Local News Archive

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 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 month 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.
Community organizers schedule clean up day in De Queen in April      3/17/2021
DE QUEEN – Local volunteer organizers are preparing to host a community clean up in De Queen next month.

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. A time has not yet been selected for the event to begin but will be determined at a later date.

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.

Millwood Lake’s Okay Landing and Recreation Area to reopen Friday      3/17/2021

MILLWOOD LAKE – 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.

AHS Scholarship Committee plans reception for May 2      3/17/2021

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      3/17/2021

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 increase of two yesterday for a current total of 34. Cumulative cases increased slightly to 2,763 while deaths remained at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases were unchanged at 15. Overall cases grew by two to 1,205. Deaths remained at 40.

Active cases in Howard County decreased by one on Tuesday for a total of 10. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,617 while deaths remained at 23.

Polk County reported four fewer active cases Tuesday, dropping the current total to 11. Overall cases currently number 1,923. Deaths in Polk County due to COVID-19 remain at 68.

The Oklahoma Department of Health is reporting a total of 180 active cases currently in McCurtain County, a decrease of three from Monday. Total cases were unchanged 3,860. Deaths increased by one over the past 24 hours for a total of 70 since the pandemic began.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported 396 new cases of the virus on Tuesday. Active cases increased by just 12, leaving 2,875 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths also increased by 12 over the 24-hour period for a total of 5,493 deaths due to COVID-19 in Arkansas since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations increased by seven to leave 257 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

De Queen Health & Wellness Pharmacy to host mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic March 20       3/16/2021
DE QUEEN – The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy has announced it will hold a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic this Saturday, March 20.
Chester Barber, owner of the De Queen-based pharmacy, said he expects to receive between 1,200 and 1,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for this weekend’s clinic.
The doses will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis to those currently eligible to receive the vaccine. The clinic will begin at 8 a.m. and continue until the last vaccine is given. The vaccines will be given at the pharmacy, located at 1357 W. Collin Raye Drive.

Everyone in phase 1-B is currently able to get his or her vaccine. This group includes all Arkansans aged 65 years or older; teachers in childcare, K-12 and higher education; frontline essential workers including food and agricultural workers, first responders, grocery store workers, U.S. Postal Service employees, essential government workers and manufacturing workers. Phase 1-B also includes leaders of Houses of Worship and Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
This expansion of Phase 1-B makes the vaccine available to more than 180,000 additional Arkansans.
Last week the Arkansas Department of Health announced the creation of a statewide call center to assist Arkansans in setting a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. These appointments would be made for vaccine clinics organized through the Arkansas Department of Health and its local health units. Workers at the call center will not be able to book appointments for the shot at a community pharmacy but will help Arkansans begin that process.
The call center can be reached at 1-800-985-6030. The hotline is available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Translation services will be available.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said an additional 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines will be made available in Arkansas this week. He and public health officials hope to begin Phase 1-C at the end of March or early April.
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.
Arizona man convicted of running illegal adoption scheme in De Queen seeks appeal       3/16/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
A former Arizona politician convicted of orchestrating an illegal adoption scheme in De Queen and several other locations is seeking to have his six-year prison sentence overturned.
According to court filings, Paul Petersen 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.
Petersen, who previously served as the Republican assessor for Maricopa County, was sentenced in Arkansas last month to six-years in prison on human trafficking charges. He is also awaiting sentencing in April for related charges in Utah and Arizona.
The charges all relate to an adoption scheme Petersen had orchestrated for years and which burst into 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. In compensation the women were told they would receive $10,000.
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 women 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,” with numerous pregnant women sleeping on mattresses on the floor. As many as 10 pregnant women were kept in a home in De Queen at any given time.
Sevier County Airport to receive $9,000 thru federal grant       3/16/2021
DE QUEEN – Sevier County’s airport is set to receive funding through a federal grant for increased sanitation to combat the spread of pathogens like COVID-19 at the facility.
Arkansas’ congressional delegation made the announcement Monday afternoon. In all, Arkansas received over $1.4 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation for airports and airfields in Arkansas to off-set costs and maintain jobs as a result of COVID-19. The grants are also designed to help these facilities implement additional measures to prevent transmissions of viruses or diseases.
The J. Lynn Helms Airport located just west of De Queen will receive $9,000 for this latter purpose. Mena’s Intermountain Municipal Airport is expected to receive $13,000 through the federal grant for similar purposes.
The funds are being provided through the Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act which passed in December of last year.
Track stimulus payments through IRS       3/16/2021
The third round of stimulus checks began flowing into Arkansans’ bank accounts over the weekend — but for those still awaiting its arrival, there’s a quick way to track the status.
Like the previous two cash payments, you can check the status of the payment using the IRS’s Get My Payment tool, which went live on Saturday. The first payments will go to Americans with direct deposit set up, the IRS said. After that, the agency will mail paper checks and pre-paid debit cards to anyone who qualifies for the money.
The cash payments included in the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that President Biden signed into law last week are the largest yet, with some Americans eligible to receive up to $1,400. But like the previous rounds of checks — worth $1,200 and $600 — some people will be excluded from getting the money.
Under the legislation, individuals with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less, and couples with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less, are eligible to receive a one-time payment of $1,400.
The Get My Payment tool is available here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

Rep. Vaught provides update on Arkansas House of Representatives       3/16/2021

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught has provided an update detailing the start of the week for the Arkansas House of Representatives.

House members began the 10th week of the 2021 Regular Session on Monday.

The House passed more than 30 bills Monday afternoon, including:

HB1470, which prohibits a juvenile who has been placed in a juvenile detention facility from being placed in solitary confinement if the juvenile is pregnant, has had a baby in the previous 30 days, is breastfeeding, or suffering from postpartum depression.

It also prohibits adult inmates from restrictive housing for the same reasons.

SB170 prohibits unlawful doxxing of a minor on social media. Doxxing is defined as publishing private or identifying information about a particular person on social media with a malicious purpose.

HB1589 prohibits taxpayer resource transactions for abortions.

HB1162 amends the law concerning beneficiary deeds. It helps to create a pathway for Arkansans to protect their home if facing long-term care.

SB289 states that a medical practitioner, healthcare institution, or healthcare payer has the right not to participate in a healthcare service that violates his, her or its conscience. “Conscience” is defined in the bill as religious, moral, ethical beliefs or principles.

SB301 would require state agencies that fined a business during the public health emergency for a failure to comply with a rule, order, or directive to mitigate or prevent the spread of COVID-19 to return the fines to the businesses.

House Bill 1487 gives businesses and their employees immunity from lawsuits regarding exposure to COVID-19. The bill includes exceptions for willful, reckless, or intentional misconduct resulting in injury or damages and for Workers’ compensation benefits.

SB225 amends the additional fees required to register a hybrid vehicle. If enacted, 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

The House will convene on Tuesday at 1 pm.

De Queen City Council to meet this evening      3/16/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council is set to meet tonight to discuss a relatively brief agenda. Items up for discussion include a resolution to reconcile the city’s 2020 budget as well as a vote on purchasing a needed piece of equipment for the municipal water treatment plant. Finally, the council will discuss an ordinance relating to the city’s personnel manual. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at De Queen City Hall and is open to the public.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       3/16/2021

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 fell by one yesterday to 32. Cumulative cases increased slightly to 2,760 while deaths remained at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River County a single net increase in its active COVID-19 caseload, which now totals 15. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,203. Deaths remained at 40.

Active cases in Howard County decreased by one on Monday for a total of 11. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,616 and deaths at 23.

Polk County reported one fewer active case Monday, dropping the current total to 15. Overall cases currently number 1,922. Deaths in Polk County due to COVID-19 saw another increase yesterday, raising the death toll in the county to 68 since the pandemic began.

The Oklahoma Department of Health is reporting a total of 183 active cases currently in McCurtain County, an increase of one from Sunday. Total cases grew slightly to 3,860. Deaths remain at 69.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 117 new cases of the virus on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to just over 327,000. Active cases fell by 222, leaving 2,863 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas – the lowest figure reported in over six months. Deaths increased by seven over the 24-hour period for a total of 5,481 deaths due to COVID-19 in Arkansas since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations increased by seven to leave 250 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Horatio Schools recognizes 2020-2021 Teachers of the Year       3/15/2021
Horatio Teachers of the Year – Ms. Karen Woods was recognized at the 2020-2021 Horatio Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Vickie DeVore was named the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Horatio High School. Pictured from left to right are Horatio Elementary Principal Curtis Black, Karen Woods, Vickie DeVore, and Horatio High School Principal Gayla Youngblood.

HORATIO – Officials with the Horatio School District are recognizing the 2020-2021 Teachers of the Year for both Horatio Elementary School and Horatio High School.

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. Vickie 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’s Belief Statement: “My educational philosophy is basic. I am the barometer for my classroom. As an educator, I have the ability to humiliate or help…intimidate or inspire. I believe the greatest gift I can give a student is the ability to think critically. I have found that kids are kids…no matter the area or socioeconomic background. I feel it is the teacher’s responsibility to work with the individual; not only to challenge and inspire, but also to aid in their pursuit and completion of a high school course of study. Most of my teaching experience has been in private education with multiple grade and multi-subject experience. I realize that students enter a classroom with various academic abilities. Through the use of multi-intelligence instruction, I strive to meet them where they are and help them achieve.”
Horatio Elementary and Horatio School District Teacher of the Year is Karen Woods
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’ Belief Statement: “My philosophy of education includes clear expectations, a focus on developing thinking skills, and student differentiation. Through my classroom instruction and teaching reading groups, my goal is to incorporate these aspects in my daily routine.”
“It is a great honor getting to know these talented and dedicated teachers. They are not only assets to Horatio students but also to the education profession. I am proud to serve with Mrs. DeVore and Mrs. Woods.” Zane Vanderpool, Superintendent.
Feral Hog Pilot Program continues in Sevier, Howard and Hempstead Counties      3/15/2021
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County National Resources Conservation Service is continuing to offer help to area landowners through a new feral hog eradication program.
The NRCS office in De Queen received a portion of a $1.4 million federal grant earlier this year 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. In Sevier County, the two full-time trappers are Steven Pinkerton, a native of Nashville, and Jackson Lee of Cove. Robin Stacy of the NRCS office in De Queen is heading the program. Stacy said the grant allowed the office to hire two full-time trappers to assist landowners. The grant will fund those positions for the next three years. Stacy said her office is hoping to get the word out to landowners that the office is poised to help with their hog eradication efforts. She said the trappers would be available to set up and bait traps on their property.

Stacy and Pinkerton explained that the program is free to property owners and, if successful, could expand to other areas in South Arkansas.

Stacy and Pinkerton said that, while the program is completely free, some assistance from landowners is necessary in disposing of the killed hogs and also maintain proper trapping protocols.

Pinkerton added that the program is also an educational process that aims to help property owners trap and eliminate hogs on their own. He also explained the trapping process can take a few days to ensure as many hogs are caught as possible on the first gate drop. The equipment they bring along includes remote controlled gates and a video camera to ensure no one is around to spook the animals away.

Stacy encourages anyone with signs of feral hogs on their property to contact their office and participate in the free trapping program. For more information contact the NRCS office in De Queen by calling 584-3111.

ONF wraps up control burn at Cedar Lake, more planned this spring       3/15/2021
OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST – If things looked a little hazy out north west over the past week and a half, that’s because it’s prescribed burn season for the Ouachita National Forest. Officials with the Ouachita National Forest recently completed a prescribed burn on a portion near Cedar Lake. The lake’s recreation area reopened on Friday following completion of the controlled fire.
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. Currently no other prescribed burns are listed on the schedule but others are expected in the coming weeks and months.

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, including deer, turkey, endangered bats and woodpeckers and others.

With urban development continually spreading into the forests, Forest Service officials say they are no longer able to allow natural ignition to roam freely across the states as it did in prehistoric conditions. Instead of allowing wildfire to move across the landscape unrestricted, land managers use controlled fire to meet similar objectives.

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.

State officials warn of COVID-19 scams targeting Latino communities       3/15/2021

As COVID-19 vaccines become increasing common in Arkansas, so do the scams targeting those wishing to get theirs.

State law enforcement officials are warning of recent reports of vaccine misinformation, fake COVID-19 testing and treatment – in particular, targeting Arkansas’s Latino population.

The Arkansas Department of Health has provided a list of trusted vaccine clinics in each region of the state where Arkansans can receive their vaccine on a first-come, first-served basis if they qualify. A full list of participating locations is available at www.healthy.arkansas.gov, but locally that includes the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy in Sevier County and the Walmart Pharmacy in Little River County.

Besides offering false alternative routes to receiving the vaccine, state officials warn scammers are attempting to collect personal payment information over the phone while also spreading fake COVID-19 information.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge offered the a few vital tips for consumers about fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines and treatments:

Do not pay exorbitant fees for COVID-19 vaccinations. Instead, visit the Arkansas Department of Health’s website to find locations of regional testing and clinics offering COVID-19 tests at no cost to consumers.

Be cautious of health providers who claim they can cure, prevent, or lessen the effects of COVID-19 while charging high fees for their false claims.

For questions about COVID-19, including where to find testing locations, call the Arkansas Department of Health at 1-800-803-7847.

Find accurate information about COVID-19, including information about how it spreads, symptoms, prevention and treatment, what to do if you are sick and frequently asked questions, on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov

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

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       3/15/2021

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 fell by five on Sunday to 33. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,759 while deaths remained at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported no change in its active COVID-19 caseload, which remains at 16. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,203. Deaths were unchanged at 40.

Active cases in Howard County decreased by two on Sunday for a total of 12. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,616. Deaths remain at 23.

Polk County reported one fewer active case Sunday, dropping the current total to 16. Overall cases currently number 1,922. Deaths remain at 67.

The Oklahoma Department of health is reporting a total of 182 active cases currently in McCurtain County, which is no change from the previous day. Total cases grew slightly to 3,854. Deaths remain at 69.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 130 new cases of the virus on Sunday. That rose the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to just under 327,000. Active cases fell by 105, leaving 3,085 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by 19 over the same period for a total of 5,474 deaths due to COVID-19 in Arkansas since the pandemic began.

“Spring Forward” this weekend       3/12/2021
This weekend marks the start of Daylight Savings Time and moving your clocks one hour ahead.
Daylight Savings Time officially starts at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 14 -meaning people should move their clocks forward an hour before they go to sleep on Saturday night, March 13.

“Spring Forward” is a great time to also check the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

De Queen man enters plea of not-guilty to capitol murder charges       3/12/2021
MADISON COUNTY – A De Queen man accused of killing three family members last month in Madison County has entered a plea of not-guilty.
Hunter Chenoweth, age 22, pleaded not guilty to three counts of capital murder during yesterday’s session of the Madison County Circuit Court. Chenoweth is suspected of killing his mother, 51-year-old Tami Lynn Chenoweth; his stepfather, 59-year-old James Stanley McGhee; and his sister, 26-year-old Cheyene Chenoweth. All three were found deceased inside a home in Madison County on Feb. 23, according to the Arkansas State Police.
Chenoweth was arrested later that evening after authorities across the state began searching for a vehicle witnessed at the crime scene. According to the Arkansas State Police, Chenoweth was arrested following a brief stand off with state troopers in which he brandished a rifle and threatened officers at the scene. State troopers were able to approach Chenoweth from behind and arrest him without further incident.
An infant child belonging to Chenoweth’s sister, Cheyene, was found in the vehicle and recovered unharmed. The child has since been handed over to the Department of Human Services. The female driver, identified only as a 25-year-old De Queen woman, was questioned and released.

If Chenoweth is convicted, the capital murder charges each carry a sentence of either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
Chenoweth is also slated for a jury trial this summer related to a felony domestic battery charge from February of 2020. According to online court records, that charge stems from an incident that same month in which Chenoweth is accused of stabbing his stepfather.

Meet & Greet for MMA Champ Alberto Trujillo this weekend       3/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Alberto Trujillo, a De Queen native and a Flyweight Champion of the Cage Fury Fighting Championship, will be returning to his hometown this weekend.

Trujillo will host a Meet & Greet tomorrow, March 13 to visit with local MMA fans before heading back to California to return to his rigorous training schedule. Everyone is invited to come by March 13 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to meet Trujillo and show support for a De Queen hometown champion.

The Meet & Greet will be held at Paulita’s Mexican Store located at 110 West Stilwell Avenue in downtown De Queen.

Memorial Seedlings program announced for Arkansas families of those who died from COVID-19      3/12/2021

DIERKS – The State of Arkansas through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture is donating 10,000 oak tree seedlings to families to honor those lost due to COVID-19. Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of the virus in Arkansas.

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 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/.

Learn to Burn session in Mena March 31      3/12/2021

MENA – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host a Learn to Burn session in Mena later this month.

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.

Youth Trout Derby at Beavers Bend State Park this Saturday      3/12/2021

BEAVERS BEND – The Friends of Beavers Bend State Park – a non-profit group aimed at supporting Beavers Bend State Park – is hosting a youth trout fishing derby this Saturday. The event is aimed at youth aged 5 to 15 and will take place at the Cold Hole. Registration is this Saturday from noon to one. The derby will take place between 1-3 p.m. For more information, visit www.friendsofbeaversbend.com.

Oak Hill VFD hosting ninth annual Chili Cookoff March 13      3/12/2021

ASHDOWN – The Oak Hill Volunteer Fire Department will host its ninth annual Chili Cook Off this Saturday, March 13 from 5-8 pm. There is a $25 entry free with prizes paid for first, second and third place. Contestants must have their chili at the fire department by 4 p.m. Judging will begin at 4:30. Participants and visitors are asked to wear masks. Cost for a bowl of chili or Frito Pie is $5 and take out is available. Call Mica Crow at (903) 278-0920 for more information.

Rep. Vaught provides legislative update      3/12/2021

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught has provided another update detailing activities this week in the Arkansas House of Representatives. The House wrapped up the 9th week of the 2021 Regular Session yesterday.

Members passed the following bills Thursday afternoon:

HB1633, which requires a city of first class to establish a city police department and provide the department with proper resources.

SB383 bill states that the maximum campaign contribution level shall be established by rule of the Arkansas Ethics Commission.

SB127 allows libraries to accept a debit card or credit card.

HB1416 is intended to encourage home-based entrepreneurship. It outlines what restrictions local governments can and cannot place on home-based businesses.

SB118 creates the Arkansas Public Service Internship Program. It will utilize graduate students and undergraduate students to perform duties for the cabinet-level departments of the state through which the students can obtain practical experience in state government responsibilities and operations.

The House will convene on Monday at 1 pm.

Millwood Lake Fishing Challenge continues through April 15      3/12/2021

MILLWOOD LAKE – With the recent spring weather, fishing is probably on the minds of many in Southwest Arkansas. And the Little River County Chamber of Commerce is reminding area anglers that Millwood Lake is a great place to go – not just for fish, but also for the chance to win some serious cash.

Last month the Little River County Chamber of Commerce kicked off the first ever Millwood Fishing Challenge. Through this new event local anglers will have a chance to win thousands of dollars in cash prizes.

The challenge takes place on Millwood Lake and began on the first day of February. And 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 will 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 will be 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 young anglers weekend will be held in April.

Visit the Little River County Chamber of Commerce online at www.ashdownarkansas.org/millwoodfishingchallenge for more details.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures, Gov. Hutchinson recognizes one-year anniversary of first case in Arkansas      3/12/2021

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 were unchanged yesterday and remain at 38. Cumulative cases rose by three to 2,753. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported a single net increase in its active COVID-19 caseload for a current total of 16. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,194. Deaths were unchanged at 40.

Active cases in Howard County decreased by five yesterday for a total of 14. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,613. Deaths remain at 23.

Polk County reported three fewer active cases Wednesday, dropping the current total to 18. Overall cases currently number 1,918. Deaths in Polk County due to the virus increased by one yesterday for a total of 69 since the pandemic began.

The Oklahoma Department of health is reporting a total of 179 active cases currently in McCurtain County, an increase of five from the following day. Total cases grew slightly to 3,844. Deaths remain at 69.

Governor Asa Hutchinson provided an update Thursday on Arkansas’s COVID-19 response during a press conference marking the one-year anniversary of COVID-19’s arrival in the Natural State.

The event took place at the Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, where the first case in Arkansas was detected. KSLA reported those in attendance included patient one, who is alive and well.

During the update, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 340 new cases; 3,144 active cases; 378 hospitalized, which is down 23 from Wednesday; 67 on ventilators, which is down 5 from Wednesday; 28 deaths were added Thursday for a total of 5,410 since the pandemic began.

In all, there have been a total of 326,040 COVID-19 transmissions in Arkansas.

The Health Department reported that the top counties for new cases are Benton, 39; Washington, 38; Pulaski, 33; Faulkner, 22; and Craighead, 17.

Governor Hutchinson released the following statement on today’s COVID-19 numbers:

“As we remember the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 case in Arkansas today, we look back at the challenges we’ve overcome. The past year has been difficult for each of us, but the vaccine gives us hope in our fight against this virus.”

Sheriff’s Office announces Sevier County Community Outreach Center       3/11/2021
The full audio interview is available here:
The partial transcript is featured below:

DE QUEEN – This week the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office unveiled a new program with the hope of curbing substance abuse in the broader community.

The new Sevier County Community Outreach Center is based largely on the department’s Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program, also known as RSAT, 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.
Both programs are components of an evolving perspective in the United States of how addiction is addressed, from the point-of-view of both law enforcement and the standpoint of public health professionals. Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry and Chris Wolcott, the Sevier County Jail administrator, introduced the local RSAT program nearly four years ago. Both Gentry and Wolcott, who each possess decades of experience in law enforcement, saw a need for a new strategy to combat substance abuse in Sevier County.
The RSAT program, funded through a federal grant, offered the alternative many law enforcement agencies were desperately seeking.
Now in its fourth year and with 150 graduated inmates so far, the RSAT program offered at the Sevier County Jail seems to be working. Gentry and Wolcott said graduates are getting jobs, reconnecting with families and, critically, not returning to jail.
That’s a telling statistic, given the average recidivism rate of non-violent drug offenders is around 65 percent. Petty theft in De Queen and Sevier County in general fell, too. By offering treatment for addiction, the RSAT program offered a path for inmates that offered more chance for recovery than prison time. And that was accomplished through partnerships with faith-based groups, substance abuse counselors, parental training and career development. The program also carried a philosophy that some drug offenders, like most people, sometimes just need a second chance.
Wolcott said he hopes the new Sevier County Community Outreach Center will provide the same services – minus the jail time – to people in the community facing substance abuse problems. Some people, Wolcott added, just need help they’ve never received before.
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. Gentry and Wolcott 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 the program, call 870-784-7969 or 870-582-539. 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.

The program schedule for the Sevier County Community Outreach Center is currently as follows:

Monday:

Hannah’s Gift @ 6:30 p.m. led by Courtland S. and Brittany G. contact 870-279-6055@ First Baptist Church DeQueen
New Associations Narcotics Anonymous @ 7:00 pm contact Rita D. 870-784-4967@ First Baptist Church De Queen
Child care will be available

Tuesday:

12 noon Peer Group at DeQueen First Assembly w/ Hattie 1440 W. Collin Raye Drive De Queen 870-784-3921

2nd and 4th Tuesdays Peer Meeting @ 6 p.m. w/ Lynette H. 1535 W. Collin Raye, De Queen FBC 870-582-5398

New Associations Narcotics Anonymous @ 7 p.m. First Baptist church in Horatio – contact Rita D. 870-784-4967

Got Time @ 6:30 p.m. at First Christian Church 423 W. Stillwell Ave De Queen – Karen Mills 870-784-0039

Wednesday:

“Family and Friends” @ 5:30 pm with Cathy Stallard Anger Management, life skills, process groups, family group starts March 10th @ First Baptist Church De Queen sponsored by Chenal Family Therapy 870-340-2636

5:25 p.m. Chemical Dependency with Sonya Steward @ Southwest Arkansas Mental Health Clinic – 870-584-7116

Sevier County Alcoholics Anonymous @ 7 p.m. – contact Stephanie S. 870-582-4338 starts March 10

Thursday:

RSAT @11:30 a.m. with Hattie Closed meeting

RSAT @ 5:30 p.m. with Lynette Hanley Closed meeting

New Associations Narcotics Anonymous @ 7 p.m. – First Baptist church in Horatio contact Rita D. 870-784-4967

Friday:

2:00 pm Peer Group Lynette Hanley 870-582-5398

5:30 p.m. meal, 6 p.m. Large Groups, 7 p.m. small groups – De Queen First Assembly Celebrate Recovery – Hattie V. 870-784-3921

Saturday:

New Associations Narcotics Anonymous @12:00 noon contact Rita D. – 870-784-4967

Peer Group @ 7 p.m. 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month Lynette H. – 870-582-5398

Sunday:

Sevier County Alcoholics anonymous 511 W. Stillwell Ave De Queen – contact Don G. 501-366-6374

De Queen Public Schools announce Leopard Medical Academy      3/11/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School has launched a new partnership with UA Cossatot to provide instruction for the next generation of healthcare workers in Sevier County and across the region.

This week De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders announced the creation of the Leopard Medical Academy beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. Sanders said the Leopard Medical Academy will be a medical pathway of concurrent courses that students in 10th-12th grades can take to acquire all of the pre-requisites for the LPN/RN degree programs at UA Cossatot.

Students can apply for the eleven-month LPN program at UAC during their senior year of high school and then transition to the RN program upon acceptance. The Leopard Medical Academy will provide students with the opportunity to complete 46 hours of pre-requisite courses while in high school at no cost to the students. The completion of Leopard Medical Academy will also prepare students for the majority of the prerequisite courses for the PTA and OTA programs at UAC.

Sanders said this new learning program will be instrumental in training the next generation of healthcare workers in the broader community. Especially, he added, with the planned opening of the Sevier County Medical Center next year. The new hospital is expected to create over 100 healthcare-related jobs. And given the ongoing pandemic, healthcare remains a tremendously high-demand field with strong earning opportunities.

District officials said they are excited and thankful for UA Cossatot’s partnership to create the Leopard Medical Academy. Sanders said the potential for this program is great given it creates a direct path for students interested in the medical field to take classes while in high school and go directly into a UA Cossatot medical program upon graduation.

Pre-trial hearing set for Lockesburg woman accused of negligent homicide     3/11/2021
NASHVILLE – A 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 June 9. She 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. Charges were then formally filed yesterday.

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.

City of Lockesburg to conduct survey as part of water tower grant process      3/11/2021
LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg City Council met Tuesday night to address a number of items related to city business.

That included the approval of a motion to conduct a door-to-door income survey within the Lockesburg City limits. The survey needs to show at least 51 percent of the city’s residents are in a low-to-moderate income bracket in order for the city to qualify for a grant to renovate the municipal water tower.

In a majority vote, the council also approved continuing to levy the quarter-cent sales tax dedicated for UA Cossatot. In another motion the Lockesburg councilors approved a building permit to AT&T to install additions to the communications towers on east Magnolia.
Finally, the council approved a request of slightly over $14,000 to fund renovations to the Lockesburg Fire Department.

Sevier County Extension Service offers free soil testing service      3/11/2021
DE QUEEN – With the early spring gardening season under way, this is the time of year the Sevier County Extension Service receives lots of soil samples.  To help that process go smoothly and quickly, there are a few instructions to follow before dropping off your soil with the Extension Service.

To run a soil test, extension agents stress they need a FULL pint of soil which equals to a sandwich size Ziploc bag filled to the top.

The soil needs to be completely dry.  The soil will not dry completely in plastic bags.  You can spread it out thin on a newspaper in your house for a day or two and it should be dry enough.

Take several samples from the area and mix them together to get the pint of soil.

Recommended depth for samples are four inches for forages, lawns, and pastures, six inches for small fruits and garden and 12 inches for trees. Do not include any rocks, grass, or sticks in the sample.

There is no charge for the analysis.  The taxes on fertilizer purchases in Arkansas covers the cost.

If you have any questions about soil sampling, call Dana at the Sevier County Extension office at (870) 584-3013.

AGFC to offer free virtual seminar on identifying Arkansas’ venomous snakes      3/11/2021

Lori Monday, regional educator with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, will present a free online workshop for anyone interested in learning how to identify venomous snakes native to The Natural State at 6 p.m. March 25.

Monday has held hundreds of workshops and school presentations on the enjoyable aspects of reptiles and amphibians in Arkansas but has tailored this online workshop specifically for people to learn the best ways to identify venomous snakes at a distance.

“With spring just about here, plenty of people will be heading into the woods for some fishing and turkey hunting. But more than a few will express some fear of running across a venomous snake. Monday said she wants to give people the knowledge they need to be safe and more confident in the woods and on the banks of Arkansas’ streams and rivers.

Monday says some of the old standby methods of Identifying venomous snakes can mislead people and even put them at unnecessary risk, such as that all venomous snakes have slit or “cat’s eye” pupils. Monday says other methods, such as looking for a broad head, also fall short of the whole story.

The March 25 program will focus on the six venomous species in Arkansas, and organizers will work through each species to help people keep their distance from those that pose a threat.

In addition to identification tips, Monday will share many more resources with workshop attendees, including information on general herpetology and what to do in the event of a snakebite.

It is illegal to kill snakes in Arkansas unless they pose an immediate threat to people, pets or property, and most cases of snakebites are the result of people accidentally stepping on an unseen snake or purposefully agitating or trying to kill

Monday says snakes, even venomous ones, have important roles to play. As a predator of mice and rats, snakes control rodent populations that can wreak havoc on the agricultural industry. They also can play a role in the medical field. The toxins in snake venom have had applications in treating strokes, heart attacks and other circulatory problems. Many modern blood pressure medicines were developed based on enzymes found in snake venom. Copperhead venom currently is being used in breast cancer research and treatments, Monday said.

The workshop will be held via Zoom due to social-distancing recommendations. Registration can be done one at a link included in this story on the local news page of our website, www.kdqn.net https://fb.me/e/cRLupVsYL.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/11/2021

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 increase of three on Wednesday, raising the total to 35. Cumulative cases rose by four to 2,750. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported no change in its active COVID-19 caseload, which remains at 15. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,193. Deaths were unchanged at 40.

Active cases in Howard County decreased by two on Wednesday for a total of 19. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,612. Deaths remain at 23.

Polk County reported two fewer active cases Wednesday, dropping the current total to 21. Overall cases currently number 1,917. Deaths remain at 66.

The Oklahoma Department of health is reporting a total of 174 active cases currently in McCurtain County. Total cases grew slightly to 3,837. Deaths remain at 69.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 317 cases on Wednesday for a statewide cumulative total of 325,700 transmissions. Active cases fell to 3,227. Deaths increased by 25 yesterday for a total of 5,382 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations fell by 16 to leave 301 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Warrant issued, felony charge filed against owner of former De Queen business       3/09/2021
DE QUEEN – A felony warrant and criminal charge has been filed against a former business owner who opened a failed hemp processing facility in De Queen.
Sevier County Circuit Court Judge Bryan Chesshir signed the warrant on Friday, March 5 against Sarah Yetman for a felony charge under Arkansas’ Hot Check law.
Yetman, whose address is listed out of De Queen in court records, previously lived in Arizona. Prosecutors in the case allege Yetman issued a $16,753 check to Seal and Hodge Insurance knowing her bank account was insufficient to cover the total.
Yetman arrived in De Queen last year and announced her plans to repurpose the former Husqvarna building into an industrial hemp processing facility. The business however shuttered before the end of the year, ending employment for a number of people working at the facility.

The felony charge Yetman is facing could carry a sentence of up to six years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine and restitution.

COVID-19 vaccine now available to all Arkansans under Phase 1-B       3/09/2021
More Arkansans are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines following an announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday.
The state will now allow everyone in phase 1-B to get his or her vaccine. This group includes all Arkansans aged 65 years or older; teachers in childcare, K-12 and higher education; frontline essential workers including food and agricultural workers, first responders, grocery store workers, U.S. Postal Service employees, essential government workers and manufacturing workers. Phase 1-B also includes leaders of Houses of Worship and Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
This expansion of Phase 1-B makes the vaccine available to more than 180,000 additional Arkansans.
Hutchinson also announced the creation of a statewide call center to assist Arkansans in setting a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. These appointments would be made for vaccine clinics organized through the Arkansas Department of Health and its local health units. Workers at the call center will not be able to book appointments for the shot at a community pharmacy but will help Arkansans begin that process.
The call center can be reached at 1-800-985-6030. The hotline is available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Translation services will be available.

Public health officials hope to begin Phase 1-C at the end of March or early April.

SWEPCO continues to offer extended payment plans during pandemic       3/09/2021

DE QUEEN – The Arkansas moratorium for utility service disconnections for non-payment is scheduled to end May 3rd. Southwestern Electric Power Company says it continues to work with customers who are struggling to pay electric bills during the pandemic.

Payment agreements may be set up by calling the utility’s customer solutions center, at 877-446-7211.

The company says it has been offering extended payment agreements, and is now expanding those options to 18 months.

Prior to any customers being disconnected for non-payment, SWEPCO says it sends outs multiple notices & opportunities to enroll in extended payment agreements.

Sevier County Quorum Court hears update on new hospital      3/09/2021

Yesterday’s meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court was a brief one in comparison to the previous two well-attended meetings that focused on alcohol-related ordinances and regulations.

The meeting included no new or old businesses to discuss. The only item on the agenda was an update concerning the Sevier County Medical Center. Dr. Steve Cole, who chairs the hospital’s board of governor’s, reiterated updates from last week’s board meeting.

That included the board’s decision to begin initial interviews for the hospital’s CEO/administrator position in mid-April. Cole said the board has selected 10 applicants to interview. The board expects to choose the finalist during next month’s interviews and have the position filled by June 1. 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 had finalized its agreement with AirEvac, which provides helicopter-based medical transport in the region. AirEvac has agreed to sign a long-term lease to build a helipad and crew dormitory on the site of the new hospital. This will allow the helicopter service to be directly onsite once the hospital opens.

Following yesterday’s quorum court meeting, Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said the District 2 seat on the quorum court remains open at this time. The seat was left vacant following the passing of Justice of the Peace Charles Keels last year. The position must be filled through an appointment by Governor Asa Hutchinson. County Judge Greg Ray said that process has not yet been completed.

Sevier County Extension offers tips on pruning weather-damaged plants       3/09/2021
DE QUEEN – Last month’s once-in-a-generation winter storm caused damage throughout the state. Now that the weather is warming up, you may have noticed many of your shrubs, azaleas and other landscape features took a brutal hit from the snow and subfreezing temperatures.
The Sevier County Extension Office is sharing information on how to prevent that damage from being permanent. With spring around the corner, a little care and proper technique will ensure those plants are back to full strength as quickly as possible.
Many Azaleas in parti­­cular are suffering from freeze injury after February’s winter weather. Wait until all danger of a late frost is over to prune out those dead limbs. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Plant Health Clinic is also seeing Azalea Leaf Spot, caused by a fungus. This disease usually becomes noticeable in the spring although symptoms may not appear until fall or in the following spring on one-year old leaves. At least two months pass between infection and the appearance of the lesions.
Symptoms are brown circular to irregular spots on the lower leaves. Centers of the spots become gray with age. Tiny black fruiting bodies may be seen in the center of the spots with a hand lens. Although severe infections can cause leaf drop late in the season, fungicides are usually not necessary. Rake and destroy fallen leaves and avoid overhead irrigation.
If bad weather prevented you from pruning your roses in February, now is the time to prune.
Basic rose pruning involves removing dead, damaged, or diseased branches. Improperly pruned roses have more dieback than those which are pruned properly. Dieback occurs when a pruning cut has been made in the middle of a branch as opposed to at the bud eye. Because the rose directs growth into the terminal bud, any portion of the branch left between the pruning cut and next bud will die back.

There’s a host of other information out there to help you choose how and when to prune your plants. And much of that information is available locally by contacting the Sevier County Extension office at (870) 584-3013. The extension office is located in the Adams Building on UA Cossatot Campus in De Queen.

Ashdown’s spring concert series this Thursday       3/09/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown Public Schools will host its annual Spring Concerts this Thursday, March 11. The Ashdown Junior High School band is set to perform that evening starting at 6 p.m. The High School Band will perform later that evening at 7 p.m. Both concerts will be held in the Helen Parker Gym. District officials ask that everyone who attends wear a mask and social distance.

AGFC warns of invasive zebra mussels found in aquarium product in Arkansas       3/09/2021

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has confirmed that some aquarium and pet stores in The Natural State have been offering for sale an aquarium product that may contain zebra mussels, a highly invasive species that can cause severe damage to the food chain and infrastructure in native lakes and rivers.

The product, the “Betta Buddy Marimo Ball,” is a type of algae used in aquariums that helps absorb ammonia and other waste from aquarium fish and provide oxygen while preventing the growth of other algae. It is shipped from a company in California which imports the plant from Ukraine, where zebra mussels are native.

Upon hearing about the problem, AGFC staff investigated some pet stores around Arkansas and found the product being sold. Further investigation of those moss balls confirmed zebra mussels in them as well.

AGFC officials said some pet stores have already voluntarily pulled the product once they were informed of the issue.

Anyone who purchased any moss for their aquariums or purchased fish with the moss included in the bag is asked to discard the vegetation properly.

The best thing to do, according to the AGFC, is lay it somewhere where it can dry out, then dispose of it in a trash can.

Aquariums that may have contained the zebra mussels can be drained and disinfected with a household bleach solution. Filters, pumps and gravel should be treated with the bleach solution or allowed to dry completely for at least seven days to reduce the threat of zebra mussels contaminating the aquarium.

Zebra mussels have a hatchet-shaped shell, commonly the size of a fingernail. They multiply so rapidly and cling tightly together in such masses that they can clog intake pipes of water supply systems and power generating plants as well as cooling lines of boat motors. They also pose a threat to native Arkansas mussels, often growing on the shells of those mussels and smothering them. Each female zebra mussel can spawn up to 50,000 microscopic eggs which can mature quickly, creating clusters of mussels as dense as 40,000 per square foot.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established a web page for more information about the zebra mussels found in the aquarium trade. It further explains procedures to decontaminate and dispose of materials that may have been infected. Visit www.fws.gov/fisheries/ANS/zebra-mussel-disposal.html to learn more.

Visit www.stopaquatichitchhikers.org for more information on invasive species and how you can help prevent their spread in Arkansas’s waters.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       3/09/2021

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, dropping the total to 25. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,731. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported three fewer active cases of COVID-19 on Monday for a current total of 16. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,188. Deaths increased by one over the previous 24 hours for a total of 40 in Little River County since the pandemic began.

Active cases in Howard County fell to 19 on Monday. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,605. Deaths remain at 23.

Polk County reported a total of 22 active positive cases on Monday, a decrease of two from the day before. Total cases currently number 1,914. Deaths remain at 66.

The Oklahoma Department of health is reporting a total of 185 active cases currently in McCurtain County. Total cases are 3,836. Deaths total 64 since the pandemic began.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 133 cases on Monday for a statewide cumulative total of nearly 325,000. Active cases fell to 3,593. Deaths increased by 24 yesterday for a total of 5,343 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations rose by three to leave 338 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Rep. Vaught provides update on legislative activities ranging from abortion to “Publish to Pay” websites       3/08/2021
State Rep. DeAnn Vaught has provided us with another update detailing legislative activities in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

This week, the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee will begin hearing proposals for constitutional amendments. According to Joint Rules, the House and Senate can each recommend one amendment, but it must be approved by a majority in both chambers.
Bills passed last week include:
HB1061, which creates the No Patient Left Alone Act. The bill outlines visitation rights for hospital patients, including children, patients with disabilities, hospice care, long-term care patients, and members of the clergy.
SB6, if signed by the governor, would ban abortions except those performed to protect the life and health of the mother.
HB1568 creates a legislative study on the possible use of election technology to increase transparency and security.

SB137 states that a local government shall not adopt any ordinance or policy that would prohibit a customer’s right to purchase, use, connect, or reconnect to a utility service.

HB1437 concerns “Publish for Pay websites” or privately-owned websites that request a fee to remove a booking photograph from the website. The bill states the person responsible for removing the booking photograph from the website shall remove the picture within five business days of receipt of a written request and not require payment of a fee for removing the booking photograph. It also states the website must post contact information.

HB1457 creates “Paisley’s Law”. It allows parents of a stillborn child to claim an income tax credit in the amount of $500.

HB1488 allows employees to file a Workers’ Compensation Claim for COVID-19 if the employee can prove they contracted the virus at their place of employment.

HB1409 caps the taxable wage base for employers at $10,000 for 2022.

HB1464 adds a provision to the Arkansas Code that allows parents to challenge instructional material, events, or activities in public schools.

HB1389 creates the Arkansas Foresters for the Future Scholarship Program. This scholarship will be funded by the State Forestry Fund.

HB1462 allows state-supported two-year and four-year institutions of higher education to designate a staff member as a homeless and foster student liaison.

You can find updated schedules and links to live streams on our website www.arkansashouse.org.

Governor announces March pardons, commutations       3/08/2021

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced on Friday his intent to grant 14 pardons, three restoration of firearm rights only, and four commutations in Arkansas. An additional 62 clemency requests were denied and three had no action taken upon them. These include requests from both inmates and non-inmates.

The applicants intended for pardons have completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole and probationary requirements and paid all fines related to their sentences. There is a 30-day waiting period to receive public feedback on the notices before final action is taken.

Among those slated for pardons in Bradley Whisenhunt of Gillham, who was convicted in 2008 in Little River County for felony attempted theft of property.

Hutchinson’s office said the pardon is issued based on the date of conviction (2008 – Little River County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Among those scheduled to receive a commutation are Annie V. Ross. Ross was convicted in 1982 of first degree murder in Ouachita County. The governor has given notice of his intent to commute Ross’ sentence from life in the Arkansas Department of Correction to making her immediately parole eligible. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Johnson & Johnson vaccines arrive in Arkansas, slated for poultry workers       3/08/2021

The first doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived in Arkansas late last week, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

The vaccine will be sent to poultry plants and be made available for workers.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the expansion of the vaccine to food manufacturing workers during his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update last week. All Arkansans employed in the food manufacturing sector, including meat processing facilities, are now eligible to receive the vaccine under phase 1B.

Employers can organize worksite clinics to distribute the vaccine to their workers. These workers are also able to receive vaccines through participating community pharmacies.

Phase 1B remains open to all Arkansans aged 65 and older as well as teachers in K-12, child care and higher education. First-responders and healthcare workers who did not receive their vaccine under phase 1A can still do so. Health officials hope to launch phase 1C next month – or earlier, if vaccine supplies continue to increase.

The state has received more than one million vaccines since distribution began. Of those, over 652,000 – or around 60 percent – have been given. Last week Arkansas obtained its first shipment of 24,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines. This vaccine differs from Pfizer and Moderna in that only one dose is needed for complete inoculation and can be stored at room temperature.

Ashdown G&T seeking referrals for next school year       3/08/2021

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown School District’s Gifted and Talented Program is now accepting referrals of new students for the 2021-2022 school year. Students referred must exhibit outstanding abilities in the area of intellect, creativity, and task commitment. Potential applicants are asked to fill out the required paperwork by Friday, March 12. All referrals for testing must come through this form.

If you have any questions, contact the Gifted & Talented Coordinator, Emily Freeman at efreeman@ashdownschools.org.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       3/08/2021

DE QUEEN – Turning now to 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 fell to 29 on Sunday. Cumulative cases now number 2,731 with 2,677 recoveries. Deaths remain at 29.

In neighboring counties, Little River County is currently reporting 19 active cases of COVID-19. Total cases grew slightly to 1,187. Deaths remain at 39.

Active cases in Howard County fell to 23 on Sunday. Overall cases increased slightly to 1,605. Deaths remain at 23.

Polk County reported a total of 24 active positive cases on Sunday. Total cases currently number 1,913. Deaths remain at 66.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 165 cases on Sunday for a statewide cumulative total of nearly 325,000. Active cases fell by a net 193 to leave 3,967 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by 22 on Sunday for a total of 5,319 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations fell by 10 to leave 335 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

De Queen woman arrested in Mena following pursuit after alleged car theft      3/05/2021
MENA – A De Queen woman is facing multiple charges in Polk County following an alleged car theft and pursuit in Mena.

According to authorities, 27-year-old Elizabeth Ann Trusley was arrested on Thursday after reportedly leading authorities on a short pursuit through the city. Officers were required to force the suspect off the road near the Polk County Courthouse.

The suspect was then identified as Trusley, whose address is listed out of De Queen. Trusley is suspected of stealing a car earlier that day from a location on College Drive in Mena.
She is currently being held in the Polk County Detention Center. She is facing charges of theft, fleeing, speeding, failure to obey a traffic light and refusal to submit to arrest.

Sevier County Medical Center to begin CEO interviews in April      3/05/2021
DE QUEEN – De Queen’s new hospital is one step closer to getting a new administrator following yesterday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.
Chairman Dr. Steve Cole announced the board had narrowed down its applications to 10 individuals. The board selected mid-April for initial interviews to narrow down those finalists further. 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.
The board also heard from its legal counsel, who stated future workers at the new hospital will be employees of both the hospital and the county. That means those employees will have access to benefits offered to existing county employees. However, the hospital will also have the option to provide additional benefits including retirement plans specific to the healthcare industry.
In other business, Cole said the board had finalized its agreement with AirEvac, which provides helicopter-based medical transport in the region. AirEvac has agreed to sign a long-term lease to build a helipad and crew dormitory on the site of the new hospital. This will allow the helicopter service to be directly onsite once the hospital opens.
Greg Revels, who serves as treasurer for the board, said the hospital currently has over $1.3 million in the bank to assist with operational costs when the hospital opens. Cole said it’s vital for the hospital to have a “war chest” to cover costs for the first year of the hospital’s operation.

The board also heard from Bruce Jackson, who serves as the chairman for the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation. This organization will serve as a charitable arm of the hospital and will help with fundraisers and other auxiliary projects related to the hospital. Jackson said the foundation is still seeking non-profit status. He added the foundation is also continuing discussions towards the installation of a baby box at the new hospital. A baby box will allow mothers of infants less than 30 days old to drop them off anonymously and safely at the hospital under Arkansas’ Safe Haven Law.

The board is expected to meet again in April.

DHS archery team going to state championships – but virtually in 2021      3/05/2021

DE QUEEN – Social-distancing requirements may have prevented the typical scene at The Bank of OZK Arena in Hot Springs for this year’s Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program State Championships, but schools from across the state still are competing to see who is the best at Olympic-style archery this week. And nor did the virtual format or severe winter weather last month stop De Queen High School from getting the top place in the regional competition.

Student archers from the De Queen High School archery team took first place in the Region 9 competition, ensuring them a spot in the state championship. A few other area schools will be joining the De Queen team, including Acorn, which placed second in the high school regional competitions. Acorn also took first place in the middle school division, with Wickes taking second and Vandervoort third. Vandervoort also got the first place spot in the regional elementary archer competitions.

Curtis Gray, the Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said all competitions were moved to a virtual format this year to prevent the typical crowds of up to 16,000 at one location for the state championships.

Instead, archers at each school are competing at their own facilities with at least two coaches or administrators serving as scoring judges. Instead of the meet taking place all in one or two days, teams will have four days to shoot and submit their scores.

The format went well during the regional shoots, which took place from February 8-24, despite weather-related setbacks.

Concerns for spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 shuttered last year’s Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program’s events, as well as this year’s regional ANASP meets, but coordinators are hopeful that next year will be different.

Four States Fair set to begin April 2      3/05/2021

TEXARKANA – Four States Fairgrounds is announcing the 76th Four States Fair and Rodeo is just four weeks away.

The gates open for the 10-day fair on April 2 at 5 p.m. and will run through Sunday, April 11.  New this year, opening Friday night, April 2, 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 or by visiting the Four States Fair Box office weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The 76th Four States Fair will include MONSTER TRUCKS, DEMOLITION DERBY, RODEO, FOOD, MUSIC, WAGNER CARNIVAL and much more.

The Wagner Carnival is returning for the 76th Fair.  The Wagner’s began in 1977 when Albert and his wife Denise had the dream of improving on their long history of carnivals in their families with their own show.

The business is now training the third generation as current owners Jason and his wife, Roxann see their children gain ownership of some of the rides.  The family atmosphere has always been a focus for the Wagner Carnival.  They value each customer and work endless hours to assure each family has a great time at the carnival.

The carnival and fair activities will begin Friday, April 2 at 5 p.m.  The box office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

For more information and to see other events at this year’s Four States Fair, visit the website at www.fourstatesfair.com.

Horatio School District to dispose of special education records      3/05/2021

HORATIO – The Horatio School District is notifying parents and past students of its intent to destroy certain educational records – and that copies are available for those who want them.

State and federal guidelines require that all special education due process forms and records be destroyed within six years after a student leaves the special education or speech therapy program.

If your child was dismissed, graduated, was dropped from the program or found to be ineligible for special education services or speech therapy during the school year 2014, you have the right to review and request copies of your child’s due process records before they are destroyed.

Your child also has the right to review these records  providing he or she is 18 years old or older.  If you wish to see these records they will be available at Horatio High School Special Education office beginning March 29 through April 9. These records will be available each of those days from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. You are asked to make an appointment by calling Cindy Frachiseur at (870) 832-1900  ext.1914

Records not picked up will be destroyed on  May 23, 2021

These records are not your child’s permanent school records but only regard the district’s special education records.

Ashdown Public Schools seeking new G&T students      3/05/2021

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown School District’s Gifted and Talented Program is now accepting referrals of new students for the 2021-2022 school year. Students referred must exhibit outstanding abilities in the area of intellect, creativity, and task commitment. Potential applicants are asked to fill out the required paperwork by Friday, March 12. All referrals for testing must come through this form. A link to the form is available on our website, www.kdqn.net

If you have any questions, contact the Gifted & Talented Coordinator, Emily Freeman at efreeman@ashdownschools.org.

Severe Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas: Today’s topic, Warnings and Watches      3/05/2021

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, has proclaimed this week as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas.

A different topic will be discussed each day, and todays topic is watches and warnings.

Surrounding an event featuring severe thunderstorms, watches and warnings are issued to help you prepare for the elements.

Severe thunderstorms produce damaging straight-line wind gusts of 58 mph or greater, quarter size hail or larger, and/or tornadoes.

When conditions are favorable for severe storms, a watch is issued by the Storm Prediction Center /SPC/ in Norman, Oklahoma. SPC is a part of the National Weather Service.

Watches often encompass a large area, sometimes several states, and are valid for roughly six hours.

When storms develop and are classified as severe, warnings are issued by your local National Weather Service office.

Warnings are posted for one or more counties and are valid for an hour or less.

When severe weather warnings are issued in the future starting April 28t, there is something to mention. For a standard Severe Thunderstorm Warning with 60 mph winds and one-inch hail, nothing will change. However, if 70 to 80 mph gusts or golf ball to tennis ball size hail are in the warning, it will result in a thunderstorm damage severity of “considerable”.

For 80+ mph gusts or 2.75+ inch /baseball or larger/ size hail, the damage tag will be labeled as “destructive”. This tag will result in the activation of a Wireless Emergency Alert through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System and this will go to cell phones within the warning system.

With a watch in place, severe storms might happen. When warnings are in place, severe storms are happening.

Watch and Warning Rules to Follow

You should be ready to go to a safe place when a watch is in effect. Monitor conditions for several hours or until the watch expires or is cancelled.

You should go to your safe place when a warning is in effect. Stay put until storms pass and/or the warning expires or is cancelled.

The safest place to be is a safe room or a basement. If these are not available, go to an interior room on the lowest floor of a house or building. Put as many walls between you and the outdoors as possible.

De Queen native and MMA champ Alberto Trujillo returning to hometown for Meet & Greet      3/04/2021
DE QUEEN – Alberto Trujillo, a De Queen native and a Flyweight Champion of the Cage Fury Fighting Championship, will be returning to his hometown next week.

Trujillo will host a Meet & Greet on March 13 to visit with local MMA fans before heading back to California to return to his rigorous training schedule. Everyone is invited to come by March 13 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to meet Trujillo and show support for a De Queen hometown champion.

The Meet & Greet will be held at Paulita’s Mexican Store located at 110 West Stilwell Avenue in downtown De Queen.

Graphic t-shirts go on sale this week for $20 and are available at Paulita’s Mexican Store while supplies last.
Stay tuned in to KDQN and KDQN En Espanol Facebook Pages for more news and interviews with Alberto Trujillo.

Gillham woman killed in one-vehicle accident in Sevier County      3/04/2021

GILLHAM – A Gillham woman was killed this week after a one vehicle accident in Sevier County, according to the Arkansas State Police.

A report from the State Police states 35-year-old Kristian Buchanan was traveling on Bellah Mine Road around 9 p.m. on March 1 as a passenger in a 1995 Toyota Tacoma when the driver lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle then exited the roadway onto the right shoulder and struck an embankment. The vehicle overturned and Buchanan was ejected from the vehicle, according to the report.

Buchanan was pronounced dead at the scene by the arriving coroner.

The investigating state trooper described road conditions as dry and the weather as clear.

Severe Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas: Today’s topic, thunderstorms      3/04/2021

Yesterday, De Queen firefighters and a crew from Baker’s Towing and Recovery helped a professional angler recover his truck, trailer and boat from De Queen Lake’s Oak Grove landing after a suspected brake failure caused all three to slide into the lake earlier this week. De Queen firefighters braved the frigid water to help recover the vehicles.

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, has proclaimed this week as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas.

A different topic will be discussed each day, and today’s topic is Severe Thunderstorms.

At any given moment around the world, approximately 1800 thunderstorms are occurring. Although thunderstorms are relatively small, when considered on a global scale of weather, all thunderstorms are dangerous. Lightning, flash floods, hail, straight-line winds, and tornadoes all result from thunderstorms.

A thunderstorm is considered severe when it produces winds of at least 58 mph, hail at least 1 inch in diameter /the size of a quarter/, and/or a tornado.

Hail forms in storm clouds where the air is subfreezing. Updrafts which feed storm clouds drive raindrops skyward, and liquid turns to ice. Quite often, hailstones will fall through the cloud, collect water, and updrafts will force them aloft. The stones refreeze and get larger.

In 2020, there was huge hail on May 4th. Storms unleashed baseball to softball size hailstones throughout Northwest Arkansas. This broke windshields, and dented vehicles and metal roofs. Just southeast of Washington County, a five inch diameter hailstone was observed. This tied the state record for the largest hail on Jan. 21 of 1999 and April 2 of 2006.

Large hail, on average, causes over one billion dollars in damage to property and crops in the United States each year. Some injuries due to large hail occur in this country each year, but deaths from hail are relatively rare. Animals fare far worse than humans.

When updrafts are overcome by rain and hail in storms, air from aloft can descend in a hurry. When these downdrafts hit the ground and spread out in all directions, damaging straight-line wind gusts sometimes result.

In 2020, a bowing line of fast moving thunderstorms cut through central and southern Arkansas during the late afternoon and eveningof April 12th. There were widespread wind gusts of 60 to more than 80 mph. Numerous trees and power lines were downed, and there was some structural damage. Power was knocked out to at least 150,000 homes. Altogether, there were roughly three dozen instances of gusts of at least 75 mph during the year.

Occasionally, thunderstorms spawn tornadoes. Most of these are produced in the spring and fall during the afternoon and evening. There are 33 tornadoes in a typical year. There were 45 tornadoes locally in 2020, and these resulted in no fatalities.

Two other hazards associated with thunderstorms are lightning and flash floods. However, these are not considered severe.

Whenever thunder is heard, there is lightning nearby. Lightning is deadly, especially in the summer when people are outdoors.

Flash floods are another thunderstorm hazard. Vehicles driven into flooded areas result in the greatest number of flash flood deaths.

Across the country, the top three deadliest thunderstorm hazards in the last 30 years years were flash floods, tornadoes, and lightning /in that order/.

A few severe weather safety tips to keep in mind:

Know the difference between a watch and a warning. The National Weather Service issues watches when conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather. Warnings are reserved for cases where severe weather is imminent or occurring.

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.

Boating accidents see increase in 2020 during pandemic      3/04/2021

Arkansas waters saw a spike in the number of boating accidents last year compared to 2019, according to data compiled by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s annual Boating Accident Year-end Report.

Seventy-five boating accidents were reported from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, twice what was seen the previous year. These accidents resulted in $297,274 in property damage, 35 injuries requiring treatment beyond first-aid care and 13 fatalities. Injuries requiring medical attention also increased substantially from nine in 2019 to 35 in 2020.

This week started off with a local accident, though fortunately no one was injured. A boat and truck sank in De Queen Lake after a reported brake failure caused truck, trailer and boat to slid into the lake and sink to the bottom.

AGFC boating officials say the increase in boating accidents across the state is likely the result of unprecedented increases in boating last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Tackle stores sold out of equipment and lakeside boat rental outfits, and outfitters on some of Arkansas’s streams saw amazing numbers interested in visiting lakes and rivers in The Natural State.

Fatalities caused from boating accidents also saw an increase last year, but to a much smaller degree. According to the report, 13 people lost their lives on Arkansas waters last year, compared to 10 in 2019. All 13 fatalities were caused by drowning, which is a common trend year-over-year in the report.

Only six reported accidents involved paddlecraft, but five of the six resulted in fatalities.

AGFC officials say that, though it is not required to operate a paddlecraft, completing a boater education course can give newcomers the background to be more knowledgeable about the rules of the water so everyone can return from a day on the water safely. Boating education is mandatory for anyone born after 1985 who is operating a motorboat or sailboat in Arkansas.

The complete report, as well as information on how to enroll in a Boater Education Course is available at www.agfc.com/boatered.

Millwood Lake to temporarily close one lane on dam, Okay Levee Recreation Area for inspection and repairs     3/04/2021

MILLWOOD LAKE – One lane of the Highway 32 across Millwood Dam will be closed from 7 a.m. until noon on March 10 for a routine dam inspection.

Officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Millwood Tri-Lakes 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.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also temporarily closing access to Okay Landing Recreation Area.

The Recreation Area will close at 8 a.m. Friday, while repairs are being made to Okay Levee. Depending on weather, the repairs should be completed by mid-summer. Due to safety concerns, public access to the area will not be allowed during the closure period.

Boaters will still be able to access the east side of Millwood Lake by using the Saratoga and Cottonshed boat launch ramps.

PPP hosting application period solely for small business through March 9     3/04/2021

Small businesses in Southwest Arkansas who have struggled due to the economic effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are reminded there is still time left to apply for federal relief assistance.

The Paycheck Protection Program has set aside $40 billion for businesses with 10 or fewer employees and for loans under $250,000 in low-income areas.

The first round of PPP provided around $750,000 in forgivable loans to businesses in Sevier County along.

The program is currently taking applications only from businesses with fewer than 20 employees and sole proprietors. This small-business application period will continue through next Tuesday, March 9.

For more information, visit www.sba.gov

Restaurants in De Queen able to apply for license to serve alcohol onsite      3/03/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
It won’t be long before you’ll be able to purchase a margarita with your tacos while dining in De Queen.

The De Queen City Council met last night to pass an ordinance allowing restaurants, event venues and other businesses within the city limits to apply with the state for a license to serve alcohol for on-premise consumption. The ordinance passed last night was needed for this process to begin due to the specifics of the alcohol option passed by Sevier County voters last November: that law, while explicitly allowing the sale and manufacturing of alcohol, did not explicitly authorize the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption.

Until 2020, for this to happen, the state’s alcoholic beverage regulating board required a majority vote at a referendum election. However, last year, the state law was amended to give cities and counties control over the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption by instead adopting local ordinances.

And last night, the De Queen City Council did just that. In a unanimous vote, city councilors approved an ordinance authorizing businesses in the city to serve alcohol by the glass for onsite consumption – that is, if and when applying businesses are approved to do so by Arkansas Beverage Control, or ABC.

The city council was in fact set to pass the ordinance last month but its February meeting was cancelled due the week of winter storms.

Due to the regulations put in place by ABC, restaurants with a seating capacity of 50 or more will be able to apply for a mixed drink license to serve alcohol in their establishments. Restaurants with less than 50 seats, or businesses such as coffee shops or event venues, will have to apply for a private club license.

The ordinance passed Tuesday night includes several other provisions. It sets the times businesses can serve alcohol to between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday through Saturday. De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said he consulted with a number of restaurants in the city and that all were in favor of the 10 p.m. cutoff time. Currently, most if not all restaurants in De Queen close at 9 p.m. Applying for and receiving a mixed drink license could provide a financial incentive to stay open an hour later.

The ordinance also establishes fines for violations, such as serving alcohol outside of the designated 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. time frame. A first offense would run a $100 fine, $500 for a second and $1,000 for a third and subsequent offense. The ordinance also states a separate violation will be issued for each person served or permitted to consume alcohol during the prohibited hours.

The ordinance included an emergency clause, meaning it will go into effect following a state-mandated notification period. This will require the city to publish the ordinance in the local newspaper for a two-week period.

In other business, the city council appointed Brennen Seymour and Jason Tellez as volunteer firefighters for the De Queen Fire Department.

Police Chief Scott Simmons also announced two new officers to the De Queen Police Department, Cecily Hughes and Wyatt Guinn.

Mayor Jeff Brown also presented his 2021 State of the City address, which we’ll feature more on tomorrow.

Meat processing workers among those now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine      3/03/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Food manufacturing workers in Arkansas will now be able to receive their COVID-19 vaccine thanks to an increasing supply of doses in the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the expansion during his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update on Tuesday. All Arkansans employed in the food manufacturing sector, including meat processing facilities, are now eligible to receive the vaccine under phase 1B.

Hutchison explained employers can organize worksite clinics to distribute the vaccine to their workers. These workers are also able to receive vaccines through participating community pharmacies.

Phase 1B remains open to all Arkansans aged 65 and older as well as teachers in K-12, child care and higher education. First-responders and healthcare workers who did not receive their vaccine under phase 1A can still do so. Health officials hope to launch phase 1C next month – or earlier, if vaccine supplies continue to increase.

Hutchinson said the state has received more than one million vaccines since distribution began. Of those, over 652,000 – or around 60 percent – have been given. This week Arkansas also obtained its first shipment of 24,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines. This vaccine differs from Pfizer and Moderna in that only one dose is needed for complete inoculation and can be stored at room temperature.

Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero said the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is good news for reversing the pandemic in Arkansas.

Hutchinson then announced the first case United Kingdom COVID-19 variant has been detected in Arkansas. He explained this was inevitable but also expected given how common virus mutate. This is why flu shots are required on a yearly basis.

Finally, Hutchinson provided the latest COVID-19 figures from across the state. The Department of Health recorded 440 additional cases of the virus on Tuesday for a cumulative total of nearly 323,000 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by four on Tuesday for a total of 5,254. Active cases saw a small net increase to 4,254 across the state.

USDA awards UofA Cossatot $400,000 grant for virtual welding learning grant      3/03/2021

DE QUEEN – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week announced it is investing $42.3 million to help rural residents gain access to health care and educational opportunities).

Rural areas are seeing higher infection and death rates related to COVID-19 due to several factors, including a much higher percentage of underlying conditions, difficulty accessing medical care, and lack of health insurance. The $42.3 million in awards includes $24 million provided through the CARES Act. In total, these investments will benefit 5 million rural residents.

As part of this program, UA Cossatot has been awarded $400,587. This Rural Development investment will be used to implement a distance learning system with virtual reality welding simulators at five rural sites in Sevier, Little River, and Howard counties.

The system will allow UA Cossatot to offer distance learning skilled sciences courses to additional rural students at multiple locations. The grant will fund network fiber upgrades at UA Cossatot’s Lockesburg Campus. UA Cossatot expects to train 30 students in welding technology at five end-user sites annually. The equipment also will be available for special training sessions in the evenings and on weekends for workers and industry partners.

UA Cossatot Chancellor, Dr. Steve Cole said the program will allow students to access a welding learning environment from a distance, ensuring the college can continue to teach students even if they are quarantined or live in extremely remote areas.

For more information on the virtual welding grant, contact Project Director, Dr. Steve Cole at 870-584-1173 or email at scole@cccua.edu.

UAMS MammoVan coming to De Queen April 8      3/03/2021

DE QUEEN – UAMS will be bringing its Mobile MammoVan to De Queen next month to offer free mammograms to women in Sevier County .

The free healthcare service is being offered to all Arkansas women aged 40 and over that are due for a mammogram. The service will be in De Queen on April 8 starting at 9 a.m. that morning. The event will take place at the Sevier County Health Unit located at 304 N. Fourth Street.

Mammograms will be provided by appointment only and pre-registration is required. To schedule an appointment for the UAMS MammoVan on April 8, call 1-800-259-8794.

Week of sub-freezing temps likely to cut down on fire ants, but not ticks or flies      3/03/2021

A week of record-low temperatures may leave its mark on Arkansas’ for years to come. One of the most beneficial is likely to be a reduction in fire ant populations. But despite the cold, agricultural experts in Arkansas warn fly and tick numbers are likely to be as strong as ever this year.

In general, species that are native to our region, like ticks, have evolved various mechanisms to survive cold winters.” However, the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Agency explains invasives that originate from warmer climates don’t have those means for survival. This includes Brazilian fire ants, which have been on a slow march across the country since their arrival here.

Imported fire ants are a good example of an exotic species that can be negatively impacted by extreme cold temperatures. This pest ant has expanded its range about as far north as it can under normal winter conditions. And north Arkansas is the northern limit of its range.

Although imported fire ants are native to South America, they survive most Arkansas winters. However sustained cold can cause a temporary population reduction.

Arkansas’ fire ant population experienced a 70 percent reduction after seven days of freezing weather a decade ago.

But you can’t keep fire ants down for long. About 1.5 years later, fire ants returned in full force. Fire ant colonies built into sidewalks, parking lots, foundations, and other areas tend to survive simply because these structures serve as heat sumps and prevent colonies from freezing.”

Ticks are pretty good at finding protected places to ride out the freezing weather.

Species such as the American dog tick and lone star tick survive the winter by seeking shelter as adults and nymphs in the leaf litter. Other species such as the winter tick are attached to a warm host during the cold winter. Many of these ticks have a natural range as far north as Canada.

Don’t count on a week of freezing temperatures to knock out flies, either.

The house fly range is worldwide including the Arctic, so obviously we wouldn’t expect to see winter do much to them. Livestock flies have different mechanisms to survive cold winters. House flies and horn flies of cattle survive cold temperatures as larva or pupae under manure piles and other protected breeding material.

Some row crop pests could be a different story, however. Ben Thrash, extension entomologist for the Division of Agriculture, can safely say the redbanded stink bugs and southern green stink bugs will be knocked back for the next several years.

Next edition of Leopard Vision now available      3/03/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School students have released next edition of Leopard Vision, the locally-based television production program and show launched this year at De Queen High School

This edition of the monthly magazine show includes highlights on the 2021 Miss DHS and a discussion with the hardworking nurses of the De Queen School District. Students also honor the district’s 2021 Teachers of the Year, including De Queen Elementary Teacher of the Year Elizabeth Martinez; Middle School Teacher of the Year Sonya Frachiseur; Primary School Teacher of the Year Stacy Payne; Janet Dunson of De Queen Junior High School; and Leona Martin, Teacher of the Year for De Queen High School.

This edition also includes on update on Leopards sports and a look at all the fun had during the Snowmaggedon of 2021.

Leopard Vision can be viewed on the DQTV De Queen High School Television Production YouTube channel. A link can also be found on the De Queen School District’s Facebook page.

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Today’s topic, tornadoes     3/03/2021

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, has proclaimed the week of Feb. 28 through March 6 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas.

A different topic will be discussed each day, and todays topic is tornadoes.

In 2020, 45 tornadoes were counted in Arkansas. In an average year, 33 tornadoes are expected in the state.

The peak seasons for tornadoes are spring and fall. This is when warm and cold air masses collide most often. In 2020, the busiest month was January with 11 tornadoes identified.

The strongest tornado of 2020 rated EF3 and maximum winds around 140 mph. The tornado tracked just under 13 miles through the southeast side of Jonesboro on March 28.

There were no high end tornadoes documented last year. The last one of these cut a 41 mile swath through Pulaski, Faulkner and White Counties on April 27 of 2014. This tornado killed 16 people.

Monster tornadoes like this are rare. From 2000 through 2020, only two other tornadoes were rated as high as the one on April 27. During this twenty-one year time frame, 817 tornadoes were spawned locally, and 83 percent of them were weak. These weak twisters accounted for only 3 fatalities.

Outdoor Tornado Sirens…

Many towns and counties in Arkansas have acquired outdoor warning sirens to alert the public when tornadoes threaten. When these sirens are kept in proper working order, they do their job as expected and help warn the public.

While Tornado Warnings often cause the sirens to blow, the National Weather Service does not have any control over the sirens. The decision to blow the sirens is made by designated city or county officials.

…What You Can Do to Protect Yourself – Tornado Safety Rules…

One of the newer safety rules is to avoid taking shelter under a highway overpass. Rotating winds surrounding a tornado can hit you with a lot of debris, and blow you out from beneath the bridge.

Be sure you know the difference between a watch and a warning. The National Weather Service issues a Tornado Watch when tornadoes are possible. A Tornado Warning is issued when a tornado has been indicated on Doppler Weather Radar or has been sighted.

Counties and cities are mentioned in Tornado Warnings. If you are new to the area, keep a map handy for reference.

Make sure that you have a reliable way to receive weather information. Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radios are an excellent way to keep up with the weather, even if your power has gone out.

If you are going to be at a large gathering, such as at a school, stadium or place of worship, make sure that someone is keeping an eye on the weather.

A tornado shelter, tornado cellar, or a safe room is the safest place to be, but these are not found in most homes. The next safest place is usually a basement, but these are not common in Arkansas. If you do not have any of these, go to an interior room on the lowest floor of a house or building. Put as many walls between you and the outdoors as possible.

Many businesses, such as large stores, shopping malls, hospitals, nursing homes, and schools have pre-arranged safety plans and designated safe areas. If you are in one of these places, follow the instructions given inside these buildings.

If you are in a vehicle, your best option is to move to a sturdy building.

Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection during a tornado, and should be abandoned.

Judge revokes $1 million bond for De Queen man suspected in triple homicide     3/02/2021
MADISON COUNTY – A De Queen man charged with capitol murder for killing three family members and abducting a child in Madison County last week has had his bond revoked after it was initially set at $1 million.
The $1 million bond set for 22-year-old Hunter Chenoweth of De Queen was revoked by a Madison County Circuit Court judge following Chenoweth’s initial court hearing on Friday. Chenoweth is facing three counts of capitol murder for his alleged involvement in three homicides that occurred on Feb. 23.

According to authorities, deputies with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office were contacted that afternoon by an individual reporting three people were dead inside a residence on a county road southwest of Huntsville. The homicide victims were identified as Chenoweth’s mother, 51-year-old Tami Lynn Chenoweth; his stepfather, 59-year-old James Stanley McGhee; and his sister, 26-year-old Cheyene Chenoweth.

Special agents with the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division were called to the crime scene and began developing leads in the case. The initial investigation prompted a statewide search for two vehicles known to have been at the residence earlier in the day and possibly driven away from the crime scene by the killer.  Information was also obtained identifying a child believed to have been at the home who was abducted by the killer or a woman who had also been at the crime scene.

State troopers assigned to the Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division found one of the vehicles abandoned in Faulkner County along Interstate 40 near Mayflower. Troopers secured the truck and transported it to state police headquarters where special agents began searching for evidence associated with the Madison County homicides and child abduction.

Around 10 p.m. Tuesday night, Highway Patrol Division troopers spotted a van matching the description of the second crime scene vehicle traveling westbound along Interstate 30 near Benton.  As state troopers initiated a traffic stop, a passenger in the van exited the vehicle armed with a rifle and began verbally provoking the troopers who had made the traffic stop.  Simultaneously other troopers moved-in from behind the gunman and were able to arrest the suspect. He was then identified as 22-year-old Hunter Chenoweth of De Queen.

The driver of the van stopped by state police was a 25 year-old De Queen woman whose name has not been released. Also in the van was the abducted infant, less than one year-old. Investigators later learned the child belonged to Chenoweth’s sister, Cheyene, who he was alleged to have killed.

The child was unharmed and later released to Department of Human Services. The female driver was questioned by state police and released.

Preliminary reports from the Madison County prosecuting attorney state Chenoweth allegedly admitted to the slayings. He told investigators the altercation began because of a missing firearm he believed was stolen from him.

Chenoweth was arrested in February of 2020 in Fayetteville for the charge of domestic battery as well as endangering the welfare of a minor. According to online court records, those charges stem from an incident that same month in which Chenoweth is accused of stabbing his stepfather.

De Queen City Council to meet tonight to vote on alcohol ordinance     3/02/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council is scheduled to meet tonight to vote on a alcohol-related ordinance regulating onsite consumption of liquor within the city limits.

The ordinance if passed would provide a local regulating structure for the sale of liquor sold by the glass for onsite consumption at restaurants and other venues. This includes setting the hours for sales of beer, wine and liquor for onsite consumption to between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday through Saturday. Violations of this ordinance would range from $100 for a first-time offense to $1,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.

The ordinance does not establish any additional fees, permits or taxes.

The meeting also includes Mayor Jeff Brown’s annual Staet of the City Address as well as a resolution to appoint two new members to the De Queen Fire Department.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the De Queen City Hall, and is open to the public.

In a six-to-two vote, the Sevier County Quorum approved two alcohol-related ordinances during a special meeting held last week.

The first amendment creates a local permitting process for businesses in the unincorporated areas of Sevier County (that is, areas not administered by a municipality) to sell or serve alcohol. The ordinance creates only a yearly $25 permit fee and does not create any new revenue collection mechanisms.

The second ordinance allows certain businesses to apply for private club licenses to be able to serve liquor by the glass for onsite consumption. This ordinance affects restaurants with a seating capacity of less than 50, event venues and other businesses. Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) required local officials to pass this ordinance before qualifying businesses could apply for a state-issued permit. ABC still maintains control over which businesses receive a license to serve alcohol for onsite consumption.

This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas – Tuesday topic is lightening     3/02/2021

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, has proclaimed the week of February 28ththrough March 6th as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas.

A different topic will be discussed each day, and today’s topic is lightning.

Lightning is a hazard in all thunderstorms, whether they are severe or not. In the last 30 years, lightning was the third deadliest thunderstorm hazard behind flash floods and tornadoes. There are an average of 40 to 50 fatalities a year due to lightning across the country.

Across Arkansas in 2020, while there were several house fires triggered by lightning, no fatalities or injuries were reported.

Most lightning deaths occur in the summer months when people are outdoors. Eight out of ten victims of lightning are male.

If a person is struck by lightning, that person’s body will not retain any electrical charge. Thus, the injured person can and should be cared for immediately.

Lightning can strike as much as 10 miles away from a thunderstorm cloud. Given this, it is no surprise that most lightning deaths occur as a thunderstorm is approaching or moving away, and not necessarily overhead.

Lightning tends to strike tall objects, but not always. The air is a poor conductor of electricity, so lightning will often go the shortest distance to make a connection from cloud to ground.

Statistics show that Arkansas is a top 10 state as far as lightning activity in the last ten years. The state experiences more than 830,000 cloud-to-ground lightning flashes per year and over 14 lightning flashes per square mile.

…Some Lightning Safety Rules…

Remember, it is lightning that causes thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are in danger from lightning. When thunder roars, go indoors. The safest place is a fully-enclosed building that is grounded. A hard-top car is also a safe location. Keep the windows rolled up and do not touch metal inside the vehicle.

Do not take shelter in small sheds, pavilions, or tents, or under trees. Stay away from higher elevations spots such as hilltops, and avoid nearby poles and towers.

Move away from chain-link fences and other metal fences such as those around ballparks and playgrounds.

Motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, and farm tractors are not safe places.

If you are in the water, get out immediately. If you are in a boat, head toward safe harbor.

Organizers of events/activities are advised to designate a weather watcher. Assign an official who will stop the events/activities when lightning becomes imminent. Have specific evacuation instructions in place so people know where to go.

Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity, so do not use electrical appliances or corded phones. Computers and other expensive electronic equipment may be damaged by power surges. You may consider unplugging these items.

Stay out of the bathtub or shower.

And we know this is a tough one for some folks, but when a thunderstorm approaches, it’s time to get off the golf course.

Sevier County Extension hosting Dairy Foods Contest     3/02/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Extension Office will hold the Sevier County Dairy Foods Contest on Monday, March 8 in the Adam’s Building on the UA Cossatot Campus.  Dishes may be dropped off between 7-9 a.m. Judging will begin at 9:30 a.m.

The contest is divided into two categories: Main Dish and Party Ideas. Use of pasteurized milk and dairy foods are required (organizers not that eggs, margarine, nondairy creamers, and nondairy whipped toppings are NOT dairy foods).

Look for the “Real” seal on dairy packages. The “Real” seal is your assurance of a real dairy food. Each county may enter one recipe in each of the two categories for state competition. Students enrolled in 4-H aged 9-19 or in the 4th through 12th grades as of Jan. 1 of this year, and living in Arkansas, may enter. Home-schooled students may also enter. Entries must be approved by the county Extension agent.

Each contestant must agree to participate in the state cook-off if his or her recipe is selected for the semi-finals. The 64th Annual Arkansas Dairy Foods Contest will be held in Little Rock in the summer of 2021. This annual event is sponsored during June Dairy Month by Arkansas Farm Bureau and the Arkansas Dairy Cooperative Association.

If you have any questions, please call the Sevier County Extension Office at 870-584-3013. For a full list of rules, please visit https://www.arfb.com.

Ashdown students make all-region band     3/02/2021

Six band students from the AJHS and AHS Bands tried out virtually for junior high all-region band. Junior high all-region band includes 7th-9th grade band students. Ashdown band students who qualified were Avery Buster-2nd band, 6th chair trombone; Ashton Trotter – 2nd band, 8th chair trombone; M. J. Hurd-1st band, 6th chair tuba; Michala Scarborough-1st band, 12th chair trumpet; Luke Barnes-2nd band, 4th chair percussion; and Will Ringgold-1st band, 4th chair trumpet.
“Walk Across Arkansas” launches this week     3/02/2021
Registration opened this week for the “Walk Across Arkansas” exercise program.

The eight-week event is organized each spring and fall by the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, to help Arkansans improve their health.

The ongoing pandemic has disrupted the fitness routines of many Arkansans, especially considering the temporary closures of many gyms and recreational centers.

Participants can walk on their own or form a team of three to eight members. Team members set their goals and record the amount of time spent exercising each week. All forms of exercise count — not just walking.

Last year, over 500 Arkansans participated in the fall 2020 Walk Across Arkansas, logging nearly 800,000 combined minutes, with 104 teams from 37 counties walking. Many of those participants reported they had more energy, slept better, controlled stress, strengthened relationships, lost weight or inches from their waist and improved their blood panels and blood pressure.

Participants will receive a weekly newsletter with individual and team strategies designed to help you meet your goals. There are also tips for participating in physical activities while practicing social distancing.

For more information and to register beginning March 1, visit www.walk.uaex.edu

Sevier County Water Association, Foreman Waterworks lift Boil Order Alerts      3/01/21
DE QUEEN – The Boil Order Alert issued by the Sevier County Water Association has been lifted for the approximately 52 service connections west of the Rolling Fork River. The order was issued on Feb. 25 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.
The notice was lifted by the Department of Health when bacteriological samples indicated that the water is free of contamination and an adequate disinfectant level is established throughout the distribution system.

The Arkansas Department of Health has lifted the Boil Order Alert issued on Feb. 19 for the entire Foreman water system. Bacteriological samples taken on Tuesday, Feb. 23 and Thursday, Feb. 25 were found to be safe. The Department of health stated a satisfactory disinfectant level has been established throughout the distribution system. The boil order was issued after a water line break caused by winter storms impacting the area earlier this month.

Laura Figueroa crowned 2021 Miss DHS      3/01/21

DE QUEEN – Laura Figueroa was crowned Miss DHS Saturday night during the 44th annual pageant held in the De Queen High School Auditorium.

A member of the sophomore class, the 15-year-old Laura is the daughter of Gabriel and Laura Figueroa. She competes in soccer, cross country, track, and is a DHS cheerleader. For her talent, Figueroa performed an instrumental solo, “Havana” by Camila Cabello. Laura was crowned by the 2020 Miss DHS Ashlyn Chambers.

First runner-up was junior Alexis Hall. Second runner-up was senior Perla Zapata, who also won Miss Congeniality as well as the People’s Choice Award. The talent winner was senior Janae Tirado, who performed an instrumental solo to a musical medley by various artists.

The theme for this year’s pageant presented by the De Queen Junior Class was “We Could Be Heroes”.

Feb. 28-March 6 is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas – Today’s topic is flooding      3/01/21

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, has proclaimed the week of February 28th through March 6th as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas.

A different topic will be discussed each day, and today’s topic is flooding.

High water usually comes in two phases: flash flooding and riverflooding.

Flash floods usually occur within six hours. The rate of rainfall exceeds the rate of runoff; that is, rain falls faster than it can be carried away. Because water has nowhere to go, it covers roads and fills small streams and creeks.

Flash flooding is usually caused by very slow-moving thunderstorms, or thunderstorms that repeatedly move over the same areas.

Urban settings are especially prone to flash floods due to large amounts of concrete and asphalt surfaces that do not allow water to penetrate into the soil.

Places surrounded by steep, hilly terrain are also susceptible to flash floods due to rapid runoff and water moving downhill at elevated speeds into streams and creeks.

In the last 30 years, flash flooding was the deadliest thunderstorm hazard, and caused more fatalities than tornadoes and lightning. There are an average of 80 to 90 fatalities annually due to flash floods across the country.

Roughly half of flash flood deaths occur when people try to drive through flooded areas. Moving water two feet deep is sufficient to carry away most vehicles, even pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.

In 2020, despite well above average rainfall and flash flooding at times, high water led to no fatalities in Arkansas.

The most deadly flash flood event in recorded state history happened in 2010. The Little Missouri River rose more than 20 feet during the predawn hours of June 11th. This was after more than half a foot of rain. Campers at the Albert Pike Recreation Area were awakened to raging water, and 20 people drowned.

River flooding is a longer term event than flash flooding, and can last for several days or even weeks. Water from flash flooding eventually makes its way into rivers, with excess liquid flowing into nearby towns, fields, etc.

Rivers are most likely to overflow when the soil is saturated, and runoff rates are high, and/or water levels are elevated prior to a heavy rain event.

When rivers spill over, it can be devastating. Water can overtake homes, businesses, and thousands of acres of cropland.

For much of 2020, several tributaries were high including the Black, Cache, Ouachita, and lower White Rivers. Even so, any flooding wasgenerally minor, and the rivers mostly behaved.

In times of potential flooding, you should know which places in your area are prone to flooding, and avoid these places in times of rising water.

Do not attempt to cross flowing streams while driving or on foot.

If flood waters are between you and your destination, the National Weather Service wants you to remember a simple slogan: Turn Around – Don’t Drown.

Outdoor activities are very popular in Arkansas. If you enjoy camping or similar recreation, be especially careful if you spend the night near streams. A thunderstorm miles upstream from your location could produce enough rain to cause flooding, even if it is not raining much where you are.

Noon today is deadline for 2021 school board filings    3/01/21

DE QUEEN – Noon today is the deadline for school board candidates to file for this year’s elections.

Filing materials required include an affidavit of eligibility, a political practices pledge and a petition with at least 20 signatures.

Anyone needing additional information can contact the Sevier County Clerk’s Office at 642-2852.

There are several school board positions to be elected in 2021, including Zone 1 in the Horatio School District currently held by Joe Jones. This year’s election also includes Zone 4 in the Horatio School District – held by Sherri Hodges – and Zone 3 in the De Queen School District, currently held by Gloria Caldwell.

As of Friday afternoon no races or challenges were filed.

Anyone interested in being an election worker in the upcoming election should contact the county clerk’s office at 642-2852.

Rep. Vaught shares update on Arkansas House of Representatives; House passes bill to exempt taxes from unemployment benefits in 2020 and 2021     3/01/21

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has shared a number of updates regarding recent developments in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

In the 7th week of the 2021 Regular Session, the House passed bills addressing taxes, medical care, scholarships, the duty to retreat, and more.

The following tax measures were advanced by the House:

  • HB1023, which excludes certain school fundraisers from the sales tax laws regulation special events.
  • HB1374 amends the law concerning which sales by charitable organizations are exempt from sales and use tax. It allows an organization to exempt sales from up to 10 events. The previous limit was 3.
  • SB236 exempts unemployment benefits paid in 2020 and 2021 from state income tax. This bill now heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk for his approval.
  • HB1049 allows the state to withhold state income taxes from unemployment benefits starting in 2022.
  • HB1361 would exempt COVID-19 relief loans for small businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), from state income tax.

Several bills addressing public health passed last week including:

  • HB1215, which grants full practice authority to certified nurse midwives. HB1254 states the Arkansas Medicaid Program shall recognize an advanced practice registered nurse for all purposes as a primary care provider authorized to carry out the duties of a primary care case manager.

Agendas and links to live streams are posted at www.arkansashouse.org.

Visitor centers at Arkansas State Parks back to regular hours     3/01/21

Starting today, visitor centers at Arkansas state parks will go back to normal hours.

They’ve been operating on reduced hours and limited occupancy for the past year.

The change won’t affect operation hours for the parks in general. Nearby locations included in this return to regular hours are the Cossatot River State Park and Natural Area and the Millwood Lake State Park.

Visitor centers will be open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Park museums will be open Wednesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Arkansas State Park visitor centers and museums act as information hubs in the parks. Visitors will find exhibits explaining the flora, fauna, geography, and history of the parks in these buildings. Souvenirs, camping supplies, informative books, and snacks can be purchased in the park stores that are in most of these facilities.

For more information about each park, visitArkansasStateParks.com.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     3/01/21

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:

Sevier County reported a net decrease of two active cases on Sunday for a current total of 52. Overall cases grew to 2,706. The Department of Health adjusted Sevier County’s death toll from the virus based on additional information, which decreased by three to 25 since the pandemic began.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported a net increase of three active cases over the weekend, raising the total to 13. Total cases grew to 1,171. Deaths were adjusted back by one to 39.

Active cases in Howard County experienced a net increase of two cases over the weekend for a current total of 28. Overall cases increased to 1,579. Deaths remain at 23.

Polk County reported two additional deaths over the weekend, raising the death toll from COVID-19 in Polk County to 65. Active cases fell to 26 currently. Overall cases grew to 1,892.

Statewide, the Department of Health recorded an additional 3,220 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. That figure, however, includes 2,932 additional cases that occurred prior to Feb. 14 of this year. The 3,220 cases added on Sunday include just 288 new cases detected statewide between Saturday and Sunday.

A data clean-up detailed by health department staff includes the reclassification of some deaths and removal of duplicates of others. That resulted in a decline of 174 from the statewide death toll. That figure now accurately totals 5,243, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

The Department of Health is reported a total of more than 322,000 COVID-19 transmissions in the state since the pandemic began. Active cases currently number 4,399. Hospitalizations fell by 20 on Sunday to leave 455 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects case from death row inmate who killed De Queen woman nearly 30 years ago      2/25/21
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
A man sentenced to death for the murder of a De Queen woman nearly 30 years ago has had his final appeal rejected by the nation’s highest court.
This week the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a petition from 52-year-old Stacey Eugene Johnson to have his 1994 conviction overturned. The rejection was noted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Feb. 22 docket and affirms the opinions reached by lower courts in recent years.

Johnson claimed the Arkansas Supreme Court had both denied due process protections and violated his First Amendment rights. Johnson has fought his death sentence for years claiming he was innocent under the state’s DNA testing law.

Johnson was convicted in 1994 to death following the murder of Carol Heath in De Queen the previous year. Johnson has maintained his innocence ever since, claiming the results of new DNA testing would prove another person committed the murder.

In 2017 the Arkansas Supreme Court granted Johnson’s motion for a stay of execution and a hearing on his desire for post-conviction DNA testing. The Sevier County Circuit Court and the Arkansas Supreme Court both denied Johnson’s request for new testing in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

A rejection by the U.S. Supreme Court over Johnson’s petitions closes the door to further appeals or legal reviews. Johnson has been on death row for the past 27 years.

Sevier County Quorum Court approves two alcohol-related ordinances      2/25/21

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

In a six-to-two vote, the Sevier County Quorum Court approved two alcohol-related ordinances during a special meeting held Friday morning.
The first amendment creates a local permitting process for businesses in the unincorporated areas of Sevier County (that is, areas not administered by a municipality) to sell or serve alcohol. The ordinance creates only a yearly $25 permit fee and does not create any new revenue collection mechanisms.
The second ordinance allows certain businesses to apply for private club licenses to be able to serve liquor by the glass for onsite consumption. This ordinance affects restaurants with a seating capacity of less than 50, event venues and other businesses. Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) required local officials to pass this ordinance before qualifying businesses could apply for a state-issued permit. ABC still maintains control over which businesses receive a license to serve alcohol for onsite consumption.
Justices Earl Battiest and Michael Archer voted against both ordinances. Battiest said his objection was based off his desire to see the ordinances include some revenue collection from liquor sales in the county – similar to the five-percent gross revenue collection on alcohol sales at private clubs in Sevier County in the past.
“I’m not against economic development or our businesses in any way, but the county has always collected taxes to maintain the services it provides,” Battiest said. “To me, it just seemed right to carry on the same tax we’ve had in the past on private clubs. And when you factor in the huge markup businesses put on their alcohol sales, the small amount the county would collect wouldn’t hurt any business.”
During an interview following the meeting, Monica Pearce and Tara Athey of the Sevier County EDGE group said they were thankful the quorum court kept local regulations and fees to a minimum. Group organizers have long highlighted the potential economic benefits of a wet Sevier County and were instrumental in last year’s election. Over two-thirds of voters approved the wet initiative in that election.

“This is a good thing for our businesses and especially our restuarnts, many of whom are struggling right now,” said Pearce. “There’s only a $25 permit fee and no local revenue collections in these ordinances. The county will still receive revenue through the state sales tax which is already in place. But the fact that the quorum court didn’t make the permit fee extraordinarily expensive and aren’t harming business owners with new revenue collections, well, we think that’s good news for the economic situation in Sevier County.”

“After this meeting today, we’re really excited to see where Sevier County is one, two or five years down the road in terms of economic development,” Athey added.

In related news, several convenience stores in Sevier County, including EZ Mart, are currently posting 30-days notices of their intent to sell beer and wine once that notification period expires.
Gov. Hutchinson announces extension of public health emergency, mask mandate and other executive orders      2/25/21
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
The public health emergency governing Arkansas’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended through the end of next month.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the extension during a specially called press conference Friday morning. The emergency order was set to expire Feb. 27.
The current emergency declaration includes executive orders requiring Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine visits as well as liability protections for Arkansas businesses. The statewide face mask mandate will also continue through at least March 31. Hutchinson said the state will determine then whether to drop the mask mandate depending on the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arkansas and the testing positivity rate. The penalties and exceptions governing his mask mandate will also remain in effect.
Hutchinson then announced he was changing his public health directives to guidelines, with the exception of the face mask mandate. As guidelines they will be recommended, not required, and carry no penalties for non-compliance. The decision, he added, will provide affected businesses with more flexibility to operate under the current health emergency.
The CDC’s quarantine and isolation directives remain in place and without adjustments at this time.
Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero spoke briefly to address several issues. He said Arkansans should continue to follow health guidelines and receive their COVID-19 vaccination as soon as it is available to them. In addition, Dr. Romero said the state remains on watch for additional variants of the virus.
Hutchinson is expected to provide his next COVID-19 Taskforce update on March 2.

Sunday marks the start of Severe Weather Awareness Week      2/25/21
LITTLE ROCK – We just experienced some of the coldest days and heaviest snowfall on record in Southwest Arkansas, but as we all know severe weather is just part of life in the Natural State. And especially in the spring.

The severe storm season of 2020 brought with it 45 tornadoes, one fatality due to thunderstorm wind gusts, and hundreds of reports of flash flooding.

Thankfully there were no fatalities associated with tornadoes or flash flood events across the state of Arkansas in 2020 despite having to deal with the most tornadoes across the state since 2011! Arkansas was also directly impacted by tropical cyclones Cristobal, Laura, Beta, and Delta. The greatest impacts were with Laura, as the region experienced areas of heavy rain, gusty to damaging winds, and the largest August tornado outbreak in state history. August also brought six times the usual rainfall to Southwest Arkansas and our first Tropical Storm warning in, well, ever.

With the 2021 spring severe weather season fast approaching, the National Weather Service (NWS), in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, has designated the week of February 28th as Severe Weather Awareness Week (SWAW). This is a safety campaign designed to help Arkansans prepare for the spring storm season.

Each day next week the campaign will highlight one particular aspect of the spring severe weather season. Sunday the campaign will kick off with an overview of Severe Weather Awareness Week. Monday will focus on the difference between flood and flash floods while Tuesday will highlight lightning and Wednesday tornadoes. The campaign will continue with a discussion on severe thunderstorms on Thursday and on Friday the meaning behind weather watches and warnings. Next Saturday is the last day of Severe Weather Awareness Week and will focus on how the National Weather Service needs and uses storm reports to improve the warning system.

Another aim of Severe Weather Awareness Week is that the time to prepare is now. That means batteries, fuel for generators, candles and anything else to keep you safe during the worst of Arkansas’ spring severe storms.

Tune in to KDQN next week as we highlight the 2021 Severe Weather Awareness Week and take a closer look at what Mother Nature tends to bring us this time of year.

Area food banks continue to help feed the hungry in Southwest Arkansas      2/25/21

DE QUEEN – Area food banks are reminding local residents they have avenues to turn to for help putting food on their table. The Harvest Regional Food Bank in particular works with a number of local organizations and churches in the area to help provide food to struggling families in Southwest Arkansas.

Those include the Church of Christ in De Queen, which operates a food pantry the first and third Tuesday of each month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Horatio United Methodist Church operates a food distribution event on the first Monday of the month from 11 a.m. to noon.

In Little River County, food banks are organized at the Community Freewill Baptist Church in Ashdown from 9-11 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month. Ashdown United Methodist Church provides food to Little River County residents on the third Tuesday of each month between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m.

This is just a sample of the groups providing food assistance in Southwest Arkansas through partnership with Harvest Regional Food Bank and local efforts. Other food banks are organized in Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties.

You can find a full list of area food banks on Harvest’s website, harvestregionalfoodbank.org.

Organizers with Harvest Regional Food Bank ask those who don’t need food assistance to consider donating to help those who do. Through Harvest’s programs and partnerships, every $10 donated helps provide food for 55 meals. That will go a long way towards helping prevent hunger in the area. As a non-profit organization all donations to Harvest are tax-deductible. Visit www.harvestregionalfoodbank.org or call (870) 774-1398 to learn more.

UofA Cossatot releases list of fall 2020 graduates, honor students      2/25/21

Submitted by Dustin Roberts of UofA Cossatot

The University of Arkansas at Cossatot has announced its students named to the fall 2020 Chancellor’s and Vice Chancellor’s Lists.

100 students were named to the Chancellor’s list maintaining a minimum of 4.0 semester GPA while taking a minimum of twelve college credit hours.   78 students were named on the Vice Chancellor’s list maintaining a minimum of a 3.5 semester GPA while taking a minimum of twelve college credit hours.

The UA Cossatot Fall 2020 Chancellor’s List Includes:

Amity: Destiny Bright and Hannah Coffman

Ashdown: John Turner, Kasey Barton, Mackynze Dollarhide, Breana Noble, and Paige Smith

Ben Lomond: Molly Parker

Buckner: Maegan Taylor

Cove: Sophie Jackson

Delight: Camri Kirkham

De Queen: Carlos Aparicio, Guillermo Boquin, Israel Bustamante, Elvis Castro, Ashley Contreras, Kynnedi France, Johnny Guerrero, Maya Hallman, Patrick Hanson, Liliana Hernandez, Haylee Leeper, Jeffrey Manns, Brenda Mera Leon, Ismael Montero, Fernando Morales, America Pulido-Rojas, Giovany Salgado, Sydney Thistlethwaite, Alan Villamil, Brian Mckinney, Sondra Reynolds, Nohemi Carreon, Ana Martinez, Jose Martinez, Lesly Herndez, Lysia Lovell, Abel Resendiz, Magali Cornelio, Vanessa Hernandez, Miguel Montero, Jasmine Montiel, Guillermo Ramirez, Angeles Rojas-Duran, Zapata Alfaro, Samantha Molina, and Jorge Soto Ramirez

Dierks: Brayden Buck, Jace Jackson, Savannah Morris, Aiden Oglesby, Jaycee Runnels, Jauger Spray, Blayn Turner, Kimberly McCauley, and Haylin Halcombe

Foreman: Johnny Carter and Kori Southerland

Gillham: Andrew Shelton

Glenwood: Vivian Angeles and Vasti Hernandez

Grannis: Brandon Marrufo

Horatio: Carson Brackett, Bryan Carrillo, Ryne Ernest, Austin House, Grace Wagner, and Alberto Sandoval

Idabel: Andrea Linville

Lockesburg: Hannah Fisher, Hannah Norman, Garrett Sharp, and Trent Sharp

Mena: Joshua Swint

Mineral Springs: Marquise Bryant and Kasia Ragland

Murfreesboro: Hope Littles

Nashville: Jonathon Claiborne, Audri Couch, Caiden Erwin, Lacie Grace, Dennis Guzman, Jacquelyn Howard, Adam Nix, Anna Rhodes, Heidi Buck, Amber Hampton, Marcus Luester, Lizbeth Hernandez, Kymberly Stanek

New Boston: David Balderas

Newhope: Jewel Bennett

Ozan: La Shonna Cooper and David Tozcano

Prescott: Jacob Ojeda

Royal: Aubree Gauldin

Texarkana: Charles Wise

Umpire: Christopher Moore

Winthrop: Benjamin Hendrix

The UA Cossatot Fall 2020 Vice Chancellor’s List Includes:

Amity: Randi Markham

Ashdown: Benjamin Adkison, Jaden Altenbaumer, Ty Buchanan, Jaliana Clinton, Andeligh Patrick, Spencer Patterson, Kentarian Williams, Susan Hill, David Mitchell, Colby Dellinger, and Weston Lawrence

Delight: Amy Campbell, Daniel Golden, Bobbie Craig

De Queen: Kaylee Brooks, Abbygail Ponce, Brayan Ramirez, Madison Runnels, Mikayla Scott, Ethan Wolcott, Jennifer Garibay, Misty Goings, Jessica Swan, Kelli Bahena, Jaramillo Carlos, Jordan Rogers, Willie White, Aracely Ortiz, Kendra Rodriguez, and Angela Vertiz

Dierks: Chantal Alonso, Ali Barfield, Elian Hernandez, Cason Launius, Ashley Jackson, and Heather Lovewell

Fayetteville: Destiny Jackson

Fouke: Kristen Sewell

Garvin: Hannah Honey

Hope: Shelby Pogue

Horatio: Nicole Pierce and Amanda Taylor

Little Rock: James Abbott

McCaskill: Cameron Lane, Jorge Torres, Corta Young

Mena: Cadie Cannon

Mineral Springs: William McAlister, Brooklyn Nutt, Jaselyn Sirmon, and Matthew Stone

Murfreesboro: Kyla Collins and Jessica Parker

Nashville: La Tambra Anderson, Zachary Backus, Alexis Byers, Sarah Cobb, Tyler Gordon, Kendra Miller, Diana Morris, Reif Nolte, Mattison Steele, Wyatt Talley, Kinsey Westfall, Decen Barton, Maya Fant, Takela Stewart, and Shalene Cardenas

Newhope: Alleigh Tucker

Star City: Megan Lovelis

Texarkana: Shannon Burkland, Crystal Morgan, and Coleman Newberry

Wickes: Miguel Ortiz

Winthrop: Autumn Hofmann

22 students graduate with Summa Cum Laude honors, meaning that they graduate with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.9 to 4.0. 15 students graduate with Magna Cum Laude honors meaning that they graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.75 to 3.89. 19 students graduate with Cum Laude honors meaning that they graduate with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 to 3.74.

Students graduating fall 2020 with Summa Cum Laude Honors:

Allyson Braley of Nash, Israel Bustamante of De Queen, Bryan Carrillo of Horatio, Johnny Carter Jr. of Foreman, Jesus Cisneros of De Queen, Alondra Galvez of Lockesburg, Haylin Holcombe of Dierks, Amber Hampton of Nashville, Rhonda Harton of Prairie Grove, Luis Herrera of De Queen, Riley House of Delight, Brandon Marrufo of Grannis, Sebastian Medina of Wickes, Damara Milianta – Peterson of Long Lake, Jordan Myers of Arkadelphia, Adam Nix of Nashville, Spencer Reed of Ashdown, Giovany Salgado of De Queen, Alberto Sandoval of Horatio, Garrett Sharp of Lockesburg, Andrew Shelton of Gillham, and Ronnie Willis of Horatio.

Students graduating fall 2020 with Magna Cum Laude Honors:

Allie Anderson of Ashdown, Carlos Aparicio of De Queen, Clayton Ashmore of Mineral Springs, Eduardo Benitez Jr. of De Queen, Sarah Carnes of Texarkana, Maria Dominguez Cuellar of De Queen, Lauren Gay of Prescott, Julie Gomez of De Queen, Orlando Herrera of De Queen, Destiny Jackson of Fayetteville, Talia Lambert of Springdale, Jasmine Montiel of De Queen, Connor Pearce of e Queen, Amitshaidet Victorio Bahena of De Queen, and Krista Womack of Ashdown.

Students graduating fall 2020 with Cum Laude Honors:

Morgan Allen of Dierks, Chantal Alonso of Dierks, Denise Angelese of Horatio, David Balderas of Ogden, Linda Carlisle of De Queen, Madison Falgout of Nash, Trinity Geierman, Susan Hill of Ashdown, Brittany Jones of Texarkana, Karina Lopez-Balderas of Gillham, Juan Montero of De Queen, Tyeisha Nelson Shoals of Foreman, Miguel Ortiz of Wickes, Kailee Parker of Nashville, Jerardo Perez of De Queen, Saleni Rojas-Duran of De Queen, Ashley Smallwood of De Queen, Ashley Thompson of Ashdown, and Blayn Turner of Dierks.

238 students graduate with a certificate of proficiency, technical certificate, or associate degree. Some students earned multiple certificates and degrees allowing for 373 fall 2020 awards.

UA Cossatot Students Graduating Fall 2020 Include (Listed with Highest Degree(s) Earned):

Amity: Sean Palavicini, Certificate of Proficiency: MIG Welding and Kaitlen Reid, Certificate of Proficiency: Emergency Medical Technician

Arkadelphia: Jordan Myers, Technical Certificate: General Studies

Ashdown: Allie Anderson, Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapy Assistant; Zack Bertling, Certificate of Proficiency: SMAW Welding, Ty Buchanan, Technical Certificate: Welding; Keara Cross, Associate of General Studies; Mychelle Crussell, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Colby Dellinger, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Christopher M. Dunn, Technical Certificate: Welding; Susan Hill, Associate of Applied Science: Administrative Assistant; Braden Jackson, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Jade Kendrick, Associate of Science: Teaching: K-6; Madison Mills, Associate of Science: Criminal Justice; Samantha Moss, Technical Certificate: General Studies; Alia Oliver, Certificate of Proficiency: Medical Transcription; Alexander Parson, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Spencer Reed, Associate of General Studies; Dara Sivley, Technical Certificate: General Studies; Timothy Smith, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine Repair and Climate Control; James Sullivan, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Matthew Swilley, Certificate of Proficiency: MIG Welding; Ashley Thompson, Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapy Assistant; Kentarian Williams, Certificate of Proficiency: SMAW Welding; Kristi Williams, Certificate of Proficiency: Emergency Medical Technician; and Krista Womack, Technical Certificate: Medical Assisting

Ben Lomond: Matthew Harrison, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices

Blevins: Ernan Gomez, Certificate of Proficiency: Industrial Motor Controls; and Katzumi Venegas Technical Certificate: Cosmetology

Castor: Angela Rushing, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing

Delight: Riley House, Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapy Assistant.

De Queen: Carlos Aparicio, Associate of Science: Teaching: K-6; William Athey, Certificate of Proficiency: Fluid Power; Anthony Behena, Certificate of Proficiency: Brakes, Suspension, and Steering; Eduardo Benitez Jr., Associate of Applied Science: General Technology; Hector Blanco, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine Repair and Climate Control; Guillermo Boquin, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine Repair and Climate Control; Israel Bustamante, Technical Certificate: Welding; Mackenzie Cardenas , Technical Certificate: General Studies; Linda Carlisle, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Yuliani Castillo, Technical Certificate: Medical Assisting; Elvis Castro, Certificate of Proficiency: SMAW Welding; Dillon Cheater, Technical Certificate: General Studies; David Cisneros, Certificate of Proficiency: SMAW Welding; Jesus Cisneros, Associate of Arts; Magali Cornelio, Certificate of Proficiency: Pipe Welding SMAW; Johnny Daley Jr., Certificate of Proficiency: TIG Welding; Maria Guadalupe, Associate of General Studies, Trinity Geierman, Technical Certificate: Health Professions; Julie Gomez, Technical Certificate: General Studies; Adrian Gonzalez, Certificate of Proficiency: SMAW welding, Jarel Gonzalez, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine Repair and Climate Control; Guadalupe Guerrero, Technical Certificate: General Studies; Johnny Guerro, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine Repair and Climate Control; Patrick Hanson, Certificate of Proficiency: Diesel Engines; Alexis Hernandez, Associate of Science: Business; Jonathon Hernandez, Certificate of Proficiency: Brakes, Suspension, and Steering; Jose Hernandez, Certificate of Proficiency: TIG Welding, Lissette Hernandez, Associate of General Studies; Marisol Hernandez, Technical Certificate: Health Professions; Luis Herrera, Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapy Assistant; Orlando Herrera, Technical Certificate: Automotive Service Technology; Jared Hickson, Certificate of Proficiency: Brakes, Suspension, and Steering; Blake Lacefield, Certificate of Proficiency; Brakes, Suspension, and Steering; Eda Lopez, Associate of Applied Science; General Technology, Toni Manzella, Associate of Applied Science: Occupational Therapy Assistant; Aaron Martinez, Certificate of Proficiency: Pipe Welding SMAW; Jose Martinez, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Leonardo Martinez, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Brian McKinney, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine Repair, and Climate Control; Juan Montero, Associate of Applied Science: General Technology; Jasmine Montiel, Associate of Applied Science: Criminal Justice; Fernando Morales, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine Performance: Cristopher Munoz, Certificate of Proficiency: Pipe Welding GMAW/ FCAW; Connor Pearce, Technical Certificate: Diesel Technology; Jerardo Perez, Technical Certificate: Welding; Diana Ramirez, Associate of General Studies; Guillermo Ramirez, Certificate of Proficiency: TIG Welding; Brency Ramirez Torres, Associate of Science: Business; Abel Resendiz, Technical Certificate: Welding; Tori Roberson, Certificate of Proficiency; Accounting; Saleni Rojas-Duran, Associate of Science: Business; Carlos Rojo Jr., Certificate of Proficiency: Diesel Brakes; Giovany Salgado, Technical Certificate: Pipe Welding; Misael Sanches, Certificate of Proficiency: Brakes, Suspension, and Steering; Yesenia Sanchez, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Ashley Smallwood, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Zuleyma Sotelo, Technical Certificate: Administrative Assistant; Jorge Luis Soto Ramirez, Certificate of Proficiency: Pipe Welding SMAW; Ulyses Tepozotlan, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Ariel Varela, Associate of General Studies; Randy Valazquez, Certificate of Proficiency: TIG Welding; Amitshaidet Victorio Bahena, Associate of Science: Teaching K-6; and Alan Villamil, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine Repair and Climate Control

Dierks: Morgan Allen, Associate of Applied Science: Occupational Therapy Assistant; Chantel Alonso, Associate of Applied Science: Accounting; Melodee Archer, Technical Certificate: Health Professions; Brayden Buck, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Jarod Cogburn, Certificate of Proficiency: Industrial Motor Controls; Haylin Halcombe, Associate of Arts; Elian Hernandez, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices, Ashley Jackson, Associate of Applied Science: Administrative Assistant; Jace Jackson, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Aiden Oglesby, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Jauger Spray, Certificate of Proficiency: Diesel Brakes; and Blayn Turner, Associate of General Studies

Dubach: Jalyn Crellin, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing

Eagletown: Kody Underwood, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing

El Dorado: Tracie Ford, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing

Fayetteville: Destiny Jackson, Associate of Science: Psychology

Foreman: Thomas Butler, Associate of Science: STEM, Johnny Carter Jr., Technical Certificate of General Studies; Kristan Mauger, Certificate of Proficiency: Medical Transcription; Tyeisha Nelson Shoals, Technical Certificate: Medical Assisting; Parker Smith, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Savannah Townsend, Associate of General Studies

Fouke: Myka Lemley, Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapy Assistant; Alyssa Sinyard, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing

Fulton: Summer King, Technical Certificate: Medical Assisting

Gillham: Karina Lopez-Balderas, Technical Certificate: General Studies; Caterra Morphew, Technical Certificate: Health Professions; Jeff Overturf, Certificate of Proficiency: MIG Welding; Andrew Shelton, Technical Certificate: Welding; Vanessa Whitney, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; and Travis Yarbrough, Certificate of Proficiency: Brakes, Suspension, and Steering

Grannis: Brent Craver, Certificate of Proficiency: Pipe Welding GTAW; Brandon Marrudo, Technical Certificate: Welding; Brently Morris, Certificate of Proficiency: Brakes, Suspension, and Steering

Homer: Sharonda Shelton, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing

Horatio: Denise Angeles, Technical Certificate: General Studies; Collin Blackmon, Associate of Science: Business; Carson Brackett, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Bryan Carrillo, Technical Certificate: Pipe Welding; Orey Chandler, Certificate of Proficiency: TIG Welding; Brandon Delgado, Certificate of Proficiency: MIG Welding; Javian Hernandez Jr., Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Manuel Hernandez, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Manuel Hernandez, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Austin House, Certificate of Proficiency: SMAW Welding Adrian Patlan, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Brittaney Salgado, Technical Certificate: General Studies; Alberto Sandoval, Technical Certificate: Pipe Welding; Amanda Taylor, Certificate of Proficiency: Accounting; Marco Tinajero, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Jacob Trusley, Certificate of Proficiency: Brakes, Suspension, and Steering; Ronnie Willis, Associate of Applied Science: General Technology

Idabel: Erica Ristrim, Certificate of Proficiency: Medical Transcription

Kirby: Elica Vasquez, Certificate of Proficiency: Medical Transcription

Lewisville: Lacey Morton, Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapy Assistant

Lockesburg: Cheyenne Ballard, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Landon Brackett, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Blayne Buster, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Alondra Galvez, Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapy Assistant; Holly Hamilton, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Cole Hanney. Certificate of Proficiency: MIG Welding; Jason Huesca, Certificate of Proficiency: TIG Welding; Amanda Jacobson, Certificate of Proficiency: Emergency Medical Technician; Autumn Jester, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Mason Marshall, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Tyler Miller, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Tamberlyn Nelson, Technical Certificate: Industrial Electricity; Amber Rapp, Associate of Applied Science: Business Management; Garrett Sharp, Technical Certificate: General Studies; Sarah Sharp, Associate of Applied Science: Teaching: K-6; Braden Smart, Technical Certificate: Industrial Technology; Kade Smith, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Courtney Thomas, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; and Rachael Vallee, Technical Certificate: Cosmetology

Long Lake: Damara Milianta-Peterson, Associate of General Studies

Marion: Kambri Phillips, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing

McCaskill: Cameron Lane, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Jorge Torres, Certificate of Proficiency: SMAW Welding; and Corta Young, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices

Mena: Joshua Swint, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine Repair & Climate Control and Christopher Thacker, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine repair and Climate Control

Mineral Springs: Clayton Ashmore, Technical Certificate: Automotive Service Technology; Rhonda Conway, Associate of Science: Teaching K-6; Christian Hart, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Katelyn Hipp, Technical Certificate: General Studies; and Betsabe Mercado, Technical Certificate: General Studies

Murfreesboro: Anthony Hill, Certificate of Proficiency: SMAW Welding; Jack Manlove Jr., Associate of General Studies; and Ryan Roberts, Associate of Science: Natural Resources

Nash: Allyson Braley, Associate of Applied Science: Occupational Therapy Assistant and Madison Falgout, Associate of Applied Science: Occupational Therapy Assistant

Nashville: Zachary Backus, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Deven Barton, Certificate of Proficiency: Accounting; Heidi Buck, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Karina Cogburn, Technical Certificate: General Studies; Aubrie Combs, Technical Certificate: General Studies; Taurean Coulter Jr., Associate of Arts; Casen Drummond, Associate of General Studies; Amber Hampton, Technical Certificate: Cosmetology; Jhamilex Hernandez-Ortiz, Associate of Applied Science: Administrative Assistant; Rosalinda Hernandez, Technical Certificate: General Studies, Fabian Mercado, Certificate of Proficiency: TIG Welding; Kimberly Moore, Certificate of Proficiency: Medical Transcription; Adam Nix, Technical Certificate: Welding; Jorge Padilla, Technical Certificate: Welding; Kailee Parker, Associate of Applied Science: Accounting; Jhonny Pioquinto, Certificate of Proficiency: SMAW Welding, Hilda Sanchez, Associate of Science: Teaching K-6; Savannah Smead, Associate of Arts; Kymberly Stanek, Certificate of Proficiency: Engine Repair and Climate Control; Shania Swift, Technical Certificate: General Studies; and Levi Wester, Certificate of Diesel Engines

Newhope: Brian Burk, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices; Andrew Jacoby, Certificate of Proficiency: MIG Welding; and Karley Stapp, Technical Certificate: General Studies

Ogden: David Balderas, Technical Certificate: Welding; Ashley Garrett, Certificate of Proficiency: Child Development; and Micah Stafford, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices

Ozan: Margaret Cooper, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing

Prairie Grove: Rhonda Harton, Technical Certificate: General Studies

Prescott: Lauren Gay, Associate of Applied Science: Occupational Therapy Assistant and Jacob Ojeda, Certificate of Proficiency: SMAW Welding

Springdale: Talia Lambert, Associate of Applied Science: Accounting

Texarkana: Sarah Carnes, Associate of Applied Science: Occupational Therapy Assistant; Minerva Gray, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Jordan Hatley, Certificate of Proficiency: Emergency Medical Technician; Brittany Jones, Technical Certificate: Health Professions; Katherine Malca, Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapy Assistant; Kayla Mills, Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapy Assistant; Coleman Newberry, Technical Certificate: Welding; Grant Nolen, Technical Certificate: Health Professions; Jayci Pettigrew, Associate of Applied Science: Occupational Therapy Assistant; Samantha Spears, Associate of Applied Science: Occupational Therapy Assistant; Jackie Taylor, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; Kylie Thrash, Associate of Applied Science: Occupational Therapy Assistant; Shaglista Ware, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing; and Sherica Williams, Associate of Applied Science: Registered Nursing

Umpire: Christopher Moore, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices

Wickes: Hector Hernandez, Certificate of Proficiency: TIG Welding, Sebastian Medina, Technical Certificate: Welding; Aubry Reel, Certificate of Proficiency: Medical Transcription; Vanessa Rundel, Technical Certificate: Business Management

Winthrop: Kiarra Young, Associate of Science: Business

De Queen man accused of killing mother, sister and stepfather in Madison County       2/25/21
Hunter Chenoweth

BENTON – A De Queen man suspected of killing three people and abducting a child in Madison County on Tuesday has been arrested following a brief standoff with police.
The Arkansas State Police say 22-year-old Hunter Chenoweth of De Queen was arrested Tuesday night for his suspected involvement in the homicides and abduction.

According to authorities, deputies with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office were contacted Tuesday afternoon by an individual reporting three people were dead inside a residence on a county road southwest of Huntsville. The homicide victims were identified as Chenoweth’s mother, 51-year-old Tami Lynn Chenoweth; his stepfather, 59-year-old James Stanley McGhee; and his sister, 26-year-old Cheyene Chenoweth.

Special agents with the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division were called to the crime scene and began developing leads in the case. The initial investigation prompted a statewide search for two vehicles known to have been at the residence earlier in the day and possibly driven away from the crime scene by the killer.  Information was also obtained identifying a child believed to have been at the home who was abducted by the killer or a woman who had also been at the crime scene.

State troopers assigned to the Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division found one of the vehicles abandoned in Faulkner County along Interstate 40 near Mayflower. Troopers secured the truck and transported it to state police headquarters where special agents began searching for evidence associated with the Madison County homicides and child abduction.

Around 10 p.m. Tuesday night, Highway Patrol Division troopers spotted a van matching the description of the second crime scene vehicle traveling westbound along Interstate 30 near Benton.  As state troopers initiated a traffic stop, a passenger in the van exited the vehicle armed with a rifle and began verbally provoking the troopers who had made the traffic stop.  Simultaneously other troopers moved-in from behind the gunman and were able to arrest the suspect. He was then identified as 22-year-old Hunter Chenoweth of De Queen.

The driver of the van stopped by state police was a 25 year-old De Queen woman whose name has not been released. Also in the van was the abducted infant, less than one year-old.

The child was unharmed and later released to Department of Human Services. The female driver was questioned by state police and released.

Chenoweth is being held at the Saline County Detention Center while the homicide investigation continues today.  Formal charges associated with the homicides will be determined by the Madison County prosecuting attorney.

Court records list Chenoweth near De Queen. He was arrested in February of 2020 in Fayetteville for the charge of domestic battery as well as endangering the welfare of a minor. According to online court records, those charges stem from an incident that same month in which Chenoweth is accused of stabbing his stepfather.

Boil Order Alert issued for some Sevier County Water Association customers       2/25/21

DE QUEEN – The Arkansas Department of Health has notified us a Boil Order Alert has been issued by the Sevier County Water Association for the approximately 52 service connections west of the Rolling Fork River. This order was issued as a precautionary measure because of the possibility that contaminated water may have entered the distribution system as a result of 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 one of two bacteriological samples indicates that the water is free of contamination and an adequate disinfectant level is established throughout the distribution system.

Dierks School District to consider four-day school week       2/25/21

DIERKS – Officials with the Dierks School District are considering the switch to a four-day school week.

Members of the JoAnn Walters Elementary and Dierks High School PPC presented the Dierks School Board with a staff survey concerning a 4-day school week.

According to the survey, 90-percent of the staff was in favor of a 4-day week. The PPC reported it would help eliminate teacher and student absenteeism, as well as, help with the recruitment and retention of teachers.

According to the PPC members, the next step will be to survey the parents.

If approved, the Dierks School District would be the latest of several area schools to transition to a four-day school week. Cossatot River School District currently operates four days a week. Last month the Mineral Springs School District approved a switch to a four-day school week beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. The decision was made to attract more students to the district while also improving overall attendance among both students and faculty.

With nice weather here, don’t forget Millwood Lake Fishing Challenge       2/25/21

MILLWOOD LAKE – Not too many thoughts were focused on fishing last week when near record snow and freezing temperatures blanketed Southwest Arkansas and most of the rest of the state. But, with temperatures much warmer this week, spring fishing is probably on the minds of many. And the Little River County Chamber of Commerce is reminding area anglers that Millwood Lake is a great place to go – not just for fish, but also for the chance to win some serious cash.

This month the Little River County Chamber of Commerce kicked off the first ever Millwood Fishing Challenge. Through this new event local anglers will have a chance to win thousands of dollars in cash prizes.

The challenge takes place on Millwood Lake and began on the first day of February. And 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 will all be wearing 2021 yellow tags and will be released into Millwood Lake just prior to the challenge start date.

​​The challenge provides anglers the opportunity to catch yellow-tagged fish that can be redeemed for cash prizes.

The yellow tags will 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 fish have been tagged by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and released into Millwood Lake. No one knows the exact location of the release points except certain organizers.

The prize fish include bass, catfish (of any kind) and crappie. ONLY bream will be tagged for the youth angler challenge. All tagged fish will be have to be checked-in alive and with their yellow tag in place. No commercial fishing equipment is allowed and, obviously, all state laws and regulations must be followed. No guided fishing trips are allowed to participate in this event.

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 young anglers weekend will be held in April.

Visit the Little River County Chamber of Commerce online at www.ashdownarkansas.org/millwoodfishingchallenge for more details.

Sevier County Quorum Court to meet tomorrow to vote on alcohol ordinances       2/25/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet in special session tomorrow make its final decision on two ordinances related to alcohol sales in the county.

In specific, the first of those two ordinances must address the permitting process for businesses and restaurants wishing to sell or serve alcohol in Sevier County. The second would either allow or prohibit restaurants or other businesses from selling liquor by the glass for onsite consumption – as opposed to packaged sales off-site consumption.

The quorum court’s regular meeting earlier this month was attended by several dozen people – mostly local business owners – who showed up to press the quorum court to act quickly on voting in those ordinances. Several business owners spoke to the delay and how it’s preventing local businesses from beginning the permitting process to sell or serve alcohol within areas of the county not governed by municipal authorities. So far only De Queen and Lockesburg have passed their own ordinances to allow that process to begin. Ordinances passed by the quorum court, however, would only affect the unincorporated parts of the county.

Several business owners in attendance at the earlier meeting also expressed their opposition to the quorum court advancing any prohibitively expensive permit fees or other revenue collection mechanisms such as a percentage collected from yearly gross revenue.

Justice Angie Walker said she plans to advance an ordinance at Friday’s meeting without any additional revenue collection and with only a $25 annual permit fee.

The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse and is open to the public.

CADC opens up utility assistance through winter LIHEAP program       2/25/21

DE QUEEN – The Central Arkansas Development Council announced on Tuesday Crisis Assistance applications for the 2021 Winter Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are now being accepted for several counties in Arkansas.

According to a press release, both Regular and Crisis Assistance applications will continue to be accepted until funds are exhausted in the following in Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties.

For additional information about dates, times and locations visit cadc.com. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program assists low-income households with home energy costs by administering the Regular Assistance and Crisis Intervention Programs.

Each program provides financial assistance to eligible households with a one-time per program payment to the household’s energy supplier or, under certain circumstances, to the applicant. The Crisis Intervention Program only provides assistance to eligible households facing energy-related emergencies.

The mission of CADC is to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty, to help vulnerable populations achieve their potential, and to build strong communities in Arkansas through community action.

National FFA Week is a time to recognize contributions of youth ag leaders       2/25/21

DE QUEEN – All across the state of Arkansas, FFA chapters are celebrating National FFA Week. Whether they are educating fellow students on ag’s contribution to their dinner plates, driving tractors to school or holding fundraisers for community projects, they have one goal in mind: promoting agriculture.

Since 1928 when Arkansas launched its FFA program, the organization has grown to over 230 chapters. This week Arkansas’ 16,000 FFA members will join more than 760,000 fellow FFA members nationwide in National FFA Week participating in National FFA Week activities at local, state and national levels, showing their passion for agriculture.

The National FFA organization embraces more than 93 years of FFA traditions while looking forward to the organization’s future. Designated a national week in 1947, the week of George Washington’s birthday, National FFA Week runs from Saturday to Saturday and gives FFA members an opportunity to educate the public about agriculture.

During the week, chapters conduct a variety of activities to help others in their schools and communities learn about FFA and agricultural education. Today, FFA provides the next generation of leaders who will change the world. As the top school-based youth leadership development organization in the nation, FFA helps young people meet new agricultural challenges by developing their unique talents and exploring their interests in a broad range of career pathways.

FFA members are our future leaders, our future food suppliers, our future innovators, chemists, biologists and more. Whether it is through service projects or community gatherings, National FFA Week is a time for FFA members to raise awareness about the role the National FFA Organization plays in the development of agriculture’s future leaders and the importance of agricultural education.

Arkansans aged 65 and older can now receive COVID-19 vaccinations       2/25/21

Arkansans aged 65 to 69 are now eligible to begin receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations this week, according to state officials.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced this expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations during his weekly update Tuesday afternoon. Hutchinson said the state remains in Phase 1-B of its vaccine plan. Previously, only Arkansans aged 70 and older, as well as educators, were eligible for a vaccine under 1-B. Hutchinson’s announcement on Tuesday opens COVID-19 vaccines to all Arkansans 65 and older. This expansion is expected to make vaccines available to an additional 115,000 Arkansans.

Hutchinson also explained the American flags currently waving at half-mast across Arkansas. He said the state was joining the nation in mourning following the grim milestone marked in the United States this week. On Monday the nation topped 500,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. That total is higher than all the Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined.

Hutchinson added that the expansion of Phase 1-B will follow previous guidelines with vaccines to be provided through participating community pharmacies. (In Sevier County, that includes the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy and, in Little River County, the Walmart pharmacy).

Hutchinson then provided a brief update on the state’s vaccination efforts. Of the more than 855,000 doses received by Arkansas, more than 534,000 have been given – a current rate of around 60 percent.

The press conference ended with an update on the latest statewide COVID-19 figures. On Tuesday, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an addition 834 cases of COVID-19 across the state. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to more than 316,000. Deaths increased by 14 over the same period to 5,373. Hospitalizations fell by 43, leaving 545 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. Active cases also declined, dropping by 92 for 4,807 confirmed and probable active cases in the state. Tests performed over the previous 24-hour period totaled around 4,500. More than 215,000 COVID-19 tests have been performed in Arkansas so far this month.

Youth livestock exhibitors in Arkansas warned of PED virus       2/25/21

Youth who show swine in Arkansas are being warned about Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PED, that may affect their pigs.

Because PED is caused by a very contagious virus, the disease can get out of hand quickly, according Heidi Ward, extension veterinarian for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. She added that the fact that the current cases involve show animals is no surprise because these animals are often under stress from traveling.

She said the current cold temperatures add an extra layer to the environmental stress that can lead to disease susceptibility.

Ward noted that Oklahoma is now requiring a certificate of veterinary inspection, or CVI, within 72 hours before arriving at a show.

Communication between states about disease outbreaks is a vital part of biosecurity. By getting the word out now and observing restrictions, livestock show organizers hope they can stop the virus from spreading.

Those who show swine are urged to keep healthy swine away from those that are sick and quarantine swine that have been at shows. While adult pigs may have mild to severe diarrhea from the virus, the diarrhea is nearly always fatal to baby pigs.

Ward emphasized that this virus doesn’t affect any other species and that pork is safe for consumption.

Arkansans warned of utility scams following last week’s winter storms       2/25/21

LITTLE ROCK – After Arkansas’s historic snowfall melted away and the temperatures returned to more consistent weather, Arkansans around the state were left to deal with pesky scam callers pretending to be utility providers. Scam artists will pose as utility companies and prey on unsuspecting Arkansans then ask for immediate payment over the phone. This scam causes far too many Arkansans to lose money.

Law enforcement agencies are asking Arkansans to be skeptical of unsolicited calls where the person is demanding immediate payment by phone and claiming that a water, electric or gas bill is late.

If you receive one of these calls, the best thing to do is contact the utility company directly by calling the listed number and verifying the amount owed.

If payment is due, drop it off at the utility office or an authorized payment location. Or pay online on the utility company’s website with a credit card or call the company directly. Consider participating in an automated bank account draft system, if it is offered. Or just mail the payment to the company directly.

The scammer may also request that the recipient purchase gift cards or prepaid debit cards to pay off the amount owed. The scammer will ask for the code on the purchased card, which gives them complete access to money on the card. In most cases, once the prepaid card money is depleted, it cannot be recovered. Remember, utilities will never require you to pay by gift card or prepaid debit card – only scammers do that.

Arkansans should notify the company if they have been contacted by one of these scammers. If Arkansans have paid money to the scammer, file a complaint with the Attorney General.

For more information or to file a compliant, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       2/25/21

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 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of six cases yesterday, dropping the current total to 56. Overall cases grew to 2,603 while deaths remained at 28.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported no change in its active COVID-19 caseload, which remains at nine. Total cases grew slightly to 1,122. Deaths were unchanged at 40.

Howard County reported a net increase of two active cases on Wednesday for a current total of 25. Overall cases increased to 1,523. Deaths remain at 24.

Polk County reported an additional death due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, raising the toll from the virus to 63 since the pandemic began. Active cases in Polk County fell by five yesterday and now number 32. Total cases grew slightly to 1,868.

Statewide, the Department of Health recorded an additional 803 cases of COVID-19 across Arkansas on Wednesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to more than 317,000. Active cases saw another day of consecutive decline, falling by 131 to number 4,676 currently confirmed or probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by 10 to 5,387 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations saw a sizable decline, falling by 49 to leave 496 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

De Queen Public Schools closed today for professional development, campus cleaning       02/23/21
DE QUEEN – The De Queen School District will not host onsite instruction today and will transition to virtual learning for the day. District officials said this virtual day was originally planned for all students to allow for a free ACT test for De Queen High School juniors as well as professional development for staff and a deep cleaning of the district’s facilities and campuses.
There will be no bus routes ran today. Onsite instruction will resume as normal tomorrow, Feb. 24.
Following last week’s winter storms, all other area schools returned to onsite instruction on Monday or today. Students at Ashdown, Dierks and Foreman Public Schools return to onsite instruction today after all three school districts were forced to close campuses yesterday due to questionable road conditions as well as water issues.

The Dierks School District is asking families that need to continue virtual learning because of water-related issues to contact the administration office during school hours. That office can be reached by calling (870) 286-3234.

Collin Raye coming to Texarkana March 5       02/23/21

TEXARKANA – Collin Raye is set to return to the area for a performance in Texarkana next weekend.

The De Queen-born country music legend will perform at Whiskey River Country in Texarkana on Friday, March 5. The concert is set to begin at 9 p.m. and continue to 11:30 that night.

Tickets can be purchased at www.tickets.holdmyticket.com.

Collin still continues to crank out soulful, heartfelt material with a richness that is signature to his vocals alone. With 24 top ten records, 16 #1 hits, and having been a 10 time male vocalist of the year nominee, this electrifying performer of his era remains one of the great voices of the time.

Sevier County Quorum Court to vote on alcohol ordinances during Friday special session       02/23/21
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet in special session this week to make its final decision on ordinances related to alcohol sales in the county.
The quorum court was scheduled to meet last week to vote on those ordinances but winter storms forced the meeting to be rescheduled. The meeting is now set for this Friday starting at 10 a.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse.
During a discussion earlier this month that lasted over an hour during the quorum court’s regular monthly meeting, justices of the peace debated two ordinances needed to allow alcohol sales to begin within the unincorporated areas of Sevier County. Although Sevier County residents voted overwhelmingly to go wet last year, Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control nonetheless requires county and city governments to pass local ordinances regulating those sales. The quorum court has so far declined to advance those needed ordinances as they continue to debate the specifics of those ordinances’ regulations.
In specific, the first of those two ordinances must address the permitting process for businesses and restaurants wishing to sell or serve alcohol in Sevier County. The second would either allow or prohibit restaurants or other businesses from selling liquor by the glass for onsite consumption – as opposed to packaged sales off-site consumption.

The meeting was unusual for the number of county residents in attendance. Several dozen people – mostly local business owners – showed up to press the quorum court to act quickly on voting in those ordinances. Several business owners spoke to the delay and how it’s preventing local businesses from beginning the permitting process to sell or serve alcohol within areas of the county not governed by municipal authorities. So far only De Queen and Lockesburg have passed their own ordinances to allow that process to begin. Ordinances passed by the quorum court, however, would only affect the unincorporated parts of the county.

Several business owners in attendance at the previous meeting also expressed their opposition to the quorum court advancing any prohibitively expensive permit fees or other revenue collection mechanisms such as a percentage collected from yearly gross revenue.

Justice Angie Walker said she plans to advance an ordinance at Friday’s meeting without any additional revenue collection and with only a $25 annual permit fee.

The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse and is open to the public.

UA Cossatot Board of Governors welcomes Dixon, Tate       02/23/21

DE QUEEN – The University of Arkansas Cossatot has announced two new board members have been selected to serve on the college’s Board of Visitors. The two new members include Barbara Dixon of Lockesburg and Brenda Tate of Ashdown.  The decision to appoint these new members was finalized in November.

Barbara Dixon was born and raised in Texarkana and graduated from Liberty-Eylau High School in 1979.  After high school, she attended Texarkana Community College. She has lived in Lockesburg since 1984 and currently serves as Branch President of the Bank of Lockesburg, having worked in the banking field for 35 years.

Barbara said she is proud to be a part of the Lockesburg community and appreciates the value of having the former Lockesburg School Campus again being used for educational purposes. She has also served as Secretary/Treasurer for the Lockesburg Lions Club since 2016. She is married to Kenny Dixon and together they have two sons and three granddaughters.

Brenda Tate is from Ashdown and graduated from Ashdown High School in 1975. In 1978, she graduated from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.  After teaching for 41 years, Brenda retired last year from Ashdown Elementary School. She has one son and three grandchildren.

UA Cossatot’s Board of Visitors includes Angie Walker, Barbara Horn, Dr. Glen Lance, Jay Dooley, Jimmy Tumey, Kathy Beavert, Robert Martinez, Tim Pinkerton, Tyler Davis, and now Barbara Dixon and Brenda Tate.

For more information about UA Cossatot’s Board of Visitors, contact UA Cossatot’s Assistant to the Chancellor, Wendy Garcia, at wgarcia@cccua.edu

Local group seeking to create “Welcome to De Queen” mural       02/23/21

DE QUEEN – A team of area organizers have launched an inclusive local group and announced plans this month 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. After their most recent meeting held in downtown De Queen last on Feb. 5, 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. The next meeting was scheduled for Feb. 18 in De Queen but was cancelled due to last week’s winter storms. A future meeting date will be announced. For questions or to become involved in the mural or council itself, email DQunity@gmail.com

Filing period for school board elections now underway       02/23/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Clerk’s Office is sharing information in relation to this year’s upcoming school election. The filing period for that election begins this week.

There are several school board positions to be elected in 2021, including Zone 1 in the Horatio School District currently held by Joe Jones. This year’s election also includes Zone 4 in the Horatio School District – held by Sherri Hodges – and Zone 3 in the De Queen School District, currently held by Gloria Caldwell.

The filing dates for School Board Candidates began this week and ends at 12 noon on March 1. Filing requirements include an affidavit of eligibility and a political practices pledge as well as a petition with at least 20 signatures.

The last day to register to vote in the May School Elections will be April 19. Address or name changes to a voter’s existing registration must be updated prior to election day. Identification will be required from all voters during the election. Early voting begins the week before the election on Tuesday, May 18.

Anyone interested in being an election worker in the upcoming election should contact the county clerk’s office at 642-2852. County Clerk Debbie Akin invites anyone with questions to call her office at that number.

UA Cossatot’s Career Pathways accepting new student applicants       02/23/21

DE QUEEN – Career Pathways at UA Cossatot is seeking applications to help local student-parents with a host of college-related resources.

The Career Pathways department at UA Cossatot was created in July of 2005 and still exists today to financially assist students, who are parents, in achieving their personal and professional goals. The program’s goal includes helping student-parents develop the skills they need to boost their resumes or job applications. Students and potential students who are parents are encouraged to contact the Career Pathways department at UA Cossatot to determine Career Pathways eligibility.

Students who qualify for Career Pathways services can receive gas vouchers, financial assistance with childcare, certain testing fees, school supplies, and even help with tuition and fees.

To qualify for Career Pathways, the student must be a parent and be a citizen of Arkansas and the United States. Annual income requirements vary upon family size to receive Career Pathways services.

The Career Pathways department at UA Cossatot includes Career Pathways Director Crystal Bell-Hunter, Career Pathways Site Coordinator Linda Young, and Career Pathways Site Coordinator Hanna Sharp.

Crystal Bell-Hunter says, “College can at times be financially stressful, especially for non-traditional students. Career Pathways is here to help with that, and we offer many services to help students continue on their path to a brighter future.”

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Career Pathways at UA Cossatot at 870-584-1119 or e-mail Career Pathways at careerpathways@cccua.edu

Arkansas House passes bill to make unemployment benefits tax-exempt       02/23/21

LITTLE ROCK – On Monday, the Arkansas House of Representatives passed SB236, which exempts unemployment benefits paid in 2020 and 2021 from state income tax. Last year, due to the pandemic, more than 280,000 Arkansans received unemployment benefits. Currently, state income taxes are not withheld.

The House also passed a bill to address withholdings in future years. HB1049 allows the state to withhold state income taxes from unemployment benefits starting in 2022.

The House also passed the following bills on Monday:

HB1361, which would exempt COVID-19 relief loans for small businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), from state income tax.

HB1063 allows the expanded use of telemedicine in the state to continue after the current emergency order expires.

And finally HB1317, which makes it a Class D felony to steal a postal package from the porch or premises of a residence. Currently, the offense is a misdemeanor.

The House will convene again today at 1 p.m.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       02/23/21

DE QUEEN – 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 saw a net decrease of three cases yesterday, dropping the current total to 48. Overall cases grew by 13 to 2,571 while deaths remained at 28.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two fewer active cases for a current total of eight. Total cases grew to 1,117. Deaths were unchanged at 40.

Howard County reported five fewer active cases on Monday for a current total of 24. Overall cases increased to 1,506. Deaths remain at 24.

Active cases in Polk County fell by five yesterday and now number 39. Total cases grew to 1,859 while deaths remained at 62.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a single net decrease in active cases on Monday for a current total of 211. Cumulative cases rose to 3,764. Deaths remain at 63.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported 245 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. That raises the statewide cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to just under 316,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 771 for a current total of 4,899. Deaths increased by six over the same 24-hour period for a total of 5,363. Hospitalizations did see an increase on Monday, raising by 11 to 588 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Several weather-related closures for Monday; Little River RDA Water System remains under Boil Order Alert       02/22/21
Several closures related to last week’s winter storms remain in effect for today. That includes Ashdown Public Schools, which announced Sunday evening its campuses would remain closed due to unsafe road conditions on side roads in Little River County.

Students will continue instruction virtually today. Students are asked to make sure all work packets have been completed and log into Google Classroom.

The district said it will continue to assess the situation as road conditions improve.

The Foreman School District is also closed today due to ongoing water issues in Little River County. All district staff were asked to report today at 9 a.m. to prepare for the return to onsite instruction on Tuesday. Students in the Foreman School District will continue to work virtually.

Crews with the Little River County RDA Water System have spent all weekend fixing a number of water leaks caused by last week’s arctic temperatures. The damage caused a loss of water throughout much of the system and required boil orders to go into effect. That order remains in effect and customers on the RDA water system in Little River County are asked to conserve water as much as possible at this time.

All other area schools return to classes today. Cossatot River School District, which operates on a four-day school week, will resume onsite instruction on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The Cossatot River School District is also reopen today.

After severe winter weather cancelled all sanitation routes last week, the City of De Queen is resuming trash pickup beginning today.

Sevier County Rural Water Association asking customers to check for leaks      02/22/21

The Sevier County Rural Water Association is asking its customers – particularly in the Gillham, Horatio, Lockesburg and Ben Lomond areas – to check for leaks and report any they find. The rural water provider said it is supplying several times more water than the usual demand level.

The Sevier County Rural Water Association’s office can be reached by calling (870) 642-5289.

Farmers, ranchers use warmer weather to take stock after last week’s winter storms      02/22/21

A week of warmer temperatures will give those in local agriculture a window to assess damage and losses caused by a week of record cold and snowfall.

Single-digit wind chills, freezing water in pipes heavy snowfall on roofs were just a few elements of last week’s winter storms to cause concern for poultry and cattle operations.

Low temperatures recorded last Monday and Tuesday mornings to the National Weather Service included minus 5 in De Queen. In addition, the winter storm dumped at least six inches of snow across Southwest Arkansas.

For poultry growers in the area, the biggest problems were having water pipes freezing and watering equipment not working. The Cooperative Extension Service reported growers in Arkansas were forced to put space heaters and heat lamps in control rooms to keep pipes from freezing solid and to allow electronic control equipment to keep operating.

Many growers got very little sleep in order to check waterlines and birds and keep their livelihood going. It also remains to be seen how much the bill will total from the effects of last week’s winter storms. In reporting by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, one producer estimated the cost of heating a single poultry house during those conditions at between $1,000 and $1,500 every day. For producers working on tight budget those kind of costs can have a huge impact on farm profits.

Roof collapse was also a big concern with weather like this, though we received no reports of that happening locally. Many will remember the ice storm of 2000 and the number of poultry houses that collapsed due to heavy loads of snow on their roofs.

Cows were also at risk during the snowy and frigid conditions. We received one report last week of a rancher in De Queen who lost several calves due to the freezing temperatures. Cows in good body condition and have a good winter coat were fairly tolerant of cold weather, according to specialists with the Cooperative Extension Service. Unfortunately, many Arkansas cattle are at a disadvantage because they hadn’t time to adapt to extremely cold temperatures.

With temperatures getting back to normal and the ground thawing, ag specialists in Arkansas suggest feeding areas may need to be relocated. Ranchers may want to start unrolling hay to keep feeding sites distributed over larger areas to avoid creating deep mud tracks.

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught shares weekly update; House to vote on bills to make unemployment benefits, business relief lones tax-exempt      02/22/21

State Representative DeAnn Vaught, whose district encompasses Little River County and most of Sevier, has provided another update on legislative activities in the State Capitol.

Vaught and fellow legislators said they’re extending their deepest appreciation to the esstential workers who kept Arkansas running last week – from the workers clearing roads to the utility employees doing their best to keep houses warm.

The General Assembly took an extended recess due to the winter weather across Arkansas last week. However, House members plan to be back at the Capitol on today.

In the upcoming days, the House is expected to vote on two tax relief bills which were advanced by the House Revenue and Taxation Committee earlier this month.

SB236 would exempt unemployment benefits paid in 2020 and 2021 from state income tax.

In previous years, an average of 45,000 Arkansans received unemployment. Last year, due to the pandemic, more than 280,000 Arkansans received unemployment benefits. That totaled approximately 18 percent of Arkansas taxpayers and $2.6 billion in payments. Taxes are not withheld from unemployment benefits.

SB236 would ensure those Arkansans would not have to pay state taxes on benefits they received this year and in 2020. The Department of Finance and Administration estimates the bill will have a $51 million impact on revenue for the current fiscal year. SB236 passed the Senate with unanimous support.

Another tax relief bill before the House next week is HB1361.

HB1361 would exempt COVID-19 relief loans for small businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), from state income tax.

More than 42,000 PPP loans totaling $3.3 billion were distributed to small businesses in Arkansas last year. These loans are currently exempt from federal income tax.

The unemployment rate in Arkansas is now 4.2%. Recent reports show our state general revenue is $298.7 million or 8.4% more than this time last year.

As a reminder, Arkansans can always view floor proceedings online at www.arkansashouse.org.

2020 marks record-breaking bear harvest in Arkansas; state officials to discuss opening up bear season in Southwest Arkansas for 2022     02/22/21

In the world of wildlife management, harvest records usually are broken by small percentages. But bear hunters in Arkansas broke the record of 577 set during the 2018 season by taking 665 in 2020 – a jump of 15 percent.

The increase of almost 100 bears was largely due to two factors: The fact that there was a sparse mast crop across the state and the fact that state officials increased the bear zone quota from 345 bears to 500 bears, according to Myron Means, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission large carnivore program coordinator.

Archers took 536 bears (80 percent of the total), hunters using muzzleloaders took 77 (12 percent) and modern gun users took 52 (8 percent).

It’s nothing that’s really unique to Arkansas but it’s kind of prominent to bear hunting in general, the fact that 80 percent of the bears are harvested with archery equipment.

Bear season began with archery Sept. 26. Of the 665 total, 348 were males and 317 were females. Three of those were harvested in Sevier County, 10 in Howard County and in Polk County – which is one of the hot spots for bear hunting in Arkansas – 43 were taken.

More territory for bear hunters could open in the near future in southern Arkansas.

Right now the only open bear zones in the State are zones 1, 2, 5 and 5A. AGFC officials hope to open up zone 3 and zone 4 open for more bear hunting in the next couple of years. Zone 3 includes most of Sevier and Hempstead Counties as well as all of Little River County.

If enough field research work is completed next summer, the AGFC intends to propose regulations for the 2022 bear hunting season in zones 3 and 4. If approved, that would mean about 80 percent of the state would be open to bear hunting.

Learn to Burn seminar scheduled in Mena next month       02/22/21

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host a Learn to Burn session in Mena next month.

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       02/22/21

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 net decrease of eight cases yesterday, dropping the current total to 51. Overall cases were unchanged at 2,558 while deaths remained at 28.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two fewer active cases for a current total of 10. Total cases grew to 1,116. Deaths were unchanged at 40.

Howard County reported fiver fewer active case on Sunday for a current total of 44. Overall cases increased to 1,505. Deaths remain at 24.

Active cases in Polk County fell by nine yesterday and now number 44. Total cases grew to 1,856 while deaths remained at 62.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a net increase of two cases on Sunday for a current total of 212. Cumulative cases rose to 3,761. Deaths remain at 63.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported 284 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. That raises the statewide cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to over 315,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 408 for a current total of 5,670 – the lowest figure in months. Deaths increased by nine over the same 24-hour period for a total of 5,357. Hospitalizations also declined, falling by 28 to leave 577 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Friday weather-related closings in listening area       02/19/21

Numerous closures remain in effect in the listening area today from the effects of this week’s winter storms.De Queen Public Schools will continue with only virtual learning today due to the number of questionable secondary roads in the district. Classes are expected to resume at De Queen Public Schools on Monday, Feb. 22.

Ashdown Public Schools will also continue will virtual learning only for students and staff today. All buildings on the Ashdown campus will remain closed Friday. On-site instruction will resume Monday, Feb. 22.

The Dierks School District will remain closed today. Both elementary and high school students are asked to complete their virtual learning assignments. Internet and power issues have hampered virtual learning for students in the Dierks School District, but school officials say makeup policies are in place for any missed assignments. Classes will resume on Monday, Feb. 22.

Horatio Schools are also remaining closed to onsite instruction through Friday and will pivot to online learning. Horatio students are advised to watch for contact from their teachers. Classes will resume on Monday.

The Cossatot River School District will remain today. Onsite classes will resume at Cossatot River on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Foreman Schools are also closed today. Students at Foreman are encouraged to access their virtual learning platform and stay current with their class work. Classes resume on Monday, Feb. 22.

All UofA Campuses have been closed today due to the weather. Classes are set to resume on Monday, Feb. 22.


There are a number of non-school closings for Friday in the listening area as well.

Pilgrim’s announced it will operate its De Queen complex today with a two-hour delayed start. First processing began at 6:40 a.m. this morning. Second processing starts at 8:45. The second shift at Pilgrim’s will work regular hours on Friday.

The Tyson Foods plant in Grannis will not operate the remainder of the week. Plant Manager Tim Norman said the complex plans to resume full operations Sunday night. Sanitation should report to the Grannis plant Sunday afternoon at the regular daily start times.

Tyson Foods plant in Broken Bow, Okla., will not operate the rest of the week, according to Plant Manager Chris McKinney. Tyson’s in Broken Bow will start up Sunday night and process as normal through next week.

All Husqvarna facilities (L&G, HPN, and Warehouse) remain closed for the rest of the week. Husqvarna in Nashville will resume normal operating hours on Monday.

The Cossatot River Senior Citizens Center in Wickes is closed today.

The De Queen City Hall is open today. However, no sanitation routes will run this week and will resume on Monday, Feb. 22.

The Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill are also back open, according to County Judge Greg Ray.

Ayers Cleaners is open again today in De Queen and Ashdown.

De Queen Head Start and the Little Bitty City & Enrichment Center will be closed until Monday, Feb. 22.

Fun and Learnland Pre-School & Day Care and Sevier County Developmental Center on College Drive in De Queen will remain closed until Monday, Feb. 22.

The Minority Affairs Council meeting scheduled for last night at Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen has been postponed. The meeting will be rescheduled for a later date.

Above-freezing temps to bring end to snow, ice in Southwest Arkansas       02/19/21

The listening area is almost out of the woods after winter storms brought near record-setting snowfall and subfreezing temperatures to the region.

Yesterday Southwest Arkansas saw its first day of above-freezing temperatures in nearly a week. That trend will continue today with a high of 38. There’s just one more night of bitterly cold temps with tonight’s low expected to be 15 degrees.

A warm weekend with highs in the mid to high 40s, however, will ensure the snow disappears about as quick as it arrived. Lows this weekend will remain at or just below the freezing point but not cold enough to keep the snow around much longer. Chances for rain on Sunday will ensure the last bit of snow is gone for good – well, at least for now.

Looking back at history, this week’s winter storms are a once-in-a-generation event for Southwest Arkansas. And this week, we saw some of the coldest days in Sevier County’s history.

The official temperature reading of -5 degrees Tuesday morning prompted us to go back through the radio station weather information archives. To put that frigid day in some perspective, Tuesday’s low of negative five ties in third place for the third coldest morning ever recorded in the history of De Queen. Some listeners may recall the second coldest – -14 degrees on Feb. 1, 1951. The coldest temperature ever recorded in De Queen was an absolutely miserable -16 degrees on Feb. 12, 1899. That was also reported as one of the coldest winters since weather records began in Arkansas.

Monday’s snowfall of six inches in De Queen was the highest single day total since we recorded 9.5 inches back on Jan. 28, 2000. Over a two day period of January 27 and 28, 2000, we recorded 12.5 inches here at KDQN Studios. During the week of February 1-5, 1985, we recorded 16.5 inches.

It certainly looks like the worst of this year’s winter is behind us. And while we can’t predict everything Mother Nature will throw at us, we think it’s safe to say it’ll be some time before we ever see anything like this week’s snow and freezing temperatures again. And that’s just fine with us.

City of De Queen asks residents to be on the lookout for water leaks       02/19/21

With the weather now starting to warm up, officials with the City of De Queen are asking residents to keep an eye out for water leaks.

Given the extreme cold temperatures this week, water leaks are very possible – and won’t be noticeable until things start to thaw. City crews have been working on a number of water leaks this week due to the subfreezing temperatures. But more are very likely once all the ice and snow begins to melt.

City officials are asking residents of De Queen to stop running water once the temperatures reach above freezing and look for leaks. If you have a leak, if you notice a leak at your neighbor’s home or see water running anywhere out of place, you’re asked to call (870) 584-7891. You can also contact the water department at (870) 584-4534.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       02/19/21

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 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of 16 cases yesterday, dropping the current total to 63. Overall cases grew to 2,549 while deaths remained at 28.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two fewer active cases for a current total of 18. Total cases grew were unchanged at 1,112 and deaths at 40.

Howard County reported seven fewer active case on Thursday for a current total of 43. Overall cases increased to 1,500. Deaths remain at 24.

Active cases in Polk County fell by seven yesterday and now number 59. Total cases were unchanged at 1,846 while deaths remained at 61.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a net decrease of five cases on Thursday for a current total of 238. Cumulative cases rose to 3,749. Deaths remain at 61.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported 253 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. That raises the statewide cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to over 314,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 916 for a current total of 7,323. Deaths increased by 10 over the same period for a total of 5,323.

Friday Closings and Delays   02/18/21   updated 3:45 pm
Pilgrims in De Queen will operate Friday with a two hour delayed start. First Processing will start at 6:40 A.M. Second Processing will start at 8:45 A.M. The second shift at Pilgrims will work regular hours on Friday.
The Tyson Foods plant in Grannis will not operate the remainder of the week, according to Grannis Plant Manager Tim Norman. Tyson in Grannis will plan to resume full operations on Sunday night. Sanitation should report to the Grannis plant Sunday afternoon at the regular daily start times.
The Tyson Foods plant in Broken Bow will not operate the remainder of the week, according to Plant Manager Chris McKinney. Tyson in Broken Bow will start up Sunday night and process as normal through next week.

All Husqvarna – Nashville facilities: L & G, HPN, and Warehouse will remain closed through the rest of the week, and all shifts will not run operations this week. Husqvarna in Nashville will resume normal operating hours on Monday.
The Sevier County Courthouse and landfill will reopen Friday morning at 8:00, according to County Judge Greg Ray.De Queen Head Start and the Little Bitty City & Enrichment Center will be closed until Monday the 22nd.

Fun and Learnland Pre-School & Day Care and Sevier County Developmental Center on College Drive in De Queen will remain closed until Monday the 22nd.

The Wickes Cossatot Senior Will Be Closed Friday Feb.19 Due To the weather.
Thursday weather related closings     02/18/21   updated  10:00 am
Numerous businesses and government offices are closed today due to inclement weather.
Pilgrim’s announced it will close its De Queen complex today due to weather conditions in the area. This closure impacts both shifts scheduled to work today. The plant is expected to resume operations Friday morning.
The Tyson Foods plant in Grannis will not operate for the remainder of the week. Current plans are to resume operations Sunday evening. Sanitation will report on Sunday during regular daily start times.

Tyson Foods plant in Broken Bow, Okla., will not operate today according to Plant Manager Chris McKinney. Tyson’s in Broken Bow has tentative plans to begin plant operations Thursday night with plans to work Friday night and Saturday.

All Husqvarna facilities (L&G, HPN, and Warehouse) remain closed Thursday. No shifts will run today.

Local bank closures include Bancorp South’s branch in De Queen.

The Cossatot River Senior Citizens Center in Wickes is closed today.

De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown stated the De Queen City Hall will remain closed today due to the inclement weather. No sanitation routes will run this week and will resume on Monday, Feb. 22.

The Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill is also closed today, according to County Judge Greg Ray. Judge Ray says that plans are to reopen the Courthouse on Friday.

The Sevier County Democratic Party meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday evening has been postponed until Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. in the County Courthouse.

De Queen Head Start and the Little Bitty City & Enrichment Center will be closed until Monday, Feb. 22.

Fun and Learnland Pre-School & Day Care and Sevier County Developmental Center on College Drive in De Queen will remain closed until Monday, Feb. 22.

The Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street in De Queen will remain closed on Thursday. The Sevier and Little River County Departments of Human Services are also be closed until Friday.

The Minority Affairs Council meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen has been postponed. The meeting will be rescheduled for a later date.

————School Closings————

De Queen Public Schools will switch to virtual learning for the remainder of the week due to the snow, the weather forecast, and the number of questionable secondary roads in the district. Parents, guardians or students with questions are advised to contact their building administrator via email. Classes will resume at De Queen Public Schools on Monday, Feb. 22.

Ashdown Public Schools will also pivot to a virtual learning only for students and staff the remainder of this week. All buildings on the Ashdown campus will remain closed this week due to inclement weather. On-site instruction will resume Monday, Feb. 22.

The Dierks School District will remain closed the rest of the week. Both elementary and high school students will switch to virtual learning for the remainder of this week. Internet and power issues have hampered virtual learning for students in the Dierks School District, but school officials say makeup policies are in place for any missed assignments. Classes will resume on Monday, Feb. 22.

Horatio Schools are also remaining closed to onsite instruction through the rest of the week and will pivot to online learning. Horatio students are advised to watch for contact from their teachers. Classes will resume on Monday.

The Cossatot River School District will remain closed for the rest of the week. Students and faculty will transition to virtual days today and Friday. Onsite classes will resume at Cossatot River on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Foreman Schools are also closed today and Friday, and will pivot to virtual learning only these days. Students at Foreman are encouraged to access your virtual learning platform and stay current with your class work. Classes resume on Monday, Feb. 22.

All UofA Cossatot Campuses have been closed for the remainder of the week due to the weather. Classes are set to resume on Monday, Feb. 22.

Warmer weather moving into area today        02/18/21

After several days of unusually heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures, the listening area may finally start to enjoy some warmer weather beginning today.

Today’s high is expected to hit 37 degrees. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, it is the first above-freezing temperatures the area has experienced since Sunday. And the temperature will be just warm enough to begin melting the more than six inches of snow we’ve received this week. The change in weather was enough for the National Weather Service to prematurely end its winter storm warning for Southwest Arkansas, Southeast Oklahoma and Northeast Texas.

Temperatures will gradually increase through the weekend and into next week. Nightly lows will remain below freezing, however, over the next several days. Tonight’s low of 12 degrees and Friday night’s low of 15 will be particularly chilling. But these lows are the tail end of this week’s severe winter weather. And we don’t know about everyone, but here at KDQN Studios in De Queen, we’re ready to say goodbye to all that arctic weather.

While we may be out of the woods in terms of snowfall, the low over the next couple of evenings still requires some caution. We’ve received a lot of reports of frozen and burst pipes in the listening area due to the subfreezing temps. There are a few tips you can follow to prevent that from occurring and how to respond if it does happen.

Every resident should be familiar with where the water shutoff valve is located in their home. This is critical so it can be found quickly if water does start to pour out of a broken pipe.

To help prevent freezing water lines, open cabinet doors underneath the sink to allow the household air to keep pipes warm.

If there is an attached garage to the home, keep those doors closed. Occasionally, plumbing is routed through this unheated space, leaving it vulnerable to the freezing temperatures.

Find the faucet furthest from where water enters the house and let it to drip slowly. Allowing water to move through the pipes will reduce the chance of water freezing. You can even set a bucket in the sink to collect the water that drips, so it can be saved for other household uses.

If a pipe has already frozen, it is vital to shut off water to the house before starting to thaw the pipe; this will prevent any potential flooding if the pipe has been broken.

Do not to use any high intensity heater such as a blow torch, as these can damage the pipes. The best practice is to use a hair dryer, or a space heater, to blow hot air into the area and thaw the ice inside the pipes. Pipes that are warmed too fast may break, according to Denver Water.

Check the effected area for leaks after thawing to make sure the freeze didn’t damage your pipes.

If access to the frozen pipe is tricky, you do not have the proper tools or the pipe has broken, contact a plumber.

Farmer assistance available through Feb. 26        02/18/21

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide additional assistance through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, also known as CFAP, expanding eligibility for some agricultural producers and commodities as well as updating payments to accurately compensate some producers who already applied for the program.

Producers who are now eligible and those who need to modify existing applications due to these updates can contact USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) through Feb. 26. Some of these changes are being made to align with the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 while others are discretionary changes being made in response to ongoing evaluation of CFAP.

Contract producers of swine, broilers, laying hens, chicken eggs and turkeys who suffered a drop in revenue in 2020 as compared to their 2019 revenue because of the pandemic now are eligible for assistance.  Producers could receive up to 80% of their revenue loss, subject to the availability of funds.

Newly eligible producers can submit a new CFAP 2 application or producers who need to modify an existing one can do so between Jan. 19 and Feb. 26, 2021, by contacting the De Queen USDA Service Center by calling 870-584-3111. New applicants can also obtain one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364.

To learn more about this additional assistance, visit farmers.gov/cfap.

Arkansas Attorney General warns of weather-related scams        02/18/21

State law enforcement agents are urging Arkansans to be on guard against scam artists and price gouging following this week’s severe winter weather that has impacted the entire state. The snow and ice can cause damage to homes, businesses, vehicles, trees and other property, and clean-up efforts may require some Arkansans to seek assistance from contractors or repairmen.

In a press release Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge urged all Arkansans to use caution as the clean-up process begins and to contact her office if they suspect any type of fraud or price gouging.

Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an Executive Order issuing a state of emergency following the freezing rain, sleet, snow and power outages in Arkansas. Act 376 of 1997, which prohibits businesses from price gouging during a state of emergency, is now in effect through the executive order. The law prohibits businesses from charging more than 10 percent above the pre-disaster price of goods or services, such as food, fuel, water, flashlights, batteries, blankets, medicine, bandages and construction materials.

The price gouging law is triggered whenever a state of emergency is declared by federal, State or local governments. The ban on price gouging remains in effect for at least 30 days and can be extended another 30 days by the local governing body if necessary to protect the lives, property or welfare of the citizens. For home repairs, the law remains in effect for 180 days.

A violation of Act 376 is a violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Arkansans who believe they have encountered a disaster scam or price gouging should contact the Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or file a consumer complaint atArkansasAG.gov.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures        02/18/21

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 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of 10 cases yesterday, dropping the current total to 79. Overall cases grew to 2,545 while deaths remained at 28.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported five fewer active cases for a current total of 20. Total cases grew were unchanged at 1,112 and deaths at 40.

Howard County reported four fewer active cases on Wednesday for a current total of 50. Overall cases rose to 1,499. Deaths remain at 24.

Active cases in Polk County fell by eight yesterday and now number 66. Total cases increased to 1,846 while deaths remained at 61.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a net decrease of 11 cases on Wednesday for a current total of 254. Cumulative cases rose to 3,730. Deaths remain at 61.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported 667 new cases of COVID-19 across the state on Wednesday. That raises the number of transmissions since the start of the pandemic to just over 314,000. Active cases experienced another day of consecutive decline, falling to nearly 900 for a current active caseload of 8,200. Deaths increased by 26 to 5,313.

State health officials warn a lack of COVID-19 testing this week due to the severe winter weather is likely responsible for the lower than usual daily growth in new cases. They remind everyone to follow state and CDC guidelines as much as possible, including wearing a face mask in public, watching your distance and washing your hands.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson made two announcements on Tuesday regarding the state’s COVID-19 guidelines. The first is the lessening of restrictions in regards to large indoor events. Previously any indoor commercial event with the planned attendance of 10 or more people required state approval. That limit has now been raised to 100. Hutchinson added that spring school sports with two or more teams can now proceed after a plan has been submitted to the Arkansas Department of Health and approved.

Thursday weather related closings     02/17/21   updated  6:00 pm
Pilgrim’s announced it will not operate either shift at its De Queen complex on Thursday, Feb. 18 due to weather conditions in the area. The plant is expected to resume operations on Friday.
The Tyson Foods plant in Grannis will not operate on day shift Thursday, according to Grannis Plant Manager Tim Norman. Tyson in Grannis will plan to resume with sanitation Thursday afternoon, and plant operations in Grannis will resume Thursday night.

The Tyson Foods plant in Broken Bow will not operate on day shift Thursday, according to Plant Manager Chris McKinney. Tyson in Broken Bow tentatively plans to start plant operations Thursday night, with plans to work Friday night and Saturday. Stay tuned for further updates.

De Queen City Hall will remain closed on Thursday due to inclement weather. According to Mayor Jeff Brown, sanitation routes will not run this week but will resume service next week. Last night’s De Queen City Council meeting was also canceled. The next regularly scheduled De Queen City Council meeting will be Tuesday, March 2.
The Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill will remain closed on Thursday, according to County Judge Greg Ray. Judge Ray says that plans are to reopen the Courthouse on Friday. The Sevier County Circuit Court will not hold a court session tomorrow.
Tonight’s Ash Wednesday Services at De Queen First United Methodist Church have been cancelled.

All Husqvarna – Nashville facilities: L & G, HPN, and Warehouse will remain closed on Thursday, and all shifts will not run operations on Thursday. Stay tuned to KDQN for further updates.
The Minority Affairs Council meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen has been postponed. The meeting will be rescheduled.
De Queen Head Start and the Little Bitty City & Enrichment Center will be closed until Monday the 22nd.Fun and Learnland Pre-School & Day Care and Sevier County Developmental Center on College Drive in De Queen will remain closed until Monday the 22nd.

The Cossatot Senior Center in Wickes will remain closed Thursday.
Thursday and Friday School closings 

De Queen Public Schools will switch to virtual learning and work packets for the remainder of the week due to the snow, the weather forecast, and the number of secondary roads in the district. Students were given directions for their assignments last week. If you have any questions, contact your student’s building administrator via email. Classes will resume at De Queen Public Schools on Monday the 22nd.
Ashdown Public Schools will pivot to virtual days for students and staff for the rest of the week. All buildings on the Ashdown campus will remain closed all week due to inclement weather. Onsite instruction will resume Monday at Ashdown Schools.
The Dierks School District will remain closed for the rest of the week. Elementary and high school students should continue to complete their virtual assignments. Dierks School officials say that they are aware of the internet and power issues related to the winter storm, so please rest assured that make-up policies are in place for any missed assignments.
Horatio Schools will remain closed for onsite instruction for the rest of the week, as Horatio will pivot to Digital Days and work remotely from home. Horatio students should watch for communications from their teachers, and continue to be engaged with learning.The
Cossatot River School District will remain closed for the rest of the week. These will be virtual days for students and faculty. Onsite classes will resume at Cossatot River on Tuesday, February 23rd.
Foreman Schools will remain closed for the rest of the week. Students at Foreman are encouraged to access your virtual learning platform and stay current with your class work. Check your Google classroom and finish all packets before Monday the 22nd.
University of Arkansas – Cossatot announced that all campuses will be closed for the rest of the week. Classes will resume at U of A – Cossatot on Monday the 22nd.

Weather Closing  – Updated 12:00 pm Wed 2/17/21

WEDNESDAY CLOSING & POSTPONEMENTS

Numerous closures remain in effect today as a winter storm continues to bring snow and subfreezing temperatures to the listening area.
Pilgrim’s announced it will close its De Queen complex Wednesday due to weather conditions in the area. This closure impacts both shifts scheduled to work today. The plant is expected to resume operations Thursday morning.
The Tyson Foods plant in Grannis will not operate until Thursday after, Feb. 18, when the sanitation shift is scheduled to begin. Operations will resume with Thursday’s night shift. Complex manager Tim Norman said the plant will continue to monitor weather conditions to determine if further delays are needed.
All Husqvarna facilities (L&G, HPN, and Warehouse) all shifts will not run operations on Wednesday. Company officials said they will continue to monitor the weather/road conditions and add updates daily.
Local bank closures include First State Bank of De Queen, Horatio State Bank and Bancorp South’s branch in De Queen.
The Cossatot River Senior Citizens Center in Wickes is closed today and Thursday.
County Trash Service (CTS) will not run today. Reliable Trash Service is not running today either and will resume service on Friday.
De Queen City Hall will remain closed on Thursday due to inclement weather. According to Mayor Jeff Brown, sanitation routes will not run this week but will resume service next week. Last night’s De Queen City Council meeting was also canceled. The next regularly scheduled De Queen City Council meeting will be Tuesday, March 2.
The Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill will remain closed on Thursday, according to County Judge Greg Ray. Judge Ray says that plans are to reopen the Courthouse on Friday. The Sevier County Circuit Court will not hold a court session tomorrow.
The Sevier County Democratic Party meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday evening has been postponed until Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. in the County Courthouse.
De Queen Head Start and the Little Bitty City & Enrichment Center will be closed until Monday, Feb. 22.
Fun and Learnland Pre-School & Day Care and Sevier County Developmental Center on College Drive in De Queen will remain closed today. The Fun and Learnland Pre-School will be closed Friday as well and will not reopen until Monday, Feb. 22.
The Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street in De Queen will remain closed on Wednesday. The Sevier and Little River County Departments of Human Services will also be closed today.
The Minority Affairs Council meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen has been postponed. The meeting will be rescheduled for a later date.
————————————————–
SCHOOL CLOSINGS
De Queen Public Schools will switch to virtual learning for the remainder of the week due to the snow, the weather forecast, and the number of questionable secondary roads in the district. Parents, guardians or students with questions are advised to contact their building administrator via email. Classes will resume at De Queen Public Schools on Monday, Feb. 22.
Ashdown Public Schools will pivot to a virtual learning only for students and staff on Wednesday and Thursday. All buildings on the Ashdown campus will remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday due to inclement weather.
The Dierks School District will remain closed Wednesday. Both elementary and high school students will switch to virtual learning during these closures.
Horatio Schools will also remain closed for onsite instruction Wednesday and Thursday and will pivot to online learning both days. Horatio students are advised to watch for contact from their teachers.
The Cossatot River School District will remain closed for the rest of the week. Wednesday through Friday will be virtual days for students and faculty. Onsite classes will resume at Cossatot River on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Foreman Schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, and will pivot to virtual learning. Students at Foreman are encouraged to access your virtual learning platform and stay current with your class work.
All UofA Campuses have been closed for the remainder of the week due to the weather. Classes are set to resume on Monday, Feb. 22.
Additional weather-related closures and announcements are likely today and tomorrow so stay tuned to KDQN for all the latest developments.
Winter storm warning continues; Tuesday’s low ties for third among coldest days in De Queen      2/17/21
DE QUEEN – A Winter Storm Warning persists for the listening area including Southwest Arkansas, Southeast Oklahoma and Northeast Texas.

The warning went into effect yesterday evening and will continue through noon on Thursday. This is round two of a pair of winter storms to hit the region this week. Over six inches of snow had fallen in Sevier County as of Monday with isolated areas receiving another inch or more. Additional snowfall predicted last night and through Wednesday is expected to add another three to six inches to the total.

Temperatures will remain below freezing but feel comparatively balmy in contrast to the negative five degrees seen Tuesday morning. Today’s high is 28 with a low of 22 this evening.

If you’re tired of the winter wonderland, don’t worry: the end is nearly in sight. The last of the two winter storms will move out tonight with just a 20 percent chance of snow and sleet this evening. Skies are expected to be clear over the next couple of days. The mercury is going to remain below the freezing point through Friday however, with a frigid low of 10 degrees Thursday night and 17 Friday night. However, a warm front will bring above-freezing temperatures to the region beginning Friday and continuing into the weekend and next week.

The official temperature reading of -5 degrees Tuesday morning prompted us to go back through the radio station weather information archives. To put the current weather in some perspective, Tuesday’s low ties in third place for the third coldest morning ever recorded in the history of De Queen. Some of listeners may recall the second coldest – -14 degrees on Feb. 1, 1951. The coldest temperature ever recorded in De Queen was an absolutely miserable -16 degrees on Feb. 12, 1899. That was also reported as one of the coldest winters since weather records began in Arkansas.

Monday’s snowfall of six inches in De Queen was the highest single day total since we recorded 9.5 inches back on Jan. 28, 2000. Over a two day period of January 27 and 28, 2000, we recorded 12.5 inches here at KDQN Studios. During the week of February 1-5, 1985, we recorded 16.5 inches. History proves it can always be worse!

Power companies in Arkansas say outages made necessary by freezing temperatures      2/17/21

DE QUEEN – Due to extreme winter conditions and record power usage, The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas were forced to implement emergency contingency plans that included short-term, rotating power curtailments at some local electric cooperatives. Curtailments were discontinued at 9 p.m., however the situation remains critical.

“This unprecedented situation is related to a number of factors, including a very volatile natural gas market, lack of dispatchable power generation resources and the extremely cold weather across multiple states,” said Andrew Lachowsky, vice president of planning and market operations for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “Despite public appeals to reduce usage and working with large industrial member, Arkansas’ electric cooperatives were forced to implement the short-term curtailment plan in order to avoid major wholesale power delivery issues.”

Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, the wholesale power provider for the state’s 17 local electric cooperatives, continues to work with regional transmission operators to address current issues.

SWEPCO announced it has ended emergency controlled outages it implemented earlier this week.

SWEPCO implemented rolling blackouts to reduce the load on the power system during the extreme winter temperatures.

Power outages were sporadic in De Queen with just a few singular outages reported. However, in Little River County, planned power outages results in the loss of electricity to nearly half of SWEPCO’s 4,200 customers in the county. According to www.poweroutage.us, which tracks power outages across the nation, those outages have been resolved and no further loss of power situations have been reported.

Emergency responders urge caution for renters, homeowners as winter storm continues; DQVFD responds to home fire Tuesday morning      2/17/21

DE QUEEN – The winter weather seen in the listening area over the past several days is a, fortunately, uncommon occurrence. As we’ve mentioned, Sevier County only sees this kind of weather once in a generation.

And while we’re lucky we don’t see this more often, perhaps it’s the unfamiliar weather that encourages some people to do things that, well, just shouldn’t be done. Especially when it comes to heating their homes.

Local emergency responders say they see bad situations develop far too commonly during this kind of weather. Things like using charcoal and propane grills to heat a home, for example. This, authorities caution loudly, is a bad idea. Charcoal and propane grills are not designed to be used inside homes due to the high level of carbon monoxide they emit. Grills are meant to be used in airy outside places, not your home.

And while it is incredibly tempting to burn some logs in the fireplace, it’s not a great idea if you haven’t used the fireplace in years. Unused fireplaces are an invitation for bird and squirrel nests and accumulations of other debris.

De Queen Fire Marshall Dennis Pruitt said local volunteer firefighters worked for hours early Tuesday morning to successfully put out a home fire caused by an improperly maintained fireplace. He said the homeowners had not used the fireplace in years. When they did so Monday night, they ended up causing a house fire after debris in the chimney ignited. Fortunately, the house was saved and no one was injured. But firefighters had to brave the negative temperatures for hours during the response.

Chimneys and fireplaces should be inspected and cleaned every year if possible. If you haven’t cleaned yours in years, you should only use it now only under an extreme emergency. If your other heating sources fail, it’s a better idea to stay with friends or family. Don’t risk life and property by using an improperly maintained fireplace.

It’s also important to remember that space heaters are highly inefficient. And, if used improperly, can also be extremely dangerous. Like any heating source, space heaters must be operated without any obstruction around at least several feet of the unit.

It’s cold outside and there’s no fun in having a heating system failure. But that shouldn’t lead to risky heating options. Relying on friends and family for a couple of days until your heating system is repaired is a much better option than risking your home and life to bad decisions.

Frigid temps and heavy snowfall a threat to cattle, poultry producers      2/17/21
DE QUEEN – Single-digit wind chills, freezing water in pipes and troughs and high snow loads on roofs are causing concerns for poultry and cattle operations.
Low temperatures reported Monday and Tuesday mornings to the National Weather Service included minus 5 in De Queen. In addition, the winter storm dumped at least six inches of snow across Southwest Arkansas.

For poultry growers in the area, the biggest problems are having water pipes freezing and watering equipment not working. The Cooperative Extension Service is reporting that growers in Arkansas are being forced to put space heaters and heat lamps in control rooms to keep pipes from freezing solid and to allow electronic control equipment to keep operating.

Many growers are getting very little sleep in order to check waterlines and birds and keep their livelihood going.

Roof collapse is also a big concern with weather like this. Many will remember the ice storm of 2000 and the number of poultry houses that collapsed due to heavy loads of snow on their roofs. The danger of roof collapse depends on how much snow they’ve received. Most can handle it, but when eight or more inches of snow fall, it’s a real danger.

Cows are also at risk during this snowy and frigid conditions. We’ve received one report of a rancher in De Queen who lost several calves due to the freezing temperatures. Cows in good body condition and have a good winter coat are fairly tolerant of cold weather, according to specialists with the Cooperative Extension Service. Unfortunately, many Arkansas cattle are at a disadvantage because they haven’t had time to adapt to extremely cold temperatures.

Thin cows, cows with short hair, lactating cows, and Brahman-influenced cattle breeds will have a little tougher time meeting the increased energy needs when it is cold and wet outside. There are certainly no snow days for ranchers, who have to be outside, no matter the weather.

Cows will eat more when they are really cold, so it’s vital to keep plenty of good quality hay in front of cattle at all times and supplement hay with grain or grain byproduct-type feeds. Ranchers may want to avoid using range meals at this time because the salt will make cows want to drink and the bitter cold is making a lot of water sources frozen over and less accessible.

Hopefully this winter weather event won’t last much longer. However, when things start to thaw out, there are still issues ranchers need to worry about.

When the temperature gets back to normal and the ground thaws, feeding areas may need to be relocated or ranchers may want to start unrolling hay to keep feeding sites distributed over larger areas to avoid creating deep mud tracks. Agriculture specialists in Arkansas caution that deep mud makes it difficult for cattle to get to hay and eat as much as they could otherwise.

Gov. Hutchinson discusses winter storms, COVID-19 restrictions during weekly update      2/17/21

Gov. Asa Hutchinson started off his weekly COVID-19 update discussing a different challenge currently facing Arkansas: some of the coldest weather and heaviest snowfall in the state’s recorded history.
Areas of the state have been slammed by winter weather over the past several days. As of Tuesday afternoon snowfall ranged from six inches for Southwest Arkansas to over eight inches in portions of central and northwest Arkansas. Temperatures have also dropped to some of the lowest levels in the state’s recorded history. The winter weather has made road conditions hazardous throughout much of the state. Weather forecasters predict more snow and frigid temperatures throughout the week.
In response Hutchinson announced the state is extending the National Guard’s deployment in Arkansas. The National Guard has been assisting in recent weeks with the state’s vaccine rollout but will now aid emergency responders as they deal with winter storm conditions.
Hutchinson also stressed the need for Arkansans to converse as much energy as possible. Energy providers in Arkansas performed several planned power outages across the state on Tuesday due to strain caused by the subfreezing temperatures. Hutchinson said the region is also experiencing a shortage in natural gas due to current high demand and wells made temporarily inoperable by subfreezing temperatures. Given more winter weather ahead, Hutchinson said energy conservation is critical right now in Arkansas.
Hutchinson then moved on the Arkansas Department of Health’s daily COVID-19 report. The state reported just 177 additional cases of the virus over the previous 24 ours. Hutchinson cautioned against too much optimism regarding that low figure, however. Due to the weather very few tests were performed across the state on Monday and Tuesday. Arkansas’ hospitalization is nonetheless continuing to decline, with just 638 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. Deaths increased by 12 on Tuesday for a total of 5,287. The Department of Health has recorded a total of more than 313,000 COVID-19 transmissions in Arkansas since the pandemic began. Of those around 299,000 have contracted the virus and since recovered.
Hutchinson then made two announcements regarding the state’s COVID-19 guidelines. The first is the lessening of restrictions in regards to large indoor events. Previously any indoor commercial event with the planned attendance of 10 or more people required state approval. That limit has now been raised to 100. Hutchinson added that spring school sports with two or more teams can now proceed after a plan has been submitted to the Arkansas Department of Health and approved.
Finally, Hutchinson reminded Arkansans they can view the latest road conditions in the state by visitingwww.idriveArkansas.com.

Weather Closing  – Updated 3:00 pm Tues 2/16/21

WEDNESDAY CLOSING & POSTPONEMENTS

De Queen Public Schools will switch to virtual learning and work packets for the remainder of the week due to the snow, the weather forecast, and the number of secondary roads in the district. Students were given directions for their assignments last week. If you have any questions, contact your student’s building administrator via email. Classes will resume at De Queen Public Schools on Monday the 22nd.
Ashdown Public Schools will pivot to a virtual day for students and staff on Wednesday and Thursday. All buildings on the Ashdown campus will remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday due to inclement weather.
The Dierks School District will remain closed Wednesday. Both elementary and high school students are to complete virtual assignments. Stay tuned to KDQN for further announcements for the rest of the week.
Horatio Schools will remain closed for onsite instruction Wednesday and Thursday, as Horatio will pivot to Digital Days and work remotely from home. Horatio students watch for contact from their teachers. Stay tuned to KDQN for an announcement regarding classes Friday.The Cossatot River School District will remain closed for the rest of the week. Wednesday through Friday will be virtual days for students and faculty. Onsite classes will resume at Cossatot River on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Foreman Schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, and will pivot to virtual learning. Students at Foreman are encouraged to access your virtual learning platform and stay current with your class work. A decision about Friday at Foreman will be announced on KDQN later.
UPDATE: The Tyson Foods plant in Grannis will not operate until Thursday morning, 2-18-21, on day shift. We will continue to monitor weather conditions to determine if further delays are needed.

County Trash Service will not run their scheduled route on Tuesday or Wednesday.

De Queen Health and Wellness Walk In Clinic will be open Tuesday until 2 pm. From 2 pm to 5 pm they will conduct Tele visits.

All Husqvarna facilities (L&G, HPN, and Warehouse) all shifts will not run operations on Wednesday.  They will continue to monitor the weather/road conditions and add updates daily.

De Queen City Hall will remain closed on Tuesday due to inclement weather. According to Mayor Jeff Brown, Monday and Tuesday sanitation routes in the City of De Queen will run on Wednesday of this week. The Tuesday night De Queen City Council meeting has been canceled. The next regularly scheduled De Queen City Council meeting will be Tuesday, March 2.

The Sevier County Courthouse will remain closed on Wednesday, according to County Judge Greg Ray. Judge Ray says that plans are to reopen the Courthouse on Wednesday.

The Sevier County Democratic Party meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday evening has been postponed until Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. in the County Courthouse.

De Queen Head Start and the Little Bitty City & Enrichment Center will be closed until Monday, Feb. 22.

Fun and Learnland Pre-School & Day Care and Sevier County Developmental Center on College Drive in De Queen will remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street in De Queen will remain closed on Tuesday.

The Minority Affairs Council meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen has been postponed. The meeting will be rescheduled for a later date.

First State Bank of De Queen will be open limited hours on Tuesday.  Drive through only will be open 10 am-2 pm.

Weather and Utility Announcements    02/16/21

Snow accumulation of six inches was measured as of 7:30 Monday morning at our studios. Arctic air will remain over the area through much of the week with some of the coldest readings we’ve experienced in many years through Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Dangerously low temperatures are expected through Tuesday with highs in the teens, and lows dropping into the single digits. Temperatures will moderate some Wednesday, but still remain well below normal. This is round one of an expected two rounds. The National Weather Service has issued another Winter Storm Warning from 6:00 P.M. Tuesday until 12 Noon on Thursday. Another strong system with the potential for up to EIGHT more inches of snow is expected starting Tuesday night, before we thaw out toward the weekend.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation says that snow and ice cover all roadways in southwest Arkansas. The Arkansas State Police says to please stay home. The State Police can’t stress enough how dangerous the roads are, saying it’s cold, windy, and being stranded on the side of the road is not where you want to be. Troopers are out and about, but will be taking it slowly in responding to calls for service. If you must get out on the roads, make sure you have blankets, water, and plenty of gas in your vehicle. Remember, for the latest road conditions, go to: www.idrivearkansas.com

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas Request Conservation of Electricity Usage   02/16/21

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas ask members to voluntarily limit use of electric service immediately and through midnight Tuesday in order to ensure that electric service is not interrupted.

Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas members are urged to reduce the use of electrical requirements by limiting use of non-essential electricity and appliances, especially electric water heaters, clothes dryers and dishwashers, and to turn heating thermostats to lower settings.

Due to the extremely cold weather and the unusually high requirement for electricity, electric cooperatives and other electric utilities across Arkansas and surrounding states have reached a point where electricity demand has nearly exceeded the capacity.

The cooperative emphasized that voluntary cooperation is essential. If voluntary reductions are not sufficient to maintain continuity of service, it may be necessary to begin interruption of electric service to specific areas for limited time periods. It is not presently anticipated that this type of rotating curtailments will be necessary.

Cooperative representatives are also directly contacting large and commercial users asking their cooperation as well.

The interconnections of electric systems frequently make it possible for one system to secure additional electricity from neighboring systems. However, the present extreme cold weather is widespread in the Arkansas region, making the strain on the electric grid much higher than normal. Thus, conservation of energy is important to help ensure continuous electric service.

Your local electric cooperative will continue to keep the public advised of further developments concerning voluntary reductions of electric power.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides various services to the distribution cooperatives; and AECC, a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to more than 500,000 members, or customers, in Arkansas and surrounding states.

For additional information, contact: Rob Roedel, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, 501.570.2296 or rroedel@aeci.com  www.ecark.org

Sevier County sees sizable decrease in unemployment rate in December    02/16/21

DE QUEEN – The latest economic data shows Sevier County’s unemployment rate experienced a significant decline in December.

The unemployment decrease follows the uptick experienced in November. That increase was the first in the county since the highs reported shortly after the pandemic hit Arkansas. Sevier County’s unemployment rate remains below the U.S. average and only slightly higher than the median in Arkansas.

The new data details Sevier County’s unemployment rate in December – the latest month for which data is available. The unemployment rate declined by more than a full point, from 5.6 in November to 4.4 in December. The overall unemployment in Arkansas for December was 4.4 percent and 6.3 percent across the nation.

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 45 out of 75 counties in the state for the lowest unemployment – a ranking which has just about stayed the same throughout 2020. With a 4.4 percent unemployment rate and out of a work force of nearly 7,500 in Sevier County – according to a 2018 government estimate – around 330 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 tied with Sevier County at 4.4 percent unemployment and ranked 45th in the state.

Howard County has edged up on the ranking list from 11th in November to ninth in December. That month’s unemployment rate fell to just 3.3 percent.

Statewide Madison County reported the lowest unemployment rate of just 2.8 percent. Chicot County continues to report the highest rate in the state with 8.4 percent.

FRIENDS Foundation of Sevier County holds first annual meeting    02/16/21

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

The first annual FRIENDS Foundation meeting took place on Friday, February 5, 2021, at 11:30 A.M. at the De Queen Herman Dierks Park community building. FRIENDS is a foundation that was established to help Sevier County grow through economic development projects and activities.

Twenty-eight people attended the meeting, and five attended via zoom.

The history of FRIENDS and the Sevier County Economic Development department was discussed during the meeting. Membership and funding progress toward the annual budget was also covered. The meeting concluded with the election of the 2021 FRIENDS Foundation Board of Directors.

The FRIENDS Foundation Board of Directors includes President Mike Branson, Vice-President Greg Revels, Secretary/Treasurer Jay Bunyard, Dr. Steve Cole, Jimmy Bristow, Angie Walker, and Ned Hendrix.

Jeff Tollett and Dion Cooper from REA were invited to the meeting as special guests to announce to the foundation members that REA has plans to enter broadband service in our community and answered questions about that process.

The FRIENDS Board of Directors had its first directors’ meeting on Friday, February 12, 2021, at UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus in the Weyerhaeuser room at 11:30 A.M. At the meeting, they met with a hotel developer to gain insights on hospitality conditions since the pandemic hit. They also discussed leadership training opportunities for our community to consider.

All individuals of Sevier County are encouraged and welcome to join FRIENDS. Membership for the year is granted with any donation of $100 or more.  For any questions about the Sevier County FRIENDS Foundation, please contact Sevier County Economic Development Director Tiffany Maurer at tmaurer@cccua.edu or 870-584-1184.

Learn to Burn seminar in Mena next month    02/16/21

MENA – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host a Learn to Burn session in Mena next month.

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. That link is also featured on our website, www.kdqn.net

The Learn to Burn class is hosted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Quail Forever and the Arkansas Forestry Association.

River Valley Beef Cattle Conference going virtual in 2021    02/16/21

The River Valley Beef Cattle Conference, a mainstay event brought to Arkansas cattle producers by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is moving online for 2021.

The webinar is scheduled for Feb. 23, from 1-3:30 p.m. (CST). There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. To register, visit www.uaex.edu or find a direct link to the registration page on our website, www.kdqn.net

Bob Harper, staff chair for the Logan County Cooperative Extension office, said this year’s conference will present several unique discussions, some of which are tied directly to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on beef market demand.

Janeal Yancey, a program associate with the Division of Agriculture’s animal science program, will discuss the growing popularity of “freezer beef” among consumers. “Freezer beef” refers to the purchase of all or part of a live animal for slaughter, rather than purchasing finished beef cuts at a grocery store, for example.

Heidi Ward, extension veterinarian with the Division of Agriculture, will report on the state-wide anaplasmosis survey launched in late 2019. Anaplasmosis is a tick-borne pathogen that can be lethal to cattle and other animals.

Most of the conference’s presentations will be pre-recorded, but there will be a live Q&A session afterward, in which Harper will participate. Shane Gadberry, professor of ruminant nutrition for the Division of Agriculture, will moderate the conference, and a representative from Farm Credit of West Arkansas will deliver the conference’s introduction.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figure    02/16/21

DE QUEEN – 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 saw a net decrease of eight yesterday, lowering the current total to 110. Overall cases grew by six to 2,540 while deaths remained at 28.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported four fewer active cases for a current total of 30. Total cases grew to 1,112 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported one additional active case on Monday for a current total of 87. Overall cases grew by six to 1,497. Deaths remain at 24.

Active cases in Polk County saw a single net increase yesterday for a current total of 87. Total cases rose eight by 1,844 while deaths remained at 61.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a net increase of three active cases on Monday for a current total of 272. Cumulative cases rose by six to 3,729. Deaths remain at 61.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 320 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to just over 313,000. Active cases saw a significant decline yesterday, continuing a consistent drop in the state’s active cases over the past couple of weeks. Active cases in Arkansas now number 10,494. Deaths saw a low increase yesterday, rising by 10 for a total of 5,275 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations saw a net decrease of 27 patients, leaving 642 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Local Snow Closings   02/15/2021   (UPDATED 11:30 AM)
CLOSED
Tyson – Nashville: First Shift Cancelled
CTS – County Trash Service
De Queen Health and Wellness
Lofton Family Clinic
Amedisys
De Queen Animal Clinic
McDonald’s
Smiles of Arkansas
Park Hill Preschool
Husqvarna – All facilities / all shifts will remain closed today, 02-15-21.  As we continue to monitor the weather, we will make another announcement at 5:00 PM this afternoon concerning operations for Tuesday, 02-16-21.
Pilgrim’s – De Queen: No First or Second Shifts today (Mon) . As of now, Pilgrims is planning to resume normal operations on Tuesday. Stay tuned to KDQN for further updates
OPEN
Harris Drug open till Noon Today (02/15/2021)
Danson USA announces new facility in Hope; 50-100 jobs expected over next three years    02/12/2021
HOPE – Some good economic news is reaching Southwest Arkansas with the announcement this week of a new manufacturing and distribution center in Hope.
Dansons USA announced this week it will open the country’s largest barbecue wood pellet mill and distribution center in Hope. The facility, which is approximately 335,000 square feet and sits on 143 acres, will initially start with three pelleters and a 100,000-ton capacity, but has the infrastructure for eventual expansion to 300,000 tons and nine pelleters. The site will also serve as a distribution center for wood pellets as well as wood pellet barbecue grills and will be responsible for creating approximately 50-100 new jobs in the next three years.
In a press release, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Dansons is setting the barbecue world on fire with its high-quality wood pellets and top-flight pellet grills. He added that Dansons and Hope are a perfect match. Dansons and Arkansas will set the standard for barbecue wood pellets, and soon grill masters will be serving barbecue with the distinctive taste of Arkansas.

The site, which will be the crown jewel of Danson’s pellet creation and distribution operation, is a former Georgia-Pacific facility and has a strong infrastructure for wood processing. The town of Hope also has extensive fiber processing abilities, with several sawmills, paper mills and particle board plants already in the area. For Dansons, the pellets will be manufactured for the Pit Boss® Grills and Louisiana Grills® brands and are a 100% all-natural product that are free of artificial flavors, spray scents and binders.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said Dansons is renowned for their exceptional products and community involvement. He added the company is sure to have a huge impact on economic and community development in Southwest Arkansas.

Arctic air expected to bring freezing temps, snow to Southwest Arkansas    02/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Some seriously cold and potentially nasty winter weather is expected to arrive in Sevier County and the surrounding area this weekend and into next week.

Temperatures are predicted to drop considerably over the next several days and well below freezing starting Saturday night. That evening the low is expected to be around 20 degrees. That’s going to feel rather warm, however, when considering Sunday night’s low is 15 and Monday night’s is a bone-chilling seven degrees. Monday’s high isn’t much better at just 22 degrees.

Winter precipitation chances increase into the weekend as well, with a 20 percent chance of snow Saturday, 60 percent Sunday night and 70 percent chance of winter precipitation on Monday. Friday will be cold but clear, according to the National Weather Service.

Looking ahead into next week, the temperatures raise just slightly on Tuesday and Wednesday with additional chances for snow mid-week.

Central and Northeast Arkansas have so far seen the worst of the artic air in the state, with a ice storm warning issued Wednesday night.

A hazardous weather outlook on the National Weather Service warns of the affects of the severe cold and winter precipitation in the days ahead. The outlook includes southwest Arkansas, southeast Oklahoma and northeast Texas. Light icing accumulations will be possible on elevated objects such as bridges and overpasses, trees and power lines.

A mixture of light snow and sleet will be possible Saturday for portions of Southeast Oklahoma, extreme Northeast Texas, and Southwest Arkansas as a weak upper level disturbance moves through these areas. However, any snow or ice accumulations are expected to remain light.

Very cold temperatures are expected to settle south into the area this weekend. Shortly after it does so, a significant winter storm is expected to impact the region late Sunday night through Monday night, bringing the potential for significant accumulations of snow to the area. While it remains too early to determine snow amounts from this event, please stay tuned to the latest forecasts from your Number one Country and the National Weather Service concerning the potential for winter weather in the days ahead.

SAU announces Fall 2020 graduates    02/12/2021

Arkansas State University has listed students who completed degree requirements to graduate at its recent Fall Commencement ceremony.

SAU students from the listening area who received degrees included:

-Nancy Ann Tollett of De Queen with a Master of Science in Early Childhood Services.

-Caitlin Collins of De Queen who received her Master of Science degree in Sport Administration.

-and Stacy Dowdy of Nashville who received a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Nursing.

UAEX offering “Grow Your Own Groceries” seminars    02/12/2021

One trend that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued into 2021 is a greater interest among Arkansans in growing their own food.

In response to frequently-asked gardening questions, the Cooperative Extension Service has developed a series of online “Grow Your Own Groceries” presentations to share agents’ expertise in growing and preparing fruits and vegetables.

The one-hour live presentations are offered at noon on the first and third Thursday of each month. Each presentation highlights a different fruit or vegetable crop.

“We’re seeing a lot more people interested in edible gardening,” said Krista Quinn, agriculture agent with the Faulkner County Extension office, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “People who are interested in landscaping and flowers are getting into growing their own food, and we also are seeing people who have no experience gardening suddenly have an interest. I think it’s great. Part of the reason we wanted to do this program is to give people as much information as we can to help them be successful — whether they have a small suburban garden or a larger traditional garden.”

In each class, an agriculture agent or specialist will discuss selecting varieties, growing methods, and dealing with common pests and problems. Then, a family and consumer science agent will demonstrate how to prepare the produce in a healthy recipe. Agents and specialists from Benton, Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Lonoke, Miller, Pulaski, Washington, White and Woodruff counties are involved in the series.

Upcoming classes include:

Feb. 18 — Potatoes

March 4 — Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cabbage

March 18 — Salad greens

April 1 — Strawberries

April 15 — Herbs

May 6 — Cucumbers

“Being able to concentrate on a single crop at a time is a nice opportunity to focus on all the details of that crop — everything from selecting varieties that do well in Arkansas to common problems that gardeners encounter,” Quinn said.

There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. The class schedule and registration are available at www.uaex.edu/grow-groceries.

This year’s series began in January with classes about spring peas and blackberries. More than 500 people from Arkansas and neighboring states registered for each of those classes.

Most sessions include a 45-minute presentation with a question-and-answer. After the presentation, participants will receive relevant fact sheets on the fruit or vegetable and the featured recipe.

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.edu.

Arkansas House of Representatives update    02/12/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught, whose district encompasses Little River County and most of Sevier, has provided another update regarding the latest developments in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, the House passed several bills including the following:

HB1118, which allows the cottage food industry to sell goods online.

HB1067 to allow UAMS to create a breast milk bank and establish an account to fund the program.

SB32, which allows liquor stores, micro-brewery restaurants, and small breweries to deliver alcoholic beverages in wet counties. Deliveries are currently allowed under an executive order. This bill will allow the practice to continue once the health emergency order expires.

SB66 was also advanced and allows the tuition–free benefit for soldiers and airmen of the Arkansas National Guard to apply for programs of study in which courses are taken exclusively online.

SB173 adds food processing or manufacturing facilities and correctional facilities to the list of critical infrastructures in which unmanned aircraft (drones) are prohibited.

Finally, SB105. This bill amends the marriage eligibility requirement from 2 years to 1 year for survivors benefits under the Arkansas State Highway Employees’ Retirement System.

Due to the expected inclement weather, the House will not convene again until Monday at 1 p.m.

Attorney General warns of Valentine Day-related scams    02/12/2021

With Valentine’s Day approaching, law enforcement agencies in Arkansas are reminding the public it is important to remain cautious of suitors trying to gain access to your personal information online. Con artists are getting more creative now than ever by targeting those Arkansans looking for love. Scammers will befriend someone online, slowly gaining trust and access to more personal information, including financial information, birthdates, and social security numbers. This is commonly referred to as a “sweetheart scam.”

Law enforcement agencies warm scammers will use whatever means they can to steal from Arkansans. Guard your heart, bank account and personal information from cons trying to become friends to steal your hard-earned money.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge offered the following advice to help prevent more victims of the sweetheart scam:

-Share your hopes and dreams, not your salary and bank information. Be honest about your expectations, not your pin number. Reveal your hobbies, not your passwords.

-Plan to meet in public, not in a private, secluded or an unknown place. Talk about your favorite vacations, not when you’re leaving town. Hope for the best in others, but don’t ignore red flags.

The Attorney General’s Office provides a tip card for consumers, how to spot phishing scams, information for parents to spot cyberbullying and tips on internet safety.

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

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    02/12/2021

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 in Sevier County saw a net increase of nine yesterday, raising the current total to 132. Overall cases grew by 18 to 2,510 while deaths remained at 27.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported three fewer active cases for a current total of 37. Total cases grew to 1,102 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported six fewer active cases on Thursday for a current total of 84. Overall cases grew by six to 1,470. Deaths remain at 24.

Polk County reported an additional death yesterday, raising the death toll from the virus in Polk County to 59 since the pandemic began. Active cases increased by eight for a current total of 102. Overall cases grew by 17 to 1,814.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County also reported an additional death from COVID-19 on Thursday for a total of 60. Active cases saw a slight decrease, falling by five to 269 currently confirmed and probable active cases. Overall cases grew by 14 to 3,647.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just over 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The cumulative statewide total now totals around 311,000 since the start of the pandemic. Active cases saw another day of consecutive decline, falling by 672 for a current total of 13,500 active cases. Deaths increased by 25 to 5,199.

Horatio School Board approves 2021-2022 calendar        02/12/21

Horatio Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, February 8, 2021 in the high school cafeteria.
Nikki Evans, business teacher, presented the internship program offered at high school to board members and patrons.
Board members approved 2021-22 school calendar with first day of school being August 16, 2021 and last day would be May 25, 2022. They also approved cheerleading constitution revisions, 2022-23 proposed budget. The board voted to petition City of Horatio for Lane Fields to be annexed into city limits.
Board members voted to renew 2021-22 contracts for principals, Curtis Black and Gayla Youngblood, hired Magan Dorsey, 2021-22 Jr High Cheerleader coach, and accepted resignation from art teacher, Jennifer West, effective at end of 2020-21 contract.
The board approved financial statements, monthly bills, and minutes of January 11, 2021 meeting as presented.
Superintendent, Zane Vanderpool reported on ESSER II funds and plans for 70-80% to be spent on student support. Principals, Curtis Black and Gayla Youngblood gave reports on interim tests and upcoming events.

Arctic front to bring sub-freezing temps, snow to Southwest Arkansas in coming days    02/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Some seriously cold and potentially nasty winter weather is expected to arrive in Sevier County and the surrounding area this weekend and into next week.
Temperatures are predicted to drop considerably over the next several days and well below freezing starting Saturday night. That evening the low is expected to be around 20 degrees. That’s going to feel rather warm, however, when considering Sunday night’s low is 15 and Monday night’s is a bone-chilling eight degrees. Monday’s high isn’t much better at just 23 degrees.
Winter precipitation chances increase into the weekend as well, with a 20 percent chance of snow Saturday, 50 percent Sunday night and 80 percent chance of winter precipitation on Monday. Friday will be cold but clear, according to the National Weather Service.
Looking ahead into next week, the temperatures raise just slightly on Tuesday and Wednesday with additional chances for snow mid-week.
Central and Northeast Arkansas have so far seen the worst of the artic air in the state, with a ice storm warning issued Wednesday night.
A hazardous weather outlook on the National Weather Service warns of the affects of the severe cold and winter precipitation in the days ahead. The outlook includes southwest Arkansas, southeast Oklahoma and northeast Texas.
According to the National Weather Service, a wave of light freezing rain will be possible late Thursday night through Friday morning across portions of Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas, before temperatures climb back above freezing by midday, as the precipitation diminishes. Light icing accumulations will be possible on elevated objects such as bridges and overpasses, trees and power lines.A mixture of light snow and sleet will be possible Saturday for portions of Southeast Oklahoma, extreme Northeast Texas, and Southwest Arkansas as a weak upper level disturbance moves through these areas. However, any snow or ice accumulations are expected to remain light.

Very cold temperatures are expected to settle south into the area this weekend. Shortly after it does so, a significant winter storm is expected to impact the region late Sunday night through Monday night, bringing the potential for significant accumulations of snow to the area. While it remains too early to determine snow amounts from this event, please stay tuned to the latest forecasts from your Number one Country and the National Weather Service concerning the potential for winter weather tonight in the days ahead.

Newly-announced Minority Affairs Council announces community mural project     02/11/2021
The newly-formed Minority Affairs Council (MAC) met last week and announced their first project: covering up graffiti recently painted on a local business in De Queen with a community-inspired mural. The group plans to continue discussions on the project at its next meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18 starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen.

DE QUEEN – A team of area organizers have launched an inclusive local group and announced plans for a community mural as their first project in De Queen this month.
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. After their most recent meeting held in downtown De Queen last Thursday, 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.

In addition to erasing the act of vandalism, the group also envisions the future mural to serve as a tourist attraction for visitors driving through on U.S Highway 70. Ideally, travelers can take a family photo at the “Welcome to De Queen Mural” and stop for coffee and food at nearby restaurants on the way through town.

The Minority Affairs Council also hopes to use the mural as an opportunity to promote the diverse cultures of Sevier County. The group discussed possibly painting leaders of De Queen’s past or the word “Welcome” in different languages on the piece. This decision, along with selecting a Board of Directors and finalizing regular meeting places and times are on the agenda for the next meeting on Feb. 18.

Other goals for the group this year include planning an annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, organizing authentic Hispanic Heritage month events and a Juneteenth celebration to embrace African-American culture. The Minority Affairs Council also hopes to support residents in pursuing local government, build a multi-cultural center and African-American museum in the future.

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. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Party Room Candela in Downtown De Queen.

All meetings can also be viewed on Facebook live and in-person meeting attendees are encouraged to wear masks and social distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For questions or more information, email DQunity@gmail.com

Ashdown Public Schools announces 2020-2021 Teachers of the Year    02/11/2021

Ashdown Public Schools announced this week its recipients of the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year awards. From left to right are Ashdown Junior High School Teacher of the Year Jamie Flemings, Ashdown Elementary School Teacher of the Year Shawnda Chester and Ashdown High School Teacher of the Year Melanie McGraw. (Photo submitted by Ronda Pounds of Ashdown Public Schools)

ASHDOWN – Ashdown Public Schools has announced its three Teachers of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year.

On, Monday Feb. 8, the Ashdown School Board announced three teachers from Ashdown Public Schools were recognized as being the Teachers of the Year for their respective campuses.  Shawnda Chester was selected by her peers as Teacher of the Year (TOY) for Ashdown Elementary, Jamie Fleming for Ashdown Junior High School, and Melanie McGraw for Ashdown High School.

Shawnda Chester was selected as the Ashdown School District Teacher of the Year.  After the announcement, she graciously thanked the board, administration and her fellow TOY winners for all of their support over the years and stated how honored she was to be selected along with Ms. Fleming and Mrs. McGraw.

Ms. Chester started her employment with Ashdown Public Schools as a school bus driver in 2004. Since then she has served as a substitute teacher at all campuses, 9th grade math remediation teacher, and computer technician all while working her way through college.  She earned her Associate’s Degree in General Studies from UA Cossatot in 2007 and earned her Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Arts and Sciences from Texas A&M University-Texarkana in 2017.  She started her first year at L.F. Henderson for the 2017-2018 school year as a fifth grade math and science teacher and continued on with her education.  She earned her Master’s of Arts in Teaching Degree from Southern Arkansas University in August 2018.  This is her fourth year to teach fifth grade math and her seventeenth year to drive a bus for Ashdown Public Schools.  District officials say she has a passion for sharing knowledge and for helping students build a desire to push through adversities one step at a time.

Jamie Fleming, the AJHS TOY, is a 2008 graduate of Ashdown High School and currently in her ninth year of teaching.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Arkansas State University and holds several teaching certifications. She previously taught theatre at North Heights Junior High and was a high school sports coach. Ms. Fleming said she has long held a passion for history since watching the History Channel as a child with her family. That passion extends into the class room with Ms. Fleming striving to share an understanding of history and empathy for humankind with her students.

Melanie Rice McGraw, the AHS TOY, graduated from Ashdown High School in 1990.  After graduation from AHS, she graduated from East Texas State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and has her Master’s of Science in Education in Educational Leadership from Arkansas State University.  Mrs. McGraw has taught Art for 16 years in the district along with teaching EAST.  According to AHS Principal Kay York noted her Mrs. McGraw’s art classes are so popular they are attended at maximum capacity each year. Mrs. McGraw is married to Fred McGraw and together they have three sons and a granddaughter.

Ashdown Superintendent Casey Nichols said he and the entire district could not be prouder of this group of teachers.  He said these teachers exemplify the educator’s drive to go above and beyond each and every day to educate students.

Power companies warn of high heating bills as temps drop, offer tips on reducing costs    02/11/2021

DE QUEEN – With the colder weather moving in, area power companies are offering a few tips to help with the high heating bills that come with the low temps.

Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative said its offices are already receiving extremely high call volumes from customers questioning their bills after last month’s cold stretch in the cooperative’s five-county service area.

When cold snaps occur – and we’re in for a very cold snap over the next few days – HVAC systems and water heaters are required to work much harder. The constant cycling on and off makes member usage much higher, Rich Mountain Electric stated. Other sources of heat such as space heaters also contribute to higher electric bills.

To ease the stress of higher bills, consumers should monitor their usage and especially make sure any emergency heating settings on their thermostats are not turned on. Consumers should also be aware that space heaters and similar auxiliary heating devices are generally highly inefficient.

Consumers who heat their home with a heat pump should check their thermostat and ensure it is set to HEAT and not the emergency or auxiliary heat setting. Accidentally setting your thermostat to emergency or auxiliary heating settings is an easy and costly mistake to make during cold weather. Don’t worry, modern heat pumps are designed to keep you warm all the way down into single-digit temperatures automatically. If your heat pump is malfunctioning, contact your local service company and only use emergency heat temporarily until your unit is repaired.

Obviously, the amount your HVAC system works to heat your home depends on the difference between the outdoor temperature and desired indoor temperature. The greater the difference, the harder the system must work.

Almond Creek bridge in Sevier County closed for replacement    02/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County officials are informing the public of a bridge closure beginning this week.

The Almond Bridge over Almond Creek on Ladd Bridge Road was closed Wednesday and will remain closed until further notice. The closure is being held to allow county crews to begin the process of placing Almond Bridge. A detour around the bridge will be available during the bridge closure.

Gillham VFD hosting rifle fundraiser     02/11/2021

GILLHAM – The Gillham Volunteer Fire Department is currently hosting 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 5. 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. Contact Gillham Fire Chief Mark Rosson at (870) 584-9434 or any other Gillham firefighter to purchase tickets.

Sevier County Libraries again returning to curbside-only services     02/11/2021
DE QUEEN – After recently reopening its lobbies to the public, the Sevier County Library System is again limiting access to its libraries. Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher cited the rising number of active COVID-19 cases in the community. All four Sevier County Libraries will return to curbside serve for the time being.
Fisher said the decision was made for the safety of the librarians and community patrons. Sevier County libraries continue to offer their usual services during regular hours but curbside only. For more information contact your local library or visit www.seviercountylibrary.com
ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Sevier County reports second death in as many days     02/11/2021
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:
Yesterday Sevier County reported its second death from COVID-19 in as many days. The additional death raises the death toll from the virus in Sevier County to 27 since the pandemic began. Active cases did see a slight decrease, falling by four to 123 currently. Overall cases grew by eight to 2,492.
In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two fewer active cases for a currently total of 40. Total cases grew to 1,097 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported 11 fewer active cases on Wednesday for a current total of 90. Overall cases grew by four to 1,464 while deaths remained at 40.

Polk County reported seven fewer active cases yesterday for a current total of 94. Overall cases rose by 12 to 1,797 while deaths remain at 58.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a net increase of four active COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the total to 274. Cumulative cases grew by 20 to 3,633. Deaths remain at 59.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just shy of 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The cumulative statewide total now totals nearly 310,000 since the start of the pandemic. Active cases saw another day of consecutive decline, falling by 708 for a current total of 14,190 active cases. Deaths increased by 26 to 5,174 while hospitalizations fell by 40 to leave 735 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

De Queen Public Schools seeking community partnerships for artificial turf field    
 02/10/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School District is reaching out to potential corporate sponsors to help bring an artificial field turf to the athletic field at Leopard Stadium.
District officials say artificial field turf possesses numerous advantages over a natural grass field. Those benefits include an improvement to athletic safety as shock pads are placed under the field to help reduce concussions. Maintenance and upkeep costs are drastically reduced. Artificial field turf also increases durability in all weather conditions – a major benefit given natural fields are prone holding water and quicker wear and tear during use. District officials also say an artificial field would bring an improvement to the appearance of Leopard Stadium.
Currently, Leopard Stadium is host to numerous athletic activities including football, track, soccer and city-league peewee football. The field is also host to the district’s graduation ceremonies and a number of community-related events. An artificial turf field, say De Queen officials, would benefit not just student-athletes and coaches but the community as a whole.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said it’s a project the district hopes to accomplish with help from the community.

The Athletic Department is offering different levels of sponsorship, which will come with different benefit packages, for prospective partners to consider. These sponsorship packages may be paid out as one large payment or can be divided out over a period of up to ten years. The main benefit for partners in this project will be the advertising that they receive, not only on the field/sideline as a logo, but also on the new 17ft x 31ft video/scoreboard that is currently being installed at Leopard Stadium.
Sanders said De Queen is one of only three districts in Arkansas at the 5A level that currently does not have artificial field turf. By partnering with local businesses and the community, the district hopes to have the opportunity to provide its students with the same type of facility that so many other students and communities in Arkansas already enjoy and are proud of. De Queen Public Schools Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton said the artificial turf project would be an improvement that benefits the entire community. He added this is an opportunity for Leopard supporters to be a part of something tremendous for De Queen’s kids, its school, and the overall community.
Sanders said reception to the proposed turf project has been met with enthusiasm.

If you or your business is interested in learning more about becoming a Leopard Turf Sponsor, contact Lance Pinkerton or Brad Chesshir at the De Queen Administration Office at (870)-584-4312.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, area schools are reaching out to parents and guardians to inform them of a few new guidelines in place this year.
Rep. DeAnn Vaught shares state legislative update     02/10/2021
State Representative DeAnn Vaught is sharing another update related to the latest developments in the Arkansas House of Representatives.
Today is the last day members can file proposed Constitutional Amendments for the November 2022 General ElectionThe General Assembly can refer a maximum of three amendments for that election.The House State Agencies committee will review and vote on proposed amendments later in the session.

Meanwhile, the House passed several bills yesterday afternoon, including the following:

HB1110, which requires a state entity to report security breaches to the legislative auditor. If the auditor believes the security incident significantly compromises citizens’ data or creates significant concern, the auditor will notify the Governor and legislative leaders.

HB1265 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.

HB1017 states that Arkansas would permanently adopt Daylight Saving Time when the federal government allows states to do so and when surrounding states declare their intent to do so.

HB1359 allows the Division of Children and Family Services to release certain information regarding foster children, such as information needed for tax filing purposes. 

HB1176 would ensure that Arkansas Medicaid reimbursements for telemedicine of certain behavioral and mental health services continue after the health emergency ends.

HB1116 if passed would establish “Simon’s Law,” named after a Missouri child whose death led to similar laws being passed in several states. It would require health care professionals to obtain at least one parent’s consent before placing a “do not resuscitate” order for a child.

HB1029 adds former representative and civil rights attorney John Walker to the list of Arkansas civil rights leaders to be included in teaching materials regarding African-American history in public schools.

The House will convene on Wednesday at 1 pm.

Valentine Day guidelines at Horatio, De Queen Public Schools     02/10/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary School is asking Valentine Day gifts from parents or guardians and from flower shops to be delivered to the school on Thursday, Feb. 11 between 3:30-5 p.m. Staff will be on hand to accept deliveries. Valentine parties will be held on Friday, Feb. 12 at 1:30 p.m. Parents and guardians will not be allowed to attend. Studentsa re not allowed to bring food or snacks from home, but snacks will be provided in each classroom. Students are not allowed to bring individual valentines for their classmates. In addition, Horatio Elementary is not allowing large mylar balloons to be delivered.

For Horatio High School, Valentine Day gifts need to be delivered to the school beginning Feb. 11 during school hours and no later than noon on Friday, Feb. 12. No late gifts will be accepted nor will balloons. All gifts must be labeled with the students name and grade.

Guidelines are much similar at De Queen Public Schools this year. Those guidelines include encouraging parents and guardians to deliver their Valentine Day gifts on Thursday, Feb. 11 from 3:30-5 p.m. District staff will be on hand to accept the deliveries during this time period and will then distribute them on Friday. Flower shops are also being asked to deliver flowers and gifts during this 3:30-5 p.m. time slot on Thursday, Feb. 11. No outside food will be accepted.

School officials with both De Queen and Horatio School Districts expressed their gratitude for the continued patience and support from parents, the community and school staff during this difficult school year.

Blanket giveaway program in Broken Bow     02/10/2021

BROKEN BOW, Okla. – House Upon a Rock in Broken Bow is now accepting blanket donations for those in need. Organizers say with colder weather moving in this week, it’s more important than ever to ensure local folks in need are helped kept warm through these donations. Anyone with older blankets (in reasonably good condition) are asked to drop them off and pass them along to a good cause. Blankets can be dropped off at either House Upon a Rock located at 203 Main St or the Broken Bow Chamber Office located at 113 W MLK Drive.

Organizers say they are also dealing with a heavy litter problem on the highway between Broken Bow and Idabel. They say it’s vital to keep local communities looking clean and beautiful, with many visitors year-round passing through the area. Organizers ask that, if you are as concerned about the issue as they are, reach out to the local ODOT office and ask for inmate assistance for highway cleanliness. There are programs in place that allow inmates to assist with picking up trash and it just takes a call for this to happen and be scheduled. The Idabel ODOT office phone number is 580-286-2524.

Gov. Hutchinson provides weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update     02/10/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Arkansas health officials reported just shy of 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday while also noting a consistent decline in the state’s active caseload.
During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state marked a one-day growth of 1,475 cases on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to nearly 309,000. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline with 422 less. Currently the state is reporting just under 15,000 active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by 42, raising the death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas to 5,148 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations decreased by two, leaving 775 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.
In his vaccine report, Hutchinson said the state has so far received more than 651,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Of those around 413,000 have been given, or around 63 percent. Hutchinson then stated the state was prepared to follow possible new guidance from the CDC recommending second doses be reallocated if individuals do not return for their required booster shot. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a second follow-up shot three to four weeks after the initial dose. Hutchinson urged those who have received their first dose to follow up on their second.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero shared a positive milestone during the conference with Arkansas’ COVID-19 testing positivity rate falling below 10 percent for the first time in months. The 10 percent marker is the goal set forth by the CDC in terms of reducing positivity rates of the virus.
In review, the state reported 1,475 new cases of the virus for a cumulative total of nearly 309,000 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths increased by 42 to 5,148 while hospitalizations fell by two to 775. Total recoveries numbered around 290,000 as of Tuesday. Active cases fell by 422 for a current total of 14,898.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     02/10/2021

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:

Sevier County reported an additional death due to COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the death toll in the county to 26 since the pandemic began. Active cases also saw a sizable increase yesterday, increasing by 12 to 127. Overall cases grew by 20 to 2,484 since the pandemic began.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported no change in its active COVID-19 caseload, which remains at 42. Total cases grew by seven to 1,093 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported two additional active cases yesterday for a current total of 101. Overall cases grew by 15 to 1,460 while deaths remain at 24.

Polk County reported two fewer active cases yesterday for a current total of 101. Overall cases rose by 16 to 1,785 while deaths remain at 58.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 14 fewer active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, lowering the total to 270. Cumulative cases grew to 3,613. Deaths remain at 59.

Kirby Adcock named to Leopards football coaching staff      02/09/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Kirby Adcock, a Nashville native and former Arkansas Razorbacks offensive lineman, will join the De Queen Leopards football coaching staff this year. (Photo courtesy of UofA Fayetteville)

The De Queen Leopards are set to receive an all-star addition to their football coaching staff with a new hire this summer.

The De Queen School District announced it will hire Kirby Adcock as an assistant football coach and history teacher. The decision to hire Adcock was made during the De Queen School Board’s meeting Monday night.
The six-foot, eight-inch, 289-pound Nashville native was a redshirt freshman for the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2017. He served as offensive lineman for the Razorbacks in his freshman and sophomore years. Adcock was one of the top recruited offensive linemen after graduating high school. He was also named to the fall SEC academic honor roll both seasons he played.
Superintendent Jason Sanders said Adcock’s addition to the Leopards football coaching staff will be a huge boost for the team.

On the district’s Facebook page, Head Coach Brad Chesshir said Adcock will bring youth and high energy to the Leopard’s football program. He added that Adcock will be a big asset to the coaching staff as they continue to revitalize the football program.
Adcock is set to officially start this July.
After heated meeting, Sevier County Quorum Court sets Feb. 16 meeting to finalize alcohol ordinances      02/09/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

During a well-attended and contentious meeting Monday afternoon, the Sevier County Quorum Court declined again to advance regulations related to alcohol sales in the county but voted to make its final decision next week in special session.
During a discussion that lasted over an hour – and included numerous interruptions, questions and misunderstandings – justices of the peace debated two ordinances needed to allow alcohol sales to begin within the unincorporated areas of Sevier County. Although Sevier County residents voted overwhelmingly to go wet last year, Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control nonetheless requires county and city governments to pass local ordinances regulating those sales. Despite the legalization of alcohol sales in Sevier County last November, the quorum court has so far declined to advance those needed ordinances as they continue to debate the specifics of those ordinances’ regulations.
In specific, the first of those two ordinances must address the permitting process for businesses and restaurants wishing to sell or serve alcohol in Sevier County. The second would either allow or prohibit restaurants or other businesses from selling liquor by the glass for onsite consumption – as opposed to packaged sales off-site consumption.
The meeting was unusual for the number of county residents in attendance. Several dozen people – mostly local business owners – showed up to press the quorum court to act quickly on voting in those ordinances. Several business owners spoke to the delay and how it’s preventing local businesses from beginning the permitting process to sell or serve alcohol within areas of the county not governed by municipal authorities. So far only De Queen and Lockesburg have passed their own ordinances to allow that process to begin. Ordinances passed by the quorum court, however, would only affect the unincorporated parts of the county.
Several business owners in attendance at yesterday’s meeting also expressed their opposition to the quorum court advancing any prohibitively expensive permit fees or other revenue collection mechanisms such as a percentage collected from yearly gross revenue. Sevier County resident and business owner Monica Pearce said local small businesses are struggling enough under the pandemic without the burden of more permitting fees or revenue collections. In an interview during a break in yesterday’s meeting, Pearce said it’s vital local restaurants also have the option to sell mixed drinks and other strong spirits under a county ordinance.

The quorum court itself was split in opinion about the pace of passing alcohol-related ordinances. Justices Angie Walker, Greg Wright and David Wright all expressed their desire to see the ordinances pass at yesterday’s meeting while Justices Roxie Stephens and Earl Battiest cautioned for more time to explore the issue. In a five-to-two vote, the quorum court decided to meet on Tuesday, Feb. 16 to vote on those ordinances. The delay was met with audible disappointment by those in attendance but supportive justices urged a few more days were needed to formulate the final ordinances. Justice Angie Walker said she plans to advance an ordinance without any tax increase and with only a $25 annual permit fee.

Justice Earl Battiest did not express direct opposition to any alcohol-related ordinance but said he would like to see the permit fee remain at $250. This is the fee set for decades for private club applications in Sevier County.
There was no further mention of additional revenue collections on alcohol sales during the meeting. Pearce warned justices that additional collections could raise the cost of alcohol to a prohibitive level. High taxes would only force people to travel a little further down the road to make their purchases, she added.
James Babb, who manages property for 10 businesses in Sevier County, said he sees the struggles every day faced by local small businesses. He said three of those 10 businesses may be shuttered within the next few months due to the economic challenges they are facing. More fees and revenue collections, he added, will only add to their burden. Babb said even many local small businesses not planning to serve or sell alcohol nonetheless still see a wet Sevier County as an economic opportunity and alcohol sales as “the light at the end of the tunnel.”
After yesterday’s meeting, the quorum court stated it will meet to make its final decision next Tuesday, Feb. 16. The meeting will be held at 2 p.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse and is open to the public.
Gage Woods named 2020 recipient of De Queen Rotary Cup      02/09/2021
Gage Woods was awarded the Rotary Cup by the De Queen Rotary Club during an awards ceremony on Monday.
The award is presented annually to outstanding Leopard football players who excel both on and off the field. Gage served as the Leopards quarterback on offense and linebacker on defense for the 2020 football season.
He is the 86th recipient of the Rotary Club since its inauguration in 1936.
Gage is the son of Jeff and Allison Woods. Pictured presenting the award is De Queen Rotarian Jay Bunyard.

DE QUEEN – The Rotary Cup has been presented annually to the Most Valuable Senior on the De Queen Leopards football team since 1936. Past winners of the award represent top students and athletes spanning over eight decades at De Queen High School. 

At Monday’s noon meeting of the club, “The Voice of the Leopards” Jay Bunyard presented the award for the 2020 season to quarterback-linebacker Gage Woods. He’s the 86thall-time recipient of the Rotary Cup. 
A co-captain on the team in 2020, Gage rushed for four touchdowns, and passed for 277 yards and a score during his career. On defense, Gage was credited with 54 tackles, four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection during his Leopards career. He was second team All-Conference as a senior. On the baseball diamond, Gage has hit .270 with five doubles, a triple, 20 runs batted in, and two game winning hits. On the pitching mound, his earned run average is a sparkling 2.12, and he’s been credited with three wins, two saves, and has struck out 29 batters. 

Woods also excels in the classroom with a 3.07 grade point average. He’s active in his church, the De Queen Church of Christ, where he has assisted with the food pantry, and helped prepare gift bags to deliver to nursing home residents. The son of Jeff and Allison Woods, Gage plans to attend U of A Cossatot after graduation in May, and then after two years, transfer to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where he plans to obtain a degree in education. 

During the awards presentation, Leopards Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir spoke of Gage’s strength on the football field and offered some works of encouragement for the future. 

Besides performance on the football field, The Rotary Cup is also based on character, leadership, scholastic achievements, and participation in other school activities. 

Suffering test scores among virtual students prompts De Queen School District to end remote learning this fall     02/09/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

COVID-19 has caused suffering on many levels of our society over the past year, from the obvious public health risks to the less noticeable economic and emotional tolls generated by the pandemic and the response to it. The De Queen School District says education has not escaped the consequences of COVID-19 either.

The district made several announcements during Monday night’s school board meeting to address the declining performance of its virtual students. Superintendent Jason Sanders said assessment tests performed this school year show around 80 percent of the district’s virtual students are in need of some level of remedial help.

Like most schools across the country, De Queen offered a virtual learning option in the fall for students and parents who were concerned about in-class instruction in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 20 to 25 percent of the student body – nearly 600 kids – opted for the district’s virtual option. But assessment tests show the majority of these students are falling behind.

It’s a situation facing not just De Queen Public Schools, but nearly every school district in the country with a virtual learning option. It’s a phenomenon some have called the Grade Depression. The pandemic and the responses to it forced many school districts to scramble to provide an alternative learning platform. Due to restrictions on social distancing, remote or online learning became the logical alternative for many schools.

De Queen school administrators worked deliberately last summer to introduce a virtual learning platform that would provide a quality education. But even the best online learning format can’t overcome the most simple and undeniable of educational facts – students learn best when they’re in class in-person.

Virtual learning largely removes the personal engagement that a solid education relies upon. Online instruction also requires a level of discipline that, honestly, is difficult to match. Anyone who’s enrolled in an online class at college can attest to that fact. With those realities in mind, Sanders said the district has outlined its number one goal for the start of the 2021-2022 school year – ending the virtual learning option and returning to a completely in-class setting for the fall semester.

Sanders said there will of course be some exceptions. But, like every school district in the country, De Queen is counting on the pandemic to be at a much more controllable level this fall – if not a thing of the past. And with vaccine distributions increasing throughout the nation, there is reason for educators to express hope. Hope is vital right now, Sanders added, because there is no substitution for in-class instruction.

For those virtual students whose education has suffered, the district also has a plan. Sanders said De Queen will rely on new funding through the federal CARES Act to help catch up those virtual students who are falling behind. The district received around $3.2 million under the second CARES Act passed in December. Of that, the district plans to allocate around $2 million towards remedial efforts. That would include tutoring, additional engagement opportunities, remediation lessons and other programs to help close the gap which opened over the past school year.

But De Queen administrators stress the most important goal is getting students back in class. Adjusting to the new normal of the COVID-19 era, Sanders said, will let schools get back to what they do best: teaching students.

Howard County Sheriff’s Office investigating attempted ATM theft in Mineral Springs    02/09/2021

Original article by www.southwestarkansasradio.com

MINERAL SPRINGS – An attempted early Friday morning robbery at Diamond Bank in Mineral Springs is under investigation by local and federal authorities.

Howard County Sheriff Bryan McJunkins said the bank alarm was received around 2:30 a.m. Friday morning. Howard County Sheriff’s deputies and officers from the Nashville Police Department responded and were on scene within a matter of minutes. Upon arrival at the bank building, which also houses the Mineral Springs Police Department, officers discovered a three quarter ton Ford diesel truck with a chain attached to it and the ATM unit at the bank.

Sheriff McJunkins said the ATM was destroyed in the incident, but it appears the would be robbers were not able to get any money from the unit. The machine is valued at $20,000-$35,000 dollars.

During their investigation, authorities ran the truck’s license plate and learned the vehicle had been stolen Thursday night from a repair shop in Ashdown.

Sheriff McJunkins said this is the third such incident of similar nature to occur in the region recently. The two previous instances happened in the Texarkana vicinity.

Lockesburg City Council to meet tonight      02/09/2021

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg City Council will meet tonight in regular session beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center.

Items on the agenda include routine financial matters as well as an electronic device plan to allow city employees to work from home. The council will also return to the issue of permits for alcohol sales in the city limits.

The Lockesburg City Council met in special session last month to pass its own ordinance in relation to regulating alcohol sales in Lcokesburg. The ordinance established a $25 licensing fee for any business or vendor that sells or serves alcohol within Lockesburg. These establishments would of course first require authorization from Alcohol Beverage Control to sell, serve or manufacture alcohol.

In contrast to De Queen, Lockesburg’s ordinance also included a three percent sales tax on the gross revenue from all sales of alcoholic beverages in the city.

Tonight’s meeting is open to the public.

De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperate to host teacher recruitment meetings   02/09/2021

GILLHAM – The DeQueen-Mena Educational Service Cooperative will host a virtual information session on teacher recruitment later this month.

Six informational sessions will take place beginning Feb. 25 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. An afternoon Zoom session will also provide an opportunity to speak individually with the cooperative’s Recruitment and Retention Specialist.

Sessions include information about the alternative routes to earning a teacher’s license without going through a teacher training program at a college, the financial aid available to potential teachers, information on the professional test(s) required to become a teacher, and the support available to novice teachers. Those interested can participate in one or all of the Zoom sessions.

Presenters include Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education staff and Educational Cooperative specialists from around the state.

Call 479-385-4319 for additional details.

Harvest Food Bank in Lockesburg tomorrow for food distribution   02/09/2021

LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank is returning to Sevier County tomorrow with its USDA Mobile Food Pantry.

Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute commodities directly from its truck on Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia in Lockesburg.

With CDC precautions and recommendations against the Coronavirus still in place, Harvest officials said they are taking every measure to ensure the safety of its staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are operating as “drive-thru” distributions, with food boxes being loaded directly into vehicles. Recipients will be asked not to exit their vehicle or park to pick up food. Recipients must bring photo identification or proof of address for verifying they are a resident of Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one box per household and 2 households per vehicle.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   02/09/2021

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 the virus in Sevier County fell by four yesterday to number 115 currently. Overall cases grew slightly to 2,464. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported no change in its active COVID-19 caseload, which remains at 42. Total cases grew by three to 1,086 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported fiver fewer active cases yesterday for a current total of 99. Overall cases grew to 1,445 while deaths remain at 24.

Polk County reported an additional death yesterday, raising the death toll in the county to 58 since the pandemic began. Active cases decreased slightly to 103 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Polk County. Total cases grew slightly to 1,769.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County saw no change in its active COVID-19 caseload, which remains at 284. Cumulative cases grew by nine to 3,610. Deaths remain at 59.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 637 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the lowest one-day figure since the year began. Monday’s increase raises the cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions in Arkansas to just over 307,000 since the pandemic began. Active positive cases did see another decrease, falling by nearly over 1,000 to number 15,320 currently. Deaths increased by 30 on Sunday for a total of 5,106. Hospitalizations decreased by four, leaving 777 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Dierks School District transitions to online learning through Feb. 10   02/08/2021
DIERKS – The Dierks School District will be transitioning to virtual learning beginning today and continuing through mid-week due to COVID-19.
In a statement on its Facebook page on Friday, district officials said all Dierks students will pivot to virtual learning today through this Wednesday, Feb. 10. The district said it will make a decision after Wednesday to determine if learning will return to onsite instruction or continue virtually.
Both the elementary and high school campuses will be available during normal school hours for students needing to use the district’s internet. However, no meals will be served during these virtual days and no buses will run.
The district said the school’s nursing staff has contacted all probable close contacts as of Friday.
New video scoreboard up at Leopard Stadium   02/08/2021
DE QUEEN – Leopard Stadium’s new scoreboard is up and De Queen fans are sure to enjoy this big, eye-catching addition to the field.
The De Queen School District announced last year Leopard Stadium would be home to a new and vastly improved scoreboard and video board. Besides serving as a scoreboard for sporting events held at the stadium, the video board will be a huge complement to the new television production program set unveiled in the fall.
The video board alone meaures 31-feet wide by 18-feet tall.
First State Bank of De Queen donated $200,000 for the scoreboard, which covers most of the project save some installation costs. District officials had plans to construct the video board in the future through community donations, but never expected plans to move so quickly. De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said that’s all thanks to the donation by First State Bank.

“Without them we wouldn’t have been able to do this, at least not so quickly,” said Sanders. “This is going to be a huge addition to our stadium and we couldn’t be more thankful for First State Bank of De Queen for making this all possible.”

First State Bank has traditionally sponsored the scoreboard at Leopard Stadium. Officials at First State Bank in De Queen said the bank is honored and proud to be able to fund the new video board at the football field.
Sanders said the district expects the board to be fully operational in time for the start of the 2021 football season. The board will then be used at graduation ceremonies and other sporting events.
One of the most exciting features of the new video board for incoming students is how they’ll be able to engage with it through the new television production program at De Queen High School. De Queen Teacher Beau McCastlain said students will be able to create content through the program which will be featured on the video board as well as other mediums throughout the school district. The entire program is geared at teaching students the fundamentals of video production and broadcast journalism. The goal is to provide participating students with the skills needed to enter the workforce in a related field.
McCastlain, who has extensive history working as a sports reporter and anchor for several television studios across Arkansas, is heading the new television lab program. The program launched for sophomores this past fall semester.
Two ASH students recognized by SkillsUSA  02/08/2021
ASHDOWN –  On Wednesday, Feb. 3, two Ashdown High School students who are currently serving as Arkansas SkillsUSA State Officers were pinned in a special ceremony held in Malvern at Arkansas State University – Three Rivers University.
Those students include Reagan Burden, a sophomore at AHS who is serving in the position of Treasurer, and Chloe Silva, a sophomore serving in the position of Historian.
Ashdown High School SkillsUSA Sponsor Amy Silva said both students worked hard and have a lot to be proud of following the ceremony. Silva said, despite the unorthodox school year, both students have shown great flexibility and willingness to serve even in the face of a pandemic.
According to its website, “SkillsUSA is a national membership association serving high school, college and middle school students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations, and for further education.  SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Simply put, Silva said SkillsUSA helps students excel in a high demand and high skilled work environment.  SkillsUSA’s mission includes empowering its members to become work-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. SkillsUSA seeks to improve the quality of the nation’s future skilled workforce through the development of Framework skills that include personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics.”
Dept. of Agriculture now taking nominations for Arkansas Century Farm Program  02/08/2021
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) is now accepting applications for the 2021 Arkansas Century Farm program. This 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.

Arkansas Senate passes bill to exempt unemployment benefits from taxes  02/08/2021

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Senate has voted to exempt last year’s unemployment benefits from state income taxes, to help people who lost their jobs because of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senate Bill 236 would apply to benefits paid in 2020 and 2021. The unemployment rate in Arkansas had been around four percent until the coronavirus pandemic caused widespread business closures, especially in hospitality, tourism and travel. The jobless rate spiked to around 10 percent before it began to improve.

Before the pandemic, about 44,000 people in Arkansas claimed unemployment in 2018 and 2019, a state revenue official told senators during a committee hearing on SB 236. Last year more than 281,000 people filed for unemployment, according to the Department of Workforce Services.

SB 236 is expected to save those people more than $51 million in state income taxes when they file this year, the revenue official said.

The next step is for the bill to be considered by a House committee, and if advanced out of committee, to be voted on by the entire House.

Sevier County Quorum Court meeting is today   02/08/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet today to vote on a request from the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office regarding extradition of a murder suspect.

The sheriff’s office is requesting a $10,000 allocation to pay for the extradition of a homicide suspect currently living in a foreign country. Authorities are not releasing the name of the suspect or any other details at this time.

Justices of the peace will also hear a request for $10,000 in funding to be paid to UA Cossatot for economic development. If approved, this funding would replace the previously-approved $5,000 towards the salary of the Sevier County Economic Development Officer. The additional amount, said county officials, would support the officer’s salary and also provide money for training, memberships and projects. The request is for three years at $10,000 a year.

In other business, the quorum court will vote on a number of routine financial matters. This includes a request from the Sevier County Office of Emergency Management for additional funds to cover the increased costs of the “Code Red” alert and notification system.

Lastly on the agenda, the quorum court will vote on a proposed resolution seeking to prohibit the use of excessive force by law enforcement agencies against individuals engaged in non-violent civil rights demonstrations in Sevier County.

The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse in De Queen. The meeting is open to the public.

Arkansas House discusses elections, transportation and law enforcement  02/08/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught is providing another update on the week ahead for the Arkansas House of Representatives.

The House’s 93rd General Assembly is entering its 5th week of the 2021 Regular Session. The House passed a resolution to extend this session, if necessary, to May 3.

The deadline for members to file proposed Constitutional Amendments is February 10.The General Assembly can put forth up to 3 amendments to the voters for the 2022 General Election. The debate and votes for proposed amendments are traditionally held in the latter part of the session.

This week, the House passed bills addressing elections, transportation, and law enforcement, just to name a few.

Concerning elections, the House passed HB1112. This bill eliminates the option for individuals to complete a sworn statement to cast a provisional ballot if they did not have the required photo identification.

The House also passed HB1338, which raises the number of signatures required for an individual to be placed on the Arkansas ballot as a candidate for President of the United States. Currently, 1,000 signatures are required. This bill raises it to 5,000.

When it comes to transportation, the House passed the following bills this week:

HB1269-This bill allows counties to pass an ordinance to allow individuals to drive golf carts on county roads.

HB1244-This bill authorizes DFA to issue a driver’s license or identification card without a photograph if the licensee has a religious objection to having their photo taken. This bill does not change requirements for voter identification.

HB1022-This bill states drivers must have their vehicle’s headlights on from sunset to sunrise. The current law states lights must be on from ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise.

HB1115-This bill amends the law concerning the weight threshold for commercial vehicles. This changes the definition of a commercial motor vehicle from one with a gross weight of at least 10,000 pounds to one that weighs at least 26,001 pounds.

The House also passed a bill this week recommended by the Governor’s Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas.

HB1197 limits a law-enforcement agency to two part-time officers for every full-time officer. The task force report noted that the higher ratio of full-time officers would strengthen in-house training and enhance stability.

Another bill passed by the House that addresses law enforcement is HB1236. This bill states in the event of a civil disturbance or a crime in progress that requires additional law enforcement resources, the Governor may establish a system of unified command of law enforcement efforts. The Governor may designate which law enforcement agency or agencies have primary jurisdiction on the State Capitol grounds and in the State Capitol building.

As a reminder, you can watch all House committee meetings and floor proceedings at www.arkansashouse.org.

Local school board meetings tonight        02/08/2021

The Ashdown School Board will meet tonight for its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the administration office on 751 Rankin Street. Items on the agenda include Teacher of the Year recognitions, a discussion on teacher salary increases for the 2021-2022 school year and a number of routine financial and administrative matters.

The Horatio Board of Education will meet in regular session this evening. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Items on the agenda include principal recommendations for the 2021-2022 school year and recommendations for a new junior high cheerleading coach for the next school year. The meeting is open to the public.

De Queen City Hall to be closed in observance of President’s Day        02/08/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen City Hall will be closed on Monday, Feb. 15 in observance of President’s Day. The trash schedule for the week of Feb. 15 will be as follows: Monday’s trash will be picked up on Tuesday, Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday will remain the same.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures        02/08/2021

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 are continuing to rise again in Sevier County with an additional net increase of three on Sunday. That raises the current total of active cases of the virus in the county to 119. Overall cases also grew by eight to 2,462 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported three fewer active cases of COVID-19 for a total of 42 currently. Total cases were unchanged at 1,083 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported four fewer active cases yesterday for a current total of 104. Overall cases grew to 1,440 while deaths remain at 24.

Active cases in Polk County saw a net decrease of four on Sunday for a current total of 104. Overall cases rose to 1,767 while deaths increased by one to 57.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an increase of 22 active cases yesterday for a current total of 284. Cumulative cases grew by 54 to 3,601. Deaths due to COVID-19 in McCurtain County grew by one to 59.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 672 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the lowest one-day figure since the year began. Sunday’s increase raises the cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions in Arkansas to more than 306,000 since the pandemic began. Active positive cases did see another decrease, falling by nearly 500 to 16,324 currently. Deaths increased by 15 on Sunday for a total of 5,076. Hospitalizations increased by 31, leaving 781 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.


Community Project Planning meeting tonight in De Queen  
 02/04/2021

DE QUEEN – A group of local organizers seeking to highlight Southwest Arkansas’ minority populations will gather this evening in De Queen.
Organizers say the Community Project Planning meeting will be open to the public with the goal to create plans for uplifting the minority populations of Sevier County through programs, events and activities, and to promote greater unity throughout the entire community. Organizers of the meetings are filing paperwork to achieve 501C3 Non-profit status. The program will be based in De Queen.

Area residents, elected officials, business owners, local leaders and the general public are encouraged to attend the meeting and contribute ideas to the growing initiative. The planning session will take place this Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen. Refreshments will be provided by Cricket Wireless and social distancing/mask use will be encouraged.
The group held an initial meeting back in October 2020 at The Faith and Deliverance Center Church in De Queen that received more than 1,500 views on Facebook and was reported on by multiple media outlets in the area. During the October meeting, attendees established a list of community goals ranging from local government education to events aimed at highlight Sevier County’s Native American, Hispanic, Marshallese and Black communities. Also discussed was a multicultural center or African-American museum to serve as headquarters for future efforts.
The goals of the February meeting are to establish a Board of Directors, select a name for the group and finalize community goals. A Facebook livestream option will be available for those who wish to attend virtually and a moderator will relay questions submitted in the comments section.
Organizers say everyone is welcome to attend and COVID regulations apply.
For questions, please email DQunity@gmail.com
Arkansas boaters reminded of new boat plug requirements   02/04/2021
Anglers, hunters and other boaters who use the state’s waterways are being reminded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission of a new regulation that took effect New Year’s Day. This new rule requires all boat drain plugs to be removed before and during trailering of boats to and from access facilities on all lakes, rivers and streams in Arkansas.
This includes plugs for live wells, ballast tanks and the like.
There are a couple of exceptions to the regulation, however. Fishing tournament officials may submit a request to the AGFC Fisheries Division for written permission to allow for the transport of fish to an offsite weigh station. All tournament participants must be given a copy of the permit. Also, transportation of baitfish is allowed in compliance with Code 26.27 of the AGFC’s Code of Regulations.
A similar boat plug regulation was already in place in 21 other states to help stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species, and the new AGFC rule was part of an extensive list of regulations recommended by the Fisheries Division and approved by the Commission in 2020. Those regulations took effect Jan. 1 of this year.
Aquatic nuisance species such as silver carp, giant salvinia, zebra mussels and others continue to spread across waterbodies in Arkansas, most recently giant salvinia at Millwood Lake. AGFC officials say regulations like the boat plug rule were approved to help slow the spread.AGFC officials urge, too, that along with unplugging when trailering your boat, remember also to clean, drain and dry your boat after visiting a lake, river or stream to stop the spread of invasive species to another waterbody.

To submit paperwork for the fishing tournament exception, email Fisheries Biologist Jeff Buckingham at jeffrey.buckingham@agfc.ar.gov. Note that certain requirements must be met to qualify for an exception.

State hopeful pandemic’s darkest days are behind after falling new cases, hospitalizations   02/04/2021

A consistent decline in new cases and hospitalizations suggests the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic may be behind Arkansas.
During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update held Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state had reported slightly over 1,500 new cases since Monday. That’s a steady drop from the record highs seen daily in late November and into December and the New Year. Tuesday’s new cases raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to just over 298,000 since the pandemic began. Over the past 24 hours hospitalizations fell by 20 to leave 869 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus – the lowest hospitalization rate seen in Arkansas since late November. Active cases also fell over the same period with around 16,000 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas.
Deaths increased over the same period by 44 to total 4,939. Recoveries grew over the same period to more than 277,000. Hutchinson said the testing positivity rate is also nearing 10 percent. That’s the goal outlined by the CDC and which has not been reached in Arkansas for months.
Hutchinson took a moment to highlight the bettering economic picture in Arkansas. Higher-than-expected sales tax revenue, along with a $400 million state surplus, is evidence that more Arkansans are returning to work and spending in the economy, Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson also stated the state would not extend the 11 p.m. curfew placed upon bars and restaurants in Arkansas. That curfew was set to expire on Feb. 3.
State officials said Arkansas’ vaccination plans are proceeding well, with more than 318,000 doses given as of Tuesday – or around 62 percent of all the doses received so far in Arkansas. The state remains in vaccination phase 1-B, which focuses on Arkansans aged 70 and older as well as educators in the state.
Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero briefly detailed the hopeful decline in Arkansas’ hospitalization rate and the state’s continued search for new varients of the virus.
State Commerce Secretary Mike Preston then provided an update on the recently reinstated Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in Arkansas. He outlined that most Arkansans who are eligible for this additional assistance should have or will soon be receiving an email with vital identification requirements. Recipients are asked to respond as soon as possible by clicking the link provided in the email and following the online instructions. In addition, he reminded that Arkansans on traditional unemployment will need to exhaust those resources before they are eligible for the PUA program. He invited Arkansans with questions to call the Department of Workforce Services at (844) 908-2178.
Preston then addressed those Arkansans who have received a 1099 in the mail due to fraudulent unemployment claims made by scammers during the pandemic. He said victims of this scam must file a police report if they have not done so yet and send it to the Department of Workforce Services by a Feb. 12 deadline.
Those police reports can be emailed to ADWS.InternalAudit@arkansas.gov.
In review, just over 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday for a statewide cumulative total of 298,000. Over the same period deaths increased by 44 to 4,939 while hospitalizations fell by 20 to 869. Active cases fell to 16,331 on Tuesday while recoveries grew to 277,000. Over 7,000 combined PCR and antigen tests were performed between Monday and Tuesday.

Arkansas Wildlife Federation announces student art contest   02/04/2021

Local student artists are being invited to participate in a statewide contest as part of an effort to highlight Arkansas’ natural wonders.

Once again, the Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AWF) and Creative Ideas have come together to promote wildlife education through the arts in the annual Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest. For the 2021 contest, students from kindergarten through 12th grade can submit artwork online through a portal on the AWF website, www.arwild.org.

For eight years, the Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest has encouraged students in grades K-12 to explore and celebrate Arkansas’ wildlife. The competition is supported through an education grant from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). Organizers say this competition offers a unique way for youth to understand nature and express what they have learned through art.

Winners in each grade will receive cash awards, trophies and certificates. Images of the Best in Show and all first-place winning artwork along with the entire list of winners will be announced in the summer issue of Arkansas Out of Doors magazine (a publication of Arkansas Wildlife Federation). Tentative plans are to have all winning artwork displayed at the AGFC Witt Stephens, Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center.

Artwork must be submitted by March 15, 2021. The Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest is free and open to all K-12 students in Arkansas.

Visit www.arwild.org/art-contest for rules and submission details.

Arkansas Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program up and running again   02/04/2021

Thousands of Arkansans will soon receive unemployment payments they’ve been waiting on for weeks.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said in a news conference that the Arkansas Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program was up and running again as of Friday. Checks began mailing out to recipients on Monday.

The site, which worked last year, had to be rebuild when federal officials ordered states to protect the system from fraud, which put thousands of people in tight spots.

It’s welcomed news for Arkansans who are currently depending on federal aid to help pay their rent or put food on the table.

More than 50,000 emails were recently sent to Arkansans with approved status informing them of the changes and already 4,900 payments have been made to individuals. The email includes a link to verify the recipient’s ID online. This link will take them through the ID verification process.

State officials say the new online ID verification makes the system more secure and hopefully, less bogged down with fraud. Preston said the state will make retroactive payments to those who were forced to wait as the website was rebuilt.

If you need that money right away, state officials stress that email is critical. Recipients are asked to be sure they have provided the Department of Workforce Services with the correct address and check their spam folder just in case. For those that have already applied and have been verified, it’s just a matter of having their ID verified and those processed. The Department of Workforce Services said the turnaround is expected to take a day or less.

If you have been getting benefits already, you have 90 days to send the state your proof of identification. If you’re starting a new claim today, you have three weeks to get it done.

In December of last year, then-President Trump signed into law a continuation of the pandemic unemployment assistance program. Last year alone the state of Arkansas paid out $2.5 billion in unemployment benefits. The program’s website can be reached by visiting www.pua.arkansas.gov

Arkansas Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program up and running again   02/04/2021

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 saw a sizeable increase on Wednesday in Sevier County after a consistent decline over the past few weeks. With a net increase of 22 active cases yesterday, the total in Sevier County is now 73. Cumulative cases grew to 2,397 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, yesterday Little River County reported its first coronavirus-related death since early January. That additional death raises the total to 40 in Little River County. Active cases increased by 14 and now number 43 confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total cases grew by 14 to 1,062.

Howard County reported an overall increase of 11 active cases on Wednesday, raising the current total to 93. Cumulative cases rose by 19 to 1,400 while deaths remain at 23.

Active cases in Polk County grew by two yesterday for a current total of 88. Cumulative cases rose by 37 to 1,713. Deaths remain at 56.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported five additional active cases yesterday for a total 286. Total cases grew by 16 to 3,507. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported over 2,400 new cases of COVID-19 across the state yesterday. That sets a new milestone for the virus in Arkansas, with more than 300,000 reported transmissions since the start of the pandemic. Active cases saw their first net increase in days, increasing by 200 to 16,533. Deaths increased by 46 over the state period for a total of 4,985 Arkansans having died from COVID-19. Hospitalizations increased by 15 yesterday, leaving 884 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Sevier County Quorum Court to vote on extradition of homicide suspect, increased allocation for local economic development   02/03/2021
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet next week to vote on a request from the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office regarding extradition of a murder suspect.
The meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 8. The sheriff’s office is requesting a $10,000 allocation to pay for the extradition of a homicide suspect currently living in a foreign country. Authorities are not releasing the name of the suspect or any other details at this time
Justices of the peace will also hear a request for $10,000 in funding to be paid to UA Cossatot for economic development. If approved, this funding would replace the previously-approved $5,000 towards the salary of the Sevier County Economic Development Officer. The addition amount, said county officials, would support the officer’s salary and also provide money for training, memberships and projects. The request is for three years at $10,000 a year.
In other business, the quorum court will vote on a number of routine financial matters. This includes a request from the Sevier County Office of Emergency Management for additional funds to cover the increased costs of the “Code Red” alert and notification system.
Lastly on the agenda, the quorum court will vote on a proposed resolution seeking to prohibit the use of excessive force by law enforcement agencies against individuals engaged in non-violent civil rights demonstrations in Sevier County.
The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse. The meeting is open to the public.
Little River County man charged with 15 felonies involving theft of firearms   02/03/2021
ASHDOWN – A host of felony charges have been filed against a Little River County man suspected in multiple car break-ins and firearm thefts in the area.
According to court records, 19-year-old Jacory Rayfield is facing 15 felony counts of theft and breaking or entering after charges were formally filed in the Little River Circuit Court on Monday. Those charges include three counts of breaking or entering and 12 counts of theft of property with 11 of those regarding stolen firearms.
The Little River County Sheriff’s Office was notified on Christmas Day of last year by a homeowner who stated someone broke into several vehicles on his property. He said a number of firearms were stolen from the vehicles.
Deputies reportedly found firearms matching the victim’s descriptions while executing a search warrant on a residence located on Little River County Road 15. Deputies recovered multiple other firearms reported stolen in Little River County.
Court records allege Rayfield was interviewed by authorities and admitted to stealing the firearms.
The charges range between class C and class D felonies. Upon conviction the class C charge carries a sentence of three to 10 years in prison and up to six years in prison for the class D offenses.
Pine seedling giveaway event scheduled for tomorrow in Broken Bow   02/03/2021
BROKEN BOW, Okla. – The Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce will host the annual Weyerhaeuser Pine Seedling Giveaway tomorrow starting at 8:30 a.m.Seedlings will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Trees will be small seedlings.

The event will take place at the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce Office at 113 West Martin Luther King Drive.

It’s recommended to be at the Chamber office as close as possible to the start time to ensure receipt of a tree. According to Chamber officials the seedling giveaway is a popular event and tree supplies often go fast. There is a limit of 25 seedlings per person.

Unlike some previous years, hardwoods will not be available this year.

For more information on the event, contact the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3393 or by email at bchamber@pine-net.com.

Food distribution at De Queen Chalice Cupboard on Feb. 8   02/03/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Chalice Cupboard will be distributing food boxes on Monday, Feb. 8 from 1-3 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.  The boxes will be distributed to the first 50 people who arrive.  There will be a limit of one box per automobile. Organizers ask that you do not get out of your automobile and that you open your trunk to allow boxes to be placed inside. These procedures are in place for the safety of staff, volunteers and recipients.

Despite pandemic, 2020 was a good year at Crater of Diamonds   02/03/2021

MURFREESBORO – 2020 was a great year for diamond finds at the Crater. Despite the many changes brought on by COVID-19, more than 129,000 people visited the park in search of diamonds. The following is a recap of diamond finds for 2020, including some of the most memorable discoveries.

Visitors found 71 diamonds during the first three months of 2020 until the diamond search area closed from March 21 to May 22, due to a growing number of COVID-19 cases. After the search area reopened, visitors registered nearly two diamonds per day through the rest of the spring season.

Labor Day 2020 was an historic day for the park, when Kevin Kinard, of Maumelle, Ark., went diamond mining with his friends. Kinard was surface searching on the south end of the search area when he picked up a brown, marble-sized gem with a dimpled surface. Upon having his find identified by park staff, Kinard learned that he had discovered a 9.07-carat diamond, the second-largest ever found at the Crater! He chose to name it the Kinard Friendship Diamond, in honor of his friends.

Park guests registered 109 diamonds last summer. As temperatures cooled, finds remained fairly steady at about one per day through the end of the year. On Halloween Steven McCool, of Fayetteville, Ark., found the year’s third-largest diamond.

Park guests registered 353 diamonds in 2020, weighing a total of 81.91 carats. Visitors from Arkansas registered 112 diamonds, while travelers from 25 other states registered 241 gems.

Of the diamonds found, 269 diamonds were white, 43 were brown, and 41 were yellow. The average diamond weight found last year was just under one-quarter carat, but 17 diamonds weighed more than one carat each. Visitors found 26 diamonds on top of the ground.

While the staff at Crater of Diamonds State Park enjoys reminiscing about these beautiful and historic diamond finds, they said they are looking forward to the many new and exciting discoveries that await 2021.

Miss DHS pageant scheduled for Feb. 20  02/03/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School Junior Class will present the 44th annual Miss DHS Pageant this month.

The high school junior class will host the pageant on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 7 PM. The new Miss DHS will be crowned in the De Queen Public School Auditorium along with the winners of the Mini and Little Miss Pageants. The auditorium is located at the entrance to De Queen Junior High. The Mini and Little Miss Pageants will be held earlier in the day starting at 3 p.m.

Forms for the Mini & Little Miss Pageants along with the $25 entry fee must be turned in by Friday, Feb. 12. Registration forms and pageant rules and guidelines can be found on the district website at www.dequeenleopards.org.

All CDC/ADH Covid guidelines will be followed and face-coverings will be required. For further information for the Miss DHS Pageant, contact Mrs. Moore at jmoore@dequeenleopards.org. For further information for the Mini or Little Miss Pageants, please contact Mrs. Wedehase at awedehase@dequeenleopards.org

That contact information is also available on our website, www.kdqn.net

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   02/03/2021

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:

Sevier County reported an increase of four active cases on Tuesday, raising the current total to 51. Total cases rose by 10 to 2,365 while deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw active cases decrease by seven yesterday for a total of 39 currently. Cumulative cases rose to 1,048 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County reported an overall increase of 12 active cases on Tuesday, raising the current total to 82. Cumulative cases rose by 22 to 1,381 while deaths remain at 23.

Active cases in Polk County grew by six yesterday for a current total of 86. Cumulative cases rose by 12 to 1,676. Deaths remain at 56.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported four additional active cases yesterday for a total 281. Total cases grew by 20 to 3,491. Deaths remain at 57.

Southwest Arkansas Electric receives $52 million in federal funding to bring gigabyte-level internet service to area   02/02/2021
TEXARKANA – Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative is announcing it has secured more than $53 million through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to deliver gigabit-capable broadband service to the area. In a press release issued Monday, the non-profit energy supplier said it will offer service throughout rural Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas communities served by Southwest Arkansas Electric, along with designated rural communities in Louisiana.
The cooperative’s fiber entity intends to launch a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network to serve 100 percent of the 26,000-plus homes and businesses in its 11-county service territory. Southwest Arkansas Electric said the funding will enable it to launch and deploy the gigabit-speed network quickly and in a cost-effective manner.
Company officials said the expanded internet service will have substantial economic, educational and community benefits through reliable, affordable high-speed internet service. Southwest Arkansas Electric’s deployment will encompass 5,000 miles to offer access to broadband throughout its electric territory as well as some adjacent communities.

Southwest Arkansas Electric’s participation last year in the federal auction at the gigabit tier signaled its intent to deploy 100 percent fiber. Fiber offers gigabit speed and power that accommodates multiple users and devices at the same time without losing service quality. This is an important technological upgrade, given the stagnation of local internet infrastructure at a time when internet is more valuable than ever. The cooperative said the rural communities it serves will have easier and more reliable access to the many services made so necessary by the pandemic – distance learning for kids, telecommuting options for working parents, virtual connections to friends and family, telemedicine and more.
In the company’s press release, Southwest Arkansas Electric CEO Dion Cooper said the areas the company services have long been bypassed in terms of high-speed internet access. He said the funding the cooperative was awarded means that those living and working in the area will have access to a premier class of high-speed internet, and consequently easier access to the services everyone is increasingly reliant on.
Southwest Arkansas Electric was a member of the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium, a bidding entity of 90-plus cooperatives coordinated and led by rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader to secure the federal funding. Overall, the consortium was awarded over $1.1 billion, enabling electric cooperatives across 22 states to deliver world-class fiber internet service to more than two million rural Americans.
Despite federal funding provided to AT&T, CenturyLink and other telephone companies over the years, the vast majority of residents in Southwest Arkansas lack the robust broadband services necessary to live and work in today’s environment. It’s particularly frustrating for local businesses that rely increasingly on online transactions and management. With projects like those planned by Southwest Arkansas Electric, that gap is likely to close in the years ahead.
“For years, AT&T, Windstream, CenturyLink and other telephone companies have been given public funds to provide telecommunications service in rural areas of southwestern Arkansas,” explained Conexon Partner, Jonathan Chambers. “And yet, the vast majority of residents lack the broadband services necessary to live and work in today’s environment. The funding that will be awarded to Southwest Arkansas Electric’s fiber subsidary is but a fraction of the funding that continues to flow to the telephone companies from the state and federal governments.
“But with this money, Southwest Arkansas Electric will build a state-of-the-art fiber network to all of its members. We’re proud to be working with electric co-ops throughout the state, as Arkansas continues to lead the nation in rural fiber deployment.”
De Queen Public Schools announces 2020-2021 Teachers of the Year   02/02/2021

De Queen Primary School Teacher of the Year – Stacy Payne

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools has announced the names of five exceptional teachers selected as the district’s Teachers of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year.
The De Queen Public Schools Teacher of the Year program is an annual tradition aimed at promoting excellence in education. It’s also an opportunity for teachers to recognize peers who exemplify the profession and its values.
Typically, these teachers and their awards are presented to the community during the annual De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce Membership and Awards Banquet. But, due to COVID-19, that event has been rescheduled to a future, unspecified date. Nonetheless, district officials say they are glad to use this time as an opportunity to highlight this year’s Teachers of the Year and the contributions they make as educators in the community.

De Queen Elementary School Teacher of the Year – Elizabeth Martinez

Elizabeth Martinez has been named the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year at De Queen Elementary School. Ms. Martinez has been working with the De Queen Public Schools since 2014 in a special education classroom setting. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is also a 2008 graduate of De Queen High School. Ms. Martinez enjoys spending time with her parents, siblings and church family. Some of her hobbies include puzzles, reading, fishing, road trips, and listening to podcasts.
This year’s Teacher of the Year at De Queen Primary School is Stacy Payne. Mrs. Payne is a 2nd Grade Teacher at De Queen Public Schools. And has been teaching in the district since 1993. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, MS. Mrs. Payne enjoys spending time with her family and making memories with her granddaughters. Her hobbies include reading, writing poetry, and singing.

De Queen Middle School Teacher of the Year – Sonya Frachiseur

Sonya Frachiseur is the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year at De Queen Middle School. Mrs. Frachiseur has been with De Queen Public Schools for 17 years and teaches sixth-grade mathematics. She received her National Board certification in 2009 and her Master’s degree in 2012. She is married to John Frachiseur who teaches Agri Science for De Queen Junior High. John and Sonya have two grown children, Katie Brooke and John Allen. In her spare time, Mrs. Frachiseur enjoys traveling, sewing, fishing, listening to audiobooks, and spending time on the river with her family
This year’s top teacher at De Queen Junior High is Janet Dunson. Mrs. Dunson has been a special education teacher for the past 21 years for the De Queen and Lockesburg school districts. She started her teaching career in 2000 at Lockesburg Elementary and after making a move to Lockesburg High School, she joined De Queen Junior High as a resource math teacher. She has also served as the cheer sponsor for DJHS for the past 14 years.

Mrs. Dunson started and received her B.S.E. from Henderson State University in 2000 and her M.S.E. from Henderson State University in 2007. Besides teaching and working with the district’s

De Queen Junior High School Teacher of the Year – Janet Dunson

cheerleaders, Mrs. Dunson enjoys watching the Cubs and Leopards, going to Razorback football games, and is a big fan of the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. She enjoys hiking, riding her dirt bike, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
And finally, the Teacher of the Year at De Queen High School is Leona Martin. This year marks Mrs. Martin’s 17th year teaching. She has taught Algebra 1 and Geometry as a Leopard since 2015. She spends her free time barrel racing and crafting. Her favorite place to be is at home with her family
Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district is proud to recognize these five quality teachers and that they contribute greatly to the school system in De Queen.

De Queen High School Teacher of the Year – Leona Martin

“A quality teacher is the true magic dust behind any successful classroom. This year we are proud to recognize five quality teachers who are a big reason why we have such a great school here in De Queen,” Sanders said. “They are very deserving of this recognition and we are very fortunate to have them work in our school. Each school day they motivate, encourage, guide, teach, and love our kids. We truly appreciate all that they do for our students.”

Second Community Project Planning meeting this Thursday in De Queen   02/02/2021

DE QUEEN – A group of local organizers have announced plans for another Community Project Planning meeting this month in De Queen.

Organizers say the meeting will be open to the public with the goal to strategize plans for uplifting the minority populations of Sevier County through programs, events and activities, and to promote greater unity throughout the entire community. Organizers of the meetings are filing paperwork to achieve 501C3 Non-profit status. The program will be based in De Queen.

Area residents, elected officials, business owners, local leaders and the general public are encouraged to attend the meeting and contribute ideas to the growing initiative. The planning session will take place this Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen. Refreshments will be provided by Cricket Wireless and social distancing/mask use will be encouraged.

The group held an initial meeting back in October 2020 at The Faith and Deliverance Center Church in De Queen that received more than 1,500 views on Facebook and was reported on by multiple media outlets in the area. During the October meeting, attendees established a list of community goals ranging from local government education to events aimed at highlight Sevier County’s Native American, Hispanic, Marshallese and Black communities. Also discussed was a multicultural center or African-American museum to serve as headquarters for future efforts.

The goals of the February meeting are to establish a Board of Directors, select a name for the group and finalize community goals. A Facebook livestream option will be available for those who wish to attend virtually and a moderator will relay questions submitted in the comments section.

Organizers say everyone is welcome to attend and COVID regulations apply.

For questions, please email DQunity@gmail.com

Miss DHS Pageant set for Feb. 20   02/02/2021

De Queen High School Junior Class will present the 44th annual Miss DHS Pageant this month.

The high school junior class will host the pageant on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7 PM. The new Miss DHS will be crowned in the De Queen Public School Auditorium along with the winners of the Mini and Little Miss Pageants. The auditorium is located at the entrance to De Queen Junior High. The Mini and Little Miss Pageants will be held earlier in the day starting at 3 p.m.

Forms for the Mini & Little Miss Pageants along with the $25 entry fee must be turned in by Friday, Feb. 12. Registration forms and pageant rules and guidelines can be found on the district website at www.dequeenleopards.org.

All CDC/ADH Covid guidelines will be followed and face-coverings will be required. For further information for the Miss DHS Pageant, contact Mrs. Moore at jmoore@dequeenleopards.org. For further information for the Mini or Little Miss Pageants, please contact Mrs. Wedehase at awedehase@dequeenleopards.org

Several AHS band members make it to All-Region Try-outs   02/02/2021

ASHDOWN – The 2021 All Region Tryouts were held a lot differently this year for members of the Ashdown High School Band.  In a “normal” year, the students would load a school bus early on a Saturday morning and travel to Lake Hamilton High School, look for their tryout times and music cuts, and then start warming up and practicing on the specific music they have been working on for weeks. But with so much else over the past year, COVID-19 required a big change to the plans. The 2021 tryouts were held through an entirely virtual format.

This year students record and posted their musical selections online. Band directors verified the audio was authentic and then submitted the audio to directors around the state for the regional tryouts. After the scores were calculated and assembled, directors were notified as to which students qualified for all-region. Last Friday, Ashdown High School students were able to participate in a virtual clinic with Arkansas Composer Randall Standrige. Six Ashdown High students learned then they would be making it to the 2021 All Region Tryouts.

Those students include:

Rachel Vice – 1st band, 2nd chair – Bass Clarinet

Braydon Porter – 1st band, 3rd chair – French Horn

Caylee Turner – 2nd band, 4th chair – Trumpet

Matthew Vaught – 2nd band, 9th chair – Trumpet

Liza Embry – 2nd band, 6th chair – Trombone

And Tryston McCandless  – 2nd band, 2nd chair – Tuba

Braydon Porter and Rachel Vice also qualified to participate in All-State, which will also have virtual tryouts this year.

Rep. Vaught shares update from Monday’s session of House of Representatives   02/02/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has provided an update on the latest developments within the Arkansas House of Representatives. The House began the 4th week of the 2021 Regular Session on Monday.

Vaught said Monday morning the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced HB1112. This bill eliminates the option for individuals to complete a sworn statement in order to cast a provisional ballot if they did not have the required photo identification.

In addition, with a vote of 75-13, the full House passed HB1195. This bill requires that any woman seeking an abortion be notified of the availability of medical, welfare and private assistance programs.  It instructs the Department of Health to establish a hotline for pregnant women seeking an abortion in Arkansas to call in order to receive a resource access assistance offer. If enacted, this legislation would take effect January 1, 2023.

Another bill passed in the House included HB1115 which amends the law concerning the weight threshold for commercial vehicles. This changes the definition of a commercial motor vehicle from one that has a gross weight at least 10,000 pounds to one that weighs at least 26,001 pounds. It also changes the passenger threshold from 10 to 15.

Finally, Vaught said the House passed SB100. This bill seeks to enhance fiscal accountability and transparency in higher education. It instructs the Division of Higher Education to maintain a link to each state-supported institution of higher education on the division’s website. Each institution website would be required to list the name and email address of each member of the governing board, the date and location of board meetings, annual audit reports, and the board’s conflict of interest and commitment policy.

The House is set to reconvene today at 1 p.m.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   02/02/2021

DE QUEEN – Turning now to 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:

Sevier County reported an increase of six active cases on Monday, raising the current total to 47. Total cases rose by 12 to 2,355 while deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw active cases increase by four yesterday for a total of 46 currently. Cumulative cases rose to 1,043 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County reported two additional deaths over the previous 24 hours. That raises the death toll in Howard County from COVID-19 to 23. Active cases did see a slight decrease, falling by five to 70 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Howard County. Total cases grew by seven to 1,359.

Active cases in Polk County grew by two yesterday for a current total of 80. Cumulative cases rose by eight to 1,664. Deaths remain at 56.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported four additional active cases yesterday for a total 277. Total cases grew by 10 to 3,471. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 1,226 new cases on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to more than 296,000 since spring 2020. Active cases did see a net decrease yesterday, falling by nearly 500 for a current total of 16,665 active cases. Deaths increased by 27 over the previous 24-hour period. The death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas now totals 4,895.

Lockesburg passes $25 licensing fee, three-percent sales tax on alcohol sales in city 01/29/2021 By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Lockesburg has joined De Queen in passing an ordinance with local regulations on the sale of alcohol within its city limits.

The Lockesburg City Council met in special session earlier this week to pass the ordinance. The ordinance establishes a $25 licensing fee for any business or vendor that sells or serves alcohol within Lockesburg. These establishments would of course first require authorization from Arkasnas Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) to sell, serve or manufacture alcohol. In contrast to De Queen, Lockesburg’s ordinance also included a three percent sales tax on the gross revenue from all sales of alcoholic beverages in the city.

State law authorizes municipalities in Arkansas to establish their own licensing fees, taxes or other levies on businesses serving or selling alcohol. Lockesburg Mayor Danny Ruth said the city, with help from its legal counsel, voted to establish the minimum $25 licensing fee and sales tax. He said the city was not looking to harm businesses that receive authorization to sale alcohol in Lockesburg. Instead, the $25 licensing fee provides city leaders with a list of what businesses within the city are doing so. He said the idea behind the licensing fee includes assisting law enforcement in separating legitimate alcohol vendors versus any potential bootleg operations. The sales tax will also help bring in some additional revenue to the city.

The ordinance was passed with an emergency clause, meaning the new regulations went into effect immediately following the vote. The fee was set at $25 per year for each business within the city limits of Lockesburg that sells or serves alcohol. The ordinance includes a fine of between $100 and $1,000 for wholesalers that sell to a retailer violating the $25 licensing fee requirement. Any establishment with plans to sell or serve alcohol in Lockesburg would be required to fill out a Retail Beer Alcoholic Beverage Permit through the city clerk’s office. These permits will only be given to retailers who display their state alcohol permit from ABC.

Earlier this month the De Queen City Council established a similar ordinance with a $25 licensing fee for authorized retailers and restaurants. De Queen’s ordinance did not, however, establish any additional sales taxes.
During its last meeting the Sevier County Quorum Court, whose jurisdiction includes the incorporated parts of Sevier County, debated passing its own ordinance. No action was taken at that meeting but more discussion is expected in the future.

Learning and living business: Student-run Serenity Cafe opens at AHS 01/29/2021

A new student-led café opened at Ashdown High School this week and is welcoming students, staff and the whole community. The school-based enterprise, completely run by students, is an element of Ashdown High School’s program to teach entrepreneur skills to local students. Pictured from left are AHS students Rodney Owens, Addison Smedley, Allison Wooden, Emily Wooden, Will Ford and Gracie Sisemore

ASHDOWN – A new student-run coffee shop is up and running at Ashdown High School.

School officials announced this week the Serenity Café has opened its doors to business. The café, located on the high school campus, is run completely by students as part of the district’s Small Business Operations class. The Serenity Café is much like what you would expect a café to be. The menu includes everything from frappes and caramel macchiato lattes to regulary coffee and fruit slushes. Open from 7:30-9:30 a.m. each day, the café welcomes staff, students and the whole community to start their mornings with a menu selection. Debit and credit cards are welcome and students are even offering a gift card option in time for Valentine’s Day.

The coffee shop is located in the old band hall across from the football field on the Ashdown High School campus.  Patrons are asked to enter the campus from Locust Street and proceed to available parking in front of the coffee shop.

The school-based enterprise, completely run by students, is an element of Ashdown High School’s program to teach entrepreneur skills to local students. District officials say the Small Business Operations class provides experience in the day-to-day operations of a real business. This includes operating a Point of Sale System (this includes reconciling the register daily), Inventory Control, Customer Service, maintaining and cleaning the equipment, health inspection requirements, group decision making and working as a team. The students also are training in real Barista methods. All of this translates to solid experience on job applications.

Ashdown Superintendent Casey Nichols said he’s excited to see the opportunities and experience students obtain from working in the coffee shop. Those skills, he added, coupled with an understanding of the aspects of running a business, will help students become more employable after graduation.

The School Based Enterprise coffee shop was developed by Shauna Tipton, the high school’s Business Education teacher. The whole school-based enterprise program was funded by a grant from the Arkansas Department of Career Education and is in its seventh year of operation at Ashdown High School.


Jan. 31 is deadline for DQ Rotary Club’s Boulevard of Flags program 01/29/2021

DE QUEEN – The deadline is Sunday for businesses and individuals wanted to participate in the De Queen Rotary Club’s annual Boulevard of Flags program. Through this program, local businesses and homes can show off their love for the red, white and blue by having American flags placed on their property by club members. The flags are removed and stored between designated holidays. The next scheduled holiday is Presidents’ Day on Monday, Feb. 15.

The annual cost is $50 per flag. A discounted rate of $40 per flag is available for veterans and active military personnel. Proceed will be used to support the De Queen Rotary Club’s community projects.For more information, contact Tammy Huddleston at 584-2550. The deadline to register is Jan. 31. Registration forms are available on KDQN’s upcoming events page. Checks can be made payable to De Queen Rotary Club and mailed to De Queen Rotary Club, P.O. Box 122, De Queen, AR 71832.

Lockesburg Library to continue free book giveaway through February  01/29/2021

LOCKESBURG – Lockesburg Library will continue its drive-up free book giveaway during the month of February. Lockesburg Librarian Wendy Clay said some really great titles will be bagged and loaded into your waiting vehicle with no need to even get out of your car. Anyone interested can just call 870-289-2233 and a bag of books will be brought to you curbside.

The Lockesburg Library is open Wednesdays and Thursdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for curbside service. Due to COVID-19 regulations in place at all Sevier County Libraries, service is limited to curbside only. T

he Lockesburg Library has a Facebook page at facebook.com/lockesburglibrary where new books are highlighted and information about the library is updated weekly.

State warns of unemployment claim fraud when you file 2020 taxes   01/29/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Tax season is upon us. It’s a stressful enough time as it is. But this year, unfortunately, many Arkansans have the added stress of dealing with fraudulent unemployment compensation claims when filing their taxes.

Victims of unemployment fraud may have income wrongfully reported in their name that could add to their tax burden. Tens of thousands of false unemployment claims were filed in Arkansas last year by con artists taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s exactly what happened to me, De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown and even Gov. Asa Hutchinson. And thousands of other Arkansans, according to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. Despite all three of us having jobs false unemployment claims were issued in our names. Fortunately most Arkansans easily saw the ploy and didn’t follow through.

But many consumers have been rightfully concerned about the safety of their personal and financial information due to this type of fraud.

And though law enforcement agencies do what they can to prevent taxpaying Arkansans from falling victim to con artists, some up front insight can go a long ways towards preventing problems. Those who received fraudulent unemployment claims in the mail, filled them out and returned them will need to be on the lookout when they go to file their claims.

If you see you’re being taxed for unemployment income you never filed, here’s what you can do.

First off, be sure that you have contacted the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services’ fraud hotline at (501) 682-1058 or completed the secure fraud reporting form online at www.dws.arkansas.gov.

If you file a police report, send a copy to the Department of Workforce Services to stop the fraudulent income from being reported to the IRS.

Authorities say do not report the fraudulent earnings as your own or file an amended return.

Independently contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to review your earnings for accuracy. Unfortunately this step could take several weeks for the SSA to update their records.

Review the IRS Guide to Employment-Related Identity Theft at www.irs.gov.

Additionally, consumers can also protect their identity and personal information by  contacting the three credit bureaus.

And you can always contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office by emailing:   OAG@ArkansasAG.gov.

Sevier County Museum announces Couples Paint Date     01/29/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Museum and FrogLevel Studios will present a couples paint date night next month as Valentine’s Day approaches. The event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Sevier County Museum, located at 717 Walter Leeper Drive. The couples paint date night will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. that evening. Cost is $60 per person and includes all supplies, instructions and a lasagna dinner for two. Pre-register by emailing froglevelstudios160@gmail.com or call the Sevier County Museum at 642-6642.

Leopards Band members make regional, state tryouts      01/28/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School District is giving a big shout out to members of the Leopard Band who earned a spot in the Region 2 All Region Band.

In fact, it’s history in the making for the Leopard Marching Band as a record number of students have qualified for the regional event.

Students qualifying for regional include Abigail San Juan, who plays 12 chair flute; Hayley Strickland, third chair oboe; Benjamin Ramirez, first chair bassoon; Alma Trejo, first chair Bass Clarinet; Saul Felip, tenor saxophone; Jafet Sotello, baritone sax; Jonathan Hernandez, 10<sup>th</sup> chair trumpet; and Brittany Hernandez, 12 chair trumpet.

Jafet Sotello, Benjamin Ramirez, Jonathan Hernandez and Brittany Hernandez have also been invited to the All State qualifiers. They are the first four leopards Band members to ever make it to the All State Band tryouts.
The All State Band tryouts are scheduled for Feb. 6 at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

Over $20 million in highway improvement projects coming to SWAR    01/28/2021

DE QUEEN – Over $20 million in infrastructure improvement will be heading to the area this year, according to a recent announcement by the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

The state is planning to replace three aging bridges on Highway 70 and 278. Those include the 70-year-old bridge spanning the Saline River on the Sevier and Howard County line. Also scheduled for replacement under this project is the bridge over the Saline River on Highway 278, built in 1963, and the bridge over the Caddo River on Highway 70 in Glenwood. That bridge is nearly 60-years-old.

All in all, the replacement projects are expected to cost around $20.5 million. Manhattan Road &amp; Bridge Company of Tulsa was awarded the contract.

Construction is expected to begin this spring. A time frame from start to finish was not immediately available but that information is expected to be announced as construction nears.

William Cheatham, ARDOT’s district engineer for Southwest Arkansas, said traffic delays will be kept to a minimum. He said all three existing bridges will remain up and in use until the new ones are constructed. He added that at least a single lane of traffic will be open at all times while work gets underway.

Rep. DeAnn Vaught provides update on Wednesday’s House session      01/28/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught provided us with an update on the actions taken and bills passed during yesterday’s session of the Arkansas House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced HB1211which states the Governor shall not prohibit or limit a religious organization from continuing to operate religious services during a declared emergency. The bill does not prevent the Governor however from requiring religious organizations to comply with neutral health, safety, or occupancy requirements that are applicable to all organizations and businesses.

The House Rules Committee then advanced SB76 which creates a permitting process for excursion trains to serve and sell alcoholic beverages.The full House passed HB1003. This bill ensures respectful language is used in Arkansas code regarding individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and removes from the Arkansas code the term “hearing impaired”.

The House passed HB1151 which suspends the public school rating system for the 2020-2021 school year due to the disruption to education caused by the pandemic.

The House passed HB1009 which allows a public school or an open-enrollment public charter school to distribute excess food to students for consumption on the school campus or at home.

The House passed HB1032 which allows taxpayers with military retirement benefit under $6,000 to claim a total retirement exemption up to that amount if the taxpayer has additional retirement income. The Department of Finance and Administration estimates this bill affects 700 Arkansans.

The House will reconvene at 1 p.m. this afternoon.

Ashdown man arrested for allegedly trying to trade stolen tools for marijuana      01/28/2021

ASHDOWN – An Ashdown man was arrested on a felony theft charge after allegedly trying to trade stolen tools for marijuana on Facebook.

According to records from the Little River County Circuit Court, 20-year-old Christian Lee Buck has been charged with a felony count of breaking or entering from an incident that occurred on or around Jan. 7. Ashdown police took a report from a man that day who said someone had unlawfully entered a building on his property where a restaurant is being built and stole tools from inside the building. The value of the tools was estimated to be $650 by the owner.

According to court records, investigators learned Buck was allegedly attempting to trade the tools for marijuana using Facebook. Police arrested Buck soon after. Authorities say Buck handed over the tools and admitted to stealing them.

AHFH provides donation to De Queen Primary School    01/28/2021

DE QUEEN – Thanks to help from Arkansas hunters, students at De Queen Primary School will get to enjoy some great-tasting game without all the hard work that follows pulling the trigger.

Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry recently stopped by the primary school to donate 400 bags of venison jerky to De Queen students. The organization describes itself as a community-minded program that provides venison and other wild game to those in need. Organizations, businesses and churches both local and across the state have joined hunters in transforming an abundant white-tail deer population in Arkansas into a renewable food source for the hungry.

Educators at De Queen Primary School said the donation will be placed in the school’s food pantry.

This is a busy time of year for Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry with the deer season winding down. But that should not discourage anyone from reaching out the organization if they want to lend a hand. With the growing number of deer in Arkansas and pretty liberal bag limits, hunters can make a real difference in helping feeding agencies across the state. Feeding agencies have a difficult time obtaining meat or protein and that’s where hunters can help.

AHFH provides the venison at no cost to the agencies, but does have to raise money to pay for processing costs. The organization needs to raise about $100,000 to fund the program annually. Individuals, hunting clubs, businesses, churches, and other groups are encouraged to donate funds.

Hunters may donate a portion of a processed deer to a participating processor. They may leave a couple of packs or pounds of ground venison burger with the processor and tell them they want to donate the meat to AHFH. The processor must be on the AHFH registered list.

An entire deer may be donated to AHFH by dropping off a field dressed or ice chest quartered deer to a participating processor.

AHFH stresses it cannot pay the fee for field dressing or skinning. Anyone wishing to have the processor dress or skin the deer, should make sure they check with the processor on whether or not they provide this service and be ready to pay charges.

For more information or to donate, call 501-282-0006 or visit www.arkansashunters.org

Leopard Vision releases first live production    01/28/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School students have released their first live production of Leopard Vision, the locally-based television production program and show launched this year at De Queen High School.

This edition of the monthly magazine show includes highlights on the Leopard family, a look at School Board Appreciation Month, an inside view of the De Queen Agri Department, a virtual tour of the newly renovated choir room and football program’s new weight room, and the Leopard Overtime segment. Leopard Vision can be viewed on the DQTV De Queen High School Television Production YouTube channel. A link can also be found on the De Queen School District’s Facebook page.

AGFC announces all-day duck hunting opportunities Jan. 31 on WMAs      01/28/2021

Duck hunters looking for a shot to finish the season on a high note will have one day to enjoy all-day hunting on all Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife management areas this year. On Jan. 31, duck hunters may hunt WMAs from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset to wrap up Arkansas’s regular duck season.

Historically, all duck hunting on WMAs must end at noon, with the exception of the final three days of the season. Last year, that three-day span was shortened to a single day.

During parking lot surveys during the last two years and anecdotal evidence from hunters in the field, the AGFC determined that it really only increased harvest on the first day that all-day hunting was allowed. Hunt-quality, however, was reduced for the second and third of those days, according to Brad Carner, AGFC chief of wildlife management. The hope is that this all-day hunt will maintain hunt quality for the last weekend of the season with one extended day.

Hunting also is allowed all-day during youth and veteran’s waterfowl hunt days, including the last hunt of the year, Feb. 6.

Nearby WMAs include De Queen Lake, Howard County WMA, Lake Greeson WMA, Caney Creek WMA, Provo WMA and White Cliffs Natural Area WMA.

Application period open for revamped Paycheck Protection Program     01/28/2021

The Paycheck Protection Program, a vital lifeline that helped keep pandemic-ravaged small businesses</a> afloat, has fully reopened to all participating lenders after initially limiting who was eligible.

In an attempt to rectify past criticisms that the program favored larger borrowers, the rescue fund – which provides forgivable loans to businesses if they maintain their payroll – had initially only been available to first-time borrowers, according to new guidance from the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department.

Although the federal government backs the loans, the money is issued by financial institutions such as banks, credit unions and community lenders. Most lenders that participated in the earlier rounds are expected to do so again.

At least $40 billion has been set aside for businesses with 10 or fewer employees and for loans under $250,000 in low-income areas.

The relaunched program is expected to inject much-needed relief into the U.S. economy after employers unexpectedly cut 140,000 jobs in December amid a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases.

While the eligibility formula is the same for first-time applicants, only businesses with 300 employees or fewer are eligible to receive a second loan, which will be capped at $2 million.

Businesses are still required to spend at least 60 percent of the money on maintaining payroll in order for the government to forgive the full loan. The remaining 40 percent can be spent on operating costs such as mortgages, rent and utilities.

Over the course of roughly four months in 2020, the PPP distributed about $525 billion in forgivable loans to 5.2 million companies, saving an estimated 50 million jobs, according to the www.foxbusiness.com/money/trump-administration-release-names-of-ppp-borrowers-says-program-supported-51m-jobs”>SBA

The renewed program is expected to close to all borrowers on March 31. For more information, including the application process, visit www.sba.gov

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    01/28/2021

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:

Sevier County saw a small increase in its active COVID-19 caseload, growing by two to a current total of 40. Overall cases rose by four to 2,327. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported five fewer active cases for a current total of 44. Total cases grew by three to 1,014 while deaths remained at 39.

Howard County reported three additional active cases yesterday for a new total of 69. Cumulative cases in Howard County increased by five to 1,322. Deaths remain at 21.

Polk County saw another day in which active cases declined, this time falling by eight to 85. Total cases increased slightly to 1,626. Deaths remain at 55.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 18 additional active cases yesterday for a total 260. Total cases grew by 39 to 3,406. Deaths remain at 57.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 1,777 new cases on Wednesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to just under 289,000 since spring 2020. Active cases did see a net decrease yesterday, falling by around more than 400 for a current total of 17,686 active cases. Deaths increased by 52 over the previous 24-hour period. The death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas now totals 4,742. Hospitalizations decreased by 66, leaving 1,029 Arkansans still hospitalized due to the virus.

Lockesburg woman charged with negligent homicide, DWI for 2020 wreck    01/27/2021

NASHVILLE – A Lockesburg woman is 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 has been charged with negligent homicide as well as second degree battery and driving while intoxicated in relation to the accident on Oct. 17 of last year. The charges were filed yesterday in the Howard County Circuit Court.

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. Charges were then formally filed yesterday.

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.

RSVP for meeting of new economic development group in Sevier County    01/27/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County residents interested in joining a broad effort to increase economic development in the area are invited to attend a meeting next month.

The annual FRIENDS Foundation meeting for 2021 will take place at the Herman Dierks Park Community Building in De Queen on Friday, February 5, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. The meeting is open to the public.

Topics to be discussed at the meeting will include future projects, funding progress toward the annual budget, and potential projects to establish the Sevier County Opportunity Zone Investment Fund. Masks will be required, and social distancing will be encouraged.
Economic development officials in Sevier County announced the new foundation late last year. They say the group’s goal is benefiting the county and its economic environment.

The foundation recently became an official 501 (c) (3) with the IRS allowing donors to receive tax credits. This foundation aims for funds to be raised from donations to assist Sevier County and its residents in cultivating and completing economic development projects and activities.

FRIENDS stands for Funding Retention and Increasing Efforts for Notable Economic Development in Sevier County. It was created last year with citizens of Sevier County in mind. Anyone who donates a minimum of $100 automatically becomes a member of the FRIENDS Foundation and with the stated mission that raised funds will help Sevier County grow financially. In addition, organizers say the organization will provide the Sevier County Economic Development department with the opportunity to receive money for business development, training, advertising, and assistance with projects to benefit the local area. Maurer said the foundation will look for projects within opportunity zones while also keeping site selection, business retention, and training efforts in mind to help with business development.
For questions on becoming a FRIENDS member or to RSVP for the FRIENDS Foundation’s annual meeting, contact Sevier County Economic Development Director Tiffany Maurer at <a href=”mailto:tmaurer@cccua.edu”>tmaurer@cccua.edu</a> or 870-584-1184.

Fran Williams appointed to Lockesburg City Council     01/27/2021

The Lockesburg City Council has a new councilor after one was appointed last week to fill a vacant seat.

The council met in regular session on Jan. 19 to make the appointment as well as discuss a number of other items of city business. The council addressed the vacant seat first. The seat was left open after the resignation of Donna Gallaher on Dec. 31 of last year. With the resignation being in the middle of her term, the council was required to make a special appointment to the seat.

Two candidates expressed interest in filling the position: Fran Williams and Tracy Sutton. Following an executive session, the Lockesburg City Council voted 3-2 in favor of Williams. Williams was sworn in immediately after the vote and will now fill the vacant seat on the Lockesburg City Council for the remainder of Gallaher’s term. In addition to Williams, the current city council includes Claudine Tompkins, Sandy Webb, Rodger Ridley, Bill Roberts and Steven Hill. They were sworn in by Mayor Danny Ruth during last week’s meeting as was city recorder/treasurer Becky Jegstrup.

The council also discussed a possible land swap deal between the city and Lloyd and Janet Ballard of Lockesburg. After a discussion the issue was tabled to allow the city to consult with the city attorney and tax assessor’s office. The deal is expected to be revisited at the council’s next meeting.In other business, the council voted to keep its existing monthly meeting time and date. Future regular meetings will still be held on the second Tuesday of each month beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The council then approved a $3,500 bid from J&M Displays for the city’s 2021 Fourth of July Celebration. The council also approved a $480 order with the De Queen Rotary Club for 12 flags through the club’s Boulevard of Flags program.

The council discussed at length the city’s animal control problem. Although several options were discussed, no action was taken and the issue was tabled for further review.

Finally, a bid of just under $9,500 was accepted to finish updates to the Lockesburg Fire Department.

Sevier County Museum to host Couples Date Paint Night    01/27/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Museum and FrogLevel Studios will present a couples paint date night next month as Valentine’s Day approaches. The event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Sevier County Museum, located at 717 Walter Leeper Drive. The couples paint date night will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. that evening. Cost is $60 per person and includes all supplies, instructions and a lasagna dinner for two. Preregister by emailing froglevelsudioes160@gmail.com</a> or call the Sevier County Museum at 642-6642.

Spanish-language small business virtual seminar is tomorrow      01/27/2021

DE QUEEN – State and local organizations of Arkansas are teaming up this week to provide information and resources for Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs in the natural state this month.

The “Starting a Business in Arkansas” workshop will be held virtually tomorrow, Jan. 28 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and this event will be delivered in Spanish.

Information presented will include legal requirements, licensing, key issues for success in small businesses and more.

This workshop is free of charge and is being sponsored by the CREATE BRIDGES group, the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce and other state and federal agencies. Registration can be completed at www.asbtdc.ecenterdirect.com. For questions call (870) 230-5184.

Gov. Hutchinson provides update on COVID-19, vaccines    01/27/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The Arkansas Department of Health reported just under 2,500 new cases of COVID-19 across the state on Tuesday. During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference that afternoon, Hutchinson said the figure was higher than hoped but nonetheless smaller than the record highs reached in late December and early January. He also pointed out Monday’s total of 636 was the lowest one-day increase recorded since the beginning of the year.

Other figures shared on Tuesday weren’t as encouraging, with new single-day deaths remaining relatively high. Hutchinson said 40 additional Arkansans died from COVID-19 over the previous 24-hour period. So far, nearly 4,700 people have died in Arkansas from the virus. Hospitalizations also marked a slight uptick, rising by 11 for 1,095 Arkansans currently hospitalized by COVID-19. Active cases grew by several hundred to more than 18,000 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas.

Hutchinson indicated a more hopeful picture using the state’s latest unemployment figures as a metric of Arkansas’ economic recovery. Those figures show a drop in Arkansas’ unemployment rate from 6.3 percent in November to 4.2 percent in December.  At the same time the state is reporting a growth in its overall workforce. Combined, Hutchinson said, this data suggests Arkansas is recuperating from the financial impacts of COVID-19.

Moving to vaccines, Hutchinson stated Arkansas’ rollout of vaccinations under Phase 1-B is occurring across the state and proceeding efficiently. He cited a New York Times article suggesting Arkansas ranks 10th among states for most effective vaccine distributions. He added that the state is keeping registered second doses on hand for Arkansan’s who’ve already received the first round of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, an infectious disease control specialist with the Arkansas Department of Health, also spoke during Tuesday’s press conference to address concerns over the vaccine, how it was developed and its effectiveness.

She then urged Arkansans who get vaccinated to continue following COVID-19 guidelines such as public masking and social distancing in part to help slow the spread of new variants of COVID-19.

Arizona man accused of operating illegal adoption scheme in De Queen, elsewhere now in federal prison    01/26/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

An Arizona man who operated an illegal adoption scheme in De Queen and other locations across the nation headed to prison last week.

Paul Petersen became an inmate of the federal prison in El Paso on Thursday, Jan. 21. Petersen was sentenced in Arkansas last month to 6.5 years after pleading guilty to one count of human trafficking. Initially, the former Arizona attorney faced 19 charges involving trafficking and fraud, but that changed due to a plea deal made on June 24, 2020.

The charges all relate to an adoption scheme Petersen had orchestrated for years and which burst into 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. In compensation the women were told they would receive $10,000. 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,” with numerous pregnant women sleeping on mattresses on the floor. As many as 10 pregnant women were kept in a home in De Queen at any given time.

Officially what Petersen committed was human trafficking, but in many ways resembled imprisonment. If not in theory then almost certainly in practice. The women were isolated in De Queen, unable to speak the language or communicate their situation to anyone who could help. The women’s movements and communications were heavily restricted. Testimony provided against Petersen stated he and his surrogates intimidated victims by threatening to confiscate their passport and claiming that they’d never be able to see their family again unless they fully cooperated.

Although Petersen’s scheme promised money and support, the situation pregnant Marshallese mothers faced when they arrived was not what they were told.

Instead, in many cases they found themselves trapped in squalid homes and in living conditions which prosecutors said hardly any American would tolerate.

In December a group of Marshallese women who were victims of the scheme visited the home where they were kept. It was hoped the visit would bring some closure to these women’s experiences as victims of human trafficking. With Petersen now serving his sentence in a federal prison, that chapter might now be coming to a final end.

Chamber banquet cancelled, nominations for new board members underway     01/26/2021

DE QUEEN – Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has announced that the annual awards banquet slated for 2021 is being postponed with a new date to be announced at a later time.

Held in February each year, the chamber banquet typically takes place at De Queen High School with tables reserved for members and guests, a meal served, a silent auction, and an awards presentation for recognized organizations, volunteers and businesses. In years past the ceremony has also included performances by The De Queen High School Jazz Band, a live emcee and serving provided by The De Queen High School cross country team.

The decision to postpone the banquet came during a specially called Board of Directors meeting in December. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the Chamber Board agreed to prioritize the safety of the community by postponing the event until large gatherings can be held without concerns of COVID-19 exposure.

Though the event will be pushed back on the calendar, banquet attendees can still expect a fun theme, table decorating contest, silent auction, meal and awards to be distributed as usual. The 2021 Banquet theme will also be announced as the rescheduled date draws closer.
Questions can be referred to 870-584-3225, via email at <a href=”mailto:DQchamber@gmail.com”>DQchamber@gmail.com</a> or message the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

In a press release, the Chamber board of Directors said it appreciates the continued support of all members and community representatives. More information about the annual membership banquet will be released as details become available.

The chamber is currently reaching out to members via email to invite them to vote on the new individuals nominated to serve on the chamber board of directors. Those potential directors include Zac Battiest of State Farm Insurance, Alicia Gonzalez of Meraki Hair Studio, Ryan Pitchford of Walmart, Mick Martin of Lansdell Family Clinic, Jessica McGough of the De Queen Fire Department, Melinda Taggart of Sevier County Tourism, Erik Smith of Amp Fitness, Lance Bradshaw of the De Queen School District and Nelson Ramirez of Cricket Wireless.

Pine seedling giveaway in Broken Bow Feb. 4    01/26/2021

BROKEN BOW, Okla. – The Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce will host the annual Weyerhaeuser Pine Seedling Giveaway on Feb. 4 starting at 8:30 a.m.

Seedlings will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Trees will be small seedlings.

The event will take place at the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce Office at 113 West Martin Luther King Drive.

It’s recommended to be at the Chamber office as close as possible to the start time to ensure receipt of a tree. According to Chamber officials the seedling giveaway is a popular event and tree supplies often go fast. There is a limit of 25 seedlings per person.

Unlike some previous years, hardwoods will not be available this year.

For more information on the event, contact the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3393 or by email at bchamber@pine-net.com.

Cooperative Extension Service offering free workshop for small enterprises looking to do business with state and local governments    01/26/2021

For small businesses looking to expand their clientele, the State of Arkansas could be a potential customer.

The Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center will offer a free virtual workshop, “Selling to the State of Arkansas,” on Feb. 11 from 1-2:30 p.m. Participants will learn about state procurement regulations and procedures for submitting bids with the state.

There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. Register now!

The Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center is housed at the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. It provides government contracting technical assistance to Arkansas small businesses.

In 2020, the center’s clients received more than $204 million in federal, state, and local government contracts. Of that amount, $9.4 million were from state and local contracts.

“This equates to 4,342 jobs created or retained in the state of Arkansas,” PTAC program director Melanie Berman said. “Arkansas PTAC has worked very hard over the past few years to connect our small business clients to purchasing officials within the federal, state and local government. Sometimes the most difficult part of selling to the government is understanding what each government agency’s preferred process is for vendors.”

At the Feb. 11 workshop, PTAC counselors will teach participants what is needed to sell to the state of Arkansas. Leaders from the Office of State Procurement will also share best practices for vendors, and participants will be able to ask questions.

For more information, visit http://uaex.edu/ptac,  email PTAC@uaex.edu, or call 501-671-2390.

To learn more about Division of Agriculture publications, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.edu. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/UAEX_edu.

Arkansas Travel Guide now available across state    01/26/2021

The 2021 Arkansas Travel Guide is now available at Welcome Centers and tourism locations across the state. You can order a print edition or view the guide online at arkansas.com/publications.

“For those of us who call The Natural State home, the virtues of the state are clear – stunning scenic views, compelling sites and award-winning culinary opportunities,” said Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst. “We hope the 2021 Travel Guide will help you explore these places.”

Featuring stunning photography and content meant to educate and inspire, the guide is designed to encourage travelers to discover their own adventures in The Natural State.

“Arkansas is full of unique destinations for visitors of all ages. This guide aims to help travelers discover both the highly popular places as well as the lesser-known attractions in The Natural State easily so they can focus on enjoying all our state has to offer,” said Arkansas Tourism Director Travis Napper.

The 2021 edition features a magazine-style format that showcases images and content in dynamic layouts. Topics include Arkansas’s natural attractions, museums, arts destinations, mountain biking, live entertainment, historical sites, dining and much more.

Written and designed by Arkansas Tourism and CJRW, the travel guide is published annually.

Sevier County Extension offering PAT classes in February      01/26/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Extension Service will hold Pesticide Applicator Training (PAT) sessions on Tuesday, February 9 and on Thursday, February 11, 2021.  Pre-registration is required by calling Dana at (870) 584-3013.  Due to COVID-19 guidelines, each class is limited to only nine participants.  You must wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    01/26/2021

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:

Sevier County reported an additional death due to COVID-19 on Monday. That raises the death toll from the virus in Sevier County to 25 since the pandemic began. Active cases did see a slight drop, falling to 39 – the lowest recorded in months. Total cases grew by four to 2,316.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported four fewer active cases on Sunday, dropping the current figure to 49. Total cases rose to 1,002. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County also reported an additional death on Monday, raising the total to 21. Active cases saw a net decrease, falling to 52 currently confirmed and probable active cases. Total cases grew by three to 1,301.

Active cases fell below the three-digit mark on Monday for the first time in over a month. With the net decrease of 15 cases on Monday, active cases in Polk County now number 99. Total cases did grow slightly and now number 1,614. Deaths remain at 54.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported five fewer active cases yesterday for a current total of 245. Overall cases grew by seven to 3,361. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported just 636 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. That’s the lowest one-day increase since the start of the new year. Arkansas’ cumulative total now numbers a little over 284,000 since the start of the outbreak. Active cases fell to just under 18,000. Deaths rose by 44 yesterday, however, and now total 4,650. Hospitalizations increased by four on Monday, leaving 1,084 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Ashdown High named a School of Innovation    01/25/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School has received the prestigious designation as a School of Innovation (SOI) after district teachers and staff met a number of educational achievements.  The designation is based upon the high school reaching certain goals set by the Arkansas Department of Education towards creating a more innovative learning environment.

AHS was required to show substantial progress towards those goals “with the purpose of transforming and improving teaching and learning within two years of approval of the application.”  Their first goal was to reduce the Achievement Gap. Towards that goal, the Ashdown High School was recently recognized by the Office for Education Policy (OEP) at the University of Arkansas where students demonstrated high growth on the ACT ASPIRE test.

Goals 2-4 were aimed at increasing curriculum options and expand college/career readiness and motivate students to engage in learning. Officials with Ashdown High School said they’ve met those goals by adding a career coach to support students in career and college planning. The high school has also added weekly advisory classes and created a teacher cadet class for students wanting to go into the teaching profession. The school is now certifying student tutors through the National Tutor Association and making student tutors available during flex times. Increased concurrent credit classes allow students to graduate with 24 or more hours of college credits.

The high school is increasing its career certification classes by partnering with CNA and pharmacy technical programs as well as the Lockesburg Industrial Maintenance program.

Goal 5 was to transform the culture and climate of Ashdown High School.  With that goal in mind, AHS has been surveying the community, parents, and students to adjust the way learning is presented on campus. That includes focusing more on student interest such as a TV production program, a coffee shop, student-led tutoring and a student-based advisory board. Students at AHS are also able to enjoy a revamped “commons area” which centers around flexible seating, healthy snacks, and a relaxed atmosphere for learning.

Ashdown Public School Superintendent Casey Nichols said Ashdown High School was required to be extremely forward-thinking in its desire to become a School of Innovation. It’s all in the hopes, he added, of removing any barriers that students may face towards learning and enjoying future success, whether that be at college or in a career-ready environment. Nichols said the goals and School of Innovation designation could not have been possible without the support of Ashdown High School’s parents and community members.

Arkansas legislature discusses car tags, court-related changes      01/25/2021

In the second week of the 2021 Regular Session, the Arkansas House of Representatives voted on bills addressing everything from car tags to jury duty pay. State Representative DeAnn Vaught provided an update on some of the details of those bills as well as others currently navigating the state legislatures.

The bills now advancing to the Senate include one that would extend the length of time a consumer has to tag their vehicle. Current law gives car buyers 30 days to pay the sales tax and register a vehicle after purchase. HB 1028 would extend that period to 60 days.

Another bill allows participants in a specialty court program, such as drug court, to transfer to a similar program if they move to another court district. This bill also includes guidelines for courts to establish a veterans treatment specialty court program and a DWI specialty court program. In addition, this bill sets to develop a domestic violence specialty court program.

Specialty courts are designed to lower the prison population by directing individuals to needed treatment programs.

HB1185 would allow the Department of Correction to make an administrative transfer of an inmate to the Division of Community Correction. This would not impact the length of a sentence but rather allow the department to transfer an inmate if they need behavioral or substance abuse treatment.

Another court related bill would allow a juror to donate their per diem compensation and mileage reimbursement to an eligible nonprofit entity. The administrative office of the courts will be tasked with compiling a list of eligible nonprofits.

An eligible nonprofit should offer services in multiple counties and have as one of its primary goals the providing of crime victim assistance or counseling, services for abused or neglected children, shelter for victims of domestic violence or services for veterans.
Finally, HB1107 amends the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to allow the Arkansas Department of Health to request physical or electronic copies of prescriptions from prescribers or dispensers when checking for accuracy.

The House reconvenes today at 1 pm. You can find a list of all agendas and links to live-streams of all meetings at www.arkansashouse.org.

De Queen Lions Club recognizes recent Students of the Month    01/25/2021

Student of the Month – Halle Harp was named the December 2020 Student of the Month by the De Queen Lions Club. She  received her certificate from Club member and DQPD Chief Scott Simmons.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Lions Club recently recognized its two newest Students of the Month from De Queen High School. Halle Harp was recognized as Student of the Month for December. Halle is a senior at De Queen High and is a member of the National Honor Society and cross country and track teams. She’s in the Gifted and Talented Program and is student council reporter. Halle was the 2020 Homecoming Queen at De Queen High. She is active as a DHS Cheerleader, two-time All American Cheerleader and is cheer captain. She was selected twice to cheer in Orlando, FL at the Varsity Spirit Spectacular.

Student of the Month – Allen Hong,  was named the January 2021 Student of the Month by the De Queen Lions Club. He is pictured receiving his certificate from Club member and DQPD Chief Scott Simmons.

Allen Hong was recognized asStudent of the Month for January at last week’s meeting of the De Queen Lions Club. Allen, a senior at De Queen High School, is an office worker and is a member of the Leopard football, cross country, tennis, basketball, track and soccer teams. The Lions Club Student of the Month program seeks to recognize and highlight the top students at De Queen High School.

State police investigating apparent homicide in Waldron    01/25/2021

WALDRON – The Arkansas State Police is investigating an apparent homicide after a woman was found dead near Waldron Saturday morning.

In a press release from the Arkansas State Police, authorities state Waldron Police officers located the body of 24-year-old Brehana Lee Duran of Booneville in the passenger seat of a pickup truck on Ross Creek Road early that morning. The release states her body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab to determine the exact manner and cause of her death.

A man who was identified as the possible driver of the truck attempted to flee after Waldron police officers made contact on Saturday morning. He is currently being held for questioning by the state police. His name has not been released.

Charges filed in case of Chapel Hill burglaries in December      01/25/2021

DE QUEEN – Felony charges have been filed against two men suspected in a number of thefts in Sevier County last month.

According to court records, 31-year-old Travis Pressley and 38-year-old Cody Culp, both of De Queen, are both facing felony charges of breaking or entering as well as theft of property. The charges were formally filed last week in the Sevier County Circuit Court.

Both Culp and Pressley were arrested last month after several residential burglaries at homes in the Chapel Hill area near De Queen last month. Items stolen included a boat and trailer, a firearm and custom saddles. All stolen items were recovered and returned to their owners. Some of the items were located at a residence just across the Oklahoma state line. Culp and Pressley were arrested following a investigation by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office. Court records show Pressley has entered a guilty plea for both felony theft of property and breaking or entering. Sentencing recommendations include four years in prison with the suspended imposition of five additional years.

Court records detail that Culp has entered a plea of not guilty and that a future pre-trial hearing has been scheduled.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    01/25/2021

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:

Sevier County reported one additional active case of COVID-19 yesterday, raising the current total to 40. Total cases rose by four to 2,312. Deaths remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported one fewer active case on Sunday, dropping the current figure to 53. Total cases rose to 999. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County reported one less active case yesterday, leaving 56 active cases of COVID-19 in Howard County. Total cases grew by three to 1,298 while deaths remained at 20.

Polk County reported two additional deaths over the weekend, raising the death toll from COVID-19 in Polk County to 56 since the pandemic began. Total cases rose by nine to 1,612. Active cases decreased by three yesterday and now total 114.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported three fewer active cases yesterday for a current total of 250. Overall cases grew by 21 to 3,354. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported 1,017 new cases of the COVID-19 on Sunday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to just over 284,000 since the start of the outbreak. Active cases fell to 19,395. Deaths rose by 43 yesterday and now total 4,606. Hospitalizations fell by 14 on Sunday, leaving 1,080 Arkansans still hospitalized due to the virus.

Southern Bancorp announces acquisition of Bank of Lockesburg, two other branches      01/22/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Southern Bancorp announced Thursday it will expand with several new branches following the completion of an acquisition deal.

The Arkadelphia-based bank has purchased DeWitt First Bankshares Corp. and its subsidiary, Arkansas County Bank.A news release issued by Bancorp did not state the value of the transaction but added that Arkansas County Bank includes $185 million in financial and capital assets. Those assets include three branches, the Bank of Lockesburg and two branches in Arkansas County.

Southern Bancorp CEO Darrin Williams stated in the news release that the bank is “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.”

Regulatory and shareholder approval is still needed to finalize the acquisition. The deal is expected to close within the second quarter of 2021. Southern Bancorp currently operates 49 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.

U.S. Forest Service announces controlled burns over next several months    01/22/2021

It’s likely to look hazy out north and west of Sevier County over the next few months but area residents are asked not to be concerned – the Ouachita National Forest will soon begin conducing its yearly prescribed burns.

The U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday it plans to burn around 250,000 acres combined between the Ouachita and Ozark National Forests. 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, including deer, turkey, endangered bats and woodpeckers and others.

With urban development continually spreading into the forests, Forest Service officials say they are no longer able to allow natural ignition to roam freely across the states as it did in prehistoric conditions. Instead of allowing wildfire to move across the landscape unrestricted, land managers use controlled fire to meet similar objectives.

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.

DQPD informs public of new sex offender employed in De Queen        01/22/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Police Department is informing the public of a sex offender now employed in the city.

According to the police department, 47-year-old Demetrice Lamont Goldsby is now employed at the Pilgrim’s facility in De Queen. Goldsby is a convicted Level III sex offender for an incident involving a 13-year-old female. The police department reports Goldsby is also accused of raping an adult female as well.

Goldsby is employed in De Queen but the sex offender registry lists him as living in Texarkana, Texas.

The De Queen Police Department stresses this notification is not intended to increase fear. Authorities say it is there belief that an informed public will be safer. Due to Goldsby’s Level III sex offender status, law enforcement believe it is necessary to notify all community members likely to encounter the offender.

The police department states that citizen abuse of this information to threaten, intimidate or harass offenders will not be tolerated. Such abuse could potentially end law enforcement’s ability to share this information with the public. If notification ends, police say the offender will win through the power of secrecy.

Section 13 of Act 989, passed in 1997, authorizes law enforcement to inform the public of sex offender presence with the aim of enhancing public safety and protection.

Ark. Dept. of Agriculture releases feral hog reporting app      01/22/2021

The Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force is unveiling a new tool to help coordinate the fight against invasive pests in The Natural State. A new mobile-friendly survey will enable any private landowner or hunter to upload information about feral hog sightings and removal efforts in Arkansas.

The app-based Arkansas Feral Hog Control Survey is available for download at www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/feral-hog. It was developed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to track the agency’s efforts in feral hog trapping during the last year. After successful field tests, biologists and staff within the task force modified the tool so the public could help track any feral hog removal efforts throughout the state.

Landowners who remove feral hogs on private property by trapping or shooting are asked to help the task force by uploading removal information on the Arkansas Feral Hog Control Survey.
Information uploaded to the survey will help the task force better understand how many feral hogs are being removed monthly by private individuals, state agencies, and federal agencies. This will guide future management decisions to continue the fight against feral hogs in Arkansas.

Feral hogs are not native to the United States. They are an invasive species that poses significant risks to human and livestock health. In Arkansas, feral hogs cause an estimated $19 million in damages to agriculture and natural resources. They compete for food resources, destroy habitat by rooting and wallowing and will eat ground-nesting birds, eggs, fawns and young domestic livestock. They also carry up to 45 bacteria, diseases and parasites, including Trichinellosis, Brucellosis and swine herpes virus.

In Arkansas feral hogs may be killed or trapped day or night by any means year-round on private property by a landowner or anyone who has the landowner’s permission. A license is not required to kill feral hogs, but anyone who has had their license revoked may not hunt them. On public land feral hogs may not be taken on many wildlife management areas and National Wildlife Refuges. There are a few WMAs where feral hogs may be taken opportunistically, but only during open firearms deer, bear or elk seasons or with archery tackle from Nov. 1-Dec. 31.

The AGFC conducts extensive trapping efforts on public and private lands and encourages the use of large-scale trapping efforts as opposed to hunting or shooting single animals as it educates the pigs remaining in the group and scatters them to new properties. Anyone convicted of releasing hogs in Arkansas in an attempt to stock them for recreational purposes faces fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 per hog or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both. Possession or release of live feral hogs on an AGFC-managed WMA is a Class 4 offense, which carries a fine of $750 to $7,500 and a jail sentence of up to 180 days upon conviction.Visit www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/feral-hog for more information about the Feral Hog Eradication Task Force and tools to help control feral hogs in Arkansas.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    01/22/2021

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:

Sevier County reported six fewer active cases on Thursday. That lowers the current active caseload in Sevier to 37 – the lowest in months. Total cases rose by six to 2,289. Deaths remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported no change in its active cases, which remain at 49. Total cases grew by six to 979. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County reported 14 additional active cases Thursday, raising the total of currently confirmed and probable active cases in Howard County to 44. Total cases grew by 18 to 1,278 while deaths remained at 20.

Polk County reported two fewer active cases on Thursday, dropping the total to 118. Total cases grew by 12 to 1,576. Deaths remain at 52.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported nine additional active cases yesterday for a current total of 247. Overall cases grew by 26 to 3,311. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported just over 3,100 new cases on Thursday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of confirmed and probable cases to more than 279,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw a net increase of 227 to number 20,618 currently active cases across the state. Deaths increased by 55 again on Thursday for a statewide total of 4,496 deaths. Hospitalizations decreased by 19, leaving 1,160 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Gillham man arrested after truck crashes into historic Gillham store     01/21/2021

GILLHAM – Charges have been filed against a man accused of wrecking into a building long seen as a historic icon of the Gillham community

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office reports 24-year-old David Pearce of Gillham was arrested for driving while intoxicated after he allegedly lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the old Wax Store on Hornberg Avenue in Gillham.

The sheriff’s office received the report from a witness who drove by the store after the accident occurred. Upon arriving the responding deputy saw two men standing outside the store. He also noted a 2014 Dodge Ram pickup truck had run through the storefront and was buried inside the building

After ensuring no on was hurt, the deputy reportedly noticed the smell of alcohol on Pearce. During questioning Pearce allegedly admitted to having four or five beers two hours before the incident. The deputy was unable to perform a blood-alcohol content test but stated that Pearce failed several steps of a field sobriety test.

Pearce was then taken into custody and issued citations for driving while intoxicated as well as careless and prohibited driving. The building’s owner was contacted and he told authorities he would seek an estimate on damages to the building.

Although the Wax Store has been closed and unused for years, it has long remained a historic icon in Gillham and the surrounding communities.

Little over a week until start of Millwood Fishing Challenge     01/21/2021

In just over a week the Little River County Chamber of Commerce in Ashdown will kick off the first ever Millwood Fishing Challenge starting next month. Through this new event local anglers will have a chance to win thousands of dollars in cash prizes.
The challenge will take place on Millwood Lake near Ashdown and will begin at 6 a.m. February 1. The challenge will end 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 will all be wearing 2021 yellow tags and will be released into Millwood Lake just prior to the challenge start date.
​​The challenge provides anglers the opportunity to catch yellow-tagged fish that can be redeemed for cash prizes.

The yellow tags will 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 fish will be tagged by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and released into Millwood Lake. No one will know the exact location of the release points except certain organizers.

The prize fish include bass, catfish (of any kind) and crappie. ONLY bream will be tagged for the youth angler challenge. All tagged fish will be have to be checked-in alive and with their yellow tag in place. No commercial fishing equipment is allowed and, obviously, all state laws and regulations must be followed. No guided fishing trips are allowed to participate in this event.

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 young anglers weekend will be held in April.

Visit the Little River County Chamber of Commerce online at www.ashdownarkansas.org/millwoodfishingchallenge for more details.

City receives $480,000 check from Pilgrim’s for new splash pad       01/21/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown announced Pilgrim’s has provided the city with a check for nearly half a million dollars to construct a splash pad in De Queen.

Pilgrim’s announced last month it would donate $480,000 for a new, state-of-the-art splash pad at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.

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. Construction is expected to begin sometime this quarter.

De Queen Mayor Jeff 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, quote, “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 month 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.

Local law enforcement, healthcare providers report scams in area     01/21/2021

DE QUEEN – As COVID-19 vaccinations become increasing available, so are the scams attempting to exploit people during this health crisis. Local law enforcement and healthcare providers are reporting that they’ve received a number of calls from area residents concerning these scams. The scammer will typically state they are from Medicare or BlueCross Blue Shield and ask individuals for private medical information.

If you get a call, text, email — or even someone knocking on your door —seeking any general medical information, officials urge you not to respond. It’s most likely a scam. Other scams have been reported in Arkansas with the caller claiming they can schedule you a COVID-19 vaccine – typically at a steep price.

You can’t pay to get early access to a vaccine or to get on a vaccination list. And you can’t buy a COVID-19 vaccination through the mail, online, or in stores.

Law enforcement and healthcare providers stress you don’t respond to text messages about COVID-19 from people you don’t know. Clicking on links in messages could download malware to your phone or let criminals know they’ve found a target.

No one from a vaccine distribution site or insurance company will call to ask for your Social Security number or your credit card or bank account information to sign you up for a vaccine.

Medicare will not call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19 related products, services, or benefit review.

Some scammers pretend to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number, financial information, or try to set up a COVID-19 test for you and get payment information.

Beware of anyone offering other products, treatments, or medicines to prevent the virus.

Always check with your doctor before paying for or getting any COVID-19-related treatment.

DQ City Council approves contracts, discusses city-owned lot     01/21/2021

DE QUEEN – In addition to establishing a $25 license fee for any business selling or serving alcohol in De Queen, the De Queen City Council also addressed a number of other items of city business Tuesday night.

That included approving several annual contracts the city has with entities in the city limits. Through those contracts the city will provide the Sevier County Humane Society with its traditional $2,500 annual contract. Mayor Jeff Brown said the partnership is important through the low-cost spay and neuter clinics sponsored by the local humane society. The clinics, Brown stated, help to address the issue to stray animals within the city limits.

The council also approved a $5,000 contract with the Sevier County Museum to support the museum’s efforts to highlight and protect the county’s history. The final contract included $10,000 for the Sevier County Senior Citizens Center.

In other business, the city council approved an audit from 2019 looking at the city’s water and sewer departments. Brown said no significant findings were found during the routine audit.

The final item of business was the future use of a lot adjacent to city hall and currently owned by the city. After some discussion the council agreed to maintain ownership of the lot for future potential expansion of city hall or for other city use.

The city council is scheduled to meet again on Feb. 2. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. and begin with a public hearing over a water tank grant.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     01/21/2021

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

Sevier County reported one additional death on Wednesday. That raises the county’s death toll from COVID-19 to 24 since the pandemic began. Active cases did see another day of decline, falling by eight to number 43 currently. Total cases grew by 15 to 2,283.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported a single decrease in its active caseload for a current total of 49. Overall cases increased by 15 to 973. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County reported one additional active case Wednesday, leaving 30 currently confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total grew by 12 to 1,260 while deaths remained at 20.

Polk County reported one additional death over the past 24-hour period. That raises total deaths from COVID-19 in Polk County to 52. Active cases were unchanged at 120 while total cases grew by 12 to 1,564 since the outbreak started.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported four fewer active cases on Wednesday. Active cases in the county now number 238. Total cases grew by eight to 3,285 while deaths remained at 57.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported an addition 2,520 cases on Wednesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to over 276,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases decreased by 549, leaving a little over 20,000 active cases across the state. Deaths saw a significant increase however, with another 55 reported on Wednesday. That raises the state’s death toll from the virus to 4,441 since the start of the pandemic. 1,179 Arkansans remained hospitalized due to the virus.

DQ City Council votes against alcohol tax, approves licensing fee     01/20/2021

The full audio story is available here

The partial transcript is featured below.

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Businesses looking at selling, manufacturing or serving alcohol in De Queen will not have any additional taxes imposed on them by the city.

That was the decision made by the De Queen City Council during its meeting Tuesday night. Several city councilors voiced their opposition to additional taxes, citing the financial difficulties already facing local businesses engaged in food service, entertainment and tourism in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The city council also expressed concern that imposing more taxes on alcohol sales would hurt consumers and go against the spirit of the Sevier County residents who voted overwhelmingly to go wet.

The council did pass an ordinance, however, establishing a yearly $25 license requirement for any business authorized by Arkansas Beverage Control to sell, serve or manufacture alcohol in De Queen. Mayor Jeff Brown said the city saw this ordinance as a simple way to track the number of authorized businesses in the city limits. He added the $25 fee would also help local law enforcement separate legitimate alcohol retailers from potential bootleg operations.

Alderman Rick Pruitt stated that he appreciated the city choosing to only establish a $25 yearly license fee. Imposing additional taxes, he said, would only harm those who wish to use the legalization of alcohol sales towards advancing economic development in Sevier County.
That’s not to say, however, that alcohol sales will go unregulated within De Queen or the broader county. The city’s legal counsel, Erin Hunter, said Arkansas Beverage Control maintains a strict list of regulations, fees and statutes in regards to restaurants and businesses that sell alcohol. In addition the city and county will nonetheless receive revenue from alcohol sales through the state sales tax.

The city council did leave the option open to amend the ordinance or establish other regulations in the future if the need arises. Beer and wine sales are expected to begin in Sevier County later this month or the beginning of February.

Vaccines still available for Sevier County teachers, elderly 70 and up       01/20/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News

Teachers in Sevier County who were not able to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at designated clinics this week can still schedule them on their own.

This includes teachers at De Queen and Horatio Public Schools as well as educators at Legacy Academy. A final clinic will be held this evening at the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy for De Queen teachers. The clinic will be held between 4-7 p.m. at the pharmacy, located at 1357 Collin Raye Drive. De Queen teachers are asked to contact their school’s administration to determine if they are scheduled to attend tonight’s clinic.

Horatio and De Queen teachers who could not make these clinics can still schedule a time to receive the vaccine by using the scheduler found on the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy’s Facebook page. They can also schedule an appointment by calling the pharmacy at 642-2400.

Arkansans aged 70 and older are also eligible to begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine this week. As with teachers, Sevier County residents 70 and older can call the pharmacy or use the scheduler linked on the pharmacy’s Facebook page. The direct link is also included here:
https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require an initial dose with a follow-up booster (three-to-four weeks later, depending on which vaccine is given).

Murder charges filed against Ashdown man for 2020      01/20/2021

ASHDOWN – An Ashdown resident suspected of killing a man last year has been formally charged.

According to court records, Corey Garfield has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 48-year-old Dennis Graves on Oct. 6, 2020. The murder charges were filed against Garfield on Friday.

Garfield became a suspect in the murder following an investigation by the Ashdown Police Department. However, Garfield eluded local police for around a month until Ashdown and Little Rock police found and arrested him at a Little Rock motel.

The Graves’ body was found in his driveway in Ashdown incapacitated from a gunshot wound. A police office provided medical treatment on the scene but Graves later died in an area hospital. Investigators immediately identified Garfield as the lead suspect for his alleged involvement in the crime.

Garfield has been charged with second-degree murder and is currently being held in the Little River County Jail. Garfield’s bond was set at $250,000. The second degree murder charge carries a sentence of six to 30 years in prison.

Sevier part of pilot program to help property owners eradicate feral hogs     01/20/2021

The full audio story is available here:</em>

The partial transcript is featured below:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The Sevier County Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering a new feral hog eradication program for area residents thanks to a federal grant.

The NRCS office in De Queen has 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. In Sevier County, the two full-time trappers are Steven Pinkerton, a native of Nashville, and Jackson Lee of Cove. Robin Stacy of the NRCS office in De Queen is heading the program. Stacy said the grant allowed the office to hire two full-time trappers to assist landowners. The grant will fund those positions for the next three years. Stacy said her office is hoping to get the word out to landowners that the office is poised to help with their hog eradication efforts. She said the trappers would be available to set up and bait traps on their property.

Stacy and Pinkerton explained that the program is free to property owners and, if successful, could expand to other areas in South Arkansas.

Stacy and Pinkerton said that, while the program is completely free, some assistance from landowners is necessary in disposing of the killed hogs and also maintain proper trapping protocols.

Pinkerton added that the program is also an educational process that aims to help property owners trap and eliminate hogs on their own. He also explained the trapping process can take a few days to ensure as many hogs are caught as possible on the first gate drop. The equipment they bring along includes remote controlled gates and a video camera to ensure no one is around to spook the animals away.

Stacy encourages anyone with signs of feral hogs on their property to contact their office and participate in the free trapping program. For more information contact the NRCS office in De Queen by calling 584-3111.

Sevier County’s unemployment rate notes slight uptick in November     01/20/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Newly released economic data shows Sevier County’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly in late 2020 after several months of consecutive decline. Nonetheless, Sevier County’s unemployment rate remains below the Arkansas and U.S. averages.

The new data details Sevier County’s unemployment rate in November – the latest month for which data is available. The unemployment rate grew by .4 of a percent, increasing from 5.6 in October to six percent in November. That rate continues to remain below the state and national average, which totaled 6.2 and 6.7 percent respectively during the same month.

Sevier 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 45 out of 75 counties in the state for the lowest unemployment. Out of a work force of 5,427 people in Sevier County only 320 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 just above Sevier with a rate of 5.9 percent. That ranks Little River 43rd out of 75 Arkansas counties.

Howard County is ranked 11<sup>th</sup> in the state with an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent. Polk County ranks in the 51st spot with an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent.

Statewide Madison County reported the lowest unemployment rate of just 3.9 percent. Chicot County continues to report the highest rate in the state with 10.9 percent.

Work proceeding on new Sevier County Medical      01/20/2021

DE QUEEN – Work is proceeding on target for Sevier County’s new hospital, according to a architects’ report shared late last week.

If you’ve driven north of De Queen on Highway 71, you’ve likely seen work progressing on the site of the new Sevier County Medical Facility. The 14-bed facility will be constructed on a 20-acre site located just several miles north of town.

At this time most of the trees, brush and other debris have been cleared out. In the report released by the hospital’s architects – Wittenberg, Deloney and Davidson – utility and infrastructure projects are the main focus currently. The architects reported fire lines and fire hydrants have been excavated and installed. A conflict with the location of the site’s current water line will require more information before action can be taken to finish the hospital’s water hookup. Stormwater utilities and pollution prevention plans have also been put in place.

As for the building itself, the undercut has been completed and passed initial tests. Currently the contractor has six workers on site as preparation work for the planned hospital facility continues.

Construction of the new hospital, which will include 14 beds when completed, is expected to finish in early 2022.

State officials express hope over declining new COVID-19 daily case counts, provide update on vaccine rollout and new U.K.    01/20/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

State officials expressed cautious optimism for the first time in many weeks regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in Arkansas.

Figures reported by the Arkansas Department of Health during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update on Tuesday provided a more hopeful picture of the ongoing pandemic. Hutchinson said the health department detected just over 1,300 new cases on Tuesday – a significant decrease from the three- and four-thousand new case counts reported daily in December and early January. Tuesday’s new cases follow a roughly week-long period in which new cases have fallen to their lowest figure in some time. Nonetheless, the state’s cumulative cases continue to grow with more than 273,000 transmissions since the pandemic began.

Active cases have also fallen precipitously over the past week and continued to do so on Tuesday. Hutchinson announced 1,854 fewer active cases, leaving a total of 20,940 current confirmed and probable active cases. Hospitalizations saw a slight increase of two for a total of 1,265 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. New daily deaths continue to remain relatively high with another 43 reported on Tuesday for a total of almost 4,400 since the outbreak began.

Hutchinson said the consistent decline in the state’s average daily growth rate over the past week allows for some much-desired hope.

Hutchinson then shared an update on the vaccine rollout in Arkansas. Of the 293,000 doses received by Arkansas pharmacies and hospitals, over 50 percent have been administered. Progress has been far weaker for those vaccines allocated to CVS and Walgreens to administer within Arkansas long-term care facilities. Only eight percent of the 80,700 vaccines received have been administered. Hutchinson said state officials are trying to put increased pressure on these chain pharmacies in hopes the rollout becomes more efficient than it has. State action however is limited as both CVS and Walgreens have been given federal contracts to distribute the vaccine throughout the nation.

Hutchinson said the number one question received by state health officials is how eligible Arkansans can schedule their vaccine. He advised Arkansans to use the health department’s website at <a id=”LPlnk516336″ href=”http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” data-auth=”NotApplicable”>www.healthy.arkansas.gov</a> to determine if they are eligible to receive a vaccine at this time and, if so, how they can do so.

Finally, Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero provided an update on the new strains of COVID-19 first reported in the United Kingdom but now increasingly seen in the United States. Although new strains are a routine development in the evolution of a virus, Romero said the state is nonetheless actively searching for the new strain to determine when it inevitably arrives in Arkansas.

Romero said the new strain is around 50 to 75 percent more transmissible than the older strain. However, he stressed it can be prevented just the same by thorough handwashing, wearing a facemask and through social distancing.</div>

Sevier County Extension offering Best Care program at no cost       01/20/2021

DE QUEEN -The Sevier County Extension Office is once again offering its Best Care program aimed at providing local childcare providers with the latest training in childhood education.

The program is offered through a partnership between the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Association. As in the past Best Care offers childcare providers with over 50 hours of early childhood professional development.

Typically, 10 Best Care hours are offered in a face-to-face atmosphere. In 2021, due to COVID-19, these classes will be offered online. Sevier County Extension Agent Janet Cantrell said it’s simple to enroll. Just go to http://courses.uaex.edu</a> and follow the instructions. The Best Care course is open now through June 30. Participants can complete courses one at a time and come back later to finish them. Once completed, participants will receive a certificate to print off for their records.

The 2021 course topics include a number of topics, from time management and farm to classroom practices to the importance of physical and emotional well-being.

The extension service also continues to offer its Best Care Connected program, which provides five hours of online training, as well as its Guiding Children Successfully program. This training includes 30 hours of self-guided study and is available online. If you prefer to use the self-guided hard copy of the Guiding Children Successfully, it is available at the Sevier County Extension office.

All training opportunities are offered free of charge and are verified training through the Professional Development Registry (PDR.

For more information about classes for early childhood professionals, contact Sevier County Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Janet Cantrell, at (870) 584-3013 or email at jcantrell@uaex.edu.

AMHC seeking applications to host health events with local    01/20/2021

DE QUEEN – The Arkansas Minority Health Commission (AMHC) is now accepting sponsorship applications for health-related events to be hosted April 1 through April 30, 2021, during Minority Health Awareness Month. To apply, applicants must download and complete the required documents, which can be found on AMHC’s website at arminorityhealth.com/resources/funding-opportunities.

Applications must be submitted via email to Onekia Freeman at Onekia.Freeman@arkansas.gov by the end of the day on Monday, Feb. 15. Any applications received after this date and time will not be accepted.
The AMHC has hosted numerous health-related events and screenings in Sevier County in partnership with local providers. The organization’s stated intent is to collaborate with community-based organizations, schools, faith-based organizations and others to address health problems that disproportionately affect minorities in Arkansas.

Extension offering food safety training workshops online     01/20/2021

Submitted by UAEX

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture will offer online produce safety training workshops to educate fruit and vegetable producers about new rules for protecting the food supply.

Two online workshops will be offered from 8 a.m to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 10-11 and again March 31-April 1. Participants can register at <a href=”http://www.uaex.edu/producesafety”>www.uaex.edu/producesafety</a>. Registration closes seven days before each training so that materials can be mailed to participants. The registration deadlines are Feb. 3 for the first training and March 13 for the second.

Topics covered will include agricultural water, soil amendments, worker health and hygiene, wildlife management, post-harvest handling and food safety plans.

The training, developed by the Produce Safety Alliance and presented by the Cooperative Extension Service, helps growers understand regulatory requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule, which regulates standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding fresh produce.

Participants will receive a certificate of completion, which satisfies the Produce Safety Rule training requirement. Participants must be present both days of the training and must have Internet access, Zoom video conferencing software, a web camera and a microphone.
Typically, extension offers in-person training at sites across Arkansas. But, with the COVID-19 pandemic still making its impact across the state, the workshops will be held virtually for the time being.

No in-person training is scheduled at this time. For more information, call  501-671-2228. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit <a href=”http://www.uaex.edu/”>www.uaex.edu</a>.</div>
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ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      01/20/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier and surrounding areas are continuing to see consistent declines in the number of active COVID-19 cases reported. Compared to the high active cases seen just a month ago the latest figures show a hopeful trend. It’s a sign, local and state health officials hope, of a brighter future – a future without a significant COVID-19 presence.

But health officials remind all Arkansans to remain diligent and follow the three “W’s”: wash your hands, watch your distance and wear your mask.

And now here are the latest COVID-19 figures as updated Tuesday afternoon by the Arkansas Department of Health:

Sevier County reported a net decrease of four active cases on Tuesday, lowering the current total to 51. Total cases increased by five to 2,268. Deaths remain at 23.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported a single decrease in its active caseload for a current total of 50. Overall cases increased by two to 958. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County reported nine fewer active cases Tuesday, leaving just 29 confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total cases remained unchanged at 1,248 and deaths at 20.

Polk County reported 19 fewer active cases yesterday, leaving 120 confirmed and probable active cases in Polk County. Total cases grew by five to 1,552. Deaths remain at 51.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 26 fewer active cases on Tuesday. Active cases in the county now number 242. Total cases grew by three to 3,273 while deaths remained at 57.

Sevier County teachers, residents aged 70 and up can now schedule COVID-19 vaccine through De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy     01/18/2021

DE QUEEN – State officials have announced Arkansans aged 70 and older, as well as K-12, day care and college/university teachers, would be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning next week. Vaccine doses will be distributed at select pharmacies across the state. In De Queen, the participating pharmacy is the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy.

De Queen Health and Wellness owner/pharmacist Chester Barber invites all Sevier County residents aged 70 and older to begin scheduling their vaccines using this link:   https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php.

Eligible Sevier County residents can also call the pharmacy at (870) 642-2400 to schedule their vaccine

In addition, De Queen Health and Wellness has scheduled vaccine clinics next week for teachers in the Horatio and De Queen School Districts. The vaccine clinic for Horatio teachers will be held Monday, Jan. 18 from 4-7 p.m. De Queen teachers are able to receive their vaccines from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Both clinics will be hosted at the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy on 1357 Collin Raye Drive

Horatio and De Queen teachers who cannot make these clinics can still schedule a time to receive the vaccine by using the linked scheduler or by calling the pharmacy

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require an initial dose with a follow-up booster (three-to-four weeks later, depending on which vaccine is given.

De Queen Public Schools shares info on Valentine’s Day guidelines         01/18/2021

DE QUEEN – With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the administration at De Queen Public Schools is informing the community that this cherished holiday – like so many others – will have to be conducted differently this year in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

In a press release issued on Friday, the school district said it understands that Valentine’s Day brings a lot of excitement for De Queen students, families, and local businesses. And, while school officials say they understand that local florists and other businesses depend on the income generated with the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day, the health of our students and staff remains the top priority

The school has issued a number of guidelines and procedures for Valentine’s day deliveries. These policies are in place, the district states, to ensure a smooth and safe school day on Friday, Feb. 12.

Those guidelines include encouraging parents and guardians to deliver their Valentine Day gifts on Thursday, Feb. 11 from 3:30-5 p.m. District staff will be on hand to accept the deliveries during this time period and will then distribute them on Friday. Flower shops are also being asked to deliver flowers and gifts during this 3:30-5 p.m. time slot on Thursday, Feb. 11. No outside food will be accepted.

School officials expressed their gratitude for the continued patience and support from parents, the community and school staff during this difficult school year.

Ashdown Public Schools awarded over $5,000 through wildlife fines grant program       01/18/2021

ASHDOWN – The Arkansas Economic Development Commission Division of Rural Services has awarded grants totaling $536,401.58 to promote wildlife education and improve school conservation programs to 150 schools, school districts, and conservation districts in 65 Arkansas counties. That includes a sizable endowment to the Ashdown School District.

The grant program is funded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) through fines collected from hunting and fishing violations. Only money collected in the county where the violation occurred may be used as grant funds for that county.
In Little River County, Ashdown Junior High School is set to receive nearly $2,300 for its youth shooting sports program. Ashdown High School will receive the same for its senior level shooting sports program.

All schools in the state are eligible to participate in the program. The funding schools have received in previous years has helped create and maintain archery, fishing and competitive shooting sports programs. Schools also use the money to help improve wildlife education by purchasing educational materials, materials for the creation of indoor and outdoor habitats, lab supplies, and field trips to AGFC nature and education centers.

Despite there being $3,700 in grant money available in Sevier County, no eligible organizations submitted qualifying grants during the application period last fall.

Conservation districts use the funding to help promote wildlife conservation awareness in the communities by hosting environmental education days and fishing derbies for children of all ages.

Lockesburg City Council meeting tomorrow night     01/18/2021

LOCKESBURG – The City of Lockesburg has rescheduled its monthly council meeting to tomorrow, Jan. 19. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center. The meeting is open to the public and masks are required.

The meeting will include the official swearing in of Lockesburg’s elected city officials. The agenda includes a discussion with Janet Ballard about a possible public/private land swap. Other items include setting the date and time of future council meetings and continued discussion on needed repairs to the Lockesburg Fire Department.

City councilors will also discuss a water infrastructure project as well as hearing the bid on a new pyrotechnics company for the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration.

Rep. Vaught provides preview on 2021 legislative session     01/18/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught, whose district includes Sevier and Little River Counties, provided us an update on what Governor Asa Hutchinson’s legislative agenda will look like as the 2021 regular session kicks into gear.

Vaught said Hutchinson is asking the General Assembly to affirm the current health emergency order and direct federal COVID-19 relief funds for vaccine distribution.

In addition, his legislative agenda includes increasing teacher pay by $2,000 over the next two years. Other items include reducing the used car sales tax, reducing income taxes for new Arkansas residents, appropriating $30 million for increased broadband in rural areas and implementing a computer science requirement for high school graduation. Another item of note on the agenda is stricter sentencing for hate crimes committed in Arkansas.

Vaught reminds Arkansans that the House live streams all of its meetings on its website, www.arkansashouse.org. She added that guidelines have been posted for members of the public who wish to participate in the process at the Capitol.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     01/18/2021

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

Sevier County reported a net decrease of three active cases on Sunday, lowering the current total to 60. Recoveries grew to 2,178. Total cases increased by two to 2,261. Deaths remain at 23.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported no change in its active caseload, which remains at 60. Total cases grew by five to 956. Deaths remain at 39.

Active cases in Howard County decreased by six on Sunday and now total 48. Total cases grew to 1,248 while deaths remained at 19.

Polk County reported 10 fewer active cases yesterday, leaving 161 confirmed and probable active cases in Polk County. Total cases grew by six to 1,540. Deaths remain at 51.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported two fewer active cases on Sunday. Active cases in the county now number 279. Total cases grew by 17 to 3,271. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported 976 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, raising the statewide cumulative total of confirmed and probable cases to just over 271,000. Active cases of the virus fell by around 900 yesterday to number nearly 25,000 currently active cases. Deaths increased by 18 on Sunday for a statewide total of 4,311 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations decreased by 21 over the same period, leaving 1,271 Arkansans still hospitalized due to COVID-19

Felony charges filed against Little River County many for stabbing brother     01/15/2021

LITTLE RIVER – A felony charge has been filed against a man from Little River County who allegedly stabbed his brother after getting into an argument about spreading the Gospel.

Court records show 32-year-old Bryan Matthew Perkins is facing one count of first-degree battery from the incident, which occurred in December at his mother’s home on Little River 711. Prosecutors allege Perkins stabbed his brother multiple times with a knife. Perkins’ brother told police the incident occurred after an argument began over “the spread of Jesus Christ’s word.” The argument then turned physical, prosecutors allege, with Perkins’ brother sustaining cuts to his face, left arm and under his right armpit. In addition the brother suffered a collapsed lung due to a stab wound to his back.

Officers became involved after emergency personnel at St. Michael’s Hospital in Texarkana contacted authorities in Little River County. The victim reportedly told hospital staff the wounds were the result of a dog attack. Emergency personnel however determined the “lacerations and punctures were not from a dog and could only have been caused by a knife.”

Police then made contact with Perkins earlier this month and placed him in custody. He has been charged with first-degree battery which, if Perkins is convicted, could carry a sentence of 10 to 40 years in prison. Court records show Perkins is currently on probation for a 2018 assault conviction after an attack on his mother. A motion has been filed by Little River prosecutors to revoke Perkins’ probation.

Domtar announces divestment of personal care business     01/15/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Domtar Corp. announced last week its plans to sell off its nearly $1 billion personal care business in a move designed to help the company restructure following a difficult 2020.

Domtar stated in a news release it is selling the personal care business to American Industrial Partners for $920 million. Company officials said the majority of the sale’s proceeds will be used to service its debt with the remainder going towards repurchasing shares. The deal is expected to conclude sometime later this quarter. Domtar’s personal care products includes largely health-care supplies.

Domtar CEO John Williams said the sale is “an important component” of Domtar’s strategic plan and provides the company “with additional capital and resources to strengthen and invest in the future.”

The announcement follows a year of reduction and restructuring for the paper product manufacturer. The plant announced last April it would shutter its Tennessee-based production facility. In August, Domtar announced the permanent shutdown of the A62 paper machine at its Ashdown plant. The machine was idled earlier in 2020 due to financial upsets caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. At that time 142 employees were laid off. Those jobs were eliminated completely following the shutdown of the A62 paper machine.

DQ Schools recognize school board members during appreciation month     01/15/2021

Submitted by Beau McCastlain of De Queen Public Schools

DE QUEEN – The Arkansas School Boards Association (ASBA) announced that January is School Board Member Recognition Month in Arkansas. School board members play an essential role in the community. De Queen Schools will join other districts in Arkansas in celebration of the district’s board by thanking them for the time, talents, and knowledge they bring to the district and for their commitment to the families and children of the local community.

Jason Sanders, Superintendent of De Queen Schools, stated “ we are very fortunate to have such a quality school system here in De Queen. A major part of that success is the leadership of our Board of Directors. Our school board members are quality people, great communicators, and truly care about our kids.”

Sanders added “elected school board members give our Sevier County citizens a voice in education decision making. While we make a special effort to show our appreciation in January, their contribution is a year-round commitment.”

The members serving the De Queen School District are as follows:

Dr. Kenneth W. Martin, the eldest of three sons born to Colonel Ted and Marilyn Martin, was raised in Dumas. He grew up farming with the family operation that included fish, cotton, rice, and soybeans. He graduated from Dumas High School in 1989. He then attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello until being accepted into the Louisiana State University of Veterinary Medicine. After graduating with his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 1996, he worked as a veterinarian in Monticello. It was then that he married his wife Jennifer in 1997. In 1998, they purchased De Queen Animal Hospital and became busy members of the De Queen community. They have three children who have graduated from De Queen Public schools and one child still attending. Dr. Martin and his family are members of Memorial Missionary Baptist Church where they are involved with youth activities. They are also involved in 4-H Shooting Sports, livestock showing through 4-H and FFA, and youth sports.

Gloria Jean Caldwell is one of seven children of Robert and Emmer Bell. She was born and raised in De Queen and is a 1974 graduate of De Queen High School. She was in the first class to graduate from the Cossatot Community College, currently CCCUA, with a degree in Business. She has two daughters, Kyesten and Halley, who graduated from De Queen High School. Kyesten attained her BA in Psychology from Alabama A&amp;M University and Halley graduated with a Business Management degree at the University of Central Arkansas. Mrs. Caldwell is enjoying retirement after working for 37 years at De Queen and Eastern Railroad as Administrative Assistant and Payroll Manager. She became a member of the De Queen School Board in 2009. Learning the processes for operation and maintenance of our schools for the best educational opportunities for the students is a huge responsibility, and it is also very rewarding. It is by far one of the most rewarding positions in Sevier County. In Mrs. Caldwell’s spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, promoting education, and reading.

Sandy Huntsberger is a graduate of De Queen High School. After high school, Sandy attended and graduated with honors from Wadley School of Radiologic Technology, and the Dallas Institute of Ultrasonography.  Her early working career was spent in the medical profession as an American Registered Radiologic Technologist (ARRT) in radiology, CT, Ultrasound, and MRI at St. Michael’s Hospital in Texarkana.  She retired from the medical profession in 1996 after the death of her first husband so that she could devote her time to raising her girls in De Queen. Sandy has been a very active supporter of the De Queen School Systems since her oldest daughter started Kindergarten in 1994. Since that day, she has volunteered countless hours to serving this school district in every capacity imaginable.  She was elected as a Board Member and has dedicated the past 24 years of service in that capacity, as well as gaining recognition as a Master Board member through consistent involvement in Continuing Education for Board members and leadership growth. Mr. Huntsberger is the owner of Southern Home Furniture in De Queen. She has two daughters, Callie Miller, 30 years old, a graduate of DHS and Ouachita Baptist University with a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Morgan Miller, 26 years old, a DHS graduate who graduated from UALR and UAMS with a Masters in Speech-Language Pathology.

Felix “Skip” Bell was born and raised in Lockesburg. He graduated from Lockesburg High School in 1973. He attended Southern Arkansas University after high school, and then graduated from Texarkana Community College in 1980 with an associate’s degree in nursing. He has been married for 42 years to his wife, Barbara. He has two daughters, Kendra (38 years old) and Kimberly (31 years old), and one son, Colton (26 years old). He is presently employed at Howard Memorial Hospital. He is active at Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church in Lockesburg. He serves on both the Sevier County Museum board and the city park committee at Lockesburg. Mr. Bell has been a member of the De Queen School board since 1995 and recently began serving on the new Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.

Barry Reed was appointed to the Board as the Zone 5 representative in November 2019 to serve the remainder of the term of a member who resigned and was elected to a full-term in March 2020. He has lived in De Queen since 2005 and has been employed at UA Cossatot since 2006. Mr. Reed is currently the director of UACCC’s Ashdown and Lockesburg campuses. He has three sons, two of which are current students at De Queen Public Schools, and his oldest is a 2020 honor graduate of DHS. Mr. Reed enjoys outdoor activities, sporting events, coaching youth sports, and researching historical events. He has served as a youth sports coach in local programs since 2006 and also served on the board of the Sevier County Youth Baseball Association from 2010 to 2020. Mr. Reed is currently serving as a board member of the De Queen Athletic Booster Club and is an active member of the De Queen Church of Christ. Prior to moving to De Queen, Mr. Reed taught junior high and senior high Social Studies in the Russellville School District and was also a 1997 graduate of Russellville High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History Education from Arkansas Tech University (2001) as well as a master’s degree in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas (2019). Mr. Reed states “it truly is an honor to serve on the board and have an opportunity to support the District’s top-notch faculty, staff, and administrators as they provide a rigorous, meaningful education to our children that will equip them to be successful productive citizens.”

Spanish-language business seminar scheduled for local      01/15/2021

DE QUEEN – State and local organizations of Arkansas have teamed up to provide information and resources for Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs in the natural state this month.

The “Starting a Business in Arkansas” workshop will be held virtually on Thursday, Jan. 28 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and this event will be delivered in Spanish.Information presented will include legal requirements, licensing, key issues for success in small businesses and more.

This workshop is free of charge and is being sponsored by the CREATE BRIDGES group, the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Small Business Technology Development Center(ASBTDC), U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) and Henderson State University School of Business.

For more information, call 870-230-5184.

Birding among many outdoor opportunities available at Pond Creek NWR     01/15/2021

POND CREEK – National wildlife refuges, or NWRs, belong to the people and are entrusted to those who work for the U.S. Fish &amp; Wildlife Service to manage for the benefit of wildlife. There are 10 NWRs across Arkansas and they are great spots for outdoor endeavors like birding. Three of them – Felsenthal, Overflow and Pond Creek NWR here in Sevier County – are under the reins of the South Arkansas Refuges Complex.

Most national wildlife refuges focus on providing more opportunities for activities other than hunting. Wildlife observation, photography and hiking, for example: they also protect and manage critical habitats for birds. Birding on refuges encourages participants to become aware of the needs and challenges birds face. Refuge paths and trails can lead to a greater understanding of conservation and restoration efforts, not to mention that you’re outside with nature.

Birding is a popular activity at Pond Creek and Overflow NWRs. Located in an area where the Central and Mississippi flyways overlap, Pond Creek NWR is a bottomland, wetland ecosystem that lies between Ashdown and De Queen.

Pond Creek NWR provides its own distinct birding and wildlife observation opportunities, but as with Felsenthal, birders should be aware of the hunting season beginning September 1 and continuing until the end of January.

Many of the refuges across the nation, and especially in Arkansas, were established due to the sale of duck stamps. “Around 98 cents of every duck stamp dollar goes directly to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to purchase wildlife habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

New economic development group announced, public meeting set for February     01/15/2021

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

DE QUEEN – Economic development officials in Sevier County are announcing a new foundation with the goal of benefiting the county and its economic environment.

Sevier County Economic Development Director Tiffany Maurer announced the new foundation in a press release issued this week. The foundation is titled FRIENDS, and it recently became an official 501 (c) (3) with the IRS allowing donors to receive tax credits. This foundation aims for funds to be raised from donations to assist Sevier County and its residents in cultivating and completing economic development projects and activities.

FRIENDS stands for Funding Retention and Increasing Efforts for Notable Economic Development in Sevier County. It was created last year with citizens of Sevier County in mind. Anyone who donates a minimum of $100 automatically becomes a member of the FRIENDS Foundation and with the stated mission that raised funds will help Sevier County grow financially. In addition, organizers say the organization will provide the Sevier County Economic Development department with the opportunity to receive money for business development, training, advertising, and assistance with projects to benefit the local area. Maurer said the foundation will look for projects within opportunity zones while also keeping site selection, business retention, and training efforts in mind to help with business development.

The annual FRIENDS Foundation meeting for 2021 will take place at the Herman Dierks Park Community Building in De Queen on Friday, February 5, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. The meeting is open to the public.

Topics to be discussed at the meeting will include future projects, funding progress toward the annual budget, and potential projects to establish the Sevier County Opportunity Zone Investment Fund. Masks will be required, and social distancing will be encouraged.

For questions on becoming a FRIENDS member or to RSVP for the FRIENDS Foundation’s annual meeting, contact Sevier County Economic Development Director Tiffany Maurer at <a href=”mailto:tmaurer@cccua.edu”>tmaurer@cccua.edu</a> or 870-584-1184.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     01/15/2021

DE QUEEN – THere are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported a net decrease of 11 active cases yesterday, lowering the current total to 62. Total cases increased by three to 2,225. Deaths remain at 23.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported nine fewer active cases yesterday. That figure now numbers 55 currently confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total cases grew by two to 924. Deaths remain at 39.

One additional death was reported in Howard County yesterday, raising the toll from COVID-19 to 19 since the pandemic began. Active positive cases remained unchanged at 47 while total cases grew by two to 1,217.

Polk County reported 20 additional active cases yesterday, raising the current total to 164. Total cases increased by 38 to 1,502. Deaths remain at 50.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 18 fewer active cases on Thursday. Active cases in the county now number 278. Total cases grew by 15 to 3,221. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported nearly 2,500 new cases yesterday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to just over 264,000 since the pandemic began. Active positives in Arkansas decreased by 355 and currently number 24,740 confirmed and probable active cases. Deaths increased by 42 on Thursday for a statewide total of 4,228. Hospitalizations decreased significantly yesterday, falling by 67 to leave 1,295 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

De Queen Schools to continue emergency sick leave for teachers       01/14/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Teachers at De Queen Public Schools will continue to have a pool of additional sick days available for COVID-19 related isolation or quarantine, according to district officials.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district was extending its policy of providing 20 days of emergency paid sick leave to teachers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or forced to quarantine due to potential exposure to the virus. The policy is in place so teachers are not forced to rely on their accumulated sick leave if quarantine or isolation is necessary.

The emergency sick leave for teachers was implemented last year and funded through federal money received through the initial CARES Act relief bill. The Arkansas Department of Education reimbursed school districts in the state but announced earlier this month those funds were depleted. State education officials encouraged school districts to continue their emergency sick leave policies but without assurance of state reimbursement.

Sanders said the De Queen School District will use local funds to assure its emergency sick leave policy remains in place for teachers. He added that it’s vital for teacher morale and a successfully functioning teaching environment for teachers not to be forced to take their own accumulated sick leave in the event they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or required to quarantine. In effect, Sanders said teachers should not be punished for doing the right thing.

Sanders said the district’s policy for the rest of the school year includes 20 days of emergency sick leave for each teacher. That could be extended, Sanders added, if circumstances warrant additional time.

The De Queen School District is set to receive some portion of the $500 million in education funds through the latest federal CARES Act relief bill. What that will amount to, Sanders is unsure at this time. But, he said the option is out there for the school to use that money to reimburse its emergency sick leave fund.

Sanders said, either through federal money or with local funds, the emergency sick leave will remain available to all teachers in the De Queen School District through at least the end of the school year.

Arkansas turkey hunting application period begins      01/14/2021

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will accept applications Jan. 15-Feb. 15 from hunters who want to hunt on many wildlife management areas during the 2021 Arkansas turkey season.

Many good public turkey-hunting opportunities exist, particularly on the large cooperative WMAs owned by the U.S. Forest Service. However, turkeys and turkey hunters need room to spread out, which can lead to conflicts between hunters on some smaller WMAs. To increase the quality of the hunt on some of the most popular public areas, the AGFC restricts the number of hunters allowed during turkey season through random drawings.

Only permit holders may hunt on the WMA during the permit hunt.

However, a permit holder can have a friend alongside them to call for them. Friends and family may camp with permit holders at designated campsites on the WMA as well.

Applications are taken electronically through www.agfc.com, and winning applicants will be notified via email. Applications require a $5 nonrefundable processing fee. Winning applicants are not required to pay any additional fees beyond the purchase of their hunting license.
Visit <u><a href=”https://www.agfc.com/en/hunting/turkey/turkeypermits”>www.agfc.com</a></u> to view a list of available permits.

City of Dierks approves 2021 budget, two-percent pay    01/14/2021

DIERKS – The Dierks city budget for 2021 was approved Monday night during the first council meeting of the year. Revenue from general fund items will total more than $739,000 dollars.

Numbers from other departments within the city include $28,000 dollars in the Park fund, $49,723 dollars in the Fire Department fund, and almost $106,000 dollars of revenue is expected for the Dierks street fund. Expenses for each department will equal the revenue amounts.
The budget includes a two percent pay increase for employees. There was also discussion about getting bids on a new police vehicle. A pickup used for the department is beginning to have minor repairs needed and council members want to work toward purchasing a new unit.
Monday’s meeting included an executive session to discuss a personnel matter. Upon returning to the open meeting, aldermen voted move water, street and sanitation employee Brett Muse from an hourly employee to a salaried exempt status, with a salary set at $45,000 dollars.

Today is last day for comment period on Albert Pike Park       01/14/2021

LANGLEY – Officials with the Ouachita National Forest say today is the last day for the public comment period regarding the future of the Albert Pike Recreation Area, located in Langley. The 30-day extended period will enable the public to review the Ouachita National Forest’s proposed long-term management and use of the recreation area.

The Ouachita National Forest proposes to improve day use opportunities which includes general maintenance, adding more parking, providing alternative bathroom facilities, increasing signage and improving the swim beach. Overnight use below the 100-year flood elevation would not be permitted anywhere in the Albert Pike Recreation Area. The park has been closed and unmaintained since 2010, when a devastating 500-year flood swept through the park and tragically killed 20 people.

The proposed action can be found on the project’s webpage at www.fs.usda.gov/project. All comments must be in writing and submitted through formal channels.

Information regarding second round of stimulus payments     01/14/2021

The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury Department have begun delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP), or stimulus payments, as a part of the CARES Act of 2021 to millions of Americans who received the first round of payments in 2020.  The IRS began sending the initial round of payments in late December 2020 by direct deposit and by mailing checks or debits cards. Arkansans who received a paper check or debit card in the first round of stimulus payments in 2020 could expect to receive a check or debit card this time also. It’s a welcome development given many Arkansans are in dire need of this stimulus payment. But state law enforcement officials want to make sure Arkansans know the mailed checks and debit cards are not a scam. They urge recipients not to throw away a white envelope with the U.S. Department of Treasury seal without opening it.

The card will be sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal. Most individuals will receive $600 and $1,200 for married couples filing a joint return and $600 for each qualifying child.

Couples filing jointly with just one member of the couple with a work-eligible Social Security Number will now be eligible for payments for the taxpayers and their qualifying children.

The IRS says people do not need to take any action right now to receive their stimulus payment. Eligible individuals who do not receive their payment or who did not receive their first stimulus payment can claim it when they file their 2020 tax return this year. People who do not normally file tax returns should also file a 2020 tax return if they do not receive their stimulus payment.

Stimulus payments that are received in December 2020 or January 2021 by direct deposit will be automatically protected from garnishment by debt collectors. That is not true of payments that are claimed on the 2020 tax return and paid later in the year as part of the regular tax refund.

Payments are being issued based on information the IRS already has on file, people will not be able to add new bank account information or request to receive their payment by EIP Card.

Arkansas deer season sets new record     01/14/2021

With more than a month left in Arkansas’s archery deer season, hunters have checked over 214,000 deer during the 2020-21 deer hunting season. That’s more deer than any season since the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began keeping harvest records in 1938.

The previous record harvest was 213,487 deer, set in the 2012-13 season. With the exception of last year, Arkansas hunters have harvested more than 200,000 deer annually since that season as well. During the 2019-20 deer hunting season the harvest dipped to 188,151.

According to license sales numbers from the last five years, this year is the first in many when hunter numbers did not decline. In fact, this year’s resident and nonresident hunting license numbers are very similar to those recorded in 2018, but still are far below the numbers seen during the record-setting year nearly a decade ago.

AGFC officials point out that this season’s increase in hunting licenses might be because of COVID-19 and people finding new ways to spend their time in an outdoor setting. But the record-breaking year is not solely the result of new hunters joining the ranks.

COVID-19 also may have influenced hunters’ mindsets toward the number of deer they harvested. The pandemic caused many meat shortages throughout the nation last year, which may have increased people’s view of venison as a healthy and sustainable alternative to beef and pork.

Things have come a long way since Arkansas’s first recorded deer harvest in 1938. That year, hunters checked only 203 deer, statewide. More than 20 years later, the deer harvest broke the 10,000-deer mark, and hunters did not reach a 100,000-deer season in Arkansas until 1987.

Hunters and wildlife enthusiasts interested in learning more about white-tailed deer harvest records and scientific management of the species in Arkansas can find historical deer harvest reports and the AGFC’s Strategic Deer Management Plan at<u> www.agfc.com</u>

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       01/14/2021

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

Sevier County reported a net increase of six active cases yesterday, raising the current total to 73. Total cases increased by 18 to 2,222. Deaths remain at 23.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported six fewer active cases yesterday. That figure now numbers 64 currently confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total cases grew by nine to 922. Deaths remain at 39.

Active cases in Howard County decreased by three to 47. Total cases increased by nine to 1,215. Deaths remain at 18.

Polk County reported seven fewer active cases yesterday. Active cases in the county now number 144. Total cases grew by 12 to 1,464. Deaths increased by one over the 24-hour period and now total 50 since the pandemic began.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 14 fewer active cases on Wednesday. Active cases in the county now number 296. Total cases grew by 15 to 3,206. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported nearly 2,500 new cases yesterday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to just over 262,000 since the pandemic began. Active positives in Arkansas decreased by 607 and currently number 25,000 confirmed and probable active cases. Deaths increased by 65 on Wednesday for a statewide total of 4,186. Hospitalizations increased by eight on Wednesday to 1,362 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

De Queen School Board approves nearly $1M for stadium renovation     01/13/2021

The full audio story is available here

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

DE QUEEN – Some much-needed renovations and repairs will be coming to Leopard Stadium after a vote of approval by the De Queen School Board Monday night.

The board voted unanimously 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.</div>

Sanders said the project will be funded internally through money remaining from the construction fund for the new high school. Work will be 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.

In other business, the school board approved an expenditure of nearly $36,000 for a number of new security cameras around the district. Sanders said these cameras would be placed in locations where cameras do not currently exist or where more coverage is needed.

During his superintendent’s report Sanders stated district enrollment coming into 2021 is 2,319. Of those around 20 percent are enrolled in the district’s virtual learning option. He also informed board members that the district’s FCCLA chapter had received a grant totaling $60,000. In addition the district is set to receive some portion of the $500 million allotted for Arkansas in the most recent federal COVID-19 relief bill. At this point the district is unsure how much that will total but is expected to be larger than the district’s last allotment. Sanders said a significant portion of the funds will be used to purchase more technology for the district

In personnel matters, the board rescinded the resignations of Summer Estrada and Amy Mills after both decided to stay with the district. Board members also approved a number of school transfers as well as a student expulsion.

Other routine financial and administrative matters were also discussed and approved

Sanders did say the district was thankful to its students, parents, faculty and staff who have been both patient and understanding during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the changes it made necessary. He added that with their assistance the district is hopeful for a successful conclusion to the school year.

The De Queen School Board is scheduled to meet again on Feb. 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the high school library.

Noel Bard named CEO of First State Bank of De Queen          01/13/2021

The full audio story is available here:</div>

The partial transcript is featured below

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News

New CEO – Noel Bard was recently named the new CEO of First State Bank of De Queen. A Gillham native, Bard is taking the position after the former FSB President Gary Golden passed away last year. Bard said he plans to continue the bank’s role as a community-based institution with an emphasis on agriculture lending.

First State Bank of De Queen recently named its newest president and he’s likely to be a familiar face to many in the community

Noel Bard officially took over as the bank’s chief executive officer last year. He replaces the long-serving bank president Gary Golden, who passed away in September. A native of Gillham, Bard has been a member of the First State Bank team since 1991. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas where he achieved his degree in public administration and received his master’s in banking from LSU. Before taking the position as CEO, Bard served as a vice-president of First State Bank

This November will mark Bard’s 30th year with First State Bank. That kind of longevity is not common these days and not seen often in the banking sector. But, Bard has seen the vital role a locally-owned, community bank like First State Bank serves. It’s that role that has kept Bard with First State Bank for nearly three decades

That local control has allowed First State Bank to take chances helping customers where larger, more centralized banks perhaps couldn’t due to stricter regulations

Bard also recognized the commitment the bank has long held towards its employees. That’s reflected in the number of employees with at least 25 years of service at the bank, including he added Barbara Kitchens, who has been with the bank for 37 years

Throughout his time at First State Bank Bard has seen the institution grow to include several locations across the region. In fact, the bank is preparing to open a new branch in Glenwood this month. The bank’s assets have also grown tremendously over the years, from around $40 million when he first started to $300 million today. He also worked alongside Gary Golden to shift First State Bank to an agricultural lender – a vital shift, Bard added, given agriculture comprises over 70 percent of Sevier County’s economy

Bard said one of his goals for the bank’s future is to incorporate more technology and tailor more to online banking services

For young people considering finance as a future career, Bard has some advice given increasing technology and the changing nature of banking.

Outside of his career in banking, Bard is also well-known as the long-time treasurer of the De Queen Lions Club. In fact, it’s a position he’s held since 1985. He’s been named the club’s Lion of the Year on three separate occasions. He also serves as the treasurer of the Gillham Alumni Association.

But his passion continues to be community banking. To the bank’s old customers, as well as to its future new ones, Bard said First State Bank’s commitment remains the same as ever.

Arkansas teachers set to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines next week     01/13/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

State officials say Arkansas teachers and residents aged 70 or older will begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations starting next week

During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the next phase of vaccinations would begin Jan. 18. This phase, titled 1-B, includes Arkansans aged 70 or older as well as those employed in education across the state. Hutchinson said school districts, colleges and universities would need to determine the number of doses they need and then collaborate with the Arkansas Department of Health to set up vaccination clinics.

Elderly Arkansans included in Phase 1-B would need to contact their local pharmacy and set up an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. In Sevier County, the participating pharmacy is the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy. A full list of participating pharmacies can be found on the Department of Health’s website at healthy.arkansas.gov.

Hutchinson said the next phase is proceeding earlier than planned due to the efficiency of the Phase 1-A rollout which focused on healthcare workers, nursing home residents and first responders.

So far the state has received over 227,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Of those, nearly 89,000 doses have been administered, or about 39 percent of those received thus far. That figure also amounts to around three percent of the entire population of Arkansas.

Hutchinson said the state hopes to increase not just the rate at which the state receives vaccine doses, but also the rate at which they’re administered.

Hutchinson also defended the state’s decision to use Phase 1-B to focus on Arkansans aged 70 and older. He said increasing the age limit would help prevent the vaccine rollout from becoming overwhelmed in its early stages. Also, those in the 70 and up category have been in the most vulnerable category when it comes to this potentially deadly virus.

Finally, Hutchinson provided an update to the statewide COVID-19 figures. On Tuesday, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 3,209 cases of the virus. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to over 259,000 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by 40 on Tuesday for a total of 4,121. Over the same period active cases declined but remain at nearly 26,000. Hospitalizations fell by 17, leaving 1,354 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. COVID-19 tests administered so far this month now number around 143,000.

County clerk shares information on May school board elections in Sevier County     01/13/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Clerk’s Office is sharing information in relation to this year’s upcoming school election.

There are several school board positions to be elected in 2021, including Zone 1 in the Horatio School District currently held by Joe Jones. This year’s election also includes Zone 4 in the Horatio School District – held by Sherri Hodges – and Zone 3 in the De Queen School District, currently held by Gloria Caldwell.

The petition process is currently open. Petitions are required to have at least 20 signatures but extras are recommended. Other filing requirements include an affidavit of eligibility and a political practices pledge.

The filing dates for School Board Candidates begins Monday, Feb. 22 at 12 noon and ends at 12 noon on March 1.

The last day to register to vote in the May School Elections will be April 19. Address or name changes to a voter’s existing registration must be updated prior to election day. Identification will be required from all voters during the election. Early voting begins the week before the election on Tuesday, May 18.

Anyone interested in being an election worker in the upcoming election should contact the county clerk’s office at 642-2852. County Clerk Debbie Akin invites anyone with questions to call her office at that number.

Blood drive in De Queen this Saturday       01/13/2021

DE QUEEN – LifeShare Blood Center will host another blood drive in De Queen this Saturday, Jan. 16. The mobile blood drive will be held outside of the De Queen Walmart store from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Blood supplies in the area remain critically low so all donors are greatly welcomed.

SCSO releases December activity report       01/13/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Sheriffs Office has released its update detailing activities for the month of December:

Deputies clocked a total of 2,183 hours on duty during the month.

Total miles driven by deputies were over 20,000 with 1,294 gallons of fuel used.

Deputies received a total of 149 calls, including 12 motor vehicle accidents, 103 traffic stops, 10 citations, 95 warnings and nine arrests.

A total of 14 civil papers were served. 703 building checks were made throughout the month.

Investigators opened two sexual assault cases and closed a theft case while recovering the stolen property.

The sheriff’s office advises that the number of arrests does not reflect the number of warrants served for the month, of which there were numerous. The numberof arrests comes from deputies performing traffic stops or working thefts, burglaries and other reported crimes.

Investigators worked one sexual assault case in December, of which an arrest is pending. A forgery case was solved as well as arrests made in an arson case, three thefts and one aggravated residential burglary. Investigators recovered several guns, a boat, saddles, generators, tools and a computer during theft investigations in December.

Government offices closed Jan. 18 for MLK, Jr. Day     01/13/2021

DE QUEEN – Government offices will be closed next Monday, Jan. 18 in commemoration of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. That includes the Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill. Both will reopen with normal operating hours on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
De Queen, Lockesburg, Horatio and Gillham City Halls will also be closed on Jan. 18 in recognition of the holiday.

Sevier County libraries return to curbside-only service due to COVID      01/13/2021

DE QUEEN – Rising COVID-19 cases in Sevier County and across the state have prompted all libraries in Sevier County to return to curbside only service. This means public access to the building while not be permitted for the time being.

Curbside only services began this week. Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher said this change will affect all four libraries in Sevier County. She added that the library system unsure at this time how long the library lobbies will be closed.

In addition, she asked that no donations be made to the library at this time and instead be held on to until a later day. Fisher said all four libraries in Sevier County will continue to provide copies, faxes and notary services. This is in addition to allowing patrons to check in and out library materials through the libraries’ dropboxes.

For more information contact your local library.


ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       01/13/2021

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

Sevier County reported a net increase of four active cases on Tuesday, raising the current total to 67. Total cases increased by 21 to 2,204. Deaths remain at 23.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported one additional active case yesterday. That figure now numbers 70 currently confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total cases grew by 12 to 913. Deaths remain at 39.

Active cases in Howard County remained unchanged at 50. Total cases increased by 10 to 1,116. Deaths remain at 18.

Polk County reported four fewer active cases yesterday. Active cases in the county now number 151. Total cases grew by 10 to 1,452. Deaths remain at 49.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 39 fewer active cases on Tuesday. Active cases in the county now number 310. Total cases grew by one to 3,191. Deaths remain at 57.

Peterson sentenced in to federal prison for human trafficking and adoption scheme   01/13/2021

Tuesday was a day of healing for a group of Marshallese women who had become victims in De Queen as part of a nationwide human trafficking and adoption scheme.

That scheme has received nationwide media attention in recent days and weeks as the case against Paul Petersen comes to a close. Petersen, who is a former public official in Arizona, pleaded guilty in the summer to a federal human trafficking conspiracy charge. Numerous other charges, including wire fraud, Medicaid fraud, money laundering and 19 human trafficking charges specific to Arkansas, were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. He is facing a host of other charges, however, in three states including Arkansas

The charges all relate to an adoption scheme Petersen had orchestrated for years. 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. In compensation the women were told they would receive $10,000. 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 last year. 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,” with numerous pregnant women sleeping on mattresses on the floor. As many as 10 pregnant women were kept in a home in De Queen at any given time. This occurred over a period of nearly 10 years, according to Michaela Montie. Montie is co-founder and executive director of Shared Beginnings, an Arkansas-based non-profit with advocates for birth mothers who wish to place their child for adoption.

Officially what Petersen committed was human trafficking, but in many ways resembled imprisonment. If not in theory then almost certainly in practice. The women were isolated in De Queen, unable to speak the language or communicate their situation to anyone who could help. The women’s movements and communications were heavily restricted.

As an adoptive mother herself and as a person familiar with the Marshallese community in Arkansas, Montie has taken on a critical role in healing the wounds created by Petersen. She was not part of the investigation against him but began to pick up the pieces after Petersen’s adoption scheme imploded.

What she learned after Petersen’s case came to light shocked her. The situation pregnant Marshallese mothers faced when they arrived was not what they were told.

Instead, in many cases they found themselves trapped in squalid homes and in living conditions which Montie said hardly any American would tolerate. She knew Shared Beginnings would be well-positioned to help. Not just the mothers involved, but also the adoptive parents financially and emotionally devastated by Petersen’s illegal adoption service.

Helping some of these Marshallese women overcome their experiences is what lead Montie and a small group of victims to De Queen on Tuesday. By visiting the home where they were confined, perhaps these women could find some closure.

The future for these women is an uncertain one to map out. Some may choose to return to the Marshall Islands. Others may choose to stay in the United States. Although they were brought here through an illegal conspiracy, these women like other Marshallese people have the legal right to live and work in the United States. To understand why, Montie said it’s critical to recall the controversial history between the United States and the Marshall Islands.

After conquering the Marshall Islands from the Japanese Empire during the Second World War, the United States used the islands – and specifically Bikini Atoll – as the main site of the Pacific Proving Grounds. That is, the testing site for the first generation of America’s atomic weapons during the Cold War. The testing areas were left uninhabitable due to the high level of radiation left behind by the bomb explosions. In response the United States and Republic of the Marshall Islands signed the Compact of Free Association. This agreement allows residents of the Marshall Islands to reside in the United States with nothing more than a passport and a plane ticket.

But that compact doesn’t include all the rights of a citizen or even a permanent U.S. resident. The future of these women, victims of human trafficking, isn’t going to be easy. Or even certain. But confronting the terrible experience they were forced to endure will go a long way towards closing this chapter and starting a new one – and finding some healing in the process.

A final note to this story: Petersen was sentenced yesterday to six years and two months in a federal prison for the illegal adoption service he organized. He could face additional time if found guilty on state charges once completing his federal sentence. Before his sentencing, Petersen read a prepared statement expressing remorse that some Marshallese women he worked with may have felt that he took advantage of them for his own profit.

Felony charges brought against Foreman man accused in shooting     01/12/2021

FOREMAN – Charges have been filed against a Foreman man accused of shooting up a home and another man inside during an incident last month.

According to court records, 25-year-old Tyler Humphrey has been charged with first-degree battery as well as possession of a firearm by a felon. In addition to those two felony charges prosecutors have also charged Humphrey with committing a terroristic act.

The changes stem from an altercation on Dec. 22 during which police say Humphrey shot numerous rounds into a home on Highway 108 in Foreman. Deputies arrived after receiving a call in relation to the shooting and found another 25-year-old man who had sustained several gunshot wounds.

Officials with the sheriff’s office said the victim identified the shooter as Humphrey. Humphrey reportedly shot up the home and suspect from outside the residence. The victim was flown by Air Evac to a Texarkana hospital where he was treated for his injuries. The man is reportedly in stable condition.

Humphrey was located by deputies soon thereafter and taken into custody.

Authorities say the victim’s three-year-old daughter was inside the home when the shooting occurred.

Humphrey is awaiting his next court appearance in the Little River County Jail on a $75,000 bond. The first-degree battery offense as well as possession of a firearm by a felon each carries a sentence of five to 20 years in prison in addition to a fine up to $15,000.

Millwood Fishing Challenge begins Feb. 1, 2021     01/12/2021

MILLWOOD LAKE – The Little River County Chamber of Commerce in Ashdown has announced it will kick off the first ever Millwood Fishing Challenge starting next month.

The challenge will take place on Millwood Lake near Ashdown and will begin at 6 a.m. February 1. The challenge will end 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 will all be wearing 2021 yellow tags and will be released into Millwood Lake just prior to the challenge start date.

​​The challenge provides anglers the opportunity to catch yellow-tagged fish that can be redeemed for cash prizes.

The yellow tags will 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 fish will be tagged by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and released into Millwood Lake. No one will know the exact location of the release points except certain organizers.

The prize fish include bass, catfish (of any kind) and crappie. ONLY bream will be tagged for the youth angler challenge. All tagged fish will be have to be checked-in alive and with their yellow tag in place. No commercial fishing equipment is allowed and, obviously, all state laws and regulations must be followed. No guided fishing trips are allowed to participate in this event.

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 young anglers weekend will be held in April.

Visit the Little River County Chamber of Commerce online at www.ashdownarkansas.org/millwoodfishingchallenge for more details.

All Arkansas public schools now providing free breakfast, lunch     01/12/2021

DE QUEEN – All children in Arkansas are now able to receive school meals at absolutely no cost, regardless of their parents’ income status.

The USDA announced last year it was waiving exemptions for the nationwide free meal program and expanding it to include all K-12 students. That exemption has now been extended throughout the rest of the remaining school year.
The exemption is designed to ease hardships caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and provide parents with one less concern during the school year.

All students in De Queen, Horatio, Ashdown, Dierks and other area schools will now be provided free meals throughout the current semester. The exemption ends at the start of the Summer Break, unless it is further extended. The program is no longer based on income guidelines.
Officials with Horatio and De Queen schools stressed that virtual students are also eligible for free meals. These can be picked up from the district and taken home.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said this is a great move to help students in his district. He added that, effective immediately, all 2,300 students in the De Queen School District are eligible for a 100 percent free breakfast and lunch each day.
Sanders said the waiver allows families to have one less thing to worry about and allow them to focus more on their child’s education.

Arkansans asked to participate in feral hog survey     01/12/2021

Arkansans are being asked to participate in the Arkansas Feral Swine Survey to determine the extent of the feral hog problem in the Natural State.

The survey is being hosted by the Arkansas Corn and Grain Promotion Board and can be completed in less than five minutes.

After completing the survey, organizers are asking participants to help by sharing the link with other individuals in the Arkansas agricultural community. The survey is completely voluntary and no personal information is collected in the survey. Refusing to participate will not adversely affect any other relationship with the University of Arkansas.

The survey can be found at https://uark.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3Rder0gQKqIURAF

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     01/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Turning now to 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 Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported 14 fewer active cases on Monday, dropping the current total to 63. Total cases increased by four to 2,183. Deaths remain at 23.In neighboring counties, Little River reported 10 fewer active cases yesterday. That figure now numbers 69 currently confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total cases grew slightly, rising by two to 901. Deaths remain at 39.

Active cases in Howard County fell by 9 on Monday and now number 50. Total cases increased by two to 1,106. Deaths remain at 18.

Polk County reported 15 fewer active cases yesterday. Active cases in the county now number 155. Total cases grew by three to 1,442. Deaths remain at 49.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported two additional active cases on Monday. Active cases in the county now number 349. Total cases grew by 19 to 3,190. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported 1,268 new cases of the virus on Monday. The state’s cumulative total of confirmed and probable cases now numbers over 256,000. Active cases decreased by nearly 2,000 and now total 25,534 across the state. Deaths increased by 38 over the previous 24-hour period to 4,081. Hospitalizations increased by 31 to 1,371 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Little River County Extension Service offering PAT classes        01/12/2021

FOREMAN – The Little River County Extension Office will host a Private Applicator Training session for Pesticides and Herbicides on Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Foreman Ag Building. Sessions are also scheduled for Jan. 25 at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Ashdown. A final session is scheduled for Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Foreman Ag Building.

Pre-registration is required for all classes. Each class will be limited to the first eight to register. Masks are required.

Contact Roxie at (870) 898-7224 or by email at jrones@uaex.edu

Little River County man charged with arson     01/11/2021

ASHDOWN – A Little River County man is facing an arson charge stemming from a domestic incident reported late last month.

According to the Little River County Sheriff’s Office, deputies and firefighters were dispatched to a house fire at 169 Yarb Avenue on the night of Dec. 29. Upon arriving deputies spoke to the home’s resident who stated she and her ex-husband had got into an argument that night. She alleged that her ex-husband grabbed a handful of fireworks as he was leaving, lit them and then threw them through a bedroom window.

The house then caught on fire. The victim went to a neighbor’s house and contacted police and firefighters. Authorities say the suspect, identified as 30-year-old Chandler Turner, fled the scene. He was located soon after at this home in Ashdown and taken into custody. Court records state Turner admitted to setting the house on fire but accidentally.

Turner is now awaiting his next court appearance in the Little River County Jail. He faces one count of arson, a class A felony which can include a sentence of six to 30 years imprisonment in addition to a fine up to $15,000. Turner’s bond has not yet been set.

Hospital board discusses plans for 2021, dispels employment rumor     01/11/2021

The full audio story is available here:

Sevier County librarians honor one of their own with memorial bench  12/30/2020
The full audio story is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Sevier County Librarians pose next to a memorial bench installed at the De Queen Library in memory of Annette Eastwood. Eastwood served as a librarian in De Queen for three decades. A ceremony was held with family and friends yesterday to dedicate the bench and honor Eastwood’s legacy to the library system.

Friends and family members of one of Sevier County’s longest-serving librarians gathered yesterday to commemorate her service to the community with a new memorial

Annette Eastwood worked as a librarian in De Queen for 30 years and was known by everyone who frequented the De Queen Library. She passed away in August of this year. Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher said friends and family members wanted to do something to memorialize Eastwood and her commitment to the library. So they pitched in and raised money to install a memorial bench on the east side of the De Queen Library.

Family, friends and fellow librarians gathered yesterday at the De Queen Library for a ceremony to unveil the memorial bench and highlight Eastwood’s legacy to the library. Fisher also discussed a book currently available at the library which focuses on the history of the library system in Sevier County.

Adriana Hogg, a teacher at Dierks High School and Eastwood’s granddaughter, said the memorial bench and yesterday’s ceremony was a touching remembrance for her grandmother.

Hogg said Eastwood was a tremendous believer of the importance of libraries in a community. She was an avid reader and tried to share that passion with everyone who entered the doors of the De Queen Library.

Fisher invites everyone to come out and see the memorial bench, located on the east side of the library. She also reminds the public that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the library remains open and continues to offer all of its usual services.

The De Queen Library is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday.

Gov. Hutchinson extends public emergency status in Arkansas over COVID-19    12/30/2020

The full audio story is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below: By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The public health emergency governing Arkansas’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended for an additional 60 days. That was the announcement made by Gov. Asa Hutchinson during his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update Tuesday afternoon. The emergency status was scheduled to expire Dec. 30 but will now continue through the end of February.

Hutchinson also reported another grim milestone during his update with a new record one-day growth in coronavirus-related deaths. That figure hit 66 on Tuesday for a statewide total of 3,603 since the pandemic began. New cases also hit one of their highest one-day increases with an additional 2,718 reported on Tuesday. The state’s cumulative total of confirmed and active cases is now over 219,000. Hospitalizations rose slightly by six to 1,161 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Hutchinson then launched into an update regarding COVID-19 vaccines in Arkansas. He said nearly half of the Pfizer vaccine doses received by the state so far have been administered to healthcare workers. That, he added, has increased morale among those workers in the state. In addition the state is beginning to receive quantities of the Moderna vaccine.

Hutchinson also reported on the dire situation facing Arkansas hospitals and their capacity in the midst of the pandemic. He said only around five percent of ICU beds in the state are unoccupied and only a fifth of general hospital beds.

Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero issued a personal appeal to all Arkansans urging them to reconsider gatherings this New Year’s holiday with family or friends outside of their household. He said Arkansas faces some of its worst days ahead in regards to the ongoing

In review, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 2,718 new cases on Tuesday for a statewide cumulative total of 219,246 cases. Deaths increased by 66 over the same period to 3,603 since the start of the outbreak. Hospitalizations grew by six to include 1,161 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. Recoveries grew by over 2,300 on Tuesday to total 194,000. State officials said nearly 12,000 tests were performed on Tuesday for a monthly total of 411,000.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments, both locally and from across the state.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    12/30/2020

DE QUEEN – Turning now to 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 Dept. of Health:</div>
Sevier County reported five more active cases on Tuesday, raising the current total to 86. Total cases grew to 2,050 while deaths remain at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported an increase of 15 active cases on Tuesday, raising the current total to 72. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 18 to 798. Deaths remain at 38.

Active cases in Howard Country fell by three to 52. Total cases rose by 12 to 1,085. Deaths remain at 18.

Polk County reported 10 more active cases on Tuesday for a current total of 88. Total cases rose by 18 to 1,205. Deaths remain at 38.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 14 fewer active cases yesterday. That lowers the county’s total of active cases to 336. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 18 to 2,868. Deaths increased by one over the same period to 51.

IRS warns of scam in relation to second round of stimulus payments    12/30/2020

With a new round of economic stimulus payments soon to be on their way, the IRS is warning people to be aware of a related text message scam. The thief’s goal is to trick people into revealing bank account information under the guise of receiving the Economic Impact Payment.

Here’s how this scam works:
People get a text message saying they have “received a direct deposit from the COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment… Continue here to accept this payment …” The text includes a link to a phishing web address.

This fake link appears to come from a state agency or relief organization. It takes people to a fake website that looks like the IRS.gov Get My Payment website. If people visit the fake website and enter their personal and financial account information, the scammers collect it.

Here’s what people should do if they receive this message.

Anyone who receives this scam text should take a screenshot and include the screenshot in an email to phishing@irs.gov</a> with the following information:

Date/time/time zone that they received the text message and the phone number that received the text message.

The IRS doesn’t send unsolicited texts or emails. The agency will never demand immediate payment using a gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer or threaten to have a taxpayer arrested.

Looking back at the local stories that gave us hope       12/29/2020

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

2020 has been the year no one will forget – no matter how much they might want to. The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously been the daily headline for much of the year and despite all hopes and efforts will likely continue to be so through the beginning of next year.

This year was one filled with hardship and tragedy for many across the nation. But it was also a year of hope, triumph and inspiration. With this being the last week of 2020, we wanted to look back at some of the local stories that inspired hope and resiliency in the face of a very challenging year.

Yesterday, we took a look back at a story from late August about Kayleb Starnes, a 17-year-old flight student from Vandervoort who was forced to make an emergency landing at the Sevier County Airport after a mechanical issue caused a potentially disastrous engine fault. Today, we aired a story from November about a local sailor who took eight decades to make it back home.

The full audio story is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below:

WINTHROP – A local sailor killed in action nearly 80 years ago has finally made it home after a burial ceremony over the weekend.

Samuel “Cyrus” Steiner was officially laid to rest on Saturday, Nov. 21 at Campground Cemetery near his childhood home near Winthrop.

Born in 1921, Steiner grew up on the family farm and, according to his obituary, sacrificed two years of school to work and support his family during the Great Depression. Steiner returned to school at Foreman High School and played tackle for the Gators football team. He left school in his senior year to enlist in the U.S. Navy.

As a Fireman First Class, he served aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma. He was on the great ship as she lay in anchor at Pearl Harbor during those fateful morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941. It was a quiet morning interrupted by one of the most tragic moments in American history.
The Oklahoma was one of eight battleships moored in Pearl Habor when the Japanese launched their surprise attack, drawing America into the Second World War. Several torpedoes launched from aircraft struck the vessel. A gaping chasm formed in the hull, causing the ship to capsize. 429 of her 1,400-man crew perished in minutes. Steiner was one of those victims.

Like many aboard the USS Oklahoma, Steiner was declared Lost at Sea and formally stated “to have lost his life in the service of his country.” He was awarded the Purple Heart, American Defense Service and WWII Victory medals. He was just 20-years-old.
In contrast to most of the other battleships stationed at Pearl Harbor, the Oklahoma was so damaged she was never returned to service. The severe damage also made identifying the remains of the fallen sailors so difficult. Only 35 of the 429 sailors and Marines killed aboard the Oklahoma were identified in the years following the attack.

In 1950, all unidentified remains from the ship were buried in caskets at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. In 2015 the Department of Defense began a project to identify the remains of servicemen and women interned in those unknown graves. Steiner’s remains were officially identified earlier this year and properly buried near his hometown on Saturday.

A detachment from the U.S. Navy provided military burial rites during the ceremony. For the family, the nearly eight decades since the attack on Pearl Harbor was one of no true closure. But Steiner is back home where he can be closely remembered and honored for his service to the Navy and the nation.

Pre-trial hearing next week for De Queen man charged with negligent homicide 12/29/2020

DE QUEEN – A pretrial hearing is set for next week for a De Queen man facing two counts of negligent homicide.

The felony charges were filed in October against Hugo Hernandez, a 23-year-old resident of De Queen. The charges stem from an accident in Sevier County that killed two people earlier this year.

According to court records, Hernandez is 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 this 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.

State police records show 22-year-old Bernard Edwards, Junior, of Fulton and an unidentified minor were killed in that 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 will 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 in October following an investigation. 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. He was released from jail after posting bond on a $75,000 bail amount.

Hernandez will appear before the Sevier County Circuit Court for a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 7. If he maintains his plea of not-guilty, he will appear before a jury the following week. Hernandez could receive up to 20 years in prison for each of the two negligent homicide charges as well as additional time for the charges of driving while intoxicated and felony battery.

SCSO names suspects in arson, theft of saddles, rifle and boat           12/29/2020

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office has two men in custody in connection to several area burglaries in December.

According to the sheriff’s office, 31-year-old Travis Presley and 38-year-old Cody Culp, both of De Queen, were arrested last week following an investigation into several thefts in the Chapel Hill area.

Deputies were first notified on Dec. 19 of a break-and-enter at a residence on Chapel Hill Road near De Queen. The owner of the residence reported four horse saddles were stolen from the property that evening. Deputies Chet Stubbs and Greg Davignon, with information and help from a Drug Taskforce Agent, were able to recover three of the four saddles the next day.

That day deputies also received a report about an arson incident involving a vehicle as well as a stolen boat, also from the Chapel Hill area. Deputies identified Culp as a suspect in the arson and theft case. A report from the sheriff’s office alleges Culp also provided information as to the location of the fourth stolen saddles. All four saddles have since been returned to their owner.

Investigator Brian Hankins and Deputy Davignon reportedly received additional information identifying the location of the stolen boat at a residence just across the Oklahoma state line.

The sheriff’s office visited the residence and were able to recover the stolen boat as well as a rifle also reported stolen from the Chapel Hill area in December. Both the boat and rifle were then returned to their owners.

The investigation also led deputies to a second suspect, Presley. Both suspects are currently in custody at the Sevier County Jail and awaiting formal charges from the prosecutor’s office.

The sheriff’s office said it was glad to see a quick resolution to the case, with the stolen items returned to their owners and the two suspects in custody.

Quorum Court to discuss measure to eliminate “private club” license    12/29/2020

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet next week to discuss another issue related to alcohol sales in the county.

This time, justices of the peace will discuss a proposed measure to repeal a county ordinance establishing the private club fee process in Sevier County. This ordinance, passed in 2005, allowed a certain number of “private clubs” to sell alcohol in the county, such as the De Queen Country Club. Now that alcohol sales are legal in Sevier and controlled by state regulations, that ordinance is no longer necessary or pertinent.

At its last meeting, the quorum court shot down a proposed measure that would have implemented a county-level permit for any restaurant or business seeking a license to sell or serve alcohol. Several justices stated their opposition to any ordinance imposing additional fees, taxes or permit costs on alcohol-related sales in Sevier County. If the private club ordinance is repealed during the quorum court’s Jan. 4 meeting, the state-level Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control Board will be the sole entity regulating local alcohol sales.

In other business, the quorum court will hear a proposed change to the pay schedule for elected officials in Sevier County. This seeks to move elected officials to 24 pay periods per year with payment on the first and 15<sup>th</sup> of each month.

Finally, justices of the peace will hear a report from the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors and discuss some routine financial matters related to the new hospital.

The quorum court will meet on Monday, Jan. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Herman Dierks Park Community Building in De Queen.

Lights on Lace Lane will be up through Jan. 1    12/29/2020

DE QUEEN – Ok, Christmas is over, but if you need that holiday spirit to go on a few more days, the local Christmas display on Lace Lane promises to do just that.

The Lace Lane Festival of Lights is an always popular and local Christmas tradition for many families in the area. Throughout the Christmas season and into New Year’s Day, the loop, located two miles north of De Queen on Ninth Street, is turned into a wonderland of Christmas lights enjoyed by children and adults alike. The display features literally thousands of Christmas decorations and many more lights.

Homeowners along Lace Lane put a tremendous amount of effort decorating in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It all started more than two decades ago when Thomas and Donna Sweeten began transforming their property into a dazzling array of Christmas lights and decorations. From a dragon in a pond to a full choir, a variety of nativity scenes and over 100 Santa figures, the scene is something everyone can enjoy. And respect too, because the work that goes into decorating the homes on Lace Lane, and especially the Sweeten’s, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Thomas has said in the past the decorations are his family’s way sharing their enjoyment of Christmas for the whole community. And if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry: the decorations will stay up through Jan. 1.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Polk County reports three more deaths    12/29/2020

DE QUEEN – Turning now to 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 Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported 14 fewer active cases on Monday, dropping the current total to 81. Recoveries grew by 20 to 1,930 over the same period. Total cases grew to 2,031 while deaths remain at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported an additional death over the past 24 hours – and its first due to COVID-19 in several weeks. The death toll due to the virus in Little River County is now 38. Active cases fell slightly, dropping by five to 57 currently. Total cases rose by three to 780.

Active cases in Howard Country a sizeable drop, falling by 23 to 55 currently confirmed and probable active cases. Deaths did increase by one, however, with a total of 18 Howard County residents who have died from COVID-19. Total cases rose by five to 1,073.

Polk County reported three more deaths on Monday, just a day after six other Polk County residents were reported to have died from COVID-19. That raises the county’s death toll from the virus to 38. Active cases fortunately continued their declined, falling by 11 to 78. Total cases rose by three to 1,186.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported nine more active cases on Monday for a current total of 350. Total cases rose by 28 to 2,850 while deaths remain at 50.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported 1,651 new cases on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to over 216,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases did see a net decrease, falling by 623 to the current total of 20,831. Deaths rose by 55 across the state on Monday to total 3,537. Hospitalizations grew by 62, leaving 1,155 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. That ties for the most hospitalizations in Arkansas since the start of the outbreak.

2020 in review: Looking back at the local stories that gave us hope               12/28/2020

2020 has been the year no one will forget – no matter how much they might want to. The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously been the daily headline for much of the year and despite all hopes and efforts will likely continue to be so through the beginning of next year.
This year was one filled with hardship and tragedy for many across the nation. But it was also a year of hope, triumph and inspiration. With this being the last week of 2020, we wanted to look back at some of the local stories that inspired hope and resiliency in the face of a very challenging year.

17-year-old flight student uses training, quick wits to avoid disaster

Kayleb Starnes, a 17-year-old flight student from Vandervoort, had to make an emergency landing at the Sevier County Airport in August after a mechanical issue caused a potentially disastrous engine fault. Fortunately, his training and quick wits helped him turn that disaster into a textbook example of what to do in an emergency flight situation. You can check out the full audio interview with Kayleb here:

The following is a partial transcript from the interview:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Kayleb Starnes was forced to make an emergency landing last week at the Sevier County Airport. The 17-year-old flight student was flying solo when his plane suffered a mechanical breakdown.

Imagine, for just a moment you’re flying your plane. Everything’s going great. The sky’s clear and beautiful. The instruments check out, there’s nothing to cause you a bit of concern. You reach for the throttle to slow the plane’s engine. Nothing happens. The plane doesn’t slow down. You try again. Once more, nothing. The plane’s stuck at full speed. What you’ve got now, well, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Now, to make it even more interesting, let’s imagine you’re 17 years old. And by yourself. You’d likely be forgiven for panicking.

Kayleb Starnes, however, he knew better. When faced with the unexpected, you try not to panic. A little panicking when your plane wants to crash is, of course, understandable. Even accepted. But, when things go south, you gotta fall back on what you know. And despite his young age, Kayleb knows a lot about aviation.

Thankfully, for this 17-year-old flight student from Vandervoort with a solo operator endorsement, Kayleb’s flight instruction began with what you don’t want to happen when you’re flying. That knowledge helped prevent disaster after his plane suffered a mechanical fault shortly after takeoff in August. The day started off pretty much as usual. After completing the pre-flight checklist on his grandfather’s single-prop Piper plane, he started her up and headed out from his hanger at the Sevier County Airport.

Lots of things can go wrong in an airplane. A big one, losing engine power. But strangely, what happened to Kayleb was the exact opposite.

You can land a plane with a dead engine. What you can’t do, at least not without much hope of walking away, is landing a plane stuck on full power.

Kayleb first reached out to local air traffic in hopes of getting some much-needed advice. When he got no answer, he tuned to an emergency frequency and relayed what was happening. It was a tense few minutes.

With his confidence restored, Kayleb landed the plane without a single scratch.

The problem, it turned out, was a broke butterfly valve inside the plane’s carburetor. Fortunately, this rare malfunction forces the plane’s engine to operate at full power, as opposed to resorting to, say, half throttle or no power at all. As any experienced aviator will tell you, it’s better to have an engine stuck at full throttle with the option to kill it, than to have no option at all.

Kayleb’s instructions on emergency flight procedures didn’t focus on this particular mechanical fault. But the basics of that instruction guided him the whole time. He knew to keep his head, think quickly, ask for help when needed and, most importantly, how to land a plane with no power.

Kayleb’s flight instructor, Nathan Cline, said Kayleb did all the right things at the right time. Nathan said Kayleb’s actions last Thursday took a potentially catastrophic situation and turned it into a textbook example of what to do in a flight emergency.

Nathan said Kayleb now joins an elite group of aviators who skirted disaster by using their wits and training to make it through the day.

Kayleb’s got a quick answer to the question he’s likely to be asked, a lot: will he fly again?
Oh yes, absolutely.”
In fact, Kayleb has plans to continue flying for a living. In what capacity, he’s not entirely sure. It’s a question he’s leaving open for the time being. Because, besides advancing his knowledge of flying, Kayleb also stays abreast of aviation-related news. The biggest headlines these days, of course, involves COVID-19. Commercial aviation was one of the earliest and hardest hit by the pandemic and its economic consequences. That’s having a big impact on how Kayleb and thousands of other young pilots are thinking about a career in aviation.
No matter what aviation field Kaleb chooses, the actions this 17-year-old pilot took last Thursday are of the same qualities that will make him an asset to anyone he flies with. Until then, Kayleb will continue flying over that beautiful Southwest Arkansas sky.

Little River man in custody after shooting last week     12/28/2020

FOREMAN – A shooting in Foreman left one man hospitalized and another in police custody following an incident last week.

According to the Little River County Sheriff’s Office, 25-year-old Tyler Humphrey was arrested and is now facing felony charges for his alleged involvement in the shooting of another man on Dec. 22. Deputies arrived at a home on Highway 108 after receiving a call in relation to the shooting. Deputies reportedly found a 25-year-old man who had sustained several gunshot injuries.

Officials with the sheriff’s office said the victim identified the shooter as Humphrey. Humphrey reportedly shot up the home and victim from outside the residence. The victim was flown by Air Evac to a Texarkana hospital where he was treated for his injuries. The man is reportedly in stable condition.

Humphrey was located by deputies soon thereafter and taken into custody.

New fishing regulations go into effect next week       12/28/2020

Anglers across the state can expect some changes, both big and small, to the way they go fishing, starting next week.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved over a dozen new regulations or changes to existing regulations earlier this year.

A few notable changes include requiring boaters to remove drain plugs from their boats while being trailered to and from water bodies. Anglers will also be required to check their trotlines and limblines every 48 hours or remove them when not in use. Both yo-yos and free-fishing devices like jugs or trotlines are limited to 25 per person.

The commission increased the possession limit on fish from two daily limits to three daily limits. Anglers may be happy to know the commission removed the requirement to possess an alligator gar permit to fish for alligator gar. The permit was free but did put an extra requirement out there for anyone fishing for alligator gar. However, a Trophy Alligator Gar Tag is still required to keep alligator gar longer than 36 inches. Tags are available for purchase at www.agfc.com through this Thursday, Dec. 31.

More locally, the commission ended a prohibition on spearfishing for black bass on Millwood, De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes. AGFC biologists said the regulations overly complicate fishing regulations on the four lakes and provide no biological benefit to the black bass species.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures, six additional deaths reported in Polk Co.       12/28/2020

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

Sevier County reported a net decrease of four active cases over the weekend, leaving 95 as of Sunday. Total cases surpassed the 2,000-mark and now number 2,025. Recoveries rose to 1,910 by Sunday. Deaths remain at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw a net increase of 13 active cases over the weekend. As of Sunday there are 62 confirmed and probable active cases in Little River County. Total cases grew to 777 while deaths remained at 37.

Active cases in Howard Country saw a net decrease of 27 active cases over the holiday weekend, dropping to 78 as of Sunday. Total cases grew to 1,068 while deaths remained at 17.

Polk County reported six additional deaths due to COVID-19 on Sunday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. The death toll due to the virus is now 35 in Polk County. Active cases did see a slight drop on Sunday, dropping by nine to a current total of 89. Total cases rose to 1,183.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a net increase of 34 active cases since Thursday. As of Sunday, however, the total had dropped by 17 to 341 currently confirmed and probable active cases in McCurtain County. Total cases rose to 2,822. Deaths remain at 50.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported just over 900 new cases on Sunday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of confirmed and probable cases to 2,822. Active cases of the virus in Arkansas dropped by over 800 to 21,454 on Sunday. Deaths increased by 41 over the same period to 3,482. Hospitalizations increased by 34, leaving 1,093 Arkansans still hospitalized due to the virus.

New Year’s closings       12/28/2020

DE QUEEN – Area government officials are reminding residents of a few closures in commemoration of the New Year’s holiday this Friday.

The Sevier County Courthouse will be closed at 1 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve, and remain closed until 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 4. The landfill will be closed on Friday, Jan 1 and will reopen on Saturday, Jan. 2. That includes all county satellite waste stations as well.
De Queen City Hall will also close this Friday for the New Year’s holiday and reopen at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 4. The trash schedule for this week is the same except for Friday, which will be picked up on Thursday.

Other government offices, banks and many businesses will be closed for both Christmas and New Year’s Days. That includes us here at KDQN Studios.

ADH recommendations for Christmas urge small event at home  12/24/2020

Many of us had hoped the pandemic would be under control by the fall and winter holidays so we could see family and friends in a normal-ish way. Unfortunately, that’s simply not been the case.

All recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health have been clear: Please stay home.

Although this is disappointing, it doesn’t change the nature of the holidays. We have adjusted and readjusted our work, home, school, family and social lives all year long, and we can do it again to ensure our own safety and the safety of those we love (and those we don’t even know).

Recent statistics have highlighted the lag time between exposures, hospitalizations, and deaths related to COVID-19.

Based on the average time frame, those who are exposed during the holidays could significantly increase the death toll around Christmas time. We’re seeing this play out as daily death rates continue to climb in Arkansas and across the nation following the Thanksgiving holiday. Those sickened during the Christmas holiday are likely to continue or worsen this already trend, and lead to increased death rates in the new year.

The CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health are strongly urging people not to travel for the holidays to avoid spreading COVID-19 across the country. With this in mind, it is important to consider that staying home and away from those you love this holiday season could be the kindest thing you ever do for them, and they for you.

Anyone who has tested positive for the coronavirus and should be isolating, even if they do not have symptoms. That also includes anyone in quarantine and anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

There are lots of ways to have a safe and happy holiday season this year, including, including having a small dinner with just your own household. Or host a virtual dinner with extended family and friends through Zoom or other video technology. Zoom even waived its 40-minute limit for free users during Thanksgiving.

Having a small group outdoor dinner with family and friends while maintaining physical distance of at least six feet is also an option recommended by the CDC.

There’s also the option of going to an outdoor holiday activity such as a Christmas tree lot or farm, walk-through holiday light display or other similar large outdoor venue where mask use is enforced and people can maintain physical distance.

The Arkansas Department of Health has its own recommendations out there for the Christmas holiday. Health officials suggest avoiding high risk activities like <strong>taking </strong>an elderly relative out of a nursing facility, hospital, or retirement community. They also recommend against traveling outside your local area or shopping during peak times. Arkansans are urged not to hold large indoor gatherings with people outside their household, including with other family or friends. That also includes indoor events where many people from many households are likely to attend.

Even though it can be difficult to think about doing the holidays differently this year, it only takes one sick person at a gathering where precautions are not taken or are lax to spread the virus among your entire family, friend group, church, neighborhood, or whomever is present. It may help to think about it this way: It’s not just about this one holiday, it’s about all the Thanksgivings, Christmases, and birthdays to come. If even one person dies or their quality of life is severely impacted by this year’s gathering, you will be reminded of it every year going forward.

DHS students help with Church of Christ meal program  12/24/2020

Members of the De Queen High School Student Council and National Honor Society recently assisted the De Queen Church of Christ with its Christmas Food Bag Program. The program aims to provide meals to local school-age children who otherwise might miss meals during the holiday break.

DE QUEEN – Members of the De Queen Church of Christ are giving a huge shout out to students of De Queen High School who helped with the church’s mission to feed school-age children over the Christmas break.

Members of the De Queen High School National Honor Society and Student Council came out earlier this week to help hand out 240 backpacks filled with food to area children. The effort was part of the De Queen Church of Christ’s Christmas Break Food Bag Program. The program seeks to provide food to area school-age children who might otherwise miss meals during the Christmas holiday break.

Meals will be distributed for a final time on Monday, Dec. 28. Meals will be placed in backpacks and distributed in a drive-thru fashion. The only requirement is that you have your child or children in your vehicle. Each child in the vehicle will receive a backpack.

The backpacks will be distributed on Monday, Dec. 28 from 5-7 p.m.

If you do not have transportation available to pick up during any of these times please call the Church of Christ at 870-584-3226.

Jan. 4 is deadline for Horatio students to signup for virtual learning  12/24/2020

HORATIO – Students in the Horatio School District wishing to enroll in their school’s virtual learning option for the Spring 2021 semester have a little over a week to do so. District officials have announced the deadline to apply for online learning is Monday, Jan. 4.
The district has released required criteria for both students attending either the high school or elementary school. They include the requirement that virtual students have access to reliable internet and an understanding of how to use all internet-based platforms and software. Other requirements are listed on the district’s website.

For more information visit www.horatioschools.org

Special deer hunts in Arkansas through after Christmas and into New Year  12/24/2020

Arkansas deer hunters will be able to enjoy the holidays in the woods during the Christmas Holiday Hunt. This special modern gun hunt begins the day after Christmas, Dec. 26 and continues through Dec. 28.

Modern gun hunters will also have a few additional days for the first time this year during the Private Land Anterless Only hunt. That begins Dec. 29 and continues through New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. Typically these season is held in October but was moved by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to the end of December to encourage more participation.

During a statewide survey, hunters showed a definite preference for a later anterless-only hunt. Hunters noted they would prefer less disturbance and pressure on deer prior to the October muzzleloader hunt and the statewide opening of modern gun deer season.

Arkansas will also offer a second Special Youth Modern Gun Deer Hunt Jan. 2-3 of 2021. Only hunters 6-15 years old may harvest deer during this special hunt. Youths who have not completed hunter education must be under the direct supervision of an adult at least 21-years-old. Mentors may not hunt any species during the hunt. All zone bag limits apply during the youth hunt and youths may take any buck, regardless of antler points. No dogs are allowed during the hunt.
All youth hunters must now also have a free customer ID number available at www.agfc.com

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures  12/24/2020

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

Sevier County reported an increase of four active cases yesterday, raising the total to 99. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 13 to 1,988. Deaths remain at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw 12 additional active cases reported, raising the current total to 49. Total cases rose by 14 to 753 while deaths remained at 37.

Active cases in Howard Country increased by eight on Wednesday to 105. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 12 to 1,043. Deaths remain at 17.

Polk County reported eight more active cases on Wednesday. That leaves 98 confirmed and probable active cases currently in Polk County. Total cases rose by 18 to 1,139. Deaths remain at 29.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported no change in its active caseload, which remains at 307. Total cases increased by 25 to 2,722. Deaths remain at 50.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported just shy of 2,900 new cases on Wednesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to almost 208,000 since the outbreak began. Active cases of the virus saw an increase of 537 to 22,516. Deaths increased by 38 to 3,376 since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations reached a new high with 1,110 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Beer sales likely in Sevier County shortly after start of New Year   12/23/2020

DE QUEEN – 2021 is likely to bring many new things, but here in Sevier County it means one thing in particular: alcohol sales.

Last month Sevier County voters turned out for a historic election to show their support for the legalization of alcohol sales in the county. That is, for the first time in a century following the enactment of prohibition in the 1920’s.

Sevier County’s turn to a wet county includes among other changes the ability for an unlimited number of convenience stores and big retail outlets like Walmart to sell beer and wine. Due to the state-level licensing process, it’s likely most will not actually have beer or wine on their shelves until late January and possibly into February. That’s according to Scott Hardin, a spokesman with the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC. A retail beer and wine permit costs $350, according to ABC’s website. A local EZ Mart employee said logistics are in the works to sell beer in the store sometime shortly after the start of the New Year.

State law will also allow one liquor store in Sevier for every 7,500 people in the county. With a population of 17,000, according to the 2010 Census, that means Sevier is permitted to have two. The application process is significantly different and lengthier for liquor stores.
Once the application period ends, ABC will hold a blind draw to determine who will receive Sevier County’s two liquor-store licenses. Hardin said the blind draw is typically held within 180 days – or six months – after the end of the application period. That means it could be the middle of 2021 before the first liquor store opens in Sevier County. The application fee is $2,000.

Restaurants in Sevier County can also apply to serve alcohol on their premises. The application fee ranges from $750 to $1,500, depending on the restaurant’s seating capacity.

More information on ABC and the application process can be found here: https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/alcoholic-beverage-control.

Cossatot River State Park offers new or old tradition with First Day Hike   12/23/2020

WICKES – A New Year’s tradition continues at Cossatot River State Park – although, like so much else this year, it’s going to be a little different.

Cossatot River State Park and others across the state will kick off the New Year by encouraging Arkansans to participate in a First Day Hike. Typically these hikes are guided by a state park employee but officials said – due to COVID-19 – guided tours will not be offered this year.
However, self-guided walks and hikes are encouraged on the “First Weekend” of the New Year, on Jan. 1-3.

Cossatot River State Park, located east of Wickes on Highway 278 and just a short 40-minute drive from De Queen, features four scenic trails spanning nearly 20 miles. That includes the beautiful and rugged 14-mile Cossatot Corridor Trail.

Visitors who log their hikes and miles that take place at Cossatot River State Park can share their experiences ArkansasStateParks.com/FirstDayHikes. In return, they’ll receive a free sticker for themselves and each person in their group.
Arkansas Parks officials stress that enjoying nature and the crisp winter air is a great way to start the new year off on a positive note. Even without guided tours in place this year, all Arkansans and especially families will have an experience to remember by taking a hike at Cossatot River or any of Arkansas’ 52 state parks.

Arkansas State Parks are of course asking visitors to recreate responsibly and abide by rules instituted due to COVID-19.

When the parking lot is full the park will not allow more visitors in. Visitors need to practice social distancing and masks are mandatory inside any park facility. Visitors are reminded to bring their own water for the hike. Practice leave no trace principals.
The visitor center at Cossatot River State Park will be closed Jan. 1 for the New Year holiday but the trails will remain open. For more information, visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com

SCSO recovers final of four saddles stolen from home in Sevier County   12/23/2020

DE QUEEN – The final of four horse saddles stolen from a residence in Sevier County over the weekend has been returned to its rightful owner and the suspects arrested.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, investigators recovered the last of the stolen saddles on Monday and were able to press charges and arrest the suspects.

County investigators began looking into the case after receiving a report on Saturday about several horse saddles stolen from the residence in the Chapel hill area of Sevier County. A spokesperson with the sheriff’s office said investigators worked into the night and early hours of Sunday morning to get tips on information on the location of the saddles.

That investigation and quick follow-up action led deputies and an agent with the South Central Drug Task Force to find and recover three of the four stolen saddles Sunday morning. The saddles were returned to the owner later that day.

The final stolen saddle was returned to its owner on Monday. The sheriff’s office said the saddles belonged to a young man who had worked all summer to be able to afford the custom, handmade saddles.

Sevier County librarians to host events in January   12/23/2020

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Librarians are announcing a few events to mark the start of the New Year.

The De Queen Library will host virtual story time events on Jan. 13 and Jan. 27 on its Facebook page. Patrons are also reminded that, even with COVID-19 still lingering, the library remains open and continues to offer the same services and resources as in the past. The library is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday. You can also browse the library’s complete catalog online at www.seviercountylibrary.com.

The Horatio Library will host its January virtual story times on Jan. 2, 16 and 30 on its Facebook page. Call (870) 832-6882 for more information.

The Lockesburg Library will host a drive-up free book giveaway in January. Librarian Wendy Clay said the library has some really great titles to giveaway during the event. Books will be bagged and loaded into your waiting vehicle and patrons will not need to leave their vehicle. The Lockesburg Library is also looking at organizing a virtual book club using the Zoom conference software. Call (870) 289-2233 for more information.

De Queen grad named to President’s List at SAU   12/23/2020

MAGNOLIA – A graduate of De Queen High School has been recognized as an honors student at Southern Arkansas University.

Michael Flowers, a 2017 graduate of De Queen High School, was recently named to the SAU Fall 2020 President’s List. Flowers earned a 4.0 GPA in the fall 2020 semester, securing a prestigious position on the Southern Arkansas University President’s List. Flowers is a senior history major with a minor in political science.

Flowers was one of 426 students honored by being placed on the semester’s President’s List.

State will require prior approval for commercial indoor events with 10 or more people   12/23/2020

Gov. Asa Hutchinson touched on a number of issues Tuesday afternoon in regards to Arkansas’ ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The update, provided during his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference, included additional information on vaccines, hospitalizations and a new restriction on commercial indoor venues.

Hutchinson began with a report on COVID-19 figures from the previous 24-hour period. On Tuesday, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 1,941 new cases for a statewide cumulative total of slightly over 205,000 since the outbreak began. Deaths increased by 43 over the same period to a total of 3,338. Active positive cases did see a modest decrease, falling by 179 to 21,979 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Hospitalizations increased by 25 to 1,103 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

In regards to COVID-19 vaccines, Hutchinson said the state is receiving additional numbers of Pfizer’s vaccine and the first shipment of the Moderna vaccine. He said the state’s priority continues to be providing vaccinations to healthcare workers and then residents of long-term care facilities.

Hutchinson was cautiously optimistic about the state’s hospitalization rate. He said the state expected additional hospitalizations into the winter but at a higher rate than currently being seen. At this point hospitalizations are not increasing proportionately to the increase in new cases but diligence is required to keep that trend in place, said Hutchinson.

Troy Wells, CEO of Arkansas Baptist Health, made a brief announcement about two new planned facilities to accommodate hospitalizations due to COVID-19.  The new facilities are a response to both the strain on Arkansas’ hospitals and the need to have specially engineered facilities to accommodate such a highly contagious virus. The facilities will be constructed in Van Burean and Little Rock. Together they will accommodate treatment space for up to 124 patients. Construction is expected to take between four to five weeks.

The most significant development from Tuesday’s press conference was a new requirement from the Arkansas Department of Health regulating how commercial indoor events are held. Previously, state approval was needed for any commercial indoor venue with a planned attendance of 100 or more. Hutchinson announced that requirement will be increased to include venues of 10 or more people. Hutchinson stressed this does not prevent these events from occurring but will require prior approval from the Arkansas Department of Health. Churches, homes, restaurants and schools will not be included in this new order, however. These entities are either unregulated or have their own requirements under state health guidelines, Hutchinson explained.

The updated requirement is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 2 and continue through March 1 of next year.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   12/23/2020

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

Sevier County reported an increase of two active cases, raising the total to 95. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by eight to 1,975. Deaths remain at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw no change in its active caseload, which remains at 37. Total cases rose by seven to 739 while deaths remained at 37.

Active cases in Howard Country increased by one on Tuesday to 97. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by eight to 1,032. Deaths remain at 17.

Polk County reported seven fewer active cases on Tuesday. That leaves 90 confirmed and probable active cases in Polk County. Total cases rose by three to 1,121. Deaths remain at 29.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported seven fewer active cases on Tuesday, lowering the total to 307. Total cases rose by 15 to 2,697 while deaths remain at 50.

Sevier County Courthouse, De Queen City Hall to close for Christmas   12/23/2020

DE QUEEN – Sevier County officials are informing the public of some upcoming closures in celebration of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

The Sevier County Courthouse is scheduled to close at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23 and remain closed until 8 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 28. The Sevier County Landfill will be closed Thursday, Dec. 24 and again on Christmas Day. The landfill will reopen on Saturday, Dec. 26. Solid waste stations throughout the county will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but will reopen on Dec. 26 at 7 a.m.

The Sevier County Courthouse will also be closed at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve, and remain closed until 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 4. The landfill will be closed on Friday, Jan 1 and will reopen on Saturday, Jan. 2. That includes all county satellite waste stations as well.

Other government offices, banks and many businesses will be closed for both Christmas and New Year’s Days. That includes us here at KDQN Studios.

The City of De Queen has announced the schedule for closings and trash pick for the upcoming holidays. City Hall will be closed both Thursday and Friday in commemoration of the Christmas holiday. The building will reopen at 8 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 28. Trash pick up for this week remains the same except for Thursday and Friday, which will be picked up on Wednesday. City Hall will be closed again next Friday, Jan. 1 for the New Year’s Holiday. Trash pick up will remain the same for the week of Dec. 28 except for Friday, which will be picked up on Thursday.

Area senior citizen centers will also be closed this Thursday and Friday for the Christmas holiday. All centers are scheduled to reopen on Monday, Dec. 28.

Sevier County Sheriff’s Office recovers, returns stolen items after swift investigation   12/21/2020

DE QUEEN – A theft in Sevier County was investigated and the stolen items returned to their rightful owner thanks to quick action by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office.

County investigators began looking into the case after receiving a report on Saturday about several horse saddles stolen from a home in Sevier County. A spokesperson with the sheriff’s office said investigators worked into the night and early hours of Sunday morning to get tips and information on the location of the custom handmade saddles.

That investigation led deputies and an agent with the South Central Drug Task Force to find and recover three of the four stolen saddles Sunday morning. The saddles were returned to the owner later that day.

The sheriff’s office said it is now obtaining warrants to bring charges against the individuals responsible for the theft.

Today marks first of school Christmas Break; drivers urged to be cautious on roads   12/21/2020

DE QUEEN – The Christmas Holiday Break begins today for area school kids. Drivers are reminded to be extra cautious on the roads as children will be out and about more over the next two weeks.

With the Christmas break here that also means the new semester is just around the corner. Officials with the Horatio School District are reminding families who wish to choose the district’s virtual option once school returns need to contact the High School office to set up an appointment to discuss this option and their student’s commitment. Appointments can be made for today and tomorrow.

Due to the late start of this school year, the first semester at De Queen Public Schools will end on Jan. 15.

Virtual students who want to return for onsite instruction for the spring 2021 semester need to contact their school principal to begin that process.

For more information contact the De Queen Administration office at 584-4312.


Christmas Star” to be at most visible point tonight   12/21/2020

DE QUEEN – If you’ve been watching the sky on these dark December nights you may have noticed two of the brightest objects creeping nearer to each other. Jupiter and Saturn are about to appear closer in the sky than they have in 400 years.

The two planets will be so close that they will appear to be touching, separated by one-fifth the diameter of a full moon – although, in fact, they’ll still be separated by hundreds of thousands of miles.

When celestial bodies align, astronomers call it a conjunction, but since this one involves our solar system’s two biggest gas giants, it’s technically a “<a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_conjunction”>great conjunction</a>.” Because the event is landing on a holiday week, many have begun calling the formation the “Christmas Star.”

Online stories about the event have gone viral, and NASA responded by creating a video primer for the event, which peaks tonight. This event should be visible to almost anyone in the U.S. with a clear view of the horizon. We’ve kept an eye on it here in Southwest Arkansas and it should be easily visible for everyone in the listening area tonight. Local stargazers should turn their heads and telescopes to the southwest portion of the sky about 45 minutes after sunset to see the planets align.

If you are planning to snap pictures, NASA has created a guide at photographing the great conjunction. That can be found at www.nasa.gov.

Tonight will be the closest Jupiter and Saturn have appeared to most since March 4, 1226. There was a closer conjunction of the planets some 400 years ago, but that event was not visible to many of us here on Earth, according to Space.com.

Great conjunctions happen on average every 19.6 years. NASA says after this month’s event, you’ll have to hang in there until 2080 to catch the next great conjunction of similar proximity.

Arkansas taxpayers likely to see small increase to paychecks in 2021   12/21/2020

LITTLE ROCK -Arkansans may see an increase in the amount of their paychecks next year. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) announced this week that the income tax withholding tables will change effective January 1, 2021.

DFA says this change is not a tax increase or cut, but with the law change that reduces the top personal income tax rate from 6.6% to 5.9% next month, the withholding change will put that reduction in paychecks beginning January 2021.  Without this change, many Arkansans wouldn’t see the bulk of their tax cut until they received it in their tax refund in 2022.

This is the second change DFA has recently implemented to the withholding tables. The first adjustment took place March 1, 2020. The March 2020 adjustment put $15 million each month into the pockets of Arkansans via increased paychecks. The January 2021 adjustment will place an additional $7 million each month into paychecks.

State Representative DeAnn Vaught said several pieces of legislation addressing future tax cuts have been filed in advance of the 2021 Regular Session.

The latest revenue report shows state revenues are 11.4 percent higher than this time last year.  Five months into the fiscal year, revenue is now $283.3 million above forecast.

This week, Arkansas also learned that the state’s unemployment rate remained stable at 6.2% between October and November. The national unemployment rate is at 6.7%.

Foreman School Board approves one-time bonus, increase to substitute pay   12/21/2020

FOREMAN – The Foreman Board of Education met last week to vote on several items of school business, including holiday bonuses, raising substitute pay and updating the district’s Ready to Learn plan.

School principals started the meeting with updates from the elementary and high schools. Taken together, both schools show the district ending the first semester with an enrollment of 537 students. Following the Christmas break, the elementary school reported it will have no students or staff on COVID-19 quarantine due to school exposure. There are currently just 23 students enrolled in the elementary school’s virtual learning program, down from the original total of 43.

In another update, the athletic director said the Gator’s basketball game scheduled for Dec. 18 has been rescheduled to Jan. 14.

The school board then approved an expenditure of over $52,000 for a non-reoccurring appreciation bonus for contracted employees of the school district. Board members also approved $23,000 for the purchase of a new van.

The board then approved an update to the district’s Ready for Learning Plan after recent updates from the CDC. Those CDC guidelines shorten the quarantine recommendations for Arkansans who have COVID-19 but show no symptoms related to the virus. The guidelines outline the safest procedure includes a full 14-day quarantine at home. However, quarantine can end after 10 days with no follow-up testing as long as symptoms are not present and the individual takes precautions. Quarantine can end after seven days if the individual has received a negative PCR test and are continuing to take precautions and show no symptoms.

All individuals who meet those guidelines and come out of quarantine prior to day 14 need to adhere strictly to other measures to reduce spread. Those include masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, monitoring symptoms and reducing social activities.
In final business, the board approved raising substitute pay from $70 a day to $77 to reflect minimum wage increases starting next year. The board approved the resignation of music teacher Sandy Hamilton and hired Pam McElhannon as a long-term substitute for the position.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   12/21/2020

DE QUEEN – Turning now to 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 Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported a net increase of 11 active cases over the weekend, raising the current total to 93 confirmed and probable active cases. Total cases grew to 1,954 over the same period. Recoveries grew by 22 since Friday to 1,841. Deaths remained at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw a net increase of five active cases over the weekend, raising the total to 32. Total cases grew by 727. Deaths remained at 37.Active cases in Howard Country saw a net increase of 19 since Friday and now number 107. Total cases grew to 1,018. Deaths increased by one on Friday to 17.

Polk County reported a significant number of new deaths over the weekend. Since Friday the county has witnessed seven additional COVID-19 related deaths for a total of 29 since the pandemic began. Most of those deaths have occurred over the past few weeks with Polk County reporting a total of just five deaths in mid-November. That total has risen significantly and tragically since. The county reported six additional deaths on Sunday alone. Active cases of the virus are decreasing from the high recorded earlier this month, however. On Sunday, the number of active cases in Polk County dropped by 12 to the current total of 109. Total cases now number 1,113.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported one additional death over the weekend for a current total of 50. Active cases are spiking again in McCurtain County, with an additional 14 reported on Sunday. That raises the current total of active cases in the county to 302. Total cases grew to 2,664.

Across Arkansas, new confirmed and probable cases increased by more than 1,500 on Sunday for a cumulative statewide total of over 201,000 since the pandemic began. Active positives saw a slight decrease on Sunday, falling to just over 23,000. Deaths increased by 46 over the 24-hour period to 3,237. Hospitalizations saw a slight decrease, leaving 1,057 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

DQSC Chamber of Commerce cancels 2021 Membership and Awards Banquet   12/18/2020

Submitted by De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce

DE QUEEN – Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has announced that the annual awards banquet slated for Spring 2021 is being postponed with a new date to be announced at a later time.

Held in February each year, the chamber banquet typically takes place at De Queen High School with tables reserved for members and guests, a meal served, a silent auction, and an awards presentation for recognized organizations, volunteers and businesses. In years past the ceremony has also included performances by The De Queen High School Jazz Band, a live emcee and serving provided by The De Queen High School cross country team.

The decision to postpone the banquet came during a specially called Board of Directors meeting held this week on Tuesday, Dec. 15. With COVID case reports continuing to rise in Sevier County and the surrounding areas, the Chamber Board has agreed to prioritize the safety of the community by postponing the event until large gatherings can be held without concerns of COVID-19 exposure.

Though the event will be pushed back on the calendar, banquet attendees can still expect a fun theme, table decorating contest, silent auction, meal and awards to be distributed as usual. The 2021 Banquet theme will also be announced as the rescheduled date draws closer.

Questions can be referred to 870-584-3225, DQchamber@gmail.com or message the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

As always, The Chamber board of Directors appreciates the support of all members and community representatives.  More information about the annual membership banquet will be released as details become available.

State officials share more info on plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccine in Arkansas   12/18/2020

Public officials and health experts in Arkansas are sharing more information on how the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed – while also sharing a message that the vaccine is both safe and effective. U.S. Congressman Bruce Westerman, who represents Arkansas 4<sup>th</sup> District, said the vaccine is an important milestone in defeating COVID-19. He said he encourages all Arkansans to learn more about the vaccine as it becomes available so that the nation can continue to restore, rebuild and renew.

So, how will the vaccine be distributed in Arkansas?

Well, Arkansans have already begun receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

25,000 doses were received in Arkansas, and a second allocation is expected sometime next week. As other vaccines receive emergency use authorization, the supply will increase and vaccines could become available quicker.

Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has proposed a phased approach to vaccine distribution based on certain categories such as vulnerability to the virus and a person’s likelihood of exposure to it.

The first phase will provide vaccines to healthcare workers in the highest risk setting for exposure to the virus. Also included in Phase 1 are long-term care residents and first responders. This phase will be followed by vaccines for essential workers such as day care workers, K-12 education employees, workers in the food industry and truck drivers. This phase is expected to occur between January and February of 2021.

The next phase, scheduled for February through March of next year, will focus on adults at increased risk for severe diseases, such as adults with chronic health conditions and those aged 65 and older. The final phases will focus on getting the vaccine to the general public and anyone else who needs or wants one.

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.

Hospitals and local pharmacies will be administering the vaccine during the initial distribution phases. Other pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens and Walmart will assist in later phases. As a reminder, these first-available vaccines will require two doses, three to four weeks apart. The Pfizer vaccine will be available to people 16 and older while the Moderna vaccine will be eligible to those 18 and older.

For more information on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov

State law enforcement taskforce issues proposals   12/18/2020

Gov. Asa Hutchinson received the final report from the Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas Thursday and shared its recommendations that he intends to support during the 93rd General Assembly in January.

The law-enforcement task force was created in the midst of the civil unrest and violence that arose across the country after the death of George Floyd. Hutchinson said that crisis led the state to assess the state of law enforcement in Arkansas. That included ensuring local and state agencies are providing officers with the equipment, guidance and training, support, and compensation, to allow them to perform their jobs at the highest level. The law-enforcement officers, elected officials, and community activists on the task force surveyed a broad base of citizens and produced a report that is filled with proposals.

The proposals include 27 recommendation to increase accountability, training, and raise pay to a more competitive level.

The taskforce includes a number of representatives from across the state, including Daniel Martinez, a business owner from De Queen.

The full report is available at governor.Arkansas.gov

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   12/18/2020

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 Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported a single case increase in its active caseload, raising the total to 82. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 11 to 1,921. Recoveries grew to 1,819. Deaths remain at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw three additional active cases on Thursday for a current total of 27. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by six to 716. Deaths remain at 37.

Howard County reported four more active cases yesterday. Active cases in the county now total 88. Total cases rose by 12 to 977. Deaths remain at 16.

Polk County reported a third death in as many days. There have now been 22 deaths in Polk County since the pandemic began, with most of those occurring over the past several weeks. Active cases saw a slight increase, raising by one to 127. Total cases grew by 16 to 1,085.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported one additional active case yesterday for a total of 235. Total cases rose by 15 to 2,558. Deaths remain 49.

Across Arkansas, new confirmed and probable cases surpassed the 3,000 mark for the first time in one-day growth. In all, Arkansas reported 3,039 new cases yesterday. Since the pandemic began, more than 194,000 Arkansans have caught the virus. Active cases also saw a sizable increase, raising by 885 to 21,659. Deaths increased by 38 over the previous 24-hour period to 3,112. Hospitalizations saw a slight increase of five, leaving 1,084 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign begins today   12/18/2020

Law enforcement agencies across Arkansas and the nation will launch a two-week long intensified enforcement plan aimed at drivers who choose to drive impaired this Christmas season.  In advance of the holiday travel period state troopers, local police, and sheriff’s deputies want to remind drivers of their stepped-up patrols along U.S. and state highways, as well as local streets and county roads.

Beginning today and continuing through Jan. 1, motorists will witness an increased presence of state and local law enforcement whether they’re traveling across the state or across the country.

The national <em>Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over</em> operation combines public service messaging and assurances from law enforcement officers of a zero tolerance for drunk driving.  <em>Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over</em><em> </em>is intended to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.

A look back at national fatality statistics sadly tells the story of tragic consequences from 2018 when one person every 50 minutes lost their life as the result of a drunk-driving motor vehicle crash.  Reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that on average more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2014 through 2018 as the result of drunk driving related crashes. The Christmas and New Year’s holiday period should be an enjoyable time for Arkansas families, not a marker of death for a loved one who was involved in a drunk driving crash.

Local and state police are asking for a commitment from everyone that they’ll drive sober so that everyone can have a safe holiday. This is a campaign to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal and it claims far too many lives.

The Arkansas Highway Safety Office and NHTSA reminds everyone of the many resources available and the precautions to take, ensuring that everyone gets home safely.

-Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive.  Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.

-If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact the nearest law enforcement agency. Your actions could help save someone’s life.

-Guard against allowing a friend who has been drinking to drive.  Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org

Christmas tradition continues in De Queen with Lace Lane Festival of Lights   12/16/2020

DE QUEEN – An always popular and local Christmas tradition continues this week and through the New Year’s in De Queen. That is, of course, the thousands of Christmas lights and decorations adorning the yards of homes on Lace Lane. This time of year, the loop, located two miles north of De Queen on Ninth Street, is turned into a Christmas wonderland enjoyed by children and adults alike. Homeowners along Lace Lane put a tremendous amount of effort decorating in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It all started more than two decades ago when Thomas and Donna Sweeten began transforming their property into a dazzling array of Christmas lights and decorations. From a dragon in a pond to a full choir, a variety of nativity scenes and over 100 Santa figures, the scene is something everyone can enjoy. And respect too, because the work that goes into decorating the homes on Lace Lane, and especially the Sweeten’s, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Thomas has said in the past the decorations are his family’s way sharing their enjoyment of Christmas for the whole community

.
The popular local attraction typically features dozens of cars driving through each day and night. And if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry: the decorations will stay up through Jan. 1.

In the past Thomas has hosted Santa and provided gifts to children who stop by. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 precautions in place this year, Santa will not be able to make an appearance at Lace Lane. Nonetheless, the Sweetens and the whole Lace Lane community invites everyone to come out, enjoy the lights and have a Merry Christmas.

Comment period open for future plans for Albert Pike Recreation Area   12/16/2020

LANGLEY – Ouachita National Forest officials are extending the public comment period from Dec. 14 – Jan. 14 regarding the future of the Albert Pike Recreation Area, located in Langley, Ark. The 30-day extended period will enable the public to review the Ouachita National Forest’s proposed long-term management and use of the recreation area.

The Ouachita National Forest proposes to improve day use opportunities which includes general maintenance, adding more parking, providing alternative bathroom facilities, increasing signage and improving the swim beach. Overnight use below the 100-year flood elevation would not be permitted anywhere in the Albert Pike Recreation Area.

The proposed action can be found on the project’s webpage at www.fs.usda.gov/project. All comments must be in writing and submitted through formal channels.

The Albert Pike Recreation Area has been closed and unmaintained since a devastating flood killed 20 people on the night of June 10-11, 2010.

Torrential rainfall and flash flooding caused water levels to rise from three feet to over 23 feet in less than four hours. Besides taking the life of 20 people, the flooding also caused tremendous damage to the park and its facilities. Officials say the flood was of a scale that occurs on average only once every 500 years. The park was closed down immediately after and has not reopened since.

In 2018 the United States Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of survivors and family members of the victim. A federal judge said the lawsuit was barred by the Federal Tort Claims Act. The court ruled that the government could not be considered negligent in allowing visitors to camp overnight on a previously-known 100-year floodplain. The court stated the 500-year flood which occurred that evening posed an “ultra-hazardous condition” regardless of any attempts to mitigate or warn camps.

SWACMHC still offering counseling, food and child care services for local residents   12/16/2020

DE QUEEN – 2020 has been a stressful year for all Americans. For area residents seeking a little help dealing with their own stress, a new program is offering just that and at no cost.

The Southwest Arkansas Counseling and Mental Health Center has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offer a free and anonymous counseling service to help deal with personal stress. The Promoting Positive Emotions program is organized to help residents of Southwest Arkansas recover mentally and emotionally from disasters – both personal ones and wide scale ones like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group is offering free counseling, food resources, housing and day care assistance for local residents. The group also offers tips that all Arkansans can use to promote good mental and emotional health during COVID-19. That includes getting coffee with a friend, making sure you’re getting enough sleep, finding a new hobby or spending more time on an old one, taking time for lunch and spending time with family.

All services are completely confidential and absolutely free. The program is available for children under the age of 18, with parental or guardian consent. The sole purpose is helping Arkansans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring they receive the emotional and mental health services they need to carry on during these difficult times.

Anyone interested in learning more is invited to call 833-993-2382 or visit the website at www.staypositivearkansas.com

Ashdown Varsity Panther Cheer team heading to state competition this weekend   12/16/2020

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown Varsity Panther Cheer team will be heading to the state cheer competition this week. The team will be competing in a variety of events during the competition set for this Saturday, Dec. 19 in Hot Springs. The Panthers will compete in Session 2 starting at 11:50 that morning.

As with pretty much everything else this year, COVID-19 has changed some things about this year’s competition. Tickets can be purchased through the Go Fan link provided on the Facebook page of Ashdown Varsity Panther Cheer.

Due to capacity restrictions, AAA passes will not be accepted for state cheer. Each school in this session is allotted 55 tickets to sell to spectators. There is a two ticket per transaction limit on the tickets.

If you purchase your GoFan tickets using a computer, your tickets will be delivered to the email address you entered when purchasing. You can also download the GoFan mobile app (Apple users only) and login using this email to access your tickets.

This event is a mobile entry event–tickets must be presented on a smart phone for entry. Printed tickets will not be accepted.

All unsold tickets per session will be available to the public today starting at 8 a.m. at GoFan.com

The event will also be live streamed via NFHS Network. https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/associations/aaa.

Face masks will be required.

Gov. Hutchinson provides update on COVID-19, plans for vaccines   12/16/2020

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Arkansas reached a somber milestone Tuesday with deaths from COVID-19 surpassing 3,000.

Speaking during his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced an additional 26 deaths over the previous 24 hours. That raises the total number of Arkansans who have died from COVID-19 to 3,016 since the pandemic began. State officials also reported an additional 2,141 confirmed and probable cases for a cumulative total of more than 189,000. Active cases saw a net decrease of one, leaving 20, 690 confirmed and probable active cases in the state. Hospitalizations increased by 20 to 1,070.

Hutchinson also provided an update on the initial arrival in Arkansas of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. He said the state’s first resident received the vaccine shortly after the vaccines arrived on Monday. Hutchinson repeated the state’s plan to offer the vaccinations to healthcare workers, first responders and residents of long-term care facilities. State officials are still determining how and when the vaccine will be made available to the general public.

Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero again stressed state and CDC guidelines as the Christmas and New Year’s holidays approach. He urged all Arkansans to follow those precautions to ensure the holidays are celebrated as safely as possible amidst the ongoing pandemic.
Hutchinson provided another brief update on the state’s effort to retool the Arkansas TraumaCon system to better manage hospitals’ COVID-19 caseloads. He said the system will help patients needing treatment in a hospital find space quickly and efficiently – even if that means treatment beyond their nearest facility.

In review, Arkansas’ death toll from COVID-19 reached 3,016 after an additional 26 deaths reported over the previous 24-hour period. Cumulative cases grew by 2,141 to more than 189,000. Active cases saw a single decrease to 20,690. Recoveries now number over 165,000. Hospitalizations increased by 20 to 1,070 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.

Arkansas Holiday Trail of Lights offers Christmas scenes throughout state   12/16/2020

A great place to continue a holiday tradition, or start a new one, is on the Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights. The Holiday Lights continues now through the end of the year with a statewide celebration of the holiday season. Towns across The Natural State are taking part with events and activities modified to adhere to social distancing requirements. Displays in many locations will be lit into the new year, offering a fun way to hit the road and spend time with friends and family in a safe way.

To view locations and events, go to Arkansas.com/trailofholidaylights.

Arkansas residents and travelers have made the Trail of Holiday Lights an annual holiday tradition for 25 years. Cities and towns across the state get into the spirit, decking the halls and bringing families together.
For trip planning ideas, go to this month’s edition of “Discover Arkansas” at www.arkansas.com/discover-arkansas. And, don’t forget to share your own holiday photos with us on Facebook or Instagram using #ArkansasTrailofHolidayLights.
Now is the perfect time to start planning your own holiday light adventure. Go to www.Arkansas.com/TrailofHolidayLights to get started.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   12/16/2020

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

Sevier County reported five additional active cases yesterday, raising the total to 82. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 19 to 1,893. Deaths remain at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw four additional active cases on Tuesday for a total of 23. Total cases also grew by six to 701 while deaths remained at 37.

Howard County reported an increase of four active cases on Tuesday. That leaves 86 confirmed and probable cases in Howard County. Total cases rose by 13 to 955. Deaths remain at 16.

Polk County reported an additional death over the previous 24-hour period. That raises the total of Polk County residents who have died from COVID-19 complications to 20. Actve cases did see another day of decline, falling by 10 to 116.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 17 fewer active cases on Tuesday. That leaves the current total of confirmed and probable active cases at 215. Total cases grew to 2,509. Deaths remain at 48.

De Queen has first serious chance for snow of the season   12/15/2020

DE QUEEN – There’s an ever so slight chance of a little winter wonderland for much of the listening area today. According to forecasters with the National Weather Service, De Queen has its first credible chance of snow of the season this afternoon and into the evening. Gillham and further north into Polk County received a slight dusting of snow Sunday night. But De Queen and further south may have a turn to see some of that white winter stuff.

Forecasters are calling for a 30 percent chance of rain and snow between noon and 3 p.m. with additional rain throughout the evening. Snow is again possible tonight and into the early morning hours. The temperatures may just be right for it, with today’s high not expected to be above 38 degrees and the low a chilly 28.We wouldn’t suggest holding your breath for any snow-related cancellations however. Forecasters saw little to no snow accumulation is expected and tomorrow’s high is a relatively balmy 44 degrees.

Quorum Court shoots down suggestion of alcohol ordinance, approves Christmas bonuses   12/15/2020

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The Sevier County Quorum Court met yesterday to approve the county’s 2021 budget as well as discuss several other items of business.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray also announced the county had received over $700,000 in federal relief funds through the national CARES Act. This is Sevier County’s allotment of the more than $1.2 billion received by Arkansas through the federal program. The quorum court voted to use part of that allotment to provide Christmas bonuses to county employees. This is the first bonuses provided to county employees in recent memory. Ray said the quorum court voted to issue the bonuses because of the difficulties faced by many in 2020 during the pandemic and because of the quality work performed by county employees.

The bonuses amount to $500 for full-time county employees who have been employed at least one year. Part-time workers employed for at least a year will receive $250. All other employees will receive $125. Justices of the peace are also slated to receive a bonus.
In addition, county employees will receive a 2.5 percent cost of living raise in 2021.

The county then moved to the issue of alcohol sales in Sevier County. Voters approved a measure in November authorizing the sale of alcohol in Sevier County. Kaylen Lewis, the county’s legal counsel, provided a sample ordinance the county could implement that would add additional permit fees for any restaurant or business seeking a license to sell or serve alcohol. Justices of the Peace Angie Walker, Greg Wright and David Wright stated their opposition to any ordinance imposing additional fees, taxes or permit costs on businesses in Sevier County. Greg Wright said with restaurants operating at limited capacity he felt it would be unfair to impose additional permit fees on them.

“Restaurants have a hard enough time as it is so I don’t want to slap them with another $500 permit,” Wright said.

In addition Walker said she did not support any additional tax on alcohol sales.

“I would rather leave that money in the taxpayer’s pocket,” said Walker. “I just can’t justify an additional tax on alcohol sales.”

No other discussion was held and no action was taken.

In other business, the quorum court approved the re-appointment of Joan Moore to the Sevier County Library Board and Dr. Randy Walker to the Sevier County Airport Board.

Finally, the quorum court heard from Muriel Wiley who is spearheading a local community project committee. She said the grassroots effort seeks to promote and highlight minority communities in Sevier County and across Southwest Arkansas. Wiley spoke with justices about setting up an opportunity to speak with local youth about the quorum court’s role in the county and the importance of being active in local government. Angie Walker said the community group could be a useful partner in advocating for the COVID-19 vaccine and combating misinformation about its use.

Sevier County Quorum Court heards update on new hospital  12/15/2020

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

During yesterday’s meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court, justices of the peace heard an update on the county’s new hospital currently in the construction process.

Dr. Steve Cole, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, provided the update. He said prep work continues on the site of the new 14-bed hospital, located several miles north of De Queen on Highway 71. He said record sales tax collections this year – thanks largely to county residents shopping locally and the collection of sales tax from online sales – has ensured the hospital is entering the new year with strong finances.

Cole also informed the quorum court of its decision to install a Safe Haven baby box at the new hospital. The hospital board voted during its October meeting to incorporate a baby box into design of the new facility. A baby box, or baby hatch, is a secured container in which mothers can safely and anonymously abandon their baby.

Through Arkansas’ Safe Haven Law, parents can legally drop off a child 30 days or younger to a qualified location without facing prosecution for endangering or abandoning a child. The law was approved and put in place to alleviate the abandonment and death of infant children in Arkansas.

If a child is placed in the baby box, lights and alerts are sent out to trained professionals and first responders who will arrive almost instantly to provide care. The baby would then be given to the Department of Human Services as soon as possible for adoption to a forever home.
Once completed the hospital will be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That means trained staff will always be on site to respond quickly to a child placed in the baby box. If one baby is saved, said hospital officials, the baby box will have more than served its purpose.
The hospital’s baby box would be only the second one in all of Arkansas.

Cole then informed justices of the peace that the hospital board was working with AirEvac with the goal of relocating the medical helicopter base to the new hospital once its completed.

In addition, Cole said the board had partnered with a local marketing company, Arzac, to design the hospital’s logo and prepare other promotional materials.

Finally, Cole said the hospital board is beginning to narrow down the applications it’s received for the hospital administrator position. He said the board expects to begin conducting interviews in January.

Bond set at $50,000 for Horatio woman charged with felony drug, gun offences  12/15/2020

HORATIO – A Horatio women arrested last month on multiple drug and firearms charges has been formally charged following her initial court appearance.

57-year-old Charlotte Dennis was arraigned this month in the Ninth West Judicial Circuit Court. Dennis faces a number of felony and misdemeanor charges, including possession of methamphetamine with the purpose to deliver, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, maintaining a drug premise, possession of drug paraphernalia and theft by receiving.

Dennis’ bond was also set at $50,000. She remains in jail awaiting her next court appearance or posting bail.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, officers with multiple area law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant on Nov. 30 on a residence located at 598 Williamson Loop near Horatio.

Upon entering the home officers located narcotics and an undisclosed number of stolen firearms. Dennis was the sole occupant of the home at the time and was arrested without

t incident during the search. She was taken into custody and transported to the Sevier County Jail.

Agencies involved in the investigation and search warrant included the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, the South Central Drug Task Force and the Arkansas State Police.

Lockesburg City Council approves repairs to fire house, Christmas bonuses and hotspots   12/15/2020

LOCKESBURG – Some much needed repairs, internet hotspots and Christmas bonuses were the main topics of discussion atlast week’s meeting of the Lockesburg City Council.

The council approved during its Dec. 8 meeting to budget a little over $34,000 for much-needed renovations to the firehouse’s office and kitchen area. The bill will be split with $20,000 to be covered by the fire department and the remainder from the city’s general fund. The fire department will pay back the additional amount over the next several years from the Act 833 money it receives from the state’s fire department assistance program.

The city council took no action on employee raises for the coming year but approved $500 bonuses to each city employee and a $250 bonus to the Lockesburg city treasurer. In addition, a motion was approved to give city employees a one-time $100 hazard payment and $50 for the city treasurer.

The council briefly discussed a land swap deal with a city resident but the item was tabled and no action taken.

The Council then discussed a one year contract with T Mobile for 4 wifi internet hotspots to be placed strategically around town. City officials hope the faster internet speed will aid families and children who are enrolled in their school’s virtual learning program due to the ongoing pandemic. A motion was made and then passed in a vote to allow the contract to proceed – contingent on the approval of churches and landowners to allow the use of their property for the hotspots.

Aldermen then approved an operating budget for 2021 until corrections can be made to the proposed budget.

One final item of note was an announcement by Council Member Donna Gallaher that she would resign from the council effective Dec. 31 of this year.

Shop with a Cop to bring Christmas to local children in need this holiday season   12/15/2020

DE QUEEN – Local law enforcement officers are gearing up for the 2020 Shop with a Cop program. Shop with a Cop is held each year during the holiday season through a partnership between the De Queen Police Department, Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, the Sevier County Department of Human Services and the De Queen Walmart store.

Through the partnership local children are selected to shop with an officer from either the police department or sheriff’s office. The kids are provided with money to purchase necessities as well as gifts for Christmas. The program has long aimed to help children in Sevier County who otherwise might go without a gift under the tree during Christmas. Shop with a Cop has raised thousands of dollars in the past and purchased gifts, food and necessities to hundreds of children in Sevier County.

Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic still making an impact, the year 2020 has been a trying one for just about everyone. This year’s Shop with a Cop program is no exception. Donations have been minimal so funds from all sources are welcomed and greatly appreciated.

If you would like to donate to this year’s Shop with a Cop program, contact Beth Hughes at the De Queen Police Department by calling 642-2210 or Chad Dowdle with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office at 642-2125.

 

De Queen Church of Christ to hold Christmas Break Food Bag Program   12/15/2020

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Church of Christ is stepping in to make sure area students do not go hungry over the Christmas break. Members of De Queen Church of Christ are providing the meals through their Christmas Break Food Bag Program.

Meals will be placed in backpacks and distributed later this week and into the weekend. There will be four choices of times to pick up the backpacks. The only requirement is that you have your child or children in your vehicle. Each child in the vehicle will receive a backpack.

The backpacks will be distributed at the De Queen Church of Christ Family Center during the following times:

This Friday, Dec. 18 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

This Saturday, Dec. 19 from 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Monday, Dec. 21 from 5-7 p.m.

And finally Saturday, Dec 26 from 8:30-10:30 a.m.

If you do not have transportation available to pick up during any of these times please call the Church of Christ at 870-584-3226.

Santa House open in De Queen again this Saturday   12/15/2020

DE QUEEN – The Santa House in De Queen will be open again this Saturday, Dec. 19 from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The house is featured on the south side of the courthouse square in downtown De Queen. Due to all the precautions and guidelines, Santa will be behind plexiglass but will nonetheless hear the Christmas wish list from every child who stops by.

Santa’s House will again be open Dec. 21, 22 and 23 from 3-5 p.m. The house will be open for a final day on Thursday, Dec. 24 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

First shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Arkansas   12/15/2020

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Arkansas yesterday morning.

Around 25,000 doses of the two-part vaccine were delivered Monday morning. Of those, the majority will be going to Hospitals in Northwest Arkansas where the virus’ impact has been the most severe, according to several news agencies.

The FDA approved the vaccine for emergency authorization last week. It only took several days for the first doses to arrive.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state health officials have repeatedly stated the first vaccines will be offered to healthcare workers in Arkansas. They will be followed by the elderly and most vulnerable populations, then Arkansas teachers and school staff and then, finally, the general population. The initial shipment of vaccines will not be enough to cover all of Arkansas’ 200,000 heathcare workers. Hospitals told news agencies they plan on prioritizing those vaccines within their institutions. In addition, although the vaccine will not be mandatory for workers, it will be highly encouraged.

The Pfizer is a two-stage vaccine whose initial dose will need to be followed up with a booster shot some 28 days later. The vaccine is also a demanding one in terms of storage, with a requirement that it be stored in temperatures of around 70 degrees Celsius below freezing.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   12/15/2020

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported three additional active cases yesterday, raising the total to 77. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 11 to 1,874. Deaths remain at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw one additional active case on Monday for a total of 19. Total cases also grew by one to 695 while deaths remained at 37.

Howard County reported an increase of 10 active cases on Monday. That leaves 82 confirmed and probable cases in Howard County. Total cases rose by 13 to 942. Deaths remain at 16.

Polk County reported 12 fewer active cases yesterday, dropping that figure to 126. Total cases grew by six to 1,026. Deaths remain at 19.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County saw four fewer active cases on Monday. That leaves 232 confirmed and active probable cases in McCurtain County. Total cases grew by 2,504 and deaths remained at 48.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported 1,355 new cases on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to slightly over 187,000 cases since the pandemic began. Active positives saw a net decrease of 704, leaving 20,691 confirmed and probable active cases in the state. Deaths increased by 45 to 2,990. Hospitalizations fell by a net seven cases to leave 1,050 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Pilgrim’s announces $480,000 donation for splash pad in De Queen   12/14/2020

DE QUEEN – A popular summertime attraction is coming to De Queen thanks to a huge donation by Pilgrim’s.

Pilgrim’s announced Friday it is providing $480,000 for a new, state-of-the-art splash pad at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.

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. Construction is expected to begin the first quarter of 2021.De Queen Mayor Jeff 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 next 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 month 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.

Senior Citizen employees, volunteers gather dozens of boxes for Christmas drive   12/14/2020

Several employees of the Horatio Senior Citizen Center along with volunteers met up on Saturday to begin boxing up Christmas packages for a number of senior citizens in the county. They met up at the De Queen Senior Citizens Center and organized hundreds if not thousands of pounds of donations, ranging from food and winter clothing to gifts and household necessities. Penny Morton of the Horatio Senior Citizens Center said the effort is being made to ensure local senior citizens are not forgotten this Christmas.

DE QUEEN – Several employees of the Horatio Senior Citizen Center along with volunteers met up on Saturday to begin boxing up Christmas packages for a number of senior citizens in the county. And thanks to the tremendous support they’ve seen through this new program, it was a very busy day for them.

Volunteers included local folks as well as youth from Horatio schools. They met up at the De Queen Senior Citizens Center and organized hundreds if not thousands of pounds of donations, ranging from food and winter clothing to gifts and household necessities. Tables in the main room of the senior citizens center were filled up with an amazing amount of donated items. Boxes and gift bags were filled up for nearly four dozen homebound senior citizens in Sevier County. Penny Morton of the Horatio Senior Citizens Center said the effort is being made to ensure local senior citizens are not forgotten this Christmas.

There are many ways to help the less fortunate in our community this Christmas. There are programs to help children and families in need as well as individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But local community organizers say there’s not much in the way of helping senior citizens during Christmas. Especially those who are homebound and cannot travel or leave their home to see others without assistance. Organizers identified 45 Sevier County seniors who could use some Christmas cheer this holiday season.

Penny said the senior citizens center has already seen tremendous support from the community through this donation drive. Businesses, community groups, churches and even area school children have stepped up to ensure our senior citizens are not forgotten this Christmas. Donations have ranged not just items but also money to purchase other needed items.

Penny said the group will continue taking donations through Thursday. Area residents are still invited to donate items like socks, scarves, crossword books, toiletries, candy, non-perishable food and nearly any other items for these senior citizens. Donations can be dropped off now through Thursday at either the Horatio or De Queen Senior Citizens Centers. Donations must be dropped off during the centers’ open hours, between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday at both sites.

The Horatio Senior Citizens Center is located at 1106 McCoy Drive while the De Queen center is located on 605 E. Haes Avenue behind Pruett’s Foods.

Penny said boxes will be delivered next week.

For more information contact Penny at (870) 832-3640 or at 784-3515.

Horatio students return to onsite learning today after COVID-related closure   12/14/2020

HORATIO – Students in the Horatio School District who elected for in-person learning this semester return to class today following a COVID-19 related closure last week.

The district’s elementary and high school campuses were closed four of five days last week due to the number of students and staff on mandatory quarantine or testing positive for COVID-19 exposure. The district is reopening both campuses for onsite instruction today following completion of the state-mandated quarantine period.

Last week’s closure marked the second time this school year that COVID-19 has forced the Horatio School District to modify some portion of its on-site instruction. De Queen Elementary School was also closed for a week following quarantine and exposure among the school’s support personnel.

Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the district is excited to welcome students back to campus today. However, he continues to urge students, parents and staff to socially distance, wear their masks and make choices that can help keep children and staff safe in school through the remainder of the semester.

School officials said future updates or modifications to the school’s onsite learning will be shared with parents via a phone messaging service as well as through Facebook, email and Google Classroom.
District officials are also reminding parents, students and staff of new CDC guidelines shorten the quarantine recommendations for Arkansans who have COVID-19 but show no symptoms related to the virus. The guidelines outline the safest procedure includes a full 14-day quarantine at home. However, quarantine can end after 10 days with no follow-up testing as long as symptoms are not present and the individual takes precautions. Quarantine can end after seven days if the individual has received a negative PCR test and are continuing to take precautions and show no symptoms.

If at any time during quarantine the close contact develops symptoms of COVID-19, they should immediately isolate and be tested for COVID-19. This is even if they previously had a negative test during the quarantine period.

All individuals who meet those guidelines and come out of quarantine prior to day 14 need to adhere strictly to other measures to reduce spread. Those include masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, monitoring symptoms and reducing social activities.

DMS students donated nearly $600 for local Shop with a Cop program   12/14/2020

De Queen Middle School students raised nearly $600 by selling t-shirts through a community-wide service project. The funds were donated on Friday to the local Shop with a Cop program. This program is held each year during the holiday season through a partnership between the De Queen Police Department, Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, the Sevier County Department of Human Services and the De Queen Walmart store. Pictured in the first row from left to right are Kyleigh Faulkenberry, Gabriela Aguilar, Katie Williamson, Teralee Stewart, Jeremiah Coto, Elaine Tovar and Marlene Tellez.<br />In the second row are Tristan Marrufo, Beau McCullough, Mario Gonzalez, Captain Sonny Kimmel<br />Back Row (left to right) – PFC Michael Barnes, Mallory Tonihka, Officer Bobby Bagley, Lt. Chad Bradshaw, Officer Chris Turner, Officer Beth Hughes and Aubreye Gillmore.

DE QUEEN – De Queen Middle School students recently wrapped up a fundraiser to help out local children in need this Christmas.

The students raised nearly $600 by selling t-shirts through a community-wide service project. The funds were donated on Friday to the local Shop with a Cop program. This program is held each year during the holiday season through a partnership between the De Queen Police Department, Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, the Sevier County Department of Human Services and the De Queen Walmart store.

Through the partnership local children are selected to shop with an officer from either the police department or sheriff’s office. The kids are provided with money to purchase necessities as well as gifts for Christmas. The program has long aimed to help children in Sevier County who otherwise might go without a gift under the tree during Christmas. Shop with a Cop has raised thousands of dollars in the past and purchased gifts, food and necessities to hundreds of children in Sevier County.

The De Queen Middle School Student Council provided the donation during a small ceremony last week with officers Bobby Bagley, Chad Bradshaw, Christ Turner, Sonny Kimmel and Beth Hughes in attendance.

Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic still making an impact, the year 2020 has been a trying one for just about everyone. This year’s Shop with a Cop program is no exception. Donations have been minimal so the funds donated by De Queen middle-schoolers was a welcome gift.

If you would like to donate to this year’s Shop with a Cop program, contact Beth Hughes at the De Queen Police Department by calling 642-2210 or Chad Dowdle with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office at 642-2125.

Ashdown School Board Member named 2021 ABSA president   12/14/2020
Submitted by Ronda Pounds

Ashdown School Board Member Rosa Bowman is passed the gavel after taking over the reigns as the next president of the Arkansas School Board Association. A native of Peru, Bowman is one of the few women to have served in the position and is the first person of Latina background.

An Ashdown School Board Member has been named the newest president of the Arkansas School Boards Association, ABSA. Ashdown School Board Member Rosa Bowman was officially “passed the gavel” to become the next ASBA President on Friday, Dec.11 during the organization’s Annual Conference in Little Rock.

There have only been a handful of women serve in this position and Bowman is also the first person of Latina heritage to serve. Bowman has a long history of service as a school board member and representative of the ABSA. She’s a recipient of the Platinum Award for completing 400 hours of in-service training. In 2019 and February 2020, Bowman traveled to Washington, D.C. representing ASBA and meet with national legislators from Arkansas.

The Arkansas School Boards Association is a private, nonprofit, membership organization that provides leadership, training, and advocacy to school boards across the state.

Bowman came to the United States at the age of 16 from her home country of Peru with the support of her family.  She graduated high school from Brigham City, Utah and attended college at New Mexico State. She met and married her husband Ricky Bowman in 1973. 1985, she graduated college with Ricky and their three children present.  She continued to teach Spanish at Ashdown Public Schools until 1990, then taught third grade in the elementary school and later Spanish and ESL at Ashdown High School and Ashdown Junior High School.  In 2004, she made the decision to quit teaching in the school system so she could run for the Ashdown School Board.She was elected and began serving on the Ashdown School Board in 2006.

Since 2010, Mrs. Bowman has served in various offices at the state level as she progressed until being eligible to serve as president this year.  She is currently holding the office of secretary on the local level.

Ashdown Public School Superintendent Casey Nichols said Ashdown Public Schools are “proud, honored, and blessed to have Mrs. Bowman serving on the local school board as well as the prestigious honor of presiding over the state board. She is dedicated to our students and staff and has such a heart to always make the best decisions for them. We appreciate all she does and will continue to do.”

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught shares info on state’s once in a decade redistricting   12/14/2020
Submitted by State Representative DeAnn Vaught

In her weekly update, State Representative DeAnn Vaught announced the 2021 Regular Session will conduct its once in a decade redistricting. Vaught represents Little River and portions of Sevier and Howard Counties in the Arkansas State Legislature.

Redistricting is an important part of American democracy and is required by law to be performed once every 10 years following the Federal Census.

In Arkansas there are two separate processes for redistricting.One process is redrawing legislative boundaries for our state senators and representatives. This is the responsibility of the Arkansas Board of Apportionment. The Board will be redrawing 100 State House &amp; 35 State Senate Districts so that each district meets various legal criteria, including each district being about the same size in population.

The other redistricting process is the responsibility of the Arkansas General Assembly. That includes drawing Arkansas’ four congressional districts.

Using census data, both chambers of the state legislature must approve a single redistricting plan next year.

As with state legislative districts, some congressional districts may expand geographic boundaries while others may shrink depending on population changes.

Districts over time may change demographically. That’s why it is important they are redrawn every ten years. The goal is to ensure each district has about the same number of people and reflects diverse communities.

Census bureau information is expected to be released in the spring. As a result, redistricting is typically one of the final items addressed toward the end of the session.

You can watch this process in real-time as we live stream all committee meetings.

The 2021 Regular Session begins January 11.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   12/14/2020

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

Sevier County reported a net decrease of four active cases since Friday, dropping the total to 74 confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total cases grew to 1,863 and deaths remained at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported a net decrease of 10 active cases. That leaves 18 reported active cases in the county. Total cases grew to 694 and deaths remained at 37.

Howard County saw a net increase of 15 active cases over the weekend, raising the current total to 72. Total confirmed and probable cases grew to 929. Deaths saw a single increase over the weekend and now total to 16.

Polk County reported 24 fewer cases over the weekend. There remain 138 confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total cases surpassed the 1,000 mark over the weekend and now number 1,020. Deaths remained at 19.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported three new active cases on Sunday. That raises the active case load in McCurtain County to 236. Total cases grew by 15 over the 24-hour period to total 2,499. Deaths remain at 48.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported 1,450 new cases on Sunday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to nearly 186,000 Arkansans who have caught COVID-19. Active positives saw a slight decrease on Sunday but remain at 21,395. That’s the highest level of active cases since the pandemic began. Deaths grew by 34 on Sunday to total 2,945. Deaths grew by 55 on Friday, marking the worst one-day death toll since the start of the outbreak. Hospitalizations decreased by 14 with 1,057 Arkansans still hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Muriel Wiley named new director of DQSC Chamber of Commerce   12/11/2020
The full audio interview is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

New Chamber Director – Muriel Wiley, a graduate of the University of Arkansas and an alum of KDQN, was recently hired as the new executive director of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce. She takes over the position from Suzanne Babb.

The new executive director of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce may not be a familiar face to everyone in the community, but her voice certainly will be. Muriel Wiley co-hosted the Morning Brew radio show here on KDQN for several years and also served as the station’s news director. She’s now following a different course as director of the chamber of commerce and towards community development. It’s a passion she’s long held and one which her time on the local air waves helped develop.

After KDQN Wiley took a volunteer opportunity with Create Bridges, a rural community development organization based out of the University of Arkansas. She was then hired on for a paid position and really sharpened her focus on, and skills towards, community development in rural areas.

Although a relative newcomer to the area, Wiley’s ties to Southwest Arkansas go back to her childhood. Growing up in Texas her family visited often to check up on the tree farm and family property they held near Nashville. She ended up moving here and then attending and graduating from UA Cossatot. She completed her degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She eventually moved to Denver where she worked in television production before coming to De Queen to take the position at KDQN.

Wiley said she quickly realized the importance of the local chamber of commerce and its role in the community. She set her sights on the director position when it came open earlier this year after the resignation of Suzanne Babb. And though she sees the importance of the chamber as a community organizer, Wiley said its most important mission has been and will remain the local business environment. A strong business community, Wiley stressed, translates into a strong overall community.

One of the missions Wiley has focused on since taking over the chamber position is coming up with ways to help businesses adapt during the current pandemic. Since COVID-19, online sales have skyrocketed while many traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have suffered. Even once the pandemic is over these changes are very likely to stay. Adapting with those changes in mind will be part of the keys to success in the future business environment

Towards that goal, Wiley worked with Keisha McKinney, the Create Bridges Group and Tiffany Maurer of the Sevier County Economic Development Office to develop the Shop Local Holiday Guide. This guide composes ideas, strategies and resources aimed at supporting retail store managers and restaurant owners in preparing for the holiday shopping season. It also aims at strengthening the ties between local businesses and shoppers. The guide is available at the chamber of commerce office in downtown De Queen.

Another goal of Wiley’s is to maintain the chamber’s role as the one-stop shop for information about De Queen, Sevier County and everything this area has to offer. The chamber is a vital institution, she said, not just for local businesses but the community as a whole. In effect, the chamber is the ambassador for Sevier County and its communities.

De Queen is a town that has a lot to offer. And Wiley’s hope is to share that message to make De Queen’s businesses stronger and the community an even better place to live.

Horatio students to return to onsite instruction Monday   12/11/2020

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Horatio students are expected to return for onsite instruction Monday after the elementary and high school campuses were closed this week due to COVID-19.

Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool announced the closures earlier this week due to the increased number of students and staff on mandatory quarantine or testing positive for COVID-19. Those cancellations also included Lions basketball games scheduled for this week.

This is the second time this school year that COVID-19 has forced the Horatio School District to modify some portion of its on-site instruction. In fact, students at Horatio Elementary School only returned to in-person learning last week following a closure throughout much of November due to the virus.

Students are set however to return for in-person learning on Monday for the last week of school before the Christmas holiday break.

Horatio is not the only school districting fighting against the rising COVID-19 caseload both locally and across the state. De Queen Elementary School was recently closed for a week due to the number of staff under mandatory quarantine.

The Arkansas Department of Health is reporting nearly 2,500 active cases in schools across the state. In the latest report, issued yesterday, Horatio School District was reporting eight active cases. Since the start of the school year the district has had a total of 36 confirmed active cases – 24 among students and 12 among staff. These totals do not, however, include probable active cases, anyone who is currently awaiting test results or those who have been placed under mandatory quarantine due to close proximity to an active case.

De Queen Public Schools is currently reporting nine similar active cases. That raises the total to 124 reported cases since school began – 91 among students and 32 among staff. Mena is reporting 23 active cases within its schools and 11 at Nashville.

Christmas and Candlelight repeats at HWSP tomorrow night  12/11/2020

WASHINGTON – It seems like everything is different in 2020 and Historic Washington State Park’s annual Christmas and Candlelight event is no different.  This year, instead of tours of the historic structures, the park had the structures decorated with the inside visible from outside. Many featured people in period costumes on the porches as if to welcome their 19th century Christmas guests. Musical entertainment was featured on the porches of the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches as well as at the Block House, the porch of Williams Tavern, and the Farmers Market Pavilion.  Williams Tavern was with a limited menu service or a special holiday meal featuring ham or turkey.

Christmas and Candlelight will be repeated this Saturday Dec. 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Again, Williams Tavern will be open 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. and meals will also be served in the 1940 WPA Gym.  Diners eating in the gym will need to bring cash as cards can’t be accepted there but will be at Williams Tavern.

The Night Hawk Band will be featured in the Farmers Market Pavilion Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Violinist Brenda Westerbuhr will be performing at the Block House. There will be music on the porch of the Williams Tavern from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Washington Methodist Church will feature flutist Jan Whatley and vocalist Haley Leleux on the porch at 5 p.m.  The Williams Family of Washington will sing afterwards.  Vocalist Tishara Arnett of Mineral Springs and the Hempstead County Melody Boys will also perform this Saturday evening.  In between the musical sets, the Silvey Family will offer a live nativity in the Methodist Church yard complete with live music and the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible by Washington resident Dan Ford.

Those attending are urged to practice social distancing.  The only buildings open will be Williams Tavern, the WPA Gym, and the 1874 Courthouse.

While in a building, persons will need to wear a face mask.

For information phone the park at 870-983-2684 or visit historicwashingtonstatepark.com

Senior citizen centers to begin distributing Christmas boxes Monday  12/11/2020

HORATIO – The Horatio and De Queen Senior Citizen Centers will begin distributing donations to a number of area homebound senior citizens starting Monday. The effort is being held through the agencies’ first-ever Christmas Box Drive in hopes of ensuring local senior citizens are not forgotten this Christmas.

Area residents are invited to donate items like socks, scarves, crossword books, toiletries, candy, non-perishable food and nearly any other items for these senior citizens. Donations can be dropped on Monday, Dec. 14 at either the Horatio or De Queen Senior Citizens Centers. Donations must be dropped off during the centers’ open hours, between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.

For more information contact Penny Morton at (870) 832-3640 or at 784-3515.

BBB offers tips on combating porch pirates this Christmas  12/11/2020

It’s the season for porch pirates.

With online shopping being the norm right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thieves are looking to strike this holiday season.

Even households with doorbell cameras often don’t deter porch pirates, as time after time cameras catch the thieves in action. This holiday season, it’s expected that a record number of packages will be delivered before New Year’s Day.

When it comes to protecting your packages, the Better Business Bureau suggests the best practice is tracking your packages. It doesn’t matter where you are shopping, on any website, there is a good chance you may be able to track your package through the carrier or the company that you purchased it from.

Also, try and get a notification when the package is delivered and get it right away, or have a neighbor grab it. It’s also a good idea to consider requesting a signature. While this package delivery feature will likely come with a fee, the delivery service won’t be able to leave a package exposed on a doorstep without your signature.

Also, ask yourself if you want to insure your package. If valuables are inside, this will protect you against loss or damage. If you know you won’t be home, consider picking up the package in the store or curbside. Another option is to have it delivered to your workplace.

When making purchases online, <strong>use your credit card</strong> rather than a debit card or another form of payment. Credit card companies are more likely to offer refunds in the event of theft.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures  12/11/2020

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported three more active cases yesterday, raising the total to 78. Total confirmed and probable cases grew by eight to 1,836. Recoveries grew by five to 1,738. Deaths remain at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported two fewer active cases for a total of 28. Total cases grew by three to 688 and deaths remained at 37.

Howard County reported two fewer active cases on Thursday. That leaves 57 confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total cases grew by five to 896. Deaths remain at 16.

Polk County reported 12 more active cases on Thursday. That raises the total of active cases in the county to 162. Total cases rose by 18 to 987. Deaths remain at 19.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported two new active cases on Thursday. In total, McCurtain County is reporting 206 active cases. Total cases rose by 15 to 2,434. Deaths increased by one over the previous 24-hour period to a total of 48.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported 2,202 new cases on Thursday. Cumulative cases in the state now total nearly 179,000. Active cases grew by 958 to a record-setting 19,723 cases in the county. Deaths increased by 34 to 2,820. Hospitalizations saw a sizable decrease, falling by 59 to 1,005.

Millions of dollars coming to SWAR for high-speed broadband   12/10/2020
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Millions of dollars in funding to increase high-speed internet access will be coming to Southwest Arkansas.

The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, announced this week the recipients of its first-phase of funding through the Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity program. The program is aimed at bringing high-speed broadband to rural areas of the country including here in Southwest Arkansas. The primary goal is providing broadband speeds of at least 100Mbps and up gigabit-speed broadband for the overwhelming majority of area residents.

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. Windstream is receiving a little over $8,000 for increased internet access in the county. Interestingly, the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation – more widely known as SpaceX – is receiving $1,500 to provide new service to three unnamed locations in Sevier.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. Space X is also receiving a small percentage of the funding as are Altice USA and Windstream. Together these projects will provide high-speed internet to nearly 2,700 currently unserved or under-served homes and businesses in Howard County.

Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties continue to see drop in unemployment rate   12/10/2020

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Newly released economic data shows Sevier County’s unemployment rate has marked another consecutive month of decline. That’s a strong silver lining given the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic and shows more and more Sevier County residents are finding employment.
The new data details Sevier County’s unemployment rate in October – the latest month for which data is available. The unemployment rate fell by a full percentage point from the previous month, dropping from 6.6 to the 5.6 percent recorded in October. That rate continues to remain below the state and national average, which totaled 6.2 and 6.9 percent respectively during the same month.

The strengthening economic picture in Sevier County is reflected in part by consistently strong, even record-breaking sales tax collections this year. That is likely due in large part to sales tax collections from online sales and on the increased focus on shopping local during the pandemic.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sevier County currently ranks 43 in the state for the lowest unemployment. Out of a work force of 5,427 people in Sevier County only 305 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 increasing among area residents.

Neighboring Little River County’s latest unemployment data shows the county is just behind Sevier with a rate of 5.9 percent. That ranks Little River 48<sup>th</sup> out of 75 Arkansas counties.

Howard County is ranked 12<sup>th</sup> in the state with an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent. Polk County ranks in the 48th spot with an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. For both Howard and Polk Counties, that’s a trend of decreasing unemployment rates since highs reached earlier this year – especially for Polk County, which recorded a unemployment rate of 7.1 percent in September.

Statewide Madison County reported the lowest unemployment rate of just 3.9 percent. Chicot County continues to report the highest rate in the state with 10.9 percent.

DHS receives grant from Exxon Mobile for math, science instruction   12/10/2020

Giving Back – David Blackmon, left, CEO of Blackmon Oil Company, presented a grant to De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders and De Queen High School for math and science instruction.

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School has received a grant to help students engage in the fields of math and science.

District officials announced the grant yesterday. The $500 award comes from the Exxon Mobile Educational Alliance program which received a nomination for De Queen High School during the grant open period. The donation will be used for the maintenance and support of De Queen High School in the areas of mathematics and science.

David Blackmon, president of Blackmon Oil Company, presented the grant award to De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders this week.

Sanders said Exxon Mobile has a long history of supporting educational programs at De Queen Public Schools. He added that the district is honored to receive the nomination for the local Tiger Mart team and said the gift is another example of our local community stepping up to help the De Queen Leopards family.

Today is last day to participate in Sevier County DHS foster child gift drive   12/10/2020

DE QUEEN – Today is the last day to participate in the annual project organized by the Sevier County Department of Human Services to provide gifts to all area foster children in-need.

The agency has been reaching out and seeking the community’s help in ensuring all foster children in Sevier County receive a gift this Christmas.

Organizers are asking anyone interested to contact them by the end of today to request a child or children to sponsor this Christmas. The Department of Human Services will provide volunteers with information specific to each child. Gifts should be dropped off at the office by the end of business today.

For more information, contact the Sevier County Children and Family Services staff at 642-2082.

Panther Varsity Cheer going to state competition   12/10/2020

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown Varsity Panther Cheer team will be heading to the state cheer competition later this month. The team will be competing in a variety of events during the competition on Saturday, Dec. 19 in Hot Springs. The Panthers will compete in Session 2 starting at 11:50 that morning.

As with pretty much everything else this year, COVID-19 has changed some things about this year’s competition. Tickets can be purchased through the Go Fan link provided on the Facebook page of Ashdown Varsity Panther Cheer.

Due to capacity restrictions, AAA passes will not be accepted for state cheer. Each school in this session is allotted 55 tickets to sell to spectators. There is a two ticket per transaction limit on the tickets.

If you purchase your GoFan tickets using a computer, your tickets will be delivered to the email address you entered when purchasing. You can also download the GoFan mobile app (Apple users only) and login using this email to access your tickets.
This event is a mobile entry event–tickets must be presented on a smart phone for entry. Printed tickets will not be accepted.

All unsold tickets per session will be available to the public Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 8 a.m. at GoFan.com.

The event will also be live streamed via NFHS Network. <a href=”https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/associations/aaa?fbclid=IwAR3HIPqqwEzpqkkNxFu9s-sjx_vo9zvsK7RMLhqyXh3zy_NW3bDObYQf_Rg”>https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/associations/aaa</a>
Face masks will be required.

Arkansas to offer Private Land Antlerless Deer Hunt at end of December   12/10/2020

Submitted by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Arkansans looking for one last chance to bag a deer at the end of the current season will have three additional days to take a doe after the Modern Gun Christmas Holiday Hunt. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission unanimously voted in May to move the Private Land Antlerless Only Deer Hunt from the middle of October to the last days of December in hopes to increase participation in the hunt.

Established in 2012, AGFC officials say the hunt has seen limited participation throughout the state. The move to the cool weather of the late season is an effort to increase doe harvest — the initial reason for the hunt’s creation.

The early season was also an attempt to encourage the harvest of more doe and to protect more button bucks. Many of these yearlings will still be with the does and hunters would easily be able to differentiate the smaller button buck from the older doe and choose the latter.
The move to the end of the calendar year also enables more families to enjoy the hunt at a time when youth and college-aged students are out of classes and many people are already visiting family for the holiday season.

The Christmas gun hunt will still take place Dec. 26-28. The Private Land Antlerless Only Deer Hunt however will add a few additional doe-only days to fill a tag.


Sevier County Sheriff’s Office releases November update   12/10/2020

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Sheriffs Office has released its update detailing activities for the month of November:

Deputies clocked a total of 1,633 hours on duty during the month.

Total miles driven by deputies were nearly 18,000 with 1,243 gallons of fuel used.

Deputies received a total of 158 calls, including 13 motor vehicle accidents, 73 traffic stops, five citations, 73 warnings and 13 arrests.

A total of 59 civil papers were served. 852 building checks were made throughout the month.

Investigators opened two sexual assault cases and closed a theft case while recovering the stolen property.

ADH updates COVID-19 figures, additional deaths reported in Howard, Polk Counties   12/10/2020

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported four fewer active cases yesterday, dropping that total to 75. Total confirmed and probable cases grew by eight to 1,828. Recoveries grew by 12 to 1,733. Deaths remain at 20.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported four more active cases on Wednesday, raising the total to 30. Total cases grew by five to 685 while deaths remained at 37.

In Howard County reported one additional death on Wednesday. The total of Howard County residents who have contracted the virus and died now numbers 16. Active cases grew by four to 59. Cumulative cases grew by eight to 891.

Polk County reported another death on Wednesday for a total of 19 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw an increase of 13 after dropping for several consecutive days. Total cases rose by 22 to 969.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported three new active cases on Wednesday, raising the total of confirmed and probable active cases in McCurtain County to 204. Total cases grew by 15 to 2,419. Deaths remain at 47.

Across Arkansas, state health officials reported 2,327 new cases yesterday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to 176,652 Arkansans. Active cases grew by a net total of 305 to 18,765. Deaths increased by 34 to 2,786. Hospitalizations saw a decrease of 17 to 1,064.

 

De Queen Public Schools informs students, parents and staff of new COVID-19 guidelines   12/09/2020

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools are informing students, parents and staff of new guidelines regarding COVID-19 quarantine procedures.

The guidelines were forwarded by the Arkansas Department of Health and made official by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, on Dec. 2.

Those CDC guidelines shorten the quarantine recommendations for Arkansans who have COVID-19 but show no symptoms related to the virus. The guidelines outline the safest procedure includes a full 14-day quarantine at home. However, quarantine can end after 10 days with no follow-up testing as long as symptoms are not present and the individual takes precautions. Quarantine can end after seven days if the individual has received a negative PCR test and is continuing to take precautions and show no symptoms.

If at any time during quarantine the close contact develops symptoms of COVID-19, they should immediately isolate and be tested for COVID-19. This is even if they previously had a negative test during the quarantine period

.
The Arkansas Department of Health prefers the use of PCR tests for testing of close contacts during quarantine. However, antigen tests may be used with the understanding that the risk of post-quarantine transmission is higher than with a PCR test.

All individuals who meet those guidelines and come out of quarantine prior to day 14 need to adhere strictly to other measures to reduce spread. Those include masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, monitoring symptoms and reducing social activities. For parents and staff needing more information or to report exposure or close contact to COVID-19, the De Queen Public Schools Point of Contact can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 642-5488.

De Queen man charged with rape, aggravated assault   12/09/2020

DE QUEEN – A De Queen man is facing felony rape and assault charges in relation to an incident which is alleged to have occurred earlier this year.

According to court records, Timothy Charles May, a 51-year-old resident of De Queen, was officially charged on Dec. 4 with the felony offense of rape and aggravated assault. The charges stem from an incident that prosecutors allege occurred on Oct. 15 during an assault on a family member in Sevier County.

If convicted, the Class Y Felony Rape offense carries a sentence of 10 to 40 years in prison and fines up to $15,000. The aggravated assault charge carries a sentence of up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

May’s bond has been set at $100,000 and he remains in detention in the Sevier County Jail.

Sevier County reports two additional COVID-19 deaths over 24-hour period   12/09/2020

DE QUEEN – Turning now to 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 Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported two additional deaths on Tuesday due to COVID-19. These are the first deaths reported in Sevier in over a month and raise the county’s death toll from the virus to 20. Active cases did see a slight decrease, on a positive note, falling by three to 79. Cumulative confirmed and probable cases increased by nine to 1,820.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported three fewer active cases on Tuesday, dropping the total to 26. Total cases grew by eight to 680 while deaths remained at 37.

In Howard County, confirmed and probable active cases rose by five case over the past 24 hours. That leaves 55 active cases in Howard County. Cumulative cases grew by 12 to 883. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County reported a decrease of four active cases yesterday. That leaves 137 confirmed and probable active cases in Polk County. Total cases grew by 11 to 947 while deaths remained at 18.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported six fewer active cases for a current total of 201. Cumulative cases rose by nine to 2,404. Deaths remain at 47.

IRS warns of COVID-19 stimulus scam   12/09/2020

LITTLE ROCK – The IRS is warning people to be aware of a new text message scam. The thief’s goal is to trick people into revealing bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment.

Here’s how this scam works:

People get a text message saying they have “received a direct deposit of $1,200 from the COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment… Continue here to accept this payment …” The text includes a link to a phishing web address.
This fake link appears to come from a state agency or relief organization. It takes people to a fake website that looks like the IRS.gov Get My Payment website. If people visit the fake website and enter their personal and financial account information, the scammers collect it.

Here’s what people should do if they receive this message:
Anyone who receives this scam text should take a screenshot and include the screenshot in an email to phishing@irs.gov with the following information:
Date/time/time zone that they received the text message and the phone number that received the text message.

The IRS doesn’t send unsolicited texts or emails. The agency will never demand immediate payment using a gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer or threaten to have a taxpayer arrested.

De Queen passes city budget, number of projects planned for 2021   12/09/2020

DE QUEEN – The City of De Queen will be funded for another year. That’s after the city council met last week to formally vote on and authorize the De Queen’s 2021 budget.

Overall, the city will be looking at a fairly straightforward budget with total expenditures slightly over $4.1 million. That’s around $400,000 more than the current year’s budget.

One of the big projects that will be funded in 2021 is the replacement of the bridge west of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office on Robinson Road. A state inspection earlier this year determined the bridge would need to be replaced or risk a state-mandated closure. That project is estimated to cost around $300,000 to complete. The budget also includes $285,000 for the city’s 2021 street program.

Other sizeable projects include $95,000 for new playground equipment at the Herman Dierks Park. This money, however, is coming from a trust established by the family of Herman Dierks Park years ago. The parks department also asked for an additional $10,000 to install a new swing system at the De Queen Sportsplex.

The De Queen Police Department will receive an additional officer position and $30,000 to purchase and supply officers with new AR-15 rifles. The department has a stash of Vietnam-era M-16 rifles but Simmons said these are completely worn out. Most officers, Simmons said, elect to purchase their own for on-duty use.

The De Queen Fire Department received $300,000 to purchase a used fire truck. This would replace the department’s oldest unit, which can no longer pass inspection. Mayor Jeff Brown said the city’s ISO rating – which affects the price of housing insurance within the city limits – would be negatively impacted if the old truck is not replaced. The truck purchased may cost lower than the budgeted amount, said Brown. But the $300,000 provided will give fire fighters flexibility during the purchasing process.

Lastly, the budget includes a 75-cent raise for each city employee. New hires will also start off at a raised amount of $13 per hour. That would be increased to $14 per hour following a probation period. City officials hope the wage increase will make city positions more competitive and cut-down on turnover among city employees.

Finally, Brown provided a plaque honoring the public service of Teresa Bunyard. Bunyard has served on the De Queen City Council for the past two decades and will be leaving office in January. We’ll be bringing you more on that story at a later date.

De Queen Public Schools announces Christmas breaks schedule   12/09/2020

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools are informing parents of the upcoming holiday break schedule. All De Queen students will be released at 1 p.m. on Dec. 17 and 18 with Dec. 18 being the last day of class before the Christmas break. Due to the last start of this school year, the first semester will end on Jan. 15.

Virtual students who want to return for on-site for onsite instruction for the spring 2021 semester need to contact their school principal to begin that process.

For more information contact the De Queen Administration office at 584-4312.

Sevier County Quorum Court to meet Dec. 14, discuss liquor sales   12/09/2020

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet for its regularly scheduled monthly session on Monday, Dec. 14.

Items on the agenda include an update from the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. In addition, justices of the peace will review several months of financial records provided by David Boone Ministries, which administers several senior citizen centers in Sevier County.
In addition, Muriel Wiley from the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to provide an update. Attorney Kaylen Lewis will speak about an ordinance regarding liquor sales in the county.

Finally, the quorum court will hear a request to re-appoint Joan Moore to the Sevier County Library Board and Dr. Randy Walker to the Sevier County Airport Board.

The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. and is open to the public.

Horatio High School, Elementary School closed this week due to COVID-19      12/08/20

HORATIO – The Horatio School District will close its elementary and high school campuses the rest of this week due to growing COVID-19 cases among students and staff.

Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool announced last night that the district had made the difficult decision to temporarily close the High School and Elementary School to onsite instruction starting today and continuing through Dec. 11. The closure was made necessary he said due to an increased number of students and staff on mandatory quarantine or testing positive for COVID-19 exposure. The districts basketball games for this week will be rescheduled. Vanderpool said in-person classes on both campuses are expected to resume next Monday, Dec. 14.

This is the second time this school year that COVID-19 has forced the Horatio School District to modify some portion of its on-site instruction. In fact, students at Horatio Elementary School only returned to in-person learning last Tuesday following a closure throughout much of November due to the virus.

According to the recently revised Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) guidelines, individuals having close-contact must be quarantined for 7 days after a negative test or 10 days without testing and without symptoms. Vanderpool said those guidelines necessitate the closing of both campuses to remain in compliance.

The district’s Point Of Contact has contacted or is in the process of contacting other staff or students directly related to the COVID exposures.

In a statement, Vanderpool said that though the districts realize this school closure may cause hardship for some of Lions families, at the same time Horatio students and staff have worked for quite some time in preparation of this scenario. He said the district is fully versed regarding technology and procedures for a pivot to a completely online learning environment. Vanderpool added that he fully expects the district’s students to continue learning remotely and teachers to be engaged with students.

School officials will be preparing student breakfasts and lunch this week at both campuses. Lunches may be picked up in front of each cafeteria between 11 a.m. and 12 noon.

 

CHRISTUS St. Michael prepping for COVID-19 vaccine distribution      12/08/20

CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System announced it is preparing to receive, manage and distribute the COVID-19 vaccine internally to health care workers in the coming days and weeks. The Texarkana-based hospital employs a number of residents from the local area.
In a statement Dr. Loren K. Robinson, Vice-President for Medical Affairs at Christus St. Michael, said the hospital is confident the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. Dr. Robinson added that the use of vaccines has been a key part of combating and even eradicating certain diseases for generations. Though there is still a way to go, she said the vaccine hopefully represents the beginning of the end of COVID-19.

CHRISTUS Health has a well-established process in place for reviewing the safety and efficacy of new drugs to evaluate any COVID-19 vaccines that receive emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA. The hospital’s COVID-19 Taskforce is evaluating and planning for the storage and distribution of the vaccine across Northeast Texas.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all health care workers at CHRISTUS facilities, but is not mandatory. Similar to many vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine will be given in two doses: an initial injection and then a booster shot, normally 21-28 days later. Research from the pharmaceutical company and CHRISTUS Health’s COVID-19 Task Force indicates minor side effects similar to the flu shot, such as low-grade fever and redness or slight pain at the injection site are possible.

Officials in Arkansas are also preparing for the rollout of the new COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Jose Romero, Arkansas Health Secretary, said last week the vaccine is scheduled to go before the FDA on Dec. 10 for emergency use authorization. He stressed this is not FDA approval but authorization to begin distributing the newly developed vaccine.

Once that authorization is granted, Romero said Arkansas could begin seeing its first vaccine shipments in 24-48 hours. That means vaccines could arrive as early as the end of this week. Those initial vaccinations will be set aside for healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations in Arkansas.

After more than 200,000 health care workers in the state are vaccinated, Dr. Romero said vaccines would be administered to residents in assisted living facilities followed by essential workers, residents more than 65 years old and lastly, the general public. Vaccines for the general public will likely not be available until the second or third quarter of the year, Romero added.

Bond set for Ashdown murder suspects      12/08/20

ASHDOWN – Bond has been set for two Little River County residents suspected of murdering a man at his home in October.

According to court records, Cheleka Johnson and Corey Garfield recently appeared before the Ninth West Judicial Circuit Court for their formal bond hearing and arraignment. Garfield’s bond was set at $250,000 and $150,000 for Johnson.

Both suspects were arrested in Little Rock in late November after search spanning more than a month. According to the Ashdown Police Department, Garfield and Johnson are both suspects in the murder of 48-year-old Dennis Graves. Graves was found in his driveway on Oct. 6 suffering from a single gunshot wound. A police office provided medical treatment on the scene but Graves later died in an area hospital.

Authorities in Little Rock found both suspects at a hotel in the city following a tip received by the Arkansas State Police. Both were arrested without incident.

The Ashdown Police Department said it is thankful to the Little River County Sheriff’s Office, the Texarkana Police Department, the Arkansas Community Corrections Special Response Team and the Little Rock Police Department for their assistance in the investigation and apprehension of the two suspects.

A possible motive for the murder has not been identified.

Both Johnson and Garfield have been charged with first-degree murder and are currently being held in jail as they await their next court appearance.

 

Christmas and Candlelight continues this Saturday at Historic Washington State Park      12/08/20

WASHINGTON – It seems like everything is different in 2020 and Historic Washington State Park’s annual Christmas and Candlelight event is no different.  This year, instead of tours of the historic structures, the park had the structures decorated with the inside visible from outside. Many featured people in period costumes on the porches as if to welcome their 19th century Christmas guests. Musical entertainment was featured on the porches of the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches as well as at the Block House, the porch of Williams Tavern, and the Farmers Market Pavilion.  Williams Tavern was with a limited menu service or a special holiday meal featuring ham or turkey.

Christmas and Candlelight will be repeated this Saturday Dec. 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Again, Williams Tavern will be open 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. and meals will also be served in the 1940 WPA Gym.  Diners eating in the gym will need to bring cash as cards can’t be accepted there but will be at Williams Tavern.

The Night Hawk Band will be featured in the Farmers Market Pavilion Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Violinist Brenda Westerbuhr will be performing at the Block House. There will be music on the porch of the Williams Tavern from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Washington Methodist Church will feature flutist Jan Whatley and vocalist Haley Leleux on the porch at 5 p.m.  The Williams Family of Washington will sing afterwards.  Vocalist Tishara Arnett of Mineral Springs and the Hempstead County Melody Boys will also perform this Saturday evening.  In between the musical sets, the Silvey Family will offer a live nativity in the Methodist Church yard complete with live music and the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible by Washington resident Dan Ford.
Those attending are urged to practice social distancing.  The only buildings open will be Williams Tavern, the WPA Gym, and the 1874 Courthouse.
While in a building, persons will need to wear a face mask.

For information phone the park at 870-983-2684 or visit historicwashingtonstatepark.com

De Queen/Sevier County Chamber announces 2020 Christmas parade winners     12/08/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of the first-ever “Tour of Lights” reverse Christmas Parade held in De Queen this past Saturday.

The drive-thru Christmas Parade featured floats, Christmas scenes and other displays set up along a route through the Herman Dierks Park. The parade was organized in a drive-thru fashion this year to help protect area residents and volunteers, and to ensure state health guidelines over COVID-19 were followed.

Chamber officials said that, while participation was cut short due to last minute quarantine among parade groups, those that did show up provided a fantastic evening. Organizers estimate over 600 cars drove through during the event. Organizers said at one point traffic spanned from Farm Bureau all the way to Sixth Street and that Herman Dierks Park had likely never seen so much traffic.

Despite the change in format this year, organizers nonetheless kept some of the traditions from past parades including prizes for winners in each category. This year’s winners included, in the commercial category, Kindred at Home with first place, Ben’s Plumbing with second place and Pilgrim’s Pride with third place.

Low Locs Car Club received first place in the non-religious category while Lofton Family Clinic took first in the antique cars division. The De Queen High School Color Guard received the first-place prize in the marching groups category.
Chamber officials said prize checks will be mailed out to the winners later this week.

Donation drive underway for homebound seniors in Sevier County     12/08/20

HORATIO – There are many ways to help the less fortunate in our community this Christmas. There are programs to help children and families in need as well as individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But local community organizers say it’s vital this year not to forget Sevier County’s senior citizens this Christmas season.

The Horatio and De Queen Senior Citizen Centers have teamed up to ensure homebound senior citizens in the community aren’t forgotten. Both centers have organized a Christmas Box drive to deliver necessities, food and gifts to senior citizens in Sevier County.

Penny Morton with the Horatio Senior Citizens Center said the agency has 45 Sevier County senior citizens are homebound, meaning they have no ability to leave their home without assistance. It’s these 31 women and 14 men who will receive donations through the new program.
Area residents are invited to donate items like socks, scarves, crossword books, toiletries, candy, non-perishable food and nearly any other items for these senior citizens. Donations can be dropped off now through Dec. 14 at either the Horatio or De Queen Senior Citizens Centers. Donations must be dropped off during the centers’ open hours, between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday at both sites.

The Horatio Senior Citizens Center is located at 1106 McCoy Drive while the De Queen center is located on 605 E. Haes Avenue behind Pruett’s Foods.

Boxes will be delivered Dec. 14-18.

Penny said the senior citizens center has already seen tremendous support from the community through this donation drive. Businesses, community groups, churches and even area school children have stepped up to ensure our senior citizens are not forgotten this Christmas.
For more information contact Penny at (870) 832-3640 or at 784-3515.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; two additional deaths reported in Polk County      12/08/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to 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 Dept. of Health:Sevier County reported an increase of two active cases on Monday, raising the number of confirmed and probable active cases to a total of 82. Cumulative cases rose by 11 to 1,811. Deaths remain at 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported five fewer active cases on Monday, dropping the total to 29. Total cases remained unchanged at 672 and deaths at 37.

In Howard County, active cases rose by a single reported case over the past 24 hours. That leaves 50 confirmed and probable active cases in Howard County. Cumulative cases grew by five to 871. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County reported two additional deaths over the past 24 hours due to COVID-19 complications. That raises the death toll from the virus in Polk County to 18. That’s an increase of 13 or nearly 200 percent in a little over a month. That’s likely due to the high level of infections in Polk County in recent weeks. Polk County went from having one of the lowest levels of infection earlier this year to an outbreak which continues to make an impact in the county. Currently, there are 141 active cases in Polk County. That is, however, a drop of 11 cases over the previous 24 hours. Cumulative cases grew by nine to 936 since the start of the pandemic.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County four fewer active cases on Monday for a new total of 207. Total cases now number 2,395 while deaths remain at 47.

Across the state, an additional 1,118 cases were reported on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of infections to slightly over 172,000 since the start of the outbreak. Active cases decreased by around 700 cases to now number slightly above 18,000. Deaths however saw their highest single-day increase on Monday with 53 Arkansans having died from COVID-19 over the previous 24-hour period. That raises the state’s death toll to 2,713. Hospitalizations dropped by 23 with 1,053 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the high death count reported among Arkansas’ friends and neighbors yesterday is a tragic reminder to follow the public health guidelines each day.

Chalice Cupboard to hold food distribution in De Queen     12/08/20

DE QUEEN – The Chalice Cupboard will be distributing food boxes on Friday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. at the 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.  The boxes will be distributed to the first 150 people.  There will be one box per automobile.  Drivers will be asked to pop their trunk so that the box can be placed inside.

Organizers ask that you do not get out of your automobile to ensure the safety of volunteers and recipients.

*IMPORTANT BUSINESS NOTICE* from the Arkansas Secretary of State12/08/20

The Arkansas Tax Reform Act of 2019 transferred the administration and collection of all franchise taxes in the State of Arkansas from the Arkansas Secretary of State (SOS) to the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA). In agreement with the SOS, the DFA will acquire the Arkansas Franchise Tax Section on January 1, 2021 with the first tax report due May 1, 2021 for all corporations as per the Act. For more information, please visit the DFA website at www.dfa.arkansas.gov/franchisetax.

Please note: The SOS Business and Commercial Services Office will be closing at 12:00 noon on December 30th to complete the transfer to DFA and will reopen on January 4, 2021. Any company wanting to dissolve before the end of the year must do so prior to this time. If you have any questions, you can contact the Business and Commercial Services division at 501-682-3409 or by visiting our website at www.sos.arkansas.gov.

DES students return to onsite instruction today after campus COVID-19 closure      12/07/20

DE QUEEN – De Queen elementary students return to on-site instruction today for the first time in over two weeks. District officials had announced last month the need to close the campus due to COVID-19 exposure and quarantine affecting a number of the elementary school’s support personnel.

The campus was closed all last week as employees completed the state-mandated quarantine period. The campus was closed the week before for the Thanksgiving holiday break. District officials said the campus was thoroughly sanitized in preparation for the return on onsite instruction today. During the week the elementary school’s students participated instead via the district’s virtual learning program.
The temporary closure marked the first because of COVID-19 since the school year began. With cases on the rise both locally as well as across the nation and state, Superintendent Jason Sanders has said it was natural COVID-19 would eventually make such an impact on the local school system as well.

The Arkansas Department of Health issues two reports each week detailing the level of COVID-19 exposure within Arkansas school districts reporting five or more active cases. The latest report, issued Dec. 2, shows De Queen Public Schools currently reporting eight active cases. This report however does not list probable active cases, results from pending tests or students who have not tested positive but have been isolated due to potential exposure to the virus. So far this school year, the district has confirmed 83 cases among students and 29 among staff.

De Queen is not the only area school forced to recently modify its instruction due to COVID-19. Horatio Elementary School transitioned to a complete virtual learning format for a significant period of November due to exposure among students and staff. The campus did return to onsite instruction last week.

A couple of other area schools were featured on the latest state health report with five or more active cases. That includes Mena with 19 confirmed current active cases and nine within the Kirby School District. In total, the state is reporting nearly 1,800 active cases in school districts across the country.

In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the De Queen School District, school officials are reminding all parents, guardians and employees of the district’s designated Point of Contact system. District officials say the Point of Contact should be contacted immediately by guardians and employees if someone in their household has tested positive for COVID-19 or if someone in their household has come into close contact with a positive case.

The Point of Contact should also be contacted if a student or staff member is requiring quarantine or has been recommended to get tested for COVID-19. Students and staff who are being tested for COVID-19 should remain in quarantine pending results of their test.Parents and guardians can contact the De Queen School District’s Point of Contact 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 642-5488.

Winthrop man killed at Pearl Harbor finally laid to rest near childhood home      12/07/20

This is a re-broadcast of the story we produced last month. Today is the 79th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The full audio story is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

A local sailor killed in action nearly 80 years ago has finally made it home after a burial ceremony in November.

Samuel “Cyrus” Steiner was officially laid to rest on Saturday, Nov. 21 at Campground Cemetery near his childhood home near Winthrop.

Born in 1921, Steiner grew up on the family farm and, according to his obituary, sacrificed two years of school to work and support his family during the Great Depression. Steiner returned to school at Foreman High School and played tackle for the Gators football team. He left school in his senior year to enlist in the U.S. Navy.

As a Fireman First Class, he served aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma. He was on the great ship as she lay in anchor at Pearl Harbor during those fateful morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941. It was a quiet morning interrupted by one of the most tragic moments in American history.
The Oklahoma was one of eight battleships moored in Pearl Habor when the Japanese launched their surprise attack, drawing America into the Second World War. Several torpedoes launched from aircraft struck the vessel. A gaping chasm formed in the hull, causing the ship to capsize. 429 of her 1,400-man crew perished in minutes. Steiner was one of those victims.

Like many aboard the USS Oklahoma, Steiner was declared Lost at Sea and formally stated “to have lost his life in the service of his country.” He was awarded the Purple Heart, American Defense Service and WWII Victory medals. He was just 20-years-old.
In contrast to most of the other battleships stationed at Pearl Harbor, the Oklahoma was so damaged she was never returned to service. The severe damage also made identifying the remains of the fallen sailors so difficult. Only 35 of the 429 sailors and Marines killed aboard the Oklahoma were identified in the years following the attack.

In 1950, all unidentified remains from the ship were buried in caskets at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. In 2015 the Department of Defense began a project to identify the remains of servicemen and women interned in those unknown graves. Steiner’s remains were officially identified earlier this year and properly buried near his hometown on Saturday.

A detachment from the U.S. Navy provided military burial rites during the ceremony. For the family, the nearly eight decades since the attack on Pearl Harbor was one of no true closure. But Steiner is back home where he can be closely remembered and honored for his service to the Navy and the nation.

Ashdown Christmas Parade tonight; AHS Christmas Concerts tomorrow      12/07/20

ASHDOWN – The Little River County Chamber of Commerce will kick off the season tonight with its annual Christmas Parade. The parade will start at 6 p.m. this evening and proceed around the Little River Courthouse and through the downtown area. For more information, contact the chamber of commerce at (870) 898-2758.

Ashdown Public Schools are also gearing up to hold their annual Christmas Concerts tomorrow night. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the necessity of limiting capacity, the concern will be split into two events on Tuesday, Dec. 8. The Ashdown Junior High School Band will perform at 6 p.m. with Ashdown High School band members to perform at 7 p.m. The event will be held in the Helen Parker Gym. Masks and social distancing are required.

AGFC offers great gift ideas for Arkansas’ outdoor enthusiasts     12/07/20

With online outlets taking over much of the shopping experience this year, many people may find it more difficult than ever to purchase a gift for the outdoors enthusiast in their life. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission may have just what you’re looking for to brighten their Christmas morning.

One of the best gifts youc an get an Arkansas outdoor lover is a subscription to the AGFC’s award-winning magazine,  Arkansas Wildlife.

Arkansas Wildlife is one of the country’s best conservation magazines and is chock-full of great photographs and interesting stories about the state’s natural resources. Subscription rates are $12 for a single year, $20 for two years and $25 for three years. The popular <em>Arkansas Wildlife</em>calendar is part of the subscription.

Visit www.agfc.com/ArkansasWildlife to view sample articles from the magazine, purchase gift subscriptions or buy a subscription for yourself.

Keep ‘em Legal
It may not be as shiny and sparkly as a new deer rifle or shotgun for the duck woods, but a gift certificate for an Arkansas hunting or fishing license is one of the best gifts for that hard-to-buy outdoors enthusiast on your list, and you’ll be contributing to the state’s wildlife resources at the same time.

At only $10.50, a basic resident Arkansas hunting license is one of the least expensive in the country. With that license, a person may hunt any small game and take a single deer by whichever legal method they choose. For only $25, however, the hunter on your Christmas list will be entitled to all game species, including bear and turkey, and will be allowed the full statewide season bag limit of six deer.

Gift certificates for fishing licenses are just as reasonable. For $10.50, you can give a gift certificate that will cover all of a resident angler’s needs for the year. If they’re a trout angler, just add on $10 to cover the resident trout permit.

Perhaps the best part about getting a license is knowing you’re helping put money back into conservation. Not only do the funds from license sales go directly to conservation work throughout the state, but with every license purchase, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is able to bring to Arkansas a greater share of federal funding.

To purchase a gift certificate, just go to www.agfc.com, and click the green bar at the top of the page that says “Buy Licenses | Check Game.”

While you’re at a nature center, the AGFC has an even better offer for the waterfowl-focused gift buyer. While supplies last, anyone who purchases a waterfowl license or stamp at an AGFC nature center will receive a free softcover copy of Brent Birch’s book, “The Grand Prairie.”  This book, written by the co-founder of the Arkansas Waterfowler Hall of Fame in Stuttgart, is filled with the tales of famous duck camps, duck callers and the rich history of waterfowl hunting in Arkansas.

The book, valued at $55, would be a welcome sight to any duck hunter interested in the motivation that drives normal men and women to stand in freezing water and pray for rainy holiday weather. For more information about the book, visit < www.arkansasgrandprairie.com

 

De Queen Salvation Army still calling for Bell-Ringing volunteers     12/07/20

DE QUEEN – The 2020 Bell-Ringing Campaign of the Salvation Army is underway in De Queen and still accepting volunteers.

This has been a challenging year, but financial assistance is still being provided through the local Salvation Army unit. The Salvation Army distributes thousands of dollars to individuals and families each year to help with needs for food, gas, medications, utilities, rent, fire recovery and more. That makes the Salvation Army one of the major sources of aid in our community. And so much of that support is made possible through donations made during the Bell-Ringing Campaign.
Volunteers are needed to ring bells through Dec. 24. Groups, businesses, churches, clubs, friends, as well as individuals and/or families are all welcome to participate. Groups that include children are especially effective. Needed are both those who have rung before and those who will be ringing for the first time.

The sole location this year for bellringing is Walmart.

Safety protocols will be followed — ringers will wear a face mask, stand behind the kettle (a recommended 6 feet), wear gloves and the kettles and bells will be sanitized regularly. To schedule a time to volunteer, call Rachel Bradshaw at (870) 200-0420 or the Salvation Army store at 642-3463.

Prime times are filling now so it is important to act quickly to get a group or individual name on the list for pickup and returning supplies.

Nearly every cent raised by the bellringing stays with the local unit and is used in De Queen and Sevier County to assist those in need.

Bellringers have remarked that volunteering is a guaranteed way to provide a sense of one’s life blessings; create a feeling of well-being in knowing the effort helps feed, house and warm local residents; gain a sense of humility by those who stop to donate; and the fun of seeing friends and acquaintances while ringing.Call to experience this, and for those who can’t serve as a bellringer, remember to say thanks to those who do and make a donation in the kettle. It’s one of the things we all can do to make Sevier County a better place to live.

 

State parks to reduce hours of operation due to COVID-19      12/07/20

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas tourism officials have announced visitor information centers, museums, restaurants and two marinas at Arkansas State Parks will see a reduction of operating hours in response to the recent statewide increase in COVID-19 cases.

Visitor information centers and museums will now operate five days a week – focusing on staying open during busiest days. Contactless check-in for camping and cabin rentals has been in place for months and will continue.

In a statement Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst said, “Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s parks system, adjustments must be made in order to ensure that the most-used amenities and facilities continue to be available to the public during the days and hours they use them the most.”

Hurst said that the safety of guests and staff is paramount. She added that these measures will allow state parks to continue offering the park experience and do it in a safe way.

State park restaurants will remain open but with reduced seating capacity. Buffets remain closed but carry out meals will still be available. Cabins, campgrounds, and lodges across the park system will remain open and continue to welcome guests.

The marinas at DeGray Lake Resort State Park and Lake Ouachita State Park will offer restricted service through February 2021. This is traditionally the slowest time of year for these facilities and marina users can contact the park office if assistance is needed.

PPE for all staff and cleaning regimens based on CDC recommendations will continue at all Arkansas state parks. The statewide mask mandate will be enforced as directed, and rangers will continue to encourage social distancing.

Localized conditions could lead to a further reduction of hours for some park facilities. Please refer to the COVID-19 updates on www.ArkansasStateParks.com for updated information.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Polk County reports four additional deaths over weekend      12/07/20

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

Sevier County reported a net increase of six active cases since Friday, raising the total of 80 currently confirmed and probable active cases. Total cases rose by 39 over the weekend to a current total of 1,800. Recoveries grew to 1,702. Deaths remain at 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported a net decrease of five active cases over the weekend. That leaves 39 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Little River County. Total cases rose to 672 while deaths remained at 37.

In Howard County, active cases rose by a net seven cases since Friday. That leaves 49 active cases in the county. Total cases grew by 22 over the same period to a total of 866. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County reported an increase of four deaths over the weekend due to COVID-19 complications. That raises the county’s COVID-19 death toll to 16 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw a slight net decrease to a currently total of 152. Total cases now number 927.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported six additional active cases on Sunday. That raises the total to 211 currently confirmed and probable active cases in McCurtain County. Deaths increased by one on Sunday to 47 since the pandemic began.

Across the state, an additional 1,542 new cases were reported in Arkansas on Sunday. That’s a lower total than the back-to-back record single-day case growth seen on Thursday and Friday. In total, nearly 171,000 Arkansans have contracted COVID-19 since early spring. Deaths saw their highest one-day increase on Sunday, rising by 40 to 2,660. Active cases also grew to their highest level on record with nearly 19,000 confirmed and probable active cases across Arkansas. Hospitalizations rose by 20 on Sunday, leaving 1,076 Arkansans still hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state officials held a COVID-19 Taskforce update yesterday to describe new CDC quarantine guidelines now in effect in Arkansas. Those CDC guidelines shorten the quarantine recommendations for Arkansans who have COVID-19 but show no symptoms related to the virus. The guidelines outline the safest procedure includes a full 14-day quarantine at home. However, quarantine can end after 10 days with no follow-up testing as long as symptoms are not present and the individual takes precautions. Quarantine can end after seven days if the individual has received a negative PCR test and are continuing to take precautions and show no symptoms.

Other guidelines still remain in effect including Arkansas’ executive order mandating the wearing of face masks by everyone 10 and older when in public settings. Restaurant capacity continues to be limited to 66 percent.

 

“Tour of Lights” reverse Christmas parade in De Queen tomorrow night      12/04/20

DE QUEEN – The annual De Queen Christmas Parade kicks off tomorrow evening but this cherished local tradition comes with a fresh new twist this year.

Instead of a traditional parade, the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce has organized a reverse parade in which visitors will drive along a route through Herman Dierks Park lined with floats, displays and other Christmas scenes. The change in format for this year’s parade has been planned in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus is providing a safe, in-person Holiday celebration for the community without putting local residents at risk of exposure.

The event will be held tomorrow evening between 6-8 p.m. The route will begin at Farm Bureau insurance, continue through Herman Dierks Park and then exit on Lakeside Drive.

Visitors to the first-ever “Tour of Lights” are asked to come early and stay in their vehicle. This will ensure the event meets all state health department guidelines. The success of the event will rely a lot on the need to keep traffic moving through the park. That’s also why no candy will be given this year.

All area churches, businesses, civic organizations, and community groups have been welcomed to participate by setting up a stationary “float”, trailer, staged Christmas scene, parked vehicle, or festive setting of their choosing along the route. Set up begins at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 and the tour will kick off at 6 p.m. Categories for participants include religious, commercial, antique vehicle and people’s choice.

Prize money will be awarded in the amount of $100 for 1st place, $75 for 2nd place and $50 for 3rd.

Tune into 102.1 “The Good Path” as well be playing non-stop Christmas music, not just during the parade but throughout the whole holiday season.

Miller said the chamber and everyone who’s organized this event hope turnout will be strong and that everyone who comes by has a great time.

All local residents of De Queen and the surrounding areas are encouraged to attend the first tour of lights in De Queen. For more information contact the Chamber of Commerce by emailing DQchamber@gmail.com or calling 870-584-3225.

Hospital Board of Governors begins to narrow search for administrator      12/04/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The search is beginning to narrow down for who will run Sevier County’s new hospital once its up and running in 2022.
That was one of the major topics up for discussion yesterday during the monthly meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governor’s. Board Chairman Dr. Steve Cole said the board had received over a dozen resumes after posting the hospital administrator position online and in publications across Arkansas. The position would be responsible for overseeing construction of the new hospital and the day-to-day operation once the 14-bed facility is up and running.

Cole and board members discussed beginning to review those applications and narrow down the top applicants. There is no end-date for the application period and it will remain open until filed. The board of governors has repeatedly stressed its desire to hire a top-level hospital administrator, given the poor history of administration over De Queen’s hospital in the past.

Cole also updated board members on construction process. Currently crews are continuing to clear trees and brush from the 20-acre site located north of De Queen on Highway 71. Bid packages for construction of the actual facility are expected to be released soon.

Other updates included a presentation by Daniel Martinez, a native of Lockesburg and owner of the marketing firm Arzac. Martinez presented a proposal to handle the hospital’s marketing needs including social media platforms, website construction and maintenance, promotional materials and the hospital’s logo. No decision was made but board members expressed interest over the needed services Arzac would provide and were pleased they could turn to a locally-based company.

Representatives from AirEvac were also present at the meeting. They discussed their desire to be part of the planning process for the new hospital to ensure it includes space for a new AirEvac medical helicopter base. Heidi Hiel, program coordinator for AirEvac’s De Queen base, said the company is fully committed to relocating to the new hospital. The company’s current base has been located next to the now-defunct De Queen hospital for the past 14 years.

Finally, Bruce Jackson, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation, detailed a discussion from that group’s most recent meeting. Jackson said the foundation plans to have a project fundraiser in the near future. That project will most likely focus on raising funds for the addition of a Safe Haven baby box at the new hospital.

The hospital board voted during its October meeting to incorporate a baby box into design of the new facility. A baby box, or baby hatch, is a secured container in which mothers can safely and anonymously abandon their baby.

Through Arkansas’ Safe Haven Law, parents can legally drop off a child 30 days or younger to a qualified location without facing prosecution for endangering or abandoning a child. The law was approved and put in place to alleviate the abandonment and death of infant children in Arkansas.

If a child is placed in the baby box, lights and alerts are sent out to trained professionals and first responders who will arrive almost instantly to provide care. The baby would then be given to the Department of Human Services as soon as possible for adoption to a forever home.
Once completed the hospital will be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That means trained staff will always be on site to respond quickly to a child placed in the baby box. If one baby is saved, said hospital officials, the baby box will have more than served its purpose.
The hospital’s baby box would be only the second one in all of Arkansas. The expected cost is around $15,000.

Horatio, De Queen Senior Citizens Center hosting donation drive for local elderly      12/04/20

HORATIO – There are many ways to help the less fortunate in our community this Christmas. There are programs to help children and families in need as well as individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But local community organizers say it’s vital this year not to forget Sevier County’s senior citizens this Christmas season.

The Horatio and De Queen Senior Citizen Centers have teamed up to ensure homebound senior citizens in the community aren’t forgotten. Both centers have organized a Christmas Box drive to deliver necessities, food and gifts to senior citizens in Sevier County.

Penny Morton with the Horatio Senior Citizens Center said the agency has 45 Sevier County senior citizens are homebound, meaning they have no ability to leave their home without assistance. It’s these 31 women and 14 men who will receive donations through the new program.
Area residents are invited to donate items like socks, scarves, crossword books, toiletries, candy, non-perishable food and nearly any other items for these senior citizens. Donations can be dropped off now through Dec. 14 at either the Horatio or De Queen Senior Citizens Centers. Donations must be dropped off during the centers’ open hours, between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday at both sites.

The Horatio Senior Citizens Center is located at 1106 McCoy Drive while the De Queen center is located on 605 E. Haes Avenue behind Pruett’s Foods.

Boxes will be delivered Dec. 14-18.

Penny said the senior citizens center has already seen tremendous support from the community through this donation drive. Businesses, community groups, churches and even area school children have stepped up to ensure our senior citizens are not forgotten this Christmas.
For more information contact Penny at (870) 832-3640 or at 784-3515.

Organizers with the Arkansas Human Development Council will hold a drive-thru health fair and clinic in De Queen tomorrow.

Free health screenings, COVID-19 tests in De Queen tomorrow      12/04/20

DE QUEEN – Organizers with the Arkansas Human Development Council will hold a drive-thru health fair and clinic in De Queen tomorrow.

The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Town North Shopping Center in De Queen. The event will focus on providing area residents a number of free and preventative screenings, including screenings for diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol. Organizers will also provide free COVID-19 tests.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Gov. Hutchinson announces new CDC quaratine guidelines      12/04/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported an increase of one active case on Thursday, raising that total to 74 currently confirmed active cases in the county. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 10 to 1,761. Deaths remain at 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported a net increase of four active cases over the past 24 hours. That leaves 39 confirmed active cases in Little River. Total cases grew by four to 655. Deaths remain at 37.

In Howard County, active cases fell by six to a current total of 42. Total confirmed and probable cases grew by three to 844. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County reported two fewer active cases on Thursday. That leaves 146 confirmed active cases in the county. Total cases grew by 19 to 868. Deaths increased by one to 12.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a decrease of six active cases over the past 24 hours. That leaves 210 active cases in the county. Total cases rose by 13 to 2,343. Deaths remain at 45.

Across the state, an additional 2,789 new cases were reported in Arkansas on Thursday – that’s the highest one-day growth in new cases since the pandemic began. In total, more than 164,000 Arkansans have contracted COVID-19 since early spring. Deaths saw a sizable increase on Thursday, rising by 33 to 2,555. Active cases grew by 731 to more than 17,000 active cases in Arkansas. Hospitalizations did see a slight decrease, dropping by 17 cases. That still leaves 1,072 Arkansans still hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state officials held a COVID-19 Taskforce update yesterday to describe new CDC quarantine guidelines now in effect in Arkansas. Those CDC guidelines shorten the quarantine recommendations for Arkansans who have COVID-19 but show no symptoms related to the virus. The guidelines outline the safest procedure includes a full 14-day quarantine at home. However, quarantine can end after 10 days with no follow-up testing as long as symptoms are not present and the individual takes precautions. Quarantine can end after seven days if the individual has received a negative PCR test and are continuing to take precautions and show no symptoms.

Other guidelines still remain in effect including Arkansas’ executive order mandating the wearing of face masks by everyone 10 and older when in public settings. Restaurant capacity continues to be limited to 66 percent.

 

Arkansas Lottery Claim Center closed due to potential COVID-19 exposure      12/04/20

LITTLE ROCK – Due to a possible COVID-19 exposure, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery (ASL) Claim Center closed yesterday. A reopening date is not certain at this time.

This is the second time this year the Claim Center has temporarily closed due to possible exposure to the virus. During this temporary closure, any player who wins more than $500 must mail in their winning ticket. To do that, sign the back of the winning ticket.
Print and fill out a claim form that can be found at MyArkansasLottery.com under “Claim Prize.”Make a copy of a photo identification card (driver’s license, U.S. passport, passport issued by a foreign government, U.S. Armed Forces I.D., or U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services I.D.).

Mail the signed ticket, completed claim form and copy of the I.D. to Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, P.O. Box 3838, Little Rock, AR 72203.

The player will be mailed a check. Prizes of $500 or less can be claimed at lottery retailers.

State police investigating alleged killing of Prescott woman; suspect in custody      12/03/20

PRESCOTT – The Arkansas State Police is investigating the suspected murder of a Prescott woman at her home on Tuesday.

According to a state police press release, 41-year-old Tina Nicole Whitten was found dead outside her home on 502 East Second Street in Prescott lat Tuesday. Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division believe she was the victim of a deadly attack that occurred about 5:30 p.m. inside her home.

Local law enforcement authorities responded to Whitten’s home two hours later following telephone reports to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department of a woman’s body being found outside the home.  The Arkansas State Police was contacted by local police and requested to lead the homicide investigation.

State police special agents are holding a 48-year-old man of Nevada County in connection with the homicide. A criminal investigation continues and the suspect is awaiting formal charges to be filed by the Nevada County prosecuting attorney.

Whitten’s body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where a manner and cause of death will be determined.

UA Cossatot cancels in-person graduation ceremonies      12/03/20

DE QUEEN – Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases both locally and across the state, UA Cossatot has announced it will cancel its in-person graduation ceremonies scheduled for this month.

According to a message on the college’s website, that includes the ceremony for students graduating from the college’s medical programs this Saturday, Dec. 5. And the general graduation ceremony set for Dec. 11.

Instead, the college will host a virtual graduation ceremony on Friday, Dec. 18. The event will be live-streamed and more details are expected soon.

Fall 2020, Summer 2020 and Spring 2020 graduates may participate in the virtual ceremony. Graduates are asked to email a photo for the ceremony to <a href=”mailto:aaylett@cccua.edu”>aaylett@cccua.edu</a> or text 584-1125. Students can also have their photo taken at any of the college’s three campuses.

At this time the college says its Spring 2021 graduation ceremony is still scheduled for May 14 of next year.

DQ Public Schools reminds parents, guardians and employees of Point of Contact requirements      12/03/20

DE QUEEN – In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the De Queen School District, school officials are reminding all parents, guardians and employees of the district’s designated Point of Contact system. District officials say the Point of Contact should be contacted immediately by guardians and employees if someone in their household has tested positive for COVID-19 or if someone in their household has come into close contact with a positive case.

The Point of Contact should also be contacted if a student or staff member is requiring quarantine or has been recommended to get tested for COVID-19. Students and staff who are being tested for COVID-19 should remain in quarantine pending results of their test.

Parents and guardians can contact the De Queen School District’s Point of Contact 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 642-5488.

Foreman, Ashdown to hold Christmas parades in coming days      12/03/20

LITTLE RIVER COUNTY – A number of Christmas themed events are coming up in Little River County. That includes the annual Foreman Christmas Parade this Saturday, Dec. 5 starting at 4:15 p.m. The Ashdown Christmas Parade will be held Monday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. Anyone interested in entering a float in the Ashdown Christmas Parade can do so by calling the Little River County Chamber of Commerce at (870) 898-2758.

First of two special youth, veteran duck hunts is this weekend      12/03/20

Submitted by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

The ducks have a brief rest between the segments of this year’s hunting season. But on Saturday, the first of two youth and veteran waterfowl hunts will have hunters back in the woods in search of Arkansas’s premiere game species. This yea