Local News Archive

De Queen Elementary campus closure begins today      11/30/20
DE QUEEN – Parents of De Queen Elementary students are reminded their children will participate in virtual learning all this week after COVID-19 forced district officials to close the elementary campus.
De Queen Public Schools announced last week it would close its elementary campus until early December due to COVID-19 quarantine and isolations.

In a press release, district officials said the campus will be closed to onsite instruction Nov. 30 through Dec. 4. The district stated the closure is necessary due to COVID-19-related issues affecting the campus’ support personnel.

De Queen’s elementary students will continue their instruction virtually through Dec. 4. The campus is expected to return to normal onsite instruction on Monday, Dec. 7. All other campuses will be open as normal for onsite instruction.

Elementary students who are already setup on a virtual learning plan will see no change. Students who have committed to onsite instruction, however, will have a few things to do next week. Work packets will be provided to all students for the week the campus is closed. These can be picked up from a filing cabinet near the front door of the elementary school. There is a drawer labeled for each grade. Students are required to complete this work and return it to school when the campus reopens on Dec. 7.

Classroom teachers will report to campus on today to assist with work packets. The front office at De Queen Elementary will also be open all next week to answer any questions. The office’s number is 584-4311. District officials ask parents to contact the elementary office if they need their child’s older sibling from another campus to stay at home and help with childcare.

District officials said they will conduct a deep cleaning of the elementary campus to prepare for the return of students on Dec. 7.

In the press release sent Monday evening, the district said it is aware the closure of a school building is likely to place extra burdens on Leopard families. Parents are asked to provide patience and support as the district navigates this challenging school year.

According to a report released by the Arkansas Department of Health last Wednesday, Nov. 25, De Queen Public Schools is reporting 11 confirmed 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 77 cases among students and 26 among staff.

The Horatio School District announced earlier this month the suspension of onsite learning on its elementary campus after a rise in COVID-19 quarantine and isolation among both teachers and staff. The district said over a quarter of its elementary teachers were either quarantined or isolated because of the virus. The elementary campus is expected to reopen for normal onsite instruction on tomorrow, Dec. 1.

Sign up still available for 2020 Salvation Army Bell Ringing campaign      11/30/20

DE QUEEN – With Christmas just around the corner, local shoppers are about to hear a very familiar and seasonal sound – the ringing of Salvation Army bells.

The 2020 Bell-Ringing Campaign of the Salvation Army kicked off Thanksgiving weekend in De Queen. Area residents will see the familiar red kettles and hear the ringing of the bells. The first volunteers will set up on Black Friday.

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 storm 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.

Tune-in to 102.1FM “The Good Path” for non-stop Christmas music     11/30/20

DE QUEEN – Need a little help getting into the Christmas spirit? Well, we here at KDQN Studios are here to help.

We’ll be playing non-stop Christmas music on our sister station, 102.1FM “The Good Path.” Tune in throughout the holiday season to hear all of your favorite Christmas classics.

While some may argue it’s still a little too soon to bring on the rush of Christmas cheer, we say there’s no question: the time is here. After the year our nation has had, we think we’re all ready for a relief and what better way than to fill the local airwaves with some holiday spirit and hope. Let’s face it, 2020 has been crazy so why need give everyone a little break and a little joy.

Tune in for all the Christmas classics, ranging from Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole to Mariah Carey and Gene Autry.

Christmas music will play 24-7 on 102.1 all the way through Christmas Day. So tune in whether you’re in the car, hanging out at home or enjoying a holiday-themed event like the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce’s “Tour of Lights” on Dec. 5. It’s that most wonderful time of year, and let us help you sit back, relax and enjoy the Christmas holiday with all your favorite classics.

Lockesburg to hold annual Christmas parade this Saturday     11/30/20

LOCKESBURG – The City of Lockesburg will host its annual Christmas Parade on Saturday, Dec. 5. The parade will begin at 3 p.m. and proceed through the downtown area. Civic groups, businesses, individuals, organizations and churches are invited to participate with a float. Participants are asked to meet at the Lockesburg City Park at 2:30 on the afternoon of the day of the parade. The judges will be located in front of the Lockesburg City Hall. Participants will slow down as they approach city hall to allow judges to view their entry. Categories are business/commercial, organizations, religious and recreational.

Participants are asked not to throw candy. The city of Lockesburg will pass out bags of candy after the parade at the Bank of Lockesburg parking lot. Prizes will be immediately presented following the parade at the bank parking lot. Santa will not be taking this year after the parade.

Anyone interested in entering a float in this year’s parade must contact Lockesburg City Hall by Dec. 4 to be judged as a contestant. Email cityoflockesburg@windstream.net to enter a float in this year’s Lockesburg Christmas parade.

Four Ashdown cheerleaders participate in 2020 “Spirit Spectacular” in Orlando, Fla.      11/30/20

Submitted by Ronda Pounds of Ashdown Public Schools

ASHDOWN – Four Ashdown High School Varsity Cheer members were able to participate in the Universal Varsity Spirit Spectacular 2020 held at Universal Orlando Resort Nov. 22-25. According to a press release, “the girls invited to perform are part of the All-American program at Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) and National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) summer camps across the country.  All-Americans are chosen based on superior athletic and leadership skills.  Only the top 12 percent of athletes who attend camp earn the chance to perform in the holiday spectacular.”

AHS Varsity Cheer members Ashlee Waller, Emma Wrinkle, Kaylee Welborn, and Sara Huddleston traveled to Orlando with family members for the 2020 Spirit Spectacular.  After arriving on November 21 and November 22, the girls performed on November 23.  After their performances, they were able to enjoy Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure

AHS Varsity Senior Cheer Member Sara Huddleston said it was an honor to represent Ashdown Varsity Cheer in Orlando, alongside her other teammates Emma, Kaylee, and Ashlee.  One of the highlights of the trip she said was getting to perform with and meet cheerleaders from all across the country. Huddleston said she and her teammates couldn’t have done it without the support of their parents, school, and community.  She added that they were extremely blessed to have had this opportunity and thanked everyone who helped them get there.

The cheerleaders held a variety of raffles and ticket sales in order to raise the money to attend. The AHS Varsity Cheer Sponsor is Brittany Crow.

Few tips to protect property as temps fall well below freezing      11/30/20

DE QUEEN – It’s going to be a cold one in the listening area tonight. A really cold one – the coldest night we’ve seen this fall.

According to forecasters with the National Weather Service, the thermometer is going to drop well below the freezing mark down to 22 degrees. When it gets that cold, there’s a few things to keep in mind to protect your animals and property.

When it comes to prepping your home, it’s important to remember to insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls or in unheated areas so your water supply will be less likely to freeze.

Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes.

Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even 1/4″ of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.

Weatherproof your home by adding weather-stripping, insulation, insulated doors and storm windows, or thermal-pane windows.

With the forecast calling for a low of 22 degrees tonight, you may consider leaving water taps slightly open so they drip continuously. Since the water temp of the drips is above freezing, it helps to warm the pipe.

You can improve the circulation of heated air near pipes. For example, open kitchen cabinet doors beneath the kitchen sink.

Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Don’t use antifreeze, which is dangerous to humans and pets.

And remember to check on your elderly neighbors to make sure they’re staying warm and healthy as the temperature drops.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      11/30/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported a net decrease of 10 active cases since Friday, dropping to 68 currently confirmed active cases. Total cases grew by 34 over the weekend to 1,707. Recoveries grew to 1,621. Deaths remain at 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported a net decrease of 15 active cases since Friday. That leaves 43 confirmed active cases in Little River County. Total cases grew by 26 over the weekend to 641. Due to additional information by the Arkansas Department of Health, the death toll in Little River was adjusted back by three. The updated figure now totals 37 deaths in Little River County since the pandemic began.

In Howard County, active cases dropped by a net total of nine cases to number 43 currently. Total cases grew by 18 to 801. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County saw a net decrease of 33 active cases since Friday. That leaves 140 confirmed active cases in the county. Total cases grew to 789. Deaths increased by one over the weekend to a total of 10 since the outbreak began.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County an increase of nine active cases on Sunday, raising the confirmed total to 275. Total cases grew by 15 to 2,292. Deaths remain at 45.

Across Arkansas, more than 1,200 new cases were reported by the Arkansas Department of Health on Sunday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to more than 156,000 since the pandemic started. Active cases decreased slightly on Sunday to 16,884 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by 21 to 2,470. Hospitalizations saw another sizable increase on Sunday, raising by 20 to 1,030 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Signup still underway to help Arkansans pay rent      11/30/20

Arkansans struggling to meet their rent in the current COVID-19 environment can still apply for assistance through a new state program.

The Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association and the state’s Community Action Agencies are still taking applications to assist people who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through a new program known as “Arkansas Fresh Start”.

According to a news release sent earlier this month, the rental assistance is made possible by $10 million in combined grants received from the federal government’s relief funds.

The program is now open to applicants. According to the news release, the Arkansas Fresh Start program can provide up to two-and-a-half months rent to eligible Arkansans with a household income at or below 80% of their area’s median income.

Arkansas renters who are interested can apply through their local Community Action Agency (CAA). Arkansas has 15 nonprofit CAAs, each provides assistance to certain portions of the state, according to the news release. Every county in Arkansas is served by Community Action Agency.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said the program will aid both people who can’t pay their rent and landlords who are suffering financially due to struggling tenants.

To be eligible for the Fresh Start program, officials say an applicant must meet certain criteria, such as being a full-time Arkansas resident; not able to make rental payments due to a COVID-19-related issue; and having a landlord’s stated willingness to accept the payment.

People who are wanting to apply can visit ARFreshStart.com to find their area Community Action Agency and complete an application. For residents of Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties, the agency to contact would be the Central Arkansas Development Council, or CADC. The CADC can be contacted at 501-315-1121. For Polk County the administering agency is the Arkansas River Valley Area Council which can be contacted at 479-219-5292.

Horatio cancels Christmas parade; De Queen and Lockesburg parades still a go      11/25/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Horatio has announced it will not hold its annual Christmas parade. The decision was made to cancel the event due to rising COVID-19 cases across the community and state. Community organizers in Horatio are hoping to keep a little of that local Christmas spirit through its third annual Christmas decoration contest. The contest is open to both businesses and private homes. The cost to participate in the contest is $10. Proceeds will go to Horatio Public Schools for adopting local families for the holidays. Contestants must sign up and have their home or business decorated by Dec. 4. Pick up forms at the Pit Stop or Vaught Care Center in Horatio. The residential winner will get a yard sign while the business winner will receive a trophy to display for the year.
At this time, Lockesburg is still planning to host its annual Christmas parade on Saturday, Dec. 5. The parade will start at 3 p.m. and be held through the downtown area. Call city hall at (870) 289-3261 for more information or if you wish to participate with an entry in the parade.

The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is planning to host a “reverse” Christmas parade with its first annual “Tour of Lights” event on Dec. 5. A reverse parade is the choice many towns are going with this year. In effect, stationary floats and displays will be lined up along a route. Residents will then participate by driving along the route in their own vehicle. This will ensure social distancing and other state health guidelines are met. The event will be held at the Herman Dierks Park beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m.

The chamber of commerce welcomes any individuals, civic groups, businesses and churches who are interested in participating in the Tour of Lights parade. For more information contact the chamber office between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The number to call is (870) 584-3225.

Support local small businesses on Small Business Saturday      11/25/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Big-retail Black Friday shopping is on the minds of many holiday shoppers this week. But officials with the U.S. Small Business Administration are reminding shoppers that this Saturday is also Small Business Saturday. It’s a day promoted locally and across the nation to encourage shoppers to remember the small businesses in their community which are so vital to the U.S. economy.

Last year, an estimated 104 million consumers nationwide “shopped small” on Small Business Saturday.  Supporting your local economy is the driving force behind Small Business Saturday. And given the challenges small businesses are facing in 2020, it’s more important than ever to support our local small businesses. A strong small business community translates into a stronger community.

This year marks the 11th Small Business Saturday, an annual celebration of America’s small business community. Last year on Small Business Saturday, Americans spent a combined $17.8 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants.

Today, there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States. About half of all-American workers are either employed by a small business or own a small business. And two out of three net new jobs are created by small businesses.  For more Small Business Saturday details, visit www.sba.gov/saturday.

102.1 “The Good Path” to play non-stop Christmas music starting Friday     11/25/20

DE QUEEN – Need a little help getting into the Christmas spirit? Well, we here at KDQN Studios are here to help.

Starting this Friday we’ll be playing non-stop Christmas music on our sister station, 102.1FM “The Good Path.” Tune in throughout the holiday season to hear all of your favorite Christmas classics.

While some may argue it’s still a little too soon to bring on the rush of Christmas cheer, we say there’s no question: the time is here. After the year our nation has had, we think we’re all ready for a relief and what better way than to fill the local airwaves with some holiday spirit and hope. Let’s face it, 2020 has been crazy so why need give everyone a little break and a little joy.

Tune in starting this Friday for all the Christmas classics, ranging from Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole to Mariah Carey and Gene Autry.

Christmas music will play 24-7 on 102.1 all the way through Christmas Day. So tune in whether you’re in the car, hanging out at home or enjoying a holiday-themed event like the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce’s “Tour of Lights” on Dec. 5. It’s that most wonderful time of year, and let us help you sit back, relax and enjoy the Christmas holiday with all your favorite classics.

State’s COVID-19 Taskforce shares updates, issues guidance on Thanksgiving     11/25/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 complications continue to increase in Arkansas. Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported during his weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday that nearly 1,000 Arkansans are currently hospitalized due to the virus.
In other statewide figures, an additional 2,122 cases were reported on Tuesday for a statewide, cumulative total of over 148,000. Of those, just over 17,000 are currently active. Deaths rose by 14 on Tuesday to a total of 2,405 since the pandemic began. An additional 1,800 recoveries were reported over the past 24 hours. That means nearly 129,000 Arkansans have contracted the virus and since recovered.
Testing efforts remain strong, with combined antigen and PCR tests numbering around 15,000 since Monday. So far the state has overseen more than 300,000 tests in November, or nearly 10 percent of Arkansas’ population.
Hutchinson provided an update on the process the state uses for its contact-tracing efforts. He said the state has triaged contact tracing efforts into two levels. Which priority a person may fall in is dependent on how long it’s been since their initial exposure was detected. Either way, Hutchinson said the state is investigating each confirmed COVID-19 patient and reaching out to anyone they may have exposed.
One of the challenges the state has faced is Arkansans, understandably, not answering calls from unknown numbers. Hutchinson said the state will use one of the following three numbers in its contact tracing efforts: 877-272-6819, 833-283-2019 and 501-686-5875. The governor urges all Arkansans to answer if they receive a call from one of these three phone numbers.
Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero is again stressing families to be cautious as they gather this Thanksgiving. He urges Arkansans to try and keep their get-togethers to a “nuclear Thanksgiving;” that is, a Thanksgiving event limited to the immediate members of your household. He shared a few other words of advice on how people can do their best to celebrate safely this holiday.
Romero shared a little good news in regards to the expected arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the future. He said the state is hoping to receive the first shipment of vaccines starting around the beginning of 2021. Those initial vaccinations will be set aside for healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations in Arkansas. Romero however said vaccines for the general public will likely not be available until the second or third quarter of the year.
Troy Wells, CEO of Arkansas Baptist Health in Little Rock, gave an update on the state of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state. He said hospitalizations continue to rise but that hospitals in the state still have capacity available. Nonetheless, he said it’s safe to say hospitals and healthcare workers are busier than ever with the increasing COVID caseload. He gave a specific shoutout to healthcare professionals across Arkansas for their tireless dedication to treating victims of the pandemic.
In review, the state reported an additional 2,122 cases on Tuesday for a cumulative total of 148,000 since the outbreak began. Deaths rose by 18 to 2,405 and hospitalizations by 14 to 988. Active cases of COVID-19 grew by 330 on Tuesday to a currently confirmed total of 17,000 confirmed active cases in the state. Over 15,000 tests were performed between Monday and Tuesday.
We’ll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.
ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     11/25/20
DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Tuesday for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported another decrease in active cases on Tuesday, dropping by seven to 78 currently active cases. Total confirmed and probable cases grew by eight to 1,673. Deaths increased by one to 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported eight fewer active cases on Monday. Confirmed active cases in the county now number 58. Total cases grew by four to 615. Deaths remain at 40.

The number of active cases in Howard County also decreased since yesterday, dropping by three to 52 currently confirmed active cases. Total cases grew by six to 783. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County saw an increase of five active cases on Tuesday. That leaves 173 confirmed active cases in the county. Deaths increased by one to nine.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 16 fewer active cases on Tuesday. That leaves 335 currently active cases in the county. Total cases grew by 15 to 2,227. Deaths remain at 44.

De Queen Public Schools to close elementary campus through Dec. 4      11/24/20
DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools announced last night it will close its elementary campus until early December due to COVID-19 quarantine and isolations.

In a press release, district officials said the campus will be closed to onsite instruction Nov. 30 through Dec. 4. The district stated the closure is necessary due to COVID-19-related issues affecting the campus’ support personnel. Students are participating in virtual learning days today and tomorrow but were set to return to classes next week following the Thanksgiving holiday.

De Queen’s elementary students, however, will continue their instruction virtually through Dec. 4. The campus is expected to return to normal onsite instruction on Monday, Dec. 7. All other campuses will be open as normal for onsite instruction.

Elementary students who are already setup on a virtual learning plan will see no change. Students who have committed to onsite instruction, however, will have a few things to do next week. Work packets will be provided to all students for the week the campus is closed. These can be picked up from a filing cabinet near the front door of the elementary school. There is a drawer labeled for each grade. Students are required to complete this work and return it to school when the campus reopens on Dec. 7.

Classroom teachers will report to campus on Monday, Nov. 30 to assist with work packets. The front office at De Queen Elementary will also be open all next week to answer any questions. The office’s number is 584-4311. District officials ask parents to contact the elementary office if they need their child’s older sibling from another campus to stay at home and help with childcare.

District officials said they will conduct a deep cleaning of the elementary campus to prepare for the return of students on Dec. 7.

In the press release sent Monday evening, the district said it is aware the closure of a school building is likely to place extra burdens on Leopard families. Parents are asked to provide patience and support as the district navigates this challenging school year.

According to a report released by the Arkansas Department of Health on Monday, De Queen Public Schools is reporting 11 confirmed 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 76 cases among students and 25 among staff.

The Horatio School District announced earlier this month the suspension of onsite learning on its elementary campus after a rise in COVID-19 quarantine and isolation among both teachers and staff. The district said over a quarter of its elementary teachers were either quarantined or isolated because of the virus. The elementary campus is expected to reopen for normal onsite instruction on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

Winthrop man killed at Pearl Harbor nearly 80 years ago finally laid to rest      11/24/20

The full audio story is featured here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is included 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 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.

Ashdown murder suspects apprehended      11/24/20

ASHDOWN – Two Ashdown residents suspected of killing a man last month were found and taken into custody yesterday.

According to the Ashdown Police Department, Cheleka Johnson and Corey Garfield were arrested yesterday thanks to information received which led investigators to their location. They were arrested without incident.

Johnson and Garfield have been eluding local police since Oct. 6, when the body of 48-year-old Dennis Graves 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 Johnson and Garfield as suspects for their alleged involvement in the crime. First-degree murder warrants were issued for both suspects but they were successful in eluding authorities until yesterday.

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.

Both Johnson and Garfield have been charged with first-degree murder and are currently being held in jail as they await their first court appearance.

Salvation Army bell-ringing campaign kicks off in De Queen this Friday       11/24/20

DE QUEEN – With Thanksgiving this Thursday and Christmas just around the corner, local shoppers are about to hear a very familiar and seasonal sound.

That’s right, the 2020 Bell-Ringing Campaign of the Salvation Army kickoffs Thanksgiving weekend in De Queen. Area resident should be ready to see the familiar red kettles and hear the ringing of the bells. The first volunteers will set up on Black Friday.

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 from Nov. 28 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 storm 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.

Little River to hold courthouse lighting ceremony tonight      11/24/20

ASHDOWN – If you need a little help getting into the spirit of Christmas this year, well, you’ll have the perfect opportunity tonight. This evening Little River County officials will officially light the Little River Court House for this year’s Christmas season. The lighting ceremony will kick off at 6 p.m. Area children are informed Santa will be making an early appearance to personally inaugurate the lighting of the courthouse. Stop by and check out the beautifully decorated courthouse featuring tens of thousands of individual lights as well as decorations throughout the courthouse lawn.

MDEF awards grant to Ashdown speech therapist for elementary instruction      11/24/20

ASHDOWN – An Ashdown teacher has been awarded a grant to help students suffering from speech impediments.

Ashdown School District announced Sarah Adams, a speech therapist at Ashdown Elementary School, received a grant for more than $1,000 to merge technology into her speech therapy programs. The grant will allow Adams to use iPads to help students overcome speech and language issues. The grant was provided by the Margaret Daniel Education Foundation.

The iPads will allow students to interact with the speech and language therapist via differing virtual platforms. Adams said these programs will allow here to provide more accessible instruction to students and tailor different learning styles to each students’ individual needs. It’s another example, said district officials, of how technology can tailor learning and focus on the needs of the various learning styles that work best for each student.

The Margaret Daniel Education Foundation said its mission it to provide grants to teachers in Ashdown Public Schools to help them do what they do best: teach. Previous grants have provided additional and engaging classroom instructional materials. A grant awarded earlier this year provided an Ashdown teacher with funds to add more creative and relaxing seating arrangements to his classroom. Studies in the United States have shown that children learn more efficiently and more enjoyable when comfortable seating is provided.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      11/24/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Monday for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported a small decrease of one active COVID-19 case on Monday for a new total of 85. Total confirmed and probable cases grew by 17 to 1,665. Deaths remain at 17.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported four fewer active cases on Monday. Confirmed active cases in the county now number 66. Deaths remain at 40.

The number of active cases in Howard County also decreased since yesterday, dropping by two to 55 currently confirmed active cases. Total cases grew by four to 777. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County saw a decrease of five active cases on Monday. That leaves 168 confirmed active cases in the county. Deaths remain at eight.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a sizable drop with 20 fewer active cases on Monday. However, McCurtain County remains a hotspot for virus transmissions in the state with 351 cases still active. Total cases grew by nine to 2,212. Deaths remain at 44.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported more than 1,000 new cases on Monday. The state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions now numbers slightly below 147,000 cases. Active positives saw a decrease of 919 cases on Monday, leaving 16,727 confirmed active cases in the state. Deaths increased by 30 to 2,387 and hospitalizations by 12 to 974.

As the pandemic continues to make an impact across the state, local and state health officials stress all Arkansans to follow the three “W’s”: Wash your hands, wear your facemask and watch your distance. State health officials say that, while a COVID-19 vaccine may be available within the next few months, the pandemic is likely to worsen until then. All Arkansans are being asked to take these precautions to help reverse increasing hospitalizations and the heavy toll is put on healthcare workers.

Tomorrow is last day to apply for new small business assistance program in Arkansas      11/24/20

LITTLE ROCK – The deadline is tomorrow to apply for a new grant program with the goal of financially assisting businesses in Arkansas impacted by COVID-19. The program began accepting applications on Monday.

Arkansas state agencies approved the business interruption grant for certain Arkansas businesses in the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. The grant will provide reimbursement for a portion of specific eligible expenses incurred by businesses in these industries between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020.

The grant application period will open through tomorrow, Nov. 25. Grants will be awarded on a prorated basis depending on the total number of applicants and the amount of reimbursement requested. The program anticipates making grant awards in late December.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the grant will help businesses that were disrupted by the precautions necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Arkansas small businesses having 250, or fewer, full-time employees located in Arkansas may seek reimbursement for expenses associated with COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The grant also provides assistance for some business interruption expenses due directly to local, state or federal government COVID-19 directives.

Information will be regularly posted to www.ArkansasReady.com about the grant, training and a help line.

Sevier County Library to hold Christmas-themed activities in December   11/23/20
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Library System is preparing to hold a number of Christmas-themed activities and events starting next month.
Beginning Dec. 1, children in Sevier County will be able to write letters to Santa at the De Queen Library.
Since the library is not able to hold its 10th Annual Christmas Program due to COVID-19, local librarians decided to get creative.
Area children can come in, receive a paper and envelope, write their letter to Santa, drop in a special mailbox and raise the flag. Your child’s name and address needs to be on the envelope in order to receive a reply from the north pole. The first 30 children that come in to fill out and mail their letter to Santa, will receive a craft to put together with Kelsie on Dec. 16 during the library’s Christmas virtual story time. The virtual story time event is held on the Sevier County Library’s Facebook page.
The library will host its regularly scheduled virtual story time Dec. 2. Organizers say this will be a fun event and shouldn’t be missed.

The Horatio Library will host its own Christmas Story and activities session on Dec. 12 on its  Facebook page. Patrons are also invited to come by the library and check out the Christmas book and DVD selection. Call Amy for more information at 832-6882

Gillham Library’s Christmas Virtual Story will be Dec. 12 at facebook.com/gillhamlibrary. Come and see us and check out a good book.

It’s also not to late to get involved in two library activities designed to benefit the less fortunate in the community.

Throughout the rest of this month, Sevier County residents who owe library fines will have a chance to pay those off while also helping local folks in need this holiday season. The Sevier County Library System will host its annual Food For Fines Month during the entire month of November. During the entire month, patrons can bring in any nonperishable food item into any Sevier County Branch Library for a one-dollar reduction per item towards their existing overdue fines. Food accepted for fines is for returned library materials only, not for replacement fees of lost or damaged items.

In addition the library will also host a sweater drive as the colder weather arrives. Through Nov. 30, area residents are asked to bring any new or gently used sweaters, jackets, coats or other cold-weather clothing items to any library branch. These donations will be kept and distributed within each local community.

Convicted Polk County murderer reportedly commits suicide while in prison   11/23/20

PINE BLUFF – The Polk County Pulse is reporting that a Polk County man convicted of murder last year committed suicide while in an Arkansas state prison.

According to the article, Adam Green was found killed himself while serving out his sentence at the Tucker Max Security Prison. The publication cites Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer as one of the sources for this story, though at this time state prison officials have not commented on the suicide.

Green was convicted last December of second degree murder for the death of 36-year-old CJ Goforth of Mena. Green shot Goforth while he was sitting in his vehicle during an incident in 2019. Green was later arrested in Broken Bow, Oklahoma.

Local holiday closings in celebration of Thanksgiving Day   11/23/20

DE QUEEN – A number of holiday-related closures take place this week in celebration of Thanksgiving Day. That includes area school districts which will be closed this week in commemoration of the holiday. De Queen Public Schools is however conducting virtual days through Wednesday. Students attending school in person will work at home those three days while virtual students will continue their online learning as normal. Thursday and Friday there is no virtual school.

All area banks, government offices and many businesses will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving Day. The Sevier County Courthouse, Landfill and Solid Waste Stations will be closed both Thursday and Friday for the holiday. The landfill and solid waste stations will resume normal operation hours on Saturday, Nov. 28. The courthouse will reopen with normal operating hours on Monday, Nov. 30.

City halls in Ashdown, De Queen, Dierks, Foreman, Horatio and Lockesburg will also be closed this Thursday and Friday and will reopen with normal hours on Monday, Nov. 30.

In addition, we’ll be taking the day off this Thursday at KDQN Studios in celebration of Thanksgiving but will reopen Friday morning.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; additional deaths reported in Sevier, Little River and Polk Counties   11/23/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported its first coronavirus-related death of November over the weekend, raising the total to 17 since the pandemic began. Active cases did see a slight net decrease over the weekend, dropping by seven to a current total of 86 confirmed active cases. Cumulative cases grew to 1,648. A total of 1,545 Arkansans have caught COVID-19 and since recovered.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported an additional death over the weekend. The number of Little River county residents who have died from COVID-19 complications now totals 40. Active cases saw a net increase of seven since Friday for a current confirmed total of 70. Total confirmed and probable cases number 608.

The number of active cases in Howard County increased by seven over the weekend to 57 currently. Total cases grew by 26 to 773. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County also reported another death over the weekend from COVID-19. A total of eight Polk County residents have died from the virus since the outbreak began. Active cases saw a slight net decrease since Friday and now number 173 confirmed. Total cases grew to 699.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County active cases saw a net increase of 18 cases since Friday and now number 371. Total cases jumped to 2,203. Deaths remain at 44.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported more than 1,300 new cases on Sunday for a cumulative total of over 145,000. Active positive cases continue to grow to unprecedented levels. Arkansas health officials saw the state is approaching 18,000 confirmed active cases. Hospitalizations saw a sizable increase of 37 on Sunday. That leaves 962 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications. Deaths increased over the weekend to 2,357.

As the pandemic worsens across the state, local and state health officials stress all Arkansans to follow the three “W’s”: Wash your hands, wear your facemask and watch your distance. State health officials say that, while a COVID-19 vaccine may be available within the next few months, the pandemic is likely to worsen until then. All Arkansans are being asked to take these precautions to help reverse increasing hospitalizations and the heavy toll those are putting on healthcare workers.

Arkansas duck hunters reminded to get “HIP” this season   11/23/20

Duck hunters have been cleaning and painting decoys, scouting property, brushing blinds and cleaning shotguns in anticipation of this past Saturday’s opening day of duck season. Every year a handful of them understandably forget their most important pieces of equipment: a valid hunting license, including federal and state duck stamps and Harvest Information Program registration.

Beginning this year, hunters are reminded the only way to register for the Harvest Information Program is either online at agfc.com, through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission smartphone app or at an AGFC regional office or nature center. In an effort to improve the quality of data being submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas HIP registration will no longer be offered at license vendors such as sporting goods stores.

Any hunter 16 and older who chases migratory birds, from dove to ducks, has likely heard the message to “Get HIP,” during the last two decades, meaning to register for the federal Harvest Information Program before hunting migratory birds. The nationwide program was initiated by the USFWS in cooperation with states in 1999 to gather consistent information about how many birds of each species were being harvested across the country and how many hunters pursued them.

The easiest way to get all of your licenses purchased is through the AGFC’s website at www.agfc.com. Just click the “Buy Licenses|Check Game” button at the top of the page to get started.

Free support available for SWAR residents suffering from stress   11/20/20
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
Arkansas Parole Board issues November pardon, commutation recommendations    11/20/20

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Parole Board has issued its November pardon and commutation recommendations.

The board found the following pardon recommendations for Southwest Arkansas inmates “with merit.”

Justin Bailey of Sevier County, who was convicted of third degree domestic battery.

Brian McKinney of, Sevier County, convicted of two counts of commercial burglary.

The board found the following pardon recommendations for Southwest Arkansas inmates “without merit.”

Rocky Halter of Sevier County, convicted of delivery of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession with intent to deliver.

William Teague of Howard County, possession of drug paraphernalia, delivery of controlled substance-marijuana, possession of controlled substance-methamphetamine.

The board found the following commutation recommendations for Southwest Arkansas inmates “without merit.”

Brandon Burris of Little River County, convicted of first degree murder.

Emilio Gutierrez of Sevier County, convicted of trafficking controlled substance, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, maintaining a drug premises, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Terry Ross, of Little River and Sevier counties, convicted of delivery of meth and cocaine, possession with purpose of delivery meth and cocaine.

Clifford Walker of Howard County convicted of first degree murder.

Joe Williams of Little River County, delivery of meth-cocaine, possession with purpose of delivery meth-cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, habitual offender.

De Queen Lions Club cancels 2020 auction fundraiser   11/20/20

DE QUEEN – Another annual event always held this time of year is now a victim of COVID-19 related closures.

The annual De Queen Lions Club auction fundraiser has been cancelled. The event typically involves local businesses donating to the Lions Club to support the organizations projects in the community. That includes providing glasses to children in need in the local community.

Over the years the club has raised tens of thousands of dollars through this annual fundraiser. Organizers said the event would not be possible without strong support from the community over the years.

The decision to cancel this year’s auction was made out of cautiousness over COVID-19 as well as an understanding that the pandemic has caused financial hardship for many area businesses.

Anyone who would still like to support the club can contact Noel Bard at First State Bank by calling (870) 642-4423.

Horatio woman enters guilty plea in felony child endangerment case   11/20/20

DE QUEEN – A Horatio woman charged with felony endangerment of a child entered a plea of guilty during yesterday’s session of the Sevier County Circuit Court.

Kaitlyn Elaine Smart, 27, was set to appear before the court in a jury trial yesterday. However, before the trial began Smart withdrew her not-guilty plea and then entered a plea of guilty.

Smart was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor last year following a traffic stop in Sevier County last year. According to the arrest affidavit, deputies performed a traffic stop after allegedly seeing Smart run a stop sign on Highway 24. Deputies suspected Smart was under the influence during the incident. She was charged with driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest.

Smart also reportedly had her small child in the vehicle. Because of that, she was additionally charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor. Because of the DWI charge, the endangerment offense was raised to a felony.

Court records show a sentence has not been formally set but her plea statement shows a recommended sentence of five years of probation in addition to a $1,740 fine.

In other local court-related news, a continuance has been issued in a jury trial for Jeffrey Boarman. Boarman is facing a felony count of video voyeurism for an incident which reportedly occurred last year and involved a female minor. The trial was scheduled to begin this week but will now be postponed to Dec. 4.

HHS basketball season kicks off tonight; visitors reminded COVID-19 guidelines in place   11/20/20

HORATIO – The Horatio Lions kickoff their basketball season this week with a non-conference home game scheduled for tomorrow evening against the Genoa Central Dragons. The game is set to begin at 5 p.m.

Like so much else this year, athletic officials at Horatio Public Schools remind Lions fans that things will look a little different around the basketball court this season.

Horatio Athletic Director Stephen Sprick said all AAA, CDC and Arkansas Department of Health guidelines are still in effect and will be enforced. To help control crowd size, there will be no general admission tickets sold this season. Players will be issued tickets prior to game day to distribute to family and friends.

The doors will open 30 minutes before the start of this Friday’s game. There will be one entrance, the same as in previous years. The exit will be located at the southeast corner of the gym. The wearing of masks at all times will be enforced. Visitors are asked not to gather on the court after the game.

Social distancing guidelines are in place and will be aided by sections of bleachers closed to seating. AAA passes and Horatio district employee passes will allow the pass holder and one guest entrance.

Officials with the Horatio School District say these measures are in place to ensure the basketball season is not just exciting but a safe one as well.

Deadline nears for grant to help Arkansas small businesses impacted financially by COVID-19   11/20/20

The deadline is nearing to apply for a new grant program with the goal of financially assisting businesses in Arkansas impacted by COVID-19. The program began accepting applications on Monday.

Arkansas state agencies approved the business interruption grant for certain Arkansas businesses in the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. The grant will provide reimbursement for a portion of specific eligible expenses incurred by businesses in these industries between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020.

The grant application period will open through Wednesday, Nov. 25. Grants will be awarded on a prorated basis depending on the total number of applicants and the amount of reimbursement requested. The program anticipates making grant awards in late December.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the grant will help businesses that were disrupted by the precautions necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Arkansas small businesses having 250, or fewer, full-time employees located in Arkansas may seek reimbursement for expenses associated with COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The grant also provides assistance for some business interruption expenses due directly to local, state or federal government COVID-19 directives.

Information will be regularly posted to www.ArkansasReady.com about the grant, training and a help line.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   11/20/20

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:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County remained unchanged on Thursday for a total of 93. Total cases grew by 13 to 1,620. An additional 13 Sevier County residents have recovered from the virus for a total of 1,511. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported an additional six active cases on Thursday, raising that total to 63. Total cases grew by nine to 588. Deaths remain at 39.

The number of active cases in Howard County fell by 2 to 50 currently. Total cases grew by 11 to 747. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County reported three additional active cases on Thursday. Confirmed active cases in Polk County now number 176. Total cases grew by 24 to 642. Deaths increased by one to seven.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County active cases continue to grow in number, with another 13 reported on Thursday. Confirmed active cases now number 353 in McCurtain County. Total cases grew by 320 to 2,084. Deaths increased by one to 44.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported more than 2,200 new cases on Thursday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to nearly 140,000 confirmed and probably cases. Active cases grew by a net 421 to number just shy of 17,000 currently. Deaths increased by 22 to 2,297 and hospitalizations by two to 899.

Venison offers a versatile, flavorful addition to dinner plate   11/20/20

Arkansas is in the midst of deer season, and skillets are sizzling with the sound of a floured piece of backstrap cooking in grease. Alongside the backstrap will likely be a skillet of fried potatoes. As soon as the backstrap is done, a bit of flour will hit the grease, followed by some milk to brew up some gravy to cover the venison and accompany some biscuits cooking in the oven.

This is probably the most common vision that pops into a hunter’s mind when they think about cooking the harvest. It is a grand meal, but venison offers many more options in the kitchen than the traditional fried backstrap and gravy dish. The lean, clean and versatile meat of a deer can be prepared with a variety of methods and, with a generous limit of six deer in Arkansas, can stock a freezer for many wonderful meals.

Though the most common method of preparation for the loins might be in the frying pan, those pieces can be prepared in other ways. One simple method is to leave the inside loins whole and coat the meat with 1/2 cup of olive oil and about two tablespoons of a favorite steak seasoning.

Begin the cooking process on the stovetop in a hot skillet and brown each side of the loin. Once brown, place in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat sit for a few minutes and slice thin. This recipe can also be done with pieces of backstrap cut 8- to 10 inches long.

Venison is very versatile in the kitchen and there’s a few tips to ensure some great meals. Hunters should strive for a quick, clean kill and then cool the meat as soon as possible. Keep the meat as clean as possible, and keep it cool throughout processing until you are ready to cook it or prepare it for the freezer. Once in the kitchen, always cut the meat across the grain to help with tenderness. Venison has very little intramuscular fat, so it will cook quickly. Any fat from the deer will add to a wild taste, so careful trimming of all cuts before storage is essential.

Overcooking venison is the largest flaw many home chefs struggle with. It can make the meat tough as well as intensify the “wild” taste many people fear. Venison should be cooked to a medium doneness at most, which would be an internal temperature of around 140 degrees.

If you got a great venison recipe, let us know. Or better yet, just drop off a sample here at KDQN studios.

You can check out a list of other great venison recipes online at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pPuz9K1hHo7_vX7EkMPpn2b3OJOgnHXC/view

Sevier County Election Commission certifies 2020 results, paving way for alcohol sales    11/19/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
The Sevier County Election Commission officially certified results of the 2020 election last Friday. The final, certified tallies show 5,227 of Sevier County’s 7,457 registered voters cast their ballot in this election. That’s a voter turnout of 70 percent. That’s slightly above the national voter turnout, which figured up to around 66 percent.
Over 42 percent of registered voters in Sevier County chose to early vote this year. That’s by far a new record, considering early voting usually numbers around 30 percent. Absentee ballots also hit a record this year with 315 received in this year’s election. Normally, said Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin, absentee ballots number just a couple of dozen.
The wet/dry issue is likely part of what prompted such high voter turnout among county voters in this election. Over 67 percent voted in support of legalizing alcohol sales in Sevier County. That amount to 3,499 votes for the issue and 1,699 against.
With the election results fully certified, Sevier County is now on its way to becoming Arkansas’ 43rd wet county.
Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC, is the state’s administering agency for all things alcohol related. From here out, Sevier County’s conversion to a wet county is pretty standard policy. A number of Arkansas counties have voted to become wet in recent years. Sevier County’s path will not be much different.
State law limits liquor stores to one for every 7,500 residents. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Sevier County’s population numbers just over 17,000 people. That means the county is limited to no more than two liquor stores – that is, unless 5,500 more people moved here, and then Sevier could have three.

A spokesperson with the ABC said convenience stores and retail outlets like Walmart can apply for licenses to sell alcohol as soon as ABC receives the county’s certified election results. Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin said those results were sent out yesterday. Licenses for the sale of beer and wine are unlimited – meaning all eligible convenience and retail stores in the county could apply for a permit.

The process is different and significantly lengthier for liquor stores. Once ABC receives the county’s certified election results, the agency will post notices for the application process in local media. ABC will begin accepting applications following a 30-day notice period. The application period is also open for 30 days.

Once the application period ends, ABC will hold a blind draw to determine who will receive Sevier County’s two liquor-store licenses. ABC 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. But don’t be surprised to see beer and wine filling up shelves at EZ-Mart and Walmart before the end of this year.

Harvest Food Bank and local available to help with food insecurity this holiday season    11/19/20

DE QUEEN – With the holiday season underway, people’s thoughts are on family meals, celebrations and get-togethers. But for many area residents, this time of year is marked with uncertainty and a struggle to provide enough food on the table. Especially given the economic challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.

Area food banks are reminding local residents they have avenues to turn to for help this year. 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 operations a food pantry the first and third Tuesday of each month from 9 a.m. to 11 p.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 this year to help those who do. Through Harvest’s programs, every $10 donated helps provide food for 55 meals. That will go a long way towards helping prevent hunger this holiday season. As a non-profit organization all donations to Harvest are tax-deductible. Visit www.harvestregionalfoodbank.org or call (870) 774-1398 to learn more.

De Queen native leads volunteerism effort at Arkansas Tech    11/19/20

Submitted by Arkansas Tech University

Gold and Green Give Back – Dania Castillo, a 2019 graduate of De Queen High School and pictured third from left, was the veteran leader of the annual service day at Arkansas Tech University this month.

Arkansas Tech University student Dania Castillo played the role of veteran leader during Green and Gold Give Back 2020.

A sophomore elementary education major from De Queen, Castillo spent the morning of Saturday, Nov. 7, at Lake Dardanelle State Park with some of her sisters from Alpha Sigma Tau sorority.

They raked leaves and built relationships while contributing to ATU’s largest annual day of service.

“We have a bunch of new members out here, so I get to know them,” said Castillo. “It’s definitely a big bonding experience for us.

“I really like it because it brings the Tech community together and gives us an opportunity to participate in an annual tradition of service,” continued Castillo. “It was fun last year, so I want to do this every year I can. It benefits us as students, the university in its entirety and the community. Especially now due to COVID, it’s very important to help and give back as much as we can. It feels good when you give back.”

ATU students fanned out over 21 locations for Green and Gold Give Back 2020. A total of 96 students participated in the program, which was adjusted this year to ensure the safety of participants in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Founded in 2013, Green and Gold Give Back is an annual student volunteer effort orchestrated by the ATU Department of Campus Life.

“Civic engagement has been harder than ever to engage in during the pandemic, but at the end of the day, we recognized how important it was to serve the community of Russellville,” said Chelsea Lairamore, ATU interim assistant dean for campus life. “This year we worked outside, in smaller groups and with masks so that we could work to lower the spread of COVID.”

More information about the civic engagement programs facilitated by the ATU Department of Campus Life is available at www.atu.edu/service.

Local counties among those listed in recent White House COVID-19 report    11/19/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

A White House panel says the coronavirus situation is worsening in Arkansas and is recommending restaurants in most of the state limit indoor capacity to less than 25 percent.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force recommended the limit on capacity in the 52 counties classified as “red” or “orange.”

The panel’s report was released by the state Tuesday and lists Sevier County in the “orange” zone for COVID-19 transmissions. Howard, Polk, Hempstead and Miller Counties are listed in the report’s “red” zone list. Texarkana is noted in a list of around a dozen red-zone municipalities with a high rate of COVID-19 spread. These lists are based off the number of community infections per 100,000 residents.

Arkansas currently limits bars, restaurants and other businesses to two-thirds capacity. The White House’s report suggests lowering that limit to just 25 percent of a facility’s capacity.

The panel’s report states White House officials share the strong concern of Arkansas leaders that the current situation is worsening and that there is a limited time window to slow further cases and avoid increases in hospitalizations and deaths. The report also commended the active measures taken by Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday held his first meeting with a task force he formed to address the rise in cases and hospitalizations this winter. Hutchinson has said he didn’t expect the panel would recommend a widespread closure of the state’s businesses.

The report, which was obtained by ABC News, can be found here:

https://region8news.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/arkansas-nov-17-whctf-report-obtained-by-abc-news.pdf

Operation Christmas Child drop-off location open in Horatio    11/19/20

HORATIO – Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Collection Week is fully underway this week. Area volunteers have been transforming empty shoeboxes into gifts of hope filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and articles of clothing for children in need worldwide. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and bring joy to children in struggling communities across the world. It all starts with the help of a shoebox filled with gifts.

As in previous years, local organizers are hosting a drop-off and volunteer site at the Horatio First Baptist Church, located at 211 Hazard Street in Horatio. The church will be open for donations today from 5-7 p.m. and with the same hours again tomorrow. The church will be open Saturday, Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday. Organizers have setup a no-contact, touch-less drop-off system to ensure the safety of community members and volunteers.

In Little River County, a drop-off location has been set up at the First Baptist Church of Ashdown. The church is open for Operation Christmas Child donations today, tomorrow and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The church is also open for donations from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday.

Anyone interested in participating is asked to fill out a standard-sized shoebox with gifts for a girl or boy in certain age categories. Operation Christmas Child provides a full step-by-step guide on what and how to pack. That guide can be found online at www.samaritanspurse.org.

Historic Washington opens invite to 2020 Candlelight Christmas     11/19/20

WASHINGTON – The holiday season will inevitably look different this year, but the cherished tradition of Christmas and Candlelight returns to Historic Washington State Park this December.

Join Historic Washington State Park for the 34th Annual Christmas and Candlelight which will be held Dec. 5 and 12, 2020 from 5-8 p.m.

Visitors will be able to experience the old time beauty that candlelit streets provide as they stroll through the historic town. Decorations, music, and more will set the mood for a historic holiday experience. The homes of yesterday will be adorned with 19th century decorations and the streets will be lit by thousands of luminaries lighting the path.

Visitors can enjoy a meal at William’s Tavern Restaurant which will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a set limited menu. To accommodate more people, the restaurant will also be serving at the WPA Gym from 5- 8 p.m. Cash only accepted at the Gym.

Due to Arkansas Health Department restrictions, no in-house tours will be available. All can enjoy music and 19th century Christmas scenes throughout the park at no charge. The visitor center in the 1874 Courthouse and the Gift Shop will be open from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Face mask will be required to enter the visitor center and restaurant.

Begin your own Christmas tradition by joining Arkansas’s Premier Historic State Park only eight miles off I30 from Hope Arkansas. For more information contact Historic Washington at 870-983-2684.

Holiday Shop discussion scheduled for tonight in De Queen    11/19/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Economic Development department and the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsoring a holiday shop talk panel discussion this evening to bring together local businesses and shoppers. Discussion will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Skilled Trades building on UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus. The panel will include local shoppers and business owners in Sevier County, having a discussion that will be live-streamed on the Sevier County Economic Development Facebook page.

The panel’s purpose is to show how shoppers can help with local business retention, while allowing business owners to learn how to improve the customer shopping experience this holiday season.

Discussion topics will include what shoppers are looking for in their shopping experience, what measures local business owners are taking to improve convenience, and how business owners are maintaining a safe shopping experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other topics, such as unique gift ideas that shoppers can find locally and how online marketing is connecting local businesses with their clientele, will be mentioned.

For more information about the holiday shop talk panel discussion, contact Sevier County Economic Development Director Tiffany Maurer at tmaurer@cccua.edu or call 870-584-1184.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    11/19/20

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:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County decreased by four on Wednesday to a currently confirmed total of 93. Total cases grew by six to 1,607. An additional 10 Sevier County residents have recovered from the virus for a total of 1,498. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported no net increase or decrease in active cases, which number 56 currently. Total cases grew by seven to 579. Deaths remain at 39.

The number of active cases in Howard County fell by 15 to 52 currently. Total cases grew by eight to 736. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County reported one less active case on Wednesday. Confirmed active cases in Polk County now number 173. Total cases grew by nine to 618. Deaths remain at six.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County active cases continue to grow in number, with another nine reported on Wednesday. Confirmed active cases now number 340 in McCurtain County. Total cases gerw by 30 to 2,052. Deaths remain at 43.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported slightly more than 1,700 new cases on Wednesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of confirmed and probable cases to 137,617. Active cases of COVID-19 saw a single net increase on Wednesday and now number 16,577. Deaths increased by 30 to 2,275.

De Queen City Council mulls 2021 budget    11/18/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Officials with the City of De Queen took a glimpse into the future Tuesday night as they discussed and prepared the city’s 2021 budget.
Overall, the city will be looking at a fairly conservative budget with total expenditures slightly over $4.1 million. That’s around $400,000 more than the current year’s budget.
De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said sales tax revenue for the city has been stronger than anyone could have expected, given the COVID-19 pandemic and an uncertain economy. Nonetheless, he and other city leaders decided to focus next year’s expenditures on the bare essentials and a few necessary projects.
One of the big projects planned for next year 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.
De Queen Police Chief Scott Simmons approached council members with a request to budget an additional officer position beginning next year. The police department is currently operating with 14 officers and hasn’t received a new position in nearly a decade. Exposure to COVID-19, injuries and attendance at the academy has meant the police department is operating with a limited amount of patrol officers at any given time. It’s also meant a lot of overtime for the police department’s remaining officers. At the same time, Simmons said calls continue to increase at the rate of around a 1,000 a year.
Councilman Jeff Holcombe said he saw the need for an additional officer position. He stressed the fact that De Queen’s population is significantly higher than the signs posted on the entrances to town. Holcombe said De Queen needs a police department that reflects the town’s true population.

Brown also expressed concern over the strain and stress on officers when they’re required to work so much overtime and miss out on time with their family.

In addition to the new officer position, Simmons is also requesting $30,000 to purchase AR-15 rifles for the city’s officers. 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.

Finally, the city is currently budgeting for the replacement of two patrol cars and the addition of another one for the new officer.

Other than that, the De Queen Fire Department is seeking up to $300,000 to purchase a used fire truck. This would replace the department’s oldest unit, which can no longer pass inspection. The city’s wastewater treatment department is also asking for funds to install a new manhole and run 1,300 feet of new sewer main. This would provide a tie-in spot, Brown explained, for a new duplex complex planned for the corner of Ninth Street and Coulter Avenue.

Lastly, the budget includes a 75-cent raise for each city employee. New hires would also start off at a raised amount of $13 per hour. That would be increased to $14 per hour following a probation period. Brown said he’s seeking to include the wage increase to make city positions more competitive and cut-down on turnover among city employees.

The city council will officially vote on the budget next month.

In other business, Brown said the city is working with SWEPCO to replace streetlight bulbs in the city but manpower shortages have prevented SWEPCO from doing that so far.

Murriel Wiley also approached the city with an offer for future involvement in a number of projects being discussed for De Queen in the future. Those include a Juneteenth celebration and an African-American Museum and multi-cultural center. Wiley stressed she was not seeking funding from the city but hoped city leaders could assist in other ways with these projects as they develop.

Trial scheduled tomorrow for Horatio woman charged with child endangerment    11/18/20

DE QUEEN – A Horatio woman is scheduled to appear before a Sevier County jury tomorrow over the charge of felony first-degree endangerment of a minor.

Kaitlyn Elaine Smart, 27, entered a plea of non-guilty to the charge earlier this year. A trial is set to begin tomorrow morning in the Sevier County Circuit Court.

Smart was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor last year following a traffic stop in Sevier County last year. According to the arrest affidavit, deputies performed a traffic stop after allegedly seeing Smart run a stop sign on Highway 24. Deputies suspected Smart was under the influence during the incident. She was charged with driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest.

Smart also reportedly had her small child in the vehicle. Because of that, she was additionally charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor. Because of the DWI charge, the endangerment offense was raised to a felony.

Court documents show subpoenas were issued last week for the two deputies who investigated the incident as well as for a state toxicologist. If convicted, Smart could face a sentence of up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In other local court-related news, a continuance has been requested by the defense counsel in a jury trial for Jeffrey Boarman. Boarman is facing a felony count of video voyeurism for an incident which reportedly occurred last year. The trial was scheduled to begin tomorrow but may now be postponed to a later date.

DQSC Chamber of Commerce shares 2020 holiday initiatives   11/18/20

Submitted by Muriel Wiley of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce

As we enter the holiday season, the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is sharing a few initiatives they’ve launched to support local businesses and consumers as the winter months roll on. With COVID-19 remaining a factor in the way business is conducted, the chamber and its member businesses are taking steps to support the local economy and community by organizing a series of seasonal efforts.

Those include The Shop Local Holiday Guide which launched Monday. This is a free booklet composed of ideas, strategies and resources that will support retail store managers and restaurant owners in preparing for the holiday shopping season. This is available in both Spanish and English and designed by a team of community partners in response to feedback from the Business Retention and Expansion Surveys. In those surveys local business owners expressed a desire for more support of shop local initiatives. The shop local holiday guide can be picked up in person from the De Queen Chamber of Commerce office in Downtown De Queen.

Local economic development officials are also participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week. In celebration of our area entrepreneurs, the Sevier County Economic Development department is sharing a series of video interviews with local business owners and small business support leaders this week. The video series spotlights the ways some of our local companies have developed. In the series, Sevier County Economic Development Officer Tiffany Maurer sits down with organizers who provide resources for local entrepreneurs as they grow their business. The videos can be found on the Sevier County Economic Development Facebook page. Maurer invites anyone to call her at 584-1184 for more information.

The Holiday Shop Talk Panel scheduled for tomorrow evening will feature a live discussion between local shoppers, business owners and a chamber of commerce representative. The goal is to discover the trends in local shopping and identify practices of both consumers and business leaders in Sevier County. Loren Hinton will moderate the event. Everyone in the community is encouraged to tune in to Facebook live to ask questions and listen. This event will begin at 6:30 tomorrow evening on The Sevier County Economic Development Facebook Page. Questions during the livestream can be submitted in the comments section and participation is appreciated. This panel is co-organized by The Chamber and Sevier County Economic Development.

And Lastly, The De Queen Tour of Lights will be held Saturday, December 5 from 6-8 p.m. at Herman Dierks Park. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will provide a safe, in-person Holiday celebration for Sevier County. Residents can view the tour of lights, see creative holiday sights and enjoy the Christmas spirit by following a route beginning at Farm Bureau Insurance, 406 East Colin Raye Drive, driving through the park, and then exiting right on Lakeside Drive. Churches, businesses, and community groups are welcome to participate by setting up a stationary “float”, trailer, Christmas scene, or parked vehicle. Categories 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 and $50 for 3rd. The deadline to sign up for a display is December 1 and participating groups can register by phone at 584-3225, by emailing Dqchamber@gmail.com or via the Google doc featured on the chamber’s Facebook Page. The link to that document is also available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1d_ZjXHFnIO17sngO_r0oWYPM-tgI8iou4IgvVvcqtwA/edit

Gov. Hutchinson warns of long road ahead in Arkansas as COVID-19 pandemic worsens in state   11/18/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

State officials warn Arkansas is on the precipice of an uncontrollable rise in COVID-19 cases. Now, more than ever, Arkansans are being asked to do their part in slowing the spread of the virus. That was the message shared during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Hutchinson said Arkansas’ COVID-19 situation has escalated greatly in recent days and weeks. Figures shared on Tuesday back up the concerns of Hutchinson and other state officials. Hutchinson reported a case increase of more than 1,500 over the past 24 hours. In total, nearly 136,000 Arkansans have contracted the virus since the outbreak began in the spring. Hospitalizations continue to rise to unprecedented levels with another 34 reported on Tuesday. That leaves 895 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. Deaths increased by 20 in Arkansas to a total of 2,245.
The state’s testing regiment remains stronger than ever, with more than 10,000 combined PCR and antigen tests performed on Monday. Officials say the high level of testing evidences both the capacity of and demand for COVID-19 tests in Arkansas.
Hutchinson cited a new White House report warning Arkansas’ COVID-19 situation could dramatically worsen in the coming days and weeks. He said the study suggests an additional 1,000 Arkansans could die from the virus before Christmas.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero once again urged everyone in the state to follow local and state health guidelines. He stressed that reversing the case growth relies upon every Arkansans to do their part.
In response to the virus’ increasing impact on Arkansas, Hutchinson said the state is ramping up compliance checks and actions. Mike Moore with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration stated compliance officers are checking more bars and restaurants across the state to ensure they’re following social distancing and mask requirements.
Community asked to help with 2020 Shop with a Cop in Little River County    11/18/20
ASHDOWN – The Ashdown Police Department and Little River Sheriff’s Office are once again preparing to host their annual Shop with a Cop Program. This annual event brings together both agencies to provide Christmas to children in Little River County who might otherwise go without. Last year the program provided gifts to over 200 children in Little River County.
This is only possible, both agencies stress, with the continued support of area residents.

Officers and deputies said they are thankful for any help the community can provide. Donations can be made at the Ashdown Police Department at 745 S. Locust Street or at the Little River County Collector’s office at 351 N. Second Street.

Impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt in local schools   11/18/20

DE QUEEN – As the COVID-19 situation worsens in Arkansas, the impact of the virus and ongoing pandemic is not sparing local schools.

We reported last week on the challenges De Queen Public Schools is facing as COVID-19 cases rise locally and across the state.

The virus has had a bigger impact on the Horatio school system, which announced the end of in-person learning at Horatio Elementary School until Dec. 1. That was made necessary, said Superintendent Zane Vanderpool, but confirmed cases in two kindergarten classrooms. Contact-tracing efforts also identified several staff members as having been potentially exposed. That’s forced the district to quarantine enough teachers to make in-person learning in the elementary nearly impossible. In response the elementary school is transferring instruction to a virtual setting through the end of this month.

A number of other area schools are also reporting an increasing number of active cases among students and staff. The Arkansas Department of Health issues two weekly reports detailing schools in Arkansas reporting at least five confirmed active cases. The latest report lists over 1,900 active cases in schools across Arkansas.

The latest report, issued on Monday, includes, for instance, De Queen with eight active cases, Fouke with 18, Waldron with 16, Texarkana with 14, Mena with 10 and Cossatot River with eight.

The report also details cases within Arkansas colleges and universities. That includes 22 confirmed active cases at Southern Arkansas University and seven at UACC in Texarkana.

The next educational report is expected to come out tomorrow. The Arkansas Department of Health report can be found online at www.healthy.arkansas.gov

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   11/18/20

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:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County decreased by one on Monday to a currently confirmed total of 97. Total cases grew by 15 to 1,601. An additional 16 Sevier County residents have recovered from the virus for a total of 1,488. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported four additional active cases on Tuesday for a current total of 56. Total cases grew by nine to 572. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County saw no net change in its active case load, which remains at 67. Total cases grew by seven to 728. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County reported 17 additional active cases on Tuesday, raising that total to 174. Total cases grew by 25 to 609. Deaths remain at six.

Local and state health officials are still strongly encouraging everyone to follow those simple health guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19’s third wave. Those include practicing social distancing in public settings and washing your hands frequently. Most critically, however, is wearing a face mask whenever you’re in public and six-feet of social distancing can’t be maintained. A mask is especially vital if you have the virus – and especially if you don’t know you have it – in preventing its spread to other people.

De Queen Chamber of Commerce details 2020 “Tour of Lights”    11/17/20
DE QUEEN – A cherished local Christmas tradition will come with a fresh new twist this year as The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce has announced the community’s first “Tour of Lights” event set for Saturday December 5th at Herman Dierks Park. And chamber officials are providing some additional details on how this year’s parade will be conducted.
The change in format has been planned in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide a safe, in-person Holiday celebration for the community without putting local residents at risk of exposure.
Serving as a “reverse-style” version of the chamber’s annual Christmas parade, community members can view the tour of lights, see creative holiday scenes and enjoy the Christmas spirit by following a route beginning at Farm Bureau Insurance, 406 East Colin Ray Drive, driving through the park, and then exiting right on Lakeside Drive.
All area churches, businesses, civic organizations, and community groups are welcome to participate by setting up a stationary “float”, trailer, staged Christmas scene, parked vehicle, or festive setting of their choosing. Set up begins at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 and the tour will kick off at 6 p.m. sharp with the conclusion scheduled for no later than 8:00 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.
All tour of lights displays will be required to remain stationary for the duration of the event and to maintain a safe flow of traffic, the chamber asks that no candy or items be thrown to cars in route.
Christmas music will be provided courtesy of UA Cossatot.
The deadline to sign up for a display is Tuesday, Dec. 1 and participating groups can register by phone at 584-3225, by emailing Dqchamber@gmail.com or by Google document by clicking the link on our website, www.kdqn.net.

All local residents of De Queen and the surrounding areas are encouraged to attend the first tour of lights in De Queen. The Chamber of Commerce can be contacted by emailing DQchamber@gmail.com or calling 870-584-3225.

Fundraiser for local Arkansas State Trooper    11/17/20

DIERKS – Members of the community are pitching in to help a local Arkansas State Trooper as a battles a devastating disease.

Trooper Mason Glasgow of Dierks was recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The fund raising campaign is a two part effort. T-shirts in Glasgow’s honor are being sold right now. The shirts feature hashtag Masonsmuscles and are $20 dollars each for youth through adult xl sizes. Adult 2x & 3xl sizes are $23 dollars each and larger shirts may also be ordered at a cost of $25 dollars each.

To place a shirt order, text Lesley Simmons at 557-1936 or Lindsey Stokes at 557-1913.

Payment is available through Paypal, cash or check. Dec. 15 is the deadline to order a shirt.

The second fundraising effort for Glasgow will be a dinner and auction benefit on Saturday, Jan. 9 at the Mountain View Baptist Church and Umpire Fire Department, both located on U.S. Highway 278 South of Umpire.

COVID-19 news mixed with highest single-day deaths, announcement of Moderna vaccine    11/17/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

With multiple record single-day increases in COVID-19 cases across Arkansas over the past week, state health officials have feared that will also mean a dramatic increase in deaths from the virus. So far, the state’s daily death toll has remained relatively low. That is, until Monday, when 42 deaths were reported – the most reported in a single day since the pandemic began.

It’s far too early to suggest this is a trend in increased deaths. But, with more Arkansans hospitalized due to COVID-19 than at any other point, health experts suspect an increase in deaths is likely. As of Monday, more than 2,200 Arkansans have been killed by the virus, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

State health officials say one of the biggest challenges is the strain on healthcare workers and declining capacity in hospitals. Currently, a third of all ICU beds in Arkansas are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Of the 1,103 ICU beds in Arkansas, only 87 were open as of Monday.

The surge in new cases and hospitalizations, as well as the ever-growing active case load, prompted Gov. Asa Hutchinson to announce a new COVID-19 taskforce last Friday. The taskforce will focus on combating the virus during the winter months.

Cases are worsening not just in Arkansas, but across the nation. State and national health experts say the silver lining is the hope of two new possible vaccines. Pfizer announced last week a vaccine with a 90 percent success rate. On Monday, Moderna announced its coronavirus vaccine is seeing a nearly 95 percent success rate in its clinical trials.

A portion of Moderna’s clinical vaccine trials took place here in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Department of Health said vaccines could be potentially available in the state at the beginning of the year. In addition, when the vaccine is available to the public, there will be no out-of-pocket costs unless medical providers bill for administration costs.

AHS senior Aleya Hill signs with Louisiana Tech University    11/17/20

ASHDOWN – On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Ashdown High School Senior Aleya Hill signed her letter of intent to play softball for Louisiana Tech University.

At Ashdown High School, Aleya has been a member of the Ashdown Panther Track team and is a three-year letterman of the Pantherette Volleyball team. She is also a three-year letterman of the softball team as well as a three-year letterman of the Ashdown Pantherette Basketball team.

Casey Nichols, Ashdown Superintendent said the whole district is proud of Aleya. He said Aleya, as a multi-sport athlete and great student, has an awesome future ahead of her as she continues her education at Louisiana Tech University. Nichols added that Aleya is sure to make everyone at Ashdown Public Schools proud.”

Millwood Lake seeking input on management plans   11/17/20

MILLWOOD LAKE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is notifying the public that the scoping comment period for the Millwood Lake Master Plan and Shoreline Management Plan revisions will begin Nov. 16.

 “Scoping” is the process of determining the scope, focus, and content of MP and SMP update documents.  For a planning process such as the MP and SMP revision, the scoping process is used as an opportunity to get input from the public and resource agencies about the vision for the MP and SMP update and the issues that the MP and SMP should address where possible.

The MP guides the management of the government lands around our reservoirs. It also affects future management of natural resources and recreational opportunities to ensure the sustainability of Millwood Lake. The planning process will include an analysis of potential effects on the natural and social environment, including fish and wildlife, recreation opportunities, economics, land use, cultural and historical resources, aesthetics, and public health and safety.

The SMP for Millwood Lake establishes policy and furnishes guidelines for the protection and preservation of the environmental characteristics of the shoreline while maintaining a balance between public and private shoreline uses.

Due to the evolving Federal, State, and Local policies designed to address the spread of COVID-19, USACE will not hold traditional public workshops at this time.

To find out more about the Millwood Lake MP and SMP and to submit a comment visit the Millwood Lake MP and SMP webpage at: https://go.usa.gov/x7WQv. Comments are due by Dec. 31, 2020.

AGFC offering drop-off sites locally for CWD testing    11/17/20

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is offering a variety of options to have harvested deer tested for chronic wasting disease at no cost throughout the 2020-21 deer hunting season.

This year, the AGFC will continue its statewide system of drop-off containers, as well as its work with taxidermists and regional offices to pull samples for hunters and have them tested.

In Sevier County, a sample can be dropped off at the De Queen City Shop on East Haes Avenue. In Howard County, that testing location is the Farmer’s Cooperative in Dierks. In Little River, samples can be taken to the Little River Sanitation Department in Ashdown. The point of contact for all three of these testing locations is Brad Townsend, who can be called at 877-777-5580.

Testing locations will remain open until Feb. 28, the last day of the archery deer season.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    11/17/20

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:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County decreased by five on Monday to a currently confirmed total of 98. Total cases grew by nine to 1,586. An additional 14 Sevier County residents have recovered from the virus for a total of 1,472. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two additional active cases on Monday for a current total of 52. Total cases grew by five to 563. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County saw seven less confirmed active cases on Monday, dropping that figure to 67. Total cases remained at 721 and deaths at 15.

Polk County reported two additional active cases on Monday, raising that total to 157 – still the highest in Southwest Arkansas. Total cases grew by 17 to 584. Deaths remain at 6.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 14 more active cases on Monday. McCurtain County remains the hotspot for active cases of COVID-19 in the region with a current total of 336. Total cases topped 2,000 on Monday. Deaths remain at 43.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 1,308 cases on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of confirmed and probable cases to more than 134,000. Active cases saw a net increase of 46 and now total 16,485. Deaths increased by 42 to 2,225. There are currently 861 Arkansans hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Local and state health officials encourage everyone to follow those simple health guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19’s third wave. Those include wearing a mask and practicing social distancing in public settings, and washing your hands frequently.

In addition, with the holiday season now underway, state health officials ask all Arkansans to take precautions when gathering in social settings outside of your immediate family. Take extra precautions when considering socializing with elderly family members and friends – or even encourage them to participate virtually if possible. Take care, follow health guidance and stay safe this weekend and throughout the holiday season.

Trial in Sevier County this week for area man facing felony voyeurism charge     11/16/20
DE QUEEN – A jury trial is scheduled this week for an area man facing a felony voyeurism charge for an incident which is alleged to have occurred while he lived in Sevier County last year.
According to records from the Ninth West Judicial Circuit Court, 34-year-old Jeffrey Boarman will appear before a judge and jury this Thursday, Nov. 19.
Prosecutors are alleging Boarman secretly videotaped his 13-year-old daughter while she was undressing on at least one occasion. The incident under investigation dates to October of 2019. A state police crime lab reportedly recovered deleted photos from the incident. The girl told investigators she found her father’s iPad hidden in her closet and set to record video.
The video voyeurism charge is a class D felony which carries a sentence of up to six years in prison and fine up to $10,000.
Create Bridges podcast looks at economic development in local area     11/16/20
Submitted by UofA Extension Service
Even in the best of times, entrepreneurs face challenges of operating small businesses in Arkansas, especially those in rural areas of the state.
The Create Bridges team at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture found a way to give voice to the joys and struggles of running such a business with a new podcast that spotlights small business owners in rural areas of the state.
The podcast — titled “Arkansas Small Business: Big Rural Impact” — spotlights retail, entertainment, accommodations and tourism businesses in two areas of the state: north central Arkansas and Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties in southwestern Arkansas.
Brandon Matthews, Hazelle Whited and Murriel Wiley, all three of whom are regional program coordinators for Create Bridges, co-host the podcast. Each episode runs about 20 minutes and features a new guest and a fresh topic of discussion.

Four episodes are now available. The most recent episode, released Nov. 12, is an interview with Cave City Mayor Jonas Anderson. All episodes are available through the Spring River Innovation Hub’s Apple Podcasts and Spotify pages. They can also be downloaded at uaex.edu/createbridgesresources.

The goals of the series are to highlight products and services of businesses in these regions and to discuss ways business owners address workforce development, technology and infrastructure. The podcast also focuses on how businesses are adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers say they’re also trying to foster collaborations and partnerships between local businesses in rural communities.

The podcast is just one of several outreach efforts by Create Bridges, a multistate pilot program to help communities strengthen the retail, tourism, hospitality and entertainment sectors. These sectors provide jobs and business opportunities that frequently boost rural economies.

Create Bridges is a grant-funded project implemented by Walmart and housed by the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

For more information about “Arkansas Small Business: Big Rural Impact” or to suggest a potential business owner for an interview, email createbridgesar@gmail.com.

To learn more about Create Bridges, visit https://uaex.edu/createbridges or contact Julianne Dunn at 501-671-2158 or jbdunn@uaex.edu.

Accident in Howard County claims life, injures two others     11/16/20

UMPIRE – A single-vehicle accident in Howard County over the weekend resulted in the death of one person with two others injured.

According to the Arkansas State Police, the accident occurred Saturday on Highway 278 near Umpire. Investigating State Trooper Ernesto Echevarria reported that a 2000 Chevy Tahoe failed to stop at a stop sign and crossed Highway 278, striking an embankment on the opposite side. A passenger, 39-year-old Soundra Rivers of Hot Springs, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, 30-year-old Shane House of New Hope, and a passenger, 42-year-old Michael Hunt of Little Rock, were both injured. They were transported to the Howard County Medical Center in Nashville.

Weather and road conditions were listed as cloudy and wet at the time of the accident.

Horatio Lions update policies for 2020-2021 basketball season     11/16/20

HORATIO – The Horatio Lions kickoff their basketball season this week with a non-conference home game scheduled for Friday against the Genoa Central Dragons. The game is set to begin at 5 p.m.

Like so much else this year, athletic officials at Horatio Public Schools remind Lions fans that things will look a little different around the basketball court this season.

Horatio Athletic Director Stephen Sprick said all AAA, CDC and Arkansas Department of Health guidelines are still in effect and will be enforced. To help control crowd size, there will be no general admission tickets sold this season. Players will be issued tickets prior to game day to distribute to family and friends.

The doors will open 30 minutes before the start of this Friday’s game. There will be one entrance, the same as in previous years. The exit will be located at the southeast corner of the gym. The wearing of masks at all times will be enforced. Visitors are asked not to gather on the court after the game.

Social distancing guidelines are in place and will be aided by sections of bleachers closed to seating. AAA passes and Horatio district employee passes will allow the pass holder and one guest entrance.

Officials with the Horatio School District say these measures are in place to ensure the basketball season is not just exciting but a safe one as well.

Holiday panel discussion in De Queen this Thursday     11/16/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Economic Development department and the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsoring a holiday shop talk panel discussion that will take place this Thursday, Nov. 19. Discussion will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Skilled Trades building on UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus. The panel will include local shoppers and business owners in Sevier County, having a discussion that will be live-streamed on the Sevier County Economic Development Facebook page.

The panel’s purpose is to show various methods shoppers can help with local business retention, while allowing business owners to learn how to improve the customer shopping experience this holiday season.

Discussion topics will include what shoppers are looking for in their shopping experience, what measures local business owners are taking to improve convenience, and how business owners are maintaining a safe shopping experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other topics, such as unique gift ideas that shoppers can find locally and how online marketing is connecting local businesses with their clientele, will be mentioned.

For more information about the holiday shop talk panel discussion, contact Sevier County Economic Development Director Tiffany Maurer at tmaurer@cccua.edu or call 870-584-1184.

Operation Christmas Child drop-offs, DHS foster gift program kicks off today     11/16/20

DE QUEEN – Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Collection Week is set for Nov. 16-23. Area volunteers have been transforming empty shoeboxes into gifts of hope filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and articles of clothing for children in need worldwide. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way so that missionaries and volunteers can share the Good News of Jesus Christ. And, it all starts with the help of a shoebox filled with gifts.

For suggestions about what can be packed in shoeboxes, drop-off sites, collection dates and hours, and directions to the drop-off sites, go to samaritanspurse.org/occ. Local area drop-off sites are located in Horatio, Ashdown, Nashville, and Hope.

With the holiday season here, the Sevier County Department of Human Services is again feeling the excitement of Christmas through its annual project to provide gifts to all area children in-need.

The organization is 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 on or after Monday, Nov. 16 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 Dec. 10.

For more information, contact the Sevier County Children and Family Services staff at 642-2082.

Click-It-Or-Ticket campaign begins today     11/16/20

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas families have begun making their Thanksgiving holiday preparations.  For many Arkansans, the plans include highway travel across the state or nation.  Local and state law enforcement officers always wish the safest travels for all, but inevitably the festivities are cut short for some as the result of a motor vehicle crash.  The importance of seat belt use is greater than ever and that’s why Arkansas law enforcement agencies are reminding all drivers and their passengers to always buckle-up.  It can make the difference between an everlasting tragedy and living to celebrate next year.

Beginning today, the annual National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement plan begins and will be operational for two weeks.  Aimed at enforcing seat belt use laws to help keep people safe, the national seat belt campaign runs alongside the upcoming travel season which typically includes an uptick in traffic volume.

During the Click It or Ticket campaign, state police are joining forces with other law enforcement agencies across local and state lines to ensure the seat belt safety message gets out to all drivers and passengers. By far, buckling up is the simplest thing you can do to limit injury or save your life during a crash.

According to NHTSA, in 2018, there were 9,778 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. In that same year, 56 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night were not wearing their seat belts. The staggering statistics associated with nighttime travel has prompted the Click It or Ticket campaign to place added emphasis on evening enforcement.  Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night.

For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     11/16/20

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:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of seven cases over the weekend to a currently confirmed total of 103. Total cases grew by 32 to 1,545 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported a net increase of 17 active cases since Friday for a confirmed total of 50. Total cases grew by 22 to 558. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County reported two additional active cases for a total of 74. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 19 to 702. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County continues to witness the highest level of new coronavirus cases in Southwest Arkansas. The change has been dramatic, given Polk County saw some of the fewest rates of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. Over the weekend, the county reported a net increase of 35 cases. That raises the total of confirmed active cases in Polk County to 120. Overall cases grew by 60 to 567. Tragically the county reported an additional death on Saturday, raising the total to six.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County has the highest level of active COVID-19 cases in the surrounding area. As of Sunday, the county is reporting 322 confirmed active cases. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 89 to 1,986. Deaths in McCurtain County increased by two to 43.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 2,312 cases on Friday. That’s the highest one-day growth in new cases and marks a series of days over the past couple of weeks in which that record has been consistently broken. Slightly fewer new cases were reported in Arkansas on Saturday – a total of 1,848 – and a relatively low 874 on Sunday. Deaths grew to 2,183 as of Sunday. Hospitalizations continue to rise to record levels, with 830 Arkansans currently hospitalized for COVID-19 complications. Active cases of the virus are also at their highest level in Arkansas since the start of the outbreak. Those currently number 16,531 confirmed active cases across the state.

UofA offers resources for Arkansans facing stress this holiday season     11/16/20

Submitted by UofA Extension Service

Overcrowded schedules, bills, conflicts at work or at home are all stressors we experience on a regular basis. The holidays, with their high expectations for bringing joy and good cheer, can add yet another layer of stress to an already difficult year.

“The best way to deal with stress is to combat it in healthy ways,” said Ashley Foster, extension Family and Consumer Science program associate for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Examples of tools include nurturing support from friends and family, eating right, getting exercise and getting sleep and reframing your thinking.”

During the holidays, eating right, getting sleep and exercise can be tough, never mind the pressures of trying to host the perfect pandemic holiday gathering.

Foster said managing expectations is a good first step toward reducing holiday stress.

“Be realistic about what you can do during the holidays,” she said. “The pandemic has made things immeasurably more difficult. Don’t try to take on the whole world to create the perfect holiday gathering.

“It’s easy to feel like the whole world is on your shoulders at this time – especially in a year that has seen so many unsettling events,” Foster said. “Don’t feel like you have to do it all now. This is the time to take things one step at a time.”

This is also a time to stop and think. Foster said taking a few moments for quiet time and reflection can go a long way to increasing tolerance to stress and even finding creative solutions to problems you may be facing.

When to get help

Sometimes, however, even help from family, friends and a healthy support network, may not be enough. That’s the time to consider whether professional help may be needed.

Foster said the American Psychological Association offers these guidelines to help determine whether the situation calls for outside help.

  • Thinking about or coping with the issue takes up at least an hour each day
  • The issue causes embarrassment or makes you want to avoid others
  • The issue has caused your quality of life to decrease
  • The issue has negatively affected school, work, or relationships
  • You’ve made changes in your life or developed habits to cope with the issue.

Other signs include experiencing a sense of being overwhelmed or feel hopeless, fatigued or experience unusual rage or anger, anxiety or apathy, or feeling more withdrawn than usual.

Foster said, “it’s especially important to consider getting help if you feel controlled by symptoms or if they could cause harm to yourself or others.”

If you or someone you know needs immediate help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, chat  online at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/, or call 911.

The Cooperative Extension Service has many resources to help individuals and families cope with stress. Be sure to contact your county extension office or visit https://www.uaex.edu/health-living/personal-family-well-being/.

To learn about extension and research programs in Arkansas, visit https://division.uaex.edu/

De Queen man facing two counts of negligent homicide after fatal wreck in June     11/13/20

DE QUEEN – A De Queen man is facing two counts of negligent homicide following an accident in Sevier County which killed two people earlier this year.

Felony charges will filed last month against Hugo Hernandez, a 23-year-old resident of De Queen.

According to court records, Hernandez is being charged with two counts of negligent homicide as well as driving while intoxicated and felony battery for his role in an 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, II, 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 Honda Civic was transported to a Texarkana hospital for treatment.

Hernandez was not injured in the accident. Hernandez was arrested after charges were formally filed last month 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 Jan. 7, 2021. 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.

Like state and nation, Sevier County seeing rise in COVID-19 cases     11/13/20

The full audio story is available here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:DE QUEEN – State health experts say Arkansas is currently mired within a third wave of COVID-19 infections that is making itself felt with record cases across the nation. And locally, that wave appears to be here, too.

Active cases in Sevier County have seen a steady rise over the past couple of weeks but last week those cases hit the three-digit mark again for the first time in months. This rise follows a period in which active cases fell into the single-digit mark. It’s been a quick increase since then. For Sevier County Health Officer Dr. Jason Lofton, the increase does not surprise health experts.

Lofton said it’s only natural the virus spreads more as the colder weather arrives. People are spending more time inside and social distancing measures are harder to follow. He said that means families may need to be more creative in how they spend time inside, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers.

In Arkansas, the death rate from COVID-19 complications remains extremely low but hospital cases are nonetheless surging. Bo Ryall, CEO of the Arkansas Hospital Association, said hospital capacity is getting tighter. More critically, the state is seeing an increasing shortage of healthcare workers.

Lofton said reducing the surge in hospitalizations is one of the biggest challenges in the current COVID-19 environment.

Although Sevier County lacks an operating hospital, Lofton said the community is fortunate in having a number of healthcare providers in the area with quick and reliable testing procedures. The quick isolation of positive cases, and the quarantine of those who came into contact with confirmed cases, is key to slowing the spread.

In the meantime, Lofton encourages everyone to follow those simple health guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19’s third wave. Those include wearing a mask and practicing social distancing in public settings, and washing your hands frequently.

In addition, with the holiday season now underway, state health officials ask all Arkansans to take precautions when gathering in social settings outside of your immediate family. Take extra precautions when considering socializing with elderly family members and friends – or even encourage them to participate virtually if possible. Take care, follow health guidance and stay safe this weekend and throughout the holiday season.

First-generation student from Ashdown plans to give back to community as social worker     11/13/20

Photo by Benjamin Krain —11/06/20—
UA Little Rock student Social Work major Mercedes Parker, center, is surrounded by her family, from top left, Chester McCray, Taylor Houck and Ruby Dunn. Parker, who will graduate in December, is the first person in her family to get a college degree.

By Angelita Faller of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock

As the first person in her family to go to college, Mercades Parker, a native of Ashdown, Arkansas, wasn’t sure she could afford to go to college without taking on a large amount of student loans. Now she will graduate this spring with a Master of Social Work degree and begin a career of giving back to others.

“It all started with the Chancellor’s Leadership Corps (CLC) program,” Parker said. “They gave me practically a full ride, along with receiving the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship, and the Pell Grant that made it so I could attend college. The rest is history. I made lifelong friends, and I got a good introduction to everything about life at college. If you were struggling, there were resources offered that made sure you succeeded. They did everything they could to make sure you stayed in school.”

Since beginning at UA Little Rock in 2013, Parker earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in 2017, where she studied psychology, sociology, and health sciences. One of the first challenges she faced was learning the skills to be successful in a college environment.

“In the beginning, I didn’t really know how to study, and I didn’t have anyone I could go to in my family,” Parker said. “It was important to utilize all the resources that UA Little Rock offered. I’ve always been a go-to person, so I put myself in positions where I had to learn things. That helped me learn to rise to life’s challenges.”

Throughout her college career, Parker has worked multiple jobs to support herself. She worked as a program aide at Children International, a resident assistant, an assistant in the Academic Advising Center, an administrative specialist for the College of Education and Health Professions, a janitor, and currently an alternative teaching parent at Methodist Family Health. All of her hard work has paid off with her many unforgettable college experiences.

“I loved being in the CLC program and getting to meet the different people who I’ve come to call my sisters. I made one of them my child’s godmother,” Parker said. “I got to be on the Homecoming court, and I never even got to do that in high school. I also have a great cohort of friends in the social work program. Getting accepted into a graduate program was a great success. I honestly did not think about going to graduate school until I had an eye opening conversation with an intern with the College of Education and Health Professions. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve found a career, and I’m thankful for all the experiences I’ve had at UA Little Rock.”

Heather Reed, director of student retention initiatives and one of Parker’s former supervisors, called Parker a “true Trojan success story.”

“The first time I met Mercades, I could sense she had a spark about her and she was willing to do the work that needed to be done in order to better herself and her newborn daughter,” Reed said. “She started working in the College of Education and Health Professions Advising and Support Center right after having her daughter, and we connected because she had been an RA on campus before graduating.

Mercades was an extremely hard worker and I could tell she had a very inquisitive mind. She wanted to learn more than what her job description entailed. When she applied and was accepted to the MSW program, I knew she had found her calling. I have seen Mercades grow into an amazing young professional, and I know she is going to be able to turn the challenges she has overcome into learning opportunities when working with others in the Little Rock community.”

Parker was inspired to become a social worker because of her aunt, who became her rock after a family tragedy. Parker’s mother died when she was just 8 months old. Parker’s aunt, who had two children of her own, took Parker in along with her brother and sister and raised all five children.

“My aunt Ruby did everything right,” Parker said. “She gave up her life for us. She didn’t have to take all of us in. She is the reason I got into social work. She is a warrior, even through her struggles. Everyone needs someone at some point in their life. I want to be there for people who need it.”

Parker is completing an internship with Arkansas State Hospital, where she has a caseload of four patients. After she graduates in May 2021, Parker wants to work with adults with mental disabilities as a social worker. Additionally, she wants to use another skillset to help prepare them to reenter the workforce.

“I do hair in my spare time,” Parker said. “I plan to get my license and put it together with my social work. I want to counsel individuals and then get them ready to go back into the workforce. I want to help with their self-esteem and make them feel good about themselves.”

While finishing her degree, working, and completing an internship at the same time is challenging, Parker said her daughter is the reason she is so determined to succeed.

“My daughter, Zhane, is a very important piece of my life,” Parker said. “She pushes me to keep going and makes me smile on my darkest days. She’s looking to me. She attends some of my classes. She comes to all my Association of Black Social Workers meetings. It’s like she is growing up in the field. I want her to know that she can do whatever she sets her mind to. Being a single mother was not the plan, but with the support system I have, I am going to graduate.”

Horatio Elementary closed through Dec. 1; meals still available for students    11/13/20

HORATIO – The Horatio School District made the difficult decision this week to temporarily close the Elementary School to onsite instruction due to students testing positive for COVID-19 exposure.

Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the decision was made after consulting with the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Department of Education. According to the ADH, affected Horatio teachers and students must be quarantined for 14 days.

Vanderpool said, as a result of prior and different incidents, there were several other staff and students already on quarantine for non-related cases. As it stands currently, eight percent of students and 27 percent of staff have tested positive or are on quarantine. Vanderpool explained that many of these staff work with all of the elementary’s students so the risk of multiple exposures was greatly increased.

This Elementary school closure will be through November 20. Vanderpool said this move is expected to help control the spread of illness in the school and Horatio community. The HSD is closed for the week of Thanksgiving and a district-wide virtual day is scheduled for Nov30. Students will return to school or onsite instruction on Tuesday, Dec 1.

Vanderpool said the closure may cause difficulties for some families, he stressed Horatio students and staff have worked for this scenario in regards to technology and virtual learning procedures.

Meanwhile, Vanderpool said elementary school staff will review classroom procedures and seating arrangements. Adjustments will be made to seating and passing procedures where feasible. Upon the students’ return, teachers will review safe practices and handwashing procedures to promote a healthy environment. Additionally, the custodial staff will continue to disinfect the school daily and sanitize multiple times each week.

Meals will still be offered at no cost to all students of Horatio Elementary, including those who have committed to online learning since the beginning of the semester. Meals may be picked up between 11:00 and 12:00 at the Elementary Cafeteria drive through only. Breakfast will also be included. Parents/guardians are asked to contact Sherry Tallant by phone  by 8:30 a.m. if lunch will be needed. She can be reached at 870-832-3076 or 870-648-0057.

Vanderpool encourages the district’s families to be cautious and careful as they consider any trips away from home.

De Queen Rotary Club hosting 5K in December    11/13/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Rotary Club is inviting all area runners to participate in its annual 5K fundraiser scheduled for next month.

The 5K will be held on Saturday, Dec. 5 starting at 10 a.m. The course starts and ends in the Herman Dierks Park.

Pre-registration is $25 through Nov. 25. Late registration is $30 and continues through the morning of the race. T-shirts are guaranteed to pre-registration participants on race day. Those registering race day will receive a shirt but it may arrive at a later date.

Prizes will be awarded to the top finishers, male and female, in each division. Age divisions include 15 and under, 16-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49 and 50 and over.

Applications can be picked up at KDQN Studios, AMP Fitness, Better Body and Revels and Company. Forms can be mailed to Greg Revels, P.O. Box 271, De Queen, AR 71832. For more information email Greg Revels at greg@revelsandco.com

Checks can be made payable to Rotary.

Grant program opens Monday for certain Arkansas businesses affected by pandemic    11/13/20

A new grant program aims to financially assist businesses in Arkansas impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency. The program will begin accepting applications this upcoming Monday.

The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration received approval this week to proceed with a grant program using $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in affected industries.

According to Clint O’Neal, a vice president with the Arkansas Economic Development Council, dozens of businesses in Sevier County have received financial assistance through a previous relief funding. That funding totaled several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Arkansas Legislative Council approved a business interruption grant for certain Arkansas businesses in the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. The grant will provide reimbursement for a portion of specific eligible expenses incurred by businesses in these industries between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020.

The grant application period will open Monday, Nov. 16, and close Wednesday, Nov. 25. Grants will be awarded on a prorated basis depending on the total number of applicants and the amount of reimbursement requested. The program anticipates making grant awards in late December.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the grant will help businesses that were disrupted by the precautions necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Arkansas small businesses having 250, or fewer, full-time employees located in Arkansas may seek reimbursement for expenses associated with COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The grant also provides assistance for some business interruption expenses due directly to local, state or federal government COVID-19 directives.

Information will be regularly posted to www.ArkansasReady.com about the grant, the application period, training and a help line.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     11/13/20

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:

Confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw another decline over the past 24 hours, falling by 11 to a 110. Total cases grew by four to 1,545 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported five additional active cases on Thursday. Active cases now number 33. Total cases grew by 10 to 536. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County reported two fewer active cases on Thursday for a total of 72. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by five to 702. Deaths remain at 15.

Polk County is emerging as the new hot spot for coronavirus transmissions in Southwest Arkansas. The change has been dramatic, given Polk County saw some of the fewest rates of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. Not even two months ago that figure was in the low single digits. As of Thursday, however, an additional 15 active cases were reported. That raises the total of confirmed active cases in Polk County to 120. Overall cases grew by 19 to 507 while deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, active cases in McCurtain County grew by 20 on Thursday to 268 – still the highest in the surrounding area. Total confirmed and probable cases rose by 29 to 1,897. Deaths in McCurtain County remain at 41.

Across the state, an additional 1,809 cases were reported in Arkansas on Thursday. That raises the state’s total to just over 128,000. Active cases continue rising into unprecedented territory, with an 800 case increase on Thursday. Currently there are over 14,000 active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by 18 over the past 24 hours to 2,144.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is expected to make an announcement in regards to the state’s COVID-19 situation this afternoon. We’ll bring you that story and another other developments as they occur, both locally and across the state.

Horatio Elementary School switches to online learning due to COVID-19     11/12/20

HORATIO – The Horatio School District has decided to close Horatio Elementary School onsite instruction after two students tested positive for COVID-19. The district’s contact-tracing identified several staff members and two kindergarten classrooms that must be quarantined until Dec. 1.

As a result of minimal availability of substitutes and the number of  staff members that will be quarantined, the pre-kindergarten through sixth grade classes at Horatio Elementary will pivot to online instruction. Elementary teachers will continue to teach virtually. Onsite instruction will resume on Tuesday, Dec. 1, as the district already has a digital day planned for Nov. 30.
Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the district will continue to partner with the Arkansas Department of Health and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide a safe and healthy environment for onsite instruction.
The elementary school was closed Nov. 11 for additional sanitization as an extra precaution. Vanderpool said Horatio Elementary staff that are not quarantined are reporting to school daily for virtual learning instruction.
Rise in COVID-19 cases not sparing area schools    11/12/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
As the COVID-19 situation worsens in Arkansas, the impact of the virus and ongoing pandemic is not sparing local schools.

We reported earlier this week on the challenges De Queen Public Schools is facing as COVID-19 cases rise locally and across the state. That situation forced the Leopards to cancel their last game of the football season last week. Fortunately, and unlike many schools across the state, that was the only game De Queen was forced to cancel out of coronavirus-related concerns.
De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district remains cautious but hopeful that in-person learning will continue through the end of the semester and into 2021. He said district officials and school principals discuss and study the situation daily. So far, and despite a number of teachers and staff quarantined due to potential exposure to the virus, Sanders said the COVID-19 situation in De Queen Public Schools remains manageable.
The virus has had a bigger impact on the Horatio school system, which announced the end of in-person learning at Horatio Elementary School until Dec. 1. That was made necessary, said Superintendent Zane Vanderpool, but confirmed cases in two kindergarten classrooms. Contact-tracing efforts also identified several staff members as having been potentially exposed. That’s forced the district to quarantine enough teachers to make in-person learning in the elementary nearly impossible. In response the elementary school is transferring instruction to a virtual setting through the end of this month.

In addition, the Mineral Springs School Board voted earlier this week to move to a completely virtual learning environment through Nov. 30 due to its own COVID-19 situation.

A number of other area schools are also reporting an increasing number of active cases among students and staff. The Arkansas Department of Health issues two weekly reports detailing schools in Arkansas reporting at least five confirmed active cases. The latest report lists a number of local schools.

The report includes, for instance, De Queen with 11 active cases, Nashville with 10 and Hope with nine. Mena reported eight cases as of Monday. Ashdown and Cossatot River School Districts are currently reporting five each. Across the state, health officials are reporting more than 1,100 active cases in Arkansas schools.
The report also details cases within Arkansas colleges and universities. The only area college listed in the latest report in Southern Arkansas University, with 11 confirmed active cases.
The next educational report is expected to come out today. The Arkansas Department of Health report can be found online at www.healthy.arkansas.gov
Despite pandemic, Sevier and surrounding counties see improving unemployment rates    11/12/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Despite the state’s worsening COVID-19 situation, there is a silver lining in regards to a strengthening economy both locally and across Arkansas.
Sevier County’s unemployment rate continues to remain below the state and national averages. That’s a fact reflected in consistently strong and record-breaking sales tax collections throughout the late spring and into summer and fall.
As of September – the month with the latest county-level data – Sevier County’s unemployment rate is at 6.6 percent. Statewide the unemployment rate is 7.3 percent. The county’s unemployment rate has continued to slide since reaching a high shortly after the pandemic entered Arkansas.
Sevier County ranks 36th in the state for the lowest number of residents filing for unemployment. 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. Nonetheless, the unemployment rate is a common measure used to gauge economic strength within a community.
Neighboring Little River County reported a point-four drop in its unemployment rate, which now hovers around 7.1 percent. That ranks Little River 49th out of 75 Arkansas counties. Little River’s unemployment rate higher than the national rate, which fell sharply in October to 6.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Howard County is ranked 16th in the state with an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent. Polk County ranks in the 49th spot with an unemployment rate of 7.1 percent. For both Howard and Polk Counties, that’s a trend of decreasing unemployment rates since highs reached earlier this year.

Statewide Newton County reported the lowest unemployment rate of 4.5 percent. Chicot County has the highest at 12.4 percent.

De Queen Chamber discusses plans for 2020 Christmas Parade   11/12/20

DE QUEEN – It’s hard to believe with everything else going on in 2020 that Christmas is just around the corner. But officials with the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce hope to bring some semblance of normal this holiday season.

That, of course, means the annual De Queen Christmas parade. Organizers are currently in the process of developing plans for an exciting, but also safe, Christmas parade. Chamber President Callie Miller said that means things are likely to look a little different this year. In specific, that means a reverse parade.
A reverse parade is the choice many towns are going with this year. In effect, stationary floats and displays will be lined up along a route. Residents will then participate by driving along the route in their own vehicle. This will ensure social distancing and other state health guidelines are met. Miller said the event will be held at the Herman Dierks Park on Saturday, Dec. 5 but some of the details are still in the planning process. The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Miller said she hopes the community understands the chamber board’s decision to hold the annual Christmas parade in such an nontraditional manner. But, given the popularity of the event, it would be nearly impossible to maintain state health guidelines. Miller estimated last year’s parade drew over 2,000 people to downtown De Queen.
Miller said the chamber is currently compiling a running list of participants for this year’s Christmas parade – or rather, reverse parade. She welcomes anyone or any groups interested in contacting the chamber office between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The number to call is (870) 584-3225.

SCED hosting Holiday Shop Talk Panel in De Queen next week    11/12/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Economic Development department and the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsoring a holiday shop talk panel discussion that will take place next Thursday, Nov. 19. Discussion will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Skilled Trades building on UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus. The panel will include local shoppers and business owners in Sevier County, having a discussion that will be live-streamed on the Sevier County Economic Development Facebook page.

The panel’s purpose is to show various methods shoppers can help with local business retention, while allowing business owners to learn how to improve the customer shopping experience this holiday season.

Discussion topics will include what shoppers are looking for in their shopping experience, what measures local business owners are taking to improve convenience, and how business owners are maintaining a safe shopping experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other topics, such as unique gift ideas that shoppers can find locally and how online marketing is connecting local businesses with their clientele, will be mentioned.

For more information about the holiday shop talk panel discussion, contact Sevier County Economic Development Director Tiffany Maurer at tmaurer@cccua.edu or call 870-584-1184.

Tickets on sale tomorrow for Leopards basketball game Friday night     11/12/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Leopards senior basketball team will host Eagletown this Friday starting at 6 p.m. Tickets for the game will be available for purchase on Friday. There are 50 general admission tickets available at the administration office on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is a limit of three tickets per family. Cost is $5 each which will be paid at the gate on Friday. Everyone who plans to attend must have ticket to enter. No tickets will be available at the gate.

Tickets for the Leopards seventh grade and Junior High basketball games at Cossatot River will be sold at the gate. Fans are encouraged to arrive at the start time of the game or games their child is playing. Fans are also asked to leave as soon as the game ends to allow others the opportunity to enter for the next game. The game will begin at 5 p.m.

Survey seeking input from Arkansas parents on education amid COVID-19 pandemic     11/12/20

As part of a coordinated response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in partnership with the Office for Education Policy (OEP) at the University of Arkansas has developed a Parent/Guardian Survey for soliciting family input on what is working now and what may be considered for the future.
We encourage you to participate in this survey. Please complete the survey before November 20th.
The survey seeks to involve families in an organized, ongoing and timely way in planning, review, and improvement. The survey will provide feedback regarding:
* family concerns
* how families are making decisions
* family awareness of options and resources available
* family considerations for the future
Follow this link to the Survey:

With modern gun season starting this weekend, Arkansas wildlife officers remind of rules of the hunt     11/12/20

Even though many activities have changed in 2020, Arkansas is still an outdoorsman’s paradise. Arkansas wildlife officers are making the important reminder, however, that all hunters are required to carry a valid Arkansas hunting license while hunting and must check all harvested deer within 12 hours.

The deer woods are about to get real busy with the start of modern gun season on Nov. 14. Hunters are urged to follow all regulations and to use the guidebooks and other resources provided by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Arkansas hunters and anglers 16 years or older are required to purchase a hunting or fishing license. A license can be easily purchased online through the AGFC smartphone app, agfc.com, or over the phone at 501-223-6300, at participating sporting goods stores, nature centers and at AGFC offices.

Arkansas hunters and anglers can carry a digital copy of their hunting and fishing licenses using the AGFC smartphone app. The digital copy also may be carried on their phone as a screenshot of the license image or as an image saved in their phones’ files. They may also carry their license as a paper copy or even a reloadable plastic card to show proof of purchase.

Arkansas hunters are required to check harvested deer within 12 hours, either by the AGFC app, agfc.com, or by phone at 877-731-5627.

Anyone born after 1968 must complete a hunter education course to hunt in Arkansas, which can be completed via instructor or online. Children under 16 may hunt without hunter education as long as they are under the direct supervision of someone who is 21 years or older.

For more information on hunting safely and legally visit www.agfc.com.

AGFC again offering CWD testing; drop-off locations available locally     11/12/20

Submitted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is offering a variety of options to have harvested deer tested for chronic wasting disease at no cost throughout the 2020-21 deer hunting season.

This year, the AGFC will continue its statewide system of drop-off containers, as well as its work with taxidermists and regional offices to pull samples for hunters and have them tested. With regional offices and drop-off sites, hunters will have 100 locations around Arkansas to drop off their deer’s head for testing. An additional 52 taxidermists also will be able to pull samples for hunters free of charge. All testing is voluntary for hunters.

Although no verified cases of CWD being transmitted to humans currently exist, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly encourage everyone to have deer from a known CWD-positive area tested before consuming the meat. Testing also assists the AGFC with ongoing disease surveillance in the State’s deer herd.

Officials say it’s an easy process to get a deer tested through a drop-off location. Simply bring the deer’s head with 4 to 6 inches of the neck attached and any antlers removed to the location and place it in one of the provided plastic bags with your name and contact information on the card provided. The AGFC will collect these samples and have them analyzed by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission laboratory. Testing results should be available within two to three weeks.

Test results will be posted through a secure system at www.agfc.com/cwd.

State biologists will call the hunter personally for any test that comes back with CWD being detected.

Staff will also notify hunters via phone if their sample is not usable for some reason, so it is important to give complete information with their deer’s head.

In Sevier County, a sample can be dropped off at the De Queen City Shop on East Haes Avenue. In Howard County, that testing location is the Farmer’s Cooperative in Dierks. In Little River, samples can be taken to the Little River Sanitation Department in Ashdown. The point of contact for all three of these testing locations is Brad Townsend, who can be called at 877-777-5580.

Testing locations will remain open until Feb. 28, the last day of the archery deer season.

Arkansas modern gun deer season opens this Saturday, Nov. 14.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    11/12/20

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:

Confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County increased by four over the past 24 hours to 121 . Total cases grew by 19 to 1,541 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported no increase or decrease in confirmed active cases on Wednesday. Active cases remain at 28. Total cases grew by three to 526. Little River County reported its second death in as many days, raising the death toll from COVID-19 to 39 since the pandemic began.

Howard County reported four fewer active cases on Wednesday for a total of 74. Total confirmed and probable cases now number 697. Deaths remain at 15.

Active cases in Polk County increased by 16 over the past 24 hours to a confirmed total of 105. Total cases rose by 22 to 488. Deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, active cases in McCurtain County grew by nine on Wednesday to 248 – still the highest in the surrounding area. Total cases grew by 20 to 1,868 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 41.

Across the state, an additional 1,962 cases were reported on Wednesday. That is the highest one-day growth in new cases for Arkansas since the pandemic began, and marks a trend of a significantly rising caseload. So far, over 126,000 Arkansans have been infected with COVID-19 this year. Deaths increased by 14 on Wednesday to a total of 2,126. Active cases of the virus saw also saw an increase into unprecedented territory, with 13,691 confirmed active cases. State health officials reported a slightly increase in hospitalizations to the current total of 801.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    11/12/20

LITTLE ROCK – Funding is now available through two new programs to support low-income communities and veterans with mental health needs, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today. These initiatives were approved by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Steering Committee to help offset the negative impacts of the public health emergency using federal CARES Act funds. Applications from eligible organizations will be accepted through Nov. 18, 2020.

To be eligible for funding through either initiative organizations must:

  • Demonstrate a mission or vision to advance equity and address needs for high-poverty communities or be a non-profit veteran service organization that serves Arkansas veterans
  • Show a history of service to these populations and clear strategies for engagement with members of the community
  • Have leadership and staff who are representative of the populations served by the initiatives
  • Have been in operation since March 1, 2019

Low-Income Community Support

Many community organizations have seen less donations due to the pandemic, but low-income communities in Arkansas still rely on these organizations for food, clothing, rent, transportation, and help finding a job. CARES Act funding for non-profit and community organizations serving low-income and minority communities can help overcome infrastructure challenges that limit access. Organizations may apply to receive up to $10,000 to serve high-poverty areas in Arkansas. 

The application form and more information about the process can be found here.

Veterans’ Mental Health

The CARES Act Steering Committee also approved $3.4 million to fund supportive programs and services for veterans and their families that provide  mental health services, outreach and education, and crisis intervention for veterans experiencing mental health issues during the public health emergency.

The pandemic has caused many Arkansans to experience negative mental and behavioral health outcomes. This program aims to make sure there are targeted efforts underway to support Arkansas veterans and connect them to services in their communities. Eligible organizations may apply to get funding to support veterans experiencing mental health conditions based on the organization’s size and role in the mental health system. 

More information about the veterans mental health initiative, and the application form, can be found here.  

Applications for both programs must be submitted by Nov. 18, 2020, and funds must be used or distributed based on the organization’s plan by Dec. 30, 2020. 

Kidnapping suspect arrested in De Queen will appear before court in January     11/10/20

David Love, 24, is facing charges of kidnapping, rape, residential burglary and theft of property in Texarkana. He was arrested in De Queen in September thanks to a tip from a local resident and a quick response by local law enforcement.

TEXARKANA – A trial date has been set for a Texarkana man arrested in De Queen after an alleged kidnapping and rape earlier this year.
David Love, 24, will appear before the Miller County Circuit Court in January for a pre-trial hearing. Love is accused of assaulting and then kidnapping a 15-year-old girl from her home in Texarkana, Arkansas on Sept. 1.
According to authorities, Love forced the girl into his vehicle and then drove away from the home in a stolen vehicle. The girl reportedly freed herself and managed to escape after Love briefly left the vehicle to enter his own home. The victim was able to contact police who then began a search for Love.
Love’s warrant affidavit states he left Texarkana and drove to Sevier County following the incident.
Thanks to a tip from a De Queen resident who saw the suspect in De Queen earlier that day, local police apprehended Love after they stopped the vehicle he was driving at Diamond Bank. He was detained without further incident. He has since been extradited back to Miller County and is awaiting his court appearance on a $500,000 bail.
Court records show Love was convicted in 2014 for sexually assaulting a jogger in a Texarkana park. He received five years in prison for an attempted robbery in Bowie County in 2015. Court documents show Love was released four days before the kidnapping and assault on Sept. 1.
For that incident, Love has been charged with kidnapping, rape, theft of property and residential burglary. The felony charges could carry a sentence of life in prison if Love is convicted.
De Queen Schools cautious but hopeful during ongoing COVID-19 outbreak     11/10/20
The full audio story is available here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:
DE QUEEN – With cases of COVID-19 on the rise locally and across the state, leaders with the De Queen School District are remaining both hopeful and cautious.

Local, state, and national health experts say the nation is in the grip of what they’re calling the third wave of COVID-19 transmissions. Arkansas and the nation as a whole have recorded record levels of new cases and hospitalizations on almost a daily basis. Schools in Arkansas have not been spared in this most recent wave. For communities like De Queen, where the school district is one of the biggest elements of the community, the spread of the virus among students is inevitable.
On Monday the Arkansas Department of Health reported more than 1,100 active cases in school districts across the state. That includes a number of area schools. The De Queen School District itself has 11 confirmed active cases as of Monday. The situation has made itself felt in a number of ways, including the cancellation of Friday night’s football game after a De Queen player tested positive. It was a tough but necessary decision in regards to the last game of the season, said De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders.
The fact that the Leopards were able to play nine out of 10 scheduled games, well, Sanders said that’s a victory in 2020. Arkansas High, whom De Queen was forced to cancel its game against, was only able to play five games this season due to coronavirus-related concerns. Sanders and other district officials hope the upcoming basketball and other sports seasons can progress as successfully.
But Sanders said the district is under no illusions about the challenges the rest of the year will pose. So far this year De Queen schools have reported 78 cases of COVID-19. Thirteen of those were among faculty and 65 among students. With Arkansas in the midst of a third wave of COVID-19 transmissions – and the additional challenges posed by a highly contagious virus during the winter season – Sanders anticipates the battle is going to be a tough one. He said all the district can do is closely track the situation and follow the state’s health guidelines.
Sanders said quarantine protocols have meant a number of students and staff have not been able to attend in-person. But he added that very few cases actually test positive.
Nonetheless, Sanders said the district has contingency plans in place for the event that campuses are closed due to an expanded outbreak. That would mean a transition to a completely virtual learning platform for enough time to allow cases to reduce in number.
For the time being, however, Sanders and other district officials are remaining hopeful that school will continue in-person through at least the end of the semester. It’s a cautious hope. But given the nature of this virus, there’s not much more educators can do than stress social distancing, the wearing of masks and keeping up their students’ hopes and their own.
Lawsuit filed in Sevier County Circuit Court against Windstream for 2019 accident     11/10/20
A civil lawsuit has been filed against Windstream Communications claiming a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Sevier County last year, was due to improperly maintained utility lines.

John Christner Trucking, a logistics company based out of Oklahoma, filed the suit against Windstream late last month. Windstream is a telecommunications company which provides broadband internet, telephone service and digital TV packages.
The suit alleges Windstream was at fault for damages caused to one of Christner Trucking’s semi-trucks in September, 2019 on Highway 41 near Horatio. In court documents the plaintiff states the semi-truck was traveling on the highway when the truck suddenly jerked to the right. The driver stopped and discovered steel cables had caught the truck, effectively slicing off the top of the trailer. The driver said cables had also become tangled through some nearby trees. The force of the impact pulled down a transformer, two power poles and approximately six other wires, according to the complaint.
Following the accident, the plaintiff discovered the cables were utility lines owned by Windstream. Christner Trucking suggests Windstream allowed these cables to sag below the minimum height required by state and federal regulations. The company alleges Windstream was negligent in allowing lines to sag below the required clearances.

Christner Trucking is seeking a trial by jury in this civil lawsuit. Christner Trucking is seeking damages in the amount of nearly $18,000 plus pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, costs and attorney’s fees.

Summons in this case have been issued but no trial date has yet been announced, according to court records.

Pre-trial hearing this week for area man charged with video voyeurism     11/10/20

DE QUEEN – A pre-trial hearing will be held this week for an area man facing a felony voyeurism charge for an incident which is alleged to have occurred while he lived in Sevier County last year.

According to records from the Ninth West Judicial Circuit Court, 34-year-old Jeffrey Boarman will appear in court this Thursday, Nov. 12.

Prosecutors are alleging Boarman secretly videotaped his 13-year-old daughter while she was undressing on at least one occasion. The incident under investigation dates to October of 2019. A state police crime lab reportedly recovered deleted photos from the incident. The girl told investigators she found her father’s iPad hidden in her closet and set to record video.

Boarman, who court records show now lives in Hot Springs, was originally set for a pre-trial hearing earlier this year. However, COVID-19 forced the postponement of court proceeding across the state. Boarman is now set to appear in court on Nov. 12.

Unless a guilty plea is entered, Boarman’s jury trial is expected to begin next Wednesday.

The video voyeurism charge is a class D felony which carries a sentence of up to six years in prison.

Government offices, landfill closed tomorrow for Veterans Day     11/10/20

DE QUEEN – Government offices in the area will be closed tomorrow, Nov. 11 in observance of Veterans’ Day. That includes all area city halls as well as the Sevier County Courthouse. The Sevier County Landfill will also be closed. Offices will reopen with regular operating hours on Thursday, Nov. 12.

Fresh Start program now accepting applications from Arkansans struggling to meet rent     11/10/20

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans struggling to meet their rent in the current COVID-19 environment are now able to apply for assistance through a new state program.

The Arkansas Community Action Agencies announced they are now taking applications to assist people who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through a new program known as “Arkansas Fresh Start”.

According to a news release sent earlier this month, the rental assistance is made possible by $10 million in combined grants received from the federal government’s relief funds.

The program is now open to applicants. According to the news release, the Arkansas Fresh Start program can provide up to two-and-a-half months rent to eligible Arkansans with a household income at or below 80% of their area’s median income.

Arkansas renters who are interested can apply through their local Community Action Agency (CAA). Arkansas has 15 nonprofit CAAs, each provides assistance to certain portions of the state, according to the news release. Every county in Arkansas is served by Community Action Agency.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said the program will aid both people who can’t pay their rent and landlords who are suffering financially due to struggling tenants.

To be eligible for the Fresh Start program, officials say an applicant must meet certain criteria, such as being a full-time Arkansas resident; not able to make rental payments due to a COVID-19-related issue; and having a landlord’s stated willingness to accept the payment.

Renters wanting to apply can visit ARFreshStart.com to find their area Community Action Agency and complete an application. For residents of Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties, the agency to contact would be the Centeral Arkansas Development Council, or CADC. The CADC can be contacted at 501-315-1121. For Polk County the administering agency is the Arkansas River Valley Area Council which can be contacted at 479-219-5292.

Scholastic book fair underway to benefit Horatio Elementary     11/10/20

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary School is hosting an online book fair now through Nov. 20. The store includes over 6,000 products including award-winning books, bestsellers, boxed sets and much more. All orders ship home with free shipping on orders over $25. All purchases benefit Horatio Elementary School. Visit the book fair homepage at www.scholastic.com/bf/horatioelementary to get started.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     11/10/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County declined by six over the past 24 hours to 112 . Total cases grew by seven to 1,505 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported five fewer confirmed active cases on Monday for a total of 31. Total cases grew by two to 519. Deaths remain at 37.

Howard County reported five fewer active cases for a new total of 76. Total confirmed and probable cases grew by three to 445. Deaths remain at 15.

Active cases in Polk County increased by six over the past 24 hours to a confirmed total of 74. Total cases rose by 10 to 445. Deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County saw five additional active cases on Monday. That raises the total to 235 currently confirmed active cases. Total cases rose by 19 to 1,824. Deaths remain at 41.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 945 additional cases on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of confirmed and probable cases to just under 123,000 since the pandemic began. Active positive cases grew by a net total of eight to 12,488. Deaths increased by 23 to 2,108. Hospitalizations saw another sizeable increase on Monday, raising by 45. That leaves 786 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Sevier County Medical Center inaugurates construction with groundbreaking ceremony     11/09/20
The full audio interview is available here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

LINING UP – Local and state leaders dig golden shovels into the ground to officially inaugurate construction of the Sevier County Medical Center.

Local and state leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday to officially inaugurate construction of the new Sevier County Medical Center.

Nearly 100 people gathered for the event, held at the construction site located several miles north of De Queen on Highway 71. The ceremony was held on little more than a dirt road built through a forested section on the property. But that did not reduce in any way the significance of the event, the future hospital and what it means for the area.
Over 30 local and state leaders participated in the groundbreaking by driving golden shovels into the dirt as a symbolic start to construction. Those present included Clint O’Neal, an executive vice president with the Arkansas Economic Development Council. Others present included UA Cossatot Chancellor Dr. Steve Cole, who also serves as the chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. Speakers included Angie Walker of the Sevier County Quorum Court, County Judge Greg Ray, De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown and Bruce Jackson, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation.
O’Neal of the Arkansas Economic Development Council said the new hospital is part of a bigger picture of economic strength and recovery in Arkansas in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
During the ceremony, County Judge Greg Ray said credit for the new hospital goes to many groups and individuals. One of the most important, he said, was the citizens of Sevier County. The county voted overwhelmingly last year to financially support the hospital through a new sales tax. Ray also highlighted the role of the hospital board of governors as well as the support of Justice of the Peace Charles Keels, who passed away in September.
Mayor Jeff Brown described the challenge posed by the loss of De Queen’s hospital last year and what the development of the new Sevier County Medical Center means for the area.
The new hospital is expected to open in the spring of 2022 and employ over 100 full-time positions.
Pilgrim’s announces $225,000 donation to new hospital for walking trail     11/09/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
HOMETOWN STRONG – Eddie Halter, complex manager for Pilgrim’s in De Queen, announces the company’s $225,000 donation to the Sevier County Medical Center for the addition of a walking trail around the hospital. The walking trail is part of a $715,000 donation the company is making to projects in Sevier County
Friday’s ceremony also included a piece of huge news for the new hospital. That was an announcement by Pilgrim’s De Queen Complex Manager Eddie Halter that the company is donated $225,000 for the construction of a one-mile walking trail around the hospital. The donation is part of Pilgrim’s new Hometown Strong Initiative. Halter said that program is bringing $715,000 in community investments to Sevier County with $225,000 for the hospital walking trail.
Halter said the company is very proud to play a role in supporting the development of the Sevier County Medical Center, which is an important project for the entire community. Halter said the Hometown Strong initiative seeks to help team members and neighbors in what has been a challenging year for everyone.
More than 1,400 people are employed at the Pilgrim’s De Queen facility, 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.
All of Arkansas can support the state’s servicemen and women this Veterans’ Day    11/09/20
By State Representative DeAnn Vaught
Veterans live and work in every community of Arkansas. We are their friends, their family, their co-workers, and their neighbors. It is up to us to ensure that every veteran feels that his or her service to this country is appreciated.
There are ways every Arkansan can help our veterans. Shop at your local businesses that support the military and hire veterans. Reach out to your veteran community and find ways to volunteer. We can all teach our children about the sacrifices veterans have made and create a new generation of appreciation.
But the easiest way is to simply say, “Thank you for what you have done for our country.”
On this Veterans Day, we would like to say a special thank you to the more than 219,000 veterans who call Arkansas home.
Every session, we introduce legislation to make Arkansas a better place for our military members and vets. In the most recent session, we passed legislation to make it easier for military spouses to find employment quickly and legislation paving the way for an extensive study on veteran affairs in our state.
Act 551 directs the House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth, and Legislative and Military Affairs and the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs to meet jointly to conduct the Arkansas Legislative Study on Veterans Affairs. The study aims to examine veterans’ issues in the state, including the occurrence of suicide among the veteran population. The committees have conducted town-hall-style meetings across the state to hear from veterans. They will use the information they’ve gathered to make recommendations for the 2021 Regular Session.
We also passed Act 820. This legislation states an occupational licensing entity shall grant active military members and returning veterans, as well as spouses of active military and returning veterans, with automatic licensure to engage in an occupation or profession if they have an equivalent license in another state.
And in 2017, we passed legislation exempting military retirement benefits from state income tax.
We look forward to continued progress. May we continue to make our state a place our vets are proud to call home.
Sevier County Department of Human Services hosting gift program for local foster children    11/09/20

DE QUEEN – With the holiday season here, the Sevier County Department of Human Services is again feeling the excitement of Christmas through its annual project to provide gifts to all area children in-need.

The organization is 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 on or after Nov. 16 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 Dec. 10.

For more information, contact the Sevier County Children and Family Services staff at 642-2082.

Today is last day to register for Sevier County’s ServSafe class    11/09/20
DE QUEEN – Today is the last day to register for the ServeSafe Manager Training hosted by the Sevier County Extension Office.

The ServeSafe Food Handler and Manager training programs walks business owners, managers and restaurateurs through the process of safely receiving, storing, preparing and serving food. ServSafe has been the industry national standard for years and has trained over one million managers and employees.

Maybe, as a consumer, you have seen the ServSafe certificate posted in several restaurants. If you see this certificate, you can be assured the manager has had training in safe food handling.

In the past, the program was recommended but not mandated. Recently, the Arkansas Department of Health is now requiring each food service facility to have at least one supervisory employee who has Certified Food Manager training.

Sevier County Extension Office will be offering ServSafe Manager Training on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 at UA Cossatot Skilled Trades Building. Training will also be provided in Spanish on Nov. 16 and Nov. 17. Classes will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The participation fee is $140, which includes text material, test, instruction, and proctoring fee.

Registration deadline is end of business today. Space is limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.  To request a registration form or for more information, call Sevier County Extension Agent Janet Cantrell at 584-3013 or email jcantrell@uaex.edu.

Tomorrow is virtual meeting over future use of Albert Pike Recreation Area    11/09/20

LANGLEY – Ouachita National Forest officials will hold what they’re calling a Virtual Collaboration Workshop tomorrow to listen to public input on the desired future of the Albert Pike Recreation Area. The meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 10.

The Forest Service proposes to make changes in the long-term management and use of the Albert Pike Recreation Area, located on the Little Missouri River in the Ouachita National Forest. Information gathered during this workshop will be considered during the development of future plans for the park.

The meeting will take place virtually on Microsoft Teams Live. The presentation will include information on the planning process, the project’s purpose and how the public can be involved. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

For more information, registration details or to ask questions, visit the forest’s website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita/.

The Albert Pike Recreation Area has been closed since a devastating flood killed 20 people between the night of June 10-11, 2010.

Sevier County Quorum Court to meet today    11/09/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet today at 2 p.m. in the Weyerhaeuser Room on UA Cossatot’s De Queen campus. The meeting will begin with an update form the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.

Justices of the Peace will then vote on several routine financial and appropriation matters and an ordinance to levy 2020 taxes to be collected in 2021. The agenda also includes an ordinance to amend the 2020 operating budget. Finally, the quorum court will hear a a request to appropriate an  additional $5,000 to the county’s juvenile probation fee fund to cover juvenile housing costs.

Finally, the quorum court will hear an announcement from Muriel Wiley of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.

State announces new grant funding for low-income communities, support for veterans    11/09/20
LITTLE ROCK – State Representative DeAnn Vaught has shared information detailing funding that is now available through two new programs to support veterans with mental health needs and low-income communities in Arkansas. and, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today. These initiatives were approved by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Steering Committee to help offset the negative impacts of the public health emergency using federal CARES Act funds. The Arkansas Department of Human Services is administering the two grant programs.
Veterans’ Mental Health

The CARES Act Steering Committee approved $3.4 million to fund supportive programs and services for veterans and their families. These services seek to provide mental health services, outreach and education, and crisis intervention for veterans experiencing mental health issues during the public health emergency.

The pandemic has caused many Arkansans to experience negative mental and behavioral health outcomes. This program aims to make sure there are targeted efforts underway to support Arkansas veterans and connect them to services in their communities. Eligible organizations may apply for funding to support veterans experiencing mental health conditions.

Low-Income Community Support

Funding is also available to support lower-income communities in the state. Many community organizations have seen less donations due to the pandemic, but low-income communities in Arkansas still rely on these organizations for food, clothing, rent, transportation, and help finding a job. CARES Act funding for non-profit and community organizations in low-income and minority communities can help overcome some of these challenges. Organizations may now apply for up to $10,000 to serve high-poverty areas in Arkansas.

Applications from eligible organizations will be accepted through Nov. 18, 2020.

To be eligible for funding through either initiative organizations must demonstrate a mission of advancing equity and addressing needs for high-poverty communities. Or be a non-profit veteran service organization that serves Arkansas veterans

Eligible organizations must also show a history of service to these populations and clear strategies for engagement with members of the community

Recipients must have leadership and staff who are representative of the populations served by the initiatives

And finally, organizations must have been in operation since at least March 1, 2019

Applications for both programs must be submitted by Nov. 18, 2020, and funds must be used or distributed based on the organization’s plan by Dec. 30, 2020.

For more information, visit the Arkansas Department of Human Services website at www.humanservices.arkansas.gov.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    11/09/20

DE QUEEN – Detailing the overall COVID-19 environment in the local area, here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County witnessed a net increase of four cases over the weekend and now number 118. Total cases grew by 20 to 1,498 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported no net increase or decrease in cases since Friday. Active cases remain at 36. Total confirmed and probable cases grew by 10 to 517. Deaths remain at 37.

Howard County reported a net increase of 16 new active cases since Friday for a total of 81. Total cases grew by 29 to 687 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by one over the weekend to 15.

Active cases in Polk County saw a net increase over the weekend of 15, raising the total of currently confirmed active cases to 68. Overall cases rose by 25 to 435. Deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a net increase of 33 active cases for a current total of 230. Total cases grew to 1,805. Deaths remain at 41.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported a new one-day record in case growth on Saturday. That day, state health officials confirmed an additional 1,870 cases. Cases grew by another 1,038 on Sunday for a current total of nearly 122,000 since the start of the outbreak. Confirmed active cases of COVID-19 continue to hit daily records, with 12,480 currently confirmed cases. Deaths increased by 17 on Sunday to 2,085. Hospitalizations grew by 19 to 741 Arkansans currently hospitalized by the virus. That’s the highest level of hospitalizations in Arkansas since the start of the pandemic.

CONSUMER ALERT – Attorney General’s Office warns of scams targeting funeral homes    11/09/20

LITTLE ROCK – The loss of a loved one is difficult enough for family as they make funeral arrangements, but scam artists have been targeting funeral homes to trick the businesses into giving the recently passed family member’s social security number and other personal information. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s Office has identified scam artists posing as family members calling funeral homes seeking the social security number of “their beloved family member” to complete end-of-life arrangements.

“Scam artists have taken their skills to a new low by targeting families and businesses dealing with the heart-wrenching loss of our loved ones and causing long-term problems for the family and finances,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I urge any funeral homes receiving calls demanding social security or personal information to hang up the phone and call my office immediately.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers and businesses avoid social security scams:

  • Establish policies and procedures.  Protect consumer information and prevent consumer data breaches.
  • Train your staff. Make sure all employees know your office’s policy about consumer privacy protection and safeguards, when it comes to purchasing supplies, receiving goods, and invoicing.
  • Verify to clarify. Be wary of anybody who calls out of the blue claiming to be your regular supplier or client.  Ask the caller to verify the account number or contact your supplier or client independently to confirm the authenticity of the information offered.
  • Consider adopting a policy where the company does not provide personal information over the phone without prior authorization
  • Be skeptical of any phone call requesting personal information, such as social security numbers, and verify the identity of the caller

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

COVID-19 cases on the rise in Southwest Arkansas     11/06/20

DE QUEEN – State health experts say Arkansas is currently experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 infections that is making itself felt with record cases across the nation. And locally, that wave appears to be here, too.

Cases in Sevier County have seen a steady rise over the past couple of weeks but Thursday marked the highest one-day growth in new cases since mid-summer. Yesterday, the Arkansas Health Department reported 15 new active cases in the county for a total of 114.

Sevier County is not the only one in Southwest Arkansas witnessing this third wave. Howard County reported an additional 20 confirmed active cases over the past 24 hours for a total of 65. Polk County reported 15 new cases, raising the number of active cases to 53. Little River County, however, reported no new active cases on Thursday.

Arkansas marked another one-day new-case record on Thursday when state health officials reported more than 1,500 new cases.

Across the U.S., new cases have been trending upwards since mid-September but began spiking late-October. The caseload has been hitting record levels almost every day. But Thursday marked the worst day for the United State’s since the COVID-19 pandemic began. National health officials reported more than 121,000 new cases and over 1,100 deaths. That leaves the national death toll from COVID-19 at over 235,000 Americans.

In Arkansas, the death rate from COVID-19 complications remains extremely low but hospital cases are nonetheless surging. Bo Ryall, CEO of the Arkansas Hospital Association, said hospital capacity is getting tighter. More critically, he said the state is seeing an increasing shortage of healthcare workers.

Arkansas schools are not being spared during the pandemic. The educational report released on Thursday by the Arkansas Department of Health showed a number of area schools with five or more active cases. Those include De Queen, Centerpoint, Nashville, Waldron, Hope, Texarkana and Magnolia. Ashdown Public Schools was also named to the list for apparently the first time on Thursday with five active cases.

Currently, De Queen Public Schools is reporting 11 active cases. De Queen schools have reported 12 faculty transmissions and 63 cases among students since the outbreak began.

Local and state health officials encourage everyone to follow those simple health guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19’s third wave. Those include wearing a mask and practicing social distancing in public settings, and washing your hands frequently.

In addition, with the holiday season now underway, state health officials ask all Arkansans to take precautions when gathering in social settings outside of their immediate family. Take extra precautions when considering socializing with elderly family members and friends – or even encourage them to participate virtually if possible. Take care, follow health guidance and stay safe this weekend and throughout the holiday season.

De Queen First Assembly to host Thanksgiving revival, groceries giveaway    11/06/20

DE QUEEN – De Queen First Assembly of God will host a Thanksgiving Revival later this month. The event is scheduled for Nov. 29 with separate sessions scheduled at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The event will feature Evangelists Jonathan and Brittany Thacker. The Thackers are a family ministry who travel together full-time with their two children, Tyson and Kensley, Jonathan previously worked in the oil field for nine years, but after a radical encounter with God, he felt led to resign from his job and pursue the calling of Evangelism in his life.

De Queen First Assembly will also be giving away Thanksgiving groceries later this month as part of its mission in the community.

The Thanksgiving Grocery Blessings event will be held Nov. 22 at 10:30 a.m. Groceries will be offered to the first 100 families in-need who arrive. Recipients will receive a ticket at the information center as they arrive. Groceries will then be given out after the service. No deliveries are available. Call 584-3435 for additional information.

For more information contact De Queen First Assembly at 584-3435.

Passing of Issue 1 on state ballot means continued improvement funds for local roads    11/06/20

DE QUEEN – Local and state officials are claiming a victory for the state after Arkansas voters passed Issue 1 on the statewide ballot in this year’s election.

Issue One, known as the “Transportation Sales Tax” passed in Arkansas with over 55 perc3ent of voters in favor of the measure. Here in Sevier County, the measure received over 65 percent of the vote.

According to the Arkansas Department of Transportation, this issue is a permanent extension of the half-cent sales tax that has been in place since 2012. The tax is dedicated to improving roads across Arkansas.

State officials say the tax brings in around $90 million a year in revenue for road improvement projects. The funding structure splits that revenue 70 percent for state projects and 15 percent each for Arkansas cities and counties. That equates to around $400,000 a year for Sevier County and $125,000 for the City of De Queen. The money trickles down to cities as small as Gillham, which receives several thousand dollars annually through the tax.

The revenue the tax collects for state use obviously trickles down to local areas as well. The state’s 2024-2033 Draft Program of Bridge and Pavement Improvement Projects shows a number of projects planned for U.S. Highways 70 and 71 in Sevier County.

Thanksgiving Click-It-Or-Ticket campaign kicks off Nov. 16    11/06/20

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and more drivers hit the roads, local and state law enforcement agencies are reminding all drivers of the importance of seat belt use. This annual campaign is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s national Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement effort that runs from Nov. 16-29, 2020. Aimed at enforcing seat belt use to help keep people safe, the national seat belt campaign runs concurrent with this busy travel season.

To kick off this year’s Click It or Ticket seat belt mobilization effort, ofials asking all states to participate in the Border to Border (B2B) initiative, a 1-day national seat belt awareness event on November 16 that is coordinated by participating state highway safety offices and local departments. B2B aims to increase law enforcement participation by coordinating highly visible seat belt enforcement and providing seat belt fact sheets for drivers at heavily traveled, highly visible state border checkpoints.

According to NHTSA, in 2018, there were 9,778 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. In that same year, 56 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts. That’s why one focus of the Click It or Ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement. Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night. In Ashdown Arkansas, the penalty for a seat belt violation is $70.00.

For more information on the Click It or Ticket mobilization, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.

Thanksgiving Click-It-Or-Ticket campaign kicks off Nov. 16    11/06/20

Submitted by Ronda Pounds of Ashdown Public Schools

Two Ashdown teachers have received grants through Arvest Bank’s annual “We Love Teachers” campaign.

The school district announced sixth-grade math teacher Madison Taylor was one of the recipients. The second recipient was Ginger Hillis, Ashdown High School Panther Theatre teacher. Each teacher received $500 for classroom needs.

According to an Arvest press release, “The campaign is designed to recognize – and provide support to – teachers throughout the Arvest footprint.  This year, Arvest is awarding a total of 157 $500 gifts to individual teachers throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.”

School officials said, “Ms. Taylor and Mrs. Hillis love what they do and for them to be nominated and chosen shows they are in the right profession.  They love their students and work so hard each day to teach.  For them to be recognized by Arvest Bank is wonderful. The district is thankful for the support that Arvest provides to Ashdown students and staff and all of Ashdown Public Schools.”

After wet vote, Sevier County may see beer, wine sales before end of year     11/05/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
This year’s election marked a historical moment for Sevier County for a number of reasons. But no doubt the most significant was the overwhelming vote to legalize alcohol sales. Nearly two-thirds of voters cast their ballots in favor of the measure. Sevier County is now on the road to becoming Arkansas’ 43rd wet county.
It was a local decision made by local voters. But it leaves the question hanging, what next?
Well, the answer to that question will not be local but come instead from the state level.
Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC, is the state’s administering agency for all things alcohol related. Yesterday, I spoke with Scott Hardin, a spokesperson for the agency. From here out, Sevier County’s conversion to a wet county is pretty standard policy. A number of Arkansas counties have voted to become wet in recent years. Sevier County’s path will not be much different.
But to start with, Hardin did correct us on some the reporting we’ve done on the wet/dry issue. We’ve stated that Arkansas law allows one liquor store per 5,000 residents in a wet county. That formula actually changed in the recent state legislative session, Hardin said. State law now limits liquor stores to one for every 7,500 residents. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Sevier County’s population numbers just over 17,000 people. That means the county is limited to no more than two liquor stores – that is, unless 5,500 more people moved here, and then Sevier could have three.
Hardin provided other information on the county proceeds from here. Most interestingly perhaps, people may be able to buy beer and wine in Sevier County as early as late November or early December. Hardin said convenience stores and retail outlets like Walmart can apply for licenses to sell alcohol as soon as ABC receives the county’s certified election results. And Sevier County election officials are scheduled to meet next Friday to certify those results. Hardin said licenses for the sale of beer and wine are unlimited – meaning all eligible convenience and retail stores in the county could apply for a permit.
If you were hoping to purchase something stronger than beer or wine in Sevier County this year, well, don’t hold your breath just yet. The process is different and significantly lengthier for liquor stores. Once ABC receives the county’s certified election results, the agency will post notices for the application process in local media. ABC will begin accepting applications following a 30-day notice period. The application period is also open for 30 days.
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. But don’t be surprised to see beer and wine filling up shelves at EZ-Mart and Walmart before the end of this year.
DQ City Council agrees to include $110,000 for park renovation in 2021     11/05/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Residents of De Queen will likely see some sizeable improvements to the Herman Dierks Park next year.
That was the big topic discussed during the council’s meeting Tuesday night. Parks Director Gaytha Bakenhus attended the meeting and informed council members of broken or wore out playground equipment in the park. Some of the equipment, she said, dates back 25 years. All-in-all, Bakenhus said the renovations are expected to cost around $110,000 to complete.
Mayor Jeff Brown informed the council that the family of Herman Dierks had given the city $94,000 years ago for future renovations at the park. The money has been sitting in a city CD ever since. Using that fund, Brown said the city would need just $16,000 in next year’s budget to cover the projected remainder. The renovations would also include the climbing boulder discussed by council members at several previous meetings.
The council voiced its support of the renovations and funding plan. The council is expected to meet in December to formally vote on the 2021 city budget.
In other business, the council approved the nomination of Noel Bard of First State Bank in De Queen to the city’s Industrial Park Public Facilities Board.
The council then voted to provide most uniformed city employees with an annual clothing allowance. Previously, uniformed city employees were reimbursed $250 a year for work-related clothing they purchased.

The council will meet again Nov. 17, when members will hear from city department heads over next year’s budget proposals.

Youth deer hunt in Arkansas is this weekend     11/05/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Heading into “No Shave November,” the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation(APCF) challenges men across the state to ditch the shaving cream and razor for a month to help raise awareness about prostate cancer.

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That was Chris Collier, executive director of the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation. One in every nine men in Arkansas will face a diagnosis of prostate cancer in their lives, but the disease is nearly 100% survivable if detected early. That’s why the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation is asking the men of Arkansas to go 30 days without shaving for a good cause. No Shave November is a fun way to raise awareness for a very serious threat to men’s health in our state. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men – and among men, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

Given the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, No Shae November is an easy and effective way to raise awareness and funds for the cause.
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This year, Collier is leading by example in a beard-to-beard fundraising competition with his good friend, Mark Hayes, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League.

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Men of all ages across Arkansas are encouraged to take part in No Shave November either individually or as part of a competition in their workplaces, churches, teams or other social groups. They can then make a donation to APCF as a group or find creative ways to encourage others to donate on behalf of them and their beard. All money raised remains in Arkansas to support the foundation’s free awareness and educational programs, free prostate cancer screenings and free patient assistance programs. The Foundation also provides support to survivors and men undergoing treatment through a network of peer group meetings and patient navigation programs.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 1,860 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in Arkansas this year and APCF believes that no Arkansan should face prostate cancer alone. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing the disease and the risk of prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. However, prostate cancer is nearly 100% survivable if detected early and screening can be as simple as getting blood drawn. To learn more about No Shave November and supporting prostate cancer awareness in Arkansas, visit: arprostatecancer.org/no-shave-november/

Chris detailed other ways Arkansans can find out more about No Shave November and prostate cancer in general.
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Youth deer hunt in Arkansas is this weekend     11/05/20

The kickoff to modern gun season is less than two weeks away, but hunters under 16 will get an early crack at a deer this weekend during the Arkansas modern gun youth deer hunt.

Only hunters six- to 15-years-of-age may harvest deer during the modern gun youth deer 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. Youth who have completed hunter education may legally hunt on their own at their parent or guardian’s discretion.

Youth hunters are allowed to take bucks during the youth hunt and during regular deer season without regard to antler-point restrictions for both of the bucks in their seasonal bag limit. They must follow modern gun deer zone limits, and deer taken during the youth hunt count toward their seasonal bag limit.

This year youth hunters will need their own unique Customer Identification Number to check their deer upon harvest. The CID number is free to obtain and will remain with the hunter throughout their life. Anyone who already has purchased a hunting license or applied for a permit hunt of any kind has already been issued a CID number and will use that to check their deer.

Hunters have 12 hours from the time of harvest to check deer and other big game animals in Arkansas. If a hunter cannot immediately check their deer before moving it, they must tag the deer with any piece of paper or material with their name, address, date and time of harvest and the sex of the deer. Once the deer is checked, this tag may be removed. Once checked, physical tags are no longer necessary as long as the deer remains within the hunter’s immediate presence. If the hunter leaves the deer at a camp, processor or other location before arriving home, the deer’s carcass must be tagged with the hunter’s name, address, date and time of harvest, and sex of the deer if it has not been checked.

Deer may be checked online at www.agfc.com, by phone at 877-731-5627 or through the AGFC’s smartphone app (which is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store). The app even allows a hunter to check a deer without a cell phone signal.

Visit www.agfc.com for more information on the modern gun youth deer hunt.

Obtain a free Customer ID number by clicking the “Buy Licenses/Check Game” button at the top of the page and creating a new customer profile for your youth hunter.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     11/05/20

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:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a sizeable increase over the past 24 hours, rising by nine to 99. Total cases grew by 22 to 1,458 since the pandemic began. An additional 13 Sevier County residents have recovered from the virus, for a total of 1,343. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two fewer active cases on Wednesday for a new total of 30. Total confirmed cases grew by 11 to 502. Deaths remain at 37.

Howard County reported two fewer active cases on Wednesday, lowering the total to 45. Total cases grew by three to 631. Deaths remain at 14.

Active cases in Polk County grew by six to 38 on Wednesday. Total cases increased by nine to 394. Deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a decrease of two active cases for a new total of 186. Total cases grew to 1,729 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 41.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health noted 1,293 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to nearly 116,000 cases. Active cases of the virus rose by 174 yesterday to a total of 10,010 cases. Deaths increased by 23 to 2,026. Hospitalizations decreased by 25 to 642 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Sevier County votes to legalize alcohol sales in historic election     11/04/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Tuesday night was one of history in the making for Sevier County. For the first time in over a century, the sale of alcohol will be legal here.
Sevier County voters turned out in overwhelming numbers this election to vote in favor of legalizing alcohol sales. Final results were tallied around 10 o’clock last night and showed nearly 62 percent of voters approved the alcohol issue. That translates into 3,499 votes for the measure and nearly 1,700 against.
The sale of alcohol in Sevier County has been illegal since prohibition began in 1920. The county is now the 43rd in Arkansas to legalize alcohol sales. Although there have been previous attempts to get the issue before Sevier County voters, the wet/dry issue has not been on the local ballot since 1946. Last night, however, voters in Sevier chose to overturn the century-old ban and again allow alcohol sales within the county.
The wet/dry issue was presented to Sevier County voters following a petition drive earlier this year by the Sevier County EDGE Vote for Growth Committee. Organizers behind the effort cited the economic impacts of legalizing alcohol sales in the county. With Sevier County bordering two wet counties, EDGE members argued – and apparently, given last night’s results, quite successfully – that Sevier County was sending much-needed tax revenue to other areas. Supporters also suggested the economic benefits of alcohol sales would be enjoyed by local restaurants who were missing out on additional sales. Also, EDGE members argued the county was missing out on tourism, new hotel accommodations and new recreational activities due to its ban on alcohol sales.
That particular obstacle is no longer in place after the sizable support given to the issue in this election. That’s despite an effort on behalf of some county residents to oppose the issue on moral grounds. Opponents feared allowing alcohol sales would contribute to increased crime, deaths and alcohol-related medical issues in the community.
Nonetheless, nearly two-thirds of Sevier County voters cast their ballot in support of the issue. The road from here is, however, not entirely clear at this time. Wet counties are allotted one liquor store for each 5,000 residents. Sevier County’s population would provide for three under that formula. Restaurants will now be able to apply for licenses to serve alcohol on their premises.
The sale of alcohol is regulated by the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC. Anyone wanting to now open a liquor store in Sevier County will have to apply for a license through the ABC. In other counties those licenses were issued through a blind draw. Apparently any and all restaurants in the county who wish to do so can now apply for a license to serve alcohol on-site. It’s a state-regulated process and one we expect to share more details on in the coming days.
But for now, supporters of the issue are celebrating just the simple fact that the century-old ban is no more.
Lee Ann Pitchford wins De Queen City Council race; Gillham voters approve sales tax measure     11/04/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
We’ve already looked at the success of the issue to legalize alcohol sales in Sevier County. But there were other local issues and races at stake during this year’s election.
Many residents of De Queen were certainly keeping their eye on the race for the Ward 2, Position 1 seat on the De Queen City Council. That race was between incumbent Teresa Bunyard and Challenger Lee Ann Pitchford.
The end of voting last night showed Pitchford winning that election with over 58 percent of the votes cast. That equated to 685 votes for Pitchford against Bunyard’s 481. Pitchford will now serve as the newest member of the De Queen City Council following Bunyard’s 20 years in that position. Pitchford will officially takeover the seat in January of next year.
Gillham voters also turned out to support an additional one-cent sales tax increase within the Gillham City limits. Sixty Gillham voters turned out for that election, with nearly 62 percent – or 37 voters – casting their ballot in support of the tax increase.
Sevier County voters who live in the Dierks School District Boundaries narrowly passed a continuation of Dierks current school millage rate. That issue passed by just four votes out of a total of 52 cast in Sevier County.
Sevier County voters also joined those from across Arkansas in supporting and passing issues 1 and 2 on the Arkansas ballot. Issue 1 makes permanent a half-cent sales tax measure for infrastructure improvement. That was a big issue down to the local level, given the tax’s funding structure. That structure splits 30 percent of the tax revenue collected between Arkansas counties and cities. The issue’s defeat at the polls would have meant the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue locally, including $400,000 a year for Sevier County alone. Issue 3 received the majority of votes in Sevier County but failed statewide.

We’ll turn now briefly to the national level. Like the majority of Arkansas, Sevier County voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots in support of incumbent President Donald Trump. That support amounted to nearly 75 percent of the votes cast locally. Sevier County voters also joined the state in reelecting Tom Cotton to the U.S. Senate and Bruce Westerman to the U.S. House of Representatives.

As of early Wednesday morning, the U.S. Presidential Election has not been decided. Biden currently holds a slight lead in Electoral College votes. But, that gap narrowed increasingly throughout the night and early morning as more Republication-leaning states announce their results in favor of reelecting President Trump. Most of the remaining states are currently leaning towards Trump. National election officials suggest final results may not be available until later this week due to the high number of absentee and mail-in ballots cast in this election.

Sevier County election hits numerous milestones     11/04/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

There was more history made last night than just the legalization of alcohol sales in Sevier County. Local voters also set a number of records in who voted and how they did so.

All-in-all, 5,227 of Sevier County’s nearly 7,500 registered voters turned out for this election cycle. That’s a whooping voter turnout of 70.1 percent. No countywide election on record in Sevier has seen such turnout, according to election officials. Sevier County voters also turned out for early voting in greater numbers than ever before, with 42 percent choosing to cast their ballots early. This was likely due to local, state and national campaigns encouraging citizens to vote early and reduce the likelihood of long lines on Election Day.

But the list of local electoral accomplishments doesn’t stop there. Over 1,000 Sevier County residents registered to vote for the first time ever in this election cycle. That’s another record set. No doubt that was driven in large part by the wet/dry issue on the ballot in Sevier County. Absentee ballots also hit a record with 315 cast in this election.

Despite record voter registration and turnout, last night’s election ran much like clockwork. Complete election results were available less than three hours after polls closed. Local media and poll watchers joined in praising Sevier County election officials and workers for conducting a smooth, safe and successful election process.

That’s not to say the election didn’t have its hectic moments. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic no doubt made its presence felt this election with a large variety of protective measures, guidelines and procedures in place. But that never seemed to slow down the process or turn voters away from the polls. All-in-all, election officials in Sevier County can be proud of the way this election was conducted.

State police investigating murder in Delight; suspect currently in custody     11/04/20

DELIGHT – The apparent murder of a 63 year-old Pike County woman has led state police special agents from the Criminal Investigation Division to join in the investigation. Officials say the body of Theresa Humphry was found at her home Tuesday morning. Investigators say her death is being ruled as a homicide.

Pike County Sheriff’s Deputies located the body at 307 Billstown Road in Delight and requested the Arkansas State Police to assist them in the criminal investigation.

A 39 year-old man has been taken into custody and is being held at the Pike County Jail while the investigation continues this afternoon.  Special Agents expect to submit information to the Pike County prosecuting attorney for the consideration of formal charges.

Humphry’s body is being transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for determination of the manner and cause of death.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     11/04/20

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:

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County rose by eight over the past 24 hours. Active cases now number 90 – the highest level in more than two months. Total cases grew by 19 to 1,436 since the pandemic began. An additional 11 Sevier County residents have recovered from the virus, for a total of 1,330. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported four fewer active cases on Tuesday for a new total of 32. Total confirmed cases grew by one to 491. Deaths remain at 37.

Howard County reported five fewer active cases on Monday, lowering the total to 47. Total cases grew by three to 628. Deaths remain at 14.

Polk County reported six additional confirmed active cases on Tuesday, raising the total to 32. Total cases grew by seven to 385. Deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a sizeable increase of 15 new active cases on Tuesday. That figure now totals 188. Total cases grew to 1,720 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 41.

Deaths top 2,000 in Arkansas from COVID-19; Gov. Hutchinson discusses state’s winter strategy against virus    11/04/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Total deaths in Arkansas due to COVID-19 topped 2,000 on Tuesday as the virus’ third wave continues to impact the state.
During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported 18 additional deaths across the state over the previous 24-hour period. Confirmed and probable deaths related to the virus now number 2,003. An additional 878 cases were reported as well for a cumulative total of 114,519. Hospitalizations did decrease by 21, leaving 667 Arkansans still hospitalized due to the virus. Slightly more than 6,400 tests were performed since Monday. State officials said over 310,000 tests were performed in October. That equals more than 10 percent of Arkansas’ population.
Hutchinson provided a few more details on the state’s winter strategy in response to the ongoing pandemic. The strategy consolidates most of the tactics already encouraged by state officials, such as social distancing and wearing masks. Other elements of the strategy include continued contact tracing and quarantine protocols, encouraging Arkansans to get their flu shots, and compliance checks to ensure businesses are following health guidelines. Finally, the winter strategy seeks to develop the plan to distribute vaccines once they become available.
Bo Ryall, CEO of the Arkansas Hospital Association, provided some details over COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arkansas. Despite a decline on Tuesday, hospitalizations remain at their highest level since the pandemic began. Ryall said hospital capacity is tight but manageable. The real risk, he stressed, is a developing shortage in healthcare workers.
Before concluding Tuesday’s press conference, Arkansas Health Secretary Jose Romero issued an appeal to all Arkansans. He encourages everyone to take extra precautions when gathering with family this holiday season.
Finally, Hutchinson shared some information suggesting COVID-19 is currently the third-leading cause of death in Arkansas – behind only cancer and heart disease. This is in relation to data from 2018.
In review, an additional 878 cases were reported on Tuesday for a cumulative total of 114,519 since the outbreak began. Deaths increased by 18 and now number slightly more than 2,000 overall. Hospitalizations saw a decrease of 21 patients to 667 still hospitalized.
We’ll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.

LifeShare hosting blood drives in Ashdown, De Queen    11/04/20

LifeShare Blood Center will host two more area blood drive clinics later this week. The first is scheduled from 1:30-5:30 p.m. at the Ashdown Walmart store on Friday, Nov. 6. De Queen Walmart will be the site of an additional blood drive on Saturday, Nov. 7. That event will occur between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. All eligible donors and all blood types are greatly needed.

Lockesburg VFD fundraiser continues through Friday    11/04/20

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg Fire Department is hosting a gun raffle to help raise funds for its firefighting and emergency response duties. Lockesburg firefighters are currently selling chances for a Weatherby Vanguard 6.5 Creedmoor rifle with a Leupold scope. Tickets are $5 each. Proceeds will go towards upkeep of the department’s rescue truck and rural firefighting unit. Contact any Lockesburg firefighter to purchase a ticket. The drawing will be held Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. in the fire station. You do not need to be present to win.

The gun raffle will be held in lieu of the department’s annual fundraising event. That has been cancelled, the department announced, due to COVID-19. Any and all donations are greatly welcomed, however. For more information or to donate, call (870) 200-3057.

Fayetteville man finds third-largest diamond of the year at Crater State Park    11/04/20

MURFRESSBORO – It was all treat, no trick this Halloween for Steven McCool of Fayetteville at Crater of Diamonds State Park. The 34-year-old found the third-largest diamond of the year.

Arkansas is the only state in the country that has a diamond mine open to the public. While many diamonds are found every year, it never ceases to be exciting for those who discover one. Park officials hope stories like McCool inspire even more people to visit Crater of Diamonds State Park.

McCool said he was planning on going back to Fayetteville, but extended his stay since there had been a good rain and conditions were optimal to find a diamond. That turned out to be a good decision.

He was wet sifting, or sifting dirt using screens and water, his 11th bucket of the day. His hands were soaked through his gloves and the water was ice cold. Time was ticking down, and the park was closing in about 30 minutes.

When he spotted something shiny in the dirt, he assumed it was a piece of glass from an old Coke bottle. In fact, it was a 4.49-carat diamond.

Even though he is a self-proclaimed “newbie” at diamond hunting, McCool knew this was a diamond. He put his treasure in a safe place and continued wet sifting the rest of the dirt he collected. Visitors are allowed to take up to five gallons per person/per day of sifted gravel home to look through at their leisure.

McCool’s find is a 4.49-carat sparkling, canary yellow diamond that is about the size of a jellybean and seems to have great clarity. It is a stunning diamond, said Crater of Diamonds State Park Assistant Superintendent Meghan Moore.

Today is Election Day 2020           11/03/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Well, it’s finally here. Election Day 2020. It’s been a long presidential election year with nonstop campaigning and record spending on political advertisements on the national level. But today voters make their final decision on who will lead the country for the next four years while also deciding a host of Congressional races as well as state and local issues. Whether this election excites you or you’re just ready to see it over, decision day is here.
Polls across the nation open up 7:30 a.m. sharp and will remain open until 7:30 p.m.
There are six polling locations open today in Sevier County. Those include the De Queen Community Building in the Herman Dierks Park, the Ben Lomond Community Building, Lockesburg Methodist Church, J.L. Walker Fellowship Hall in Horatio, the De Queen Church of Christ and the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative in Gillham. All centers will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Registered voters of Sevier County can cast their vote at any one of these locations. You do not have to live within a particular precinct to vote in one of these polling locations.
Election officials have put a number of protective measures in place to ensure the sanctity of the voting process but also voter safety. Social distancing and no-contact procedures are in place alongside frequent sanitizing of voting equipment. Voters are being asked, but not required, to wear face coverings.
Early voting began two weeks ago in Arkansas and ended yesterday. Results from early voting will be available tonight before traditional election day voting ends. Sevier County election officials will meet this afternoon at 4 p.m. in the courthouse conference room to begin counting absentee ballots. A record number of absentee ballots were received due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early voting has seen record turnout across the nation, with national news media reporting nearly 100 million voters turning out early to cast their vote. That’s around two-thirds of all the votes cast in the 2016 election. The presidential race as well as a number of big senate races across the country have prompted record voter registration and turnout for 2020.
Locally, Sevier County voters will make their final decision today whether or not to authorize the sale of alcohol in the county. There is also a city council race in De Queen between incumbent Teresa Bunyard and challenger Lee Ann Pitchford. Gillham voters are having their say on a one-cent sales tax measure.
There are three statewide ballot initiatives Arkansas voters will decide today as well. A sixth, involving the practices of optometrists in Arkansas, is included on the ballot but has been struck by the Arkansas Supreme Court. This means votes for or against it will not be counted.
If you plan on voting today but still need a little more info about these statewide ballot initiatives before casting your vote, the Public Policy Center at the University of Arkansas has issued a great unbiased fact sheet detailing pros and cons of each measure. That can be found at uaex.edu/ballot
Public input sought for future use of Albert Pike Recreation Area 11/03/20
Ouachita National Forest officials will hold what they’re calling a Virtual Collaboration Workshop to listen to public input on the desired future of the Albert Pike Recreation Area. The meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 10.
The Forest Service proposes to make changes in the long-term management and use of the Albert Pike Recreation Area, located on the Little Missouri River in the Ouachita National Forest.
Information gathered during this workshop will be considered during the development of any proposed plans or actions.
The meeting will take place on Microsoft Teams Live. The presentation will include information on the planning process, the project’s purpose and how the public can be involved. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.
To attend the Nov. 10 virtual public meeting, go to https://bit.ly/3e6R2MY.
For more information or to ask questions, visit the forest’s website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita/.
The Albert Pike Recreation Area has been closed since a devastating flood killed 20 people between the night of June 10-11, 2010. It was a night no one could forget.
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.

Halle Harp crowned 2020 DHS Homecoming Queen     11/03/20

It was a big day Friday as 2020 De Queen High School Homecoming Queen Halle Harp and her court were honored at Leopard Stadium. During halftime of Friday night’s Magnolia contest, Toney Stowers visited with Homecoming Queen Halle:
Audio Player

Homecoming Queen Halle and her court were presented in a special ceremony Friday afternoon at Leopard Stadium, and they were also introduced at halftime during Friday night’s homecoming contest.

Halle was escorted by 26 De Queen Homecoming Maids. Students celebrated the 2020 Homecoming celebration with a number of themed days throughout the week. Despite festivities looking a little different this year due to COVID-19 and the precautions in place, attendance was great and the De Queen community provided this year’s homecoming celebrations with a lot of great and dedicated fanfare.

Arkansas Fresh Start program seeks to assist residents struggling to pay rent     11/03/20

State officials say Arkansans struggling to meet their rent in the current COVID-19 environment may soon get some help.

The Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association and the state’s Community Action Agencies announced they will offer rental assistance to people who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through a new program known as Arkansas Fresh Start.

According to a news release on Monday, the rental assistance is made possible by $10 million in combined grants received from the federal government’s COVID-19 relief funds.

The program is expected to begin in early November.

According to the news release, the Arkansas Fresh Start program can provide up to two-and-a-half months rent to eligible Arkansans with a household income at or below 80% of their area’s median income.

Officials say once the program has begun, people who are interested will be able to apply through their local Community Action Agency (CAA). Arkansas has 15 nonprofit CAAs, each provides assistance to certain portions of the state, according to the news release. Every county in Arkansas is served by Community Action Agency.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said the program will aid both people who can’t pay their rent and landlords who are suffering financially due to struggling tenants.

To be eligible for the Fresh Start program, an applicant must meet certain criteria, such as being a full-time Arkansas resident; not able to make rental payments due to a COVID-19-related issue; and having a landlord’s stated willingness to accept the payment.

Once the program is underway, people who are wanting to apply can visit ARFreshStart.com to find their area Community Action Agency and complete an application. For residents of Sevier, Little River and Polk Counties, the agency to contact would be the Centeral Arkansas Development Council, or CADC. The CADC can be contacted at 501-315-1121. For Polk County the administering agency is the Arkansas River Valley Area Council which can be contacted at 479-219-5292.

Sevier County Extension Service to offer ServSafe classes in November     11/03/20

Submitted by the Sevier County Cooperative Extension Service

The Sevier County Extension Office is now taking applications for its ServSafe Manager Training, scheduled for later this month.

The ServeSafe Food Handler and Manager training programs walks business owners, managers and restaurateurs through the process of safely receiving, storing, preparing and serving food. ServSafe has been the industry national standard for years and has trained over one million managers and employees.

Maybe, as a consumer, you have seen the ServSafe certificate posted in several restaurants. If you see this certificate, you can be assured the manager has had training in safe food handling.

In the past, the program was recommended but not mandated. Recently, the Arkansas Department of Health is now requiring each food service facility to have at least one supervisory employee who has Certified Food Manager training.

Sevier County Extension Office will be offering ServSafe Manager Training on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 at UA Cossatot Skilled Trades Building. Training will also be provided in Spanish on Nov. 16 and Nov. 17. Classes will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The participation fee is $140, which includes text material, test, instruction, and proctoring fee.

Registration deadline is next Monday, Nov. 9. Space is limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. To request a registration form or for more information, call Sevier County Extension Agent Janet Cantrell at 584-3013 or email jcantrell@uaex.edu.

DQ City Council meets tonight; Sevier County Quorum Court next week     11/03/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council will meet tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the De Queen City Hall.

Tonight’s agenda includes a discussion by Muriel Wiley and Kevyn Johnson about an effort to organize a Juneteenth celebration in southwest Arkansas. Also included on the agenda are a resolution to appoint Noel Bard to the De Queen Industrial Park Public Facilities Board and a report from the city parks department on playground equipment for the Herman Dierks Park.

The meeting is open to the public. City officials say masks are required to attend.

The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet on Monday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. in the Weyerhaeuser Room on UA Cossatot’s De Queen campus. The meeting will begin with an update form the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.

Justices of the Peace will then vote on several routine financial and appropriation matters and an ordinance to levy 2020 taxes to be collected in 2021. The agenda also includes an ordinance to amend the 2020 operating budget. The quorum court will then hear a a request to appropriate an additional $5,000 to the county’s juvenile probation fee fund to cover juvenile housing costs.

Finally, the quorum court will hear an announcement from Muriel Wiley of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     11/03/20

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 saw a single decrease in confirmed active cases of COVID-19, which now number 82. Total cases grew by eight 1,417 since the pandemic began. An additional nine Sevier County residents have recovered from the virus, for a total of 1,282. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County saw a decrease of three active cases on Monday. That figure now totals 36 confirmed active cases in Little River County. Total confirmed cases grew by one to 490. Deaths remain at 37.

Howard County reported five fewer active cases on Monday, lowering the total to 52. Total cases remained at 625and deaths at a total of 14.

Polk County reported an additional confirmed active case on Monday, raising the total to 26. Total cases grew by four to 378. Deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional three active cases on Monday for a total of 173. Total cases rose by nine to 1,680. Deaths remain at 41.

Across Arkansas, an additional 584 cases were confirmed on Monday. Total cumulative cases now number 113,641. Active cases of the virus saw a net decrease of 285 on Sunday, dropping to 10,135. Tragically deaths reported on Monday tied the one-day record reached on Sunday of 33 deaths. There are now 1,985 Arkansans who have died due to COVID-19 related complications. Hospitalizations reached another record on Monday, raising by 33 to 688.

Today is last day of early voting in Arkansas  11/02/20
DE QUEEN – Today is the last day of early voting in Arkansas. That means election day is tomorrow across the nation.
Early voting continues through 5 p.m. this evening at the Community Building in the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen. In Little River County, early voting will be held at the Little River County Election Center in Ashdown and the Foreman Community Building.
It’s been a long and contentious election year but it all comes to a head tomorrow night. Voters in Sevier County will decide whether or not to authorize alcohol sales as well as a number of state issues and national races.
Residents of De Queen are also voting on a race for the seat of Ward 2, position 1 seat on the De Queen City Council. Incumbent Teresa Bunyard is facing challenger Lee Ann Pitchford for the position.
The wet/dry issue is open for all Sevier County voters to decide. If the measure passes, alcohol sales will be permitted in Sevier County for the first time since Prohibition began in the 1920s. The measure would allow for a limited number of alcohol stores in the county, and allow restaurants to apply for licenses to serve alcohol on their premises.
Arkansas voters are also deciding three statewide ballot issues this year. Issue 1 seeks to make permanent a half-cent statewide sales tax to provide funds for infrastructure projects. The current sales tax provides the state with 70 percent of the revenue collected. The other 30 percent is split evenly between Arkansas cities and counties.
Issue 2 seeks to get rid of term limits in the Arkansas legislature. If passed, the law would install a 12-year term limit on state legislators. Legislators would be able to run again after a four-year break. If Issue 2 fails, the current 16-year lifetime term limit will remain in place.
Issue 3 is rather complicated but in effect seeks to make the process much more difficult for Arkansas citizens to submit citizen-led initiatives and referendums for placement on the ballot. This measure has received a lot of opposition from community organizers, media and other groups who say it significantly reduces the potential political power of Arkansas citizens.
Arkansas voters are, of course, joining the nation in deciding who will serve as President of the United States for the next four years.
There’s a lot going on this election cycle and interest is sure to be extremely high. Make sure to tune into your #1 Country 92.1 Tuesday night for complete election coverage. We’ll be covering the election on site at the Sevier County Courthouse and bringing you updates and results until the last ballot is counted. Alongside the presidential election, we’ll be keeping our eye on the results of several statewide ballot issues and the important wet-or-dry vote in Sevier County.

Free COVID-19 testing today in De Queen  11/02/20

DE QUEEN – The Arkansas Department of Health will host a free COVID-19 testing clinic today in De Queen. The clinic will be operated at the De Queen Fire Station from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Organizers stress you do not have to display symptoms of COVID-19 to receive a test.
For questions, or more information, call the Sevier County Health Unit at 642-2535.
Log truck overturns east of De Queen  11/02/20
A log truck overturned its trailer on Hwy 70E last Thursday near Greens Chapel. Fortunately no one was injured in the accident. Stay safe out there!

Time for Southwest Arkansas’ fall foliage is now  11/02/20

DE QUEEN – Now’s a good time to travel the Natural State. The state’s fall foliage is about in its full glory.
Arkansas may be known for its hot springs, beautiful lakes, and rivers but make no mistake the fall foliage in Arkansas can compete with anywhere in the state.
The state of Arkansas turns into gorgeous shades of reds, oranges, and yellows every fall.
The fall foliage will be in its full glory through mid-November every year.
2020 will not be any different so it’s time you start planning your annual Arkansas fall foliage road trip that will take you on an a peaceful and beautiful journey to all of the most scenic spots in Arkansas to see the leaves change color.
Late October and early November generally provides peak fall color in our corner of Arkansas. October and November are two of the most popular months that travelers in Arkansas can see the beautiful fall colors and cool brisk weather.
There’s plenty of places here in Sevier County to see the colors change. But for some really amazing displays, you just need to travel a short distance north to Polk County, Mena and the surrounding Ouachita Mountains. The Talimena Scenic drive is particularly popular this time of year.
Every autumn, nature paints the mountains and valleys of the Ouachita Mountains with gorgeous hues of gold, red and orange. Many of Arkansas’s visitors travel here for special fall vacations to catch a glimpse of the season.
2020 Operation Christmas Child is announced  11/02/20

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Collection Week is set for Nov. 16-23. Area volunteers have been transforming empty shoeboxes into gifts of hope filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and articles of clothing for children in need worldwide. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way so that missionaries and volunteers can share the Good News of Jesus Christ. And, it all starts with the help of a shoebox filled with gifts.

For suggestions about what can be packed in shoeboxes, drop-off sites, collection dates and hours, and directions to the drop-off sites, go to samaritanspurse.org/occ. Local area drop-off sites are located in Horatio, Ashdown, Nashville, and Hope.

KDQN to cover tomorrow’s election live at Sevier County Courthouse    11/02/20

DE QUEEN – Make sure to tune into your #1 Country 92.1 Tuesday night for complete election coverage. We’ll be covering the election on site at the Sevier County Courthouse and bringing you updates and results until the last ballot is counted. Alongside the presidential election, we’ll be keeping our eye on the results of several statewide ballot issues and the important wet-or-dry vote in Sevier County.

County libraries hosting Food for Fines Month, clothing drive in November    11/02/20

DE QUEEN – Throughout this month, Sevier County residents who owe library fines will have a chance to pay those off while also helping local folks in need this holiday season. The Sevier County Library System will host its annual Food For Fines Month during the entire month of November. During the entire month, patrons can bring in any nonperishable food item into any Sevier County Branch Library for a one-dollar reduction per item towards their existing overdue fines. Food accepted for fines is for returned library materials only, not for replacement fees of lost or damaged items.

During November, the library will also host a sweater drive as the colder weather arrives. Through Nov. 30, area residents are asked to bring any new or gently used sweaters, jackets, coats or other cold-weather clothing items to any library branch. These donations will be kept and distributed within each local community.

De Queen High School Homecoming is today  10/30/20

2020 DHS Homecoming Queen – Halle Harp will be crowed the 2020 De Queen High School Homecoming Queen during ceremonies scheduled for Oct. 30 at Leopard Stadium.

DE QUEEN – The big ceremony kicks off this afternoon for this year’s Homecoming at De Queen High School. The festivities will begin at 2 p.m. at Leopard Stadium with the 2020 coronation ceremony. All students and members of the community are invited to attend the ceremony at no cost.

Senior Maids are from left to right in the front row, Lizbeth Osura and Diana Ramirez. In the second row are Senior Maids Kenya Martinez, Ariana Ortiz, Janae Tirado and Parker Sneed. In the third row are Senior Maids Perla Zapata, Sara Victoriano, Jessalyn Parker and Ana Marrufo.

There will be no pre-game homecoming ceremony but the homecoming court will be recognized at halftime of tonight’s football game. In order to be in compliance with the Arkansas Department of Health, everyone must wear a mask and social distance at the afternoon ceremony and during the football game.

The Leopards are hosting the Magnolia Panthers for tonight’s Homecoming event and football game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
This year’s Homecoming Queen is Halle Harp. She will be escorted by twenty-six DHS homecoming maids.

Senior Maids also include, from left to right in the first row, Cristal caudra and Giovanna Lerma. In the second row are Senior Maids Ashley Contreras, Yasmelin Gonzalez, Angie Hernandez, Kynnedi France and Matilda Jacobo. In the third row are Senior Maids Edith Hernandez, Dalania Hibbs and Carlee Helms.

Senior maids for this year’s Homecoming event include Kimberly Delgado, Deciredh Alvarez, Edith Hernandez, Dalania Hibbis, Carlee Helms, Ashley Contreras, Yasmelin Gonzalez, Angie Hernandez, Kynnedi France, Matilda Jacobo, Cristal Caudra, Giovanna Lerma, Perla Zapata, Sara Victoriano, Jessalyn Parker, Ana Marrufo, Kenya Martinez, Ariana Ortiz, Janae Tirado, Parker Sneed, Lizbeth Osura and Diana Ramirez.
Junior maids are Daphne Villeda and Marlen Perez. Sophomore maids are Wendy Victoriano and Amairany Ortiz. Crown bearer is Aileen Lopez while Hernan Fernandez will serve as football bearer.

De Queen man facing multiple charges after accident, fleeing police  10/30/20
DE QUEEN – A De Queen man is facing multiple charges after he attempted to flee from police following a motor vehicle accident in the city.
According to the De Queen Police Department, Officer Gilberto Elizondo was dispatched to the De Queen Walmart Oct. 24 after receiving a report about a car accident in the parking lot. Upon arriving the officer saw the suspect reportedly leaving the scene. While attempting to stop the suspect’s vehicle the suspect then left the vehicle and began fleeing on foot.
A foot chase then pursued. Officers apprehended the suspect quickly thereafter at the Subway in De Queen. The suspect allegedly provided a brief struggle as officers attempted to arrest him but he was nonetheless placed into custody. No one was injured in the scuffle, according to police.
The suspect was then identified as 30-year-old Daniel Luna of De Queen. A search of Luna’s person reportedly uncovered marijuana. Officers also reported finding methamphetamine allegedly thrown away by the suspect during the foot chase. Luna was then transported to the Sevier County Jail and charged with the offenses of possession of a controlled substance, fleeing and resisting arrest.
Free COVID-19 testing in De Queen on Monday, Nov. 2  10/30/20
DE QUEEN – The Arkansas Department of Health will host a free COVID-19 testing clinic in De Queen on Monday, Nov. 2.
The clinic will be operated at the De Queen Fire Station from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Organizers stress you do not have to display symptoms of COVID-19 to receive a test. For questions, or more information, call the Sevier County Health Unit at 642-2535.
Multiple Trunk-or-Treat events, haunted house in the area this weekend  10/30/20
DE QUEEN – Tomorrow is Halloween! Of course, one might say all of 2020 has been haunted. But, if you’re looking to brave the pandemic and celebrate a fun, traditional Halloween, there are a number of events scheduled across the listening area. And with procedures in place to ensure both a fun and safe Halloween holiday.
That includes the annual De Queen Trunk or Treat this Saturday. The event is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. at the De Queen Sportsplex. A variety of decorated cars will be set up and candy will be handed out to visiting children. A variety of games and activities are also scheduled for the event. Organizers say participating volunteers will be wearing masks and socially distancing to ensure the event is both fun and safe for all involved.
Volunteers are still welcomed to participate with a decorated vehicle or activity. For more information and a sign up sheet, visit the De Queen Trunk or Treat event page on Facebook. You can also contact Alicia Gonzalez at 784-0628.
For those looking for a fun and socially distanced Halloween experience, the Horatio High School chapter of the National Honor Society is offering just that for area children this weekend. The organization will be handing out candy through a no-touch candy drop. A candy chute will be set up to deliver treats and ensure no-contact procedures are in place. Visitors are even welcome to stay in their vehicle if they wish.

The event will take place this Saturday, Halloween night, from 6-8 p.m. at Horatio High School, located on Metcalf Street. Please enter the east drive and exit the west drive of the high school.

The Little River County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a drive-thru Trunk-or-Treat event on Halloween from 3-5 p.m. at Pocket Park in Ashdown.

The Dierks Chamber of Commerce will host a Trunk-or-Treat event on Saturday, Halloween, starting at 5 p.m. If you’re interested in volunteering for the event, contact Stacy Janes at 784-3043 or Jaron Tipton at 584-6325.

And don’t forget, this is the last weekend of the Haunted House in Horatio. Billed as the biggest haunted house in the Ark-La-Tex, the haunted house is open tonight and for the last time tomorrow. Hours are 7 p.m. to midnight. Cost is $10 per adult and $5 per child. Organized by the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department, proceeds go towards supporting the fire department’s mission in the community.

Although Halloween is completely allowed in Arkansas this year, the Arkansas Health Department has issued a few guidelines for families concerned about trick-or-treating in the current COVID-19 environment.

The state health department is suggesting that trick-or-treaters do the following:

Wear a cloth face covering instead of a costume mask alone or on top of your cloth face covering

Limit the number of houses children visit

Only eat factory-wrapped candy that has been wipe with a sanitary wipe

Low-risk activities include: carving and decorating pumpkins, decorating your house, having a virtual costume contest

The CDC released its Halloween guidance in September which included discouraging door-to-door trick-or-treating and attending costume parties or haunted houses.

And, of course, drivers are asked to be extra vigilant and cautious Saturday as Halloween trick-or-treaters may be out in full force.

Local youth bring home more awards from Arkansas State Fair  10/30/20

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas State Fair is still officially announcing winners from this year’s Youth Livestock show, held between Oct. 14-24.

Local youth participating in the statewide show earned some big wins during the 10 days.

That includes Kinlee Stivers of Lockesburg who showed the Grand Champion Hampshire Market Hog during the Arkansas State Fair Junior Livestock Show.

Hunter Frachiseur of De Queen also placed well, showing the Reserve Champion Duroc Market Hog at the show.

Local youth also participated and performed well at the State Fair Commercial Heifer Showmanship competition. Kaylee Williams of Gillham took third in the Senior Division Showmanship division. Autumn Frachiseur of Grannis took home the first place award in the Junior Division Showmanship competition while Brylee Frachiseur of Gillham took third.

Festivities kickoff next week for Ashdown High School Homecoming; tickets available starting Nov. 3  10/30/20

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School has announced it will host the annual Homecoming ceremonies on Friday, Nov. 6. During this event the district and community will celebrate Ashdown senior maids and football players.

For the week leading up to Friday, Nov. 6, students at all campuses can participate in “dress up” days to fit the 2020 theme of “Tune In To Panther TV“.

Starting at 2:30 that Friday afternoon, the senior maids and senior football players will caravan through Ashdown and proceed back to AHS.

The evening coronation will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Dick Hays Stadium. In order to attend, you must purchase a ticket in the Administration Building starting Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 8 a.m. Tickets will be on sale until sold out. The coronation will be live-streamed for those unable to attend. Kick-off for the Homecoming game will be at 7 p.m. vs. Fountain Lake High School.

In the event of rain, the coronation will be moved into the gym, and the senior maids and senior players will receive tickets to give out.

District officials note that masks and social distancing are required at all school events.

Some lake campgrounds in Southwest Arkansas temporarily closing due to winter recreation schedule  10/30/20

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will close down a number of lake campgrounds in our corner of Arkansas this weekend as part of the Corps Winter Recreation Schedule. These closings are performed each year during the winter season.

The closings include several campgrounds at Lake Ouachia, Lake Greeson and Lake DeGray. This is just a partial closure so some campgrounds remain open at each of the three lakes.

The closures take effect this weekend and will remain in place until the spring. Opening dates range between March and April. Offseason campgrounds remain open during this period as well.

The USACE announced the following closures:

The following campgrounds at Lake Ouachita will be partially closed beginning 4 p.m. on Oct. 31 until March 1, 2021: Brady Mountain, Crystal Springs, Tompkins Bend, and Denby Point. Joplin Campground will close at 4 p.m. Sept. 30 and reopen March 1, 2021. Little Fir Campground will close at 4 p.m. on October 31 and reopen March 1, 2021.

Campgrounds at Stephens Park and Twin Creek will remain open during this time.

The Spillway, Crystal Springs, and Twin Creek day-use areas will close Oct. 30 and reopen March 1, 2021. Hours upon reopening will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and change to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on April 12, 2021. Blakely Mountain Dam day-use area will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 27 and will change to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on April 11, 2021.

Stephens Park and Avery day-use areas will remain open and unaffected.

All recreation areas on the north side of Lake Ouachita, including Irons Fork, Avant, Buckville, Rabbit Tail, and Cedar Fourche, will remain open. Janitorial services for these areas, including permanent and portable restrooms and trash services, will cease Sept. 30 and resume March 1, 2021. Free pack-in/pack-out camping will be available during this time.

The following campgrounds at Lake Greeson will be closed Nov. 1 and reopen March 1, 2021: Arrowhead, Buckhorn, Pikeville, Laurel Creek, Old Cowhide Cove, New Cowhide Cove (sites 1-9), Self Creek, Dam Area, West Kirby Landing (sites 35-79) and Jim Wylie.

Parker Creek and the remainder of New Cowhide Cove will close Dec. 15 and reopen on March 1, 2021.

The following electrical sites are open all winter for a fee of $20 per night: East Kirby Landing, Weston Point, and Dam Area. Star of the West will be open with no charge.

The following recreation areas at DeGray Lake will partially or completely close Oct. 31 and reopen March 1, 2021: Alpine Ridge, Arlie Moore, Point Cedar, Edgewood, Iron Mountain, Lakeview, Shouse Ford, and Highway 7. Partially closed areas, other than Arlie Moore, as well as Lenox Marcus and Ozan Point recreation areas, will close completely on Dec. 1.

Off-season campground reservations at Lake Ouachita, Lake Greeson, and DeGray Lake opened August 15 for Oct. 1 to April 30, 2021, via www.recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. Reservation extension requests will be accepted and reviewed during this period.

For more information about operational changes or questions about recreation facilities in Arkansas, contact the Lake Ouachita Field Office at 501-767-2101, DeGray Lake Field Office at 870-246-5501, or Lake Greeson Field Office at 870-285-2151.

For COVID-19 related closures and updates at USACE Vicksburg District campgrounds, visit https://go.usa.gov/xwfVT.

Application period begins Sunday for trophy-sized alligator gar tags      10/30/20

The application period to catch and keep a trophy-size Arkansas alligator gar begins this Sunday. Arkansas anglers can begin submitting applications Nov. 1. The application period will end Dec. 31. Only 100 tags will be awarded for the 2021 calendar year. This tag is required to harvest an alligator gar larger than 36 inches.

Anyone may fish for alligator gar on a catch-and-release basis, but anglers interested in keeping a trophy gar in 2021 must enter a free online drawing for one of 100 Alligator Gar Trophy tags. Applications are available under the “Fishing License” section of the AGFC’s website, agfc.com. The drawing will occur Jan. 2, 2021.

Applicants will be notified of the results by email. They will then need to return to the licensing site to claim their tag. Each tag allows the holder to harvest one alligator gar longer than 36 inches from snout to tail during the open fishing season. This season is open all year except between May 1 and July 15. An Alligator Gar Permit is no longer required for alligator gar fishing or to apply for an Alligator Gar Trophy Tag.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures  10/30/20

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

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County increased by three on Thursday to 73. Total cases grew by nine to 1,371 since the pandemic began. An additional six Sevier County residents have recovered from the disease, for a total of 1,282. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County saw an increase of five active cases on Thursday. Total confirmed cases grew by six to 465 while deaths remained unchanged at 38.

Howard County reported three additional active cases on Wednesday for a current total of 44. Total cases grew by nine to 599. Deaths remain at 14.

Active cases in Polk County grew by two on Wednesday to 20. Total cases grew by four to 364. Deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 11 fewer active cases on Thursday, dropping that figure to 169. Total cases grew by four to 1,634. Deaths remain at 40.

Across Arkansas, an additional 1,072 cases were reported on Thursday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 109,712. Active cases grew to 9,466. Deaths increased by 19 to 1,894.

With the holiday season beginning this weekend, state health officials ask all Arkansans to take precautions when gathering with family or social settings. Where a mask when participating in social settings outside of your family household, wash hands frequently and socially distance in public settings. Take extra precautions when considering socializing with elderly family members and friends – or even encourage them to participate virtually if possible. State health officials say Arkansas is currently in the third wave of COVID-19 infections. So take care, follow health guidance and stay safe this weekend and throughout the holiday season.

Today is last day to enter nominations for Arkansas Food Hall of Fame  10/30/20

Today is the last day to enter nominations for the 2021 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame is now open.

The statewide program is celebrating its fifth year of recognizing the legendary restaurants, proprietors and food-themed events from every part of the state. The annual event seeks to spark a unique conversation about food and how it relates to Arkansas’s heritage.

Nominations are being accepted at ArkFoodHOF.com. Recognizitions include the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame award, the Proprietor of the Year award, the Food-themed Event award, the Gone But Not Forgotten award and finally, People’s Choice.

Every person has a story to tell when it comes to food and these nominations are the perfect time to share your Arkansas food experience. More than 1,450 submissions were received from all 75 Arkansas counties last year, more than double from the previous year. Winners will be chosen this winter by a special committee of Arkansans who are historians, chefs, foodies and food authors. Honorees and finalists will be announced at a special ceremony in 2021.

Local state trooper honored for rescue of three people last year  10/29/20

Arkansas State Trooper Kyle Jones was honored during a ceremony last night for his actions in rescuing three people from a flooded roadway near Dierks last year.

LITTLE ROCK – An Arkansas State Police trooper was officially honored for his role in rescuing three Howard County residents in an incident last year.
Corporal Robert Kyle Jones, an Arkansas State Trooper assigned to Troop G and headquartered in Hope, was awarded the Troopers Cross by the Arkansas State Police during its annual awards ceremony Wednesday night.
Jones was recognized for his involvement in the rescue of two women and a small child on July 16, 2019. The three were trapped inside a bus after heavy rains had flooded a roadway near Dierks.
As heavy rain continued to fall, and realizing it would be only a short time before the already swift current of the rising waters would turn into a churning river, Jones drove to his nearby home to retrieve a kayak and three life vests.  He then returned to the area only to see his worst fear; water already inside the bus and quickly rising.
Jones entered the fast-moving stream upstream from the bus and maneuvered the kayak toward the vehicle knowing he would have to crash into the rear of the bus. He knew he would have one and only chance to get inside and save the three occupants.  With the help of the adult women, Corporal Jones was able to crawl through a window of the bus in order to get the life vests into the hands of the occupants.  He then exited the bus through an emergency exit, re-entered the kayak and ferried the child safely across the river. The child was given to awaiting emergency responders positioned on higher ground. Jones then returned to the bus twice more to rescue the two women. All three occupants of the bus and Jones himself survived the encounter unscathed.
He earned the Troopers Cross for his action in rescuing all three people during that incident.
Twenty other state troopers and two civilian employees were also honored during Wednesday’s awards ceremony. Like Jones, the award recipients were selected based on nominations from their commanders for particular acts of extraordinary service that exceeded standards of expectations in their assigned duties, according to the state police.
Little River Chamber of Commerce announces Millwood Fishing Challenge; over $137k in prize fish available  10/29/20
ASHDOWN – The Little River County Chamber of Commerce in Ashdown has announced it will host the first ever Millwood Fishing Challenge next year.
The challenge will take place on Millwood Lake near Ashdown and will begin at 6 a.m. February 1 of next year. 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 Bogey’s, the Fish Bowl, Gumflats Custom Imaging, Milway Federal Credit Union, the Nutrition Box and Red River Oil.
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.
Little River Chamber of Commerce announces Millwood Fishing Challenge; over $137k in prize fish available  10/29/20
Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot
DE QUEEN – Members of the community are being welcomed to attend next week’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new Sevier County Medical Center. The event is scheduled for Nov. 6 at 11 a.m. at the construction site. The ceremony is open to the public and will include speakers from the Sevier County Medical Center board of governors, the hospital’s foundation board, plus state and local leaders.
The event will take place at the site of the new hospital at the corner of U.S. Highway 71 North and Lee Lane, located 3.8 miles north of De Queen. “Coming Soon” signs will be displayed at the site location. Officials behind the hospital say everyone is invited to join the celebration on Nov. 6 as the official start of construction begins.
All press, local radio, and media are invited to the groundbreaking ceremony. Handout programs will be available at the ceremony as well.

Dr. Steve Cole, Chair of the SCMC Board of Governors, said this ceremony and its significance have been a long time in the making, but a new day in health care for Sevier County will come Nov. 6. He said every single resident of Sevier County is helping to make the new hospital possible and gets credit for making this a reality. Cole said Sevier County deserves the very best in hospital services and the Board of Governors is dedicated to ensuring that happens. The Sevier County Medical Center will create over 100 local high-paying jobs and provide area residents with a hospital just minutes away.

The Sevier County Medical Center is scheduled to open in the spring of 2022. For more information about the groundbreaking ceremony, contact Sevier County Economic Development Director Tiffany Maurer at 870-584-1184 or email tmaurer@cccua.edu

Area Halloween events still a go for this weekend  10/29/20

DE QUEEN – Despite the ongoing pandemic, Halloween in Arkansas has not been cancelled. In fact, a number of local events are planned for this weekend to provide a fun but safe Halloween experience.

That includes the annual De Queen Trunk or Treat this Saturday. The event is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. at the De Queen Sportsplex. A variety of decorated cars will be set up and candy will be handed out to visiting children. A variety of games and activities are also scheduled for the event. Organizers say participating volunteers will be wearing masks and socially distancing to ensure the event is both fun and safe for all involved.

Volunteers are still welcomed to participate with a decorated vehicle or activity. Those who can’t attend but would like to help can still do so by donating candy for the trunk-or-treat event. Anyone wanting to donate candy for the event can do so at Meraki Hair Studio, Top Line or Peak Therapy in the Town North Shopping Center.

For more information and a sign up sheet, visit the De Queen Trunk or Treat event page on Facebook. You can also contact Alicia Gonzalez at 784-0628.

For those looking for a fun and socially distanced Halloween experience, the Horatio High School chapter of the National Honor Society is offering just that for area children this weekend. The organization will be handing out candy through a no-touch candy drop. A candy chute will be set up to deliver treats and ensure no-contact procedures are in place. Visitors are event welcome to stay in their vehicle if they wish.

The event will take place this Saturday, Halloween night, from 6-8 p.m. at Horatio High School, located on Metcalf Street. Please enter the east drive and exit the west drive of the high school.

The Little River County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a drive-thru Trunk-or-Treat event on Halloween from 3-5 p.m. at Pocket Park in Ashdown.

The Dierks Chamber of Commerce will host a Trunk-or-Treat event on Saturday, Halloween, starting at 5 p.m. If you’re interested in volunteering for the event, contact Stacy Janes at 784-3043 or Jaron Tipton at 584-6325.

Although Halloween is completely allowed in Arkansas this year, the Arkansas Health Department has issued a few guidelines for families concerned about trick-or-treating in the current COVID-19 environment.

The state health department is suggesting that trick-or-treaters do the following:

Wear a cloth face covering instead of a costume mask alone or on top of your cloth face covering

Limit the number of houses children visit

Only eat factory-wrapped candy that has been wipe with a sanitary wipe

Low-risk activities include: carving and decorating pumpkins, decorating your house, having a virtual costume contest

The CDC released its Halloween guidance in September which included discouraging door-to-door trick-or-treating and attending costume parties or haunted houses.

Arkansas men challenged to participate in “No Shave November” to support prostate cancer awareness, fundraising efforts   10/29/20

Submitted by the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation

Heading into “No Shave November, the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation (APCF) challenges men across the state to ditch the shaving cream and razor for a month to help raise awareness about prostate cancer. One in every nine men in Arkansas will face a diagnosis of prostate cancer in their lives, but the disease is nearly 100% survivable if detected early. That’s why the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation is asking the men of Arkansas to go 30 days without shaving for a good cause.

“No Shave November is a fun way to raise awareness for a very serious threat to men’s health in our state. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men – and among men, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths,” said Foundation Executive Director Chris Collier. “By simply foregoing their morning shave and growing their beard, men across Arkansas can help raise funds to promote awareness in our state and support prostate cancer survivors.”

This year, Collier is leading by example in a beard-to-beard fundraising competition with his good friend, Mark Hayes, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League. They both have sported a beard for 30+ years so instead of growing a beard in November, the one who raises the most money gets to keep theirs and the loser has to shave.

Men of all ages across Arkansas are encouraged to take part in No Shave November either individually or as part of a competition in their workplaces, churches, teams or other social groups. They can then make a donation to APCF as a group or find creative ways to encourage others to donate on behalf of them and their beard. All money raised remains in Arkansas to support the foundation’s free awareness and educational programs, free prostate cancer screenings and free patient assistance programs. The Foundation also provides support to survivors and men undergoing treatment through a network of peer group meetings and patient navigation programs.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 1,860 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in Arkansas this year and APCF believes that no Arkansan should face prostate cancer alone. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing the disease and the risk of prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. However, prostate cancer is nearly 100% survivable if detected early and screening can be as simple as getting blood drawn. To learn more about No Shave November and supporting prostate cancer awareness in Arkansas, visit: arprostatecancer.org/no-shave-november/

Registration open for 2020 Land ‘O Lights Pageant   10/29/20

ASHDOWN – Registration is still open for the Little River County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Land ‘O Lights Pageant. Registration packets can be picked up at the chamber of commerce office or by visiting www.ashdownarkansas.org. You can also call (870) 898-2758 to have a packet emailed to you or for more information.

The pageant is scheduled for Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. at the Ashdown High School Auditorium.

Take a stand with public land deer   10/29/20

With the exception of maybe hunter orange and a rifle, few pieces of equipment are more representative of the white-tailed deer hunting experience as a tree stand. When scouting out places to hunt on public land, most hunters are looking for that perfect place to hang a stand about 16- to 20-feet against a tree to give them an advantage over their target. For hunters on private land, stands may sit for decades and include so many modern comforts, they resemble a child’s dream treehouse. Hunters using stands and ground blinds on public land in Arkansas, however, must have a “here today, gone tomorrow” attitude.

According to Arkansas law, hunters may not leave anything out overnight on a wildlife management area, except blinds, trail cameras and stands. Game officials say this policy is in place to ensure a single hunter or group of hunters doesn’t lay claim to an area for the entire season and keep other hunters from enjoying the same opportunity.

Stands and pop-up blinds on WMAs must have the owner’s name and address labeled on them and they must be moved at least 200 yards every seven days. While seven days may not seem like much time, it can be an eternity to wait if you are interested in hunting an area. That’s why a few “Plan B” areas are always a good idea.

Setting up right next to another hunter’s stand with the hopes they won’t show that morning can be an awkward experience. If that hunter does come to the woods, it can cause an unnecessary confrontation and a last-minute scramble to set up in a different location. That’s not good for any hunt.

State game officials stress that, with three million acres of public hunting land in Arkansas, there’s plenty of breathing room for all hunters.

If a stand does remain in an area for more than seven days, it’s also best not to try to hunt it or remove it yourself. Instead, call your local wildlife officer or the area headquarters to notify them of the violation. Include the GPS coordinates and wildlife officials will make the effort to contact the owner. And obviously, a stand that’s left too long on public land is not up for grabs. If it’s not yours, it’s not right to take it.

Hunters also should make note that cutting branches to create shooting lanes, brush in blinds or make room for a treestand also is not allowed. While a hunter can twist off a few small twigs and branches to fit their stand against the tree properly, the only cutting device allowed while hunting on a WMA is a hunting knife for field-dressing and skinning your game.

More information on treestands, blinds and their use on public land can be found on Page 73 of the 2020-21 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook. Downloadable copies of the book are available at www.agfc.com/guidebooks.

Today is parent-teacher conference day for De Queen Public Schools   10/29/20

DE QUEEN – It’s parent-teacher day at De Queen Schools. But, like so much else this year, COVID-19 is changing the way conferences will be held.

Instead of face-to-fact parent-teacher conferences on campus, the district will host communications today via email. Teachers will be available for discussion with parents between 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. this afternoon. Due to limitations of the campus phone system, teachers will not be able to communicate via phone calls during this time.

However, district officials say if parents who need a one-on-one conversation with their child’s teacher can schedule a phone conference during regular conference hours. Parents should have received information on how to email their child’s teacher during today’s conferences. The packet also includes each teacher’s regularly scheduled conference hours.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   10/29/20

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:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County fell by one on Wednesday to 70. Total cases grew by 11 to 1,362 since the pandemic began. A total of 1,276 Sevier County residents have contracted the virus and since recovered. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County saw an increase of four active cases on Wednesday. Total confirmed cases grew by eight to 459 while deaths remained unchanged at 38.

Howard County reported two additional active cases on Wednesday for a current total of 41. Total cases grew by eight to 590. Deaths remain at 14.

Active cases in Polk County saw no change on Wednesday and remain at 18. Total cases grew by two to 360. Deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional death on Wednesday, raising the total to 40. Active cases of COVID-19 fell by six to 180. Total cases rose by nine to 1,630.

Across Arkansas, an additional 961 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 108,640 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by 18 across the state on Wednesday for a total of 1,875. Confirmed active cases in Arkansas fell by 187 to just over 9,300. Hospitalizations dropped by 14 to 662.

Local, state and national health officials continue to stress the importance of wearing a face mask in public settings, washing hands frequently and maintaining six-feet of social distancing where possible. Arkansans are also encouraged to get their flu shots as soon as possible in hopes of alleviating an aggressive flu season in the midst of a renewed COVID-19 outbreak.

Tomorrow is deadline to enter nominations for 2021 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame   10/29/20

Tomorrow is the last day to enter nominations for the 2021 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame is now open.

The statewide program is celebrating its fifth year of recognizing the legendary restaurants, proprietors and food-themed events from every part of the state. The annual event seeks to spark a unique conversation about food and how it relates to Arkansas’s heritage.

Nominations are being accepted at ArkFoodHOF.com. Recognizitions include the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame award, the Proprietor of the Year award, the Food-themed Event award, the Gone But Not Forgotten award and finally, People’s Choice.

Every person has a story to tell when it comes to food and these nominations are the perfect time to share your Arkansas food experience. More than 1,450 submissions were received from all 75 Arkansas counties last year, more than double from the previous year. Winners will be chosen this winter by a special committee of Arkansans who are historians, chefs, foodies and food authors. Honorees and finalists will be announced at a special ceremony in 2021.

Terror in the woods: Mystery of the Fouke Monster continues decades after first sightings  10/28/20
The full audio story and interview is available here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
With Halloween just several days away, we thought there was no better time to take a look at some of the haunted and just plain creepy parts of our corner of the state. Yesterday we looked at Sevier County’s very own haunted locale, Avon Cemetery, and the ghastly tale of the Gurdon Light.
Today, we’re going to look a little further south, at the swamps of Southern Arkansas where for decades something, so it’s been said, has been lurking, hiding and only occasionally making its presence known.
The swamps of Southern Arkansas are a notoriously wild and almost impenetrable expanse. It’s a land seemingly almost forgotten to time itself. And there, around the town of Fouke and the surrounding wilderness, something mysterious and terrifying is said to live.
I speak, of course, of the Fouke Monster. The story of the Fouke monster spans five decades with initial sightings in the early 1970s. The creature is most commonly associated with the bigfoot or Sasquatch of American folklore. A hairy, bipedal seven-foot tall ape-like creature said to have, oddly, three-toes, the Fouke monster has had many run-ins with residents of southern Miller County – if you believe the stories.
The monster came to some fame after it reportedly attacked a man and in his family at their home. Sightings increased from there, with the creature blamed for multiple deaths of large animals in the area. One farmer claimed to see the Fouke Monster run off with a pair of 200 lbs hogs tucked under its arms.
Soon after, a series of cheesy docudrama films were made and helped carry the legend of the Fouke Monster to audiences across the nation. I’ve seen the first two movies and they’re full of… um, heart. Nonetheless, the Legend of the Boggy Creek monster was the 10th highest grossing film of 1972. Americans, after all, do love a good Bigfoot tale.
Although most encounters with the Fouke Monster have been peaceful, those who claim to have seen it don’t recommend visiting the surrounding woods alone. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped the creature from becoming Fouke’s most famous residents. An annual festival is held to celebrate the creature and its legacy in southern Arkansas. The Fouke Monster Mart is a great place to see some history on the monster and maybe even talk to a local or two who claim to have seen it.
And in case you’re wondering, sightings of the Fouke Monster and related kin have been reported aren’t just centered in Miller County. Obviously, the creature doesn’t care much for county lines. Sightings have been reported right here in Sevier County, mostly in the bottoms of Pond Creek. A few folks around the Little River and Rolling Fork rivers have helped make the legend more local with their own sightings of the monster.
That includes one recent story regaled to me. A few hunters checking their deer feeder near the Rolling Fork River at the beginning of the current archery season found the feeder smashed to bits and dragged hundreds of feet from its location. They’re adamant it wasn’t hogs but something much bigger, much scarier and, likely, much hairier. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
But one thing’s certain – talk to someone who’s claimed to have seen the monster and you’ll gonna feel a chill down your spine. And you might just be left wondering if there’s a lot more mystery in them woods than what we know – or even want to believe.
DHS band director discusses marching band’s big win at regional assessments  10/28/20
The full audio story and interview is available here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

When members of the De Queen High School Marching Band hit the field last week for their annual regional assessment, they could hardly have known they were making history for De Queen Schools. But they totally did.
Despite all the challenges and uncertainty of 2020, the marching band gave the performance of a life time. It earned them first-division ratings for the first time in at least 30 years. The performance also gave band members a level of status they can carry with them through the rest of the school year and possibly the rest of their lives.
Band Director Chris Richard spoke to us last week about the assessment, its significance and the hurdles the band had to cross to secure that prestigious moment in De Queen school history.
Those hurdles were put in place early into the COVID-19 pandemic. Health experts were quickly concerned about the threat posed by some elements of school bands – specifically, the wind and brass instruments which require heavy breathing to play. The list of guidelines, limitations and restrictions were handicapping, to say the least.
A band that can’t play its instruments is like a football team without a football. It’s kind of impossible to move forward at all. Richard and his band directors did the best they could with the limited abilities imposed on them. But the students followed suit, staying committed despite the uncertainty of the situation.
Like Richard said, the restrictions began to relax and band came to look a lot more like it used to. But that meant doubling down on practices and a lot of late nights. Yet that effort paid off handsomely last week when the band earned first-division ratings – for the first time in at least 30 years. Richard heaped praise on hits students but also recognized the supportive administration at De Queen Schools and the group of dedicated directors who serve under him.
Usually, Arkansas bands travel to their regional assessment. This year, given travel restrictions placed on school bands, a team of judges instead visited each school in turn. Richard said it was an unusual arrangement but one which he believed went to his students’ advantage.
Regional marching band assessments are staged by the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association. Assessments are based on a set of rigorous standards established by instrumental music educators from across Arkansas and are designed to set the bar for performance very high. Regional marching band assessment scores determine who is awarded an Arkansas Sweepstakes Trophy at the end of each year. For band directors across the state, the regional marching band assessment is seen as the band’s equivalent of a school’s end-of-course exams or championship playoffs. They are, therefore, seen as the most important events of the year for the students and faculty in the program.
De Queen’s performance last week earns them a spot in the state championship competition next week. But, like so many other things this year, COVID-19 has different plans. Student quarantines at De Queen Public Schools had affected 15 marching band members as off last Friday. With only 50 high school students, the marching band can hardly afford to replace them. So, Richard decided, instead of limping through the state championship, De Queen would opt out.
That doesn’t mean, however, students in the marching band are missing out completely on the rewards of their impressive performance last week. This week, Richard is hosting a band recruiter of the University of Arkansas at Monticello who’s looking to offer full scholarships – not just to one or two seniors, but each and every senior on the band.
Richard personally knows the opportunity a full band scholarship can provide. Growing up in a family with limited resources, his own band scholarship provided him with opportunities he could not have attained otherwise.
To know his students may have the opportunity for a similar experience, well, that’s about as rewarding as it gets for a public-school educator. And with a new legacy to follow after last week’s performance, hopefully many more future De Queen students will have access to that same opportunity – an opportunity made possible by dedication, hardwork and a passion for doing what they love.
Community project meeting planned for tonight; event moved to new location due to weather  10/28/20
DE QUEEN – A Community Project Planning Meeting is scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m. and all area

Rayna Mejia & Kevyn Johnson

residents are welcome to attend. The event, originally scheduled at the Sportsplex, has been relocated to the Faith and Deliverance Center at 322 Third Street in De Queen.

All local residents who are interested in helping organize efforts to support the minority populations of De Queen are encouraged and welcomed to come out and participate.

The purpose of the meeting is to begin planning a Southwest Arkansas Juneteenth celebration, discuss fundraising options for a Sevier County African-American museum and multicultural center, and to develop programs that provide regularly scheduled Sevier County Latino and black history education for the public.
Kevyn Wayne Johnson of De Queen is hosting the meeting and said his goal is to bridge the gap between the diverse groups of De Queen and Sevier County.
People of all races, ages, backgrounds and identities are welcome to attend. Please wear a face mask and practice social distancing.
For questions, please contact Kevyn Wayne by emailing DQunity@gmail.com.
De Queen Schools hosting parent-teacher conferences via email tomorrow   10/28/20

DE QUEEN – It’s parent-teacher week at De Queen Schools. But, like so much else this year, COVID-19 is changing the way conferences will be held. Instead of face-to-fact parent-teacher conferences on campus, the district will host communications via email. Teachers will be available for discussion with parents on Thursday, Oct. 29 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Due to limitations of the campus phone system, teachers will not be able to communicate via phone calls during this time.

However, district officials say if parents who need a one-on-one conversation with their child’s teacher can schedule a phone conference during regular conference hours. Parents should have received information on how to email their child’s teacher during tomorrow night’s conference. The packet also includes each teacher’s regularly scheduled conference hours.

Friday is last day to transfer voter registration in Arkansas   10/28/20

DE QUEEN – This Friday, Oct. 30, is the last day for Arkansas residents who have moved to a different county since the last election to update their registration in time for the Nov. 3 General Election. Contact your local county clerk’s office to update and transfer your registration.

Early voting continues across Arkansas this week. Early voting is also available this Saturday and again on Monday, Nov. 2. Election day is Nov. 3. Visit www.kdqn.net for a list of local early voting locations and hours they are open.

Undecided voters can still study up on Arkansas ballot issues through Public Policy Guide   10/28/20

FAYETTEVILLE – Besides local and federal elections, area residents are also joining voters across Arkansas in deciding several statewide ballot initiatives. If you have yet to cast your vote, and want to learn a little more about the state issues on this year’s ballot, there’s a great and unbiased source. The 2020 Arkansas Ballot Issue Voter Guide, published by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Public Policy Center, is still available at www.uaex.edu/ballot.

The guide covers all six statewide ballot issues, although the Arkansas Supreme Court has recently ruled that three of the six do not qualify to be on the November ballot. Issue 1, Issue 2 and Issue 3 remain on the ballot. Issue 1 seeks to make permanent a half-cent statewide sales tax to provide funds for infrastructure projects. The current sales tax provides the state with 70 percent of the revenue collected. The other 30 percent is split evenly between Arkansas cities and counties.

Issue 2 seeks to get rid of term limits in the Arkansas legislature. If passed, the law would install a 12-year term limit on state legislators. Legislators would be able to run again after a four-year break. If Issue 2 fails, the current 16-year lifetime term limit will remain in place.

Issue 3 is rather complicated but in effect seeks to make the process much more difficult for Arkansas citizens to submit citizen-led initiatives and referendums for placement on the ballot.

Gov. Hutchinson holds weekly COVID-19 press conference; team discusses testing, vaccine  10/28/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

State officials say the third wave of coronavirus infections continues to make its impact felt across Arkansas. That was part of the message shared by Gov. Asa Hutchinson during his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference on Tuesday.
As part of that third wave, new daily cases of COVID-19 continue to average out at the highest numbers since the pandemic began in the spring. That includes the one-day record in new case growth of 1,337 last Saturday. New confirmed and probable cases across Arkansas numbered 952 on Tuesday. That raises Arkansas’ cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to 107, 679. Hospitalizations hit a record again on Tuesday with an additional 27 cases announced by Hutchinson. Currently, 676 Arkansans are hospitalized due to complications caused by COVID-19. Deaths increased by a further 20 Arkansans to 1,696.
Hutchinson did announce a slight drop in the statewide active caseload over the previous 24 hours. That figure dropped by a net total of 81 to 9,490. Nonetheless, this total remains the highest since the pandemic began. Nearly 8,800 tests were performed between Monday and Tuesday.
Despite the virus’ spread, Hutchinson encouraged Arkansans to remain confident and hopeful in the pandemic’s conclusion. He said dedication to state and federal health guidelines is the key to fighting the pandemic.
Hutchinson also shared some encouragement by announcing the state was on track to perform 300,000 COVID-19 tests this month. That equals about 10 percent of the state’s population. He and other officials have long cited the importance of testing in reversing the pandemic.
A number of clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine are currently underway across the nation and world. The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed is attempting to deliver approved vaccines as soon as possible – possibly before the end of the year. Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero mentioned that plans are being discussed on how Arkansas will receive and deliver a vaccine once approved on the federal level.
Arkansas reports first flu-related death of the season  10/28/20
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Department of Health say the first Arkansan has died due to the flu during this year’s influenza season. The person was at least 65-years-old, according to the report.
Flu tests have confirmed 118 cases of the flu in Arkansas since the season began in late September. The reported cases reflect only a portion of the actual number of flu cases in the state, the report warns.

Arkansas reported only minimal flu activity so far this year. State health experts suggest that’s due to many Arkansans wearing masks and practicing social distancing as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

State health officials urged residents to get vaccinated for the flu as the coronavirus pandemic continues. State health officials are stressing the need to reduce hospitalizations due to record numbers of Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

The state reported 118 flu-related deaths last flu season. Those deaths iincluded three children and more than 36,000 positive flu tests.

Getting vaccinated against flu is more important now than ever, especially given the rise in COVID-19 cases in the area in recent days. The flu vaccine can keep you from getting the flu, make the flu less severe if you do get it, and keep you from spreading flu to your family and friends.

Flu vaccines are available at the local Arkansas Department of Health units.

The Arkansas Department of Health does not charge out-of-pocket costs for a flu shot and does not require insurance for receiving a flu shot, but you are encouraged to bring insurance information if you have it.

Arkansans may obtain a flu vaccine through their employer’s health insurance program, doctor’s office or local pharmacy. Many area public schools are also offering mass flu clinics throughout the flu season.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures  10/28/20

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:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County saw a small increase over the past 24 hours, raising by two to 45. Total cases grew slightly as well to 1,280. Deaths remain at 16. Overall, 1,219 Sevier County residents have caught COVID-19 and recovered since the pandemic began.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two additional deaths over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 37. The county saw no increase or decrease in active cases, which remain at 19. Total cases increased by three to 420.

Howard County active cases decreased by one to 26 while total cases remained at 544. Deaths did not increase and remain at 13.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus decreased by four to 36. Total cases did not change and remain at 340. Deaths total four since the start of the pandemic.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County active cases increased by four on Tuesday to 198. Total cases increased by 12 to 1,546. Deaths remained at 37.

Don’t look far for good haunted tales this Halloween  10/27/20

Here is the full audio story:Audio Player

Below is the partial transcript:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Halloween is upon us and that means it’s time for some scares, thrills and screams.
A popular activity this time of year is, of course, the telling of ghost stories and other thrilling tales. We all know the tales of the Salem Witch Trials, the vanishing hitchhiker, the Flying Dutchman and the haunted graveyards of New Orleans.
But you don’t have to look far for a good haunted tale. One of the most haunted places in Arkansas can be found right here in Sevier County.
Ok, maybe I’m getting a little melodramatic here. But it’s true that our area consistently ranks in the top 10 of most haunted locales in the Natural State. I’m talking, of course, about Avon Cemetery.
Located just north of De Queen on the west side of Highway 71, Avon Cemetery is pretty well known thanks to its high haunted rankings. OnlyInYourState.com, which highlights tourism opportunities within each state, lists Avon Cemetery as the fifth most haunted place in Arkansas.
Most local folks know the story. But it deserves a retelling since it’s, well, Halloween.
So, as the legend goes, many, many years ago (no one’s exactly sure) a young mother sat her baby on the edge of an old well on the cemetery grounds. She began drawing water from the well when the baby fell backwards and into the well. The baby could not be rescued and drowned. The mother grieved herself to death. Another tale has it that the mother killed the young child and threw it in the well.
Either way, local legend has it that if you drop a rock into the well, you can hear the baby crying. There’s a chance, too, you’ll see an apparition of the mother frantically running through the cemetery.
If you’re hoping to visit Avon Cemetery and try out the local legend for yourself, well, you might be out of luck. The well was long ago filled in and then covered up. But that hasn’t stopped some visitors from reporting some rather creepy encounters when visiting Avon Cemetery. Footsteps without any identifiable source, an odor of rotting meat, mysterious lights, unexplained sounds in the surrounding woods.
A team of paranormal investigators visited the cemetery in 2010 and claimed to capture the sound of a baby laughing. Here’s a part of that clip:
My wife and I, along with a couple of friends, visited Avon Cemetery one Halloween night several years ago. Personally, I’m not really into the whole ghost or haunted thing. But my skepticism did little to calm an uneasy feeling I had while touring the cemetery. Like other reports from visitors, we noticed the smell of rotting meat in the air – perhaps, my friend suggested, the smell of death? We also noticed piles of animal bones scattered on the road and in parts of the cemetery, just like those noted by the investigators in the audio clip we played a moment ago. It’s a coincidence, I’m sure. But, a coincidence I’d rather not be proven wrong about.
Another well known area haunting is the Gurdon Light. This mysterious light can be seen – so say locals – near a set of discontinued railroad track in a wooded area near Gurdon. The lights and a chance to see them are among the most popular Halloween attractions in the state.
According to folklore, the light originates from the lantern of a railroad worker who was killed when he fell into the path of a train. The legend states that the man’s head was separated from his body and was never found, and that the light that people see comes from his lantern as he searches for it. In another variation, the light is a lantern carried by railway foreman Will McClain, who was killed in the vicinity during a confrontation with one of his workers, Louis McBride in 1931. McClain believed McBride was the one who removed the spikes from a section of track, causing a freight train to derail, in an attempt to derail the Sunshine Special passenger train. Some sources say the confrontation was about how many hours McBride was allowed to work due to the Great Depression. McBride confessed to the murder and was executed by electrocution.
The lights are believed by some to be from passing cars on the highway in the distance (which look like small floating lights that flash off in the distance).
Some believe that it’s caused by piezoelectricity – the same kind that ignites a gas water heater’s pilot light – from the constant stress that the area’s underground quartz crystals are under. Gurdon does indeed sit above large amounts of quartz crystals and the New Madrid fault line. So it’s a good explanation. But one that doesn’t convince many local residents who know the Gurdon Light is not so easily explained.
UPDATE: We’ve been informed that vandalism at the cemetery tends to increase this time of year. For that reason, local law enforcement agencies will be keeping an eye on the cemetery to ensure the site remains undisturbed.
Today is last day to apply for absentee ballot application  10/27/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Today is the last day for Arkansas voters to request an absentee ballot.
Although early voting is now underway, Arkansans who’d rather skip in-person voting can request an absentee ballot through the end of business today. A statewide executive order issued by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the summer authorizes every Arkansan to vote absentee this year. Before requesting an absentee ballot, however, you must complete an absentee ballot application. These can be found at your county clerk’s office or on the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website at sos.Arkansas.gov.

The request must then be turned in to your local county clerk’s office.

The ballot itself must be received via mail by 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. If submitting your absentee ballot in person, you must do so by close of business on Nov. 2, the day before the election.

Inside your absentee ballot you’ll find a voter statement, step-by-step voting checklist, the ballot and the return envelope. Once you’ve filled out the ballot and voter statement, you’ll seal both those in the included Ballot Only” envelope.

TAKE YOUR TIME – If there’s any incorrect or missing information, your votes WILL NOT COUNT. You will NOT get the chance to fix this later.

Election officials are reminding voters who choose to mail in their ballot that they are required to cover the postage fee. The cost to mail back your ballot in the provided envelope is $1.40.

Voters seeking additional information are welcome to call their county clerk’s office. In Sevier County, that number is (870) 642-2852. In Little River County, call (870) 898-7210. Howard County residents can call (870) 845-7502 and, in Polk County, (479) 394-8123.

Local youth exhibitors take home big wins at Arkansas State Fair  10/27/20

LITTLE ROCK – Local youth exhibitors stacked up a bunch of wins during the Arkansas State Fair held Oct. 14-24.

That includes Peyton Blanton of De Queen, who showed the Reserve Champion Beefmaster Bred & Ownded Female.

A big congrats as well to Hunter Frachiseur of Horatio, who was awarded as the Reserve Champion Senior Gilt Showman.

Also in the listening area, Baylie Clay of Glenwood needed help to carry home all the awards she got. That included showing both the Supreme and Reserve Champion Brahman Influenced Bred & Owned Female and the Supreme and Reserve Champion Brahman Bred & Owned Bull.

De Queen Homecoming festivities continue today  10/27/20

DE QUEEN – Spirit Week continues today at De Queen High School in preparation for this Friday’s Homecoming Ceremonies. The festivities kicked off yesterday.

Yesterday was Scare the Panthers Monday, when students wore their Halloween costumes to school. Today is Don’t Sleep on the Leopards Tuesday, when students are allowed to wear pajamas. Tomorrow is Way Back Wednesday, when students will dress in fashion from a past decade. Thursday is It’s A Cat Fight Thursday, when students will be asked to dress in their designated class color for color wars day.

The big ceremonies are set for this Friday, Oct. 30, when the De Queen Leopards football team will take on the Magnolia Panthers.

The De Queen High School Student Council announced earlier this month that Halle Harp will be the 2020 DHS Homecoming Queen. She will be escorted by twenty-six DHS homecoming maids.

Due to Covid-19 precautions and that Friday being a virtual school day for the district, homecoming festivities will look a little different this year. The festivities will begin at 2 p.m. at Leopard Stadium with an afternoon coronation ceremony. DHS is inviting students and the community to attend the ceremony at no cost. There will be no pre-game homecoming ceremony but the homecoming court will be recognized at halftime of the football game. In order to be in compliance with the Arkansas Department of Health, everyone must wear a mask and social distance at the afternoon ceremony and during the football game.

Moratorium on rental evictions to continue through December  10/27/20

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas residents facing eviction due to COVID-19 hardships can still apply for a moratorium through a federal program. According to court records, evictions doubled in August and September compared to the same period of 2019. Officials stress Arkansans facing eviction try and use this assistance program to provide them with some breathing room.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the nationwide moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent through Dec. 31 of this year.

This moratorium places a temporary halt to residential evictions. The moratorium does not prevent evictions for other reasons and does not relieve tenants of any obligations to pay rent, late fees, or penalties.

Tenants seeking protection under the moratorium are required to submit a declaration stating their inability to pay rent with specific supporting facts. The declaration, for example, must include statements reflecting: the tenant’s efforts to obtain government assistance; the tenant’s income; the tenant’s inability to pay rent due to loss of income, work, or significant medical expenses; the tenant’s efforts to try to make full or partial rent payments; and whether the eviction would likely cause the tenant to live in a homeless shelter or in close quarters with others where COVID might spread.

The CDC’s Order does not forgive rent payments and does not relieve tenants of the obligation to pay rent.

Tenants are encouraged to continue paying rent in an agreed amount with their landlord in order to avoid any large amounts of rent due following the expiration of the moratorium.

Tenants protected by the moratorium will still have to pay all rent due under the lease when the moratorium ends. Skeptics of this program suggest it will lead renters into a trap and that, once the moratorium ends, they will still be unable to afford their current rent – let alone backrent, fees and interest.

To utilize the CDC Order’s protections, tenants must submit a copy of a declaration to their landlord.  A sample declaration is available at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus

Consumers who are in need of legal advice should contact a private attorney or Arkansas Legal Services.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures  10/27/20

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:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County fell by two on Monday to 67. Total cases grew by eight to 1,258 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County saw no increase or decrease in its active COVID-19 cases, which remain at 22. Total confirmed cases stayed unchanged at 447 at deaths at 38.

Howard County reported a single decrease in its active COVID-19 cases, which now number 40. Total cases grew by one to 578. Deaths remain at 14.

Active cases in Polk County saw a significant decrease on Monday, dropping by nine to 21. Total cases were unchanged at 354. Deaths remain at 5.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 26 fewer active cases on Monday for a total of 194. Total cases grew by two to 1,616. Deaths remain at 39.

Across Arkansas, an additional 612 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 106,727. Deaths grew by 21 to 1,833 and hospitalizations by 16 to 649. Active positives saw a net decrease of 195, leaving 9,571 confirmed active cases in the state.

Local, state and national health officials continue to stress the importance of wearing a face mask in public settings, washing hands frequently and maintaining six-feet of social distancing where possible. Arkansans are also encouraged to get their flu shots as soon as possible in hopes of alleviating an aggressive flu season in the midst of a renewed COVID-19 outbreak.

Sevier County voters to decide wet/dry issue this election   10/23/20
The full audio interview is featured here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is available below:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

One issue which is certainly driving Sevier County voters to the polls this year is the question of legalizing alcohol sales.
The sale of alcohol has been illegal in Sevier County since Prohibition took effect in the 1920s. Even after Prohibition ended, the ban continued in Sevier County and numerous others across the state and region. A group of local business owners and residents are hoping to bring that ban to a final end.
The Sevier County EDGE Vote for Growth Committee announced its intention to overturn the vote this year by bringing it to all of Sevier County’s voters. After gaining more than the minimum-amount of needed petition signatures back int he summer, the issue was officially placed on the ballot for the 2020 November General Election.
Naturally, an issue like this can lead to controversy. The sale of alcohol has been prohibited in the county for a century. But organizers behind this effort stress it’s time for a change. Specifically, they see alcohol sales as a way to stimulate economic growth in a time when rural communities are suffering due to declining manufacturing and increasing centralization of large industries in metropolitan areas, reducing job creation, the tax revenue base and tourism-related growth.
Monica Pearce of De Queen is one of the volunteers behind the effort to legalize alcohol sales in Sevier County. Given the proximity to Little River County and McCurtain County in Oklahoma – both of which allow for the sale of alcohol – Pearce said legalizing sales here would collect revenue already being spent elsewhere.
Pearce and other Sevier County EDGE members stress this change, if passed, won’t mean a liquor store on every corner. The issue would provide for up to three liquor stores in the county and allow restaurants to apply for licenses to sell alcohol on their premises. Allow restaurants to serve alcohol, Pearce said, would help local tourism attract more visitors.
Sevier County residents who have voiced opposition say things can get slippery when wet. Their opposition to the issue largely cites the negative impacts alcohol can have on a community. Unbiased, national-level statistics don’t appear to be available detailing the change in alcohol-related crime and motor vehicle accidents once a county goes wet. But results from other communities which have done so are mixed. Alcohol-related incidents in Craighead County were increasing before the county went wet and continued to do so for a couple of years after the change. But then they began to fall off and remained lower than in previous years.
In neighboring Little River County, officials who asked to remain anonymous said they’ve noticed little to no change since the county went wet in 2016. They stated charges for the offense of driving while intoxicated and public intoxicated saw a sizable decrease since the county voted to legalize alcohol sales. Law enforcement agencies in other communities have cited the fact that people have to drive less to get alcohol and are thereby less likely to drink and drive.
Other studies have been somewhat of a mixed bag of results. For instance, a 2000-circa study by the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University in New York found alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents increased in communities (the paper studies 237 alcohol-related policy changes within communities in Texas) where on-site consumption of alcohol was legalized, such as in a bar or restaurant. However, the study then finds expected accidents “may actually decrease” in communities where the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption is allowed.
Going off Little River’s relatively positive experience since going wet, Pearce and other Sevier County EDGE members are telling voters they don’t expect much change locally if the issue passes.
The issue is open to all Sevier County voters to decide this year. However the issue turns out once the election ends next week, no doubt local residents are going to be paying very close attention to the results – whether that means alcohol remains illegal to sell in Sevier County or that it will be allowed for the first time in 100 years.

Early voting continues this week   10/26/20
DE QUEEN – Early voting continues this week across Arkansas.
Voters casting their ballots early in Sevier County last week likely noticed some changes from previous elections. Six-foot markers were in place to help ensure CDC-required social distancing. Election workers donned masks and other personal protective equipment. Free, disposable styluses were handed out to each voter to make sure no one had to personally touch anything. Although masks are not required, almost no one entered the polling location without one on their face.
Early voting will continue in Sevier County through Nov. 2 at the Herman Dierks Park Community Building in De Queen. The location is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekday this week and, for the convenience of voters, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday. The last day to early vote is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 2.
Little River County residents can cast their early vote at the Little River County Election Center located at 349 North Third Street in Ashdown. Early voting for citizens of Little River County is also available at the Foreman Community Center at 200 Shuman Street in Foreman.
Both locations are open Monday through Friday this week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday. Early voting continues through Monday, Nov. 2. Early voting hours that day are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Election day itself will be Nov. 3.
Although early voting is now underway, Arkansans who’d rather skip in-person voting still have today and tomorrow to request an absentee ballot application. A statewide executive order issued by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the summer authorizes every Arkansan to vote absentee this year. Before requesting an absentee ballot, however, you must complete an absentee ballot application. These can be found at your county clerk’s office or on the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website at sos.Arkansas.gov.
The request must then be turned in to your local county clerk’s office. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Tuesday, Oct. 27. The ballot must be received via mail by 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. If submitting your absentee ballot in person, you must do so by close of business on Nov. 2, the day before the election.
Election officials are reminding voters who choose to mail in their ballot that they are required to cover the postage fee. The cost to mail back your ballot in the provided envelop is $1.40.
Voters seeking additional information are welcome to call their county clerk’s office. In Sevier County, that number is (870) 642-2852. In Little River County, call (870) 898-7210. Howard County residents can call (870) 845-7502 and, in Polk County, (479) 394-8123.
2020 DHS Homecoming festivities kick off today with Spirit Week   10/26/20
DE QUEEN – De Queen High School’s Homecoming Ceremonies kick off this week in preparation for the big event this Friday night.
The De Queen High School Student Council announced earlier this month that Halle Harp will be the 2020 DHS Homecoming Queen. She will be escorted by twenty-six DHS homecoming maids. The ceremonies are set for this Friday, Oct. 30, when the De Queen Leopards football team will take on the Magnolia Panthers. Homecoming festivities will kick-off with spirit week beginning today and continuing through Oct. 29.
Spirit days include: Scare the Panthers Monday, when students will be allowed wear their Halloween costume; Don’t Sleep on the Leopards Tuesday, when students will be allowed to wear pajamas; Way Back Wednesday, when students will dress in fashion from a past decade; It’s A Cat Fight Thursday, when students will be asked to dress in their designated class color for color wars day. School dress code will apply to spirit week.
Due to Covid-19 precautions and that Friday being a virtual school day for the district, homecoming festivities will look a little different this year. The festivities will begin at 2 p.m. at Leopard Stadium with an afternoon coronation ceremony. DHS is inviting students and the community to attend the ceremony at no cost. There will be no pre-game homecoming ceremony but the homecoming court will be recognized at halftime of the football game. In order to be in compliance with the Arkansas Department of Health, everyone must wear a mask and social distance at the afternoon ceremony and during the football game.
Senior maids for this year’s Homecoming event include Kimberly Delgado, Deciredh Alvarez, Edith Hernandez, Dalania Hibbis, Carlee Helms, Ashley Contreras, Yasmelin Gonzalez, Angie Hernandez, Kynnedi France, Matilda Jacobo, Cristal Caudra, Giovanna Lerma, Perla Zapata, Sara Victoriano, Jessalyn Parker, Ana Marrufo, Kenya Martinez, Ariana Ortiz, Janae Tirado, Parker Sneed, Lizbeth Osura and Diana Ramirez.
Junior maids are Daphne Villeda and Marlen Perez. Sophomore maids are Wendy Victoriano and Amairany Ortiz. Crown bearer is Aileen Lopez while Hernan Fernandez will serve as football bearer.
Local youth raise thousands of dollars at Sale of Champions in Little Rock  10/26/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
The annual Sale of Champions livestock auction was held today as part of the Jr. Livestock Show of the Arkansas State Fair. The event, held in Barton Coliseum, raises funds for ag youth scholarships.
Kix Lee of Gillham had an amazing performance throughout this year’s Arkansas State Fair Livestock Show, taking home a number of wins. The biggest no doubt was had at the Sale of Champions, where Lee’s Bronze Medallion Market Steer netted an impressive $6,000 at the auction.

Kinlee Stivers of Lockesburg also had a great performance at the Sale of Champions. Her market hog, which placed fifth overall during the livestock show, raised $1,500 at the auction.

Like so much this year, the 2020 Arkansas State Fair was a decidedly different and limited event. But no so at the Livestock show.

While most of the parking lots at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds have sat empty throughout October, the barns and livestock pens at the southern end of the grounds have been as lively as ever for the past 10 days.

For the first time in decades, the Arkansas State Fair, historically spanning the middle weeks of October, was canceled — another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic that began shuttering businesses and social events in March.

When the Fairgrounds’ board of directors made the decision to cancel the 2020 fair earlier this year, they left the door open to the possibility of conducting the traditional livestock show during the same 10 days in October. Farm families from across Arkansas seized the opportunity.

Chris Sweat, a livestock superintendent for the Arkansas State Fair and former agriculture teacher at Blevins High School in Hempstead County, said many of the young exhibitors and their families simply needed an excuse to get out of the house and off the farm.

The annual livestock show is normally at the heart of a literal carnival, surrounded by acres of rides, vendors and tens of thousands of visitors from around the state. But with the cancellation of the fair itself, the grounds were considerably quieter and less hectic, which Sweat said had helped to lower the general level of stress for everyone involved.

In contrast to the zeroed-out fair attendance, overall participation in various livestock exhibitions was up substantially. Chelsey Kimbrough, associate professor of specialty livestock and youth for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said entries in the various cattle categories alone was up 25 percent over 2019.

Kimbrough said the annual fair offers exhibitors, who often begin raising and showing animals from rabbits to sheep to cattle of every stripe before they themselves even reach the age of 10, the opportunity to show off the work they’ve put into raising animals and lessons they’ve learned in the preceding year.

Stay informed and make sure your vote counts this election year  10/26/20

Election Day 2020 is quickly approaching – a time when Arkansans have the opportunity to have their constitutional rights heard by making important decisions on candidates and issues being considered on the ballot. This year is bringing challenges that have required new precautions to ensure Arkansans are safe while executing their voting rights. State and local election officials say, despite these new challenges and changes, it is important for Arkansans to know that the integrity of the election is preserved and that when a ballot is cast, it will be counted.

Arkansas citizens who have not yet voted can confirm their voting registration, location and precinct with your county clerk on your voter registration card or online at VoterView.org.

Voters can also check with their County Clerk to view a sample ballot before you vote. Sevier County voters can view a sample ballot online on our website, www.kdqn.net

Due to COVID-19, you may request an absentee ballot from the County Clerk’s office by printing an English or Spanish absentee ballot application and return it by mail or in person to your county clerk by October 27.

The Arkansas Health Department issued a guidance for voters to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. They advise wearing masks to your voting location and maintaining six-feet social distancing. Although masks are recommended at voting locations in Arkansas, they are not required.

Voters can review candidate information and state ballot issues by visiting the Secretary of State’s Elections website.

Voters are also encouraged to research ballot issues from a non-partisan source beforehand to be a more informed voter. A great source for unbiased information is available through the Arkansas Voter Guide published by the University of Arkansas Public Policy Center. This guide is available online at www.uaex.edu/ballot

Absentee ballots must be returned to your County Clerk by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. Military ballots must be post marked by Election Day and received by Friday, November 13.

For tips on what to expect at your polling location, you can review the Secretary of State’s Voting 101 Pocket Guide. If you would like to report a voting concern, contact the State Board of Election Commissioners at (501) 682-1834 or visit arkansas.gov/sbec.

Horatio High School NHS hosting Halloween event this weekend   10/26/20

HORATIO – For those looking for a fun but socially distanced Halloween experience, the Horatio High School chapter of the National Honor Society is offering just that for area children this weekend. The organization will be handing out candy through a no-touch candy drop. A candy chute will be set up to deliver treats and ensure no-contact procedures are in place. Visitors are event welcome to stay in their vehicle if they wish.

The event will take place this Saturday, Halloween night, from 6-8 p.m. at Horatio High School, located on Metcalf Street. Please enter the east drive and exit the west drive of the high school.

Deer-related accidents on the rise this time of year   10/26/20

Rut is in full swing in most parts of the state, and with the increased deer activity comes something that happens to hundreds of Arkansas drivers every year – a collision with a deer.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission advises all motorists to be aware of what may be just beyond the edge of the road while driving during this time of year. In addition to the increased deer activity, the shortened days place rush hour during the peak times of day when deer are on the move.

One way to increase safety is simply slowing down. Giving yourself a split-second longer to see and react to deer along the side of the road often can be the difference between a safe braking job and a dangerous situation. Give yourself a few extra minutes in the morning and at night to get where you’re going and arrive safely.

When it is dark, use your high beams whenever the road is free of oncoming traffic. This will allow a deer’s eyes to shine, even when along the side of the road, so that you are prepared if one starts making its way toward you.

While jokes abound about deer crossing signs and the Arkansas Department of Transportation simply moving them to a crosswalk to let deer cross in those areas, the signs are there for a reason. According to ADOT, these signs are placed at areas where they have been requested by people observing multiple instances of animals crossing the road and where vehicle collisions have occurred.

Never swerve to avoid a deer in the road. Swerving can confuse the deer on where to run. Swerving can also cause a head-on collision with oncoming vehicles, take you off the roadway into a tree or a ditch, and greatly increase the chances of serious injuries. If a deer does move into your path, maintain control and do your best to brake and give the deer time to get out of your way.

If you do collide with a deer or other large animal, call emergency services at once if injuries are involved, or local law enforcement if no one is injured but damage has been caused to your vehicle. Also give the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission a call at 800-482-9262 to report the road kill. Report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

A frequent question to the Game and Fish Commission is, “If I hit and kill a deer on a road, can I keep the deer for meat?” The answer is yes, and it does not count on a hunter’s season limit. Once a wildlife officer records the incident, he or she also may know of a needy family in the area who would take the meat.

ADH’s COVID-19 report shows growing active cases in region   10/26/20

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:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County continue to grow as part of a nationwide surge in rural COVID-19 cases across the country. National and state health experts are calling this the third wave of COVID-19 and its impact is disproportionately falling on rural communities. Active cases in Sevier County fell below the single digit mark in late September/early October but have steadily increased since.

As of Sunday afternoon, Sevier County is reporting 69 confirmed active cases of the virus. That’s an increase of 15 since Friday’s report. Total cases grew by 18 over the same period. Deaths fortunately did not increase and remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County saw a slight decrease in its active case count, which fell by three on Sunday to 22. Total cases increased by 15 over the weekend to 447. Deaths remain at 38.

Howard County reported a rise in its active cases over the weekend, which saw a net increase of 12 since Friday. Active cases in the county now number 41. Total cases crew by 21 over the same period to 577. Deaths remain at 14.

Active cases in Polk County saw a net increase of just one active case of COVID-19 over the weekend, raising the current total to 30. Total cases grew by 12 to 354. Deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional COVID-19-related death over the weekend. That raises the county’s total to 39 – the highest in the region. Active cases of COVID-19 in McCurtain County remain the highest in the region at 220. That includes six new cases confirmed over the weekend. Total cases grew by 37 over the weekend to 1,614.

Across Arkansas, an additional 1,337 cases were confirmed on Thursday. That’s the largest one-day growth in cases since the pandemic began. Nearly 800 cases were confirmed on Sunday, raising the cumulative total to 106,115. Deaths increased by 15 on Sunday to 1,812. Hospitalizations increased again, rising by 14 to 633 Arkansas currently hospitalized. Active positives rose by 231 on Sunday to 9,766. That’s a record-setting level of active cases in Arkansas and surpasses any totals seen so far since the pandemic.

Local, state and national health officials continue to stress the importance of wearing a face mask in public settings, washing hands frequently and maintaining six-feet of social distancing where possible. Arkansans are also encouraged to get their flu shots as soon as possible in hopes of alleviating an aggressive flu season in the midst of a renewed COVID-19 outbreak.

Erin Hunter of De Queen to be area’s new prosecuting attorney   10/23/20
DE QUEEN – The Ninth West Judicial District will receive its first new prosecuting attorney in a dozen years.
In an announcement made Thursday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson stated his intent to appoint Erin Hunter of De Queen as the district’s new prosecuting attorney. She will replace Bryan Chesshir, who has held the position since 2008. Hunter is currently a deputy prosecutor for the Ninth West Judicial District and also serves as the legal counsel for the City of De Queen. Her term begins Jan. 1, 2021 and continues through Dec. 31, 2022.
The Ninth West Judicial District encompasses Sevier, Howard, Little River and Pike Counties.
Hutchinson said Hunter’s experience in various prosecutorial roles places her as a highly qualified candidate for the position of top prosecuting attorney.
In a statement, Hunter praised Chesshir for faithfully executing his term as an elected prosecutor. Chesshir himself has more than 22 years of prosecutorial experience including 12 years as the area’s prosecuting attorney. In 2017 he was recognized as the Prosecuting Attorney of the Year by the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association.
We hope to bring you more on this story in the near future.
Dierks School District listed in school “red zone” report from ACHI   10/23/20
DIERKS – The Dierks School District has been placed in a COVID-19 “red zone,” according to a new report by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI).
The report and graphics, which were released yesterday, show Dierks as one of 42 school districts in the state which have reported 50 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 district residents over a two week period. State health experts deem these areas as “red zones” for the rate of COVID-19 transmissions.
The report does not state these cases are within the school itself. Rather, it details transmissions of the virus among the population within those school districts. In fact, the Dierks School District is not even listed on the latest school report – released yesterday by the Arkansas Department of Health. That report includes each school district in Arkansas with five or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its students and staff.
The only local school district featured on the list is De Queen, with 14 currently confirmed active cases. However, De Queen remains in the “yellow zone” according to the Arkansas Center for Health Improvements due to the lower per capita rate of infection within the entire school district. In effect, De Queen’s cases remain below the point-five percent level.
The two week period detailed in the report spans from Oct. 5 through Oct. 19. The 42 “red zone” schools announced Thursday is nearly double from the 23 identified during the previous two-week period.
Dr. Joe Thompson, president of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvements, said the report shows COVID-19 is still an invisible and serious threat that continues to spread across the state.
Today is deadline for Arkansas Wildlife Conservation Grants   10/23/20
LITTLE ROCK – Today is the deadline for educators to apply for free money to help teach conservation education in Arkansas. Interested schools and educators can apply for more than $735,000 in education grants but must do so by the end of the day. The deadline was previously extended by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas Economic Development Commission, but today marks the final deadline.
More information on the program, a link to the application site and a county-by-county list of grant money are available atwww.agfc.com/conservationgrants.
There is nearly $3,700 available in grant money in Sevier County, over $5,100 in Polk, $5,600 in Howard and $4,500 in Little River County.
The money for the grants comes from fines collected for wildlife violations in each Arkansas county. The money collected by courts is sent to the AEDC and earmarked for conservation education programs. Qualifying grant programs include Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program, Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, Fishing in the Natural State, the Schoolyard Habitat Program, Stream Teams and other educational programs that introduce youth to natural resources. Reimbursement for field trip expenses to AGFC nature and education centers, hatcheries and other field experiences also may qualify for grants.
These grants have funded a variety of youth shooting sports and conservation activities and programs in the listening area.
DQPD participating in 2020 Arkansas Drug Take Back day   10/23/20
DE QUEEN – Local and state law enforcement agencies are teaming up this weekend to encourage Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets in an effort to make their homes and communities safer. These agencies are organizing more than 250 drop-off locations throughout Arkansas for this year’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
This annual event will be held this Saturday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations across the state. At these events Arkansans are encouraged to bring any unused or expired medications and drop them off, no questions asked.
State health experts say that cleaning out medicine cabinets and turning the expired, unused medications over to law enforcement during a Drug Take Back event can go a long ways towards saving lives. Overdoses are on the rise and the figures have been staggering, especially during the pandemic. Law enforcement agencies say it’s more important than ever to properly dispose of these prescription drugs.
Prescription Drug Take Back Day is held semi-annually with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs and Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy. The DEA, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers also participate each year.
The De Queen Police Department and local drug taskforce unit will participate on Drug Take Back Day by setting up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the De Queen Walmart Store this Saturday. A year-round drug collection site is also located at the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office. The Ashdown Police Department and Little River County Sheriff’s Office also feature year-round collection sites.
Other events and more information on Drug Take Back Day in Arkansas can be found at ARTakeBack.org. Since the program began, more than 72 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is an estimated 201 million individual pills.

Weather likely to get wet over next week in listening area   10/23/20

DE QUEEN – It’s likely to get a little wet in the listening area today and throughout next week.

According to the National Weather Service, showers and thunderstorms are possible throughout Friday morning and into the afternoon. Chances are currently hovering around 80 percent. Chances are only 20 percent tonight, so hopefully the weather will have no impact on the football games scheduled around the area this evening.

A cold front is expected to bring in additional rain starting Sunday and continuing throughout next week. Chances are currently between 40 and 60 percent through next Thursday.

Highs and lows will see a sizeable drop after a heat wave hit the area this week. Tonight’s low is 48, nearly 20 degrees less than other nights this week. Lows will remain in the 40s and 50s next week.

Although De Queen’s traditional first frost day falls around Oct. 26, temperatures will not get low enough just yet to cause that to occur.

Horatio Haunted House returns this weekend   10/23/20

HORATIO – Get ready for another weekend of thrills, scares and screams with the “Screams of the Night” Haunted House in Horatio. The haunted house kicks off again tonight and Saturday night with two more performances scheduled for Oct. 30 and 31. The event, which is billed as the biggest haunted house in the Ark-La-Tex area, is open nightly from 7 p.m. to midnight. The haunted house is located at the intersection of Highway 24 and Highway 41 on 120 Headstream Road.

“Screams of the Night” is hosted annually by the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department. This is the fire department’s seventh year to put on the production. In previous years the event featured concessions, an indoor waiting area in case of rain, outdoor fire pits to keep visitors warm and waiting areas for family members too scared to enter. The haunted house includes around 40 rooms with character actors inside sure to give visitors the fright of a lifetime.

Proceeds benefit the volunteer fire department and its mission in the community. In previous years money raised through the haunted house was used to towards a new fire engine for the city and free smoke alarms for residents who don’t have one. Money raised has also been used to provide needed supplies for residents who lost their home due to a fire.

For more information visit the Horatio Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Time is here for Arkansas’ spectacular foliage change of colors   10/23/20

DE QUEEN – Are you ready to plan your fall road trips yet? Whether you have or have not, now’s a good time to travel the Natural State. The state’s fall foliage is about to be in seen in its full glory.

Arkansas may be known for its hot springs, beautiful lakes, and rivers but make no mistake the fall foliage in Arkansas can compete with anywhere in the state.

The state of Arkansas turns into gorgeous shades of reds, oranges, and yellows every fall.

The fall foliage will be in its full glory from late October to mid-November every year.

2020 will not be any different so it’s time you start planning your annual Arkansas fall foliage road trip that will take you on an a peaceful and beautiful journey to all of the most scenic spots in Arkansas to see the leaves change color.

Fall colors begin to appear in the Ozarks and other northern sections of the state by the second week in October and continue slowly toward the southern part of the state.

Late October and early November generally provides peak fall color in our corner of Arkansas. October and November are two of the most popular months that travelers in Arkansas can see the beautiful fall colors and cool brisk weather.

There’s plenty of places here in Sevier County to see the colors change. But for some really amazing displays, you just need to travel a short distance north to Polk County, Mena and the surrounding Ouachita Mountains. The Talimena Scenic drive is particularly popular this time of year.

Every autumn, nature paints the mountains and valleys of the Ouachita Mountains with gorgeous hues of gold, red and orange. Many of Arkansas’s visitors travel here for special fall vacations to catch a glimpse (and take some incredible instagrammable photos) of the season.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Polk, McCurtain Counties report additional deaths   10/23/20

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:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County saw another increase on Thursday, growing by four to 53. Total cases increased by 10 to 1,301 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County saw a slight growth in its active case count, which rose by two to 19. Total cases increased by six to 432. Deaths remain at 38.

Howard County active cases increased by five over the past 24 hours to a total of 29. Total cases increased by 10 to 556. Deaths remain at 14.

Polk County reported its first additional death due to COVID-19 on Thursday in over a month. That raises the death toll in the county to five. However, active cases of the virus saw another day of decline, dropping by two to 29. Total cases increased by just one to 342.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional COVID-19-related death on Thursday. That raises the county’s total to 38. Active positives increased again on Thursday by 11 to 214. Total cases grew by 20 to 1,577.

Across Arkansas, an additional 1,202 cases were confirmed on Thursday. That’s the third largest one-day growth in cases since the pandemic began and raises the state’s cumulative total to 102,798. Deaths increased by 21 to 1,772. Hospitalizations however saw another day of decline, falling by 24 to 612. Active positives did see an increase of 210 to 8,730 confirmed active cases in Arkansas.

Volunteers still sought for 2020 Trunk or Treat in De Queen   10/23/20

DE QUEEN – Volunteers with De Queen’s 2020 Halloween Trunk or Treat are still seeking volunteers for this year’s event. After last year’s success, the event will be moving to the Sportsplex to accommodate even more activities and visitors. The event is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31.

Members of the community are invited to host a car or game at this year’s Trunk or Treat. There is no cost to enter a car or activity. Organizers are also asking the community to support the event by donating candy. Anyone wanting to donate candy for the event can do so at Meraki Hair Studio, Top Line or Peak Therapy in the Town North Shopping Center. Organizers are asking participants in this year’s Trunk or Treat to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Set up time for Trunk or Treat participants is 2:30 on Halloween. There will be a contest for best decorated car voted on by the kids. For more information and a sign up sheet, visit the De Queen Trunk or Treat event page on Facebook. You can also contact Alicia Gonzalez at 784-0628.

Ashdown Panther Theater to perform “Annie” this weekend   10/23/20

Area residents are invited to attend Ashdown High School’s reproduction of the popular play Annie, scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday.

Community performances are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24 and Sunday, Oct. 25 with performances at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. both days.  Adult tickets are $5 and student tickets are $3. Tickets can be purchased through the end of today at the Ashdown Public Schools administration office.

Tickets will be pre-sold as the auditorium audience capacity is currently limited at 100 with Arkansas Department of Health guidelines. The play is directed by Ginger Hillis.

Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie.


De Queen Leopards Marching Band earns first-division rating for first time since 1990s   10/22/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

First Division – The De Queen Leopards Marching Band received top ratings for its performance during the Region Marching Band Assessment on Tuesday. That’s the first time the band has achieved this distinction in nearly three decades.

Tuesday was a huge day for the De Queen Leopards Marching Band. For the first time in nearly 30 years, the band walked away from its annual regional competition with a perfect performance and a chance at the state championship.

A regional assessment judging team visited De Queen on Tuesday and watched the marching band perform at Leopard Stadium. Following the performance, the judges provided the Leopards Marching Band with straight 1 superior ratings – the best possible. Those ratings included top marks in a number of categories, including music performance, marching performance and the overall effect and integration of all of the band’s marching components. De Queen school officials said the Leopards Marching Band has not received complete straight 1 superior ratings since the 1990s.

For band directors across the state, the regional marching band assessment is seen as the band’s equivalent of a school’s end-of-course exams. They are, therefore, seen as the most important events of the year for the students and faculty in the program.

De Queen High School Band Director Chris Richard said all of the band’s hard work, practice and dedication paid off after Tuesday’s performance and perfect assessment. That well-earned victory follows perhaps the most difficult year of any school marching band’s history. With state and federal guidelines against COVID-19 still in effect, marching bands like De Queen’s have had to adapt greatly to a myriad of challenges.

Richard said the program lost nine kids over the past week due to COVID-related quarantine. That meant reassigning parts and performing new drills. Nonetheless, a supreme effort by the remaining students paid off handsomely with that historic performance and rating on Tuesday.

Richard credited De Queen band members and the director trio, as well as a supportive De Queen School administration, for making it all happen.

Regional marching band assessments are staged by the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association. Assessments are based on a set of rigorous standards established by instrumental music educators from across Arkansas and are designed to set the bar for performance very high. Regional marching band assessment scores determine who is awarded an Arkansas Sweepstakes Trophy at the end of each year.

De Queen was not the only area school to perform exceptionally well at this year’s regional assessments. As we reported yesterday, the Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band also received the awesome distinction of a flawless, first division rating.

The Horatio Lions Marching Band will also be going to the state marching band championship following its regional assessment on Tuesday. Judges provided the Lions with a second division rating following the performance. A second-division rating is considered an excellent score by the Arkansas School Band Association and qualifies the Lions for the statewide competition.

The state competition will be held Nov. 3. A big congrats and shout out from all of us here at KDQN to our local schools and the hardwork and dedication which made their amazing performances possible.

De Queen’s average first front and freeze days are coming up, but current warm front has different plans this year     10/22/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The National Weather Service has released its forecast detailing when Arkansans can expect the first frost and freeze in the state. For residents of the listening area, those average dates are just around the corner. But don’t be too concerned just yet – the temps won’t be anywhere near close to freezing.

According to forecasters with the National Weather Service, De Queen can expect the first frost of the year on or around Oct. 26. That is the traditional average for the area. That date is obviously closer – if not already passed – in the north stretches of the state.

This year the first frost for north Arkansas actually occurred earlier than average. With southwest Arkansas in the midst of an unusual warm front, the first frost is doubtful to be on time in 2020. Temperatures over the next week and a half are not expected to get even close to the freezing mark.

Frost occurs when water vapor becomes a solid, forming ice crystals on outdoor surfaces. Temperatures don’t have to be below freezing – frost can occur with temps slightly above the 32 degrees Fahrenheit mark.

For listeners who spend a lot of time in their yard and gardens, the first frost is always an important moment to keep an eye on. That means putting up those not so cold-hardy plants, pare your perennials and consider planting those spring-flowering bulbs.

Forecasters predict De Queen’s first freeze to occur around Nov. 3. The first freeze marks the average date during which temperatures for the season fall to or below 32 degrees.

However the weather unfolds this season, you can certainly expect Tyler Massey here at KDQN Studios to keep you updated and informed each and every day.

De Queen meeting next week seeks to highlight area’s minority populations     10/22/20

DE QUEEN – A Community Project Planning Meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Sportsplex in De Queen.

All local residents who are interested in helping organize efforts to support the minority populations of De Queen are encouraged and welcomed to come out and participate.

The purpose of the meeting is to begin planning a Southwest Arkansas Juneteenth celebration, discuss fundraising options for a Sevier County African-American museum and multicultural center, and to develop programs that provide regularly scheduled Sevier County Latino and black history education for the public.

People of all races, ages, backgrounds and identities are welcome to attend. Please wear a face mask and practice social distancing. An online option to view the meeting will be available as well.

For questions, please contact Kevyn Wayne by emailing DQunity@gmail.com.

DQPD makes arrests in two separate incidents for DWI, public intox    10/22/20

DE QUEEN – A De Queen man is facing a public intoxication charge after he reportedly caused a commotion at a trailer park in De Queen.

According to the De Queen Police Department, officers were dispatched to a De Queen trailer park on Oct. 18 after receiving a complaint about a man banging on doors at homes in the park. Upon arrival Officer Brady Haney was allegedly informed that the suspect was 28-year-old Roger Godoy of De Queen. Officers located Godoy soon after walking on the shoulder of Highway 71 North.

While speaking to Godoy, officers reportedly smelled the odor of alcohol on Godoy. He allegedly failed a breathalyzer test and was then placed into custody for public intoxication and transported to the Sevier County Jail.

That same evening, De Queen officers arrested a Broken Bow, Oklahoma woman for the offense of driving while intoxicated. Officers pulled over a vehicle speeding on Highway 70 West. The driver was identified as 33-year-old Jessica Janes of Broken Bow. Officers performed several field sobriety tests which Janes allegedly failed. She also reportedly refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. She was then cited for driving while intoxicated and transported to the Sevier County Jail. Janes was also charged with failure to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Sevier County Libraries to host Food for Fines and Sweater Drive next month     10/22/20

DE QUEEN – Sevier County residents who owe library fines will have a chance next month to pay those off while also helping local folks in need this holiday season. The Sevier County Library System will host its annual Food For Fines Month in November. During the entire month, patrons can bring in any nonperishable food item into any Sevier County Branch Library for a one-dollar reduction per item towards their existing overdue fines. Food accepted for fines is for returned library materials only, not for replacement fees of lost or damaged items.

During November, the library will also host a sweater drive as the colder weather arrives. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30, area residents are asked to bring any new or gently used sweaters, jackets, coats or other cold-weather clothing items to any library branch. These donations will be kept and distributed within each local community.

Gillham First Baptist Church Fall Festival is this Friday     10/22/20

GILLHAM – Gillham First Baptist Church will host its Fall Festival tomorrow night with events themed for the entire community.

The festival kicks off at 6 p.m. with a meal including some fall favorites like chili, soup, nachos and hot dogs. Bounce houses will be set up for children as well as games and a hayride. Volleyball games will be hosted inside the gym and a bonfire is scheduled for out back as part of the fun. The night will end with a cakewalk.

Bring out the whole family for a night of fun, food and fellowship.

Sevier County Election Commission sets two public meetings   10/22/20

DE QUEEN – Election officials in Sevier County are informing residents of two important meetings in relation to a very important election year.

This year’s election has been wrought with controversy, uncertainly and, no doubt, plenty of drama on the national level. Local election officials want to ensure Sevier County voters are comfortable with the effectiveness and transparency of the election process through a couple of public meetings.

The first is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. On that critical day, the Sevier County Election Commission will meet to canvass and tabulate votes for the General Election. Another meeting will be held several days after the election, on Nov. 9, to hold provisional ballot hearings. Provisional ballots are those cast by a registered voter whose name did not appear on the precinct voter registration list, or if they were unable to comply with identification requirements.

Provisional ballots are also open to you if your vote was challenged by a poll watcher. The hearing meeting is held to review returned provisional ballots. In most cases, according to the Arkansas Secretary of State, the election commission will mail a notice to the voter of whether or not their vote was counted. That provisional ballot hearing meeting will begin at 1 p.m.

This meeting and the aforementioned meeting on Nov. 3 will both be held in the conference room of the Sevier County Courthouse. Again, both meetings are open to the public.

Application period opens Nov. 1 for Arkansas anglers hoping to catch, keep trophy alligator gar     10/22/20

Submitted by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

The application period to catch and keep a trophy-size Arkansas alligator gar is just around the corner. Arkansas anglers can begin submitting applications Nov. 1. The application period will end Dec. 31. Only 100 tags will be awarded for the 2021 calendar year. This tag is required to harvest an alligator gar larger than 36 inches.

A 10-pound bass or 3-pound crappie might be a bucket-list catch for many Arkansas anglers, but their size pales in comparison to Arkansas’s largest fish species. Alligator gar are the second largest species of freshwater fish in North America. They frequently grow longer than 7 feet and weigh more than 200 pounds. The largest fish ever caught in Arkansas was an alligator gar in the nearby Red River that weighed 241 pounds, over 100 pounds more than the next largest Arkansas catch, a 118-pound paddlefish caught by James C. Johnson in Beaver Lake earlier this year. And those of us in Sevier County know there’s plenty of monster alligator gar in our area too.

But, if you plan on fishing for one, it’s important to know all alligator gar longer than 36 inches must be released immediately back to the water – unless you possess one of 100 alligator gar tags issued this year.

Eric Brinkman is the fisheries supervisor at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Hope Regional Office and lead biologist on the AGFC’s Alligator Gar Management Team. He has led the charge for research of this prehistoric fish species for 8 of his 12-year career. He has worked with alligator gar since 2005, studying them in graduate school.

Brinkman notes that alligator gar are a very long-lived species. He explains trophy-size gar can be 20 to 60 years old and are critical to the species’ survival. It takes more than a decade for females to become sexually mature and need protection so they may spawn the next generation.

Loss of spawning ground is one issue the alligator gar faces. With larger rivers being dammed and channelized for navigation and commerce, many of the species’ historical spawning areas have been altered. That’s made it impossible for some gar to produce offspring. Biologists work every year to identify remaining spawning areas and evaluate remaining populations of the fish.

Brinkman adds that alligator gar once held some status as an angling trophy in Arkansas, especially in the White River. But overharvest, combined with loss of spawning habitat and killing of gar by anglers who incorrectly labeled the species as a predator of sport fish, decimated that population. Biologists want to offer fishermen the opportunity to enjoy this resource, but also maintain a healthy population of the species where it still exists.

Anyone may fish for alligator gar on a catch-and-release basis, but anglers interested in keeping a trophy gar in 2021 must enter a free online drawing Nov. 1-Dec. 31 for one of 100 Alligator Gar Trophy tags. Applications are available under the “Fishing License” section of the AGFC’s website, agfc.com. The drawing will occur Jan. 2, 2021.

Applicants will be notified of the results by email. They will then need to return to the licensing site to claim their tag. Each tag allows the holder to harvest one alligator gar longer than 36 inches from snout to tail during the open fishing season. This season is open all year except between May 1 and July 15. An Alligator Gar Permit is no longer required for alligator gar fishing or to apply for an Alligator Gar Trophy Tag.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     10/22/20

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:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County increased by four over the past 24 hours to a total of 49. Total cases increased by 11 to 1,291 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported an additional death on Wednesday, raising the total to 38. Active positives did see a decrease, dropping by two to 17. Total cases grew by six to 426.

Howard County also reported an additional death on Wednesday. That raises the death toll in Howard County from COVID-19 to 14 since the pandemic began. Active positives however decreased by two to 24. Total cases grew by two to 546.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus continued a decrease after last week’s high mark, falling by five to 31. Total cases increased by just one to 341. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County active cases increased by nine on Wednesday to 203 – still the highest level of active COVID-19 in the region. Total cases increased by 23 to 1,557. Deaths remain at 37.

Across Arkansas, an additional 1,155 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday. Arkansas’ cumulative total is now 101,596 since the pandemic began. Deaths rose by 23 over the past 24 hours to 1,751. Active cases saw a net increase of 98, raising that figure to 8,520. Hospitalizations experienced a net decrease of one, leaving the total of Arkansans hospitalized due to COVID-19 at 636.

“Stick a Fork in Cancer” fundraiser tonight to benefit American Cancer Society; proceeds from meals at Ranch House Cafe to support research, supportive efforts    10/21/20
The full audio story is available here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Area residents will be able to enjoy a meal out while also supporting the battle against cancer through an American Cancer Society fundraiser in De Queen tonight.
Keisha McKinney, a cancer survivor and resident of De Queen, organized the fundraiser to support the cancer research organization and also to reinforce the fact that the fight against cancer continues – despite COVID-19.
McKinney spoke to us this week about the American Cancer Society and tonight’s fundraiser. She’s partnered with Ranch House Cafe in De Queen to help raise funds tonight for cancer research and support for cancer patients. Proceeds from meals sold between 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and the restaurant’s closing time will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
McKinney said it’s not just an opportunity to eat out tonight but also to support an important cause.
Every meal sold this afternoon and tonight will help the nationwide effort to beat cancer. And, in October, breast cancer is the traditional focus. Nearly 300,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, and it is the most common cancer diagnosed in women other than skin cancer. The American Cancer Society is committed to continue to be the largest funder of cancer research outside of the US government. Each day new therapies, treatment protocols, screening guidelines, and survivorship patterns are being developed through the $64 million invested in cancer research.
McKinney was not diagnosed with breast cancer but similar treatments helped her through her own battle with cancer. She’s now a 12-year survivor. She credits the American Cancer Society for much of that success and wants to ensure the organization is there for others who face similar challenges. McKinney said no group is better prepared in this effort than the American Cancer Society.
During the pandemic, the American Cancer Society has been hit like most non-profits and this year candidates like McKinney are challenged to continue to raise funds and bring awareness. Besides tonight’s fundraiser, McKinney is also hosting a freezer meal fundraiser, auctioning drawings by her toddler son, selling tshirts, and receiving online donations at tiny.cc/vipinkkeisha.
McKinney hopes tonight’s fundraiser will be a huge success and give local folks a chance to help in this important effort. Again, from 2 p.m. until closing time tonight, proceeds from meals sold at Ranch House Cafe in De Queen – whether dine-in or take-out – will be donated to the American Cancer Society and its research and supportive efforts.
In addition to funding cancer research, the American Cancer Society provides transportation grants, hotel partnerships, a patient hotline that is available 24/7 at 800-227-2345 and trusted information anytime at cancer.org.

For more information about breast cancer or the VIPinks campaign in Arkansas, call 1-800-227-2345.

Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band receives first division ratings    10/21/20

Submitted by Ronda Pounds of Ashdown Public Schools

Members of the Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band enter the field for the annual Region II assessment. The three regional judges recognized the band with first division ratings.

The Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band received first division ratings on Tuesday during the 2020 Arkansas Region II Marching Band Assessment.

In traditional years, marching bands from across the state would convene for the judging competition. With COVID-19 precautions and guidelines still in place, however, this year looked a little different. Instead of marching bands traveling to their regional assessment, the assessment came to them. Three judges traveled to Dick Hays Stadium yesterday for an 8:45 a.m. competition time.

The Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band performed their halftime show of “Hey Baby,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” and “I Want You Back.” The band performed not just before the regional assessment team, but also fellow students, staff, school board members and parents.

Following the performance, the band was notified they had received first division ratings from all three judges. School officials and band members said they couldn’t be prouder of the recognition, especially given the challenging precautions regulating school marching bands this year.

The Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band is under the direction this year of Arial Shumake. Directors are Mark Pounds, Tim Avery and Nick Palmisano.

Area youth livestock exhibitors taking home some big wins at State Fair    10/21/20

LITTLE ROCK – Local youth exhibitors are continuing to bring home wins while attending the 2020 Arkansas State Fair Livestock Show in Little Rock.

Winners in the Non-Brahman Influenced Breeding Beef divisions were announced on Tuesday with a number of area youth earning champion titles.

Jacey Whisenhunt of Grannis showed the Grand Champion AOB Female.

Kix Lee took home an award for showing the Grand Champion Charolais Female at the same event. Lee also received first place in the Junior Beef Showmanship competition on Oct. 18.

Brylee Frachiseur of Gillham showed the Grand Champion Mainetainer Female.

Autumn Frachiseur of Grannis showed the Reserve Champion Percentage Simmental Bull.

The Reserve Champion Simmental Bull was shown by Lucas Allen of Dierks.

Other area youth exhibitors who’re taking home awards this year include Lyndon Youngblood of Ashdown. He received the title of Grand Champion Senior Market Hog Showman.

Although almost all state fair events have been cancelled, state officials gave the livestock show clearance to proceed this year. However, attendance by the general public is not allowed and competitors’ family members are limited in number to help maintain social distancing.

The Arkansas State Fair continues in Little Rock through Oct. 24.

De Queen Rotary Club welcomes Jason Sanders, Jacob Bunyard as new members    10/21/20

New Member – Jacob Bunyard was inducted as a new member of the De Queen Rotary Club at Monday’s noon meeting. Jacob is the Financial Compliance Officer and Accountant at First State Bank. His sponsor is Greg Revels.
New Member – Jason Sanders was inducted as a new member of the De Queen Rotary Club at Monday’s noon meeting. Jason is the Superintendent at De Queen Public Schools. His sponsor is ZZ Kamruddin.

New grant program offers financial assistant to Arkansas small businesses    10/21/20

LITTLE ROCK – A new grant program aims to financially assist businesses in Arkansas impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency.

The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration received approval this week to proceed with a grant program using $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in affected industries.

Yesterday morning, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved a business interruption grant for certain Arkansas businesses in the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. The grant will provide reimbursement for a portion of specific eligible expenses incurred by businesses in these industries between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020.

The grant application period will open Monday, Nov. 16, and close Wednesday, Nov. 25. Grants will be awarded on a prorated basis depending on the total number of applicants and the amount of reimbursement requested. The program anticipates making grant awards in late December.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the grant will help businesses that were disrupted by the precautions necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Arkansas small businesses having 250, or fewer, full-time employees located in Arkansas may seek reimbursement for expenses associated with COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The grant also provides assistance for some business interruption expenses due directly to local, state or federal government COVID-19 directives.

Information will be regularly posted to www.ArkansasReady.com about the grant, the application period, training and a help line.

Updates for this Friday’s football games in De Queen, Ashdown and Horatio   10/21/20

This Friday’s football game between the Horatio Lions and Genoa Central has been cancelled. Officials with the Horatio School District cited COVID-19-related concerns as Genoa Central’s cause for the cancellation. Horatio will now face Camden Harmony Grove instead this Friday night.

Tickets for the De Queen Leopards football game against Hot Springs Lakeside this Friday are now on sale at the De Queen administration office. Tickets will be on sale through Friday morning. There are 200 tickets available and the cost is $5 each. No tickets will be sold at the game on Friday, therefore Leopards fans must purchase them prior to arrival.

Tickets for the Ashdown Panthers Senior High home game against Arkadelphia on Friday, October 23 will go on sale to the general public beginning at 8 a.m. today. Tickets can be purchased at the Ashdown Administration Building.

Lockesburg VFD hosting gun raffle fundraiser in lieu of event    10/21/20

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg Fire Department is hosting a gun raffle to help raise funds for its firefighting and emergency response duties. Lockesburg firefighters are currently selling chances for a Weatherby Vanguard 6.5 Creedmoor rifle with a Leupold scope. Tickets are $5 each. Proceeds will go towards upkeep of the department’s rescue truck and rural firefighting unit. Contact any Lockesburg firefighter to purchase a ticket. The drawing will be held Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. in the fire station. You do not need to be present to win.

The gun raffle will be held in lieu of the department’s annual fundraising event. That has been cancelled, the department announced, due to COVID-19. Any and all donations are greatly welcomed, however. For more information or to donate, call (870) 200-3057.

Ashdown Elementary offering Tuesday night tutoring, family night    10/21/20

ASHDOWN – Ashdown Elementary School is offering Tuesday night tutoring for its students. Sessions are available each Tuesday night from 4-6 p.m. in the Ashdown Elementary Library, now located in the C.D. Franks Building. Call (870) 898-3711 to set up an appointment for your child.

Monday night is Family Night Library and Tutoring at Ashdown Elementary School. Sessions are held each Monday from 4-6 p.m. in the Ashdown Elementary School Library. Parents and families are asked to look for the sign on the middle door of the bus drive and ring the bell for entrance.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    10/21/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County saw a small increase over the past 24 hours, raising by two to 45. Total cases grew slightly as well to 1,280. Deaths remain at 16. Overall, 1,219 Sevier County residents have caught COVID-19 and recovered since the pandemic began.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two additional deaths over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 37. The county saw no increase or decrease in active cases, which remain at 19. Total cases increased by three to 420.

Howard County active cases decreased by one to 26 while total cases remained at 544. Deaths did not increase and remain at 13.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus decreased by four to 36. Total cases did not change and remain at 340. Deaths total four since the start of the pandemic.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County active cases increased by four on Tuesday to 198. Total cases increased by 12 to 1,546. Deaths remained at 37.

Early voting kicks off in Arkansas; absentee voting still available    10/20/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Sevier County voters line up this morning to cast their ballot on the first day of early voting in Arkansas. Early voting continues the next two weeks in Sevier County at the Community Building in the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen. The polling location is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday thru Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturdays before the Nov. 3 election.

Early voting kicked off yesterday across Arkansas. Locally, the first day of early voting began smoothly even with bigger than normal crowds lining up to cast their ballot. De Queen’s early voting location saw some lines but for the most part the process was quick and easy. Although numbers from the first day of early voting in Sevier County weren’t immediately available, election officials said it was easily one of the busiest in memory.
Voters casting their ballots early in Sevier County likely noticed some changes from previous elections. Six-foot markers were in place to help ensure CDC-required social distancing. Election workers donned masks and other personal protective equipment. Free, disposable styluses were handed out to each voter to make sure no one had to personally touch anything. Although masks are not required, almost no one entered the polling location without one on their face.
Early voting will continue in Sevier County through Nov. 2 at the Herman Dierks Park Community Building in De Queen. The location is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekday and, for the convenience of voters, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday’s before the election.
Little River County residents can cast their early vote at the Little River County Election Center located at 349 North Third Street in Ashdown. Early voting for citizens of Little River County is also available at the Foreman Community Center at 200 Shuman Street in Foreman.
Both locations are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The center is also open both Saturdays before the election from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Early voting continues through Monday, Nov. 2.
Election day itself will be Nov. 3.
Although early voting is now underway, Arkansans who’d rather skip in-person voting can still request an absentee ballot. A statewide executive order issued by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the summer authorizes every Arkansan to vote absentee this year. Before requesting an absentee ballot, however, you must complete an absentee ballot application. These can be found at your county clerk’s office or on the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website at sos.Arkansas.gov.
The request must then be turned in to your local county clerk’s office. Although the deadline to request a ballot by mail is Tuesday, Oct. 27, you should begin the process as far in advance of the election as possible. The ballot must be received via mail by 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. If submitting your absentee ballot in person, you must do so by close of business on Nov. 2, the day before the election.
Election officials are reminding voters who choose to mail in their ballot that they are required to cover the postage fee. The cost to mail back your ballot in the provided envelop is $1.40.
Voters seeking additional information are welcome to call their county clerk’s office. In Sevier County, that number is (870) 642-2852. In Little River County, call (870) 898-7210. Howard County residents can call (870) 845-7502 and, in Polk County, (479) 394-8123.
Groundbreaking ceremony for new area hospital scheduled for Nov. 6    10/20/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Officials behind the effort to build a new area hospital are gearing up for next month’s groundbreaking ceremony.
Construction on the Sevier County Medical Center will be officially inaugurated on Nov. 6. The event, which is open to the public, will begin at 11 a.m. at the construction site several miles north of De Queen on Highway 71. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be rescheduled to Nov. 9.
Hospital officials are reaching out to a number of dignitaries as well as local and state elected officials to attend the event.
The ceremony will officially mark the start of construction for Sevier County’s new hospital. In effect, this event will mark history in the making for the area, given the lack of a viable hospital in Sevier County since the closure of the De Queen hospital last year. Last year’s closure of the hospital marked the end of 20 years of private hospital ownership in the county. The hospital’s former owner, Jorge Perez, is facing a host of fraud-related charges from his involvement in hospitals ranging from De Queen to Florida to New York.
The board overseeing Sevier County’s new hospital hope to leave that troubled history behind as they prep for the new, county-owned medical facility.
As part of this effort, officials behind the Sevier County Medical Center recently marked one other advancement – the creation of the hospital’s mission statement. That reads as follows, “Sevier County Medical Center will seek to perfect the entire health care experience while exhibiting professionalism, integrity and compassion.”
Officials said the mission statement details the new hospital’s ultimate goal while also remaining inclusive to all area residents and not just those from Sevier County.
Officials are also prepping for another important upcoming date – Oct. 22, when funds raised through the hospital’s bond sales will official reach the county. Once these are received the hospital will have the money it needs to begin and complete construction. That is expected to take place shortly after next month’s groundbreaking ceremony.
Deadline nears for AGFC Wildlife Fines Grant Program; thousands of dollars available for local educators, groups for youth outdoors, conservation activities   10/20/20
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas Economic Development Commission have extended the deadline for educators to apply for free money to help teach conservation education in Arkansas. Interested schools and educators can apply for more than $735,000 in education grants by Oct. 22, 2020.
More information on the program, a link to the application site and a county-by-county list of grant money are available at www.agfc.com/conservationgrants.
There is nearly $3,700 available in grant money in Sevier County, over $5,100 in Polk, $5,600 in Howard and $4,500 in Little River County.
The money for the grants comes from fines collected for wildlife violations in each Arkansas county. The money collected by courts is sent to the AEDC and earmarked for conservation education programs. Qualifying grant programs include Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program, Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, Fishing in the Natural State, the Schoolyard Habitat Program, Stream Teams and other educational programs that introduce youth to natural resources. Reimbursement for field trip expenses to AGFC nature and education centers, hatcheries and other field experiences also may qualify for grants.
These grants have funded a variety of youth shooting sports and conservation activities and programs in the listening area.
Area residents invited to participate in Day-to-Day Living with Diabetes webinars    10/20/20
The end-of-the-year holidays are just around the corner, along with all the tempting food — from Halloween candy to Thanksgiving pies to Christmas cookies. With all this high-fructose cheer, maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult, especially for people with diabetes.
The Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is offering an eight-week online program to help area residents do just that. The program, titled Day to Day with Diabetes, offers resources in health, wellness, nutrition and fitness for people living with diabetes. The next group will meet Oct. 26 through Dec. 18, just in time for the holidays and for November’s Diabetes Awareness Month.

Agents with the Cooperative Extension Service say Day to Day with Diabetes offers a place for people to connect with others with similar goals and to share strategies that work for them.

Weekly virtual meetings will be offered each Monday during the lunch hour through Facebook Live and Zoom, with additional resources posted throughout the week. Participation is free, and registration is through the group’s Facebook page,at facebook.com/groups/DaytoDaywith Diabetes

Nearly 15 percent of Arkansans — about 360,000 people — have diabetes, and 800,000 more residents have pre-diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association’s Arkansas Chapter.

Extension also offers year-round diabetes prevention education as well as a four-week Living with Diabetes education curriculum through its Family and Consumer Sciences Division. For more information, call (479) 495-2216 or email rlchaney@uaex.edu

Walmart announces no traditional Black Friday sales event this year    10/20/20

Walmart says it will spread out its traditional one-day Black Friday deals over three weekends in November in an effort to reduce crowds in its stores during a pandemic.

The nation’s largest retailer said this month that more of its doorbuster deals will be reserved for online, as a way to steer more shoppers away from its stores.

The store will kick off the deals online Nov. 4, with new deals in stores on Nov. 7. The second event will begin online Nov. 11, followed by a similar sales event in stores Nov. 14. It will wrap up its discounts online Nov. 25 with new discounts in stores Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional Black Friday.

Walmart said it will go back to limiting the number of customers inside its stores to 20% of the store’s capacity during the three big store events, as it had during the early phase of the pandemic. The stores will open at 5 a.m. during the three Black Friday events. It said customers will form a single line to enter the store. And workers will hand out sanitized shopping carts to customers. There will be so-called Health Ambassadors placed at entrances to greet customers and remind them to put on a mask.

For the first time, the discounter will also offer shoppers curbside pickup at its stores for Black Friday orders.

Poultry industry sees modest recovery, but faces uphill slog through 2021    10/20/20

Submitted by UofA Extension Service

FAYETTEVILLE — The poultry industry, battered on multiple fronts by the COVID pandemic, is making modest gains, but recovery into 2021 may be its slowest in nearly a decade.

In looking at the Oct.14 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Projections for the Broiler Industry, economist John Anderson noted that there were more complex factors at play than simple supply and demand.

Anderson is head of the agricultural economics and agribusiness department for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural Food and Life Sciences. He has been providing pandemic-related analyses of the economy since March.

“These factors include the supply-side effects of changes in production and processing operations in response to COVID-19 as well as demand-side effects related to the economic disruptions resulting from COVID-19,” he said, adding that these included “continued sluggish demand from the food service sector.”

Anderson said the price impacts of the pandemic were probably even more significant for the broiler industry than the production disruptions. In 2019, broiler wholesale prices averaged 88.6 cents per pound according to the WASDE report.

“At the beginning of 2020, expectations were for prices to slip around 2 percent in the face of increasing production, he said. “As the pandemic unfolded, though, price expectations deteriorated dramatically. The latest WASDE report projects a 2020 average broiler price of 70.8 cents per pound, a decline of about 20 percent compared to the prior year.”

On a positive note, broiler production has rebounded since June, and Anderson said expectations for 2020 production have stabilized at about 1.5 percent above last year’s production.

“It is remarkable that the industry appears set to manage a modest increase in production given the magnitude of the 2020 market shock,” he said. “Still, current expectations are over 3 percent lower than in March, illustrating the significant negative impact of the pandemic on the supply side of the market.”

Current expectations as reflected in October WASDE projections are for a relatively slow recovery for the sector. The current projection for 2021 production is 45.06 billion pounds, which is up 1 percent from 2020, and an average wholesale price of 79 cents per pound, up 12 percent from last year.

“This works out to an expected wholesale value of production of $35.6 billion: a significant recovery from 2020 but still 8.5 percent below 2019,” he said.

“If current projections hold, 2020-2021will witness the slowest two-year growth in broiler production since 2012-2013, when the industry faced record-breaking corn prices,” Anderson said.

Find Anderson’s WASDE analysis here: https://bit.ly/3k4XmXr.

Find other COVID-related economic analyses at https://bit.ly/AR-Ag-Eco-Impacts2020.

To learn about extension and research programs in Arkansas, visit https://division.uaex.edu/

Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk, @uaex_edu or @ArkAgResearch.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    10/20/20

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:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County declined by one yesterday to 43. Total cases increased by three to 1,274 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported an additional active case of COVID-19 on Monday, raising the total to 19. Total cases increased by four to 417. Deaths remain at 35.

Howard County active cases increased by one to 27 while total cases rose by five to 544. Deaths remain at 13.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus decreased by four to 40. Total cases did not change and remain at 342. Deaths total four since the start of the pandemic.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County active cases decreased by 15 on Monday to 194 – still the highest level of active COVID-19 in the region. Total cases increased by four to 1,534. Deaths remained at 37.

Across Arkansas, an additional 531 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Monday. Arkansas’ cumulative total is now 99,597 since the pandemic began. Deaths rose by 10 over the past 24 hours to 1,714. Active cases saw a net decrease of 246 cases, dropping that figure to 8,658. Hospitalizations increased by a net total of 41 and now number 613 across the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is expected to provide his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday afternoon. We’ll be bring you more on that story as well as any other developments locally and across the state.

Early voting starts today across Arkansas    10/19/20

DE QUEEN – Early voting begins today across Arkansas.
The early voting period is held the two weeks before the general election. For Sevier County voters, they can begin voting next Monday at the De Queen Community building located in the Herman Dierks Park.
The early voting location will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. For the convenience of voters, the community building will be open both Saturdays before the election from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Election day itself will be Nov. 3.
The deadline to register as a first time voter has passed, but Arkansas residents who’ve moved to a different county since the last election have until Oct. 30 to update their voter registration.
Election officials are reminding voters of certain electioneering guidelines and laws. State election law prohibits voters from wearing campaign t-shirts, caps or buttons when entering a polling location. Voters who wear items displaying campaign material will be asked to remedy the situation before voting.
In addition, all campaign type material must be at least one hundred feet from the entrance to a polling place. This includes bumper stickers and campaign signs on vehicles.
The Sevier County Clerk’s Office and the Sevier County Election Commission is informing voters that election officials are ensuring this year’s election will be not just a smooth process for voters, but a safe one as well.
A number of protective measures will be in place with everyone’s health and voting rights in mind. Poll workers will wear masks and shields to protect themselves and voters. No-contact procedures are in place for the comfort of all voters.
Voting equipment will be sanitized frequently and six-foot markers will be placed to ensure CDC social distancing. Doorkeepers will be located at each polling place with a quick, voluntary questionnaire to determine COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.
A separate voting machine will be installed at each polling place for anyone who feels ill on election day. Voters will be asked, but not required, to wear face coverings.
The Sevier County Clerk’s Office stresses that no one will be discouraged from voting on Nov. 3.
Sevier County voters seeking additional information are welcome to contact the County Clerk’s office at 642-2852.
Little River County early voting info
Little River County Clerk Deanna Sivley reminds Little River County residents they can now cast their early vote at the Little River County Election Center located at 349 North Third Street in Ashdown. Early voting for citizens of Little River County is also available at the Foreman Community Center at 200 Shuman Street in Foreman.
Both locations are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the convenience of voters, the center is also open both Saturdays before the election from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Early voting continues through Monday, Nov. 2.
Sevier voters to decide several local issues   10/19/20
DE QUEEN – Local residents who begin casting their in-person ballots today are reminded they will have several local issues to decide.
That includes whether or not to permit the sale of alcohol in Sevier County. The wet/dry measure made it to the ballot after organizers behind the effort collected more than the minimum amount of needed signatures earlier this year.
If the measure passes, alcohol sales will be permitted in Sevier County for the first time since Prohibition began in the 1920s. The measure would allow for a limited number of alcohol stores in the county, and allow restaurants to apply for licenses to serve alcohol on their premises.
The wet/dry issue will be open for all Sevier County voters to decide.
Other local elections include a race for the Ward 2, Position 1 seat on the De Queen City Council. Lee Ann Pitchford has challenged incumbent Teresa Bunyard for the position.
Voters within the Gillham city limits will decide a proposed one-percent local sales and use tax.
In Howard County, voters within the Dierks School District boundaries will also vote on continuing the current millage rate of 43 mills for district funding. The extension does not increase the current millage rate. The requested rate of 43 mills represents the same rate presently being collected.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month   10/19/20
October is breast cancer awareness month. This is an opportunity to remind Arkansans of the importance of mammograms for early detection and lifestyle changes that could help prevent cancer.
Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat, and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.
It is important to still get checked for breast cancer regularly, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. As long as you’re not feeling sick or having any COVID-19 symptoms, experts say it’s safe to get a mammogram.
In 2017, there were 2,163 new breast cancer cases and 414 cancer deaths in the state. However, Arkansas is ranked as one of the lowest states (37th) for breast cancer screening, according to the CDC Wonder (2018).
Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.
Only about 5–10 percent of breast cancers are believed to be hereditary, meaning they’re caused by abnormal changes in certain genes passed from parent to child.
The vast majority of people who get breast cancer have no family history, suggesting that other factors must be at work, such as environment and lifestyle.

If you are uninsured or underinsured, you may qualify for a free or low-cost mammogram through the Arkansas BreastCare program.

BreastCare’s mission is to increase the rate of early detection of breast and cervical cancer and reduce the morbidity and mortality rates among women in Arkansas by lowering barriers to screening that result from lack of information, financial means, or access to quality services.

It is funded by the Arkansas Department of Health with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Arkansas Tobacco Excise Tax.

For more information, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

And join us Tuesday morning at 8:15 here on KDQN when we speak with Keisha McKinney. Keisha, who lives in De Queen and is a 12-year breast cancer survivor, is an inaugural member of the VIPinks campaign in Arkansas. She and nine other women in Arkansas are leading the awareness campaign in regards to breast cancer. Keisha will join us to speak about the campaign, its mission and how the broader community can become involved.

Gillham youth exhibitor wins competition at Arkansas State Fair   10/19/20

LITTLE ROCK – A Gillham youth livestock exhibitor will take home a big win following a competition at the Arkansas State Fair.

Kix Lee of Gillham received first place in the Junior Beef Showmanship competition at the state fair in Little Rock. The competition was held on Oct. 18.

The state fair continues through Oct. 24 at the state fairgrounds in Little Rock.

Competitors qualified for the State Fair field at county and/or regional events. In the case of pageants and talent, many also had a virtual component to their 2020 State Fair competition experience.

Organizers say the state fair’s number one priority is to put public health and safety above all other considerations. Organizers have implemented stringent safeguards and protocols for these events, including social distancing, wearing masks, limiting attendees and spacing of events to allow for thorough cleaning of required buildings.

State Fair administration has developed an extensive logistics plan to limit the number of people and animals on the grounds at any given time.

Attendance by the general public is not allowed and competitors’ family members are limited in number to help maintain social distancing. Masks are required in all areas and strict cleanliness in barns and competition areas will be observed.

Horatio business receives grant through Arkansas Meat Processor Program   10/19/20

HORATIO – A Horatio business was one of 31 facilities across the state to receive funding through the Arkansas Meat and Poultry Processing Grant Program.

The program was approved and provided funding of $10.4 million through the federal CARES Act.

The 31 facilities selected to receive funding through this program includes Prime Country Meats of Horatio.

Recipients of this funding will help address the lack of local, small-scale meat processing capacity in Arkansas during the COVID-19 related disruptions. Expanded processing capacity will build resiliency within the industry and benefit producers, consumers, and Arkansas rural communities, according to Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.

Collectively, the applicants receiving awards anticipate increasing processing capacity throughout the state by over 2,000 head of cattle, 850 hogs, 7,400 poultry, and eight goats and sheep per month.  The applicants also anticipate maintaining 258 full-time positions and 75 part-time positions.  Recipients will also provide additional further processing and value-added capacity and assist with education and workforce development.

Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation in the value of animals and animal products. Overall, this sector provides more than $5.6 billion to the state’s economy annually. In the 2019 production year, Arkansas was ranked 10th in the nation in beef cow inventory and 25th in the nation in cattle and calves with 510,641,000 pounds of production.

For more information on this program and what it seeks to accomplish, visit  agriculture.arkansas.gov.

Blood drive in Dierks today  10/19/20

DIERKS – LifeShare Blood Center will host a blood drive in Dierks today from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Dierks Community Building Room102. LifeShare issued a third emergency appeal this month in hopes of alleviating a region-wide blood supply shortage. All donors are welcomed and all blood types greatly needed. For more information on other LifeShare events, visit lifeshare.org or text “donate” to 999-777 to receive text updates.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Little River County reports six additional deaths over weekend   10/19/20

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:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County saw a net increase of 22 over the weekend, raising the total to 44. That’s the highest figure since early September and suggest, like many other locations in the country, that cases are again on the rise. Over the weekend total confirmed cases grew to 1,271. State health officials adjusted back Sevier County’s death toll by three to 16. This is likely due to the determination that those three deaths were the result of other causes.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported an additional six deaths on Saturday. That raises the county’s death toll due to COVID-19 to 35 – the highest in Southwest Arkansas. Active cases in Little River County did see a net decrease of four over the weekend and now number 18. Overall cases number 413 since the start of the pandemic.

Howard County active cases increased by five over the weekend to 26 currently. Total confirmed cases rose by seven to 539. Deaths increased by one to 13.

In Polk County, active cases increased by six to 44 over the weekend. Total cases grew by 17 to 342. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County Active cases grew by 31 over the weekend to 209 currently. Total confirmed cases rose by 56 to 1,530. Deaths remained at 37.

Across Arkansas, an additional 644 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Sunday. Arkansas’ cumulative total is now 99,066. Deaths rose by 20 over the past 24 hours to 1,704. Active cases saw a net increase of 94 cases, raising the total to 8,904. Hospitalizations grew by four to 572.

Health officials still stressing need for Arkansans to receive flu shot this year  10/19/20

Local and state health officials are spreading the message to Arkansans that shouldn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic distract them from a more familiar fall and winter foe: Influenza.

Getting vaccinated against flu is more important now than ever, especially given the rise in COVID-19 cases in the area in recent days. The flu vaccine can keep you from getting the flu, make the flu less severe if you do get it, and keep you from spreading flu to your family and friends.

Flu vaccines are available at the local Arkansas Department of Health units.

The Arkansas Department of Health does not charge out-of-pocket costs for a flu shot and does not require insurance for receiving a flu shot, but you are encouraged to bring insurance information if you have it.

Arkansans may obtain a flu vaccine through their employer’s health insurance program, doctor’s office or local pharmacy. Many area public schools are also offering mass flu clinics throughout the flu season.

Horatio VFD’s “Screams of the Night” haunted house kicks off tonight    10/16/20
Get ready for a night of thrills, scares and screams with the “Screams of the Night” Haunted House in Horatio. The haunted house kicks off this Friday and Saturday nights but will be held again Oct. 23, 24, 30 and 31. The event, which is billed as the biggest haunted house in the Ark-La-Tex area, is open nightly from 7 p.m. to midnight. The haunted house is located at the intersection of Highway 24 and Highway 41 on 120 Headstream Road.

“Screams of the Night” is hosted annually by the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department. This is the fire department’s seventh year to put on the production. In previous years the event featured concessions, an indoor waiting area in case of rain, outdoor fire pits to keep visitors warm and waiting areas for family members too scared to enter. The haunted house includes around 40 rooms with character actors inside sure to give visitors the fright of a lifetime. Cost is $10 per adult and $5 for kids 10 and under.
Proceeds benefit the volunteer fire department and its mission in the community. In previous years money raised through the haunted house was used to towards a new fire engine for the city and free smoke alarms for residents who don’t have one. Money raised has also been used to provide needed supplies for residents who lost their home due to a fire.
For more information visit the Horatio Fire Department’s Facebook page.
Agriculture Secretary discusses new Arkansas Feral Hog Handbook    10/16/20
The full audio interview is available here:

Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

They’re mean. They’re nasty. And they destroy just about anything, just about anywhere they’re at. If that description conjures up the image of a feral hog, you’ve certainly been paying attention.
Well, so apparently have state officials in Arkansas.
It’s hard not to notice these widespread and highly destructive creatures. Feral hogs cause over $19 million in damages each year in Arkansas alone. They pose a threat to native species, especially groundnesting birds. They also present a significant risk to human and livestock health through the diseases they carry. Altogether, feral hogs are becoming a problem no one can miss.
Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward is one of the leaders behind a multi-agency effort to tackle this increasingly widespread problem. The first step in any battle is knowing your enemy. That’s why, in hopes of lending Arkansans a hand in this fight, the Department of Agriculture recently released its newly created Arkansas Feral Hog Handbook. The handbook is described as a guide to assist Arkansans in controlling and hopefully eradicating feral hog populations in their areas. Secretary Ward joined us earlier this week to detail the problems these animals pose and let Arkansans know how state and national programs can help.
The handbook includes contact information, websites, and brief explanations of the resources offered by state and federal agencies and other entities. The handbook details the economic damages caused by feral hogs in Arkansas as well as the danger they pose to humans and livestock. Feral hogs aren’t clean animals by any stretch of the imagination and Ward said they can be widespread vectors for disease.

The handbook is part of an increasing effort to tackle Arkansas’ hog problem alongside multiple agencies and partners across the state. Ward said part of the path to victory is lettingg Arkansans know they’re not alone in the fight.

The handbooks are being distributed to the public at locations throughout the state, including Farm Bureau offices, the Cooperative Extension Service and Arkansas Game and Fish nature centers. Copies of the handbook can also be found online at the Department of Agriculture’s website, agriculture.arkansas.gov
AGFC approves new fishing regulations   10/16/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Anglers across the state can expect some changes, both big and small, to the way they go fishing, starting next year.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved over a dozen new regulations or changes to existing regulations during a meeting on Thursday.
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.
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.

The new regulations will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
Search continues for two suspects in murder of Ashdown man   10/16/20
ASHDOWN – Ashdown police are still hoping they’ll get a tip from the community on the whereabouts of two Little River County residents suspected of shooting and killing an Ashdown man last week. So far, both suspects remain at large.
According to the Ashdown Police Department, Cheleka Johnson and Corey Garfield are both wanted for their alleged involvement in the death of 48-year-old Ashdown man on Oct. 6. Felony arrest warrants have been issued for both Johnson and Garfield on the charge of first-degree murder. Both suspects are considered armed and dangerous.
The man they are suspected of shooting was treated on the scene by police but died later at an area hospital.
Investigators announced Johnson and Garfield as suspects following an investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Zane Butler at (903) 276-6370 or Little River County Dispatch at (870) 898-5115.
Again, both suspects are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone who has seen these suspects or know of their whereabouts should contact authorities immediately.
Ashdown High School Homecoming scheduled for Nov. 6   10/16/20
ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School has announced it will host the annual Homecoming ceremonies on Friday, Nov. 6. During this event the district and community will celebrate Ashdown senior maids and football players.
For the week leading up to Friday, Nov. 6, students at all campuses can participate in “dress up” days to fit the 2020 theme of “Tune In To Panther TV“.
Starting at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, the senior maids and senior football players will caravan through Ashdown and proceed back to AHS. Community members are able to line the route, but are asked that social distancing be observed in order to follow the Arkansas Department of Health Guidelines and keep this a safe event for all involved.
The evening coronation will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Dick Hays Stadium. In order to attend, you must purchase a ticket in the Administration Building starting Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 8 a.m. Tickets will be on sale until sold out. District officials said they are still mandated to follow outdoor venue guidelines, so there will only be a limited number of tickets available. The coronation will be live-streamed for those unable to attend. At a later date, more information will be provided on how to view the live stream. Kick-off for the Homecoming game will be at 7 p.m. vs. Fountain Lake High School.
In the event of rain, the coronation will be moved into the gym, and the senior maids and senior players will receive tickets to give out.
District officials note that masks and social distancing are required at all school events.
The 2020 Ashdown Homecoming Court includes Makhia Cook, Chelbi Gathright, Blaire Gentry, Aleya Hill, Ashlynn Johnston, Amy Newton, Ansleigh Patrick, Porsha Randle, Railee Schmidt, Vonee Thomas, Keely Turner and Emma Wrinkle.
No new virtual students at Horatio Schools after Oct. 20   10/16/20
HORATIO – Horatio Public Schools announced that beginning next week, students will no longer be able to choose the district’s virtual learning option. The change takes place Oct. 20 and continues through the end of the current semester. District officials said this change will not affect students already enrolled in Horatio’s Virtual Academy. All virtual students, however, we still be allowed to return to onsite instruction if they choose.
ADH updates latest COVID-19 figures   10/16/20

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:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County rose by a single case over the past 24 hours to total 22 currently. Overall confirmed cases grew by six to 1,246. Deaths remain at 19.

In neighboring counties, active cases in Little River County decreased by one to 22. Total confirmed cases rose by two to 404. Deaths remain at 29.

Howard County active cases decreased by six to 21. Total confirmed cases rose by five to 532. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases increased by one to 38. Total cases grew by six to 325. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County Active cases fell by five to 178. Total confirmed cases rose by 10 to 1,474. Deaths remained at 37.

Across Arkansas, an additional 1,278 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Thursday. That marks the highest single day growth in new cases since the pandemic began. Arkansas’ cumulative total is now 96,524. Deaths rose by 11 to 1,645. Active cases saw a net increase of 417 cases, raising the total to 8,424. Hospitalizations grew by seven to 594.

Hundreds if not thousands of COVID-19 antigen tests will be making their way into area schools in the coming days and weeks.

Rapid COVID-19 antigen tests coming to area schools   10/16/20

LITTLE ROCK – Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday the state had received the first 100,000 of nearly a million antigen tests destined for Arkansas this fall. The tests are being delivered to states across the nation as part of a testing effort through the White House.

According to Hutchinson, 55 percent of the tests coming to Arkansas will go to Arkansas schools. These tests he said will be used to screen teachers and staff on a weekly basis. Hutchinson highlighted the flexibility of the tests given their ability to show results in as few as 15 minutes. The ramped up testing effort will also provide officials with the means to respond faster and more efficiently to outbreaks across Arkansas.

Of the 900,000 tests making their way to Arkansas, 20 percent will go to the Department of Corrections for visitors and employees. This is inline with the governor’s announcement that visitations would proceed again at state correctional facilities. The remaining tests will be distributed to the Department of Human Services and healthcare workers across the state. Around 50,000 tests are expected to arrive in Arkansas each week through December.

Election workers in Arkansas are also receiving priority for rapid tests through local health departments.

Today is last day to pay personal, real property taxes in Arkansas    10/15/20
DE QUEEN – Area residents are reminded that today marks several important, and unfortunately tax-related, deadlines.
Today is the last day for residents and property owners throughout Arkansas to pay their personal and real property taxes without facing a 10 percent penalty. It’s the last day but collector’s offices across the state are hoping to make the process easy and convenient.

For instance, the Sevier County Tax Collector’s Office is open today until 6 p.m. to collect taxes from anyone who has not yet paid. Taxpayers in Sevier County should be aware that they can now pay their taxes online for the first time ever at tax.countyservice.net/sevier
The Sevier County Collector’s office will be closed Oct. 16 through Oct. 22 in order to prepare the delinquent tax list. The office will return to normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. after Oct. 22. The tax collector’s office is located in the Sevier County Courthouse. Visitors to the courthouse are required to wear a face covering.
Again, Sheriff Robert Gentry reminds taxpayers they have the option to avoid the line and a special trip by paying online at tax.countyservice.net/sevier
Little River County Sheriff and Collector Bobby Walraven is reminding Little River County residents that today is their last day to pay personal and property taxes without a 10 percent penalty. Save time and pay online by visiting Arkansas.gov and choose the online services tab. Taxpayers and also mail in personal checks or pay in person at the Little River County Courthouse. Visitors are asked to enter through the courthouse front door. The collector’s office will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Finally, the October 15 filing deadline is here for taxpayers who requested an extension to file their 2019 tax return. There are tools available at IRS.gov to help people with their taxes: Taxpayers can file their tax return electronically for free through IRS Free FileOther electronic filing options include using a free tax return preparation site, commercial software or an authorized e-file provider.
If an extension filer owes taxes, they should pay as much as possible by the Oct. 15 deadline to reduce interest and penalties. IRS Direct Pay allows individuals to securely pay from their checking or savings accounts. Visit IRS.gov foradditional payment options.
Get ready for a night of terror with Horatio Haunted House fundraiser    10/15/20
HORATIO – Get ready for a night of thrills, scares and screams with the “Screams of the Night” Haunted House in Horatio. The haunted house kicks off this Friday and Saturday nights but will be held again Oct. 23, 24, 30 and 31. The event, which is billed as the biggest haunted house in the Ark-La-Tex area, is open nightly from 7 p.m. to midnight. The haunted house is located at the intersection of Highway 24 and Highway 41 on 120 Headstream Road.
“Screams of the Night” is hosted annually by the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department. This is the

Delores Mooneyham & Johnny Bivins say the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department is ready for “Screams in the Night”

fire department’s seventh year to put on the production. In previous years the event featured concessions, an indoor waiting area in case of rain, outdoor fire pits to keep visitors warm and waiting areas for family members too scared to enter. The haunted house includes around 40 rooms with character actors inside sure to give visitors the fright of a lifetime.
Proceeds benefit the volunteer fire department and its mission in the community. In previous years money raised through the haunted house was used to towards a new fire engine for the city and free smoke alarms for residents who don’t have one. Money raised has also been used to provide needed supplies for residents who lost their home due to a fire.
For more information visit the Horatio Fire Department’s Facebook page.
Local agencies participating in Arkansas Prescription Drug Take Back Day   10/15/20
DE QUEEN – Local and state law enforcement agencies are teaming up to encourage Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets to make their homes and communities safer. These agencies are organizing more than 250 drop-off locations throughout Arkansas for Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
This annual event will be held Saturday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations across the state. At these events Arkansans are encouraged to bring any unused or expired medications and drop them off, no questions asked.
State health experts say that cleaning out medicine cabinets and turning the expired, unused medications over to law enforcement during a Drug Take Back event can go a long ways towards saving lives. Overdoses are on the rise and the figures have been staggering, especially during the pandemic. Law enforcement agencies say it’s more important than ever to properly dispose of these prescription drugs.
Prescription Drug Take Back Day is held semi-annually with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs and Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy. The DEA, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers also participate each year.
The De Queen Police Department and local drug taskforce unit will participate on Drug Take Back Day by setting up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the De Queen Walmart Store on Oct. 24. A year-round drug collection site is also located at the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office. The Ashdown Police Department and Little River County Sheriff’s Office also feature year-round collection sites.
Other events and more information on Drug Take Back Day in Arkansas can be found at ARTakeBack.org. Since the program began, more than 72 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is an estimated 201 million individual pills.
Ashdown High School to perform musical, “Annie,” for community next week  10/15/20
ASHDOWN – Area residents are invited to attend Ashdown High School’s reproduction of the popular play Annie, scheduled to begin next week.
The Ashdown High School Panther Theatre has been hard at work on the production. Ashdown High School Senior Chelbi Gathright has been cast as Annie. Oliver Warbucks will be played by Tryston McCandless. Ansleigh Patrick will play as Grace and Amy Newton as Miss Hannigan.
Community performances are scheduled for Oct. 24 and Oct. 25 with performances at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. both days.  Adult tickets are $5 and student tickets are $3.
Tickets will be pre-sold as the auditorium audience capacity is currently at 100 with Arkansas Department of Health Guideliens. Guidelines.  More information on when and how tickets will be available will be posted at a later date. The play is directed by Ginger Hillis.
Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie.
Free small food business webinars open to all Arkansans    10/15/20
LITTLE ROCK – The Cooperative Extension Service’s Local, Regional and Safe Foods Team will be hosting two no-cost webinars as part of a Lunchtime Learning Series in October to assist a growing number of small food businesses.
As consumers increasingly seek locally sourced foods, U.S. local food sales, including cottage-food sales, have grown from $5 billion in 2008 to a projected $20 billion in 2019, according to former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The first of the webinars, scheduled for this Friday, Oct. 16, will focus on starting a small food business in Arkansas, specifically those businesses centered on “cottage food.”
The Oct. 16 webinar is primarily intended for small scale, home-based food businesses, farmers’ market managers and county extension agents. To register, visit www.uaex.edu
The second webinar is scheduled for next Friday, Oct. 23. This session will focus on food safety documentation and COVID-19 preparedness for small food manufacturers.
Both webinars are scheduled to stream live from noon-1 p.m., CDT. There is no cost to participate.
Organizers say the webinar series is designed to support Arkansans who want to launch a food business within the state.
Anyone interested in the subject but unable to join the webinars during their initial streaming can find additional resources and ongoing support for farm and food businesses at www.uaex.edu/localfoods.
ADH Updates local COVID-19 figures    10/15/20
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:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County rose by four over the past 24 hours to total 21 currently. Overall confirmed cases grew by eight to 1,240. Deaths remain at 19.

In neighboring counties, active cases increased by two to 23. Total confirmed cases rose by two as well to 402. Deaths remain at 29.

Howard County active cases increased by two to 27. Total confirmed cases rose by three to 527. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases decreased by two to 37. Total cases grew by five to 319. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional death over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 37. Active cases saw a significant one-day growth of 23 cases, raising the active case load in McCurtain County to 183. Total confirmed cases rose by 30 to 1,464.

Across the state, an additional 1,079 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday. That raises Arkansas’ cumulative total to 95,246 since the pandemic began. Deaths rose by 23 to 1,634. Active cases topped the 8,000-mark on Wednesday, rising by 263 to 8,007. Hospitalizations, fortunately, saw a decrease of 18 to 587.

Theft suspect leads police on chase, wrecks truck and flees on foot    10/14/20

DE QUEEN – De Queen police say an investigation continues into a case involving a shoplifter who fled in a vehicle, led officers on a pursuit, wrecked his truck and then escaped on foot.
According to information released yesterday afternoon by the De Queen Police Department, the incident began on Oct. 8 after police received a report about a shoplifter at Walmart in De Queen. The suspect left the store and was then seen by officers in the McDonald’s drive-thru. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver reportedly fled.
Following a short pursuit on Highway 70W, the suspect attempted to turn onto A.L. Tribble Lane but instead wrecked the truck into a ditch. The suspect then fled on foot.
First responders conducted a search but were unable to locate the suspect. The investigation continues, according to the report. Investigators do not have a name for the suspect and did not provide any other identifying information. Anyone with information on the case or the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to contact the De Queen Police Department at (870) 642-2213.
Harvest to distribute commodities today in Lockesburg    10/14/20
LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank will host a food giveaway directly from their truck this morning in Lockesburg. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia Street.
With CDC precautions and recommendations against COVID-19 still in place, Harvest is taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as drive-thru distributions. Recipients are asked not to leave their vehicle. Food will be loaded directly into their vehicle.
Photo ID and proof of address are required to verify recipients are residents of Sevier County. Commodities are limited to one box per household and two households per vehicle. Last year, Harvest distributed 3.2 million meals and served over 60,000 individuals in Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas.
Oklahoma residents arrested in Sevier County on felony drug charges    10/14/20
DE QUEEN – Two Oklahoma residents are facing felony drug charges following a traffic stop over the weekend.
According to a report released by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, two deputies were on patrol when they received a report about the occupants of a car acting as if they were under the influence. The deputies caught up to the reported vehicle on Highway 70 and initiated a traffic stop.
Deputies identified the driver as Jesus Laredo Nichols and a passenger, Kacy Ebert. Both were reportedly acting nervous, leading deputies to suspect both were under the influence of a controlled substance. The report stated Nichols was sweating profusely, mumbling and unable to sit still in his seat.
Consent to search the vehicle was allegedly given. A case containing suspected methamphetamine and related paraphernalia was allegedly found in the vehicle. Several more bags of suspected meth were found, according to police, totaling around 23 grams. Deputies said Nichols began complaining about a pain in his groin so he was taken to the Howard County Memorial Hospital for treatment. He was medically cleared soon after and then transported to the Sevier County Jail for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, a Class A felony, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia. Ebert was also arrested on the charge of possession with intent to deliver.

Area residents asked to complete policing survey by Oct. 16    10/14/20
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans have just a couple of days left to share their input on community policing through an online survey. Officials want to make sure area residents share their voice as well.
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the creation of the Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas this past summer. It’s a cumbersome title that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but that doesn’t take away from the mission the task force is pursuing. The taskforce was created to study the best practices for recruiting, training and maintaining law enforcement officers in Arkansas. The group also seeks to enhance trust and relations between law enforcement agencies and communities.
The initiative was largely prompted by police shootings and the resulting protests throughout the nation this year.
Lockesburg native Daniel Martinez, Jr. was one of over a dozen Arkansans recruited to the governor’s taskforce. Martinez spoke to us last week to highlight what the taskforce seeks to achieve and how local residents can help.
The taskforce is hosting a survey looking to get input from Arkansans on how they view law enforcement within their community. So far the survey has received most of its responses from Northwest Arkansas. As a lifelong area resident, Martinez wants to make sure local voices are heard thru the survey, too.
The survey must be completed by Oct. 16. Once it’s done, data from the survey will be compiled and highlight the difference in opinions by demographics and location. The survey report and analysis are expected to be complete by Oct. 23.

Martinez stresses the survey is quick, easy and vital to ensure Southwest Arkansas is represented.
De Queen School Board approves new weight room equipment for students    10/14/20
DE QUEEN – De Queen student athletes will soon have access to new training equipment following approval by the De Queen School Board Monday night.

The board approved an $85,000 purchase for new weight room equipment for students in PE as well as school athletes. District athletic officials had previously stated the need for new equipment to replace the aging equipment in the weight room.
During Superintendent Jason Sanders’ report, he stated the district had 73 percent of its students qualify for free and reduced meals. He added that current enrollment is 2,309 with 480 of those in a virtual learning environment. He also stated the district was teaming up with the City of De Queen for the upcoming peewee basketball program.
The board then approved several items of routine business including elected board member Skip Bell as a delegate to the Arkansas School Board Association. Board members also approved the district’s Gifted and Talented education plan and signed a memorandum of understanding with a local head start program.
Finally, the board approved the resignation of nurse Susie Mendez and approved two student transfers.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 2.
Arkansas State Fair begins tonight in Little Rock    10/14/20
LITTLE ROCK – The 2020 Arkansas State Fair will soon welcome livestock, talent and pageant competitors from across the state for 10 days of competition. The Arkansas State Fair Board announced earlier this year that aside from these two attractions, the 2020 event was being cancelled out of an abundance of caution over public health issues related to the coronavirus.
“I think it is safe to say that the 2020 State Fair is the most unique in the event’s long history,” said Doug White, Arkansas State Fair president. “Despite the unconventional nature of this year’s Arkansas State Fair, we are very pleased to host the Junior Livestock Show, State Fair Pageant and Talent competitions and their participants.”
Competitors qualified for the State Fair field at county and/or regional events. In the case of pageants and talent, many also had a virtual component to their 2020 State Fair competition experience.
White said the state fair’s number one priority is to put public health and safety above all other considerations. He added that organizers have implemented stringent safeguards and protocols for these events, including social distancing, wearing masks, limiting attendees and spacing of events to allow for thorough cleaning of required buildings.
State Fair administration has developed an extensive logistics plan to limit the number of people and animals on the grounds at any given time.
Attendance by the general public is not allowed and competitors’ family members are limited in number to help maintain social distancing. Masks are required in all areas and strict cleanliness in barns and competition areas will be observed.
The 2020 Arkansas State Fair begins tonight and continues through Oct. 14 at the State Fairgrounds in Little Rock

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    10/14/20
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:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County rose by two over the past 24 hours to 17. Overall confirmed cases grew by three to 1,232. Deaths remain at 19.
In neighboring counties, deaths in Little River County due to COVID-19 grew by one to 19. Active cases increased by two to 21 while overall cases rose by three to 400 since the pandemic began.
Howard County active cases increased by three to 25. Total confirmed cases rose by four to 524. Deaths remain at 12.
In Polk County, active cases increased by four to 39. Total cases grew by six to 314. Deaths remain at four.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional death over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 36. Active cases increased by three to 160. Total confirmed cases rose by 19 to 1,434.
Deadline tomorrow for tax filers who requested extended deadline   10/14/20

The October 15 filing deadline is just a day away for taxpayers who requested an extension to file their 2019 tax return. There are tools available at IRS.gov to help people with their taxes: Taxpayers can file their tax return electronically for free through IRS Free FileOther electronic filing options include using a free tax return preparation site, commercial software or an authorized e-file provider.
If an extension filer owes taxes, they should pay as much as possible by the Oct. 15 deadline to reduce interest and penalties. IRS Direct Pay allows individuals to securely pay from their checking or savings accounts. Visit IRS.gov foradditional payment options.

De Queen High School Homecoming ceremonies set for Oct. 30     10/13/20
2020 DHS HOMECOMING QUEEN – Halle Harp will be crowed the 2020 De Queen High School Homecoming Queen during ceremonies scheduled for Oct. 30 at Leopard Stadium.

DE QUEEN – October is here and that means De Queen High School’s Homecoming Ceremonies are just around the corner.
The De Queen High School Student Council announced Halle Harp will be the 2020 DHS Homecoming Queen. She will be escorted by twenty-six DHS homecoming maids. The ceremonies are set for Oct. 30, when the De Queen Leopards football team will take on the Magnolia Panthers. Homecoming festivities will kick-off with spirit week beginning on Oct. 26 through Oct. 29.
Spirit days include: Scare the Panthers Monday, when students will be allowed wear their Halloween costume; Don’t Sleep on the Leopards Tuesday, when students will be allowed to wear pajamas; Way Back Wednesday, when students will dress in fashion from a past decade; It’s A Cat Fight Thursday, when students will be asked to dress in their designated class color for color wars day. School dress code will apply to spirit week.

SENIOR MAIDS are from left to right in the front row, Lizbeth Osura and Diana Ramirez. In the second row are Senior Maids Kenya Martinez, Ariana Ortiz, Janae Tirado and Parker Sneed. In the third row are Senior Maids Perla Zapata, Sara Victoriano, Jessalyn Parker and Ana Marrufo.

Due to Covid-19 precautions and that Friday being a virtual school day for the district, homecoming festivities will look a little different this year. The festivities will begin at 2 p.m. at Leopard Stadium with an afternoon coronation ceremony. DHS is inviting students and the community to attend the ceremony at no cost. There will be no pre-game homecoming ceremony but the homecoming court will be recognized at halftime of the football game. In order to be in compliance with the Arkansas Department of Health, everyone must wear a mask and social distance at the afternoon ceremony and during the football game.

SENIOR MAIDS also include, from left to right in the first row, Cristal caudra and Giovanna Lerma. In the second row are Senior Maids Ashley Contreras, Yasmelin Gonzalez, Angie Hernandez, Kynnedi France and Matilda Jacobo. In the third row are Senior Maids Edith Hernandez, Dalania Hibbs and Carlee Helms.

Senior maids for this year’s Homecoming event include Kimberly Delgado, Deciredh Alvarez, Edith Hernandez, Dalania Hibbis, Carlee Helms, Ashley Contreras, Yasmelin Gonzalez, Angie Hernandez, Kynnedi France, Matilda Jacobo, Cristal Caudra, Giovanna Lerma, Perla Zapata, Sara Victoriano, Jessalyn Parker, Ana Marrufo, Kenya Martinez, Ariana Ortiz, Janae Tirado, Parker Sneed, Lizbeth Osura and Diana Ramirez.

Junior maids are Daphne Villeda and Marlen Perez. Sophomore maids are Wendy Victoriano and Amairany Ortiz. Crown bearer is Aileen Lopez while Hernan Fernandez will serve as football bearer.

Early voting begins next week in Arkansas   10/13/20

DE QUEEN – Early voting begins Oct. 19 across Arkansas.

The early voting period is held the two weeks before the general election. For Sevier County voters, they can begin voting next Monday at the De Queen Community building located in the Herman Dierks Park.

The early voting location will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. For the convenience of voters, the community building will be open both Saturdays before the election from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Election day itself will be Nov. 3.

The deadline to register as a first time voter has passed, but Arkansas residents who’ve moved to a different county since the last election have until Oct. 30 to update their voter registration.

Election officials are reminding voters of certain electioneering guidelines and laws. State election law prohibits voters from wearing campaign t-shirts, caps or buttons when entering a polling location. Voters who wear items displaying campaign material will be asked to remedy the situation before voting.

In addition, all campaign type material must be at least one hundred feet from the entrance to a polling place. This includes bumper stickers and campaign signs on vehicles.

Sevier County voters seeking additional information are welcome to contact the County Clerk’s office at 642-2852.

Ashdown teenager killed after being struck by car in Texarkana    10/13/20

TEXARKANA – An Ashdown teenager was killed after being struck by a vehicle in Texarkana over the weekend.

According to Texarkana police, 20-year-old Jackson Giles of Texarkana, Arkansas was driving a 2019 BMW south on Stateline Avenue when he hit the teenager. The 16-year-old teen, whose name has not been released since he was a juvenile, died at the scene. The incident occurred around 9:40 Sunday night.

Giles told investigators the teenager appeared suddenly in his path and that he did not have enough time to stop. In the report investigators said the teen had exited another vehicle and ran into the darkness just moments before the accident.

Police said the accident investigation is ongoing.

Sevier County Quorum Court declares vacancy in District 2 seat; special appointment by governor to fill seat expected later this year or next    10/13/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court met Monday afternoon to declare a vacancy on the legislative body and deal with several other items of county business.

The quorum court passed a resolution declaring a vacancy in the office of Justice of the Peace District 2 following the death of Charles Keels late last month. Keels, who was 74, had served on the Sevier County Quorum Court since 2002. County Judge Greg Ray said Keels will be greatly missed and not easily replaced.

Following this resolution, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will now be able to create a special appointment to the quorum court. It is, however, doubtful this process will be completed before next month’s election. Ray said he anticipates the special appointment to be made closer to the end of the year or even early 2021. Whoever is appointed to the position will not be able to run in the next election cycle.

In other business, the quorum court authorized Sevier County election officials to apply for and accept grants to assist with this year’s election. Specifically, these grants provide local election officials with funds to help purchase protective equipment and pay for special training for pollworkers. In effect Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin said the grants will help the county conduct a safe and secure election in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A similar county fund was established for federal funding the county receives through the Coronavirus Relief Fund set up by the national CARES Act.

Justices of the peace also heard from Dr. Steve Cole, Chancellor of UA Cossatot and director of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. He updated the quorum court on progress being made on the new hospital. That includes a groundbreaking ceremony set for early November. He also announced the group was in the process of seeking the new administrator to oversee day-to-day operations of the hospital. Dr. Cole said the board hopes to have the administrator in place in January.

Given the county’s past experience with hospital administration, Dr. Cole said the board will be very selective in who it chooses for the position.

The quorum court is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 9.

Search continues for two Little River County residents wanted on murder charges    10/13/20

ASHDOWN – Area law enforcement agencies are still asking for the community’s help in locating two Little River County residents suspected of shooting and killing an Ashdown man earlier this week.

According to the Ashdown Police Department, Cheleka Johnson and Corey Garfield are both wanted for their alleged involvement in the death of 48-year-old Dennis Graves last week. Felony arrest warrants have been issued for both Johnson and Garfield on the charge of first-degree murder. Both suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities with the Ashdown Police Department say they responded to an incident shortly before nine on Oct. 6 at a residence on Byrne Street. Upon arriving officers found Graves lying in the driveway and suffering from a single gunshot wound. He was given medical treatment by officers on the scene and then transported by ambulance to the Little River County Hospital. He died later that evening from the injury.

Investigators announced Johnson and Garfield as suspects following an investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Zane Butler at (903) 276-6370 or Little River County Dispatch at (870) 898-5115.

Again, both suspects are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone who has seen these suspects or know of their whereabouts should contact authorities immediately.

Local County Extension Office closes; officials cite COVID-19 as reason    10/13/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Extension Office will be temporarily closed until the end of the month. The closure, which took place Monday, will continue until Oct. 27, when the office will reopen with regular business hours. In an announcement sent by the office, COVID-19 was citied as the reason for the office closure.

Staff will be working remotely over the next two weeks and can be reached at the following email addresses:

For Administrative Specialist Dana Stringfellow, email dstringfellow@uaex.edu

Rex Herring, County Extension Agent and Staff Chair, rherring@uaex.edu

Janet Cantrell, Family and Consumer Sceiences Agent, jcantrell@uaex.edu

And Kim Frachiseur, 4-H Program Assistant, kfrachiseur@uaex.edu

The Arkansas Ballot Issues Voter Guide, which is published by the Cooperative Extension Service, can be found online at www.uaex.edu/ballot

Harvest to distribute food in Lockesburg Wednesday    10/13/20

LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank will host a food giveaway directly from their truck on tomorrow, Oct. 14 in Lockesburg. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia Street. With CDC precautions and recommendations against COVID-19 still in place, Harvest is taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as drive-thru distributions. Recipients are asked not to leave their vehicle. Food will be loaded directly into their vehicle.

Photo ID and proof of address are required to verify recipients are residents of Sevier County. Commodities are limited to one box per household and two households per vehicle. Last year, Harvest distributed 3.2 million meals and served over 60,000 individuals in Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas.

Horatio Fall Festival set for Oct. 31   10/13/20

HORATIO – The 2020 Horatio Fall Festival has been set for Saturday, Oct. 31. The event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature a wide variety of vendors and booths set up with a huge selection of homemade and craft items.

A Halloween themed photo booth will be setup at the event as well as fall and Christmas themed holiday décor. Organizers say a ton of crafters from around the area will be set up at the event. A Howl-O-Ween dog costume contest is also scheduled for the festival. To participate in that contest, contact Kelsi Brown at 214-664-8818.

For more information on the Horatio Fall Festival, visit the Horatio Hometown Happenings page on Facebook.

Memorial Baptist hosting clothes drive for students at DQ Elementary    10/13/20

DE QUEEN – Memorial Baptist Church is hosting a clothing drive to help children in-need who attend De Queen Elementary School. Drop-off locations for clothes donations include the Memorial Baptist Church lobby, Lance and Vivi Bradshaw’s classrooms in the junior high school, and an outdoor drop box at De Queen Elementary School. Organizers are asking the community to support the drive by donating clothing and shoes for male and female students. There is an emphasis on winter clothing such as sweaters, long-sleeved shirts and jackets. For more information contact Vivi Bradshaw at (870) 315-0249.

Camping one of best ways to enjoy outdoors in Arkansas    10/13/20

Submitted by Arkansas Tourism

Camping is a wonderful way to enjoy Arkansas’s natural beauty. The views, fresh air and nighttime under the stars can revive the mind and refresh the spirit. Plenty of opportunities to pitch a tent can be found across the wide range of topography found here. Arkansas is home to mountains, lakes, rivers, forests and prairies, and each distinct area provides a portal to enjoying nature and the outdoors.

“Arkansas is a beautiful state,” said Shannon Caldwell, program director at the Arkansas 4-H Center in Little Rock. “There are a lot of outdoor opportunities here. We’ve got lakes, rivers, streams, mountains, and you don’t have to go very far to get to a camping location. Our winter is typically mild and our spring and fall are beautiful. Our summers are hot but we have so many water options that even in a hot summer there are places to go cool off. So you can camp in Arkansas really most of the year.”

For those who are interested in camping but might not know where to begin the process, Caldwell, who has worked at the 4-H Center for 22 years and has taught several classes on camping basics, said a good starting spot is at home. “Try things and equipment at your house first so you are familiar with items like your tent, stove or anything you might need to do at a campsite,” she said. This helps prep you for various unexpected scenarios you might encounter like potentially arriving at a site after dark or as it is raining. “The more knowledge you have before you get out there the less stressful it will be on you once you get to the campsite,” she said. “Try to do a practice run camping close to your home if possible, especially if you have kids. This way, if the venture becomes a bust, you have the option to easily get home.”

A vital step before heading out on a first venture is to research the area you’re going to. Reach out to people who’ve been there before for information and try not to solely depend on the Internet. Make sure there is camping space available where you’re going and become familiar with the accommodations available there: for instance, whether it is a primitive campsite or if there are restrooms, water or animal-proof trash cans onsite. Also, keep an eye on the weather. Prepare for it and for what kind of climate you’ll be in because this helps prepare for the type of clothing you’ll need to take. Also, because Arkansas weather can change quickly, practice layering clothing: for example, having a moisture wicking layer against your skin and a breathable waterproof outer layer if rain is expected. “Don’t make your trip so complicated that you don’t have fun though,” Caldwell said. “Do your research but be flexible and remember that this is about having a good time.”

For first-time camping with kids, Caldwell said a number one recommendation is to keep them involved in the planning process. “The more the kids are invested the more successful you’re likely to be if they’ve had a hand in planning where you’re going and what you’re doing.” Enrolling them beforehand in area outdoor day camps, such as the Arkansas Outdoor School Day Camp hosted at the 4-H Center each summer, is also an option where they can learn skills like building a fire or learning to fish or canoe. “The more you can help them be familiar with an activity beforehand the better,” she said.

Another suggestion for first-timers is to borrow equipment from friends and family if you can before buying a bunch of gear or spending money on something that might not end up being your thing. For example, if you are planning fishing as part of your camping experience, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a rod-and-reel loaner program through the public libraries. If you want to do other activities like canoeing or biking as part of your trip, many Arkansas State Parks have these items onsite to rent as do various local outfitters across the state. Many universities also have outdoor rental equipment options that students and staff can check out too. Caldwell advised going to local outdoor stores such as Ozark Outdoor Supply in Little Rock, Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters in Hot Springs and Pack Rat Outdoor Center in Fayetteville when you are ready to buy your own gear because the people who work there have first-hand experience with the Arkansas outdoors.

Ready to camp? Below, Caldwell shares some of the many spots you can find across Arkansas that make good options for beginning ventures:

Blanchard Springs Recreation Area in Mountain View

“This is my favorite group campsite I’ve been to in Arkansas. In general the campsites have shade and there is a creek and a lake you can go trout fishing at and Blanchard Springs Caverns are a top thing to see in Arkansas.”

Maumelle Park in Little Rock

“This is an easy to get to location. They have a lot of campsites, there is a playground and basketball court and it is also close to Pinnacle Mountain so you can camp and then go hike there. It is also close to stores if you forgot something.”

Lake Ouachita State Park near Hot Springs

“If you are into water, this is a great place for swimming, boating, fishing, along with camping. Because Lake Ouachita is such a large lake there are a lot of options.”

Village Creek State Park in Wynne

“I haven’t camped here yet but it has been mentioned to me. They have a small museum, lakes, trails, horse camp sites, and you can hike on part of the Trail of Tears there.”

Devil’s Den State Park

“I haven’t camped here either but I know several people who have and it has got a lot of options. You can do horse camping there, there is hiking and mountain biking there and there are lots of campsites too. We are really fortunate to have as many state parks as we have and as many outdoor opportunities too.”

Buffalo National River

“It is cool this is America’s first national river. Buffalo River has several options of places to camp. It is also a good place to learn to canoe and they have a variety of trails to hike too.”

Arkansas Governor’s School accepting applications now   10/13/20

RUSSELLVILLE – Eligible individuals interested in attending the 42nd Arkansas Governor’s School as a student should ask their school counselors about the nomination process.

Information and instructions for applying are available by emailing ags@atu.edu.

The deadline to apply to be an Arkansas Governor’s School student in summer 2021 is Jan. 20, 2021. Arkansas Tech University will host the 42nd AGS July 5-31, 2021, in Russellville.

Students selected to attend will enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime summer program designed to spark their curiosity, engage them intellectually with other students and teachers from around the state and explore scholarly and artistic concepts in a fun, grade-free environment, said Dr. Robin Lasey, director of Arkansas Governor’s School.

Founded in 1979 by Gov. Bill Clinton, Arkansas Governor’s School serves approximately 400 selected students from around the state during the summer before their senior year in high school.

Student applicants should demonstrate the intellectual, social and emotional maturity required to thrive in an environment that emphasizes the application of theory in addressing contemporary issues. Students will apply in one of nine disciplines: visual art, choral music, instrumental music, drama, English/language arts, mathematics, natural science, social science or cybersecurity.

A number of students from area schools have enrolled in the Arkansas Governor’s School in the past.

You can also call (479) 968-0391 for more information.

Search continues for two suspects in Ashdown murder 10/09/20

Corey Garfield

ASHDOWN – Area law enforcement agencies are searching for two Little River County residents suspected of shooting and killing an Ashdown man earlier this week.

According to information released by the Ashdown Police Department yesterday afternoon, Cheleka Johnson and Corey Garfield are both wanted for their alleged involvement in the death of 48-year-old Dennis Graves Tuesday night. Felony arrest warrants have been issued for both Johnson and Garfield on the charge of first-degree murder. Both suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities with the Ashdown Police Department say they responded to an incident shortly before nine Tuesday night at a residence on Byrne Street. Upon arriving officers found Graves lying in the driveway and suffering from a single gunshot wound. He was given medical treatment by officers on the scene and then transported by ambulance to the Little River County Hospital. He died later that evening from the injury.

Cheleka Johnson

Investigators announced Johnson and Garfield as suspects following an investigation Tuesday night and into Wednesday. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Zane Butler at (903) 276-6370 or Little River County Dispatch at (870) 898-5115.

Again, both suspects are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone who has seen these suspects or know of their whereabouts should contact authorities immediately.

DQPD welcomes newest patrol officer, Chris Turner    10/09/20
The full audio interview is available here:
The partial transcript if featured below:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Chris Turner, a native of Lockesburg, is the newest officer with the De Queen Police Department. He shared some of his history and thoughts on policing in an interview KDQN aired Friday morning.

De Queen’s newest police officer hit the streets this week and is likely to be a familiar face to many. He also brings a wealth of policing experience to the DQPD.

Chris Turner started as a patrol officer this week, filling a vacancy left by Jarrin Platt after his resignation. A Lockesburg native, Turner hasn’t been back home except to visit since heading off to college after graduating from Lockesburg High School in 1997. After more than two decades away, he’s glad to be back. Turner’s been with the DQPD less than a week but already knows he’s in the right place.
Turner went on to receive his degree in health education from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. As a basketball player for Lockesburg, Turner had a longstanding passion for sports and coaching.
But life has a way of changing things. And Turner, well, he realized another passion – one very close to home.
He ended up applying and hiring with the campus police department at UCA. He moved through the ranks to become a detective and patrol supervisor.All in all, he spent 15 years with the PD at UCA. Campus police always seem to have their work cut out for them and Turner’s about seen it all. From people’s best moments to their worst. But the mantra he carried with him each day applied as equally to the university campus as it will on the streets of De Queen.
2020 has brought many issues to the forefront. Not the least of which – community and police relations. Incidents involving police have reached the national spotlight many times this year. Sometimes fairly, sometimes not. Morale in many police departments has sagged, forcing some officers to retire early or leave the profession entirely. But Turner’s quick to point out it’s been a year of hardships for everyone.
At the same time, Turner is adamant that the vast majority of professionals in law enforcement are good people who chose this field to help their communities. They serve out of respect and a sense of attachment to the people they serve and protect.
And for long-serving officers like Turner, it’s the best way they know to give back to their communities.
Area residents asked to provide input on community policing through statewide survey   10/09/20
The full audio story is here:
The partial transcript is featured below:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Arkansans are being asked to share their input on community policing through an online survey and officials want to make sure area residents share their voice as well.
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the creation of the Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas this past summer. It’s a cumbersome title that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but that doesn’t take away from the mission the task force is pursuing. The taskforce was created to study the best practices for recruiting, training and maintaining law enforcement officers in Arkansas. The group also seeks to enhance trust and relations between law enforcement agencies and communities.
The initiative was largely prompted by police shootings and the resulting protests throughout the nation this year.
Lockesburg native Daniel Martinez, Jr. was one of over a dozen Arkansans recruited to the governor’s taskforce. Martinez spoke to us earlier this week to highlight what the taskforce seeks to achieve and how local residents can help.
The taskforce announced this week a new survey looking to get input from Arkansans on how they view law enforcement within their community. So far the survey has received over 1,500 responses – most of those from Northwest Arkansas. As a lifelong area resident, Martinez wants to make sure local voices are heard too.
The survey must be completed by Oct. 16. Once it’s done, data from the survey will be compiled and highlight the difference in opinions by demographics and location. The survey report and analysis are expected to be complete by Oct. 23. A link to the survey are included here:
Martinez stresses the survey is quick, easy and vital to ensure Southwest Arkansas is represented.
Keisha McKinney of De Queen included in inaugural VIPinks Arkansas Campaign   10/09/20

LITTLE ROCK – In its inaugural year in Arkansas, 10 leading women will unite to fight breast cancer with the American Cancer Society through participation in the VIPinks campaign. Keisha McKinney, of De Queen, is a member of this elite group. Throughout October, VIPinks will encourage community members to take action in the fight against breast cancer.

“In addition to wearing pink and raising awareness about breast cancer, these women will be raising funds to help the American Cancer Society attack cancer from every angle and save more lives from breast cancer,” said DeAnna Korte, Senior Manager for Community Development for the American Cancer Society. “Funds raised help us save lives from breast cancer through early detection and prevention, innovative breast cancer research, and patient support.”

Each VIPink participant accepts a fundraising challenge and will compete to be the top fundraiser among her peers by the end of the campaign.

“I am forever indebted to the American Cancer Society. I’m a 12-year cancer survivor and the protocol that sent my cancer into remission was developed by an American Cancer Society funded research team,” stated McKinney. “But fighting this disease is bigger for us. My mother in law was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago and continues to fight her battle each day. This month she will travel to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, TX to seek need treatments and potentially enroll in a clinical trial. I know these are treatment options that were not available 10 years ago when she was diagnosed and that is because of generous donors, talented research teams, and the commitment of the American Cancer Society.”

It is noted that nearly 300,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. The American Cancer Society is committed to continue to be the largest funder of cancer research outside of the US government. Each day new therapies, treatment protocols, screening guidelines, and survivorship patterns are being developed through the $64 million invested in cancer research.

During the pandemic, the American Cancer Society has been hit like most non-profits and this year’s VIPinks and Real Men Wear Pink candidates are challenged to continue to raise funds and bring awareness. Locally, McKinney is hosting a freezer meal fundraiser, partnering with local restaurants for a give back night, auctioning drawings by her toddler son, selling tshirts, and receiving online donations at tiny.cc/vipinkkeisha.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, and it is the most common cancer diagnosed in women other than skin cancer.

“Our community can make a huge impact in the breast cancer cause,” said McKinney. “I am as committed now as I have ever been to raising funds and bringing awareness for this esteemed organization. I often get asked how the dollars help locally and I smile and say look at my face. I am here because of pennies, quarters, and dollars donated one at a time. When someone gets diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t matter where they live, they have full access to the resources and treatments developed in the labs where the investment would make the greatest impact. That is always a local impact.”

In addition to funding cancer research, the American Cancer Society provides transportation grants, hotel partnerships, a patient hotline that is available 24/7 at 800-227-2345 and trusted information anytime at cancer.org.

For more information about breast cancer or the VIPinks campaign in Arkansas, call 1-800-227-2345.

Horatio High School Homecoming is on for today   10/09/20

HORATIO – The 2020 Horatio High School homecoming ceremony is on for this afternoon and evening. The 2020 homecoming queen is Angela Guiterrez. She will be escorted by Senior Maids Madison Olvey, Aubrey Banhart, Maddie Rivas and Kalyn McWhorter. Junior Maids are Madison Bagley and Gracie Shelton. Sophomore Maids are Attalee Frachiseur and Mallori Marshall. Dovie Connor will serve as flower girl and tate Dorsey as the football bearer. Chanli Hornsby will be the homecoming crown bearer.

Events will begin at 1 p.m. with a golf cart caravan through Horatio. The caravan will end at the elementary school around 1:30 p.m. Parents who would like to view the parade can park at the football field.

A daytime coronation ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the football field. Seniors will be dismissed at 1:50 p.m. to drive or catch the shuttle bus to the ceremony. Grades kindergarten through 11 will be able to watch the daytime ceremony virtually. A photographer will be present and sharing photos and video to the Horatio High School Facebook page.

Tickets for the Horatio Homecoming will not be sold in advance. Tickets can be purchased on a first-come, first-serve basis at the gate. Visitors will not be allowed in without a ticket. Masks will be required. The gate will open at 5 p.m. Homecoming royalty will arrive at 6 p.m. with the coronation ceremony set for 6:30.

Following Homecoming ceremonies, Horatio will face off against the Fouke Panthers at Lion Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Sevier County unemployment rate remains below state, national averages   10/09/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Sevier County’s unemployment rate remains below the state and national averages. That’s a fact reflected in consistently strong and record-breaking sales tax collections throughout the late spring and into summer.

As of August – the month with the latest data – Sevier County’s unemployment rate is at 6.7 percent. Statewide the unemployment rate is 7.4 percent. Sevier County ranks 30th in the state for the lowest number of residents filing for unemployment. 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.

Neighboring Little River County reported an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent in August. That’s ranks Little River 49th out of 75 Arkansas counties. Little River’s unemployment rate is still lower than the national rate, which declined slightly in September to 7.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Howard County is ranked 16th in the state with an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent. Polk County ranks 50th with an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent.

Statewide Madison County reported the lowest unemployment rate of 4.8 percent. Chicot County has the highest at 12.3 percent.
Across the state line, McCurtain County saw an unemployment rate in August of 6.3 percent. That’s a sizeable drop from the 7.8 percent reported in July and a spike of 12.1 percent back in April.

Sevier County Sheriff’s Office details monthly activities for August   10/09/20
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Sheriffs Office has released its update detailing activities for the month of September:Deputies clocked a total of 2,123 hours on duty during the month.

Total miles driven by deputies were 21,807 with 1,448 gallons of fuel used.

Deputies received a total of 134 calls, including 21 motor vehicle accidents, 124 traffic stops, 11 citations, 117 warnings and 19 arrests.

A total of 77 civil papers were served. 818 building checks were made throughout the month.

Investigators opened several new cases, including a missing person and burn victim case.

Investigators worked four sexual assaults, one juvenile gunshot incident, one animal cruelty case and several theft cases.

Sevier County Quorum Court will meet Monday, Oct. 12   10/09/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet in regular session on Monday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Weyerhaeuser Room on UA Cossatot’s De Queen campus.

The meeting will begin with an update from the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. Justices of the peace will then vote on a proposed ordinance establishing a new county fund to hold and account for grants the county has received in order to establish a safe and secure election next month. A similar ordinance will be voted upon in regards to federal CARES Act funding the county has received. The purchase of a scissor lift is also on the agenda as well as a proposed resolution declaring a vacancy in the office of Justice of the Peace District 2 due to the passing of JP Charles Keels late last month.

The meeting is open to the public.

With deer season on, it’s easy to forget fall is a great time for fishing   10/09/20

As the temperatures drop and the leaves change color, the thoughts of most Arkansans turn to the pursuit of deer, ducks, squirrels and other game. Fishing is put on the back burner, but the changing seasons and dropping temperatures will spur the fish of Arkansas into a feeding frenzy that can lead to some of the best angling days of the year.

As waters warm in the early months of the year, fish are spurred to the shallows looking to spawn. This move to the shallows can occur at different times for different species. But during the fall months, all these species are driven to congregate by the need to feed before winter sets in. This provides anglers with a possible mixed bag on any given day. Fall fish are there to feed and their voracious appetites make them great targets for a day on the water.

The fall feed occurs on lakes, rivers, streams and creeks and each one provides an angler with great opportunities. These fish will also fall for a wide variety of baits, thus allowing an angler to be successful with their favorite style of fishing.

Fish in large, clear waterways often follow large schools of shad. These shad are also trying to feed before winter sets in and can be found on long points, drop-offs and brush piles.

In smaller lowland lakes, the fish tend to venture toward shoreline cover. Cypress trees and brush piles, especially those that might be in a little deeper water are often used as ambush points by hungry fish.

Flowing waters offer their most interesting fishing of the year as the leaves change and begin to fall. Many species of fish that inhabit rivers and streams will begin to feed aggressively and often stack in large numbers in the same general locations in search of food. A very important tool in fishing a river is being able to read the river and its current flow. Falling leaves can provide a great clue of likely locations to cast a line. As the leaves fall and settle on the water’s surface, they will flow downstream with the current and these flowing leaves will tell an observant angler exactly where to cast

Whether it be a river or lake, fall is a great time to be on the water. Not only are the fish actively feeding, the crowds have dwindled and the scenery can be spectacular.

Sevier County sample ballot for November General Election   10/09/20

Authorities seeking two Little River County residents for murder of Ashdown man  10/08/20

ASHDOWN – Area law enforcement agencies are searching for two Little River County residents suspected of shooting and killing an Ashdown man earlier this week.

According to information released by the Ashdown Police Department yesterday afternoon, Cheleka Johnson and Corey Garfield are both wanted for their alleged involvement in the death of 48-year-old Dennis Graves Tuesday night. Felony arrest warrants have been issued for both Johnson and Garfield on the charge of first-degree murder. Both suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities with the Ashdown Police Department say they responded to an incident shortly

Cheleka Johnson

before nine Tuesday night at a residence on Byrne Street. Upon arriving officers found Graves lying in the driveway and suffering from a single gunshot wound. He was given medical treatment by officers on the scene and then transported by ambulance to the Little River County Hospital. He died later that evening from the injury.

Investigators announced Johnson and Garfield as suspects following an investigation Tuesday night and into Wednesday. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Zane Butler at (903) 276-6370 or Little River County Dispatch at (870) 898-5115.

Again, both suspects are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone who has seen these suspects or know of their whereabouts should contact authorities immediately.

Horatio High School Homecoming ceremonies set for this Friday  10/08/20

HORATIO – The 2020 Horatio High School homecoming ceremony is set for tomorrow, Oct. 9. This year’s homecoming queen is Angela Guiterrez. Senior Maids include Madison Olvey, Aubrey Banhart, Maddie Rivas and Kalyn McWhorter. Junior Maids are Madison Bagley and Gracie Shelton. Sophomore Maids are Attalee Frachiseur and Mallori Marshall. Dovie Connor will serve as flower girl and tate Dorsey as the football bearer. Chanli Hornsby will be the homecoming crown bearer.

Events will begin at 1 p.m. with a golf cart caravan through Horatio. The caravan will end at the elementary school around 1:30 p.m. Parents who would like to view the parade can park at the football field.

A daytime coronation ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the football field. Seniors will be dismissed at 1:50 p.m. to drive or catch the shuttle bus to the ceremony. Grades kindergarten through 11 will be able to watch the daytime ceremony virtually. A photographer will be present and sharing photos and video to the Horatio High School Facebook page.

Tickets for the Horatio Homecoming will not be sold in advance. Tickets can be purchased on a first-come, first-serve basis at the gate. Visitors will not be allowed in without a ticket. Masks will be required. The gate will open at 5 p.m. Homecoming royalty will arrive at 6 p.m. with the coronation ceremony set for 6:30.

Following Homecoming ceremonies, Horatio will face off against the Fouke Panthers at Lion Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Voter Guide aims to inform Arkansans on statewide ballot intiatives  10/08/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The Arkansas 2020 Voter Guide is available to assist voters in understanding the statewide ballot measures in this year’s General Election.

Arkansans planning to exercise their voting rights during the upcoming November elections have an invaluable education tool at their disposal: an online guide to Arkansas’ statewide ballot issues.

The 2020 Arkansas Ballot Issue Voter Guide, published by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Public Policy Center, is now available at www.uaex.edu/ballot.

Election Day is just a few weeks away and many Arkansans are already casting their absentee ballots. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an executive order in August allowing all Arkansas voters to use absentee ballots if they had COVID-19-related concerns. County clerks began mailing out absentee ballots in September. Early voting begins Oct. 19 and Election Day is Nov. 3.

With many Arkansans already voting, and many more planning to once early voting begins, it’s important to know what’s going to be on the ballot. Arkansas voters have some decisions to make this fall when it comes to the state constitution.

The guide covers all six statewide ballot issues, although the Arkansas Supreme Court has recently ruled that three of the six do not qualify to be on the November ballot. Issue 1, Issue 2 and Issue 3 remain on the ballot.

Issue 1 asks voters to continue a half-cent statewide sales tax to provide funds for infrastructure projects. The current sales tax provides the state with 70 percent of the revenue collected. The other 30 percent is split evenly between Arkansas cities and counties.

Issue 2 seeks to install a 12-year term limit on state legislators. Legislators would be able to run again after a four-year break. If Issue 2 fails, the current 16-year term limit will remain in place.

Issue 3 asks voters to support changes to the requirements for citizen initiatives and legislative referrals. If passed Issue 3 would make five changes to the way citizen initiatives and legislative referrals are obtained. For the most part, these changes would place additional hurdles for citizen-initiated changes to state law. The measure would reduce the time petitioners have to get the required amount of signatures and triple the number of Arkansas counties they would need to canvass. Supporters say Issue 3 allows out-of-state interest groups to buy signatures and have an outsized influence on legislation in Arkansas. Supporters cite medical marijuana, casinos and higher minimum wages as issues introduced to Arkasnas by large special interest groups.

Opponents of the measure say it would make it nearly impossible to get a petition on an Arkansas ballot. If everyday Arkansans couldn’t propose ballot measures, opponents of Issue 3 say, the state’s minimum wage would still be $8.50 an hour. That wage was raised in 2018 thanks to a citizen-led ballot measure which received over 68 percent of the votes cases.

Issues 4, 5 and 6 have been removed from the ballot.

The online guide has been updated to reflect those court decisions.

Arkansans see the popular name and ballot title of each proposed constitutional amendment when casting their votes. Every amendment actually includes more information than what is included on the ballot. Voters should find the full proposals and learn more about what they would do in the voter guide.

To view the full guide, visit the Business and Communities page at www.uaex.edu. The guide is also being made available at all cooperative extension offices across the state.

Area voters will decide several local issues, races this November  10/08/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

In addition to statewide ballot initiatives, voters in the listening area will have several local issues to decide.

That includes whether or not to permit the sale of alcohol in Sevier County. The wet/dry measure made it to the ballot after organizers behind the effort collected more than the minimum amount of needed signatures earlier this year.

If the measure passes, alcohol sales will be permitted in Sevier County for the first time since Prohibition began in the 1920s. The measure would allow for a limited number of alcohol stores in the county, and allow restaurants to apply for licenses to serve alcohol on their premises.

The wet/dry issue will be open for all Sevier County voters to decide.

Other local elections include a race for the Ward 2, Position 1 seat on the De Queen City Council. Lee Ann Pitchford has challenged incumbent Teresa Bunyard for the position.

Voters within the Gillham city limits will decide a proposed one-percent local sales and use tax.

Voters within the Dierks School District boundaries will also vote on extending the current millage rate of 43 mills to provide additional funding for the district. The extension does not increase the current millage rate. The requested rate of 43 mills represents the same rate presently being collected.

Sample ballots are available for Sevier County voters who want to study up on all the issues and races before the November General Election. A sample ballot is posted on our website, www.kdqn.net. The sample ballot is also available at the county clerk’s office in the Sevier County Courthouse.

Arkansas releases newly created Feral Hog Handbook  10/08/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

They’re mean. They’re nasty. And they destroy just about anything, just about anywhere they’re at. If that description conjures up the image of a feral hog, you’ve certainly been paying attention.

Well, so apparently have state officials in Arkansas.

It’s hard not to notice these widespread and highly destructive creatures. Feral hogs cause over $19 million in damages each year in Arkansas alone. They pose a threat to native species, especially groundnesting birds. They also present a significant risk to human and livestock health through the diseases they carry. Altogether, feral hogs are becoming a problem no one can miss.

In hopes of lending Arkansans a hand in this fight, this week the Department of Agriculture released its newly created Arkansas Feral Hog Handbook. The handbook is described as a guide to assist Arkansans in controlling and hopefully eradicating feral hog populations in their areas.

The handbook includes contact information, websites, and brief explanations of the resources offered by state and federal agencies and other entities. A grant through the USDA’s Conservation Service funded the project, according to Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.

The handbooks are being distributed to the public at locations throughout the state with assistance from partner organizations, including the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Arkansas Game and Fish and Arkansas Farm Bureau. Copies of the handbook can also be found online at the Department of Agriculture’s website, agriculture.arkansas.gov

The handbook contains information on a host of information many Arkansans, especially property owners, could find useful. Among those resources are the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force, feral hog reporting, a summary of the USDA Feral Swine Pilot Program, state laws and rules regarding feral hogs, and other resources with information about feral hogs and the damage they cause.

Overall the handbook provides a brief overview of feral hog issues as well as provide information resources available to landowners. J.P. Fairhead, coordinator of the state’s Feral Hog Program, said the handbook also aims to increase public awareness of the issues related to feral hogs.

Deer processors may be very busy this year    10/08/20

Submitted by AGFC

Hunters planning to hit the woods Oct. 17 for Arkansas’s muzzleloader season and Nov. 14 for modern gun deer season may want to check with the deer processor they normally use to make the most of their harvest. Some processors who handle domestic livestock may be seeing a backlog from recent direct-to-butcher purchases at the beginning of this summer’s meat shortage.

According to Jeremy Brown, assistant deer program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, some smaller processors have been booked solid through the fall taking in reservations for local beef and pork production from new customers.

When news spread of a possible shortage of meat, it wasn’t because cattle and pork producers didn’t have the livestock. it was because large-scale processing plants were being closed from social-distancing precautions, Brown explained.

While the purchases were a real benefit to local producers and kept supply lines flowing, it also caused some of the processors to fill to capacity right at the beginning of deer season.

Brown says calling ahead to your processor is a good practice. On opening weekend, many processors will see hundreds of deer come in, and a hunter who knows exactly how they want their deer processed will help keep things moving for everyone.

It may also be a good time to invest in a grinder, vacuum sealer and a few other tools to debone and process deer at home. It’s not hard to do, but it does take some extra effort that many people would rather leave to a butcher.”

Helpful video processing tips and techniques can be found online on YouTube.

Additional helpful tips on game processing and cooking can also be found at www.agfcnaturecenter.com.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures 10/08/20

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:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County saw a single increase over the past 24 hours, raising to 11. Total confirmed cases also grew by one to 1,218. Deaths remain at 19.

In neighboring counties, active cases in Little River County decreased by two to 12. Total cases increased by one to 375. Deaths remain at 27.

Howard County active cases decreased by six on Wednesday to 15. Total confirmed cases were adjusted by one to 503. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases increased by five to 27 over the past 24 hours. Total cases grew by 11 to 297. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, active cases in McCurtain County increased by four to 149. Total confirmed cases rose by nine to 1,368. Deaths remained at 35.

Across the state, Arkansas reported an additional 809 cases on Wednesday raising the state’s cumulative total to 88,880. Active cases of COVID-19 saw a net decrease of 22 to a new total of 6,686. Deaths grew by 13 to 1,482.

Arkansas governor issues new directives for nursing home visitation 10/08/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

New directives in Arkansas will allow more people to see their loved ones in long-term care facilities. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the modified COVID-19 restrictions at a news conference Tuesday, minutes before announcing the state has hit its highest number of virus hospitalizations.

The new guidelines allow patients at long term health care facilities to have visitation if a health care provider approves it for medical treatment or if they are in compassionate care situations, like hospice. There will also be expanded visitation for facilities that meet the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Those guidelines include no new positive cases of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days. The facility must also screen every visitor, employee, contractor and vendor entering the building and restricting access to anyone who does not pass the screening process.

“These visits are critical to the well-being of the residents and families, and we believe the measures put in place will improve the lives of impacted families,” Hutchinson said.

The full guidelines are available online at healthy.arkansas.gov

Sevier County Justice of the Peace, lifelong resident of SW Arkansas passes  10/07/20

Sevier County Justice of the Peace Charles Keels passed away Sept. 29. He was a part of local governance in Sevier County since 2002.

DE QUEEN – A Sevier County Justice of the Peace and lifelong resident of Southwest Arkansas passed away last week. Charles Keels, Senior, passed away at the age of 74 on Sept. 29 in De Queen.

A well-known and well-liked resident of De Queen, Keels served in the United States Army and married his wife, Evelyn, in Lockesburg in 1967. Keels was a master electrician, working three decades for Southwest REA and as owner of Keels Electric in De Queen. He was a mason and represented the Second District on the Sevier County Quorum Court for many years. He was first elected to the seat in 2002 and held it until his passing last month. Those who knew him remember Keels as a kind and humorous man who enjoyed fishing, hunting and spending time with family.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said Keels’ commitment to local governance extended beyond the Second District he represented. Keels took into consideration matters which would affect all of Sevier County. Ray also lauded Keels as a man who would do anything he could to help another individual.

Keels is survived by his wife of 52 years, Evelyn, as well as one son, Charles Keels, Junior, and a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Funeral services for Keels will be held on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. in the Chandler Funeral Home Chapel. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. this Friday at the funeral home.

Passing of local justice of the peace will require special appointment by Arkansas governor to Sevier County Quorum Court  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – The passing of Justice of the Peace Charles Keels on Sept. 29 leaves the District 2 seat currently vacant on the nine-member quorum court of Sevier County.

In the event of a vacancy such as this, the seat will be filled through a special appointment made by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. The Sevier County Quorum Court will vote at his next meeting on Oct. 12 to official declare a vacancy on the legislative body. Following that vote the governor will be able to declare a special appointment to Keels’ former seat on the quorum court.

The individual appointed to the position will serve in that role until the next general election. That individual cannot seek election to the quorum court following this special appointment period.

District 2 on the Sevier County Quorum Court centers around the western and southern portions of De Queen. More information on the appointment process will be provided next week following the meeting on the Sevier County Quorum Court on Monday.

De Queen City Council votes in support of Issue 1 on General Election ballot; approves Tara Athey to Planning Commission  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council met in regular session Tuesday night to officially show its support for Issue 1 on the Arkansas November General Election and to take care of several other items of city business.

The city council voted unanimously on an ordinance in support of Issue 1. This issue seeks to make permanent a half-cent statewide sales tax used to fund road improvement projects across Arkansas. The tax is currently in place but will sunset in 2023. Issue 1 seeks to make that tax permanent.

Under the tax’s existing funding structure, 70 percent of the collected revenue will go towards state road projects. The remaining 30 percent is split evenly between Arkansas cities and counties. De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said that equates to around $125,000 in additional funding for the city each year. Given the ever rising costs of road construction, Brown said those state funds are a shot in the arm for local infrastructure improvement projects.

The ordinance passed by the De Queen City Council simply expresses its desire to see the tax continue, and highlights the loss it would pose if the tax expires. Voters across Arkansas will decide Issue 1 during this year’s General Election on Nov. 3.

In other business, the city council approved Tara Athey to the De Queen Planning Commission. Brown said Athey’s experience serving on local boards, including the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce, and her experience as a real estate agent will serve the planning commission well.

The city council also approved levying the city’s standard 5.4 millage rate. That includes 5 mills for general funds and .4 mills for the city’s firemen pension. Also approved was the 2018 legislative audit and a $7,000 appropriation to repair and replace fencing around the city’s water tower sites.

Finally, city officials introduced two new employees during Tuesday’s meeting: Chris Turner, a native of Lockesburg who will serve as De Queen’s newest police officer. Turner previously served for years at Arkansas Central University and will replace officer Jarrin Platt, who recently resigned.

Also introduced was Clint Young, who will replace Mike Sims as superintendent of the De Queen wastewater department. Sims is currently the longest serving city employee. He plans to retire next month after 37 years with the city. Young will take over as superintendent following Sims’ retirement.

City officials cancelled the council’s next scheduled meeting in October and will meet again next month.

Election information on COVID-19 measures in place; voters reminded of electioneering laws  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Clerk’s Office and the Sevier County Election Commission is informing voters that election officials are ensuring this year’s election will be not just a smooth process for voters, but a safe one as well.

A number of protective measures will be in place with everyone’s health and voting rights in mind. Poll workers will wear masks and shields to protect themselves and voters. No-contact procedures are in place for the comfort of all voters.

Voting equipment will be sanitized frequently and six-foot markers will be placed to ensure CDC social distancing. Doorkeepers will be located at each polling place with a quick, voluntary questionnaire to determine COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.

A separate voting machine will be installed at each polling place for anyone who feels ill on election day. Voters will be asked, but not required, to wear face coverings.

The Sevier County Clerk’s Office stresses that no one will be discouraged from voting on Nov. 3.

Election officials are also reminding voters of certain electioneering guidelines and laws. State election law prohibits voters from wearing campaign t-shirts, caps or buttons when entering a polling location. Voters who wear items displaying campaign material will be asked to remedy the situation before voting.

In addition, all campaign type material must be at least one hundred feet from the entrance to a polling place. This includes bumper stickers and campaign signs on vehicles.

Sevier County voters seeking additional information are welcome to contact the County Clerk’s office at 642-2852.

DQPD, McDonald’s in De Queen celebrating National Coffee with a Cop Day  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – McDonald’s in De Queen and the De Queen Police Department will celebrate National Coffee with a Cop Day today by greeting community members in the drive through and passing out free coffee. Celia Montgomery, the local McDonald’s owner and operation, said as local small business owners, they are always looking for opportunities to support the local community. She said this partnership with the DeQueen Police Department will continue to build community relationships while following all national and local social distancing guidelines.

Officers from the De Queen Police Department will greet drive-thru customer and hand out free coffee this morning from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the McDonald’s restaurant in De Queen.

“While Coffee with a Cop may look a little different this year due to the pandemic, I’m proud to continue supporting stronger relationships between police officers and our community,” said local McDonald’s Owner/Operator Celia Montgomery. “I’m happy that we can continue to do that this year while still prioritizing the health and safety of our customers and employees.”

Montgomery said her McDonald’s restaurant in De Queen will continue to look for additional opportunities to work with local law enforcement offices throughout the year to encourage stronger relationships between police officers and community members.

De Queen Trunk-or-Treat is still on for 2020; ADH issues guidelines for Halloween trick-or-treaters  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – Volunteers with De Queen’s 2020 Halloween Trunk or Treat said this year’s event is still a go. In fact, after last year’s success, the event will be moving to the Sportsplex to accommodate even more activities and visitors. The event is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31.

Members of the community are invited to host a car or game at this year’s Trunk or Treat. There is no cost to enter a car or activity. Organizers are holding a candy drive to have as much candy donated for this event as possible. Anyone wanting to donate candy for the event can do so at Meraki Hair Studio, Top Line or Peak Therapy in the Town North Shopping Center.

Set up time for Trunk or Treat participants is 2:30. There will be a contest for best decorated car voted on by the kids. For more information and a sign up sheet, visit the De Queen Trunk or Treat event page on Facebook. You can also contact Alicia Gonzalez at 784-0628.

During his weekly briefing on Tuesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson outlined some guidelines from the Arkansas Department of Health for Halloween as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The state health department is suggesting that trick-or-treaters do the following:

Wear a cloth face covering instead of a costume mask alone or on top of your cloth face covering

Limit the number of houses children visit

Only eat factory-wrapped candy that has been wipe with a sanitary wipe

Low-risk activities include: carving and decorating pumpkins, decorating your house, having a virtual costume contest

The CDC released its Halloween guidance in September which included discouraging door-to-door trick-or-treating and attending costume parties or haunted houses.

In late September, the governor made it clear he would not cancel Halloween and stressed that if guidelines are followed, “then it’ll ought to be a safe Halloween.”

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County did not increase or decrease over the past 24 hours and remain at 10. Total confirmed and probable cases saw a slight increase to 1,217. Deaths remain at 19.

In neighboring counties, active cases in Little River County remained unchanged at 14. Total cases increased by one to 374. Deaths remain at 27.

Howard County active cases remained at 21 on Tuesday. Total confirmed cases grew by one to 504. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases stayed at 22 over the past 24 hours. Total cases grew by ofive to 286. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, active cases in McCurtain County decreased by three to 145. Total confirmed cases rose by 10 to 1,359. Deaths increased by one to 35.

Youth fishing clubs invited to apply for project awards  10/07/20

LITTLE ROCK – With schools back in session and summer fishing tournaments beginning to wane, many youth fishing organizations are looking for ways to keep everyone’s thoughts on the water. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a special award available that’s a great way to keep youth engaged in the outdoors and offers them a way to earn a few dollars for their fishing club.

Created in 2017, the Youth Tournament Fishing Organization Aquatic Habitat Program enables any fishing tournament organization affiliated with an Arkansas junior high, high school or college to apply for an award ranging from $500 to $1,000 for building and sinking brush piles or engaging in other habitat improvements in Arkansas lakes.

There’s no restriction from the AGFC on how the team spends the money. It can be used to pay for jerseys, equipment, travel expenses, or anything else the team and school decide upon to benefit the club.

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

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

The grant opportunity is open to any fishing club affiliated with a high-school, middle school or college. Applicants should submit a proposal before beginning work on their habitat project to ensure their efforts are legal.

Additionally, the team must supply the AGFC with the coordinates of the habitat they placed for the program.

Applications are available at http://www.agfc.com/

Corps of Engineers resuming fee collections at day use recreation areas  10/07/20

LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District is resuming the collection of fees at several day use recreation areas. Fee collections were suspended earlier this year when recreation areas were closed due to COVID-19 precautions.

USACE collects fees at its day use swimming beaches, picnic areas and boat launch ramps. Fees are also collected for camping and for Special Use Permits, which cover events, facilities and group activities.

While visiting USACE recreation areas, visitors are encouraged to practice social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precautions required and recommended by local, state and federal authorities. CDC guidance on visiting parks and recreation facilities can be found online at https://www.cdc.gov/

Local, state and federal law enforcement team up for campaign against distracted driving  10/07/20

LITTLE ROCK – Beginning this week and continuing through October 12th, Arkansas law enforcement officers will join forces with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to participate in a high visibility enforcement effort directed at drivers violating distracted driving laws.

Arkansas has joined the national “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” operation formed to stop distracted driving.  Police and sheriff’s departments are spreading a unified message that distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone operating a motor vehicle on Arkansas roadways.

Between 2012 and 2018, nearly 23,000 people died as the result of motor vehicle crashes attributed to distracted driving, according to federal records.  While there were 2,841 deaths from crashes caused by distracted driving during 2018, a 12 percent decrease from the previous year, law enforcement agency leaders say additional emphasis devoted to stopping violators is still needed.

Millennials and older Generation Z drivers have become the most egregious offenders of texting while driving.  A comparison of statistics indicate that since 2007, drivers 16 – 24 years of age have been using handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle in greater numbers of instances than older drivers have.  During 2018, eight percent of the people killed among teenage drivers were distracted at the time of the crashes.

Arkansas law enforcement and NHTSA urge Arkansas motorists to lay their phones aside while driving and practice the following suggestions, ensuring everyone remains safe:

-While driving, if you’re expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park the vehicle in a safe location.  Once the vehicle is safely off the road and parked, it’s safe to text.

-Ask your passenger to be a “designated texter”.  Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls and messages.

-Do not engage in social media scrolling, reading or messaging while driving.

-Cell phone use is habit forming.  Activate your phones’ “Do Not Disturb” feature or place the phone in the trunk or an out of reach location until you reach your destination.

-Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal. Break the cycle.

Remember: U Drive. U Text. You Pay.  For more information on distracted driving, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov

Nominations now being accepted for Arkansas Food Hall of Fame  10/07/20

LITTLE ROCK – The Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced this week that the nomination period for the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame is now open.

Nominations will remain open through the 31st of this month. The statewide program is celebrating its fifth year of recognizing the legendary restaurants, proprietors and food-themed events from every part of the state. The annual event seeks to spark a unique conversation about food and how it relates to Arkansas’s heritage.

Nominations are being accepted at ArkFoodHOF.com in five categories:

-The Arkansas Food Hall of Fame award recognizes those long-standing restaurants that have become legendary attractions in Arkansas.

-The roprietor of the Year award honors a chef, cook and/or restaurant owner in Arkansas who has made significant achievements in the food industry.

-The Food-Themed Event award honors a community food-themed event or festival that makes our state a great place to live and visit.

– The Gone But Not Forgotten award remembers the collective culinary legacy of a once-and always influential Arkansas restaurant that has since ceased operations.

– And finally People’s Choice, which awards and identifies the public’s favorite. This award is truly in the hands of Arkansans. The restaurant or food truck that receives the highest number of votes wins.

Every person has a story to tell when it comes to food and these nominations are the perfect time to share your Arkansas food experience. More than 1,450 submissions were received from all 75 Arkansas counties last year, more than double from the previous year. Winners will be chosen this winter by a special committee of Arkansans who are historians, chefs, foodies and food authors. Honorees and finalists will be announced at a special ceremony in 2021.

Governor Hutchinson proclaims October as Farm to School Month  10/07/20

Governor Asa Hutchinson has proclaimed October as Arkansas Farm to School Month. This recognition is part of nationwide efforts to connect schools, early childhood education sites, and other organizations with farms to bring local, healthy food to children.
The theme of this year’s Farm to School month is “Celebrating Local!” The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has created a media and promotion toolkit to help schools, early childhood education sites, farms, and others share information about Arkansas Farm to School Month. Find the toolkit and more information about Arkansas Farm to School Month online at https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/
“The Arkansas Farm to School program has experienced tremendous growth over the past year,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “We celebrate its successes this month by applauding the efforts of those involved in bringing local food to children. From the farmer who produces food to the educators and parents who teach children about gardening, cooking, and nutrition, all are critical to the creation and sustainability of strong local food systems.”
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Heifer USA are also “Celebrating Local!” by hosting a virtual farm tour on October 28, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. on YouTube Live. Attendees will virtually tour Heifer Ranch’s certified organic production gardens, hear expert advice on gardening best practices, and celebrate local successes from across the state. Attendees will be able to ask questions and interact throughout the live event.
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit agriculture.arkansas.gov.

GROUNDBREAKING FOR NEW HOSPITAL IS NOV. 6; BOARD TO BEGIN SEARCH FOR HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR NEXT MONTH  10/02/20

The full audio story is available here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Sevier County Medical Center will be held Nov. 6. After more than a year in the making, construction will soon begin.

Big news for the area’s new hospital following yesterday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors – a groundbreaking date has been officially set.

After more than a year of organizing and working through a global pandemic, local officials are just about ready for construction to begin. An official groundbreaking ceremony will be held next month on Nov. 6 to inaugurate the construction phase of the Sevier County Medical Center. This is a big moment for the new hospital, said Dr. Steve Cole, director of the hospital’s board of governors.

Of course, this time of year, weather has a way of affecting any organized event. So, a backup date of Nov. 9 was decided in case of inclement weather. The board of governors is extending an invite to local and state elected officials, construction managers and other groups instrumental in getting the hospital from theory to fact.

The board of governors approved another major step in getting things rolling in time for the expected opening of the hospital in early 2022. That’s hiring an administrator to oversee operations of the Sevier County Medical Center and the construction phase.

Board members voted to begin advertising for the position in next month with hopes to have a hire in place by early next year. A salary range of $150,000 to $200,000 was discussed, but an exact figure was ultimately left out and will be dependent on experience and talent. Qualifications for the CEO position include graduate work in an accredited program in hospital administration and a minimum of three to five years in a senior operational role in a hospital or similar entity.

The position would oversee the more than 100 employees expected to work at the new hospital.

Given the area’s experience with previous hospital administration, Dr. Cole said the board will be extremely selective in who it chooses for the position.

The hope is to find someone from Arkansas who understands the state, its residents and their specific health challenges and needs.

Dr. Cole and Sevier County Judge Greg Ray also provided an update on the new hospital’s finances. Bonds to fund construction of the hospital were sold last month. The sale officially closes Oct. 22 with that money entering the hospital’s bank account immediately thereafter. All-in-all, the bond sale collected over $22 million for construction.

The one-cent sales tax passed by Sevier County voters last year to pay for the new hospital continues to be strong. Despite expectations in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, sales tax collections in Sevier County have hit record levels this year. That included $189,000 in August and over $193,000 in September. Dr. Cole said that’s credit to Sevier County residents, who are choosing to shop local and in effect ensure the hospital has a strong start.

A few other items were approved during the meeting, including the addition of several more negative pressure rooms within the hospital. These rooms use specialized airflow techniques to ensure the isolation of infectious diseases or contaminants within a particular room. Instead of spreading that material through the facility’s ventilation system, a negative pressure room localizes potentially contaminated air and forces it through a dedicated exhaust system where it can be harmlessly released from the building. The importance of these rooms became increasingly evident under the current pandemic.

The board then briefly discussed a potential walking trail around the hospital. Dr. Cole said the board was approached by a donor who was willing to pay for this addition to the hospital grounds.

Finally, Bruce Jackson, chairman of the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation, provided an update on the group’s latest meeting. The foundation is an auxiliary group formed to provide an organized setting for community members to both volunteer and donate in support of the new hospital. Jackson said the foundation has already received donations from community members for that cause. The foundation meets the second Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in the De Queen Farm Bureau boardroom.

The Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors will meet again on Nov. 5. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held the following day at the site of the new hospital.

HOSPITAL BOARD APPROVES SAFE HAVEN “BABY BOX”  10/02/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Jim Smith of De Queen discusses a baby box during August’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. A baby box allows mothers to safely, anonymously and legally abandon a baby in a protected environment. The baby would then be given to the Department of Human Services for adoption. The baby box is designed to enhance the survival of unwanted babies. Smith’s goal of seeing a baby box installed at a local facility came to fruition on Oct. 1, when the hospital board agreed to install one at the new facility.

Imagine if there was a way to help prevent the death of abandoned babies in the local area. That’s exactly what one De Queen resident and members of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors are hoping to accomplish with the addition of a Safe Haven baby box at the new hospital.

The hospital board voted during its meeting Thursday 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.

Abandonment of newborn children is a hideous problem, but a tool like the baby box can mean the difference between the baby’s death or survival. The baby box is typically located at a public facility which is manned 24-hours. There is no location in Sevier County which meets the requirements. That is, until the new hospital is completed.

Board members said the box would fully serve its purpose if it saved the life of just one 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.

The baby box idea was first raised locally by Jim Smith of De Queen during the hospital board’s meeting in August. A former De Queen police chief, Smith discussed how his first case involved the death of an abandoned infant child. It was something he saw far to often during his career, and it’s something that left a deep mark on him.

Smith said the problem was alleviated somewhat by laws that now allow mothers to legally and voluntarily surrender a child who is 30 days old or younger. But, that still leaves the question of where to bring that baby, especially after-hours or on weekends.

Once 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.

The cost to install the baby box and train local professionals is around $15,000.

Smith asked the hospital board to consider allowing installation of a baby box on the property of the new medical center. Yesterday, they agreed to put one in place.

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.

GROUNDBREAKING FOR NEW HOSPITAL IS NOV. 6; BOARD TO BEGIN SEARCH FOR HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR NEXT MONTH  10/02/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

September was another wet month for the listening area. In fact, it’s been an extremely wet year and there’s likely more to come.

Rainfall totals were nearly seven inches in September. That may not seem like a lot after the 13 and a half inches of rain that fall in August. In fact, August’s rainfall was 600 percent more than the monthly average. Leave it to 2020 where you can’t even depend on a dry August.

Nonetheless, rainfall in September combined with the rest of the year totals more than 66 inches. The yearly average is 51 inches. So, we’re way above normal. And as any longtime resident of the area knows, some of the wettest weather is still ahead. There’s a slight chance of rain for the listening area this Saturday. That’s likely just a taste of many more wet days to come.

While the weather has resulted in many flash flood alerts and even a tropical storm warning in August, it’s also had some beneficial effects. Forest fires in this part of the state have been almost non-existent. That’s a great thing, considering the devastation seen in recent weeks along the West Coast due to raging wildfires.

Anyone with hay pastures hasn’t had much difficulty growing grass this year. They probably just had a lot of trouble getting to it. Haying a pasture isn’t fun when even your tractor wants to get stuck in the mud.

So, if you’re in the listening area, don’t retire those umbrellas just yet. We may be already above the yearly average, but mother nature is sure to bring a lot more rain before 2020 is said and done.

DE QUEEN TRUNK OR TREAT ON FOR HALLOWEEN  10/02/20

DE QUEEN – Volunteers with De Queen’s 2020 Halloween Trunk or Treat said this year’s event is still a go. In fact, after last year’s success, the event will be moving to the Sportsplex to accommodate even more activities and visitors. The event is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31.

Members of the community are invited to host a car or game at this year’s Trunk or Treat. There is no cost to enter a car or activity. Organizers are holding a candy drive to have as much candy donated for this event as possible. Anyone wanting to donate candy for the event can do so at Meraki Hair Studio, Top Line or Peak Therapy in the Town North Shopping Center.

Set up time for Trunk or Treat participants is 2:30. There will be a contest for best decorated car voted on by the kids. For more information and a sign up sheet, visit the De Queen Trunk or Treat event page on Facebook. You can also contact Alicia Gonzalez at 784-0628.

HARVEST FOOD BANK TO HOLD DISTRIBUTION IN LOCKESBURG OCT. 14  10/02/20

LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank will host a food giveaway directly from their truck on Wednesday, Oct. 14 in Lockesburg. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia Street.

With CDC precautions and recommendations against COVID-19 still in place, Harvest is taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as drive-thru distributions. Recipients are asked not to leave their vehicle. Food will be loaded directly into their vehicle.

Photo ID and proof of address are required to verify recipients are residents of Sevier County. Commodities are limited to one box per household and two households per vehicle. Last year, Harvest distributed 3.2 million meals and served over 60,000 individuals in Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas.

ROLLING RALLY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP IN DE QUEEN TOMORROW  10/02/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Republican Party will hold a rolling rally this Saturday in support of Incumbent President Donald Trump. Anyone interested is invited to come by the De Queen Sportsplex on Oct. 3 to watch or participate in the event.

Organizers say the rally will center around a parade including cars, motorcycles, tractors and even boats decorated in red, white and blue to show their support for President Trump. The rally will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through 1 that afternoon.

For more information, see the Sevier County Republican Party on Facebook or email Chairman Monte Bartek at mbartek@windstream.net

CENTERPOINT CUSTOMERS WILL SEE UTILITY BILL DECREASE  10/02/20

Customers of CenterPoint Energy will likely notice some reduction in their monthly utility bills starting October.

According to a news release sent by CenterPoint Energy Thursday, the new rate will total a decrease of around 4.2 percent in their total natural gas bill. CenterPoint said that equates to a little over $2 for the average residential customer.

CenterPoint Energy provides natural gas to about 400,000 residential and business customers in Arkansas. CenterPoint Energy says customers who may have difficulty paying their natural gas bills to set up a payment plan now so their bills don’t become so large they struggle to pay them later. To discuss payment options, call 800-992-7552.

WINGS OVER ARKANSAS PROGRAM SEEKS TO INCREASE BIRDWATCHING OPPORTUNITIES IN THE STATE  10/02/20

Submitted by AGFC

With the fall migration of many bird species beginning, birdwatching enthusiasts and educators are just as excited as the most avid waterfowl hunter. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is hoping to bring more birders into the watchable wildlife ranks. After 20 years the AGFC’s Wings Over Arkansas program has been revamped and is ready to share the outdoors with more people than ever before.

The program rewards birdwatchers for the number of different species they document in their birdwatching adventures with special certificates of recognition and pins they can display as they move up in the ranks.

Participants in this free program receive an Arkansas Bird checklist as well as a free Arkansas Backyard Birds pocket guide to help them identify common species in The Natural State. The guide includes handy information to help you get started, including links to popular websites and apps to make your birding efforts more rewarding.

According to AGFC migratory bird experts, the program is great entertainment for people from all walks of life. Educators can also adapt the materials to their classroom studies to help engage with students who may be learning on virtual platforms. The AGFC said it’s seen great success introducing everyone from school-aged children to retired individuals at assisted-living communities to the outdoors with the help of the program.

The new Arkansas Backyard Birds pocket guide is filled with new, colorful images of the most common species found in Arkansas and interesting tidbits about their behavior and habits.

Visit www.agfc.com/wingsoverar for more information on the program and downloadable materials, or you may call 501-223-6352 to request free printed guidebooks and brochures to get started.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES  10/02/20

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 no change in its active COVID 19 caseload, which remains at seven Cumulative cases since the start of the pandemic did not change either, staying at 1,193. Recoveries total 1,168. Deaths did not increase and remain at 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two additional active cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, raising the total to 12. Total confirmed cases grew by two to 347. Deaths remain at 21.

Howard County active cases increased by four yesterday to a total of 10. Total confirmed cases grew by seven to 468. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases saw a single increase to 15. Total cases grew by four to 270. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported two less active cases on Thursday. That brings the total of active cases of COVID-19 in McCurtain County to 144. Total confirmed cases grew by 12 to 1,321. Deaths remain at 34.

Across the state, an additional 921 cases were reported on Thursday, raising Arkansas’ cumulative total to 81,531. Confirmed active cases grew by 179 to 6,552. Deaths increased by 15 to 1,238.

ARKANSAS GATOR HUNT ENDS WITH 170 TAKEN; 72 FROM LITTLE RIVER AND MILLWOOD LAKE  10/01/20

Submitted by AGFC

Travis Bearden, Gary Bearden, Cody Bearden and Tommy Kelley took an alligator that measured a half-inch shy of 14 feet and weighed 800 pounds. The length and weight were verified by AGFC personnel. The alligator is believed to be the longest ever harvested in Arkansas – and definitely the longest since the state has had an alligator season. It was taken on Merrisach Lake near Arkansas Post last weekend.

Arkansas hunters harvested more alligators than ever before in the 2020 alligator season, which was held the third and fourth weekends in September in three hunting zones in the lower half of the state. Included in that harvest was the longest alligator taken since the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began setting an annual alligator hunting season. Hunters also harvested 72 from Little River and Millwood Lake.

Collectively, 170 alligators were taken in the state on both public and private land. The previous record for alligator harvest was the 98 taken in the 2017 season, according to Mark Barbee, an AGFC wildlife regional supervisor in southeast Arkansas and coordinator of the alligator hunt.

An alligator believed to be the longest ever harvested in Arkansas – and definitely the longest since the state has had an alligator season – was taken on Merrisach Lake near Arkansas Post last weekend. The AGFC does not maintain an official state record on alligators but has recorded data on length since beginning the annual alligator harvest in 2007. The alligator came in half an inch shy of 14 feet and weighed a whooping 800 pounds.

Alligator hunting is by permit only in Arkansas. The AGFC issued 38 public hunting permits, with hunting allowed only on designated areas of the state. Those areas included the Little River below Millwood Lake and Millwood Lake itself. According to the AGFC, 72 alligators were harvested from Little River and Millwood Lake. Eight were taken on public land and the rest on private land.

UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN DE QUEEN WELCOMES NEW PASTOR AND RETURNS TO IN-PERSON WORSHIP FOR FIRST TIME IN SIX MONTHS  10/01/20

The full audio interview is here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

This past Sunday the United Methodist Church of De Queen held its first in-person worship – the first one in over half a year.

The congregation had been meeting for months before then online through its own YouTube channel. Like other churches, the local Methodist church postponed services in the spring as the COVID-19 pandemic swept over the country. Sunday was an exciting day not just because members were once again able to worship together. It also marked the first opportunity some had to meet Stephen Copley, the church’s newest pastor.

Copley joined the church in July after 13 years with the United Methodist Church Board of Global Ministries. That tenure included three years in North Little Rock. Born in Oklahoma, Copley moved to Gentry, Arkansas at an early age and has considered himself a true Arkansan ever since.

Copley said his calling to enter ministry began at an early age.

Copley graduated high school from Gentry and then moved to Fayetteville to attend the University of Arkansas. Life got busy and Copley, while not forgetting that early calling, had to focus on college.

But it was early on in college when the idea of entering the ministry returned. Copley faced some critical challenges finding housing close to the campus or even a ride to and from classes. It was one of those stressful moments where the problems just seem to pile up. But Copley turned to God, asked for help and received it. He was able to find housing and transportation to college. It was at that moment he knew he needed to fully devote his life to God and church. One of the themes Copley has always carried with him is that God is with us, for the big things and the small.

Copley has now been a pastor with the United Methodist Church for the past 35 years. After graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, he moved to Georgia and began his first pastorship in 1985. The Methodist Church regularly moves pastors to different churches as needed. For Copley, that included a combined four years of ministry in the United Kingdom.

Copley and his wife, Judi, came to De Queen after the local Methodist Church’s former pastor, Mark Cloninger, relocated to Saline County to head several churches there.

Moving to a new area to lead a new church presents plenty of interesting changes on its own. But, in the middle of a pandemic with in-person worship sessions postponed, well, that’s a situation no one could have expected or prepared for a year ago. Despite the new setting and despite COVID-19, Copley said he fell immediately in love the area and congregation.

One of his immediate tasks was the formation of a reopening committee to ensure in-person service could resume while also following health guidelines. Again, not something they teach you in seminary. But something every pastor in the United States has had to consider. In the meantime, he called, visited and spoke with as many members of his new congregation as he could. When Copley and the reopening committee decided to return to worship services on Sept. 27, excitement was really strong among his congregation.

Like every pastor, Copley brings his own style to ministry and worship. Over his years with the United Methodist Church he’s tried to develop a close, personal and heartfelt manner of church leadership.

Copley invites anyone interested to reach out to him and the church – whether they’re longtime members who no longer attend, or someone looking for a new or first-time church home.

The United Methodist Church of De Queen is located at 424 W. Heynecker Avenue. The church office is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and again from 1-3 p.m. Worship services are held on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Call 642-2038 or visit the church’s Facebook page for more information.

TODAY IS LAST DAY TO RETURN FREE/REDUCED SCHOOL MEAL APPLICATIONS 10/01/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Today is the last day for parents to return their child’s free and reduced school meal forms.

Although all students in Arkansas are eligible for free meals at school through the end of the semester, administrators with area school districts say it’s vital parents turn in those forms.

The completed registration serves two very important roles, district officials said: first, it ensures children of low-income families in the school district receive access to free meals or meals with reduced pricing.

Secondly, the more completed registration forms the district receives, the more federal funding it is guaranteed through the national Title 1 program. In the past, De Queen Public Schools has used these resources to enhance and promote technology in the classroom and for other programs that benefit the entire student district.

District officials say around 70 percent of De Queen’s students qualify for either a free or reduced-price meal. But this year completed registration forms have been returned in fewer numbers than in the past.

This is possibly due to the high number of virtual students – around 600, or about a fourth of all De Queen students – not completing their forms. District officials stress virtual students are also eligible for free and reduced school meals.

Thanks to a waiver exemption from the USDA, all students in Arkansas are able to eat breakfast and lunch at school completely for free. But, area schools ask parents not to let this new development stop them from completing the registration. The revenue those forms bring in is critical for a number of projects that benefit all students.

For more information on how to obtain a free or reduced meal application, contact your school’s administration office today or visit their website as most are making the form available online. Again, the deadline to get those turned in is today.

DIERKS SCHOOLS APPROVES PLAN TO INCREASE INTERNET CAPABILITY  10/01/20

DIERKS – The Dierks Board of Education approved a measure during its meeting Monday night to increase Internet access for its students.

The board approved spending $24,600 on the purchase of 54 wireless access points. These internet boosting devices will be installed in each classroom in the Dierks School District.

The wireless access points will give a huge boost to the district’s internet capability. Currently, Dierks’ wireless service can support around 30 devices. With the new access points, that capability will grow to 500 devices at 1,000mbs.

The purchase will be covered by federal funds through the CARE Act.

CADC TO HOST FOOD GIVEAWAY IN DE QUEEN NEXT WEEK  10/01/20

DE QUEEN – The Central Arkansas Development Council will host another emergency food giveaway next week for residents of De Queen. The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 6 and will be held on the De Queen campus of UA Cossatot.

The agency is giving away 50 pounds of meat, vegetables and baking goods to each qualified resident. To protect volunteers and recipients, this event will be held in a drive-thru fashion. Visitors will be asked to remain in their vehicle as food is brought to them.

Recipients must provide photo ID and meet income guidelines. For more information on those guidelines or the event, visit www.cadc.com. You can also call (501) 315-1121.

LOCAL LIBRARIES HIGHLIGHT “BANNED BOOKS WEEK”  10/01/20

DE QUEEN – This Saturday, Oct. 3 is the start of “Banned Book Week” and area libraries invite everyone to come by and learn more about the dangers of book censorship.

Banned Book Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

Stop by the De Queen Library or any other branch of the Sevier County Library System to see their displays and what featured books they have to offer.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES  10/01/20

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 a single increase in its active COVID-19 caseload, for a total of seven. Cumulative cases since the start of the pandemic number 1,193. Recoveries total 1,168. Deaths did not increase and remain at 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported an additional death due to COVID-19, raising the total to 21 since the outbreak began. Active cases increased by two to 10. Total cases increased by three to 345.

Howard County active cases decreased by one to six. Total cases were unchanged at 461. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus remained unchanged at 14. Total cases number 266. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 10 additional active cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday for a total of 146. Total confirmed cases grew by 20 to 1,309. Deaths in McCurtain County remain at 34.

Across the state, an additional 607 cases were confirmed on Wednesday in Arkansas for a cumulative total of 80,610. Active cases decreased by 156 to 6,373. Deaths increased by 19 to 1,223.

In related news, Gov. Hutchinson said that the federal government is buying 150 million rapid testing kits, with Arkansas expected to receive 900,000.

Around 59,000 are expected to ship within 10 days.

State officials will make a plan on how to distribute the testing kits across the state – with an emphasis on students, educators, the prison population and at-risk individuals.

ARKANSAS AG, FTC TEAM UP TO COMBAT DEBT COLLECTION SCAMMERS AND AGRESSIVE TACTICS 10/01/20

LITTLE ROCK – If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re one of many Arkansans who have received fake and threatening debt collection calls. It’s a growing issue as scammers’ efforts to target people increase. The Arkansas Attorney General along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and more than 50 federal and state law enforcement partners announced this week an effort to curb this trend. The goal of this initiative, called Operation Corrupt Colelctor, is to protect consumers in Arkansas and nationwide from phantom debt collection and abusive, threatening debt collection practices.

The campaign includes both law enforcement operations and an outreach campaign aimed at consumers in Arkansas. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge reminded residents in the state of a few things to keep in mind if you get a debt collection phone call.

-Debt collection phone calls are only allowed to a consumer’s home during the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Legitimate debt collectors cannot harass, intimidate, threaten, or embarrass consumers and cannot make false or misleading statements, including false threats of imprisonment or criminal charges.

-If a caller requests payment of a suspicious debt, then request a written verification of the debt.  A legitimate collection agency is governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  When asked by a consumer, it must provide written verification of the debt, including the name of the original creditor.

-Keep detailed records, and report the debt collector to the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Arkansas State Board of Collection Agencies if wrongdoing is suspected.

Operation Corrupt Collector initiative includes 54 total enforcement actions brought by the FTC, other federal agencies, and various state agencies against debt collectors engaged in these illegal practices.

In coordination with 46 states, Arkansas joins with the FTC in rolling out new information to help consumers know their rights when it comes to debt collection and what steps to take if they receive a call trying to collect on a debt that they do not recognize.

The FTC has also created a new online dashboard with information about reports received from consumers on debts not owed and abusive and threatening collection practices. So far in 2020, the FTC has received more than 85,000 reports from consumers related to debt collection, and nearly 45 percent of those were related to debts the consumer did not owe or abusive and threatening practices.

FREE VIRTUAL WORKSHOP TO PROVIDE EXPERT TIPS ON GAME CAMERAS  10/01/20

LITTLE ROCK — Game cameras can be a valuable tool for hunters. However, if used the wrong way, they can turn up empty or, worse, blow your hunt.

Arkansas bowhunter, hunting industry pro-staffer and outdoor filmmaker, Tim Endsley, will break down the variety of game cameras on the market, strategies for using them to improve your scouting, and critical errors to avoid in this free online ZOOM workshop hosted through the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center.

The workshop will begin at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6. Click here to register.

Additional workshops offered by Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center are available at the center’s Facebook page:www.facebook.com/centralarkansasnaturecenter.

SEVENTH ANNUAL SEVIER COUNTY HEALTH FAIR IS TODAY  09/30/20

DE QUEEN – Local and state health agencies will host a Health Fair in De Queen today with a variety of free health screenings for area residents.

The event is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. all day today at the Legacy Center in De Queen. The Legacy Center is located in the former First National Bank building on Third Street in downtown De Queen. The health fair is open to everyone but focuses specifically for people who don’t have insurance.

The event is being organized through the local Legacy Initiatives organization and funded through the Arkansas Minority Health Commission. Offices partnering with the event include the Lofton Family Clinic, Dr. Randy Walker and the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation. Volunteers from the De Queen Walk-in Clinic, UA Cossatot, the Lansdell Clinic and Encompass Health will be represented and have volunteers on site to assist with screenings.

A number of check ups, preventative services and health screenings will be provided at absolutely no cost. Those services will be aimed at diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other similar health topics.

Dr. Walker will be offering vaccines and flu shots during the event. A free diabetes class is scheduled for 2 p.m.

A free prostate screening will also be provided to men aged 45 to 75.

Dr. Lofton said all-in-all, the screenings add up to about $500 worth of services but will be provided for free during the event.

Dr. Lofton and other participating healthcare providers say this is a good event to catch up on screenings and other health services that may have been put to the side during the pandemic. Again, that event will be held today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Legacy Center on 121 Third Street in downtown De Queen.

ARDOT ANNOUNCES $20.5 MILLION PROJECT FOR AREA BRIDGE REPLACEMENTS  09/30/20

Over $20 million in infrastructure improvement will be heading to the area next 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 & Bridge Company of Tulsa was awarded the contract.

Construction is expected to begin next 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.

Cheatham said its projects like these which face a threat in funding reductions without the approval of Arkansas’ Issue 1 on this year’s ballot. That measure seeks to turn a current half-cent sunset tax into a permanent tax to fund continued state, city and county road improvement projects. If the measure fails, the current half-cent tax will expire in 2023. Currently, this statewide sales tax is divided 70 percent for state projects and 15 percent for both Arkansas counties and cities. Issue 1 would continue this funding structure.

ARKANSAS AGRICULTURAL PROFILE HIGHLIGHTS INDUSTRY’S IMPORTANCE TO STATE ECONOMY   09/30/20

It may be common knowledge that agriculture is among the strongest pillars of Arkansas’ economy, but the “how’s” and “why’s” can sometimes be a mystery, even to life-long residents.

The Arkansas Agricultural Profile, published by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, offers an explanation of the many facets of agriculture in the state. The 2020 edition is now available for download at uaex.edu. The publication is available at no cost.

Leah English, program associate with the Division of Agriculture, is a member of the small staff of economists and analysts who compile data for the publication each year. She said much of the agricultural data comes from services provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Much of the economic and employment data come from private sector sources.

She said a lot of farmers use this publication, just as a way of knowing where their contributions stand in the state. It’s a way to help explain how important agriculture is to other people in the state. It’s also helpful for legislators, as an effective way to see how vital agriculture is to the state’s economy.

Some important facts highlighted in the 2020 publication:

-Farmland comprises about 42 percent of the state’s land, with more than 42,000 farms covering 14 million acres

-In 2019, Arkansas agriculture contributed approximately $21 billion in added value to the state’s economy

-Agriculture supports more than 268,000 jobs in Arkansas

-About 57 percent of the state is forestland; the timber industry saw about $439 million in cash receipts in 2018

-Arkansas is the No. 1 rice producer in the country; No. 2 in broilers

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS MAY QUALIFY FOR CONCURRENT ENROLLMENT SCHOLARSHIP  09/30/20

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

UA Cossatot is reaching out to qualified high school students to let them know they may qualify for the new Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarship. This scholarship will award eligible high school students $125 per class for up to two concurrent credit courses per semester. These classes would be open to both juniors and seniors. Rules, regulations, and details about the scholarship can be viewed at www.adhe.edu.

There is zero cost to students who enroll in concurrent classes offered during school hours at their high schools. These are taught with high school instructors qualified to teach college courses or programs through the Secondary Career Centers.

Students opting to take additional online college classes above what is offered during their high school day, or outside of the college’s Secondary Career Center, are charged $125 per course. Students who receive the Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarship as a high school junior or senior will receive up to $500 for college classes in one academic year. College officials say that’s a total $1,000 in savings for eight college credit hours.

For more information about the Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarship or UA Cossatot’s concurrent enrollment program, contact UA Cossatot’s High School Programs Department at 870-584-1343.

DEADLINE TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN NOVEMBER ELECTION IS MONDAY, OCT. 5   09/30/20

DE QUEEN – The clock is counting down for citizens in Arkansas who wish to vote in this year’s General Election but have not yet registered to vote.

Citizens who have not registered to vote and want to participate in this year’s presidential election must register by this coming Monday, Oct. 5. If you’ve moved from one Arkansas county to another, you will have until Oct. 30 to transfer your registration.

Early voting is just around the corner and will be held the last two weeks of October at the Community Building in the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.

For those who plan to vote on Election Day, the county will have six voting centers open for use. Those include the De Queen Community Building, the Ben Lomond Community Building, the Lockesburg Methodist Church, the J.L. Walker Fellowship Hall in Horatio, the De Queen Church of Christ and the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative.

For more information or if you have any questions, contact the Sevier County Clerk’s office at 642-2852.

TODAY IS IRS DEADLINE TO CLAIM DEPENDENT FOR ADDITIONAL $500 PANDEMIC RELIEF STIMULUS   09/30/20

Today is the IRS registration deadline for Americans who are eligible for the $500-per-child payment available under the March coronavirus stimulus but failed to get it.

The CARES Act in March allowed $1,200 per person who made $75,000 or less on their most recent tax return and $500 for every dependent under the age of 17. But some people who missed brief windows to file still have not received that $500 per child.

The IRS is urging people who were unable to provide their information in time to receive the child stimulus payment to use the IRS.gov Non-Filers’ tool by the end of today.

Those eligible to provide this information include people with qualifying children who receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement benefits and Veterans Affairs Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefits and did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, the IRS said on its website.

The IRS says it anticipates the updated payments will be made by mid-October.

These people were automatically sent their $1,200 payments even if they didn’t file tax returns, but had to use the Non-Filers’ tool to request the $500 dependent amount. They were given short windows to file earlier this year, but many missed it and were told they’d have to wait until next year.

The agency is also reminding Americans who made little or no income and are not required to file tax returns that they are still eligible for their full stimulus payment. They need to use the Non-Filers’ tool by Oct. 15 if they want to receive their payment this year. Anyone who misses that deadline will have to wait until they file their federal tax return next year.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES  09/30/20

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 no change in its number of confirmed active cases of the virus, which total six. Total cases grew by two to 1,192. Recoveries grew to 1,192 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths remain at 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 decreased by three to eight. Total cases were unchanged at 342. Deaths remain at 20.

Howard County active cases remained unchanged at seven. Total cases grew by one to 461. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, cumulative cases of the virus increased on Tuesday by one to 266. Active cases grew by one to 14. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported nine few active cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday for a total of 136. Total confirmed cases grew by four to 1,289. Deaths in McCurtain County remain at 34.

COUNTY HEALTH UNIT OFFERING EXTENDED HOURS ON TUESDAYS  09/30/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Health Unit will now be offering extended opening hours on Tuesdays. Deborah Hedge, director of the local health unit, said the clinic will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.

The change, effective immediately, was made to benefit individuals who need later appointments. The clinic will retain normal operating hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

The Sevier County Health Unit is located at 304 North Fourth Street in De Queen. For more information, call (870) 642-2535.

LOCAL VETERANS PARTNERING WITH STATEWIDE ORGANIZATION TO PROVIDE SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR SERVICEMEN, WOMEN IN SWAR  09/29/20

The full audio interview is available here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Local veteran advocates are hoping to reach out to servicemen and women in the area who are struggling emotionally in their lives.
September is Suicide Prevention Month in Arkansas and across the nation. Although suicide is an affliction that can affect anyone from any background, veterans are at particular risk. A little outreach can go a long way when it comes to suicide intervention. That’s exactly what local veterans are hoping to accomplish.
Michael Chenowith, a local veteran and member of De Queen’s American Legion Post 54, said the group recently connected with the Arkansas Veteran Suicide Intervention Team, known as “We Are the 22.” That name stems from a study showing on average 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Support is available out there but outreach has been limited in this corner of the state. Chenowith said local veterans want to change that through the “We Are the 22” organization.
“We are the 22” was founded by Mikel Brooks, who fought two combat tours in the Middle East and suffered disabling injuries during his time over there. Brooks said he fell into depression and self-medication and eventually an attempt at taking his own life through overdose. When Brooks woke up, he said he woke up with a vision to help veterans who were suffering through the same emotional and mental issues. Ricky Hendricks, commander of the local American Legion post, said the program is based entirely in Arkansas.
The “We are the 22” organization has intervention teams available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Their mission is to come to a veteran in need and help them through their crisis. Through a partnership between “We are the 22” and Sevier County veterans, local servicemen and women will have a close source of help to turn to.
For more information on the “We Are the 22” program, visitwww.wearethe22.com. Volunteers, both civilian and veteran, are greatly needed. Veterans can call the Arkansas Veteran Crisis Line at 1-855-932-7384. The crisis line is available 24/7.
For more information on this project, or for anyone interested in learning more about the local American Legion and Veteran of Foreign Wars organizations, can contact Ricky Hendricks at (870) 584-8051. The local VFW chapter meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Veterans Hall on 513 Eighth Street in De Queen. The local American Legion post meets on the second Monday at the same location. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m.
TIME STILL AVAILABLE TO REQUEST ABSENTEE BALLOT     09/29/20
DE QUEEN – Voters in Arkansas are still able to request an absentee application and ballot.
Because of the concern surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, anyone who does not want to vote in person this election can request an absentee application. Registered voters must apply to vote absentee. The process is an easy one.

The application form is available by calling the county clerk’s office at (870) 642-2852 or by emailing countyclerk@sevco.ar.gov. The application form will need to be printed and returned via mail to Sevier County Clerk, 115 North Third Street, Room 102, De Queen, AR 71832. Compled applications can also be faxed to 642-3896, or returned via email to countyclerk@sevco.ar.gov

Applications are begin accepted now. Absentee ballots were mailed to voters in Sevier County beginning Sept. 18 but absentee voting continues through election day.. If you choose to handle the process entirely by mail, you are encouraged to return the form as soon as possible. If you plan on submitting your absentee application in person, you must do so by the close of business the day before the election. If submitting by mail or by electronic forms, applications must be received by seven days before the election. If you plan on using mail to complete the whole process, election officials advise you to start as soon as possible to mitigate any potential mail delays.
The ballot itself must be received by the close of business the day before the election. If submitting a ballot through a designated bearer, the bearer must submit the ballot by 7:30 p.m. on election day. Absentee ballots returned via mail must be received by the county clerk’s office by 7:30 p.m. on election day. You may not fax or email a completed ballot.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES; HOWARD COUNTY REPORTS TWO ADDITIONAL DEATHS ON MONDAY     09/29/20
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 no change in its number of confirmed active cases of the virus, which total six. Total cases remained unchanged at 1,190. No additional recoveries where reported over the past 24 hours.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 decreased by two to 11. Total cases were unchanged at 342. Deaths remain at 20.

Howard County confirmed another two additional deaths over past 24 hours, raising the total to 12. Active cases saw a net decrease of two to currently total seven. Total cases number 460.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus increased on Monday by four to a total of 13. Total cases saw an increase to 265. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 145 active cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Total confirmed cases grew by 12 to 1,285. Deaths in McCurtain County remain at 34.

Across the state of Arkansas, health officials reported 786 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 79,521. Active positives decreased by 141 to 6,824. An additional 23 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours for a total of 1,183.

AREA BUSINESS DONATES $2,000 TO CREATE SCHOLARSHIP FUND AT UA COSSATOT    09/29/20

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

Jimmy Carver, left, presents Dustin Roberts of UA Cossatot with $2,000 to fund an athletic scholarship at the college. Carver, owner of Jimmy Carvers’ Refrigeration Heating & Air, said he wanted to support UA Cossatot and its students, especially now because of the economic effects of the pandemic.

UA Cossatot Foundation recently received a $2,000 donation from Jimmy Carvers’ Refrigeration Heating & Air to benefit UA Cossatot Colts athletic scholarships.

The scholarship requirements are that recipients be a UA Cossatot student athlete and have a 3.0 GPA or higher. The UA Cossatot Athletic Director will determine the selection process and number of awards.

Jimmy Carver, owner of Jimmy Carvers’ Refrigeration Heating & Air said he wanted to support UA Cossatot and its students, especially now because of the economic effects of the pandemic. He hopes the scholarship helps student athletes succeed and reduce their expenses so they can focus on their education.

The UA Cossatot Foundation said it welcomes and appreciates any financial gift to support UA Cossatot students, programs, and efforts in providing quality education and services to its students.

UA Cossatot’s Head Coach and Athletic Director, Robert Byrd said he and the athletic program are thankful to Jimmy Carver for establishing the scholarships.

For more information on how to give to the UA Cossatot Foundation, contact Dustin Roberts at 870-584-1172 or droberts@cccua.edu. For information about UA Cossatot’s athletic program, contact Robert Byrd at 870-584-1105 or rbyrd@cccua.edu.

SCMC GROUNDBREAKING EXPECTED TO BEGIN NOV. 1   09/29/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Sevier County residents are likely to see a lot of activity on Highway 71 north of De Queen by the end of next month as construction on the area’s new hospital begins.

Bonds to pay for construction of the Sevier County Medical Center hit the market this month and were scooped up within 24 hours – a sign that investors are willing and ready to put their money in the new project. The bond sale is set to officially close Oct. 22 with funds slated to enter the hospital account immediately thereafter. The bonds raise a little over $22 million for construction of the new hospital.

Once funds are released to the county hospital fund, construction on the medical center can began immediately. Dr. Steve Cole, director of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, said ground breaking is expected to begin Nov. 1. Construction is scheduled for completion in early 2022.

The bonds will be paid back through a one-cent sales tax passed by voters in support of the new hospital last year. Sales tax collections this year have hit record levels, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences. The record sales tax collections show Sevier County residents are shopping locally and ensuring the hospital has a great financial start.

SEVIER COUNTY REPUBLICANS PLANNING ROLLING RALLY IN SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP   09/29/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Republican Party will hold a rolling rally this Saturday in support of Incumbent President Donald Trump. Anyone interested is invited to come by the De Queen Sportsplex on Oct. 3 to watch or participate in the event.

Organizers say the rally will center around a parade including cars, motorcycles, tractors and even boats decorated in red, white and blue to show their support for President Trump. The rally will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through 1 that afternoon.

For more information, see the Sevier County Republican Party on Facebook or email Chairman Monte Bartek at mbartek@windstream.net

JUST TWO DAYS LEFT TO RETURN FREE SCHOOL MEAL APPLICATIONS   09/29/20

DE QUEEN – With just two days left until the deadline, De Queen Public Schools is urging parents to fill out the district’s free and reduced meal program registration. The registration completed two very important roles, district officials said: first, it ensures children of low-income families in the school district receive access to free meals or meals with reduced pricing. Secondly, the more completed registration forms the district receives, the more federal funding it is guaranteed through the national Title 1 program. In the past, De Queen Public Schools has used these resources to enhance and promote technology in the classroom and for other programs that benefit the entire student district.

Although all children in Arkansas are currently eligible for free school meals – thanks to a USDA exemption waiver – districts still need the forms completed and returned.

District officials say around 70 percent of De Queen’s students qualify for either a free or reduced-price meal. Completed registration forms have been returned in fewer numbers than in previous years, officials said. This is likely due to the high number of virtual students – around 600, or about a fourth of all De Queen students – not completing their forms. District officials stress virtual students are also eligible for free and reduced school meals.

For more information on how to obtain a free or reduced meal application, contact your school’s administration office or visit their website as most are making the form available online. The deadline to return the form is Oct. 1.

FLU SHOTS STILL AVAILABLE IN AREA     09/29/20

DE QUEEN – With the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic still ongoing, it may be more important than ever to get your flu shot – and get it early. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone get their flu shot within the next six weeks.

If you missed last week’s Mass Flu Clinic in Sevier County, there’s still other ways to receive an influenza vaccine this year at little to no cost. The vaccine is still available at the Sevier County Health Unit and should be available now or soon at your local doctor office.

Healthy Connections in De Queen announced it has also received flu shots and its ready to distribute them as needed. Most patients are eligible to receive the flu shot at no cost depending on their health insurance coverage. Patients who are insured through the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Part B or most health insurance plans should be able to receive the vaccine for free.

TICKETS AVAILABLE TODAY FOR ASHDOWN-BAUXITE GAME THIS FRIDAY  09/29/20

ASHDOWN – Fans of the Ashdown Panthers will be have access today to a limited number of tickets for this Friday’s game against Bauxite. Tickets will be on sale today only starting at 8 a.m. in the Ashdown Administration Office. There is a limit of two tickets per purchase. Bauxite will honor AAA cards, so if you have one, there is no need for a special ticket. Kickoff for this Friday’s game is scheduled at 7 p.m.

HAVEN’T RECEIVED YOUR COVID STIMULUS PAYMENT? FILE/REQUEST IT BY OCT. 15 OR PAYMENT MAY BE DELAYED UNTIL NEXT YEAR     09/29/20

Tens of millions of Americans have gotten their stimulus payments. But some people are still waiting for relief — either for their dependent children or because they earn too little to file a tax return.

Roughly 9 million people across the country are receiving letters from the IRS about how to claim those missing stimulus checks.

Now, they’re looking at a looming Oct. 15 deadline — if they don’t want to wait well into 2021 to get their money.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (Cares) Act provides economic impact payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for taxpayers filing a joint tax return. The law also includes an extra $500 for each child who was under 17 at the end of 2019. You don’t need earned income or a job to qualify for a stimulus payment, also known as an Economic Impact Payment (EIP).

Under the Cares Act, stimulus payments must be made by Dec. 31. If people don’t receive the money by year’s end, they’ll have to wait to get the money until they file a 2020 federal return next year because the stimulus relief payment is actually an advance credit.

If you don’t normally file a tax return and haven’t received a stimulus payment — up to $1,200 in aid for individuals and $2,400 for married couples — you have until Oct. 15 to use the non-filers tool at irs.gov to get the funds by year’s end.

Those who don’t have access to the online non-filers tool can submit a simplified paper return, which needs to be postmarked by Oct. 15.

You’ll need to download either Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors if you’re over 65.

The instructions also explain how to claim the additional $500 payment for each dependent child under 17.

Something to keep in mind, if someone else can claim you as a dependent on their return, you don’t qualify for a stimulus payment. But if you won’t be claimed as a dependent for this tax year, you may be able to claim the stimulus credit when you file a 2020 return next year.

DEADLINE TO REGISTER TO VOTE IS JUST ONE WEEK AWAY  09/28/20

DE QUEEN – Unfortunately each Election Day, many would-be first-time voters in Arkansas do not have their votes counted because they are not actually registered to vote. The deadline to register to vote in this year’s November election is October 5. The postmark on a mail-in application will be considered the submission date.

Many believed they had registered months before, but failed to follow up when they did not receive a voter ID card from their county clerk. The process of voter registration is convenient, but it also places responsibility on the registrant to ensure the process is completed.

Submitting your voter application at a state agency, in a voter registration drive or through the U.S. Postal Service does NOT guarantee your registration. You should follow up on the status of your registration just as you would on any other personal business matter. Before considering yourself a registered voter, you must receive an acknowledgment of your registration from the county clerk.

To register, you must fill out a paper Voter Registration Application. You can find one at the following locations:

Your local county clerk.

The Arkansas Secretary of State Elections Division at www.sos.arkansas.gov .

Your local revenue or DMV office.

Public library.

Disability agency.

Or Military recruitment office.

If you are registering to vote by mail, you must provide either your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number on your Arkansas Voter Registration Application, or check the box in #9 on the application to indicate that you do not possess either a driver’s license or Social Security number.

If you have moved from one county to another within Arkansas, you must update this information with the county clerk no later than 4 days

prior to Election Day via a Voter Registration Application.

Voters are welcome to call their county clerk and inquire about the status of your application. You may also check your voter registration status online by visiting www.voterview.org.

Amidst the global pandemic, election officials are hard at work to provide safe and secure voting opportunities for Arkansans.

Voting in person on Election Day, early voting, or absentee voting are options available to voters. Early voting begins October 19.

For more information, contact the Sevier County Clerk’s Office at 642-2852. That number in Little River County is (870) 898-7210, (870) 845-7502 in Howard and (479) 394-8123 in Polk County.

TWO ADDITIONAL DEATHS FROM COVID-19 REPORTED OVER WEEKEND  09/28/20

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 two additional deaths on Sunday, raising the total to 18 since the pandemic began. The additional deaths were not, however, matched with an increase in active cases of the virus. Confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in the county actually saw a net decrease over the weekend by two to six currently. Total cases increased by one to 1,190. A total of 1,166 Sevier County residents have contracted the virus and since recovered.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 totaled 13 on Sunday. Total cases grew by a net of four to 342. Deaths remain at 20.

Howard County confirmed two additional deaths over the weekend, raising the total to 10. Active cases saw a net decrease of two to currently total nine. Total cases number 459.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus increased over the weekend by two to nine. Total cases saw an increase to 260. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 146 active cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. Total confirmed cases since the outbreak began number 1,273, surpassing Sevier County which previously led the region in the number of total cases. Deaths in McCurtain County remain at 34.

Across the state of Arkansas, health officials reported 475 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 78,735. Active positives decreased by 62 to 6,965. An additional 23 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours for a total of 1,160.

SEVIER COUNTY HEALTH FAIR WILL BE THIS WEDNESDAY    09/28/20

DE QUEEN – Local and state health agencies will host a Health Fair in De Queen this week with a variety of free health screenings for area residents.

The event is scheduled for this Wednesday, Sept. 30 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Legacy Center in De Queen. The Legacy Center is located in the former First National Bank building on Third Street in downtown De Queen. The health fair is open to everyone but focuses specifically for people who don’t have insurance.

The event is being organized through the local Legacy Initiatives organization and funded through the Arkansas Minority Health Commission. Offices partnering with the event include the Lofton Family Clinic, Dr. Randy Walker and the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation. Volunteers from the De Queen Walk-in Clinic, UA Cossatot, the Lansdell Clinic and Encompass Health will be represented and have volunteers on site to assist with screenings.

A number of check ups, preventative services and health screenings will be provided at absolutely no cost. Those services will be aimed at diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other similar health topics.

Dr. Walker will be offering vaccines and flu shots during the event. A free diabetes class is scheduled for 2 p.m.

A free prostate screening will also be provided to men aged 45 to 75. September is Arkansas Prostate Cancer Awareness month. Health officials stress that prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent survivable if detected early. The American Cancer Society and the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation stress the need for men in Arkansas between the age of 45 and 75 to receive yearly prostate screenings.

Dr. Lofton said all-in-all, the screenings add up to about $500 worth of services but will be provided for free during the event.

ASHDOWN HONORS RETIRING STAFF, EDUCATORS    09/28/20

ASHDOWN – Last week, Ashdown Public Schools held a private reception to honor their 2020 retirees. The retirees were honored for over 499 combined years of service to Ashdown Public Schools.  Superintendent Casey Nichols congratulated those who were able to attend and presented them with plaques as a small token for the time and effort they had each put forth to provide the best education possible for Ashdown students.

We’ve been highlighting some of these dedicated educators and staff members over the last few days. Today we’ll wrap up the list of Ashdown educators who retired this year.

Gail Wade taught the last three years at Ashdown Public Schools with thirteen total years of teaching. At Ashdown High School, she taught Advanced English II and English II. She has many projects planned to keep her busy in retirement as well as travel and books to read.

Katrina Williamson spent an amazing 50 years in the classroom and 45 of those with Ashdown Public Schools. Williamson has taught a wide variety of grades and students levels. She said her style of teaching focused on the fact that all students have the same basic needs, love, understanding, and acceptance. She said students are largely the same, some are just taller than others.  Her fifty years in teaching have been a fantastic journey with thousands of travelers by her side.  During her retirement, she plans to have many more adventures with her husband Jim, lots of yard work, and a larger role being a grandmother.

Finally, Sharlotte Wright worked as an attendance clerk and computer lab manager for 28 years in Ashdown Public Schools.  She said she enjoyed working with her co-workers especially at L.F. Henderson Elementary School.  She will miss getting to see the kids and visiting with them.  She looks forward to spending more time with her family.

HUNTERS ASKED TO BE DEER STAND RESEARCH ASSISTANTS    09/28/20

LITTLE ROCK – Hunters can help the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s wildlife management efforts through the AGFC’s free Deer Hunting Observation Survey available through the AGFC app. The app is available through both the iTunes app store and the Google Play store.

The mobile survey lets hunters record sightings of game species such as deer, bear, quail, turkey, and furbearers and also nongame species such as feral hogs while hunting.

The hunter observation survey has been used since 2004; however, the process went completely electronic in 2014.  The app makes it even easier for the hunter to participate and gives them something else to pursue while in the stand. Even if you don’t see any animals during your hunt, AGFC officials say completing a survey each time you go out provides helpful information about how often species are seen.

In addition to hunter observation data, the AGFC deer program receives biological data collected from approximately 700 Deer Management Assistance Program clubs across the state and other observations. The commission analyzes this information in order to make decisions on deer management by deer zone.

FREE CATTLE MARKET WEBINAR  SCHEDULED FOR TOMORROW      09/28/20

2020 has proven as unpredictable a year for cattle producers as for anyone else. An upcoming webinar from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture aims to shed some light on the coming fall cattle marketing season and help ease some the uncertainty facing Arkansas’ cattle producers.

The hourlong webinar is scheduled for tomorrow, Sept. 29, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. In addition to current market conditions, the webinar will cover factors that affect bid price, calf management, and supplemental feeding for preconditioned marketing and more.

Shane Gadberry, professor of cattle nutrition for the Division of Agriculture, said this year’s event takes place in a notably different market environment from previous meetings and webinars dedicated to fall cattle marketing.

Since August last year Arkansas has seen turmoil in the cattle markets. Gadberry explained the fall of 2019 was associated with a fire at a processing plant. This spring, markets were responding to the stock market and a backlog of cattle in feedlots as processors were working through employee illnesses and worker safety issues due to COVID-19.

With the uncertainty of what a combined flu plus COVID-19 season will look like, cattle producers will want to pay attention to cattle markets and evaluate if marketing sooner or later fits best, Gadberry added.

The webinar will include a discussion of the current supply and demand situation for the beef industry. That discussion will be followed by a look at supply and demand factors that will likely influence fall feeder cattle and cull cow markets.

Panelists will also discuss multiple “sell versus retain” marketing scenarios.

The webinar, which will be presented on the Zoom online conferencing platform, is free to attend, but registration is required. To register and for additional information on the virtual event, visit www.uaex.edu

You can also contact the local Cooperative Extension Service office in your county. In Sevier County, that number is (870) 584-3013.

DUMAS HUNTERS BAG LONGEST ALLIGATOR ON RECORD    09/28/20

DUMAS – A group of Arkansas men hauled in a monster on the last weekend of the state’s alligator hunting season, breaking the record for longest gator caught in Arkansas.

The four men caught the 13-foot, 11.5-inch alligator on Lake Merrisach near Dumas this weekend. The gator weighed in at a whooping 800 pounds.

Arkansas game and fish officials don’t have an actual state record in place, but said the gator was the longest ever measured in the state. The four hunters said it took them two hours to haul in the giant.

Arkansas hosted its first-ever quota-based alligator hunt on private land in the southern half of the state. Licensed hunters were legal to harvest alligators on private land this year if they had permission to hunt the land and as long as the quota hadn’t been met.

No doubt Sevier and Little River Counties are home to some monster alligators and, accordingly, some great hunting opportunities. If you had a chance to bag an alligator locally during this year’s season, let us know. Send a pic to our Facebook page or send it to numberonecountry@yahoo.com

DE QUEEN LOSES ONE OF MOST WELL KNOWN AND RESPECTED BUSINESS LEADERS, KENNETH WAYNE “DINK” GENTRY   09/25/20

The full audio story is available here:
Audio Player

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

2020 has been a difficult year for De Queen’s business community. But this year recently took another tragic and personal turn. On Sept. 19, De Queen lost one of its most well-known, respected and cherished business leaders: Kenneth Wayne Gentry, affectionately known to everyone as Dink. He was 78-years-old.
Dink was born on July 21, 1942 right here in De Queen. Along with just a handful of other leaders, Dink went on to shape De Queen’s modern business community. His legacy included over 60 years as the owner of Gentry’s Trading Post and as a real estate owner and manager. It was a legacy of small beginnings but of well-earned success. Anyone who knew Dink will remember him as a humble and amicable man. Those he leaves behind remember him as a man who would do anything he could to help someone in need, no matter how many chances they needed.
The Great Depression had a huge impact on how Dink’s legacy came to be. He was too young to live through it, but his parents did. They remembered well those hardships. Hardships they never wanted their son to see. He learned early on the importance of working hard, saving money and helping others whenever you could.
That was Bud Gentry. Bud and Jimmy Ray are Dink’s sons. They took a few minutes to speak about Dink and the legacy he leaves behind. Both said they’ll always remember their father as a man who cared about De Queen and its people.
Jimmy Ray said his father always respected Pilgrim’s poultry facility in De Queen. Without it the town would have likely been little more than a gas station in the southwest corner of the state. But it’s also where Dink got his real start in business. Dink had worked with his dad in the log woods but learned quick that wasn’t where he wanted to be.
That initial start allowed Dink to partner in the Trading Post and then buy it outright. He managed it for the next six decades. He was there every day because he carried a work ethic few could match. Dink built the business car by car, sale by sale. Today, there’s hardly a person in Sevier County who can’t say they bought their first car from Dink Gentry.
Although real estate and cars was what Dink became known for, at heart he was a born trader.
Trading was a passion not lost on his sons. Bud shared one story about a lesson they learned from their father, even if it wasn’t exactly what Dink had expected.
Dink was a De Queen man and a community man. He and his late wife, DeLois, along with Mac McDaniel were founders of the Sevier County Toys for Tots campaign. Their hope was to ensure no local child had Christmas without a toy under the tree. He was also a wealth of knowledge on De Queen and its history.
Work was something Dink never truly gave up. He never officially retired and could be seen just about any day at the Trading Post. He’d spend time at the new car dealership his sons’ founded and later expanded, Gentry Chevrolet, just to make sure things were running right. Days off were rare moments Dink didn’t see many of. He’d even offer to run the dealership himself on holidays it was scheduled to be closed.
That’s the ethic Dink carried always carried with him, right up to his passing last Saturday. In fact, he requested his funeral be held on a day no one would have to miss work to attend.
Dink was the kind of man that can’t be replaced. He was one of several men who’ve passed away in recent years. Men who helped build De Queen and carry it towards a more modern and prosperous era.
Gentry was preceded in death by his parents and his wife of 46 years, Delois. He leaves behind Bud, Jimmy Ray and a sister, Sue Baily, as well as five grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Funeral services will be held for Kenneth Wayne “Dink” Gentry this Sunday, Sept. 27. Services will begin 2 p.m. at

Wilkerson Funeral Home Chapel in De Queen with Bro. John Henry Williams and Pastor Ray Reynolds officiating. Burial will follow in Redmen Cemetery.

General viewing will be from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. this Saturday, September 26th at the funeral home.

Condolences may be left online at www.wilkersonfuneralhomes.com

TRIAL DATE SET FOR HOT SPRINGS MAN CHARGED WITH VIDEO VOYEURISM IN SEVIER COUNTY   09/25/20

DE QUEEN – A trial date has been set for an area man facing a felony voyeurism charge for an incident alleged to have occurred while he lived in Sevier County last year.

According to records from the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, 34-year-old Jeffrey Boarman has been scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Nov. 12 of this year.

Prosecutors are alleging Boarman secretly videotaped his 13-year-old daughter while she was undressing on at least one occasion. The incident under investigation dates to October of 2019. A state police crime lab reportedly recovered deleted photos from the incident. The girl told investigators she found her father’s iPad hidden in her closet and set to record video.

Boarman, who court records show now lives in Hot Springs, was originally set for a pre-trial hearing earlier this year. However, COVID-19 forced the postponement of court proceeding across the state. Boarman is now set to appear in court on Nov. 12.

Unless a guilty plea is entered, Boarman’s trial is expected to begin Nov. 18.

The video voyeurism charge is a class D felony which carries a sentence of up to six years in prison and fine up to $10,000.

SEVIER COUNTY MASS FLU CLINIC WRAPS UP TODAY      09/25/20

Today is the last day of the 2020 Mass Flu Clinic in Sevier County. All area residents are invited to come by and get their flu shot today. The drive-thru flu shot clinic will be set up in De Queen today at the Methodist Church parking lot across from the Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street. Visitors are asked to enter the parking lot on Heynecker Street and exit through the alley by the Methodist Church. Trained staff will be providing flu shots today until 4:30 p.m.

The shots are free to everyone but visitors are asked to provide their insurance information if they have it. This will allow the health unit to recover some of the costs of administering flu shots this year.

THIS IS LAST WEEKEND OF PRIVATE LAND ALLIGATOR HUNT  09/25/20

DE QUEEN – Arkansas is hosting its first-ever quota-based alligator hunt on private land in the southern portion of the state. Hunters have just a few more days to participate in this expanded hunting opportunity.

Licensed hunters are legal to harvest alligators on private land this year – if they follow a few rules. As long as the quote in their zone hasn’t been met and they have permission to hunt that private land, they are legal with only the $5 permit available at www.agfc.com.

The change to the private land alligator hunt was introduced this year. Previously alligator hunts were available only through a statewide lottery-style tag drawing.

Interested hunters should visit www.agfc.com/alligator to see more details about the hunt, including the online orientation videos and manual.

Hunting is allowed only from 30 minutes after sundown until 30 minutes before sunup this weekend.

Hunters should call the AGFC Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 after 2 p.m. the day of their hunt to check to see if the quota has been met for their zone. The season ends Sept. 28, or the night the quota is reached, whichever comes first.

If you’re in the listening area and had a chance to bag a gator, let us know. Send a pic to our Facebook page or send it to numberonecountry@yahoo.com

LOCAL CITIES, COUNTIES AT RISK OF LOSING ROAD FUNDING WITHOUT APPROVAL OF ISSUE 1 THIS NOVEMBER   09/25/20

DE QUEEN – Voters in Arkansas will soon decide on a state initiative that could affect highways and roads for years to come.

The “Issue 1” ballot initiative asks voters to approve a permanent extension to a half-cent sales tax for highway and road projects.

Arkansas has an existing half-cent sales tax in place, but the tax expires in 2023. If Issue 1 passes, that tax will continue indefinitely.

If voters pass Issue 1, it will generate about $290 million annually. About $205 million will go to the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT), and about $85 million will go to cities and counties. About $400,000 is provided to Sevier County each year with another $100,000 for the City of De Queen.

Without the tax, cities and counties in Arkansas will also lose 15-percent of their current road budgets.

ASHDOWN PUBLIC SCHOOLS HONORS RETIREES  09/25/20

ASHDOWN – Last week, Ashdown Public Schools held a private reception to honor their 2020 retirees. The retirees were honored for over 499 combined years of service to Ashdown Public Schools.  Superintendent Casey Nichols congratulated those who were able to attend and presented them with plaques as a small token for the time and effort they had each put forth to provide the best education possible for Ashdown students.

We’ll be highlighting some of these dedicated educators and staff members over the next couple of days.

Janet Phillips has 32 years of teaching experience and all at of those at Ashdown Public Schools. Her teaching career included 1st grade, 2nd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade. Phillips said her years at Ashdown taught her that life is a lifelong learning experience. She added that Ashdown schools taught her that teachers are special people who work tirelessly to encourage students as well as peers.  During her retirement she plans to visit with family, volunteer, workout and pursue her hobbies.

Arlena Reed spent 25 years at Ashdown Public Schools as a custodian. Iven Richard worked for 27 years at Ashdown Public Schools as a custodian.  His morning duty was assisting the students as they arrived at school in the car rider line. Both said they will greatly miss the kids and parents they helped each day.

Virginia Spain taught 34 years at Ashdown Public Schools as part of her total 38 years in teaching. She said those years were an amazing journey. She’s grateful to have had the opportunity to teach in such in the Ashdown school district. Although she will miss teaching, she looks forward to retirement. She plans on renovating her backyard oasis and being a full-time grandmother.

Brenda Tate taught for an amazing 41 years -all those years with Ashdown Public Schools teaching kindergarten and first grade. She also was director of the 21st Century after school program. Teaching taught her to be patient, be fair and be concerned for and loving towards her students. She also plans to spend time with family in her retirement, work in her garden, volunteer in the community and live life to the fullest.

We’ll highlight the last few educators and staff members on the list on Monday.

DHS CHEERLEADERS HOSTING SPAGHETTI FUNDRAISER THIS AFTERNOON  09/25/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Leopards Cheer Team will host a Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser this afternoon before the game at Leopard Stadium. The meal will include spaghetti, garlic bread and corn. Cost is $7. Serving will begin at 4 p.m. If you would like to order, contact Callie Helms at 582-3588, Amanda Hibbs at 582-2889, Blaire Harp at 279-0444 or any of your 2020 Leopard Cheerleaders. Delivery will be available for businesses and large orders.

The Leopards Cheer team invites fans of the De Queen Leopards to come out and support the team as they take on the Hope Bobcats this evening. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

ASHDOWN SCHOOLS OPENS UP AFTER-SCHOOL HOURS FOR TUTORING, BLENDED LEARNING SUPPORT  09/25/20

ASHDOWN – Ashdown Junior High School is providing students to catch up during the busy school year with after-school tutoring and support sessions. The junior high library will be open from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. each Monday and Tuesday for students who need tutoring, have make up tests and assignments to complete, or need support for their blended learning curriculum. There is no cost to attend these sessions.

FRIDAY IS LAST DAY OF DE QUEEN’S FALL CLEAN UP WEEK   09/25/20

DE QUEEN – Today is the last day of the fall clean-up week for residents of the city of De Queen.

As part of the yearly campaign, city residents are encouraged to pickup trash and debris before winter.

There are several opportunities city can residents can take part of during fall clean up week.

The city will again be collecting old electronic items for recycling. Computers, printers, cell phones, televisions and similar items will be collected at the De Queen Fire Station during the end of business today only. Items delivered after clean-up week will not be accepted.

Pickup of large items such as old furniture or appliances will be available for the remainder of today as well. Call De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to be put on the pickup list.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL, STATE COVID-19 FIGURES   09/25/20

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:

Confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County increased by one over the past 24 hours to eight currently. Total cases increased by two to 1,189. Deaths remain at 16. A total of 1,165 Sevier County residents have contracted the virus and since recovered.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 increased by one to 13. Total cases grew by one to 338. Deaths remain at 20.

Howard County active cases remained the same at 11 confirmed individuals. Total cases grew by three to 453. Deaths currently total eight.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus increased by four to seven. Total cases saw an increase of fourto 256. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported two fewer active cases of COVID-19 on Thursday for a total of 148. Total cases increased by nine to 1,256. Deaths remain at 34.

Across the state of Arkansas, health officials reported 1,030 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 76,676. Active positives increased by 289 to 6,672. An additional 17 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours for a total of 1,097.

JOHNSON BRIDGE TO BE CLOSED NEXT WEDNESDAY FOR STATE INSPECTION   09/25/20

DE QUEEN – Sevier County officials say a portion of Johnson Bridge Road will be temporarily closed on Wednesday, Sept. 30. The road will be closed near Johnson Bridge to allow state crews time to inspect the bridge. The closure is expected to begin around 8 a.m. and continue through noon. The inspection was originally slated for this week but was cancelled due to weather. Johnson Bridge Road can still be entered from the east and west off of Highway 70 West, but traffic will not be able to cross the bridge over the Rolling Fork River.

OUACHITA BIGFOOT FESTIVAL KICKS OFF TODAY   09/25/20

MENA – Today marks the start of the Ouachita Bigfoot Festival and Conference at the Blue Zipline and Farm near Mena. Believers and skeptics alike are invited to come out today or throughout the weekend to enjoy numerous vendors, activities, door prizes, good food and a conference will well-known Bigfoot researchers. Events are scheduled today through Sunday afternoon.

Festival admittance is $1 per person and free for those three and under. Conference admission is $5 per day and free for children five and under. Proceeds will benefit the Polk County School Lunch Fund, which benefits school children in Polk County whose families are suffering financial hardships.

For more information, call (479) 216-8639 or visit the Ouachita Bigfoot Festival page on Facebook.

ARKANSAS MOVES ANTERLESS DEER HUNT TO DECEMBER   09/25/20

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans looking for one last chance to bag a deer at the end of the season this year will have three additional days to take a doe after the Modern Gun Christmas Holiday Hunt to fill their tag. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission 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, 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 an attempt to protect more button bucks. Many of these yearlings would still be with the does, allowing hunters to more easily differentiate the smaller button bucks from the older does and choose the latter.

Deer hunters in Arkansas have shown a definite preference for harvesting does later in the season.  Based on several comments received, hunters would prefer less disturbance and pressure on deer prior to the October muzzleloader hunt and the statewide opening of modern gun deer season.

The Christmas gun hunt will still take place Dec. 26-28, adding a few additional doe-only days to fill a tag.

LIONS SEE GREAT START TO FIRST YEAR OF NEW GOLF PROGRAM   09/24/20

The full audio story is available here:
Audio Player

You can also read the partial transcript below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Starting a new high school sports program from scratch is always a process filled with challenges and uncertainty. But, as a coach, you’ve got to feel pretty proud when your teams end up in the top three in the conference.
Proud is exactly how Horatio High School Golf Coach Micah Cassady feels for his boys and girls team. Both just wrapped up their first season and overall it was a great one despite coming short of an invitation to the state championship tournament.
Both the boys and girls teams came in third place in the conference. The girls were just three strokes short of a second place in the conference, which would have sent them to state. Tuesday’s game in El Dorado was rescheduled at the last minute for Monday. It was a rush to get the teams ready but Cassady said that didn’t stop his athletes from giving it their all.
It was a great showing for a team formed from scratch with only one summer of training under its belt.
Horatio High School has hosted a golf program in the past, but 2020 is the first year in recent memory to see the Lions field a team. It was a quick conversation one day over lunch between Cassady and Athletic Director Stephen Sprick which led Horatio to relaunch the program.
Practice began simply enough with the basics at the high school. The team then moved out to the Little River County Club to practice on the green.
Although any sport focuses on competition, Cassady said he wanted his athletes to understand golf is a low pressure game which focuses as much on the social aspects as the competitive ones.
As proud as Cassady is of his team, he’s just as proud of the Horatio community for its support of the new program and its student athletes. A supportive community, Cassady said, is one of the keys of any popular and supportive sports program, especially in that crtical first year.
ARKANSAS HUNTERS ENCOURAGED TO INTRODUCE NEWCOMERS TO WOODS AND WATER ON NATIONAL HUNTING AND FISHING DAY  09/24/20
Sept. 26 is National Hunting and Fishing Day. It’s a perfect day to introduce a newcomer to Arkansas’ outdoor opportunities.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wants to increase the number of hunters and anglers in the Natural State and they’re asking for everyone’s help. If hunting or fishing is your thing, share that passion by pledging to take a newcomer to the woods or water this National Hunting and Fishing Day, Sept. 26.

National Hunting and Fishing Day is a day to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in conserving America’s wildlife and wild places. The annual celebration is one way conservation agencies strengthen their partnership with the public. The hope is to continue promoting wildlife populations and the ethical pursuit of game species for the benefit of all.

Unlike systems in which wildlife is owned by individuals who own the land, the North American Model of Conservation observes that wildlife are a public resource available to all. However, there must be a governing agency to ensure wildlife does not face the catastrophic declines seen at the turn of the 20th century. There’s a few older folks in Sevier County who may remember the near extinction of deer during the Great Depression. Some may even remember stringing barbwire across faint deer tracks in the desperate hopes of harvesting one.

That’s a situation no one wants to see return. Proper conservation is the key.

The funding for conversation agencies like the AGFC is based on hunting and fishing license sales and on excise taxes placed on hunting, fishing and shooting equipment gathered by the federal government and distributed to states.

In 2019 over 600,000 hunters and anglers spent on average $3.8 million a day. Those funds are what supports wildlife conservation in Arkansas and ensures all Arkansans have a chance to enjoy the outdoors.

The dollars contributed by hunters and anglers are used to benefit all species. That includes nongame species like songbirds and pollinators. Hunters and anglers not only provide the majority of the funding for this conservation work, but they are impactful partners in shaping policy and lobbying for the creation and management of public lands. As such, sportsmen and sportswomen are the lifeblood of many rural Arkansas economies.

Of course, the best way to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day is to introduce someone new to these sports and places we love. Many of Arkansas’s hunting seasons will be open for people to experience what the outdoors has to offer. Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking about ways you can bring someone new into the hunting and fishing community:

Arkansas’s opening day of archery deer season is Sept. 26; bring someone along to unplug from the electronics and enjoy the relaxation of a day in the deer stand.

This is a great time to go fishing, at least before the usual rains in fall and winter reduce those good fishing opportunities. Fishing’s always in season, and shad should begin moving shallow as days get shorter in September. Check out the AGFC’s Weekly Fishing Report to find the hot bite.

Arkansas’s squirrel season has been open since May 15, but this is prime time to find a few bushytails feasting on hickory nuts; encourage a friend or family member to take a walk in the woods with purpose, scanning the treetops for squirrels.

Take a weekend float on one of the AGFC’s Arkansas Water Trails, and bring along a fishing rod. The cool weather will help keep mosquitoes at bay and makes it easy to grab a paddle and a friend for a quick, comfortable introduction into paddling.

Plan a family outing to one of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s nature and education centers. They’re open on weekends and will hold special programs for the event. Admission is always free.

NATIONAL COLLEGE SAVINGS MONTH     09/24/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

September is National College Savings Month and to that end state and college officials in Arkansas are reminding people of the importance of saving for college.

Student debt is rising and college is getting more expensive, so the need to save is perhaps greater than ever before.

One of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to save for your child’s college education is through Arkansas 529 Educational Savings Plan. This tax-deductible savings plan is used by tens of thousands of parents in Arkansas to help prepare for their child’s college education. This month, the plan hit a milestone of more than $1 billion within college saving accounts.

The 529 plan is administered through the office of the Arkansas State Treasurer. Perhaps no one is better placed to discuss the plan than State Treasurer Dennis Milligan. Treasurer Milligan took a few moments with us here at KDQN to discuss the plan, its impact and how more parents can get involved.

The full audio interview is here:
Audio Player

REMINDER: POSTAGE WILL BE ON VOTERS WHO MAIL IN ABSENTEE BALLOTS   09/24/20

LITTLE ROCK – As more people request absentee ballots for this year’s General Election, election officials are reminding voters who choose to mail in their ballot that they are required to cover the postage fee.

The cost to mail back your ballot in the provided envelop is $1.40.

The Sevier County Clerk’s Office began mailing out absentee ballots last Friday. If you plan on voting absentee but haven’t yet requested an absentee ballot, there’s still time.

Registered voters must apply to vote absentee. The application form is available by calling the county clerk’s office at (870) 642-2852 or by emailing countyclerk@sevco.ar.gov.

The application form will need to be printed and returned via mail to Sevier County Clerk, 115 North Third Street, Room 102, De Queen, AR 71832. Compled applications can also be faxed to 642-3896, or returned via email to countyclerk@sevco.ar.gov

If you choose to handle the process entirely by mail, you are encouraged to return the form as soon as possible. This is to mitigate any potential delays through the mailing process.

The ballot itself must be submitted in person by the close of business the day before the election. If submitting a ballot through a designated bearer, the bearer must submit the ballot by 7:30 p.m. on election day. Absentee ballots returned via mail must be received by the county clerk’s office by 7:30 p.m. on election day.

MAUMELLE MAN FINDS SECOND LARGEST DIAMOND AT CRATER STATE PARK   09/24/20

Submitted by Waynon Cox of Crater of Diamonds State Park

Kevin Kinard of Maumelle found the second-largest diamond ever discovered at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

On Labor Day, Kevin Kinard, a 33-year-old bank branch manager from Maumelle visited Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park and found the second-largest diamond discovered in the park’s history. Kinard has visited the Crater of Diamonds fairly regularly since first going there on a second-grade field trip, despite having never found a diamond. This trip was to turn out differently.

Kinard and his friends brought equipment with them to wet sift, but Kinard preferred surface searching. He only wet sifted for about 10 minutes before he started walking up and down the plowed rows. Anything that looked like a crystal, he picked it up and put it in his bag.

While searching in the southeast portion of the diamond search area, Kinard picked up a marble-sized crystal that had a rounded, dimpled shape. He thought it was nothing more than glass at the time, but it looked interesting so he kept it.

The plowed soil of the park’s 37.5-acre diamond search area was fairly dry on Labor Day Monday, with temperatures in the low 90s. A few clouds provided occasional relief from the sun.

After a few hours of searching, Kinard and his friends stopped by the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where park staff identifies visitor finds and register diamonds.

The 9.07-carat diamond found by Kevin Kindard earlier this month.

An employee identified Kinard’s rocks and minerals but sat his rounded, dimpled find aside to carry into the office for closer examination. After a few minutes, park managers brought Kinard into the office and revealed that he had discovered a diamond weighing more than nine carats.

Weighing 9.07 carats, Kinard’s diamond is the second-largest found at the park since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972. The only larger diamond found during that time is the 16.37-carat white Amarillo Starlight, discovered in August 1975.

After registering his diamond, Kinard took it home and spent a couple of weeks mentally processing his excitement. He returned to the park on September 23 to share his story.

Finders of large Crater diamonds often name their gems. Kinard chose to honor his friends with the name of his diamond, calling it the Kinard Friendship Diamond.

When asked what advice he would give other visitors, Kinard said, “Have the park staff check everything, because you never know. I would have never in a million years dreamed that I had found anything. Always have them check it!”

As of this publication, 246 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2020, weighing a total of 59.25 carats. An average of one to two diamonds are found by park visitors each day.

Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three colors found at Crater of Diamonds State Park are white, brown, and yellow, in that order.

The previous record for the second-largest diamond found at the park belongs to the 8.81-carat white Star of Shreveport, discovered in 1981 by Carroll Blankenship, of Shreveport, La.

Admission to the park’s diamond search area is currently limited to 1,000 tickets per day due to COVID-19 restrictions. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance at www.CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com, to ensure access.

CENSUS SEEKING ADDITIONAL EMPLOYEES TO COMPLETE LAST STRETCH OF 2020 COUNT    09/24/20

Although the 2020 U.S. Census is in its final leg, the agency is seeking applications from a few more area residents to help see this year’s census through. The U.S. Census said a number of field representative positions are still open in the area and throughout Arkansas.

Potential applicants must be at least 18-years-old, have a valid driver’s license, have a working automobile and be a U.S. Citizen. A security background check and six months of general work experience or education are also required.

Hours are flexible and based on the application survey. Salary ranges from $14.95 an hour to $21.56. There is a ten percent increase in pay for hours worked past 6 p.m. and mileage is reimbursable at 58 cents a mile.

For more information or to apply, call 1-800-865-6384, ext. 15, or visit 2020census.gov

The U.S. Census Bureau is also encouraging anyone who hasn’t yet completed their survey to do so as soon as possible. With door-to-door visits by census takers now underway, the U.S. Census Bureau is informing households that they may also receive a follow-up visit to ensure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census.

On a daily basis, the Census Bureau updates its list of households that have responded. It is possible that a locally hired census taker will still visit the address as part of the Census Bureau’s quality assurance program for the 2020 Census even if a household has already responded. The public is encouraged to cooperate with census takers as they follow up.

In addition, other Census Bureau representatives continue visiting homes for ongoing surveys that are occurring at the same time as the 2020 Census, such as the American Community Survey. These ongoing surveys affect only a small number of households nationwide and provide valuable information to help community leaders plan for hospitals and schools, improve emergency services, and make informed decisions about creating jobs.

Households can still respond to the 2020 Census by going online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire they received.

DEER HUNTERS ASKED TO HELP TRACK SPREAD OF CWD IN ARKANSAS; SAMPLE DROP OFF LOCATIONS IN SEVIER, OTHER COUNTIES    09/24/20

Deer hunters in Arkansas are being asked to help state officials combat chronic wasting disease through a statewide testing campaign. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has set up more than 100 free testing locations throughout The Natural State this season to identify the spread of this disease.

Hunters across the state are asked to drop off a sample of any deer they’ve harvested at one of these testing locations. In Sevier County, a sample can be dropped off at the De Queen City Shop on East Haes Avenue. In Howard County, that testing location is the Farmer’s Cooperative in Dierks. In Little River, samples can be taken to the Little River Sanitation Department in Ashdown. The point of contact for all three of these testing locations is Brad Townsend, who can be called at 877-777-5580.

Biologists stress this is not a food safety test. There is no confirmed evidence of a human ever getting chronic wasting disease from eating venison. Nevertheless, biologists want to determine the spread of the disease by testing deer samples from across the state.

To submit a test at one of the containers, a hunter simply removes the deer’s head with at least 4inches of neck still attached at its base, removes any antlers, places the head in a bag that’s provided at the freezer and places it inside with contact information. The stub from their contact information will guide them to find their test results, which are available online.

If a positive result is received, AGFC staff will contact the hunter directly by the phone number provided with the sample. Staff will then make arrangements with the hunter to pick up any meat they no longer want and can provide an additional deer tag to harvest a doe to make up for the lost meat.

Test results are usually available within 2-3 weeks. The AGFC has partnered with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Little Rock to help complete the testing in a timely manner.

In addition to “self-serve” drop-off locations, the AGFC has a network of taxidermists who will collect and submit CWD samples for free. While most of the animals they see are mature bucks, many will pull a sample from deer they are not mounting for hunters who want the help. Hunters are asked not to move intact deer carcasses harvested inside the CWD Management Zone outside of that zone, even for testing purposes.

Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for more information about Chronic Wasting Disease in Arkansas.

AAA GIVES HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PROGRAMS THE GO AHEAD    09/24/20

The Arkansas Activities Association says cheer and dance squads can now attend out of town athletic events. The previous ban was issued due to COVID-19 concerns. The change means school districts on the local level will now make the determination if their squads will be able to attend the away games. Bands are still not permitted to travel for away games.

The activities association has also released guidelines for high school basketball games this season. Schools who play football will be allowed to schedule 26 games, while non-football schools can schedule 34 basketball games this upcoming season. Districts will not be allowed to host multi-team events, such as tournaments, and Arkansas teams will not be allowed to travel out of state for these types of events.

In the stands, six feet of social distancing space will be required between family groups. Everyone in the arena will be required to wear masks at all times, with the exception of actively participating players, and school districts must provide separate entrance and exists to help avoid congestion.

LOCAL SCHOOLS, COLLEGES SPARED FROM RISING COVID-19 RATES IN ARKANSAS   09/23/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

A growing number of schools and colleges across Arkansas are reporting an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases confirmed among their students and staff. Fortunately, so far area schools have been spared from any sizeable outbreaks since the start of school.

That’s according to the Arkansas Department of Health, which began providing public data in August listing schools with five or more confirmed active cases of COVID-19. Both De Queen and Nashville School Districts made the initial report in mid-August. District officials in De Queen said action taken to quarantine students exposed to any confirmed case prevented a wider spread of the virus. Both districts were on the list for only a few days before being removed due to the decrease of confirmed active cases.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders says the district is continuing to follow state health and education guidance. Those measures include face masks, social distancing and frequent cleaning and sanitizing of school facilities.

Any school with less than five cases is not included on the list. The list is updated twice a week.

The only public schools in the region included on the list are Prescott with 19 active cases, Texarkana with 10 and Magnolia with 5. There are a total of 498 currently active cases of COVID-19 confirmed among students and staff across Arkansas. The cumulative total is slightly over 1,800 with the vast majority of those having recovered.

Colleges and universities across Arkansas are seeing a slightly higher level of active cases among students and staff. That figure currently includes 631 active cases with nearly 3,000 overall. Again, no local institutions are listed in the latest report. Naturally, the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, as the state’s biggest school, leads the list with 324 currently active cases. SAU is the only university included in the list with eight currently active cases.

The data can be viewed anytime by the public by visiting the COVID-19 information page on the website of Arkansas Department of Health. That website can be viewed at www.healthy.arkansas.gov

DE QUEEN MAN ARRESTED FOR PUBLIC INTOXICATION – TWICE WITHIN SEVERAL DAYS   09/23/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Police Department said it arrested a De Queen man for public intoxication – not once, but twice within several days.

According to a report released by the department, officers were dispatched to Tiger Mart in De Queen on Sept. 17. A call had been received about a man at the gas station who appeared to be intoxicated and was asking customers for money. Upon arrival officers saw the suspect walk across Highway 71 where he was nearly hit by an 18-wheeler. Officers made contact with the man and identified him as 50-year-old Alberto Garza of De Queen. In the report officers said they immediately noticed the smell of alcohol and that Garza’s speech was slurred.

He was placed into custody and taken to the Sevier County Jail on the charge of public intoxication. Several days later, on Sept. 20, officers responded to a man harassing customers at El. Pasiano’s Restaurant in downtown De Queen. They immediately recognized the suspect as, again, Alberto Garza. Garza reportedly admitting to drinking and also refused to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Garza was then, again, placed into customer and taken to the county jail for public intoxication.

UA COSSATOT AWARDS SECOND CLASS OF PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANTS   09/23/20

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

On Monday, UA Cossatot held a pinning ceremony at its Ashdown Campus in the Barbara Horn Civic Center to inaugurate the new, 2020 class of physical therapist assistants. Nine students graduated at the pinning ceremony and became the second group of students to complete the program.

The nine students who received pins at the ceremony include Allie Anderson of Ashdown, Alondra Galvez of De Queen, Luis Herrera of De Queen, Riley House of Delight, Myka Lemley of Texarkana, Katherine Malca of Texarkana, Kayla Mills of Texarkana, Lacey Morton of Lewisville, and Ashley Thompson of Ashdown.

UA Cossatot Chancellor, Dr. Steve Cole, and PTA Program Director, Jennifer Sanderson expressed their excitement for the graduates and congratulated them. During the ceremony, Jennifer Sanderson announced the graduates’ names, and the graduate’s family members pinned them. Graduate Riley House also received recognition for having the highest program grade average in the class.

To learn about pre-requisites for the PTA Program at UA Cossatot or deadlines to apply, please visit UA Cossatot’s Medical Education page at www.cccua.edu to schedule an advising appointment.

ASHDOWN PUBLIC SCHOOLS RECOGNIZES 2020 RETIREES   09/23/20

ASHDOWN – Last week, Ashdown Public Schools held a private reception to honor their 2020 retirees. The retirees were honored for over 499 combined years of service to Ashdown Public Schools.  Superintendent Casey Nichols congratulated those who were able to attend and presented them with plaques as a small token for the time and effort they had each put forth to provide the best education possible for Ashdown students.

We highlighted a few of these dedicated educators and staff members yesterday. We’ll continue that look today.

Among those retirees honored this month were Keith and Sharla Fricks. Both have been in education for the past 28 years. Seventeen of those were with Ashdown Public Schools. Sharla retires as a math teacher and media specialist for LF Henderson Elementary School. Sharla said she cherishes the friends and memories she made at Ashdown Public Schools. During retirement she plans to spend time with family, travel, catch up on reading and see her new grandchild. Her husband, Keith, served as assistant principal for Ashdown Junior High School and as principal for LF Henderson. He plans to spend time with his family, new grandchild and work in more fishing and hunting trips with his father.

Hardy Gibbons spent eight years in maintenance and transportation at Ashdown Public Schools. He plans to do a lot of fishing in his retirement.

Kim Joyce spent 34 and a half years in education and all of it at Ashdown Public Schools. Kim has served in a variety of roles, from substitute to bus driver to district bookkeeper.  Joyce said she enjoyed her time with the Ashdown School District working, helping, learning, and making lifelong friends and family. During, retirement, she plans to spend time with the people who are special to her and enjoy time outdoors with her husband Larry.

Georglyn Miller spent 26 years in education at Ashdown and all at L.F. Henderson as an ISS Classroom Manager and principal’s secretary.  She said she enjoyed the responsibility as an educator to teach in the manner each student can learn. She plans to move to Hot Springs and volunteer with a Parkinson’s advocacy organization.

Ryan Murry taught for 36 years, six of those at Ashdown Public Schools. Although relatively new to Ashdown Public Schools, Murry said she felt like part of an extended family the moment she stepped onto the campus of Ashdown High School. Murry plans to spend time with her family in retirement.

We’ll continue highlighting these Ashdown retirees in the coming days.

CITY HALL REOPENS TO PUBLIC THIS WEEK  09/23/20

DE QUEEN – De Queen City Hall fully reopened to the public this week for the first time since the spring. Like government offices around the state and nation, city hall was closed to visitors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said visitors are welcome again this week during regular hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The drive-thru window will continue to be in use for anyone wanting to pay their water bill or conduct other, quick business. Masks are required for anyone who enters city hall.

The Sevier County Courthouse opened under similar circumstances earlier this month. Access remains limited however on Tuesdays and Thursdays when court is in session.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES; SEVIER CO. SEES FEWEST ACTIVE CASES SINCE NEARLY THE START OF PANDEMIC   09/23/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a decrease of one over the past 24 hours. Active cases of the virus in Sevier County now number just seven – that’s the lowest confirmed level since nearly the start of the pandemic. Total cases did not change and remain at 1,185. Deaths remain at 16. A total of 1,162 Sevier County residents have contracted the virus and since recovered.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 dropped by one to 12 currently. Total cases grew by five to 336. Deaths remain at 20.

Howard County active cases decreased by two to 10 confirmed individuals. Total cases did not change and stayed at 450. Deaths currently total 8.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus dropped by three to a total of just three currently confirmed cases. That’s the lowest rate of active cases in the region. Total cases saw a slight uptick of one to 251. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported no new active cases of COVID-19, which total 154. Total cases increased by eight to 1,238. The county reported an additional death for a current total of 34.

And now, with the latest COVID-19 information from across Arkansas, here’s our report on Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s COVID-19 press conference held Tuesday afternoon:

SAMPLE BALLOTS FOR NOV. GENERAL ELECTION AVAILABLE; SEVIER COUNTY VOTERS TO DECIDE WET/DRY ISSUE   09/22/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Sample ballots are available for Sevier County voters who want to study up before the November General Election.

It’s going to be big and busy election with voters deciding not just who will be president for the next year, but also a number of local issues as well. That includes whether or not to permit the sale of alcohol in Sevier County. The wet/dry measure made it to the ballot after organizers behind the effort collected more than the minimum amount of needed signatures earlier this year.

If the measure passes, alcohol sales will be permitted in Sevier County for the first time since Prohibition began in the 1920s. The measure would allow for a limited number of alcohol stores in the county, and allow restaurants to apply for licenses to serve alcohol on their premises.

The wet/dry issue will be open for all Sevier County voters to decide.

Other local elections include a race for the Ward 2, Position 1 seat on the De Queen City Council. Lee Ann Pitchford has challenged incumbent Teresa Bunyard for the position.

Voters within the Gillham city limits will decide a proposed one-percent local sales and use tax.

Voters within the Dierks School District boundaries will also vote on extending the current millage rate of 43 mills to provide additional funding for the district. The extension does not increase the current millage rate. The requested rate of 43 mills represents the same rate presently being collected.

Area voters will also have their say in deciding a number of state and federal races. That includes, of course, the presidential election between incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden. A number of third-party candidates are also running.

Bruce Westerman, the Republican U.S. Representative for Arkansas’ Fourth District, is being challenged by Democrat William Hanson and Frank Gilbert of the Libertarian Party.

In addition, there are six statewide ballot initiatives all voters in Arkansas will be able to decide. However, only one of them, Issue 1, has not been struck or is currently being challenged in court. Issue 1 asks voters to continue a half-cent statewide sales tax to provide funds for infrastructure projects. The current sales tax provides the state with 70 percent of the revenue collected. The other 30 percent is split evenly between Arkansas cities and counties. The revenue raises about $400,000 for road improvement projects in Sevier County alone.

Issue 4 and 5 will be included on the ballot but have been struck, meaning election officials will not count votes for or against it. We’ll be bringing you additional information on these measures and other election-related information as the election nears.

The sample ballot is featured below. The sample ballot is also available at the county clerk’s office in the Sevier County Courthouse.

CHAMBER SEEKING NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AFTER RESIGNATION   09/22/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is looking for a new executive director.

Suzanne Babb, who has served as the chamber’s executive director for the past couple of years, officially announced her resignation this week. She will continue to serve as a chamber ambassador.

A small business owner herself, Babb has focused heavily on small business retention and growth during her tenure. In a statement, Babb said she regrets stepping down but said it’s necessary to allow her to dedicate more time to her family business. Babb said she felt privileged to work with individuals and organizations locally and on the state level to assist Sevier County’s business community.

The Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is now accepting applications for its Executive Director position. The position includes a number of responsibilities including administrative, marketing and leadership roles. The posted salary is $10 an hour with the opportunity for a raise after a 90 day probationary period. The position carries a minimum of 20 hours per week. Applicants must be able to work events on some weekends. A full list of responsibilities and details on the position can be found at the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

To apply, prospective applicants are asked to submit a cover letter, resume, proof of high school and three professional references. Completed application packets can be mailed to De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 67, De Queen, AR 71832.

The deadline for applications is Friday, Oct. 2.

NEW HEALTH GUIDELINES IN EFFECT FOR STATEWIDE SPORTING EVENT   09/22/20

LITTLE ROCK – If Arkansans want to take in a live football game at any of our great in-state institutions this fall, it is going to be a much different experience than it has been in years past. Due to the novel coronavirus, many precautions are in place to help keep students, athletes, and fans safe when taking in the game.

The Arkansas Department of Health issued the following directives for large outdoor sports venues during the upcoming football season.

A venue may fill up to 66 percent capacity for the facility with a plan approved by the Secretary of Health.

Lines or cues for entrance, exit, making purchases, or for other reasons must be marked or monitored for maintaining a distance of six-feet between people.

Family groups may sit together but six-feet should be maintained between groups. Every-other-row seating should be unoccupied to provide for six-feet of physical distancing.

Face coverings are required for all persons present, except for children under 10-years-old, who are exempt.  For outdoor venues, once attendees are seated and maintaining six-feet physical distance from others, face coverings may be removed.

HORATIO HOMECOMING SET FOR OCT. 9   09/22/20

HORATIO – The 2020 Horatio High School homecoming ceremony will be held Oct. 9. This year’s homecoming queen is Angela Guiterrez.

Senior Maids include Madison Olvey, Aubrey Banhart, Maddie Rivas and Kalyn McWhorter. Junior Maids are Madison Bagley and Gracie Shelton. Sophomore Maids are Attalee Frachiseur and Mallori Marshall. Dovie Connor will serve as flower girl and tate Dorsey as the football bearer. Chanli Hornsby will be the homecoming crown bearer.

The ceremony will take place before the football game scheduled against Fouke. Kickoff is 7 p.m. More details on the event will be announced later.

SEVIER COUNTY MASS FLU CLINIC HAS SLIGHT CHANGE DUE TO WEATHER   09/22/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Mass Flu Clinic continues today but there is a slight change due to today’s weather forecast. The Sevier County Health Unit will not hold the drive in the parking lot of the De Queen United Methodist Church. Instead, visitors are asked to park in front of the health unit. Staff will come out and administer the flu vaccine while you wait in your vehicle.

Weather permitting, the drive-thru influenza vaccination clinic will be set up the rest of the week at the Methodist Church parking lot across from the Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street. Visitors are asked to enter the parking lot on Heynecker Street and exit through the alley by the Methodist Church.

In contrast to previous years, Sevier County’s 2020 clinic will be a week-long event beginning today and continuing through the 25th. Trained staff will be providing influenza vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.

For more information on the Sevier County Mass Flu Clinic scheduled for Sept. 21-25, call the local health unit at 642-2535.

LIONS GAME AGAINST PRESCOTT CANCELLED   09/22/20

HORATIO – Horatio’s Junior High and Senior High football games against Prescott, scheduled for this week, have been cancelled. Horatio will take this week off and not reschedule any games for this week. The Lions’ next scheduled game is set for Oct. 2 when they host the Centerpoint Knights with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

ASHDOWN PUBLIC SCHOOLS HONORS 2020 RETIREES   09/22/20

ASHDOWN – Last week, Ashdown Public Schools held a private reception to honor their 2020 retirees. The retirees were honored for over 499 combined years of service to Ashdown Public Schools.  Superintendent Casey Nichols congratulated those who were able to attend and presented them with plaques as a small token for the time and effort they had each put forth to provide the best education possible for Ashdown students.

We’ll be highlighting some of these dedicated educators and staff members over the next couple of days.

The retirees included Floyd Abner, Jr., who has worked for 13 years as a custodian at Ashdown Public Schools.  Abner said he thoroughly enjoyed greeting parents and kids each morning. He plans to raise a garden and perform volunteer work for his church during his retirement.

Becky Aylett spent her 34 years teaching all in Ashdown Public Schools.  She said her favorite aspect of teaching was watching her students grow and learn.

Gwendolyn Brumley has worked 16 years with Ashdown Public Schools as substitute, paraprofessional and classroom manager in special education and computer science.  Brumley said she enjoyed the common goal of Ashdown Public Schools to provide the best education possible. In retirement she plans to spend more time with her family.

Linda Davis has spent 30 years in education and 22 years in Ashdown Public Schools as a 4th-grade teacher and Student Council Sponsor. She also plans to spend more time with family as well as attend as many Mississippi State Bulldog football games and Saints games as possible.

Donna Green spent all 39 years of her teaching career at Ashdown Public Schools.  She said she loved every minute working for Ashdown School District. Green said she has always treasured the opportunity to teach children how to read.

We’ll continue highlighting these Ashdown retirees in the coming days.

STATE INSPECTION OF JOHNSON BRIDGE ROAD CANCELLED   09/22/20

DE QUEEN – Sevier County officials said Johnson Bridge Road will not be closed tomorrow. A portion of the road was scheduled to be closed to traffic for a state inspection. That inspection, however, has been postponed due to the weather forecast.

ARKANSAS SPORTS FANS WARNED OF SCAM TICKET BROKERS   09/22/20

LITTLE ROCK – In addition to COVID-19, every year scammers often try to sell fake tickets to unsuspecting fans and Arkansans should be cautious when purchasing tickets from an unverified ticket broker.

The office of the Arkansas Attorney General issued the following tips to help Arkansans protect themselves when looking to buy tickets for the upcoming football season.

Research the seller or broker with the Better Business Bureau and ensure it is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers.

A legitimate ticket broker will offer a refund policy. Only buy tickets from a reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction.

Always use a credit card to make a ticket purchase because credit card laws provide buyers with some recourse if the tickets are fraudulent.

Check the seats ahead of time. Ask for section, row and seat numbers to avoid obstructed views and purchasing tickets that do not exist.

Stick with well-known ticket sellers who offer guarantees and policies that protect buyers and have the ability to investigate and restrict accounts of merchants who violate the policies.

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Refuse to be rushed. Scam artists often try to hurry prospective buyers into making a decision.

According to AARP, nearly 5 million consumers receive fraudulent concert, sporting event or theme park tickets each year.

Consumers who think they may have purchased a counterfeit ticket can contact the National Association of Ticket Brokers at 630-510-4594 or the Arkansas Attorney General’s Public Protection Department.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES   09/22/20

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:

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County did not change over the last 24 hours and remain at eight. Total cases did not change and remain at 1,185 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 did not increase or decrease and remain at 13. Total cases grew by one to 331. Deaths increased by one to 20.

Howard County active cases currently number 12 confirmed individuals. Total cases did not change and stayed at 450. Deaths currently total 12.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus dropped by one to just six currently confirmed cases. Total cases number 250. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported one additional active case for a total of 154. Total cases increased by eight to 1,230. Deaths remain at 33.

Across the state, an additional 596 cases were confirmed in Arkansas on Monday. That raises the cumulative statewide total to 74,280. Active cases grew by 43 to 6,299 currently. Deaths increased by 15 to 1,048.

SEVIER COUNTY MASS FLU CLINIC BEGINS TODAY    09/21/20

DE QUEEN – Today is the first day of the Sevier County Health Unit’s yearly Mass Flu Clinic. The drive-thru influenza vaccination clinic will be set up in De Queen today at the Methodist Church parking lot across from the Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street. Visitors are asked to enter the parking lot on Heynecker Street and exit through the alley by the Methodist Church.

Local health units will be organizing their annual countywide immunization efforts differently this year. In contrast to previous years, Sevier County’s 2020 clinic will be a week-long event beginning today and continuing through the 25th. Trained staff will be providing influenza vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.

In addition to next week’s mass flu clinic, influenza vaccinations will be available soon at most doctor offices and family clinics. Local, state and national health experts are stressing the need for Arkansans to receive their influenza vaccines this flu season. They’ve expressed a lot of concern over what effects influenza will have this year in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

For more information on the Sevier County Mass Flu Clinic scheduled for Sept. 21-25, call the local health unit at 642-2535.

MAILING OF ABSENTEE BALLOTS BEGAN FRIDAY, NOT TO LET TO REQUEST APPLICATION    09/21/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Clerk’s Office began mailing out absentee ballots on Friday, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to request yours.

Any registered voter who would like to vote absentee can apply for a ballot immediately. Voters are required to check a box selecting their reason for voting absentee. County Clerk Debbie Akin said the office will accept any application that has checked the box stating you, quote, “will be unavoidably absent from your polling place on election day – end quote.

Registered voters must apply to vote absentee. The application form is available by calling the county clerk’s office at (870) 642-2852 or by emailing countyclerk@sevco.ar.gov.

The application form will need to be printed and returned via mail to Sevier County Clerk, 115 North Third Street, Room 102, De Queen, AR 71832. Compled applications can also be faxed to 642-3896, or returned via email to countyclerk@sevco.ar.gov

If you choose to handle the process entirely by mail, you are encouraged to return the form as soon as possible. This is to mitigate any potential delays through the mailing process.

When filling out the application, a voter may request to have someone pick up and return the ballot for them. That person must be designated by filling out the appropriate designated bearer information on the absentee voting application.

If you plan on submitting your absentee application in person, you must do so by the close of business the day before the election. If submitting by mail or by electronic forms, applications must be received by seven days before the election.

The ballot itself must be submitted in person by the close of business the day before the election. If submitting a ballot through a designated bearer, the bearer must submit the ballot by 7:30 p.m. on election day. Absentee ballots returned via mail must be received by the county clerk’s office by 7:30 p.m. on election day.

You may not fax or email a completed ballot. Currently active military personnel and citizens currently overseas must submit their ballots within 10 days after the election

ASHDOWN TEACHERS HELPING TO RESHAPE CURRICULUM FOR STATE, NATION    09/21/20

Submitted by Ronda Pounds of Ashdown Public Schools

Ashdown High School teachers Amy Silva and Shauna Tipton were asked by the Division of Career and Technical Education to serve as Career and Technical Education) Subject Matter Experts for the state of Arkansas. That effort will help to shape the related curriculum for students across Arkansas and the nation.

Two Ashdown teachers are helping to lead the way in shaping curriculum for students in Arkansas and across the nation.

Ashdown High School teachers Amy Silva and Shauna Tipton were asked by the Division of Career and Technical Education to serve as Career and Technical Education) Subject Matter Experts for the state of Arkansas. Their task was to develop Playbook Templates which are published on the Back to School Playbook page on the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education website.  They met weekly from July 9 through August 7 in order to collaborate and create the Playbook. According to a press release, “the templates are to provide instructional tools and resources for courses throughout the state and will serve as a model for emerging work around Professional Learning Communities across the nation”

Mrs. Silva served as a Subject Matter Expert for the Pharmacy Technology Fundamentals course within the Medical Professions program and Mrs. Tipton was part of the Business Instructor Team.

Ashdown Public School Superintendent Casey Nichols said, “Mrs. Silva and Mrs. Tipton are always going above and beyond to provide the best education for their students at Ashdown High School as well as working on the state level to help provide that for all Arkansas students. They are fine examples of the amazing staff we have here at Ashdown Public Schools.”

SECOND ROUND OF ECONOMIC RELIEF AVAILABLE FOR FARMERS    09/21/20

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making available another $14 billion to eligible farmers and ranchers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP.

Under the first round of CFAP, Arkansas farmers and ranchers were approved for more than $136 million in payments through Sept. 13. USDA officials said more than 18,000 applications were submitted from Arkansas.

Signup for the program begins today and runs through Dec. 11.

For more information on CFAP including how to apply, visit www.farmers.gov/cfap

You can also call the USDA Service Center in De Queen at (870) 584-3537, ext. 2.

SEVIER COUNTY COVID-19 CASES FALL TO LOWEST LEVEL SINCE SPRING    09/21/20

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:

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continued a decline, dropping to their lowest figure since the spring. Overall, active cases dropped by five over the weekend to a current total of eight. Recoveries grew to 1,161. Total cases number 1,185 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 increased by one over the weekend to 13. Total cases grew by five to 330. Deaths remain at 19.

Howard County active cases increased by two over the weekend to 12. Total cases grew by three to 450. Deaths remain at eight.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus dropped by five to just seven confirmed cases. Total cases increased by three to 250. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 10 additional active cases over the weekend for a total of 153. Total cases increased by 34 to 1,222. Deaths remain at 33.

Across the state, an additional 549 cases were confirmed in Arkansas on Sunday. That raises the cumulative statewide total to 73,690. Active cases grew by 489 to 6,256 currently. Deaths increased by eight to 1,033.

ARKANSANS ASKED TO TAKE ONLINE SURVEY FOR INTERNET STUDY    09/21/20

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered online activity in our state. More Arkansans are working remotely, learning through distance education, using telehealth, and attending online church services. It remains to be seen to what extent some of the changes in habit will continue after the health crisis ends. That is why 2020 is a critical year for closing the digital divide in Arkansas.

Towards that goal, Arkansans are being asked to complete a brief online survey to help determine just how far the digital divide is.

Arkansans are encouraged to visit broadband.arkansas.gov and click on the “Test Your Broadband Speed” green button icon in the lower right-hand corner. This directs the user to a speed test, which will determine the user’s upload speed and download speed. The user will then be directed to a quick survey of 11 questions.

The questions include asking the user the name of their provider, how much they pay for the service, and what speed has been promised by the provider. The results of the speed test are then integrated into the Arkansas Broadband Survey Results Dashboard.

The Arkansas State Broadband Plan outlines a goal of seeing 25Mbps/3Mbps broadband deployed to all population centers in Arkansas over 500 by the year 2022. While Arkansas has a way to go before reaching that goal, progress is being made. Just recently, the legislature approved a measure to direct $100 million of CARES Act funding to the Arkansas Rural Connect program, a grant program designed to expand the broadband footprint in rural Arkansas communities.

The information you provide will help the Arkansas State Broadband Office determine what areas of our state are underserved and what our next steps should be to keep our state connected.

HORATIO MAN KILLED IN ONE-VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON WEDNESDAY    09/18/20

HORATIO – A Horatio man was killed in a one-vehicle accident Wednesday afternoon, according to the Arkansas State Police.

Investigators say 51-year-old Tommy Klitz was traveling south on Red Bridge Road in Sevier County when his truck left the roadway and struck a tree. Klitz was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident occurred around 3:45 Wednesday afternoon and involved no other vehicles.

Investigating State Trooper Ernesto Echevarria reported road conditions at the time of the accident as clear and dry.

EXPECT SOME VIVID SUNRISES, SUNSETS AS SMOKE FROM WEST COAST WILDFIRES HEADS EAST    09/18/20

DE QUEEN – Folks in the listening area can expect some extremely vivid sunrises and sunsets over the next few days. That’s because smoke from multiple wildfires in the northwestern U.S. and southwestern Canada make their way east.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service say smoke from those fires are moving across the Rockies and into the central Plains and southeastern U.S.

Information available on the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s website suggest air quality won’t be negatively impacted, at least not to the point of being a health issue.

However, the smoke and haze is likely to create some exceptionally colorful sunrises and sun sets in the coming days. According to meteorologists, smoke particulates scatter the already red sunrise and sunset wavelengths, highlighting the reds and oranges.

If you’re out in the listening area and have the chance to take some photos on one of these unique sunrises or sunsets, let us know. Post it to the KDQN 92.1 FM Facebook page or email it to numberonecountry@yahoo.com

PERSONAL AND REAL PROPERTY TAXES DUE BY OCT. 15    09/18/20

DE QUEEN – Yes, it’s almost that time of year again. Time to pay your personal and property taxes.

Sevier County Sheriff and Collector Robert Gentry is reminding citizens and property owners in Sevier County of the upcoming, Oct. 15 tax deadline. That’s the last day to pay your personal and real estate property taxes without a penalty.

Taxpayers should be aware that they can now pay their taxes online at tax.countyservice.net/sevier

For the convenience of taxpayers, the Sevier County Tax Collector’s office will be open two Saturdays in October. That includes Oct. 2 and Oct. 10 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Extended office hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. will begin Oct. 5 and continue through Oct. 15. The office will be closed for lunch those days from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

The collector’s office will be closed Oct. 16 through Oct. 22 in order to prepare the delinquent tax list.

The tax collector’s office is located in the Sevier County Courthouse. Visitors to the courthouse are required to wear a face covering.

Again, taxpayers have the option to avoid the line and a special trip by paying online at tax.countyservice.net/sevier

Taxpayers can also mail money orders to Tax Collector’s Office, 115 North Third Street, De Queen, AR 71832

VOTERS ASKED, NOT REQUIRED TO WEAR MASKS AT POLLING PLACES; ELECTION OFFICIALS TAKING STEPS TO ENSURE SMOOTH AND SAFE ELECTION    09/18/20

DE QUEEN – Election officials in Arkansas want voters to know they will be encouraged to wear a face mask to their polling place this November, but they will not be required.

Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin said her office is taking precautions to ensure the Nov. 3 General Election is not just a successful one, but a safe one as well.

A number of protective measures will be in place with everyone’s health and voting rights in mind. Poll workers will wear masks and shields to protect themselves and voters. No-contact procedures are in place for the comfort of all voters. That includes free disposable stylus pens for every voter to use at the voting machine. Voting equipment will be sanitized frequently and six-foot markers will be placed to ensure CDC social distancing.

A separate voting machine will be installed at each polling place for anyone who feels ill on election day. Voters will be asked, but not required, to wear face coverings.

The Sevier County Clerk’s Office stresses that no one will be discouraged from voting on Nov. 3.

Citizens who have not registered to vote and wish to do so in the November General Election must register by Oct. 5. If you’ve moved from one Arkansas county to another, you will have until Oct. 30 to transfer your registration.

Early voting will be held the last two weeks of October at the Community Building in the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.

For more information or if you have any questions, contact the Sevier County Clerk’s office at 642-2852.

TICKETS FOR LEOPARDS-KNIGHTS GAME AVAILABLE AT CENTERPOINT STADIUM   09/18/20

CENTERPOINT – Fans of the De Queen Leopards are reminded tonight’s football game against the Fouke Panthers has been cancelled. The Leopards will instead travel to Centerpoint High School to take on the Knights with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Officials with the Fouke School District cancelled the game earlier this week after a number of players on the Panthers football team were in quarantine due to exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19.

There will be no pre-sale tickets for tonight’s game. Those interested in attending can purchase a ticket at the gate in Centerpoint. Masks will be required and athletic officials from both schools are stressing the requirement to socially distance.

JOHNSON BRIDGE TO BE CLOSED TEMPORARILY SEPT. 23 FOR INSPECTION    09/18/20

DE QUEEN – Johnson Bridge Road in Sevier County will be closed next Wednesday, Sept. 23 from approximately 8 a.m. to noon.

The closure is being held to allow a state inspection of the one-lane bridge on Johnson Bridge Road.

ELECTION INFORMATION FOR LITTLE RIVER COUNTY VOTERS    09/18/20

ASHDOWN – Little River County Clerk Deanna Sivley is informing voters in Little River County of the polling locations which will be open for the Nov. 3 General Election. T

hose polling places include Southern Crossroads Baptist Church in Winthrop, the Foreman First Baptist Church, the Wilton Baptist Church, the little River County Election Center in Ashdown, the Ogden Community Center and the Millwood Baptist Church in Ashdown.

For their convenience, voters in Little River County can vote at any of those locations. Polls will be open on Election Day, Nov. 3, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Covid-19 measures will be taken into consideration and applied as needed at each site.

WALK ACROSS ARKANSAS REGISTRATION OPEN NOW    09/18/20

Submitted by UofA Cooperative Extension

If the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted your fitness routine, Walk Across Arkansas could be just the thing to get you back on track.

Registration is open now for Walk Across Arkansas, set for Sept. 21 through Nov. 15.

The eight-week exercise program is organized each spring and fall by the Cooperative Extension Service to help Arkansans improve their health. Participation is free, and online registration is available at walk.uaex.edu.

The ongoing pandemic has disrupted the fitness routines of many Arkansans, especially considering the temporary closures of many gyms and recreational centers. A great way to revisit and meet those goals is to track your physical activity, which is exactly what Walk Across Arkansas allows you to do.

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, 524 Arkansans participated in the fall 2019 Walk Across Arkansas, logging 798,340 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.

To learn more about Extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office. In Sevier County, that number is 584-3013. You can also visit www.uaex.edu.

TOURISM CONTINUES TO STRENGTHEN ECONOMY OF ARKANSAS   09/18/20

The positive economic impact of tourism in Arkansas continues to be significant, according to data released from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. In 2019, just under 69,000 Arkansans worked directly within the travel industry. That’s a 1.4 percent increase over 2018. And these ambassadors greeted more than 36 million visitors to The Natural State in 2019, a 10.2 percent increase.

The Division of Tourism’s 2019 economic impact report illustrates that tourism remains vital to Arkansas’s economy.

Arkansas’ total travel expenditures were also up 4.2 percent in 2019. And the 2 percent tourism tax revenue rose 7.5 percent over 2018 figures, one of the largest increases in the past decade.

Among the other key findings for 2019:

Travel-generated local tax is up 5.4 percent.

Travel-generated payroll is up 5.1 percent.

Travel-generated state tax is up 5.3 percent.

Travel-generated federal tax is up 4.9 percent.

State officials say tourism continues to be vital to Arkansas’s economic prosperity, despite significant setbacks caused by COVID-19.

For more information about the 2019 data, visit Arkansas.com.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES; ADDITIONAL DEATH REPORTED IN LITTLE RIVER AND MCCURTAIN COUNTIES    09/18/20

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:

Active positives of COVID-19 in Sevier County decreased by two to 13. Total cases were actually revised over the previous 24 hours, dropping by one 1,183. Recoveries grew by one to 1,154. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 remained unchanged at 12. Total cases grew by three to 325. Deaths increased by one to 19.

Howard County active cases decreased by two over the past 24 hours to 10. Total cases grew were unchanged at 447. Deaths remain at eight.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus increased by two to 12. Total cases were unchanged at 247. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported three additional active cases on Thursday for a total of 143. Total cases increased by 15 to 1,188. An additional death due to COVID-19 was reported in McCurtain County over the previous 24 hours, raising the total to 33.

Across the state, an additional 883 cases were confirmed in Arkansas on Thursday. That raises the cumulative statewide total to 71,614. Active cases grew by 154 to 5,726 currently. Deaths increased by 10 to 1,018.

TEXAS MAN SENTENCED TO 80 YEARS IN PRISON FOR NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE OVER DEATHS OF THREE HORATIO FAMILY MEMBERS    09/18/20

Justin Blake Williams

DE QUEEN – A Texas man has been sentenced to 80 years in prison for his involvement in a two-vehicle accident last year which resulted in the death of three members of a Horatio family.

26-year-old Justin Blake Williams of Abilene, Texas pleaded guilty on Sept. 17 to three counts of negligent homicide as well as one count of first-degree felony battery. A criminal trial was scheduled for Williams this week but he entered the guilty plea before the trial began.

According to an Arkansas State Police crash report, on Oct. 13, 2019, Williams was driving a Dodge Ram truck north on Highway 41 near De Queen when he crossed the centerline and struck an SUV containing four members of a family. A husband and wife, Mirza and Jessica Baig of Horatio, as well as their nine-year-old daughter, Lilian, were killed in the accident. Another child was transported with serious injuries to a hospital.

During an investigation, the reporting state trooper noticed the smell of alcohol emanating from Williams. His speech was noted as slurred. State police said he admitted to have a “few” drinks before the incident. He was charged later with negligent homicide for being intoxicated at the time of the accident.

Williams was sentenced Sept. 17 with 20 years for each of the four counts. The sentences will be served consecutively for a total of 80 years.

AREA SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS REMINDING PARENTS OF FREE MEALS THROUGH END OF FALL 2020 SEMESTER    09/18/20

(The partial transcript is featured below, here is the full audio story:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Public schools in the area are still hoping to get the word out to parents that all children in Arkansas are now entitled to free breakfast and lunch at school.
The USDA announced earlier this month it was waiving exemptions for the nationwide free meal program and expanding it to include all K-12 students. The new arrangement was formalized in Arkansas between the state departments of agriculture and education.

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.

Casey Nichols, superintendent of Ashdown Public Schools, explained how this program came into being.

Nichols said the impact the waiver has had for parents and families in the Ashdown School District has been extremely beneficial. COVID-19’s economic consequences have been as far reaching as the virus itself. A program that relieves parents of even just one financial obligation during these trying times can go a long way.

The exemption ends at the start of the Winter Break, unless it is further extended by the federal government. All meals provided through the exemption are reimbursed by the USDA. School administrators stress local tax money is not being used to pay for these free meals.

Despite the potential this program has, school administrators say many parents are still unaware that their children no longer have to pay for school meals – at least not through the rest of this semester. Nichols and other administrators are doing everything they can to make sure the word gets out.

Nichols stressed that families in the district still need to complete and return the free and reduced lunch form applications. This provides the district with additional federal resources for new technology and other tools that benefit the entire school system. This goes for all schools in the area and across Arkansas.

For more information on how to obtain a free or reduced meal application, contact your school’s administration office or visit their website as most are making the form available online. The deadline to return those completed forms is Oct. 1.

AMERICAN LEGION SEEKING COMMUNITY’S HELP LOCATING FINAL RESTING PLACES OF AREA VETERANS    09/18/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The American Legion has strove since its inception to advocate for and honor the memory of both living veterans and those long gone. An effort by members of the local American Legion chapter to recognize the area’s past veterans is continuing – but organizers say they’ll need some help from the broader community.

The American Legion Charles E. Brown Post 54, headquartered here in De Queen, is seeking to find the rightful home for a number of foot stones its members have found over the years. They’re hoping area residents will help them locate the final resting place of the servicemen and women named on these markers.

Rick Gregory, Ricky Hendricks and Michael Chenowith of Post 54 stopped by KDQN Studios yesterday with the list of names. They include:

-Ted R. Teaters, who passed away in May of 2015

-Herbert L. Foster, who passed away in 1977

-Linda Jeanette Young, born in 1943 but whose date of death is not known

-James Brown, who passed away in 1995

-Burdinel Dulte, who passed away in 1996

-Dan Jones, who passed away in 2016

They also provided a list of foot markers belonging to veterans of the U.S. Civil War. Those names include:

-J.H. Allison from Gillham, who passed away in 1916

-John Warfare of Cossatot

-Jesse Anderson of Chapel Hill, who passed away in 1899

-James P. Wilson of Oak Grove, who passed away in 1905

-H.C. Williamson, who passed away in 1921

-William E. Dudley, who passed away in 1915

The group has managed to locate the graves of around three dozen veterans named on the markers. But it’s going to take the community’s help in locating the rest.

Members gave a shout out to local veterans, especially those who have served during the ongoing Global War on Terrorism. They said veterans could use this project as a means of becoming involved with the American Legion. Hendricks is a veteran of the local National Guard Unit, Charle Company 153 headquartered in De Queen. He served in Iraq between 2004 and 2005, earning two Purple Hearts during his deployment. Hendricks has been commander of American Legion Post 54 for several years. He said the organization could benefit from some new and younger members.

For more information on this project, or for anyone interested in learning more about the American Legion, can contact Rick Gregory at (870) 381-7974 or Ricky Hendricks at (870) 584-8051.

FREE HEALTH FAIR SCHEDULED FOR DE QUEEN SEPT. 30    09/18/20

DE QUEEN – A Health Fair will be held in De Queen later this month with a variety of free health screenings for area residents.

The event is scheduled for Sept. 30 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Legacy Center in De Queen. The Legacy Center is located in the former First National Bank building on Third Street in downtown De Queen.

The event is being organized through the local Legacy Initiatives organization and the Arkansas Minority Health Commission. A number of check ups, preventative services and health screenings will be provided at absolutely no cost. Those services will be aimed at diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other similar health topics.

A free prostate screening will also be provided to men aged 45 to 75. September is Arkansas Prostate Cancer Awareness month. Health officials stress that prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent survivable if detected early. The American Cancer Society and the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation stress the need for men in Arkansas between the age of 45 and 75 to receive yearly prostate screenings.

CATTLE PRODUCERS INVITED TO JOIN FREE WEBINAR FROM UAEX ON FALL 2020 MARKET    09/18/20

Submitted by UofA Extension Service

2020 has proven as unpredictable a year for cattle producers as for anyone else. An upcoming webinar from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture aims to shed some light on the coming fall marketing season, taking into account reoccurring aspects and (one hopes) those unique to this year.

The hourlong webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. In addition to current market conditions, the webinar will cover factors that affect bid price, calf management, and supplemental feeding for preconditioned marketing and more.

Shane Gadberry, professor of cattle nutrition for the Division of Agriculture, said this year’s event takes place in a notably different market environment from previous meetings and webinars dedicated to fall cattle marketing.

Since August last year Arkansas has seen turmoil in the cattle markets, Gadberry explained. The fall of 2019 was associated with a fire at a processing plant. This spring, markets were responding to the stock market and a backlog of cattle in feedlots as processors were working through employee illnesses and worker safety issues due to COVID-19.

With the uncertainty of what a combined flu plus COVID-19 season will look like, cattle producers will want to pay attention to cattle markets and evaluate if marketing sooner or later fits best, Gadberry added.

The webinar will include a discussion of the current supply and demand situation for the beef industry. That discussion will be followed by a look at supply and demand factors that will likely influence fall feeder cattle and cull cow markets.

Panelists will also discuss multiple “sell versus retain” marketing scenarios.

The webinar, which will be presented on the Zoom online conferencing platform, is free to attend, but registration is required. To register and for additional information on the virtual event, visit www.uaex.edu

You can also contact the local Cooperative Extension Service office in your county. In Sevier County, that number is (870) 584-3013.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES    09/18/20

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:

Active positives of COVID-19 in Sevier County were unchanged at 15. Total cases increased by one 1,184.Recoveries grew by one to 1,153. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 fell by one to 12. Total cases grew by one to 322. Deaths remain at 18.

Howard County active cases decreased by two over the past 24 hours to 12. Total cases grew were unchanged at 447. Deaths remain at eight.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus dropped by two to 10. Total cases were unchanged at 247. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 13 less active cases on Wednesday for a total of 140. Total cases increased by five to 1,173. Deaths remain at 32.

A WEEK TO GO BEFORE THE START OF FIRST EVER PRIVATE LAND ALLIGATOR HUNT IN ARKANSAS    09/18/20

Submitted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Arkansas opens its first-ever private land alligator hunt in the southern half of the state this month. (Photo submitted by AGFC)

In just over two weeks, Arkansas will host its first-ever quota-based alligator hunt on private land in the southern portion of the state.

Officials with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission say they’ve received some calls from people wanting to make sure they’re legal to hunt alligators on their private land this year. Mark Barbee, a wildlife biologist at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Monticello Regional Office, said they are – as long as they follow a few rules. As long as the quote in their zone hasn’t been met and they have permission to hunt that private land, they are legal with only the $5 permit available atwww.agfc.com.

The change to the private land alligator hunt was introduced this year. Following the continued success of Arkansas’s bear quota hunts and private land elk quota hunts, biologists wanted to offer more opportunity to hunters in the southern half of the state who were interested in tagging an alligator. Previously alligator hunts were available only through a statewide lottery-style tag drawing.

Barbee says interested hunters should visit www.agfc.com/alligator to see more details about the hunt, including the online orientation videos and manual.

In the past, everyone who was drawn was required to attend a mandatory orientation class. With the expansion of the hunt to include anyone with permission to hunt private land in the alligator zones, those orientation materials are now on the website to show people the rules of the hunt. Hunters can download the entire orientation manual there to print out or read on their computer or phone.

Hunting is allowed only from 30 minutes after sundown until 30 minutes before sunup during the last two weekends in September.

Hunters should call the AGFC Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 after 2 p.m. the day of their hunt to check to see if the quota has been met for their zone. The season ends Sept. 28, or the night the quota is reached, whichever comes first.

EXTENSION SERVICE RELEASES 2020 VOTER GUIDE   09/18/20

DE QUEEN – The Cooperative Extension Service has released its 2020 Arkansas Ballot Issue Voter Guide.

The guide explains proposed ballot issues that Arkansas voters will decide during the general election on Tuesday, November 3.

It is designed to help Arkansans better understand the financial, social, or policy implications of proposed laws by publishing research-based fact sheets and by offering educational programs at the county level.

The guide covers all of the proposed ballot issues. There are court cases involving many of the issues, which may lead to some of them either being removed from the ballot, or orders to election officials not to count votes for or against the issues.

A limited number of printed voter guides will be available at every county Extension office, including Sevier, Howard, Little River and Polk Counties, later this month or by the first week of October. People who want printed copies should contact their local Extension office.

Helpful information about the voting process is available online at www.uaex.edu or the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website, sos.arkansas.gov

RECIPIENTS OF UNEMPLOYMENT REMINDED THAT BENEFITS ARE TAXABLE   09/18/20

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans received or are currently receiving unemployment compensation, many of them for the first time. It’s important for these individuals to know that unemployment compensation is taxable.

People can have taxes withheld from this compensation now to help avoid owing taxes on this income when they file their income tax return next year.

By law, these benefits are taxable and must be reported on a federal income tax return for the tax year it was received. Taxable benefits include any of the special unemployment compensation authorized under the CARES Act.

Federal law allows recipients to choose a flat 10% withholding from these benefits to cover part or all their tax liability. To do this, recipients should complete the Voluntary Withholding Request form and give it to the agency paying their benefits. Don’t send the form to the IRS. If the paying agency has its own withholding request form, use it instead.

Recipients who don’t choose voluntary withholding, or if the withholding isn’t enough, can make quarterly estimated tax payments.

Recipients who return to work before the end of the year can use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to make sure the right amount of tax is taken out of their pay. This online tool is available on IRS.gov, and it can help workers or pension recipients avoid or lessen year-end tax bills or can estimate a refund.

BOND SALES GO FORWARD FOR NEW SEVIER COUNTY HOSPITAL    09/16/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Bonds for Sevier County’s new hospital hit the market last week and weren’t there for event 24 hours before they were sold.

That’s a sign investors are ready and willing to put their money in Sevier County and the new Medical Center.

Officials with the county and hospital board of governors said during last week’s meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court that they were really pleased with the quick turnaround.

County Judge Greg Ray said the whole process is history in the making.
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The bond sale will officially close Oct. 22 with funds slated to enter the hospital account immediately thereafter. The bonds carry an overall, 30-year interest rate of 3.07 percent. The sale will bring a little over $22 million for construction of the new hospital. The maturity date to pay them back is Aug. 1, 2050.

Once funds are released to county and hospital officials, construction on the Sevier County Medical Center can began immediately. Ground breaking on the site, located several miles north of De Queen on Highway 71, is expected to begin Nov. 1. Construction is scheduled for completion in early 2022.

The bonds will be paid back through a one-cent sales tax passed by voters in support of the new hospital last year. Sales tax collections this year have hit record levels, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences. The record sales tax collections show Sevier County residents are shopping locally and ensuring the hospital has a great financial start.

County Judge Greg Ray said the sales tax could not have been expected to be this strong, not in the middle of a pandemic.
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During the quorum court meeting on Friday, Dr. Steve Cole, chancellor of UA Cossatot and director of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governor’s, reiterated the board’s desire to soon hire a hospital administrator. He said the board hopes to have a qualified, capable and energetic administrator in place around the first of the year. Given the experience of past hospital administrators in Sevier County, Dr. Cole said the board will be very selective in how and who it chooses.

In other business, the quorum court approved $6,000 in financial assistance to senior citizen centers in Sevier County. The money will be given to the centers’ administrators, David Boone Ministries, to purchase meals for home delivery to senior citizens in Sevier County. We’ll be bringing you more on that story later.

Finally, the quorum court passed a statement of support for Issue 1 on the Arkansas ballot for the November General Election. If passed, Issue 1 would continue a statewide, one-half-cent sales and use tax for state, county and city highways, bridges, streets and other surface transportation. Amendment supporters are seeking resolutions of support from all 75 Arkansas counties. The tax is currently scheduled to expire in 2023.

Ray said counties and cities in Arkansas each receive 15 percent of the funds collected through the tax. That means about $400,000 for road improvements in Sevier County alone. City and county officials are hoping the measure passes this November to ensure that money continues to support infrastructure improvements in the area.
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The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet again in regular session on Oct. 12.

DE QUEEN MAN RECEIVES SENIOR MASTER LEVEL TECHNICIAN STATUS THROUGH FORD MOTOR COMPANY     09/16/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

John Terrell has been named a senior master technician through the Ford Motor Company. The title is only given to technicians who go through the greatest lengths of the Ford Training Company. John has served as a technician for De Queen Auto Group for the past 30 years.

John Terrell of De Queen has achieved the status of senior master technician with the Ford Motor Company. He has worked for De Queen Auto Group as a technician for more than three decades.

The title of senior master technician is the highest possible distinction through the company, and it’s a designation reserved only for technicians who have gone to the greatest lengths through the Ford Training program.

Since its inception in 1999, only a small percentage of technicians ever achieve this accomplishment. All-in-all, becoming a senior master technician requires 550 hours of classwork – or about the same amount of schooling as it would take a first-year college student to achieve two Ph.Ds – plus years of on-the-job experience.

It’s an incredible feat for a technician, given the level of expertise and technical knowledge required.

I was fortunate enough to have worked with John for several years in the service department at De Queen Auto Group. I know how busy he is, so I was grateful that he was able to take a few moments to talk to me earlier this week.

The following is the full audio interview, which will also be broadcast on our Wednesday, Sept. 16 news segment at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.:
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UA COSSATOT CELEBRATES STATUS AS SOLE HISPANIC SERVING INSTITUTION IN ARKANSAS    09/16/20

By Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

September 14 – 20 is National Hispanic Serving Institutions Week. During this week, UA Cossatot is celebrating being one of these Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

UA Cossatot is Arkansas’s one and only college federally designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution or H.S.I. HSI’s play a huge role in improving and providing access to education as well as advancing equity for underserved students.

During this week, UA Cossatot would like to recognize that the education attained by LatinX students in Southwest Arkansas rests also on the level of skills and training provided to these students, which are the largest minority in the area. College officials said UA Cossatot is committed to Hispanic success in higher education and takes pride in continuing to be the only HSI institution in Arkansas since 2015.

UA Cossatot’s Center for Student Success has invited all students to raise awareness of HSI week and upload a picture to social media of themselves while being on campus or being in one’s studies and use the #HSIweek.

SLIGHT VENUE CHANGE TO NEXT WEEK’S MASS FLU CLINIC     09/16/20

DE QUEEN – There has been a slight venue change to the Mass Flu Clinic scheduled in De Queen next week. Instead of being held at the Sevier County Health Unit, the drive-thru clinic will now be set up at the Methodist Church parking lot across from the Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street. Please enter the parking lot on Heynecker Street and exit through the alley by the Methodist Church.

Local health units will be organizing their annual countywide immunization efforts differently this year. In contrast to previous years, Sevier County’s 2020 clinic will be a week-long event beginning Sept. 21 and continuing through the 25th. Trained staff will be providing influenza vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.

In addition to next week’s mass flu clinic, influenza vaccinations will be available soon at most doctor offices and family clinics. Local, state and national health experts are stressing the need for Arkansans to receive their influenza vaccines this flu season. They’ve expressed a lot of concern over what effects influenza will have this year in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

For more information on the Sevier County Mass Flu Clinic scheduled for Sept. 21-25, call the local health unit at 642-2535.

ASHDOWN PUBLIC SCHOOLS HONORS RETIREES     09/16/20

ASHDOWN – Ashdown Public schools held a private reception Monday night to honor educators and staff retiring this year.

Those honored during the ceremony included Floyd Abner, Becky Aylett, Gwendolyn Brumley, Linda Davis, Sharla Fricks, Keith Fricks, Hardy Gibbons, Donna Green, Kim Joyce, Rebecca Markle, Georglyn Miller, Ryan Murry, Janet Phillips, Arlena Reed, Iven Richard, Virginia Spain, Brenda Tate, Gail Wade, Katrina Williamson and Sharlotte Wright.

Together, these retirements total a combined 499 years of experience and service to Ashdown Public Schools. District officials said these educators and staff members will be greatly missed.

Photos of the individual retirees are shared on KDQN’s Facebook page!

DEADLINE COMING UP TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION     09/16/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The November General Election is less than two months away and sure to be an interesting one between the ongoing pandemic and a presidential race. Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin is informing county residents of some important dates and election information between now and election day on Nov. 3.

Citizens who have not registered to vote and wish to do so in the November General Election must register by Oct. 5. If you’ve moved from one Arkansas county to another, you will have until Oct. 30 to transfer your registration.

Early voting will be held the last two weeks of October at the Community Building in the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.

For those who plan to vote on Election Day, the county will have six voting centers open for use. Those include the De Queen Community Building, the Ben Lomond Community Building, the Lockesburg Methodist Church, the J.L. Walker Fellowship Hall in Horatio, the De Queen Church of Christ and the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative.

Anyone interested in becoming an election work in the upcoming election should contact their county clerk’s office.

For more information or if you have any questions, contact the Sevier County Clerk’s office at 642-2852. In Little River County, that number is (870) 898-7202. In Howard, (870) 845-7502. And in Polk County, (479) 394-8123.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES     09/16/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Active positives of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw another decrease by two to 15. Total cases increased by one to 1,183. Recoveries grew by three to 1,152. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 grew by one to 13. Total cases grew by three to 321. Deaths remain at 18.

Howard County active cases were unchanged over the past 24 hours at 14. Total cases grew by one to 447. Deaths remain at eight.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus stayed at 12. Total cases grew by one on Tuesday to 247. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported nine less active cases on Tuesday for a total of 153. Total cases increased by eight to 1,168. Deaths remain at 32.

AMERICAN LEGION SEEKING TO FIND FINAL RESTING PLACE FOR FOOT STONES OF DECEASED LOCAL VETERANS   09/15/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
The American Legion has strove since its inception to advocate for and honor the memory of both living veterans and those long gone. An effort by members of the local American Legion chapter to recognize the area’s past veterans is continuing – but organizers say they’ll need some help from the broader community.
The American Legion Charles E. Brown Post 54, headquartered here in De Queen, is seeking to find the rightful home for a number of foot stones its members have found over the years. They’re hoping area residents will help them locate the final resting place of the servicemen and women named on these markers.
That was Ricky Hendricks, commander of Post 54 in De Queen. He and other American Legion members are spearheading the renewed effort to get these foot stones into local cemeteries and to their rightful owners. They’ll be visiting KDQN Studios at 8:15 Wednesday morning with a list of names found on the markers. They hope at least a few listeners recognize the names and now where these veterans are buried. The names include veterans who have served in all the major conflicts involving the United States. They also date as far back as the American Civil War.
Hendricks said the group has managed to locate the graves of a number of veterans named on the markers. But it’s going to take the community’s help in locating the rest.
Hendricks added that local veterans, especially those who have served during the ongoing Global War on Terrorism, could use this project as a means of becoming involved with the American Legion. Hendricks is a veteran of the local National Guard Unit, Charle Company 153 headquartered in De Queen. He served in Iraq between 2004 and 2005, earning two Purple Hearts during his deployment. Hendricks has been commander of American Legion Post 54 for several years. He said the organization could benefit from some new and younger members.
Tune in to KDQN 92.1FM tomorrow morning for the list of foot stones collected by the local American Legion post. You might just be able to lend members a very big hand.
For more information on this project, or for anyone interested in learning more about the American Legion, can contact Hendricks at (870) 584-8051.
SEVIER COUNTY HEALTH UNIT TO HOST ANNUAL MASS FLU CLINIC NEXT WEEK   09/15/20
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Health Unit will host its annual Mass Flu Clinic for area residents next week.
Local health units will be organizing their annual countywide immunization efforts differently this year. In contrast to previous years, the 2020 clinic will be a week-long event beginning Sept. 21 and continuing through the 25th. Trained staff will be providing influenza vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. The drive-thru clinic will be set up at the Methodist Church parking lot across from the Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street. Please enter the parking lost on Heynecker Street and exit through the alley by the Methodist Church.
In addition to next week’s mass flu clinic, influenza vaccinations will be available soon at most doctor offices and family clinics. Local, state and national health experts are stressing the need for Arkansans to receive their influenza vaccines this flu season. They’ve expressed a lot of concern over what effects influenza will have this year in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
For more information on the Sevier County Mass Flu Clinic scheduled for Sept. 21-25, call the local health unit at 642-2535.
DE QUEEN SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES BUDGET, DISCUSSES COVID-19 AND OCT. 30 HOMECOMING CEREMONY   09/15/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
The De Queen School District will be funded for another year, after the local Board of Education approved the district’s 2020-2021 budget during its meeting Monday night.
All-in-all, the district enters the fiscal year with a budget of around $24 million. That includes $21 million in operating funds and another several million in federal revenue. Revenues for the year are expected to be around $21 million. That leaves several million in reserve – meeting a statewide requirement for districts to do so in case projected revenues fall short.
The new budget includes a number of sizeable capital projects related to ongoing renovations of the De Queen high school and junior high campuses. Some of the projects included in this Phase II construction are the expanded junior high cafeteria, several new nursing hoffices, a renovated music and choir hall and courtyard connecting the two campuses.
Superintendent Jason Sanders reported that the district currently totals 2,317 students. That’s about 50 lower than last year. Most of the difference, Sanders said, is decreased kindergarten enrollment.
Sanders said the district currently has two confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students, including one reported on Monday. Those two cases have required a total of 14 students to quarantine through guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health. All are well, Sanders said, and he expects most to return to class within the next week. No staff are currently quarantined.
Related to COVID-19, the board of education approved a new district policy authorizing an additional 10 days of leave to staff and faculty. This leave is only available if their absence is related to the virus – whether they have it themselves or are required to quarantine due to close contact with a confirmed case. The time off would be reimbursed through state funds. The policy was recommended by the Arkansas School Board Association.
The board briefly discussed De Queen High School’s Homecoming ceremony, scheduled for Oct. 30. District officials are still working out event guidelines with the Arkansas Departments of Health and Education. At this point, said De Queen Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton, the event may not be much more than a coronation event for the Homecoming king and queen. Anything more than that will be up to state health and education officials.
The rest of the night’s meetings focused on more or less routine matters. The board of education approved the purchase of two used school buses for a total of $130,000. The district’s minority recruitment plan, personnel policies, salary schedules, parent engagement plans and statements of assurances were all approved.
The board accepted the resignation of Coach Lance Weeks and food service employee Maria Hernandez. Eight student transfers were also approved.
Finally, district officials agreed to set the 2020 Public Meeting for Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. in the De Queen Cafeteria. This “State of the District” type address is held annually to provide an opportunity for members of the public to come by and learn more about the district.
Information from the public meeting will be posted online for anyone who can’t attend. The school board’s next scheduled meeting will follow immediately afterwards.
FOUKE CANCELS FRIDAY’S FOOTBALL GAME; LEOPARDS NOW HEADING TO CENTERPOINT   09/15/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Leopards’ away game this week against Fouke has been cancelled.

The announcement was made by De Queen athletic officials yesterday afternoon. The decision was reached after consulting with officials from the Fouke School District, who stated a number of athletes on their football team were quarantined due to proximity to a confirmed case of COVID-19.
The Leopards will instead travel to Centerpoint this Friday night for 7 p.m. kickoff.

HEALTHCARE EXPRESS IN DE QUEEN INVITING AREA VETERANS TO FREE LUNCH THIS FRIDAY   09/15/20

DE QUEEN – Veterans are welcome to come by HealthCARE Express in De Queen this Friday, Sept. 18 for a free hot dog lunch in honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at HealthCare Express, located at 1021 W Collin Raye Drive in De Queen. In adherence to COVID-19 safety precautions, the lunch will be drive-thru style.

A veteran-owned company, HealthCARE Express officials said they are proud to be part of the VA’s network of urgent care clinics, so they can give back to the brave men and women in their community that have risked so much to protect this country.

For more information on this topic, please contact Brook Stone at brooke.stone@gohce.com.

GILLHAM FIREFIGHTERS TO HELP RESIDENTS REMOVE BRUSH, LIMBS TO CUT DOWN ON FIRE HAZARDS   09/15/20
GILLHAM – The Gillham Volunteer Fire Department with help from volunteers and the Town of Gillham will have a chipping day thiscoming Saturday September 19 starting around 1:30 p.m.at the fire station. The event has two goals: assisting Gillham residents in disposing of limbs and wood debris while also cutting down on fire hazards.
If you have limbs in your yard, over grown hedges next to your house or other brush-type debris, Gillham volunteer firefighters and city workers will help get rid of it. Participants are invited to pull to the edge of the road next to the Gillham Fire Station to drop off the debris. Call Gillham Fire Chief Mark Rosson at (870) 584-9434 if you need assistance on-site or disposing of limbs and brush at your home.
Volunteers are being sought for this Saturday’s event and anyone interested should contact Rosson. This is a community project and everyone is invited to take advantage of it. Rosson asks Gillham residents to share the message and tell their neighbors. This event will the Gillham Volunteer Fire Department’s project through the Arkansas Firewise program.
The Fire Department was able to purchase a chipper and a 24-inch Husqvarna chainsaw through a grant from the Arkansas Firewise program. Only certain fire prevention tools are available through the grant, no firefighting equipment. As chief of the Gillham Volunteer Fire Department Rosson said over the past few years that the most difficult task of the annual Firewise project is disposing of brush. Projects like the chipping day set for this Saturday are designed to help inform the community on fire prevention measures. It is, of course, less costly to prevent fires than to fight one, Rosson added.
For more information contact Rosson at (870) 584-9434.
OCT. 1 IS DEADLINE TO TURN IN FREE/REDUCED SCHOOL MEAL APPLICATIONS; DQ SCHOOL OFFICIALS URGE PARENTS TO COMPLETE FORMS   09/15/20
DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools is urging parents to fill out the district’s free and reduced meal program registration. The completed registration serves two very important roles, district officials said: first, it ensures children of low-income families in the school district receive access to free meals or meals with reduced pricing.

Secondly, the more completed registration forms the district receives, the more federal funding it is guaranteed through the national Title 1 program. In the past, De Queen Public Schools has used these resources to enhance and promote technology in the classroom and for other programs that benefit the entire student district.

District officials say around 70 percent of De Queen’s students qualify for either a free or reduced-price meal. Completed registration forms have been returned in fewer numbers than in previous years, officials said.

This is likely due to the high number of virtual students – around 600, or about a fourth of all De Queen students – not completing their forms. District officials stress virtual students are also eligible for free and reduced school meals.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES  09/15/20

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 did not see an increase over the past 24 hours and remain at 17. Recoveries and total cases increased by one, to 1,182 and 1,149 respectively. Deaths remain at 16.
In neighboring counties, Little River County did not report an increase in active cases of COVID-19, which currently number 12. Total cases remained the same at 318. Deaths were unchanged at 18.
In Howard County active cases decreased by one to 14. Total cases continued unchanged over the past 24 hours at 446. Deaths remain at eight.
Polk County active cases only saw an increase of one to 12. Total cases also grew by one to 246. Deaths are unchanged at four.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, active cases in McCurtain County saw a decrease of six to 162. Total cases grew by five to 1,160. Deaths did not see an increase and remain unchanged at 32.
Across Arkansas, total cases increased from Sunday by 449 to 69,499. Confirmed active cases of the virus dropped by 108 to 5,719. Deaths grew by 11 to 987.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson held his last daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference last Friday. The briefing will now be held once a week or when needed. This week’s press conference is scheduled for today. We’ll be bringing you information from that address this afternoon and from any other developments that occur.

DE QUEEN FIREFIGHTERS ORGANIZE MEMORIAL WALK FOR 19th ANNIVERSARY OF SEPT. 11 ATTACKS   09/14/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
The De Queen Fire Department organized a memorial walk in De Queen on Saturday to honor the lives of the 343 NYC firefighters who perished responding to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Photos by Patrick Massey.

Members of the De Queen Fire Department organized a memorial walk through the city Saturday morning to honor the lives of firefighters who perished responding to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City. The group included De Queen firefighters, two troopers of the Arkansas State Police and a Nashville police officer. They walked from KDQN Studios to Tractor Supply in back. They began at 8:46 that morning – the exact time the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Firefighters donned full gear while officers carried fire hoses to symbolize the struggle and sacrifice of NYC firefighters when they responded to the Sept. 11 attacks. 343 firefighters died that day alongside several dozen police officers and other first responders.

Arkansas State Trooper Ernesto Echevarria and De Queen Firefighter Jay Litchford.

De Queen firefighters Jay Litchford, PJ Minor, Jonathon Helms and Brandon Winer organized the memorial walk to honor those lives. The idea to host the event in De Queen came about after the cancellation of an annual commemoration in Oklahoma City due to COVID-19. At that event firefighters from across the nation scale the 110 floors of the BancFirst building in downtown OKC. That’s the same number of floors as each of the World Trade Center towers. Eight De Queen firefighters had planned to attend.

De Queen Firefighters Brandon Winer, left, and Jonathon Helms.

Jay Litchford of the De Queen Fire Department said the group felt it was necessary to do something this year to keep the memorial going. The distance of Saturday’s walk matched the number of steps to the 110th floor of the BancFirst building. Litchford shared some thoughts after the memorial walk completed that morning.

Arkansas State Trooper Josh Broughton.

A number of area residents lined along Collin Raye Drive Saturday morning to show their support for the memorial walk. One of those was Sam Phillips of De Queen. Phillps is a World War II veteran and a retired firefighter from Odessa, Texas. He came out to cheer on the firefighters as they walked through De Queen.

Sam Phillips – a World War II veteran, motorcyclist and retired Odessa, Texas firefighter who lives in De Queen – came out to support local emergency responders who walked in honor of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Last Friday marked the 19th annivesary of the tragic 9/11 attack, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people. The walk in De Queen was one of a number of memorial events held across the nation over the past few days. Litchford and other firefighters said they felt the need to do something locally as Sept. 11 was an event which impacted the lives of every American, no matter the size of their community.

REMEMBERING GARY GOLDEN, ONE OF DE QUEEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS’ GREATEST SUPPORTERS   09/14/20
The full audio story is available here:
The following is the partial transcript from the audio story:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Gary Golden, who passed away on Sept. 4, will be remembered in De Queen for generations to come for his generous support of De Queen Public Schools and its students. His passion for community service was expressed through his church, De Queen First Assembly of God, and by serving on a number of local and regional boards.

De Queen lost one of its biggest supporters and community leaders with the passing of Gary Golden earlier this month.

Although not a native of the area, Golden came to play an instrumental part in the community through his position as Chief Executive Officer of First State Bank of De Queen and through numerous endeavors in the community. Golden passed away on Sept. 4.
Born in Hope in 1950, Golden became the first in his family to attend college when he enrolled at Southern Arkansas University. He graduated in 1974 with his degree in Animal Science. In 2012 he was named a Graduate of Distinction by the university. The pride he felt for Southern Arkansas University and the importance he placed on graduation led him to give back to the university by volunteering to serve on SAU’s Board of Trustees earlier this year.
Locally, Golden also served as chairman for the De Queen Industrial Park Public Facilities Board and as an active member of his church, First Assembly of God in De Queen. Church was a major part of Golden’s life and he proudly served on committees, church boards and as a deacon.
Perhaps one of his greatest legacies is the support he showed proudly and continually for De Queen Public Schools. De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said, in his many years of education, he’s met few people as dedicated and generous as Golden was to the De Queen School District and its students.
The connection between Golden, First State Bank and De Queen Public Schools ranged from little things like making sure visitors to and longtime residents of De Queen were always greeted by a billboard in town showcasing De Queen students, to the big things like ensuring De Queen Public Schools had the best financial resources at its disposal.
One of the bank’s most lasting contributions spearheaded by Golden hasn’t been built yet, but will greet fans of the De Queen Leopards for many years to come: the video scoreboard which will be built at Leopard Stadium in time for the 2021-2022 football season. Sanders said the district wasn’t sure how it was going to afford to replace the aging score board currently in place, not with so many businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Sanders just wasn’t sure if it would be possible – that is, until he spoke to Golden at First State Bank.
Although Golden was not a native of De Queen, Sanders said that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the district’s greatest champions.  Golden’s legacy, his contributions and the example he set, Sanders added, will continue to have an impact on many future generations of De Queen students.
Julie Brown, owner of First State Bank, worked with Golden over the past two decades. She said giving back to the community was a focus and vision Golden always carried with him.
Golden’s legacy will no doubt be one remembered on the SAU campus as well. SAU President Dr. Trey Berry said not only had he lost a dear friend with Golden’s passing, but the campus also suffered the loss of one of its greatest defenders and supporters.
Golden leaves behind his wife of 49 years, Gaywyn, as well as his daughter, Gigi, and son Grant. He will also be remembered by his four grandchildren and two sisters.
Funeral serves were held for Golden on Sunday, Sept. 6 at De Queen First Assembly of God with Pastor Ray Reynolds officiating. Burial followed at Liberty Cemetery in Prescott.

Memorials and online sympathy messages can be viewed at www.chandlerfuneral.com. These touching memorials to Golden display just how much of an impact he had on people not just in De Queen but across the region and state.

FREE COVID-19 TESTING THIS EVENING IN LITTLE RIVER COUNTY   09/14/20
ASHDOWN – The Little River County Health Unit will host a COVID-19 drive-thru clinic at the Little River County Health Unit today.
The event will be held today from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Anyone can be tested during this event free of charge.
For more information call 870-898-3831. The Little River County Health Unit is located at 150 Keller Street in Ashdown.
AREA SCHOOL BOARDS SCHEDULED TO MEET TONIGHT     09/14/20
DE QUEEN – The De Queen Board of Education is scheduled to meet tonight in regular session starting at 5:30 p.m. in the new De Queen High School Library.

After hearing the superintendent’s report and financial update, the board will discuss a number of new business items. That includes a vote on the district’s minority recruitment plan, statement of assurance and De Queen’s parent and family engagement plan.

Board members are also expected to vote on the district’s 2020-2021 budget. That will be followed by a discussion and vote on school transfers, resignations and other personnel matters.

The meeting is open to the public.

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HORATIO – The Horatio Board of Education will meet tonight starting at 6 p.m. in the Horatio High School Library. The meeting will start with a report from Superintendent Zane Vanderpool and reports from principals of each of the schools.

Under new business, the board is slated to vote on a number of student transfers and policies related to the board of education. Other routine reports and financial statements will also be voted on. The meeting is open to the public.

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ASHDOWN – The Ashdown School District will host its monthly school board meeting tonight at 6 p.m. in the administration office. A reception honoring the 2019-2020 retirees will be held in the high school auditorium at 5 p.m. prior to the board meeting. The reception is by invitation only due to COVID-19. The school board meeting will be open to the public.

DE QUEEN FIREFIGHTERS ORGANIZE MEMORIAL WALK FOR 19th ANNIVERSARY OF SEPT. 11 ATTACKS   09/11/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives that day after hijackers piloted planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Another plane crash landed in field in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to wrest control of the aircraft from the hijackers. All on board were killed.

Among those killed that day were 343 New York City firefighters who responded to the attacks. In honor of their memory, De Queen Firefighters are staging a walk through the city tomorrow morning.

The walk will begin in front of KDQN Studios on 921 Collin Raye Drive starting at 8:46 a.m. This time marks the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

Firefighters and other emergency responders from the area will walk in full gear towards Tractor Supply in De Queen. This distance corresponds to the height of the World Trade Center. Firefighters participating in the walk will be donning 50-60 pounds of gear to symbolize in part the effort given by NYC firefighters on Sept. 11, 2001.

The walk was organized in De Queen after the cancellation of an annual commemoration event in Oklahoma City due to COVID-19. Local firefighters trained for months to participate in this event. Jay Litchford of the De Queen Fire Department said local firefighters still wanted to do something to remind residents of that tragic day.

The De Queen Fire Department invites everyone to line up Collin Raye Drive tomorrow morning during the walk to show their support and honor those who lost their lives during the attack. Passer-bys in cars are also asked to honk in a show of support.

WINNERS OF THE 2020 SEVIER COUNTY LIVESTOCK SHOW   09/11/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

It was a limited affair this year, but organizers behind the annual Sevier County Fair still managed to put on a great livestock show last week.

The fair was just one of many, many events cancelled or severely curtailed this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers with the 83rd annual Sevier County Fair and Rodeo announced earlier this summer that this year’s event would feature no fair or rodeo. The commercial building and exhibitions were also put on hold.

But, with the blessing of the Arkansas Department of Health, the fair association was able to organize the annual livestock show. That was a really big deal to all the area youth who spend countless hours raising, grooming and showing their livestock in anticipation of the big yearly show.

Despite the pandemic, turnout didn’t suffer, either. Dozens of local youth participated in the event with friends and parents looking on. Even a tremendous and threatening thunderstorm the first night of the livestock show didn’t turn anyone away. Kids gave it their all showing livestock that night despite being soaked by rain and nearly deafened by the booming thunder.

We’ll be speaking with fair board members next week to discuss more about the show, its challenges and what 2021 may look like. But for now, we want to recognize the youth who came out, worked hard and walked away with some well-earned wins last week.

68 animals were shown during the market hog division of the Sevier County Livestock Show. The top four winners included:

Kinlee Stivers with Grand Champion, Kix Lee with Reserve Grand Champion, Kolton Dockins with third and Kane Faulkenberry with fourth place.

Bristol Lee won the Clover Bud Market Hog Award.

Kix Lee took first place in the junior swine showmanship competition, Kolton Dockins second, Tocie Tallant third and Bella Baker fourth. Kane Faulkenberry won the senior swine showmanship competition, Hunter Frachiseur took second, Megan Midgett third and Madison Bagley fourth.

In the Market Lamb division, Kate Baker took the Grand Champion title. Gabbi Litchford won reserve grand champion. Madison Bagley received third place and Hunter Frachiseur fourth.

Jake Seymour took first place in the junior lamb showmanship category while Marley Fielding took second. Hunter Frachiseur received top place in the senior category and Gabbi Litchford took home second place.

Raegan Frachiseur’s goat received Grand Champion while Reserve Grand Champion went to Brayden Frachiseur. Caselynn VanVoast received third while fourth place went to Evin Frachiseur.

Gabbie Litchford received the Grand Champion award in the steer division. Reserve Grand Champion was earned by Kix Lee. Black Sawyer received third overall and Kade Smith took fourth.

Maddie Rivas earned Grand Champion American Heifer, Megan Midgett Reserve. Grand Champion Bull was earned by Kayden Davis, Reserve by Raylee VanVoast.

The Grand Champion English Heifer was shown by Katy Cooley. Keegan McCoy showed the Reserve Grand English Heifer and the Grand English Bull.

Kix Lee showed the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion Exotic Heifer. Kyle Williamson earned Grand Champion Exotic Bull for his animal while reserve went to Katy Williamson.

Charlie Collins showed the Grand Champion broiler while reserve went to Silas Collins. Monica Rivas took third while fourth place went to Keegan McCoy. The Grand Champion Goldfish was shown by Jace Blanton.

We’ll be adding pictures of some of these winners and scenes from around this year’s livestock show today and over the next few days.

These Grand Champion showers will move on to the regional competition, set to begin tonight at the Four States Livestock Show in Texarkana.

ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE NOW       09/11/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

If you plan on voting absentee this year, local election officials ask you to begin the process as soon as possible.

Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin said her office is expecting many more Sevier County voters will choose an absentee ballot this year. In the last election, the county received only 75 absentee ballots. So far this year, with the election still nearly two months away, her office has already received 100 applications.

Because of the expected demand, Akin urges local voters to fill out an absentee application as soon as possible.

Any registered voter who would like to vote absentee can apply for a ballot immediately. Registered voters must apply to vote absentee, but the process is an easy one. The application form is available by calling the county clerk’s office at (870) 642-2852 or by emailingcountyclerk@sevco.ar.gov. The application is also available on the Arkansas Secretary of State website.

On the application form, voters are required to check a box selecting their reason for voting absentee. County Clerk Debbie Akin said the office will accept any application that has checked the box stating you, “will be unavoidably absent from your polling place on election day.”

If you plan on submitting your absentee application in person, you must do so by the close of business the day before the election. If submitting by mail or by electronic forms, applications must be received seven days before the election. If submitting a ballot through a designated bearer, the bearer must submit the ballot by 7:30 p.m. on election day. Absentee ballots returned via mail must be received by the county clerk’s office by 7:30 p.m. on election day.

Absentee ballots will be mailed out beginning Sept. 18.

The ballot itself must be submitted in person by the close of business the day before the election.

Akin said anyone who plans to complete the absentee voting process completely by mail should begin so as soon as possible, due to any possible delays in mail delivery. Akin welcomes Sevier County voters to call her and confirm her office has received their application or ballot.

We’ll be bringing you more information about the upcoming election, including other important dates and ballot details, in the coming weeks as the election nears.

DMEC OFFERING DEVELOPMENTAL SCREENINGS FOR AREA CHILDREN BEGINNING SEPT. 14      09/11/20

GILLHAM – The De Queen/Mena Educational Cooperative is reaching out to parents not just in Sevier and Polk Counties, but Little River as well to offer developmental screenings for children.

The early childhood education staff from the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative is available to provide vision, hearing, developmental and speech screenings for preschoolers between the ages of three and five. Screenings may be scheduled for children living in the Ashdown and Foreman school districts by contacting Regina Grubbs at (870) 784-0556 for an appointment.

The De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative staff stresses the importance of the early identification of vision, hearing and developmental problems. They encourage parents who are concerned about their child to participate in the free screenings beginning Sept. 14. For more information, contact the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative at (479) 385-4319 or your local school district.

UA COSSATOT FLEX CLASSES NOW AVAILABLE      09/11/20

Submitted by Ben Renfrow, UA Cossatot

UA Cossatot is offering flex courses this fall beginning on Oct. 5 for anyone wanting to catch up, get ahead, or take a college class at a faster rate. The deadline to sign up for an October 2020 flex course is Friday, Sept. 25.

Instead of taking a traditional college course in a 16-week term, UA Cossatot students can have the option to earn college credit in half the time. Courses such as Intermediate Algebra, Accounting Principles II, A & P II, Macroeconomics, Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Principles of Management are all available for students to take in October.

Students can enroll in flex classes now by contacting Student Services at 870-584-4471 or studentservices@cccua.edu. UA Cossatot is also open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Walk-ins are always welcome.

ASHDOWN TEACHERS AWARDED GRANTS THROUGH MDEF     09/11/20

Ashdown Junior High Teacher Dee Ann Ward received a $2,279.20 grant from the Margaret Daniel Educational Foundation to implement robotics programs in her STEM Llab. The Foundation awards grants to teachers in Ashdown Public Schools to help them provide extra “out of the box” educational experiences for their students. Pictured from left to right are Board Members Thad Bishop and Kari Harger. and Dee Ann Ward.
William Gentry, a teacher with Ashdown Public Schools, was recently awarded a $1,626 grant from the Margaret Daniel Educational Foundation for an Arclight Dynamics CNC router and tracer. The new equipment will be used to teach Ashdown students in the latest in CNC practices and techniques. Pictured from left to right are Board Members Thad Bishop and Kari Harger, Ashdown Junior High Principal Felicia Horn, and William Gentry.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES     09/11/20

DE QUEEN – As of Thursday afternoon, here are the latest COVID-19 figures for Sevier County, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active positives of COVID-19 in Sevier County did not see a change over the past 24 hours and remain at 13. Total cases increased by one to 1,175. Recoveries grew by one to 1,146. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County saw an increase of eight active cases of COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours. That leaves just 19 confirmed cases in the county. Total cases grew by two to 313. Deaths remain at 18.

Howard County active cases saw another decrease on Thursday, dropping by five to 13. Total cases since the start of the pandemic grew by two to 439. Deaths remain at eight.

In Polk County, active positive cases are unchanged at 15. Total cases grew by one to 241. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported three fewer active cases of the virus on Thursday. That leaves 152 confirmed cases in the county. Total cases grew by seven to 1,119. Deaths remain at 13.

MORATORIUM ON RENTAL EVICTIONS IN EFFECT THROUGH DECEMBER     09/11/20

WASHINGTON, D.C. – To ease hardships caused by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a national moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent from Sept. 4 until Dec. 31 of this year.

This moratorium places a temporary halt to residential evictions. The moratorium does not prevent evictions for other reasons and does not relieve tenants of any obligations to pay rent, late fees, or penalties.

Tenants seeking protection under the moratorium are required to submit a declaration stating their inability to pay rent with specific supporting facts. The declaration, for example, must include statements reflecting: the tenant’s efforts to obtain government assistance; the tenant’s income; the tenant’s inability to pay rent due to loss of income, work, or significant medical expenses; the tenant’s efforts to try to make full or partial rent payments; and whether the eviction would likely cause the tenant to live in a homeless shelter or in close quarters with others where COVID might spread.

The CDC’s Order does not forgive rent payments and does not relieve tenants of the obligation to pay rent.

Tenants are encouraged to continue paying rent in an agreed amount with their landlord in order to avoid any large amounts of rent due following the expiration of the moratorium.

Tenants protected by the moratorium will still have to pay all rent due under the lease when the moratorium ends.

To utilize the CDC Order’s protections, tenants must submit a copy of a declaration to their landlord.  A sample declaration is available at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus

Consumers who are in need of legal advice should contact a private attorney or Arkansas Legal Services.

GAME AND FISH COMMISSION REMINDS YOUTH HUNTERS OF NEW REGISTRATION REQUIREMENT THIS YEAR       09/11/20

LITTLE ROCK – With the start of deer season just around the corner, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is reminding youth hunters in the state of a new requirement this year. All hunters, including those under 16, will need to have a free, AGFC-issued Customer Identification Number to check big game or participate in permit drawings beginning this season.

The CID is automatically assigned when a person purchases any license through the AGFC’s license system for the first time. This unique number follows the hunter or angler throughout their life, so the AGFC can track their license purchases, permit applications, checked game and other important hunting and fishing information. Even though hunters under 16 are not required to have a hunting or fishing license in Arkansas, they will now need this customer identification number to check game and apply for permit hunts.

Simply go to agfc.com, click “Buy a Licenses/Check Game” in the top right corner of the website and fill out the youth hunter’s information. They will need to submit their Social Security number if they have been assigned one; otherwise, they can choose the “exempt” option for that portion of their information. All information is kept confidential and is required by the federal government as part of the licensing process.

Once their profile is complete, youth hunters may choose the Youth Customer Identification Number (license code YCID) option in the licensing system, which has no fee. After completing the transaction, youth will have a Customer ID assigned to them that may be used to check big game or used in future permit draw applications.

Deer season opens with archery on Sept. 26. Bow season will continue through Feb. 28. Muzzleloader season opens Oct. 17 and modern gun Nov. 14. Statewide bag limit is six deer, of which nom ore than two may be bucks. There is a zone bag limit of five deer. Visit agfc.com and check out this year’s hunting dates and regulations for more information.

CENSUS WORKERS GOING DOOR-TO-DOOR AS 2020 EFFORT WRAPS UP   09/10/20

DE QUEEN – With door-to-door visits by census takers now underway, the U.S. Census Bureau is informing households that they may also receive a follow-up visit to ensure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census. So far, 64.9 percent of all housing units have responded online, by phone or by mail, and another 17.5 percent have been counted by census takers and other field data collection operations. In total, over 82.4 percent of all housing units throughout the nation have been accounted for in the 2020 Census as of Aug. 30. The Census Bureau is working to count the remaining households—about 1 in every 5 households across the nation.

On a daily basis, the Census Bureau updates its list of households that have responded. It is possible that a locally hired census taker will still visit the address as part of the Census Bureau’s quality assurance program for the 2020 Census even if a household has already responded. The public is encouraged to cooperate with census takers as they follow up.

In addition, other Census Bureau representatives continue visiting homes for ongoing surveys that are occurring at the same time as the 2020 Census, such as the American Community Survey. These ongoing surveys affect only a small number of households nationwide and provide valuable information to help community leaders plan for hospitals and schools, improve emergency services, and make informed decisions about creating jobs.

As of Thursday morning, Sevier County continues to lag behind with a self-response rate of 54.5 percent compared to nearly 60 percent for the rest of the state. Still, Sevier has responded in greater numbers than some surrounding counties. Little River County is behind as well according to Census Officials with only 50.1 percent of county residents self responding. Howard County is currently at 52 percent. Polk County leads the response rate in the area at 55 percent.

Households can still respond to the 2020 Census by going online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire they received.

TYSON FOODS DONATES $5,000 FOR NEW PICNIC TABLES, SEATING FOR DE QUEEN SCHOOLS   09/10/20

Supporting Our Schools – Tyson Foods recently donated $5,000 to De Queen Public Schools for new picnic tables and seating. Pictured from left to right in front are students Jeremiah Coto, and Denise Hernandez. Pictured at back are
DMS Principal Brandon Lindly, Tyson Plant Manager Chris McKinney, Superintendent Jason Sanders, and DJHS Principal Bill Huddleston.

DE QUEEN – Thanks to a recent donation by Tyson Foods, students at De Queen Junior High and Middle Schools will have a more comfortable place to hang out in between classes.

Tyson Foods donated $5,000 to the two schools for the purchase of new picnic tables and benches. The tables and benches have been installed for use by students during their lunch break. They are located underneath the awning at the bus unloading zone.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district is very grateful for the generous donation from Tyson Foods. He said the donation is just another example of Tyson Foods’ support of the De Queen School District and its students.

Tyson Foods Plant Manager Chris McKinney visited De Queen Public Schools this week to check out the new tables and seating alongside Sanders, Middle School Principal Brandon Lindly and Junior High Principal Bill Huddleston. Students Donovan Ester, Jeremiah Coto, Denise Hernandez and Ashlee McCullough also met with McKinney during a small ceremony in appreciation of the donation.

ARKANSANS ON UNEMPLOYMENT MAY QUALIFY FOR ADDITIONAL $300 BENEFIT   09/10/20

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Secretary of Commerce announced this week an additional $300 payment in unemployment benefits would be provided to those who qualify.

Mike Preston said during the governor’s daily coronavirus update the federal government’s Lost Wages Assistance Program will use FEMA funds with a 25 percent match from the state.

This is in place of the expired federal pandemic unemployment compensation which was the additional $600 benefit people were receiving through the end of July, Preston explained.

Arkansans who receive $100 or more per week in unemployment insurance are eligible for the additional $300. The benefits were approved for the week of Aug. 1 and the state will go on a week-by-week basis.

People on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are automatically eligible. People on traditional Unemployment Insurance need to self-certify by calling 501-907-2590 or by visiting Arknet.Arkansas.Gov.

Of the 83,000 Arkansas who receive unemployment benefits, about 42,000 of those are on pandemic assistance. The state has seen a drop in unemployment claims for seven consecutive weeks and 12 of the past 13 weeks. The unemployment rate is now 7.1 percent, more than a point below the national average of 8.4.

PRIVATE LAND ALLIGATOR HUNT BEGINS THIS MONTH   09/10/20

Submitted by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Arkansas opens its first-ever private land alligator hunt in the southern half of the state this month. (Photo submitted by AGFC)

In just over two weeks, Arkansas will host its first-ever quota-based alligator hunt on private land in the southern portion of the state.

Officials with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission say they’ve received some calls from people wanting to make sure they’re legal to hunt alligators on their private land this year. Mark Barbee, a wildlife biologist at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Monticello Regional Office, said they are – as long as they follow a few rules. As long as the quote in their zone hasn’t been met and they have permission to hunt that private land, they are legal with only the $5 permit available atwww.agfc.com.

The change to the private land alligator hunt was introduced this year. Following the continued success of Arkansas’s bear quota hunts and private land elk quota hunts, biologists wanted to offer more opportunity to hunters in the southern half of the state who were interested in tagging an alligator. Previously alligator hunts were available only through a statewide lottery-style tag drawing.

Barbee says interested hunters should visit www.agfc.com/alligator to see more details about the hunt, including the online orientation videos and manual.

In the past, everyone who was drawn was required to attend a mandatory orientation class. With the expansion of the hunt to include anyone with permission to hunt private land in the alligator zones, those orientation materials are now on the website to show people the rules of the hunt. Hunters can download the entire orientation manual there to print out or read on their computer or phone.

Hunting is allowed only from 30 minutes after sundown until 30 minutes before sunup during the last two weekends in September.

Hunters should call the AGFC Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 after 2 p.m. the day of their hunt to check to see if the quota has been met for their zone. The season ends Sept. 28, or the night the quota is reached, whichever comes first.

SEVIER COUNTY RESIDENTS INVITED TO BECOME ELECTION WORKERS   09/10/20

DE QUEEN – If you’re interested in being a part of history and helping out our democracy you are invited to do so by becoming a poll worker for the upcoming November General Election. Election workers are essential to ensuring that elections are a success. With each election, millions of Americans dedicate themselves to sustaining the backbone of democracy – our election process.

Poll workers are greatly needed in Sevier County to assist local election officials in conducting this year’s election. Anyone interested in serving as an election worker in Sevier County for the upcoming General Election should contact the county clerk’s office at (870) 642-2852. The deadline to apply to be a poll worker for the November General Election is before Sept. 28.

Training for poll workers will be held Sept. 28 through Oct. 2.

SOME AREA LAKE FACILITIES STILL CLOSED DUE TO HIGH WATER LEVELS   09/10/20

DE QUEEN – High water levels still have a number of facilities closed down at area lakes in the listening area. As of Wednesday afternoon all boat ramps and campgrounds on Gillham Lake remain closed to the public, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Cossatot Reefs however remains open for camping and day use. On De Queen Lake, water levels receded enough to permit Corps officials to reopen Pine Ridge Road and campground. Oak Grove landing and campground remain available for use.

Blue Ridge and Jefferson Ridge are still closed due to high water level on Dierks Lake. Horseshoe Bend and the Dierks Lake overlook areas are still open for use.

Lake levels throughout the area rose drastically over the last couple of weeks due to a record setting amount of rainfall, including 13.5 inches in Sevier County. That’s 600 percent more than the yearly August average.

COSSATOT ARTS AND CRAFTS ASSOCIATION CANCELS KING ART SHOW   09/09/20

KING – The annual Cossatot Arts and Crafts Association’s King Art Show is the latest event to fall victim to a series of cancellations and postponements related to COVID-19.

The yearly event, which brings together artists from across the region for a full weekend of display in King, is typically held in May. But, due to COVID-19 precautions, the show was postponed until Oct. 2-4. Organizers announced late last week that the rescheduled show is also being cancelled.

Organizers cited the difficulty in enforcing social distancing guidelines during the show as the cause for the cancellation.

This would have been the 49th year of the King Art Show.

ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATIONS SEE HUGE RISE FOR UPCOMING ELECTION   09/09/20

County clerks are preparing for a sharp increase in the number of absentee ballots that they expect to be turned in for the November 3 general election.

The governor issued an executive order in early August that cleared up questions about voting absentee if you have concerns about appearing in person at your polling place, because of the coronavirus.

You may vote absentee whether you are concerned for your own safety, or whether your concern is that your presence at the polling place may affect the health of other people.

Both the secretary of state and the governor agree that fear of exposure to COVID-19, or fear of exposing others, is sufficient reason for requesting an absentee ballot.

Another provision in the executive order is important for county clerks and election officials. It allows them to start processing absentee ballots up to 15 days before election day, in order to get a head start on the anticipated increase.

The extra days for processing will coincide with the early voting period. They can open outer envelopes and begin processing voter registration information, but they will not be allowed to open the inner envelope and count the absentee ballots. They may not open and begin counting absentee ballots until 8:30 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, November 3, which is election day.

Already they have experienced a significant increase in request for absentee ballots. Four years ago, about 40,000 Arkansas residents voted absentee. This year the Secretary of State’s office anticipates more than 125,000 mail-in ballots to be requested and submitted, according to an office spokesman.

Pulaski County has received 10,000 requests for absentee ballots, compared to 1,500 at the same date in 2016, the county clerk told the statewide newspaper.

The deadlines for requesting and returning absentee ballots, as well as other information about voting absentee, can be found on the website of the Secretary of State, under the tab labeled “Elections.” This page has good information for members of the Armed Services stationed abroad. For example, family members stationed overseas follow the same procedures as military personnel when requesting and submitting absentee ballots.

The deadline for registering to vote is October 5. You must be registered in order to request an absentee ballot.

The state is helping counties with personal equipment and other supplies needed to help protect the safety of poll workers on election day.

AREA RESIDENTS INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN VIRTUAL ANIMAL ADOPTION EVENT   09/09/20

ASHDOWN – Area residents are invited to participate in a virtual animal adoption clinic later this month. A&B Animal Rescue of Southwest Arkansas will host the event on Sept. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. completely online through its Facebook page.

This is the second virtual adoption event hosted by the rescue group, which is located out of Ashdown. Anyone interested in adding a new furry family member to the house is invited to participate.

Qualifications to adopt include being at least 18-years-old and having a fenced in yard if living within city limits. Those interested must either own their own home or provide proof of approval by the landlord or property owner. Animals are fully vetted and spayed or neutered before leaving the rescue.

A&B Animal Rescue of Southwest Arkansas has a mission focused on saving abandoned, abused, homeless and surrendered dogs from Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. The group urges everyone to adopt, don’t shop.

For more information and pictures of animals currently available for adoption, visit A&B Animal Rescue of Southwest Arkansas on Facebook.

POLLING LOCATIONS, DEADLINES AND OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION RELATED TO NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION   09/09/20

DE QUEEN – The November General Election is less than three months away and sure to be an interesting one between the ongoing pandemic and a presidential race. Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin is informing county residents of some important dates and election information between now and election day on Nov. 3.

Citizens who have not registered to vote and wish to do so in the November General Election must register by Oct. 5. If you’ve moved from one Arkansas county to another, you will have until Oct. 30 to transfer your registration.

Early voting will be held the last two weeks of October at the Community Building in the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.

Identification will be required from all voters in the upcoming election. Akin is reminding voters that social distancing recommendations will be in effect. Face masks are encouraged.

For those who plan to vote on Election Day, the county will have six voting centers open for use. Those include the De Queen Community Building, the Ben Lomond Community Building, the Lockesburg Methodist Church, the J.L. Walker Fellowship Hall in Horatio, the De Queen Church of Christ and the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative.

Anyone interested in becoming an election work in the upcoming election should contact their county clerk’s office.

For more information or if you have any questions, contact the Sevier County Clerk’s office at 642-2852. In Little River County, that number is (870) 898-7202. In Howard, (870) 845-7502. And in Polk County, (479) 394-8123.

BIGFOOT FESTIVAL IN MENA THIS MONTH  09/09/20

MENA – Bigfoot aficionados should be excited to know this month’s Ouachita Bigfoot Festival and Conference is still a go. The three-day event is scheduled for Sept. 25 through Sept. 27 at the The Blue Zipline and Farm located just outside of Mena.

The festival and conference will feature numerous vendors, games, activities, door prizes and a conference with renowned Bigfoot researchers and speakers. There will be plenty of food during the event as well. Onsite camping will be available for those who want to stay close to the action.

Events will be held throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday and Saturday afternoons will feature the Bigfoot conference. This year’s event includes author and researcher Marvin Leeper. Also slated for the conference is Keith Crabtree, a researcher who played the monster in the cult classic movie, The Legend of Boggy Creek. Other Bigfoot researchers from across the nation are scheduled to speak.

Vendor space is available for local groups and businesses. Festival admittance is $1 per person and free for those three and under. Conference admission is $5 per day and free for children five and under. Proceeds will benefit the Polk County School Lunch Fund, which benefits school children in Polk County whose families are suffering financial hardships.

For more information, call (479) 216-8639 or visit the Ouachita Bigfoot Festival page on Facebook.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES   09/09/20

As of Tuesday afternoon, here are the latest COVID-19 figures for Sevier County, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Sevier County continues to see active cases of the virus drop, with two less over the past 24 hours. Currently, there are just 14 confirmed cases of the virus in the county. Total cases remained unchanged at 1,173. Recoveries saw a slight uptick by two to 1,143. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 remained unchanged at 27. Total cases increased by one to 307. Deaths remain at 17.

Howard County active cases decreased by one to 30. Total cases remain unchanged at 437. Deaths did also not see an increase and remain at eight.

In Polk County, active positive cases increased by one to 17. Total cases grew by two to 240. Deaths are unchanged at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported one less active case of COVID-19 on Tuesday for a total of 159. Total cases grew by 10 to 1,109. Deaths remain at 31.

TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW FOR LEOPARDS GAME AGAINST NASHVILLE  09/09/20

DE QUEEN – Fans of the De Queen Leopards are notified that tickets for this Friday’s away football game against the Nashville Scrappers will be on sale starting today. The tickets can be bought now through noon on Friday at the De Queen Public Schools administration building on Ninth Street.

Tickets are $5 each and there is a purchase limit of two per person. Each player has two tickets they can purchase from Coach Brad Chesshir.

Friday’s non-conference game is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Scrapper Stadium.

$100 MILLION SLATED FOR RURAL INTERNET ACCESS IN ARKANSAS    09/09/20

By DeAnn Vaught, Arkansas State Representative

With more Arkansans working and learning remotely in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, the issue of broadband access has become increasingly relevant. Yet as broadband access becomes more necessary to normal modern life, there is growing concern about a digital divide, whereby some areas are cut off from opportunities for distance learning and economic development by a lack of adequate broadband service.

Those with lower incomes and people living in rural areas are particularly likely to face digital obstacles when trying to do schoolwork at home during the Covid-19 outbreak. That is why House and Senate leadership recently made a request to the CARES Act Steering Committee to transfer $100 million of CARES Act funding to the Arkansas Rural Connect Program (ARC).

The committee agreed with the recommendation and the measure was ultimately approved by the Arkansas Legislative Council. The Arkansas Rural Connect program is a grant program designed to expand the broadband footprint in rural Arkansas communities. The ARC program will provide grants to qualifying communities of at least 500 people to assist in the deployment or improvement of high-speed broadband to its residents.

Arkansas currently ranks 41st in broadband access. This relatively low ranking is closely related to the fact that over 20 percent of Arkansans remain without access to a wired broadband connection capable of 25 Mbps speeds or faster. But with the added funding, there’s hope to see access improve. To date, the ARC program has awarded 21 projects. Those projects have a total of more than $27 million.  There are more projects that have been submitted and are currently being reviewed.

Communities and providers may still apply. The Department of Commerce will continue to receive applications until all funds are expended or until there is not enough time left to deploy broadband and meet the CARES Act deadline of December 30, 2020.

For more information visit www.arkansasedc.com

BAIL SET AT $250,000 FOR KIDNAPPING SUSPECT ARRESTED IN DE QUEEN   09/08/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

David Love, 24, is facing charges of kidnapping, rape, residential burglary and theft of property. He was arrested in De Queen last week thanks to a tip from a local resident and a quick response by local law enforcement.

Bail has been set at $250,000 for a Texarkana man who was arrested last week in Sevier County on multiple felony charges, including kidnapping and rape.

David Love, 24, appeared before the Miller County Circuit Court last week. Love is accused of assaulting and then kidnapping a 15-year-old girl from her home in Texarkana, Arkansas on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

According to authorities, Love forced the girl into a stolen vehicle and then drove away from the home. The girl reportedly freed herself and managed to escape after Love briefly left the vehicle to enter his own home. The victim was able to contact police who then began a search for Love.

Love’s warrant affidavit states he left Texarkana and drove to Sevier County following the incident.

Thanks to a tip from a De Queen resident who saw the suspect in De Queen, local police apprehended Love the following day after they stopped the vehicle he was driving at the Diamond Bank parking lot. He was detained without further incident. He has since been extradited back to Miller County.

Court records show Love was convicted in 2014 for sexually assaulting a jogger in a Texarkana park. He received five years in prison for an attempted robbery in Bowie County in 2015. Court documents show Love was released four days before the kidnapping and assault on Sept. 1.

For that incident, Love has been charged with kidnapping, rape, theft of property and residential burglary. He is currently awaiting his next court appearance in the Miller County Jail on a $250,000 bail. The felony charges could carry a sentence of life in prison if Love is convicted.

FOREMAN SCHOOL BOARD VOTES TO ACCEPT $11.7 MILLION    09/08/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Progress is moving forward on a proposed new high school for the Foreman School District following a special session of the Foreman School Board last week.

Members of the school board met during the specially-called meeting Thursday night. During the meeting, Lance Wright and Chris Mason with Kinco Constructors presented a construction proposal for the new high school facility. The proposed cost of the new high school is around $11.7 million. The representatives discussed some of the specific details of the proposal, including an estimated time frame of construction of approximately 14 months.

Following a discussion, Superintendent Pat Tankersley recommended moving forward with the construction proposal from Kinco Constructors. School board members accepted the recommendation unanimously.

Voters approved a millage increase last September to raise money for the new high school. The school district also received $4.3 million last year to assist with construction costs.

UA COSSATOT, UofA FAYETTEVILLE SIGN AGREEMENT TO EASE AGRICULTURE DEGREE TRANSFERS, MAKE FOUR-YEAR DIPLOMA MORE AFFORDABLE   09/08/20

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

Thanks to a new agreement between UA Cossatot and the University of Arkansas Fayetteville, area students studying agriculture will be able to continue their education more smoothly and affordably than ever before.

On Aug. 27, the two colleges signed an articulation agreement creating a pathway for UA Cossatot students to transfer to University of Arkansas Fayetteville with an Associate of Science degree in Agriculture Education. Students interested in this field of study can now earn their associate’s degree at UA Cossatot and then take their 60 credit hours to Fayetteville, where they can quickly transfer into a related agriculture program to obtain their bachelor’s degree.

At UA Cossatot, agriculture students can take required general education courses and classes such as Agriculture Economics, Intro to Animal Science, and Principles of Horticulture to prepare them for their junior and senior-level coursework at University of Arkansas Fayetteville.

Students can take advantage of UA Cossatot’s low tuition rate, which is $74 per credit hour, and then receive that same tuition rate after transferring. The exact tuition rate will be granted to students who live on campus at Fayetteville and those who obtain their Associate of Science degree in Agriculture Education from UA Cossatot. This opportunity is possible, due to the collaboration of universities and community colleges in Arkansas.

This educational pathway can lead to an Associate of Science degree in Agriculture Education and then a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural, Food, and Life Sciences. It can also lead to a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education, Communication, or Technology.

This partnership will provide greater access and preparation for careers in agricultural education in Arkansas, the region, and the nation to those qualified students who complete the 2+2 course curriculum.

For more information about UA Cossatot’s agriculture programs, contact UA Cossatot Division Chair of Professional Studies, Barbara Lacefield, at blacefield@cccua.edu or 870-584-1217.

CACA ART SHOW IN KING IS CANCELLED    09/08/20

KING – The annual Cossatot Arts and Crafts Association’s King Art Show has been cancelled.

The yearly event, which brings together artists from across the region for a full weekend of display in King, is typically held in May. But, due to COVID-19 precautions, the show was postponed until Oct. 2-4.

Organizers announced on Friday that the rescheduled show is also being cancelled. Organizers cited the difficulty in enforcing social distancing guidelines during the show as the cause for the cancellation.

This would have been the 49th year of the King Art Show.

DEADLINE IS SATURDAY FOR AREA FARMERS SEEKING FINANCIAL RELIEF FROM HARDSHIPS CAUSED BY COVID-19    09/08/20

LITTLE ROCK – Farmers still have a little more time to apply for aid under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program after the U.S. Department of Agriculture extended the deadline to Sept. 11.

The original program application deadline was Aug. 28.

Through the end of August, Arkansas farmers had received nearly $127 million in payments through CFAP from more than 16,400 applications.

Producers with approved applications initially received 80 percent of their payments. The FSA is currently issuing the remaining 20 percent of the calculated payment to eligible producers.

Producers who received initial payments need not apply for the second installment.

Going forward, producers who apply for CFAP will receive 100 percent  of their total payment — provided it does not exceed the $250,000-per-person payment limit — when their applications are approved.

Producers, especially those who have not worked with FSA previously, are recommended to call (877) 508-8364 to begin the application process. An FSA staff member can help producers start their application during the phone call.

Producers can also find information and applications at the program website: https://www.farmers.gov/cfap.

All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can also be downloaded at the CFAP website. For existing FSA customers, these documents are likely already on file.

SEVIER COUNTY COURTHOUSE REOPENS FULLY TO PUBLIC TOMORROW    09/08/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Courthouse is scheduled to reopen to the public tomorrow for the first time in months.

The courthouse was closed this past spring after the COVID-19 outbreak prompted officials across the state to limit access to public buildings. Previously, members of the public were required to set an appointment before entering the Sevier County Courthouse.

County Judge Greg Ray said the courthouse will reopen with regular hours starting Wednesday. Entry will be limited through the eastside, main entrance of the building. Masks will be required to enter.

Public entry will still be limited to appointments only on Tuesdays and Thursdays when court is in session.

De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said he anticipates fully reopening De Queen City Hall later this month, on Sept. 21.

LIFESHARE BLOOD CENTER ISSUES SECOND EMERGENCY APPEAL    09/08/20

TEXARKANA – LifeShare Blood Center has put out another emergency appeal to local residents due to a blood supply shortage in the area. The blood drive center said they are only at 1/4 of the expected needed amount at this time.

LifeShare Blood Center said an area resident had a liver transplant performed last week after waiting for years on a list. The surgery was performed but LifeShare was unable to immediately provide the blood needed because of the shortage. Fortunately, surgeons were able to go ahead with the operation, as LifeShare worked to relocate blood products.

A number of blood drives are scheduled throughout the listening area in September. That includes a drive this Thursday at Mineral Springs High School from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. All potential donors are welcome and all blood types are desperately needed. We’ll provide more information on further blood drives scheduled in the listening area as they approach.

CDC ANNOUNCES MORATORIUM ON RENTAL EVICTIONS   09/08/20

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday unveiled a limited ban on eviction proceedings through the end of the year, saying the looming homelessness crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to make the outbreak worse.

The moratorium aims to help up to 40 million Americans who are struggling to pay rent due to increased unemployment and the depressed economy. The extraordinary use of CDC public health emergency powers stems from an executive order President Trump signed in August.

A 120-day eviction moratorium passed by Congress expired in July, along with $600-a-week supplemental unemployment benefits. Housing advocates generally welcomed the Trump administration’s new policy while groups representing landlords objected, but there was broad agreement that direct rent payments or other congressional action is needed so renters don’t face a massive bill come January. Along with four months of back rent, the draft moratorium also allows landlords to charge “fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis” once it expires.

To qualify for the rent deferment, applicants will have to certify that they’ll make under $99,000 this year, or $198,000 per couple, have made a good-faith effort to pay their rent, lost significant income this year, and would likely end up homeless or living in unsafely cramped quarters if they are evicted.

LOCKESBURG CITY COUNCIL TO MEET TONIGHT   09/08/20

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg City Council will meet in regular session tonight starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center.

Scheduled on the agenda is a return by Brenda Sillavan to discuss the city’s Market in the Park event. The Market in the Park is a city-wide garage sale type event in which area residents are welcomed to set up booths in the Lockesburg City Park. The group has hosted fundraising groups, churches, direct sales, produce, homemade goods and other items.

At its last meeting, the council discussed how to hold this event in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. After ensuring health guidelines and sanitary protocols would be in place, the council gave authorization for the Market in the Park event to proceed this fall. The first event of the season is scheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 12.

Other items on the agenda include an update from city department heads as well as discussion on the fire department. City councilors are also slated to discuss business related to the city’s mosquito truck and sewer lift station pumps.

The meeting is open to the public.

SEVIER COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER PROCEEDING WITH BOND SALES FOR NEW HOSPITAL THIS MONTH   09/04/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Progress is moving forward on the area’s new hospital. That was the big message from yesterday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.

Dr. Steve Cole, chancellor of UA Cossatot and Director of the medical center board of governors, provided a number of updates related to the new hospital.

One of the big announcements, Sevier County has received a “A” rating for its bond sales. Officials hope this will make the bonds very attractive to investors and bring about their quick sale. Bonds are expected to hit the market next week.

The bond sales will be used solely for construction of the new hospital. They will be paid back through a one-cent sales tax approved by Sevier County voters in a special election last year. The bond sales are expected to bring in a little over $24 million for the construction process. A future bond sale to raise additional capital would run the risk of higher interest rates, according to bond experts present virtually at the meeting.

Dr. Cole said the hospital is not expected to cost quite that much. However, with interest rates at historic lows, he said the board of governors chose to go with a slightly higher amount to offset any unexpected construction costs. Additional funds leftover must be used to payback the bonds. The maturity date when the bonds must be repaid is Aug. 1, 2050.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray and the board of governors discussed the higher than expected sales tax collections so far this year. Month-to-month sales tax collections have been higher this year than any other for the past five years. That, said officials, is a testament to Sevier County residents and their commitment to support the local economy. Ray said it’s also a sign that county residents remain confident in their community despite an ongoing pandemic.

Dr. Cole also introduced several members of the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation. This separate entity was formed to support the medical center and provide members of the public to donate to the hospital. The foundation is currently seeking a tax-exempt, 501c3 status. Dr. Cole said numerous businesses and individuals have showed interest in donating to the hospital. He and the hospital’s legal counsel said the foundation will be the best way to do that.

Members of the foundation introduced at yesterday’s meeting include Patty Sharp, Pastor Ray Reynolds, Horatio State Bank President Ned Hendrix and Mike and Laura Branson.

Dr. Cole said many in the community are hoping to see construction begin soon. He said county residents could begin seeing results in a little over a month. Construction is expected to begin almost immediately after the bonds are sold. Architects responsible for planning and constructing the new hospital said they are currently bidding out demo, dirtwork and other infrastructure projects related to the facility. Once earthwork begins, construction should be complete within 18 months. That places the hospital’s new opening date in early 2022.

Dr. Cole said a sign introducing the new hospital will be installed in the near future once architects determine where it can be located. Dr. Cole said the board doesn’t want to risk building a sign only to be forced to take it down if it’s in the way of construction.

Finally, Dr. Cole and the board discussed the need to begin searching soon for the hospital’s new administrator. He said, after 20 years of bad hospital administration – including jail time for the old hospital’s last owner – the board will go into the hiring process with high demands and expectations.

”We want everyone to know that we’re serious about having a good hospital,” said Dr. Cole.

The new hospital’s legal counsel suggested reaching out to a recent or soon-to-be graduate from an Arkansas university hospital administration program. This, she urged, will ensure the new hospital receives an administrator studied in the latest trends and who is familiar with Arkansas and its health needs.

The board is expected to meet again on Oct. 1.

AREA SCHOOLS NOW ABLE TO OFFER FREE MEALS TO ALL STUDENTS   09/04/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Children in Arkansas are now able to receive school meals at absolutely no cost, regardless of their parents’ income status.

The USDA announced earlier this week it was waiving exemptions for the nationwide free meal program and expanding it to include all K-12 students. The new arrangement was formalized Wednesday in Arkansas between the state departments of agriculture and education.

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 and other area schools will now be provided free meals throughout the current semester. The exemption ends at the start of the Winter Break, unless it is further extended. The program is no longer based on income guidelines.

Officials with Horatio, Ashdown 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.

He stressed that families in the district still need to complete and return the free and reduced lunch form applications. This provides the district with additional federal resources for new technology and other tools that benefit the entire school system. This goes for students at Horatio, Ashdown and all other area schools, as well.

For more information on how to obtain a free or reduced meal application, contact your school’s administration office or visit their website as most are making the form available online.

LAKE FACILITIES LIKELY TO REMAIN CLOSED THROUGH LABOR DAY WEEKEND DUE TO HIGH WATER LEVELS   09/04/20

DE QUEEN – This weekend marks the annual Labor Day Weekend. For area residents that usually means a few days at the lake enjoying the water. Unfortunately, that’s going to be a little tougher this Labor Day holiday as high water levels have facilities closed on numerous area lakes. Currently, all boat ramps and campgrounds on Gillham Lake are closed due to high water levels. Cossatot Reefs however remains open for use. On De Queen Lake, only Oak Grove and Oak Grove Landing are currently open.

Dierks Lake has also seen some closures due to all the rain in recent days. At this time, Blue Ridge and Loop 1 and Loop 2 on Jefferson Ridge remain closed to the public. Drier weather is expected this weekend, so officials with the Corps of Engineers said some other facilities may reopen on Monday as lake levels draw down.

OFFICIALS REMIND ANGLERS THAT THIS WEEKEND’S TRI-LAKES BASS TOURNAMENT IS CANCELLED  09/04/20

DE QUEEN – Area anglers are reminded, the Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament, scheduled for this weekend, is cancelled due to high lake levels.

During a year in which cancellations and postponements have become the norm, officials with the annual local bass tournament said the decision is an unfortunate but necessary one. The call was made last Friday after Gillham Lake rose 45 feet above normal pool elevation due to heavy rainfall from the effects of Hurricane Laura. Tournament officials were notified by the Corps of Engineers that the lake would still be far above normal pool elevation by this weekend’s event, especially after more heavy rain over the weekend.

The bass tournament, usually scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend, was originally postponed due to COVID-19.

Refunds will be provided to those who pre-registered. For more information, contact the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the tournament, at (870) 584-3225.

According to the National Weather Service, Sevier County received 600 percent more rain in August than average. Rainfall totals amounted to 13.5 inches when a usual year will see a little over two. North of Sevier County the rain was reportedly even heavier.

UA COSSATOT YOUTHBUILD STUDENTS COMPLETE MENTAL TOUGHNESS TRAINING  09/04/20

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

Mental Training – An award ceremony took place on UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus on Aug. 31, where five students each received a certificate of completion through the first portion of UA Cossatot’s YouthBuild program. Sevier County Sherriff Robert Gentry and Hattie Vance also spoke at the ceremony to congratulate the YouthBuild students on their accomplishments. Pictured from left to right are Hattie Vance, Timothy Stubbs, Jonathon Harrington, Raymond Perez, Coby Butler, and Sherriff Robert Gentry. Jayden Pope is not pictured.

UA Cossatot’s YouthBuild Program offers teenagers and young adults the chance to enter a program where students will learn skills to prepare for skilled and technical careers. Before receiving acceptance into the program, students are required to complete two weeks of Mental Toughness Training. The first round of students who completed their Mental Toughness Training on Aug. 31 included Timothy Stubbs, Jonathon Harrington, Raymond Perez, Coby Butler and Jayden Pope.

Mental Toughness Training is designed to prepare students for the YouthBuild program. The training explains YouthBuild’s intent and its benefits to its students who enroll in the program. While learning about their personality and interests during the training, the Mental Toughness Training also introduces the students to career opportunities and shop activities. In the two weeks of training, the students even receive an OSHA 10 certification and CPR training to help them achieve more resume skills.

An award ceremony took place on UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus on Aug. 31 where these five students each received a certificate of completion.

Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry and Hattie Vance also spoke at the ceremony to congratulate the YouthBuild students on their accomplishments. With it being National Overdose Awareness Day, both speakers gave a presentation about overdosing, substance abuse, legal issues, and recovery. Gentry also talked about the jail’s local rehabilitation program and the hope of recovery in the community.

These YouthBuild students started their YouthBuild training on Sept. 1. The college’s YouthBuild staff are continuing to enroll more students in the program. Students can register in the YouthBuild program for the fall semester throughout September.

For more information about UA Cossatot’s YouthBuild program, please contact Leslie Daniels at 870-584-1153 or 870-584-9798.   She can also be reached at ldaniels@cccua.edu.

ARKANSAS GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES INTENT TO ISSUE CLEMENCY FOR DE QUEEN RESIDENT  09/04/20

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced his intent yesterday to grant 17 pardons, one restoration of firearm rights, and two commutations. An additional 52 clemency requests were denied and four 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.

One De Queen resident is listed on the list of pardons.

JoLynn Branscum Hoover, who was convicted of felony theft of property in Sevier County in 1999, will receive clemency, according to the governor’s office.

This notice is issued based on the date of conviction, the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

LIONS HEAD FOOTBALL COACH DISCUSSES TEAM, TONIGHT’S GAME  09/04/20

Here is an audio interview we conducted with Horatio Head Football Coach Lantz Castleman yesterday about his team and their game against the Dierks Outlaws tonight:
Audio Player

You can also catch the interview on our noon and 4 p.m. news broadcasts today!

OLD DECOYS SPARK NEW INTEREST IN ARKANSAS OUTDOORS  09/04/20

It happens every September. Duck hunters across the country begin to feel the need to dig through their gear and make plans for opening day. Sporting goods stores begin moving waterfowl-hunting equipment from storage to their shelves, and hunters are bombarded with the latest realistic decoys promised to make their next season a success. But what happens to the old decoys left behind in the garage? Eric Maynard, assistant chief of education for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, has a solution to the situation — the AGFC decoy adoption center.

It’s not really a center unless you count the bed of a pickup as a dropoff location, but thanks to volunteers who have donated their used decoys, Maynard and other members of the AGFC’s Education Division have been able to rehome these “outdated” dekes in the hands of aspiring duck hunters and birders participating in educational programs.

In-person classes at nature centers have been suspended or restricted to small groups in outdoor settings in the wake of COVID-19, but Maynard hopes classes can resume again on a small scale soon. In the meantime, the AGFC has focused on videos through its Virtual Nature Center atwww.agfcnaturecenter.com and on virtual instruction through Zoom and Google Meets.

Anyone interested in donating their old decoys to the AGFC for educational purposes is encouraged to contact Maynard at eric.maynard@agfc.ar.gov, and he can make arrangements to have them picked up.

Virtual and in-person classes will be added to nature and education centers’ schedules on their Facebook pages as they become available.

Visit www.agfc.com/naturecenters for a list of locations and contact information.

FACING FARM FINANCIAL STRESS: BULLETIN SERIES SHOWS LIFE CYCLE OF A FARM BANKRUPTCY  09/04/20

Unforgiving weather patterns, trade disputes and low commodity prices have become the perfect storm for financial distress in the agricultural community, with family farm bankruptcies rising 23 percent for the 12-month period from March 2019 to March 2020, compared with the previous 12 months.

The deeper story is that the annual rate is merely the most recent of five consecutive years of high Chapter 12 filings. According to a report released this year by the American Farm Bureau, the 627 Chapter 12 filings in the 12 months ending March 2020 account for the third-highest total over the last 20 years. Only 2011 and 2003 saw a higher number.

A farming or fishing family can face rising debt for a number of reasons. Uncontrollable factors like down markets, weather impacts, a death in the family, medical issues, and a host of unforeseen circumstances could be factors.

In an effort to help farm families fully understand the bankruptcy option, the National Agricultural Law Center has published a bulletin series authored in partnership with Hall and her colleagues at Ohio State University Extension.

The series, titled “Facing Farm Financial Stress: An Overview of the Bankruptcy Option,” walks producers through each stage of the bankruptcy process. From first considerations, to court preparation, to recovery, the series takes a look at the entire life-cycle of a farm bankruptcy.

“It’s important to note that the 2019-2020 figures are pre-pandemic,” explained Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center. “There’s little doubt that economic disruptions from COVID-19 will not help farmers already in a struggle for their lives.

“This resource will be helpful to the many farm families who have been struggling and are reviewing their options,” he said. “By covering each step of the process, this publication will help producers decide if the bankruptcy option is the right fit for their situation.”

The series can be found on the website of the National Agricultural Law Center, visit nationalaglawcenter.org/

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES  09/04/20

As of Thursday afternoon, here are the latest COVID-19 figures for Sevier County, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Sevier County saw total cases increased by three from Thursday for a total of 1,163. Active positives decreased by eight, leaving just 14 confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in the county. Recoveries grew by 11 to 1,136. Deaths remain at 13.

In neighboring counties, Little River County total cases grew by nine to 296. Active positives also increased by five to 22. Deaths remain at 15.

Howard County total cases increased by two over the past 24 hours to 429. Active positives increased slightly, by one to 32. Deaths remain at five.

In Polk County, active positive cases increased by two to 15. Total cases grew by four to 230. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 10 new active cases on Thursday for a total of 152. Total cases grew by 19 to 1,056. Deaths remain at 30.

KIDNAPPING SUSPECT ARRESTED IN DE QUEEN THANKS TO HELPFUL TIP FROM ALERT CITIZEN AND QUICK RESPONSE BY LOCAL OFFICERS   09/03/20

David Love of Texarkana, Ark., was arrested in De Queen Wednesday afternoon thanks to a helpful tip from an alert resident and quick response from local law enforcement agencies. Love is wanted in Texarkana on felony charges of kidnapping, rape, burglary and theft of a vehicle.

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

A Texarkana man wanted on multiple felony charges including kidnapping and rape is behind bars thanks to an alert De Queen resident and Sevier County law enforcement officers.

According to the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department, the incident began Tuesday after Texarkana officers received a report about a kidnapping in the city. The suspect, a white male named David Love, reportedly assaulted a 15-year-old girl in a home on the 2800 block of Pecan Street in Texarkana. Love was also suspected of stealing a vehicle before or after the incident.

Officers arriving at the home did not locate Love. The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department put out an alert asking area residents to contact officers if they knew of Love’s whereabouts.

The next day, an employee of a car dealership in De Queen noticed a man acting suspiciously on the business’ property. The employee, who asked for his name not to be publicly mentioned, said he tried assisting the man but asked him to return the next day to complete a possible sale. According to the employee, an “old country feeling” warned him that something was not right about the man or his attempt to purchase a vehicle in De Queen. Of the many things the man told this employee, one was that he played for the Texas Longhorns. Many other things did not add up either, said the employee.

That evening, the employee said he was checking Facebook when a picture of Love appeared on the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department’s page. He instantly recognized the man from earlier as Love. He contacted local authorities and informed them Love was expected to return to the dealership the next day. He also provided details on the suspect’s vehicle.

Officers from the De Queen Police Department located a vehicle matching the description on Collin Raye Drive Wednesday afternoon. They conducted a traffic stop at Diamond Bank parking lot and the driver was identified, sure enough, as the man wanted in Texarkana. He was taken into custody and transported to the Sevier County Jail.

Agencies assisting in the arrest included the De Queen Police Department, Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, Arkansas State Police and South Central Drug Taskforce.

Love is facing felony counts of kidnapping, rape, burglary and theft of an automobile. He will be extradited to face the charges in Texarkana.

The employee said his role was a case of seeing the lookout alert at the right time, and informing police that a dangerous and wanted man was in De Queen. Fortunately, he said, the man was arrested before any further injury was done.

SEVIER COUNTY RECEIVES SIX TIMES USUAL RAINFALL IN AUGUST; COLDER TEMPS AND SOME SUNSHINE ON THE WAY     09/03/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

According to hydrologists with the National Weather Service, Sevier County received 13.5 inches of rain in August, 2020. The average rainfall is typically a sixth of that – around 2.3 inches. We spoke to C.S. Ross, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Shreveport, to provide some context on all the rain and what the weather ahead may bring.

You can check out the full audio interview here:
Audio Player

Here is the partial transcript from the interview:

For the past couple of weeks, this is probably what you’ve heard seemingly almost nonstop. Rain, and lots of it. It’s been a wet few days for the listening area. Well, a wet few weeks. Actually, it’s been a really wet year.
August will go down in the history books as one of the wettest years on record for Sevier County. Rainfall totals for the month came out to more than six times the historical average. You’d be forgiven if you thought life in August is what happened between the flash flood watches, thunderstorms and tropical storm warnings.
That was C.S. Ross. He’s a hydrologist for the National Weather Service station in Shreveport, La. He knows a lot about weather, but even August’s rainfall surprised him.
August is normally the driest month of the year for Southwest Arkansas. Weeks after week of triple-digit temperatures. Air conditioners that never shut off. In a year full of surprises, however, August turned into one of the wettest months of 2020 so far.
Those totals deserve repeating. Two-point-one-seven is the normal. Thirteen-point-five is what we got. Most of that rain fell in the days before, during and after Hurricane Laura in late August. Ross said the rain Southwest Arkansas received over the last few days is Hurricane Laura’s final effects.
The tropical storm warning issued by the National Weather Service for Southwest Arkansas in response to Hurricane Laura was another surprise. It’s the first one issued ever for the area.
Fortunately, the wet weather is expected to let up tonight and the area is expected to receive a couple of nice, warm days for Labor Day weekend. But that’s likely to be temporary as rainfall predictions are growing for next week. Nonetheless, Ross said area residents will notice the first signs of the approaching autumn season.
Southwest Arkansas is on track to receive double the average yearly rainfall, depending on what this fall and winter brings. Normally by now, we’d have received around 30 inches. The current total is over 60 after more rain fall yesterday and last night. Anyone who knows Southwest Arkansas knows that there’s plenty more rain to be expected before this year comes to an end.
UA COSSATOT RAISES OVER $6,000 FOR ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS DURING GOLF TOURNAMENT ON SATURDAY    09/03/20
By Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot
Dustin Bissell, Jeff Brown, Cory Mc Mellon, Stephen Sprick, Jon Bunyard and Seth Tollett.

On Saturday, Aug. 29 UA Cossatot hosted a benefit golf tournament to support the Colts and Lady Colts basketball student-athletes. The event included golf, food, a cornhole tournament, and prizes awarded at the end of the event. The golf tournament raised over $6,000 that will be used for athletic scholarships.

Flight winners in the golf tournament who received First Place Championship Flight included Jeff Brown, Kris Downing, and Seth Tollett, who shot 12 under par-59.   First Place First Flight winners included Greg Revels, Jeff Woods, and Tony Stowers, who scored 67. The First Place Second Flight award resulted in a tie between teams of (team 1) Stephen Sprick, Dustin Bissell, and Cory McMellon and (team 2) Steve Sullivan, Scott Sullivan, and Billy Pritchett. Both teams had a score of 72.

Chris Richards and Stephen Miller.

Prize winners in the golf tournament were Jarod Hickson, Tye Barnett, and Alan Gentry.   Jarod Hickson won Closest to the Hole on the # 1 at 2 feet 6 inches for a free year’s membership at the De Queen Country Club. Tye Barnett won Longest Drive on hole # 9 for a $100 Academy Sports gift card. Alan Gentry won Longest Drive on hole # 2 for a $250 cash prize.

Winners of the Cornhole Tournament were Chris Richards and Stephen Miller, who each received plaques and a $50 Academy Sports gift card.

UA Cossatot Head Basketball Coach and Athletic Director, Robert Byrd said, “On behalf of the UA Cossatot Men’s and Women’s basketball team we would like to thank all of the sponsors, participants, volunteers and Jon Bunyard for organizing a remarkable golf tournament. The event was a great success and displayed the hospitality of our community. Our students and athletic program look forward to the continued partnerships”.

UA Cossatot Digital Media Coordinator, Jon Bunyard, who organized the fundraiser, said, “Thank you to all of the sponsors, golf teams, cooks, and work volunteers who made this event a success.”
UA Cossatot is currently organizing another Colts Benefit Golf Tournament for the spring of 2021.

Pictured in the first row from left to right are Ashley Starks, Ra’naiya Kennedy, A’nayzia Jefferson, Mikayla Scott, Kyaira Jackson, Maya Hallman, Ashley Aguilar, and Kailynne Chaney. Pictured from left to right in the second row are Dee Williams, Coach Robert Byrd, Sage Austin, Layton Jackson, Dillon Cheater, Cameron Maxwell and Jon Bunyard.
LIFESHARE BLOOD SERVICES URGING PEOPLE TO DONATE; WARNS BLOOD CENTER IS ONLY AT 26 PERCENT OF USUAL BLOOD LEVEL   09/03/20
DE QUEEN – Imagine waiting years on a transplant list for the organ that could save your life knowing that for most – that lifesaving gift never comes. Then one day, the phone call that changes everything – the liver you’ve been waiting and praying for is available.
That’s the story of one area patient this past weekend. However, what should have been a happy moment turned uncertain for surgeons as LifeShare was unable to provide the blood needed for the surgery. Fortunately, surgeons were able to go ahead with the operation, as LifeShare worked to relocate blood products.

“Hospitals are being forced to make tough decisions right now that could impact the outcome for their patients.” That’s according to LifeShare Regional Director Elizabeth Cunningham. “Since last Thursday, LifeShare has collected 393 units of red blood cells. That’s 26% of the blood LifeShare needs to support the transplants, traumas, and other treatments requiring a blood transfusion at our local hospitals.”

For more than a week, LifeShare has been reaching out to other blood centers for help, but because of the nationwide blood shortage, only a few blood centers were able to provide minimal assistance.

LifeShare is operating on extended hours at all of its donor centers. All donor centers will be open this week Monday-Friday from 8am-6pm and on Saturday from 8am-3pm. Several mobile drives will also be operating. All mobile locations can be found at LifeShare.org or on the LifeShare app. The donor center in Lake Charles remains closed as the facility is still without water and electricity.

This appeal is going out to everyone, but LifeShare is trying to focus on young donors. “This is a time of year when we would typically be in our high schools and colleges. Because of COVID-19, many of these blood drives are canceled or are yielding far fewer donors than usual,” said Cunningham. Most people don’t recognize that nearly one-quarter of the blood supply comes from teenagers. Young people are the backbone of the local blood supply, she added. LifeShare is asking young people to please donate blood.   Also, if you’re a parent, coach, teacher, or other influencer, please get the word out about this critical need.

Businesses and churches that want to help are urged to call LifeShare and schedule a blood drive. LifeShare has been taking extra safety precautions since the outbreak of COVID-19. Thus far, there are no reports of a LifeShare team member or LifeShare donor contracting the virus from interacting with each other during the donation process. Donating blood is as safe as it ever has been.

Potential donors in De Queen won’t have to travel far if they wish to donate blood. The LifeShare mobile blood center will be in De Queen tomorrow from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Walmart. All donors are welcomed and all blood types are greatly needed.
LifeShare doesn’t use the word “emergency” very often. The last emergency appeal was issued more than 15 months ago.

SEVIER COUNTY REPORTS 13TH DEATH FROM COVID-19   09/03/20
DE QUEEN – As of Wednesday afternoon, here are the latest COVID-19 figures for Sevier County, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

vier County reported its first COVID-19 related death in more than two weeks on Wednesday. That raises the death toll in Sevier County from the virus to 13. Total cases however increased by just one case. Active positive cases of the virus remained unchanged at 22. Recoveries also remained the same at 1,125.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported one addition active case for a total of 17. Total cases increased by three to 287. Deaths remain at 15.

In Howard County, total cases grew by two to 427. Active cases of COVID-19 in Howard County decreased by one to 31. Deaths remain at five.

In Polk County, another death was reported over the past 24 hours, raising the total to four since the outbreak began. Active cases continued a decrease, dropping by two to 13. Total cases grew by one to 226.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 11 less active cases on Wednesday, dropping the total to 142. Total cases increased by seven to 1,037. Deaths remain at 30.

DJHS CUBS FOOTBALL GAME IN MENA POSTPONED DUE TO FLOODING     09/03/20

DE QUEEN – Due to flooding and road conditions in Mena, tonight’s game between the De Queen Junior High Cubs and Mena Bearcats has been postponed. Mena has been bracing under heavy rainfall and flooding. Mena Public Schools have been unable to host classes for the past 2 days due to flooding.

With the uncertainty of their circumstances for today and tonight, the decision has been made to reschedule the game to Monday, Oct. 5. The game is still scheduled to be played in Mena. De Queen athletic officials said there is also a seventh grade game scheduled at Mena for Oct. 5 and it will be played prior to the junior high game on that day.

Starting times for those games will be released later.

KNOW THE ISSUES: PART TWO OF LOOK AT ARKANSAS BALLOT ISSUES     09/03/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

It’s vital Arkansans know what they’re voting on before hitting the polls this November – either in person or through an absentee ballot.

Towards that cause, we’re taking a look at the various ballot issues which will be included on the ballot during the General Election in November. We featured the first three ballot measures yesterday, and that information is listed below.

Today, we’ll look at the last three, two of which were challenged by the Arkansas Secretary of State and then struck down by the Arkansas Supreme Court. That means they’ll be on the ballot, but how they’re voted on will have zero impact.

Issue 4 on the General Election ballot in November is titled The Arkansas Citizens’ Redistricting Commission Amendment. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 27 that Issue 4 did not qualify for the ballot because of problems with paperwork. Specifically, challengers said a number of canvassers who organized petition signing drives did not pass required background checks.

Despite collecting over 89,000 signatures, this measure will not be valid. It will still, however, be featured on the ballot.

This measure sought to do away with the existing Board of Apportionment currently responsible for establishing, regulating and overseeing state legislative district boundaries. Instead, issue supporters wanted to create a nine-member Citizens’ Redistricting Commission to establish state legislative and congressional districts. If passed, the measure would have also eliminated the requirement in state law that Arkansas is divided into four U.S. House of Representatives districts.

In effect, the amendment sought to provide Arkansans with more power over the manner in which political districts are drawn and administered.

Issue 5 has also been struck down due, say state officials, a failure by canvassers to seek the required background checks. This measure was seeking to adopt a top-four open primary system for Arkansas to elect top level federal and state public offices. One of the main goals of this amendment was allowing Arkansans to vote in all primary elections regardless of party affiliation. Like Issue 4, this one will be on the November ballot but does not qualify as an actual amendment, whether it passes or not.

Finally, Issue 6 seeks to amend the definition of optometry, the field of medicine related to eye care. Voters are being asked whether they want to keep or repeal a new law legislators passed in 2019 allowing optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures they are educated about, but that they were not allowed to perform under previous state law. This includes using lasers for some surgical procedures. This ballot, if passed, would also create a licensing process for optometrists who want to use lasers in these types of surgeries.

Again, it’s important to take time to understand these proposed measures because the ballot will only feature the issue’s name, and not its intentions.

You can find out even more on these amendments by visiting the Voter Education page on the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service website. That resource is available at www.uaex.edu

HORATIO LIONS IMPLEMENT NEW PROCEDURES FOR TOMORROW’S GAMES   09/03/20

Horatio athletic officials are sharing information regarding attendance at tomorrow’s football game between the Lions and Dierks Outlaws. Horatio High School Athletic Director Stephen Sprick said 600 people will be allowed in Lion Stadium for tomorrow’s game. No presale ticket event is being held. There will be one entrance and three exits for the public to use: the opposite side of the entrance gate, next to the bandstand on the home side and through the gate on the west side of the field.

The district is asking that masks be worn at all times. No gatherings on the field will be allowed following the game.

All of these measures are in place to ensure the school district and venue is following all health guidelines.

In a press release issued by Horatio Public Schools, Sprick said the high school “looks forward to the first game of the 2020 season. Please work with us to ensure our student-athletes can continue to play by complying with all of the aforementioned procedures.”

Any questions can be submitted to Sprick by emailing ssprick@horatioschools.org

CORPS OF ENGINEERS REMINDS LAKE GOERS SO STAY SAFE THIS LABOR DAY WEEKEND     09/03/20

LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District is advising lake and river visitors to be cautious this Labor Day weekend. Labor Day weekend is among the top three busiest weekends of the year at the region’s lakes and rivers, and officials from the district say they expect this year will be no exception. However, they warn visitors to practice good water safety habits to avoid accidents that could result in serious injury or death.

If you plan to be on the water this holiday weekend, please remember to wear your life jacket, and don’t overestimate your swimming abilities. Many people drown within 10-30 feet of safety. Many of the deaths that happen at our area lakes and rivers could have been avoided if a life jacket had been worn.

The Corps of Engineers wants everyone to remember the mantra, Life Jackets Worn, Nobody Mourns.

YOUTH HUNTERS IN ARKANSAS WILL NOW NEED FREE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER  09/03/20
Submitted by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

LITTLE ROCK – All hunters, including those under 16, will need to have a free, AGFC-issued Customer Identification Number to check big game or participate in permit drawings beginning this season.

The CID is automatically assigned when a person purchases any product through the AGFC’s license system for the first time. This unique number follows the hunter or angler throughout their life, so the AGFC can track their license purchases, permit applications, checked game and other important hunting and fishing information. Even though hunters under 16 are not required to have a hunting or fishing license in Arkansas, they will need this customer identification number to check game and apply for permit hunts.

Simply go to agfc.com, click “Buy a Licenses/Check Game” in the top right corner of the website and fill out the youth hunter’s information. They will need to submit their Social Security number if they have been assigned one; otherwise, they can choose the “exempt” option for that portion of their information. All information is kept confidential and is required by the federal government as part of the licensing process.

Once their profile is complete, youth hunters may choose the Youth Customer Identification Number (license code YCID) option in the licensing system, which has no fee. After completing the transaction, youth will have a Customer ID assigned to them that may be used to check big game or used in future permit draw applications.

The change is part of the AGFC’s continued effort to better serve hunters and anglers, track individual hunter progress and obtain more accurate harvest information.

In years past, deer harvested by a youth hunter would be checked under their mentor’s hunting license number. This caused concerns on many fronts, stated officials with the AGFC.

Visit www.agfc.com and click the “Buy Licenses/Check Game” tab at the top of the page to get your youth hunter’s CID.

SLIGHT SCHEDULE CHANGE FOR LEOPARDS SENIOR NIGHT ON FRIDAY 09/03/20

De Queen Public Schools have made a slight schedule change for tomorrow’s Senior Night event before the Leopards and Panthers hit the field at Leopards Stadium. ceremony has been moved from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. The event is held to honor senior Leopard football players, cheerleaders and band members. Senior Night begins with a ceremony to honor the football players and cheerleaders before the game. Senior band members will be recognized during the football game halftime. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30.

LOCAL, STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT RAMPING UP “DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER” CAMPAIGN AS HOLIDAY WEEKEND APPROACHES      09/03/20

Local and state police are ramping up their annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign as the Labor Day holiday weekend approaches. The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, will include increased state and national educational messaging about the consequences for drivers who choose to ignore drunk driving laws coupled with an increased presence of local officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers prepared to arrest drunk drivers. Remember, it is never ok to drink and drive.

DE QUEEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS PROVIDES MORE INFO ON SCHOOL AMIDST COVID-19 ENVIRONMENT      09/03/20

To help understand some of the new terms and procedures related to schools and COVID-19, the De Queen School District has made information available online for local parents. One of the common questions they’ve received from parents concerns the difference between COVID-19 isolation and quarantine. Isolation is for those who have been diagnosed with the virus. Quarantine is for those who have been in close contact with a person who is confirmed to carry the virus.

More information for parents is available on the De Queen School District Facebook page, its website, www.dequeenleopards.org, or on the Arkansas Department of Health website.

DE QUEEN NO LONGER FEATURED ON STATE LIST OF SCHOOLS WITH ACTIVE COVID-19 CASES; NASHVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT ADDED ON MONDAY WITH SIX CASES   09/02/20

Data compiled by the Arkansas Department of Health and Department of Education no longer features De Queen Public Schools on its list of districts with more than five active cases of COVID-19.

The school-level data was first made available to the public last week. An updated report from Aug. 27 showed De Queen Public Schools with seven active cases of the virus. De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district was aware of all seven cases before the start of school last week. He said none of the students have been physically present on campus since their diagnosis.

Sanders added the district was continuing to follow state health and education guidelines surrounding the response to the virus, including masks, social distancing and frequent cleaning schedules.

De Queen Public Schools was removed from the list Monday afternoon after those cases dropped to below five. The state data does not list school districts with less than five active cases of COVID-19.

The Nashville School District was added to the list on Monday with six active cases of the virus. The only other regional school included in updated data is Hope School District with five active cases.

Overall, 440 cases of COVID-19 were active Monday across Arkansas public schools. A further 190 have been reported in Arkansas colleges or universities. Twenty cases have been confirmed among private schools.

The data is publicly available by visiting the Arkansas Department of Health’s COVID-19 resource page.

Monday’s report is available here:
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/covid-19-reports#schoolcovidreport

DE QUEEN CITY COUNCIL APPROVES NEW POLICE POLICIES, SETS CITY HALL REOPENING DATE FOR SEPT. 21   09/02/20

The De Queen City Council met last night to approve a new package of police policies and discuss several other items of city business.

The policy package approved at last night’s meeting was recommended by the National and Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police. The policies primarily deal with the codification and regulation of increasingly prevalent policing technology, including body cameras. The package also includes some recommended national policing reforms including failure to intervene statutes.

Mayor Jeff Brown said the city regularly updates its police policies. De Queen’s current set of policing regulations was adopted in 2013.

De Queen Police Chief Scott Simmons said, for the most part, the new policies codify existing policies already in use by the De Queen Police Department.

In other business, city councilors passed on approving the purchase of a climbing boulder at the Herman Dierks Park. Several proposals were discussed, all around the $32,000 range. Brown said the cost includes freight, installation and a protective pad to go around the boulder. Brown said the city may return to the issue next year.

The city council also approved the R1 zoning of property annexed last year on Treating Plant Road.

Brown provided an update on a discussion the city has had with a national internet provider to allow the use of the city’s water tower as a broadband internet transmitter. The company, Premier Broadband, recently performed a similar project in Nashville through a rural broadband grant provided through the National CARES Act. If the project is approved, Premier Broadband would ring a water tower with panel-style internet transmitters rather than a tower. The service would reportedly reach out within four miles in any direction. The city could collect a $2 per user as a franchise fee.

Brown said discussions are still underway and no final agreement has been reached.

Finally, Brown said the city plans to reopen city hall to the public on Sept. 21. City hall would reopen with regular business hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Masks would be required to enter.

FLASH FLOOD WATCH FOR LISTENING AREA LENGTHENED TO THURSDAY MORNING   09/02/20

The listening area remains under a flash flood watch until 7 a.m. Thursday morning. Forecasters with the National Weather Service are predicting an 80-90 percent chance of rain throughout today with more chances through the week and into the weekend.

The area is currently under   flash flood watch. Counties in the watch include Sevier, Howard, Little River, Hempstead and Nevada counties in Southwest Arkansas and McCurtain County in Southeast Oklahoma. The flash flood watch remains in effect through tonight.

Rainfall totals of two to four inches are predicted, with isolated higher amounts possible through the evening.

FREE PROSTATE SCREENING EVENT SCHEDULED FOR DE QUEEN   09/02/20

A free prostate screening event will be held in De Queen Sept. 30. The event is open to all area men aged 45 to 75 and will be held at the Legacy Center. A number of free prostate screening clinics will be held throughout September, which is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 1,860 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in Arkansas this year and 280 men will die from the disease. Prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent survivable if detected early. T

he American Cancer Society and the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation stress the need for men in Arkansas between the age of 45 and 75 to receive yearly prostate screenings.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES   09/02/20

As of Tuesday afternoon, here are the latest COVID-19 figures for Sevier County, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 saw another sizeable drop in Sevier County over the previous 24 hours. State health officials reported eight less active cases since Monday, leaving the total at 22.

Total cases grew by just two to 1,159. Recoveries increased by 10 to 1,125. Deaths remain at 12.

In neighboring counties, Little River County an additional death over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 15. Total cases increased by three to 284. Active positives decreased by one to 16.

In Howard County, total cases remained unchanged at 425. Active cases of COVID-19 in Howard County decreased by three to 32. Deaths remain at five.

In Polk County, the last 24 hours saw only a single increase in the county’s COVID-19 caseload. Active positives decreased by one to a current total of 15. Deaths remain at three.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional death on Tuesday, raising the total to 30. Active positives decreased by six to 153. Total cases grew by five to 1,030.

INFORMATION ON STATEWIDE GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT MEASURES    09/02/20

Along with presidential and congressional candidates, Arkansas’ 1.7 million voters will have several statewide issues to decide this year.

Because candidates dominate most election season coverage, it is very possible voters walk into the voting booth with little knowledge of the ballot issues before them. Decisions might be based on the memory of the last campaign sign they saw or voters end up skipping the ballot issue all together because they don’t want to vote on something they don’t understand.

To help voters understand the issues on this year’s ballot, we’re going to take a look at what’ll be decided this year. There are six issues on this year’s ballot and we’ll focus on the first three today. Two of the ballots have already been struck down but will still be on the ballot.

The first measure, Issue 1, is seeking voter approval on a one-half-cent sales tax for state, county and city roads, bridges and other Surface Transportation.

This amendment asks voters to approve a permanent, dedicated one-half-cent state sales tax. The revenue from this tax would be used for maintaining, repairing and improving highways, roads and streets across the state. The collected revenue would be divided 70 percent for the Arkansas Department of Transportation, 15 percent to county governments and 15 percent to city governments.

The tax would be permanent. Arkansas senators and representatives voted last year to include the issue on the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election ballot.

There has been no opposition filed against this ballot measure.

Issue 2, titled the Arkansas Term Limits Amendment, is seeking to eliminate life-time term limits for state legislators. If passed this measure would prohibit future legislators from serving more than 12 years in a row. Legislators who serve the full 12 years consecutively would be allowed to hold office again once four years have passed since their term expired.

The measure would also allow current legislators and any legislators elected this November to serve under the current term limit amendment, which allows them to serve 16 years consecutively or non-consecutively. They would be eligible to hold office in the future once four years have passed from their last term expired.

Issue 3, titled To Amend the Process for Submission, Challenge, and Approval of Proposed Initiated Acts, Constitutional Amendments, and Referenda, is not quite as complicated as it sounds.

This measure seeks to change the date when voter signatures are due for statewide ballot measures proposed by the public. Instead of four months ahead of the general election, the due date would be set as January 15 of the election year.

If passed the measure would also increase the number of counties where voter signatures must be collected for statewide ballot measures and referendums proposed by the public, from 15 counties to 45 counties.

The issue would establish April 15 of the election year as the deadline for filing lawsuits challenging statewide ballot measures proposed by the public.

In addition Issue 3 would eliminate the ability of statewide, countywide or citywide ballot issue groups to collect and submit additional signatures from voters to put a proposed constitutional amendment, state law or referendum on the ballot if the first round of signatures submitted does not meet the threshold. This is often called a “cure period.”

Second, the amendment would make changes to Article 19, Section 22 of the Arkansas Constitution, known as “Miscellaneous Provisions.” The proposed changes focus primarily on how state legislators can refer a constitutional amendment to voters. This includes requiring state legislators to seek 60 percent approval from both the state senate and state house of representatives when approving salary-based amendments.

Several groups have filed opposition to this proposed amendment. We’ll also be taking a look at the opposition to this measure and others.

We’ll discuss the next three amendments tomorrow, and why two are featured on this year’s ballot but won’t count.

INFORMATION ON STATEWIDE GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT MEASURES    09/02/20

Arkansas entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses through government contracts are invited to join a free webinar with government marketplace experts on Sept. 16.

The webinar, hosted by the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, will feature tips from procurement counselors across the country, and participants will have a chance to learn more about the federal government marketplace. Businesses with any level of government contracting experience are welcome to participate in this free event.

Nationally, there are 90 Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, also known as PTACs, that help businesses sell their products and services to government agencies. In 2019, the network served more than 54,000 clients and helped them win $28 billion in government contracts and subcontracts.

In Arkansas, PTAC services in Arkansas are delivered through the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. In the 2019-2020 program year, the center’s clients received $185 million in government contracts.

For more information, call 501-671-2390. Visit Arkansas PTAC online at http://www.uaex.edu/PTAC.

AREA UNDER FLASH FLOOD WATCH THROUGH WEDNESDAY NIGHT 09/01/20

It’s likely to be a wet and stormy few days as a weather front works its way through Southwest Arkansas and Southeast Oklahoma.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service are predicting an 80 percent chance of rain throughout today and tomorrow with more chances through the week and into the weekend.

The area is currently under flash flood watch. Counties in the watch include Sevier, Howard, Little River, Hempstead and Nevada counties in Southwest Arkansas and McCurtain County in Southeast Oklahoma. The flash flood watch remains in effect through Wednesday night.

Rainfall totals of two to four inches are predicted, with isolated higher amounts possible through Wednesday evening.

The watch area remains saturated from a tremendous amount of rain over the last week. The additional heavy rainfall today through Wednesday will likely result in flash flooding, forecasters said.

AREA LAKE BOAT RAMPS AND CAMPGROUNDS CLOSED DUE TO HIGH WATER 09/01/20

Numerous campgrounds within area lakes administered by the U.S. Corps of Engineers remain closed due to high water levels.

As of early Tuesday morning, all campsites and boat ramps at Gillham Lake remain closed to the public. These campgrounds include Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek. Lake levels remain extremely high due to heavy rainfall over the past week. Currently, Gillham Lake is 45 feet above normal pool elevation and rising due to further rain north of the lake.

Oak Grove campground and Oak Grove Landing are the only facilities currently open at De Queen Lake. Lake level is approximately 12 feet above normal elevation.

On Dierks Lake, Blue Ridge and Loop 1 and Loop 2 on Jefferson Ridge are temporarily closed because of high water. Horseshoe Bend and the Dierks Lake Overlook recreation areas are still open for public use. As of Tuesday morning, Dierks Lake is 24 feet above normal pool elevation and rising.

Members of the public are able to view lake levels in real time by using the free U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Little Rock app. The app is available on both Google Play and the Apple Store. Information on each of the lakes facilities, including reservations and temporary closures, are available by visiting www.recreation.gov

SEVIER COUNTY QUORUM COURT TO VOTE ON BOND SALES FOR NEW HOSPITAL 09/01/20

The Sevier County Quorum Court has scheduled a specially-called meeting for Sept. 11 to discuss several items, including authorizing the sale bonds for Sevier County’s new hospital.

The meeting will start with a financial report from the Sevier County Museum between January and July of this year. The quorum court will also hear from the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors and from David Boone Ministries concerning administration for the Sevier County Senior Citizens Center.

The meeting’s big topic is a proposed ordinance authorizing the Sales and Use Tax Bonds for the purpose of financing the new county hospital. Funding for the hospital was approved by Sevier County voters last year through a one-cent sales tax measure. Capital for the new project will be raised through issuance of bonds. The deadline to sell bonds for the new hospital is late September. Construction of the new hospital will be able to proceed immediately after the bonds are sold.

Justices of the peace will also vote on a proposed resolution of support for Issue 1 on the Arkansas November General Election Ballot. This amendment to the Arkansas Constitution will be on the ballot for all Arkansas voters to decide. If passed, Issue 1 would continue a one-half-cent sales and use tax for state, county and city highways, bridges, streets and other surface transportation. Amendment supporters are seeking resolutions of support from all 75 Arkansas counties.

This meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court will replace the regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 14. The meeting on Sept. 11 will begin at 12 p.m. in the Weyerhaeuser Room on UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus and is open to the public.

DE QUEEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS URGING PARENTS TO COMPLETE FREE/REDUCED LUNCH REGISTRATION    09/01/20

De Queen Public Schools is urging parents to fill out the district’s free and reduced meal program registration. The completed registration serves two very important roles, district officials said: first, it ensures children of low-income families in the school district receive access to free meals or meals with reduced pricing.

Secondly, the more completed registration forms the district receives, the more federal funding it is guaranteed through the national Title 1 program. In the past, De Queen Public Schools has used these resources to enhance and promote technology in the classroom and for other programs that benefit the entire student district.

District officials say around 70 percent of De Queen’s students qualify for either a free or reduced-price meal. Completed registration forms have been returned in fewer numbers than in previous years, officials said.

This is likely due to the high number of virtual students – around 600, or about a fourth of all De Queen students – not completing their forms. District officials stress virtual students are also eligible for free and reduced school meals.

The form is located here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Xd6mFgrHL438-AqoPogTKyBlmSw4p-Ve/view

The Spanish form is available here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qEbSvN4TLGaxSIp6c85TUuH4jZB1xmXX/view

ASHDOWN STUDENTS TAKE HOME LIVESTOCK SHOW TITLES DURING LITTLE RIVER COUNTY FAIR    09/01/20

Grand Champion Lamb – Caylee Turner, who won Grand Champion Lamb, Senior Lamb Showmanship, Reserve Champion Goat and Grand Arkansas Bred Goat

Students from Ashdown Public Schools participated in the 2020 Little River County Livestock Show held at the Foreman Fairgrounds the week of August 25-28.

As usual, students have worked long and hard to train and groom their animals in order to compete with their peers from the surrounding area. Livestock shows such as this provide leadership experiences at the local, state, and national level along with personal growth and career success.

Ashdown students who walked away with titles during the livestock show include:

Mutiple Finishes – Kylee Crow had two first place finishes and a second place finish with the three goats she entered. She also received Reserve Grand Arkansas bred goat and Champion Junior Goat Showman

Caylee Turner, who won Grand Champion Lamb, Senior Lamb Showmanship, Reserve Champion Goat and Grand Arkansas Bred Goat

Kylee Crow had two first place finishes and a second place finish with the three goats she entered. She also received Reserve Grand Arkansas bred goat and Champion Junior Goat Showman

Ava Abney received first place, second place and reserve grant ABL buckle and Maye Club Lamb ABL.

Sam Ratliff won Reserve Senior Lamb Showmanship, Reserve Market Lamb, Grand Champion

Arkansas Bred Lamb, Grand Senior Goat Showmanship & Grand Market Goat

Lyndon Youngblood won Champion Senior Hog Showman

Shooter Johnson won with Supreme Heifer

The Sevier County Fair will continue its livestock show for the final night this evening. Tonight will feature the goat and lamb show beginning at 7 p.m.

We’ll be bringing you results of the local livestock show as well as lots of photos on our website later this week.

LIFESHARE BLOOD CENTER SAYS DONATIONS DESPERATELY NEEDED 09/01/20

LifeShare Blood Center will host a blood drive this Friday, Sept. 4 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Walmart in De Queen.

James Solley, account manager for LifeShare Blood Center, is stressing local residents to come out in full force this Friday to donate blood. He said the center’s blood supply is critically low and that help is needed from all old and new donors.

All blood types are greatly needed.

IRS ISSUING INTEREST CHECKS TO INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYERS    09/01/20

If you’ve received a check from the IRS over the past few days, don’t worry – this isn’t a scam.

In mid-August interest payments were sent to nearly 14 million individual taxpayers. People who got these payments filed their 2019 federal income tax returns by the July 15 deadline and were owed refunds.

These interest payments averaged about $18. The IRS issued most of the payments separately from tax refunds.

Most taxpayers who received their refund by direct deposit had their interest payment sent to the same account. Everyone else received a check. A note on the check reads “INT Amount.” This identifies it as a refund interest payment.

These interest payments are taxable. Taxpayers who received a payment must report it on their 2020 federal income tax return next year. The IRS will send aForm 1099-INT in January 2021, to anyone who gets a payment of at least $10.

This interest payment is due to the IRS postponing this year’s filing deadline to July 15. The new deadline was related to COVID-19 and is considered a disaster-related postponement. Therefore, the law requires the IRS to pay interest calculated from the original April filing deadline. The taxpayer must have filed their 2019 federal income taxes by the July 15, 2020, deadline to get an interest payment.

This refund interest only applies to individual taxpayers. Businesses aren’t eligible.

COOPERATIVE EXTENSION OFFERS VIRTUAL ESTATE PLANNING WORKSHOPS 09/01/20

The Cooperative Extension Service will offer a virtual three-part workshop series covering the basics of trusts, transfer of property, wills and other estate planning tools.

Three one-hour online sessions will be held 2-3 p.m. on consecutive Thursdays, beginning Sept. 10. Topics will include:

  • On Sept. 10, Estate planning basics and legal language
  • On Sept. 17, Financial inventory and asset protection, advance directive and power of attorney
  • And on Sept. 25, Wills and trusts

Extension offices in Conway, Johnson, Faulkner, Pope and Yell counties are jointly hosting the workshop, which is free and open to all Arkansans.

Register online at by visiting www.uaex.educ

For more information, contact Pope County Family & Consumer Science Agent Pamela Luker at 479-968-7098, or email pluker@uaex.edu.

To learn about other extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service. In Sevier County, that number is (870) 584-3013.

OFFICIALS CANCEL TRI-LAKES BASS TOURNAMENT DUE TO HIGH LAKE LEVELS; GILLHAM LAKE LEVEL CURRENTLY 45 FEET ABOVE NORMAL ELEVATION 08/31/20

The Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament, scheduled for this weekend, has been cancelled due to high lake levels.

During a year in which cancellations and postponements have become the norm, officials with the annual local bass tournament said the decision is an unfortunate but necessary one. The call was made Friday after Gillham Lake rose 35 feet above normal pool elevation due to heavy rainfall from the effects of Hurricane Laura. Tournament officials were notified by the Corps of Engineers that the lake would still be far above normal pool elevation by this weekend’s event, especially after more heavy rain over the weekend. Gillham Lake is now over 45 feet above normal pool elevation. Dierks Lake is 24 feet above and De Queen 12 feet above normal.

According to rain gauge measurements in the Gillham area, over 10 inches of rain fell in less than three days last week.

The bass tournament, usually scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend, was originally postponed due to COVID-19.

Refunds will be provided to those who pre-registered. For more information, contact the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the tournament, at (870) 584-3225.

Across the state, Arkansans have been taking stock of the impact of Hurricane Laura after it made landfall last week and swept up Louisiana and into the Natural State. Although the area avoided any significant damage from flooding or high winds, other portions of Southern Arkansas were not as lucky. The National Weather Service confirmed on Sunday that eight tornadoes occurred in Arkansas as Tropical Storm Laura made its way through the state. Nearly 50,000 people were without power Friday morning and into the weekend.

The National Weather Service said so far 41 tornadoes have struck Arkansas since the beginning of the year.

OFFICIALS CANCEL TRI-LAKES BASS TOURNAMENT DUE TO HIGH LAKE LEVELS; GILLHAM LAKE LEVEL CURRENTLY 45 FEET ABOVE NORMAL ELEVATION 08/31/20

The Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament, scheduled for this weekend, has been cancelled due to high lake levels.

During a year in which cancellations and postponements have become the norm, officials with the annual local bass tournament said the decision is an unfortunate but necessary one. The call was made Friday after Gillham Lake rose 35 feet above normal pool elevation due to heavy rainfall from the effects of Hurricane Laura. Tournament officials were notified by the Corps of Engineers that the lake would still be far above normal pool elevation by this weekend’s event, especially after more heavy rain over the weekend. Gillham Lake is now over 45 feet above normal pool elevation. Dierks Lake is 24 feet above and De Queen 12 feet above normal.

According to rain gauge measurements in the Gillham area, over 10 inches of rain fell in less than three days last week.

The bass tournament, usually scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend, was originally postponed due to COVID-19.

Refunds will be provided to those who pre-registered. For more information, contact the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the tournament, at (870) 584-3225.

Across the state, Arkansans have been taking stock of the impact of Hurricane Laura after it made landfall last week and swept up Louisiana and into the Natural State. Although the area avoided any significant damage from flooding or high winds, other portions of Southern Arkansas were not as lucky. The National Weather Service confirmed on Sunday that eight tornadoes occurred in Arkansas as Tropical Storm Laura made its way through the state. Nearly 50,000 people were without power Friday morning and into the weekend.

The National Weather Service said so far 41 tornadoes have struck Arkansas since the beginning of the year.

83RD ANNUAL SEVIER COUNTY FAIR LIVESTOCK SHOW CONTINUES TONIGHT 08/31/20

The 83rd Annual Sevier County Fair continues tonight and tomorrow with its youth livestock show.

Due to COVID-19, all other events, including the live premium sale, carnival, exhibitions and rodeo are cancelled.

Youth livestock exhibitors will still have a chance to display their animals tonight and tomorrow. The cattle show is scheduled for tonight around 8 p.m. All cattle may begin entering the fairgrounds at 5 p.m. Weight in will start at 7. The event will start with bottle calves and continue with the cattle show.

Tomorrow, the fair will host the goat and lamb livestock shows. All goats and lambs may starting entering the fairgrounds at 7 p.m. Vet inspections and weigh-in must be completed before entering the barn. The show will begin at 8 p.m. All animals may leave at the conclusion of the show.

Showmanship will follow after the conclusion of each show. Youth may leave with their animal at that time if they do not wish to participate in showmanship.

All CDC and state health guidelines will be in effect.

For more information, visit the Sevier County Fair’s website at www.seviercountyfairarkansas.com or visit the group’s page on Facebook.

$300 EXTRA IN UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS COMING, EVENTUALLY, TO ARKANSANS WHO LOST JOBS DUE TO COVID-19; STATE SEEKING TO HELP COUNTY FAIRS IMPACTED BY VIRUS-RELATED CANCELLATIONS  08/31/20

Arkansas legislators approved a plan to add $300 a week to unemployment benefits, to extend the extra benefits available during the coronavirus pandemic.

The benefits will come from federal disaster relief funds. The state Department of Workforce Services administers unemployment claims and its officials hope the additional benefits will be paid soon after Labor Day.

Members of the Legislative Council approved the plan during a recent meeting. It would benefit an estimated 100,000 Arkansans who are currently not working.

The Council is the committee that oversees operations of state government during the interims between legislative sessions.

The Council also approved spending $100 million on the Arkansas Rural Connect program, which awards grants to local communities to expand access to high speed Internet.

Students are taking virtual classes and people are working from home, so the pandemic has focused attention on the need to enhance broadband capacity in rural areas, and in many cities and towns where Internet service is lacking.

The Council has voted to help county fairs by allowing them to spend money that had been allocated for premiums, typically awarded to young people exhibiting animals. County fairs are being cancelled or severely cut back this year. The Legislative Council voted to allow fairs to transfer almost $693,000 from premiums and use it instead to offset expenses.

The move is intended to help county fair associations survive the financial hit they are taking this year. Senators have said that when the legislature convenes in regular session in January, they want to provide financial help to county fairs so they can preserve their tradition of linking agriculture and education.

The Council also approved using $5 million in federal relief funds to help small meat processing plants expand. At the beginning of the pandemic, several major processing plants experienced slowdowns because workers were out sick, and bottlenecks in the industry drove up prices, according to the Agriculture Department officials seeking the $5 million in grants.

Arkansas has three small-scale meat processing plants that meet federal inspection standards, and they are eligible to apply for the grants. There are 40 custom meat processors in Arkansas that currently are exempt from federal inspections. They could get grants but first they would have to meet federal inspection standards.

NEW PROGRAM SEEKS TO HELP NEXT GENERATION OF ARKANSAS FARMERS 08/31/20

Those whose hands yearn for the dirt can learn to farm with classroom training and practical experience in two Center for Arkansas Farms and Food programs.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture center launches its first Farm School in January 2021. The second year of farm apprenticeships will begin in the spring. Registration for both programs begins Sept. 1.

The programs focus on small and mid-sized farms, specialty crop production and local markets in northwest Arkansas, said Heather Friedrich, program manager in the division’s department of horticulture. Both programs are open to anyone from any area of Arkansas. “We have connections with farmers in many areas of the state,” she said.

“Our goal is to increase the number of farmers and farms in Arkansas, improve farm viability and support our local food systems,” Friedrich said.

CAFF uses division research and outreach to support local food entrepreneurs and increases small farm viability. It is a center of the division’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and envisions a vibrant and diverse farm and food economy statewide, Friedrich said. Division of Agriculture faculty and staff manage CAFF programs in partnership with Northwest Arkansas Food Systems.

“Our goal is also to get local foods on local plates,” Friedrich said. “That’s good for farmers, and it’s good for consumers.”

Friedrich said CAFF addresses the need for a new generation of farmers to feed the state’s growing population. “The average farmer in Arkansas is age 57,” she said. “New farmers entering the field face significant obstacles, including a steep learning curve and access to land.

“CAFF’s goal is to support and expand the Arkansas food and farm economy,” Friedrich said. “These educational and mentoring programs will develop the next generation of Arkansas farmers and help them succeed.”

Farm School

The Farm School begins in January and is an 11-month, experiential learning program for beginning farmers of specialty crops or for those who want to learn how to grow food. The school includes both classroom curriculum and hands-on experience for integrating production, business and legal issues. Apprenticeships and outreach events offer continuing education to learn more about the skills needed for successful farming.

Students participate in approximately 350 hours of core knowledge in production, business and legal topics and 700 hours of hands-on field activities, Friedrich said. They will experience annual cropping systems on .5- and 5-acre scale fields, greenhouse production and perennial fruit production.

“Students gain an in-depth understanding of the farming production systems and business applications needed to succeed,” Friedrich said. “The Farm School prepares farmers to become specialty crop entrepreneurs, contributing to local and regional foodsheds in Arkansas.”

Farm Apprenticeships

The apprenticeship program matches new farmers or those who want to begin farming with mentors in their area of interest, providing hands-on learning experience on working farms, Friedrich said.

“Apprentices are carefully matched to farms based on their interests and learn alongside successful farmers, getting a taste of farm life before starting their own farm businesses,” Friedrich said.

Agreements signed by farm mentors and apprentices outline the terms of employment, and each on-farm experience is different, Friedrich said. The CAFF apprenticeship program lasts o