Local News Archive

ASHDOWN PUBLIC SCHOOL RECEIVED GRANT FOR OUTDOOR WIRELESS EQUIPMENT   06/19/20

Aruba Networks, which provide WiFi for Ashdown Public Schools, gifted almost $14,000 of outdoor wireless equipment to Ashdown High School and Ashdown Junior High to assist with providing outdoor wireless access for students.  The outdoor kits will allow students who do not have internet access at home to use the school Wi-Fi from the safety of their car in the parking lots surrounding each school.  These outdoor wireless kits were provided to the district free of cost.

According to Casey Nichols, Ashdown Superintendent, “We are so fortunate to have received this equipment from Aruba Networks, we value our partnership with them and their commitment to Ashdown Public Schools.  And, I am so appreciative of our Technology Department for their expertise and time to bring this project to completion.”

The Aruba Network engineers assisted the district Technology Department with installation and configuration.  The new access points are located at the high school front parking lot, high school student parking lot, and the high school bus drive.  At AJHS, they are located in the cafeteria parking lot, front parking lot, and bus drive.  The normal school internet filtering will continue through these access points, so activity can be monitored and tracked.
Ashdown Public School Technology Coordinator David Billingsley said, “I’m excited to add this outdoor WIFi access for our students to use during this unprecedented time.  Those needing to use the new system will use the cloud guest network and be required to register with a valid email address or phone number that is able to receive SMS text for verification.”

LOCKESBURG CANCELS FOURTH OF JULY EVENT     06/18/20

The City of Lockesburg has announced that the Fireworks in the Park event scheduled for the Fourth of July in Lockesburg has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19 and the inability to comply with CDC guidelines.

Lockesburg City Hall will be closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockesburg residents may pay their water and sewer bills by phone at 870-289-3261, or by using the drop box at the front door at Lockesburg City Hall.

DE QUEEN CITY COUNCIL ACCEPTS BID FOR WATER PLANT   06/18/20

The De Queen City Council met Tuesday, June 16th at the De Queen High School Cafeteria and approved a bid for the 170,000 gallon backwash tank at the Water Plant.

Sealed bids were opened on May 14th, and the successful bidder was Circle P Welding with a base bid of $382,519. The estimated construction budget was $400,000. The De Queen Council approved the execution of the contract with construction to begin as soon as possible.

The De Queen City Council also approved a resolution in support of Fair, Direct Federal Emergency Support for the City. The funding would come from the federal CARES Act to help the City revenues that have been impacted due to COVID-19. The City has seen revenues decrease during the Pandemic, mainly because the District Court proceedings have been postponed, thus affecting income received from fines for various violations.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the De Queen City Council is Tuesday, July 7th at 5:30.

DIERKS SCHOOL BOARD SCHEDULES GRADUATION   06/18/20

The Dierks School Board met in regular session earlier this week. Dierks High School Principal Todd Finley informed the Board that graduation for the class of 2020 would be held on Monday, July 20th at 7:00 P.M. in the high school gymnasium.

Finley said the district had received approval from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education but would need to adhere to CDC guidelines.

Finley said 290 people will be allowed to sit in the bleachers and 128 family members aill be allowed on the floor along with the graduating seniors, administrators, and school board members. The school will give each senior four floor tickets and eight bleacher tickets.

In other Dierks School Board business, the Board voted to transfer any excess funds over $755,000 from the district’s general fund to the building fund. The Dierks Board accepted the transfer of one student into the district and five studenys out of the district through the state School Choice Act.

Following a 30 minute executive session, the Dierks Board accepted the resignation of Andrew Sirmon as science teacher and assistant football coach. The Board voted to hire Chad Lites as science teacher and assistant football coach per the salary schedule.

The Dierks Board also received an update on the proposed elementary school classroom building project from Clark Construction. The six room project will cost approximately $1.75 million and would take about eight months to complete. Cost estimates were also presented to construct four rooms or five rooms. However, the Dierks district would only save about $300,000 if they built four classrooms instead of six.

Dierks Superintendent Jody Cowart reported the district would have about $300,000 left over from the bond funds for other district projects. He also reported the district had $1.1 million dollars in the building fund that could be used to complete some of the other projects.

ASHDOWN STUDENTS ACHIEVE SCHOLARSHIPS THIS MONTH 06/17/20

With onsite learning coming to an end in March for AHS 2020 Seniors, the annual Scholarship Tea was rescheduled and redesigned for June 11 as a drive-thru scholarship pick up at Ashdown High School.

Sixty-five scholarships of over $ 37,000 were given to 34 Ashdown High School Seniors.

The Scholarship Committee has awarded over 100% of all donated moneys for some time due to investments. The Committee plans to continue this trend to recognize students’ needs and reward their hard work.

Last year, 62 scholarships were awarded with a total value of $36,000. The committee has authorized an alumni fund through which former students of Ashdown High School, businesses, or other individuals may contribute to the program in any amount and at any time. Such contributions may be made in honor or memory of friends and loved ones. Scholarships are tax-deductible and may be sent to Ashdown Public Schools, 751 Rankin St., Ashdown, AR 71822. You may attention your correspondence to Ashdown Scholarship Committee or call 903-826-4434 if you have any questions.

The Committee would like to thank all of the donors for allowing us to continue honoring our deserving seniors from Ashdown High School. They would also like to encourage businesses, as well as individuals to support the scholarship program.

Scholarship recipients include:

Chloe Anderson – Ashdown Alumni Scholarship; Kasey Barton – Dr. Brian L. Matthews Academic Initiative and Merit (AIM) Scholarship; Kasey Barton – Delta Kappa Gamma; Nathan Boley – Courtney Jewell Memorial; Nathan Boley – Jeanie Raper Scholarship; Brett Bond – Ashdown Alumni Scholarship (In Memory of Coach Paul Nichols); Brett Bond – Ashdown Athletic Booster Club; Rylee Burden – Ashdown Band Boosters; Rylee Burden – Jr. Setliff Memorial; Will Burnett – Fred C. Jester Sr. Memorial; Will Burnett – Fred C. Jester Jr. Memorial; Will Burnett – Little River County Farm Bureau; Jaliana Clinton – Vestco; Jaliana Clinton – William Coker Memorial; Jaliana Clinton – AHS Beta Club; Lanyhia Cornelius – Wallace Dean & Marie Roy Memorial; Lanyhia Cornelius – Dr. Blane & Jimmie Ann Graves Scholarship; Rileigh Day – Cecil & Beth Bowman Memorial; Colby Dellinger – Bob Porter Memorial Scholarship; Colby Dellinger – Ralph & Jeraldine Fuller Memorial; Colby Dellinger – TDS; Makayla Dixon – Mil-Way Federal Credit Union (Kenny Bankosh Memorial); Makayla Dixon – Trammell Scholarship; MacKynze Dollarhide – Jalen Lewis Memorial; MacKynze Dollarhide – Shirl & Nancy McCoy Scholarship; Ashia Dudley – Toni Cobb Memorial; Arejeon French – Ashdown Alumni Scholarship; Ashlyn Harger – Dr. Rachel King; Ashlyn Harger – Ashdown Eye Care; Ebony Hawkins – Coca-Cola Scholarship; Ebony Hawkins – Mil-Way Federal Credit Union (Matt Harris Memorial); Trey House – Little River Hardwoods; Trey House – Little River County Retired Teachers; Lannah Huddleston – Little River County Farm Bureau; Sydney Hurd – AHS TARGETS; Sydney Hurd – Darrell & Nancy Coker Scholarship; Sydney Hurd – Diamond Bank; Sydney Hurd – Kathy Rowlett Memorial; Aliana Lewis – Arvest; Reba Mahaffey – Matt Harris Memorial; Reba Mahaffey – William L. & Mary E. Welch Memorial; Ann Medina – Matthew Rosenbaum Memorial; Breanna Noble – Jim & Paula Mounts Scholarship; Breanna Noble – Leilana Warren Memorial; Aaliyah Nutt – Ashdown Alumni Association; Jeb Parker – Domtar; Jeb Parker – Ashdown Administrators Scholarship; Aniya Polite – AHS National Honor Society; Aniya Polite – Wesley Strange Memorial; Noah Pounds – Ashdown Alumni Scholarship (In Honor of Sharon Booth McGee and Albemerle Foundation); Anijah Ramnarine – Henry Kaufman Memorial; Kiari Robinson – Matt Harris Memorial; Cole Smith – Ashdown Rotary; Cole Smith – Coleman Pearson Memorial; Paige Smith – Ashdown Alumni Scholarship (In Honor of Dr. Tom Fomby); Paige Smith – Vestco; Vonjoy Thomas – Ashdown Alumni Association; T’Nia Washington – Ashdown Alumni Association; T’Nia Washington – Bishop & Bishop; Tyreese Westbrook – Wesley Strange Memorial

DE QUEEN MAN ARRESTED ON PUBLIC INTOXICATION CHARGES 06/16/20

A De Queen man was arrested for being intoxicated in public after authorities responded to a call Friday.

According to a report released by The De Queen Police Department, Officer Gilberto Elizondo was dispatched to Highway 41B in reference to a person seen lying in the road near the railroad tracks in De Queen on Friday, June 12th.

The suspect was identified at Chad Stueart, age 46 of De Queen. Officer Elizondo reported observing scratches all over Stueart’s body and he had bloody knees.

The suspect allegedly told the officer than an “electric fence was shocking him” but there was no fence around in the area. Stueart was reportedly unable to explain how he’d gotten to the railroad tracks and was found to be sweating although he was only wearing underwear.

Chad Stueart was placed in custody for public intoxication and transported to The Sevier County Jail in De Queen. The case file was submitted to the Prosecuting Attorney for charges and a court date for Stueart has been set for July 14th.

ALLIGATOR HUNTING PERMIT APPLICATION PERIOD OPENS IN ARKANSAS 06/16/20

People interested in hunting Arkansas Alligator on public land and water will have until June 30th to put their name in the hat for a chance to score a permit from The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Application for the 2020 Arkansas Alligator Season are available online at AGFC.com.

Each permit authorizes The Harvest of one alligator, at least 4 feet long and up to three assistants are allowed on each hunt, however only the permit holder will be allowed to snare, harpoon or dispatch The Alligator.

Hunting gator is allowed 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise September 18-21 and September 25-28. All gator hunters must be at least 16 years of age, a resident of Arkansas or a holder of a lifetime Sportsman’s permit. Anyone with 18 or more AGFC violation points are not eligible to apply.

Find out more about hunting alligator in Arkansas by visiting AGFC.com

SPEEDS TO GO UP ON ARKANSAS HIGHWAYS ACROSS THE STATE 06/16/20

Local residents will soon see the speed limit increase by five miles per hour when traveling on certain highways and interstates across Arkansas.

Arkansas Department of Transportation officials report “ rural interstates will go to 75, urban interstates will go to 65, rural multi-lane highways, which are our four to five-lane highways that are designated as interstates, will go to 65 and now  up to 60 on a two-lane highway ”

It will take about three months to install the new speed limit signs around the state. Once the signs are implemented, that’s when the speed limit will change. If the new speeds become problematic, ArDOT could roll them back.

ArDOT says the change of speed limit signs and implementing the project will cost about $350,000.

SEVIER COUNTY MOBILE FOOD PANTRY 06/16/20

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, July 1, 2020 from 10 am to noon. The truck will be parked at the Horatio High School located at 1101 Metcalf, Horatio, AR.
With CDC precautions and recommendations against the Coronavirus still in place, Harvest is taking every measure to ensure the safety of its staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as “drivethru” distributions, with food boxes being loaded directly into vehicles. Recipients will not be allowed to exit the vehicle or park to pick up food.
Recipients must bring photo identification verifying their age and residence.
Distribution is limited to one box per household and 2 households per vehicle.

UA COSSATOT GETTING BACK TO NORMAL WORK PLAN     06/15/20

The purpose of this three-phase plan is to prepare UA Cossatot’s staff, students, and community for the gradual reopening of all UA Cossatot campuses.

Based on current guidance, UA Cossatot will employ a gradual return to normal for our students and community. Since the advent of COVID-19 in our community, UA Cossatot has shuttered campuses to students and visitors. Employees of UA Cossatot have been allowed to work from home (providing employees can effectively and productively complete their job duties) from the very beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, while many employees have been coming to work on campus under strict social distancing and other CDC safety guidelines. This plan is designed to guide our college and inform our public through the summer to prepare for a full reopening this fall. UA Cossatot’s COVID-19 Task Force is currently preparing the reopening plan for fall of 2020.

The following conditions will guide this and all future COVID-19 plans at UA Cossatot:
• The number and rate of positive COVID-19 cases in our local communities
• The testing, quarantine, isolation capabilities, and exposure protocols in place at our college
• Controls are in place to ensure the college has adequate PPE and cleaning services available for each campus
• Guidance from the University of Arkansas System, Local and State Health Entities, and the Arkansas Governor’s Office
This plan should be considered a fluid response to the COVID-19 epidemic and may be changed based on the prevailing or impending health conditions locally, statewide, and regionally.

Phase 1 – (Current-June 26th)
During the current Phase 1, our campuses will remain closed to all students and community members, except by special permission or if there are extenuating circumstances. During this time, employees will be allowed to continue their current work arrangements. Presently,  employees are working a combination of:
• Fully on-campus
• Selectively on-campus
• Working from home
Employees who are working from home or selectively on-campus must continue to work with their supervisors to ensure they have the proper technologies to work from home so they may remain effective and productive at their job duties. These employees must also complete their weekly Remote Work Task Assignment forms and have them signed by their supervisor and sent to Human Resources. Returning to normal will not be the focus of Phase 1.
During Phase 1, the college will employ a full arsenal of methods to
ensure proper social distancing. These methods may include:
• Adjusting work schedules
• Limiting the number of people in a workspace
• Alternating workdays for employees
• Adjusting start and end times for employees
• Adjusting entry and exit points in the workplace
Throughout all phases of this plan, UA Cossatot will be mindful of the
CDC’s updated strategies and recommendations for employers
responding to COVID-19 and seeking to resume normal or phased
business operations. They are:
• Conducting daily health checks
• Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
• Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the
workplace
• Improving the building ventilation system

UA Cossatot will also ensure that employees are well-informed regarding safe practices for health monitoring, COVID-19 prevention strategies, social distancing, and proper use of PPE.
During Phase 1, all entrances to campuses will remain locked with the exception of allowing employees into the buildings.
Phase 2 – (June 29th – July 17th)
Phase 2 will begin with all employees back on campus working a staggered on-campus work schedule. Depending on the current health climate in the local area, student athletes and some visitors may be allowed on campus. The college will operate on a four-day work week during Phase 2 (Monday-Thursday) and stagger when employees show up for work.
Supervisors who have employees who work in departments that contain more than two persons will develop a work plan that has an equal number of employees working on Mondays and Wednesdays as there are working on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Employees that aren’t scheduled to work on campus may work from home providing they follow the same protocols detailed in Phase 1. If an employee cannot perform their job duties from home, the supervisor will work diligently to ensure that the employee may work on a separate campus or can work where it is reasonably expected they can effectively social distance from others while on-campus.
During Phase 2, it is expected that there will be a limited number of visitors and student athletes on campus. To accommodate, one entrance to each campus will be unlocked and designated for entry and exit, controlled by UA Cossatot Campus Police.
During Phase 2, the Lockesburg Gymnasium will be available for athletic tryouts and workouts under the strict supervision of the Athletic Director, following all CDC, UA System and NJCAA guidelines for
athletics.
(Please note that during Phase 2 ALL safety and health guidelines noted
for Phase 1 will apply)

Phase 3 – (July 20th – July 31st)
Phase 3 will be the final phase of this plan. Phase 3 will act as precursor to the fall semester and will lead UA Cossatot into the plan for fall that will be assembled by the COVID-19 Task Force.
All employees are expected to return to on-campus work on July 20th.
Employees whose health condition falls within one of the CDC High Risk Categories should work closely with the Human Resources to determine if there is an appropriate temporary workplace adjustment needed to allow a return to campus during this phase. Employees during Phase 3 will be working a four-day work week in their offices. In preparing for Phase 3, and to allow the Facilities Department ample time to complete, UA Cossatot will implement the following modifications to the
workplace:
• Addition of plexiglass to counters where barriers between
employees and those in need of services
• Floors in high traffic areas marked with six-foot separation marks
to identify the amount of space expected between persons
• Changes to office/work assignments where one or more people
share space (i.e., shared cubicles, offices, service counters/desks,
etc.)
• Signs to remind employees that restroom use should be limited
based on size to ensure at least 6 feet of distance between
individuals
• Drinking fountains that have bottle refill stations may be used to
refill bottles, but all other water fountains will have signs that
indicate the water fountain is not to be used.

During Phase 3, certain entrances will remain locked to control the flow of persons entering and exiting campus buildings. (Please note that during Phase 3 ALL safety and health guidelines noted
for Phases 1 and 2 will apply)

Based on CDC strategies to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, UA Cossatot will actively encourage students, faculty, and staff who have been sick with COVID-19 symptoms, tested positive for COVID-19, or have been potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19 (either
through community-related exposure or international travel) to follow CDC guidance to self-isolate or stay home.

Special Notes Applicable to All Phases:
Regarding COVID-19 Reporting By Employees Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should contact Human Resources and should not report to work until their primary care physician has sent a letter of clearance to return to work.
Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are expected to follow their physician’s directives for home quarantine or hospitalized care and may not return to work until the letter of clearance has been received. The office of Human Resources will confirm receipt of the clearance to return to work and will retain this letter in the employee’s personnel file.
Employees living with or caring for an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 are expected to self-quarantine and not to return to work until 14 days after the individual’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis or until said individual has been declared recovered by their doctor and/or state
health officials.
Employees who feel they have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 should contact Human Resources to discuss proper on-campus protocols.
Employees who have or are going to travel to a known “hot spot” for COVID-19 should check with their immediate supervisor to determine the proper protocols for safely returning to work.

Regarding Face Masks
While the CDC strongly encourages the wearing of masks and other PPE, UA Cossatot will require that each employee who reports to campus will wear a facemask or face covering while in public spaces, common areas, and shared workspaces, and when in the presence of others, if appropriate social distancing cannot be achieved. Face masks and face coverings will not be required in individual offices. UA Cossatot will ensure that at least one facemask is provided to each employee. Employees are encouraged to source their own face masks in order to
wear a clean mask at all times.

Regarding Employee Child Care
If childcare availability is limited and/or K-12 schools are closed, departments are encouraged to work with faculty, staff and students to provide flexible scheduling as duties permit.

Regarding High-Risk and Vulnerable Employees
According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions may have a
higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:
• Are over the age of 65
• Suffer from chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
• Suffer from serious heart conditions
• Severely obese (Body Mass Index of 40 or higher)
• Have diabetes
• Suffer from chronic kidney disease
• Suffer from liver disease
• Have a compromised immune system

Employees whose health condition falls within one of the CDC High Risk Categories should work closely with the Human Resources to determine what temporary workplace adjustments may be required to return to campus during any phase of this plan.

Regarding Travel
UA Cossatot employees will be prohibited from travel on behalf of the college, unless it is travel to and from the workplace or between UA Cossatot campuses.

UA Cossatot will continue to address issues related to the COVID-19  pandemic and issue any new guidance and or actions necessary to ensure safe campuses. UA Cossatot will also continue to monitor COVID- 19 trends locally, statewide, and regionally to update guidance as circumstances warrant.

LANTZ CASTLEMAN HIRED AS NEW HEAD FOOTBALL COACH FOR HORATIO 06/15/20

Horatio Schools announced over that weekend that Lantz Castleman has been named the new head football coach for the Lions.

Coach Castleman has been an assistant coach for the past three years at Magnolia. Prior to that, he worked as an assistant on the staff at Mena.

Athletic Director Stephen Sprick had the following to say about the hiring of Coach Castleman on Saturday: “He will bring intensity, accountability, and stability to our football program. This is a homerun hire made by our Administration and school board.”

Coach Castleman and his wife Ariel have three children:
Faith, Bryce, and Haston. Coach Castleman was welcomed by community supporters at the Horatio football field Monday morning for a team meeting. Coach Castleman replaces Robert Collum at the helm of the Lions after Coach Collum accepted a position at Mount Ida.

UA COSSATOT GETTING BACK TO NORMAL WORK PLAN     06/15/20

The purpose of this three-phase plan is to prepare UA Cossatot’s staff, students, and community for the gradual reopening of all UA Cossatot campuses.

Based on current guidance, UA Cossatot will employ a gradual return to normal for our students and community. Since the advent of COVID-19 in our community, UA Cossatot has shuttered campuses to students and visitors. Employees of UA Cossatot have been allowed to work from home (providing employees can effectively and productively complete their job duties) from the very beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, while many employees have been coming to work on campus under strict social distancing and other CDC safety guidelines. This plan is designed to guide our college and inform our public through the summer to prepare for a full reopening this fall. UA Cossatot’s COVID-19 Task Force is currently preparing the reopening plan for fall of 2020.

The following conditions will guide this and all future COVID-19 plans at UA Cossatot:
• The number and rate of positive COVID-19 cases in our local communities
• The testing, quarantine, isolation capabilities, and exposure protocols in place at our college
• Controls are in place to ensure the college has adequate PPE and cleaning services available for each campus
• Guidance from the University of Arkansas System, Local and State Health Entities, and the Arkansas Governor’s Office
This plan should be considered a fluid response to the COVID-19 epidemic and may be changed based on the prevailing or impending health conditions locally, statewide, and regionally.

Phase 1 – (Current-June 26th)
During the current Phase 1, our campuses will remain closed to all students and community members, except by special permission or if there are extenuating circumstances. During this time, employees will be allowed to continue their current work arrangements. Presently,  employees are working a combination of:
• Fully on-campus
• Selectively on-campus
• Working from home
Employees who are working from home or selectively on-campus must continue to work with their supervisors to ensure they have the proper technologies to work from home so they may remain effective and productive at their job duties. These employees must also complete their weekly Remote Work Task Assignment forms and have them signed by their supervisor and sent to Human Resources. Returning to normal will not be the focus of Phase 1.
During Phase 1, the college will employ a full arsenal of methods to
ensure proper social distancing. These methods may include:
• Adjusting work schedules
• Limiting the number of people in a workspace
• Alternating workdays for employees
• Adjusting start and end times for employees
• Adjusting entry and exit points in the workplace
Throughout all phases of this plan, UA Cossatot will be mindful of the
CDC’s updated strategies and recommendations for employers
responding to COVID-19 and seeking to resume normal or phased
business operations. They are:
• Conducting daily health checks
• Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
• Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the
workplace
• Improving the building ventilation system

UA Cossatot will also ensure that employees are well-informed regarding safe practices for health monitoring, COVID-19 prevention strategies, social distancing, and proper use of PPE.
During Phase 1, all entrances to campuses will remain locked with the exception of allowing employees into the buildings.
Phase 2 – (June 29th – July 17th)
Phase 2 will begin with all employees back on campus working a staggered on-campus work schedule. Depending on the current health climate in the local area, student athletes and some visitors may be allowed on campus. The college will operate on a four-day work week during Phase 2 (Monday-Thursday) and stagger when employees show up for work.
Supervisors who have employees who work in departments that contain more than two persons will develop a work plan that has an equal number of employees working on Mondays and Wednesdays as there are working on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Employees that aren’t scheduled to work on campus may work from home providing they follow the same protocols detailed in Phase 1. If an employee cannot perform their job duties from home, the supervisor will work diligently to ensure that the employee may work on a separate campus or can work where it is reasonably expected they can effectively social distance from others while on-campus.
During Phase 2, it is expected that there will be a limited number of visitors and student athletes on campus. To accommodate, one entrance to each campus will be unlocked and designated for entry and exit, controlled by UA Cossatot Campus Police.
During Phase 2, the Lockesburg Gymnasium will be available for athletic tryouts and workouts under the strict supervision of the Athletic Director, following all CDC, UA System and NJCAA guidelines for
athletics.
(Please note that during Phase 2 ALL safety and health guidelines noted
for Phase 1 will apply)

Phase 3 – (July 20th – July 31st)
Phase 3 will be the final phase of this plan. Phase 3 will act as precursor to the fall semester and will lead UA Cossatot into the plan for fall that will be assembled by the COVID-19 Task Force.
All employees are expected to return to on-campus work on July 20th.
Employees whose health condition falls within one of the CDC High Risk Categories should work closely with the Human Resources to determine if there is an appropriate temporary workplace adjustment needed to allow a return to campus during this phase. Employees during Phase 3 will be working a four-day work week in their offices. In preparing for Phase 3, and to allow the Facilities Department ample time to complete, UA Cossatot will implement the following modifications to the
workplace:
• Addition of plexiglass to counters where barriers between
employees and those in need of services
• Floors in high traffic areas marked with six-foot separation marks
to identify the amount of space expected between persons
• Changes to office/work assignments where one or more people
share space (i.e., shared cubicles, offices, service counters/desks,
etc.)
• Signs to remind employees that restroom use should be limited
based on size to ensure at least 6 feet of distance between
individuals
• Drinking fountains that have bottle refill stations may be used to
refill bottles, but all other water fountains will have signs that
indicate the water fountain is not to be used.

During Phase 3, certain entrances will remain locked to control the flow of persons entering and exiting campus buildings. (Please note that during Phase 3 ALL safety and health guidelines noted
for Phases 1 and 2 will apply)

Based on CDC strategies to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, UA Cossatot will actively encourage students, faculty, and staff who have been sick with COVID-19 symptoms, tested positive for COVID-19, or have been potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19 (either
through community-related exposure or international travel) to follow CDC guidance to self-isolate or stay home.

Special Notes Applicable to All Phases:
Regarding COVID-19 Reporting By Employees Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should contact Human Resources and should not report to work until their primary care physician has sent a letter of clearance to return to work.
Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are expected to follow their physician’s directives for home quarantine or hospitalized care and may not return to work until the letter of clearance has been received. The office of Human Resources will confirm receipt of the clearance to return to work and will retain this letter in the employee’s personnel file.
Employees living with or caring for an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 are expected to self-quarantine and not to return to work until 14 days after the individual’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis or until said individual has been declared recovered by their doctor and/or state
health officials.
Employees who feel they have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 should contact Human Resources to discuss proper on-campus protocols.
Employees who have or are going to travel to a known “hot spot” for COVID-19 should check with their immediate supervisor to determine the proper protocols for safely returning to work.

Regarding Face Masks
While the CDC strongly encourages the wearing of masks and other PPE, UA Cossatot will require that each employee who reports to campus will wear a facemask or face covering while in public spaces, common areas, and shared workspaces, and when in the presence of others, if appropriate social distancing cannot be achieved. Face masks and face coverings will not be required in individual offices. UA Cossatot will ensure that at least one facemask is provided to each employee. Employees are encouraged to source their own face masks in order to
wear a clean mask at all times.

Regarding Employee Child Care
If childcare availability is limited and/or K-12 schools are closed, departments are encouraged to work with faculty, staff and students to provide flexible scheduling as duties permit.

Regarding High-Risk and Vulnerable Employees
According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions may have a
higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:
• Are over the age of 65
• Suffer from chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
• Suffer from serious heart conditions
• Severely obese (Body Mass Index of 40 or higher)
• Have diabetes
• Suffer from chronic kidney disease
• Suffer from liver disease
• Have a compromised immune system

Employees whose health condition falls within one of the CDC High Risk Categories should work closely with the Human Resources to determine what temporary workplace adjustments may be required to return to campus during any phase of this plan.

Regarding Travel
UA Cossatot employees will be prohibited from travel on behalf of the college, unless it is travel to and from the workplace or between UA Cossatot campuses.

UA Cossatot will continue to address issues related to the COVID-19  pandemic and issue any new guidance and or actions necessary to ensure safe campuses. UA Cossatot will also continue to monitor COVID- 19 trends locally, statewide, and regionally to update guidance as circumstances warrant.

DE QUEEN INDEPENDENCE DAY FESTIVAL CANCELLED 06/15/20

The City of De Queen is cancelling the Let Freedom Ring Festival due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in Sevier County at this time. The city understands that the citizens look forward to this every year. They plan on next years event being “bigger and better than ever!” The city hopes everyone understands this decision.

DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 06/15/20

Representative Deann Vaught reports last week, the House Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs Committee reviewed the 2019 Annual Report from Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division.

This report along with the quarterly reports from the Department of Human Services’ Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are difficult to review but necessary in guiding our decisions of where to place resources.

The annual report states Child Abuse Hot Line operators in the Crimes Against Children Division (CACD) of the Arkansas State Police received 67,420 referrals in the year 2019. Of these referrals, 37,591 were accepted as legally valid allegations of abuse or neglect. They were assigned to the CACD investigators or the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS). In 2019, the hotline received 652 fewer calls than in 2018.

Calls to the hotline include educational and medical neglect, inadequate food and housing, and physical and sexual abuse. DCFS reports neglect is the most commonly reported allegation among those which are found to be true.

Major Jeff Drew with the Arkansas State Police testified that calls to the hotline have dropped in recent weeks as many mandated reporters are not in contact with children. The division is noticing anywhere from 400 to 600 fewer calls a week.

DCFS Director Mischa Martin told committee members that teachers have historically been the highest volume of mandated reporters. The decline in calls to the hotline continues to be of concern.

DCFS made a decision early in the health emergency to continue to place a priority on the safety of children. As a result, employees with the agency have and will continue face to face contact with children.

The report has been posted at www.arkansashouse.org.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline at 800-482-5964.

SEVIER COUNTY RESIDENT ARRESTED FOR BURGLARY LAST WEEK 06/15/20

Frederick Bowers of De Queen was arrested for residential burglary and theft of property Thursday, June 11th, 2020.

According to information provided by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, Bowers entered residence on industrial park road by breaking a lock off a door within the residence. Bowers reportedly stole money from the home and as of Monday morning June 15th, he was still being held in the Sevier County Jail awaiting bond to be set.

The case is under review by prosecutor Erin Hunter.

COVID 19 UPDATE FROM THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH 06/12/20

The COVID-19 statistics for Sevier County as of Thursday afternoon according to the Arkansas Department of Health are as follows:

Total Positives 387 (increase of 5 from Wednesday). Active Positives 161 (decrease of13 from Wednesday). Recoveries 222 (increase of 16 from yesterday). The death toll doubled from 2 to 4. Negative Tests 2,143 ( increase of 43). Statewide, the total cases increased by 448 to 10,816. Active positives increased by 207 to 3,294. The death toll increased by 6 to 171. Wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, and wear face coverings. The Governor advises if you have symptoms, or have been exposed to anyone with the virus, get tested.

UA COSSATOT COLTS BALL PLAYER TO CONTINUE COLLEGE CAREER 06/12/20

After completing two semesters at UA Cossatot, former Colts player La Drakkus Thomas has signed a letter of intent to continue his basketball career at Crowley’s Ridge College in Paragould, Arkansas. Thomas helped lead the Colts to an above .500 finish during the Colts’ 2019-2020 inaugural season. He is looking forward to transferring to Crowley’s Ridge College, where he will have the opportunity to continue playing college basketball and finish his education.

La Drakkus Thomas is from Lafayette, Louisiana, and graduated from Acadiana High School. As a sophomore college student, Thomas joined the Colts basketball team and finished the season with 329 points. He played in every game of the season, led his team in assists, and had a total of 161 rebounds.

Thomas said, “I enjoyed my time at UA Cossatot, which prepared me and gave me an opportunity to transfer to Crowley’s Ridge College. I’m excited to continue playing basketball, and I encourage other student-athletes to consider community colleges, like UA Cossatot, first.  Playing at UA Cossatot gave me great opportunities and created a bridge for me to transfer and continue playing basketball at a four-year college.”

Thomas’s coach this past basketball season at UA Cossatot was Coach Brad Phillips. In March, Phillips took a new position, closer to home, at Crowley’s Ridge College, where he was hired as the new Head Lady Pioneers Basketball Coach.

Coach Phillips said, “I am extremely excited for La Drakkus to be continuing his education and basketball career at Crowley’s Ridge College, and I am looking forward to watching him finish his career with us.”

The 6’7 junior forward will begin playing basketball for the Pioneers this fall.  UA Cossatot is gearing up for a new basketball season and will be holding tryouts this summer, which will be announced at a later date.

For any questions about basketball at UA Cossatot, please contact UA Cossatot’s new Head Basketball Coach and Athletic Director, Robert Byrd at rbyrd@cccua.edu.

LOCAL GROUP CONTINUES PETITION DRIVE-THRU SIGNING EVENTS FOR ALCOHOL ISSUE 06/12/20

The Sevier County EDGE group is holding another Petition Signing event at a Drive Through location this weekend, June 12th and 13th at the Town North Shopping Center (West of Ranch House & Dollar General)  from 8:00am to 7:00pm.
The group is in need of 2,573 valid signatures from registered Sevier County voters in order to get the issue of being allowed to sell alcohol in the county on the November ballot.  So far, a total of roughly 1,500 signatures have been collected up to this point. More information can be found on the vote for growth facebook page. EDGE members say signing petition doesn’t not mean you are for or against the issue. The needed number of signatures on the petition will allow the issue to be put on the ballot so the citizens of Sevier County can decide what they want to see happen with the proposal.

 WOMAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT IN DE QUEEN LAST WEEK 06/12/20

A De Queen woman was arrested for assault after authorities responded to a call at a residence last week.

According to a report released by the De Queen Police Department, Officer James Gilbert was dispatched to a local house on June 2nd for an unknown reason due to a language barrier. Upon arriving at the scene, Gilbert was advised that Melina Langinbelik, age 28 of De Queen had been consuming alcohol and “trying to start a fight with her mother” however, officers were informed that the suspect had left the residence upon their arrival. A short time later, Officer Gilbert was reportedly informed that Melina returned to the residence and after making contact with the suspect, he allegedly witnessed her hit her mother multiple times.

Melina was placed into custody and transported to The Sevier County Jail for assault on a family or household member in the 3rd degree.

The case file has been submitted to the prosecuting Attorney’s office for forthcoming charges.

PHASE II OF OPENING BUSINESS IN ARKANSAS TO GO FORTH DESPITE RISE IN CASES 06/11/20

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Arkansas as the Governor announced 288 new positive Coronavirus reports have been documented since the previous update. The news was reported during the daily Arkansas COVID-19 press conference held Wednesday, June 10th.

Despite the increase in cases, officials have still made the decision to continue lifting additional COVID-19 precautionary restrictions as Phase II of reopening the state’s businesses begins.
The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in Arkansas has now reached 10,368 with 3,087 of those cases considered active. There are now 7,116 Arkansans who’ve recovered from the illness and the number of hospitalized patients continues to rise. Currently, Arkansas has 181 residents hospitalized with COVID-19 and 49 of those patients are on ventilators. The state death toll has reached 165.

Although phase two will begin soon, Social Distancing and Mask wearing will still be encouraged. The Governor says Phase II will affect the capacity for which businesses allow patrons and the change will begin next Monday, June 15th.

Dr. Nathaniel Smith provided a list of the counties with the most active cases throughout the state. Sevier County was reported to have 15 active cases at press conference time. Dr. Smith says tests conducted so far are nearly 1/3 of the way to reaching the goal of 120,000 coronavirus tests for the month of June.

Information from the Governor’s daily press conferences can be heard in the local newscasts on KDQN 92.1 FM.

HORATIO PUBLIC SCHOOLS ANNOUNCE NEW SUPERINTENDENT 06/11/20

Horatio Public Schools announced new leadership is in store for the district next month as Mr. Zane Vanderpool has been selected as the district’s new Superintendent. The news follows Dr. Lee Smith’s announcement of departure for a Superintendent role with Mena schools in May.

The new head Lion comes with 13 years of experience as Principal of Glenn A. Duffy Elementary in Gravette, Arkansas along with 6 years as Assistant Principal of Hunstville Intermediate and Watson Primary school in Hunstville, Arkansas.

Vanderpool’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Arkansas Tech University and a Master’s in Educational Administration from The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Currently, there are 848 students enrolled in the district from Pre-K through 12th grade.

The new Superintendent  will begin his time with Horatio schools July 1st.

MAN ARRESTED ON MULTIPLE CHARGES IN DE QUEEN SUNDAY 06/11/20

A local man was arrested for five offenses after authorities conducted a traffic stop in De Queen this week.

According to a report released by The De Queen Police Department, Officer Robert King observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed and swerving through traffic on Sunday, June 7th. Officer King pulled the car over and identified the driver as Jose Castro-Cienfuegos, age 24 of De Queen.

Officer Brady Hanney began speaking to the suspect and noted that the man’s eyes were “glossy” and an open box of beer was reportedly found in the rear of the car.  Authorities also noted that  a 7-year-old child was in the car with Jose at the time of the traffic stop.

A series of field sobriety tests were conducted at the scene and Jose Castro-Cienfuegos was taken into custody on suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated. The suspect was then transported to the Sevier County Jail where a Blood-Alcohol test was conducted.

The citations against Castro-Cienfuegos include DWI, refusal to submit, no driver’s license, careless and prohibited driving and Endangering the welfare of a minor, 1st degree.

The case file has been submitted to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for charges.

LOCAL COLLEGE OFFERS MANY ONLINE EDUCATION OPTIONS 06/10/20

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges and universities across the nation are offering the majority of their classes strictly online. With so much uncertainty about on-campus course work, college students are being encouraged to sign up for courses with an online format. UA Cossatot, the first college in Arkansas to offer a fully-accredited degree completely online, has been offering online education since 1997 and continues to offer several classes, certificates, and degrees online for students to take at a friendly price.

UA Cossatot has eight associate degrees, two associate of applied science degrees, five technical certificates, and two certificates of proficiency that can be completed 100% online. The majority of classes in other degrees and certificates at UA Cossatot can be completed online as well.

Students can earn degrees and certificates in general studies, business, agriculture, criminal justice, and psychology, to name a few, without ever stepping on one of UA Cossatot’s campuses.

Tuition at UA Cossatot is $74 per credit hour, meaning full-time in-district resident students taking 12 hours can expect to pay less than $1600 a semester. Additionally, UA Cossatot’s online courses generally require no textbook purchases, saving students over $500 each semester.

UA Cossatot was recently listed as one of the Top 60 Online Community Colleges in the nation. Out of 60 colleges, UA Cossatot was ranked at number 15 and was also listed as the most affordable online community college in the country, according to Intelligent.com, a trusted resource for online degree rankings and higher education planning.

UA Cossatot Student Accounts Officer, Tiana Kelly, said, “Taking classes at a community college is a great option. If students are going to have to pay for coursework online, they might as well take them at UA Cossatot, where they will be far cheaper! We are happy to welcome local, transfer, new, and returning students to our college.  UA Cossatot students are given the option to make monthly payments through the mail, online, or over the phone.  To set up payment plans, please call the business office at 870-584-1113.  We would love to help you and answer any questions!”

For more information about online classes or online programs offered at UA Cossatot, please contact Student Services at studentservices@cccua.edu or 870-584-4471.

DIERKS CITY COUNCIL LOWERS SPEED LIMITS FOR RESIDENTIAL STREETS 06/10/20

The city of Dierks has purchased a new garbage truck. Monday evening, the council voted to pay $19,900 dollars on the vehicle which is being purchased from the city of De Queen. The 2012 truck will replace the town’s other garbage truck which is a 2003 model. That vehicle will be used as a backup and allow the city to run both trucks at the same time to help expedite the pickup.

In other business, the concern about speeding motorists will lead to reduced speed limits. Unless posted, the current speed limit is 35 miles per hour on all streets. With action taken by the council, speed limits on all residential streets will become 20 miles per hour. Several new speed limit signs are being ordered to advise motorists of the change. The new lower speed limits will not be in place on main streets such as Highway 70.

During Monday’s meeting the council also agreed to name Bobby Neal as an alderman from Ward Three. Neal was sworn in by mayor Ronnie Cogburn and replaces Chase Quinn who resigned after moving out of the ward area.

FREE FISHING DAYS IN ARKANSAS JUNE 12TH-14TH 05/18/20

Free Fishing Days in Arkansas will begin at noon on Friday, June 12th and continue until midnight Sunday night., June 14. No angler will need a fishing license or trout permit to fish anywhere in Arkansas during this weekend. This is recognized annually across the state as a chance for both residents and nonresidents to fish these days without fishing licenses or trout permits.
Regulations for Arkansas waters apply: daily limits, slot limits and length limits must be observed.

Kids’ Fishing Day normally held at the Commission’s fish hatcheries on Saturday during Free Fishing Weekend has been cancelled because of coronavirus concerns.

Visit AGFC.com for more information.

SEVIER COUNTY QUORUM COURT JUNE MEETING HELD MONDAY 06/10/20

At The Sevier County Quorum Court  meeting held Monday, June 8th, the JPs passed a resolution that allows use of a $20,000 CARES Act grant. The grant connects Sevier County with the U. S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration and the money will counteract a drop in revenue at the J Lynn Helms Sevier County Airport as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

 The court also approved a request to transfer appropriations for the waste department budget, which includes $2,500 for Overtime and other Premium Compensation, along with $2,600 for Salaries Full-Time, $152 for Social Security Matching, $302 for Retirement Matching, and $40 for worker’s Compensation.

The board then approved an ordinance establishing new fund numbers and names necessary for the 1 percent Sevier County Medical Center sales tax.

The court then approved a request for $100 to cover the cost of radio advertising for Arkansas Tourism. The Arkansas Tourism Department is willing to to partner for 30-second radio commercials. The ads will help generate tourist interest in traveling to help make up for lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic. The JP’s approved the expense unanimously.

It was also announced that The Sevier County Library System will remain closed due to COVID-19 cases rising locally, however business can still be conducted through the slot door and are available for information online through their website and Facebook.

The Sevier County Quorum Court Meetings are always held the 2nd Monday of the month at 2:00 p.m.

THE GREAT PASSION PLAY ADAPTS TO SOCIAL DISTANCE RESTRICTIONS    06/10/20

The Great Passion Play is up and running this summer.  They have shows on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in Eureka Springs, AR.

They have limited the capacity of their theater to just 25% to allow for even more than 6 feet between you and other family groups.  This re-opening plan was approved by the Arkansas Department of Health, and they are continuing to take many precautions to keep you and your family safe.
You will find the following when you visit:
  • 6 foot markings in lines to the box office to get tickets, into the theater, and throughout the gift shops and property.
  • Hand sanitizer is available at all entrances to our facility.
  • Every seat that is used is disinfected.
The Holy Land Tour start time has been pushed back to 2:00 pm in June.
We now have Passion Play performances on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for June and July. Check our online schedule for shows in August, September, and October.
The Passion Play is performed in the outdoors with a great amount of space between you and others, and they can’t wait for you to come to Eureka Springs to experience it.  We do have half-priced Adult tickets for the Great Passion Plan on sale here at our #1 Country studios.  If you are looking for something to do this summer for your entire family, this would be a great time to check out the Great Passion Play.  Call us at (870) 642-2446 for more information.
The Great Passion Play is owned by a non-profit organization whose desire is to make the Scriptures come alive and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through live drama. The Great Passion Play is a 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization and all donations are tax-deductible.  If you cannot go or do not feel comfortable attending this summer, you may donate on line to keep this ministry going.
They currently have a $300,000 matching challenge from a family and are asking for your help to meet that goal.  As of June 9th, 2020 they have raised $187,418.  Click here to donate.

SEVIER COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT MONTHLY TOTALS RELEASED 06/09/20

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department has released the total monthly report for May 2020.
Deputies worked:-2,060.5 hours on duty
-22,793 miles driven
-1,625.9 gallons of fuel used
-214 calls taken
-20 Motor Vehicle Accidents worked
-53 traffic stops
-5 citations issued
-50 warnings given
-13 arrests made
-15 civil process served
and 1,265 building checks conducted.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department is located at 137 Robinson Road, De Queen Arkansas and can be reached at 870-642-6100.

DE QUEEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS UPDATE 06/09/20

De Queen Public Schools are currently working on preparations for the 2020-2021 school year and creating plans that align with state guidelines for the return to on-site learning. The first day of school is August 13th. Currently, the school district is providing therapy services to those in need. Some extracurricular groups, such as football, cheerleading, and band have been allowed to resume their summer activities and are following the guidelines provided by the Arkansas Activities Association and health department. We would like to remind everyone that the 2020 Junior Senior Prom will be held July 25th in the high school cafeteria and the 2020 Commencement Ceremony will be July 31st.

Construction Update on New High School and beginning of Phase 2.

DHS students will be returning to school in the fall and will be welcomed with a brand new high school. Construction for the new high school is nearing completion and furniture is expected to begin being moved in this month.

Meanwhile, contractors have been able to begin work on Phase Two of the construction project which is a $2.45 million project for facility improvements. Those improvements included renovating 32,000 square feet of the old high school and will consist of the following:

  • Enlarging the junior high cafeteria by 1200 sq. ft.,
  • Renovating the junior high home economics room
  • Renovating the choir room
  • A new nurse/health center
  • A state of the art television studio and production lab
  • Extra classrooms for the junior high and for possible future district growth.
  • The entire building will have new finishes such as flooring, pain, and ceilings.

Some in the community may have seen that parts of the old high school have been demolished and the district understands that some community members may be feeling emotional about the loss of part of the structure. State funding requirements called for the demolition of 29,000 square feet of the structure. That area will be replaced by a courtyard/commons area that will serve as a gathering place for student activities such as pep rallies, student group meetings, and outdoor classrooms. The district is also currently in the process of parking lot improvements and roof replacement and repairs on several district buildings. These improvements have been made possible because of the community’s commitment to education, and when completed De Queen Public Schools will have one of the finest high school buildings and campuses in the region!

Honoring Retirees

The end of the 2019-2020 school year will also be the last year of service for several employees for De Queen Public Schools. Five employees with a total of 143 years of service in the district are retiring this year.

Robert Sikes                38 years
Phyllis Hughes              39 years
Tambra Smith              24 years
Lora Angerbauer          16 years
Joe Coulter                   26 years

Superintendent Jason Sanders said, “We appreciate our retirees for their years of service and all they have done for the students of De Queen Schools.”  The district would like to thank our retirees for their decades of service, commitment, and dedication to the students of De Queen Public Schools and wish all of them the best as they enjoy retirement.

LOCKESBURG COUNCIL TO MEET TONIGHT 06/09/20

Lockesburg City Council will meet Tuesday, June 9th, 2020, 6:30 P.M.  At the Senior Center.  Items on the agenda include:

  • Visitor Comment time
  • Actions for the Council Members:
        • Approval of May Minutes
        • Approval of May Budget & Council Financials
        • Department Heads
        • Walking Trail
        • Alternative Walking Trail from College
        • Wastewater Discharge Permit has been Approved
        • Speed Bumps
        • Arkansas Rural Development Senior Center Kitchen Grant Approval
        • Resolution 2020- Federal Support to rebuild Local Economies
        • Building Permit 2020-2
        • Other
        • Approval of April Bills
The State Parks division was awarded $9 million for park improvements, including $900,000 for War Memorial Stadium renovations and upgrades, and $9 million to the Division of Arkansas Heritage for various improvement projects around the state.
State law directs the council to use its funds from a real estate transfer tax for the acquisition, management and stewardship of state-owned lands or the preservation of state- owned historic sites, buildings, structures, or objects. The council can spend money on objects determined to be of value for recreational or conservation projects.

UA COSSATOT TO HOLD DRIVE-THRU REGISTRATION 06/08/20

The University of Arkansas Cossatot will be hosting four drive-thru registration events at each campus on June 18 and 19 for students to enroll in classes for the fall semester and July four-week flex courses. Students will also have the opportunity to speak with advisors, ask questions, and request information in-person. UA Cossatot’s Student Services department has been enrolling students in summer and fall classes since April online, over the phone, via zoom, and through Facebook. Registration will continue through these platforms, but these events will provide in-person advising and registration for returning and new students.

The college has organized a two-day drive-thru registration event that will take place at each of the college’s four campuses while following CDC safety guidelines.

The first registration event will take place on Thursday, June 18, at the De Queen Campus from 9:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. Drive-thru registration in Ashdown will take place that evening from 4:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.

On Friday, June 19, Nashville drive-thru registration will take place at Nashville from 9:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., and the last event will take place in Lockesburg from 4:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. on the same day.

Visitors will need to wear a facemask and enter through the main entrance of each campus where they will be directed to the proper station. Returning and first-time students from any county can attend any event to register for classes held at any campus or online.  New students are also encouraged to bring a copy of their shot record, any placement scores, and either their high school transcript or GED scores, if they have them, as this will expedite the process. All students who attend a drive-thru registration event will receive a free UA Cossatot t-shirt.

UA Cossatot Director of Student Services, Suzanne Ward, said, “Since COVID-19 we have moved operations online by taking care of students via e-mail, phone, text, social media, and zoom, but we really miss our students! This event will provide an opportunity for students to receive the friendly one-on-one attention they are accustomed to while also ensuring that proper social distancing and CDC guidelines are followed. We are excited to help students, but also to provide them something safe and fun to do. We plan to have music, snow cones, and maybe some freebies to give away. We hope it will be a fun and productive couple of days!”

For more information about the UA Cossatot drive-thru registration events or to enroll in classes online, please visit UA Cossatot’s Facebook page, www.cccua.edu, or e-mail UA Cossatot’s Student Services department at studentservices@cccua.edu.

REPRESENTATIVE DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 06/08/20

This week, we want to remind you of a rapidly approaching deadline for incoming and returning college students. The deadline to apply for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship is July 1.

The Academic Challenge Program provides scholarships to Arkansas residents pursuing a higher education. Funded in large part by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, the Academic Challenge Scholarship is available to students just graduating from high school, currently enrolled in college, enrolling in college for the first time, or re-enrolling after a period of time out of college.

In the ten years since its inception, the lottery has raised more than $945 million to help provide more than 542,000 scholarships for college students. More than 92 cents of every dollar of lottery revenue goes to prizes, scholarships, retailer commissions, and other expenses in Arkansas.

Eligibility requirements forArkansas high school students include a minimum composite score on nineteen (19) on the ACT or the equivalent score on an ACT equivalent test.

Students who were originally awarded prior to the 2016-17 school year are awarded at the following rates:

Four Year College Two Year College
Year 1 $2000 $2000
Year 2 $3000 $2000
Year 3 $4000
Year 4 $5000

Starting with the 2016-17 school year students are awarded at the following rates:

Year 1 $1000 $1000
Year 2 $4000 $3000
Year 3 $4000
Year 4 $5000

Eligibility requirements have been modified due to COVID-19. For students who are receiving Arkansas Challenge, if they were on track to have enough hours and earned satisfactory academic progress until March 27, they are automatically eligible for the Fall 2021 Semester.

To apply, visit the Department of Higher Education’s website,scholarships.adhe.edu, and complete the Arkansas YOUniversal Scholarship Application or download the free YOUniversal app for your smart phone. The online YOUniversal application is your one-stop shop for state and lottery funded financial aid.

ARKANSAS AG LEADS NATIONAL FIGHT AGAINST ROBOCALLS 06/08/20

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed comments June 4th regarding proposed rules under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would facilitate continued collaboration among state attorneys general and telecom companies in tracing back illegal robocalls to their source. Rutledge, along with the North Carolina Attorney General, is leading the State Attorneys General Robocall Technologies Working Group to submit these comments to the FCC.

“I urge the FCC to swiftly enact these proposed rules which are critical to identifying, investigating and stopping illegal robocallers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Through the trace back process, illegal robocallers and the telecoms that facilitate these illegal calls will finally be exposed and held accountable for the harm they cause Arkansans.”

For the last few years, the State Attorneys General Robocall Technologies Working Group has encouraged the telecom industry to increase the number and speed of trace back investigations. Many telecom companies have joined this effort and are working hard to stop illegal robocallers. Recently, trace back investigations have become more urgent than ever because of coronavirus-related robocall scams, including scams related to coronavirus relief checks, pitches for coronavirus test kits, health plans offering coronavirus testing, work-from-home offers preying on job-seekers, and scams offering relief on utility bills, student loans, taxes, or other debt.

In May, Rutledge also submitted comments to the FCC on proposed rules regarding the implementation of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act). Rutledge’s comments urged the FCC to impose the mandate to implement the caller ID authentication technology, STIR/SHAKEN, on all types and sizes of telecommunication providers, to establish robust standards for any exceptions to this obligation, and that the costs to implement this technology should not be passed on to the consumer.

Rutledge has actively called for telephone carriers to aggressively block illegal robocalls before they reach consumers through ongoing collaborations with the FCC, telecom industry representatives and a coalition of state attorneys general. Rutledge was also instrumental in developing the Anti-Robocall Principles for telecoms to reduce the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls reaching the American people, which was adopted by 51 attorneys general and 12 major telecom providers in August 2019.

In Arkansas, Rutledge continues to lead the fight against robocalls by working with stakeholder to implement Acts 677 and 1074 of 2019 that requires 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.

Arkansas is joined in submitting today’s comments by the attorneys general of all 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

BOARD CONTINUES PUSHING SEVIER COUNTY HOSPITAL PROJECT FORWARD 06/05/20

A productive Sevier County Medical Board of Governors meeting was held Thursday afternoon at the De Queen High School Cafeteria, as the group unanimously agreed to sell the bonds that will fund the new center and it’s operations. Board chairman, Dr. Steve Cole tells KDQN the board will be receiving the final estimation of construction costs to build the new hospital next week, and then a meeting with council  will be held to discuss bond rates.

The board will also be seeking liability insurance and finalizing the details of their contract with Nabholz construction company as well.

The final floor plan of the new medical center is near finalization and the board emphasized the importance of being thorough on the official blueprints before submitting to the architects because no changes will be permitted after ground is broken and the construction process begins. As far as technology for the center goes, a meeting has been scheduled for 10:00 a.m. June 16th for the official selection of an IT firm who’ll provide all technological services for the new Sevier county hospital.

Financially, a list of monetary obligations was laid out to get the board’s upcoming expenses in order. Invoices for the architectural firm, a pro forma statement, the Friday Law Firm, A.L Franks engineering and money owed to the county for the purchase of the land for the center were all included on the list of financial requirements. In order to organize the monetary aspects of the hospital building project, the board agreed to confirm current Vice Chair Greg Revels as the group treasurer as well. Revels offered services from his accounting company in De Queen.

Next week will be a busy one for the board as a zoom video conferencing meeting will be held to view a final design presentation from WD&D architects. The firm will be working closely with Nabholz to coordinate logistics between construction needs and architectural layout.

The final weeks of the phase I planning stage for the new Sevier County Hospital have emerged and phase two, the groundbreaking and construction process will begin upon the planning phase completion.

Lastly, the importance of establishing members to serve on the Foundation was reiterated as that team will need to be assembled in order for a groundbreaking event to be organized when construction begins. Each board member has been asked by Chairman Cole to come up with names of potential community members who would be willing to serve on the Hospital foundation.

All Sevier County Board of Governors meetings are held the first Thursday of each month and are always open to the public.

FITBITS AND AI – TECHNOLOGY MAY HELP IMPROVE QUALITY IN CHICKEN MEAT 06/05/20
By Fred Miller

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Have you ever wondered if your Fitbit could get you a better chicken dinner?

It sounds far-fetched, but that’s not far from what Casey Owens, Qinghua Li and Yan Huang are proposing.

Owens, professor of poultry science, and Yan Huang, assistant professor of animal science, both for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture; and Li, associate professor in the University of Arkansas department of computer science and computer engineering, have been awarded a research grant from the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association for research to detect “woody” breast in broilers using accelerometer technology.

Accelerometers are what make Fitbits work, and lots of other devices that monitor or measure motion. Owens said woody breast is one of numerous potential meat quality defects, and perhaps the one most responsible for dissatisfied chicken consumers.

Defining the problem

Owens, who is the Novus International Professor of Poultry Science at the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture, conducts research on meat quality defects in broiler meat, including woody breast, white striping and others. She has recently developed predictive models for the detection of woody breast in broiler carcasses using image analysis of shapes associated with woody breast, a process for which she is seeking a patent.

Li conducts research in mobile sensing, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity. He has used various sensors on mobile platforms to develop anomaly detection and machine learning technologies to address challenges in multiple disciplines.

“The broiler industry has been challenged with a condition referred to as ‘woody’ breast for the past several years that can affect a significant proportion of products,” Owens said.

“It is a condition that develops early in life and becomes more pronounced as birds get closer to market age,” Owens said. “It results in compositional changes within the meat, namely an increase in collagen and fat, which further impact meat quality.”

Owens said Woody breast has lower water holding capacity and decreased binding ability that affects some processed products. It also causes alterations to cooked meat, making it rubbery, tough, or crunchy.

“The result can be substantial economic losses for the poultry industry,” Owens said. “It can cost the industry millions of dollars annually due to lost yield, increased processing costs for more labor to sort product, and lost business because of customer dissatisfaction.”

The ability to detect woody breast could help avoid those costs, Owens said. She teamed up with Li and Huang to apply technology from the world of fitness and health monitoring to the poultry industry.

Good vibrations

Accelerometers are common technology today, Li said. Designed to measure changes in inertia, they are used in Fitbits and other wrist devices to count steps, smartphones to detect motion, and cars for many purposes, including activating the airbag in an accident. Accelerometers can even measure vibrations, and that is how Li wants to employ them.

“Woody breast must vibrate and transfer vibration differently from normal breast,” Li said. “Modern accelerometers have high resolution, as shown in various health applications, and should be able to capture such differences when combined with machine learning.”

In research expected to begin this fall, Li plans to attach accelerometers to the breasts of live birds in hopes of identifying motions associated with woody breast.

Li will place the devices on top of deboned breast meat. Vibrations will be introduced through a countertop and measured as they move through the meat, he said. These will be correlated with woody breast defects that may be present.

“Preliminary data suggest that muscles can present varying vibration patterns via accelerometers depending on degrees of woody breast severity,” Li said. “It is likely that muscle with increased collagen — indicating woody breast — and normal muscle have rather different mechanical properties that would lead to differences in vibration patterns.”

Owens said, “Development of tools that the industry can use has been an interest for us. We will have the ability to use this technology and combine it with other measurements that we have assessed for woody breast predictors, such as bird and carcass dimensions and fillet hardness.

“This proposed research is novel, unique, and has the potential to provide a useful tool to the poultry industry for detection of woody breast in live broilers and fillets,” Owens said.

Early intervention

Owens said there is a great deal of ongoing research to determine the root causes of this condition in broilers.

Woody breast is more commonly found in older, larger broilers, Owens said, and so it can affect those markets that favor larger birds, and especially larger chicken breasts.

“Developing a more predictive method of identifying birds in the field would allow better selection of animals for research and breeding programs,” she said.

Owens added that online process control is a developing area for the poultry industry because it allows processors to have more real-time quality control. The use of online assessment tools to predict woody breast would be useful to processors for its ability to sort fillets, segregate and divert woody breast away from premium whole muscle products into more suitable products, like patties and nuggets.

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.

ASHDOWN SCHOOL BOARD ANNOUNCES PERSONNEL CHANGES 06/04/20

The Ashdown School Board held a specially called meeting Thursday May 28th to discuss personnel issues and a few new business items. A new job description was recommended by Superintendent Casey Nichols and the Board approved the decision to add a Jr. High stem Coach position which will be effective July 1st.

The Board and Superintendent also established “critical academic licensure areas” for the 2020-2021 school year. The critical shortage stipend will only be applied to new teachers within the locally designated area of Jr. High Mathematics. This applies to teachers who are fully certified at the time of employment.

As far as personnel goes, many changes were made for the faculty and staff of the Ashdown district, including the board’s acceptance of the retirement of Susan Ryan Murray, effective June 30th along with the hire of Stephanie Rowe as a High School English Teacher effective July 1st.

Other personnel changes include the hire of 6th grade science teacher, Madison Taylor who is in the MAT program at Southern Arkansas University, and the move of Audrey Jones from a 205 day contract to one that includes 240. Both of these changes will be effective as of July 1st.

The board agreed to delete the existing transportation director salary and add transportation director to child nutrition director salary and update policy 8.1 to reflect the change, effective July 1. Kellie Hallet was approved to be placed on step 18 of the schedule and the associated $4,000 extra duty pay was removed and will also be effective July 1.

A similar change was made as the board placed Beth Provence on step 22 of the District Business manager, maintenance and technology Director schedule also effective July 1.

The next Ashdown School Board meeting will be held Monday, June 8th at 6:00 p.m.

AGFC ACCEPTING WMA DEER HUNT APPLICATIONS THROUGH JULY 1 06/04/20
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has opened the application period to hunt deer on popular wildlife management areas until July 1st. Hunters interested in pursuing white-tailed deer during the permit-only hunt can apply online at www.AGFC.com

AGFC Wildlife management areas are an excellent opportunity to bag deer during hunting season, but popular hunting areas can become overcrowded without these special restrictions. On many of the most popular areas, the AGFC conducts special draw hunts to maintain healthy deer herds and high-quality hunting experiences.

Applicants for WMA Deer Hunt permits must provide a $5 nonrefundable processing fee at the time of the application for each hunt they apply for. If successful, they will receive their permit without any additional fees. Each hunter may submit one application for each type of permit hunt, youth hunt, archery, muzzle loader and modern gun. Hunters must be at least 6 years old to apply for any WMA permit hunt.

Hunters applying for youth hunts must be at least 6, but no older than 15 the day the hunt begins. To apply, a customer ID must be set up with the AGFC licensing system. They, or their legal guardian must create a new profile with the correct age before the system will show any options to apply for a youth permit hunt. Additionally, youth must use their own customer ID when checking in any big game in Arkansas.

Applicants may apply as individuals or as a group of up to four people. To apply as a group, the party hunt leader applies as though he or she were applying as an individual. Once the permit application is completed and paid for, a party hunt code will be issued and can be found underneath the application line on their updated hunting license via email. They may then share that code with up to three other individuals. The rest of the party must then apply and respond yes when asked if they are members of a party hunt. They may then enter the code and continue applying. Applying as a party does not increase the chances of each individual being drawn. 

Find out more at AGFC.com

DREAM BIG FOR ARKANSAS ALIGNS WITH STATE ECONOMIC RECOVERY TASK FORCE 06/04/20

During the 2019 Legislative Session, the Republican Women Legislative Caucus developed “Dream BIG For Arkansas: Bold Initiatives for the Good of Arkansas” which resulted in legislation in five key areas: healthcare, broadband, childcare, education and juvenile justice reform. All of these bills became Acts with nearly unanimous support from the General Assembly.

 Last week during the Governor’s daily COVID-19 update, Governor Hutchinson outlined a number of recommendations from the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force chaired by Steuart Walton. Three of the key issues they identified as important to Arkansas’s economic recovery and growth are completely in line with legislation our caucus passed: broadband, childcare, and healthcare.

Senator Missy Irvin (R- Mountain View) released the following statement: “Dream BIG for Arkansas successfully designed and passed “game-changing” legislation of policies that would dramatically advance Arkansas’s economic standing in our country. The leadership of these women in their communities and our shared experiences and passion for our citizens, led to great work during the past session. This work continues everyday as we respond to our constituents’ experiences and circumstances. Dream BIG strives to make Arkansans’ lives better. We have a lot of work left to do!”

Act 198: An Act to amend the Telecommunications Regulatory Reform Act of 2013; to provide additional access to Federal Communications Commission-Defined Broadband Service. This Act laid the foundation for the Rural Broadband ID Program that was passed this past fiscal session. Many members of the General Assembly – from both parties – have requested for this program to be fully funded as soon as possible. This program assists local communities along with their internet service providers with grants to meet the federal grant requirements available for expanding rural broadband access for federally eligible rural areas. It is a companion program for Governor Hutchinson’s AR Rural Connect Program, which has been fully funded. Now more than ever, our state must focus on increasing broadband access to the home for students, businesses, and patients.

Act 131: An Act to encourage Child Care Facility Entrepreneurship in Arkansas conferencing the duties of the Division of Child Care and Early Education within the Department of Human Services. This act lays the foundation for the reconnections of the Task Force. This legislation was designed to expand childcare options, especially in underserved areas, by making information more available through a website, reducing regulations as much as possible, and finding ways to fund and support entrepreneurship for child care facilities.

Act 181: An Act concerning the pursuit of a National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Center at the Winthrop P Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; to create the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences National Cancer Institute Designation Trust Fund. Clearly with the current pandemic, there is a great need for UAMS to be fully engaged in ALL areas of research and assistance In order to advance healthcare in Arkansas. UAMS has been a key partner with the Arkansas Department of Health in all areas of dealing with the Coronavirus Pandemic. Pursuing NCI designation has already brought great talent to UAMS and will raise our states opportunities for greater engagement for research and funding for these efforts. This legislation launched UAMS into a higher level of recognition and opportunities. This will be incredibly important for our citizens not just in cancer treatment, but in all areas of improving their health.

The Republican Women’s Legislative Caucus is working to continue our bold initiatives for the Good of Arkansas by building on these key areas of economic recovery and growth as identified by the Task Force, as well as education and workforce sustainability and development. We applaud their work and recommendations and are encouraged to continue our work for

PEACE EVENT AND PRAYER GATHERING IN DE QUEEN THURSDAY AFTERNOON 06/03/20

A peaceful solidarity gathering and prayer walk has been organized by local residents in De Queen for this Thursday, June 4th at 5:00 p.m. The event is family friendly and community leaders have secured the support of The De Queen Police Department for safety and security of all participants.
Social distancing and wearing masks is being strongly encouraged to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The group has been permitted by Superintendent Jason Sanders to gather at the parking lot of Leopard stadium at 4:00 p.m. to make signs and peacefully assemble. The group will then walk to the courthouse downtown and gather for socially distant prayer and allow time for sharing.
Organizers say the event is being called to speak out against violence and racial discrimination against all minorities and people of color.
Everyone is welcome to attend and respect for all participants and property is a priority.
Questions can be referred to DQunity@gmail.com

LOCAL GROUP CONTINUES PETITION DRIVE THROUGH SIGNING EVENTS FOR ALCOHOL ISSUE 06/03/20

The Sevier County EDGE group is holding a Petition Signing with Drive Through locations this week, June 4-6th at the Town North Shopping Center (West of Ranch House & Dollar General)  from 7:00am to 7:00pm.

The signing event on Friday, June 5th will be in Horatio at the Old Irvan’s Grocery parking lot from 1:00pm- 5:30pm.

On Saturday June 5th the event will be held in Lockesburg 7:00am-7:00 p.m on the
Corner of Hwy 71 & Hwy 24 just South of Lockesburg Grocery.
The group is in need of 2,573 valid signatures from registered Sevier County voters in order to get the issue of being allowed to sell alcohol in the county on the November ballot. So far, EDGE  has collected approximately 1,000 signatures up to this point.More information can be found on the vote for growth facebook page.EDGE members say signing petition doesn’t not mean you are for or against the issue. Signing the petition allows the issue to be put on the ballot so the citizens of Sevier County can decide what they want to see happen with the proposal.

SEVIER COUNTY 4-H’ER WINS BEST IN SHOW IN STATE PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST  06/02

Monica Rivas recently received first place and best in show for the 2020 State Ross Foundation 4-H Photography Contest. The contest provides an opportunity for Arkansas 4-H’ers to demonstrate, compete, and exhibit their photography skills. All 4-H members ages 9-19 are eligible and may enter a unique, original photo into each category. Categories are living color, non-living color, living black and white, and non-living black and white. Every year, hundreds of youth compete to win one of four places in the state competition. To view all winning photos, visit the Arkansas 4-H Photography Facebook Page.

Monica Rivas is the daughter of Jorge and Donna Rivas. She has been a member of 4-H for nine years.

For information about joining a 4-H club, contact Sevier County Extension Service at (870) 584-3013 or email kfrachiseur@uaex.edu.

BODY OF MISSING GIRL FOUND AT BROKEN BOW LAKE 06/02/20

The McCurtain County Sheriff’s Department recovered the body of a missing minor Tuesday morning. Social media posts asking for help in searching for Layla Johnson began circulating Monday after the child disappeared during a family gathering at Broken Bow Lake.

The search was concentrated in the area of Carson Creek and The Oklahoma Highway Patrol Water Safety Division assisted in the search.

The family was in from out of town and were reportedly visiting from California and Texas.

Foul play has not been suspected and the body has been sent for an autopsy report.

Layla Johnson was 11-years-old.

COVID-19 CONTINUES TO RISE IN ARKANSAS, SEVIER COUNTY 06/01/20

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas topped 7,000 over the weekend. As Arkansas lifts restrictions on more and more areas of daily life, a downward trend in coronavirus infections that began near the end of April has been trending back up since the second week of May. On Saturday, the number of cases rose by 236, to 7,013, marking the third-straight day of new cases in excess of 200. The number of deaths rose to by one, to 133, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Active cases statewide total 1,714.

In Sevier County, the total number of cases grew to 170 on Saturday. There are 98 active cases and two deaths due to Covid-19 as of now in Sevier County. 451 new tests were administered during a five-hour drive-through screening site set up Saturday at the De Queen Fire Department. The event was hosted by the Arkansas Department of Health, along with local assistance from Dr. Randy Walker, Dr. Jason Lofton, their staffs, and volunteers. The results of those 451 tests should be available in two to three days.

In neighboring counties, Howard County reports 20 cases with 15 recoveries and no deaths resulting in five active cases at present. Polk County reports 17 cases with nine recoveries and no deaths resulting in eight active cases. Little River County reports six cases with three recoveries and no deaths resulting in three active cases. And across the state line in Oklahoma, McCurtain County reports 35 cases with 13 recoveries and one death resulting in 21 active cases.

As of Sunday evening in Sevier County it was reported that there were 210 cases, 75 recoveries, 2 Deaths, 133 active cases , 930 negative tests.
“As a reminder, precautions such as social distancing, hand-washing, and wearing masks continue to be the best ways to slow the spread of the virus. These precautions are becoming more important as the state continues to open back up. Remember that no out-of-pocket cost and no insurance is required to be tested at local community health centers. Testing is available to anyone who wants a test regardless of whether the person has symptoms. Anyone who tests positive will be notified and provided guidance for isolating to avoid spreading COVID-19.

DE QUEEN GRAD AWARDED PRESIDENTIAL SCHOLARSHIP TO TEXAS A&M TEXARKANA 06/01/20

De Queen honor graduate Emma Kersey has been awarded the Presidential Scholarship at Texas A&M Texarkana totaling $34,000.  She plans to major in Financial Business.
Emma is a member of National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Young Voters, FCCLA, FFA, and Gifted and Talented.  She also participates in Lady Leopard softball, tennis and cheers for the Leopards.
Emma received the AVANT National Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish, Rotary March Student of the Month, and all A Honor Roll.  She has also been accepted as an Honors Student at Texas A&M.

ARKANSAS AG SECRETARY ELECTED TO NEW POSITION 06/01/20

Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward was elected President of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA) for 2020-21 during its annual conference held virtually on June 1.

“Agriculture is our state’s largest industry and I am proud to represent Arkansas within the SASDA organization,” said Ward. “It is a great honor to be elected as President and I am looking forward to helping lead the 16 southern states and territories in promoting southern agriculture at the federal level.”

Arkansas will host SASDA’s annual conference in Little Rock in 2021.

The officers elected for the 2020-2021 year also include Commissioner Kent Leonhardt of West Virginia as Vice President, Commissioner Rick Pate of Alabama as Secretary, and Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh of Virginia as Treasurer.

SASDA consists of the commissioners, secretaries and directors of agriculture from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 06/01/20

On Wednesday, members of the Arkansas Legislative Council were given an update on unemployment claims in the state. This week, we have also been reviewing a preliminary report from the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force.

Arkansas’s unemployment rate doubled from 5.0% in March to 10.2% in April. The U.S. rate is 14.7%. There were more than 206,000 of initial unemployment claims filed from the week ending March 7 to the week ending May 9. For the week ending May 2, there were 119,332 continued unemployment claims.

Since May 1, close to 39,000 Arkansans have applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance resulting in $19.3 million of paid claims. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is being offered through the CARES Act and provides compensation to those not typically eligible for unemployment benefits such as free-lancers and those who are self-employed.

If you have filed for unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, be sure to check your emails for updates to your account and make sure you submit your weekly claims.

While Arkansas’s economy is faring better than many other states, the fact remains that Arkansans are hurting. The challenge now is to restore our economy and consumer confidence in a way that protects the health of workers, customers, and communities.

The Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force was created in April to develop a strategy for economic recovery efforts.

The task force released a preliminary report this week outlining several recommendations. Those recommendations include increase testing and tracing, addressing COVID-19 related liability concerns for businesses, increasing childcare resources, workforce training, and broadband availability.

The task force noted that much of Arkansas’s recovery will be predicated by our citizens and our businesses continuing to be responsible stakeholders in the recovery efforts. The report states, “Over the next few months, we will all need to adhere to Arkansas’s Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control’s directives in order to manage the impact of COVID-19 throughout our state. Importantly, we need Arkansans to maintain social distancing protocols set out by the Arkansas Department of Health in public settings. Doing so will help protect our friends and relatives from the spread of the virus and undoubtedly accelerate our state’s economic recovery.”

You can read the entire report at www.arkansasready.com

DE QUEEN LEOPARDS RETURN TO FOOTBALL IN EARLY STAGES 06/01/20

The De Queen Leopard Football Team is back in action this June. The early stages of practice begun today, June 1st as Coach Brad Chesshir reports 28 athletes turned out at Leopard stadium. Although the team is unable to scrimmage full out at this time due to COVID-19, the team still went over safety precautions that must be followed for phase one work outs. The leopards split their time between the weight room and field in two separate groups and all equipment is being sanitized between uses.

The morning session at 9am is being held for the 10th, 11th and 12th graders and the 8th and 9th graders begin at 10:30am Monday-Thursday.

The health department will reevaluate guidelines again June 30th and Chesshir says the health and safety of the students is the top priority of the program.