specifically, hybrid and lower emission vehicles contain higher amounts of precious metals in their converters and certain larger vehicles have multiple catalytic converters making both high value targets.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to protect their catalytic converters from theft:

Whenever possible, park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances.

If you have a garage, park your car inside and keep the garage shut.

Consider having the catalytic converter welded to your car’s frame, making it harder to steal.

Calibrate your car’s alarm system to alert you when it detects vibrations.

Most catalytic converters do not have serial numbers, so engraving your car’s VIN can help identify your catalytic converter if it is stolen.

Consumers should notify their insurance company if your catalytic converter is stolen.

If Arkansas consumers find that their catalytic converters have been stolen, they should file a report with their local law enforcement agency. Then contact ScrapTheftAlert.com to report a theft.

WMA deer hunt permits on sale through July 1     6/04/2021

The application period for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Wildlife Management Area Deer Permit hunts is open until midnight July 1. Hunters interested in pursuing white-tailed deer on some of the most popular public deer hunting areas in the state may apply through the AGFC’s licensing system at www.agfc.com.

Hunting deer on privately owned land and many WMAs throughout the state requires only a hunting license with big-game privileges, but many of the AGFC’s most popular areas can become crowded or overhunted without special restrictions. On many of the most popular areas, the AGFC conducts special draw hunts to maintain healthy deer herds and high-quality hunting experiences.

WMA Deer Hunt Permit applications are available for $5 per application type. If successful, applicants receive their permit without additional fees. Each hunter may submit one application for each type of permit hunt: youth hunt, archery, muzzleloader and modern gun. Mobility-impaired individuals also may apply for special mobility-impaired hunts through the permit system.

Hunters must be at least 6 years old by the beginning of the hunt, and hunters applying for youth hunts must be at least 6, but no older than 15, the day the hunt begins. To apply for a youth hunt, the youth hunter must be logged in under his or her own Customer ID in the licensing system. Youth hunts do not appear as an option to choose in the licensing system for any hunters older than 16.

Hunters applying for regular modern gun and muzzleloader hunts may do so as individuals or they may apply as a group of up to four, thanks to the AGFC’s party hunt system. Applying as a party does not increase the chances of each individual being drawn.

Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival postponed again due to high lake levels     6/02/2021
DE QUEEN – The 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival has been postponed again.

Continually high lake levels and more rain forecasts are forcing organizers to postpone the event for a second time. Originally scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, the bass tournament was first rescheduled for June 5. That date is now being rescheduled to June 19.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said lake levels are just too high – and boat landings and parking areas too flooded – to hold the bass tournament this weekend. Currently, De Queen Lake is around 17 feet above normal elevation, Gillham is 16 and Dierks Lake is 21 feet above normal lake levels.

An extremely wet May and a rainy start to June has meant all three lakes remain above normal elevation and some of the traditional boat landings are still completely underwater. More rain is scheduled this week and weekend as well as into next week. Ray said another three to five inches are expected next week.

Although it’s been rescheduled, registration continues for this year’s Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. on June 5. Late registration is $50. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.

Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.

Over $14,000 in cash prizes will be awarded during the tournament, including $1,500 for catching the biggest bass.

For more information, contact Greg Ray at (870) 642-2425 or the Chamber of Commerce office at (870) 584-3225.

JBS announces processing plants will reopen today     6/02/2021

GREELEY, Colo. – JBS-owned facilities are expected to reopen today after unexpected closures yesterday due to a suspected cybersecurity attack over the holiday weekend.

Corporate officials said Tuesday the vast majority of its plants were expected to be operational Wednesday following the cyberattack. JBS announced on Monday that it had determined it was the target of an organized cybersecurity attack, affecting a number of IT servers supporting its North American and Australian operations.

A press release issued on Monday stated the company took immediate action to suspend affected systems and notified authorities. However, the attack forced the closure of all JBS beef plants in the United States and Australia. Numerous other facilities were forced to close Tuesday due to the disruption.

Among those plants closed yesterday was the De Queen-based Pilgrim’s poultry processing facility, which is owned by JBS. Corporate officials did not respond to an email asking if the De Queen plant’s closure was related to the cyberattack. The plant, however, cancelled both Tuesday shifts.

Pilgrim’s has announced the De Queen facility will be back in operation as of Wednesday morning.

At a press briefing yesterday afternoon, a White House spokesperson said JBS notified the administration that the cyberattack came from a criminal organization likely based in Russia. JBS has not publicly disclosed if it was targeted by a ransomware attack like that against Colonial Pipeline last month. In that attack, Colonial Pipeline paid a several million dollar ransom to restart fuel distribution operations which initially caused major shortages of fuel on the east coast.

Rep. Vaught presents plaques to Horatio Teachers of the Year     6/02/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught, left, presents Vickie DeVore with a plaque recognizing her as the Horatio High School Teacher of the Year.

HORATIO – State Representative DeAnn Vaught held a small ceremony last week to recognize and honor the Teachers of the Year at Horatio High School.

Rep. Vaught presented Arkansas State Legislature plaques to Horatio High School Teacher of the Year Vickie Devore and Horatio Elementary Teacher of the Year Karen Woods.

Ms. DeVore is currently teaching history and social studies at Horatio High School. She has been with the Horatio School District for 13 of her 27 years in education. She graduated from East Texas State University with a BSE in Secondary Education with emphasis in History and then received her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction in Secondary Education with English emphasis from Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas.

Ms. DeVore said her classroom philosophy includes the belief that the greatest gift she can give a student is the ability to think critically.

State Representative DeAnn Vaught, left, presents Karen Woods with a plaque recognizing her as the Horatio Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Woods is retiring this year from education.

Ms. Woods is currently teaching fourth grade at Horatio Elementary School. She has been with the Horatio School District for 11 of her 28 years in education. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education plus has acquired an additional 18 hours of coursework. Her certifications include K-6, early childhood, 5-8 social studies, and ELL.

Ms. Woods’ philosophy of education includes clear expectations, a focus on developing thinking skills, and student differentiation.

Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said it’s been a great honor to get to know these talented and dedicated teachers during his first year at Horatio. He added that both Ms. Devore and Ms. Woods are not only assets to Horatio students but also to the education profession as a whole.

Ashdown man sentenced to life for 2020 murder     6/02/2021

TEXARKANA, Texas – An Ashdown man was sentenced to life in prison last week by a Texas jury for the murder of a minor last year.

Demarius DeJuan Taylor, 21, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for killing Notorious Crabtree.

The murder occurred following an altercation on Ash Street in Texarkana last year. Following that fight, Taylor fired a handgun into the crowd, striking Crabtree. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Prosecutors presented the jury with two 2019 violations in California and Arkansas in which Taylor was arrested while possessing firearms. This previous offenses led the prosecution to successfully seek the life sentence in Taylor’s case.

Cicadas not likely to make big appearance in Arkansas this year     6/02/2021

To see, hear or read the national news, one could be forgiven for thinking cicadas were the new national pastime, or possibly an invading force.

And for some areas east of the Mississippi River, they nearly are. Brood X cicadas — millions upon millions of them — have emerged in more than a dozen eastern states after 17 years underground, the sounds of their mating calls nearly drowning out all else.

And yet, it is nearly all quiet, here on the Arkansas front. Emily McDermott, assistant professor of entomology and plant pathology for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said it will likely remain that way for another few years.

Unfortunately, she said we’ll have to wait a few more years for our next emergence of periodical cicadas here in Arkansas.

She said Brood XIX cicadas, which emerge on a 13-year cycle, are expected in Northwest Arkansas in 2024. Brood XXIII, another set of periodical cicadas, emerged in Arkansas in 2015.

Arkansans can still expect to see (and hear) the annual cicadas known as “dog day” cicadas this summer, however. The species, which has a shorter life cycle of five to six weeks, emerge every summer, typically during the hottest days of the season. The Brood X cicadas, in contrast, typically live for 10 to 16 weeks.

They won’t be quite as overwhelming as the periodical cicadas will be on the east coast, but people will still see them around. Unlike the black and yellow and red periodical cicadas, dog day cicadas will be mostly green with black markings.

With the emergence of cicadas also comes large wasps, commonly known as “cicada killers.” These insects catch cicadas and feed them to their larvae, but tend not to bother with humans, McDermott said.

Last summer, there were a lot of people who saw cicada killers and were concerned that they were the invasive Asian giant hornets that were all over the news,” McDermott explained. They are both large, intimidating, stinging insects, but we do not have the Asian giant hornet in Arkansas.

Cicada killers are native insects, and Arkansans shouldn’t fear them, McDermott said.

Former Horatio coach arrested on child pornography charges     6/01/2021
CONWAY – A former Horatio coach is facing nearly three dozen counts of possession of child pornography following his arrest in Conway last week.

Officers with the Conway Police Department arrested 32-year-old Ryan James Smith on Thursday, May 28 at his home in Conway. Police say he is being charged with 35 counts of child pornography after it was allegedly discovered on a computer he owned.

Conway police said the investigation is ongoing and no additional details have been made available. Smith is currently being held in the Faulkner County Jail.

Smith worked as a coach for the Horatio School District in 2017 before finding employment at the Danville School District. He worked there until 2020.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in the case and is advising anyone who was a possible victim of James’ to contact the office at (870) 642-2125.

Work begins on astroturf field at Leopard Stadium     6/01/2021

DE QUEEN – Work began last week on Leopard Stadium’s new Astroturf field.

Crews started the process of building up the natural and artificial foundation for the Astroturf field last week in hopes of having the field ready for use by the next school year.

This year athletic officials with the De Queen School District saw a long-time dream become reality after the school board voted to construct an astroturf field at Leopard Stadium.

The De Queen School Board voted unanimously in April to incorporate an astroturf field at Leopard Stadium, which hosts the district’s football and soccer games as well as other sports and community-wide events. De Queen is one of only a handful of high schools in the state without an astroturf field.

The total cost of the field is estimated at $880,000. Administration and athletic officials spent the last five months building partnerships with the community to help raise donations for the new field. Thanks to that push, the district was able to collect $535,000 in private donations from businesses in De Queen. At April’s meeting, the school board voted to put up the additional $345,000 needed to build the field.

The biggest sponsor for the new field is Diamond Bank with a $150,000 donation. Other sponsors include KDQN, Pilgrim’s, Gentry Chevrolet, Peak Therapy, Shelter Insurance, De Queen Auto Group, Dr. Randy Walker, De Queen Church of Christ, Horatio State Bank and Tri-State Asphalt. The field will be financed through a three-percent, 10-year loan from Diamond Bank. Sanders said the 10-year note will allow some sponsors to provide their donations over the next decade as opposed to all at once.

Sanders and Leopards Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir highlighted the multiple benefits of astroturf. Those include the well-documented safety aspects of astroturf, the lower maintenance requirements and the visual improvement it will bring to Leopard Stadium.

Chesshir said the astroturf field, coupled with other recent and ongoing improvements at Leopard Stadium, will provide benefits to the whole community.

The astroturf would have been a much greater challenge for the district without the tremendous community support, said De Queen Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton.

Sanders said some other individuals and businesses may be interested in supporting the new field – and they are greatly welcomed.

The astroturf field will include a field stabilizer as well as an additional concrete foundation that includes a 24-year warranty. Sanders added that the field is expected to be in use by the district beginning Aug. 1 of this year.

Sevier County Block Parties begin June 8     6/01/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Block Party Committee is announcing a number of events starting this month aimed at continuing to foster closer relations between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry founded the annual Block Party celebrations a number of years ago to help strengthen those relationships. The first event was so successful, said organizers, they decided to hold them annually.

This year, the Block Party Committee is hosting a number of events across the county. The first is scheduled for next Tuesday, June 8 from 6-8 p.m. at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen. That will be followed by another event at the Horatio City Park on June 29.

The Gillham Fire Department will host a block party on July 13 and then in Lockesburg on Aug. 3 at the Lockesburg City Park. The two final events are scheduled for Aug. 24 at the Ben Lomond Community Building and then again in De Queen on Sept. 14 at the Sportsplex.

The events will focus on providing a fun, family-oriented event. The Block Party will include a bounce house, free hot dogs, frozen treats and popcorn. The event will once again feature a Little Debbie eating contest for kids and adults. There will be numerous prizes given away including a bike as well as various gift cards and gift certificates.

For more information visit the Sevier County Block Party Committee on Facebook.

Listening area braces for another week of wet weather     6/01/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s likely to be another wet week in the listening area.

According to the National Weather Service, each day this week has rain chances – as if we haven’t got enough already. Today’s chances are the greatest for the week at 80 percent. Those chances lessen some this evening and through the week, with most days having chances no greater than 40 percent.

Currently, however, Saturday has a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms and rainfall.

The forecast includes Sevier and surrounding areas. Currently no watches or warnings are in effect but, as well as know in Arkansas, that could change at any time, especially in regards to flash flooding.

Little River Chamber of Commerce presents Citizen of the Year Award to Matt Richardson; honors local groups, businesses and educators     6/01/2021

ASHDOWN – The Little River County Chamber of Commerce held its annual Awards Banquet on May 28 to honor local businesses, educators and individuals from the community. The event was held at the Barbara Horn Civic Center of the UA Cossatot Ashdown campus.

The 2021 Renovation Award went to Ashdown Elementary School while New Construction went to David Feed Company.

The Large Business Award was given to Horatio State Bank’s Foreman branch. Small Business of the Year was awarded to Next Step Gym and Cutting Edge.

Chamber officials presented the Non-Profit Organization award to the Ashdown Cemetery. Outstanding Healthcare Professional went to Wes Aylett.

Other recipients included Zane Butler, who was named Exceptional Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Foreman Teacher of the Year Michelle Green, Ashdown Teacher of the Year Shawnda Chester and UA Cossatot Instructor of the Year Tamla Heminger.

The Panther Ambassador of the Year was awarded to Emma Wrinkle while Chris Haywood received Gator Ambassador of the Year.

The Clayton Castleman Public Service Award was presented to Kim Befeld. The Steve Pearce Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Matt Richardson.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     6/01/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County have not seen a net increase or decrease since last week, with five currently confirmed active cases in the county. Total cases grew just slightly over the last week to 2,800. Deaths have not seen an increase in several months and remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting five active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,254 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42.

Howard County is reporting four active cases at this time. Total cases number 1,665 and deaths 25.

Active cases in Polk County currently number 12. Total cases rose slightly last week to 2,010. Deaths did not increase last week and remain at 74.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 30 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Monday for a cumulative total of over 341,000 transmissions. Active cases fell by 217 to 1,721 currently. One death was reported yesterday for a total of 5,833 since last spring. Currently 200 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus, an increase of six from the day before.

Tax assessment deadline is unofficially today due to Monday holiday     5/28/2021
DE QUEEN – Sevier County Assessor Sheila Ridley and her office are reminding everyone that personal taxes must be assessed by May 31st to avoid a penalty as provided by law. And with Monday being Memorial Day, that really means today is the deadline.

A 10 percent penalty will be applied if you assess your taxable property after the May 31 deadline.

When you assess your taxes all changes in real estate structures must be reported.

Be sure and apply for Amendment 79, the homestead credit, if you haven’t already. You do not need to reapply for this credit each year. If you are 65 years of age or older you can receive a property tax value freeze.

You can call (870) 584-3182 to assess personal property or come by 115 N. Third Street, Suite 117 at the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. You can also email scassessor@windstream.net

Memorial Day closings     5/28/2021

DE QUEEN – Monday, May 31 is Memorial Day, a day to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice of the men and women who died while serving in the United States armed forces.

In commemoration of the holiday, area banks and government offices and some businesses will be closed.

The De Queen, Horatio and Lockesburg City Halls will all be closed in observance of Memorial Day. The trash route for De Queen has been adjusted: Monday’s trash will be picked up on Tuesday, Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday while Thursday and Friday will remain the same.

The Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill will both be closed on Monday and will reopen with regular operating hours on Tuesday, June 1.

Area senior citizen centers will also be closed for the holiday.

We here at KDQN Studios want to take this moment too to both honor and remember the U.S. military personnel who have died in the performance of their duties. Freedom isn’t free and it is they who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep the nation free and safe.

De Queen school officials honor longtime educator who passed away this week     5/28/2021

Sharon Gale Williams Pigeon, principal of De Queen Primary School and an employee of the De Queen School District for three decades, passed away on Wednesday, May 26.

DE QUEEN – Officials with the De Queen School District are honoring the memory of a longtime and very popular educator who passed away this week.

Sharon Gale Williams Pigeon, principal of De Queen Primary School and an employee of the De Queen School District for three decades, passed away on Wednesday, May 26.

In a statement, De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said he and the entire Leopard family were saddened to hear of the passing of Mrs. Pigeon. He added she was a tremendous educator and will be truly missed. Sanders said Mrs. Pigeon’s true passion was always the students of the De Queen School District.

Elementary Principal Terri Phillips stated, “Sharon Pigeon was the epitome of
professionalism and she gave 100% to anything she did. She believed in hard work, consistency,
high expectations, and meeting the needs of all students and teachers. I had the pleasure of
working with Sharon as a fellow teacher, as a D.I. Reading Coordinator (D.I. was her passion.),
and finally as my assistant principal for eight years. We shared the same educational philosophies
and were able to act as one. I never gave it a second thought if I had to be away from the
building because Sharon had my back. She became an outstanding principal for De Queen
Primary and never let anything get in her way of being true to her beliefs about education to
ensure that the needs of all children were met. She will be missed greatly, but
her legacy will live on.”

District officials said their prayers and thoughts will be with the Pigeon family.

Funeral services for Mrs. Pigeon will be held at 10 a.m. this Saturday, May 29 at First Assembly of God in De Queen with Micah Martin and Bradi Young officiating. Burial will follow in the Chapel Hill Cemetery under the direction of Wilkerson Funeral Home in De Queen. The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. this evening at the funeral home in De Queen.

Horatio Junior Trap Team heading to state contest     5/28/2021

In their first year, the Horatio Junior Trap Team earned their spot to the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program State Championship by placing 13th out of 103 teams. The competed last Friday at the South Region Junior Division competition at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex. (Photo submitted by Elizabeth Walker)

JACKSONVILLE – In their first year, the Horatio Junior Trap Team earned their spot to the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program State Championship by placing 13th out of 103 teams. The competed last Friday at the South Region Junior Division competition at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex.

Seventh grader Rhett Walker shot 22 out of 25 thrown clays. Sixth grader Ty Dorsey followed close with 21. The eighth graders finished strong with Titus Caudle scoring 20, Konner Bailey 17 and team captain, Logan Chandler, shooting a 15. Seventh grader Brian Lampi shot 14/25 clays.

One young man from De Queen will be heading to the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program state tournament next month after shooting a perfect score at the regional conference.

Konnor Shelton, captain of the senior trap shooting team for First Christian Church of De Queen, shot a flawless 50/50 at the regional qualifiers in Jacksonville last Saturday, May 22. The perfect score secured him a trip back to Jacksonville on June 5 to compete in the state tournament for Arkansas top youth shot.

Jared Day of Ashdown will also be invited to participate in the Champion of Champions shootoff at the AYSSP State Championships next weekend.

The final rounds of the state championship will be carried June 4-5 on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission YouTube channel with Trey Reid, host of “Arkansas Wildlife,” handling the “clay-by-clay” commentary.

To see all scores from the tournaments, visit https://apps.agfc.com/ayssp.

Reminder: This weekend’s Tri-Lakes bass tournament postponed to June 5     5/28/2021

Just a reminder that this weekend’s 31st Annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been postponed due to high lake levels.

Officials with the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce made the decision earlier this week to move the tournament back by a week due to lake levels at De Queen, Dierks and Gillham. An extremely wet May has meant all three lakes are above normal elevation and some of the traditional boat landings are still completely underwater.

Instead of this Saturday, the bass tournament will now be held June 5. Organizers hope this will allow enough time for clear weather to move in and lake levels to fall closer to normal levels.

Registration continues is continuing for this year’s Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. on June 5. Early registration is $45 per person. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.

Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.

Prizes include $1,500 for catching the biggest bass, $1,000 for second place and so on through fifth place. Prizes are awarded hourly as well for a total of around $10,000 in prize money at this year’s tournament.

This year the chamber is offering a registration bundle to participants. For $65, anglers can cover their registration fee and receive a tournament cap. Wear your hat at hourly weigh-ins and, if your catch takes first place that hour, you’ll receive an extra $50.

COVID-19 will still have some impact on this year’s tournament. Chamber officials said no award ceremony will be held due to the pandemic. All winners will receive prize money through the mail.

For more information, contact Greg Ray at 642-2445 or the Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3225.

Applications still being accepted for broadband benefit program     5/28/2021

The Arkansas Department of Commerce is continuing to accept applications for a new program to increase broadband service for eligible households during the pandemic.

The temporary benefit named the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that will lower the code of broadband services.

The $3.2 billion EBB program provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households or qualifying Tribal lands.

The program also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider.

A household is eligible if one member of the household meets certain criteria. That includes an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program;

-Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;

-Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;

-Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or

– Or meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

For more information, including application information, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov

Stay safe when enjoying the water this Memorial Day weekend     5/28/2021

Memorial Day weekend is one of the top three busiest weekends of the year for the region’s lakes and rivers, and officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expect that 2021 will be no exception.

With water levels high across the state, and with more rain in the forecast, boaters should exercise extreme caution. Some rivers and lakes in Arkansas (none locally, however) currently has a small craft advisory in effect, and law enforcement officials will be on the lookout for water safety and boating violations.

Officials with Arkansas State Parks and the Corps of Engineers ask everyone to remember to wear their life jackets when on or near water, don’t drink alcoholic beverages and operate a boat, never swim alone, and stick to designated swim areas.

Gillham will be prime viewing location for 2024 total solar eclipse     5/27/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Nowhere in Arkansas will the 2024 total solar eclipse be more total and for a longer period of time than in Gillham. Eclipse2024.org, a website dedicated to the event, lists Gillham as the location in Arkansas with the greatest length of totality at four minutes, 18.7 seconds. The entire path of totality will only be around 50 miles wide. Outside of that swath the eclipse will be only partially visible. (Photo courtesy of www.nationaleclipse.com)

Gillham is likely to be a busy place in April 2024.

That’s because Gillham is going to be one of the best places in the country to view the 2024 total solar eclipse, which will occur on the afternoon of April 8, 2024.

The predicted path of the solar eclipse shows Gillham exactly in the line of totality – meaning the sun will be entirely eclipsed by the moon, turning day into night.

Nowhere in the region will the eclipse be more total and for a longer period of time than in Gillham. Eclipse2024.org, a website dedicated to the event, lists Gillham as the location in Arkansas with the greatest length of totality at four minutes, 18.7 seconds. The entire path of totality will only be around 50 miles wide. Outside of that swath the eclipse will be only partially visible.

Of course, other communities in the path will be able to view the solar eclipse as it occurs. But, given the rarity of these events, every second counts. And with Gillham leading the state for the time of totality, visitors far and wide are likely to descend on the community in hopes of catching every moment of the eclipse.

The last total solar eclipse to occur in the United States was in 2017. Prior to this event, no solar eclipse had been visible across the entirety of the United States since 1918. The 2017 eclipse was the first in the era of social media and modern communications and saw correspondingly huge interest. Millions of people traveled across the country to catch a glimpse.

According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s population was doubled, maybe tripled by travelers from the U.S. and across the globe – all seeking to catch as much of the total solar eclipse as they could.

Besides the lengthy path it will take across the United States, the 2024 solar eclipse is likely to be a popular one for another reason: it’ll be the last one to touch North America until 2033. The only state that sees totality then will be Alaska, and the weather prospects for March in the Arctic will make this one a true challenge to view. After that, the eclipse will occur in 2044 and again in 2045. In other words, the 2024 solar eclipse won’t be one to miss.

So, ok, maybe it’s a little early to be too excited about an event nearly three years from now. But those who’ve experienced them say it’s a moment not to miss – and one you can’t prepare too early for.

Besides descending the afternoon to darkness, solar eclipses are known to cause a few funky things to happen. Solar power stations are likely to see a quick drop in energy output while certain flowers such as hibiscus can be seen withdrawing their leaves as if it was night. Animals, too, will act a little funny during the unexpected drop in light levels, such as chickens performing activities they only do shortly before entering their coop for the night.

Fortunately, everyone’s going to have plenty time to prepare for the 2024 eclipse. Starting scheduling those vacation days and lining up your favorite place to watch the sky.

And until then, you can learn nearly everything you need to know about this cosmological event – from the proper eye protection to simulated views of the eclipse for each impacted city – at www.eclipse2024.org.

Konner Shelton of De Queen shots perfect score at AYSSP regionals    5/27/2021

Konnor Shelton captain of the senior trap shooting team for First Christian Church shot a perfect score of 50/50 at the regional conference in Jacksonville Arkansas on Saturday May 22 which secured him a trip back to Jacksonville on June 5 to compete in the state tournament for top shot. (Photo submitted by Windee Hall)

JACKSONVILLE – One young man from De Queen will be heading to the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program state tournament next month after shooting a perfect score at the regional conference.

Konnor Shelton, captain of the senior trap shooting team for First Christian Church of De Queen, shot a flawless 50/50 at the regional qualifiers in Jacksonville last Saturday, May 22. The perfect score secured him a trip back to Jacksonville on June 5 to compete in the state tournament for Arkansas top youth shot.

Jared Day of Ashdown will also be invited to participate in the Champion of Champions shootoff at the AYSSP State Championships next weekend. Three individual shooters shot perfect 25’s for the event as well: Carter Ewing of Nashville, Grayson Elam of Texarkana and Judd Kennemore of Ashdown. They too will compete in the Champion of Champions shootoff.

Nashville team shooters went on to post an impressive 231 of 250 clays to take first place in the senior division. Nashville also posted the top score in the junior division, easily outpacing the competition by 13 clays in their Friday competition.

The final rounds of the state championship and third-place match, as well as the Champion of Champions shootoff to follow, will be carried June 4-5 on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission YouTube channel with Trey Reid, host of “Arkansas Wildlife,” handling the “clay-by-clay” commentary.

COVID-19 vaccination clinics in De Queen, Ashdown today    5/27/2021

COVID-19 vaccination clinics are scheduled in both De Queen and Ashdown today.

The Little River County Health Unit will host its COVID-19 vaccination clinic today from 8 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.

The vaccine provided at this event will be the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vaccine is licensed to be given to anyone 18 years of age or older.

For more information call (870) 898-3831.

A community COVID-19 vaccination clinic is also planned for today at the Sevier County Health Unit.

The clinic will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  No appointment is necessary.

The Sevier County Health Unit is located at 304 N 4th Street in De Queen.

There is no out-of-pocket expense for the vaccine. People should bring their insurance cards if they have one. If they do not have insurance, the vaccine will still be available at no charge.

Additional ADH clinics will be held weekly in four select local health units including in Sevier and Little River Counties. Information on additional clinics is posted on the ADH COVID-19 vaccine clinics webpage at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

On Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a new incentive program to encourage Arkansans who haven’t yet to go ahead and receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. Starting this week anyone who receives their COVID-19 vaccine can receive either a $20 Arkansas Lottery Commission scratchoff ticket or a $20 gift card to the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. This gift card can be redeemed for an Arkansas fishing or hunting license.

Arkansans can receive their scratchoff ticket or gift card by obtaining their vaccine at a local Arkansas Department of Health unit. One is located in each county in Arkansas. You can also take your card to one of these health units to redeem the incentive if you’ve received your shot at another location following the May 25 announcement.

CREATE BRIDGES team provides training videos for local business owners    5/27/2021

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is working to help retail and tourism businesses financially recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

CREATE BRIDGES, an economic development pilot program from the Division of Agriculture, has created a series of free instructional videos designed to help businesses boost sales, improve communication with customers and take advantage of free advertising opportunities. The CREATE BRIDGES program has put a particular focus on highlighting opportunities and development programs in Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties.

The videos offer demonstrations of popular online tools, including Google My Business, Facebook, TripAdvisor and Yelp. The videos also teach participants how to claim businesses, create profiles and manage accounts for each.

Tiffany Maurer, director of economic development for Sevier County, explained thattThe video series offered through CREATE BRIDGES seeks to help business owners take control of their online marketing and engagement. She added the series is designed for business owners who don’t have the time to sit through lengthy seminars.

CREATE BRIDGES is an acronym for “Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism and Entertainment by Building Rural Innovations and Developing Growth Economies.”

The videos, which are less than 10 minutes each, can be viewed atwww.uaex.uada.edu/createbridgesresources.

The resource library also features a recorded webinar explaining how to list local businesses on theArkansas.com tourism website. This free listing gives small business owners exposure to the more three million annual visitors to the state’s tourism website.

The Online Customer Engagement and Commerce Video Series is one of seven video series CREATE BRIDGES offers through its website: www.uaex.uada.edu/createbridgesresources.

Memorial Day fundraiser set for Preston Miles    5/27/2021

GRANNIS – A benefit dinner and rodeo will be held on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, to help Preston Miles cover medical expenses.

The event will begin on Memorial Day at 1 p.m. at the Grannis Rodeo area. The event will include a benefit chicken dinner by donation, a silent auction, bull riding and barrel racing. Funds will go to Miles, who has had a kidney transplant that has led to some complications and hospital stays. Organizers say the community is pulling together this benefit to help the family with the unexpected days off work, hospital bills and travel expenses.

Local Farm Bureau Federation donates feral hog trap for pilot program in Sevier County     5/26/2021

Tuesday, the Sevier County Farm Bureau Federation donated a video-equipped, remote-operated feral hog trap for use through a NRCS pilot trapping program. The program offers hog trapping services at no cost to landowners in Sevier County. Given the time it takes to successfully bait and trap large numbers of feral hogs, this additional unit will significantly boost the program’s effort. Until then it possessed just two traps.
For more information on the program and to sign up, call 870-584-3111.
Pictured from left to right are Robin Stacey of the NRCS, program trapper Steven Pinkerton, Sevier County Farm Bureau Federation President Bruce Jackson, program trapper Jackson Lee and Allen Stark, manager of the De Queen Farm Bureau office.

DE QUEEN – Efforts to reduce the local feral hog population received a boost this week thanks to a donation by the Sevier County Farm Bureau Federation.

The organization provided a remote-controlled, video-equipped feral hog trap to the Sevier County Natural Resources Conservation Service for use through its new feral hog trapping pilot program. The program currently operates two traps with the use of a third through Sevier County Extension Agent Rex Herring. The donation from the local Farm Bureau Federation however provides trappers with the NRCS office the opportunity to expand their efforts.
Steve Pinkerton, one of the trappers hired by the NRCS to operate in Sevier County, said the new trap will allow the group to catch and eradicate more feral hogs.
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The feral hog trapping pilot program has been operating in Sevier County for approximately six months. Through the program, local landowners can partner with the NRCS to set up hog traps on their property. The program is available at no cost to landowners. The NRCS office in De Queen received a portion of a $1.4 million federal grant to bring the program to Sevier, Hempstead and Howard Counties. The pilot program includes personnel, equipment and tactics aimed at helping local property owners combat the scourge of feral hogs. The program has hired a total of seven trappers to assist with the eradication effort.
The standard protocol when attempting to trap hogs is to set up the trap in a problem area identified by a landowner. The trap will be installed slowly and in stages in order to acclimate the hogs to its presence. Bait is then added around and inside the trap. Using video surveillance and a remote-controlled gate, the trap is shut when the greatest number of hogs are inside. Pinkerton said it’s an effective tactic but also one that takes time to do right. With the new trap donated by the Sevier County Farm Bureau Federation, NRCS trappers can expand their efforts by a third.
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Bruce Jackson, president of the Sevier County Farm Bureau Federation, said the video-equipped, remote-controlled trap cost around $8,000. Jackson said the organization decided on this donation after hearing from landowners who saw an improvement in their feral hog problem after partnering with the NRCS trapping program.
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Jackson said hog trapping efforts like the one through NRCS doesn’t just benefit landowners. Given the environmental destruction caused by feral hogs, it’s in the interest of any outdoors enthusiast to see feral hog populations reduced.
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The NRCS office continues to accept requests for its trapping services from landowners in Sevier County. And with the new trap in its arsenal, organizers say they are ready to trap even more feral hogs in the area.
Pinkerton stresses the program is completely free and all landowners have to do is call to be put on the schedule.
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For more information contact the NRCS office in De Queen by calling 584-3111.

Washington man travels 2,000 miles to Crater of Diamonds State Park to build perfect engagement ring     5/26/2021

MURFREESBORO – It’s thrilling when hard work pays off. For years, 26-year-old Christian Liden, of Poulsbo, Wash., has wanted to find the raw materials to make his own engagement ring. He started by panning for gold around his home state. After five years, he had accumulated enough for the ring. Liden recently embarked on a mining excursion that led him across the country to Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park to collect gemstones for his creation.

Liden and a longtime friend left Washington on May 1. They built their own mining equipment to search with and tested it at a Montana sapphire mine along the way. The friends arrived at Arkansas’s diamond site late on Friday, May 7. “We spent about an hour in the field that afternoon and returned early the next morning to mine all day,” Liden said.

On his third day at the Crater of Diamonds, Liden was wet sifting when he finally spotted what he had traveled more than 2,000 miles in search of. “I saw it shining as soon as I turned the screen over and immediately knew it was a diamond. I was shaking so bad, I asked my buddy to grab it out of the gravel for me!” Liden placed the gem in a plastic bag and carried it to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where staff confirmed he had found a large, yellow diamond.

“I love hearing each story of how a visitor to Crater of Diamonds State Park finds a significant diamond,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. “It’s a moment they’ll never forget, and it’s always exciting that our park gets to be a part of that.”

Weighing 2.20 carats, Liden’s diamond is the largest found at the park since last October, when a visitor from Fayetteville, Ark. discovered a 4.49-carat yellow diamond. He found it in dirt from the West Drain of the park’s 37.5-acre diamond search area, the surface of an ancient, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe.

According to Assistant Superintendent Dru Edmonds, “Mr. Liden’s diamond is light yellow, with a triangular shape and a sparkling, metallic luster. Like most diamonds from the park, it contains a few inclusions, making it one-of-a-kind.”

“As beautiful as this diamond is, I think the best part is the story behind it,” Edmonds continued. “Since the eighth grade, Mr. Liden has dreamed of creating a special ring for his future wife, with stones and gold he mined, himself. And now he can make that dream come true!”

Though he’s found other gemstones, Liden was surprised by his success at the Crater of Diamonds. “I was just hoping to find a couple smaller stones and had planned to buy a center stone later, but that won’t be needed now!”

After leaving the Crater of Diamonds, Liden plans to mine for opals in Nevada before returning home. Once he proposes, Liden says he wants to design an engagement ring with his bride-to-be using his diamond and other gemstones collected along his cross-country mining quest.

Finders of large Crater diamonds often choose to name their gems. Liden has named his diamond the Washington Sunshine, “because it’s got a nice, light yellow color, just like sunlight in Washington.”

As of this publication, 121 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2021, weighing more than 20 carats. An average of one to two diamonds are found by park visitors each day.

Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three colors found at Crater of Diamonds State Park are white, brown, and yellow, in that order.

Admission to the park’s diamond search area is currently limited to 1,500 tickets per day. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance at CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com, to ensure access.

Tyson Foods establishes $2,500 scholarship at UA Cossatot     5/26/2021

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot Foundation recently received a $2,500 donation from Tyson Foods to establish the Tyson Technical Maintenance Scholarship.

The scholarship awards one student $2,500 who is in the Industrial Maintenance Program at UA Cossatot. This scholarship application will open in the summer and the recipient will be selected by the UA Cossatot Scholarship Committee for the fall 2021 semester.

UA Cossatot’s Director of Development, Dustin Roberts, said the scholarship comes is in addition to valuable equipment donated by Tyson’s to the colelge’s Industrial Maintenance program on the Lockesburg Campus. Tyson Foods was also the headline sponsor for UA Cossatot’s Fiesta Fest, which is held annually in part to raise scholarship funds for area students.

For more information on establishing a scholarship with the UA Cossatot Foundation, contact Dustin Roberts at 870-584-1172 or droberts@cccua.edu.

May 31 is deadline for Arkansas Century Farm program     5/26/2021

The deadline is nearing to submit applications through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture for the 2021 Arkansas Century Farm program. Applications can be submitted through the end of the day on Monday, May 31.

The Arkansas Century Farm program recognizes Arkansas families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years. Online and printable applications are available at: agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/arkansas-century-farm-program/. There is no cost to apply.

In a press release Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said Arkansas Century Farm families have persevered challenges for at least ten decades, contributing greatly in making Arkansas agriculture the success story that it is today. As Arkansas’s largest industry, agriculture has an economic impact of over $21 billion annually and provides one of every six jobs in the state.

To qualify, Arkansas farms must meet the following criteria:

The same family must have owned the farm for 100 years by Dec. 31, 2021.

The line of ownership from the original settler or buyer may be through children, grandchildren, siblings, and nephews or nieces, including through marriage and adoption.

The farm must be at least ten acres of the original land acquisition and make a financial contribution to the overall farm income.

Qualifying Arkansas farms will receive a personalized Arkansas Century Farm certificate and metal sign listing the farm name and year established.

Arkansas is home to more than 42,300 farms, of which 96 percent are family owned and operated.  Since the Arkansas Century Farm program began in 2012, nearly 500 farms have been certified. The list of previously inducted Arkansas Century Farm families can be found at: agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/arkansas-century-farm-program/.

Contact Beth Moore at 501-539-4027 or email beth.moore@agriculture.arkansas.gov with questions. Applications must be received via email or postmarked on or before May 31, 2021 to be eligible for designation as a 2021 inductee.
SWREA CEO Dion Cooper speaks to De Queen Rotarians about internet expansion projects     5/25/2021

Dion Cooper, President and CEO of Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative, discusses the agency’s plan to develop a high-speed internet system in its service area. The five-year project aims to offer internet speeds starting at 100Mbs to its customers in Southwest Arkansas.

DE QUEEN – The next few years are going to bring a huge expansion of high-speed internet to residents of Southwest Arkansas.
Dion Cooper, president and CEO of Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative, spoke to the De Queen Rotary Club on Monday to describe the energy provider’s recent expansion into the broadband internet sector.

Cooper discussed the electric cooperative’s five-year, $151 million project to provide high-speed internet to its customers throughout Southwest Arkansas. The project launched earlier this year in Howard County and began with the implementation of a smart electric grid. Cooper said coupling the cooperative’s energy distribution with high-speed internet will allow it to more remotely operate and maintain its electric services.

It was this potential that led Arkansas’ rural electric cooperatives to seek federal funding to expand into the internet sector. Cooper said the COVID-19 pandemic, however, proved the demand was there for expanded high-speed internet among its customers.
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Cooper said De Queen and Sevier County are in Phase II of the cooperative’s plans to expanded into the internet sector. He said rates will be low to provide customers of the cooperative with reliable but affordable high-speed internet. Those rates, he added, will be $49.95 for 100Mbs and $79.95 for one gigabyte per second. Those are fast speeds and at rates that will be highly competitive, Cooper added. Cooper said this internet will be backed by the standard Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative has long maintained in providing energy to the region.
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Cooper said more information on the cooperative’s internet project is available at www.fourstatesfiber.com. Customers of SWREA can sign up on the webpage to express their interest in becoming a future patron of the cooperative’s internet service. Cooper said signing up is not a commitment and only helps the cooperative gauge interest among potential future customers. He also encouraged everyone in Southwest Arkansas to perform and submit an internet speed test at their home to help demonstrate to state and federal officials how lacking this region is in terms of reliable, high-speed internet.

In all, the electric cooperatives of Arkansas received funding through a federal bid to develop high-speed, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) internet throughout the state.

The funding was held through a federal auction with bids by major internet service providers across the nation. The program is expected to provide high-speed broadband to more than 360,000 Arkansans in 200,000 unserved homes and businesses in Arkansas over the next decade. In total Arkansas is slated to receive more than $424 million through the Rural Digital Opportunity program.

Of that, Sevier County is slated to receive more than $2.5 million. The overwhelming majority of that will go to the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium. The Consortium includes the Southwest Arkansas Rural Electric Cooperative and plans to provide high-speed internet to more than 1,400 homes in Sevier County.

The Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium is also receiving $3 million to bring additional internet access to Little River County. The cooperative agency expects to bring high-speed internet to more than 1,600 homes and businesses in Little River.

Howard County is certainly not being left out of this new program. In total the county is set to receive more than $6.8 million in additional high-speed broadband projects. Again, the lion’s share – more than $6.7 million – will go to projects planned by the Rural Electric Cooperative.

Cooper said these projects are all designed to bring high-speed broadband to its customers throughout the region – something, Cooper added, which many people found extremely lacking during the demands of the past year under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sevier County Libraries to launch Summer Reading Program in June     5/25/2021

DE QUEEN – The Collaborative Summer Reading Program for all Sevier County Libraries will begin in June. Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher announced this year’s theme is Tails and Tales. The annual event will include contests, prizes, STEM-themed programs, games and activities, snacks and loads of fun for area youth.

The De Queen Branch Summer Reading Program will begin June 9 and will continue each Wednesday in June. Each day will include a special guest, Leon the Library Lion, and will be recorded and uploaded to the Sevier County Library’s Facebook page. Packets will be available to hand out to go with each day’s program for those kids who can’t make it in.

The Horatio Library will host its Summer Reading Program June 5, 12, 19 and 26. The event will be held each of those days at 10 a.m.

The dates for the Lockesburg Library’s Summer Reading Programs are Saturday June 12, 19, 26, July 10 and 17 at 10 a.m. There will again this year be a prize incentive Fun Jar. Each young patron will read books to earn a chance to place their names in the Fun Jar to be eligible to win a prize. For more information, call Wendy Clay at 289-2233.

De Queen librarians are also reminding patrons of the library’s new Garden Seed Exchange. Organizers say this will be a fun way to build a community around gardening information, planting and sharing. Garden seed swapping helps everyone become more self-sufficient. Gardening is also a great way to reduce stress and a great activity to pick up at any age. The De Queen Branch Library is the checkout station for the seeds. Each patron can pick out five seed packets of their choice every two weeks. Once a patron’s crops are over for the season the library encourages them to swap seeds with a friend (if desired) and donate seeds back to the De Queen Branch Library.

Those interested in participating are encouraged to collect new seeds from their harvest in the fall and donate them back to the library for next year.

The library received the packet of seeds through a donation by Sevier County Farmer’s COOP and Bailey’s.

For more information, you can call Angela with the Farmer’s Market at 870-582-2903 or the De Queen Branch Library 870-584-4364. You can also visit their Facebook pages for more information.

Also at the library, Catherine Smith is teaching a basic beginner “Crochet Class.” The class is FREE to the public and is held every Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Aubrey Seymour receives state 4-H scholarship     5/25/2021

Aubrey Seymour

DE QUEEN – Aubrey Seymour, a 2021 graduate of De Queen High School, is one of just a handful of students across the state to receive a college scholarship this year through the statewide 4-H organization.

Aubrey, who serves as vice-president of the Ouachita District of Arkansas 4-H, will receive the Raymond Cox $500 scholarship. Aubrey has been a member of 4-H for over a decade.

In all, the Arkansas 4-H Foundation awarded nearly $33,000 in college scholarships to 28 high school seniors in 17 counties. State 4-H leaders said recipients should be proud of the scholarships they received as the application process is highly competitive.

Arkansas 4-H is the youth development program conducted by the University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service and offers programs for youth ages 5-19 in every county in Arkansas.

The Arkansas 4-H Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to supporting Arkansas 4-H youth since 1951. To learn more, visit www.arkansas4hfoundation.org.

To learn about Arkansas 4-H, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent. That number is 584-3013 in Sevier County. You can also visit http://www.uaex.uada.edu/counties, or visit Arkansas 4-H online at http://uaex.uada.edu/4h-youth/.

DHS trap shooting team doesn’t make state but still has best season ever     5/25/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School’s new trap shooting team didn’t perform well enough to qualify at state but nonetheless gave a good showing at the regional competition.

Coach Dennis Chaney said the majority of the team’s competitors shot their best round of the year at the regional qualifier. In total, the team shot a score of 206 – the best, Chaney added, in the team’s short history.

The final score was just 11 points short of qualifying the Leopards for the state trap shooting competition.

Chaney said he’s hopeful for a state qualification next year as no members of the team are seniors so all will be returning to compete again next year.

Out of a perfect score of 50, Leopard Jafet Sotelo was the team’s most valuable shooter with a score of 47. Steven Peppers was just under with 46 and J.D. Brinkley with 45.

AHS students take home medals after Skills USA state competition     5/25/2021

The Ashdown High School SkillsUSA Officers placed in the top three at the 2021 Arkansas SkillsUSA State Competition and Conference this spring. Pictured from left to right are AHS Principal Kay York Reagan Burden, Sara Huddleston, Bannon Price, Chloe Silva, Addison Smedley and Ashdown Schools Superintendent Casey Nichols.

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown High School SkillsUSA Officers placed in the top three at the 2021 Arkansas SkillsUSA State Competition and Conference this spring. Two Ashdown students, Chloe Silva and Reagan Burden, participated in the opening and closing ceremony for this year’s conference as Arkansas SkillsUSA State Officers.

AHS SkillsUSA students received a number of medals in the scheduled competitions:

Sara Huddleston received the Silver Medal in the Job Interview competition; Reagan Burden took the Silver Medal in the Health Occupation Professional Portfolio category; Chloe Silva got the Gold Medal for Outstanding Chapter

Bannon Price and and Addison Smedley received Gold Medal for Outstanding Chapter.

AHS Skills USA Advisor Amy Silva said she and the district are proud of each of the competing students for their hard work and dedication, especially as they conquered challenges and roadblocks brought about by the current global pandemic. She said the district looks forward to the opportunity to award them with their earned medals in the near future.

Chloe Silva, Addison Smedley, and Bannon Price have been invited to represent the state of Arkansas at the 2021 National SkillsUSA Competition and Conference which will be held virtually this year after placing first in the state for Outstanding Chapter.

31st Annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been postponed   05/25/21
DE QUEEN – This weekend’s 31st Annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been postponed – but fortunately, this year, not because of COVID-19.
Officials with the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce made the decision Sunday to move the tournament back by a week due to lake levels at De Queen, Dierks and Gillham. An extremely wet May has meant all three lakes are above normal elevation and some of the traditional boat landings are completely underwater. And forecasters are calling for plenty more rain this week.
Instead of this Saturday, the bass tournament will now be held June 5. Organizers hope this will allow enough time for clear weather to move in and lake levels to fall closer to normal levels.
Registration continues is continuing for this year’s Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. on June 5. Early registration is $45 per person. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.
Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.
Prizes include $1,500 for catching the biggest bass, $1,000 for second place and so on through fifth place. Prizes are awarded hourly as well for a total of around $10,000 in prize money at this year’s tournament.
This year the chamber is offering a registration bundle to participants. For $65, anglers can cover their registration fee and receive a tournament cap. Wear your hat at hourly weigh-ins and, if your catch takes first place that hour, you’ll receive an extra $50.
COVID-19 will still have some impact on this year’s tournament. Chamber officials said no award ceremony will be held due to the pandemic. All winners will receive prize money through the mail.
For more information, contact Greg Ray at 642-2425 or the Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3225.
Over 130 people participate in Sevier County Chamber cleanup event     5/24/2021
DE QUEEN – Over 100 people turned out Saturday morning to help pick up trash during a litter cleanup event organized by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.
Officials said more than 130 people in all came out to pick up litter between Gillham and Ben Lomond. Over 292 bags of trash were collected from around De Queen, Lockesburg, Horatio and Gillham areas.
Those participating in the cleanup event included both youth and adults from around the county. Food was provided to participants of the cleanup project.
Officials with the chamber of commerce said the event was held to get the county looking as good as possible before the Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. The tournament has been postponed until June 5 due to high water levels at the three lake locations as well as additional rain expected this week.
The chamber gave a special mention to board member Melinda Taggart for heading the project as well as to the cooks and local businesses who supported the cleanup day. Chamber officials also thanked the amazing group of volunteers who stepped up to pick up Sevier County.
Horatio School District to offer free meals to all students this summer    5/24/2021
HORATIO – Horatio families who are facing food insecurity will get a little help for their children through a summer meal program offered by the Horatio School District.

The Summer Meal Program will provide meals to Horatio students throughout June and July. Program dates include June 14-17, June 21-24, July 12-15 and July 19-22. Families can come by each of those days between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to pick up meals for their children.

All students aged 18 and under are eligible and welcomed to receive meals. For more information contact the Horatio School Distarct at 832-1940.

Longstanding UA Cossatot employees retire, honored during reception    5/24/2021

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot hosted a retirement reception this to send off a a number of longstanding, popular and well-known employees.

The reception was held May 13 at the UA Cossatot Bank of Lockesburg Historic Gymnasium to honor in total five retiring employees: Michael Wright, Christine Vertiz-Atkins, Steve McJunkins, Sonya Robinson, and Mark Kutak.

Vice-Chancellor of Academics, Dr. Ashley Aylett said the college was extremely fortunate to have so many long-tenured employees.

Michael Wright, Math Instructor, was hired on May 19, 1986. Wright always carried a deep compassion for math giving him the ability to teach a subject many honestly despise. College officials said Michael not only taught math but also made a difference in each student’s life.

Christine Atkins, Testing Center Coordinator, was hired on October 27, 1998. Customer service and trying to reduce the stress of the testing experience for students was at the center of everything Christine did, the college said.

Steve McJunkins, Division Chair for Skilled and Technical Programs and most recently YouthBuild Instructor was hired on August 18, 1999. College officials said McJunkins was instrumental in building UA Cossatot’s Skilled and Technical programs, especially the Lockesburg Industrial Maintenance Institute. Steve also spent a year sharing his knowledge from many years in the construction industry to establish the newly-founded YouthBuild program.

Sonya Robinson, Psychology Instructor, was hired on January 1, 1996. There’s not a student that failed to enjoy Mrs. Robinson’s Psychology courses, something I can attest to from personal experience.

And finally, but certainly not last, Mark Kutak, Automotive and Diesel Instructor, is also retiring. He was hired on August 8, 2006. After teaching Automotive Services for many years, Kutak saw a need for Diesel Technology and led the development of this program at UA Cossatot. Kutak was arguably one of the most popular and well-liked instructors at the college, always carrying a positive attitude and a deep passion for education.

Arkansas Rent Relief program seeks to help renters, landlords    5/24/2021

State officials are reminding Arkansans struggling to meet their bills under the current pandemic of a new program that could help them pay their rent and utility costs.

The Arkansas Rent Relief Program offers financial help to pay overdue and upcoming rent and utilities for eligible Arkansas renters. Landlords who have tenants unable to pay their rent because of lost income or the COVID-10 pandemic also may apply.

The state of Arkansas has $173 million of federal funding for the Arkansas Rent Relief Program. Once an application is approved, money would go directly to landlords and utility companies.

The program covers overdue rent plus up to 5 percent of late fees dating back to April 1, 2020. It also covers overdue utility bills for gas, water, and electricity. This program does not cover overdue phone or internet bills.

Future rent owed through December 31, 2021, is also covered. Renters can apply for up to three months of future rent at a time.

You may qualify for help paying your rent and utilities if:

  • Someone in your home qualifies for unemployment benefits
  • You are also eligible if your household income decreased during the pandemic OR
  • Someone in your home suffered significant financial hardship due to the pandemic including losing a job or incurring extensive medical bills).
  • You must also be able to meet income eligibility based on the residing county and the number of people in your home.

More information and a complete list of required documents to apply can be found on the DHS website www.ar.gov/rentrelief.

Call 855.RENTARK (855.736.8275) if you need help submitting your application or have questions. Representatives are available Monday – Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. DHS also has partnered with community organizations statewide that can help you submit your application.

More COVID vaccine clinics this Thursday in De Queen and Ashdown    5/24/2021

The Little River County Health Unit will host an additional COVID-19 vaccination clinic this Thursday, May 27.

The vaccine provided at this event will be the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vaccine is licensed to be given to anyone 18 years of age or older.

For more information call (870) 898-3831.

A community COVID-19 vaccination clinic is also planned for Thursday at the Sevier County Health Unit.

The clinic will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  No appointment is necessary.

There is no out-of-pocket expense for the vaccine. People should bring their insurance cards if they have one. If they do not have insurance, the vaccine will still be available at no charge.

The Sevier County Health Unit is located at 304 N 4th Street in De Queen.

Additional ADH clinics will be held weekly in four select local health units including in Sevier and Little River Counties. Information on additional clinics is posted on the ADH COVID-19 vaccine clinics webpage at www.healthy.arkansas.gov

Cossatot, Oak Hill VFDs receive wildfire suppression kits    5/24/2021

DE QUEEN – Two local fire departments are receiving some state assistance to help them battle wildfires in the future.

The Rural Fire Protection program, managed by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, received nearly $300,000 to purchase and distribute Wildfire Suppression Kits to rural volunteer fire departments across the state. The money was awarded as part of the Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant from the United States Forest Service.

Local fire departments receiving these kits included Cossatot Volunteer Fire Department in Sevier County and Oak Hill Volunteer Fire Department in Little River County.

Volunteer fire departments such as Cossatot and Oak Hill are the primary partner of Forestry Division crews in wildfire response and suppression, according to the state forestry division. These fire departments however are often in need of the specialized equipment and gear necessary to safely do their job in the event of a wildfire. The equipment distributed this year in the Wildfire Suppression Kits included lightweight wildfire-resistant coveralls and gloves, hand rakes, back-pack water pumps, and leaf blowers.

Any volunteer fire department interested in participating in the Wildfire Suppression Kit program must submit an application, which is then scored according to specific criteria including fire district population, the size of the response area, wildfire equipment response needs, and other factors. The next application period for the Wildfire Suppression Kit program is expected to begin August 2021.

Fire Departments should receive an application by mail, or they can be found atwww.agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/rural-fire-protection-program/ when the application period opens. Fire Departments may contact Kathryn Mahan-Hooten at kathryn.mahan@agriculture.arkansas.gov or (501) 679-3183 with questions regarding the application

More rain expected this week and into Memorial Day weekend    5/24/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s been difficult to do much in May without having to work around all the rain that’s fallen this month. According to our rain gauge here at KDQN Studios in De Queen, we’ve received over eight inches of rain this month. And forecasters say there’s plenty more coming this week.

The National Weather Service is calling for rain chances everyday this week. Chances aren’t too great but increase into the week with a 60 percent chance Wednesday and 50 percent on Thursday.

Unfortunately, forecasters are currently a predicting a good chance for more rain throughout the weekend with 40 percent chances on Friday and Saturday.

Arkansas to end current COVID-19 health emergency on May 31    5/24/2021

The emergency health order governing the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will end this month.

During a press conference held Thursday morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the state will end the emergency health declaration on May 31. The declaration has been effect since the pandemic first entered Arkansas over a year ago. Hutchinson cited the decline in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations as justification for the end of the health emergency. He added the current situation does not warrant emergency executive measures.

Despite this announcement, Hutchinson stressed the pandemic is still present in Arkansas. Deaths, although low, continue to increase every day and new cases of COVID-19 are still being reported across the state. Hutchinson said all Arkansans should continue to be cautious to help ensure the end of the current pandemic. As part of this focus Hutchinson said the state will spend millions on new advertising to highlight the safety and effectiveness of the available vaccines, especially among Arkansas’ minority populations.

Part of the effort to bring an end to COVID-19, Hutchinson said, is encouraging every eligible Arkansan to get one of the available vaccines. Currently all Arkansans aged 12 and up are able to receive a vaccine.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported zero COVID-related deaths on Wednesday – the latest data available as of the time of this report. Total cases saw a small increase of 244 for a cumulative statewide total of 339,000 COVID-19 transmissions since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations currently number 188.

Click-It-Or-Ticket campaign starts today    5/24/2021

State and local law enforcement officers across Arkansas are sending a reminder that drivers who aren’t already in the habit of using a seat belt need to start.  Without it, drivers can be stopped and ticketed. Much worse, someone not buckled-up stands a greater chance of losing their life in a traffic crash.

Starting today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement operation gets underway.  State troopers, local police officers and sheriff’s deputies will heighten their vigilance to be on the lookout for seat belt violators.  The operation coincides with the Memorial Day holiday and runs May 24 through June 6.

Arkansas law enforcement officers say they see firsthand what happens when someone involved in a traffic crash isn’t wearing a seat belt.  During the Click It or Ticket campaign, law enforcement officers nationwide will be working overtime to ensure the message gets out to drivers and their passengers.

According to the 2019 records from NHTSA, 9,466 drivers and passengers who were unbuckled died in crashes nationwide.  During the same year, 55% of passenger vehicle occupants involved in crashes were not wearing seat belts and lost their lives during nighttime hours. As a result, law enforcement authorities participating in the Click It or Ticket operation will be placing an emphasis on increased patrols during the evening hours.

State troopers and local officers and deputies say will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt enforcement, writing citations day and night.

Arkansas state law requires all front seat passengers, not just drivers, to be properly buckled up.  The state law also requires all children less than 15 years of age to be properly secured in the vehicle.  Children less than 6 years of age and weighing less than 60 pounds should be restrained in a child passenger safety seat.  Additionally, drivers with restricted licenses and all occupants in the vehicle must be properly buckled up.

Southwest Arkansas under flash flood watch through Thursday night     5/20/2021

DE QUEEN – That flash flood watch that’s been with us the last couple of days? Well, looks like it’s going to stick around a little longer.

After expecting the watch to expire this morning, forecasters with the National Weather Service have now extended that watch through seven o’clock tonight.

Southwest Arkansas, Southeast Oklahoma and Northeast Texas have been pelted with rain this week, already receiving several inches and more and some areas. There’s little sign of that rain relenting today, with another 80 percent chance of showers today. Those chances are settling down a bit tomorrow with a little lower chance of rain and then just 20 percent Saturday and Saturday night.

If you’re starting to forget what the sun looks like after this week, there’s hope for mostly clear skies on Sunday. The rain has helped keep temperatures pretty mild this week. With chances diminishing into next week we can expect those daily highs to start rising.

Gov. Hutchinson appoints Evelyn Keels to Sevier County Quorum Court     5/20/2021

LITTLE ROCK – Sevier County has a new Justice of the Peace on its quorum court. That is, at least until her appoint ends next year.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson officially announced the appointment of Evelyn Keels to the Sevier County Quorum Court in a press release issued Wednesday afternoon. Mrs. Keels is one of a number of political appointments made by the governor this year.

Mrs. Keels will serve as the District 2 Justice of the Peace for Sevier County – a perfect fit, given the seat was formerly held by her late husband, Charles Keels. Keels was a long-serving Justice of the Peace for Sevier County who passed away last September.

As an appointee to the quorum court, and not directly elected, Mrs. Keels will only be able to serve through Dec. 31, 2022. She will not be able to seek election to the position following the end of her appointment period.

Mrs. Keels attended the Sevier County Quorum Court meeting held earlier this month. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said he was excited to see her on the board and added he couldn’t have selected a better person to complete Mr. Charles Keels’ term.

A COVID-19 walk-in clinic will be held in De Queen this today at the Sevier County Health Unit. That event will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through 2 p.m. No appointment is needed. Call 642-2535 for more information.

COVID-19 clinic in De Queen today     5/20/2021

DE QUEEN – A COVID-19 walk-in clinic will be held in De Queen this today at the Sevier County Health Unit. That event will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through 2 p.m. No appointment is needed. Call 642-2535 for more information.

Additional ADH clinics will be held weekly in four select local health units. Information on additional clinics is posted on the ADH COVID-19 vaccine clinics webpage.

Doses will be available to those who are currently eligible to receive a vaccine in Arkansas, which includes Arkansans aged 16 and older. However, these clinics will administer only the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, so these clinics will only be able to provide vaccinations to those 18 years and older. Those who are 16-17 years old are advised to only receive the Pfizer vaccine at this time. To find out more information about vaccine availability in your area, visit the ADH website or call 1-800-985-6030.

There is no out-of-pocket expense for the vaccine. People should bring their insurance cards if they have one. If they do not have insurance, the vaccine will still be available at no charge.

De Queen Lions Club Youth Fishing Derby is June 26     5/20/2021

Mark your calendars: the De Queen Lions Club’s annual Youth Fishing Derby is back on for 2021.

The fishing event will be held Saturday, June 26 at De Queen Lake. Registration will begin that morning at 8:30 a.m. at the De Queen Lake Spillway.

The event will start at 9 a.m. and end at 11 that morning. The Fishing Derby is being hosted by the De Queen Lions Club for all area youth aged 15 and younger.

There is a limit of one fishing rod per youth and all youth must be accompanied by an adult. The first 100 contestants registered will receive a t-shirt. All Arkansas Game & Fish rules will apply.

There is no cost or fishing license required for this event. The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission will provide catfish for the derby.

Statewide “Click-It-Or-Ticket” campaign kicks off next week     5/20/2021

State and local law enforcement officers across Arkansas are sending a reminder that drivers who aren’t already in the habit of using a seat belt need to start.  Without it, drivers can be stopped and ticketed. Much worse, someone not buckled-up stands a greater chance of losing their life in a traffic crash.

Starting next week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement operation gets underway.  State troopers, local police officers and sheriff’s deputies will heighten their vigilance to be on the lookout for seat belt violators.  The operation coincides with the Memorial Day holiday and runs May 24 through June 6.

Arkansas law enforcement officers say they see firsthand what happens when someone involved in a traffic crash isn’t wearing a seat belt.  During the Click It or Ticket campaign, law enforcement officers nationwide will be working overtime to ensure the message gets out to drivers and their passengers.

According to the 2019 records from NHTSA, 9,466 drivers and passengers who were unbuckled died in crashes nationwide.  During the same year, 55% of passenger vehicle occupants involved in crashes were not wearing seat belts and lost their lives during nighttime hours. As a result, law enforcement authorities participating in the Click It or Ticket operation will be placing an emphasis on increased patrols during the evening hours.

State troopers and local officers and deputies say will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt enforcement, writing citations day and night.

Arkansas state law requires all front seat passengers, not just drivers, to be properly buckled up.  The state law also requires all children less than 15 years of age to be properly secured in the vehicle.  Children less than 6 years of age and weighing less than 60 pounds should be restrained in a child passenger safety seat.  Additionally, drivers with restricted licenses and all occupants in the vehicle must be properly buckled up.

AGFC notes decline in turkey harvest, rise in baiting violations     5/20/2021

Arkansas hunters harvested and checked 7,010 eastern wild turkeys during the 2021 turkey season, which concluded May 9. While the harvest showed a similar decrease to that of surrounding states, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists are hopeful for the future.

It was a decline expected this year. With conservative season dates and new regulations in place to spread hunting pressure, AGFC officials tried to give turkeys as much of a chance as they could to breed and create future hunting opportunities while maintaining a reasonably good hunting experience.

The AGFC said poor reproduction two years ago, followed by an increase in harvest last year from increased participation related to COVID-19 may have added to the declining number of turkeys checked.

One increasing number that has wildlife biologists and wildlife enforcement officers concerned is the number of individuals caught baiting wild turkeys this year.

The AGFC reported one district that had more baiting sites to tend to than wthe agency had officers..

There’s more downside to baiting than unethical harvest and the opportunity to overharvest birds. Baiting carries with it some concerns with disease transmission as well as concerns with nest predation. Studies conducted on nest success in wild turkeys indicate that nests in close proximity to a baited area have higher rates of nest predation than those further from these sites. Raccoons, skunks and other nest predators attracted to the free meal at bait sites were able to more readily find nearby turkey nesting locations, wiping out the chance of a successful hatch.

The AGFC says catching turkey poachers is a particular point of focus with many officers.

Southwest Arkansas under flash flood watch through Thursday morning     5/19/2021

DE QUEEN – A flash flood watch remains in effect for Sevier County and the surrounding area following days of rain and more to come.
The watch will stay active through at least 7 a.m. Thursday morning. Those living in or traveling through flood prone areas should keep an eye on water levels and remember the mantra, Don’t Drown, Turn Around.
Southwest Arkansas was under a thunderstorm warning last night as a strong line of storms entered the area. However, we’ve received no reports of damage or widespread power outages. SWEPCO was reporting early Wednesday morning around 80 customers without power around Gillham.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service are calling for even more rain today and tomorrow, as if we haven’t had enough of the wet stuff by now. Rainfall predictions are 70 percent today and up to 80 percent tomorrow. Thursday and Friday are likely to be rainy as well but there is a chance to see some blue skies this weekend.

De Queen City Council discusses inclusive park project     5/19/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council met Tuesday evening to discuss a light agenda, including more discussion on a proposed inclusive playground at Herman Dierks Park.
De Queen Rotarians approached the city council at a meeting earlier this month to seek the city’s assistance in applying for a matching grant to build an inclusive playground at the park. This playground would be one designed for children with physical disabilities. That discussion was tabled until the council’s June 1 meeting due to disagreements on how much the city was expected to contribute to the project as opposed to the Rotary Club.
At that meeting several city councilors expressed their admiration for an inclusive playground at Herman Dierks Park but also concern over the estimated $300,000 price tag. Rotarians explained the city could apply for a 50/50 matching state grant to help fund the project but the club would likely only be able to provide $25,000 towards the project itself. So far the club has raised $7,000 for the inclusive playground.
City councilors also expressed concern that the majority of the financial costs of the Rotary Club’s proposed project would therefore be on the city, not the Club itself. Rotarians responded by stating the benefits the park would offer to local children with disabilities and its potential to draw new people to De Queen.
The city council returned to the proposed project briefly last night. With Parks Director Gaytha Bakenhus present, several members of the council said they were worried what the project’s final price tag would amount to given the spike in building material costs. Bakenhus said the estimate for a metal fence at Herman Dierks Park alone has risen over 30 percent due to the inflationary rise in material costs.
Alderman Jeff Holcombe said he worried the inclusive playground grant would commit the city to a project it may not be able to afford once work begins, given those rising costs.
“We may want something today but can’t afford it tomorrow,” he said.
Councilors and Mayor Jeff Brown then briefly discussed trying to incorporate all-inclusive playground equipment on a piece-by-piece basis over the long term improvement plans for Herman Dierks Park.
The city council is expected to return to the issue at its next meeting on June 1.
In other business, the city council approved a $324,000 payment to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission to payoff one of two bonds for the municipal wastewater treatment facility built in 2007. Brown said the payment will save the city $46,000 in interest and allow it to make additional payments to the second bond. He said the city is expected to payoff this bond around 15 years earlier than expected due to extra payments made since completion of the plant.
Finally, the council approved $17,000 to purchase a new drinking water filter for the city water plant. Water Superintendent Darren Higgins said this filter would replace a failing one not replaced since 1969.

Work days planned at local cemeteries     5/19/2021
The annual Crystal Hill Decoration Day at Wickes, traditionally held the fourth Sunday in May, will resume this year on May 23 with service at 11 a.m.
A potluck will be held at noon with singing in the afternoon. Everyone is urged to follow Covid precautionary guidelines.

Work days include Saturday, May 22, or whenever your schedule permits. Donations for upkeep to the buildings and cemetery grounds are appreciated and may be mailed to Sue Sullivan, 305 N. 6th St., DeQueen, AR 71832.

For more information, contact any board member including Dale or Jeannie White, Thomas Jenkins, Byron Sullivan or Larry Wilcher. You can also call (870) 784-3109.

Decoration Day at the Wrights Chapel Cemetery will be held Saturday, May 29.

The cemetery is located southeast of Lockesburg on Highway 317 South. There will be a short business meeting starting at 11 a.m. that morning, followed by a potluck lunch. The cemetery is supported by donations and all are appreciated. The mailing address is Wrights Chapel Cemetery, P.O. Box 261, Lockesburg, AR 71846.

Arkansans can start applying this week for a new rental assistance program that’s being provided by the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Arkansas launches new rent relief program     5/19/2021

The Arkansas Rent Relief Program will offer rental and utility aid assistance for both qualifying renters and landlords that were directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government awarded the state $173 million in aid to fund this program.

There are three main points of criteria for applicants.

The first is the loss of a job or significant source of income due to the pandemic.

The second is the inability to pay rent, along with overdue bills and/or an eviction notice.

The final criteria is that applicants would have to meet the income eligibility.

An applicant’s income has to fall at or below 80% of an area’s median income, which is tricky as it varies county to county.

Renters may be eligible for up to 15 months of rental assistance. This means the program can pay both overdue rent and future rent. For overdue rent, the program can pay up to 12 months back to April 1, 2020. When people apply for future rent, they can apply for up to three months at a time.

The money goes directly to landlords and utility companies.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services says the goal for the program is to ensure people that have a stable home, while assisting them to get back on their feet.

In a report from December 2020, the Arkansas DHS says that out of 403,000 rent-paying households, 19 percent weren’t caught up on payments.

Roughly a third of those renters weren’t confident that they’d have enough money to cover rent going in to the new year.

For more information, and to apply for the rental assistance program, visit www.ar.gov/rentrelief.

Online shopping scams on the rise in Arkansas     5/19/2021

State law enforcement officers are cautioning Arkansans when shopping online and on social media. Whether shopping through an online boutique or Facebook Marketplace, con artists will use every trick in the book to steal your money without delivering what you paid for or their merchandise may not look as promised.

There are a few easy tips, however, Arkansans can follow to help kep themselves safe while shopping online:

Look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar, and the abbreviation “https” in the web address to be sure information is secure and to help guard the security of your information as it is transmitted to a website. Be sure your browser has the most up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available.

Check the online merchant’s privacy policy before providing any personal financial information and determine how the information will be used or shared with others. Some websites’ disclosures are easier to find than others — look at the bottom of the home page, on order forms or in the “About” or “FAQs” sections of a site.

Read and understand return, refund and shipping policies before you make your purchase.

Pay by credit card, which is the most secure payment method. Under federal law, charges can be disputed and consumer liability for theft is limited so long as consumers promptly notify the bank or credit card issuer. Additionally, many credit card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the purchaser pays nothing if his or her credit card is stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases.

Keep personal information private. Do not disclose personal information – address, telephone number, Social Security number, bank account number or email address – unless you know who is collecting the information, why they are collecting it and how they will use it.

Be cautious when buying gifts from an online auction. Understand how the auction works and check the seller’s reputation before bidding. Always ask about terms of delivery and return options. Never wire money for the purchase; use some other form of payment.

Keep records of online transactions and check for emails from merchants. Merchants may email important information about purchases.

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visitArkansasAG.gov.

DEA raid Lansdell Family Clinic locations in De Queen, Dierks, Lockesburg and Texarkana     5/18/2021

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and supporting law enforcement agencies executed search warrants at six Lansdell Family Clinic Tuesday morning as part of an investigation into opioid prescriptions. Agents with the DEA spoke briefly during a press conference Tuesday morning but did not share specific details as the investigation is ongoing. Pictured at front are DEA Special Agents Jared Harper and Connie Overturn. In the back are an unnamed DEA agent and Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry. (KDQN staff photo)

DE QUEEN – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and supporting law enforcement agencies executed search warrants at six Lansdell Family Clinic Tuesday morning as part of an investigation into opioid prescriptions, according to federal authorities.
Raids were conducted by the DEA as well as other federal and local law enforcement agencies at Lansdell Clinics in De Queen, Dierks, Lockesburg and Texarkana. Local agencies involved in the investigation include the De Queen Police Department and Sevier County Sheriff’s Office.

DEA agents on scene at the De Queen Lansdell Clinic said the search warrant was executed Tuesday morning in response to suspected over-prescription of opioid medications through the clinic’s pharmacy. Agents said the investigation began at an undisclosed date due to complaints issued within the community.

Jared Harper, assistant special agent for the DEA’s Little Rock office, said the search warrant and investigation are being conducted as part of a nationwide law enforcement response to the opioid epidemic.

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Agents said no arrests have been made at this time. The investigation is pending and all clinics have been closed down for the day and patients rescheduled. Agents anticipated the clinics would reopen to patients on Wednesday.

A spokesperson with the DEA said more information would be made available as the investigation continues. Agents declined to comment if other area healthcare providers or pharmacies were included in the investigation.

Sevier County deputy brings swift and safe end to high-speed pursuit     5/18/2021

DE QUEEN – Deputies with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office were able to help Oklahoma authorities bring a swift and safe end to a high speed pursuit this past weekend.

According to a report released by the sheriff’s office, Deputy Greg Davignon was on patrol on Friday, May 14 when he was made aware of an active pursuit involving a stolen vehicle from Oklahoma. Dispatchers informed him the pursuit would soon enter Arkansas from McCurtain County.

Investigators from the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office stated the pursuit involved a suspect named James Rather who reportedly stole a Chevy pickup truck and was at that point actively fleeing Oklahoma law enforcement officers.

Davignon reported he was able to position himself in front of the pursuit and deploy a spike strip. The stolen vehicle then entered Arkansas and cross over the spike strip at around 90mph, disabling both front tires. The suspect’s vehicle then came to a stop.

Authorities report Rathers was then taken into custody without further incident and transported to the Sevier County Jail. The vehicle was recovered undamaged other than the two flat front tires.

School board elections are today     5/18/2021

ASHDOWN – Today is election day for Arkansas School Board elections.

The only area school board race this year is for Zone F in the Ashdown School District between incumbent Glenda Smedley and challenger Stephanie Ringgold.

For residents of Little River County, voting can be conducted at the Little River County Election Center on 349 North Third Street in Ashdown through 7:30 p.m.

A poll will be open in Ben Lomond today for residents of Sevier County who live within the Ashdown School District’s boundaries. This poll will be located in the Ben Lomond Community Building through 7:30 p.m. this evening.

De Queen Rotarians present annual Academic Awards     5/18/2021

DE QUEEN – The annual Rotary Academic Awards were held in May to honor the top academic achievers of the 2020-2021 school year at De Queen High School.

Presented by the De Queen Rotary Club, the Rotary Academic Awards recognize those students who earned the highest academic achievement within their classes at De Queen High School.

Recipients of this year’s awards include:

-Nevaeh Martin in English 10

-Sarah Trejo in Pre-AP English 10

-Jesus Marrufo in English 11

-Edith Hernandez in English 12

-Sydney Casteel in AP Language and Composition

-Sara Victoriano in Comp I

-Bridgette Ortiz in Comp II

-Sara Abril in AP Art

-Abraham Martinez in Geometry

-Pedro Sanchez in Algebra II

-Gunner Bradshaw in Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry

-Abigail Barker in College Algebra

-Kynnedi France in College Trigonometry

-Malloree Carlstead in Biology; Jasmin Cisneros in Chemistry

-Litzi Flores in Pre-AP Chemistry

-Belle Lindsey in Pre-AP Biology

-Allen Hong in AP Biology; Elise Dean in U.S. History

-Alexander Tavarez in World History

-Jorge Delgado in Spanish I

-Kane Faulkenberry in Spanish II

-Charles Wood in Spanish III

-Janae Tirado in Spanish IV

-and Luke Reed in AP U.S. History.

Southwest Arkansas gripped by severe storms in May, more likely to come     5/18/2021

April showers have brought May… showers. It’s been a stormy month already in Southwest Arkansas with plenty of rain and several storm fronts causing power outages and blocked roads due to storm debris. Forecasters with the Nationa Weather Service say this has already been the most active storm season since 2011.

Fortunately, no tornadoes have been reported in Southwest Arkansas so far this spring. The state of Arkansas averages 39 tornadoes per year according to data collected between 2000-2020. But, tornadoes aren’t the only thing to worry about when it comes to severe weather in Arkansas.

Straight-Line winds – winds being greater than 50mph pose a threat to limbs, trees, and specifically to mobile homes and can easily cause destruction equal to a tornado.

Hail, which even at just 1/2 inch in diameter or the size of a marble can cause extensive damage. The largest reported in Arkansas being in 2006 in White County just 2 miles North of Searcy where hail was recorded at a whopping 5 inches in diameter. That is roughly equivalent to the size of the average grapefruit.

Flash floods, while commonly overlooked, are responsible for more than 80 fatalities annually over the last 30 years and remain the #1 cause of death associated with thunderstorms. This being more fatalities annually on average then tornadoes and more than half occur in automobiles with people trying to drive through water. Due to this disturbing statistic the National Weather Service coined the phrase – Turn around don’t drown. 12 inches of water will float many vehicles and 2 feet of moving water can carry away most vehicles including SUV’s and pick-ups.

So, how prepared are you? Do you know the difference between a Watch & Warning? This one gets a lot of folks. A watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a particular severe weather hazard. A warning is issued when severe weather is imminent or occurring. So what should you do in the event a watch or warning is issued?

The National Weather Service advises the following during severe thunderstorm or tornado conditions:

Put as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Stay away from doors and windows.

Get down – Get down to the lowest floor possible. Basements are ideal during weather where tornadoes or high winds are likely.

Cover up – Protect yourself from flying debris in the event that wind begins throwing things around.

Remain calm – While easier said than done, keeping a calm demeanor can help you make important decisions in the moment that might save you or your loved ones lives.

While we see ourselves through the remainder of this severe weather season make sure you are prepared for what’s to come. We here at KDQN strive to keep the community informed during severe weather so make sure to tune in and stay up to date with the latest conditions for your area.

Arkansas Free Fishing Weekend is June 11-13     5/18/2021

One weekend each year the State of Arkansas hosts a free fishing weekend. This year, Free Fishing Weekend will fall on June 11, 12 and 13.

Residents and nonresidents may fish this weekend without fishing license or trout permits. This applies to the entire state of Arkansas. So if you’ve been considering a new hobby this is the weekend to try your luck in many of Arkansas fish filled waters. Regulations for waters still apply such as daily, slot, and length limits. If you decide hitting the water is for you you can purchase a Resident Fish License for $10.50 and a Trout permit for $10.00. That’s a cheap investment for a good time and a reason to make up some big stories.

An annual tradition sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and approved by Gov. Hutchinson, Free Fishing Weekend gives many people the opportunity to enjoy the amazing angling The Natural State has to offer.
De Queen man charged with negligent homicides has bond revoked after public intoxication arrest; civil lawsuit filed     5/17/2021
DE QUEEN – A De Queen man facing two counts of negligent homicide for his involvement in a deadly accident last year has had his bond revoked after he was charged with public intoxication in March.

According to court records, 25-year-old Hugo Hernandez of De Queen was arrested and charged with public intoxication in Hot Springs on March 28. Hernandez entered a plea of not guilty to the public intoxication charge during a hearing earlier this month.

Hernandez is also facing two counts of negligent homicide as well as driving while intoxicated and felony battery for his role in the accident that occurred on June 28 of last year.

Prosecutors with the Ninth West Judicial District allege Hernandez was responsible for the death of two people in that accident. Authorities claim he was driving while intoxicated when the accident occurred.

Hernandez was released on a $75,000 bond last October with the condition that he have no further arrests. Prosecutor Erin Hunter successfully petitioned the Sevier County Circuit Court to revoke his bond as Hernandez’s arrest for public intoxication was a clear violation of his bond conditions.

State police records show 22-year-old Bernard Edwards, Junior, of Fulton and an unidentified minor were killed in last year’s accident. Hernandez was not named in the original accident report as state police do not name minors or uninjured parties in those reports. Prosecutors are alleging however that Hernandez’s 2014 Chevy Silverado crossed the centerline on Highway 41 on June 28 and struck a 2003 Honda Civic with the minor and Edwards inside. Both the minor and Edwards were pronounced dead at the scene. Another passenger in the Civic was transported to a Texarkana hospital for treatment.

Hernandez was not injured in the accident. Hernandez was arrested after charges were formally filed following an investigation into the accident. He was charged with negligent homicide for the deaths of the minor and Edwards, felony battery for the injuries sustained to the other passenger, and driving while intoxicated.

Hernandez is now awaiting his next court appearance in the Sevier County Jail. His pre-trial hearing has been rescheduled to Sept. 30.

In addition, the victim’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against Hernandez and five other individuals who the family alleges served alcohol to Hernandez prior to the accident. The identities of the five individuals listed as defendants are not listed in the suit.

The family is asking for a jury trial in the civil lawsuit. The family said they are seeking a monetary judgment against Hernandez for both economic and non-economic damages they’ve suffered due to Edward’s death.

Leopards soccer team will compete for seventh state championship     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – A huge congratulations is in order for the De Queen Leopards high school soccer team, who are advancing to the Class 4A state soccer championship this upcoming weekend. The Leopards closed out the semifinals with a 2-1 win over Nashville Saturday afternoon.

That means the Leopards will go on to compete for their seventh state championship win this Saturday, May 22 against Valley View.

The Lady Leopards weren’t able to advance but nonetheless played a tough game against Harrison during Saturday’s semifinals, falling by just one point with a final score of 3-2. Congratulations to the Lady Leopards for this great season and with a final four finish.

The Leopards high school boys soccer team has won six state championships since the program was founded in 2008. The team plans to earn that seventh championship this weekend. The Leopards won four of those state championships back-to-back between 2009 and 2012.

This year’s season was a marked by a number of close but exciting games, including a nailbiter 1-0 win over Robinson which earned the Leopards the conference soccer tournament title. One of the big highlights of the season was the 7-0 win against the Mena Bearcats during the same tournament.

No doubt, De Queen fans are in for a great show at this weekend’s state championship tournament when the Leopards take on Valley View.

De Queen High School will say farewell to Class of 2021 during ceremony tonight     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – It is graduation day for the De Queen High School Class of 2021.

Fortunately, and unlike last year, De Queen seniors will not have to wait months to receive their diplomas. Last year the commencement ceremony had to be postponed until August due to COVID-19.

Tonight’s graduation ceremony is a go. Due to ongoing COVID-19 precautions, however, the ceremony will be split into three serves. The first will commence at 4 p.m., the third at 6 p.m. and the final ceremony at 8 p.m. All three ceremonies will take place in the Leopard Arena.

Graduates have received 10 tickets each to distribute to family and friends in order to following social distancing guidelines still in effect for school events.

The ceremony will also be recorded and viewable through DQTV’s Youtube page. The annual senior walk, featuring 2021 graduates dressed in their cap and gowns as they practice for tonight’s ceremony, is also viewable on the De Queen School District’s Facebook page.

Southwest Arkansas in for another wet, stormy week     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s going to be a wet day and week for the listening area with significant rain chances into the weekend.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service are predicting an 80 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms tomorrow with another 90 percent chance tomorrow and again Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are expected to bring rain as well with chances currently between 50 and 70 percent.

It’s typical spring weather for Southwest Arkansas and the surrounding area, with Mother Nature bringing more rain than anyone could possible use. The past two weeks have brought significant storm systems through the area, leading to power outages and storm debris from straightline winds.

Currently no weather watches or warnings are in place, but with this many consecutive days of rain predictions, flooding is always a possibility. Residents living in flood-prone areas should keep an eye on the weather and conditions. The National Weather Service stated widespread rainfall amounts of three to five inches are expected this week, with isolated higher amounts of eight or more inches also possible. This heavy rainfall will result in rises and possible flooding in areas.

Currently forecasters are predicting the rain chances to slacken over the weekend.

39th Sevier County Senior Citizens Day set for June 4     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County’s annual event to honor local senior citizens is a go for 2021.

The yearly Sevier County Senior Citizens Day was understandably cancelled last year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. However, organizers of this annual celebration say the pandemic has abated enough to hold Senior Citizens Day this year.

The event will be held on Friday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. All area residents 55 and older are welcome to come by to enjoy a meal, entertainment and free health screenings.

Organizers do stress that all participants observe COVID-19 precautions including social distancing and the wearing of face masks if social distancing is not possible. In addition, organizers say senior citizens who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may not want to attend this year’s event.

In addition to food, entertainment and vendors, the event will feature a number of free health screenings and demonstrations for senior citizens. Angie Walker of the Dr. Randy Walker Family Clinic, Sevier County Judge Greg Ray, both of whom are longtime organizers of Sevier County’s Senior Citizens Day, spoke with us to share some additional information on the event.

In addition to food, entertainment and vendors, the event will feature a number of free health screenings and demonstrations for senior citizens. Angie Walker of the Dr. Randy Walker Family Clinic and a longtime organizer of Sevier County’s Senior Citizens Day, spoke with us to share some additional information on the event.
Walker said one of the first things long-time attendees may notice is the date change for the annual celebraiton.

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Vendors who are interested in setting up a booth at this year’s event can still do so, Walker added.
Walker said there will be a ton of stuff going on for area senior citizens to enjoy, from a free meal provided by Pilgrim’s to live music, door prizes and dozens of vendors.
Again, this year’s 39th Sevier County Senior Citizens Day will be held Friday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen.
Arvest Foundation donates $3,500 to De Queen Senior Citizens Center     5/17/2021
The De Queen Senior Citizens Center is receiving some welcome assistance through a donation by the Arvest Foundation. Last week, several members of the Arvest Foundation presented administrators of the De Queen Senior Citizens Center with a check for $3,500. The grant will enable the center to install new flooring as well as purchase a new stove, microwave and other kitchen supplies as it prepares to reopen to the public July 1. Pictured from left to right are Patti Boone, Helga Buenrostro, Joyce Short, Peggy Sharp, Karen Crum and Yvonne Boone.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Senior Citizens Center is receiving some welcome assistance through a donation by the Arvest Foundation.

On May 13, several members of the Arvest Foundation presented administrators of the De Queen Senior Citizens Center with a check for $3,500. Those making the check presentation included Arvest members Patti Boone, Helga Buenrostro and Karen Crum.

The grant will enable the center to install new flooring as well as purchase a new stove, microwave and other kitchen supplies as it prepares to reopen to the public July 1.

Yvonne Boone, program manager for the De Queen Senior Citizens Center, said the center applauds the Arvest Foundation in its response to help the senior citizens of De Queen. She added that local seniors are facing tremendous uncertainty and many are struggling to supply their essential needs. Ensuring the center is in great shape to reopen this summer, Boone added, is a vital necessity.

The De Queen Senior Citizens Center has been providing frozen meals to area seniors since the pandemic first began. Boon said this effort is to ensure the safety of the seniors the center serves and prevent exposure to COVID-19. She said access to food is not the only challenge facing many area seniors. In addition, the center recognizes the isolation many seniors are experiencing in order to stay safe at home.

Boone said in addition to providing meals the center can also connect seniors to services during this challenge times. For more information on those services, contact site manager Joyce Short at 642-6045.

Today is last day to early vote in Ashdown School Board race     5/17/2021

ASHDOWN – Today is the last day to early vote in the Ashdown School Board race.
 
The only area school board race this year is for Zone F in the Ashdown School District between incumbent Glenda Smedley and challenger Stephanie Ringgold.
 
For residents of Little River County, early voting can be conducted at the Little River County Election Center on 349 North Third Street in Ashdown. This will also be the polling location for Little River County residents who wish to vote tomorrow, Election Day.
 
A poll will be open in Ben Lomond on election day for residents of Sevier County who live within the Ashdown School District’s boundaries. This poll will be located in the Ben Lomond Community Building from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 18, election day.
 
For Sevier County voters wishing to early vote in the Ashdown School Board race, they can do so at the Sevier County Clerk’s Office in the Sevier County Courthouse through 5 p.m. today.

De Queen Library organizing garden seed exchange program     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Library and Sevier County Farmer’s Market are introducing a new garden Seed Exchange Program.  

Organizers say the Seed Exchange is a fun way to build a community around gardening information, planting and sharing. Seed swapping helps everyone become more self-sufficient by learning to grow their own food. And if you want to reduce stress, gardening is a great activity to pick up at any age.

The De Queen Branch Library is the checkout station for the seeds. A patron can pick out five seed packets of their choice per person every two weeks.

Once a patron’s crops are over for the season we encourage them to swap seeds with a friend (if desired) and donate seeds back to the De Queen Branch Library. Those interested in participating are encouraged to collect new seeds from their harvest in the fall and donate them back to the library for next year.

The library has received the packet of seeds as a donation by Sevier County Farmer’s COOP and Bailey’s.

For more information, call Angela with the Farmer’s Market at 870-582-2903 or the De Queen Branch Library 870-584-4364. You can also visit the Sevier County Library and Sevier County Farmer’s Market Facebook pages for more information

At the end of the season should a person choose not to donate back, the library will still continue to have seeds donated by local businesses to continue with the seed exchange.

SWAR COVID-19 figures remain low; two additional deaths reported in Polk County     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County continue to remain at near-zero levels, with just two confirmed active cases in the county. Total cases grew just slightly over the last week to 2,790. Deaths have not seen an increase in over two months and remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting 10 active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,249 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42.

Howard County is reporting two active cases at this time. Total cases were unchanged at 1,655 and deaths at 25.

Active cases in Polk County currently number three. Total cases rose slightly last week to 1,993. Tragically Polk County did confirm two additional deaths to the virus last week, raising the total to 74 since the pandemic began.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 95 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Sunday for a cumulative total of nearly 339,000 transmissions. Active cases fell by 58 to 2,058 currently. One death was reported yesterday for a total of 5,794 since last spring. Currently 171 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus, an increase of five from the day before.

Highway 329 back open after two-car train derailment     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – Highway 329 is back open to traffic after it was shut down Tuesday afternoon when two railway cars derailed near the former Pilgrim’s hatchery east of De Queen. Crews were able to complete the work of clearing the debris and repairing damaged portions of the track yesterday. Damaged sections of track also included the crossings over Smith and Farm-to-Market Roads. Investigators with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office said both train cars were carrying wood chips and posed no hazardous material threat. No one was injured in the derailment.

De Queen man arrested on felony drug charges after raid     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – A De Queen man is in jail after he was arrested on felony drug trafficking charges earlier this week. Andrew Mills, 35, was arrested during the execution of a search warrant by multiple state and local law enforcement agencies at his home on Robinson Loop. Officials with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation began after complaints were received about suspected drug trafficking at the home, located on Robinson Loop and not far from the sheriff’s office and Sevier County Jail. An undercover, controlled purchase was made at the residence. This led to the signing and execution of the search warrant on Mill’s home. According to the sheriff’s office, the search uncovered over four ounces of methamphetamine, a substantial number of Xanex pills, marijuana and drug paraphernalia related to the sale and distribution of controlled substances. Mills was arrested at the home without incident. He is facing charges of possession of methamphetamine with the purpose to deliver as well as drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug premise. Agencies involved in the search warrant and arrest included the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, the Ninth West Judicial Drug Task Force, the De Queen Police Department and the Arkansas State Police.

Canadian company to purchase Domtar in $3 billion deal     5/13/2021

ASHDOWN – A Canadian company has announced it is in the process of purchasing the Domtar Corporation, which includes the Ashdown-based processing facility. The transaction was announced this week Paper Excellence, a Canadian based pulp manufacturer, said it would purchase Domtar’s stock for $55.50 per share. This values the deal at $3 billion. Company officials said they expected the deal to close within the third or fourth quarter of the year. In a company press release, officials with Paper Excellence said Domtar will continue to operate as a separate subsidiary. This includes retaining Domtar’s corporate and manufacturing locations as well as its current corporate leadership. Joe Ragan, global chief financial officer for Paper Excellence, the purchase marks a major step in the company’s global strategy of identifying well-positioned assets and positioning them for growth. Earlier this year Domtar sold off its personal care business for $1 billion. The deal was made, according to company officials, to help the company restructure following a difficult 2020. Last year the Domtar permanently shuttered a processing line at its Ashdown facility, which resulted in the loss of 142 positions.

DHS yearbook program receives national recognition     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School’s yearbook program has achieved a national recognition for excellence. Jostens, the leading producer of yearbooks and student-created content in the United States, announced this week that De Queen High School’s yearbook program has achieved the Jostens 2021 National Yearbook Program of Excellence award at the silver level. The National Yearbook Program of Excellence recognizes engaging yearbooks that reflect a broad representation of the student body while helping students develop 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, and information and communication technologies (ICT) literacy. The De Queen High School award-winning yearbook program is led by 2021 Editors Janae Tirado and Kayla Hernandez, and staff members Bernice Antunez, Bridgette Ortiz, Alexis Hall, Breanna Pole, Axel Lima, Mirella Hernandez, Roxanna Morales, and Aubri Johnson. The yearbook program is under the direction of Kristine Albin, De Queen High School yearbook adviser. Mrs. Albin said the national recognition is just one of many compliments deserved by this group of hardworking students. Through this year’s challenges, educational and personal to each student, Mrs. Albin said each of these talented young adults met every deadline and goal. The program will only be losing two yearbook members for the 2022 publication, so she have no doubt those who remain and those who will be taking over key roles in the program, will make next year’s book just as special for all readers. Jostens’ National Yearbook Program of Excellence Awards are presented twice a year, in spring and in fall based on the yearbook’s arrival date at the school. The award was presented to the De Queen High School yearbook program for achieving defined criteria over several categories: creating an inclusive yearbook, generating school engagement, and successfully managing the yearbook creation process.

All Arkansans 12 and up now eligible for COVID vaccine; clinics upcoming in DQ     5/13/2021

All Arkansans aged 12 and up are now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement was made yesterday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly update. The FDA provided emergency authorization this week to administer the vaccine to teens aged 12 to 15. Previously the vaccine was available to people 16 and up. Hutchinson said this move is a step towards helping Arkansas reach its goal of having at least 50 percent of the state vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of July. Health officials across the nation added that the FDA’s emergency authorization is also good news for parents who remain worried about sending their children to in-person classes at their schools. Arkansans seeking information about COVID-19 vaccines, and where to receive one, can call the Arkansas Department of Health’s hotline at 1-800-985-6030. As of Tuesday, more than 800,000 Arkansans have been fully vaccinated, or around 30 percent of the state’s population. Several COVID-19 vaccine clinics are either underway today or planned for this weekend. That includes a walk-in clinic at the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. No appointment is needed for this walk-in clinic. The vaccine can also be received from 2-5 p.m. today at the pharmacy. However, an appointment must be set up to receive the vaccine during this time period. St. Barbara Catholic Church and the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy are joining efforts to bring a new COVID-19 vaccination clinic to town this month. The community COVID-19 vaccination clinic has been scheduled for Sunday, May 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic will be set up at St. Barbara Catholic Church at 503 W. De Queen Avenue in downtown De Queen. The vaccine provided at this event will the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Those who receive their first Pfizer dose will receive an appointment for Sunday, June 6 to receive their second shot. The May 16 event will be a walk-in, first-come, first-serve clinic so no registration or appointments are needed.

Crystal Hill Decoration Days scheduled     5/13/2021

WICKES – The annual Crystal Hill Decoration at Wickes, traditionally held the fourth Sunday in May, will resume this year on May 23 with service at 11 a.m. A potluck will be held at noon with singing in the afternoon. Everyone is urged to follow Covid precautionary guidelines. Work days include this Saturday, May 15 as well as Saturday, May 22, or whenever your schedule permits. Donations for upkeep to the buildings and cemetery grounds are appreciated and may be mailed to Sue Sullivan, 305 N. 6th St., DeQueen, AR 71832. For more information, contact any board member including Dale or Jeannie White, Thomas Jenkins, Byron Sullivan or Larry Wilcher. You can also call (870) 784-3109.

De Queen School Board accepts resignations, new hires     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – This week’s meeting of the De Queen School Board included a number of resignations as well as new hires for the upcoming school year. Members of the school board accepted several resignations, including High School Teacher Kristine Albin, Tech specialist Johntavious Baker, Junior High Special Education Teacher Sara Bingham, Junior High Teacher and Coach David Smith, Leopard Band Director Chris Richard and Elementary Instructor Diana Nemlowill. New hires include Eric Perez as a middle school teacher and coach, Erin Johnson as a primary teacher, Lacey Young as an elementary teacher, Gabriela Balderas as a middle school counselor, Cameron Glasgow as an elementary teacher, Nita Campbell for literacy instruction, Angela Dunn as an interventionist and Daniel Dunn as Leopard Band Director. The board also upheld two district-recommended student expulsions due to violations of the district’s behavioral policies.

Arkansans will need permit to keep some wild species     5/13/2021

Arkansans who have not updated or obtained their permits for owning, breeding or dealing certain captive wildlife species have until July 1 to submit their application. This includes any first-time permittees who may not have all the proper documentation usually required to obtain these permits. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is working with these customers to get them into compliance. Additionally, owners of venomous reptiles also must submit an application for a new Venomous Reptile Permit no later than July 1. As a general rule, non-domesticated wildlife species do not make good pets, but just about every Arkansan knows of someone that may have had a pet raccoon, squirrel, opossum or other non-traditional pet at one time. For these reasons and many others, all non-domestic animal species are classified as wildlife in Arkansas, whether they are native or exotic, free-ranging or captive-born. Many non-traditional pet species fall within this category of wildlife, which places responsibility for their oversight with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. During the last  two years, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission staff have evaluated and updated many regulations concerning the possession, breeding and sale of non-domestic pets. Captive wildlife species in Arkansas fall under one of three categories, based on their potential risk to human health and the health of native wildlife: unrestricted, permitted and prohibited species. Complete and up-to-date species lists are available at www.agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/captive-wildlife/species-lists. As part of the new regulations, the AGFC is allowing those Arkansans who wish to possess, breed or sell certain wildlife to apply for required permits even if they do not have all the proper documentation normally required. The new Venomous Reptile Permit also is an effort to allow owners of medically significant venomous reptiles to continue to own their pets while again protecting the interest of the general public. Applications, fact sheets and species lists concerning captive wildlife are available at www.agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/captive-wildlife.

Portion of Hwy 329 closed following two-car derailment Tuesday afternoon     5/12/2021

Hwy 329 remains closed to traffic after two freight cars derailed east of De Queen by the former hatchery earlier this afternoon. No one was injured. Work to clear and repair the tracks continues on Hwy 329 as well as Farm to Market Road. Smith Road has reopened to traffic. Drivers are asked to find alternative routes at this time.

DE QUEEN – A portion of Highway 329 remains closed to traffic after two railway cars derailed Tuesday afternoon. The derailment occurred near the former Pilgrim’s hatchery east of De Queen on Highway 329. The highway remains closed until crews can complete the work of clearing the debris and repairing damaged portions of the track. Damaged sections of track included the crossings over Smith and Farm-to-Market Roads. Investigators with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office said both train cars were carrying wood chips and posed no hazardous material threat. No one was injured in the derailment. Emergency responders and railroad crews worked through the afternoon, evening and night to clear the derailed cars and repair the affected tracks.

Horatio schools out today due to water issues     5/12/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Public Schools has closed its campuses today due to a water issue affecting not just the school but most Horatio water customers at this time. Today will be a digital day for Horatio students, which means teachers and students will be teaching and learning remotely from home. Plans are to return to school again on Thursday. In an email, Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the district realizes some students will not have their iPads with them Wednesday due to the short notice of the closure. He said teachers will provide extended time for certain assignments. Students are advised to watch for any communications from their teachers. Officials with the City of Horatio announced water will be shut off to all municipal water customers Wednesday morning to perform repairs to a damaged waterline. Officials said they were unsure how long the shutoff would last.

Broadband program to help Arkansans cover costs of internet, computers     5/12/2021

The Arkansas Department of Commerce announced on Tuesday, May 11, a new program to increase broadband service for eligible households during the pandemic. The temporary benefit named the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that will lower the cost of broadband services. The $3.2 billion EBB program provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households or qualifying Tribal lands. The program also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider. A household is eligible if one member of the household meets certain criteria. That includes an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program. -In addition, eligible applicants include those who receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year; -Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; -Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or – Or meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program. For more information, including application information, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov

DHS grad ceremony set for May 17; DQTV announces sports and scholarship banquet video releases     5/12/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools is wrapping up the 2020-2021 school year and seniors are counting down the days to graduation. Unlike last spring, DHS Seniors will not have to wait until August to receive their diplomas, although graduation ceremonies will once again be held in Leopard Arena and be divided into three sessions. The 2021 DHS Commencements will be this coming Monday, May 17 at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Due to limited seating capacity and social distancing requirements, each graduate will receive ten tickets to give to friends and family. The annual DHS Scholarship Banquet will once again be held virtually. With the help of the students at DQTV, scholarship presenters have recorded their presentations to the DHS graduates. The presentations have been combined to create the 2021 DHS Virtual Scholarship Banquet and will be released this Friday, May 14 on the DQTV Youtube channel. The annual Leopard All Sports Banquet has also moved to a virtual format for the 2021 school year. The DQTV students produced an awards show for each Leopard athletic team and are being released on the DQTV Youtube channel. The awards shows for the fall sports were released in April and the shows for Spring sports are being released this week. You can these and other student-produced videos at the DQTV Youtube channel.

Tax assessment deadline is May 31     5/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Assessor Sheila Ridley and her office are reminding everyone that personal taxes must be assessed by May 31st to avoid a penalty as provided by law. A 10 percent penalty will be applied if you assess your taxable property after the May 31 deadline. When you assess your taxes all changes in real estate structures must be reported. Be sure and apply for Amendment 79, the homestead credit, if you haven’t already. You do not need to reapply for this credit each year. If you are 65 years of age or older you can receive a property tax value freeze. You can call (870) 584-3182 to assess personal property or come by 115 N. Thrid Street, Suite 117 at the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. You can also email scassessor@windstream.net

Arkansans aged 12 and up now eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine     5/12/2021

All Arkansans aged 12 and up are now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The announcement was made yesterday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly update. The FDA provided emergency authorization this week to administer the vaccine to teens aged 12 to 15. Previously the vaccine was available to people 16 and up. Hutchinson said this move is a step towards helping Arkansas reach its goal of having at least 50 percent of the state vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of July.
Health officials across the nation added that the FDA’s emergency authorization is also good news for parents who remain worried about sending their children to in-person classes at their schools.
Arkansans seeking information about COVID-19 vaccines, and where to receive one, can call the Arkansas Department of Health’s hotline at 1-800-985-6030. As of Tuesday, more than 800,000 Arkansans have been fully vaccinated, or around 30 percent of the state’s population.
Hutchinson also announced the creation of a committee to manage the more than $1.5 billion received by Arkansas through federal COVID-19 relief funding. That funding is slated to go to Arkansas schools, municipalities and the Department of Human Services. The committee is set up to decide how receiving entities can use those funds. Hutchinson said the committee will partner with Arkansas communities, the private sector and non-profits in the decision-making process.
The Arkansas Department of Health reported 233 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to just under 338,000 transmissions since the pandemic first entered Arkansas. Active cases fell by 10 to 2,043 across Arkansas. Deaths increased by six to 5,770 since last spring. Hospitalizations saw no increase or decrease, leaving 169 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Arkansas Lottery warns to scam emails     5/12/2021

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is alerting players to an email scam that is circulating in the state. A fake email entitled “Congratulations From Arkansas Mega Millions” is being sent to Arkansas players telling them to claim a prize by clicking on a link. Anyone who receives the fake email should not click the link and delete the email immediately. If a player wins Mega Millions or any other lottery game, they must have purchased a ticket and then must claim their prize at the ASL Claim Center in Little Rock. The only time lottery representatives might be contacting players is to notify them that they have won a Second-Chance Promotion or a Play It Again® drawing through The Club. Otherwise players must come forward to claim their prize. Lotteries of foreign countries are illegal in the United States. If you have been contacted by a lottery claiming to be affiliated with the government of another country, it is a scam. If you think you have been a victim of fraud or attempted fraud by someone posing as a representative of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, please report it to the Arkansas Lottery Security hotline at 1-888-606-6292 and/or the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at 1-800-482-8982.

Last night’s storm leaves over 100 without power in Sevier, Little River     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Over a hundred homes and businesses were without power in Sevier and Little River County Tuesday morning following another round of storms last night. SWEPCO is reporting most of those outages are between Horatio and Foreman. Power is expected to be restored around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. Southwest REA is not reporting any area power outages at this time. More rain and thunderstorms are expected today in what has become a very wet and stormy spring for Southwest Arkansas. Chances for heavy rain are 100 percent today, according to the National Weather Service. Chances drop off a little this evening and into Wednesday before some much welcomed sunny skies return later this week. No weather watches or warnings are currently in effect for the listening area. The National Weather Service has however issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Sevier, Howard, Little River and McCurtain Counties. The outlook states periods of moderate to heavy rainfall will once again be possible throughout today and tonight and may result in some localized flash flooding. Some of today’s storms may be strong to severe as well, with high winds and hail being the primary threats.

State places pause on use of COVID relief funds provided to schools     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Officials with the De Queen School District said a hold has been put on a number of planned projects that will be funded through federal COVID-19 relief money. The district has received over $10 million in federal funding through the three COVID-19 relief bills passed in 2020 and 2021. The district had plans for much of the $7.3 million provided in the most recent relief bill but now those projects have been paused – not just in De Queen, but across the state. De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the pause is a reflection of the state’s hope that the federal aid is spent wisely and in the best interest of Arkansas students. District officials hoped to use the federal aid to focus on direct student support, such as tutoring, additional technology and programs to help students catch up after a school year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. The money would also be used to hire additional cleaning staff as well as provide new curriculum and professional development opportunities for teachers. One of the big goals is to implement programs to prevent learning loss, particularly among students who chose De Queen’s virtual learning option. Sanders stressed none of the planned projects are cancelled. Rather, they are just waiting final state approval before work can actually start. Sanders said some federally-funded projects are already approved and not subject to the new pause. That includes over a million dollars in HVAC improvement projects to various De Queen school campuses. In addition, the extra end-of-year compensation for teachers and school staff approved by the school board last month will remain in place. District officials stressed the need to compensate teachers and staff given the challenges to education posed over this past school year. During last night’s school board meeting Sanders also stated the district will receive a lower level of federal funding next school year through the National School Lunch Act (NSLA). This is a result of fewer free and reduced lunch forms turned in by parents of De Queen students during the 2020-2021 school year. The reduced funding amounts to around $160,000. School officials anticipated the reduction given the number of students who chose the district’s virtual learning option and likely felt little motivation to fill out those forms. That, and the fact school meals were provided for free to all Arkansas students over the past school year. Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton then provided an update on facilities and construction projects around the district. He said new bleachers will arrive for Leopard Stadium next month with work to be completed by Aug. 1. Work on installing Astroturf at the stadium is set to begin in just a couple of weeks. The new Astroturf field is expected to be completed before the next school year. Finally, district officials and school board members said their farewells to Gloria Caldwell. Caldwell has been a member of the school board since 2009. She said her decision to step down came as a result of no longer having children attending De Queen schools. Caldwell added she believes her position on the school board should be open to a new member who does. Nonetheless, Caldwell said she’s greatly enjoyed her time on the board and hopes she helped shape a better school district for De Queen students. The school board voiced its support of appointing Tony Soto to Caldwell’s position at its June meeting.

Sevier County Quorum Court tables talk of chicken house regulations, welcomes newly-appointed justice of the peace     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court again declined to discuss or take any action on regulating where poultry houses can be built within the unincorporated areas of the county. The discussion was placed on yesterday’s meeting agenda. It was expected someone would be present at the meeting to speak in support of regulating poultry house construction. However, no one showed up to advance that issue and the quorum court quickly and without further discussion tabled that issue indefinitely. The quorum court’s decision to table the issue affirms a similar decision it made last year. At that meeting justices of the peace declined not to weigh in on a private dispute involving a landowner’s plan to build a number of poultry houses near the De Queen Country Club. The quorum court choose not to take any action in that dispute and deemed it a private, civil matter. Yesterday, Sevier County Judge Greg Ray and justices of the peace said their stance had not changed. No regulations were discussed and officials said further disputes involving this issue should remain civil matters. In other business, Dr. Steve Cole, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, introduced the hospital’s new CEO, Lori House. House was officially named the new CEO last week and will take over the position starting June 1. After introducing herself House spoke about a community health needs assessment that will be conducted soon to ensure the new hospital is tailored to the health needs specific to Sevier County and the surrounding area. Given the history of failed hospital administration in De Queen, House spoke the new medical center will bring transparency and accountability to the community to ensure its success into the future. House also told the quorum court she plans to soon seek out a chief financial officer and director of nursing for the new hospital. The process will begin this fall and winter to start filling the more than 100 new full-time jobs that will be created by the hospital once it opens next year. The quorum court then heard a presentation from Dr. Jason Lofton, who is leading an initiative to build hiking and mountain bike trails at De Queen Lake. He asked the county to consider assisting in this project by seeking out a Transportation Alternative Program Grant through the state. If attained, this matching grant would provide 80 percent of funding with the county to cover the remaining 20 percent. Lofton estimates it will cost around $357,000 to complete the trails at De Queen Lake. The county’s 20 percent match would total around $70,000. The quorum court voiced its support of the project. The quorum court’s budget committee will meet next week to determine how much could be provided as a match to the trail grant. Their decision will be announced later this month before the June 1 deadline to apply for the grant. Lofton stressed the economic and health benefits for Sevier County through an extensive and well-constructed system of trails. Lofton will join us on the Morning Brew Wednesday morning around 7:15 to discuss the project and its future plans. Finally, Monday’s meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court included a new justice of the peace recently appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Evelyn Keels was that appointee and will carry on the duties of the District 2 seat on the quorum court until the next election, when she must step down. Keels is continuing the term held by her husband, the late Charles Keels. Charles Keels was a long-serving quorum court member who passed away last year. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said it was extremely fitting to see Charles’ term completed by his wife, Evelyn.

AHS Senior Brayden receives Award for Musical Excellence     5/11/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School Senior Brayden Porter has received the Governor’s Award for Musical Excellence. The distinction is awarded each year to high school seniors in Arkansas. Each school may nominate a single student based on musical ability, musical accomplishments, leadership, teamwork, and service to a band program.  Each student selected for this honor receives a medal to be worn at graduation. Brayden has been a part of the award-winning Ashdown Band Program for seven years. While at AHS, Brayden was also involved in the National Honor Society and Beta Club. Brayden plans to join the Marine Corps Reserves following graduation.

COVID active cases remain at single-digit levels in Southwest Arkansas     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases in Sevier County are remaining at the lowest levels since the virus first entered Arkansas, with just two currently confirmed active cases in the county. In terms of cumulative cases, the Arkansas Department of Health reports a total of 2,789 people in Sevier County caught COVID-19 at some point over the past year. 24 county residents have died according to the Department of Health. Deaths have not risen in Sevier County in nearly two months. In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting six active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,241 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42. Howard County is reporting three active cases at this time. Total cases were unchanged at 1,655 and deaths at 25. Active cases in Polk County currently number six. Total cases rose slightly over the weekend to 1,990. Deaths remain at 72. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 76 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Monday for a cumulative total of over 337,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 79 to 2,053 currently. Three deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,764 since last spring. Currently 169 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Oklahoma man dies in Ashdown collision     5/10/2021

ASHDOWN – An Oklahoma man was killed in an accident in Little River County over the weekend. According to the Arkansas State Police, 55-year-old Lawrence Box of Valliant, Okla., died Saturday after receiving injuries from a two-vehicle accident on Highway 32 East in Ashdown. The accident occurred around 9 a.m. According to the preliminary Arkansas State Police report, Box was a passenger in a 2014 Honda CRV when the minor-aged driver attempted to make a left-hand turn onto the highway and was struck by a westbound 2015 Peterbilt semi-truck. Box was taken to Little River Memorial Hospital in Ashdown where he died from his injuries. The minor-driver and another minor, both females, were injured. They were taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. They were not identified in the report. The driver of the Peterbilt was not injured. The investigating state trooper reported weather conditions as clear and the road as dry.

Arkansas legislature passed a raft of travel-related acts in 2021     5/10/2021

From when you can drive in the left lane to regulating autonomous cars, the last session of the Arkansas Legislature made several changes to laws regarding the state’s roadways. That includes Act 1090, which states a vehicle shall not be driven on the left lane of a multilane highway, except: -When overtaking and passing another vehicle; when all other lanes for traveling in the same direction are closed to traffic while under construction or repair or if the right lane is otherwise in disrepair or in an unsafe condition; or, finally, when a vehicle is preparing to exit the multilane highway on the left. Act 264 amends the law concerning the unlawful passing of a school bus. It states drivers must come to a complete stop no less than 30 feet from the bus when it stops to load or unload passengers. This 30 feet perimeter would apply to public roads, private or public property open to the general public, and any driveway or parking lot belonging to a public school. Act 1061 states that a person commits the crime of felony racing on a public highway if he or she is drag racing on a public highway and impedes or stops the flow of traffic. This also includes gatherings of 10 or more individuals engaging in the same behavior. Felony racing on a public highway is now a Class D felony. Act 558 makes leaving the scene of an accident with injuries a Class D felony. However, if there are serious physical injuries or death, the offender would be charged with a Class B felony. Other transportation legislation passed this year include Act 504. This legislation removes licensing requirements for a motor vehicle salesperson and a recreational vehicle salesperson. This bill also creates the Automotive Technologist Education Grant Program. The Division of Career and Technical Education may then award grants for training in automotive repair and technology. Act 160 states that if a driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle is convicted of using the commercial motor vehicle in the commission of a felony involving human trafficking, the driver shall be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life. Another act amends the additional fees required to register a hybrid vehicle. The new fees for hybrid vehicles will be reduced from $100 to $50 starting January 1, 2022. Fees for electric vehicles will be $200, and the fees for a plug-in hybrid elective vehicle will be $100. Act 1067 requires that a person operating a bicycle upon a crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian. Act 926-This bill allows the operation of a personal delivery device in pedestrian areas and certain streets. Another bill would give Arkansans up to 24 months to take the driving portion of a driver’s test after passing the written portion of the exam. Currently, Arkansans are only given 12 months before they have to re-take the written exam. Finally, Act 784 states the maximum fine that can be imposed for a seat belt violation is $45.

DQ native’s family, persistence celebrated during ATU grad ceremony     5/10/2021

Courtesy of Arkansas Tech University

As Rosalma Martinez stood on a sidewalk in front of Crabaugh Hall awaiting her graduation from Arkansas Tech University on Friday, May 7, her thoughts were with the two people who chased the American dream and made it attainable for her. “Without them, it wouldn’t be possible,” said Martinez. “My grandparents are immigrants from Mexico. This past year, my grandpa had dialysis and a kidney transplant, so after all that we didn’t think he would be here for my graduation. It’s a milestone. It’s for my grandparents. It’s important to all of us because I am the first one in my family to graduate from college. It’s surreal. I never thought this day would come. It still doesn’t feel real that I’m here right now.” Martinez received a Bachelor of Science degree in information technology. ATU conferred approximately 1,750 credentials during a series of commencement ceremonies Thursday through Saturday at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field and Tucker Coliseum. A native of De Queen, Martinez first enrolled at Arkansas Tech in 2015. She completed her degree in spring 2020, but her opportunity to walk in a commencement ceremony was delayed 12 months by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “I have gained a lot of empathy for others,” said Martinez when asked how the pandemic changed her. “It has really shown how much we have to come together and work together in order to have a thriving community.” The pandemic was the focus of ATU President Dr. Robin E. Bowen’s commencement remarks, which included a moment of silence in memory of Charisma Khilling. An ATU senior from Booneville, Khilling died March 21, 2021, from COVID-19 complications. “Through all the pain and sorrow of the past 14 months, here we are,” said Bowen. “Each of us in attendance today has been spared from the scourge of COVID-19. I believe we have a responsibility…for Charisma and the 3 million others no longer with us on this planet…to each do our small part to make the post-pandemic world a kinder, gentler place. A place where we choose love over hate, unity over division and peace over strife. “As graduates of the Class of 2021, you represent the determination that got us through the pandemic and the belief that we can emerge from this dark time stronger than before,” continued Bowen. “Take the skills and talents you have honed at Arkansas Tech and do great things for yourself and your family. You are prepared to help fuel the post-pandemic economic recovery of our state and our nation. But while you are pursuing your personal aspirations, please always, always remember the most important lesson of the COVID-19 pandemic: we are all in this together.” Martinez has gained employment as a technical support analyst for Dillard’s. Her long-term career aspiration is to become a web developer. As she goes forth to pursue that and other goals made possible by those who came before her, perhaps the greatest lesson Martinez took from her ATU experience was to value and appreciate every day. “I’ll remember simple things like going to Baswell Techionery,” said Martinez. “I feel like I took it for granted and didn’t realize how quickly it would go. I tried to appreciate every moment I had here at Tech.”

Cattlemen’s Association hosting Field Day in Horatio this Saturday     5/10/2021

HORATIO – The Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association will host a Field Day this Saturday, May 15 and organizers invite everyone to this learning event. The field day will include a tour of a new processing facility, Prime Country Meats in Horatio. Educational topics include Preg Check using blood samples, heifer selection for successful reproduction, weed control and other topics of interest to cattle producers. The day begins at 10 a.m. at one of the working pens at Al and Vicky Wright’s Mill Creek Ranch located behind the Hendrix Baseball Field in Horatio. Lunch will be served at Prime Country Meats and more educational sessions will be held at Morris Ranch on Twin Bridges Road near Horatio. The field day is being arranged by Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association. For more information, call (870) 584-8809.

Early voting for school board elections begins tomorrow     5/10/2021

Early voting begins tomorrow for area school board elections. Positions on several area school boards were up for election this year. In the Horatio School District, that included Zone 4 held by Sherri Hodges and Zone 1 held by Joe Jones. Neither are facing challengers in this year’s election. On the De Queen School Board, Zone 3 will go unoccupied. Incumbent Gloria Caldwell did not seek reelection. The seat will remain open unless a director is appointed to the board. In Dierks Kenneth “Trey” Walt Eckert III is running unopposed for a director position on the Dierks School Board. The only school board race is for Zone F in the Ashdown School District between incumbent Glenda Smedley and challenger Stephanie Ringgold. A poll will be open in Ben Lomond on election day for residents of Sevier County who live within the Ashdown School District’s boundaries. This poll will be located in the Ben Lomond Community Building from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 18, election day. All area school districts are maintaining their current millage rate. That includes 44 mills in Horatio, 32.2 in De Queen, 44 in Cossatot River School District, 35.7 in Ashdown, 34 in Mineral Springs and 43 in Dierks. The Sevier County Courthouse will be the sole polling location for Sevier County voters living within the Horatio and De Queen School Districts. Early voting will be conducted at the county clerk’s office beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 11 and continuing through 5 p.m. on Monday, May 17. Election day is May 18.

May/June Arkansas Wildlife magazine focuses on Arkansas Water Trails     5/10/2021

Spring is the most popular season to paddle Arkansas’s rivers, bayous and lakes. That’s why the May/June issue of Arkansas Wildlife magazine includes a comprehensive guide to Arkansas Water Trails. Water trails combine the relaxation of time on the water with the excitement of fishing and viewing wildlife.It’s also a little easier to see wildlife up-close from a canoe, as many species rarely see any threats coming from the water. Arkansas has established 14 water trails across the state – from Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, a few miles from Louisiana, to Crooked Creek, not far from Missouri. Although none of these water trails are in Southwest Arkansas, they are well worth the drive. But if staying local is preferred, the Cossatot River, Rolling Fork River and numerous area lakes all provide scenic and exciting times on the water. The May/June issue of Arkansas Wildlife is available at www.arkansaswildlife.com or calling 800-283-2664.

“Docs Talking Stock” shares latest in animal science issues with Arkansans     5/10/2021

Animal science specialists with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have a new monthly video series — “Docs Talkin’ Stock” — to share recommendations and updates on animal issues important to Arkansas producers. The series, which debuted this month, is hosted by faculty from the Animal Science department at the Cooperative Extension Service. Chelsey Kimbrough, extension specialty livestock/youth education specialist for the Division of Agriculture, moderates the program. The first episode features Shane Gadberry, extension ruminant nutrition specialist for the Division of Agriculture, discussing beef cattle nutrition, reproduction and current research at the UA Livestock and Forestry Research Station in Batesville. That episode and future ones can be viewed at the UAEX Facebook page. https://fb.watch/52CKGBV7pU/. New episodes will be posted on the first Monday of each month and can be viewed on the UAEX Animal Science Facebook page and on the UAEX Animal Science YouTube. Dr. Mark Russell, associate professor of equine science, was this month’s guest. Extension’s animal science faculty provide research-based information to those working in the animal agriculture sector, which includes production and processing of poultry, eggs, beef and dairy products, sheep, goats, swine and other animals. Specialists will also offer recommendations for managing pastures and forages, which cover more than 6 million acres in Arkansas.

Sevier County Medical Center announces CEO pick     5/07/2021

The full audio story is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below:

Lori House poses with Dr. Steve Cole, pictured left, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, and Bruce Jackson, chair of the Medical Center Foundation. House was introduced Thursday as the hospital’s new and first CEO.
An Arkansas native, House currently serves as Director of Revenue Cycle for Healthy Connections in Mena and will move to Sevier County to take the CEO position starting June 1.
In an interview House shared her vision for an inclusive hospital with a focus on the health outcomes specific to Sevier County and the surrounding area. She also discussed her excitement to head the new hospital and direct its operations into the future. The hospital is set to open up in spring of 2022.

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Medical Center has its new, and first, chief executive officer. The Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors met yesterday in part to introduce Lori House. House has been selected to head the new hospital starting June 1. An Arkansas native, House currently serves as Director of Revenue Cycle at Healthy Connections in Mena with 18 years of experience in medical administration. House was chosen out of more than a dozen applicants for the CEO/Administrator position. Board chair Dr. Steve Cole said, given the history of administration at the former De Queen Hospital, the medical center board of governors entered the hiring process with the highest of standards and expectations. At yesterday’s meeting, Cole said House fits those qualities the board sought for in the CEO position. As CEO House will be responsible for the day-to-day administrative duties as construction proceeds on the new hospital and once it opens next spring. In an interview following yesterday’s meeting, House discussed her vision for healthcare and the new hospital in specific. In other business, board treasurer Greg Revels provided the hospital’s financial update. He said the hospital currently possesses over $1.7 million in sales tax collections. Those funds, the board has previously stated, will be used as a “war chest” to help fund the hospital in the vital year before it is eligible to become a critical access hospital and thereby receive additional Medicare reimbursement. Revels, however, said April’s sales tax collections were the lowest since collections began last year. He said that could be a sign that, as pandemic-related lockdowns are lifted and concerns over COVID-19 lessen, more people are leaving the county to spend money. Since the pandemic revenue collections in Sevier County have hit record levels. That’s likely due to more people shopping at home and spending their money locally. Although Revels concluded the end of COVID lockdowns would likely lead to more Sevier County residents shopping elsewhere, he stressed how vital spending money locally has been to the county’s economy over the past year – not just for the benefit of the new hospital, but to the benefit of the entire Sevier County economy. In other business, the board voted to approve a lease agreement with Dr. Jon Hoyt for office space to be used by the new CEO until construction of the hospital is completed. Dr. Cole said construction is proceeding on schedule with walls likely to go up within the next two weeks. Finally, Bruce Jackson, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation, said the organization has achieved its 501(c)3 status as a non-profit. He added the foundation is organizing a capital campaign and continues to receive donations for auxiliary projects related to the new hospital. This includes donations for the funds to construct a Safe Haven baby box at the medical center.

St. Barbara to host COVID-19 clinic May 16     5/07/2021

DE QUEEN – St. Barbara Catholic Church and the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy are joining efforts to bring a new COVID-19 vaccination clinic to town this month. The community COVID-19 vaccination clinic has been scheduled for Sunday, May 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic will be set up at St. Barbara Catholic Church at 503 W. De Queen Avenue in downtown De Queen. The vaccine provided at this event will the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Those who receive their first Pfizer dose will receive an appointment for Sunday, June 6 to receive their second shot. The May 16 event will be a walk-in, first-come, first-serve clinic so no registration or appointments are needed. The vaccine will be provided at no cost to anyone, but those with insurance are asked to bring their information as health insurance companies will reimburse providers some costs associated with administering the vaccine. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines currently available, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov or call the Arkansas COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 1-800-985-6030.

Sevier County Chamber sets time, location for cleanup day events    5/07/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is organizing a countywide cleanup event next month in time for the 2021 Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament. Organizers with the chamber will be covering the county from Gillham to Ben Lomond on May 22 to pick up trash in Sevier County. This is being held in preparation for the tourists and fisherman coming for the annual Big Bass Festival. Clean up events have been scheduled throughout the county for that day. Those wanting to lend a hand in De Queen can meet at the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce office on 315 W. Stilwell Avenue in downtown De Queen. In Horatio, organizers will meet at the Horatio Elementary School Cafeteria at 205 Isabel Street in Horatio. The Lockesburg group will meet at the UA Bank of Lockesburg Gym at 248 E. Main Street and, in Gillham, at the Gillham Fire Department at 104 Stancil Lane. Each of these four events will begin at 8 a.m. and continue through 2 p.m. Volunteers who register by May 20 will receive a free t-shirt. To get involved or see how you can help, contact the chamber office at 584-3225 or visit the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce on Facebook. The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will present the always-popular fishing tournament on Saturday, May 29. Typically held each year, the event was postponed and then cancelled last year due to COVID-19. Organizers are scheduling the cleanup day to help pick up litter and make sure the county is looking as good as possible before the May 29 tournament. The Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been held annually with only two interruptions for the past 33 years. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

Future Leopard Football Camp set for July     5/07/2021

DE QUEEN – Registration is now underway for the 2021 Future Leopard Football Camp at De Queen Public Schools. The event has been set for July 26, 27 and 29 at the Leopard Football Stadium each day. Eligible grades are kindergarten through fifth. The camp will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. each night. Cost is $50 and includes a t-shirt. The Future Leopard Football Camp is being organized by the Leopard Football coaching staff and players. Campers will learn and develop the basic skills and fundamentals of football that will assist them as future Leopards football players. Campers will be involved in sessions that include form running, agility and change of direction. All participants will interact with current Leopard football players and coaches to help build the future foundation of the Leopard football program. For more information, visit the De Queen School District’s Facebook page or contact Leopard Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir at (870) 584-4312.

Couple seen in Sevier County, arrested in Oklahoma, now charged with double homicide in Texas     5/06/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Two people seen in Sevier County and arrested in Oklahoma are now facing double homicide charges in Texas. James Henry Elrod, 44, and his 39-year-old wife, Carolyn Lynell Elrod, are accused of murdering two people near Paris, Texas, then stealing a car and attempting to hide out in Sevier and McCurtain Counties. The incident first came to light when Texas authorities asked the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies to assist in locating two people wanted for questioning in a double homicide that occurred last week. According to the sheriff’s office in Lamar County, Texas, deputies were dispatched to a residence in Lamar County regarding a deceased person. Two bodies were found inside the home, a man and woman. The case is being investigated by the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers as a double homicide. Authorities immediately identified the Elrods as persons of interest in the case. Local authorities were notified of the search as investigators believed Elrod had family ties in Sevier and McCurtain Counties and might travel to the area. Last Wednesday the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a witness who reported seeing the couple on Piney Road.   A search began in the area but the Elrods were not located. A known survivalist, authorities warned that Elrod would possibly take to the woods to travel. Both were, however, located later that day by authorities in a camper in Haworth, Okla. Authorities say they were in possession of a vehicle stolen from the victims. Authorities identified the victims as Ronald Hostetler and his girlfriend, Cassie Mullins-Head, both of Lamar County, Texas. Authorities have not suggested a motive or released any additional details on the homicides.

Ashdown man charged with five felonies for alleged sexual abuse of minors    5/06/2021

ASHDOWN – An Ashdown man was formally charged this week with multiple felony counts related to sexual abuse of two underage female family members.
According to court records, 35-year-old Kenneth Dustin Mangrum of Ashdown is facing two counts of rape and three counts of second degree sexual assault following a series of sexual abuse incidents alleged to have occurred between 2019 and 2020. Prosecutors allege the incidents involved two female family members aged 13 and 14. The abuse lasted for around a year, according to the affidavit.
An investigation began in March after a report was made to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline. Charges were formally filed against Mangrum this week.
Mangrum is awaiting his next court appearance in the Little River County Jail. Bail has been set at $150,000.
Will Pickering and family named Sevier County Farm Family of the Year    5/06/2021
DE QUEEN – County families for the 74th annual Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program have been selected. The families will be visited by a set of judges to determine eight district winners, who will be announced June 15. The state Farm Family of the Year will be announced in December at the Farm Family of the Year luncheon in North Little Rock.

Since 1947, the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year Program has served as a vehicle to recognize outstanding farm families throughout the state. The objectives of the Farm Family of the Year program are:

  • To give recognition and encouragement to farm families who are doing an outstanding job on their farm and in their community;
  • To recognize the importance of agriculture in the community and state; and
  • Spread information on improved farm practices and management.

This year’s Sevier County Farm Family of the Year is Will Pickering and family of De Queen. Howard County’s Farm Family of the Year is the Newton Cheatham Family of Mineral Springs The Farm Family of the Year program begins each year with the selection of top farm families in each county and culminates in December with the selection of the state Farm Family of the Year, who then go on to represent Arkansas at the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. All winners are judged on their farm production, efficiency, management, family life and rural/community leadership. Sponsors of the Farm Family of the Year program are Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and the three Farm Credit agencies that serve Arkansas: AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas and Midsouth Farm Credit. We hope to bring you more on the local aspects of this story in the near future. And congratulations to Will Pickering and family, Newton Cheatham and family, and all the other 2021 Arkansas Farm Families of the Year.

Minority Affairs Council completes “Welcome to De Queen” mural    5/06/2021
Submitted by Muriel Wiley of the Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas
A new inclusive local organization has brought a “Welcome to De Queen” mural to Sevier County as their first community project this month. The multi-panel work of art was created by Texarkana-based artist Darlene Taylor and features a splash of colors and characters, along with greetings in Spanish, Choctaw, Marshallese and various other languages. (Photo courtesy of Rosales Photography)

A new inclusive local organization has brought a “Welcome to De Queen” mural to Sevier County as their first community project this month.

The Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas (MAC) launched the effort after a series of vandalisms emerged around the town late last year. To bring the project to life, the group rallied area partners, hired an artist and collaborated with the community to develop a vision for the design. The multi-panel work of art was created by Texarkana-based artist Darlene Taylor and features a splash of colors and characters, along with greetings in Spanish, Choctaw, Marshallese and various other languages. On May 1, a dedication and prayer gathering was held by MAC and open to the community. The painting site is located at the “Storage-N-Lock” building owned by De Queen Schools Librarian Betty Stone on the Eastern edge of town. In addition to covering up graffiti and bringing a new work of art to the city, MAC also wanted to complete the mural project as an example of how residents can take action to create change in their community. After holding open forums in the fall of 2020 and early 2021 to generate interest, MAC formed with the purpose of bringing area residents from different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, genders and socioeconomic status together with a common goal: Unity. The group says it has committed to organizing events and projects that will uplift the underserved and unite the Sevier County Community as a whole. Local partners who helped organize and support the “Welcome to De Queen” mural project include artist funding by SmartPhone EMT De Queen, paint provided by James and Suzanne Babb purchased from Bailey Discount Building Supply, videography by Chris Chandler, fuel sponsorship from MAC members and beverages for the artist sponsored by Jitterbug Java in De Queen. The group expressed tremendous gratitute to all supporters and invites the public out to the next meeting, scheduled for this Friday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the De Queen Sportsplex. An alternate location will be determined in the event of inclement weather. All meetings are open to the public and available on Facebook live. Ideas for the next group project are welcome and can be submitted to DQunity@gmail.com or the “Minority Affairs Council” Facebook page online.

Nearly two dozen DHS seniors receive “Seal of Biliteracy”    5/06/2021

Nearly two dozen De Queen High School seniors received a “Seal of Biliteracy” for demonstrating proficiency in English and one or more other languages by high school graduation. Those students include, from left to right in the front row, Sarah Victoriano, Lizbeth Osura, Kimberly Delgado, America Vega, Angie Hernandez, Karina Montes, Angie Bolanas and Spanish teacher, Jane Moore. In the middle row are Janae Tirado, Marlen Martinez, Diana Ramirez, Maria Trejo, Alexander Tavarez, Alexis Hernandez and Gerardo Monroy. In the back row are Perla Zapata, Guadalupe Olvera, Angelica Hernandez, Felipe Ortiz, Alex Pacheco, Victor Hernandez and Louis Vertiz. Not pictured are Kayla Hernandez and Edith Garcia.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School District is issuing a big congratulations to 23 De Queen High School Spanish 4 students who recently earned the Arkansas Seal of Biliteracy for demonstrating proficiency in English and one or more other languages by high school graduation. These outstanding students are 23 of 456 Arkansas students from around the state who have earned this distinction. The Seal of Biliteracy is now recognized in 42 states and Washington D.C. According to the official website, “the Seal of Biliteracy encourages students to pursue biliteracy, honors the skills students attain, and can be evidence of skills that are attractive to future employers and college admissions offices.” Since the 2017 pilot year in Arkansas, a total of 2,124 students from 62 high schools around the state have attained this certification across 16 languages other than English. For Mrs. Moore’s Spanish 4 students, her students have been participating since the spring of 2019 to earn the Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish and English. To demonstrate proficiency in English, scores from either the ACT Aspire, ACT English, or scores from the ELPA exam are used. These are paired with proficiency scores for other languages. “I want our community to know that just because a student may have some background in speaking Spanish, that does not mean he or she is proficient in the language. There are four proficiency domains in all languages and they are listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Most of my students with some Spanish background have either been born here or moved here as a very young child and have had zero education in Spanish until entering our program in the ninth grade. These students have worked hard to improve in all 4 domains during the four years they have had Spanish. I am also very proud of the fact that our program has also had two non-native speakers (English 1st language learners) also earn the Seal – one in 2019 and another in 2020. We have a very strong program and Mrs. Hendershot (teacher Spanish I and II) and I continue to push ourselves and our students so that as many as possible can achieve proficiency levels.” – Jane Moore, DHS Spanish Teacher.

Straight line winds, but no tornado, causes power outages, fallen trees in Sevier County    5/06/2021

Multiple downed trees line Central Road Tuesday morning following straight line winds from severe storms Monday night. Crews worked tirelessly to clear and reopen affected roads. All roads are again open.

DE QUEEN – Roads in Sevier County are cleared and open again following heavy storms and straight line winds late Monday night. That storm caused trees to fall across much of the southern portion of the county and resulted in power outages for hundreds of residents. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said fallen trees and other storm debris resulted in the closing of around 10 roads on Tuesday. Those included frequently-traveled roads like Central, Melrose and portions of Red Bridge Road. All affected roads are now cleared and reopened to traffic. We received reports of some storm damage to homes ranging from Falls Chapel to Gillham. There were no confirmed reports of a tornado. Straight line winds were behind the damage with the National Weather Service reporting gusts in excess of 70 mph in the region. Storm damage resulted in the loss of power to numerous customers in Sevier County and forced the closure of Horatio Public Schools on Tuesday due to lack of electricity. The district is returning to onsite instruction today. As of 6:30 Wednesday morning, SWEPCO was reporting 37 power outages among its customers in Sevier County. The electric company is reporting less than five customer outages in Little River County. Southwest REA was reporting an additional 67 customers still without power Wednesday morning in Sevier County.

Gov. Hutchinson renews vaccine push, outlines COVID-related legislative acts    5/06/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

State officials are setting a goal to see at least 50 percent of Arkansans partially or fully vaccinated within the next three months.
During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his administration is working with both statewide and local partners to provide more opportunities to get the vaccine. That effort will be coupled with greater outreach to highlight the safety and effectiveness of the available COVID-19 vaccines. State health officials plan to organize pop-up, walk-in vaccine clinics at events throughout the state, from baseball games to local festivals.
Hutchinson said the goal is get as much as the state’s population vaccinated as possible and help bring an end to the pandemic.
Hutchinson then provided an update on several legislative acts in relation to COVID-19. Those include a ban on vaccine passports within Arkansas and a prohibition on local and state facemask ordinances. These two acts effect only local and state authorities.  The third act prohibits state agencies from mandating vaccinations. All three acts will go into effect after 90 days following last week’s legislative recess.
Hutchinson also highlighted the state’s most recent revenue report. That report showed a continued revenue surplus throughout the fiscal year. The report, Hutchinson said, is a sign that the state is recovering from the economic consequences of the pandemic.
The governor said Tuesday’s COVID-19 Taskforce press conference will be the last unless the situation demands weekly updates in the future. Hutchinson said he will continue to broadcast updates each Tuesday but on a broader range of topics than just COVID-19.
Finally, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 296 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to more than 336,000. Active cases rose by 104 to 2,043 across Arkansas. Deaths rose by five over the same period to 5,752 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations rose by 20 to leave 192 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.
Arkansas researchers note rise in anxiety, depression due to food insecurity in midst of pandemic    5/06/2021
Families worried about having enough food during the COVID-19 pandemic are at three times the risk of experiencing anxiety or depression than those that have lost jobs, according to a study by a group of Arkansas agricultural economists.

The results suggest that COVID relief should place more focus on food assistance, researchers said. The group conducted a survey of low-income Americans during the pandemic. They had more than 2,700 responses to the survey. In that study 28 percent of low-income families were food insecure before the pandemic. Families with female heads of house were a disproportionate percentage of those. Stay-at-home restrictions and the closing of food stores and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic compounded worries about having enough food. Low-income families have been particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and its contribution to mental health problems during the pandemic. Low-income families often live in “food deserts,” areas with few outlets for fresh foods. This requires longer trips to supermarkets and greater reliance on public transportation, much of which was shut down or operating on reduced schedules during the shutdown. Also, children of low-income families often rely on school breakfast and lunch programs. The closing of in-person classes during the pandemic meant that many of those food programs were not available. Researchers noted that the expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – also known as SNAP of food stamps – as part of the U.S. government’s COVID-19 relief efforts only helped families that were not already receiving the maximum benefits allowed by the program. Those families whose low incomes already made them eligible for the maximum benefits did not receive increased assistance. The SNAP expansion for COVID didn’t help the poorest of the poor, researchers concluded. If you’re food insecure — if you are worried about having enough food during the pandemic — you are at three times the risk of experiencing anxiety or depression than someone who lost their job during the pandemic. The risks for mental health problems cut across all races among low-income families, Fang said. The risk is greater for the elderly and families with children. Researchers said the survey results suggest that financial aid during the pandemic, while helpful, had relatively little effect on mental health concerns caused by food insecurity. Food assistance can also help give a boost to the economy, the study suggests. There’s evidence that increases in SNAP benefits lead to more money being spent on food than direct money payments. The researchers added that the implications of their study “suggest that more public health measures for the pandemic should focus on getting direct subsidies of food purchases to poor families, especially families with children, as well as removing the barriers to accessing charitable food sources.” To learn more about this and other Division of Agriculture research, www.uaex.uada.edu

Sevier County 4-H rabies clinic continues through Saturday    5/06/2021
DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H is currently hosting its rabies clinic to help protect local pets and help the organization raise some funds.

The drive-thru rabies clinic will continue today and through this Saturday. The clinic has been touring through the county for the convenience of pet owners in Sevier County. Today the clinic will be set up from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Horatio Community Building; on Thursday from 3-5 p.m. at the Herman Dierks Park; and again at Herman Dierks Park on Saturday from 9-11 a.m. Appointments can, however, be made for other times throughout the week by calling the De Queen Animal Hospital at 642-8387 or the Sevier County Extension Office at 584-3013. Rabies shots are $10 each for both cats and dogs. Other vaccines will be available, including Dapp for dogs at $15, Lepto for dogs at $10, FRCP for cats at $15 and Feluk shots for cats for $20. For each rabies shot given a donation will be made to the Sevier County 4-H. Organizers remind area pet owners that Arkansas law requires all dogs and cats three months of age or older to have a rabies vaccination yearly. Ashdown High School partners with UA Cossatot through CNA program    5/06/2021

Pictured left to right are the 2021 AHS Nursing Assistant Program Instructor and Participants: Melba Hess (instructor), Tania Calloway, Aleia Schmidt, Liza Embry, Jasmyn Smith, Anna Moss and Melissa Cooper.

ASHDOWN – UA Cossatot’s Continuing Education department and Ashdown High School are partnering together to offer Ashdown High School seniors the chance to receive nursing assistant training in high school and prepare for the certified nursing assistant exam after graduation. After passing this exam, these students can earn a license to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Students who participated in the training program received 90 hours of training, with sixteen hours being in a clinical setting at Pleasant Manor Nursing Home in Ashdown. Students who completed the new nursing assistant training program included Melissa Cooper, Tania Calloway, Liza Embry, Anna Moss, and Railee Schmidt. Ashdown High School is the first high school to partner with UA Cossatot to offer a nursing assistant training program to high school seniors when launching the first course in 2018-2019. Job prospects for Certified Nursing Assistants are bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for Certified Nursing Assistants will rise at a rate of eleven percent through 2026, which is much faster than the average job growth. As the population ages, demand for round-the-clock nursing services will continue to be needed.

Sevier County Quorum Court to discuss possible poultry house resolution at May 10 meeting   5/06/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet next Monday, May 10 to discuss a number of issues. The meeting will include a discussion over the interest of quorum court members to develop an ordinance related to regulating the location of poultry houses within Sevier County. This issue arose most recently last year when the quorum court heard from both parties of a dispute involving a landowner’s plan to build a number of poultry houses near the De Queen Country Club. The quorum court choose not to take any action in that dispute and deemed it a private matter. In other business, the quorum court will discuss applying for a Transportation Alternative Program grant to help fund trails at De Queen Lake. The grant would reimburse the county 80 percent of the total cost. The grant could play a significant role in funding the first three and a half miles of the new trail. Other items include a request from the county clerk to budget an additional $19,000 to hire a fulltime deputy clerk to begin July 1. Justices of the peace will also vote to re-appoint Tara Athey to the Sevier County Equalization Board. Finally, the quorum court will hear a request to set a salary cap for the new Sevier County Medical Center CEO as well as a handle a number of routine financial and procedural matters.

AGFC says keep wildlife wild, leave “orphans” alone    5/06/2021
Each year, biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission get calls from worried conservation-minded individuals who happen across a young, helpless-looking deer, rabbits and birds that have apparently lost their mother. Moving those animals may be one of the worst things you can do to help it, and in the case of white-tailed deer fawns, taking it home can even land you in trouble with the law.

Most fawns found that seem abandoned aren’t alone after all. Lying perfectly still and quiet is part of a young deer’s survival instinct while its mother is away. Once a doe gives birth, she still needs to feed to maintain her health while nursing her young. She will go a short distance and eat, leaving the fawn alone during much of the day. The fawn’s job is to stay as still as possible so that it remains hidden. Their spotted coat blends into the background, and they just lay there. In some cases, a person can literally push it along with a foot without it jumping up to flee. In most cases, the mother deer is often just out of sight, waiting for you to leave so she can tend to her young. Rabbits, birds and many other wild animals have a similar plan for survival, with the parents leaving the young for sometimes long periods of time to gather food or eat to maintain their health while nursing. Moving “orphaned” wildlife works against this plan. Instead of rescuing them,a person may be moving them from where the mother will return. It also leaves the good Samaritan struggling to figure out what to do with the animal. Wildlife rehabilitation experts often are overwhelmed by kidnapped young owls and other birds that were mistakenly “rescued” by well-meaning people. Since the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in Arkansas in 2016, wildlife rehabilitators are no longer allowed to rehab white-tailed deer or elk, and hand-catching a white-tailed deer fawn is illegal. Moving live deer is one of the fastest ways CWD can spread over long distances. Once a CWD-positive deer or elk is housed at a facility, any subsequent deer or elk is at risk of contracting the disease. Release of those animals later could distribute the disease to new areas of the state, impacting thousands of deer in those areas. If you have taken a young animal from an area, the best practice is to place it back where you found it as soon as possible. If a baby bird has fallen from the nest, place it back or move it as close to the tree as possible. Forget the wive’s tales about the mother rejecting the young because of your scent; when she returns, she will take care of her young. In cases where the spot may have been unsafe because of a nearby road or predator, you can move the animal slightly and its mother will find it. In those cases where the mother has been killed, The AGFC has a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators that can take in certain animals available at www.agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/wildlife-rehabilitation. People should call ahead to ensure there is room to take in the young animals, and verify that the rehabber is licensed to take in the particular Even if the mother deer is dead the fawn still has a chance of survival. According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists, a fawn can begin to eat and digest native vegetation as early as two weeks after birth, and are completely weaned within two to three months. There also is a chance other does are nearby that will take in the fawn as their own if they find them. In either case, that animal’s best chance of living a healthy life in the wild is for people to step aside and let Mother Nature take care of things.

Old Center Church decoration day is Sunday    5/06/2021

HORATIO – Old Center Church will host its annual Mother’s Day Decoration Service and Dinner with singing in the afternoon this Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 9. The service will begin at 11 a.m. All are welcome to attend. The church is located at 143 Old Center Road east of Horatio.

IRS reminds extension to file is available, but not extension to pay    5/06/2021

For most individual taxpayers the tax filing and payment deadline was postponed to May 17. Those who need more time to file beyond the postponed date, can request an extension to file. Taxpayers must request an extension to file by May 17, or they may face a failure to file penalty. This extension gives them until October 15 to file their tax return. An extension to file is not an extension to pay. Taxes must be paid by May 17 to avoid penalties and interest on the amount owed after that date. How to request an extension to file To get an extension to file, the IRS urges taxpayers to do one of the following: File Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or by using Free File on IRS.gov. Submit an electronic payment with Direct PayElectronic Federal Tax Payment System or by debit, credit card or digital wallet and select Form 4868 or extension as the payment type. An automatic extension of time to file will process when taxpayers pay all or part of their taxes electronically by the Monday, May 17 due date. Some taxpayers may have extra time to file their tax returns and pay any taxes due. This includes some disaster victimstaxpayers living overseas, including members of the military, and eligible support personnel serving in combat zones.

Horatio schools out today due to power outages     5/04/2021
HORATIO – The Horatio School District will close its campuses today due to power outages and fallen trees in the area following last night’s storms. The district will transition to virtual learning today.
Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool asked students and parents to keep an eye out for further communications to determine when power is restored and in-person instruction will resume.
Road closures reported in Sevier due to Monday night storms     5/04/2021
LOCKESBURG – A Sevier County road employee is reporting that Central Road is currently closed between Melrose and Red Bridge road due to fallen trees and storm damages from last night’s storms. In addition, portions of Grayland and Provo Road are also closed as crews work to clear debris and reopen those roads.
California man arrested after leading deputies on pursuit in Sevier, McCurtain Counties    5/04/2021
DE QUEEN – A California man is in custody after leading police on pursuit through Sevier and McCurtain Counties over the weekend.

According to information released by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, deputy J.J. Lopez was patrolling Stateline Road on Friday, April 30, when he observed a vehicle traveling with expired tags. When Lopez attempted to initiate a traffic stop the driver of the vehicle sped up and refused to stop. The pursuit then proceeded onto Union Valley Road. The suspect was able to negotiate past two spike strips deployed by other law enforcement officers and continued onto Highway 70 into Oklahoma. The pursuit continued back into Arkansas with the suspect on several occasions reportedly driving head-on towards pursuing law enforcement vehicles. Deputies reported narrowly avoiding a collision with the suspect as he sped towards them. The vehicle pursuit ended after the suspect turned on to Rock Creek Road and drove the vehicle into the river. Authorities say the suspect then fled on foot across the river and into the woods on the Oklahoma side.

During the foot pursuit deputies saw a women sitting on the river bank who said she was with the suspect in the vehicle. She identified him as 45-year-old Timothy Shane Woods, whose address is listed out of Santa Cruz, Cali. Oklahoma authorities took the women, identified as Tisha Samuels, into custody. Woods was not located until the following day, when he returned to the river in an attempt to recover his flooded vehicle. Oklahoma authorities stated the vehicle could not be recovered until Saturday morning and was left for a wrecker to recover. However, authorities say Woods arrived first with the assistance of a friend who towed the vehicle out of the river. Nonetheless, deputies located a vehicle towing the suspect’s wrecked car. Both vehicles were stopped and Woods was taken into custody after he was found inside. He was arrested without further incident. During an interview with local and Oklahoma officers, Woods allegedly admitted to being the driver of the vehicle involved in the pursuit. Woods is facing numerous charges in Sevier County and Oklahoma. In Arkansas, Woods was charged with fleeing, driving with a suspended license and expired tags. Oklahoma authorities reported Woods will be charged with felony fleeing and aggravated assault for allegedly attempting to hit pursuing officers with his vehicle. Woods was transported to the Sevier County Jail following his arrest. A hold has been placed on him for the additional felony charges in Oklahoma.

Sara Victoriano 21st recipient of Rotary Crystal Award     5/04/2021

Sara Victoriano is the 21st recipient of the Rotary Crystal Award, that’s presented annually to the outstanding senior female athlete at De Queen High School.

DE QUEEN – Sara Victoriano is the 21st recipient of the Rotary Crystal Award, that’s presented annually to the outstanding senior female athlete at De Queen High School. Sara is a standout soccer player for the Lady Leopards. She’s the team’s leading scorer, and she’s an all-state performer. Sara also earned all-conference honors in Cross Country.

Victoriano also excels in the classroom. She ranks seventh out of 167 in the Class of 2021 at De Queen High. She’s a member of National Honor Society, student council, the Spanish Club, and the Interact Club. She’s also very active in her church.
Victoriano plans to attend the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. The Crystal Award was presented by Rotarian Tammy Huddleston at Monday’s noon meeting of the club. The award was first presented in 2000. The award is based on athletic performance, scholastic achievements, and participation in school and community activities.
Foreman Farmers Market kicks off this evening     5/04/2021
FOREMAN – Foreman launches its first farmers market of the season in Little River County this evening.

The market opens today and will reopen each Tuesday and Thursday from 4-7 p.m. each day on Schuman Street at the old pharmacy location downtown beginning this month. Vendor charge is $3 per event or $50 annually. For questions or more information, contact Mike McKee at (903) 824-0818.

New feral hog survey aimed at landowners in Sevier and Howard Counties     5/04/2021

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, in partnership with the state’s Feral Hog Task Force, is seeking input from Arkansans regarding their experiences with feral hogs. The task force incorporates participation and support from several other state and federal partner organizations. Its goal is the eradication of feral hogs, an invasive pest that wreaks havoc on crops, property and natural resources. Agents and associates with the Cooperative Extension Service, which is leading many of the task force’s public survey efforts, will be contacting landowners in areas where feral swine pilot projects are being conducted in the state. These include Sevier and Howard Counties as well as several others in South and Southeast Arkansas. Extension agents are encouraging participation in the survey, even among landowners who have had no direct contact with feral hogs. The survey is being sent in the mail and everyone who receives one is asked to take a few minutes to answer the questions. Extension agents will also be calling some landowners who are receiving trapping services from their Conservation District trappers. The survey will be conducted several times over the next few years to track changes in reported damages. Additionally, landowners anywhere in the state can report the number of feral hogs removed from their property simply using the Feral Hog Survey 1-2-3 app. To download, visit the feral hog page on the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s website, located at www.agriculture.arkansas.gov. Arkansans who can’t access the app for any reason can contact their local county extension office for assistance, and a cooperative extension agent will report the information. In Sevier County, that number is 584-3013. Ryan Farney, feral hog coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, is asking that al hunters and feral hog trappers in the state report their sightings and removals of feral hogs at the Feral Hog Survey 1-2-3 app. Landowners who have feral hogs on their property can contact USDA APHIS Wildlife Services at 501-835-2318. They are leading a statewide effort at feral hog removal, one pig at a time. Residents interested in learning how to use a cellular trapping system should contact their local Cooperative Extension Service office. A team of extension agents located throughout the state coordinates feral hog trapping, and can help residents learn best practices. Call the Sevier County Extension Office for more information about feral hogs, or to volunteer your property as a demonstration site.

Tickets now on sale for 2A baseball, softball regional tournament     5/04/2021

Tickets are now on sale for the 2A Regional Baseball and Softball Tournament. The Horatio Lions baseball team will play in the tournament this Thursday, May 6 at 12:30 p.m. The Horatio Lady Lions softball team will play later that afternoon beginning at 3 p.m. Tickets must be purchased online at www.gofan.co/app/school/AAA. The link is also available on the Horatio Lions Facebook page. Current AAA passes will also be accepted. District officials stress those who buy tickets online should not redeem the tickets after they are purchased. The gate worker at the tournament will redeem online tickets at the gate.

Ashdown Spring Concerts tonight and Thursday     5/04/2021

ASHDOWN – The annual Ashdown spring band concert is set for this evening. The beginner band will take the stage at 6 p.m. with the Ashdown Junior High School band to follow at 6:30. The high school band is scheduled to perform on Thursday starting at 6 p.m. All three concerts will be held in the Helen Parker Gym. District officials say face masks are required to be worn and social distancing guidelines are in place.

Arkansas utility service disconnection moratorium ends today     5/01/2021
The Arkansas Public Service Commission is issuing a reminder that the state’s COVID-19 utility service disconnection moratorium ends today. The moratorium applies to customers of Entergy, SWEPCO, CenterPoint Energy and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, among other energy providers. For those still struggling to catch up on their utility bills due to the financial impact of COVID-19, it’s important to take action immediately to seek assistance to avoid disconnection after today.

Verify what you owe directly with your utility company. Information, including what is owed, must be provided in writing to each customer with a past due balance. Contact the utility company and discuss a payment plan if your bill is unaffordable. Utility companies are required to provide information regarding available payment options on their website and social media platforms. Utility companies are required to offer plans which provide a minimum of 18 months to repay any past due balances with no down payment required. Utility companies must also provide information regarding funds that may be available through assistance agencies or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Law enforcement agencies also warn consumers to not fall for fake calls about utility bills. Verify the status of your account directly with the utility company. You should contact them. Do not assume that someone who contacts you works for the utility company. It could be a scam. The Public Service Commission does not regulate municipal utilities or private water companies, and customers of those utility companies are not affected by the moratorium order.

Survey of residents of SWAR show support for pandemic-related business practices to continue into future     5/01/2021

A friendly atmosphere, options, and safety measures were southwestern Arkansans’ top three values in choosing which restaurants and stores to frequent, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The survey was conducted in March by CREATE BRIDGES, an initiative of the Division of Agriculture’s Community and Economic Development Department, based in Little Rock. CREATE BRIDGES is an acronym for “Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism and Entertainment by Building Rural Innovations and Developing Growth Economies.” The survey received responses from 199 residents living in Howard, Little River, and Sevier counties. Julianne Dunn, economic educator for the Division of Agriculture, said the most popular products purchased were clothing and locally made or crafted goods, according to the survey results. Dunn said the study showed a majority of respondents want the conveniences added during the pandemic to remain, such as ordering online, picking up at the store and curbside delivery. CREATE BRIDGES is designed to bring two three-county regions together to collaborate, gather data, develop and implement strategies to assist small, rural businesses in retaining and expanding their customer base. The CREATE BRIDGES 3C’s Region, consisting of Howard, Little River, and Sevier counties, was selected in the fall of 2018. Like other programs and agencies, however, CREATE BRIDGES administrators had to reassess their objectives in 2020 while facing the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. “We agreed that consumers’ needs and desires may have changed as a result of the pandemic and that it would be beneficial to small retail businesses to know what their customers sought,” Vickie Williamson, economic development director for Little River County, said. Williamson and Tiffany Maurer, economic development director for Sevier County, generated a short list of questions in January for consumers to answer online. All respondents were entered into a drawing for a gift card as an incentive to participate. There were 199 responses across the three counties, providing helpful data and comments for local businesses. The complete survey results are available at www.uaex.uada.edu/createbridgesresources. For more information about CREATE BRIDGES, visit www.uaex.uada.edu/createbridges or contact Julianne Dunn at 501-671-2158 or jbdunn@uaex.edu.

Bridge closure on Hwy 32 postponed    5/01/2021

The lane closure of Highway 32 across Millwood Dam scheduled for May 4 has been postponed. The Little Rock District will notify the public once a new closure date has been identified.

Create Bridges hosting business training workshop in De Queen tomorrow    5/01/2021

The Create Bridges Team are offering a free seminar in De Queen to assist those with the dream of starting and owning their own business. The free business coaching seminar will be held tomorrow, May 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day. The event is scheduled at the office of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce in downtown De Queen. The seminar will be presented in both English and Spanish. Although free, an appointment is required to attend the seminar. Appointments can be set by calling (720) 477-9659 or by emailing mwiley@uada.edu.

Rep. Vaught provides update on tax cuts passed this spring    5/01/2021

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught has provided us with an update detailing some of the legislative accomplishments of this spring’s session of the Arkansas House of Representatives. The House is now in an extended recess for the 2021 Regular Session. Legislation passed so far this session has reduced taxes by $84 million for the current fiscal year and is projected to cut another $197 million in taxes for Fiscal Year 2022. The vast majority of those tax cuts come from two pieces of legislation drafted to respond quickly to the economic situation created by the health emergency. Act 154 exempts unemployment benefits paid in 2020 and 2021 from state income tax. It is estimated that more than 281,000 Arkansans received unemployment benefits in 2020. ACT 248 exempts COVID-19 relief loans for small businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), from state income tax. It is estimated that more than 42,400 Arkansas businesses received a PPP loan in 2020. Additional tax cuts and credits passed this session include: HB1912, which reduces the sales tax from 6.5% to 3.5% on used cars priced from $4,000-$10,000. Act 970 provides a sales and use tax exemption for water used by a poultry farm. Act 971 doubles the income tax deduction for a teacher’s qualified classroom expense from $250 to $500. Act 841 creates an income tax credit for up to $3,500 for retired law enforcement officers who work cold cases for Arkansas State Police. Act 972 allows for sales tax exemptions of isolated sales at special events. SB336 creates an exemption from the sales and use tax for coins, currency, and bullion. You can find summaries of additional legislation at www.arkansashouse.org

Local health units to begin providing COVID-19 shots this week     5/01/2021

Beginning this week, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will begin offering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Local Health Units across the state. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is available to anyone age 18 or older. The vaccine is given in two doses, one month apart. People will be scheduled for an appointment to return for the second dose when they receive the first dose. Anyone interested in scheduling an appointment may call the health unit closest to them or the statewide vaccine call-line at 1-800-985-6030. After-hours appointments may be available on Tuesdays. Health units are in every county in the state.

Arkansas Public Land Elk Hunt applications now being accepted     5/01/2021

The application period for Arkansas’s public land elk hunting permits opened this weekend and will remain open through June 1. Hunters interested in pursuing Arkansas’s largest big game animal can apply beginning May 1 at https://ar-web.s3licensing.com and select the Special Hunt Applications button to begin the process. Twenty public land elk tags will be available for Arkansas’s 2021 elk hunting season. With the Buffalo River Elk Festival tentatively scheduled for September 3-4, these drawings will be conducted through a randomized computer section. Three additional permits will be drawn at the festival for people who register at the event. AGFC officials say last year saw an increase in elk permit applicants and hopes that trend continues. In 2020, there were 5,275 elk hunt applicants, up from 3,812 in 2019. Applicants for Arkansas public land elk hunt permits must have a valid Resident Sportsman Hunting License or must be a holder of a Lifetime Sportsman’s Permit. Only residents of Arkansas may apply. Applicants must be 6 or older as of the beginning of the hunt to participate. Anyone with 18 or more violations points is ineligible for the permit. Hunters with access to private land in elk country will follow the same regulations as last year, using a quota system instead of drawn permits. Anyone may purchase a Private Lake Elk Permit (labeled PLE in the AGFC licensing system) for $5 in addition to a valid resident Sportsman Hunting License or nonresident All Game Hunting License. The private land quota is 35 total, 10 of either sex and 25 antlerless. Hunters must call each evening to determine if the quota has been met before the next day’s hunt. The season ends early if the quota is filled. Applications require a $5 nonrefundable processing fee, but no additional fees are required of hunters who successfully draw.

Active COVID-19 cases remain low in Southwest Arkansas    5/01/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases in Sevier County are remaining at the lowest levels since the virus first entered Arkansas, with just two currently confirmed active cases in the county. In terms of cumulative cases, the Arkansas Department of Health reports a total of 2,789 people in Sevier County caught COVID-19 at some point over the past year. 24 county residents have died according to the Department of Health In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting just two active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,235 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42. Howard County is reporting six active cases at this time. Total cases were unchanged at 1,653 and deaths at 25. Active cases in Polk County currently number 13. Total cases rose slightly over the weekend to 1,985. Deaths remain at 72. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 137 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Sunday for a cumulative total of over 306,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases increased by 19 to 2,055 currently. Two deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,743 since last spring. Currently 171 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Local authorities involved in search for couple wanted in questioning in Texas homicide investigation     4/30/2021

LAMAR COUNTY, Texas – The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the search of a couple wanted for questioning in a double homicide that occurred in Texas earlier this week. According to the sheriff’s office in Lamar County, Texas, deputies were dispatched to a residence in Lamar County regarding a deceased person. Two bodies were found inside the home, a man and woman. The case is being investigated by the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers as a double homicide. Authorities immediately identified two people wanted for questioning as persons of interest in the case: 44-year-old James Henry Elrod and his 39-year-old wife, Carolyn Lynell Elrod. Local authorities were notified of the search as investigators believed Elrod had family ties in Sevier and McCurtain Counties and might travel to the area.

On Wednesday the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a witness who reported seeing the couple on Piney Road.   A search began in the area but the Elrods were not located. A known survivalist, authorities warned that Elrod would possibly take to the woods to travel. Both were, however, located later that day by authorities in McCurtain County and taken into custody. Currently the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office is providing no further details on the double homicide or the Elrods’ involvement in the incident. Names of the deceased have not been released pending notification of next of kin. Authorities in Texas said more information will be made available in the coming days.

UA Cossatot to host Fiesta Fest Saturday in De Queen     4/30/2021

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot will host Fiesta Fest tomorrow and organizers say the wide variety of entertainment, activities, vendors and food will mean this is an event you won’t want to miss. Fiesta Fest, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, will be held in Downtown De Queen on North 3rd Street and West De Queen Avenue in front of the Courthouse from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. Saturday night. The festival’s focus is bringing the community together to celebrate the cultures of Southwest Arkansas while raising scholarship money for UA Cossatot students. Festivities will include food, vendors, live music, a DJ and light show, folkloric dancing, carnival rides, games, inflatables, and more. Erika Buenrostro of UA Cossatot said the event is a great time for all residents of the area to come together for a common cause. The event aims to celebrate the cultures that make up Sevier County’s community and help provide students of the college with a scholarship funded through money raised at this event. To become a sponsor or vendor for Fiesta Fest, contact Dustin Roberts, Director of Development, at droberts@cccua.edu or 870-584-1172.

Sevier County reporting one active case of COVID-19 at this time     4/30/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County is currently reporting one confirmed active case of COVID-19, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Earlier this week hit a celebratory milestone with zero confirmed or probable active cases in all of Sevier County. Health officials in Arkansas have warned however that with the reduction in daily new cases across the state, fewer people are getting tested. This means fewer cases of the virus are being detected. Nonetheless, Sevier County reaching near zero levels of active cases feels like and certainly is a major milestone. In terms of cumulative cases, the Arkansas Department of Health reports a total of 2,788 people in Sevier County caught COVID-19 at some point over the past year. 24 county residents have died according to the Department of Health In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting just wo active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,235 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42. Howard County is reporting seven active cases at this time. Total cases grew slightly this week to 1,653. Deaths remain at 25. Active cases in Polk County currently number 14 – a modest increase over the weekend and from last week when active cases fell nearly to zero. Total cases currently number 1,983. Polk County did see an additional death to the virus this week, raising the death toll to 72. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 240 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Thursday for a cumulative total of 335,529 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases increased by 53 to 1,961 currently. Nine deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,735 since last spring. Currently 166 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Grand opening ceremony today for Ashdown City Park splash pad     4/30/2021

ASHDOWN – Community leaders in Little River County will gather today to officially inaugurate Ashdown’s new splash pad. The Ashdown Community Foundation announced that the Domtar Community Advisory Team and the City of Ashdown will be officially opening the new splash pad at the Ashdown City Park this afternoon beginning at 4 p.m. This project was made possible by a grant from the Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas and monies raised from the annual Ashdown Community Auction. Volunteers from the Domtar Community Advisory Team and representatives from the City of Ashdown will be hosting the official ribbon cutting event for the new splash pad at the Ashdown City Park. Also on hand will be representatives from the Blue and You Foundation, who provided a grant of $150,000 toward the project. The remaining dollars were made possible by the many individual, community and business supporters of the annual Ashdown Community Auction. Organizers hope the event will bring the community together to officially open the new splash pad. The splash pad will be open daily as of this Saturday, May 1 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through September 30. Today’s ribbon cutting event and splash pad grand opening to the community will begin at 4 p.m. Fish dinners will be available for $10 each and serving will continue through 7 p.m. or until food runs out. At 5 p.m. a raffle drawing begins. Tickets can still be purchased for $50 and provide a chance to win over $5,000 in prizes. The event will take place at the Ashdown City Park Splash Pad, located at 1301 Gordan Drive in Ashdown. Members of the Ashdown Community Foundation said the project is part of their commitment to giving back to the local community of Ashdown through improvement projects benefiting the local city park and downtown area.

Benefit tomorrow for Wilma Middaugh     4/30/2021

EAGLETOWN, Okla. – A benefit dinner and auction is scheduled for this Saturday to help a local resident recuperate from damages suffered to her home during February’s winter storms. Broken Bow Masonic Lodge #441 is partnering with family and friends to hold the benefit for Wilma Middaugh. Wilma’s house was damaged during the snow storms, which caused the home to shift and then collapse. The house is beyond repair and all funds raised for Wilma will go to help her find new living arrangements. She is a former employee of the former De Queen Hospital. The event will be held Saturday, May 1 at the Eagletown School Cafeteria. A bean and bread dinner will be served at 3 p.m. Cost is $7 for adults and $5 for children under 12. An auction will follow the meal at 6 p.m. in the Eagletown Gym.

Arkansas to end suspension of driver’s license for non-payment of fines     4/30/2021

Yesterday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 513 into law, eliminating failure to pay fines and fees as a cause for driver’s license suspensions in non-criminal traffic violations. The bill, which received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate, also gives people with suspended licenses access to a restricted driver’s license to allow them to travel to work and school. The legislation was sponsored by both state Democrats and Republicans.

  • In all, SB513 Eliminate failure to pay fines and fees as cause for driver’s license suspension in non-criminal traffic infractions;
  • Only allows suspensions for failure to appear at hearings expressly held to address nonpayment;
  • And expands access for those with suspended licenses through the creation of a new restricted license.

Louisiana State Fair kicked off last night in Shreveport     4/30/2021

Last night was the opening night of the Lousiana State Fair in Shreveport. The annual state fair will run eleven straight days through May 9 from 12 noon to 10 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Gate admission is $12 and $47 with a carnival armband. The fair FunPass is $100 and includes gate admission and a carnival armband for all 11 days of the State Fair. And make sure to stay tuned to the Morning Brew here on your Number One Country as we are still giving away tickets. Free parking and gate admission is available from 12 noon to 3 p.m. weekdays. Mondays and Thursdays are discount days with admission just $5 after 3 p.m. A number of concerts are scheduled this weekend to help kick off the first few days of the annual state fair. Tomorrow, Nashville South performs at 6 p.m. and again at 7 and 8. Frank Foster will take the stage Saturday starting at 7:30 p.m. Opening for Frank will be The Casey Martin Band taking the stage at 6 p.m. Sunday is Fiesta at the Fair from 12 noon to 10 p.m. This year’s fair will also include the 11th annual Louisiana State Fair Car Show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 2. Other attractions include the Nevreless Nocks Thrill Show, GASCAR Animal Races, Paul Bunyan’s Lumberjack Show, Dallas the Fire Guy, Nick the Escape Guy and much more. Timberview Helicopter Rides will offer helicopter rides above the midway of the Spring State Fair for $20 per person. Go to www.statefairoflouisiana.com for more details on concerts, event schedules, free attractions, and discounted ticket information.

Cossatot River, Dierks School Districts closed today due to ongoing power outages     4/29/2021

Both the Cossatot River and Dierks School Districts have closed their campuses today due to ongoing power outages following last night’s storms. Lingering power outages remain in Sevier, Howard, Little River and Polk Counties. However, power has been restored to most affected customers, according to SWEPCO and SWREA. SWREA was reporting over 1,800 affected customers this morning but power has been restored to all but 20. More rain and thunderstorms are expected today with changes ranging up to 100 percent. Forecasters with the National Weather Service say some storms today can continue to produce heavy rainfall. Currently, most of Southwest Arkansas, including Sevier, Howard and Little River Counties, as well as McCurtain County in Southeastern Oklahoma, are currently under a flash flood watch. Currently, that flash flood watch will remain in effect through 4 p.m. today. Cossatot River School District announced the cancellation of classes today due to the ongoing power outages. We’ve received no other reports of school cancellations. Chances for rain drop off this evening with a 40-60 percent chance. Friday is likely to be dry, with just a 20 percent chance of showers, but more rain is expected Saturday and into next week.

Free tree giveway in De Queen in celebration of Arbor Day     4/29/2021 DE QUEEN – In recognition of National Arbor Day, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is hosting drive-through giveaways of bare root seedlings at various locations across the state this Friday, April 30. The idea behind this event is that adding trees to your yard or to a community forest is beneficial to all Arkansans, and Spring is an excellent time to do so. Organizers say there’s no better way to recognize National Arbor Day, which is celebrated annually on the last Friday of April, than to provide free trees for Arkansas residents. The Forestry Division will be hosting giveaways at various locations across the state. Locally, that includes Bailey Discount Building Supply at 880 E. Collin Raye Drive in De Queen this Friday, April 30. The event will begin at 11 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. that afternoon. Visit www.agriculter.arkansas.gov for giveaway locations across the state, or contact Kristine Kimbro, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator, by emailing Kristine.kimbro@agriculture.arkansas.gov

CenterPoint Energy reminds customers of end of disconnection moratorium     4/29/2021

CenterPoint Energy is urging its Arkansas customers with unpaid balances to contact the utility now to set up payment plan arrangements, with the moratorium on service disconnections for nonpayment scheduled to end on May 3. CenterPoint Energy officials say some customers have accumulated unpaid balances on their utility bill due to financial hardships from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March last year, the utility has suspended disconnections for nonpayment. However, the Arkansas Public Service Commission is removing the moratorium on disconnections effective May 3. When the moratorium ends, customers with unpaid balances who have not made payment arrangements with the utility will be subject to disconnection. To help customers avoid interruption of their service, CenterPoint Energy is offering several payment options, including an 18-month delayed payment arrangement that is available for a limited time. Under this option, a customer can pay their overdue balance in equal installments for a period of up to 18 months. As long as the customer pays their current bill amount and the monthly installment by the due date each month, service will not be disconnected. CenterPoint Energy can also help direct customers to energy payment assistance resources such as the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Customers who need bill payment assistance or who have already received a disconnection notice should contact CenterPoint Energy as soon as possible – either online at CenterPointEnergy.com/PaymentAssistance or by calling customer service at 800-992-7552.

Highway 32 to be closed May 4 over Millwood Lake dam     4/29/2021

MILLWOOD LAKE – One lane of the Highway 32 across Millwood Dam will be closed from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. on May 4 for a routine dam inspection. Officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office regret any inconvenience this may cause and ask for the public’s cooperation until the work is complete. Flaggers will be present to assist with the flow of traffic, but motorists should plan for additional travel time. The closure is being coordinated with emergency services and law enforcement agencies.

Ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony tomorrow for Ashdown splash pad     4/29/2021

ASHDOWN – Community leaders in Little River County will meet tomorrow afternoon to officially inaugurate Ashdown’s new splash pad. The Ashdown Community Foundation announced that the Domtar Community Advisory Team and the City of Ashdown will be officially opening the new splash pad at the Ashdown City Park tomorrow April 30 at 4 p.m. This project was made possible by a generous grant from the Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas and monies raised from the annual Ashdown Community Auction. Volunteers from the Domtar Community Advisory Team and representatives from the City of Ashdown will be hosting the official ribbon cutting event for the new splash pad at the Ashdown City Park. Also on hand will be representatives from the Blue and You Foundation, who provided a grant of $150,000 toward the project. The remaining dollars were made possible by the many individual, community and business supporters of the annual Ashdown Community Auction. Organizers hope the event will bring the community together to officially open the new splash pad. The splash pad will be open daily as of this Saturday, May 1 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through September 30. Tomorrow’s ribbon cutting event and splash pad grand opening to the community will begin at 4 p.m. Fish dinners will be available for $10 each and serving will continue through 7 p.m. or until food runs out. At 5 p.m. a raffle drawing begins. Tickets can still be purchased for $50 and provide a chance to win over $5000 in prizes. The event will take place at the Ashdown City Park Splash Pad, located at 1301 Gordan Drive in Ashdown. Members of the Ashdown Community Foundation said the project is part of their commitment to giving back to the local community of Ashdown through improvement projects benefiting the local city park and downtown area.

Sevier County 4-H to host rabies vaccination clinic next week     4/29/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H will once again host its rabies clinic to help protect local pets and help the organization raise some funds. The drive-thru rabies clinic will be held next Monday through Saturday, May 3-8. The clinic will tour through the county for the convenience of pet owners in Sevier County. On Monday, the clinic will be set up at the Gillham Fire Department from 3:30-5 p.m. On Tuesday, at the new Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center from 3:30-5:30; on Wednesday from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Horatio Community Building; on Thursday from 3-5 p.m. at the Herman Dierks Park; and again at Herman Dierks Park on Saturday from 9-11 a.m. Appointments can, however, be made for other times throughout the week by calling the De Queen Animal Hospital at 642-8387 or the Sevier County Extension Office at 584-3013. Rabies shots are $10 each for both cats and dogs. Other vaccines will be available, including Dapp for dogs at $15, Lepto for dogs at $10, FRCP for cats at $15 and Feluk shots for cats for $20. For each rabies shot given a donation will be made to the Sevier County 4-H. Organizers remind area pet owners that Arkansas law requires all dogs and cats three months of age or older to have a rabies vaccination yearly.

Rep. Vaught provides last legislative update of current session     4/29/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has provided her final update for the current session detailing legislative activities in the Arkansas House of Representatives. The House is now moving into an extended recess and will return this fall to address redistricting. House members negotiated until after midnight to concur in an amendment to HB1957. HB1957 states all acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations of the United States Government that were enacted on or after January 1, 2021, that infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Arkansas Constitution, are invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state. The House then passed SJR14. This is a proposed constitutional amendment titled the “Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment”. It states government may burden a person’s freedom of religion only if the government demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is in the compelling government interest and n the least restrictive means. SB691 bill states that any advertisement using the image of an elected official appearing in any newspaper, television, radio, or electronic medium which is paid by taxpayer funds shall clearly contain the words “Paid advertisement” or “paid ad” and the name of the state entity, county, or constitutional officer that paid for the ad. SB336 creates an exemption from the sales and use tax for coins, currency, and bullion. SB484 states that a nonresident individual who is paid a salary, lump sum payment, or any other form of payment that encompasses work performed both inside and outside of Arkansas shall pay Arkansas income tax only on the portion of the individual’s income that reasonably can be allocated to work performed in Arkansas. SB693 would abolish the state and public school life and health insurance board and transfer the duties to the state board of finance.

DHS graduation ceremony set for May 17     4/27/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools has set its date to send off the 2020-2021 Class of De Queen High School. This year’s graduation ceremony will be held Monday, May 17 in the Leopard Arena. As last year, and due to COVID-19 precautions, the ceremony will be split into three services. The first will commence at 4 p.m., the third at 6 p.m. and the final ceremony at 8 p.m. Graduates will receive 10 tickets each to distribute to family and friends. De Queen High School seniors will have their last day on Tuesday, May 11. Graduation practice will be held May 12 and 13. Those graduating at 4 p.m. will practice at 8 a.m., those graduating at 6 p.m. will practice at 10 a.m., and those graduating at 8 p.m. will practice at 12 noon. Seniors are asked to check their email for this year’s graduation times and seating chart.

Chamber seeking community’s help in cleaning up county before Big Bass Festival     4/27/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is organizing a countywide cleanup event next month in time for the 2021 Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament. Organizers with the chamber will be covering the county from Gillham to Ben Lomond on May 22 to pick up trash in Sevier County. This is being held in preparation for the tourists and fisherman coming for the annual Big Bass Festival. To get involved or see how you can help, contact the chamber office at 584-3225. If no answer, leave a message and the chamber says someone will get back with you ASAP. The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce announced it will present the always-popular fishing tournament on Saturday, May 29. Typically held each year, the event was postponed and then cancelled last year due to COVID-19. However, the Big Bass Festival is a go for 2021 at De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. on May 29. Early registration is $45 per person. Late registration is $50 per person after 4 p.m. on May 28. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes. For more information, contact Greg Ray at 642-2445 or the Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3225. The Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been held annually with only two interruptions for the past 33 years. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

Sevier County Clerk shares information on May school board elections     4/27/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin is sharing information related to the upcoming school board election in May. Positions on several area school boards were up for election this year. In the Horatio School District, that included Zone 4 held by Sherri Hodges and Zone 1 held by Joe Jones. Neither are facing challengers in this year’s election. On the De Queen School Board, Zone 3 will go unoccupied. Incumbent Gloria Caldwell did not seek reelection. The seat will remain open unless a director is appointed to the board. In Dierks Kenneth “Trey” Walt Eckert III is running unopposed for a director position on the Dierks School Board. The only school board race is for Zone F in the Ashdown School District between incumbent Glenda Smedley and challenger Stephanie Ringgold. A poll will be open in Ben Lomond on election day for residents of Sevier County who live within the Ashdown School District’s boundaries. This poll will be located in the Ben Lomond Community Building from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 18, election day. All area school districts are maintaining their current millage rate. That includes 44 mills in Horatio, 32.2 in De Queen, 44 in Cossatot River School District, 35.7 in Ashdown, 34 in Mineral Springs and 43 in Dierks. The Sevier County Courthouse will be the sole polling location for Sevier County voters living within the Horatio and De Queen School Districts. Early voting will be conducted at the county clerk’s office beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 11 and continuing through 5 p.m. on Monday, May 17. Election day is May 18. In related news, Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin is informing the public on the pollworkers slated for this year’s school board election. Early and absentee election officials include Akin and county clerk employees Lisa Sherwood and Renea Bailey. Absentee and central counters will include Maureen Burrow, Patti Boone, Brandi Cole and Susan Alspaw. If you have any objection to any person who has been assigned to work this election, contact Sevier County Election Commission Chairperson, Barbara Hoyt, at bfhoyt@earthlink.net. You may also call the office of the Sevier County Clerk at 642-2852. Objections must be made by May 10.

Dierks tables proposal to incorporate four-day school week     4/27/2021

DIERKS – The Dierks School District’s proposal to shift to a four-day school week has been put on hold. During its meeting last week, the Dierks School Board heard from the district’s Personnel Policy Committee on its decision to table the four-day school week initiative. Beth Shelton spoke on behalf of the committee and said more data was needed. She added the initiative was also put on hold to allow time for the formation of a teacher committee to look into the proposal. With the tabling of this proposal, the committee went on to approve the 2021-2022 school calendar on a five-day school week basis. The four-day school week is a growing trend in Arkansas. Currently, Cossatot River School District operates on a four-day school week. Mineral Springs School District voted earlier this year to transition to four-days beginning with the next school year. In other business, the school board approved Elementary Summer School July 12-July 23 from 8:30a.m. – 12:20p.m. each day. The teachers for Summer School will include Katrina Pickett, April Kappus, Charlotte Tipton and Cassie Kirby. If students need transportation, Cassie Kirby will drive a school bus and Katrina Pickett will drive a school vehicle. Compensation will be followed per the salary schedule. ACT School is scheduled for June 29-July 1 and July 5-8 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon each day. High School Summer School June 7-10, and June 14-17 for 9th through 12th grade English.

Weather to be wet over the next few days in SWAR     4/27/2021

DE QUEEN – If you somehow believe we’ve not gotten enough rain already this month, just hold on. There’s plenty more coming this week. Forecasters with the National Weather Service are calling for rain for much of the rest of the week. Today’s chances are just 20 percent, including a slight chance for thunderstorms, but those chances increase greatly throughout the week. Tonight’s chances are 30 percent, mainly after 8 p.m. Chances are 50 to 60 percent tomorrow for showers and thunderstorms, 80 to 90 percent Wednesday night and again 90 percent on Thursday. Chances drop off Thursday night and then on Friday, which has only a 20 percent chance of showers. Temperatures will remain around average this week with highs in the 80s today and tomorrow but then into the low to mid 70s the rest of the week and into the weekend. No warnings or watches are in effect at this time but we here at your Number One Country studies will keep you up to date on any changes.

“Power of Travel” is theme for 2021 National Travel and Tourism We     4/27/2021

The travel industry in Arkansas and across the globe has been hit hard over the past year. We’ve all the seen the headlines about lost revenue and economic instability because of COVID-19. Yet, hope is now on the horizon, and people are ready to get back out and explore. Travel’s ability to bounce back after periods of economic hardship is why the theme of this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week, May 2-8, is the Power of Travel. The week serves as an opportunity to remind visitors and Arkansans alike about the incredible value the travel industry holds not just for our local economy and workforce, but to our community’s identity and culture — and to illustrate travel’s ability to help power recovery efforts. Travel and tourism are an important part of who we are as a community. Nationally, travel generated $2.6 trillion in economic output, supported 17 million American jobs and delivered a $51 billion trade surplus to the U.S. in 2019, according to the U.S. Travel Association. In Arkansas, tourism contributed $7.68 billion to our state in 2019, and during that time more than 36 million visitors traveled throughout The Natural State. Also in 2019, the tourism industry provided jobs for more than 68,000 Arkansans. However, this vital revenue source stemming from business and leisure travelers was severely diminished during the pandemic. In 2020, the entire U.S. travel industry lost half a trillion dollars in travel-related spending. With such losses, a broader economic recovery hinges on recovery within the travel industry. Arkansas’s tourism industry was also significantly impacted, but fortunately, the state was well-positioned for the COVID-19 pandemic. Arkansas, after all, is known as The Natural State for a reason, from our outdoor recreation opportunities to our wide-open spaces — which are exactly what travelers have been looking for during this public health emergency. While the rapid pace of vaccinations has provided hope that a return to normal is on its way, a resurgence in travel demand is not inevitable. With the right measures in place, Arkansas can get people moving again in a safe and healthy way, restore the workforce and help power a broader economic recovery. The road ahead is challenging, but the travel industry is resilient and has an incredible ability to bounce back from hard times. This is the toughest challenge the U.S. travel industry has ever faced, but travel is one of the best-equipped industries to lead a revival.

EZ Marts in Gillham, Lockesburg now selling beer     4/26/2021

SEVIER COUNTY – The list of places to buy beer in Sevier County keeps growing.

EZ-Mart stores in Gillham and Lockesburg joined the list late last week. Until then, the first and only place to buy beer in Sevier County was La Perla Tapatia in downtown De Queen. Mario Zuniga, owner of La Perla, said he filled out all the necessary forms and paperwork as soon as he could to get a jump start on the licensing process. He began selling beer last month and has seen business grow tremendously since as the first and only place to buy beer. La Perla remains, at this time, the only place to buy beer in De Queen. EZ Marts in Gillham and Lockesburg are adding to that very short list. De Queen’s two EZ Marts in De Queen remain beer free at this time but an employee at one location said it is only a matter of time before these two, also, begin selling. Under state law, Sevier County is permitted two liquor stores. Officials with Arkansas’ alcohol beverage control board stated it would likely be the mid-point of this year, maybe even later, before those two permits are awarded. The two permits will be distributed through a blind draw. Restaurants in Sevier County may also apply to sell beer, wine and liquor by the glass. As of this time it appears no restaurant in the county has yet received a license but we do know some have applied.

Sevier County reporting no active COVID-19 cases at this time     4/26/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County is reporting zero active cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

This is the first time the county’s active caseload has fell to zero since the pandemic began – an amazing turn of the tide given the three-digit active cases seen at the beginning of this year and last summer as the pandemic ramped up. Health officials in Arkansas have warned however that with the reduction in daily new cases across the state, fewer people are getting tested. This means fewer cases of the virus are being detected. Nonetheless, Sevier County reaching zero active cases feels like and certainly is a major milestone. In terms of cumulative cases, the Arkansas Department of Health reports a total of 2,786 people in Sevier County caught COVID-19 at some point over the past year. 24 county residents have died according to the Department of Health In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting eight active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,235 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42. Howard County is reporting five active cases at this time. Total cases remain at 1,650 and deaths at 25. Active cases in Polk County currently number 15 – a modest increase over the weekend and from last week when active cases fell nearly to zero. Total cases currently number 1,981 while deaths remain at 71. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 64 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Sunday for a cumulative total of 334,706 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 69 to 1,922 currently. One death was reported yesterday for a total of 5,718 since last spring. Currently 152 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Horatio Elementary registration today and tomorrow     4/26/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary will host registration for students new to the district today and again on Tuesday, April 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. both days. Parents who want to send their children to Horatio Public Schools for the 2021-2022 school year are reminded the deadline for school choice is May 1. School choice applications can be picked up from the administration office.

Rep. Vaught provides update on Arkansas legislative activities     4/26/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has provided another update detailing legislative activities within the Arkansas House of Representatives. Last week, the House passed a bill to reduce the sales tax from 6.5% to 3.5% on used cars priced from $4,000-$10,000. That bill, HB1912, passed both chambers and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. Other tax measures passing the House this week include HB1719. HB1719 creates the Reboot Pilot Program. It would provide income tax credits for employers who hire former felony offenders who were released from his or her first term of incarceration in the last year. The maximum amount of this credit is $3,000. The House expects to enter an extended recess beginning Tuesday, April 27, and return in the fall to address congressional redistricting. The Governor has also indicated he intends to call a special session in the fall to address additional tax cuts. You can find all House agendas and links to live streams at www.arkansashouse.org.

UA Cossatot’s Fiesta Fest this Saturday     4/26/2021

UA Cossatot will host Fiesta Fest this Saturday, May 1. The event, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, will be held in Downtown De Queen on North 3rd Street and West De Queen Avenue in front of the Courthouse from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. The festival’s focus is bringing the community together to celebrate the cultures of Southwest Arkansas while raising scholarship money for UA Cossatot students. Festivities will include food, vendors, live music, a DJ and light show, folkloric dancing, carnival rides, games, inflatables, and more. Erika Buenrostro of UA Cossatot said the event is a great time for all of residents of the area to come together for a common cause. The event aims to celebrate the cultures that make up Sevier County’s community and help provide students of the college with a scholarship funded through money raised at this event. To become a sponsor or vendor for Fiesta Fest, contact Dustin Roberts, Director of Development, at droberts@cccua.edu or 870-584-1172.

Frog gigging season now open in Arkansas     4/26/2021

Winter’s last gasp last week may have kept some frogs quiet during a few nights, but bullfrogs are sounding off at night again. And frog-gigging fanatics will be back to chasing them on ponds and lakes throughout Arkansas. Bullfrog season opened this month and will run through Dec. 31.

It may not come with the fanfare of opening day of deer season, and no one’s ever joined a “gigging camp,” but the men and women willing to put forth some effort can be handsomely rewarded for their “legwork.” In Arkansas, only bullfrogs may be harvested, and a valid fishing license is required. The limit is 18 frogs per day, measured from noon one day until noon the next day. Bullfrogs may not be sold except by fish farmers with a valid commercial bullfrog permit. Frogs may be harvested with archery tackle (bows and crossbows), hook-and-line, gig or simply snatching them up by hand. By far the most popular method is to use a 10-foot long pole tipped with a barbed gig point or spring-loaded jaw. Wading along the shallows of a pond, scanning the surface of the water will reveal the glowing eyes of the frogs. Mesh bags and wire fish baskets used by bream anglers come in very handy, as they don’t give the frogs an opportunity to escape like a cooler lid being opened. If the pond is too deep to maneuver along the bank, a small canoe or jon boat works well with an electric motor or paddle, but it’s best to have at least two in the boat. Giggers in boats can take turns keeping the light focused on the frog and paddling or controlling the trolling motor while the other gigger focuses on making a good stab at his prey. Grabbing frogs by the hand is done much the same way except that it requires you to get much closer. Bullfrogs can be found across Arkansas, but the heaviest concentrations usually are found along the many ponds, slow-moving streams and fish farms in the eastern half of the state. It may take some door-knocking and asking for permission, but some small private ponds can prove worth the effort once you break out the gigging gear.

Ashdown pastor to launch ninth annual Impact Walk for Christ fundraiser on Saturday     4/23/2021

ASHDOWN – Tomorrow morning Jim Cross, pastor of Ashdown United Methodist Church, will set off on his ninth annual 30-mile, 10-hour journey to show service to God while also helping raise funds for area folks in need. Organizers and supporters will gather starting at 12 noon at Ashdown United Methodist Church for a cornhole tournament and several other fundraising activities before welcoming Cross at the finish line that afternoon. We spoke to Cross earlier this week about this annual walk, which has raised over $160,000 in the past eight years.

In case you missed that story, here it is along with a welcome to come by tomorrow after noon to help Cross help others through the spirit of service to Jesus Christ:

The full audio story is available here:
The partial transcript is featured below:
Jim Cross, pastor of Ashdown United Methodist Church, has raised over $160,000 in eight years for charitable causes in Little River County through his annual Impact Walking for Christ event. He will host the ninth event this Saturday.

If you happen to drive through Little River County this Saturday, you’re likely to see one guy walking on the side of the road at a very determined pace. His vehicle didn’t break down nor is he doing it just for the exercise. In fact, he’ll be walking 30 miles on Saturday to help raise thousands of dollars for those in need in Little River County.

Jim Cross, pastor of Ashdown United Methodist Church, will be once again undergoing the Impact 2021 Walking for Christ charitable walkathon in Little River County this Saturday. This will be Cross’ ninth year to organize the event. Over the past eight years he’s walked during the event to show service to God while also raising an absolutely incredible amount of money to help his community.
Cross is no stranger to community service and finding ways to help local folks in need. Last year he helped organize an effort to provide free meals in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic – an effort which didn’t just assist those facing food insecurity, but also aided the local business community by patronizing restaurants in Little River County. Cross and his church also organized a huge shoe and clothing drive for youth in the county.
Cross said he had no idea his Walking for Christ benefit would grow to see the impact it now has. Raising over $160,000 through the event over the past eight years has allowed Cross and his church to aid so many organizations, groups and individuals over those years.
This year the benefit walk will grow to include a memorial scholarship fund in memory of CJ Harris. Cedrick “CJ” Harris passed away earlier this year following an ATV accident over the spring break holiday. He was just 14-years-old.
Cross said he couldn’t be more thankful to – and proud of – his community for helping to make the Impact Walking for Christ event such an incredible success. He said the event has seen an outpouring of support from all over Little River County and beyond.

Following Cross’ 30-mile journey, he along with event organizers will host a cornhole tournament and BBQ chicken dinner at Ashdown United Methodist Church. He invites everyone to come by and help join in the fun while supporting charitable causes in Little River County.
The cornhole tournament and other festivities will kick off starting at 12 noon this Saturday, April 24 at Ashdown United Methodist Church located at 145 E. Commerce Street in Ashdown.
Horatio FFA Judging Team earns state championship win     4/23/2021
The Horatio FFA Livestock Judging Team earned a state championship win at this year’s state competition. The team will head to the national competition this fall. Pictured from left to right are team members Hunter Frachiseur, Gabbi Litchford, Raylee VanVoast and Madison Bagley.

HORATIO – This spring was an exciting one for Horatio High School’s Future Farmers of America chapter after one of its team took not just the district win but the state championship as well. Now they’re setting their sights on the National Competition this fall.

The Horatio FFA Livestock judging team, consisting of six Horatio High School students, was crowned state champion during last week’s competition. As part of the state competition the livestock team evaluates and ranks cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats. They study Expected progeny differences – also known as EPDS – and use them in a given scenario to choose the best animals to keep as breeding pieces on their farms. Then they stand before strangers and articulate from memory the reasons they made their choices. Horatio FFA Nicki Litchford said the livestock judging team attends many summer camps and travels countless miles in the spring attending practice contests in Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Arkansas. This year looked a little different as they sat in the classroom and looked at stock virtually more than any of them wanted too due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But their tenacious work paid big dividends as they were named the 2021 State Champions. They were second in the virtual state qualifying contest that took them to state for the eighth year in a row. Horatio’s livestock team members included Gabbi Litchford, Raylee VanVoast, Madison Bagley, Hunter Frachiseur, Megan Midgett, Blake Sawyer and coach Nicki Litchford. Madison, Gabbi, Hunter and Raylee went on to mark as the senior team at the state contest where Madison Bagley was 2nd high individual, Hunter Frachiseur was 4th high, Raylee VanVoast was 15th, and Gabbi Litchford was 19th. They will compete in the National Competition this fall.

City of Lockesburg to send out income survey to city residents in hopes of qualifying for water tower improvement grant     4/23/2021

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg City Council addressed a number of issues during its council meeting this week, including a survey for city residents to fill out in hopes of helping the city secure an improvement grant for the municipal water tower. During the meeting, councilors heard from Blake Harrell of the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District regarding the survey and grant. Blake informed the city it would only qualify for the water tower grant if it could prove at least 51 percent of Lockesburg residents are identified as low-income. Currently, that figure is just below the threshold at 47 percent, according to the 2020 Census. Harrell said the city did have an alternative path to secure the grant. A survey sent to each water customer and then returned could possibly bring the city to the 51 percent low-income level. The only other alternative would be for the city to borrow the needed funds. After a lengthy discussion, the city council approved sending surveys to each water customer in Lockesburg. City officials will attempt to complete outstanding surveys by following up with door-to-door visits. Customers will be asked to complete the survey and return them as soon as possible in order to help the city secure the water tower improvement grant. In other business, Wastewater Manager Matt Webb addressed the council concerning an increase in the rates for water and sewer taps. The council approved setting the charge for each new tap at 10 percent over the cost of materials. Webb also updated the council on improvements currently underway on Peck Street. A new culvert has been installed and estimates are being sought to chip and seal the road. Webb added the city is researching the possibility of installing speed bumps on the road. Several other items discussed included setting a countywide cleanup day on May 22 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sign up for the event will be held at the Lockesburg city park pavilion on the day of the event. The council also approved this year’s Fourth of July celebration. Lockesburg will host the event on Sunday, July 4.

Sevier County Libraries announce story time events, other activities     4/23/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher is providing us with some info on upcoming activities hosted by local libraries. Wednesday, May 5 starting at 4 p.m., the De Queen Library will host its first in-house story time since COVID-19 entered Arkansas last year. This will be a Mother’s Day-themed Story Time and the first 20 children that attend will be able to give their mom a carnation for Mother’s Day. Librarians do ask that masks are worn for the safety of everyone who attends. A second story time will be held Wednesday, May 19 with Kelsie. The library’s Summer Reading Program is just around the corner so be on the lookout for news about this always-popular event. Ms. Catherine Smith will be teaching a basic beginner “Crochet Class” in May. The first class is May 4 at 5 p.m. and is free to the public. This will be an introductory class and includes information attendees need like what kind of materials to bring to future classes. Fisher said dominos will be back on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. beginning May 5. The library also has board games, bingo, cards and chess set up. The De Queen Library is continuing its “Book Yard Sale. Books are 10 cents each or buy a bag for $1. The Horatio Library will host two story times on May 1 and May 15. Check out the library’s Facebook page for additional details. Domino games are back at the Horatio Library starting May 7 at 9 a.m. Everyone is invited to come by, enjoy the fun and catch up with some old friends. Visitors to the library are asked to wear a mask.

Drug Take Back Day event in De Queen tomorrow     4/23/2021

DE QUEEN – Local and state law enforcement agencies in Arkansas are encouraging Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets and dispose of any unused or expired medications during Take Back Day tomorrow. Arkansans will be able to conveniently use one of 250 drop-off locations across the state between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Drug Take Back Day, Saturday, April 24. Cleaning out medicine cabinets and turning the expired, unused medications over to law enforcement during a Drug Take Back event can and will save lives, say law enforcement officials. They stress it is more important now than ever that Arkansans properly dispose of these prescription drugs. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and the district Drug Task Force will host a Drug Take Back event on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Walmart in De Queen. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office also maintains a permanent Drug Take Back drop off bin at its location on Robinson Road. The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office hosts Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice a year in partnership with numerous state and local agencies. Event sites are held at various locations across the State but year-round locations are also available and can be found at ARTakeBack.org. Since the program began, more than 206 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is over 412,600 thousand pounds of individual pills.

Howard, Polk Counties report additional deaths this week due to COVID     4/23/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County number two currently, indicating no net increase in active cases this week. Total cases grew just slightly to 2,786. Deaths from the virus since last spring remain at 24. In neighboring counties, Little River County reported one additional death due to COVID-19 this week for a total of 42 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw an uptick this week and now number nine. Total cases are 1,235. Howard County also reported an additional death this week for a total of 25. Active cases currently number two. Total cases since the pandemic are 1,647. Polk County is reporting nine active cases at this time. Cumulative cases number 1,976. Deaths remain at 71. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 352 cases of COVID-19 statewide for a cumulative total of just over 334,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases grew by 139 to 1,934 currently. Two deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,708 since last spring. Currently 175 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

CASA presenting “Best of the Blues” Day tomorrow for Child Abuse Awareness Month     4/22/2021

DE QUEEN – April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and members of one local advocacy group are hoping to raise more attention to the ongoing issue of child abuse in Arkansas and across the nation.

Martin added that residents of Sevier County can help raise awareness of this growing issue and have a little fun in the process. Throughout this month, CASA is presenting “Best of the Blues Day.” Folks in the community are asked to wear blue on Fridays, grab their co-workers, take a photo and share them on the CASA Ouachita Region’s Facebook page. The photo with the most likes will win a pizza party at the end of the month. One picture from each of CASA’s counties, including Polk, Montgomery and Sevier, will be chosen. She said groups can post a photo each Friday to increase their chances to win. There are just two Fridays left to participate. In addition, Martin said CASA is always looking for volunteers to serve as advocates for children in a foster program or going through a court process. She said CASA is one of the best ways for ordinary people to become a voice for abused and neglected children. For more information, call CASA’s De Queen office at (870) 518-4098.

FRIENDS hold economic development meeting, discuss potential for chain hotel in Sevier County     4/22/2021

DE QUEEN – FRIENDS held its monthly board of directors meeting on April 16, 2021 at 11:30 AM on the UA Cossatot De Queen Campus. In attendance were President: Mike Branson, Vice President: Greg Revels, Secretary/Treasurer: Jay Bunyard, Angie Walker, Dr. Steve Cole, Sevier County Judge: Greg Ray, Randell Wright, Tiffany Maurer, and Kristen Pike (remotely). The board began the meeting by approving the minutes from the February 12th board of directors meeting and receiving a financial update that the foundation has successfully secured enough funding to provide the economic development department with an operating budget for three years (2021 through 2023). The board voted to create a spending threshold for the economic development director to maintain transparency in spending operations for the department. Kristen Pike, the Regional Director of North American Development for Best Western Hotels, presented to the group on Sevier County’s outlook for a chain hotel. She described the costs associated with a hotel project for Sevier County and made recommendations on the specifications needed for a successful project. The board discussed the importance of a county-specific Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy to use as a holistic approach to economic development for Sevier County in the form of a strategic plan. The current CEDS for Sevier County is provided by Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District but applies to the eleven county service area and doesn’t directly address Sevier County’s opportunities and goals. The board is contacting state economic development and research agencies for guidance on creating a CEDS to benefit Sevier County as a whole and will address their findings during their next meeting in May. Tiffany Maurer updated the group on the ACT Work Ready Communities Boot Camp she and David Sirmon attended on behalf of Sevier County in March and the goals assigned to the county to achieve a Work Ready Communities designation. She notified the group that ACT now considers supporting businesses as those that either Recognize or Recommend an ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT NCRC) from their applicants. A Recognizing business acknowledges that they understand what the ACT NCRC is. A Recommending business acknowledges that they give preference to applicants with an NCRC for promotion over those without the certificate. She is in the process of getting a community team together to encourage adoption of the ACT WRC program. For more information or questions about becoming a member of FRIENDS, please contact Tiffany Maurer at 870-584-1184 or email tmaurer@cccua.edu.

Hospital board conducting CEO interviews this week     4/22/2021

DE QUEEN – Members of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors are holding interviews this week for the new hospital’s administrator position. The board met earlier this week to begin narrowing down its applications for the hospital’s CEO/administrator position. The CEO/administrator position will be responsible for overseeing construction of the new hospital as that process completes as well as heading all day-to-day operations once the medical center opens in 2022. The position will include a salary of between $160,000 and $200,000. Board Chairman Dr. Steve Cole said the board plans to announce its CEO hire at its May meeting. Plans are to have the position filled and on the job by June 1.

Create Bridges Team to host business seminar in De Queen     4/22/2021

DE QUEEN – The Create Bridges Team is offering a free seminar in De Queen to assist those with the dream of starting and owning their own business.

The free business coaching seminar will be held on Tuesday, May 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day. The event is scheduled at the office of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce in downtown De Queen. The seminar will be presented in both English and Spanish. Although free, an appointment is required to attend the seminar. Appointments can be set by calling (720) 477-9659 or by emailing mwiley@uada.edu.

Fundraiser for GVFD will be May 1     4/22/2021

The Gillham Volunteer Fire Department will host its annual BBQ Fundraiser next Saturday, May 1 at the Gillham Fire Station. Food will begin being served starting at 11 a.m. and continue to 4 p.m. Both pork and chicken plates are available with all the fixings. This will be a drive-thru event this year and by donation. The Gillham Volunteer Fire Department is still selling chances on a gun raffle fundraiser for a Thompson Center 6.5 Creedmoor bolt-action rifle. The rifle will include a vortex scope and four boxes of ammo. Chances are $10 each or six for $50. The drawing will be held on May 3 with Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin drawing the winning ticket. The winner will not have to be present but must be at least 18 years of age and be able to pass a background check. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to purchase equipment for the Gillham Volunteer Fire Department. Tickets can be purchased through 1 p.m. on May 3 by contacting Gillham Fire Chief Marc Rosson at 584-9434 or by contacting any Gillham fighter.

Arkansas law enforcement agencies warn of package scam through texts     4/22/2021

Arkansas law enforcement agencies are warning residents of another new scam targeting those in the Natural State. The latest trend from these annoying scam artists comes as a text message telling Arkansans a package is being delivered to their home and they must click on the link in the message. In reality, there is no package, the text does not come from a legitimate delivery company, and the scammer is just trying to hack into a user’s phone and steal personal information. Agencies are providing a few tips for Arkansans who experience one of these phishing text message scams: -Do not reply to unsolicited text messages and do not click on the links in the message. If you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Sprint subscriber, you can report spam texts to your carrier by copying the original message and forwarding it to the number 7726 (SPAM), free of charge. -If you find unauthorized charges on your cell phone bill, report those to your cell phone provider and ask that the charges be removed. -Check with your wireless carrier to see if it has options available to reduce text message spam, such as blocking all text messages that originate from a computer or the internet. Texts sent by an email address, as opposed to direct-dialed texts, are those most likely to be scams. -Apple iPhones and Google Android users have provided instructions for customers to block specific numbers. -Protect your phone by setting up software to update automatically. The software updates can give you critical protection against security risks. -Use a multi-factor authentication process to protect your accounts which offers extra security by requiring two or more login credentials to log in to an account on your phone. This could be a passcode, fingerprint, or even your face. -Backing up your data is the most secure way to protect your information. Make a copy of your files, photos and other important data on your phone and make sure it is connected to a cloud storage device or external hard drive, not connected to your home network. 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 visit ArkansasAG.gov.

Horatio Elementary registration for new students is April 26-27     4/22/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary will host registration for students new to the district on Monday, April 26 and again on Tuesday, April 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. both days. Parents who want to send their children to Horatio Public Schools for the 2021-2022 school year are reminded the deadline for school choice is May 1. School choice applications can be picked up from the administration office.

De Queen City Council approves $484k bid for park splash pad     4/21/2021

DE QUEEN – Work is likely to begin soon on De Queen’s new splash pad following the acceptance of a construction bid Tuesday night.

During last night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council, Mayor Jeff Brown said the city received a solitary bid for the splash pad construction project. The $484,000 bid came from RJR Enterprises, based out of Rogers, and was unanimously approved by the city council. Brown said work will begin this spring with construction likely to be completed this summer. He added the city may have to cover some additional costs, including a fence around the splash pad and related infrastructure costs. The splash pad itself however is being funded through a $480,000 donation made to the city by Pilgrim’s last year through part of its Hometown Strong initiative. A splash pad is a large water-themed public park attraction usually only seen in much bigger communities. They are praised in other cities for the cool space they provide without the need for a lifeguard because there’s little to no standing water. Splash pads are also known for drawing in residents far and wide during the warmer months. Brown said this latest community project by Pilgrim’s goes “above and beyond their ongoing support of the community.” In a press release Pilgrim’s said the company worked with local leaders to determine where the funds could best help meet immediate and longer-term community needs. Pilgrim’s De Queen/Nashville Complex Manager Eddie Halter said this project will “allow team members and neighbors to enjoy a fun outdoor recreation activity and provide a place for families and friends to come together and socialize. Supporting projects that help improve the quality of life for our community is something we are very passionate about at Pilgrim’s, and we’re grateful our Hometown Strong program is making this possible.” Combined with $95,000 in new equipment slated for Herman Dierks Park this year, the splash pad will help make the park an even greater attraction for future visitors. The donation made by Pilgrim’s for the splash pad is on top of the $225,000 donated by the company last year for construction of a community walking trail at the new hospital in Sevier County. The one-mile-long lighted and landscaped trail will weave through the grounds of the Sevier County Medical Center and will be open for use by the whole community. Pilgrim’s made the donation through its Hometown Strong initiative to bring investment and community projects to the areas in which it serves. Pilgrim’s De Queen/Nashville facility employs more than 1,400 people with an annual payroll of more than $53 million. The facility supports 238 growers, paying them more than $36 million per year for their livestock. Consistent with its long-term commitment to the local economy, the Pilgrim’s De Queen/Nashville complex has invested more than $134 million in capital improvements over the last five years. In other business, the city council voted to apply for a grant that, if received, would pay for sidewalks from Coulter Drive to the De Queen school administration building. The 80/20 split grant would require the city to contribute around $120,000 for the sidewalks. Brown said the city will not know whether it received the grant until next year. Both Brown and the city council expressed the need for a new sidewalk to connect to those on Coulter Drive to increase the safety of students who walk to school. Finally, the city council accepted to spend $2,500 for lifeguard training this summer for lifeguards at the city pool. This will provide training for 14 lifeguards.

Benefit set for May 1 for Wilma Middaugh     4/21/2021

EAGLETOWN – A benefit dinner and auction is scheduled for next month to help a local resident recuperate from damages suffered to her home during February’s winter storms. Broken Bow Masonic Lodge #441 is partnering with family and friends to hold the benefit for Wilma Middaugh. Wilma’s house was damaged during the snow storms, which caused the home to shift and then collapse. The house is beyond repair and all funds raised for Wilma will go to help her find new living arrangements. She was an employee of the former De Queen Hospital. The event will be held Saturday, May 1 at the Eagletown School Cafeteria. A bean and bread dinner will be served at 6 p.m. Cost is $7 for adults and $5 for children under 12. An auction will follow the meal at 6 p.m. in the Eagletown Gym. Wednesday Night Lights this evening at Leopard Stadium     4/21/2021 DE QUEEN – The De Queen Leopards Athletic Department will host Wednesday Night Lights this evening for some fun on the field and to learn more about the district’s football program. All third through 11th grade boys are welcome to come out starting at 8:15 this evening. Parents and the entire community are also welcomed to come out to Wednesday Night Lights at Leopard Stadium to see Leopards football in action and meet De Queen’s football coaches.

Dedication ceremony this Thursday at Hendrix Field in Horatio     4/21/2021

HORATIO – A dedication ceremony will be held this Thursday, April 22 to celebrate the dedication of the new walking trail at Hendrix Field in Horatio. The trial is being dedicated to Jan Hendrix. The event will begin at 12 noon and continue through 2 p.m. Activities include face painting for kids, vendor booths, hot dogs and plenty of family events. The event will also include a presentation for a $75,000 check for a fun park at the field. All are invited to attend.

Grand Opening for splash pad at Ashdown City Park     4/21/2021

ASHDOWN – The Little River County Chamber of Commerce will host a Grand Opening Ceremony on April 30 to inaugurate the new splash pad at Ashdown City Park. The event will begin at 4 p.m. at the park. A raffle fundraiser will be held in addition to a benefit fish fry for $10 a plate. Raffle tickets are $50 each and can be purchased from any member of the Ashdown Community Foundation. Funds raised at the event will go towards future city park projects.

Arkansas officials express concern over slow pace of vaccinations in the state     4/21/2021

Public officials in Arkansas continue to express frustration that demand for COVID-19 vaccines in the state is not matching supply. During a brief COVID-19 Taskforce press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is lagging behind the national average in terms of vaccination rates. He said Arkansans remain hesitant of the vaccine but stressed the need to overcome those concerns to help ensure an end to the pandemic. He added the state is behind on its vaccination schedule which aimed to have 50 percent of the state fully vaccinated by the end of April.

Currently, 2.3 million COVID-19 vaccines have been received by the state. Of those, nearly 1.6 million – or around 68 percent – have been given. The state is reporting around 638,000 Arkansans are now fully immunized. Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero briefly discussed the agency’s focus on studying the spread of COVID-19 variants in Arkansas. In particular, he said the UK variant has seen a 70 percent increase in Arkansas over the past week.

Regarding the state’s COVID-19 figures, the Department of Health reported 198 new cases of COVID-19 across Arkansas on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 333,709 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases grew by 15 to 1,804 over the previous 24 hours. Deaths increased by seven over the same period to 5,706 since last spring. Hospitalizations increased by 13 to leave 177 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Four arrested on felony drug charges following raid on Horatio apartment     4/20/2021

HORATIO – Four Sevier County residents were arrested last week and are facing felony drug charges following a raid on their home by local law enforcement.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, on April 15 deputies and members of the South Central Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at an apartment on 110 Bruce Street in Horatio. During the search officers reported finding a “substantial” amount of illegal narcotics and paraphernalia. Four Horatio residents were arrested following the search. Those included 47-year-old Benji Davis, 40-year-old Katrina Lemons, 19-year-old Levi Lemons and 20-year-old Justin Perez. Davis and Katrina Lemons were charged with possession of controlled substance with purpose to deliver, drug paraphernalia, maintaining a drug premise and distribution of controlled substances within proximity to a certain facility. Levi Lemons and Perez were charged with possession of a controlled substance with purpose to deliver as well as distribution of controlled substances within proximity to a certain facility. All four were arrested and transported to the Sevier County Jail without incident.

Walking for Christ: Ashdown man raises thousands of dollars each year through benefit walk     4/20/2021
The full audio story is available here:
The partial transcript is featured below:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Jim Cross, pastor of Ashdown United Methodist Church, has raised over $160,000 in eight years for charitable causes in Little River County through his annual Impact Walking for Christ event. He will host the ninth event this Saturay.

If you happen to drive through Little River County this Saturday, you’re likely to see one guy walking on the side of the road at a very determined pace. His vehicle didn’t break down nor is he doing it just for the exercise. In fact, he’ll be walking 30 miles on Saturday to help raise thousands of dollars for those in need in Little River County.

Jim Cross, pastor of Ashdown United Methodist Church, will be once again undergoing the Impact 2021 Walking for Christ charitable walkathon in Little River County this Saturday. This will be Cross’ ninth year to organize the event. Over the past eight years he’s walked during the event to show service to God while also raising an absolutely incredible amount of money to help his community.

Cross is no stranger to community service and finding ways to help local folks in need. Last year he helped organize an effort to provide free meals in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic – an effort which didn’t just assist those facing food insecurity, but also aided the local business community by patronizing restaurants in Little River County. Cross and his church also organized a huge shoe and clothing drive for youth in the county.

ross said he had no idea his Walking for Christ benefit would grow to see the impact it now has. Raising over $160,000 through the event over the past eight years has allowed Cross and his church to aid so many organizations, groups and individuals over those years.

This year the benefit walk will grow to include a memorial scholarship fund in memory of CJ Harris. Cedrick “CJ” Harris passed away earlier this year following an ATV accident over the spring break holiday. He was just 14-years-old.

Cross said he couldn’t be more thankful to – and proud of – his community for helping to make the Impact Walking for Christ event such an incredible success. He said the event has seen an outpouring of support from all over Little River County and beyond.

Following Cross’ 30-mile journey, he along with event organizers will host a cornhole tournament and BBQ chicken dinner at Ashdown United Methodist Church. He invites everyone to come by and help join in the fun while supporting charitable causes in Little River County.

The cornhole tournament and other festivities will kick off starting at 12 noon this Saturday, April 24 at Ashdown United Methodist Church located at 145 E. Commerce Street in Ashdown.

Freeze likely in Southwest Arkansas Tuesday night/Wednesday morning     4/20/2021

DE QUEEN – A cold front bringing freezing temperatures to much of Arkansas is expected to arrive late Tuesday night, the National Weather Service warned on Monday. A Freeze Warning has been issued for parts of Arkansas for Tuesday night and Wednesday morning with a late season freeze expected. A freeze watch remains in effect for much of northern and western Arkansas as these locations may experience freezing temperatures, according to the National Weather Service. The freeze watch extends as far south as Polk County but forecasters aren’t ruling out a freeze for Southwest Arkansas including Sevier. Forecasters are predicting a rather unseasonably chilly low of 34 degrees in Sevier County tonight with areas of frost after 2 a.m. Widespread frost is expected before 8 a.m. If you have planted anything that is sensitive to temperatures in this range, make preparations to cover them. Nightly lows will increase into the forties and fifties starting Wednesday night.

Two Sevier County 4-H’ers move on to district competition     4/20/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H held their annual Chicken BBQ this month. Twenty-two youth signed up to compete for a chance to go on to District 4-H BBQ. Each 4-H’er cooked a whole chicken, cut in half, on a charcoal grill.  The 4-H’er could use the seasoning of their choice. They were judged on how well they could start a charcoal fire, control the fire, food safety and handling, and how well they cooked the chicken. When the chicken was done, they picked their best half to be judged on appearance, color, doneness, and taste. Organizers said the Brothers Keepers Motorcycle Club 34 were very helpful in judging the competition and thanked Pilgrim’s for donating the chicken. The top two Senior 4-H’ers will compete at the District Poultry BBQ that will be held at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Arkadelphia on May 7. They will be given the choice to cook either a chicken or a turkey breast. The top two seniors that will represent Sevier County at the District BBQ are Laikyn Morris and Alley Stinson. For more information on Sevier County 4-H, call 584-3013.

Horatio kindergarten registration is today and tomorrow     4/20/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Public Schools will host kindergarten pre-registration on today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again tomorrow, April 21 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. To register for the 2021-2022 kindergarten class at Horatio Public Schools, your child must be five on or before Aug. 1. Parents must bring proof of residency, birth certificate, social security card and immunization record. If you live outside the Horatio School District and would like to send your child to Horatio Schools next year, please fill out a school choice form at the administration office by April 30.

Arkansas may see increase in hunting, fishing licenses     4/20/2021

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is working with Arkansas state legislators to address concerns about failing and outdated infrastructure that provides habitat for the state’s fish and wildlife and public recreation opportunities. To tackle this challenge, they are working together to propose a modest increase to basic resident hunting and fishing licenses, which have remained unchanged since 1990 and 1984, respectively. Other states across the country have periodically adjusted their license fees to keep up with inflation. In fact, every state in the continental U.S. has increased its fees since 1996 to make investments into outdoor recreation, and conservation of fish and wildlife. Arkansas has not increased resident license fees in more than 30 years. The buying power of a $10.50 fishing license set in 1984 is a little over $4 today. Any increases to resident hunting and fishing licenses that the AGFC is authorized to make through this legislation would be earmarked to address deferred maintenance and major renovations to public lands and waters throughout The Natural State. Additionally, the AGFC would be responsible to report on the progress of this effort twice per year. The AGFC maintains and manages more than 400 boat ramps, 50 lakes, five fish hatcheries and nine nature and education centers throughout Arkansas. It also owns more than 380,000 acres of wildlife management areas and co-manages more than 3 million additional acres with state, federal and private partners. Most of the lakes, streams and wildlife management areas the AGFC maintains around the state were built decades ago, and much of that original infrastructure has far exceeded its life expectancy. Water-control structures, spillways, levees and roads all deteriorate with time and use. AGFC officials said recent failures of water-control structures at lakes including Wilhelmina can all can be attributed to age and changes in the surrounding landscape; each causing major issues for anglers, boaters and surrounding landowners. The AGFC said raising fishing and hunting license fees will be one of several ways the agency plans to address its infrastructure issues in the coming years.

Tickets for AHS production of Frozen on sale this week     4/20/2021

ASHDOWN – Tickets are on sale this week for the AHS Panther Theatre production of Frozen, Jr. Tickets will be on sale at the Ashdown Administration Building from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week. Tickets are $5 each.  Performances for the community will be hosted Saturday, April 24 with performances at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. A final showing for the community will be held on Sunday, April 25 in the Ashdown High School Auditorium. District officials advise that masks are required to attend the performances.

Arkansas moratorium on utility disconnections will end May 3     4/20/2021

The Arkansas Public Service Commission is issuing a reminder that the state’s COVID-19 utility service disconnection moratorium will end May 3. Consumers with past due balances have again been receiving disconnection notices to their mailing addresses from their utility companies providing at least a 35-day grace period before shut-off notices will be sent. This applies to customers of Entergy, SWEPCO, CenterPoint Energy and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, among other energy providers. For those still struggling to catch up on their utility bills due to the financial impact of COVID-19, it’s important to take action immediately to seek assistance to avoid disconnection after May 3. Verify what you owe directly with your utility company. Information, including what is owed, must be provided in writing to each customer with a past due balance. Contact the utility company and discuss a payment plan if your bill is unaffordable. Utility companies are required to provide information regarding available payment options on their website and social media platforms. Utility companies are required to offer plans which provide a minimum of 18 months to repay any past due balances with no down payment required. Utility companies must also provide information regarding funds that may be available through assistance agencies or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Law enforcement agencies also warn consumers to not fall for fake calls about utility bills. Verify the status of your account directly with the utility company. You should contact them. Do not assume that someone who contacts you works for the utility company. It could be a scam. The Public Service Commission does not regulate municipal utilities or private water companies, and customers of those utility companies are not affected by the moratorium order.

Ashdown woman charged for alleged assault on jailer, escape attempt     4/19/2021

ASHDOWN – An Ashdown woman facing drug charges has been charged with additional felonies after an alleged assault on a jail employee and a failed escape attempt.

According to records from the Little River Circuit Court, felony charges of first degree attempted escape and second degree battery were filed last week against 44-year-old Rhonda Curtis of Ashdown. The additional charges stem from an incident on March 30 in which Curtis is alleged to have assaulted an employee of the Little River County Jail and then tried to escape.

The affidavit alleges Curtis tried to break free from the jailer after leaving the Little River Courthouse that day for a court appearance. Authorities say Curtis was able to slip one hand from her handcuffs and then struck the jailer several times. She then reportedly tried to pull away and escape custody but was restrained by the jailer after the struggle with assistance from two other jail employees.

The affidavit continues by stating camera footage showed Curtis striking the jailer and kicking her while attempting to pull away.

Curtis has been charged with first degree escape, a class D felony which carries a sentence upon conviction of three to 10 years in prison. In addition, Curtis is also facing a felony charge of second degree battery which could carry an additional sentence of six years in prison. Curtis was in the custody of the Little River County Jail for a drug-related charge following her arrest in late March.

FEMA to provide financial relief for COVID-related funeral expenses     4/19/2021

DE QUEEN – Local funeral homes are informing citizens of Southwest Arkansas and Southeast Oklahoma that beginning  last week, families that experienced the death of a loved one due to COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $9,000 in funeral assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Sarah Casteel of Wilkerson Funeral Home stated two pieces of legislation recently passed by Congress – the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – authorized FEMA to provide financial assistance to families that incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses after January 20, 2020. Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral and memorial services, and burial, interment or cremation. FEMA encourages families that may be eligible to start gathering the following documentation: An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are considered sufficient. Funeral expense documents (e.g., receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and dates the funeral expenses were incurred. Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. Funeral assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance; financial assistance received from voluntary agencies; federal/state/local/tribal/territorial government programs or agencies; or other sources. If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant(s). Applicants can also apply for assistance for more than one individual who died. The FEMA website has complete information about eligibility requirements, documentation applicants will be required to provide, and how to start the application process. Visit https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.

Rep. Vaught provides update on tax credit bills passed by House last week    4/19/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has provided an update detailing legislative activities within the Arkansas House of Representatives. Last week, the House passed several bills which will increase various tax credits and exemptions. Those bills include: HB1157, which would double the income tax deduction for a teacher’s qualified classroom expense from $250 to $500. HB1513 creates an income tax credit for up to $3,500 for retired law enforcement officers who work cold cases for Arkansas State Police. HB1196 would provide a sales and use tax exemption for water used by a poultry farm. HB1054 allows for sales tax exemptions of isolated sales at special events. HB1555 allows the Division of Heritage to issue up to $8 million in historic rehabilitation income tax credits each year. The current maximum amount of credits given is $4 million. HB1160 would increase the sales tax exemption on used motor vehicles. Currently, used cars sold for under $4,000 are exempt from sales tax. This would increase the threshold to $7,500. You can find agendas and links to live streams of all House meetings at www.arkansashouse.org.

AHS Senior Robin Roy named Governor’s Distinguished Scholar    4/19/2021

Robin Roy

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School Senior Robin Roy has been named an Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholar for Little River County this year. In order to even be considered for the honor, a minimum composite score of 32 in the ACT must be made AND either a 3.50 academic grade point average or selection as a National Achievement Finalist or National Merit Finalist. According to a press release sent by the Governor’s office, this scholarship program is deisgned to promote academic excellence and to encourage the state’s most talented graduates to enroll in Arkansas post-secondary educational institutions. This prestigious award is offered by the State of Arkansas and available for a span of four academic years. It can be used at any approved Arkansas public or private college or university. The scholarship can be used for tuition, mandatory fees, room and board. Robin plans to attend Pulaski Tech in their Culinary Arts Program. While at Ashdown High School, she has been on the Quiz Bowl Team, in National Honor Society, Beta Club, and FBLA.

COVID-19 active cases remain near zero levels in SWAR    4/19/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County number just three currently, indicating no net increase in active cases in over a week. Total cases have not increased since Thursday and currently number 2,784. Deaths from the virus since last spring remain at 24. In neighboring counties, Little River County is reporting six active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Total cases number 1,232 with a total of 41 deaths since May of 2020. Active cases in Howard County remain low, with just two currently confirmed cases in the county. Total cases number 1,646 with 24 total deaths. Polk County is also reporting just two cases of COVID-19 at this time. Cumulative cases number 1,968 since the pandemic began. Deaths total 71. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 45 cases of COVID-19 statewide for a cumulative total 333,452 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 50 to 1,910 currently. One death was reported yesterday for a total of 5,694 since last spring. Currently 161 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Volunteers meeting Saturday for work on De Queen Lake mountain bike trail     4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – A group of volunteers working on the construction of a mountain bike trail at De Queen Lake are inviting anyone interested to a work day planned for Saturday, April 17.

Organizers will be working on the trail between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday. Everyone will meet at Pine Ridge Park at De Queen Lake. Anyone interested in helping out is asked to bring some gloves and good hiking shoes. This is a great chance to enjoy a beautiful day, meet some new people and help build what is sure to be a great attraction to Sevier County when completed. Water and snacks will be provided. Call (870) 279-5009 for more details or visit AMP Fitness on Facebook. Also, check out our interview with Organizer Erik Smith who spoke to us about the project and its significance to the area:

Community cleanup event in De Queen on Saturday     4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – Local volunteer organizers are preparing to host a community clean up in De Queen this weekend. Organizers are calling all community members who want to volunteer and make a difference in the community by helping clean up litter are asked to meet at Herman Dierks Park on Saturday, April 17. Everyone interested is asked to meet at the park beginning at 1 p.m. Organizers are also asking anyone who can to donate cleaning supplies such as gloves and trash bags. For more information, contact Jonathan Buenrostro at 784-4468 or check out the Facebook event page for more details.

Drug Take Back Day is April 24; events scheduled in De Queen, throughout Arkansas     4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – Local and state law enforcement agencies in Arkansas are encouraging Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets and dispose of any unused or expired medications during Take Back Day later this month. Arkansans will be able to conveniently use one of 250 drop-off locations across the state between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Drug Take Back Day, Saturday, April 24. Cleaning out medicine cabinets and turning the expired, unused medications over to law enforcement during a Drug Take Back event can and will save lives, say law enforcement officials. They stress it is more important now than ever that Arkansans properly dispose of these prescription drugs. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and the district Drug Task Force will host a Drug Take Back event on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Walmart in De Queen. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office also maintains a permanent Drug Take Back drop off bin at its location on Robinson Road. The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office hosts Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice a year in partnership with numerous state and local agencies. Event sites are held at various locations across the State but year-round locations are also available and can be found at ARTakeBack.org. Since the program began, more than 206 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is over 412,600 thousand pounds of individual pills.

UA Cossatot reopens CARES act relief grants for local college students    4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot recently received an additional $387,000 in federal money to fund student financial relief. UA Cossatot re-opened the application this week to distribute CARES Act funds for spring 2021 students. Students who qualify for the grant will receive $500 if they are enrolled in nine credit hours or more. Students who qualify for the grant will receive $250 if they are enrolled in three to eight credit hours. There will be no deadline to apply; however, funds are limited. Eligible students will continue to be awarded until all funds are disbursed. A change in the most recent award guidelines now allows dual-enrolled high school students to apply for the new funds. The CARES Grant is intended to help offset expenses students experienced because of the COVID-19 health emergency. Student applicants need to indicate their financial needs as a result of COVID-19 on their application. UA Cossatot CARES Grant applications will be sent to student’s college and personal emails as well as a mailed letter with a QR code to apply. For more information on eligibility requirements and a list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit www.cccua.edu/CARES.

Annual Overturf Pie Supper is Saturday night    4/16/2021

GILLHAM – The annual Overturf Pie Supper is scheduled for this Saturday, April 17. Festivities will begin at 7 p.m. that evening at the Overturf Cemetery, located three and a half miles northeast of Gillham. Turn off of Gillham Lake Road and watch for signs to the cemetery. The annual fundraising event will include a prettiest girl contest as well as ugliest man. Donations are greatly welcomed and can be made by sending a check to Lester Overturf at 108 Sixth Street, Gillham, AR 71841. Please make checks payable to the Overturf Cemetery Fund. All proceeds raised are for the upkeep of the Church and cemetery. For more information, contact Lester Overturf at 784-2085, Judy Smith at 582-2284 or Floyd Morris, Jr. at 784-3629.

Sevier County 4-H hold O’Rama even in March    4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H recently held their annual Outdoor County get together and competition, the 4-H O’Rama. Due to COVID, the Outdoor O’Rama was held over various dates throughout March.The competitive events included gun safety and BB gun marksmanship, sports fishing and bicycles.  The winners of these events will be eligible to compete at the District 4-H O’Rama held in June. Even though it was a COVID year, 42 4-H’ers competed, which broke the record for the highest number of participants ever. First place winners from each competition are as follows: Drake Click received first place in the Junior Gun Safety and BB Gun competition. Hunter Frachiseur took first place in the senior division of this competition. Landon Frachiseur placed first in junior category of the Reel into Sports Fishing event. Hunter Frachiseur placed first in the senior category. In the junior bicycle competition, Blair Bissell received top place while Dori Bartek was first in the senior category. Gun Safety and BB Gun – JUNIORS:  1st – Drake Click, 2nd – Jake Seymour, 3rd –Ty Wagner, 4th – Charlie Collins, and 5th – Kaedon Davis. SENIORS:  1st – Hunter Frachiseur, 2nd – Ethan Wolcott, 3rd – Laikyn Morris, 4th – Brayden Frachiseur, and 5th – Kinlee Stivers. Reel into Sports Fishing – JUNIORS: 1st – Landon Frachiseur, 2nd – Drake Click, 3rd – Pace Frachiseur, 4th – Jake Seymour, and 5th – Keegan McCoy.  SENIORS:  1st – Hunter Frachiseur, 2nd – Brayden Frachiseur, 3rd – Ethan Wolcott, 4th – Kinlee Stivers, and 5th – Laikyn Morris Bicycle – JUNIORS:  1st – Blair Bissell, 2nd – James Bartek, 3rd – Keegan McCoy, 4th– Wade Melton, and 5th – Libbie Bartek. SENIORS: 1st – Dori Bartek. For more information on 4-H, contact Sevier County Extension Service at (870) 584-3013.

COVID-19 figures continue to remain low in SWAR    4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continue to remain at near zero levels, with just three active cases currently reported. Total cases now number 2,784 with the vast majority of those having recovered. Deaths from the virus since last spring remain at 24. In neighboring counties, Little River County is reporting just four active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Total cases number 1,227 with a total of 41 deaths since May of 2020. Active cases in Howard County are also near zero levels, with just three currently confirmed cases in the county. Total cases number 1,645 with 24 total deaths. Polk County is reporting three active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Cumulative cases number 1,967 since the pandemic began. Deaths total 71. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 283 cases of COVID-19 statewide for a cumulative total of just under 333,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases grew by 128 to 1,843 currently. Six deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,686 since last spring. Currently 153 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

De Queen School Board approves end-of-year compensation for teachers, staff     4/15/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen teachers and staff are set to receive some extra compensation at the end of the school year following a decision by the De Queen School Board Tuesday night.

That evening and under the recommendation of Superintendent Jason Sanders, the school board voted to provide end-of-the-year compensation to all certified and classified employees within the school district. The bonus equals $17 per day over 178 days for certified employees like teachers and $8.50 per day over 178 days for classified employees like bus drivers and custodians. The total days chosen – 178 – equals the number of days the De Queen School District was open for onsite instruction this school year. Sanders said it’s a testament to his teachers and staff that classes were kept in-person so long during the pandemic. In contrast, many schools across the nation have been closed to onsite instruction for a year now because of COVID-19 concerns. Sanders said the De Queen School District is fortunate it’s been able to conduct classes more or less uninterrupted this school year. He said De Queen’s teachers deserve some extra compensation for this accomplishment. The teaching during the pandemic, Sanders said, imposed many extra duties and strains on the profession. The additional compensation, Sanders added, will be paid for through money received by the school from the federal CARES Act. At this moment, the De Queen School District has around $10.2 million in federal funds made available through the COVID relief bills passed in 2020 and 2021. These funds, however, are restricted in what they can be used for. In addition, the district has three years to spend the money. Assistant Superintendent Paul Shelton stated the lion’s share of these funds will be used for student remediation. In particular, resources will be aimed at the district’s virtual learners and those students who fell behind due to the early closure of schools during the 2019-2020 school year. The district recently identified around 80 percent of its virtual students in need of some remedial instruction – a similar problem encountered by nearly every school district in the nation and referred to nationally as the “Grade Depression.” Shelton said this effort will be made through hiring additional teachers, reducing class sizes and increased tutoring opportunities for students. Shelton added other federal COVID relief funds will go towards more classroom technology as well as additional cleaning staff and supplies.

AHS Senior Cole Spigner named Arkansas Governor’s Scholar      4/15/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School Senior Cole Spigner has been named an Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholar for Little River County this year.  In order to even be considered for the honor, a minimum composite score of 32 in the ACT must be made AND either a 3.50 academic grade point average or selection as a National Achievement Finalist or National Merit Finalist. This is a scholarship program seeks to promote academic excellence and to encourage the state’s most talented graduates to enroll in Arkansas post-secondary educational institutions is created and established which shall be cited as the Arkansas Governor’s Scholars Program.  According to a press release, “This prestigious award offered by the State of Arkansas is available for a span of four academic years.  It can be used at any approved Arkansas public or private college or university.  The scholarship can be used for tuition, mandatory fees, room and board.”

Cole will attend the University of Arkansas in the fall and has been accepted into the Honors College. He plans to study Physics and Astronomy.  While at Ashdown High School, he played football and baseball throughout those years and made  7-4A All-Conference Football this year.  He is also a member of Beta Club, National Honor Society, and First Baptist Church Youth Ministry.  

Arkansas law enforcement agencies to launch campaign at driving under the influence      4/15/2021

Arkansas State Troopers and law enforcement officers across the state will intensify their patrols next week looking for drivers who are impaired by drugs.  The special operation is part of a five state plan directed toward the dangerous practice of driving while under the influence of both illegal and legal drugs.

If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DWI, will kick-off Sunday, April 18 and continue through Tuesday, April 20th. During thiseffort in Arkansas, state troopers, local police officers and sheriff’s deputies will intensify enforcement of drug impaired driving laws.  Just as drunk driving is caused by the consumption of alcohol, driving while intoxicated by drugs is illegal in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C.  Officers will stop and arrest anyone they find to be impaired by drugs or alcohol. It’s an erroneous presumption by many that driving while high won’t diminish their judgement or ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.  Studies have proven that THC, the active component of marijuana, slows the mind’s reaction time, impairs cognitive performance, and challenges the ability of a driver to safely hold their position inside a traffic lane. The simple truth is it doesn’t matter what term is used, anyone who is high, stoned, wasted, or drunk, is impaired.  Driving while impaired is illegal and can be deadly to the driver and others on the road. “Operating any kind of vehicle while under the influence of a drug is dangerous and can lead to injury or death on the roadways,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Arkansas State Police Director and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “It doesn’t have to be an illegal substance to cause impairment, it can be medicine for a cold or a sleep aid,” Colonel Bryant continued.  “Many over the counter and prescribed medications, as well as illegal substances like marijuana or cocaine can lead to impaired driving that will result in a DWI charge against the driver.  Our state troopers and law enforcement partners will make no exceptions.” A driver should always remember to never over medicate themselves, never drive after being prescribed a new medication until its known what effect it might have on their judgment, coordination, and reaction time.  While particular medications may not necessarily impair a driver, the combination of a second or third medicine or the consumption of alcohol can often lead to impairment.  Any form of impaired driving is illegal and can result in the arrest of a driver. When travel is necessary and someone is impaired, there are options to get to a destination that should be considered.  Ask a sober driver for help, use public transportation, a rideshare service or call a friend before trying to drive while impaired.  The extra time it might take could save someone’s life.

Foreman Farmers Market kicks off May 4; table donations sought      4/15/2021

FOREMAN – Foreman will be launching an additional farmers market in Little River County starting next month. The market will be open Tuesday and Thursday from 4-7 p.m. each day at on Schuman Street at the old pharmacy location downtown beginning in May. Tables are being built at a cost of $200 each. Donations are needed to help cover the cost of the tables to host vendors. Anyone who donates the full amount of a table can have that table dedicated in someone’s honor. In addition, a special table plate will be added to that table. Donations can be made in any amount, however, and all are greatly appreciated. All donations must be made to the Little River County Chamber of Commerce with a special memo noting Foreman’s Farmers Market. Vendor charge is $3 per event or $50 annually. The Foreman Farmers Market will begin May 4. For questions or more information, contact Mike McKee at (903) 824-0818.

De Queen School Board approves $880k for astroturf field at Leopard Stadium; $535,000 raised through private donations from local businesses      4/14/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Officials with the De Queen School District and De Queen School Board pose with representatives of Diamond Bank after the bank donated $150,000 Tuesday night for the planned astroturf field at Leopard Stadium.
The district has raised $535,000 in private donations from the community towards the new field. Last night, the school board voted to construct the astroturf field for a total of $880,000 including those community donations.

Tuesday night athletic officials with the De Queen School District saw a long-time dream become reality after the school board voted to construct an astroturf field at Leopard Stadium.

The De Queen School Board voted unanimously to incorporate an astroturf field at Leopard Stadium, which hosts the district’s football and soccer games as well as other sports and community-wide events. De Queen is one of only a handful of high schools in the state without an astroturf field.

The total cost of the field is estimated at $880,000. Administration and athletic officials spent the last five months building partnerships with the community to help raise donations for the new field. Thanks to that push, the district was able to collect $535,000 in private donations from businesses in De Queen. Tuesday night, the school board voted to put up the additional $345,000 needed to build the field.

Sanders said private donations amount to around 60 percent of the total project cost.

The biggest sponsor for the new field is Diamond Bank with a $150,000 donation. Other sponsors include KDQN, Pilgrim’s, Gentry Chevrolet, Peak Therapy, Shelter Insurance, De Queen Auto Group, Dr. Randy Walker, De Queen Church of Christ, Horatio State Bank and Tri-State Asphalt. The field will be financed through a three-percent, 10-year loan from Diamond Bank. Sanders said the 10-year note will allow some sponsors to provide their donations over the next decade as opposed to all at once.

During the meeting, Sanders and Leopards Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir highlighted the multiple benefits of astroturf. Those include the well-documented safety aspects of astroturf, the lower maintenance requirements and the visual improvement it will bring to Leopard Stadium.

Chesshir said the astroturf field, coupled with other recent and ongoing improvements at Leopard Stadium, will provide benefits to the whole community.

The astroturf would have been a much greater challenge for the district without the tremendous community support, said De Queen Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton.

Sanders said some other individuals and businesses may be interested in supporting the new field – and they are greatly welcomed.

The astroturf field will include a field stabilizer as well as an additional concrete foundation that includes a 24-year warranty. Sanders added that the field is expected to be in use by the district beginning Aug. 1 of this year.

DQ/SC Chamber of Commerce to host 31st Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival May 29      4/14/2021

DE QUEEN – Area anglers, get ready: the 31st Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival is on for next month.

The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce announced it will present the always-popular fishing tournament on Saturday, May 29. Typically held each year, the event was postponed and then cancelled last year due to COVID-19. However, the Big Bass Festival is a go for 2021 at De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes.. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. on May 29. Early registration is $45 per person. Late registration is $50 per person after 4 p.m. on May 28. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes. Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes. Prizes include $1,500 for catching the biggest bass, $1,000 for second place and so on through fifth place. Prizes are awarded hourly as well for a total of around $10,000 in prize money at this year’s tournament. This year the chamber is offering a registration bundle to participants. For $65, anglers can cover their registration fee and receive a tournament cap. Wear your hat at hourly weigh-ins and, if your catch takes first place that hour, you’ll receive an extra $50. COVID-19 will still have some impact on this year’s tournament. Chamber officials said no award ceremony will be held due to the pandemic. All winners will receive prize money through the mail. For more information, contact Greg Ray at 642-2445 or the Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3225. The Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been held annually with only two interruptions for the past 33 years. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

Arkansas joins nationwide recommendation on pausing J&J vaccines      4/14/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Arkansas public health officials said the state is joining the nationwide pause on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine following complications related to that vaccine in recent days. In national reporting on Tuesday, the FDA and CDC were both calling for a pause on distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six people developed blood clots, with one death, after receiving the vaccine. All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48. None were Arkansans. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Arkansas would join the pause until additional information is available. Clinics and providers in Arkansas are asked not to distribute Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine at this time. During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday afternoon, Hutchinson agreed with the FDA’s recommendation but urged people not to delay on receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Upcoming vaccine clinics with plans to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be provided Pfizer or Moderna varieties instead, said state officials. Hutchinson said six complications out of 6.8 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines distributed so far is an incredibly low ratio and shouldn’t erode confidence in the two other vaccines.

Hutchinson then announced that, beginning this weekend, the Arkansas Department of Health will partner with pharmacies across the state to bring vaccines to homebound Arkansans. Anyone in Arkansas unable to leave their homes can call the Arkansas COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-800-985-6030 to schedule a home vaccination. Regarding the state’s COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 224 new cases of the virus on Tuesday for a cumulative total of more than 332,000 since the pandemic began. A net increase of 23 active cases raises the current total to 1,663 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. An additional eight deaths were reported Tuesday for a statewide total of 5,673 since last May. Hospitalizations fell by eight to leave 148 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Congressman Westerman recognizes Dierks educators during Hometown Heroes Tour      4/14/2021

Congressman Bruce Westerman, of Arkansas’ 4th District, brought his Hometown Heroes tour to Dierks last week. Westerman honored Dierks School District employees Lori Finley and Todd Finley.

DIERKS – Congressman Bruce Westerman, of Arkansas’ 4th District, brought his Hometown Heroes tour to Dierks last week. Westerman honored Dierks School District employees Lori Finley and Todd Finley. The Congressman says a reoccurring theme to those honored, is that they credit others around them:

Lori Finley is the Principal at JoAnn Walters Elementary School, while Todd Finley serves as the district’s softball and girls basketball coach. The Hometown Heroes program honors individuals who have gone above the call of duty to serve their community during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Nominations for the Hometown Heroes were submitted online.

Annual Overturf Pie Supper this Saturday      4/14/2021

GILLHAM – The annual Overturf Pie Supper is scheduled for this Saturday, April 17. Festivities will begin at 7 p.m. that evening at the Overturf Cemetery, located three and a half miles northeast of Gillham. Turn off of Gillham Lake Road and watch for signs to the cemetery. The annual fundraising event will include a prettiest girl contest as well as ugliest man. Donations are greatly welcomed and can be made by sending a check to Lester Overturf at 108 Sixth Street, Gillham, AR 71841. Please make checks payable to the Overturf Cemetery Fund. All proceeds raised are for the upkeep of the Church and cemetery. For more information, contact Lester Overturf at 784-2085, Judy Smith at 582-2284 or Floyd Morris, Sr. at 784-3629.

De Queen FFA youth place at District Livestock Show      4/14/2021

This past Saturday, three members of the De Queen FFA show team exhibited their livestock projects at the Southwest District Spring Livestock Show held at Hope.
Members in attendance were Tristan Whisenhunt, Olivia Cooley, and Katie Cooley.

HOPE – This past Saturday, three members of the De Queen FFA show team exhibited their livestock projects at the Southwest District Spring Livestock Show held at Hope. Members in attendance were Tristan Whisenhunt, Olivia Cooley, and Katie Cooley. Whisenhunt exhibited a Chianina bull and won Grand Champion honors. Whisenhunt also showed a steer that placed second in his class. Katie Cooley presented her Hereford heifer and brought home a Reserve Grand Champion placing for the team. Olivia Cooley showed a Simmental heifer and placed first in her class. Officials with the De Queen School District gave a big congratulations to these FFA students for their award-wining cattle exhibits. The De Queen FFA team has plans to exhibit at more shows later this spring.

Fort Towson Cemetery to host storytelling tours in May      4/14/2021

FORT TOWSON, Okla. – The Friends of Fort Towson and the Fort Towson Cemetery Association will host a cemetery tour next month designed to be both educational and entertaining. The tour will be held May 14 and 15. It will touch upon various individuals that contributed to the early life of Doaksville and later Fort Towson in Oklahoma. The tour will have guided groups that walk along the cemetery road visiting each storyteller to hear a story. Storytellers will share the life of individuals from the 1840s to the 1970s. Each person contributed to the area during their life. Refreshments will be available on site. Cost is $8 for adults and children 13 and up; $5 for seniors and students aged six to 12; and free for kids five and under. For more info, call 580-873-2634. Fort Towson is located about an hour west of De Queen on Highway 70.

De Queen Rotary Club hosts 2021 Community Service Awards      4/13/2021

Chris Turner, left, is awarded the De Queen Rotary Club’s Community Service Award from DQPD Captain Sonny Kimmel. Each year the De Queen Rotary Club honors a DQPD officer, a deputy from the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, a DQFD firefighter, a volunteer firefighter in Sevier County, and an individual involved in local community service.

DE QUEEN – Each year Rotarians in De Queen come together to recognize those in the community who work to keep Sevier County safe and going strong into the future.

Four first responders and a local community organizer were honored during the Rotary Club’s annual Community Awards ceremony on Monday.
Recipients this year included Chris Turner of the De Queen Police Department. Although serving on the De Queen Police Department for just seven months, Captain Sonny Kimmel said Turner has already made a significant contribution to the department. Kimmel said Turner has taken a leadership role within the department and serves as a role model for the department’s younger officers. Turner is a 16-year veteran of law enforcement and previously serviced for the campus police department at the University of Central Arkansas.
Kimmel related one story involving Turner early in his time with the DQPD, when Turner

Sevier County Deputy Chet Stubbs, left, receives a Community Service Award from Sheriff Robert Gentry.

performed life-saving CPR on a baby despite everyone in the baby’s family testing positive for COVID-19. Kimmel said Turner risked hisself to save the child despite the threat posed by the virus.

The next award was given to the entire De Queen Fire Department. Mayor Jeff Brown presented the award and said the entire department deserved recognition for its actions and commitment over the past year.
Greg Ray then presented a Community Service award to Ronald Smith, chief of the Ben Lomond Fire Department. Ray in particular emphasized Smith’s contribution as a community leader, who goes above and beyond both as a firefighter and a member of his community. Ray cited Smith’s efforts in taking local youth hunting and fishing – youth, Ray said, who might otherwise not have the chance to do so.
The entire De Queen Fire Department was recognized with a Community Service Award this year. Pictured are De Queen Fire Chief Dennis Pruitt, left, and Mayor Jeff Brown.

Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry then presented the next Community Service Award to Deputy Chet Stubbs. Gentry recognized Stubbs’ dedication to local law enforcement and said the deputy had performed life-saving actions on multiple occasions during motor vehicle accidents and through his CPR skills.

The final recognition, the Rotary Community Service Award, went to a Rotarian himself, Greg Revels of De Queen. The club recognized Revel’s contributions to not just the club itself, but also to his dedication to numerous other community service projects. Those include serving as a member of the Arkansas Higher Board of Education and, most critically over the past couple of years, as treasurer of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.
Revels said he was honored to receive the award but the

Ronald Smith, fire chief of Ben Lomond and pictured at left, received the 2021 Sevier County Firefighter Community Service Award. He is presented the award by County Judge Greg Ray.

greatest honor is living in a community as diverse, strong and united as Sevier County.

New feral hog survey targeting landowners in Sevier, Howard Counties      4/13/2021

DE QUEEN – The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, in partnership with the state’s Feral Hog Task Force, is seeking input from Arkansans regarding their experiences with feral hogs. The task force incorporates participation and support from several several other state and federal partner organizations. Its goal is the eradication of feral hogs, an invasive pest that wreaks havoc on crops, property and natural resources. Agents and associates with the Cooperative Extension Service, which is leading many of the task force’s public survey efforts, will be contacting landowners in areas where feral swine pilot projects are being conducted in the state. These include Sevier and Howard Counties as well as several others in South and Southeast Arkansas. Extension agents are encouraging participation in the survey, even among landowners who have had no direct contact with feral hogs. The survey is being sent in the mail and everyone who receives one is asked to take a few minutes to answer the questions. Extension agents will also be calling some landowners who are receiving trapping services from their Conservation District trappers. The survey will be conducted several times over the next few years to track changes in reported damages. Additionally, landowners anywhere in the state can report the number of feral hogs removed from their property simply using the Feral Hog Survey 1-2-3 app. To download, visit the feral hog page on the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s website, located at www.agriculture.arkansas.gov. Arkansans who can’t access the app for any reason can contact their local county extension office for assistance, and a cooperative extension agent will report the information. In Sevier County, that number is 584-3013. Ryan Farney, feral hog coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, is asking that all hunters and feral hog trappers in the state report their sightings and removals of feral hogs at the Feral Hog Survey 1-2-3 app.

Landowners who have feral hogs on their property can contact USDA APHIS Wildlife Services at 501-835-2318. They are leading a statewide effort at feral hog removal, one pig at a time. Residents interested in learning how to use a cellular trapping system should contact their local Cooperative Extension Service office. A team of extension agents located throughout the state coordinates feral hog trapping, and can help residents learn best practices. Call the Sevier County Extension Office for more information about feral hogs, or to volunteer your property as a demonstration site.

Ashdown teachers to see $3,250 pay raise starting this fall      4/13/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown teachers will be seeing a significant raise next school year following a decision made by the district’s school board earlier this month. During the April board meeting, the Ashdown Public School Board of Education approved substantial pay increases for every teacher on the certified pay scale in the district for the the 2021-2022 school year. Ashdown Superintendent Casey Nichols said raises for the teaching staff amount to an additional $3,250 per year starting this fall. Nichols said he and the board had been working for several months on the best way to compensate and show the district’s appreciation to its certified teachers for all of their hard and diligent work. This raise he added will put the Ashdown School District at a competitive salary schedule for schools in the region and sought after among other schools of comparable size. Nichols thanked the board for making this large raise a priority for district teachers and putting the salary schedule well above the state base salary schedule. He said the district has a continued commitment to its students during the pandemic and an intent to ensure that the district continues to find ways to raise the bar for its students and staff.

Chamber hosting meeting tonight in De Queen for local businesses seeking answers on alcohol sales in Sevier County      4/13/2021

DE QUEEN- The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will host a question-and-answer style meeting tomorrow to provide information to local businesses seeking to sell, serve or manufacture alcohol. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday night in the Herman Dierks Park Community Building. The chamber is hosting the meeting alongside Doralee Chandler of the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control board. Officials with the Chamber of Commerce say the meeting is a great opportunity for  LOCAL businesses to get their questions answered about the ins and outs of applying for a license to sell alcohol and what steps to take to go through the process smoothly.

Many in Little River still without power after weekend storms      4/12/2021

LITTLE RIVER COUNTY – Foreman Public Schools will not hold in-person classes today due to ongoing power issues following severe weather Friday night and early Saturday morning.

District officials stated students will transition to remote, online learning today due to the lack of power at school facilities. At this time in-class instruction is expected to resume on Tuesday.

evere thunderstorms Friday night and early Saturday morning hit Little River County with straight line winds. The storm caused hundreds of trees in the county, and particularly around Ashdown, Winthrop and Foreman, to fall – taking with them power lines and resulting in widespread loss of power.

As of Sunday night more than 1,200 people in Little River County were without power. Power outages remain for some residents of Hempstead and Miller County, as well, but not to the extent as seen in Little River.

SWEPCO’s power outage map shows around 610 customers impacted in the Winthrop area alone as of 10 p.m. Sunday night.

SWEPCO crews as well as tree-removal service companies could be seen working throughout Little River County on Saturday and Sunday to clear damage from the storm and return power.

Fortunately at this time no deaths have been attributed to this weekend’s storms.

De Queen Chamber hosting Q&A Tuesday night with state alcohol rep      4/12/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will host a question-and-answer style meeting tomorrow to provide information to local businesses seeking to sell, serve or manufacture alcohol.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday night in the Herman Dierks Park Community Building. The chamber has is hosting the meeting alongside Doralee Chandler of the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control board.

Officials with the Chamber of Commerce say the meeting is a great opportunity for local businesses to get their questions answered about the ins and outs of applying for a license to sell alcohol and what steps to take to go through the process smoothly.

Perla Zapata accepted into UCA Scholar’s Program      4/12/2021
Perla Zapata

DE QUEEN – Perla Zapata, daughter of Patricia Perez and Carlos Zapata of De Queen, received word last week that she had been accepted into the UCA Scholar’s program.  Only 30 people are accepted each year based on their application essay, recommendation, and transcript.

Perla will receive a stipend and private room upgrade valued at more than $13,000.  Perla has also received a Distinguished Scholarship worth $34,000 and the UCA Foundational Carolyn Man Memorial Scholarship valued at an additional $2,500.  In addition, she qualifies for the $14,000 Arkansas Challenge Scholarship.

Perla is president of the De Queen High School Student Council, a member of gifted and talented, basketball, tennis, soccer, FCCLA, National Honor Society, Spanish Club and Young Voters.

She has received a gold medal at the FCCLA National Leadership Conference for the entrepreneurship star project and Rotary Award for Spanish I. She’s also been named a Student of the Month, homecoming maid, second runner-up Miss DHS, Miss Congeniality, and Miss DHS Peoples Choice.

Perla will major in Biology and plans on completing the UCA pre-optometry program.  Future plans are to attend the Southern College of Optometry to become a pediatric optometrist.

DHS Senior Kynnedi France awarded $44,000 Presidential Distinguished Scholarship from SAU      4/12/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Honor Graduate Kynnedi France has been awarded the Presidential Distinguished Scholarship from Southern Arkansas University valued at $44,000.  She also qualifies for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship worth $14,000.

Kynnedi is the daughter of Crystal and Mike Willey.  She is a member of the National Honor Society, Gifted and Talented, Lady Leopard Softball, and the cheer squad.

Kynnedi plans to major in Exercise Science at Southern Arkansas University and become an Athletic Trainer.

Bridge, road closure begins today in De Queen    4/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Officials with the City of De Queen are announcing a bridge and road closure beginning today. West Robinson Road will be closed to thru traffic by the KCS railroad tracks west of the Sevier County Jail. Work will begin Monday, April 12. The bridge is being replaced by the city after state inspectors said last year the bridge was unable to pass inspections. Traffic can still reach the Sevier County Jail by entering Robinson Road from Highway 71.

State Rep. Vaught provides update on House bills focusing on law enforcement, education     4/12/2021

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught has provided us with an additional update detailing legislative activities in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

Last week, the House voted in favor of a bill temporarily changing the deadline for filing and paying state income tax. SB593 extends the deadline this year to May 17, aligning the date with the recent extension issued for filing federal income tax. The also House voted in favor of a number of bills addressing law enforcement, mental health, alcohol sales and education. HB1865, if passed, would require all law enforcement officers in the state to complete annual training related to a law enforcement officer’s duty to intervene if the law enforcement officer observes the use of excessive force by another law enforcement officer. HB1680 states law enforcement agencies must assist a law enforcement officer involved in a critical incident in obtaining services that may help the officer recover from psychological effects. SB27 requires the Arkansas Department of Health to ensure that the Suicide Prevention Hotline employs individuals who have experience working with veterans or are veterans. A couple of alcohol-related bills also passed the House. HB1748 states that a referendum election to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday may be called by a city or county if the governing body adopts a resolution by a two-thirds majority vote. SB479 states that a restaurant with a valid alcoholic beverage permit from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division (ABC) may expand its outdoor dining availability with approval from the municipality or county’s local government zoning authority. This bill also allows restaurants to remit sales taxes in quarterly payments rather than monthly for the next year. Finally, several educational bills were also passed. SB524 states that by August 1 of 2022 each public school district and open-enrollment public charter school in the state shall prepare a three-year teacher and administrator recruitment and retention plan. The plan should include goals for recruitment and retention of teachers and administrators of minority races and ethnicities who increase diversity among the district staff and, at a minimum, reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the district’s students. HB1794 creates the Licensed Practical Nurse Pathway Pilot Program. It states that the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, in consultation with the Division of Higher Education, shall establish and implement a program in which high school students may enroll in undergraduate courses required to obtain a diploma or certificate of completion as a licensed practical nurse. HB1701 states that a teacher of a K-12 science class at a public school or open-enrollment public charter school may teach creationism as a theory.

Tickets go on sale next week for AHS production of Frozen, Jr.    4/12/2021

ASHDOWN – Tickets will go on sale next Monday, April 19 for the AHS Panther Theatre production of Frozen, Jr. Tickets will be on sale at the Ashdown Administration Building from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week. Tickets are $5 each.  Performances for the community will be hosted Saturday, April 24 with performances at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. A final showing for the community will be held on Sunday, April 25 in the Ashdown High School Auditorium. District officials advise that masks are required to attend the performances.

De Queen, Horatio kindergarten registration underway     4/12/2021

SEVIER COUNTY – Horatio Public Schools will host kindergarten pre-registration on April 20 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again on April 21 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. To register for the 2021-2022 kindergarten class at Horatio Public Schools, your child must be five on or before Aug. 1. Parents must bring proof of residency, birth certificate, social security card and immunization record.

If you live outside the Horatio School District and would like to send your child to Horatio Schools next year, please fill out a school choice form at the administration office by April 30. De Queen Public Schools is currently hosting registration for local children entering kindergarten for the upcoming school year. To register for the 2021-2022 kindergarten class at De Queen Public Schools, children must be five on or before Aug. 1. Parents wanting to enroll their child for Kindergarten this fall can now come to the Primary office and pick up a registration packet. All registration packets will need to be turned back into the Primary office by Friday, April 30. The same packets have already been sent to the local pre-schools if your child attends any De Queen pre-school. If you live outside the De Queen School District and would like to send your child to De Queen Schools next year, you’re asked to fill out a school choice form at the administration office by April 30.

Sevier County, surrounding counties reporting single-digit active COVID-19 caseloads     4/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continue to remain at near zero levels, with just four active cases currently reported. Total cases now number 2,783 with the vast majority of those having recovered. Deaths from the virus since last spring total 24. In neighboring counties, Little River County is reporting just two active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Total cases number 1,224 with a total of 41 deaths since May of 2020. Active cases in Howard County are also near zero levels, with just three currently confirmed cases in the county. Total cases number 1,644 with 24 total deaths. Polk County is reporting six active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Cumulative cases number 1,966 since the pandemic began. Deaths total 71. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 100 cases of COVID-19 statewide for a cumulative total of more than 332,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 28 to 1,733 currently. No deaths were reported yesterday and total 5,661 since last spring. Currently 163 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Boil Order Alert remains in effect for customers of Horatio water system      4/08/2021

HORATIO – The City of Horatio’s Boil Order Alert remains in effect for customers of the city’s water system.
The order was issued this week as a precautionary measure because of the possibility that contaminated water may have entered the distribution system as a result of a loss in normal system pressure.
Under the boil order, all affected customers are advised that the water may be unsafe for human consumption and all water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled for at least one minute before use.

The notice will be lifted by the Department of Health when the submitted bacteriological sample indicates that the water is free of contamination and an adequate disinfectant level is established throughout the distribution system.

COVID-19 vaccine clinic today at Sevier County Health Unit      4/08/2021

DE QUEEN – A number of COVID-19 vaccination clinics are scheduled in the listening area today and into the weekend. In Sevier County, a vaccination clinic is being held in De Queen today This event will be hosted by the Sevier County Health Unit and the Arkansas Department of Health. The clinic is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available for no out-of-pocket expense to eligible Arkansans. Those with insurance are asked to bring their insurance card. Insurance companies will pay the administrative costs of distributing the vaccine but will not pass on those costs in any way to the insurance holder. Everyone in Arkansas aged 18 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at this clinic. The vaccine will be distributed on a first-come, first serve basis. Everyone is asked to come inside the health unit to receive the shot. The vaccine distributed at this event will be the Johnson & Johnson shot, which requires only one dose so no second, follow-up shot will be needed. For more information, call the Sevier County Health Unit at 642-2535. Another clinic will be held today in Ashdown as well. Vaccines will be distributed on a first-come, first-service basis in a drive-thru fashion at Brookshire’s Pharmacy at 1310 S. Constitution Avenue in Ashdown. Finally, De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy will host an additional vaccination clinic this Saturday, April 10. The shot given at this event will be the Pfizer. This is also open to those who attended the pharmacy’s mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic last month and are now due for the second dose. The Pfizer vaccine is a two-dose vaccine that requires a waiting period of 21 days between doses. Following last week’s announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, everyone in Arkansas aged 16 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, is currently only open to those 18 and older. For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccines available to the public, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov

DHS student named Arkansas Champion in Microsoft Word      4/08/2021

De Queen high School is recognizing student Ben Moniewski after he was named the Arkansas State Champion in the Microsoft Office Specialist Fall Qualifier.

DE QUEEN – De Queen high School is recognizing student Ben Moniewski after he was named the Arkansas State Champion in the Microsoft Office Specialist Fall Qualifier. As Arkansas’ Champion in Microsoft Word, Ben was invited to compete in Certiport’s 2021 Microsoft Office Specialist U.S. National Championship at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Hotel in Orlando, Florida, June 21-23. Ben accepted the invitation to compete in Florida, but the in-person competition was canceled and changed to an online competition due to ongoing pandemic concerns. The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Program provides industry-leading assessments of skills and knowledge through project-based testing. These exams include multiple, small projects within Microsoft Office software. Students and professionals are tested on one project at a time. These small projects test their skills as they would in the real world and validate their understanding of the Microsoft Office program functionality. Educators say Microsoft Office Specialist certifications boost academic performance, prepare students for the demands of college, and open doors to career opportunities. Jill Brinkley, a teacher at De Queen High School and Ben’s sponsor in the competition, said the entire district is proud of his accomplishment. Ranking first in the State of Arkansas in the Word Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam is an impressive win and demonstrates De Queen’s focus on getting its students workforce ready.

Spring Cleanup Week in De Queen ends tomorrow      4/08/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s spring clean up week in De Queen and city officials are asking everyone to do their part in making sure the city’s looking good and as free of trash and debris as possible. Spring clean up week begins today and continues through April 9. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles. The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. between today and April 9. New this year, the city is also launching an Adopt-a-Block program. Mayor Jeff Brown said this is a way for city residents to give back by ensuring the areas around their homes, neighborhoods and nearby streets are cleaned up and free of trash.

DHS 2021 seniors receive scholarships      4/08/2021

Gunner Bradshaw

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School is recognizing 2021 seniors who are receiving scholarships to assist in their post-secondary educational endeavors. Recent scholarship recipients include De Queen Co-Valedictorian Gunner Bradshaw, who has been awarded a University of Arkansas Honors College Fellowship valued at a whooping $72,000. Gunner was recently named a Governor’s Distinguished Scholar which will add another $40,000 to his scholarship package. That means Gunner will graduate with over $110,000 in scholarship monies. Gunner is a member of the National Honor Society and Quiz Bowl.  He was chosen as DQHS Art Student of the Month as well as Rotary Student of the Month.

Carlee Helms

He plans on majoring in Computer Science as a part of the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville. Gunner is the son of Lance and Vivi Bradshaw. De Queen Honor Graduate Carlee Helms has been awarded a Chancellor’s Academic Distinction Scholarship valued at $40,000 and a STEM Academic Scholarship valued at $24,000. Carlee is the daughter of Jonathan and Callie Helms.  She is a member of Gifted and Talented, National Honor Society, cheer squad and Lady Leopard softball. Carlee will major in Biology at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. Her plans are to attend medical school and become a pediatrician.

Dierks students, staff no longer required to wear face masks at school      4/08/2021

DIERKS – Students and staff attending the Dierks School District will no longer be required to wear face masks. The Dierks Board of Education made the decision during a specially-called board meeting Tuesday night. The district’s Ready to Learn plan was amended to lift the mandate requiring students and staff to wear a mask. Although masks will no longer be required, students and staff may opt to continue wearing them for their own personal safety. School officials said the district will continue following existing safety and sanitation practices already in place, such as encouraging hand washing, providing hand sanitizer in our buildings, emphasizing social distancing, and all other Arkansas Health Department guidelines. The decision follows Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s announcement last week to lift Arkansas’ face mask mandate. Although face masks are no longer required in public settings, state officials say schools, restaurants, businesses and government buildings have the option to require mask usage within their facilities.

Horatio Schools out again today due to ongoing water issue; Boil Order issued for customers of Horatio Water System      4/07/2021

HORATIO – The Horatio School District has closed its campuses again today due to ongoing issues with the city’s water service. Horatio students are advised they will work remotely from home on Wednesday.
Crews with the City of Horatio worked Monday night and Tuesday morning after a utility company accidentally damaged a city water main Monday morning. The company reportedly cut the water main again Tuesday afternoon, causing water pressure to drop and a loss of service in the system. The drop in service forced the school district to close its campuses at noon on Monday and then again on Tuesday. Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool praised city crews for working “diligently to make temporary repairs” but added they will need additional time to finish the repairs and restore water pressure on Wednesday.

Again, today will be a digital day for students of the Horatio School District. A Boil Order Alert is also in effect for customers of the Horatio Water System. Customers are advised to boil water used for consumption for at least one minute before use. This includes drinking water and water used for cooking. The Boil Order will remain in effect until the Arkansas Department of Health checks and clears submitted samples.

COVID-19 vaccination clinic today at Memorial Baptist Church in De Queen      4/07/2021

DE QUEEN – The Walker Family Practice and Allergy Center, along with Memorial Baptist Church in De Queen, will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic today.

The clinic is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at Memorial Baptist Church, located at 802 East Vandervoort Avenue in De Queen. The clinic will be providing the Moderna vaccine at no cost and all Arkansans 16 and older are eligible for the vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also be available at this clinic. While the vaccine will be provided for free, attendees with insurance are asked to bring their card and photo ID as insurance companies will reimburse providers the administrative costs of administering the vaccine. Vaccines will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The vaccine will be administered by healthcare professionals from Dr. Randy Walker’s office. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to the vaccine appointment. Organizers ask that face masks be worn at the vaccine clinic at all times.

DHS 2021 seniors receive scholarships      4/07/2021
Deciredh Alvarez

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School is recognizing several 2021 seniors who’ve earned scholarships this year for their post-secondary endeavors. De Queen Co-Valedictorian Alexander Tavarez has been named an AR Governor’s Distinguished Scholar.  He has been awarded a $40,000 scholarship.  Alexander is the son of Diana Lerma.  He is a member of the National Honor Society and Quizbowl.

Alexander Tavarez

Alexander plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science at Arkansas Tech University.

Congrats to De Queen senior Deciredh Alvarez, daughter of Leticia Alvarez, who’s been awarded the U of A Fort Smith Academic Excellence and Housing stipend Scholarship valued at $12,000! Deciredh is a member of the National Honor Society. She plans on earning a degree in dental hygiene and continuing to pursue a Doctorate in General Dentistry.

Madison Runnels

And De Queen Honor Graduate Madison Runnels has been awarded the UALR Provost’s Academic Scholarship valued at $32,000 and a STEM Scholarship valued at $14,000. She also qualifies for the $14,000 Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship for a total of $60,000 in scholarship monies.  Madison plans to major in biology and continue her education in the medical field. Her future plans are to become an Emergency Room Physician. Madison is the daughter of Tracy and Rachel Runnels. She  is a member of the National Honor Society, the De Queen Church of Christ youth group, and the softball team. Madison is a part-time employee of WalMart.

Little over a week left in Millwood Fishing Challenge      4/07/2021

MILLWOOD LAKE – Area residents a little over a week left to participate in the first ever Millwood Fishing Challenge, which provides local anglers with a chance to win some serious cash prizes. In February the Little River County Chamber of Commerce kicked off the first ever Millwood Fishing Challenge. Through this new event local anglers have had the chance to win thousands of dollars in cash prizes. The challenge takes place entirely on Millwood Lake. If you haven’t had a chance to make it to Millwood Lake yet, don’t worry – the challenge won’t end until April 15 at 5 p.m. that day. There are over 100 prize fish, valued at $137,500 in cash—including the $10,000 “BIG MILLIE” grand prize. The prize fish are all wearing 2021 yellow tags and were released into Millwood Lake just prior to the challenge start date. ​​The yellow tags all have a phone number and a prize number on them. If a fish is caught the angler must call the number and present the fish with the yellow tag attached, along with the badge number. All official rules must be complied with. The prize fish include bass, catfish (of any kind) and crappie. ONLY bream have been tagged for the youth angler challenge. All tagged fish will be have to be checked-in alive and with their yellow tag in place. The contest is open to anyone with a valid Arkansas fishing license and a valid badge that can be purchased for $15. Badges can be purchased at a number of locations, including Bogey’s and Milway Federal Credit Union. A full list of participating locations is available at ashdownarkansas.org/millwoodfishingchallenge A special youth anglers weekend will be held Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18. Visit the Little River County Chamber of Commerce online at www.ashdownarkansas.org/millwoodfishingchallenge for more details.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson expresses concern COVID-19 vaccine not reaching Arkansas’ minority populations      4/07/2021

An increasing number of Arkansans are getting vaccinated for COVID-19, but minority communities are apparently falling behind when it comes to the state’s vaccine rollout effort. During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Arkansas’ minority groups are not receiving COVID-19 vaccines at the same rate as the state’s white population. He said the state has partnered with the Arkansas Minority Health Commission and other minority advocacy groups to ensure the vaccine is reaching all communities in Arkansas.

Hutchinson added that more and more messaging on the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available is being focused on communities of color in Arkansas. Hutchinson then explained that, despite the increasing number of vaccines available to the public, community spread of COVID-19 remains a concern. He encouraged Arkansans to remain vigilant against COVID-19 and get their vaccine as soon as possible to help bring the current pandemic to an end.

Finally, the Arkansas Department of Health updated the state’s COVID-19 figures as of Tuesday. New cases increased by 163 over the past 24-hour period for a total of more than 331,000 COVID-19 transmissions in Arkansas since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by five over the same period to 5,653. Active cases fell by five to leave 1,602 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Hospitalizations saw a slight increase, raising by seven for a total of 152 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Foreman FFA Rodeo set for May 7-8      4/07/2021

FOREMAN – The Southeastern Oklahoma Junior Rodeo Association is announcing it will present the Foreman FFA Rodeo next month. The rodeo has been scheduled for Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8 starting at 8 p.m. both evenings at the Foreman Fairgrounds. Age groups range from seven and under to 15 to 19-years-old. Events include sheep riding, mini bareback, saddle bronc, ranch bronc, goat tying, calf roping and breakaway. Everyone is welcome and there is no non-member fee. Entry fees are $40 for the main events and $25 for sheep riding. Gate fee is $7 and contestants get in for free. Entry deadline is May 3. Text (580) 286-1635.

Sevier County currently reporting just on active COVID-19 case      4/07/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continue to remain at near zero levels, with just one active case currently reported. Sevier County’s active caseload has not been this low since the pandemic first arrived in Arkansas. Total cases now number 2,780 with the vast majority of those having recovered. Deaths from the virus since last spring total 24. In neighboring counties, Little River County is reporting just four active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Total cases number 1,224 with a total of 41 deaths since May of 2020. Active cases in Howard County are also near zero levels, with just one currently confirmed case in the county. Total cases number 1,616 with 24 total deaths. Polk County is reporting four active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Cumulative cases number 1,964 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased to 71 this week – the highest in the region.

Keep Arkansas Beautiful campaign continues through May 31      4/07/2021

Registration remains open for this spring’s Keep Arkansas Beautiful campaign. The annual spring cleanup event is part of the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup in Arkansas. Arkansans across the state are encouraged to get outside and participate in local cleanup efforts throughout the spring season. The Great American Cleanup in Arkansas began last month and various cleanup, beautification and recycling efforts will be held across the state until May 31. During the nation’s largest community improvement effort, Arkansans volunteer annually to clean up and beautify their communities throughout a multitude of cleanup events. Communities and groups are invited to sign up to organize a local cleanup this year at www.keeparkansasbeautiful.com Cleanup organizers can use KAB’s free, print-ready promotional items to help recruit volunteers and learn how to organize a cleanup. Volunteers can find local cleanups on the calendar of events at on the website, as well as additional resources. As warmer weather approaches and Arkansans look forward to heading outside to enjoy what the Natural State has to offer, the Keep Arkansas Beautiful campaign encourages all Arkansans to take pride in their state by removing litter, recycling and getting involved in a local event near them. During KAB’s two annual cleanup events last year, volunteers removed over 410,000 pounds of bulky waste across more than a thousand miles of roadside, 116 miles of waterway and shorelines, and 671 acres of parks and public areas. Arkansans also collected nearly 3,500 tires, recycled almost 20,000 pounds of electronics and planted 384 trees, shrubs and flowers. For more information, visit www.keeparkansasbeautiful.com

Horatio Schools out today due to ongoing water issue      4/06/2021
HORATIO – Horatio Public Schools campuses are closed again due to ongoing issues within the City of Horatio’s water system.
The school district dismissed students on both of its campuses at noon yesterday after water service was disconnected. Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said a cut to the city’s water main was behind the interruption in service.
The campus closures will remain in effect today despite city crews in Horatio working overnight to remedy the cut in service. Vanderpool said this morning that service had not returned to a level allowing the district to reopen its campuses. Students are instructed today will be a virtual learning day. All students are advised they will work remotely from home.
DQSC Chamber welcomes Sevier County Community Outreach Center      4/06/2021
Hattie Vance of the Sevier County Community Outreach Center cuts the ceremonial ribbon during an open house held on Friday with the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.
DE QUEEN – On Friday members of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce and others in the community met up to welcome the newest member of the chamber – the new Sevier County Community Outreach Center. The new Sevier County Community Outreach Center is based largely on the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program, also known as RSAT, pioneered by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office – but with at least one major difference: RSAT is only available to those serving a sentence in the Sevier County Jail for a non-violent offense; the Community Outreach Center, however, will be offered to anyone in the community facing substance abuse problems. The Outreach Center, like the RSAT program, is funded through a federal grant – no local tax dollars are funding the program. The $50,000 grant will pay for a year of the program with the option to renew this fall. The grant is paying for a part-time case manager/counselor to help volunteers navigate through the program, which will be offered at no cost. Programs offered through the center range from AA/NA classes and mental health counseling to substance abuse treatment, religious services and parental classes. Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry and Jail Administrator Chris Wolcott – both of whom worked to create RSAT and the Community Outreach Center – hope to add career development classes, GED courses and other programs designed to help those fighting addiction break that cycle and become productive members of the community. Wolcott said he has a lot of faith the Outreach Center will see a similar level of success – if not more – than the jail’s RSAT program. In fact, that program has seen such success, and received so much publicity, law enforcement agencies across the country have reached out to Sevier County for advice on modeling their own programs. Both Gentry and Wolcott praised the organizations who have partnered to help create the Outreach Center, particularly area churches. Gentry said the sheriff’s office is extremely grateful to First Baptist Church of De Queen, which donated an office in its east wing for the program’s coordinator. The program already has a full list of meetings and recovery services scheduled this week and into the future. For Wolcott, the Outreach Center will be a success if it even helps one person fight their addiction and stay out of jail. For more information on the program, call 870-784-7969. The center’s office, located at First Baptist Church of De Queen, is also open 8 a.m. to 12 noon Monday through Friday as well as additional hours in the evening.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month      4/06/2021
DE QUEEN – Approximately 25 percent of children in Arkansas suffer from abuse, yet many of them are suffering in silence. April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, held to shine a spotlight on abuses that often go unseen or without intervention.

“It’s sad to know that one in every four children you see is likely to be experiencing abuse in some fashion,” said Elizabeth Pulley, executive director of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas. “Unfortunately, those cases probably grew during the isolation caused by COVID-19 because child abuse happens in secrecy. The signs of abuse go undetected when children are not seen regularly by others outside the home.”

Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas has 17 centers located throughout Arkansas that provide a safe place for children and non-offending family members. Services include advocacy, mental health therapy, medical exams and a one-time forensics interview for victims with law enforcement. Centers also employ prevention education specialists to offer free school and community resources.

“We never once closed our centers during the pandemic,” Pulley noted. “In fact, our mission became even more important during that time because we saw an even higher number of reported physical abuse cases than before. As in-person learning resumes in schools, we expect reported cases to continue to grow.”

The National Children’s Advocacy Center states that physical abuse and neglect are most affected by socioeconomic status, which was widely impacted by COVID-19 as families lost employment. By contrast, sexual abuse occurs equally across all levels of society.

Arkansas’s First Lady Susan Hutchinson has long been a champion for children suffering through abuse.

“When my husband became Governor in 2015, I was committed to use my unique platform to help make a difference for children,” said Ms. Hutchinson. “Children rarely tell someone that they are being abused, so it is critical that we, as adults, recognize the signs and be courageous enough to do something about it.”

Wednesday could bring severe thunderstorms to Southwest Arkansas      4/06/2021

DE QUEEN – Another quick-moving storm front will enter Arkansas this Wednesday, April 7. Not only does this date pose Southwest Arkansas’ next best chance of rain, but it also comes with the chance to see isolated severe storms. The Storm Prediction Center has already outlined a slight risk for isolated severe storms in Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties, as well as surrounding areas. Based on latest forecast model trends, the front will start to spark rain showers from west to central Arkansas Wednesday morning. As the front itself enters the state by the lunchtime hours, there is potential to see a line of storms develop. Any strong or severe storm that does occur has a chance to threaten damaging winds up to 60 mph or quarter-sized hail. The tornado threat remains low for this specific weather event. However, an isolated tornado cannot be completely ruled out of the forecast, according to the National Weather Service. Be sure to stay tuned to your Number One Country on air and online on our Facebook page for the latest updates on tomorrow’s weather.
Youth looking for a chance to give back can find it through 4-H      4/06/2021
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Extension Service has recently started challenging 4-H’ers to do a monthly community service project as a way to better their communities. Kim Frachiseur, 4-H Program Assistant for Sevier County, said local 4-H’ers are meeting the challenge head on each month. January’s challenge was to donate to a local food pantry. The Goin’ Showin’ Club met and donated various foods to a local food bank. Since Valentine’s Day is in February, youth were asked to make cards for random people in the community. Bailey Gore, Gracie Sutton, Keegan McCoy, and Alex McCoy made cards for all the residents at Bear Creek Nursing Center. March’s challenge was to do a random act of kindness. Members of the Lakeside 4-H club put together Easter eggs and hid them for children at a local day care. This is just part of the spirit of community service fostered through Sevier County 4-H programs. If you’re interested in joining the 4-H program, you may contact the Sevier County Extension Service at (870) 584-3013 or drop by their office located on the UA Cossatot Campus in the Adams Building.

Career fair next month in Idabel      4/06/2021

IDABEL, Okla. – The Kiamichi Technology Center will host a Career Fair and Employment Network event next month with a focus on high school students and young adults. The event is scheduled for May 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kiamichi Tech – Idabel Campus. The career fair will be tailored to those aged 16 to 20-years-old. Featured at this event will be a number of area businesses and industries seeking temporary, part-time and full-time employees. Additional businesses and industries are welcome to attend by contacting the Kiamichi Technology Center at (580) 286-7555 or by visiting www.ktc.edu/career connect

IRS says third stimulus payments will be issued April 7 for Social Security recipients, some other non-filers      4/06/2021

The IRS continues to issue the third Economic Impact Payment to eligible individuals. This includes Social Security recipients and other federal beneficiaries who do not normally file a tax return. Most of these payments will be sent electronically and received on April 7. This round of third payments applies to eligible Social Security retirement, survivor or disability, Supplemental Security Income, and Railroad Retirement Board beneficiaries who don’t file tax returns. In addition, many federal beneficiaries who filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return or used the Non-Filers tool last year were issued Economic Impact Payments, if eligible, during the last three weeks, along with other taxpayers. These beneficiaries can use the Get My Paymenttool to find out when and how the payment was issued. Payments are automatic for most people Most Social Security retirement and disability beneficiaries, railroad retirees and recipients of veterans benefits who are eligible for the third EIP don’t need to take any action to receive a payment. They will generally receive this third payment the same way that they receive their regular benefits. However, some people may need to file a 2020 tax return even if they don’t usually file. This will provide the information the IRS needs to send a third payment for a spouse or any qualified dependent. Eligible benefit recipients can file a 2020 tax return to receive a third payment for their eligible spouse or dependent even if they have already received their own third payment. When someone files their 2020 tax return, they may also be eligible to claim the 2020 recovery rebate credit for their spouse and any qualifying children who were under age 17 at the end of 2020. People can visit IRS.gov for details about claiming the 2020 recovery rebate credit if they aren’t required to file a tax return. The third payment is not claimed on the 2020 tax return or used to calculate the 2020 recovery rebate credit. Watch mail for checks or EIP Cards The form of payment for the third EIP may be different for some people including Social Security and other federal beneficiaries. More people are receiving direct deposits, while those receiving payments in the mail may receive a paper check or a prepaid debit card called an EIP Card. Eligible people can check Get My Payment to see how their payment will be issued. More details on this third round of EIP and federal benefit recipients are available on the frequently asked questions page on IRS.gov.

Dierks Police Chief arrested for DWI on Sunday, resigns from position      4/05/2021
DIERKS – Our sister station, KMTB out of Nashville, is reporting that Dierks Police Chief Brian White has resigned his position, effective immediately, following his arrest for DWI on Sunday.
In a written statement released Monday, Dierks Mayor Ronnie Cogburn said he and council members became aware of an incident Sunday involving Chief White.  Police reports said White was involved in a single vehicle accident while driving a Dierks police patrol vehicle. White was booked into the Howard County Jail at 12:35 Sunday afternoon on suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated.  Jail records indicate he was released about an hour later.
After learning of the arrest, Mayor Cogburn suspended White with pay, pending further investigation.  Subsequently, Chief White tendered his resignation to the mayor and council.
Mayor Cogburn said Dierks officer John McKee has been appointed as Interim Police Chief. The mayor’s statement also said neither he, nor the city of Dierks, will have any further comment on the matter, pending a full investigation by the Arkansas State Police.
The Dierks City Council has called a special meeting for this evening at 7 o’clock to discuss personnel.
The original story ran as follows:
The Dierks Police Chief has been charged with D.W.I. following his arrest yesterday. Records indicate 57 year James Brian White was booked into the Howard County Jail Sunday afternoon around 12:30, and was released about an hour later.
Howard County Sheriff Bryan McJunkins said authorities initially received a call reporting an accident just outside of Dierks around 10 o’clock Sunday morning. Sheriff McJunkins said by the time officers arrived, they learned the vehicle had been pulled out of the ditch and someone had driven Chief White and his city of Dierks patrol unit to near the chief’s residence. The sheriff said state troopers located White there, and took him into custody.
Radio stations KMTB and KNAS submitted a request Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act, and learned Dierks Mayor Ronnie Cogburn has suspended Chief White, with pay, from his duties, pending the outcome of an investigation into Sunday’s incident.
Horatio Schools to dismiss at noon today due to water cut      4/05/2021
HORATIO – The Horatio School District will dismiss at 12 noon today due to an interruption in water service within the City of Horatio. Lunch will be provided to students at both Horatio Elementary and High School before the dismissal.
The following is a statement by Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool regarding the closure:
“The City of Horatio has experienced another cut in the main water line that provides water to both of our schools.
Children will be provided a lunch today, however the menu and times will be altered.
We will prepare for dismissal at 12:00 noon today.
Students will bring home devices today so that we may be prepared for Digital Days if needed later this week.
We apologize for this loss of instruction and will continue to monitor the situation.
Please help us to share this announcement.”
Spring cleanup week in De Queen starts today      4/05/2021
DE QUEEN – It’s spring clean up week in De Queen and city officials are asking everyone to do their part in making sure the city’s looking good and as free of trash and debris as possible.
Spring clean up week begins today and continues through April 9. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles.
The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. between today and April 9.
New this year, the city is also launching an Adopt-a-Block program. Mayor Jeff Brown said this is a way for city residents to give back by ensuring the areas around their homes, neighborhoods and nearby streets are cleaned up and free of trash.
UA Cossatot to host 2021 Fiesta Fest on May 1      4/05/2021
DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot has announced it will host Fiesta Fest on Saturday, May 1. The event, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, will be held in Downtown De Queen on North 3rd Street and West De Queen Avenue in front of the Courthouse from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.
The festival’s focus is bringing the community together to celebrate the cultures of Southwest Arkansas while raising scholarship money for UA Cossatot students.
Festivities will include food, vendors, live music, a DJ and light show, folkloric dancing, carnival rides, games, inflatables, and more.
Erika Buenrostro of UA Cossatot said the event is a great time for all of residents of the area to come together for a common cause. The event aims to celebrate the cultures that make up Sevier County’s community and help provide students of the college with a scholarship funded through money raised at this event.
To become a sponsor or vendor for Fiesta Fest, contact Dustin Roberts, Director of Development, at droberts@cccua.edu or 870-584-1172.
Ashdown Schools honor pro baseball players through new project      4/05/2021
ASHDOWN – The Ashdown High School Baseball Team and Ashdown Public Schools joined together for a recent project aimed at honoring Ashdown alumni who went on to play baseball professionally. These former baseball players are being commemorated with special jerseys featured on the outfield wall at the baseball field in Ashdown City Park.

Honored Alumni include: Walter Ray Matthews of the Ashdown High School Class of 1952. After attending the University of Arkansas, Matthews was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and dedicated 52 consecutive years of service to the Houston Astros. He was inducted into the Texas Scouts Association Hall of Fame in 2004. Marquis Riley of the Class of 1989 attended the University of Central Arkansas and was inducted into the UCA Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. He was drafted in the second round of the 1992 MLB draft by the California Angels. Joe Jester, Class of 1996, attended the University of Arkansas and was drafted in the seventh round of the 1999 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants. Cedrick Harris, Class of 1996, was named the 1996 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year. He was drafted by the NY Yankees in the 61st round of the 1996 MLB draft and the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 10th round of the 2000 MLB draft. Adam Cobb, Class of 2004, attended and played for Louisiana Tech University. He was drafted in the 24th round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Texas Rangers. Kentrell Hill, Class of 2009, attended Arkansas Baptist College. He was drafted in the 10th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants. And finally, Jaden Hill, Class of 2018. Hill was the 2018 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year. He was drafted in the 38th round of the 2018 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He is currently the starting pitcher for LSU.

Rep. Vaught helps advance bill to ensure Holocaust taught to Arkansas students      4/05/2021
State Representative DeAnn Vaught is helping to advance a bill aimed at ensuring the brutality and lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten.

Last week, Vaught said she had the privilege of carrying a bill that will mandate that the Holocaust be taught in Arkansas’ public schools.  She was joined by a young man, David Ronnels, who she said has lived through persecution due to his Jewish religion. Vaught said she was honored to be asked to serve as the House sponsor for this Senate bill. Vaught said she looks forward to us passing it off this afternoon. A study performed in 2020 suggested an alarming lack of knowledge of the Holocaust among high school students in Arkansas. The bill carried by Vaught aims to reverse that declining knowledge. The House passed several bills amending election laws on Thursday, including: HB1777, which, if passed, would allow a registered voter who is a victim of domestic violence to request secure voter status. This would help domestic violence victims keep their addresses from being made public. HB1715 seeks to amend Arkansas law concerning absentee ballots. It states that the county clerk or other designated election official providing materials to qualified voters shall not distribute unsolicited absentee ballot applications or unsolicited absentee ballots to electors. It also goes on to say that the county clerk shall provide the county board of election commissioners with a daily count of absentee applications received. The House also passed SB531, which would create the Arkansas Legislative Arts and Technology Boot Camp. The camp will issue a final written report, which will include an inventory of Arkansas’s statewide arts and cultural assets and identify funding needs to maintain a statewide database. The House will reconvene today at 1 pm. COVID-19 vaccine clinics this week in Ashdown, De Queen      4/05/2021 DE QUEEN – A number of COVID-19 vaccination clinics are scheduled throughout the listening area this week. In Sevier County, a vaccination clinic will be held in De Queen this Thursday, April 8. This event will be hosted by the Sevier County Health Unit and the Arkansas Department of Health. The clinic is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 8. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available for no out-of-pocket expense to eligible Arkansans. Those with insurance are asked to bring their insurance card. Insurance companies will pay the administrative costs of distributing the vaccine but will not pass on those costs in any way to the insurance holder. Everyone in Arkansas aged 18 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at this clinic. The vaccine will be distributed on a first-come, first serve basis. Everyone is asked to come inside the health unit to receive the shot. The vaccine distributed at this event will be the Johnson & Johnson shot, which requires only one dose so no second, follow-up shot will be needed. For more information, call the Sevier County Health Unit at 642-2535. Another clinic will be held in Ashdown as well this Thursday, April 8. Vaccines will be distributed on a first-come, first-service basis in a drive-thru fashion at Brookshire’s Pharmacy at 1310 S. Constitution Avenue in Ashdown. Finally, De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy will host an additional vaccination clinic this Saturday, April 10. The shot given at this event will be the Pfizer. This is also open to those who attended the pharmacy’s mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic last month and are now due for the second dose. The Pfizer vaccine is a two-dose vaccine that requires a waiting period of 21 days between doses. Following last week’s announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, everyone in Arkansas aged 16 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, is currently only open to those 18 and older. For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccines available to the public, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov ASP launch “U Text. U Drive. U Pay.” campaign against distracted driving      4/05/2021 The Arkansas State Police are working to tackle a growing problem across the nation – distracted driving. Next week, the ASP, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other law enforcement agencies in the U.S., will be taking part in an enforcement operation to shed more light on the issue. The effort is called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” and will include “stepped-up” efforts of stopping those who are showing obvious signs of driving while distracted. Typing a text message or reading one while driving and all the other distractions occurring inside a moving vehicle have become lifestyle practices leading to life threatening consequences, said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, in a press release. A driver taking their eyes off the road for five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour covers the length of a football field. The time and distance factors create a deadly formula, leaving a driver with little if any time to safely avoid a collision. The operation begins on April 5 and will continue through April 12. For more information on the program, head to DPS.Arkansas.gov.

Catch the 2020 Leopard Football Awards Show on DQTV      4/02/2021 DE QUEEN – Over the next couple of days, De Queen High School’s television production program, called DQTV, will be releasing the 2020-2021 Leopard Sports Award Shows from the district’s fall sports programs. The Leopard Booster Club’s annual banquet was unfortunately canceled last spring due to COVID-19. To avoid a similar situation this year, the booster club asked DQTV for assistance in making sure De Queen’s student-athletes would not miss out again due to the pandemic. The 2020 Leopard Football Awards Show can be found on the DQTV Youtube channel. DQTV will be releasing the 2020 Spring Sports Awards Shows in May.

Link to DQTV’s Youtube Launch Page
Link to the 2020 Leopard Football Awards Show

Hospital board discusses construction progress, CEO interviews      4/02/2021

During Thursday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, Board Chairman Dr. Steve Cole Cole expressed gratitude to Monte Bartek, who has volunteered his services as a drone operator to provide aerial photos of the hospital’s construction process. Cole said Bartek will provide a time lapse video showing construction of the hospital from beginning to end.

DE QUEEN – Construction of Sevier County’s new hospital is proceeding on target and with an expected opening date as early as March of next year. Updates on the construction process was the primary focus of Thursday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. Board Chairman Dr. Steve Cole despite some weather related issues over the past couple of months, construction is progressing smoothly and on time. The board is set to meet this month to narrow down its applications for the hospital’s CEO/administrator position. The administrator/CEO position will be responsible for overseeing construction of the new hospital as that process completes as well as heading all day-to-day operations once the medical center opens in 2022. The position will include a salary of between $160,000 and $200,000. Cole said the board plans to announce its CEO hire at its May meeting. Plans are to have the position filled and on the job by June 1. Board Treasurer Greg Revels provided a financial update, stating the hospital had over $1.5 million in sales tax revenue set aside. These funds will be used to help fund operations at the hospital once it opens next year. Revels said this war chest will be critical to ensure the hospital’s financial viability until it receives status as a Critical Access Hospital, which will provide additional reimbursement. Revels added that the sales tax revenue has been stronger than anyone could have expected, given the ongoing pandemic, and is a testament to local folks shopping locally and supporting the economy in Sevier County. Finally, Cole expressed gratitude to Monte Bartek, who has volunteered his services as a drone operator to provide aerial photos of the hospital’s construction process. Cole said Bartek will provide a time lapse video showing construction of the hospital from beginning to end. MAC to meet tonight to discuss community mural in De Queen      4/02/2021 DE QUEEN – A community group with plans to paint a mural in De Queen will meet this evening and are welcoming everyone to come by.

The Minority Affairs Council will meet Friday evening at 6 p.m. at the Sportsplex to continue plans for the mural. The Minority Affairs Council is a team of area organizers who announced plans earlier this year for a community mural as their first project in De Queen. The first community goal carried out by the Minority Affairs Council will be to cover up graffiti markings with a “Welcome to De Queen Mural” on a storage unit business vandalized this year on the Eastern edge of town. MAC has received permission from the business owner to paint the building’s exterior and the group is in the process of commissioning a team of artists to bring the work of community art to life. To fund the community mural, a series of fundraisers will be held to help cover the costs for supplies and provide artist compensation. People of all ages, ethnicities, religions and cultures are welcome to be involved in the Minority Affairs Council. For questions or to become involved in the mural or council itself, contact DQunity@gmail.com Four States Fair begins tonight      4/02/2021 TEXARKANA – The Four States Fair in Texarkana begins tonight. The gates open for the 10-day fair starting this evening at 5 p.m. The fair will run through Sunday, April 11. New this year, opening tonight, will feature AMMP Motor Sports Monster Trucks in the Entertainment Center at 7:30 p.m.  Event Tickets are available online at www.fourstatesfair.com The 76th Four States Fair will include MONSTER TRUCKS, DEMOLITION DERBY, RODEO, FOOD, MUSIC, WAGNER CARNIVAL and much more. For more information about and other events are Four States Fair visit, the website at www.fourstatesfair.com. ASP to join campaign against distracted driving      4/02/2021 The Arkansas State Police are working to tackle a growing problem across the nation – distracted driving. Next week, the ASP, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other law enforcement agencies in the U.S., will be taking part in an enforcement operation to shed more light on the issue. The effort is called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” and will include “stepped-up” efforts of stopping those who are showing obvious signs of driving while distracted. Typing a text message or reading one while driving and all the other distractions occurring inside a moving vehicle have become lifestyle practices leading to life threatening consequences, said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, in a press release. A driver taking their eyes off the road for five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour covers the length of a football field. The time and distance factors create a deadly formula, leaving a driver with little if any time to safely avoid a collision. The operation begins on April 5 and will continue through April 12. For more information on the program, head to DPS.Arkansas.gov. Little River County Memorial Hospital hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinic today      4/01/2021

ASHDOWN – The Little River Memorial Hospital will host a free COVID-19 vaccination Clinic all day today at its location in Ashdown. COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Organizers say they have enough vaccines to cover the vast majority of the expected demand. The clinic is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. For more information call (870) 898-5011, ext. 3161. Following this week’s announcement by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, all Arkansans aged 16 and up are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccines currently available to the public, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov. April marks Child Abuse Awareness Month      4/01/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and members of one local advocacy group are hoping to raise more attention to the ongoing issue of child abuse in Arkansas and across the nation.
Cynthia Martin, director of CASA of the Ouachitas, spoke with us this week about Child Abuse Awareness Month and how members of the community can help raise awareness. CASA, which stands for Court-Appointed-Special Advocates, provides local children in foster care services or who have suffered from abuse with a dedicated advocate to ensure they don’t fall through society’s cracks. Martin said April is a critical time for the organization to join with the public in helping end child abuse.
Martin said members of the community can assist in numerous ways – most vitally by reporting suspected incidents of child abuse. She said child advocacy organizations like the Department of Human Services performs thorough investigations to determine the validity of a child abuse case. In addition, DHS works with many partnering agencies to provide resources to a family and will only remove a child from a home in the most extreme cases.
Nonetheless, Martin said CASA and other child advocacy organizations can’t stress enough the need for people to report child abuse if they suspect it.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, incidents of domestic violence, child abuse and similar family-related crimes have increased. Martin said it’s certainly a rise CASA and other child advocacy organizations have witnessed over the past year.
Martin added that residents of Sevier County can help raise awareness of this growing issue and have a little fun in the process. Throughout this month, CASA is presenting “Best of the Blues Day.” Folks in the community are asked to wear blue on Fridays, grab their co-workers, take a photo and share them on the CASA Ouachita Region’s Facebook page. The photo with the most likes will win a pizza party at the end of the month. One picture from each of CASA’s counties, including Polk, Montgomery and Sevier, will be chosen. She said groups can post a photo each Friday to increase their chances to win.
In addition, Martin said CASA is always looking for volunteers to serve as advocates for children in a foster program or going through a court process. She said CASA is one of the best ways for ordinary people to become a voice for abused and neglected children.
For more information, call CASA’s De Queen office at (870) 518-4098.
Sevier County Health Unit hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinic next week      4/01/2021
DE QUEEN – Another COVID-19 vaccination clinic will be held in De Queen next Thursday, April 8. This event will be hosted by the Sevier County Health Unit and the Arkansas Department of Health. The clinic is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 8. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available for no out-of-pocket expense to eligible Arkansans. Those with insurance are asked to bring their insurance card. Insurance companies will pay the administrative costs of distributing the vaccine but will not pass on those costs in any way to the insurance holder. Currently, everyone in Arkansas aged 16 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will be distributed on a first-come, first serve basis. Everyone is asked to come inside the health unit to receive the shot. The vaccine distributed at this event will be the Johnson & Johnson shot, which requires only one dose so no second, follow-up shot will be needed. For more information, call the Sevier County Health Unit at 642-2535 or visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov De Queen FFA teams compete at state qualifier, several teams to compete this month at state event      4/01/2021 DE QUEEN – Students from the De Queen FFA Chapter recently completed in a virtual state qualifying competition for the statewide organization. The De Queen chapter had a total of nine teams on March 19 consisting of thirty-six FFA members vying for the right to compete at the state-level in-person contest. The nine teams competing included forestry, land, agronomy, horse, ag mechanics, milk quality and products, poultry, farm business management, and livestock. Four of the above teams will be advancing to the state competition held at Arkansas FFA’s Camp Couchdale. The livestock team consisting of Kane Faulkenberry, Aubrey Seymour, Olivia Cooley, and Ben Moniewski will be compete April 16. The milk quality and products team also will be advancing to the state finals on April 14. The team members include Kaleb Key, Zae-Li Frachiseur, Abisai De Jesus, and Misael Sanches. Travis Newberry, Guadalupe Olvera, J.D. Brinkley, and Yanet Dominguez will be representing the Agronomy team at Couchdale on April 9th. Land team members including C.J. Chandler, Dulce Vargas, Hailey Carter, and Berenice Martinez will compete on April 19 as well. Members of De Queen Public Schools congratulated all of these Future Farmers and wished them well at the next level.

Minority Affairs Council meeting in De Queen tomorrow to continue project on local welcome mural      4/01/2021 DE QUEEN – A community group with plans to paint a mural in De Queen will meet this Friday and are welcoming everyone to come by. The Minority Affairs Council will meet Friday evening at 6 p.m. at the Sportsplex to continue plans for the mural. The Minority Affairs Council is a team of area organizers who announced plans earlier this year for a community mural as their first project in De Queen. The new Non-Profit organization is aiming to support the minority populations of Sevier County and unite the communities of Southwest Arkansas as a whole, according to organizers. After their most recent meeting held in downtown De Queen in February, leaders conducted a poll and voted “Minority Affairs Council” as the name for the group. The first community goal carried out by the Minority Affairs Council will be to cover up graffiti markings with a “Welcome to De Queen Mural” on a storage unit business recently vandalized on the Eastern edge of town. MAC has received permission from the business owner to paint the building’s exterior and the group is in the process of commissioning a team of artists to bring the work of community art to life. To fund the community mural, a series of fundraisers will be held to help cover the costs for supplies and provide artist compensation. People of all ages, ethnicities, religions and cultures are welcome to be involved in the Minority Affairs Council. For questions or to become involved in the mural or council itself, contact DQunity@gmail.com De Queen parent-teacher conferences scheduled for today      4/01/2021 DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools has announced it will conduct parent-teacher conferences this afternoon. District officials said, in order to protect the health of everyone, teachers will not conduct face-to-face parent-teacher conferences on campus. Instead, teachers will be available through email this afternoon from 3-4 p.m. Due to the limitations of the campus phone system, teachers will not be able to communicate via phone calls during this time. However, if you feel the need for a one on one conversation with a teacher, a phone conference can be scheduled with teachers during their regular conference hours.

Create Bridges promoting local business survey, continuing small business podcast      4/01/2021

DE QUEEN – The CREATE BRIDGES of Arkansas team is seeking information about the shopping and dining styles of local residents in Southwest Arkansas. Your response to this survey will help provide small business owners with important feedback to understand the region’s consumer base and to evolve their company practices. These surveys will help support small business programs in Southwest Arkansas and those who respond through the survey will be entered for a chance to win a $100 gift card. The survey can be found here: https://uaex.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3aNCABuBpVbgCDI?fbclid=IwAR2qe_Fqj7OselIW07D_HG2g4NyjpwRVpVt_AEFRPhYRWxPjEGl25maezRk The Create Bridges team is continuing to release new episodes of its locally based podcast. The podcast — titled “Arkansas Small Business: Big Rural Impact” — spotlights retail, entertainment, accommodations and tourism businesses in two areas of the state: north central Arkansas and Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties in southwestern Arkansas. The most recent episode from March 25 includes a conversation with Esteban Ochoa of De Queen and owner of Smart Phone EMT. He speaks about the importance of communication across different generations, and different languages. The discussion also provides some insight and inspiration to making a business successful through caring about employees first so they can genuinely care about people. All episodes are available through the Spring River Innovation Hub’s Apple Podcasts and Spotify pages. They can also be downloaded at uaex.edu/createbridgesresources. The goals of the series are to highlight products and services of businesses in these regions and to discuss ways business owners address workforce development, technology and infrastructure. The podcast also focuses on how businesses are adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers say they’re also trying to foster collaborations and partnerships between local businesses in rural communities. For more information about “Arkansas Small Business: Big Rural Impact” or to suggest a potential business owner for an interview, email createbridgesar@gmail.com. To learn more about Create Bridges, visit https://uaex.edu/createbridges or contact Julianne Dunn at 501-671-2158 or jbdunn@uaex.edu. Arkansas’ utility disconnect moratorium to expire May 3      4/01/2021 The Arkansas Public Service Commission has announced the state’s COVID-19 utility service disconnection moratorium will end May 3. Consumers with past due balances will now begin receiving disconnection notices to their mailing addresses from their utility companies providing at least a 35-day grace period before shut-off notices will be sent. This applies to customers of Entergy, SWEPCO, CenterPoint Energy and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, among other energy providers. For those still struggling to catch up on their utility bills due to the financial impact of COVID-19, it’s important to take action immediately to seek assistance to avoid disconnection after May 3. Verify what you owe directly with your utility company. Information, including what is owed, must be provided in writing to each customer with a past due balance. Contact the utility company and discuss a payment plan if your bill is unaffordable. Utility companies are required to provide information regarding available payment options on their website and social media platforms. Utility companies are required to offer plans which provide a minimum of 18 months to repay any past due balances with no down payment required. Utility companies must also provide information regarding funds that may be available through assistance agencies or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Law enforcement agencies also warn consumers to not fall for fake calls about utility bills. Verify the status of your account directly with the utility company. You should contact them. Do not assume that someone who contacts you works for the utility company. It could be a scam. The Public Service Commission does not regulate municipal utilities or private water companies, and customers of those utility companies are not affected by the moratorium order.

Arkansas’ face mask mandate lifted, COVID-19 vaccine now available to all Arkansans 16 and older      3/31/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Arkansas’ enforceable face mask mandate officially ended Tuesday afternoon.
The announcement to lift the mandate was made during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference and comes more than a year into the ongoing pandemic. Arkansas now joins several other states, including neighboring Texas and Mississippi, in ending the requirement to wear face masks in public settings.
Hutchinson said the decision was made after Arkansas hit the target set by the state earlier this year. That included fewer than 750 Arkansans hospitalized as of March 31. Currently just 170 people are receiving treatment for COVID-19 in an Arkansas medical facility.

Arkansas restaurants, hotels, healthcare clinics, government offices, schools and other facilities may continue to enforce their own face mask requirements, Hutchinson said. He urged Arkansans to respect the decisions made by these entities when it comes to face mask usage.

Hutchinson then announced the state was opening up eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to all Arkansans aged 16 and older. This eliminates all eligibility restrictions in Arkansas save those set by the vaccine manufacturers.

Arkansans can call the Arkansas Department of Health’s vaccine hotline at 1-800-985-6030 to find their nearest vaccine distribution site.

Finally, Hutchinson provided an update on Arkansas’ statewide COVID-19 figures and vaccine distribution effort. As of Tuesday the state had received 1.6 million vaccines. Of those, 1.2 million have been given, a current rate of around 69 percent. Over 407,000 Arkansans are now fully immunized, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
On Tuesday, the state reported an additional 178 new cases of COVID-19 across Arkansas. That raises the statewide cumulative total to more than 330,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 56 to 1,717 currently. Deaths increased by 15 over the same period for a total of 5,616. Hospitalizations increased by six to leave 170 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.
De Queen soccer fans advised of changes while renovations continue at Leopards Stadium      3/31/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools is informing Leopards soccer fans of some ongoing construction and how that will affect attendance at games in the near future.

Earlier this year the district began some much-needed repairs and renovations at Leopard Stadium, including the construction of new bleachers for Leopards home fans. However, with construction currently underway, district officials say this will have a major impact on its remaining home soccer games.

District officials are encouraging anyone who plans to attend any of the remaining home soccer games to bring their own chair as bleachers will be unavailable on the home side. Fans are welcome to sit around the track on the home side of the field, along the rail by the restrooms or any other location that is safe for them and their family.

District officials said they regret any inconvenience caused at future games but expect Leopard Stadium to look better than ever when renovations are completed.

The De Queen School Board voted unanimously in January to approve nearly $970,000 for renovations at the stadium – which is host not just to numerous school sporting events but also the district’s graduation ceremony and other community events.

Superintendent Jason Sanders said the project is being funded internally through money remaining from the construction fund for the new high school. Work is being performed by Clarke Construction – the same contractor who built the new high school on-time and under-budget. As part of the repair work, the home side will receive new aluminum bleachers as well as safety fencing and handrails around the facility.

Given the importance of the stadium not just to the school but the community as a whole, Sanders said it’s vital the facility stays in top shape for years to come.

Horatio Schools to recommend, not require face masks after statewide mandate is lifted     3/31/2021

HORATIO – Officials with the Horatio School District provided an update to the school’s face mask policy following yesterday’s lifting of the Arkansas face mask mandate.

In a statement, Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the district will encourage and recommend all students and staff to follow guidelines from the CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health to wear masks and social distance while at school or extracurricular events. The use of face masks will not, however, be required.

Vanderpool said, to help the district’s teachers, parents are asked to send notes to their child’s teachers to let them know whether or not their child should wear a face mask while at school or at school events.

Vanderpool added that the district will continue to offer multiple opportunities for hand-washing and sanitizing at stations throughout its facilities. He said the district will also continue to clean, disinfect, and sanitize classrooms and other areas throughout Horatio schools.

urthermore, the district will continue to promote social distancing in classes where feasible and increase air circulation and ventilation within its facilities.

Vanderpool said it is vital for the district to continue onsite instruction as much as possible through the last day of school on May 27. He asked school families to help through healthy habits to ensure a strong ending to the school year.

Finally, Vanderpool expressed the district’s gratitude to Horatio students, staff and community in following health guidelines throughout this school year and “maintaining a healthy and safe environment within the district.” The district was forced to cancel in-class instruction within its schools just twice this school year due to COVID-19 – less than many other districts across the state.

De Queen kindergarten registration now underway     3/31/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools has announced registration information and dates for local children entering kindergarten for the upcoming school year.

To register for the 2021-2022 kindergarten class at De Queen Public Schools, children must be five on or before Aug. 1.

Parents wanting to enroll their child for Kindergarten this fall can now come to the Primary office and pick up a registration packet. All registration packets will need to be turned back into the Primary office by Friday, April 30. The same packets have already been sent to the local pre-schools if your child attends any De Queen pre-school.

If you live outside the De Queen School District and would like to send your child to De Queen Schools next year, you’re asked to fill out a school choice form at the administration office by April 30.

Also, De Queen Primary Registration for the 2021-2022 school year will be held at the Primary School on Wednesday, Aug. 4, for new Kindergarten students as well as new and returning first and second grade students.

COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Ashdown now open to all Arkansans 16 and up     3/31/2021
ASHDOWN – The Little River Memorial Hospital will host a free COVID-19 vaccination Clinic this Thursday, April 1 at its location in Ashdown.

COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed to all those currently eligible on a first-come, first-serve basis. Organizers say they have enough vaccines to cover the vast majority of the expected demand.

The clinic will begin at 8 a.m. this Thursday and continue through 6 p.m. that evening. The Little River Memorial Hospital is located at 451 West Locke Street in Ashdown.

For more information call (870) 898-5011, ext. 3161.

Following yesterday’s announcement by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, all Arkansans aged 16 and up are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccines currently available to the public, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

Chalice Cupboard, De Queen FUMC to distribute food today     3/31/2021

DE QUEEN – The Chalice Cupboard will be distributing food boxes today from 2-4 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. Recipients are asked to come south down Fifth Street and enter the back of the church and exit on Fourth Street.  There will be a limit of one box per automobile. Organizers ask that you do not get out of your automobile for the safety of all recipients and staff. Visitors are asked to pop their trunk so that the box can be put inside their vehicle.

Idabel Dogwood Days kicks off this weekend     3/31/2021

IDABEL, Okla. – Celebrate springtime in Idabel with a visit to the Dogwood Days festival this weekend. Held annually in April, festivities include a myriad of craft vendors, kid games, live entertainment and more. Enjoy some great fair food under the dogwood blooms while browsing through the festival’s retail sidewalk sales. The festival kicks-off with a Mr. & Mrs. Dogwood Days Pageant and First Friday, a monthly music and food truck event. Saturday is packed with a golf tournament, crawfish boil, car show, chicken cook-off, movie night, street dance and many other vendors and attractions.

A spring tradition in Idabel, the Dogwood Days Festival features something for everyone and prides itself on providing good, old-fashioned family entertainment. Bring the entire family and enjoy a bike show, chainsaw carving demonstrations, free concert, scavenger hunt, dance troupes and even a lawn and garden show. This year’s Dogwood Days Festival will begin this Friday, April 2 and continue on Saturday, April 3.

Rep. Vaught provides update on Arkansas House, passing of ARHOME bill     3/31/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has provided us with an additional update detailing activities in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

By a vote of 64-34, Vaught informed us the House passed SB410 on Tuesday. This bill establishes the framework for a new Medicaid expansion program called ARHOME which stands for Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me. ARHOME would replace the current Arkansas Works program. It would continue to offer low-income families private insurance, with incentives for taking advantage of work opportunities, education, and skill development.

The House also passed the following:

HB1788, which would allow a municipal improvement district to enter a partnership with a private sector company to provide broadband internet service.

SB161 would allow public schools to offer a hunting safety course as part of their curriculum.

SB163-This bill creates the Arkansas Military Affairs Council Act and establishes the Military Affairs Grant Program. The council will work with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to promote and support military installations for state and local economic development.

SB397-This bill directs the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a Consumer Guide for prospective students entering an Arkansas college or university and their parents.

The guide would include the following information on each state-supported higher education institution:

Retention and graduation rates.

The cost of tuition. The average amount borrowed and loan default rate. Percentage of students who applied for first-time undergraduate admission and were offered admission. Average composite test scores of students enrolled.

Job placement of students within the first three years of graduation.

The House will reconvene on Wednesday at 1 pm.

Arkansas turkey season begins April 19 with a few big changes     3/31/2021

With just a few weeks left until the opening day of Arkansas’s turkey season, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is finishing up printing of the 2021 Arkansas Turkey Hunting Guidebook, which contains all regulations for this year’s hunt. The guidebooks will be distributed in the next week, but for those wanting a copy now, a digital download is available at www.agfc.com.

Arkansas turkey hunters will see some major changes in their season this April, all focused to help recover the state’s eastern wild turkey population, which has seen some concerning declines during the last decade.

Jeremy Wood, AGFC wild turkey program coordinator, says the changes are an effort to balance the needs of the turkey population with the desires of hunters.

One of the most visible changes is the revamping of the state’s private land turkey hunting zones beginning in the 2021 season. Eighteen turkey zones have been condensed to two, and all zone boundaries will be based on county lines.

The season structures for the zones are similar to last year, with Zone 1 being a nine-day season with a one-bird bag limit and Zone 2 being a 21-day season with a two-bird bag limit. Under this new arrangement, Sevier, Howard, Polk and Hempstead counties are all included under Zone 2. Little River and Miller Counties are now included in Zone 1.

AGFC officials also stress that public land hunters remember that each wildlife management area and national wildlife refuge is its own zone with separate regs and zone numbers.

This year’s season opener is one of the latest opening days for Arkansas’s turkey season in recent history — April 19. This coincides with the long-term average peak egg-laying date in Arkansas. The delay is an effort to let more reproduction take place before hunters begin to remove mature gobblers from the landscape.

Another new regulation also will distribute some of the hunting success among the growing number of hunters taking up turkey hunting. Much of the state still has a two-turkey seasonal limit, but all hunters will only be able to take one turkey during the first seven days of regular turkey season, regardless of zone.

There are a few other regulations new to this year’s season and all can be viewed by checking out the digital and downloadable version of the 2021 Arkansas Turkey Hunting Guidebook at www.agfc.com.

Deadline extended to May 31 for PPP loan program     3/31/2021

Small businesses, corporations and farmers now have an additional two months to apply for the latest round of assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program, also known as PPP.

The current round of PPP was set to expire today. However, late last week the U.S. Senate voted to extend that deadline to May 31. Yesterday President Biden signed that extension into law.

The deadline to apply for a PPP loan has now been extended from March 31 to May 31, and the law extends authorization of loans to June 30 to give the Small Business Administration additional time to process applications.

The U.S. Small Business Administration stresses that the program is based on the availability of funds, so it could pay to apply as early as possible.

PPP is a part of the coronavirus stimulus plan under the 2020 CARES Act and provides forgivable loans up to $10 million.

As of March 28, the program has approved more than 8.7 million loans totaling more than $734 billion since it was created last year, according to Small Business Administration data.

The program is aimed to help not just corporations, but also small producers, small-scale farmers, sole proprietors, self employed and independent contractors. There’s no minimum loan size. The SBA reports some loans have been as small as $500 and as large as the maximum loan of $10 million.

The funds can also be used for more than just payroll. They can be a source of income replacement and use the proceeds for rent expenses, utility payments, certain costs and expenses with suppliers, and even certain interest payments on loans such as land loans and equipment loans. There are certain requirements to meet to ensure the loan is forgivable. The interest rate remains at one percent.

For more information, and to view the application process, visit www.sba.gov

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Sevier County down to one reported active case     3/31/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continue to decline to near zero levels, with two less cases yesterday. Currently, the county is only identifying one confirmed or probable active cases of COVID-19. Cumulative cases grew slightly to 2,778. Deaths remained at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases were unchanged at eight. Overall cases rose by five to 1,222 while deaths remained at 40.

Active cases in Howard County grew by one to five. Overall cases rose to 1,640. Deaths in Howard County due to COVID-19 remained at 24.

Polk County is reporting two active cases of the virus currently, a decline of one from Monday. Total cases grew slightly to 1,959 while deaths were unchanged at 69.

Arkansas Minority Health Commission offering scholarships     3/31/2021

The Arkansas Minority Health Commission (AMHC) is currently accepting applications for its Minority Health Workforce Diversity scholarship from now until April 21.

Full or part-time college students of a minority race who plan to pursue a career in the field of health are encouraged to apply.

The goal of the scholarship is to help increase diversity in the state’s healthcare workforce, which organizers hope will have positive effects on both the health of minority populations and the quality of care in Arkansas.

Full-time scholarship recipients will be awarded $1,000 per academic year and part-time recipients, $500 per academic year.

Students who wish to apply for the scholarship may download the application at www.arminorityhealth.com/initiatives/workforce-diversity-scholarship. The completed application form must be emailed to AMHC’s human resource specialist, Onekia Freeman, at Onekia.Freeman@arkansas.gov.

Little River Memorial Hospital to host COVID-19 vaccination clinic April 1      3/30/2021

ASHDOWN – The Little River Memorial Hospital will host a free COVID-19 vaccination Clinic this Thursday, April 1 at its location in Ashdown.

COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed to all those currently eligible on a first-come, first-serve basis. Organizers say they have enough vaccines to cover the vast majority of the expected demand.
The clinic will begin at 8 a.m. this Thursday and continue through 6 p.m. that evening. The Little River Memorial Hospital is located at 451 West Locke Street in Ashdown.
For more information call (870) 898-5011, ext. 3161.
Everyone in Phase 1C, 1B and 1A are currently eligible for the vaccine. Phase 1C makes the vaccine eligible to all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 with a existing health condition which makes them more vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Phase 1C also focuses on essential workers and people living in congregate settings like correctional facilities and student housing.
For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
Former Horatio man killed in motorcycle accident in Texarkana     3/30/2021
A former resident of Horatio was killed last week in a motorcycle accident in Texas.
According to the Texarkana Texas Police Department, officers were dispatched to the 2700 block of New Boston Road on March 25 after receiving a report of a motor vehicle accident involving a pickup truck and a motorcycle.
Upon arriving, officers learned 36-year-old Charles Devin Kissenger was riding his 2011 Harley Davidson eastbound on New Boston Road when a pickup turned left onto the road and into Kissenger’s path. The driver of the truck was identified as 69-year-old James Bennington of Texarkana.
Kissenger was transported to Wadley Hospital with serious injuries, where he later passed away. Pennington was not injured in the incident.
Texarkana police stated the accident remains under investigation.
Kissenger, who is originally from Horatio, was living in Texarkana at the time of the accident.
Horatio FFA competes at state event in March     3/30/2021

Madison Bagley was the second highest individual scorer in Arkansas during the recent state FFA championship. She is a student at Horatio High School.

HORATIO – The Horatio School District is giving a big shout out to the high school’s Future Farmers of America Chapter. A number of students in the local FFA chapter competed during the recent state competition.
The Livestock Judging team will include Madison Bagley, Gabbi Litchford, Hunter Frachiseur and Raylee VanVoast. They scored second in the state earlier this month.
The Vet Science team included Grace Wagner, Payton Allen, Caleb Klitz and Megan Midgett. Together they scored 11th in the state.

A special congrats goes to the 2nd highest scoring individual in the state, Madison Bagley and 16th highest scorer Grace Wagner.

De Queen’s Spring Clean Up week begins Monday     3/30/2021
DE QUEEN – Spring is here that has city leaders in De Queen gearing up for the annual municipal Spring clean up week.
Spring clean up week will begin next Monday, April 5 and continue through April 9. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles.
The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. between April 5-9.
New this year, the city is also launching an Adopt-a-Block program. Mayor Brown said this is a way for city residents to give back by ensuring the areas around their homes, neighborhoods and nearby streets are cleaned up and free of trash.
Gov. Hutchinson signs computer science bill co-sponsored by Rep. Vaught     3/30/2021
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law legislation to require that high school students take a computer science course before graduating.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the measure last week, which was part of his legislative agenda for this year’s session.
The requirement begins with students entering ninth grade class of the 2022-2023 school year.
A task force recommended the requirement last year. A 2015 measure Hutchinson signed into law required every public high school to offer computer science.
The legislation was co-sponsored by State Rep. DeAnn Vaught, whose district includes Little River County and most of Sevier.
De Queen Public Schools set virtual parent-teacher conferences for April 1     3/30/2021
De Queen Public Schools has announced it will conduct parent-teacher conferences this week. And like many other school activities, COVID-19 has changed how those conferences will be held.
District officials said, in order to protect the health of everyone, teachers will not conduct face-to-face parent-teacher conferences on campus. Instead, teachers will be available through email this Thursday, April 1 from 3-4 p.m.

Due to the limitations of the campus phone system, teachers will not be able to communicate via phone calls during this time. However, if you feel the need for a one on one conversation with a teacher, a phone conference can be scheduled with teachers during their regular conference hours.

Jason Mitchell receives award through NWTF     3/30/2021

An Arkansas Game and Fish Commission employee and resident of Polk County was awarded through the Arkansas chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation in Little Rock earlier this month.

Jason Mitchell was presented the annual award for his work toward wild turkey conservation in The Natural State.

Mitchell, an AGFC wildlife biologist from Polk County, received the Arkansas NWTF Wildlife Manager of the Year Award. Mitchell has worked for the AGFC for 20 years. He works on Caney Creek and Muddy Creek WMAs, two large management areas owned by the USDA Forest Service and managed under a cooperative agreement between the Forest Service and the AGFC.

Since 2016, Mitchell has assisted research efforts trapping and outfitting turkeys with radio-tracking equipment to determine harvest and survival rates of jake turkeys following the AGFC’s “no jake harvest” rule.  Mitchell has logged more than 1,000 hours since 2016 from January through February in trapping efforts for the research.

He also identified additional avenues for turkey habitat improvements on Muddy Creek WMA that led to a cooperative agreement that will improve approximately 4,000 acres on the area.

In addition to all the work Mitchell has completed for turkeys, his work also is essential to Arkansas’s black bear program and monitoring for chronic wasting disease to track how far into the state the disease has spread.

The NWTF — a national nonprofit organization — is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America. Founded in 1973, the NWTF is headquartered in Edgefield, S.C., and has local chapters in every state. The NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of the nation’s hunting heritage.

Holly Creek Missionary Baptist Church Easter Homecoming this Sunday     3/30/2021

GRANNIS – The annual homecoming and decoration day at Holly Grove Missionary Baptist Church will resume on Easter Sunday, April 4.

Sunday school begins at 10 a.m., worship services at 11. A basket lunch will be shared at noon with an egg hunt for the children and singing in the afternoon.

The church is located four and a half miles east of Grannis on Frachiseur Road. Everyone is welcome to attend.

De Queen Chalice Cupboard to giveaway food tomorrow     3/30/2021

DE QUEEN – The Chalice Cupboard will be distributing food boxes this Wednesday, March 31 from 2-4 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. Recipients are asked to come south down Fifth Street and enter the back of the church and exit on Fourth Street.  There will be a limit of one box per automobile. Organizers ask that you do not get out of your automobile for the safety of all recipients and staff. Visitors are asked to pop their trunk so that the box can be put inside their vehicle.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     3/30/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continue to decline to near zero levels, with two less cases yesterday. Currently, the county is only identifying three confirmed or probable active cases of COVID-19. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,775. Deaths remained at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases were unchaged at eight. Overall cases remained at 1,217 and deaths at 40.

Active cases in Howard County were unchanged at four. Overall cases remain at 1,637. Deaths in Howard County due to COVID-19 remained at 24.

Polk County is reporting three active cases of the virus currently. Total cases were unchanged at 1,958 and deaths at 69.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That raises the total number of transmissions to just over 330,000 cases since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 172 to 1,958 currently. Deaths increased by six yesterday for a total of 5,595. Hospitalizations also fell, dropping by seven for a total of 164 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

ONF conducting prescribed burns in McCurtain, Montgomery Counties      3/29/2021
National forest fire managers are currently conducting prescribed burns in areas across the Ouachita National Forest and the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.

Prescribed burns for today include nearly 1,500 acres of the Ouachita National Forest in McCurtain County. That fire began yesterday and folks may have seen the large cloud of smoke to the west. The Forest Service is also burning an additional 1,160 acres of national forest land near Mt. Ida in Montgomery County.
Smaller scale prescribed fires will also resume today in select locations to achieve critical forest management objectives, according to officials.
The U.S. Forest Service announced it plans to burn around 250,000 acres combined between the Ouachita and Ozark National Forests this spring. Both forests cover land in Arkansas as well as Oklahoma. Prescribed fires, also known as controlled fires, are intended to meet several objectives. According to the Forest Service, the first objective of prescribed burns is to reduce the potential for large, costly catastrophic wildfires. Other important objectives include improving habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.
People with smoke sensitivities, who are not on the Forest Service’s prescribed burn notification list, should contact their nearest ranger district to be added. Area residents can call the Hochatown office at (580) 494-6402 or the Mena Office at (479) 394-2382. Many conditions must be met before a prescribed fire can be ignited. The day chosen must be a combination of the correct humidity, wind speed and direction, temperature, fuel moisture, and atmospheric conditions. Factoring in all these requirements limits the number of days in which a prescribed fire can take place.
The Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests will notify local media outlets and smoke sensitive residents on days when prescribed fires are scheduled in their area. Daily updates on prescribed fires across the forests can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita
Forest Service officials remind that flying drones over a wildfire or prescribed burn puts firefighting pilots in danger. This violation of federal, state, and local laws may subject the offender to civil penalties, including fines of up to $25,000, and potentially criminal prosecution.
As always the public is asked to report any unattended wildfires by calling 911 or the Forests’ fire dispatch at 501-321-5232.
AGFC, state veterinarians warn of diseases affecting birds in the Natural State      3/29/2021

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission would like to remind everyone to take the time to keep bird feeders clean and prevent the spread of diseases among the feathered friends you are trying to help. If you see groups of sick or dead birds, please report them to AGFC using the wildlife health reporting system at agfc.health@agfc.ar.gov. Please include your contact information, the date and time of the observation, the location of the event, the number and species of animals affected, a description of what you observed and any pictures or videos you have with your report.

Social media has been lighting up with news about Salmonella outbreaks among finches in Oregon and California, with advice to readers to take down the feeders because they cause birds to congregate and spread infection. State wildlife experts say the issue is now showing up in Arkansas.
Signs of infection can include lethargy, having their feathers fluffed up and staying on the ground and avoiding flight.
Some of the birds themselves could be carriers of the Salmonella bacteria which they can then spread to other birds when congregating at feeders. Salmonella, other bacteria and fungi can also “grow in spoiled feeds in bird feeders. It is always a good idea to periodically clean and disinfect bird feeders and waterers to prevent disease.
Bird experts in Arkansas are suggesing people clean out any hulls or seed residue that would get moldy or rot in spring’s warmer and rainy weather.
Dustan Clark with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission warned that Salmonella can also cause illness in humans and urged people to take precautions. Cats and any other animals that eat the sick birds may also become sick or infected.
If you pick up a dead bird, wear gloves or use a plastic bag over your hands and turn the bag inside out once you’ve picked up the bird. Then wash your hands with soap and water. When you clean the feeder, wear gloves as well.
If the public finds sick or dead birds, email agfc.health@agfc.ar.gov and provide contact information, the location of sick or dead birds, when they found the sick or dead birds, the number of sick or dead birds and include any photos.
Mycoplasma infections are also common in spring Clark said. This infection is common about this time of year. It’s a bacterial infection of the eye, the area around the eye and the sinuses. It will cause eyes to swell shut.
Disease outbreaks are sometimes linked to migrations, though they can happen year-round.

Clark also warned those with backyard chickens and turkeys to keep “wild birds out of your chicken houses” to prevent their flocks from being infected.

Dr. Jenn Ballard, state wildlife veterinarian for the AGFC, says the bacteria that causes Mycoplasma is spread from bird-to-bird through contact with feeders and other surfaces where infected birds have been.

Ballard says if a person spots a bird at their feeder that shows signs of disease, the best way to help is to remove the feeder for at least two weeks, disinfect it with a bleach-and-water solution and allow it to dry completely before setting it out again with fresh seed.

Ballard suggests people who want to use feeders look for those without platforms or wide perches where droppings can accumulate and help spread bacteria. Wooden feeders, while pretty, can also increase the risk of disease transmission as they are much more difficult to disinfect. Multiple feeders that hold low amounts of food also are preferred, as they help spread birds out instead of piling up on a single feeder. Frequent refilling also will help you remember to give it a good cleaning on occasion.

House committee advances proposal to rework Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion      3/29/2021

The 11th week of the session was an abbreviated one as the General Assembly of the Arkansas House of Representatives took a recess for Spring Break. Before members left the Capitol, the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee advanced a new version of the Medicaid expansion program.

State Representative DeAnn Vaught explained the new bill, titled SB 410. SB 410 establishes the framework for a new program called ARHOME which stands for Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me.

Currently, more than 300,000 Arkansans receive healthcare services under the Arkansas Works program. However, the federal government is moving to end the work requirement, and the current waiver expires at the end of this year.

ARHOME would continue to offer low-income families private insurance, with incentives for taking advantage of career and work opportunities, education and skill development, and health or other activities that will lead to long-term economic independence.

In addition, ARHOME would offer targeted plans for Arkansans living in rural areas, pregnant women and families and another plan focusing on veterans, those who were incarcerated and those once in foster care.

SB410 will now go before the full House for a vote.

If approved, it will still require federal approval from the Biden administration for a waiver of Medicaid rules.

While the General Assembly had previously planned on wrapping up the session by April 9, it now appears it may take a few more weeks to complete the current session.

The Arkansas Legislative Council will meet today to consider a request by the Governor to extend the public health emergency. The House will convene again this afternoon.

You can watch live streams of all House meetings atwww.arkansashouse.org.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/29/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of one yesterday for a current total of five. The weekend’s total drop in COVID-19 active cases lowered that figure below the two-digit mark for the first time since nearly the beginning of the pandemic last spring. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,775. Deaths remained at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases decreased by one to eight. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,217 and deaths at 40.

Active cases in Howard County were unchanged at four. Overall cases remain at 1,637. Deaths in Howard County due to COVID-19 remained at 24.

Polk County is reported three active cases of the virus currently. Total cases were unchanged at 1,958 and deaths at 69.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 69 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That raises the total number of transmissions to slightly over 329,000 cases since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 87 to 1,945 currently. Deaths increased by five yesterday for a total of 5,595.

Sevier County unemployment rate sees relatively sizable uptick in January      3/26/2021

DE QUEEN – Newly released economic data shows Sevier County’s unemployment rate experienced a relatively large increase during the first month of the year.
The unemployment increase follows a significant decrease experienced in December. That decrease followed a trend seen across the state as Arkansas’ economic situation bettered after the initial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Despite January’s increase, Sevier County’s unemployment rate remains below the U.S. average but more than a full percentage point higher than the median in Arkansas.
The new data details Sevier County’s unemployment rate in January – the latest month for which data is available. The unemployment rate increased by 1.3 points, from 4.4 in December 5.7 in January. The overall unemployment in Arkansas for Jaunary was 4.6 percent and 6.2 percent across the nation.
The increase seen in January could be a leveling out of the local unemployment rate after it fell more than a full point in December. Sevier County’s unemployment rate has more or less tacked higher but proportionately to the average rates in Arkansas and the country. The county’s unemployment rate reached a high shortly after the pandemic entered Arkansas but has fallen back to pre-pandemic levels since then.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sevier County currently ranks 47 out of 75 counties in the state for the lowest unemployment – a ranking which has just about stayed the same throughout 2020. With a 5.7 percent unemployment rate and out of a work force of nearly 7,500 in Sevier County – according to a 2018 government estimate – around 430 county residents are currently recorded as unemployed. The county’s highest unemployment rate was recorded nearly a decade ago, in January 2011 with 10.3 percent.
Of course, the rate does not reflect those who are under-employed – that is, they’re not receiving as much work as they would like. The figure does not include people who are currently unemployed but are no longer receiving benefits. The unemployment rate is not a perfect indicator of economic activity in an area but it does show that employment is likely flattening out to pre-pandemic levels among area residents.
Neighboring Little River County’s latest unemployment data shows the county is 49th out of 75 states with an unemployment rate in January of 5.8 percent.
Howard County has edged up on the ranking list from ninth in December to seventh in January. That month’s unemployment rate fell to just 4.1 percent.
Statewide, Benton County reported the lowest unemployment rate of just 3.6 percent. Chicot County continues to report the highest rate in the state with 11.1 percent.
Sevier County Library System announces upcoming activities      3/26/2021
DE QUEEN – Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher is making us aware of a few activities going on across the county’s four libraries.

The De Queen branch reports its “Community Indoor Rock Garden” box is ready. In partnership with Froglevel Studios, the library is offering free rock painting kits for kids to take home, paint and place in the community indoor rock garden. All area children are invited to stop by and have some fun with this project.
The De Queen Library is hosting a “Book Yard Sale.” There are 10 cent books for sale or you can buy a whole bag for $1. The library has some newer regular size paperback books for 50 cents. Tall paperbacks and hardcovers are $1 each. The library offers a good selection of books for all ages in the Dailey Meeting Room, ranging from kids books to Non- fiction as well as Christian Fiction and Western. And for prices that can’t be beat.
The De Queen Library is also reaching out to the community to see if anyone has a working typewriter or word processor they would be wiling to donate. Fisher said the library continues to use a typewriter for book tags as computer generated ones are expensive and bulky.
The De Queen Library will host story time events for area children on March 31, April 7 and April 21. The story time sessions will be hosted on at the library’s Facebook page, located at www.facebook.com/seviercountylibrary. Kelsie and Ms. Mattie will present these exciting stories.
The Horatio Library is reminding its patrons it is again open to the public. Nonetheless, the library continues to offer curbside services for those uncomfortable going inside. The Horatio Library will host its story time events on April 3 and a second story on April 7 on its Facebook page.
The Horatio Library’s hours of operation are Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 12 noon. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give Amy a call at 870-832-6882. Stay safe everyone.
The Lockesburg Library is again sharing plant seeds for those ready to grow something this spring. The seed program is back and better than ever according to Lockesburg Librarian, Ms. Wendy. Stop by the library in April on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and select from themed seed kits. Chose from herbs, veggies, or flowers. First come, first serve, while supplies last. Besides giving away seeds, the library will welcome seeds saved by local gardeners to pass on to other growers. The library has a lot of books about gardening and Mother Earth News magazine to help you with your gardening questions. Call the Lockesburg Library at (870) 289-2233 for more information.
For your convenience the Lockesburg Library’s card catalog can be accessed at: https://elvolveopac.infovisionsoftware.com/lockesburg.
The Gillham Library is doing some spring cleaning and has some great books for sale so come and check out the ongoing book sale. Current features include C.J. Box’s “Big Sky,” “A Matter of Life and Death” by Philip Margolin, Michael Koryta’s “Never Far Away”, and “Open Carry” by new author Marc Cameron. The “News of the World” DVD starring Tom Hanks should be available soon. Librarians Kelsie and Amy will have two story times each month on their Facebook page. The Gillham Library is open Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and again on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Searchers getting creative at Crater of Diamonds State Park      3/26/2021
MURFREESBORO – Spring is here and that surely has many local folks thinking about enjoying one of Arkansas’ great state parks. One of the nearby state parks is a one-of-a-kind destination – that being, of course, the Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro.
Last week Arkansas State Parks including Crater of Diamonds resumed limited in-person interpretive programming for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. Some restrictions remain in place, such as a suspension on renting mining equipment. But the park won’t stop anyone from bringing their own qualifying equipment.
Since the park has suspended mining equipment rentals during the pandemic, most visitors now bring their own tools from home or from one of the local businesses and individuals who rent and sell mining equipment. Buckets, shovels, and screens are the most common tools of the trade, but it’s interesting to see other unique gear people bring to help them find diamonds.
On more than one occasion, visitors have brought large magnifiers on long handles to help them examine the soil more closely without bending over. These simple utensils usually catch the staff’s attention because at first glance they look somewhat like metal detectors (which aren’t allowed in the park). However, it doesn’t take long to see they are actually used to find treasure on top of the ground, not underground.
A couple of weeks ago, park officials spoke with a man who was using a pair of binoculars to scan the surface for diamonds. The most challenging part was trying not to trip while keeping an eye on a sparkly object that was several yards away.
Some visitors get quite elaborate in their efforts to find diamonds. On a few days last month, a group of visitors hauled a huge stack of screens on a wagon to the East Drain of the search area. The screens started large in size on top and graduated to smaller sizes near the bottom. The owners emptied buckets of dirt into the top and poured water over the material to wash it down, removing the soil and separating the gravel by size. They removed the fine gravel from the lower screens and sifted it further in a nearby pool of water.
Whether simple or complex, people have lots of ideas about how to find diamonds at the Crater. Park staff say they’ve enjoyed meeting many of the people who have visited the park this month and look forward to seeing many other interesting diamond-finding gadgets in the future.

After this week’s rainfall, this weekend is likely to be a great time to check out the park and look for a diamond of your own.

There is a daily limit of 1,500 people per day. Tickets are required for entry and are available online or at the Visitor Center.

For more information, visit www.arkansasstateparks.com

Ashdown Scholarship Committee deadline is April 1      3/26/2021
ASHDOWN – The Ashdown High School Scholarship Committee will soon be awarding scholarships to 2021 AHS seniors, as it has since its formation in 1986. 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, the committee awarded 65 scholarships with a total value of over $37,000, according to Ronda Pounds, chairperson of the committee.  This brings the total scholarships to nearly half a million dollars awarded to over 1,100 students over the course of the committee’s 35-year history.
Pounds also stated that 100 percent 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.
This year in order to abide by ADH/ADE guidelines, scholarship presentations are currently scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, May 2. The event will begin at 2 p.m. in the Helen Parker Gym at AHS.  Social distancing and masks will be required.  Pounds said all donors are welcome to attend the presentation and are welcome to participate in presenting the scholarship they are sponsoring.
To be awarded to 2021 AHS seniors, contributions must be received by April 1.  They may be mailed to or dropped off at the Ashdown School District Administration Office at 751 Rankin Street, Ashdown, Arkansas 71822.
ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/26/2021
DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:
Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of three yesterday for a current total of 10. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,775. Deaths remained at 24.
In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases decreased by one to eight. Overall cases increased by four to 1,215. Deaths remained at 40.
Active cases in Howard County were unchanged at three. Overall cases grew by 2 to 1,636. Deaths in Howard County due to COVID-19 increased by one yesterday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. That raises the county’s death toll to 24 since the pandemic began.
Polk County reported one less active case yesterday for a current total of two. Total cases were unchanged at 1,957 and deaths at 69.
Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 334 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That raises the total number of transmissions to slightly 329,511 cases since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 33 to 2,095 currently. Deaths increased by 11 yesterday for a total of 5,571. Hospitalizations increased by nine to 181.

Apparent gasoline shortage in De Queen affecting some local stations      3/25/2021
DE QUEEN – We’re looking into an apparent gasoline shortage which has affected a number of gas stations in the listening area.
We received reports through social media last evening of EZ Mart stations in De Queen, Horatio, Foreman and other nearby communities closing off pumps due to a gasoline supply issue.

Initial unconfirmed reports indicate a potential COVID-19 outbreak among employees or a distribution issue at a gasoline supply facility in Fort Smith is the source of the problem. An employee at one of the affected stations suggested it could be a week or more before the gasoline shortage is remedied at affected stations.
Currently, gas stations affected by the shortage in De Queen include both EZ Marts and Tiger Mart. TJ’s, Plaza 66, Murphy’s (located at Walmart) and the Sevier County Farmer’s Coop are continuing to supply gasoline at this time. The diesel fuel pump at Tiger Mart remains operational.
We’ll provide additional updates as more information is received.

Man with ties to adoption scheme in De Queen, elsewhere receives additional prison sentence in Arizona     3/25/2021
A former Arizona politician convicted of orchestrating an illegal adoption scheme in De Queen and several other locations has been sentenced to additional prison time in Arizona.

According to court filings, Paul Petersen was sentenced this week to five years in prison in Arizona for Medicaid fraud related to the illegal adoption service he ran for over a decade. The sentence will be served following completion of the six-year prison term he received for human trafficking in Arkansas earlier this year.
Petersen, who previously served as the Republican assessor for Maricopa County, is also awaiting sentencing in Utah for a similar conviction.
The charges all relate to an adoption scheme Petersen had orchestrated for years and which burst onto the national scene in 2019. In effect, for at least the past decade Petersen had assisted in smuggling pregnant women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United States so their babies could be adopted for financial gain. Petersen charged couples $35,000 to adopt these children.
Prosecutors described the scheme as a “baby-selling enterprise” and that Petersen had organized over 70 illegal adoptions. These actions violated a compact between the United States and Marshall Islands which bands Marshallese people from traveling to the United States for adoptions unless they have a specific visa. None of the women involved were provided that visa.
Thanks to a multi-state investigation, Petersen’s actions were uncovered and federal charges swiftly filed against him. He was arrested in October of 2019. Nonetheless, the scheme left dozens of victims in its wakes. And many with a connection to De Queen.

De Queen was one of several locations used by Petersen to hide the women as they completed their pregnancies. Witnesses to one of the locations described it as a “baby mill.” Women were confined in terrible housing conditions with their passports confiscated to ensure they did not leave. Leave and communications were restricted as well.
Petersen is currently seeking an appeal of his six-year prison sentence in Arkansas.
He is suggesting his sentence was too severe due additional factors presented during his trial. In particular, Petersen said his sentence was tainted by the trial judge concluding Petersen had abused his status as an adoption lawyer. The sentence Petersen received included two years more than the maximum recommended sentencing guideline.
COVID-19 clinic scheduled in Tollette this weekend     3/25/2021
TOLLETTE – Baptist Health Community Outreach is holding a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic Sunday, March 28, from noon to 5 p.m. at First Church of God Tollette, 1080 Martin Luther King Drive in Tollette for individuals that qualify.
Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine will be administered, so no second, follow-up shot will be needed.
Please bring a photo ID. Supply is limited, and all participants must pre-register by calling (501) 202-1540.
Currently, everyone in Phase 1A, 1B and 1C is eligible for the vaccine. Phase 1C makes the vaccine eligible to all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 with a existing health condition which makes them more vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Phase 1C also focuses on essential workers and people living in congregate settings like correctional facilities and student housing. Those in Phase 1B eligible for the vaccine include all Arkansans aged 65 years or older; teachers in childcare, K-12 and higher education; and frontline essential workers such as postal workers, government employees and anyone employed in food manufacturing. Phase 1-B also includes leaders of Houses of Worship and Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Phase 1A includes first responders, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
State health officials stress that, by taking action and getting the vaccine, you are helping protect your family, friends, coworkers, and fellow Arkansans. The vaccine is validated by the nation’s top medical experts to be safe and effective.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit BaptistHealthCovidVaccine.com.

State and federal health officials are stressing the vaccine will not cost anyone anything. The federal government has already purchased hundreds of millions of doses on behalf of all Americans. Vaccine administration costs will be covered by private insurance or the government for those uninsured or on government plans.

Arvest Bank announces Million Meals Initiative, partnerships include with De Queen Chalice Cupboard    3/25/2021

DE QUEEN – Arvest Bank kicked off its 11th annual Million Meals campaign today and it will continue through May 29. The campaign’s goal is to provide at least one million meals to those in need.

The campaign is particularly needed in Arkansas, which ranks 7th among the most food-insecure states in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Chalice Cupboard will receive monetary donations made in De Queen between April 5 and May 29. De Queen residents can support the Million Meals campaign by making monetary donations at Arvest branches and drive-thrus or by calling (866) 952-9523. Additionally, customers can donate via the Arvest Go mobile app and Arvest Flex Rewards credit cardholders can log in to arvestflexrewards.com to redeem and donate rewards points.

Every dollar raised through Million Meals provides the equivalent of five meals for local, hungry families. While Arvest is unable to accept food donations in branches this year, customers can community members can also donate directly to the bank’s food partners.

Ted Sheet, Arvest Bank community president in De Queen, said the organization is excited to join Chalice Cupboard and the bank’s customers in helping fight hunger in the local community. He stressed that every cent raised locally will be contributed to local families facing food insecurity.

For more information, visit arvest.com/millionmeals.

Arkansas cattle experts warn of drop in bull fertility due to last month’s freezing temps    3/25/2021

Cattle breeding experts with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture are urging cattle producers to test the fertility of their bulls before the spring breeding season.

Charles Looney, professor of cattle improvement for the Division of Agriculture, said the unusual freeze event the state experienced in mid-February may have resulted in infertility in bulls that did not have adequate shelter.

From Feb. 15-16, weather stations across Arkansas recorded record-low temperatures, some of which were well below zero. In De Queen, the mercury dropped to minus five degrees during the once-in-a-generation winter storm.

There are approximately 1 million head of beef cattle in Arkansas, Looney said, with cattle in every county in the state. About 80 percent of Arkansas cattle breeders use a spring breeding season, so they’ll be implementing their breeding program over the next month or two.

In most cases, if the fertility has been affected by a cold-weather event, it’s something the bull can recover from. In most cases, they can recover, but it will take 60 days for that bull to do so, so spring breeding season is going to be right on the line.

Looney said some bulls may never recover from the effects of last month’s cold.

Looney said the most important thing beef cattle producers can do in the intervening period before spring breeding season arrives is to schedule a complete breeding soundness exam with a large animal veterinarian.

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. In Sevier County, you can call (870) 584-3013.

Learn to Burn seminar in Mena next week      3/25/2021

MENA – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host a Learn to Burn session in Mena next Wednesday.

The program is described as an introduction to the safe and effective use of fire as a land management tool. Topics to be discussed include fire ecology, using fire to maintain wildlife habitat, writing a prescribed burn plan, liability and personal protective equipment and tools.

The session will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 31 at the Polk County Fairground commercial building in Mena.

The event is free to attend and lunch will be proved at no additional cost. Those interested must pre-register however at www.learn-to-burn-mena.eventbrite.com.

The Learn to Burn class is hosted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Quail Forever and the Arkansas Forestry Association.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/25/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of three yesterday for a current total of 13. Cumulative cases grew to 2,775. Deaths remained at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases increased by one to nine. Overall cases increased by six to 1,211. Deaths remained at 40.

Active cases in Howard County were unchanged at three. Overall cases grew by 11 to 1,634 while deaths remained at 23.

Polk County reported an additional death due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, raising the total to 69 since the pandemic began. Active cases of the virus in Polk County remained unchanged at three currently. Total cases grew slightly to 1,957.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 231 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That raises the total number of transmissions to slightly over 329,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 135 to 2,128 currently. Deaths increased by 13 yesterday for a total of 5,560.

AGFC asks turkey hunters to help thru survey      3/25/2021

Hunters can help the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission track hunting effort and success throughout turkey season this spring by signing up to be a part of the annual Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey. It’s free to participate and your responses will help shape future wild turkey management in Arkansas.

The spring turkey hunting survey has been in place since 2007 to gather information on hunter activity, gobbling activity, turkey observations and hunting success throughout turkey season. Volunteers record data from each hunt and send the results to be analyzed at the end of the hunting season. Biologists then compile all the data to identify trends in hunter participation and satisfaction and provide a report for all hunters to compare notes.

Historically hunters recorded their information on paper survey forms and mailed the forms in at the conclusion of hunting season. With advances in mobile technology, the AGFC has transitioned to a new system using a smartphone app called Survey123. The new app makes it easier than ever before to record and submit your information at the conclusion of each hunt.

Visit www.agfc.com/turkeysurvey to participate in the Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey or the Wild Turkey and Northern Bobwhite Quail Population Survey. You may also contact Wood at jeremy.wood@agfc.ar.gov or call 800-364-4263 to learn more about these surveys and other ways to help the AGFC keep tabs on Arkansas’s turkeys.

Victim in Texas alleged murder a 2008 DHS graduate      3/24/2021
WYLIE, Texas – A 2008 graduate of De Queen High School has been identified as the murder victim of an apparent domestic violence incident in Texas last week that ended with the suspect’s death.
According to authorities, police in Wylie, Texas, were dispatched to the city’s CVS Pharmacy on March 17 after a vehicle crashed into the building. A spokesperson with the Wylie Police Department said the first officer to arrive found a woman laying in the parking lot who had sustained a serious injury. A man was also on the scene carrying a rifle and, after failing to comply with the officer’s orders to drop the weapon, was shot by the officer. The spokesperson said the officer then attempted to treat the injured woman.
A spokesperson told NBC News the officer shot the armed man as he was deemed a threat to the officer and injured woman.
Both the woman and man were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency personnel.
Earlier this week, authorities identified the victim as 30-year-old Cassie Riddle. Riddle was a 2008 graduate of De Queen High School where she was an award-winning athlete. She leaves behind two children aged eight and 11. She was a student at Texas A&M Commerce and set to graduate this semester with a degree in livestock biology.
The suspect was identified as 36-year-old Shawn Myers. Authorities said Riddle and Myers were in a previous relationship but not at the time of last week’s incident.
The investigation remains underway by the Wylie Police Department and the Texas Rangers as an incident of domestic violence.
Funeral services will be held for Riddle this Firday, March 26 beginning at 2 p.m. at the Mena First Assembly of God Church.
Today is last day of Memorial Seedlings program      3/24/2021
DIERKS – Today is the last day to participate in a memorial tree program offered through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture to honor those lost due to COVID-19.
The Department of Agriculture has donated 10,000 oak tree seedlings to provide to families in memory of loved ones lost due to the virus.
Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said the remembrance is a small way for the state of Arkansas to extended its sympathies to Arkansas families who lost a member during the pandemic.
The seedlings will be available at a number locations through the end of business today. That includes, most locally, at the Forestry Commission’s District Office in Dierks, located at 106 North Main Street. The phone number is (870) 828-0859.
Families are asked to call to arrange a time to pick up the seedlings.  Forestry Division office locations will be taking calls and assisting individuals with seedling pick until 4:30 p.m. today.

Dierks votes to purchase Chromebooks for students, laptops for teachers      3/24/2021
DIERKS – New technology is heading into the hands of Dierks students and staff following decisions made during last week’s meeting of the Dierks School Board.
The board voted to accept a quote for over $79,000 for 340 Google Chromebooks for students in the district. The board also voted to approve an additional $50,000 for 70 laptops to be distributed to teachers who need them. Both purchases were made through funds provided through CARES Act funding.
The board approved several other purchases for the district including two new HVAC units for the district.
In other business, Superintendent Jody Cowart stated the elementary classroom expansion project is near completion and sod is currently being laid.
Board members approved a motion to accept the resignations of Karla Bray, Linda Tomon and Senior High Cheer Coach April Kappus. The board also approved the retirement of Lou Ann Huddleston. Adriana Hogg was unanimously approved as the Senior Cheer Coach for the 2021-2022 school year.
A report from JoAnn Walters Elementary states the district has an enrollment of 264 students with nearly 95 percent of those currently choosing the district’s in-class instruction option. Registration is currently under way for kindergarten students. Families can turn in their enrollment packets on Fridays in April except for testing week. Spring pictures are set for April 6 and class pictures April 7.
Dierks High School will host class officer pictures and club pictures on March 30 with spring pictures scheduled for April 8. Current enrollment is 238. District officials said vape detectors were installed earlier this month to detect the use of electronic cigarettes on the campus. Prom has been scheduled for March 27 from 6-8 p.m. at Off the Beaten Track.
Finally, the district reported it currently has no students or staff out due to contract tracing or due to a positive case of COVID-19.

Southern Bancorp announces $26.1 million offer on DeWitt bank holdings     3/24/2021
Southern Bancorp announced this week it’s intention to purchase several new branches, including one in Lockesburg, for a total of $26.1 million.
The Arkadelphia-based bank group is in the process of purchasing DeWitt First Bankshares Corp. and its subsidiary, Arkansas County Bank.
Stated in a news release issued by Southern Bancorp, Arkansas County Bank includes $188 million in financial and capital assets. Those assets include three branches, the Bank of Lockesburg and two branches in Arkansas County. The Lockesburg chapter alone possess $30.7 million in deposits, around seven percent of the entire deposit market in Sevier County.
Bancorp CEO Darrin Williams stated in a news release issued earlier this year that the bank was, quote, “excited to introduce Arkansas County Bank’s team members, customers and communities to Southern Bancorp’s unique blend of mission-driven products and services aimed at providing everyone in the community with the tools to build wealth.”
Final regulatory and shareholder approval is still need to finalize the acquisition. The deal is expected to close within the second quarter of 2021. Bancorp currently operates 52 locations in Mississippi and Arkansas.
Arkansas County Bank has existed as a financial institution for over 110 years. CEO Warren Jennings, Jr., stated in the news release that he believes Southern Bancorp will continue to operate its three branches with a community-centric approach to banking.
KDQN Brew Crew will be live at Saturday’s Husqvarna Open House      3/24/2021

Sister stations #1 Country 92.1 AND B-99.5 will be broadcasting live at the Open House at Husqvarna in Nashville on Saturday, March 27th from Ten til Noon. Jay and Tyler will be there from the Morning Brew on #1 Country 92.1, and J.P. from the Morning Ride will be broadcasting live on B-99.5.
Try your luck at opening our Treasure Chest containing $100 cash and prize cards for chainsaws, trimmers, and blowers! Husqvarna will also have door prize drawings for some of their great outdoor lawn implements and more! Free refreshments and facility tours.
It’s a community-wide event and EVERYBODY is welcome to see the Husqvarna facility in Nashville. Husqvarna will also be accepting applications to join the Husqvarna Team during this open house!
You can also enjoy a short video detailing Husqvarna’s long and successful 332-year history, and Husqvarna has been operating in Nashville since 1976!”
Must be 16 years of age or older to attend since assembly work will be ongoing during the Open House. No flip flips allowed for footwear.

Haven’t got your third stimulus payment next? Check with IRS      3/24/2021

The IRS started issuing the third round of Economic Impact Payments, but we’ve heard from a few local folks still waiting for theirs. For the most part, no action is needed by most taxpayers. The IRS will issue payments automatically by direct deposit and through the mail as a check or debit card.
Most people will receive the third payment the same way they received the first and second Economic Impact Payments. Because these payments are automatic for most eligible people, there’s no need to contact financial institutions or the IRS.
But for those who haven’t received a stimulus payment yet, the best place to start is the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov. That tool will provide a taxpayer with an update on the status of their third stimulus payment.
In general, most people will get $1,400 for themselves and $1,400 for each qualifying dependent claimed on their tax return. As with the first two Economic Impact Payments, most people will receive their third payment without having to take any action.
But for there is an extra step for those who don’t normally file a tax return due to lower earnings. The third Economic Impact Payment is based on the taxpayer’s latest processed tax return from either 2020 or 2019. Those who don’t normally file taxes however must use the IRS’ Non-Filers tool to receive the stimulus payment.
Those who received the first or second payment but don’t receive a payment by direct deposit will generally receive a check or a prepaid debit card, referred to as an EIP Card. The IRS will not add the third payment to an existing EIP card that people received for the first or second round of stimulus payments.
Under the new law, the IRS can’t apply the third Economic Impact Payment to past-due federal debts or back taxes.
More details about the third round of Economic Impact Payments, as well as the Non-Filers tool and Get My Payment tool, are available on IRS.gov.
ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/24/2021
DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:
Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of five yesterday for a current total of 16. Cumulative cases grew to 2,773. Deaths remained at 24.
In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases dropped by one to eight. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,205. Deaths remained at 40.
Active cases in Howard County decreased by two yesterday to three currently. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,623 while deaths remained at 23.
Polk County is reporting a total of three active COVID-19 cases, a decrease of one from the day before. Overall cases currently number 1,954. Deaths in Polk County due to COVID-19 remain at 68.

Canadian Pacific, KCS announce $29 billion merger      3/23/2021
Canadian Pacific Railway, Ltd. and Kansas City Southern announced this week they’ve entered into a merger agreement. The merger plan has a cash transaction worth $29 billion, including around $3.8 billion of outstanding KCS debt.
The combined company will now be called Canadian Pacific Kansas City. Calgary will be the global headquarters and Kansas City, Missouri, will be designated as the U.S. headquarters, according to a press release on the company’s website.
CP’s proposed acquisition of KCS is the largest industry deal in decades, and would create a U.S.-Mexico-Canada rail network. In fact, the proposed combination would create the first U.S.-Mexico-Canada rail network connecting ports on the U.S. Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific coasts and offering single-line hauls across the continent.
Company officials said the combined operation would include20,000 miles of rail, employing close to 20,000 people and generating total revenue of $8.7 billion.

Motorcycle accident in Polk County claims life of Iowa man      3/23/2021
An Iowa man was killed in a motorcyle accident in Polk County over the weekend.
According to the Arkansas State Police, a state trooper was dispatched to Highway 88 in Polk County on Saturday, March 20 after receiving a report of an accident on the highway. An investigation at the scene of the accident determined the driver of the motorcycle failed to negotiate a right hand curve on the highway, causing him to leave the roadway and strike a guard rail.
The driver, identified at 41-year-old Daniel Mick of Urbandale, IA, was taken to the Mena Regional Hospital. He was pronounced dead later that evening.
Road conditions and weather conditions were reported as dry and clear at the time of the accident.
Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service a historic and vital resource for farmers and ranchers      3/23/2021
DE QUEEN – It’s National Ag Week and all week we’re taking a look at the agricultural industry and the folks who keep the nation fed and supplied. Today we’re taking a look at one organization that prides itself as a vital resource to the agricultural industry and which has helped create America as, by far, the largest exporter of food in the world – the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.
All universities engage in research and teaching, but the nation’s more than 100 land-grant colleges and universities, have a third critical mission—extension. “Extension” means “reaching out,” and—along with teaching and research—land-grant institutions “extend” their resources, solving public needs with college or university resources through non-formal, non-credit programs.
Congress created the extension system nearly a century ago to address exclusively rural, agricultural issues. At that time, more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas, and 30 percent of the workforce was engaged in farming. Extension’s engagement with rural America helped make possible the American agricultural revolution, which dramatically increased farm productivity:
In 1945, it took up to 14 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels of corn on 2 acres of land.
By 1987, it took just under 3 labor-hours to produce that same 100 bushels of corn on just over 1 acre.
In 2002, that same 100 bushels of corn were produced on less than 1 acre.
That increase in productivity has allowed fewer farmers to produce more food.
Fewer than 2 percent of Americans farm for a living today, and only 17 percent of Americans now live in rural areas.
Yet, the extension service still plays an important role in American life—rural, urban, and suburban. With its unprecedented reach—with an office in or near most of the nation’s approximately 3,000 counties—extension agents help farmers grow crops, homeowners plan and maintain their homes, and children learn skills to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Despite the decline in the population and economic importance of rural America, the national Cooperative Extension System remains an important player in American life. It increasingly addresses urban, suburban, in addition to rural issues, and it has responded to information technology changes in America. Extension expertise meets public needs at the local level with approximately 2,900 extension offices nationwide.
The extension service’s first big test came during World War I, when it helped the nation meet its wartime needs by:
Increasing wheat acreage significantly, from an average of 47 million acres annually in 1913 to 74 million in 1919.
Helping the USDA implement its new authority to encourage farm production, marketing, and conserving of perishable products by canning, drying, and preserving.
Helping to address war-related farm labor shortages at harvest time by organizing the Women’s Land Army and the Boys’ Working Reserve.

More generally, extension’s role in WWI helped it expand its reputation as an educational entity to one that also emphasized service for individuals, organizations, and the federal government.

During World War II, the extension service again worked with farmers and their families, along with 4-H club members, to secure the production increases essential to the war effort. Each year for 5 years, total food production increased. In 1944, food production was 38 percent above the 1935-1939 average.

These days, the cooperative extension service in Arkansas provides numerous resources, training programs and information for the benefit of all Arkansans but most importantly farmers. The Cooperative Extension Service employs numerous agents to assist with implementing the latest techniques in modern farming and ranching. The resources are generally free to farmers and designed to help them make the most of their land and operations.

An extension office is located in each county in cooperation with county governments. The community of Arkansas agriculture impacts about 270,000 people whose jobs directly or indirectly depend on agriculture, including the forestry sector.

For more information, visit www.uaex.edu or contact your local cooperative extension service. In Sevier County, call 584-3013, 898-7224 in Little River County and, in Howard County, call 845-7517.

Spring Clean Up Week in De Queen is April 5-9; city announces Adopt-a-Block program      3/23/2021

DE QUEEN – Spring has sprung and that has city leaders in De Queen thinking about the annual municipal Spring clean up week.

De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown discussed the annual clean up week following last night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council. This is a time, Brown said, for all residents of De Queen to come together to help clean up the city.

Spring clean up week will begin April 5 and continue through April 9. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles.

The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. between April 5-9.

New this year, the city is also launching an Adopt-a-Block program. Mayor Brown said this is a way for city residents to give back by ensuring the areas around their homes, neighborhoods and nearby streets are cleaned up and free of trash.

Deadline is April 1 for AHS Scholarship Committee contributions      3/23/2021

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown High School Scholarship Committee will soon be awarding scholarships to 2021 AHS seniors, as it has since its formation in 1986. 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.

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.

This year in order to abide by ADH/ADE guidelines, scholarship presentations are currently scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, May 2. The event will begin at 2 p.m. in the Helen Parker Gym at AHS.  Social distancing and masks will be required.  All donors are welcome to attend the presentation and are welcome to participate in presenting the scholarship they are sponsoring.

To be awarded to 2021 AHS seniors, contributions must be received by April 1.  They may be mailed to or dropped off at the Ashdown School District Administration Office at 751 Rankin Street, Ashdown, Arkansas 71822.

PPP deadline is March 31      3/23/2021

Farmers and businesses have just a few days remaining to apply for assistance through the current Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The deadline to apply is March 31, although there has been discussion in Congress of extending that deadline into May.

Regardless, the U.S. Small Business Administration says the program is based on the availability of funds, so it could pay to apply as early as possible.

PPP is a part of the coronavirus stimulus plan under the 2020 CARES Act and provides forgivable loans up to $10 million.

The agency is reminding farmers they are also eligible for PPP loans. The program is aimed to help not just corporations, such as farm corporations, but also small producers such as sole proprietors, self employed and independent contractors. There’s no minimum loan size. The SBA reports some loans have been as small as $500 and as large as the maximum loan of $10 million.

The funds can also be used for more than just payroll. They can be a source of income replacement and use the proceeds for rent expenses, such as land, rent payments that are currently due, utility payments, certain costs and expenses with their suppliers, and even certain interest payments on loans such as land loans and equipment loans.

For more information, and to view the application process, visit www.sba.gov

Rep. Vaught provides update on state legislative activities      3/23/2021

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught is providing another update on this week’s activities and legislation in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

The House voted in favor of the following bills on Monday:

HB1678 allows the State Board of Education to issue a teaching license to a university professor or an assistant professor.

HB1313 addresses damage, destruction, or vandalism to buildings and objects on the State Capitol Grounds and at the Governor’s Mansion. It states damage to public buildings or objects of respect is a Class A misdemeanor if the damage is under $500. It becomes a Class D felony if the value of the damage exceeds $500.

HB1505 makes leaving the scene of an accident with injuries a Class D felony. If there are serious physical injuries or death of a person, the offender would be charged with a Class B felony.

SB339 states restaurants holding a valid alcoholic beverage permit may sell alcoholic beverages in a sealed container to be consumed off-premises. This is currently allowed under an executive order due to the health emergency. SB339 would allow the practice to continue after the emergency.

SB341 prohibits collective bargaining by public employees. The bill states public employees do not include law enforcement officers, firefighters, or public transit system employees.

SB354 states that interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports that are sponsored by a school shall be expressly designated as one of the following based on biological sex:

(1) “Male”, “men’s”, or “boys”

or (2) “Female”, “women’s”, or “girls”

It also states a student who is deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers harm as a result of a violation of this law can seek injunctive relief and monetary damages.

The House will reconvene today at 1 pm.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/23/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of four yesterday for a current total of 21. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,772. Deaths remained at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases dropped by one to nine. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,205. Deaths remained at 40.

Active cases in Howard County were unchanged yesterday at five. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,620 while deaths remained at 23.

Polk County is reporting a total of four active COVID-19 cases, a decrease of two. Overall cases currently number 1,953. Deaths in Polk County due to COVID-19 remain at 68.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 52 new cases of the virus on Sunday – the lowest one-day increase and the first to fall below the three-digit mark since nearly the beginning of the pandemic. Active cases decreased by 246, leaving 2,332 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by five over the 24-hour period for a total of 5,544 deaths due to COVID-19 in Arkansas since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations decreased by eight over the same period to leave 184 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Over 500 come out for mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic in De Queen      3/21/2021
DE QUEEN – Organizers with Saturday’s mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic say over 500 people came out to get their shot during the all-day event.

In all, 525 people stopped by the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy to receive the vaccine. Wait times were generally short with several stations set up to keep the vaccination process quick and efficient.
Those who stopped by were provided the Pfizer vaccine at no cost. This is a two-dose vaccine and the pharmacy will host a second clinic in three weeks to provide the second dose. Pfizer’s vaccine provides a 95 percent immunity rate following the second dose.
Chester Barber, owner of De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy, said he was thankful to all those who came out as well as De Queen city officials, police officers and first responders for their help in making the mass immunization clinic happen.
If you’re eligible to receive the vaccine, and were not able to attend Saturday’s clinic, the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy is continuing to accept appointments for the vaccine.
Currently everyone in Phase 1C, 1B and 1A are now eligible for the vaccine. Phase 1C makes the vaccine eligible to all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 with a existing health condition which makes them more vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Phase 1C also focuses on essential workers and people living in congregate settings. State health officials estimate last week’s opening of Phase 1C made the vaccine eligible to an additional one million Arkansans.
For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov. The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy can be contacted through its Facebook page or by calling (870) 642-2400.
State and federal health officials are stressing the vaccine will not cost anyone anything. The federal government has already purchased hundreds of millions of doses on behalf of all Americans. Vaccine administration costs will be covered by private insurance or the government for those uninsured or on government plans.
March 21-27 is National Ag Week, a time to celebrate industry contributions      3/21/2021
DE QUEEN – It’s National Agriculture Week, a time to highlight the critical role served by agriculture producers across the country. This year, National Agriculture Week is celebrated March 21 through March 27.
The purpose of National Ag Week is to recognize the significant contributions made by ag producers, associations, corporations, universities, and government agencies affiliated with the industry. Those contributions include how food and fiber products are produced, maintaining a strong economy, and the importance of safe, abundant, and affordable products. The week-long celebration is organized each year by the Agriculture Council of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.
In Sevier County alone, agriculture accounts for over 75 percent of the local economy – from the county’s largest employer, Pilgrim’s, to the growers, cattle ranchers and supply stores that keep them going.
Here at KDQN we’re going to take this week to highlight that contribution and the importance of agriculture in keeping America fed. This week we’ll recognize both the local and national impact of agriculture and speak to some of those who play a vital role in the industry.
We also want to share a few facts in relation to agriculture and this week’s celebration of the industry.
– According to most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics, there are 386,531 men and nearly 52,000 women working as farmers and ranchers.
– A farmer today grows twice as much food as his parents did – using less land, energy, water, and fewer emissions.
– Today, the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a farmer fed just 26 people.
– To keep up with population growth more food will have to be produced in the next 50 years as the past 10,000 years combined.
– U.S. farmers produce about 40 percent of the world’s corn, using only 20 percent of the total area harvested in the world.
– According to the USDA, one acre of corn removes about 8 tons of carbon dioxide from the air in a growing season. At 180 bushels per acre, corn produces enough oxygen to supply a year’s needs for 131 people.
Memorial Seedlings program extends through this Wednesday      3/21/2021
DIERKS – The State of Arkansas through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture has donated 10,000 oak tree seedlings to families to honor those lost due to COVID-19.
Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said the remembrance is a small way for the state of Arkansas to extended its sympathies to Arkansas families who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19.
The seedlings will be available at a number locations through this Wednesday, March 24. That includes, most locally, at the Forestry Commission’s District Office in Dierks, located at 106 North Main Street. The phone number is (870) 828-0859.
Families are asked to call to arrange a time to pick up the seedlings.  Forestry Division office locations will be taking calls and assisting individuals with seedling pick up Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Information on the Memorial Seedlings donation is available at https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-resource-information/memorial-seedlings-available-to-honor-the-memory-of-loved-ones-lost-due-to-covid-19/.
State of Arkansas extends tax filing deadline to May 17      3/21/2021

Arkansas is moving its state tax deadline back by a month to match the new federal deadline

This should help Arkansans who are dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Asa Hutchinson wrote in a press release.

According to the media release, the governor signed an executive order extending the deadline for filing a tax return or payment until May 17, 2021.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/21/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of five yesterday for a current total of 25. Cumulative cases remained at 2,772. Due to new reporting data from the Arkansas Department of Health, the total number of deaths in Sevier County due to COVID-19 was adjusted back by one to 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases dropped by one to 10. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,205. Deaths remained at 40.

Active cases in Howard County increased by just one on Sunday for a total of five. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,619 while deaths remained at 23.

Polk County is reporting a total of six active COVID-19 cases, a decrease of three. Overall cases currently number 1,952. Deaths in Polk County due to COVID-19 remain at 68.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 108 new cases of the virus on Sunday – the lowest one-day figure reported since nearly the beginning of the pandemic. Active cases decreased by 98, leaving 2,578 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by six over the 24-hour period for a total of 5,539 deaths due to COVID-19 in Arkansas since the pandemic began.
Boil Water Order lifted for City of Horatio    1:30 pm 03/19/2020

Mayor Rich Dorsey informed KDQN that the Boil Water Order that was issued for the City of Horatio on Wednesday (3/17) due to a water main break has now been lifted.
Water samples were cleared for human consumption by the Arkansas Dept of Health.
Update: De Queen Health & Wellness Pharmacy to host mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic tomorrow       3/19/2021
DE QUEEN – There are a few updates in relation to the mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic scheduled for this weekend in De Queen.
The clinic has been set by the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy for this Saturday, March 20. Chester Barber, owner of the De Queen-based pharmacy, said he expects to receive around 2,000 vaccines for this Saturday’s clinic.
The doses will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis to those currently eligible to receive the vaccine.
The vaccination clinic will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and continue until the last vaccine is given. The event will be held at the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy located at 1357 W. Collin Raye Drive.
Barber said additional parking will be available at the nearby De Queen Church of Christ. He is asking anyone who doesn’t mind the quick walk to park at the church to help ease traffic congestion at the pharmacy. Police and other De Queen first responders will be on site to help with the flow of traffic. A shuttle service will also be provided for those who are mobility impaired and who park at the De Queen Church of Christ.
Barber said he is extremely grateful for the support given to the event by De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown, the De Queen Police Department and local first responders. He is also recognizing the Arkansas Department of Health’s efforts in providing the substantial vaccine supply for Sevier County residents.
Barber said that, while anyone eligible to receive the vaccine is welcome to come by this Saturday’s clinic, the event is being specifically aimed at the area’s Latino community. He said the rate of COVID-19 vaccines given to those in the Latino community in Arkansas have been below those of other groups. Nonetheless, he stressed all those eligible to receive the vaccine are invited to receive one at the clinic.
Following Tuesday’s announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, everyone in Phase 1C, 1B and 1A are now eligible for the vaccine. Phase 1C makes the vaccine eligible to all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 with a existing health condition which makes them more vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Phase 1C also focuses on essential workers and people living in congregate settings like correctional facilities and student housing. Those in Phase 1B eligible for the vaccine include all Arkansans aged 65 years or older; teachers in childcare, K-12 and higher education; amd frontline essential workers such as postal workers, government employees and anyone employed in food manufacturing. Phase 1-B also includes leaders of Houses of Worship and Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Phase 1A includes first responders, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov. The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy can be contacted through its Facebook page or by calling (870) 642-2400.
State and federal health officials are stressing the vaccine will not cost anyone anything. The federal government has already purchased hundreds of millions of doses on behalf of all Americans. Vaccine administration costs will be covered by private insurance or the government for those uninsured or on government plans.

Leopards archery team takes 10th place at State Championship       3/19/2021

The De Queen Leopards had a very successful 2021 archery season. The Leopards won the Regional Championship with a score of 3125 with Acorn being the runner up with 3035. The Leopards qualified for state and finished 10th with a score of 3173.
Lexi Hall was the top shooter throughout the year with a high score of 288. Lexi was also 4th in the girls division and earned a $1,000 scholarship. Jafet Sotelo was close behind with a 284.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Leopards had a very successful 2021 archery season. The Leopards won the Regional Championship with a score of 3125 with Acorn being the runner up with 3035.
The Leopards qualified for state and finished 10th with a score of 3173.
The top 10 finish is the second year in a row for the Leopards and with every school  in Arkansas being in one division that is a great accomplishment said Coach Dennis Chaney.
Lexi Hall was the top shooter throughout the year with a high score of 288. Lexi was also 4th in the girls division and earned a $1,000 scholarship. Jafet Sotelo was close behind with a 284. Manuel Soto 275, Lynsi Smith 267, Damian Mendez 267, JD Brinkley 265, Alex Victoria 262 Max Pinkerton 260, Fatima James 255, Brittany Hernandez 251, Jocelyn Smallwood 251, and Ben Ramirez were the top twelve archers which determines the team score.
The De Queen Cubs were the Regional Runner Up this year with a score of 2777 just behind Acorn with a score of 2807. The Cubs qualified for state and finished 30 overall.
Ulyces Coto was the top archer for the Cubs with a score of 272. John Moe 250, Caitlyn Carter 242, Altin KIght 233, Gabriela Aguilar 233, Jeremiah Coto 232, Katherine Peppers 223, Presley Parson 221, Trystan Mcmurray 216, Aric Pinkerton 215, Kyanna Angeles 208, and Gwen Bradshaw 207 were the top twelve archers.
Rep. Vaught provides update on Thursday’s activities in Arkansas House of Representatives       3/19/2021

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught has provided another update regarding activities in the Arkansas House of Representatives this week.

On Thursday, the House passed a bill requiring students entering the ninth grade class of 2022-2023 to earn one credit in a computer science course before the student graduates. SB107 states that beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, a public school district shall employ a computer science teacher at each high school.
The House passed more than 40 bills Thursday afternoon, including:
HB1562, which amends the law concerning autonomous vehicles. It establishes parameters with the Arkansas Department of Transportation for operating autonomous vehicles.
HB1703 requires casinos to report and withhold taxes on gambling winnings.
HB1637 allows the General Assembly to review Presidential Executive Orders. It also states that standing committees of the General Assembly meeting jointly may request the Attorney General to review the presidential executive order and prepare an opinion.
SB465 extends the current special privilege tax on medical marijuana to July 1, 2023. The tax is currently set to expire on July 1, 2021. This tax helps to fund the UAMS National Cancer Designation Trust Fund.
The House will convene on Monday at 1 pm.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       3/19/2021
DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:
Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net increase of two yesterday for a current total of 35. Cumulative cases increased slightly to 2,771 while deaths remained at 25.
In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases were unchanged at 12. Overall cases grew to 1,206. Deaths remained at 40.
Active cases in Howard County decreased by two on Thursday for a total of six. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,618 while deaths remained at 23.
Polk County reported no change in its active caseload, which remains at eight. Overall cases currently number 1,945. Deaths in Polk County due to COVID-19 remain at 68.
Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported 264 new cases of the virus on Thursday. Active cases decreased by 74, leaving 2,734 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths also increased eight over the 24-hour period for a total of 5,515 deaths due to COVID-19 in Arkansas since the pandemic began.

Update: De Queen Health & Wellness Pharmacy to host mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic March 20       3/18/2021

DE QUEEN – There are a few updates in relation to the mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic scheduled for this weekend in De Queen.
The clinic has been set by the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy for this Saturday, March 20. Chester Barber, owner of the De Queen-based pharmacy, said he expects to receive around 2,000 vaccines for this Saturday’s clinic.
The doses will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis to those currently eligible to receive the vaccine.
The vaccination clinic will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and continue until the last vaccine is given. The event will be held at the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy located at 1357 W. Collin Raye Drive.
Barber said additional parking will be available at the nearby De Queen Church of Christ. He is asking anyone who doesn’t mind the quick walk to park at the church to help ease traffic congestion at the pharmacy. Police and other De Queen first responders will be on site to help with the flow of traffic. A shuttle service will also be provided for those who are mobility impaired and who park at the De Queen Church of Christ.
Barber said he is extremely grateful for the support given to the event by De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown, the De Queen Police Department and local first responders. He is also recognizing the Arkansas Department of Health’s efforts in providing the substantial vaccine supply for Sevier County residents.
Barber said that, while anyone eligible to receive the vaccine is welcome to come by this Saturday’s clinic, the event is being specifically aimed at the area’s Latino community. He said the rate of COVID-19 vaccines given to those in the Latino community in Arkansas have been below those of other groups. Nonetheless, he stressed all those eligible to receive the vaccine are invited to receive one at the clinic.
Following Tuesday’s announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, everyone in Phase 1C, 1B and 1A are now eligible for the vaccine. Phase 1C makes the vaccine eligible to all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 with a existing health condition which makes them more vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Phase 1C also focuses on essential workers and people living in congregate settings like correctional facilities and student housing. Those in Phase 1B eligible for the vaccine include all Arkansans aged 65 years or older; teachers in childcare, K-12 and higher education; amd frontline essential workers such as postal workers, government employees and anyone employed in food manufacturing. Phase 1-B also includes leaders of Houses of Worship and Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Phase 1A includes first responders, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov. The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy can be contacted through its Facebook page or by calling (870) 642-2400.
State and federal health officials are stressing the vaccine will not cost anyone anything. The federal government has already purchased hundreds of millions of doses on behalf of all Americans. Vaccine administration costs will be covered by private insurance or the government for those uninsured or on government plans.

Horatio remains under Boil Order Alert, Horatio School District transitions to virtual learning for the remainder of the week       3/18/2021
HORATIO – Customers of the City of Horatio’s water system are advised a Boil Order Alert remains in effect due to a water main break yesterday morning. The Boil Order Alert will remain in effect until samples are cleared with the Arkansas Dept of Health.
Under the boil order, all affected customers are advised that the water may be unsafe for human consumption and all water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled for at least one minute before use.
In related news, the Horatio School District announced yesterday it would close its campuses today and Friday due to the ongoing water system issue. The district will transition to virtual learning only for the remainder of the week. In-person classes are scheduled to resume following next week’s Spring Break holiday. Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said he was grateful to De Queen Walmart and the Dollar General store in Horatio for supply students and staff with bottled water during yesterday’s water shortage and Boil Order Alert.
The following is Vanderpool’s full statement:

Horatio School District,
We will dismiss school today on Wednesday, March 17th beginning at 1:00 pm.
This is due to water problems in the city.
We will pivot to virtual learning for Thursday and Friday this week. Arrangements are being made to send iPads home with students for learning on Thursday and Friday.
We will resume classes as scheduled after Spring Break.
In the early morning hours on Wednesday, a water main broke in the city. Repairs were made and water pressure was to be restored in time for school.
This process has taken much longer than we originally expected. Currently, the schools and some parts of the city are still without water or experiencing very low water pressure.
There is also a boiling order standing until further notice.
I apologize for any inconveniences this incident may have caused for our students, staff, and parents/guardians.
NOTE: we would like to offer a sincere “Thank You” to DeQueen Walmart and Horatio Dollar General for donating bottled water for our students and staff.
Old Washington State Park to reopen tomorrow     03/08/2021
OLD WASHINGTON – It has been right at one year since Covid-19 cases first began turning up in southwest Arkansas, which led to closures or restrictions on just about everything.

State parks officials at Old Washington Historic State Park however have announced their facilities will be re-opening for tours, as of Friday, March 19. The park will also resume bookings for special events or nightly stays at the Jail Bed and Breakfast.
Williams Tavern Restaurant and the park’s visitor information center will be closed on Mondays.
The reopening is not soon enough to for park officials to reschedule this year’s Jonquil Festival. The park announced in January it would again not hold this annual and always popular Southwest Arkansas event.

Severe weather avoided yesterday, but spring is the time of year for thunderstorms and worse    03/18/2021
After a week of welcome signs of spring, Wednesday brought a reminder of another seasonal side effect: spring storm season.

Fortunately, the listening area was spared any substantial severe weather yesterday and, across the state, there was only one report of a possible tornado. But we all know that the possibility of severe thunderstorms – along with hail, lightening and tornados – are all too possible here. That being said, it’s never too early to brush up on a few safety tips for the inevitable storms that each spring season brings.
When it comes to severe flooding and thunderstorms, weather officials have two immediate recommendations they hope everyone will keep in mind: turn around, don’t drown, and if thunder roars, go indoors.
It’s also important for people to know the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch:
A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible.
A tornado WARNING means a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon. Go to a safe place immediately.
If you hear there is a tornado warning, take shelter immediately in the safest area of your home.
If a Severe Thunderstorm Warning or Tornado Warning is issued for your area, do not hesitate to find a place of safety. If a safe room is not available, the next best location is the lowest floor of a permanant structure in an interior room away from windows. Put as many walls between you and the outdoors as you can.
Make sure that you have a source to receive the latest information, such as us here at KDQN. KDQN has been the official reporting station for the National Weather Service in De Queen since 1980. Other sources of warning information can include telephone notification services to which people subscribe, pagers and cell phones.
Arkansans can also give back by volunteering, making a donation to the Red Cross, or donating blood. Should a need for emergency shelter become necessary, those impacted can call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
Greeson Lake sees considerable improvements through habitat projects    03/18/2021
GREESON LAKE – Last week, 21 biologists and staff from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission worked with staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Greeson Project Office and Daisy State Park to cut, drag and sink more than 1,000 trees in 101 locations at nearby Lake Greeson. The trees will serve as habitat for crappie, bass and other sport fish and will offer anglers excellent locations to target on the aging reservoir.
Greeson has seen regular habitat improvements since about 2007 when regional biologists worked with local contractors to build fish attractors made of river cane, commonly called “crappie condos” or “bamboo buckets.” According to Colton Dennis, AGFC fisheries habitat biologist, this project was much larger and should see longer-lasting results.
Most trees used in this project were sweetgum, water oak and eastern redcedar. Crews of workers from the AGFC and Corps cut trees, then bundled, dragged and deployed them around the lake using habitat barges.
Daisy State Park cut around 350 trees, mostly cedars, from their campgrounds that needed to be removed and had them ready for biologists to drag into the lake.
The attractors were placed at many of the old “crappie condo” locations, but habitat crews also created a few new sites in areas that would be most beneficial to fish and anglers.
The addition of woody complex cover offers many species of baitfish shelter as well as offering game fish ambush points to feed. Just as the game fish are attracted to the concentrated bait, anglers will be attracted to the concentrations of game fish the habitat provides. The coordinates for all 101 habitat sites will be listed soon on the AGFC’s interactive map.
That map is available at www.agfc.com/en/resources/maps.
AGFC implementing new regulations for 2021 Turkey season    03/18/2021

With one month until the opening day of Arkansas’s turkey season, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is finishing up printing of the 2021 Arkansas Turkey Hunting Guidebook, which contains all regulations for this year’s hunt. The guidebooks will be distributed in the next week, but for those wanting a copy now, a digital download is available at www.agfc.com.

Arkansas turkey hunters will see some major changes in their season this April, all focused to help recover the state’s eastern wild turkey population, which has seen some concerning declines during the last decade.
Jeremy Wood, AGFC wild turkey program coordinator, says the changes are an effort to balance the needs of the turkey population with the desires of hunters.

One of the most visible changes is the revamping of the state’s private land turkey hunting zones beginning in the 2021 season. Eighteen turkey zones have been condensed to two, and all zone boundaries will be based on county lines.

The season structures for the zones are similar to last year, with Zone 1 being a nine-day season with a one-bird bag limit and Zone 2 being a 21-day season with a two-bird bag limit. Under this new arrangement, Sevier, Howard, Polk and Hempstead counties are all included under Zone 2. Little River and Miller Counties are now included in Zone 1.

AGFC officials also stress that public land hunters remember that each wildlife management area and national wildlife refuge is its own zone with separate regs and zone numbers.

This year’s season opener is one of the latest opening days for Arkansas’s turkey season in recent history — April 19. This coincides with the long-term average peak egg-laying date in Arkansas. The delay is an effort to let more reproduction take place before hunters begin to remove mature gobblers from the landscape.

Another new regulation also will distribute some of the hunting success among the growing number of hunters taking up turkey hunting. Much of the state still has a two-turkey seasonal limit, but all hunters will only be able to take one turkey during the first seven days of regular turkey season, regardless of zone.

There are a few other regulations new to this year’s season and all can be viewed by checking out the digital and downloadable version of the 2021 Arkansas Turkey Hunting Guidebook at www.agfc.com.

Okay Landing Recreation Area to reopen Friday    03/18/2021

ASHDOWN – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office has announced plans to reopen the Okay Landing Recreation Area at 8 a.m. this Friday, March 19.

While repairs to Okay Levee will continue, motorists are asked to exercise caution and adhere to posted signage that will be in place due to additional truck traffic present at the recreation area.

Officials at the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office said they regret any inconvenience this may cause and ask for the public’s cooperation until the work is complete. Motorist should plan for additional travel time and remain vigilant of additional traffic in the area.

For further information please call the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office at 870-898-3343.

Recreation information can be found on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Millwood Lake website or on its Facebook at www.facebook.com/littlerockusace.

Horatio municipal water system under Boil Order Alert       3/17/2021
HORATIO – Customers of the City of Horatio’s water system are advised a Boil Order Alert is now in effect due to a water main break. Mayor Rich Dorsey said water pressure is increasing but will take several hours to return to normal levels. The Boil Order Alert will remain in effect until samples are cleared with the Arkansas Dept of Health.
Under the boil order, all affected customers are advised that the water may be unsafe for human consumption and all water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled for at least one minute before use.
State opens COVID-19 vaccine rollout to Phase 1C       3/17/2021
An increasing number of Arkansans are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination following an announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson Tuesday afternoon.

During his weekly statewide COVID-19 Taskforce update, Hutchinson said Arkansas is ready to launch Phase 1C of the state’s vaccine rollout plan. This phase includes all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 who possess health conditions which put them at increased risk to COVID-19. Phase 1C also opens up vaccinations for essential workers in the state, including those in energy, finance, food service, IT and media.
Other essential workers now eligible for the vaccine are those engaged in transportation and logistics as well as the legal, public health and housing fields. Finally, Arkansans residing in high-risk settings due to the proximity to other people are also able to now get the vaccine. This includes inmates of correctional facilities in addition to residents of student housing and group homes.
Hutchinson said the early-than-expected rollout of Phase 1C was made possible because of the growing number of vaccines reaching Arkansas.

Hutchinson did warn, however, that Phase 1C will likely stimulate considerable demand for the vaccine in the coming days and weeks. He said Arkansans may need to remain patient as supply of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines continue to increase to meet the additional demand.

So far, the state has received nearly 1.5 million vaccines since December. Of those around 864,000 have been given. Nearly 304,000 Arkansans have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and are now fully immunized. That equals around 10 percent of the population.
Statewide, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 396 new cases of the virus on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to more than 327,000 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by 12 over the 24-hour period for a total of 5,493. Active cases saw a net increase of 12 for a current total of 2,875 confirmed and probable active cases currently in Arkansas. Hospitalizations increased by seven to leave 257 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.
City of De Queen announces Spring Clean Up Week       3/17/2021
DE QUEEN – Spring begins this Saturday and that has city leaders in De Queen thinking about the annual municipal Spring clean up week.
De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown discussed the annual clean up week following last night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council. This is a time, Brown said, for all residents of De Queen to come together to help clean up the city.
Spring clean up week will begin April 5 and continue through April 9. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles.
The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. between April 5-9.
New this year, the city is also launching an Adopt-a-Block program. Mayor Brown said this is a way for city residents to give back by ensuring the areas around their homes, neighborhoods and nearby streets are cleaned up and free of trash.
The De Queen City Council addressed several other relatively brief items during Tuesday night’s meeting. Councilors approved a resolution to reconcile the 2020 budget, a routine financial matter performed each fiscal year.
The council then approved the purchase of a $42,000 clarifier pump for the city’s municipal water treatment facility to replace a worn out unit.
The council then voted to adopt an updated ordinance regarding sick leave compensation for city employees.
Finally, Mayor Brown gave a brief update on the planned splash pad for the Herman Dierks Park. He said plans for the splash pad have been submitted to the Arkansas Department of Health for review. If approved, the city will begin seeking bids for construction of the project.
The splash pad was made possible through a $480,000 donation from Pilgrim’s. A splash pad is a large water-themed public park attraction usually only seen in much bigger communities. They are praised in other cities for the cool space they provide without the need for a lifeguard because there’s little to no standing water. Splash pads are also known for drawing in residents far and wide during the warmer months.
De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said this latest community project by Pilgrim’s goes “above and beyond their ongoing support of the community.”
Combined with $95,000 in new equipment slated for Herman Dierks Park this year, the s