Wednesday, October 20, 2021
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Learn more about deer hunting opportunities, available public land through online report     09/22/21

Hunters interested in scouting a new piece of public hunting land may want to take a look at the recently published 2020-21 Arkansas Deer Summary Report to look for top prospects in their corner of the state.

The report, produced each year by the AGFC deer program coordinators, includes data collected from checked harvests as well as voluntary hunter surveys during the season. Not only does it give detailed breakdowns of statewide harvest, it also offers some insight on biological data, such as body weight and antler size of deer seen and harvested by hunters.

Last year’s white-tailed deer harvest of 216,835 was the highest harvest on record. It also was the eighth year in the last decade that Arkansas’s checked deer harvest topped the 200,000-mark. The state’s lowest deer harvest during a legal season on record was in 1938, when only 203 deer were checked statewide. Thanks to extensive restocking and management efforts by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and its partners in conservation efforts, Arkansans now enjoy hunting seasons spanning six months and sustained high harvest rates.

In addition to raw harvest numbers, the annual deer summary report also gives valuable information about the condition of the deer herd, relative abundance and various biological characteristics of male and female deer within the different ecoregions of Arkansas. For example, the average gross Boone and Crockett score for bucks is fairly consistent throughout the state, but bucks in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley showed slightly higher antler growth compared to the other ecoregions.

Visit https://www.agfc.com/en/hunting/big-game/deer/deer-harvest-reports/ for downloadable copies of annual white-tailed deer reports from 2000 to 2021

Arkansas Parole Board recommends pardon for Richard Broyles, convicted of murder in 1981     09/21/21
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Parole Board has issued its monthly recommendations for pardons and sentence commutations.

South Arkansas people receiving “With Merit” recommendations for pardons include Richard Broyles of Little River County, who was convicted of first-degree murder. Broyles was sentenced to life in prison following his conviction for first-degree murder for the killing of jewelry store owner Lemira Emery in 1981. He was also convicted of several offenses in Sevier County at that time, including for burglary and theft of property.

Broyles is currently serving out his sentence in the Cummins Maximum Security state prison.

Pardon requests deemed by the Parole Board as “With Merit” are formal recommendations to the governor in favor of the request. However, the governor has the authority to either accept or reject the Parole Board’s recommendation.

Horatio parents, students reminded of school flu clinic Oct. 26     09/21/21

HORATIO – It’s that time of year again – time to get your flu shot. Yes, it’s easy to forget about that particular virus and vaccine in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but health officials stress getting the flu shot is as important as ever.

The Horatio School District is reminding its students that the Sevier County Health Unit is again offering a yearly flu clinic at Horatio Public Schools for students in pre-K through 12th grade. This year’s flue clinic will be on Oct. 26. Forms have been sent home with students and will need to be turned in by the week of Sept. 27 for those students who wish to get a flu shot at this event.

District officials are encouraging all students who can to get their flu shot this year. If your child wants one but is unable to attend the Oct. 26 clinic, you can always go by your local physician or the health unit on Fourth Street in De Queen to get one. The health unit can be called at 642-2535.

Parents who do not want their child to receive a flu shot will not need to fill out or turn in the forms. District officials stress this is only a recommendation, not a requirement.

LRCO set to receive $2m in broadband infrastructure projects     09/21/21

ASHDOWN – Little River County is set to receive $2 million in pandemic relief funds to help strengthen internet capabilities in the county.

Specifically, the federal funds will be used to build fiber optic cable lines to support broadband internet infrastructure in Little River County.

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced the award last week and said the funds provided through the CARES Act will be matched with $500,000 in local funds.

Public meeting set in Lockesburg     09/21/21

LOCKESBURG – The City of Lockesburg will host a public hearing on Oct. 12 for the purpose of identifying and prioritizing the community needs of Lockesburg.

In a press release the city said the meeting will also focus on whether the city should develop an Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program grant and, if so, for what community needs. This grant program uses grants and loans from federal funds received by the State of Arkansas. These funds are made available to cities and counties according to need and can be used for a number of purposes, including:

-Providing benefits to low and moderate-income families; aiding in the prevention of slum and blight; and meeting other community needs which pose a serious, immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community where no other funding is available to meet such needs.

City officials say they will propose that the City of Lockesburg apply for a grant to refurbish the municipal water tower.

All residents are encouraged to attend the hearing and participate in the community development process. Technical assistance in developing proposals by groups representing low and moderate-income persons will be provided upon request.

Individuals requiring physical or sensory accommodations including interpreter service can contact Mayor Danny Ruth at Lockesburg City Hall or call (870) 289-32612 no later than Oct. 8. Accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities and non-English speaking individuals provide that a three-day notice is received.

The meeting will be held Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the new Lockesburg Senior Center.

Kiamichi Owa-Chito Festival set for this weekend at Beavers Bend     09/21/21

Like so many other events over the last year and a half, the 2021annual Kiamichi Owa-Chito Festival will look different than in the past when it debuts this weekend.

Because of factors organizers say are out of their control, all day events will be canceled this year. There will be a virtual PACE 5K Run and nightly concerts.  The Kiamichi Owa-Chito festival will begin Friday night, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Beavers Bend Amphitheater. Friday night will feature gospel singer Jordy Henson as well as various local entertainers. Saturday night’s musical will begin with entertainment provided by The Jerry Tim’s Band and Casey Donahew will headline.

The Beavers Bend State Park is under construction and parking passes will not be sold. Choctaw Casino Broken Bow and Idabel will be sponsoring all parking for this year’s festival. Parking is going to be on a first-come, first-serve basis this year. No reserved parking will be available. Park vans will be running to pick up festival goers from the parking areas and drop them off at the amphitheater.  Due to the rise locally of COVID-19, organizers recommend wearing a mask while riding vans to amphitheater. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Choctaw Casino’s, parking will be free. However, donations will be accepted by festival goers and business sponsorships are still needed.

Due to park construction and COVID, all day events will be postponed until Kiamichi Owa-Chito 2022. However, this year’s event is planning to take place and the event will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24 with Gospel Entertainment. Saturday night’s entertainment will take place at 6 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the Beavers Bend State Park Amphitheater. The event is free of charge and community members are encouraged to attend. While Owa-Chito is outdoors, organizers recommend that during the festival everyone practice COVID safety protocols in the building and practice social distancing while enjoying the festival.

Get out and enjoy the festival of the forest in the great outdoors of Beavers Bend State Park and this year’s Kiamichi Owa-Chito festival entertainment.  And don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs.

COSL to host tax deliquent land auction in De Queen tomrrow     09/21/21

The Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land will host an auction for tax-delinquent land in Sevier County this Wednesday, Sept. 22, starting at 10 a.m. The auction will be held at the County Courthouse – Courtroom in DeQueen, with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m.

These are properties whose taxes have been delinquent since 2015.

Next year, during the 2022 auction season, the COSL office will auction two years’ worth of properties.

Prospective bidders can find an online Public Auction Catalog, including a buyer’s guide; statutes governing sales; auction date, time and location; and a complete listing of parcels offered. This resource is on the Commissioner’s website,www.cosl.org, and is regularly updated.

The website also includes an instructional video demonstrating how to research information about each parcel available for sale.

Bidding is opened at the amount of taxes, penalties and interest due. Anyone who has delinquent property going up for auction should be aware they only have 10 business days after the auction to redeem property sold there.

Bidders must register for the auction, but the registration is free. The first $100 of any parcel’s purchase price must be paid in cash, while the remainder may be paid by cash, check or credit card.

Properties that do not sell at auction will appear on the COSL’s post-auction sales list 30 days after the auction date. From there, they can be purchased through an online auction system. Another instructional video on the COSL website demonstrates that process to bidders.

Owners of delinquent parcels may redeem those delinquent taxes online at www.cosl.org using a credit or debit card. Those who prefer to pay by check or money order can print a Petition to Redeem from the website or call the office at 501-324-9422 to request the petition, which must accompany their payment.

Rep. Vaught Update: September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month     09/21/21

By Arkansas State Representative DeAnn Vaught

In the United States, someone dies by suicide approximately every 11.1 minutes, and in Arkansas, on average, every 16 hours.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10–34 and the 10th leading cause of death overall in the U.S.. The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 35% since 1999. 

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It is a time to raise awareness on this stigmatized and often taboo topic. In addition to shifting public perception, this is also a time to spread hope and vital information to people affected by suicide.  

Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues. 

During the most recent legislative session, the General Assembly passed Act 802. This legislation created the Arkansas Legislative Study on Mental and Behavioral Health. The act directs the Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee to assess the strengths and weaknesses of mental and behavioral health resources and care currently available in Arkansas. The committee will study several related topics, including the utilization of crisis stabilization units, transportation of mental and behavioral health patients, and mental health screenings and suicide prevention measures for students. 

In 2017, the legislature passed an act that ensured Arkansans were answering calls made from Arkansas to the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Now when someone calls the hotline, they are speaking to someone with knowledge of local resources available.

In this session, we strengthened that law when we passed Act 640. This act ensures that the Suicide Prevention Hotline employs individuals who have experience working with veterans.

We’ve posted links to more information regarding suicide prevention, including warning signs and risk factors, at www.arkansashouse.org.

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately. If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255). 

Texarkana lawyer, former defense attorney charged with domestic battery     09/17/21
TEXARKANA – A Texarkana attorney and former defense attorney for Sevier and surrounding counties was arrested last weekend for misdemeanor charges of domestic battery and interference with an emergency call, according to Texarkana, Arkansas police.

52-year-old Shorty Craig Barrett was arrested early Sunday morning and transported to the Miller County Jail. He was arrested for a domestic battery incident involving a woman. Barrett was already on probation in Bowie County for an assault charge when he was arrested this past weekend.

Court records state Barrett was arrested in December of last year for entering a man’s place of work and assaulting him. Barrett was placed on two-years probation and ordered to pay nearly $3,500 in restitution as well as a $3,000 fine.

De Queen High School Homecoming tonight     09/17/21

It’s Homecoming Night at De Queen High School. This year’s Homecoming Queen is Daphne Villeda. She will be accompanied by 11 homecoming maids including Wendy Martinez, Yazmin Castro, Jasmin Cisneros, Jamilete Flores, Elissa Rojas, Leslie Garcia, Jackie Pham, Cinthya Buenrostro, Preslie Young, Wendy Victoriano and Alexa Monroy. The De Queen Leopards Football team will be playing the homecoming game against the Fouke Panthers on tonight with kick off at seven.

DE QUEEN – It’s homecoming night at De Queen High School.

Students at De Queen High School have been preparing all week in anticipation of this night’s homecoming ceremonies, which include a coronation ceremony for the DHS homecoming court and the game against the Fouke Panthers.

This year’s Homecoming Queen is Daphne Villeda. She will be accompanied by 11 homecoming maids including Wendy Martinez, Yazmin Castro, Jasmin Cisneros, Jamilete Flores, Elissa Rojas, Leslie Garcia, Jackie Pham, Cinthya Buenrostro, Preslie Young, Wendy Victoriano and Alexa Monroy.

The De Queen Leopards Football team will be playing the homecoming game against the Fouke Panthers tonight with kick off at seven.

The homecoming festivities will begin at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon with a parade down school drive for 6th through 12th grade continuing downtown around the courthouse square then to Leopard Stadium. The afternoon coronation ceremony will begin at 3:30 at Leopard Stadium.

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. Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask and social distance at the afternoon ceremony and during the football game.

Leopards and Panthers to meet for 10th matchup this evening     09/17/21

Tonight’s game against the Fouke Panthers is the 10th matchup between the two teams.

The last time the Leopards and the Panthers collided on the gridiron was 16 years ago, back in 2005 in Fouke. De Queen took advantage of four Fouke first half turnovers to take an 18-0 lead at the intermission.

Xavier Burton started the scoring when he “scooped and scored” on a 95-yard fumble return. After another Fouke turnover, Randy Hayes capped a 50-yard drive in two plays with a 12-yard scamper.

After Fouke’s fourth turnover of the first half, the Leopards capitalized again, capping a 32-yard drive in seven plays with a one-yard plunge by Hayes to take an 18-0 lead into the locker room at half.

Fouke scored on a nifty 60-yard run by Matt Miller off of a fake punt to cut the De Queen lead to 18-7 early in the third quarter.

The Leopards answered with a 58-yard drive in 10 plays. The score came on a two-yard run by Burton to make it 25-7.

Hayes put the icing on the cake with his third score of the night on a 52-yard run to extend the lead to 32-7. Fouke tallied late on a five-yard quarterback keeper by Cody Sutton to make the final score 32-13 in favor of the Leopards.

Hayes finished the night with 161 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Atkins was solid in his first career start, completing 4 of 10 passes for 83 yards. Atkins would go on to play baseball for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Burton, Daniel Aerhans, Doug Williams, Matt Jefferson, Riley Branson, Jonathon Dooley, and Brian Tadlock led a tough De Queen defense at Fouke that night.

Update to Dierks water, sewer investigation    09/17/21

We have an update on the audit investigation concerning the city of Dierks and the more than half a million dollars found missing from the city’s water and sewer departments. Former Dierks city employee, Cheryl Delarosa, has been charged with 12 felony counts following an investigation by the Arkansas State Police. Delarosa turned herself into authorities in early August after State auditors determined that the city failed to submit information for an audit of the water & sewer system for the calendar years 2015-2019 which, upon further review, led investigators to uncover missing funds in the amount of $501,193.

In a hearing last Friday, State Senator Trent Garner, El Dorado, asked how more than half a million dollars could go missing in a period of five years without anybody noticing. Dierks Mayor Ronnie Cogburn responded a lack of oversight and accounting measures in the city’s deposits and bookkeeping allowed Delarosa to allegedly embezzle over $500,000. Cogburn also said the issue came to light when bills started coming in and the money wasn’t available to pay them as expected.

The city had previously been in contact with a certified public accounting firm to do the audits for fiscal years 2015-2018 however, according to Cogburn, Delarosa failed to provide the required financial documents so the accountant “gave up” the audit process.

Since Delarosa’s departure from office Cogburn says procedures have been put in place to better track the coming and going of city funds. The investigation at this time is still ongoing and Delarosa is set to appear in court at the end on the 29th of this month.

Today is start of Arkansas alligator hunting season     09/17/21

Anyone looking for adventure in our corner of the state may want to see if there’s an opportunity to take part in this year’s private land alligator hunt, which kicks off today.

This year’s alligator hunting season runs from today through Sept. 20 and again from Sept. 24-27.

While public hunting opportunities have all been awarded through the AGFC’s draw process in July, private land hunting for alligators follows a quota system that offers more opportunities for people who weren’t lucky enough to draw a public hunting permit.

The quote for Zone 1 is 47 alligators. This zone includes Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties. And anyone who travels the waterways in southern Sevier County and northern Little River County knows we have some big gators, if not the biggest in the state.

Arkansas is the only state that has both an alligator and an elk season. While getting permits to hunt public land for either of these species requires a draw process, private land hunting for both species is regulated by a quota system. Just as with elk hunting, anyone with access to private land in one of Arkansas’s open alligator zones may purchase a $5 private land alligator hunting permit in addition to a valid hunting license and try for an alligator until the quota for the zone is filled.

Last season was the first that the new quota-based private land hunts were implemented, and hunters responded to the change with a record harvest of 174 alligators statewide.

The quota system also enabled some landowners to see a nuisance alligator as an opportunity to hunt.

Hunting is allowed only from 30 minutes after sundown until 30 minutes before sunup and is only open during the last two weekends in September. An alligator must be at least 4 feet long from the tip of the tail to the tip of the snout to be legal, and the seasonal limit is one alligator per permitted hunter.

Alligator hunters on private land should call the AGFC Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 after 2 p.m. the day of their hunt to check if the quota has been met in their zone.

Anyone interested in hunting alligators on private land should visit www.agfc.com/alligator to see more details about the hunt and watch orientation videos about how to hunt and tag their alligator if successful.

Nathan Fire Department hosting memorial service for fallen Arkansas officers    09/17/21

NATHAN – The Arkansas Families of Fallen Officers organization is inviting everyone in the area to attend a Benefit and Memorial Service to show respect for the men and women of Arkansas who dedicate their lives to serving and protecting the state of Arkansas.

The memorial service will include a special tribute to the four De Queen police officers killed on July 5, 1984. Those four officers were traveling to the funeral of Arkansas State Trooper Louis Bryant, who was killed by a white supremacist on June 30 of that year. The four officers killed in that traumatic accident included Capt. William Mills, Sgt. Roy Brewer, Patrolman William Gillham and Patrolman Herman Jones, Jr.

Organizers say they want to gave thanks and a special tribute to these four officers in particular during the memorial event this month.

The service will be held Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Nathan City Park and Fire Department. The event will include live music, a chicken dinner fundraiser, a raffle with over $2,000 in donated items, and much more. Everyone is invited to bring their lawn chairs and stay all day. Trade day vendors are asked to set up early. There is no cost for vendors to attend their event.

Sevier County Chamber to host “Diamond and Denim Gala” with food, music and drinks    09/17/21

HORATIO – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is extending invites to its first ever Denim & Diamonds Gala, set for Oct. 2 from 7-11 p.m. at the Rocky Hill Ranch Event Center.

We will have a live band from the Hot Springs area, a catered appetizer buffet, an open bar serving cold beer and fun wines.  The tickets are $75 per person and are on sale starting tdoay.  The chamber is limiting the event to 200  tickets, so anyone interested is encouraged to purchase soon. Organizers say the event will be an entertaining night for all who attend.  Attendees must be at least 21-years-old.

Buy your ticket on Eventbrite by the visiting www.eventbrite.com or calling the chamber office at 584-3225 and paying for it directly.

Organizers encourage attendees to participant in raffles at the event for chances to win some really good prizes, like diamond jewelry, a fire pit and more.

The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce said this event is designed in part to help bring the business sector and the community together for fun, networking and fundraising for the chamber.

Gentry Chevy hosting Joe Tigert Memorial Car Show this Saturday    09/17/21

DE QUEEN – Gentry Chevrolet in De Queen will host the annual Joe Tigert Memorial Car, Truck and Bike Show tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 18. Cost to enter a vehicle is $10. The public is invited to come by and see a wide variety of custom and performance cars, trucks and bikes. The event will include door prizes, food from the Walking Dog and a 50/50 pot. Organizers will present awards for the top 10 as well as participant judging and a Slow N Low Rat Rod Award.

The event will begin at 9 a.m. with awards to be presented at two. Gentry Chevy is located on 1027 U.S. Hwy. 70 in De Queen.

Gillham Library to open to curbside service beginning Sept. 21    09/17/21

GILLHAM – Sevier County Librarian Johnye Fisher is informing us work has been completed at the Gillham Library. The library will reopen for curbside service only on Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, 1-5 p.m. on Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. A notary will be available for the public on Tuesdays. The library has been stocked with new books and DVDs ready to be checked out. For more information contact the Gillham Library at (870) 386-5665.

In addition, the public is reminded that all Sevier County Libraries are currently offering curbside service only due to the rise in COVID-19 cases locally.

Curbside service will be the same as previously, and most library services are available through the libraries’ drop box windows. All books, DVD’s and items will be cleaned before being checked out again.

For more information call the library at (870) 584-4364.

SWEPCO AEP Foundation donates $50,000 to Sevier County Medical Center     09/15/21
DE QUEEN – Officials with SWEPCO’s American Electric Power Foundation held an awards ceremony yesterday to present a donation for the new Sevier County Medical Center.

At that gathering SWEPCO Representative Jennifer Harland presented members of the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation with a check for $50,000. The donation will be used for lobby and cafeteria furniture.

Harland said SWEPCO recognizes the vital role the new hospital will serve and that SWEPCO is proud to be able to support it through this donation.

Dr. Steve Cole, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, said SWEPCO’s donation will ensure visitors to the hospital will be greeted by a well-furnished and aesthetically-pleasing lobby and cafeteria.

Work continues on the new facility, including installation of walls this week. The 14-bed hospital, located just a few miles north of De Queen on Highway 71, is expected to be ready for use next May.

Gov. Hutchinson against federal vaccine mandate on U.S. businesses     09/15/21

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on Tuesday he is against a broad federal mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccines for businesses across the United States.

In what was his 200th press conference since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hutchinson said he does not support the Biden Administration’s announcement that it intends to require all employers with 100 or more employees to mandate that those employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Hutchinson said he recognizes the federal government’s authority to mandate masks among federal employees and military personnel. However, the White House’s recent announcement exceeds federal authority, Hutchinson explained.

Nevertheless, Hutchinson said the state continues to recommend Arkansans voluntarily take the vaccine.

Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero then spoke to recommend the use of masks by school age children and the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies becoming increasingly available across the state. Those treatments are now available at approved pharmacies across the state.

A list of where monoclonal antibodies are available can be found online at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

In regards to Arkansas’ COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported more than 1,500 new cases on Tuesday for a cumulative total of just over 477,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw a sizable net decrease of 737 for a current total of 17,000 across the state. Over the same period deaths climbed by 36 for a total of 7,334 since the spring of 2020.

ASBTDC offering free cybersecurity training for small businesses     09/15/21

A new free online training program is hoping to equip Arkansas businesses with the tools they need to protect themselves from online criminals.

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center collaborated with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Cyber Arena (formerly Cyber Gym) to create the Cyber Safe: Cybersecurity for Small Business online training course.

The free, on-demand course is broken into short modules covering cybersecurity basics, such as access control, passwords, physical security, and network protection. The six modules are eight to 25 minutes in length and can be completed in any order.

As part of the training, businesses have access to “Security Challenges,” hands-on workouts with the Cyber Arena. The interactive challenges allow small business owners and employees to practice their cyber hygiene skills, such as protecting confidential files. The exercises immerse businesses in cybersecurity from both the attacker’s and victim’s perspective.

The training complies with the federal government’s CMMC cyber standards, helping small businesses compete for federal contracts requiring cyber certification.

Malware, viruses, ransomware, and phishing are the most common types of cyber attacks on small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration. The surge in online activity, e-commerce, and remote work since the COVID-19 pandemic began puts more small companies at risk.

“Our goal is to help small businesses protect themselves and their customers,” said ASBTDC State Director Laura Fine. “Cyber crimes are costly, and businesses need to have cybersecurity safeguards in place just like they have locks on their doors and other physical security measures. In fact, the Cyber Safe training shows that door locks are one element of cybersecurity.”

Go to asbtdc.org/cyber-safe to launch the Cyber Safe training.

First State Bank will host Wadley ScanVan     09/15/21

First State Bank will host the Wadley ScanVan on Wednesday, Sept. 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The ScanVan will offer low cost screenings including for stroke and heart disease. The screenings take 10 minutes and everyone will receive a report before they leave. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call (903) 798-8874.

Millwood Lake drawdown begins today     09/15/21

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District will begin lowering Millwood Lake today to inspect shoreline erosion, provide bank stabilization and perform maintenance on numerous Millwood Lake boat ramps.

The lake will be lowered to near elevation 257.2 until Oct. 1. Afterward, the level will be gradually raised until it reaches its normal top of conservation pool at 259.2.

Real time lake level information can be found on the USACE Little Rock smartphone app which can be found in most app stores.

Boaters are encouraged to wear a life jacket and exercise caution during the drawdown as submerged stumps and shallow areas will be more prominent, especially in boat lanes.

For more information, contact the Millwood Project Office at 870-898-3343.

Sevier County Quorum Court discusses $3.2 million awarded through 2021 ARPA     09/14/21
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court met for a relatively brief session Monday afternoon to vote on several routine financial and budgetary appropriations.

Those included formally accepting the $3.2 million allotted for Sevier County through the 2021 American Recovery Plan Act, provided in two tranches of $1.6 million each. Some of those funds have already been used, including for additional compensation to county employees who worked throughout the pandemic.

After the meeting, Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said he would like to use some of the federal funds to build the sewer line from De Queen to the new Sevier County Medical Center after the county was unable to secure a rural development grant to fund the project.

In other business, the quorum court then authorized the budget allocation to provide raises to Sevier County jail staff in hopes of increasing retention rates. That raise, passed in July, was approved after Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry stated the jail was struggling to keep staff due to higher wages offered in the private sector. State standards require a certain level of staffing at each jail and Gentry hoped the $1 raise would encourage both more new hires and existing employees to stay.

Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House also provided an update on the county’s new hospital. She said construction is back on schedule and that sales tax collections to fund the hospital remain strong. She also stated the hospital is continuing to seek legal action against a drywall contractor who bailed on performing the work.

Finally, Judge Ray reminded the public of the closure of a portion of Melrose Road as well as a recent grant approval to replace a bridge on Chapel Hill Road. The $131,000 state grant will cover 75 percent of the cost.

The quorum court is scheduled to meet again next month.

De Queen School Board discusses CDL requirements, partnership with UA Cossatot     09/14/21

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School Board also met yesterday to handle a few routine matters.

The meeting began with board members approving a change to the school’s personal policy regarding auxiliary bus drivers. Superintendent Jason Sanders said federal guidelines regarding commercial drivers licenses are set to get stricter starting next year and the district is hoping to meet those new requirements ahead of schedule.

In addition, Sanders said the district will encourage traveling employees, such as coaches, ag teachers and band staff, to get a CDL so they are able to drive a school bus to events. Sanders said this would ensure the district does not have to remove bus drivers from their scheduled routes.

In other business, Sanders informed the school board a demographics study will soon be performed over the district’s five school zones. He said this is being required by the state for all districts to ensure they’re meeting the 1965 Civil Rights Act while also refraining from gerrymandering. During that discussion, board member Barry Reed stated he is open to the board creating two additional at-large positions to create broader representation on the De Queen School Board.

Sanders also explained a new partnership De Queen Public Schools is exploring with UA Cossatot to provide concurrent college classes and employment opportunities for De Queen students seeking a future career in education.

The board then passed the 2021-2022 budget, which totals around $24.5 million. The board also approved several expenditures including a project to pave the north end of Leopard Stadium, purchase new band equipment and a vehicle for the district’s IT team.

Sanders provided a school COVID-19 report, stating 40 students were quarantined as of Monday afternoon with three positive cases. Current enrollment is 2,328.

The board will meet again on Oct. 11. The board will present its annual public meeting at 5:30 that evening before the start of the meeting.

CRCC awards $5,000 to Sevier County Medical Center Foundation     09/14/21

DE QUEEN – Members of the Collin Raye Concert Committee recently made a donation of $5,000 to the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation.

Co-Chairs Bonita Smith and Patty Sharp said “our community always comes together when help is needed and making this donation to the foundation to support healthcare in our community is our way of showing support for the hospital.”

The committee has made several donations to worthwhile projects locally over the years.

The Sevier County Medical Center will soon begin its fundraising efforts to help the hospital by seeking corporate and individual donations from the public. Foundation members said they hope to bring the community together to generate charitable contributions to support exceptional healthcare close to home.

Those present at the check presentation included Ned Hendrix, Gayla Youngblood, Patty Sharp, Bruce and Sandra Jackson, De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown, John and Evelyn Helms, Bonita Smith and Scott Simmons.

Rep. Vaught recognized by Family Council Action Committee for voting record     09/14/21

LITTLE ROCK – Representative DeAnn Vaught of Horatio has been awarded the 2021 Statesman Award by the Family Council Action Committee.

Representative Vaught received the award for making an A on the 2021 Family Council Action Committee legislative report card. Recipients of this award are recognized for their votes during the 93rd General Assembly on the bills scored in the report card. Representative Vaught received her award this past Sunday, September 12, 2021, at the First United Methodist Church in Ashdown.

During the 2021 legislative session Representative DeAnn Vaught was the lead House Sponsor of SB450, now Act 953, a new law that gives Arkansas’ attorney general a cause of action against schools that knowingly allow athletes that are biologically male to participate on female sports teams.

Representative Vaught is serving in her fourth term as a state representative and is currently a farmer in Horatio. For the 93rdGeneral Assembly, Representative Vaught is the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development. She also serves on the House Rules Committee, the House Education Committee, and the Arkansas Legislative Council. She and her husband Jon reside in Horatio and have three children.

The award was presented to Representative Vaught by Ken Yang, Political Director of Family Council Action Committee based in Little Rock.

A Leopard Through & Through: Murray Neely is embodiment of Leopard Pride     09/10/21

The complete audio interview is available here:

Not only is this the return of the Saline River Rivalry, it’s also the official debut of the newly renovated Bill Blackwood Field at Leopard Stadium. After many years and a lot of effort, Leopard Stadium now has an artificial turf field. And boy is it a good looking one.
The dream of installing artificial turf at Leopard Stadium was one that was years in the making and finally came to fruition earlier this year after the school board approved the project.
The De Queen School Board voted unanimously back in April to incorporate an astroturf field at Leopard Stadium, which hosts the district’s football and soccer games as well as other sports and community-wide events. De Queen is one of only a handful of high schools in the state without an astroturf field.
The total cost of the field was estimated at $880,000. Administration and athletic officials spent several months building partnerships with the community to help raise donations for the new field. Thanks to that push, the district was able to collect $535,000 in private donations from businesses in De Queen. The vast majority of those donations came from private businesses in De Queen. At April’s meeting, the school board voted to put up the additional $345,000 needed to build the field.
The biggest sponsor for the new field was Diamond Bank with a $150,000 donation. Other sponsors include KDQN, Pilgrim’s, Gentry Chevrolet, Peak Therapy, Shelter Insurance, De Queen Auto Group, Dr. Randy Walker, De Queen Church of Christ, Horatio State Bank and Tri-State Asphalt.
The new field is just part of the renovations performed this year at Leopard Stadium. Another huge addition is the video scoreboard provided through a $200,000 donation from First State Bank of De Queen. District officials said they are extremely excited to debut the scoreboard alongside the new Astroturf field. The video scoreboard is being used in conjunction with the high school’s television production program to offer a range of brand new opportunities for De Queen students.
New stadium seating, fencing and several other projects wrap up the recent renovations at Leopard Stadium and Bill Blackwood Field.
A special dedication ceremony for the new field will be held at 6:45 shortly before tonight’s game. Kick off is at 7:30 p.m.

2021 Leopard Football Program available at tonight’s game, future home games     09/10/21
DE QUEEN – Make sure to check out the Leopards Football Program we here at KDQN 92.1FM partnered with De Queen Public Schools to provide for tonight’s game and all future home football games. The program features a history of the Saline River Rivalry along with spotlights on all the Leopards coaches and players as well as the Leopards schedule, roster and advertisements from many of the top Leopard supporters in our local business community.
De Queen High School cheerleaders will be selling the programs for just $3 just before tonight’s game against the Nashville Scrappers as part as a fundraiser for their program. Make sure to check it out and come out to tonight’s game to show some huge support for our Leopards as they host the Scrappers on the newly renovated Bill Blackwood Field at Leopard Stadium.
A familiar face returns as mayor of Horatio     09/10/21
HORATIO – Horatio has a new mayor, though he’s likely to be a familiar face to most in the community.

Borden Neel, who wrapped up 24 years as Horatio’s mayor in 2018, was appointed to serve in the position again during a special meeting of the Horatio City Council this week.
Neel replaces former mayor Rich Dorsey, who stepped down from the position after accepting a job in another state.
Neel plans to serve mayor of Horatio until the next election, scheduled for the fall of 2022.
Kirby man killed in accident Wednesday night     09/10/21
GLENDWOOD – A Kirby man was killed in a motorcycle accident near Glenwood Wednesday afternoon.
According to the Arkansas State Police, 66-year-old William Richard Guise was traveling on Highway 182 on his 2003 Harley Davidson when his motorcycle failed to negotiate a lefthand turn. The motorcycle exited the roadway and struck a highway sign.Guise was pronounced dead at the scene by Montgomery County coroners.

Road conditions at the time of the accident were listed as clear and dry by the investigating state trooper.

Domtar donates $5,000 for Harvest Regional Food Bank     09/10/21

ASHDOWN – Domtar in Ashdown recently donated $5,000 to help fund the Backpack Food for Kids program offered through the Harvest Texarkana Regional Food Bank.

The program offers backpacks full off full to children in need throughout the food bank’s service area, which includes Sevier and Little River Counties as well as others in Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas. Specifically, the program provides food to kids for the weekends when school-provided meals are otherwise not available. Harvest officials say it takes around $125 to sponsor one child through the program, so more than 50 local kids will benefit from Domtar’s recent contribution.

Approximately 1,000 students are currently benefiting from the program.

Harvest Regional Food Bank Executive Director Camille Wrinkle said she and the organization are grateful for partnerships with and donations from area businesses like that made by Domtar.

Anyone interested in volunteering at Harvest or who wants to make a financial donation can call 870-794-1398 or stop by the food bank at 3120 E. 19th St., Texarkana, Ark.

Assistance for contract poultry growers has Oct. 12 deadline     09/10/21

Contract poultry growers have until Oct. 12 to sign up for aid under the second Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP2.

Up to $1 billion has been allocated through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to provide CFAP 2 payments to contract growers across the nation. The payments are designed to assist with major disruptions to the poultry sector due to the ongoing pandemic.

COVID was responsible to major slowdowns and labor disruptions due to illness and quarantines, affecting processing operations and the entire supply chain. For growers, the effect of this situation was, in many cases, a reduction in birds delivered and, as a result, lower revenue. The impacts on individual grower operations were potentially severe.

The expanded eligibility for CFAP2 includes not only contract broiler growers but also contract growers of other poultry such as pullets, layers, eggs, turkeys, ducks, geese, and pheasants and quail. It also includes contract growers of hogs and pigs.

The inclusion of contract growers was unprecedented until last month’s announcement. The inclusion of contract growers is the culmination of several months of work by USDA to redefine program eligibility requirements to include contract growers. Contract growers haven’t “historically been directly eligible for most forms of federal assistance because they do not own the animals they raise.”

USDA announced eligibility for contract growers on Aug. 24.

Growers can sign up by completing a CFAP2 application at their local Farm Service Agency office. For more information, Sevier County residents can call the De Queen-based Farm Service Agency office at 584-3111. In Little River, call (870) 898-3373 and, in Howard County, call (870) 845-1030.

Arkansans should be cautious of fake tickets this football season     09/10/21

And now our weekly look at the spams, scams and cons targeting Arkansans across the state.

This fall, Arkansans will once again have the opportunity to enjoy live football games at all of our in-state institutions. However, Arkansans looking to buy tickets should be leery of scammers. Unfortunately, scam artists will try to take advantage of fans by selling them tickets that are fake, duplicates or non-existing. They may use high-pressure-sales tactics to rush innocent Arkansans into buying tickets using deals that seem unbeatable and many times are. Sports fans should be spending their time cheering on their favorite teams – not calling penalties on scammers.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued the following tips to help Arkansans protect themselves when looking to buy game tickets during 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.

-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.

De Queen City Council discusses federal relief funds, tuition assistance and physician recruitment     09/08/21
DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council met last night to discuss several items of business, including federal funds received by the city through the American Recovery Plan Act passed by Congress earlier this year.
De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said the city had received around $1.35 million through the $350 billion federal relief package passed back in the spring. A resolution passed at last night’s meeting formally accepted those funds and will allow the city to spend it on a limited number of projects. Those include city infrastructure improvements, premium pay for city workers and to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic or its related economic consequences.
Brown said the city plans to use the lion’s share of the funds for projects at the municipal sewer and water treatment facilities. Brown said the city’s water plant, built in the late 60’s, is in particular showing its age. He added the city is still some ways away from formalizing any of those plans.
In other business, the council discussed a proposal forwarded by Alderman Rick Pruitt to help pay for city workers to take classes at UA Cossatot. Similar to agreement Pilgrim’s and UA Cossatot announced earlier this year through Pilgrim’s Better Futures Program, Pruitt said he would like the city to pay up to 50 percent of an employee’s tuition costs. In addition, he said that incentive could extend to the employee’s spouse and children at a reduced amount.
Pruitt said he would like the tuition assistance to encourage employee retention – a problem faced by many municipal governments in face of higher wages offered in the private sector.
The council had a relatively lengthy back and forth discussion on the topic, including concern from Alderman Kathy Richards that courses offered by the college would not necessarily benefit employees in their particular jobs. She said employees would be better served by completing the technical certification programs, such as water treatment licensing, already offered by the city. In addition. Richards said she fears a program would see employees using the city as a “stepping stone” to receive a subsidized education and then moving on to another employer.
Following the discussion, Brown said he would meet with each city employee to gauge interest in the tuition assistance and report back at the council’s next meeting.
Finally, Alderman Dr. Jason Lofton said two new doctors were now operating in De Queen, one full-time and the other part-time. He said the city should consider restarting its partnership with the state through the Arkansas Physician Recruitment Program for medically underserved communities of which De Queen is included.
This program would encourage doctors to come and stay in a community by offering up to $80,000 over four years to the doctor. The assistance would be matched 50/50 by the state, requiring just a $40,000 investment from the city. The assistance would be paid in allotments over four years so if a doctor leaves before the four years are over, litigation to have the money returned would not be needed.
No decision was made at last night’s meeting but Lofton said he will encourage both doctors to attend the next city council meeting to introduce themselves. A decision on restarting the program is expected at a later council meeting.
Investigation ongoing into death of former ASP Trooper Chris Brackett     09/08/21

DE QUEEN – Authorities say the investigation is continuing into the death of a former Arkansas State Trooper and Sevier County investigator in Lockesburg earlier this month.

No charges have been filed in the death of 50-year-old Chris Brackett in Lockesburg on August 12. According to a preliminary report released by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched to Silver Ridge Road in Lockesburg around 9:30 that evening after receiving a report from a woman who said she accidentally shot her friend. The caller was identified as 31-year-old Kayle Helms.

When deputies arrived on the scene they identified the shooting victim as Brackett. Authorities reported he had a gunshot wound to his head and was kneeling on the ground with his head resting on the passenger seat of vehicle. According to the report, deputies saw Helms holding Brackett’s head when they arrived.

Sevier County deputies and troopers with the Arkansas State Police secured the scene with assistance from first responders and Southwest EMS. The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division was then contacted to assist in the investigation as well as to process the scene.

The investigation remains ongoing and pending results from the Arkansas State Crime Lab a file will be presented to the prosecuting attorney for review. The investigation is pending review of the state’s autopsy and toxicology reports.

Brackett is a former Arkansas State Police trooper and a former investigator with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office.

COSL holding deliquent land auction in De Queen Sept. 22     09/08/21

DE QUEEN – Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land announced that his office will auction tax-delinquent land in Sevier County on Wednesday, Sept. 22, starting at 10 a.m. The auction will be held at the County Courthouse – Courtroom in DeQueen, with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m.

These are properties whose taxes have been delinquent since 2015.

Next year, during the 2022 auction season, the COSL office will auction two years’ worth of properties.

Prospective bidders can find an online Public Auction Catalog, including a buyer’s guide; statutes governing sales; auction date, time and location; and a complete listing of parcels offered. This resource is on the Commissioner’s website,www.cosl.org, and is regularly updated.

The website also includes an instructional video demonstrating how to research information about each parcel available for sale.

Bidding is opened at the amount of taxes, penalties and interest due,” Land said. “Anyone who has delinquent property going up for auction should be aware they only have 10 business days after the auction to redeem property sold there.”

Bidders must register for the auction, but the registration is free. The first $100 of any parcel’s purchase price must be paid in cash, while the remainder may be paid by cash, check or credit card.

“Property taxes help fund schools, roads, libraries and public services including ambulances,” Land said. “Everyone benefits from paying those taxes — and the property owner benefits from paying on time, by avoiding interest and penalties on delinquent taxes.”

Properties that do not sell at auction will appear on the COSL’s post-auction sales list 30 days after the auction date. From there, they can be purchased through an online auction system. Another instructional video on the COSL website demonstrates that process to bidders.

Owners of delinquent parcels may redeem those delinquent taxes online at www.cosl.org using a credit or debit card. Those who prefer to pay by check or money order can print a Petition to Redeem from the website or call the office at 501-324-9422 to request the petition, which must accompany their payment.

County announces road closures week of Sept. 13     09/08/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Courthouse is informing the public of several road closures starting next week.

The north end of Melrose Road will be closed beginning Monday, Sept. 13 and will remain closed until further notice. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said the closure is being held to replace a number of old culverts on Melrose Road. Travelers are advised the south end of Melrose Road will remain open.

Johnson Bridge Road will also be closed Thursday, Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a state inspection of Johnson Bridge over the Rolling Fork River.

Keep Arkansas Beautiful fall campaign kicks off Sept. 11     09/08/21
The Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission (KAB) announced that registration is now open for its annual fall cleanup, the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup in Arkansas.
Arkansans across the state are encouraged to get outside and participate in local cleanup efforts throughout the fall season.
Organized by KAB, the Keep America Beautiful™ Great American Cleanup® in Arkansas begins on Sept. 11, and various cleanup, beautification and recycling efforts will be held across the state until Oct. 31.
During the nation’s largest community improvement effort, Arkansans volunteer annually to clean up and beautify their communities throughout a multitude of cleanup events.
Communities and groups are invited to sign up to organize a local cleanup this year at www.keeparkansasbeautiful.com
Cleanup organizers can use KAB’s free, print-ready promotional items to help recruit volunteers and learn how to organize a cleanup. Resources are available at Keep Arkansas Beautiful’s website. There, volunteers can also find local cleanups on the calendar of events.
“As cooler weather approaches and we look forward to heading outside to enjoy what Arkansas has to offer this fall, we invite all Arkansans to take pride in their state by removing litter, recycling and getting involved in a local event near you,” said Mark Camp, executive director of KAB.
During KAB’s two annual cleanup events last year, volunteers removed 410,197 pounds of bulky waste across 1,038 miles of roadside, 116 miles of waterway and shorelines, and 671 acres of parks and public areas. Arkansans also collected 3,496 tires, recycled 19,904 pounds of electronics and planted 384 trees, shrubs and flowers.

Trials set for Sevier County man indicted on drug and forgery charges     09/07/21

DE QUEEN – A Horatio man is set for a jury trial later this year after his arrest in 2020 on numerous felony charges for possession of drugs and for his alleged involvement in a multi-state counterfeiting, forgery and identity theft operation.
According to records in the Sevier County Circuit Court, 51-year-old Tommy Wayne Anderson is scheduled to appear for a jury trial hearing on Dec. 2. He is facing one count of possession of methamphetamine with purpose to deliver, one count of possession of a forgery device and 10 felony counts of forgery.
Anderson was arrested on Nov. 2 of last year after he was reportedly driving a vehicle without the owner’s possession. Nearly 20 grams of methamphetamine were allegedly found on Anderson and were packaged in manner to facilitate distribution, according to the search warrant affidavit.
Other items reportedly found in Anderson’s possession included numerous blank legal documents, birth certificates belonging to other people, check stubs from a Texas business and numerous other items and documents suspected to be for use in a forgery operation.
According to the search warrant affidavit, “An inventory conducted by the De Queen Police Department and Sevier County sheriff’s deputies of the truck revealed the presence of items typically associated with bank fraud, identity theft, possession of stolen mail and check counterfeiting inside the vehicle, including: various completed checks, a brief case with several packages of blank checks, negotiated checks, a used printer, a laptop computer with a digital thumb drive storage device in it, items of mail for numerous individuals, and boxed items that appeared to officers to have been recently purchased, including a new printer in a box.”
Reporting from The Texarkana Gazette states investigators connected these items to check fraud cases in Sevier County as well as in several Texas counties. Anderson is alleged to have used information from mail stolen from mailboxes in the forgery scheme. The Gazette reports that Anderson has prior state and federal convictions for possession of counterfeit security and fraudulent use of credit cards.
Anderson posted a $25,000 bail in February over the charges in Sevier County. He is scheduled to appear in late October on those charges. However, the Gazette reports that Anderson is also now facing federal mail theft and counterfeiting charges. Those charges were filed by federal prosecutors in July. That case is scheduled for a Dec. 13 trial before U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey.
Horatio City Council to appoint interim mayor at special meeting tonight     09/07/21
HORATIO – In an announcement made over the weekend, officials with the City of Horatio said a special council meeting will be held tonight to appoint a new mayor.
Mayor Rich Dorsey has resigned from the office and the position is currently being held by Acting Mayor Deborah Neel. The council will vote this evening on appointing former Horatio Mayor Borden Neel to the position until next year’s election.
The special meeting will be held at 4:30 tonight in the city hall conference room and is open to the public.
Horatio school mask mandate continues this week; local schools reporting higher case numbers among students, staff     09/07/21
HORATIO – The Horatio School District’s mask mandate will continue this week, Superintendent Zane Vanderpool announced Friday.
That local mandate went into effect last week following a special meeting of the Horatio School Board. District officials recommended the mandate to help combat the growing number of students and staff in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19.
As of Friday, the Horatio School District was reporting a total of 158 students, over over 21 percent of the entire student body, in isolation or quarantine due to confirmed or suspected exposure to the virus. An additional three staff members are also in quarantine.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, most school districts in the state are continuing to report increasing numbers of staff and students who have contracted the virus. According to yesterday’s report by the department of health, De Queen Public Schools are currently reporting 33 active cases for a total of 70 since the school year began. Ashdown is reporting 32 currently for a total of 71, Nashville 24, 14 in Mineral Springs, 13 in Foreman and eight in Cossatot River School District.The report only includes schools reporting five or more active cases. No local schools are reporting any changes to their learning plans as of this time and remain in-person.

Little River, Sevier County Fairs are wrapped up but Howard County Fair is now in full swing     09/07/21

NASHVILLE – The Little River County Fair was held a couple of weeks ago and the Sevier County Fair wrapped up its last activities for the year this past weekend. But fairgoers in Southwest Arkansas can rejoice, the Howard County Fair is just now underway.

The Howard County Fair kicked off last night with the annual fair parade at 5 p.m. This week, the main events continue through Sept. 11 with livestock exhibits, a carnival, parade, dog show, hay bale decorating, an exhibit building full of crafts, horticulture and photography, and much more.

The livestock shows begin today and continue through Thursday, Sept. 9.

The premium sale is set for 11 a.m. this Friday, Sept. 10. The carnival will be held from 4-9 p.m. nightly tonight through this Saturday, Sept. 11. Cost is $1 per ride or purchase an armband for unlimited rides for $20.

For more information or a full list of events and times, contact Karter Castleberry at (870) 557-5775 or Mark Kitchens at (870) 451-2235. You can also pick up a fair tabloid at most businesses in Howard County.

Arkansas deer season kicks off Sept. 25     09/07/21

We’re one week into September and for a lot of folks in the area that means one thing: deer season is right around the corner.

Sept. 25 marks the opening day for Arkansas’ 2021 deer seaon.

Most of Sevier and Little River Counties are covered by Zone 14. That means a zone bag limit of four deer and no more than two bucks. Dogs are allowed for deer hunting between Nov. 13 and Dec. 12 only. Legal bucks must be button bucks or have at least three points on one side of their rack. Button bucks do count toward a hunter’s buck limit in this zone. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission states it sets forth these rules to order to help maintain a healthy deer population.

For those waking up early on the 25th, a few stipulations apply to your equipment. Bows must have at least a 35-pound pull and crossbows a 125-pound pull. Arrowheads must be at least 7/8th inches wide and may not contain any form of poison.

Arkansas offers a wide variety of Wildlife Management Areas open to the public to hunt on. Many of these areas do require a special draw permit to be able to hunt, however, some simply require a general WMA permit.

If bow season isn’t for you then muzzle loader season isn’t far behind with opening day being October 16th. Modern Gun will see its debut for the 2021 season beginning Nov. 13th.

This season’s special youth modern gun hunt is set for Nov. 6-7 and again from Jan. 1-2 of 2022.

Regardless of when you go or where you go. It’s important to know the rules and regulations around what you’re doing and where you’re hunting. Each WMA across the state has a unique set of guidelines in order to preserve the population of that area for generations to come. Visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s website for a full listing of those guidelines at AGFC.com

(Thanks Nate!)

September is Rice Month in Arkansas     09/07/21

By State Representative DeAnn Vaught

Rice is grown in over 40 Arkansas counties, including Sevier and Little River Counties. The crop contributes billions to the state’s economy and accounts for approximately 25,000 jobs, crucial to rural communities.

September is National Rice Month, a month-long celebration of all things rice. In Arkansas, we have a great deal to celebrate.

Our state is home to 2,300 rice farms and 96% of those farms are family owned and operated. Our farmers produce more than 9 billion pounds of rice each year.

The history of rice in Arkansas began in the 1800’s but it wasn’t until 1910 that production, research and milling were established in the state.

Today, Arkansas produces approximately 48 percent of U.S. rice and ranks number one in acres planted and bushels produced. Arkansas has been the nation’s leading rice-producing state since 1973.

Arkansas rice farmers not only contribute to our economy by creating jobs, they’re also known for giving back to their communities. The state’s rice industry gives over 100,000 pounds of rice annually to fight food insecurity in Arkansas.

Rice farmers have a commitment to protect and preserve natural resources. Today, Arkansas rice farmers produce more rice using less land, energy and water than they did 20 years ago. Working rice fields also provide critical wildlife habitat for many species of birds, mammals and reptiles.

A half-cup cooked serving of white or brown rice costs less than 10 cents, and provides vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Consuming Arkansas-grown rice helps support our neighbors who continue to produce a quality food supply. You can help celebrate rice month by purchasing Arkansas-grown rice at your local supermarket.

More information about the industry is available at www.arkansashouse.org.

Ashdown woman killed in accident Thursday night      09/03/21
ASHDOWN – An accident in Little River County Thursday night caused the death of an Ashdown woman and left a Texarkana man injured.
According to the Arkansas State Police, the accident occurred around 9:30 last night on U.S. Highway 71 in Ashdown. Investigating state troopers reported the accident occurred when the 2008 Honda Civic driven by 64-year-old Melba Rose of Ashdown entered Highway 71 and crossed into the path of an incoming 2020 Ford F150.
The impact caused both vehicles to overturn and forced the F150 to strike a third vehicle parked in an adjacent parking lot.
Emergency responders arrived but Rose had succumbed to the injuries sustained in the accident and was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the F150, 55-year-old James Nowlin of Texarkana, was injured and transported to the LSU Medical Center in Shreveport, La.
Investigating state trooper Joshua Broughton described road conditions at the time of the accident as clear and dry.
Contract poultry growers now eligible for assistance payment funds      09/03/21
DE QUEEN – Contract poultry growers have until Oct. 12 to sign up for aid under the second Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP2.

Up to $1 billion has been allocated through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to provide CFAP 2 payments to contract growers across the nation.
The payments are designed to assist with major disruptions to the poultry sector due to the ongoing pandemic.
COVID was responsible to major slowdowns and labor disruptions due to illness and quarantines, affecting processing operations and the entire supply chain. For growers, the effect of this situation was, in many cases, a reduction in birds delivered and, as a result, lower revenue. The impacts on individual grower operations were potentially severe.
The expanded eligibility for CFAP2 includes not only contract broiler growers but also contract growers of other poultry such as pullets, layers, eggs, turkeys, ducks, geese, and pheasants and quail. It also includes contract growers of hogs and pigs.
The inclusion of contract growers was unprecedented until last month’s announcement. The inclusion of contract growers is the culmination of several months of work by USDA to redefine program eligibility requirements to include contract growers. Contract growers haven’t “historically been directly eligible for most forms of federal assistance because they do not own the animals they raise.”
USDA announced eligibility for contract growers on Aug. 24.
Growers can sign up by completing a CFAP2 application at their local Farm Service Agency office. For more information, Sevier County residents can call the De Queen-based Farm Service Agency office at 584-3111. In Little River, call (870) 898-3373 and, in Howard County, call (870) 845-1030.
Fallen Officer memorial to include special tribute for four DQPD officers who died in 1984      09/03/21
NATHAN – The Arkansas Families of Fallen Officers organization is inviting everyone in the area to attend a Benefit and Memorial Service to show respect for the men and women of Arkansas who dedicate their lives to serving and protecting the state of Arkansas.
The memorial service will include a special tribute to the four De Queen police officers killed on July 5, 1984. Those four officers were traveling to the funeral of Arkansas State Trooper Louis Bryant, who was killed by a white supremacist on June 30 of that year. The four officers killed in that traumatic accident included Capt. William Mills, Sgt. Roy Brewer, Patrolman William Gillham and Patrolman Herman Jones, Jr.
Organizers say they want to gave thanks and a special tribute to these four officers in particular during the memorial event this month.
The service will be held Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Nathan City Park and Fire Department. The event will include live music, a chicken dinner fundraiser, a raffle with over $2,000 in donated items, and much more. Everyone is invited to bring their lawn chairs and stay all day. Trade day vendors are asked to set up early. There is no cost for vendors to attend their event.
ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      09/03/21
DE QUEEN – Turning to local COVID-19 news, here are the latest figures for Sevier County and surrounding counties according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Department of Health is reporting 148 active cases in Sevier County. That’s a net increase of seven since Monday. In total the department of health has recorded 3,363 transmissions of COVID-19 among residents in Sevier County as of Thursday morning. Deaths related to COVID-19 in our county remain at 31.
Active cases remain in the three digits in Little River County as well, with 126 active cases currently reported. Total cases number 1,697. Deaths in Little River due to the virus remain at 44.In Howard County, active cases currently total 154 – an increase of four from Monday. Total cumulative cases number 2,147 while deaths remain at 28.

Finally, Polk County is reporting the highest active case load in the four-county area with a current total of 188. That’s an increase of 26 from Monday. One additional death due to the virus was recorded this week for a total of 89 since the pandemic began.

Daily new case figures continue to remain high across the state, with the Department of Health reporting an additional 2,400 on Thursday. Deaths increased by 34 yesterday, surpassing 7,000 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations saw a slight decline by 23 to leave 1,290 Arkansans still hospitalized because of the virus.

AAG warns of charity-related scams, provides tips for those looking to help      09/03/21

Arkansans have some of the most generous hearts when they see a neighbor or a fellow American struggling. From the devastating loss of our U.S. Troops in Kabul last week, to the hurricanes and wildfires devastating other states and the never-ending pandemic, Americans have always willingly faced and overcome these challenges. As Arkansans look for charities to support others near and far, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is reminding everyone it is vital to be vigilant and do their homework when donating to a charity for the first time.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers ensure an organization’s legitimacy before giving money:

-Ask questions before giving. Only give when comfortable that the donation will support a trustworthy organization or activity. Refuse high-pressure appeals. Legitimate charities will not rush a donation.

-Ask for written information or research the organization online. A legitimate charity will send information that provides the organization’s mission and how the donation will be used, along with proof that the contribution is tax deductible.

-Call the charity directly before giving a donation to ensure it is not a scam.

-Do not send cash. For security and tax records, make donations by check or credit card.

-Search the Arkansas Charities Database for more information on charities in Arkansas, including those benefiting service members and their families.

The FTC has released a video to highlight tips on how to research charities on giving wisely to veterans organizations as well as information to avoid charity scams.

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

Horatio announces mask mandate for all students, staff and visitors      09/02/21

HORATIO – In a specially-called meeting last night, the Horatio School Board voted to approve a recommendation from district officials to require the use of masks for all students, staff and visitors to the Horatio School District.
The decision follows a start to the school year marred by the quarantine and isolation of numerous Horatio students and staff due to COVID-19. As of Monday, the district was reporting 26 percent of its student body and 11 staff members quarantined due to testing positive for COVID-19 or coming into close contact with a confirmed case.
In a statement, the district said masks will be required for everyone on a Horatio school campus regardless of vaccination status and whenever social distancing of at least six feet cannot be maintained.
The exceptions to the district’s new mask mandate includes children under the age of two and while an individual is eating or drinking during designated times. Other exemptions include when an individual provides documentation of a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering, or upon approval of district officials when a mask would interfere with an activity.
Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the district’s mask mandate will be evaluated on a weekly basis.
The mask requirement begins today and will be enforced until the number of active cases decrease to an acceptable level, the statement added.
Individuals exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 will not need to quarantine if the individual exposed has no symptoms and both the infected and exposed individual were consistently and correctly wearing a mask. Fully-vaccinated students or staff will not need to quarantine if deemed to be close contacts, unless they have or develop symptoms.
Family of C.J. Harris files lawsuit against ACH claiming medical negligence      09/02/21
ASHDOWN – The family of an 14-year-old Ashdown High School student who passed away after an ATV crash this past spring has filed a lawsuit against Arkansas Children’s Hospital and several staff members, claiming the hospital was medically negligent in providing care following the accident.
Cedrick Harris Jr. (C.J.) – was flown to Arkansas Children’s Hospital on March 23 after he was involved in a four-wheeler accident. In that accident C.J. had suffered a traumatic brain injury.
The lawsuit filed by his family states the treatment “he received was substandard and utterly appalling.”
The suit claims C.J.’s treatment was prematurely downgraded from ICU and that a MRI was unnecessarily delayed for six days, causing C.J’s brain injury to progress to a point “where nothing could be done to intervene.”
C.J. passed away from the injuries sustained in that accident around a week after his admission to the hospital, on April 2.
C.J. had already received a dual athletic scholarship to play baseball and football for LSU.
The lawsuit states that Arkansas Children’s Hospital “robbed C.J. of his bright future and now C.J.’s parents will live with the thoughts of what could have been had C.J. survived.”
DHS 2021 Homecoming set for Sept. 17      09/02/21
The 2021 DHS Homecoming Queen is Daphne Villeda. De Queen’s Homecoming ceremonies will be held Sept. 17.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen High School Student Council is excited to announce Daphne Villeda as the 2021 DHS Homecoming Queen alongside 11 DHS homecoming maids.
The De Queen Leopards Football team will be playing the homecoming game against the Fouke Panthers on Sept. 17. Homecoming festivities will kick off with spirit week beginning Sept. 13 going through Sept. 17.
Spirit days include: Marvel Monday/ Superhero Day during which students will dress up as their favorite superhero whether it be Superman, a Firefighter, or your favorite Leopard; Twin Tuesday when students can find a Leopard buddy or buddies and dress alike; Wake-up Wednesday with dressing in pajamas; Throwdown Thursday when students will dress in their designated class color for color wars day; and Favorite Team Friday by dressing in black and gold for the Leopards. Naturally, school dress code will apply to spirit week.

The 2021 DHS Homecoming Court includes, from left to right in the first row, Senior Maid Wendy Martinez and Senior Maid Yazmin Castro. In the second row are Senior Maid Jasmin Cisneros and Senior Maid Jamilete Flores.
In the third row are Senior Maid Elissa Rojas, Senior Maid Leslie Garcia and Queen Daphne Villeda, Senior Maid Jackie Pham.

The homecoming festivities will begin at 2:30 p.m. with a parade down school drive for 6th through 12th grade continuing downtown around the courthouse square then to Leopard Stadium. The afternoon coronation ceremony will begin at 3:30 at Leopard Stadium.
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. Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask and social distance at the afternoon ceremony and during the football game.

Carnival, exhibition/commercial buildings at Sevier County Fair are open now      09/02/21
DE QUEEN – The carnival kicks continues tonight at the Sevier County Fairgrounds as part of this year’s Sevier County Fair and Rodeo.
The carnival will be open each night through this Saturday from 6-10p.m. Arm bands are $20 each. The exhibition and commercial booth buildings are also open through Saturday as part of this year’s Sevier County Fair and Rodeo. Times are 4-9 p.m. starting tomorrow and continuing through Saturday, Sept. 4.
The professional Dodge Rodeo is back for Friday, Sept. 3 and Saturday, Sept. 4 beginning at eight both evenings. The Sevier County Fair Premium Sale is set for tonight beginning at 7 p.m. Dinner will be served at six.
The fair parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday night beginning on Ninth Street in De Queen and heading towards the fairgrounds.
Wildlife fines money available for local youth outdoors programs      09/02/21
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Rural Services has more than $769,000 to give to Arkansas schools and educators for conservation education programs in the 2021-22 school year, thanks to fines derived from wildlife violations. Educators in every county are encouraged to apply for grants by the Oct. 26 application deadline to make use of these free dollars for education.
Fines from wildlife violations are not used for vehicles, salaries or other operations conducted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. In fact, it never really leaves the county where it was collected. Instead, those dollars are given to the AEDC, which fulfills grant requests for conservation education in that county.
Any school or conservation district in Arkansas may apply for these grants, regardless of size or population. According to the AGFC, nearly $13,000 in grant money is available in Sevier County; over $8,600 in Little River; and $7,300 in Howard County.
AGFC officials say the grants can really enhance learning opportunities for youth, especially in some of the rural areas of Arkansas, where education dollars are at a premium.
“Many special programs, such as Archery in the Schools, Project WILD, and Fishing in the Natural State, can be funded through these grants,” Kinion said. “But they can also be used to purchase equipment unique to conservation education and even help offset the costs of field trips to AGFC nature centers, education centers and other outdoors learning opportunities.”
More information on the program, a link to the application site and a county-by-county list of grant money is available at www.agfc.com/conservationgrants. Grant applications for Fiscal Year 2022 must be received by Oct. 26, 2021.
Wildlife fines money available for local youth outdoors programs      09/02/21
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Rural Services has more than $769,000 to give to Arkansas schools and educators for conservation education programs in the 2021-22 school year, thanks to fines derived from wildlife violations. Educators in every county are encouraged to apply for grants by the Oct. 26 application deadline to make use of these free dollars for education.
Fines from wildlife violations are not used for vehicles, salaries or other operations conducted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. In fact, it never really leaves the county where it was collected. Instead, those dollars are given to the AEDC, which fulfills grant requests for conservation education in that county.Any school or conservation district in Arkansas may apply for these grants, regardless of size or population. According to the AGFC, nearly $13,000 in grant money is available in Sevier County; over $8,600 in Little River; and $7,300 in Howard County.

AGFC officials say the grants can really enhance learning opportunities for youth, especially in some of the rural areas of Arkansas, where education dollars are at a premium.

“Many special programs, such as Archery in the Schools, Project WILD, and Fishing in the Natural State, can be funded through these grants,” Kinion said. “But they can also be used to purchase equipment unique to conservation education and even help offset the costs of field trips to AGFC nature centers, education centers and other outdoors learning opportunities.”

More information on the program, a link to the application site and a county-by-county list of grant money is available at www.agfc.com/conservationgrants. Grant applications for Fiscal Year 2022 must be received by Oct. 26, 2021.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis detected in horses in Pulaski County      09/02/21

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is notifying the public that positive cases of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) have been confirmed in Arkansas in horses at two separate locations in Pulaski County.

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is an extremely rare but serious and fatal infection that causes encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain. The disease is spread by biting insects, primarily mosquitoes and flies that have bitten birds infected with the EEE virus (EEEV). Insect control and vaccination are the recommended preventative measures.

EEE can infect a wide range of animals other than horses, including other mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. While humans can also contract the disease through biting insects, they cannot get the disease through direct contact with an infected animal.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) is urging owners to closely monitor their equine for early clinical signs, which include loss of appetite, decreased activity, and depression. Clinical signs can be subtle and progress to tremors, paralysis, altered mental state, and stumbling (ataxia). Some affected horses die within a few days. Surviving animals may have residual nerve deficits.

Owners should contact their regular veterinarian for more advice and to report any nervous system signs. Those without a regular veterinarian should call the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Division (ALPD) at 501-297-2250 if any horses show clinical signs.

A quarantine order has been issued for affected premises in Pulaski County. The ALPD is communicating with the primary parties and notifying other officials of active equine venues within the state.

Owa-Chito Festival returning in 2021 with some changes      09/02/21

BEAVERS BEND – Like so many other events over the last year and a half, the 2021annual Kiamichi Owa-Chito Festival will look different than in the past.

Because of factors organizers say are out of their control, all day events will be canceled this year. There will be a virtual PACE 5K Run and nightly concerts.  The Kiamichi Owa-Chito festival will begin Friday night, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Beavers Bend Amphitheater. Friday night will feature gospel singer Jordy Henson as well as various local entertainers. Saturday night’s musical will begin with entertainment provided by The Jerry Tim’s Band and Casey Donahew will headline.

The Beavers Bend State Park is under construction and parking passes will not be sold. Choctaw Casino Broken Bow and Idabel will be sponsoring all parking for this year’s festival. Parking is going to be on a first-come, first-serve basis this year. No reserved parking will be available. Park vans will be running to pick up festival goers from the parking areas and drop them off at the amphitheater.  Due to the rise locally of COVID-19, organizers recommend wearing a mask while riding vans to amphitheater. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Choctaw Casino’s, parking will be free. However, donations will be accepted by festival goers and business sponsorships are still needed.

Due to park construction and COVID, all day events will be postponed until Kiamichi Owa-Chito 2022. However, this year’s event is planning to take place and the event will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24 with Gospel Entertainment. Saturday night’s entertainment will take place at 6 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the Beavers Bend State Park Amphitheater. The event is free of charge and community members are encouraged to attend. While Owa-Chito is outdoors, organizers recommend that during the festival everyone practice COVID safety protocols in the building and practice social distancing while enjoying the festival.

Get out and enjoy the festival of the forest in the great outdoors of Beavers Bend State Park and this year’s Kiamichi Owa-Chito festival entertainment.  And don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs.

De Queen’s annual celebration of history back on for 2021      08/31/21
DE QUEEN – After a cancellation last year, De Queen’s annual celebration of local history is back on for 2021.
The annual Hurrah Festival, formerly known as Hoo-Rah Days, is scheduled for this October in De Queen for its 31st event. Hosted by the Sevier County Museum, the Hurrah Festival celebrates all things related to De Queen, its people and their history.
This year’s theme, announced museum officials, is “A Tribute to Sevier County Schools, Past & Present.”
In the past the Hurrah Festival has featured re-enactors, historical exhibits and presentations, food, games, workshops vendors and so much more.
The Sevier County Museum is currently accepting applications for vendors to set up at this year’s event, scheduled for Oct. 2 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sevier County Museum complex at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.
Booths are available on a first-come, first-serve basis by calling Museum Director Karen Mills at (870) 784-0039. Cost varies depending on type of vendor and if electricity is needed.
We’ll be bringing many more details about this always popular event as the Oct. 2 date nears.
Walk Across Arkansas registration open for fall       08/31/21
Get your team together, because registration is open now for the fall edition of Walk Across Arkansas.
The eight-week public health initiative is open to all who want to get into the habit of exercise or renew a commitment to fitness. There’s no cost to register athttps://walk.uada.edu/walk/.
The team-based event runs from Sept. 13-Nov. 7 and uses friendly competition among teams to motivate exercise.
The event isn’t limited to walking. Participants can do any exercise as long as it gets their heart rates up and encourages breaking a sweat.
There are some new aspects to Walk Across Arkansas this fall, including a change in team cap, a new scoring method, and an updated website. The team cap increased to 30 participants per team to better accommodate 4-H clubs and school groups.
The website also has a new, fresh look which makes navigating the website easier.
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.

Monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 treatments available locally       08/31/21
DE QUEEN – Multiple locations in Arkansas are receiving monoclonal antibodies treatment, which is available to anyone 12 years old and up who tests positive for COVID-19 and is at a high risk of severe illness.
The Arkansas Department of Health said the antibodies are available for non-hospitalized patients with mild to moderate symptoms and who possess a high risk factor. Those include being over the age of 65, having a Obesity BMI of over 25, being pregnant, having diabetes or any immunosuppression disorder, having a neurodevelopmental disorder such as cerebral palsy, or having any other medical condition or factor that could place a person at higher risk for severe COVID-19 complications.
Locally, monoclonal antibodies are available at the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy, the Little River Memorial Hospital in Ashdown and the Howard Memorial Hospital in Nashville.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic your immune system’s ability to fight off harmful viruses.
In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization to allow the use of monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients.
For additional information about COVID-19, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov//programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus

Horatio Schools reporting over a quarter of students out for isolation, quarantine      08/30/21
HORATIO – The Horatio School District is reporting that over a quarter of its students are currently isolating or in quarantine due to COVID-19 precautions.

In an announcement made on Sunday, the district reported 187 or its 741 students in Pre-K through 12th grade are currently in COVID-related isolation or quarantine. That equals 26 percent of the student body.
Superintendent Zane Vanderpool reported 11 positive cases among Horatio students with the remainder quarantining due to potential exposure to the virus. An additional 11 staff members are also quarantined as of Monday morning.
According to the Arkansas Dept. of Health and Dept. of Education guidelines, individuals exposed to a confirmed case of covid will not need to quarantine if the individual exposed has no symptoms and both the infected and exposed individual consistently and correctly were wearing a mask. In other words, school officials say if everyone wears a mask correctly, everyone could stay at school unless they are ill. This could help parents and guardians keep their regular work schedule as well.
Also, fully vaccinated students or staff do not need to quarantine if deemed close-contact, unless they have or develop symptoms of COVID.
Vanderpool said most of the recent COVID-19 cases among Horatio students are believed to have occurred away from school.
School administration still highly recommends that students and staff wear face coverings indoors and on school vehicles. Schools also continue to social distance where feasible and as often as possible. Students are encouraged to wash hands frequently and hand sanitizer is available in classes and other locations in the school. We clean and disinfect our schools daily.
Please remember to check your child’s health status each morning before school. If they have a fever or symptoms of COVID they should not come to school. Notify the school office if you keep your child home for these symptoms or if your child tests positive for COVID.
More information is available on the Horatio School District’s website at www.horatioschools.org
Texarkana Arkansas PD issues notice regarding hurricane evacuees      08/30/21
TEXARKANA – The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department is sharing some information with the local area and churches regarding evacuees from hurricane-threatened areas along the Gulf Coast.
The agency said its Patrol Division has seen a surge in hurricane evacuees from south Louisiana in the Texarkana area. They have spoken with some of these evacuees and have found they are having difficulty finding lodging due to the hurricane storm for the next few days. Some evacuees have said Texarkana was the first place they have found available hotel rooms.
The agency is asking everyone in the area to be mindful of the possible needs of these evacuees. The department is also asking local churches to be prepared, if not already, to house or partner with the community to tend to the needs of the situation if it arises.
​The police department said it will keep the community updated on any meaningful information about this situation.
​Finally, the agency said people should not hesitate to get in touch with law enforcement if they see a need for a police response about this matter.
Sevier County Fair kicks off this week, rodeo call-in tonight      08/30/21
DE QUEEN – It’s fair week in Sevier County.
The Sevier County Fair and Rodeo kicked off its 2021 event this past weekend and a ton of activities are scheduled throughout this week and into the weekend.
Livestock shows at the Sevier County Fair stared with the poultry and goldfish shows on Saturday. Those shows continue tomorrow with the breeding sheep, market lamb and swine show beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday night.
The exhibition and commercial booth buildings will be open again this year. Times are 4-9 p.m. starting tomorrow and continuing through Saturday, Sept. 4.The professional Dodge Rodeo is back for Friday, Sept. 3 and Saturday, Sept. 4 beginning at eight both evenings. Books open tonight from 5-10 p.m. Call (903) 846-2940. Mutton busting starts nightly at 7:30 p.m.

The Sevier County Fair Premium Sale is set for this Thursday beginning at 7 p.m. Dinner will be served at six. The fair parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday night beginning on Ninth Street in De Queen and heading towards the fairgrounds.

And also back this year after a cancellation last year is the carnival, with rides, games, food and tons more. The carnival will be open Sept. 2 through Sept. 4. starting at 6 p.m. each night.

Thanks to a local sponsorship, the Sevier County Fair Association has announced there will be no gate admission charge for anyone at this year’s fair. The only event cost is the Professional Dodge Rodeo at $5 per person aged five and up.

In related news, the Howard County Fair is just around the corner. Scheduled for Sept. 6-11, the Howard County Fair will include livestock exhibits, a carnival, parade, dog show, hay bale decorating, an exhibit building full of crafts, horticulture and photography and much more.

The Howard County Fair will begin Monday, Sept. 6 with a parade at 5 p.m. The livestock shows begin Tuesday and continue through Thursday, Sept. 9.

The premium sale is set for 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 10. The carnival will be held nightly Sept. 7 through Sept. 11.

For more information or a full list of events and times, contact Karter Castleberry at (870) 557-5775 or Mark Kitchens at (870) 451-2235. You can also pick up a fair tabloid at most businesses in Howard County.

Mineral Springs man dies after Aug. 24 accident in Garland County      08/30/21

PEARCY – The Arkansas State Police is reporting that a Mineral Springs man was killed in a two-vehicle accident last week.

According to authorities, 60-year-old Boyd B. Beaird of Mineral Springs was traveling east on U.S. Highway 70 West on Aug. 24 in his 2015 Buick Regal when another vehicle exited a private driveway and struck the rear of Beaird’s vehicle. The force of the impact caused his vehicle to cross the highway and strike adjacent to the opposite lane.

Beaird was taken to a hospital in Hot Springs but succumbed to his injuries on Aug. 27.

The accident occurred on Highway 70 near Pearcy in Garland County. Road and weather conditions at the time of the accident were listed as clear and dry by the investigating state trooper.

DMEC staff offer free screenings for child developmental disorders      08/30/21

DE QUEEN – Parents, you know watching your child grow is one of the joys of parenthood. But sometimes you may notice that your child can’t do the same things that other children his or her age do. Some children simply need help walking, talking, seeing, hearing or learning.

The Early Childhood staff from the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative is available to provide vision, hearing, developmental and speech/language screenings for preschoolers between the ages of three and five.

Screenings may be scheduled for children residing in De Queen schools by contacting Melissa Lovewell at (870) 784-5413 or Jennifer Bell at 784-5414 for an appointment.

Screenings may be scheduled for children residing in the Horatio School District by calling Melissa Lovewell at 784-5413 for an appointment.

The De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative staff stresses the importance of the early identification of vision, hearing and developmental problems and encourages parents who are concerned about their child to participate in the free screenings.

For more information contact the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative by calling (479) 385-4319 or call your local school district.

Ashdown FFA members perform well during LRCO Fair livestock shows      08/30/21

The Ashdown FFA & Ashdown Showteam competed at the Little River County Fair August 25-26 with the annual Premium Sale on Friday, August 27.
Shooter Johnson showed not just the Supreme Champion Heifer, but also the Grand Champion Market Steer and also received the Champion Junior Beef Showman award.

FOREMAN – The Ashdown FFA & Ashdown Showteam competed at the Little River County Fair August 25-26 with the annual Premium Sale on Friday, August 27.

Results of the premium sale went as follows:

Shooter Johnson showed not just the Supreme Champion Heifer, but also the Grand Champion Market Steer and also received the Champion Junior Beef Showman award.

Both the Grand Champion Market Goat and Reserve Grand Market Goat were showed by Caylee Turner. She also received the Champion Senior Goat Showman award.

The 3rd Overall Market Goat was shown by Kross Ratliff. He received the award for Champion Junior Goat Showman.

The Champion Intermediate Goat Showman award went to Kylee Crow.

Grand Champion Market Lamb was shown by Samantha Ratliff.

The 3rd Overall Market Lamb was shown by Lexi Neal

The 4th Overall Market Lamb by Wyatt Ratliff.

The Champion Senior Lamb Showman went to Samantha Ratliff.

The Reserve Champion AOB Mkt Hog was shown by Tucker Davis

The 6th Overall Market Hog was shown by Rylee Youngblood, the ninth by Will Neal and the 10th by Belle Davis.

The Reserve Champion Commercial Gilt was shown by Lexi Neal

And finally, the Champion Senior Hog Showman award went to Rylee Youngblood.

There were also many other class winners and high placings by Pace Cooper, Clay Brown, Bentley Brown & Danya Markham.

Ashdown Agriculture Teacher/FFA Sponsor Ron Bigham gave a big thank you to the Premium Sale Buyers for their Investment into the future of Ashdown as well as the Ashdown school administration for supporting youth showmanship events.

Nathan to host Benefit and Memorial Service for fallen Arkansas law enforcement officers      08/30/21

NATHAN – The Arkansas Families of Fallen Officers organization is inviting everyone in the area to attend a Benefit and Memorial Service to show respect for the men and women of Arkansas who dedicate their lives to serving and protecting the state of Arkansas.

The service will be held Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Nathan City Park and Fire Department. The event will include live music, a chicken dinner fundraiser, a raffle with over $2,000 in donated items, and much more. Everyone is invited to bring their lawn chairs and stay all day. Trade day vendors are asked to set up early. There is no cost for vendors to attend their event.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      08/30/21

DE QUEEN – Turning to COVID-19 news, active cases in the area saw a very slight decline over the past few days even as new cases continue to surge across the state.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting 141 active cases in Sevier County. That’s a net decrease of 10 since last Thursday. In total the department of health has recorded exactly 3,300 transmissions of COVID-19 among residents in Sevier County as of Monday morning. Deaths related to COVID-19 in our county did increase by one over the weekend for a total of 31 since the pandemic began.

Active cases remain in the three digits in Little River County as well, with 118 active cases currently reported. That’s a net decrease of two from Thursday. Total cases number 1,654. Little River has reported an additional death over the weekend for a total of 44.

In Howard County, active cases currently total 150 – an increase of 12 from Thursday. Total cumulative cases number 2,093 while deaths total 28.

Finally, Polk County is reporting the highest active case load in the four-county area with a current total of 162. That’s an increase of 18 from last Thursday. Three additional deaths due to the virus were recorded over the weekend for a total of 88 since the pandemic began.

Daily new case figures continue to remain high across the state. As of Sunday, the state was reporting over 24,000 active cases across the state. An additional 787 new cases were reported on Sunday. In all, there have been nearly 450,000 transmissions of the virus in Arkansas since the pandemic began. Deaths unfortunately saw another sizable increase yesterday, increasing by 25 across the state for a total of 6,879 since spring 2020. Finally, Hospitalizations saw a slight decrease yesterday of 15, leaving 1,257 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

More local schools reporting COVID-19 transmissions among students, staff      08/27/21
The number of Arkansas public school students and teachers testing positive for COVID-19 more than doubled during this second week of classes.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas schools ended last week reporting slightly more than 1,500 cases among students and staff. As of yesterday afternoon, that figure had risen to 3,102 across the state.
Several local schools were added this week to the list, which includes every district reporting five or more active cases. According to the report, De Queen is currently tracking 29 active cases for a total of 37 since the school year began last week.
Cossatot River School District is also included in the list with 14 currently identified positive cases. The district has reported 24 cases since the school year began. Mena is also currently reporting 14 cases while Horatio is reporting seven. The list also includes the Foreman School District with six cases.
Of the 24 colleges or universities and the 338 college students or staff included in Thursday’s report, none are in the local area.
The full report can be found at www.healthy.arkansas.gov
The De Queen School District is reminding parents of its students on quarantine procedures in the event their child catches COVID-19 or comes into close contact with another person who has.
The CDC defines a close contact as an individual confirmed to have been within six feet for at least 15 minutes within a 24-hour period during the infectious period of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Anyone falling under this definition is expected to quarantine immediately once they are notified of the exposure, except under a few conditions:
Both the positive case and the close contact were properly wearing masks; the close contact is fully vaccinated for COVID-19; or the close contact is within the 90-day immunity period post-COVID-19 diagnosis.
In an effort to protect our students and staff, the De Queen School District is reminding parents to notify the school if their student has come into contact with a known case of COVID-19 or has tested positive themselves. Please do not send them to school until you have notified the school and received instructions on when they can return. District officials say they will inform parents if their student was exposed during the school day.
Dierks Pre-School, Mineral Springs Elementary temporarily closed due to COVID cases     08/27/21
DIERKS – In an announcement made midday Thursday from Dierks Superintendent, Joday Cowart, he said that the Dierks Preschool will be closed until Monday Aug. 30.
Cowart issued a statement yesterday, saying “Due to active cases and quarantines among staff and students, the Dierks School District and the DeQueen Mena Educational Coop have communicated and agreed for all preschool activities on the Dierks campus to remain closed until Monday, August 30th.This joint decision was made out of concern for the health and well-being of both students and staff.”
In addition Mineral Springs has followed suit announcing today as a remote learning day. This due to an influx of potential close contact cases, the district announced yesterday.
At least eight students were quarantined Thursday from the elementary school. And only a day before that the notification was sent out regarding Mineral Springs Senior High Football team, along with five from the coaching staff ,having to quarantine due to potential exposure. Their game scheduled against England tonight has been cancelled with a make-up game pending scheduling.
Active cases, deaths due to COVID-19 increase across area, state      08/27/21
Turning to COVID-19 news, active cases in the area are still increasing as part of an ongoing surge of new cases across the state and nation.
As of Thursday, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting 151 active cases in Sevier County. That’s a net increase of 14 since Monday. In total the department of health has recorded 3,263 transmissions of COVID-19 among residents in Sevier County. Deaths related to COVID-19 in our county remain at 30.
Active cases remain in the three digits in Little River County as well, with 120 active cases currently reported. That’s an increase of nine from Monday. Total cases number 1,629. Little River has reported 43 deaths due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.In Howard County, active cases currently total 136 – an increase of 21 this week. Total cumulative cases number 2,052 while deaths increased by two this week to 30.

Finally, Polk County is reporting 144 active cases for a total of 2,466 transmissions since the pandemic began. Deaths from the virus increased by three this week to 85.

The rest of the state is continuing to see some of the highest daily new case figures since COVID-19 first hit Arkansas last year. As of Thursday, the state was reporting 23,575 active cases across the state. That was an increase of more than 2,300 from the day before. In all, there have been more than 443,000 transmissions of the virus in Arkansas. Deaths unfortunately saw another sizable increase yesterday, increasing by 32 across the state for a total of 6,804 since spring 2020. Hospitalizations did see a decrease yesterday of 43, leaving 1,325 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

UA Cossatot recognizes new class of Student Ambassadors     08/27/21

UA Cossatot’s Center for Student Success announced its 2021-2022 Student Ambassadors. Student Ambassadors include Layton Jackson, Dennis Guzman, Ana Ruvalcaba, Brenda Mera, Gisselle Gomez,
Julie Clift, Kimberly Delgado, Lizbeth Ozura, Lizbeth Hernandez, and Mackynze Dollarhide.

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot’s Center for Student Success announced its 2021-2022 Student Ambassadors.

Student Ambassadors include Layton Jackson, Dennis Guzman, Ana Ruvalcaba, Brenda Mera, Gisselle Gomez, Julie Clift, Kimberly Delgado, Lizbeth Ozura, Lizbeth Hernandez, and Mackynze Dollarhide.

UA Cossatot Student Ambassadors are chosen to be the face of UA Cossatot on campus and in the community. They are an active voice for the UA Cossatot student body. Through a joint effort with Student Services and other Student Ambassadors, they reach out to prospective students, sharing personal UA Cossatot experiences and successes.

UA Cossatot officials say Student Ambassadors are hard-working, honest, curious, adventurous, and have strong communication skills and high academic standards.

“Being a student ambassador not only teaches you the skills but also helps you broaden and fine-tune those you already have, said Center for Student Success and Enrichment Director Erika Buenrrostro.

For more information on UA Cossatot’s Student Ambassador program, contact Ambassador Sponsor Erika Buenrrostro at 870-584-1133 or ebuenrrostro@cccua.edu.

BLM hosting horse adop     08/27/21

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will hold a wild horse and burro adoption event in Hugo, Okla., this weekend at the Hugo Rodeo Arena. The two-day event, featuring 120 wild horses and burros, will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 27. Adoptions will be held from noon-6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27, and from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Aug. 28. Animals are eligible for adoption. Inquire with BLM staff onsite for more information.

As part of the agency’s efforts to find every horse and burro a good home, the BLM now offers up to $1,000 to adopt an untrained animal. This adoption incentive will be offered for every animal in Hugo.

The animals offered at the event are adult and yearling horses and burros that once roamed free on public lands in the West. The BLM periodically removes excess animals from the range in order to maintain healthy herds and to protect other rangeland resources. The adoption and sale program is essential for achieving these important management goals. Since 1973, the BLM has placed more than 240,000 of these animals in approved homes across the country.

BLM staff will approve applications onsite. To qualify to adopt, one must be at least 18 years old, with no record of animal abuse. Qualified homes must have a minimum of 400 square feet of corral space per animal, with access to food, water and shelter. A six-foot corral fence is required for adult horses; five feet for yearlings; and four-and-a-half feet for burros. All animals must be loaded in covered, stock-type trailers with swing gates and sturdy walls and floors. BLM staff will be on hand to assist with the short application process.

The Hugo Rodeo Arena is located at 415 E Rena, Hugo. For more information, call 866-468-7826 or visit www.blm.gov.

Arkansas ICU beds full, numerous calls to poison control center after Ivermectin use, says Gov. Hutchinson      08/26/21
Arkansas does not have any intensive care unit beds available for COVID-19 patients as a surge in virus cases continues to overwhelm the state’s health system, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday.

Hutchinson said Tuesday marked the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began that no ICU beds were available for COVID-19 patients. Virus patients make up about half of the state’s ICU beds. The number of virus patients in ICUs and on ventilators reached a new high in the state on Monday.

Hutchinson said hospitals in the state were working to open more ICU beds for virus patients. The state on Monday reported it had 22 ICU beds available, but only a handful were equipped to handle COVID-19 patients.
Arkansas ranks fifth in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with 40% of the state’s population fully vaccinated.
Dr. Jose Romero, the state’s health secretary, said the surge in cases is continuing to keep the state’s ICU capacity tight.

In a report issued earlier Tuesday, public health researchers forecast that the state’s death toll from COVID-19 will exceed 7,000 by Aug. 30. Arkansas on Monday reported 6,704 people have died from the virus since the pandemic began.
The researchers’ forecast also predicted the number of children hospitalized due to COVID-19 will increase by 20 percent through Aug. 30 and 34 percent through Sept. 14.
Gov. Hutchinson also addressed the use of Ivermectin, an anti-parasite used to treat infections caused by roundworms, threadworms and other parasites in animals and livestock, by those trying to treat COVID-19. He urged the public not to use this medication to treat COVID-19 in humans.

The governor says calls to Arkansas Poison Control Center have increased due to people taking Ivermectin.
According to Johnny Key, Arkansas Secretary of Education, no school districts have had to pivot to online learning yet due to COVID-19.
Key says COVID-19 vaccines will be offered at some high school football rivalry games in Arkansas this fall.
CACA King Art Show is Oct. 8-10      08/26/21
KING – There has been a slight date change for the Cossatot Arts and Crafts Association’s annual King Art Show, scheduled for this October. Organizers say the show will now be held Oct. 8-10 at the Cossatot Art Center located in the former King School House in the King community between De Queen and Gillham.
All area artists are invited to enter their two-dimensional art and photography in both youth and adult categories. Complete rules for the event can be found on the Cossatot Arts and Crafts Association’s Facebook page.
Art check in will be held Saturday, Sept. 25 from noon to 5 p.m. and again on Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the King Schoolhouse.
The annual art show, which draws in hundreds of youth and adult artists from across the region, was cancelled like so much else last year due to COVID-19. This year, however, the art show is back for its 49th show this year.
If you or your businesses would like to be a sponsor for this always-popular event, contact Nancy Youngblood at (479) 216.1537. Sponsorships can also be mailed care off Lucretia Walker, 1168 Hwy 41, De Queen, AR, 71832.
Horatio Booster Club hosting teams event Aug. 31      08/26/21
HORATIO – The Horatio Lions Athletic Booster Club will host a kick off event for the Horatio Lions teams next Tuesday, Aug. 31. The event will begin at 7 p.m. in Lion Stadium and admission is just $3. The event will include the junior and senior high school football teams, junior and senior high cheerleaders, the Lions Band, golf, cross country, pee wee football and mini cheerleader teams and squads.Sevier County Libraries remain limited to curbside-only service      08/26/21

DE QUEEN – Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases locally, all Sevier County Libraries remain limited to curbside service only at this. The board said in a statement it was an unfortunate but necessary decision made for the safety of employees and patrons amidst increasing COVID-19 cases locally.

Curbside service will be the same as previously, and most library services are available through the libraries’ drop box windows. All books, DVD’s and items will be cleaned before being checked out again.

The Library Board and Sevier County Librarians said they hope that everyone understands and will be patient with the library system during this time.

For more information call the library at (870) 584-4364.

Arkansas AG warns of fake COVID-19 vaccine card scam      08/26/21

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning Arkansans about fake COVID-19 vaccine cards as the state experiences another wave of positive COVID-19 cases.

According to a news release from the attorney general’s office, fake vaccine cards are being made to be provided to unvaccinated individuals.

Rutledge’s office provides tips from the Federal Trade Commission to help Arkansans be on the lookout for fake vaccine cards:

If someone gets a vaccine, they will receive a COVID-19 card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If they do not have a vaccine, they will not get an offical CDC COVID-19 vaccine card.

Be skeptical of anyone making contact claiming to be from the federal government. Right now, there are no official plans to create a national vaccine verification app or certificate or passport. The attorney general’s office says if someone gets a call, email, or text from someone saying they are from the federal government, and asks for personal information or money to get a national vaccine certificate or passport, it is a scam.

Check with airlines, cruise lines, and event venues about their requirements. Don’t rely on information from someone who calls, texts, or emails out of the blue.

Get information from well-known or government sources and websites that end in .gov. Resources include the CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health.

Rutledge’s office has created a page that links to state and federal government resource pages for COVID-19.

The office can be contacted with questions or concerns at (800) 482-8982,Consumer@ArkansasAG.gov, or ArkansasAG.gov.

Arkansas waterfowl hunters can get early start with upcoming teal and goose seasons      08/26/21

Hunters wanting an early taste of waterfowl action need to break out the shotguns and bug spray. Arkansas’s early Canada goose season kicks off Sept. 1, and the Sept. 15 teal season opener is just around the corner.

Steamy September weather may not seem conducive to waterfowl migrations, but blue-winged teal especially tend to jump the gun. They need that jump-start, too. These fast fliers may travel as far as 4,500 miles during their fall migration, and Arkansas isn’t even at the midpoint of their travels.

Hunters may bag up to six of any teal (blue-winged, green-winged or cinnamon) daily, with a possession limit of 18.

Hunters should be absolutely sure of their target before pulling the trigger on a teal. A few Northern shovelers and wood ducks also may be present in Arkansas during September, and they are off limits during the early season. Early teal season calls for a morning start at sunrise, rather than the half-hour before allowed during regular waterfowl season. All other federal regulations apply during the hunt, including the requirement for non-toxic shot and the restriction for shotguns to only hold three shells at a time.

Unlike the teal that migrate through the state early, most of the Canada geese being hunted in September are considered year-round residents. Recent research does indicate that the giant Canada goose subspecies that people see all year in The Natural State do occasionally pick up and fly northward for a time, but you do not see the same large fall migrations with many of these resident geese. The majority of migrating Canadas won’t be moving south until later.

Once thought to be extinct, the giant subspecies of Canada goose was reintroduced from remnant populations in the 1950s. It’s estimated that 1.5 million temperate-breeding Canada geese live throughout the Mississippi Flyway, but these geese can sometimes make a nuisance of themselves, particularly in places not open to hunting. Parks, golf courses and fields for sporting events full of lush green grass can attract the birds to areas where they can cause a mess or hinder events. To prevent the population from growing any larger, Arkansas and many other states open this early waterfowl hunting opportunity.

The daily limit for Canadas during the early season is five, with a possession limit of 15. The early season allows hunters to help control local populations without putting pressure on migrating birds, which will arrive later in the year.

The best early Canada goose hunting areas are typically along the Arkansas River and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes that have large resident populations. Knocking on a few farmer’s doors may also be worth a try if you see Canada geese using their fields.

Hunters after teal and Canada geese are required to have a valid Arkansas hunting license, state and federal duck stamps. They must also register with the Harvest Information Program at www.agfc.com/licenses or by calling 800-364-4263 (GAME).

Heat advisory continues today for listening area      08/24/21

DE QUEEN – Get ready for another hot one today with the listening area under a heat advisory through seven this evening.
Heat index values from 105 to 109 degrees are expected, said the National Weather Service in Shreveport.
Hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heat illnesses to occur.
The NWS advises the public to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.
Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.
Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible.
To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location
BLM to host horse, burro adoption clinic in Hugo this weekend      08/24/21

HUGO, Okla. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will hold a wild horse and burro adoption event in Hugo, Okla., this weekend at the Hugo Rodeo Arena. The two-day event, featuring 120 wild horses and burros, will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 27. Adoptions will be held from noon-6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27, and from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Aug. 28. Animals are eligible for adoption. Inquire with BLM staff onsite for more information.
As part of the agency’s efforts to find every horse and burro a good home, the BLM now offers up to $1,000 to adopt an untrained animal. This adoption incentive will be offered for every animal in Hugo.
The animals offered at the event are adult and yearling horses and burros that once roamed free on public lands in the West. The BLM periodically removes excess animals from the range in order to maintain healthy herds and to protect other rangeland resources. The adoption and sale program is essential for achieving these important management goals. Since 1973, the BLM has placed more than 240,000 of these animals in approved homes across the country.
BLM staff will approve applications onsite. To qualify to adopt, one must be at least 18 years old, with no record of animal abuse. Qualified homes must have a minimum of 400 square feet of corral space per animal, with access to food, water and shelter. A six-foot corral fence is required for adult horses; five feet for yearlings; and four-and-a-half feet for burros. All animals must be loaded in covered, stock-type trailers with swing gates and sturdy walls and floors. BLM staff will be on hand to assist with the short application process.
The Hugo Rodeo Arena is located at 415 E Rena, Hugo. For more information, call 866-468-7826 or visit www.blm.gov.
NPD seeking suspect in weekend shooting      08/24/21
NASHVILLE – Nashville Police Department is investigating a shooting that occurred on Saturday, August 21, 2021, at approximately 12:40pm at 518 West Henderson Street in Nashville.
The suspect, 20 year old Xavier White of Nashville, left the scene immediately after the shooting and has not been located.
The victim, 23 year old Terrell Grundy of Nashville, was transported to Howard Memorial Hospital by private vehicle. He was later flown out by helicopter.
If you know the whereabouts of Xavier White, contact Investigator Tim Bowlin at the Nashville Police Department at 870-845-3434.
SCSO releases July activity report      08/24/21
The Sevier County Sheriffs Office has released its update detailing activities for the month of July:
Deputies clocked a total of 2,165 hours on duty during the month.
Total miles driven by deputies was just over 19,000.
Deputies received a total of 145 calls, including 13 motor vehicle accidents, 104 traffic stops, 11 citations, 108 warnings and 20 arrests.
A total of 87 civil papers were served. 784 building checks were made throughout the month.
Investigators worked one case of breaking and entering as well as an investigation into a possible child abuse incident.
UA Cossatot releases Chancellor’s, Vice Chancellor’s lists      08/24/21
DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot’s Office of the Registrar recently released the summer 2021 Chancellor’s List and Vice Chancellor’s List and 2021 summer graduates. One student is named on the Chancellor’s list, maintaining a minimum of 4.0 semester GPA while taking a minimum of twelve college credit hours. She is Ariel Dinkins of Gillham.
Three students are named on the Vice Chancellor’s list, holding a minimum of a 3.5 semester GPA while taking a minimum of twelve college credit hours. They included Sofia Velaquez and Weston Harp of De Queen and Shalene Cardenas of Nashville.
Local students earning an Associate Degree or Technical Certificate over the summer included, from Amity, Hannah Coffman. From Ashdown, Makayla Dixon, Aubrey Lockeby, David Mitchell and Callie Redfearn.
From Cove, Sophie Jackson.From De Queen, Michael Barnard, Marlene Briones, Sha’uri Esquivel, Weston Harp, Erica Resendiz and Raven Revels.

From Dierks, Payton Bobo, Brayden Counts, Delaney Eckert and Brayden Kirby.

And finally, from Foreman, Aubree Gauldin.

Leopards Basketball Program hosting dinner fundraiser     08/24/21

DE QUEEN – The Leopards Boys Basketball Program will host a hamburger dinner fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 17. The event will be held at the Leopard Football Stadium and all Leopard fans are invited to come by for a dinner including burgers, chips, dessert and a drink for just $7. Pre-orders are available by getting with any De Queen basketball player or with Coach Lindly or Coach Bradshaw. Pre-order sale ends Sept. 13. Walk-in orders will be welcome as well.

The Sevier County Developmental Center will hold its regular monthly board meeting this Thursday, Aug. 26 starting at noon in the Sevier County Developmental Center Administration Building. The meeting is open to the public.

Polk Co. Master Gardeners hosting training this fall     08/24/21

MENA – The Polk County Master Gardeners will host a training program this fall to help local residents earn the title of Master Gardener themselves.

The seven-part training course is scheduled for Sept. 23 and 30 as well as Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28 and finally on Nov. 4. The courses will be held from 4:30-9 p.m. each of those evenings at the Polk County Extension Office on 211 De Queen Street in Mena. The deadline to register for this program is Friday, Aug. 27. Cost is $100 for the complete training course or $150 for couples sharing a book.

For more information contact the Polk County Extension Office at (479) 394-6018.

Sevier County Fair & Rodeo kicks off this weekend      08/23/21
The Sevier County Fair Association will kick off the 2021 Sevier County Fair and Rodeo beginning this weekend with a full schedule of events including livestock shows, rodeos and a carnival.

The fair kicks into gear this Saturday, Aug. 28 with the Rodeo Royalty Competition at 8 a.m. The beauty pageant begins later that morning at 10 a.m. This will include the Sevier County Fair Queen and Talent contests and will be held in the Educational building at the Sevier County Fair Grounds.
Livestock shows at the Sevier County Fair begin this Saturday as well with the poultry show and continue through Wednesday, Sept. 1 with rabbits, swine, sheep, lambs and goats, and cattle throughout the week.
The always popular exhibition and commercial booth buildings will be open again this year. Times are 4-9 p.m. starting Tuesday, Aug. 31 and continuing through Saturday, Sept. 4.
The professional Dodge Rodeo is back for Friday, Sept. 3 and Saturday, Sept. 4 beginning at eight both evenings.
And also back this year after a cancellation last year is the carnival, with rides, games, food and tons more. The carnival will be open Sept. 2 through Sept. 4. starting at 6 p.m. each night.
Thanks to a local sponsorship, the Sevier County Fair Association has announced there will be no gate admission charge for anyone at this year’s fair. The only event cost is the Professional Dodge Rodeo at $5 per person aged five and up.
COVID figures continue to increase in SWAR, across state     08/23/21
Turning to COVID-19 news, active cases in the area are continuing to increase and seeing some of their highest levels since the pandemic first entered Arkansas.
As of Sunday, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting 137 active cases in just Sevier County. The rise in cases recently means as of today nearly 3,200 Sevier County residents – or nearly one-in-six residents – have caught the virus since the spring of 2020. Deaths related to COVID-19 in Sevier County now total 30.
Active cases remain in the three digits in Little River County as well, with 111 active cases currently reported. Total cases number 1,572. Little River has reported 43 deaths due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
In Howard County, active cases currently total 115. Total cumulative cases number 1,991 and deaths 28.
Finally, Polk County is reporting 129 active cases for a total of 2,394 transmissions since the pandemic began. Deaths from the virus currently total 82.
The rest of the state is seeing similar, if not higher, increases in active case counts. As of Sunday, the state was reporting more than 25,000 active cases across the state. In all, there have been more than 435,000 transmissions of the virus in Arkansas. Deaths unfortunately saw a sizable increase yesterday, increasing by 29 across the state for a total of 6,674 since spring 2020. Hospitalizations saw only a slight increase yesterday of seven, leaving 1,369 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.
ADH tracking COVID figures in Arkansas schools; De Queen Schools reminds parents of quarantine requirements     08/23/21
Health officials and educators in Arkansas have been expressing tremendous concern at the current surge in COVID-19 cases with the start of school for most districts last week.
The Arkansas Department of Health is maintaining a list of educational institutions across the state and the effect COVID-19 is having on them. As of Aug. 19, the latest report available, more than 1,500 public school students in Arkansas currently have the virus. Concerning local school districts, twelve of those active cases are listed as students in Mena, 10 in Ashdown and an additional 10 in the Cossatot River School District. The list does not include school districts reporting less than five active cases. No local schools are reporting any changes to their learning plan due to COVID.
Colleges in Arkansas are reporting fewer cases with just 162 currently reported across the state. The nearest colleges reporting more than five cases, according to the Aug. 19 report, is Henderson State University with eight cases and SAU in Magnolia with seven.
The full report can be found at www.healthy.arkansas.gov
In a related story, the De Queen School District is reminding parents of its students on quarantine procedures in the event their child catches COVID-19 or comes into close contact with another person who has.
The CDC defines a close contact as an individual confirmed to have been within six feet for at least 15 minutes within a 24-hour period during the infectious period of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Anyone falling under this definition is expected to quarantine immediately once they are notified of the exposure, except under a few conditions:
Both the positive case and the close contact were properly wearing masks; the close contact is fully vaccinated for COVID-19; or the close contact is within the 90-day immunity period post-COVID-19 diagnosis.
In an effort to protect our students and staff, the De Queen School District is reminding parents to notify the school if their student has come into contact with a known case of COVID-19 or has tested positive themselves. Please do not send them to school until you have notified the school and received instructions on when they can return. District officials say they will inform parents if their student was exposed during the school day.
SNAP benefits to see 21 percent increase starting this fall     08/23/21The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, used to calculate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits or “SNAP”. As a result, the average SNAP benefit – excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief – will increase for Fiscal Year 2022 beginning on October 1, 2021.

A review of the Thrifty Food Plan took place earlier this year as directed by Congress and President Biden’s January 22nd Executive Order. This data showed the need for change within the program. In its re-evaluation, USDA was driven by data on four key factors: current food prices, what Americans typically eat, dietary guidance, and the nutrients in food items. As these factors were considered the plan was revised to include more items such as fish and red and orange vegetables so as to align with the current dietary recommendations. And updated pricing data gathered from stores helps to better reflect the current price of foods in today’s marketplace. Recent data also shows consistently that current benefit levels are too low to provide for a realistic, healthy diet, even with households contributing their own funds towards groceries.

9 out of 10 SNAP participants reported facing barriers to achieving a healthy diet, with the most common barrier being the cost of healthy foods. The reevaluation concluded that an increase in benefits by 21% was needed to help families bridge the gap to a healthy balanced diet. This equates to an increase of $36.24 per person, per month for the Fiscal Year of 2022 which will begin on October 1st of this year.

This change is the first of its kind since the program was introduced in 1975, reflecting shifts in the food marketplace and consumers’ circumstances over the past 45 years.

Keep safety in top thoughts as classes enter second week     08/23/21

As we enter the second week of classes for most school districts in Arkansas, State Rep. DeAnn Vaught and state law enforcement officials are stressing that everyone has a responsibility to ensure students arrive at and from school safely. This includes being mindful of student safety when approaching school buses.

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus whenever its red lights are flashing, as students are present. The fines, penalties, and punishment for anyone found guilty of illegally passing a stopped school bus were increased dramatically by Act 2128 of 2005, also known as Isaac’s Law.

The legislation was named in honor of Isaac Brian, an elementary school student in the Bryant School District who was struck and killed when a driver illegally passed his school bus while students were exiting the vehicle.

The law requires drivers to stop on two-lane and four-lane highways in both directions, even those with a middle lane. Drivers cannot attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus vehicle has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and is in motion again.

In the 2021 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed Act 264 to clarify the distance and areas where drivers must stop.

It states drivers must come to a complete stop no less than 30 feet from the bus when it stops to load or unload passengers. This 30 feet perimeter would apply to public roads, private or public property open to the general public, and any driveway or parking lot belonging to a public school.

It is estimated that close to 350,000 students ride a school bus. Buses make stops in every Arkansas community. Remember: Flashing Red means Kids Ahead.

The Program: Prison Detox, focusing on Sevier County drug rehab program, airs Aug. 25      08/20/21

The Discovery Channel’s docu-series, The Program: Prison Detox, will air with its first three episodes next week. Set to premier Aug. 25, the series explores the drug rehabilitation program pioneered by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office – a program that has had an amazing success rate of over 70 percent since its inception.

The Program: Prison Detox takes a first-hand look at how Sevier County is handling the worst drug epidemic in American history and turning the tables on the justice system.

The staff of the Sevier County jail piloted a revolutionary program to help its community, which has been devastated by drug addiction, by offering qualified inmates the unprecedented chance to walk free if they graduate from a three-month drug rehabilitation programme.
Produced by Big City TV, part of The Content Group, the first three episodes premiere on August 25 on Discovery+ and additional episodes arrive weekly after that.

The focus of the docus-eries is on the Sevier County Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program, also known as RSAT. RSAT is offered to certain non-violent drug offenders facing felony prison sentences. Officials with the Seveir County Sheriff’s Office say the program seeks to offer a path for recovery to drug offenders, thereby keeping them out of prison and offering them a chance to be productive citizens of their community.

The success of that program prompted the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office to partner with other groups, agencies and churches in the area to offer those substance abuse and counseling services to the broader community. The new program is called the Community Outreach Center.

The Outreach Center, like the RSAT program, is funded through a federal grant – no local tax dollars are funding the program. The $50,000 grant will pay for a year of the program with the option to renew this fall. The grant is paying for a part-time case manager/counselor to help volunteers navigate through the program, which will be offered at no cost. Programs offered through the center range from AA/NA classes and mental health counseling to substance abuse treatment, religious services and parental classes.
Organizers hope to add career development classes, GED courses and other programs designed to help those fighting addiction break that cycle and return to normal society.

For more information on the program, call 870-784-7969 or 870-582-539. The center’s office located at First Baptist Church of De Queen is also open 8 a.m. to 12 noon Monday through Friday as well as additional hours in the evening.

Cooperative Extension Service launches workforce training program, “CREATE LIFT”    08/20/21

The Cooperative Extension Service is launching a new workforce training initiative, known as “CREATE LIFT.”

CREATE LIFT is an acronym for “Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism and Entertainment by Leading Innovation through WorkForce Training.” The initiative is one of several strategies that a regional steering committee developed in 2021 in response to a comprehensive needs assessment. The findings of that assessment emphasized the need to develop workforce training based on skills and knowledge valued by both business owners and their employees.

The Division of Agriculture’s Community, Professional and Economic Development experts partnered with local leaders in the Ozark Foothills region and the 3C’s region comprising Little River, Sevier, and Howard Counties. The partnership is aiming to develop and implement strategies to strengthen retail, accommodations, tourism, and entertainment sectors as part of the “CREATE BRIDGES” pilot initiative.

Julianne Dunn, economic development instructor for the Division of Agriculture, said the strategies outlined in the 2021 report respond to needs that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic. But those needs have only intensified during the past year.

Findings from the needs assessment showed a need for both employees and business owners to gain capacity within three main areas: essential skills needed to be successful in the workplace; online marketing skills for small businesses; and developing management and leadership skills for employees to be able to grow professionally.

Suzanne Babb is one of the founding member of the 3C’s regional steering committee in Sevier, Little River, and Howard. She said the free self-paced online program offered through CREATE-Lift is a great resource to give any business or member of the workforce a leading edge.

The data collected in 2019-2020 led to the development of a number of strategies ranging from instructional video series and podcasts to holiday shopping guides and Spanish-language webinars for Spanish-speaking business owners.

For more information on those strategies and CREATE Bridges in general, visit www.uaex.edu/business-communities

Arkansas Hunting Guidebook available online; 2021 deer season kicks off with archer Sept. 25     08/20/21

The printed version of the 2021-22 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook is being produced and should be distributed in August throughout the state, but hunters can get familiar with this year’s season dates and regulations with a digital version, now available at www.agfc.com for download.

One thing most hunters familiar with the guidebook may notice is the notoriously short “New This Year” section that graces Page 4. This section usually has a dozen or so changes hunters should note with references to where they can be found later in the book. Thanks to a new two-year regulations cycle, only one note is mentioned in this section of the book, and it is not a regulation so much as a reference for hunters to know about an ongoing research project in the north portion of the state.

A project tracking mortality rates in white-tailed deer within Arkansas’s chronic wasting disease zone involves tagging and radio-collaring deer and following them throughout their lives to determine the impact the disease is having on the population. The easily visible collars and tags may cause hunters to question if the deer is legal to harvest.

Collared and tagged deer are legal to take, but the AGFC asks any hunter who shoots these deer to report the harvest to ensure accurate data collection on this important project.

The only other changes that may impact hunters are small adjustments of season dates to accommodate the change in calendar days from one year to the next.

The Statewide 2021 Deer Season Opening Days are Sept. 25 for archer; Oct. 16 for muzzleloader; and Nov. 13 for modern gun. Special Youth Modern Gun Hunts are scheduled for Nov. 6-7 and Jan. 1-2. Private Land Anterless-only Modern Gun Hunt is Dec. 29-31.
Visit www.agfc.com/guidebooks for downloadable versions of all AGFC hunting and fishing regulations guidebooks.

Former Dierks City employee charged     08/19/21

A former Dierks city employee has been charged with 12 felony counts following an investigation by the Arkansas State Police.  Howard County Jail records indicate that 59 year old Cheryl Delarosa was booked into jail Wednesday morning after turning herself in to authorities.  Delarosa is facing six felony counts each on charges of Theft of Property & Abuse of Office.  Both charges are a Class B felony.
Delarosa made a first court appearance in Howard County Circuit Court & was released on a fifty thousand dollar bond.
Her arrest comes as the Arkansas State Police & state auditors have been conducting an investigation into water & sewer funds within the city of Dierks.  State auditors recently determined that the city failed to submit information for an audit of the water & sewer system for the calendar years 2015-2019. Delarosa is scheduled to have a formal arraignment later this month.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over this Labor Day holiday    08/19/21

The Arkansas State Police are gearing up for summer’s final holiday. Labor day. As you look forward to plans of a final summer getaway, law enforcement officers are preparing to saturate the highways with additional patrols during the Labor Day holiday. The mission is to keep streets and highways safe by identifying and arresting drunk drivers.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over impaired driving awareness campaign begins Friday August 20th, and will remain active through September 6th. Arkansas State Troopers, sheriff’s deputies, and city police officers will be unified during the operation designed to arrest drunk drivers who threaten the safety of others traveling on Arkansas roads. The Arkansas Highway Safety Office would like to offer everyone the following tips:

  1. If you plan on drinking, plan not to drive
  2. Have a plan to get home before going out.
  3. Designate a sober driver or use public transportation
  4. If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1
  5. If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take their keys, and help them make other arrangements.
  6. Buckle up, always. Your seat belt is your best defense against a drunk driver.

Arkansas is high transmission Area for Covid    08/19/21

Every county in Arkansas is considered a high transmission area for COVID-19 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The community transmission map, which measures the level of COVID-19 spread in every county in the nation, represents the latest data provided to the CDC.

According to the latest data from August 10 through 16, all counties in Arkansas are considered high transmission.

Nearly 85% of the counties in the United States are listed as high transmission areas for the virus.

A county is labeled a high transmission area if the total of new cases per 100,000 people exceeds 100 or a positivity rate higher than 10%.

As the delta variant continues a surge in new hospitalizations and cases, the CDC is recommending that everyone, whether vaccinated or not, wear masks in public indoor settings in area that are experiencing high or substantial transmission.

Arkansas is one of 13 states with all of its counties listed as high transmission areas.

The state continues to see record-highs in COVID-19 hospitalizations and patients on ventilators as new cases continues to surge.

Since February, 92% of hospitalizations and 90.3% of deaths are people who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Locally, active cases rose to the three-digit range in Sevier County for the first time all year and to a level not seen since the summer of 2020. Currently, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting 133 active cases in Sevier County. In total, more than 3,100 residents of Sevier County have transmitted the virus since the pandemic began. Deaths also saw an increase of five since last week – the first increases reported by the Arkansas Department of Health all year.

The department of health is also reporting 100 active cases in both Little River and Howard Counties with a further 118 in Polk County.

Horatio School Board held regular monthly meeting on Monday        08/19/21
Horatio Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, August 16th in the elementary cafeteria.

The board approved the 2021-2022 District Support/Ready for Learning plan, policies licensed/classified personnel Covid emergency leave to expire June 30, 2022.

Board opened bids for high school greenhouse with Stuppy, Inc. being awarded bid.

Student transfers from Horatio to De Queen were granted and transfers were accepted from De Queen to Horatio.

Board approved moving 20% of funds to building fund per Act 1105, $4.00 for adult lunches, financial statements, and monthly bills.
Superintendent, Principal, Technology coordinator, and athletic director gave respective reports to board.

Minor child drowns at De Queen City Pool       08/18
A minor child drowned at De Queen City Pool on Friday, August 13th.  Chief of Police Scott Simmons submitted the follow news release to KDQN yesterday:
“On August 13, 2021 at approximately 3:12 pm, officers from the De Queen Police Department were dispatched to the City of De Queen Pool in reference to a possible drowning.  City officers along with De Queen Fire Department personnel arrived on the scene and observed CPR being performed on a minor child.  City officers and fire department personnel took over the CPR being performed on such child until paramedics arrived on scene.  The minor child was then transported to Howard Memorial Hospital in Nashville, Arkansas, where life-saving measures were performed, but ultimately, the child was pronounced deceased.  This incident remains under investigation.”
The name and sex of the minor child was not released.

Registration open for fall 2021 Arkansas Master Gardener Program       08/18/21 
Registration for fall 2021 Arkansas Master Gardener training, set to begin Sept. 22, remains open to applicants.
This year’s training will be conducted via Zoom and will include five day-long sessions on Sept. 22, Sept. 29, Oct. 6, Oct. 20, and Oct. 27. Training will be scheduled 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
The cost is $75 and includes 40 hours of training and the Master Gardener handbook.

Trainees will learn about basic botany, soils and fertilizer, pest control and pesticide use. In addition, there will be classes on landscape design, vegetable and fruit gardening, annuals and perennials and other topics of interest to homemakers. Each new Master Gardener is also paired with a mentor in their county.

Organizers say it’s the program’s mentors that set this volunteer program apart from others. They provide guidance to new gardeners and help answer questions.

Volunteerism is crucial to many Cooperative Extension Service programs, including Master Gardeners. Members complete 40 hours of volunteer service after their training. To maintain membership, they complete 20 education hours and 20 hours of community service each year.

Starting with just four counties and 40 members in 1988, the Arkansas Master Gardener program is now 3,200 volunteers strong in 67 counties.

For a program application, contact your county agent through your county Cooperative Extension Service office. A directory of county offices is available at  https://www.uaex.uada.edu/counties/. In Sevier County that number is (870) 584-3013 and in Little River County, (870) 898-7224 and in Howard County, (870) 845-7517.

For more information about the Master Gardener program in Arkansas, visitwww.uaex.uada.edu/master-gardeners. To learn more about other extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu.

Local seniors sought for 2021-22 calendar      08/18/21

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

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

Here’s how it works:

  • Log on to www.ArkLaTex60Strong.com and submit an application form, 200-400 word essay, head shot and full-length photo by Friday, September 10.
  • Those who nominate winning candidates receive a $50 gift certificate.  ArkLaTex 60 Strong candidates must be between the ages of 60 and 69 on September 1, 2021, and a resident of either Little River, Hempstead, Lafayette, Miller, Columbia, or Sevier county in Arkansas.  Other candidates will be selected from counties in Texas and Louisiana.

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

Winners must be available Wednesday, October 6, through Saturday, October 9, 2021.  For questions or more information email ArkaLaTex60Strong@LiveWellSCA.com.    All proceeds from the calendar will benefit Meals on wheels of America through Senior Citizens Services of Texarkana, Inc.m, Meals on Wheels Ministry, Inc. and David E. Boone, Sr. Ministries, which operates senior citizen centers in De Queen and other locations in Southwest Arkansas.

De Queen City Council will not meet tonight    08/17/21
We received word just after 10 o’clock this morning that the De Queen City Council meeting scheduled for tonight has been cancelled.
Arkansas Congressional Districts will soon  be redrawn      08/17/21
In her weekly update, State Representative DeAnn Vaught stated that the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee met on Monday, August 9th to begin the discussion on the redistricting process for Congressional districts in Arkansas.
Redistricting is the periodic redrawing of district boundaries that elected representatives who serve specific geographic areas.
The periodic updating of districts must be done because, in a series of 1960’s cases, the U.S. Supreme Court held that districts must be equal in population. This is known as the “one-person, one-vote” requirement.
Arkansas code establishes that Arkansas is divided into four congressional districts, and the responsibility for the delineation of congressional districts of the substantially equal population is given to the Arkansas General Assembly.
The Board of Apportionment is responsible for drawing the boundaries of state legislative districts. The Board of Apportionment is comprised of the Governor, the Attorney General, and Secretary of State. The Board of Apportionment is holding meetings across the state, and the list of these events is found at www.arkansasredistricting.org.
On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its numbers. It shows the population of Arkansas is now 3,011,524, an increase of 3.3% since 2010. Northwest Arkansas saw the most amount of growth in the past decade.
Receiving this data is the first step. A software vendor contracted by the General Assembly will now begin entering the data in a format to allow members to draft potential maps. We expect to return to the Regular Session soon after that process is complete.
The maps ultimately adopted by the General Assembly must be as nearly equal as possible and must not limit the right to vote of any racial minority.

All legislative meetings regarding redistricting are open to the public, and there is time set aside for public comment.

You can also watch the meetings live and recorded on our website www.arkansashouse.org.

Snake ID     08/17/21
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate between 7,000 and 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year. Thanks to modern medicine, only about five of those victims die from their snakebite. By comparison, an average of 41 people in the U.S. die annually from lightning strikes.
Odds aside, preventing injury from Arkansas’s venomous reptiles is as simple as learning to identify them and avoid them should you come across one in the wild. Only six of Arkansas’s native snake species are venomous, and each can be identified with a little practice.
Many people will point out that a nonvenomous snake will have round pupils where a venomous snake has elliptical pupils like a cat’s eyes, but that can be dangerous and misleading. Coral snakes are venomous and have round pupils, and if you’re close enough to tell the snake’s pupil shape, you’re probably not at a safe distance.”
Identifying a venomous snake by a triangular head also can be misleading, as the eastern hog-nosed snake and some nonvenomous water snakes can flatten their heads to look triangle-shaped as well.
“It’s easier and safer to just learn a few key identifiers that will help you judge if it’s a venomous snake or not,”
The eastern copperhead has one of the best camouflage patterns in the fall woods, with hourglass bars that alternate between dark and light coppery brown. The distinct hourglass may not be easily noticed unless you are looking at them from above. Instead, look for the “Hershey’s kiss” shape on the side of the snake that’s formed by half of that hourglass.
Northern cottonmouths are probably the hardest of Arknasas’s venomous snakes to identify because the juveniles are lighter colored and have distinct barring, while the adults will be very dark,” Monday said. “But the cottonmouth has a very fat, wide body compared to most snakes, and they have a dark stripe across their eye some refer to as sort of a mask of Zorro. Juvenile cottonmouths and copperheads also have a greenish yellow tip to their tails that they use as a lure to draw curious animals close enough for a bite.”

Rattlesnakes have their namesake noisemakers at the end of their tails, and if you need further confirmation of which species you’re looking at, timber rattlesnakes have an orange-brown stripe down their back and chevron-patterned bars, while the western diamond-backed rattlesnake has its diamond-patterned skin and a distinct white-and-black zebra stripe pattern at the tail just before the rattles begin.

The coral snake is the only venomous snake in Arkansas that falls outside of the pit viper family, and its contrasting bands of red, yellow and black are a dead giveaway that it may be dangerous. Some nonvenomous Arkansas snakes, such as the milk snake, have alternating red, yellow and black bands as well. Some people have come up with handy rhymes to tell the two apart, as the coral snake’s red bands are bordered by yellow bars, opposite the milk snake’s red-and-black pattern.

Visit www.herpsofarkansas.com for more detailed information on snake identification and snake species in The Natural State.

Ashdown Public Schools Welcomes New Staff     08/16/21
Ashdown Public Schools started off the new school year with a district-wide breakfast and staff meeting on Monday, August 9th. All staff were greeted with bags of goodies, information for the new year, and a delicious breakfast provided by Ashdown School Food Service.
 

New staff to Ashdown Public Schools (l-r) Front Row: Shelby Schlomer, Janet Phillips, Alexandra Strong, Brandi Wilson, Ann Bishop, Heather Avery, and Emily Brown
Middle Row/Seated: Felicia Cursh, Crystal Hicks, Hannah McElroy, and Kendra Powers
Back Row/Standing: Roy Backus, Chris Scarborough, Angel Olguin, Conan Martin, Brad Crayne, and Isaac Cross
As the meeting began, Ashdown Curriculum Director Teri Lynn Day reminded everyone of the district mission statement, which is, “We will be a school/district with an unrelenting focus on learning. All students are expected to succeed; failure is not an option.” The staff were also challenged to cover their ‘blind spots’ with a rowing quote. The quote is, “In rowing, each person on any new team you build should have their own unique role and skillsets. When you celebrate this diversity, team members feel a stronger sense of camaraderie.” When we go ‘“All In” together; we are better!’
 
For the 21-22 school year, the Ashdown School District will offer a retention incentive, for all contract staff members to completely fulfill their 21-22 contract. As part of this incentive, each contract employee will receive a $1,000 payment at the conclusion of the first nine (9) weeks of school, followed by a $500 payment at the conclusion of the second nine (9) weeks of school, and a final payment of $500 at the conclusion of the third nine (9) weeks of school. These funds will be accompanied by a binding document that will require any staff member that fails to complete their entire number of contracted days, must pay back the full $2,000 incentive. All staff meeting in the AHS Helen Parker Gym followed each part of the announcement with cheers and ended the meeting with the chant of “We are Ashdown!”
 
According to Ashdown Superintendent Casey Nichols, “Our goal in this effort is to ensure that we are able to retain great staff members for our students throughout the 21-22 school year, despite the difficulties that we anticipate regarding the current pandemic. All expenses incurred by this retention incentive will be paid with ESSER funds.” Mr. Nichols also added, “We love our staff, because they love our students!”
 
For the 21-22 school year, all certified staff were already receiving a $3250 pay raise over their 20-21 salaries.
 
Some new staff either returning to Ashdown Public Schools or beginning their first year in the district are:
 
Heather Avery. Miss Avery will be a 4th-grade math/science teacher at Ashdown Elementary (AE). She has her Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE) in K-6 Elementary Education from Henderson State University and taught previously at Hope Public Schools. Her brother Tim Avery, is the band director at Ashdown Junior High School.
She enjoys her dogs and spending time with family and friends. She believes that all students can learn and that her job is to make it as fun and enriching as possible.
 
Roy Backus returns to Ashdown Public Schools to coach junior girls volleyball and track and junior boys basketball. He has a BSE from SAU in Magnolia. He previously taught at Huttig, Mineral Springs, Horatio, and was previously at Ashdown for 13 years. He is married to Julie and they have four children, Brittany, Zach, Rylee, and Brody. He enjoys fishing and camping and believes students should “Put in the work. When you are not working, someone else is. When you meet them, they will beat you.”
 
Mrs. Ann Bishop will join the AE Staff as the K-2 Counselor. She has her BA from Baylor and MS from Texas A&M, Texarkana. She was previously at Texas High for 26 years and taught English, worked with the GT Program, and was also a debate coach and counselor. She is married to Thad Bishop and has two children Emily and Robert who are in New York and Fayetteville and two step-children Will and Audrey Kate who are students at Ashdown High School. Mrs. Bishop said, “I am so excited to join the Panther family this year! Everyone can benefit from counseling services, and I hope to serve our children, parents, and community to the best of my ability.”
 
Emily Brown will join the 4th-grade team at AE to teach math and science. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in K-6 Education from the University of Central Arkansas. She has previously been a patient service representative and a substitute teacher. She loves animals, video games, anime, mythology, reading, Netflix, movies, and musicals. She believes that everyone can learn, they might just learn differently.
 
Brad Crayne will be teaching Algebra I, Algebra II, and Algebra III at Ashdown High School. He has a BA in General Studies, Juris Doctor, and BS in Mathematics from Columbia College of Missouri; the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; and Texas A&M University-Texarkana. He has previously been an aircraft electrician in the United States Marine Corps, Judge Advocate in the United States Air Force and retired from Active Duty in 2018. He also served as a volunteer tutor in the Literacy Center of Bowie and Miller Counties. He is married to Juana and has three children, Jayce, Lakyn, and Conley. He enjoys bass fishing, carpentry/woodworking, mechanic work, history, foreign affairs/diplomacy, economics, government, law and all sports (particularly American football, track and field, cross-country, powerlifting, and swimming). Mr. Crayne said, “We have an awesome group of teachers and administrators here in Ashdown, and although we might reasonably expect to face some challenges this year. I have every confidence that we have the capability to run an effective and successful academic program this year.” His teaching philosophy is, “All people are intelligent and capable of learning, but being a student is a unique skill in and of itself that we can and should teach as we build student confidence by leading them through the academic curriculum. In the long run, the skill of being a student is an asset the student can carry forward and apply to virtually all areas of their life.”
 
Isaac Cross, an AHS Graduate is returning to teach World History and World Geography at his alma mater. He completed his BSE in Social Studies at Henderson State University. His dad is Bro. Jim Cross who pastors several Methodist Churches in the Ashdown area and mom is Mrs. Tami Cross a teacher at AE. His brother Eric coaches at Ashdown Public Schools and his brother Austin is a student at HSU. Mr. Cross loves to read, learn, and be involved in education. He said, “I hope to learn valuable lessons about my content education and Ashdown Schools this year. I am excited to get started!”
 
Mallory Elkins will be teaching English at AHS, she has her Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University-Texarkana and taught at Redwater for five years. She is married to Bryan Elkins and has three children, Harris, Lucy, and Claire. She loves being outside, reading and decorating. Mrs. Elkins said, “I hope to effectively reach all of my students academically, personally, and emotionally. I want to remain kind and professional towards all staff and students throughout the year.”
 
Hannah McElroy, another AHS Graduate will be teaching 3rd & 4th-grade special education at AE. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies EC-6, K-12 SPED from Texas A&M University-Texarkana. Her mom, Sandra is a Case Manager for SPED at Ashdown Public Schools, and her sister, Brittany is a 6th-grade resource teacher at AJHS, while her dad Rusty works at Domtar, and her brother in law is a physical therapist. She loves her dogs (Zoey & Tonto) riding horses, watching sports, attending church, and napping. She said her teaching philosophy is “That every child deserves all of your attention and support. This year might be tough, but I am so excited to get started teaching my kids!”
 
Conan Martin will be the 8th grade science teacher at AJHS, he has a BS in Biology from SAU and MBA-International Business from Northcentral University. He has taught at La Pryor ISD, Huckaby ISD, Meridian, Evant ISD and is retired from the U.S. Army. He is married to Stephanie and they have seven grown children. He is interested in the environment and agriculture. He hopes to enjoy teaching FINS to students.
 
Don Nesbitt will be returning to AHS as a Spanish teacher. He has his Bachelors’s Degree from the University of Arkansas and has previously taught at Ashdown, Arkadelphia, and Hope. He is married to Daphne and they have two children, Stephanie and James. He enjoys soccer and Razorback baseball. His favorite acronym is ‘Worth over Work’ (WOW)!
 
Angel Olguin will be the new art teacher at AJHS. He has his Associate of Arts Degree from Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas and his BSE in Art Education from HSU. He completed his student teaching at AE and AHS. His interests include printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, photography. He enjoys making and looking at various artworks. Mr. Olguin said, “I hope students can learn the experience of what art can bring. The most valuable lesson that an art student can learn is to pursue their own art, to defy and refine their ideas while developing their material skills and craft to be able to create them. As an educator, I plan to combine encouragement of exploration to be able to provide conceptual and technical tools they will need to produce, understand, and improve their work, and to develop a visual voice.”
 
Janet Phillips retired from Ashdown Public Schools but has come out of retirement to teach 6th grade English at AJHS. She completed her Master’s Degree at Texas A&M University. She taught 32 years at C.D. Franks and L.F. Henderson in Ashdown and taught 1st, 2nd, 4th, & 5th grades. She has one son and two grandsons. She enjoys history, reading, knitting, people and is a lifelong learner. She believes this year will be a great year and her teaching philosophy is, “To make it interesting and they will learn.”
 
Kendra Powers will join the AJHS staff to teach 7th-grade science. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Stephan F. Austin University and Masters of Science from Texas A&M University – Texarkana. She taught high school AP Biology for 15 years and was an assistant principal for PK-grade 8 for 14 years. She is married to Jason and they have a son Austin and daughter in law Lauren. She enjoys traveling and hopes to inspire students to enjoy learning and to reach their greatest potential.
 
Randall Shelly will be teaching Geometry at AHS, he has a Middle School STEM Education Degree from SAU. Mr. Shelly said, “I hope that for at least 8 hours a day, the students that struggle with things in life feel safe and have an amazing learning experience.”

Drivers asked to be vigilant, follow school bus laws as classes resume this week   08/16/21

School starts today for most schools in Arkansas, including Ashdown, De Queen, Dierks, Foreman and Horatio School Districts. Students in the Cossatot River School District begin tomorrow, Aug. 17. Either way, this week lots of kids will begin traveling to school by foot, bicycle and school bus. During any given day in the school year, there are 350,000 children riding a bus on Arkansas roadways, including around 3,000 just in Sevier County.

State officials and local and state are reminding drivers that Flashing Red means Kids Ahead.

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus whenever its red lights are flashing, as students are present. The law requires drivers to stop on 2 lane and 4 land highways in both directions, even those with a middle lane. Drivers cannot attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus vehicle has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and is in motion again.

But yet Arkansans violate this law routinely.  In fact, back in April, Arkansas school bus drivers reported 884 instances of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses in one day. Twelve of those instances occurred on the right side of the bus, where students enter and leave the bus.

The penalties and punishment for anyone found guilty of illegally passing a stopped school bus were increased dramatically by Act 2128 of 2005, also known as Isaac’s Law. The legislation was named in honor of Isaac Brian, an elementary school student in the Bryant School District who was struck and killed when a driver illegally passed his school bus while students were exiting the vehicle.  The legislature increased the fines in Isaac’s Law again this year with Act 166. Drivers can now face up to a $2,500 fine or up to 90 days in jail.

Everyone has a responsibility to ensure students arrive to and from school safely. Remember: Flashing Red. Kids Ahead. To learn more about the campaign, visit www.flashingredkidsahead.org.

Drop off guide for De Queen Elementary, Primary students   08/16/21

De Queen Primary and Elementary Schools are providing a reminder for dropping students off this school year.

Treating Plant Road and Coulter Drive, which border the De Queen School District’s various campuses, is always a crazy and congested place on the first day of school. Commuters are definitely advised to plan their route accordingly.

Parents dropping off primary school students are reminded students can only be dropped off and picked upon the south drive. If a family has both elementary and primary school students, use the north driveway. Primary students hould be dropped off and picked up under the awning. Then, follow the line around the flag pole to drop off and pick up elementary students.

Parents are asked to stay in line and not pass other cars in the elementary parking lot. School officials ask everyone to drive slowly and cautiously.

The De Queen Police Department is reminding citizens that cellphone usage in school zones is prohibited and officers will strictly enforce this law. School speed zones will also be in effect again and, like cellphones, will be strictly enforced.

State officials and local and state are reminding drivers that Flashing Red means Kids Ahead.

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus whenever its red lights are flashing, as students are present. The law requires drivers to stop on 2 lane and 4 land highways in both directions, even those with a middle lane. Drivers cannot attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus vehicle has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and is in motion again.

Violating this law can result in a fine up to $2,500 and 90 days in jail.

Lockesburg, Horatio Senior Citizen Centers open again     08/16/21

The Lockesburg and Horatio Senior Citizen Centers are open again after a temporary closure this month due to rising COVID-19 cases in the area.

The Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center is reopen today at its new building with hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Horatio Senior Citizens Center is also reopen today with hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors are reminded the centers are open with those hours each day between Monday and Thursday.

The De Queen Senior Citizens Center is open as well after a brief closure earlier this month.

All centers are continuing to provide meal deliveries to the homes of their clients. For more information call (870) 642-6046.

Howard County Extension Service organizing local Master Gardener Program; First class scheduled for tonight   08/16/21

The Howard County Extension office and Master Gardeners living in the area have recently organized a Howard County Master Gardener program.

This program has plans for a number of workshops and activities coming up. The first of which is free for the general public and is titled, “Seed Saving for Beginners.” The class will be held this evening from 5-7 p.m. and will include a presentation on general seed-saving as well as live demonstrations on specific techniques for saving seeds from some of the most common garden produce varieties.

Anyone interested in finding out more about Howard County’s new Master Gardener Program, learning how to save seeds or helping to establish a local seed bank is encouraged to attend this workshop.

For more information or to pre-register contact the Howard County Extension office at 870-845-7517

CACA King Art Show set for Oct. 1-3; Entry deadline is September      08/16/21

The Cossatot Arts and Crafts Association’s art show in King is back on for 2021 and entries will be accepted starting next month.

The annual art show, which draws in hundreds of youth and adult artists from across the region, was cancelled like so much else last year due to COVID-19. This year, however, the art show is back for its 49th show and with a humorous subtitle: “Better Late Than Never.”

As in previous, non-COVID years, the art show will take place at the King School just south of Gillham in the King Community. The event is scheduled to take place Oct. 1-3 and all area artists are invited to enter their two-dimensional art and photography in both youth and adult categories. Complete rules for the event can be found on the Cossatot Arts and Crafts Association’s Facebook page.

Art check in will be held Saturday, Sept. 25 from noon to 5 p.m. and again on Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the King Schoolhouse.

All area artists, photographers and art fans are invited to come join in the fun. The show will also include an art sale. The whole family is invited to attend the event, which is scheduled to feature food vendors, the artist attic which includes discounted art at $50 or less, outside craft booths, caricature drawings, live music and live demonstrations.

If you or your businesses would like to be a sponsor for this always-popular event, contact Nancy Youngblood at (479) 216.1537.

SCSO, State Police investigating the death of former state trooper in Lockesburg Thursday night   08/13/2021

LOCKESBURG – The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas State Police are investigating the death of a former Arkansas State Trooper and Sevier County investigator in Lockesburg Thursday night.

According to a preliminary report released by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched to Silver Ridge Road in Lockesburg around 9:30 Thursday evening after receiving a report from a woman who said she accidentally shot her friend. The caller was identified as 31-year-old Kayle Helms.

When deputies arrived on the scene they identified the shooting victim as 50-year-old Chris Brackett. Authorities reported he had a gunshot wound to his head and was kneeling on the ground with his head resting on the passenger seat of vehicle. According to the report, deputies saw Helms holding Brackett’s head when they arrived.

Sevier County deputies and troopers with the Arkansas State Police secured the scene with assistance from first responders and Southwest EMS. The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division was then contacted to assist in the investigation as well as to process the scene.

The investigation remains ongoing and pending results from the Arkansas State Crime Lab a file will be presented to the prosecuting attorney for review.

No other details were available.

Brackett is a former Arkansas State Police trooper and a former investigator with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office.

De Queen School District will over staff COVID sick leave, incentive for vaccines   08/13/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School District will start the new school year with a couple of programs to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations among its employees while also offering additional sick leave if they catch the virus.
During its meeting earlier this week, the De Queen School Board approved an additional 10 days of paid sick leave if a district employee contracts the virus, displays symptoms related to COVID-19 or is forced to quarantine after exposure to a confirmed case. The goal, said De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders, is to provide teachers with some peace of mind.
The district is also encouraging teachers and staff receive the COVID-19 vaccine through a new incentive program. Employees who voluntarily provide proof they received the vaccine will receive a one-time $200 bonus. The deadline for this incentive is Sept. 4. And while the district is encouraging everyone who can receive the vaccine, Sanders stressed the district will not make it a requirement for any employees or students.
Educators across the nation seem to be collectively holding their breaths in anticipation of what the 2021-2022 school year will bring in the midst of the ongoing pandemic – and a variant of the virus which appears to target younger people. The Arkansas Department of Health provided figures this week showing 19 percent of new cases were among Arkansans aged 18 and under. That’s an increase from 12 percent recorded a year ago.
Every school year brings challenges and Sanders said ultimately this year is the same: providing a quality education while also keeping students and staff safe.
De Queen students return to class on Monday.

Lockesburg, Horatio senior citizen centers reopen Monday  08/13/2021
LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg and Horatio Senior Citizen Centers are open again after a temporary closure this month due to rising COVID-19 cases in the area.

The Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center is reopen today at its new building with hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Horatio Senior Citizens Center is also reopen today with hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors are reminded the centers are open with those hours each day between Monday and Thursday.

The De Queen Senior Citizens Center is open as well after a brief closure earlier this month.
All centers are continuing to provide meal deliveries to the homes of their clients. For more information call (870) 642-6046.

Horatio Hometown Connections to present Back-to-School bash tomorrow   08/13/2021
HORATIO – Horatio Hometown Connections will host a Back-to-School bash this weekend just in time for the start of school next week.

The event will be held at the Horatio City Park with a number of activities for local kids to mark the end of summer and the start of the new school year. The Back-to-School Bash will include a boat race, water kickball tournament, cornhole tournament and a horseshoe tournament. The event will also feature prizes, inflatables, a concession stand and local vendors. A smoked chicken lunch plate fundraiser will also be held.

The Back-to-School Bash is scheduled for Aug. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Horatio City Park.

Car show benefit for Courtney Angel in Lockesburg this Saturday   08/13/2021

LOCKESBURG – A benefit car show has been scheduled to support a Lockesburg woman as she battles against a 2020 cancer diagnosis.

The benefit car show will be held this Saturday, Aug. 14 in support of Courtney Angel of Lockesburg. Organizers say Angel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 and after five months of chemotheraphy she recently had what is hopefully her last surgery. Angel is a mother of five.

The car show benefit will be held to help raise funds in support of Angel’s treatment. Registration will be held the day of the show, Aug. 14, from eight to 10 that morning. An opening ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance. Judging starts at 10:30 a.m. An awards ceremony will be held after as well as a 50/50 raffle.

Entry fee is $20 for a participant’s first vehicle and $15 for each addition entry. Awards will be given to the following categories: Top 30’s Car or Truck, Best of Show Truck, Best of Show Car, Courtney’s Choise, Clunker (which must arrive under its own power), Junker (which must be trailered, pushed or pulled) and Project (not finished but on its way) and, finally, Rat Rod.

Food, drinks and snow cones will also be available during the car show.

Cossatot River School District holding Meet & Greet Saturday night   08/13/2021

WICKES – The Cossatot River School District is giving everyone a chance to learn about the district and new Superintendent Tyler Broyles with a big opening house event this weekend.

The Back-to-School Meet & Greet is scheduled for this Saturday, Aug. 14 from 6 – 8 p.m. that evening. The district invites new and old students as well as members of the community to free food, giveaways and activities including water slides and kids games. The Brew Crew from Your Number One Country 92.1FM will be live on site with music and the Treasure Chest filled with cash and prizes.

Everyone from the public is invited to attend.

The Cossatot School District reminds its students and parents the start of school is Tuesday, Aug. 17. Thanks to a federal waiver impacting all school districts in the country, students at Cossatot River School District will receive school breakfasts and lunches at no cost. It is not necessary to complete a meal application for these meals, due to the USDA waiver. These benefits however do not include a la carte items sold in the cafeteria. All adults such as visitors, teachers and support staff are able to purchase breakfast for $2.25 and lunch for $4.

Sevier County Extension launching survey into programs offered through jail   08/13/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Extension Service has launched a new survey to gauge the local public’s awareness of programming and rehabilitation services offered at the Sevier County Jail. J

ail programming consists of substance abuse education and support groups, career development, faith-based services, anger management courses, etc. The survey was put together by Southern Arkansas University and the University of Arkansas Extension. The survey is available here: tinyurl.com/5dfd82vz

For more information and to receive updates about Sevier County Jail Programming, visit the Sevier County Detention Center Programs and Services RSAT pages on Facebook.

Brother’s Keepers hosting Shop with a Biker fundraiser, 5th Rumble in the Park   08/13/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen-based Chapter 34 of the Brother’s Keepers Motorcycle Club is currently selling tickets for chances to win several prizes while also helping the organization raise funds for its annual Shop with a Biker program.

Chances are $50 each and include an opportunity to win one of three prizes: a S&W AR-15 Sport, an Escort Bullpup 12-gauge shotgun or a Cordova 45qt ice chest. The drawing will be held during the Brother’s Keepers Fifth Annual Rumble in the Park fundraiser Saturday, Aug. 21. All proceeds will go towards the group’s Shop with a Biker program, which provides Christmas gifts to local children in-need.

For more information and to purchase tickets, contact Club President Jerry Ligon at (870) 784-6283, Vice-President Tim Litchford at 584-8835 or get with any other Brother’s Keepers member.

The Rumble in the Park fundraiser will be held Aug. 21 with a live auction and a dice roll bike ride. Registration is from eight to nine that morning and the cost is $20 per person. If you don’t ride a motorcycle no problem – automobiles are welcome too. The event will be held at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.

Sevier County Fair and Rodeo begins Aug. 28   08/12/2021
DE QUEEN – Later this month the Sevier County Fair Association will kick off the 2021 Sevier County Fair and Rodeo. And, after a limited event last year due to COVID-19 precautions, organizers say this year should look a lot more normal.
The fair kicks into gear on Saturday, Aug. 28 with the Rodeo Royalty Competition at 8 a.m. The beauty pageant begins later that morning at 10 a.m. This will include the Sevier County Fair Queen and Talent contests and will be held in the Educational building at the Sevier County Fair Grounds. State fair rules will be followed and top contestants will go on to the state competition at the Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock this October. The Sevier County Little Miss winner will represent the county at the district competition in Hope next month.

An organizer will be at the fairgrounds this Saturday, Aug. 14 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to collect applications for the Rodeo Royal competitions. The deadline to enter is this Sunday. Entry fee is $40 as well as $5 more for additional optional categories.

Age categories range from 0-12 months in the Little Miss and Little Mr. Tiny Baby categories to the Fair Queen contest for women aged 18-23.

For more information on the Rodeo Royalty contests, contact Stephanie Haarmeyer at (870) 784-0133.

Livestock shows and other events

Livestock shows at the Sevier County Fair begin Aug. 28 with the poultry show and continue through Wednesday, Sept. 1 with rabbits, swine, sheep, lambs and goats, and cattle throughout the week. All county-bred commercial heifers must be brought to the Sevier County Fairgrounds this Saturday, Aug. 14 for pre-registration. All other livestock can be registered online at https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fsites.google.com%2Fview%2Fseviercountyfairandrodeo%2Fhome%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR2v7vHxOKm8U5KJ1O3Ht2Km67_WAHh21kV-jHGSZah2XTFfMO4BPSP0Up0&h=AT3e0j0ojyDUqoqD9C1euK5riXLYL8K2oBOVDp-v7c7t2CO3E18_EYsr2oGCIv-RmVxvX42ms76Q_JwncBS9Ohq2d6iGvPOBViyYP4bLOwQb48MvtmRsbMtjOyiiieQXMSuh2Q

We’ll provide a full schedule of events for this year’s livestock shows and other fair events as the fair nears.

The always popular exhibition and commercial booth buildings will be open again this year. Times are 4-9 p.m. starting Tuesday, Aug. 31 and continuing through Saturday, Sept. 4.

The professional Dodge Rodeo is back for Friday, Sept. 3 and Saturday, Sept. 4 beginning at eight both evenings.

And also back this year after a cancellation last year is the carnival, with rides, games, food and tons more. The carnival will be open Sept. 2 through Sept. 4. starting at 6 p.m. each night.

Thanks to a local sponsorship, the Sevier County Fair Association has announced there will be no gate admission charge for anyone at this year’s fair. The only event cost is the Professional Dodge Rodeo at $5 per person aged five and up.

The fair is also under some new leadership this year with a new board of directors for 2021. They include Fair President Richard VanVoast, Vice-President Monte Davis, Secretary Donna Rivas and Fair Manager Linda Frachiseur.

Former Leopards Head Football Coach Wayne Freppon named to SAU Sports Hall of Fame   08/12/2021

Wayne Freppon, a former De Queen educator and Leopards head football coach, has been named to the SAU Sports Hall of Fame. An induction ceremony will be held Oct. 8.

MAGNOLIA – The Southern Arkansas University Department of Athletics has announced that it will add eight new individual members to its Sports Hall of Fame, including a former De Queen educator and Leopards head football coach.

The fact that he did not receive a scholarship to compete collegiately certainly did not deter the late multi-sport Mulerider great Wayne Freppon. The Bald Knob product walked on to legendary head coach Auburn Smith’s Mulerider Football team in 1958 where he would earn a scholarship and proceed to become a two-time All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference selection as a defensive back in 1959 and 1961.

As was often the case in that departed gridiron era of grit and toughness, Freppon played on both sides of the football as he served as a fullback for Smith’s offensive attack. Freppon teamed up with the likes of fellow SAU Sports Hall of Famers David Alpe, Jerry Camp, Danny Greenfield, Don Henson, Dr. Larry McNeal, Calvin Neal, James Pettitt, Ken Schmidt, and James “Sonny” Whittington.

But his exploits on the gridiron, which saw Freppon along with his brother Jerry help Smith’s program capture 19 wins, were just the beginning for the athletic Arkansan. He played baseball in 1961 and 1962, was a member of the 1960-61 and 1961-62 Mulerider Basketball teams, and also competed in track & field during his time at Southern State College.

Following his graduation from SSC in which he earned a physical education degree, Freppon moved into coaching. He spent forty years as an educator, coach and administrator serving the school districts of Smackover, De Queen, Katy, Texas, Dierks, Fordyce and Hope before his retirement in 2002.

At Smackover, he served as an assistant football coach and the head basketball coach for the Buckaroos for six years, before taking over as head football coach at De Queen where he would twice coach in the AAA East-West All-Star Game, while also earning Class 7A Coach of the Year honors.

Once retired from coaching, Freppon’s administrative career began and after 14 years at De Queen he moved to the Lone Star State where he briefly served Katy ISD’s Taylor High School, before moving back to Arkansas to finish up an exceptional career at Dierks, Fordyce and Hope High Schools.

The newest class will be formally inducted during a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Friday, October 8 in the Grand Hall of the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center. The class will also be publicly introduced at halftime of the October 9 Homecoming game against Southeastern Oklahoma State.

Keep child safety in mind as local schools reopen Aug. 16-17    08/12/2021

DE QUEEN – School starts today for most schools in Arkansas, including Ashdown, De Queen, Dierks, Foreman and Horatio School Districts. Students in the Cossatot River School District begin tomorrow, Aug. 17. Either way, this week lots of kids will begin traveling to school by foot, bicycle and school bus. During any given day in the school year, there are 350,000 children riding a bus on Arkansas roadways, including around 2,000 just in Sevier County.

State officials and local and state are reminding drivers that Flashing Red means Kids Ahead.

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus whenever its red lights are flashing, as students are present. The law requires drivers to stop on two-lane and four-lane highways in both directions, even those with a middle lane. Drivers cannot attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus vehicle has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and is in motion again.

But yet Arkansans violate this law routinely.  In fact, back in April, Arkansas school bus drivers reported 884 instances of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses in one day. Twelve of those instances occurred on the right side of the bus, where students enter and leave the bus.

The penalties and punishment for anyone found guilty of illegally passing a stopped school bus were increased dramatically by Act 2128 of 2005, also known as Isaac’s Law. The legislation was named in honor of Isaac Brian, an elementary school student in the Bryant School District who was struck and killed when a driver illegally passed his school bus while students were exiting the vehicle.  The legislature increased the fines in Isaac’s Law again in 2019 with Act 166. Drivers can now face up to a $2,500 fine or up to 90 days in jail.

Everyone has a responsibility to ensure students arrive to and from school safely. Remember: Flashing Red. Kids Ahead. To learn more about the campaign, visit www.flashingredkidsahead.org.

Heat advisory again today in Southwest Arkansas, Southeast Oklahoma   08/11/2021
Keep those heat advisories coming because the sweltering heat isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

A heat advisory is back on today until seven this evening with forecasters expecting a heat index as high as 105. A couple of more heat advisories are likely this week before a possible slight drop in temperatures over the weekend and into next week.

It can’t be said enough that hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heath illnesses to occur. If working outside, drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks in cool areas. Check on elderly neighbors and always check your backseat to make sure no kids or pets are left behind.

Little River County Fair kicks off next week   08/11/2021

The Little River County Fair kicks off next week with a full schedule of events and activities.

The main events begin next Thursday, Aug. 19 with the annual fair & rodeo parade at 6:30 p.m. Participants are asked to line-up at the Little River County Clinic, formerly Regions bank. The parade will be followed by a youth rodeo at the Little River County Fairgrounds beginning at 7:30 that evening. Contact John Wade for call-in at (870) 826-0400.

Friday, Aug. 20 will see the Tiny Tot contest at 7:30 p.m. and a rodeo by the Wing Rodeo Company at eight. The rodeo will include a calf scramble and money drop as well as a winners circle with contestants from the Little Britches and Mutton Bustin contests held Thursday night.

The rodeo continues again at eight Saturday night.

Livestock shows will kick off with the poultry show on Monday, Aug. 23. That show will be followed by rabbits, swine, cattle, goat and sheep throughout the week.

The county exhibition building will be open Wednesday, Aug. 25 through Friday, Aug. 27 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

The always-popular Premium Sale will be held at 12 noon on Friday, Aug. 27. The Premium Sale Lunch will be held shortly before at 11:30.

The officers for this year’s Little River County Fair include President Glenn Ridge, Vice President Michael Johnson, Secretary/Treasurer Theresa Woods and Fair Manager Lacie Beason.

State to launch new initiatives aimed at promoting vaccines among younger Arkansans   08/11/2021

State officials announced two new initiatives Tuesday afternoon in hopes of seeing COVID-19 vaccination rates improve among younger Arkansans.

The first will increase reimbursement rates for physicians when they administer a vaccine to a Medicaid recipient. The rate will be increased from the current rate of $40 to $100 for a two-dose complete vaccination or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the goal behind the rate increase is to increase vaccination rates by encouraging physicians to counsel Medicaid recipients towards getting the vaccine. In total, Hutchinson said only four percent of Arkansas’ Medicaid population has received the vaccine.

Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key then spoke about a new campaign to be launched in Arkansas schools called “Stop the Hesitation, Get the Vaccination.” The campaign will seek to encourage parents to speak with their children’s healthcare providers to learn more about the vaccine and the benefits of taking it.

In all more than 1.1 million Arkansans are now fully immunized. Data from the Arkansas Department of Health shows 92 percent of the new cases detected over the past two weeks are among non-vaccinated people.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported another sizable increase in new cases Tuesday, with an additional 2,620 reported over the previous 24 hour period. In total, there have been nearly 408,000 transmissions in the state since the pandemic began. The delta variant of the virus continues to target younger Arkansans, with 19 percent of new cases among those 18 and under. That’s an increase from 12 percent one year ago.

Active cases saw a net increase of 562 on Tuesday for a current total of 23,377 – one of the highest active caseloads seen so far. Over the same period deaths increased by 24 for a total of 6,346. Hospitalizations saw another rise into record territory with 1,435 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Oak Hill Fire Department continues low-cost spay/neuter clinic today, tomorrow   08/11/2021

The Oak Hill Fire Department is continuing to host a low cost spay and neuter clinic today and tomorrow at its fire station on 1165 Highway 108W. Cost for dogs ranges from $70-90 depending on weight. Cost to spay or neuter a cat is $45. A rabies vaccine is included in the cost of the surgery. Other vaccines will be available as well as heartworm testing. Nail trims and microchipping are available by the sponsoring rescue agency. Call (903) 280-2341 to make your reservation.

UAEX launches new workforce development program, CREATE LIFT   08/11/2021

The Cooperative Extension Service is launching a new workforce training initiative, known as “CREATE LIFT.”

The program is facilitated by the Department of Community, Professional and Economic Development, which is part of extension and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

CREATE LIFT is an acronym for “Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism and Entertainment by Leading Innovation through workForce Training.” The initiative is one of several strategies that a regional steering committee developed in 2021 in response to a comprehensive needs assessment conducted in 2019 and 2020. The findings of that assessment emphasized the need to develop workforce training based on skills and knowledge valued by business owners and employees.

The Division of Agriculture’s Community, Professional and Economic Development experts partnered with local leaders in the Ozark Foothills region (Sharp, Fulton, and Izard counties) and the 3C’s region (Little River, Sevier, and Howard counties) to develop and implement strategies to strengthen retail, accommodations, tourism, and entertainment sectors as part of the “CREATE BRIDGES” pilot initiative.

Julianne Dunn, economic development instructor for the Division of Agriculture, said the strategies outlined in the 2021 report respond to needs that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic but have intensified during the past year.

Findings from the needs assessment illustrated a need for both employees and business owners to gain capacity within three main areas: essential skills needed to be successful in the workplace, online marketing skills for small businesses and developing management and leadership skills for employees to be able to grow professionally.

Suzanne Babb is one of the founding member of the 3C’s regional steering committee in Sevier, Little River, and Howard. She said the free self-paced online program offered through CREATE-Lift is a great resource to give any business or member of the workforce a leading edge.

The data collected in 2019-2020 also led to the development of the following strategies: COVID-19 safety and reopening signage; an online video series outlining how business owners can create and manage profiles on Google My Business, Facebook Business, Trip Advisor, and Yelp; a webinar series with national partner Retail Minded on how to navigate the holiday season during a pandemic; the launch of a podcast “Small Business, Big Rural Impact” to highlight the resiliency of regional businesses, cities and support agencies; the creation and distribution of a “Capturing Local Dollars” guide for holiday shopping; hosting a webinar with Arkansas.com to encourage more businesses to set up a profile on the state tourism website; a consumer survey to understand what values and services consumers prefer from retailers; and hosting business development events in Spanish for Spanish-speaking business owners and employees.

October Cruise Over set for Oct. 9 in Lockesburg   08/11/2021

The third annual October Cruise Over has been scheduled for this fall in Lockesburg. The car show, set to draw out dozens of custom cars, trucks and bikes, has been set for Oct. 9 at the Ida Margaret Coulter Stone Park in Lockesburg. Registration will begin at eight that morning with an awards ceremony set for 3 p.m.

The car show will feature concessions, entertainment, activities and door prizes throughout the day. Cost to register a vehicle is $20 on the day of the show. Categories include best rat rod, top five pre-50’s truck, top five post-50’s truck, best motorcycle, and several other categories for both cars and trucks.

Proceeds from the event will go to serve the local Masonic Scholarship Fund and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. For more information contact Rodney Whisenhunt at (870) 451-3273 or Mark King at (870) 200-1337.
De Queen Public Schools preparing for 100 percent in-class instruction starting Aug. 16   08/10/2021

DE QUEEN – Officials with the De Queen School District will enter the new school year next week with a mix of both optimism and caution.
It’s a similar feeling felt by every school district in Arkansas, where COVID cases have surged in recent weeks to some of their highest levels since the pandemic began. The 2020-2021 school year was marked by disruptions across the state caused by COVID-related closures. Academic performance was a significant victim over the last school year, with test scores dropping particularly among students choosing remote learning options.
For De Queen Public Schools, the school year went pretty well – all things considered. The district was forced to close just one of its campuses on a single occasion due to quarantine protocols.
De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district is remaining cautiously optimistic the 2021-2022 will be as close as possible to normal. The district, he added, is focused on providing a quality education and that means a shift entirely from remote learning and back to in-person classes. The district will not begin this school year with a virtual learning option.
The district said it is taking every precaution available this school year to ensure the safety of De Queen students. Part of that effort includes sharing information with the community and remaining flexible to the challenges COVID will pose.
The district is considering some virtual learning option for parents concerned over sending their child to school in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Last year around 20-25 percent of De Queen students chose the district’s remote learning option. However, Sanders said the interests of De Queen parents and educators strongly, if not entirely, favored a return to in-person instruction.
The district took this summer to do everything it could do to ensure De Queen students return to as safe as an in-person environment as possible. That included the use of CARES Act funding to improve air quality through new carpets and nearly a million dollars in new HVAC systems. The district will again offer the services of the Leopard Care Clinic, launched last year to provide healthcare services on campus. That includes access to the free Pfizer vaccine for all students aged 12 and up.
Regardless of the ongoing fight over Arkansas’ mask mandate ban, the De Queen School District will not require masks this school year. Instead, Sanders encourages every parent to make that decision themselves and to visit with their primary care provider to determine the safest option for their child to return to school this year.
Sanders, who has received the vaccination himself, said that is one of the best options out there to ensure this school year is as normal as possible. But, he stresses that is a personal decision, and one only open to students aged 12 and up. The decision to vaccinate eligible children is a decision parents will need to make themselves.
That was sentiment shared by the De Queen School Board during its meeting Monday night. Board President Dr. Kenneth Martin spoke after the meeting to stress the district’s emphasis that parents be able to make the right choices for their students. Martin said the entire district is confident the return to in-person instruction can be done safely this school year and that it’s the best option to ensure students are not missing out on the quality education they both need and deserve.

The district said invites all parents to watch the recent video posted on its Facebook page. The video features discussions with Dr. Randy Walker and Dr. Jason Lofton as well as other members from the community about COVID-19 and the precautions available to ensure a safe return to classes this school year.

De Queen students as well as thousands of others across the state will return to class Monday, Aug. 16.

Sevier County Quorum Court approves additional COVID compensation for employees   08/10/2021
DE QUEEN – Sevier County employees will be receiving a one-time bonus as appreciation for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sevier County Quorum Court voted unanimously during is meeting Monday afternoon to provide the additional compensation to all county employees. The compensation ranges from $125 for new employees to $600 for full-time employees employed by the county for at least one year.
The decision to provide a COVID-related bonus follows similar benefits passed on to many workers in both the public and private sectors. Recently, the De Queen City Council voted to provide a $0.75 raise to all city employees for their work during the pandemic. Numerous private businesses have also provided bonuses and higher wages to their employees who worked throughout 2020.

Sevier County Justice of the Peace Earl Battiest, who serves as head of the quorum court’s budget committee, said the additional compensation was approved in appreciation of county employees. Sevier County road crews, sheriff’s deputies and sanitation crews remained on the job throughout the year.

Although the courthouse was temporarily closed to the public during the initial stage of the pandemic, offices inside remained staffed and conducted business more or less as normal. At the same time, many other Arkansas courthouses, as well as nearly all state and federal offices, closed their offices completely in 2020.

Battiest said it was this commitment to performing their jobs both safely and as normally as possible that prompted the quorum court to pass the one-time bonus.

In other business, justices of the peace heard an update from Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House. House said the hospital is planning to pursue legal action against a contractor who failed to follow through on a bid to install drywall at the medical center. House said the hospital’s decision to choose the second bidder was both necessary and resulted in a project cost increase of $800,000. House said the hospital hopes legal action against the initial drywall contractor, who is bonded, will help cover the additional cost.

The quorum court then approved a revision to the county’s employment handbook to reflect updated guidance on sexual harassment and the use of social media.

Justices of the peace also approved two appropriations related to the Sevier County Airport Fund. Both appropriations reimbursed the county using funds from federal grants for airport improvement projects. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said some people may have noticed a lot of activity at the airport last month, when around 20 fighter jets and other aircraft temporarily landed at the airport following an airshow in Michigan.

Cossatot River Schools to host Meet and Greet Saturday evening   08/10/2021

WICKES – The Cossatot River School District is giving everyone a chance to learn about the district and new Superintendent Tyler Broyles with a big opening house event this weekend.

The Back-to-School Meet & Greet is scheduled for this Saturday, Aug. 14 from 6 – 8 p.m. that evening. The district invites new and old students as well as members of the community to free food, giveaways and activities including water slides and kids games. The Brew Crew from Your Number One Country 92.1FM will be live on site with music and the Treasure Chest filled with cash and prizes.

Everyone from the public is invited to attend.

The Cossatot School District reminds its students and parents the start of school is Tuesday, Aug. 17. Thanks to a federal waiver impacting all school districts in the country, students at Cossatot River School District will receive school breakfasts and lunches at no cost. It is not necessary to complete a meal application for these meals, due to the USDA waiver. These benefits however do not include a la carte items sold in the cafeteria. All adults such as visitors, teachers and support staff are able to purchase breakfast for $2.25 and lunch for $4.

Economic report shows consumers returning to casinos, car dealerships in first half of 2021   08/10/2021

As COVID’s clouds appeared to lift this spring and early summer, consumers returned to restaurants, casinos and car dealerships in the first half of the year, while personal income edged higher in June.

The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis released its monthly report on personal income and expenditures on July 30.

Personal income

The effects of pandemic relief programs in March were particularly noticeable. Government social benefits in that month accounted for over a third of personal income across the country. Throughout the pandemic, except for the final quarter of 2020, government relief benefits accounted for close to a quarter of private earnings. That share began to fall over the summer. But not by much. The average remains a few points higher than the 16 or 17 percent that would have been considered normal pre-pandemic.

Economists such as John Anderson at the University of Arkansas say the slight rise in personal income in June was largely driven by an increase in wages and a better, almost normal economic picture.

Durable goods

The report shows spending was up on services and nondurable goods but declined on durable goods for the second month in a row. The durable goods category includes items such as large appliances, electronics and furniture.

Gambling on going out

Following the rollout of COVID vaccines and a general feeling that it was safe to get out, consumers headed back to restaurants and recreation venues.

Recreation services does show some interesting variation within its subcategories.

For example, spending at movie theaters is still less than 20 precent of its pre-pandemic level. Consumers, however, have not lost their love for movies. The clear movie theater substitute — video streaming and rental service — has seen spending go up by more than 30 percent.

In other types of recreation, spending on amusement parks, campgrounds, and related recreational services remains at about half of its pre-pandemic level. Spending at casinos, on the other hand, is currently about 5 percent higher than before the pandemic. Apparently, gamblers are less risk averse than roller coaster enthusiasts.

Commission sets out possible paths for medical marijuana dispensaries in SWAR   08/09/2021

The groundwork may be laid for Southwest Arkansas to see its first medical marijuana dispensary after state officials laid out the licensing path last week – five years after the law was passed by Arkansas voters.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission met last Thursday to formulate how it would choose the last two dispensaries allowed in Arkansas under the 2016 constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana. According to reporting from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, board members say they wanted to see those two final dispensaries open up in what they say are the two most underrepresented areas in the state – Zone 6 in West Central Arkansas and Zone 8 in Southwest Arkansas. In total, the 2016 constitutional amendment allowed for 40 dispensaries in Arkansas.

From the plan formulated during last week’s meeting, one of those licenses will go to a dispensary in one Southwest Arkansas county. That list includes Sevier, Little River, Howard, Pike, Miller, LaFayette, Hempstead, Nevada, Clark, Columbia, Ouachita, Union, Calhoun and Dallas Counties. A large enough area it’s safe to assume the chances for one to open up in De Queen, Nashville or Ashdown is pretty slight.

During the commission’s meeting officials discussed choosing both remaining dispensaries from a reserve list of applicants from the two designated zones. However, the option remains for the commission to use a double-blind lottery system for choosing future dispensary licenses. More details on the lottery method and the reserve-list process are set for discussion at a special commission meeting next month.

Harvest Food Bank returning to Sevier Co. next week   08/09/2021

Harvest Regional Food Bank is returning to Sevier County with its USDA Commodity Mobile Pantry this month.

Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute food directly from their truck on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church of Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia Street in Lockesburg.

Vehicles are asked to start lining up on W. Magnolia and the church parking lot on the morning of the distribution event.

The next Mobile Pantry will be on Nov. 10. With CDC precautions and recommendations against the Coronavirus still in place, Harvest officials say they are taking every measure to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as “drive-thru” distributions, with food boxes being loaded directly into vehicles. Recipients will not be allowed to exit the vehicle or park to pick up food.

Recipients must bring photo identification or proof of address for verifying they are a resident of Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one box per household and 2 households per vehicle. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Local COVID-19 figures continue to rise   08/09/2021

Local COVID-19 figures in Southwest Arkansas are continuing to increase to some of the highest levels seen since the worst days of the pandemic this past winter.

As of Friday, the Arkansas Department of Health was reporting 74 active cases in Sevier County – an increase of 18 from just the Wednesday before. The increase raises Sevier County’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to more than 3,000 since the pandemic began. Deaths have fortunately not seen an increase since nearly the beginning of the year and remain at 25.

Also as of Friday, 66 active cases are being reported in Little River County – an increase of 26 from last Wednesday. In total 1,425 Little River County residents have caught the virus with 43 have died from it.

In Howard County, active cases rose from 70 on Wednesday to 85 on Friday. Polk County saw a corresponding rise, with active cases increasing from 78 to 95 in just a two-day span. Neither Little River, Howard County or Polk County have reported an increase in COVID-19 in a number of months.

New cases continue to surge across the state, with nearly 1,400 new cases reported in Arkansas on Sunday. Active cases rose to almost 24,000 – one of the largest active caseloads since the pandemic began. Deaths rose by 11 on Sunday to 6,301 since spring of 2020. Hospitalizations saw an increase of 33 on Sunday, leaving 1,273 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. Currently there are only 25 ICU beds open in the entire state due to the high hospitalization rate.

Most worryingly, say health experts in the state, is the dramatic shortage in nurses and other healthcare professionals in Arkansas. The University of Arkansas for Medical Science facility in Little Rock reported it has 360 vacancies for health care providers. The hospital reported last week it is offering sign-on bonuses up to $25,000.

Meet the Teacher Nights at De Queen Primary, Elementary Schools are cancelled   08/09/2021

De Queen Elementary and Primary School have announced the Meet the Teacher Nights scheduled this week have been cancelled due to COVID-19 precautions.

Sevier County Equalization Board to hold first meeting today   08/09/2021

The Sevier County Equalization Board will hold the first of its equalization hearings today, Aug. 9 starting at 5 p.m. There will be a second meeting for hearings on Monday, August 16 also at five that evening.

Anyone desiring to schedule an assessment appeal should call the Sevier County Clerk’s Office at (870) 642-2852. The last day to call to request a hearing is Monday, Aug. 23 during regular office hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. These meetings will be held in the Courthouse Conference Room.

Those planning on attending an equalization board meeting should enter the Courthouse at the East Entrance of the courthouse.

All Equalization Board meetings are open to the public.

Former Foreman coach charged with possession of sexually explicit material involving minor   08/06/2021
FOREMAN – A former Foreman High School girls’ basketball coach was charged this week for possession of child pornography in connection to a 16-year-old female student.
An investigation into 26-year-old Ashley Laine Hipps began in May after allegations were brought to the Little River County Sheriff’s Office, according to documents filed this week in the Little River Circuit Court. Hipps was employed as the head girl’s basketball coach from May 2019 until the end of the spring semester this year.

According to court records, investigators with the Little River County Sheriff’s Office were notified that Hipps was allegedly involved in a sexual relationship with one of her female students.

Investigators received a search warrant to obtain cellphones belonging to Hipps and the victim. With help from the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department, investigators allege they found data revealing Hipps was engaged in a sexual relationship with the 16-year-old female student. A nude photo of the girl was also allegedly found on Hipps’ phone.

Hipps is charged with distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, first offense.

Upon a conviction, the felony offense carries a sentence of three to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Drywall contractor causes delay and additional cost for new hospital               08/06/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors met yesterday to discuss progress on the new hospital, including one of the first significant delays encountered during construction.

Board Chairman Dr. Steve Cole said construction had been proceeding smoothly until last week, when the contractor hired to install drywall in the new hospital went into default. Cole said the drywall project was one of the largest elements of the new hospital’s construction. He added the drywall contractor was not returning calls and has since been put on notice by the construction manager.

Cole said the board agreed to move on to the second drywall bidder. The second bid was $800,000 higher but was necessary to accept to avoid significant delays to construction progress, Cole explained.

Nevertheless, Cole said the default of the original drywall bidder will cause some delay as the new contractor collects material and mobilizes for the job.

Cole said he was talking to other board members and county officials to determine if the hospital would seek legal action against the original bidder. The company is bonded, Cole added, and backing out of the job will cause a slowdown to overall construction progress.

In other business, the board announced it had $2.1 million in tax revenue set aside. This fund has been set aside as a “war chest” to help fund operations and other expenses once the new hospital opens next spring. Cole said the revenue collected since the sales tax was implemented remains higher than projections due to healthy local economy activity and consumer spending.

Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House said the hospital will conduct its community health needs assessment this year to determine exactly what services will be best provided to the community through the new hospital.

Cole then spoke to the need to provide competitive wages once the hiring process begins for the more than 100 full-time positions the hospital will provide. With a shortage of healthcare professionals across the nation, and with the challenges imposed on the field by the ongoing pandemic, wages for nurses, CNAs and other healthcare providers is soaring. Cole said the new hospital needs to be able to provide competitive wages to ensure the hospital is staffed by quality employees.

Finally, House thanked the community for the warm welcome she’s received since being hired as the hospital’s CEO in June. A meet and greet was held last month to introduce House to the broader community. A resident of Polk County, House said she and her family will soon move to Sevier in time for the opening of the new hospital next year.

Some area senior citizen centers open, others closed due to COVID-19   08/06/2021

WICKES – The Cossatot Senior Citizens Center is again delivering lunches and providing to-go meals after closing its doors this week to increasing COVID-19 cases in the community.

Organizers with the senior citizens center welcome seniors who would like a to-go meal to come by the senior citizens center again starting today. This will continue next week as well.

In related news, the De Queen Senior Citizens Center is open again after a temporary closure, also due to rising COVID cases in the area. The center is also delivering meals to clients at their homes.

The Horatio and Lockesburg Senior Citizens Centers remain closed at this time, however. For more information call (870) 642-6046.

Southeastern Oklahoma Junior Rodeo Association kicks off rodeo in De Queen tonight   08/06/2021

DE QUEEN – The Southeastern Oklahoma Junior Rodeo Association will present a rodeo in De Queen this weekend at the Sevier County Fairgrounds.

The event is scheduled for both Friday and Saturday nights with mutton sheep at 7:30 p.m. and the Grand Entry at eight both evenings.

Age groups for this rodeo range from youth seven and under to 19 years old. Gate fee is $7. The rodeo will feature a ton of events, ranging from breakaway roping and ranch bronc to barrels, poles and goat tying.

Concessions will be available at the fairgrounds.

This is tax-free weekend in Arkansas   08/06/2021

Tax-free weekend has arrived in Arkansas. From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, August 7 to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, August 8, you can buy all kinds of items without paying any sales tax. That includes some big additions for 2021.

The holiday comes as most Arkansas students prepare for a new school year. This is the 10th year Arkansas has hosted a tax-free weekend.

The list of tax-free products includes school supplies, art supplies, clothing items under $100 — and new this year — computers, cell phones, and tablets. The Department of Finance and Administration added these devices this year due to their vital role in modern education – and the fact that thousands of Arkansas students were unable to attend classes during the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-related school closures.

According to the DF&A, Arkansas shoppers save a projected five to six million dollars each tax-free weekend. It’s money that would otherwise end up in the state treasury.

The tax exemptions apply to brick and mortar stores and online retailers, so long as the items are shipped to Arkansas.

There are some restrictions on certain purchases. Clothing must be less than $100 per item, but there is no limit on the number of items.

While most clothing is covered, items such as patterns, fabric, and sewing notions are not included. The list of qualified clothing is extensive, covering almost everything from diapers to wedding apparel. Shoes, undergarments, belts, and outerwear are included. There is not a cost limit for electronic devices.

See this year’s list of items and restrictions athttps://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/exciseTaxOffice/HolidayItemized.pdf

Benefit this weekend for Clint Evans at Polk County Fairgrounds   08/06/2021

MENA – A benefit will be held this Saturday, Aug. 7 at the Polk County Fairgrounds in support of a Polk County man recovering from a work-related injury.

The event is being held to benefit Clint Evans, who was injured in a work accident this spring. Those injuries required several intense surgeries and multiple hospital follow up visits, said organizers. Funds raised at this weekend’s benefit will go to help cover those medical costs.

The benefit will include a chicken and pork dinner starting at 6 p.m. until sold out. Plates will be available by donation. A barrel race will be held starting at eight that night. A silent auction, corn hole tournament and pie walk are also scheduled throughout the evening. The event will wrap up with a country music dance from 9 p.m. to midnight and cost is $5.

For additional information or questions about the benefit events for Clint Evans, contact Mary Ferguson at (870) 582-2483.

COVID vaccination drive in Ashdown this weekend   08/06/2021

ASHDOWN – Brookshire’s Pharmacy will host a COVID-19 vaccination drive this Saturday, Aug. 7. The clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the pharmacy’s location on 1310 S. Constitution Avenue. Vaccines available include the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines. Those getting a vaccine at this event are asked to bring an insurance card or valid ID.

SWEPCO applies for rate increase in Arkansas   08/05/2021
In what it says is an effort to recover costs linked to clean energy efforts, Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) has requested the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) allow it to raise rates by about $18.89 per month for the average residential customer.

While new base rates wouldn’t likely go into effect until the first billing cycle of June 2022, residential customers using an average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month would see a total bill increase of around $130.20 for the year or around a 17 percent increase.

While the primary stated goal is to help SWEPCO’s investments into wind facilities, the rate rise will also help the company cover its winter storm costs from 2021, which amounted to about $7.72 per month for residential customers using that same 1,000 kilowatt-hour per month average.

Base rates tend to cover building costs, as well as maintenance and operation of the electric system.

With the base rate request, though, SWEPCO has sought a total update of $85 million. Beyond the costs previously mentioned, the company said this request covers investments in transmission and distribution facilities, operations costs, and the creation of new tariffs for electric vehicles, lighting, and other measures.

Sevier County Libraries returning to curbside-only service after rise in local COVID cases   08/05/2021

The Sevier County Library Board has announced that beginning today all Sevier County Libraries will be cut back to curbside service only. The board said in a statement it dislikes having to make this decision but for the safety of employees and patrons amidst increasing COVID-19 cases locally, it was a decision they felt was necessary.

All books, DVD’s and items will be cleaned before being checked out again.

Curbside service will be the same as previously, and most library services are available through the libraries’ drop box windows.

The Library Board and Sevier County Librarians said they hope that everyone understands and will be patient with the library system during this time.

For more information call the library at (870) 584-4364.

COVID cases remain at highest level seen in SWAR since beginning of year   08/05/2021

On Wednesday, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 56 active cases in Sevier County, 40 in Little River, 70 in Howard and 78 in Polk County. Fortunately no deaths have been reported in either of these four counties this week. Hempstead County is reporting 87 while Miller County has the highest active COVID-19 caseload in the region with 137 currently confirmed or probable cases.

New cases continue to surge across the state, with an addition 2,800 cases reported in Arkansas on Wednesday. Active cases rose by more than a 1,000 to 20,000 – one of the largest active caseloads since the pandemic began. Deaths rose by 15 to 6,230. Hospitalizations saw their first decline in over two weeks, falling by 18 to leave 1,232 Arkansans hospitalized due to the virus. Currently there are only 25 ICU beds open in the entire state due to the high hospitalization rate.

Most worryingly, say health experts in the state, is the dramatic shortage in nurses and other healthcare professionals in Arkansas. The University of Arkansas for Medical Science facility in Little Rock reported it has 360 vacancies for health care providers. The hospital reported yesterday it is offering sign-on bonuses up to $25,000.

Tyson to require vaccinations for all employees   08/05/2021

Tyson Foods announced Tuesday it will require its workers in the United States to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 this year.

Company officials said all employees at U.S. office locations will be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. All other employees are expected to receive the vaccine by Nov. 1.

In a news release, Tyson said it is providing $200 to frontline team members to support vaccine efforts. The company has an existing policy in place of compensating workers for up to four hours of pay if they get vaccinated outside of their normal shift or through an external source.

Dr. Claudia Coplein, chief medical officer for Tyson Foods, said, quote, “getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families and their communities.”

Several major companies are also renewing COVID-related guidelines and mandates following the recent surge of the Delta variant, both across Arkansas and increasingly the rest of the nation.

Those include Home Depot, which announced all associates, contractors and vendors will be required to wear masks indoors beginning this week. Customers will continue to be asked to wear masks while in Home Depot. Walmart and Target also announced similar changes, requiring employees to mask up.

McDonald’s is also making changes, reports Reuters. The fast food chain is requiring customers in “areas with high or substantial transmission” to start wearing face coverings again. That new rule applies to vaccinated customers and unvaccinated customers. Unvaccinated customers were already required to wear a face covering, per CDC guidelines.

Sevier County Quorum Court to vote on one-time bonuses for all county employees   08/05/2021

The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet next week to consider providing county employees with a one-time bonus for work performed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The request, if approved, would provide $600 to full-time employees with at least one year of service, $300 for part-time employees and employees with at least six months service; and $125 for employees with less than six months employment with the county.

The request to provide a one-time bonus comes after several members of the quorum court sounded concern at the July meeting over the long term cost of providing a pay raise to all county employees.

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

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

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

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

However, with the bonus request on the schedule of the quorum court’s August meeting, county employees may still see some additional compensation related to the ongoing pandemic.

In other business, the quorum court will vote on a proposed ordinance revising the county’s employment policy handbook while also voting on a number of routine appropriations.

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 9 starting at 2 p.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse.

Children’s Health Fair in De Queen Aug. 11   08/05/2021

De Queen First Assembly along with Dr. Randy Walker’s Office and Pilgrim’s are teaming up to present a Children’s Health Fair in De Queen on Aug. 11. Located at the De Queen First Assembly Family Center, the event will begin at 11 a.m. and continue until two that afternoon.

Pilgrim’s is providing a chance to win a year’s worth of meat for those who receive either their first COVID-19 vaccine dose or the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine during the event. Must be 21 years of age to participate in this giveaway.

The annual children’s health fair is designed for youth between the ages of five to nine.

Horatio High School to host vaccination clinics in August    08/02/2021
HORATIO – Prompted by rising COVID-19 cases both locally and across the state, the Horatio School District will host a free community vaccine clinic on two occasions in August.

The first is scheduled for this Friday, Aug. 6 from 2-7 p.m. in the Horatio High School Cafeteria. The second clinic will be held Aug. 27.

COVID-19 vaccinations will be available for everyone aged 12 and up. In addition, regular childhood immunizations will also be offered for children under 12 years of age.

The Horatio School District has been reaching out to parents, teachers, school staff and coaches in hopes of encouraging more COVID-19 vaccinations before the start of the school year.

In a letter sent out earlier this Month, the district said it is important to start vaccinations as soon as possible to achieve full protection in the next few weeks before the start of school.

District officials cited the CDC’s July 9 statement that “children and adolescents benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person school in the fall of 2021 is a priority.”

However, despite numerous efforts the district said vaccination rates remain very low in Arkansas. This, officials say, threatens the district’s ability to return students safety to in-person learning and other activities. Currently Arkansas’ vaccination rate is hovering around just 35 percent.

The district is encouraging all students aged 12 years and up, including college students, to get the vaccination as soon as possible. Especially given the rise of the Delta variant, which appears to be more contagious than previous versions encountered in Arkansas. The virus is making itself prevalent once again through what Arkansas health officials are calling a third-wave of infections. The Delta Variant in particular appears to target younger patients than the original virus, with more than three-quarters of new infections among those younger than 55. Around 12 percent of confirmed recent transmissions have been among children.

The Horatio School District is reminding its community that COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe and easily obtained by everyone in Arkansas 12 and older. They cited the 94 percent effectiveness rate of these vaccines preventing hospitalization due to COVID infection.

Finally, the district is encouraging parents of those students too young to be vaccinated to work with school leadership to support a plan for the safe return to school this fall. In addition, the district said parents should consider reintroducing and reinforcing defensive strategies against the virus including frequent handwashing, physical distancing and wearing masks in public.

Trial dates set for this fall, winter for two teachers accused in internet stalking case    08/02/2021

DE QUEEN – Pre-trial hearings have been scheduled for two Horatio teachers facing allegations they attempted to organize a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl.

According to court records, 40-year-old Lori Marshall of Lockesburg will appear before the Sevier County Circuit Court for a pre-trial hearing on Dec. 2. If she maintains her plea of not-guilty, a jury trial will be held the following week on Dec. 8.

The second defendant, 32-year-old Ryan Smith of Conway, will appear before the court for a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 28. A jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 11.

Both Marshall and Smith were both charged in June following an investigation into the internet stalking allegations. Prosecutors are alleging Smith and Marshall had discussed arranging a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl. The incident in question was reportedly committed between May 20, 2020 and June 30, 2020, according to court records.

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

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

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

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

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

Near record demand causing surge in gasoline prices    08/02/2021

More people were hitting the road during the first half of 2021, with demand driving gasoline prices to their highest levels since 2014.

The July 29 report by the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, showed U.S. retail gas prices averaging $3.247 a gallon in the third week of July. This was the highest weekly average gas price since the second week of October 2014.

In Sevier County prices are averaging around $3.03 a gallon.

Prices are far above last summer levels, when COVID restrictions sharply curtailed travel and, by extension, demand for gasoline. However, “prices are also up from pre-COVID levels: July retail gasoline prices have averaged about 15 percent higher than July 2019 and more than 40 percent higher than last July.

Seasonal consumption

While gasoline consumption virtually always increases from January to July, this year, consumption increased 23 percent from January to July,” said John Anderson, an economist for the University of Arkansas.  He added this is the largest seasonal increase in gasoline consumption going back to 1992.

Higher consumption in spite of higher prices is an unmistakable sign of strong demand. However, as consumers slacken their summer travel and COVID surges back into the picture heading into fall, prices may weaken.

“Looking ahead, fundamental support for gasoline prices should begin to soften, at least a little,” Anderson said. “Demand should already be weakening seasonally, a tendency that should accelerate as we move from summer into fall.

Unfortunately, we may also see demand soften even more if the current increase in COVID cases leads to a return of restrictions and/or widespread risk avoidance behavior by consumers.

Sevier County Libraries to return to curbside-only service    08/02/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Library Board has announced that beginning this Thursday, Aug. 5, all Sevier County Libraries will be cut back to curbside service only. The board said in a statement it dislikes having to make this decision but for the safety of employees and patrons amidst increasing COVID-19 cases locally, it was a decision they felt was necessary.

All books, DVD’s and items will be cleaned before being checked out again.

Curbside service will be the same as previously, and most library services are available through the libraries’ drop box windows.

The Library Board and Sevier County Librarians said they hope that everyone understands and will be patient with the library system during this time.

For more information call the library at (870) 584-4364.

Weekend benefit to support Clint Evans    08/02/2021

MENA – A benefit will be held this Saturday, Aug. 7 at the Polk County Fairgrounds in support of a Polk County man recovering from a work-related injury.

The event is being held to benefit Clint Evans, who was injured in a work accident this spring. Those injuries required several intense surgeries and multiple hospital follow up visits, said organizers. Funds raised at this weekend’s benefit will go to help cover those medical costs.

The benefit will include a chicken and pork dinner starting at 6 p.m. until sold out. Plates will be available by donation. A barrel race will be held starting at eight that night. A silent auction, corn hole tournament and pie walk are also scheduled throughout the evening. The event will wrap up with a country music dance from 9 p.m. to midnight and cost is $5.

For additional information or questions about the benefit events for Clint Evans, contact Mary Ferguson at (870) 582-2483.

Sevier County Clerk’s Office sets equalization meeting dates    08/02/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Equalization Board will hold the first of its equalization hearings next Monday, Aug. 9 starting at 5 p.m. There will be a second meeting for hearings on Monday, August 16 also at five that evening.

Anyone desiring to schedule an assessment appeal should call the Sevier County Clerk’s Office at (870) 642-2852. The last day to call to request a hearing is Monday, Aug. 23 during regular office hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. These meetings will be held in the Courthouse Conference Room.

Those planning on attending an equalization board meeting should enter the Courthouse at the East Entrance of the courthouse.

All Equalization Board meetings are open to the public.

Horatio School District registration, orientation begins today    08/02/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary will be having New to the District Enrollment starting today and continuing through Aug. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. all three days at the elementary office. Please make sure you bring your child’s Birth Certificate, Shot Record, Social Security Card, and Proof of Residency.

Horatio High School will host 2021-2022 orientation for students in grades seven through 12 this week. Seventh and eighth graders are invited to come by tonight from 5-7 p.m.. Ninth thru 12th grade will host orientation on Thursday, Aug. 5, also from 5-7 p.m. Both orientations will be come-and-go events and will be held in the Horatio High School Practice Gym.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Southwest Arkansas    08/02/2021
DE QUEEN – Local counties are seeing an increase in active cases of COVID-19 alongside the broader state with a resurgence of the virus to levels not seen since last year.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, as of Friday Sevier County was reporting 57 active cases of the virus – a nearly three-fold increase since just two weeks ago.

Little River County is reporting 40 active cases at this time, 70 in Howard County and 84 in Polk County. These increases come after a period of time in which all four counties were reporting single-digit active caseloads.

Local figures are trending with the broader state, where a surge in COVID-19 infections has resulted in daily new case rates and active caseloads not seen since the pandemic’s worst moments in the winter of 2020-2021.

The surge in cases, deaths and hospitalizations prompted state officials to reimplement Arkansas’ emergency health declaration last week.

As part of the declaration, Hutchinson said the state is reimplementing a number of measures to ease the current shortage in hospital staff. Those include renewing the treatment compact between Arkansas and neighboring states as well as easing licensure requirements for retired healthcare workers who want to reenter the field. In addition, Hutchinson said he is seeking federal help to bring more emergency medical services to Arkansas.

Hutchison added the state has no intentions of reimplementing mask mandates or restrictions in businesses. Hutchinson also said he is calling a special session of the Arkansas Legislature next week to amend Act 1002, which prohibits school districts from implementing their own measures against COVID-19.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported more than 2,800 new cases of the virus on Thursday – one of the highest single-day increases since the pandemic began. This one-day total follows several days with more than 1,000 daily new cases. Hospitalizations are also on the rise and hit the four-digit mark for the first time since the start of the year with over 1,100 Arkansans hospitalized due to the virus as of Friday.

Active cases across the state amount to nearly 19,000. Deaths due to the virus are also increasing after falling to single-digit levels for much of the spring and summer. They now total 6,141 Arkansans.

Health experts in the state fault the Delta variant and low vaccination rates in Arkansas as the cause of the virus’ renewed surge. The Delta variant has shown itself to target younger people, many of whom are already vulnerable due to low vaccination rates among younger Arkansans. The recommendations of health experts remains the same: get the vaccine if possible. There have been reports of break-thru infections – that is, infections among those vaccinated – but the health effects and severity of the virus are much reduced, health experts say.

Horatio Hometown Connections to host Back-to-School Bash Aug. 14    08/02/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Hometown Connections will host a Back-to-School Bash just in time for the start of school on Saturday, Aug. 14.

The event will be held at the Horatio City Park with a number of activities for local kids to mark the end of summer and the start of the new school year. The Back-to-School Bash will include a boat race, water kickball tournament, cornhole tournament and a horseshoe tournament. The event will also feature prizes, inflatables, a concession stand and local vendors. A smoked chicken lunch plate fundraiser will also be held.

The Back-to-School Bash is scheduled for Aug. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Horatio City Park.

Sevier County Block Party in Lockesburg this Tuesday    08/02/2021

LOCKESBURG – In case you missed any of the last few Sevier County Block Parties, there are more chances to attend this family-friendly, community-wide event this summer.

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

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

Several block parties were held already this year in De Queen, Horatio and Gillham. The next is scheduled for tomorrow, Aug. 3, from 6-8 p.m. at the Lockesburg Park Pavilion. The event will include free hotdogs, snow cones, popcorn, a bike giveaway and numerous door prizes. The Lockesburg Fire Department will be on hand to spray water and help keep everyone cool. All area youth and families are invited to attend.

The two final block parties are scheduled for Aug. 24 at the Ben Lomond Community Building and then again in De Queen on Sept. 14 at the Sportsplex.

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

This week is Farmers Market Week in Arkansas    08/02/2021

Farmers markets, long thought of as a niche affectation of suburban parking lots or roadside stands, truly came into their own over the past year. As many food retailers struggled to deal with supply chain bottlenecks and indoor capacity restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the typically outdoor farmers markets thrived as sources of fresh and local produce and other products.

Governor Asa Hutchinson recently signed a proclamation declaring Aug. 1-7 Arkansas Farmers Market Week. The week coincides with National Farmers Market Week.

A 2020 survey, conducted by universities across the United States, found that farmers markets enjoyed a three percent increase in first-time consumers — equating to about 36 million households.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture has spent this year promoting Arkansas MarketMaker, a free online marketing portal promoting farmers markets and other food producers with searchable maps of local food providers. To use or join the program, visit https://ar.foodmarketmaker.com/.

According to the governor’s proclamation, there are more than 112 known farmers markets in Arkansas, with more than 80 percent of the state’s 75 counties featuring at least one farmers market.

This has been a challenging season for Arkansas farmers markets, due to cooler and wet weather conditions, but farmers markets are in full swing. Arkansas farmers markets have seen high traffic counts again this year, post-COVID, and it appears more people than ever are interested in local food.”

The Sevier County Farmers Market is open and in full swing with a variety of fresh produce and other homemade goods and crafts. The local farmers market is open each Wednesday and Saturday from 7-11 a.m., or until sold out, under the pavilion at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen. The farmers market is also now offering the Sevier County Farmers Market Cookbook for $12 a copy.

To learn more about farmers markets in Arkansas, visit https://www.uaex.uada.edu/farm-ranch/economics-marketing/experience-arkansas-agriculture/.

UofA launches new study into tick-borne disease and Arkansas cattle    08/02/2021

Researchers with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture will be expanding their search this fall for ticks that may transmit anaplasmosis, a disease that can kill cattle.

Anaplasmosis turns an animal’s immune system against itself, destroying both healthy and infected red blood cells, which can starve the animal of oxygen. If anaplasmosis does not kill the infected animal, the animal carries anaplasmosis for life, becoming a reservoir for the disease.

Losses from the disease are difficult to quantify, because of the many ways anaplasmosis can kill or hinder cattle, said Heidi Ward, extension veterinarian for the Division of Agriculture. In some cases, anaplasmosis can cause calves to be aborted or slow gains in cattle. A study published in 2014 puts the annual loss to the U.S. beef cattle industry at $300 million.

Anaplasmosis can be transmitted through ticks and their bite and through tools such as needles” such as those used to vaccinate herds. Ticks collected from cattle last summer and this spring have so far not turned up the pathogen.

What researchers did find was a related bacteria, however.

Most of the samples were lone star ticks, which is not thought to be the main vector, McDermott said.

Targeting deer ticks

The researchers will focus their efforts on black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks. This tick is best known for transmitting Lyme disease in the northeastern United States and can also transmit human anaplasmosis.

Acute cases tend to peak in summer and late fall, coinciding with peak season for the ticks that can transmit the disease.

The black-legged ticks can also move between deer and cattle hosts.

Researchers will work with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to collect ticks from deer harvested in-season.

Update: DQPD identify two people killed in Tuesday fatal shooting    07/30/2021
DE QUEEN – The De Queen Police Department has identified the two people killed during a fatal shooting incident Tuesday night.

Authorities identified the two people as 22-year-old Wendy Cruz and 35-year-old Marco Antonio Lopez.

According to the police department, officers were dispatched around 6 p.m. Tuesday night to a residence on the north side of the city at 299 Highway 71 North in reference to a man entering the home and armed with a gun. Upon arrival the bodies of two deceased individuals were found inside the home. Both bodies have since been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for autopsies.

Authorities say the investigation remains open and that there is no current threat to the community. No other details are available at this time.

Agencies assisting in the investigation include the Arkansas State Police, South Central Drug Task Force and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office.

Gov. Hutchinson reimplements COVID-19 emergency declaration; mask mandate not on the table    07/30/2021

A surge in COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations has prompted state officials to reimplement Arkansas’ emergency health declaration immediately, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported more than 2,800 new cases of the virus on Thursday – one of the highest single-day increases since the pandemic began. This one-day total follows several days with more than 1,000 daily new cases. Hospitalizations are also on the rise and hit the four-digit mark for the first time since the start of the year with 1,056 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

These dramatic increases, part of what health officials call a third wave of COVID-19 infections in Arkansas, prompted renewal of the emergency declaration which expired back on May 31. Gov. Hutchinson announced the renewal during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

As part of the declaration, Hutchinson said the state is reimplementing a number of measures to ease the current shortage in hospital staff. Those include renewing the treatment compact between Arkansas and neighboring states as well as easing licensure requirements for retired healthcare workers who want to reenter the field. In addition, Hutchinson said he is seeking federal help to bring more emergency medical services to Arkansas.

Hutchison added the state has no intentions of reimplementing mask mandates or restrictions in businesses. Hutchinson also said he is calling a special session of the Arkansas Legislature next week to amend Act 1002, which prohibits school districts from implementing their own measures against COVID-19.

As of Thursday, more than 382,000 Arkansans have contracted COVID-19 since the spring of 2020. Of those, 6,110 have passed away due to the virus. Active cases continue to increase into some of the highest levels ever seen, with more than 14,000 currently confirmed or probable active COVID-19 cases in the state.

Dierks Pine Tree Festival kicks off tonight    07/30/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

City of Mena, brewery host temporary entertainment district    07/30/2021

From The Polk County Pulse, by Jeri Pearson

MENA – The City of Mena has authorized a temporary entertainment district for this weekend, allowing people to consume alcohol legally on a designated section of Martin Avenue.

The event is being hosted by The Ouachitas, a brewery located on 821 Mena Street. The entertainment district will be in effect for two days, tonight and tomorrow, from 5 until 10 p.m. both evenings.

During the event, Ouachita Nights, musicians Ashtyn Barbaree and Randall Shreve will offer live entertainment on an outside stage, while guests at The Ouachitas can order food and beverages to consume while enjoying the entertainment.

There are no age restriction to enjoy the event and his goal is to offer an environment everyone can enjoy. To consume an alcoholic beverage in the entertainment district, the beverage must be purchased from The Ouachitas during the event and only consumed in the designated area on Martin Ave.

Mena City Council included a provision when passing the ordinance for the temporary district that allows the Mena Police Chief or Mena Fire Chief to disband the district in the event of a threat to public safety and welfare.

Council members noted the event is scheduled to end both evenings before the city’s noise ordinance takes effect.

Mena Mayor Seth Smith noted if the temporary entertainment district is a success, opportunities for additional temporary entertainment districts may be considered.

Sevier County 4-H to host Back to School Dance Aug. 6    07/30/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H’ers will host a Back to School Dance next week just in time for the start of the new school year in August.

All area youth are invited to come by and celebrate the end of summer and the start of the new school year with Sevier County 4-H teen leaders. The dance will be held Friday, Aug. 6 from 8:30-11 p.m. at the Weyerhaeuser Building on UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus. The free event is designed for youth aged five to 19.

Drinks and popcorn will be served. A talent show will be held during intermission.

For more information call (870) 582-1685.

Buschman announces run for 18th West Judicial District prosecuting attorney    07/30/2021

Debra Wood Buschman of Mena has announced her candidacy for Prosecuting Attorney for the 18th West Judicial District, which consists of Montgomery and Polk Counties. Debra currently serves as Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the district. Buschman is a 1997 graduate of Wickes High School and holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Arkansas State University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She completed her law degree at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 2006.

Debra and her husband, Dr. Paul Buschman, have two sons, Benjamin and Samuel. The family attends The Crossing Church in Mena where Debra enjoys serving on the Children’s Ministry Team. She is the president of the Polk County/Mena Rotary Club and a member of the Lioness Club. She has served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the board of the Mena Water Utility.

Andy Riner’s election to Circuit Judge left a vacancy in the prosecuting attorney’s office that was filled by gubernatorial appointee D. Jason Barrett, former Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Tim Williamson. An appointed prosecutor is not eligible to run for the position. The non-partisan election will be held in May of 2022.

CRSP Half-Marathon scheduled for Oct. 23    07/30/2021

WICKES – Cossatot River State Park and Natural Area has announced it will host its annual Half Marathon Trail Run this fall.

The yearly trail run has been scheduled for Oct. 23 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park, located 12 miles east of Wickes on Highway 278. Registration and check-in will kick off at 6 a.m. at the Visitor Center. The shuttle to the start line at Brushy Creek is at 7 a.m. with the 13.1 mile half-marathon to begin at eight. The park will host a meal at 11 a.m. and present awards at 11:45.

All area residents are invited to challenge their abilities in the mountainous terrain of the Cossatot River State Park for this 13.1 mile single track trail run. Take your time and enjoy the scenic trail or push yourself to the limits and compete for the top honors. Either way this will be an enjoyable event, park organizers say. T-shirts will be provided to registered runners.

For more information contact the park at (870) 385-2201.

Arkansas Hunting Guide now available for online download    07/30/2021

The printed version of the 2021-22 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook is being produced and should be distributed in August throughout the state, but hunters can get familiar with this year’s season dates and regulations with a digital version, now available at www.agfc.com for download.

One thing most hunters familiar with the guidebook may notice is the notoriously short “New This Year” section that graces Page 4. This section usually has a dozen or so changes hunters should note with references to where they can be found later in the book. Thanks to a new two-year regulations cycle, only one note is mentioned in this section of the book, and it is not a regulation so much as a reference for hunters to know about an ongoing research project in the north portion of the state.

A project tracking mortality rates in white-tailed deer within Arkansas’s chronic wasting disease zone involves tagging and radio-collaring deer and following them throughout their lives to determine the impact the disease is having on the population. The easily visible collars and tags may cause hunters to question if the deer is legal to harvest.

Collared and tagged deer are legal to take, but the AGFC asks any hunter who shoots these deer to report the harvest to ensure accurate data collection on this important project.

The only other changes that may impact hunters are small adjustments of season dates to accommodate the change in calendar days from one year to the next.

The Statewide 2021 Deer Season Opening Days are Sept. 25 for archer; Oct. 16 for muzzleloader; and Nov. 13 for modern gun. Special Youth Modern Gun Hunts are scheduled for Nov. 6-7 and Jan. 1-2. Private Land Anterless-only Modern Gun Hunt is Dec. 29-31.

Visit www.agfc.com/guidebooks for downloadable versions of all AGFC hunting and fishing regulations guidebooks.

“Hosting Hochatown” podcast explores Hochatown and its people    07/29/2021

It’s no secret that something amazing is happening in Hochatown, Okla.
Located just a short 45 minute drive from De Queen, the unincorporated community has grown into the top tourist destination in the region. It’s been an exponential growth with so much development in just the last five years. Tourism officials consider it just short of a miracle.
Hochatown’s major draw is of course the pristine waters of Broken Bow Lake and the Mountain Fork River. But local business owners and tourism officials seized the opportunity provided by these waterways to establish the perfect summer getaway. Cabin rentals, boat cruises, fine dining and much more offer near limitless entertainment. The resort vibe offers a chance for tens of thousands of people living in metropolitan Texas to get away from the hustle and relax in the quiet peace of the Ouachita Mountains.
It’s an incredible story of tourism and economic development. And it’s a story some think is worth telling. This week our news director, Patrick Massey, sat down and spoke with our very own Jay Wesley Lindly, who this year launched a podcast dedicated to telling the story of Hochatown. In Hosting Hochatown, Lindly along with co-host Shiloh Brock Martin sit down with the pioneers of Hochatown’s tourism boom. They speak with business owners, economic development officials, water authority commissioners and more to compile the story of Hochatown – not just what it is, but who it is.
Here is that interview:

Hosting Hochatown is one of a number of growing podcasts featured on The Ouachita Podcasts network. But it’s one that specifically shares the economic miracle that is Hochatown, Okla. And no doubt, Lindly and Martin will find much more to talk about as they explore this corner of Oklahoma, what it offers and the people who are making it happen.
Hosthing Hochatown can be found at www.ouachitapodcasts.com or wherever you find podcasts.
Heat advisory continues into fourth day    07/29/2021
The heat advisory covering Southwest Arkansas, Southeast Oklahoma and Northeast Texas continues into its fourth day.
Summer hit in full swing this week, with temperatures across the area reaching the high 90s and with heat index values as high as 110.
That heat wave continues today, with heat index values expected between 105 and 110. The current heat advisory includes Sevier, Howard, Little River and McCurtain Counties in the local area. The advisory includes the period between 12 noon today and 7 p.m. this evening.
It can’t be said enough that hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heath illnesses to occur. If working outside, drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks in cool areas. Check on elderly neighbors and always check your backseat to make sure no kids or pets are left behind.

De Queen Elementary, Primary cancel in-person registrations    07/29/2021

Out of abundance of caution, both De Queen Elementary and Primary schools are changing their registration formats for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. There will be no in person registration for returning students in K-5. Parents will receive a phone call from their child’s teacher on Aug. 4.

If your child is new to the district, (they did not attend DeQueen Public Schools/Preschool last year), there will be an in-person registration event for these students only. This will be on Aug. 4, 2021. Times are 9 a.m. to p.m. and 3-6 p.m.. Parents will need to bring proof of address, shot record, birth certificate, and social security card for their child.

Please remember that only the parent/guardian and new to district student will be allowed in the building.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact De Queen Primary at 642-3100 or De Queen Elementary at 584-4311.


Por precaución, estamos cambiando nuestra registración. NO habrá inscripción en persona para los estudiantes que regresan en K-5. Los padres recibirán una llamada telefónica del maestro de su hijo el 4 de Agosto.

Si su hijo/a es nuevo/a en el distrito (no asistió a las Escuelas Públicas/Preescolar de DeQueen el año pasado), habrá un registro en persona solo para estos estudiantes. Esto será el 4 de Agosto de 2021. Los tiempos son 9-1 y 3-6. Usted tendrá que traer prueba de dirección, registro de vacunación, certificado de nacimiento y tarjeta de seguro social para su hijo.

Por favor recuerde que solamente el padre/guardián y nuevos al distrito se permitirá la entrada al edificio.

Si tiene alguna pregunta, no dude en ponerse en contacto con

la Primaria de De Queen al 642-3100 ó Elemental de De Queen al 584-4311.

¡Gracias por su apoyo!

Healthy Connections bringing “pop-up” COVID-19 vaccination program to DQ Aug. 4    07/29/2021

In response to the Delta Variant of Covid-19 in our area, Healthy Connections is taking its testing and vaccination program on the road for three pop-up stops in August.

Non-profit Healthy Connections will offer Covid-19 testing and vaccinations from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.in the parking lots of the following locations on the following dates:

·        Monday, August 2: Healthy Connections Malvern, 900 Martin Luther King Blvd., Malvern

·        Tuesday, August 3: Healthy Connections Hot Springs Central, 3604 Central Ave., Hot Springs

·        Wednesday, August 4: Healthy Connections De Queen, 1206 W. Collin Raye Dr., De Queen

At these events, Healthy Connections staff will collect insurance information from patients. But the result will be both services being offered at no cost to patients. The test is the “simple test” that does not require a deep penetration of the nostrils for testing. Results from this test will be available in 3 to 5 days.

Learn more about Healthy Connections and the Covid-19 testing and vaccination program atwww.gettestedfree.com.

As of July 28, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting more than 15,000 active cases and more than 1,000 hospitalizations in the state of Arkansas.

Healthy Connections Community Health Network clinics are also testing and giving vaccinations. In addition to the “free” test, clinics also offer the Covid-19 Rapid Test. This is done for $60 (cash or credit card only) and results are available in as little as 15 minutes. Insurance is not filed on rapid tests. The regular (free) test and Covid-19 vaccines are also available at clinic locations. Call 888-710-8220 for appointments.

Last summer, Healthy Connections took its testing pop-ups to communities across southwest and central Arkansas. More than 5,000 tests were done at these pop-up events.

Arrest warrants served against numerous DQ residents on felony drug charges    07/28/2021
DE QUEEN – Arrest warrants were served against numerous De Queen residents last week on felony drug charges.

Those arrests include 49-year-old Robin McCollum of De Queen, who was arrested on July 22 on felony charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug premise. An arrest warrant was served the same day against 20-year-old Amber McCollum, also of De Queen, on charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug premise.

Rosemary Whitaker, age 69, was also apprehended by officers on July 22. Her last known address is the same as Robin McCollum. Whitaker has been charged with one felony count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond was set at $5,000.

Other arrests made on July 22 include 33-year-old Dustin Hill of De Queen on the charge of delivery of methamphetamine or cocaine; 52-year-old Gregory Dixon of De Queen on two counts of possession of a controlled substance; 56-year-old Clifford Hill of De Queen on two counts of possession of controlled substances, two counts of drug paraphernalia and one count of maintaining a drug premise; 40-year-old Shannon Birmingham of De Queen on a single count of maintaining a drug premise; and 23-year-old Kelvin Austin of De Queen on one count of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of firearms by a felon.

All charges were filed in the Sevier County Circuit Court last week.

Bond was set at $50,000 for Robin McCollum, Amber McCollum, Clifford Hill and Kelvin Austin. Bond was set at $15,000 for Dustin Hill and Gregory Dixon. Bond is $20,000 for Shannon Birmingham.

Dierks Pine Tree Festival this weekend     07/28/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harvest Food Bank pantry returning to Sevier Co. Aug. 18     07/28/2021

LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank is returning to Sevier County with its USDA Commodity Mobile Pantry next month.

Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute food directly from their truck on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church of Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia Street in Lockesburg.

Vehicles are asked to start lining up on W. Magnolia and the church parking lot on the morning of the distribution event.

The next Mobile Pantry will be on Nov. 10. With CDC precautions and recommendations against the Coronavirus still in place, Harvest officials say they are taking every measure to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as “drive-thru” distributions, with food boxes being loaded directly into vehicles. Recipients will not be allowed to exit the vehicle or park to pick up food.

Recipients must bring photo identification or proof of address for verifying they are a resident of Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one box per household and 2 households per vehicle. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Health Unit reminds parents of need to vaccinate children before start of school year    07/28/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Health Department is reminding parents about the need to get their children their required immunization shots before the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Deborah Hedge, administrator of the local health unit, says various immunizations are needed before children can enter certain grades in school, and she says now is the best time to make an appointment to get the shots.

Hedge says the Health Department also has the COVID vaccine available for anyone age 12 and older. To schedule an appointment, call the Health Department at 870-642-2535.

The Health Department is open Monday, Wednesday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Tuesdays 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CADC utility assistance programs accepting applications    07/28/2021

DE QUEEN – The Central Arkansas Development Council is currently taking applications from Sevier County residents for its 2021 Extended Winter CARES LIHEAP Utility Assistance program. This program will assist with gas and propane utility bills only. The extended gas program will assist customers with past due bills or shut off notices. Only crisis assistance will be available throughout this program.

Crisis benefits are available up to $2,000. Applicants who previously applied are eligible to apply again. Applications for the CADC LIHEAP Summer Program for electric customers began being accepted Monday, July 26. This program will provide up to $2,000 in electricity bill benefits and funds will be disbursed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Another invasive species put on watch list in Arkansas: Box Moth    07/28/2021

As if army worms, giant salvinia and cogongrass weren’t enough, the Box Tree Moth, an invasive insect already a serious pest in Europe, may now have been accidentally introduced into the United States through landscaping materials.

Jon Zawislak, extension entomologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the moth may have come to the U.S. through a shipment of boxwoods from Canada this spring.

“Canadian boxwoods were shipped to seven states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee and many of the potentially infested plants were then moved to other states – including Arkansas,” Zawislak said. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is looking to find all infested boxwoods and destroy them as soon as possible before these devastating moths have a chance to become established.”

Zawislak said USDA-APHIS is working closely with the affected states, including Arkansas to find and destroy the imported plants in the receiving facilities. The agency is also trying to trace the sale of imported plants to determine additional locations of potentially infected boxwoods.

USDA-APHIS will provide box tree traps and lures for surveys in the receiving facilities and other locations that received potentially infected plants, he said.

“If you bought a boxwood plant during spring 2021, please inspect it for signs of the moth and report any findings to your local USDA office or state agriculture department,” Zawislak said.

In Arkansas, any findings should be reported to Paul Shell, plant inspection and quarantine program manager for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. Call 501-225-1598 or emailpaul.shell@agriculture.arkansas.gov.

On May 26, USDA-APHIS halted importation of boxwoods and two other species, including euonymus and hollies, which are also known to host the moth.

“This is the first known introduction in the United States, and if we can act quickly and thoroughly, we can prevent this pest from becoming established,” Shell said.

How to identify box tree moths

Pupae typically first appear in April or May and will be present through the summer and into the fall, depending on the local climate and timing of generations. Adults first emerge from the overwintering generation between April and July, depending on climate and temperature.  Subsequent generations may be active through June to October.

Adults have two color forms, light and dark, and typically live for two weeks after emergence. The wings of the light form moth are white to off-white in the center, with a broad, dusky margin. The dark form is dark gray with two small triangular pots on each wing.

Female box tree moths lay flattened eggs singly or in overlapping clusters of five to more than 20 at a time in a gelatinous mass on the underside of boxwood leaves. Eggs are approximately 1/16 inch in diameter. Female moths can produce more than 42 egg masses in their lifetime.  Eggs typically hatch within four to six days.

Once they emerge, the caterpillars will begin feeding on foliage and spinning webs around leaves and twigs to hide and protect themselves from predators. They can grow to be 1.5 inches. The caterpillars are green with. both black stripes and thinner white stripes running the length of their bodies. They also have rows of black spots, from which emerge short, thin spines.

“It may be a low likelihood that we will find any here in Arkansas, but we’re better off safe than sorry,” Zawislak said. “When a new insect species is accidentally introduced, we typically have a very short window of time to find and eradicate it before it becomes permanently established and impossible to get rid of. A lot of agencies are working hard right now to see if we can locate and eliminate this pest right away.”

For more information and pictures of box tree moths, visithttps://www.uaex.uada.edu/environment-nature/ar-invasives/invasive-insects/box-tree-moth.aspx.


Sevier County Senior Citizen Centers closing again due to rising COVID-19     07/27/2021

The Sevier County Senior Citizens Center announced Monday it will again close due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases both locally and across the state.

Officials with the senior citizens center said the closure will remain in effect until further notice. Home delivery of meals to local senior citizens will however continue.

The surge of new COVID-19 cases seen across Arkansas is now making itself seen in Southwest Arkansas. Active cases in Sevier County more than doubled from just a week ago and now total 43. Total cases grew correspondingly to 2,911. Reported deaths, fortunately, have not increased since the beginning of the year and remain at 24.

The rising COVID-19 caseload is also being seen in Little River County, where 43 active cases are currently being reported. Total cases number 1,340 and deaths remain at 43.

Howard County is reporting 47 active cases with another 44 reported in Polk County.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 621 new cases of the virus on Monday. Active cases did see a net decrease, falling by 650 to over 14,000 currently confirmed or probable active cases. Deaths saw their highest single-day increase in months with 23 Arkansans passing away from the virus between Sunday and Monday.

Hospitalizations are also growing across the state and are nearing the four-digit mark with 980 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. That’s an increase of 61 between Sunday and Monday.

Health officials say most of the new hospitalizations seen in the state are among younger Arkansans – a trend explained at least partially by the reluctance of younger residents to get their vaccine and by the spread of the virus’ Delta variant, which tends to target younger people. The variant is also more contagious and carries the potential for more serious health effects as well.

The of health experts remains, get the vaccine. And if that’s not doable, take precautions such as mask wearing in public and social distancing to help limit the spread of the virus.

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

COVID-19 vaccines are currently available at many health providers and pharmacies across the state. Vaccines are widespread and currently available for all Arkansans aged 12 and up. For more information on where to obtain vaccines, and for more info on COVID-19 in general, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

Logan Lindly to be new Leopards Head Basketball Coach     07/27/2021

The De Queen Leopards will have a new head basketball coach starting in the 2021-2022 school year.

Logan Lindly will be moving from his former position of Junior Girls Head Basketball Coach to his new position of Head Coach for the Leopards Boys Basketball Team. Lindly is a graduate of Oklahoma State and has several years of experience coaching boys basketball in Oklahoma including a trio of conference championships.

Lindly stated he is excited about the opportunity. In a statement he added that, to be a part of a group of young men who play hard and play for each other is something that made hime want to be a part of Leopard Boys Basketball. In addition he said he looks forward to working with Coach Bradshaw who is a good coach and works just as hard, if not harder, than any coach Lindly said he’s been around.

Former Lady Leopard standout Julie Adcock will replace Lindly as the Lady Cubs Head Coach for the 2021-2022 season.

AHS Band Director Mark Pounds to be next ABA president     07/27/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School Band Director Mark Pounds will serve as the next president of the Arkansas Bandmasters Association (ABA). He will officially receive the president’s gavel during the association’s annual convention this week in Little Rock.

Pounds has been planning and working on the 2021 ABA Convention since last year in order to schedule and plan workshops and other activities for band directors from all around the state of Arkansas. Over 300 band directors are scheduled to be in attendance.

Mr. Pounds has been the band director at Ashdown since 1995 and the 2021-2022 school year will be his 30th year of teaching band. He received his undergraduate degree from Henderson State University, his Masters in Administration from Arkansas State University, and is a Gulf War Veteran.

While at Ashdown, under the guidance of Pounds, the band has received numerous Sweepstakes Awards, and many students have earned places in all-region bands, all-state bands and received  band scholarships to continue playing their instruments in college. Pounds has received the Brandon Award seven times at the War Memorial Marching Contest.

Arkansas seeing increase in fatal crashes, aggressive driving incidents     07/27/2021

In state news, Arkansas State Representative DeAnn Vaught is informing us that this week legislators are hearing from Arkansas law enforcement officials on the recent successes and challenges facing state troopers.

Vaught said the testimony of Col. Bill Bryant of the Arkansas State Police alerted her and other legislators to some startling statistics regarding an increase in aggressive driving and fatal accidents in the state.

In 2018, the Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division conducted 520 crash investigations involving fatal injuries. In 2019, that number was 505.

But in 2020, fatal accidents increased by 27 percent to 641 deaths across the state. Col. Bryant says 14 percent of those crashes documented excessive speed of the vehicle as a contributing factor.

So far this year, the division says they have conducted investigations of accidents resulting in more than 330 deaths.

The number of citations related to acts of aggressive driving is also on the rise.

In 2019, there were 1,064 citations issues. In 2020, there were 2,030 citations issued.

So far this year, Arkansas State Police have issued more than 2,380 citations with some documented speeds as high as 160 miles per hour.

Aggressive driving incidents have included acts of violence documented by troopers assigned to the Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division. Colonel Bryant testified the troopers and special agents confirm an explicit increase in incidents of gunfire involving motorists shooting at and into other vehicles traveling along Arkansas highways.

The Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division commanders said they are attempting to be proactive in regards to combating the increased incidents of aggressive driving – including through saturated patrols dedicated to speed enforcement.

Vaught said that while she and other legislators look for ways to support Arkansas law enforcement further, there are some ways every Arkansan can help keep our roads safer.

Arkansans are encouraged to let the troopers know they’re appreciated for what they’re doing to keep local highways safe. Likewise, citizens should speak up and let the troopers know where they are witnessing regular incidents of lawlessness on the highways. Citizens shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to the commanders at these local headquarters. Arkansas motorists traveling across the state are encouraged to call 9-1-1 and ask to be connected to the nearest state police headquarters to report incidents of dangerous driving they witness on U.S. and state highways

Heat advisory in effect today for Southwest Arkansas    07/26/2021

DE QUEEN – A heat advisory has been issued for most of the listening area for Monday as heat index values are expected to climb to between 105 and 109 degrees across the region.
The National Weather Service says these hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heat illnesses in some people.
In Arkansas, the heat advisory is in effect for Sevier, Howard, Little River, Hempstead, Nevada, Miller, Lafayette, Columbia and Union Counties.
Temperatures are expected to increase into the high 90’s as the week progresses.
With summer in full swing and the mercury rising, make sure to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.
Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 9 1 1.
Sevier County Sheriff’s Office issues statement on new private ownership of 80,000 crossing    07/26/2021
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office is informing the public that the land southwest of the Cossatot River crossing commonly referred to as 80,000 has been purchased and is no longer owned by Weyerhaeuser Co.
The private property line includes the historical parking area where people usually park to swim at the Cossatot River at the 80,000 Road crossing.
In a statement released on its Facebook page, the sheriff’s office said the new owners had planned on being generous by allowing the public to have continued access to this parking area for the rest of the 2021 summer.
Unfortunately several recent incidents have occurred that have made them change their minds. With that being said, citizens are still allowed to use the Cossatot River to swim, fish, float and any other legal purposes.
The public will however no longer have the ability to park on the private property to access the river without digital or written permission.
Officials with the sheriff’s office said they understand that this is an inconvenience but unfortunately the actions of a few have ruined access to this popular but now private spot for everyone else. Deputies will be enforcing the wishes of the owners and those who do not have permission to be there will be asked to leave.
South Carolina man killed in single-vehicle accident in Polk Co.    07/26/2021
MENA – A South Carolina man was killed in a single-vehicle accident in Polk County early Sunday morning.

According to the Arkansas State Police, 56-year-old Billy Ray Luckenbaugh of Charleston, South Carolina was traveling north on Highway 71 just south of Mena around 12:27 Sunday morning when his 2012 Ford Fiesta left the west side of the roadway and struck an embankment. The force of the impact caused the vehicle to overturn.

Luckenbaugh was pronounced dead at the scene by Polk County Coroner Brian Bowser. Road conditions were described as clear and dry by the investigating state trooper.

Free school breakfast, lunch will continue into new school year    07/26/2021

The USDA waiver implemented last year authorizing school districts in the country to provide free breakfast and lunch will continue into the next school year.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the extension of this waiver is good news for families facing other struggles during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the economic consequences caused by it.

Leopard Football Camp begins this evening    07/26/2021

DE QUEEN – The 2021 Future Leopard Football Camp at De Queen Public Schools begins this evening.

The event has been set for tonight as well as tomorrow, July 27 and a final day on July 29 at the Leopard Football Stadium. Eligible grades are kindergarten through fifth. The camp will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. each night.

Cost is $50 and includes a t-shirt.

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

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

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

3.4 magnitude earthquake detected near Mena, Waldron early Thursday morning    07/21/2021
MENA – The United States Geological Survey reported a magnitude 3.4 quake near Mena in Polk County, Arkansas early Thursday morning.

The earthquake hit just after 4 a.m. local time at a shallow depth of 6.2 miles. The exact magnitude, epicenter, and depth of the quake might be revised within the next few hours as seismologists review data and refine their calculations, or as other agencies issue their report.

Initial reports put the earthquake near Waldron and a second, 3.6 quake near Quinton in eastern Oklahoma.

USGS monitoring service identified a second report from the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) which listed the quake at magnitude 3.4 as well.

Towns or cities near the epicenter where the quake might have been felt as very weak shaking include Waldron, located 12 miles from the epicenter, and Mena 13 miles away. There were no initial reports of damage to structures or property.

Docuseries exploring Sevier County drug rehab program debuts in August    07/21/2021

DE QUEEN – The Discovery Channel’s docuseries, The Program: Prison Detox, will air with its first three episodes on Aug. 25. The series explores the drug rehabilitation program pioneered by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office – a program that has had an amazing success rate of over 70 percent since its inception.

The Program: Prison Detox takes a first-hand look at how Sevier County is handling the worst drug epidemic in American history and turning the tables on the justice system.

The staff of the Sevier County jail piloted a revolutionary program to help its community, which has been devastated by drug addiction, by offering qualified inmates the unprecedented chance to walk free if they graduate from a three-month drug rehabilitation programme.

Produced by Big City TV, part of The Content Group, the first three episodes premiere on August 25 on Discovery+ and additional episodes arrive weekly after that.

The focus of the docuseries is on the Sevier County Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program, also known as RSAT, offered to non-violent drug offenders facing felony prison sentences.

The success of that program prompted the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office to partner with other groups, agencies and churches in the area to offer those substance abuse and counseling services to the broader community. The new program is called the Community Outreach Center.

The Outreach Center, like the RSAT program, is funded through a federal grant – no local tax dollars are funding the program. The $50,000 grant will pay for a year of the program with the option to renew this fall. The grant is paying for a part-time case manager/counselor to help volunteers navigate through the program, which will be offered at no cost. Programs offered through the center range from AA/NA classes and mental health counseling to substance abuse treatment, religious services and parental classes.

Organizers hope to add career development classes, GED courses and other programs designed to help those fighting addiction break that cycle and become productive members of the community.

Organizers say they have a lot of faith the Outreach Center will see a similar level of success – if not more – than the jail’s RSAT program. In fact, that program has seen such success, and received so much publicity, law enforcement agencies across the country have reached out to Sevier County for advice on modeling their own programs.

Both Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry and Jail Administrator Chris Wolcott praised the organizations who have partnered to help create the Outreach Center, particularly area churches. Gentry said the sheriff’s office is extremely grateful to First Baptist Church of De Queen, which donated an office in its east wing for the program’s coordinator. The program already has a full list of meetings and recovery services scheduled this week and into the future.

For Wolcott, the Outreach Center will be a success if it even helps one person fight their addiction and stay out of jail. For more information the program, call 870-784-7969 or 870-582-539. The center’s office located at First Baptist Church of De Queen is also open 8 a.m. to 12 noon Monday through Friday as well as additional hours in the evening.

Two convicted Sevier County murderers receive recommendations against commutation    07/21/2021

The Arkansas Parole Board has issued its monthly recommendations for pardons and sentence commutations.

People from the Southwest Arkansas region receiving “With Merit” recommendations for pardons, include, from Howard County, Ricky Williams, for a sentence related to his conviction for possession of a controlled substance-cocaine.

Those receiving “Without Merit” recommendations for commutations include Samuel Marron of Little River County, convicted of two counts of negligent homicide and three counts of second-degree battery, and Carolyn Diane Zachry of Little River County for a capital murder conviction.

David Wingfield’s commutation request also received a “Without Merit” recommendation from the Arkansas Parole Board. Wingfield, of Hempstead County, was convicted of four counts of rape and sexual assault, and was sentenced as a habitual offender.

Two Sevier County residents also received a “Without Merit” recommendation from the Arkansas Parole Board: Joe Barnhill, convicted of capital murder and Joe Copeland, convicted of murder in the first degree.

In Arkansas, the Parole Board has the authority to assist the governor in exercising his authority to grant pardons and commutations.

A commutation is a reduction in a sentence imposed by a court. It may mean either a lesser term of imprisonment, or reduces a sentence to time served.

A pardon is an act of forgiveness issued by the governor for a crime that has been committed. It may be issued to people either in or out of prison.

Commutation or pardon requests deemed by the Parole Board as “With Merit” are formal recommendations to the governor in favor of the request. “Without Merit” recommendations indicate that the board does not approve of the inmate or parolee’s request. The governor has the authority to accept or reject either Parole Board recommendation.

Horatio Public Schools encourages vaccines, precautions as new school year nears    07/21/2021

The Horatio School District is reaching out to parents, teachers, school staff and coaches in hopes of encouraging more COVID-19 vaccinations before the start of the school year.

In a letter sent out earlier this Month, the district said it is important to start vaccinations as soon as possible to achieve full protection in the next few weeks before the start of school.

District officials cited the CDC’s July 9 statement that “children and adolescents benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person school in the fall of 2021 is a priority.”

However, despite numerous efforts the district said vaccination rates remain very low in Arkansas. This, officials say, threatens the district’s ability to return students safety to in-person learning and other activities. Currently Arkansas’ vaccination rate is hovering around just 35 percent.

The district is encouraging all students aged 12 years and up, including college students, to get the vaccination as soon as possible. Especially given the rise of the Delta variant, which appears to be more contagious than previous versions encountered in Arkansas. The virus is making itself prevalent once again through what Arkansas health officials are calling a third-wave of infections. The Delta Variant in particular appears to target younger patients than the original virus, with more than three-quarters of new infections among those younger than 55. Around 12 percent of confirmed recent transmissions have been among children.

The Horatio School District is reminding its community that COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe and easily obtained by everyone in Arkansas 12 and older. They cited the 94 percent effectiveness rate of these vaccines preventing hospitalization due to COVID infection.

Finally, the district is encouraging parents of those students too young to be vaccinated to work with school leadership to support a plan for the safe return to school this fall. In addition, the district said parents should consider reintroducing and reinforcing defensive strategies against the virus including frequent handwashing, physical distancing and wearing masks in public.

Public gator hunt permits awarded for Little River, Millwood Lake; private hunt will be open    07/21/2021

Thirty-three hunters drew permits to pursue alligators on public land during the 2021 season, but many opportunities remain for those who didn’t draw for public hunts.

Those drawn to hunt alligators on public land this fall include two Lockesburg residents selected to hunt on the Little River. Several people ranging from Texarkana to El Dorado were drawn for public gator hunts on Millwood Lake. Both Little River and Millwood Lake are known for having some of the biggest – if not the biggest – gators in the state.

Hunters who have access to private land in the alligator zones of south Arkansas can hunt through a quota-based system similar to bear hunting and private land elk hunting.

The season dates are Sept. 17-20 and Sept. 24-27. The application period was June 15-30.

Anyone can obtain the private land alligator permit through the AGFC’s online licensing system for $5 in addition to their hunting license. They will be able to participate in the alligator hunt on private land they have permission to hunt until the quota has been met in that zone. It will be up to each hunter to call in before their hunt every night to the wildlife hotline (1-800-440-1477) to see if the quota has been met and if they can continue their hunt.

Another change from last year that remains in place is the use of online hunter orientations. The alligator hunt orientation and training manual at agfc.com lays out all the most important details and frequently asked questions about the hunt.

Visit www.agfc.com/alligator for more information on the season. The private-land alligator permit is available through the “Buy Licenses” button at agfc.com.

Leopard Football Camp scheduled for next week

DE QUEEN – Registration remains underway for the 2021 Future Leopard Football Camp at De Queen Public Schools, scheduled for next week.

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

Cost is $50 and includes a t-shirt.

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

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

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

Local Extension Homemaker Councils provides relationships, seek new members    07/21/2021

DE QUEEN – Research has found that being socially active is as equally healthy as quitting smoking or exercise.   In one recent studyu, BYU professors Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith report people with stronger social relationships had a 50 percent increased likelihood of survival than those with weaker social relationships.

When someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks. This effect is not isolated to older adults. Relationships provide a level of protection across all ages.

Extension Homemakers Club (EHC) members not only benefit from being socially active, they also gain knowledge and skills through monthly program topics, special interest workshops and project activities. Members come up with ideas for programs, which are developed cooperatively with the Extension agent to meet interests. One of the EHC’s core tenants is that education is a character builder and a lifelong process that is never finished.

Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council (AEHC) members keep up-to-date in these rapidly changing times through lessons on all phases of family living and special interest topics presented by speakers, educators and other club members.

In addition to being social and educated, they also give back to their community by choosing a yearly volunteer service project according to their interests.

And, of course, they like to have fun, too. EHC members are a diverse group. They like to learn everything from A to Z to better themselves for their families, neighborhoods, and for their community. They are young and old, men and women, working or retired. They come from diverse backgrounds and a rich history. They’ve come a long way from the home demonstration era of the 1900’s.

If the Extension Homemakers Council is something you’re interested in, organizers invite you to give them a shout. Sevier County currently has two clubs looking for new members, but are happy to start a new club as well.

The De Queen EHC meets on the second Wednesday each month at the REA Building in De Queen at 9:30 a.m.

The Gillham EHC meets the second Friday of each month at members’ homes in Gillham at 2 p.m.

For more information,contact Janet Cantrell, Sevier County Extension Agent-Family and Consumer Sciences at 870-584-3013 or jcantrell@uada.edu.

Armyworms: An invading force in Arkansas    07/21/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Extension Service is informing area residents an invading force is on its way: fall armyworms. It appears the fall armyworms surging through Arkansas pastures and lawns apparently don’t understand the concept of a killing freeze.

Like the old saw, this army travels on its stomach, and searches for tender plants to eat. The armyworms can often render a lush pasture nearly barren in a day.

Right now, biologists say they are seeing populations well above treatment thresholds in southern, southwestern and western Arkansas from Mena into Fort Smith and Van Buren.

Numbers have been increasing each week for the last 2 1/2-3 weeks. Fall armyworm catches have been highest in the following:

-heavily fertilized Bermudagrass hay fields

-irrigated Bermudagrass hay fields

-hay fields where Signalgrass is present

-newly planted bermudagrass and crabgrass fields

Arkansas biologists say it’s been a pretty intense year for these invasive creepers.

The deep freeze that took over much of Arkansas, Texas and other parts of the South back in February should’ve put the kibosh on fall armyworms.

Because of the extended rains during the spring, many ranchers had both quantity and quality issues in their first cutting of hay, making it all the more imperative to protect what’s left in meadows and pastures, for future grazing or cutting.

Scout pastures

John Jennings, professor and extension forage specialist for the Division of Agriculture, said lots of infestations are being reported.

Often the armyworm moths are attracted to the most tender growing forage, so new growth on recently cut hay fields, well-managed pastures and newly planted summer forages like millet, sorghum, and crabgrass are at greatest risk.

Damage from small armyworms often shows up as light-colored grass tips similar to frost or as small patches of green tissue missing from the leaf surface called windowpane feeding. Damage from larger worms is more obvious with leaves and young stems being eaten.

Producers should scout all fields closely with in-field observations and not from the pickup windshield.

Find additional information at the extension armyworm page; https://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/pest-management/insect/armyworms.aspx

Download the fact sheets: “Managing Armyworms in Pastures and Fields,” https://www.uaex.edu/publications/pdf/FSA-7083.pdf and “Fall Armyworm Recognition and Management” at https://bit.ly/3wFGKen.

State law enforcement agencies warn against “family emergency” scams    07/21/2021

State law enforcement officials are currently warning Arkansans about scam callers who will pull at your heartstrings and attempt to steal your money.

Potential targets will receive a panicked phone call from a person claiming to be a relative, oftentimes a grandchild who is in jail or the hospital, who needs money right away. The con artists will ask for money to be wired to them immediately and even pose as an attorney to threaten callers. With wire transfers being similar to cash, the money cannot be retrieved.

Law enforcement agencies recommend the following strategies to avoid falling victim to the “family emergency” scheme:

-Resist pressure to act quickly.

-Never give or wire money based on any unsolicited phone call.

-Verify the family member’s location by directly calling another family member, the grandchild or the hospital or jail.

-Do not send money to an unknown account or entity.

-Ask the caller for his or her name, and if they cannot provide it, hang up immediately.

-Have a plan in place when family members are traveling to easily identify whether a need is genuine.

For more information and tips on how to avoid a scam, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

SWAR seeing small rise in COVID cases as possible “third wave” hits Arkansas    07/20/2021
DE QUEEN – Monday’s figures from the Arkansas Department of Health show a growing number of COVID-19 cases in Sevier County and the surrounding area.
According to those new figures, active cases rose to 24 on Monday, an increase of three from Friday.
Little River County saw a greater increase, with active cases growing from 16 on Friday to 28 on Monday. Howard County saw a slight uptick as well with a total of 21 active cases detected as of Monday afternoon. Polk County is reporting two more cases now than it did last week with 20 currently confirmed or probable active cases of the virus.
State health officials say the state is currently experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases, suggesting Arkansas may be seeing a “third wave” of infections – particularly among young, unvaccinated adults. New daily cases surpassed a thousand several days last week. Active cases across the state numbered over 10,000 as of Monday afternoon while deaths surpassed 6,000 over the weekend.
Arkansas’ sales tax holiday weekend set for Aug. 7-8    07/20/2021
The Arkansas Sales Tax holiday is scheduled for next month just in time to help parents get their kids ready for the upcoming school year.
This year’s sales tax holiday begins Saturday, August 7, at 12:01 a.m. and continues through Sunday, August 8, at 11:59 p.m. State and local sales taxes will not be collected on the purchase of certain products. All retailers are required to participate.
The sales tax holiday covers clothing, footwear, school supplies, art supplies and instructional materials. The 2021 sales tax holiday now includes electronic devices such as computers, printers, tablets, e-readers and cell phones.
What’s included
There are restrictions on these purchases. Clothing must be less than $100 per item, but there is no limit on the number of items.
While most clothing is covered, items such as patterns, fabric, and sewing notions are not included. The list of qualified clothing is extensive, covering almost everything from diapers to wedding apparel. Shoes, undergarments, belts, and outerwear are included. There is not a cost limit for electronic devices.
See this year’s list of items and restrictions at https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/exciseTaxOffice/HolidayItemized.pdf
Parents of De Queen students are reminded that De Queen Public Schools will furnish all school supplies this year for students in grades K-5th. Your child will only need to bring a backpack and a reusable water bottle.
Arkansas Cooperative Extension announces registration for fall Master Gardeners program    07/20/2021
Interest in gardening surged during the COVID-19 pandemic as Arkansans took to the outdoors, and that interest doesn’t seem to be fading.
The Arkansas Master Gardeners program, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, continues to be the state’s largest horticulture volunteer and education organization. Registration for its fall training, set to begin Sept. 22, is now open.
This year’s training will be conducted via Zoom and will include five day-long sessions on Sept. 22, Sept. 29, Oct. 6, Oct. 20, and Oct. 27. Training will be scheduled 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
The cost is $75 and includes 40 hours of training and the Master Gardener handbook.

Trainees will learn about basic botany, soils and fertilizer, pest control and pesticide use. In addition, there will be classes on landscape design, vegetable and fruit gardening, annuals and perennials and other topics of interest to homemakers. Each new Master Gardener is also paired with a mentor in their county.

Organizers say it’s the program’s mentors that set this volunteer program apart from others. They provide guidance to new gardeners and help answer questions.

Volunteerism is crucial to many Cooperative Extension Service programs, including Master Gardeners. Members complete 40 hours of volunteer service after their training. To maintain membership, they complete 20 education hours and 20 hours of community service each year.

Starting with just four counties and 40 members in 1988, the Arkansas Master Gardener program is now 3,200 volunteers strong in 67 counties.

For a program application, contact your county agent through your county Cooperative Extension Service office. A directory of county offices is available at  https://www.uaex.uada.edu/counties/. In Sevier County that number is (870) 584-3013 and in Little River County, (870) 898-7224 and in Howard County, (870) 845-7517.

For more information about the Master Gardener program in Arkansas, visitwww.uaex.uada.edu/master-gardeners. To learn more about other extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @AR_Extension.

Broken Bow First Assembly to host Mega Sports Camp in August    07/20/2021

Parents looking to drop some more fun into their child’s summer are invited to enroll them in the Mega Sports Camp at Broken Bow First Assembly of God. The church is offering kids in Kindergarten thru the fifth grade an awesome time through team sports, character building concepts and more.

At the Mega Sports Camp, youth participants can choose between football, basketball, soccer, baseball or cheer. Church leaders say it doesn’t matter if you child played all their life or just started yesterday, this camp is seeking to help improve their skills. Drills and practice games will be held to help get kids focused on the fundamentals that make athletes great while also creating a positive and encouraging environment.

Between sports sessions coaches will lead in songs and help kids experience inspiring sports and Bible stories to help with character-building activities.

All area youth are invited to attend the Mega Sports Camp at Broken Bow First Assembly of God, scheduled for Aug. 2-5. A small meal will be served at 5:30 p.m. each evening. Camp begins at 6 p.m. and ends at eight. You can find more information online at www.brokenbowfirst.org or call the church office at (580) 584-6546.

Sevier County Extension Service will host SafeServ classes    07/20/2021

Total food safety begins with ServSafe training and certification. In every operation and in any situation, food safety must work. Through the Cooperative Extension Service, instructors offer training and certifications for the ServSafe Food Handler, ServSafe Manager, and ServSafe Instructor & Proctor programs. ServSafe® has been the industry national standard for years, training more than one million managers and employees how to receive, store, prepare and serve food safely.

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 Service will be offering ServSafe Manager Training on August 16 and 17, 2021 at UA Cossatot – Adams Building. Classes will be from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. The participation fee is $140.00; this includes the book, test, instruction, and proctoring fee.

A ServSafe Manager Training will be offered in Spanish only on September 13 and 14 at UA Cossatot – Adams Building. Classes will be from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Registration deadline for the August class is July 29. To request a registration form or for more information, please call Janet Cantrell, CEA-FCS, Sevier County Extension at 870-584-3013 or email jcantrell@uaex.edu. Make checks payable to Cooperative Extension Service. Please write ServSafe on the memo line.

DQ Health and Wellness Pharmacy applauded by Gov. Hutchinson for vaccination effort   07/19/2021

De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy was recently recognized by the State of Arkansas for its part in the state’s COVID-19 vaccination effort, distributing over 8,000 since the rollout began. Pictured are Elee Coleman and Torrence, both pharmacists at De Queen Health and Wellness, after they picked up the first batch of vaccines delivered to De Queen via airplane earlier this year.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy has been recognized by the State of Arkansas and Gov. Asa Hutchinson for its effort in vaccinating Arkansans against COVID-19 and helping to bring an end to the current pandemic.
The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy was the first in Sevier County to receive shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine during the initial rollout of the state’s vaccination campaign. In fact, the pharmacy’s two vaccination pharmacists picked up the vaccines after they were delivered via airplane to the Sevier County Airport.

Since those early days of the state’s vaccination effort, the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy has vaccinated over 8,000 people.

In a letter, Gov. Hutchinson praised the pharmacy and its efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. As one of the top pharmacies for COVID-19 vaccinations in the southwest region of the state, Gov. Hutchinson said he commends De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy for its efficiency, perseverance and adaptability in the vaccination campaign.

Buchanan announces bid for Ninth West Judicial prosecutor   07/19/2021

LITTLE RIVER COUNTY – Next year’s election for Prosecuting Attorney of Arkansas’ Ninth West Judicial District has its first candidate.

Mickey Buchanan of Little River County officially announced late last week his intention to seek election to the position in 2022. The prosecuting attorney for the Ninth West Judicial District includes jurisdiction over Sevier, little River, Howard and Pike Counties in Southwest Arkansas.

In his announcement, Buchanan said he is a lifelong resident of Little River County. He is married to Melanie Click and together they have two children. He is a U.S. veteran who served during the Vietnam War. In all, Buchanan said he has 40 years of experience in handling criminal cases in circuit and district courts in Arkansas. In addition, he said he has worked closely with law enforcement and all other members of the judicial system during his career.

Currently, this position is held by Erin Hunter. Hunter was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson as prosecuting attorney for the Ninth West Judicial District after Bryan Chesshir, who formerly held the seat, was elected as a circuit court judge. Because of this appointment, Hunter is not eligible to seek election next year.

Chris McKinney of Hot Springs wins Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival   07/19/2021

Congrats to Chris McKinney of Hot Springs for winning the 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival hosted by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce on Saturday. He took first place and the $1,500 grand prize with a 6.2lbs bass on Dierks Lake.

DE QUEEN – The results are in from the 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival, held this past weekend on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes.

This year’s biggest bass was a 6.2lbs largemouth caught on Dierks Lake by Chris McKinney of Hot Springs. That catch earned him top place and the $1,500 cash prize.

The second place bass was caught by Russell Lockhart of Mena on De Queen Lake and weighted 5.88lbs. Dakota Bailey took third place with a 5.62lbs bass on Dierks Lake while Chris McKinney took fourth place in addition to the top spot with a 5.42lbs bass caught also caught on Dierks Lake.

Fifth place went to David Teer with a 5.39 bass, again caught on Dierks Lake.

Officials with the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the annual fishing tournament, said this year’s event went great despite several cancellations forced by high lake levels. Anglers were greeted with some great weather and fishing during Saturday’s tournament.

As COVID cases increase across Arkansas, figures remain stable in SWAR   07/19/2021

DE QUEEN – Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County remained the same last week, beginning the week and ending the week at 21. Currently, figures from the Arkansas Department of Health are only updated on week days so updated figures from the weekend were not available Monday morning. Total cases also saw a corresponding increase in Sevier County to 2,870. Deaths have not increased since nearly the beginning of the year and remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting 16 active cases of the virus. Cumulative cases number 1,295 since spring 2020. Deaths due to COVID-19 in Little River County did not increase last week and remain at 43.

Howard County is reporting 17 active cases at this time. Total cases number 1,708. Deaths remain at 25.

Active cases in Polk County currently number 18. Total cases rose last week to 2,068. Deaths did not increase last week and remain at 74.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health continues to report a consistent increase in new cases detected each day. On Friday, over 1,300 cases were reported across the state alongside an additional 11 deaths. Deaths due to the virus now number 5,992 since the spring of 2020. Active cases also saw a sizable increase on Friday, rising by 671 to a current total of 9.750. Hospitalizations increased by 12 to leave 681 Arkansans hospitalized by the virus as of Friday.

MLX to host Feeder-Livestock Producer Meeting Aug. 6    07/19/2021

McDaniel Livestock Exchange will host a Feeder-Livestock Producer Meeting on Friday, Aug. 6. The meeting will take place in the McDaniel Livestock Exchange conference room, located at 17251 Highway 71W in Valliant, Okla. Dinner will be provided and those interested in attending are asked to RSVP at (580) 933-7500.

Car Show benefit scheduled in Lockesburg for Courtney Angel    07/19/2021

LOCKESBURG – A benefit car show has been scheduled to support a Lockesburg woman as she battles against a 2020 cancer diagnosis.

The benefit car show will be held Aug. 14 in support of Courtney Angel of Lockesburg. Organizers say Angel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 and after five months of chemotherapy she recently had what is hopefully her last surgery. Angel is a mother of five.

The car show benefit will be held to help raise funds in support of Angel’s treatment. Registration will be held the day of the show, Aug. 14, from eight to 10 that morning. An opening ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance. Judging starts at 10:30 a.m. An awards ceremony will be held after as well as a 50/50 raffle.

Entry fee is $20 for a participant’s first vehicle and $15 for each addition entry. Awards will be given to the following categories: Top 30’s Car or Truck, Best of Show Truck, Best of Show Car, Courtney’s Choice, Clunker (which must arrive under its own power), Junker (which must be trailered, pushed or pulled) and Project (not finished but on its way) and, finally, Rat Rod.

Food, drinks and snow cones will also be available during the car show.

Domtar announces plan to restart shuttered paper mill   07/16/2021
ASHDOWN – Good news on the economic front for Little River County, with Domtar Corp. announcing Thursday its plans to restart a shuttered paper machine at its Ashdown facility.

Domtar announced last August it would permanently close down the A62 paper machine, ending the Ashdown facility’s paper mill operations. Company officials said the closure was a result of drastically reduced paper demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure was expected to save the company around $200 million but resulted in the laying off of 109 employees.

Domtar however told Arkansas Business it now plans to restart the Ashdown-based paper mill as demand for copy and printer paper increases as more people return to work and offices reopen across the country.

In a news release, Domtar Senior Vice President Rob Melton said demand for paper is recovering alongside the broader economy.

It’s unsure at this time how many of the jobs lost last year will return alongside the restarted paper mill operations. Domtar officials said the company is working with union leaders as part of its evaluation of staffing needs. Little River County Judge Mike Cranford told Arkansas Business resuming the paper mill will also provide more employment opportunities for loggers and “put timber merchants in a better position to sell it at a higher price.”

Earlier this year, Domtar confirmed it was in talks for a possible merger or outright sale to the Canadian-based company, Paper Excellence. Officials with both companies said the possible $3 billion merger would not result in the loss of jobs at either of the two companies’ facilities.

The merger is expected to be finalized later this year.

Dierks Water and Sewer Departments under investigation for financial irregularities   07/16/2021

Submitted by www.southwestarkansasradio.com/B99.5

From our sister station in Dierks:

DIERKS – Law enforcement personnel and state auditors are conducting an investigation into various financial transactions within the Dierks Water and Sewer Departments.  According to a report released Wednesday, the city failed to submit information for an audit of the water and sewer system for the calendar years 2015-2019.  State auditors say they will issue a report concerning the questionable transactions, once the investigation is complete.

In the report released Wednesday, state auditors allege finding a variety of matters that are non-compliant with state law and accounting practices in 2018 and 2019. The findings include unsupported liability accounts of $111,356 in 2019 and an additional $76,309 in 2018.

The city also traditionally gives $5,000 each year to the Dierks Chamber of Commerce for the Pine Tree Festival. However, for the two years covered in the audit report, there was no service contract issued between the city and chamber. These contracts are required before municipal entities can provide non-profit organizations with taxpayer-supported funds. The city also provides a $450 contribution each year to the cemetery committee. There was also no service contract for that donation either, according to auditors.

Within the police department, the audit found $190.00 for boots used by a City Police Officer that were adaptable to general usage as ordinary clothing, without adding the items as income to the employee’s IRS W-2 form.

It was also noted that a council member, who served concurrently as a part-time police officer, received salary payments totaling $3,827 without an authorizing ordinance.

De Queen Primary, Elementary announce registration dates; school supplies will be provided at no cost to all students in grades K-5th   07/16/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s hard to believe, but De Queen kids will be heading back to school in exactly one month.

Classes resume at all De Queen Public Schools campuses on Monday, Aug. 16. Educators are gearing up for the 2021-2022 school year and part of that is registering all the new and returning students to the De Queen School District. A number of registration events and Meet the Teacher Nights have been scheduled in August.

De Queen Primary School will host registration on Wednesday, Aug. 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 3-6 p.m. that day. This in-person registration event is for all Kindergarten as well as all new first and second grade students only.

These students will be registering in the primary cafeteria. Parents and guardians are asked to bring their child’s birth certificate, social security card, shot records and proof of address.

First and second grade teachers will be calling parents on Aug. 4 and Aug. 5 to get students registered. De Queen Public Schools will furnish all school supplies this year for students in grades K-5th. Your child will only need to bring a backpack and a reusable water bottle. Kindergarten students will need to bring a large towel for rest time.

The primary school will host a Meet the Teacher Night on Thursday, Aug. 12 from 5-6 p.m. This is a come-and-go event where students and parents can see their classrooms, meet teachers and take pictures. The school is asking that only one parent and their student attend the Meet the Teacher Night.

Out of an abundance of caution for health reasons and other safety concerns, De Queen Primary and Elementary Schools will be closed campuses again this year. Students should be dropped off as car riders or bus riders the first day of school. District officials say they appreciate everyone’s understanding of these precautions as the district returns to classes with the health of students and teachers in mind.

Earlier this week, De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders spoke to the precautions in place for incoming students. Heightened sanitary practices remain in place and while the district cannot mandate mask use, parents who want their child to wear a mask are allowed to provide them with one. Sanders added the district will continue to monitor the situation regularly and change plans if needed.

De Queen Elementary School is also hosting a registration day on Wednesday, Aug. 4 for all students in grades three through five. This will be an in-person registration event and is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m. that day.

Parents are advised that students’ names and teacher assignments will be posted in the hallways of the elementary school. Students previously enrolled at De Queen Public Schools will go to their current grade level hallway to find their teacher assignment.

Students who are new to the district or Spanish-speaking students will register in the cafeteria where translators will be available. New students are asked to bring their birth certificate, social security card, shot records and proof of address.

Again, De Queen Public Schools will furnish all school supplies this year for students in grades K-5th. Incoming elementary students will only need to bring a backpack and reusable water bottle.

The elementary school will host its Meet the Teacher Night on Aug. 10 from 5-6 p.m. Like the primary school event, the elementary school’s Meet the Teacher Night will be a come-and-go event and officials ask only one parent and their child attend.

For more information visit www.dequeenleopards.org

De Queen man charged with three capital murder counts set to reappear in court Sept. 11   07/16/2021

MADISON COUNTY – A De Queen man accused of killing three family members this past Feburary in Madison County will have his next court appearance later this summer.

Hunter Chenoweth, age 22, will appear again before the Madison County Circuit Court on Sept. 11 to face three counts of capital Murder. During his initial court appearance, Chenoweth entered a plea of not guilty to the three capital murder charges.
Chenoweth is accused of killing his mother, 51-year-old Tami Lynn Chenoweth; his stepfather, 59-year-old James Stanley McGhee; and his sister, 26-year-old Cheyene Chenoweth. All three were found deceased inside a home in Madison County on Feb. 23, according to the Arkansas State Police.
Chenoweth was arrested later that evening after authorities across the state began searching for a vehicle witnessed at the crime scene. According to the Arkansas State Police, Chenoweth was arrested following a brief stand off with state troopers in which he brandished a rifle and threatened officers at the scene. State troopers were able to approach Chenoweth from behind and arrest him without further incident.
An infant child belonging to Chenoweth’s sister, Cheyene, was found in the vehicle and recovered unharmed. The child has since been handed over to the Department of Human Services. The female driver, identified only as a 25-year-old De Queen woman, was questioned and released.

Prosecutors are seeking a sentence upon conviction of either life in prison or the death penalty.

Chenoweth is also slated for a jury trial this October related to a felony domestic battery charge from February of 2020. According to online court records, that charge stems from an incident that same month in which Chenoweth is accused of stabbing his stepfather.

Amy Barker named new principal of De Queen Primary; Kayla Morris hired as asst. principal   07/16/2021

Amy Barker, an educator with 18 years at De Queen Public Schools, will be the new principal for De Queen Primary School.

DE QUEEN – In related news, students enrolling at De Queen Primary School this fall will be greeted by a familiar face with a new leadership role after the district announced the school’s new principal this week.

Amy Barker, an educator with 18 years of experience at De Queen Public Schools, will enter the 2021-2022 school year as the new principal of De Queen Primary School. She is entering the position after former principal and longtime De Queen educator Sharon Pigeon passed away earlier this year. Barker was officially hired as primary principal during the De Queen School Board’s meeting on Monday.

Barker received her Bachelor’s in Education from Arkansas State University in 1995 and in 2004 earned her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Harding University.

She is married to Leopards Coach Jason Barker and together than have one child.

Barker will be assisted by another familiar face, Kayla Morris, as assistant principal. Morris was formerly a kindergarten teacher at De Queen Primary School. She is not only a teacher for De Queen Public Schools, but a graduate of De Queen High School as well. On the district’s website, Morris states she’s had a lifelong love and interest in education dating back to when she was a student herself. She said her goal is to provide students with not only knowledge but also a respect for learning, growth and curiosity that they will carry with them the rest of their lives.

Nashville woman struck, killed by vehicle Tuesday evening   07/16/2021

NASHVILLE – A Nashville woman was fatally struck by a vehicle Tuesday evening.

According to the Arkansas State Police, 33-year-old Shardae Golston was struck by a 2017 Ford Focus traveling north on U.S. Highway 371 around 9:20 Tuesday night. The state police report states Golston was on foot in the northbound lane at the time the accident occurred.

She was pronounced deceased at the scene by Hempstead County Coroner David Peters at 10:25 p.m. The driver of the vehicle was not identified in the report.

According to the investigating state trooper, road conditions were described as clear and dry at the time of the crash.

State police records show at least 327 people have been killed on Arkansas roads so far this year.

Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival on for this Saturday; Listen to all the results on 92.1FM   07/16/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And make sure to stay tuned to all hour-by-hour results from all three lakes here on Your Number One Country, 92.1FM. Tyler and Patrick of The Morning Brew will be on-air all morning bringing you the results and having some fun on-the-air as the Sevier County Chamber presents this year’s 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival.

CADC resuming summer, winter utility assistance for Sevier County residents   07/16/2021

DE QUEEN – The Central Arkansas Development Council is currently taking applications from Sevier County residents for its 2021 Extended Winter CARES LIHEAP Utility Assistance program. This program will assist with gas and propane utility bills only. The extended gas program will assist customers with past due bills or shut off notices. Only crisis assistance will be available through this program.

Crisis benefits are available up to $2,000. Applicants who previously applied are eligible to apply again. Applications for the upcoming CADC LIHEAP Summer Program for electric customers will begin Monday, July 26. This program will provide up to $2,000 in electricity bill benefits and funds will be disbursed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more information, visit www.cadc.com or call (870) 982-9701.

SCMC CEO provides update; resumes now being accepted for hospital positions   07/16/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court heard a report from Lori House, CEO for the new Sevier County Medical Center, during its meeting earlier this week. House provided a brief update, reporting that installation of the roof is currently in the works. House added the search for the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer remains underway and that the hospital’s new website is expected to launch this week. The hospital itself has a tentative open date of May 1, 2022.

House said the hospital is beginning to accept applications for a variety of positions. House invited interested applicants to email their resumes to apply@seviercountymedical.com

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

Sevier County teams perform well at Dixie Youth Baseball State Tournament   07/16/2021

The Sevier County 10u team was the State Champs in their division during the 2021 Dixie Youth Baseball League State Tournament this past weekend in De Queen.

DE QUEEN – Sevier County teams had a great performance at this past weekend’s Dixie Youth Baseball State Tournament.

The championship games were hosted once again in De Queen at the Sportsplex, drawing out hundreds of youth athletes as well as their coaches, family and friends.

In order of the games played, the tournament wrapped up with the Sevier County 8U as the 2021 state runner-ups and Texarkana taking the state championship.

In the 10u game, Sevier County earned the state champ title with Texarkana finishing second as the runner-up. The Sevier County 12u team were runner-ups with Texarkana’s 12u team taking the state championship in this category as well.

Overall, organizers of the state tournament and the Sevier County Youth Baseball Association said it was a great weekend of baseball. Kyle Willis of the Sevier County Youth Baseball Association said the community didn’t just show up for the event, they showed out. He added this weekend’s state tournament was a great time and a return to normalcy given the upset to schedules due to last year’s COVID-related cancellations.

For more information on local youth baseball, visit the Sevier County Youth Baseball Association on Facebook.

Oak Hill VFD to host low-cost spay and neuter clinic Aug. 10-12   07/16/2021

ASHDOWN – The Oak Hill Fire Department will host a low cost spay and neuter clinic Aug. 10-12 at its fire station on 1165 Highway 108W.

Cost for dogs ranges from $70-90 depending on weight. Cost to spay or neuter a cat is $45. A rabies vaccine is included in the cost of the surgery. Other vaccines will be available as well as heartworm testing. Nail trims and microchipping are available by the sponsoring rescue agency.

Call (903) 280-2341 to make your reservation. In addition, volunteers are greatly needed and welcomed for this event.

Ashdown Police Department launches anti-speeding campaign this week   07/16/2021

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown Police Department today launched a tough new speed enforcement blitz for the city of Ashdown under the tagline: “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.” The intensified enforcement effort against speeding drivers underscores the severity of the problem, both locally and across the nation.
“Speeding translates to death on our roadways. It greatly reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around another vehicle, a hazardous object, or an unexpected curve. Speeding drivers put themselves, their passengers and other drivers at tremendous risk,” said Sgt. Zane Butler.
In 2015, speeding was a contributing factor in 27 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. and more than 9,500 lives were lost in such crashes, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“During the “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” blitz, officers will intensify enforcement of posted speed limits in Ashdown Arkansas. We’ll stop and ticket anyone caught speeding anywhere in the city limits of Ashdown—especially on Highway 71 and Highway 32, where most of our speed-related crashes occur,” said Sgt. Zane Butler.
Fully 17 percent of all speeding-related traffic fatalities occurred on local roads — where the posted speed limits were 55 miles per hour or under. According to NHTSA, a crash on a road with a speed limit of 65 mph or greater is more than twice as likely to result in a fatality than a crash on a road with a speed limit of 45 or 50 mph and nearly five times as likely as a crash on a road with a speed limit of 40 mph or below. About 15 percent of the country’s speeding-related fatalities occur on interstate highways each year.
A NHTSA research report, “Analysis of Speeding-Related Fatal Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes,” shows that a major proportion of fatal, speeding-related single-vehicle crashes occur on rural roadways.
Across America in 2015, speeding was a factor in 17 percent of all fatal crashes on dry roads, and in 21 percent of those occurring on wet roads.
“Driving above the posted speed limit or speeding in bad weather conditions dramatically increases the probability that a motorist will be involved in a crash,” said Sgt. Zane Butler.
“During this enforcement blitz, officers will be out targeting and ticketing speeding drivers,” said Sgt. Zane Butler. “Our goal is to save lives, and we’re putting all drivers on alert – the posted speed limit IS THE LAW. No more warnings and no more excuses. When it comes to speeding: Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.”
NHTSA considers a crash speeding-related if the driver was charged with exceeding the posted speed limit or if the driver was driving too fast for conditions at the time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Itch vs. scratch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 About the Division of Agriculture

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

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

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The list of regulated items include:

-Nursery stock with soil or potting media

-Grass sod

-Baled hay stored in contact with the soil

-Baled straw stored in contact with the soil

-Soil

-And used soil-moving equipment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July is Watermelon Month in Arkansas     7/12/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how it works:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local band High Voltage will be performing live.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For questions or more information contact Samaritanfields@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Williamson Community Church to host VBS     7/02/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arkansas hunting licenses expired June 30     7/02/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.bestfriends.org.

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

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

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

There are three main points of criteria for applicants:

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

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

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

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

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

The money goes directly to landlords and utility companies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Centerpoint VFD hosting ammunition raffle     6/25/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The agenda:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apply for a Youth Tournament Fishing Organization Habitat Project Grant.

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

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

A Montgomery County coroner pronounced Graves dead at the scene.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no cost to attend.

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

Sevier County Cattlemen     6/21/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use an EPA-approved insect repellant as directed.

Use permethrin on your clothing as directed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no cost to attend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Ashdown, Perry Smith and Alex Day.

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

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

From Foreman, Jessica Stephens.

From Grannis, Haley Polk.

From Kirby, Gunner Golden.

From Lockesburg, Leslie Coulter.

From Wickes, Monica Gonzalez and Jennifer Esquivel-Amador.

Local Students named to the Honor’s List include:

From Ashdown, Jasmine Richard.

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

From Dierks, John Cothren.

From Grannis, Jade Richardson.

From Horatio, Ryan Vaught.

From Kirby, Zane Pedron.

From Lockesburg, Leslie Coulter and Jason Hargrove.

From Umpire, Scotti Musick.

And from Wickes, Manuel Esquivel-Amador.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Awards presented include:

The Golden Ball Award to Easton Leonard

Silver Slugger for Tucker Emerson

SuperMan for both Kase Davis and Easton Leonard

RBI Leader – Blake Pickett

Stuck on Green – Tucker Emerson

Defensive MVP – Kase Davis

IronMan Award – Grayson Wright

Most Improved – Carson McKiever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amerasian commodities giveaway this Saturday    6/17/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The multi-story, century-old brick building on the corner of Second Street and De Queen Avenue – known to nearly everyone as the former Ennis Plumbing building – was destroyed via controlled burn Friday night.

The city acquired the building in 2018 under Mayor Billy Ray McKelvy’s administration. The city had long sought the property due to its proximity to De Queen City Hall, the De Queen Fire Department and the Multicultural Center.

Current Mayor Jeff Brown said the city had explored the possibility of repurposing the building but found the project would be incredibly expensive. Brown said the old building had serious foundation issues, large cracks in the wall and other issues that would be far too expensive to repair.

After debating the future of the building, the city council voted 5-1 last year to have the building taken down. City fire crews did just that Friday evening.

Brown said the city has some plans for the property next year but nothing official or approved at this time.

Next Sevier County Block Party scheduled for June 29    6/15/2021

DE QUEEN – In case you missed last week’s Block Party in De Queen, don’t worry: there’s more chances to attend this family-friendly, community-wide event this summer.

The Sevier County Block Party Committee announced it will host a number of events throughout the summer aimed at continuing to foster closer relations between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry founded the annual Block Party celebrations a number of years ago to help strengthen those relationships. The first event was so successful, said organizers, they decided to hold them annually.

The Block Party Committee held its first event last week in De Queen. The next event is scheduled for June 29 from 6-8 p.m. at the Horatio City Park on June 29.

The Gillham Fire Department will also host a block party on July 13 and then in Lockesburg on Aug. 3 at the Lockesburg City Park. The two final events are scheduled for Aug. 24 at the Ben Lomond Community Building and then again in De Queen on Sept. 14 at the Sportsplex.

The events will focus on providing a fun, family-oriented event. The Block Party will include a bounce house, free hot dogs, frozen treats and popcorn. The event will once again feature a Little Debbie eating contest for kids and adults. There will be numerous prizes given away including a bike as well as various gift cards and gift certificates.

For more information visit the Sevier County Block Party Committee on Facebook.

July 1 is deadline for Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship    6/15/2021

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery (ASL) is reminding students in the state that July 1 is the deadline to apply for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship.

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery provides tuition assistance to traditional and non-traditional students attending universities and two-year colleges – both public and private – in the state. Since its inception in 2009, the Arkansas lottery has helped raise more than $1 billion in scholarship proceeds and awarded more than 650,000 Academic Challenge Scholarships to students.

Traditional students must score at least 19 on the ACT to qualify for the scholarship. The latest ACT score accepted by the Arkansas Division of Higher Education will be from the June testing. Students who have yet to achieve a score of 19 make take the Accuplacer test as a substitute.

Freshman students at four-year colleges receive $1,000 from the scholarship. Second- and third-year students receive $4,000, and senior-level students are awarded $5,000 per year.

At two-year colleges, first-year students receive $1,000 annually, while second-year students are awarded $3,000. To maintain eligibility, students must keep a 2.5 grade point average.

For more information and to apply, students may visit scholarships.adhe.edu.

Arkansas employment website launches Wednesday    6/15/2021

In an effort to boost Arkansas’ workforce, the state is launching a free service for people looking for a job.

Arkansas Ready For Life is a new website meant to be a one-stop-shop for employment in the state. The site goes live on Wednesday and Arkansans will have access to more than a thousand job openings in the state and nine thousand courses teaching essential career skills.

State officials say many industries are struggling to find and keep employees. The Arkansas Ready for Life website seeks to connect Arkansans with employers in the state.

The Ready for Life system will be working with schools, doing student success planning starting in eighth grade. And it is partnering with agencies like the Department of Corrections and businesses in several industries.

The courses and resume-building resources will be free to everyone.
Update: Horatio teacher arrested, charged with internet stalking of a child; similar charge filed against former Horatio educator arrested in May    6/14/2021

Lori Marshall, a 40-year-old resident of Lockesburg and a teacher with the Horatio School District, was arrested Thursday evening on one count of attempted internet stalking of a child. According to records filed in the Sevier County Circuit Court, the alleged incident occurred between May-June of 2020.

HORATIO – A teacher with the Horatio School District as well as a former educator have both been charged with attempted stalking of a minor over the internet, according to records filed Thursday in the Sevier County Circuit Court.
Lori Marshall, 40, is facing one felony count of attempted internet stalking of a child. The incident in question was allegedly committed between May 20, 2020 and June 30, 2020, according to court records. Marshall is a first grade teacher at Horatio elementary School.

Attempted internet stalking of a child involves the pursuit of online communications with a child aged 15 or younger with intent to engage in sexual activity.

Ryan Jacob Smith, a 32-year-old resident of Conway and a former employee of the Horatio School District, is facing a similar charge in the Sevier County Circuit Court. Smith, who left the Horatio School District in 2016, was arrested late last month on felony charges of possession of child pornography. Court records show the internet stalking charge filed Thursday against Smith occurred during the same period (May-June 2020) as the incident for which Marshall has been charged. Authorities have not official stated whether the two charges are related.

Ryan Jacob Smith, a 32-year-old resident of Conway and a former employee of the Horatio School District, is facing a similar charge in the Sevier County Circuit Court. Smith, who left the Horatio School District in 2016, was arrested late last month on felony charges of possession of child pornography. Court records show the internet stalking charge filed Thursday against Smith occurred during the same period as the incident for which Marshall has been charged.

The news website RiverValleyNow.com is reporting that, during a bond hearing for Smith, investigators with the Conway Police Department alleged text messages uncovered on Smith’s phone suggested he and Marshall had discussed arranging a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl. That discovery led to the additional charges filed Thursday against Smith and Marshall, according to the Conway Police Department.

According to court records, the investigation into Smith began after explicit photos of a minor were found on his phone by a cellphone repair business. Authorities were contacted, leading to the investigation and Smith’s subsequent arrest. A search of the cellphone then reportedly uncovered the communications between Smith and Marshall. It is uncertain at this time if the alleged encounter ever took place.

Upon conviction, a felony count of attempted internet stalking of a child can carry a sentence of three to 10 years in prison.

In a statement, Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said “The Horatio School District is aware a District employee was arrested by Sevier County Law Enforcement.  The District has no knowledge of the matter but will fully cooperate with law enforcement authorities in order to assure the safety of Horatio School District students, which is our first priority in the education of children.  As this matter involves District personnel and implicates privacy considerations under applicable law, the District will have no further comment at this time.”

Two killed in motor vehicle accident in Howard County on Thursday   6/14/2021

HOWARD COUNTY – Two people were killed following a multiple vehicle accident in Howard County Thursday morning.

According to the Arkansas State Police, a 2012 Cadillac driven by 45-year-old Jamal Staves of Nashville was traveling south on U.S. Highway 278 on June 10 when it crossed the center line and struck a 2015 Chevrolet head on in the opposite lane. The Chevy was driven by Patrick Byrne, a 68-year-old resident of Dierks. The accident occurred around 10:50 Thursday morning.

Staves was pronounced dead at the scene. Byrne was transported to the Howard County Memorial Hospital. He succumbed to injuries from the accident and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

An unnamed minor in Staves vehicle was also injured in the accident and transported to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

Investigating state trooper Joshua Broughton reported weather conditions as dry and the road as clear at the time of the accident.

UA Cossatot will offer free tuition to Pilgrim’s employees, dependents starting this fall   6/14/2021

Submitted by Dustin Roberts of UA Cossatot

UA Cossatot has announced a new partnership with Pilgrim’s to provide additional free educational opportunities for both current and future students.

In May, Dr. Steve Cole, Chancellor of UA Cossatot, signed an agreement with Pilgrim’s in De Queen to be part of the local Better Futures program. Through this local program, any Pilgrim’s Pride employee and their dependents may attend UA Cossatot tuition-free for any field of study they choose.

According to Chancellor Cole, this agreement marks “a tremendous day for education in the region as this will open doors for hundreds, if not thousands, of Pilgrim’s Pride employees and their family members. UA Cossatot is proud to partner with Pilgrim’s Pride on this endeavor as it will be a game changer for many families and the local economy as a whole.”

The Better Futures program will begin in the fall 2021 semester. UA Cossatot officials said they will be working with Pilgrim’s to establish a seamless recruitment and enrollment process.

More information on the Better Futures program can be found at www.betterfutures.jbssa.com/

Ashdown High School recognizes 2021 Arkansas Girls and Boys State participants  6/14/2021

Caylee Turner

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School was well represented at Arkansas Girls State and Arkansas Boys State. Caylee Turner attended Girls State which was held virtually for all three days (May 30-June 1) in 2021 and Landon Wright and Ben Adkison also attended a virtual edition of Arkansas Boys State May 30- June 4.

The American Legion Auxiliary Girls State is an educational program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary that provides for young women who have finished their junior year in high school, training in the fundamental aspects of citizenship and government. They believe that educating youth about the basic ideas and principles of government will help ensure the survival of our democracy. ALA Arkansas Girls State is a unique

Ben Adkinson

and exciting government-in-action learning program in which Auxiliary members guide young women to become knowledgeable stewards of freedom, democracy, and patriotic citizens. The program started in 1937 and is one of the most respected and coveted experiential learning programs presented in the United States, according to their website. Caylee was elected Lieutenant Governor of Price City Nationalists.

According to the Boys State website, Boys State is an immersive program designed for high school juniors. Boys State seeks nominations of the “best and brightest male students entering their senior year; mature leaders in the classroom, on the field, and throughout the community who are ready to shape the future of our state.”  “We had every hope of reconvening in-person for our 2021 program, but with so many uncertainties about COVID-19 yet facing our communities, this was the right decision to ensure that our prestigious program occurs in 2021,” Dr. Lloyd Jackson, executive director of Arkansas Boys State, said. “We are hopeful to be in-person for our 2022 program and to invite our alumni to visit us during that week.”
The week-long program has been in existence for over 80 years. During the week of Arkansas Boys State, delegates are assigned a political party, city, and county. Throughout the week, delegates, from the ground up, administer this mock government as if it were real; they run for office, draft and pass legislation, solve municipal challenges, and engage constituents. By the week’s end, the delegates have experienced civic responsibility and engagement firsthand while making life-long memories and friends – all with our guiding principle that “Democracy Depends on Me.”
 
Landon Wright

According to Ben Adkison, “Boy’s State was a good experience to learn more about government and the process of elections.”

 
AHS Senior Landon Wright said, Boys State was an amazing experience! Learning how the government works was a truly eye-opening experience. Due to Covid, we were unable to attend in person, yet they still had a very interactive and interesting course. I’ve met some lifelong friends during my time at Boys State. One of the best things was that I was able to express my views and have intelligent conversations with many who didn’t agree. During my time at Boys State I ran for three offices and succeeded in winning all three (City Councilman, County Party Secretary, and District Senator). I recommend and encourage anyone who has an interest in Boys State to pursue this path, it is completely worth it.”

Sevier County on track to become Work Ready Community through ACT program   6/14/2021

Submitted by Tiffany Maurer, Sevier County Economic Development Director

Sevier County economic development officials announced this week they’ve engaged in the process to have Sevier County become a certified ACT Work Ready Community.

This process demonstrates the county’s commitment to developing a strong workforce pipeline, desirable to employers, economic developers, and current and future citizens of the county. According to officials, the ACT® Work Ready Communities (ACT® WRC) initiative empowers states, regions, and counties with data, processes, and tools that drive economic growth by identifying skills gaps and quantifying the skill level of the local workforce. Counties can then leverage this designation to measure and close skills gaps within the local workforce and build common frameworks that link workforce development efforts.

To begin the Work Ready Communities process, Sevier County leaders attended the ACT Work Ready Communities Boot Camp, an executive leadership and training program designed and led by ACT to begin efforts to improve the county’s work readiness. Leaders meet with local employers, policymakers, educators, and economic developers to reach established goals and build a sustainable WRC model to fit local needs.

“Work Ready Communities have an advantage in economic development in terms of workforce readiness, site selection, and business attraction efforts. Pursuing this initiative is evidence of Sevier County’s ability to address workforce needs,” said Tiffany Maurer, Director of Economic Development for Sevier County.

ACT Regional Manager, Cheri Tune, says this is a big achievement for Sevier County and puts it on a growing list of counties dedicated to building a robust workforce. She added this designation will provide the county with an economic development advantage, helping it stand out nationally for their workforce development efforts.

For more information on this initiative, go to www.workreadycommunities.org and view all of ACT’s workforce solutions at www.act.org/workforce

Workforce development program seeking local youth applicants   6/14/2021

DE QUEEN – The Southwest Arkansas Planning District is reaching out to at-risk or troubled youth in the area with a new workforce development program.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program is aimed at youth between the ages of 16-24. The program is specifically seeking young applicants who may have a disability, are parenting, dropped out of school, homeless or a runaway, or who are subject to any stage of the criminal justice process.

The program seeks to provide participants with workforce development skills to help them find success in the job market. The effort is a partnership between the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District, the Arkansas Workforce Center and the American Job Center Network.

For more information on the program and all the opportunities it can offer, call (870) 234-4030.

County gearing up for tourist increase ahead of 2024 total solar eclipse    6/11/2021

Nowhere in Arkansas will the 2024 total solar eclipse be more total and for a longer period of time than in Gillham. Eclipse2024.org, a website dedicated to the event, lists Gillham as the location in Arkansas with the greatest length of totality at four minutes, 18.7 seconds. The entire path of totality will only be around 50 miles wide. Outside of that swath the eclipse will be only partially visible.

DE QUEEN – Local economic development officials and community organizers are gearing up to make Sevier County the prime place in Arkansas to see the 2024 total solar eclipse.

Scientific predictions show Gillham is going to be one of the best places in the country to view the 2024 total solar eclipse, which will occur on the afternoon of April 8, 2024.

The predicted path of the solar eclipse shows Gillham exactly in the line of totality – meaning the sun will be entirely eclipsed by the moon, turning day into night. Nowhere in the region will the eclipse be more total and for a longer period of time than in Gillham. Eclipse2024.org, a website dedicated to the event, lists Gillham as the location in Arkansas with the greatest length of totality at four minutes, 18.7 seconds. The entire path of totality will only be around 50 miles wide. Outside of that swath the eclipse will be only partially visible.

Of course, other communities in the path will be able to view the solar eclipse as it occurs. But, given the rarity of these events, every second counts. And with Gillham, De Queen and surrounding communities leading the state for the time of totality, visitors far and wide are likely to descend on the community in hopes of catching every moment of the eclipse.

Keisha McKinney, a local business owner and tourism coordinator for Sevier County, spoke with us earlier this week and said this is an opportunity Sevier County cannot miss.

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McKinney said a planning group has already formed through a partnership between the chamber of commerce, community organizers and officials with the various cities in Sevier County. She said the group hopes to make the most of the 2024 eclipse by planning everything from educational sessions on the eclipse itself while advertising what Sevier County has to offer in terms of viewing this rare celestial event.

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McKinney said the group’s current focus includes two goals: highlighting the fact that Sevier County will be the best place to see the eclipse in Arkansas, and perhaps the region, while also getting as many people in the community involved as possible.

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The simple fact is, the 2024 total solar eclipse is likely to be the last one many of us will get to see. The last total solar eclipse to occur in the United States was in 2017. Prior to this event, no solar eclipse had been visible across the entirety of the United States since 1918. The 2017 eclipse was the first in the era of social media and modern communications and saw correspondingly huge interest. Millions of people traveled across the country to catch a glimpse.

According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s population was doubled, maybe tripled by travelers from the U.S. and across the globe – all seeking to catch as much of the total solar eclipse as they could.

Besides the lengthy path it will take across the United States, the 2024 solar eclipse is likely to be a popular one for another reason: it’ll be the last one to touch North America until 2033. The only state that sees totality then will be Alaska, and the weather prospects for March in the Arctic will make this one a true challenge to view. After that, the eclipse will occur in 2044 and again in 2045. In other words, the 2024 solar eclipse won’t be one to miss.

Fortunately, everyone’s going to have plenty time to prepare for the 2024 eclipse. Starting scheduling those vacation days and lining up your favorite place to watch the sky.

And until then, you can learn nearly everything you need to know about this cosmological event – from the proper eye protection to simulated views of the eclipse for each impacted city – at www.eclipse2024.org.

And for more information on Sevier County’s role in the 2024 total solar eclipse, and how you can be involved, visit www.visitsevierar.com/eclipse

This weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Arkansas   6/11/2021

Starting today at 12 noon and continuing through Sunday, June 13 at midnight is the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission’s annual Free Fishing Weekend.

Residents and nonresidents may fish this weekend without a fishing license or trout permits. This applies to the entire state of Arkansas. So if you’ve been considering a new hobby this is the weekend to try your luck in many of Arkansas fish filled waters.

Fishing regulations still apply such as daily, slot, and length limits. If you decide hitting the water is for you you can purchase a Resident Fish License for $10.50 and a Trout permit for $10.

So dust off the tacklebox and re-spool the reel in preparation for this weekend of fun in the sun.

Dalton Janes Memorial Skeet Shoot this weekend   6/11/2021

BROKEN BOW, Okla. – The annual Dalton Janes Memorial Skeet Shoot has been rescheduled to this Saturday, June 12. The yearly memorial competition is designed to help raise money for scholarships for local students.

The event will take place at 1961 Gardenia Road in Broken Bow and signs will be in place to help those arriving.

The memorial skeet shoot is open to everyone with several divisions, including adults and children. There will be a trophy for the highest shooter in all three categories.

Organizers say everyone is welcome to come by, compete in the skeet shoot and enjoy some free food and fellowship while remembering Dalton Janes and raising scholarships for local students. Numerous prizes will also be given away.

The event will kick off at 10 a.m. this Saturday and continue until the last shooter competes.

This weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Arkansas   6/11/2021

With just over 7,000 wild turkeys checked in Arkansas this spring, it’s no secret that hunting was a challenge for many in The Natural State. Some however couldn’t play by the rules, resulting in an alarming trend noticed by wildlife officers whose business is catching those who cut corners and prevent honest hunters from seeing increased turkey harvest numbers.

“Business was good this spring,” said Col. Brad Young, chief of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Enforcement Division, said.

AGFC officers issued citations for 152 major wildlife violations during this year’s 21-day hunting season. They also assisted Nebraska and Kansas by uncovering 16 violations that occurred in those states during investigations in Arkansas.

Hunting turkeys over bait was the top violation officers found this year, with an alarming 72 cases being made in three weeks.

Young says most wildlife officers take particular pride in catching turkey poachers, as the species is seeing a decline in many states across the Southeast. That includes here in Sevier County, where their declining numbers have become increasingly evident. Young says every turkey poached is one that is being stolen from honest hunters and those trying to help turkeys rebound.

Hunting in a closed season was the second most frequent violation AGFC wildlife officers found with 19 cases being made.

Young mentions that changes to Arkansas’s turkey season structure this year may have contributed to the increase in poaching, but those changes were made to try and help the state’s turkey population and violating them is only hindering the future of the sport.

As an avid turkey hunter himself, Young said the hunt is not supposed to be easy. But not following the regulations isn’t just shooting yourself in the foot for next year, it’s taking opportunities from others to enjoy the sport.

Study shows Sevier, Little River Counties have among the most affordable housing in Arkansas and across the U.S.    6/10/2021

A report from the National Association of Realtors suggests Sevier and Little River Counties are among the more affordable places to buy a home in Arkansas.
The report lists Sevier County as the 27th most affordable location to buy a home in Arkansas with a median home value in 2020 of just over $88,000. That’s significantly less than the average home price in the United States, which increased in April 2020 to over $347,000. Sevier County is ranked 408 out of more than 3,100 counties nationwide in affordable housing costs. According to the report, monthly mortgage payments in 2020 averaged $327 in Sevier County, a slight drop from the year before.
Little River County is even higher on the list of lowest home prices, ranking 20th in the state or 255th out of 3,100 counties nationwide. The median mortgage payment in 2020 was $302, also slightly less than the year before.
JBS CEO says company paid ransom to bring facilities back online    6/10/2021

JBS USA announced Wednesday evening it paid $11 million in ransom to a cyberattack group which temporary shutdown operations at many of the company’s facilities following an attack Memorial Day Weekend.

Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA, said the decision was a very difficult one for the company to make but was made necessary to prevent any potential risk to its customers.

JBS’s payment was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The cyberattack targeted IT systems at JBS’s facilities in North America and Australia. U.S. officials have pointed out REvil, a criminal organization based in Russia or Eastern Europe, as behind the attack.

The attack forced JBS to shut down most of its operations in Australia and the United States. Affected plants included the poultry processing facility in De Queen, which closed last Tuesday alongside many of the company’s other facilities. Operations resumed the following day.

“Preliminary investigation results confirm that no company, customer or employee data was compromised,” JBS said in the statement.

Aubrey Seymour receives prestigious Arkansas Fair scholarship    6/10/2021

Aubrey Seymour

Each year the Sevier County Fair Association accepts scholarship applications to be sent to and judged by the Arkansas Fair Managers Association. Each county is allowed one scholarship application.

The selection is based on the student’s degree of involvement in county, district and state fairs; their leadership skills and community involvement; and their school activities and academics.

The Arkansas Fair Managers Association awards nine scholarships to Arkansas Seniors every year. Sevier County Fair Manager, Linda Frachiseur was notified by the Arkansas Fair Managers Association that Aubrey Seymour was the winner of the $1,200 Steve Skelton Endowed Scholarship.

Organizers say this is a great honor for a Sevier County resident to win this scholarship because Steve Skelton was a resident of Sevier County himself. He served several years on the Sevier County Fair Board as well as the Arkansas Fair Managers. This was the top scholarship awarded by the Arkansas Fair Managers Association for 2021.

Aubrey is the 17-year-old daughter of Debbie Seymour and Justin Seymour. She is a Senior at De Queen High School. She has represented Sevier County in the County, District, State and 4-States Fairs for several years. She was also the 2019-2020 Sevier County Fair Princess and went on to compete at the state level.

Aubrey has competed in District competition for fair princess also. She is an active member of the Lakeside 4-H, a 4-H Teen Star, State Ambassador, and is currently serving as the Southwest Arkansas 4-H Vice President. She is also active in De Queen FFA where she served s the 2020-21 FFA President.

Aubrey plans to attend Harding University in the fall.

Incoming college students warned to be cautious over student loans    6/10/2021

Arkansas college students are in the early stages of preparing for the school year in August and some are applying for student loans. It is important to always read the fine print and be cautious of scammers trying to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. There are some key items that every student should know before agreeing to a loan that often takes decades to repay.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and state law enforcement agencies are providing a few tips for students considering taking out a student loan:

First off, make sure you understand your loan. Before taking out a loan, make sure you understand the repayment terms and other obligations of the loan, interest rates and how they will be applied to the loan, and where to find your balance and payment schedule after you graduate. For federal loans, visit the National Student Loan Data System (nslds.ed.gov).

Take advantage of the grace period. Oftentimes, there is a grace period after you graduate or stop attending a college or university. It is important to know how long the grace period is and whether interest will be charged during the grace period. Grace periods allow you to get your “feet on the ground” while making a plan to repay the loan.

Know your re-payment options. Every loan is different and some offer the chance to change payment options based on your income rather than a set monthly amount. In some cases, if you are going through a financial hardship, there is the ability to temporarily defer payments.

Be wary of loan consolidation and refinance offers. Many companies offer loan refinance options, but may not provide the promised service or might provide services that consumers can access for no cost. Consumers should learn all details about any loan refinance offer before enrolling in one.

Check your credit report to see all of your education debts, including federal and private student loans.

Consider part-time work, work-study, and all scholarships available to limit student debt to as little as possible.

For more information, the Arkansas Student Loan Authority can be contacted here or at 800-443-6030 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

DQPD seeking assistance in investigation into recent graffiti vandalism    6/09/2021
DE QUEEN – The De Queen Police Department is seeking the community’s help in locating who might be behind a number of recent graffiti vandalism incidents in the city.

The police department shared a number of photos on its Facebook page of fences and businesses in De Queen recently vandalized with graffiti tags. The tags are related to the signs used by the Southside Diablos 13, a California-based gang associated with the Mexican Mafia. However, the graffiti tags are no evidence of actual gang activity and, as is common in cases of crudely drawn graffiti like that in De Queen recently, usually just vandalism by kids.

Anyone with information on the graffiti is asked to contact the De Queen Police Department by calling (870) 642-2213.

Albert Pike Recreation Area comment period open to gauge interest in future public use    6/09/2021

LANGLEY – The USDA Forest Service announced this week the environmental assessment for the Albert Pike Recreation Area is now available for public comment.

The project examined which facilities and infrastructure will support the uses of the Albert Pike Recreation Area in the future. It also included reviewing what would be needed to maintain all recreation facilities to standard; ensure public health and safety; protect resource values; and provide visitors with a variety of participation opportunities, activities and services.

The environmental assessment is available online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58793 along with a copy of the legal notice and instructions on how to send in comments. The environmental assessment includes maps for each of the alternatives and describes their respective components. Documentation is also available for review at the District office in Mt. Ida.

Interested members of the public and groups have 30 days following the June 6 announcement to provide comments. All comments must be in writing and submitted through formal channels. State “Albert Pike Recreation Area” in the subject line when providing electronic comments, or on the envelope when replying by mail. For questions about the proposed action, alternatives, or the commenting process, contact District Natural Resources Manager at charity.j.ryles@usda.gov.

A virtual Open House is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 23 on Microsoft Teams Live. The presentation will include information on the planning process, the project’s purpose, alternatives and how the public can be involved. A question and answer session will follow the presentation and is available at the following link:  https://tinyurl.com/Albert-Pike-RA.

For more information on the Ouachita National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita.

Organizers of Sevier County Senior Citizens Appreciation Day recognize long-standing sponsors    6/09/2021

DE QUEEN – Besides recognizing local senior citizens, organizers of last week’s 29th annual Sevier County Senior Citizens Appreciation Day also honored those who have made the event possible over the years.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray handed out a number of awards to local businesses for supporting this longstanding county event.

Sponsors who were recognized on Friday included 10-Year-Sponsor Awards to De Queen Medical Equipment and Supply, Southwest Electric Cooperative and Southwest EMS.

A 20-Year-Sponsor Award went to Bancorp South. A single 30-Year-Sponsor Award went to Suttle Equipment of De Queen.

Organizers gave a huge thank you to these businesses for their many years of support to Sevier County Senior Citizens Appreciation Day.

This weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Arkansas    6/09/2021

Starting this coming Friday at 12 noon and continuing through Sunday, June 13 at midnight is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s annual Free Fishing Weekend.

Residents and nonresidents may fish this weekend without a fishing license or trout permits. This applies to the entire state of Arkansas. So if you’ve been considering a new hobby this is the weekend to try your luck in many of Arkansas fish filled waters.

Regulations for waters still apply such as daily, slot, and length limits. If you decide hitting the water is for you you can purchase a Resident Fish License for $10.50 and a Trout permit for $10.00.

So dust off the tacklebox and re-spool the reel in preparation for this weekend of fun in the sun.

Friendship Baptist hosting VBS this weekend    6/09/2021

DE QUEEN – Friendship Baptist Church in De Queen will host a Vacation Bible School this Saturday, June 12. The event will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through three that afternoon. Registration will begin at 9:30 that morning. Friendship Baptist Church is located at 1121 North Ninth Street in De Queen.

Area under flash flood watch through Tuesday evening    6/08/2021
The flash flood watch covering the listening area has been extended through seven o’clock this evening. The watch was extended given the heavy rainfall seen throughout Monday and into Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service, the flash flood watch affects Sevier, Howard, Little River and McCurtain Counties as well as surrounding areas. The watch will remain in effect through seven Tuesday morning.

An additional two to four inches are possible Tuesday with higher amounts of six or more inches possible in isolated areas, according to the National weather Service. We’ve received reports of some roads beginning to flood or already covered in water as of Tuesday morning with more rain on the way. Flash flooding is particularly likely in urban and poor drainage areas as well as some county roads in the area.

During any flash flooding situation, the National Weather Service and emergency responders urge everyone to follow the mantra: Turn Around, Don’t Drown. Twelve inches of water crossing a road is enough to sweep away most vehicles. It’s vital to not underestimate the power of water, especially in a flash flooding situation.

Tuesday is set to bring more heavy rain with chances of thunderstorms this evening. Fortunately, Wednesday is expected to start bringing in some drier weather with no additional rain chances this week.

County mourns loss of long-serving Justice of the Peace    6/08/2021

DE QUEEN – Family, friends and local government officials are mourning the loss of one of Sevier County’s longest-serving individuals after he passed away over the weekend.

Michael Ruel Archer, known as Mike to everyone, passed away in Little Rock on Saturday, June 5. He had been suffering from bad health. Born in Hot Springs, Archer was a lifelong resident of De Queen. He was the owner and manager of Western Auto in De Queen for over 20 years as well as a farmer. He served in the U.S. Army and graduated from the University of Arkansas.

He is perhaps best known for his long service on the Sevier County Quorum Court, a position he held for 26 years. He was most influential as the chair of the quorum court’s budget committee. In this position he always placed the utmost emphasis on ensuring Sevier County taxpayers saw the revenue they contributed to the county spent wisely and efficiently. He played a significant leadership role on the quorum court, focusing on fiscal responsibility and serving as a source of wisdom and knowledge for newer local government officials.

In addition, Archer also dedicated his time to the Sevier County Water Board, the Tri-County Water Board and his church, First Baptist Church in De Queen.

Archer is survived by his wife, Marilyn, as well as daughter, Meredith Archer of Plano, Texas; son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Aneta Archer of Conway; a sister, Deborah Bickely of De Queen; as well as a number of nieces, grandchildren and numerous other relatives.

A family graveside for Mr. Archer will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday June 9, 2021 at the Redmen Cemetery Pavilion. A memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. at Kern Heights Baptist Church in De Queen with Bobby Fischer officiating, under the direction of Wilkerson Funeral Home in De Queen.

Family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. this evening at the funeral home.

Archer is the second justice of the peace on the Sevier County Quorum Court to pass away within the last year. Charles Keels, who represented District 2 on the quorum court, passed away last September. His wife, Evelyn, was appointed to serve out the reminder of his term earlier this spring.

The passing of Archer leaves open the position of District 7 Justice of the Peace. Similar to Keels’ position, the filling of this vacancy will be handled through Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office.

The Sevier County Courthouse will be closed on Wednesday, June 9 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to allow colleagues the opportunity to attend Archer’s funeral services.

Konner Shelton earns title of Arkansas “Champion of Champions”    6/08/2021

Congrats to Konnor Shelton, pictured center, of the FCC Shooters from the First Christian Church in De Queen for shooting his way to become the “2021 Arkansas “Champion of Champions” at the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports State Finals on Saturday.

JACKSONVILLE – Congrats to Konnor Shelton of the FCC Shooters from the First Christian Church in De Queen for shooting his way to become the “2021 Arkansas “Champion of Champions” at the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports State Finals on Saturday.

Konnor received a $2,500 scholarship from the Dr Doyne and Nancy Williams Endowment Fund.  2021 marks the first year of the scholarship from the Williams family. Organizers of the championship shoot gave a huge congratulations to Konner for his accomplishment at the annual tournament and a big thank you Dr Doyne and Nancy Williams for establishing the scholarship.

Dalton Janes Memorial Skeet Shoot this weekend in Broken Bow    6/08/2021

BROKEN BOW, Okla. – The annual Dalton Janes Memorial Skeet Shoot has been rescheduled to this Saturday, June 12. The yearly memorial competition is designed to help raise money for scholarships for local students.

The event will take place at 1961 Gardenia Road in Broken Bow and signs will be in place to help those arriving.

The memorial skeet shoot is open to everyone with several divisions, including adults and children. There will be a trophy for the highest shooter in all three categories.

Organizers say everyone is welcome to come by, compete in the skeet shoot and enjoy some free food and fellowship will remembering Dalton Janes and raising scholarships for local students. Numerous prizes will also be given away.

The event will kick off at 10 a.m. this Saturday and continue until the last shooter competes.

Sevier 4-H, Dr. Walker’s office team up for box fan drive for local seniors    6/08/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H’ers are teaming up with Dr. Randy Walker to hold a box fan drive for senior citizens in Sevier County.

Organizers say many senior citizens in the area go without cool air during the hot summer months. This program seeks to provide some relief to them.

If you, or someone you know, needs a box fan, contact Dr. Randy Walker’s office at (870) 584-3000.

If you would like to donate a box fan or funds for the program, contact either the Sevier County Extension Office at 584-3013 or Tonya Wolcott at 784-3849.

Area under flash flood watch through Tuesday morning    6/07/2021
DE QUEEN – A flash flood watch is currently in effect for the listening area after a weekend full of rain and more expected today and tomorrow.

According to the National Weather Service, the flash flood watch affects Sevier, Howard, Little River and McCurtain Counties as well as surrounding areas. The watch will remain in effect through seven Tuesday morning.

Rain predictions for today are 90 percent with another 70 percent on Tuesday. Forecasters said rainfall totals of two to three inches are expected with isolated higher amounts possible. Rainfall may occur in a short period of time and may impact locations that have seen heavy rainfall over the last few days, according to the National Weather Service. Flash flooding is particularly likely in urban and poor drainage areas.

Drier weather is expected starting midweek with only slight rain chances this weekend.

Over 200 seniors registered at today’s Sevier County Senior Citizens Day    6/07/2021

Sterling and Pud Daniel of De Queen were recognized as the longest married couple in attendance at the 39th annual Sevier County Senior Citizens Apperciation Day on Friday. They’ve been married an amazing 72 years. Sterling was also recognized as the oldest man and oldest veteran in attendance at the event. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific campaigns during the Second World War. They are pictured with Sevier County Judge Greg Ray (center), who presented the Daniels with their plaque.

DE QUEEN – Organizers of Sevier County’s Senior Citizens Day celebration say today’s event was a huge success, with over 200 registered seniors and nearly 50 vendors on site.

Attendance was down from previous years but organizers say not by much. A lower attendance was expected given prevailing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angie Walker of Dr. Randy Walker’s office and one of the main organizers of the event, said overall the event went perfectly. She also shared some insights into the significance of the appreciation day and what our seniors mean to the community.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray, another longstanding organizer of the event, said he was happy to see beautiful weather and a large group of vendors great today’s guests.

Mary Johnson of De Queen was recognized as the oldest woman in attendance at Friday’s 39th annual Sevier County Senior Citizens Appreciation Day. She is 94 years old. Pictured presenting the award to Ms. Johnson is Sevier County Judge Greg Ray.

One of the event’s most cherished moments is highlighting Sevier County’s oldest man, woman and veteran, as well as the county’s longest married couple.

Well, one guest as today’s event was a ringer, earning three of those awards. Sterling Daniel, a veteran of the Second World War and a former alderman for the City of De Queen, was recognized as the oldest man attending today’s event and the oldest veteran. In addition, he and his wife, Pud, were highlighted as the longest married couple at an amazing 72 years!

Mary Johnson of De Queen was the oldest woman in attendance at 94-years-old.

Horatio Public Schools issue statement after arrest of former employee    6/07/2021

CONWAY – The Horatio School District said it is fully cooperating with law enforcement agencies in an investigation regarding a former employee who was arrested lasted month on nearly three dozen counts of possession of child pornography.

In a statement, Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the district is aware of the case regarding Ryan James Smith, a former employee of the district who left in June of 2016. Smith was arrested on May 28 on 35 counts of possession of child pornography.

The Horatio School District said it will cooperate with authorities to assure the safety of its students, which Vanderpool said is the district’s first priority.

Officers with the Conway Police Department arrested 32-year-old Ryan James Smith on Thursday, May 28 at his home in Conway. Police say he is being charged with 35 counts of child pornography after it was allegedly discovered on a computer he owned.

Conway police said the investigation is ongoing and no additional details have been made available. Smith is currently being held in the Faulkner County Jail.

Smith worked as a coach for the Horatio School District in 2016 before finding employment at the Danville School District. He worked there until 2020.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in the case and is advising anyone who was a possible victim of James’ to contact the office at (870) 642-2125.

Horatio Public Schools hosting basketball camp    6/07/2021

HORATIO – Today is the deadline to early register for the Better Basketball Positionless Skills Camp at Horatio Public Schools. The basketball camp is scheduled for June 15-17 from 5 to 7 p.m. each evening. The camp will offer basketball training for students in grades second through ninth at the Horatio Practice Gym. Cost is $25 per day or $50 for all three days. Included in the cost is a camp t-shirt, but registration must be completed by 4 p.m. today to guarantee one. A number of giveaways will be held during the camp. For more information email ldorsey@horatioschools.org or visit the Horatio School District’s Facebook page.

Master Gardener online auction going on now    6/07/2021

You don’t need a green thumb to attend the Arkansas Master Gardeners auction this year. It’s online, open to all, and free to attend.

The online­ auction will be open through June 11 with more than 200 items available at https://county76auction.uada.edu.

Gardeners of all abilities will find plenty of items, from tools and seed to rain barrels and garden gnomes. Ferns, hanging baskets, succulents and more will be available as well.

Plenty of items for non-gardeners are also available, including spa services, salon hair products, James Hayes glass art, autographed books, tickets to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and homemade goat soap. A few edibles‚ such as honey, jams, jellies and fresh eggs will also be available.

The auction coincides with the Master Gardeners annual conference, which will be virtual this year. The online auction is open to the public at no charge.

Bidders must register and provide a credit card for purchases. Purchases will be by credit card only. Winning bidders’ credit cards will be charged when the auction ends at noon on June 11.

Winners will pick up items at designated locations and times.

County 76 Master Gardeners, the statewide advisory group for the Arkansas Master Gardener program, organizes the auction each year.

Proceeds support the Janet B. Carson County Scholarship Fund, which awards funds to counties for innovative and educational projects, and provides scholarships to college-bound high school students. Proceeds also help offset the cost of the Master Gardeners annual leadership conference.

More than 3,100 volunteers are active in Arkansas Master Gardeners. The program is administered by the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Their mission is to extend research-based information through demonstration and educational programs to strengthen local communities and families throughout Arkansas.

To learn more about Master Gardeners in Arkansas, visit https://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/master-gardeners/ or contact the Sevier County Cooperative Extension Office at (870) 584-3013. In Little River County that number is (870) 898-7224.

COVID figures continue to remain low in Southwest Arkansas    6/07/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County saw a single net increase since last week, with six currently confirmed active cases in the county. Total cases grew just slightly over the last week to 2,805. Deaths have not seen an increase in several months and remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting just wo active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,255 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42.

Howard County is reporting three active cases at this time. Total cases number 1,667 and deaths 25.

Active cases in Polk County currently number eight. Total cases rose slightly last week to 2,012. Deaths did not increase last week and remain at 74.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 88 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Sunday for a cumulative total of over 342,000 transmissions. Active cases fell by 74 to 1,707 currently. No deaths were reported yesterday. Currently 187 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus, an increase of six from the day before.

American Legion Post 54 to host luncheon in commemoration of D-Day anniversary     6/04/2021
The American Legion Post 54, based in De Queen, will host a hotdog lunch for the community this weekend to honor the 77th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War II.

The event will be held on Sunday, June 6 starting at 1 p.m. at the legion hut at 513 North Eighth Street in De Queen. Lunch will be offered by donation.

Organizers say the event will be held in commemoration of the D-Day landings during the Second World War. The operation, which was the largest amphibious assault in history and involved troops from the United States, Britain, Canada and other Allied nations, opened up a vulnerable second front against Nazi Germany and helped bring a quicker end to that devastating war.

The American Legion Post 54 invites everyone from the community to come by and learn more about the American Legion while also honoring this famous and historic event.

Ashdown man sentenced to life for murder of 16-year-old child     6/04/2021

TEXARKANA, Texas – An Ashdown man was sentenced to life in prison last week by a Texas jury for the murder of a minor last year.

Demarius DeJuan Taylor, 21, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for killing Notorious Crabtree.

The murder occurred following an altercation on Ash Street in Texarkana last year. Following that fight, Taylor fired a handgun into the crowd, striking Crabtree. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Prosecutors presented the jury with two 2019 violations in California and Arkansas in which Taylor was arrested while possessing firearms. This previous offenses led the prosecution to successfully seek the life sentence in Taylor’s case.

Listening area in for another wet, stormy week and weekend     6/04/2021

DE QUEEN – The listening area is going to be in for another wet weekend thanks to a new storm front entering the region tomorrow.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service are calling for a 60 percent chance of showers beginning Saturday morning with thunderstorms possible later that afternoon. Those chances grow into Sunday, with a 90 percent chance of thunderstorms as the end of the weekend. More thunderstorms are predicted through the end of next week.

No watches or warnings are currently in effect but the National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook suggesting rainfall could be heavy and lead to flooding across some areas. Otherwise, the risk of these storms becoming severe is currently low.

Yesterday’s blue skies were a welcome reprieve to the wet and cloudy weather we’ve seen nearly nonstop this spring. Hopefully you had a chance to enjoy yesterday’s weather because it’s likely to be the last nice day we get for at least the seven days.

Pre-trial hearing reset for Lockesburg woman charged with negligent homicide, DWI     6/04/2021

A fall pre-trial hearing has been set for a Lockesburg woman facing charges for her involvement in a 2020 vehicular accident that left one man dead.

According to court records, 33-year-old Brandi Turner of Lockesburg will appear before the Howard County Circuit Court for the pre-trial hearing on Sept. 29. Turner’s pre-trial hearing was originally scheduled for June 9 but a continuance was issued until later this year.

Turner was charged in late January with negligent homicide as well as second-degree battery and driving while intoxicated in relation to a fatal accident in Howard County on Oct. 17 of last year.

Prosecutors allege Turner was intoxicated at the time of the accident. According to the Arkansas State Police, Turner was traveling north on Highway 27 around 11:30 that night when she crossed the centerline and collided with two other vehicles. The investigating state trooper reported Turner collided head-on with a 2013 Dodge Avenger. The driver of the avenger, 58-year-old Tony Ray Young of Mineral Springs, was killed in the accident. A passenger, listed as an unnamed minor in the report, was injured.

No injuries occurred in the third vehicle, according to the investigating state trooper. Road and weather conditions at the time of the accident were reported as clear and dry.

The investigation continued following the accident with the authorities issuing a warrant for access to Turner’s cellphone.

A toxicology report alleges Turner was over the legal limit in terms of alcohol consumption when the accident occurred. The negligent homicide charge is a Class B Felony which can carry a sentence of five to 20 years in prison. In addition, Turner has been charged with second degree battery for the minor injured in the accident. That charge can carry an additional sentence of three to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

Turner’s pre-trial hearing has been set for Sept. 29 in the Howard County Circuit Court.

Local youth competing today and tomorrow at state shooting competition     6/04/2021

JACKSONVILLE – A local team and several local youth are competing today and tomorrow to earn the title of Arkansas’ top shot.

The Horatio Junior Trap Team earned their spot to the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program State Championship by placing 13th out of 103 teams. The competed last month at the South Region Junior Division competition at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex. They are set to compete again today for the finals beginning at 9 a.m.

During the qualifier, seventh grader Rhett Walker shot 22 out of 25 thrown clays. Sixth grader Ty Dorsey followed close with 21. The eighth graders finished strong with Titus Caudle scoring 20, Konner Bailey 17 and team captain, Logan Chandler, shooting a 15. Seventh grader Brian Lampi shot 14/25 clays.

One young man from De Queen is also competing this weekend at the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program state tournament after shooting a perfect score at the regional conference.

Konnor Shelton, captain of the senior trap shooting team for First Christian Church of De Queen, shot a flawless 50/50 at the regional qualifiers in Jacksonville last month. The perfect score secured him a trip back to Jacksonville on June 5 to compete in the state tournament for Arkansas top youth shot.

Jared Day of Ashdown has also been invited to participate in the Champion of Champions shootoff at the AYSSP State Championships this weekend.

The final rounds will go live at about 1:30 p.m., depending on how quickly the first five rounds proceed in getting to the championship and the third-place matchups. The Champion of Champions shootoffs involve the perfect scorers from junior (25 shots) and senior (50 shots) regional tournaments. Each participant competes until missing a shot; the last person standing is the Champion of Champions.

The senior Champion of Champions will receive a $2,500 scholarship for college.

The final rounds of the state championship will be carried today and tomorrow on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission YouTube channel with Trey Reid, host of “Arkansas Wildlife,” handling the “clay-by-clay” commentary.

To see all scores from the tournaments, visit https://apps.agfc.com/ayssp.

Sevier County 4-H, Dr. Walker’s Office to host box fan drive for area seniors     6/04/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H’ers are teaming up with Dr. Randy Walker to hold a box fan drive for senior citizens in Sevier County.

Organizers say many senior citizens in the area go without cool air during the hot summer months. This program seeks to provide some relief to them.

If you, or someone you know, needs a box fan, contact Dr. Randy Walker’s office at (870) 584-3000.

If you would like to donate a box fan or funds for the program, contact either the Sevier County Extension Office at 584-3013 or Tonya Wolcott at 784-3849.

De Queen City Pool now open     6/04/2021

DE QUEEN – The City of De Queen’s pool is back open to visitors just in time for the upcoming summer season. The pool kicked off the season with a free community swim on Memorial Day and will be open now Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. The pool is also open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and closed on Sunday. General admission is $3 per person. Season passes are $50 per person, or $200 for a family pass that covers four or more family members.

The pool is open exclusively to adults Monday through Friday from 9-10 a.m. The pool is only open to adults 25 and older during this time and there is no cost to swim. The pool is also open for private pool party rentals by calling (870) 642-4140. The pool can be rented for between two and six hours Monday through Saturday. The pool is reserved on Sundays and Wednesdays for church groups and local vacation bible schools.

For more information on the De Queen Dolphin Swim Team, contact Jill Smith at (870) 279-0567.

July 1 is deadline to apply for Arkansas Lottery Scholarships     6/04/2021

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery (ASL) announced today that July 1 is the deadline to apply for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship.

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery provides tuition assistance to traditional and non-traditional students attending universities and two-year colleges – both public and private – in the state. Since its inception in 2009, the Arkansas lottery has helped raise more than $1 billion in scholarship proceeds and awarded more than 650,000 Academic Challenge Scholarships to students.

Traditional students must score at least 19 on the ACT to qualify for the scholarship. The latest ACT score accepted by the Arkansas Division of Higher Education will be from the June testing. Students who have yet to achieve a score of 19 make take the Accuplacer test as a substitute.

Freshman students at four-year colleges receive $1,000 from the scholarship. Second- and third-year students receive $4,000, and senior-level students are awarded $5,000 per year.

At two-year colleges, first-year students receive $1,000 annually, while second-year students are awarded $3,000. To maintain eligibility, students must keep a 2.5 grade point average.

Additionally, students seeking certification for high-demand occupations in healthcare information technology and industrial manufacturing may apply for the Arkansas Workforce Challenge Scholarship, which is also funded by lottery revenue. Students must apply at least 30 days before enrolling in an eligible program.

Finally, funding is available for high school students who wish to start early on receiving credit for college courses through the Arkansas Concurrent Academic Challenge Scholarship. It pays $125 per credit for up to two concurrent-credit courses per semester of the student’s junior and senior high school year.

For more information and to apply, students may visit scholarships.adhe.edu.

State law enforcement officers warn of catalytic converter thefts     6/04/2021

State law enforcement officers are warning Arkansans that catalytic converter thefts are on the rise and are sharing some tips on how people can protect their automobiles from this type of crime.

A catalytic converter is an EPA-approved exhaust emission control device that is usually found beneath the vehicle as part of the exhaust system. Thieves are stealing catalytic converters from all types of automobiles for the precious metals contained within. Specifically, hybrid and lower emission vehicles contain higher amounts of precious metals in their converters and certain larger vehicles have multiple catalytic converters making both high value targets.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to protect their catalytic converters from theft:

Whenever possible, park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances.

If you have a garage, park your car inside and keep the garage shut.

Consider having the catalytic converter welded to your car’s frame, making it harder to steal.

Calibrate your car’s alarm system to alert you when it detects vibrations.

Most catalytic converters do not have serial numbers, so engraving your car’s VIN can help identify your catalytic converter if it is stolen.

Consumers should notify their insurance company if your catalytic converter is stolen.

If Arkansas consumers find that their catalytic converters have been stolen, they should file a report with their local law enforcement agency. Then contact ScrapTheftAlert.com to report a theft.

WMA deer hunt permits on sale through July 1     6/04/2021

The application period for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Wildlife Management Area Deer Permit hunts is open until midnight July 1. Hunters interested in pursuing white-tailed deer on some of the most popular public deer hunting areas in the state may apply through the AGFC’s licensing system at www.agfc.com.

Hunting deer on privately owned land and many WMAs throughout the state requires only a hunting license with big-game privileges, but many of the AGFC’s most popular areas can become crowded or overhunted without special restrictions. On many of the most popular areas, the AGFC conducts special draw hunts to maintain healthy deer herds and high-quality hunting experiences.

WMA Deer Hunt Permit applications are available for $5 per application type. If successful, applicants receive their permit without additional fees. Each hunter may submit one application for each type of permit hunt: youth hunt, archery, muzzleloader and modern gun. Mobility-impaired individuals also may apply for special mobility-impaired hunts through the permit system.

Hunters must be at least 6 years old by the beginning of the hunt, and hunters applying for youth hunts must be at least 6, but no older than 15, the day the hunt begins. To apply for a youth hunt, the youth hunter must be logged in under his or her own Customer ID in the licensing system. Youth hunts do not appear as an option to choose in the licensing system for any hunters older than 16.

Hunters applying for regular modern gun and muzzleloader hunts may do so as individuals or they may apply as a group of up to four, thanks to the AGFC’s party hunt system. Applying as a party does not increase the chances of each individual being drawn.

Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival postponed again due to high lake levels     6/02/2021
DE QUEEN – The 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival has been postponed again.

Continually high lake levels and more rain forecasts are forcing organizers to postpone the event for a second time. Originally scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, the bass tournament was first rescheduled for June 5. That date is now being rescheduled to June 19.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said lake levels are just too high – and boat landings and parking areas too flooded – to hold the bass tournament this weekend. Currently, De Queen Lake is around 17 feet above normal elevation, Gillham is 16 and Dierks Lake is 21 feet above normal lake levels.

An extremely wet May and a rainy start to June has meant all three lakes remain above normal elevation and some of the traditional boat landings are still completely underwater. More rain is scheduled this week and weekend as well as into next week. Ray said another three to five inches are expected next week.

Although it’s been rescheduled, registration continues for this year’s Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. on June 5. Late registration is $50. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.

Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.

Over $14,000 in cash prizes will be awarded during the tournament, including $1,500 for catching the biggest bass.

For more information, contact Greg Ray at (870) 642-2425 or the Chamber of Commerce office at (870) 584-3225.

JBS announces processing plants will reopen today     6/02/2021

GREELEY, Colo. – JBS-owned facilities are expected to reopen today after unexpected closures yesterday due to a suspected cybersecurity attack over the holiday weekend.

Corporate officials said Tuesday the vast majority of its plants were expected to be operational Wednesday following the cyberattack. JBS announced on Monday that it had determined it was the target of an organized cybersecurity attack, affecting a number of IT servers supporting its North American and Australian operations.

A press release issued on Monday stated the company took immediate action to suspend affected systems and notified authorities. However, the attack forced the closure of all JBS beef plants in the United States and Australia. Numerous other facilities were forced to close Tuesday due to the disruption.

Among those plants closed yesterday was the De Queen-based Pilgrim’s poultry processing facility, which is owned by JBS. Corporate officials did not respond to an email asking if the De Queen plant’s closure was related to the cyberattack. The plant, however, cancelled both Tuesday shifts.

Pilgrim’s has announced the De Queen facility will be back in operation as of Wednesday morning.

At a press briefing yesterday afternoon, a White House spokesperson said JBS notified the administration that the cyberattack came from a criminal organization likely based in Russia. JBS has not publicly disclosed if it was targeted by a ransomware attack like that against Colonial Pipeline last month. In that attack, Colonial Pipeline paid a several million dollar ransom to restart fuel distribution operations which initially caused major shortages of fuel on the east coast.

Rep. Vaught presents plaques to Horatio Teachers of the Year     6/02/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught, left, presents Vickie DeVore with a plaque recognizing her as the Horatio High School Teacher of the Year.

HORATIO – State Representative DeAnn Vaught held a small ceremony last week to recognize and honor the Teachers of the Year at Horatio High School.

Rep. Vaught presented Arkansas State Legislature plaques to Horatio High School Teacher of the Year Vickie Devore and Horatio Elementary Teacher of the Year Karen Woods.

Ms. DeVore is currently teaching history and social studies at Horatio High School. She has been with the Horatio School District for 13 of her 27 years in education. She graduated from East Texas State University with a BSE in Secondary Education with emphasis in History and then received her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction in Secondary Education with English emphasis from Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas.

Ms. DeVore said her classroom philosophy includes the belief that the greatest gift she can give a student is the ability to think critically.

State Representative DeAnn Vaught, left, presents Karen Woods with a plaque recognizing her as the Horatio Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Woods is retiring this year from education.

Ms. Woods is currently teaching fourth grade at Horatio Elementary School. She has been with the Horatio School District for 11 of her 28 years in education. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education plus has acquired an additional 18 hours of coursework. Her certifications include K-6, early childhood, 5-8 social studies, and ELL.

Ms. Woods’ philosophy of education includes clear expectations, a focus on developing thinking skills, and student differentiation.

Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said it’s been a great honor to get to know these talented and dedicated teachers during his first year at Horatio. He added that both Ms. Devore and Ms. Woods are not only assets to Horatio students but also to the education profession as a whole.

Ashdown man sentenced to life for 2020 murder     6/02/2021

TEXARKANA, Texas – An Ashdown man was sentenced to life in prison last week by a Texas jury for the murder of a minor last year.

Demarius DeJuan Taylor, 21, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for killing Notorious Crabtree.

The murder occurred following an altercation on Ash Street in Texarkana last year. Following that fight, Taylor fired a handgun into the crowd, striking Crabtree. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Prosecutors presented the jury with two 2019 violations in California and Arkansas in which Taylor was arrested while possessing firearms. This previous offenses led the prosecution to successfully seek the life sentence in Taylor’s case.

Cicadas not likely to make big appearance in Arkansas this year     6/02/2021

To see, hear or read the national news, one could be forgiven for thinking cicadas were the new national pastime, or possibly an invading force.

And for some areas east of the Mississippi River, they nearly are. Brood X cicadas — millions upon millions of them — have emerged in more than a dozen eastern states after 17 years underground, the sounds of their mating calls nearly drowning out all else.

And yet, it is nearly all quiet, here on the Arkansas front. Emily McDermott, assistant professor of entomology and plant pathology for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said it will likely remain that way for another few years.

Unfortunately, she said we’ll have to wait a few more years for our next emergence of periodical cicadas here in Arkansas.

She said Brood XIX cicadas, which emerge on a 13-year cycle, are expected in Northwest Arkansas in 2024. Brood XXIII, another set of periodical cicadas, emerged in Arkansas in 2015.

Arkansans can still expect to see (and hear) the annual cicadas known as “dog day” cicadas this summer, however. The species, which has a shorter life cycle of five to six weeks, emerge every summer, typically during the hottest days of the season. The Brood X cicadas, in contrast, typically live for 10 to 16 weeks.

They won’t be quite as overwhelming as the periodical cicadas will be on the east coast, but people will still see them around. Unlike the black and yellow and red periodical cicadas, dog day cicadas will be mostly green with black markings.

With the emergence of cicadas also comes large wasps, commonly known as “cicada killers.” These insects catch cicadas and feed them to their larvae, but tend not to bother with humans, McDermott said.

Last summer, there were a lot of people who saw cicada killers and were concerned that they were the invasive Asian giant hornets that were all over the news,” McDermott explained. They are both large, intimidating, stinging insects, but we do not have the Asian giant hornet in Arkansas.

Cicada killers are native insects, and Arkansans shouldn’t fear them, McDermott said.

Former Horatio coach arrested on child pornography charges     6/01/2021
CONWAY – A former Horatio coach is facing nearly three dozen counts of possession of child pornography following his arrest in Conway last week.

Officers with the Conway Police Department arrested 32-year-old Ryan James Smith on Thursday, May 28 at his home in Conway. Police say he is being charged with 35 counts of child pornography after it was allegedly discovered on a computer he owned.

Conway police said the investigation is ongoing and no additional details have been made available. Smith is currently being held in the Faulkner County Jail.

Smith worked as a coach for the Horatio School District in 2017 before finding employment at the Danville School District. He worked there until 2020.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in the case and is advising anyone who was a possible victim of James’ to contact the office at (870) 642-2125.

Work begins on astroturf field at Leopard Stadium     6/01/2021

DE QUEEN – Work began last week on Leopard Stadium’s new Astroturf field.

Crews started the process of building up the natural and artificial foundation for the Astroturf field last week in hopes of having the field ready for use by the next school year.

This year athletic officials with the De Queen School District saw a long-time dream become reality after the school board voted to construct an astroturf field at Leopard Stadium.

The De Queen School Board voted unanimously in April to incorporate an astroturf field at Leopard Stadium, which hosts the district’s football and soccer games as well as other sports and community-wide events. De Queen is one of only a handful of high schools in the state without an astroturf field.

The total cost of the field is estimated at $880,000. Administration and athletic officials spent the last five months building partnerships with the community to help raise donations for the new field. Thanks to that push, the district was able to collect $535,000 in private donations from businesses in De Queen. At April’s meeting, the school board voted to put up the additional $345,000 needed to build the field.

The biggest sponsor for the new field is Diamond Bank with a $150,000 donation. Other sponsors include KDQN, Pilgrim’s, Gentry Chevrolet, Peak Therapy, Shelter Insurance, De Queen Auto Group, Dr. Randy Walker, De Queen Church of Christ, Horatio State Bank and Tri-State Asphalt. The field will be financed through a three-percent, 10-year loan from Diamond Bank. Sanders said the 10-year note will allow some sponsors to provide their donations over the next decade as opposed to all at once.

Sanders and Leopards Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir highlighted the multiple benefits of astroturf. Those include the well-documented safety aspects of astroturf, the lower maintenance requirements and the visual improvement it will bring to Leopard Stadium.

Chesshir said the astroturf field, coupled with other recent and ongoing improvements at Leopard Stadium, will provide benefits to the whole community.

The astroturf would have been a much greater challenge for the district without the tremendous community support, said De Queen Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton.

Sanders said some other individuals and businesses may be interested in supporting the new field – and they are greatly welcomed.

The astroturf field will include a field stabilizer as well as an additional concrete foundation that includes a 24-year warranty. Sanders added that the field is expected to be in use by the district beginning Aug. 1 of this year.

Sevier County Block Parties begin June 8     6/01/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Block Party Committee is announcing a number of events starting this month aimed at continuing to foster closer relations between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry founded the annual Block Party celebrations a number of years ago to help strengthen those relationships. The first event was so successful, said organizers, they decided to hold them annually.

This year, the Block Party Committee is hosting a number of events across the county. The first is scheduled for next Tuesday, June 8 from 6-8 p.m. at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen. That will be followed by another event at the Horatio City Park on June 29.

The Gillham Fire Department will host a block party on July 13 and then in Lockesburg on Aug. 3 at the Lockesburg City Park. The two final events are scheduled for Aug. 24 at the Ben Lomond Community Building and then again in De Queen on Sept. 14 at the Sportsplex.

The events will focus on providing a fun, family-oriented event. The Block Party will include a bounce house, free hot dogs, frozen treats and popcorn. The event will once again feature a Little Debbie eating contest for kids and adults. There will be numerous prizes given away including a bike as well as various gift cards and gift certificates.

For more information visit the Sevier County Block Party Committee on Facebook.

Listening area braces for another week of wet weather     6/01/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s likely to be another wet week in the listening area.

According to the National Weather Service, each day this week has rain chances – as if we haven’t got enough already. Today’s chances are the greatest for the week at 80 percent. Those chances lessen some this evening and through the week, with most days having chances no greater than 40 percent.

Currently, however, Saturday has a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms and rainfall.

The forecast includes Sevier and surrounding areas. Currently no watches or warnings are in effect but, as well as know in Arkansas, that could change at any time, especially in regards to flash flooding.

Little River Chamber of Commerce presents Citizen of the Year Award to Matt Richardson; honors local groups, businesses and educators     6/01/2021

ASHDOWN – The Little River County Chamber of Commerce held its annual Awards Banquet on May 28 to honor local businesses, educators and individuals from the community. The event was held at the Barbara Horn Civic Center of the UA Cossatot Ashdown campus.

The 2021 Renovation Award went to Ashdown Elementary School while New Construction went to David Feed Company.

The Large Business Award was given to Horatio State Bank’s Foreman branch. Small Business of the Year was awarded to Next Step Gym and Cutting Edge.

Chamber officials presented the Non-Profit Organization award to the Ashdown Cemetery. Outstanding Healthcare Professional went to Wes Aylett.

Other recipients included Zane Butler, who was named Exceptional Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Foreman Teacher of the Year Michelle Green, Ashdown Teacher of the Year Shawnda Chester and UA Cossatot Instructor of the Year Tamla Heminger.

The Panther Ambassador of the Year was awarded to Emma Wrinkle while Chris Haywood received Gator Ambassador of the Year.

The Clayton Castleman Public Service Award was presented to Kim Befeld. The Steve Pearce Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Matt Richardson.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     6/01/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County have not seen a net increase or decrease since last week, with five currently confirmed active cases in the county. Total cases grew just slightly over the last week to 2,800. Deaths have not seen an increase in several months and remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting five active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,254 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42.

Howard County is reporting four active cases at this time. Total cases number 1,665 and deaths 25.

Active cases in Polk County currently number 12. Total cases rose slightly last week to 2,010. Deaths did not increase last week and remain at 74.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 30 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Monday for a cumulative total of over 341,000 transmissions. Active cases fell by 217 to 1,721 currently. One death was reported yesterday for a total of 5,833 since last spring. Currently 200 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus, an increase of six from the day before.

Tax assessment deadline is unofficially today due to Monday holiday     5/28/2021
DE QUEEN – Sevier County Assessor Sheila Ridley and her office are reminding everyone that personal taxes must be assessed by May 31st to avoid a penalty as provided by law. And with Monday being Memorial Day, that really means today is the deadline.

A 10 percent penalty will be applied if you assess your taxable property after the May 31 deadline.

When you assess your taxes all changes in real estate structures must be reported.

Be sure and apply for Amendment 79, the homestead credit, if you haven’t already. You do not need to reapply for this credit each year. If you are 65 years of age or older you can receive a property tax value freeze.

You can call (870) 584-3182 to assess personal property or come by 115 N. Third Street, Suite 117 at the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. You can also email scassessor@windstream.net

Memorial Day closings     5/28/2021

DE QUEEN – Monday, May 31 is Memorial Day, a day to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice of the men and women who died while serving in the United States armed forces.

In commemoration of the holiday, area banks and government offices and some businesses will be closed.

The De Queen, Horatio and Lockesburg City Halls will all be closed in observance of Memorial Day. The trash route for De Queen has been adjusted: Monday’s trash will be picked up on Tuesday, Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday while Thursday and Friday will remain the same.

The Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill will both be closed on Monday and will reopen with regular operating hours on Tuesday, June 1.

Area senior citizen centers will also be closed for the holiday.

We here at KDQN Studios want to take this moment too to both honor and remember the U.S. military personnel who have died in the performance of their duties. Freedom isn’t free and it is they who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep the nation free and safe.

De Queen school officials honor longtime educator who passed away this week     5/28/2021

Sharon Gale Williams Pigeon, principal of De Queen Primary School and an employee of the De Queen School District for three decades, passed away on Wednesday, May 26.

DE QUEEN – Officials with the De Queen School District are honoring the memory of a longtime and very popular educator who passed away this week.

Sharon Gale Williams Pigeon, principal of De Queen Primary School and an employee of the De Queen School District for three decades, passed away on Wednesday, May 26.

In a statement, De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said he and the entire Leopard family were saddened to hear of the passing of Mrs. Pigeon. He added she was a tremendous educator and will be truly missed. Sanders said Mrs. Pigeon’s true passion was always the students of the De Queen School District.

Elementary Principal Terri Phillips stated, “Sharon Pigeon was the epitome of
professionalism and she gave 100% to anything she did. She believed in hard work, consistency,
high expectations, and meeting the needs of all students and teachers. I had the pleasure of
working with Sharon as a fellow teacher, as a D.I. Reading Coordinator (D.I. was her passion.),
and finally as my assistant principal for eight years. We shared the same educational philosophies
and were able to act as one. I never gave it a second thought if I had to be away from the
building because Sharon had my back. She became an outstanding principal for De Queen
Primary and never let anything get in her way of being true to her beliefs about education to
ensure that the needs of all children were met. She will be missed greatly, but
her legacy will live on.”

District officials said their prayers and thoughts will be with the Pigeon family.

Funeral services for Mrs. Pigeon will be held at 10 a.m. this Saturday, May 29 at First Assembly of God in De Queen with Micah Martin and Bradi Young officiating. Burial will follow in the Chapel Hill Cemetery under the direction of Wilkerson Funeral Home in De Queen. The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. this evening at the funeral home in De Queen.

Horatio Junior Trap Team heading to state contest     5/28/2021

In their first year, the Horatio Junior Trap Team earned their spot to the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program State Championship by placing 13th out of 103 teams. The competed last Friday at the South Region Junior Division competition at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex. (Photo submitted by Elizabeth Walker)

JACKSONVILLE – In their first year, the Horatio Junior Trap Team earned their spot to the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program State Championship by placing 13th out of 103 teams. The competed last Friday at the South Region Junior Division competition at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex.

Seventh grader Rhett Walker shot 22 out of 25 thrown clays. Sixth grader Ty Dorsey followed close with 21. The eighth graders finished strong with Titus Caudle scoring 20, Konner Bailey 17 and team captain, Logan Chandler, shooting a 15. Seventh grader Brian Lampi shot 14/25 clays.

One young man from De Queen will be heading to the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program state tournament next month after shooting a perfect score at the regional conference.

Konnor Shelton, captain of the senior trap shooting team for First Christian Church of De Queen, shot a flawless 50/50 at the regional qualifiers in Jacksonville last Saturday, May 22. The perfect score secured him a trip back to Jacksonville on June 5 to compete in the state tournament for Arkansas top youth shot.

Jared Day of Ashdown will also be invited to participate in the Champion of Champions shootoff at the AYSSP State Championships next weekend.

The final rounds of the state championship will be carried June 4-5 on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission YouTube channel with Trey Reid, host of “Arkansas Wildlife,” handling the “clay-by-clay” commentary.

To see all scores from the tournaments, visit https://apps.agfc.com/ayssp.

Reminder: This weekend’s Tri-Lakes bass tournament postponed to June 5     5/28/2021

Just a reminder that this weekend’s 31st Annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been postponed due to high lake levels.

Officials with the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce made the decision earlier this week to move the tournament back by a week due to lake levels at De Queen, Dierks and Gillham. An extremely wet May has meant all three lakes are above normal elevation and some of the traditional boat landings are still completely underwater.

Instead of this Saturday, the bass tournament will now be held June 5. Organizers hope this will allow enough time for clear weather to move in and lake levels to fall closer to normal levels.

Registration continues is continuing for this year’s Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. on June 5. Early registration is $45 per person. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.

Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.

Prizes include $1,500 for catching the biggest bass, $1,000 for second place and so on through fifth place. Prizes are awarded hourly as well for a total of around $10,000 in prize money at this year’s tournament.

This year the chamber is offering a registration bundle to participants. For $65, anglers can cover their registration fee and receive a tournament cap. Wear your hat at hourly weigh-ins and, if your catch takes first place that hour, you’ll receive an extra $50.

COVID-19 will still have some impact on this year’s tournament. Chamber officials said no award ceremony will be held due to the pandemic. All winners will receive prize money through the mail.

For more information, contact Greg Ray at 642-2445 or the Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3225.

Applications still being accepted for broadband benefit program     5/28/2021

The Arkansas Department of Commerce is continuing to accept applications for a new program to increase broadband service for eligible households during the pandemic.

The temporary benefit named the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that will lower the code of broadband services.

The $3.2 billion EBB program provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households or qualifying Tribal lands.

The program also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider.

A household is eligible if one member of the household meets certain criteria. That includes an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program;

-Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;

-Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;

-Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or

– Or meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

For more information, including application information, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov

Stay safe when enjoying the water this Memorial Day weekend     5/28/2021

Memorial Day weekend is one of the top three busiest weekends of the year for the region’s lakes and rivers, and officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expect that 2021 will be no exception.

With water levels high across the state, and with more rain in the forecast, boaters should exercise extreme caution. Some rivers and lakes in Arkansas (none locally, however) currently has a small craft advisory in effect, and law enforcement officials will be on the lookout for water safety and boating violations.

Officials with Arkansas State Parks and the Corps of Engineers ask everyone to remember to wear their life jackets when on or near water, don’t drink alcoholic beverages and operate a boat, never swim alone, and stick to designated swim areas.

Gillham will be prime viewing location for 2024 total solar eclipse     5/27/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Nowhere in Arkansas will the 2024 total solar eclipse be more total and for a longer period of time than in Gillham. Eclipse2024.org, a website dedicated to the event, lists Gillham as the location in Arkansas with the greatest length of totality at four minutes, 18.7 seconds. The entire path of totality will only be around 50 miles wide. Outside of that swath the eclipse will be only partially visible. (Photo courtesy of www.nationaleclipse.com)

Gillham is likely to be a busy place in April 2024.

That’s because Gillham is going to be one of the best places in the country to view the 2024 total solar eclipse, which will occur on the afternoon of April 8, 2024.

The predicted path of the solar eclipse shows Gillham exactly in the line of totality – meaning the sun will be entirely eclipsed by the moon, turning day into night.

Nowhere in the region will the eclipse be more total and for a longer period of time than in Gillham. Eclipse2024.org, a website dedicated to the event, lists Gillham as the location in Arkansas with the greatest length of totality at four minutes, 18.7 seconds. The entire path of totality will only be around 50 miles wide. Outside of that swath the eclipse will be only partially visible.

Of course, other communities in the path will be able to view the solar eclipse as it occurs. But, given the rarity of these events, every second counts. And with Gillham leading the state for the time of totality, visitors far and wide are likely to descend on the community in hopes of catching every moment of the eclipse.

The last total solar eclipse to occur in the United States was in 2017. Prior to this event, no solar eclipse had been visible across the entirety of the United States since 1918. The 2017 eclipse was the first in the era of social media and modern communications and saw correspondingly huge interest. Millions of people traveled across the country to catch a glimpse.

According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s population was doubled, maybe tripled by travelers from the U.S. and across the globe – all seeking to catch as much of the total solar eclipse as they could.

Besides the lengthy path it will take across the United States, the 2024 solar eclipse is likely to be a popular one for another reason: it’ll be the last one to touch North America until 2033. The only state that sees totality then will be Alaska, and the weather prospects for March in the Arctic will make this one a true challenge to view. After that, the eclipse will occur in 2044 and again in 2045. In other words, the 2024 solar eclipse won’t be one to miss.

So, ok, maybe it’s a little early to be too excited about an event nearly three years from now. But those who’ve experienced them say it’s a moment not to miss – and one you can’t prepare too early for.

Besides descending the afternoon to darkness, solar eclipses are known to cause a few funky things to happen. Solar power stations are likely to see a quick drop in energy output while certain flowers such as hibiscus can be seen withdrawing their leaves as if it was night. Animals, too, will act a little funny during the unexpected drop in light levels, such as chickens performing activities they only do shortly before entering their coop for the night.

Fortunately, everyone’s going to have plenty time to prepare for the 2024 eclipse. Starting scheduling those vacation days and lining up your favorite place to watch the sky.

And until then, you can learn nearly everything you need to know about this cosmological event – from the proper eye protection to simulated views of the eclipse for each impacted city – at www.eclipse2024.org.

Konner Shelton of De Queen shots perfect score at AYSSP regionals    5/27/2021

Konnor Shelton captain of the senior trap shooting team for First Christian Church shot a perfect score of 50/50 at the regional conference in Jacksonville Arkansas on Saturday May 22 which secured him a trip back to Jacksonville on June 5 to compete in the state tournament for top shot. (Photo submitted by Windee Hall)

JACKSONVILLE – One young man from De Queen will be heading to the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program state tournament next month after shooting a perfect score at the regional conference.

Konnor Shelton, captain of the senior trap shooting team for First Christian Church of De Queen, shot a flawless 50/50 at the regional qualifiers in Jacksonville last Saturday, May 22. The perfect score secured him a trip back to Jacksonville on June 5 to compete in the state tournament for Arkansas top youth shot.

Jared Day of Ashdown will also be invited to participate in the Champion of Champions shootoff at the AYSSP State Championships next weekend. Three individual shooters shot perfect 25’s for the event as well: Carter Ewing of Nashville, Grayson Elam of Texarkana and Judd Kennemore of Ashdown. They too will compete in the Champion of Champions shootoff.

Nashville team shooters went on to post an impressive 231 of 250 clays to take first place in the senior division. Nashville also posted the top score in the junior division, easily outpacing the competition by 13 clays in their Friday competition.

The final rounds of the state championship and third-place match, as well as the Champion of Champions shootoff to follow, will be carried June 4-5 on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission YouTube channel with Trey Reid, host of “Arkansas Wildlife,” handling the “clay-by-clay” commentary.

COVID-19 vaccination clinics in De Queen, Ashdown today    5/27/2021

COVID-19 vaccination clinics are scheduled in both De Queen and Ashdown today.

The Little River County Health Unit will host its COVID-19 vaccination clinic today from 8 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.

The vaccine provided at this event will be the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vaccine is licensed to be given to anyone 18 years of age or older.

For more information call (870) 898-3831.

A community COVID-19 vaccination clinic is also planned for today at the Sevier County Health Unit.

The clinic will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  No appointment is necessary.

The Sevier County Health Unit is located at 304 N 4th Street in De Queen.

There is no out-of-pocket expense for the vaccine. People should bring their insurance cards if they have one. If they do not have insurance, the vaccine will still be available at no charge.

Additional ADH clinics will be held weekly in four select local health units including in Sevier and Little River Counties. Information on additional clinics is posted on the ADH COVID-19 vaccine clinics webpage at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

On Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a new incentive program to encourage Arkansans who haven’t yet to go ahead and receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. Starting this week anyone who receives their COVID-19 vaccine can receive either a $20 Arkansas Lottery Commission scratchoff ticket or a $20 gift card to the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. This gift card can be redeemed for an Arkansas fishing or hunting license.

Arkansans can receive their scratchoff ticket or gift card by obtaining their vaccine at a local Arkansas Department of Health unit. One is located in each county in Arkansas. You can also take your card to one of these health units to redeem the incentive if you’ve received your shot at another location following the May 25 announcement.

CREATE BRIDGES team provides training videos for local business owners    5/27/2021

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is working to help retail and tourism businesses financially recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

CREATE BRIDGES, an economic development pilot program from the Division of Agriculture, has created a series of free instructional videos designed to help businesses boost sales, improve communication with customers and take advantage of free advertising opportunities. The CREATE BRIDGES program has put a particular focus on highlighting opportunities and development programs in Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties.

The videos offer demonstrations of popular online tools, including Google My Business, Facebook, TripAdvisor and Yelp. The videos also teach participants how to claim businesses, create profiles and manage accounts for each.

Tiffany Maurer, director of economic development for Sevier County, explained thattThe video series offered through CREATE BRIDGES seeks to help business owners take control of their online marketing and engagement. She added the series is designed for business owners who don’t have the time to sit through lengthy seminars.

CREATE BRIDGES is an acronym for “Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism and Entertainment by Building Rural Innovations and Developing Growth Economies.”

The videos, which are less than 10 minutes each, can be viewed atwww.uaex.uada.edu/createbridgesresources.

The resource library also features a recorded webinar explaining how to list local businesses on theArkansas.com tourism website. This free listing gives small business owners exposure to the more three million annual visitors to the state’s tourism website.

The Online Customer Engagement and Commerce Video Series is one of seven video series CREATE BRIDGES offers through its website: www.uaex.uada.edu/createbridgesresources.

Memorial Day fundraiser set for Preston Miles    5/27/2021

GRANNIS – A benefit dinner and rodeo will be held on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, to help Preston Miles cover medical expenses.

The event will begin on Memorial Day at 1 p.m. at the Grannis Rodeo area. The event will include a benefit chicken dinner by donation, a silent auction, bull riding and barrel racing. Funds will go to Miles, who has had a kidney transplant that has led to some complications and hospital stays. Organizers say the community is pulling together this benefit to help the family with the unexpected days off work, hospital bills and travel expenses.

Local Farm Bureau Federation donates feral hog trap for pilot program in Sevier County     5/26/2021

Tuesday, the Sevier County Farm Bureau Federation donated a video-equipped, remote-operated feral hog trap for use through a NRCS pilot trapping program. The program offers hog trapping services at no cost to landowners in Sevier County. Given the time it takes to successfully bait and trap large numbers of feral hogs, this additional unit will significantly boost the program’s effort. Until then it possessed just two traps.
For more information on the program and to sign up, call 870-584-3111.
Pictured from left to right are Robin Stacey of the NRCS, program trapper Steven Pinkerton, Sevier County Farm Bureau Federation President Bruce Jackson, program trapper Jackson Lee and Allen Stark, manager of the De Queen Farm Bureau office.

DE QUEEN – Efforts to reduce the local feral hog population received a boost this week thanks to a donation by the Sevier County Farm Bureau Federation.

The organization provided a remote-controlled, video-equipped feral hog trap to the Sevier County Natural Resources Conservation Service for use through its new feral hog trapping pilot program. The program currently operates two traps with the use of a third through Sevier County Extension Agent Rex Herring. The donation from the local Farm Bureau Federation however provides trappers with the NRCS office the opportunity to expand their efforts.
Steve Pinkerton, one of the trappers hired by the NRCS to operate in Sevier County, said the new trap will allow the group to catch and eradicate more feral hogs.
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The feral hog trapping pilot program has been operating in Sevier County for approximately six months. Through the program, local landowners can partner with the NRCS to set up hog traps on their property. The program is available at no cost to landowners. The NRCS office in De Queen received a portion of a $1.4 million federal grant to bring the program to Sevier, Hempstead and Howard Counties. The pilot program includes personnel, equipment and tactics aimed at helping local property owners combat the scourge of feral hogs. The program has hired a total of seven trappers to assist with the eradication effort.
The standard protocol when attempting to trap hogs is to set up the trap in a problem area identified by a landowner. The trap will be installed slowly and in stages in order to acclimate the hogs to its presence. Bait is then added around and inside the trap. Using video surveillance and a remote-controlled gate, the trap is shut when the greatest number of hogs are inside. Pinkerton said it’s an effective tactic but also one that takes time to do right. With the new trap donated by the Sevier County Farm Bureau Federation, NRCS trappers can expand their efforts by a third.
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Bruce Jackson, president of the Sevier County Farm Bureau Federation, said the video-equipped, remote-controlled trap cost around $8,000. Jackson said the organization decided on this donation after hearing from landowners who saw an improvement in their feral hog problem after partnering with the NRCS trapping program.
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Jackson said hog trapping efforts like the one through NRCS doesn’t just benefit landowners. Given the environmental destruction caused by feral hogs, it’s in the interest of any outdoors enthusiast to see feral hog populations reduced.
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The NRCS office continues to accept requests for its trapping services from landowners in Sevier County. And with the new trap in its arsenal, organizers say they are ready to trap even more feral hogs in the area.
Pinkerton stresses the program is completely free and all landowners have to do is call to be put on the schedule.
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For more information contact the NRCS office in De Queen by calling 584-3111.

Washington man travels 2,000 miles to Crater of Diamonds State Park to build perfect engagement ring     5/26/2021

MURFREESBORO – It’s thrilling when hard work pays off. For years, 26-year-old Christian Liden, of Poulsbo, Wash., has wanted to find the raw materials to make his own engagement ring. He started by panning for gold around his home state. After five years, he had accumulated enough for the ring. Liden recently embarked on a mining excursion that led him across the country to Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park to collect gemstones for his creation.

Liden and a longtime friend left Washington on May 1. They built their own mining equipment to search with and tested it at a Montana sapphire mine along the way. The friends arrived at Arkansas’s diamond site late on Friday, May 7. “We spent about an hour in the field that afternoon and returned early the next morning to mine all day,” Liden said.

On his third day at the Crater of Diamonds, Liden was wet sifting when he finally spotted what he had traveled more than 2,000 miles in search of. “I saw it shining as soon as I turned the screen over and immediately knew it was a diamond. I was shaking so bad, I asked my buddy to grab it out of the gravel for me!” Liden placed the gem in a plastic bag and carried it to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where staff confirmed he had found a large, yellow diamond.

“I love hearing each story of how a visitor to Crater of Diamonds State Park finds a significant diamond,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. “It’s a moment they’ll never forget, and it’s always exciting that our park gets to be a part of that.”

Weighing 2.20 carats, Liden’s diamond is the largest found at the park since last October, when a visitor from Fayetteville, Ark. discovered a 4.49-carat yellow diamond. He found it in dirt from the West Drain of the park’s 37.5-acre diamond search area, the surface of an ancient, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe.

According to Assistant Superintendent Dru Edmonds, “Mr. Liden’s diamond is light yellow, with a triangular shape and a sparkling, metallic luster. Like most diamonds from the park, it contains a few inclusions, making it one-of-a-kind.”

“As beautiful as this diamond is, I think the best part is the story behind it,” Edmonds continued. “Since the eighth grade, Mr. Liden has dreamed of creating a special ring for his future wife, with stones and gold he mined, himself. And now he can make that dream come true!”

Though he’s found other gemstones, Liden was surprised by his success at the Crater of Diamonds. “I was just hoping to find a couple smaller stones and had planned to buy a center stone later, but that won’t be needed now!”

After leaving the Crater of Diamonds, Liden plans to mine for opals in Nevada before returning home. Once he proposes, Liden says he wants to design an engagement ring with his bride-to-be using his diamond and other gemstones collected along his cross-country mining quest.

Finders of large Crater diamonds often choose to name their gems. Liden has named his diamond the Washington Sunshine, “because it’s got a nice, light yellow color, just like sunlight in Washington.”

As of this publication, 121 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2021, weighing more than 20 carats. An average of one to two diamonds are found by park visitors each day.

Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three colors found at Crater of Diamonds State Park are white, brown, and yellow, in that order.

Admission to the park’s diamond search area is currently limited to 1,500 tickets per day. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance at CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com, to ensure access.

Tyson Foods establishes $2,500 scholarship at UA Cossatot     5/26/2021

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot Foundation recently received a $2,500 donation from Tyson Foods to establish the Tyson Technical Maintenance Scholarship.

The scholarship awards one student $2,500 who is in the Industrial Maintenance Program at UA Cossatot. This scholarship application will open in the summer and the recipient will be selected by the UA Cossatot Scholarship Committee for the fall 2021 semester.

UA Cossatot’s Director of Development, Dustin Roberts, said the scholarship comes is in addition to valuable equipment donated by Tyson’s to the colelge’s Industrial Maintenance program on the Lockesburg Campus. Tyson Foods was also the headline sponsor for UA Cossatot’s Fiesta Fest, which is held annually in part to raise scholarship funds for area students.

For more information on establishing a scholarship with the UA Cossatot Foundation, contact Dustin Roberts at 870-584-1172 or droberts@cccua.edu.

May 31 is deadline for Arkansas Century Farm program     5/26/2021

The deadline is nearing to submit applications through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture for the 2021 Arkansas Century Farm program. Applications can be submitted through the end of the day on Monday, May 31.

The Arkansas Century Farm program recognizes Arkansas families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years. Online and printable applications are available at: agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/arkansas-century-farm-program/. There is no cost to apply.

In a press release Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said Arkansas Century Farm families have persevered challenges for at least ten decades, contributing greatly in making Arkansas agriculture the success story that it is today. As Arkansas’s largest industry, agriculture has an economic impact of over $21 billion annually and provides one of every six jobs in the state.

To qualify, Arkansas farms must meet the following criteria:

The same family must have owned the farm for 100 years by Dec. 31, 2021.

The line of ownership from the original settler or buyer may be through children, grandchildren, siblings, and nephews or nieces, including through marriage and adoption.

The farm must be at least ten acres of the original land acquisition and make a financial contribution to the overall farm income.

Qualifying Arkansas farms will receive a personalized Arkansas Century Farm certificate and metal sign listing the farm name and year established.

Arkansas is home to more than 42,300 farms, of which 96 percent are family owned and operated.  Since the Arkansas Century Farm program began in 2012, nearly 500 farms have been certified. The list of previously inducted Arkansas Century Farm families can be found at: agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/arkansas-century-farm-program/.

Contact Beth Moore at 501-539-4027 or email beth.moore@agriculture.arkansas.gov with questions. Applications must be received via email or postmarked on or before May 31, 2021 to be eligible for designation as a 2021 inductee.
SWREA CEO Dion Cooper speaks to De Queen Rotarians about internet expansion projects     5/25/2021

Dion Cooper, President and CEO of Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative, discusses the agency’s plan to develop a high-speed internet system in its service area. The five-year project aims to offer internet speeds starting at 100Mbs to its customers in Southwest Arkansas.

DE QUEEN – The next few years are going to bring a huge expansion of high-speed internet to residents of Southwest Arkansas.
Dion Cooper, president and CEO of Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative, spoke to the De Queen Rotary Club on Monday to describe the energy provider’s recent expansion into the broadband internet sector.

Cooper discussed the electric cooperative’s five-year, $151 million project to provide high-speed internet to its customers throughout Southwest Arkansas. The project launched earlier this year in Howard County and began with the implementation of a smart electric grid. Cooper said coupling the cooperative’s energy distribution with high-speed internet will allow it to more remotely operate and maintain its electric services.

It was this potential that led Arkansas’ rural electric cooperatives to seek federal funding to expand into the internet sector. Cooper said the COVID-19 pandemic, however, proved the demand was there for expanded high-speed internet among its customers.
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Cooper said De Queen and Sevier County are in Phase II of the cooperative’s plans to expanded into the internet sector. He said rates will be low to provide customers of the cooperative with reliable but affordable high-speed internet. Those rates, he added, will be $49.95 for 100Mbs and $79.95 for one gigabyte per second. Those are fast speeds and at rates that will be highly competitive, Cooper added. Cooper said this internet will be backed by the standard Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative has long maintained in providing energy to the region.
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Cooper said more information on the cooperative’s internet project is available at www.fourstatesfiber.com. Customers of SWREA can sign up on the webpage to express their interest in becoming a future patron of the cooperative’s internet service. Cooper said signing up is not a commitment and only helps the cooperative gauge interest among potential future customers. He also encouraged everyone in Southwest Arkansas to perform and submit an internet speed test at their home to help demonstrate to state and federal officials how lacking this region is in terms of reliable, high-speed internet.

In all, the electric cooperatives of Arkansas received funding through a federal bid to develop high-speed, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) internet throughout the state.

The funding was held through a federal auction with bids by major internet service providers across the nation. The program is expected to provide high-speed broadband to more than 360,000 Arkansans in 200,000 unserved homes and businesses in Arkansas over the next decade. In total Arkansas is slated to receive more than $424 million through the Rural Digital Opportunity program.

Of that, Sevier County is slated to receive more than $2.5 million. The overwhelming majority of that will go to the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium. The Consortium includes the Southwest Arkansas Rural Electric Cooperative and plans to provide high-speed internet to more than 1,400 homes in Sevier County.

The Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium is also receiving $3 million to bring additional internet access to Little River County. The cooperative agency expects to bring high-speed internet to more than 1,600 homes and businesses in Little River.

Howard County is certainly not being left out of this new program. In total the county is set to receive more than $6.8 million in additional high-speed broadband projects. Again, the lion’s share – more than $6.7 million – will go to projects planned by the Rural Electric Cooperative.

Cooper said these projects are all designed to bring high-speed broadband to its customers throughout the region – something, Cooper added, which many people found extremely lacking during the demands of the past year under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sevier County Libraries to launch Summer Reading Program in June     5/25/2021

DE QUEEN – The Collaborative Summer Reading Program for all Sevier County Libraries will begin in June. Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher announced this year’s theme is Tails and Tales. The annual event will include contests, prizes, STEM-themed programs, games and activities, snacks and loads of fun for area youth.

The De Queen Branch Summer Reading Program will begin June 9 and will continue each Wednesday in June. Each day will include a special guest, Leon the Library Lion, and will be recorded and uploaded to the Sevier County Library’s Facebook page. Packets will be available to hand out to go with each day’s program for those kids who can’t make it in.

The Horatio Library will host its Summer Reading Program June 5, 12, 19 and 26. The event will be held each of those days at 10 a.m.

The dates for the Lockesburg Library’s Summer Reading Programs are Saturday June 12, 19, 26, July 10 and 17 at 10 a.m. There will again this year be a prize incentive Fun Jar. Each young patron will read books to earn a chance to place their names in the Fun Jar to be eligible to win a prize. For more information, call Wendy Clay at 289-2233.

De Queen librarians are also reminding patrons of the library’s new Garden Seed Exchange. Organizers say this will be a fun way to build a community around gardening information, planting and sharing. Garden seed swapping helps everyone become more self-sufficient. Gardening is also a great way to reduce stress and a great activity to pick up at any age. The De Queen Branch Library is the checkout station for the seeds. Each patron can pick out five seed packets of their choice every two weeks. Once a patron’s crops are over for the season the library encourages them to swap seeds with a friend (if desired) and donate seeds back to the De Queen Branch Library.

Those interested in participating are encouraged to collect new seeds from their harvest in the fall and donate them back to the library for next year.

The library received the packet of seeds through a donation by Sevier County Farmer’s COOP and Bailey’s.

For more information, you can call Angela with the Farmer’s Market at 870-582-2903 or the De Queen Branch Library 870-584-4364. You can also visit their Facebook pages for more information.

Also at the library, Catherine Smith is teaching a basic beginner “Crochet Class.” The class is FREE to the public and is held every Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Aubrey Seymour receives state 4-H scholarship     5/25/2021

Aubrey Seymour

DE QUEEN – Aubrey Seymour, a 2021 graduate of De Queen High School, is one of just a handful of students across the state to receive a college scholarship this year through the statewide 4-H organization.

Aubrey, who serves as vice-president of the Ouachita District of Arkansas 4-H, will receive the Raymond Cox $500 scholarship. Aubrey has been a member of 4-H for over a decade.

In all, the Arkansas 4-H Foundation awarded nearly $33,000 in college scholarships to 28 high school seniors in 17 counties. State 4-H leaders said recipients should be proud of the scholarships they received as the application process is highly competitive.

Arkansas 4-H is the youth development program conducted by the University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service and offers programs for youth ages 5-19 in every county in Arkansas.

The Arkansas 4-H Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to supporting Arkansas 4-H youth since 1951. To learn more, visit www.arkansas4hfoundation.org.

To learn about Arkansas 4-H, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent. That number is 584-3013 in Sevier County. You can also visit http://www.uaex.uada.edu/counties, or visit Arkansas 4-H online at http://uaex.uada.edu/4h-youth/.

DHS trap shooting team doesn’t make state but still has best season ever     5/25/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School’s new trap shooting team didn’t perform well enough to qualify at state but nonetheless gave a good showing at the regional competition.

Coach Dennis Chaney said the majority of the team’s competitors shot their best round of the year at the regional qualifier. In total, the team shot a score of 206 – the best, Chaney added, in the team’s short history.

The final score was just 11 points short of qualifying the Leopards for the state trap shooting competition.

Chaney said he’s hopeful for a state qualification next year as no members of the team are seniors so all will be returning to compete again next year.

Out of a perfect score of 50, Leopard Jafet Sotelo was the team’s most valuable shooter with a score of 47. Steven Peppers was just under with 46 and J.D. Brinkley with 45.

AHS students take home medals after Skills USA state competition     5/25/2021

The Ashdown High School SkillsUSA Officers placed in the top three at the 2021 Arkansas SkillsUSA State Competition and Conference this spring. Pictured from left to right are AHS Principal Kay York Reagan Burden, Sara Huddleston, Bannon Price, Chloe Silva, Addison Smedley and Ashdown Schools Superintendent Casey Nichols.

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown High School SkillsUSA Officers placed in the top three at the 2021 Arkansas SkillsUSA State Competition and Conference this spring. Two Ashdown students, Chloe Silva and Reagan Burden, participated in the opening and closing ceremony for this year’s conference as Arkansas SkillsUSA State Officers.

AHS SkillsUSA students received a number of medals in the scheduled competitions:

Sara Huddleston received the Silver Medal in the Job Interview competition; Reagan Burden took the Silver Medal in the Health Occupation Professional Portfolio category; Chloe Silva got the Gold Medal for Outstanding Chapter

Bannon Price and and Addison Smedley received Gold Medal for Outstanding Chapter.

AHS Skills USA Advisor Amy Silva said she and the district are proud of each of the competing students for their hard work and dedication, especially as they conquered challenges and roadblocks brought about by the current global pandemic. She said the district looks forward to the opportunity to award them with their earned medals in the near future.

Chloe Silva, Addison Smedley, and Bannon Price have been invited to represent the state of Arkansas at the 2021 National SkillsUSA Competition and Conference which will be held virtually this year after placing first in the state for Outstanding Chapter.

31st Annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been postponed   05/25/21
DE QUEEN – This weekend’s 31st Annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been postponed – but fortunately, this year, not because of COVID-19.
Officials with the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce made the decision Sunday to move the tournament back by a week due to lake levels at De Queen, Dierks and Gillham. An extremely wet May has meant all three lakes are above normal elevation and some of the traditional boat landings are completely underwater. And forecasters are calling for plenty more rain this week.
Instead of this Saturday, the bass tournament will now be held June 5. Organizers hope this will allow enough time for clear weather to move in and lake levels to fall closer to normal levels.
Registration continues is continuing for this year’s Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. on June 5. Early registration is $45 per person. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.
Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.
Prizes include $1,500 for catching the biggest bass, $1,000 for second place and so on through fifth place. Prizes are awarded hourly as well for a total of around $10,000 in prize money at this year’s tournament.
This year the chamber is offering a registration bundle to participants. For $65, anglers can cover their registration fee and receive a tournament cap. Wear your hat at hourly weigh-ins and, if your catch takes first place that hour, you’ll receive an extra $50.
COVID-19 will still have some impact on this year’s tournament. Chamber officials said no award ceremony will be held due to the pandemic. All winners will receive prize money through the mail.
For more information, contact Greg Ray at 642-2425 or the Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3225.
Over 130 people participate in Sevier County Chamber cleanup event     5/24/2021
DE QUEEN – Over 100 people turned out Saturday morning to help pick up trash during a litter cleanup event organized by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.
Officials said more than 130 people in all came out to pick up litter between Gillham and Ben Lomond. Over 292 bags of trash were collected from around De Queen, Lockesburg, Horatio and Gillham areas.
Those participating in the cleanup event included both youth and adults from around the county. Food was provided to participants of the cleanup project.
Officials with the chamber of commerce said the event was held to get the county looking as good as possible before the Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. The tournament has been postponed until June 5 due to high water levels at the three lake locations as well as additional rain expected this week.
The chamber gave a special mention to board member Melinda Taggart for heading the project as well as to the cooks and local businesses who supported the cleanup day. Chamber officials also thanked the amazing group of volunteers who stepped up to pick up Sevier County.
Horatio School District to offer free meals to all students this summer    5/24/2021
HORATIO – Horatio families who are facing food insecurity will get a little help for their children through a summer meal program offered by the Horatio School District.

The Summer Meal Program will provide meals to Horatio students throughout June and July. Program dates include June 14-17, June 21-24, July 12-15 and July 19-22. Families can come by each of those days between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to pick up meals for their children.

All students aged 18 and under are eligible and welcomed to receive meals. For more information contact the Horatio School Distarct at 832-1940.

Longstanding UA Cossatot employees retire, honored during reception    5/24/2021

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot hosted a retirement reception this to send off a a number of longstanding, popular and well-known employees.

The reception was held May 13 at the UA Cossatot Bank of Lockesburg Historic Gymnasium to honor in total five retiring employees: Michael Wright, Christine Vertiz-Atkins, Steve McJunkins, Sonya Robinson, and Mark Kutak.

Vice-Chancellor of Academics, Dr. Ashley Aylett said the college was extremely fortunate to have so many long-tenured employees.

Michael Wright, Math Instructor, was hired on May 19, 1986. Wright always carried a deep compassion for math giving him the ability to teach a subject many honestly despise. College officials said Michael not only taught math but also made a difference in each student’s life.

Christine Atkins, Testing Center Coordinator, was hired on October 27, 1998. Customer service and trying to reduce the stress of the testing experience for students was at the center of everything Christine did, the college said.

Steve McJunkins, Division Chair for Skilled and Technical Programs and most recently YouthBuild Instructor was hired on August 18, 1999. College officials said McJunkins was instrumental in building UA Cossatot’s Skilled and Technical programs, especially the Lockesburg Industrial Maintenance Institute. Steve also spent a year sharing his knowledge from many years in the construction industry to establish the newly-founded YouthBuild program.

Sonya Robinson, Psychology Instructor, was hired on January 1, 1996. There’s not a student that failed to enjoy Mrs. Robinson’s Psychology courses, something I can attest to from personal experience.

And finally, but certainly not last, Mark Kutak, Automotive and Diesel Instructor, is also retiring. He was hired on August 8, 2006. After teaching Automotive Services for many years, Kutak saw a need for Diesel Technology and led the development of this program at UA Cossatot. Kutak was arguably one of the most popular and well-liked instructors at the college, always carrying a positive attitude and a deep passion for education.

Arkansas Rent Relief program seeks to help renters, landlords    5/24/2021

State officials are reminding Arkansans struggling to meet their bills under the current pandemic of a new program that could help them pay their rent and utility costs.

The Arkansas Rent Relief Program offers financial help to pay overdue and upcoming rent and utilities for eligible Arkansas renters. Landlords who have tenants unable to pay their rent because of lost income or the COVID-10 pandemic also may apply.

The state of Arkansas has $173 million of federal funding for the Arkansas Rent Relief Program. Once an application is approved, money would go directly to landlords and utility companies.

The program covers overdue rent plus up to 5 percent of late fees dating back to April 1, 2020. It also covers overdue utility bills for gas, water, and electricity. This program does not cover overdue phone or internet bills.

Future rent owed through December 31, 2021, is also covered. Renters can apply for up to three months of future rent at a time.

You may qualify for help paying your rent and utilities if:

  • Someone in your home qualifies for unemployment benefits
  • You are also eligible if your household income decreased during the pandemic OR
  • Someone in your home suffered significant financial hardship due to the pandemic including losing a job or incurring extensive medical bills).
  • You must also be able to meet income eligibility based on the residing county and the number of people in your home.

More information and a complete list of required documents to apply can be found on the DHS website www.ar.gov/rentrelief.

Call 855.RENTARK (855.736.8275) if you need help submitting your application or have questions. Representatives are available Monday – Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. DHS also has partnered with community organizations statewide that can help you submit your application.

More COVID vaccine clinics this Thursday in De Queen and Ashdown    5/24/2021

The Little River County Health Unit will host an additional COVID-19 vaccination clinic this Thursday, May 27.

The vaccine provided at this event will be the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vaccine is licensed to be given to anyone 18 years of age or older.

For more information call (870) 898-3831.

A community COVID-19 vaccination clinic is also planned for Thursday at the Sevier County Health Unit.

The clinic will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  No appointment is necessary.

There is no out-of-pocket expense for the vaccine. People should bring their insurance cards if they have one. If they do not have insurance, the vaccine will still be available at no charge.

The Sevier County Health Unit is located at 304 N 4th Street in De Queen.

Additional ADH clinics will be held weekly in four select local health units including in Sevier and Little River Counties. Information on additional clinics is posted on the ADH COVID-19 vaccine clinics webpage at www.healthy.arkansas.gov

Cossatot, Oak Hill VFDs receive wildfire suppression kits    5/24/2021

DE QUEEN – Two local fire departments are receiving some state assistance to help them battle wildfires in the future.

The Rural Fire Protection program, managed by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, received nearly $300,000 to purchase and distribute Wildfire Suppression Kits to rural volunteer fire departments across the state. The money was awarded as part of the Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant from the United States Forest Service.

Local fire departments receiving these kits included Cossatot Volunteer Fire Department in Sevier County and Oak Hill Volunteer Fire Department in Little River County.

Volunteer fire departments such as Cossatot and Oak Hill are the primary partner of Forestry Division crews in wildfire response and suppression, according to the state forestry division. These fire departments however are often in need of the specialized equipment and gear necessary to safely do their job in the event of a wildfire. The equipment distributed this year in the Wildfire Suppression Kits included lightweight wildfire-resistant coveralls and gloves, hand rakes, back-pack water pumps, and leaf blowers.

Any volunteer fire department interested in participating in the Wildfire Suppression Kit program must submit an application, which is then scored according to specific criteria including fire district population, the size of the response area, wildfire equipment response needs, and other factors. The next application period for the Wildfire Suppression Kit program is expected to begin August 2021.

Fire Departments should receive an application by mail, or they can be found atwww.agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/rural-fire-protection-program/ when the application period opens. Fire Departments may contact Kathryn Mahan-Hooten at kathryn.mahan@agriculture.arkansas.gov or (501) 679-3183 with questions regarding the application

More rain expected this week and into Memorial Day weekend    5/24/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s been difficult to do much in May without having to work around all the rain that’s fallen this month. According to our rain gauge here at KDQN Studios in De Queen, we’ve received over eight inches of rain this month. And forecasters say there’s plenty more coming this week.

The National Weather Service is calling for rain chances everyday this week. Chances aren’t too great but increase into the week with a 60 percent chance Wednesday and 50 percent on Thursday.

Unfortunately, forecasters are currently a predicting a good chance for more rain throughout the weekend with 40 percent chances on Friday and Saturday.

Arkansas to end current COVID-19 health emergency on May 31    5/24/2021

The emergency health order governing the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will end this month.

During a press conference held Thursday morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the state will end the emergency health declaration on May 31. The declaration has been effect since the pandemic first entered Arkansas over a year ago. Hutchinson cited the decline in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations as justification for the end of the health emergency. He added the current situation does not warrant emergency executive measures.

Despite this announcement, Hutchinson stressed the pandemic is still present in Arkansas. Deaths, although low, continue to increase every day and new cases of COVID-19 are still being reported across the state. Hutchinson said all Arkansans should continue to be cautious to help ensure the end of the current pandemic. As part of this focus Hutchinson said the state will spend millions on new advertising to highlight the safety and effectiveness of the available vaccines, especially among Arkansas’ minority populations.

Part of the effort to bring an end to COVID-19, Hutchinson said, is encouraging every eligible Arkansan to get one of the available vaccines. Currently all Arkansans aged 12 and up are able to receive a vaccine.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported zero COVID-related deaths on Wednesday – the latest data available as of the time of this report. Total cases saw a small increase of 244 for a cumulative statewide total of 339,000 COVID-19 transmissions since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations currently number 188.

Click-It-Or-Ticket campaign starts today    5/24/2021

State and local law enforcement officers across Arkansas are sending a reminder that drivers who aren’t already in the habit of using a seat belt need to start.  Without it, drivers can be stopped and ticketed. Much worse, someone not buckled-up stands a greater chance of losing their life in a traffic crash.

Starting today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement operation gets underway.  State troopers, local police officers and sheriff’s deputies will heighten their vigilance to be on the lookout for seat belt violators.  The operation coincides with the Memorial Day holiday and runs May 24 through June 6.

Arkansas law enforcement officers say they see firsthand what happens when someone involved in a traffic crash isn’t wearing a seat belt.  During the Click It or Ticket campaign, law enforcement officers nationwide will be working overtime to ensure the message gets out to drivers and their passengers.

According to the 2019 records from NHTSA, 9,466 drivers and passengers who were unbuckled died in crashes nationwide.  During the same year, 55% of passenger vehicle occupants involved in crashes were not wearing seat belts and lost their lives during nighttime hours. As a result, law enforcement authorities participating in the Click It or Ticket operation will be placing an emphasis on increased patrols during the evening hours.

State troopers and local officers and deputies say will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt enforcement, writing citations day and night.

Arkansas state law requires all front seat passengers, not just drivers, to be properly buckled up.  The state law also requires all children less than 15 years of age to be properly secured in the vehicle.  Children less than 6 years of age and weighing less than 60 pounds should be restrained in a child passenger safety seat.  Additionally, drivers with restricted licenses and all occupants in the vehicle must be properly buckled up.

Southwest Arkansas under flash flood watch through Thursday night     5/20/2021

DE QUEEN – That flash flood watch that’s been with us the last couple of days? Well, looks like it’s going to stick around a little longer.

After expecting the watch to expire this morning, forecasters with the National Weather Service have now extended that watch through seven o’clock tonight.

Southwest Arkansas, Southeast Oklahoma and Northeast Texas have been pelted with rain this week, already receiving several inches and more and some areas. There’s little sign of that rain relenting today, with another 80 percent chance of showers today. Those chances are settling down a bit tomorrow with a little lower chance of rain and then just 20 percent Saturday and Saturday night.

If you’re starting to forget what the sun looks like after this week, there’s hope for mostly clear skies on Sunday. The rain has helped keep temperatures pretty mild this week. With chances diminishing into next week we can expect those daily highs to start rising.

Gov. Hutchinson appoints Evelyn Keels to Sevier County Quorum Court     5/20/2021

LITTLE ROCK – Sevier County has a new Justice of the Peace on its quorum court. That is, at least until her appoint ends next year.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson officially announced the appointment of Evelyn Keels to the Sevier County Quorum Court in a press release issued Wednesday afternoon. Mrs. Keels is one of a number of political appointments made by the governor this year.

Mrs. Keels will serve as the District 2 Justice of the Peace for Sevier County – a perfect fit, given the seat was formerly held by her late husband, Charles Keels. Keels was a long-serving Justice of the Peace for Sevier County who passed away last September.

As an appointee to the quorum court, and not directly elected, Mrs. Keels will only be able to serve through Dec. 31, 2022. She will not be able to seek election to the position following the end of her appointment period.

Mrs. Keels attended the Sevier County Quorum Court meeting held earlier this month. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said he was excited to see her on the board and added he couldn’t have selected a better person to complete Mr. Charles Keels’ term.

A COVID-19 walk-in clinic will be held in De Queen this today at the Sevier County Health Unit. That event will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through 2 p.m. No appointment is needed. Call 642-2535 for more information.

COVID-19 clinic in De Queen today     5/20/2021

DE QUEEN – A COVID-19 walk-in clinic will be held in De Queen this today at the Sevier County Health Unit. That event will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through 2 p.m. No appointment is needed. Call 642-2535 for more information.

Additional ADH clinics will be held weekly in four select local health units. Information on additional clinics is posted on the ADH COVID-19 vaccine clinics webpage.

Doses will be available to those who are currently eligible to receive a vaccine in Arkansas, which includes Arkansans aged 16 and older. However, these clinics will administer only the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, so these clinics will only be able to provide vaccinations to those 18 years and older. Those who are 16-17 years old are advised to only receive the Pfizer vaccine at this time. To find out more information about vaccine availability in your area, visit the ADH website or call 1-800-985-6030.

There is no out-of-pocket expense for the vaccine. People should bring their insurance cards if they have one. If they do not have insurance, the vaccine will still be available at no charge.

De Queen Lions Club Youth Fishing Derby is June 26     5/20/2021

Mark your calendars: the De Queen Lions Club’s annual Youth Fishing Derby is back on for 2021.

The fishing event will be held Saturday, June 26 at De Queen Lake. Registration will begin that morning at 8:30 a.m. at the De Queen Lake Spillway.

The event will start at 9 a.m. and end at 11 that morning. The Fishing Derby is being hosted by the De Queen Lions Club for all area youth aged 15 and younger.

There is a limit of one fishing rod per youth and all youth must be accompanied by an adult. The first 100 contestants registered will receive a t-shirt. All Arkansas Game & Fish rules will apply.

There is no cost or fishing license required for this event. The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission will provide catfish for the derby.

Statewide “Click-It-Or-Ticket” campaign kicks off next week     5/20/2021

State and local law enforcement officers across Arkansas are sending a reminder that drivers who aren’t already in the habit of using a seat belt need to start.  Without it, drivers can be stopped and ticketed. Much worse, someone not buckled-up stands a greater chance of losing their life in a traffic crash.

Starting next week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement operation gets underway.  State troopers, local police officers and sheriff’s deputies will heighten their vigilance to be on the lookout for seat belt violators.  The operation coincides with the Memorial Day holiday and runs May 24 through June 6.

Arkansas law enforcement officers say they see firsthand what happens when someone involved in a traffic crash isn’t wearing a seat belt.  During the Click It or Ticket campaign, law enforcement officers nationwide will be working overtime to ensure the message gets out to drivers and their passengers.

According to the 2019 records from NHTSA, 9,466 drivers and passengers who were unbuckled died in crashes nationwide.  During the same year, 55% of passenger vehicle occupants involved in crashes were not wearing seat belts and lost their lives during nighttime hours. As a result, law enforcement authorities participating in the Click It or Ticket operation will be placing an emphasis on increased patrols during the evening hours.

State troopers and local officers and deputies say will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt enforcement, writing citations day and night.

Arkansas state law requires all front seat passengers, not just drivers, to be properly buckled up.  The state law also requires all children less than 15 years of age to be properly secured in the vehicle.  Children less than 6 years of age and weighing less than 60 pounds should be restrained in a child passenger safety seat.  Additionally, drivers with restricted licenses and all occupants in the vehicle must be properly buckled up.

AGFC notes decline in turkey harvest, rise in baiting violations     5/20/2021

Arkansas hunters harvested and checked 7,010 eastern wild turkeys during the 2021 turkey season, which concluded May 9. While the harvest showed a similar decrease to that of surrounding states, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists are hopeful for the future.

It was a decline expected this year. With conservative season dates and new regulations in place to spread hunting pressure, AGFC officials tried to give turkeys as much of a chance as they could to breed and create future hunting opportunities while maintaining a reasonably good hunting experience.

The AGFC said poor reproduction two years ago, followed by an increase in harvest last year from increased participation related to COVID-19 may have added to the declining number of turkeys checked.

One increasing number that has wildlife biologists and wildlife enforcement officers concerned is the number of individuals caught baiting wild turkeys this year.

The AGFC reported one district that had more baiting sites to tend to than wthe agency had officers..

There’s more downside to baiting than unethical harvest and the opportunity to overharvest birds. Baiting carries with it some concerns with disease transmission as well as concerns with nest predation. Studies conducted on nest success in wild turkeys indicate that nests in close proximity to a baited area have higher rates of nest predation than those further from these sites. Raccoons, skunks and other nest predators attracted to the free meal at bait sites were able to more readily find nearby turkey nesting locations, wiping out the chance of a successful hatch.

The AGFC says catching turkey poachers is a particular point of focus with many officers.

Southwest Arkansas under flash flood watch through Thursday morning     5/19/2021

DE QUEEN – A flash flood watch remains in effect for Sevier County and the surrounding area following days of rain and more to come.
The watch will stay active through at least 7 a.m. Thursday morning. Those living in or traveling through flood prone areas should keep an eye on water levels and remember the mantra, Don’t Drown, Turn Around.
Southwest Arkansas was under a thunderstorm warning last night as a strong line of storms entered the area. However, we’ve received no reports of damage or widespread power outages. SWEPCO was reporting early Wednesday morning around 80 customers without power around Gillham.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service are calling for even more rain today and tomorrow, as if we haven’t had enough of the wet stuff by now. Rainfall predictions are 70 percent today and up to 80 percent tomorrow. Thursday and Friday are likely to be rainy as well but there is a chance to see some blue skies this weekend.

De Queen City Council discusses inclusive park project     5/19/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council met Tuesday evening to discuss a light agenda, including more discussion on a proposed inclusive playground at Herman Dierks Park.
De Queen Rotarians approached the city council at a meeting earlier this month to seek the city’s assistance in applying for a matching grant to build an inclusive playground at the park. This playground would be one designed for children with physical disabilities. That discussion was tabled until the council’s June 1 meeting due to disagreements on how much the city was expected to contribute to the project as opposed to the Rotary Club.
At that meeting several city councilors expressed their admiration for an inclusive playground at Herman Dierks Park but also concern over the estimated $300,000 price tag. Rotarians explained the city could apply for a 50/50 matching state grant to help fund the project but the club would likely only be able to provide $25,000 towards the project itself. So far the club has raised $7,000 for the inclusive playground.
City councilors also expressed concern that the majority of the financial costs of the Rotary Club’s proposed project would therefore be on the city, not the Club itself. Rotarians responded by stating the benefits the park would offer to local children with disabilities and its potential to draw new people to De Queen.
The city council returned to the proposed project briefly last night. With Parks Director Gaytha Bakenhus present, several members of the council said they were worried what the project’s final price tag would amount to given the spike in building material costs. Bakenhus said the estimate for a metal fence at Herman Dierks Park alone has risen over 30 percent due to the inflationary rise in material costs.
Alderman Jeff Holcombe said he worried the inclusive playground grant would commit the city to a project it may not be able to afford once work begins, given those rising costs.
“We may want something today but can’t afford it tomorrow,” he said.
Councilors and Mayor Jeff Brown then briefly discussed trying to incorporate all-inclusive playground equipment on a piece-by-piece basis over the long term improvement plans for Herman Dierks Park.
The city council is expected to return to the issue at its next meeting on June 1.
In other business, the city council approved a $324,000 payment to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission to payoff one of two bonds for the municipal wastewater treatment facility built in 2007. Brown said the payment will save the city $46,000 in interest and allow it to make additional payments to the second bond. He said the city is expected to payoff this bond around 15 years earlier than expected due to extra payments made since completion of the plant.
Finally, the council approved $17,000 to purchase a new drinking water filter for the city water plant. Water Superintendent Darren Higgins said this filter would replace a failing one not replaced since 1969.

Work days planned at local cemeteries     5/19/2021
The annual Crystal Hill Decoration Day at Wickes, traditionally held the fourth Sunday in May, will resume this year on May 23 with service at 11 a.m.
A potluck will be held at noon with singing in the afternoon. Everyone is urged to follow Covid precautionary guidelines.

Work days include Saturday, May 22, or whenever your schedule permits. Donations for upkeep to the buildings and cemetery grounds are appreciated and may be mailed to Sue Sullivan, 305 N. 6th St., DeQueen, AR 71832.

For more information, contact any board member including Dale or Jeannie White, Thomas Jenkins, Byron Sullivan or Larry Wilcher. You can also call (870) 784-3109.

Decoration Day at the Wrights Chapel Cemetery will be held Saturday, May 29.

The cemetery is located southeast of Lockesburg on Highway 317 South. There will be a short business meeting starting at 11 a.m. that morning, followed by a potluck lunch. The cemetery is supported by donations and all are appreciated. The mailing address is Wrights Chapel Cemetery, P.O. Box 261, Lockesburg, AR 71846.

Arkansans can start applying this week for a new rental assistance program that’s being provided by the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Arkansas launches new rent relief program     5/19/2021

The Arkansas Rent Relief Program will offer rental and utility aid assistance for both qualifying renters and landlords that were directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government awarded the state $173 million in aid to fund this program.

There are three main points of criteria for applicants.

The first is the loss of a job or significant source of income due to the pandemic.

The second is the inability to pay rent, along with overdue bills and/or an eviction notice.

The final criteria is that applicants would have to meet the income eligibility.

An applicant’s income has to fall at or below 80% of an area’s median income, which is tricky as it varies county to county.

Renters may be eligible for up to 15 months of rental assistance. This means the program can pay both overdue rent and future rent. For overdue rent, the program can pay up to 12 months back to April 1, 2020. When people apply for future rent, they can apply for up to three months at a time.

The money goes directly to landlords and utility companies.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services says the goal for the program is to ensure people that have a stable home, while assisting them to get back on their feet.

In a report from December 2020, the Arkansas DHS says that out of 403,000 rent-paying households, 19 percent weren’t caught up on payments.

Roughly a third of those renters weren’t confident that they’d have enough money to cover rent going in to the new year.

For more information, and to apply for the rental assistance program, visit www.ar.gov/rentrelief.

Online shopping scams on the rise in Arkansas     5/19/2021

State law enforcement officers are cautioning Arkansans when shopping online and on social media. Whether shopping through an online boutique or Facebook Marketplace, con artists will use every trick in the book to steal your money without delivering what you paid for or their merchandise may not look as promised.

There are a few easy tips, however, Arkansans can follow to help kep themselves safe while shopping online:

Look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar, and the abbreviation “https” in the web address to be sure information is secure and to help guard the security of your information as it is transmitted to a website. Be sure your browser has the most up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available.

Check the online merchant’s privacy policy before providing any personal financial information and determine how the information will be used or shared with others. Some websites’ disclosures are easier to find than others — look at the bottom of the home page, on order forms or in the “About” or “FAQs” sections of a site.

Read and understand return, refund and shipping policies before you make your purchase.

Pay by credit card, which is the most secure payment method. Under federal law, charges can be disputed and consumer liability for theft is limited so long as consumers promptly notify the bank or credit card issuer. Additionally, many credit card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the purchaser pays nothing if his or her credit card is stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases.

Keep personal information private. Do not disclose personal information – address, telephone number, Social Security number, bank account number or email address – unless you know who is collecting the information, why they are collecting it and how they will use it.

Be cautious when buying gifts from an online auction. Understand how the auction works and check the seller’s reputation before bidding. Always ask about terms of delivery and return options. Never wire money for the purchase; use some other form of payment.

Keep records of online transactions and check for emails from merchants. Merchants may email important information about purchases.

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visitArkansasAG.gov.

DEA raid Lansdell Family Clinic locations in De Queen, Dierks, Lockesburg and Texarkana     5/18/2021

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and supporting law enforcement agencies executed search warrants at six Lansdell Family Clinic Tuesday morning as part of an investigation into opioid prescriptions. Agents with the DEA spoke briefly during a press conference Tuesday morning but did not share specific details as the investigation is ongoing. Pictured at front are DEA Special Agents Jared Harper and Connie Overturn. In the back are an unnamed DEA agent and Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry. (KDQN staff photo)

DE QUEEN – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and supporting law enforcement agencies executed search warrants at six Lansdell Family Clinic Tuesday morning as part of an investigation into opioid prescriptions, according to federal authorities.
Raids were conducted by the DEA as well as other federal and local law enforcement agencies at Lansdell Clinics in De Queen, Dierks, Lockesburg and Texarkana. Local agencies involved in the investigation include the De Queen Police Department and Sevier County Sheriff’s Office.

DEA agents on scene at the De Queen Lansdell Clinic said the search warrant was executed Tuesday morning in response to suspected over-prescription of opioid medications through the clinic’s pharmacy. Agents said the investigation began at an undisclosed date due to complaints issued within the community.

Jared Harper, assistant special agent for the DEA’s Little Rock office, said the search warrant and investigation are being conducted as part of a nationwide law enforcement response to the opioid epidemic.

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Agents said no arrests have been made at this time. The investigation is pending and all clinics have been closed down for the day and patients rescheduled. Agents anticipated the clinics would reopen to patients on Wednesday.

A spokesperson with the DEA said more information would be made available as the investigation continues. Agents declined to comment if other area healthcare providers or pharmacies were included in the investigation.

Sevier County deputy brings swift and safe end to high-speed pursuit     5/18/2021

DE QUEEN – Deputies with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office were able to help Oklahoma authorities bring a swift and safe end to a high speed pursuit this past weekend.

According to a report released by the sheriff’s office, Deputy Greg Davignon was on patrol on Friday, May 14 when he was made aware of an active pursuit involving a stolen vehicle from Oklahoma. Dispatchers informed him the pursuit would soon enter Arkansas from McCurtain County.

Investigators from the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office stated the pursuit involved a suspect named James Rather who reportedly stole a Chevy pickup truck and was at that point actively fleeing Oklahoma law enforcement officers.

Davignon reported he was able to position himself in front of the pursuit and deploy a spike strip. The stolen vehicle then entered Arkansas and cross over the spike strip at around 90mph, disabling both front tires. The suspect’s vehicle then came to a stop.

Authorities report Rathers was then taken into custody without further incident and transported to the Sevier County Jail. The vehicle was recovered undamaged other than the two flat front tires.

School board elections are today     5/18/2021

ASHDOWN – Today is election day for Arkansas School Board elections.

The only area school board race this year is for Zone F in the Ashdown School District between incumbent Glenda Smedley and challenger Stephanie Ringgold.

For residents of Little River County, voting can be conducted at the Little River County Election Center on 349 North Third Street in Ashdown through 7:30 p.m.

A poll will be open in Ben Lomond today for residents of Sevier County who live within the Ashdown School District’s boundaries. This poll will be located in the Ben Lomond Community Building through 7:30 p.m. this evening.

De Queen Rotarians present annual Academic Awards     5/18/2021

DE QUEEN – The annual Rotary Academic Awards were held in May to honor the top academic achievers of the 2020-2021 school year at De Queen High School.

Presented by the De Queen Rotary Club, the Rotary Academic Awards recognize those students who earned the highest academic achievement within their classes at De Queen High School.

Recipients of this year’s awards include:

-Nevaeh Martin in English 10

-Sarah Trejo in Pre-AP English 10

-Jesus Marrufo in English 11

-Edith Hernandez in English 12

-Sydney Casteel in AP Language and Composition

-Sara Victoriano in Comp I

-Bridgette Ortiz in Comp II

-Sara Abril in AP Art

-Abraham Martinez in Geometry

-Pedro Sanchez in Algebra II

-Gunner Bradshaw in Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry

-Abigail Barker in College Algebra

-Kynnedi France in College Trigonometry

-Malloree Carlstead in Biology; Jasmin Cisneros in Chemistry

-Litzi Flores in Pre-AP Chemistry

-Belle Lindsey in Pre-AP Biology

-Allen Hong in AP Biology; Elise Dean in U.S. History

-Alexander Tavarez in World History

-Jorge Delgado in Spanish I

-Kane Faulkenberry in Spanish II

-Charles Wood in Spanish III

-Janae Tirado in Spanish IV

-and Luke Reed in AP U.S. History.

Southwest Arkansas gripped by severe storms in May, more likely to come     5/18/2021

April showers have brought May… showers. It’s been a stormy month already in Southwest Arkansas with plenty of rain and several storm fronts causing power outages and blocked roads due to storm debris. Forecasters with the Nationa Weather Service say this has already been the most active storm season since 2011.

Fortunately, no tornadoes have been reported in Southwest Arkansas so far this spring. The state of Arkansas averages 39 tornadoes per year according to data collected between 2000-2020. But, tornadoes aren’t the only thing to worry about when it comes to severe weather in Arkansas.

Straight-Line winds – winds being greater than 50mph pose a threat to limbs, trees, and specifically to mobile homes and can easily cause destruction equal to a tornado.

Hail, which even at just 1/2 inch in diameter or the size of a marble can cause extensive damage. The largest reported in Arkansas being in 2006 in White County just 2 miles North of Searcy where hail was recorded at a whopping 5 inches in diameter. That is roughly equivalent to the size of the average grapefruit.

Flash floods, while commonly overlooked, are responsible for more than 80 fatalities annually over the last 30 years and remain the #1 cause of death associated with thunderstorms. This being more fatalities annually on average then tornadoes and more than half occur in automobiles with people trying to drive through water. Due to this disturbing statistic the National Weather Service coined the phrase – Turn around don’t drown. 12 inches of water will float many vehicles and 2 feet of moving water can carry away most vehicles including SUV’s and pick-ups.

So, how prepared are you? Do you know the difference between a Watch & Warning? This one gets a lot of folks. A watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a particular severe weather hazard. A warning is issued when severe weather is imminent or occurring. So what should you do in the event a watch or warning is issued?

The National Weather Service advises the following during severe thunderstorm or tornado conditions:

Put as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Stay away from doors and windows.

Get down – Get down to the lowest floor possible. Basements are ideal during weather where tornadoes or high winds are likely.

Cover up – Protect yourself from flying debris in the event that wind begins throwing things around.

Remain calm – While easier said than done, keeping a calm demeanor can help you make important decisions in the moment that might save you or your loved ones lives.

While we see ourselves through the remainder of this severe weather season make sure you are prepared for what’s to come. We here at KDQN strive to keep the community informed during severe weather so make sure to tune in and stay up to date with the latest conditions for your area.

Arkansas Free Fishing Weekend is June 11-13     5/18/2021

One weekend each year the State of Arkansas hosts a free fishing weekend. This year, Free Fishing Weekend will fall on June 11, 12 and 13.

Residents and nonresidents may fish this weekend without fishing license or trout permits. This applies to the entire state of Arkansas. So if you’ve been considering a new hobby this is the weekend to try your luck in many of Arkansas fish filled waters. Regulations for waters still apply such as daily, slot, and length limits. If you decide hitting the water is for you you can purchase a Resident Fish License for $10.50 and a Trout permit for $10.00. That’s a cheap investment for a good time and a reason to make up some big stories.

An annual tradition sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and approved by Gov. Hutchinson, Free Fishing Weekend gives many people the opportunity to enjoy the amazing angling The Natural State has to offer.
De Queen man charged with negligent homicides has bond revoked after public intoxication arrest; civil lawsuit filed     5/17/2021
DE QUEEN – A De Queen man facing two counts of negligent homicide for his involvement in a deadly accident last year has had his bond revoked after he was charged with public intoxication in March.

According to court records, 25-year-old Hugo Hernandez of De Queen was arrested and charged with public intoxication in Hot Springs on March 28. Hernandez entered a plea of not guilty to the public intoxication charge during a hearing earlier this month.

Hernandez is also facing two counts of negligent homicide as well as driving while intoxicated and felony battery for his role in the accident that occurred on June 28 of last year.

Prosecutors with the Ninth West Judicial District allege Hernandez was responsible for the death of two people in that accident. Authorities claim he was driving while intoxicated when the accident occurred.

Hernandez was released on a $75,000 bond last October with the condition that he have no further arrests. Prosecutor Erin Hunter successfully petitioned the Sevier County Circuit Court to revoke his bond as Hernandez’s arrest for public intoxication was a clear violation of his bond conditions.

State police records show 22-year-old Bernard Edwards, Junior, of Fulton and an unidentified minor were killed in last year’s accident. Hernandez was not named in the original accident report as state police do not name minors or uninjured parties in those reports. Prosecutors are alleging however that Hernandez’s 2014 Chevy Silverado crossed the centerline on Highway 41 on June 28 and struck a 2003 Honda Civic with the minor and Edwards inside. Both the minor and Edwards were pronounced dead at the scene. Another passenger in the Civic was transported to a Texarkana hospital for treatment.

Hernandez was not injured in the accident. Hernandez was arrested after charges were formally filed following an investigation into the accident. He was charged with negligent homicide for the deaths of the minor and Edwards, felony battery for the injuries sustained to the other passenger, and driving while intoxicated.

Hernandez is now awaiting his next court appearance in the Sevier County Jail. His pre-trial hearing has been rescheduled to Sept. 30.

In addition, the victim’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against Hernandez and five other individuals who the family alleges served alcohol to Hernandez prior to the accident. The identities of the five individuals listed as defendants are not listed in the suit.

The family is asking for a jury trial in the civil lawsuit. The family said they are seeking a monetary judgment against Hernandez for both economic and non-economic damages they’ve suffered due to Edward’s death.

Leopards soccer team will compete for seventh state championship     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – A huge congratulations is in order for the De Queen Leopards high school soccer team, who are advancing to the Class 4A state soccer championship this upcoming weekend. The Leopards closed out the semifinals with a 2-1 win over Nashville Saturday afternoon.

That means the Leopards will go on to compete for their seventh state championship win this Saturday, May 22 against Valley View.

The Lady Leopards weren’t able to advance but nonetheless played a tough game against Harrison during Saturday’s semifinals, falling by just one point with a final score of 3-2. Congratulations to the Lady Leopards for this great season and with a final four finish.

The Leopards high school boys soccer team has won six state championships since the program was founded in 2008. The team plans to earn that seventh championship this weekend. The Leopards won four of those state championships back-to-back between 2009 and 2012.

This year’s season was a marked by a number of close but exciting games, including a nailbiter 1-0 win over Robinson which earned the Leopards the conference soccer tournament title. One of the big highlights of the season was the 7-0 win against the Mena Bearcats during the same tournament.

No doubt, De Queen fans are in for a great show at this weekend’s state championship tournament when the Leopards take on Valley View.

De Queen High School will say farewell to Class of 2021 during ceremony tonight     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – It is graduation day for the De Queen High School Class of 2021.

Fortunately, and unlike last year, De Queen seniors will not have to wait months to receive their diplomas. Last year the commencement ceremony had to be postponed until August due to COVID-19.

Tonight’s graduation ceremony is a go. Due to ongoing COVID-19 precautions, however, the ceremony will be split into three serves. The first will commence at 4 p.m., the third at 6 p.m. and the final ceremony at 8 p.m. All three ceremonies will take place in the Leopard Arena.

Graduates have received 10 tickets each to distribute to family and friends in order to following social distancing guidelines still in effect for school events.

The ceremony will also be recorded and viewable through DQTV’s Youtube page. The annual senior walk, featuring 2021 graduates dressed in their cap and gowns as they practice for tonight’s ceremony, is also viewable on the De Queen School District’s Facebook page.

Southwest Arkansas in for another wet, stormy week     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s going to be a wet day and week for the listening area with significant rain chances into the weekend.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service are predicting an 80 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms tomorrow with another 90 percent chance tomorrow and again Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are expected to bring rain as well with chances currently between 50 and 70 percent.

It’s typical spring weather for Southwest Arkansas and the surrounding area, with Mother Nature bringing more rain than anyone could possible use. The past two weeks have brought significant storm systems through the area, leading to power outages and storm debris from straightline winds.

Currently no weather watches or warnings are in place, but with this many consecutive days of rain predictions, flooding is always a possibility. Residents living in flood-prone areas should keep an eye on the weather and conditions. The National Weather Service stated widespread rainfall amounts of three to five inches are expected this week, with isolated higher amounts of eight or more inches also possible. This heavy rainfall will result in rises and possible flooding in areas.

Currently forecasters are predicting the rain chances to slacken over the weekend.

39th Sevier County Senior Citizens Day set for June 4     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County’s annual event to honor local senior citizens is a go for 2021.

The yearly Sevier County Senior Citizens Day was understandably cancelled last year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. However, organizers of this annual celebration say the pandemic has abated enough to hold Senior Citizens Day this year.

The event will be held on Friday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. All area residents 55 and older are welcome to come by to enjoy a meal, entertainment and free health screenings.

Organizers do stress that all participants observe COVID-19 precautions including social distancing and the wearing of face masks if social distancing is not possible. In addition, organizers say senior citizens who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may not want to attend this year’s event.

In addition to food, entertainment and vendors, the event will feature a number of free health screenings and demonstrations for senior citizens. Angie Walker of the Dr. Randy Walker Family Clinic, Sevier County Judge Greg Ray, both of whom are longtime organizers of Sevier County’s Senior Citizens Day, spoke with us to share some additional information on the event.

In addition to food, entertainment and vendors, the event will feature a number of free health screenings and demonstrations for senior citizens. Angie Walker of the Dr. Randy Walker Family Clinic and a longtime organizer of Sevier County’s Senior Citizens Day, spoke with us to share some additional information on the event.
Walker said one of the first things long-time attendees may notice is the date change for the annual celebraiton.

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Vendors who are interested in setting up a booth at this year’s event can still do so, Walker added.
Walker said there will be a ton of stuff going on for area senior citizens to enjoy, from a free meal provided by Pilgrim’s to live music, door prizes and dozens of vendors.
Again, this year’s 39th Sevier County Senior Citizens Day will be held Friday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen.
Arvest Foundation donates $3,500 to De Queen Senior Citizens Center     5/17/2021
The De Queen Senior Citizens Center is receiving some welcome assistance through a donation by the Arvest Foundation. Last week, several members of the Arvest Foundation presented administrators of the De Queen Senior Citizens Center with a check for $3,500. The grant will enable the center to install new flooring as well as purchase a new stove, microwave and other kitchen supplies as it prepares to reopen to the public July 1. Pictured from left to right are Patti Boone, Helga Buenrostro, Joyce Short, Peggy Sharp, Karen Crum and Yvonne Boone.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Senior Citizens Center is receiving some welcome assistance through a donation by the Arvest Foundation.

On May 13, several members of the Arvest Foundation presented administrators of the De Queen Senior Citizens Center with a check for $3,500. Those making the check presentation included Arvest members Patti Boone, Helga Buenrostro and Karen Crum.

The grant will enable the center to install new flooring as well as purchase a new stove, microwave and other kitchen supplies as it prepares to reopen to the public July 1.

Yvonne Boone, program manager for the De Queen Senior Citizens Center, said the center applauds the Arvest Foundation in its response to help the senior citizens of De Queen. She added that local seniors are facing tremendous uncertainty and many are struggling to supply their essential needs. Ensuring the center is in great shape to reopen this summer, Boone added, is a vital necessity.

The De Queen Senior Citizens Center has been providing frozen meals to area seniors since the pandemic first began. Boon said this effort is to ensure the safety of the seniors the center serves and prevent exposure to COVID-19. She said access to food is not the only challenge facing many area seniors. In addition, the center recognizes the isolation many seniors are experiencing in order to stay safe at home.

Boone said in addition to providing meals the center can also connect seniors to services during this challenge times. For more information on those services, contact site manager Joyce Short at 642-6045.

Today is last day to early vote in Ashdown School Board race     5/17/2021

ASHDOWN – Today is the last day to early vote in the Ashdown School Board race.
 
The only area school board race this year is for Zone F in the Ashdown School District between incumbent Glenda Smedley and challenger Stephanie Ringgold.
 
For residents of Little River County, early voting can be conducted at the Little River County Election Center on 349 North Third Street in Ashdown. This will also be the polling location for Little River County residents who wish to vote tomorrow, Election Day.
 
A poll will be open in Ben Lomond on election day for residents of Sevier County who live within the Ashdown School District’s boundaries. This poll will be located in the Ben Lomond Community Building from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 18, election day.
 
For Sevier County voters wishing to early vote in the Ashdown School Board race, they can do so at the Sevier County Clerk’s Office in the Sevier County Courthouse through 5 p.m. today.

De Queen Library organizing garden seed exchange program     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Library and Sevier County Farmer’s Market are introducing a new garden Seed Exchange Program.  

Organizers say the Seed Exchange is a fun way to build a community around gardening information, planting and sharing. Seed swapping helps everyone become more self-sufficient by learning to grow their own food. And if you want to reduce stress, gardening is a great activity to pick up at any age.

The De Queen Branch Library is the checkout station for the seeds. A patron can pick out five seed packets of their choice per person every two weeks.

Once a patron’s crops are over for the season we encourage them to swap seeds with a friend (if desired) and donate seeds back to the De Queen Branch Library. Those interested in participating are encouraged to collect new seeds from their harvest in the fall and donate them back to the library for next year.

The library has received the packet of seeds as a donation by Sevier County Farmer’s COOP and Bailey’s.

For more information, call Angela with the Farmer’s Market at 870-582-2903 or the De Queen Branch Library 870-584-4364. You can also visit the Sevier County Library and Sevier County Farmer’s Market Facebook pages for more information

At the end of the season should a person choose not to donate back, the library will still continue to have seeds donated by local businesses to continue with the seed exchange.

SWAR COVID-19 figures remain low; two additional deaths reported in Polk County     5/17/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County continue to remain at near-zero levels, with just two confirmed active cases in the county. Total cases grew just slightly over the last week to 2,790. Deaths have not seen an increase in over two months and remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting 10 active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,249 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42.

Howard County is reporting two active cases at this time. Total cases were unchanged at 1,655 and deaths at 25.

Active cases in Polk County currently number three. Total cases rose slightly last week to 1,993. Tragically Polk County did confirm two additional deaths to the virus last week, raising the total to 74 since the pandemic began.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 95 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Sunday for a cumulative total of nearly 339,000 transmissions. Active cases fell by 58 to 2,058 currently. One death was reported yesterday for a total of 5,794 since last spring. Currently 171 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus, an increase of five from the day before.

Highway 329 back open after two-car train derailment     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – Highway 329 is back open to traffic after it was shut down Tuesday afternoon when two railway cars derailed near the former Pilgrim’s hatchery east of De Queen. Crews were able to complete the work of clearing the debris and repairing damaged portions of the track yesterday. Damaged sections of track also included the crossings over Smith and Farm-to-Market Roads. Investigators with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office said both train cars were carrying wood chips and posed no hazardous material threat. No one was injured in the derailment.

De Queen man arrested on felony drug charges after raid     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – A De Queen man is in jail after he was arrested on felony drug trafficking charges earlier this week. Andrew Mills, 35, was arrested during the execution of a search warrant by multiple state and local law enforcement agencies at his home on Robinson Loop. Officials with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation began after complaints were received about suspected drug trafficking at the home, located on Robinson Loop and not far from the sheriff’s office and Sevier County Jail. An undercover, controlled purchase was made at the residence. This led to the signing and execution of the search warrant on Mill’s home. According to the sheriff’s office, the search uncovered over four ounces of methamphetamine, a substantial number of Xanex pills, marijuana and drug paraphernalia related to the sale and distribution of controlled substances. Mills was arrested at the home without incident. He is facing charges of possession of methamphetamine with the purpose to deliver as well as drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug premise. Agencies involved in the search warrant and arrest included the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, the Ninth West Judicial Drug Task Force, the De Queen Police Department and the Arkansas State Police.

Canadian company to purchase Domtar in $3 billion deal     5/13/2021

ASHDOWN – A Canadian company has announced it is in the process of purchasing the Domtar Corporation, which includes the Ashdown-based processing facility. The transaction was announced this week Paper Excellence, a Canadian based pulp manufacturer, said it would purchase Domtar’s stock for $55.50 per share. This values the deal at $3 billion. Company officials said they expected the deal to close within the third or fourth quarter of the year. In a company press release, officials with Paper Excellence said Domtar will continue to operate as a separate subsidiary. This includes retaining Domtar’s corporate and manufacturing locations as well as its current corporate leadership. Joe Ragan, global chief financial officer for Paper Excellence, the purchase marks a major step in the company’s global strategy of identifying well-positioned assets and positioning them for growth. Earlier this year Domtar sold off its personal care business for $1 billion. The deal was made, according to company officials, to help the company restructure following a difficult 2020. Last year the Domtar permanently shuttered a processing line at its Ashdown facility, which resulted in the loss of 142 positions.

DHS yearbook program receives national recognition     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School’s yearbook program has achieved a national recognition for excellence. Jostens, the leading producer of yearbooks and student-created content in the United States, announced this week that De Queen High School’s yearbook program has achieved the Jostens 2021 National Yearbook Program of Excellence award at the silver level. The National Yearbook Program of Excellence recognizes engaging yearbooks that reflect a broad representation of the student body while helping students develop 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, and information and communication technologies (ICT) literacy. The De Queen High School award-winning yearbook program is led by 2021 Editors Janae Tirado and Kayla Hernandez, and staff members Bernice Antunez, Bridgette Ortiz, Alexis Hall, Breanna Pole, Axel Lima, Mirella Hernandez, Roxanna Morales, and Aubri Johnson. The yearbook program is under the direction of Kristine Albin, De Queen High School yearbook adviser. Mrs. Albin said the national recognition is just one of many compliments deserved by this group of hardworking students. Through this year’s challenges, educational and personal to each student, Mrs. Albin said each of these talented young adults met every deadline and goal. The program will only be losing two yearbook members for the 2022 publication, so she have no doubt those who remain and those who will be taking over key roles in the program, will make next year’s book just as special for all readers. Jostens’ National Yearbook Program of Excellence Awards are presented twice a year, in spring and in fall based on the yearbook’s arrival date at the school. The award was presented to the De Queen High School yearbook program for achieving defined criteria over several categories: creating an inclusive yearbook, generating school engagement, and successfully managing the yearbook creation process.

All Arkansans 12 and up now eligible for COVID vaccine; clinics upcoming in DQ     5/13/2021

All Arkansans aged 12 and up are now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement was made yesterday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly update. The FDA provided emergency authorization this week to administer the vaccine to teens aged 12 to 15. Previously the vaccine was available to people 16 and up. Hutchinson said this move is a step towards helping Arkansas reach its goal of having at least 50 percent of the state vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of July. Health officials across the nation added that the FDA’s emergency authorization is also good news for parents who remain worried about sending their children to in-person classes at their schools. Arkansans seeking information about COVID-19 vaccines, and where to receive one, can call the Arkansas Department of Health’s hotline at 1-800-985-6030. As of Tuesday, more than 800,000 Arkansans have been fully vaccinated, or around 30 percent of the state’s population. Several COVID-19 vaccine clinics are either underway today or planned for this weekend. That includes a walk-in clinic at the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. No appointment is needed for this walk-in clinic. The vaccine can also be received from 2-5 p.m. today at the pharmacy. However, an appointment must be set up to receive the vaccine during this time period. St. Barbara Catholic Church and the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy are joining efforts to bring a new COVID-19 vaccination clinic to town this month. The community COVID-19 vaccination clinic has been scheduled for Sunday, May 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic will be set up at St. Barbara Catholic Church at 503 W. De Queen Avenue in downtown De Queen. The vaccine provided at this event will the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Those who receive their first Pfizer dose will receive an appointment for Sunday, June 6 to receive their second shot. The May 16 event will be a walk-in, first-come, first-serve clinic so no registration or appointments are needed.

Crystal Hill Decoration Days scheduled     5/13/2021

WICKES – The annual Crystal Hill Decoration at Wickes, traditionally held the fourth Sunday in May, will resume this year on May 23 with service at 11 a.m. A potluck will be held at noon with singing in the afternoon. Everyone is urged to follow Covid precautionary guidelines. Work days include this Saturday, May 15 as well as Saturday, May 22, or whenever your schedule permits. Donations for upkeep to the buildings and cemetery grounds are appreciated and may be mailed to Sue Sullivan, 305 N. 6th St., DeQueen, AR 71832. For more information, contact any board member including Dale or Jeannie White, Thomas Jenkins, Byron Sullivan or Larry Wilcher. You can also call (870) 784-3109.

De Queen School Board accepts resignations, new hires     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – This week’s meeting of the De Queen School Board included a number of resignations as well as new hires for the upcoming school year. Members of the school board accepted several resignations, including High School Teacher Kristine Albin, Tech specialist Johntavious Baker, Junior High Special Education Teacher Sara Bingham, Junior High Teacher and Coach David Smith, Leopard Band Director Chris Richard and Elementary Instructor Diana Nemlowill. New hires include Eric Perez as a middle school teacher and coach, Erin Johnson as a primary teacher, Lacey Young as an elementary teacher, Gabriela Balderas as a middle school counselor, Cameron Glasgow as an elementary teacher, Nita Campbell for literacy instruction, Angela Dunn as an interventionist and Daniel Dunn as Leopard Band Director. The board also upheld two district-recommended student expulsions due to violations of the district’s behavioral policies.

Arkansans will need permit to keep some wild species     5/13/2021

Arkansans who have not updated or obtained their permits for owning, breeding or dealing certain captive wildlife species have until July 1 to submit their application. This includes any first-time permittees who may not have all the proper documentation usually required to obtain these permits. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is working with these customers to get them into compliance. Additionally, owners of venomous reptiles also must submit an application for a new Venomous Reptile Permit no later than July 1. As a general rule, non-domesticated wildlife species do not make good pets, but just about every Arkansan knows of someone that may have had a pet raccoon, squirrel, opossum or other non-traditional pet at one time. For these reasons and many others, all non-domestic animal species are classified as wildlife in Arkansas, whether they are native or exotic, free-ranging or captive-born. Many non-traditional pet species fall within this category of wildlife, which places responsibility for their oversight with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. During the last  two years, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission staff have evaluated and updated many regulations concerning the possession, breeding and sale of non-domestic pets. Captive wildlife species in Arkansas fall under one of three categories, based on their potential risk to human health and the health of native wildlife: unrestricted, permitted and prohibited species. Complete and up-to-date species lists are available at www.agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/captive-wildlife/species-lists. As part of the new regulations, the AGFC is allowing those Arkansans who wish to possess, breed or sell certain wildlife to apply for required permits even if they do not have all the proper documentation normally required. The new Venomous Reptile Permit also is an effort to allow owners of medically significant venomous reptiles to continue to own their pets while again protecting the interest of the general public. Applications, fact sheets and species lists concerning captive wildlife are available at www.agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/captive-wildlife.

Portion of Hwy 329 closed following two-car derailment Tuesday afternoon     5/12/2021

Hwy 329 remains closed to traffic after two freight cars derailed east of De Queen by the former hatchery earlier this afternoon. No one was injured. Work to clear and repair the tracks continues on Hwy 329 as well as Farm to Market Road. Smith Road has reopened to traffic. Drivers are asked to find alternative routes at this time.

DE QUEEN – A portion of Highway 329 remains closed to traffic after two railway cars derailed Tuesday afternoon. The derailment occurred near the former Pilgrim’s hatchery east of De Queen on Highway 329. The highway remains closed until crews can complete the work of clearing the debris and repairing damaged portions of the track. Damaged sections of track included the crossings over Smith and Farm-to-Market Roads. Investigators with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office said both train cars were carrying wood chips and posed no hazardous material threat. No one was injured in the derailment. Emergency responders and railroad crews worked through the afternoon, evening and night to clear the derailed cars and repair the affected tracks.

Horatio schools out today due to water issues     5/12/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Public Schools has closed its campuses today due to a water issue affecting not just the school but most Horatio water customers at this time. Today will be a digital day for Horatio students, which means teachers and students will be teaching and learning remotely from home. Plans are to return to school again on Thursday. In an email, Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the district realizes some students will not have their iPads with them Wednesday due to the short notice of the closure. He said teachers will provide extended time for certain assignments. Students are advised to watch for any communications from their teachers. Officials with the City of Horatio announced water will be shut off to all municipal water customers Wednesday morning to perform repairs to a damaged waterline. Officials said they were unsure how long the shutoff would last.

Broadband program to help Arkansans cover costs of internet, computers     5/12/2021

The Arkansas Department of Commerce announced on Tuesday, May 11, a new program to increase broadband service for eligible households during the pandemic. The temporary benefit named the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that will lower the cost of broadband services. The $3.2 billion EBB program provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households or qualifying Tribal lands. The program also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider. A household is eligible if one member of the household meets certain criteria. That includes an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program. -In addition, eligible applicants include those who receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year; -Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; -Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or – Or meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program. For more information, including application information, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov

DHS grad ceremony set for May 17; DQTV announces sports and scholarship banquet video releases     5/12/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools is wrapping up the 2020-2021 school year and seniors are counting down the days to graduation. Unlike last spring, DHS Seniors will not have to wait until August to receive their diplomas, although graduation ceremonies will once again be held in Leopard Arena and be divided into three sessions. The 2021 DHS Commencements will be this coming Monday, May 17 at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Due to limited seating capacity and social distancing requirements, each graduate will receive ten tickets to give to friends and family. The annual DHS Scholarship Banquet will once again be held virtually. With the help of the students at DQTV, scholarship presenters have recorded their presentations to the DHS graduates. The presentations have been combined to create the 2021 DHS Virtual Scholarship Banquet and will be released this Friday, May 14 on the DQTV Youtube channel. The annual Leopard All Sports Banquet has also moved to a virtual format for the 2021 school year. The DQTV students produced an awards show for each Leopard athletic team and are being released on the DQTV Youtube channel. The awards shows for the fall sports were released in April and the shows for Spring sports are being released this week. You can these and other student-produced videos at the DQTV Youtube channel.

Tax assessment deadline is May 31     5/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Assessor Sheila Ridley and her office are reminding everyone that personal taxes must be assessed by May 31st to avoid a penalty as provided by law. A 10 percent penalty will be applied if you assess your taxable property after the May 31 deadline. When you assess your taxes all changes in real estate structures must be reported. Be sure and apply for Amendment 79, the homestead credit, if you haven’t already. You do not need to reapply for this credit each year. If you are 65 years of age or older you can receive a property tax value freeze. You can call (870) 584-3182 to assess personal property or come by 115 N. Thrid Street, Suite 117 at the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. You can also email scassessor@windstream.net

Arkansans aged 12 and up now eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine     5/12/2021

All Arkansans aged 12 and up are now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The announcement was made yesterday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly update. The FDA provided emergency authorization this week to administer the vaccine to teens aged 12 to 15. Previously the vaccine was available to people 16 and up. Hutchinson said this move is a step towards helping Arkansas reach its goal of having at least 50 percent of the state vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of July.
Health officials across the nation added that the FDA’s emergency authorization is also good news for parents who remain worried about sending their children to in-person classes at their schools.
Arkansans seeking information about COVID-19 vaccines, and where to receive one, can call the Arkansas Department of Health’s hotline at 1-800-985-6030. As of Tuesday, more than 800,000 Arkansans have been fully vaccinated, or around 30 percent of the state’s population.
Hutchinson also announced the creation of a committee to manage the more than $1.5 billion received by Arkansas through federal COVID-19 relief funding. That funding is slated to go to Arkansas schools, municipalities and the Department of Human Services. The committee is set up to decide how receiving entities can use those funds. Hutchinson said the committee will partner with Arkansas communities, the private sector and non-profits in the decision-making process.
The Arkansas Department of Health reported 233 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to just under 338,000 transmissions since the pandemic first entered Arkansas. Active cases fell by 10 to 2,043 across Arkansas. Deaths increased by six to 5,770 since last spring. Hospitalizations saw no increase or decrease, leaving 169 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Arkansas Lottery warns to scam emails     5/12/2021

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is alerting players to an email scam that is circulating in the state. A fake email entitled “Congratulations From Arkansas Mega Millions” is being sent to Arkansas players telling them to claim a prize by clicking on a link. Anyone who receives the fake email should not click the link and delete the email immediately. If a player wins Mega Millions or any other lottery game, they must have purchased a ticket and then must claim their prize at the ASL Claim Center in Little Rock. The only time lottery representatives might be contacting players is to notify them that they have won a Second-Chance Promotion or a Play It Again® drawing through The Club. Otherwise players must come forward to claim their prize. Lotteries of foreign countries are illegal in the United States. If you have been contacted by a lottery claiming to be affiliated with the government of another country, it is a scam. If you think you have been a victim of fraud or attempted fraud by someone posing as a representative of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, please report it to the Arkansas Lottery Security hotline at 1-888-606-6292 and/or the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at 1-800-482-8982.

Last night’s storm leaves over 100 without power in Sevier, Little River     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Over a hundred homes and businesses were without power in Sevier and Little River County Tuesday morning following another round of storms last night. SWEPCO is reporting most of those outages are between Horatio and Foreman. Power is expected to be restored around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. Southwest REA is not reporting any area power outages at this time. More rain and thunderstorms are expected today in what has become a very wet and stormy spring for Southwest Arkansas. Chances for heavy rain are 100 percent today, according to the National Weather Service. Chances drop off a little this evening and into Wednesday before some much welcomed sunny skies return later this week. No weather watches or warnings are currently in effect for the listening area. The National Weather Service has however issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Sevier, Howard, Little River and McCurtain Counties. The outlook states periods of moderate to heavy rainfall will once again be possible throughout today and tonight and may result in some localized flash flooding. Some of today’s storms may be strong to severe as well, with high winds and hail being the primary threats.

State places pause on use of COVID relief funds provided to schools     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Officials with the De Queen School District said a hold has been put on a number of planned projects that will be funded through federal COVID-19 relief money. The district has received over $10 million in federal funding through the three COVID-19 relief bills passed in 2020 and 2021. The district had plans for much of the $7.3 million provided in the most recent relief bill but now those projects have been paused – not just in De Queen, but across the state. De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the pause is a reflection of the state’s hope that the federal aid is spent wisely and in the best interest of Arkansas students. District officials hoped to use the federal aid to focus on direct student support, such as tutoring, additional technology and programs to help students catch up after a school year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. The money would also be used to hire additional cleaning staff as well as provide new curriculum and professional development opportunities for teachers. One of the big goals is to implement programs to prevent learning loss, particularly among students who chose De Queen’s virtual learning option. Sanders stressed none of the planned projects are cancelled. Rather, they are just waiting final state approval before work can actually start. Sanders said some federally-funded projects are already approved and not subject to the new pause. That includes over a million dollars in HVAC improvement projects to various De Queen school campuses. In addition, the extra end-of-year compensation for teachers and school staff approved by the school board last month will remain in place. District officials stressed the need to compensate teachers and staff given the challenges to education posed over this past school year. During last night’s school board meeting Sanders also stated the district will receive a lower level of federal funding next school year through the National School Lunch Act (NSLA). This is a result of fewer free and reduced lunch forms turned in by parents of De Queen students during the 2020-2021 school year. The reduced funding amounts to around $160,000. School officials anticipated the reduction given the number of students who chose the district’s virtual learning option and likely felt little motivation to fill out those forms. That, and the fact school meals were provided for free to all Arkansas students over the past school year. Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton then provided an update on facilities and construction projects around the district. He said new bleachers will arrive for Leopard Stadium next month with work to be completed by Aug. 1. Work on installing Astroturf at the stadium is set to begin in just a couple of weeks. The new Astroturf field is expected to be completed before the next school year. Finally, district officials and school board members said their farewells to Gloria Caldwell. Caldwell has been a member of the school board since 2009. She said her decision to step down came as a result of no longer having children attending De Queen schools. Caldwell added she believes her position on the school board should be open to a new member who does. Nonetheless, Caldwell said she’s greatly enjoyed her time on the board and hopes she helped shape a better school district for De Queen students. The school board voiced its support of appointing Tony Soto to Caldwell’s position at its June meeting.

Sevier County Quorum Court tables talk of chicken house regulations, welcomes newly-appointed justice of the peace     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court again declined to discuss or take any action on regulating where poultry houses can be built within the unincorporated areas of the county. The discussion was placed on yesterday’s meeting agenda. It was expected someone would be present at the meeting to speak in support of regulating poultry house construction. However, no one showed up to advance that issue and the quorum court quickly and without further discussion tabled that issue indefinitely. The quorum court’s decision to table the issue affirms a similar decision it made last year. At that meeting justices of the peace declined not to weigh in on a private dispute involving a landowner’s plan to build a number of poultry houses near the De Queen Country Club. The quorum court choose not to take any action in that dispute and deemed it a private, civil matter. Yesterday, Sevier County Judge Greg Ray and justices of the peace said their stance had not changed. No regulations were discussed and officials said further disputes involving this issue should remain civil matters. In other business, Dr. Steve Cole, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, introduced the hospital’s new CEO, Lori House. House was officially named the new CEO last week and will take over the position starting June 1. After introducing herself House spoke about a community health needs assessment that will be conducted soon to ensure the new hospital is tailored to the health needs specific to Sevier County and the surrounding area. Given the history of failed hospital administration in De Queen, House spoke the new medical center will bring transparency and accountability to the community to ensure its success into the future. House also told the quorum court she plans to soon seek out a chief financial officer and director of nursing for the new hospital. The process will begin this fall and winter to start filling the more than 100 new full-time jobs that will be created by the hospital once it opens next year. The quorum court then heard a presentation from Dr. Jason Lofton, who is leading an initiative to build hiking and mountain bike trails at De Queen Lake. He asked the county to consider assisting in this project by seeking out a Transportation Alternative Program Grant through the state. If attained, this matching grant would provide 80 percent of funding with the county to cover the remaining 20 percent. Lofton estimates it will cost around $357,000 to complete the trails at De Queen Lake. The county’s 20 percent match would total around $70,000. The quorum court voiced its support of the project. The quorum court’s budget committee will meet next week to determine how much could be provided as a match to the trail grant. Their decision will be announced later this month before the June 1 deadline to apply for the grant. Lofton stressed the economic and health benefits for Sevier County through an extensive and well-constructed system of trails. Lofton will join us on the Morning Brew Wednesday morning around 7:15 to discuss the project and its future plans. Finally, Monday’s meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court included a new justice of the peace recently appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Evelyn Keels was that appointee and will carry on the duties of the District 2 seat on the quorum court until the next election, when she must step down. Keels is continuing the term held by her husband, the late Charles Keels. Charles Keels was a long-serving quorum court member who passed away last year. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said it was extremely fitting to see Charles’ term completed by his wife, Evelyn.

AHS Senior Brayden receives Award for Musical Excellence     5/11/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School Senior Brayden Porter has received the Governor’s Award for Musical Excellence. The distinction is awarded each year to high school seniors in Arkansas. Each school may nominate a single student based on musical ability, musical accomplishments, leadership, teamwork, and service to a band program.  Each student selected for this honor receives a medal to be worn at graduation. Brayden has been a part of the award-winning Ashdown Band Program for seven years. While at AHS, Brayden was also involved in the National Honor Society and Beta Club. Brayden plans to join the Marine Corps Reserves following graduation.

COVID active cases remain at single-digit levels in Southwest Arkansas     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases in Sevier County are remaining at the lowest levels since the virus first entered Arkansas, with just two currently confirmed active cases in the county. In terms of cumulative cases, the Arkansas Department of Health reports a total of 2,789 people in Sevier County caught COVID-19 at some point over the past year. 24 county residents have died according to the Department of Health. Deaths have not risen in Sevier County in nearly two months. In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting six active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,241 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42. Howard County is reporting three active cases at this time. Total cases were unchanged at 1,655 and deaths at 25. Active cases in Polk County currently number six. Total cases rose slightly over the weekend to 1,990. Deaths remain at 72. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 76 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Monday for a cumulative total of over 337,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 79 to 2,053 currently. Three deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,764 since last spring. Currently 169 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Oklahoma man dies in Ashdown collision     5/10/2021

ASHDOWN – An Oklahoma man was killed in an accident in Little River County over the weekend. According to the Arkansas State Police, 55-year-old Lawrence Box of Valliant, Okla., died Saturday after receiving injuries from a two-vehicle accident on Highway 32 East in Ashdown. The accident occurred around 9 a.m. According to the preliminary Arkansas State Police report, Box was a passenger in a 2014 Honda CRV when the minor-aged driver attempted to make a left-hand turn onto the highway and was struck by a westbound 2015 Peterbilt semi-truck. Box was taken to Little River Memorial Hospital in Ashdown where he died from his injuries. The minor-driver and another minor, both females, were injured. They were taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. They were not identified in the report. The driver of the Peterbilt was not injured. The investigating state trooper reported weather conditions as clear and the road as dry.

Arkansas legislature passed a raft of travel-related acts in 2021     5/10/2021

From when you can drive in the left lane to regulating autonomous cars, the last session of the Arkansas Legislature made several changes to laws regarding the state’s roadways. That includes Act 1090, which states a vehicle shall not be driven on the left lane of a multilane highway, except: -When overtaking and passing another vehicle; when all other lanes for traveling in the same direction are closed to traffic while under construction or repair or if the right lane is otherwise in disrepair or in an unsafe condition; or, finally, when a vehicle is preparing to exit the multilane highway on the left. Act 264 amends the law concerning the unlawful passing of a school bus. It states drivers must come to a complete stop no less than 30 feet from the bus when it stops to load or unload passengers. This 30 feet perimeter would apply to public roads, private or public property open to the general public, and any driveway or parking lot belonging to a public school. Act 1061 states that a person commits the crime of felony racing on a public highway if he or she is drag racing on a public highway and impedes or stops the flow of traffic. This also includes gatherings of 10 or more individuals engaging in the same behavior. Felony racing on a public highway is now a Class D felony. Act 558 makes leaving the scene of an accident with injuries a Class D felony. However, if there are serious physical injuries or death, the offender would be charged with a Class B felony. Other transportation legislation passed this year include Act 504. This legislation removes licensing requirements for a motor vehicle salesperson and a recreational vehicle salesperson. This bill also creates the Automotive Technologist Education Grant Program. The Division of Career and Technical Education may then award grants for training in automotive repair and technology. Act 160 states that if a driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle is convicted of using the commercial motor vehicle in the commission of a felony involving human trafficking, the driver shall be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life. Another act amends the additional fees required to register a hybrid vehicle. The new fees for hybrid vehicles will be reduced from $100 to $50 starting January 1, 2022. Fees for electric vehicles will be $200, and the fees for a plug-in hybrid elective vehicle will be $100. Act 1067 requires that a person operating a bicycle upon a crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian. Act 926-This bill allows the operation of a personal delivery device in pedestrian areas and certain streets. Another bill would give Arkansans up to 24 months to take the driving portion of a driver’s test after passing the written portion of the exam. Currently, Arkansans are only given 12 months before they have to re-take the written exam. Finally, Act 784 states the maximum fine that can be imposed for a seat belt violation is $45.

DQ native’s family, persistence celebrated during ATU grad ceremony     5/10/2021

Courtesy of Arkansas Tech University

As Rosalma Martinez stood on a sidewalk in front of Crabaugh Hall awaiting her graduation from Arkansas Tech University on Friday, May 7, her thoughts were with the two people who chased the American dream and made it attainable for her. “Without them, it wouldn’t be possible,” said Martinez. “My grandparents are immigrants from Mexico. This past year, my grandpa had dialysis and a kidney transplant, so after all that we didn’t think he would be here for my graduation. It’s a milestone. It’s for my grandparents. It’s important to all of us because I am the first one in my family to graduate from college. It’s surreal. I never thought this day would come. It still doesn’t feel real that I’m here right now.” Martinez received a Bachelor of Science degree in information technology. ATU conferred approximately 1,750 credentials during a series of commencement ceremonies Thursday through Saturday at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field and Tucker Coliseum. A native of De Queen, Martinez first enrolled at Arkansas Tech in 2015. She completed her degree in spring 2020, but her opportunity to walk in a commencement ceremony was delayed 12 months by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “I have gained a lot of empathy for others,” said Martinez when asked how the pandemic changed her. “It has really shown how much we have to come together and work together in order to have a thriving community.” The pandemic was the focus of ATU President Dr. Robin E. Bowen’s commencement remarks, which included a moment of silence in memory of Charisma Khilling. An ATU senior from Booneville, Khilling died March 21, 2021, from COVID-19 complications. “Through all the pain and sorrow of the past 14 months, here we are,” said Bowen. “Each of us in attendance today has been spared from the scourge of COVID-19. I believe we have a responsibility…for Charisma and the 3 million others no longer with us on this planet…to each do our small part to make the post-pandemic world a kinder, gentler place. A place where we choose love over hate, unity over division and peace over strife. “As graduates of the Class of 2021, you represent the determination that got us through the pandemic and the belief that we can emerge from this dark time stronger than before,” continued Bowen. “Take the skills and talents you have honed at Arkansas Tech and do great things for yourself and your family. You are prepared to help fuel the post-pandemic economic recovery of our state and our nation. But while you are pursuing your personal aspirations, please always, always remember the most important lesson of the COVID-19 pandemic: we are all in this together.” Martinez has gained employment as a technical support analyst for Dillard’s. Her long-term career aspiration is to become a web developer. As she goes forth to pursue that and other goals made possible by those who came before her, perhaps the greatest lesson Martinez took from her ATU experience was to value and appreciate every day. “I’ll remember simple things like going to Baswell Techionery,” said Martinez. “I feel like I took it for granted and didn’t realize how quickly it would go. I tried to appreciate every moment I had here at Tech.”

Cattlemen’s Association hosting Field Day in Horatio this Saturday     5/10/2021

HORATIO – The Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association will host a Field Day this Saturday, May 15 and organizers invite everyone to this learning event. The field day will include a tour of a new processing facility, Prime Country Meats in Horatio. Educational topics include Preg Check using blood samples, heifer selection for successful reproduction, weed control and other topics of interest to cattle producers. The day begins at 10 a.m. at one of the working pens at Al and Vicky Wright’s Mill Creek Ranch located behind the Hendrix Baseball Field in Horatio. Lunch will be served at Prime Country Meats and more educational sessions will be held at Morris Ranch on Twin Bridges Road near Horatio. The field day is being arranged by Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association. For more information, call (870) 584-8809.

Early voting for school board elections begins tomorrow     5/10/2021

Early voting begins tomorrow for area school board elections. Positions on several area school boards were up for election this year. In the Horatio School District, that included Zone 4 held by Sherri Hodges and Zone 1 held by Joe Jones. Neither are facing challengers in this year’s election. On the De Queen School Board, Zone 3 will go unoccupied. Incumbent Gloria Caldwell did not seek reelection. The seat will remain open unless a director is appointed to the board. In Dierks Kenneth “Trey” Walt Eckert III is running unopposed for a director position on the Dierks School Board. The only school board race is for Zone F in the Ashdown School District between incumbent Glenda Smedley and challenger Stephanie Ringgold. A poll will be open in Ben Lomond on election day for residents of Sevier County who live within the Ashdown School District’s boundaries. This poll will be located in the Ben Lomond Community Building from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 18, election day. All area school districts are maintaining their current millage rate. That includes 44 mills in Horatio, 32.2 in De Queen, 44 in Cossatot River School District, 35.7 in Ashdown, 34 in Mineral Springs and 43 in Dierks. The Sevier County Courthouse will be the sole polling location for Sevier County voters living within the Horatio and De Queen School Districts. Early voting will be conducted at the county clerk’s office beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 11 and continuing through 5 p.m. on Monday, May 17. Election day is May 18.

May/June Arkansas Wildlife magazine focuses on Arkansas Water Trails     5/10/2021

Spring is the most popular season to paddle Arkansas’s rivers, bayous and lakes. That’s why the May/June issue of Arkansas Wildlife magazine includes a comprehensive guide to Arkansas Water Trails. Water trails combine the relaxation of time on the water with the excitement of fishing and viewing wildlife.It’s also a little easier to see wildlife up-close from a canoe, as many species rarely see any threats coming from the water. Arkansas has established 14 water trails across the state – from Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, a few miles from Louisiana, to Crooked Creek, not far from Missouri. Although none of these water trails are in Southwest Arkansas, they are well worth the drive. But if staying local is preferred, the Cossatot River, Rolling Fork River and numerous area lakes all provide scenic and exciting times on the water. The May/June issue of Arkansas Wildlife is available at www.arkansaswildlife.com or calling 800-283-2664.

“Docs Talking Stock” shares latest in animal science issues with Arkansans     5/10/2021

Animal science specialists with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have a new monthly video series — “Docs Talkin’ Stock” — to share recommendations and updates on animal issues important to Arkansas producers. The series, which debuted this month, is hosted by faculty from the Animal Science department at the Cooperative Extension Service. Chelsey Kimbrough, extension specialty livestock/youth education specialist for the Division of Agriculture, moderates the program. The first episode features Shane Gadberry, extension ruminant nutrition specialist for the Division of Agriculture, discussing beef cattle nutrition, reproduction and current research at the UA Livestock and Forestry Research Station in Batesville. That episode and future ones can be viewed at the UAEX Facebook page. https://fb.watch/52CKGBV7pU/. New episodes will be posted on the first Monday of each month and can be viewed on the UAEX Animal Science Facebook page and on the UAEX Animal Science YouTube. Dr. Mark Russell, associate professor of equine science, was this month’s guest. Extension’s animal science faculty provide research-based information to those working in the animal agriculture sector, which includes production and processing of poultry, eggs, beef and dairy products, sheep, goats, swine and other animals. Specialists will also offer recommendations for managing pastures and forages, which cover more than 6 million acres in Arkansas.

Sevier County Medical Center announces CEO pick     5/07/2021

The full audio story is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below:

Lori House poses with Dr. Steve Cole, pictured left, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, and Bruce Jackson, chair of the Medical Center Foundation. House was introduced Thursday as the hospital’s new and first CEO.
An Arkansas native, House currently serves as Director of Revenue Cycle for Healthy Connections in Mena and will move to Sevier County to take the CEO position starting June 1.
In an interview House shared her vision for an inclusive hospital with a focus on the health outcomes specific to Sevier County and the surrounding area. She also discussed her excitement to head the new hospital and direct its operations into the future. The hospital is set to open up in spring of 2022.

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Medical Center has its new, and first, chief executive officer. The Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors met yesterday in part to introduce Lori House. House has been selected to head the new hospital starting June 1. An Arkansas native, House currently serves as Director of Revenue Cycle at Healthy Connections in Mena with 18 years of experience in medical administration. House was chosen out of more than a dozen applicants for the CEO/Administrator position. Board chair Dr. Steve Cole said, given the history of administration at the former De Queen Hospital, the medical center board of governors entered the hiring process with the highest of standards and expectations. At yesterday’s meeting, Cole said House fits those qualities the board sought for in the CEO position. As CEO House will be responsible for the day-to-day administrative duties as construction proceeds on the new hospital and once it opens next spring. In an interview following yesterday’s meeting, House discussed her vision for healthcare and the new hospital in specific. In other business, board treasurer Greg Revels provided the hospital’s financial update. He said the hospital currently possesses over $1.7 million in sales tax collections. Those funds, the board has previously stated, will be used as a “war chest” to help fund the hospital in the vital year before it is eligible to become a critical access hospital and thereby receive additional Medicare reimbursement. Revels, however, said April’s sales tax collections were the lowest since collections began last year. He said that could be a sign that, as pandemic-related lockdowns are lifted and concerns over COVID-19 lessen, more people are leaving the county to spend money. Since the pandemic revenue collections in Sevier County have hit record levels. That’s likely due to more people shopping at home and spending their money locally. Although Revels concluded the end of COVID lockdowns would likely lead to more Sevier County residents shopping elsewhere, he stressed how vital spending money locally has been to the county’s economy over the past year – not just for the benefit of the new hospital, but to the benefit of the entire Sevier County economy. In other business, the board voted to approve a lease agreement with Dr. Jon Hoyt for office space to be used by the new CEO until construction of the hospital is completed. Dr. Cole said construction is proceeding on schedule with walls likely to go up within the next two weeks. Finally, Bruce Jackson, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation, said the organization has achieved its 501(c)3 status as a non-profit. He added the foundation is organizing a capital campaign and continues to receive donations for auxiliary projects related to the new hospital. This includes donations for the funds to construct a Safe Haven baby box at the medical center.

St. Barbara to host COVID-19 clinic May 16     5/07/2021

DE QUEEN – St. Barbara Catholic Church and the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy are joining efforts to bring a new COVID-19 vaccination clinic to town this month. The community COVID-19 vaccination clinic has been scheduled for Sunday, May 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic will be set up at St. Barbara Catholic Church at 503 W. De Queen Avenue in downtown De Queen. The vaccine provided at this event will the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Those who receive their first Pfizer dose will receive an appointment for Sunday, June 6 to receive their second shot. The May 16 event will be a walk-in, first-come, first-serve clinic so no registration or appointments are needed. The vaccine will be provided at no cost to anyone, but those with insurance are asked to bring their information as health insurance companies will reimburse providers some costs associated with administering the vaccine. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines currently available, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov or call the Arkansas COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 1-800-985-6030.

Sevier County Chamber sets time, location for cleanup day events    5/07/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is organizing a countywide cleanup event next month in time for the 2021 Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament. Organizers with the chamber will be covering the county from Gillham to Ben Lomond on May 22 to pick up trash in Sevier County. This is being held in preparation for the tourists and fisherman coming for the annual Big Bass Festival. Clean up events have been scheduled throughout the county for that day. Those wanting to lend a hand in De Queen can meet at the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce office on 315 W. Stilwell Avenue in downtown De Queen. In Horatio, organizers will meet at the Horatio Elementary School Cafeteria at 205 Isabel Street in Horatio. The Lockesburg group will meet at the UA Bank of Lockesburg Gym at 248 E. Main Street and, in Gillham, at the Gillham Fire Department at 104 Stancil Lane. Each of these four events will begin at 8 a.m. and continue through 2 p.m. Volunteers who register by May 20 will receive a free t-shirt. To get involved or see how you can help, contact the chamber office at 584-3225 or visit the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce on Facebook. The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will present the always-popular fishing tournament on Saturday, May 29. Typically held each year, the event was postponed and then cancelled last year due to COVID-19. Organizers are scheduling the cleanup day to help pick up litter and make sure the county is looking as good as possible before the May 29 tournament. The Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been held annually with only two interruptions for the past 33 years. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

Future Leopard Football Camp set for July     5/07/2021

DE QUEEN – Registration is now underway for the 2021 Future Leopard Football Camp at De Queen Public Schools. The event has been set for July 26, 27 and 29 at the Leopard Football Stadium each day. Eligible grades are kindergarten through fifth. The camp will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. each night. Cost is $50 and includes a t-shirt. The Future Leopard Football Camp is being organized by the Leopard Football coaching staff and players. Campers will learn and develop the basic skills and fundamentals of football that will assist them as future Leopards football players. Campers will be involved in sessions that include form running, agility and change of direction. All participants will interact with current Leopard football players and coaches to help build the future foundation of the Leopard football program. For more information, visit the De Queen School District’s Facebook page or contact Leopard Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir at (870) 584-4312.

Couple seen in Sevier County, arrested in Oklahoma, now charged with double homicide in Texas     5/06/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Two people seen in Sevier County and arrested in Oklahoma are now facing double homicide charges in Texas. James Henry Elrod, 44, and his 39-year-old wife, Carolyn Lynell Elrod, are accused of murdering two people near Paris, Texas, then stealing a car and attempting to hide out in Sevier and McCurtain Counties. The incident first came to light when Texas authorities asked the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies to assist in locating two people wanted for questioning in a double homicide that occurred last week. According to the sheriff’s office in Lamar County, Texas, deputies were dispatched to a residence in Lamar County regarding a deceased person. Two bodies were found inside the home, a man and woman. The case is being investigated by the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers as a double homicide. Authorities immediately identified the Elrods as persons of interest in the case. Local authorities were notified of the search as investigators believed Elrod had family ties in Sevier and McCurtain Counties and might travel to the area. Last Wednesday the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a witness who reported seeing the couple on Piney Road.   A search began in the area but the Elrods were not located. A known survivalist, authorities warned that Elrod would possibly take to the woods to travel. Both were, however, located later that day by authorities in a camper in Haworth, Okla. Authorities say they were in possession of a vehicle stolen from the victims. Authorities identified the victims as Ronald Hostetler and his girlfriend, Cassie Mullins-Head, both of Lamar County, Texas. Authorities have not suggested a motive or released any additional details on the homicides.

Ashdown man charged with five felonies for alleged sexual abuse of minors    5/06/2021

ASHDOWN – An Ashdown man was formally charged this week with multiple felony counts related to sexual abuse of two underage female family members.
According to court records, 35-year-old Kenneth Dustin Mangrum of Ashdown is facing two counts of rape and three counts of second degree sexual assault following a series of sexual abuse incidents alleged to have occurred between 2019 and 2020. Prosecutors allege the incidents involved two female family members aged 13 and 14. The abuse lasted for around a year, according to the affidavit.
An investigation began in March after a report was made to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline. Charges were formally filed against Mangrum this week.
Mangrum is awaiting his next court appearance in the Little River County Jail. Bail has been set at $150,000.
Will Pickering and family named Sevier County Farm Family of the Year    5/06/2021
DE QUEEN – County families for the 74th annual Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program have been selected. The families will be visited by a set of judges to determine eight district winners, who will be announced June 15. The state Farm Family of the Year will be announced in December at the Farm Family of the Year luncheon in North Little Rock.

Since 1947, the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year Program has served as a vehicle to recognize outstanding farm families throughout the state. The objectives of the Farm Family of the Year program are:

  • To give recognition and encouragement to farm families who are doing an outstanding job on their farm and in their community;
  • To recognize the importance of agriculture in the community and state; and
  • Spread information on improved farm practices and management.

This year’s Sevier County Farm Family of the Year is Will Pickering and family of De Queen. Howard County’s Farm Family of the Year is the Newton Cheatham Family of Mineral Springs The Farm Family of the Year program begins each year with the selection of top farm families in each county and culminates in December with the selection of the state Farm Family of the Year, who then go on to represent Arkansas at the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. All winners are judged on their farm production, efficiency, management, family life and rural/community leadership. Sponsors of the Farm Family of the Year program are Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and the three Farm Credit agencies that serve Arkansas: AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas and Midsouth Farm Credit. We hope to bring you more on the local aspects of this story in the near future. And congratulations to Will Pickering and family, Newton Cheatham and family, and all the other 2021 Arkansas Farm Families of the Year.

Minority Affairs Council completes “Welcome to De Queen” mural    5/06/2021
Submitted by Muriel Wiley of the Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas
A new inclusive local organization has brought a “Welcome to De Queen” mural to Sevier County as their first community project this month. The multi-panel work of art was created by Texarkana-based artist Darlene Taylor and features a splash of colors and characters, along with greetings in Spanish, Choctaw, Marshallese and various other languages. (Photo courtesy of Rosales Photography)

A new inclusive local organization has brought a “Welcome to De Queen” mural to Sevier County as their first community project this month.

The Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas (MAC) launched the effort after a series of vandalisms emerged around the town late last year. To bring the project to life, the group rallied area partners, hired an artist and collaborated with the community to develop a vision for the design. The multi-panel work of art was created by Texarkana-based artist Darlene Taylor and features a splash of colors and characters, along with greetings in Spanish, Choctaw, Marshallese and various other languages. On May 1, a dedication and prayer gathering was held by MAC and open to the community. The painting site is located at the “Storage-N-Lock” building owned by De Queen Schools Librarian Betty Stone on the Eastern edge of town. In addition to covering up graffiti and bringing a new work of art to the city, MAC also wanted to complete the mural project as an example of how residents can take action to create change in their community. After holding open forums in the fall of 2020 and early 2021 to generate interest, MAC formed with the purpose of bringing area residents from different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, genders and socioeconomic status together with a common goal: Unity. The group says it has committed to organizing events and projects that will uplift the underserved and unite the Sevier County Community as a whole. Local partners who helped organize and support the “Welcome to De Queen” mural project include artist funding by SmartPhone EMT De Queen, paint provided by James and Suzanne Babb purchased from Bailey Discount Building Supply, videography by Chris Chandler, fuel sponsorship from MAC members and beverages for the artist sponsored by Jitterbug Java in De Queen. The group expressed tremendous gratitute to all supporters and invites the public out to the next meeting, scheduled for this Friday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the De Queen Sportsplex. An alternate location will be determined in the event of inclement weather. All meetings are open to the public and available on Facebook live. Ideas for the next group project are welcome and can be submitted to DQunity@gmail.com or the “Minority Affairs Council” Facebook page online.

Nearly two dozen DHS seniors receive “Seal of Biliteracy”    5/06/2021

Nearly two dozen De Queen High School seniors received a “Seal of Biliteracy” for demonstrating proficiency in English and one or more other languages by high school graduation. Those students include, from left to right in the front row, Sarah Victoriano, Lizbeth Osura, Kimberly Delgado, America Vega, Angie Hernandez, Karina Montes, Angie Bolanas and Spanish teacher, Jane Moore. In the middle row are Janae Tirado, Marlen Martinez, Diana Ramirez, Maria Trejo, Alexander Tavarez, Alexis Hernandez and Gerardo Monroy. In the back row are Perla Zapata, Guadalupe Olvera, Angelica Hernandez, Felipe Ortiz, Alex Pacheco, Victor Hernandez and Louis Vertiz. Not pictured are Kayla Hernandez and Edith Garcia.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School District is issuing a big congratulations to 23 De Queen High School Spanish 4 students who recently earned the Arkansas Seal of Biliteracy for demonstrating proficiency in English and one or more other languages by high school graduation. These outstanding students are 23 of 456 Arkansas students from around the state who have earned this distinction. The Seal of Biliteracy is now recognized in 42 states and Washington D.C. According to the official website, “the Seal of Biliteracy encourages students to pursue biliteracy, honors the skills students attain, and can be evidence of skills that are attractive to future employers and college admissions offices.” Since the 2017 pilot year in Arkansas, a total of 2,124 students from 62 high schools around the state have attained this certification across 16 languages other than English. For Mrs. Moore’s Spanish 4 students, her students have been participating since the spring of 2019 to earn the Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish and English. To demonstrate proficiency in English, scores from either the ACT Aspire, ACT English, or scores from the ELPA exam are used. These are paired with proficiency scores for other languages. “I want our community to know that just because a student may have some background in speaking Spanish, that does not mean he or she is proficient in the language. There are four proficiency domains in all languages and they are listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Most of my students with some Spanish background have either been born here or moved here as a very young child and have had zero education in Spanish until entering our program in the ninth grade. These students have worked hard to improve in all 4 domains during the four years they have had Spanish. I am also very proud of the fact that our program has also had two non-native speakers (English 1st language learners) also earn the Seal – one in 2019 and another in 2020. We have a very strong program and Mrs. Hendershot (teacher Spanish I and II) and I continue to push ourselves and our students so that as many as possible can achieve proficiency levels.” – Jane Moore, DHS Spanish Teacher.

Straight line winds, but no tornado, causes power outages, fallen trees in Sevier County    5/06/2021

Multiple downed trees line Central Road Tuesday morning following straight line winds from severe storms Monday night. Crews worked tirelessly to clear and reopen affected roads. All roads are again open.

DE QUEEN – Roads in Sevier County are cleared and open again following heavy storms and straight line winds late Monday night. That storm caused trees to fall across much of the southern portion of the county and resulted in power outages for hundreds of residents. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said fallen trees and other storm debris resulted in the closing of around 10 roads on Tuesday. Those included frequently-traveled roads like Central, Melrose and portions of Red Bridge Road. All affected roads are now cleared and reopened to traffic. We received reports of some storm damage to homes ranging from Falls Chapel to Gillham. There were no confirmed reports of a tornado. Straight line winds were behind the damage with the National Weather Service reporting gusts in excess of 70 mph in the region. Storm damage resulted in the loss of power to numerous customers in Sevier County and forced the closure of Horatio Public Schools on Tuesday due to lack of electricity. The district is returning to onsite instruction today. As of 6:30 Wednesday morning, SWEPCO was reporting 37 power outages among its customers in Sevier County. The electric company is reporting less than five customer outages in Little River County. Southwest REA was reporting an additional 67 customers still without power Wednesday morning in Sevier County.

Gov. Hutchinson renews vaccine push, outlines COVID-related legislative acts    5/06/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

State officials are setting a goal to see at least 50 percent of Arkansans partially or fully vaccinated within the next three months.
During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his administration is working with both statewide and local partners to provide more opportunities to get the vaccine. That effort will be coupled with greater outreach to highlight the safety and effectiveness of the available COVID-19 vaccines. State health officials plan to organize pop-up, walk-in vaccine clinics at events throughout the state, from baseball games to local festivals.
Hutchinson said the goal is get as much as the state’s population vaccinated as possible and help bring an end to the pandemic.
Hutchinson then provided an update on several legislative acts in relation to COVID-19. Those include a ban on vaccine passports within Arkansas and a prohibition on local and state facemask ordinances. These two acts effect only local and state authorities.  The third act prohibits state agencies from mandating vaccinations. All three acts will go into effect after 90 days following last week’s legislative recess.
Hutchinson also highlighted the state’s most recent revenue report. That report showed a continued revenue surplus throughout the fiscal year. The report, Hutchinson said, is a sign that the state is recovering from the economic consequences of the pandemic.
The governor said Tuesday’s COVID-19 Taskforce press conference will be the last unless the situation demands weekly updates in the future. Hutchinson said he will continue to broadcast updates each Tuesday but on a broader range of topics than just COVID-19.
Finally, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 296 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to more than 336,000. Active cases rose by 104 to 2,043 across Arkansas. Deaths rose by five over the same period to 5,752 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations rose by 20 to leave 192 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.
Arkansas researchers note rise in anxiety, depression due to food insecurity in midst of pandemic    5/06/2021
Families worried about having enough food during the COVID-19 pandemic are at three times the risk of experiencing anxiety or depression than those that have lost jobs, according to a study by a group of Arkansas agricultural economists.

The results suggest that COVID relief should place more focus on food assistance, researchers said. The group co