Local News Archive

Highway 329 back open after two-car train derailment     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – Highway 329 is back open to traffic after it was shut down Tuesday afternoon when two railway cars derailed near the former Pilgrim’s hatchery east of De Queen. Crews were able to complete the work of clearing the debris and repairing damaged portions of the track yesterday. Damaged sections of track also included the crossings over Smith and Farm-to-Market Roads. Investigators with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office said both train cars were carrying wood chips and posed no hazardous material threat. No one was injured in the derailment.

De Queen man arrested on felony drug charges after raid     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – A De Queen man is in jail after he was arrested on felony drug trafficking charges earlier this week. Andrew Mills, 35, was arrested during the execution of a search warrant by multiple state and local law enforcement agencies at his home on Robinson Loop. Officials with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation began after complaints were received about suspected drug trafficking at the home, located on Robinson Loop and not far from the sheriff’s office and Sevier County Jail. An undercover, controlled purchase was made at the residence. This led to the signing and execution of the search warrant on Mill’s home. According to the sheriff’s office, the search uncovered over four ounces of methamphetamine, a substantial number of Xanex pills, marijuana and drug paraphernalia related to the sale and distribution of controlled substances. Mills was arrested at the home without incident. He is facing charges of possession of methamphetamine with the purpose to deliver as well as drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug premise. Agencies involved in the search warrant and arrest included the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, the Ninth West Judicial Drug Task Force, the De Queen Police Department and the Arkansas State Police.

Canadian company to purchase Domtar in $3 billion deal     5/13/2021

ASHDOWN – A Canadian company has announced it is in the process of purchasing the Domtar Corporation, which includes the Ashdown-based processing facility. The transaction was announced this week Paper Excellence, a Canadian based pulp manufacturer, said it would purchase Domtar’s stock for $55.50 per share. This values the deal at $3 billion. Company officials said they expected the deal to close within the third or fourth quarter of the year. In a company press release, officials with Paper Excellence said Domtar will continue to operate as a separate subsidiary. This includes retaining Domtar’s corporate and manufacturing locations as well as its current corporate leadership. Joe Ragan, global chief financial officer for Paper Excellence, the purchase marks a major step in the company’s global strategy of identifying well-positioned assets and positioning them for growth. Earlier this year Domtar sold off its personal care business for $1 billion. The deal was made, according to company officials, to help the company restructure following a difficult 2020. Last year the Domtar permanently shuttered a processing line at its Ashdown facility, which resulted in the loss of 142 positions.

DHS yearbook program receives national recognition     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School’s yearbook program has achieved a national recognition for excellence. Jostens, the leading producer of yearbooks and student-created content in the United States, announced this week that De Queen High School’s yearbook program has achieved the Jostens 2021 National Yearbook Program of Excellence award at the silver level. The National Yearbook Program of Excellence recognizes engaging yearbooks that reflect a broad representation of the student body while helping students develop 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, and information and communication technologies (ICT) literacy. The De Queen High School award-winning yearbook program is led by 2021 Editors Janae Tirado and Kayla Hernandez, and staff members Bernice Antunez, Bridgette Ortiz, Alexis Hall, Breanna Pole, Axel Lima, Mirella Hernandez, Roxanna Morales, and Aubri Johnson. The yearbook program is under the direction of Kristine Albin, De Queen High School yearbook adviser. Mrs. Albin said the national recognition is just one of many compliments deserved by this group of hardworking students. Through this year’s challenges, educational and personal to each student, Mrs. Albin said each of these talented young adults met every deadline and goal. The program will only be losing two yearbook members for the 2022 publication, so she have no doubt those who remain and those who will be taking over key roles in the program, will make next year’s book just as special for all readers. Jostens’ National Yearbook Program of Excellence Awards are presented twice a year, in spring and in fall based on the yearbook’s arrival date at the school. The award was presented to the De Queen High School yearbook program for achieving defined criteria over several categories: creating an inclusive yearbook, generating school engagement, and successfully managing the yearbook creation process.

All Arkansans 12 and up now eligible for COVID vaccine; clinics upcoming in DQ     5/13/2021

All Arkansans aged 12 and up are now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement was made yesterday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly update. The FDA provided emergency authorization this week to administer the vaccine to teens aged 12 to 15. Previously the vaccine was available to people 16 and up. Hutchinson said this move is a step towards helping Arkansas reach its goal of having at least 50 percent of the state vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of July. Health officials across the nation added that the FDA’s emergency authorization is also good news for parents who remain worried about sending their children to in-person classes at their schools. Arkansans seeking information about COVID-19 vaccines, and where to receive one, can call the Arkansas Department of Health’s hotline at 1-800-985-6030. As of Tuesday, more than 800,000 Arkansans have been fully vaccinated, or around 30 percent of the state’s population. Several COVID-19 vaccine clinics are either underway today or planned for this weekend. That includes a walk-in clinic at the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. No appointment is needed for this walk-in clinic. The vaccine can also be received from 2-5 p.m. today at the pharmacy. However, an appointment must be set up to receive the vaccine during this time period. St. Barbara Catholic Church and the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy are joining efforts to bring a new COVID-19 vaccination clinic to town this month. The community COVID-19 vaccination clinic has been scheduled for Sunday, May 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic will be set up at St. Barbara Catholic Church at 503 W. De Queen Avenue in downtown De Queen. The vaccine provided at this event will the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Those who receive their first Pfizer dose will receive an appointment for Sunday, June 6 to receive their second shot. The May 16 event will be a walk-in, first-come, first-serve clinic so no registration or appointments are needed.

Crystal Hill Decoration Days scheduled     5/13/2021

WICKES – The annual Crystal Hill Decoration at Wickes, traditionally held the fourth Sunday in May, will resume this year on May 23 with service at 11 a.m. A potluck will be held at noon with singing in the afternoon. Everyone is urged to follow Covid precautionary guidelines. Work days include this Saturday, May 15 as well as Saturday, May 22, or whenever your schedule permits. Donations for upkeep to the buildings and cemetery grounds are appreciated and may be mailed to Sue Sullivan, 305 N. 6th St., DeQueen, AR 71832. For more information, contact any board member including Dale or Jeannie White, Thomas Jenkins, Byron Sullivan or Larry Wilcher. You can also call (870) 784-3109.

De Queen School Board accepts resignations, new hires     5/13/2021

DE QUEEN – This week’s meeting of the De Queen School Board included a number of resignations as well as new hires for the upcoming school year. Members of the school board accepted several resignations, including High School Teacher Kristine Albin, Tech specialist Johntavious Baker, Junior High Special Education Teacher Sara Bingham, Junior High Teacher and Coach David Smith, Leopard Band Director Chris Richard and Elementary Instructor Diana Nemlowill. New hires include Eric Perez as a middle school teacher and coach, Erin Johnson as a primary teacher, Lacey Young as an elementary teacher, Gabriela Balderas as a middle school counselor, Cameron Glasgow as an elementary teacher, Nita Campbell for literacy instruction, Angela Dunn as an interventionist and Daniel Dunn as Leopard Band Director. The board also upheld two district-recommended student expulsions due to violations of the district’s behavioral policies.

Arkansans will need permit to keep some wild species     5/13/2021

Arkansans who have not updated or obtained their permits for owning, breeding or dealing certain captive wildlife species have until July 1 to submit their application. This includes any first-time permittees who may not have all the proper documentation usually required to obtain these permits. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is working with these customers to get them into compliance. Additionally, owners of venomous reptiles also must submit an application for a new Venomous Reptile Permit no later than July 1. As a general rule, non-domesticated wildlife species do not make good pets, but just about every Arkansan knows of someone that may have had a pet raccoon, squirrel, opossum or other non-traditional pet at one time. For these reasons and many others, all non-domestic animal species are classified as wildlife in Arkansas, whether they are native or exotic, free-ranging or captive-born. Many non-traditional pet species fall within this category of wildlife, which places responsibility for their oversight with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. During the last  two years, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission staff have evaluated and updated many regulations concerning the possession, breeding and sale of non-domestic pets. Captive wildlife species in Arkansas fall under one of three categories, based on their potential risk to human health and the health of native wildlife: unrestricted, permitted and prohibited species. Complete and up-to-date species lists are available at www.agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/captive-wildlife/species-lists. As part of the new regulations, the AGFC is allowing those Arkansans who wish to possess, breed or sell certain wildlife to apply for required permits even if they do not have all the proper documentation normally required. The new Venomous Reptile Permit also is an effort to allow owners of medically significant venomous reptiles to continue to own their pets while again protecting the interest of the general public. Applications, fact sheets and species lists concerning captive wildlife are available at www.agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/captive-wildlife.

Portion of Hwy 329 closed following two-car derailment Tuesday afternoon     5/12/2021

Hwy 329 remains closed to traffic after two freight cars derailed east of De Queen by the former hatchery earlier this afternoon. No one was injured. Work to clear and repair the tracks continues on Hwy 329 as well as Farm to Market Road. Smith Road has reopened to traffic. Drivers are asked to find alternative routes at this time.

DE QUEEN – A portion of Highway 329 remains closed to traffic after two railway cars derailed Tuesday afternoon. The derailment occurred near the former Pilgrim’s hatchery east of De Queen on Highway 329. The highway remains closed until crews can complete the work of clearing the debris and repairing damaged portions of the track. Damaged sections of track included the crossings over Smith and Farm-to-Market Roads. Investigators with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office said both train cars were carrying wood chips and posed no hazardous material threat. No one was injured in the derailment. Emergency responders and railroad crews worked through the afternoon, evening and night to clear the derailed cars and repair the affected tracks.

Horatio schools out today due to water issues     5/12/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Public Schools has closed its campuses today due to a water issue affecting not just the school but most Horatio water customers at this time. Today will be a digital day for Horatio students, which means teachers and students will be teaching and learning remotely from home. Plans are to return to school again on Thursday. In an email, Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the district realizes some students will not have their iPads with them Wednesday due to the short notice of the closure. He said teachers will provide extended time for certain assignments. Students are advised to watch for any communications from their teachers. Officials with the City of Horatio announced water will be shut off to all municipal water customers Wednesday morning to perform repairs to a damaged waterline. Officials said they were unsure how long the shutoff would last.

Broadband program to help Arkansans cover costs of internet, computers     5/12/2021

The Arkansas Department of Commerce announced on Tuesday, May 11, a new program to increase broadband service for eligible households during the pandemic. The temporary benefit named the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that will lower the cost of broadband services. The $3.2 billion EBB program provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households or qualifying Tribal lands. The program also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider. A household is eligible if one member of the household meets certain criteria. That includes an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program. -In addition, eligible applicants include those who receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year; -Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; -Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or – Or meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program. For more information, including application information, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov

DHS grad ceremony set for May 17; DQTV announces sports and scholarship banquet video releases     5/12/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools is wrapping up the 2020-2021 school year and seniors are counting down the days to graduation. Unlike last spring, DHS Seniors will not have to wait until August to receive their diplomas, although graduation ceremonies will once again be held in Leopard Arena and be divided into three sessions. The 2021 DHS Commencements will be this coming Monday, May 17 at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Due to limited seating capacity and social distancing requirements, each graduate will receive ten tickets to give to friends and family. The annual DHS Scholarship Banquet will once again be held virtually. With the help of the students at DQTV, scholarship presenters have recorded their presentations to the DHS graduates. The presentations have been combined to create the 2021 DHS Virtual Scholarship Banquet and will be released this Friday, May 14 on the DQTV Youtube channel. The annual Leopard All Sports Banquet has also moved to a virtual format for the 2021 school year. The DQTV students produced an awards show for each Leopard athletic team and are being released on the DQTV Youtube channel. The awards shows for the fall sports were released in April and the shows for Spring sports are being released this week. You can these and other student-produced videos at the DQTV Youtube channel.

Tax assessment deadline is May 31     5/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Assessor Sheila Ridley and her office are reminding everyone that personal taxes must be assessed by May 31st to avoid a penalty as provided by law. A 10 percent penalty will be applied if you assess your taxable property after the May 31 deadline. When you assess your taxes all changes in real estate structures must be reported. Be sure and apply for Amendment 79, the homestead credit, if you haven’t already. You do not need to reapply for this credit each year. If you are 65 years of age or older you can receive a property tax value freeze. You can call (870) 584-3182 to assess personal property or come by 115 N. Thrid Street, Suite 117 at the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. You can also email scassessor@windstream.net

Arkansans aged 12 and up now eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine     5/12/2021

All Arkansans aged 12 and up are now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The announcement was made yesterday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly update. The FDA provided emergency authorization this week to administer the vaccine to teens aged 12 to 15. Previously the vaccine was available to people 16 and up. Hutchinson said this move is a step towards helping Arkansas reach its goal of having at least 50 percent of the state vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of July.
Health officials across the nation added that the FDA’s emergency authorization is also good news for parents who remain worried about sending their children to in-person classes at their schools.
Arkansans seeking information about COVID-19 vaccines, and where to receive one, can call the Arkansas Department of Health’s hotline at 1-800-985-6030. As of Tuesday, more than 800,000 Arkansans have been fully vaccinated, or around 30 percent of the state’s population.
Hutchinson also announced the creation of a committee to manage the more than $1.5 billion received by Arkansas through federal COVID-19 relief funding. That funding is slated to go to Arkansas schools, municipalities and the Department of Human Services. The committee is set up to decide how receiving entities can use those funds. Hutchinson said the committee will partner with Arkansas communities, the private sector and non-profits in the decision-making process.
The Arkansas Department of Health reported 233 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to just under 338,000 transmissions since the pandemic first entered Arkansas. Active cases fell by 10 to 2,043 across Arkansas. Deaths increased by six to 5,770 since last spring. Hospitalizations saw no increase or decrease, leaving 169 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Arkansas Lottery warns to scam emails     5/12/2021

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is alerting players to an email scam that is circulating in the state. A fake email entitled “Congratulations From Arkansas Mega Millions” is being sent to Arkansas players telling them to claim a prize by clicking on a link. Anyone who receives the fake email should not click the link and delete the email immediately. If a player wins Mega Millions or any other lottery game, they must have purchased a ticket and then must claim their prize at the ASL Claim Center in Little Rock. The only time lottery representatives might be contacting players is to notify them that they have won a Second-Chance Promotion or a Play It Again® drawing through The Club. Otherwise players must come forward to claim their prize. Lotteries of foreign countries are illegal in the United States. If you have been contacted by a lottery claiming to be affiliated with the government of another country, it is a scam. If you think you have been a victim of fraud or attempted fraud by someone posing as a representative of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, please report it to the Arkansas Lottery Security hotline at 1-888-606-6292 and/or the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at 1-800-482-8982.

Last night’s storm leaves over 100 without power in Sevier, Little River     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Over a hundred homes and businesses were without power in Sevier and Little River County Tuesday morning following another round of storms last night. SWEPCO is reporting most of those outages are between Horatio and Foreman. Power is expected to be restored around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. Southwest REA is not reporting any area power outages at this time. More rain and thunderstorms are expected today in what has become a very wet and stormy spring for Southwest Arkansas. Chances for heavy rain are 100 percent today, according to the National Weather Service. Chances drop off a little this evening and into Wednesday before some much welcomed sunny skies return later this week. No weather watches or warnings are currently in effect for the listening area. The National Weather Service has however issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Sevier, Howard, Little River and McCurtain Counties. The outlook states periods of moderate to heavy rainfall will once again be possible throughout today and tonight and may result in some localized flash flooding. Some of today’s storms may be strong to severe as well, with high winds and hail being the primary threats.

State places pause on use of COVID relief funds provided to schools     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Officials with the De Queen School District said a hold has been put on a number of planned projects that will be funded through federal COVID-19 relief money. The district has received over $10 million in federal funding through the three COVID-19 relief bills passed in 2020 and 2021. The district had plans for much of the $7.3 million provided in the most recent relief bill but now those projects have been paused – not just in De Queen, but across the state. De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the pause is a reflection of the state’s hope that the federal aid is spent wisely and in the best interest of Arkansas students. District officials hoped to use the federal aid to focus on direct student support, such as tutoring, additional technology and programs to help students catch up after a school year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. The money would also be used to hire additional cleaning staff as well as provide new curriculum and professional development opportunities for teachers. One of the big goals is to implement programs to prevent learning loss, particularly among students who chose De Queen’s virtual learning option. Sanders stressed none of the planned projects are cancelled. Rather, they are just waiting final state approval before work can actually start. Sanders said some federally-funded projects are already approved and not subject to the new pause. That includes over a million dollars in HVAC improvement projects to various De Queen school campuses. In addition, the extra end-of-year compensation for teachers and school staff approved by the school board last month will remain in place. District officials stressed the need to compensate teachers and staff given the challenges to education posed over this past school year. During last night’s school board meeting Sanders also stated the district will receive a lower level of federal funding next school year through the National School Lunch Act (NSLA). This is a result of fewer free and reduced lunch forms turned in by parents of De Queen students during the 2020-2021 school year. The reduced funding amounts to around $160,000. School officials anticipated the reduction given the number of students who chose the district’s virtual learning option and likely felt little motivation to fill out those forms. That, and the fact school meals were provided for free to all Arkansas students over the past school year. Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton then provided an update on facilities and construction projects around the district. He said new bleachers will arrive for Leopard Stadium next month with work to be completed by Aug. 1. Work on installing Astroturf at the stadium is set to begin in just a couple of weeks. The new Astroturf field is expected to be completed before the next school year. Finally, district officials and school board members said their farewells to Gloria Caldwell. Caldwell has been a member of the school board since 2009. She said her decision to step down came as a result of no longer having children attending De Queen schools. Caldwell added she believes her position on the school board should be open to a new member who does. Nonetheless, Caldwell said she’s greatly enjoyed her time on the board and hopes she helped shape a better school district for De Queen students. The school board voiced its support of appointing Tony Soto to Caldwell’s position at its June meeting.

Sevier County Quorum Court tables talk of chicken house regulations, welcomes newly-appointed justice of the peace     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court again declined to discuss or take any action on regulating where poultry houses can be built within the unincorporated areas of the county. The discussion was placed on yesterday’s meeting agenda. It was expected someone would be present at the meeting to speak in support of regulating poultry house construction. However, no one showed up to advance that issue and the quorum court quickly and without further discussion tabled that issue indefinitely. The quorum court’s decision to table the issue affirms a similar decision it made last year. At that meeting justices of the peace declined not to weigh in on a private dispute involving a landowner’s plan to build a number of poultry houses near the De Queen Country Club. The quorum court choose not to take any action in that dispute and deemed it a private, civil matter. Yesterday, Sevier County Judge Greg Ray and justices of the peace said their stance had not changed. No regulations were discussed and officials said further disputes involving this issue should remain civil matters. In other business, Dr. Steve Cole, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, introduced the hospital’s new CEO, Lori House. House was officially named the new CEO last week and will take over the position starting June 1. After introducing herself House spoke about a community health needs assessment that will be conducted soon to ensure the new hospital is tailored to the health needs specific to Sevier County and the surrounding area. Given the history of failed hospital administration in De Queen, House spoke the new medical center will bring transparency and accountability to the community to ensure its success into the future. House also told the quorum court she plans to soon seek out a chief financial officer and director of nursing for the new hospital. The process will begin this fall and winter to start filling the more than 100 new full-time jobs that will be created by the hospital once it opens next year. The quorum court then heard a presentation from Dr. Jason Lofton, who is leading an initiative to build hiking and mountain bike trails at De Queen Lake. He asked the county to consider assisting in this project by seeking out a Transportation Alternative Program Grant through the state. If attained, this matching grant would provide 80 percent of funding with the county to cover the remaining 20 percent. Lofton estimates it will cost around $357,000 to complete the trails at De Queen Lake. The county’s 20 percent match would total around $70,000. The quorum court voiced its support of the project. The quorum court’s budget committee will meet next week to determine how much could be provided as a match to the trail grant. Their decision will be announced later this month before the June 1 deadline to apply for the grant. Lofton stressed the economic and health benefits for Sevier County through an extensive and well-constructed system of trails. Lofton will join us on the Morning Brew Wednesday morning around 7:15 to discuss the project and its future plans. Finally, Monday’s meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court included a new justice of the peace recently appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Evelyn Keels was that appointee and will carry on the duties of the District 2 seat on the quorum court until the next election, when she must step down. Keels is continuing the term held by her husband, the late Charles Keels. Charles Keels was a long-serving quorum court member who passed away last year. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said it was extremely fitting to see Charles’ term completed by his wife, Evelyn.

AHS Senior Brayden receives Award for Musical Excellence     5/11/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School Senior Brayden Porter has received the Governor’s Award for Musical Excellence. The distinction is awarded each year to high school seniors in Arkansas. Each school may nominate a single student based on musical ability, musical accomplishments, leadership, teamwork, and service to a band program.  Each student selected for this honor receives a medal to be worn at graduation. Brayden has been a part of the award-winning Ashdown Band Program for seven years. While at AHS, Brayden was also involved in the National Honor Society and Beta Club. Brayden plans to join the Marine Corps Reserves following graduation.

COVID active cases remain at single-digit levels in Southwest Arkansas     5/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases in Sevier County are remaining at the lowest levels since the virus first entered Arkansas, with just two currently confirmed active cases in the county. In terms of cumulative cases, the Arkansas Department of Health reports a total of 2,789 people in Sevier County caught COVID-19 at some point over the past year. 24 county residents have died according to the Department of Health. Deaths have not risen in Sevier County in nearly two months. In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting six active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,241 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42. Howard County is reporting three active cases at this time. Total cases were unchanged at 1,655 and deaths at 25. Active cases in Polk County currently number six. Total cases rose slightly over the weekend to 1,990. Deaths remain at 72. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 76 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Monday for a cumulative total of over 337,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 79 to 2,053 currently. Three deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,764 since last spring. Currently 169 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Oklahoma man dies in Ashdown collision     5/10/2021

ASHDOWN – An Oklahoma man was killed in an accident in Little River County over the weekend. According to the Arkansas State Police, 55-year-old Lawrence Box of Valliant, Okla., died Saturday after receiving injuries from a two-vehicle accident on Highway 32 East in Ashdown. The accident occurred around 9 a.m. According to the preliminary Arkansas State Police report, Box was a passenger in a 2014 Honda CRV when the minor-aged driver attempted to make a left-hand turn onto the highway and was struck by a westbound 2015 Peterbilt semi-truck. Box was taken to Little River Memorial Hospital in Ashdown where he died from his injuries. The minor-driver and another minor, both females, were injured. They were taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. They were not identified in the report. The driver of the Peterbilt was not injured. The investigating state trooper reported weather conditions as clear and the road as dry.

Arkansas legislature passed a raft of travel-related acts in 2021     5/10/2021

From when you can drive in the left lane to regulating autonomous cars, the last session of the Arkansas Legislature made several changes to laws regarding the state’s roadways. That includes Act 1090, which states a vehicle shall not be driven on the left lane of a multilane highway, except: -When overtaking and passing another vehicle; when all other lanes for traveling in the same direction are closed to traffic while under construction or repair or if the right lane is otherwise in disrepair or in an unsafe condition; or, finally, when a vehicle is preparing to exit the multilane highway on the left. Act 264 amends the law concerning the unlawful passing of a school bus. It states drivers must come to a complete stop no less than 30 feet from the bus when it stops to load or unload passengers. This 30 feet perimeter would apply to public roads, private or public property open to the general public, and any driveway or parking lot belonging to a public school. Act 1061 states that a person commits the crime of felony racing on a public highway if he or she is drag racing on a public highway and impedes or stops the flow of traffic. This also includes gatherings of 10 or more individuals engaging in the same behavior. Felony racing on a public highway is now a Class D felony. Act 558 makes leaving the scene of an accident with injuries a Class D felony. However, if there are serious physical injuries or death, the offender would be charged with a Class B felony. Other transportation legislation passed this year include Act 504. This legislation removes licensing requirements for a motor vehicle salesperson and a recreational vehicle salesperson. This bill also creates the Automotive Technologist Education Grant Program. The Division of Career and Technical Education may then award grants for training in automotive repair and technology. Act 160 states that if a driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle is convicted of using the commercial motor vehicle in the commission of a felony involving human trafficking, the driver shall be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life. Another act amends the additional fees required to register a hybrid vehicle. The new fees for hybrid vehicles will be reduced from $100 to $50 starting January 1, 2022. Fees for electric vehicles will be $200, and the fees for a plug-in hybrid elective vehicle will be $100. Act 1067 requires that a person operating a bicycle upon a crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian. Act 926-This bill allows the operation of a personal delivery device in pedestrian areas and certain streets. Another bill would give Arkansans up to 24 months to take the driving portion of a driver’s test after passing the written portion of the exam. Currently, Arkansans are only given 12 months before they have to re-take the written exam. Finally, Act 784 states the maximum fine that can be imposed for a seat belt violation is $45.

DQ native’s family, persistence celebrated during ATU grad ceremony     5/10/2021

Courtesy of Arkansas Tech University

As Rosalma Martinez stood on a sidewalk in front of Crabaugh Hall awaiting her graduation from Arkansas Tech University on Friday, May 7, her thoughts were with the two people who chased the American dream and made it attainable for her. “Without them, it wouldn’t be possible,” said Martinez. “My grandparents are immigrants from Mexico. This past year, my grandpa had dialysis and a kidney transplant, so after all that we didn’t think he would be here for my graduation. It’s a milestone. It’s for my grandparents. It’s important to all of us because I am the first one in my family to graduate from college. It’s surreal. I never thought this day would come. It still doesn’t feel real that I’m here right now.” Martinez received a Bachelor of Science degree in information technology. ATU conferred approximately 1,750 credentials during a series of commencement ceremonies Thursday through Saturday at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field and Tucker Coliseum. A native of De Queen, Martinez first enrolled at Arkansas Tech in 2015. She completed her degree in spring 2020, but her opportunity to walk in a commencement ceremony was delayed 12 months by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “I have gained a lot of empathy for others,” said Martinez when asked how the pandemic changed her. “It has really shown how much we have to come together and work together in order to have a thriving community.” The pandemic was the focus of ATU President Dr. Robin E. Bowen’s commencement remarks, which included a moment of silence in memory of Charisma Khilling. An ATU senior from Booneville, Khilling died March 21, 2021, from COVID-19 complications. “Through all the pain and sorrow of the past 14 months, here we are,” said Bowen. “Each of us in attendance today has been spared from the scourge of COVID-19. I believe we have a responsibility…for Charisma and the 3 million others no longer with us on this planet…to each do our small part to make the post-pandemic world a kinder, gentler place. A place where we choose love over hate, unity over division and peace over strife. “As graduates of the Class of 2021, you represent the determination that got us through the pandemic and the belief that we can emerge from this dark time stronger than before,” continued Bowen. “Take the skills and talents you have honed at Arkansas Tech and do great things for yourself and your family. You are prepared to help fuel the post-pandemic economic recovery of our state and our nation. But while you are pursuing your personal aspirations, please always, always remember the most important lesson of the COVID-19 pandemic: we are all in this together.” Martinez has gained employment as a technical support analyst for Dillard’s. Her long-term career aspiration is to become a web developer. As she goes forth to pursue that and other goals made possible by those who came before her, perhaps the greatest lesson Martinez took from her ATU experience was to value and appreciate every day. “I’ll remember simple things like going to Baswell Techionery,” said Martinez. “I feel like I took it for granted and didn’t realize how quickly it would go. I tried to appreciate every moment I had here at Tech.”

Cattlemen’s Association hosting Field Day in Horatio this Saturday     5/10/2021

HORATIO – The Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association will host a Field Day this Saturday, May 15 and organizers invite everyone to this learning event. The field day will include a tour of a new processing facility, Prime Country Meats in Horatio. Educational topics include Preg Check using blood samples, heifer selection for successful reproduction, weed control and other topics of interest to cattle producers. The day begins at 10 a.m. at one of the working pens at Al and Vicky Wright’s Mill Creek Ranch located behind the Hendrix Baseball Field in Horatio. Lunch will be served at Prime Country Meats and more educational sessions will be held at Morris Ranch on Twin Bridges Road near Horatio. The field day is being arranged by Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association. For more information, call (870) 584-8809.

Early voting for school board elections begins tomorrow     5/10/2021

Early voting begins tomorrow for area school board elections. Positions on several area school boards were up for election this year. In the Horatio School District, that included Zone 4 held by Sherri Hodges and Zone 1 held by Joe Jones. Neither are facing challengers in this year’s election. On the De Queen School Board, Zone 3 will go unoccupied. Incumbent Gloria Caldwell did not seek reelection. The seat will remain open unless a director is appointed to the board. In Dierks Kenneth “Trey” Walt Eckert III is running unopposed for a director position on the Dierks School Board. The only school board race is for Zone F in the Ashdown School District between incumbent Glenda Smedley and challenger Stephanie Ringgold. A poll will be open in Ben Lomond on election day for residents of Sevier County who live within the Ashdown School District’s boundaries. This poll will be located in the Ben Lomond Community Building from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 18, election day. All area school districts are maintaining their current millage rate. That includes 44 mills in Horatio, 32.2 in De Queen, 44 in Cossatot River School District, 35.7 in Ashdown, 34 in Mineral Springs and 43 in Dierks. The Sevier County Courthouse will be the sole polling location for Sevier County voters living within the Horatio and De Queen School Districts. Early voting will be conducted at the county clerk’s office beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 11 and continuing through 5 p.m. on Monday, May 17. Election day is May 18.

May/June Arkansas Wildlife magazine focuses on Arkansas Water Trails     5/10/2021

Spring is the most popular season to paddle Arkansas’s rivers, bayous and lakes. That’s why the May/June issue of Arkansas Wildlife magazine includes a comprehensive guide to Arkansas Water Trails. Water trails combine the relaxation of time on the water with the excitement of fishing and viewing wildlife.It’s also a little easier to see wildlife up-close from a canoe, as many species rarely see any threats coming from the water. Arkansas has established 14 water trails across the state – from Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, a few miles from Louisiana, to Crooked Creek, not far from Missouri. Although none of these water trails are in Southwest Arkansas, they are well worth the drive. But if staying local is preferred, the Cossatot River, Rolling Fork River and numerous area lakes all provide scenic and exciting times on the water. The May/June issue of Arkansas Wildlife is available at www.arkansaswildlife.com or calling 800-283-2664.

“Docs Talking Stock” shares latest in animal science issues with Arkansans     5/10/2021

Animal science specialists with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have a new monthly video series — “Docs Talkin’ Stock” — to share recommendations and updates on animal issues important to Arkansas producers. The series, which debuted this month, is hosted by faculty from the Animal Science department at the Cooperative Extension Service. Chelsey Kimbrough, extension specialty livestock/youth education specialist for the Division of Agriculture, moderates the program. The first episode features Shane Gadberry, extension ruminant nutrition specialist for the Division of Agriculture, discussing beef cattle nutrition, reproduction and current research at the UA Livestock and Forestry Research Station in Batesville. That episode and future ones can be viewed at the UAEX Facebook page. https://fb.watch/52CKGBV7pU/. New episodes will be posted on the first Monday of each month and can be viewed on the UAEX Animal Science Facebook page and on the UAEX Animal Science YouTube. Dr. Mark Russell, associate professor of equine science, was this month’s guest. Extension’s animal science faculty provide research-based information to those working in the animal agriculture sector, which includes production and processing of poultry, eggs, beef and dairy products, sheep, goats, swine and other animals. Specialists will also offer recommendations for managing pastures and forages, which cover more than 6 million acres in Arkansas.

Sevier County Medical Center announces CEO pick     5/07/2021

The full audio story is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below:

Lori House poses with Dr. Steve Cole, pictured left, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, and Bruce Jackson, chair of the Medical Center Foundation. House was introduced Thursday as the hospital’s new and first CEO.
An Arkansas native, House currently serves as Director of Revenue Cycle for Healthy Connections in Mena and will move to Sevier County to take the CEO position starting June 1.
In an interview House shared her vision for an inclusive hospital with a focus on the health outcomes specific to Sevier County and the surrounding area. She also discussed her excitement to head the new hospital and direct its operations into the future. The hospital is set to open up in spring of 2022.

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Medical Center has its new, and first, chief executive officer. The Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors met yesterday in part to introduce Lori House. House has been selected to head the new hospital starting June 1. An Arkansas native, House currently serves as Director of Revenue Cycle at Healthy Connections in Mena with 18 years of experience in medical administration. House was chosen out of more than a dozen applicants for the CEO/Administrator position. Board chair Dr. Steve Cole said, given the history of administration at the former De Queen Hospital, the medical center board of governors entered the hiring process with the highest of standards and expectations. At yesterday’s meeting, Cole said House fits those qualities the board sought for in the CEO position. As CEO House will be responsible for the day-to-day administrative duties as construction proceeds on the new hospital and once it opens next spring. In an interview following yesterday’s meeting, House discussed her vision for healthcare and the new hospital in specific. In other business, board treasurer Greg Revels provided the hospital’s financial update. He said the hospital currently possesses over $1.7 million in sales tax collections. Those funds, the board has previously stated, will be used as a “war chest” to help fund the hospital in the vital year before it is eligible to become a critical access hospital and thereby receive additional Medicare reimbursement. Revels, however, said April’s sales tax collections were the lowest since collections began last year. He said that could be a sign that, as pandemic-related lockdowns are lifted and concerns over COVID-19 lessen, more people are leaving the county to spend money. Since the pandemic revenue collections in Sevier County have hit record levels. That’s likely due to more people shopping at home and spending their money locally. Although Revels concluded the end of COVID lockdowns would likely lead to more Sevier County residents shopping elsewhere, he stressed how vital spending money locally has been to the county’s economy over the past year – not just for the benefit of the new hospital, but to the benefit of the entire Sevier County economy. In other business, the board voted to approve a lease agreement with Dr. Jon Hoyt for office space to be used by the new CEO until construction of the hospital is completed. Dr. Cole said construction is proceeding on schedule with walls likely to go up within the next two weeks. Finally, Bruce Jackson, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation, said the organization has achieved its 501(c)3 status as a non-profit. He added the foundation is organizing a capital campaign and continues to receive donations for auxiliary projects related to the new hospital. This includes donations for the funds to construct a Safe Haven baby box at the medical center.

St. Barbara to host COVID-19 clinic May 16     5/07/2021

DE QUEEN – St. Barbara Catholic Church and the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy are joining efforts to bring a new COVID-19 vaccination clinic to town this month. The community COVID-19 vaccination clinic has been scheduled for Sunday, May 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic will be set up at St. Barbara Catholic Church at 503 W. De Queen Avenue in downtown De Queen. The vaccine provided at this event will the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Those who receive their first Pfizer dose will receive an appointment for Sunday, June 6 to receive their second shot. The May 16 event will be a walk-in, first-come, first-serve clinic so no registration or appointments are needed. The vaccine will be provided at no cost to anyone, but those with insurance are asked to bring their information as health insurance companies will reimburse providers some costs associated with administering the vaccine. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines currently available, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov or call the Arkansas COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 1-800-985-6030.

Sevier County Chamber sets time, location for cleanup day events    5/07/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is organizing a countywide cleanup event next month in time for the 2021 Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament. Organizers with the chamber will be covering the county from Gillham to Ben Lomond on May 22 to pick up trash in Sevier County. This is being held in preparation for the tourists and fisherman coming for the annual Big Bass Festival. Clean up events have been scheduled throughout the county for that day. Those wanting to lend a hand in De Queen can meet at the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce office on 315 W. Stilwell Avenue in downtown De Queen. In Horatio, organizers will meet at the Horatio Elementary School Cafeteria at 205 Isabel Street in Horatio. The Lockesburg group will meet at the UA Bank of Lockesburg Gym at 248 E. Main Street and, in Gillham, at the Gillham Fire Department at 104 Stancil Lane. Each of these four events will begin at 8 a.m. and continue through 2 p.m. Volunteers who register by May 20 will receive a free t-shirt. To get involved or see how you can help, contact the chamber office at 584-3225 or visit the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce on Facebook. The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will present the always-popular fishing tournament on Saturday, May 29. Typically held each year, the event was postponed and then cancelled last year due to COVID-19. Organizers are scheduling the cleanup day to help pick up litter and make sure the county is looking as good as possible before the May 29 tournament. The Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been held annually with only two interruptions for the past 33 years. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

Future Leopard Football Camp set for July     5/07/2021

DE QUEEN – Registration is now underway for the 2021 Future Leopard Football Camp at De Queen Public Schools. The event has been set for July 26, 27 and 29 at the Leopard Football Stadium each day. Eligible grades are kindergarten through fifth. The camp will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. each night. Cost is $50 and includes a t-shirt. The Future Leopard Football Camp is being organized by the Leopard Football coaching staff and players. Campers will learn and develop the basic skills and fundamentals of football that will assist them as future Leopards football players. Campers will be involved in sessions that include form running, agility and change of direction. All participants will interact with current Leopard football players and coaches to help build the future foundation of the Leopard football program. For more information, visit the De Queen School District’s Facebook page or contact Leopard Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir at (870) 584-4312.

Couple seen in Sevier County, arrested in Oklahoma, now charged with double homicide in Texas     5/06/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Two people seen in Sevier County and arrested in Oklahoma are now facing double homicide charges in Texas. James Henry Elrod, 44, and his 39-year-old wife, Carolyn Lynell Elrod, are accused of murdering two people near Paris, Texas, then stealing a car and attempting to hide out in Sevier and McCurtain Counties. The incident first came to light when Texas authorities asked the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies to assist in locating two people wanted for questioning in a double homicide that occurred last week. According to the sheriff’s office in Lamar County, Texas, deputies were dispatched to a residence in Lamar County regarding a deceased person. Two bodies were found inside the home, a man and woman. The case is being investigated by the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers as a double homicide. Authorities immediately identified the Elrods as persons of interest in the case. Local authorities were notified of the search as investigators believed Elrod had family ties in Sevier and McCurtain Counties and might travel to the area. Last Wednesday the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a witness who reported seeing the couple on Piney Road.   A search began in the area but the Elrods were not located. A known survivalist, authorities warned that Elrod would possibly take to the woods to travel. Both were, however, located later that day by authorities in a camper in Haworth, Okla. Authorities say they were in possession of a vehicle stolen from the victims. Authorities identified the victims as Ronald Hostetler and his girlfriend, Cassie Mullins-Head, both of Lamar County, Texas. Authorities have not suggested a motive or released any additional details on the homicides.

Ashdown man charged with five felonies for alleged sexual abuse of minors    5/06/2021

ASHDOWN – An Ashdown man was formally charged this week with multiple felony counts related to sexual abuse of two underage female family members.
According to court records, 35-year-old Kenneth Dustin Mangrum of Ashdown is facing two counts of rape and three counts of second degree sexual assault following a series of sexual abuse incidents alleged to have occurred between 2019 and 2020. Prosecutors allege the incidents involved two female family members aged 13 and 14. The abuse lasted for around a year, according to the affidavit.
An investigation began in March after a report was made to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline. Charges were formally filed against Mangrum this week.
Mangrum is awaiting his next court appearance in the Little River County Jail. Bail has been set at $150,000.
Will Pickering and family named Sevier County Farm Family of the Year    5/06/2021
DE QUEEN – County families for the 74th annual Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program have been selected. The families will be visited by a set of judges to determine eight district winners, who will be announced June 15. The state Farm Family of the Year will be announced in December at the Farm Family of the Year luncheon in North Little Rock.

Since 1947, the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year Program has served as a vehicle to recognize outstanding farm families throughout the state. The objectives of the Farm Family of the Year program are:

  • To give recognition and encouragement to farm families who are doing an outstanding job on their farm and in their community;
  • To recognize the importance of agriculture in the community and state; and
  • Spread information on improved farm practices and management.

This year’s Sevier County Farm Family of the Year is Will Pickering and family of De Queen. Howard County’s Farm Family of the Year is the Newton Cheatham Family of Mineral Springs The Farm Family of the Year program begins each year with the selection of top farm families in each county and culminates in December with the selection of the state Farm Family of the Year, who then go on to represent Arkansas at the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. All winners are judged on their farm production, efficiency, management, family life and rural/community leadership. Sponsors of the Farm Family of the Year program are Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and the three Farm Credit agencies that serve Arkansas: AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas and Midsouth Farm Credit. We hope to bring you more on the local aspects of this story in the near future. And congratulations to Will Pickering and family, Newton Cheatham and family, and all the other 2021 Arkansas Farm Families of the Year.

Minority Affairs Council completes “Welcome to De Queen” mural    5/06/2021
Submitted by Muriel Wiley of the Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas
A new inclusive local organization has brought a “Welcome to De Queen” mural to Sevier County as their first community project this month. The multi-panel work of art was created by Texarkana-based artist Darlene Taylor and features a splash of colors and characters, along with greetings in Spanish, Choctaw, Marshallese and various other languages. (Photo courtesy of Rosales Photography)

A new inclusive local organization has brought a “Welcome to De Queen” mural to Sevier County as their first community project this month.

The Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas (MAC) launched the effort after a series of vandalisms emerged around the town late last year. To bring the project to life, the group rallied area partners, hired an artist and collaborated with the community to develop a vision for the design. The multi-panel work of art was created by Texarkana-based artist Darlene Taylor and features a splash of colors and characters, along with greetings in Spanish, Choctaw, Marshallese and various other languages. On May 1, a dedication and prayer gathering was held by MAC and open to the community. The painting site is located at the “Storage-N-Lock” building owned by De Queen Schools Librarian Betty Stone on the Eastern edge of town. In addition to covering up graffiti and bringing a new work of art to the city, MAC also wanted to complete the mural project as an example of how residents can take action to create change in their community. After holding open forums in the fall of 2020 and early 2021 to generate interest, MAC formed with the purpose of bringing area residents from different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, genders and socioeconomic status together with a common goal: Unity. The group says it has committed to organizing events and projects that will uplift the underserved and unite the Sevier County Community as a whole. Local partners who helped organize and support the “Welcome to De Queen” mural project include artist funding by SmartPhone EMT De Queen, paint provided by James and Suzanne Babb purchased from Bailey Discount Building Supply, videography by Chris Chandler, fuel sponsorship from MAC members and beverages for the artist sponsored by Jitterbug Java in De Queen. The group expressed tremendous gratitute to all supporters and invites the public out to the next meeting, scheduled for this Friday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the De Queen Sportsplex. An alternate location will be determined in the event of inclement weather. All meetings are open to the public and available on Facebook live. Ideas for the next group project are welcome and can be submitted to DQunity@gmail.com or the “Minority Affairs Council” Facebook page online.

Nearly two dozen DHS seniors receive “Seal of Biliteracy”    5/06/2021

Nearly two dozen De Queen High School seniors received a “Seal of Biliteracy” for demonstrating proficiency in English and one or more other languages by high school graduation. Those students include, from left to right in the front row, Sarah Victoriano, Lizbeth Osura, Kimberly Delgado, America Vega, Angie Hernandez, Karina Montes, Angie Bolanas and Spanish teacher, Jane Moore. In the middle row are Janae Tirado, Marlen Martinez, Diana Ramirez, Maria Trejo, Alexander Tavarez, Alexis Hernandez and Gerardo Monroy. In the back row are Perla Zapata, Guadalupe Olvera, Angelica Hernandez, Felipe Ortiz, Alex Pacheco, Victor Hernandez and Louis Vertiz. Not pictured are Kayla Hernandez and Edith Garcia.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School District is issuing a big congratulations to 23 De Queen High School Spanish 4 students who recently earned the Arkansas Seal of Biliteracy for demonstrating proficiency in English and one or more other languages by high school graduation. These outstanding students are 23 of 456 Arkansas students from around the state who have earned this distinction. The Seal of Biliteracy is now recognized in 42 states and Washington D.C. According to the official website, “the Seal of Biliteracy encourages students to pursue biliteracy, honors the skills students attain, and can be evidence of skills that are attractive to future employers and college admissions offices.” Since the 2017 pilot year in Arkansas, a total of 2,124 students from 62 high schools around the state have attained this certification across 16 languages other than English. For Mrs. Moore’s Spanish 4 students, her students have been participating since the spring of 2019 to earn the Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish and English. To demonstrate proficiency in English, scores from either the ACT Aspire, ACT English, or scores from the ELPA exam are used. These are paired with proficiency scores for other languages. “I want our community to know that just because a student may have some background in speaking Spanish, that does not mean he or she is proficient in the language. There are four proficiency domains in all languages and they are listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Most of my students with some Spanish background have either been born here or moved here as a very young child and have had zero education in Spanish until entering our program in the ninth grade. These students have worked hard to improve in all 4 domains during the four years they have had Spanish. I am also very proud of the fact that our program has also had two non-native speakers (English 1st language learners) also earn the Seal – one in 2019 and another in 2020. We have a very strong program and Mrs. Hendershot (teacher Spanish I and II) and I continue to push ourselves and our students so that as many as possible can achieve proficiency levels.” – Jane Moore, DHS Spanish Teacher.

Straight line winds, but no tornado, causes power outages, fallen trees in Sevier County    5/06/2021

Multiple downed trees line Central Road Tuesday morning following straight line winds from severe storms Monday night. Crews worked tirelessly to clear and reopen affected roads. All roads are again open.

DE QUEEN – Roads in Sevier County are cleared and open again following heavy storms and straight line winds late Monday night. That storm caused trees to fall across much of the southern portion of the county and resulted in power outages for hundreds of residents. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said fallen trees and other storm debris resulted in the closing of around 10 roads on Tuesday. Those included frequently-traveled roads like Central, Melrose and portions of Red Bridge Road. All affected roads are now cleared and reopened to traffic. We received reports of some storm damage to homes ranging from Falls Chapel to Gillham. There were no confirmed reports of a tornado. Straight line winds were behind the damage with the National Weather Service reporting gusts in excess of 70 mph in the region. Storm damage resulted in the loss of power to numerous customers in Sevier County and forced the closure of Horatio Public Schools on Tuesday due to lack of electricity. The district is returning to onsite instruction today. As of 6:30 Wednesday morning, SWEPCO was reporting 37 power outages among its customers in Sevier County. The electric company is reporting less than five customer outages in Little River County. Southwest REA was reporting an additional 67 customers still without power Wednesday morning in Sevier County.

Gov. Hutchinson renews vaccine push, outlines COVID-related legislative acts    5/06/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

State officials are setting a goal to see at least 50 percent of Arkansans partially or fully vaccinated within the next three months.
During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his administration is working with both statewide and local partners to provide more opportunities to get the vaccine. That effort will be coupled with greater outreach to highlight the safety and effectiveness of the available COVID-19 vaccines. State health officials plan to organize pop-up, walk-in vaccine clinics at events throughout the state, from baseball games to local festivals.
Hutchinson said the goal is get as much as the state’s population vaccinated as possible and help bring an end to the pandemic.
Hutchinson then provided an update on several legislative acts in relation to COVID-19. Those include a ban on vaccine passports within Arkansas and a prohibition on local and state facemask ordinances. These two acts effect only local and state authorities.  The third act prohibits state agencies from mandating vaccinations. All three acts will go into effect after 90 days following last week’s legislative recess.
Hutchinson also highlighted the state’s most recent revenue report. That report showed a continued revenue surplus throughout the fiscal year. The report, Hutchinson said, is a sign that the state is recovering from the economic consequences of the pandemic.
The governor said Tuesday’s COVID-19 Taskforce press conference will be the last unless the situation demands weekly updates in the future. Hutchinson said he will continue to broadcast updates each Tuesday but on a broader range of topics than just COVID-19.
Finally, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 296 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to more than 336,000. Active cases rose by 104 to 2,043 across Arkansas. Deaths rose by five over the same period to 5,752 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations rose by 20 to leave 192 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.
Arkansas researchers note rise in anxiety, depression due to food insecurity in midst of pandemic    5/06/2021
Families worried about having enough food during the COVID-19 pandemic are at three times the risk of experiencing anxiety or depression than those that have lost jobs, according to a study by a group of Arkansas agricultural economists.

The results suggest that COVID relief should place more focus on food assistance, researchers said. The group conducted a survey of low-income Americans during the pandemic. They had more than 2,700 responses to the survey. In that study 28 percent of low-income families were food insecure before the pandemic. Families with female heads of house were a disproportionate percentage of those. Stay-at-home restrictions and the closing of food stores and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic compounded worries about having enough food. Low-income families have been particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and its contribution to mental health problems during the pandemic. Low-income families often live in “food deserts,” areas with few outlets for fresh foods. This requires longer trips to supermarkets and greater reliance on public transportation, much of which was shut down or operating on reduced schedules during the shutdown. Also, children of low-income families often rely on school breakfast and lunch programs. The closing of in-person classes during the pandemic meant that many of those food programs were not available. Researchers noted that the expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – also known as SNAP of food stamps – as part of the U.S. government’s COVID-19 relief efforts only helped families that were not already receiving the maximum benefits allowed by the program. Those families whose low incomes already made them eligible for the maximum benefits did not receive increased assistance. The SNAP expansion for COVID didn’t help the poorest of the poor, researchers concluded. If you’re food insecure — if you are worried about having enough food during the pandemic — you are at three times the risk of experiencing anxiety or depression than someone who lost their job during the pandemic. The risks for mental health problems cut across all races among low-income families, Fang said. The risk is greater for the elderly and families with children. Researchers said the survey results suggest that financial aid during the pandemic, while helpful, had relatively little effect on mental health concerns caused by food insecurity. Food assistance can also help give a boost to the economy, the study suggests. There’s evidence that increases in SNAP benefits lead to more money being spent on food than direct money payments. The researchers added that the implications of their study “suggest that more public health measures for the pandemic should focus on getting direct subsidies of food purchases to poor families, especially families with children, as well as removing the barriers to accessing charitable food sources.” To learn more about this and other Division of Agriculture research, www.uaex.uada.edu

Sevier County 4-H rabies clinic continues through Saturday    5/06/2021
DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H is currently hosting its rabies clinic to help protect local pets and help the organization raise some funds.

The drive-thru rabies clinic will continue today and through this Saturday. The clinic has been touring through the county for the convenience of pet owners in Sevier County. Today the clinic will be set up from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Horatio Community Building; on Thursday from 3-5 p.m. at the Herman Dierks Park; and again at Herman Dierks Park on Saturday from 9-11 a.m. Appointments can, however, be made for other times throughout the week by calling the De Queen Animal Hospital at 642-8387 or the Sevier County Extension Office at 584-3013. Rabies shots are $10 each for both cats and dogs. Other vaccines will be available, including Dapp for dogs at $15, Lepto for dogs at $10, FRCP for cats at $15 and Feluk shots for cats for $20. For each rabies shot given a donation will be made to the Sevier County 4-H. Organizers remind area pet owners that Arkansas law requires all dogs and cats three months of age or older to have a rabies vaccination yearly. Ashdown High School partners with UA Cossatot through CNA program    5/06/2021

Pictured left to right are the 2021 AHS Nursing Assistant Program Instructor and Participants: Melba Hess (instructor), Tania Calloway, Aleia Schmidt, Liza Embry, Jasmyn Smith, Anna Moss and Melissa Cooper.

ASHDOWN – UA Cossatot’s Continuing Education department and Ashdown High School are partnering together to offer Ashdown High School seniors the chance to receive nursing assistant training in high school and prepare for the certified nursing assistant exam after graduation. After passing this exam, these students can earn a license to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Students who participated in the training program received 90 hours of training, with sixteen hours being in a clinical setting at Pleasant Manor Nursing Home in Ashdown. Students who completed the new nursing assistant training program included Melissa Cooper, Tania Calloway, Liza Embry, Anna Moss, and Railee Schmidt. Ashdown High School is the first high school to partner with UA Cossatot to offer a nursing assistant training program to high school seniors when launching the first course in 2018-2019. Job prospects for Certified Nursing Assistants are bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for Certified Nursing Assistants will rise at a rate of eleven percent through 2026, which is much faster than the average job growth. As the population ages, demand for round-the-clock nursing services will continue to be needed.

Sevier County Quorum Court to discuss possible poultry house resolution at May 10 meeting   5/06/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet next Monday, May 10 to discuss a number of issues. The meeting will include a discussion over the interest of quorum court members to develop an ordinance related to regulating the location of poultry houses within Sevier County. This issue arose most recently last year when the quorum court heard from both parties of a dispute involving a landowner’s plan to build a number of poultry houses near the De Queen Country Club. The quorum court choose not to take any action in that dispute and deemed it a private matter. In other business, the quorum court will discuss applying for a Transportation Alternative Program grant to help fund trails at De Queen Lake. The grant would reimburse the county 80 percent of the total cost. The grant could play a significant role in funding the first three and a half miles of the new trail. Other items include a request from the county clerk to budget an additional $19,000 to hire a fulltime deputy clerk to begin July 1. Justices of the peace will also vote to re-appoint Tara Athey to the Sevier County Equalization Board. Finally, the quorum court will hear a request to set a salary cap for the new Sevier County Medical Center CEO as well as a handle a number of routine financial and procedural matters.

AGFC says keep wildlife wild, leave “orphans” alone    5/06/2021
Each year, biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission get calls from worried conservation-minded individuals who happen across a young, helpless-looking deer, rabbits and birds that have apparently lost their mother. Moving those animals may be one of the worst things you can do to help it, and in the case of white-tailed deer fawns, taking it home can even land you in trouble with the law.

Most fawns found that seem abandoned aren’t alone after all. Lying perfectly still and quiet is part of a young deer’s survival instinct while its mother is away. Once a doe gives birth, she still needs to feed to maintain her health while nursing her young. She will go a short distance and eat, leaving the fawn alone during much of the day. The fawn’s job is to stay as still as possible so that it remains hidden. Their spotted coat blends into the background, and they just lay there. In some cases, a person can literally push it along with a foot without it jumping up to flee. In most cases, the mother deer is often just out of sight, waiting for you to leave so she can tend to her young. Rabbits, birds and many other wild animals have a similar plan for survival, with the parents leaving the young for sometimes long periods of time to gather food or eat to maintain their health while nursing. Moving “orphaned” wildlife works against this plan. Instead of rescuing them,a person may be moving them from where the mother will return. It also leaves the good Samaritan struggling to figure out what to do with the animal. Wildlife rehabilitation experts often are overwhelmed by kidnapped young owls and other birds that were mistakenly “rescued” by well-meaning people. Since the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in Arkansas in 2016, wildlife rehabilitators are no longer allowed to rehab white-tailed deer or elk, and hand-catching a white-tailed deer fawn is illegal. Moving live deer is one of the fastest ways CWD can spread over long distances. Once a CWD-positive deer or elk is housed at a facility, any subsequent deer or elk is at risk of contracting the disease. Release of those animals later could distribute the disease to new areas of the state, impacting thousands of deer in those areas. If you have taken a young animal from an area, the best practice is to place it back where you found it as soon as possible. If a baby bird has fallen from the nest, place it back or move it as close to the tree as possible. Forget the wive’s tales about the mother rejecting the young because of your scent; when she returns, she will take care of her young. In cases where the spot may have been unsafe because of a nearby road or predator, you can move the animal slightly and its mother will find it. In those cases where the mother has been killed, The AGFC has a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators that can take in certain animals available at www.agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/wildlife-rehabilitation. People should call ahead to ensure there is room to take in the young animals, and verify that the rehabber is licensed to take in the particular Even if the mother deer is dead the fawn still has a chance of survival. According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists, a fawn can begin to eat and digest native vegetation as early as two weeks after birth, and are completely weaned within two to three months. There also is a chance other does are nearby that will take in the fawn as their own if they find them. In either case, that animal’s best chance of living a healthy life in the wild is for people to step aside and let Mother Nature take care of things.

Old Center Church decoration day is Sunday    5/06/2021

HORATIO – Old Center Church will host its annual Mother’s Day Decoration Service and Dinner with singing in the afternoon this Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 9. The service will begin at 11 a.m. All are welcome to attend. The church is located at 143 Old Center Road east of Horatio.

IRS reminds extension to file is available, but not extension to pay    5/06/2021

For most individual taxpayers the tax filing and payment deadline was postponed to May 17. Those who need more time to file beyond the postponed date, can request an extension to file. Taxpayers must request an extension to file by May 17, or they may face a failure to file penalty. This extension gives them until October 15 to file their tax return. An extension to file is not an extension to pay. Taxes must be paid by May 17 to avoid penalties and interest on the amount owed after that date. How to request an extension to file To get an extension to file, the IRS urges taxpayers to do one of the following: File Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or by using Free File on IRS.gov. Submit an electronic payment with Direct PayElectronic Federal Tax Payment System or by debit, credit card or digital wallet and select Form 4868 or extension as the payment type. An automatic extension of time to file will process when taxpayers pay all or part of their taxes electronically by the Monday, May 17 due date. Some taxpayers may have extra time to file their tax returns and pay any taxes due. This includes some disaster victimstaxpayers living overseas, including members of the military, and eligible support personnel serving in combat zones.

Horatio schools out today due to power outages     5/04/2021
HORATIO – The Horatio School District will close its campuses today due to power outages and fallen trees in the area following last night’s storms. The district will transition to virtual learning today.
Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool asked students and parents to keep an eye out for further communications to determine when power is restored and in-person instruction will resume.
Road closures reported in Sevier due to Monday night storms     5/04/2021
LOCKESBURG – A Sevier County road employee is reporting that Central Road is currently closed between Melrose and Red Bridge road due to fallen trees and storm damages from last night’s storms. In addition, portions of Grayland and Provo Road are also closed as crews work to clear debris and reopen those roads.
California man arrested after leading deputies on pursuit in Sevier, McCurtain Counties    5/04/2021
DE QUEEN – A California man is in custody after leading police on pursuit through Sevier and McCurtain Counties over the weekend.

According to information released by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, deputy J.J. Lopez was patrolling Stateline Road on Friday, April 30, when he observed a vehicle traveling with expired tags. When Lopez attempted to initiate a traffic stop the driver of the vehicle sped up and refused to stop. The pursuit then proceeded onto Union Valley Road. The suspect was able to negotiate past two spike strips deployed by other law enforcement officers and continued onto Highway 70 into Oklahoma. The pursuit continued back into Arkansas with the suspect on several occasions reportedly driving head-on towards pursuing law enforcement vehicles. Deputies reported narrowly avoiding a collision with the suspect as he sped towards them. The vehicle pursuit ended after the suspect turned on to Rock Creek Road and drove the vehicle into the river. Authorities say the suspect then fled on foot across the river and into the woods on the Oklahoma side.

During the foot pursuit deputies saw a women sitting on the river bank who said she was with the suspect in the vehicle. She identified him as 45-year-old Timothy Shane Woods, whose address is listed out of Santa Cruz, Cali. Oklahoma authorities took the women, identified as Tisha Samuels, into custody. Woods was not located until the following day, when he returned to the river in an attempt to recover his flooded vehicle. Oklahoma authorities stated the vehicle could not be recovered until Saturday morning and was left for a wrecker to recover. However, authorities say Woods arrived first with the assistance of a friend who towed the vehicle out of the river. Nonetheless, deputies located a vehicle towing the suspect’s wrecked car. Both vehicles were stopped and Woods was taken into custody after he was found inside. He was arrested without further incident. During an interview with local and Oklahoma officers, Woods allegedly admitted to being the driver of the vehicle involved in the pursuit. Woods is facing numerous charges in Sevier County and Oklahoma. In Arkansas, Woods was charged with fleeing, driving with a suspended license and expired tags. Oklahoma authorities reported Woods will be charged with felony fleeing and aggravated assault for allegedly attempting to hit pursuing officers with his vehicle. Woods was transported to the Sevier County Jail following his arrest. A hold has been placed on him for the additional felony charges in Oklahoma.

Sara Victoriano 21st recipient of Rotary Crystal Award     5/04/2021

Sara Victoriano is the 21st recipient of the Rotary Crystal Award, that’s presented annually to the outstanding senior female athlete at De Queen High School.

DE QUEEN – Sara Victoriano is the 21st recipient of the Rotary Crystal Award, that’s presented annually to the outstanding senior female athlete at De Queen High School. Sara is a standout soccer player for the Lady Leopards. She’s the team’s leading scorer, and she’s an all-state performer. Sara also earned all-conference honors in Cross Country.

Victoriano also excels in the classroom. She ranks seventh out of 167 in the Class of 2021 at De Queen High. She’s a member of National Honor Society, student council, the Spanish Club, and the Interact Club. She’s also very active in her church.
Victoriano plans to attend the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. The Crystal Award was presented by Rotarian Tammy Huddleston at Monday’s noon meeting of the club. The award was first presented in 2000. The award is based on athletic performance, scholastic achievements, and participation in school and community activities.
Foreman Farmers Market kicks off this evening     5/04/2021
FOREMAN – Foreman launches its first farmers market of the season in Little River County this evening.

The market opens today and will reopen each Tuesday and Thursday from 4-7 p.m. each day on Schuman Street at the old pharmacy location downtown beginning this month. Vendor charge is $3 per event or $50 annually. For questions or more information, contact Mike McKee at (903) 824-0818.

New feral hog survey aimed at landowners in Sevier and Howard Counties     5/04/2021

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, in partnership with the state’s Feral Hog Task Force, is seeking input from Arkansans regarding their experiences with feral hogs. The task force incorporates participation and support from several other state and federal partner organizations. Its goal is the eradication of feral hogs, an invasive pest that wreaks havoc on crops, property and natural resources. Agents and associates with the Cooperative Extension Service, which is leading many of the task force’s public survey efforts, will be contacting landowners in areas where feral swine pilot projects are being conducted in the state. These include Sevier and Howard Counties as well as several others in South and Southeast Arkansas. Extension agents are encouraging participation in the survey, even among landowners who have had no direct contact with feral hogs. The survey is being sent in the mail and everyone who receives one is asked to take a few minutes to answer the questions. Extension agents will also be calling some landowners who are receiving trapping services from their Conservation District trappers. The survey will be conducted several times over the next few years to track changes in reported damages. Additionally, landowners anywhere in the state can report the number of feral hogs removed from their property simply using the Feral Hog Survey 1-2-3 app. To download, visit the feral hog page on the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s website, located at www.agriculture.arkansas.gov. Arkansans who can’t access the app for any reason can contact their local county extension office for assistance, and a cooperative extension agent will report the information. In Sevier County, that number is 584-3013. Ryan Farney, feral hog coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, is asking that al hunters and feral hog trappers in the state report their sightings and removals of feral hogs at the Feral Hog Survey 1-2-3 app. Landowners who have feral hogs on their property can contact USDA APHIS Wildlife Services at 501-835-2318. They are leading a statewide effort at feral hog removal, one pig at a time. Residents interested in learning how to use a cellular trapping system should contact their local Cooperative Extension Service office. A team of extension agents located throughout the state coordinates feral hog trapping, and can help residents learn best practices. Call the Sevier County Extension Office for more information about feral hogs, or to volunteer your property as a demonstration site.

Tickets now on sale for 2A baseball, softball regional tournament     5/04/2021

Tickets are now on sale for the 2A Regional Baseball and Softball Tournament. The Horatio Lions baseball team will play in the tournament this Thursday, May 6 at 12:30 p.m. The Horatio Lady Lions softball team will play later that afternoon beginning at 3 p.m. Tickets must be purchased online at www.gofan.co/app/school/AAA. The link is also available on the Horatio Lions Facebook page. Current AAA passes will also be accepted. District officials stress those who buy tickets online should not redeem the tickets after they are purchased. The gate worker at the tournament will redeem online tickets at the gate.

Ashdown Spring Concerts tonight and Thursday     5/04/2021

ASHDOWN – The annual Ashdown spring band concert is set for this evening. The beginner band will take the stage at 6 p.m. with the Ashdown Junior High School band to follow at 6:30. The high school band is scheduled to perform on Thursday starting at 6 p.m. All three concerts will be held in the Helen Parker Gym. District officials say face masks are required to be worn and social distancing guidelines are in place.

Arkansas utility service disconnection moratorium ends today     5/01/2021
The Arkansas Public Service Commission is issuing a reminder that the state’s COVID-19 utility service disconnection moratorium ends today. The moratorium applies to customers of Entergy, SWEPCO, CenterPoint Energy and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, among other energy providers. For those still struggling to catch up on their utility bills due to the financial impact of COVID-19, it’s important to take action immediately to seek assistance to avoid disconnection after today.

Verify what you owe directly with your utility company. Information, including what is owed, must be provided in writing to each customer with a past due balance. Contact the utility company and discuss a payment plan if your bill is unaffordable. Utility companies are required to provide information regarding available payment options on their website and social media platforms. Utility companies are required to offer plans which provide a minimum of 18 months to repay any past due balances with no down payment required. Utility companies must also provide information regarding funds that may be available through assistance agencies or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Law enforcement agencies also warn consumers to not fall for fake calls about utility bills. Verify the status of your account directly with the utility company. You should contact them. Do not assume that someone who contacts you works for the utility company. It could be a scam. The Public Service Commission does not regulate municipal utilities or private water companies, and customers of those utility companies are not affected by the moratorium order.

Survey of residents of SWAR show support for pandemic-related business practices to continue into future     5/01/2021

A friendly atmosphere, options, and safety measures were southwestern Arkansans’ top three values in choosing which restaurants and stores to frequent, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The survey was conducted in March by CREATE BRIDGES, an initiative of the Division of Agriculture’s Community and Economic Development Department, based in Little Rock. CREATE BRIDGES is an acronym for “Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism and Entertainment by Building Rural Innovations and Developing Growth Economies.” The survey received responses from 199 residents living in Howard, Little River, and Sevier counties. Julianne Dunn, economic educator for the Division of Agriculture, said the most popular products purchased were clothing and locally made or crafted goods, according to the survey results. Dunn said the study showed a majority of respondents want the conveniences added during the pandemic to remain, such as ordering online, picking up at the store and curbside delivery. CREATE BRIDGES is designed to bring two three-county regions together to collaborate, gather data, develop and implement strategies to assist small, rural businesses in retaining and expanding their customer base. The CREATE BRIDGES 3C’s Region, consisting of Howard, Little River, and Sevier counties, was selected in the fall of 2018. Like other programs and agencies, however, CREATE BRIDGES administrators had to reassess their objectives in 2020 while facing the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. “We agreed that consumers’ needs and desires may have changed as a result of the pandemic and that it would be beneficial to small retail businesses to know what their customers sought,” Vickie Williamson, economic development director for Little River County, said. Williamson and Tiffany Maurer, economic development director for Sevier County, generated a short list of questions in January for consumers to answer online. All respondents were entered into a drawing for a gift card as an incentive to participate. There were 199 responses across the three counties, providing helpful data and comments for local businesses. The complete survey results are available at www.uaex.uada.edu/createbridgesresources. For more information about CREATE BRIDGES, visit www.uaex.uada.edu/createbridges or contact Julianne Dunn at 501-671-2158 or jbdunn@uaex.edu.

Bridge closure on Hwy 32 postponed    5/01/2021

The lane closure of Highway 32 across Millwood Dam scheduled for May 4 has been postponed. The Little Rock District will notify the public once a new closure date has been identified.

Create Bridges hosting business training workshop in De Queen tomorrow    5/01/2021

The Create Bridges Team are offering a free seminar in De Queen to assist those with the dream of starting and owning their own business. The free business coaching seminar will be held tomorrow, May 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day. The event is scheduled at the office of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce in downtown De Queen. The seminar will be presented in both English and Spanish. Although free, an appointment is required to attend the seminar. Appointments can be set by calling (720) 477-9659 or by emailing mwiley@uada.edu.

Rep. Vaught provides update on tax cuts passed this spring    5/01/2021

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught has provided us with an update detailing some of the legislative accomplishments of this spring’s session of the Arkansas House of Representatives. The House is now in an extended recess for the 2021 Regular Session. Legislation passed so far this session has reduced taxes by $84 million for the current fiscal year and is projected to cut another $197 million in taxes for Fiscal Year 2022. The vast majority of those tax cuts come from two pieces of legislation drafted to respond quickly to the economic situation created by the health emergency. Act 154 exempts unemployment benefits paid in 2020 and 2021 from state income tax. It is estimated that more than 281,000 Arkansans received unemployment benefits in 2020. ACT 248 exempts COVID-19 relief loans for small businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), from state income tax. It is estimated that more than 42,400 Arkansas businesses received a PPP loan in 2020. Additional tax cuts and credits passed this session include: HB1912, which reduces the sales tax from 6.5% to 3.5% on used cars priced from $4,000-$10,000. Act 970 provides a sales and use tax exemption for water used by a poultry farm. Act 971 doubles the income tax deduction for a teacher’s qualified classroom expense from $250 to $500. Act 841 creates an income tax credit for up to $3,500 for retired law enforcement officers who work cold cases for Arkansas State Police. Act 972 allows for sales tax exemptions of isolated sales at special events. SB336 creates an exemption from the sales and use tax for coins, currency, and bullion. You can find summaries of additional legislation at www.arkansashouse.org

Local health units to begin providing COVID-19 shots this week     5/01/2021

Beginning this week, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will begin offering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Local Health Units across the state. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is available to anyone age 18 or older. The vaccine is given in two doses, one month apart. People will be scheduled for an appointment to return for the second dose when they receive the first dose. Anyone interested in scheduling an appointment may call the health unit closest to them or the statewide vaccine call-line at 1-800-985-6030. After-hours appointments may be available on Tuesdays. Health units are in every county in the state.

Arkansas Public Land Elk Hunt applications now being accepted     5/01/2021

The application period for Arkansas’s public land elk hunting permits opened this weekend and will remain open through June 1. Hunters interested in pursuing Arkansas’s largest big game animal can apply beginning May 1 at https://ar-web.s3licensing.com and select the Special Hunt Applications button to begin the process. Twenty public land elk tags will be available for Arkansas’s 2021 elk hunting season. With the Buffalo River Elk Festival tentatively scheduled for September 3-4, these drawings will be conducted through a randomized computer section. Three additional permits will be drawn at the festival for people who register at the event. AGFC officials say last year saw an increase in elk permit applicants and hopes that trend continues. In 2020, there were 5,275 elk hunt applicants, up from 3,812 in 2019. Applicants for Arkansas public land elk hunt permits must have a valid Resident Sportsman Hunting License or must be a holder of a Lifetime Sportsman’s Permit. Only residents of Arkansas may apply. Applicants must be 6 or older as of the beginning of the hunt to participate. Anyone with 18 or more violations points is ineligible for the permit. Hunters with access to private land in elk country will follow the same regulations as last year, using a quota system instead of drawn permits. Anyone may purchase a Private Lake Elk Permit (labeled PLE in the AGFC licensing system) for $5 in addition to a valid resident Sportsman Hunting License or nonresident All Game Hunting License. The private land quota is 35 total, 10 of either sex and 25 antlerless. Hunters must call each evening to determine if the quota has been met before the next day’s hunt. The season ends early if the quota is filled. Applications require a $5 nonrefundable processing fee, but no additional fees are required of hunters who successfully draw.

Active COVID-19 cases remain low in Southwest Arkansas    5/01/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases in Sevier County are remaining at the lowest levels since the virus first entered Arkansas, with just two currently confirmed active cases in the county. In terms of cumulative cases, the Arkansas Department of Health reports a total of 2,789 people in Sevier County caught COVID-19 at some point over the past year. 24 county residents have died according to the Department of Health In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting just two active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,235 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42. Howard County is reporting six active cases at this time. Total cases were unchanged at 1,653 and deaths at 25. Active cases in Polk County currently number 13. Total cases rose slightly over the weekend to 1,985. Deaths remain at 72. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 137 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Sunday for a cumulative total of over 306,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases increased by 19 to 2,055 currently. Two deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,743 since last spring. Currently 171 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Local authorities involved in search for couple wanted in questioning in Texas homicide investigation     4/30/2021

LAMAR COUNTY, Texas – The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the search of a couple wanted for questioning in a double homicide that occurred in Texas earlier this week. According to the sheriff’s office in Lamar County, Texas, deputies were dispatched to a residence in Lamar County regarding a deceased person. Two bodies were found inside the home, a man and woman. The case is being investigated by the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers as a double homicide. Authorities immediately identified two people wanted for questioning as persons of interest in the case: 44-year-old James Henry Elrod and his 39-year-old wife, Carolyn Lynell Elrod. Local authorities were notified of the search as investigators believed Elrod had family ties in Sevier and McCurtain Counties and might travel to the area.

On Wednesday the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a witness who reported seeing the couple on Piney Road.   A search began in the area but the Elrods were not located. A known survivalist, authorities warned that Elrod would possibly take to the woods to travel. Both were, however, located later that day by authorities in McCurtain County and taken into custody. Currently the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office is providing no further details on the double homicide or the Elrods’ involvement in the incident. Names of the deceased have not been released pending notification of next of kin. Authorities in Texas said more information will be made available in the coming days.

UA Cossatot to host Fiesta Fest Saturday in De Queen     4/30/2021

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot will host Fiesta Fest tomorrow and organizers say the wide variety of entertainment, activities, vendors and food will mean this is an event you won’t want to miss. Fiesta Fest, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, will be held in Downtown De Queen on North 3rd Street and West De Queen Avenue in front of the Courthouse from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. Saturday night. The festival’s focus is bringing the community together to celebrate the cultures of Southwest Arkansas while raising scholarship money for UA Cossatot students. Festivities will include food, vendors, live music, a DJ and light show, folkloric dancing, carnival rides, games, inflatables, and more. Erika Buenrostro of UA Cossatot said the event is a great time for all residents of the area to come together for a common cause. The event aims to celebrate the cultures that make up Sevier County’s community and help provide students of the college with a scholarship funded through money raised at this event. To become a sponsor or vendor for Fiesta Fest, contact Dustin Roberts, Director of Development, at droberts@cccua.edu or 870-584-1172.

Sevier County reporting one active case of COVID-19 at this time     4/30/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County is currently reporting one confirmed active case of COVID-19, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Earlier this week hit a celebratory milestone with zero confirmed or probable active cases in all of Sevier County. Health officials in Arkansas have warned however that with the reduction in daily new cases across the state, fewer people are getting tested. This means fewer cases of the virus are being detected. Nonetheless, Sevier County reaching near zero levels of active cases feels like and certainly is a major milestone. In terms of cumulative cases, the Arkansas Department of Health reports a total of 2,788 people in Sevier County caught COVID-19 at some point over the past year. 24 county residents have died according to the Department of Health In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting just wo active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,235 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42. Howard County is reporting seven active cases at this time. Total cases grew slightly this week to 1,653. Deaths remain at 25. Active cases in Polk County currently number 14 – a modest increase over the weekend and from last week when active cases fell nearly to zero. Total cases currently number 1,983. Polk County did see an additional death to the virus this week, raising the death toll to 72. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 240 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Thursday for a cumulative total of 335,529 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases increased by 53 to 1,961 currently. Nine deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,735 since last spring. Currently 166 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Grand opening ceremony today for Ashdown City Park splash pad     4/30/2021

ASHDOWN – Community leaders in Little River County will gather today to officially inaugurate Ashdown’s new splash pad. The Ashdown Community Foundation announced that the Domtar Community Advisory Team and the City of Ashdown will be officially opening the new splash pad at the Ashdown City Park this afternoon beginning at 4 p.m. This project was made possible by a grant from the Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas and monies raised from the annual Ashdown Community Auction. Volunteers from the Domtar Community Advisory Team and representatives from the City of Ashdown will be hosting the official ribbon cutting event for the new splash pad at the Ashdown City Park. Also on hand will be representatives from the Blue and You Foundation, who provided a grant of $150,000 toward the project. The remaining dollars were made possible by the many individual, community and business supporters of the annual Ashdown Community Auction. Organizers hope the event will bring the community together to officially open the new splash pad. The splash pad will be open daily as of this Saturday, May 1 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through September 30. Today’s ribbon cutting event and splash pad grand opening to the community will begin at 4 p.m. Fish dinners will be available for $10 each and serving will continue through 7 p.m. or until food runs out. At 5 p.m. a raffle drawing begins. Tickets can still be purchased for $50 and provide a chance to win over $5,000 in prizes. The event will take place at the Ashdown City Park Splash Pad, located at 1301 Gordan Drive in Ashdown. Members of the Ashdown Community Foundation said the project is part of their commitment to giving back to the local community of Ashdown through improvement projects benefiting the local city park and downtown area.

Benefit tomorrow for Wilma Middaugh     4/30/2021

EAGLETOWN, Okla. – A benefit dinner and auction is scheduled for this Saturday to help a local resident recuperate from damages suffered to her home during February’s winter storms. Broken Bow Masonic Lodge #441 is partnering with family and friends to hold the benefit for Wilma Middaugh. Wilma’s house was damaged during the snow storms, which caused the home to shift and then collapse. The house is beyond repair and all funds raised for Wilma will go to help her find new living arrangements. She is a former employee of the former De Queen Hospital. The event will be held Saturday, May 1 at the Eagletown School Cafeteria. A bean and bread dinner will be served at 3 p.m. Cost is $7 for adults and $5 for children under 12. An auction will follow the meal at 6 p.m. in the Eagletown Gym.

Arkansas to end suspension of driver’s license for non-payment of fines     4/30/2021

Yesterday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 513 into law, eliminating failure to pay fines and fees as a cause for driver’s license suspensions in non-criminal traffic violations. The bill, which received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate, also gives people with suspended licenses access to a restricted driver’s license to allow them to travel to work and school. The legislation was sponsored by both state Democrats and Republicans.

  • In all, SB513 Eliminate failure to pay fines and fees as cause for driver’s license suspension in non-criminal traffic infractions;
  • Only allows suspensions for failure to appear at hearings expressly held to address nonpayment;
  • And expands access for those with suspended licenses through the creation of a new restricted license.

Louisiana State Fair kicked off last night in Shreveport     4/30/2021

Last night was the opening night of the Lousiana State Fair in Shreveport. The annual state fair will run eleven straight days through May 9 from 12 noon to 10 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Gate admission is $12 and $47 with a carnival armband. The fair FunPass is $100 and includes gate admission and a carnival armband for all 11 days of the State Fair. And make sure to stay tuned to the Morning Brew here on your Number One Country as we are still giving away tickets. Free parking and gate admission is available from 12 noon to 3 p.m. weekdays. Mondays and Thursdays are discount days with admission just $5 after 3 p.m. A number of concerts are scheduled this weekend to help kick off the first few days of the annual state fair. Tomorrow, Nashville South performs at 6 p.m. and again at 7 and 8. Frank Foster will take the stage Saturday starting at 7:30 p.m. Opening for Frank will be The Casey Martin Band taking the stage at 6 p.m. Sunday is Fiesta at the Fair from 12 noon to 10 p.m. This year’s fair will also include the 11th annual Louisiana State Fair Car Show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 2. Other attractions include the Nevreless Nocks Thrill Show, GASCAR Animal Races, Paul Bunyan’s Lumberjack Show, Dallas the Fire Guy, Nick the Escape Guy and much more. Timberview Helicopter Rides will offer helicopter rides above the midway of the Spring State Fair for $20 per person. Go to www.statefairoflouisiana.com for more details on concerts, event schedules, free attractions, and discounted ticket information.

Cossatot River, Dierks School Districts closed today due to ongoing power outages     4/29/2021

Both the Cossatot River and Dierks School Districts have closed their campuses today due to ongoing power outages following last night’s storms. Lingering power outages remain in Sevier, Howard, Little River and Polk Counties. However, power has been restored to most affected customers, according to SWEPCO and SWREA. SWREA was reporting over 1,800 affected customers this morning but power has been restored to all but 20. More rain and thunderstorms are expected today with changes ranging up to 100 percent. Forecasters with the National Weather Service say some storms today can continue to produce heavy rainfall. Currently, most of Southwest Arkansas, including Sevier, Howard and Little River Counties, as well as McCurtain County in Southeastern Oklahoma, are currently under a flash flood watch. Currently, that flash flood watch will remain in effect through 4 p.m. today. Cossatot River School District announced the cancellation of classes today due to the ongoing power outages. We’ve received no other reports of school cancellations. Chances for rain drop off this evening with a 40-60 percent chance. Friday is likely to be dry, with just a 20 percent chance of showers, but more rain is expected Saturday and into next week.

Free tree giveway in De Queen in celebration of Arbor Day     4/29/2021 DE QUEEN – In recognition of National Arbor Day, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is hosting drive-through giveaways of bare root seedlings at various locations across the state this Friday, April 30. The idea behind this event is that adding trees to your yard or to a community forest is beneficial to all Arkansans, and Spring is an excellent time to do so. Organizers say there’s no better way to recognize National Arbor Day, which is celebrated annually on the last Friday of April, than to provide free trees for Arkansas residents. The Forestry Division will be hosting giveaways at various locations across the state. Locally, that includes Bailey Discount Building Supply at 880 E. Collin Raye Drive in De Queen this Friday, April 30. The event will begin at 11 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. that afternoon. Visit www.agriculter.arkansas.gov for giveaway locations across the state, or contact Kristine Kimbro, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator, by emailing Kristine.kimbro@agriculture.arkansas.gov

CenterPoint Energy reminds customers of end of disconnection moratorium     4/29/2021

CenterPoint Energy is urging its Arkansas customers with unpaid balances to contact the utility now to set up payment plan arrangements, with the moratorium on service disconnections for nonpayment scheduled to end on May 3. CenterPoint Energy officials say some customers have accumulated unpaid balances on their utility bill due to financial hardships from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March last year, the utility has suspended disconnections for nonpayment. However, the Arkansas Public Service Commission is removing the moratorium on disconnections effective May 3. When the moratorium ends, customers with unpaid balances who have not made payment arrangements with the utility will be subject to disconnection. To help customers avoid interruption of their service, CenterPoint Energy is offering several payment options, including an 18-month delayed payment arrangement that is available for a limited time. Under this option, a customer can pay their overdue balance in equal installments for a period of up to 18 months. As long as the customer pays their current bill amount and the monthly installment by the due date each month, service will not be disconnected. CenterPoint Energy can also help direct customers to energy payment assistance resources such as the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Customers who need bill payment assistance or who have already received a disconnection notice should contact CenterPoint Energy as soon as possible – either online at CenterPointEnergy.com/PaymentAssistance or by calling customer service at 800-992-7552.

Highway 32 to be closed May 4 over Millwood Lake dam     4/29/2021

MILLWOOD LAKE – One lane of the Highway 32 across Millwood Dam will be closed from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. on May 4 for a routine dam inspection. Officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office regret any inconvenience this may cause and ask for the public’s cooperation until the work is complete. Flaggers will be present to assist with the flow of traffic, but motorists should plan for additional travel time. The closure is being coordinated with emergency services and law enforcement agencies.

Ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony tomorrow for Ashdown splash pad     4/29/2021

ASHDOWN – Community leaders in Little River County will meet tomorrow afternoon to officially inaugurate Ashdown’s new splash pad. The Ashdown Community Foundation announced that the Domtar Community Advisory Team and the City of Ashdown will be officially opening the new splash pad at the Ashdown City Park tomorrow April 30 at 4 p.m. This project was made possible by a generous grant from the Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas and monies raised from the annual Ashdown Community Auction. Volunteers from the Domtar Community Advisory Team and representatives from the City of Ashdown will be hosting the official ribbon cutting event for the new splash pad at the Ashdown City Park. Also on hand will be representatives from the Blue and You Foundation, who provided a grant of $150,000 toward the project. The remaining dollars were made possible by the many individual, community and business supporters of the annual Ashdown Community Auction. Organizers hope the event will bring the community together to officially open the new splash pad. The splash pad will be open daily as of this Saturday, May 1 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through September 30. Tomorrow’s ribbon cutting event and splash pad grand opening to the community will begin at 4 p.m. Fish dinners will be available for $10 each and serving will continue through 7 p.m. or until food runs out. At 5 p.m. a raffle drawing begins. Tickets can still be purchased for $50 and provide a chance to win over $5000 in prizes. The event will take place at the Ashdown City Park Splash Pad, located at 1301 Gordan Drive in Ashdown. Members of the Ashdown Community Foundation said the project is part of their commitment to giving back to the local community of Ashdown through improvement projects benefiting the local city park and downtown area.

Sevier County 4-H to host rabies vaccination clinic next week     4/29/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H will once again host its rabies clinic to help protect local pets and help the organization raise some funds. The drive-thru rabies clinic will be held next Monday through Saturday, May 3-8. The clinic will tour through the county for the convenience of pet owners in Sevier County. On Monday, the clinic will be set up at the Gillham Fire Department from 3:30-5 p.m. On Tuesday, at the new Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center from 3:30-5:30; on Wednesday from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Horatio Community Building; on Thursday from 3-5 p.m. at the Herman Dierks Park; and again at Herman Dierks Park on Saturday from 9-11 a.m. Appointments can, however, be made for other times throughout the week by calling the De Queen Animal Hospital at 642-8387 or the Sevier County Extension Office at 584-3013. Rabies shots are $10 each for both cats and dogs. Other vaccines will be available, including Dapp for dogs at $15, Lepto for dogs at $10, FRCP for cats at $15 and Feluk shots for cats for $20. For each rabies shot given a donation will be made to the Sevier County 4-H. Organizers remind area pet owners that Arkansas law requires all dogs and cats three months of age or older to have a rabies vaccination yearly.

Rep. Vaught provides last legislative update of current session     4/29/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has provided her final update for the current session detailing legislative activities in the Arkansas House of Representatives. The House is now moving into an extended recess and will return this fall to address redistricting. House members negotiated until after midnight to concur in an amendment to HB1957. HB1957 states all acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations of the United States Government that were enacted on or after January 1, 2021, that infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Arkansas Constitution, are invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state. The House then passed SJR14. This is a proposed constitutional amendment titled the “Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment”. It states government may burden a person’s freedom of religion only if the government demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is in the compelling government interest and n the least restrictive means. SB691 bill states that any advertisement using the image of an elected official appearing in any newspaper, television, radio, or electronic medium which is paid by taxpayer funds shall clearly contain the words “Paid advertisement” or “paid ad” and the name of the state entity, county, or constitutional officer that paid for the ad. SB336 creates an exemption from the sales and use tax for coins, currency, and bullion. SB484 states that a nonresident individual who is paid a salary, lump sum payment, or any other form of payment that encompasses work performed both inside and outside of Arkansas shall pay Arkansas income tax only on the portion of the individual’s income that reasonably can be allocated to work performed in Arkansas. SB693 would abolish the state and public school life and health insurance board and transfer the duties to the state board of finance.

DHS graduation ceremony set for May 17     4/27/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools has set its date to send off the 2020-2021 Class of De Queen High School. This year’s graduation ceremony will be held Monday, May 17 in the Leopard Arena. As last year, and due to COVID-19 precautions, the ceremony will be split into three services. The first will commence at 4 p.m., the third at 6 p.m. and the final ceremony at 8 p.m. Graduates will receive 10 tickets each to distribute to family and friends. De Queen High School seniors will have their last day on Tuesday, May 11. Graduation practice will be held May 12 and 13. Those graduating at 4 p.m. will practice at 8 a.m., those graduating at 6 p.m. will practice at 10 a.m., and those graduating at 8 p.m. will practice at 12 noon. Seniors are asked to check their email for this year’s graduation times and seating chart.

Chamber seeking community’s help in cleaning up county before Big Bass Festival     4/27/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is organizing a countywide cleanup event next month in time for the 2021 Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament. Organizers with the chamber will be covering the county from Gillham to Ben Lomond on May 22 to pick up trash in Sevier County. This is being held in preparation for the tourists and fisherman coming for the annual Big Bass Festival. To get involved or see how you can help, contact the chamber office at 584-3225. If no answer, leave a message and the chamber says someone will get back with you ASAP. The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce announced it will present the always-popular fishing tournament on Saturday, May 29. Typically held each year, the event was postponed and then cancelled last year due to COVID-19. However, the Big Bass Festival is a go for 2021 at De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. on May 29. Early registration is $45 per person. Late registration is $50 per person after 4 p.m. on May 28. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes. For more information, contact Greg Ray at 642-2445 or the Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3225. The Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been held annually with only two interruptions for the past 33 years. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

Sevier County Clerk shares information on May school board elections     4/27/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin is sharing information related to the upcoming school board election in May. Positions on several area school boards were up for election this year. In the Horatio School District, that included Zone 4 held by Sherri Hodges and Zone 1 held by Joe Jones. Neither are facing challengers in this year’s election. On the De Queen School Board, Zone 3 will go unoccupied. Incumbent Gloria Caldwell did not seek reelection. The seat will remain open unless a director is appointed to the board. In Dierks Kenneth “Trey” Walt Eckert III is running unopposed for a director position on the Dierks School Board. The only school board race is for Zone F in the Ashdown School District between incumbent Glenda Smedley and challenger Stephanie Ringgold. A poll will be open in Ben Lomond on election day for residents of Sevier County who live within the Ashdown School District’s boundaries. This poll will be located in the Ben Lomond Community Building from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 18, election day. All area school districts are maintaining their current millage rate. That includes 44 mills in Horatio, 32.2 in De Queen, 44 in Cossatot River School District, 35.7 in Ashdown, 34 in Mineral Springs and 43 in Dierks. The Sevier County Courthouse will be the sole polling location for Sevier County voters living within the Horatio and De Queen School Districts. Early voting will be conducted at the county clerk’s office beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 11 and continuing through 5 p.m. on Monday, May 17. Election day is May 18. In related news, Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin is informing the public on the pollworkers slated for this year’s school board election. Early and absentee election officials include Akin and county clerk employees Lisa Sherwood and Renea Bailey. Absentee and central counters will include Maureen Burrow, Patti Boone, Brandi Cole and Susan Alspaw. If you have any objection to any person who has been assigned to work this election, contact Sevier County Election Commission Chairperson, Barbara Hoyt, at bfhoyt@earthlink.net. You may also call the office of the Sevier County Clerk at 642-2852. Objections must be made by May 10.

Dierks tables proposal to incorporate four-day school week     4/27/2021

DIERKS – The Dierks School District’s proposal to shift to a four-day school week has been put on hold. During its meeting last week, the Dierks School Board heard from the district’s Personnel Policy Committee on its decision to table the four-day school week initiative. Beth Shelton spoke on behalf of the committee and said more data was needed. She added the initiative was also put on hold to allow time for the formation of a teacher committee to look into the proposal. With the tabling of this proposal, the committee went on to approve the 2021-2022 school calendar on a five-day school week basis. The four-day school week is a growing trend in Arkansas. Currently, Cossatot River School District operates on a four-day school week. Mineral Springs School District voted earlier this year to transition to four-days beginning with the next school year. In other business, the school board approved Elementary Summer School July 12-July 23 from 8:30a.m. – 12:20p.m. each day. The teachers for Summer School will include Katrina Pickett, April Kappus, Charlotte Tipton and Cassie Kirby. If students need transportation, Cassie Kirby will drive a school bus and Katrina Pickett will drive a school vehicle. Compensation will be followed per the salary schedule. ACT School is scheduled for June 29-July 1 and July 5-8 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon each day. High School Summer School June 7-10, and June 14-17 for 9th through 12th grade English.

Weather to be wet over the next few days in SWAR     4/27/2021

DE QUEEN – If you somehow believe we’ve not gotten enough rain already this month, just hold on. There’s plenty more coming this week. Forecasters with the National Weather Service are calling for rain for much of the rest of the week. Today’s chances are just 20 percent, including a slight chance for thunderstorms, but those chances increase greatly throughout the week. Tonight’s chances are 30 percent, mainly after 8 p.m. Chances are 50 to 60 percent tomorrow for showers and thunderstorms, 80 to 90 percent Wednesday night and again 90 percent on Thursday. Chances drop off Thursday night and then on Friday, which has only a 20 percent chance of showers. Temperatures will remain around average this week with highs in the 80s today and tomorrow but then into the low to mid 70s the rest of the week and into the weekend. No warnings or watches are in effect at this time but we here at your Number One Country studies will keep you up to date on any changes.

“Power of Travel” is theme for 2021 National Travel and Tourism We     4/27/2021

The travel industry in Arkansas and across the globe has been hit hard over the past year. We’ve all the seen the headlines about lost revenue and economic instability because of COVID-19. Yet, hope is now on the horizon, and people are ready to get back out and explore. Travel’s ability to bounce back after periods of economic hardship is why the theme of this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week, May 2-8, is the Power of Travel. The week serves as an opportunity to remind visitors and Arkansans alike about the incredible value the travel industry holds not just for our local economy and workforce, but to our community’s identity and culture — and to illustrate travel’s ability to help power recovery efforts. Travel and tourism are an important part of who we are as a community. Nationally, travel generated $2.6 trillion in economic output, supported 17 million American jobs and delivered a $51 billion trade surplus to the U.S. in 2019, according to the U.S. Travel Association. In Arkansas, tourism contributed $7.68 billion to our state in 2019, and during that time more than 36 million visitors traveled throughout The Natural State. Also in 2019, the tourism industry provided jobs for more than 68,000 Arkansans. However, this vital revenue source stemming from business and leisure travelers was severely diminished during the pandemic. In 2020, the entire U.S. travel industry lost half a trillion dollars in travel-related spending. With such losses, a broader economic recovery hinges on recovery within the travel industry. Arkansas’s tourism industry was also significantly impacted, but fortunately, the state was well-positioned for the COVID-19 pandemic. Arkansas, after all, is known as The Natural State for a reason, from our outdoor recreation opportunities to our wide-open spaces — which are exactly what travelers have been looking for during this public health emergency. While the rapid pace of vaccinations has provided hope that a return to normal is on its way, a resurgence in travel demand is not inevitable. With the right measures in place, Arkansas can get people moving again in a safe and healthy way, restore the workforce and help power a broader economic recovery. The road ahead is challenging, but the travel industry is resilient and has an incredible ability to bounce back from hard times. This is the toughest challenge the U.S. travel industry has ever faced, but travel is one of the best-equipped industries to lead a revival.

EZ Marts in Gillham, Lockesburg now selling beer     4/26/2021

SEVIER COUNTY – The list of places to buy beer in Sevier County keeps growing.

EZ-Mart stores in Gillham and Lockesburg joined the list late last week. Until then, the first and only place to buy beer in Sevier County was La Perla Tapatia in downtown De Queen. Mario Zuniga, owner of La Perla, said he filled out all the necessary forms and paperwork as soon as he could to get a jump start on the licensing process. He began selling beer last month and has seen business grow tremendously since as the first and only place to buy beer. La Perla remains, at this time, the only place to buy beer in De Queen. EZ Marts in Gillham and Lockesburg are adding to that very short list. De Queen’s two EZ Marts in De Queen remain beer free at this time but an employee at one location said it is only a matter of time before these two, also, begin selling. Under state law, Sevier County is permitted two liquor stores. Officials with Arkansas’ alcohol beverage control board stated it would likely be the mid-point of this year, maybe even later, before those two permits are awarded. The two permits will be distributed through a blind draw. Restaurants in Sevier County may also apply to sell beer, wine and liquor by the glass. As of this time it appears no restaurant in the county has yet received a license but we do know some have applied.

Sevier County reporting no active COVID-19 cases at this time     4/26/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County is reporting zero active cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

This is the first time the county’s active caseload has fell to zero since the pandemic began – an amazing turn of the tide given the three-digit active cases seen at the beginning of this year and last summer as the pandemic ramped up. Health officials in Arkansas have warned however that with the reduction in daily new cases across the state, fewer people are getting tested. This means fewer cases of the virus are being detected. Nonetheless, Sevier County reaching zero active cases feels like and certainly is a major milestone. In terms of cumulative cases, the Arkansas Department of Health reports a total of 2,786 people in Sevier County caught COVID-19 at some point over the past year. 24 county residents have died according to the Department of Health In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting eight active cases. Cumulative cases number 1,235 since spring 2020. Deaths remain at 42. Howard County is reporting five active cases at this time. Total cases remain at 1,650 and deaths at 25. Active cases in Polk County currently number 15 – a modest increase over the weekend and from last week when active cases fell nearly to zero. Total cases currently number 1,981 while deaths remain at 71. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 64 cases of COVID-19 statewide on Sunday for a cumulative total of 334,706 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 69 to 1,922 currently. One death was reported yesterday for a total of 5,718 since last spring. Currently 152 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Horatio Elementary registration today and tomorrow     4/26/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary will host registration for students new to the district today and again on Tuesday, April 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. both days. Parents who want to send their children to Horatio Public Schools for the 2021-2022 school year are reminded the deadline for school choice is May 1. School choice applications can be picked up from the administration office.

Rep. Vaught provides update on Arkansas legislative activities     4/26/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has provided another update detailing legislative activities within the Arkansas House of Representatives. Last week, the House passed a bill to reduce the sales tax from 6.5% to 3.5% on used cars priced from $4,000-$10,000. That bill, HB1912, passed both chambers and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. Other tax measures passing the House this week include HB1719. HB1719 creates the Reboot Pilot Program. It would provide income tax credits for employers who hire former felony offenders who were released from his or her first term of incarceration in the last year. The maximum amount of this credit is $3,000. The House expects to enter an extended recess beginning Tuesday, April 27, and return in the fall to address congressional redistricting. The Governor has also indicated he intends to call a special session in the fall to address additional tax cuts. You can find all House agendas and links to live streams at www.arkansashouse.org.

UA Cossatot’s Fiesta Fest this Saturday     4/26/2021

UA Cossatot will host Fiesta Fest this Saturday, May 1. The event, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, will be held in Downtown De Queen on North 3rd Street and West De Queen Avenue in front of the Courthouse from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. The festival’s focus is bringing the community together to celebrate the cultures of Southwest Arkansas while raising scholarship money for UA Cossatot students. Festivities will include food, vendors, live music, a DJ and light show, folkloric dancing, carnival rides, games, inflatables, and more. Erika Buenrostro of UA Cossatot said the event is a great time for all of residents of the area to come together for a common cause. The event aims to celebrate the cultures that make up Sevier County’s community and help provide students of the college with a scholarship funded through money raised at this event. To become a sponsor or vendor for Fiesta Fest, contact Dustin Roberts, Director of Development, at droberts@cccua.edu or 870-584-1172.

Frog gigging season now open in Arkansas     4/26/2021

Winter’s last gasp last week may have kept some frogs quiet during a few nights, but bullfrogs are sounding off at night again. And frog-gigging fanatics will be back to chasing them on ponds and lakes throughout Arkansas. Bullfrog season opened this month and will run through Dec. 31.

It may not come with the fanfare of opening day of deer season, and no one’s ever joined a “gigging camp,” but the men and women willing to put forth some effort can be handsomely rewarded for their “legwork.” In Arkansas, only bullfrogs may be harvested, and a valid fishing license is required. The limit is 18 frogs per day, measured from noon one day until noon the next day. Bullfrogs may not be sold except by fish farmers with a valid commercial bullfrog permit. Frogs may be harvested with archery tackle (bows and crossbows), hook-and-line, gig or simply snatching them up by hand. By far the most popular method is to use a 10-foot long pole tipped with a barbed gig point or spring-loaded jaw. Wading along the shallows of a pond, scanning the surface of the water will reveal the glowing eyes of the frogs. Mesh bags and wire fish baskets used by bream anglers come in very handy, as they don’t give the frogs an opportunity to escape like a cooler lid being opened. If the pond is too deep to maneuver along the bank, a small canoe or jon boat works well with an electric motor or paddle, but it’s best to have at least two in the boat. Giggers in boats can take turns keeping the light focused on the frog and paddling or controlling the trolling motor while the other gigger focuses on making a good stab at his prey. Grabbing frogs by the hand is done much the same way except that it requires you to get much closer. Bullfrogs can be found across Arkansas, but the heaviest concentrations usually are found along the many ponds, slow-moving streams and fish farms in the eastern half of the state. It may take some door-knocking and asking for permission, but some small private ponds can prove worth the effort once you break out the gigging gear.

Ashdown pastor to launch ninth annual Impact Walk for Christ fundraiser on Saturday     4/23/2021

ASHDOWN – Tomorrow morning Jim Cross, pastor of Ashdown United Methodist Church, will set off on his ninth annual 30-mile, 10-hour journey to show service to God while also helping raise funds for area folks in need. Organizers and supporters will gather starting at 12 noon at Ashdown United Methodist Church for a cornhole tournament and several other fundraising activities before welcoming Cross at the finish line that afternoon. We spoke to Cross earlier this week about this annual walk, which has raised over $160,000 in the past eight years.

In case you missed that story, here it is along with a welcome to come by tomorrow after noon to help Cross help others through the spirit of service to Jesus Christ:

The full audio story is available here:
The partial transcript is featured below:
Jim Cross, pastor of Ashdown United Methodist Church, has raised over $160,000 in eight years for charitable causes in Little River County through his annual Impact Walking for Christ event. He will host the ninth event this Saturday.

If you happen to drive through Little River County this Saturday, you’re likely to see one guy walking on the side of the road at a very determined pace. His vehicle didn’t break down nor is he doing it just for the exercise. In fact, he’ll be walking 30 miles on Saturday to help raise thousands of dollars for those in need in Little River County.

Jim Cross, pastor of Ashdown United Methodist Church, will be once again undergoing the Impact 2021 Walking for Christ charitable walkathon in Little River County this Saturday. This will be Cross’ ninth year to organize the event. Over the past eight years he’s walked during the event to show service to God while also raising an absolutely incredible amount of money to help his community.
Cross is no stranger to community service and finding ways to help local folks in need. Last year he helped organize an effort to provide free meals in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic – an effort which didn’t just assist those facing food insecurity, but also aided the local business community by patronizing restaurants in Little River County. Cross and his church also organized a huge shoe and clothing drive for youth in the county.
Cross said he had no idea his Walking for Christ benefit would grow to see the impact it now has. Raising over $160,000 through the event over the past eight years has allowed Cross and his church to aid so many organizations, groups and individuals over those years.
This year the benefit walk will grow to include a memorial scholarship fund in memory of CJ Harris. Cedrick “CJ” Harris passed away earlier this year following an ATV accident over the spring break holiday. He was just 14-years-old.
Cross said he couldn’t be more thankful to – and proud of – his community for helping to make the Impact Walking for Christ event such an incredible success. He said the event has seen an outpouring of support from all over Little River County and beyond.

Following Cross’ 30-mile journey, he along with event organizers will host a cornhole tournament and BBQ chicken dinner at Ashdown United Methodist Church. He invites everyone to come by and help join in the fun while supporting charitable causes in Little River County.
The cornhole tournament and other festivities will kick off starting at 12 noon this Saturday, April 24 at Ashdown United Methodist Church located at 145 E. Commerce Street in Ashdown.
Horatio FFA Judging Team earns state championship win     4/23/2021
The Horatio FFA Livestock Judging Team earned a state championship win at this year’s state competition. The team will head to the national competition this fall. Pictured from left to right are team members Hunter Frachiseur, Gabbi Litchford, Raylee VanVoast and Madison Bagley.

HORATIO – This spring was an exciting one for Horatio High School’s Future Farmers of America chapter after one of its team took not just the district win but the state championship as well. Now they’re setting their sights on the National Competition this fall.

The Horatio FFA Livestock judging team, consisting of six Horatio High School students, was crowned state champion during last week’s competition. As part of the state competition the livestock team evaluates and ranks cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats. They study Expected progeny differences – also known as EPDS – and use them in a given scenario to choose the best animals to keep as breeding pieces on their farms. Then they stand before strangers and articulate from memory the reasons they made their choices. Horatio FFA Nicki Litchford said the livestock judging team attends many summer camps and travels countless miles in the spring attending practice contests in Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Arkansas. This year looked a little different as they sat in the classroom and looked at stock virtually more than any of them wanted too due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But their tenacious work paid big dividends as they were named the 2021 State Champions. They were second in the virtual state qualifying contest that took them to state for the eighth year in a row. Horatio’s livestock team members included Gabbi Litchford, Raylee VanVoast, Madison Bagley, Hunter Frachiseur, Megan Midgett, Blake Sawyer and coach Nicki Litchford. Madison, Gabbi, Hunter and Raylee went on to mark as the senior team at the state contest where Madison Bagley was 2nd high individual, Hunter Frachiseur was 4th high, Raylee VanVoast was 15th, and Gabbi Litchford was 19th. They will compete in the National Competition this fall.

City of Lockesburg to send out income survey to city residents in hopes of qualifying for water tower improvement grant     4/23/2021

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg City Council addressed a number of issues during its council meeting this week, including a survey for city residents to fill out in hopes of helping the city secure an improvement grant for the municipal water tower. During the meeting, councilors heard from Blake Harrell of the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District regarding the survey and grant. Blake informed the city it would only qualify for the water tower grant if it could prove at least 51 percent of Lockesburg residents are identified as low-income. Currently, that figure is just below the threshold at 47 percent, according to the 2020 Census. Harrell said the city did have an alternative path to secure the grant. A survey sent to each water customer and then returned could possibly bring the city to the 51 percent low-income level. The only other alternative would be for the city to borrow the needed funds. After a lengthy discussion, the city council approved sending surveys to each water customer in Lockesburg. City officials will attempt to complete outstanding surveys by following up with door-to-door visits. Customers will be asked to complete the survey and return them as soon as possible in order to help the city secure the water tower improvement grant. In other business, Wastewater Manager Matt Webb addressed the council concerning an increase in the rates for water and sewer taps. The council approved setting the charge for each new tap at 10 percent over the cost of materials. Webb also updated the council on improvements currently underway on Peck Street. A new culvert has been installed and estimates are being sought to chip and seal the road. Webb added the city is researching the possibility of installing speed bumps on the road. Several other items discussed included setting a countywide cleanup day on May 22 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sign up for the event will be held at the Lockesburg city park pavilion on the day of the event. The council also approved this year’s Fourth of July celebration. Lockesburg will host the event on Sunday, July 4.

Sevier County Libraries announce story time events, other activities     4/23/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher is providing us with some info on upcoming activities hosted by local libraries. Wednesday, May 5 starting at 4 p.m., the De Queen Library will host its first in-house story time since COVID-19 entered Arkansas last year. This will be a Mother’s Day-themed Story Time and the first 20 children that attend will be able to give their mom a carnation for Mother’s Day. Librarians do ask that masks are worn for the safety of everyone who attends. A second story time will be held Wednesday, May 19 with Kelsie. The library’s Summer Reading Program is just around the corner so be on the lookout for news about this always-popular event. Ms. Catherine Smith will be teaching a basic beginner “Crochet Class” in May. The first class is May 4 at 5 p.m. and is free to the public. This will be an introductory class and includes information attendees need like what kind of materials to bring to future classes. Fisher said dominos will be back on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. beginning May 5. The library also has board games, bingo, cards and chess set up. The De Queen Library is continuing its “Book Yard Sale. Books are 10 cents each or buy a bag for $1. The Horatio Library will host two story times on May 1 and May 15. Check out the library’s Facebook page for additional details. Domino games are back at the Horatio Library starting May 7 at 9 a.m. Everyone is invited to come by, enjoy the fun and catch up with some old friends. Visitors to the library are asked to wear a mask.

Drug Take Back Day event in De Queen tomorrow     4/23/2021

DE QUEEN – Local and state law enforcement agencies in Arkansas are encouraging Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets and dispose of any unused or expired medications during Take Back Day tomorrow. Arkansans will be able to conveniently use one of 250 drop-off locations across the state between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Drug Take Back Day, Saturday, April 24. Cleaning out medicine cabinets and turning the expired, unused medications over to law enforcement during a Drug Take Back event can and will save lives, say law enforcement officials. They stress it is more important now than ever that Arkansans properly dispose of these prescription drugs. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and the district Drug Task Force will host a Drug Take Back event on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Walmart in De Queen. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office also maintains a permanent Drug Take Back drop off bin at its location on Robinson Road. The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office hosts Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice a year in partnership with numerous state and local agencies. Event sites are held at various locations across the State but year-round locations are also available and can be found at ARTakeBack.org. Since the program began, more than 206 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is over 412,600 thousand pounds of individual pills.

Howard, Polk Counties report additional deaths this week due to COVID     4/23/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County number two currently, indicating no net increase in active cases this week. Total cases grew just slightly to 2,786. Deaths from the virus since last spring remain at 24. In neighboring counties, Little River County reported one additional death due to COVID-19 this week for a total of 42 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw an uptick this week and now number nine. Total cases are 1,235. Howard County also reported an additional death this week for a total of 25. Active cases currently number two. Total cases since the pandemic are 1,647. Polk County is reporting nine active cases at this time. Cumulative cases number 1,976. Deaths remain at 71. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 352 cases of COVID-19 statewide for a cumulative total of just over 334,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases grew by 139 to 1,934 currently. Two deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,708 since last spring. Currently 175 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

CASA presenting “Best of the Blues” Day tomorrow for Child Abuse Awareness Month     4/22/2021

DE QUEEN – April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and members of one local advocacy group are hoping to raise more attention to the ongoing issue of child abuse in Arkansas and across the nation.

Martin added that residents of Sevier County can help raise awareness of this growing issue and have a little fun in the process. Throughout this month, CASA is presenting “Best of the Blues Day.” Folks in the community are asked to wear blue on Fridays, grab their co-workers, take a photo and share them on the CASA Ouachita Region’s Facebook page. The photo with the most likes will win a pizza party at the end of the month. One picture from each of CASA’s counties, including Polk, Montgomery and Sevier, will be chosen. She said groups can post a photo each Friday to increase their chances to win. There are just two Fridays left to participate. In addition, Martin said CASA is always looking for volunteers to serve as advocates for children in a foster program or going through a court process. She said CASA is one of the best ways for ordinary people to become a voice for abused and neglected children. For more information, call CASA’s De Queen office at (870) 518-4098.

FRIENDS hold economic development meeting, discuss potential for chain hotel in Sevier County     4/22/2021

DE QUEEN – FRIENDS held its monthly board of directors meeting on April 16, 2021 at 11:30 AM on the UA Cossatot De Queen Campus. In attendance were President: Mike Branson, Vice President: Greg Revels, Secretary/Treasurer: Jay Bunyard, Angie Walker, Dr. Steve Cole, Sevier County Judge: Greg Ray, Randell Wright, Tiffany Maurer, and Kristen Pike (remotely). The board began the meeting by approving the minutes from the February 12th board of directors meeting and receiving a financial update that the foundation has successfully secured enough funding to provide the economic development department with an operating budget for three years (2021 through 2023). The board voted to create a spending threshold for the economic development director to maintain transparency in spending operations for the department. Kristen Pike, the Regional Director of North American Development for Best Western Hotels, presented to the group on Sevier County’s outlook for a chain hotel. She described the costs associated with a hotel project for Sevier County and made recommendations on the specifications needed for a successful project. The board discussed the importance of a county-specific Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy to use as a holistic approach to economic development for Sevier County in the form of a strategic plan. The current CEDS for Sevier County is provided by Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District but applies to the eleven county service area and doesn’t directly address Sevier County’s opportunities and goals. The board is contacting state economic development and research agencies for guidance on creating a CEDS to benefit Sevier County as a whole and will address their findings during their next meeting in May. Tiffany Maurer updated the group on the ACT Work Ready Communities Boot Camp she and David Sirmon attended on behalf of Sevier County in March and the goals assigned to the county to achieve a Work Ready Communities designation. She notified the group that ACT now considers supporting businesses as those that either Recognize or Recommend an ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT NCRC) from their applicants. A Recognizing business acknowledges that they understand what the ACT NCRC is. A Recommending business acknowledges that they give preference to applicants with an NCRC for promotion over those without the certificate. She is in the process of getting a community team together to encourage adoption of the ACT WRC program. For more information or questions about becoming a member of FRIENDS, please contact Tiffany Maurer at 870-584-1184 or email tmaurer@cccua.edu.

Hospital board conducting CEO interviews this week     4/22/2021

DE QUEEN – Members of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors are holding interviews this week for the new hospital’s administrator position. The board met earlier this week to begin narrowing down its applications for the hospital’s CEO/administrator position. The CEO/administrator position will be responsible for overseeing construction of the new hospital as that process completes as well as heading all day-to-day operations once the medical center opens in 2022. The position will include a salary of between $160,000 and $200,000. Board Chairman Dr. Steve Cole said the board plans to announce its CEO hire at its May meeting. Plans are to have the position filled and on the job by June 1.

Create Bridges Team to host business seminar in De Queen     4/22/2021

DE QUEEN – The Create Bridges Team is offering a free seminar in De Queen to assist those with the dream of starting and owning their own business.

The free business coaching seminar will be held on Tuesday, May 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day. The event is scheduled at the office of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce in downtown De Queen. The seminar will be presented in both English and Spanish. Although free, an appointment is required to attend the seminar. Appointments can be set by calling (720) 477-9659 or by emailing mwiley@uada.edu.

Fundraiser for GVFD will be May 1     4/22/2021

The Gillham Volunteer Fire Department will host its annual BBQ Fundraiser next Saturday, May 1 at the Gillham Fire Station. Food will begin being served starting at 11 a.m. and continue to 4 p.m. Both pork and chicken plates are available with all the fixings. This will be a drive-thru event this year and by donation. The Gillham Volunteer Fire Department is still selling chances on a gun raffle fundraiser for a Thompson Center 6.5 Creedmoor bolt-action rifle. The rifle will include a vortex scope and four boxes of ammo. Chances are $10 each or six for $50. The drawing will be held on May 3 with Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin drawing the winning ticket. The winner will not have to be present but must be at least 18 years of age and be able to pass a background check. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to purchase equipment for the Gillham Volunteer Fire Department. Tickets can be purchased through 1 p.m. on May 3 by contacting Gillham Fire Chief Marc Rosson at 584-9434 or by contacting any Gillham fighter.

Arkansas law enforcement agencies warn of package scam through texts     4/22/2021

Arkansas law enforcement agencies are warning residents of another new scam targeting those in the Natural State. The latest trend from these annoying scam artists comes as a text message telling Arkansans a package is being delivered to their home and they must click on the link in the message. In reality, there is no package, the text does not come from a legitimate delivery company, and the scammer is just trying to hack into a user’s phone and steal personal information. Agencies are providing a few tips for Arkansans who experience one of these phishing text message scams: -Do not reply to unsolicited text messages and do not click on the links in the message. If you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Sprint subscriber, you can report spam texts to your carrier by copying the original message and forwarding it to the number 7726 (SPAM), free of charge. -If you find unauthorized charges on your cell phone bill, report those to your cell phone provider and ask that the charges be removed. -Check with your wireless carrier to see if it has options available to reduce text message spam, such as blocking all text messages that originate from a computer or the internet. Texts sent by an email address, as opposed to direct-dialed texts, are those most likely to be scams. -Apple iPhones and Google Android users have provided instructions for customers to block specific numbers. -Protect your phone by setting up software to update automatically. The software updates can give you critical protection against security risks. -Use a multi-factor authentication process to protect your accounts which offers extra security by requiring two or more login credentials to log in to an account on your phone. This could be a passcode, fingerprint, or even your face. -Backing up your data is the most secure way to protect your information. Make a copy of your files, photos and other important data on your phone and make sure it is connected to a cloud storage device or external hard drive, not connected to your home network. For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

Horatio Elementary registration for new students is April 26-27     4/22/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary will host registration for students new to the district on Monday, April 26 and again on Tuesday, April 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. both days. Parents who want to send their children to Horatio Public Schools for the 2021-2022 school year are reminded the deadline for school choice is May 1. School choice applications can be picked up from the administration office.

De Queen City Council approves $484k bid for park splash pad     4/21/2021

DE QUEEN – Work is likely to begin soon on De Queen’s new splash pad following the acceptance of a construction bid Tuesday night.

During last night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council, Mayor Jeff Brown said the city received a solitary bid for the splash pad construction project. The $484,000 bid came from RJR Enterprises, based out of Rogers, and was unanimously approved by the city council. Brown said work will begin this spring with construction likely to be completed this summer. He added the city may have to cover some additional costs, including a fence around the splash pad and related infrastructure costs. The splash pad itself however is being funded through a $480,000 donation made to the city by Pilgrim’s last year through part of its Hometown Strong initiative. A splash pad is a large water-themed public park attraction usually only seen in much bigger communities. They are praised in other cities for the cool space they provide without the need for a lifeguard because there’s little to no standing water. Splash pads are also known for drawing in residents far and wide during the warmer months. Brown said this latest community project by Pilgrim’s goes “above and beyond their ongoing support of the community.” In a press release Pilgrim’s said the company worked with local leaders to determine where the funds could best help meet immediate and longer-term community needs. Pilgrim’s De Queen/Nashville Complex Manager Eddie Halter said this project will “allow team members and neighbors to enjoy a fun outdoor recreation activity and provide a place for families and friends to come together and socialize. Supporting projects that help improve the quality of life for our community is something we are very passionate about at Pilgrim’s, and we’re grateful our Hometown Strong program is making this possible.” Combined with $95,000 in new equipment slated for Herman Dierks Park this year, the splash pad will help make the park an even greater attraction for future visitors. The donation made by Pilgrim’s for the splash pad is on top of the $225,000 donated by the company last year for construction of a community walking trail at the new hospital in Sevier County. The one-mile-long lighted and landscaped trail will weave through the grounds of the Sevier County Medical Center and will be open for use by the whole community. Pilgrim’s made the donation through its Hometown Strong initiative to bring investment and community projects to the areas in which it serves. Pilgrim’s De Queen/Nashville facility employs more than 1,400 people with an annual payroll of more than $53 million. The facility supports 238 growers, paying them more than $36 million per year for their livestock. Consistent with its long-term commitment to the local economy, the Pilgrim’s De Queen/Nashville complex has invested more than $134 million in capital improvements over the last five years. In other business, the city council voted to apply for a grant that, if received, would pay for sidewalks from Coulter Drive to the De Queen school administration building. The 80/20 split grant would require the city to contribute around $120,000 for the sidewalks. Brown said the city will not know whether it received the grant until next year. Both Brown and the city council expressed the need for a new sidewalk to connect to those on Coulter Drive to increase the safety of students who walk to school. Finally, the city council accepted to spend $2,500 for lifeguard training this summer for lifeguards at the city pool. This will provide training for 14 lifeguards.

Benefit set for May 1 for Wilma Middaugh     4/21/2021

EAGLETOWN – A benefit dinner and auction is scheduled for next month to help a local resident recuperate from damages suffered to her home during February’s winter storms. Broken Bow Masonic Lodge #441 is partnering with family and friends to hold the benefit for Wilma Middaugh. Wilma’s house was damaged during the snow storms, which caused the home to shift and then collapse. The house is beyond repair and all funds raised for Wilma will go to help her find new living arrangements. She was an employee of the former De Queen Hospital. The event will be held Saturday, May 1 at the Eagletown School Cafeteria. A bean and bread dinner will be served at 6 p.m. Cost is $7 for adults and $5 for children under 12. An auction will follow the meal at 6 p.m. in the Eagletown Gym. Wednesday Night Lights this evening at Leopard Stadium     4/21/2021 DE QUEEN – The De Queen Leopards Athletic Department will host Wednesday Night Lights this evening for some fun on the field and to learn more about the district’s football program. All third through 11th grade boys are welcome to come out starting at 8:15 this evening. Parents and the entire community are also welcomed to come out to Wednesday Night Lights at Leopard Stadium to see Leopards football in action and meet De Queen’s football coaches.

Dedication ceremony this Thursday at Hendrix Field in Horatio     4/21/2021

HORATIO – A dedication ceremony will be held this Thursday, April 22 to celebrate the dedication of the new walking trail at Hendrix Field in Horatio. The trial is being dedicated to Jan Hendrix. The event will begin at 12 noon and continue through 2 p.m. Activities include face painting for kids, vendor booths, hot dogs and plenty of family events. The event will also include a presentation for a $75,000 check for a fun park at the field. All are invited to attend.

Grand Opening for splash pad at Ashdown City Park     4/21/2021

ASHDOWN – The Little River County Chamber of Commerce will host a Grand Opening Ceremony on April 30 to inaugurate the new splash pad at Ashdown City Park. The event will begin at 4 p.m. at the park. A raffle fundraiser will be held in addition to a benefit fish fry for $10 a plate. Raffle tickets are $50 each and can be purchased from any member of the Ashdown Community Foundation. Funds raised at the event will go towards future city park projects.

Arkansas officials express concern over slow pace of vaccinations in the state     4/21/2021

Public officials in Arkansas continue to express frustration that demand for COVID-19 vaccines in the state is not matching supply. During a brief COVID-19 Taskforce press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is lagging behind the national average in terms of vaccination rates. He said Arkansans remain hesitant of the vaccine but stressed the need to overcome those concerns to help ensure an end to the pandemic. He added the state is behind on its vaccination schedule which aimed to have 50 percent of the state fully vaccinated by the end of April.

Currently, 2.3 million COVID-19 vaccines have been received by the state. Of those, nearly 1.6 million – or around 68 percent – have been given. The state is reporting around 638,000 Arkansans are now fully immunized. Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero briefly discussed the agency’s focus on studying the spread of COVID-19 variants in Arkansas. In particular, he said the UK variant has seen a 70 percent increase in Arkansas over the past week.

Regarding the state’s COVID-19 figures, the Department of Health reported 198 new cases of COVID-19 across Arkansas on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 333,709 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases grew by 15 to 1,804 over the previous 24 hours. Deaths increased by seven over the same period to 5,706 since last spring. Hospitalizations increased by 13 to leave 177 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Four arrested on felony drug charges following raid on Horatio apartment     4/20/2021

HORATIO – Four Sevier County residents were arrested last week and are facing felony drug charges following a raid on their home by local law enforcement.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, on April 15 deputies and members of the South Central Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at an apartment on 110 Bruce Street in Horatio. During the search officers reported finding a “substantial” amount of illegal narcotics and paraphernalia. Four Horatio residents were arrested following the search. Those included 47-year-old Benji Davis, 40-year-old Katrina Lemons, 19-year-old Levi Lemons and 20-year-old Justin Perez. Davis and Katrina Lemons were charged with possession of controlled substance with purpose to deliver, drug paraphernalia, maintaining a drug premise and distribution of controlled substances within proximity to a certain facility. Levi Lemons and Perez were charged with possession of a controlled substance with purpose to deliver as well as distribution of controlled substances within proximity to a certain facility. All four were arrested and transported to the Sevier County Jail without incident.

Walking for Christ: Ashdown man raises thousands of dollars each year through benefit walk     4/20/2021
The full audio story is available here:
The partial transcript is featured below:
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Jim Cross, pastor of Ashdown United Methodist Church, has raised over $160,000 in eight years for charitable causes in Little River County through his annual Impact Walking for Christ event. He will host the ninth event this Saturay.

If you happen to drive through Little River County this Saturday, you’re likely to see one guy walking on the side of the road at a very determined pace. His vehicle didn’t break down nor is he doing it just for the exercise. In fact, he’ll be walking 30 miles on Saturday to help raise thousands of dollars for those in need in Little River County.

Jim Cross, pastor of Ashdown United Methodist Church, will be once again undergoing the Impact 2021 Walking for Christ charitable walkathon in Little River County this Saturday. This will be Cross’ ninth year to organize the event. Over the past eight years he’s walked during the event to show service to God while also raising an absolutely incredible amount of money to help his community.

Cross is no stranger to community service and finding ways to help local folks in need. Last year he helped organize an effort to provide free meals in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic – an effort which didn’t just assist those facing food insecurity, but also aided the local business community by patronizing restaurants in Little River County. Cross and his church also organized a huge shoe and clothing drive for youth in the county.

ross said he had no idea his Walking for Christ benefit would grow to see the impact it now has. Raising over $160,000 through the event over the past eight years has allowed Cross and his church to aid so many organizations, groups and individuals over those years.

This year the benefit walk will grow to include a memorial scholarship fund in memory of CJ Harris. Cedrick “CJ” Harris passed away earlier this year following an ATV accident over the spring break holiday. He was just 14-years-old.

Cross said he couldn’t be more thankful to – and proud of – his community for helping to make the Impact Walking for Christ event such an incredible success. He said the event has seen an outpouring of support from all over Little River County and beyond.

Following Cross’ 30-mile journey, he along with event organizers will host a cornhole tournament and BBQ chicken dinner at Ashdown United Methodist Church. He invites everyone to come by and help join in the fun while supporting charitable causes in Little River County.

The cornhole tournament and other festivities will kick off starting at 12 noon this Saturday, April 24 at Ashdown United Methodist Church located at 145 E. Commerce Street in Ashdown.

Freeze likely in Southwest Arkansas Tuesday night/Wednesday morning     4/20/2021

DE QUEEN – A cold front bringing freezing temperatures to much of Arkansas is expected to arrive late Tuesday night, the National Weather Service warned on Monday. A Freeze Warning has been issued for parts of Arkansas for Tuesday night and Wednesday morning with a late season freeze expected. A freeze watch remains in effect for much of northern and western Arkansas as these locations may experience freezing temperatures, according to the National Weather Service. The freeze watch extends as far south as Polk County but forecasters aren’t ruling out a freeze for Southwest Arkansas including Sevier. Forecasters are predicting a rather unseasonably chilly low of 34 degrees in Sevier County tonight with areas of frost after 2 a.m. Widespread frost is expected before 8 a.m. If you have planted anything that is sensitive to temperatures in this range, make preparations to cover them. Nightly lows will increase into the forties and fifties starting Wednesday night.

Two Sevier County 4-H’ers move on to district competition     4/20/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H held their annual Chicken BBQ this month. Twenty-two youth signed up to compete for a chance to go on to District 4-H BBQ. Each 4-H’er cooked a whole chicken, cut in half, on a charcoal grill.  The 4-H’er could use the seasoning of their choice. They were judged on how well they could start a charcoal fire, control the fire, food safety and handling, and how well they cooked the chicken. When the chicken was done, they picked their best half to be judged on appearance, color, doneness, and taste. Organizers said the Brothers Keepers Motorcycle Club 34 were very helpful in judging the competition and thanked Pilgrim’s for donating the chicken. The top two Senior 4-H’ers will compete at the District Poultry BBQ that will be held at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Arkadelphia on May 7. They will be given the choice to cook either a chicken or a turkey breast. The top two seniors that will represent Sevier County at the District BBQ are Laikyn Morris and Alley Stinson. For more information on Sevier County 4-H, call 584-3013.

Horatio kindergarten registration is today and tomorrow     4/20/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Public Schools will host kindergarten pre-registration on today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again tomorrow, April 21 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. To register for the 2021-2022 kindergarten class at Horatio Public Schools, your child must be five on or before Aug. 1. Parents must bring proof of residency, birth certificate, social security card and immunization record. If you live outside the Horatio School District and would like to send your child to Horatio Schools next year, please fill out a school choice form at the administration office by April 30.

Arkansas may see increase in hunting, fishing licenses     4/20/2021

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is working with Arkansas state legislators to address concerns about failing and outdated infrastructure that provides habitat for the state’s fish and wildlife and public recreation opportunities. To tackle this challenge, they are working together to propose a modest increase to basic resident hunting and fishing licenses, which have remained unchanged since 1990 and 1984, respectively. Other states across the country have periodically adjusted their license fees to keep up with inflation. In fact, every state in the continental U.S. has increased its fees since 1996 to make investments into outdoor recreation, and conservation of fish and wildlife. Arkansas has not increased resident license fees in more than 30 years. The buying power of a $10.50 fishing license set in 1984 is a little over $4 today. Any increases to resident hunting and fishing licenses that the AGFC is authorized to make through this legislation would be earmarked to address deferred maintenance and major renovations to public lands and waters throughout The Natural State. Additionally, the AGFC would be responsible to report on the progress of this effort twice per year. The AGFC maintains and manages more than 400 boat ramps, 50 lakes, five fish hatcheries and nine nature and education centers throughout Arkansas. It also owns more than 380,000 acres of wildlife management areas and co-manages more than 3 million additional acres with state, federal and private partners. Most of the lakes, streams and wildlife management areas the AGFC maintains around the state were built decades ago, and much of that original infrastructure has far exceeded its life expectancy. Water-control structures, spillways, levees and roads all deteriorate with time and use. AGFC officials said recent failures of water-control structures at lakes including Wilhelmina can all can be attributed to age and changes in the surrounding landscape; each causing major issues for anglers, boaters and surrounding landowners. The AGFC said raising fishing and hunting license fees will be one of several ways the agency plans to address its infrastructure issues in the coming years.

Tickets for AHS production of Frozen on sale this week     4/20/2021

ASHDOWN – Tickets are on sale this week for the AHS Panther Theatre production of Frozen, Jr. Tickets will be on sale at the Ashdown Administration Building from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week. Tickets are $5 each.  Performances for the community will be hosted Saturday, April 24 with performances at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. A final showing for the community will be held on Sunday, April 25 in the Ashdown High School Auditorium. District officials advise that masks are required to attend the performances.

Arkansas moratorium on utility disconnections will end May 3     4/20/2021

The Arkansas Public Service Commission is issuing a reminder that the state’s COVID-19 utility service disconnection moratorium will end May 3. Consumers with past due balances have again been receiving disconnection notices to their mailing addresses from their utility companies providing at least a 35-day grace period before shut-off notices will be sent. This applies to customers of Entergy, SWEPCO, CenterPoint Energy and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, among other energy providers. For those still struggling to catch up on their utility bills due to the financial impact of COVID-19, it’s important to take action immediately to seek assistance to avoid disconnection after May 3. Verify what you owe directly with your utility company. Information, including what is owed, must be provided in writing to each customer with a past due balance. Contact the utility company and discuss a payment plan if your bill is unaffordable. Utility companies are required to provide information regarding available payment options on their website and social media platforms. Utility companies are required to offer plans which provide a minimum of 18 months to repay any past due balances with no down payment required. Utility companies must also provide information regarding funds that may be available through assistance agencies or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Law enforcement agencies also warn consumers to not fall for fake calls about utility bills. Verify the status of your account directly with the utility company. You should contact them. Do not assume that someone who contacts you works for the utility company. It could be a scam. The Public Service Commission does not regulate municipal utilities or private water companies, and customers of those utility companies are not affected by the moratorium order.

Ashdown woman charged for alleged assault on jailer, escape attempt     4/19/2021

ASHDOWN – An Ashdown woman facing drug charges has been charged with additional felonies after an alleged assault on a jail employee and a failed escape attempt.

According to records from the Little River Circuit Court, felony charges of first degree attempted escape and second degree battery were filed last week against 44-year-old Rhonda Curtis of Ashdown. The additional charges stem from an incident on March 30 in which Curtis is alleged to have assaulted an employee of the Little River County Jail and then tried to escape.

The affidavit alleges Curtis tried to break free from the jailer after leaving the Little River Courthouse that day for a court appearance. Authorities say Curtis was able to slip one hand from her handcuffs and then struck the jailer several times. She then reportedly tried to pull away and escape custody but was restrained by the jailer after the struggle with assistance from two other jail employees.

The affidavit continues by stating camera footage showed Curtis striking the jailer and kicking her while attempting to pull away.

Curtis has been charged with first degree escape, a class D felony which carries a sentence upon conviction of three to 10 years in prison. In addition, Curtis is also facing a felony charge of second degree battery which could carry an additional sentence of six years in prison. Curtis was in the custody of the Little River County Jail for a drug-related charge following her arrest in late March.

FEMA to provide financial relief for COVID-related funeral expenses     4/19/2021

DE QUEEN – Local funeral homes are informing citizens of Southwest Arkansas and Southeast Oklahoma that beginning  last week, families that experienced the death of a loved one due to COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $9,000 in funeral assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Sarah Casteel of Wilkerson Funeral Home stated two pieces of legislation recently passed by Congress – the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – authorized FEMA to provide financial assistance to families that incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses after January 20, 2020. Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral and memorial services, and burial, interment or cremation. FEMA encourages families that may be eligible to start gathering the following documentation: An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are considered sufficient. Funeral expense documents (e.g., receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and dates the funeral expenses were incurred. Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. Funeral assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance; financial assistance received from voluntary agencies; federal/state/local/tribal/territorial government programs or agencies; or other sources. If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant(s). Applicants can also apply for assistance for more than one individual who died. The FEMA website has complete information about eligibility requirements, documentation applicants will be required to provide, and how to start the application process. Visit https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.

Rep. Vaught provides update on tax credit bills passed by House last week    4/19/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has provided an update detailing legislative activities within the Arkansas House of Representatives. Last week, the House passed several bills which will increase various tax credits and exemptions. Those bills include: HB1157, which would double the income tax deduction for a teacher’s qualified classroom expense from $250 to $500. HB1513 creates an income tax credit for up to $3,500 for retired law enforcement officers who work cold cases for Arkansas State Police. HB1196 would provide a sales and use tax exemption for water used by a poultry farm. HB1054 allows for sales tax exemptions of isolated sales at special events. HB1555 allows the Division of Heritage to issue up to $8 million in historic rehabilitation income tax credits each year. The current maximum amount of credits given is $4 million. HB1160 would increase the sales tax exemption on used motor vehicles. Currently, used cars sold for under $4,000 are exempt from sales tax. This would increase the threshold to $7,500. You can find agendas and links to live streams of all House meetings at www.arkansashouse.org.

AHS Senior Robin Roy named Governor’s Distinguished Scholar    4/19/2021

Robin Roy

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School Senior Robin Roy has been named an Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholar for Little River County this year. In order to even be considered for the honor, a minimum composite score of 32 in the ACT must be made AND either a 3.50 academic grade point average or selection as a National Achievement Finalist or National Merit Finalist. According to a press release sent by the Governor’s office, this scholarship program is deisgned to promote academic excellence and to encourage the state’s most talented graduates to enroll in Arkansas post-secondary educational institutions. This prestigious award is offered by the State of Arkansas and available for a span of four academic years. It can be used at any approved Arkansas public or private college or university. The scholarship can be used for tuition, mandatory fees, room and board. Robin plans to attend Pulaski Tech in their Culinary Arts Program. While at Ashdown High School, she has been on the Quiz Bowl Team, in National Honor Society, Beta Club, and FBLA.

COVID-19 active cases remain near zero levels in SWAR    4/19/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County number just three currently, indicating no net increase in active cases in over a week. Total cases have not increased since Thursday and currently number 2,784. Deaths from the virus since last spring remain at 24. In neighboring counties, Little River County is reporting six active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Total cases number 1,232 with a total of 41 deaths since May of 2020. Active cases in Howard County remain low, with just two currently confirmed cases in the county. Total cases number 1,646 with 24 total deaths. Polk County is also reporting just two cases of COVID-19 at this time. Cumulative cases number 1,968 since the pandemic began. Deaths total 71. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 45 cases of COVID-19 statewide for a cumulative total 333,452 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 50 to 1,910 currently. One death was reported yesterday for a total of 5,694 since last spring. Currently 161 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Volunteers meeting Saturday for work on De Queen Lake mountain bike trail     4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – A group of volunteers working on the construction of a mountain bike trail at De Queen Lake are inviting anyone interested to a work day planned for Saturday, April 17.

Organizers will be working on the trail between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday. Everyone will meet at Pine Ridge Park at De Queen Lake. Anyone interested in helping out is asked to bring some gloves and good hiking shoes. This is a great chance to enjoy a beautiful day, meet some new people and help build what is sure to be a great attraction to Sevier County when completed. Water and snacks will be provided. Call (870) 279-5009 for more details or visit AMP Fitness on Facebook. Also, check out our interview with Organizer Erik Smith who spoke to us about the project and its significance to the area:

Community cleanup event in De Queen on Saturday     4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – Local volunteer organizers are preparing to host a community clean up in De Queen this weekend. Organizers are calling all community members who want to volunteer and make a difference in the community by helping clean up litter are asked to meet at Herman Dierks Park on Saturday, April 17. Everyone interested is asked to meet at the park beginning at 1 p.m. Organizers are also asking anyone who can to donate cleaning supplies such as gloves and trash bags. For more information, contact Jonathan Buenrostro at 784-4468 or check out the Facebook event page for more details.

Drug Take Back Day is April 24; events scheduled in De Queen, throughout Arkansas     4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – Local and state law enforcement agencies in Arkansas are encouraging Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets and dispose of any unused or expired medications during Take Back Day later this month. Arkansans will be able to conveniently use one of 250 drop-off locations across the state between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Drug Take Back Day, Saturday, April 24. Cleaning out medicine cabinets and turning the expired, unused medications over to law enforcement during a Drug Take Back event can and will save lives, say law enforcement officials. They stress it is more important now than ever that Arkansans properly dispose of these prescription drugs. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and the district Drug Task Force will host a Drug Take Back event on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Walmart in De Queen. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office also maintains a permanent Drug Take Back drop off bin at its location on Robinson Road. The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office hosts Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice a year in partnership with numerous state and local agencies. Event sites are held at various locations across the State but year-round locations are also available and can be found at ARTakeBack.org. Since the program began, more than 206 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is over 412,600 thousand pounds of individual pills.

UA Cossatot reopens CARES act relief grants for local college students    4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot recently received an additional $387,000 in federal money to fund student financial relief. UA Cossatot re-opened the application this week to distribute CARES Act funds for spring 2021 students. Students who qualify for the grant will receive $500 if they are enrolled in nine credit hours or more. Students who qualify for the grant will receive $250 if they are enrolled in three to eight credit hours. There will be no deadline to apply; however, funds are limited. Eligible students will continue to be awarded until all funds are disbursed. A change in the most recent award guidelines now allows dual-enrolled high school students to apply for the new funds. The CARES Grant is intended to help offset expenses students experienced because of the COVID-19 health emergency. Student applicants need to indicate their financial needs as a result of COVID-19 on their application. UA Cossatot CARES Grant applications will be sent to student’s college and personal emails as well as a mailed letter with a QR code to apply. For more information on eligibility requirements and a list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit www.cccua.edu/CARES.

Annual Overturf Pie Supper is Saturday night    4/16/2021

GILLHAM – The annual Overturf Pie Supper is scheduled for this Saturday, April 17. Festivities will begin at 7 p.m. that evening at the Overturf Cemetery, located three and a half miles northeast of Gillham. Turn off of Gillham Lake Road and watch for signs to the cemetery. The annual fundraising event will include a prettiest girl contest as well as ugliest man. Donations are greatly welcomed and can be made by sending a check to Lester Overturf at 108 Sixth Street, Gillham, AR 71841. Please make checks payable to the Overturf Cemetery Fund. All proceeds raised are for the upkeep of the Church and cemetery. For more information, contact Lester Overturf at 784-2085, Judy Smith at 582-2284 or Floyd Morris, Jr. at 784-3629.

Sevier County 4-H hold O’Rama even in March    4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H recently held their annual Outdoor County get together and competition, the 4-H O’Rama. Due to COVID, the Outdoor O’Rama was held over various dates throughout March.The competitive events included gun safety and BB gun marksmanship, sports fishing and bicycles.  The winners of these events will be eligible to compete at the District 4-H O’Rama held in June. Even though it was a COVID year, 42 4-H’ers competed, which broke the record for the highest number of participants ever. First place winners from each competition are as follows: Drake Click received first place in the Junior Gun Safety and BB Gun competition. Hunter Frachiseur took first place in the senior division of this competition. Landon Frachiseur placed first in junior category of the Reel into Sports Fishing event. Hunter Frachiseur placed first in the senior category. In the junior bicycle competition, Blair Bissell received top place while Dori Bartek was first in the senior category. Gun Safety and BB Gun – JUNIORS:  1st – Drake Click, 2nd – Jake Seymour, 3rd –Ty Wagner, 4th – Charlie Collins, and 5th – Kaedon Davis. SENIORS:  1st – Hunter Frachiseur, 2nd – Ethan Wolcott, 3rd – Laikyn Morris, 4th – Brayden Frachiseur, and 5th – Kinlee Stivers. Reel into Sports Fishing – JUNIORS: 1st – Landon Frachiseur, 2nd – Drake Click, 3rd – Pace Frachiseur, 4th – Jake Seymour, and 5th – Keegan McCoy.  SENIORS:  1st – Hunter Frachiseur, 2nd – Brayden Frachiseur, 3rd – Ethan Wolcott, 4th – Kinlee Stivers, and 5th – Laikyn Morris Bicycle – JUNIORS:  1st – Blair Bissell, 2nd – James Bartek, 3rd – Keegan McCoy, 4th– Wade Melton, and 5th – Libbie Bartek. SENIORS: 1st – Dori Bartek. For more information on 4-H, contact Sevier County Extension Service at (870) 584-3013.

COVID-19 figures continue to remain low in SWAR    4/16/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continue to remain at near zero levels, with just three active cases currently reported. Total cases now number 2,784 with the vast majority of those having recovered. Deaths from the virus since last spring remain at 24. In neighboring counties, Little River County is reporting just four active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Total cases number 1,227 with a total of 41 deaths since May of 2020. Active cases in Howard County are also near zero levels, with just three currently confirmed cases in the county. Total cases number 1,645 with 24 total deaths. Polk County is reporting three active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Cumulative cases number 1,967 since the pandemic began. Deaths total 71. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 283 cases of COVID-19 statewide for a cumulative total of just under 333,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases grew by 128 to 1,843 currently. Six deaths were reported yesterday for a total of 5,686 since last spring. Currently 153 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

De Queen School Board approves end-of-year compensation for teachers, staff     4/15/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen teachers and staff are set to receive some extra compensation at the end of the school year following a decision by the De Queen School Board Tuesday night.

That evening and under the recommendation of Superintendent Jason Sanders, the school board voted to provide end-of-the-year compensation to all certified and classified employees within the school district. The bonus equals $17 per day over 178 days for certified employees like teachers and $8.50 per day over 178 days for classified employees like bus drivers and custodians. The total days chosen – 178 – equals the number of days the De Queen School District was open for onsite instruction this school year. Sanders said it’s a testament to his teachers and staff that classes were kept in-person so long during the pandemic. In contrast, many schools across the nation have been closed to onsite instruction for a year now because of COVID-19 concerns. Sanders said the De Queen School District is fortunate it’s been able to conduct classes more or less uninterrupted this school year. He said De Queen’s teachers deserve some extra compensation for this accomplishment. The teaching during the pandemic, Sanders said, imposed many extra duties and strains on the profession. The additional compensation, Sanders added, will be paid for through money received by the school from the federal CARES Act. At this moment, the De Queen School District has around $10.2 million in federal funds made available through the COVID relief bills passed in 2020 and 2021. These funds, however, are restricted in what they can be used for. In addition, the district has three years to spend the money. Assistant Superintendent Paul Shelton stated the lion’s share of these funds will be used for student remediation. In particular, resources will be aimed at the district’s virtual learners and those students who fell behind due to the early closure of schools during the 2019-2020 school year. The district recently identified around 80 percent of its virtual students in need of some remedial instruction – a similar problem encountered by nearly every school district in the nation and referred to nationally as the “Grade Depression.” Shelton said this effort will be made through hiring additional teachers, reducing class sizes and increased tutoring opportunities for students. Shelton added other federal COVID relief funds will go towards more classroom technology as well as additional cleaning staff and supplies.

AHS Senior Cole Spigner named Arkansas Governor’s Scholar      4/15/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School Senior Cole Spigner has been named an Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholar for Little River County this year.  In order to even be considered for the honor, a minimum composite score of 32 in the ACT must be made AND either a 3.50 academic grade point average or selection as a National Achievement Finalist or National Merit Finalist. This is a scholarship program seeks to promote academic excellence and to encourage the state’s most talented graduates to enroll in Arkansas post-secondary educational institutions is created and established which shall be cited as the Arkansas Governor’s Scholars Program.  According to a press release, “This prestigious award offered by the State of Arkansas is available for a span of four academic years.  It can be used at any approved Arkansas public or private college or university.  The scholarship can be used for tuition, mandatory fees, room and board.”

Cole will attend the University of Arkansas in the fall and has been accepted into the Honors College. He plans to study Physics and Astronomy.  While at Ashdown High School, he played football and baseball throughout those years and made  7-4A All-Conference Football this year.  He is also a member of Beta Club, National Honor Society, and First Baptist Church Youth Ministry.  

Arkansas law enforcement agencies to launch campaign at driving under the influence      4/15/2021

Arkansas State Troopers and law enforcement officers across the state will intensify their patrols next week looking for drivers who are impaired by drugs.  The special operation is part of a five state plan directed toward the dangerous practice of driving while under the influence of both illegal and legal drugs.

If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DWI, will kick-off Sunday, April 18 and continue through Tuesday, April 20th. During thiseffort in Arkansas, state troopers, local police officers and sheriff’s deputies will intensify enforcement of drug impaired driving laws.  Just as drunk driving is caused by the consumption of alcohol, driving while intoxicated by drugs is illegal in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C.  Officers will stop and arrest anyone they find to be impaired by drugs or alcohol. It’s an erroneous presumption by many that driving while high won’t diminish their judgement or ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.  Studies have proven that THC, the active component of marijuana, slows the mind’s reaction time, impairs cognitive performance, and challenges the ability of a driver to safely hold their position inside a traffic lane. The simple truth is it doesn’t matter what term is used, anyone who is high, stoned, wasted, or drunk, is impaired.  Driving while impaired is illegal and can be deadly to the driver and others on the road. “Operating any kind of vehicle while under the influence of a drug is dangerous and can lead to injury or death on the roadways,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Arkansas State Police Director and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “It doesn’t have to be an illegal substance to cause impairment, it can be medicine for a cold or a sleep aid,” Colonel Bryant continued.  “Many over the counter and prescribed medications, as well as illegal substances like marijuana or cocaine can lead to impaired driving that will result in a DWI charge against the driver.  Our state troopers and law enforcement partners will make no exceptions.” A driver should always remember to never over medicate themselves, never drive after being prescribed a new medication until its known what effect it might have on their judgment, coordination, and reaction time.  While particular medications may not necessarily impair a driver, the combination of a second or third medicine or the consumption of alcohol can often lead to impairment.  Any form of impaired driving is illegal and can result in the arrest of a driver. When travel is necessary and someone is impaired, there are options to get to a destination that should be considered.  Ask a sober driver for help, use public transportation, a rideshare service or call a friend before trying to drive while impaired.  The extra time it might take could save someone’s life.

Foreman Farmers Market kicks off May 4; table donations sought      4/15/2021

FOREMAN – Foreman will be launching an additional farmers market in Little River County starting next month. The market will be open Tuesday and Thursday from 4-7 p.m. each day at on Schuman Street at the old pharmacy location downtown beginning in May. Tables are being built at a cost of $200 each. Donations are needed to help cover the cost of the tables to host vendors. Anyone who donates the full amount of a table can have that table dedicated in someone’s honor. In addition, a special table plate will be added to that table. Donations can be made in any amount, however, and all are greatly appreciated. All donations must be made to the Little River County Chamber of Commerce with a special memo noting Foreman’s Farmers Market. Vendor charge is $3 per event or $50 annually. The Foreman Farmers Market will begin May 4. For questions or more information, contact Mike McKee at (903) 824-0818.

De Queen School Board approves $880k for astroturf field at Leopard Stadium; $535,000 raised through private donations from local businesses      4/14/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Officials with the De Queen School District and De Queen School Board pose with representatives of Diamond Bank after the bank donated $150,000 Tuesday night for the planned astroturf field at Leopard Stadium.
The district has raised $535,000 in private donations from the community towards the new field. Last night, the school board voted to construct the astroturf field for a total of $880,000 including those community donations.

Tuesday night athletic officials with the De Queen School District saw a long-time dream become reality after the school board voted to construct an astroturf field at Leopard Stadium.

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

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

Sanders said private donations amount to around 60 percent of the total project cost.

The biggest sponsor for the new field is Diamond Bank with a $150,000 donation. Other sponsors include KDQN, Pilgrim’s, Gentry Chevrolet, Peak Therapy, Shelter Insurance, De Queen Auto Group, Dr. Randy Walker, De Queen Church of Christ, Horatio State Bank and Tri-State Asphalt. The field will be financed through a three-percent, 10-year loan from Diamond Bank. Sanders said the 10-year note will allow some sponsors to provide their donations over the next decade as opposed to all at once.

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

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

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

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

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

DQ/SC Chamber of Commerce to host 31st Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival May 29      4/14/2021

DE QUEEN – Area anglers, get ready: the 31st Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival is on for next month.

The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce announced it will present the always-popular fishing tournament on Saturday, May 29. Typically held each year, the event was postponed and then cancelled last year due to COVID-19. However, the Big Bass Festival is a go for 2021 at De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes.. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. on May 29. Early registration is $45 per person. Late registration is $50 per person after 4 p.m. on May 28. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes. Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes. Prizes include $1,500 for catching the biggest bass, $1,000 for second place and so on through fifth place. Prizes are awarded hourly as well for a total of around $10,000 in prize money at this year’s tournament. This year the chamber is offering a registration bundle to participants. For $65, anglers can cover their registration fee and receive a tournament cap. Wear your hat at hourly weigh-ins and, if your catch takes first place that hour, you’ll receive an extra $50. COVID-19 will still have some impact on this year’s tournament. Chamber officials said no award ceremony will be held due to the pandemic. All winners will receive prize money through the mail. For more information, contact Greg Ray at 642-2445 or the Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3225. The Tri-Lakes Big Bass Tournament has been held annually with only two interruptions for the past 33 years. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

Arkansas joins nationwide recommendation on pausing J&J vaccines      4/14/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Arkansas public health officials said the state is joining the nationwide pause on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine following complications related to that vaccine in recent days. In national reporting on Tuesday, the FDA and CDC were both calling for a pause on distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six people developed blood clots, with one death, after receiving the vaccine. All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48. None were Arkansans. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Arkansas would join the pause until additional information is available. Clinics and providers in Arkansas are asked not to distribute Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine at this time. During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday afternoon, Hutchinson agreed with the FDA’s recommendation but urged people not to delay on receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Upcoming vaccine clinics with plans to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be provided Pfizer or Moderna varieties instead, said state officials. Hutchinson said six complications out of 6.8 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines distributed so far is an incredibly low ratio and shouldn’t erode confidence in the two other vaccines.

Hutchinson then announced that, beginning this weekend, the Arkansas Department of Health will partner with pharmacies across the state to bring vaccines to homebound Arkansans. Anyone in Arkansas unable to leave their homes can call the Arkansas COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-800-985-6030 to schedule a home vaccination. Regarding the state’s COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 224 new cases of the virus on Tuesday for a cumulative total of more than 332,000 since the pandemic began. A net increase of 23 active cases raises the current total to 1,663 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. An additional eight deaths were reported Tuesday for a statewide total of 5,673 since last May. Hospitalizations fell by eight to leave 148 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Congressman Westerman recognizes Dierks educators during Hometown Heroes Tour      4/14/2021

Congressman Bruce Westerman, of Arkansas’ 4th District, brought his Hometown Heroes tour to Dierks last week. Westerman honored Dierks School District employees Lori Finley and Todd Finley.

DIERKS – Congressman Bruce Westerman, of Arkansas’ 4th District, brought his Hometown Heroes tour to Dierks last week. Westerman honored Dierks School District employees Lori Finley and Todd Finley. The Congressman says a reoccurring theme to those honored, is that they credit others around them:

Lori Finley is the Principal at JoAnn Walters Elementary School, while Todd Finley serves as the district’s softball and girls basketball coach. The Hometown Heroes program honors individuals who have gone above the call of duty to serve their community during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Nominations for the Hometown Heroes were submitted online.

Annual Overturf Pie Supper this Saturday      4/14/2021

GILLHAM – The annual Overturf Pie Supper is scheduled for this Saturday, April 17. Festivities will begin at 7 p.m. that evening at the Overturf Cemetery, located three and a half miles northeast of Gillham. Turn off of Gillham Lake Road and watch for signs to the cemetery. The annual fundraising event will include a prettiest girl contest as well as ugliest man. Donations are greatly welcomed and can be made by sending a check to Lester Overturf at 108 Sixth Street, Gillham, AR 71841. Please make checks payable to the Overturf Cemetery Fund. All proceeds raised are for the upkeep of the Church and cemetery. For more information, contact Lester Overturf at 784-2085, Judy Smith at 582-2284 or Floyd Morris, Sr. at 784-3629.

De Queen FFA youth place at District Livestock Show      4/14/2021

This past Saturday, three members of the De Queen FFA show team exhibited their livestock projects at the Southwest District Spring Livestock Show held at Hope.
Members in attendance were Tristan Whisenhunt, Olivia Cooley, and Katie Cooley.

HOPE – This past Saturday, three members of the De Queen FFA show team exhibited their livestock projects at the Southwest District Spring Livestock Show held at Hope. Members in attendance were Tristan Whisenhunt, Olivia Cooley, and Katie Cooley. Whisenhunt exhibited a Chianina bull and won Grand Champion honors. Whisenhunt also showed a steer that placed second in his class. Katie Cooley presented her Hereford heifer and brought home a Reserve Grand Champion placing for the team. Olivia Cooley showed a Simmental heifer and placed first in her class. Officials with the De Queen School District gave a big congratulations to these FFA students for their award-wining cattle exhibits. The De Queen FFA team has plans to exhibit at more shows later this spring.

Fort Towson Cemetery to host storytelling tours in May      4/14/2021

FORT TOWSON, Okla. – The Friends of Fort Towson and the Fort Towson Cemetery Association will host a cemetery tour next month designed to be both educational and entertaining. The tour will be held May 14 and 15. It will touch upon various individuals that contributed to the early life of Doaksville and later Fort Towson in Oklahoma. The tour will have guided groups that walk along the cemetery road visiting each storyteller to hear a story. Storytellers will share the life of individuals from the 1840s to the 1970s. Each person contributed to the area during their life. Refreshments will be available on site. Cost is $8 for adults and children 13 and up; $5 for seniors and students aged six to 12; and free for kids five and under. For more info, call 580-873-2634. Fort Towson is located about an hour west of De Queen on Highway 70.

De Queen Rotary Club hosts 2021 Community Service Awards      4/13/2021

Chris Turner, left, is awarded the De Queen Rotary Club’s Community Service Award from DQPD Captain Sonny Kimmel. Each year the De Queen Rotary Club honors a DQPD officer, a deputy from the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, a DQFD firefighter, a volunteer firefighter in Sevier County, and an individual involved in local community service.

DE QUEEN – Each year Rotarians in De Queen come together to recognize those in the community who work to keep Sevier County safe and going strong into the future.

Four first responders and a local community organizer were honored during the Rotary Club’s annual Community Awards ceremony on Monday.
Recipients this year included Chris Turner of the De Queen Police Department. Although serving on the De Queen Police Department for just seven months, Captain Sonny Kimmel said Turner has already made a significant contribution to the department. Kimmel said Turner has taken a leadership role within the department and serves as a role model for the department’s younger officers. Turner is a 16-year veteran of law enforcement and previously serviced for the campus police department at the University of Central Arkansas.
Kimmel related one story involving Turner early in his time with the DQPD, when Turner

Sevier County Deputy Chet Stubbs, left, receives a Community Service Award from Sheriff Robert Gentry.

performed life-saving CPR on a baby despite everyone in the baby’s family testing positive for COVID-19. Kimmel said Turner risked hisself to save the child despite the threat posed by the virus.

The next award was given to the entire De Queen Fire Department. Mayor Jeff Brown presented the award and said the entire department deserved recognition for its actions and commitment over the past year.
Greg Ray then presented a Community Service award to Ronald Smith, chief of the Ben Lomond Fire Department. Ray in particular emphasized Smith’s contribution as a community leader, who goes above and beyond both as a firefighter and a member of his community. Ray cited Smith’s efforts in taking local youth hunting and fishing – youth, Ray said, who might otherwise not have the chance to do so.
The entire De Queen Fire Department was recognized with a Community Service Award this year. Pictured are De Queen Fire Chief Dennis Pruitt, left, and Mayor Jeff Brown.

Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry then presented the next Community Service Award to Deputy Chet Stubbs. Gentry recognized Stubbs’ dedication to local law enforcement and said the deputy had performed life-saving actions on multiple occasions during motor vehicle accidents and through his CPR skills.

The final recognition, the Rotary Community Service Award, went to a Rotarian himself, Greg Revels of De Queen. The club recognized Revel’s contributions to not just the club itself, but also to his dedication to numerous other community service projects. Those include serving as a member of the Arkansas Higher Board of Education and, most critically over the past couple of years, as treasurer of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.
Revels said he was honored to receive the award but the

Ronald Smith, fire chief of Ben Lomond and pictured at left, received the 2021 Sevier County Firefighter Community Service Award. He is presented the award by County Judge Greg Ray.

greatest honor is living in a community as diverse, strong and united as Sevier County.

New feral hog survey targeting landowners in Sevier, Howard Counties      4/13/2021

DE QUEEN – The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, in partnership with the state’s Feral Hog Task Force, is seeking input from Arkansans regarding their experiences with feral hogs. The task force incorporates participation and support from several several other state and federal partner organizations. Its goal is the eradication of feral hogs, an invasive pest that wreaks havoc on crops, property and natural resources. Agents and associates with the Cooperative Extension Service, which is leading many of the task force’s public survey efforts, will be contacting landowners in areas where feral swine pilot projects are being conducted in the state. These include Sevier and Howard Counties as well as several others in South and Southeast Arkansas. Extension agents are encouraging participation in the survey, even among landowners who have had no direct contact with feral hogs. The survey is being sent in the mail and everyone who receives one is asked to take a few minutes to answer the questions. Extension agents will also be calling some landowners who are receiving trapping services from their Conservation District trappers. The survey will be conducted several times over the next few years to track changes in reported damages. Additionally, landowners anywhere in the state can report the number of feral hogs removed from their property simply using the Feral Hog Survey 1-2-3 app. To download, visit the feral hog page on the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s website, located at www.agriculture.arkansas.gov. Arkansans who can’t access the app for any reason can contact their local county extension office for assistance, and a cooperative extension agent will report the information. In Sevier County, that number is 584-3013. Ryan Farney, feral hog coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, is asking that all hunters and feral hog trappers in the state report their sightings and removals of feral hogs at the Feral Hog Survey 1-2-3 app.

Landowners who have feral hogs on their property can contact USDA APHIS Wildlife Services at 501-835-2318. They are leading a statewide effort at feral hog removal, one pig at a time. Residents interested in learning how to use a cellular trapping system should contact their local Cooperative Extension Service office. A team of extension agents located throughout the state coordinates feral hog trapping, and can help residents learn best practices. Call the Sevier County Extension Office for more information about feral hogs, or to volunteer your property as a demonstration site.

Ashdown teachers to see $3,250 pay raise starting this fall      4/13/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown teachers will be seeing a significant raise next school year following a decision made by the district’s school board earlier this month. During the April board meeting, the Ashdown Public School Board of Education approved substantial pay increases for every teacher on the certified pay scale in the district for the the 2021-2022 school year. Ashdown Superintendent Casey Nichols said raises for the teaching staff amount to an additional $3,250 per year starting this fall. Nichols said he and the board had been working for several months on the best way to compensate and show the district’s appreciation to its certified teachers for all of their hard and diligent work. This raise he added will put the Ashdown School District at a competitive salary schedule for schools in the region and sought after among other schools of comparable size. Nichols thanked the board for making this large raise a priority for district teachers and putting the salary schedule well above the state base salary schedule. He said the district has a continued commitment to its students during the pandemic and an intent to ensure that the district continues to find ways to raise the bar for its students and staff.

Chamber hosting meeting tonight in De Queen for local businesses seeking answers on alcohol sales in Sevier County      4/13/2021

DE QUEEN- The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will host a question-and-answer style meeting tomorrow to provide information to local businesses seeking to sell, serve or manufacture alcohol. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday night in the Herman Dierks Park Community Building. The chamber is hosting the meeting alongside Doralee Chandler of the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control board. Officials with the Chamber of Commerce say the meeting is a great opportunity for  LOCAL businesses to get their questions answered about the ins and outs of applying for a license to sell alcohol and what steps to take to go through the process smoothly.

Many in Little River still without power after weekend storms      4/12/2021

LITTLE RIVER COUNTY – Foreman Public Schools will not hold in-person classes today due to ongoing power issues following severe weather Friday night and early Saturday morning.

District officials stated students will transition to remote, online learning today due to the lack of power at school facilities. At this time in-class instruction is expected to resume on Tuesday.

evere thunderstorms Friday night and early Saturday morning hit Little River County with straight line winds. The storm caused hundreds of trees in the county, and particularly around Ashdown, Winthrop and Foreman, to fall – taking with them power lines and resulting in widespread loss of power.

As of Sunday night more than 1,200 people in Little River County were without power. Power outages remain for some residents of Hempstead and Miller County, as well, but not to the extent as seen in Little River.

SWEPCO’s power outage map shows around 610 customers impacted in the Winthrop area alone as of 10 p.m. Sunday night.

SWEPCO crews as well as tree-removal service companies could be seen working throughout Little River County on Saturday and Sunday to clear damage from the storm and return power.

Fortunately at this time no deaths have been attributed to this weekend’s storms.

De Queen Chamber hosting Q&A Tuesday night with state alcohol rep      4/12/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will host a question-and-answer style meeting tomorrow to provide information to local businesses seeking to sell, serve or manufacture alcohol.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday night in the Herman Dierks Park Community Building. The chamber has is hosting the meeting alongside Doralee Chandler of the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control board.

Officials with the Chamber of Commerce say the meeting is a great opportunity for local businesses to get their questions answered about the ins and outs of applying for a license to sell alcohol and what steps to take to go through the process smoothly.

Perla Zapata accepted into UCA Scholar’s Program      4/12/2021
Perla Zapata

DE QUEEN – Perla Zapata, daughter of Patricia Perez and Carlos Zapata of De Queen, received word last week that she had been accepted into the UCA Scholar’s program.  Only 30 people are accepted each year based on their application essay, recommendation, and transcript.

Perla will receive a stipend and private room upgrade valued at more than $13,000.  Perla has also received a Distinguished Scholarship worth $34,000 and the UCA Foundational Carolyn Man Memorial Scholarship valued at an additional $2,500.  In addition, she qualifies for the $14,000 Arkansas Challenge Scholarship.

Perla is president of the De Queen High School Student Council, a member of gifted and talented, basketball, tennis, soccer, FCCLA, National Honor Society, Spanish Club and Young Voters.

She has received a gold medal at the FCCLA National Leadership Conference for the entrepreneurship star project and Rotary Award for Spanish I. She’s also been named a Student of the Month, homecoming maid, second runner-up Miss DHS, Miss Congeniality, and Miss DHS Peoples Choice.

Perla will major in Biology and plans on completing the UCA pre-optometry program.  Future plans are to attend the Southern College of Optometry to become a pediatric optometrist.

DHS Senior Kynnedi France awarded $44,000 Presidential Distinguished Scholarship from SAU      4/12/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Honor Graduate Kynnedi France has been awarded the Presidential Distinguished Scholarship from Southern Arkansas University valued at $44,000.  She also qualifies for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship worth $14,000.

Kynnedi is the daughter of Crystal and Mike Willey.  She is a member of the National Honor Society, Gifted and Talented, Lady Leopard Softball, and the cheer squad.

Kynnedi plans to major in Exercise Science at Southern Arkansas University and become an Athletic Trainer.

Bridge, road closure begins today in De Queen    4/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Officials with the City of De Queen are announcing a bridge and road closure beginning today. West Robinson Road will be closed to thru traffic by the KCS railroad tracks west of the Sevier County Jail. Work will begin Monday, April 12. The bridge is being replaced by the city after state inspectors said last year the bridge was unable to pass inspections. Traffic can still reach the Sevier County Jail by entering Robinson Road from Highway 71.

State Rep. Vaught provides update on House bills focusing on law enforcement, education     4/12/2021

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught has provided us with an additional update detailing legislative activities in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

Last week, the House voted in favor of a bill temporarily changing the deadline for filing and paying state income tax. SB593 extends the deadline this year to May 17, aligning the date with the recent extension issued for filing federal income tax. The also House voted in favor of a number of bills addressing law enforcement, mental health, alcohol sales and education. HB1865, if passed, would require all law enforcement officers in the state to complete annual training related to a law enforcement officer’s duty to intervene if the law enforcement officer observes the use of excessive force by another law enforcement officer. HB1680 states law enforcement agencies must assist a law enforcement officer involved in a critical incident in obtaining services that may help the officer recover from psychological effects. SB27 requires the Arkansas Department of Health to ensure that the Suicide Prevention Hotline employs individuals who have experience working with veterans or are veterans. A couple of alcohol-related bills also passed the House. HB1748 states that a referendum election to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday may be called by a city or county if the governing body adopts a resolution by a two-thirds majority vote. SB479 states that a restaurant with a valid alcoholic beverage permit from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division (ABC) may expand its outdoor dining availability with approval from the municipality or county’s local government zoning authority. This bill also allows restaurants to remit sales taxes in quarterly payments rather than monthly for the next year. Finally, several educational bills were also passed. SB524 states that by August 1 of 2022 each public school district and open-enrollment public charter school in the state shall prepare a three-year teacher and administrator recruitment and retention plan. The plan should include goals for recruitment and retention of teachers and administrators of minority races and ethnicities who increase diversity among the district staff and, at a minimum, reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the district’s students. HB1794 creates the Licensed Practical Nurse Pathway Pilot Program. It states that the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, in consultation with the Division of Higher Education, shall establish and implement a program in which high school students may enroll in undergraduate courses required to obtain a diploma or certificate of completion as a licensed practical nurse. HB1701 states that a teacher of a K-12 science class at a public school or open-enrollment public charter school may teach creationism as a theory.

Tickets go on sale next week for AHS production of Frozen, Jr.    4/12/2021

ASHDOWN – Tickets will go on sale next Monday, April 19 for the AHS Panther Theatre production of Frozen, Jr. Tickets will be on sale at the Ashdown Administration Building from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week. Tickets are $5 each.  Performances for the community will be hosted Saturday, April 24 with performances at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. A final showing for the community will be held on Sunday, April 25 in the Ashdown High School Auditorium. District officials advise that masks are required to attend the performances.

De Queen, Horatio kindergarten registration underway     4/12/2021

SEVIER COUNTY – Horatio Public Schools will host kindergarten pre-registration on April 20 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again on April 21 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. To register for the 2021-2022 kindergarten class at Horatio Public Schools, your child must be five on or before Aug. 1. Parents must bring proof of residency, birth certificate, social security card and immunization record.

If you live outside the Horatio School District and would like to send your child to Horatio Schools next year, please fill out a school choice form at the administration office by April 30. De Queen Public Schools is currently hosting registration for local children entering kindergarten for the upcoming school year. To register for the 2021-2022 kindergarten class at De Queen Public Schools, children must be five on or before Aug. 1. Parents wanting to enroll their child for Kindergarten this fall can now come to the Primary office and pick up a registration packet. All registration packets will need to be turned back into the Primary office by Friday, April 30. The same packets have already been sent to the local pre-schools if your child attends any De Queen pre-school. If you live outside the De Queen School District and would like to send your child to De Queen Schools next year, you’re asked to fill out a school choice form at the administration office by April 30.

Sevier County, surrounding counties reporting single-digit active COVID-19 caseloads     4/12/2021

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continue to remain at near zero levels, with just four active cases currently reported. Total cases now number 2,783 with the vast majority of those having recovered. Deaths from the virus since last spring total 24. In neighboring counties, Little River County is reporting just two active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Total cases number 1,224 with a total of 41 deaths since May of 2020. Active cases in Howard County are also near zero levels, with just three currently confirmed cases in the county. Total cases number 1,644 with 24 total deaths. Polk County is reporting six active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Cumulative cases number 1,966 since the pandemic began. Deaths total 71. Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 100 cases of COVID-19 statewide for a cumulative total of more than 332,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 28 to 1,733 currently. No deaths were reported yesterday and total 5,661 since last spring. Currently 163 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Boil Order Alert remains in effect for customers of Horatio water system      4/08/2021

HORATIO – The City of Horatio’s Boil Order Alert remains in effect for customers of the city’s water system.
The order was issued this week as a precautionary measure because of the possibility that contaminated water may have entered the distribution system as a result of a loss in normal system pressure.
Under the boil order, all affected customers are advised that the water may be unsafe for human consumption and all water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled for at least one minute before use.

The notice will be lifted by the Department of Health when the submitted bacteriological sample indicates that the water is free of contamination and an adequate disinfectant level is established throughout the distribution system.

COVID-19 vaccine clinic today at Sevier County Health Unit      4/08/2021

DE QUEEN – A number of COVID-19 vaccination clinics are scheduled in the listening area today and into the weekend. In Sevier County, a vaccination clinic is being held in De Queen today This event will be hosted by the Sevier County Health Unit and the Arkansas Department of Health. The clinic is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available for no out-of-pocket expense to eligible Arkansans. Those with insurance are asked to bring their insurance card. Insurance companies will pay the administrative costs of distributing the vaccine but will not pass on those costs in any way to the insurance holder. Everyone in Arkansas aged 18 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at this clinic. The vaccine will be distributed on a first-come, first serve basis. Everyone is asked to come inside the health unit to receive the shot. The vaccine distributed at this event will be the Johnson & Johnson shot, which requires only one dose so no second, follow-up shot will be needed. For more information, call the Sevier County Health Unit at 642-2535. Another clinic will be held today in Ashdown as well. Vaccines will be distributed on a first-come, first-service basis in a drive-thru fashion at Brookshire’s Pharmacy at 1310 S. Constitution Avenue in Ashdown. Finally, De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy will host an additional vaccination clinic this Saturday, April 10. The shot given at this event will be the Pfizer. This is also open to those who attended the pharmacy’s mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic last month and are now due for the second dose. The Pfizer vaccine is a two-dose vaccine that requires a waiting period of 21 days between doses. Following last week’s announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, everyone in Arkansas aged 16 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, is currently only open to those 18 and older. For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccines available to the public, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov

DHS student named Arkansas Champion in Microsoft Word      4/08/2021

De Queen high School is recognizing student Ben Moniewski after he was named the Arkansas State Champion in the Microsoft Office Specialist Fall Qualifier.

DE QUEEN – De Queen high School is recognizing student Ben Moniewski after he was named the Arkansas State Champion in the Microsoft Office Specialist Fall Qualifier. As Arkansas’ Champion in Microsoft Word, Ben was invited to compete in Certiport’s 2021 Microsoft Office Specialist U.S. National Championship at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Hotel in Orlando, Florida, June 21-23. Ben accepted the invitation to compete in Florida, but the in-person competition was canceled and changed to an online competition due to ongoing pandemic concerns. The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Program provides industry-leading assessments of skills and knowledge through project-based testing. These exams include multiple, small projects within Microsoft Office software. Students and professionals are tested on one project at a time. These small projects test their skills as they would in the real world and validate their understanding of the Microsoft Office program functionality. Educators say Microsoft Office Specialist certifications boost academic performance, prepare students for the demands of college, and open doors to career opportunities. Jill Brinkley, a teacher at De Queen High School and Ben’s sponsor in the competition, said the entire district is proud of his accomplishment. Ranking first in the State of Arkansas in the Word Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam is an impressive win and demonstrates De Queen’s focus on getting its students workforce ready.

Spring Cleanup Week in De Queen ends tomorrow      4/08/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s spring clean up week in De Queen and city officials are asking everyone to do their part in making sure the city’s looking good and as free of trash and debris as possible. Spring clean up week begins today and continues through April 9. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles. The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. between today and April 9. New this year, the city is also launching an Adopt-a-Block program. Mayor Jeff Brown said this is a way for city residents to give back by ensuring the areas around their homes, neighborhoods and nearby streets are cleaned up and free of trash.

DHS 2021 seniors receive scholarships      4/08/2021

Gunner Bradshaw

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School is recognizing 2021 seniors who are receiving scholarships to assist in their post-secondary educational endeavors. Recent scholarship recipients include De Queen Co-Valedictorian Gunner Bradshaw, who has been awarded a University of Arkansas Honors College Fellowship valued at a whooping $72,000. Gunner was recently named a Governor’s Distinguished Scholar which will add another $40,000 to his scholarship package. That means Gunner will graduate with over $110,000 in scholarship monies. Gunner is a member of the National Honor Society and Quiz Bowl.  He was chosen as DQHS Art Student of the Month as well as Rotary Student of the Month.

Carlee Helms

He plans on majoring in Computer Science as a part of the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville. Gunner is the son of Lance and Vivi Bradshaw. De Queen Honor Graduate Carlee Helms has been awarded a Chancellor’s Academic Distinction Scholarship valued at $40,000 and a STEM Academic Scholarship valued at $24,000. Carlee is the daughter of Jonathan and Callie Helms.  She is a member of Gifted and Talented, National Honor Society, cheer squad and Lady Leopard softball. Carlee will major in Biology at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. Her plans are to attend medical school and become a pediatrician.

Dierks students, staff no longer required to wear face masks at school      4/08/2021

DIERKS – Students and staff attending the Dierks School District will no longer be required to wear face masks. The Dierks Board of Education made the decision during a specially-called board meeting Tuesday night. The district’s Ready to Learn plan was amended to lift the mandate requiring students and staff to wear a mask. Although masks will no longer be required, students and staff may opt to continue wearing them for their own personal safety. School officials said the district will continue following existing safety and sanitation practices already in place, such as encouraging hand washing, providing hand sanitizer in our buildings, emphasizing social distancing, and all other Arkansas Health Department guidelines. The decision follows Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s announcement last week to lift Arkansas’ face mask mandate. Although face masks are no longer required in public settings, state officials say schools, restaurants, businesses and government buildings have the option to require mask usage within their facilities.

Horatio Schools out again today due to ongoing water issue; Boil Order issued for customers of Horatio Water System      4/07/2021

HORATIO – The Horatio School District has closed its campuses again today due to ongoing issues with the city’s water service. Horatio students are advised they will work remotely from home on Wednesday.
Crews with the City of Horatio worked Monday night and Tuesday morning after a utility company accidentally damaged a city water main Monday morning. The company reportedly cut the water main again Tuesday afternoon, causing water pressure to drop and a loss of service in the system. The drop in service forced the school district to close its campuses at noon on Monday and then again on Tuesday. Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool praised city crews for working “diligently to make temporary repairs” but added they will need additional time to finish the repairs and restore water pressure on Wednesday.

Again, today will be a digital day for students of the Horatio School District. A Boil Order Alert is also in effect for customers of the Horatio Water System. Customers are advised to boil water used for consumption for at least one minute before use. This includes drinking water and water used for cooking. The Boil Order will remain in effect until the Arkansas Department of Health checks and clears submitted samples.

COVID-19 vaccination clinic today at Memorial Baptist Church in De Queen      4/07/2021

DE QUEEN – The Walker Family Practice and Allergy Center, along with Memorial Baptist Church in De Queen, will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic today.

The clinic is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at Memorial Baptist Church, located at 802 East Vandervoort Avenue in De Queen. The clinic will be providing the Moderna vaccine at no cost and all Arkansans 16 and older are eligible for the vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also be available at this clinic. While the vaccine will be provided for free, attendees with insurance are asked to bring their card and photo ID as insurance companies will reimburse providers the administrative costs of administering the vaccine. Vaccines will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The vaccine will be administered by healthcare professionals from Dr. Randy Walker’s office. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to the vaccine appointment. Organizers ask that face masks be worn at the vaccine clinic at all times.

DHS 2021 seniors receive scholarships      4/07/2021
Deciredh Alvarez

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School is recognizing several 2021 seniors who’ve earned scholarships this year for their post-secondary endeavors. De Queen Co-Valedictorian Alexander Tavarez has been named an AR Governor’s Distinguished Scholar.  He has been awarded a $40,000 scholarship.  Alexander is the son of Diana Lerma.  He is a member of the National Honor Society and Quizbowl.

Alexander Tavarez

Alexander plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science at Arkansas Tech University.

Congrats to De Queen senior Deciredh Alvarez, daughter of Leticia Alvarez, who’s been awarded the U of A Fort Smith Academic Excellence and Housing stipend Scholarship valued at $12,000! Deciredh is a member of the National Honor Society. She plans on earning a degree in dental hygiene and continuing to pursue a Doctorate in General Dentistry.

Madison Runnels

And De Queen Honor Graduate Madison Runnels has been awarded the UALR Provost’s Academic Scholarship valued at $32,000 and a STEM Scholarship valued at $14,000. She also qualifies for the $14,000 Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship for a total of $60,000 in scholarship monies.  Madison plans to major in biology and continue her education in the medical field. Her future plans are to become an Emergency Room Physician. Madison is the daughter of Tracy and Rachel Runnels. She  is a member of the National Honor Society, the De Queen Church of Christ youth group, and the softball team. Madison is a part-time employee of WalMart.

Little over a week left in Millwood Fishing Challenge      4/07/2021

MILLWOOD LAKE – Area residents a little over a week left to participate in the first ever Millwood Fishing Challenge, which provides local anglers with a chance to win some serious cash prizes. In February the Little River County Chamber of Commerce kicked off the first ever Millwood Fishing Challenge. Through this new event local anglers have had the chance to win thousands of dollars in cash prizes. The challenge takes place entirely on Millwood Lake. If you haven’t had a chance to make it to Millwood Lake yet, don’t worry – the challenge won’t end until April 15 at 5 p.m. that day. There are over 100 prize fish, valued at $137,500 in cash—including the $10,000 “BIG MILLIE” grand prize. The prize fish are all wearing 2021 yellow tags and were released into Millwood Lake just prior to the challenge start date. ​​The yellow tags all have a phone number and a prize number on them. If a fish is caught the angler must call the number and present the fish with the yellow tag attached, along with the badge number. All official rules must be complied with. The prize fish include bass, catfish (of any kind) and crappie. ONLY bream have been tagged for the youth angler challenge. All tagged fish will be have to be checked-in alive and with their yellow tag in place. The contest is open to anyone with a valid Arkansas fishing license and a valid badge that can be purchased for $15. Badges can be purchased at a number of locations, including Bogey’s and Milway Federal Credit Union. A full list of participating locations is available at ashdownarkansas.org/millwoodfishingchallenge A special youth anglers weekend will be held Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18. Visit the Little River County Chamber of Commerce online at www.ashdownarkansas.org/millwoodfishingchallenge for more details.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson expresses concern COVID-19 vaccine not reaching Arkansas’ minority populations      4/07/2021

An increasing number of Arkansans are getting vaccinated for COVID-19, but minority communities are apparently falling behind when it comes to the state’s vaccine rollout effort. During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Arkansas’ minority groups are not receiving COVID-19 vaccines at the same rate as the state’s white population. He said the state has partnered with the Arkansas Minority Health Commission and other minority advocacy groups to ensure the vaccine is reaching all communities in Arkansas.

Hutchinson added that more and more messaging on the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available is being focused on communities of color in Arkansas. Hutchinson then explained that, despite the increasing number of vaccines available to the public, community spread of COVID-19 remains a concern. He encouraged Arkansans to remain vigilant against COVID-19 and get their vaccine as soon as possible to help bring the current pandemic to an end.

Finally, the Arkansas Department of Health updated the state’s COVID-19 figures as of Tuesday. New cases increased by 163 over the past 24-hour period for a total of more than 331,000 COVID-19 transmissions in Arkansas since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by five over the same period to 5,653. Active cases fell by five to leave 1,602 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Hospitalizations saw a slight increase, raising by seven for a total of 152 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Foreman FFA Rodeo set for May 7-8      4/07/2021

FOREMAN – The Southeastern Oklahoma Junior Rodeo Association is announcing it will present the Foreman FFA Rodeo next month. The rodeo has been scheduled for Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8 starting at 8 p.m. both evenings at the Foreman Fairgrounds. Age groups range from seven and under to 15 to 19-years-old. Events include sheep riding, mini bareback, saddle bronc, ranch bronc, goat tying, calf roping and breakaway. Everyone is welcome and there is no non-member fee. Entry fees are $40 for the main events and $25 for sheep riding. Gate fee is $7 and contestants get in for free. Entry deadline is May 3. Text (580) 286-1635.

Sevier County currently reporting just on active COVID-19 case      4/07/2021

DE QUEEN – Taking a look now at the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health: Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continue to remain at near zero levels, with just one active case currently reported. Sevier County’s active caseload has not been this low since the pandemic first arrived in Arkansas. Total cases now number 2,780 with the vast majority of those having recovered. Deaths from the virus since last spring total 24. In neighboring counties, Little River County is reporting just four active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Total cases number 1,224 with a total of 41 deaths since May of 2020. Active cases in Howard County are also near zero levels, with just one currently confirmed case in the county. Total cases number 1,616 with 24 total deaths. Polk County is reporting four active cases of COVID-19 at this time. Cumulative cases number 1,964 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased to 71 this week – the highest in the region.

Keep Arkansas Beautiful campaign continues through May 31      4/07/2021

Registration remains open for this spring’s Keep Arkansas Beautiful campaign. The annual spring cleanup event is part of the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup in Arkansas. Arkansans across the state are encouraged to get outside and participate in local cleanup efforts throughout the spring season. The Great American Cleanup in Arkansas began last month and various cleanup, beautification and recycling efforts will be held across the state until May 31. During the nation’s largest community improvement effort, Arkansans volunteer annually to clean up and beautify their communities throughout a multitude of cleanup events. Communities and groups are invited to sign up to organize a local cleanup this year at www.keeparkansasbeautiful.com Cleanup organizers can use KAB’s free, print-ready promotional items to help recruit volunteers and learn how to organize a cleanup. Volunteers can find local cleanups on the calendar of events at on the website, as well as additional resources. As warmer weather approaches and Arkansans look forward to heading outside to enjoy what the Natural State has to offer, the Keep Arkansas Beautiful campaign encourages all Arkansans to take pride in their state by removing litter, recycling and getting involved in a local event near them. During KAB’s two annual cleanup events last year, volunteers removed over 410,000 pounds of bulky waste across more than a thousand miles of roadside, 116 miles of waterway and shorelines, and 671 acres of parks and public areas. Arkansans also collected nearly 3,500 tires, recycled almost 20,000 pounds of electronics and planted 384 trees, shrubs and flowers. For more information, visit www.keeparkansasbeautiful.com

Horatio Schools out today due to ongoing water issue      4/06/2021
HORATIO – Horatio Public Schools campuses are closed again due to ongoing issues within the City of Horatio’s water system.
The school district dismissed students on both of its campuses at noon yesterday after water service was disconnected. Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said a cut to the city’s water main was behind the interruption in service.
The campus closures will remain in effect today despite city crews in Horatio working overnight to remedy the cut in service. Vanderpool said this morning that service had not returned to a level allowing the district to reopen its campuses. Students are instructed today will be a virtual learning day. All students are advised they will work remotely from home.
DQSC Chamber welcomes Sevier County Community Outreach Center      4/06/2021
Hattie Vance of the Sevier County Community Outreach Center cuts the ceremonial ribbon during an open house held on Friday with the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.
DE QUEEN – On Friday members of the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce and others in the community met up to welcome the newest member of the chamber – the new Sevier County Community Outreach Center. The new Sevier County Community Outreach Center is based largely on the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program, also known as RSAT, pioneered by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office – but with at least one major difference: RSAT is only available to those serving a sentence in the Sevier County Jail for a non-violent offense; the Community Outreach Center, however, will be offered to anyone in the community facing substance abuse problems. The Outreach Center, like the RSAT program, is funded through a federal grant – no local tax dollars are funding the program. The $50,000 grant will pay for a year of the program with the option to renew this fall. The grant is paying for a part-time case manager/counselor to help volunteers navigate through the program, which will be offered at no cost. Programs offered through the center range from AA/NA classes and mental health counseling to substance abuse treatment, religious services and parental classes. Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry and Jail Administrator Chris Wolcott – both of whom worked to create RSAT and the Community Outreach Center – hope to add career development classes, GED courses and other programs designed to help those fighting addiction break that cycle and become productive members of the community. Wolcott said he has a lot of faith the Outreach Center will see a similar level of success – if not more – than the jail’s RSAT program. In fact, that program has seen such success, and received so much publicity, law enforcement agencies across the country have reached out to Sevier County for advice on modeling their own programs. Both Gentry and Wolcott praised the organizations who have partnered to help create the Outreach Center, particularly area churches. Gentry said the sheriff’s office is extremely grateful to First Baptist Church of De Queen, which donated an office in its east wing for the program’s coordinator. The program already has a full list of meetings and recovery services scheduled this week and into the future. For Wolcott, the Outreach Center will be a success if it even helps one person fight their addiction and stay out of jail. For more information on the program, call 870-784-7969. The center’s office, located at First Baptist Church of De Queen, is also open 8 a.m. to 12 noon Monday through Friday as well as additional hours in the evening.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month      4/06/2021
DE QUEEN – Approximately 25 percent of children in Arkansas suffer from abuse, yet many of them are suffering in silence. April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, held to shine a spotlight on abuses that often go unseen or without intervention.

“It’s sad to know that one in every four children you see is likely to be experiencing abuse in some fashion,” said Elizabeth Pulley, executive director of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas. “Unfortunately, those cases probably grew during the isolation caused by COVID-19 because child abuse happens in secrecy. The signs of abuse go undetected when children are not seen regularly by others outside the home.”

Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas has 17 centers located throughout Arkansas that provide a safe place for children and non-offending family members. Services include advocacy, mental health therapy, medical exams and a one-time forensics interview for victims with law enforcement. Centers also employ prevention education specialists to offer free school and community resources.

“We never once closed our centers during the pandemic,” Pulley noted. “In fact, our mission became even more important during that time because we saw an even higher number of reported physical abuse cases than before. As in-person learning resumes in schools, we expect reported cases to continue to grow.”

The National Children’s Advocacy Center states that physical abuse and neglect are most affected by socioeconomic status, which was widely impacted by COVID-19 as families lost employment. By contrast, sexual abuse occurs equally across all levels of society.

Arkansas’s First Lady Susan Hutchinson has long been a champion for children suffering through abuse.

“When my husband became Governor in 2015, I was committed to use my unique platform to help make a difference for children,” said Ms. Hutchinson. “Children rarely tell someone that they are being abused, so it is critical that we, as adults, recognize the signs and be courageous enough to do something about it.”

Wednesday could bring severe thunderstorms to Southwest Arkansas      4/06/2021

DE QUEEN – Another quick-moving storm front will enter Arkansas this Wednesday, April 7. Not only does this date pose Southwest Arkansas’ next best chance of rain, but it also comes with the chance to see isolated severe storms. The Storm Prediction Center has already outlined a slight risk for isolated severe storms in Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties, as well as surrounding areas. Based on latest forecast model trends, the front will start to spark rain showers from west to central Arkansas Wednesday morning. As the front itself enters the state by the lunchtime hours, there is potential to see a line of storms develop. Any strong or severe storm that does occur has a chance to threaten damaging winds up to 60 mph or quarter-sized hail. The tornado threat remains low for this specific weather event. However, an isolated tornado cannot be completely ruled out of the forecast, according to the National Weather Service. Be sure to stay tuned to your Number One Country on air and online on our Facebook page for the latest updates on tomorrow’s weather.
Youth looking for a chance to give back can find it through 4-H      4/06/2021
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Extension Service has recently started challenging 4-H’ers to do a monthly community service project as a way to better their communities. Kim Frachiseur, 4-H Program Assistant for Sevier County, said local 4-H’ers are meeting the challenge head on each month. January’s challenge was to donate to a local food pantry. The Goin’ Showin’ Club met and donated various foods to a local food bank. Since Valentine’s Day is in February, youth were asked to make cards for random people in the community. Bailey Gore, Gracie Sutton, Keegan McCoy, and Alex McCoy made cards for all the residents at Bear Creek Nursing Center. March’s challenge was to do a random act of kindness. Members of the Lakeside 4-H club put together Easter eggs and hid them for children at a local day care. This is just part of the spirit of community service fostered through Sevier County 4-H programs. If you’re interested in joining the 4-H program, you may contact the Sevier County Extension Service at (870) 584-3013 or drop by their office located on the UA Cossatot Campus in the Adams Building.

Career fair next month in Idabel      4/06/2021

IDABEL, Okla. – The Kiamichi Technology Center will host a Career Fair and Employment Network event next month with a focus on high school students and young adults. The event is scheduled for May 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kiamichi Tech – Idabel Campus. The career fair will be tailored to those aged 16 to 20-years-old. Featured at this event will be a number of area businesses and industries seeking temporary, part-time and full-time employees. Additional businesses and industries are welcome to attend by contacting the Kiamichi Technology Center at (580) 286-7555 or by visiting www.ktc.edu/career connect

IRS says third stimulus payments will be issued April 7 for Social Security recipients, some other non-filers      4/06/2021

The IRS continues to issue the third Economic Impact Payment to eligible individuals. This includes Social Security recipients and other federal beneficiaries who do not normally file a tax return. Most of these payments will be sent electronically and received on April 7. This round of third payments applies to eligible Social Security retirement, survivor or disability, Supplemental Security Income, and Railroad Retirement Board beneficiaries who don’t file tax returns. In addition, many federal beneficiaries who filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return or used the Non-Filers tool last year were issued Economic Impact Payments, if eligible, during the last three weeks, along with other taxpayers. These beneficiaries can use the Get My Paymenttool to find out when and how the payment was issued. Payments are automatic for most people Most Social Security retirement and disability beneficiaries, railroad retirees and recipients of veterans benefits who are eligible for the third EIP don’t need to take any action to receive a payment. They will generally receive this third payment the same way that they receive their regular benefits. However, some people may need to file a 2020 tax return even if they don’t usually file. This will provide the information the IRS needs to send a third payment for a spouse or any qualified dependent. Eligible benefit recipients can file a 2020 tax return to receive a third payment for their eligible spouse or dependent even if they have already received their own third payment. When someone files their 2020 tax return, they may also be eligible to claim the 2020 recovery rebate credit for their spouse and any qualifying children who were under age 17 at the end of 2020. People can visit IRS.gov for details about claiming the 2020 recovery rebate credit if they aren’t required to file a tax return. The third payment is not claimed on the 2020 tax return or used to calculate the 2020 recovery rebate credit. Watch mail for checks or EIP Cards The form of payment for the third EIP may be different for some people including Social Security and other federal beneficiaries. More people are receiving direct deposits, while those receiving payments in the mail may receive a paper check or a prepaid debit card called an EIP Card. Eligible people can check Get My Payment to see how their payment will be issued. More details on this third round of EIP and federal benefit recipients are available on the frequently asked questions page on IRS.gov.

Dierks Police Chief arrested for DWI on Sunday, resigns from position      4/05/2021
DIERKS – Our sister station, KMTB out of Nashville, is reporting that Dierks Police Chief Brian White has resigned his position, effective immediately, following his arrest for DWI on Sunday.
In a written statement released Monday, Dierks Mayor Ronnie Cogburn said he and council members became aware of an incident Sunday involving Chief White.  Police reports said White was involved in a single vehicle accident while driving a Dierks police patrol vehicle. White was booked into the Howard County Jail at 12:35 Sunday afternoon on suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated.  Jail records indicate he was released about an hour later.
After learning of the arrest, Mayor Cogburn suspended White with pay, pending further investigation.  Subsequently, Chief White tendered his resignation to the mayor and council.
Mayor Cogburn said Dierks officer John McKee has been appointed as Interim Police Chief. The mayor’s statement also said neither he, nor the city of Dierks, will have any further comment on the matter, pending a full investigation by the Arkansas State Police.
The Dierks City Council has called a special meeting for this evening at 7 o’clock to discuss personnel.
The original story ran as follows:
The Dierks Police Chief has been charged with D.W.I. following his arrest yesterday. Records indicate 57 year James Brian White was booked into the Howard County Jail Sunday afternoon around 12:30, and was released about an hour later.
Howard County Sheriff Bryan McJunkins said authorities initially received a call reporting an accident just outside of Dierks around 10 o’clock Sunday morning. Sheriff McJunkins said by the time officers arrived, they learned the vehicle had been pulled out of the ditch and someone had driven Chief White and his city of Dierks patrol unit to near the chief’s residence. The sheriff said state troopers located White there, and took him into custody.
Radio stations KMTB and KNAS submitted a request Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act, and learned Dierks Mayor Ronnie Cogburn has suspended Chief White, with pay, from his duties, pending the outcome of an investigation into Sunday’s incident.
Horatio Schools to dismiss at noon today due to water cut      4/05/2021
HORATIO – The Horatio School District will dismiss at 12 noon today due to an interruption in water service within the City of Horatio. Lunch will be provided to students at both Horatio Elementary and High School before the dismissal.
The following is a statement by Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool regarding the closure:
“The City of Horatio has experienced another cut in the main water line that provides water to both of our schools.
Children will be provided a lunch today, however the menu and times will be altered.
We will prepare for dismissal at 12:00 noon today.
Students will bring home devices today so that we may be prepared for Digital Days if needed later this week.
We apologize for this loss of instruction and will continue to monitor the situation.
Please help us to share this announcement.”
Spring cleanup week in De Queen starts today      4/05/2021
DE QUEEN – It’s spring clean up week in De Queen and city officials are asking everyone to do their part in making sure the city’s looking good and as free of trash and debris as possible.
Spring clean up week begins today and continues through April 9. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles.
The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. between today and April 9.
New this year, the city is also launching an Adopt-a-Block program. Mayor Jeff Brown said this is a way for city residents to give back by ensuring the areas around their homes, neighborhoods and nearby streets are cleaned up and free of trash.
UA Cossatot to host 2021 Fiesta Fest on May 1      4/05/2021
DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot has announced it will host Fiesta Fest on Saturday, May 1. The event, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, will be held in Downtown De Queen on North 3rd Street and West De Queen Avenue in front of the Courthouse from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.
The festival’s focus is bringing the community together to celebrate the cultures of Southwest Arkansas while raising scholarship money for UA Cossatot students.
Festivities will include food, vendors, live music, a DJ and light show, folkloric dancing, carnival rides, games, inflatables, and more.
Erika Buenrostro of UA Cossatot said the event is a great time for all of residents of the area to come together for a common cause. The event aims to celebrate the cultures that make up Sevier County’s community and help provide students of the college with a scholarship funded through money raised at this event.
To become a sponsor or vendor for Fiesta Fest, contact Dustin Roberts, Director of Development, at droberts@cccua.edu or 870-584-1172.
Ashdown Schools honor pro baseball players through new project      4/05/2021
ASHDOWN – The Ashdown High School Baseball Team and Ashdown Public Schools joined together for a recent project aimed at honoring Ashdown alumni who went on to play baseball professionally. These former baseball players are being commemorated with special jerseys featured on the outfield wall at the baseball field in Ashdown City Park.

Honored Alumni include: Walter Ray Matthews of the Ashdown High School Class of 1952. After attending the University of Arkansas, Matthews was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and dedicated 52 consecutive years of service to the Houston Astros. He was inducted into the Texas Scouts Association Hall of Fame in 2004. Marquis Riley of the Class of 1989 attended the University of Central Arkansas and was inducted into the UCA Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. He was drafted in the second round of the 1992 MLB draft by the California Angels. Joe Jester, Class of 1996, attended the University of Arkansas and was drafted in the seventh round of the 1999 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants. Cedrick Harris, Class of 1996, was named the 1996 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year. He was drafted by the NY Yankees in the 61st round of the 1996 MLB draft and the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 10th round of the 2000 MLB draft. Adam Cobb, Class of 2004, attended and played for Louisiana Tech University. He was drafted in the 24th round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Texas Rangers. Kentrell Hill, Class of 2009, attended Arkansas Baptist College. He was drafted in the 10th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants. And finally, Jaden Hill, Class of 2018. Hill was the 2018 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year. He was drafted in the 38th round of the 2018 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He is currently the starting pitcher for LSU.

Rep. Vaught helps advance bill to ensure Holocaust taught to Arkansas students      4/05/2021
State Representative DeAnn Vaught is helping to advance a bill aimed at ensuring the brutality and lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten.

Last week, Vaught said she had the privilege of carrying a bill that will mandate that the Holocaust be taught in Arkansas’ public schools.  She was joined by a young man, David Ronnels, who she said has lived through persecution due to his Jewish religion. Vaught said she was honored to be asked to serve as the House sponsor for this Senate bill. Vaught said she looks forward to us passing it off this afternoon. A study performed in 2020 suggested an alarming lack of knowledge of the Holocaust among high school students in Arkansas. The bill carried by Vaught aims to reverse that declining knowledge. The House passed several bills amending election laws on Thursday, including: HB1777, which, if passed, would allow a registered voter who is a victim of domestic violence to request secure voter status. This would help domestic violence victims keep their addresses from being made public. HB1715 seeks to amend Arkansas law concerning absentee ballots. It states that the county clerk or other designated election official providing materials to qualified voters shall not distribute unsolicited absentee ballot applications or unsolicited absentee ballots to electors. It also goes on to say that the county clerk shall provide the county board of election commissioners with a daily count of absentee applications received. The House also passed SB531, which would create the Arkansas Legislative Arts and Technology Boot Camp. The camp will issue a final written report, which will include an inventory of Arkansas’s statewide arts and cultural assets and identify funding needs to maintain a statewide database. The House will reconvene today at 1 pm. COVID-19 vaccine clinics this week in Ashdown, De Queen      4/05/2021 DE QUEEN – A number of COVID-19 vaccination clinics are scheduled throughout the listening area this week. In Sevier County, a vaccination clinic will be held in De Queen this Thursday, April 8. This event will be hosted by the Sevier County Health Unit and the Arkansas Department of Health. The clinic is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 8. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available for no out-of-pocket expense to eligible Arkansans. Those with insurance are asked to bring their insurance card. Insurance companies will pay the administrative costs of distributing the vaccine but will not pass on those costs in any way to the insurance holder. Everyone in Arkansas aged 18 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at this clinic. The vaccine will be distributed on a first-come, first serve basis. Everyone is asked to come inside the health unit to receive the shot. The vaccine distributed at this event will be the Johnson & Johnson shot, which requires only one dose so no second, follow-up shot will be needed. For more information, call the Sevier County Health Unit at 642-2535. Another clinic will be held in Ashdown as well this Thursday, April 8. Vaccines will be distributed on a first-come, first-service basis in a drive-thru fashion at Brookshire’s Pharmacy at 1310 S. Constitution Avenue in Ashdown. Finally, De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy will host an additional vaccination clinic this Saturday, April 10. The shot given at this event will be the Pfizer. This is also open to those who attended the pharmacy’s mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic last month and are now due for the second dose. The Pfizer vaccine is a two-dose vaccine that requires a waiting period of 21 days between doses. Following last week’s announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, everyone in Arkansas aged 16 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, is currently only open to those 18 and older. For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccines available to the public, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov ASP launch “U Text. U Drive. U Pay.” campaign against distracted driving      4/05/2021 The Arkansas State Police are working to tackle a growing problem across the nation – distracted driving. Next week, the ASP, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other law enforcement agencies in the U.S., will be taking part in an enforcement operation to shed more light on the issue. The effort is called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” and will include “stepped-up” efforts of stopping those who are showing obvious signs of driving while distracted. Typing a text message or reading one while driving and all the other distractions occurring inside a moving vehicle have become lifestyle practices leading to life threatening consequences, said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, in a press release. A driver taking their eyes off the road for five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour covers the length of a football field. The time and distance factors create a deadly formula, leaving a driver with little if any time to safely avoid a collision. The operation begins on April 5 and will continue through April 12. For more information on the program, head to DPS.Arkansas.gov.

Catch the 2020 Leopard Football Awards Show on DQTV      4/02/2021 DE QUEEN – Over the next couple of days, De Queen High School’s television production program, called DQTV, will be releasing the 2020-2021 Leopard Sports Award Shows from the district’s fall sports programs. The Leopard Booster Club’s annual banquet was unfortunately canceled last spring due to COVID-19. To avoid a similar situation this year, the booster club asked DQTV for assistance in making sure De Queen’s student-athletes would not miss out again due to the pandemic. The 2020 Leopard Football Awards Show can be found on the DQTV Youtube channel. DQTV will be releasing the 2020 Spring Sports Awards Shows in May.

Link to DQTV’s Youtube Launch Page
Link to the 2020 Leopard Football Awards Show

Hospital board discusses construction progress, CEO interviews      4/02/2021

During Thursday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, Board Chairman Dr. Steve Cole Cole expressed gratitude to Monte Bartek, who has volunteered his services as a drone operator to provide aerial photos of the hospital’s construction process. Cole said Bartek will provide a time lapse video showing construction of the hospital from beginning to end.

DE QUEEN – Construction of Sevier County’s new hospital is proceeding on target and with an expected opening date as early as March of next year. Updates on the construction process was the primary focus of Thursday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. Board Chairman Dr. Steve Cole despite some weather related issues over the past couple of months, construction is progressing smoothly and on time. The board is set to meet this month to narrow down its applications for the hospital’s CEO/administrator position. The administrator/CEO position will be responsible for overseeing construction of the new hospital as that process completes as well as heading all day-to-day operations once the medical center opens in 2022. The position will include a salary of between $160,000 and $200,000. Cole said the board plans to announce its CEO hire at its May meeting. Plans are to have the position filled and on the job by June 1. Board Treasurer Greg Revels provided a financial update, stating the hospital had over $1.5 million in sales tax revenue set aside. These funds will be used to help fund operations at the hospital once it opens next year. Revels said this war chest will be critical to ensure the hospital’s financial viability until it receives status as a Critical Access Hospital, which will provide additional reimbursement. Revels added that the sales tax revenue has been stronger than anyone could have expected, given the ongoing pandemic, and is a testament to local folks shopping locally and supporting the economy in Sevier County. Finally, Cole expressed gratitude to Monte Bartek, who has volunteered his services as a drone operator to provide aerial photos of the hospital’s construction process. Cole said Bartek will provide a time lapse video showing construction of the hospital from beginning to end. MAC to meet tonight to discuss community mural in De Queen      4/02/2021 DE QUEEN – A community group with plans to paint a mural in De Queen will meet this evening and are welcoming everyone to come by.

The Minority Affairs Council will meet Friday evening at 6 p.m. at the Sportsplex to continue plans for the mural. The Minority Affairs Council is a team of area organizers who announced plans earlier this year for a community mural as their first project in De Queen. The first community goal carried out by the Minority Affairs Council will be to cover up graffiti markings with a “Welcome to De Queen Mural” on a storage unit business vandalized this year on the Eastern edge of town. MAC has received permission from the business owner to paint the building’s exterior and the group is in the process of commissioning a team of artists to bring the work of community art to life. To fund the community mural, a series of fundraisers will be held to help cover the costs for supplies and provide artist compensation. People of all ages, ethnicities, religions and cultures are welcome to be involved in the Minority Affairs Council. For questions or to become involved in the mural or council itself, contact DQunity@gmail.com Four States Fair begins tonight      4/02/2021 TEXARKANA – The Four States Fair in Texarkana begins tonight. The gates open for the 10-day fair starting this evening at 5 p.m. The fair will run through Sunday, April 11. New this year, opening tonight, will feature AMMP Motor Sports Monster Trucks in the Entertainment Center at 7:30 p.m.  Event Tickets are available online at www.fourstatesfair.com The 76th Four States Fair will include MONSTER TRUCKS, DEMOLITION DERBY, RODEO, FOOD, MUSIC, WAGNER CARNIVAL and much more. For more information about and other events are Four States Fair visit, the website at www.fourstatesfair.com. ASP to join campaign against distracted driving      4/02/2021 The Arkansas State Police are working to tackle a growing problem across the nation – distracted driving. Next week, the ASP, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other law enforcement agencies in the U.S., will be taking part in an enforcement operation to shed more light on the issue. The effort is called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” and will include “stepped-up” efforts of stopping those who are showing obvious signs of driving while distracted. Typing a text message or reading one while driving and all the other distractions occurring inside a moving vehicle have become lifestyle practices leading to life threatening consequences, said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, in a press release. A driver taking their eyes off the road for five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour covers the length of a football field. The time and distance factors create a deadly formula, leaving a driver with little if any time to safely avoid a collision. The operation begins on April 5 and will continue through April 12. For more information on the program, head to DPS.Arkansas.gov. Little River County Memorial Hospital hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinic today      4/01/2021

ASHDOWN – The Little River Memorial Hospital will host a free COVID-19 vaccination Clinic all day today at its location in Ashdown. COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Organizers say they have enough vaccines to cover the vast majority of the expected demand. The clinic is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. For more information call (870) 898-5011, ext. 3161. Following this week’s announcement by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, all Arkansans aged 16 and up are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccines currently available to the public, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov. April marks Child Abuse Awareness Month      4/01/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and members of one local advocacy group are hoping to raise more attention to the ongoing issue of child abuse in Arkansas and across the nation.
Cynthia Martin, director of CASA of the Ouachitas, spoke with us this week about Child Abuse Awareness Month and how members of the community can help raise awareness. CASA, which stands for Court-Appointed-Special Advocates, provides local children in foster care services or who have suffered from abuse with a dedicated advocate to ensure they don’t fall through society’s cracks. Martin said April is a critical time for the organization to join with the public in helping end child abuse.
Martin said members of the community can assist in numerous ways – most vitally by reporting suspected incidents of child abuse. She said child advocacy organizations like the Department of Human Services performs thorough investigations to determine the validity of a child abuse case. In addition, DHS works with many partnering agencies to provide resources to a family and will only remove a child from a home in the most extreme cases.
Nonetheless, Martin said CASA and other child advocacy organizations can’t stress enough the need for people to report child abuse if they suspect it.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, incidents of domestic violence, child abuse and similar family-related crimes have increased. Martin said it’s certainly a rise CASA and other child advocacy organizations have witnessed over the past year.
Martin added that residents of Sevier County can help raise awareness of this growing issue and have a little fun in the process. Throughout this month, CASA is presenting “Best of the Blues Day.” Folks in the community are asked to wear blue on Fridays, grab their co-workers, take a photo and share them on the CASA Ouachita Region’s Facebook page. The photo with the most likes will win a pizza party at the end of the month. One picture from each of CASA’s counties, including Polk, Montgomery and Sevier, will be chosen. She said groups can post a photo each Friday to increase their chances to win.
In addition, Martin said CASA is always looking for volunteers to serve as advocates for children in a foster program or going through a court process. She said CASA is one of the best ways for ordinary people to become a voice for abused and neglected children.
For more information, call CASA’s De Queen office at (870) 518-4098.
Sevier County Health Unit hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinic next week      4/01/2021
DE QUEEN – Another COVID-19 vaccination clinic will be held in De Queen next Thursday, April 8. This event will be hosted by the Sevier County Health Unit and the Arkansas Department of Health. The clinic is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 8. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available for no out-of-pocket expense to eligible Arkansans. Those with insurance are asked to bring their insurance card. Insurance companies will pay the administrative costs of distributing the vaccine but will not pass on those costs in any way to the insurance holder. Currently, everyone in Arkansas aged 16 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will be distributed on a first-come, first serve basis. Everyone is asked to come inside the health unit to receive the shot. The vaccine distributed at this event will be the Johnson & Johnson shot, which requires only one dose so no second, follow-up shot will be needed. For more information, call the Sevier County Health Unit at 642-2535 or visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov De Queen FFA teams compete at state qualifier, several teams to compete this month at state event      4/01/2021 DE QUEEN – Students from the De Queen FFA Chapter recently completed in a virtual state qualifying competition for the statewide organization. The De Queen chapter had a total of nine teams on March 19 consisting of thirty-six FFA members vying for the right to compete at the state-level in-person contest. The nine teams competing included forestry, land, agronomy, horse, ag mechanics, milk quality and products, poultry, farm business management, and livestock. Four of the above teams will be advancing to the state competition held at Arkansas FFA’s Camp Couchdale. The livestock team consisting of Kane Faulkenberry, Aubrey Seymour, Olivia Cooley, and Ben Moniewski will be compete April 16. The milk quality and products team also will be advancing to the state finals on April 14. The team members include Kaleb Key, Zae-Li Frachiseur, Abisai De Jesus, and Misael Sanches. Travis Newberry, Guadalupe Olvera, J.D. Brinkley, and Yanet Dominguez will be representing the Agronomy team at Couchdale on April 9th. Land team members including C.J. Chandler, Dulce Vargas, Hailey Carter, and Berenice Martinez will compete on April 19 as well. Members of De Queen Public Schools congratulated all of these Future Farmers and wished them well at the next level.

Minority Affairs Council meeting in De Queen tomorrow to continue project on local welcome mural      4/01/2021 DE QUEEN – A community group with plans to paint a mural in De Queen will meet this Friday and are welcoming everyone to come by. The Minority Affairs Council will meet Friday evening at 6 p.m. at the Sportsplex to continue plans for the mural. The Minority Affairs Council is a team of area organizers who announced plans earlier this year for a community mural as their first project in De Queen. The new Non-Profit organization is aiming to support the minority populations of Sevier County and unite the communities of Southwest Arkansas as a whole, according to organizers. After their most recent meeting held in downtown De Queen in February, leaders conducted a poll and voted “Minority Affairs Council” as the name for the group. The first community goal carried out by the Minority Affairs Council will be to cover up graffiti markings with a “Welcome to De Queen Mural” on a storage unit business recently vandalized on the Eastern edge of town. MAC has received permission from the business owner to paint the building’s exterior and the group is in the process of commissioning a team of artists to bring the work of community art to life. To fund the community mural, a series of fundraisers will be held to help cover the costs for supplies and provide artist compensation. People of all ages, ethnicities, religions and cultures are welcome to be involved in the Minority Affairs Council. For questions or to become involved in the mural or council itself, contact DQunity@gmail.com De Queen parent-teacher conferences scheduled for today      4/01/2021 DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools has announced it will conduct parent-teacher conferences this afternoon. District officials said, in order to protect the health of everyone, teachers will not conduct face-to-face parent-teacher conferences on campus. Instead, teachers will be available through email this afternoon from 3-4 p.m. Due to the limitations of the campus phone system, teachers will not be able to communicate via phone calls during this time. However, if you feel the need for a one on one conversation with a teacher, a phone conference can be scheduled with teachers during their regular conference hours.

Create Bridges promoting local business survey, continuing small business podcast      4/01/2021

DE QUEEN – The CREATE BRIDGES of Arkansas team is seeking information about the shopping and dining styles of local residents in Southwest Arkansas. Your response to this survey will help provide small business owners with important feedback to understand the region’s consumer base and to evolve their company practices. These surveys will help support small business programs in Southwest Arkansas and those who respond through the survey will be entered for a chance to win a $100 gift card. The survey can be found here: https://uaex.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3aNCABuBpVbgCDI?fbclid=IwAR2qe_Fqj7OselIW07D_HG2g4NyjpwRVpVt_AEFRPhYRWxPjEGl25maezRk The Create Bridges team is continuing to release new episodes of its locally based podcast. The podcast — titled “Arkansas Small Business: Big Rural Impact” — spotlights retail, entertainment, accommodations and tourism businesses in two areas of the state: north central Arkansas and Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties in southwestern Arkansas. The most recent episode from March 25 includes a conversation with Esteban Ochoa of De Queen and owner of Smart Phone EMT. He speaks about the importance of communication across different generations, and different languages. The discussion also provides some insight and inspiration to making a business successful through caring about employees first so they can genuinely care about people. All episodes are available through the Spring River Innovation Hub’s Apple Podcasts and Spotify pages. They can also be downloaded at uaex.edu/createbridgesresources. The goals of the series are to highlight products and services of businesses in these regions and to discuss ways business owners address workforce development, technology and infrastructure. The podcast also focuses on how businesses are adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers say they’re also trying to foster collaborations and partnerships between local businesses in rural communities. For more information about “Arkansas Small Business: Big Rural Impact” or to suggest a potential business owner for an interview, email createbridgesar@gmail.com. To learn more about Create Bridges, visit https://uaex.edu/createbridges or contact Julianne Dunn at 501-671-2158 or jbdunn@uaex.edu. Arkansas’ utility disconnect moratorium to expire May 3      4/01/2021 The Arkansas Public Service Commission has announced the state’s COVID-19 utility service disconnection moratorium will end May 3. Consumers with past due balances will now begin receiving disconnection notices to their mailing addresses from their utility companies providing at least a 35-day grace period before shut-off notices will be sent. This applies to customers of Entergy, SWEPCO, CenterPoint Energy and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, among other energy providers. For those still struggling to catch up on their utility bills due to the financial impact of COVID-19, it’s important to take action immediately to seek assistance to avoid disconnection after May 3. Verify what you owe directly with your utility company. Information, including what is owed, must be provided in writing to each customer with a past due balance. Contact the utility company and discuss a payment plan if your bill is unaffordable. Utility companies are required to provide information regarding available payment options on their website and social media platforms. Utility companies are required to offer plans which provide a minimum of 18 months to repay any past due balances with no down payment required. Utility companies must also provide information regarding funds that may be available through assistance agencies or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Law enforcement agencies also warn consumers to not fall for fake calls about utility bills. Verify the status of your account directly with the utility company. You should contact them. Do not assume that someone who contacts you works for the utility company. It could be a scam. The Public Service Commission does not regulate municipal utilities or private water companies, and customers of those utility companies are not affected by the moratorium order.

Arkansas’ face mask mandate lifted, COVID-19 vaccine now available to all Arkansans 16 and older      3/31/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Arkansas’ enforceable face mask mandate officially ended Tuesday afternoon.
The announcement to lift the mandate was made during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference and comes more than a year into the ongoing pandemic. Arkansas now joins several other states, including neighboring Texas and Mississippi, in ending the requirement to wear face masks in public settings.
Hutchinson said the decision was made after Arkansas hit the target set by the state earlier this year. That included fewer than 750 Arkansans hospitalized as of March 31. Currently just 170 people are receiving treatment for COVID-19 in an Arkansas medical facility.

Arkansas restaurants, hotels, healthcare clinics, government offices, schools and other facilities may continue to enforce their own face mask requirements, Hutchinson said. He urged Arkansans to respect the decisions made by these entities when it comes to face mask usage.

Hutchinson then announced the state was opening up eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to all Arkansans aged 16 and older. This eliminates all eligibility restrictions in Arkansas save those set by the vaccine manufacturers.

Arkansans can call the Arkansas Department of Health’s vaccine hotline at 1-800-985-6030 to find their nearest vaccine distribution site.

Finally, Hutchinson provided an update on Arkansas’ statewide COVID-19 figures and vaccine distribution effort. As of Tuesday the state had received 1.6 million vaccines. Of those, 1.2 million have been given, a current rate of around 69 percent. Over 407,000 Arkansans are now fully immunized, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
On Tuesday, the state reported an additional 178 new cases of COVID-19 across Arkansas. That raises the statewide cumulative total to more than 330,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 56 to 1,717 currently. Deaths increased by 15 over the same period for a total of 5,616. Hospitalizations increased by six to leave 170 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.
De Queen soccer fans advised of changes while renovations continue at Leopards Stadium      3/31/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools is informing Leopards soccer fans of some ongoing construction and how that will affect attendance at games in the near future.

Earlier this year the district began some much-needed repairs and renovations at Leopard Stadium, including the construction of new bleachers for Leopards home fans. However, with construction currently underway, district officials say this will have a major impact on its remaining home soccer games.

District officials are encouraging anyone who plans to attend any of the remaining home soccer games to bring their own chair as bleachers will be unavailable on the home side. Fans are welcome to sit around the track on the home side of the field, along the rail by the restrooms or any other location that is safe for them and their family.

District officials said they regret any inconvenience caused at future games but expect Leopard Stadium to look better than ever when renovations are completed.

The De Queen School Board voted unanimously in January to approve nearly $970,000 for renovations at the stadium – which is host not just to numerous school sporting events but also the district’s graduation ceremony and other community events.

Superintendent Jason Sanders said the project is being funded internally through money remaining from the construction fund for the new high school. Work is being performed by Clarke Construction – the same contractor who built the new high school on-time and under-budget. As part of the repair work, the home side will receive new aluminum bleachers as well as safety fencing and handrails around the facility.

Given the importance of the stadium not just to the school but the community as a whole, Sanders said it’s vital the facility stays in top shape for years to come.

Horatio Schools to recommend, not require face masks after statewide mandate is lifted     3/31/2021

HORATIO – Officials with the Horatio School District provided an update to the school’s face mask policy following yesterday’s lifting of the Arkansas face mask mandate.

In a statement, Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said the district will encourage and recommend all students and staff to follow guidelines from the CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health to wear masks and social distance while at school or extracurricular events. The use of face masks will not, however, be required.

Vanderpool said, to help the district’s teachers, parents are asked to send notes to their child’s teachers to let them know whether or not their child should wear a face mask while at school or at school events.

Vanderpool added that the district will continue to offer multiple opportunities for hand-washing and sanitizing at stations throughout its facilities. He said the district will also continue to clean, disinfect, and sanitize classrooms and other areas throughout Horatio schools.

urthermore, the district will continue to promote social distancing in classes where feasible and increase air circulation and ventilation within its facilities.

Vanderpool said it is vital for the district to continue onsite instruction as much as possible through the last day of school on May 27. He asked school families to help through healthy habits to ensure a strong ending to the school year.

Finally, Vanderpool expressed the district’s gratitude to Horatio students, staff and community in following health guidelines throughout this school year and “maintaining a healthy and safe environment within the district.” The district was forced to cancel in-class instruction within its schools just twice this school year due to COVID-19 – less than many other districts across the state.

De Queen kindergarten registration now underway     3/31/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools has announced registration information and dates for local children entering kindergarten for the upcoming school year.

To register for the 2021-2022 kindergarten class at De Queen Public Schools, children must be five on or before Aug. 1.

Parents wanting to enroll their child for Kindergarten this fall can now come to the Primary office and pick up a registration packet. All registration packets will need to be turned back into the Primary office by Friday, April 30. The same packets have already been sent to the local pre-schools if your child attends any De Queen pre-school.

If you live outside the De Queen School District and would like to send your child to De Queen Schools next year, you’re asked to fill out a school choice form at the administration office by April 30.

Also, De Queen Primary Registration for the 2021-2022 school year will be held at the Primary School on Wednesday, Aug. 4, for new Kindergarten students as well as new and returning first and second grade students.

COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Ashdown now open to all Arkansans 16 and up     3/31/2021
ASHDOWN – The Little River Memorial Hospital will host a free COVID-19 vaccination Clinic this Thursday, April 1 at its location in Ashdown.

COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed to all those currently eligible on a first-come, first-serve basis. Organizers say they have enough vaccines to cover the vast majority of the expected demand.

The clinic will begin at 8 a.m. this Thursday and continue through 6 p.m. that evening. The Little River Memorial Hospital is located at 451 West Locke Street in Ashdown.

For more information call (870) 898-5011, ext. 3161.

Following yesterday’s announcement by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, all Arkansans aged 16 and up are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccines currently available to the public, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

Chalice Cupboard, De Queen FUMC to distribute food today     3/31/2021

DE QUEEN – The Chalice Cupboard will be distributing food boxes today from 2-4 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. Recipients are asked to come south down Fifth Street and enter the back of the church and exit on Fourth Street.  There will be a limit of one box per automobile. Organizers ask that you do not get out of your automobile for the safety of all recipients and staff. Visitors are asked to pop their trunk so that the box can be put inside their vehicle.

Idabel Dogwood Days kicks off this weekend     3/31/2021

IDABEL, Okla. – Celebrate springtime in Idabel with a visit to the Dogwood Days festival this weekend. Held annually in April, festivities include a myriad of craft vendors, kid games, live entertainment and more. Enjoy some great fair food under the dogwood blooms while browsing through the festival’s retail sidewalk sales. The festival kicks-off with a Mr. & Mrs. Dogwood Days Pageant and First Friday, a monthly music and food truck event. Saturday is packed with a golf tournament, crawfish boil, car show, chicken cook-off, movie night, street dance and many other vendors and attractions.

A spring tradition in Idabel, the Dogwood Days Festival features something for everyone and prides itself on providing good, old-fashioned family entertainment. Bring the entire family and enjoy a bike show, chainsaw carving demonstrations, free concert, scavenger hunt, dance troupes and even a lawn and garden show. This year’s Dogwood Days Festival will begin this Friday, April 2 and continue on Saturday, April 3.

Rep. Vaught provides update on Arkansas House, passing of ARHOME bill     3/31/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has provided us with an additional update detailing activities in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

By a vote of 64-34, Vaught informed us the House passed SB410 on Tuesday. This bill establishes the framework for a new Medicaid expansion program called ARHOME which stands for Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me. ARHOME would replace the current Arkansas Works program. It would continue to offer low-income families private insurance, with incentives for taking advantage of work opportunities, education, and skill development.

The House also passed the following:

HB1788, which would allow a municipal improvement district to enter a partnership with a private sector company to provide broadband internet service.

SB161 would allow public schools to offer a hunting safety course as part of their curriculum.

SB163-This bill creates the Arkansas Military Affairs Council Act and establishes the Military Affairs Grant Program. The council will work with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to promote and support military installations for state and local economic development.

SB397-This bill directs the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a Consumer Guide for prospective students entering an Arkansas college or university and their parents.

The guide would include the following information on each state-supported higher education institution:

Retention and graduation rates.

The cost of tuition. The average amount borrowed and loan default rate. Percentage of students who applied for first-time undergraduate admission and were offered admission. Average composite test scores of students enrolled.

Job placement of students within the first three years of graduation.

The House will reconvene on Wednesday at 1 pm.

Arkansas turkey season begins April 19 with a few big changes     3/31/2021

With just a few weeks left until the opening day of Arkansas’s turkey season, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is finishing up printing of the 2021 Arkansas Turkey Hunting Guidebook, which contains all regulations for this year’s hunt. The guidebooks will be distributed in the next week, but for those wanting a copy now, a digital download is available at www.agfc.com.

Arkansas turkey hunters will see some major changes in their season this April, all focused to help recover the state’s eastern wild turkey population, which has seen some concerning declines during the last decade.

Jeremy Wood, AGFC wild turkey program coordinator, says the changes are an effort to balance the needs of the turkey population with the desires of hunters.

One of the most visible changes is the revamping of the state’s private land turkey hunting zones beginning in the 2021 season. Eighteen turkey zones have been condensed to two, and all zone boundaries will be based on county lines.

The season structures for the zones are similar to last year, with Zone 1 being a nine-day season with a one-bird bag limit and Zone 2 being a 21-day season with a two-bird bag limit. Under this new arrangement, Sevier, Howard, Polk and Hempstead counties are all included under Zone 2. Little River and Miller Counties are now included in Zone 1.

AGFC officials also stress that public land hunters remember that each wildlife management area and national wildlife refuge is its own zone with separate regs and zone numbers.

This year’s season opener is one of the latest opening days for Arkansas’s turkey season in recent history — April 19. This coincides with the long-term average peak egg-laying date in Arkansas. The delay is an effort to let more reproduction take place before hunters begin to remove mature gobblers from the landscape.

Another new regulation also will distribute some of the hunting success among the growing number of hunters taking up turkey hunting. Much of the state still has a two-turkey seasonal limit, but all hunters will only be able to take one turkey during the first seven days of regular turkey season, regardless of zone.

There are a few other regulations new to this year’s season and all can be viewed by checking out the digital and downloadable version of the 2021 Arkansas Turkey Hunting Guidebook at www.agfc.com.

Deadline extended to May 31 for PPP loan program     3/31/2021

Small businesses, corporations and farmers now have an additional two months to apply for the latest round of assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program, also known as PPP.

The current round of PPP was set to expire today. However, late last week the U.S. Senate voted to extend that deadline to May 31. Yesterday President Biden signed that extension into law.

The deadline to apply for a PPP loan has now been extended from March 31 to May 31, and the law extends authorization of loans to June 30 to give the Small Business Administration additional time to process applications.

The U.S. Small Business Administration stresses that the program is based on the availability of funds, so it could pay to apply as early as possible.

PPP is a part of the coronavirus stimulus plan under the 2020 CARES Act and provides forgivable loans up to $10 million.

As of March 28, the program has approved more than 8.7 million loans totaling more than $734 billion since it was created last year, according to Small Business Administration data.

The program is aimed to help not just corporations, but also small producers, small-scale farmers, sole proprietors, self employed and independent contractors. There’s no minimum loan size. The SBA reports some loans have been as small as $500 and as large as the maximum loan of $10 million.

The funds can also be used for more than just payroll. They can be a source of income replacement and use the proceeds for rent expenses, utility payments, certain costs and expenses with suppliers, and even certain interest payments on loans such as land loans and equipment loans. There are certain requirements to meet to ensure the loan is forgivable. The interest rate remains at one percent.

For more information, and to view the application process, visit www.sba.gov

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Sevier County down to one reported active case     3/31/2021

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continue to decline to near zero levels, with two less cases yesterday. Currently, the county is only identifying one confirmed or probable active cases of COVID-19. Cumulative cases grew slightly to 2,778. Deaths remained at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases were unchanged at eight. Overall cases rose by five to 1,222 while deaths remained at 40.

Active cases in Howard County grew by one to five. Overall cases rose to 1,640. Deaths in Howard County due to COVID-19 remained at 24.

Polk County is reporting two active cases of the virus currently, a decline of one from Monday. Total cases grew slightly to 1,959 while deaths were unchanged at 69.

Arkansas Minority Health Commission offering scholarships     3/31/2021

The Arkansas Minority Health Commission (AMHC) is currently accepting applications for its Minority Health Workforce Diversity scholarship from now until April 21.

Full or part-time college students of a minority race who plan to pursue a career in the field of health are encouraged to apply.

The goal of the scholarship is to help increase diversity in the state’s healthcare workforce, which organizers hope will have positive effects on both the health of minority populations and the quality of care in Arkansas.

Full-time scholarship recipients will be awarded $1,000 per academic year and part-time recipients, $500 per academic year.

Students who wish to apply for the scholarship may download the application at www.arminorityhealth.com/initiatives/workforce-diversity-scholarship. The completed application form must be emailed to AMHC’s human resource specialist, Onekia Freeman, at Onekia.Freeman@arkansas.gov.

Little River Memorial Hospital to host COVID-19 vaccination clinic April 1      3/30/2021

ASHDOWN – The Little River Memorial Hospital will host a free COVID-19 vaccination Clinic this Thursday, April 1 at its location in Ashdown.

COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed to all those currently eligible on a first-come, first-serve basis. Organizers say they have enough vaccines to cover the vast majority of the expected demand.
The clinic will begin at 8 a.m. this Thursday and continue through 6 p.m. that evening. The Little River Memorial Hospital is located at 451 West Locke Street in Ashdown.
For more information call (870) 898-5011, ext. 3161.
Everyone in Phase 1C, 1B and 1A are currently eligible for the vaccine. Phase 1C makes the vaccine eligible to all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 with a existing health condition which makes them more vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Phase 1C also focuses on essential workers and people living in congregate settings like correctional facilities and student housing.
For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
Former Horatio man killed in motorcycle accident in Texarkana     3/30/2021
A former resident of Horatio was killed last week in a motorcycle accident in Texas.
According to the Texarkana Texas Police Department, officers were dispatched to the 2700 block of New Boston Road on March 25 after receiving a report of a motor vehicle accident involving a pickup truck and a motorcycle.
Upon arriving, officers learned 36-year-old Charles Devin Kissenger was riding his 2011 Harley Davidson eastbound on New Boston Road when a pickup turned left onto the road and into Kissenger’s path. The driver of the truck was identified as 69-year-old James Bennington of Texarkana.
Kissenger was transported to Wadley Hospital with serious injuries, where he later passed away. Pennington was not injured in the incident.
Texarkana police stated the accident remains under investigation.
Kissenger, who is originally from Horatio, was living in Texarkana at the time of the accident.
Horatio FFA competes at state event in March     3/30/2021

Madison Bagley was the second highest individual scorer in Arkansas during the recent state FFA championship. She is a student at Horatio High School.

HORATIO – The Horatio School District is giving a big shout out to the high school’s Future Farmers of America Chapter. A number of students in the local FFA chapter competed during the recent state competition.
The Livestock Judging team will include Madison Bagley, Gabbi Litchford, Hunter Frachiseur and Raylee VanVoast. They scored second in the state earlier this month.
The Vet Science team included Grace Wagner, Payton Allen, Caleb Klitz and Megan Midgett. Together they scored 11th in the state.

A special congrats goes to the 2nd highest scoring individual in the state, Madison Bagley and 16th highest scorer Grace Wagner.

De Queen’s Spring Clean Up week begins Monday     3/30/2021
DE QUEEN – Spring is here that has city leaders in De Queen gearing up for the annual municipal Spring clean up week.
Spring clean up week will begin next Monday, April 5 and continue through April 9. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles.
The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. between April 5-9.
New this year, the city is also launching an Adopt-a-Block program. Mayor Brown said this is a way for city residents to give back by ensuring the areas around their homes, neighborhoods and nearby streets are cleaned up and free of trash.
Gov. Hutchinson signs computer science bill co-sponsored by Rep. Vaught     3/30/2021
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law legislation to require that high school students take a computer science course before graduating.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the measure last week, which was part of his legislative agenda for this year’s session.
The requirement begins with students entering ninth grade class of the 2022-2023 school year.
A task force recommended the requirement last year. A 2015 measure Hutchinson signed into law required every public high school to offer computer science.
The legislation was co-sponsored by State Rep. DeAnn Vaught, whose district includes Little River County and most of Sevier.
De Queen Public Schools set virtual parent-teacher conferences for April 1     3/30/2021
De Queen Public Schools has announced it will conduct parent-teacher conferences this week. And like many other school activities, COVID-19 has changed how those conferences will be held.
District officials said, in order to protect the health of everyone, teachers will not conduct face-to-face parent-teacher conferences on campus. Instead, teachers will be available through email this Thursday, April 1 from 3-4 p.m.

Due to the limitations of the campus phone system, teachers will not be able to communicate via phone calls during this time. However, if you feel the need for a one on one conversation with a teacher, a phone conference can be scheduled with teachers during their regular conference hours.

Jason Mitchell receives award through NWTF     3/30/2021

An Arkansas Game and Fish Commission employee and resident of Polk County was awarded through the Arkansas chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation in Little Rock earlier this month.

Jason Mitchell was presented the annual award for his work toward wild turkey conservation in The Natural State.

Mitchell, an AGFC wildlife biologist from Polk County, received the Arkansas NWTF Wildlife Manager of the Year Award. Mitchell has worked for the AGFC for 20 years. He works on Caney Creek and Muddy Creek WMAs, two large management areas owned by the USDA Forest Service and managed under a cooperative agreement between the Forest Service and the AGFC.

Since 2016, Mitchell has assisted research efforts trapping and outfitting turkeys with radio-tracking equipment to determine harvest and survival rates of jake turkeys following the AGFC’s “no jake harvest” rule.  Mitchell has logged more than 1,000 hours since 2016 from January through February in trapping efforts for the research.

He also identified additional avenues for turkey habitat improvements on Muddy Creek WMA that led to a cooperative agreement that will improve approximately 4,000 acres on the area.

In addition to all the work Mitchell has completed for turkeys, his work also is essential to Arkansas’s black bear program and monitoring for chronic wasting disease to track how far into the state the disease has spread.

The NWTF — a national nonprofit organization — is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America. Founded in 1973, the NWTF is headquartered in Edgefield, S.C., and has local chapters in every state. The NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of the nation’s hunting heritage.

Holly Creek Missionary Baptist Church Easter Homecoming this Sunday     3/30/2021

GRANNIS – The annual homecoming and decoration day at Holly Grove Missionary Baptist Church will resume on Easter Sunday, April 4.

Sunday school begins at 10 a.m., worship services at 11. A basket lunch will be shared at noon with an egg hunt for the children and singing in the afternoon.

The church is located four and a half miles east of Grannis on Frachiseur Road. Everyone is welcome to attend.

De Queen Chalice Cupboard to giveaway food tomorrow     3/30/2021

DE QUEEN – The Chalice Cupboard will be distributing food boxes this Wednesday, March 31 from 2-4 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. Recipients are asked to come south down Fifth Street and enter the back of the church and exit on Fourth Street.  There will be a limit of one box per automobile. Organizers ask that you do not get out of your automobile for the safety of all recipients and staff. Visitors are asked to pop their trunk so that the box can be put inside their vehicle.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     3/30/2021

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County continue to decline to near zero levels, with two less cases yesterday. Currently, the county is only identifying three confirmed or probable active cases of COVID-19. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,775. Deaths remained at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases were unchaged at eight. Overall cases remained at 1,217 and deaths at 40.

Active cases in Howard County were unchanged at four. Overall cases remain at 1,637. Deaths in Howard County due to COVID-19 remained at 24.

Polk County is reporting three active cases of the virus currently. Total cases were unchanged at 1,958 and deaths at 69.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That raises the total number of transmissions to just over 330,000 cases since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 172 to 1,958 currently. Deaths increased by six yesterday for a total of 5,595. Hospitalizations also fell, dropping by seven for a total of 164 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

ONF conducting prescribed burns in McCurtain, Montgomery Counties      3/29/2021
National forest fire managers are currently conducting prescribed burns in areas across the Ouachita National Forest and the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.

Prescribed burns for today include nearly 1,500 acres of the Ouachita National Forest in McCurtain County. That fire began yesterday and folks may have seen the large cloud of smoke to the west. The Forest Service is also burning an additional 1,160 acres of national forest land near Mt. Ida in Montgomery County.
Smaller scale prescribed fires will also resume today in select locations to achieve critical forest management objectives, according to officials.
The U.S. Forest Service announced it plans to burn around 250,000 acres combined between the Ouachita and Ozark National Forests this spring. Both forests cover land in Arkansas as well as Oklahoma. Prescribed fires, also known as controlled fires, are intended to meet several objectives. According to the Forest Service, the first objective of prescribed burns is to reduce the potential for large, costly catastrophic wildfires. Other important objectives include improving habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.
People with smoke sensitivities, who are not on the Forest Service’s prescribed burn notification list, should contact their nearest ranger district to be added. Area residents can call the Hochatown office at (580) 494-6402 or the Mena Office at (479) 394-2382. Many conditions must be met before a prescribed fire can be ignited. The day chosen must be a combination of the correct humidity, wind speed and direction, temperature, fuel moisture, and atmospheric conditions. Factoring in all these requirements limits the number of days in which a prescribed fire can take place.
The Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests will notify local media outlets and smoke sensitive residents on days when prescribed fires are scheduled in their area. Daily updates on prescribed fires across the forests can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita
Forest Service officials remind that flying drones over a wildfire or prescribed burn puts firefighting pilots in danger. This violation of federal, state, and local laws may subject the offender to civil penalties, including fines of up to $25,000, and potentially criminal prosecution.
As always the public is asked to report any unattended wildfires by calling 911 or the Forests’ fire dispatch at 501-321-5232.
AGFC, state veterinarians warn of diseases affecting birds in the Natural State      3/29/2021

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission would like to remind everyone to take the time to keep bird feeders clean and prevent the spread of diseases among the feathered friends you are trying to help. If you see groups of sick or dead birds, please report them to AGFC using the wildlife health reporting system at agfc.health@agfc.ar.gov. Please include your contact information, the date and time of the observation, the location of the event, the number and species of animals affected, a description of what you observed and any pictures or videos you have with your report.

Social media has been lighting up with news about Salmonella outbreaks among finches in Oregon and California, with advice to readers to take down the feeders because they cause birds to congregate and spread infection. State wildlife experts say the issue is now showing up in Arkansas.
Signs of infection can include lethargy, having their feathers fluffed up and staying on the ground and avoiding flight.
Some of the birds themselves could be carriers of the Salmonella bacteria which they can then spread to other birds when congregating at feeders. Salmonella, other bacteria and fungi can also “grow in spoiled feeds in bird feeders. It is always a good idea to periodically clean and disinfect bird feeders and waterers to prevent disease.
Bird experts in Arkansas are suggesing people clean out any hulls or seed residue that would get moldy or rot in spring’s warmer and rainy weather.
Dustan Clark with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission warned that Salmonella can also cause illness in humans and urged people to take precautions. Cats and any other animals that eat the sick birds may also become sick or infected.
If you pick up a dead bird, wear gloves or use a plastic bag over your hands and turn the bag inside out once you’ve picked up the bird. Then wash your hands with soap and water. When you clean the feeder, wear gloves as well.
If the public finds sick or dead birds, email agfc.health@agfc.ar.gov and provide contact information, the location of sick or dead birds, when they found the sick or dead birds, the number of sick or dead birds and include any photos.
Mycoplasma infections are also common in spring Clark said. This infection is common about this time of year. It’s a bacterial infection of the eye, the area around the eye and the sinuses. It will cause eyes to swell shut.
Disease outbreaks are sometimes linked to migrations, though they can happen year-round.

Clark also warned those with backyard chickens and turkeys to keep “wild birds out of your chicken houses” to prevent their flocks from being infected.

Dr. Jenn Ballard, state wildlife veterinarian for the AGFC, says the bacteria that causes Mycoplasma is spread from bird-to-bird through contact with feeders and other surfaces where infected birds have been.

Ballard says if a person spots a bird at their feeder that shows signs of disease, the best way to help is to remove the feeder for at least two weeks, disinfect it with a bleach-and-water solution and allow it to dry completely before setting it out again with fresh seed.

Ballard suggests people who want to use feeders look for those without platforms or wide perches where droppings can accumulate and help spread bacteria. Wooden feeders, while pretty, can also increase the risk of disease transmission as they are much more difficult to disinfect. Multiple feeders that hold low amounts of food also are preferred, as they help spread birds out instead of piling up on a single feeder. Frequent refilling also will help you remember to give it a good cleaning on occasion.

House committee advances proposal to rework Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion      3/29/2021

The 11th week of the session was an abbreviated one as the General Assembly of the Arkansas House of Representatives took a recess for Spring Break. Before members left the Capitol, the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee advanced a new version of the Medicaid expansion program.

State Representative DeAnn Vaught explained the new bill, titled SB 410. SB 410 establishes the framework for a new program called ARHOME which stands for Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me.

Currently, more than 300,000 Arkansans receive healthcare services under the Arkansas Works program. However, the federal government is moving to end the work requirement, and the current waiver expires at the end of this year.

ARHOME would continue to offer low-income families private insurance, with incentives for taking advantage of career and work opportunities, education and skill development, and health or other activities that will lead to long-term economic independence.

In addition, ARHOME would offer targeted plans for Arkansans living in rural areas, pregnant women and families and another plan focusing on veterans, those who were incarcerated and those once in foster care.

SB410 will now go before the full House for a vote.

If approved, it will still require federal approval from the Biden administration for a waiver of Medicaid rules.

While the General Assembly had previously planned on wrapping up the session by April 9, it now appears it may take a few more weeks to complete the current session.

The Arkansas Legislative Council will meet today to consider a request by the Governor to extend the public health emergency. The House will convene again this afternoon.

You can watch live streams of all House meetings atwww.arkansashouse.org.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/29/2021

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of one yesterday for a current total of five. The weekend’s total drop in COVID-19 active cases lowered that figure below the two-digit mark for the first time since nearly the beginning of the pandemic last spring. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,775. Deaths remained at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases decreased by one to eight. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,217 and deaths at 40.

Active cases in Howard County were unchanged at four. Overall cases remain at 1,637. Deaths in Howard County due to COVID-19 remained at 24.

Polk County is reported three active cases of the virus currently. Total cases were unchanged at 1,958 and deaths at 69.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 69 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That raises the total number of transmissions to slightly over 329,000 cases since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 87 to 1,945 currently. Deaths increased by five yesterday for a total of 5,595.

Sevier County unemployment rate sees relatively sizable uptick in January      3/26/2021

DE QUEEN – Newly released economic data shows Sevier County’s unemployment rate experienced a relatively large increase during the first month of the year.
The unemployment increase follows a significant decrease experienced in December. That decrease followed a trend seen across the state as Arkansas’ economic situation bettered after the initial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Despite January’s increase, Sevier County’s unemployment rate remains below the U.S. average but more than a full percentage point higher than the median in Arkansas.
The new data details Sevier County’s unemployment rate in January – the latest month for which data is available. The unemployment rate increased by 1.3 points, from 4.4 in December 5.7 in January. The overall unemployment in Arkansas for Jaunary was 4.6 percent and 6.2 percent across the nation.
The increase seen in January could be a leveling out of the local unemployment rate after it fell more than a full point in December. Sevier County’s unemployment rate has more or less tacked higher but proportionately to the average rates in Arkansas and the country. The county’s unemployment rate reached a high shortly after the pandemic entered Arkansas but has fallen back to pre-pandemic levels since then.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sevier County currently ranks 47 out of 75 counties in the state for the lowest unemployment – a ranking which has just about stayed the same throughout 2020. With a 5.7 percent unemployment rate and out of a work force of nearly 7,500 in Sevier County – according to a 2018 government estimate – around 430 county residents are currently recorded as unemployed. The county’s highest unemployment rate was recorded nearly a decade ago, in January 2011 with 10.3 percent.
Of course, the rate does not reflect those who are under-employed – that is, they’re not receiving as much work as they would like. The figure does not include people who are currently unemployed but are no longer receiving benefits. The unemployment rate is not a perfect indicator of economic activity in an area but it does show that employment is likely flattening out to pre-pandemic levels among area residents.
Neighboring Little River County’s latest unemployment data shows the county is 49th out of 75 states with an unemployment rate in January of 5.8 percent.
Howard County has edged up on the ranking list from ninth in December to seventh in January. That month’s unemployment rate fell to just 4.1 percent.
Statewide, Benton County reported the lowest unemployment rate of just 3.6 percent. Chicot County continues to report the highest rate in the state with 11.1 percent.
Sevier County Library System announces upcoming activities      3/26/2021
DE QUEEN – Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher is making us aware of a few activities going on across the county’s four libraries.

The De Queen branch reports its “Community Indoor Rock Garden” box is ready. In partnership with Froglevel Studios, the library is offering free rock painting kits for kids to take home, paint and place in the community indoor rock garden. All area children are invited to stop by and have some fun with this project.
The De Queen Library is hosting a “Book Yard Sale.” There are 10 cent books for sale or you can buy a whole bag for $1. The library has some newer regular size paperback books for 50 cents. Tall paperbacks and hardcovers are $1 each. The library offers a good selection of books for all ages in the Dailey Meeting Room, ranging from kids books to Non- fiction as well as Christian Fiction and Western. And for prices that can’t be beat.
The De Queen Library is also reaching out to the community to see if anyone has a working typewriter or word processor they would be wiling to donate. Fisher said the library continues to use a typewriter for book tags as computer generated ones are expensive and bulky.
The De Queen Library will host story time events for area children on March 31, April 7 and April 21. The story time sessions will be hosted on at the library’s Facebook page, located at www.facebook.com/seviercountylibrary. Kelsie and Ms. Mattie will present these exciting stories.
The Horatio Library is reminding its patrons it is again open to the public. Nonetheless, the library continues to offer curbside services for those uncomfortable going inside. The Horatio Library will host its story time events on April 3 and a second story on April 7 on its Facebook page.
The Horatio Library’s hours of operation are Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 12 noon. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give Amy a call at 870-832-6882. Stay safe everyone.
The Lockesburg Library is again sharing plant seeds for those ready to grow something this spring. The seed program is back and better than ever according to Lockesburg Librarian, Ms. Wendy. Stop by the library in April on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and select from themed seed kits. Chose from herbs, veggies, or flowers. First come, first serve, while supplies last. Besides giving away seeds, the library will welcome seeds saved by local gardeners to pass on to other growers. The library has a lot of books about gardening and Mother Earth News magazine to help you with your gardening questions. Call the Lockesburg Library at (870) 289-2233 for more information.
For your convenience the Lockesburg Library’s card catalog can be accessed at: https://elvolveopac.infovisionsoftware.com/lockesburg.
The Gillham Library is doing some spring cleaning and has some great books for sale so come and check out the ongoing book sale. Current features include C.J. Box’s “Big Sky,” “A Matter of Life and Death” by Philip Margolin, Michael Koryta’s “Never Far Away”, and “Open Carry” by new author Marc Cameron. The “News of the World” DVD starring Tom Hanks should be available soon. Librarians Kelsie and Amy will have two story times each month on their Facebook page. The Gillham Library is open Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and again on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Searchers getting creative at Crater of Diamonds State Park      3/26/2021
MURFREESBORO – Spring is here and that surely has many local folks thinking about enjoying one of Arkansas’ great state parks. One of the nearby state parks is a one-of-a-kind destination – that being, of course, the Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro.
Last week Arkansas State Parks including Crater of Diamonds resumed limited in-person interpretive programming for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. Some restrictions remain in place, such as a suspension on renting mining equipment. But the park won’t stop anyone from bringing their own qualifying equipment.
Since the park has suspended mining equipment rentals during the pandemic, most visitors now bring their own tools from home or from one of the local businesses and individuals who rent and sell mining equipment. Buckets, shovels, and screens are the most common tools of the trade, but it’s interesting to see other unique gear people bring to help them find diamonds.
On more than one occasion, visitors have brought large magnifiers on long handles to help them examine the soil more closely without bending over. These simple utensils usually catch the staff’s attention because at first glance they look somewhat like metal detectors (which aren’t allowed in the park). However, it doesn’t take long to see they are actually used to find treasure on top of the ground, not underground.
A couple of weeks ago, park officials spoke with a man who was using a pair of binoculars to scan the surface for diamonds. The most challenging part was trying not to trip while keeping an eye on a sparkly object that was several yards away.
Some visitors get quite elaborate in their efforts to find diamonds. On a few days last month, a group of visitors hauled a huge stack of screens on a wagon to the East Drain of the search area. The screens started large in size on top and graduated to smaller sizes near the bottom. The owners emptied buckets of dirt into the top and poured water over the material to wash it down, removing the soil and separating the gravel by size. They removed the fine gravel from the lower screens and sifted it further in a nearby pool of water.
Whether simple or complex, people have lots of ideas about how to find diamonds at the Crater. Park staff say they’ve enjoyed meeting many of the people who have visited the park this month and look forward to seeing many other interesting diamond-finding gadgets in the future.

After this week’s rainfall, this weekend is likely to be a great time to check out the park and look for a diamond of your own.

There is a daily limit of 1,500 people per day. Tickets are required for entry and are available online or at the Visitor Center.

For more information, visit www.arkansasstateparks.com

Ashdown Scholarship Committee deadline is April 1      3/26/2021
ASHDOWN – The Ashdown High School Scholarship Committee will soon be awarding scholarships to 2021 AHS seniors, as it has since its formation in 1986. Contributors are encouraged to either continue donations as they have in previous years or become new scholarship donors and contribute to the success of new Ashdown High School graduates in their post-secondary endeavors.

Last year, the committee awarded 65 scholarships with a total value of over $37,000, according to Ronda Pounds, chairperson of the committee.  This brings the total scholarships to nearly half a million dollars awarded to over 1,100 students over the course of the committee’s 35-year history.
Pounds also stated that 100 percent of all donated monies are awarded every year and that all donations are tax-deductible.
The Scholarship Committee has also authorized an alumni fund through which former students of Ashdown High School and businesses may contribute to the program in any amount and at any time.  Such contributions may be made in honor or memory of friends and loved ones.
This year in order to abide by ADH/ADE guidelines, scholarship presentations are currently scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, May 2. The event will begin at 2 p.m. in the Helen Parker Gym at AHS.  Social distancing and masks will be required.  Pounds said all donors are welcome to attend the presentation and are welcome to participate in presenting the scholarship they are sponsoring.
To be awarded to 2021 AHS seniors, contributions must be received by April 1.  They may be mailed to or dropped off at the Ashdown School District Administration Office at 751 Rankin Street, Ashdown, Arkansas 71822.
ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/26/2021
DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:
Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of three yesterday for a current total of 10. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,775. Deaths remained at 24.
In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases decreased by one to eight. Overall cases increased by four to 1,215. Deaths remained at 40.
Active cases in Howard County were unchanged at three. Overall cases grew by 2 to 1,636. Deaths in Howard County due to COVID-19 increased by one yesterday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. That raises the county’s death toll to 24 since the pandemic began.
Polk County reported one less active case yesterday for a current total of two. Total cases were unchanged at 1,957 and deaths at 69.
Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 334 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That raises the total number of transmissions to slightly 329,511 cases since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 33 to 2,095 currently. Deaths increased by 11 yesterday for a total of 5,571. Hospitalizations increased by nine to 181.

Apparent gasoline shortage in De Queen affecting some local stations      3/25/2021
DE QUEEN – We’re looking into an apparent gasoline shortage which has affected a number of gas stations in the listening area.
We received reports through social media last evening of EZ Mart stations in De Queen, Horatio, Foreman and other nearby communities closing off pumps due to a gasoline supply issue.

Initial unconfirmed reports indicate a potential COVID-19 outbreak among employees or a distribution issue at a gasoline supply facility in Fort Smith is the source of the problem. An employee at one of the affected stations suggested it could be a week or more before the gasoline shortage is remedied at affected stations.
Currently, gas stations affected by the shortage in De Queen include both EZ Marts and Tiger Mart. TJ’s, Plaza 66, Murphy’s (located at Walmart) and the Sevier County Farmer’s Coop are continuing to supply gasoline at this time. The diesel fuel pump at Tiger Mart remains operational.
We’ll provide additional updates as more information is received.

Man with ties to adoption scheme in De Queen, elsewhere receives additional prison sentence in Arizona     3/25/2021
A former Arizona politician convicted of orchestrating an illegal adoption scheme in De Queen and several other locations has been sentenced to additional prison time in Arizona.

According to court filings, Paul Petersen was sentenced this week to five years in prison in Arizona for Medicaid fraud related to the illegal adoption service he ran for over a decade. The sentence will be served following completion of the six-year prison term he received for human trafficking in Arkansas earlier this year.
Petersen, who previously served as the Republican assessor for Maricopa County, is also awaiting sentencing in Utah for a similar conviction.
The charges all relate to an adoption scheme Petersen had orchestrated for years and which burst onto the national scene in 2019. In effect, for at least the past decade Petersen had assisted in smuggling pregnant women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United States so their babies could be adopted for financial gain. Petersen charged couples $35,000 to adopt these children.
Prosecutors described the scheme as a “baby-selling enterprise” and that Petersen had organized over 70 illegal adoptions. These actions violated a compact between the United States and Marshall Islands which bands Marshallese people from traveling to the United States for adoptions unless they have a specific visa. None of the women involved were provided that visa.
Thanks to a multi-state investigation, Petersen’s actions were uncovered and federal charges swiftly filed against him. He was arrested in October of 2019. Nonetheless, the scheme left dozens of victims in its wakes. And many with a connection to De Queen.

De Queen was one of several locations used by Petersen to hide the women as they completed their pregnancies. Witnesses to one of the locations described it as a “baby mill.” Women were confined in terrible housing conditions with their passports confiscated to ensure they did not leave. Leave and communications were restricted as well.
Petersen is currently seeking an appeal of his six-year prison sentence in Arkansas.
He is suggesting his sentence was too severe due additional factors presented during his trial. In particular, Petersen said his sentence was tainted by the trial judge concluding Petersen had abused his status as an adoption lawyer. The sentence Petersen received included two years more than the maximum recommended sentencing guideline.
COVID-19 clinic scheduled in Tollette this weekend     3/25/2021
TOLLETTE – Baptist Health Community Outreach is holding a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic Sunday, March 28, from noon to 5 p.m. at First Church of God Tollette, 1080 Martin Luther King Drive in Tollette for individuals that qualify.
Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine will be administered, so no second, follow-up shot will be needed.
Please bring a photo ID. Supply is limited, and all participants must pre-register by calling (501) 202-1540.
Currently, everyone in Phase 1A, 1B and 1C is eligible for the vaccine. Phase 1C makes the vaccine eligible to all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 with a existing health condition which makes them more vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Phase 1C also focuses on essential workers and people living in congregate settings like correctional facilities and student housing. Those in Phase 1B eligible for the vaccine include all Arkansans aged 65 years or older; teachers in childcare, K-12 and higher education; and frontline essential workers such as postal workers, government employees and anyone employed in food manufacturing. Phase 1-B also includes leaders of Houses of Worship and Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Phase 1A includes first responders, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
State health officials stress that, by taking action and getting the vaccine, you are helping protect your family, friends, coworkers, and fellow Arkansans. The vaccine is validated by the nation’s top medical experts to be safe and effective.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit BaptistHealthCovidVaccine.com.

State and federal health officials are stressing the vaccine will not cost anyone anything. The federal government has already purchased hundreds of millions of doses on behalf of all Americans. Vaccine administration costs will be covered by private insurance or the government for those uninsured or on government plans.

Arvest Bank announces Million Meals Initiative, partnerships include with De Queen Chalice Cupboard    3/25/2021

DE QUEEN – Arvest Bank kicked off its 11th annual Million Meals campaign today and it will continue through May 29. The campaign’s goal is to provide at least one million meals to those in need.

The campaign is particularly needed in Arkansas, which ranks 7th among the most food-insecure states in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Chalice Cupboard will receive monetary donations made in De Queen between April 5 and May 29. De Queen residents can support the Million Meals campaign by making monetary donations at Arvest branches and drive-thrus or by calling (866) 952-9523. Additionally, customers can donate via the Arvest Go mobile app and Arvest Flex Rewards credit cardholders can log in to arvestflexrewards.com to redeem and donate rewards points.

Every dollar raised through Million Meals provides the equivalent of five meals for local, hungry families. While Arvest is unable to accept food donations in branches this year, customers can community members can also donate directly to the bank’s food partners.

Ted Sheet, Arvest Bank community president in De Queen, said the organization is excited to join Chalice Cupboard and the bank’s customers in helping fight hunger in the local community. He stressed that every cent raised locally will be contributed to local families facing food insecurity.

For more information, visit arvest.com/millionmeals.

Arkansas cattle experts warn of drop in bull fertility due to last month’s freezing temps    3/25/2021

Cattle breeding experts with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture are urging cattle producers to test the fertility of their bulls before the spring breeding season.

Charles Looney, professor of cattle improvement for the Division of Agriculture, said the unusual freeze event the state experienced in mid-February may have resulted in infertility in bulls that did not have adequate shelter.

From Feb. 15-16, weather stations across Arkansas recorded record-low temperatures, some of which were well below zero. In De Queen, the mercury dropped to minus five degrees during the once-in-a-generation winter storm.

There are approximately 1 million head of beef cattle in Arkansas, Looney said, with cattle in every county in the state. About 80 percent of Arkansas cattle breeders use a spring breeding season, so they’ll be implementing their breeding program over the next month or two.

In most cases, if the fertility has been affected by a cold-weather event, it’s something the bull can recover from. In most cases, they can recover, but it will take 60 days for that bull to do so, so spring breeding season is going to be right on the line.

Looney said some bulls may never recover from the effects of last month’s cold.

Looney said the most important thing beef cattle producers can do in the intervening period before spring breeding season arrives is to schedule a complete breeding soundness exam with a large animal veterinarian.

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. In Sevier County, you can call (870) 584-3013.

Learn to Burn seminar in Mena next week      3/25/2021

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

The program is described as an introduction to the safe and effective use of fire as a land management tool. Topics to be discussed include fire ecology, using fire to maintain wildlife habitat, writing a prescribed burn plan, liability and personal protective equipment and tools.

The session will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 31 at the Polk County Fairground commercial building in Mena.

The event is free to attend and lunch will be proved at no additional cost. Those interested must pre-register however at www.learn-to-burn-mena.eventbrite.com.

The Learn to Burn class is hosted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Quail Forever and the Arkansas Forestry Association.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/25/2021

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of three yesterday for a current total of 13. Cumulative cases grew to 2,775. Deaths remained at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases increased by one to nine. Overall cases increased by six to 1,211. Deaths remained at 40.

Active cases in Howard County were unchanged at three. Overall cases grew by 11 to 1,634 while deaths remained at 23.

Polk County reported an additional death due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, raising the total to 69 since the pandemic began. Active cases of the virus in Polk County remained unchanged at three currently. Total cases grew slightly to 1,957.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 231 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That raises the total number of transmissions to slightly over 329,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline, falling by 135 to 2,128 currently. Deaths increased by 13 yesterday for a total of 5,560.

AGFC asks turkey hunters to help thru survey      3/25/2021

Hunters can help the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission track hunting effort and success throughout turkey season this spring by signing up to be a part of the annual Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey. It’s free to participate and your responses will help shape future wild turkey management in Arkansas.

The spring turkey hunting survey has been in place since 2007 to gather information on hunter activity, gobbling activity, turkey observations and hunting success throughout turkey season. Volunteers record data from each hunt and send the results to be analyzed at the end of the hunting season. Biologists then compile all the data to identify trends in hunter participation and satisfaction and provide a report for all hunters to compare notes.

Historically hunters recorded their information on paper survey forms and mailed the forms in at the conclusion of hunting season. With advances in mobile technology, the AGFC has transitioned to a new system using a smartphone app called Survey123. The new app makes it easier than ever before to record and submit your information at the conclusion of each hunt.

Visit www.agfc.com/turkeysurvey to participate in the Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey or the Wild Turkey and Northern Bobwhite Quail Population Survey. You may also contact Wood at jeremy.wood@agfc.ar.gov or call 800-364-4263 to learn more about these surveys and other ways to help the AGFC keep tabs on Arkansas’s turkeys.

Victim in Texas alleged murder a 2008 DHS graduate      3/24/2021
WYLIE, Texas – A 2008 graduate of De Queen High School has been identified as the murder victim of an apparent domestic violence incident in Texas last week that ended with the suspect’s death.
According to authorities, police in Wylie, Texas, were dispatched to the city’s CVS Pharmacy on March 17 after a vehicle crashed into the building. A spokesperson with the Wylie Police Department said the first officer to arrive found a woman laying in the parking lot who had sustained a serious injury. A man was also on the scene carrying a rifle and, after failing to comply with the officer’s orders to drop the weapon, was shot by the officer. The spokesperson said the officer then attempted to treat the injured woman.
A spokesperson told NBC News the officer shot the armed man as he was deemed a threat to the officer and injured woman.
Both the woman and man were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency personnel.
Earlier this week, authorities identified the victim as 30-year-old Cassie Riddle. Riddle was a 2008 graduate of De Queen High School where she was an award-winning athlete. She leaves behind two children aged eight and 11. She was a student at Texas A&M Commerce and set to graduate this semester with a degree in livestock biology.
The suspect was identified as 36-year-old Shawn Myers. Authorities said Riddle and Myers were in a previous relationship but not at the time of last week’s incident.
The investigation remains underway by the Wylie Police Department and the Texas Rangers as an incident of domestic violence.
Funeral services will be held for Riddle this Firday, March 26 beginning at 2 p.m. at the Mena First Assembly of God Church.
Today is last day of Memorial Seedlings program      3/24/2021
DIERKS – Today is the last day to participate in a memorial tree program offered through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture to honor those lost due to COVID-19.
The Department of Agriculture has donated 10,000 oak tree seedlings to provide to families in memory of loved ones lost due to the virus.
Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said the remembrance is a small way for the state of Arkansas to extended its sympathies to Arkansas families who lost a member during the pandemic.
The seedlings will be available at a number locations through the end of business today. That includes, most locally, at the Forestry Commission’s District Office in Dierks, located at 106 North Main Street. The phone number is (870) 828-0859.
Families are asked to call to arrange a time to pick up the seedlings.  Forestry Division office locations will be taking calls and assisting individuals with seedling pick until 4:30 p.m. today.

Dierks votes to purchase Chromebooks for students, laptops for teachers      3/24/2021
DIERKS – New technology is heading into the hands of Dierks students and staff following decisions made during last week’s meeting of the Dierks School Board.
The board voted to accept a quote for over $79,000 for 340 Google Chromebooks for students in the district. The board also voted to approve an additional $50,000 for 70 laptops to be distributed to teachers who need them. Both purchases were made through funds provided through CARES Act funding.
The board approved several other purchases for the district including two new HVAC units for the district.
In other business, Superintendent Jody Cowart stated the elementary classroom expansion project is near completion and sod is currently being laid.
Board members approved a motion to accept the resignations of Karla Bray, Linda Tomon and Senior High Cheer Coach April Kappus. The board also approved the retirement of Lou Ann Huddleston. Adriana Hogg was unanimously approved as the Senior Cheer Coach for the 2021-2022 school year.
A report from JoAnn Walters Elementary states the district has an enrollment of 264 students with nearly 95 percent of those currently choosing the district’s in-class instruction option. Registration is currently under way for kindergarten students. Families can turn in their enrollment packets on Fridays in April except for testing week. Spring pictures are set for April 6 and class pictures April 7.
Dierks High School will host class officer pictures and club pictures on March 30 with spring pictures scheduled for April 8. Current enrollment is 238. District officials said vape detectors were installed earlier this month to detect the use of electronic cigarettes on the campus. Prom has been scheduled for March 27 from 6-8 p.m. at Off the Beaten Track.
Finally, the district reported it currently has no students or staff out due to contract tracing or due to a positive case of COVID-19.

Southern Bancorp announces $26.1 million offer on DeWitt bank holdings     3/24/2021
Southern Bancorp announced this week it’s intention to purchase several new branches, including one in Lockesburg, for a total of $26.1 million.
The Arkadelphia-based bank group is in the process of purchasing DeWitt First Bankshares Corp. and its subsidiary, Arkansas County Bank.
Stated in a news release issued by Southern Bancorp, Arkansas County Bank includes $188 million in financial and capital assets. Those assets include three branches, the Bank of Lockesburg and two branches in Arkansas County. The Lockesburg chapter alone possess $30.7 million in deposits, around seven percent of the entire deposit market in Sevier County.
Bancorp CEO Darrin Williams stated in a news release issued earlier this year that the bank was, quote, “excited to introduce Arkansas County Bank’s team members, customers and communities to Southern Bancorp’s unique blend of mission-driven products and services aimed at providing everyone in the community with the tools to build wealth.”
Final regulatory and shareholder approval is still need to finalize the acquisition. The deal is expected to close within the second quarter of 2021. Bancorp currently operates 52 locations in Mississippi and Arkansas.
Arkansas County Bank has existed as a financial institution for over 110 years. CEO Warren Jennings, Jr., stated in the news release that he believes Southern Bancorp will continue to operate its three branches with a community-centric approach to banking.
KDQN Brew Crew will be live at Saturday’s Husqvarna Open House      3/24/2021

Sister stations #1 Country 92.1 AND B-99.5 will be broadcasting live at the Open House at Husqvarna in Nashville on Saturday, March 27th from Ten til Noon. Jay and Tyler will be there from the Morning Brew on #1 Country 92.1, and J.P. from the Morning Ride will be broadcasting live on B-99.5.
Try your luck at opening our Treasure Chest containing $100 cash and prize cards for chainsaws, trimmers, and blowers! Husqvarna will also have door prize drawings for some of their great outdoor lawn implements and more! Free refreshments and facility tours.
It’s a community-wide event and EVERYBODY is welcome to see the Husqvarna facility in Nashville. Husqvarna will also be accepting applications to join the Husqvarna Team during this open house!
You can also enjoy a short video detailing Husqvarna’s long and successful 332-year history, and Husqvarna has been operating in Nashville since 1976!”
Must be 16 years of age or older to attend since assembly work will be ongoing during the Open House. No flip flips allowed for footwear.

Haven’t got your third stimulus payment next? Check with IRS      3/24/2021

The IRS started issuing the third round of Economic Impact Payments, but we’ve heard from a few local folks still waiting for theirs. For the most part, no action is needed by most taxpayers. The IRS will issue payments automatically by direct deposit and through the mail as a check or debit card.
Most people will receive the third payment the same way they received the first and second Economic Impact Payments. Because these payments are automatic for most eligible people, there’s no need to contact financial institutions or the IRS.
But for those who haven’t received a stimulus payment yet, the best place to start is the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov. That tool will provide a taxpayer with an update on the status of their third stimulus payment.
In general, most people will get $1,400 for themselves and $1,400 for each qualifying dependent claimed on their tax return. As with the first two Economic Impact Payments, most people will receive their third payment without having to take any action.
But for there is an extra step for those who don’t normally file a tax return due to lower earnings. The third Economic Impact Payment is based on the taxpayer’s latest processed tax return from either 2020 or 2019. Those who don’t normally file taxes however must use the IRS’ Non-Filers tool to receive the stimulus payment.
Those who received the first or second payment but don’t receive a payment by direct deposit will generally receive a check or a prepaid debit card, referred to as an EIP Card. The IRS will not add the third payment to an existing EIP card that people received for the first or second round of stimulus payments.
Under the new law, the IRS can’t apply the third Economic Impact Payment to past-due federal debts or back taxes.
More details about the third round of Economic Impact Payments, as well as the Non-Filers tool and Get My Payment tool, are available on IRS.gov.
ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/24/2021
DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:
Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of five yesterday for a current total of 16. Cumulative cases grew to 2,773. Deaths remained at 24.
In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases dropped by one to eight. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,205. Deaths remained at 40.
Active cases in Howard County decreased by two yesterday to three currently. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,623 while deaths remained at 23.
Polk County is reporting a total of three active COVID-19 cases, a decrease of one from the day before. Overall cases currently number 1,954. Deaths in Polk County due to COVID-19 remain at 68.

Canadian Pacific, KCS announce $29 billion merger      3/23/2021
Canadian Pacific Railway, Ltd. and Kansas City Southern announced this week they’ve entered into a merger agreement. The merger plan has a cash transaction worth $29 billion, including around $3.8 billion of outstanding KCS debt.
The combined company will now be called Canadian Pacific Kansas City. Calgary will be the global headquarters and Kansas City, Missouri, will be designated as the U.S. headquarters, according to a press release on the company’s website.
CP’s proposed acquisition of KCS is the largest industry deal in decades, and would create a U.S.-Mexico-Canada rail network. In fact, the proposed combination would create the first U.S.-Mexico-Canada rail network connecting ports on the U.S. Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific coasts and offering single-line hauls across the continent.
Company officials said the combined operation would include20,000 miles of rail, employing close to 20,000 people and generating total revenue of $8.7 billion.

Motorcycle accident in Polk County claims life of Iowa man      3/23/2021
An Iowa man was killed in a motorcyle accident in Polk County over the weekend.
According to the Arkansas State Police, a state trooper was dispatched to Highway 88 in Polk County on Saturday, March 20 after receiving a report of an accident on the highway. An investigation at the scene of the accident determined the driver of the motorcycle failed to negotiate a right hand curve on the highway, causing him to leave the roadway and strike a guard rail.
The driver, identified at 41-year-old Daniel Mick of Urbandale, IA, was taken to the Mena Regional Hospital. He was pronounced dead later that evening.
Road conditions and weather conditions were reported as dry and clear at the time of the accident.
Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service a historic and vital resource for farmers and ranchers      3/23/2021
DE QUEEN – It’s National Ag Week and all week we’re taking a look at the agricultural industry and the folks who keep the nation fed and supplied. Today we’re taking a look at one organization that prides itself as a vital resource to the agricultural industry and which has helped create America as, by far, the largest exporter of food in the world – the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.
All universities engage in research and teaching, but the nation’s more than 100 land-grant colleges and universities, have a third critical mission—extension. “Extension” means “reaching out,” and—along with teaching and research—land-grant institutions “extend” their resources, solving public needs with college or university resources through non-formal, non-credit programs.
Congress created the extension system nearly a century ago to address exclusively rural, agricultural issues. At that time, more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas, and 30 percent of the workforce was engaged in farming. Extension’s engagement with rural America helped make possible the American agricultural revolution, which dramatically increased farm productivity:
In 1945, it took up to 14 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels of corn on 2 acres of land.
By 1987, it took just under 3 labor-hours to produce that same 100 bushels of corn on just over 1 acre.
In 2002, that same 100 bushels of corn were produced on less than 1 acre.
That increase in productivity has allowed fewer farmers to produce more food.
Fewer than 2 percent of Americans farm for a living today, and only 17 percent of Americans now live in rural areas.
Yet, the extension service still plays an important role in American life—rural, urban, and suburban. With its unprecedented reach—with an office in or near most of the nation’s approximately 3,000 counties—extension agents help farmers grow crops, homeowners plan and maintain their homes, and children learn skills to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Despite the decline in the population and economic importance of rural America, the national Cooperative Extension System remains an important player in American life. It increasingly addresses urban, suburban, in addition to rural issues, and it has responded to information technology changes in America. Extension expertise meets public needs at the local level with approximately 2,900 extension offices nationwide.
The extension service’s first big test came during World War I, when it helped the nation meet its wartime needs by:
Increasing wheat acreage significantly, from an average of 47 million acres annually in 1913 to 74 million in 1919.
Helping the USDA implement its new authority to encourage farm production, marketing, and conserving of perishable products by canning, drying, and preserving.
Helping to address war-related farm labor shortages at harvest time by organizing the Women’s Land Army and the Boys’ Working Reserve.

More generally, extension’s role in WWI helped it expand its reputation as an educational entity to one that also emphasized service for individuals, organizations, and the federal government.

During World War II, the extension service again worked with farmers and their families, along with 4-H club members, to secure the production increases essential to the war effort. Each year for 5 years, total food production increased. In 1944, food production was 38 percent above the 1935-1939 average.

These days, the cooperative extension service in Arkansas provides numerous resources, training programs and information for the benefit of all Arkansans but most importantly farmers. The Cooperative Extension Service employs numerous agents to assist with implementing the latest techniques in modern farming and ranching. The resources are generally free to farmers and designed to help them make the most of their land and operations.

An extension office is located in each county in cooperation with county governments. The community of Arkansas agriculture impacts about 270,000 people whose jobs directly or indirectly depend on agriculture, including the forestry sector.

For more information, visit www.uaex.edu or contact your local cooperative extension service. In Sevier County, call 584-3013, 898-7224 in Little River County and, in Howard County, call 845-7517.

Spring Clean Up Week in De Queen is April 5-9; city announces Adopt-a-Block program      3/23/2021

DE QUEEN – Spring has sprung and that has city leaders in De Queen thinking about the annual municipal Spring clean up week.

De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown discussed the annual clean up week following last night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council. This is a time, Brown said, for all residents of De Queen to come together to help clean up the city.

Spring clean up week will begin April 5 and continue through April 9. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles.

The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. between April 5-9.

New this year, the city is also launching an Adopt-a-Block program. Mayor Brown said this is a way for city residents to give back by ensuring the areas around their homes, neighborhoods and nearby streets are cleaned up and free of trash.

Deadline is April 1 for AHS Scholarship Committee contributions      3/23/2021

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown High School Scholarship Committee will soon be awarding scholarships to 2021 AHS seniors, as it has since its formation in 1986. Contributors are encouraged to either continue donations as they have in previous years or become new scholarship donors and contribute to the success of new Ashdown High School graduates in their post-secondary endeavors.

The Scholarship Committee has also authorized an alumni fund through which former students of Ashdown High School and businesses may contribute to the program in any amount and at any time.  Such contributions may be made in honor or memory of friends and loved ones.

This year in order to abide by ADH/ADE guidelines, scholarship presentations are currently scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, May 2. The event will begin at 2 p.m. in the Helen Parker Gym at AHS.  Social distancing and masks will be required.  All donors are welcome to attend the presentation and are welcome to participate in presenting the scholarship they are sponsoring.

To be awarded to 2021 AHS seniors, contributions must be received by April 1.  They may be mailed to or dropped off at the Ashdown School District Administration Office at 751 Rankin Street, Ashdown, Arkansas 71822.

PPP deadline is March 31      3/23/2021

Farmers and businesses have just a few days remaining to apply for assistance through the current Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The deadline to apply is March 31, although there has been discussion in Congress of extending that deadline into May.

Regardless, the U.S. Small Business Administration says the program is based on the availability of funds, so it could pay to apply as early as possible.

PPP is a part of the coronavirus stimulus plan under the 2020 CARES Act and provides forgivable loans up to $10 million.

The agency is reminding farmers they are also eligible for PPP loans. The program is aimed to help not just corporations, such as farm corporations, but also small producers such as sole proprietors, self employed and independent contractors. There’s no minimum loan size. The SBA reports some loans have been as small as $500 and as large as the maximum loan of $10 million.

The funds can also be used for more than just payroll. They can be a source of income replacement and use the proceeds for rent expenses, such as land, rent payments that are currently due, utility payments, certain costs and expenses with their suppliers, and even certain interest payments on loans such as land loans and equipment loans.

For more information, and to view the application process, visit www.sba.gov

Rep. Vaught provides update on state legislative activities      3/23/2021

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught is providing another update on this week’s activities and legislation in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

The House voted in favor of the following bills on Monday:

HB1678 allows the State Board of Education to issue a teaching license to a university professor or an assistant professor.

HB1313 addresses damage, destruction, or vandalism to buildings and objects on the State Capitol Grounds and at the Governor’s Mansion. It states damage to public buildings or objects of respect is a Class A misdemeanor if the damage is under $500. It becomes a Class D felony if the value of the damage exceeds $500.

HB1505 makes leaving the scene of an accident with injuries a Class D felony. If there are serious physical injuries or death of a person, the offender would be charged with a Class B felony.

SB339 states restaurants holding a valid alcoholic beverage permit may sell alcoholic beverages in a sealed container to be consumed off-premises. This is currently allowed under an executive order due to the health emergency. SB339 would allow the practice to continue after the emergency.

SB341 prohibits collective bargaining by public employees. The bill states public employees do not include law enforcement officers, firefighters, or public transit system employees.

SB354 states that interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports that are sponsored by a school shall be expressly designated as one of the following based on biological sex:

(1) “Male”, “men’s”, or “boys”

or (2) “Female”, “women’s”, or “girls”

It also states a student who is deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers harm as a result of a violation of this law can seek injunctive relief and monetary damages.

The House will reconvene today at 1 pm.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/23/2021

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of four yesterday for a current total of 21. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,772. Deaths remained at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases dropped by one to nine. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,205. Deaths remained at 40.

Active cases in Howard County were unchanged yesterday at five. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,620 while deaths remained at 23.

Polk County is reporting a total of four active COVID-19 cases, a decrease of two. Overall cases currently number 1,953. Deaths in Polk County due to COVID-19 remain at 68.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 52 new cases of the virus on Sunday – the lowest one-day increase and the first to fall below the three-digit mark since nearly the beginning of the pandemic. Active cases decreased by 246, leaving 2,332 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by five over the 24-hour period for a total of 5,544 deaths due to COVID-19 in Arkansas since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations decreased by eight over the same period to leave 184 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Over 500 come out for mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic in De Queen      3/21/2021
DE QUEEN – Organizers with Saturday’s mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic say over 500 people came out to get their shot during the all-day event.

In all, 525 people stopped by the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy to receive the vaccine. Wait times were generally short with several stations set up to keep the vaccination process quick and efficient.
Those who stopped by were provided the Pfizer vaccine at no cost. This is a two-dose vaccine and the pharmacy will host a second clinic in three weeks to provide the second dose. Pfizer’s vaccine provides a 95 percent immunity rate following the second dose.
Chester Barber, owner of De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy, said he was thankful to all those who came out as well as De Queen city officials, police officers and first responders for their help in making the mass immunization clinic happen.
If you’re eligible to receive the vaccine, and were not able to attend Saturday’s clinic, the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy is continuing to accept appointments for the vaccine.
Currently everyone in Phase 1C, 1B and 1A are now eligible for the vaccine. Phase 1C makes the vaccine eligible to all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 with a existing health condition which makes them more vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Phase 1C also focuses on essential workers and people living in congregate settings. State health officials estimate last week’s opening of Phase 1C made the vaccine eligible to an additional one million Arkansans.
For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov. The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy can be contacted through its Facebook page or by calling (870) 642-2400.
State and federal health officials are stressing the vaccine will not cost anyone anything. The federal government has already purchased hundreds of millions of doses on behalf of all Americans. Vaccine administration costs will be covered by private insurance or the government for those uninsured or on government plans.
March 21-27 is National Ag Week, a time to celebrate industry contributions      3/21/2021
DE QUEEN – It’s National Agriculture Week, a time to highlight the critical role served by agriculture producers across the country. This year, National Agriculture Week is celebrated March 21 through March 27.
The purpose of National Ag Week is to recognize the significant contributions made by ag producers, associations, corporations, universities, and government agencies affiliated with the industry. Those contributions include how food and fiber products are produced, maintaining a strong economy, and the importance of safe, abundant, and affordable products. The week-long celebration is organized each year by the Agriculture Council of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.
In Sevier County alone, agriculture accounts for over 75 percent of the local economy – from the county’s largest employer, Pilgrim’s, to the growers, cattle ranchers and supply stores that keep them going.
Here at KDQN we’re going to take this week to highlight that contribution and the importance of agriculture in keeping America fed. This week we’ll recognize both the local and national impact of agriculture and speak to some of those who play a vital role in the industry.
We also want to share a few facts in relation to agriculture and this week’s celebration of the industry.
– According to most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics, there are 386,531 men and nearly 52,000 women working as farmers and ranchers.
– A farmer today grows twice as much food as his parents did – using less land, energy, water, and fewer emissions.
– Today, the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a farmer fed just 26 people.
– To keep up with population growth more food will have to be produced in the next 50 years as the past 10,000 years combined.
– U.S. farmers produce about 40 percent of the world’s corn, using only 20 percent of the total area harvested in the world.
– According to the USDA, one acre of corn removes about 8 tons of carbon dioxide from the air in a growing season. At 180 bushels per acre, corn produces enough oxygen to supply a year’s needs for 131 people.
Memorial Seedlings program extends through this Wednesday      3/21/2021
DIERKS – The State of Arkansas through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture has donated 10,000 oak tree seedlings to families to honor those lost due to COVID-19.
Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said the remembrance is a small way for the state of Arkansas to extended its sympathies to Arkansas families who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19.
The seedlings will be available at a number locations through this Wednesday, March 24. That includes, most locally, at the Forestry Commission’s District Office in Dierks, located at 106 North Main Street. The phone number is (870) 828-0859.
Families are asked to call to arrange a time to pick up the seedlings.  Forestry Division office locations will be taking calls and assisting individuals with seedling pick up Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Information on the Memorial Seedlings donation is available at https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-resource-information/memorial-seedlings-available-to-honor-the-memory-of-loved-ones-lost-due-to-covid-19/.
State of Arkansas extends tax filing deadline to May 17      3/21/2021

Arkansas is moving its state tax deadline back by a month to match the new federal deadline

This should help Arkansans who are dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Asa Hutchinson wrote in a press release.

According to the media release, the governor signed an executive order extending the deadline for filing a tax return or payment until May 17, 2021.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/21/2021

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of five yesterday for a current total of 25. Cumulative cases remained at 2,772. Due to new reporting data from the Arkansas Department of Health, the total number of deaths in Sevier County due to COVID-19 was adjusted back by one to 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases dropped by one to 10. Overall cases were unchanged at 1,205. Deaths remained at 40.

Active cases in Howard County increased by just one on Sunday for a total of five. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,619 while deaths remained at 23.

Polk County is reporting a total of six active COVID-19 cases, a decrease of three. Overall cases currently number 1,952. Deaths in Polk County due to COVID-19 remain at 68.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 108 new cases of the virus on Sunday – the lowest one-day figure reported since nearly the beginning of the pandemic. Active cases decreased by 98, leaving 2,578 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by six over the 24-hour period for a total of 5,539 deaths due to COVID-19 in Arkansas since the pandemic began.
Boil Water Order lifted for City of Horatio    1:30 pm 03/19/2020

Mayor Rich Dorsey informed KDQN that the Boil Water Order that was issued for the City of Horatio on Wednesday (3/17) due to a water main break has now been lifted.
Water samples were cleared for human consumption by the Arkansas Dept of Health.
Update: De Queen Health & Wellness Pharmacy to host mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic tomorrow       3/19/2021
DE QUEEN – There are a few updates in relation to the mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic scheduled for this weekend in De Queen.
The clinic has been set by the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy for this Saturday, March 20. Chester Barber, owner of the De Queen-based pharmacy, said he expects to receive around 2,000 vaccines for this Saturday’s clinic.
The doses will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis to those currently eligible to receive the vaccine.
The vaccination clinic will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and continue until the last vaccine is given. The event will be held at the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy located at 1357 W. Collin Raye Drive.
Barber said additional parking will be available at the nearby De Queen Church of Christ. He is asking anyone who doesn’t mind the quick walk to park at the church to help ease traffic congestion at the pharmacy. Police and other De Queen first responders will be on site to help with the flow of traffic. A shuttle service will also be provided for those who are mobility impaired and who park at the De Queen Church of Christ.
Barber said he is extremely grateful for the support given to the event by De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown, the De Queen Police Department and local first responders. He is also recognizing the Arkansas Department of Health’s efforts in providing the substantial vaccine supply for Sevier County residents.
Barber said that, while anyone eligible to receive the vaccine is welcome to come by this Saturday’s clinic, the event is being specifically aimed at the area’s Latino community. He said the rate of COVID-19 vaccines given to those in the Latino community in Arkansas have been below those of other groups. Nonetheless, he stressed all those eligible to receive the vaccine are invited to receive one at the clinic.
Following Tuesday’s announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, everyone in Phase 1C, 1B and 1A are now eligible for the vaccine. Phase 1C makes the vaccine eligible to all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 with a existing health condition which makes them more vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Phase 1C also focuses on essential workers and people living in congregate settings like correctional facilities and student housing. Those in Phase 1B eligible for the vaccine include all Arkansans aged 65 years or older; teachers in childcare, K-12 and higher education; amd frontline essential workers such as postal workers, government employees and anyone employed in food manufacturing. Phase 1-B also includes leaders of Houses of Worship and Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Phase 1A includes first responders, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov. The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy can be contacted through its Facebook page or by calling (870) 642-2400.
State and federal health officials are stressing the vaccine will not cost anyone anything. The federal government has already purchased hundreds of millions of doses on behalf of all Americans. Vaccine administration costs will be covered by private insurance or the government for those uninsured or on government plans.

Leopards archery team takes 10th place at State Championship       3/19/2021

The De Queen Leopards had a very successful 2021 archery season. The Leopards won the Regional Championship with a score of 3125 with Acorn being the runner up with 3035. The Leopards qualified for state and finished 10th with a score of 3173.
Lexi Hall was the top shooter throughout the year with a high score of 288. Lexi was also 4th in the girls division and earned a $1,000 scholarship. Jafet Sotelo was close behind with a 284.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Leopards had a very successful 2021 archery season. The Leopards won the Regional Championship with a score of 3125 with Acorn being the runner up with 3035.
The Leopards qualified for state and finished 10th with a score of 3173.
The top 10 finish is the second year in a row for the Leopards and with every school  in Arkansas being in one division that is a great accomplishment said Coach Dennis Chaney.
Lexi Hall was the top shooter throughout the year with a high score of 288. Lexi was also 4th in the girls division and earned a $1,000 scholarship. Jafet Sotelo was close behind with a 284. Manuel Soto 275, Lynsi Smith 267, Damian Mendez 267, JD Brinkley 265, Alex Victoria 262 Max Pinkerton 260, Fatima James 255, Brittany Hernandez 251, Jocelyn Smallwood 251, and Ben Ramirez were the top twelve archers which determines the team score.
The De Queen Cubs were the Regional Runner Up this year with a score of 2777 just behind Acorn with a score of 2807. The Cubs qualified for state and finished 30 overall.
Ulyces Coto was the top archer for the Cubs with a score of 272. John Moe 250, Caitlyn Carter 242, Altin KIght 233, Gabriela Aguilar 233, Jeremiah Coto 232, Katherine Peppers 223, Presley Parson 221, Trystan Mcmurray 216, Aric Pinkerton 215, Kyanna Angeles 208, and Gwen Bradshaw 207 were the top twelve archers.
Rep. Vaught provides update on Thursday’s activities in Arkansas House of Representatives       3/19/2021

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught has provided another update regarding activities in the Arkansas House of Representatives this week.

On Thursday, the House passed a bill requiring students entering the ninth grade class of 2022-2023 to earn one credit in a computer science course before the student graduates. SB107 states that beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, a public school district shall employ a computer science teacher at each high school.
The House passed more than 40 bills Thursday afternoon, including:
HB1562, which amends the law concerning autonomous vehicles. It establishes parameters with the Arkansas Department of Transportation for operating autonomous vehicles.
HB1703 requires casinos to report and withhold taxes on gambling winnings.
HB1637 allows the General Assembly to review Presidential Executive Orders. It also states that standing committees of the General Assembly meeting jointly may request the Attorney General to review the presidential executive order and prepare an opinion.
SB465 extends the current special privilege tax on medical marijuana to July 1, 2023. The tax is currently set to expire on July 1, 2021. This tax helps to fund the UAMS National Cancer Designation Trust Fund.
The House will convene on Monday at 1 pm.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       3/19/2021
DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:
Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net increase of two yesterday for a current total of 35. Cumulative cases increased slightly to 2,771 while deaths remained at 25.
In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases were unchanged at 12. Overall cases grew to 1,206. Deaths remained at 40.
Active cases in Howard County decreased by two on Thursday for a total of six. Overall cases grew slightly to 1,618 while deaths remained at 23.
Polk County reported no change in its active caseload, which remains at eight. Overall cases currently number 1,945. Deaths in Polk County due to COVID-19 remain at 68.
Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported 264 new cases of the virus on Thursday. Active cases decreased by 74, leaving 2,734 confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas. Deaths also increased eight over the 24-hour period for a total of 5,515 deaths due to COVID-19 in Arkansas since the pandemic began.

Update: De Queen Health & Wellness Pharmacy to host mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic March 20       3/18/2021

DE QUEEN – There are a few updates in relation to the mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic scheduled for this weekend in De Queen.
The clinic has been set by the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy for this Saturday, March 20. Chester Barber, owner of the De Queen-based pharmacy, said he expects to receive around 2,000 vaccines for this Saturday’s clinic.
The doses will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis to those currently eligible to receive the vaccine.
The vaccination clinic will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and continue until the last vaccine is given. The event will be held at the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy located at 1357 W. Collin Raye Drive.
Barber said additional parking will be available at the nearby De Queen Church of Christ. He is asking anyone who doesn’t mind the quick walk to park at the church to help ease traffic congestion at the pharmacy. Police and other De Queen first responders will be on site to help with the flow of traffic. A shuttle service will also be provided for those who are mobility impaired and who park at the De Queen Church of Christ.
Barber said he is extremely grateful for the support given to the event by De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown, the De Queen Police Department and local first responders. He is also recognizing the Arkansas Department of Health’s efforts in providing the substantial vaccine supply for Sevier County residents.
Barber said that, while anyone eligible to receive the vaccine is welcome to come by this Saturday’s clinic, the event is being specifically aimed at the area’s Latino community. He said the rate of COVID-19 vaccines given to those in the Latino community in Arkansas have been below those of other groups. Nonetheless, he stressed all those eligible to receive the vaccine are invited to receive one at the clinic.
Following Tuesday’s announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, everyone in Phase 1C, 1B and 1A are now eligible for the vaccine. Phase 1C makes the vaccine eligible to all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 with a existing health condition which makes them more vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Phase 1C also focuses on essential workers and people living in congregate settings like correctional facilities and student housing. Those in Phase 1B eligible for the vaccine include all Arkansans aged 65 years or older; teachers in childcare, K-12 and higher education; amd frontline essential workers such as postal workers, government employees and anyone employed in food manufacturing. Phase 1-B also includes leaders of Houses of Worship and Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Phase 1A includes first responders, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov. The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy can be contacted through its Facebook page or by calling (870) 642-2400.
State and federal health officials are stressing the vaccine will not cost anyone anything. The federal government has already purchased hundreds of millions of doses on behalf of all Americans. Vaccine administration costs will be covered by private insurance or the government for those uninsured or on government plans.

Horatio remains under Boil Order Alert, Horatio School District transitions to virtual learning for the remainder of the week       3/18/2021
HORATIO – Customers of the City of Horatio’s water system are advised a Boil Order Alert remains in effect due to a water main break yesterday morning. The Boil Order Alert will remain in effect until samples are cleared with the Arkansas Dept of Health.
Under the boil order, all affected customers are advised that the water may be unsafe for human consumption and all water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled for at least one minute before use.
In related news, the Horatio School District announced yesterday it would close its campuses today and Friday due to the ongoing water system issue. The district will transition to virtual learning only for the remainder of the week. In-person classes are scheduled to resume following next week’s Spring Break holiday. Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool said he was grateful to De Queen Walmart and the Dollar General store in Horatio for supply students and staff with bottled water during yesterday’s water shortage and Boil Order Alert.
The following is Vanderpool’s full statement:

Horatio School District,
We will dismiss school today on Wednesday, March 17th beginning at 1:00 pm.
This is due to water problems in the city.
We will pivot to virtual learning for Thursday and Friday this week. Arrangements are being made to send iPads home with students for learning on Thursday and Friday.
We will resume classes as scheduled after Spring Break.
In the early morning hours on Wednesday, a water main broke in the city. Repairs were made and water pressure was to be restored in time for school.
This process has taken much longer than we originally expected. Currently, the schools and some parts of the city are still without water or experiencing very low water pressure.
There is also a boiling order standing until further notice.
I apologize for any inconveniences this incident may have caused for our students, staff, and parents/guardians.
NOTE: we would like to offer a sincere “Thank You” to DeQueen Walmart and Horatio Dollar General for donating bottled water for our students and staff.
Old Washington State Park to reopen tomorrow     03/08/2021
OLD WASHINGTON – It has been right at one year since Covid-19 cases first began turning up in southwest Arkansas, which led to closures or restrictions on just about everything.

State parks officials at Old Washington Historic State Park however have announced their facilities will be re-opening for tours, as of Friday, March 19. The park will also resume bookings for special events or nightly stays at the Jail Bed and Breakfast.
Williams Tavern Restaurant and the park’s visitor information center will be closed on Mondays.
The reopening is not soon enough to for park officials to reschedule this year’s Jonquil Festival. The park announced in January it would again not hold this annual and always popular Southwest Arkansas event.

Severe weather avoided yesterday, but spring is the time of year for thunderstorms and worse    03/18/2021
After a week of welcome signs of spring, Wednesday brought a reminder of another seasonal side effect: spring storm season.

Fortunately, the listening area was spared any substantial severe weather yesterday and, across the state, there was only one report of a possible tornado. But we all know that the possibility of severe thunderstorms – along with hail, lightening and tornados – are all too possible here. That being said, it’s never too early to brush up on a few safety tips for the inevitable storms that each spring season brings.
When it comes to severe flooding and thunderstorms, weather officials have two immediate recommendations they hope everyone will keep in mind: turn around, don’t drown, and if thunder roars, go indoors.
It’s also important for people to know the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch:
A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible.
A tornado WARNING means a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon. Go to a safe place immediately.
If you hear there is a tornado warning, take shelter immediately in the safest area of your home.
If a Severe Thunderstorm Warning or Tornado Warning is issued for your area, do not hesitate to find a place of safety. If a safe room is not available, the next best location is the lowest floor of a permanant structure in an interior room away from windows. Put as many walls between you and the outdoors as you can.
Make sure that you have a source to receive the latest information, such as us here at KDQN. KDQN has been the official reporting station for the National Weather Service in De Queen since 1980. Other sources of warning information can include telephone notification services to which people subscribe, pagers and cell phones.
Arkansans can also give back by volunteering, making a donation to the Red Cross, or donating blood. Should a need for emergency shelter become necessary, those impacted can call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
Greeson Lake sees considerable improvements through habitat projects    03/18/2021
GREESON LAKE – Last week, 21 biologists and staff from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission worked with staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Greeson Project Office and Daisy State Park to cut, drag and sink more than 1,000 trees in 101 locations at nearby Lake Greeson. The trees will serve as habitat for crappie, bass and other sport fish and will offer anglers excellent locations to target on the aging reservoir.
Greeson has seen regular habitat improvements since about 2007 when regional biologists worked with local contractors to build fish attractors made of river cane, commonly called “crappie condos” or “bamboo buckets.” According to Colton Dennis, AGFC fisheries habitat biologist, this project was much larger and should see longer-lasting results.
Most trees used in this project were sweetgum, water oak and eastern redcedar. Crews of workers from the AGFC and Corps cut trees, then bundled, dragged and deployed them around the lake using habitat barges.
Daisy State Park cut around 350 trees, mostly cedars, from their campgrounds that needed to be removed and had them ready for biologists to drag into the lake.
The attractors were placed at many of the old “crappie condo” locations, but habitat crews also created a few new sites in areas that would be most beneficial to fish and anglers.
The addition of woody complex cover offers many species of baitfish shelter as well as offering game fish ambush points to feed. Just as the game fish are attracted to the concentrated bait, anglers will be attracted to the concentrations of game fish the habitat provides. The coordinates for all 101 habitat sites will be listed soon on the AGFC’s interactive map.
That map is available at www.agfc.com/en/resources/maps.
AGFC implementing new regulations for 2021 Turkey season    03/18/2021

With one month until the opening day of Arkansas’s turkey season, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is finishing up printing of the 2021 Arkansas Turkey Hunting Guidebook, which contains all regulations for this year’s hunt. The guidebooks will be distributed in the next week, but for those wanting a copy now, a digital download is available at www.agfc.com.

Arkansas turkey hunters will see some major changes in their season this April, all focused to help recover the state’s eastern wild turkey population, which has seen some concerning declines during the last decade.
Jeremy Wood, AGFC wild turkey program coordinator, says the changes are an effort to balance the needs of the turkey population with the desires of hunters.

One of the most visible changes is the revamping of the state’s private land turkey hunting zones beginning in the 2021 season. Eighteen turkey zones have been condensed to two, and all zone boundaries will be based on county lines.

The season structures for the zones are similar to last year, with Zone 1 being a nine-day season with a one-bird bag limit and Zone 2 being a 21-day season with a two-bird bag limit. Under this new arrangement, Sevier, Howard, Polk and Hempstead counties are all included under Zone 2. Little River and Miller Counties are now included in Zone 1.

AGFC officials also stress that public land hunters remember that each wildlife management area and national wildlife refuge is its own zone with separate regs and zone numbers.

This year’s season opener is one of the latest opening days for Arkansas’s turkey season in recent history — April 19. This coincides with the long-term average peak egg-laying date in Arkansas. The delay is an effort to let more reproduction take place before hunters begin to remove mature gobblers from the landscape.

Another new regulation also will distribute some of the hunting success among the growing number of hunters taking up turkey hunting. Much of the state still has a two-turkey seasonal limit, but all hunters will only be able to take one turkey during the first seven days of regular turkey season, regardless of zone.

There are a few other regulations new to this year’s season and all can be viewed by checking out the digital and downloadable version of the 2021 Arkansas Turkey Hunting Guidebook at www.agfc.com.

Okay Landing Recreation Area to reopen Friday    03/18/2021

ASHDOWN – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office has announced plans to reopen the Okay Landing Recreation Area at 8 a.m. this Friday, March 19.

While repairs to Okay Levee will continue, motorists are asked to exercise caution and adhere to posted signage that will be in place due to additional truck traffic present at the recreation area.

Officials at the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office said they regret any inconvenience this may cause and ask for the public’s cooperation until the work is complete. Motorist should plan for additional travel time and remain vigilant of additional traffic in the area.

For further information please call the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office at 870-898-3343.

Recreation information can be found on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Millwood Lake website or on its Facebook at www.facebook.com/littlerockusace.

Horatio municipal water system under Boil Order Alert       3/17/2021
HORATIO – Customers of the City of Horatio’s water system are advised a Boil Order Alert is now in effect due to a water main break. Mayor Rich Dorsey said water pressure is increasing but will take several hours to return to normal levels. The Boil Order Alert will remain in effect until samples are cleared with the Arkansas Dept of Health.
Under the boil order, all affected customers are advised that the water may be unsafe for human consumption and all water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled for at least one minute before use.
State opens COVID-19 vaccine rollout to Phase 1C       3/17/2021
An increasing number of Arkansans are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination following an announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson Tuesday afternoon.

During his weekly statewide COVID-19 Taskforce update, Hutchinson said Arkansas is ready to launch Phase 1C of the state’s vaccine rollout plan. This phase includes all Arkansans aged 16 to 64 who possess health conditions which put them at increased risk to COVID-19. Phase 1C also opens up vaccinations for essential workers in the state, including those in energy, finance, food service, IT and media.
Other essential workers now eligible for the vaccine are those engaged in transportation and logistics as well as the legal, public health and housing fields. Finally, Arkansans residing in high-risk settings due to the proximity to other people are also able to now get the vaccine. This includes inmates of correctional facilities in addition to residents of student housing and group homes.
Hutchinson said the early-than-expected rollout of Phase 1C was made possible because of the growing number of vaccines reaching Arkansas.

Hutchinson did warn, however, that Phase 1C will likely stimulate considerable demand for the vaccine in the coming days and weeks. He said Arkansans may need to remain patient as supply of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines continue to increase to meet the additional demand.

So far, the state has received nearly 1.5 million vaccines since December. Of those around 864,000 have been given. Nearly 304,000 Arkansans have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and are now fully immunized. That equals around 10 percent of the population.
Statewide, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 396 new cases of the virus on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to more than 327,000 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by 12 over the 24-hour period for a total of 5,493. Active cases saw a net increase of 12 for a current total of 2,875 confirmed and probable active cases currently in Arkansas. Hospitalizations increased by seven to leave 257 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.
City of De Queen announces Spring Clean Up Week       3/17/2021
DE QUEEN – Spring begins this Saturday and that has city leaders in De Queen thinking about the annual municipal Spring clean up week.
De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown discussed the annual clean up week following last night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council. This is a time, Brown said, for all residents of De Queen to come together to help clean up the city.
Spring clean up week will begin April 5 and continue through April 9. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles.
The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. between April 5-9.
New this year, the city is also launching an Adopt-a-Block program. Mayor Brown said this is a way for city residents to give back by ensuring the areas around their homes, neighborhoods and nearby streets are cleaned up and free of trash.
The De Queen City Council addressed several other relatively brief items during Tuesday night’s meeting. Councilors approved a resolution to reconcile the 2020 budget, a routine financial matter performed each fiscal year.
The council then approved the purchase of a $42,000 clarifier pump for the city’s municipal water treatment facility to replace a worn out unit.
The council then voted to adopt an updated ordinance regarding sick leave compensation for city employees.
Finally, Mayor Brown gave a brief update on the planned splash pad for the Herman Dierks Park. He said plans for the splash pad have been submitted to the Arkansas Department of Health for review. If approved, the city will begin seeking bids for construction of the project.
The splash pad was made possible through a $480,000 donation from Pilgrim’s. A splash pad is a large water-themed public park attraction usually only seen in much bigger communities. They are praised in other cities for the cool space they provide without the need for a lifeguard because there’s little to no standing water. Splash pads are also known for drawing in residents far and wide during the warmer months.
De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said this latest community project by Pilgrim’s goes “above and beyond their ongoing support of the community.”
Combined with $95,000 in new equipment slated for Herman Dierks Park this year, the splash pad will help make the park an even greater attraction for future visitors.
The donation made by Pilgrim’s for the splash pad is on top of the $225,000 donated by the company last month for construction of a community walking trail at the new hospital in Sevier County. The one-mile-long lighted and landscaped trail will weave through the grounds of the Sevier County Medical Center and will be open for use by the whole community.
Pilgrim’s made the donation through its Hometown Strong initiative to bring investment and community projects to the areas in which it serves.
Community organizers schedule clean up day in De Queen in April      3/17/2021
DE QUEEN – Local volunteer organizers are preparing to host a community clean up in De Queen next month.

Organizers are calling all community members who want to volunteer and make a difference in the community by helping clean up litter are asked to meet at Herman Dierks Park on Saturday, April 17. A time has not yet been selected for the event to begin but will be determined at a later date.

Organizers are also asking anyone who can to donate cleaning supplies such as gloves and trash bags.

For more information, contact Jonathan Buenrostro at 784-4468 or check out the Facebook event page for more details.

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

MILLWOOD LAKE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office has announced plans to reopen the Okay Landing Recreation Area at 8 a.m. this Friday, March 19.

While repairs to Okay Levee will continue, motorists are asked to exercise caution and adhere to posted signage that will be in place due to additional truck traffic present at the recreation area.

Officials at the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office said they regret any inconvenience this may cause and ask for the public’s cooperation until the work is complete. Motorist should plan for additional travel time and remain vigilant of additional traffic in the area.

For further information please call the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office at 870-898-3343.

Recreation information can be found on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Millwood Lake website or on its Facebook at www.facebook.com/littlerockusace.

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

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown High School Scholarship Committee will soon be awarding scholarships to 2021 AHS seniors, as it has since its formation in 1986. Contributors are encouraged to either continue donations as they have in previous years or become new scholarship donors and contribute to the success of new Ashdown High School graduates in their post-secondary endeavors.

Last year, the committee awarded 65 scholarships with a total value of over $37,000, according to Ronda Pounds, chairperson of the committee.  This brings the total scholarships to nearly half a million dollars awarded to over 1,100 students over the course of the committee’s 35-year history.

Pounds also stated that 100 percent of all donated monies are awarded every year and that all donations are tax-deductible.

The Scholarship Committee has also authorized an alumni fund through which former students of Ashdown High School and businesses may contribute to the program in any amount and at any time.  Such contributions may be made in honor or memory of friends and loved ones.

This year in order to abide by ADH/ADE guidelines, scholarship presentations are currently scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, May 2. The event will begin at 2 p.m. in the Helen Parker Gym at AHS.  Social distancing and masks will be required.  Pounds said all donors are welcome to attend the presentation and are welcome to participate in presenting the scholarship they are sponsoring.

To be awarded to 2021 AHS seniors, contributions must be received by April 1.  They may be mailed to or dropped off at the Ashdown School District Administration Office at 751 Rankin Street, Ashdown, Arkansas 71822.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures      3/17/2021

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net increase of two yesterday for a current total of 34. Cumulative cases increased slightly to 2,763 while deaths remained at 25.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone in phase 1-B is currently able to get his or her vaccine. This group includes all Arkansans aged 65 years or older; teachers in childcare, K-12 and higher education; frontline essential workers including food and agricultural workers, first responders, grocery store workers, U.S. Postal Service employees, essential government workers and manufacturing workers. Phase 1-B also includes leaders of Houses of Worship and Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
This expansion of Phase 1-B makes the vaccine available to more than 180,000 additional Arkansans.
Last week the Arkansas Department of Health announced the creation of a statewide call center to assist Arkansans in setting a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. These appointments would be made for vaccine clinics organized through the Arkansas Department of Health and its local health units. Workers at the call center will not be able to book appointments for the shot at a community pharmacy but will help Arkansans begin that process.
The call center can be reached at 1-800-985-6030. The hotline is available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Translation services will be available.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said an additional 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines will be made available in Arkansas this week. He and public health officials hope to begin Phase 1-C at the end of March or early April.
For more information on eligibility guidelines, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov. The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy can be contacted through its Facebook page or by calling (870) 642-2400.
Arizona man convicted of running illegal adoption scheme in De Queen seeks appeal       3/16/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
A former Arizona politician convicted of orchestrating an illegal adoption scheme in De Queen and several other locations is seeking to have his six-year prison sentence overturned.
According to court filings, Paul Petersen is suggesting his sentence was too severe due additional factors presented during his trial. In particular, Petersen said his sentence was tainted by the trial judge concluding Petersen had abused his status as an adoption lawyer.
Petersen, who previously served as the Republican assessor for Maricopa County, was sentenced in Arkansas last month to six-years in prison on human trafficking charges. He is also awaiting sentencing in April for related charges in Utah and Arizona.
The charges all relate to an adoption scheme Petersen had orchestrated for years and which burst into the national scene in 2019. In effect, for at least the past decade Petersen had assisted in smuggling pregnant women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United States so their babies could be adopted for financial gain. Petersen charged couples $35,000 to adopt these children. In compensation the women were told they would receive $10,000.
Prosecutors described the scheme as a “baby-selling enterprise” and that Petersen had organized over 70 illegal adoptions. These actions violated a compact between the United States and Marshall Islands which bands Marshallese women from traveling to the United States for adoptions unless they have a specific visa. None of the women involved were provided that visa.
Thanks to a multi-state investigation, Petersen’s actions were uncovered and federal charges swiftly filed against him. He was arrested in October of 2019. Nonetheless, the scheme left dozens of victims in its wakes. And many with a connection to De Queen.
De Queen was one of several locations used by Petersen to hide the women as they completed their pregnancies. Witnesses to one of the locations described it as a “baby mill,” with numerous pregnant women sleeping on mattresses on the floor. As many as 10 pregnant women were kept in a home in De Queen at any given time.
Sevier County Airport to receive $9,000 thru federal grant       3/16/2021
DE QUEEN – Sevier County’s airport is set to receive funding through a federal grant for increased sanitation to combat the spread of pathogens like COVID-19 at the facility.
Arkansas’ congressional delegation made the announcement Monday afternoon. In all, Arkansas received over $1.4 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation for airports and airfields in Arkansas to off-set costs and maintain jobs as a result of COVID-19. The grants are also designed to help these facilities implement additional measures to prevent transmissions of viruses or diseases.
The J. Lynn Helms Airport located just west of De Queen will receive $9,000 for this latter purpose. Mena’s Intermountain Municipal Airport is expected to receive $13,000 through the federal grant for similar purposes.
The funds are being provided through the Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act which passed in December of last year.
Track stimulus payments through IRS       3/16/2021
The third round of stimulus checks began flowing into Arkansans’ bank accounts over the weekend — but for those still awaiting its arrival, there’s a quick way to track the status.
Like the previous two cash payments, you can check the status of the payment using the IRS’s Get My Payment tool, which went live on Saturday. The first payments will go to Americans with direct deposit set up, the IRS said. After that, the agency will mail paper checks and pre-paid debit cards to anyone who qualifies for the money.
The cash payments included in the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that President Biden signed into law last week are the largest yet, with some Americans eligible to receive up to $1,400. But like the previous rounds of checks — worth $1,200 and $600 — some people will be excluded from getting the money.
Under the legislation, individuals with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less, and couples with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less, are eligible to receive a one-time payment of $1,400.
The Get My Payment tool is available here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HB1589 prohibits taxpayer resource transactions for abortions.

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

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

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

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

SB225 amends the additional fees required to register a hybrid vehicle. If enacted, the new fees for hybrid vehicles will be reduced from $100 to $50 starting January 1, 2022. Fees for electric vehicles will be $200, and the fees for a plug-in hybrid elective vehicle will be $100

The House will convene on Tuesday at 1 pm.

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

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

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

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County fell by one yesterday to 32. Cumulative cases increased slightly to 2,760 while deaths remained at 25.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ms. DeVore is currently teaching history and social studies at Horatio High School. She has been with the Horatio School District for 13 of her 27 years in education. Vickie graduated from East Texas State University with a BSE in Secondary Education with emphasis in History and then received her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction in Secondary Education with English emphasis from Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas.
Ms. DeVore’s Belief Statement: “My educational philosophy is basic. I am the barometer for my classroom. As an educator, I have the ability to humiliate or help…intimidate or inspire. I believe the greatest gift I can give a student is the ability to think critically. I have found that kids are kids…no matter the area or socioeconomic background. I feel it is the teacher’s responsibility to work with the individual; not only to challenge and inspire, but also to aid in their pursuit and completion of a high school course of study. Most of my teaching experience has been in private education with multiple grade and multi-subject experience. I realize that students enter a classroom with various academic abilities. Through the use of multi-intelligence instruction, I strive to meet them where they are and help them achieve.”
Horatio Elementary and Horatio School District Teacher of the Year is Karen Woods
Ms. Woods is currently teaching fourth grade at Horatio Elementary School. She has been with the Horatio School District for 11 of her 28 years in education. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education plus has acquired an additional 18 hours of coursework. Her certifications include K-6, early childhood, 5-8 social studies, and ELL.
Ms. Woods’ Belief Statement: “My philosophy of education includes clear expectations, a focus on developing thinking skills, and student differentiation. Through my classroom instruction and teaching reading groups, my goal is to incorporate these aspects in my daily routine.”
“It is a great honor getting to know these talented and dedicated teachers. They are not only assets to Horatio students but also to the education profession. I am proud to serve with Mrs. DeVore and Mrs. Woods.” Zane Vanderpool, Superintendent.
Feral Hog Pilot Program continues in Sevier, Howard and Hempstead Counties      3/15/2021
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County National Resources Conservation Service is continuing to offer help to area landowners through a new feral hog eradication program.
The NRCS office in De Queen received a portion of a $1.4 million federal grant earlier this year to bring the program to Sevier, Hempstead and Howard Counties. The pilot program includes personnel, equipment and tactics aimed at helping local property owners combat the scourge of feral hogs.
The program has hired a total of seven trappers to assist with the eradication effort. In Sevier County, the two full-time trappers are Steven Pinkerton, a native of Nashville, and Jackson Lee of Cove. Robin Stacy of the NRCS office in De Queen is heading the program. Stacy said the grant allowed the office to hire two full-time trappers to assist landowners. The grant will fund those positions for the next three years. Stacy said her office is hoping to get the word out to landowners that the office is poised to help with their hog eradication efforts. She said the trappers would be available to set up and bait traps on their property.

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

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

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

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

ONF wraps up control burn at Cedar Lake, more planned this spring       3/15/2021
OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST – If things looked a little hazy out north west over the past week and a half, that’s because it’s prescribed burn season for the Ouachita National Forest. Officials with the Ouachita National Forest recently completed a prescribed burn on a portion near Cedar Lake. The lake’s recreation area reopened on Friday following completion of the controlled fire.
The U.S. Forest Service announced it plans to burn around 250,000 acres combined between the Ouachita and Ozark National Forests this spring. Both forests cover land in Arkansas as well as Oklahoma. Currently no other prescribed burns are listed on the schedule but others are expected in the coming weeks and months.

Prescribed fires, also known as controlled fires, are intended to meet several objectives. According to the Forest Service, the first objective of prescribed burns is to reduce the potential for large, costly catastrophic wildfires. Other important objectives include improving habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, turkey, endangered bats and woodpeckers and others.

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

People with smoke sensitivities, who are not on the Forest Service’s prescribed burn notification list, should contact their nearest ranger district to be added. Area residents can call the Hochatown office at (580) 494-6402 or the Mena Office at (479) 394-2382. Many conditions must be met before a prescribed fire can be ignited. The day chosen must be a combination of the correct humidity, wind speed and direction, temperature, fuel moisture, and atmospheric conditions. Factoring in all these requirements limits the number of days in which a prescribed fire can take place.

The Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests will notify local media outlets and smoke sensitive residents on days when prescribed fires are scheduled in their area. Daily updates on prescribed fires across the forests can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita

Forest Service officials remind that flying drones over a wildfire or prescribed burn puts firefighting pilots in danger. This violation of federal, state, and local laws may subject the offender to civil penalties, including fines of up to $25,000, and potentially criminal prosecution.

As always the public is asked to report any unattended wildfires by calling 911 or the Forests’ fire dispatch at 501-321-5232.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County fell by five on Sunday to 33. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,759 while deaths remained at 25.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said the remembrance is a small way for the state of Arkansas to extended its sympathies to Arkansas families who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19.

The seedlings will be available at a number locations through March 24. That includes, most locally, at the Forestry Commission’s District Office in Dierks, located at 106 North Main Street. The phone number is (870) 828-0859.

Families are asked to call to arrange a time to pick up the seedlings.  Forestry Division office locations will be taking calls and assisting individuals with seedling pick up Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Information on the Memorial Seedlings donation is available at https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-resource-information/memorial-seedlings-available-to-honor-the-memory-of-loved-ones-lost-due-to-covid-19/.

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

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

The program is described as an introduction to the safe and effective use of fire as a land management tool. Topics to be discussed include fire ecology, using fire to maintain wildlife habitat, writing a prescribed burn plan, liability and personal protective equipment and tools.

The session will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 31 at the Polk County Fairground commercial building in Mena.

The event is free to attend and lunch will be proved at no additional cost. Those interested must pre-register however at www.learn-to-burn-mena.eventbrite.com.

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

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

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

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

Rep. Vaught provides legislative update      3/12/2021

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

Members passed the following bills Thursday afternoon:

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

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

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

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

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

The House will convene on Monday at 1 pm.

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

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

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

The challenge takes place on Millwood Lake and began on the first day of February. And if you haven’t had a chance to make it to Millwood Lake yet, don’t worry – the challenge won’t end until April 15 at 5 p.m. that day.

There are over 100 prize fish, valued at $137,500 in cash—including the $10,000 “BIG MILLIE” grand prize. The prize fish are all wearing 2021 yellow tags and were released into Millwood Lake just prior to the challenge start date.

​​The yellow tags will have a phone number and a prize number on them. If a fish is caught the angler must call the number and present the fish with the yellow tag attached, along with the badge number. All official rules must be complied with.

The prize fish include bass, catfish (of any kind) and crappie. ONLY bream will be tagged for the youth angler challenge. All tagged fish will be have to be checked-in alive and with their yellow tag in place.

The contest is open to anyone with a valid Arkansas fishing license and a valid badge that can be purchased for $15. Badges can be purchased at a number of locations, including Bogey’s and Milway Federal Credit Union. A full list of participating locations is available at ashdownarkansas.org/millwoodfishingchallenge

A special young anglers weekend will be held in April.

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

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

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County were unchanged yesterday and remain at 38. Cumulative cases rose by three to 2,753. Deaths remain at 25.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new Sevier County Community Outreach Center is based largely on the department’s Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program, also known as RSAT, but with at least one major difference: RSAT is only available to those serving a sentence in the Sevier County Jail for a non-violent offense; the Community Outreach Center, however, will be offered to anyone in the community facing substance abuse problems.
Both programs are components of an evolving perspective in the United States of how addiction is addressed, from the point-of-view of both law enforcement and the standpoint of public health professionals. Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry and Chris Wolcott, the Sevier County Jail administrator, introduced the local RSAT program nearly four years ago. Both Gentry and Wolcott, who each possess decades of experience in law enforcement, saw a need for a new strategy to combat substance abuse in Sevier County.
The RSAT program, funded through a federal grant, offered the alternative many law enforcement agencies were desperately seeking.
Now in its fourth year and with 150 graduated inmates so far, the RSAT program offered at the Sevier County Jail seems to be working. Gentry and Wolcott said graduates are getting jobs, reconnecting with families and, critically, not returning to jail.
That’s a telling statistic, given the average recidivism rate of non-violent drug offenders is around 65 percent. Petty theft in De Queen and Sevier County in general fell, too. By offering treatment for addiction, the RSAT program offered a path for inmates that offered more chance for recovery than prison time. And that was accomplished through partnerships with faith-based groups, substance abuse counselors, parental training and career development. The program also carried a philosophy that some drug offenders, like most people, sometimes just need a second chance.
Wolcott said he hopes the new Sevier County Community Outreach Center will provide the same services – minus the jail time – to people in the community facing substance abuse problems. Some people, Wolcott added, just need help they’ve never received before.
The Outreach Center, like the RSAT program, is funded through a federal grant – no local tax dollars are funding the program. The $50,000 grant will pay for a year of the program with the option to renew this fall. The grant is paying for a part-time case manager/counselor to help volunteers navigate through the program, which will be offered at no cost. Programs offered through the center range from AA/NA classes and mental health counseling to substance abuse treatment, religious services and parental classes. Gentry and Wolcott hope to add career development classes, GED courses and other programs designed to help those fighting addiction break that cycle and become productive members of the community.
Wolcott said he has a lot of faith the Outreach Center will see a similar level of success – if not more – than the jail’s RSAT program. In fact, that program has seen such success, and received so much publicity, law enforcement agencies across the country have reached out to Sevier County for advice on modeling their own programs.
Both Gentry and Wolcott praised the organizations who have partnered to help create the Outreach Center, particularly area churches. Gentry said the sheriff’s office is extremely grateful to First Baptist Church of De Queen, which donated an office in its east wing for the program’s coordinator. The program already has a full list of meetings and recovery services scheduled this week and into the future.

For Wolcott, the Outreach Center will be a success if it even helps one person fight their addiction and stay out of jail. For more information the program, call 870-784-7969 or 870-582-539. The center’s office located at First Baptist Church of De Queen is also open 8 a.m. to 12 noon Monday through Friday as well as additional hours in the evening.

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

Monday:

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

Tuesday:

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

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

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

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

Wednesday:

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

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

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

Thursday:

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

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

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

Friday:

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

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

Saturday:

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

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

Sunday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-trial hearing set for Lockesburg woman accused of negligent homicide     3/11/2021
NASHVILLE – A pre-trial hearing has been set for a Lockesburg woman facing charges for her involvement in a 2020 vehicular accident that left one man dead.
According to court records, 33-year-old Brandi Turner of Lockesburg will appear before the Howard County Circuit Court for the pre-trial hearing on June 9. She was charged in late January with negligent homicide as well as second-degree battery and driving while intoxicated in relation to a fatal accident in Howard County on Oct. 17 of last year.
Prosecutors allege Turner was intoxicated at the time of the accident. According to the Arkansas State Police, Turner was traveling north on Highway 27 around 11:30 that night when she crossed the centerline and collided with two other vehicles. The investigating state trooper reported Turner collided head-on with a 2013 Dodge Avenger. The driver of the avenger, 58-year-old Tony Ray Young of Mineral Springs, was killed in the accident. A passenger, listed as an unnamed minor in the report, was injured.

No injuries occurred in the third vehicle, according to the investigating state trooper. Road and weather conditions at the time of the accident were reported as clear and dry.

The investigation continued following the accident with the authorities issuing a warrant for access to Turner’s cellphone. Charges were then formally filed yesterday.

A toxicology report alleges Turner was over the legal limit in terms of alcohol consumption when the accident occurred. The negligent homicide charge is a Class B Felony which can carry a sentence of five to 20 years in prison. In addition, Turner has been charged with second degree battery for the minor injured in the accident. That charge can carry an additional sentence of three to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net increase of three on Wednesday, raising the total to 35. Cumulative cases rose by four to 2,750. Deaths remain at 25.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That included the board’s decision to begin initial interviews for the hospital’s CEO/administrator position in mid-April. Cole said the board has selected 10 applicants to interview. The board expects to choose the finalist during next month’s interviews and have the position filled by June 1. The administrator/CEO position will be responsible for overseeing construction of the new hospital as that process completes as well as heading all day-to-day operations once the medical center opens in 2022. The position will include a salary of between $160,000 and $200,000.

Cole said the board had finalized its agreement with AirEvac, which provides helicopter-based medical transport in the region. AirEvac has agreed to sign a long-term lease to build a helipad and crew dormitory on the site of the new hospital. This will allow the helicopter service to be directly onsite once the hospital opens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a net decrease of four, dropping the total to 25. Cumulative cases were unchanged at 2,731. Deaths remain at 25.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor announces March pardons, commutations       3/08/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Active cases of COVID-19 fell to 29 on Sunday. Cumulative cases now number 2,731 with 2,677 recoveries. Deaths remain at 29.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sevier County Medical Center to begin CEO interviews in April      3/05/2021
DE QUEEN – De Queen’s new hospital is one step closer to getting a new administrator following yesterday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.
Chairman Dr. Steve Cole announced the board had narrowed down its applications to 10 individuals. The board selected mid-April for initial interviews to narrow down those finalists further. The administrator/CEO position will be responsible for overseeing construction of the new hospital as that process completes as well as heading all day-to-day operations once the medical center opens in 2022. The position will include a salary of between $160,000 and $200,000.
The board also heard from its legal counsel, who stated future workers at the new hospital will be employees of both the hospital and the county. That means those employees will have access to benefits offered to existing county employees. However, the hospital will also have the option to provide additional benefits including retirement plans specific to the healthcare industry.
In other business, Cole said the board had finalized its agreement with AirEvac, which provides helicopter-based medical transport in the region. AirEvac has agreed to sign a long-term lease to build a helipad and crew dormitory on the site of the new hospital. This will allow the helicopter service to be directly onsite once the hospital opens.
Greg Revels, who serves as treasurer for the board, said the hospital currently has over $1.3 million in the bank to assist with operational costs when the hospital opens. Cole said it’s vital for the hospital to have a “war chest” to cover costs for the first year of the hospital’s operation.

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

The board is expected to meet again in April.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The gates open for the 10-day fair on April 2 at 5 p.m. and will run through Sunday, April 11.  New this year, opening Friday night, April 2, will feature AMMP Motor Sports Monster Trucks in the Entertainment Center at 7:30 p.m.  Event Tickets are available online at www.fourstatesfair.com or by visiting the Four States Fair Box office weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch and Warning Rules to Follow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few severe weather safety tips to keep in mind:

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

If a Severe Thunderstorm Warning or Tornado Warning is issued for your area, do not hesitate to find a place of safety. If a safe room is not available, the next best location is the lowest floor of a permanant structure in an interior room away from windows. Put as many walls between you and the outdoors as you can.

Make sure that you have a source to receive the latest information, such as us here at KDQN. KDQN has been the official reporting station for the National Weather Service in De Queen since 1980. Other sources of warning information can include telephone notification services to which people subscribe, pagers and cell phones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Millwood Tri-Lakes office regret any inconvenience this may cause, and ask for the public’s cooperation until the work is complete. Flaggers will be present to assist with the flow of traffic, but motorists should plan for additional travel time.

The closure is being coordinated with emergency services and law enforcement agencies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.sba.gov

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outdoor Tornado Sirens…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…Some Lightning Safety Rules…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay out of the bathtub or shower.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura Figueroa crowned 2021 Miss DHS      3/01/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As of Friday afternoon no races or challenges were filed.

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

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

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

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

The following tax measures were advanced by the House:

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

Several bills addressing public health passed last week including:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about each park, visitArkansasStateParks.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Submitted by Dustin Roberts of UofA Cossatot

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

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

The UA Cossatot Fall 2020 Chancellor’s List Includes:

Amity: Destiny Bright and Hannah Coffman

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

Ben Lomond: Molly Parker

Buckner: Maegan Taylor

Cove: Sophie Jackson

Delight: Camri Kirkham

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

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

Foreman: Johnny Carter and Kori Southerland

Gillham: Andrew Shelton

Glenwood: Vivian Angeles and Vasti Hernandez

Grannis: Brandon Marrufo

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

Idabel: Andrea Linville

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

Mena: Joshua Swint

Mineral Springs: Marquise Bryant and Kasia Ragland

Murfreesboro: Hope Littles

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

New Boston: David Balderas

Newhope: Jewel Bennett

Ozan: La Shonna Cooper and David Tozcano

Prescott: Jacob Ojeda

Royal: Aubree Gauldin

Texarkana: Charles Wise

Umpire: Christopher Moore

Winthrop: Benjamin Hendrix

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

Amity: Randi Markham

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

Delight: Amy Campbell, Daniel Golden, Bobbie Craig

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

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

Fayetteville: Destiny Jackson

Fouke: Kristen Sewell

Garvin: Hannah Honey

Hope: Shelby Pogue

Horatio: Nicole Pierce and Amanda Taylor

Little Rock: James Abbott

McCaskill: Cameron Lane, Jorge Torres, Corta Young

Mena: Cadie Cannon

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

Murfreesboro: Kyla Collins and Jessica Parker

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

Newhope: Alleigh Tucker

Star City: Megan Lovelis

Texarkana: Shannon Burkland, Crystal Morgan, and Coleman Newberry

Wickes: Miguel Ortiz

Winthrop: Autumn Hofmann

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

Students graduating fall 2020 with Summa Cum Laude Honors:

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

Students graduating fall 2020 with Magna Cum Laude Honors:

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

Students graduating fall 2020 with Cum Laude Honors:

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

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

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

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

Arkadelphia: Jordan Myers, Technical Certificate: General Studies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fayetteville: Destiny Jackson, Associate of Science: Psychology

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

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

Fulton: Summer King, Technical Certificate: Medical Assisting

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

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

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

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

Idabel: Erica Ristrim, Certificate of Proficiency: Medical Transcription

Kirby: Elica Vasquez, Certificate of Proficiency: Medical Transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prairie Grove: Rhonda Harton, Technical Certificate: General Studies

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

Springdale: Talia Lambert, Associate of Applied Science: Accounting

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

Umpire: Christopher Moore, Certificate of Proficiency: Mechanical Devices

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

Winthrop: Kiarra Young, Associate of Science: Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DE QUEEN – The Arkansas Department of Health has notified us a Boil Order Alert has been issued by the Sevier County Water Association for the approximately 52 service connections west of the Rolling Fork River. This order was issued as a precautionary measure because of the possibility that contaminated water may have entered the distribution system as a result of a loss in normal system pressure.

Under the boil order, all affected customers are advised that the water may be unsafe for human consumption and all water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled for at least one minute before use.

The notice will be lifted by the Department of Health when one of two bacteriological samples indicates that the water is free of contamination and an adequate disinfectant level is established throughout the distribution system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The challenge takes place on Millwood Lake and began on the first day of February. And if you haven’t had a chance to make it to Millwood Lake yet, don’t worry – the challenge won’t end until April 15 at 5 p.m. that day.

There are over 100 prize fish, valued at $137,500 in cash—including the $10,000 “BIG MILLIE” grand prize. The prize fish will all be wearing 2021 yellow tags and will be released into Millwood Lake just prior to the challenge start date.

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

The yellow tags will have a phone number and a prize number on them. If a fish is caught the angler must call the number and present the fish with the yellow tag attached, along with the badge number. All official rules must be complied with.

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

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

The contest is open to anyone with a valid Arkansas fishing license and a valid badge that can be purchased for $15. Badges can be purchased at a number of locations, including Bogey’s and Milway Federal Credit Union. A full list of participating locations is available at ashdownarkansas.org/millwoodfishingchallenge

A special young anglers weekend will be held in April.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DE QUEEN – A team of area organizers have launched an inclusive local group and announced plans this month for a community mural as their first project in De Queen.

The new Non-Profit organization is aiming to support the minority populations of Sevier County and unite the communities of Southwest Arkansas as a whole. After their most recent meeting held in downtown De Queen last on Feb. 5, leaders conducted a poll and voted “Minority Affairs Council” as the name for the group.

The first community goal carried out by the Minority Affairs Council will be to cover up graffiti markings with a “Welcome to De Queen Mural” on a storage unit business recently vandalized on the Eastern edge of town. MAC has received permission from the business owner to paint the building’s exterior and the group is in the process of commissioning a team of artists to bring the work of community art to life.

To fund the community mural, a series of fundraisers will be held to help cover the costs for supplies and provide artist compensation.

People of all ages, ethnicities, religions and cultures are welcome to be involved in the Minority Affairs Council. The next meeting was scheduled for Feb. 18 in De Queen but was cancelled due to last week’s winter storms. A future meeting date will be announced. For questions or to become involved in the mural or council itself, email DQunity@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The House also passed the following bills on Monday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Active cases in Sevier County saw a net decrease of three cases yesterday, dropping the current total to 48. Overall cases grew by 13 to 2,571 while deaths remained at 28.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The program is described as an introduction to the safe and effective use of fire as a land management tool. Topics to be discussed include fire ecology, using fire to maintain wildlife habitat, writing a prescribed burn plan, liability and personal protective equipment and tools.

The session will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 31 at the Polk County Fairground commercial building in Mena.

The event is free to attend and lunch will be proved at no additional cost. Those interested must pre-register however at www.learn-to-burn-mena.eventbrite.com.

The Learn to Burn class is hosted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Quail Forever and the Arkansas Forestry Association.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures       02/22/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————School Closings————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warmer weather moving into area today        02/18/21

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

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

Temperatures will gradually increase through the weekend and into next week. Nightly lows will remain below freezing, however, over the next several days. Tonight’s low of 12 degrees and Friday night’s low of 15 will be particularly chilling. But these lows are the tail end of this week’s severe winter weather. And we don’t know about everyone, but here at KDQN Studios in De Queen, we’re ready to say goodbye to all that arctic weather.

While we may be out of the woods in terms of snowfall, the low over the next couple of evenings still requires some caution. We’ve received a lot of reports of frozen and burst pipes in the listening area due to the subfreezing temps. There are a few tips you can follow to prevent that from occurring and how to respond if it does happen.

Every resident should be familiar with where the water shutoff valve is located in their home. This is critical so it can be found quickly if water does start to pour out of a broken pipe.

To help prevent freezing water lines, open cabinet doors underneath the sink to allow the household air to keep pipes warm.

If there is an attached garage to the home, keep those doors closed. Occasionally, plumbing is routed through this unheated space, leaving it vulnerable to the freezing temperatures.

Find the faucet furthest from where water enters the house and let it to drip slowly. Allowing water to move through the pipes will reduce the chance of water freezing. You can even set a bucket in the sink to collect the water that drips, so it can be saved for other household uses.

If a pipe has already frozen, it is vital to shut off water to the house before starting to thaw the pipe; this will prevent any potential flooding if the pipe has been broken.

Do not to use any high intensity heater such as a blow torch, as these can damage the pipes. The best practice is to use a hair dryer, or a space heater, to blow hot air into the area and thaw the ice inside the pipes. Pipes that are warmed too fast may break, according to Denver Water.

Check the effected area for leaks after thawing to make sure the freeze didn’t damage your pipes.

If access to the frozen pipe is tricky, you do not have the proper tools or the pipe has broken, contact a plumber.

Farmer assistance available through Feb. 26        02/18/21

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide additional assistance through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, also known as CFAP, expanding eligibility for some agricultural producers and commodities as well as updating payments to accurately compensate some producers who already applied for the program.

Producers who are now eligible and those who need to modify existing applications due to these updates can contact USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) through Feb. 26. Some of these changes are being made to align with the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 while others are discretionary changes being made in response to ongoing evaluation of CFAP.

Contract producers of swine, broilers, laying hens, chicken eggs and turkeys who suffered a drop in revenue in 2020 as compared to their 2019 revenue because of the pandemic now are eligible for assistance.  Producers could receive up to 80% of their revenue loss, subject to the availability of funds.

Newly eligible producers can submit a new CFAP 2 application or producers who need to modify an existing one can do so between Jan. 19 and Feb. 26, 2021, by contacting the De Queen USDA Service Center by calling 870-584-3111. New applicants can also obtain one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364.

To learn more about this additional assistance, visit farmers.gov/cfap.

Arkansas Attorney General warns of weather-related scams        02/18/21

State law enforcement agents are urging Arkansans to be on guard against scam artists and price gouging following this week’s severe winter weather that has impacted the entire state. The snow and ice can cause damage to homes, businesses, vehicles, trees and other property, and clean-up efforts may require some Arkansans to seek assistance from contractors or repairmen.

In a press release Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge urged all Arkansans to use caution as the clean-up process begins and to contact her office if they suspect any type of fraud or price gouging.

Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an Executive Order issuing a state of emergency following the freezing rain, sleet, snow and power outages in Arkansas. Act 376 of 1997, which prohibits businesses from price gouging during a state of emergency, is now in effect through the executive order. The law prohibits businesses from charging more than 10 percent above the pre-disaster price of goods or services, such as food, fuel, water, flashlights, batteries, blankets, medicine, bandages and construction materials.

The price gouging law is triggered whenever a state of emergency is declared by federal, State or local governments. The ban on price gouging remains in effect for at least 30 days and can be extended another 30 days by the local governing body if necessary to protect the lives, property or welfare of the citizens. For home repairs, the law remains in effect for 180 days.

A violation of Act 376 is a violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Arkansans who believe they have encountered a disaster scam or price gouging should contact the Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or file a consumer complaint atArkansasAG.gov.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures        02/18/21

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County saw a net decrease of 10 cases yesterday, dropping the current total to 79. Overall cases grew to 2,545 while deaths remained at 28.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported five fewer active cases for a current total of 20. Total cases grew were unchanged at 1,112 and deaths at 40.

Howard County reported four fewer active cases on Wednesday for a current total of 50. Overall cases rose to 1,499. Deaths remain at 24.

Active cases in Polk County fell by eight yesterday and now number 66. Total cases increased to 1,846 while deaths remained at 61.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a net decrease of 11 cases on Wednesday for a current total of 254. Cumulative cases rose to 3,730. Deaths remain at 61.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported 667 new cases of COVID-19 across the state on Wednesday. That raises the number of transmissions since the start of the pandemic to just over 314,000. Active cases experienced another day of consecutive decline, falling to nearly 900 for a current active caseload of 8,200. Deaths increased by 26 to 5,313.

State health officials warn a lack of COVID-19 testing this week due to the severe winter weather is likely responsible for the lower than usual daily growth in new cases. They remind everyone to follow state and CDC guidelines as much as possible, including wearing a face mask in public, watching your distance and washing your hands.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson made two announcements on Tuesday regarding the state’s COVID-19 guidelines. The first is the lessening of restrictions in regards to large indoor events. Previously any indoor commercial event with the planned attendance of 10 or more people required state approval. That limit has now been raised to 100. Hutchinson added that spring school sports with two or more teams can now proceed after a plan has been submitted to the Arkansas Department of Health and approved.

Thursday weather related closings     02/17/21   updated  6:00 pm
Pilgrim’s announced it will not operate either shift at its De Queen complex on Thursday, Feb. 18 due to weather conditions in the area. The plant is expected to resume operations on Friday.
The Tyson Foods plant in Grannis will not operate on day shift Thursday, according to Grannis Plant Manager Tim Norman. Tyson in Grannis will plan to resume with sanitation Thursday afternoon, and plant operations in Grannis will resume Thursday night.

The Tyson Foods plant in Broken Bow will not operate on day shift Thursday, according to Plant Manager Chris McKinney. Tyson in Broken Bow tentatively plans to start plant operations Thursday night, with plans to work Friday night and Saturday. Stay tuned for further updates.

De Queen City Hall will remain closed on Thursday due to inclement weather. According to Mayor Jeff Brown, sanitation routes will not run this week but will resume service next week. Last night’s De Queen City Council meeting was also canceled. The next regularly scheduled De Queen City Council meeting will be Tuesday, March 2.
The Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill will remain closed on Thursday, according to County Judge Greg Ray. Judge Ray says that plans are to reopen the Courthouse on Friday. The Sevier County Circuit Court will not hold a court session tomorrow.
Tonight’s Ash Wednesday Services at De Queen First United Methodist Church have been cancelled.

All Husqvarna – Nashville facilities: L & G, HPN, and Warehouse will remain closed on Thursday, and all shifts will not run operations on Thursday. Stay tuned to KDQN for further updates.
The Minority Affairs Council meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen has been postponed. The meeting will be rescheduled.
De Queen Head Start and the Little Bitty City & Enrichment Center will be closed until Monday the 22nd.Fun and Learnland Pre-School & Day Care and Sevier County Developmental Center on College Drive in De Queen will remain closed until Monday the 22nd.

The Cossatot Senior Center in Wickes will remain closed Thursday.
Thursday and Friday School closings 

De Queen Public Schools will switch to virtual learning and work packets for the remainder of the week due to the snow, the weather forecast, and the number of secondary roads in the district. Students were given directions for their assignments last week. If you have any questions, contact your student’s building administrator via email. Classes will resume at De Queen Public Schools on Monday the 22nd.
Ashdown Public Schools will pivot to virtual days for students and staff for the rest of the week. All buildings on the Ashdown campus will remain closed all week due to inclement weather. Onsite instruction will resume Monday at Ashdown Schools.
The Dierks School District will remain closed for the rest of the week. Elementary and high school students should continue to complete their virtual assignments. Dierks School officials say that they are aware of the internet and power issues related to the winter storm, so please rest assured that make-up policies are in place for any missed assignments.
Horatio Schools will remain closed for onsite instruction for the rest of the week, as Horatio will pivot to Digital Days and work remotely from home. Horatio students should watch for communications from their teachers, and continue to be engaged with learning.The
Cossatot River School District will remain closed for the rest of the week. These will be virtual days for students and faculty. Onsite classes will resume at Cossatot River on Tuesday, February 23rd.
Foreman Schools will remain closed for the rest of the week. Students at Foreman are encouraged to access your virtual learning platform and stay current with your class work. Check your Google classroom and finish all packets before Monday the 22nd.
University of Arkansas – Cossatot announced that all campuses will be closed for the rest of the week. Classes will resume at U of A – Cossatot on Monday the 22nd.

Weather Closing  – Updated 12:00 pm Wed 2/17/21

WEDNESDAY CLOSING & POSTPONEMENTS

Numerous closures remain in effect today as a winter storm continues to bring snow and subfreezing temperatures to the listening area.
Pilgrim’s announced it will close its De Queen complex Wednesday due to weather conditions in the area. This closure impacts both shifts scheduled to work today. The plant is expected to resume operations Thursday morning.
The Tyson Foods plant in Grannis will not operate until Thursday after, Feb. 18, when the sanitation shift is scheduled to begin. Operations will resume with Thursday’s night shift. Complex manager Tim Norman said the plant will continue to monitor weather conditions to determine if further delays are needed.
All Husqvarna facilities (L&G, HPN, and Warehouse) all shifts will not run operations on Wednesday. Company officials said they will continue to monitor the weather/road conditions and add updates daily.
Local bank closures include First State Bank of De Queen, Horatio State Bank and Bancorp South’s branch in De Queen.
The Cossatot River Senior Citizens Center in Wickes is closed today and Thursday.
County Trash Service (CTS) will not run today. Reliable Trash Service is not running today either and will resume service on Friday.
De Queen City Hall will remain closed on Thursday due to inclement weather. According to Mayor Jeff Brown, sanitation routes will not run this week but will resume service next week. Last night’s De Queen City Council meeting was also canceled. The next regularly scheduled De Queen City Council meeting will be Tuesday, March 2.
The Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill will remain closed on Thursday, according to County Judge Greg Ray. Judge Ray says that plans are to reopen the Courthouse on Friday. The Sevier County Circuit Court will not hold a court session tomorrow.
The Sevier County Democratic Party meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday evening has been postponed until Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. in the County Courthouse.
De Queen Head Start and the Little Bitty City & Enrichment Center will be closed until Monday, Feb. 22.
Fun and Learnland Pre-School & Day Care and Sevier County Developmental Center on College Drive in De Queen will remain closed today. The Fun and Learnland Pre-School will be closed Friday as well and will not reopen until Monday, Feb. 22.
The Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street in De Queen will remain closed on Wednesday. The Sevier and Little River County Departments of Human Services will also be closed today.
The Minority Affairs Council meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen has been postponed. The meeting will be rescheduled for a later date.
————————————————–
SCHOOL CLOSINGS
De Queen Public Schools will switch to virtual learning for the remainder of the week due to the snow, the weather forecast, and the number of questionable secondary roads in the district. Parents, guardians or students with questions are advised to contact their building administrator via email. Classes will resume at De Queen Public Schools on Monday, Feb. 22.
Ashdown Public Schools will pivot to a virtual learning only for students and staff on Wednesday and Thursday. All buildings on the Ashdown campus will remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday due to inclement weather.
The Dierks School District will remain closed Wednesday. Both elementary and high school students will switch to virtual learning during these closures.
Horatio Schools will also remain closed for onsite instruction Wednesday and Thursday and will pivot to online learning both days. Horatio students are advised to watch for contact from their teachers.
The Cossatot River School District will remain closed for the rest of the week. Wednesday through Friday will be virtual days for students and faculty. Onsite classes will resume at Cossatot River on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Foreman Schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, and will pivot to virtual learning. Students at Foreman are encouraged to access your virtual learning platform and stay current with your class work.
All UofA Campuses have been closed for the remainder of the week due to the weather. Classes are set to resume on Monday, Feb. 22.
Additional weather-related closures and announcements are likely today and tomorrow so stay tuned to KDQN for all the latest developments.
Winter storm warning continues; Tuesday’s low ties for third among coldest days in De Queen      2/17/21
DE QUEEN – A Winter Storm Warning persists for the listening area including Southwest Arkansas, Southeast Oklahoma and Northeast Texas.

The warning went into effect yesterday evening and will continue through noon on Thursday. This is round two of a pair of winter storms to hit the region this week. Over six inches of snow had fallen in Sevier County as of Monday with isolated areas receiving another inch or more. Additional snowfall predicted last night and through Wednesday is expected to add another three to six inches to the total.

Temperatures will remain below freezing but feel comparatively balmy in contrast to the negative five degrees seen Tuesday morning. Today’s high is 28 with a low of 22 this evening.

If you’re tired of the winter wonderland, don’t worry: the end is nearly in sight. The last of the two winter storms will move out tonight with just a 20 percent chance of snow and sleet this evening. Skies are expected to be clear over the next couple of days. The mercury is going to remain below the freezing point through Friday however, with a frigid low of 10 degrees Thursday night and 17 Friday night. However, a warm front will bring above-freezing temperatures to the region beginning Friday and continuing into the weekend and next week.

The official temperature reading of -5 degrees Tuesday morning prompted us to go back through the radio station weather information archives. To put the current weather in some perspective, Tuesday’s low ties in third place for the third coldest morning ever recorded in the history of De Queen. Some of listeners may recall the second coldest – -14 degrees on Feb. 1, 1951. The coldest temperature ever recorded in De Queen was an absolutely miserable -16 degrees on Feb. 12, 1899. That was also reported as one of the coldest winters since weather records began in Arkansas.

Monday’s snowfall of six inches in De Queen was the highest single day total since we recorded 9.5 inches back on Jan. 28, 2000. Over a two day period of January 27 and 28, 2000, we recorded 12.5 inches here at KDQN Studios. During the week of February 1-5, 1985, we recorded 16.5 inches. History proves it can always be worse!

Power companies in Arkansas say outages made necessary by freezing temperatures      2/17/21

DE QUEEN – Due to extreme winter conditions and record power usage, The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas were forced to implement emergency contingency plans that included short-term, rotating power curtailments at some local electric cooperatives. Curtailments were discontinued at 9 p.m., however the situation remains critical.

“This unprecedented situation is related to a number of factors, including a very volatile natural gas market, lack of dispatchable power generation resources and the extremely cold weather across multiple states,” said Andrew Lachowsky, vice president of planning and market operations for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “Despite public appeals to reduce usage and working with large industrial member, Arkansas’ electric cooperatives were forced to implement the short-term curtailment plan in order to avoid major wholesale power delivery issues.”

Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, the wholesale power provider for the state’s 17 local electric cooperatives, continues to work with regional transmission operators to address current issues.

SWEPCO announced it has ended emergency controlled outages it implemented earlier this week.

SWEPCO implemented rolling blackouts to reduce the load on the power system during the extreme winter temperatures.

Power outages were sporadic in De Queen with just a few singular outages reported. However, in Little River County, planned power outages results in the loss of electricity to nearly half of SWEPCO’s 4,200 customers in the county. According to www.poweroutage.us, which tracks power outages across the nation, those outages have been resolved and no further loss of power situations have been reported.

Emergency responders urge caution for renters, homeowners as winter storm continues; DQVFD responds to home fire Tuesday morning      2/17/21

DE QUEEN – The winter weather seen in the listening area over the past several days is a, fortunately, uncommon occurrence. As we’ve mentioned, Sevier County only sees this kind of weather once in a generation.

And while we’re lucky we don’t see this more often, perhaps it’s the unfamiliar weather that encourages some people to do things that, well, just shouldn’t be done. Especially when it comes to heating their homes.

Local emergency responders say they see bad situations develop far too commonly during this kind of weather. Things like using charcoal and propane grills to heat a home, for example. This, authorities caution loudly, is a bad idea. Charcoal and propane grills are not designed to be used inside homes due to the high level of carbon monoxide they emit. Grills are meant to be used in airy outside places, not your home.

And while it is incredibly tempting to burn some logs in the fireplace, it’s not a great idea if you haven’t used the fireplace in years. Unused fireplaces are an invitation for bird and squirrel nests and accumulations of other debris.

De Queen Fire Marshall Dennis Pruitt said local volunteer firefighters worked for hours early Tuesday morning to successfully put out a home fire caused by an improperly maintained fireplace. He said the homeowners had not used the fireplace in years. When they did so Monday night, they ended up causing a house fire after debris in the chimney ignited. Fortunately, the house was saved and no one was injured. But firefighters had to brave the negative temperatures for hours during the response.

Chimneys and fireplaces should be inspected and cleaned every year if possible. If you haven’t cleaned yours in years, you should only use it now only under an extreme emergency. If your other heating sources fail, it’s a better idea to stay with friends or family. Don’t risk life and property by using an improperly maintained fireplace.

It’s also important to remember that space heaters are highly inefficient. And, if used improperly, can also be extremely dangerous. Like any heating source, space heaters must be operated without any obstruction around at least several feet of the unit.

It’s cold outside and there’s no fun in having a heating system failure. But that shouldn’t lead to risky heating options. Relying on friends and family for a couple of days until your heating system is repaired is a much better option than risking your home and life to bad decisions.

Frigid temps and heavy snowfall a threat to cattle, poultry producers      2/17/21
DE QUEEN – Single-digit wind chills, freezing water in pipes and troughs and high snow loads on roofs are causing concerns for poultry and cattle operations.
Low temperatures reported Monday and Tuesday mornings to the National Weather Service included minus 5 in De Queen. In addition, the winter storm dumped at least six inches of snow across Southwest Arkansas.

For poultry growers in the area, the biggest problems are having water pipes freezing and watering equipment not working. The Cooperative Extension Service is reporting that growers in Arkansas are being forced to put space heaters and heat lamps in control rooms to keep pipes from freezing solid and to allow electronic control equipment to keep operating.

Many growers are getting very little sleep in order to check waterlines and birds and keep their livelihood going.

Roof collapse is also a big concern with weather like this. Many will remember the ice storm of 2000 and the number of poultry houses that collapsed due to heavy loads of snow on their roofs. The danger of roof collapse depends on how much snow they’ve received. Most can handle it, but when eight or more inches of snow fall, it’s a real danger.

Cows are also at risk during this snowy and frigid conditions. We’ve received one report of a rancher in De Queen who lost several calves due to the freezing temperatures. Cows in good body condition and have a good winter coat are fairly tolerant of cold weather, according to specialists with the Cooperative Extension Service. Unfortunately, many Arkansas cattle are at a disadvantage because they haven’t had time to adapt to extremely cold temperatures.

Thin cows, cows with short hair, lactating cows, and Brahman-influenced cattle breeds will have a little tougher time meeting the increased energy needs when it is cold and wet outside. There are certainly no snow days for ranchers, who have to be outside, no matter the weather.

Cows will eat more when they are really cold, so it’s vital to keep plenty of good quality hay in front of cattle at all times and supplement hay with grain or grain byproduct-type feeds. Ranchers may want to avoid using range meals at this time because the salt will make cows want to drink and the bitter cold is making a lot of water sources frozen over and less accessible.

Hopefully this winter weather event won’t last much longer. However, when things start to thaw out, there are still issues ranchers need to worry about.

When the temperature gets back to normal and the ground thaws, feeding areas may need to be relocated or ranchers may want to start unrolling hay to keep feeding sites distributed over larger areas to avoid creating deep mud tracks. Agriculture specialists in Arkansas caution that deep mud makes it difficult for cattle to get to hay and eat as much as they could otherwise.

Gov. Hutchinson discusses winter storms, COVID-19 restrictions during weekly update      2/17/21

Gov. Asa Hutchinson started off his weekly COVID-19 update discussing a different challenge currently facing Arkansas: some of the coldest weather and heaviest snowfall in the state’s recorded history.
Areas of the state have been slammed by winter weather over the past several days. As of Tuesday afternoon snowfall ranged from six inches for Southwest Arkansas to over eight inches in portions of central and northwest Arkansas. Temperatures have also dropped to some of the lowest levels in the state’s recorded history. The winter weather has made road conditions hazardous throughout much of the state. Weather forecasters predict more snow and frigid temperatures throughout the week.
In response Hutchinson announced the state is extending the National Guard’s deployment in Arkansas. The National Guard has been assisting in recent weeks with the state’s vaccine rollout but will now aid emergency responders as they deal with winter storm conditions.
Hutchinson also stressed the need for Arkansans to converse as much energy as possible. Energy providers in Arkansas performed several planned power outages across the state on Tuesday due to strain caused by the subfreezing temperatures. Hutchinson said the region is also experiencing a shortage in natural gas due to current high demand and wells made temporarily inoperable by subfreezing temperatures. Given more winter weather ahead, Hutchinson said energy conservation is critical right now in Arkansas.
Hutchinson then moved on the Arkansas Department of Health’s daily COVID-19 report. The state reported just 177 additional cases of the virus over the previous 24 ours. Hutchinson cautioned against too much optimism regarding that low figure, however. Due to the weather very few tests were performed across the state on Monday and Tuesday. Arkansas’ hospitalization is nonetheless continuing to decline, with just 638 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. Deaths increased by 12 on Tuesday for a total of 5,287. The Department of Health has recorded a total of more than 313,000 COVID-19 transmissions in Arkansas since the pandemic began. Of those around 299,000 have contracted the virus and since recovered.
Hutchinson then made two announcements regarding the state’s COVID-19 guidelines. The first is the lessening of restrictions in regards to large indoor events. Previously any indoor commercial event with the planned attendance of 10 or more people required state approval. That limit has now been raised to 100. Hutchinson added that spring school sports with two or more teams can now proceed after a plan has been submitted to the Arkansas Department of Health and approved.
Finally, Hutchinson reminded Arkansans they can view the latest road conditions in the state by visitingwww.idriveArkansas.com.

Weather Closing  – Updated 3:00 pm Tues 2/16/21

WEDNESDAY CLOSING & POSTPONEMENTS

De Queen Public Schools will switch to virtual learning and work packets for the remainder of the week due to the snow, the weather forecast, and the number of secondary roads in the district. Students were given directions for their assignments last week. If you have any questions, contact your student’s building administrator via email. Classes will resume at De Queen Public Schools on Monday the 22nd.
Ashdown Public Schools will pivot to a virtual day for students and staff on Wednesday and Thursday. All buildings on the Ashdown campus will remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday due to inclement weather.
The Dierks School District will remain closed Wednesday. Both elementary and high school students are to complete virtual assignments. Stay tuned to KDQN for further announcements for the rest of the week.
Horatio Schools will remain closed for onsite instruction Wednesday and Thursday, as Horatio will pivot to Digital Days and work remotely from home. Horatio students watch for contact from their teachers. Stay tuned to KDQN for an announcement regarding classes Friday.The Cossatot River School District will remain closed for the rest of the week. Wednesday through Friday will be virtual days for students and faculty. Onsite classes will resume at Cossatot River on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Foreman Schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, and will pivot to virtual learning. Students at Foreman are encouraged to access your virtual learning platform and stay current with your class work. A decision about Friday at Foreman will be announced on KDQN later.
UPDATE: The Tyson Foods plant in Grannis will not operate until Thursday morning, 2-18-21, on day shift. We will continue to monitor weather conditions to determine if further delays are needed.

County Trash Service will not run their scheduled route on Tuesday or Wednesday.

De Queen Health and Wellness Walk In Clinic will be open Tuesday until 2 pm. From 2 pm to 5 pm they will conduct Tele visits.

All Husqvarna facilities (L&G, HPN, and Warehouse) all shifts will not run operations on Wednesday.  They will continue to monitor the weather/road conditions and add updates daily.

De Queen City Hall will remain closed on Tuesday due to inclement weather. According to Mayor Jeff Brown, Monday and Tuesday sanitation routes in the City of De Queen will run on Wednesday of this week. The Tuesday night De Queen City Council meeting has been canceled. The next regularly scheduled De Queen City Council meeting will be Tuesday, March 2.

The Sevier County Courthouse will remain closed on Wednesday, according to County Judge Greg Ray. Judge Ray says that plans are to reopen the Courthouse on Wednesday.

The Sevier County Democratic Party meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday evening has been postponed until Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. in the County Courthouse.

De Queen Head Start and the Little Bitty City & Enrichment Center will be closed until Monday, Feb. 22.

Fun and Learnland Pre-School & Day Care and Sevier County Developmental Center on College Drive in De Queen will remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street in De Queen will remain closed on Tuesday.

The Minority Affairs Council meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen has been postponed. The meeting will be rescheduled for a later date.

First State Bank of De Queen will be open limited hours on Tuesday.  Drive through only will be open 10 am-2 pm.

Weather and Utility Announcements    02/16/21

Snow accumulation of six inches was measured as of 7:30 Monday morning at our studios. Arctic air will remain over the area through much of the week with some of the coldest readings we’ve experienced in many years through Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Dangerously low temperatures are expected through Tuesday with highs in the teens, and lows dropping into the single digits. Temperatures will moderate some Wednesday, but still remain well below normal. This is round one of an expected two rounds. The National Weather Service has issued another Winter Storm Warning from 6:00 P.M. Tuesday until 12 Noon on Thursday. Another strong system with the potential for up to EIGHT more inches of snow is expected starting Tuesday night, before we thaw out toward the weekend.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation says that snow and ice cover all roadways in southwest Arkansas. The Arkansas State Police says to please stay home. The State Police can’t stress enough how dangerous the roads are, saying it’s cold, windy, and being stranded on the side of the road is not where you want to be. Troopers are out and about, but will be taking it slowly in responding to calls for service. If you must get out on the roads, make sure you have blankets, water, and plenty of gas in your vehicle. Remember, for the latest road conditions, go to: www.idrivearkansas.com

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas Request Conservation of Electricity Usage   02/16/21

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas ask members to voluntarily limit use of electric service immediately and through midnight Tuesday in order to ensure that electric service is not interrupted.

Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas members are urged to reduce the use of electrical requirements by limiting use of non-essential electricity and appliances, especially electric water heaters, clothes dryers and dishwashers, and to turn heating thermostats to lower settings.

Due to the extremely cold weather and the unusually high requirement for electricity, electric cooperatives and other electric utilities across Arkansas and surrounding states have reached a point where electricity demand has nearly exceeded the capacity.

The cooperative emphasized that voluntary cooperation is essential. If voluntary reductions are not sufficient to maintain continuity of service, it may be necessary to begin interruption of electric service to specific areas for limited time periods. It is not presently anticipated that this type of rotating curtailments will be necessary.

Cooperative representatives are also directly contacting large and commercial users asking their cooperation as well.

The interconnections of electric systems frequently make it possible for one system to secure additional electricity from neighboring systems. However, the present extreme cold weather is widespread in the Arkansas region, making the strain on the electric grid much higher than normal. Thus, conservation of energy is important to help ensure continuous electric service.

Your local electric cooperative will continue to keep the public advised of further developments concerning voluntary reductions of electric power.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides various services to the distribution cooperatives; and AECC, a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to more than 500,000 members, or customers, in Arkansas and surrounding states.

For additional information, contact: Rob Roedel, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, 501.570.2296 or rroedel@aeci.com  www.ecark.org

Sevier County sees sizable decrease in unemployment rate in December    02/16/21

DE QUEEN – The latest economic data shows Sevier County’s unemployment rate experienced a significant decline in December.

The unemployment decrease follows the uptick experienced in November. That increase was the first in the county since the highs reported shortly after the pandemic hit Arkansas. Sevier County’s unemployment rate remains below the U.S. average and only slightly higher than the median in Arkansas.

The new data details Sevier County’s unemployment rate in December – the latest month for which data is available. The unemployment rate declined by more than a full point, from 5.6 in November to 4.4 in December. The overall unemployment in Arkansas for December was 4.4 percent and 6.3 percent across the nation.

Sevier County’s unemployment rate has more or less tacked higher but proportionately to the average rates in Arkansas and the country. The county’s unemployment rate reached a high shortly after the pandemic entered Arkansas but has fallen back to pre-pandemic levels since then.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sevier County currently ranks 45 out of 75 counties in the state for the lowest unemployment – a ranking which has just about stayed the same throughout 2020. With a 4.4 percent unemployment rate and out of a work force of nearly 7,500 in Sevier County – according to a 2018 government estimate – around 330 county residents are currently recorded as unemployed. The county’s highest unemployment rate was recorded nearly a decade ago, in January 2011 with 10.3 percent.

Of course, the rate does not reflect those who are under-employed – that is, they’re not receiving as much work as they would like. The figure does not include people who are currently unemployed but are no longer receiving benefits. The unemployment rate is not a perfect indicator of economic activity in an area but it does show that employment is likely flattening out to pre-pandemic levels among area residents.

Neighboring Little River County’s latest unemployment data shows the county is tied with Sevier County at 4.4 percent unemployment and ranked 45th in the state.

Howard County has edged up on the ranking list from 11th in November to ninth in December. That month’s unemployment rate fell to just 3.3 percent.

Statewide Madison County reported the lowest unemployment rate of just 2.8 percent. Chicot County continues to report the highest rate in the state with 8.4 percent.

FRIENDS Foundation of Sevier County holds first annual meeting    02/16/21

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

The first annual FRIENDS Foundation meeting took place on Friday, February 5, 2021, at 11:30 A.M. at the De Queen Herman Dierks Park community building. FRIENDS is a foundation that was established to help Sevier County grow through economic development projects and activities.

Twenty-eight people attended the meeting, and five attended via zoom.

The history of FRIENDS and the Sevier County Economic Development department was discussed during the meeting. Membership and funding progress toward the annual budget was also covered. The meeting concluded with the election of the 2021 FRIENDS Foundation Board of Directors.

The FRIENDS Foundation Board of Directors includes President Mike Branson, Vice-President Greg Revels, Secretary/Treasurer Jay Bunyard, Dr. Steve Cole, Jimmy Bristow, Angie Walker, and Ned Hendrix.

Jeff Tollett and Dion Cooper from REA were invited to the meeting as special guests to announce to the foundation members that REA has plans to enter broadband service in our community and answered questions about that process.

The FRIENDS Board of Directors had its first directors’ meeting on Friday, February 12, 2021, at UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus in the Weyerhaeuser room at 11:30 A.M. At the meeting, they met with a hotel developer to gain insights on hospitality conditions since the pandemic hit. They also discussed leadership training opportunities for our community to consider.

All individuals of Sevier County are encouraged and welcome to join FRIENDS. Membership for the year is granted with any donation of $100 or more.  For any questions about the Sevier County FRIENDS Foundation, please contact Sevier County Economic Development Director Tiffany Maurer at tmaurer@cccua.edu or 870-584-1184.

Learn to Burn seminar in Mena next month    02/16/21

MENA – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host a Learn to Burn session in Mena next month.

The program is described as an introduction to the safe and effective use of fire as a land management tool. Topics to be discussed include fire ecology, using fire to maintain wildlife habitat, writing a prescribed burn plan, liability and personal protective equipment and tools.

The session will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 31 at the Polk County Fairground commercial building in Mena.

The event is free to attend and lunch will be proved at no additional cost. Those interested must pre-register however at www.learn-to-burn-mena.eventbrite.com. That link is also featured on our website, www.kdqn.net

The Learn to Burn class is hosted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Quail Forever and the Arkansas Forestry Association.

River Valley Beef Cattle Conference going virtual in 2021    02/16/21

The River Valley Beef Cattle Conference, a mainstay event brought to Arkansas cattle producers by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is moving online for 2021.

The webinar is scheduled for Feb. 23, from 1-3:30 p.m. (CST). There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. To register, visit www.uaex.edu or find a direct link to the registration page on our website, www.kdqn.net

Bob Harper, staff chair for the Logan County Cooperative Extension office, said this year’s conference will present several unique discussions, some of which are tied directly to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on beef market demand.

Janeal Yancey, a program associate with the Division of Agriculture’s animal science program, will discuss the growing popularity of “freezer beef” among consumers. “Freezer beef” refers to the purchase of all or part of a live animal for slaughter, rather than purchasing finished beef cuts at a grocery store, for example.

Heidi Ward, extension veterinarian with the Division of Agriculture, will report on the state-wide anaplasmosis survey launched in late 2019. Anaplasmosis is a tick-borne pathogen that can be lethal to cattle and other animals.

Most of the conference’s presentations will be pre-recorded, but there will be a live Q&A session afterward, in which Harper will participate. Shane Gadberry, professor of ruminant nutrition for the Division of Agriculture, will moderate the conference, and a representative from Farm Credit of West Arkansas will deliver the conference’s introduction.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figure    02/16/21

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County saw a net decrease of eight yesterday, lowering the current total to 110. Overall cases grew by six to 2,540 while deaths remained at 28.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported four fewer active cases for a current total of 30. Total cases grew to 1,112 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported one additional active case on Monday for a current total of 87. Overall cases grew by six to 1,497. Deaths remain at 24.

Active cases in Polk County saw a single net increase yesterday for a current total of 87. Total cases rose eight by 1,844 while deaths remained at 61.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a net increase of three active cases on Monday for a current total of 272. Cumulative cases rose by six to 3,729. Deaths remain at 61.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 320 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to just over 313,000. Active cases saw a significant decline yesterday, continuing a consistent drop in the state’s active cases over the past couple of weeks. Active cases in Arkansas now number 10,494. Deaths saw a low increase yesterday, rising by 10 for a total of 5,275 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations saw a net decrease of 27 patients, leaving 642 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Local Snow Closings   02/15/2021   (UPDATED 11:30 AM)
CLOSED
Tyson – Nashville: First Shift Cancelled
CTS – County Trash Service
De Queen Health and Wellness
Lofton Family Clinic
Amedisys
De Queen Animal Clinic
McDonald’s
Smiles of Arkansas
Park Hill Preschool
Husqvarna – All facilities / all shifts will remain closed today, 02-15-21.  As we continue to monitor the weather, we will make another announcement at 5:00 PM this afternoon concerning operations for Tuesday, 02-16-21.
Pilgrim’s – De Queen: No First or Second Shifts today (Mon) . As of now, Pilgrims is planning to resume normal operations on Tuesday. Stay tuned to KDQN for further updates
OPEN
Harris Drug open till Noon Today (02/15/2021)
Danson USA announces new facility in Hope; 50-100 jobs expected over next three years    02/12/2021
HOPE – Some good economic news is reaching Southwest Arkansas with the announcement this week of a new manufacturing and distribution center in Hope.
Dansons USA announced this week it will open the country’s largest barbecue wood pellet mill and distribution center in Hope. The facility, which is approximately 335,000 square feet and sits on 143 acres, will initially start with three pelleters and a 100,000-ton capacity, but has the infrastructure for eventual expansion to 300,000 tons and nine pelleters. The site will also serve as a distribution center for wood pellets as well as wood pellet barbecue grills and will be responsible for creating approximately 50-100 new jobs in the next three years.
In a press release, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Dansons is setting the barbecue world on fire with its high-quality wood pellets and top-flight pellet grills. He added that Dansons and Hope are a perfect match. Dansons and Arkansas will set the standard for barbecue wood pellets, and soon grill masters will be serving barbecue with the distinctive taste of Arkansas.

The site, which will be the crown jewel of Danson’s pellet creation and distribution operation, is a former Georgia-Pacific facility and has a strong infrastructure for wood processing. The town of Hope also has extensive fiber processing abilities, with several sawmills, paper mills and particle board plants already in the area. For Dansons, the pellets will be manufactured for the Pit Boss® Grills and Louisiana Grills® brands and are a 100% all-natural product that are free of artificial flavors, spray scents and binders.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said Dansons is renowned for their exceptional products and community involvement. He added the company is sure to have a huge impact on economic and community development in Southwest Arkansas.

Arctic air expected to bring freezing temps, snow to Southwest Arkansas    02/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Some seriously cold and potentially nasty winter weather is expected to arrive in Sevier County and the surrounding area this weekend and into next week.

Temperatures are predicted to drop considerably over the next several days and well below freezing starting Saturday night. That evening the low is expected to be around 20 degrees. That’s going to feel rather warm, however, when considering Sunday night’s low is 15 and Monday night’s is a bone-chilling seven degrees. Monday’s high isn’t much better at just 22 degrees.

Winter precipitation chances increase into the weekend as well, with a 20 percent chance of snow Saturday, 60 percent Sunday night and 70 percent chance of winter precipitation on Monday. Friday will be cold but clear, according to the National Weather Service.

Looking ahead into next week, the temperatures raise just slightly on Tuesday and Wednesday with additional chances for snow mid-week.

Central and Northeast Arkansas have so far seen the worst of the artic air in the state, with a ice storm warning issued Wednesday night.

A hazardous weather outlook on the National Weather Service warns of the affects of the severe cold and winter precipitation in the days ahead. The outlook includes southwest Arkansas, southeast Oklahoma and northeast Texas. Light icing accumulations will be possible on elevated objects such as bridges and overpasses, trees and power lines.

A mixture of light snow and sleet will be possible Saturday for portions of Southeast Oklahoma, extreme Northeast Texas, and Southwest Arkansas as a weak upper level disturbance moves through these areas. However, any snow or ice accumulations are expected to remain light.

Very cold temperatures are expected to settle south into the area this weekend. Shortly after it does so, a significant winter storm is expected to impact the region late Sunday night through Monday night, bringing the potential for significant accumulations of snow to the area. While it remains too early to determine snow amounts from this event, please stay tuned to the latest forecasts from your Number one Country and the National Weather Service concerning the potential for winter weather in the days ahead.

SAU announces Fall 2020 graduates    02/12/2021

Arkansas State University has listed students who completed degree requirements to graduate at its recent Fall Commencement ceremony.

SAU students from the listening area who received degrees included:

-Nancy Ann Tollett of De Queen with a Master of Science in Early Childhood Services.

-Caitlin Collins of De Queen who received her Master of Science degree in Sport Administration.

-and Stacy Dowdy of Nashville who received a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Nursing.

UAEX offering “Grow Your Own Groceries” seminars    02/12/2021

One trend that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued into 2021 is a greater interest among Arkansans in growing their own food.

In response to frequently-asked gardening questions, the Cooperative Extension Service has developed a series of online “Grow Your Own Groceries” presentations to share agents’ expertise in growing and preparing fruits and vegetables.

The one-hour live presentations are offered at noon on the first and third Thursday of each month. Each presentation highlights a different fruit or vegetable crop.

“We’re seeing a lot more people interested in edible gardening,” said Krista Quinn, agriculture agent with the Faulkner County Extension office, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “People who are interested in landscaping and flowers are getting into growing their own food, and we also are seeing people who have no experience gardening suddenly have an interest. I think it’s great. Part of the reason we wanted to do this program is to give people as much information as we can to help them be successful — whether they have a small suburban garden or a larger traditional garden.”

In each class, an agriculture agent or specialist will discuss selecting varieties, growing methods, and dealing with common pests and problems. Then, a family and consumer science agent will demonstrate how to prepare the produce in a healthy recipe. Agents and specialists from Benton, Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Lonoke, Miller, Pulaski, Washington, White and Woodruff counties are involved in the series.

Upcoming classes include:

Feb. 18 — Potatoes

March 4 — Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cabbage

March 18 — Salad greens

April 1 — Strawberries

April 15 — Herbs

May 6 — Cucumbers

“Being able to concentrate on a single crop at a time is a nice opportunity to focus on all the details of that crop — everything from selecting varieties that do well in Arkansas to common problems that gardeners encounter,” Quinn said.

There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. The class schedule and registration are available at www.uaex.edu/grow-groceries.

This year’s series began in January with classes about spring peas and blackberries. More than 500 people from Arkansas and neighboring states registered for each of those classes.

Most sessions include a 45-minute presentation with a question-and-answer. After the presentation, participants will receive relevant fact sheets on the fruit or vegetable and the featured recipe.

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.edu.

Arkansas House of Representatives update    02/12/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught, whose district encompasses Little River County and most of Sevier, has provided another update regarding the latest developments in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, the House passed several bills including the following:

HB1118, which allows the cottage food industry to sell goods online.

HB1067 to allow UAMS to create a breast milk bank and establish an account to fund the program.

SB32, which allows liquor stores, micro-brewery restaurants, and small breweries to deliver alcoholic beverages in wet counties. Deliveries are currently allowed under an executive order. This bill will allow the practice to continue once the health emergency order expires.

SB66 was also advanced and allows the tuition–free benefit for soldiers and airmen of the Arkansas National Guard to apply for programs of study in which courses are taken exclusively online.

SB173 adds food processing or manufacturing facilities and correctional facilities to the list of critical infrastructures in which unmanned aircraft (drones) are prohibited.

Finally, SB105. This bill amends the marriage eligibility requirement from 2 years to 1 year for survivors benefits under the Arkansas State Highway Employees’ Retirement System.

Due to the expected inclement weather, the House will not convene again until Monday at 1 p.m.

Attorney General warns of Valentine Day-related scams    02/12/2021

With Valentine’s Day approaching, law enforcement agencies in Arkansas are reminding the public it is important to remain cautious of suitors trying to gain access to your personal information online. Con artists are getting more creative now than ever by targeting those Arkansans looking for love. Scammers will befriend someone online, slowly gaining trust and access to more personal information, including financial information, birthdates, and social security numbers. This is commonly referred to as a “sweetheart scam.”

Law enforcement agencies warm scammers will use whatever means they can to steal from Arkansans. Guard your heart, bank account and personal information from cons trying to become friends to steal your hard-earned money.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge offered the following advice to help prevent more victims of the sweetheart scam:

-Share your hopes and dreams, not your salary and bank information. Be honest about your expectations, not your pin number. Reveal your hobbies, not your passwords.

-Plan to meet in public, not in a private, secluded or an unknown place. Talk about your favorite vacations, not when you’re leaving town. Hope for the best in others, but don’t ignore red flags.

The Attorney General’s Office provides a tip card for consumers, how to spot phishing scams, information for parents to spot cyberbullying and tips on internet safety.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Attorney General’s Office at consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    02/12/2021

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases in Sevier County saw a net increase of nine yesterday, raising the current total to 132. Overall cases grew by 18 to 2,510 while deaths remained at 27.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported three fewer active cases for a current total of 37. Total cases grew to 1,102 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported six fewer active cases on Thursday for a current total of 84. Overall cases grew by six to 1,470. Deaths remain at 24.

Polk County reported an additional death yesterday, raising the death toll from the virus in Polk County to 59 since the pandemic began. Active cases increased by eight for a current total of 102. Overall cases grew by 17 to 1,814.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County also reported an additional death from COVID-19 on Thursday for a total of 60. Active cases saw a slight decrease, falling by five to 269 currently confirmed and probable active cases. Overall cases grew by 14 to 3,647.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just over 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The cumulative statewide total now totals around 311,000 since the start of the pandemic. Active cases saw another day of consecutive decline, falling by 672 for a current total of 13,500 active cases. Deaths increased by 25 to 5,199.

Horatio School Board approves 2021-2022 calendar        02/12/21

Horatio Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, February 8, 2021 in the high school cafeteria.
Nikki Evans, business teacher, presented the internship program offered at high school to board members and patrons.
Board members approved 2021-22 school calendar with first day of school being August 16, 2021 and last day would be May 25, 2022. They also approved cheerleading constitution revisions, 2022-23 proposed budget. The board voted to petition City of Horatio for Lane Fields to be annexed into city limits.
Board members voted to renew 2021-22 contracts for principals, Curtis Black and Gayla Youngblood, hired Magan Dorsey, 2021-22 Jr High Cheerleader coach, and accepted resignation from art teacher, Jennifer West, effective at end of 2020-21 contract.
The board approved financial statements, monthly bills, and minutes of January 11, 2021 meeting as presented.
Superintendent, Zane Vanderpool reported on ESSER II funds and plans for 70-80% to be spent on student support. Principals, Curtis Black and Gayla Youngblood gave reports on interim tests and upcoming events.

Arctic front to bring sub-freezing temps, snow to Southwest Arkansas in coming days    02/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Some seriously cold and potentially nasty winter weather is expected to arrive in Sevier County and the surrounding area this weekend and into next week.
Temperatures are predicted to drop considerably over the next several days and well below freezing starting Saturday night. That evening the low is expected to be around 20 degrees. That’s going to feel rather warm, however, when considering Sunday night’s low is 15 and Monday night’s is a bone-chilling eight degrees. Monday’s high isn’t much better at just 23 degrees.
Winter precipitation chances increase into the weekend as well, with a 20 percent chance of snow Saturday, 50 percent Sunday night and 80 percent chance of winter precipitation on Monday. Friday will be cold but clear, according to the National Weather Service.
Looking ahead into next week, the temperatures raise just slightly on Tuesday and Wednesday with additional chances for snow mid-week.
Central and Northeast Arkansas have so far seen the worst of the artic air in the state, with a ice storm warning issued Wednesday night.
A hazardous weather outlook on the National Weather Service warns of the affects of the severe cold and winter precipitation in the days ahead. The outlook includes southwest Arkansas, southeast Oklahoma and northeast Texas.
According to the National Weather Service, a wave of light freezing rain will be possible late Thursday night through Friday morning across portions of Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas, before temperatures climb back above freezing by midday, as the precipitation diminishes. Light icing accumulations will be possible on elevated objects such as bridges and overpasses, trees and power lines.A mixture of light snow and sleet will be possible Saturday for portions of Southeast Oklahoma, extreme Northeast Texas, and Southwest Arkansas as a weak upper level disturbance moves through these areas. However, any snow or ice accumulations are expected to remain light.

Very cold temperatures are expected to settle south into the area this weekend. Shortly after it does so, a significant winter storm is expected to impact the region late Sunday night through Monday night, bringing the potential for significant accumulations of snow to the area. While it remains too early to determine snow amounts from this event, please stay tuned to the latest forecasts from your Number one Country and the National Weather Service concerning the potential for winter weather tonight in the days ahead.

Newly-announced Minority Affairs Council announces community mural project     02/11/2021
The newly-formed Minority Affairs Council (MAC) met last week and announced their first project: covering up graffiti recently painted on a local business in De Queen with a community-inspired mural. The group plans to continue discussions on the project at its next meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18 starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen.

DE QUEEN – A team of area organizers have launched an inclusive local group and announced plans for a community mural as their first project in De Queen this month.
The new Non-Profit organization is aiming to support the minority populations of Sevier County and unite the communities of Southwest Arkansas as a whole. After their most recent meeting held in downtown De Queen last Thursday, leaders conducted a poll and voted “Minority Affairs Council” as the name for the group.

The first community goal carried out by the Minority Affairs Council will be to cover up graffiti markings with a “Welcome to De Queen Mural” on a storage unit business recently vandalized on the Eastern edge of town. MAC has received permission from the business owner to paint the building’s exterior and the group is in the process of commissioning a team of artists to bring the work of community art to life.

In addition to erasing the act of vandalism, the group also envisions the future mural to serve as a tourist attraction for visitors driving through on U.S Highway 70. Ideally, travelers can take a family photo at the “Welcome to De Queen Mural” and stop for coffee and food at nearby restaurants on the way through town.

The Minority Affairs Council also hopes to use the mural as an opportunity to promote the diverse cultures of Sevier County. The group discussed possibly painting leaders of De Queen’s past or the word “Welcome” in different languages on the piece. This decision, along with selecting a Board of Directors and finalizing regular meeting places and times are on the agenda for the next meeting on Feb. 18.

Other goals for the group this year include planning an annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, organizing authentic Hispanic Heritage month events and a Juneteenth celebration to embrace African-American culture. The Minority Affairs Council also hopes to support residents in pursuing local government, build a multi-cultural center and African-American museum in the future.

To fund the community mural, a series of fundraisers will be held to help cover the costs for supplies and provide artist compensation.

People of all ages, ethnicities, religions and cultures are welcome to be involved in the Minority Affairs Council. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Party Room Candela in Downtown De Queen.

All meetings can also be viewed on Facebook live and in-person meeting attendees are encouraged to wear masks and social distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For questions or more information, email DQunity@gmail.com

Ashdown Public Schools announces 2020-2021 Teachers of the Year    02/11/2021

Ashdown Public Schools announced this week its recipients of the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year awards. From left to right are Ashdown Junior High School Teacher of the Year Jamie Flemings, Ashdown Elementary School Teacher of the Year Shawnda Chester and Ashdown High School Teacher of the Year Melanie McGraw. (Photo submitted by Ronda Pounds of Ashdown Public Schools)

ASHDOWN – Ashdown Public Schools has announced its three Teachers of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year.

On, Monday Feb. 8, the Ashdown School Board announced three teachers from Ashdown Public Schools were recognized as being the Teachers of the Year for their respective campuses.  Shawnda Chester was selected by her peers as Teacher of the Year (TOY) for Ashdown Elementary, Jamie Fleming for Ashdown Junior High School, and Melanie McGraw for Ashdown High School.

Shawnda Chester was selected as the Ashdown School District Teacher of the Year.  After the announcement, she graciously thanked the board, administration and her fellow TOY winners for all of their support over the years and stated how honored she was to be selected along with Ms. Fleming and Mrs. McGraw.

Ms. Chester started her employment with Ashdown Public Schools as a school bus driver in 2004. Since then she has served as a substitute teacher at all campuses, 9th grade math remediation teacher, and computer technician all while working her way through college.  She earned her Associate’s Degree in General Studies from UA Cossatot in 2007 and earned her Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Arts and Sciences from Texas A&M University-Texarkana in 2017.  She started her first year at L.F. Henderson for the 2017-2018 school year as a fifth grade math and science teacher and continued on with her education.  She earned her Master’s of Arts in Teaching Degree from Southern Arkansas University in August 2018.  This is her fourth year to teach fifth grade math and her seventeenth year to drive a bus for Ashdown Public Schools.  District officials say she has a passion for sharing knowledge and for helping students build a desire to push through adversities one step at a time.

Jamie Fleming, the AJHS TOY, is a 2008 graduate of Ashdown High School and currently in her ninth year of teaching.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Arkansas State University and holds several teaching certifications. She previously taught theatre at North Heights Junior High and was a high school sports coach. Ms. Fleming said she has long held a passion for history since watching the History Channel as a child with her family. That passion extends into the class room with Ms. Fleming striving to share an understanding of history and empathy for humankind with her students.

Melanie Rice McGraw, the AHS TOY, graduated from Ashdown High School in 1990.  After graduation from AHS, she graduated from East Texas State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and has her Master’s of Science in Education in Educational Leadership from Arkansas State University.  Mrs. McGraw has taught Art for 16 years in the district along with teaching EAST.  According to AHS Principal Kay York noted her Mrs. McGraw’s art classes are so popular they are attended at maximum capacity each year. Mrs. McGraw is married to Fred McGraw and together they have three sons and a granddaughter.

Ashdown Superintendent Casey Nichols said he and the entire district could not be prouder of this group of teachers.  He said these teachers exemplify the educator’s drive to go above and beyond each and every day to educate students.

Power companies warn of high heating bills as temps drop, offer tips on reducing costs    02/11/2021

DE QUEEN – With the colder weather moving in, area power companies are offering a few tips to help with the high heating bills that come with the low temps.

Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative said its offices are already receiving extremely high call volumes from customers questioning their bills after last month’s cold stretch in the cooperative’s five-county service area.

When cold snaps occur – and we’re in for a very cold snap over the next few days – HVAC systems and water heaters are required to work much harder. The constant cycling on and off makes member usage much higher, Rich Mountain Electric stated. Other sources of heat such as space heaters also contribute to higher electric bills.

To ease the stress of higher bills, consumers should monitor their usage and especially make sure any emergency heating settings on their thermostats are not turned on. Consumers should also be aware that space heaters and similar auxiliary heating devices are generally highly inefficient.

Consumers who heat their home with a heat pump should check their thermostat and ensure it is set to HEAT and not the emergency or auxiliary heat setting. Accidentally setting your thermostat to emergency or auxiliary heating settings is an easy and costly mistake to make during cold weather. Don’t worry, modern heat pumps are designed to keep you warm all the way down into single-digit temperatures automatically. If your heat pump is malfunctioning, contact your local service company and only use emergency heat temporarily until your unit is repaired.

Obviously, the amount your HVAC system works to heat your home depends on the difference between the outdoor temperature and desired indoor temperature. The greater the difference, the harder the system must work.

Almond Creek bridge in Sevier County closed for replacement    02/11/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County officials are informing the public of a bridge closure beginning this week.

The Almond Bridge over Almond Creek on Ladd Bridge Road was closed Wednesday and will remain closed until further notice. The closure is being held to allow county crews to begin the process of placing Almond Bridge. A detour around the bridge will be available during the bridge closure.

Gillham VFD hosting rifle fundraiser     02/11/2021

GILLHAM – The Gillham Volunteer Fire Department is currently hosting a gun raffle fundraiser for a Thompson Center 6.5 Creedmoor bolt-action rifle. The rifle will include a vortex scope and four boxes of ammo.

Chances are $10 each or six for $50. The drawing will be held on May 5. The winner will not have to be present but must be at least 18 years of age and be able to pass a background check.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to purchase equipment for the Gillham Volunteer Fire Department. Contact Gillham Fire Chief Mark Rosson at (870) 584-9434 or any other Gillham firefighter to purchase tickets.

Sevier County Libraries again returning to curbside-only services     02/11/2021
DE QUEEN – After recently reopening its lobbies to the public, the Sevier County Library System is again limiting access to its libraries. Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher cited the rising number of active COVID-19 cases in the community. All four Sevier County Libraries will return to curbside serve for the time being.
Fisher said the decision was made for the safety of the librarians and community patrons. Sevier County libraries continue to offer their usual services during regular hours but curbside only. For more information contact your local library or visit www.seviercountylibrary.com
ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Sevier County reports second death in as many days     02/11/2021
DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:
Yesterday Sevier County reported its second death from COVID-19 in as many days. The additional death raises the death toll from the virus in Sevier County to 27 since the pandemic began. Active cases did see a slight decrease, falling by four to 123 currently. Overall cases grew by eight to 2,492.
In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two fewer active cases for a currently total of 40. Total cases grew to 1,097 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported 11 fewer active cases on Wednesday for a current total of 90. Overall cases grew by four to 1,464 while deaths remained at 40.

Polk County reported seven fewer active cases yesterday for a current total of 94. Overall cases rose by 12 to 1,797 while deaths remain at 58.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported a net increase of four active COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the total to 274. Cumulative cases grew by 20 to 3,633. Deaths remain at 59.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just shy of 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The cumulative statewide total now totals nearly 310,000 since the start of the pandemic. Active cases saw another day of consecutive decline, falling by 708 for a current total of 14,190 active cases. Deaths increased by 26 to 5,174 while hospitalizations fell by 40 to leave 735 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

De Queen Public Schools seeking community partnerships for artificial turf field    
 02/10/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School District is reaching out to potential corporate sponsors to help bring an artificial field turf to the athletic field at Leopard Stadium.
District officials say artificial field turf possesses numerous advantages over a natural grass field. Those benefits include an improvement to athletic safety as shock pads are placed under the field to help reduce concussions. Maintenance and upkeep costs are drastically reduced. Artificial field turf also increases durability in all weather conditions – a major benefit given natural fields are prone holding water and quicker wear and tear during use. District officials also say an artificial field would bring an improvement to the appearance of Leopard Stadium.
Currently, Leopard Stadium is host to numerous athletic activities including football, track, soccer and city-league peewee football. The field is also host to the district’s graduation ceremonies and a number of community-related events. An artificial turf field, say De Queen officials, would benefit not just student-athletes and coaches but the community as a whole.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said it’s a project the district hopes to accomplish with help from the community.

The Athletic Department is offering different levels of sponsorship, which will come with different benefit packages, for prospective partners to consider. These sponsorship packages may be paid out as one large payment or can be divided out over a period of up to ten years. The main benefit for partners in this project will be the advertising that they receive, not only on the field/sideline as a logo, but also on the new 17ft x 31ft video/scoreboard that is currently being installed at Leopard Stadium.
Sanders said De Queen is one of only three districts in Arkansas at the 5A level that currently does not have artificial field turf. By partnering with local businesses and the community, the district hopes to have the opportunity to provide its students with the same type of facility that so many other students and communities in Arkansas already enjoy and are proud of. De Queen Public Schools Athletic Director Lance Pinkerton said the artificial turf project would be an improvement that benefits the entire community. He added this is an opportunity for Leopard supporters to be a part of something tremendous for De Queen’s kids, its school, and the overall community.
Sanders said reception to the proposed turf project has been met with enthusiasm.

If you or your business is interested in learning more about becoming a Leopard Turf Sponsor, contact Lance Pinkerton or Brad Chesshir at the De Queen Administration Office at (870)-584-4312.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, area schools are reaching out to parents and guardians to inform them of a few new guidelines in place this year.
Rep. DeAnn Vaught shares state legislative update     02/10/2021
State Representative DeAnn Vaught is sharing another update related to the latest developments in the Arkansas House of Representatives.
Today is the last day members can file proposed Constitutional Amendments for the November 2022 General ElectionThe General Assembly can refer a maximum of three amendments for that election.The House State Agencies committee will review and vote on proposed amendments later in the session.

Meanwhile, the House passed several bills yesterday afternoon, including the following:

HB1110, which requires a state entity to report security breaches to the legislative auditor. If the auditor believes the security incident significantly compromises citizens’ data or creates significant concern, the auditor will notify the Governor and legislative leaders.

HB1265 amends the law concerning the unlawful passing of a school bus. It states drivers must come to a complete stop no less than 30 feet from the bus when it stops to load or unload passengers. This 30 feet perimeter would apply to public roads, private or public property open to the general public, and any driveway or parking lot belonging to a public school.

HB1017 states that Arkansas would permanently adopt Daylight Saving Time when the federal government allows states to do so and when surrounding states declare their intent to do so.

HB1359 allows the Division of Children and Family Services to release certain information regarding foster children, such as information needed for tax filing purposes. 

HB1176 would ensure that Arkansas Medicaid reimbursements for telemedicine of certain behavioral and mental health services continue after the health emergency ends.

HB1116 if passed would establish “Simon’s Law,” named after a Missouri child whose death led to similar laws being passed in several states. It would require health care professionals to obtain at least one parent’s consent before placing a “do not resuscitate” order for a child.

HB1029 adds former representative and civil rights attorney John Walker to the list of Arkansas civil rights leaders to be included in teaching materials regarding African-American history in public schools.

The House will convene on Wednesday at 1 pm.

Valentine Day guidelines at Horatio, De Queen Public Schools     02/10/2021

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary School is asking Valentine Day gifts from parents or guardians and from flower shops to be delivered to the school on Thursday, Feb. 11 between 3:30-5 p.m. Staff will be on hand to accept deliveries. Valentine parties will be held on Friday, Feb. 12 at 1:30 p.m. Parents and guardians will not be allowed to attend. Studentsa re not allowed to bring food or snacks from home, but snacks will be provided in each classroom. Students are not allowed to bring individual valentines for their classmates. In addition, Horatio Elementary is not allowing large mylar balloons to be delivered.

For Horatio High School, Valentine Day gifts need to be delivered to the school beginning Feb. 11 during school hours and no later than noon on Friday, Feb. 12. No late gifts will be accepted nor will balloons. All gifts must be labeled with the students name and grade.

Guidelines are much similar at De Queen Public Schools this year. Those guidelines include encouraging parents and guardians to deliver their Valentine Day gifts on Thursday, Feb. 11 from 3:30-5 p.m. District staff will be on hand to accept the deliveries during this time period and will then distribute them on Friday. Flower shops are also being asked to deliver flowers and gifts during this 3:30-5 p.m. time slot on Thursday, Feb. 11. No outside food will be accepted.

School officials with both De Queen and Horatio School Districts expressed their gratitude for the continued patience and support from parents, the community and school staff during this difficult school year.

Blanket giveaway program in Broken Bow     02/10/2021

BROKEN BOW, Okla. – House Upon a Rock in Broken Bow is now accepting blanket donations for those in need. Organizers say with colder weather moving in this week, it’s more important than ever to ensure local folks in need are helped kept warm through these donations. Anyone with older blankets (in reasonably good condition) are asked to drop them off and pass them along to a good cause. Blankets can be dropped off at either House Upon a Rock located at 203 Main St or the Broken Bow Chamber Office located at 113 W MLK Drive.

Organizers say they are also dealing with a heavy litter problem on the highway between Broken Bow and Idabel. They say it’s vital to keep local communities looking clean and beautiful, with many visitors year-round passing through the area. Organizers ask that, if you are as concerned about the issue as they are, reach out to the local ODOT office and ask for inmate assistance for highway cleanliness. There are programs in place that allow inmates to assist with picking up trash and it just takes a call for this to happen and be scheduled. The Idabel ODOT office phone number is 580-286-2524.

Gov. Hutchinson provides weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update     02/10/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Arkansas health officials reported just shy of 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday while also noting a consistent decline in the state’s active caseload.
During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state marked a one-day growth of 1,475 cases on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to nearly 309,000. Active cases saw another consecutive day of decline with 422 less. Currently the state is reporting just under 15,000 active cases in Arkansas. Deaths increased by 42, raising the death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas to 5,148 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations decreased by two, leaving 775 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.
In his vaccine report, Hutchinson said the state has so far received more than 651,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Of those around 413,000 have been given, or around 63 percent. Hutchinson then stated the state was prepared to follow possible new guidance from the CDC recommending second doses be reallocated if individuals do not return for their required booster shot. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a second follow-up shot three to four weeks after the initial dose. Hutchinson urged those who have received their first dose to follow up on their second.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero shared a positive milestone during the conference with Arkansas’ COVID-19 testing positivity rate falling below 10 percent for the first time in months. The 10 percent marker is the goal set forth by the CDC in terms of reducing positivity rates of the virus.
In review, the state reported 1,475 new cases of the virus for a cumulative total of nearly 309,000 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths increased by 42 to 5,148 while hospitalizations fell by two to 775. Total recoveries numbered around 290,000 as of Tuesday. Active cases fell by 422 for a current total of 14,898.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     02/10/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Sevier County reported an additional death due to COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the death toll in the county to 26 since the pandemic began. Active cases also saw a sizable increase yesterday, increasing by 12 to 127. Overall cases grew by 20 to 2,484 since the pandemic began.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported no change in its active COVID-19 caseload, which remains at 42. Total cases grew by seven to 1,093 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported two additional active cases yesterday for a current total of 101. Overall cases grew by 15 to 1,460 while deaths remain at 24.

Polk County reported two fewer active cases yesterday for a current total of 101. Overall cases rose by 16 to 1,785 while deaths remain at 58.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 14 fewer active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, lowering the total to 270. Cumulative cases grew to 3,613. Deaths remain at 59.

Kirby Adcock named to Leopards football coaching staff      02/09/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Kirby Adcock, a Nashville native and former Arkansas Razorbacks offensive lineman, will join the De Queen Leopards football coaching staff this year. (Photo courtesy of UofA Fayetteville)

The De Queen Leopards are set to receive an all-star addition to their football coaching staff with a new hire this summer.

The De Queen School District announced it will hire Kirby Adcock as an assistant football coach and history teacher. The decision to hire Adcock was made during the De Queen School Board’s meeting Monday night.
The six-foot, eight-inch, 289-pound Nashville native was a redshirt freshman for the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2017. He served as offensive lineman for the Razorbacks in his freshman and sophomore years. Adcock was one of the top recruited offensive linemen after graduating high school. He was also named to the fall SEC academic honor roll both seasons he played.
Superintendent Jason Sanders said Adcock’s addition to the Leopards football coaching staff will be a huge boost for the team.

On the district’s Facebook page, Head Coach Brad Chesshir said Adcock will bring youth and high energy to the Leopard’s football program. He added that Adcock will be a big asset to the coaching staff as they continue to revitalize the football program.
Adcock is set to officially start this July.
After heated meeting, Sevier County Quorum Court sets Feb. 16 meeting to finalize alcohol ordinances      02/09/2021
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

During a well-attended and contentious meeting Monday afternoon, the Sevier County Quorum Court declined again to advance regulations related to alcohol sales in the county but voted to make its final decision next week in special session.
During a discussion that lasted over an hour – and included numerous interruptions, questions and misunderstandings – justices of the peace debated two ordinances needed to allow alcohol sales to begin within the unincorporated areas of Sevier County. Although Sevier County residents voted overwhelmingly to go wet last year, Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control nonetheless requires county and city governments to pass local ordinances regulating those sales. Despite the legalization of alcohol sales in Sevier County last November, the quorum court has so far declined to advance those needed ordinances as they continue to debate the specifics of those ordinances’ regulations.
In specific, the first of those two ordinances must address the permitting process for businesses and restaurants wishing to sell or serve alcohol in Sevier County. The second would either allow or prohibit restaurants or other businesses from selling liquor by the glass for onsite consumption – as opposed to packaged sales off-site consumption.
The meeting was unusual for the number of county residents in attendance. Several dozen people – mostly local business owners – showed up to press the quorum court to act quickly on voting in those ordinances. Several business owners spoke to the delay and how it’s preventing local businesses from beginning the permitting process to sell or serve alcohol within areas of the county not governed by municipal authorities. So far only De Queen and Lockesburg have passed their own ordinances to allow that process to begin. Ordinances passed by the quorum court, however, would only affect the unincorporated parts of the county.
Several business owners in attendance at yesterday’s meeting also expressed their opposition to the quorum court advancing any prohibitively expensive permit fees or other revenue collection mechanisms such as a percentage collected from yearly gross revenue. Sevier County resident and business owner Monica Pearce said local small businesses are struggling enough under the pandemic without the burden of more permitting fees or revenue collections. In an interview during a break in yesterday’s meeting, Pearce said it’s vital local restaurants also have the option to sell mixed drinks and other strong spirits under a county ordinance.

The quorum court itself was split in opinion about the pace of passing alcohol-related ordinances. Justices Angie Walker, Greg Wright and David Wright all expressed their desire to see the ordinances pass at yesterday’s meeting while Justices Roxie Stephens and Earl Battiest cautioned for more time to explore the issue. In a five-to-two vote, the quorum court decided to meet on Tuesday, Feb. 16 to vote on those ordinances. The delay was met with audible disappointment by those in attendance but supportive justices urged a few more days were needed to formulate the final ordinances. Justice Angie Walker said she plans to advance an ordinance without any tax increase and with only a $25 annual permit fee.

Justice Earl Battiest did not express direct opposition to any alcohol-related ordinance but said he would like to see the permit fee remain at $250. This is the fee set for decades for private club applications in Sevier County.
There was no further mention of additional revenue collections on alcohol sales during the meeting. Pearce warned justices that additional collections could raise the cost of alcohol to a prohibitive level. High taxes would only force people to travel a little further down the road to make their purchases, she added.
James Babb, who manages property for 10 businesses in Sevier County, said he sees the struggles every day faced by local small businesses. He said three of those 10 businesses may be shuttered within the next few months due to the economic challenges they are facing. More fees and revenue collections, he added, will only add to their burden. Babb said even many local small businesses not planning to serve or sell alcohol nonetheless still see a wet Sevier County as an economic opportunity and alcohol sales as “the light at the end of the tunnel.”
After yesterday’s meeting, the quorum court stated it will meet to make its final decision next Tuesday, Feb. 16. The meeting will be held at 2 p.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse and is open to the public.
Gage Woods named 2020 recipient of De Queen Rotary Cup      02/09/2021
Gage Woods was awarded the Rotary Cup by the De Queen Rotary Club during an awards ceremony on Monday.
The award is presented annually to outstanding Leopard football players who excel both on and off the field. Gage served as the Leopards quarterback on offense and linebacker on defense for the 2020 football season.
He is the 86th recipient of the Rotary Club since its inauguration in 1936.
Gage is the son of Jeff and Allison Woods. Pictured presenting the award is De Queen Rotarian Jay Bunyard.

DE QUEEN – The Rotary Cup has been presented annually to the Most Valuable Senior on the De Queen Leopards football team since 1936. Past winners of the award represent top students and athletes spanning over eight decades at De Queen High School. 

At Monday’s noon meeting of the club, “The Voice of the Leopards” Jay Bunyard presented the award for the 2020 season to quarterback-linebacker Gage Woods. He’s the 86thall-time recipient of the Rotary Cup. 
A co-captain on the team in 2020, Gage rushed for four touchdowns, and passed for 277 yards and a score during his career. On defense, Gage was credited with 54 tackles, four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection during his Leopards career. He was second team All-Conference as a senior. On the baseball diamond, Gage has hit .270 with five doubles, a triple, 20 runs batted in, and two game winning hits. On the pitching mound, his earned run average is a sparkling 2.12, and he’s been credited with three wins, two saves, and has struck out 29 batters. 

Woods also excels in the classroom with a 3.07 grade point average. He’s active in his church, the De Queen Church of Christ, where he has assisted with the food pantry, and helped prepare gift bags to deliver to nursing home residents. The son of Jeff and Allison Woods, Gage plans to attend U of A Cossatot after graduation in May, and then after two years, transfer to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where he plans to obtain a degree in education. 

During the awards presentation, Leopards Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir spoke of Gage’s strength on the football field and offered some works of encouragement for the future. 

Besides performance on the football field, The Rotary Cup is also based on character, leadership, scholastic achievements, and participation in other school activities. 

Suffering test scores among virtual students prompts De Queen School District to end remote learning this fall     02/09/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

COVID-19 has caused suffering on many levels of our society over the past year, from the obvious public health risks to the less noticeable economic and emotional tolls generated by the pandemic and the response to it. The De Queen School District says education has not escaped the consequences of COVID-19 either.

The district made several announcements during Monday night’s school board meeting to address the declining performance of its virtual students. Superintendent Jason Sanders said assessment tests performed this school year show around 80 percent of the district’s virtual students are in need of some level of remedial help.

Like most schools across the country, De Queen offered a virtual learning option in the fall for students and parents who were concerned about in-class instruction in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 20 to 25 percent of the student body – nearly 600 kids – opted for the district’s virtual option. But assessment tests show the majority of these students are falling behind.

It’s a situation facing not just De Queen Public Schools, but nearly every school district in the country with a virtual learning option. It’s a phenomenon some have called the Grade Depression. The pandemic and the responses to it forced many school districts to scramble to provide an alternative learning platform. Due to restrictions on social distancing, remote or online learning became the logical alternative for many schools.

De Queen school administrators worked deliberately last summer to introduce a virtual learning platform that would provide a quality education. But even the best online learning format can’t overcome the most simple and undeniable of educational facts – students learn best when they’re in class in-person.

Virtual learning largely removes the personal engagement that a solid education relies upon. Online instruction also requires a level of discipline that, honestly, is difficult to match. Anyone who’s enrolled in an online class at college can attest to that fact. With those realities in mind, Sanders said the district has outlined its number one goal for the start of the 2021-2022 school year – ending the virtual learning option and returning to a completely in-class setting for the fall semester.

Sanders said there will of course be some exceptions. But, like every school district in the country, De Queen is counting on the pandemic to be at a much more controllable level this fall – if not a thing of the past. And with vaccine distributions increasing throughout the nation, there is reason for educators to express hope. Hope is vital right now, Sanders added, because there is no substitution for in-class instruction.

For those virtual students whose education has suffered, the district also has a plan. Sanders said De Queen will rely on new funding through the federal CARES Act to help catch up those virtual students who are falling behind. The district received around $3.2 million under the second CARES Act passed in December. Of that, the district plans to allocate around $2 million towards remedial efforts. That would include tutoring, additional engagement opportunities, remediation lessons and other programs to help close the gap which opened over the past school year.

But De Queen administrators stress the most important goal is getting students back in class. Adjusting to the new normal of the COVID-19 era, Sanders said, will let schools get back to what they do best: teaching students.

Howard County Sheriff’s Office investigating attempted ATM theft in Mineral Springs    02/09/2021

Original article by www.southwestarkansasradio.com

MINERAL SPRINGS – An attempted early Friday morning robbery at Diamond Bank in Mineral Springs is under investigation by local and federal authorities.

Howard County Sheriff Bryan McJunkins said the bank alarm was received around 2:30 a.m. Friday morning. Howard County Sheriff’s deputies and officers from the Nashville Police Department responded and were on scene within a matter of minutes. Upon arrival at the bank building, which also houses the Mineral Springs Police Department, officers discovered a three quarter ton Ford diesel truck with a chain attached to it and the ATM unit at the bank.

Sheriff McJunkins said the ATM was destroyed in the incident, but it appears the would be robbers were not able to get any money from the unit. The machine is valued at $20,000-$35,000 dollars.

During their investigation, authorities ran the truck’s license plate and learned the vehicle had been stolen Thursday night from a repair shop in Ashdown.

Sheriff McJunkins said this is the third such incident of similar nature to occur in the region recently. The two previous instances happened in the Texarkana vicinity.

Lockesburg City Council to meet tonight      02/09/2021

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg City Council will meet tonight in regular session beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center.

Items on the agenda include routine financial matters as well as an electronic device plan to allow city employees to work from home. The council will also return to the issue of permits for alcohol sales in the city limits.

The Lockesburg City Council met in special session last month to pass its own ordinance in relation to regulating alcohol sales in Lcokesburg. The ordinance established a $25 licensing fee for any business or vendor that sells or serves alcohol within Lockesburg. These establishments would of course first require authorization from Alcohol Beverage Control to sell, serve or manufacture alcohol.

In contrast to De Queen, Lockesburg’s ordinance also included a three percent sales tax on the gross revenue from all sales of alcoholic beverages in the city.

Tonight’s meeting is open to the public.

De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperate to host teacher recruitment meetings   02/09/2021

GILLHAM – The DeQueen-Mena Educational Service Cooperative will host a virtual information session on teacher recruitment later this month.

Six informational sessions will take place beginning Feb. 25 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. An afternoon Zoom session will also provide an opportunity to speak individually with the cooperative’s Recruitment and Retention Specialist.

Sessions include information about the alternative routes to earning a teacher’s license without going through a teacher training program at a college, the financial aid available to potential teachers, information on the professional test(s) required to become a teacher, and the support available to novice teachers. Those interested can participate in one or all of the Zoom sessions.

Presenters include Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education staff and Educational Cooperative specialists from around the state.

Call 479-385-4319 for additional details.

Harvest Food Bank in Lockesburg tomorrow for food distribution   02/09/2021

LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank is returning to Sevier County tomorrow with its USDA Mobile Food Pantry.

Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute commodities directly from its truck on Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia in Lockesburg.

With CDC precautions and recommendations against the Coronavirus still in place, Harvest officials said they are taking every measure to ensure the safety of its staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are operating as “drive-thru” distributions, with food boxes being loaded directly into vehicles. Recipients will be asked not to exit their vehicle or park to pick up food. Recipients must bring photo identification or proof of address for verifying they are a resident of Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one box per household and 2 households per vehicle.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   02/09/2021

DE QUEEN –  Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County fell by four yesterday to number 115 currently. Overall cases grew slightly to 2,464. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported no change in its active COVID-19 caseload, which remains at 42. Total cases grew by three to 1,086 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported fiver fewer active cases yesterday for a current total of 99. Overall cases grew to 1,445 while deaths remain at 24.

Polk County reported an additional death yesterday, raising the death toll in the county to 58 since the pandemic began. Active cases decreased slightly to 103 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Polk County. Total cases grew slightly to 1,769.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County saw no change in its active COVID-19 caseload, which remains at 284. Cumulative cases grew by nine to 3,610. Deaths remain at 59.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 637 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the lowest one-day figure since the year began. Monday’s increase raises the cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions in Arkansas to just over 307,000 since the pandemic began. Active positive cases did see another decrease, falling by nearly over 1,000 to number 15,320 currently. Deaths increased by 30 on Sunday for a total of 5,106. Hospitalizations decreased by four, leaving 777 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Dierks School District transitions to online learning through Feb. 10   02/08/2021
DIERKS – The Dierks School District will be transitioning to virtual learning beginning today and continuing through mid-week due to COVID-19.
In a statement on its Facebook page on Friday, district officials said all Dierks students will pivot to virtual learning today through this Wednesday, Feb. 10. The district said it will make a decision after Wednesday to determine if learning will return to onsite instruction or continue virtually.
Both the elementary and high school campuses will be available during normal school hours for students needing to use the district’s internet. However, no meals will be served during these virtual days and no buses will run.
The district said the school’s nursing staff has contacted all probable close contacts as of Friday.
New video scoreboard up at Leopard Stadium   02/08/2021
DE QUEEN – Leopard Stadium’s new scoreboard is up and De Queen fans are sure to enjoy this big, eye-catching addition to the field.
The De Queen School District announced last year Leopard Stadium would be home to a new and vastly improved scoreboard and video board. Besides serving as a scoreboard for sporting events held at the stadium, the video board will be a huge complement to the new television production program set unveiled in the fall.
The video board alone meaures 31-feet wide by 18-feet tall.
First State Bank of De Queen donated $200,000 for the scoreboard, which covers most of the project save some installation costs. District officials had plans to construct the video board in the future through community donations, but never expected plans to move so quickly. De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said that’s all thanks to the donation by First State Bank.

“Without them we wouldn’t have been able to do this, at least not so quickly,” said Sanders. “This is going to be a huge addition to our stadium and we couldn’t be more thankful for First State Bank of De Queen for making this all possible.”

First State Bank has traditionally sponsored the scoreboard at Leopard Stadium. Officials at First State Bank in De Queen said the bank is honored and proud to be able to fund the new video board at the football field.
Sanders said the district expects the board to be fully operational in time for the start of the 2021 football season. The board will then be used at graduation ceremonies and other sporting events.
One of the most exciting features of the new video board for incoming students is how they’ll be able to engage with it through the new television production program at De Queen High School. De Queen Teacher Beau McCastlain said students will be able to create content through the program which will be featured on the video board as well as other mediums throughout the school district. The entire program is geared at teaching students the fundamentals of video production and broadcast journalism. The goal is to provide participating students with the skills needed to enter the workforce in a related field.
McCastlain, who has extensive history working as a sports reporter and anchor for several television studios across Arkansas, is heading the new television lab program. The program launched for sophomores this past fall semester.
Two ASH students recognized by SkillsUSA  02/08/2021
ASHDOWN –  On Wednesday, Feb. 3, two Ashdown High School students who are currently serving as Arkansas SkillsUSA State Officers were pinned in a special ceremony held in Malvern at Arkansas State University – Three Rivers University.
Those students include Reagan Burden, a sophomore at AHS who is serving in the position of Treasurer, and Chloe Silva, a sophomore serving in the position of Historian.
Ashdown High School SkillsUSA Sponsor Amy Silva said both students worked hard and have a lot to be proud of following the ceremony. Silva said, despite the unorthodox school year, both students have shown great flexibility and willingness to serve even in the face of a pandemic.
According to its website, “SkillsUSA is a national membership association serving high school, college and middle school students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations, and for further education.  SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Simply put, Silva said SkillsUSA helps students excel in a high demand and high skilled work environment.  SkillsUSA’s mission includes empowering its members to become work-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. SkillsUSA seeks to improve the quality of the nation’s future skilled workforce through the development of Framework skills that include personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics.”
Dept. of Agriculture now taking nominations for Arkansas Century Farm Program  02/08/2021
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) is now accepting applications for the 2021 Arkansas Century Farm program. This program recognizes Arkansas families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years. Online and printable applications are available at: agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/arkansas-century-farm-program/. There is no cost to apply.In a press release Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said Arkansas Century Farm families have persevered challenges for at least ten decades, contributing greatly in making Arkansas agriculture the success story that it is today. As Arkansas’s largest industry, agriculture has an economic impact of over $21 billion annually and provides one of every six jobs in the state.
To qualify, Arkansas farms must meet the following criteria:

The same family must have owned the farm for 100 years by Dec. 31, 2021.

The line of ownership from the original settler or buyer may be through children, grandchildren, siblings, and nephews or nieces, including through marriage and adoption.

The farm must be at least ten acres of the original land acquisition and make a financial contribution to the overall farm income.

Qualifying Arkansas farms will receive a personalized Arkansas Century Farm certificate and metal sign listing the farm name and year established.

Arkansas is home to more than 42,300 farms, of which 96 percent are family owned and operated.  Since the Arkansas Century Farm program began in 2012, nearly 500 farms have been certified. The list of previously inducted Arkansas Century Farm families can be found at: agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/arkansas-century-farm-program/.

Contact Beth Moore at 501-539-4027 or email beth.moore@agriculture.arkansas.gov with questions. Applications must be received via email or postmarked on or before May 31, 2021 to be eligible for designation as a 2021 inductee.

Arkansas Senate passes bill to exempt unemployment benefits from taxes  02/08/2021

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Senate has voted to exempt last year’s unemployment benefits from state income taxes, to help people who lost their jobs because of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senate Bill 236 would apply to benefits paid in 2020 and 2021. The unemployment rate in Arkansas had been around four percent until the coronavirus pandemic caused widespread business closures, especially in hospitality, tourism and travel. The jobless rate spiked to around 10 percent before it began to improve.

Before the pandemic, about 44,000 people in Arkansas claimed unemployment in 2018 and 2019, a state revenue official told senators during a committee hearing on SB 236. Last year more than 281,000 people filed for unemployment, according to the Department of Workforce Services.

SB 236 is expected to save those people more than $51 million in state income taxes when they file this year, the revenue official said.

The next step is for the bill to be considered by a House committee, and if advanced out of committee, to be voted on by the entire House.

Sevier County Quorum Court meeting is today   02/08/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet today to vote on a request from the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office regarding extradition of a murder suspect.

The sheriff’s office is requesting a $10,000 allocation to pay for the extradition of a homicide suspect currently living in a foreign country. Authorities are not releasing the name of the suspect or any other details at this time.

Justices of the peace will also hear a request for $10,000 in funding to be paid to UA Cossatot for economic development. If approved, this funding would replace the previously-approved $5,000 towards the salary of the Sevier County Economic Development Officer. The additional amount, said county officials, would support the officer’s salary and also provide money for training, memberships and projects. The request is for three years at $10,000 a year.

In other business, the quorum court will vote on a number of routine financial matters. This includes a request from the Sevier County Office of Emergency Management for additional funds to cover the increased costs of the “Code Red” alert and notification system.

Lastly on the agenda, the quorum court will vote on a proposed resolution seeking to prohibit the use of excessive force by law enforcement agencies against individuals engaged in non-violent civil rights demonstrations in Sevier County.

The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse in De Queen. The meeting is open to the public.

Arkansas House discusses elections, transportation and law enforcement  02/08/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught is providing another update on the week ahead for the Arkansas House of Representatives.

The House’s 93rd General Assembly is entering its 5th week of the 2021 Regular Session. The House passed a resolution to extend this session, if necessary, to May 3.

The deadline for members to file proposed Constitutional Amendments is February 10.The General Assembly can put forth up to 3 amendments to the voters for the 2022 General Election. The debate and votes for proposed amendments are traditionally held in the latter part of the session.

This week, the House passed bills addressing elections, transportation, and law enforcement, just to name a few.

Concerning elections, the House passed HB1112. This bill eliminates the option for individuals to complete a sworn statement to cast a provisional ballot if they did not have the required photo identification.

The House also passed HB1338, which raises the number of signatures required for an individual to be placed on the Arkansas ballot as a candidate for President of the United States. Currently, 1,000 signatures are required. This bill raises it to 5,000.

When it comes to transportation, the House passed the following bills this week:

HB1269-This bill allows counties to pass an ordinance to allow individuals to drive golf carts on county roads.

HB1244-This bill authorizes DFA to issue a driver’s license or identification card without a photograph if the licensee has a religious objection to having their photo taken. This bill does not change requirements for voter identification.

HB1022-This bill states drivers must have their vehicle’s headlights on from sunset to sunrise. The current law states lights must be on from ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise.

HB1115-This bill amends the law concerning the weight threshold for commercial vehicles. This changes the definition of a commercial motor vehicle from one with a gross weight of at least 10,000 pounds to one that weighs at least 26,001 pounds.

The House also passed a bill this week recommended by the Governor’s Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas.

HB1197 limits a law-enforcement agency to two part-time officers for every full-time officer. The task force report noted that the higher ratio of full-time officers would strengthen in-house training and enhance stability.

Another bill passed by the House that addresses law enforcement is HB1236. This bill states in the event of a civil disturbance or a crime in progress that requires additional law enforcement resources, the Governor may establish a system of unified command of law enforcement efforts. The Governor may designate which law enforcement agency or agencies have primary jurisdiction on the State Capitol grounds and in the State Capitol building.

As a reminder, you can watch all House committee meetings and floor proceedings at www.arkansashouse.org.

Local school board meetings tonight        02/08/2021

The Ashdown School Board will meet tonight for its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the administration office on 751 Rankin Street. Items on the agenda include Teacher of the Year recognitions, a discussion on teacher salary increases for the 2021-2022 school year and a number of routine financial and administrative matters.

The Horatio Board of Education will meet in regular session this evening. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Items on the agenda include principal recommendations for the 2021-2022 school year and recommendations for a new junior high cheerleading coach for the next school year. The meeting is open to the public.

De Queen City Hall to be closed in observance of President’s Day        02/08/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen City Hall will be closed on Monday, Feb. 15 in observance of President’s Day. The trash schedule for the week of Feb. 15 will be as follows: Monday’s trash will be picked up on Tuesday, Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday will remain the same.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures        02/08/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 are continuing to rise again in Sevier County with an additional net increase of three on Sunday. That raises the current total of active cases of the virus in the county to 119. Overall cases also grew by eight to 2,462 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported three fewer active cases of COVID-19 for a total of 42 currently. Total cases were unchanged at 1,083 while deaths remained at 40.

Howard County reported four fewer active cases yesterday for a current total of 104. Overall cases grew to 1,440 while deaths remain at 24.

Active cases in Polk County saw a net decrease of four on Sunday for a current total of 104. Overall cases rose to 1,767 while deaths increased by one to 57.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an increase of 22 active cases yesterday for a current total of 284. Cumulative cases grew by 54 to 3,601. Deaths due to COVID-19 in McCurtain County grew by one to 59.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported just 672 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the lowest one-day figure since the year began. Sunday’s increase raises the cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions in Arkansas to more than 306,000 since the pandemic began. Active positive cases did see another decrease, falling by nearly 500 to 16,324 currently. Deaths increased by 15 on Sunday for a total of 5,076. Hospitalizations increased by 31, leaving 781 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.


Community Project Planning meeting tonight in De Queen  
 02/04/2021

DE QUEEN – A group of local organizers seeking to highlight Southwest Arkansas’ minority populations will gather this evening in De Queen.
Organizers say the Community Project Planning meeting will be open to the public with the goal to create plans for uplifting the minority populations of Sevier County through programs, events and activities, and to promote greater unity throughout the entire community. Organizers of the meetings are filing paperwork to achieve 501C3 Non-profit status. The program will be based in De Queen.

Area residents, elected officials, business owners, local leaders and the general public are encouraged to attend the meeting and contribute ideas to the growing initiative. The planning session will take place this Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen. Refreshments will be provided by Cricket Wireless and social distancing/mask use will be encouraged.
The group held an initial meeting back in October 2020 at The Faith and Deliverance Center Church in De Queen that received more than 1,500 views on Facebook and was reported on by multiple media outlets in the area. During the October meeting, attendees established a list of community goals ranging from local government education to events aimed at highlight Sevier County’s Native American, Hispanic, Marshallese and Black communities. Also discussed was a multicultural center or African-American museum to serve as headquarters for future efforts.
The goals of the February meeting are to establish a Board of Directors, select a name for the group and finalize community goals. A Facebook livestream option will be available for those who wish to attend virtually and a moderator will relay questions submitted in the comments section.
Organizers say everyone is welcome to attend and COVID regulations apply.
For questions, please email DQunity@gmail.com
Arkansas boaters reminded of new boat plug requirements   02/04/2021
Anglers, hunters and other boaters who use the state’s waterways are being reminded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission of a new regulation that took effect New Year’s Day. This new rule requires all boat drain plugs to be removed before and during trailering of boats to and from access facilities on all lakes, rivers and streams in Arkansas.
This includes plugs for live wells, ballast tanks and the like.
There are a couple of exceptions to the regulation, however. Fishing tournament officials may submit a request to the AGFC Fisheries Division for written permission to allow for the transport of fish to an offsite weigh station. All tournament participants must be given a copy of the permit. Also, transportation of baitfish is allowed in compliance with Code 26.27 of the AGFC’s Code of Regulations.
A similar boat plug regulation was already in place in 21 other states to help stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species, and the new AGFC rule was part of an extensive list of regulations recommended by the Fisheries Division and approved by the Commission in 2020. Those regulations took effect Jan. 1 of this year.
Aquatic nuisance species such as silver carp, giant salvinia, zebra mussels and others continue to spread across waterbodies in Arkansas, most recently giant salvinia at Millwood Lake. AGFC officials say regulations like the boat plug rule were approved to help slow the spread.AGFC officials urge, too, that along with unplugging when trailering your boat, remember also to clean, drain and dry your boat after visiting a lake, river or stream to stop the spread of invasive species to another waterbody.

To submit paperwork for the fishing tournament exception, email Fisheries Biologist Jeff Buckingham at jeffrey.buckingham@agfc.ar.gov. Note that certain requirements must be met to qualify for an exception.

State hopeful pandemic’s darkest days are behind after falling new cases, hospitalizations   02/04/2021

A consistent decline in new cases and hospitalizations suggests the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic may be behind Arkansas.
During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update held Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state had reported slightly over 1,500 new cases since Monday. That’s a steady drop from the record highs seen daily in late November and into December and the New Year. Tuesday’s new cases raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to just over 298,000 since the pandemic began. Over the past 24 hours hospitalizations fell by 20 to leave 869 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus – the lowest hospitalization rate seen in Arkansas since late November. Active cases also fell over the same period with around 16,000 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Arkansas.
Deaths increased over the same period by 44 to total 4,939. Recoveries grew over the same period to more than 277,000. Hutchinson said the testing positivity rate is also nearing 10 percent. That’s the goal outlined by the CDC and which has not been reached in Arkansas for months.
Hutchinson took a moment to highlight the bettering economic picture in Arkansas. Higher-than-expected sales tax revenue, along with a $400 million state surplus, is evidence that more Arkansans are returning to work and spending in the economy, Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson also stated the state would not extend the 11 p.m. curfew placed upon bars and restaurants in Arkansas. That curfew was set to expire on Feb. 3.
State officials said Arkansas’ vaccination plans are proceeding well, with more than 318,000 doses given as of Tuesday – or around 62 percent of all the doses received so far in Arkansas. The state remains in vaccination phase 1-B, which focuses on Arkansans aged 70 and older as well as educators in the state.
Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero briefly detailed the hopeful decline in Arkansas’ hospitalization rate and the state’s continued search for new varients of the virus.
State Commerce Secretary Mike Preston then provided an update on the recently reinstated Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in Arkansas. He outlined that most Arkansans who are eligible for this additional assistance should have or will soon be receiving an email with vital identification requirements. Recipients are asked to respond as soon as possible by clicking the link provided in the email and following the online instructions. In addition, he reminded that Arkansans on traditional unemployment will need to exhaust those resources before they are eligible for the PUA program. He invited Arkansans with questions to call the Department of Workforce Services at (844) 908-2178.
Preston then addressed those Arkansans who have received a 1099 in the mail due to fraudulent unemployment claims made by scammers during the pandemic. He said victims of this scam must file a police report if they have not done so yet and send it to the Department of Workforce Services by a Feb. 12 deadline.
Those police reports can be emailed to ADWS.InternalAudit@arkansas.gov.
In review, just over 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday for a statewide cumulative total of 298,000. Over the same period deaths increased by 44 to 4,939 while hospitalizations fell by 20 to 869. Active cases fell to 16,331 on Tuesday while recoveries grew to 277,000. Over 7,000 combined PCR and antigen tests were performed between Monday and Tuesday.

Arkansas Wildlife Federation announces student art contest   02/04/2021

Local student artists are being invited to participate in a statewide contest as part of an effort to highlight Arkansas’ natural wonders.

Once again, the Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AWF) and Creative Ideas have come together to promote wildlife education through the arts in the annual Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest. For the 2021 contest, students from kindergarten through 12th grade can submit artwork online through a portal on the AWF website, www.arwild.org.

For eight years, the Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest has encouraged students in grades K-12 to explore and celebrate Arkansas’ wildlife. The competition is supported through an education grant from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). Organizers say this competition offers a unique way for youth to understand nature and express what they have learned through art.

Winners in each grade will receive cash awards, trophies and certificates. Images of the Best in Show and all first-place winning artwork along with the entire list of winners will be announced in the summer issue of Arkansas Out of Doors magazine (a publication of Arkansas Wildlife Federation). Tentative plans are to have all winning artwork displayed at the AGFC Witt Stephens, Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center.

Artwork must be submitted by March 15, 2021. The Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest is free and open to all K-12 students in Arkansas.

Visit www.arwild.org/art-contest for rules and submission details.

Arkansas Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program up and running again   02/04/2021

Thousands of Arkansans will soon receive unemployment payments they’ve been waiting on for weeks.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said in a news conference that the Arkansas Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program was up and running again as of Friday. Checks began mailing out to recipients on Monday.

The site, which worked last year, had to be rebuild when federal officials ordered states to protect the system from fraud, which put thousands of people in tight spots.

It’s welcomed news for Arkansans who are currently depending on federal aid to help pay their rent or put food on the table.

More than 50,000 emails were recently sent to Arkansans with approved status informing them of the changes and already 4,900 payments have been made to individuals. The email includes a link to verify the recipient’s ID online. This link will take them through the ID verification process.

State officials say the new online ID verification makes the system more secure and hopefully, less bogged down with fraud. Preston said the state will make retroactive payments to those who were forced to wait as the website was rebuilt.

If you need that money right away, state officials stress that email is critical. Recipients are asked to be sure they have provided the Department of Workforce Services with the correct address and check their spam folder just in case. For those that have already applied and have been verified, it’s just a matter of having their ID verified and those processed. The Department of Workforce Services said the turnaround is expected to take a day or less.

If you have been getting benefits already, you have 90 days to send the state your proof of identification. If you’re starting a new claim today, you have three weeks to get it done.

In December of last year, then-President Trump signed into law a continuation of the pandemic unemployment assistance program. Last year alone the state of Arkansas paid out $2.5 billion in unemployment benefits. The program’s website can be reached by visiting www.pua.arkansas.gov

Arkansas Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program up and running again   02/04/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Active cases of COVID-19 saw a sizeable increase on Wednesday in Sevier County after a consistent decline over the past few weeks. With a net increase of 22 active cases yesterday, the total in Sevier County is now 73. Cumulative cases grew to 2,397 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, yesterday Little River County reported its first coronavirus-related death since early January. That additional death raises the total to 40 in Little River County. Active cases increased by 14 and now number 43 confirmed and probable active cases in the county. Total cases grew by 14 to 1,062.

Howard County reported an overall increase of 11 active cases on Wednesday, raising the current total to 93. Cumulative cases rose by 19 to 1,400 while deaths remain at 23.

Active cases in Polk County grew by two yesterday for a current total of 88. Cumulative cases rose by 37 to 1,713. Deaths remain at 56.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported five additional active cases yesterday for a total 286. Total cases grew by 16 to 3,507. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported over 2,400 new cases of COVID-19 across the state yesterday. That sets a new milestone for the virus in Arkansas, with more than 300,000 reported transmissions since the start of the pandemic. Active cases saw their first net increase in days, increasing by 200 to 16,533. Deaths increased by 46 over the state period for a total of 4,985 Arkansans having died from COVID-19. Hospitalizations increased by 15 yesterday, leaving 884 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Sevier County Quorum Court to vote on extradition of homicide suspect, increased allocation for local economic development   02/03/2021
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet next week to vote on a request from the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office regarding extradition of a murder suspect.
The meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 8. The sheriff’s office is requesting a $10,000 allocation to pay for the extradition of a homicide suspect currently living in a foreign country. Authorities are not releasing the name of the suspect or any other details at this time
Justices of the peace will also hear a request for $10,000 in funding to be paid to UA Cossatot for economic development. If approved, this funding would replace the previously-approved $5,000 towards the salary of the Sevier County Economic Development Officer. The addition amount, said county officials, would support the officer’s salary and also provide money for training, memberships and projects. The request is for three years at $10,000 a year.
In other business, the quorum court will vote on a number of routine financial matters. This includes a request from the Sevier County Office of Emergency Management for additional funds to cover the increased costs of the “Code Red” alert and notification system.
Lastly on the agenda, the quorum court will vote on a proposed resolution seeking to prohibit the use of excessive force by law enforcement agencies against individuals engaged in non-violent civil rights demonstrations in Sevier County.
The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse. The meeting is open to the public.
Little River County man charged with 15 felonies involving theft of firearms   02/03/2021
ASHDOWN – A host of felony charges have been filed against a Little River County man suspected in multiple car break-ins and firearm thefts in the area.
According to court records, 19-year-old Jacory Rayfield is facing 15 felony counts of theft and breaking or entering after charges were formally filed in the Little River Circuit Court on Monday. Those charges include three counts of breaking or entering and 12 counts of theft of property with 11 of those regarding stolen firearms.
The Little River County Sheriff’s Office was notified on Christmas Day of last year by a homeowner who stated someone broke into several vehicles on his property. He said a number of firearms were stolen from the vehicles.
Deputies reportedly found firearms matching the victim’s descriptions while executing a search warrant on a residence located on Little River County Road 15. Deputies recovered multiple other firearms reported stolen in Little River County.
Court records allege Rayfield was interviewed by authorities and admitted to stealing the firearms.
The charges range between class C and class D felonies. Upon conviction the class C charge carries a sentence of three to 10 years in prison and up to six years in prison for the class D offenses.
Pine seedling giveaway event scheduled for tomorrow in Broken Bow   02/03/2021
BROKEN BOW, Okla. – The Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce will host the annual Weyerhaeuser Pine Seedling Giveaway tomorrow starting at 8:30 a.m.Seedlings will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Trees will be small seedlings.

The event will take place at the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce Office at 113 West Martin Luther King Drive.

It’s recommended to be at the Chamber office as close as possible to the start time to ensure receipt of a tree. According to Chamber officials the seedling giveaway is a popular event and tree supplies often go fast. There is a limit of 25 seedlings per person.

Unlike some previous years, hardwoods will not be available this year.

For more information on the event, contact the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce office at 584-3393 or by email at bchamber@pine-net.com.

Food distribution at De Queen Chalice Cupboard on Feb. 8   02/03/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Chalice Cupboard will be distributing food boxes on Monday, Feb. 8 from 1-3 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. Recipients are asked to come south down Fifth Street and enter the back of the church and exit on Fourth Street.  The boxes will be distributed to the first 50 people who arrive.  There will be a limit of one box per automobile. Organizers ask that you do not get out of your automobile and that you open your trunk to allow boxes to be placed inside. These procedures are in place for the safety of staff, volunteers and recipients.

Despite pandemic, 2020 was a good year at Crater of Diamonds   02/03/2021

MURFREESBORO – 2020 was a great year for diamond finds at the Crater. Despite the many changes brought on by COVID-19, more than 129,000 people visited the park in search of diamonds. The following is a recap of diamond finds for 2020, including some of the most memorable discoveries.

Visitors found 71 diamonds during the first three months of 2020 until the diamond search area closed from March 21 to May 22, due to a growing number of COVID-19 cases. After the search area reopened, visitors registered nearly two diamonds per day through the rest of the spring season.

Labor Day 2020 was an historic day for the park, when Kevin Kinard, of Maumelle, Ark., went diamond mining with his friends. Kinard was surface searching on the south end of the search area when he picked up a brown, marble-sized gem with a dimpled surface. Upon having his find identified by park staff, Kinard learned that he had discovered a 9.07-carat diamond, the second-largest ever found at the Crater! He chose to name it the Kinard Friendship Diamond, in honor of his friends.

Park guests registered 109 diamonds last summer. As temperatures cooled, finds remained fairly steady at about one per day through the end of the year. On Halloween Steven McCool, of Fayetteville, Ark., found the year’s third-largest diamond.

Park guests registered 353 diamonds in 2020, weighing a total of 81.91 carats. Visitors from Arkansas registered 112 diamonds, while travelers from 25 other states registered 241 gems.

Of the diamonds found, 269 diamonds were white, 43 were brown, and 41 were yellow. The average diamond weight found last year was just under one-quarter carat, but 17 diamonds weighed more than one carat each. Visitors found 26 diamonds on top of the ground.

While the staff at Crater of Diamonds State Park enjoys reminiscing about these beautiful and historic diamond finds, they said they are looking forward to the many new and exciting discoveries that await 2021.

Miss DHS pageant scheduled for Feb. 20  02/03/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School Junior Class will present the 44th annual Miss DHS Pageant this month.

The high school junior class will host the pageant on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 7 PM. The new Miss DHS will be crowned in the De Queen Public School Auditorium along with the winners of the Mini and Little Miss Pageants. The auditorium is located at the entrance to De Queen Junior High. The Mini and Little Miss Pageants will be held earlier in the day starting at 3 p.m.

Forms for the Mini & Little Miss Pageants along with the $25 entry fee must be turned in by Friday, Feb. 12. Registration forms and pageant rules and guidelines can be found on the district website at www.dequeenleopards.org.

All CDC/ADH Covid guidelines will be followed and face-coverings will be required. For further information for the Miss DHS Pageant, contact Mrs. Moore at jmoore@dequeenleopards.org. For further information for the Mini or Little Miss Pageants, please contact Mrs. Wedehase at awedehase@dequeenleopards.org

That contact information is also available on our website, www.kdqn.net

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   02/03/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Sevier County reported an increase of four active cases on Tuesday, raising the current total to 51. Total cases rose by 10 to 2,365 while deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw active cases decrease by seven yesterday for a total of 39 currently. Cumulative cases rose to 1,048 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County reported an overall increase of 12 active cases on Tuesday, raising the current total to 82. Cumulative cases rose by 22 to 1,381 while deaths remain at 23.

Active cases in Polk County grew by six yesterday for a current total of 86. Cumulative cases rose by 12 to 1,676. Deaths remain at 56.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported four additional active cases yesterday for a total 281. Total cases grew by 20 to 3,491. Deaths remain at 57.

Southwest Arkansas Electric receives $52 million in federal funding to bring gigabyte-level internet service to area   02/02/2021
TEXARKANA – Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative is announcing it has secured more than $53 million through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to deliver gigabit-capable broadband service to the area. In a press release issued Monday, the non-profit energy supplier said it will offer service throughout rural Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas communities served by Southwest Arkansas Electric, along with designated rural communities in Louisiana.
The cooperative’s fiber entity intends to launch a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network to serve 100 percent of the 26,000-plus homes and businesses in its 11-county service territory. Southwest Arkansas Electric said the funding will enable it to launch and deploy the gigabit-speed network quickly and in a cost-effective manner.
Company officials said the expanded internet service will have substantial economic, educational and community benefits through reliable, affordable high-speed internet service. Southwest Arkansas Electric’s deployment will encompass 5,000 miles to offer access to broadband throughout its electric territory as well as some adjacent communities.

Southwest Arkansas Electric’s participation last year in the federal auction at the gigabit tier signaled its intent to deploy 100 percent fiber. Fiber offers gigabit speed and power that accommodates multiple users and devices at the same time without losing service quality. This is an important technological upgrade, given the stagnation of local internet infrastructure at a time when internet is more valuable than ever. The cooperative said the rural communities it serves will have easier and more reliable access to the many services made so necessary by the pandemic – distance learning for kids, telecommuting options for working parents, virtual connections to friends and family, telemedicine and more.
In the company’s press release, Southwest Arkansas Electric CEO Dion Cooper said the areas the company services have long been bypassed in terms of high-speed internet access. He said the funding the cooperative was awarded means that those living and working in the area will have access to a premier class of high-speed internet, and consequently easier access to the services everyone is increasingly reliant on.
Southwest Arkansas Electric was a member of the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium, a bidding entity of 90-plus cooperatives coordinated and led by rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader to secure the federal funding. Overall, the consortium was awarded over $1.1 billion, enabling electric cooperatives across 22 states to deliver world-class fiber internet service to more than two million rural Americans.
Despite federal funding provided to AT&T, CenturyLink and other telephone companies over the years, the vast majority of residents in Southwest Arkansas lack the robust broadband services necessary to live and work in today’s environment. It’s particularly frustrating for local businesses that rely increasingly on online transactions and management. With projects like those planned by Southwest Arkansas Electric, that gap is likely to close in the years ahead.
“For years, AT&T, Windstream, CenturyLink and other telephone companies have been given public funds to provide telecommunications service in rural areas of southwestern Arkansas,” explained Conexon Partner, Jonathan Chambers. “And yet, the vast majority of residents lack the broadband services necessary to live and work in today’s environment. The funding that will be awarded to Southwest Arkansas Electric’s fiber subsidary is but a fraction of the funding that continues to flow to the telephone companies from the state and federal governments.
“But with this money, Southwest Arkansas Electric will build a state-of-the-art fiber network to all of its members. We’re proud to be working with electric co-ops throughout the state, as Arkansas continues to lead the nation in rural fiber deployment.”
De Queen Public Schools announces 2020-2021 Teachers of the Year   02/02/2021

De Queen Primary School Teacher of the Year – Stacy Payne

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools has announced the names of five exceptional teachers selected as the district’s Teachers of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year.
The De Queen Public Schools Teacher of the Year program is an annual tradition aimed at promoting excellence in education. It’s also an opportunity for teachers to recognize peers who exemplify the profession and its values.
Typically, these teachers and their awards are presented to the community during the annual De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce Membership and Awards Banquet. But, due to COVID-19, that event has been rescheduled to a future, unspecified date. Nonetheless, district officials say they are glad to use this time as an opportunity to highlight this year’s Teachers of the Year and the contributions they make as educators in the community.

De Queen Elementary School Teacher of the Year – Elizabeth Martinez

Elizabeth Martinez has been named the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year at De Queen Elementary School. Ms. Martinez has been working with the De Queen Public Schools since 2014 in a special education classroom setting. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is also a 2008 graduate of De Queen High School. Ms. Martinez enjoys spending time with her parents, siblings and church family. Some of her hobbies include puzzles, reading, fishing, road trips, and listening to podcasts.
This year’s Teacher of the Year at De Queen Primary School is Stacy Payne. Mrs. Payne is a 2nd Grade Teacher at De Queen Public Schools. And has been teaching in the district since 1993. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, MS. Mrs. Payne enjoys spending time with her family and making memories with her granddaughters. Her hobbies include reading, writing poetry, and singing.

De Queen Middle School Teacher of the Year – Sonya Frachiseur

Sonya Frachiseur is the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year at De Queen Middle School. Mrs. Frachiseur has been with De Queen Public Schools for 17 years and teaches sixth-grade mathematics. She received her National Board certification in 2009 and her Master’s degree in 2012. She is married to John Frachiseur who teaches Agri Science for De Queen Junior High. John and Sonya have two grown children, Katie Brooke and John Allen. In her spare time, Mrs. Frachiseur enjoys traveling, sewing, fishing, listening to audiobooks, and spending time on the river with her family
This year’s top teacher at De Queen Junior High is Janet Dunson. Mrs. Dunson has been a special education teacher for the past 21 years for the De Queen and Lockesburg school districts. She started her teaching career in 2000 at Lockesburg Elementary and after making a move to Lockesburg High School, she joined De Queen Junior High as a resource math teacher. She has also served as the cheer sponsor for DJHS for the past 14 years.

Mrs. Dunson started and received her B.S.E. from Henderson State University in 2000 and her M.S.E. from Henderson State University in 2007. Besides teaching and working with the district’s

De Queen Junior High School Teacher of the Year – Janet Dunson

cheerleaders, Mrs. Dunson enjoys watching the Cubs and Leopards, going to Razorback football games, and is a big fan of the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. She enjoys hiking, riding her dirt bike, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
And finally, the Teacher of the Year at De Queen High School is Leona Martin. This year marks Mrs. Martin’s 17th year teaching. She has taught Algebra 1 and Geometry as a Leopard since 2015. She spends her free time barrel racing and crafting. Her favorite place to be is at home with her family
Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district is proud to recognize these five quality teachers and that they contribute greatly to the school system in De Queen.

De Queen High School Teacher of the Year – Leona Martin

“A quality teacher is the true magic dust behind any successful classroom. This year we are proud to recognize five quality teachers who are a big reason why we have such a great school here in De Queen,” Sanders said. “They are very deserving of this recognition and we are very fortunate to have them work in our school. Each school day they motivate, encourage, guide, teach, and love our kids. We truly appreciate all that they do for our students.”

Second Community Project Planning meeting this Thursday in De Queen   02/02/2021

DE QUEEN – A group of local organizers have announced plans for another Community Project Planning meeting this month in De Queen.

Organizers say the meeting will be open to the public with the goal to strategize plans for uplifting the minority populations of Sevier County through programs, events and activities, and to promote greater unity throughout the entire community. Organizers of the meetings are filing paperwork to achieve 501C3 Non-profit status. The program will be based in De Queen.

Area residents, elected officials, business owners, local leaders and the general public are encouraged to attend the meeting and contribute ideas to the growing initiative. The planning session will take place this Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Party Room Candela in downtown De Queen. Refreshments will be provided by Cricket Wireless and social distancing/mask use will be encouraged.

The group held an initial meeting back in October 2020 at The Faith and Deliverance Center Church in De Queen that received more than 1,500 views on Facebook and was reported on by multiple media outlets in the area. During the October meeting, attendees established a list of community goals ranging from local government education to events aimed at highlight Sevier County’s Native American, Hispanic, Marshallese and Black communities. Also discussed was a multicultural center or African-American museum to serve as headquarters for future efforts.

The goals of the February meeting are to establish a Board of Directors, select a name for the group and finalize community goals. A Facebook livestream option will be available for those who wish to attend virtually and a moderator will relay questions submitted in the comments section.

Organizers say everyone is welcome to attend and COVID regulations apply.

For questions, please email DQunity@gmail.com

Miss DHS Pageant set for Feb. 20   02/02/2021

De Queen High School Junior Class will present the 44th annual Miss DHS Pageant this month.

The high school junior class will host the pageant on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7 PM. The new Miss DHS will be crowned in the De Queen Public School Auditorium along with the winners of the Mini and Little Miss Pageants. The auditorium is located at the entrance to De Queen Junior High. The Mini and Little Miss Pageants will be held earlier in the day starting at 3 p.m.

Forms for the Mini & Little Miss Pageants along with the $25 entry fee must be turned in by Friday, Feb. 12. Registration forms and pageant rules and guidelines can be found on the district website at www.dequeenleopards.org.

All CDC/ADH Covid guidelines will be followed and face-coverings will be required. For further information for the Miss DHS Pageant, contact Mrs. Moore at jmoore@dequeenleopards.org. For further information for the Mini or Little Miss Pageants, please contact Mrs. Wedehase at awedehase@dequeenleopards.org

Several AHS band members make it to All-Region Try-outs   02/02/2021

ASHDOWN – The 2021 All Region Tryouts were held a lot differently this year for members of the Ashdown High School Band.  In a “normal” year, the students would load a school bus early on a Saturday morning and travel to Lake Hamilton High School, look for their tryout times and music cuts, and then start warming up and practicing on the specific music they have been working on for weeks. But with so much else over the past year, COVID-19 required a big change to the plans. The 2021 tryouts were held through an entirely virtual format.

This year students record and posted their musical selections online. Band directors verified the audio was authentic and then submitted the audio to directors around the state for the regional tryouts. After the scores were calculated and assembled, directors were notified as to which students qualified for all-region. Last Friday, Ashdown High School students were able to participate in a virtual clinic with Arkansas Composer Randall Standrige. Six Ashdown High students learned then they would be making it to the 2021 All Region Tryouts.

Those students include:

Rachel Vice – 1st band, 2nd chair – Bass Clarinet

Braydon Porter – 1st band, 3rd chair – French Horn

Caylee Turner – 2nd band, 4th chair – Trumpet

Matthew Vaught – 2nd band, 9th chair – Trumpet

Liza Embry – 2nd band, 6th chair – Trombone

And Tryston McCandless  – 2nd band, 2nd chair – Tuba

Braydon Porter and Rachel Vice also qualified to participate in All-State, which will also have virtual tryouts this year.

Rep. Vaught shares update from Monday’s session of House of Representatives   02/02/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught has provided an update on the latest developments within the Arkansas House of Representatives. The House began the 4th week of the 2021 Regular Session on Monday.

Vaught said Monday morning the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced HB1112. This bill eliminates the option for individuals to complete a sworn statement in order to cast a provisional ballot if they did not have the required photo identification.

In addition, with a vote of 75-13, the full House passed HB1195. This bill requires that any woman seeking an abortion be notified of the availability of medical, welfare and private assistance programs.  It instructs the Department of Health to establish a hotline for pregnant women seeking an abortion in Arkansas to call in order to receive a resource access assistance offer. If enacted, this legislation would take effect January 1, 2023.

Another bill passed in the House included HB1115 which amends the law concerning the weight threshold for commercial vehicles. This changes the definition of a commercial motor vehicle from one that has a gross weight at least 10,000 pounds to one that weighs at least 26,001 pounds. It also changes the passenger threshold from 10 to 15.

Finally, Vaught said the House passed SB100. This bill seeks to enhance fiscal accountability and transparency in higher education. It instructs the Division of Higher Education to maintain a link to each state-supported institution of higher education on the division’s website. Each institution website would be required to list the name and email address of each member of the governing board, the date and location of board meetings, annual audit reports, and the board’s conflict of interest and commitment policy.

The House is set to reconvene today at 1 p.m.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures   02/02/2021

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Sevier County reported an increase of six active cases on Monday, raising the current total to 47. Total cases rose by 12 to 2,355 while deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River saw active cases increase by four yesterday for a total of 46 currently. Cumulative cases rose to 1,043 since the pandemic began. Deaths remain at 39.

Howard County reported two additional deaths over the previous 24 hours. That raises the death toll in Howard County from COVID-19 to 23. Active cases did see a slight decrease, falling by five to 70 currently confirmed and probable active cases in Howard County. Total cases grew by seven to 1,359.

Active cases in Polk County grew by two yesterday for a current total of 80. Cumulative cases rose by eight to 1,664. Deaths remain at 56.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported four additional active cases yesterday for a total 277. Total cases grew by 10 to 3,471. Deaths remain at 57.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 1,226 new cases on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to more than 296,000 since spring 2020. Active cases did see a net decrease yesterday, falling by nearly 500 for a current total of 16,665 active cases. Deaths increased by 27 over the previous 24-hour period. The death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas now totals 4,895.

Lockesburg passes $25 licensing fee, three-percent sales tax on alcohol sales in city 01/29/2021 By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Lockesburg has joined De Queen in passing an ordinance with local regulations on the sale of alcohol within its city limits.

The Lockesburg City Council met in special session earlier this week to pass the ordinance. The ordinance establishes a $25 licensing fee for any business or vendor that sells or serves alcohol within Lockesburg. These establishments would of course first require authorization from Arkasnas Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) to sell, serve or manufacture alcohol. In contrast to De Queen, Lockesburg’s ordinance also included a three percent sales tax on the gross revenue from all sales of alcoholic beverages in the city.

State law authorizes municipalities in Arkansas to establish their own licensing fees, taxes or other levies on businesses serving or selling alcohol. Lockesburg Mayor Danny Ruth said the city, with help from its legal counsel, voted to establish the minimum $25 licensing fee and sales tax. He said the city was not looking to harm businesses that receive authorization to sale alcohol in Lockesburg. Instead, the $25 licensing fee provides city leaders with a list of what businesses within the city are doing so. He said the idea behind the licensing fee includes assisting law enforcement in separating legitimate alcohol vendors versus any potential bootleg operations. The sales tax will also help bring in some additional revenue to the city.

The ordinance was passed with an emergency clause, meaning the new regulations went into effect immediately following the vote. The fee was set at $25 per year for each business within the city limits of Lockesburg that sells or serves alcohol. The ordinance includes a fine of between $100 and $1,000 for wholesalers that sell to a retailer violating the $25 licensing fee requirement. Any establishment with plans to sell or serve alcohol in Lockesburg would be required to fill out a Retail Beer Alcoholic Beverage Permit through the city clerk’s office. These permits will only be given to retailers who display their state alcohol permit from ABC.

Earlier this month the De Queen City Council established a similar ordinance with a $25 licensing fee for authorized retailers and restaurants. De Queen’s ordinance did not, however, establish any additional sales taxes.
During its last meeting the Sevier County Quorum Court, whose jurisdiction includes the incorporated parts of Sevier County, debated passing its own ordinance. No action was taken at that meeting but more discussion is expected in the future.

Learning and living business: Student-run Serenity Cafe opens at AHS 01/29/2021

A new student-led café opened at Ashdown High School this week and is welcoming students, staff and the whole community. The school-based enterprise, completely run by students, is an element of Ashdown High School’s program to teach entrepreneur skills to local students. Pictured from left are AHS students Rodney Owens, Addison Smedley, Allison Wooden, Emily Wooden, Will Ford and Gracie Sisemore

ASHDOWN – A new student-run coffee shop is up and running at Ashdown High School.

School officials announced this week the Serenity Café has opened its doors to business. The café, located on the high school campus, is run completely by students as part of the district’s Small Business Operations class. The Serenity Café is much like what you would expect a café to be. The menu includes everything from frappes and caramel macchiato lattes to regulary coffee and fruit slushes. Open from 7:30-9:30 a.m. each day, the café welcomes staff, students and the whole community to start their mornings with a menu selection. Debit and credit cards are welcome and students are even offering a gift card option in time for Valentine’s Day.

The coffee shop is located in the old band hall across from the football field on the Ashdown High School campus.  Patrons are asked to enter the campus from Locust Street and proceed to available parking in front of the coffee shop.

The school-based enterprise, completely run by students, is an element of Ashdown High School’s program to teach entrepreneur skills to local students. District officials say the Small Business Operations class provides experience in the day-to-day operations of a real business. This includes operating a Point of Sale System (this includes reconciling the register daily), Inventory Control, Customer Service, maintaining and cleaning the equipment, health inspection requirements, group decision making and working as a team. The students also are training in real Barista methods. All of this translates to solid experience on job applications.

Ashdown Superintendent Casey Nichols said he’s excited to see the opportunities and experience students obtain from working in the coffee shop. Those skills, he added, coupled with an understanding of the aspects of running a business, will help students become more employable after graduation.

The School Based Enterprise coffee shop was developed by Shauna Tipton, the high school’s Business Education teacher. The whole school-based enterprise program was funded by a grant from the Arkansas Department of Career Education and is in its seventh year of operation at Ashdown High School.


Jan. 31 is deadline for DQ Rotary Club’s Boulevard of Flags program 01/29/2021

DE QUEEN – The deadline is Sunday for businesses and individuals wanted to participate in the De Queen Rotary Club’s annual Boulevard of Flags program. Through this program, local businesses and homes can show off their love for the red, white and blue by having American flags placed on their property by club members. The flags are removed and stored between designated holidays. The next scheduled holiday is Presidents’ Day on Monday, Feb. 15.

The annual cost is $50 per flag. A discounted rate of $40 per flag is available for veterans and active military personnel. Proceed will be used to support the De Queen Rotary Club’s community projects.For more information, contact Tammy Huddleston at 584-2550. The deadline to register is Jan. 31. Registration forms are available on KDQN’s upcoming events page. Checks can be made payable to De Queen Rotary Club and mailed to De Queen Rotary Club, P.O. Box 122, De Queen, AR 71832.

Lockesburg Library to continue free book giveaway through February  01/29/2021

LOCKESBURG – Lockesburg Library will continue its drive-up free book giveaway during the month of February. Lockesburg Librarian Wendy Clay said some really great titles will be bagged and loaded into your waiting vehicle with no need to even get out of your car. Anyone interested can just call 870-289-2233 and a bag of books will be brought to you curbside.

The Lockesburg Library is open Wednesdays and Thursdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for curbside service. Due to COVID-19 regulations in place at all Sevier County Libraries, service is limited to curbside only. T

he Lockesburg Library has a Facebook page at facebook.com/lockesburglibrary where new books are highlighted and information about the library is updated weekly.

State warns of unemployment claim fraud when you file 2020 taxes   01/29/2021

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Tax season is upon us. It’s a stressful enough time as it is. But this year, unfortunately, many Arkansans have the added stress of dealing with fraudulent unemployment compensation claims when filing their taxes.

Victims of unemployment fraud may have income wrongfully reported in their name that could add to their tax burden. Tens of thousands of false unemployment claims were filed in Arkansas last year by con artists taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s exactly what happened to me, De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown and even Gov. Asa Hutchinson. And thousands of other Arkansans, according to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. Despite all three of us having jobs false unemployment claims were issued in our names. Fortunately most Arkansans easily saw the ploy and didn’t follow through.

But many consumers have been rightfully concerned about the safety of their personal and financial information due to this type of fraud.

And though law enforcement agencies do what they can to prevent taxpaying Arkansans from falling victim to con artists, some up front insight can go a long ways towards preventing problems. Those who received fraudulent unemployment claims in the mail, filled them out and returned them will need to be on the lookout when they go to file their claims.

If you see you’re being taxed for unemployment income you never filed, here’s what you can do.

First off, be sure that you have contacted the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services’ fraud hotline at (501) 682-1058 or completed the secure fraud reporting form online at www.dws.arkansas.gov.

If you file a police report, send a copy to the Department of Workforce Services to stop the fraudulent income from being reported to the IRS.

Authorities say do not report the fraudulent earnings as your own or file an amended return.

Independently contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to review your earnings for accuracy. Unfortunately this step could take several weeks for the SSA to update their records.

Review the IRS Guide to Employment-Related Identity Theft at www.irs.gov.

Additionally, consumers can also protect their identity and personal information by  contacting the three credit bureaus.

And you can always contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office by emailing:   OAG@ArkansasAG.gov.

Sevier County Museum announces Couples Paint Date     01/29/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Museum and FrogLevel Studios will present a couples paint date night next month as Valentine’s Day approaches. The event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Sevier County Museum, located at 717 Walter Leeper Drive. The couples paint date night will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. that evening. Cost is $60 per person and includes all supplies, instructions and a lasagna dinner for two. Pre-register by emailing froglevelstudios160@gmail.com or call the Sevier County Museum at 642-6642.

Leopards Band members make regional, state tryouts      01/28/2021

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School District is giving a big shout out to members of the Leopard Band who earned a spot in the Region 2 All Region Band.

In fact, it’s history in the making for the Leopard Marching Band as a record number of students have qualified for the regional event.

Students qualifying for regional include Abigail San Juan, who plays 12 chair flute; Hayley Strickland, third chair oboe; Benjamin Ramirez, first chair bassoon; Alma Trejo, first chair Bass Clarinet; Saul Felip, tenor saxophone; Jafet Sotello, baritone sax; Jonathan Hernandez, 10<sup>th</sup> chair trumpet; and Brittany Hernandez, 12 chair trumpet.

Jafet Sotello, Benjamin Ramirez, Jonathan Hernandez and Brittany Hernandez have also been invited to the All State qualifiers. They are the first four leopards Band members to ever make it to the All State Band tryouts.
The All State Band tryouts are scheduled for Feb. 6 at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

Over $20 million in highway improvement projects coming to SWAR    01/28/2021

DE QUEEN – Over $20 million in infrastructure improvement will be heading to the area this year, according to a recent announcement by the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

The state is planning to replace three aging bridges on Highway 70 and 278. Those include the 70-year-old bridge spanning the Saline River on the Sevier and Howard County line. Also scheduled for replacement under this project is the bridge over the Saline River on Highway 278, built in 1963, and the bridge over the Caddo River on Highway 70 in Glenwood. That bridge is nearly 60-years-old.

All in all, the replacement projects are expected to cost around $20.5 million. Manhattan Road &amp; Bridge Company of Tulsa was awarded the contract.

Construction is expected to begin this spring. A time frame from start to finish was not immediately available but that information is expected to be announced as construction nears.

William Cheatham, ARDOT’s district engineer for Southwest Arkansas, said traffic delays will be kept to a minimum. He said all three existing bridges will remain up and in use until the new ones are constructed. He added that at least a single lane of traffic will be open at all times while work gets underway.

Rep. DeAnn Vaught provides update on Wednesday’s House session      01/28/2021

State Representative DeAnn Vaught provided us with an update on the actions taken and bills passed during yesterday’s session of the Arkansas House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced HB1211which states the Governor shall not prohibit or limit a religious organization from continuing to operate religious services during a declared emergency. The bill does not prevent the Governor however from requiring religious organizations to comply with neutral health, safety, or occupancy requirements that are applicable to all organizations and businesses.

The House Rules Committee then advanced SB76 which creates a permitting process for excursion trains to serve and sell alcoholic beverages.The full House passed HB1003. This bill ensures respectful language is used in Arkansas code regarding individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and removes from the Arkansas code the term “hearing impaired”.

The House passed HB1151 which suspends the public school rating system for the 2020-2021 school year due to the disruption to education caused by the pandemic.

The House passed HB1009 which allows a public school or an open-enrollment public charter school to distribute excess food to students for consumption on the school campus or at home.

The House passed HB1032 which allows taxpayers with military retirement benefit under $6,000 to claim a total retirement exemption up to that amount if the taxpayer has additional retirement income. The Department of Finance and Administration estimates this bill affects 700 Arkansans.

The House will reconvene at 1 p.m. this afternoon.

Ashdown man arrested for allegedly trying to trade stolen tools for marijuana      01/28/2021

ASHDOWN – An Ashdown man was arrested on a felony theft charge after allegedly trying to trade stolen tools for marijuana on Facebook.

According to records from the Little River County Circuit Court, 20-year-old Christian Lee Buck has been charged with a felony count of breaking or entering from an incident that occurred on or around Jan. 7. Ashdown police took a report from a man that day who said someone had unlawfully entered a building on his property where a restaurant is being built and stole tools from inside the building. The value of the tools was estimated to be $650 by the owner.

According to court records, investigators learned Buck was allegedly attempting to trade the tools for marijuana using Facebook. Police arrested Buck soon after. Authorities say Buck handed over the tools and admitted to stealing them.

AHFH provides donation to De Queen Primary School    01/28/2021

DE QUEEN – Thanks to help from Arkansas hunters, students at De Queen Primary School will get to enjoy some great-tasting game without all the hard work that follows pulling the trigger.

Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry recently stopped by the primary school to donate 400 bags of venison jerky to De Queen students. The organization describes itself as a community-minded program that provides venison and other wild game to those in need. Organizations, businesses and churches both local and across the state have joined hunters in transforming an abundant white-tail deer population in Arkansas into a renewable food source for the hungry.

Educators at De Queen Primary School said the donation will be placed in the school’s food pantry.

This is a busy time of year for Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry with the deer season winding down. But that should not discourage anyone from reaching out the organization if they want to lend a hand. With the growing number of deer in Arkansas and pretty liberal bag limits, hunters can make a real difference in helping feeding agencies across the state. Feeding agencies have a difficult time obtaining meat or protein and that’s where hunters can help.

AHFH provides the venison at no cost to the agencies, but does have to raise money to pay for processing costs. The organization needs to raise about $100,000 to fund the program annually. Individuals, hunting clubs, businesses, churches, and other groups are encouraged to donate funds.

Hunters may donate a portion of a processed deer to a participating processor. They may leave a couple of packs or pounds of ground venison burger with the processor and tell them they want to donate the meat to AHFH. The processor must be on the AHFH registered list.

An entire deer may be donated to AHFH by dropping off a field dressed or ice chest quartered deer to a participating processor.

AHFH stresses it cannot pay the fee for field dressing or skinning. Anyone wishing to have the processor dress or skin the deer, should make sure they check with the processor on whether or not they provide this service and be ready to pay charges.

For more information or to donate, call 501-282-0006 or visit www.arkansashunters.org

Leopard Vision releases first live production    01/28/2021

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School students have released their first live production of Leopard Vision, the locally-based television production program and show launched this year at De Queen High School.

This edition of the monthly magazine show includes highlights on the Leopard family, a look at School Board Appreciation Month, an inside view of the De Queen Agri Department, a virtual tour of the newly renovated choir room and football program’s new weight room, and the Leopard Overtime segment. Leopard Vision can be viewed on the DQTV De Queen High School Television Production YouTube channel. A link can also be found on the De Queen School District’s Facebook page.

AGFC announces all-day duck hunting opportunities Jan. 31 on WMAs      01/28/2021

Duck hunters looking for a shot to finish the season on a high note will have one day to enjoy all-day hunting on all Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife management areas this year. On Jan. 31, duck hunters may hunt WMAs from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset to wrap up Arkansas’s regular duck season.

Historically, all duck hunting on WMAs must end at noon, with the exception of the final three days of the season. Last year, that three-day span was shortened to a single day.

During parking lot surveys during the last two years and anecdotal evidence from hunters in the field, the AGFC determined that it really only increased harvest on the first day that all-day hunting was allowed. Hunt-quality, however, was reduced for the second and third of those days, according to Brad Carner, AGFC chief of wildlife management. The hope is that this all-day hunt will maintain hunt quality for the last weekend of the season with one extended day.

Hunting also is allowed all-day during youth and veteran’s waterfowl hunt days, including the last hunt of the year, Feb. 6.

Nearby WMAs include De Queen Lake, Howard County WMA, Lake Greeson WMA, Caney Creek WMA, Provo WMA and White Cliffs Natural Area WMA.

Application period open for revamped Paycheck Protection Program     01/28/2021

The Paycheck Protection Program, a vital lifeline that helped keep pandemic-ravaged small businesses</a> afloat, has fully reopened to all participating lenders after initially limiting who was eligible.

In an attempt to rectify past criticisms that the program favored larger borrowers, the rescue fund – which provides forgivable loans to businesses if they maintain their payroll – had initially only been available to first-time borrowers, according to new guidance from the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department.

Although the federal government backs the loans, the money is issued by financial institutions such as banks, credit unions and community lenders. Most lenders that participated in the earlier rounds are expected to do so again.

At least $40 billion has been set aside for businesses with 10 or fewer employees and for loans under $250,000 in low-income areas.

The relaunched program is expected to inject much-needed relief into the U.S. economy after employers unexpectedly cut 140,000 jobs in December amid a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases.

While the eligibility formula is the same for first-time applicants, only businesses with 300 employees or fewer are eligible to receive a second loan, which will be capped at $2 million.

Businesses are still required to spend at least 60 percent of the money on maintaining payroll in order for the government to forgive the full loan. The remaining 40 percent can be spent on operating costs such as mortgages, rent and utilities.

Over the course of roughly four months in 2020, the PPP distributed about $525 billion in forgivable loans to 5.2 million companies, saving an estimated 50 million jobs, according to the www.foxbusiness.com/money/trump-administration-release-names-of-ppp-borrowers-says-program-supported-51m-jobs”>SBA

The renewed program is expected to close to all borrowers on March 31. For more information, including the application process, visit www.sba.gov

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    01/28/2021

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest COVID-19 figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

Sevier County saw a small increase in its active COVID-19 caseload, growing by two to a current total of 40. Overall cases rose by four to 2,327. Deaths remain at 25.

In neighboring counties, Little River reported five fewer active cases for a current total of 44. Total cases grew by three to 1,014 while deaths remained at 39.

Howard County reported three additional active cases yesterday for a new total of 69. Cumulative cases in Howard County increased by five to 1,322. Deaths remain at 21.

Polk County saw another day in which active cases declined, this time falling by eight to 85. Total cases increased slightly to 1,626. Deaths remain at 55.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 18 additional active cases yesterday for a total 260. Total cases grew by 39 to 3,406. Deaths remain at 57.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 1,777 new cases on Wednesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to just under 289,000 since spring 2020. Active cases did see a net decrease yesterday, falling by around more than 400 for a current total of 17,686 active cases. Deaths increased by 52 over the previous 24-hour period. The death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas now totals 4,742. Hospitalizations decreased by 66, leaving 1,029 Arkansans still hospitalized due to the virus.

Lockesburg woman charged with negligent homicide, DWI for 2020 wreck    01/27/2021

NASHVILLE – A Lockesburg woman is facing charges for her involvement in a 2020 vehicular accident that left one man dead.

According to court records, 33-year-old Brandi Turner of Lockesburg has been charged with negligent homicide as well as second degree battery and driving while intoxicated in relation to the accident on Oct. 17 of last year. The charges were filed yesterday in the Howard County Circuit Court.

Prosecutors allege Turner was intoxicated at the time of the accident. According to the Arkansas State Police, Turner was traveling north on Highway 27 around 11:30 that night when she crossed the centerline and collided with two other vehicles. The investigating state trooper reported Turner collided head-on with a 2013 Dodge Avenger. The driver of the avenger, 58-year-old Tony Ray Young of Mineral Springs, was killed in the accident. A passenger, listed as an unnamed minor in the report, was injured.

No injuries occurred in the third vehicle, according to the investigating state trooper. Road and weather conditions at the time of the accident were reported as clear and dry.

The investigation continued following the accident with the authorities issuing a warrant for access to Turner’s cellphone. Charges were then formally filed yesterday.

A toxicology report alleges Turner was over the legal limit in terms of alcohol consumption when the accident occurred. The negligent homicide charge is a Class B Felony which can carry a sentence of five to 20 years in prison. In addition, Turner has been charged with second degree battery for the minor injured in the accident. That charge can carry an additional sentence of three to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

RSVP for meeting of new economic development group in Sevier County    01/27/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County residents interested in joining a broad effort to increase economic development in the area are invited to attend a meeting next month.

The annual FRIENDS Foundation meeting for 2021 will take place at the Herman Dierks Park Community Building in De Queen on Friday, February 5, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. The meeting is open to the public.

Topics to be discussed at the meeting will include future projects, funding progress toward the annual budget, and potential projects to establish the Sevier County Opportunity Zone Investment Fund. Masks will be required, and social distancing will be encouraged.
Economic development officials in Sevier County announced the new foundation late last year. They say the group’s goal is benefiting the county and its economic environment.

The foundation recently became an official 501 (c) (3) with the IRS allowing donors to receive tax credits. This foundation aims for funds to be raised from donations to assist Sevier County and its residents in cultivating and completing economic development projects and activities.

FRIENDS stands for Funding Retention and Increasing Efforts for Notable Economic Development in Sevier County. It was created last year with citizens of Sevier County in mind. Anyone who donates a minimum of $100 automatically becomes a member of the FRIENDS Foundation and with the stated mission that raised funds will help Sevier County grow financially. In addition, organizers say the organization will provide the Sevier County Economic Development department with the opportunity to receive money for business development, training, advertising, and assistance with projects to benefit the local area. Maurer said the foundation will look for projects within opportunity zones while also keeping site selection, business retention, and training efforts in mind to help with business development.
For questions on becoming a FRIENDS member or to RSVP for the FRIENDS Foundation’s annual meeting, contact Sevier County Economic Development Director Tiffany Maurer at <a href=”mailto:tmaurer@cccua.edu”>tmaurer@cccua.edu</a> or 870-584-1184.

Fran Williams appointed to Lockesburg City Council     01/27/2021

The Lockesburg City Council has a new councilor after one was appointed last week to fill a vacant seat.

The council met in regular session on Jan. 19 to make the appointment as well as discuss a number of other items of city business. The council addressed the vacant seat first. The seat was left open after the resignation of Donna Gallaher on Dec. 31 of last year. With the resignation being in the middle of her term, the council was required to make a special appointment to the seat.

Two candidates expressed interest in filling the position: Fran Williams and Tracy Sutton. Following an executive session, the Lockesburg City Council voted 3-2 in favor of Williams. Williams was sworn in immediately after the vote and will now fill the vacant seat on the Lockesburg City Council for the remainder of Gallaher’s term. In addition to Williams, the current city council includes Claudine Tompkins, Sandy Webb, Rodger Ridley, Bill Roberts and Steven Hill. They were sworn in by Mayor Danny Ruth during last week’s meeting as was city recorder/treasurer Becky Jegstrup.

The council also discussed a possible land swap deal between the city and Lloyd and Janet Ballard of Lockesburg. After a discussion the issue was tabled to allow the city to consult with the city attorney and tax assessor’s office. The deal is expected to be revisited at the council’s next meeting.In other business, the council voted to keep its existing monthly meeting time and date. Future regular meetings will still be held on the second Tuesday of each month beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The council then approved a $3,500 bid from J&M Displays for the city’s 2021 Fourth of July Celebration. The council also approved a $480 order with the De Queen Rotary Club for 12 flags through the club’s Boulevard of Fl