Local News Archive

WOMAN JAILED AFTER AUTHORITIES RESPOND TO CALL NEAR LOCKESBURG 01/31/20

A De Queen woman was held in The Sevier County Jail after Deputies with The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call near Lockesburg this week.
According to a press release provided by the Sheriff’s Department, Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Highway 317 South East of Lockesburg on Thursday, January 30th to assess a report of a suspicious person in a pasture.
Upon arriving at the scene, Deputies noted coming in contact with 43-year-old Geishla Driver of De Queen and it was reported that Driver appeared to be under the influence of narcotics and was unaware of her location. Deputies also reportedly noticed Geishla attempting to conceal a “marijuana cigarette” in her hand.
Once Geishla was taken into custody, deputies discovered a smoking device and a small amount of a crystal-like substance, believed to be methamphetamine in her possession. Geishla was transported to The Sevier County Jail and charged with drug paraphernalia as well as possession of a controlled substance. Her bond was set at $25,000.

APPEAL REJECTED IN POLK COUNTY 01/31/20

The Arkansas Supreme Court Thursday rejected the appeal of death row inmate Karl Roberts of Polk County who argued that he shouldn’t be executed because he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Justices upheld a lower court’s ruling against Roberts, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1999 killing of his 12-year-old-niece Andi Brewer. Brewer’s body was found near Cove. Brewer’s mother, Republican State Representative Rebecca Petty, has served in the Arkansas House since 2015.
Arkansas doesn’t have any executions scheduled and its supply of lethal injection drugs expired last year. The state has said it is not actively searching for lethal injection drugs.
Roberts’ attorney had argued that the inmate’s schizophrenia hampered his defense during his 2000 trial in Polk County because he believed that his jailers were secretly recording him.
The court, however, said there’s no categorical prohibition on sentencing a person with schizophrenia to death. It also said his claim of incompetency wasn’t ready to be adjudicated since no execution date has been set.

INTERNSHIPS ANNOUNCED FOR ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMISSION 01/31/20

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is accepting applications for summer internships until Feb. 28, 2020. These internships, funded by sales of the AGFC’s Conservation License Plates, let students gain hands-on training and experience needed to compete for a future career in conservation. Betty Bryant, internship coordinator for the AGFC, says many students are interested in careers in wildlife management, fisheries, wildlife health and conservation education, but often lack the hands-on experience to stand out from the crowd of applicants.
“Each year thousands of students graduate from college, but very few have real-world experience,” Bryant said. “Internships not only give them that training, but they also help them decide if the career they’re studying for really does fit them.”
Internships are available across the state in conservation education, wildlife management, fisheries management, and wildlife law enforcement.
To qualify for an internship, an applicant:
Must have a declared degree in the conservation field. Must have 60 hours of college credits earned by the time the Internship begins.
At the time of application, must be a college student, graduated within the previous 12 months, or currently enrolled in a post-graduate program.
Must have a 2.5 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
Selected interns will be responsible to coordinate with their college or university to obtain course credit for their work.
Applications should include a current resume, a one-page cover letter, a copy of college transcripts and a completed application form.
Visit https://jobs.agfc.com for more information on the internship program and a list of openings for 2020.

VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE 01/31/20

Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston is encouraging all Arkansans to exercise their civil rights by getting registered and voting in the Preferential Primary and Nonpartisan General Election being held on March 3rd. The deadline to register to vote if you are not already registered is Monday, February 3rd. Arkansans can obtain a voter registration application from their local county clerk’s office, public assistance office, public library, revenue office, military recruiting center, or you can download one from the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.arkansas.gov.
If you are already registered to vote, you do not need to register again. You can check your voter registration information, polling location, or view a sample ballot at www.voterview.org.
If you have moved or your information has changed and you need to update your voter registration, you have until February 28th to make this change before the March 3rd election.
To check your voter registration information, find a polling location or view a sample ballot, visit VoterView.org

WESTERMAN WEEKLY 01/30/20
Arkansas Fourth District U.S Congressman, Bruce Westerman’s weekly interview with Jay and Wiley of The morning Brew on KDQN:

Audio Player

SEVIER COUNTY LIBRARIES IMPACTED BY MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE 01/30/20

In 2018, Arkansas voters passed Issue 5 with the purpose of increasing the state minimum wage from $8.50 per hour up to $9.25 by 2019. This year, on January 1st of 2020, the minimum wage went up to $10 per hour and next year in 2021, the pay rate for workers in the natural state will increase to $11 per hour.
With the federal minimum pay per hour at just $7.25, on paper, Arkansas appears to be ahead of the curve, offering higher wages than the surrounding states of Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Though increasing the pay rate per hour each year has been seen as a positive move for many, some local Arkansas agencies with set budgets have found themselves struggling to adjust to the change.
In Sevier County, the Library system is one of the agencies affected most by the mandated increase. With more than 17,000 residents calling Sevier County home, many local citizens rely on the libraries for computer access, research, academic assistance, activities for children, learning opportunities and much more.
The locations in De Queen, Horatio, Gillham and Lockesburg allow the Library system to provide needed resources and information for the community through books, magazines, newspapers and public internet access. The agency also provides office and administrative services like faxing, copying, scanning and a confidential notary is featured on staff as well.
The staffing department is an area that the minimum wage increase has affected the most.
According to Head Librarian, Johnye Fisher, hours for part time employees were reduced at the Gillham Library per advisement from The county Quorum court last year in anticipation of the wage increase for 2020. Gillham was chosen for the reduction in hours due to it being the lowest populated branch of the Sevier County Library system.
Two more positions in the system were cut back on hours as well, and the agency has been seeking volunteers to help the libraries continue to serve the community in spite of the cutbacks.
With the reduction of hours already implemented, the question of location closures has presented itself, though the topic is not unfamiliar to Johnye, who has served the county as head librarian for nearly 10 years.
At the end of 2015, the Ben Lomond Branch of the Library system closed permanently. According to Johnye, one way to prevent another Branch from closing is through the help of volunteers. Ideally, the volunteers would serve as staff who help the library operations continue as normal, without affecting the agency’s already tight budget.
The volunteers may help the branches hang on, but the main thing that would make the libraries thrive is economic development in the county.

Johnye explained that the only way for the library budget to increase is through property taxes. When more businesses are established and more houses are built within the county, the libraries receive a millage of 1/10th for the personal property taxes.
For example, if a resident pays a personal property tax of $500, the library receives 50 cents of that tax paid. Though economic development is the main route for increasing the Library budget, the branches also graciously accept both monetary and book donations so they can continue providing literature and resources to the community.
Some local businesses have taken it upon themselves to supply some of those resources directly, as Domtar Paper Mill has provided paper donations to the library since before Johnye even joined the library staff.
In December, each branch was gifted a gracious donation of 100 children’s books ranging from Pre-K through early readers. The donation was provided by The Brownstone Book Fund, a private foundation based in New York City that focuses on fostering literacy and encouraging parents and kids to read together.
Children and families in the local area are invited to check out the new collection featured at each location.
Sevier County is currently in the midst of growing economically and new businesses as well as tourist attractions are in the works for the area, however the Library systems will continue to hold a tight budget as the minimum wage hike hits $11 per hour next year.
Johnye, her staff and The Library Board of Trustees will be continuing to work hard to keep from closing another branch, however community assistance is always appreciated and will help the worthy cause.
To donate time, supplies, books or money to The Sevier County Library system please call 870-584-4364.
Visit seviercountylibrary.com for more information about services offered.

ARKANSAS AG RELEASES TIPS FOR TAX SEASON 01/30/20

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has issued a warning for residents during tax season. As she states that “tax season is like hunting season for con artists.” Between the fear of making a mistake on your taxes, and the increased sophistication of scammers, opportunities are endless for bad actors looking to line their pockets during tax season. Each year, many scammers pose as agents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by sending emails with fake tax bills and transcripts to Arkansans. The malicious emails often include an attachment that is not a document from the IRS, but instead infectious malware. The email may even threaten arrest if payment is not received immediately using a gift card, prepaid debt card or wire transfer.
“No matter how convincing an email from an IRS employee may seem, even using your name and home address, no government entity will ever ask for payment from an untraceable source,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This is just another shameful attempt at playing with Arkansans’ emotions and stealing their hard-earned money.”
The increase in data breaches has given criminals more access to sensitive information than ever before, helping make their schemes more believable.
Consumers who receive this scam via email should forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
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 consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

ONLINE PAYMENTS NOW BEING ACCEPTED BY COSL FOR DELINQUENT PROPERTIES 01/30/20

Property owners who have delinquent real estate taxes can now pay online, the Commissioner of State Lands Office announced. “We’re working to accommodate property owners and modernize the office,” Commissioner Tommy Land said. “As part of that, we’ve begun accepting online payments for delinquent real estate taxes.”

It’s the latest step the COSL office has taken to simplify the process of redeeming tax-delinquent real estate.
“We spent much of 2019 significantly reducing red tape for owners trying to redeem real estate,” Land said. “A major part of that was reducing the paperwork required and expanding the payment options we could accept. We appreciate the Arkansas General Assembly for approving the legislation that cleared the path for this.”

In the past, only the property owner or the owner’s heir could redeem tax-delinquent real estate from the COSL office. Heirs seeking to redeem were required to submit documentation of their claim to the land.
Changes implemented mid-2019 allow anyone to redeem real estate back into the owner’s name. “What we’ve done simply streamlines the redemption process,” Land said. “It does not change the ownership; it just gets the property out of our office and back onto the county’s tax rolls.”

Accepting payments online expands that simplification process.

“Our office will still have some in-house work to do after receiving payment, so this is not instant redemption,” Land said. “But it will be faster and easier. Now taxpayers can redeem property at their convenience, without worrying about mail delivery or office hours.”

The COSL accepts online payments at its website, https://www.cosl.org.

STOLEN TRUCK RECOVERED IN SEVIER COUNTY OVER THE WEEKEND 01/29/20

Authorities in De Queen have reported that a vehicle stolen from a local gas station has been recovered and a suspect was taken in to custody.
According to a report from The De Queen Police Department, Sergeant Wayne Baker was notified by Officer Jarrin Platt that a call about a stolen pick-up truck had come in around 5:10 p.m. on Friday, January 24th. The truck was reportedly taken from the “Tiger Mart” store on Colin Raye Drive in De Queen.
Chief Deputy Chad Dowdle, Investigator Brian Hankins and Deputy Kevin Cross of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department assisted in handling the call.
The officers took a report from Jordy Roldan, who informed police that he left his unlocked truck running in the parking lot while he went inside the store to purchase coffee and the truck was gone when he came back outside. The vehicle, a 2002 Red F150 Crew Cab, also had Roldan’s Iphone 6s Plus inside at the time of the theft.
Authorities contacted the phone service company associated with the cell and used GPS coordinates to locate the truck in real time, which was reported to have been traveling North on Interstate 30 towards Malvern, Arkansas. Authorities apprehended the man found driving the truck and arrested 40-year-old Jason Bodenheimer and transported him back to Sevier County. The suspect was charged with theft of property and held in the County Jail.
Video footage from the convenience store later showed Bodenheimer on camera getting into the driver’s seat of Roldan’s truck at the time of the theft.
The following day on Saturday, January 25th authorities were informed that Roldan was able to get his vehicle back without damages.

ASHDOWN PHARMACY PROGRAM NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED 01/29/20

Starting during the 2019-2020 school year, Ashdown High School students were given the opportunity to be part of the new Pharmacy Technician Program. Pharmacy Tech Instructor Amy Silva received notice in January that the program at AHS is now nationally recognized by the National PTCB as a PTCB-Recognized Education Training Program! A press release from PTCB said, “Those who have completed your program will be eligible to apply for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) starting in 2020.” Students will also be able to receive a variety of complimentary benefits after completing this program.
The Pharmacy Technician program at AHS is a full-year course that covers Pharmacy Practice as well as Pharmacology. Eight of the 10 fastest-growing careers in Arkansas are within the healthcare field. The goal of adding this program is two-fold. The first is to provide students with the opportunity to be career ready upon graduation if they choose Pharmacy Technician as a life-long career. The second is to provide students with the opportunity to utilize this as a stepping stone while furthering their education in the healthcare field. The program will provide students the opportunity to receive an annual income of over $32,000 starting out with an hourly wage averaging $16.36 per hour. Jobs in this field have increased and continue to be in demand. Ashdown Public School Superintendent Casey Nichols said, “I am so proud of Mrs. Silva and her dedication to our students and the example she sets for them. We are excited to offer such an amazing opportunity for our students at Ashdown. They will be employable in this career field immediately upon graduation. The national recognition for this program they have received continues to set us apart in the opportunities we provide for our students at Ashdown High School. “

BOIL WATER ORDER LIFTED IN LITTLE RIVER COUNTY 01/29/20

The Department of Health has released the ‘Boil Water’ Notice confirmed on 1/27/2020 8:36:03 AM by Brandon Walraven for the approximately 800 customers west and north of the Wallace Pump Station located at 2501 Hwy 32 West. 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 complete loss in normal system pressure.

Bacteriological samples taken on Monday, January 27, 2020 were found to be free of bacterial contamination and a satisfactory disinfectant level has been established throughout the distribution system. The water is therefore considered ‘Safe’ for human consumption and the ‘Boil Water’ notice is hereby lifted.

DE QUEEN TEACHER WINS NATIONAL AWARD 01/29/20

The National Art Education Association has named Amber Lemser, of De Queen, AR, to receive the 2020 Arkansas Art Educator Award. This prestigious award, determined through a peer review of nominations, honors an outstanding member from each state or province association whose service and contribution to art education merits recognition and acclaim. The award will be presented at the NAEA National Convention in Minneapolis, MN, March 26-28, 2020.
NAEA President Thom Knab states, “This award is being given to recognize excellence in professional accomplishment and service by a dedicated art educator. Amber Lemser exemplifies the highly qualified art educators active in education today: leaders, teachers, students, scholars, and advocates who give their best to their students and the profession.”

De Queen Schools Superintendent Jason Sanders stated “We are extremely proud of Ms. Lemser and what she does in the art classroom for our students. She is very deserving of this award. This is yet again proof that De Queen Schools has some of the best educators anywhere in Arkansas.”

Founded in 1947, the National Art Education Association is the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts educators. Members include elementary, middle, and high school visual arts educators; college and university professors; university students preparing to become art educators; researchers and scholars; teaching artists; administrators and supervisors; and art museum educators—as well as more than 54,000 students who are members of the National Art Honor Society. We represent members in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, U.S. Possessions, most Canadian Provinces, U.S. military bases around the world, and 25 foreign countries.
The mission of NAEA is to advance visual arts education to fulfill human potential and promote global understanding.
For more information about the association and its awards program, visit the NAEA website at www.arteducators.org

SEVIER COUNTY ELECTION COMMISSION MEETING 01/29/20

There will be a meeting of the Sevier County Election Commission on Monday and Tuesday, February 3 and 4, 2020 at 9:00 A.M. The meeting will be held in the County Courthouse in the County Clerk’s Office. This meeting is to conduct Logic and Accuracy Testing of election equipment. There will also be Public Test done. There will also be discussion of other matters relating to the upcoming Primary Election.
This meeting is open to the public.

ASHLYN CHAMBERS WINS MISS DHS PAGEANT 01/28/20
Left to right, Perla Zapata: 2nd Runner-up and Miss Congeniality, Ashlyn Chambers: Miss De Queen High School and Talent Winner, Abbygail Ponce: 1st Runner-up and People’s Choice.
Saturday night, De Queen High School held its 44th annual Miss De Queen High School Pageant. Ashlyn Chambers won the title of Miss De Queen High School. She also won the talent portion of the pageant with a Tap Dance to “High Hopes” by Panic at the Disco.
Miss De Queen High School Contestants
Left to Right Back: Jinnefer Lagunas, Haylee Melendez, Ashlyn Chambers, Abbygail Ponce, Perla Zapata, Emily Avalos, and Aubrey Seymour.
Left to Right Front: Hailee Alvarez and Alicia Salazar.
DENTAL HEALTH PRIORITIZED AT HORATIO ELEMENTARY 01/28/20
Heather Tuttle from Arkansas Children’s Hospital has been preparing students at Horatio Elementary for the upcoming Dental Sealant Program. To get students prepared, she explained that there are no “ouchies” and no shots! The Dental Sealant Program consists of a team that provides oral health education and preventative care such as dental screenings, fluoride applications and dental sealants to children’s teeth to protect them from cavities through adulthood. The team travels across the state, sometimes collaborating with local dental providers to reach more than 60 schools and 6,000 students every year. Students are also taught about important habits like brushing and flossing through the “teACHout,” an educational component of the Dental Sealant Program.
SUMMER TRIP INFORMATIONAL MEETING FOR PARENTS OF LOCAL YOUTH 01/28/20
A summer trip to New York City and Washington D.C for students in the local area has been announced by Stacey Faulkenberry.
This experience will be a supervised trip open to all students who will be in the 6th-12th Grades for the 2020-2021 School year. This travel opportunity will provide local youth with an opportunity to make memories, sight-see and experience different aspects of culture and view landmarks in a new environment. Students do not have to attend De Queen Public Schools to be eligible to go on the trip since the trip is NOT sponsored by De Queen Public Schools.
A Parent Meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, January 29th at 5:00 pm in the De Queen Middle School Library.
Parents of interested students are encouraged to come learn more about the trip and all that the students will see, do and experience in Washington D.C. and New York City.
Contact Stacy Faulkenberry if you have any questions
Email: sfaulkenberry@dequeenleopards.org

Link to video posted below:

https://worldstrides.com/itineraries/washington-d-c-and-new-york-city/

DE QUEEN HIGH SCHOOL QUIZ BOWL TEAM GOES UNDEFEATED AT TOURNAMENT MONDAY 01/28/20

The De Queen quiz bowl team competed Monday, January 27th in the Mena invitational tournament held on the U of A Rich Mountain campus. They went undefeated winning the tournament. A total of eleven teams competed.

           GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S WEEKLY ADDRESS: Skip the Trip 01/28/20
From Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson.

“Today I’d like to talk about the ways the state Revenue Office has made life easier for its customers – who are the taxpayers of Arkansas.
When I took office in January 2015, I asked agency leaders to identify state services that we could streamline and simplify. At the time, the state revenue offices offered online tag renewal, a valuable service that saved Arkansans a trip to the Revenue Office. But we thought we could do more.
So the folks at the 134 revenue offices across Arkansas put their heads together, and as of today, you can conduct nearly all of your revenue business online on a computer or a phone. You can do pretty much whatever you want while you’re on an evening walk or even watching a football game.
They call it “Skip the Trip.”
If you lose your driver’s license, a brief visit to MyDMV.Arkansas.Gov allows you to apply for a replacement, and they’ll mail it to your house.
If you want a personalized license tag, you can check to see whether another car owner already is using the name. If it is available, you can order it online.
The possibilities go on: You can check the status of your car title, transfer vehicle ownership, and calculate sales tax.
In 2018, Arkansas became one of the first states to allow complete registration of a vehicle online.
To put this in perspective, in 2017, Arkansans registered over 643,000 vehicles at revenue offices throughout the state.
Skipping the trip would save on average an hour for each registration. If only half of those registrations occurred online, Arkansans would save 36 years of driving and standing in line.
There is a benefit in this for those who prefer personal interaction – the lines will be considerably shorter.
Give it a try at MyDMV.Arkansas.Gov. The website is taxpayer-friendly and will save you time, effort, and gasoline. The website recently was honored with the Excellence in Government Partnership Award by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
Time is our most valuable commodity. Once you’ve used it, you can’t get it back. Skip the trip, and you’ll have more time to do something important.
Don’t be like the gentleman who thought he preferred to stand in line and conduct his business in person. Last year, he decided to go the high-tech route. When his new stickers arrived in his mailbox, he quickly realized he should have skipped the trip sooner.”

DE QUEEN MAYOR SURPRISES FIRE DEPARTMENT WITH GRANT FROM WEYERHAEUSER FOR NEW HELMETS 01/27/20
The second half of new and improved helmets recently obtained by The De Queen Fire Department have been provided by a grant received from local land and timber producer, the Weyerhaeuser company.
The helmets have a variety of features that assist the firefighters with safety and visibility when responding to calls and extinguishing flames at the scene of a fire.
De Queen mayor, Jeff Brown applied for the grant without telling Fire Chief Dennis Pruitt or any of the department members in advance so that the news would come as a surprise.
The funds were applicable to be used for any projects related to the city of De Queen and Brown says he knew the first half of the helmets had been purchased last year, so the city still had a need to provide the additional helmets for the remaining firefighters.
Brown applied for the opportunity back in September 2019 and the funds were awarded in the amount of $4,700 the following month in October, 2019 and the helmets were handed out by Brown at the most recent Fire Department meeting held earlier this month.
Brown expressed thanks to Weyerhaeuser for their generosity in providing the grant money, and the firefighters then expressed their thanks to the Mayor for seeking the funds. The appreciation was announced by surprising Brown with a quilt at the January Fire Department meeting. The firefighters each pitched in their own money to have a quilt hand sewn with the department logo and each member signed the quilt as a token of appreciation for the mayor’s kindness.
The De Queen Fire Department is located across from city hall on North 2nd street in De Queen and can be reached at 584-7224 for questions and safety concerns.
MAN JAILED IN SEVIER COUNTY AFTER AUTHORITIES RESPOND TO CALL ABOUT GUNSHOTS IN HORATIO 01/27/20
A man was jailed for multiple charges after authorities responded to a call regarding someone being shot at near Horatio over the weekend.
A report released by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department states that deputies were dispatched to a residence on Ramasco Lane East of Horatio On Saturday, January 25th.
Upon arrival at the scene, Deputies noted coming in to contact with Charles Ramasco III of Horatio. Charles reportedly stated that he and his uncle were outside when Charles Ramasco Jr., age 59 of Horatio had fired seven shots from a rifle at them from the back porch of the residence.
It was reported that Charles Ramasco III had an active protective order against Charles Ramasco Jr. at the time of the incident.
Deputies noted that Ramasco Jr. was intoxicated at the scene and also refused to answer any questions regarding the incident. Ramasco Jr. was transported to the Sevier County Jail and has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault as well as violation of a protection order.
COUNTY 4-H CLUBS REORGANIZING   01/27/2020
The Sevier County 4-H clubs are reorganizing and seeking new members and leaders. The purpose of these clubs is to give youth ages 5-19 an opportunity to participate in the youth development educational program of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Youth in 4-H clubs will learn life skills, enhance leadership skills, and increase self-esteem while serving in a number of community service projects. Youth in 4-H clubs have an opportunity to compete in a number of competitive activities, attend camps, and earn scholarships for education.
The following is a list of the Sevier County 4-H clubs: Chapel Hill 4-H Club, Happy Face 4-H Club, Lakeside 4-H Club, Infinity∞ 4-H Club, Froglevel Hoppers 4-H Club, Shooting Sports 4-H Club, Teen Leaders 4-H Club, Goin’ Showin’ 4-H Club, Legacy 4-H After School Club and Community Changers 4-H Club.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
For more information about meetings, 4-H club membership or program benefits, contact Sevier County Cooperative Extension Service located in the Adams Building on the UA Cossatot Campus in De Queen or call (870) 584-3013.
ASHDOWN BAND STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN FOUR STATES BANDMASTER CLINIC   01/24/20
Nine members of the Ashdown High School Band were selected and able to participate  in the Four States Bandmasters Clinic January 16-18 culminating in concert band performances held at Texas High’s Sullivan Art’s Performing Center.

Front (l-r):  Liza Embry, Reba Mahaffey, T’Nia Washington, and Breanna Noble
Back (l-r):  Brayden Porter, Xavier Daniels, Anthony Knudson, Jeb Parker and Noah Pounds
BOND REDUCTION DENIED IN NEGLIGENT HOMOCIDE CASE 01/27/20
A Polk County resident charged with Battery and Negligent Homicide pertaining to a fatal traffic accident last year has been denied a bond reduction. 22 year old Chance Manasco of Mena remains in the Howard County Jail on a 50 thousand dollar bond. He is due back in court again in March.
Authorities said Manasco was driving a Chevrolet Traverse on Highway 84 near Umpire last February when he lost control of the vehicle in a curve. The vehicle overturned several times eventually striking a tree before coming to rest. A passenger, 19 year old Rachel Norman of Wickes, died at the scene from her injuries. Manasco and three minors in the vehicle were injured according to police reports.
State troopers working the wreck said they detected the odor of alcohol coming from Manasco and testing conducted by the State Crime Lab found Manasco’s blood alcohol level was above the legal limit.
A reconstruction of the accident by state police determined Manasco’s vehicle had been traveling at speeds approaching 90 miles per hour just before the accident occurred.
DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 01/27/20
Millions of men, women, and children are trafficked every year. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, reports of trafficking can be found in every state including Arkansas. In fact, 121 calls from Arkansas came into the hotline last year resulting in 41 possible cases identified.

January has been declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. It can happen in any suburb, rural town, or city.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline reports that of the calls placed from Arkansas last year, 35 relayed information with a high indication that trafficking was taking place. The hotline also reports 33 calls made were from victims or survivors.

In recent years, the Arkansas General Assembly has passed legislation addressing human trafficking. In the 2019 Regular Session, we passed the following:

ACT 937 requires the Department of Education and the Department of Human Services to collaborate on providing awareness and training materials to local school districts on human trafficking that include strategies for the prevention of child trafficking.
ACT 842 includes evidence of a person’s prior sexual conduct that was committed when the person was a victim of human trafficking under the state’s rape shield law. Rape shield laws forbid certain evidence in a trial that is believed to be prejudicial and harassing.
ACT 536 amends the offenses that disqualify an individual from receiving a first time teaching license or renewal of a teaching license, including adding as disqualifying offenses the trafficking a person or patronizing a victim of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a crime that hides in plain sight. Often, it simply takes an astute police officer, hotel worker, or bystander to notice and speak up—and save a victim.
To report trafficking call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733. You can also chat live with an operator at www.humantraffickinghotline.org

INCLUSIVE PLAYGROUND PROJECT GOAL ESTABLISHED FOR DE QUEEN 01/24/20
(Pictured above, an inclusive playground in Bryant, Arkansas, opened in 2018. The 5th play space designed by Architect Dave Roberts, proposed landscape architect of the playground project in De Queen)
The next big project goal for Sevier County was announced to community leaders and business owners during a lunch meeting held at the UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus Wednesday afternoon, January 22nd. The meeting was coordinated by County Economic Development Director Lisa Taylor and the De Queen Rotary club, who sponsored a pasta and salad meal for attendees.
The project goal was revealed to be an inclusive playground proposal for the city of De Queen . The information was explained through a program lead by Presenter Jill Moore and Landscape Architect Dave Roberts.
Potentially, the inclusive playground would be located inside Herman Dierks park and the feature would allow for children with all types of needs to have a safe, welcoming place to play and learn.
Presenter, Jill Moore reported that research shows the special needs community collectively spent more than $17 billion dollars on tourism and travel in recent years.
As the initiative to grow Sevier County as a tourist destination continues to gain momentum, the addition of an inclusive playground would contribute value to those efforts and the community would benefit from the new attraction in a variety of ways.
The playground will provide special needs families a space for a child to “be a real kid” and experience fun interactions inside a safe environment. Locally, fun and learn land school has more than 100 students who would benefit from the playground.
Both Moore and Roberts noted that families will travel from far and wide to spend time at parks with ADA friendly structures and those travelers then spend tourism dollars on hotels, restaurants, fuel at gas stations and shopping at boutiques, which benefits the economy in Sevier County.
Features at the inclusive playground would require a wheelchair accessible setup with safety enclosures and unitary surfacing, as well as lots of shade areas for children with sensitivities to the sun or similar conditions.
According to Jill Moore, one in every four Americans is living with some kind of disability, even if it isn’t physically noticeable to the general public. Disabilities go beyond physical setbacks, as autism, the deaf, blind and those with sensory issues are also listed in the American Disabilities and Act and inclusion of children who need such accommodations would be considered in the design of a playground for De Queen.
Moore says these playgrounds are not just for  “kids in wheelchairs” as she reports these types of attractions benefit everyone.
In order to bring the inclusive park to Sevier County, financial support is needed from the community. The estimated cost for the proposed playground is more than $300,000 and the money can be obtained through several different efforts collectively.
Donations from civic organizations, clubs, groups, churches, private donations, state and federal grants, corporate sponsorships and fundraising efforts can all be combined toward the common goal of constructing an inclusive playground in De Queen. It is also possible for funds from a city or county to be used to match funds that are raised or donated.
Naming opportunities are also available for businesses who pledge a gift amount to the project, however, Jill says even just sharing information on social media and spreading the word about an inclusive playground is a way to support the project aside from donating money
For information on naming sponsorships and assisting in the inclusive playground project, please reach out to The De Queen Rotary club.
More information about the pending inclusive playground project in De Queen will be reported as details become available to KDQN.
DE QUEEN QUIZ BOWL TEAM WINS TOURNAMENT 01/24/20
The De Queen Junior High School Quiz Bowl team hosted and competed in the 5A South Regional Tournament at the CCCUA De Queen Campus on Friday, January 17, 2020. The Junior High team was undefeated and earned 1st Place in the tournament. The team will advance to the State Competition February 8 at Watson Chapel High School in Pine Bluff, AR. The team is made-up of students in 7th – 9th graders. McGuyre Moore and Altin Kight tied for high point scorers and will be on the all-tournament.
MARGARET DANIEL EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION PRESENTS GRANT TO AHS PROGRAMS 01/24/20
Pictured l-r: Board Member Thad Bishop, Board Member Kari Harger, AHS Baseball Coach Chuck Cross, Cameron Reed, Marty Lansdell, AHS Teacher Stephanie Ringgold, Gavin Ketcher, Derek Hilton, Trinity Lewis and Mason Bush
The Margaret Daniel Educational Foundation presented an $8000 grant to the AHS Computer Science Department along with the AHS baseball team to acquire a batting and pitching Rapsodo camera. This device will record pitches, spins, angles, and swings to help perfect student’s baseball skills and provide computer science students the real-time data to analyze and communicate with the players and coaches. Students working with Python and R along with the analysis of the Rapsody will provide AHS students with more marketable skills for the many high demand internships and careers in data analysis. Mrs. Ringgold, AHS computer science teacher along with alumni Dr. Tom Fomby and Anthony Rhône have communicated frequently to look for challenging and engaging opportunities for our students. This grant, along with previous support for the Margaret Daniel Educational Foundation makes our school one of a kind to have such training and equipment.
Coach Chuck Cross and coach Tyler Sheppard have been tracking data by hand for all the players for several years. Connecting with the computer science department will provide many more students career and /or college opportunities. Many students love sports but may not go beyond high school to play. Having job opportunities that involve data analysis is another venue for students to explore. Students with Rapsodo analysis work along with R and Python will be able to apply and procure jobs that are available and in demand.
UA COSSATOT MAKES LIST OF TOP ONLINE COMMUNITY COLLEGES 01/24/20

Intelligent.com is a trusted resource for online degree rankings and higher education planning. They recently announced their national community college list for 2020 listing the top 60 online community colleges in the United States. UA Cossatot was included on this list and was also named the “Most Affordable Online Community College” in the nation.
After comprehensive research, UA Cossatot was included in this list. Of the top 60 community colleges, UA Cossatot was ranked at number 15.
The 2020 rankings are calculated through a unique scoring system, which includes student engagement, potential return on investment, and leading third-party evaluations. Intelligent.com analyzed 286 schools, on a scale of 0 to 100, with only 60 making it to the final list.
Students who choose any one of these online schools are expected to gain employment at a faster rate. Intelligent.com provides unbiased research to help students make informed decisions about higher education programs.
Dr. Steve Cole, Chancellor of UA Cossatot said, on the rankings, “It is certainly an honor to be on any list that shows we are creating tremendous value for our students. We feel that when students choose us, they made a thoughtful decision based on many things, including affordability and employment once they are finished. We help students check both of those boxes at UA Cossatot”.
UA Cossatot was the first Arkansas institution of higher education to offer a degree completely online and continues to lead the way in the number of courses and programs offered online. UA Cossatot also rewards online students by offering most online courses free of textbook costs. To learn more about these opportunities, please visit www.cccua.edu.

ARKANSAS AG SEEKING INTERNS FOR SUMMER 2020 01/24/20

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced her office is now accepting applications for summer interns. The summer internship session will begin June 8, 2020.
“An internship with the Attorney General’s Office offers invaluable hands-on experience in the State’s top legal office,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I want to encourage careers in public service and help college students gain real-world involvement on issues that directly impact the people of Arkansas.”
Applicant packet information is available at ArkansasAG.gov under the Office tab.
The deadline to apply is March 31, 2020.
Some interns may be able to arrange for college credit for their internship depending upon the requirements of their college or university.
Any questions regarding the Attorney General’s Office internship program may be directed toward the Human Resources Department at internship@ArkansasAG.gov or (501) 682-2007.

CITY COUNCIL HEARS MASTER PLAN PROPOSAL AT RECENT MEETING 01/27/30

A quick city council meeting was held in De Queen Tuesday night, as a short list of agenda items were addressed in roughly 30 minutes.
After approving the previous meeting’s minutes, the resolution to continue holding council meetings on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall was approved. The aldermen then heard the master plan proposal from County Economic Development Director, Lisa Taylor.
The Master plan, as explained by Taylor, is a land use and infrastructure plan that establishes local goals, objectives and policies for community growth over the next 20-30 years. The proposal is not a legally binding agreement, but rather an organizational tool that prevents cities from becoming “plop and drop” communities with no specific layout or consistency involved in the coordination of new home and business developments.
Each new business, update to city roads, big financial move and new residential neighborhood will all be coordinated with the master plan for De Queen before construction on those projects could begin. The formal establishment of a master plan for the city of De Queen is expected to take between 18 months and two years to complete. Taylor noted that many big cities around the state have seen success through the master plan process.
Following the master plan discussion, Water superintendent Darren Higgins reported that the weather has caused a slight Delay in the Stilwell Water Tank project, but a completion date is still on track for the first week of February. The council approved a request from Higgins for a pressure wash job on a city tank in the amount of $5,000.
The council then made an amendment to the safe water drinking fee ordinance, which Mayor Jeff Brown explains is a change that has already gone into effect, but the council simply needed to reflect the change in the ordinance.

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Before adjourning, the council approved the reconfirmation of planning commission members Eduardo Abril, Patty Sharp and Linda Candelaria.
The next De Queen City Council meeting will be held February 4th at city hall, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the public is welcome.

DEPUTY INJURED DURING PURSUIT OF STOLEN VEHICLE THIS WEEK 01/23/20
Local Police are seeking information about a stolen vehicle that was involved in a pursuit that resulted in an accident causing injuries for a Sheriff’s Deputy.
A press release from the De Queen Police Department states that officer Jarrin Platt was dispatched to Baker’s Sales and service in reference to a break-in on Monday, January 20th, 2020 at approximately 10:46 a.m.
Officer Platt was advised that sometime between 12:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. someone had stolen a Grey 1997 Dodge Dakota extended cab truck, along with an assortment of wrenches, sockets, pliers, screwdrivers and tool boxes taken from the shop area.
Later that day, Officer Platt reported seeing the truck traveling West on highway 70 and he attempted to make a traffic stop on the vehicle. The driver of the stolen vehicle then fled West and a pursuit was initiated. The driver reportedly turned on stateline road and the pursuit continued for several miles and other officers began to assist in attempting to apprehend the suspect. One officer, Deputy Justin Gentry of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department was injured in a single-vehicle accident during the pursuit.
Deputy Gentry was extricated from the scene and Air Evac transported him to a local hospital.
On Tuesday, January 21st, Deputies of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department received information about the truck and recovered the vehicle on Miles road and transported it to Baker’s to be processed.
Deputy Gentry was reported to have had surgery on Tuesday. The officer received a broken arm and a fractured back in the accident and is currently recovering.
If anyone has information regarding the stolen truck, please contact Captain Sonny Kimmel of The De Queen Police Department or investigator Brian Hankins with The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department. Call 870-642-2213 or 870-642-2125.
AGFC SEEKING PUBLIC INPUT ON WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT SERVICES 01/23/20
As part of ongoing efforts to address conflicts between double-crested cormorants and wild and stocked fisheries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking for public input on future management options.
Future management actions built on a strong biological foundation ensure cormorant populations are managed responsibly and in compliance with federal laws and regulations, while balancing economic development, human health and safety, endangered species management and other priorities.
According to Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, “Arkansans are experiencing the harmful impact of double-crested cormorants across the state. As one of the top aquaculture producers in the nation, Arkansas and its fish farmers are suffering millions of dollars in losses as these avian predators consume critical inventory” . “I am glad the Department of Interior is taking this problem seriously and hope that further progress will come swiftly.”
Areas for public comment include but are not limited to: impacts on floodplains, wetlands, wild and scenic rivers or ecologically sensitive areas; impacts to other species of wildlife, including endangered or threatened species; and impacts on prime agricultural lands. Please see the Federal Register notice for more details.
The Fish and Wildlife service will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. The Service will hold public scoping meetings in the form of multiple webinars in February 2020.
More information about the rulemaking process, cormorants and meetings, including how to register, will be posted online at https://www.fws.gov/birds/management/managed-species/double-crested-cormorants.php.
POLICE PURSUIT ENDS IN ARREST FOR DE QUEEN MAN 01/22/20
On Monday, January 20th, 2020 at 2:15 am, Deputies of The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department were advised of a vehicle that had been stolen from The County Road Department.
A report from The Sheriff’s Department states that Deputies initiated a pursuit of the man driving the 2017 Ford Flatbed truck that had been stolen from The County Road Department. Deputies pursued the vehicle from De Queen to North of Horatio until the pursuit ended on Sycamore road East of De Queen. At that time, the driver, Christopher Hill, age 39 of De Queen was apprehended in police custody.
Christopher was transported to the Sevier County Jail in De Queen and charged with commercial burglary, (class C felony) theft of property (class B felony) and felony fleeing (class D felony).
Agencies assisting in the apprehension of the suspect include the 9th West Judicial Drug Task Force, The De Queen Police Department, and the Arkansas state police.
MAN AND WOMAN ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES SATURDAY IN SEVIER COUNTY 01/22/20
A man and woman were held in the Sevier County jail for multiple alleged crimes after authorities reported smelling intoxicants coming from inside a pulled over vehicle in De Queen over the weekend.
According to a report from the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, Deputies were searching the area around Dunn road to find a fleeing suspect on Saturday, January 18th. While in the area, the deputies came into contact with the driver of a Chevrolet impala, identified as 29-year-old Dustin Cano of De Queen. The passenger of the vehicle is listed in the police report as 26-year-old Megan Downs, also a resident of De Queen.
In addition to reporting the smell of intoxicants coming from inside the car, authorities also noted being aware that Dustin Cano had a suspended driver’s license at the time of the incident and asked him to exit the car.
Cano allegedly consented to a search of the vehicle and Deputies reported finding a pill bottle containing a “crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine” inside the car. Both suspects were arrested and charged with drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance. Cano was also ticketed for driving on a suspended license and the two were held in The Sevier County Jail for the charges.
DE QUEEN PAGEANT SATURDAY 01/22/20
This Saturday, January 25, De Queen High School will hold it’s 44th annual pageant fundraiser. The night will begin with the Mini and Little Miss DHS Pageant at 5:45 p.m., followed by the Miss De Queen High Pageant starting at 7:00 p.m. Admission is $5.00 per person.

Back row: Hailie Alvarez, Perla Zapata, Ashlyn Chambers, Haylie Melendez, Aubrey Seymour
Front row: Jinnefer Lagunas, Abbygail Ponce, Emily Avalos, and Alicia Salazar

STOLEN RAZOR RECOVERED BY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT 01/22/20

Stolen property was recovered by Deputies of The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department last week.

A report released by the department states that investigator Bryan Hankins recovered a 2016 polaris razor XP 1000, valued at $16,000. The razor had been reported stolen from a location in Lockesburg, Arkansas on November 25th, 2019. Howard county investigator Joey Davis assisted in the recovery of the razor and the investigation is ongoing at this time.

TRAIL BUILDING SCHOOL IN DE QUEEN THIS WEEK 01/22/20

Dr. Jason Lofton, of Legacy Initiatives has announced representatives of the International Mountain Biking Association will be hosting a mini Trail Building School January 23-25. This will involve a 3-4 hour classroom session with two days in the field at the lake actually breaking ground on the proposed trail. Those involved in the Trail Building School will serve as team leads on the future trail project.” Legacy Initiatives is seeking area residents who are interested in being a part of this exciting opportunity and laying the foundation for a vast variety of outdoor recreation opportunities in our area.

The plan is for there to be multi-use trails designed specifically for mountain biking but which can also be enjoyed by walkers, runners and hikers. The vision is to have trails surrounding the entire lake connecting all the campgrounds. This will create a vast recreation opportunity for local residents as well as a new tourism destination for mountain bikers. The popularity of cycling has grown significantly over the past decade with the cycling industry contributing approximately $6.2 billion to the US economy. There are an estimated 47.5 billion cyclists in the US and that number is growing every year.

Dr Lofton hopes the trails will encourage local residents to get out and enjoy our vast natural resources and that over time we can grow into a cycling community. “I want to see our part of the state get healthier and one way to do this is through cycling”. With our proximity to the Dallas Ft. Worth metroplex and Hochatown, Dr. Lofton believes there is a place for cycling tourism here in Southwest Arkansas. “Arkansas is quickly becoming a cycling tourism state thanks to what the Walton Foundation is doing in Northwest Arkansas. Our vision with Legacy Initiatives is to help improve the lives of the people in Sevier County and Southwest Arkansas. We believe by helping be a catalyst for outdoor recreation through these trails this can help stimulate our local economy, overall health and quality of life in our area”.

If you are interested in being a part of the Trail Building School please contact Jason Lofton at jason.lofton@legacymail.org or call his office at 870-642-4000.

SAVE THE DATE: MARGARET DANIEL EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION DINNER AND SILENT AUCTION 01/22/20

Community residents are encouraged to save the date for the upcoming Margaret Daniel Foundation Dinner and silent auction will be taking place on Saturday, February 15th at 7:00 p.m. The dinner will be held at Ashdown High School and tickets are available now. The cost is $50 and tickets can be purchased by calling 870-898-3562. Menu sponsors and table for 6 sponsors available.

HARVEST REGIONAL FOOD BANK COMING TO SEVIER COUNTY 01/22/20

Harvest Regional Food Bank is returning to Sevier County with its TEFAP USDA Commodity Mobile Pantry. “We have several communities in our rural service area that are not fully served by local partner agencies. To be sure that the residents in these areas are served, we are providing direct service where needed.” said Camille Coker Wrinkle, Executive Director of Harvest Regional Food Bank.

Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute TEFAP USDA Commodities directly from their truck on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 from 10 am to noon. The truck will be parked at the Horatio First United Methodist Church located at 304 S Pennock St., AR. Next Mobile Pantry will be on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

Recipients must bring photo identification verifying their age and residence in Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one per household. USDA TEFAP Commodities will be available for those who meet income requirements. Please note, the day of mobile pantry will be on a Wednesday.

MAN FACING DWI CHARGE IN SEVIER COUNTY 01/21/20
A De Queen man was held in the Sevier County jail after authorities responded to a noise complaint Sunday.
A report released by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department states that deputies arrived at the scene of a noise complaint call and came into contact with Daryl Rink, age 30 of De Queen on Sunday, January 19th. Officers noted finding that Rink had hit another vehicle with his own car and reportedly found that the man had been “consuming alcoholic beverages.” A series of field sobriety tests were administered before Rink was transported to the Sevier County Jail on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. While at the jail, he allegedly refused to take a breathalyzer exam and was charged with two crimes. Rink is now facing charges for DWI and refusal to submit to a breath test.
SEVIER COUNTY ORGANIZATION FILES PETITION TO INCLUDE ALCOHOL SALES ISSUE ON BALLOT FOR NOVEMBER ELECTION 01/20/20

Last week, a group of local business owners filed a petition for the legalization of alcohol sales to be included on the ballot for Sevier County voters in the November 2020 election. The petition was officially filed through the Sevier County courthouse on Friday, January 17th, 2020 by members of the Sevier County “EDGE” organization.
EDGE stands for Economic Development for Growth in Excellence.
According to the group’s facebook page, the organization was formed in May 2018 and is composed of local business owners seeking to “promote economic development through De Queen and Sevier County by forming an allegiance of volunteers that will act as a force to create community involvement and initiate change in order to achieve growth for local communities and businesses.”
The organization decided collectively to initiate the effort in order to “create revenue without raising taxes” in Sevier County, Arkansas. Neighboring communities of Ashdown, Arkansas and Broken Bow, Oklahoma are currently the closest locations for Sevier County residents to purchase liquor, though both trips require at least 20 minutes or more of travel time from De Queen. The city serves as the the county seat and its most populated town, as more than 6,000 residents call De Queen their home.
According to google maps, heading West from De Queen towards Broken Bow, Oklahoma is a 28-minute drive, while the 33-mile trip East from De Queen to Ashdown is estimated to take 41 minutes without excess traffic.
North of Sevier County,  there are “damp” liquor laws active for neighboring Polk County, Arkansas. Information on the official website for the city of Mena states that a few local restaurants are able to serve alcoholic drinks, however, there are  no liquor stores permitted to sell alcohol in Polk County.
EDGE is driving the initiative with the purpose of keeping those dollars spent on alcohol inside the Sevier county line.
If the petition gathers enough signatures and the ballot item were to be voted in, liquor stores would be allowed to open in Sevier County and area restaurants could file for permits to sell alcoholic beverages.

In the state of Arkansas, the population of an area dictates the number of liquor stores allowed in each county. Sevier County boasts more than 17,000 residents and a maximum of three liquor stores would be permitted within the county line.
In order for the item to pass, at least 2,503 signatures or 38 % of registered voters must sign the petition. Signing the petition doesn’t automatically mean a resident is in support of the item. A signature only indicates a desire for the issue to be put on the ballot, even if a resident shall choose to vote against it.
The petition will become available to the public through local business owners in retail stores and canvassing efforts around the county. Interested residents can request to view and sign the petition beginning Monday, January 20th.
AGFC RECENT MEETING HELD 01/21/20
Arkansas’s bear and elk harvests showed slight declines during the 2019 season, but biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said much of the decrease could be attributed to last year’s extremely productive hard mast crop.
There were 293 bears harvested with archery equipment, while 57 bears were harvested with muzzleloaders and 82 bears were taken using modern guns.
Arkansas bears are still slowly expanding in population numbers and a current study is in its last year of field research to establish a population baseline on bears in the Southwest Arkansas region and regulations will be based on those findings.
More information about elk and bear hunting updates and other news from the AGFC can be found online in a video of the most recent meeting. The link has been posted to AGFC.com
SOCCER REGISTRATION FOR PRE-K THROUGH 6TH GRADE IN DE QUEEN GOING ON NOW 01/21/20
Registration is going on now for the Spring soccer season in De Queen. The De Queen Soccer Association and De Queen Parks and Recreation department are currently accepting registration forms for Pre-K through 6th grade children. The registration fee is $25 and parents are required to sign their approval and medical release form for each child. Pre-K, Kindergarten 1st and 2nd grade soccer will be held on Thursday nights, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade soccer will be held on Monday nights.
Player information and medical release forms can be picked up at the parks and recreation office and all forms must be turned in by January 30th.
For questions, contact sports director Shelby Liggin at 870-642-4140 or email Sliggin@cityofdequeen.com
LARRY TEAGUE COLUMN 01/21/20
Thanks to legislation enacted in 1993, Arkansas continues to experience a competitive market for workers’ compensation insurance. The state Insurance Department performs an annual study of the market and reports to the Senate Committee on Insurance and Commerce.
According to the latest study, “Arkansas’s voluntary workers’ compensation market would have disappeared and many employers would have found themselves unable to afford workers’ compensation coverage, facing the choice of either closing down their business or operating outside the law, had Act 796 not become reality.” To emphasize its conclusion, the report states that “the impact of the Act on workers’ compensation premiums is clear and significant. Prior to its enactment rates were increasing significantly.”
In the two years immediately before the legislature approved Act 796 of 1993, rates increased 15 % and 18 %. However, the year in which the act passed was the first time in 10 years that workers’ comp rates did not go up. The act created a division within the Insurance Department assigned to investigate fraud, and set financial penalties for fraudulently making workers’ comp claims. In 2005 the division’s authority was expanded to investigate all forms of insurance fraud, and it was renamed the Criminal Investigation Division of the Insurance Department.

Workers’ comp fraud makes up four % of the total number of insurance fraud cases investigated by the division. Since 1993, when the investigation division was created, it has referred 166 cases to local prosecutors. Those referrals resulted in 123 convictions and three acquittals. The remaining cases were not acted on by prosecuting attorneys.Arkansas companies can get workers’ comp from two categories. The most affordable plans are in the voluntary market. The other plan is an assigned risk pool for companies that do not generally qualify for the more affordable coverage available on the voluntary market. The Insurance Department annual report concludes that without the changes made by the legislature in Act 796 of 1993, it is doubtful that a voluntary market would still exist in Arkansas. The assigned risk pool, which is typically considered the market of last resort, would likely have become the Arkansas workers’ comp market of “only resort,” the insurance officials reported.
The state’s chief fiscal officer recently appeared before a Congressional committee in Washington, D.C. He briefed federal officials on the history of the Arkansas balanced budget amendment, and how state government can operate efficiently under a balanced budget every year.
The U.S. government is expected to run a deficit of $984 billion this fiscal year. Arkansas voters approved Amendment 20 to the state Constitution in 1934, which prohibits the state from borrowing money without approval by citizens in a statewide vote. Amendment 20 was placed on the ballot by the 1933 legislature.In 1945 the legislature approved the Revenue Stabilization Act, which prioritizes state spending. If revenue declines due to a slowdown in the economy, state agency spending is reduced accordingly.

LITTLE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BANQUET SET FOR FEBRUARY 6TH 01/21/20

The Little River County Chamber of Commerce has invited the community out to their annual membership and awards Banquet on Thursday, February 6th at the Barbara Horne Civic center on The UA Cossatot Ashdown campus. Doors open at 5:30 and attendees can choose between a steak or chicken dinner meal. The Ashdown High School Drama Club will be providing entertainment for the evening and the cost of tickets is $30 per individual or $50 per couple.

Various awards will be given out during the banquet, including teacher of the year, citizen of the year, large and small business awards and more. For tickets, call the Little River County Chamber of commerce at 870-898-2758 or visit red river oil.

DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 01/20/20
A report from representative DeAnn Vaught states that research shows 61% of low-income families have no age-appropriate books in their homes. Middle-income homes have an average of 13 books per child.
On average, children in poverty have been exposed to only 25 hours of one-on-one reading, compared to middle-class children who have been exposed to 1,000-1,700 hours of one-on-one reading. Only 48% of young children are read to daily.

Exposure to books provides significant academic advantages as 85% of the brain is developed between the ages of 3-5.

To provide Arkansas families with more resources, a state 501 (c) (3) partnered with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in July 2017. Arkansas is 1 of 4 states to partner with the organization.

In 1995, singer-songwriter Dolly Parton launched the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee. Her vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families. The new program gave each child from birth to age 5 a specially selected book each month.
The program has expanded and now delivers 1.4 million books each month to children nationwide.

Recently, the House and Senate Education Committees were updated on the progress of the Arkansas Imagination Library.

Approximately, 39,000 books are delivered each month to Arkansas children enrolled in the program. And in the last year, more than 427,000 books have been delivered to Arkansas homes. The number of books mailed monthly grew 87.3% in just two years.

Thousands of families could still benefit from the program. Any family with children ages 5 and under can sign up regardless of income. We have provided a link on our website www.arkansashouse.org.

ASHDOWN ALUMNI ASSOCIATIONTO HOST SPEAKER JOHN MOORE NEXT MONTH 01/20/20
The Ashdown Alumni Association will host Ashdown High School Class of 1980 Graduate John Moore on Saturday, February 22 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Alumni House located at 751 Rankin Street. Mr. Moore will be signing copies of his most recent books Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, Volume One and Two. They are available on Amazon and copies will be available at the signing for $10 each.
John Moore is a native of Ashdown, Arkansas, but he has called Texas home for over 30 years. He is a former radio announcer and worked at several stations in Arkansas and Texas. From 1979-1982, he even worked at Ashdown’s former station KMLA. While a student at AHS, he worked on the journalism staff as a photographer for the school paper.He currently owns One Moore Production, a recording studio where he does commercial voice work and books on tape for Audible. His weekly column, Moore Thoughts appears in the Marshall News-Messenger, Tyler Morning Telegraph, the Longview News-Journal, the Texarkana Gazette, and six others.
Mr. Moore said, “I am looking forward to coming home to Ashdown to see family and friends and I’m looking forward to supporting the Alumni Association through my book signing. I hope to see everyone come out on Saturday the 22nd from 11 to 2 and thanks to the Ashdown Alumni Association and the Ashdown School District for inviting me to come.”

BURGLARY HANDLED BY CITY POLICE IN DE QUEEN SATURDAY 01/17/20

A man was jailed for burglary after authorities responded to a call at an apartment complex in De Queen Saturday night.

A report from The De Queen Police Department states that Sergeant Wayne Baker and Officer Micheal Barnes were dispatched to the scene of a burglary in process at Kingsgate Apartments around 5:56 p.m. on Saturday January 11th.
Police identified the burglary suspect as Rowdy Roberts, age 32 of Horatio. The occupant of the burglarized apartment reported coming home to damage at the residence, including a flooded bathtub and standing water throughout the living room and bathroom floor. Officers took photographic evidence of the scene and Roberts was placed in custody, then transported to the city police department for questioning. Roberts was charged with residential burglary, criminal mischief and theft of property. He was held in the Sevier County Jail in De Queen for the alleged crimes.

DEADLINE FOR SEVIER COUNTY HOSPITAL FLOOR PLAN COMMENTS TODAY 01/17/20

The deadline to submit input on the floor plan for the new Sevier County Hospital is today, Friday January 17th.
Local residents can look at the floor plan (pictured above) and email any comments that will be helpful in the overall design of the layout of the hospital. The board is looking for helpful and thoughtful comments regarding the layout of the hospital and all submissions must be turned in by the end of the day today, Friday, January 17th.
Please provide comments by emailing: myhospitalcomments@gmail.com
In the subject line, please enter: COMMENTS
Please include your name and address in the body of the email. Only verified comments will be accepted.

WILDLAND FIRE TRAINING OPEN TO AREA FIRE AND RESCUE AGENCIES 01/17/20

Red River Army Depot will be hosting a Wildland Fire Training Academy open to firefighters in the Southwest Arkansas area. The training is scheduled for February 3-11, 2020. This will be the third training academy held at RRAD.
This year the academy is offering seven courses, including: S-130/190 Basic Wildland Firefighter; S-212 Wildland Chainsaws; S-215 Fire Operations in the Wildland/Urban Interface; S-131 Firefighter Type 1; S-219 Firing Operations; S-230 Crew Boss (single resource) and S- 290 Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior.
Registration is open to all federal and state agencies, as well as fire departments and prescribed burn managers. Classes will begin each day at 8:00 am at Red River’s Elliott Lake facility.
Those wanting to register may contact the Texas A&M Forest Service Regional Assistant Fire Coordinator, Billy Whitworth, at 936-546-3150 or by email at bwhitworth@tfs.tamu.edu.

FINES SUPPLY GRANT MONEY FOR ARKANSAS OUTDOOR EDUCATION AND CONSERVATION 01/17/20

Arkansas students participating in conservation education programs will have nearly a half a million dollars in support, thanks to the fines collected from poachers and other people who violate hunting and fishing laws in the state.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission Division of Rural Services has awarded $444,230.34 in grants to promote wildlife education and improve school conservation programs to 164 schools, school districts, and conservation districts in 70 Arkansas counties. The grant program is funded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission through fines collected from hunting and fishing violations. These grants have helped create archery, fishing and competitive shooting sports programs, created and enhanced outdoor classroom opportunities and provided funding for educational materials, lab supplies and field trips to AGFC nature and education centers. Conservation districts also use the funding to help promote wildlife conservation awareness in the communities by hosting environmental education days and fishing derbies for children of all ages.
Applications for these grants are each fall, with deadlines for grant proposals usually set at the beginning of October.
Visit www.ArkansasEDC.com/Rural-Services for more information on the grants, including a complete list of award recipients and program narratives.

ROAD IMPROVEMENTS APPROVED FOR POLK COUNTY 01/16/20

The Arkansas State Highway Commission has approved a bid for improvements to roadways in Polk County, according to Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) officials.
The purpose of this project is to resurface selected sections of 3.7 miles of U.S. Highway 71 and State Highway 88 in Mena. Crow Group, Inc. of Morrilton was awarded the contract at $1,881,608.15.
Construction is scheduled to begin in two to four weeks, weather permitting. Completion is expected in mid 2020.

Travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ArDOT.gov. You can also follow us
on Twitter @myARDOT.

HORATIO BOARD OF EDUCATION JANUARY MEETING UPDATE 01/16/20

Horatio Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, January 13, 2020 in
the administration building. The board voted to extend contract of superintendent, Lee Smith, through June 30, 2022. They also approved the 2020 master plan and resolution certifying the dedication of local resources to meet district’s share of the finance participation. Board members approved the resolution for the 2020 Annual School Election, to be held March 3, 2020. The board approved Save the Children budget and proceed with hiring of coordinators.
They accepted bid from Progressive Technologies for improvements to high school cameras and student transfer from De Queen to Horatio.

ARKANSAS AG FILES SUIT AGAINST TEXARKANA BUSINESS OWNER 01/16/20

Wednesday, January 15th, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed suit against Texarkana business owner Robert Stevens, owner of Pro-Pave Asphalt, Robert Stevens Construction and RS Asphalt, for multiple violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA). Eight consumers have reported losses of nearly $60,000 resulting from Stevens’ aggressive and deceptive sales tactics.
“Arkansans, including our most vulnerable citizens, must be protected from aggressive business practices that attempt to skirt the law and demand exorbitant payments before work is performed or services rendered,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will continue to hold bad actors accountable for their deceptive business practices.”
Eight consumer complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office between April 2016 and August 2019 reveal a common scheme. Stevens or his workers typically pull up to consumers’ houses in an asphalt truck, claim to have some leftover asphalt to sell at a “deeply discounted price,” and provide only vague, misleading, and incomplete estimates of the total cost. Stevens then immediately begins laying asphalt while failing to ever inform the consumer of their three-day right to cancel as required by the HSSA. After the work is completed or nearing completion, Stevens demands an exorbitant and unexpected payment amount and regularly threatens or intimidates consumers until they pay.
Six of the eight unresolved complaints are from senior citizens over the age of 60 and span the State from Manila to Gravette and Texarkana.
Stevens can face a $10,000 fine for each violation of the ADTPA and HSSA and is subject to an additional $10,000 penalty per violation for targeting elderly consumers.
General Rutledge encourages all Arkansans to demand written estimates of the total project price before any construction work begins.
For more tips to help avoid falling victim to bad actors, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

FULL AGENDA HANDLED BY DE QUEEN SCHOOL BOARD MONDAY NIGHT 01/16/20

A full list of agenda items was tackled by The De Queen school board during the meeting Monday, January 13th at the district administration building. A new head coach for the leopard football program was announced with Brad Chesshir to fill the role beginning later this year. Chesshir is the current defensive coordinator at Jonesboro High school and he also worked as a coach with Nashville High School when the team won a state title in 2015.
(click to hear soundbite on new Football Coach Brad Chesshir from Superintendent Jason Sanders)

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KDQN 921 FM was granted exclusivity of broadcasting leopard athletic events by the board and Bunyard Broadcasting will continue to host the official network of leopard sports.
A master plan for the district’s future was approved. The plan allows flexibility to be adjusted as goals for De Queen Schools continue to evolve in the coming years. In addition to all financial statements, expenditures, student transfers, policies and previous meeting’s minutes, the expulsion of an unnamed student was also approved, as recommended by Superintendent, Jason Sanders.
In Mr.Sanders report, plans for the future were discussed in terms of phase two for the High School construction project. Sanders says a courtyard for outside classes and lunch breaks are on the way, along with renovations for the Jr. High School and many other updates still in the works.
(Listen to hear soundbite on district plans from Superintendent Jason Sanders)

Audio Player

Also in the Superintendent’s report, the board discussed a partnership with UA Cossatot Community College that would bring “leopard launch” to the district. The proposed program would allow students to graduate High School with an associate’s degree from the college. Sanders describes the program as “competitive.”
(Listen to hear soundbite on the leopard launch program from Superintendent Jason Sanders)

Audio Player

After approving the resignation of Athletic Director Bob Sikes and rescinding the resignation of Katelynn Norris, the board renewed contracts for Superintendent Jason Sanders and Assistant Superintendent Paul Shelton. They also heard a report from Joe Vallee in the maintenance department regarding properties around the county that are owned by the district but are currently inaccessible or occupied by friends of De Queen schools. The board then approved the selling of a property in Lockesburg and established the next meeting time before adjourning.
The next De Queen School Board meeting will be held Monday February 10th at 5:30 p.m. in the district administration building.

SEVIER COUNTY FARM BUREAU RECEIVES RECOGNITION AT ANNUAL CONVENTION 01/14/20

Sevier County Farm Bureau President Bruce Jackson (center) of Lockesburg received recognition for the county’s work at the 85th Arkansas Farm Bureau annual convention recently in Little Rock. Presenting the award were former President Randy Veach (right) and newly elected president Rich Hillman of Arkansas Farm Bureau. Each county Farm Bureau is measured in 10 program areas and awarded Gold Stars for exemplary effort in each one. Sevier County earned 9 Gold Stars.
Arkansas Farm Bureau is a non-profit, private farm and rural advocacy organization of more than 191,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.

ARKANSAS GOVERNOR TO SPEAK AT KNIFE DEDICATION CEREMONY IN HEMPSTEAD COUNTY THIS WEEK 01/14/20

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will be appearing in Hempstead County this week, as he is set to speak at the Arkansas #1 knife dedication ceremony during the grand opening of the UAHT James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades. The campus is located in Historic Washington State Park and the dedication ceremony will be held on Friday, January 17th at 2:30 p.m. The grand opening will also be the first public viewing of Arkansas #1 knife. Along with the dedication, there will be a special reception hosted by the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council.
The 92nd General Assembly, in ACT 510, designated the Bowie knife, commonly known as the “Arkansas Toothpick,” as the official knife of the State of Arkansas. The General Assembly also passed, and Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law ACT 818, which designated Historic Washington, Arkansas, as the “Birthplace of the Bowie Knife, Arkansas Heritage Site” and designated the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana to develop and operate a school of bladesmithing.
Visit https://www.uaht.edu/bladesmithing/ for more information about the dedication ceremony and the bladesmithing school.

HORATIO ELEMENTARY TEACHERS RECEIVE GRANTS 01/14/20

Three Horatio Elementary staff members successfully earned grants for their programs recently. Karen Cunningham earned a Blue & You Foundation grant for $1,000 to upgrade the school’s first aid and CPR equipment. Leslie Ray was awarded two Life Science classroom grants totaling $631 for the addition of a freshwater aquarium and dissection materials. Glenda Butler was awarded $3,283 from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission to support the school’s greenhouse and gardening education. Congratulations to these educators for going above and beyond to make safer and more meaningful learning experiences for students.

DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 01/13/20

In an age where technology moves at a rapid pace, electronic devices often become e-waste in only a few years after manufacturing.

Electronic waste is commonly known as e-waste. It is defined as used electronics that are nearing the end of their useful life, and are discarded, donated or given to a recycler.
The amount of worldwide e-waste generation in 2018 exceeded 50 million tons. And it’s growing at a rate of 5% every year.

This month, a House City, County, and Local Affairs Planning Sub-Committee held a meeting to discuss e-waste, the impact it has on our state, and what is being done to address the problem.
Many electronics contain elements – lead, mercury, and cadmium, for example – that are safe when the items are used as directed but can be hazardous if disposed of in household trash and compacted at landfills. There are 19 Regional Solid Waste Management Districts across the state. Representatives from several of those districts testified to members of the committee about their e-waste recycling efforts. In that testimony, we learned that e-waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste. We also learned that only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled.

An estimated 6,000 tons of e-waste in 2018 were collected and processed in Arkansas.
Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year. For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, and 75 pounds of gold can be recovered. For all the benefits of recycling electronics, collection efforts can be costly. And with Arkansans disposing more each year it is an issue that demands our attention.

While the legislature continues to study ways to address e-waste collection efforts, there are things all of us can do to reduce the amount of products we discard. Proper maintenance of electronics can extend their usefulness. And before discarding, consider selling or donating your used device.

Many Arkansas communities offer electronic waste collection centers or events. We posted a link to find an e-waste collection center in your area on our website www.arkansashouse.org.

FOUR STATES BANDMASTERS CONVENTION THIS WEEK 01/14/20

The Four States Bandmasters Convention & Clinic will be held on Thursday, January 16 through Saturday, January 18. An expected 350 students along with directors representing 57 schools from the four states area will be in attendance.

The Four States Bandmasters Convention & Clinic brings together the musical abilities of area students who have been nominated to the Four States Honor Band by area band directors. During the course of the convention, students audition for one of three bands: jazz, concert and symphonic. Following their concert assignment, students rehearse on a daily basis and present a series of concerts to the community which will be held on Saturday, January 18 at 2:00 p.m. at the Sullivan Performing Arts Center & John Thomas Theatre. Admission is FREE and the public is invited to attend

ARKANSAS AG TO OFFER FREE SCAM PROTECTION WEBCAST 01/14/20

Later this Spring, The Office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will be hosting a scam prevention webcast March 5th in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week. This free webcast on scams and consumer protection will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and is open to the public.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division represents and protects the State, its subdivisions, legitimate business community and Arkansas consumers.
This webcast will review the many ways the Attorney General’s office can be utilized as a resource, common scams to be aware of and how to avoid them, and identity theft. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions during the presentation.
The Attorney General’s office has applied for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) and law enforcement standards (CLEST) credit.

FRIDAY NIGHT STORMS   01/13/20

For the most part, Southwest Arkansas and Southeast Oklahoma were spared from significant damage during Friday night’s (1/10) highly anticipated severe weather threats.

Flash Flood and Thunderstorm Warnings, along with Tornado Watches, were issued at various times by the National Weather Service late Friday night.

The National Weather Service reported peak wind gusts of 47 miles per hour in De Queen. 2.90 inches of rainfall were recorded for the 24 hour period in De Queen that ended at 7:00 A.M. Saturday. Around the area, Broken Bow reported 3.52 inches of rain. Idabel reported 3.76 inches. Mena recorded 3.91 inches of rain Friday night.

There were some flash flooding issues in Polk County for a time. But Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison reports that all county roads are passable.

Ice, sleet, and snow created havoc on the highways north of Mena on Saturday morning. Officers worked numerous traffic accidents caused by slick roadways north of Mena.

At the peak of the storm on Friday night, SWEPCO says that about 29,300 customers in their service area were without power. Most of those customers were in North Louisiana and in Northeast Texas after storms broke utility poles, downed wires, and toppled trees. Wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour were reported in Caddo, Louisiana.

Other than a few trees down, Southwest Arkansas was very fortunate not to have experienced more damage from Friday night’s storms.

TRIAL DATES PUSHED BACK IN SEVIER COUNTY NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE CASE 01/10/20

A pre-trial date set for earlier this week in a Sevier County Negligent Homicide case has been pushed back, according to reports from the Sevier County Court system.

Justin Williams, age 25, of Texas is accused of killing three Sevier County residents and injuring another in a car accident that occurred on Highway 41 back on October 12th, 2019.

Reports state that the smell of alcohol was allegedly coming from Williams while he was being interviewed by State Police after the accident. He also allegedly admitted to attempting to pass another vehicle in a no pass zone at the time of the collision.

Williams was arrested by local authorities on October 17th and held at The Sevier County jail before being released the same day on a $100,000 bond.

The pre-trial hearing in the case was originally scheduled for Thursday, January 9th, 2020 at The Sevier County courthouse in De Queen, however the legal team representing Justin Williams asked for a continuance and the request was granted. The date has been pushed back to March 19th, 2020.

A jury trial date in the case set for January 29th was also rescheduled. That date has been rescheduled for April 1st of 2020.

If convicted, a prison term of up to 20 years is possible for each homicide charge.

SEVIER COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES RECOVER STOLEN TRAILER THIS WEEK 01/10/20

A trailer reported stolen from a Sevier County business was recovered by local authorities this week, and a suspect was taken into custody.

According to a report released by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, on Tuesday, January 7th Deputies recovered a 16-foot axle trailer that had been reported stolen from Baker’s Saw Shop in Lockesburg.

Sergeant Greg Davignon and Investigator Brian Hankins reportedly received information about the trailer that lead to the discovery. Officers with the department went to a residence in Howard county Tuesday and recovered the trailer, valued at $1,800 and returned the property to the rightful owner. Robert Blake Massingill was arrested and charged with felony theft of property. Massingill was held in the Sevier County jail on a $5,000 bond.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE APPROACHING AT UA COSSATOT 01/10/20

The UA Cossatot spring semester will begin on Monday, January 13, 2020, but open registration will be taking place until Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Anyone that would like to enroll in a college course at UA Cossatot for the spring semester can do so by contacting Student Services by January 15.
Six-teen and eight-week courses are being offered in class and online. The full list of courses being offered this semester can be viewed at www.cccua.edu.
UA Cossatot Admissions Advisor, Jocelin Galvez, said, “Come on by Student Services, and we will be more than happy to help you get registered for classes and answer any questions. Whether you will be a first-time college student needing more information regarding our programs and tuition costs, or simply a returning student needing to get enrolled, please stop by any of our campuses. We will get you taken care of!”
To speak with Student Services about registering for classes, please call 870-584-4471 or e-mail them at studentservices@cccua.edu. Walk-ins are always welcome. The UA Cossatot campus hours for De Queen, Nashville, and Ashdown are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

TURKEY HUNT PERMIT APPLICATIONS BEGIN JANUARY 15TH 01/10/20

Turkey season may open at the beginning of April, but now is the time to begin planning for a successful season. One of the best ways to be successful on public land is to apply for one of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s wildlife management area turkey hunt permits beginning Jan. 15.

Many good public turkey hunting opportunities exist, particularly on the large cooperative WMAs owned by the U.S. Forest Service. However, turkeys and turkey hunters need room to spread out, which can lead to conflicts between hunters on some smaller WMAs. To increase the quality of the hunt on some of the most popular public areas, the AGFC restricts the number of hunters allowed during turkey season through random drawings. Only permit holders may hunt on the WMA during the permit hunt. However, a permit holder can have a friend alongside them to call for them. Friends and family may camp with permit holders at designated campsites on the WMA.
Applications are taken electronically through www.agfc.com, from Jan. 15 through Feb. 15, and winning applicants will be notified via email. Applications require a $5 nonrefundable processing fee. Winning applicants are not required to pay any additional fees beyond the purchase of their hunting license.
Visit www.agfc.com/turkeypermits to view a list of available permits.

ASHDOWN STUDENTS ACHIEVE MICROSOFT SKILLS IN BUSINESS CLASSES 01/10/20

The following 9th grade students in Mrs. McCormack and Mrs. Tipton’s Survey of Business classes achieved Microsoft Office Specialisertification in Word 2016 in November and December.
The Microsoft Office Specialist Program provides industry-leading assessments of skills and knowledge through project-based testing, giving students and professionals real-world exercises to appraise their understanding of Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office Specialist program boosts academic performance, prepares students for college and opens doors for career opportunities. Microsoft Office continues to be one of the Top 3 Skills required for jobs.
Front Row, Left to Right: Brinlee McAdams, Anna Neeson, Reagan Burden, Jessie Hinton, Jaimya Northcross, Jamiya Traylor, Za’karyionna Williams, Quincya Faulks, Rachael Vice, Zoe Hogan, Matthew McKendre, Tyler Baldwin
2nd Row, Left to Right: Xzavier Brown, Kimberly Hendrix, Savannah Neldon, Dal Ringgold, Gavin Ketcher, Derek Hilton, Kayn Hawk, Marty Lansdell, Lexi Ryan, Elizabeth Rutledge, Caleb Bass
3rd Row, Left to Right: Adrian Fondren, Carter Cash, Destiny Surber, Blake Scheik, Journey Pope, Jeana Paredes, Stacy Walker, Gracie Young, Aly Mills, Isaac Linnett, Madison Hudleston, Ethan Jones, Michael Taylor, Jonathan Denney
4th Row, Left to Right: Jared Day, Drake Abney, Jerri Pricket, Allison Wooden, Emily Wooden, Shamar Easter, Makaila Moore, Von Deric Thomas, Cameron Sanders, Malik Muldrew, Whit Shelton, Sean Swearengin, Caleb Henry, Joshua Shute
Not Pictured: Kasey Dinwiddie, Dylan Rose, Matthew Reed, Kaiden Parker, Michael Mcelroy, Jaylie Lehnert, Jayda Nelson, Savanna Parker, Juan Pena, Shane Offutt, Jayden Brooks
HEMPSTEAD COUNTY MEETINGS ANNOUNCED FOR SALES TAX DISCUSSION 01/10/20A series of meetings will be held throughout Hempstead County over the next few weeks as county officials present information regarding a one cent sales tax election. The issue will be on the March ballot and, if approved by voters, the tax revenues would be used to convert the former Farmers Bank and Trust building into a new courthouse. The measure would also provide funds for the removal of the current courthouse should the county decide to tear down the existing structure.Meeting dates will include February 11th at the McNab Community Center, February 18th at the Blevins City Hall and February 25th at the Washington Fire Station. Each of the meetings will begin at six p.m.
SEVIER COUNTY HOSPITAL BOARD SEEKING PUBLIC INPUT ON FLOOR PLAN DESIGN 01/09/20
The Sevier County Hospital Board of Directors is seeking community input on the design for the New Sevier County Hospital Building. Since the beginning of the journey towards building a new state-of-the-art hospital for Sevier County, project leaders have promised transparency in the entire process. That is why the board is asking for Sevier County residents to comment on the new hospital floor plan. Since 84% of Sevier County voters approved the sales tax to support the hospital, project leaders and board members have felt compelled to see helpful comments from the community.
Local residents can look at the floor plan (pictured above) and feel free to email any comments that will be helpful in the overall design of the layout of the hospital. The board is looking for helpful and thoughtful comments regarding the layout of the hospital and all submissions must be turned in by Friday, January 17th.
Please provide comments by emailing: myhospitalcomments@gmail.com
In the subject line, please enter: COMMENTS
Please include your name and address in the body of the email. Only verified comments will be accepted.
SEVIER COUNTY TOURISM COMMITEE NOMINATED FOR HENRY AWARD 01/09/20
The winners of the Excellence in Arkansas Tourism Henry Awards will be revealed at the 46th Annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism to be held in Fort Smith March 1-3, 2020. The Henry Awards ceremony will take place the evening of Tuesday, March 3. The awards honor Henri de Tonti, the man historians consider to be among the first “Arkansas Travelers.”
The awards and respective finalists include:
The Bootstrap Award, which is presented annually to an individual, organization, or community that has achieved significant success “on a shoestring” budget.
Nominees:
– Spring River Innovation Hub, Inc., for work on the Arkansas Pie Festival
Sevier County Tourism Committee
– Marvell Civic Club for work on the Levon Helm Project
During the Henry Awards ceremony, the Tourism Person of the Year Award will also be announced. Selected by former honorees, the Tourism Person of the Year Award is presented annually to an individual who has been actively involved in tourism and who has made a substantial contribution, within the past year, to the betterment of the tourism industry as a whole.
The Tourism Hall of Fame Award is presented the previous day of the conference, recognizing individuals who have been actively involved for many years in tourism and have made substantial contributions to the betterment of the industry.
For more information on the 46th Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism, contact Arkansas Tourism at 501-682-1926. For specific information on the Henry Awards, contact Leigha Jones at 501-682-1676.
DE QUEEN QUIZ BOWL TEAM GOES UNDEFEATED WEDNESDAY 01/09/20
The De Queen High School Quiz Bowl team competed in the Dual Educational Cooperatives Tournament this week. The match was held at The UA Cossatot Nashville Campus on Wednesday, January 8th 2020. The team went undefeated and won the tournament.
DE QUEEN CITY COUNCIL MEETING HELD TUESDAY NIGHT 01/09/20
Before diving into a short list of agenda items at Tuesday night’s council meeting in De Queen, Logan Pearce of Pearce Knives and Riverside machine shop addressed the aldermen to propose logistics for the “world’s biggest knife” project.
The knife is projected to stand 30 feet tall and will serve as a tourist attraction for travelers to stop and see when passing through Sevier County. Ideally, visitors would stop to take pictures with the knife and then check out local shops and restaurants in town. A discussion was held surrounding the best possible location to place the pending tourist attraction, and Mayor Jeff Brown suggested a pavilion be set up near the knife in Downtown De Queen to draw tourists towards local businesses in the Downtown District.
The biggest issue surrounding the location for the knife is visibility from busy streets and well-traveled areas to ensure visitors stop in De Queen. The World’s Biggest Knife conversation is set to continue in the coming months and the council will be working closely with Logan on the new tourist attraction.
City Water Department Superintendent Darren Higgins also addressed the council to report that the water tank project has been going smoothly and is expected to be complete as early as the end of January.
After approving the previous meeting’s minutes, the council agreed to push the master plan discussion until the January 21st meeting. Tabling the item will allow Economic Development Director Lisa Taylor to be present for the conversation so additional questions can be properly addressed if need be.
The aldermen then approved to up the city’s portion of the County Economic Development Department from $10,500 to $20,500. The also approved the transfer of $12,500 from the 2019 budget to the 2020 budget for an expansion at The City Fire Department.
The last item addressed Tuesday night was the scheduling of dates and times for all monthly De Queen City Council meetings going forward in 2020. Mayor Jeff Brown reported last fall that most other city councils around the state meet just once a month, and the decision to continue their meeting schedule as is or drop down to one meeting a month was left up to the aldermen. After a quick discussion it was agreed that the meeting times will remain the same. All De Queen City Council meetings will continue to be held the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in city hall.
After the agenda items were all addressed, the topic of an amendment to the safe water drinking act was discussed. The council will conduct a rate survey to calculate the cost of production for city water. The rate survey will provide a breakdown of expenses and compare De Queen numbers with the numbers of a similar sized city in Arkansas.
The next De Queen City Council meeting will be held Tuesday January 21st at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.
PRE-TRIAL DATE SET FOR MAN ACCUSED OF CAUSING CRASH THAT KILLED THREE HORATIO RESIDENTS, INJURED ANOTHER 01/07/20
A man charged with multiple counts of negligent homicide for the deaths of three Horatio residents has a pre-trial hearing scheduled in Sevier County this week.
According to an Arkansas State Police report, Justin Blake Williams of Texas is listed as the driver of a 2016 Dodge Ram Truck that crossed the center line on Highway 41 October 12th, 2019 and struck a 2013 Buick Enclave, driven by Jessica Baig of Horatio.
Jessica, her husband Mirza Baig, and ten-year-old daughter, Lillian passed away as a result of the accident. The youngest daughter, Roselynn, age seven, was severely injured in the crash.
The pre-trial hearing in the case is set for this Thursday, January 9th at 9:00 a.m. in The Sevier County Courtroom, located in De Queen.
 Williams received medical services at a regional hospital after the accident and was then arrested by local authorities on October 17th. He was held at The Sevier County jail and then released the same day on a $100,000 bond.
An affidavit in the case states that Williams admitted to police that he consumed “a few” drinks but would not state how many. His speech was described as “slow and slurred” and the smell of alcohol was reportedly coming off his person while being interviewed after the accident. Williams also allegedly admitted to attempting to pass another vehicle in a no pass zone at the time of the collision.
Following the pre-trial hearing this Thursday, Williams is also scheduled for a jury trial beginning January 29th, 2020. Attorney Bryan Chesshir will prosecute the case before circuit Judge Charles Yeargan.
In addition to three counts of negligent homicide for the deaths of Mirza, Jessica and Lillian, Williams also faces one count of battery for the injuries Roselynn received from the collision.
If convicted, a prison term of up to 20 years is possible for each negligent homicide charge , as well as up to $15,000 in fines for each count.
Williams has reportedly plead “not guilty” to all charges.
PRUNING WORKSHOP IN CLARKSVILLE, AR   01/09/20

Thursday, February 27, 2020 the U of A Fruit Research Station in Clarksville will be hosting a pruning workshop.  In this workshop, you will learn about the principles of pruning with hands-on demonstrations in blueberries, blackberries, grapes, peaches, and pecans.  Registration will begin at 12:45 p.m. with the workshop starting at 1:15 p.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m.

Pre-registration is required. Please email Katie Hanshaw at  Khanshaw@uark.edu or call 479-754-2406 to pre-register, or  for further information.  There will be a $10.00 charge collected on the day of the event for the workshop. Cash only. (University employees and students are free)

Location: 1749 State Hwy 818, Clarksville, AR 72830

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact the Sevier County Extension Office as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

MAN JAILED FOR ASSAULT IN DE QUEEN LAST WEEK 01/08/20
A man was held in the Sevier County Jail after local authorities responded to a call about a domestic dispute in De Queen last Thursday.
A report released by The De Queen Police Department states that officer Jarrin Platt was dispatched to a home on West Wood street Thursday, January 2nd around 9:40 a.m.
 Platt was assisted in the call by Officer Michael Barnes. While at the residence, officers spoke with a man named Trinidad Abrego who reportedly admitting to slapping a woman during an incident that occurred inside the home.
Officers noted seeing visible marks on the woman’s face and the man was taken into custody. Abrego was charged with assault on a family or household member in the 2nd degree and held at the Sevier County Jail in De Queen.
TIME CLOCK ISSUE CONTINUES TO PUZZLE SEVIER COUNTY QUORUM COURT 01/08/20
A hot button conversation put on hold by the Sevier County Quorum Court back in November has been tabled again until February, as decided at Monday’s afternoon meeting, January 6th.
The Sevier County Quorum Court first approved the state-operated electronic timekeeping system for county employees back in December of 2018, but the discussion didn’t begin to heat up until nearly a year later, when the topic of implementing the system was included on the Quorum’s agenda for the November 2019 meeting.
The proposed system will require all county government employees to clock-in and out of all shifts using a digital method through computer or cell phone app to log the hours worked. The system will also keep track of sick time and vacation hours for employees as well.
The discussion sparked a variety of reactions and response from the supervisors responsible for tracking employee time, as a concern for overtime regulations was brought up, along with the issue of emergency response time for local police and paramedics.
After a lengthy discussion was held and opposing views were expressed by the Justices of the Peace, it was decided that the item would be tabled.
JP Earl Baptisse told the Quorum he feels the system would provide organization for the scheduling tasks of the department heads involved, while JP Greg Wright expressed that the tracking aspect of punching an electronic clock puts a “big brother” element over the county employees required to use the system. With no action taken and other items to address, The Quorum Court agreed to continue the discussion next month at the February meeting.
Under new business items, the official date and time of all Sevier County Quorum Court meetings was set. The same schedule will be kept as the previous years with the meetings to take place on the 2nd Monday of each month at 2:00 p.m. in the County Courthouse Conference room.
The Quorum then approved the decision to properly destroy old records kept by the county district court and to appropriate an additional $10,000 in legal fees related to the Sevier County Hospital.
The final item addressed was the decision to increase the amount of money allotted to Lisa Taylor and the Economic Development Department of Sevier County. The item was approved and $10,000 will be allotted for Ms. Taylor and the economic development department. The funds are set to provide a portion of the needed budget for economic programming, events, travel expenses, guest speakers at conferences, and other miscellaneous needs for the department, as well as the director’s salary.
The next Sevier County Quorum Court meeting will be held Monday, February 10th at 2pm in the county courthouse.
PLUNGE FOR LIFE IN MCCURTAIN COUNTY FEBRUARY 1ST 01/08/20
WeeCare Pregnancy Resources, Inc.-a non-profit, faith based pregnancy crisis
center will be hosting our 11 th Annual PLUNGE for Life on Saturday, February 1 st at
1:00 p.m. The event will take place at Area D, Stephens Gap of Broken Bow Lake.
If you would like to participate, please contact the center at 580-286-5390 or by
email at weecare4u@yahoo.com. You may also pick up a participant packet at the center in Idabel, OK.
FREE SERVICES OFFERED TO CLIENTS REGARDLESS OF ECONOMIC STATUS INCLUDE:
 PREGNANCY TESTS
 ULTRASOUNDS
 CHILD BIRTHING CLASSES
 CPR/FIRST AID CLASSES
 PARENTING CLASSES
 MATERNITY CLOTHES
 BABY CARE ITEMS
 TUTORING & MENTORING PROGRAMS
 POST-ABORTION SUPPORT
 ADOPTION EDUCATION
 LOVE & SUPPORT
 PUBLIC SAFETY CAR SEAT PROGRAM
WeeCare Pregnancy Resources, Inc. can be reached by calling (580) 286-5390. The center is located at 110 East Main Street, Idabel, OK 74745.
DE QUEEN SCHOOLS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR TO RETIRE 01/07/20
De Queen Schools Athletic Director Bob Sikes informed Superintendent Jason Sanders Monday that he will be retiring at the end of the 2019-2020 school year after 38 years of service
with the De Queen School District. Coach Sikes began his coaching career as head baseball
coach and assistant football coach. He served the Leopards football team as defensive coordinator, and enjoyed a successful run as high school baseball coach before becoming
Athletic Director. Superintendent Sanders says he appreciates the dedication that Coach Sikes has shown the sports programs at De Queen Schools and he will always refer to Sikes as “Coach.”
The De Queen School Board will accept the retirement notice from Coach Sikes at their Tuesday meeting.
Meanwhile, the search for a new head football coach continues at De Queen High School. Superintendent Jason Sanders says that 39 potential applicants have expressed
interest in the position. A search committee, headed by Sanders, has narrowed the list down to six candidates to be interviewed. Three of the candidates will be interviewed on
Tuesday of this week, while the other three will be interviewed on Wednesday.
DE QUEEN SCHOOLS DISTRICT ON TRACK TO OPEN NEW HIGH SCHOOL NEXT YEAR 01/07/20
De Queen Schools have recently been recognized both regionally and statewide for academic achievement. In fact, a lobbying organization named Arkansas Learns wrote in an
article that other school districts around the state should borrow ideas from De Queen Schools as far as how to be better student-focused. De Queen Schools Superintendent Jason
Sanders told the De Queen Rotary Club Monday about some of the recognition that the school system has been receiving lately, including OEP awards received from The University of Arkansas and ranking #35 out of more than 200 schools throughout the state.
Construction continues on the new 78,000 square foot high school on the De Queen campus. The contractor is Clark Contractors from Little Rock. Despite the wet weather over the past twelve months, Superintendent Sanders says the project is on budget and on time for the 2020-2021 school year.
De Queen Schools currently have an enrollment of 2,350 students grades Kindergarten through 12th. Unless the De Queen area sees significant economic growth in the near future,
Superintendent Sanders says that the new high school should wrap up anticipated construction and expansion needs for the immediate future.
BROKEN BOW CITIZEN OF THE YEAR NOMINATIONS DUE JAN. 13TH 01/07/20
The Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce will begin accepting nominations for the 2019 CITIZEN OF THE YEAR. The recipient will be acknowledged at the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Banquet scheduled for February 18th at the Broken Bow First Assembly Family Life Center.
Nominees do not have to be well-known or involved in major events. The nominee(s) can be anyone, your friend, your family, or your neighbor. All that we want to recognize is how their efforts have made a positive impact in our community. Do you happen to know someone who gives their time and energy on a voluntary basis to benefit Broken Bow? If you know someone deserving this honor, please send us the following information:
1. Your Name
2. Address
3. Phone Number
4. NOMINIEE’S NAME
5. Address
6. Phone Number
7. A description of “WHY” you believe this individual should be Broken Bow’s Citizen of the Year.
Nomination forms are due January 13th Nominations can be mailed, emailed, dropped off or faxed to the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce, 113 West MLK, Broken Bow, OK 74728. For more Information, call Charity O’Donnell, Chamber Director, at 580-584-3393.
EXTENSION GET FIT CLASSES OFFERED   01/06/20
Imagine a certified fitness program without a high membership cost, or the intimidation of a gym; one led by someone you know in a venue as close as your church or school. That’s the formula for Extension Get Fit, a program that’s already making an impact on the amount spent on healthcare in Arkansas.
Extension Get Fit is a community based fitness program that also serves as a support program. Extension Get Fit is a step in the right direction for Arkansas, which ranks third in the nation for its adult obesity rate of 37 percent, according to the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The more you exercise, the greater the health benefits. So get up and get moving and join us at the Skilled Trades Building on the UA Cossatot Campus in De Queen on Tuesday, January 14 at 5:30 pm for an introductory meeting.  Find out how you can exercise in your own community with your friends and neighbors.
The Sevier County Cooperative Extension Service offers the Get Fit for just $20 a year.  The class follows a structured training regime designed by Arkansas Extension Service specialists to use hand weights with exercises that can be tailored to different fitness levels.
Participation in Get Fit serves as a social outlet and a base of support for those trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle.  Participants have a lot of fun and think of it as a support group.
While the Extension Get Fit program targets older adults, the program is open to anyone especially those who have never exercised or who need to start at different levels.  Janet Cantrell, Family and Consumer Sciences County Extension Agent, says, “One of the ways that we are able to offer this service in so many areas is the use of local volunteers.  Community volunteers that usually start out taking the classes themselves, may go through a training program in order to be able to lead classes for others. This means that classes can be offered closer to rural communities in venues like churches and community centers.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week and should engage in muscle strengthening exercise that works all major muscle groups twice a week. Adults 65 and older should add balance exercises in addition to the aerobic and strengthening exercises recommended for younger people.
Participating in a group exercise program and maintaining a well-balanced exercise regimen is beneficial to health. It reduces risk of heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and some cancers. It also improves sleep patterns and reduces stress.The program cannot only help participants maintain or increase their fitness level, but also help them gain confidence.  As people age, they might see a decline in what they were once able to do physically. The Get Fit program helps participants rebuild and maintain strength, making them a role model for health at a later age for their kids and grandkids.
For more information on Get Fit program times, locations, and pricing, contact the Sevier County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-584-3013 or emailjcantrell@uaex.edu. We are located on the UA Cossatot Campus at 183 College Drive in De Queen.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact the Sevier County Extension Office as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 01/06/20

One of the new laws which took effect this week may reduce the number of uninsured motorists on Arkansas roads.

Nationwide, it is estimated that 1 in 8 drivers do not have insurance. In Arkansas, the uninsured motorist rate has been higher than the national average in recent years. The latest numbers show close to 16% of drivers on our roads may be uninsured. Arkansas State Police write more than 10,000 citations a year for failing to provide proof of insurance.

 Legislators along with law enforcement and insurance companies worked for two years to implement a system to address this problem.

The result is the implementation of a real-time insurance verification program. It was created by Act 1016 of 2017. The fees and dates of implementation were created by Act 869 of 2019. It went into effect on January 1, 2020.

The system allows law enforcement real-time data when they run a license plate. It will tell officers if the car is currently insured or if a policy has lapsed. In addition, it will also result in letters being issued to any Arkansan (with a registered vehicle) if they allow any lapse in insurance coverage. As soon as the system is alerted to the lapse, the owner will be issued a $100 fine for the lapse in coverage along with a letter notifying them of this.  If the fine and proof of insurance are not provided within a certain time frame (normally 30 days), the vehicle’s registration will be permanently suspended until the fine is paid and coverage confirmed.

When a similar system was implemented in Alabama, the rates of uninsured motorists on the road dropped from more than 20% to 13%.

This is just one of several laws which took effect this week.  You can find a list of other laws on our websitewww.arkansashouse.org.

DE QUEEN MAN CHARGED WITH DWI ON FIRST DAY OF NEW YEAR 01/06/20
A man was charged with Driving While Intoxicated in De Queen on Wednesday, January 1st after local authorities conducted a traffic stop on Colin Raye Drive.
According to a report released from The De Queen Police Department, Sergeant Sunny Kimmel was patrolling Lakeside Drive when he noted observing a white truck  make a wide turn and drive through a shopping center parking lot.
The driver of the vehicle was identified as Robert Colton Rogers, age 20 of De Queen.
Sergeant Kimmel reported the smell of intoxicants coming off Rogers’ person. The suspect was also reported to have bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Rogers allegedly admitted to consuming “five or six beers” and a series of sobriety tests were conducted by the officer.
Rogers was taken in to custody for suspicion of driving while intoxicated and held at The Sevier County jail in De Queen.
BLADESMITH SCHOOL OPENING IN WASHINGTON, ARKANSAS 01/06/20
The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades, on the grounds of Historic Washington State Park, will hold a grand opening on January 17, 2020, at 2:30 p.m. The grand opening will be held at the James Black School located in the Stephens House at 601 Lawrence Street in Washington, Arkansas.
The 92nd General Assembly in ACT 510 designed the Bowie knife, commonly known as the “Arkansas Toothpick,” as the official knife of the State of Arkansas. The General Assembly also passed, and Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law, ACT 818 which designated Historic Washington, Arkansas, as the “Birthplace of the Bowie Knife, Arkansas Heritage Site” and designated the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana to develop and operate a school of bladesmithing in Historic Washington.
The grand opening will feature special guest, Governor Asa Hutchinson, who will formally dedicate the “Arkansas #1” Bowie knife during the event.
There will also be several other special events on the day of the grand opening. A community education class entitled “The History and Art of the Bowie Knife,” will take place at 11:00 a.m. in the beautifully restored 1860 Brunson House at Historic Washington State Park. Individuals wishing to participate in the class can register by calling the UAHT Community Education Department at 870-722-8102.
UAHT will offer a Certificate of Proficiency in Bladesmithing beginning January 17. The degree plan is designed to provide students with a unique opportunity to earn a degree in the historic art of bladesmithing. Courses in the credit program will include Introduction to Bladesmithing, Intermediate Bladesmithing, Knifemaking, and more. Students will also have the option to enroll in classes as non-credit students. To enroll, visit uaht.edu/bladesmithing.
Please join us at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades Grand Opening. For more information, call 870-722-8516.

JACOB BUNYARD GRADUATES FROM UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS 01/03/20

Jacob Bunyard of De Queen graduated with honors in December from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a double major in Accounting and Finance.
Bunyard, a 2015 graduate of De Queen High School, served as President for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) and Vice President of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). Jacob was a member of Beta Alpha Psi, and was also active in TF College, his church ministry. During his junior year at the University of Arkansas, he studied abroad in Brazil.
His grade point average at the University of Arkansas was 3.809. Bunyard, graduating Cum Laude, was one of only 14 honor graduates among the several hundred students receiving their diplomas from the Sam Walton College of Business on the Fayetteville campus last month. His thesis presentation topic was on International Money Exchange Rate Fluctuations.
The son of Jay and Teresa Bunyard of De Queen, Jacob will begin work with Landmark CPA’s in Fort Smith in January, and he plans to sit for the CPA exam in 2020.

COUNTY HOSPITAL BOARD SEEKING PUBLIC INPUT ON FLOOR PLAN FOR NEW MEDICAL CENTER 01/03/20

The Sevier County Hospital Board will be seeking public comment from the community in regards to the final floor plan design for the new emergency facility, set to open next year.
During the January 2nd meeting the board decided on a method for including the public, along with area medical providers in the process of finalizing the hospital design before submitting the plan to WD&D Architectural firm and then beginning the construction process this Spring.
Funds from the sales tax that will be used for construction and operation costs of the Hospital are set to begin generating in April 2020. The board members, legal team, architects, construction firm and various community leaders have all been hard at work planning logistics for the new medical center over the past several months.
Board Chairman Dr. Steve Cole reports that he as received comments from area residents who are concerned that the construction phase has yet to begin. Though ground has not yet been broken for the project to begin being built, the board members remain busy behind the scenes, working on legalities, insurance policies, planning and logistics issues, along with other paperwork required to bring a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week emergency healthcare facility to Sevier County. Dr. Cole says the hospital is still on track time wise, and dirt work is set to begin this Spring.
(Listen for Soundbite from Hospital Board Chairman, Dr. Steve Cole)

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During Thursday’s meeting, the board unanimously agreed to join the Arkansas Hospital Association (AHA). Cole reports many benefits will come with joining the organization, including savings on equipment purchases and additional discounts.
(Listen for Soundbite from Hospital Board Chairman, Dr. Steve Cole)

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As far as the recent survey of the land for the new hospital goes, a move has been made to try and landscape the timber on the 18.63 acre property into a layout that supports walking trails and scenic views for visitors at the center.
(Listen for Soundbite from Hospital Board Chairman, Dr. Steve Cole)

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Before the final floor plan is submitted to the architects, a private meeting will be held for area medical providers to offer input on the design on January 8th. The following day on January 9th, the floor plan will be published on KDQN for the community to view online and public comments can then submitted to the hospital board.
(Listen for Soundbite from Hospital Board Chairman, Dr. Steve Cole)

Audio Player

For more updates regarding the Sevier County Hospital Construction development, keep listening to KDQN 92.1 FM and viewing KDQN.net online.

2019 WEATHER SUMMARY – DE QUEEN 01/02/20

It was a very wet year in De Queen in 2019. Rainfall for the year totaled 66.18 inches. The average annual rainfall for De Queen is around 51 inches.

The most rain fell during the month of May when we recorded 10.91 inches.

The official hottest days in 2019 were 98 degrees recorded on both September 7th and 8th. The hottest day ever recorded in De Queen was 105 degrees on August 12, 1943. The coldest mornings in 2019 were 21 degrees recorded on both February 8th and 9th. The coldest day on record in De Queen is minus 16 degrees on February 12, 1899.
#1 Country 92.1 is the official reporting station for the National Weather Service in De Queen.

CHILD STRUCK BY VEHICLE WHILE BIKE RIDING IN DE QUEEN 01/02/20

A child was struck by a car while riding a bicycle in De Queen last week, according to a report released by local authorities.

The report from The De Queen Police Department states that Sergeant Bucky Sawyer was dispatched to North 4th street and W. Vandervoort on Friday, December 27th at 4:26 p.m.
Upon arriving at the scene,Sergeant Sawyer reported speaking with the driver of the vehicle, who stated they had been traveling South on North 4th street when a child crossed the road on a bicycle in front of them without stopping.

The report states that the driver claimed they attempted to stop the vehicle but was “unable to do so.”

Damage to the vehicle caused by the accident included a shattered driver’s side windshield as well as damage to the left front fender.

The child was transported by medic 16 for medical attention.

ARKANSAS STATE POLICE LAUNCHING NEW ONLINE SCHEDULING TOOL FOR DRIVER’S LICENSE TESTING 01/02/20

Beginning next week anyone with a valid Arkansas driver learner’s permit can begin using an online scheduling tool to arrange the final step toward becoming a motor vehicle licensed driver. The scheduling tool will be accessible beginning Monday, January 6th through the Arkansas State Police Driver Exam web site at ar.gov/aspdrivertest
Online scheduling will make it easier for permit holders and anyone who must accompany the skills test applicant to set a specific date and time for the skills test and avoid waiting in line or possibly being turned-away due unexpected large numbers of applicants at a testing location and impending closing hours.
“This is another step toward modernizing the process of obtaining an Arkansas driver license,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police.
Almost ten years ago the state police began installing computers at the 115 testing sites around Arkansas for driver license applicants to use in taking their knowledge test. Offering online study guides, online practice tests and voice prompted study features have been other modern additions for testing operations.
We’re always listening to the citizens when they voice their concerns about the testing process and I hope the scheduling module will prove to be a huge benefit for skills test applicants, particularly the parents and guardians who accompany their first time drivers to any of the testing sites around the state,” Colonel Bryant commented.
Anyone planning to proceed with the skills test, whether it has been scheduled online or not, is strongly encouraged to review the checklist of items and other information provided at the web site or provided to them when the learner’s permit was issued. The test site locations will continue to offer an open door availability for walk-in knowledge and skills test applicants.
When the scheduling module goes live next week, the online system can only be used to schedule skills tests for Class D licenses (i.e. a license to drive a conventional passenger car or truck). Plans are being considered to expand the scheduling system in the future to include other testing services, such as commercial driver license testing operations and knowledge tests for Class D applicants.
Driver License Testing is administered by the Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division which is a part of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety.

ARKANSAS AG ISSUES HEALTH INITIATIVE 01/02/19
Getting in shape is always a top New Year’s Resolution and joining a gym is a popular step in achieving that goal. More than 60 million Americans are members of health clubs and gyms, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. While the decision to join an exercise program or gym can be a pleasant and rewarding experience, sometimes, it’s not.
“Investing in your health is important for your physical and mental wellbeing,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But reading the fine print, getting all sales promises in writing and knowing the cancelation and billing policies are crucial in securing your fiscal wellbeing and avoiding any unfortunate surprises.”
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge addresses some concerns received by her office on poor practices at health clubs, and what to look out for before signing on the dotted line.
Ask about trial periods so you can sample the gym without obligation to join.
Ask about hours of operation and any limits to certain memberships.
Do instructors and trainers have special qualifications or expertise to best serve its members?
Ask what the cancellation policy is upfront and the costs of any joining or cancellation fees.
Ask about automatic renewal policies and any recurring annual fees.
If signing a contract for a specific time period, are there extenuating circumstances that would allow breaks in the contract such as injury, illness or moving?
If a sales person agrees to special perks, waived fees or price changes, always make sure they are in writing and approved by the manager. The law requires that a copy of the signed contract be given at the time of joining.
Finally, before joining a health club, consider contacting the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau to find out if complaints have been filed against the gym.
For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

MINIMUM WAGE TO INCREASE IN ARKANSAS JANUARY 1ST 12/30/19

New laws are in effect as of January 1 st across the state, including new wage rules. The minimum wage increases to $10 per hour in 2020, and then bumps up to $11 per hour in 2021.
At the end of 2019, the minimum wage in Arkansas is $9.25 per hour.
Arkansas voters passed Issue 5 in 2018 to increase the minimum wage employees will earn around the state. Business owners are divided on the pay hike saying that it could drive
prices of products and services up.
Arkansas is one of twenty-one states seeing minimum wage hikes on January 1, 2020. Surrounding states of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Mississippi continue to
use the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour. Missouri increases its minimum wage from $8.60 to $9.45 per hour in 2020.

RUFFLING FEATHERS FOR FARMERS IN ARKANSAS 12/31/19

The $4.50 per square foot, that state assessment officials last year increased their recommended appraisals of standard chicken houses, has frustrated state legislators, who have
questioned the valuations. Lawmakers in Little Rock passed a resolution recently condemning the state Assessment Coordination Division’s poultry house valuations and urged further study.
Assessment officials say it’s time to update poultry house appraisals, which have remained unchanged since 1995. Several lawmakers though argue that the chicken houses are a
special type of property, and the rate increase from $4.50 to $9 per square foot on broiler houses was changed without proper representation for the farmers.
The Assessment Coordination Division was created to help ensure that local taxes across Arkansas were levied equitably. But in addition to the famers being upset about increased
property-tax bills, there were misconceptions about whether the division’s recommendations were binding on county assessors who felt the rates were too high in their respective
counties. The division publishes guidelines to assist assessors,
but they are not mandatory.
The final authority to determine market value in a specific county lies with that elected assessor. Lawmakers argue that while the guidelines aren’t binding on assessors, most are forced to abide by them because they don’t have the resources to independently develop their own  valuation measures.
State Representative DeAnn Vaught of Horatio, a poultry farmer told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the issue is still “muddy” even after a letter was sent from the Division to
lawmakers addressing concerns. Representative Vaught said some farmers could go out of business. Polk County Assessor Jovan Thomas told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that most of the confusion appeared to have cleared from her perspective. She said that she has spoken with many poultry farmers whose concerns were eased after she walked them through the new appraisal guidelines. Most, she said, ended up owing far less that expected. Thomas, who said Polk County has one of the highest concentrations of chicken houses in the state, added that new poultry houses are affected most by the new guidelines, but she said that after meeting with one farmer in the middle of building new chicken houses, even he was surprised at how little the taxes would increase.
To determine the property tax owed in Arkansas, 20% of a valuation is multiplied by a millage rate. Under the state constitution, a property-tax bill can increase at most 10% a
year when the valuations increase. Thomas, the Polk County Assessor, says the Assessment
Coordination Division’s poultry house valuations were accurate based on poultry house sales in Polk County. If anything, she said, the rate remains favorable to the farmer. In
recent months, Thomas said that poultry farmers in the area have come to realize that the new valuations are not as tremendous and scary as they thought. “We just had to take the time to explain it to our constituents”, Thomas said.
A spokesman with the Department of Finance and Administration noted that change is difficult, but that the new rates will benefit communities. The majority of the property- tax money is used to educate children in public schools locally. But some farmers argue that higher taxes on poultry houses could have an adverse effect by discouraging the construction of broiler houses.

AGFC COLLECTING XMAS TREES FOR FISH HABITATS 12/31/19
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has set up drop-off locations for your used Christmas tree. The trees will be given a second life as a fish habitat.
Game and Fish says that no artificial trees should be used, and trees should be free of any decorations which include lights, tinsels, and ornaments.
The brush piles will sink with standard cinder blocks tied to the tree with either parachute cord or heavy baling wire. These materials last for an extremely long time and keep the tree anchored to one spot.
Trees can be dropped off at any of the following locations
through the end of January:
Millwood Lake – Cottonshed, White Cliff’s Recreation Areas,
and the Millwood State Park ramp on the point.
Dierks Lake – Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area
De Queen Lake – Any Corps of Engineers boat ramp
Gillham Lake – Any Corps of Engineers boat ramp
Lake Greeson – New Cowhide Cove and Self Creek Recreation
areas.

SHOPLIFTING INCIDENT REPORTED AT DOLLAR GENERAL IN DE QUEEN 12/30/19

A man who was reported to be shoplifting at a store in De Queen was held in the Sevier County Jail after authorities responded to a call last week.
According to a report released by the De Queen Police Department, Officer Kristopher Hundley was dispatched to the Dollar General in De Queen on Sunday, December 22nd in response to a call about a shoplifter inside the store. The suspect was described as a white male seen wearing a blue sweatshirt and jeans.
Employees at the store reported to the officer that a man “sounded suspicious” while in the restroom, and was seen leaving the building before quickly re-entering after exiting. Upon re-entering the store the man was seen with a woman in an area that did not have cameras and the two were reportedly making excessive noise.

When the suspect left the store, officer Hundley made contact with the man and informed him of the shoplifting call. The man was identified as David Shroeder, age 35 of Oklahoma.  The store manager reported locating an unopened package of pepperoni and beef jerky inside Shroeder’s pocket. Shroeder reportedly later admitted to taking the items without paying because he was hungry. The store manager decided to press charges and the suspect was apprehended. Shroeder was charged with theft of property and held in the Sevier County Jail.

DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 12/30/19

As many of you are reflecting on 2019 and setting goals for 2020, we want to remind you of what is ahead for the Arkansas House in the New Year.

In less than 10 weeks, Arkansans will be heading to the polls to cast ballots in the March 3 primary.

This year, the General Assembly passed Act 545 which provides for a March preferential primary election in the years in which the office of President of the United States is voted on and a May preferential primary election in the years in which the office of Governor is voted on. Fiscal sessions have been held on the second Monday in February on even-numbered years. However, Act 545 states that on years in which the preferential primary is held in March, the General Assembly will instead meet for a fiscal session on the second Wednesday of April.

 This means we will begin pre-fiscal session budget hearings the day after the primary election, March 4. The hearings are expected to continue through March 12. Members can begin filing bills for the session on March 9. We will convene on April 8.

 In 2008, Arkansans approved Amendment 86 which created fiscal sessions. Only budget bills are to be considered during a fiscal session. If any member wishes to file a bill other an appropriation bill during a fiscal session, then 2/3 of both chambers must first vote on a resolution to allow such a bill to be filed. Amendment 86 is also very clear about keeping these sessions brief.  Fiscal Sessions can only be 30 days long.  They can be extended one time for 15 days only if ¾ of both chambers agree.

We head into this New Year with an optimistic financial outlook. State revenue reports continue to exceed economic forecasts. And the unemployment level is at 3.6%.

Just as you do with your budget, our job in the weeks ahead will be to prioritize spending. As a reminder all of our budget hearings are live streamed and recorded on our website www.arkansashouse.org.

SENATOR LARRY TEAGUE COLUMN 12/30/19

The new year is an election year, and thanks to legislation approved during the regular session earlier this year, the primaries in Arkansas will take place on Tuesday, March 3.

Traditionally, Arkansas holds its primaries in May. The legislature passed Act 545 to move up the date, in the hope that presidential candidates will pay more attention to Arkansas voters. In past election years, both major political parties had usually completed their selection of presidential candidates by May.

So as not to mix electoral politics with governing, Act 545 also moved the starting date for the 2020 fiscal session. Usually, in even-numbered years our fiscal sessions begin on the second Monday in February. Now, in years with a presidential primary on the ballot, the fiscal sessions will begin the second Wednesday in April.

Another change in election law will affect organizations that want to place issues on the ballot, such as proposed constitutional amendments or initiated acts. In the past, those groups would get approval of the ballot title from the state attorney general, who would make sure that the ballot title accurately reflected the contents of the measure.

After the attorney general approved the ballot title, the groups would gather signatures on petitions to have their proposals placed on the ballot. Sometimes the attorney general rejected several proposed ballot titles before finally approving one.

Under Act 376 of 2019, the state Board of Election Commissioners will replace the attorney general’s office as the entity that approves ballot titles. Advocacy groups will submit lists of signatures to the Board at the same time as they submit a proposed ballot title. If the Board rejects either the ballot title or the sufficiency of signatures, appeals to the state Supreme Court will be extradited.

Act 376 increases the criminal penalties for petition fraud, changing it from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony.

At least three issues will be on the November general election ballot because they were referred by the legislature during the 2019 regular session. All three are proposed constitutional amendments.

One would permanently extend the current half-cent sales tax that generates revenue for highway projects. It is a temporary tax that is due to expire in 2023, unless Arkansas voters approve the ballot issue.

A second proposed amendment would change the current term limits provision in the state Constitution. It would impose a 12-year limit, but the limit would be for consecutive service and not for a lifetime. Thus, a legislator who served 12 years would have to leave office. But under the proposed amendment, the lawmaker could run again after sitting out for four years.

The third measure, if approved, would change the process for citizens’ groups to have measures placed on the November ballot. It would move up the deadline for submitting signatures to January 15. Currently, the deadline is in early July.

It would no longer allow groups an additional 30 days to collect more signatures. Now, if 75 percent of submitted signatures are valid, they get a 30-day extension. The amendment also would raise the bar for the legislature, which can refer up to three proposed amendments in every regular session. It would require a 60 percent majority in each chamber to adopt a joint resolution with a proposed amendment. Now, the legislature can refer a proposed amendment to voters by a vote of 51 percent of each chamber.

WEYERHAEUSER DONATES TO UA COSSATOT 12/30/19

On December 12, 2019, following UA Cossatot’s Christmas party, school representatives met with Sandra Gandara, Administrative Assistant for Weyerhaeuser, where Christmas came early in the form of a $6,000 donation from Weyerhaeuser’s “Giving Fund Grant”.

These funds will be used for further development of the Lockesburg Industrial Maintenance Institute, where both secondary and post-secondary students receive quality training in all areas of industrial maintenance.

UA Cossatot Division Chair of Skilled and Technical Sciences, Steve McJunkins, said, “Thank you, Weyerhaeuser, for this generous donation and all your support. We could not provide this level of training without the assistance of our business partners.”
To learn about classes and programs offered at the UA Cossatot Lockesburg Campus, please contact Student Services at 870-584-4471. To learn about ways one can support UA Cossatot, please contact UA Cossatot Foundation Director, Dustin Roberts, at droberts@cccua.edu or 870-584-1172.

WOMAN SERVED WARRANT, CHARGED WITH OBSTRUCTION IN DE QUEEN ON CHRISTMAS EVE 12/27/19 
Officers with the De Queen Police Department responded to a 911 Hangup call on East Hayes Avenue and Lakeside drive on December 24th around 3:04 p.m.
A male and female were reportedly seen walking down Vandervoort street by police at the time officers were dispatched to the residence.
Sergeant Wayne Baker and Jarrin Platt worked the incident and spoke with a man who reported seeing a couple arguing at a nearby park.
Upon making contact with the man and woman, the woman stated her name to be April Bray, age 24. The woman reportedly later admitted her true name was Haley Kesterson and she had an active warrant. Kesterson was placed in custody and transported to The Sevier County jail for the active warrant and additionally charged with obstructing Government operations.
SALVATION ARMY BELL RINGING IN DE QUEEN A SUCCESS 12/27/19
Organizers of the Salvation Army Bell ringing campaign have reported the week of December 9th-15th was successful, as many churches, city and county volunteers as well as civic groups and businesses volunteered their time to raise funds for families in need around the local area. The campaign took place at the wal-mart on Colin Raye Drive in De Queen throughout the holiday season.
Contributing groups include The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, The County Courthouse, Kern heights baptist church, the city of De Queen, De Queen Rotary Club, First Baptist Church, and De Queen Auto Group.
The week of December 16th-22nd was also a success as The American Legion/VFW along with UA Cossatot and KDQN contributed throughout the week.
Saint Barbara’s Catholic Church and De Queen Church of Christ volunteered their time this week to help ring the bell for the campaign.
According to organizers and volunteers for The Salvation Army, The fundraising effort went so well because so many local residents contributed their time and energy to these efforts. The initiative begins the day after Thanksgiving and continues until Christmastime. The total amount distributed to residents in need amounts to $ 14,466.32 this year. All funds raised have been distributed to local families in the community.
DECEMBER LOCKESBURG CITY COUNCIL MEETING REPORT 12/27/19
The Lockesburg City Council met in regular session on December 10th at city hall.
Resident Tracy Sutton, who reported an issue involving neighborhood dogs in the city, addressed the council. The problem was brought to the council’s attention and is under control for the time being. Mayor Danny Ruth informed the council that new tables and chairs for the senior citizen’s center arrived. The Lions club purchased the furniture.

After reviewing the budget for 2020, some corrections were made to the line item titles and the budget was then approved with the exception of the personnel fund.
After an executive session was held, the council elected to stay with the freeze on raises, with the exception of an employee obtaining a certification from a class attended.
The council then approved the decision to distribute $500 bonuses to Mayor Ruth, JoAnna Giusti and Justin Ruth. New wastewater superintendent Matt Webb also received a Christmas bonus in the amount of $50.
After correcting an error, the previous meeting’s minutes along with November financial report and bills were approved and the council briefly discussed progress on the new senior building and sidewalk project before holding an executive session and then adjourning shortly after 8:00 p.m.

POLICE RESPOND TO CALL ABOUT GUNSHOTS IN DE QUEEN THURSDAY 12/27/19
Local police officers responded to a call about gunshots heard in De Queen Thursday, December 26th.
De Queen Police Chief Scott Simmons told KDQN that officers responded to the 500 block of West De Quincy Avenue at 6:38 p.m. Thursday night. Upon responding to the call no active shooter was found in the area and no victims were discovered. Police say no further gunshot reports have been called into the department since the initial call.
WOMAN CHARGED WITH CRIMINAL TRESPASS IN  DE QUEEN 12/26/19
A woman is facing a criminal trespass charge after city police responded to a call about trespassing at a residence on circle drive in De Queen earlier this week.
According to a report released by The De Queen Police Department, officer Gilberto Elizondo was dispatched to the home around 10:00 p.m. Monday, December 23rd. A man at the scene reportedly told the officer that a woman by the name of Amanda McDougal had been screaming and throwing groceries outside the house that night. A jar was also allegedly thrown at the man’s car windshield and mountain dew soda cans had been busted in the driveway. The mailbox door was also reported to have been torn off by the suspect.
Police collected photos of the evidence consistent with the man’s report and Officer Elizondo traveled to the suspect’s home to speak with her.
Upon making contact with Amanda McDougal, she reportedly admitted to the officer that she had been at the man’s residence but claimed she never got out of her vehicle. Amanda was transported to The Sevier County Jail and booked for criminal trespassing.
PUBLIC INPUT NEEDED FOR AGFC’S DEER MANAGEMENT PLAN 12/26/19
Biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are seeking public input on the current revision to Arkansas’s White-tailed Deer Strategic Management Plan. This is the first review and revision of the plan since 2013.

The plan is reviewed every five to seven years to adapt to changing needs by developments in Arkansas’s deer herd and available habitat.
The plan was drafted by the agency’s deer program coordinator and assistant deer program coordinator with considerable input from the agency’s Deer Management Team, a collection of biologists and enforcement personnel from every region of the state. Additional review was provided by Wildlife Management Division administration as well as representatives from the agency’s Research, Evaluation, and Compliance Division and Communications Division before being submitted to the Commissioners for their review.The draft of the plan and a public comment survey are available at www.agfc.com/en/hunting/big-game/deer/2019-strategic-deer-management-plan/. Comments will be accepted until Jan. 20th. The Deer Management Team will then make needed revisions and submit the final draft to the Commission at its regularly scheduled February meeting.

FIRST DAY HIKES ORGANIZED BY ARKANSAS STATE PARKS 12/26/19

Make a New Year’s resolution to improve your health and happiness by kicking off 2020 with an invigorating First Day Hike at an Arkansas State Park.  On January 1st, Arkansas will join state parks across the country by offering unique programming as a part of this annual event.  Last year nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country on guided hikes. The First Day Hikes initiative encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with an outdoor exploration.“So many people start the year with resolutions about seeking more authentic experiences, as well as taking control of their own health and fitness,” said Arkansas State Parks Chief of Interpretation and Program Services Kelly Farrell. “With our First Day Hikes, you can put those good intentions right into action! We hope our visitors will take advantage of our programs so they can turn goals into accomplishments on day one of 2020.”

Local state parks are participating, including Milwood state park, Queen Wilhemina, and Lake Ouachita, . Arkansas State Parks staff and volunteers will lead hikers along trails that will showcase the beauty of Arkansas. The distance and the difficulty of the trails vary from park to park, but the hikes are designed to benefit the entire family. You are encouraged to share your adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes.

Visit arkansasstateparks.com for more information.

SPECIAL HOLIDAY DEER HUNT IN ARKANSAS DECEMBER 26TH-28TH 12/26/19

Deer hunters using modern guns have one more chance to collect on their scouting time and tag a trophy. The statewide modern gun Holiday Deer Hunt is Dec. 26-28.

Established during the 1999-2000 deer season, the Statewide Holiday Deer Hunt was created to enable hunters another opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors and harvest deer while home for the holidays. “A lot of hunters will receive hunting equipment for Christmas, and they want to put those items to use right away,” said Ralph Meeker, Deer Program Coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “There also are a lot of families and friends who only see each other during the holidays and this hunt enables them to continue their hunting traditions.”

The holiday hunt is structured identically to the regular modern gun hunts with the exception that no dogs are allowed anywhere in the state. All deer taken during the hunt count toward a hunter’s seasonal bag limit for the zone where they are hunting. Some wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges are closed to modern gun hunting during the hunt, but many will be open.

Also ahead is the second Youth Hunt, Jan. 4-5. This also is a statewide hunt with no dogs allowed.

“We don’t see as much interest in the second youth hunt as the first,” Meeker said. “But there are still plenty of deer out there for young hunters to pursue and it gives them one last shot to use those new rifles they may have gotten at Christmas.”

Hunters 6 to 15 years old can go after deer with modern guns, muzzleloaders or archery gear. Youths who have passed hunter education may hunt on their own. Youths who have not passed hunter education must be under the direct supervision of an adult who is 21 or older. The adult mentor may not carry a hunting weapon of their own during the hunt.

This year’s extremely good mast crop has kept many deer deeper in the woods more than usual, which has not played in favor of hunters who have stayed on the stand in front of food plots or feeders.

“When the woods are full of acorns, the deer will absolutely focus on that food source as long as it is available,” Meeker said. “However, some acorns have been on the ground for a while and have begun to rot, especially with all the wet weather we’ve had. This may cause deer to begin moving more during the late season and going back to food plots and feeders. You never know unless you’re out there hunting.”
Visit www.agfc.com/deer for more information on deer hunting in Arkansas.

REGISTRATION FOR SPRING SEMESTER GOING ON NOW AT UA COSSATOT 12/24/19
UA Cossatot’s registration for the spring 2020 semester is ongoing now. Students will be able to enroll in courses by contacting a Student Services Advisor to begin or continue their education at UA Cossatot.

The college’s Student Services department has Admissions and Recruitment Specialists at the Ashdown, Nashville, and De Queen Campuses. To sign up for classes or to learn about educational opportunities, they can be reached at 870-584-4471 or studentservices@cccua.edu. Walk-in visits are welcome from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Monday through Friday.
The Spring 2020 semester includes available courses in general studies, student personal development, accounting, biology, business, child development, fine arts, criminal justice, health and safety, political science, Spanish, English, and sociology, to name a few.
The college also offers courses in specific programs, including nursing, welding, radio-television broadcasting, industrial electricity and technology, automotive services, diesel technology, cosmetology, the physical therapist assistant program, and the occupational therapy assistant program. Medical pre-requisites are available to take, and UA Cossatot will also be offering EMT classes this upcoming semester at the Nashville Campus.
UA Cossatot has four campuses and will be offering classes for students to take in-class, online, during the day and evening. The college also provides AV courses.
Students are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible to enroll in the courses they need. The final day to register for the spring 2020 semester is January 14. Spring 2020 classes begin at UA Cossatot on January 13.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued a statement praising the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act.
ARKANSAS AG LEADS FIGHT AGAINST ROBOCALLS 12/24/19

“The unanimous Senate vote today is a welcome tool to help stop the incessant, irritating robocalls we all receive,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I have led the charge in Arkansas to stop these illegal calls, but this is a national problem that needs multifaceted solutions. Arkansans and all Americans can find hope in knowing this legislation is heading to President Trump’s desk, and with his signature, law enforcement will have an additional tool to shut down these illegal calls.”

Rutledge led the fight against robocalls by working with state legislators to pass legislation to require telecommunication providers to submit annual reports to the Arkansas Public Service Commission to certify that all available and applicable technology is being employed to identify and block illegal robocalls and spoofing.

Rutledge also joined a bipartisan, public/private coalition agreement with every state attorneys general and 12 phone companies earlier this year. The coalition adopted eight principals to fight illegal robocalls and pave the way for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute bad actors.

Arkansans who would like to file a consumer complaint can email the office at oag@ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

HORATIO SCHOOL RECOGNIZED AT GOVERNOR’S MANSION 12/24/19

Sevier County Judge Greg points to Horatio High School on a poster at the Governor’s Mansion last week. The school art department was recognized, along with 24 total schools around the state for their work in researching and contributing to the “christmas around the world” display at the mansion of Governor Asa Hutchinson.

CAR WRECK IN SEVIER COUNTY TAKES LIFE OF ASHDOWN RESIDENT 12/23/19
An Ashdown, Arkansas resident died Friday, December 20th after a car accident in Sevier County, according to a report from The Arkansas State Police.
The preliminary crash report states that the single-vehicle wreck occurred after a 2007 Toyota Highlander overturned at 9:10 a.m. on Highway 27 in the city of Ben Lomond.
The driver of the vehicle was identified as a woman named Peggy Lovewell, age 75 of Ashdown, and the passenger is listed as Jason Lovewell, age 43 of Ashdown as well. The narrative in the report states that the car overturned after the vehicle struck a culvert while traveling west on Highway 27.
Peggy Lovewell died from injuries sustained in the wreck and Jason Lovewell was transported to UAMS to receive medical treatment.
The report lists the weather conditions as clear and the roads have been described as dry at the time of the accident.
The family of the deceased has been notified of the fatality.

MAN JAILED AFTER POLICE SEARCH HOUSE IN HORATIO 12/23/19
A man was arrested in Sevier County after authorities conducted the search of a residence in Horatio last week.A press release provided by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department states that Narcotics officers with the 9th West Judicial Drug Task Force and the Arkansas State Police executed a search warrant at a house on Messer Street in Horatio, Arkansas on Wednesday, December 18th. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department assisted with the search, which resulted in the arrest of a 28-year-old Horatio resident named Dustin Taylor.
Taylor has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with purpose to deliver methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and maintaining drugs on premises.
Dustin Taylor was held in The Sevier County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

ASHDOWN SCHOOLS RECOGNIZE TEACHERS OF THE YEAR 12/23/19

On, Monday December 16, Ashdown Public Schools recognized their campus Teachers of the Year and announced the District Teacher of the Year.  Teachers from each campus were able to vote for their Teacher of the Year and a special committee with much difficulty chose AHS teacher Jennifer Simmons as the District TOY.

The TOY for Ashdown Elementary is Gerina Ritter; L.F. Henderson – Diana Blankenship; AJHS – Lacy Shamsie; AHS – Jennifer Simmons.  Ashdown Superintendent Casey Nichols said, “I am so proud of these amazing teachers!  Each and every day they go above and beyond for our students in order to provide them with the best education possible!  They love, protect, and help each and every student, they know our students and meet them where they are to give them what is needed in order for them to grow into educated and productive citizens.”
Mrs. Ritter is an Ashdown graduate who has worked in this district for 19 years, with her experiences including being a second-grade teacher, a physical education teacher and presently, a kindergarten teacher.  Additionally, she is co-sponsor for the AJHS cheerleaders and has served in this position for the past 3 years. According to AE Principal Teresa Wake, “We appreciate Mrs. Ritter’s passion for her students.  She is caring, knowledgeable, and a hard worker.  She communicates well with the parents, community, and our staff.”
Ms. Blankenship graduated from Ashdown High School in 1991.  She started working as a paraprofessional in August of 2002 while working her way through college.  She graduated from Texas A&M in Texarkana in May of 2015.  Ms. Blankenship stated that she thoroughly enjoys teaching for the Ashdown School District.  She cherishes being an Ashdown Alumni and feels it is a privilege to work and have her daughter, Gracyn, attend the same district that she graduated from.
Mrs. Shamsie has been a teacher in the Ashdown School District working at AJHS since 2006.  She has taught 6th and 8th-grade science during this time. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in 2005 from Texas A&M at Texarkana and her Master’s degree in Educational Diagnostician in 2018. She and her husband,  Curtis Shamsie, have two kids Colton and Annabeth Shamsie who attend school in the Ashdown School District.  
 
Mrs. Simmons has been selected by her peers as this year’s Teacher of the Year at Ashdown High School.  Jennifer holds a B.A. from the University of Arkansas Medical Science and is a Licensed Medical Technologist.   She has taught 5 years in the Ashdown School District and prior to teaching, she worked in Medical Laboratories and hospitals for 18 years.   Jennifer is presently teaching Biology and has an ASCP license.  Mrs. Simmons is also the 9th  grade Class Sponsor and has been the Co- Prom Coordinator for the past three years.  AHS Principal Kay York Wortham said, “Mrs. Simmons is always thinking of students.  She challenges kids and is always trying new things that will improve our school.  She is on the school’s leadership team and spends countless time working beyond the school day to make sure labs and learning are ready for her students.  Having a Medical Technologists on our campus positions our high school toward more opportunities for our students working toward medical certifications.  Mrs. Simmons, attendance and character along with her strong desire for all students to learn to their highest potential deems her extremely worthy of this honor.”
DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 12/23/19
From delivering the food to the grocery store shelves to stocking up retail stores with must have gifts, the trucking industry touches every aspect of the holidays.
As the trend towards online shopping continues, the trucking industry continues to provide a critical infrastructure for our nation. Arkansas companies play an important role in providing the drivers and logistics.
As a midway point between Mexico City and Montreal, our central location enables Arkansas to have a large and growing distribution and logistics services sector. Arkansas offers access to a market of 100 million people within a 550-mile radius of the state. That represents 40% of the total U.S. population.
More than 55,000 Arkansans are employed at more than 80 distribution centers and 10 major trucking companies in the state.
Arkansas is home to two transportation companies on Fortune magazine’s list of the largest 1,000 companies in the United States, based on annual revenue – J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. and ArcBest. And of the 25 largest employers in the state, 20% are in the transportation services sector.
The trucking industry is a growing industry. Nationwide, the number of trucking businesses grew 15.9% between 2012 and 2016, outpacing total growth across all industries. This translates into an increase of 200,000 workers in the trucking industry during that time period.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, at least one in 10 truckers are veterans, double the rate of workers in general.
The Census Bureau also notes the demographic of new truckers is changing. Among younger truckers under age 35, more of them are women and they are more educated than their older counterparts. They’re also more urban. The percentage of young truck drivers coming from rural areas is about half that of older truckers, with fewer than 20% of younger truckers living in rural areas.
Although many truckers work a regular 40-hour workweek, almost half of truckers work longer hours. And many are working extra hours during this season. So if you see or know a trucker, thank them this season for tackling one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs.
ADHE PRESENTS SCHOLARSHIP CHECK TO UA COSSATOT 12/23/19
On December 13, 2019, UA Cossatot held its winter graduation ceremony at the UA Cossatot Bank of Lockesburg Gymnasium in Lockesburg, Arkansas. The ceremony began at 6:00 P.M. and concluded with 257 students receiving 374 credentials.

During the graduation ceremony, UA Cossatot Chancellor, Dr. Steve Cole, introduced Dr. Maria Markham, Director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) and Alisha Lewis, Associate Communications Director for ADHE. They were invited to the ceremony to present Dr. Cole and UA Cossatot with a sample check for 1.1 million dollars.

This check was used to represent the total amount of money that has been awarded to UA Cossatot students through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education using funds generated by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.

In the ten years since its inception, the lottery has raised more than $908 million to help provide more than 542,000 college scholarships for Arkansas students.
To apply for a lottery scholarship in Arkansas, please visit the Department of Higher Education’s website, scholarships.adhe.edu, to complete the Arkansas YOUniversal Scholarship Application.

NURSING HOME RESIDENTS EVACUATED AFTER FIRE THURSDAY MORNING 12/19/19

Residents of a nursing home in De Queen were evacuated after a fire broke out at the facility Thursday morning.

A report from The De Queen Fire Department states that 12 firefighters were dispatched by the all-call alarm at 9:46 a.m, Thursday December 19th. The department utilized two fire trucks and arrived at Bear Creek Health Care on Colin Raye Drive at 9:47 a.m, just one minute after being dispatched to the scene.

Fire Chief Dennis Pruitt commended the Bear Creek staff and assisting agencies for their efforts in evacuating the residents quickly and efficiently. The chief says the staff originally thought the incident was just a drill before finding out an actual fire caused by a heater had ignited inside the building.

(click for Chief Pruitt soundbite)

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With no injuries reported and residents safely brought back inside, the department left the scene by 10:36 a.m. Assisting agencies include local volunteer fire departments and The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department.

HEMP PRODUCTION MEETING SEES LARGE TURNOUT IN DE QUEEN THURSDAY 12/19/19

Nearly 150 farmers from Sevier County and the surrounding area turned out for a Hemp farmer production meeting held at UA Cossatot’s De Queen campus Thursday, December 19th. Well-Known figures in the community in attendance included Sevier County Judge Greg Ray, De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown, Economic Development Director Lisa Taylor and a host of community leaders.

(De Queen Mayor, Jeff Brown attending the Hemp Farmer Production meeting at UA Cossatot in De Queen Thursday, December 19th)

County Agent Rex Herring thanked the meeting attendees and welcomed Attorney Rusty Rumley from The National Agricultural Law Center to lead the event presentation.

The main focus of the meeting was to address the legal regulations surrounding industrial hemp production for farmers in Arkansas. The long list of legalities circulating around the hemp discussion includes seed selection, pesticide use, processing, growing and selling of Industrial Hemp products.

Questions about the industry began to rise after The USDA put new regulations into effect in October 2019, and removed Hemp from the controlled substance list.

Though the new regulations provide more economic opportunities for area farmers, the rules won’t permit just anyone to grow hemp in Arkansas. As Mr Rumley says no one with a controlled substance-related criminal conviction in the last 10 years will be eligible to grow the product.

The program also featured an update on 2019 research trials and plans for the coming year in 2020, as presented by John Carlin of the Arkanas Crop variety improvement program.

The meeting also provided a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for Hemp production and allotted time for questions from curious farmers to be addressed by a panel of experts. Though the laws involving industrial hemp production seem to have already changed so recently, Mr. Rumley also says the laws are expected to change over the next year and again the following year after that. As the industry evolves, the rules surrounding Hemp production will grow and change with it.

More news regarding hemp farming in Arkansas will be announced as information becomes available to KDQN.

ASHDOWN SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER RECEIVES AWARD AT ASBA CONFERENCE 12/19/19

Congratulations to Ashdown School Board Member Rosa Bowman on receiving a Platinum Award for completing 400 hours of in-service training at the annual Arkansas School Board Association (ASBA) Conference in Little Rock. Mrs. Bowman is also President-Elect for the association.

SWAECC AND TODAY’S POWER INC. SET TO BUILD SOLAR ARRAY IN TEXARKANA 12/19/19

Solar power company Today’s Power Inc. (TPI) and electric utility Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative (SWAECC) will build a 1-megawatt solar array near the headquarters of the cooperative in Texarkana.

TPI and SWAECC broke ground Wednesday (Dec. 18) on the single-axis tracking array that will include more than 3,800 panels on about 8 acres. The system was designed to offset a portion of SWAECC’s peak demand. Work on the project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020. TPI declined to release the cost of the project.

“Our partnership with Today’s Power allows us to add 1 megawatt of renewable generation to our portfolio and improve the quality of life for our members,” said Wayne Whitaker, president and CEO of SWAECC. “Our mission at Southwest Arkansas Electric is to provide first-class electric service to the community that is safe, reliable and affordable.”

TPI will own and operate the array, providing electricity to SWAECC under a 20-year service agreement. Including this project, TPI has developed arrays or energy storage for 13 of the 17 electric cooperatives in Arkansas. Most of the arrays have been about 1 megawatt and a result of a utility partnership.“This solar project is a representation of the board of directors’ and management’s excellent commitment and vision to further improve the quality of life in their communities, thus creating substantial savings for the members of SWAECC for the next 25 to 30 years,” said Michael Henderson, president of TPI.

TPI is a subsidiary of Little Rock-based Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., which is owned by 17 Arkansas electric cooperatives. SWAECC provides electricity to 32,715 customer meters and has 4,531 miles of distribution lines, 139 miles of transmission lines and 35 substations.

CALL ABOUT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY LEADS TO ARREST IN SEVIER COUNTY FRIDAY 12/18/19
A man was jailed in Sevier County following a visit from authorities late Friday night.
According to a report from The De Queen Police Department, Officer Kristopher Hundley was requested to assist with a suspicious vehicle report  by Deputy Chris Wolcott (Jr.) on Highway 71 East around 11:20 p.m. Friday, December 14th.
Deputy Wolcott (Jr.) requested the assistance because he was in the midst of assessing a vehicle fire on Highway 70 East and would be unable to respond.
Upon arriving at the scene, the officer noted finding a male subject who was asleep in a White Chevy Pick-up truck. The man was identified as Jeffery Adams, age 57 of Smackover, Arkansas. Adams reportedly appeared to be under the influence of a substance and a plastic bag containing methamphetamine was allegedly found inside a cigarette carton in the vehicle.
Adams was taken into custody and transported to The Sevier County jail. The amount of methamphetamine discovered was listed as .89 grams and Adams was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

IMPORTANT END-OF-YEAR REMINDER FOR ARKANSAS BUSINESSES   12/19/19

This is a reminder for Arkansas businesses from Secretary of State John Thurston that the end of the year is approaching and there are a couple of important deadlines coming up.

Have You Paid Your Franchise Taxes?  If you have not paid your franchise taxes for 2019, and do not do so by December 31st, your business will enter revoked status.

To find out if your business is currently in good standing, search our database here: https://www.sos.arkansas.gov/corps/search_all.php.

You can file and pay your franchise taxes online 24/7 at: https://www.ark.org/sos/franchise/index.php.

Click Here to Pay Your Franchise Taxes Online

CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO SUSPEND SHORELINE ACTIVITY REQUESTS 12/18/19

The Army Corps of Engineers’ Millwood Lake Project Office will suspend shoreline activity requests beginning Jan. 1, 2020 to establish a baseline of the lake for officials to use while revising its 45-year-old master plan and 7-year-old shoreline management plan.

Shoreline activity requests will not be accepted during the master plan revision and all zoning and shoreline management regulations will remain in effect until the plans are complete.

A series of public workshops will be held to inform the public about the process used to update the Millwood Lake Master Plan and Shoreline Management Plan.  The workshops will also allow project personnel to gather information from local residents and park visitors. The locations, dates and times of these workshops will be announced in the near future.

At the public workshops, representatives from the Corps of Engineers will be present to answer questions on the master plan and shoreline management plan revision process, to include explaining the difference between a master plan and a shoreline management plan. Anyone with any interest in the future management of Millwood Lake is encouraged to attend.

The Corps’ master plans are used to guide all use and development of a project’s federal public lands and waters for environmental stewardship and recreation related purposes, throughout its life.

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