Monday, January 17, 2022
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ADH reports state’s highest ever single-day increase in COVID cases on Thursday      12/31/21

Arkansas reported a record single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

During his weekly press conference, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said state health officials recorded nearly 5,000 new cases over a 24-hour period. This is the highest one-day increase in Arkansas since COVID-19 emerged two years ago.

Active cases saw a correspondingly high increase and now total more than 18,000 across the state.

In all, the Arkansas Department of Health states there have been more than 562,000 transmissions of COVID-19 since the spring of 2020.

Deaths rose by 18 on Thursday for a total of 9,131 since the pandemic began. Currently 585 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

As part of the state’s effort against the surge of omicron cases, Hutchinson said the state is seeking 1.5 million at-home COVID-19 tests through the federal government. These tests would be free and available at public locations throughout Arkansas communities.

Regular PCR and antigen tests remain in adequate supply in Arkansas.

Hutchinson then addressed the return of school next week. He said Arkansas is committed to maintaining in-person instruction through the remainder of the school year.

State officials also addressed the shortage of monoclonal antibody treatments throughout the state. These treatments have proven effective in limiting severe symptoms in people who contract the virus.

The state is also sharing updated COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidelines. Anyone who tests positive for the virus should isolate themselves for a minimum of five days. Following those five days, and if no symptoms are present, the individual is able to leave isolation. If fever persists, the individual should continue to isolate until at least 24 hours after their fever is resolved.

Quarantine guidelines for those exposed to a COVID-positive individual include staying home for five days if the individual is not fully vaccinated and boosted. Quarantine guidelines are much more relaxed for individuals who have been exposed but are fully vaccinated and boosted.

ARHOME launches Jan. 1      12/31/21

When the new year begins, the Arkansas Works program will have a new name and will operate under new rules.

ARHOME is the new Medicaid program. Unlike the previous program, it will focus on specific groups, such as pregnant women, residents of rural areas who suffer from mental illness or who have a history of drug abuse, people with chronic disease and young people who are veterans or who lived in foster homes.

Their health insurance carriers will have to meet specific goals. If not, they will have to follow an action plan designed to improve performance, or face financial penalties in 2023.

Arkansas Works was the name of the state’s Medicaid expansion plan. It covered 319,000 people between the ages of 19 and 64 last year.

About 10 years ago people in that income range earned too much money to qualify for traditional Medicaid, which provides government-subsidized health coverage for low-income families. They became eligible under the national Affordable Care Act, which every state implemented in its own way.

Rather than simply expand the eligibility criteria for traditional Medicaid, Arkansas covered the new group of enrollees under a plan that relies on private health insurance. At first it was called the private option. It became known as Arkansas Works after the legislature changed the rules to require recipients to work, or look for work, in order to qualify.

Other states also had work requirements too, but they all were stricken by the federal courts after legal challenges.

Like the private option and Arkansas Works, ARHOME will use Medicaid funding to purchase private health insurance for individuals who qualify financially.

In response to the federal courts striking down the work requirement, ARHOME will have a new incentive to encourage recipients to look for a job. If participants fail to look for work, they will be transferred out of private insurance and into the traditional Medicaid program, which doesn’t provide as many benefits.

Health officials are excited about the maternal care that ARHOME will provide women and their newborn children. Medical teams will have incentives to identify and care for women whose pregnancies are high risk, through home visits during the pregnancies and until the newborn is two years old.

The expectation is that the home visits will reduce infant mortality, and increase the percentage of infants who are fully immunized against chronic and deadly diseases.

Officials at the Department of Human Services count on ARHOME being more financially efficient. Last fiscal year, Arkansas Works spent $2.46 billion. Of that amount, 90 percent came from the federal government and 10 percent was appropriated by state government.

Improving the health of high-risk populations should hold down the cost of providing medical coverage through Medicaid.

Parts of ARHOME are designed to lift young people out of poverty, which would benefit the state’s long-term fiscal condition.

When the new year begins, the Arkansas Works program will have a new name and will operate under new rules.

ARHOME is the new Medicaid program. Unlike the previous program, it will focus on specific groups, such as pregnant women, residents of rural areas who suffer from mental illness or who have a history of drug abuse, people with chronic disease and young people who are veterans or who lived in foster homes.

Their health insurance carriers will have to meet specific goals. If not, they will have to follow an action plan designed to improve performance, or face financial penalties in 2023.

Arkansas Works was the name of the state’s Medicaid expansion plan. It covered 319,000 people between the ages of 19 and 64 last year.

About 10 years ago people in that income range earned too much money to qualify for traditional Medicaid, which provides government-subsidized health coverage for low-income families. They became eligible under the national Affordable Care Act, which every state implemented in its own way.

Rather than simply expand the eligibility criteria for traditional Medicaid, Arkansas covered the new group of enrollees under a plan that relies on private health insurance. At first it was called the private option. It became known as Arkansas Works after the legislature changed the rules to require recipients to work, or look for work, in order to qualify.

Other states also had work requirements too, but they all were stricken by the federal courts after legal challenges.

Like the private option and Arkansas Works, ARHOME will use Medicaid funding to purchase private health insurance for individuals who qualify financially.

In response to the federal courts striking down the work requirement, ARHOME will have a new incentive to encourage recipients to look for a job. If participants fail to look for work, they will be transferred out of private insurance and into the traditional Medicaid program, which doesn’t provide as many benefits.

Health officials are excited about the maternal care that ARHOME will provide women and their newborn children. Medical teams will have incentives to identify and care for women whose pregnancies are high risk, through home visits during the pregnancies and until the newborn is two years old.

The expectation is that the home visits will reduce infant mortality, and increase the percentage of infants who are fully immunized against chronic and deadly diseases.

Officials at the Department of Human Services count on ARHOME being more financially efficient. Last fiscal year, Arkansas Works spent $2.46 billion. Of that amount, 90 percent came from the federal government and 10 percent was appropriated by state government.

Improving the health of high-risk populations should hold down the cost of providing medical coverage through Medicaid.

Parts of ARHOME are designed to lift young people out of poverty, which would benefit the state’s long-term fiscal condition.

First Day Hikes at CRSP, Crater of Diamonds      12/31/21

Guided New Year’s Hike back on at CRSP

WICKES – A New Year’s tradition continues at Cossatot River State Park and, unlike 2021, is back to normal.

Cossatot River State Park and others across the state will kick off the New Year by encouraging Arkansans to participate in a guided First Day Hike. The guided hike has been a yearly tradition for many at Cossatot River and other state parks across Arkansas. However, last year guided hikes were canceled due to COVID-19 and participants were invited to take self-guided hikes instead.

This year, however, the guided hike by state park interpreters is back on. Cossatot River will host its guided hike from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the beautiful two-mile Harris Creek Trail and on to scenic Goat’s Bluff Overlook. Participants are asked to meet at the Visitor Center. Of course, visitors are also invited to take their own self-guided hikes for this New Year’s tradition.

Cossatot River State Park, located east of Wickes on Highway 278 and just a short 40-minute drive from De Queen, features four scenic trails spanning nearly 20 miles. That includes the beautiful and rugged 14-mile Cossatot Corridor Trail.

Visitors who log their hikes and miles that take place at Cossatot River State Park can share their experiences at www.ArkansasStateParks.com/FirstDayHikes. In return, they’ll receive a free sticker for themselves and each person in their group.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is also hosting a First Day Hike this Saturday, Jan. 1. 2022 also marks a special year for the park with Crater of Diamonds celebrating its 50th year as an Arkansas State Park. On Jan. 1, be among the first to visit the Crater on its golden anniversary year, and learn about the park’s fascinating history and geology along a guided hike through the diamond search area.

The hike will begin at 10:30 a.m. and end around noon. Gates will open 15 minutes early for participants to arrive and gather with the park superintendent in the main parking area near the Visitor Center. Late entries will not be permitted. Hikers should dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes, and be prepared to walk about one mile. All park facilities will be closed on New Year’s Day, and diamond searching will not be allowed during the hike. The park will resume normal operations at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 2.

The 37.5-acre search area at Crater of Diamonds State Park is the eroded surface of an ancient, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe. The ground is plowed periodically, as weather allows, to loosen the soil and promote diamond finds. Parts of the search area may be steep and uneven; care should be taken in these areas to help prevent falls.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on Arkansas Highway 301 in Murfreesboro.

Arkansas State Parks are of course asking visitors to recreate responsibly and abide by rules instituted due to COVID-19.

Visitors are asked to wear facemasks in all public indoor spaces when others are present and if social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible. Park staff will continue to follow CDC and Arkansas Department of Health guidelines by wearing facemasks while in public buildings in contact with visitors.

The visitor center at Cossatot River State Park will be closed Jan. 1 for the New Year holiday but the trails will remain open. For more information, visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com

Bond set at $250,000 for man arrested following manhunt, assault on deputy      12/30/21

DE QUEEN – Bond has been set for a Dierks man accused of stealing a Sevier County deputy’s patrol vehicle, assaulting him and then leading police on an hours-long manhunt earlier this month.

According to documents filed with the Sevier County Circuit Court on Wednesday, a $250,000 bail amount was set for 39-year-old Justin Keaster. Keaster has been charged with multiple felony counts in Sevier County, including aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, possession of a firearm by a felon and aggravated robbery.

Keaster is also facing charges in Pike County, including commercial burglary and felony theft of property.

Contrary to earlier reporting stating he was a resident of Polk County, Keaster’s last known address is listed in Dierks.

Keaster was arrested on Dec. 15 following a six-hour manhunt around Dierks Lake. Authorities allege Keaster fled from police in a stolen ARDoT truck before ambushing Sevier County Investigator Jeff Wahls, stealing his service pistol and patrol vehicle. The patrol vehicle was later found wrecked and abandoned in an area around Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake.

A fight ensued between Wahls and Keaster, during which Keaster gained possession of the investigator’s firearm. Keaster then allegedly fired off a round from the handgun into the air. Wahls was injured during the altercation although not by gunfire. Wahls was later transported to a nearby medical center and has since fully recovered.

Authorities initiated a BOLO alert for Keaster, providing his description and informing the public he was armed and considered extremely dangerous.

Keaster was later located by law enforcement agents who used tracking dogs, horses and drones to conclude the manhunt. Fortunately, no one else was injured during the incident or subsequent arrest. In all the search lasted around six hours.

Keaster is currently in the Sevier County Jail awaiting his first court appearance, scheduled for Jan. 13.

Gillham set to receive $300,000 from state for road improvements      12/30/21

GILLHAM – Big news in Gillham, which is set to receive $300,000 through a state grant program for street improvement projects.

Gillham Mayor Lester Overturf announced on Wednesday the town had received the grant through the State Aid Street Committee. The funds will be used to overlay Fifth Street, Sixth Street, Fourth Street, College Avenue, Front Street, Braley Avenue, South Second Street, Oak Avenue and Hornberg Avenue. Funds will also provide for the surfacing of Fifth Street and Pine Avenue.

State law requires that the Arkansas Department of Transportation oversee the construction contract for these city street projects.

Gillham city officials said higher-than-expected material costs, as well as recommendations by engineers, may mean some of the above mentioned streets will have to be left out of the proposed improvements.

Work will be bid out on the state level and is expected to begin in the summer of 2022.

The City of Gillham is also challenging its homeowners to clean up vacant lots to either develop or sell them. One of the stated goals is to have a Dollar General open in the town. Residents of Gillham are also reminded city council meetings are held the third Monday of each month and are open to the public. The public is invited to join in these meetings and help Gillham grow as a community.

One of 2021’s biggest stories is progress on SCMC      12/30/21

DE QUEEN – One of the biggest stories of the year in Sevier County is the progress made on the Sevier County Medical Center. And with the new year almost here, the opening of the new hospital isn’t much further.

In less than a year, the site located several miles north of De Queen on Highway 71 has transformed from a forest into a hospital facility just months away from completion. Construction of the new hospital, which will include 14 beds when completed, is expected to finish in the spring of 2022. A tentative opening date has been set for May.

The new hospital also saw the first staff hires over the summer, including CEO Lori House. Stacy Dowdy, the hospital’s chief nursing officer, joined later in the year. Several other staff members have joined since. The rest of the hospital’s staff, from custodians to doctors, will be recruited in the coming months as construction winds down.

Tax revenue which supports the hospital has also been exceptionally strong this year, no doubt due in part to more people shopping at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those funds, the board has previously stated, will be used as a “war chest” to help fund the hospital in the vital year before it is eligible to become a critical access hospital and thereby receive additional Medicare reimbursement.

Earlier this month the hospital board also discussed the recently completed Community Health Needs Assessment. This study set out to determine the leading health issues in Sevier County and how the new hospital could address them.

The assessment identified heart disease and cancer as the leading causes of death for Sevier County residents in 2019 – the same as on the state and national level. Hypertension, diabetes, obesity and nutritional issues were also health needs identified by both the community and healthcare professionals in Sevier County as leading factors impacting the health of local residents.

The assessment also identified the potential for the hospital to partner with local physicians and clinics to offer services such as neurology and urology to save travel for many patients in the hospital’s service area.

Recommended services for the hospital include routine ones such as emergency room, radiology and lab and pathology services. Other recommended services include wound care, especially given the high level of diabetes in Southwest Arkansas, as well as chronic care management, telemedicine and behavioral health.

The hospital board is scheduled to convene for its first meeting of 2022 on Jan. 6.

New Year’s holiday closings      12/30/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Courthouse will also be closed tomorrow Friday, Dec. 31 for the New Year’s holiday. The Sevier County Landfill and all solid waste satellite stations will be closed Saturday, Jan. 1 for the New Year holiday. The courthouse and landfill will reopen for normal hours of operation on Monday, Jan. 3. All solid waste satellite stations will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 4 from 7 a.m. to noon.

The City of De Queen will also be closed tomorrow, Dec. 31 in observance of New Year’s. Friday’s trash, as well as Thursday’s, will be picked up today. The city’s trash route will return to normal next week.

Wednesday’s rainfall hopefully brings improvement to tail end of Arkansas’ waterfowl hunt      12/30/21

As this week’s Waterfowl Report was being composed Wednesday morning, a usual sight was occurring: A steady rain was falling.

That’s the best news for duck hunters in some time around these parts. The hope among most hunters is that this first line of rain passing through Arkansas at midweek won’t be the end of it, and maybe at some point over the weekend, winter’s temperatures will finally arrive, too, pushing out the lingering mid-autumn conditions.

Dry and warm are words that don’t equate to good duck hunting, and that’s being experienced in neighboring states as well.

The AGFC’s December aerial survey of waterfowl revealed the second lowest number of mallards and all ducks since the surveys began in 2009. The survey team will be back in the air on Monday, Jan. 3, through midweek next week to see if anything has improved.

Arkansas’s neighbors don’t seem to be faring any better in overall expected duck numbers and mallard numbers, based on their recent surveys.

In lieu of any better duck numbers, we turn to the National Weather Service for hopes of better finish to the 2021-22 season. The potential for strong to severe thunderstorms was expected through Wednesday evening and again Friday evening through Saturday morning, although actual rainfall total predictions were not forthcoming.

AGFC officials say the state was in need of a lengthy 4-inch-or-more rain event to bring the duck habitat up to a level that would be more inviting to migrating waterfowl.

Water, more than colder weather, has been the biggest need, biologists say.

DQ City Council’s first meeting of 2022 set for Jan. 4      12/30/21

DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council is scheduled to convene for its first meeting of 2022 on Tuesday, Jan. 4, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the De Queen City Hall.

Items on the agenda include a resolution setting the days and times of future city council meetings. Other business includes resolutions on the city’s annual contracts with the Sevier County Humane Society, Historical Society and the De Queen Senior Citizens Center. Finally, the council is expected to appropriate funds for the city’s purchase of a home at 221 North First Street, located just behind city hall.

The meeting is open to the public.

Unemployment figures in SWAR lowest on record     12/29/21

DE QUEEN – The unemployment rate in Southwest Arkansas and throughout much of Arkansas has fallen to the lowest figures on record.

Newly released data shows Sevier County’s unemployment has consistently trended downwards, similar to the state and national averages as the economy continues to recover from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new data details Sevier County’s unemployment rate in October – the latest month for which county-by-county data is available. The unemployment rate fell to 2.5 percent, the lowest on record. That rate is below the state average of 3.4 percent and the U.S. average of 4.2 percent. The rate of 2.5 percent ranks Sevier County at 34th across the state.

Sevier County’s unemployment rate reached a high shortly after the pandemic entered Arkansas but has consistently fallen back to pre-pandemic levels since then. The current rate is the lowest in decades.

Out of a work force of 5,528 people in Sevier County only 138 are currently recorded as unemployed. The county’s highest unemployment rate was recorded a decade ago, in January 2011 with 10.3 percent.

Of course, it’s important to note the rate does not reflect those who are under-employed – that is, they’re not receiving as much work as they would like. The figure does not include people who are currently unemployed but are no longer receiving benefits. The unemployment rate is not a perfect metric for economic activity in an area but it does show that unemployment is falling among area residents.

Neighboring Little River County’s October unemployment data shows the county has only a slightly higher unemployment rate than Sevier County at 2.7 percent.

Howard County currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at two percent.

Benton County is reporting the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 1.6 percent. Chicot County continues to report the highest at 5.4 percent. That is significantly lower, however, than the 12 percent reported in Chicot County during the height of the pandemic last year.

State economic officials have touted the lower unemployment rates as a sign Arkansas’ economy is quickly rebounding from the economic consequences of COVID-19. However, the low unemployment rates have also created a tight labor market, causing worker shortages felt by almost every business and industry in the state. Coupled with high demand, not just for Christmas but because of an overall economic recovery following last year’s COVID-related shutdowns, the historically-low unemployment figures means many businesses are struggling to find workers and may continue to struggle on the road ahead.

UAEX offers new “adulting” podcast to help young people navigate financial life     12/29/21

There are some things that high school just doesn’t teach. Though teens may feel academically prepared for college or ready to take on a job, they often find themselves unprepared for some of the responsibilities that accompany those big milestones.

Alison Crane, a family and consumer science agent with the Cooperative Extension Service in Garland County, realized this as her youngest daughter, Jolie, was preparing to go to college. Crane shared the idea for an “adulting class” with fellow family and consumer science agents within the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

The response, she said, was tremendous.

Crane worked with agents from more than a dozen counties to create Grown Up U: Facts for Success, a new podcast that provides teens and young adults with practical information they need to successfully navigate life on their own.

New episodes are posted weekly and can be accessed through Apple, Spotify, Facebook and online at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/grown-up-u.

High school students planning to attend college will find several useful episodes. In the first episode, extension agents offer tips for making the transition to college or to a first job. Crane has a segment that teaches college students how to budget their FAFSA return.

Additional episodes are dedicated to personal finance — setting up bank accounts, learning budgeting basics, buying versus renting, paying bills and avoiding late fees and shut-off notices.

The most recent postings in December offer information on buying a car, the basics of car insurance and credit card selection.

New episodes planned for January include:

  • 5 – Basic Budgeting – Getting Started
  • 12 – Filing taxes (part 1)
  • 19 – Filing taxes (part 2)
  • 26 – Assessing personal property

New episodes are posted on Wednesdays, and each episode runs no longer than 30 minutes.

Albert Pike will remain day-use only     12/29/21

LANGLEY – Officials with the Ouachita National Forest say the future use of the Albert Pike Recreation Area will remain day-use only following a year-long public comment period.

The decision states the Ouachita National Forest will not reopen Albert Pike Recreation area to overnight camping. The recreation area will continue to be day-use only, with no overnight camping or long-term use options permitted. Infrastructure will be decommissioned in some areas and be allowed to return to natural conditions, the notice stated. Other changes include reusing Loop D to provide Day Use parking facilities. Loops are smaller camping spots within a campground.

The decision follows a public comment period held over the last year.

“The decision provides a safe, well-maintained facility with year-round sustainable Day-Use recreation opportunities including swimming, picnicking, and fishing,” said Caddo-Womble District Ranger, Amanda Gee. “The Day-Use area will be opened to the public once a vault toilet has been installed.”

The Albert Pike Recreation Area has been closed and unmaintained since June 10, 2010, when a devastating 500-year flood claimed the lives of 20 people camping in the park. Previously the park had been a very popular outdoor area for campers far and wide.

The Final Decision can be found on the Ouachita National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/AlbertPike.

For more information, call the Caddo-Womble District office at (870) 867-2101 or by emailing christopher.ham@usda.gov.

2021 brings relief to cattle market industry     12/29/21

An element of uncertainty for beef producers coming into 2021 turned to relief as retail markets reopened and people began eating out again after a year of lockdown because of COVID-19.

The pandemic hit beef markets hard in 2020, and the industry was hoping 2021 would be a year of recovery, said James Mitchell, assistant professor and extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. As things COVID restrictions began to loosen up, demand for beef was higher and prices rebounded.

Some of the challenges of 2020 initially spilled over into 2021 and were complicated by the weather for Arkansas’ predominantly cow-calf operations.

Cooler spring weather stalled warm season grasses and armyworms hit a lot of fields all summer long, creating a shortage of hay. That shortage was compounded when some producers had to feed hay early because drought had dried up pastures.

Very dry weather in many areas of the state, even reaching drought conditions in some places, reduced hay crops by 13 percent according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Oct. 1 estimates. Milder summer weather and adequate rainfall in parts of the state helped some producers make up their shortages. Hay shortages and high grain prices have driven many beef operations to liquidate their herds. Despite the extra cattle moving into beef production, cattle prices have remained high and driven the cattle cycle further into a liquidation phase.

Beef cow slaughter is averaging 10 percent to 12 percent higher this year, which implies an 11.5 percent cull rate. Mitchell said that was higher than usual, mostly because of droughts in the west. “But high demand for ground beef kept prices up despite the greater number of culled cows.”

Mitchell said the markets were seeing 17 percent higher prices for culled cows.

The current cycle began with herd expansion in 2014 and peaked in 2018-2019, he said. Since then, declining cattle prices mixed with drought, mostly in the west, have driven a liquidation phase. Eventually, declining cattle inventories will drive up prices, which is what experts in the field expect to see next fall.

On the bright side, Arkansas beef producers may see more local marketing opportunities opening up. The local foods movement is a big help. There continues to be a strong interest in locally grown beef.

February trial date set for DQ man charged with negligent homicides     12/28/21

DE QUEEN – A jury trial is scheduled in February for a De Queen man facing two counts of negligent homicide.The felony charges were filed last year against Hugo Hernandez, a 24-year-old resident of De Queen. The charges stem from an accident in Sevier County that killed two people in 2020.

According to court records, Hernandez is facing two counts of negligent homicide as well as driving while intoxicated and felony battery for his role in the accident that occurred on June 28 of last year.

Prosecutors with the Ninth West Judicial District allege Hernandez was responsible for the death of two people in that accident. Authorities claim he was driving while intoxicated when the accident occurred.

State police records show 22-year-old Bernard Edwards, Junior, of Fulton and an unidentified minor were killed in that accident.

Hernandez was arrested after charges were formally filed following an investigation into the accident. He was charged with negligent homicide for the deaths of the minor and Edwards, felony battery for the injuries sustained to the other passenger, and driving while intoxicated. He was initially released from jail after posting bond on a $75,000 bail amount. However, his bond was revoked following his arrest for public intoxication in Hot Springs earlier this year.

Hernandez is scheduled to appear before the Sevier County Circuit Court for a rescheduled pre-trial hearing on Jan. 27. If he maintains his plea of not-guilty, a jury trail will be held Feb. 6. Hernandez could receive up to 20 years in prison for each of the two negligent homicide charges as well as additional time for the charges of driving while intoxicated and felony battery.

In addition, the victim’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against Hernandez and five other individuals who the family alleges served alcohol to Hernandez prior to the accident. The names of the five individuals listed as defendants are not listed in the suit.

The family is asking for a jury trial in the civil lawsuit. The family said they are seeking a monetary judgment against Hernandez for both economic and non-economic damages they’ve suffered due to Edward’s death.

CRSP, Crater of Diamonds welcomes everyone to participate in New Year’s Hike     12/28/21

WICKES – A New Year’s tradition continues at Cossatot River State Park and, unlike 2021, is back to normal.

Cossatot River State Park and others across the state will kick off the New Year by encouraging Arkansans to participate in a guided First Day Hike. The guided hike has been a yearly tradition for many at Cossatot River and other state parks across Arkansas. However, last year guided hikes were canceled due to COVID-19 and participants were invited to take self-guided hikes instead.

This year, however, the guided hike by state park interpreters is back on. Cossatot River will host its guided hike from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the beautiful two-mile Harris Creek Trail and on to scenic Goat’s Bluff Overlook. Participants are asked to meet at the Visitor Center. Of course, visitors are also invited to take their own self-guided hikes for this New Year’s tradition.

Cossatot River State Park, located east of Wickes on Highway 278 and just a short 40-minute drive from De Queen, features four scenic trails spanning nearly 20 miles. That includes the beautiful and rugged 14-mile Cossatot Corridor Trail.

Visitors who log their hikes and miles that take place at Cossatot River State Park can share their experiences at www.ArkansasStateParks.com/FirstDayHikes. In return, they’ll receive a free sticker for themselves and each person in their group.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is also hosting a First Day Hike this Saturday, Jan. 1. 2022 also marks a special year for the park with Crater of Diamonds celebrating its 50th year as an Arkansas State Park. On Jan. 1, be among the first to visit the Crater on its golden anniversary year, and learn about the park’s fascinating history and geology along a guided hike through the diamond search area.

The hike will begin at 10:30 a.m. and end around noon. Gates will open 15 minutes early for participants to arrive and gather with the park superintendent in the main parking area near the Visitor Center. Late entries will not be permitted. Hikers should dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes, and be prepared to walk about one mile. All park facilities will be closed on New Year’s Day, and diamond searching will not be allowed during the hike. The park will resume normal operations at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 2.

The 37.5-acre search area at Crater of Diamonds State Park is the eroded surface of an ancient, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe. The ground is plowed periodically, as weather allows, to loosen the soil and promote diamond finds. Parts of the search area may be steep and uneven; care should be taken in these areas to help prevent falls.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on Arkansas Highway 301 in Murfreesboro.

Arkansas State Parks are of course asking visitors to recreate responsibly and abide by rules instituted due to COVID-19.

Visitors are asked to wear facemasks in all public indoor spaces when others are present and if social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible. Park staff will continue to follow CDC and Arkansas Department of Health guidelines by wearing facemasks while in public buildings in contact with visitors.

The visitor center at Cossatot River State Park will be closed Jan. 1 for the New Year holiday but the trails will remain open. For more information, visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com

SWAR airports awarded grants through FAA     12/28/21

DE QUEEN – Several airports in Southwest Arkansas will receive shares of $2.89 billion made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Of that total, Sevier County’s airport is set to receive $110,000. Mena Intermountain Airport will receive $160,000 and the Texarkana Regional Airport around $1.2 million.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration is providing money for runways, taxiways, safety and sustainability projects, as well as terminal, airport-transit connections and roadway projects.

Airports can submit proposals to the FAA for review in the coming weeks. The FAA encourages applicants to prioritize projects that increase airport safety, equity and sustainability. The agency also plans to conduct outreach to the minority business community about these opportunities at airports across the nation.

The money will come from the Airport Infrastructure Grant program, one of three new aviation programs created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law provides $15 billion over five years for this program. The FAA estimates the backlog of airport modernization and safety projects totals $43.6 billion.

Give Christmas trees new life as fish habitats by donating at local lakes     12/28/21

DE QUEEN LAKE – Give this year’s Christmas tree another life after the yuletide celebrations by donating it to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Habitat for the Holidays program.

The long-held tradition of cutting down or purchasing a real Christmas tree for the holiday season has seen a huge increase throughout American homes the last couple of years. When the eggnog is finished and the last of the holiday feasts are over, many of these trees are destined to sit next to the road until the sanitation department picks them up.

Instead of letting that tree go to waste, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission encourages everyone to drop them off at select locations and repurpose them as fish habitats. It’s an easy way to help improve angling throughout the state.

Anyone who wants to drop off their natural Christmas tree can just take it to a location and leave it. Any angler who wants to take the trees and sink them can do so. Anglers should bring their own rope and weights to sink the trees.

Most Christmas trees will likely deteriorate within a year or two, but offer very good cover for small baitfish and ambush locations for larger sportfish.

Obviously, artificial trees are not allowed at drop-off locations, and all ornaments, tinsel and lights should be removed before being dropped off.

Trees can be dropped off at any of these local locations until the end of January:

-At Millwood Lake, the Cottonshed and White Cliffs Recreation Areas and the -Millwood State Park ramp on the point.

-At Dierks Lake , the Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area.

-And at De Queen and Gillham Lakes, trees can be dropped off at any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp.

Rep. Vaught shares new tax changes for 2022     12/28/21

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

From reducing income tax to lowering the sales tax on used cars, there are several pieces of tax legislation passed in 2021 that will take effect on January 1, 2022.

In the most recent special session, the General Assembly passed Act 1 and Act 2, which are identical pieces of legislation that reduce the top income tax rate for individuals from 5.9% to 4.9% incrementally over the next four years. For the tax year beginning on January 1, 2022, the top rate is reduced to 5.5%. The legislation also provides a $60 non-refundable tax credit for individuals with an income of less than $24,700.

In the 2021 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed the following tax measures, which will take effect at the beginning of next year:

  • ACT 841 creates an income tax credit for retired law enforcement officers who work on behalf of the Division of Arkansas State Police to investigate cold cases.
  • ACT 376 reduces the additional registration fee for a hybrid vehicle from $100 to $50.00.
  • Act 1013 reduces the sales tax from 6.5% to 3.5% on used cars priced from $4,000-$10,000.
  • ACT 765 creates the Law Enforcement Family Relief Check-off Program, which allows an individual taxpayer to designate some or all of the taxpayer’s income tax refund to the program, which assists the family of an Arkansas-certified law enforcement officer who was killed in the line of duty or diagnosed by a medical professional with a terminal illness.

You can find the legislation and video archives of the presentations and votes on the legislation at www.arkansashouse.org.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     12/28/21

DE QUEEN – In local COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting a total of 36 active cases in Sevier County at this time – neither than increase or decrease from last Monday. Total cases rose to 4,206 since spring of last year. Deaths saw a single increase last week and now total 63 since the pandemic began.

Little River County is reporting 17 active cases currently. Total cases number 2,163. The department of health reported no additional deaths last week and that figure remains at 84.

In Howard County, active cases currently total 25 – a decrease of 13 from last week. Cumulative cases number 2,624. Deaths remain at 39.

Finally, Polk County is reporting 15 active cases at this time. Deaths increased by four in Polk County last week for a current total of 120.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 422 cases on Sunday for a total of more than 550,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases currently number more than 9,900, across the state. Deaths increased by eight in Arkansas yesterday for a total of 9,066 since the spring of 2020. Currently 482 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Court dates set for next year for former Horatio teachers accused of internet stalking     12/23/21

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

According to court records, 40-year-old Lori Marshall of Lockesburg will appear before the Sevier County Circuit Court for a pre-trial hearing on June 2 of next year. If she maintains her plea of not-guilty, a jury trial will be held later that month on June 29.

The second defendant, 32-year-old Ryan Smith of Conway, is scheduled to appear before the court for a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 6 of next year. A jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2022.

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

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

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

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

Smith is also facing 35 counts of possession of child pornography in Faulkner County. He was initially arrested on those charges in late May. A court date has been set in Faulkner County for those charges.

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

Sevier County libraries hosting winter-themed events in January     12/23/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Library System is gearing up to host a number of activities for the start of the new year.

The De Queen Library will host two in-house, winter-themed story times on Jan. 5 and Jan. 19. Both events will begin at 4 p.m. and will include painting, crafts and STEM projects for participating kids.

The Horatio Library will host two children’s programs in January, on Jan. 15 and Jan. 29 starting at 10 a.m. both days.

January is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – also known as STEM – month at the Lockesburg Library. Jan. 5, 6 and 8 will include a program titled LEGO at the Library. Jan. 12, 13 and 15 is All About the Arctic. Other events in late January include building catapults and understanding volcanoes. Each week will feature a different topical book display at the library and projects will be available for homeschoolers and library kids to grab and take home. Call Lockesburg Librarian Wendy Clay at (870) 289-2233 for more information.

Finally, the Gillham Library will host its monthly story times on Jan. 14 and Jan. 28. Both events will be held in a virtual format. Those interested in participating are asked to keep an eye on the Gillham Library’s Facebook page for additional information on these two story times.

The Sevier County Library System is also reminding patrons that the library’s complete catalog can be found online on the library’s website, which can be reached by visiting www.seviercountylibrary.com. Head Librarian Johnye Fisher said a number of new books and DVD’s have been added to the library’s circulation system.

Rehome your Christmas tree at a local Corps lake     12/23/21

DE QUEEN LAKE – Give this year’s Christmas tree another life after the yuletide celebrations by donating it to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Habitat for the Holidays program.

The long-held tradition of cutting down or purchasing a real Christmas tree for the holiday season has seen a huge increase throughout American homes the last couple of years. When the eggnog is finished and the last of the holiday feasts are over, many of these trees are destined to sit next to the road until the sanitation department picks them up.

Instead of letting that tree go to waste, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission encourages everyone to drop them off at select locations and repurpose them as fish habitats. It’s an easy way to help improve angling throughout the state.

The drop-off locations act just like a “take-a-penny, leave-a-penny tray” at a cashier’s station, only it’s for fish. Anyone who wants to drop off their natural Christmas tree can just take it to a location and leave it. Any angler who wants to take the trees and sink them can do so. Anglers should bring their own rope and weights to sink the trees.

Most Christmas trees will likely deteriorate within a year or two, but offer very good cover for small baitfish and ambush locations for larger sportfish until they rot away.

Obviously, artificial trees are not allowed at drop-off locations, and all ornaments, tinsel and lights should be removed before being dropped off.

Trees can be dropped off at any of these local locations until the end of January:

-At Millwood Lake, the Cottonshed and White Cliffs Recreation Areas and the -Millwood State Park ramp on the point.

-At Dierks Lake , the Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area.

-And at De Queen and Gillham Lakes, trees can be dropped off at any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp.

2021 brings improvement to cattle industry following a tough 2020     12/23/21

An element of uncertainty for beef producers coming into 2021 turned to relief as retail markets reopened and people began eating out again after a year of lockdown because of COVID-19.

The pandemic hit beef markets hard in 2020, and the industry was hoping 2021 would be a year of recovery, said James Mitchell, assistant professor and extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. As things COVID restrictions began to loosen up, demand for beef was higher and prices rebounded.

Some of the challenges of 2020 initially spilled over into 2021 and were complicated by the weather for Arkansas’ predominantly cow-calf operations.

Cooler spring weather stalled warm season grasses and armyworms hit a lot of fields all summer long, creating a shortage of hay. That shortage was compounded when some producers had to feed hay early because drought had dried up pastures.

Very dry weather in many areas of the state, even reaching drought conditions in some places, reduced hay crops by 13 percent according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Oct. 1 estimates. Milder summer weather and adequate rainfall in parts of the state helped some producers make up their shortages. Hay shortages and high grain prices have driven many beef operations to liquidate their herds. Despite the extra cattle moving into beef production, cattle prices have remained high and driven the cattle cycle further into a liquidation phase.

Beef cow slaughter is averaging 10 percent to 12 percent higher this year, which implies an 11.5 percent cull rate. Mitchell said that was higher than usual, mostly because of droughts in the west. “But high demand for ground beef kept prices up despite the greater number of culled cows.”

Mitchell said the markets were seeing 17 percent higher prices for culled cows.

The current cycle began with herd expansion in 2014 and peaked in 2018-2019, he said. Since then, declining cattle prices mixed with drought, mostly in the west, have driven a liquidation phase. Eventually, declining cattle inventories will drive up prices, which is what experts in the field expect to see next fall.

On the bright side, Arkansas beef producers may see more local marketing

opportunities opening up. The local foods movement is a big help. There continues to be a strong interest in locally grown beef.

Christmas a time of feuds, largely fueled by alcohol according to survey     12/23/21

Here is the full audio story:

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If Hollywood holiday blockbusters, like “Home Alone,” “Elf” or “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” are anything to go by, the festive season of family feuds is upon us! On a serious note, many people consider the holidays a difficult time of year to come together in high spirits with relatives from near and far as there’s almost always an argument that ensues. This time of year, the internet is filled with tips and tricks on how to avoid or resolve family conflicts during a time that’s meant to be overflowing with joyous spirits and holiday festivities. But, when alcohol is involved, things can get even more boisterous around the dinner table.

American Addiction Centers, a leading provider of addiction treatment and resources, conducted a survey (3,405) to find out how families deal with alcohol-fueled feuds over the holiday season. It was uncovered that over 1 in 5 (22%) Arkansas family gatherings involve drunken arguments over the holiday season – above the national average of 21%. In fact, of all the joy-depleting family feuds there have been in the family over the years, the average Arkansan said 38% of them involved the presence of alcohol.

It seems that families in Delaware were most affected by these alcohol-fueled family feuds, with 1 in 3 stating these types of arguments generally take place in their household over the festive period. Comparatively, households in Hawaii tend to keep the peace with just 5% of people who said they experience family gatherings featuring drunken arguments over the season. Talk about harmonious holidays!

Of course, bringing together close and distant relatives of different ages and varying mindsets has the potential to end up badly, especially when alcohol is involved. In fact, an overwhelming number of people (81%) said they have at least one extended family member who annoys them. And when it comes to drinking, over half (57%) of respondents said they also have at least one extended family member who becomes confrontational or argumentative when they have alcohol at get-togethers.

The occurrence of drunken arguments affects some so drastically that 68% said they would consider an alcohol-free family Christmas in order to avoid these festive-dampening feuds.

Some say politics is among the top topics you should definitely avoid discussing over the dinner table –  and for good reason: one-third of respondents said politics is typically the main reason for family arguments over the Christmas period. Longstanding family tensions (29%) and money (17%) were also significant contributing factors to family bickering. Additionally, 17% stated that taking games too seriously is the root cause of arguments over the holidays.

There’s no rivalry like a sibling rivalry, so it seems: 5% of people said this is the main cause of their holiday arguments, and lastly, 3% of people said their family tends to argue over the cooking!

SWAR seeing historically low unemployment rates     12/22/21

DE QUEEN – The unemployment rate in Southwest Arkansas and throughout much of Arkansas has fallen to some of the lowest figures on record.

Newly released data shows Sevier County’s unemployment has consistently trended downwards, similar to the state and national averages as the economy continues to recover from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new data details Sevier County’s unemployment rate in October – the latest month for which county-by-county data is available. The unemployment rate fell to 2.5 percent, the lowest seen in years and well before the pandemic. That rate is below the state average of 3.4 percent and the U.S. average of 4.2 percent. The rate of 2.5 percent ranks Sevier County at 34th across the state.

Sevier County’s unemployment rate reached a high shortly after the pandemic entered Arkansas but has consistently fallen back to pre-pandemic levels since then. The current rate is the lowest in decades.

Out of a work force of 5,528 people in Sevier County only 138 are currently recorded as unemployed. The county’s highest unemployment rate was recorded a decade ago, in January 2011 with 10.3 percent.

Of course, it’s important to note the rate does not reflect those who are under-employed – that is, they’re not receiving as much work as they would like. The figure does not include people who are currently unemployed but are no longer receiving benefits. The unemployment rate is not a perfect metric for economic activity in an area but it does show that unemployment is falling among area residents.

Neighboring Little River County’s October unemployment data shows the county has only a slightly higher unemployment rate than Sevier County at 2.7 percent.

Howard County currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at two percent.

Benton County is reporting the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 1.6 percent. Chicot County continues to report the highest at 5.4 percent. That is significantly lower, however, than the 12 percent reported in Chicot County during the height of the pandemic last year.

State economic officials have touted the lower unemployment rates as a sign Arkansas’ economy is quickly rebounding from the economic consequences of COVID-19. However, the low unemployment rates have also created a tight labor market, causing worker shortages felt by almost every business and industry in the state. Coupled with high demand, not just for Christmas but because of an overall economic recovery following last year’s COVID-related shutdowns, the historically-low unemployment figures means many businesses are struggling to find workers and may continue to struggle on the road ahead.

Santa’s workshop open a few more days in downtown De Queen     12/21/21

DE QUEEN – Local kids still needed to share their Christmas wish list have a couple of days left to do so in person with the man, Santa, himself.

Santa will be set up a few more days at his workshop in downtown De Queen on the southeast corner of the Sevier County Courthouse. Santa will be available for area children this afternoon from 3-5 p.m. and again from 3-5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 23.

Santa will make his final appearance in De Queen before Christmas on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

Arkansas duck season opens back up Dec. 26     12/22/21

The second segment of Arkansas’s regular duck season kicks off again this weekend. Duck season will start again Sunday, Dec. 26 and continue across the state through Jan. 31. But that doesn’t mean all of the shooting stops on Jan. 31.

Thanks to special rules enacted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, duck hunters 15 and younger, as well as active-duty military personnel and veterans, may hunt waterfowl during Arkansas’s third annual Special Youth and Active Duty Military and Veteran Waterfowl Hunt Feb. 5.

The hunt, which has been in place for youths for 20 years, was modified during the 2019-20 waterfowl hunting season to include veterans and active-duty military as a show of gratitude for their service to the citizens of the United States.

Youths and veterans may have additional people with them during their hunt as a mentor or observer. Those people may call, video the hunt, or work a dog to retrieve ducks, but they may not carry a firearm or assist with shooting. Shooting hours and bag limits are the same as regular duck and goose seasons. Veteran hunters, as well as youth hunters may hunt on wildlife management areas from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset these two days and any shell restrictions on WMAs are lifted during these hunts.

This will be the second youth and veteran waterfowl hunt of the 2021-22 waterfowl season, the first being held earlier this month. The hunt is split into two days at different times of year to increase the chances of it coinciding with good weather conditions and duck abundance. In some years, early water and cold weather combine to create good duck hunting in December.

State officials preparing for Omicron surge, announce approval of ARHOME     12/22/21

Arkansas is preparing for a potential surge in the Omicron variant of COVID-19 this winter, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on Tuesday.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported the first case of Omicron in the state last week. The variant was first detected in Africa less than a month ago.

Hutchison struck a hopeful tone during his weekly press conference, referencing the adequate amount of hospital space in the state at this time. Omicron is not expected to peak in Arkansas until early next year, Hutchinson added, suggesting little to no impact on the upcoming Christmas holiday.

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Health officials are however expecting a rapid spread of the Omicron variant in Arkansas in the weeks ahead. Nationwide the variant is already responsible for 73 percent of new cases and possibly more in the region including Arkansas.

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Preliminary studies of the new variant suggest available vaccines, coupled with booster doses, are effective in reducing the likelihood of severe illness and death.

Concerning statewide COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 955 new cases on Tuesday for a total of just over 545,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases increased by 253 to more than 7,500 currently across the state. Deaths increased by 15 to 8,997 over the same period while hospitalizations declined by 17 to 496.

In non-COVID news, Hutchinson announced Arkansas’ redesigned Medicaid expansion program was federally approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Titled ARHOME, it replaces the previous program ARWORKs. Hutchinson said ARHOME will provide continued healthcare coverage for around 300,000 low-income Arkansans.

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ARHOME will officially launch Jan. 1, 2022. More information can be found at www.ar.gov/arhome

Little River Fair Board to host Date Paint Night in Foreman in February     12/22/21

FOREMAN – The Little River County Fair Board is joining with Froglevel Studios to present a Date Paint Night on in February.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 5 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Little River County Fair Barn on 209 South Madden Street in Foreman. Cost ranges from $25 to $40, depending on canvas size. Cost includes all materials, step-by-step instructions, one-on-one assistance and light refreshments. Couples will have a choice of paintings.

Everyone interested in attending is asked to preregister by emailing froglevel.studios160@gmail.com

KCS Holiday Express raises $280,000 for local Salvation Army stores     12/21/21

DE QUEEN – The Kansas City Southern (KCS) Holiday Express is not making it throughout the area this year, but that hasn’t stopped the Christmas-themed train from helping local people in need.

KCS announced on Monday its annual Holiday Express program had raised over $280,000 for The Salvation Army in 21 communities. Those communities include the annual Holiday Express stops in De Queen, Ashdown, Mena and other area cities.

KCS announced earlier this year local communities would once again miss out on the annual Holiday Express due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Kansas City Southern requested past visitors to make a charitable contribution to The Salvation Army. Funds raised went to support the 21 communities along the KCS network.

KCS officials said money raised this year will once again be provided to The Salvation Army and distributed to local people in need.

“As the pandemic continues, the fastest increasing area of need is for families who will be unable to pay their rent or mortgages and face eviction. The donations The Salvation Army will receive through the KCS Holiday Express will help keep families in their homes and keep hope marching on for them into 2022,” said KCS President and CEO Patrick Ottensmeyer in a press release.

In the past, The Kansas City Southern’s Holiday Express stopped along the company’s rail network. It brought Santa Claus and his elves to visit each community, spread holiday cheer and awe spectators with a fully lit and decorated Christmas train. Each event was free and open to the public. Guests visited with Santa in the caboose and tour three of the cars filled with Christmas displays and electric model trains.

In addition, at each KCS Christmas train stop, a charitable contribution is made to the local Salvation Army to provide warm clothes and other necessities for children in need.

The Holiday Express was created in 2001 as volunteers dedicated more than 8,000 hours to transform retired rail cars. Today, these cars feature a smiling tank car named Rudy; a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village; a gingerbread boxcar; the elves’ workshop; a reindeer stable; and a little red caboose.

Past events in De Queen and other participating communities drew out thousands of visitors.

There is no word about 2022 yet.

BBB warns of porch piracy as Christmas nears    12/21/21

Tis the season for porch pirates.

With Christmas this weekend, the next few days are likely to see a flurry of packages come in destined for under the Christmas tree. These hectic few days are also the prime opportunity for porch pirates to strike.

Even households with doorbell cameras often don’t deter porch pirates, as time after time cameras catch the thieves in action. This holiday season, it’s expected that a record number of packages will be delivered before New Year’s Day.

When it comes to protecting your packages, the Better Business Bureau suggests the best practice is tracking your packages. It doesn’t matter where you are shopping, on any website, there is a good chance you may be able to track your package through the carrier or the company that you purchased it from.”

Also, try and get a notification when the package is delivered and get it right away, or have a neighbor grab it. It’s also a good idea to consider requesting a signature. While this package delivery feature will likely come with a fee, the delivery service won’t be able to leave a package exposed on a doorstep without your signature.

Also, ask yourself if you want to insure your package. If valuables are inside, this will protect you against loss or damage. If you know you won’t be home, consider picking up the package in the store or curbside. Another option is to have it delivered to your workplace.

When making purchases online, use your credit card rather than a debit card or another form of payment. Credit card companies are more likely to offer refunds in the event of theft.

And a reminder to anyone considering even a little porch piracy this year that last year Arkansas lawmakers upgraded the crime to a felony offense.

CORRECTED : Christmas, New Year holiday closings    12/21/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Courthouse closes at 11 a.m. today and will be closed both Thursday and Friday, Christmas Eve. The courthouse will reopen with regular hours at 8 a.m. on Monday, December 27. The Sevier County Landfill will also be closed Friday, December 24 and Saturday, December 25, and the solid waste satellite stations will be closed Saturday, December 25. The Solid Waste facilities will resume normal hours of operation on Monday, December 27.

The Sevier County Courthouse will also be closed on Friday, Dec. 31 for the New Year’s holiday. The Sevier County Landfill and all solid waste satellite stations will be closed Saturday, Jan. 1 for the New Year holiday. The courthouse and landfill will reopen for normal hours of operation on Monday, Jan. 3. All solid waste satellite stations will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 4 from 7 a.m. to noon.

The City of De Queen will be closed this Friday, Dec. 24 and Monday, Dec. 27 in observance of Christmas. Friday’s trash will be picked up on Wednesday, Monday’s will be picked up on Tuesday and Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday. The city hall and trash schedule will resume with normal hours and days on Tuesday, Dec. 27. In addition, the City of Lockesburg and City of Horatio will be closed both this Thursday and Friday.

Salvation Army in De Queen hosting Santa today    12/21/21

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Salvation Army Family Store will host Santa today and all area children are invited to come by.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. Santa will be bringing a bag of toys for area children.

Area residents are also reminded a few time slots remain open for this year’s bell-ringing campaign. Bell-ringers will be in front of Walmart seeking donations for the Red Kettle through Dec. 24. The sole bell-ringing location in Sevier County is the De Queen Walmart Store.

The Salvation Army distributes thousands of dollars to individuals and families each year in our community to help with needs for food, gas, medications, utilities, rent, fire recovery and more. That makes the Salvation Army one of the major sources of aid in our community. And so much of that support is made possible through donations made during the Bell-Ringing Campaign.

To schedule a time to volunteer, call the De Queen Salvation Army Store by calling (870) 642-3463 or by calling store manager Becky Lambeth at (870) 784-2381.

Nearly every cent raised by the bellringing stays with the local unit and is used in De Queen and throughout Sevier County to assist those in need.

Rep. Vaught: Getting Arkansas connected     12/20/21

By State Representative DeAnn Vaught

From filling out a job application to completing a homework assignment, the vast majority of our day-to-day lives are dependent on internet access. It is no longer a luxury, and now is a critical time for our state to close the digital divide.

Arkansas ranks 41st in state broadband access rating according to Broadbandnow.com.

The FCC currently defines broadband internet access as an always-on connection that provides 25Mbps download speeds and 3Mbps upload speeds. While most Arkansans living in the most populated counties have access, there are still counties in the state where less than half of the residents have access to broadband.

Recently, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved a contract for the Broadband Development Group to create a master plan for broadband development.

The group will submit a report with their research and recommendations in April.

This report will not only help guide the state in directing federal funds but will also assist members of the General Assembly in determining legislation needed to ensure Arkansans have affordable access in years to come.

Currently, the group is gathering data to assess the state’s needs.

By the end of this year, the group will have held forums in 34 counties. They will hold forums in all 75 counties before their work is complete in April.

At these meetings, the group is hearing from small business owners, students, teachers, farmers and others about what their needs for broadband are and what obstacles they are encountering. We encourage you to attend one of these meetings if they are held in your county.

The group is also asking every Arkansan to fill out an online survey. The survey asks 12 questions regarding your internet usage, importance in your daily life, and the current speed of your service.

ARBroadbandNow on Facebook and Twitter will post information about upcoming town halls. A link to those pages and a link to the survey can be found at  www.arkansashouse.org.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     12/20/21

DE QUEEN – In local COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting a total of 36 active cases in Sevier County at this time – a decrease of 15 from last Monday. Total cases rose to 4,178 since spring of last year. Deaths saw a single increase last week and now total 62 since the pandemic began.

Little River County is reporting 17 active cases currently, an increase of five from last Monday. Total cases number 2,150. The department of health reported one additional death last week for a total of 84.

In Howard County, active cases currently total 38 – a decrease of six from last week. Cumulative cases number 2,609. Deaths remain at 39.

Finally, Polk County is reporting 10 active cases at this time. Deaths increased by eight in Polk County last week for a current total of 120.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 406 cases on Sunday for a total of more than 543,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases currently number just shy of 7,700 across the state. Deaths increased by 14 in Arkansas yesterday for a total of 8,956 since the spring of 2020. Currently 516 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

De Queen Salvation Army store hosting Santa on Tuesday     12/20/21

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Salvation Army Family Store will host Santa tomorrow and all area children are invited to come by.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21. Santa will be bringing a bag of toys for area children.

Area residents are reminded time slots remain open for this year’s bell-ringing campaign. Bell-ringers will be in front of Walmart seeking donations for the Red Kettle through Dec. 24. The sole bell-ringing location in Sevier County is the De Queen Walmart Store.

The Salvation Army distributes thousands of dollars to individuals and families each year to help with needs for food, gas, medications, utilities, rent, fire recovery and more. That makes the Salvation Army one of the major sources of aid in our community. And so much of that support is made possible through donations made during the Bell-Ringing Campaign.

To schedule a time to volunteer, call the De Queen Salvation Army Store by calling (870) 642-3463 or by calling store manager Becky Lambeth at (870) 784-2381.

Nearly every cent raised by the bellringing stays with the local unit and is used in De Queen and throughout Sevier County to assist those in need.

Arkansas Better Business Bureau warns of online shopping scams     12/20/21

Tis the season for porch pirates.

With online shopping being the increasing norm, thieves are looking to strike this holiday season.

Even households with doorbell cameras often don’t deter porch pirates, as time after time cameras catch the thieves in action. This holiday season, it’s expected that a record number of packages will be delivered before New Year’s Day.

When it comes to protecting your packages, the Better Business Bureau suggests the best practice is tracking your packages. It doesn’t matter where you are shopping, on any website, there is a good chance you may be able to track your package through the carrier or the company that you purchased it from.”

Also, try and get a notification when the package is delivered and get it right away, or have a neighbor grab it. It’s also a good idea to consider requesting a signature. While this package delivery feature will likely come with a fee, the delivery service won’t be able to leave a package exposed on a doorstep without your signature.

Also, ask yourself if you want to insure your package. If valuables are inside, this will protect you against loss or damage. If you know you won’t be home, consider picking up the package in the store or curbside. Another option is to have it delivered to your workplace.

When making purchases online, use your credit card rather than a debit card or another form of payment. Credit card companies are more likely to offer refunds in the event of theft.

Felony charges filed against Lockesburg woman following domestic incident     12/17/21

DE QUEEN – Multiple felony charges were filed this week against a Lockesburg woman accused of assaulting a teenage family member at their home earlier this month.

Lindy Helms, age 36, has been charged with felony counts of aggravated assault on a family member, battery in the second degree, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The charges were filed in the Sevier County Circuit Court on Dec. 15.

Helms is accused of assaulting a teenage family member at their home in Lockesburg on Dec. 7. Following the altercation, which involved some misplaced property, deputies observed multiple injuries on the teen, including a leg gash requiring 11 stitches to treat. A friend of the teen was at the home during the incident and was reportedly threatened by Helms when the friend tried to intervene in the assault.

Family members were able to call law enforcement. Arriving deputies were informed controlled substances were allegedly behind Helms’ behavior and located inside the house. According to the investigating deputies, a search of the home uncovered substances believed to be methamphetamine as well as related paraphernalia.

Helms was then arrested and transported to the Sevier County Jail. The Department of Human Services was contacted about the abuse incident. Bond was set at $25,000 and a no-contact order with the alleged victim was established.

Pilgrim’s continues aid collections today for victims of Kentucky tornadoes     12/17/21

DE QUEEN – Pilgrim’s in De Queen is organizing a relief effort to bring aid to survivors of the catastrophic tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that claimed dozens of lives and left thousands of buildings either damaged or destroyed from Arkansas to Kentucky.

A supercell storm system rolled through the region over the weekend, causing multiple tornadoes to form. The tornado outbreak has been described as the deadliest since May of 2011. At least 88 people were killed across five states by the widespread storm system. Thousands of buildings were left damaged or destroyed across the region.

The De Queen-based Pilgrim’s team has been working day and night to get food, water and other necessities ready for transport to the Mayfield, Kentucky, Disaster Relief Team. Pilgrim’s is reaching out to members of the community interested in joining the effort to bring some relief to victims of these tragic storms. Many families in the Mayfield area lost everything, from clothing to Christmas presents.

Those interested in helping out are asked to donate new clothing items for all ages as well as toy items for children for Christmas. A number of drop off locations have been organized, including here at Your Number One Country Studios on 921 West Collin Raye Drive in De Queen. You can also drop off items at Pilgrim’s on 401 S. Third Street in De Queen, or the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce office at 315 West Stilwell Avenue in De Queen. The company is asking all donations to be turned in by noon today.

Pilgrim’s De Queen HR team is leading the effort and can be reached for more information by calling (870) 584-5221.

This week’s Chenoweth trial rescheduled and awaiting crime lab reports     12/17/21

MADISON COUNTY – A De Queen man charged in the deaths of three family members this past February in Madison County is now scheduled to appear before a jury in March.

Hunter Chenoweth, age 23, was scheduled to appear in court for a jury trial this week but his next court appearance is now rescheduled until March . The continuance was granted this week because reports from the Arkansas State Crime Lab have not been completed, according to court documents.

Chenoweth is accused of killing his mother, 51-year-old Tami Lynn Chenoweth; his stepfather, 59-year-old James Stanley McGhee; and his sister, 26-year-old Cheyenne Chenoweth. All three were found deceased inside a home in Madison County on Feb. 23, according to the Arkansas State Police.

Chenoweth entered a plea of not guilty to the charges in March.

If Chenoweth is convicted, the capital murder charges each carry a sentence of either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

Chenoweth was also slated for an October jury trial in Washington County related to a felony domestic battery charge from February of 2020. According to online court records, that charge stems from an incident that same month in which Chenoweth is accused of stabbing his stepfather. However, that trial was also rescheduled until January of next year.

ONF officials will not reopen Albert Pike for overnight camping     12/17/21

LANGLEY – Thursday afternoon officials with the Ouachita National Forest released a Final Decision Notice on the future use of the Albert Pike Recreation Area located near Langley.

The decision states the Ouachita National Forest will not reopen Albert Pike Recreation area to overnight camping. The recreation area will continue to be Day-Use only, with no overnight camping or long-term use options permitted. Infrastructure will be decommissioned in some areas and allowed to return to natural conditions, the notice stated. Other changes that will be implemented include the adaptive reuse of Loop D to provide Day Use parking facilities. Loops are smaller camping spots within a campground.

The decision follows a public comment period held over the last year.

“The decision provides a safe, well-maintained facility with year-round sustainable Day-Use recreation opportunities including swimming, picnicking, and fishing,” said Caddo-Womble District Ranger, Amanda Gee.  “The Day-Use area will be opened to the public once a vault toilet has been installed.”

The Albert Pike Recreation Area has been closed and unmaintained since June 10, 2010, when a devastating 500-year flood claimed the lives of 20 people camping in the park. Previously the park had been a very popular outdoor area for campers far and wide.

The Final Decision can be found on the Ouachita National Forest website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/AlbertPike.

For more information, call the Caddo-Womble District office at (870) 867-2101 or by email to: christopher.ham@usda.gov.

Lace Lane Festival of Lights is tonight, tomorrow evening in De Queen     12/17/21

DE QUEEN – The Christmas festivities continue this weekend in De Queen with the annual Lace Lane Festival of Light tonight and tomorrow night.

The Lace Lane Festival of Lights is an always popular and local Christmas tradition for many families in the area. Throughout the Christmas season and into New Year’s Day, the loop, located two miles north of De Queen on Ninth Street, is turned into a wonderland of Christmas lights enjoyed by children and adults alike. The display features literally thousands of Christmas decorations and many more lights.

The Festival of Lights will be held Dec. 17-18 from 6-8 p.m. both evenings. Everyone is invited to come see the lights, meet with Santa and take photos. There will be gifts for the kids and the DHS Show Choir is set to perform both evenings. Come by and watch them perform and maybe even support them with a donation to help them fund their trip to America Sings in Washington, D.C. next year.

If you can’t make it to the Festival of Lights next weekend, no worries: the lights are up now and will be available for viewing through Christmas and the New Year.

DQ Fair Board hosting first-ever “Handmade Christmas from the Heart”     12/17/21

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Fair Association will present the first ever Handmade Christmas from the Heart event this Saturday in De Queen.

The event will be held in the commercial building on Dec. 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is being billed as a one-stop shop for local handmade goods, crafts and Christmas food. Everyone is invited to come out and support local business and shopping local. And join us, The Morning Brew Crew, as we broadcast live on location with the Number One Country Treasure Chest full of cash and prizes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Again, Christmas from the Heart will be held this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Commercial Building at the Sevier County Fairgrounds.

Sen. Boozman discusses “Build Back Better,” NDAA during interview     12/17/21

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Hopes by Democratic lawmakers to pass President Joe Biden’s social spending and climate policy bill before the end of the year are quickly eroding against firm opposition both within and outside the party.

Concerns over the President’s $1.75 trillion “Build Back Better” proposal have mounted in recent days and weeks. Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, has repeatedly stated his opposition to the cost of the bill. Fellow centrist Democratic Senator Kristen Simena is also holding back her vote in opposition to the rules change Senate Democrats would need to pass the legislation.

These roadblocks, along with complete Republican opposition, have all but ensured “Build Back Better” will reach the Senate floor dead-on-arrival if a vote is held before the new year.

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) spoke this week with us here at Your Number One Country to detail his opposition to the massive spending bill. For one, he believes the President’s claim that the bill will cost taxpayers nothing is both wrong and disingenuous. The Penn Wharton Budget Model – a nonpartisan, research-based analysis of the national budget – suggests Build Back Better would increase U.S. spending by a net total of around $3 trillion over the next decade.

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Proposals within the legislation range from universal preschool and green energy initiatives to child tax credit expansions and additional tax breaks for high-income earners. Opponents say “Build Back Better” does little to nothing for an America still recovering from the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Boozman said as he travels through Arkansas, the minds of most people are on labor shortages, supply chain issues, inflation and growing energy costs.

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Record high inflation is a particular concern among Arkansans, Boozman added. The U.S. economy is running red-hot with the return of consumer demand to pre-pandemic levels. Economists point out inflation is at a 40-year high. Another massive federal spending bill, Boozman says, could lead to an inflationary spike so severe the government may struggle just to service the national debt.

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Boozman said he and other opposition lawmakers are hopeful this week’s hurdles will mean “Build Back Better” is a non-starter within the Senate. Others, like Manchin, hope to use their opposition to trim the size of the bill and make it more palatable for American taxpayers.

During the discussion with Sen. Boozman he also took a moment to discuss what he sees is a vital component of the 2022 National Defense Reauthorization Act.

Boozman secured a provision within the legislation requiring the Department of Defense to study the disproportionate rate of breast cancer among U.S. servicewomen. The act also directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to create recommendations aimed at improving breast cancer screening and treatment services.

Given the increasing number of women serving in the U.S. military, and the increased rate in which many develop breast cancer, Boozman says this is a critical step the DoD must take.

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This focus on studying the causes of early breast cancer and providing more treatment options coincides with the SERVICE Act Boozman authored earlier this year. He has been the driving force for this legislation, which seeks to improve mammography services and screenings within the VA system. The legislation also seeks to improve access to these services particularly within rural communities.

Manhunt for suspect who assaulted Sevier investigator ends peacefully     12/16/21

Justin Thomas Keaster, 39, was located and arrested by Sevier County deputies Wednesday afternoon following a multi-agency manhunt which began that morning. The search for Keaster began after he fled in a stolen truck from an Arkansas Highway Patrol officer. Later, he ambushed Sevier County Sheriff’s Investigator Jeff Wahls, stealing his gun and patrol vehicle. The patrol vehicle was later found wrecked and abandoned in an area around Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Wahls was injured during the altercation and transported to a nearby medical center. Authorities say he is in stable condition.

DIERKS LAKE – The search for a Polk County man who assaulted a Sevier County investigator, stole his gun and vehicle and then led officers on an hours-long chase ended peacefully Wednesday afternoon with the suspect in custody.

Justin Thomas Keaster, 39, was located and arrested by Sevier County deputies Wednesday afternoon following a multi-agency manhunt which began earlier in the day.

Authorities organized a manhunt for Keaster after he reportedly fled from an Arkansas Highway Patrol officer in a stolen DoT truck. After escaping the pursuing deputy on back rounds around Dierks Lake, Keaster allegedly ambushed Sevier County Sheriff’s Investigator Jeff Wahls, stealing his service pistol and patrol vehicle. The patrol vehicle was later found wrecked and abandoned in an area around Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake.

A fight ensued between Wahls and Keaster, during which Keaster gained possession of the investigator’s firearm. Keaster then allegedly fired off a round from the handgun into the air. Wahls was injured during the altercation although not by gunfire. Wahls was later transported to a nearby medical center. Authorities say he is in stable condition and is expected to fully recover.

Authorities initiated a BOLO alert for Keaster, providing his description and informing the public he was armed and considered extremely dangerous.

Law enforcement agents utilized tracking dogs, horses and drones to locate Keaster and bring him into custody. Fortunately, no one else was injured during the incident or subsequent arrest. In all the search lasted around six hours.

Agencies involved in the search included Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, DQPD, South Central Drug Task Force, Arkansas Highway Patrol, Nashville PD, Dierks PD, Howard Co. Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Department of Corrections and Arkansas Game & Fish wildlife officers, as well as McCurtain County OEM.

Keaster has been charged with a number of felonies for the incident, including aggravated assault, second degree battery, and theft of property. Officials with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office said charges may change and additional counts may be filed pending investigations by the Arkansas Highway Patrol

Keaster is currently in the Sevier County Jail awaiting his first court appearance. Bond has not yet been set.

Pilgrim’s De Queen team organizing aid delivery for Kentucky tornado victims     12/16/21

DE QUEEN – Pilgrim’s in De Queen is organizing a relief effort to bring aid to survivors of the catastrophic tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that claimed dozens of lives and left thousands of buildings either damaged or destroyed from Arkansas to Kentucky.

A supercell storm system rolled through Arkansas over the weekend, causing at least four confirmed tornadoes in Arkansas alone. While Kentucky was by far the most severely impacted, tornadoes claimed the life of two Arkansans and left a swath of destroyed buildings during the night of Dec. 10-11.

The tornado outbreak has been described as the deadliest since May of 2011. At least 88 people were killed across five states by the widespread storm. Storms left thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed across the region.

The De Queen-based Pilgrim’s team has been reportedly working day and night to get food, water and other necessities ready for transport to the Mayfield, Kentucky, Disaster Relief Team. Pilgrim’s is reaching out to members of the community interested in joining the effort to bring some relief to victims of these tragic storms. Many families in the Mayfield area lost everything, from clothing to Christmas presents.

Those interested in helping out are asked to donate new clothing items for all ages as well as toy items for children for Christmas. A number of drop off locations have been organized, including here at Your Number One Country Studios on 921 West Collin Raye Drive in De Queen. You can also drop off items at Pilgrim’s on 401 S. Third Street in De Queen, or the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce office at 315 West Stilwell Avenue in De Queen. The company is asking all donations to be turned in by noon tomorrow, Dec. 17.

Pilgrim’s De Queen HR team is leading the effort and can be reached for more information by calling (870) 584-5221.

Arkansas hunters can help lead fight against Chronic Wasting Disease     12/16/21

LITTLE ROCK — The recent news of chronic wasting disease being found far away from any previous detections has caused some hunters to worry about the future of deer hunting in The Natural State. CWD is a cause for concern for the health of Arkansas’s deer herd, but it does not mean the end of deer and deer hunting in Arkansas. Here are five ways hunters can help fight CWD and ensure our hunting traditions continue well into the future.

Keep Hunting
According to Dr. Jenn Ballard, state wildlife veterinarian for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the best thing hunters can do to help fight the disease is to keep enjoying deer season, and even harvest an extra deer or two for the freezer if possible.

“Reducing the density of deer in areas where CWD is known to occur can help slow the spread to new areas. Deer naturally disperse less from lower density herds,” Ballard said. “The added samples from around the state also help us monitor the occurrence of the disease across the landscape.”

Get Your Deer Tested
When you do shoot a deer, get it tested for CWD at one of the AGFC’s many free testing locations. A.J. Riggs, wildlife health biologist for the AGFC, works daily to retrieve samples and submit them to the Arkansas Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

“We have more than 100 drop-off locations for hunters with at least one in every county,” Riggs said. “We also have a network of taxidermists available throughout the state who will pull samples as well. We’re always looking for ways to promote testing your deer for CWD, so even if you don’t harvest a deer, we appreciate spreading the word about these free options.”

Tests normally take 10 to 15 business days to process, and anyone with a CWD-positive test result will be contacted via phone to notify them of the situation.

Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for a list of test locations and instructions on how to get your deer tested for free.

Avoid Artificial Congregation
There’s no preventing deer from coming into contact with the same natural food source or area, but hunters can help slow the spread by not fanning those flames. Activities such as supplemental feeding that artificially congregate deer can increase disease transmission and hinder other management efforts. Mineral licks also can create a biological sink that can transfer diseases for many years as the salt and minerals can leach into the soil and continue to attract deer for many years after the salt block’s removal. It is highly recommended not to bait or offer supplemental feed using feeders and to neutralize mineral sites by removing the salt block and covering the area with dirt from an area that does not have the salt deposits. In situations where baiting is necessary to effectively hunt, it is preferred to only bait in small quantities and short durations to minimize repeated exposures to the same location.

Keep it Local
The best way to fight CWD is to prevent it from spreading to a new area in the first place. Avoiding the introduction of infected deer, either live or dead, prevents disease introduction through human activities. Hunters shou

The carcasses of deer taken in areas known to have CWD or areas within the AGFC’s CWD Management Zone should be kept in those areas. Deboned meat, antlers, cleaned skull plates, hides, teeth and finished taxidermy from these deer can all be moved outside of the area, as these are all low-risk for transmission of prions. The animal’s bones, nervous system and organs should be disposed of properly, either at an approved, lined landfill or buried where scavengers cannot spread the carcass. If a landfill or burial is not possible, returning the post-processed carcass as near as possible to the area of harvest is preferred.

Report Sick or Dead Deer
Anyone who sees a deer displaying the clinical signs of CWD or found dead with no apparent injuries is encouraged to contact the AGFC immediately. Call 800-482-9262 to report any deer that show a lack of awareness, poor posture, insatiable thirst or and extremely emaciated look. Dispatchers are available to take calls 24 hours a day/seven days a week.

“There are other diseases that cause some signs similar to CWD, so we can’t jump to the conclusion that a deer is positive simply from observation,” Ballard said. “We will do our best to dispatch someone to quickly and humanely remove the deer from the population and have it tested.”

Don’t shoot the animal yourself unless instructed to do so. If there is not a staff member available to retrieve a sample, it may deteriorate to a point of not being viable for testing.

“A deer displaying signs of CWD is likely not going to go very far,” Ballard said. “The best thing to do is get exact coordinates of the last sighting and call us.”

Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for more information on CWD in Arkansas, including the latest detection in south Arkansas.

Lace Lane Festival of Lights is this weekend in De Queen     12/16/21

DE QUEEN – A hugely popular local Christmas tradition is returning to De Queen this weekend. That is, of course, the Lace Lane Festival of Lights.

The Lace Lane Festival of Lights is an always popular and local Christmas tradition for many families in the area. Throughout the Christmas season and into New Year’s Day, the loop, located two miles north of De Queen on Ninth Street, is turned into a wonderland of Christmas lights enjoyed by children and adults alike. The display features literally thousands of Christmas decorations and many more lights.

The Festival of Lights will be held Dec. 17-18 from 6-8 p.m. both evenings. Everyone is invited to come see the lights, meet with Santa and take photos. There will be gifts for the kids and the DHS Show Choir is set to perform both evenings. Come by and watch them perform and maybe even support them with a donation to help them fund their trip to America Sings in Washington, D.C. next year.

Homeowners along Lace Lane put a tremendous amount of effort decorating in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It all started more than two decades ago when Thomas and Donna Sweeten began transforming their property into a dazzling array of Christmas lights and decorations. From a dragon in a pond to a full choir, a variety of nativity scenes and over 100 Santa figures, the scene is something everyone can enjoy. And respect too, because the work that goes into decorating the homes on Lace Lane, and especially the Sweeten’s, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Thomas has said in the past the decorations are his family’s way of sharing their enjoyment of Christmas for the whole community.

If you can’t make it to the Festival of Lights next weekend, no worries: the lights are up now and will be available for viewing through Christmas and the New Year.

Application period for Arkansas Rent Relief Program gets extension      12/16/21

Arkansans needing assistance covering their rental costs will have some extra time to apply, thanks to an extension filed on Wednesday.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services announced an application period extension of the Arkansas Rent Relief Program, originally set to expire at the end of this month. Arkansans will now be able to apply for rental assistance through the program as long as funds for the rent relief program are available. According to reporting by the Associated Press, only $50 million of the $173 million in federal funds for the state program have so far been provided for Arkansas renters.

The program is aimed at providing relief not just to Arkansas tenants, but landlords as well. With a large number of renters unable to meet their rent during the pandemic, landlords have also felt an economic burden. Both eligible renters and landlords can apply for as much as 15 months of unpaid rent or utilities. The relief program can provide assistance as far back as April 1, 2020, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In September state officials relaxed requirements for the rental relief program to assist Arkansans facing imminent eviction.

For more information on the Arkansas Rent Relief Program, and to begin the application process, visit https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/covid-19/dhs-response-to-covid-19/updates-for-clients/rental-assistance/

Negligent homicide filed against Texarkana man for fatal accident in Ashdown     12/15/21

ASHDOWN – A negligent homicide charge has been filed against a Texarkana man for his involvement in an accident that killed an Ashdown woman earlier this year.

According to court records, 55-year-old James Nowlin of Texarkana, Arkansas, has been charged with negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated for the fatal accident in Ashdown on Sept. 2.

According to the Arkansas State Police’s fatal crash report, Nowlin was traveling north on Highway 71 near southern drive in his 2020 Ford F-150 when he struck a 2008 Honda CRV carrying 64-year-old Melba Rose of Ashdown. The accident occurred around 9:30 p.m. on the night of Sept. 2. The report stated the accident occurred after Rose’s vehicle entered the highway from McDonald’s. Nowlin’s truck was unable to avoid the vehicle and a collision occurred. Both vehicles were overturned due to the force of the impact.

Rose was pronounced dead at the scene by Little River County Coroner Raeann Hagan.

Prosecutors are alleging Nowlin was intoxicated at the time of the accident. A toxicology report by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory returned results alleging Nowlin’s blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit at .165.

On Monday, Dec. 13, formal charges of negligent homicide and DWI were filed against Nowlin. Nowlin was arrested and has since been released on a $125,000 bond. A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for February of 2022. Upon conviction the charge of negligent homicide can carry a prison sentence of five to 20 years.

Sevier County Quorum Court forms ambulance committee, hears hospital report     12/15/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court met Monday to discuss the county’s ambulance service and a number of other matters.

One of the main focuses of the meeting was the formation of an ambulance service committee for Sevier County. The committee is being formed to help foster communication between county officials and the county’s ambulance service, Southwest EMS. In addition, the committee is tasked with identifying ways the county could assist the ambulance service in completing its mission, particularly given the lack of a hospital in the county at this time.

Members of the committee include Angie Walker, Earl Battiest and David Wright of the Sevier County Quorum Court, as well as County Judge Greg Ray and Sheriff Robert Gentry.

Southwest EMS operates the ambulance service in Sevier County and four others at this time. Robbie Hines is CEO of the ambulance service and spoke of the challenges the ambulance service has faced since the loss of the De Queen Hospital in 2019. In particular, Hines addressed the significant decline the service saw in demand for medical transport resulting from the loss of a nearby hospital. That’s in addition to the logistical challenge posed by having to transport patients to medical centers outside of the county, the nearest at least 35 miles away.

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Hines said the ambulance service is also feeling the national labor shortage. He said finding qualified paramedics has become increasingly difficult.

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Southwest EMS operates two ambulances at all times in Sevier County with a third on call if needed and if staff is available to man it. To help provide additional coverage for Sevier County, Hines said an ambulance is headquartered in Wickes and able to travel to Sevier County at a moments notice to assist if the other ambulances are elsewhere – such as transporting patients to hospitals in Nashville or Texarkana.

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Hines added that Southwest EMS is exploring the option of moving from its current location next to the former De Queen Hospital. However, he said the ambulance service is not considering moving to the site of the new Sevier County Medical Center north of town. Most calls received by the service are in De Queen or the southern portion of Sevier County, so moving further north would not help response times, Hines said.

The quorum court then took up several other items of business, including the approval of the 2022 operating budget for Sevier County and several financial matters.

Justices of the Peace also heard from Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House, who introduced several new hospital staff members. She said the current team will compose most of the hospital’s staff until it nears its opening date in late spring of next year.

House also said the Arkansas State Police has joined the investigation into the theft by scammers of a sales tax collection destined for the hospital, totaling around $200,000. The criminals falsely claimed to be county officials after hacking a county email and then contacting the Bank of the Ozarks, which holds accounts for the hospital’s sales tax collections. No follow up- verification was performed and the sales tax collection was issued to the fraudsters’ bank account.

County officials said they are certain the money will be returned by the bank as it was the bank’s lack of verification that allowed the fraud to occur. In addition, county officials said they have implemented two-step verification procedures to prevent similar scams from occurring in the future.

Two local young women earn big honors at national barrel racing events in Las Vegas     12/15/21

Allison Dixon, Hadlie Dixon, Ziggie Parks & Mandy Parks

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Ziggie Parks of Wickes and Hadlie Dixon of Lockesburg joined The Morning Brew to discuss their recent performances at national barrel racing events in Las Vegas, Nev. Ziggie Parks competed her way to become the 2021 Vegas Tuffest World Champion 19 & Under Champion Barrel Racer. She won $20,900 and a signature saddle for her accomplishment at the event held in Las Vegas earlier this month. The annual Vegas Tuffest Junior World Championship is held by Mike and Sherrylynn Johnson and showcases the top junior rodeo contestants in the nation with over $100,000 in cash, prizes and scholarships. Ziggie is the daughter of Mona Parks and Josh and Mandy Parks.

Hadlie Dixon won the Western Legacy Tour Junior Hooey Patriot for barrel racing, also held in Las Vegas. She won second place in the first round and as a top-ten finalist will compete in the Junior Patriot semi-finals in Fort Worth, Texas, next year. The Junior Patriot has the largest payout of junior rodeo competitions with over $1 million in payouts. Hadlie is the daughter of Sam and Allison Dixon.

The results for both young women’s performances was made even more special by the fact that the two are cousins.

State panel approves internet funding for Cossatot River State Park, 26 other parks and welcome centers     12/15/21

LITTLE ROCK – A number of Arkansas state parks and welcome centers in the area are expected to receive broadband internet capabilities thanks to a funding approval by state officials this week.

On Monday the state’s American Rescue Plan steering committee voted in favor of a request from the Arkansas Department of Parks for $2.5 million to bring broadband internet to 27 state parks and welcome centers. The funds will be made available through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier this year.

Of the projects recommended by the Arkansas Department of Parks, a number are within the listening area. They include Cossatot River State Park, located near Wickes, as well as the Red River Welcome Center and Texarkana Welcome Center. Lake Ouachita State Park near Hot Springs is also named in the list of recommended projects.

State park officials said providing broadband internet to staff and visitors will have a number of benefits, such as enhancing safety by providing for internet-based communication. Many parks have limited phone reception due to their remoteness, such as Cossatot River State Park. Bringing internet to these parks could be lifesaving in the event of an emergency.

Park officials also told the steering committee that state parks and welcome centers could serve as the “middle-mile” for communities without reliable internet service. That internet could bring connectivity to homes and businesses in nearby areas. The public would also be able to utilize the internet free of charge.

State park officials said these projects could begin at a moment’s notice once funding is received.

Ashdown Community Foundation receives grant for inclusive playground     12/15/21

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown Community Foundation has announced it will receive a 2022 Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas Grant to build an inclusive playground at the Ashdown City Park. This grant is part of 41 awarded in Arkansas which will directly impact 71 of Arkansas’ 75 counties.

Ashdown Community Foundation Board Member Mallory Bailey, said the group looks forward to “continuing the partnership with the Blue and You Foundation to strengthen opportunities for all children in Little River County, and surrounding areas.”

An inclusive playground will allow children of all abilities the enjoyment of safe play with a variety of playground components. This will enable children to develop physically, socially and emotionally without barriers normally encountered on a playground.

In April, “Splashdown” a splash pad located in the Ashdown City Park held its official grand opening. The project was also made possible by a generous grant from the Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas and monies raised from the annual Ashdown Community Auction.

The Blue & You Foundation is a charitable foundation established and funded by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield to promote better health in the Natural State.

“The Blue & You Foundation has been focused for the past two years on supporting urgent needs that arose due to the pandemic,” said Rebecca Pittillo, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation. “The COVID-19 pandemic definitely elevated new health-related needs and emphasized existing needs in our state – social determinants that the foundation hopes these grants will positively impact.”

Since 2001, the Blue & You Foundation has awarded more than $45 million to nonprofits and governmental agencies in all 75 counties.

Rick Evans Nature Center to host Arkansas Big Squirrel Challenge      12/15/21

COLUMBUS – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is launching a new event this January celebrating small game hunting, and it’s hopeful that it will become an annual celebration. The inaugural Big Squirrel Challenge will take place at locations across Arkansas Jan. 7-8, 2022.

That includes Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Nature Center in Columbus, located an hour from De Queen on U.S. Hwy 371S.

Participants can start hunting at noon, Jan. 7 through 30 minutes after sunset, then hunt again 30 minutes before sunrise until around noon Jan. 8. The biggest three squirrels from each team will be weighed (field-dressed with skin on) at 2 p.m. at the nature center or one of the other participating locations throughout the state.

Prizes and trophies will be awarded in three divisions: Youth (two hunters under 16 with an adult mentor or an adult and single hunter under 16), Adult (two hunters 16 or older with no dogs), and Open Class (Two adults or youth hunters in any combination with dogs). In addition to medals, the overall winners in each division will receive Gamo Air Rifles. Drawings also will be held for all participants who turn in a squirrel after the event.

With all of the focus on deer, ducks and turkey in the modern hunting world, relatively few hunters take the time to appreciate a good day in the squirrel woods, but AGFC officials hope the event will spark some renewed interest in small game.

In addition to being plentiful practically anywhere in the state, squirrels offer multiple opportunities to shoot on most outings. Small, .17- or .22-caliber rimfire rifles are comfortable for hunters of all ages to carry and shoot, and shotguns from the tiny .410 to 12-gauge duck guns can be used with no. 4 to no. 6 shot if you’re able to stalk within range.

Many of the facilities also will have fun activities for participants from noon to 2 p.m. the Saturday of the event, with each location offering a little something different. Registration is not necessary to participate, just show up with your best three squirrels from the day’s hunt and enjoy some fun focused on small game in The Natural State.

Arkansas’s squirrel season is from May 15 until the last day in February each year. The daily limit is 12 squirrels. Visit https://www.agfc.com/en/hunting/small-game/squirrel for more information on squirrel hunting.

Visit https://www.agfc.com/en/education/calendar/public-event/arkansas-big-squirrel-challenge-2022 for more information on The Big Squirrel Challenge. More events are available at the AGFC’s Outdoor Skills Network Calendar.

Gov. Hutchinson addresses tornado damage, Medicare waivers during weekly update      12/15/21

Gov. Asa Hutchinson began his weekly update on Tuesday to discuss a different emergency than COVID-19: the death and destruction left in the wake of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the egion this past weekend.

A supercell storm system rolled through Arkansas over the weekend, causing at least four confirmed tornadoes in Arkansas alone. While Kentucky was by far the most severely impacted, tornadoes claimed the life of two Arkansans and left a swath of destroyed buildings during the night of Dec. 10-11.

The tornado outbreak has been described as the deadliest since May of 2011. At least 88 people were killed across five states by the widespread storm. Storms left thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed across the region.

Gov. Hutchinson said FEMA response teams will be entering the state this week to assist in state recovery operations and return power to the approximately 1,200 Arkansans currently without it.

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Gov. Hutchinson then announced his intention to work with state and federal officials to expand Medicare benefits to more developmentally disabled Arkansans. The benefits would be provided to those specifically on a state waiting list. Currently 5,000 developmentally-disabled Arkansans are covered through Medicare with more than 3,000 on the waiting list. Two-hundred additional slots will be made available through a federal waiting list waiver while Hutchinson hopes to cover the remainder with additional funding through the state legislature.

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Concerning Arkansas’ COVID-19 environment, state officials presented statistics from a year ago showing a dramatic improvement in regards to active cases, hospitalizations and deaths caused by the virus. On Dec. 14, 2020, the Arkansas Department of Health reported over 1,300 new cases with 45 deaths over a 24-hour period. In addition, active cases in the state totaled nearly 21,000 and over 1,000 hospitalizations.

On Tuesday, the state reported 783 new cases, a total of 7,300 active cases and 518 hospitalizations.

CRSD Christmas programs kickoff this evening at Vandervoort     12/15/21

WICKES – Cossatot River School District will host a number of Christmas events this week, including the Vandervoort Elementary Christmas Program scheduled for 6 p.m. this evening.

The Wickes Elementary School Christmas Program and Tour of Lights is set for tomorrow, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. And finally, the Umpire campus is hosting its K-12 Christmas program tomorrow as well beginning at 2 p.m.

Today is deadline for 2022 Miss DHS competition applications     12/15/21

DE QUEEN – Today is the deadline for applications to be turned in for the 2022 Miss DHS Pageant hosted by De Queen High School.

The pageant is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 5 of next year. The pageant will be themed, All That Jazz. Entry forms are located in the high school office. Entry fee is $20. Entry fees must be turned in by Jan. 5. The event will include a new separate talent contest.

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign kicks off this week     12/15/21

LITTLE ROCK – One person died every 52 minutes as the result of drunk driving crashes on U.S. streets and highways during 2019. Even during the joyous Christmas season, the deadly statistics continue to mount.

This holiday season, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is partnering with Arkansas law enforcement agencies to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving.

Arkansas law enforcement officers want all drivers to remember this lifesaving message, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”.

Beginning this week and continuing through January 1, 2022, law enforcement officers across Arkansas will step-up their mission to protect motorists by taking drunk drivers off the roads. Drivers who are impaired in violation of state law will be stopped and taken to jail.

Arkansas State Troopers, sheriff’s deputies and city police officers will be working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, but also a matter of life and death. Before getting into their vehicles, drivers who have been drinking should remember to ask themselves whether it’s worth the risk of arrest or worse, causing injury or death to someone traveling home for the holidays.

In every state it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08. A driver pulled-over and arrested for DWI faces the possibility of being jailed, revocation of their driver’s license, insurmountable attorney’s fees, higher insurance rates, lost wages and additional criminal charges resulting from a crash that injures or leads to the death of another person.

If holiday celebrations call for traveling whether across town or cross state, the Arkansas State Police recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

  • It’s never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely. Plan a safe way home before you leave.
  • If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to drive you home.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
  • Buckle up, always. Your seat belt is your best defense against the drunk driver.

For more information on impaired driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. Learn about Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities at www.TZDArkansas.org

Sevier County Medical Center is victim of fraudsters targeting $200,000 sales tax collection     12/10/21

DE QUEEN – Construction on the new Sevier County Medical Center is not even complete but that hasn’t stopped fraudsters from targeting the hospital.

During the December meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center, board members discussed a recent fraud attempt against the hospital. The attack saw a hacker or hackers falsely claim to be county officials to receive the November sales tax collection slated for the hospital.

In all, the amount stolen tax collections total around $200,000.

When county officials identified the missing funds, they contacted the Bank of the Ozarks, which holds accounts for the hospital’s sales tax collections. The bank’s fraud division then stepped in and began an investigation.

The bank’s investigation is ongoing and as of yet the money has not been recovered or reimbursed by the bank.

The hospital board also discussed the recently completed Community Health Needs Assessment. This study set out to determine the leading health issues in Sevier County and how the new hospital could address them.

The assessment identified heart disease and cancer as the leading causes of death for Sevier County residents in 2019 – the same as on the state and national level. Hypertension, diabetes, obesity and nutritional issues were also health needs identified by both the community and healthcare professionals in Sevier County as leading factors impacting the health of local residents.

The assessment also identified the potential for the hospital to partner with local physicians and clinics to offer services such as neurology and urology to save travel for many patients in the hospital’s service area.

Recommended services for the hospital routine ones such as emergency room, radiology and lab and pathology services. Other recommended services include wound care, especially given the high level of diabetes in Southwest Arkansas, as well as chronic care management, telemedicine and behavioral health.

Legacy Academy to host first-ever Homecoming ceremonies tonight in Lockesburg     12/10/21

The 2021 Homecoming Court at Legacy Academy includes Queen Grace Tucker, accompanied by Senior Maid Jessica Nogueira; Junior Maids Trinity Cox, Dori Bartek and Kaydence Schroer; Sophomore Maid Maddie Lowrey; and Freshman Maids Oaklee Lofton, Rayne McDonald, Hannah Mae Morris and Lily Tucker.

LOCKESBURG – Legacy Academy will host its first ever Homecoming tonight at the school’s gym in Lockesburg, starting at 5 p.m.

Ceremonies will be held prior to Homecoming basketball games against Gospel Light of Hot Springs. Homecoming festivities kicked off last night with a schoolwide bonfire and cookout.

The homecoming ceremony will be held in the Warrior gymnasium beginning at 5pm, where the girls’ fathers will escort them in the ceremony.

The Homecoming Queen and court members were chosen based on nominations received from both teachers and upper level students. These nominations were based on character, the demonstration of a life following Christ, and kindness toward others.

The 2021 Homecoming Court includes Queen Grace Tucker, accompanied by Senior Maid Jessica Nogueira; Junior Maids Trinity Cox, Dori Bartek and Kaydence Schroer; Sophomore Maid Maddie Lowrey; and Freshman Maids Oaklee Lofton, Rayne McDonald, Hannah Mae Morris and Lily Tucker.

Young woman from Winthrop named 2022 Miss CRRA      12/10/21

Miss CRRA – Congratulations to one young woman who went from Little River County Rodeo Queen to the Miss Cowboys Regional Rodeo Association. Kelli Ann Cowan was crowned the new 2022 Miss Cowboys Regional Rodeo Association during a ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 5. Kelli is the daughter of Jamie and Mary Cowan of Winthrop. She is a 2021 graduate of Cowan Academy and currently attends UA Cossatot, where she is studying to be a Registered Nurse. She hopes to focus on trauma nursing while finishing her Nurse Practitioners license. Kelli enjoys church, anything equine and helping others in and out of the arena.

Christmas activities around the listening area this weekend      12/10/21

A number of Christmas-themed events will be hosted around the listening area this weekend.

The Little River County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Tour of Homes will be held Dec. 12. Tickets can be purchased at the chamber of commerce on 180 E. Whitaker Street in Ashdown. For more information, call the chamber office at (870) 898-2758.

The Ashdown Church of Christ will host Breakfast with Santa and the annual “Ho Ho Parade” starting at 8 a.m. this Saturday morning.

De Queen First Assembly of God will present Breakfast with Santa this Saturday. December 11, 2021 from 8:30-10:30 am. Cost is $5.00 per child, parents are free. Parents will be able to take photos of their children with Santa.

Menu includes pancakes, sausage, milk and juice with all proceeds going to Missions.

For more information call (870) 584 – 3435.

Historic Washington State Park should not be missed either, with park staff lining the streets with candles to provide a natural and historic Christmas look this weekend. Decorations, music and more will help set the mood for a historic Christmas experience. The homes of Historic Washington will be adorned with period decorations and thousands of luminaries will be lit during the evening hours.

The park will host its 35th annual Christmas and Candlelight on Dec. 10-11.

Candlelight tours will be held from 5-8 p.m. both evenings. Music will be played in the churches and the the 1940 WPA Gym starting at 5 p.m. Williams’ Tavern Restaurant will also be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for a Christmas buffet. Carriage rides will be available and the gift shop is scheduled to be open.

Cost to participate in this year’s Christmas and Candlelight is $10 for adults and $6 for children six to 12-years-old. Children under six get in for free.

The event is sponsored by Historic Washington State Park, the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation and the townspeople of Washington. Historic Washington State Park is located 19 miles from Nashville on Highway 278.

Lace Lane Festival of Lights scheduled for Dec. 17-18     12/09/21

DE QUEEN – A hugely popular local Christmas tradition is returning to De Queen this month. That is, of course, the Lace Lane Festival of Lights.

The Lace Lane Festival of Lights is an always popular and local Christmas tradition for many families in the area. Throughout the Christmas season and into New Year’s Day, the loop, located two miles north of De Queen on Ninth Street, is turned into a wonderland of Christmas lights enjoyed by children and adults alike. The display features literally thousands of Christmas decorations and many more lights.

The Festival of Lights will be held Dec. 17-18 from 6-8 p.m. both evenings. Everyone is invited to come see the lights, meet with Santa and take photos. There will be gifts for the kids and the DHS Show Choir is set to perform both evenings. Come by and watch them perform and maybe even support them with a donation to help them fund their trip to America Sings in Washington, D.C. next year.

Homeowners along Lace Lane put a tremendous amount of effort decorating in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It all started more than two decades ago when Thomas and Donna Sweeten began transforming their property into a dazzling array of Christmas lights and decorations. From a dragon in a pond to a full choir, a variety of nativity scenes and over 100 Santa figures, the scene is something everyone can enjoy. And respect too, because the work that goes into decorating the homes on Lace Lane, and especially the Sweeten’s, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Thomas has said in the past the decorations are his family’s way of sharing their enjoyment of Christmas for the whole community.

If you can’t make it to the Festival of Lights next weekend, no worries: the lights are up now and will be available for viewing through Christmas and the New Year.

De Queen Salvation Army to host Santa Dec. 21, bell-ringing campaign continues     12/09/21

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Salvation Army Family Store will host Santa shortly before Christmas and all area children are invited to come by.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21. Santa will be bringing a bag of toys for area children.

Area residents are reminded time slots remain open for this year’s bell-ringing campaign. Bell-ringers will be in front of Walmart seeking donations for the Red Kettle through Dec. 24. The sole bell-ringing location in Sevier County is the De Queen Walmart Store.

The Salvation Army distributes thousands of dollars to individuals and families each year to help with needs for food, gas, medications, utilities, rent, fire recovery and more. That makes the Salvation Army one of the major sources of aid in our community. And so much of that support is made possible through donations made during the Bell-Ringing Campaign.

Nearly every cent raised by the bellringing stays with the local unit and is used in De Queen and throughout Sevier County to assist those in need.

Two De Queen healthcare providers recognized by Arkansas Blue Cross     12/09/21

DE QUEEN – Two local healthcare providers are among a group from across Arkansas receiving recognition for their efforts to improve the services offered through their clinics.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is financially rewarding primary care clinics participating in the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) program – an initiative of the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation – and the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) program for their creative efforts to improve clinical effectiveness.

Both programs provide financial resources to encourage primary care clinics to test ideas that advance patient care, improve outcomes and reduce low-value care. The two local providers named as top participating clinics include the Lofton Family Clinic and the Dr. Randy Walker Family Practice and Allergy Clinic, both based in De Queen.

For meeting performance goals, 330 participating clinics, representing over 1,500 healthcare providers, will share in $5.6 million being awarded by Arkansas Blue Cross. These clinics are being recognized for a number of healthcare metrics, including meeting patient needs during the pandemic, reducing avoidable hospital admissions, and for improving quality while reducing the cost of care.

Mena woman killed in accident, two others injured     12/09/21

  1. FRANCIS – A two-vehicle accident in St. Francis claimed the life of a Mena woman and caused injuries to two other people on Tuesday.

According to the Arkansas State Police, 59-year-old Charles E. Hutton of Mena was traveling westbound on Interstate 40 near St. Francis on Dec. 7 when his vehicle struck a semi-truck entering the right lane of the interstate. The accident report states the semi-truck was traveling at a low rate of speed as it turned into the right lane and Hutton’s vehicle was traveling at a higher speed and was unable to avoid colliding with the rear portion of the truck. The accident occurred around 8:45 Tuesday morning.

The accident resulted in the death of a passenger in Hutton’s vehicle, 69-year-old Bonnie Hutton also of Mena. Charles Hutton was injured in the accident as was the driver of the semi-truck, 44-year-old Jennifer Dysart of Kimberling City, Mo. Both were taken to the Forrest City Medical Center for treatment of their injuries.

Road conditions were described as clear and dry at the time of the accident, according to the investigating state trooper.

Attempted theft of ATM machine from De Queen Arvest Bank      12/08/21

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Police Department is investigating the attempted theft of an ATM machine from a bank in the city last night.

According to investigators, officers were dispatched to Arvest Bank in De Queen around four o’clock Wednesday morning in reference to an activated ATM alarm. Upon arrival officers with the De Queen Police Department found the ATM machine ripped from its mount and attached via a chain to a Ford King Ranch pickup. The vehicle and attached ATM machine were abandoned and no suspects were found at the scene.

During the investigation the De Queen Police Department discovered the truck was stolen from the Texarkana area.

No suspects are currently in custody and the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact Lt. Chad Bradshaw with the De Queen Police Department by calling (870) 642-2213.

De Queen City Council passes 2022 budget, includes funds for park improvements, new downtown outdoor space     12/08/21

DE QUEEN – The City of De Queen will be funded for another year after the city council passed the municipal 2022 budget during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The $10.3 million budget will fund all city operations, ranging from police and fire services to street repairs and cemetery upkeep.

The budget includes several projects slated for 2022, including a new tennis court at Herman Dierks Park for a cost of $60,000. The two existing tennis courts are also set for resurfacing as well as the addition of pickleball striping. Mayor Jeff Brown said the pickleball strips will be added due to growing interest in the game, not just nationally but among residents of De Queen as well.

City officials are particularly excited about a project to construct an attractive outdoor space on the site of the former Ennis Building next to city hall. That building was purchased by the city in 2017 and then torn down earlier this year. Mayor Brown said the site will be used to include a covered pavilion, picnic tables and other amenities for the public to use. In addition the space will be the new location of the Sevier County Farmers

Other items in next year’s budget include three Dodge Ram pickup trucks for use as police vehicles and several other vehicle replacements among city departments.

The budget also includes $300,000 in state assistance for next year’s street program. Brown said streets scheduled for repaving next year include Fourth Street from Wilkerson to the Railroad Tracks, and the entire length of Coulter Drive.

The city is set to receive two new positions next year, including a full time cemetery employee responsible for the upkeep of Redmen Cemetery. The other position will be a bilingual office worker for City Hall. The city council agreed to fund a new firefighter position during a meeting earlier this year. That position has been filled by Jace Sims, previously a volunteer with the De Queen Fire Department who had graduated from the fire academy. However, Brown said the city may hire another firefighter if it is able to secure a grant in 2022 to help fund the position.

Unlike many other government entities, the City of De Queen passed through 2021 without any budgetary crises and Brown expects none next year, in part to a rather conservative 2022 budget. Brown said the key to a financial sound city is solid employees and strong sales tax collections. That, he stressed, is only made possible by city residents dedicated to shopping locally.

Finally, Brown addressed one project slated for completion this year but which is now on a temporary hold due to ongoing supply chain issues. That is the splash pad at Herman Dierks Park. Brown said people will notice materials accumulating at the site of the splash pad but that some components have still not arrived.

The city hopes to have the splash pad completed next year. The nearly half-million dollar project is being funded almost entirely through a donation from Pilgrim’s.

The city council canceled its second meeting this month due to the proximity to Christmas, and will return in regular session in January.

Lions Club Radio Auction continues Thursday night     12/08/21

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Lions Club kicked off its annual Radio Auction Monday night and, thanks to generous merchants across Sevier County, will be continuing the fundraiser auction again on Thursday.

The group auctioned off dozens of items last night with the help of auctioneer Kevin Williamson. However, the Lions Club was only able to go throughout around half of the donated items during the allotted time. That means the club will host a second round Thursday night starting at 5 p.m.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, there is no in-person bidding at this year’s live auction. Tune in to #1 Country 92.1 or watch the auction live on the KDQN Facebook page to see the items up for this year’s auction and to bid.

Bid by calling First State Bank of De Queen at (870) 642-4423. Pick up and purchase your items at First State Bank in De Queen during regular business hours. Area merchants have donated a lot of great merchandise this year, and all proceeds go towards the many worthwhile De Queen Lions Club projects.

Looking for a special gift this Christmas while helping out those in need in Sevier County? Look no further than the De Queen Lions Club annual Radio Auction fundraiser.

Chamber of Commerce announces 2021 De Queen Christmas Parade winners     12/08/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce has announced winners of its 2021 Christmas Parade, held this past Saturday in De Queen.

Winners in the commercial category included Tyson Foods with first place, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers De Queen Lake office in second, Baker’s Towing and Recovery in third.

Santa Barbara Catholic Church received first place in the religious category.

In the non-religious category, Goin’ Showin’ 4-H Club took first place while second went to the Cossatot Volunteer Fire Department. Third place went to the De Queen branch of Brother’s Keepers.

The De Queen High School Band received first place in the dance and marching category. Second place went to the Backroad Cloggers and third to the De Queen Junior High Cheerleaders.

The top place in the antique cars and trucks category went to Rick and Bettye Mitchell with their 1976 Volkswagen convertible. Second was Wayne and Judy Smith with their 1953 Chevy Bel-Air. Third place went to Lavonna Wright with her 1967 Mustang.

Finally, the winners of the ATV category included De Queen Country Club in first place and Charles Anderson in second.

Most of those who attended Saturday’s parade are likely to agree it was one of the best ever hosted in De Queen. The parade featured over 50 entries while vendors lined up and down third street with a tremendous variety of food, crafts and Christmas gift ideas.

Chamber Director Christy McCullough said organizers estimate around 3,000 people turned out for Saturday’s parade. All in all, she said the event was a great success for De Queen.

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Although the parade is over, the chamber’s Christmas-themed activities continue with the 2021 Shop at Home Campaign. Everyone who shops at a participating Sevier County merchant can place their receipt inside a box placed at the business by the chamber of commerce for a chance to have it drawn and their money refunded. Participants are asked to place their name and phone number on the back of the receipt before placing it in the box. Drawings will be held each Friday in December.

State officials call on Arkansans to get COVID booster shots amidst rising cases     12/08/21

State officials continue to urge Arkansans to receive their vaccinations and boosters against COVID-19 amidst a recent uptick in cases.

During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson reminded Arkansans that booster shots for COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone 18 and up.

Recent studies, including in the November edition of Science, suggested there is a sizable drop in vaccine effectiveness over time. With that in mind, Hutchinson particularly encouraged Arkansans aged 65 and older to get their booster shot in order to maintain their immunity to the virus. Especially, he added, given the spread of the recently discovered Omicron variant.

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Dr. Jose Romero, Arkansas Health Secretary, also suggested a three-dose vaccination series may become standard. That would be similar to other multi-dose innoculations, he said.

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Concerning Arkansas’ COVID-19 figures, the Department of Health reported 932 new cases on Tuesday for a statewide cumulative total of over 543,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw a net increase of 249 for a current total of 7,400. Deaths rose by 24 over the same period, raising that figure to 8,776 since the spring of 2020.

Upcoming Christmas activities in listening area     12/08/21

Kern Heights Baptist Church will host a free Christmas concert this Sunday, Dec. 12 starting at 6 p.m. The event will feature lights, smoke, theatrics and music by the local band, “Harmony.” For more information call Kern Heights Baptist Church at (870) 584-4361.

Ashdown Public Schools will present the annual Ashdown Bands Christmas Concert on Thursday, Dec. 9 in the Helen Parker Gym. The Ashdown Junior High School Band will perform at 6 p.m. with the Ashdown High School Band to take the stage at 6:30. Admission is free to the public.

The Little River County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Tour of Homes will be held Dec. 12. Tickets can be purchased at the chamber of commerce on 180 E. Whitaker Street in Ashdown. For more information, call the chamber office at (870) 898-2758.

De Queen First Assembly of God will present Breakfast with Santa this Saturday. December 11, 2021 from 8:30-10:30 am. Cost is $5.00 per child, parents are free. Parents will be able to take photos of their children with Santa.

Menu: Pancakes, sausage, milk and juice with all proceeds going to Missions.

For more information call (870) 584-3435.

Dec. 7 marks 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack      12/08/21

Today – Dec. 7, 2021 – marks the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attacks on the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The surprise attacks, which led to the U.S. entering World War II,  killed some 2,400 Americans and wounded 1,700 more.

In all, the U.S. lost nearly 20 ships and 300 airplanes.

On December 6, 1941, the U.S. intercepted a Japanese message that inquired about ship movements and berthing positions at Pearl Harbor. The cryptologist gave the message to her superior who said he would get back to her on Monday, Dec. 8. On Sunday, Dec. 7, a radar operator on Oahu saw a large group of airplanes on his screen heading toward the island. He called his superior who told him it was probably a group of U.S. B-17 bombers and not to worry about them.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:55 that morning with the entire attack taking only one hour and 15 minutes. Captain Mitsuo Fuchida sent the coded message, “Tora, Tora, Tora,” to the Japanese fleet after flying over Oahu to indicate the Americans had been caught by surprise. The Japanese planned to give the U.S. a declaration of war before the attack began so they would not violate the first article of the Hague Convention of 1907, but the message was delayed and not relayed to U.S. officials in Washington until the attack was already in progress.

The famous description of the Pearl Harbor attack as a “date which will live in infamy” was delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a joint session of Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, one day after the tragedy. Within an hour of the speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan.

Dorie Miller, a steward on the USS West Virginia, distinguished himself by courageous conduct and devotion to duty during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He first assisted his mortally wounded captain and then manned a machine gun, which he was not accustomed to operating, successfully destroying two Japanese aircraft. He was the first African American awarded the Navy Cross, the service’s highest award, for his actions during the attack.

The Japanese lost 29 aircraft and 5 submarines in the attack. One Japanese soldier was taken prisoner and 129 Japanese soldiers were killed. Out of all the Japanese ships that participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor only one, the Ushio, survived until the end of the war. It was surrendered to the U.S. at Yokosuka Naval Base.

Samuel “Cyrus” Steiner of Winthrop was one of the men killed at Pearl Harbor. Born in 1921, Steiner grew up on the family farm and, according to his obituary, sacrificed two years of school to work and support his family during the Great Depression. Steiner returned to school at Foreman High School and played tackle for the Gators football team. He left school in his senior year to enlist in the U.S. Navy.

As a Fireman First Class, he served aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma. He was on the great ship as she lay in anchor at Pearl Harbor during those fateful morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941. It was a quiet morning interrupted by one of the most tragic moments in American history.

The Oklahoma was one of eight battleships moored in Pearl Habor when the Japanese launched their surprise attack, drawing America into the Second World War. Several torpedoes launched from aircraft struck the vessel. A gaping chasm formed in the hull, causing the ship to capsize. 429 of her 1,400-man crew perished in minutes. Steiner was one of those victims.

Like many aboard the USS Oklahoma, Steiner was declared Lost at Sea and formally stated “to have lost his life in the service of his country.” He was awarded the Purple Heart, American Defense Service and WWII Victory medals. He was just 20-years-old.

In contrast to most of the other battleships stationed at Pearl Harbor, the Oklahoma was so damaged she was never returned to service. The severe damage also made identifying the remains of the fallen sailors so difficult. Only 35 of the 429 sailors and Marines killed aboard the Oklahoma were identified in the years following the attack.

In 1950, all unidentified remains from the ship were buried in caskets at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. In 2015 the Department of Defense began a project to identify the remains of servicemen and women interned in those unknown graves. Steiner’s remains were officially identified last year and properly buried near his hometown in November of 2020.

A detachment from the U.S. Navy provided military burial rites during the ceremony. For the family, the nearly eight decades since the attack on Pearl Harbor was one of no true closure. But Steiner is back home where he can be closely remembered and honored for his service to the Navy and the nation.

Almost half of those who died at Pearl Harbor were aboard the USS Arizona.

In all, 1,177 officers and crewmen did when the Arizona was bombed. The ship sank and, along with the USS Utah, were the only two ships unable to be salvaged after the attack. The Arizona was left at the bottom of Pearl Harbor and, in 1962, a memorial over the wreck was dedicated. The Arizona continues to leak out small drops of oil that spread into the water above, reminding us that many souls were lost on that great ship, they are not forgotten.

Missing plane found near Glenwood, pilot killed in crash     12/06/21

GLENWOOD – The wreckage of a plane reported missing during a flight from Louisiana to Arkansas was found over the weekend near Glenwood.

The National Transportation Safety Board reported the plane, identified as a single-engine Cessna 182, was located in the Bonnerdale area in Hot Spring County on Saturday. The plane was initially reported missing on Friday.

The only person on board was the pilot, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane had taken off from Minden, La., and was en route to Clarksville in Arkansas.

According to reporting from the Associated Press, the pilot was killed in the accident. The pilot’s identity was reported as Vernon Hampton of Clarksville.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board reportedly arrived at the scene of the accident on Sunday.

De Queen Lions Club Radio Auction is tonight     12/06/21

DE QUEEN – Looking for a special gift this Christmas while helping out those in need in Sevier County? Look no further than the De Queen Lion’s Club annual Radio Auction, set to begin tonight starting at 5 p.m.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, there will be no in-person bidding at this year’s live auction. Tune in to #1 Country 92.1 or watch the auction live on the KDQN Facebook page to see the items up for this year’s auction and to bid.

Items not auctioned off this evening will be auctioned at a second evening radio auction on Thursday, Dec. 9.

Bid by calling First State Bank of De Queen at (870) 642-4423. Pick up and purchase your items at First State Bank in De Queen during regular business hours. Area merchants have donated a lot of great merchandise this year, and all proceeds go towards the many worthwhile De Queen Lions Club projects.

Christmas activities continue this evening in Ashdown     12/06/21

DE QUEEN – If you didn’t get a chance to see Christmas parades this weekend in De Queen, Foreman, Horatio and Lockesburg, then you missed some really great displays of Christmas spirit.

But there’s still a chance to see an amazing Christmas parade tradition continue this evening with the Ashdown Christmas Parade.

The Ashdown Christmas Parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight in downtown Ashdown. The parade route will follow Main Street to Little River Memorial Hospital and then to the Little River County Courthouse. Parade participants are asked to return to the courthouse following the parade for trophy presentations. Parade participants should be lined up by 5:15 before tonight’s parade.

The Little River County Farmers Market will host its first annual Christmas Farmers Market and Fundraiser shortly before tonight’s parade in Ashdown. The event will begin at 4 p.m. at 222 Frisco Street in Ashdown. The event will include food and a hot chocolate bar.

A couple of other Christmas events are scheduled in Little River County. Breakfast with Santa and the annual “Ho Ho Parade” is set for 8 a.m. on Dec. 11 at the Ashdown Church of Christ.

The Little River County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Tour of Homes will be held Dec. 12. Tickets can be purchased at the chamber of commerce on 180 E. Whitaker Street in Ashdown.

For more information on these events, call the chamber office at (870) 898-2758.

Local youth organizer launches Santa for Seniors in Sevier County     12/06/21

DE QUEEN – A local youth is leading a new community service project to help bring Christmas to senior citizens in the area.

Ethan Wolcott recently spoke with us to share information on a new service project he’s heading up, Santa for Seniors. The program aims to bring Christmas to local senior citizens who may not have family locally or who may be left behind this holiday season.

Wolcott said the program is seeking nominations from the community to help bring Christmas to seniors in-need this holiday season. Forms have been placed throughout the area for local residents to fill out and nominate a senior they know who could benefit from the program. Area residents are also invited to contact the Sevier County Extension Office to nominate a senior they know.

In all, Santa for Seniors aims to bring Christmas to around 20 local senior citizens. An angel tree will be set up at Simple Simons in De Queen with cards featuring local seniors who could benefit through the program. Wolcott said area residents should keep an eye out for when that tree is set up, later on in December.

For more information you can call the Sevier County Extension Office at (870) 584-3013.

HHS receives several awards recognizing student achievements     12/06/21

HORATIO – Horatio High School has been recognized by the Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Office for Education Policy (OEP) for multiple academic growth awards from the 2020-2021 school year.

Horatio High School  was named on DESE’s 2021 Schools on the Move Toward Excellence report published in early November. This campaign celebrates schools that demonstrate outstanding improvement on recent state and federal accountability reports. HHS was named among the top 10 high schools in Arkansas for scoring two standard deviations or more above the mean on ACT Aspire Value Added Growth scores. DESE will highlight these schools throughout the year with social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Horatio High School was also recognized by the Office for Education Policy (OEP) at the University of Arkansas on two award lists. Both are based on 2021 content growth scores calculated by the Arkansas Department of Education at the student level reflecting how much a student improved his or her score from the prior year compared to what was predicted based on prior achievement history.

The Highlightling High-Growth Arkansas High Schools 2021 report published on November 17 recognized Horatio High School for the following awards:

-First in the Southwest Region and Top 10 overall statewide for Overall ACT Spire Growth in 2021.

-First in the Southwest Region and Fifth overall statewide for Math ACT Aspire Growth in 2021.

Officials with Horatio High School said they are honored to see their students and teachers recognized through these awards.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     12/06/21

DE QUEEN – In local COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting a total of 48 active cases in Sevier County at this time – an increase of 16 from last Monday. Total cases rose to 4,124 since spring of last year. Deaths saw a single increase last week, rising to 61 since the pandemic began.

Little River County is reporting 12 active cases currently, a net increase of two from last Monday. Total cases number 2,131. The department of health reported no deaths last week, with the total remaining at 81.

In Howard County, active cases currently total 36 – an increase of 13 from last week. Cumulative cases number 2,555. Deaths rose by one to 39.

Finally, Polk County is reporting 12 active cases at this time. No additional deaths were reported in Polk County last week, and that figure remains at 112.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 383 cases on Sunday for a total of more than 533,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases currently number 7,500 across the state. Deaths increased by in Arkansas yesterday for a total of 8,739 since the spring of 2020. Currently 432 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

Memorial service today for Winthrop man MIA during Korean War     12/03/21

WINTRHOP – The Winthrop community as well as friends and family will host a memorial service this morning to commemorate a soldier who went missing during the Korean War and never returned home.

The service will be held for Sgt. Jack Jones. Jones received several medals and distinctions for combat actions during the Second World War as well as the subsequent Korean War. Jones was reported as missing in action in Korea in 1950 and his whereabouts or remains were never discovered.

The memorial service seeks to bring some closure for Sgt. Jack Jones. A memorial from the Veterans Administration was provided to organizers and will be placed in Winthrop’s Campground Cemetery where Sgt. Jones parents and other family members are buried.

The dedication and memorial service will be held this morning beginning at 10 a.m. at Campground Cemetery in Winthrop. Organizers encourage everyone to come by and help honor a man who gave his life for his country in two of the fiercest wars ever fought by the United States.

Remembering Frank G. Adams, UAC Chancellor and supporter of higher education in SWAR     12/03/21

By Patrick Massey

DE QUEEN – Friends and family are remembering the legacy of a man instrumental to the advancement of higher education in De Queen and throughout Southwest Arkansas.

That man is Frank G. Adams, who passed peacefully from this life last Wednesday, Nov. 24 at his home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

For many he was known as Dr. Adams, philosophy professor and chancellor of UA Cossatot. Adams was an instrumental part of UA Cossatot based in De Queen, serving most of his 17 years at the college as chancellor. He retired from that position in 2010 and served the following year as Chancellor Emeritus.

Dr. Steve Cole, who became chancellor of the college following Adams’ retirement and remains in that position to this day, said Adams was not just a mentor and community leader, but part of the foundation of higher education in Southwest Arkansas.

Adams dedicated most of his life to higher education. Even as a top level college administrator, Adams was adamant in teaching his own class and staying in close touch with Cossatot students. Dr. Cole added that Adams was a key part of several transitional moments for the college as it grew from a trade school to a community college.

As a one-time student of Adams, I quickly found him to be a man of quick intellect, strong character and an educator who strove to ensure the success of his students. He was a good man and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to call him a mentor and, later, a friend. I also find it touching, as a fellow transplant to Southwest Arkansas, that Adams chose to be laid to rest here in De Queen – a place he was not from, but a place he chose to call home for many years.

Adams was born on January 20, 1938 in Granite City, Illinois. After graduating high school he faithfully served with the United States Air Force during the Vietnam Era. His time in the military was followed by a long career in higher education. He married his wife, Jan, in 1992. He leaves her to cherish his memory along with two daughters, several step-children and many grand- and great-grandchildren.

Funeral Services for Adams will be held at 10 o’clock this morning in the Chandler Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow at Redmen Cemetery.

First case of CWD detected in Southern Arkansas     12/03/21

UNION COUNTY – Chronic wasting disease has been found in a deer in southern Arkansas, near the Louisiana state line, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reported Thursday.

The deer was harvested in the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in Union County (Strong, AR), the commission said, and a sample was confirmed with the fatal disease that affects deer, elk, caribou, and moose in 26 states nationwide.

There are no reported cases of CWD in humans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the agency recommends against eating infected meat.

The source of CWD found in the Arkansas deer is unknown as the nearest known positive case was 120 miles (193 kilometers) away in Issaquena County, Mississippi, and is more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) from the nearest known positive case in Arkansas, the commission said.

Previously, the closest case of CWD to Southwest Arkansas was in Scott County.

The disease is spread by contact with infected saliva, blood, urine, feces, food, water, and soil.

Symptoms in the animals include weight loss, excessive salivation, teeth grinding, head tremors, excessive urination, and thirst, lowering their heads and separating from their herds, according to the commission.

This is a good time to remind hunters that getting their deer tested for chronic wasting disease is not only free through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, it might now even land you a free hunting and fishing for life. Thanks to a donation from the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, every Arkansas resident who has their harvested deer tested for CWD this year will be entered to win one of two gift certificates for a free Resident Sportsman’s Lifetime Combination License and Permit. Hunters who submit multiple deer for testing will have increased chances of being selected.

Testing drop-off sites are located in each county in Arkansas. For more information, and to see the full list of locations, visit www.agfc.com/cwd

Numerous local Christmas events planned for this weekend     12/03/21

DE QUEEN – Get ready for a weekend full of holiday activities with communities across the listening area gearing up to host a number of Christmas-themed events.

The action-packed weekend kicks off tonight with the City of De Queen’s “Christmas Under the Stars” event at Herman Dierks Park. Mayor Jeff Brown is inviting the entire community out for an official lighting of the De Queen Christmas Tree tonight starting at 6 p.m. in Herman Dierks Park. The event will include Christmas caroling by the De Queen High School Show Choir and everyone is invited to attend. Other activities include a snow machine, hot cocoa by First Christian Church and a showing of The Grinch that Stole Christmas hosted by Healthcare Express.

Attendees are also asked to bring non-perishable food items to donate to families in need this holiday.

Other events this weekend include the Horatio Christmas Parade, scheduled for Dec. 4 starting at 2 p.m. Events will kick off at 10 a.m. with vendor booths, including food and homemade crafts. An Elf Parade will be held at 11 a.m. Similar to the Little River County “Ho Ho Parade,” this event will feature a parade of infants, tots and kids with decorated wagons, toddler rides, bikes and anything safe and mobile for the little ones to ride or drive in a Christmas themed parade. Kids from around Sevier County are invited to participate. For more information on these events in Horatio, contact Rachel Chandler at (870) 279-2282.

The Lockesburg Christmas Parade is also scheduled for tomorrow, starting at 4 p.m.

The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas parade in De Queen is set for tomorrow evening. Organizers say this year’s parade will be themed “Christmas on the Tri-Lakes.” The chamber is also reminding area residents that this year’s parade will return to the traditional format around the Sevier County Courthouse Square in downtown De Queen.

Santa will be appearing alongside the lighting of the Courthouse before the parade. In addition, a DJ will be performing Christmas music and numerous vendors are expected to set up around the square. Chamber officials say with everyone’s help this will be a Christmas parade to remember in our community.

Festivities are set to begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday with vendors around the Sevier County Courthouse Square.

For more information contact the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce by emailing dqchamber@gmail.com or by calling (870) 584-3225.

A number of Christmas events are scheduled in Little River County over the coming days as well. That includes the Foreman Christmas Parade kicking off at 6 p.m. on Dec. 4. Trees from the Christmas Tree Contest will be completed by 5 p.m. and on display at the Foreman Library through the holiday season.

The Ashdown Christmas Parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 6. Breakfast with Santa and the annual “Ho Ho Parade” is set for 8 a.m. on Dec. 11 at the Ashdown Church of Christ.

The Little River County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Tour of Homes will be held Dec. 12. Tickets can be purchased at the chamber of commerce on 180 E. Whitaker Street in Ashdown.

For more information on these events, call the chamber office at (870) 898-2758.

And finally, the Little River County Farmers Market will host the first annual Christmas Farmers Market and Fundraiser on Dec. 6 starting at 4 p.m. at 222 Frisco Street in Ashdown. The event will include food and a hot chocolate bar.

Rep. Vaught announces reelection bid     12/03/21

HORATIO – State Representative DeAnn Vaught (R-Horatio) has announced she will seek another term in the Arkansas House of Representatives. The recently redrawn House District 87, formerly House District 4, encompasses all of Little River and Sevier counties, and part of Howard county. Serving since 2015, Vaught has served in the State Capital since being elected in 2015 and she states her focus has primarily been on advocating for rural Arkansans.

For the most recent 93rd General Assembly, Representative Vaught served as Chairwoman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Forestry & Economic Development. She also served on the House Rules Committee, the House Education Committee, and the Arkansas Legislative Council.

Vaught’s track record of passing bills she sponsors have led to improved teacher salaries, protecting property rights, and increasing speed limits on certain state highways. In the most recent legislative session Vaught was the author of legislation fighting for the protection of cancer survivors, creating a state meat inspection program, and allowing the State of Arkansas to review implementation of executive orders from the Biden Administration.

Vaught resides on her family farm outside of Horatio with her husband Jon.  They have three grown daughters and are members of First Baptist Church, Arkansas Farm Bureau, Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, and Arkansas Pork Producers.

Ashdown Public Schools hosting band concerts, “Elf” theater performances     12/03/21

ASHDOWN – Ashdown Public Schools will present the annual Ashdown Bands Christmas Concern on Thursday, Dec. 9 in the Helen Parker Gym. The Ashdown Junior High School Band will perform at 6 p.m. with the Ashdown High School Band to take the stage at 6:30. Admission is free to the public.

The Ashdown Panther Theater will present two performances of Elf this weekend, including a performance at 6 p.m. on Saturday and another at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Cost of Admission is $5.

Cove man arrested for several felony offenses following domestic incident in Sevier Co.     12/02/21

LOCKESBURG – A Cove man was arrested on several felony offenses following a domestic incident in Sevier County that allegedly included physical assault and the discharge of a firearm.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched to a residence on Melrose Road near Lockesburg on Nov. 25 after receiving a call from a 12-year-old child. The minor reported a man at the residence was assaulting his mom and had fired a gun into the home.

Deputies arrived at the scene and identified the suspect as 33-year-old Raymond Vallee, listed as living in Cove. According to the incident report, Vallee admitted to officers that he had struck a woman at the residence and fired a gun inside the house but, he said, without the intention of shooting anyone.

Investigating deputies reported a woman at the residence had several visible injuries and blood on her clothes. She was then transported by Southwest EMS paramedics to Howard Memorial Hospital.

Deputies also recovered a .22-caliber revolver from the scene with one spent casing inside.

Vallee was then arrested on multiple felony counts, including aggravated assault on a family or household member, two counts of domestic battery and possession of firearms by a convicted felon. He was then transported to the Sevier County Jail where official charges are awaiting review by the prosecutor.

Memorial service tomorrow for Winthrop soldier MIA during Korean War     12/02/21

WINTHROP – The Winthrop community as well as friends and family will host a memorial service this Friday to commemorate a soldier who went missing during the Korean War and never returned home.

The service will be held for Sgt. Jack Jones. Jones received several medals and distinctions for combat actions during the Second World War as well as the subsequent Korean War. Jones was reported as missing in action in Korea in 1950 and his whereabouts or remains were never discovered.

The memorial service seeks to bring some closure for Sgt. Jack Jones. A memorial from the Veterans Administration was provided to organizers and will be placed in Winthrop’s Campground Cemetery where Sgt. Jones parents and other family members are buried.

The dedication and memorial service will be held tomorrow morning beginning at 10 a.m. at Campground Cemetery in Winthrop. Organizers encourage everyone to come by and help honor a man who gave his life for his country in two of the fiercest wars ever fought by the United States. Again, that memorial service will be held tomorrow, Dec. 3 beginning at 10 a.m. at Campground Cemetery in Winthrop.

LRCOC hosting Christmas activities in December     12/02/21

ASHDOWN – The Little River County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Tour of Homes will be held Dec. 12. Tickets can be purchased at the chamber of commerce on 180 E. Whitaker Street in Ashdown.

For more information on these events, call the chamber office at (870) 898-2758.

And finally, the Little River County Farmers Market will host the first annual Christmas Farmers Market and Fundraiser on Dec. 6 starting at 4 p.m. at 222 Frisco Street in Ashdown.

Special youth, veteran duck hunt this Saturday     12/02/21

The first segment of Arkansas’s regular duck season has come to a close. But that doesn’t mean all of the shooting has stopped. Thanks to special rules enacted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, duck hunters 15 and younger, as well as active-duty military personnel and veterans, may hunt waterfowl during Arkansas’s third annual Special Youth and Active Duty Military and Veteran Waterfowl Hunt Dec. 4.

The hunt, which has been in place for youths for 20 years, was modified during the 2019-20 waterfowl hunting season to include veterans and active-duty military as a show of gratitude for their service to the citizens of the United States.

Youths and veterans may have additional people with them during their hunt as a mentor or observer. Those people may call, video the hunt, or work a dog to retrieve ducks, but they may not carry a firearm or assist with shooting. Shooting hours and bag limits are the same as regular duck and goose seasons. Veteran hunters, as well as youth hunters may hunt on wildlife management areas from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset these two days and any shell restrictions on WMAs are lifted during these hunts.

This is the first youth and veteran waterfowl hunt of the 2021-22 waterfowl season. The second is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2022, after regular duck season closes. The hunt is split into two days at different times of year to increase the chances of it coinciding with good weather conditions and duck abundance. In some years, early water and cold weather combine to create good duck hunting in December. During other years, the water and ducks do not seem to arrive in great numbers until later in the season. Two hunts offer two chances to catch the right combination of weather and birds.

SWEPCO offers tips for preventing injuries, high energy costs while decorating for Christmas     12/02/21

Continuing the Christmas spirit a lot of folks are preparing to put up the Christmas decorations including lighting the house with lights. SWEPCO issued a release offering tips on how to decorate safely this holiday season while being mindful of electrical safety.

  1. Before putting up lights make sure to stay clear of overhead power lines including any ladders or tools you might be using. 10 feet is considered a safe distance.
  2. Check your lights for damage before using them and make sure to discard any lights with frayed wires, loose connections and broken or cracked sockets.
  3. Make sure your lights and extension cords are rated appropriately for indoor or outdoor use.
  4. Avoid overloading wall outlets or cords with too many lights. Connecting lights to power strips with a built-in circuit breaker is also advised.
  5. Never run electrical cords under carpet or rugs wear daily walking and wear could cause fraying and overheating.
  6. Turn off all holiday lights when you leave the house or go to bed.

You can also save energy this holiday season by using LED string lights which consume about 90 percent less energy than standard incandescent string lights. The typical cost to light a tree with LEDs comes out to around $1 per season.

Winter Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas     12/02/21

November 29th through December 3rd is Winter Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas. The purpose of this week is to remind people what winter weather can bring, and how to deal with hazardous winter conditions. Now is the time to prepare for the upcoming winter season.

Today’s topic is winter weather safety rules.

The best way to survive a winter storm is to plan and prepare for the hazards of winter weather. Although some winter storms develop quickly and with short notice, most events can be planned for.

At home, the primary concerns are for the potential loss of power, heat and telephone service. Food supplies may also run low if conditions persist for several days. Some items that should be readily available around the home prior to the onset of winter weather include…

-Extra food and water, especially canned goods

-A flashlight with extra batteries

-First aid supplies and extra medicine

-Extra baby items

-Extra wood for emergency heating

– A battery powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio

If power is lost, never use a gasoline or diesel powered generator inside the house, in the garage, or any other enclosed space. Generators can cause carbon monoxide to build up to deadly levels in enclosed spaces.

Travel should never be planned when severe winter weather is anticipated. However, certain precautions should be taken during the winter months in case a storm strikes suddenly or travel in bad weather is unavoidable…

-Winterize your vehicle in the fall.

-Keep your gas tank full to minimize ice buildup in the tank.

-Always carry a winter storm survival kit

-Before leaving, let someone know where you are going and

what route you plan to take.

Traveling in winter weather is serious business. If the storm exceeds or tests your driving ability, seek available shelter immediately.

Another winter threat is house fires. December, January, and February are the leading months for house fires in this country. More than one third of fire deaths typically occur during the winter months. Central heating systems should be kept in proper working order. Space heaters need to be at least 36 inches away from any flammable materials. The heaters should not be left on when no one is present or when people are asleep. Fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected and cleaned on a regular basis. Kitchen ranges and ovens, charcoal grills, and hibachis should not be used for heating. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed to provide an early warning when gas begins to build up.

CRSD hosting spelling bees, Christmas programs in December     12/01/21

WICKES – Cossatot River School District is gearing up to host is annual spelling bees this month.

Wickes Elementary will hold its spelling bee on Thursday, Dec. 9 starting at 8:30 a.m. Vandervoort Elementary School’s spelling bee is scheduled for Dec. 10, also at 8:30 a.m.

Cossatot River Superintendent Tyler Broyles informed us the district is also hosting a number of Christmas events this year, including the Vandervoort Elementary Christmas Program scheduled for 6 p.m. on Dec. 15. The Wickes Elementary School Christmas Program and Tour of Lights is set for Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. And finally, the Umpire campus is hosting its K-12 Christmas program on Dec. 16 beginning at 2 p.m.

State officials discuss Omni variant, vax for children and pregnant women     12/01/21

The newly-detected Omicron variant of COVID-19 was the center of discussion during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Reports of the discovery of the new and potentially more transmissible variant first surfaced last week in South Africa. Health experts in the U.S. are largely uncertain at this time what characteristics the new mutation possesses.

Hutchinson reiterated that information is scant on the Omni variant, including questions on its transmissibility, its effect on health and whether currently available vaccines are effective.

Health experts stress viruses, including the one that causes Covid-19, mutate regularly and most new mutations do not have significant impact on the virus’s behavior and the illness they cause.

However, Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero said the lack of information on the Omni variant at this time has raised some alarm. The Arkansas Department of Health is surveilling for the new variant and no case has yet been reported in the state. He added evidence suggests currently available vaccines are effective against the new strain.

Romero also shared data suggesting an increasing proportion of the new cases of COVID-19 detected in Arkansas are among five to 18-year-olds. Vaccines, he stressed, are available for everyone aged five and up. In addition, he addressed the issue of vaccinations for women considering pregnancy and for those who already are.

Regarding the state’s updated COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 1,044 new cases on Tuesday – the highest single-day increase since September. That raises the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to nearly 529,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases increased by 335 on Tuesday for a current total of just under 5,700. Over the same period deaths increased by 12 to number 8,667 since spring of 2020. Finally, hospitalizations rose by 19 to leave 409 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Pike County accident claims life of Nashville man, leaves De Queen man injured     11/30/21

KIRBY – An accident early Monday morning claimed the life of a Nashville man and left a De Queen man injured.

According to the Arkansas State Police, the accident occurred around 5:30 Monday morning on U.S. Highway 70 east of Kirby. The investigating state trooper reported that 31-year-old Joshua Becerra of De Queen was traveling south on Highway 70 when his 2013 Chevy Malibu crossed left of center and struck a 2009 Hyundai head-on. In the Hyundai was 40-year-old Jonathan Orr of Nashville.

Orr was killed in the accident and Becerra was transported to a Hot Springs hospital for treatment.

The investigating state trooper reported road conditions as clear and dry at the time of the accident.

LRCO Courthouse, HWSP featured on 2021 Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights     11/30/21

ASHDOWN – Arkansas Tourism has released its annual guide to the state’s Trail of Holiday Lights, which features cities and communities who are going all out to make Christmas a brilliant event. And this year area residents won’t have  travel far to enjoy at least some of them.

This year’s Trail of Holiday Lights includes two local locations: the Little River County Courthouse in downtown Ashdown and Historic Washington State Park.

An official lighting of the courthouse was held on Nov. 20, but the tens of thousands of lights decorating the Little River County Courthouse will be lit through the beginning of the new year. A great time to check out the lights would be Ashdown’s annual Christmas Parade beginning at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 6.

Historic Washington State Park should not be missed either, with park staff lining the streets with candles to provide a natural and historic Christmas look. Decorations, music and more will help set the mood for a historic Christmas experience. The homes of Historic Washington will be adorned with period decorations and thousands of luminaries will be lit during the evening hours.

The park will host its 35th annual Christmas and Candlelight on Dec. 10-11. Candlelight tours will be held from 5-8 p.m. both evenings. Music will be played in the churches and the the 1940 WPA Gym starting at 5 p.m. Williams’ Tavern Restaurant will also be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for a Christmas buffet. Carriage rides will be available and the gift shop is scheduled to be open.

Cost to participate in this year’s Christmas and Candlelight is $10 for adults and $6 for children six to 12-years-old. Children under six get in for free.

The event is sponsored by Historic Washington State Park, the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation and the townspeople of Washington. Historic Washington State Park is located 19 miles from Nashville on Highway 278.

The Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights continues at a number of other locations across the state now through the end of the year. Towns across The Natural State are taking part with events and activities. Displays in many locations will be lit into the new year, offering a fun way to hit the road and spend time with friends and family. To view locations and events, go to Arkansas.com/trailofholidaylights.

Arkansas residents and travelers have made the Trail of Holiday Lights an annual holiday tradition for more than 25 years. Cities and towns across the state get into the spirit, decking the halls and bringing families together.

KCS cancels 2021 Holiday Express due to COVID concerns     11/30/21

DE QUEEN – We’ll be missing out again on one hugely popular Christmas activity in the area this year. The 2021 KCS Christmas train will not roll across the region again this year for the 21st anniversary due to COVID-19. Instead, Kansas City Southern requests that you make a charitable contribution to The Salvation Army. Fund raised support the 20 to 25 communities along the KCS network, including De Queen and Ashdown. Past events in both communities drew out thousands of visitors.

In the past, The Kansas City Southern’s Holiday Express stopped along the company’s rail network. It brought Santa Claus and his elves to visit each community, spread holiday cheer and awe spectators with a fully lit and decorated Christmas train. Each event was free and open to the public. Guests visited with Santa in the caboose and tour three of the cars filled with Christmas displays and electric model trains.

In addition, at each KCS Christmas train stop, a charitable contribution is made to the local Salvation Army to provide warm clothes and other necessities for children in need.

The Holiday Express was created in 2001 as volunteers dedicated more than 8,000 hours to transform retired rail cars. Today, these cars feature a smiling tank car named Rudy; a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village; a gingerbread boxcar; the elves’ workshop; a reindeer stable; and a little red caboose.

There is no word about 2022 yet.

Dec. 1 is deadline for Shop with a Cop/Biker, Toys for Tots applications     11/30/21

DE QUEEN – Applications are due tomorrow from local families seeking some assistance with Christmas through several locally-based charitable programs.

Organizers announced applications for this year’s Shop with a Cop, Toys for Tots and Shop with a Biker programs can be picked up at De Queen City Hall and the Sevier County Extension Office. Applications will need to be turned in by tomorrow, Dec. 1 at either location. One hundred Sevier County kids will be selected this year and shopping will be held on Saturday, Dec. 11.

Organizers of all three programs say they introduced a standardized form to ensure they are able to help as many Sevier County kids as possible.

In addition, donations are still being accepted for this year’s Shop with a Cop Program hosted by the De Queen Police Department.

Sevier County’s Shop with a Cop program started around 15 years ago. In that time the event has raised tens of thousands of dollars and, with that, brought Christmas to around a thousand local children.

The program is funded each year entirely through private and corporate donations. That includes a yearly grant from the De Queen Walmart store as well as a host of donations from individual citizens. Often, that includes hundreds of dollars in donations from area residents from shoppers on the day the event is held. ‘

If you or your business would like to donate to this year’s Shop with a Cop Program, contact Beth Hughes at the De Queen Police Department by calling (870) 642-2210. Organizers say all donations are greatly appreciated and 100 percent of funds raised will go to helping local children have a Merry Christmas.

City of De Queen to host lighting of Christmas Tree at Herman Dierks Park     11/30/21

DE QUEEN – The City of De Queen is inviting the entire community out for an official lighting of the De Queen Christmas Tree this Friday starting at 6 p.m. in Herman Dierks Park.

The event will include Christmas caroling by the De Queen High School Show Choir and everyone is invited to attend. Other activities include a snow machine, hot cocoa by First Christian Church and a showing of The Grinch that Stole Christmas hosted by Healthcare Express.

Attendees are also asked to bring non-perishable food items to donate to families in need this holiday.

Solar company meets with Polk County poultry growers to discuss alternative energy sources     11/30/21

POLK COUNTY – A solar installation company recently reached out to poultry growers in Mena in an effort to bring solar power options to the poultry industry.

Solar Integrated Roofing Corp., a solar power and roofing systems installation company, met with a group of Polk County producers to explain how solar power could benefit them and other contract poultry growers throughout the nation.

“In our beta program to test [the poultry grower] market, we sent a team to Mena, Arkansas, a rural town heavily populated with poultry farms,” said said Pablo Diaz, CEO of USA Solar Networks and President of Solar Integrated Roofing Corp. “In our initial visit, we met with six business owners to explain how a solar system could save cost for their business. We signed development agreements with four of them, with contracts totaling over $2.5 million dollars.”

USA Solar Networks, a subsidiary of Solar Integrated Roofing Corp., launched the new sales program to explain how U.S. poultry growers can transition to solar and alternative energy solutions for their energy-intensive operations.

The poultry farm industry in the United States includes over 233,000 poultry farms that generate revenue of over $40 billion dollars annually. Electricity is often the second largest expense for farms that require extensive lighting, ventilation, heating, cooling and feed lines.

Company officials say the new program allows farmers to take advantage of alternative energy benefits to power their operations, including federal tax subsidies available to businesses, reduced or eliminated high utility costs, and the potential to increase cashflow over a 25-year period.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) can help farmers reduce energy costs. Under this program farmers are eligible to receive a grant for up to 25 percent of the solar project cost.

“The poultry industry has long been neglected by the solar industry despite being large consumers of electric power,” said Diaz. “Their high electric costs make these farmers ideal candidates for the solar energy solutions we provide.”

Company officials said the coming months will see another USA Solar Networks team returning to Arkansas and neighboring states to offer its solar power options. For more information, visit the Company’s website at www.solarintegratedroofing.com.

DHS Show Choir performing at numerous events in December     11/30/21

DE QUEEN – The DHS Show Choir is gearing up for a busy December with a number of events scheduled for the coming days and weeks.

The show choir has been invited to sing at the lighting of the De Queen Christmas tree on Dec. 3 and will participate in the De Queen Christmas parade on Dec. 4. The group will host its annual Christmas Concert on Sunday, Dec. 5 at 2 pm, and will be performing at Lion’s Club on Tuesday, December 14.

The DHS Show Choir will also be traveling to participate in America Sings! in Washington D.C. in May of 2022. The group was selected to participate in the Spirit of America Honor Choir and was also given the honor of being the only school to do a tribute performance at Arlington National Cemetery.

ATV accident claims life of Lockesburg man     11/29/21

LOCKESBURG – An accident involving an all-terrain vehicle claimed the life of a Lockesburg man over the Thanksgiving weekend.

According to the Arkansas State Police, 49-year-old Oliver Grant of Lockesburg was traveling north on Silver Ridge Road around 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27 when his Suzuki ATV drove off the east shoulder. After leaving the roadway Grant was thrown from the ATV into a creek, causing a fatal injury according to the investigating state trooper.

Road conditions were described as clear and dry at the time of the accident.

Horatio State Bank set to expand into Ashdown following Arvest branch selloff     11/29/21

HORATIO – A local financial institution is seeking to expand it services through the recent acquisition of a bank in Ashdown.

According to the Arkansas State Bank Department, in September Horatio State Bank purchased the Arvest bank branch at 110 Main Street in downtown Ashdown. This would be only the second expansion of Horatio State Bank in its nearly 117-year history. Back in 2016 the bank opened a second branch in Foreman.

Horatio State Bank’s expansion into Ashdown is associated with the recent announcement by Arvest that it would sell off a number of branch locations throughout Southwest Arkansas.

The Fayetteville-based financial institution reported in October it will sell a total of 16 branches in Arkansas. Those include locations in De Queen, Dierks, Ashdown, Nashville, Broken Bow and Glenwood. All of those locations, as well as Arvest branches in Mount Ida and Paris, are set to be purchased by Farmers Bank and Trust.

Horatio State Bank is set to purchase the Arvest location on Main Street in Ashdown while Magnolia’s Farmers Bank & Trust is buying a second Arvest branch on Constitution Street in Ashdown. Magnolia’s Farmers Bank & Trust is also purchasing branches in Broken Bow and Idabel.

Horatio State Bank’s application for the Ashdown expansion is awaiting final regulatory approval, according to the Arkansas State Bank Department website.

De Queen Lions Club to host annual radio auction next week     11/29/21

DE QUEEN – The annual De Queen Lions Club radio auction will be held on Monday, Dec. 6 and again on Thursday, Dec. 9 starting at 6 p.m. both evenings. Due to COVID-19 precautions, there will be no in-person bidding at this year’s live auction. Tune in to #1 Country 92.1 or watch the auction live on the KDQN Facebook page.

Bid by calling First State Bank of De Queen at (870) 642-4423. Pick up and purchase your items at First State Bank in De Queen. Area merchants have donated a lot of great merchandise this year, and all proceeds go towards the many worthwhile De Queen Lions Club projects.

Rep. Vaught: Shop with small businesses this holiday season     11/29/21

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

Small businesses are the heartbeat of our neighborhoods and the lifeblood of our local economy.

In Arkansas, small businesses make up the majority of the business landscape, at 99.3 percent of all businesses in the state. This equates to 258,552 businesses. Small businesses can be found in every corner of our state.

When you shop locally, you support your neighbors and community. Local businesses are owned by people who live in our towns. They go to our churches, donate to our Little League teams, and show up to parent/teacher conferences.

It is estimated that for every $100 spent in a local business, $68 dollars recirculates and remains in the local economy. Small businesses employ 47.1 percent of Arkansas employees, or 491,383 people total. Women own 43.1 percent of small businesses in Arkansas. Veterans own 9.3 percent, and nearly 13 percent of small businesses are minority-owned.

When you shop at small businesses, you are doing business with someone who took a chance on their dreams. The employees are likely personally invested in the products or services they are selling. That often means they can provide more specific product expertise and a personalized shopping experience.

Your small purchase can make a big difference this year. Our small business owners are emerging from one of the most challenging economic times in our history.

Despite the difficulties posed by the past year, Arkansas was recently ranked no. 2 for states with the most pandemic-proof small businesses. Personal finance website WalletHub compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia’s small business environment, determining which states’ small businesses were the most pandemic-proof and had the greatest potential to bounce back. Local residents’ continued support helped to make this a reality. Given the difficulties faced by small businesses, and the ongoing global supply chain issues, supporting small businesses in your community this holiday season and year-round is one of the best things everyone can do.

Winter Weather Awareness Week: Knowing watches, warnings and advisories     11/29/21

It’s Winter Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas, a time to highlight and review the long-range winter forecast, offer helpful safety tips, and provide a comprehensive look at the hazards of winter. Given the foot of snow and subfreezing temperatures we saw in Southwest Arkansas back in February, residents in the listening area are not strangers to the harsh weather winter can bring.

As your designated NOAA weather station, and to help Arkansans get ready for winter’s wrath, we plan to highlight a special week and review the long-range forecast, offer helpful safety tips, and provide a comprehensive look at the hazards of winter. Today we’ll take a brief look at the terms the national weather service uses to describe winter weather as well as the definitions of watches, warnings and advisories issued for winter weather events.

A hazardous weather outlook is issued prior to a winter storm watch.
The outlook is issued when forecasters believe winter storm conditions are possible. Outlooks are usually issued 3 to 5 days in advance of a winter storm.

In general a winter storm watch alerts the public to the possibility of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter storm watches are usually issued 24 to 48 hours before the beginning of a winter storm. These events may occur separately or in combination.

Since watches are issued well in advance of the storm, there will be times when the storm does not materialize, so they may be canceled.

On the other hand, a warning is issued when hazardous winter weather is imminent or has already begun. It is issued for conditions which pose a threat to life and property.

  • Other winter weather warnings include an ice storm warning, which is issued when significant ice is expected to accumulate on trees, powerlines and roads. An ice storm is a very dangerous storm, disrupting traffic, and knocking down powerlines. As those who lived in the listening area during the 2000-2001 winter storm know well, prolonged power outages can occur leaving people without power for up to a week or more.
  • A wind chill warning is issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be hazardous to life within several minutes of exposure, usually at temperatures below minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

In contrast to warnings and watches, advisories are issued for less serious weather conditions. Specific advisories will alert you to weather that would have a significant effect on motorists, outdoor activities, or public events.

We here at Your Number One Country strive to keep you informed and up-to-date during all dangerous weather situations. We issue frequent updates during active winter weather, that serve to give you the most up to the minute, and detailed weather information available.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures: Active continues continue decline in SWAR     11/29/21

DE QUEEN – In local COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting a total of 32 active cases in Sevier County at this time – a decrease of 12 from last Monday. Total cases rose to 4,073 since spring of last year. Deaths saw no weekly increase for the first time in nearly two months and remain at 60 since the pandemic began.

Little River County is reporting 10 active cases currently, a decline of seven from last Monday. Total cases number 2,124. The department of health reported an additional death last week for a total of 81.

In Howard County, active cases currently total 23 – a decrease of seven from last week. Cumulative cases number 2,524. Deaths remain at 38.

Finally, Polk County is reporting seven active cases at this time. No additional deaths were reported in Polk County last week, and that figure remains at 112.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 374 cases on Sunday for a total of more than 527,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw a slight decrease, falling to 5,829 across the state. Deaths saw no increase in Arkansas yesterday for a total of 8,653since the spring of 2020. Hospitalizations rose by nine to leave 363 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

A host of events, activities to be held in SWAR this Christmas season     11/24/21

DE QUEEN – Communities across the listening area are preparing to host a number of holiday-themed events this Christmas.

That includes the Horatio Christmas Parade, scheduled for Dec. 4 starting at 2 p.m. Events will kick off at 10 a.m. with vendor booths, including food and homemade crafts. An Elf Parade will be held at 11 a.m. Similar to the Little River County “Ho Ho Parade,” this event will feature a parade of infants, tots and kids with decorated wagons, toddler rides, bikes and anything safe and mobile for the little ones to ride or drive in a Christmas themed parade. Kids from around Sevier County are invited to participate. For more information on these events in Horatio, contact Rachel Chandler at (870) 279-2282.

The Lockesburg Christmas Parade is also scheduled for Dec. 4, starting at 4 p.m. Call city hall at (870) 289-3261.

Officials with the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce have announced the theme for this year’s annual De Queen Christmas Parade.

Organizers say this year’s parade will be themed “Christmas on the Tri-Lakes.” The chamber is also reminding area residents that this year’s parade will return to the traditional format around the Sevier County Courthouse Square in downtown De Queen.

Santa will be appearing alongside the lighting of the Courthouse before the parade. In addition, a DJ will be performing Christmas music and numerous vendors are expected to set up around the square. Chamber officials say with everyone’s help this will be a Christmas parade to remember in our community.

This year’s parade is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 with activities to kick off at 4 p.m. Vendor setup will begin at 2 p.m. with the parade itself to start at 6 p.m. around the Sevier County Courthouse Square.

The deadline to reserve a vendor space or enter a float in the parade is Wednesday, Dec. 1.

For more information contact the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce by emailing dqchamber@gmail.com or by calling (870) 584-3225.

A number of Christmas events are scheduled in Little River County as well. That includes the Foreman Christmas Parade kicking off at 6 p.m. on Dec. 4. Trees from the Christmas Tree Contest will be completed by 5 p.m. and on display at the Foreman Library through the holiday season.

The Ashdown Christmas Parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 6. Breakfast with Santa and the annual “Ho Ho Parade” is set for 8 a.m. on Dec. 11 at the Ashdown Church of Christ.

The Little River County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Tour of Homes will be held Dec. 12. Tickets can be purchased at the chamber of commerce on 180 E. Whitaker Street in Ashdown.

For more information on these events, call the chamber office at (870) 898-2758.

And finally, the Little River County Farmers Market will host the first annual Christmas Farmers Market and Fundraiser on Dec. 6 starting at 4 p.m. at 222 Frisco Street in Ashdown. The event will include food and a hot chocolate bar.

Gov. Hutchinson urges caution over COVID when gathering this Thanksgiving     11/24/21

At his weekly news briefing today, Governor Asa Hutchinson encouraged Arkansans to be cautious during the holidays with a reminder that the 2020 holiday season produced a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Hutchinson said a rise in active cases and hospitalizations this week has health officials concerned of another spike in cases like that seen last holiday season.

Governor Hutchinson also cited a CDC study suggesting vaccinations are more effective than natural immunity. And although natural immunity from COVID-19 is possible, Hutchinson said it is not as effective as getting the vaccine and preventing the virus in the first place.

The CDC report states that a study of hospitalized patients with symptoms similar to COVID-19 found that unvaccinated people with a previous infection of COVID were five times more likely to have a positive COVID-19 test compared to vaccinated people. That illustrates the difference between the natural immunity and the effectiveness of the vaccination, Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson also reminded Arkansans that booster shots for all three vaccines are available across Arkansas for everyone aged 18 and up. There is no cost to receive a booster.

The Governor said that he is considering calling a special session the week of December 6 to consider a tax cut, but that he won’t call it until he is certain both chambers have enough votes to pass it.

In state COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 690 new cases on Tuesday for a total of 525,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases rose by 108 to 6,079 currently. Deaths rose by seven for a total of 8,627 since the spring of 2020. Hospitalizations rose by 12 to leave 345 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Nov. 29-Dec. 3 is Winter Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas     11/24/21

DE QUEEN – Winter can bring a variety of hazardous weather conditions to Arkansas, including heavy snow, ice, and very cold conditions. This past winter, Arctic air poured into the state in mid-February 2021. Thermometers showed below zero temperatures at times, and two storm systems dumped more than twenty inches of snow in places. Even here in Southwest Arkansas, with its usually mild winters, saw temperatures as low as minus five and snow accumulation of over a foot in places.

Travel became difficult, water pipes broke, and some people lost power. In situations like this, it pays to be prepared. Otherwise, without transportation, water, and heat, your life may be threatened.

As your designated NOAA weather station, and to help Arkansans get ready for winter’s wrath, we plan to highlight a special week and review the long-range forecast, offer helpful safety tips, and provide a comprehensive look at the hazards of winter. We’ll be sharing that information next week during Winter Weather Awareness Week, which runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3.

Topics include an outlook for the upcoming winter, winter precipitation types, the differences between weather watches, warnings and advisories, and a number of winter weather safety rules.

For more information visit www.weather.gov and stay tuned to Your Number One Country 92.1 throughout Winter Weather Awareness Week.

Library’s Food for Fines, Sweater Drive ends Nov. 30     11/24/21

DE QUEEN – A reminder that since it’s November the Sevier County Library System’s is once again hosting its annual Food for Fines program.

Through this yearly initiative, patrons are invited to bring in any nonperishable food item for a one dollar reduction per item in existing overdue fines. Food accepted for fines are for returned library materials only, not for replacement fees of lost or damaged items. The program is part of the library system’s annual effort to address food insecurity in Sevier County, according to Head Librarian Johnye Fisher. Time is running out so don’t delay in taking advantage of this program while also helping fight local food insecurity.

In addition to the Food for Fines program, the library is also once again sponsoring the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive. The library is accepting new or gently worn items for donation, including cold weather clothes like coats, sweaters, gloves, hats, scarves and more. Donations will be accepted through Nov. 30.

Don’t forget our local small businesses this holiday shopping season     11/24/21

DE QUEEN – Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a holiday shopping opportunity you can’t afford to ignore: Small Business Saturday.

Launched in 2010 and falling on November 27, the day of promotions is the highest-earning day of the year for one-third of small businesses, according to American Express’s recent Shop Small Study. Sixty-seven percent of consumers surveyed prefer to seek out small businesses rather than larger retailers for holiday purchases.

With the global supply chain issues and with many local small businesses doing their best to recover from the ongoing pandemic, do the economies of Southwest Arkansas a big favor and shop local this holiday shopping season. Those who shop local in Sevier County this Small Business Saturday can take advantage of a special promotion hosted by a local business. Bring in a receipt of a minimum $25 purchase from a Sevier County merchant and patrons will receive a free order of bread sticks at Simple Simons in De Queen.

Christmas music starting this Friday on KILX 102.1 FM    11/24/21

DE QUEEN – Just a reminder as you settle down to enjoy Thanksgiving tomorrow morning. Our sister station, 102.1FM “The Good Path,” is playing non-stop Christmas music so tune in to hear all of your favorite Christmas classics.

Need a little help getting into the Christmas spirit? Well, we here at KDQN Studios are here to help. Ranging from Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole to Mariah Carey and Paul McCartney, 102.1 has the music to help you enjoy that Christmas spirit.

So tune-in whether you’re traveling around the listening area or just enjoying some relaxing time at home. It’s that most wonderful time of year, and let us help you sit back, relax and enjoy the Christmas holiday with all your favorite classics.

De Queen pharmacy launches COVID-19 treatment facility    11/23/21

DE QUEEN – A new treatment center specializing in COVID-19 has opened in De Queen, providing everything from vaccines and boosters to monoclonal antibody treatments.

The COVID-19 Treatment Center, located on the grounds of the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy, was officially introduced to the community during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Nov. 18. Chester Barber, owner of the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy, said he made the decision to open the new treatment center to offer those in the community a one-stop location for all treatments related to COVID-19.

The treatment center is a natural fit for the De Queen-based pharmacy. De Queen Health and Wellness was one of the first pharmacies in the state to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. In fact, Barber’s two children – Torrey Barber and Elee Coleman, who both work at De Queen Health and Wellness – picked up the first patch of vaccines from a plane at the Sevier County Airport.

The pharmacy has been a pioneering leader not just in the community, but also across the state in the pharmaceutical fight against COVID-19.

The pharmacy was one of the first two pharmacies in Arkansas to provide monoclonal antibody treatments to those suffering from COVID-19. Those treatments helped keep patients out of the hospital at a time when spare hospital beds were nearly non-existant in Arkansas due to the high rate of COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care. Because of that the pharmacy treated people from all other state and broader region.

In addition to COVID-19 testing and monoclonal antibody treatments, Barber said the treatment center has all three FDA approved vaccines and related booster shots. That includes the Pfizer vaccine approved for children aged five and up. All of these services, Barber stresses, are completely free and in ready supply.

Barber said the virus’ Delta strain – and the new Lambda strain also detected – have proven to be more lethal than the original.  He stressed the ability of monoclonal antibody treatments to help fight the virus, especially among those who transmit it and are unvaccinated.

Barber said he invites anyone with questions to contact the pharmacy at (870) 642-2400. In addition, anyone seeking COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, testing or treatment can stop by the COVID-19 Treatment Center located adjacent to De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy at 1357 W. Collin Raye Drive.

Cossatot River FCCLA chapter hosting stocking stuffer drive    11/23/21

WICKES – The Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter at Cossatot River School District is hosting a toy drive this holiday season to ensure local kids in need have gifts this Christmas.

FCCLA members will be accepting stocking stuffer items for a total of 46 local children ranging all ages. The group is also accepting monetary donations to help fund the toy drive. Donations can be made now through Dec. 3. For the public’s convenience donation boxes have been set up at the Lighout Drive-In, Cossatot Rive High School, Union Bank in Wickes, Scotty’s in Cove, Sweet & Southern T’s and La Condesa.

Suggested stocking stuffer ideas for children aged zero to 18 include LEGOs, hats, books, candy, gloves, fuzzy socks, hygiene products, snacks and crayons and markers.

AFB annual Thanksgiving meal survey shows cost up 14 percent in 2021    11/23/21

LITTLE ROCK – A traditional Thanksgiving meal will cost Arkansans more this year as the prices for staple foods and specialty items are on the rise.

Shoppers can expect to pay over $50 for the holiday feast for a family of 10, according to a survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

Farm Bureau’s 36th annual survey indicates the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving feast is $53.31, up $6.41 (or 14 percent) from last year’s national average of $46.90.

Leading the cost at the cash register is the turkey, the centerpiece for many tables, at $23.99 for a 16-pound bird.

Farm Bureau shoppers checked prices between Oct. 26 and Nov. 8, which is before many grocery store chains began their turkey markdowns for Thanksgiving. Although the survey timeline is consistent with past Thanksgiving surveys, 2021 brought some unique differences. According to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service data, grocery stores began advertising lower feature prices later than usual this year. Also, the average per-pound feature price for whole frozen turkeys was $1.07 the week of Nov. 5-11 and 88 cents the week of Nov. 12-18, a decline of 18 percent in just one week. This means consumers who have not yet purchased a turkey should be able to find one at a lower cost than the Farm Bureau average.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

Accident claims life of Ashdown woman Friday night    11/22/21

ASHDOWN – A motor vehicle accident involving a pedestrian claimed the life of an Ashdown woman over the weekend.

According to the Arkansas State Police, 83-year-old Lavern Collins of Ashdown was killed around 5:30 Friday evening after stepping into the southbound lane of Highway 71 in Ashdown where she was struck by a 2015 Chevrolet Camaro.

Little River County Coroner Jason Jones pronounced Collins dead at the scene. Road conditions at the time of the accident were listed as clear and dry in the investigation report.

Applications now available for Christmas gift programs    11/22/21

DE QUEEN – Applications are currently being accepted for local children in need to receive gifts through several charitable programs in Sevier County. Toys for Tots, Shop with a Cop, and Shop with a Biker have combined forces to allow Sevier County residents to fill out a single application that will allow local children to shop for Christmas gifts with a member of one of those organizations.

Applications may be picked up at De Queen City Hall or the Sevier County Extension office.  Deadline to return those applications to one of those entities is next Wednesday, December 1st.  Applications will be reviewed and 100 children will be chosen.  Shopping will be Saturday, December 11th.

Jay Litchford of the De Queen-based Brothers Keepers chapter said donations and volunteers are welcome to help make this Christmas a good one for as many local kids as possible.

Litchford added that the Brothers Keepers are partnering with Angie Walker, owner of Simple Simons in De Queen, to raise more funds for the organization’s Shop with a Biker program. Fifty percent of all proceeds at Simple Simons on Monday, Dec. 6 will be donated to the Brothers Keepers for this program.

Again, applications for this year’s Shop with a Cop, Shop with a Biker and Toys for Tots campaigns can be picked up at De Queen City Hall or the Sevier County Extension Office. Applications must be returned by Dec. 1. For more information, contact Litchford at (870) 584-9241.

Rep. Vaught: Thanksgiving meal made possible thanks to Arkansas farmers    11/22/21

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

This week, most of us will gather around a table with family and friends and think about the things we are most thankful for. This year, Arkansans are encouraged to think about the men and women who helped bring the Thanksgiving meal to the table.

Arkansas farmers made not only this meal but countless meals across the country possible. In 2020, Arkansas poultry producers raised 31 million turkeys. We rank second in the nation for turkeys raised, accounting for 14 percent of all turkeys raised in the United States.

The industry is responsible for approximately $4.3 billion in total economic activity throughout the state and supports more than 17,500 Arkansas jobs.

When it comes to sweet potatoes, Arkansas farmers harvest more than 4,000 acres every year. Arkansas is the fourth largest producer of sweet potatoes.

Arkansas ranks 18th for corn production in the United States. Over 111 million bushels of corn were produced last year in Arkansas on 830,000 acres.

On the surface, soybeans may seem unrelated to the typical thanksgiving feast. But soybean meal, oil, and soy foods are key to making some of your favorite family traditions possible. Soybean oil is used to make hundreds of foods, including mayonnaise, peanut butter, and ranch dressing. These special ingredients may be the secret to pulling off the perfect pumpkin pie, casserole, and stuffing.

Soybeans are Arkansas’ largest row crop accounting for more acres than rice, corn, sorghum, and wheat combined. Arkansas currently ranks 11th in the nation in soybean production, producing more than 139 million bushels annually valued at more than $1.5 billion.

Arkansas farmers may have contributed to the Thanksgiving dessert menu as well, especially when it comes to the pies. Arkansas has more than 15,736 acres of pecan trees. Arkansas’ commercial pecan production contributes an average of $11 million to the state’s economy every year. The 87th General Assembly designated the pecan as the official nut of Arkansas.

Agriculture is Arkansas’ largest industry, providing more than $21 billion in value to Arkansas’ economy annually. We thank our farmers for the meal this Thanksgiving and for providing for our dinner tables every day of the year.

You can help show your appreciation to our Arkansas farmers and food service workers by looking for the “Arkansas Grown” label at your local supermarket.

Traditional Thanksgiving meal more expensive this year than last    11/22/21

A traditional Thanksgiving meal will cost Arkansans more this year as the prices for staple foods and specialty items are on the rise.

Shoppers can expect to pay over $50 for the holiday feast for a family of 10, according to a survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

Farm Bureau’s 36th annual survey indicates the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving feast is $53.31, up $6.41 (or 14%) from last year’s national average of $46.90.

Leading the cost at the cash register is the turkey, the centerpiece for many tables, at $23.99 for a 16-pound bird.

Farm Bureau shoppers checked prices between Oct. 26 and Nov. 8, which is before many grocery store chains began their turkey markdowns for Thanksgiving. Although the survey timeline is consistent with past Thanksgiving surveys, 2021 brought some unique differences. According to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service data, grocery stores began advertising lower feature prices later than usual this year. Also, the average per-pound feature price for whole frozen turkeys was $1.07 the week of Nov. 5-11 and 88 cents the week of Nov. 12-18, a decline of 18% in just one week. This means consumers who have not yet purchased a turkey should be able to find one at a lower cost than the Farm Bureau average.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    11/22/21

DE QUEEN – In local COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting a total of 44 active cases in Sevier County at this time – a decrease of 10 from last Monday. Total cases rose to 4,048 since the pandemic began. Recorded deaths from COVID-19 rose by two last week to 60, according to the department of health.

Little River County is reporting 17 active cases currently, a decline of 20 from last Monday. Total cases number 2,117. The department of health reported an additional death last week for a total of 80.

In Howard County, active cases currently total 30 – a decrease of 15 from last week. Cumulative cases number 2,512. Deaths remain at 38.

Finally, Polk County is reporting just five active cases at this time. No additional deaths were reported in Polk County last week, and that figure remains at 112.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 304 cases on Sunday for a total of just over 524,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw a slight decrease, falling to 6,327 across the state. Deaths increased by three in Arkansas yesterday for a total of 8,615 since the spring of 2020. Hospitalizations rose by eight to leave 314 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Click It or Ticket seat belt campaign kicks off today    11/22/21

Beginning today, Arkansas State Troopers, along with local police and sheriff’s deputies will be working together to enforce Arkansas seatbelt laws through the annual Click It or Ticket Campaign. The weeklong enforcement emphasis is designed to remind drivers and vehicle passengers that using their seatbelts will reduce the risk of injury or death on Arkansas roads.

The consequences of failing to abide by the law to buckle-up could cost motorists a fine if stopped by a law enforcement officer for the violation. More importantly, it could cost them serious injury or their life.

During the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, there were 279 passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes across the nation. More than half (54%) were unrestrained.

Nighttime proved even more deadly, with 52% of Thanksgiving weekend crashes occurring at night.

Officials with the Arkansas State Police say Click It or Ticket campaign is designed to save lives by ensuring all Arkansas drivers and passengers get the message to wear their seat belts. The campaign combines widespread messages about seat belt safety combined with an emphasis through increased patrols by law enforcement officers looking for unbuckled motorists.

Mineral Springs couple arrested in connection to death of three-year-old   11/19/21

MINERAL SPRINGS – A Mineral Springs man is in custody on a murder charge for his alleged involvement in the death of his three-year-old son this past weekend.

According to a press release issued by the Howard County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, Devalin Wiseman of Mineral Springs was arrested following an investigation into the death of the child on Sunday, Nov. 14. The investigation reportedly began after the child was taken to Howard Memorial Hospital with injuries. The boy was flown to Arkansas Children’s Hospital where we was later pronounced dead.

During the investigation officers said they learned the child died from what appeared to be ongoing abuse inside the home.

Wiseman was arrested and charged with first degree murder and is currently being held in the Howard County on a $1 million bond. A woman living in the home, identified as Chasity Holmes, was also arrested for the offense of permitting abuse of a minor. She was taken to jail but is currently out after posting a $50,000 bond.

Investigators say a formal charging decision will be made by the prosecuting attorney. The case remains under investigation.

Sevier County Chamber announces parade theme, “Christmas on the Tri-Lakes”   11/19/21

DE QUEEN – Officials with the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce have announced the theme for this year’s annual De Queen Christmas Parade.

Organizers say this year’s parade will be themed “Christmas on the Tri-Lakes.” The chamber is also reminding area residents that this year’s parade will return to the traditional format around the Sevier County Courthouse Square in downtown De Queen. Due to COVID-19 precautions, last year’s Christmas parade was held as a “reverse parade” in Herman Dierks Park with visitors driving through to see stationary holiday displays.

This year’s parade will however be back to its normal self. Santa will be appearing alongside the lighting of the Courthouse before the parade. In addition, a DJ will be performing Christmas music and numerous vendors are expected to set up around the square. Chamber officials say with everyone’s help this will be a Christmas parade to remember in our community.

This year’s parade is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 with activities to kick off at 4 p.m. Vendor setup will begin at 2 p.m. with the parade itself to start at 6 p.m. around the Sevier County Courthouse Square.

Area businesses, organizations, churches, youth clubs and other civil groups are invited to participate with either a vendor booth or a parade float. There is no cost for sponsoring chamber members or non-profits to set up a vendor booth. Non-chamber members are asked to pay $35 for a vendor space.

The deadline to reserve a vendor space or enter a float in the parade is Wednesday, Dec. 1.

For more information contact the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce by emailing dqchamber@gmail.com or by calling (870) 584-3225.

Ribbon cutting today to inaugurate DQHW COVID Treatment Center   11/19/21

DE QUEEN – A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for today, Nov. 19, to welcome the new COVID-19 Treatment Center as part of the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy.

The event will be held from 12-1 p.m. this afternoon at the pharmacy’s location on 1357 W. Collin Raye Drive.

The treatment center, which will be open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, will be a one-stop shop for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. The center will offer free antibody treatment for COVID, preventative treatments, vaccines and booster shots.

Today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony will include food and drinks as well as tours of the facility.

Rotary 5K is tomorrow in De Queen   11/19/21

The De Queen Rotary Club is inviting all area runners to participate in its annual 5K fundraiser scheduled for this weekend.

The 5K will be held on Saturday, Nov. 20 starting at 9 a.m. The course starts and ends at UA Cossatot De Queen’s campus.

Pre-registration has ended but area runners can still participate in late and race day registration for $30. Those registering race day will receive a shirt but it may arrive at a later date.

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

Applications can be picked up at KDQN Studios, AMP Fitness, Better Body and Revels and Company. Registration will be held before tomorrow’s event, starting at 8 a.m.

Sen. Boozman discusses inflation, $1.75 trillion spending bill   11/19/21

The holiday season is typically a time for Arkansans to focus on the simpler, more enjoyable aspects of life – friends, family and fellowship both spiritually and socially. But as Arkansans prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the thoughts of many are turning to the economy. The rising cost of everything from fuel to food is directly impacting the pocketbooks of nearly every Arkansan and risks disrupting this normally festive time of year.

Inflation, economists point out, is at a 30-year high. The cost of a Thanksgiving meal is nearly 20 percent higher this year than in 2020. Skyrocketing energy costs threaten to cut short holiday travel plans and will force many to make tough decisions just to warm their home this winter.

These are concerns Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) is hearing on a daily basis from people across the state. During a recent interview with us here at KDQN 92.1FM, Boozman said the rising inflationary surge – fueled by everything from COVID-19 to supply chain issues and worker shortages – has Arkansans perhaps more concerned than ever about the economy and their financial future.Boozman said White House policies have not addressed those issues, but rather compounded them to the nation’s harm. President Biden’s Green New deal, coupled with the Democrats’ massive proposed infrastructure spending bill, has contributed to increased energy prices and threatened to exacerbate the ongoing inflationary surge. It is a matter of historical fact that unleashing vast amounts of government spending within an economy tends to intensify inflation.

And while Democrats tout the spending bill’s environmental policies, Boozman said they threaten some of the nation’s hardest working and most vulnerable residents. As do the policies aimed at paying for the Democrats’ $1.75 trillion bill, such as the elimination of the stepped up basis. The end of this policy would mean higher taxation on property inherited upon the original owners’ death. For rural Arkansans, especially farmowners, this change could have a serious and detrimental consequence.

Our interview did end on a hopeful note, with Boozman stressing that America’s strength and resilience will ensure these challenging times are overcome. That, he said, is a reason to be thankful this holiday season.

For more information on the topics we discussed with Sen. Boozman as well as others, you can visit his Senate website at www.boozman.senate.gov.

Umpire High School recognized by Office of Education Policy for Aspire achievements   11/19/21

UMPIRE – More good news coming from the Cossatot River School District, which is being recognized as one of the leaders in student academic growth in Arkansas.

Umpire High School was recently recognized by the Office for Education Policy at the University of Arkansas as a school where students demonstrated high growth on the ACT Aspire. The ACT Aspire is used across the nation to assess both understanding of school curriculum and a students’ potential college readiness.

The Office for Education Policy creates an annual report titled Outstanding Educational Performance Awards in which schools are recognized for the academic achievements of their students. Growth in this field is the best indicator of the positive impact schools have on students, according to the organization.

In the High School Level reported published on Wednesday, Umpire High School received two of the highest awards through the organization. Those include ranking first in the Southwest Region for both Best Growth in English Language Arts (ELA) and for Best Growth Scores Overall.

District officials said they were beyond excited to see the high school receive both awards – a testament, officials said, to Umpire High School students and the teachers who instruct them.

Mena man sentenced to 10 years for fatal accident in Howard County   11/18/21

NASHVILLE – A Mena man was sentenced this week to 10 years prison for his involvement in a DWI-related accident that claimed the life of a woman in 2019.

According to records in the Howard County Circuit Court, 23-year-old Chance Manasco of Mena appeared before a jury on Tuesday to face felony counts of first degree battery and negligent homicide while operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred Feb. 2, 2019. According to the Arkansas State Police, Manasco was traveling on State Highway 84 that night with three passengers in his vehicle. Reports at the time indicated Manasco was traveling nearly 90 miles an hour when he lost control of the vehicle, causing it to run off the roadway and overturn numerous times.

One of the passengers, a young woman named Rachel Norman, was killed in the accident. A second passenger was severely injured.

On Tuesday, a Howard County jury heard both evidence against Manasco and his defense, finding him guilty on both charges. Manasco was sentenced to 10 years within the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Horatio High School among top in state for ACT Aspire growth   11/18/21

HORATIO – Good news coming out of Horatio High School, which is being recognized as one of the leaders in student academic growth in Arkansas.

The high school was recently recognized by the Office for Education Policy at the University of Arkansas as a school where students demonstrated high growth on the ACT Aspire. The ACT Aspire is used across the nation to assess both understanding of school curriculum and a students’ potential college readiness.

The Office for Education Policy creates an annual report titled Outstanding Educational Performance Awards in which schools are recognized for the academic achievements of their students. Growth in this field is the best indicator of the positive impact schools have on students, according to the organization.

In the High School Level report published on Wednesday, Horatio High School received two of the highest awards through the organization. Those include being ranked 10th overall statewide and first in Southwest Arkansas for Highest Overall ACT Aspire Growth. The high school was also ranked fifth overall statewide and first in Southwest Arkansas for the Highest Math Overall ACT Aspire Growth.

District officials said they were beyond excited to see the high school receive both awards.

De Queen Salvation Army to kick off 2021 Bell-Ringing Campaign next week   11/18/21

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

That’s right, the 2021 Bell-Ringing Campaign of the Salvation Army kickoffs Thanksgiving weekend in De Queen. Area resident should be ready to see the familiar red kettles and hear the ringing of the bells. The first volunteers will set up on Black Friday.

This has been a challenging year, but financial assistance is still being provided through the local Salvation Army unit. The Salvation Army distributes thousands of dollars to individuals and families each year to help with needs for food, gas, medications, utilities, rent, fire recovery and more. That makes the Salvation Army one of the major sources of aid in our community. And so much of that support is made possible through donations made during the Bell-Ringing Campaign.

Volunteers are needed to ring bells from Nov. 26 through Dec. 24. Groups, businesses, churches, clubs, friends, as well as individuals and/or families are all welcome to participate. Groups that include children are especially effective. Needed are both those who have rung before and those who will be ringing for the first time.

The sole location this year for bellringing is Walmart.

To schedule a time to volunteer, call the De Queen Salvation Army Store by calling (870) 642-3463.

Nearly every cent raised by the bellringing stays with the local unit and is used in De Queen and Sevier County to assist those in need.

Bellringers have remarked that volunteering is a guaranteed way to provide a sense of one’s life blessings; create a feeling of well-being in knowing the effort helps feed, house and warm local residents; gain a sense of humility by those who stop to donate; and the fun of seeing friends and acquaintances while ringing.

Call to experience this, and for those who can’t serve as a bellringer, remember to say thanks to those who do and make a donation in the kettle. It’s one of the things we all can do to make Sevier County a better place to live.

AHS students will serve as state SkillsUSA leaders   11/18/21

From left to right, Reagan Burden, Chloe Silva and Bannon Price were recently inducted as state leaders of SkillsUSA.

ASHDOWN – The 2021 AR SkillsUSA State Officer Pinning Ceremony was held on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 at the Associated Builders & Contractors of Arkansas Campus in North Little Rock.

Three Ashdown High School students, Chloe Silva, Reagan Burden, and Bannon Price, were selected to serve as student leaders in Arkansas in this capacity. Two of these students, Vice President Chloe Silva and Reporter Reagan Burden, served during the previous school year as well, as they faced and overcame many obstacles presented by the Global Covid Pandemic.

This year AHS officials say they are proud to have these three students serve. SkillsUSA offers many opportunities for leadership as students prepare for the workforce. The mission of SkillsUSA is to empower members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. These three AHS students are excellent examples of world-class workers in the workforce of tomorrow.

MAC to host “Rural Resource Roundtable” in De Queen this evening   11/18/21

DE QUEEN – A local Non-Profit will host a free resource event for the community in De Queen this evening.

The Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas, also known as MAC, will be hosting the “Rural Resource Roundtable” panel discussion and community information session tonight from 6-8 p.m. at Party Room Candela, located at 110 North Third Street in downtown De Queen.

Door prizes, including multiple $50 gift cards will be given out at the conclusion of the event and free drinks and snacks will be available.

The purpose of the panel discussion is to hear from experts on important categories for rural communities. Healthcare, Business Development, Diversity, Disability Inclusion, Local Government, and infrastructure will be featured subjects. Each panelist will be asked questions in their field of expertise and the information will be shared to the public who attend in person and on the Facebook Livestream.

Participating panelists include Lori House, CEO of the Sevier County Medical center, John Caver, Director of the Arkansas Small Business Development and Technology Center, Tony Soto of the National Guard and De Queen School Board, and Evelyn Beasley, an Education leader with De Queen Public Schools.

Lorena Esquivel, a local business owner and community figure of the Central Christian Church of De Queen will be hosting the event and Josiah Matthews will serve as Keynote-Speaker. The program will be guided in Prayer by Lewis Temple of De Queen and everyone is welcome to attend this evening of community education.

Social distancing and mask use is encouraged for in-person attendance and viewing on livestream will be available through the MAC Facebook page. (Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas)

For questions about the event or MAC in general, email DQunity@gmail.com

SWEPCO warns of scam targeting area customers   11/18/21

SWEPCO officials are informing customers of a new scam circulating the area attempting to fraud customers by falsely claiming they are overdue on payments.

With the holidays right around the corner, this is a particularly high-risk time for many customers – including senior citizens, low-income residents and understaffed small businesses – to be targeted by scammers. The energy provider is asking customers to be alert and know how to recognize scams so they can avoid falling victim to fraud and putting their financial safety at risk.

According to a press release scammers typically claim to be SWEPCO employees and approach customers at home, by phone or by email. Impostors often use the following techniques:

  1. Threaten to shut off power unless an immediate payment is made
  2. Tell customers they need a new electric meter but must make a payment before the new meter is installed
  3. Offer a discount on their SWEPCO bill if they sign up for auto-pay
  4. Demand that a deposit be paid immediately, insist a payment be made with a pre-paid credit card or ask to meet at another location to make a payment.

SWEPCO encourages its customers who experience any potential scam to check their account status online and furthermore that payments should be made online, through the mobile app, by mail, phone, or at an authorized payment location.

Officials added that customers who receive an unexpected knock on the door from someone claiming to be with SWEPCO or AEP should be cautious. SWEPCO employees will show their company ID and have a number available to call to verify the employee’s status. For a phone call, simply hanging up the call and calling the customer service number is an easy way to verify if the information you’ve been given holds any truth.

Rotary Club to host 5K in De Queen this Saturday   11/18/21

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

The 5K will be held on Saturday, Nov. 20 starting at 9 a.m. The course starts and ends at UA Cossatot De Queen’s campus.

Pre-registration has ended by area runners can still participate in late and race day registration for $30. Those registering race day will receive a shirt but it may arrive at a later date.

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

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

Checks can be made payable to Rotary.

Now is a great time to see fall foliage in Southwest Arkansas   11/18/21

The images all over social media seem to indicate one thing, that residents of Southwest Arkansas have been very impressed with this autumn’s foliage show.

What makes one season more colorful than another? Well, a lot depends on the weather.

Dry spells and sunny days with cool nights can cause fall colors to be brilliant. This is the weather pattern we experienced in late summer and early fall.

According to the Nov. 11 report from U.S. Drought Monitor, more than half of Arkansas had a drought rating of some sort. Three months ago, only about 19 percent of the state had drought. By Nov. 11, that area grew to more than 61 percent, including here in Southwest Arkansas.

The only time drought doesn’t help enhance fall foliage is when prolonged drought stresses trees too far and leaves fall prematurely.

The colors change when the green chlorophyll pigments that harvest sunlight for photosynthesis degrade as the days get shorter and temperatures drop. This allows the leaves’ other colors to show. These pigments include all those orange, red and yellow colors.

As the days get shorter and temperatures begin to drop, the chlorophyll in leaves begins to break down. When the chlorophyll is gone, other pigments present in the tree reflect different colors of light.

This might lead some to ask, can we enhance autumn color?

Well, fertilizing trees may assist in making them vibrant and potentially hold leaves longer, but, the major forces including weather patterns, tree species, and day length will always be the controls of fall color.

And it’s certainly not to late to get your fill of all this fall color. The autumn foliage change remains vibrant here in Southwest Arkansas, all you have to do is get out there and enjoy it. Besides the Talimena Scenic Byway and the mountains of NWAR – which have already seen the height of their color change – De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes, and Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma, are great local places to see the fall foliage.

And be sure to send us your fall foliage photos at numberonecountry@yahoo.com.

Arkansas deer hunters invited to to earn Triple Trophy honors   11/18/21

The opening day of modern gun deer hunting season may have passed, but there’s still plenty of time left to claim a spot in Arkansas’s deer hunting honor roll by completing the Triple Trophy Award.

Hunters who qualify for the Triple Trophy Award must, within a single annual deer season, take at least one deer by each of the three legal hunting methods: modern firearms, muzzleloader, and archery/crossbow tackle. Qualifying hunters receive certificates suitable for framing and a patch to place on their hunting vest or jacket.

The program began in 1984 as primitive weapons seasons began to find popularity. The goal was twofold — promote these new, expanded deer hunting opportunities available to Arkansas hunters, and begin to shift the AGFC’s management and public perception of harvesting female deer.

It may be hard to believe now, but at one point in the 1930s, only 500 deer were estimated to still exist in Arkansas. Unregulated market hunting and subsistence hunting nearly caused them to be completely wiped out. Old timers would tell stories of Sevier County during the Depression, when deer were basically nonexistent due to overhunting and the need to put something on the table during those very difficult times. Game refuges, both federal- and state-owned, where deer were relocated and protected, enabled deer to become reestablished. During this period, harvest of female deer was strictly prohibited to enable the deer herds to expand.

By the 1980s, however, deer populations had grown to healthy enough numbers to allow some harvest of does to begin the change in management from growth to maintenance. But breaking the taboo of harvesting does was a difficult process. In fact, it is still frowned upon by some hunters, despite the need for more doe harvest to keep the herd balanced and healthy.

If does are protected from harvest, the ratio of does to bucks can be too far out of balance. This can lead to many does being bred later in the season than usual as well as too many deer competing for limited resources, which impacts the health of bucks and does alike.

Do your part to help manage Arkansas’s deer herd, top off the deep freeze with delicious meat and earn a commendation from the AGFC for being one of Arkansas’s elite deer hunters this season. Add in the extra time you’ll get to spend in the outdoors enjoying what nature has to offer and there’s really no downside to earning this year’s Triple Trophy Award. Visit www.agfc.com/tripletrophy to learn more and apply.

Sixty years of Scissors, Succession and Service in Sevier County   11/16/21

Gehri Packnett, pictured at right with his stepson, Jeff, will mark 60 years as a De Queen-based barber in February.

DE QUEEN – After finishing High School, Gehri Packnett was looking for a job when he discovered an opportunity that ended up lasting him a lifetime.

In February of 1962, he walked into a Barber shop in De Queen, Arkansas and he hasn’t had any other job since being given a chance that day.

After completing barber college in Little Rock, Gehri began his career at the shop that was then called “George’s,” and after 10 years he bought the business and changed the storefront’s name to his own in 1972. The shop changed ownership again 36 years later in 2008 when Gehri’s stepson, Jeff purchased it and gave the store his name. Now, the duo work side by side together and provide services for a faithful base of clients who have counted on them since the days of their first childhood trims.

Cutting hair on the Downtown Square in De Queen was the first job Gehri ever got, the only job he has ever had, and the only job he says he ever wants. In February 2022, the Oklahoma native will celebrate 60 years of visiting with customers, sharing stories, preparing locals for special occasions and “making those guys look good.”

For six decades, Gehri has watched the community change and grow as businesses in the Southwest border town have come and gone over the years. Despite receiving offers in Texarkana, Arkadelphia, and Little Rock, Gehri has turned down every business proposition to come his way because he only wants to live and work in De Queen. “This is home,” he says. “I grew up 8 miles from De Queen on the state line near the Rock creek area of Oklahoma. I’ve given a lot of these guys their first haircuts and I still cut their hair to this day.”

Patrons of the shop can build a relationship with guys who know the town’s history and have run a family business in the same location for more than half a century. The Father and Stepson team are currently the shop’s only employees, but in the past, Gehri’s Wife Judy, sister Terri, and his son, Scott have helped out with maintaining the family-owned operation.

When asked the secret of his business and career longevity, Gehri says simply “Sticking with it” is the key. Continuing to “stick with it” is exactly what Gehri Packnett intends to do, as he says he has no plans for retirement, and he intends to cut hair in De Queen Arkansas until his last days.

Jeff’s Barber shop is located at 308 West De Queen Avenue in Downtown De Queen, Arkansas, and they are open Tuesday-Friday from 7:00am-5:00pm and Saturdays 7:00am-2:00pm.

Energy prices to go up this winter, assistance available   11/16/21

CenterPoint Energy is informing customers who may have trouble meeting the higher prices expected this winter should contact the company as soon as possible to explore payment plans and other assistance options.

The company announced earlier this month an expected 42 percent increase in natural gas prices. Similar rises are expected across the energy sector.

Customers can contact the company to set up monthly payment plans or seek payment assistance by calling 1-800-992-7552. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, also provides utility assistance to Arkansans. For residents of Southwest Arkansas, the administering agency is the Central Arkansas Development Council. Visit www.cadc.com for more information or call (501) 315-1121.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration issued a report last month stating U.S. residents are likely to see an average 30 percent increase in the cost of heating their home this winter. That’s an average of $736 per household, or $172 higher than last year.

State officials open up COVID booster shot recommendations to all Arkansans 18 and older   11/16/21

State officials are opening up the requirements for Arkansans to receive their COVID-19 booster shot.

Previously, booster shots were only recommended for older Arkansans and younger folks living or working in high-risk settings. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Monday the state is now recommending everyone 18 and older receive a booster shot if they have been previously vaccinated against COVID-19.

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Arkansans are eligible for the COVID-19 booster shot if they are 18 or older and received either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago. For those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that minimum is two months.

During the press conference, Dr. Jose Romero reiterated his appeal to Arkansas parents to vaccinate their eligible children. The FDA and CDC approved Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month for children aged five to 11.
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In state COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 151 cases across the state on Monday. Active cases fell by 351 to 4,785 currently. Deaths increased by 12 on Monday for a total of 8,579 since the pandemic began.

Click-It-Or-Ticket campaign launches again next week   11/16/21

Law enforcement officers across Arkansas have teamed-up for a mission with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Their objective is to make the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday a safe one on Arkansas roadways.

Beginning next Monday, Arkansas State Troopers, along with local police and sheriff’s deputies will be working together to enforce Arkansas seatbelt laws. The weeklong enforcement emphasis during the Thanksgiving holiday period is part of NHTSA’s high visibility Click It or Ticket seatbelt awareness campaign designed to remind drivers and vehicle passengers that using their seatbelts will reduce the risk of injury or death on Arkansas roads.

The consequences of failing to abide by the law to buckle-up could cost motorists a fine if stopped by a law enforcement officer for the violation. More importantly, it could cost them serious injury or their life.

During the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, there were 279 passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes across the nation. More than half (54%) were unrestrained.

Nighttime proved even more deadly, with 52% of Thanksgiving weekend crashes occurring at night.

Officials with the Arkansas State Police say Click It or Ticket campaign is designed to save lives by ensuring all Arkansas drivers and passengers get the message to wear their seat belts. The campaign combines widespread messages about seat belt safety combined with an emphasis through increased patrols by law enforcement officers looking for unbuckled motorists.

For more information about traveling safely this Thanksgiving, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.

January pre-trial hearing for area man charged with 8th DWI   11/15/21

ASHDOWN – A January pre-trail hearing has been set for an area man facing his eighth DWI charge following his arrest in Ashdown last month.

According to court records, 32-year-old Steven Lamar Collier of Texarkana, Arkansas was stopped by an Ashdown police officer on Oct. 12 for allegedly traveling 72 miles an hour in a posted 45 mph speed zone.

Upon making contact with Collier Investigator Zane Butler said he saw two bottles of liquor in the car, one empty and the other partially drank. The officer also reported the odor of alcohol in the car and that Collier had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.

Collier performed a field sobriety test, which he allegedly failed. He was then arrested and transported to the Little River County Jail.

A check of Collier’s criminal history shows he had been previously convicted of five DWI charges in the past 10 years and has a total of seven DWI convictions over the past 20 years. Those previous convictions have upgraded the latest DWI charge to a Class B Felony.

Collier, who is currently out of jail on bond, is set to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 25 of next year. Upon conviction the felony DWI offense could carry a sentence of five to 20 years in prison.

Single-vehicle accident claims life of Mena man   11/15/21

POLK COUNTY – A single-vehicle accident claimed the life of a Polk County man over the weekend.

According to the Arkansas State Police, 30-year-old Daniel Ray Roberts was traveling south on State Highway 88 in Polk County when his 2003 Chevy Trailblazer veered off the roadway and struck two trees with the front bumper of the vehicle. The vehicle came to a rest off the road.

The accident occurred around 7:30 on the night of Nov. 13.

Roberts was pronounced dead at the scene by Polk County Coroner Garrett Lundberg.

Road conditions were reported as clear and dry by the investigating state trooper.

City of Horatio to receive $118,000 sidewalk grant   11/15/21

HORATIO – Residents of the City of Horatio will see some improvements to sidewalks in the city, thanks to a recently-awarded grant from the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

The agency announced last week it was awarding more than $10 million in sidewalk and trail grants throughout the state. Of that, the City of Horatio is expected to receive $118,000.

The City of Nashville also received $120,000 for phase 5 of its sidewalk improvement project.

The grants were awarded through the state’s Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Programs. The TAP provides funding for programs and projects defined as “transportation alternatives” for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized forms of transportation. It was authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. It is a reimbursement-type grant program that provides for an 80 percent federal share and a 20 percent local match from eligible applicants.

Under the TAP program, eligible projects can include construction of on-road and off-road trail facilities that include sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian and bicycle signals, lighting and other safety-related infrastructure. Conversion of abandoned railroad corridors for pedestrian and bicycle trails is also eligible.

In accordance with Federal guidelines, the funding allocated for these programs cannot be utilized for highway construction.

“Brokenly Beautiful” founded to support Sevier County foster kids   11/15/21

Dawn Leeper & Connie Ward

Angie Walker

DE QUEEN – A new group has been formed locally to raise awareness about the need for more foster families in Sevier County. Brokenly Beautiful is looking for volunteers to help in a variety of ways from donating money to helping with necessities, providing a temporary home, “adopting” a child or children for Christmas and donating your time to help with some of the day-to-day paperwork required by the state.

The group will host an informational luncheon on Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 12-1 p.m. in the Skilled Trades building on UA Cossatot’s De Queen campus. Organizers are inviting everyone interested in becoming involved with the local foster system.

For more information or to volunteer your assistance, contact Connie Davis at (870) 279-1731 or Angie Walker at Walker Family Clinic at (870) 584-3000.

Healthcare Express to host outdoor showing of “The Grinch”   11/15/21

DE QUEEN – HealthCARE Express will present a free outdoor movie in December as part of the holiday season. Titled “Holiday Movie Night Under the Stars,” everyone is invited to grab their lawn chairs and blankets t for a viewing of “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas” at Herman Dierks Park on Friday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., after the lighting of the De Queen Christmas Tree.

When the Whos decide to make Christmas bigger and brighter, the disgruntled Grinch realizes there is one way to gain peace and quiet. With help from his dog Max, the green grump hatches a scheme to pose as Santa Claus, steal Christmas and silence the Whos’ holiday cheer once and for all.

This event is free to the public and movie goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets, flashlights, and snacks. Healthcare Express will also be serving free popcorn during the movie. For more information, call Ashley Dotson at (430) 242-0348.

Rep. DeAnn Vaught: November is National Adoption Month   11/15/21

By State Representative DeAnn Vaught

Right now, there are about 349 children and teens in Arkansas whose parents’ parental rights have been terminated and are currently seeking a forever family.

November is National Adoption Month. It is a time to encourage others to learn about adoption and recognize the many children who are still waiting.

Recently, the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) launched the Every Day Counts campaign as a reminder for people that every day these children and teens spend in foster care is a day too long.

The agency says the most significant needs right now are families for sibling groups and older teens.

Arkansas recently became one of the first states to implement the landmark federal Family First Prevention Services Act. More commonly known as Family First, it is the first major federal child welfare reform effort in decades and impacts every piece of the child welfare system. The law includes reforms to help keep children safe with their families and avoid the traumatic experience of entering foster care. At the same time, the law stresses the importance of children growing up in families and helps ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting to meet their needs when they do come into foster care.

Officials with the Department of Child and Family Services are encouraging all Arkansas families to explore how they may be able to help. If you are thinking about adoption, the agency is encouraging you to fill out an application, go through the process and take the training.

As part of the Every Day Counts campaign, Project Zero created a short film about every child currently waiting. Project Zero is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote adoption through the foster care system with the ultimate goal of finding a forever family for every child who is waiting.

You can find the short films and more information about each child on Project Zero’s Arkansas Heart Gallery. That is all available at www.theprojectzero.org.

TACF provides grants to numerous area groups   11/15/21

TEXARKANA – A number of local organizations are set to receive grants through the Texarkana Area Community Foundation following a ceremony held on Thursday. In all the organization awarded more then $85,000 to local, non profit organizations throughout the region.

Recipients include the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships and financial assistance to single parents attending college.

The Howard County Historical Society was provided a grant for a new computer and to help recondition a donated 1934 Dodge Firetruck for display in the Fire Station Museum.

Little River County Historical Society received a grant to perform a number of renovations to the building.

The Salvation Army De Queen Store also received a grant to buy a refrigerator and washing machine to help with those in need in Sevier County.

For more information visit the Texarkana Area Community Foundation online at www.arcf.org.

Sevier County Cattlemen’s to meet this evening   11/15/21

LOCKESBURG – The Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association will meet this evening starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Jackson Culp Fellowship Hall located at 318 East Walnut in Lockesburg. Current and prospective members are invited to attend.

Legacy Academy inducts Scholars      11/15/21

LOCKESBURG, ARK—Legacy Academy held a special ceremony on Tuesday, November 10, 2021 to induct new scholars. Legacy Scholars are Sophomore through Senior students who have been tasked as leaders and role models of the school’s student body. These scholars are charged by the school to live a life that is honoring to Christ and the school through Christian values. Each new scholar makes a pledge before their parents, the student body, and other special guests. Each student lights their own pillar candle, representing their commitment to serve others and to faithful shine a light to others through their faith. The ceremony is culminated when their parents step forward to place their navy blazer on them and to pray over them. Navy blazer, with the Legacy Academy patch and pen are given as a mark of their new status in the school and becomes a part of the student’s formal uniform. New scholars inducted are Eli Hamilton, Madison Lowrey, Joseph McCullough, DJ Morris, Jessica Noguiera, Brett Talley, Dan Williams, Corbin Wilson.

Other student groups: Apprentices (7-9th grades), Proteges (3-6 grades), Rookies (K-2nd grades) also attended and received charges from the school that were age appropriate. New Rookies received a certificate, while Proteges received a commemorative coin with the school logo, and Apprentices were given lapel pins to serve as reminders of their commitments.

“What traditions we create, what we celebrate, and honor is significant. Our scholar induction ceremony is designed to challenge the students to live with excellent character in a Christ-centric life. Giving our Scholars their navy blazer in recognition of their responsibilities at the school is always a wonderful moment for the school and having their parents there to pray with us for them really emphasizes what students need the most” said Chad Gallagher, school founder.

To be inducted as a scholar students must be good academic standing and meet character requirements that align with the school’s values and culture. Legacy Academy, in Lockesburg is celebrating its fifteenth year this school year.

MAC to host “Rural Resource Roundtable” Nov. 18   11/10/21

DE QUEEN – A local Non-Profit will host a free resource event for the community in De Queen this month.

The Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas, also known as MAC, will be hosting the “Rural Resource Roundtable” panel discussion and community information session on Thursday, Nov. 18 from 6-8 p.m. at Party Room Candela, located at 110 North Third Street in downtown De Queen.

Door prizes, including multiple $50 gift cards will be given out at the conclusion of the event and free drinks and snacks will be available.

The purpose of the panel discussion is to hear from experts on important categories for rural communities. Healthcare, Business Development, Diversity, Disability Inclusion, Local Government, and infrastructure will be featured subjects. Each panelist will be asked questions in their field of expertise and the information will be shared to the public who attend in person and on the Facebook Livestream.

Participating panelists include Lori House, CEO of the Sevier County Medical center, John Caver, Director of the Arkansas Small Business Development and Technology Center, Tony Soto of the National Guard and De Queen School Board, and Evelyn Beasley, an Education leader with De Queen Public Schools.

Lorena Esquivel, a local business owner and community figure of the Central Christian Church of De Queen will be hosting the event and Josiah Matthews will serve as Keynote-Speaker. The program will be guided in Prayer by Lewis Temple of De Queen and everyone is welcome to attend this evening of community education.

Social distancing and mask use is encouraged for in-person attendance and viewing on livestream will be available through the MAC Facebook page. (Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas)

For questions about the event or MAC in genera, email DQunity@gmail.com

Submit a deer sample and enter chance to win lifetime sportsman license in Arkansas    11/10/21

LITTLE ROCK – Getting your deer tested for chronic wasting disease is not only free through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, it might now even land you a free hunting and fishing for life. Thanks to a donation from the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, every Arkansas resident who has their harvested deer tested for CWD this year will be entered to win one of two gift certificates for a free Resident Sportsman’s Lifetime Combination License and Permit. Hunters who submit multiple deer for testing will have increased chances of being selected. AGFC employees and immediate families are ineligible to win.

Cory Gray, chief of the AGFC’s research division, said the giveaway is meant to show how much the agency appreciates Arkansas hunters who help in the work to manage this disease.

According to Gray, the drawing for the two gift certificates will be conducted after the 2021-22 deer hunting season has concluded. Winners will be selected from all hunters who submit a sample, regardless of the test results.

There are more than 100 locations for hunters to have their deer tested for CWD for free during the 2021-22 deer hunting season, and at least one testing location is available in every county in the state. A network of drop-off locations also are available where hunters can drop off the head of their deer with the antlers removed and have results back within two to three weeks. The AGFC collects these samples regularly and has them analyzed by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission laboratory.

Anyone who submits a positive sample will be notified via phone as soon as the results come back, so it is important to fill out all necessary paperwork at the drop-off location when you leave a sample.

The AGFC collected 7,824 CWD samples last year, and 95 percent of those samples were voluntarily submitted from hunter-harvested deer. Of those 261 were positive for CWD.

All CWD testing drop off locations will remain open until Feb. 28, the last day of the archery deer season.

While CWD has not been detected in our part of the state, wildlife officials nonetheless ask hunters to stay vigilant against the disease’s spread by assisting in the testing program. Scott County is the most southern county in Arkansas to have reported CWD.

A list of official testing locations is available at www.agfc.com/cwd as well as the latest regulations and news about the disease in Arkansas. A full list of drop off locations is available at www.agfc.com/cwd.

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

In Polk County, a sample can be dropped off at the USFS Mena/Oden Ranger District Office on 1603 Highway 71 North. The dropoff box is available 24 hours a day.

Sevier County Premium Sale checks available today   11/10/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Fair Association will hand out checks from this year’s Sevier County Premium Sale at 4 p.m. this afternoon at the Sevier County Fairgrounds. All thank you cards must be provided to get a check. If this time is not ideal, youth livestock exhibitors who participated in the premium sale are asked to call Linda Frachiseur at (870) 584-9592.

Restoration of SWAR’s Mercer Bayou is back on track   11/10/21

FOUKE – When Arkansas Game and Fish Commission staff close off the gates on both ends of Mercer Bayou by Dec. 31, anglers and boaters will see the long-awaited restoration of a popular southwest Arkansas fishery and waterfowl destination.

Despite higher-than-usual water levels in recent years in Sulphur River, of which Mercer Bayou is a side-channel backwater slough, the AGFC’s multiyear renovation project of restoring the fishery and improving boat access is nearing completion. Recent work included dredging the existing access boat canal to the main bayou.

Mercer Bayou is closed off on the northwestern and southeastern ends by water control structures that shut off river backflow and hold a permanent pool. The lake began draining in summer 2017 to allow work to eliminate silt and vegetation that had choked off a large portion of the lake. But two summers of work were lost to extensively wet conditions, leaving Mercer Bayou a bottomland swamp in midsummer. In the past two months however conditions became very dry, allowing work to continue at a quicker pace.

AGFC officials say work at Mercer Bayou has been a long time coming. Navigation was made increasingly difficult because of the filling in of silt and vegetation. People had access to a much smaller area of the lake than they should have. Now that those issues have been dealt with, anglers will have a larger lake to come back to than before.

Following this project, populations of bass, crappie, catfish and bream can return to levels that are expected by local anglers. Stumps have been removed from narrow main channel areas on the south end of the bayou and stands of aquatic vegetation were treated with the appropriate herbicides.

Plans for 2022 include fish stocking that falls in line with other AGFC lake renovation projects: Mercer Bayou will be stocked with forage species such as bluegill, redear sunfish, fathead minnows and threadfin shad. The AGFC has also put in a request for stocking of fingerling channel catfish next year, as well as fingerling white crappie next fall.

Even with the delays from heavy rainfall during the last few years, the AGFC says the recent favorable conditions and fast work has brought things almost up to speed.

The original plan called for closing the gates by Nov. 1 of year 4 (2021). Work is expected to finish around two months later.

The boat access and improved canal, with paved parking lot, is off Miller County Road 151 on the west side and the northern end of Mercer Bayou, near Sulphur River Wildlife Management Area. Another often used access ramp is on the southern portion of the bayou at the end of County Road 109.

The estimated cost of the project was $234,500.

Arkansas AG says rental scams are on the rise   11/10/21

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has issued a press release this warning Arkansans to be aware of the growing popularity of rental scams across the state. As the rental market demand continues to increase these scams are growing in popularity as a way for ill intent individuals to collect money and personal information from consumers. Often, these scammers utilize existing online real estate listings and repost photos on sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace with a rent price that seems appealing. Rutledge says most communication between the scammer and would-be renter takes place via text or email and that the consumers are asked to complete rental applications which ask for personal information. Upon a quick “approval” a security deposit is requested generally to be paid via a money transfer app before the renter has even seen the property.

In order to ensure a safe experience when looking for a rental property Rutledge recommends the following:

  • Do an online search of the rental company advertised to identify if it is legitimate
  • Cross search the listing on other real estate websites. Often times properties are listed across multiple service sites in order to reach more folks.
  • Realize that if it seems too good to be true in terms of rental price….It probably is.

Never pay with cash, via a money transfer app before validating the listing and seeing it for yourself.

If you think you have been a victim of a rental scam you are asked to call 800-482-8982.

Numerous events planned for Veterans Day in listening area    11/10/21

DE QUEEN – Tomorrow is Veterans Day and a number of programs and commemorations are scheduled in the listening area.

Area veterans are reminded they can receive a thank you lunch from students at De Queen Public Schools tomorrow. The event is scheduled for Nov. 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All area military veterans, both active and retired, are invited to attend this come and go lunch at absolutely no cost in appreciation of their service to the country. Local seniors are invited to receive a lunch at this event as well.

Delivery will be available for those unable to leave their homes. School representatives will be at the front of De Queen Elementary School from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday handing out to-go lunches.

Everyone interested in receiving a lunch at this event is asked to call (870) 584-4312 to reserve a meal.

UA Cossatot will host its annual Veterans Day breakfast on Thursday, Nov. 11at the UA Cossatot De Queen Campus in the Skilled Trades Building. The event will take place from 8:30-10 a.m. Along with food, the event will include a presentation, guest speaker, and door prizes to celebrate and honor local veterans in Southwest Arkansas. All veterans and their families are invited to attend. For more information on this year’s Veterans Day breakfast, contact call 870-584-1179.

Cossatot River School District is also hosting a Veterans Day celebration with a program to begin at 3 p.m. in the Vandervoort Elementary Cafeteria. The event will include refreshments and door prizes. All area veterans, both active and retired, are invited to attend.

Finally, Little River County will host a Veterans Day program beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 12 on the lawn for the Little River Courthouse. Everyone is invited to attend the celebration, which will include a presentation of colors as well as a recital of the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance. Little River County Judge Mike Cranford will provide an introduction before a Veterans Day Message from Gina Chandler, assistant director of the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs. The event will close with a retiring of the colors and a playing of Taps. Everyone is invited to attend.

Looking at our state this Veterans Day, Arkansas is home to more than 200,000 veterans. They live and work in every community throughout our state.

As we approach Veterans Day, we should all take a moment to thank our veterans for their sacrifice, their bravery, and the example they set for us all.

The majority of Arkansas veterans served in Vietnam. We are home to more than 2,000 veterans who served in World War II. Arkansas is also home to those who served in the Korean War, the Gulf War, post 9-11, and in peacetime.

Sevier County DHS seeking help in bringing Christmas to local foster kids    11/10/21

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

The agency is seeking the community’s help in ensuring all foster children in Sevier County receive a gift this Christmas.

Organizers are asking anyone interested to contact them starting the week of Nov. 15 to request a child or children to sponsor this Christmas. The Department of Human Services will provide volunteers with information specific to each child. Gift cards are also welcome. Gifts should be dropped off at the office by Dec. 15.

Organizers are asking sponsors to stay in the $150 range for this gift program. Sponsors can be matched with a partner to lessen the burden on individuals.

For more information, contact the Sevier County Children and Family Services staff at 279-1731.

Applications now available for Shop With a Cop, Shop with a Biker and Toys for Tots    11/10/21

DE QUEEN – Applications are now available for local families needing assistance with Christmas through several locally-based charitable programs.

Organizers announced applications for this year’s Shop with a Cop, Toys for Tots and Shop with a Biker programs can be picked up at De Queen City Hall and the Sevier County Extension Office. Applications will need to be turned in by Nov. 30 at either location.

Organizers of all three programs say they introduced a standardized form to ensure they are able to help as many Sevier County kids as possible.

In addition, donations are still being accepted for this year’s Shop with a Cop Program hosted by the De Queen Police Department.

Sevier County’s Shop with a Cop program started around 15 years ago. In that time the event has raised tens of thousands of dollars and, with that, brought Christmas to around a thousand local children. Last year’s program alone provided gifts to around 80 Sevier County children. The program unites children with De Queen police officers, Sevier County sheriff’s deputies, Arkansas state troopers and Arkansas wildlife officers for a Christmas shopping experience. Organizers say many children who participate in the program would otherwise likely not have gifts under the tree on Christmas Day.

The program is funded each year entirely through private and corporate donations. That includes a yearly grant from the De Queen Walmart store as well as a host of donations from individual citizens. Often, that includes hundreds of dollars in donations from area residents from shoppers on the day the event is held. ‘

If you or your business would like to donate to this year’s Shop with a Cop Program, contact Beth Hughes at the De Queen Police Department by calling (870) 642-2210. Organizers say all donations are greatly appreciated and 100 percent of funds raised will go to helping local children have a Merry Christmas.

Sevier County Health Unit hosting another day of extended hours for pediatric COVID-19 vaccines    11/10/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Health Unit will provide Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine during another day of extended hours today. The clinic is open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. today to provide vaccines for all Arkansans aged five and up. There is no charge for this vaccine and no appointment is necessary. The Sevier County Health Unit is located at 304 N. Fourth Street in De Queen. The health unit can be reached by calling (870) 642-2535.

The CDC announced last week its approval of Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccination – the first vaccine available for children in the five to 11 group.

Besides during these extended hours, Arkansas officials say the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine will be available at every county health unit on a regular basis or at most providers who offer childhood immunizations.

CenterPoint says natural gas prices to go up 42 percent this winter    11/08/21

By Patrick Massey, News Director

Utility companies say natural gas customers are expected to see a significant increase in prices this winter.

CenterPoint Energy announced last week the average residential customer’s bill is likely to increase by 42 percent, from $92 a month to $131. The cost increase is being attributed to an overall increase in energy prices.

In a press release, the company said this increase assumes that a customer will use the same total of natural gas this year as last year. Company officials stated “the actual bill impact will vary by customer depending on the size and age of the home, number of gas appliances, number of people in the household, thermostat settings, levels of insulation and other factors.”

At this time the company has not shared expected cost increases for businesses.

CenterPoint Energy is informing customers who may have trouble meeting the higher prices that they should contact the company as soon as possible to explore payment plans and other assistance options. Customers can contact the company to set up monthly payment plans or seek payment assistance by calling 1-800-992-7552. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, also provides utility assistance to Arkansans. For residents of Southwest Arkansas, the administering agency is the Central Arkansas Development Council. Visit www.cadc.com for more information or call (501) 315-1121.

Citing a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported U.S. households are likely to see an average 30 percent increase in the cost of heating their home this winter. That’s an average of $736 per household, or $172 higher than last year.

State police releases information on fatal crash in southern Polk County    11/08/21

COVE – The Arkansas State Police released information last week on a fatal accident that occurred in southern Polk County in late October.

According to the state police, 49-year-old Leatha Robey of Cove was eastbound on Polk County Road 16 approaching U.S. Highway 71 around 10:15 on Oct. 28. An investigation determined Robey’s 1997 Dodge truck failed to yield at the intersection, crossing into the path of an oncoming Freightliner semi-truck. The truck struck Robey’s vehicle, causing it to leave the highway and come to a final rest in the northbound ditch.

Robey was killed in the accident and a second individual was injured and transported to the Mena hospital.

Road and weather conditions at the time of the accident were reported by the investigating state trooper as wet and rainy.

DHS student organizations rack up impressive wins this school year    11/08/21

DE QUEEN – Several De Queen High School Student organizations and programs started off the school year by receiving state-wide recognition and bringing several honors back home. The De Queen FFA Show Team competed in three different fair competitions and brought home ten Grand Champion awards and several other honors. The De Queen Leopard Marching Band and the DHS Choir received several awards in their regional competitions. DQTV students won several awards at the Ozark Media Arts Festival including being named “Video Program of the Year”.
The De Queen FFA Show Team racked up an impressive list of accomplishments thanks to a team made up of some of the brightest and most promising students to ever walk the halls of De Queen Public Schools.  The members include: Monic Rivas, Kix Lee, Ben Moniewski, Jackson Walker, Tristan Whisenhunt, Kane Faulkenberry, Jacob Hibbs, Kyla Ferguson, Katelyn Green, Jacob Seymour, Gwen Bradshaw, Allyson Harder, Jocelin Sanchez, Julio Cuevas, Berniece Martinez, Katy Cooley, Olivia Cooley, Kinnah Ferguson, Kyle Williamson, and Katie Williamson.

The De Queen Leopard Marching Band is under the direction of new DHS Band Director Daniel Dunn and is off to an impressive start to the 2021-2022 school year. The Leopard Marching Band competed in several marching contests during the months of September and October and compiled a very impressive list of achievements.

At the Sept. 25 Marching Contest at Pleasant Grove, the Leopard Marching Band received superior ratings in Colorguard, excellent ratings in Band and Percussion, and placed fifth in Class B among schools from Texas and Arkansas. The band also received excellent ratings in color guard, percussion and band at the Arkansas Razorback Marching Contest on Oct. 9. After racking up a few more superior and excellent ratings in October, the band attended the Arkansas State Marching Assessment on Nov. 2, where they finished in the top ten of class 5A.

And finally, let’s take a look at the De Queen Show Choir. After going through a school year full of cancellations and a lack of performances due to COVID-19, the De Queen High School Choir and Show Choir was looking forward to once again competing in regional competitions and performing for the public. Mrs. Stephanie Jones said the auditions for All-Region were a step towards normalcy and she was proud to see several of her junior high and high school students selected to the All-Region Choir for Region 3.

The DHS Show Choir will be traveling to participate in America Sings! in Washington D.C. in May of2022. They were selected to participate in the Spirit of America Honor Choir and were also given the honor of being the only school to do a tribute performance at Arlington National Cemetery. They have been invited to sing at the lighting of the De Queen Christmas tree on December 3, will participate in the De Queen Christmas parade on December 4, will have their Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 5 at 2 pm, and will be performing at Lion’s Club on Tuesday, December 14.

Sen. Boozman speaks on vaccine mandate, spending bill and veterans services    11/08/21

By Patrick Massey, News Director

Lately, news from the nation’s capital has been – to put it in the kindest words possible – baffling and overwhelming. From vaccine mandates to the Democrats’ ever-changing social spending bill, it’s been difficult to keep up with the latest developments from both the White House and Congress.

Fortunately, we here at Your Number One Country recently had a chance to speak with U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.) to help make sense of the policies and proposals arising on the federal level. The discussion ranged across a number of issues, including his opposition to a private-sector vaccine mandate and legislation he’s introduced in support of military servicewomen.

Boozman is one of a number of GOP senators joining an effort to block a proposed White House vaccine mandate. This mandate would force employers of at least 100 people to require COVID-19 vaccinations for their entire workforce.

Besides expressing doubt over the President’s authority to implement such a mandate, Boozman said his concern centers on how it will impact the ongoing labor shortage. Many U.S. workers have said they would rather leave their job than be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. That, said Boozman, would only compound the shortage of workers across the country.

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Boozman also took a moment to share his concern over the substance of the Democrats’ $1.75 trillion social spending bill. He said the bill does little to address the needs of working families and fixed-income individuals. It also poses the threat, he explained, of contributing to inflation and rising energy prices.

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Finally, Boozman discussed the SERVICE Act, a bill he authored and is championing alongside Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to improve mammogram services for female military personnel. One of the driving forces behind this legislation, explained Boozman, is medical studies showing a higher risk of breast cancer among women who served in the Middle East.

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Boozman added the SERVICE Act is part of an ongoing effort to improve overall VA health benefits for servicewomen. This has become an increasingly evident concern given the growing number of women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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You can find out more about the SERVICE Act and other issues of national interest at www.boozeman.senate.gov. We’ll be speaking again with Sen. Boozman later this month for another look at the developments and policies taking place in the nation’s capital.

Sevier County youth place well at Arkansas State Fair Junior Livestock Show    11/08/21

LITTLE ROCK – Sevier County kids had a great showing at last month’s Arkansas State Fair,  bring home a number of wins and titles during the state livestock show.

Local youth who ranked high during the 2021 Arkansas State Fair Junior Livestock Show included Shooter Johnson of De Queen, who showed the Reserve Champion Brahman Influenced Steer.

Gabbi Litchford of Horatio showed the Reserve Champion in the Champion Chianina influenced steer division.

Ben Moniewski showed the Reserve Champion Shorthorn Influenced Steer whil Kix Lee of Gillham showed the Reserve Champion Crossbred Steer. Lee also placed third over all the in the overall champion steer competition.

De Queen Rotary to host 5K fundraiser Nov. 20    11/08/21

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

The 5K will be held on Saturday, Nov. 20 starting at 9 a.m. The course starts and ends at UA Cossatot De Queen’s campus.

Pre-registration has ended by area runners can still participate in late and race day registration for $30. Those registering race day will receive a shirt but it may arrive at a later date.

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

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

Checks can be made payable to Rotary.

Street Dance this weekend to support local American Legion post    11/08/21

DE QUEEN – HealthCARE Express will host the De Queen Street Dance this weekend for a night of live music, food, assisting veterans and more.

The locally-based healthcare provider announced the event is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13 from 5-10 p.m. that evening.

In addition to live music, dancing, arts, crafts, shopping, food, and fun, owners Hector and Christy Gallego said the primary purpose for hosting this Street Dance is to collect nonperishable food items that will be donated to the American Legion and help bring awareness to their mission to aid veterans in the De Queen Community.

All area businesses and community organizations are invited to join organizers at this family friendly event. Those who would like to be a vendor at the De Queen Street Dance can request a form by calling Ashley Dotson at (430) 242-0348.

Each vendor will receive a 10’ x 10’ booth space. Specific site locations will be first come, first served. Setup will be from 2-4 p.m. on Nov. 13 on W. De Queen Ave. Hector Gallego said HealthCARE Express is veteran owned, veteran ran, and takes a great deal of pride in supporting Veterans services like the American Legion.

Rep. Vaught shares update on Arkansas Veterans in anticipation of Veterans Day Nov. 11    11/08/21

Arkansas is home to more than 200,000 veterans. They live and work in every community throughout our state.

As we approach Veterans Day, the State of Arkansas is thanking our veterans for their sacrifice, their bravery, and the example they set for us all.

The majority of Arkansas veterans served in Vietnam. We are home to more than 2,000 veterans who served in World War II. Arkansas is also home to those who served in the Korean War, the Gulf War, post 9-11, and in peacetime.

Vaught said the Arkansas House is proud to have 12 veterans currently serving as a state representative.

Veterans contribute $4.5 to $5 billion to the Arkansas economy. If veterans were an industry, they’d be the 4th largest in Arkansas.

Every session, the General Assembly reviews legislation drafted to make life better for veterans and their families. In the most recent legislative session, Arkansas lawmakers passed several pieces of legislation to address challenges facing veterans.

  • That includes Act 640. This act requires the Arkansas Department of Health to ensure that the Suicide Prevention Hotline employs individuals who have experience working with veterans or are veterans.
  • Legislators also passed Act 58, which creates a veterans treatment specialty court program.
  • Act 988 expands tuition waivers for a dependent of a disabled veteran, a prisoner of war, or a person declared to be missing in action or killed in action. Previously the waivers were only applied to state-supported institutions of higher education. This act allows the use of those waivers to be used in private colleges and universities.
  • Act 888 waives the licensing fee for a license to carry a concealed handgun if the applicant is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces or is currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.
  • Act 135 establishes the Arkansas Occupational Licensing of Uniformed Service Members, Veterans, and Spouses Act of 2021. It expanded previously existing automatic occupational licensure requirements for uniformed services members, returning uniformed services veterans, and their spouses to include army reserve, national guard, and coast guard members who move to Arkansas with existing licensure from another state.

Vaught said she and other Arkansas lawmakers will continue to study ways to make the state a welcoming place for our veterans and their families.

May all of us honor the service of our veterans this Veterans Day and every day of the year.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    11/08/21

DE QUEEN – Here’s a look at the local COVID-19 environment with the latest updated figures from the Arkansas Department of Health.

In Sevier County, the Department of Health is reporting 69 active cases – a decrease of 13 from last Monday. Total cases rose to 3,983 while deaths increased by one last week to 53 since the pandemic began.

Little River County is reporting 51 active cases currently, a net decrease of two from the beginning of last week. Total cases number 2,091. Deaths increased by four last week for a current total of 74.

In Howard County, active cases currently total 39 – an increase of 10 from last week. Cumulative cases number 2,469. Deaths increased by two to 38.

Finally, Polk County is reporting just 12 active cases at this time. Total cases number 2,995 since the start of the pandemic. Polk County has the highest COVID-related death toll in the region, with a total of 112 residents having been killed by the virus according to the department of health. That’s an increase of two from last Monday.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 266 cases on Sunday for a total of just over 516,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw a decline, falling by 52 to 4,580 currently. Deaths increased by 14 in Arkansas yesterday for a total of 8,497 since the spring of 2020. Hospitalizations increased by 10 to leave 290 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Sevier County Health Unit to host pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinic this Saturday    11/04/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Health Unit will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic with a focus on children aged five to 11-years-old.

The CDC announced on Wednesday its approval of Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccination – the first vaccine available for children in the five to 11 group.

That vaccine, along with the vaccinations for everyone aged 12 and up, will be provided at no cost during the health unit’s vaccination clinic on Saturday, Nov. 6. The clinic will begin at eight that morning and continue through 12 noon. The Sevier County Health Unit is located at 304 N. Fourth Street in De Queen. The health unit can be reached by calling (870) 642-2535.

The U.S. entered a new stage of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Wednesday with shots now available to millions of elementary-age children. Health officials are hailing the development as a major breakthrough after an increase in recent months of hospitalizations and deaths among children due to COVID-19. Many educators in Arkansas and across the nation have awaited the FDA and CDC’s approval due to the disruption to learning caused by COVID-19.

Besides this weekend’s vaccine clinic in De Queen, Arkansas officials say the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine will be available at every county health unit on a regular basis. In addition, the vaccine is being distributed to providers registered through the Vaccine for Children program. These are providers who regularly provide other vaccinations such as MMR and other childhood immunizations.

Sevier County FRIENDS group announces $1 million grant award    11/04/21

Members of the Sevier County FRIENDS group and other locally-based organizations pose for a picture following an announcement on Wednesday that Sevier County would receive a $1 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The money will be used to help small businesses recover and grow following the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

One million dollars in grant funds will soon arrive in Sevier County thanks to a collaboration among several locally-based organizations.

Dr. Steve Cole of the Sevier County FRIENDS group – which focuses on local economic development – shared the announcement on Wednesday. The million dollar grant will be split into two tranches, with the first $500,000 to arrive in Sevier County before the end of the year.

Cole said the grant was provided through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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In addition to the chamber of commerce, partnering agencies, or spokes, include the City of De Queen, the Central Arkansas Development Council, the Sevier County Extension Agency and the FRIENDS group itself.

The grant will be administered by a team based at UA Cossatot, including two administrators whose salaries will be covered through the two-year grant.

Cole said the focus of the grant is on assisting small businesses in Sevier County, specifically following the economic consequences suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Exact details on how each spoke project will be delivered are not finalized, said Cole. However, he explained grant funds will be used for quality training, education, counseling and access to resources to assist small business recovery and growth. Cole said more information will be shared in the near future on how Sevier County small businesses can take advantage of these projects and benefit through the grant.

Public meeting for Millwood Lake plan revisions is tonight    11/04/21

ASHDOWN – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host a public in-person workshop this evening to explain the draft map and environmental assessment for the new Millwood Lake Master Plan and Shoreline Management Plan.  The workshop is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonightat the Central Baptist Church on 271 W. Commerce Street in Ashdown.

Those interested are encouraged to stop by during the scheduled times to visit with representatives from the USACE. Representatives will be available to answer questions and maps will be shown to provide an overview of the revisions. Corp officials say this is the final public outreach before the revisions are complete. Millwood Lake’s current master plan was developed over 40 years ago and is outdated, according to officials.

Some of the recommendations featured in this plan revision include constructing additional boat lanes through Millwood Lake and the adjoining Little River – a concern raised by many boaters who use the lake. Corps officials also pointed out maintenance issues with Oakee Levee. The plan states the “costs of slide repairs and water pump station operation may be an issue in the future due to funding and budget cuts.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Millwood Lake Project Office is seeking public input on the draft Millwood Lake Master Plan, Shoreline Management Plan and related Environmental Assessments.

The public comment period for the draft plans is open now through Dec. 6. Comments can be mailed, emailed or faxed.

Comments must be received by Dec. 6. For an online fillable comment card and to learn more about the Millwood Lake Master Plan and Shoreline Management Plan revisions visit our https://go.usa.gov/x7WQv.

Sevier County Election Commission to meet tomorrow; quorum court next week    11/04/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Election Commission is scheduled to meet this Friday, Nov. 5 starting at 10 a.m. The meeting will include proposed redistricting information as well as other election-related items. This meeting will be held in the conference room of the Sevier County Courthouse.

Another meeting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. Election commissioners will finalize Sevier County’s redistricting proposal for approval.

Both meetings are open to the public.

The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet Monday, Nov. 8 starting at 2 p.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse. The meeting will begin with an update from Lori House, CEO of the Sevier County Medical Center.

Under new business, justices of the peace will vote on appointing Beth Deen to the Sevier County Library Board. Other items include a proposed tax levy ordinance for 2021 taxes to be collected in 2022.

The agenda also includes a discussion on the local ambulance service.

Justices of the peace are expected to then discuss an amendment establishing levels and amount of merit pay for law enforcement officers in Sevier County. Finally, the quorum court will also vote on a proposed ordinance establishing a one-time bonus for Sevier County employees.

Sevier County Library’s Food for Fines, sweater drive now underway    11/04/21

DE QUEEN – November is here and that means a couple of things: Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the Sevier County Library System’s annual Food for Fines program is now underway.

Through this yearly initiative, patrons are invited to bring in any nonperishable food item for a one dollar reduction per item in existing overdue fines. Food accepted for fines are for returned library materials only, not for replacement fees of lost or damaged items. The program is part of the library system’s annual effort to address food insecurity in Sevier County, according to Head Librarian Johnye Fisher.

In addition to the Food for Fines program, the library is also once again sponsoring the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive. The library is accepting new or gently worn items for donation, including cold weather clothes like coats, sweaters, gloves, hats, scarves and more.

State officials lay out plan for pediatric COVID vaccines in Arkansas    11/03/21

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

State officials are laying down the process for Arkansas children to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations once the federal approval process is finalized.

During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11-years-old could come as early as this week. He added that Arkansas parents will have several options available to schedule a vaccine for their children immediately after approval is finalized. Those options include through any Arkansas county health unit or a registered Vaccine for Children (VFC) provider.

“Arkansas is well prepared to get out the vaccines and make them available for the new age group,” he said. “As soon as [final approval] happens, you can call your local health unit.. Then there’s the Vaccines for Children providers, which is where you normally get your flu vaccine for children or smallpox vaccination.”

The state expects to receive over 100,000 pediatric doses through an initial distribution. However, health officials are asking parents to call ahead and schedule a vaccine for their child to ensure one is available.

Hutchinson said state health officials are noting an increase in COVID-19 transmissions among five to 11-year-old children. For that reason, he and other state officials are strongly recommending all eligible children receive the vaccine. However, Hutchinson stressed the state has no vaccine mandate in place and no intentions to establish one.

“There is no mandate in Arkansas for vaccination of children or anyone in terms of COVID-19, in state government, in state policy,” said Hutchinson. “Obviously the private sector has the rules they want to set in their workplace, but our schools do not have a mandate, our state government does not have a mandate, there’s no intention to impose those mandates.”

Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero spoke briefly to explain that clinical trials showed Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is both safe and effective.

“The vaccine for this age group has been shown to be safe and efficacious,” Dr. Romero said. “This is going to be followed well into the future so if we see signals that are of concern they will be examined and closely evaluated.”

Regarding the state’s COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 641 cases of COVID-19 across the state on Tuesday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to nearly 514,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. Active cases saw a slight increase, rising by 70 to 4,490 currently. Deaths rose by 28 over the same period to 8,412 since the spring of 2020. Hospitalizations fell by six to leave 325 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Sevier County Chamber of Commerce announces Christmas Parade is back on for 2021    11/03/21

DE QUEEN – The holiday season is upon us and that means the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas Parade in De Queen is almost here.

This year’s parade is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 with activities to kick off at 4 p.m. Vendor setup will begin at 2 p.m. with the parade itself to start at 6 p.m. around the Sevier County Courthouse Square.

Area businesses, organizations, churches, youth clubs and other civil groups are invited to participate with either a vendor booth or a parade float. There is no cost for sponsoring chamber members or non-profits to set up a vendor booth. Non-chamber members are asked to pay $35 for a vendor space.

The deadline to reserve a vendor space or enter a float in the parade is Wednesday, Dec. 1.

For more information contact the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce by emailing dqchamber@gmail.com or by calling (870) 584-3225.

CRSD, Cossatot Senior Citizens Center closed today due to power outages    11/03/21

WICKES – Cossatot River School District has canceled classes for Wednesday due to power outages within the district. Classes are expected to resume on Thursday unless otherwise noted. The Cossatot River Senior Citizens Center is also closed today due to ongoing power outages. We’ve received reports of several power outages affecting residents in of northern Sevier County and throughout Polk County.

Benefit this weekend for Dylan Vanhoose    11/03/21

DE QUEEN – A benefit dinner and silent auction will be held this Saturday, Nov. 6 to support Dylan Vanhoose, who was severely injured in a motor vehicle accident in September.

The event will begin at 4 p.m. at the Herman Dierks Park Community Building. Chicken dinner plates are available for $6 each. There will also be a silent auction which will include cakes, pies and other donated items. All funds raised will be used to help offset the family’s medical expenses.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Wendy Vanhoose at (870) 784-0029 or Deborah House at (870) 232-1762. All donations are welcomed and greatly appreciated.

DQPD once again hosting Shop with a Cop program    11/03/21

DE QUEEN – Donations are now being accepted for this year’s Shop with a Cop Program hosted by the De Queen Police Department.

The local Shop with a Cop program has been providing Christmas for local children in need for many years. The program unites children with De Queen police officers, Sevier County sheriff’s deputies, Arkansas state troopers and Arkansas wildlife officers for a Christmas shopping experience. Organizers say many children who participate in the program would otherwise likely not have gifts under the tree on Christmas Day.

Sevier County’s Shop with a Cop program started around 15 years ago. In that time the event has raised tens of thousands of dollars and, with that, brought Christmas to around a thousand local children. Last year’s program alone provided gifts to around 80 Sevier County children.

Children are selected for the program each year by the local Department of Human Services and school districts in the county. Organizers say they do their best to nominate the kids who need it the most.

The program is funded each year entirely through private and corporate donations. That includes a yearly grant from the De Queen Walmart store as well as a host of donations from individual citizens. Often, that includes hundreds of dollars in donations from area residents from shoppers on the day the event is held. ‘

If you or your business would like to donate to this year’s Shop with a Cop Program, contact Beth Hughes at the De Queen Police Department by calling (870) 642-2210. Organizers say all donations are greatly appreciated and 100 percent of funds raised will go to helping local children have a Merry Christmas.

Sevier County extension office warns of johnsongrass threat following frost    11/02/21

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Extension Agent Rex Herring is reaching out to local cattle producers to remind them about the threat caused by johnsongrass following a frost.

Scattered frosts are expected across the state over the next few weeks and will increase the toxicity risk when grazing pastures containing johnsongrass. When johnsongrass becomes stressed, it can produce a type of acid (hydrocyanic acid) which is very toxic to livestock. This toxicity can kill cattle quickly, often before a producer has a chance to observe that the animal is under stress. The forages that are prone to this type of acid are johnsongrass, sorhgum/sudan, greengraze, grain sorghum, and forage sorghum.

Freeze damage from fall frosts can cause these forages to become toxic. These forages should not be grazed following a hard frost until the plants become completely dried out and paper brown colored. Do not graze at night when frost is likely. To reduce risk even farther, don’t turn hungry cattle directly out on johnsongrass pasture. Make sure they have grazed other forages first or fill them up on hay.

The acid dissipates as the plants dry out. Properly dried johnsongrass hay does not contain acid and is safe to feed. Silage may contain toxic quantities of acid, but it usually escapes in gaseous form while being moved and fed. If frosted forage is in silage, allow fermentation to take place for at least six weeks before feeding.

For more information contact your local county extension office. In Sevier County, that number is (870) 584-3013.

KCS cancels crossing repair on De Queen Lake Road    11/02/21

DE QUEEN – Sevier County officials are informing us the work on the KCS Railroad Track on De Queen Lake Road previously scheduled to occur on Wednesday, November 3 has been cancelled and will be re-scheduled at a later time.

DQTV introduces new feature, “A Day in the Life of a Leopard”    11/02/21

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools are releasing a new DQTV spotlight feature focusing on members of its Leopard Family.

The new “A Day in the Life of a Leopard” segment will follow school teachers and staff as they carry out their daily routines and share their thoughts on being a part of the Leopard Family. This month’s “A Day in the Life of a Leopard” follows a lady who school officials say is a great example of Leopard Pride and who has been contributing to the Leopard Family for nearly half a century – Mrs. Juanita Williams. DQTV organizers say she was chosen for the new spotlight for her dedication and commitment to De Queen Public Schools.

Be sure and catch the October edition of Leopard Vision for more updates and profiles on the De Queen FFA program, the Leopard Marching Band, the De Queen Show Choir and much more.

Sevier County Chamber of Commerce to present annual “Tour De Queen” this Saturday    11/02/21

DE QUEEN – Registration remains open for the 10th annual Tour De Queen bike ride hosted by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.

The event is scheduled for this weekend, Saturday Nov. 6 and will begin at the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce office in downtown De Queen. Pre-registration is $40 and $45 on the day of the ride.

The yearly bicycle event draws in dozens of riders both locally and from across the state for a number of challenging but scenic rides through Sevier County. With six routes of different lengths, including a new 38-mile gravel and paved combination, riders of all levels will enjoy a scenic trek through the countryside or by De Queen Lake. Routes include a 15-mile, 25-mile, 36-mile, 38-mile, 47-mile ride and a new 100-mile option.

This year there will be a new finish-line celebration, sponsored by Healthcare Express and post-meal for participants.

Chamber officials invite riders to bring the whole family and enjoy the vendor and craft booths – and the youngest riders can bring their tricycles and ride in the Pop-cycle Trike Ride around the courthouse square. This event will start at 11:00 a.m.

For more information, contact the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce at dqchamber@gmail.com or call (870) 584-3225.

Register online with BikeReg for this year’s Tour De Queen Bike Ride at www.bikereg.com/tourdequeen

Harvest returning to Lockesburg with mobile food bank    11/02/21

LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank is returning to Sevier County next week with its USDA Commodity Mobile Pantry.

Staff and volunteers with Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute food directly from the Harvest truck on Wednesday, Nov. 10 from 9-11 a.m. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia in Lockesburg. Vehicles are asked to start lining up on W. Magnolia and the church parking lot.

With CDC precautions and recommendations against the Coronavirus still in place, Harvest officials say they are taking every measure to ensure the safety of Harvest staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as “drive-thru” distributions, with food boxes being loaded directly into vehicles.

Recipients are asked not to exit their vehicle or park to pick up food. Recipients must bring photo identification or proof of address for verifying they are a resident of Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one box per household and two households per vehicle.

Next Mobile Pantry will be Feb.16, 2022.

17-year-old De Queen resident airlifted after accidental shooting    11/01/21

DE QUEEN – A De Queen teenager is undergoing medical treatment after what authorities say was a gunshot wound over the weekend.

According to the De Queen Police Department, officers were dispatched to 105 Robinson Loop around 9 p.m. on Oct. 29 in reference to an accidental shooting. When officers arrived, they found a 17-year-old male who had suffered an accidental gunshot wound.

The victim was airlifted to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for treatment of his injuries.

The incident is currently under investigation by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office.

Arvest Bank likely to change hands by next spring    11/01/21

DE QUEEN – Arvest Bank will sell a number of its branches across the state, including several in the listening area, in a deal expected to close next spring.

The Fayetteville-based financial institution reported in October it will sell a total of 16 branches in Arkansas. Those include branches in De Queen, Dierks, Ashdown, Nashville, Broken Bow and Glenwood. All of those locations, as well as Arvest branches in Mount Ida and Paris, are set to be purchased by Farmers Bank and Trust.

Magnolia’s Farmer Bank & Trust is set to takeover Arvest branches in Broken Bow and Idabel.

The sales are expected to close before March 31 of next year.

Active cases see rise in Sevier, Little River; decline in Howard, Polk Counties    11/01/21

DE QUEEN – Active cases of COVID-19 saw an increase in Sevier and Little River Counties over the past week, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

In Sevier County, the Department of Health is reporting 86 active cases – a increase of 16 from last Monday. Total cases rose to 3,923 while deaths increased by two to 52 since the pandemic began.

Little River County is reporting 53 active cases currently, an increase of 22 from the beginning of last week. Total cases number 2,059. Deaths increased by one to 74.

In Howard County, active cases currently total 29 – a decrease of 12 from last week. Cumulative cases number 2,435. Deaths increased by one to 36.

Finally, Polk County is reporting just nine active cases at this time. Total cases number 2,985 since the start of the pandemic. Polk County has the highest COVID-related death toll in the region, with a total of 110 residents having been killed by the virus according to the department of health.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 221 cases on Sunday for a total of just over 513,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw a decline, falling by 109 to 4,817 currently. Deaths increased by six in Arkansas yesterday for a total of 8,376 since the spring of 2020. Hospitalizations fell by 12 to leave 329 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Central VFD to host fundraiser this weekend    11/01/21

HORATIO – Central Fire Department will host a chili supper fundraiser this Saturday, Nov. 6. The event will kick off at 5 p.m. and continue until sold out. Chili supper with all the fixings will be available by donation.

Visitors are welcomed to dine in or take out. The event will be held at the Central Community Building. For more information call Ricky Hendrix at (870) 584-8051.

Rep. Vaught Column: November is National Diabetes Month    11/01/21

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 363,781 people in Arkansas, or 14.8% of the adult population, have diabetes.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and the number one cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult blindness. In the last 20 years, the number of adults nationwide diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled.

November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes and its devastating consequences.

People with diabetes have medical expenses approximately 2.3 times higher than those who do not have diabetes. Diabetes and prediabetes cost an estimated $3.1 billion in Arkansas each year.

In the most recent legislative session, we passed Act 643, which mandates that the Arkansas Medicaid Program cover a continuous glucose monitor for an individual if the individual has either a presence of Type 1 diabetes or any other sort of diabetes with the use of insulin more than two times daily.

About 90-95% of people with diabetes have Type 2. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active.

In an effort to help Arkansans with those lifestyle changes, the General Assembly passed Act 506 in 2019. This act established a farm-to-school and early childhood education program. It also created the position of farm to school coordinator within the Arkansas Agriculture Department. This position is used to help connect more farmers to nearby schools.

Evidence shows that students who participate in farm-to-school activities are more likely to be familiar with, have a preference for, and consume more fruits and vegetables at both school and home.

Parents have the power to make healthy changes that give kids the best chance toprevent type 2 diabetes. And when the whole family makes changes together, it’s easier to create healthy habits that stick. We’ve posted recommendations from health experts on our website www.arkansashouse.org.

Texarkana man charged with eighth DWI in Ashdown    10/28/21

ASHDOWN – An area man is facing his eighth DWI charge following his arrest in Ashdown earlier this month.

According to court records, 32-year-old Steven Lamar Collier of Texarkana, Arkansas was stopped by an Ashdown police officer on Oct. 12 for allegedly traveling 72 miles an hour in a posted 45 mph speed zone.

Upon making contact with Collier Investigator Zane Butler said he saw two bottles of liquor in the car, one empty and the other partially drank. The officer also reported the odor of alcohol in the car and that Collier had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.

Collier performed a field sobriety test, which he allegedly failed. He was then arrested and transported to the Little River County Jail.

A check of Collier’s criminal history shows he had been previously convicted of five DWI charges in the past 10 years and has a total of seven DWI convictions over the past 20 years. Those previous convictions have upgraded the latest DWI charge to a Class B Felony.

Upon conviction the felony DWI offense could carry a sentence of five to 20 years in prison.

DQPD gearing up for 2021 Shop with a Cop Program    10/28/21

DE QUEEN – Donations are now being accepted for this year’s Shop with a Cop Program hosted by the De Queen Police Department.

The local Shop with a Cop program has been providing Christmas for local children in need for many years. The program unites children with De Queen police officers, Sevier County sheriff’s deputies, Arkansas state troopers and Arkansas wildlife officers for a Christmas shopping experience. Organizers say many children who participate in the program would otherwise likely not have gifts under the tree on Christmas Day.

Sevier County’s Shop with a Cop program started around 15 years ago. In that time the event has raised tens of thousands of dollars and, with that, brought Christmas to around a thousand local children. Last year’s program alone provided gifts to around 80 Sevier County children.

Children are selected for the program each year by the local Department of Human Services and school districts in the county. Organizers say they do their best to nominate the kids who need it the most.

The program is funded each year entirely through private and corporate donations. That includes a yearly grant from the De Queen Walmart store as well as a host of donations from individual citizens. Often, that includes hundreds of dollars in donations from area residents from shoppers on the day the event is held. ‘

If you or your business would like to donate to this year’s Shop with a Cop Program, contact Beth Hughes at the De Queen Police Department by calling (870) 642-2210. Organizers say all donations are greatly appreciated and 100 percent of funds raised will go to helping local children have a Merry Christmas.

DQPD gearing up for 2021 Shop with a Cop Program    10/28/21

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

No Shave November is nearly upon us and aims once again to help raise awareness of prostate cancer in Arkansas.

Through the annual “No Shave November” campaign, the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation (APCF) challenges men across the state to ditch the shaving cream and razor for a month to help raise awareness about prostate cancer. One in every nine men in Arkansas will face a diagnosis of prostate cancer in their lives, but the disease is nearly 100% survivable if detected early. That’s why the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation is asking the men of Arkansas to go 30 days without shaving for a good cause.

No Shave November is a fun way to raise awareness for a very serious threat to men’s health in our state. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men – and among men, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. Chris Collier, executive director of the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation, says prostate cancer will touch the lives of many Arkansas men over their lifetime – either themselves or a friend or loved one. Collier says that’s part of why it’s so critical to raise awareness of prostate cancer and provide free services to those diagnosed with it.

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Men of all ages across Arkansas are encouraged to take part in No Shave November either individually or as part of a competition in their workplaces, churches, teams or other social groups. They can then make a donation to APCF as a group or find creative ways to encourage others to donate on behalf of them and their beard.

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All money raised remains in Arkansas to support the foundation’s free awareness and educational programs, free prostate cancer screenings and free patient assistance programs. The Foundation also provides support to survivors and men undergoing treatment through a network of peer group meetings and patient navigation programs.

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To learn more, visit: arprostatecancer.org/no-shave-november/

Trophy alligator gar tags available beginning Nov. 1    10/28/21

The application period to catch and keep a trophy-size Arkansas alligator gar opens Nov. 1 and closes Dec. 31. Only 200 tags will be awarded for the 2022 calendar year. This tag is required to harvest an alligator gar larger than 36 inches.

While not truly a dinosaur, the alligator gar was alive during the Cretaceous Period , and individual gar take decades to reach 6 feet long. They are the second largest species of freshwater fish in North America, only topped by the white sturgeon. They frequently grow longer than 7 feet and weigh more than 200 pounds. The largest fish ever caught in Arkansas was an alligator gar in the Red River that weighed 241 pounds, over 100 pounds more than the next largest Arkansas catch, a 118-pound paddlefish.

But keeping one of these trophies requires anglers to have one of 200 alligator gar tags issued this year. AGFC Assistant Chief of Fisheries Eric Brinkman said the tags were increased this year from 100 to 200 to help more anglers pursue the species and gather data on alligator gar locations throughout the state.

Eric Brinkman, AGFC Assistant Chief of Fisheries, said alligator gar can take years to reach the 36-inch mark, In addition, females aren’t able to reproduce until they are 14 years old. With many of their traditional spawning areas lost to channelization and damming of rivers, alligator gar may only have the right conditions to spawn once every few years. Protecting these mature fish, stress AGFC officials like Brinkman, is critical to their survival as a species.

Anyone may fish for alligator gar on a catch-and-release basis, but anglers interested in keeping a trophy gar in 2022 must enter a free online drawing Nov. 1-Dec. 31. Applications are available under the “Fishing License” section of the AGFC’s online license system at https://ar-web.s3licensing.com. Applicants will be notified of the results by email. They will then need to return to the licensing site to claim their tag. Each tag allows the holder to harvest one alligator gar longer than 36 inches from snout to tail during the open fishing season (closed May 1-July 15).

Listening area in for some wet weather today    10/27/21

DE QUEEN – The listening area is in for some wet weather today with the National Weather Service calling for a solid 100 percent chance of rain today.

Showers and thunderstorms are predicted mainly Wednesday morning though changes range from 30 to 60 percent through Thursday. Some of today’s storms could produce heavy rainfall, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service.

A Hazardous Weather Outlook has been issued for the listening area, including Southwest Arkansas, Southeast Oklahoma and Northeast Texas. Strong to severe thunderstorms are possible areawide today as a strong cold front moves east across the region. The threat of severe weather is mostly isolated however to zones of east Texas, mostly along and south of the I-20 corridor. That line of storms has a chance for damaging wind and a tornado or two.

For the most part, however, can expect just rain and potentially lots of it. And some colder weather with lows dipping back into the 40s following this storm front.

Southwest Arkansas Halloween Tales: The Boggy Creek Monster    10/27/21

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By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

With Halloween just several days away, we thought there was no better time to take a look at some of the haunted and just plain creepy parts of our corner of the state. Earlier this week we looked at Sevier County’s very own haunted locale, Avon Cemetery, and the ghastly tale of the Gurdon Light.

Today, we’re going to look a little further south, at the swamps of Southern Arkansas where for decades something, so it’s been said, has been lurking, hiding and only occasionally making its presence known.

The swamps of Southern Arkansas are a notoriously wild and almost impenetrable expanse. It’s a land seemingly almost forgotten to time itself. And there, around the town of Fouke and the surrounding wilderness, something mysterious and terrifying is said to live.

I speak, of course, of the Fouke Monster. The story of the Fouke monster spans five decades with initial sightings in the early 1970s. The creature is most commonly associated with the bigfoot or Sasquatch of American folklore. A hairy, bipedal seven-foot tall ape-like creature said to have, oddly, three-toes, the Fouke monster has had many run-ins with residents of southern Miller County – if you believe the stories.

The monster came to some fame after it reportedly attacked a man and in his family at their home. Sightings increased from there, with the creature blamed for multiple deaths of large animals in the area. One farmer claimed to see the Fouke Monster run off with a pair of 200 lbs hogs tucked under its arms.

Soon after, a series of cheesy docudrama films were made and helped carry the legend of the Fouke Monster to audiences across the nation. I’ve seen the first two movies and they’re full of… um, heart. Nonetheless, the Legend of the Boggy Creek monster was the 10th highest grossing film of 1972. Americans, after all, do love a good Bigfoot tale.

Although most encounters with the Fouke Monster have been peaceful, those who claim to have seen it don’t recommend visiting the surrounding woods alone. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped the creature from becoming Fouke’s most famous residents. An annual festival is held to celebrate the creature and its legacy in southern Arkansas. The Fouke Monster Mart is a great place to see some history on the monster and maybe even talk to a local or two who claim to have seen it.

And in case you’re wondering, sightings of the Fouke Monster and related kin have been reported aren’t just centered in Miller County. Obviously, the creature doesn’t care much for county lines. Sightings have been reported right here in Sevier County, mostly in the bottoms of Pond Creek. A few folks around the Little River and Rolling Fork rivers have helped make the legend more local with their own sightings of the monster. That includes one recent story regaled to me. A few hunters checking their deer feeder near the Rolling Fork River at the beginning of last year’s archery season found the feeder smashed to bits and dragged hundreds of feet from its location. They’re adamant it wasn’t hogs but something much bigger, much scarier and, likely, much hairier. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

But one thing’s certain – talk to someone who’s claimed to have seen the monster and you’ll feel a chill down your spine. And you might just be left wondering if there’s a lot more mystery in them woods than what we know – or even want to believe.

Numerous local Halloween events set for this weekend    10/27/21

DE QUEEN – A number of other Halloween activities are being hosted throughout the listening area.

Organizers of De Queen’s third annual Trunk or Treat Halloween event are still accepting donations from area residents for this year’s event. Anyone interested in donating candy for this hugely popular event is asked to drop it off at a number of local businesses, here at KDQN Studios.

Traditionally held on Halloween, this year’s De Queen Trunk or Treat event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 30 at the De Queen Sportsplex. The two-hour event runs from 4-6 that evening. Those looking to host a car or game for this year’s event are encouraged to do so by signing up on the Google Docs sheet available by visiting the De Queen Trunk or Treat event page on Facebook.

The Little River County Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Trunk or Treat drive-thru Halloween event on Saturday, Oct. 30. The event is scheduled for 3-5 p.m. at Pocket Park. If you, your business, civic group or church would like to participate, call (870) 898-2758 or email director@littlerivercoc.org.

Broken Bow First Assembly of God will host a Trunk or Treat event on Sunday, Oct. 31 starting at five that evening. The event will be held at the church and is designed for children aged from birth to fifth grade.

A Trick or Treat event will be held at the Ida Margaret Coulter Stone Park in Lockesburg on Friday, Oct. 29 starting at 7:30 p.m. The event is being held in honor of Susie Thompson, a long time resident of Lockesburg and a tireless support and volunteer of her community. The remembrance Halloween activity will include candy for the kids and hot dogs. Everyone is invited to attend and bring a flashlight.

And then get ready for final weekend of thrills, scares and screams with the “Screams of the Night” Haunted House in Horatio. The haunted house opens again Halloween weekend with performances both Friday and Saturday nights. The event, which is billed as the biggest haunted house in the Ark-La-Tex area, is open even night from 7 p.m. to midnight. The haunted house is located at the intersection of Highway 24 and Highway 41 near Horatio.

“Screams of the Night” is hosted annually by the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department. This is the fire department’s eighth year to put on the production. In previous years the event featured concessions, an indoor waiting area in case of rain, hayrides, outdoor fire pits to keep visitors warm and waiting areas for family members too scared to enter. The haunted house includes around 40 rooms with character actors inside sure to give visitors the fright of a lifetime. Cost is $10 at the gate.

Proceeds benefit the volunteer fire department and its mission in the community. That includes purchasing new equipment and providing needed supplies for residents who lost their home due to a fire.

For more information visit the Horatio Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Public workshop scheduled for Millwood Lake management plant revision    10/27/21

ASHDOWN – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Millwood Lake Project Office is seeking public input on the draft Millwood Lake Master Plan, Shoreline Management Plan and related Environmental Assessments.

The public comment period for the draft plans is open now through Dec. 6. Comments can be mailed, emailed or faxed.

Comments must be received by Dec. 6. For an online fillable comment card and to learn more about the Millwood Lake Master Plan and Shoreline Management Plan revisions visit our https://go.usa.gov/x7WQv.

USACE will also host a public in-person workshop to explain the draft map and environmental assessment.  The workshop is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 4 at the Central Baptist Church on 271 W. Commerce Street in Ashdown.

Those interested are encouraged to stop by during the scheduled times to visit with representatives from the USACE. Representatives will be available to answer questions and maps will be shown to provide an overview of the revisions. Corp officials say this is the final public outreach before the revisions are complete. Millwood Lake’s current master plan was developed over 40 years ago and is outdated, according to officials.

Some of the recommendations featured in this plan revision include constructing additional boat lanes through Millwood Lake and the adjoining Little River – a concern raised by many boaters who use the lake. Corps officials also pointed out maintenance issues with Oakee Levee. The plan states the “costs of slide repairs and water pump station operation may be an issue in the future due to funding and budget cuts.”

Arkansas now offering online scheduler for driving exams    10/27/21

LITTLE ROCK – An online scheduling tool will soon be available to anyone preparing to be tested for the written knowledge portion of the Arkansas driver’s license exam.  Beginning Nov. 1 the online scheduler can be accessed statewide.

The scheduling tool for written examinations has been in an initial testing phase and was limited for use at northwest and central Arkansas driver testing sites.  The skills portion of the test has been available as part of the scheduling tool for more than a year.

Test applicants, along with parents or guardians of teenagers preparing to take the test, can learn more about the process of using the scheduling tool at ar.gov/dlprep

The scheduling tool is expected to eventually eliminate the long lines of test applicants and the complications parents frequently experience when the test sites are open to one and all, but, operating with limited examiner personnel or insufficient time to accommodate everyone on a particular day.  The online scheduling tool will send a text or email message to a parent or guardian should an unexpected change occur during the daily testing schedules.

Additionally, the online scheduling tool is being made available to commercial driver license applicants ready to take either the written or skills tests.

Test applicants who do not have a pre-arranged appointment will be accommodated by examiners at state police testing sites as the schedule and personnel availability may permit.

Anyone planning to take either the written or skills portion of the Arkansas driver’s test, including parents or guardians of teenagers studying for the test, are strongly encouraged to be familiar with updated information about the requirements and testing process.  The latest driving test information can always be found at https://www.dps.arkansas.gov/law-enforcement/arkansas-state-police/services-programs/driver-examination/

Umpire Fall Festival is this Friday night    10/27/21

UMPIRE – Umpire High School will host its annual Fall Festival on Friday, Oct. 29. The yearly festival is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. at the Umpire High School Gym.

Activities include a cake walk, fishing for pumpkins and fall photo opportunities with props.

Umpire High School seniors are seeking donations for the cake walk scheduled at Friday’s Fall Festival. The group is accepting any homemade or store-bought baked goods for the cake walk. If you have anything you would like to donate, you may drop it off at Mrs. Shankles classroom between Oct. 28-29. For questions or more information call (870) 583-2141 ext. 7401 or email jshankles@cossatot.us.

All proceeds from the event go towards the senior class trip.

Job fair in De Queen seeks to connect local senior citizens with job opportunities    10/26/21

DE QUEEN – One of the largely untold stories of our modern economy is the difficulty senior citizens face integrating into an increasingly technological workforce.

It’s a story not about inability – many senior citizens are just as tech savvy as their younger counterparts. Often the challenges they face are more of a lack of confidence in retooling to enter a more technological workforce.  Other times its age-based discrimination that shutters senior citizens outside of good-paying jobs.

One program is coming to De Queen this week to address those issues and highlight the important role senior citizens continue to possess in our modern workforce. The Senior Community Service Employment Program will host a workforce training and job fair in De Queen on Thursday, Oct. 28.

Travistine Johnson is one of the organizers hosting the event. She said the publicly-funded program seeks to match senior citizens with new careers.

“It’s for seniors that are looking for work. You have to be 55 plus, looking to become employable, and we will actually put you in a host agency for 20 hours a week for $11 an hour,” Johnson said. “You can train in different agencies for up to four years.”

Johnson stresses people 55 and older can remain vital members of the modern workforce through training, job-matching and resume building lessons offered through the Senior Community Service Employment Program.

The event will be held Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the De Queen Senior Citizens Center on 605 East Haes Street. There is no cost to attend.

KCS railroad repairs on De Queen Lake Road postponed to Nov. 3    10/26/21

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Officials are informing us a section of De Queen Lake Road will be closed next Wednesday, Nov. 3 to allow KCS to complete repairs to a railroad crossing.

The repair, originally scheduled for this past Saturday, was postponed until Nov. 3. The closure is expected to last from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The section of De Queen Lake Road to be closed includes the railroad crossing just west of Highway 71.

Drivers are advised to travel a different route if this section of road is within their usual commute.

Local volunteers gearing up for this year’s Operation Christmas Child    10/26/21

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Collection Week will soon be fully underway to bring Christmas to less-fortunate children across the world.

Local volunteers will be transforming empty shoeboxes into gifts of hope filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and articles of clothing for children in need worldwide. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and bring joy to children in struggling communities across the world. It all starts with the help of a shoebox filled with gifts.

This year’s collection week is scheduled for Nov. 15-22.

As in previous years, local organizers will host a drop-off and volunteer site at the Horatio First Baptist Church, located at 211 Hazard Street in Horatio. Organizers will setup a no-contact, touch-less drop-off system to ensure the safety of community members and volunteers.

In Little River County, a drop-off location has been set up at the First Baptist Church of Ashdown. Other drop-off sites are located in Nashville and Hope.

Anyone interested in participating is asked to fill out a standard-sized shoebox with gifts for a girl or boy in certain age categories. Operation Christmas Child provides a full step-by-step guide on what and how to pack. That guide can be found online at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ. That website also includes more detailed dates and times for when and where shoeboxes can be dropped off.
De Queen Public Schools to host luncheon for seniors, veterans    10/26/21

DE QUEEN – Area senior citizens and members of the military are invited to attend an annual appreciation luncheon at De Queen Public Schools.

The event is scheduled for Nov. 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All area seniors and military veterans, both active and retired, are invited to attend this come and go lunch at absolutely no cost in appreciation of their service to the country.

Delivery will also be available for those unable to leave their homes. School representatives will be at the front of De Queen Elementary School on Nov. 11 handing out to-go lunches.

Everyone interested in receiving a lunch at this event is asked to call (870) 584-4312 to reserve a meal.

City of Lockesburg to proceed with water tower repair grant    10/26/21

LOCKESBURG – The City of Lockesburg will proceed with a grant application for repairs to the municipal water tower following a public meeting earlier this month.

City officials said attendees of the public meeting on Oct. 12 raised a number of proposed projects. Those projects included water drainage and storm drains around town, lights for the walking trail, lights for the ballfield and completing the remodeling of the Lockesburg Volunteer Fire Department.

After a discussion the city officials and the city council agreed repairs to the water tower were the most important project on the list. The meeting was a requirement before the city could apply for a state community development grant. The city will now seek that grant to cover the cost of the water tower repairs.

Sevier County Libraries will host Food for Fines, Mister Rogers’ Sweater Drive in November    10/26/21

DE QUEEN – November is nearly here and that means a couple of things: Thanksgiving is just around the corner and so is the Sevier County Library System’s annual Food for Fines program.

Through this yearly initiative, patrons are invited to bring in any nonperishable food item for a one dollar reduction per item in existing overdue fines. Food accepted for fines are for returned library materials only, not for replacement fees of lost or damaged items. The program is part of the library system’s annual effort to address food insecurity in Sevier County, according to Head Librarian Johnye Fisher.

In addition to the Food for Fines program, the library is also once again sponsoring the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive. The library is accepting new or gently worn items for donation, including cold weather clothes like coats, sweaters, gloves, hats, scarves and more.

In other library updates, the De Queen Library is hosting two story times in November – Wednesday, Nov. 3 and again on Wednesday, Nov. 17, starting at 4 p.m. both days. All area youth are invited to come by and enjoy these free story time events.

Sevier County librarians are saying thanks to Tri-County Regional Library System for allowing local patrons the opportunity to read E-books, via the Libbyapp by Overdrive. You can follow the instructions to download the libbyapp from the library’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/seviercountylibrary or simply go to the play store on your device. You must search “Arkansas Digital Library Consortium” and hold a valid library card to browse our selection.

For more information, call the De Queen Library at (870) 584-4364

Sevier County’s Avon Cemetery one of most haunted places in Arkansas    10/25/21

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The full audio story is available here:

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Halloween is upon us and that means it’s time for some scares, thrills and screams.

A popular activity this time of year is, of course, the telling of ghost stories and other thrilling tales. We all know the tales of the Salem Witch Trials, the vanishing hitchhiker, the Flying Dutchman and the haunted graveyards of New Orleans.

But you don’t have to look far for a good haunted tale. One of the most haunted places in Arkansas can be found right here in Sevier County. It’s true that our area consistently ranks in the top 10 of most haunted locales in the Natural State. I’m talking, of course, about Avon Cemetery.

Located just north of De Queen on the west side of Highway 71, Avon Cemetery is pretty well known thanks to its high haunted rankings. OnlyInYourState.com, which highlights tourism opportunities within each state, lists Avon Cemetery as the fifth most haunted place in Arkansas.

Most local folks know the story. But it deserves a retelling since it’s, well, Halloween.

Avon Cemetery, located just a few miles north of De Queen, is frequently listed as one of the top haunted stops in all of Arkansas. Various stories surround the legend of a mother and her baby.

So, as the legend goes, many, many years ago (no one’s exactly sure) a young mother sat her baby on the edge of an old well on the cemetery grounds. She began drawing water from the well when the baby fell backwards and into the well. The baby could not be rescued and drowned. The mother grieved herself to death. Another tale has it that the mother killed the young child and threw it in the well.

Either way, local legend has it that if you drop a rock into the well, you can hear the baby crying. There’s a chance, too, you’ll see an apparition of the mother frantically running through the cemetery.

If you’re hoping to visit Avon Cemetery and try out the local legend for yourself, well, you might be out of luck. The well was long ago filled in and then covered up. But that hasn’t stopped some visitors from reporting some rather creepy encounters when visiting Avon Cemetery. Footsteps without any identifiable source, an odor of rotting meat, mysterious lights, unexplained sounds in the surrounding woods.

A team of paranormal investigators visited the cemetery in 2010 and claimed to capture the sound of a baby laughing. A part of that clip is featured in the full audio story above.

My wife and I, along with a couple of friends, visited Avon Cemetery one Halloween night several years ago. Personally, I’m not really into the whole ghost or haunted thing. But my skepticism did little to calm an uneasy feeling I had while touring the cemetery. Like other reports from visitors, we noticed the smell of rotting meat in the air – perhaps, my friend suggested, the smell of death? We also noticed piles of animal bones scattered on the road and in parts of the cemetery, just like those noted by the investigators in the audio clip we played a moment ago. It’s a coincidence, I’m sure. But, a coincidence I’d rather not be proven wrong about.

Another well known area haunting is the Gurdon Light. This mysterious light can be seen – so say locals – near a set of discontinued railroad track in a wooded area near Gurdon. The lights and a chance to see them are among the most popular Halloween attractions in the state.

According to folklore, the light originates from the lantern of a railroad worker who was killed when he fell into the path of a train. The legend states that the man’s head was separated from his body and was never found, and that the light that people see comes from his lantern as he searches for it. In another variation, the light is a lantern carried by railway foreman Will McClain, who was killed in the vicinity during a confrontation with one of his workers, Louis McBride in 1931. McClain believed McBride was the one who removed the spikes from a section of track, causing a freight train to derail, in an attempt to derail the Sunshine Special passenger train. Some sources say the confrontation was about how many hours McBride was allowed to work due to the Great Depression. McBride confessed to the murder and was executed by electrocution.

The lights are believed by some to be from passing cars on the highway in the distance (which look like small floating lights that flash off in the distance).

Some believe that it’s caused by piezoelectricity – the same kind that ignites a gas water heater’s pilot light – from the constant stress that the area’s underground quartz crystals are under. Gurdon does indeed sit above large amounts of quartz crystals and the New Madrid fault line. So it’s a good explanation. But one that doesn’t convince many local residents who know the Gurdon Light is not so easily explained.

Legacy 4-H holds official retirement ceremony for U.S. flags    10/25/21

Submitted by Tonya Wolcott

Recently members of the Legacy 4-H Club met to retire a group of US flags.

During the ceremony 4-H leader Monte Bartek talked to members about what the different colors stand for, and why old flags are retired as opposed to thrown out.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, when a flag is so damaged that it no longer can serve as a symbol of the country, it should be retired in a dignified way. Youth learned that white signifies purity and innocence, red, hardiness and valor, and blue, signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice. Members of Legacy 4-H followed the U.S. Flag Code retirement procedures by cutting to separate the colors of the flag before burning them individually.

If you, or someone you know, has an American flag in need of retiring, please consider donating it to the Sevier County 4-H. To learn more about Sevier County 4-H contact the Sevier County Cooperative Extension Service by calling (870) 584-3013.

HWSP to present “Town in Conflict” Nov. 5-6    10/25/21

WASHINGTON – Historic Washington State Park will host an event this November exploring the Civil War and its impact on the course of American history.

The Civil War was one of the most trying times in the nation’s history. Historic Washington Park plans to highlight that period with a special event titled “Town in Conflict” Nov. 5-6. The event will take a look at the many aspects of life during the bloody, costly years of the Civil War. Programs will be conducted throughout the park on topics ranging from civilian refugees and religion during the war to military camps, Civil War medicine and the political issues of the day.

Tours will be available in addition to the free outdoor Civil War interpretive activities. Cost to attend “Town in Conflict” is $7 for adults and $three for children six through 12.

“Town in Conflict” will begin on Friday, Nov. 5 from 9:30 to 3 p.m. Area schools are invited to visit the park that day for this historical program. The event will be held again Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information contact Historic Washington State Park at (870) 983-2684. Historic Washington State Park is located approximately 20 miles east of Nashville on Highway 278E.

Panthers see undefeated streak end after nail-biter game against Arkadelphia    10/25/21

ARKADELPHIA – The Ashdown Panthers went on the road to battle the Arkadelphia Badgers in an important 74A matchup between two of the top teams in the conference. Unfortunately the Panthers witnessed the end of their undefeated season but it was nonetheless a fantastic game between two top teams.

The Badgers jumped out to an early 28 to 0 lead in the 2nd quarter and things looked bleak for the undefeated Panthers.  However, Ashdown fought back to score twice before halftime to cut the lead to 28 to 14 behind a 17 yard touchdown pass from Alex Keilbach to Kaiden Winfrey followed by a 6 yard touchdown run by Keilbach.  Ashdown continued with the momentum swing to score first in the second half to make it a one score game 28 to 20 on a 24 yard touchdown pass from Keilbach to Winfrey.

The Panther defense stepped up to hold the Badgers to only three points on a field goal.  The Badgers also scored on a safety in the 4th quarter.  The Panthers would score again  with 1 minute in 30 seconds left in the game on a 47 yard pass from Keilbach to Winfrey to cut the lead to 33 to 27.

Ashdown attempted an onside kick but Arkadelphia recovered it to seal the victory.  Keilbach and Winfrey had amazing games; Keilbach threw for 237 yards and accounted for 4 touchdowns (3 passing and 1 rushing.)  Kaiden Winfrey had 13 receptions for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Ashdown hosts Joe T Robinson on Friday with the Pre game show beginning at 6:30 on the Good Path 102.1.

COVID figures remain steady in Sevier, surrounding counties    10/25/21

DE QUEEN – The Arkansas Department of Health is reporting active cases in Southwest Arkansas are remaining steady.

In Sevier County, the Department of Health is reporting 70 active cases – a decrease of just one from last Monday. Total cases rose to 3,867 while deaths remain at 50.

Little River County is reporting 31 active cases currently, the same figure reported at the beginning of last week. Total cases number 2,024. Deaths remain at 73.

In Howard County, active cases currently total 41 – an increase of six from last week. Cumulative cases number 2,425. Deaths remain at 35.

Finally, Polk County is reporting 21 active cases at this time – a decline of six from last week. Total cases number 2,978 since the start of the pandemic. Polk County has the highest COVID-related death toll in the region, with a total of 109 residents having been killed by the virus according to the department of health.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 246 cases on Sunday for a total of just over 510,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases saw a decline, falling by 210 to 5,427 currently. Deaths increased by 14 in Arkansas yesterday for a total of 8,281 since the spring of 2020. Hospitalizations rose by five to leave 391 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

AHS Homecoming Ceremonies are this Friday; Spirt Week begins today    10/25/21

ASHDOWN – It’s homecoming week at Ashdown High School!

Homecoming activities for the week will include district-wide campus spirit dress-up days, class spirit banners, class food drive contest, powder-puff football game with a cheerleading contest, and the homecoming parade.  The Grand Marshal for this year’s parade will be Coach David Wilson.

The AHS Student Council will have their annual Powder Puff Game at Dick Hays Stadium Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $3 for everyone attending since this is a fundraiser for the AHS Student Council.

Ashdown Public School campuses will dismiss at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 29.  The daytime presentation of the AHS Homecoming Royalty will begin at 12 p.m. Following the presentation there will be a brief pep rally and parade.  Anyone who wishes to participate in the parade must contact Carla Alexander at 870-898-3562 to sign up for the parade and receive a line-up number.

Evening coronation activities will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Dick Hays Stadium where the 2021 Homecoming Royalty will be presented and the queen and maid of honor will be announced.

Kick-off for the Ashdown Panthers vs. Robinson Senators is 7 p.m.  All Ashdown fans are invited to come out and support the Panthers.

Homecoming is a time for AHS alumni to reunite and celebrate. This year, Classes that end in “1” will be recognized and each is encouraged to enter a float in the parade on Friday afternoon and sit together during the game.

Rep. Vaught provides update on state unemployment figures, tax cut proposals    10/25/21

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

There are two big developments regarding our state’s economy.

Unemployment in Arkansas continues to decline, and the state’s budget forecast was adjusted to reflect an increase in revenue.

The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services says Arkansas’ unemployment rate decreased two-tenths of a percentage point from 4.2% in August to 4.0% in September.

This is the third month in a row Arkansas has seen a decline in unemployment, and the state continues to remain below the national rate of 4.8%.

Legislators were also informed last week of a forecast revision to the general revenue budget. The Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) now says the forecast for Fiscal Year 2022 is $246.2 million more than previously forecasted.

The forecast revision for FY 2023 was also increased to $6.454 billion, which is an increase of $298.5 million over the prior release.

Individual income tax and sales and use tax are the two largest sources of general revenue to the state.

Last week, the Governor outlined an income tax cut proposal but added he would not call for a special session the week of October 25 as originally planned.

The Governor’s proposal would lower the top rate from 5.9% to 5.5% in the next year and then lower it to 5.3% by 2024. His proposal also provides a low-income tax break and increases the individual tax credit.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that nine states have passed reductions in either personal or corporate income tax this year. Several other states are considering proposals.

You can find the latest news from the House of Representatives at www.arkansashouse.org.

Remembering the 1949 Leopards football season with T. Ray Wilson     10/22/21

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

This evening is Friday Night Lights in De Queen as the Leopards prepare to host the Lakeside High School Rams for conference action this evening. Here at KDQN we like to take this time to explore of the past history and exploits of the De Queen Leopards.

No history of the De Queen Leopards football program would be complete without a look at the 1949 state playoff team. That year the Leopards went on to post a 9-3-1 record, entering the state championship but falling to a 73-18 loss against the Stuttgart Ricebirds. Despite that championship-ending heartbreaker, the 1949 Leopards went on to establish a decade of supremacy with four undefeated seasons, 101 victories and just 16 losses.

Perhaps no one remembers that memorable season better than De Queen’s T. Ray Wilson. He was quarterback for the 1949-50 seasons and fondly recalls that final year of the 1940’s.

“We came up with a pretty nice record that season and made it to the finals. I hate to divulge it but we did lose 73-18 to Stuttgart in the finals,” said Wilson, laughing. “Still we had a great season, one of the best I can remember.”

Wilson also remembers the teammates who made that 1949 season so great.

“We had one boy that made high school All-American at that time, Billy Pickens, one of the greatest players I think that’s ever come through the De Queen School System. A great young man,” said Wilson.

“Then we had another youngster on that same team that came along and made a fair good hand, Buddy Benson,” said Wilson, laughing at the understatement. Benson played for the University of Arkansas, where he threw the pass beating Ole Miss 6-0 in 1954. Benson then went on to serve as head coach at Ouachita Baptist for 31 seasons. Benson still holds the record for most coaching wins in Arkansas college football history.

The 1949 season also saw its share of tragedy. Just three games into the season, Guie Morris, a 17-year-old junior on the team, was killed when his pickup was struck by a train.

“Guie was a nice young man. His loss was a real tragedy for the team and all of De Queen,” Wilson said. The team and coaches got together and decided to play the next game in Morris’ memory. That game ended with a 26-13 victory over the Nashville Scrappers. “The coaches and the class decided that would be a good way to honor him.”

Wilson went on to do some great things following his graduation in 1950. He served in the National Guard, was elected mayor of De Queen for two terms, and posted a long career as a SWEPCO senior engineer and manager. Wilson retired in 1995.

The Leopards have seen a rollercoaster of wins and losses over the years, but Wilson’s love for Leopards football has never faltered. He continues to attend most home games.

“It’s been a great time to be in De Queen. I’ve seen some good things, seen some lean times. But basically it’s always been a good place to live,” Wilson explained. “I’ve always been a Leopard and love our schools. Our school spirit has always been strong, and that’s because we have a strong school and a strong community. I’m lucky to get to call this town home.”

This Week in Leopard History: schools unite to overcome 2015 tragedy     10/22/21

By Jay Bunyard, KDQN

This week in Leopard history doesn’t focus on a big victory. It centers around two schools working together to provide healing from a tragic event.

The Leopards and Rams were scheduled to play in De Queen on Friday October 23, 2015, at 7:00. Word hit the news media at around 4:00 that afternoon that one of the Hot Springs Lakeside buses enroute to the game had crashed near New Hope on Highway 70. At that point, the game became irrelevant as prayers went up for everybody’s safety and well-being.

The game was cancelled as several passengers on the bus were taken to nearby hospitals. Thankfully, there were no life-threatening injuries.

The Rams football team was on a roll that season. They were 6-1, and a perfect 4-0 in the 5A-South Conference. The Leopards were 1-3 in the league, so Lakeside naturally wanted to make up the game, if De Queen would agree to accommodate. Under the circumstances, the Leopards did the right thing. They agreed to reschedule the contest for the following Monday night – October 26th.

And what a game it turned out to be! Lakeside understandably didn’t have probably their best performance, allowing the Leopards to almost pull off the incredible upset.

The Rams scored first on a five-yard run by Maurice Bradford. But the Leopards tied the score at intermission on a seven-yard toss from Drew Dykes to Brady Winship.

The Leopards took a 14-7 lead on a 21-yard scoring pass from Dykes to Maurice Moore. The Rams answered on a four-yard run by Colt Housley.

The Rams took a 21-14 lead with 1:56 to play on a 65-yard pass from Fisher Alexander to Kalen Bland.

But Dykes and Moore connected again on a 49-yard pass to cut the Ram lead to 21-20 with only 58 seconds to play.

Everybody in the stands expected the Leopards to go for two and the victory, with all the momentum and with the way De Queen had effectively been moving the ball. But Coach Justin Kramer elected to attempt to kick the extra point and play for overtime.

Lakeside broke through the De Queen protection to block the P.A.T. attempt to preserve the one-point win.

As the two teams congratulated one another at midfield, there were a lot of hugs and a lot of tears shed. Afterall, there are things more important than football, and the two schools demonstrated that fact perfectly in the only Monday night high school football game played in recent memory.

Horatio High School Homecoming is tonight at Lion Stadium     10/18/21

The 2021 HHS Homecoming Court includes, from left to right in the front row, Junior Maid Megan Midgett, Senior Maid Anahí Murillo, Crown Bearer Kyndri Leonard, Queen Natalie Machucho, Football Bearer Liam-Zayden Francisco Izaguirre, Senior Maid Jasara Gaylord and Junior Maid Kylie Ayers. In the back row are Flower Girl Yarixel Ramirez, Sophomore Maid Demi Leonard, Senior Maid Valerie Smith, Sophomore Maid Kristin Roberts and Senior Maid Gabbi Litchford.

HORATIO – Horatio High School will celebrate Homecoming 2021 this Friday, October 22. The Lions will take on Genoa Central at 7 p.m. Homecoming Coronation will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Lion Stadium.

This year’s Homecoming Court includes Junior Maid Megan Midgett, Senior Maid Anahí Murillo, Queen Natalie Machucho, Senior Maid Jasara Gaylord, Junior Maid Kylie Ayers, Sophomore Maid Demi Leonard, Senior Maid Valerie Smith, Sophomore Maid Kristin Roberts and Senior Maid Gabbi Litchford.

Senior Lions include Anthony Ramirez, Vorian Rehm, Dalton Dowell, Alexis Ramirez, Ely Ricardo Moya, Marco Jimenez, Ben Morphew and Landon Willis.

Crown Bearer is Kyndri Leonard while Liam-Zayden Francisco Izaguirre will be the Football Bearer. Flower Girl is Yarixel Ramirez.

Deadline nears on Tyson vaccine mandate     10/22/21

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Tyson Foods plant workers have until Nov. 1 to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under a company-wide mandate announced in August.

Company officials cited the vulnerability of the meatpacking industry for the requirement, one of the first of its kind. The mandate’s stated goal is to protect Tyson employees, their families and communities. It has been issued as a “condition of employment.”

Tyson office workers were required to by fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. The deadline for all other employees is set for Nov. 1. Company officials say exceptions to the mandate are available on medical or religious grounds,

Earlier this month the company announced more than 90 percent of its 120,000-person workforce is fully vaccinated.

Tyson Foods is offering a $200 bonus to employees who comply. The company also has an existing policy in place of compensating workers for up to four hours of pay if they get vaccinated outside of their normal shift or through an external source.

Half-marathon, other events upcoming at Cossatot River State Park     10/22/21

WICKES – Cossatot River State has a number of activities planned for the coming days and weeks.

That includes this weekend’s annual half-marathon trail run. The run is scheduled for this Saturday, Oct. 23 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park, located 12 miles east of Wickes on Highway 278. Registration and check-in will kick off at 6 a.m. at the Visitor Center. The shuttle to the start line at Brushy Creek is at 7 a.m. with the 13.1 mile half-marathon to begin at eight. The park will host a meal at 11 a.m. and present awards at 11:45.

All area residents are invited to challenge their abilities in the mountainous terrain of the Cossatot River State Park for this 13.1 mile single track trail run. Take your time and enjoy the scenic trail or push yourself to the limits and compete for the top honors.

Those looking for a more relaxed trek through the park can join park interpreters for a fall foliage hike on Sunday, Oct. 24. The two-hour hike will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and will take visitors to Goats Bluff to view Arkansas fall at its finest. Everyone is asked to meet at the Harris Creek Trailhead.

A one-hour hike is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 31 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Park interpreters will take hikers on a trek along the Brushy Creek Trailhead to take a look at the many different trees in the park and how to identify them. A special activity will be available for kids who attend. Everyone is asked to meet at the Brushy Creek Trailhead.

Numerous other family-centered events are scheduled throughout the fall season, including feed the critter sessions and other autumn hikes.

For more information on these events and all Cossatot River State Park has to offer, contact park staff by calling (870) 385-2201.

“Town in Conflict” historical seminar coming to HSWP     10/22/21

WASHINGTON – Historic Washington State Park will host an event this November exploring the Civil War and its impact on the course of American history.

The Civil War was one of the most trying times in the nation’s history. Historic Washington Park plans to highlight that period with a special event titled “Town in Conflict” Nov. 5-6. The event will take a look at the many aspects of life during the bloody, costly years of the Civil War. Programs will be conducted throughout the park on topics ranging from civilian refugees and religion during the war to military camps, Civil War medicine and the political issues of the day.

Tours will be available in addition to the free outdoor Civil War interpretive activities. Cost to attend “Town in Conflict” is $7 for adults and $3 for children six through 12.

“Town in Conflict” will begin on Friday, Nov. 5 from 9:30 to 3 p.m. Area schools are invited to visit the park that day for this historical program. The event will be held again Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information contact Historic Washington State Park at (870) 983-2684. Historic Washington State Park is located approximately 20 miles east of Nashville on Highway 278E.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday for Shorer Medical in Lockesburg     10/22/21

LOCKESBURG – A grand opening ceremony will be held for Schroer Medical Center in Lockesburg this Saturday, Oct. 23.

The new family practice is owned by Nurse Practitioner Cassie Davis-Schroer. The event is set to begin at 10 a.m. and Schroer Medical’s location at 3397 N. Camelia Street in Lockesburg.

The grand opening will include food from Zeb’s Lunchbox and The Walking Dog, as well as door prizes and giveaways. Visitors will also be able to take a tour of the clinic and meet the new staff.

Consumer Alert: Look out for fake event tickets     10/22/21

Many Arkansans are excited to get back to pre-COVID activities, including going to concerts. As musicians resume their tours, so do scam artists. Simmons Bank Arena has contacted the Attorney General’s Office concerning websites attempting to sell speculative tickets, which are not real tickets, to upcoming concerts. Speculative listing is when unofficial sellers list tickets for sale even though they do not actually have those tickets. This practice is fraudulent, unethical and takes advantage of fans and performers.

Most venues, including Simmons Bank Arena, utilize legitimate services, such as Ticket Master Verified Fan, as their official source to purchase tickets to ensure that fans are able to purchase tickets and to prevent con artists and scalpers from ripping off consumers.

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

-Buying tickets from the official source verified by the venue website is the safest way to purchase a real ticket to an event.

-Only purchase from official sources during the official on sale time. Research the seller or broker with the Better Business Bureau and ensure they are a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers.

-A legitimate ticket broker will offer a refund policy. Only buy tickets from a reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction.

-Always use a credit card to make a ticket purchase because credit card laws provide buyers with some recourse if the tickets are fraudulent.

-If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Refuse to be rushed. Scam artists often try to hurry prospective buyers into making a decision.

According to AARP, nearly 5 million consumers receive fraudulent concert, sporting event or theme park tickets each year.

Consumers who think they may have purchased a counterfeit ticket can contact the National Association of Ticket Brokers at 630-510-4594 or the Arkansas Attorney General’s Public Protection Department.

De Queen City Council agrees to add more full-time firefighters to DQFD     10/21/21

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Tuesday night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council focused on the future of the De Queen Fire Department.

De Queen Fire Chief Dennis Pruitt spoke at the meeting to share concerns over the department’s volunteer ranks. Pruitt said the station is set to lose up to six of its most experienced volunteer firefighters over the next several years, with little to no interest from the community to fill those positions.

At one point in time Pruitt, who’s been a De Queen firefighter for 37 years, said the department could have recruited as many as 50 or more volunteers. These days, he says the station is lucky to keep 20 on its roster. Compounding the personnel shortage is declining motivation among some of the department’s existing and younger volunteers, Pruitt added.

“In probably three years you’re going to loss six of those people and when they’re gone, what is the fire department going to do?” Pruitt asked council members. “And out of those six most of them are [the fire department’s] officers. I think you see my problem.”

The problem of declining volunteer recruitment and motivation is not just a local issue. Every volunteer fire department in the area, state and nation reports similar concerns. The situation convinced Pruitt to approach the city council with a solution: hire two more fulltime fire fighters.

Pruitt said the two additional firefighters would be stationed at the department from 4:30 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday. That’s the time when most fires occurred, according to a report shared by Pruitt.

When not responding to emergencies, Pruitt said both firefighters would work to address code enforcement issues in the city. Having a code enforcement officer available after working hours would provide more opportunity to meet with property owners and renters to address those issues, explained Pruitt.

“Most folks don’t get home from work until after 4:30, so having a couple of people working code enforcement will have a very beneficial effect,” Pruitt said.

After discussing the hiring suggestion the city council agreed to fund two new positions. Both positions will be advertised, with one expected to be filled this year and the second at the start of 2022. The city also agreed to apply for a state grant that would help cover the cost of the two firefighters’ salaries over a three-year period.

In other business, the city council approved a $40,000 expenditure to assist the American Legion with repairs to the group’s headquarters in De Queen. The building, said Mayor Jeff Brown, is suffering from ceiling and floor issues. The American Legion currently leases the city-owned building on a 99-year lease for $1 a year. Mayor Jeff Brown said he felt it was nonetheless the city’s responsibility to keep the building in good shape. The council agreed and unanimously approved the request.

Tuesday night’s meeting ended with a brief discussion on the city’s finances. City Clerk Donna Jones said the city remains in the black on expenditures versus revenue, signifying economic activity and thus sales tax collections remain strong in the city. Given the economic consequences of COVID-19, Jones said the city is enjoying a situation not many other cities are currently experiencing.

The city council is scheduled to meet again next year to begin conversations on the city’s 2022 budget.

Herman Dierks Park’s splash pad may soon see some progress     10/21/21

DE QUEEN – Work could begin soon on the splash pad for De Queen’s Herman Dierks Park.

City officials announced earlier this year De Queen has received a nearly half-million dollar donation from Pilgrim’s to build a new, state-of-the-art splash pad at the city park.

The city’s hope was to have this popular attraction completed in time for use this past summer. However, like nearly every other construction project in the nation, supply chain issues had other plans for De Queen’s splash pad. Skyrocketing material costs and global shortages put a complete hold on the splash pad’s construction.

But that’s likely to change soon. De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said progress is again underway with materials now arriving at Herman Dierks Park.

“The good news is [the contractor has]dropped about half of the products that it takes to build the splash pad, they’ve dropped them off,” Brown said. “Hopefully the other half will be here this week. What they told me is that hopefully we’re about so see some progress and get this splash pad going. Once they do get started, maybe three to four weeks from start to finish.”

For those unfamiliar with the concept, a splash pad is a large water-themed public park attraction usually only seen in much bigger communities. They are praised in other cities for the cool space they provide without the need for a lifeguard because there’s little to no standing water. Splash pads are also known for drawing in residents far and wide during the warmer months.

They’re also becoming increasingly popular. Through both corporate and private donations Ashdown was able to complete construction of a splash pad earlier this summer.

De Queen’s splash pad was made available through a donation from Pilgrim’s Hometown Strong program. In a press release Pilgrim’s said the company worked with local leaders to determine where the funds could best help meet immediate and longer-term community needs. There the decision was made to add a splash pad to Herman Dierks Park, where other recent improvements have been made.

Combined with $95,000 in new equipment installed at Herman Dierks Park earlier this year, Brown said the splash pad will help make the park an even greater attraction for future visitors.

The donation made by Pilgrim’s for the splash pad is on top of the $225,000 donated by the company for construction of a community walking trail at the new hospital in Sevier County. The one-mile-long lighted and landscaped trail will weave through the grounds of the Sevier County Medical Center and will be open for use by the whole community.

State officials loosen rules regarding quarantine in K-12 schools     10/21/21

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Public health officials in Arkansas are loosening quarantine procedures for students in K-12 in hopes of keeping more kids in class.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the changes during his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference on Tuesday. Those changes include reducing the close contact definition from six feet to three feet over a 15 minute period. In addition, the state’s test-to-stay guidelines have been expanded to include not just the school day but all school-related extracurricular activities.

Other guidelines already in place include removing the requirement to quarantine if the contact is vaccinated, or if both the case and contact were wearing a mask at the time of exposure. These guidelines, as well as the changes announced Tuesday, only affect students in grades K-12.

“That’s a significant change that will help our schools minimize quarantining and balance the public health with the needs of the students,” Hutchinson explained.

Dr. Tony Thurman, superintendent of the Cabot School District, said these changes will have a beneficial impact on school attendance rates and education in general.

“This is going to be a huge game changer in our business… first and foremost for students,” Thurman said. “The best way to battle learning loss is to have kids in school. We’re seeing a large number of kids at school as probable close contacts that are not testing positive. If anyway possible they need to be at school learning.”

Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero said his department will continue to perform contact tracing within schools. In addition, he said the three-feet rule could return to six-feet if the COVID-19 situation worsens in Arkansas schools.

“I want to reassure the public that we will not be neglecting to follow the cases that occur after this modification,” he said. “If the Arkansas Department of Health sees an increase in the number of school cases we will make a recommendation to the public that we go back to the six-foot distance for quarantining.”

Regarding the state’s COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported an additional 661 new cases on Tuesday – signifying a continued drop in new cases across the state. Active cases fell to 5,853 currently. Deaths rose over the same period by 19 to 8,221 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations fell by one to leave 461 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Cossatot River State Park hosting half-marathon trail run this Saturday     10/21/21

WICKES – Cossatot River State Park and Natural Area will host its annual Half Marathon Trail Run this weekend

The yearly trail run has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park, located 12 miles east of Wickes on Highway 278. Registration and check-in will kick off at 6 a.m. at the Visitor Center. The shuttle to the start line at Brushy Creek is at 7 a.m. with the 13.1 mile half-marathon to begin at eight. The park will host a meal at 11 a.m. and present awards at 11:45.

All area residents are invited to challenge their abilities in the mountainous terrain of the Cossatot River State Park for this 13.1 mile single track trail run. Take your time and enjoy the scenic trail or push yourself to the limits and compete for the top honors. Either way this will be an enjoyable event, park organizers say. T-shirts will be provided to registered runners.

For more information contact the park at (870) 385-2201.

De Queen Class of 1971 to host 50-year reunion this weekend     10/21/21

DE QUEEN – The De Queen High School Class of 1971 is celebrating their 50th Reunion Oct. 22-24.

Members are extending an invitation to members of any other classes who would like to visit on Saturday, Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the De Queen High School Cafeteria. Anyone needing additional information may contact Randy Davis at (870) 584-8671.

Nominations now being accepted for Arkansas Food Hall of Fame     10/21/21

Nominations will remain open through the 31st of this month for the 2022 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. The statewide program is celebrating its fifth year of recognizing the legendary restaurants, proprietors and food-themed events from every part of the state. The annual event seeks to spark a unique conversation about food and how it relates to Arkansas’s heritage.

Nominations are being accepted at ArkFoodHOF.com in five categories:

-The Arkansas Food Hall of Fame award recognizes those long-standing restaurants that have become legendary attractions in Arkansas.

-The Proprietor of the Year award honors a chef, cook and/or restaurant owner in Arkansas who has made significant achievements in the food industry.

-The Food-Themed Event award honors a community food-themed event or festival that makesour state a great place to live and visit.

– The Gone But Not Forgotten award remembers the collective culinary legacy of a once-and always influential Arkansas restaurant that has since ceased operations.

– And finally People’s Choice, which awards and identifies the public’s favorite. This award is truly in the hands of Arkansans. The restaurant or food truck that receives the highest number of votes wins.

Every person has a story to tell when it comes to food and these nominations are the perfect time to share your Arkansas food experience. More than 1,450 submissions were received from all 75 Arkansas counties last year, more than double from the previous year. Winners will be chosen this winter by a special committee of Arkansans who are historians, chefs, foodies and food authors. Honorees and finalists will be announced at a special ceremony in 2022.

Horatio VFD again hosting Haunted House this Halloween     10/19/21

HORATIO – Get ready for another weekend of thrills, scares and screams with the “Screams of the Night” Haunted House in Horatio. The haunted house kicks off this weekend with two performances scheduled for Oct. 22 and 23 and again Halloween weekend. The event, which is billed as the biggest haunted house in the Ark-La-Tex area, is open even night from 7 p.m. to midnight. The haunted house is located at the intersection of Highway 24 and Highway 41 near Horatio.

“Screams of the Night” is hosted annually by the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department. This is the fire department’s eighth year to put on the production. In previous years the event featured concessions, an indoor waiting area in case of rain, hayrides, outdoor fire pits to keep visitors warm and waiting areas for family members too scared to enter. The haunted house includes around 40 rooms with character actors inside sure to give visitors the fright of a lifetime. Cost is $10 at the gate.

Proceeds benefit the volunteer fire department and its mission in the community. In previous years money raised through the haunted house was used to towards a new fire engine for the city and free smoke alarms for residents who don’t have one. Money raised has also been used to provide needed supplies for residents who lost their home due to a fire.

For more information visit the Horatio Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Numerous events scheduled in area for Halloween     10/19/21

DE QUEEN – A number of other Halloween activities are being hosted throughout the listening area.

Organizers of De Queen’s third annual Trunk or Treat Halloween event are still accepting donations from area residents for this year’s event. Anyone interested in donating candy for this hugely popular event is asked to drop it off at a number of local businesses, including Meraki Hair Studio, Leopard Nutrition, De Queen Auto Group, Southern Girls Flower Shop and here at KDQN Studios.

Traditionally held on Halloween, this year’s De Queen Trunk or Treat event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 30 at the De Queen Sportsplex. The two-hour event runs from 4-6 that evening. Those looking to host a car or game for this year’s event are encouraged to do so by signing up on the Google Docs sheet available by visiting the De Queen Trunk or Treat event page on Facebook.

The Little River County Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Trunk or Treat drive-thru Halloween event on Saturday, Oct. 30. The event is scheduled for 3-5 p.m. at Pocket Park. If you, your business, civic group or church would like to participate, call (870) 898-2758 or email director@littlerivercoc.org.

Broken Bow First Assembly of God will host a Trunk or Treat event on Sunday, Oct. 31 starting at five that evening. The event will be held at the church and is designed for children aged from birth to fifth grade.

A Trick or Treat event will be held at the Ida Margaret Coulter Stone Park in Lockesburg on Friday, Oct. 29 starting at 7:30 p.m. The event is being held in honor of Susie Thompson, a long time resident of Lockesburg and a tireless support and volunteer of her community. The remembrance Halloween activity will include candy for the kids and hot dogs. Everyone is invited to attend and bring a flashlight.

Museum to present dinner and a mystery theater     10/19/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Museum will present a special night of “Who Did It?” next month, a fun filled night of dinner and mystery. The event is scheduled for Nov. 5 starting at 6:30 p.m. This clue theater is titled “The Mystery of the De Queen Bank Robbery” and participants are invited to help discover who robbed the De Queen Bank. Tickets are $15 each or $25 for two. Cost includes dinner and a show. Everyone aged 12 and up is invited to attend and door prizes will be awarded.

For more information contact the Sevier County Museum at 642-6642. The museum is also open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

SWREC annual Beef and Forages Field Day set for Oct. 29    10/19/21

HOPE – Area cattle producers are invited to this year’s annual Beef and Forages Field Day, scheduled for Oct. 29 at the UADA Southwest Research and Extension Center in Hope.

The event is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day and will feature a number of cattle experts discussing topics of interest for Arkansas cattle producers. Those topics include a cattle market update from Dr. James Mitchell of the University of Arkansas, Herd Improvement Using Reproductive Technology by a cattle improvement specialist; an overview of programs offered through the Southwest Research and Extension Center by Dr. Daniel Rivera; and Understanding your Hay Quality by Dr. Shane Gadberry of the UADA.

There is no cost to attend and lunch will be provided. However, interested participants must RSVP by Oct. 26 to have a spot saved. To RSVP or to find out additional information, contact your local county extension office or contact Sherri Pote at the SWREC by calling (870) 777-9702.

Sevier County Library to host Food for Fines, Mister Rogers’ Sweater Drive in Nov.     10/18/21

DE QUEEN – November is nearly here and that means a couple of things: Thanksgiving is just around the corner and so is the Sevier County Library System’s annual Food for Fines program.

Through this yearly initiative, patrons are invited to bring in any nonperishable food item for a one dollar reduction per item in existing overdue fines. Food accepted for fines are for returned library materials only, not for replacement fees of lost or damaged items. The program is part of the library system’s annual effort to address food insecurity in Sevier County, according to Head Librarian Johnye Fisher.

In addition to the Food for Fines program, the library is also once again sponsoring the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive. The library is accepting new or gently worn items for donation, including cold weather clothes like coats, sweaters, gloves, hats, scarves and more.

In other library updates, the De Queen Library is hosting two story times in November – Wednesday, Nov. 3 and again on Wednesday, Nov. 17, starting at 4 p.m. both days. All area youth are invited to come by and enjoy these free story time events.

Sevier County librarians are saying thanks to Tri-County Regional Library System for allowing local patrons the opportunity to read E-books, via the Libbyapp by Overdrive. You can follow the instructions to download the libbyapp from the library’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/seviercountylibrary or simply go to the play store on your device. You must search “Arkansas Digital Library Consortium” and hold a valid library card to browse our selection.

For more information, call the De Queen Library at (870) 584-4364

Horatio Elementary receives fourth year SOI designation     10/18/21

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary has again completed the renewal process for the School of Innovation(SOI), marking the fourth year for the district to receive this distinction.

SOI schools are engaged in practices that are intended to improve academic performance and learning for students. Horatio Elementary has been a SOI school since 2018.

Through the SOI designation, officials at Horatio Elementary say they’ve introduced programs with the goal of meeting the needs of every student. Some of the accomplishments achieved through the program include Social/Emotional learning with extension activities, Learning from the Greenhouse, UnPluged Fridays, In school and After school programs, and a protected block of time for a school Response to Intervention program.

Officials say these are just some of the diverse activities introduced at Horatio Elementary to help students learn and therefore close the achievement gap. Both the High School and Elementary School have been able to implement successful programs through the School of Innovation.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month     10/18/21

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, one in eight women will develop breast cancer. It is the most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of death among women. In 2018, there were 2,339 new breast cancer cases and 368 cancer deaths in the state.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer and the importance of early detection. In 1997, the Arkansas General Assembly passed the Breast Cancer Act, which led to the ADH’s BreastCare program. The BreastCare program coordinates efforts with providers to offer no-cost screenings and follow-up services to eligible women who are uninsured or underinsured.

Last year, the program served 8,403 women in fiscal year 2021. Those services resulted in 62 Arkansas women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer.

State representative DeAnn Vaught said General Assembly continually reviews legislation to improve services for early detection. In the most recent legislative session, lawmakers passed Act 553.

ACT 553 amends the law concerning coverage of diagnostic examinations for breast cancer under certain health benefit plans. It clarifies that an insurer, upon the recommendation of a woman’s physician, must offer screening mammography as an essential health benefit if the woman has a prior history of breast cancer or the woman’s mother, sister, or any first- or second-degree female relative of the woman has had a history of breast cancer, positive genetic testing, or other risk factors.

According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early and is in the localized stage, the five-year relative survival rate is 99 percent. Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.

The Arkansas Department of Health is encouraging women to talk with their healthcare providers about getting screened. If you would like more information on the BreastCare program, call 501-661-2942 or visit www.arbreastcare.com.

U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign now underway     10/18/21

Arkansas law enforcement agencies are uniting in the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” initiative aimed at stopping the dangerous practice of distracted driving.  Starting this past weekend, Arkansas State Troopers, joined by local police officers and sheriff’s deputies across the state, launched a week-long intensified patrol effort to stop drivers who are distracted and fail to keep their eyes on the road.

Officials with the Arkansas State Police say one of the leading factors contributing to the epidemic of distracted driving is the use of cell phones while driving.  In recent years, young drivers have become the largest segment among distracted driving offenders, using their cell phones to talk, text, and scroll through social media while they’re supposed to be in control of their vehicle.

During 2018, eight percent of the people killed in teen-driving crashes (ages 15-19) died when teen drivers were distracted at the time of the crash, and the following year (2019) 10 percent of the teenage drivers were distracted at the time of the crashes.

National Teen Driver Safety Week coincides with the planned distracted driving operation.  Parents are encouraged to have conversations with their teenage children who are drivers about the important rules they need to follow to stay safe while operating a motor vehicle.

Texting while driving is illegal in Arkansas and most of the United States.

Arkansas law enforcement officers and the Highway Safety Office urge drivers of any age to put their phones away while behind the wheel and operating a vehicle. If a text message is necessary, safely exit the street or highway and find a location to stop and use the phone.  Never try to read or send a text message while a vehicle is moving.  Drivers are also asked to consider other safety precautions:

  • Designate a passenger as a “designated texter.” Allow the passenger to access the driver’s phone.
  • Never engage in social media scrolling or posting messages while driving.
  • Cell phone use is habit-forming.  If a driver is struggling with safe practices, activate the cell phone “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put the phone out of reach from the driver such as in the trunk, glove box, or back seat.

Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal.  Remember, U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

Jury trial rescheduled for De Queen man charged with three counts of capital murder     10/15/21

DE QUEEN – A De Queen man accused of killing three family members this past February in Madison County is scheduled is now set to appear before a jury in December.

Hunter Chenoweth, age 23, was scheduled to appear in court for a jury trial this week but that trial is now rescheduled until December. The change of date was granted after his lawyer filed another continuance motion.

Chenoweth is accused of killing his mother, 51-year-old Tami Lynn Chenoweth; his stepfather, 59-year-old James Stanley McGhee; and his sister, 26-year-old Cheyene Chenoweth. All three were found deceased inside a home in Madison County on Feb. 23, according to the Arkansas State Police.

Chenoweth entered a plea of not guilty to the charges in March.

If Chenoweth is convicted, the capital murder charges each carry a sentence of either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

Chenoweth is also slated for a jury trial earlier this month in Washington County related to a felony domestic battery charge from February of 2020. According to online court records, that charge stems from an incident that same month in which Chenoweth is accused of stabbing his stepfather. However, that trial was also rescheduled until January of next year.

SWAR sees sizable increase in COVID deaths after data adjustment     10/15/21

DE QUEEN – A data correction by the Arkansas Department of Health has dramatically increased the number of COVID-related deaths reported in Southwest Arkansas since the pandemic began.

Officials with the department of health said the deaths occurred over the past year and a half but were not properly recorded until late last week.

Because of that data adjustment, deaths in Sevier County rose from 36 to 50 at this time. Little River County experienced a similar increase, with reported deaths increasing from 47 to 71 currently. In Howard County deaths saw a smaller increase but nonetheless rose by five to 35 at this time. Finally, Polk County, who has experienced the most COVID-19 deaths of any county in Southwest Arkansas, saw deaths rise from 101 to 107 following the data adjustment.

Fortunately, other local COVID-19 figures suggest the recent surge of COVID-19 cases is finally reversing. As of Friday morning, the Department of Health was reporting 82 active cases. That’s a net increase of just one from Oct. 4. Overall cases now number 3,797.

Little River County is reporting 31 active cases currently, a decrease of 30 from the beginning of last week. Total cases number 1,990

In Howard County, active cases currently total 35. Cumulative cases number 2,381.

Finally, Polk County is reporting an increase to its active caseload, which rose by a net total of 28 this week to 65 currently. Total cases number 2,954 since the start of the pandemic.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 781 cases on Thursday for a total of just over 505,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases did see an increase, rising by 118 to 6,800 currently. Deaths increased by 10 in Arkansas yesterday for a total of 8,176 since the spring of 2020. Hospitalizations fell by 26 to leave 505 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Lawmakers have passed a bill that would require employers to let workers opt out of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced during his weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday that he would not veto either bill nor would he sign them. The two bills include SB739 and HB1977. The two identical bills were passed last week by the Arkansas legislature and would force employers requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees to provide specific exemptions. These exemptions include a negative antigen detection test or proof of immunity for the virus.

Hutchinson said these bills are contrary to the state and nation’s efforts to encourage vaccination against COVID-19. In addition, he stated his opposition to further and more complicated mandates on employers.

Leopards to face Cardinals tonight in 25th matchup     10/15/21

DE QUEEN – Tonight’s matchup between the Camden Fairview Cardinals and the De Queen Leopards is the 25th meeting between the two schools. The Cardinals have claimed 13 victories, while the Leopards have been victorious 11 times.

The first meeting between De Queen and Camden Fairview on the gridiron took place in 1950, a 32-6 Leopard victory.

The teams played nine times from 1950 – 1959, with the Leopards winning eight of the nine contests by a combined margin of 265 – 60. Fairview’s lone win came in 1952 by a score of 19-12.

The two schools collided annually from 1964 – 1967, and split those four contests. The Leopards won 39-11 in 1964, and blanked the Redbirds 25-0 in 1965 behind big performances from Murray “Tuffy” Neely, Bill Stainton, Danny Pike, Eddy Phillips, Ricky Athey, Don Addington, and Ronnie Jones.

De Queen and Camden Fairview had a 42-year lapse in the series from 1967 – 2010. The Leopards and Cardinals have competed annually since 2010. De Queen and Camden Fairview became 5A-South conference foes in 2012.

The Leopards would go 52 years between victories in the series, from that big 25-0 shutout in 1965 to a thrilling 24-21 win in 2017. We take a longer look at that 24-21 De Queen win in 2017 elsewhere in tonight’s program under the “This Week in Leopard History” column.

You may remember playing the popular game called: “Keep Away” as a youngster growing up? Coach Stephen Sloan’s Leopards mastered that old game as a powerful Camden Fairview team couldn’t score, IF they didn’t have the ball during a thrilling 24-21 De Queen victory in “This Week in Leopard History” back on October 13, 2017 at historic Leopard Stadium.

The Leopards had long, time-consuming, touchdown-scoring offensive drives that consumed 6:46, 5:01, and a whopping 8:43 off the scoreboard clock enroute to the memorable win.

De Queen struck first on a 35-yard field goal by Honorio Dominguez to take a 3-0 lead after the opening quarter. The Leopards extended the lead to 17-7 at the half after a 12-play, 56-yard drive was capped on a one-yard plunge by Hunter Earney, and a 71-yard drive in eight plays culminated with an eight-yard Earney scoring run.

Then, the game of “Keep Away” really became interesting in the third quarter. De Queen moved 57 yards in 13 plays, taking 8:43 off the clock. Earney’s third touchdown of the night from a yard out put the Leopards up 24-7.

The Cardinals scored twice in the fourth quarter, but ran out of time after Mack Carver’s second interception of the night at the goal line preserved the thrilling 24-21 victory.

Hunter Earney rushed for 213 yards and three scores on 33 carries. The Offensive Line, led by seniors Quinton Thornton, Jace Sims, and Carter Faulkenberry led the way for Earney.

The defense was led by Rolando Sotelo’s nine tackles, including a big 12-yard sack.

Time of Possession: De Queen 31:14 Camden Fairview 16:46 making it a night to remember in “This Week in Leopard History”.

Gov. Hutchinson says he won’t sign legislature’s vaccine exemption bills     10/15/21

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he won’t sign two legislative bills seeking to counter a White House mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or rigorous testing for federal employees and contractors.

Hutchinson announced during his weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday that he would not veto either bill nor would he sign them. The two bills include SB739 and HB1977. The two identical bills were passed last week by the Arkansas legislature and would force employers requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees to provide specific exemptions. These exemptions include a negative antigen detection test or proof of immunity for the virus.

Hutchinson said these bills are contrary to the state and nation’s efforts to encourage vaccination against COVID-19. In addition, he stated his opposition to further and more complicated mandates on employers.

“These bills are unnecessary and the debate on these bills has been harmful to our goal of increasing vaccination rates in Arkansas,” he said. “I disagree with the federal mandate on vaccinations… but the solution is not to place additional mandates on employers on the state government level.”

Hutchinson said he is also against legislation recently passed in Texas that prohibits the establishment of any vaccination requirement in the state.

“That in my judgement is contrary to the idea that the private sector should not be overregulated,” he stated. “I do not support that kind of government interference.”

The state already has medical and religious exemptions for vaccine mandates in place under current law, Hutchinson added.

Arkansas Health Secretary Jose Romero then spoke on the expected upcoming approval by the FDA of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11. He said approval could come as early as next month.

“During the surge [Arkansas] showed a 94 percent increase in the number of children hospitalized with disease because of that virus,” Romero said. “That group will now – we hope, if the FDA and the ACIP rule in favor of using that vaccine – have availability next month.”

Romero said the vaccine for children aged five to 11 will be available at local health units and clinics.

Regarding the state’s COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 694 new cases on Wednesday – signifying a continued drop in the state’s new caseload. With Wednesday’s new cases, the state is now reporting more than 504,000 transmissions of COVID-19 in Arkansas since the pandemic began. Active cases fell on Wednesday by 104 to 6,702 currently. Deaths rose over the same period by 19 for a total of 8,166 since spring of 2020. Hospitalizations declined by six to leave 531 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

The number of fully vaccinated Arkansans increased but remains below 1.4 million.

U Text. U Drive. U Pay Campaign begins Sunday statewide     10/15/21

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas law enforcement agencies will unite in the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” initiative aimed at stopping the dangerous practice of distracted driving.  Starting Sunday, Arkansas State Troopers, joined by local police officers and sheriff’s deputies across the state, will begin a week-long intensified patrol effort to stop drivers who are distracted and fail to keep their eyes on the road.

Officials with the Arkansas State Police say one of the leading factors contributing to the epidemic of distracted driving is the use of cell phones while driving.  In recent years, young drivers have become the largest segment among distracted driving offenders, using their cell phones to talk, text, and scroll through social media while they’re supposed to be in control of their vehicle.

During 2018, eight percent of the people killed in teen-driving crashes (ages 15-19) died when teen drivers were distracted at the time of the crash, and the following year (2019) 10 percent of the teenage drivers were distracted at the time of the crashes.

National Teen Driver Safety Week coincides with the planned distracted driving operation.  Parents are encouraged to have conversations with their teenage children who are drivers about the important rules they need to follow to stay safe while operating a motor vehicle.

Texting while driving is illegal in Arkansas and most of the United States.

Arkansas law enforcement officers and the Highway Safety Office urge drivers of any age to put their phones away while behind the wheel and operating a vehicle. If a text message is necessary, safely exit the street or highway and find a location to stop and use the phone.  Never try to read or send a text message while a vehicle is moving.  Drivers are also asked to consider other safety precautions:

  • Designate a passenger as a “designated texter.” Allow the passenger to access the driver’s phone.
  • Never engage in social media scrolling or posting messages while driving.
  • Cell phone use is habit-forming.  If a driver is struggling with safe practices, activate the cell phone “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put the phone out of reach from the driver such as in the trunk, glove box, or back seat.

Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal.  Remember, U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

Today is deadline to get t-shirt for this year’s Tour De Queen     10/15/21

DE QUEEN – Registration remains open for the 10th annual Tour De Queen bike ride hosted by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.

The event is scheduled for Nov. 6 and will begin at the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce office in downtown De Queen. Pre-registration is $40 and $45 on the day of the ride.

The yearly bicycle event draws in dozens of riders both locally and from across the state for a number of challenging but scenic rides through Sevier County. With six routes of different lengths, including a new 38-mile gravel and paved combination, riders of all levels will enjoy a scenic trek through the countryside or by De Queen Lake. Routes include a 15-mile, 25-mile, 36-mile, 38-mile, 47-mile ride and a new 100-mile option.

This year there will be a new finish-line celebration, sponsored by Healthcare Express and post-meal for participants.

Chamber officials invite riders to bring the whole family and enjoy the vendor and craft booths – and the youngest riders can bring their tricycles and ride in the Pop-cycle Trike Ride around the courthouse square. This event will start at 11:00 a.m.

For more information, contact the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce at dqchamber@gmail.com or call (870) 584-3225.

Register online with BikeReg for this year’s Tour De Queen Bike Ride at www.bikereg.com. Register by this Friday, October 15 for a free event t-shirt.

Today is last day to avoid tax penalty     10/15/21

DE QUEEN – Arkansas residents and property owners have just today left to pay their personal and real property taxes and avoid the state’s 10 percent late penalty.

Tax collector’s offices are open through 4:30 p.m. today to process payments.

Taxpayers in Sevier County that they can pay their taxes online at tax.countyservice.net/sevier

The Sevier County collector’s office will be closed Oct. 18 through Oct. 22 in order to prepare the delinquent tax list. The office will return to normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. after Oct. 22.

In Little River County, pay online by visiting Arkansas.gov and choosing the online services tab. Taxpayers and also mail in personal checks or pay in person at the Little River County Courthouse.

Bond set at $250,000 for Sevier County man charged with rape     10/13/21

DE QUEEN – Bond has been set for a Sevier County man facing a felony rape charge following an investigation by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office late last month.

According to records with the Sevier County Circuit Court, bond was set at $250,000 for 64-year-old Dennis Hale and a no contact order established between him and the victim.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, Investigator Brian Hankins received information from the Arkansas State Police Hotline on Sept. 22 regarding a juvenile in Sevier County who was sexually assaulted.

That information allowed officers to obtain a search warrant on the home of Hale, who was named as the suspect. Officers of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, the Arkansas State Police and the Ninth West Judicial Task Force conducted the search warrant.

Hale is facing a single count of rape, a Class Y felony that, upon conviction, can carry a sentence of 10-40 years in prison. He was also charged this week with a one count of manufacturing a controlled substance. Hale is scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 21.

Greg Ray is first Sevier County Judge to serve as officer on CJAA     10/13/21

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Judge Greg Ray has been selected as the first county judge from Sevier County to serve as an officer on the County Judges’ Association of Arkansas (CJAA).

Ray was official sworn in late last month as second vice-president of the organization. The County Judge’s Association of Arkansas provides a platform of cooperative support and information for county judges, according to the organization’s website. The association also supports the idea that all elected officials must have the opportunity to act together to solve mutual issues as a unified group in Arkansas.

No county judge from Sevier has ever served in an officer capacity on the association. Ray said the opportunity is both humbling and one he is excited to take.

As second vice-president Ray said he hopes to bring more attention to and understanding of Sevier County, including its opportunities and challenges. Ray is set to takeover the association’s presidency following his term as second and first vice-president.

2024 Eclipse meeting tonight in DQ     10/13/21

DE QUEEN – In just a reminder that local organizers behind efforts to highlight Sevier County’s prime watch location for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse will host an informational meeting tonight for local business owners and community members.

The meeting is specifically focusing on local business owners, landowners and anyone interested in the 2024 eclipse. Brook Kaufman, CEO of Visit Casper Wyoming is scheduled to speak on her city’s experience being in the path of totality during the 2017 eclipse.

Between 30,000 to 50,000 are estimated to be in Sevier and surrounding counties during the eclipse in 2024. Why so many, some might ask? Well, Gillham is expected to experience the longest duration of total darkness in Arkansas on April 8, 2024, and while that seems a long way away, preparations are underway to get Sevier County ready for the big event.

Organizers say anyone interested in learning more about the eclipse and how it can benefit local tourism will not want to miss this informative Q & A session with Brook.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. tonight at the De Queen High School cafeteria. For more information, contact Eclipse2024 Planner, Montana Frachiseur at Montana.Frachiseur@pilgrims.com.

Early registration ends Friday for 10th Tour De Queen     10/13/21

DE QUEEN – Registration remains open for the 10th annual Tour De Queen bike ride hosted by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.

The event is scheduled for Nov. 6 and will begin at the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce office in downtown De Queen. Pre-registration is $40 and $45 on the day of the ride.

The yearly bicycle event draws in dozens of riders both locally and from across the state for a number of challenging but scenic rides through Sevier County. With six routes of different lengths, including a new 38-mile gravel and paved combination, riders of all levels will enjoy a scenic trek through the countryside or by De Queen Lake. Routes include a 15-mile, 25-mile, 36-mile, 38-mile, 47-mile ride and a new 100-mile option.

This year there will be a new finish-line celebration, sponsored by Healthcare Express and post-meal for participants.

Chamber officials invite riders to bring the whole family and enjoy the vendor and craft booths – and the youngest riders can bring their tricycles and ride in the Pop-cycle Trike Ride around the courthouse square. This event will start at 11:00 a.m.

For more information, contact the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce at dqchamber@gmail.com or call (870) 584-3225.

Register online with BikeReg for this year’s Tour De Queen Bike Ride at www.bikereg.com. Register by this Friday, October 15 for a free event t-shirt.

Sevier County Quorum Court passes loud music ordinance     10/11/21

By Patrick Massey, News Director

Edit: Some names have been removed from this story due to personal harassment against them and their family. 

DE QUEEN – For the first time in known history, the unincorporated areas of Sevier County are now regulated by a loud noise ordinance.

The ordinance passed during yesterday’s meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court. Justices of the peace heard from a group of residents from the Bellah Mine area, who described the loud music played often and at late hours of night from a nearby event center.

The group also brought with them over a dozen affidavits from nearby residents sharing similar complaints. They said the music can be heard inside her home and that other neighbors have stated their children are unable to sleep due to the volume of music. Despite attempts to address the issue with the event venue, the residents said extremely loud music late at night and early in the morning remains an ongoing problem.

Sheriff Robert Gentry introduced a proposed ordinance outlining how other counties have implemented loud noise ordinances. The one presented yesterday would prohibit “loud and disturbing noises” between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between midnight and 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Fines would total $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for additional violations.

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The quorum court passed the ordinance unanimously, establishing the first loud music ordinance in the county. Municipalities in Sevier County, including De Queen, Horatio and Lockesburg, already have similar ordinances on record.

The quorum court also discussed amending the new ordinance at next month’s meeting. Justices of the peace said they would consider extending the ordinance to all of Sevier County, not just the unincorporated areas. In addition, the quorum court will consider establishing a guideline for law enforcement to determine when music is too loud. In De Queen, music can be deemed too loud during quiet hours if it can be heard more than 50 feet away.

In other business, Sheriff Gentry outlined his department’s pursuit guidelines for justices of the peace. He said the department’s policies are drafted from the Arkansas State Police. Those include the requirement that deputies weigh the hazards of pursuing a suspect who flees in a vehicle.

Gentry said other factors include the level of the suspect’s offense and if the suspect is already known to law enforcement. If the suspect is known and the offense is a misdemeanor, Gentry said deputies may choose to break off the pursuit and arrest the individual at their home after obtaining a warrant. Gentry added supervision is maintained over pursuits by either himself or Chief Deputy Chad Dowdle.

Finally, yesterday’s meeting included Marilyn Archer filling the position on the quorum court previously held by her late husband, Mike Archer. Mike Archer served 26 years on the quorum court before his passing earlier this year. Marilyn Archer is seeking an appointment to the quorum court from Gov. Asa Hutchinson to fill out the remaining term. She would be unable to seek reelection next year once that term expires.

The quorum court is scheduled to meet again Nov. 8.

Minority Affairs Council recognizes DQPD Officer Elizondo Gilberto     10/11/21

Submitted by Murriel Wiley of the Minority Affairs Council
The Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas (MAC) partnered with local companies who donated certificates and items that were collected for a gift basket and presented to Patrolman Gilberto Elizondo of the De Queen Police Department on Friday, Oct. 8.

DE QUEEN – In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, a local inclusive group teamed up with area businesses to show appreciation for one stand-out officer in De Queen last week.

The Minority Affairs Council of Southwest Arkansas (MAC) partnered with local companies who donated certificates and items that were collected for a gift basket and presented to Patrolman Gilberto Elizondo of the De Queen Police Department on Friday, Oct. 8.

The group selected Gilberto because of his dedication to helping the community and the positive example he has set for others. Prior to working for the De Queen Police Department, he was employed at the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department as a Detention Officer. For both agencies, Gilberto has assisted with translating Spanish and English when a language barrier occurs between law enforcement and residents.

In addition to helping translate, the patrolman also serves as a role model for younger generations to look up to, as he graduated from both De Queen High School and Southern Arkansas University before becoming a public servant in his hometown.

As many cities note rising tension between community members and law enforcement agencies, MAC is working on efforts to connect groups and individuals in the Southwest Arkansas area. The non-profit’s first community project was commissioning the “Welcome to De Queen” mural painted by Artist Darlene Taylor on the Eastern Edge of town. In addition to showing appreciation for local leaders like Elizondo and bringing fresh art to the area, MAC leaders say they are working to develop events and strategies to help unite the community as a whole.

The Minority Affairs Council can be found on Facebook or reached by email at @DQunity@gmail.com

Gillham will be highlight of 2024 Solar Eclipse; information meeting scheduled this Wednesday     10/11/21

By Patrick Massey, News Director

DE QUEEN – Gillham is likely to be a busy place in April 2024.

That’s because Gillham, located just past the Polk County line in Sevier County, is going to be one of the best places in the country to view the 2024 total solar eclipse, which will occur on the afternoon of April 8, 2024.

The predicted path of the solar eclipse shows Gillham exactly in the line of totality – meaning the sun will be entirely eclipsed by the moon, turning day into night.

Nowhere in the region will the eclipse be more total and for a longer period of time than in Gillham. Eclipse2024.org, a website dedicated to the event, lists Gillham as the location in Arkansas with the greatest length of totality at four minutes, 18.7 seconds. The entire path of totality will only be around 120 miles wide. Outside of that swath the eclipse will be only partially visible.

Of course, other communities in the path will be able to view the solar eclipse as it occurs. Mena is set to see around four minutes and six seconds of the total eclipse. But, given the rarity of these events, every second counts. And with Gillham leading the state for the time of totality, visitors far and wide are likely to descend on the community in hopes of catching every moment of the eclipse.

The last total solar eclipse to occur in the United States was in 2017. Prior to this event, no solar eclipse had been visible across the entirety of the United States since 1918. The 2017 eclipse was the first in the era of social media and modern communications and saw correspondingly huge interest. Millions of people traveled across the country to catch a glimpse.

According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s population was doubled, maybe tripled by travelers from the U.S. and across the globe – all seeking to catch as much of the total solar eclipse as they could.

Besides the lengthy path it will take across the United States, the 2024 solar eclipse is likely to be a popular one for another reason: it’ll be the last one to touch North America until 2033. The only state that sees totality then will be Alaska, and the weather prospects for March in the Arctic will make this one a true challenge to view. After that, the eclipse will occur in 2044 and again in 2045. In other words, the 2024 solar eclipse won’t be one to miss.

So, ok, maybe it’s a little early to be too excited about an event nearly three years from now. But those who’ve experienced them say it’s a moment not to miss – and one you can’t prepare too early for.

Besides descending the afternoon to darkness, solar eclipses are known to cause a few funky things to happen. Solar power stations are likely to see a quick drop in energy output while certain flowers such as hibiscus can be seen withdrawing their leaves as if it was night. Animals, too, will act a little funny during the unexpected drop in light levels, such as chickens performing activities they only do shortly before entering their coop for the night.

Fortunately, everyone’s going to have plenty time to prepare for the 2024 eclipse. Starting scheduling those vacation days and lining up your favorite place to watch the sky.

And until then, you can learn nearly everything you need to know about this cosmological event – from the proper eye protection to simulated views of the eclipse for each impacted city – at www.eclipse2024.org.

For those wanting to find out more about the eclipse in person, a group of interested eclipse watchers will host a meeting in De Queen this Wednesday, Oct. 13. Brook Kaufman, CEO of Visit Casper Wyoming is scheduled to speak on her city’s experience being in the path of totality during the 2017 eclipse. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the De Queen High School Cafeteria. The meeting is specifically focusing on local business owners, landowners and anyone interested in the 2024 eclipse. For more information, contact Eclipse2024 Planner, Montana Frachiseur at Montana.Frachiseur@pilgrims.com.

Muzzleloader season kicks off this weekend in Arkansas     10/11/21

By Patrick Massey, News Director

DE QUEEN – The deer woods are about to get busier with the start of muzzleloader season this weekend.

Muzzleloader season kicks off this Saturday, Oct. 16 across the state. Although archery season went into effect several weeks back, Arkansas’ deer woods start to see a lot more action once muzzleloaders are allowed. Muzzleloaders are permitted for hunting deer in Zone 13 Oct. 16-24 and again – for hunters in Zone 14 – from Dec. 18-20.

Sevier County is split between two zones regulated by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission: Zone 13 which covers northern Sevier and southern Polk Counties, and Zone 14, which includes the rest of Sevier County and northern Little River.

Bag limits are different in Sevier County depending which of those two zones you hunt. In Zone 13, the limit is five. In Zone 14, that limit is four.

While Zone 13 has fewer muzzleloader days than Zone 14, it does have an extended modern gun season. Modern guns are allowed across the state beginning Nov. 13. In Zone 14, that season ends Dec. 12 and doesn’t restart until the three-day modern gun season in late December. Modern gun hunters in Zone 13 will also get that three-day late December hunt, but also have between Nov. 13 and Dec. 19.

A special youth modern gun hunt is scheduled in both zones Nov. 6-7 and again Jan. 1-2 early next year.

Visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s website for a full listing of those guidelines at AGFC.com

Ashdown Homecomign scheduled for week of Oct. 29     10/11/21

Submitted by Ronda Pounds of Ashdown Public Schools

ASHDOWN – Ashdown Public Schools is ready to jam it out for 2021 Homecoming with its “Come Face the Music” playlist.

Ashdown Public Schools will be cheering on the Panthers the week of Oct. 29 with a homecoming week mixtape, including “’Merica Monday” when everyone will be all decked out in their red, white, and blue with the song R.O.C.K. in the USA by John Mellencamp; Tuesday will be “Team Tuesday” when school staff and students will represent their favorite sports teams to the tune of Centerfield by John Fogerty; Wednesday’s jam will be 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton. This day is “Workforce Wednesday” and everyone will be dressing for the job they want. “Thriller Thursday” features Michael Jackson’s hit, and Halloween costumes can be worn.  Friday will be “Victory Friday” and all will be wearing their purple and gold showing their Panther Pride.  That tune on the playlist will be Sweet Victory by Bob Kulick and David Glen Eisley.

Homecoming activities for the week will include district-wide campus spirit dress-up days, class spirit banners, class food drive contest, powder-puff football game with a cheerleading contest, and the homecoming parade.  The Grand Marshal for this year’s parade will be Coach David Wilson.

The AHS Student Council will have their annual Powder Puff Game at Dick Hays Stadium Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $3 for everyone attending since this is a fundraiser for the AHS Student Council.

Ashdown Public School campuses will dismiss at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 29.  The daytime presentation of the AHS Homecoming Royalty will begin at 12 p.m. Following the presentation there will be a brief pep rally and parade.  Anyone who wishes to participate in the parade must contact Carla Alexander at 870-898-3562 to sign up for the parade and receive a line-up number.

Evening coronation activities will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Dick Hays Stadium where the 2021 Homecoming Royalty will be presented and the queen and maid of honor will be announced.

Kick-off for the Ashdown Panthers vs. Robinson Senators is 7 p.m.  All Ashdown fans are invited to come out and support the Panthers.

Homecoming is a time for AHS alumni to reunite and celebrate. This year, Classes that end in “1” will be recognized and each is encouraged to enter a float in the parade on Friday afternoon and sit together during the game.

De Queen Dance scheduled for Nov. 13     10/11/21

DE QUEEN – HealthCARE Express will host the De Queen Street Dance next month for a night of live music, food, assisting veterans and more.

The locally-based healthcare provider announced the event is scheduled for Nov. 13 from 5-10 p.m. that evening.

In addition to live music, dancing, arts, crafts, shopping, food, and fun, owners Hector and Christy Gallego said the primary purpose for hosting this Street Dance is to collect nonperishable food items that will be donated to the American Legion and help bring awareness to their mission to aid veterans in the De Queen Community.

All area businesses and community organizations are invited to join organizers at this family friendly event. Those who would like to be a vendor at the De Queen Street Dance can request a form by calling Ashley Dotson at (430) 242-0348.

Each vendor will receive a 10’ x 10’ booth space, specific site locations will be first come first served, and set up will be from 2-4 p.m. on Nov. 13 on W. De Queen Ave. Hector Gallego said HealthCARE Express is veteran owned, veteran ran, and takes a great deal of pride in supporting Veterans services like the American Legion.

City of Lockesburg to host public hearing this evening     10/11/21

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

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

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

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

For more information contact Mayor Danny Ruth at Lockesburg City Hall by calling (870) 289-3261.

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

Lockesburg FBC hosting Sports Banquet this weekend     10/11/21

LOCKESBURG – First Baptist Church of Lockesburg will host a Sports Banquet next Saturday, Oct. 16 and all area sports enthusiasts are invited.

The event is set to begin at 5 p.m. at the church located at 3466 S. Camellia Street in Lockesburg. Organizers say if you hunt, fish, participate in basketball, football, golf or any other sport, then this is an event you’ll want to attend.

Prizes will include a Weatherby .243-caliber rifle, a Weatherby 12-gauge shotgun and a Ruger Western Style .22-caliber pistol.

The banquet will also feature guest speaker Chuck McAlister, founder of the hunting program, Adventure Bound Outdoors.

Rep. Vaught shares state redistricting proposal, outlines new vaccine-related bills     10/11/21

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

This week, the House passed legislation outlining new boundaries for Arkansas’ four congressional districts.  HB1982 and SB743 are identical bills that divide the state into the following districts:

The first congressional district includes the counties of Arkansas, Baxter, Boone, Chicot, Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Desha, Fulton, Greene, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Lee, Lincoln, Lonoke, Marion, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett, Prairie, Randolph, St. Francis, Searcy, Sharp, Stone, and Woodruff. It also includes and a portion of Pulaski County.

The second congressional district will include the counties of Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Perry, Saline, Van Buren, White, and a large portion of Pulaski County.

The third congressional district will include the counties of Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Madison, Washington, and a portion of Sebastian County.

The fourth congressional district will include Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Clark, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Drew, Franklin, Garland, Grant, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Jefferson, Johnson, Lafayette, Little River, Logan, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Pike, Polk, Pope, Scott, Sevier, Union, Yell and portion of Pulaski and Sebastian Counties.

We have posted the map proposed in the legislation at www.arkansashouse.org.

The bills have now been sent to the Governor’s desk.

This week, the House also passed HB1977 and SB739. These bills state that an employer that requires vaccination or immunization for COVID-19 for its employees shall provide specific exemption processes outlined in the legislation.

The bills state the exemption process shall include options that allow the employee to produce either:

A negative antigen detection test result or molecular diagnostic test result no more than one time per week showing that the employee is not positive for COVID-19; or

Proof of immunity for the virus that causes COVID-19 or its variants, including without limitation the presence of antibodies, T cell response, or proof of a positive COVID-19 or its variants test, on a basis of two times per year from a licensed healthcare provider.

The House will be in recess unless the Speaker called us back to the Capitol to address any errors or consider any vetoes. If we are not called back to the Capitol, the 2021 Regular Session will officially adjourn on October 15.

SCMC officials introduce new CNO, announce launch of website     10/08/21

DE QUEEN – Those interested in finding employment at the new Sevier County Medical Center now have a process for applying with the launch of the hospital’s new website.

Hospital CEO Lori House announced during yesterday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors that the website had gone live earlier that morning atwww.seviercountymedical.com. One of the sections area residents may find most interesting is the careers page. There, people can submit their cover letters and resumes to begin the application process. The hospital will offer around 120 fulltime positions when it opens next spring.

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Stacy Dowdy was officially introduced at yesterday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center as the new hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer. A graduate of Horatio High School, Dowdy received her nursing degree from Arkansas State University where she is now pursuing a masters in health administration. As chief nursing officer, Dowdy will manage the hospital’s nursing staff.Yesterday’s meeting also included an introduction of Stacy Dowdy, the hospital’s recently-hired chief nursing officer. A graduate of Horatio High School, Dowdy received her nursing degree from Arkansas State University where she is now pursuing a masters in health administration. She was previously employed by Howard Memorial Hospital and set up the center’s allergy department. As chief nursing officer, Dowdy will manage the hospital’s nursing staff.

Dowdy took a moment after yesterday’s meeting to share some details on her background, her role at the Sevier County Medical Center and her goals for the new hospital.

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Hospital officials also reported another strong sales tax collection totaling nearly $193,000 in September. House said those figures show a continued commitment by area residents to shopping locally. She also discussed how vital those funds will be for the hospital when it opens next May.

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Hospital officials discussed several other topics at yesterday’s meeting, including increasing the number of charging ports for electric vehicles. The increasing popularity of electric vehicles will make additional charging ports necessary, several board members said. House also provided a brief construction update, stating the hospital was nearing 70 percent completion and that work on the roof was nearly finished.

The hospital board of governors is set to meet again next month.

49th annual Cossatot Art Show begins today     10/08/21

KING – The Cossatot Arts and Crafts Association’s annual King Art Show is scheduled to kick off today and will continue throughout the weekend for all area fans of art and photography. The show will be held Oct. 8-10 at the Cossatot Art Center located in the former King School House in the King community between De Queen and Gillham.

Each year the art show features a wide variety of two-dimensional art and photography entries in both youth and adult categories. The annual art show, which draws in hundreds of youth and adult artists from across the region, is back for its 49th show this year.
The art show will kicks off for the public at 10 a.m. today and continues through five this evening. Those hours are the same on Saturday, Oct. 9 while the art show’s final day will run from 12 noon to 3:30 on Sunday, Oct. 10. Join us from The Morning Brew Crew as we go live on remote at the Cossatot Art Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. We’ll be giving away cash and prizes while highlighting the role of the King Art Show and the Cossatot Arts and Crafts Association.

Tonight is Homecoming at Cossatot River High School     10/08/21

WICKES – It’s Homecoming Week at Cossatot River High School.

Events kicked off Thursday night with a presentation of the 2021 Homecoming Court and the 7th-9th grade Black and Silver basketball games.

The ceremonies continue tonight at 4:30 p.m. for the annual Senior Chicken Dinner. The Cossatot River High School Class of 2022 will be serving up some delicious food to fund senior trip expenses.

Tonight, starting at 5 p.m., the community is invited to come out and experience the formal presentation of the Cossatot River High School Homecoming Court and the crowning of the 2021 Homecoming Queen and Princess.

At 5:45 p.m., the 10th-12th grade Black and Silver Basketball Games will be held.

And then, at around 7:30 p.m., the Cossatot River High School will host the Black and Silver Dance. All Cossatot River High School Students in grades 7-12 are invited to attend. Tickets are $3 in advance and $5 at the door. The dance will end at 9:30 p.m.

This year’s 2021 Homecoming Court includes Junior Maids Rynlee Richardson, Liliana Gasca, Leslie Esquivel, Victoria Squires, Kaylee Ward, Dani Atchley and Jasmine Wilkinson. Senior High Maids are Lyla Baker, Sherlyn Brito, Laura Flores, Caylynn Burke, Rendi Warren, Alyssa Wilson, Reagan Bills, BreAnna Hutson, Eden Parks and Emily Ugarte.

Area sports enthusiasts invited to Sports Banquet Oct. 16    10/08/21

LOCKESBURG – First Baptist Church of Lockesburg will host a Sports Banquet next Saturday, Oct. 16 and all area sports enthusiasts are invited.

The event is set to begin at 5 p.m. at the church located at 3466 S. Camellia Street in Lockesburg. Organizations say if you hunt, fish, participate in basketball, football, golf or any other sport, then this is an even you’ll want to attend.

Prizes will include a Weatherby .243-caliber rifle, a Weatherby 12-gauge shotgun and a Ruger Western Style .22-caliber pistol.

The banquet will also feature guest speaker Chuck McAlister, founder of the hunting program, Adventure Bound Outdoors.

City of Lockesburg hosting public hearing over grant proposal     10/08/21

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

In a press release the city said the meeting will also focus on whether the city should develop an Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program grant and, if so, for what community needs. This grant program uses grants and loans from federal funds received by the State of Arkansas.

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

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

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

For more information contact Lockesburg City Hall at (870) 289-3261.

American Legion muzzleloader shoot is Saturday at 4-H Shooting Range     10/08/21

DE QUEEN – The American Legion Post 54 here in De Queen will host a Muzzleloader shooting competition tomorrow morning with a bunch of prizes for winners to take home.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 noon this Saturday at the 4-H Shooting Range on Highway 71, across from Avon Cemetery north of De Queen. Competitors will get ten shots on targets ranging from 10 to 100 yards. Test your skills, earn bragging rights and prepare for the upcoming deer muzzleloader season. Participants can enter up to two times to increase their score. Entry fee is $10.

The top shooter will win a .50 caliber Traditions Buckstalker muzzleloader with scope, a $350 value. Second place will receive a $100 gift certificate for De Queen Auto Group. Cash and gift certificates will also be awarded up to seventh place along with numerous door prizes.

Proceeds will be used for local American Legion Projects. For additional information, contact Lefty at (870) 784-3345.

Join Cossatot River State Park staff Oct. 9 for annual Fall River Cleanup     10/08/21

WICKES – Cossatot River State Park and Natural Area is inviting everyone in the area to its annual Fall River Cleanup this weekend to help ensure one of Arkansas’ most gorgeous parks stays that way.

The park is hosting this year’s Fall River Cleanup on Saturday, Oct. 9 from 1-4 p.m.. Everyone is invited to join staff at Cossatot River State Park for this event, sponsored through the Keep Arkansas Beautiful campaign.

Organizers say a clean, beautiful park is something everyone can enjoy and be proud of to experience with future generations.

Refreshments will be provided to volunteers during the event.

Volunteers will help clean up the wild and scenic Cossatot River, access points and surrounding roadways. Registration will be held at the Cossatot River Visitor Center. Park staff will provide trash bags, gloves, safety vests and other supplies. Volunteers should bring snacks, water and pick-up sticks or grabbers.

Park staff highly recommend volunteers wear boots for this event.

For more information contact the park at (870) 385-2201. Everyone is asked to meet at the Cossatot River Visitor Center.

Cossatot River State Park and Natural Area is located 12 miles east of Wickes on Highway 278.

And if you’re unable to make it to this cleanup event, no worries – more cleanup activities are scheduled across the region and state as part of this year’s Keep Arkansas Beautiful campaign.

Arkansans across the state are encouraged to get outside and participate in local cleanup efforts throughout the fall season.

Organized by KAB, the Keep America Beautiful™ Great American Cleanup® in Arkansas continues with various cleanup, beautification and recycling efforts will be held across the state until Oct. 31.

During the nation’s largest community improvement effort, Arkansans volunteer annually to clean up and beautify their communities throughout a multitude of cleanup events.

Communities and groups are invited to sign up to organize a local cleanup this year at www.keeparkansasbeautiful.com. There, volunteers can also find local cleanups on the calendar of events.

During KAB’s two annual cleanup events last year, volunteers removed 410,197 pounds of bulky waste across 1,038 miles of roadside, 116 miles of waterway and shorelines, and 671 acres of parks and public areas. Arkansans also collected 3,496 tires, recycled 19,904 pounds of electronics and planted 384 trees, shrubs and flowers.

Third annual October Cruise Over in Lockesburg this Saturday     10/08/21

LOCKESBURG – The third annual October Cruise Over is set for tomorrow in Lockesburg. The public is invited to come out to the Ida Margaret Coulter Stone Park to check out the car show, which is expected to draw out dozens of custom cars, trucks and bikes. Registration will begin at eight tomorrow morning with an awards ceremony set for 3 p.m. The car show will feature concessions, entertainment, activities and door prizes throughout the day. Cost to register a vehicle is $20 on the day of the show.

Proceeds from the event will go to serve the local Masonic Scholarship Fund and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. For more information contact Rodney Whisenhunt at (870) 451-3273 or Mark King at (870) 200-1337.

U.S. District Judge rules against Ashdown in suit against Netflix, Hulu     10/07/21

ASHDOWN – A lawsuit filed by the City of Ashdown against Netflix and Hulu with the aim of securing revenue from the video streaming services has been dismissed in a federal court.

U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey dismissed the lawsuit last week, telling plaintiffs they were not entitled to revenue from video streaming companies like Netflix or Hulu despite their use of broadband infrastructure located in public right-of-ways.

According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, a number of similar lawsuits have been filed in other states criticizing the use of broadband infrastructure without paying additional use fees. The City of Ashdown had hoped to expand its case into a class-action suit with other “Arkansas municipalities in which one or more of the defendants has provided video service.”

Judge Hickey cited the 2013 Video Service Act as grounds for the dismissal, as it allows “video service providers to avoid the need to negotiate separate authorization” from each municipality or government within their networks.

Sevier County Quorum Court to discuss possible ordinance on noise regulations in county     10/07/21

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet in regular session on Monday, Oct. 11 starting at 2 p.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse.

Following an update from Hospital CEO Lori House and Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry on the sheriff department’s policies, Justices of the Peace are set to hear a request to discuss an ordinance seeking to prohibit “loud and disturbing” noises in the unincorporated areas of Sevier County.

Currently no such ordinance is in place.

The quorum court is also scheduled to hear a request for an additional $35,680 appropriation to purchase a new vehicle for the sheriff’s department. This appropriation would be to replace a vehicle totaled following a high speed pursuit last month.

Finally, justices of the peace will also vote on a proposed ordinance allowing for the sale of county election equipment that is nearing obsolescence.

Sevier County landowners invited to feral hog workshop Thursday night     10/07/21

LOCKESBURG – Members of the De Queen-based Natural Resources Conservation Service will host a workshop this evening to connect area landowners with services aimed at helping combat the spread of feral hogs.

The event will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. tonight at the Jackson-Culp Fellowship Hall in the United First Methodist Church of Lockesburg on 318 E. Walnut in Lockesburg. The event is free to attend and will include dinner, but everyone interested is asked to RSVP by calling Robin Stacey at (870) 584-3111 ext. 101 or at 584-9512.

Stacey, who heads the local NRCS office and is administering a new feral hog trapping program in Sevier County, said the informational meeting will focus on helping landowners reduce the scourge of feral hogs on their property. She recently spoke with us about tomorrow’s meeting and the local hog trapping program.

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Stacey stressed the feral hog trapping program in Sevier County, along with two similar operations in Hempstead and Howard Counties, are part of a pilot program to reduce the financial and environmental impact of feral hogs in Arkansas and the broader region. Because it is a pilot and relatively experimental program funded by a federal grant, Stacey said the public’s participation is necessary to ensure its success.

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In all, the program has successfully trapped and eradicated around a thousand hogs in Sevier County since its inception last year.

Again, Sevier County landowners are welcomed and encouraged to attend tonight’s feral swine workshop by RSVPing at (870) 584-3111 ext. 101 or 584-9512. More information on the feral hog trapping program is also available by calling those numbers.

State health officials note dramatic increase in childhood hospitalizations due to COVID     10/07/21

Arkansas health officials are noting a dramatic increase in child hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

During the state’s weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Jose Romero said hospitalizations among Arkansas children numbered 142 in August of this year as compared to 77 in December of 2020 – an increase of more than 84 percent. Romero added that vaccinations remain available for all Arkansas children aged 12 and up.

“I want parents to understand that there is vaccine available for those individuals ages 12 to 18, that this is the way to prevent this type of admission, that this disease does have significant ramifications,” Romero said. “The purpose of this is to dispel some of the myths that this is benign disease in childhood.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson also spoke of his recent trip to the U.S./Mexico border to detail the developing immigration crisis, and the role played by Arkansas National Guardsmen deployed to the region.

“There is a crisis at the border,” Hutchinson said. “It is a humanitarian crisis, it is a border security crisis, and it is a public health crisis all combined into one… With the resources that are being put particularly from the states combined with what we have from the border patrol, they will make a difference.”

Regarding the state’s COVID-19 figures, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 882 new cases on Wednesday for a total of just under 500,000 since the pandemic began. Active cases fell by 217 on Wednesday for a current total of 7,879 across the state. Deaths increased by six over the same period for 7,781 since the spring of 2020. Hospitalizations fell by 40 to leave 624 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

As of Wednesday afternoon more than 1.3 million Arkansans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Cossatot River State Park to host Fall River Cleanup this weekend     10/07/21

WICKES – Cossatot River State Park and Natural Area is inviting everyone in the area to its annual Fall River Cleanup this weekend to help ensure one of Arkansas’ most gorgeous parks stays that way.

The park is hosting this year’s Fall River Cleanup on Saturday, Oct. 9 from 1-4 p.m. Everyone is invited to join staff at Cossatot River State Park for this event, sponsored through the Keep Arkansas Beautiful campaign.

Organizers say a clean, beautiful park is something everyone can enjoy and be proud of to experience with future generations.

Refreshments will be provided to volunteers during the event.

Volunteers will help clean up the wild and scenic Cossatot River, access points and surrounding roadways. Registration will be held at the Cossatot River Visitor Center. Park staff will provide trash bags, gloves, safety vests and other supplies. Volunteers should bring snacks, water and pick-up sticks or grabbers.

Park staff highly recommend volunteers wear boots for this event.

For more information contact the park at (870) 385-2201. Everyone is asked to meet at the Cossatot River Visitor Center.

Cossatot River State Park and Natural Area is located 12 miles east of Wickes on Highway 278.

And if you’re unable to make it to this cleanup event, no worries – more cleanup activities are scheduled across the region and state as part of this year’s Keep Arkansas Beautiful campaign.

Arkansans across the state are encouraged to get outside and participate in local cleanup efforts throughout the fall season.

Organized by KAB, the Keep America Beautiful™ Great American Cleanup® in Arkansas continues with various cleanup, beautification and recycling efforts will be held across the state until Oct. 31.

During the nation’s largest community improvement effort, Arkansans volunteer annually to clean up and beautify their communities throughout a multitude of cleanup events.

Communities and groups are invited to sign up to organize a local cleanup this year at www.keeparkansasbeautiful.com. There, volunteers can also find local cleanups on the calendar of events.

During KAB’s two annual cleanup events last year, volunteers removed 410,197 pounds of bulky waste across 1,038 miles of roadside, 116 miles of waterway and shorelines, and 671 acres of parks and public areas. Arkansans also collected 3,496 tires, recycled 19,904 pounds of electronics and planted 384 trees, shrubs and flowers.

SWAR is one of best places to see annual fall foliage     10/07/21

MENA – Get ready, one of the best shows in Arkansas is almost here.

That is, of course, fall foliage. Every autumn nature paints the mountains and valleys of the Ouachitas here in our corner of the state with incredible hues of gold, red and orange. Thousands of visitors travel here each fall to see the transformation.

Fortunately, area residents don’t have to look far to experience this gorgeous time of year.

The Ouachitas are right at the cusp of the seasonal color change, with the most dramatic displays of fall foliage predicted by Arkansas Tourism to occur between mid- and late-October.

The Talimena National Scenic Byway offers spectacular panoramic views of the Ouachita National Forest. No doubt, both first time visitors and long-time residents of Polk County already know the Talimena National Scenic Byway is one of the most scenic drives in the state. The road goes for 54 miles along forested mountain tops between Mena in southwest Arkansas and Talihina, Okla. The drive is beautiful year-round and stands out in fall because of the color that can be seen there. In Mena, the route goes up Rich Mountain, Arkansas’ second-highest peak, and by Queen Wilhelmina State Park.

There is usually a period of a week or so when the fall foliage in a particular area is at its prime. Typically, the peak occurs around two or three weeks after color changes begin. However, note that these are not predictions.

For more information throughout the season, sign up for the fall color reports from across the state, special announcements and trip planning information. For more details, visit www.arkansas.com/things-to-do/attractions/fall-attractions.

It’s Fire Prevention Week in Arkansas: This year’s topic is smoke detectors    10/07/21

Over 94 fire departments across the state of Arkansas are teaming up with their local State Farm agents and the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) to promote this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety.

This year’s campaign continues through Oct. 9 and works to educate everyone about simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.

Fire departments and local State Farm agents encourage all residents to embrace the 2021 Fire Prevention Week theme. Over 94 agents across the state donated a Fire Prevention Week kit to their local fire department which included posters, promotional items, magnets and children’s activities.

Remember the following safety tips to help you “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety”:

-A continuous set of three loud beeps—beep, beep, beep—means smoke or fire. Get out, call 9-1-1, and stay out.

-A single chirp every 30 or 60 seconds means the battery is low and must be changed.

-All smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years.

-Chirping that continues after the battery has been replaced means the alarm is at the end of its life and the unit must be replaced.

-Make sure your smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.

For more general information about Fire Prevention Week and fire prevention in general, visit www.fpw.org.

Congressman Westerman visits SCMC as part of local tour     10/06/21

U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman, pictured third from right, speaks with local hospital representatives during a visit to De Queen on Monday. Westerman spoke on the economic and medical impact the new hospital will have for the region once completed next spring.DE QUEEN – Arkansas’ Fourth U.S. Congressional Representative Bruce Westerman stopped in De Queen on Monday to see progress on Sevier County’s new hospital and discuss the impact the facility will have on the local area’s medical and economic fronts.

Westerman met with members of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors as well as UA Cossatot student ambassadors during his tour of the Sevier County Medical Center. He took a moment to discuss the importance of the new hospital, from the medical services it will provide to the tremendous economic opportunities it will create once completed.

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Hospital officials say the facility is nearing 70 percent completion with an expected opening of May, 2022. The $20 million, 14-bed facility is being funded through a one-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2019.

Last month the hospital’s foundation received several sizeable donations, including $5,000 from the Collin Raye Concert Committee and $50,000 from SWEPCO for lobby and cafeteria furniture.

The hospital’s Board of Governors is set to meet again tomorrow where CEO Lori House will introduce the hospital’s new chief nursing officer, Stacy Dowdy.

Sevier County landowners invited to feral hog workshop Thursday night     10/06/21

LOCKESBURG – Members of the De Queen-based Natural Resources Conservation Service will host a workshop tomorrow to connect area landowners with services aimed at helping combat the spread of feral hogs.

The event will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. tomorrow night at the Jackson-Culp Fellowship Hall in the United First Methodist Church of Lockesburg on 318 E. Walnut in Lockesburg. The event is free to attend and will include dinner, but everyone interested is asked to RSVP by calling Robin Stacey at (870) 584-3111 ext. 101 or at 584-9512.

Stacey, who heads the local NRCS office and is administering a new feral hog trapping program in Sevier County, said the informational meeting will focus on helping landowners reduce the scourge of feral hogs on their property. She recently spoke with us about tomorrow’s meeting and the local hog trapping program.

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Stacey stressed the feral hog trapping program in Sevier County, along with two similar operations in Hempstead and Howard Counties, are part of a pilot program to reduce the financial and environmental impact of feral hogs in Arkansas and the broader region. Because it is a pilot and relatively experimental program funded by a federal grant, Stacey said the public’s participation is necessary to ensure its success.

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In all, the program has successfully trapped and eradicated around a thousand hogs in Sevier County since its inception last year.

Again, Sevier County landowners are welcomed and encouraged to attend tomorrow’s feral swine workshop by RSVPing at (870) 584-3111 ext. 101 or 584-9512. More information on the feral hog trapping program is also available by calling those numbers.

Two Southwest Arkansas residents to receive governor pardons     10/06/21

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced yesterday his intent to grant 15 pardons and one commutation. An additional 67 clemency requests were denied and one had no action taken upon them. These include requests from both inmates and non-inmates.

South Arkansas people receiving pardons include Jeri Suzan Hicks Owens, who was convicted in 1999 and 2000 on numerous felony hot check and financial fraud charges in several counties, including Sevier, Howard and Polk.

Ervin McAdams is also set to receive a pardon for a 1994 conviction in Little River County for burglary and theft of property. This notice is issued based on the date of conviction, the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

The applicants intended for pardons have completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole and probationary requirements, and paid all fines related to their sentences. There is a 30-day waiting period to receive public feedback on the notices before final action is taken.

10th annual Tour De Queen Bike Ride set for Nov. 6     10/06/21

DE QUEEN – Registration is open for the 10th annual Tour De Queen bike ride hosted by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.

The event is scheduled for Nov. 6 and will begin at the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce office in downtown De Queen.

The yearly bicycle event draws in dozens of riders both locally and from across the state for a number of challenging but scenic rides through Sevier County. With six routes of different lengths, including a new 38-mile gravel and paved combination, riders of all levels will enjoy a scenic trek through the countryside or by De Queen Lake. Routes include a 15-mile, 25-mile, 36-mile, 38-mile, 47-mile ride and a new 100-mile option.

This year there will be a new finish-line celebration, sponsored by Healthcare Express and post-meal for participants.

Chamber officials invite riders to bring the whole family and enjoy the vendor and craft booths – and the youngest riders can bring their tricycles and ride in the Pop-cycle Trike Ride around the courthouse square. This event will start at 11:00 a.m.

For more information, contact the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce at dqchamber@gmail.com or call (870) 584-3225.

Register online with BikeReg for this year’s Tour De Queen Bike Ride at www.bikereg.com/tourdequeen. Register by October 15 for a free event t-shirt.

Benefit set for Dierks man suffering from COVID-19 complications     10/06/21

DIERKS – A benefit dinner and auction will be held for a Dierks man later this month to help raise funds to cover medical expenses related to complications caused by COVID-19. The event is being held for Randy Hopkins on Oct. 23 at the Dierks City Park. The fundraiser will include a benefit dinner, silent auction and bake sale. Dinner includes chicken with baked beans, potato salad, roll and dessert for a minimum $8 donation.

Organizers say Hopkins tested positive for COVID-19 in July and subsequently developed COVID-19 pneumonia. He spent seven weeks at the VA hospital in Little Rock, including two weeks on a ventilator. He is currently receiving follow up treatment at Dierks Rehab and Nursing.

Anyone wanting to donate items for the auction or bake sale can reach out to Nelda Allen at (870) 584-9757, Hannah McClendon at (870) 542-4268 or Jessica Hopkins at (870) 315-6165.

Deadline is Oct. 12 for federal assistance for contract poultry growers     10/06/21

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

Up to $1 billion has been allocated through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to provide CFAP 2 payments to contract growers across the nation.

The payments are designed to assist with major disruptions to the poultry sector due to the ongoing pandemic.

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

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

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

Growers can sign up by completing a CFAP2 application at their local Farm Service Agency office. For more information, Sevier County residents can call the De Queen-based Farm Service Agency office at (870) 584-3537 ext. 2. In Little River, call (870) 898-3611 ext. 2 and in Howard County (870) 845-4121.

Healthy Connections now offering monoclonal antibody treatments     10/06/21

DE QUEEN – Healthy Connections Community Health Network announced it is now offering Regeneron Monoclonal Antibody Treatment for patients who believe they have been exposed to Covid-19. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, this treatment has been successful in many patients who are considered high risk for severe Covid-19, including hospitalization or death.

The treatments are being offered through Healthy Connection’s De Queen and other locations. Patients can call Healthy Connection’s hotline at 479-437-3300 for additional information.

Monoclonal antibodies are administered through a one-time intravenous (IV) infusion or subcutaneous injection in some cases. The IV infusion involves placing a needle in a vein and gradually sending the medicine through the IV and into the body.

The infusion takes between 20 and 50 minutes.

After the IV is removed, patients must wait at least one more hour so health care workers can watch for side effects or negative reactions.

Health experts stress monoclonal antibodies are not a substitution for the Covid-19 vaccination. More information can be found at  www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/covid-19-guidance-about-monoclonal-antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are synthetic versions of the body’s natural line of defense against severe infection — a therapy designed to send reinforcements for the immune system. The antibody treatment is meant for Covid-19 patients early in their infection.

Arvest to sell De Queen, Ashdown, Nashville and other branches to Farmers     10/04/21

FAYETTEVILLE – Arvest Bank has announced it is selling a number of its branches across the state, including several in the listening area.

The Fayetteville-based financial institution reported on Friday it will sell a total of 16 branches in Arkansas. Those include branches in De Queen, Dierks, Ashdown, Nashville, Broken Bow and Glenwood. All of those locations, as well as Arvest branches in Mount Ida and Paris, are set to be purchased by Farmers Bank and Trust.

Details of the purchase agreement have not been released.

49th King Art Show scheduled for this weekend; tomorrow is submission deadline     10/04/21

KING – Area artists and the community are reminded the Cossatot Arts and Crafts Association’s annual King Art Show is scheduled for this weekend. Organizers say the show will be held Oct. 8-10 at the Cossatot Art Center located in the former King School House in the King community between De Queen and Gillham.

Each year the art show features a wide variety of two-dimensional art and photography entries in both youth and adult categories. The annual art show, which draws in hundreds of youth and adult artists from across the region, was cancelled like so much else last year due to COVID-19. This year, however, the art show is back for its 49th show this year.

The art show will kick off for the public this Friday, Oct. 8 at 10 a.m. and continue through 5 p.m. Those hours are the same on Saturday, Oct. 9 while the art show’s final day will run from 12 noon to 3:30 on Sunday, Oct. 10.

Area artists are informed tomorrow is the last day to have your art and photography submissions entered for this year’s show. Art check in will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cossatot Art Center.

Ouachita National Forest to issue firewood permits again     10/04/21

MENA – Officials with the Ouachita National Forest are encouraging homeowners and others in need of firewood for the winter season to contact their local ranger district offices to apply for and purchase a firewood permit.

Many offices remain closed to the public and issue permits by appointment only. Contact the nearest ranger district office for more information. The Mena-Oden Ranger District can be reached by calling (479) 394-2382.

Firewood permits for personal use are available in many areas of the Arkansas and Oklahoma forests. They are sold in cubic feet, but in simple terms, 100 cubic feet is roughly equivalent to three-fourths of a cord of wood. A cord is made up of tightly stacked wood measuring 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long. The permit fee allows an individual or a family to cut and remove approximately three or four cords of firewood, depending on the national forest. Permits are for specific areas identified by local Ranger Districts and are issued in limited numbers based on availability and accessibility.

In an effort to stop the spread of invasive species, such as the emerald ash borer and the imported fire ant, permit holders in Arkansas and Oklahoma must abide by their respective state’s regulations. The Arkansas State Plant Board advises that firewood should be bought and used locally to prevent the spread of pests. Additionally, the Oklahoma Forestry Services strongly advises that in general, no firewood should be brought from out of state into Oklahoma, nor should residents of Oklahoma move firewood more than 50 miles from its source within the state.

For more information about firewood rules, regulations, recommendations, and pests of concern, visit https://www.dontmovefirewood.org/

Rep. Vaught Column: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month     10/04/21

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. That equates to more than 10 million women and men.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Communities and advocacy organizations across the country connect with the public and one another throughout the month to raise awareness about the signs of abuse and ways to stop it.

Arkansas legislators want to take this time to remind you about the new laws passed this year in an effort to prevent abuse and protect victims.

ACT 800 creates the Arkansas Phoenix Act of 2021, which amends the statute of limitations for offenses involving domestic violence and provides for training to be given to law enforcement officers on additional topics that arise in which domestic violence is suspected.

Act 1068 provides that a court may enter an order enjoining a party from engaging in course of control. The act defines course of control as a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with the free will and personal liberty of a person.

ACT 980 creates a mechanism to protect the address information of victims of domestic violence on all voter registration materials.

Act 913 provides that if a person requests from the Department of Finance and Administration the residence address of a driver’s license holder who participates in the address confidentiality program due to domestic violence, the department shall provide the information only if the person presents a current court order finding a compelling reason and the person has not been convicted of domestic violence against who the order of protection has been entered.

No person should be subjected to the fear, shame, and humiliation that an abusive relationship produces. And leaving those relationships is not easy.

If you are someone you know is impacted by domestic violence, visit www.laurascard.ar.gov today to find resources near you.

Hurrah Festival this weekend in De Queen     10/01/21

DE QUEEN – Get ready for a day of celebration of all things De Queen as the Sevier County Museum hosts the 31st annual Hurrah Festival tomorrow, Oct. 2.

Hurrah Festival has been happening in De Queen for over three decades with just one missed year – last year because, of course, COVID-19. Sevier County Museum Director Karen Mills admits she and museum officials weren’t sure if things would look any better. But the decision was made a couple of months ago to proceed with the festival. Mills said she was afraid vendors and activities would be reduced considering the pandemic is still with us, but in fact interest in the festival – and particularly among vendors – has been as strong as ever.

Of all those vendors, Mills said people are likely to be very interested in one category: the food. Food vendors at this year’s festival range from smoked brisket to Mexican food to hamburgers and BBQ.

This year’s Hurrah Festival kicks off a 9 a.m. and continues through 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon. For those looking to start a little earlier, members of the De Queen Rotary Club will be once again offering their traditional Hurrah Festival Breakfast between 7:30-9:30 a.m. to help everyone start off the festival right.

Mills said there are many reasons to come out to De Queen’s annual celebration of its history and their people. Whether you love local history or just enjoy a sense of community – especially after a year and a half with very little – then Mills said tomorrow’s Hurrah Festival is for you.

Main events will kick off with a veteran’s recognition parade at 9 a.m. All area veterans are invited to participate in the parade. The museum will also be displaying arts and crafts, hosting a spelling bee and providing a stage for local talent throughout the day. Blacksmithing, knifemaking and historical displays will also be featured at this year’s Hurrah Festival.

Museum officials stress Hurrah Festival is the Sevier County Museum’s most important fundraising event of the year. By attending the festival and supporting the vendors, everyone can help ensure local history is there for everyone to see and enjoy.

Everyone is invited to attend this year’s Hurrah Fesitval, scheduled for this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sevier County Museum Complex in Herman Dierks Park in De Queen. For more information contact Sevier County Museum Director Karen Mills at (870) 784-0039.

First ever Sevier County Chamber “Denim & Diamonds Gala” tomorrow     10/01/21

HORATIO – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce says tickets are still avaible for its first ever Denim & Diamonds Gala, set for tomorrow, Oct. 2, from 7-11 p.m. at the Rocky Hill Ranch Event Center.

Chamber officials are hosting a live band from the Hot Springs area and tickets include a catered appetizer buffet and an open bar serving cold beer and wine. Tickets are $75 per person and are on sale through tomorrow. The chamber is limiting the event to 200 tickets. Organizers say the event will be an entertaining night for all who attend. Attendees must be at least 21-years-old.

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

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

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

De Queen McDonald’s to host Coffee with a Cop Oct. 6     10/01/21

DE QUEEN – McDonald’s and the De Queen Police Department will celebrate National Coffee with a Cop Day on Wednesday, Oct. 6. As local small business owners, local McDonald’s owner/operator Celia Montgomery said she is always looking for opportunities to support the local community and this partnership with the De Queen Police Department will continue to build community relationships. Representatives from the De Queen Police Department will be greeting McDonald’s customers as they exit the drive-thru.

Customers are invited to come by between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6 to participate in this year’s Coffee with a Cop.

Largest diamond of the year so far found Sept. 23 at Crater State Park     10/01/21

The largest diamond found so far this year at Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfressboro was found just last week.

Noreen Wredberg of Granite Bay, Calif., found the 4.38-carat yellow diamond sitting on top of the ground within an hour of searching.

Since retiring in 2011, Noreen and her husband Michael have spent much of their leisure time traveling and visiting America’s National Parks. During a recent stop at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, Noreen realized that they were also close to another destination she had long wanted to visit, Crater of Diamonds State Park.

The couple arrived at Crater of Diamonds on Thursday, September 23, a sunny-but-cool fall morning. She started to search in a shaded area near the mine entrance, but her husband suggested they venture farther out.

His suggestion paid off about 40 minutes later. She was walking just north of a central pathway in the search area when she spotted the sparkling gem on top of the ground.

She gave the stone to her husband, who brought it to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center for identification. After examining the stone, park staff informed Michael that he was in possession of a very large yellow diamond.

Park Interpreter Waymon Cox says that many of the park’s largest diamonds are found right on top of the ground.

Weighing 4.38 carats, Noreen’s diamond is the largest found at the park since last October, when a visitor from Fayetteville, Ark., discovered a 4.49-carat yellow diamond.

Finders of large Crater diamonds often choose to name their gems. Noreen named hers Lucy’s Diamond, for her husband’s cat.

Noreen isn’t sure what she will do with her diamond but says she might have it cut, depending on the quality.

Park staff is not trained in diamond appraisals but offers resources to help finders decide what to do with their gems.

As of this find, 258 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2021, weighing more than 46 carats in total. An average of one to two diamonds are found by park visitors each day. m.

Parents can take steps to protect children in social media age     10/01/21

LITTLE ROCK – As Arkansans fill their calendars with school activities this fall, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is sending an important warning for parents to make sure to take the time to monitor their child’s internet usage and social media accounts. The internet and social media sites are a valuable resource for learning and connecting with friends, but social networking sites are also prime targets for criminals.

“It is crucial that parents are aware of these apps and websites. While they can be invaluable resources for learning and connecting, they also can connect your child to a criminal if not watched closely,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is important we all take the necessary steps to protect our most precious Arkansans from those who want to do them harm.”

There are 16 smartphone apps the Attorney General’s Office urges parents to know about that may make children vulnerable to dangers online:

  • Bumble– Bumble is a popular dating app that requires women to make the first contact. It is common for minors to use this app and falsify their age.
  • Calculator%– Calculator% is one of several “vault” style apps that appears to be a harmless app, but is used to hide photos, videos, files and even browser history.
  • Chatous– Chatous is a messaging app that allows users to chat and share images. This app makes it easy for predators to engage in age-inappropriate conversations with potential victims.
  • Discord– Discord is a voice and text chat tool that allows gamers to communicate in real time. Users can chat, add friends one-on-one or in larger groups. This app discusses content geared towards adults, but allows users as young as 13.
  • Grindr– Grindr is a dating app for LGBTQ adults, not children. The app gives users options to chat, share photos and meet with people based on a smartphone’s GPS location.
  • House Party– House Party is a group video chat app that allows users to communicate via live video chats and texts. There is no screening, and the video is live. Users can also communicate with people they do not know.
  • Me– Live.Me allows users to livestream videos using geo-location to share the videos so other users can find the broadcaster’s exact location. Users can earn “coins” to “pay” minors for photos.
  • Monkey– Monkey is an app that allows users as young as 12 to chat with people all over the world during a brief introductory call, then users are given the chance to add each other on Snapchat.
  • Snapchat– Snapchat is a photo & video sharing app that promises users their photo or video will disappear even though it does not. Snapchat stories allow users to view content for up to 24 hours and share their location.
  • TikTok– TikTok is a popular app among kids that is used to create and share short videos with limited privacy controls. Users are vulnerable to explicit content and cyberbullying.
  • Tinder– Tinder is a dating app that allows users to “swipe right” to like someone and “swipe left” to pass. Users can falsify their age, share photos, messages, and meet.
  • Tumblr– Tumblr is a blogging app and website that allows users as young as 13 to create an account. There are very few privacy settings and pornography is easy to find. Most posts are public and cannot be made private.
  • WhatsApp– WhatsApp is a popular messaging app allowing users to text, send photos, make calls and leave voicemails worldwide.
  • Whisper– Whisper is a social network that allows users to share secrets anonymously and it reveals the users’ location so strangers can meet.
  • YouTube– YouTube is a video sharing app that may not be age appropriate for kids. Inappropriate content can be found using innocent search terms, but with parental controls this can be avoided.
  • Yubo– Yubo is a social media app that allows users as young as 13 to create a profile, share their location, view other users’ profiles in their area and view livestreams. Substance abuse, profanity, racial slurs and scantily clad people are common.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for parents to stay connected to their child’s online activity:

  • Talk to children about sexual victimization and the potential of online danger.
  • Keep the computer or laptop in a common room of the house, not in a child’s bedroom.
  • Utilize parental controls available from internet service providers or use blocking software.
  • Always maintain access to a child’s online account and monitor email.
  • Teach children the responsible use of online resources.
  • Find out the computer safeguards being utilized at school, the library and at friends’ homes.
  • Never automatically assume that what a child is told online is the truth.

Arkansans can report child exploitation by calling the National CyberTipline at (800) 843-5678, or visit CyberTipline.com. In the event of an emergency, dial 911, or call local law enforcement. For more information on smartphone apps and internet safety, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at OAG@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public meeting set in Lockesburg     09/21/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are properties whose taxes have been delinquent since 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Arkansas State Representative DeAnn Vaught

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

De Queen High School Homecoming tonight     09/17/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

DHS is inviting students and the community to attend the ceremony at no cost. There will be no pre-game homecoming ceremony but the homecoming court will be recognized at halftime of the football game. Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask and social distance at the afternoon ceremony and during the football game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millwood Lake drawdown begins today     09/15/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The quorum court is scheduled to meet again next month.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The complete audio interview is available here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USDA announced eligibility for contract growers on Aug. 24.

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

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

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

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

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

-Research the seller or broker with the Better Business Bureau and ensure it is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. A legitimate ticket broker will offer a refund policy. Only buy tickets from a reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction.

-Always use a credit card to make a ticket purchase because credit card laws provide buyers with some recourse if the tickets are fraudulent.

-Check the seats ahead of time. Ask for section, row and seat numbers to avoid obstructed views and purchasing tickets that do not exist.

-Stick with well-known ticket sellers who offer guarantees and policies that protect buyers and have the ability to investigate and restrict accounts of merchants who violate the policies.

-If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Refuse to be rushed. Scam artists often try to hurry prospective buyers into making a decision.

-Consumers who think they may have purchased a counterfeit ticket can contact the National Association of Ticket Brokers at 630-510-4594 or the Arkansas Attorney General’s Public Protection Department.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are properties whose taxes have been delinquent since 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Thanks Nate!)

September is Rice Month in Arkansas     09/07/21

By State Representative DeAnn Vaught

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The homecoming festivities will begin at 2:30 p.m. with a parade down school drive for 6th through 12th grade continuing downtown around the courthouse square then to Leopard Stadium. The afternoon coronation ceremony will begin at 3:30 at Leopard Stadium.
DHS is inviting students and the community to attend the ceremony at no cost. There will be no pre-game homecoming ceremony but the homecoming court will be recognized at halftime of the football game. Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask and social distance at the afternoon ceremony and during the football game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results of the premium sale went as follows:

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

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

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

The Champion Intermediate Goat Showman award went to Kylee Crow.

Grand Champion Market Lamb was shown by Samantha Ratliff.

The 3rd Overall Market Lamb was shown by Lexi Neal

The 4th Overall Market Lamb by Wyatt Ratliff.

The Champion Senior Lamb Showman went to Samantha Ratliff.

The Reserve Champion AOB Mkt Hog was shown by Tucker Davis

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

The Reserve Champion Commercial Gilt was shown by Lexi Neal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLM hosting horse adop     08/27/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally, from Foreman, Aubree Gauldin.

Leopards Basketball Program hosting dinner fundraiser     08/24/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Dierks City employee charged     08/19/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how it works:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No other details were available.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone from the public is invited to attend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Livestock shows and other events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rodeo continues again at eight Saturday night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone from the public is invited to attend.

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

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

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

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

Personal income

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

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

Durable goods

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

Gambling on going out

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

Recreation services does show some interesting variation within its subcategories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Equalization Board meetings are open to the public.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concessions will be available at the fairgrounds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seasonal consumption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend benefit to support Clint Evans    08/02/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Equalization Board meetings are open to the public.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A 2020 survey, conducted by universities across the United States, found that farmers markets enjoyed a three percent increase in first-time consumers — equating to about 36 million households.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture has spent this year promoting Arkansas MarketMaker, a free online marketing portal promoting farmers markets and other food producers with searchable maps of local food providers. To use or join the program, visit https://ar.foodmarketmaker.com/.

According to the governor’s proclamation, there are more than 112 known farmers markets in Arkansas, with more than 80 percent of the state’s 75 counties featuring at least one farmers market.

This has been a challenging season for Arkansas farmers markets, due to cooler and wet weather conditions, but farmers markets are in full swing. Arkansas farmers markets have seen high traffic counts again this year, post-COVID, and it appears more people than ever are interested in local food.”

The Sevier County Farmers Market is open and in full swing with a variety of fresh produce and other homemade goods and crafts. The local farmers market is open each Wednesday and Saturday from 7-11 a.m., or until sold out, under the pavilion at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen. The farmers market is also now offering the Sevier County Farmers Market Cookbook for $12 a copy.

To learn more about farmers markets in Arkansas, visit https://www.uaex.uada.edu/farm-ranch/economics-marketing/experience-arkansas-agriculture/.

UofA launches new study into tick-borne disease and Arkansas cattle    08/02/2021

Researchers with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture will be expanding their search this fall for ticks that may transmit anaplasmosis, a disease that can kill cattle.

Anaplasmosis turns an animal’s immune system against itself, destroying both healthy and infected red blood cells, which can starve the animal of oxygen. If anaplasmosis does not kill the infected animal, the animal carries anaplasmosis for life, becoming a reservoir for the disease.

Losses from the disease are difficult to quantify, because of the many ways anaplasmosis can kill or hinder cattle, said Heidi Ward, extension veterinarian for the Division of Agriculture. In some cases, anaplasmosis can cause calves to be aborted or slow gains in cattle. A study published in 2014 puts the annual loss to the U.S. beef cattle industry at $300 million.

Anaplasmosis can be transmitted through ticks and their bite and through tools such as needles” such as those used to vaccinate herds. Ticks collected from cattle last summer and this spring have so far not turned up the pathogen.

What researchers did find was a related bacteria, however.

Most of the samples were lone star ticks, which is not thought to be the main vector, McDermott said.

Targeting deer ticks

The researchers will focus their efforts on black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks. This tick is best known for transmitting Lyme disease in the northeastern United States and can also transmit human anaplasmosis.

Acute cases tend to peak in summer and late fall, coinciding with peak season for the ticks that can transmit the disease.

The black-legged ticks can also move between deer and cattle hosts.

Researchers will work with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to collect ticks from deer harvested in-season.

Update: DQPD identify two people killed in Tuesday fatal shooting    07/30/2021
DE QUEEN – The De Queen Police Department has identified the two people killed during a fatal shooting incident Tuesday night.

Authorities identified the two people as 22-year-old Wendy Cruz and 35-year-old Marco Antonio Lopez.

According to the police department, officers were dispatched around 6 p.m. Tuesday night to a residence on the north side of the city at 299 Highway 71 North in reference to a man entering the home and armed with a gun. Upon arrival the bodies of two deceased individuals were found inside the home. Both bodies have since been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for autopsies.

Authorities say the investigation remains open and that there is no current threat to the community. No other details are available at this time.

Agencies assisting in the investigation include the Arkansas State Police, South Central Drug Task Force and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office.

Gov. Hutchinson reimplements COVID-19 emergency declaration; mask mandate not on the table    07/30/2021

A surge in COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations has prompted state officials to reimplement Arkansas’ emergency health declaration immediately, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported more than 2,800 new cases of the virus on Thursday – one of the highest single-day increases since the pandemic began. This one-day total follows several days with more than 1,000 daily new cases. Hospitalizations are also on the rise and hit the four-digit mark for the first time since the start of the year with 1,056 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus.

These dramatic increases, part of what health officials call a third wave of COVID-19 infections in Arkansas, prompted renewal of the emergency declaration which expired back on May 31. Gov. Hutchinson announced the renewal during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

As part of the declaration, Hutchinson said the state is reimplementing a number of measures to ease the current shortage in hospital staff. Those include renewing the treatment compact between Arkansas and neighboring states as well as easing licensure requirements for retired healthcare workers who want to reenter the field. In addition, Hutchinson said he is seeking federal help to bring more emergency medical services to Arkansas.

Hutchison added the state has no intentions of reimplementing mask mandates or restrictions in businesses. Hutchinson also said he is calling a special session of the Arkansas Legislature next week to amend Act 1002, which prohibits school districts from implementing their own measures against COVID-19.

As of Thursday, more than 382,000 Arkansans have contracted COVID-19 since the spring of 2020. Of those, 6,110 have passed away due to the virus. Active cases continue to increase into some of the highest levels ever seen, with more than 14,000 currently confirmed or probable active COVID-19 cases in the state.

Dierks Pine Tree Festival kicks off tonight    07/30/2021

DIERKS – The Dierks Chamber of Commerce will present the 48th annual Pine Tree Festival starting this evening.

The event is scheduled for tonight and tomorrow at the Dierks City Park. This evening will feature mutton busting at 6 p.m., followed by the TMRA National mini-rodeo at eight. For more information on this event, call (870) 451-2304. Admission tonight is $10 for adults, $7 for children and free for kids six and under.

Then on Saturday night, it’s the LJ Jenkins Bull Riding Tour at the Dierks City Park arena, beginning at 8 p.m. There’s $10,000 in added money and the winner will receive an All Things Western buckle. Mutton busting starts at 6 p.m.

Admission Saturday night is $12 for adults, $7 for children and free for kids six and under.

Two lucky attendees will win $500 in cash and kids will have a chance to win a new bike Saturday night.

The Dierks Pine Tree Festival will also include carnival rides, bounce house, a sawdust scramble, archery shoot, ax throwing, arm wrestling and lumberjack competitions, starting at noon on Saturday. Don’t miss the Pine Tree Festival parade at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

The 48th annual Pine Tree Festival in Dierks in July 30-31.

City of Mena, brewery host temporary entertainment district    07/30/2021

From The Polk County Pulse, by Jeri Pearson

MENA – The City of Mena has authorized a temporary entertainment district for this weekend, allowing people to consume alcohol legally on a designated section of Martin Avenue.

The event is being hosted by The Ouachitas, a brewery located on 821 Mena Street. The entertainment district will be in effect for two days, tonight and tomorrow, from 5 until 10 p.m. both evenings.

During the event, Ouachita Nights, musicians Ashtyn Barbaree and Randall Shreve will offer live entertainment on an outside stage, while guests at The Ouachitas can order food and beverages to consume while enjoying the entertainment.

There are no age restriction to enjoy the event and his goal is to offer an environment everyone can enjoy. To consume an alcoholic beverage in the entertainment district, the beverage must be purchased from The Ouachitas during the event and only consumed in the designated area on Martin Ave.

Mena City Council included a provision when passing the ordinance for the temporary district that allows the Mena Police Chief or Mena Fire Chief to disband the district in the event of a threat to public safety and welfare.

Council members noted the event is scheduled to end both evenings before the city’s noise ordinance takes effect.

Mena Mayor Seth Smith noted if the temporary entertainment district is a success, opportunities for additional temporary entertainment districts may be considered.

Sevier County 4-H to host Back to School Dance Aug. 6    07/30/2021

DE QUEEN – Sevier County 4-H’ers will host a Back to School Dance next week just in time for the start of the new school year in August.

All area youth are invited to come by and celebrate the end of summer and the start of the new school year with Sevier County 4-H teen leaders. The dance will be held Friday, Aug. 6 from 8:30-11 p.m. at the Weyerhaeuser Building on UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus. The free event is designed for youth aged five to 19.

Drinks and popcorn will be served. A talent show will be held during intermission.

For more information call (870) 582-1685.

Buschman announces run for 18th West Judicial District prosecuting attorney    07/30/2021

Debra Wood Buschman of Mena has announced her candidacy for Prosecuting Attorney for the 18th West Judicial District, which consists of Montgomery and Polk Counties. Debra currently serves as Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the district. Buschman is a 1997 graduate of Wickes High School and holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Arkansas State University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She completed her law degree at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 2006.

Debra and her husband, Dr. Paul Buschman, have two sons, Benjamin and Samuel. The family attends The Crossing Church in Mena where Debra enjoys serving on the Children’s Ministry Team. She is the president of the Polk County/Mena Rotary Club and a member of the Lioness Club. She has served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the board of the Mena Water Utility.

Andy Riner’s election to Circuit Judge left a vacancy in the prosecuting attorney’s office that was filled by gubernatorial appointee D. Jason Barrett, former Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Tim Williamson. An appointed prosecutor is not eligible to run for the position. The non-partisan election will be held in May of 2022.

CRSP Half-Marathon scheduled for Oct. 23    07/30/2021

WICKES – Cossatot River State Park and Natural Area has announced it will host its annual Half Marathon Trail Run this fall.

The yearly trail run has been scheduled for Oct. 23 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park, located 12 miles east of Wickes on Highway 278. Registration and check-in will kick off at 6 a.m. at the Visitor Center. The shuttle to the start line at Brushy Creek is at 7 a.m. with the 13.1 mile half-marathon to begin at eight. The park will host a meal at 11 a.m. and present awards at 11:45.

All area residents are invited to challenge their abilities in the mountainous terrain of the Cossatot River State Park for this 13.1 mile single track trail run. Take your time and enjoy the scenic trail or push yourself to the limits and compete for the top honors. Either way this will be an enjoyable event, park organizers say. T-shirts will be provided to registered runners.

For more information contact the park at (870) 385-2201.

Arkansas Hunting Guide now available for online download    07/30/2021

The printed version of the 2021-22 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook is being produced and should be distributed in August throughout the state, but hunters can get familiar with this year’s season dates and regulations with a digital version, now available at www.agfc.com for download.

One thing most hunters familiar with the guidebook may notice is the notoriously short “New This Year” section that graces Page 4. This section usually has a dozen or so changes hunters should note with references to where they can be found later in the book. Thanks to a new two-year regulations cycle, only one note is mentioned in this section of the book, and it is not a regulation so much as a reference for hunters to know about an ongoing research project in the north portion of the state.

A project tracking mortality rates in white-tailed deer within Arkansas’s chronic wasting disease zone involves tagging and radio-collaring deer and following them throughout their lives to determine the impact the disease is having on the population. The easily visible collars and tags may cause hunters to question if the deer is legal to harvest.

Collared and tagged deer are legal to take, but the AGFC asks any hunter who shoots these deer to report the harvest to ensure accurate data collection on this important project.

The only other changes that may impact hunters are small adjustments of season dates to accommodate the change in calendar days from one year to the next.

The Statewide 2021 Deer Season Opening Days are Sept. 25 for archer; Oct. 16 for muzzleloader; and Nov. 13 for modern gun. Special Youth Modern Gun Hunts are scheduled for Nov. 6-7 and Jan. 1-2. Private Land Anterless-only Modern Gun Hunt is Dec. 29-31.

Visit www.agfc.com/guidebooks for downloadable versions of all AGFC hunting and fishing regulations guidebooks.

“Hosting Hochatown” podcast explores Hochatown and its people    07/29/2021

It’s no secret that something amazing is happening in Hochatown, Okla.
Located just a short 45 minute drive from De Queen, the unincorporated community has grown into the top tourist destination in the region. It’s been an exponential growth with so much development in just the last five years. Tourism officials consider it just short of a miracle.
Hochatown’s major draw is of course the pristine waters of Broken Bow Lake and the Mountain Fork River. But local business owners and tourism officials seized the opportunity provided by these waterways to establish the perfect summer getaway. Cabin rentals, boat cruises, fine dining and much more offer near limitless entertainment. The resort vibe offers a chance for tens of thousands of people living in metropolitan Texas to get away from the hustle and relax in the quiet peace of the Ouachita Mountains.
It’s an incredible story of tourism and economic development. And it’s a story some think is worth telling. This week our news director, Patrick Massey, sat down and spoke with our very own Jay Wesley Lindly, who this year launched a podcast dedicated to telling the story of Hochatown. In Hosting Hochatown, Lindly along with co-host Shiloh Brock Martin sit down with the pioneers of Hochatown’s tourism boom. They speak with business owners, economic development officials, water authority commissioners and more to compile the story of Hochatown – not just what it is, but who it is.
Here is that interview:

Hosting Hochatown is one of a number of growing podcasts featured on The Ouachita Podcasts network. But it’s one that specifically shares the economic miracle that is Hochatown, Okla. And no doubt, Lindly and Martin will find much more to talk about as they explore this corner of Oklahoma, what it offers and the people who are making it happen.
Hosthing Hochatown can be found at www.ouachitapodcasts.com or wherever you find podcasts.
Heat advisory continues into fourth day    07/29/2021
The heat advisory covering Southwest Arkansas, Southeast Oklahoma and Northeast Texas continues into its fourth day.
Summer hit in full swing this week, with temperatures across the area reaching the high 90s and with heat index values as high as 110.
That heat wave continues today, with heat index values expected between 105 and 110. The current heat advisory includes Sevier, Howard, Little River and McCurtain Counties in the local area. The advisory includes the period between 12 noon today and 7 p.m. this evening.
It can’t be said enough that hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heath illnesses to occur. If working outside, drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks in cool areas. Check on elderly neighbors and always check your backseat to make sure no kids or pets are left behind.

De Queen Elementary, Primary cancel in-person registrations    07/29/2021

Out of abundance of caution, both De Queen Elementary and Primary schools are changing their registration formats for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. There will be no in person registration for returning students in K-5. Parents will receive a phone call from their child’s teacher on Aug. 4.

If your child is new to the district, (they did not attend DeQueen Public Schools/Preschool last year), there will be an in-person registration event for these students only. This will be on Aug. 4, 2021. Times are 9 a.m. to p.m. and 3-6 p.m.. Parents will need to bring proof of address, shot record, birth certificate, and social security card for their child.

Please remember that only the parent/guardian and new to district student will be allowed in the building.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact De Queen Primary at 642-3100 or De Queen Elementary at 584-4311.


Por precaución, estamos cambiando nuestra registración. NO habrá inscripción en persona para los estudiantes que regresan en K-5. Los padres recibirán una llamada telefónica del maestro de su hijo el 4 de Agosto.

Si su hijo/a es nuevo/a en el distrito (no asistió a las Escuelas Públicas/Preescolar de DeQueen el año pasado), habrá un registro en persona solo para estos estudiantes. Esto será el 4 de Agosto de 2021. Los tiempos son 9-1 y 3-6. Usted tendrá que traer prueba de dirección, registro de vacunación, certificado de nacimiento y tarjeta de seguro social para su hijo.

Por favor recuerde que solamente el padre/guardián y nuevos al distrito se permitirá la entrada al edificio.

Si tiene alguna pregunta, no dude en ponerse en contacto con

la Primaria de De Queen al 642-3100 ó Elemental de De Queen al 584-4311.

¡Gracias por su apoyo!

Healthy Connections bringing “pop-up” COVID-19 vaccination program to DQ Aug. 4    07/29/2021

In response to the Delta Variant of Covid-19 in our area, Healthy Connections is taking its testing and vaccination program on the road for three pop-up stops in August.

Non-profit Healthy Connections will offer Covid-19 testing and vaccinations from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.in the parking lots of the following locations on the following dates:

·        Monday, August 2: Healthy Connections Malvern, 900 Martin Luther King Blvd., Malvern

·        Tuesday, August 3: Healthy Connections Hot Springs Central, 3604 Central Ave., Hot Springs

·        Wednesday, August 4: Healthy Connections De Queen, 1206 W. Collin Raye Dr., De Queen

At these events, Healthy Connections staff will collect insurance information from patients. But the result will be both services being offered at no cost to patients. The test is the “simple test” that does not require a deep penetration of the nostrils for testing. Results from this test will be available in 3 to 5 days.

Learn more about Healthy Connections and the Covid-19 testing and vaccination program atwww.gettestedfree.com.

As of July 28, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting more than 15,000 active cases and more than 1,000 hospitalizations in the state of Arkansas.

Healthy Connections Community Health Network clinics are also testing and giving vaccinations. In addition to the “free” test, clinics also offer the Covid-19 Rapid Test. This is done for $60 (cash or credit card only) and results are available in as little as 15 minutes. Insurance is not filed on rapid tests. The regular (free) test and Covid-19 vaccines are also available at clinic locations. Call 888-710-8220 for appointments.

Last summer, Healthy Connections took its testing pop-ups to communities across southwest and central Arkansas. More than 5,000 tests were done at these pop-up events.

Arrest warrants served against numerous DQ residents on felony drug charges    07/28/2021
DE QUEEN – Arrest warrants were served against numerous De Queen residents last week on felony drug charges.

Those arrests include 49-year-old Robin McCollum of De Queen, who was arrested on July 22 on felony charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug premise. An arrest warrant was served the same day against 20-year-old Amber McCollum, also of De Queen, on charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug premise.

Rosemary Whitaker, age 69, was also apprehended by officers on July 22. Her last known address is the same as Robin McCollum. Whitaker has been charged with one felony count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond was set at $5,000.

Other arrests made on July 22 include 33-year-old Dustin Hill of De Queen on the charge of delivery of methamphetamine or cocaine; 52-year-old Gregory Dixon of De Queen on two counts of possession of a controlled substance; 56-year-old Clifford Hill of De Queen on two counts of possession of controlled substances, two counts of drug paraphernalia and one count of maintaining a drug premise; 40-year-old Shannon Birmingham of De Queen on a single count of maintaining a drug premise; and 23-year-old Kelvin Austin of De Queen on one count of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of firearms by a felon.

All charges were filed in the Sevier County Circuit Court last week.

Bond was set at $50,000 for Robin McCollum, Amber McCollum, Clifford Hill and Kelvin Austin. Bond was set at $15,000 for Dustin Hill and Gregory Dixon. Bond is $20,000 for Shannon Birmingham.

Dierks Pine Tree Festival this weekend     07/28/2021

The Dierks Chamber of Commerce will present the 48th annual Pine Tree Festival this weekend.

The event is scheduled for July 30 and 31 at the Dierks City Park. Friday night, July 30, will feature mutton busting at 6 p.m., followed by the TMRA National mini-rodeo at eight. For more information on this event, call (870) 451-2304. Admission Friday night is $10 for adults, $7 for children and free for kids six and under.

Then on Saturday night, it’s the LJ Jenkins Bull Riding Tour at the Dierks City Park area, beginning at 8 p.m. There’s $10,000 in added money and the winner will receive an All Things Western buckle. Mutton busting starts at 6 p.m.

Admission Saturday night is $12 for adults, $7 for children and free for kids six and under.

Two lucky attendees will win $500 in cash and kids will have a chance to win a new bike Saturday night.

The Dierks Pine Tree Festival will also include carnival rides, bounce house, a sawdust scramble, archery shoot, ax throwing, arm wrestling and lumberjack competitions, starting at noon on Saturday. Don’t miss the Pine Tree Festival parade at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

The 48th annual Pine Tree Festival in Dierks in July 30-31.

Harvest Food Bank pantry returning to Sevier Co. Aug. 18     07/28/2021

LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank is returning to Sevier County with its USDA Commodity Mobile Pantry next month.

Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute food directly from their truck on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church of Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia Street in Lockesburg.

Vehicles are asked to start lining up on W. Magnolia and the church parking lot on the morning of the distribution event.

The next Mobile Pantry will be on Nov. 10. With CDC precautions and recommendations against the Coronavirus still in place, Harvest officials say they are taking every measure to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as “drive-thru” distributions, with food boxes being loaded directly into vehicles. Recipients will not be allowed to exit the vehicle or park to pick up food.

Recipients must bring photo identification or proof of address for verifying they are a resident of Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one box per household and 2 households per vehicle. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Health Unit reminds parents of need to vaccinate children before start of school year    07/28/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Health Department is reminding parents about the need to get their children their required immunization shots before the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Deborah Hedge, administrator of the local health unit, says various immunizations are needed before children can enter certain grades in school, and she says now is the best time to make an appointment to get the shots.

Hedge says the Health Department also has the COVID vaccine available for anyone age 12 and older. To schedule an appointment, call the Health Department at 870-642-2535.

The Health Department is open Monday, Wednesday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Tuesdays 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CADC utility assistance programs accepting applications    07/28/2021

DE QUEEN – The Central Arkansas Development Council is currently taking applications from Sevier County residents for its 2021 Extended Winter CARES LIHEAP Utility Assistance program. This program will assist with gas and propane utility bills only. The extended gas program will assist customers with past due bills or shut off notices. Only crisis assistance will be available throughout this program.

Crisis benefits are available up to $2,000. Applicants who previously applied are eligible to apply again. Applications for the CADC LIHEAP Summer Program for electric customers began being accepted Monday, July 26. This program will provide up to $2,000 in electricity bill benefits and funds will be disbursed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Another invasive species put on watch list in Arkansas: Box Moth    07/28/2021

As if army worms, giant salvinia and cogongrass weren’t enough, the Box Tree Moth, an invasive insect already a serious pest in Europe, may now have been accidentally introduced into the United States through landscaping materials.

Jon Zawislak, extension entomologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the moth may have come to the U.S. through a shipment of boxwoods from Canada this spring.

“Canadian boxwoods were shipped to seven states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee and many of the potentially infested plants were then moved to other states – including Arkansas,” Zawislak said. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is looking to find all infested boxwoods and destroy them as soon as possible before these devastating moths have a chance to become established.”

Zawislak said USDA-APHIS is working closely with the affected states, including Arkansas to find and destroy the imported plants in the receiving facilities. The agency is also trying to trace the sale of imported plants to determine additional locations of potentially infected boxwoods.

USDA-APHIS will provide box tree traps and lures for surveys in the receiving facilities and other locations that received potentially infected plants, he said.

“If you bought a boxwood plant during spring 2021, please inspect it for signs of the moth and report any findings to your local USDA office or state agriculture department,” Zawislak said.

In Arkansas, any findings should be reported to Paul Shell, plant inspection and quarantine program manager for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. Call 501-225-1598 or emailpaul.shell@agriculture.arkansas.gov.

On May 26, USDA-APHIS halted importation of boxwoods and two other species, including euonymus and hollies, which are also known to host the moth.

“This is the first known introduction in the United States, and if we can act quickly and thoroughly, we can prevent this pest from becoming established,” Shell said.

How to identify box tree moths

Pupae typically first appear in April or May and will be present through the summer and into the fall, depending on the local climate and timing of generations. Adults first emerge from the overwintering generation between April and July, depending on climate and temperature.  Subsequent generations may be active through June to October.

Adults have two color forms, light and dark, and typically live for two weeks after emergence. The wings of the light form moth are white to off-white in the center, with a broad, dusky margin. The dark form is dark gray with two small triangular pots on each wing.

Female box tree moths lay flattened eggs singly or in overlapping clusters of five to more than 20 at a time in a gelatinous mass on the underside of boxwood leaves. Eggs are approximately 1/16 inch in diameter. Female moths can produce more than 42 egg masses in their lifetime.  Eggs typically hatch within four to six days.

Once they emerge, the caterpillars will begin feeding on foliage and spinning webs around leaves and twigs to hide and protect themselves from predators. They can grow to be 1.5 inches. The caterpillars are green with. both black stripes and thinner white stripes running the length of their bodies. They also have rows of black spots, from which emerge short, thin spines.

“It may be a low likelihood that we will find any here in Arkansas, but we’re better off safe than sorry,” Zawislak said. “When a new insect species is accidentally introduced, we typically have a very short window of time to find and eradicate it before it becomes permanently established and impossible to get rid of. A lot of agencies are working hard right now to see if we can locate and eliminate this pest right away.”

For more information and pictures of box tree moths, visithttps://www.uaex.uada.edu/environment-nature/ar-invasives/invasive-insects/box-tree-moth.aspx.


Sevier County Senior Citizen Centers closing again due to rising COVID-19     07/27/2021

The Sevier County Senior Citizens Center announced Monday it will again close due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases both locally and across the state.

Officials with the senior citizens center said the closure will remain in effect until further notice. Home delivery of meals to local senior citizens will however continue.

The surge of new COVID-19 cases seen across Arkansas is now making itself seen in Southwest Arkansas. Active cases in Sevier County more than doubled from just a week ago and now total 43. Total cases grew correspondingly to 2,911. Reported deaths, fortunately, have not increased since the beginning of the year and remain at 24.

The rising COVID-19 caseload is also being seen in Little River County, where 43 active cases are currently being reported. Total cases number 1,340 and deaths remain at 43.

Howard County is reporting 47 active cases with another 44 reported in Polk County.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 621 new cases of the virus on Monday. Active cases did see a net decrease, falling by 650 to over 14,000 currently confirmed or probable active cases. Deaths saw their highest single-day increase in months with 23 Arkansans passing away from the virus between Sunday and Monday.

Hospitalizations are also growing across the state and are nearing the four-digit mark with 980 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. That’s an increase of 61 between Sunday and Monday.

Health officials say most of the new hospitalizations seen in the state are among younger Arkansans – a trend explained at least partially by the reluctance of younger residents to get their vaccine and by the spread of the virus’ Delta variant, which tends to target younger people. The variant is also more contagious and carries the potential for more serious health effects as well.

The of health experts remains, get the vaccine. And if that’s not doable, take precautions such as mask wearing in public and social distancing to help limit the spread of the virus.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, just over 30 percent of Sevier County residents are fully vaccinated. Little River is just under 22 percent, one of the lowest rates in the state. Howard County is among the top counties in Arkansas in regards to fully vaccinated residents at 36 percent.

COVID-19 vaccines are currently available at many health providers and pharmacies across the state. Vaccines are widespread and currently available for all Arkansans aged 12 and up. For more information on where to obtain vaccines, and for more info on COVID-19 in general, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

Logan Lindly to be new Leopards Head Basketball Coach     07/27/2021

The De Queen Leopards will have a new head basketball coach starting in the 2021-2022 school year.

Logan Lindly will be moving from his former position of Junior Girls Head Basketball Coach to his new position of Head Coach for the Leopards Boys Basketball Team. Lindly is a graduate of Oklahoma State and has several years of experience coaching boys basketball in Oklahoma including a trio of conference championships.

Lindly stated he is excited about the opportunity. In a statement he added that, to be a part of a group of young men who play hard and play for each other is something that made hime want to be a part of Leopard Boys Basketball. In addition he said he looks forward to working with Coach Bradshaw who is a good coach and works just as hard, if not harder, than any coach Lindly said he’s been around.

Former Lady Leopard standout Julie Adcock will replace Lindly as the Lady Cubs Head Coach for the 2021-2022 season.

AHS Band Director Mark Pounds to be next ABA president     07/27/2021

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School Band Director Mark Pounds will serve as the next president of the Arkansas Bandmasters Association (ABA). He will officially receive the president’s gavel during the association’s annual convention this week in Little Rock.

Pounds has been planning and working on the 2021 ABA Convention since last year in order to schedule and plan workshops and other activities for band directors from all around the state of Arkansas. Over 300 band directors are scheduled to be in attendance.

Mr. Pounds has been the band director at Ashdown since 1995 and the 2021-2022 school year will be his 30th year of teaching band. He received his undergraduate degree from Henderson State University, his Masters in Administration from Arkansas State University, and is a Gulf War Veteran.

While at Ashdown, under the guidance of Pounds, the band has received numerous Sweepstakes Awards, and many students have earned places in all-region bands, all-state bands and received  band scholarships to continue playing their instruments in college. Pounds has received the Brandon Award seven times at the War Memorial Marching Contest.

Arkansas seeing increase in fatal crashes, aggressive driving incidents     07/27/2021

In state news, Arkansas State Representative DeAnn Vaught is informing us that this week legislators are hearing from Arkansas law enforcement officials on the recent successes and challenges facing state troopers.

Vaught said the testimony of Col. Bill Bryant of the Arkansas State Police alerted her and other legislators to some startling statistics regarding an increase in aggressive driving and fatal accidents in the state.

In 2018, the Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division conducted 520 crash investigations involving fatal injuries. In 2019, that number was 505.

But in 2020, fatal accidents increased by 27 percent to 641 deaths across the state. Col. Bryant says 14 percent of those crashes documented excessive speed of the vehicle as a contributing factor.

So far this year, the division says they have conducted investigations of accidents resulting in more than 330 deaths.

The number of citations related to acts of aggressive driving is also on the rise.

In 2019, there were 1,064 citations issues. In 2020, there were 2,030 citations issued.

So far this year, Arkansas State Police have issued more than 2,380 citations with some documented speeds as high as 160 miles per hour.

Aggressive driving incidents have included acts of violence documented by troopers assigned to the Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division. Colonel Bryant testified the troopers and special agents confirm an explicit increase in incidents of gunfire involving motorists shooting at and into other vehicles traveling along Arkansas highways.

The Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division commanders said they are attempting to be proactive in regards to combating the increased incidents of aggressive driving – including through saturated patrols dedicated to speed enforcement.

Vaught said that while she and other legislators look for ways to support Arkansas law enforcement further, there are some ways every Arkansan can help keep our roads safer.

Arkansans are encouraged to let the troopers know they’re appreciated for what they’re doing to keep local highways safe. Likewise, citizens should speak up and let the troopers know where they are witnessing regular incidents of lawlessness on the highways. Citizens shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to the commanders at these local headquarters. Arkansas motorists traveling across the state are encouraged to call 9-1-1 and ask to be connected to the nearest state police headquarters to report incidents of dangerous driving they witness on U.S. and state highways

Heat advisory in effect today for Southwest Arkansas    07/26/2021

DE QUEEN – A heat advisory has been issued for most of the listening area for Monday as heat index values are expected to climb to between 105 and 109 degrees across the region.
The National Weather Service says these hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heat illnesses in some people.
In Arkansas, the heat advisory is in effect for Sevier, Howard, Little River, Hempstead, Nevada, Miller, Lafayette, Columbia and Union Counties.
Temperatures are expected to increase into the high 90’s as the week progresses.
With summer in full swing and the mercury rising, make sure to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.
Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 9 1 1.
Sevier County Sheriff’s Office issues statement on new private ownership of 80,000 crossing    07/26/2021
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office is informing the public that the land southwest of the Cossatot River crossing commonly referred to as 80,000 has been purchased and is no longer owned by Weyerhaeuser Co.
The private property line includes the historical parking area where people usually park to swim at the Cossatot River at the 80,000 Road crossing.
In a statement released on its Facebook page, the sheriff’s office said the new owners had planned on being generous by allowing the public to have continued access to this parking area for the rest of the 2021 summer.
Unfortunately several recent incidents have occurred that have made them change their minds. With that being said, citizens are still allowed to use the Cossatot River to swim, fish, float and any other legal purposes.
The public will however no longer have the ability to park on the private property to access the river without digital or written permission.
Officials with the sheriff’s office said they understand that this is an inconvenience but unfortunately the actions of a few have ruined access to this popular but now private spot for everyone else. Deputies will be enforcing the wishes of the owners and those who do not have permission to be there will be asked to leave.
South Carolina man killed in single-vehicle accident in Polk Co.    07/26/2021
MENA – A South Carolina man was killed in a single-vehicle accident in Polk County early Sunday morning.

According to the Arkansas State Police, 56-year-old Billy Ray Luckenbaugh of Charleston, South Carolina was traveling north on Highway 71 just south of Mena around 12:27 Sunday morning when his 2012 Ford Fiesta left the west side of the roadway and struck an embankment. The force of the impact caused the vehicle to overturn.

Luckenbaugh was pronounced dead at the scene by Polk County Coroner Brian Bowser. Road conditions were described as clear and dry by the investigating state trooper.

Free school breakfast, lunch will continue into new school year    07/26/2021

The USDA waiver implemented last year authorizing school districts in the country to provide free breakfast and lunch will continue into the next school year.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the extension of this waiver is good news for families facing other struggles during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the economic consequences caused by it.

Leopard Football Camp begins this evening    07/26/2021

DE QUEEN – The 2021 Future Leopard Football Camp at De Queen Public Schools begins this evening.

The event has been set for tonight as well as tomorrow, July 27 and a final day on July 29 at the Leopard Football Stadium. Eligible grades are kindergarten through fifth. The camp will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. each night.

Cost is $50 and includes a t-shirt.

The Future Leopard Football Camp is being organized by the Leopard Football coaching staff and players. Campers will learn and develop the basic skills and fundamentals of football that will assist them as future Leopards football players.

Campers will be involved in sessions that include form running, agility and change of direction. All participants will interact with current Leopard football players and coaches to help build the future foundation of the Leopard football program.

For more information, visit the De Queen School District’s Facebook page or contact Leopard Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir at (870) 584-4312.

3.4 magnitude earthquake detected near Mena, Waldron early Thursday morning    07/21/2021
MENA – The United States Geological Survey reported a magnitude 3.4 quake near Mena in Polk County, Arkansas early Thursday morning.

The earthquake hit just after 4 a.m. local time at a shallow depth of 6.2 miles. The exact magnitude, epicenter, and depth of the quake might be revised within the next few hours as seismologists review data and refine their calculations, or as other agencies issue their report.

Initial reports put the earthquake near Waldron and a second, 3.6 quake near Quinton in eastern Oklahoma.

USGS monitoring service identified a second report from the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) which listed the quake at magnitude 3.4 as well.

Towns or cities near the epicenter where the quake might have been felt as very weak shaking include Waldron, located 12 miles from the epicenter, and Mena 13 miles away. There were no initial reports of damage to structures or property.

Docuseries exploring Sevier County drug rehab program debuts in August    07/21/2021

DE QUEEN – The Discovery Channel’s docuseries, The Program: Prison Detox, will air with its first three episodes on Aug. 25. The series explores the drug rehabilitation program pioneered by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office – a program that has had an amazing success rate of over 70 percent since its inception.

The Program: Prison Detox takes a first-hand look at how Sevier County is handling the worst drug epidemic in American history and turning the tables on the justice system.

The staff of the Sevier County jail piloted a revolutionary program to help its community, which has been devastated by drug addiction, by offering qualified inmates the unprecedented chance to walk free if they graduate from a three-month drug rehabilitation programme.

Produced by Big City TV, part of The Content Group, the first three episodes premiere on August 25 on Discovery+ and additional episodes arrive weekly after that.

The focus of the docuseries is on the Sevier County Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program, also known as RSAT, offered to non-violent drug offenders facing felony prison sentences.

The success of that program prompted the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office to partner with other groups, agencies and churches in the area to offer those substance abuse and counseling services to the broader community. The new program is called the Community Outreach Center.

The Outreach Center, like the RSAT program, is funded through a federal grant – no local tax dollars are funding the program. The $50,000 grant will pay for a year of the program with the option to renew this fall. The grant is paying for a part-time case manager/counselor to help volunteers navigate through the program, which will be offered at no cost. Programs offered through the center range from AA/NA classes and mental health counseling to substance abuse treatment, religious services and parental classes.

Organizers hope to add career development classes, GED courses and other programs designed to help those fighting addiction break that cycle and become productive members of the community.

Organizers say they have a lot of faith the Outreach Center will see a similar level of success – if not more – than the jail’s RSAT program. In fact, that program has seen such success, and received so much publicity, law enforcement agencies across the country have reached out to Sevier County for advice on modeling their own programs.

Both Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry and Jail Administrator Chris Wolcott praised the organizations who have partnered to help create the Outreach Center, particularly area churches. Gentry said the sheriff’s office is extremely grateful to First Baptist Church of De Queen, which donated an office in its east wing for the program’s coordinator. The program already has a full list of meetings and recovery services scheduled this week and into the future.

For Wolcott, the Outreach Center will be a success if it even helps one person fight their addiction and stay out of jail. For more information the program, call 870-784-7969 or 870-582-539. The center’s office located at First Baptist Church of De Queen is also open 8 a.m. to 12 noon Monday through Friday as well as additional hours in the evening.

Two convicted Sevier County murderers receive recommendations against commutation    07/21/2021

The Arkansas Parole Board has issued its monthly recommendations for pardons and sentence commutations.

People from the Southwest Arkansas region receiving “With Merit” recommendations for pardons, include, from Howard County, Ricky Williams, for a sentence related to his conviction for possession of a controlled substance-cocaine.

Those receiving “Without Merit” recommendations for commutations include Samuel Marron of Little River County, convicted of two counts of negligent homicide and three counts of second-degree battery, and Carolyn Diane Zachry of Little River County for a capital murder conviction.

David Wingfield’s commutation request also received a “Without Merit” recommendation from the Arkansas Parole Board. Wingfield, of Hempstead County, was convicted of four counts of rape and sexual assault, and was sentenced as a habitual offender.

Two Sevier County residents also received a “Without Merit” recommendation from the Arkansas Parole Board: Joe Barnhill, convicted of capital murder and Joe Copeland, convicted of murder in the first degree.

In Arkansas, the Parole Board has the authority to assist the governor in exercising his authority to grant pardons and commutations.

A commutation is a reduction in a sentence imposed by a court. It may mean either a lesser term of imprisonment, or reduces a sentence to time served.

A pardon is an act of forgiveness issued by the governor for a crime that has been committed. It may be issued to people either in or out of prison.

Commutation or pardon requests deemed by the Parole Board as “With Merit” are formal recommendations to the governor in favor of the request. “Without Merit” recommendations indicate that the board does not approve of the inmate or parolee’s request. The governor has the authority to accept or reject either Parole Board recommendation.

Horatio Public Schools encourages vaccines, precautions as new school year nears    07/21/2021

The Horatio School District is reaching out to parents, teachers, school staff and coaches in hopes of encouraging more COVID-19 vaccinations before the start of the school year.

In a letter sent out earlier this Month, the district said it is important to start vaccinations as soon as possible to achieve full protection in the next few weeks before the start of school.

District officials cited the CDC’s July 9 statement that “children and adolescents benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person school in the fall of 2021 is a priority.”

However, despite numerous efforts the district said vaccination rates remain very low in Arkansas. This, officials say, threatens the district’s ability to return students safety to in-person learning and other activities. Currently Arkansas’ vaccination rate is hovering around just 35 percent.

The district is encouraging all students aged 12 years and up, including college students, to get the vaccination as soon as possible. Especially given the rise of the Delta variant, which appears to be more contagious than previous versions encountered in Arkansas. The virus is making itself prevalent once again through what Arkansas health officials are calling a third-wave of infections. The Delta Variant in particular appears to target younger patients than the original virus, with more than three-quarters of new infections among those younger than 55. Around 12 percent of confirmed recent transmissions have been among children.

The Horatio School District is reminding its community that COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe and easily obtained by everyone in Arkansas 12 and older. They cited the 94 percent effectiveness rate of these vaccines preventing hospitalization due to COVID infection.

Finally, the district is encouraging parents of those students too young to be vaccinated to work with school leadership to support a plan for the safe return to school this fall. In addition, the district said parents should consider reintroducing and reinforcing defensive strategies against the virus including frequent handwashing, physical distancing and wearing masks in public.

Public gator hunt permits awarded for Little River, Millwood Lake; private hunt will be open    07/21/2021

Thirty-three hunters drew permits to pursue alligators on public land during the 2021 season, but many opportunities remain for those who didn’t draw for public hunts.

Those drawn to hunt alligators on public land this fall include two Lockesburg residents selected to hunt on the Little River. Several people ranging from Texarkana to El Dorado were drawn for public gator hunts on Millwood Lake. Both Little River and Millwood Lake are known for having some of the biggest – if not the biggest – gators in the state.

Hunters who have access to private land in the alligator zones of south Arkansas can hunt through a quota-based system similar to bear hunting and private land elk hunting.

The season dates are Sept. 17-20 and Sept. 24-27. The application period was June 15-30.

Anyone can obtain the private land alligator permit through the AGFC’s online licensing system for $5 in addition to their hunting license. They will be able to participate in the alligator hunt on private land they have permission to hunt until the quota has been met in that zone. It will be up to each hunter to call in before their hunt every night to the wildlife hotline (1-800-440-1477) to see if the quota has been met and if they can continue their hunt.

Another change from last year that remains in place is the use of online hunter orientations. The alligator hunt orientation and training manual at agfc.com lays out all the most important details and frequently asked questions about the hunt.

Visit www.agfc.com/alligator for more information on the season. The private-land alligator permit is available through the “Buy Licenses” button at agfc.com.

Leopard Football Camp scheduled for next week

DE QUEEN – Registration remains underway for the 2021 Future Leopard Football Camp at De Queen Public Schools, scheduled for next week.

The event has been set for July 26, 27 and 29 at the Leopard Football Stadium each day. Eligible grades are kindergarten through fifth. The camp will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. each night.

Cost is $50 and includes a t-shirt.

The Future Leopard Football Camp is being organized by the Leopard Football coaching staff and players. Campers will learn and develop the basic skills and fundamentals of football that will assist them as future Leopards football players.

Campers will be involved in sessions that include form running, agility and change of direction. All participants will interact with current Leopard football players and coaches to help build the future foundation of the Leopard football program.

For more information, visit the De Queen School District’s Facebook page or contact Leopard Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir at (870) 584-4312.

Local Extension Homemaker Councils provides relationships, seek new members    07/21/2021

DE QUEEN – Research has found that being socially active is as equally healthy as quitting smoking or exercise.   In one recent studyu, BYU professors Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith report people with stronger social relationships had a 50 percent increased likelihood of survival than those with weaker social relationships.

When someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks. This effect is not isolated to older adults. Relationships provide a level of protection across all ages.

Extension Homemakers Club (EHC) members not only benefit from being socially active, they also gain knowledge and skills through monthly program topics, special interest workshops and project activities. Members come up with ideas for programs, which are developed cooperatively with the Extension agent to meet interests. One of the EHC’s core tenants is that education is a character builder and a lifelong process that is never finished.

Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council (AEHC) members keep up-to-date in these rapidly changing times through lessons on all phases of family living and special interest topics presented by speakers, educators and other club members.

In addition to being social and educated, they also give back to their community by choosing a yearly volunteer service project according to their interests.

And, of course, they like to have fun, too. EHC members are a diverse group. They like to learn everything from A to Z to better themselves for their families, neighborhoods, and for their community. They are young and old, men and women, working or retired. They come from diverse backgrounds and a rich history. They’ve come a long way from the home demonstration era of the 1900’s.

If the Extension Homemakers Council is something you’re interested in, organizers invite you to give them a shout. Sevier County currently has two clubs looking for new members, but are happy to start a new club as well.

The De Queen EHC meets on the second Wednesday each month at the REA Building in De Queen at 9:30 a.m.

The Gillham EHC meets the second Friday of each month at members’ homes in Gillham at 2 p.m.

For more information,contact Janet Cantrell, Sevier County Extension Agent-Family and Consumer Sciences at 870-584-3013 or jcantrell@uada.edu.

Armyworms: An invading force in Arkansas    07/21/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Extension Service is informing area residents an invading force is on its way: fall armyworms. It appears the fall armyworms surging through Arkansas pastures and lawns apparently don’t understand the concept of a killing freeze.

Like the old saw, this army travels on its stomach, and searches for tender plants to eat. The armyworms can often render a lush pasture nearly barren in a day.

Right now, biologists say they are seeing populations well above treatment thresholds in southern, southwestern and western Arkansas from Mena into Fort Smith and Van Buren.

Numbers have been increasing each week for the last 2 1/2-3 weeks. Fall armyworm catches have been highest in the following:

-heavily fertilized Bermudagrass hay fields

-irrigated Bermudagrass hay fields

-hay fields where Signalgrass is present

-newly planted bermudagrass and crabgrass fields

Arkansas biologists say it’s been a pretty intense year for these invasive creepers.

The deep freeze that took over much of Arkansas, Texas and other parts of the South back in February should’ve put the kibosh on fall armyworms.

Because of the extended rains during the spring, many ranchers had both quantity and quality issues in their first cutting of hay, making it all the more imperative to protect what’s left in meadows and pastures, for future grazing or cutting.

Scout pastures

John Jennings, professor and extension forage specialist for the Division of Agriculture, said lots of infestations are being reported.

Often the armyworm moths are attracted to the most tender growing forage, so new growth on recently cut hay fields, well-managed pastures and newly planted summer forages like millet, sorghum, and crabgrass are at greatest risk.

Damage from small armyworms often shows up as light-colored grass tips similar to frost or as small patches of green tissue missing from the leaf surface called windowpane feeding. Damage from larger worms is more obvious with leaves and young stems being eaten.

Producers should scout all fields closely with in-field observations and not from the pickup windshield.

Find additional information at the extension armyworm page; https://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/pest-management/insect/armyworms.aspx

Download the fact sheets: “Managing Armyworms in Pastures and Fields,” https://www.uaex.edu/publications/pdf/FSA-7083.pdf and “Fall Armyworm Recognition and Management” at https://bit.ly/3wFGKen.

State law enforcement agencies warn against “family emergency” scams    07/21/2021

State law enforcement officials are currently warning Arkansans about scam callers who will pull at your heartstrings and attempt to steal your money.

Potential targets will receive a panicked phone call from a person claiming to be a relative, oftentimes a grandchild who is in jail or the hospital, who needs money right away. The con artists will ask for money to be wired to them immediately and even pose as an attorney to threaten callers. With wire transfers being similar to cash, the money cannot be retrieved.

Law enforcement agencies recommend the following strategies to avoid falling victim to the “family emergency” scheme:

-Resist pressure to act quickly.

-Never give or wire money based on any unsolicited phone call.

-Verify the family member’s location by directly calling another family member, the grandchild or the hospital or jail.

-Do not send money to an unknown account or entity.

-Ask the caller for his or her name, and if they cannot provide it, hang up immediately.

-Have a plan in place when family members are traveling to easily identify whether a need is genuine.

For more information and tips on how to avoid a scam, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

SWAR seeing small rise in COVID cases as possible “third wave” hits Arkansas    07/20/2021
DE QUEEN – Monday’s figures from the Arkansas Department of Health show a growing number of COVID-19 cases in Sevier County and the surrounding area.
According to those new figures, active cases rose to 24 on Monday, an increase of three from Friday.
Little River County saw a greater increase, with active cases growing from 16 on Friday to 28 on Monday. Howard County saw a slight uptick as well with a total of 21 active cases detected as of Monday afternoon. Polk County is reporting two more cases now than it did last week with 20 currently confirmed or probable active cases of the virus.
State health officials say the state is currently experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases, suggesting Arkansas may be seeing a “third wave” of infections – particularly among young, unvaccinated adults. New daily cases surpassed a thousand several days last week. Active cases across the state numbered over 10,000 as of Monday afternoon while deaths surpassed 6,000 over the weekend.
Arkansas’ sales tax holiday weekend set for Aug. 7-8    07/20/2021
The Arkansas Sales Tax holiday is scheduled for next month just in time to help parents get their kids ready for the upcoming school year.
This year’s sales tax holiday begins Saturday, August 7, at 12:01 a.m. and continues through Sunday, August 8, at 11:59 p.m. State and local sales taxes will not be collected on the purchase of certain products. All retailers are required to participate.
The sales tax holiday covers clothing, footwear, school supplies, art supplies and instructional materials. The 2021 sales tax holiday now includes electronic devices such as computers, printers, tablets, e-readers and cell phones.
What’s included
There are restrictions on these purchases. Clothing must be less than $100 per item, but there is no limit on the number of items.
While most clothing is covered, items such as patterns, fabric, and sewing notions are not included. The list of qualified clothing is extensive, covering almost everything from diapers to wedding apparel. Shoes, undergarments, belts, and outerwear are included. There is not a cost limit for electronic devices.
See this year’s list of items and restrictions at https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/exciseTaxOffice/HolidayItemized.pdf
Parents of De Queen students are reminded that De Queen Public Schools will furnish all school supplies this year for students in grades K-5th. Your child will only need to bring a backpack and a reusable water bottle.
Arkansas Cooperative Extension announces registration for fall Master Gardeners program    07/20/2021
Interest in gardening surged during the COVID-19 pandemic as Arkansans took to the outdoors, and that interest doesn’t seem to be fading.
The Arkansas Master Gardeners program, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, continues to be the state’s largest horticulture volunteer and education organization. Registration for its fall training, set to begin Sept. 22, is now open.
This year’s training will be conducted via Zoom and will include five day-long sessions on Sept. 22, Sept. 29, Oct. 6, Oct. 20, and Oct. 27. Training will be scheduled 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
The cost is $75 and includes 40 hours of training and the Master Gardener handbook.

Trainees will learn about basic botany, soils and fertilizer, pest control and pesticide use. In addition, there will be classes on landscape design, vegetable and fruit gardening, annuals and perennials and other topics of interest to homemakers. Each new Master Gardener is also paired with a mentor in their county.

Organizers say it’s the program’s mentors that set this volunteer program apart from others. They provide guidance to new gardeners and help answer questions.

Volunteerism is crucial to many Cooperative Extension Service programs, including Master Gardeners. Members complete 40 hours of volunteer service after their training. To maintain membership, they complete 20 education hours and 20 hours of community service each year.

Starting with just four counties and 40 members in 1988, the Arkansas Master Gardener program is now 3,200 volunteers strong in 67 counties.

For a program application, contact your county agent through your county Cooperative Extension Service office. A directory of county offices is available at  https://www.uaex.uada.edu/counties/. In Sevier County that number is (870) 584-3013 and in Little River County, (870) 898-7224 and in Howard County, (870) 845-7517.

For more information about the Master Gardener program in Arkansas, visitwww.uaex.uada.edu/master-gardeners. To learn more about other extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @AR_Extension.

Broken Bow First Assembly to host Mega Sports Camp in August    07/20/2021

Parents looking to drop some more fun into their child’s summer are invited to enroll them in the Mega Sports Camp at Broken Bow First Assembly of God. The church is offering kids in Kindergarten thru the fifth grade an awesome time through team sports, character building concepts and more.

At the Mega Sports Camp, youth participants can choose between football, basketball, soccer, baseball or cheer. Church leaders say it doesn’t matter if you child played all their life or just started yesterday, this camp is seeking to help improve their skills. Drills and practice games will be held to help get kids focused on the fundamentals that make athletes great while also creating a positive and encouraging environment.

Between sports sessions coaches will lead in songs and help kids experience inspiring sports and Bible stories to help with character-building activities.

All area youth are invited to attend the Mega Sports Camp at Broken Bow First Assembly of God, scheduled for Aug. 2-5. A small meal will be served at 5:30 p.m. each evening. Camp begins at 6 p.m. and ends at eight. You can find more information online at www.brokenbowfirst.org or call the church office at (580) 584-6546.

Sevier County Extension Service will host SafeServ classes    07/20/2021

Total food safety begins with ServSafe training and certification. In every operation and in any situation, food safety must work. Through the Cooperative Extension Service, instructors offer training and certifications for the ServSafe Food Handler, ServSafe Manager, and ServSafe Instructor & Proctor programs. ServSafe® has been the industry national standard for years, training more than one million managers and employees how to receive, store, prepare and serve food safely.

Maybe, as a consumer, you have seen the ServSafe certificate posted in several restaurants. If you see this certificate, you can be assured the manager has had training in safe food handling.

In the past, the program was recommended but not mandated. Recently, the Arkansas Department of Health is now requiring each food service facility to have at least one supervisory employee who has Certified Food Manager training.

Sevier County Extension Service will be offering ServSafe Manager Training on August 16 and 17, 2021 at UA Cossatot – Adams Building. Classes will be from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. The participation fee is $140.00; this includes the book, test, instruction, and proctoring fee.

A ServSafe Manager Training will be offered in Spanish only on September 13 and 14 at UA Cossatot – Adams Building. Classes will be from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Registration deadline for the August class is July 29. To request a registration form or for more information, please call Janet Cantrell, CEA-FCS, Sevier County Extension at 870-584-3013 or email jcantrell@uaex.edu. Make checks payable to Cooperative Extension Service. Please write ServSafe on the memo line.

DQ Health and Wellness Pharmacy applauded by Gov. Hutchinson for vaccination effort   07/19/2021

De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy was recently recognized by the State of Arkansas for its part in the state’s COVID-19 vaccination effort, distributing over 8,000 since the rollout began. Pictured are Elee Coleman and Torrence, both pharmacists at De Queen Health and Wellness, after they picked up the first batch of vaccines delivered to De Queen via airplane earlier this year.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy has been recognized by the State of Arkansas and Gov. Asa Hutchinson for its effort in vaccinating Arkansans against COVID-19 and helping to bring an end to the current pandemic.
The De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy was the first in Sevier County to receive shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine during the initial rollout of the state’s vaccination campaign. In fact, the pharmacy’s two vaccination pharmacists picked up the vaccines after they were delivered via airplane to the Sevier County Airport.

Since those early days of the state’s vaccination effort, the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy has vaccinated over 8,000 people.

In a letter, Gov. Hutchinson praised the pharmacy and its efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. As one of the top pharmacies for COVID-19 vaccinations in the southwest region of the state, Gov. Hutchinson said he commends De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy for its efficiency, perseverance and adaptability in the vaccination campaign.

Buchanan announces bid for Ninth West Judicial prosecutor   07/19/2021

LITTLE RIVER COUNTY – Next year’s election for Prosecuting Attorney of Arkansas’ Ninth West Judicial District has its first candidate.

Mickey Buchanan of Little River County officially announced late last week his intention to seek election to the position in 2022. The prosecuting attorney for the Ninth West Judicial District includes jurisdiction over Sevier, little River, Howard and Pike Counties in Southwest Arkansas.

In his announcement, Buchanan said he is a lifelong resident of Little River County. He is married to Melanie Click and together they have two children. He is a U.S. veteran who served during the Vietnam War. In all, Buchanan said he has 40 years of experience in handling criminal cases in circuit and district courts in Arkansas. In addition, he said he has worked closely with law enforcement and all other members of the judicial system during his career.

Currently, this position is held by Erin Hunter. Hunter was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson as prosecuting attorney for the Ninth West Judicial District after Bryan Chesshir, who formerly held the seat, was elected as a circuit court judge. Because of this appointment, Hunter is not eligible to seek election next year.

Chris McKinney of Hot Springs wins Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival   07/19/2021

Congrats to Chris McKinney of Hot Springs for winning the 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival hosted by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce on Saturday. He took first place and the $1,500 grand prize with a 6.2lbs bass on Dierks Lake.

DE QUEEN – The results are in from the 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival, held this past weekend on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes.

This year’s biggest bass was a 6.2lbs largemouth caught on Dierks Lake by Chris McKinney of Hot Springs. That catch earned him top place and the $1,500 cash prize.

The second place bass was caught by Russell Lockhart of Mena on De Queen Lake and weighted 5.88lbs. Dakota Bailey took third place with a 5.62lbs bass on Dierks Lake while Chris McKinney took fourth place in addition to the top spot with a 5.42lbs bass caught also caught on Dierks Lake.

Fifth place went to David Teer with a 5.39 bass, again caught on Dierks Lake.

Officials with the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the annual fishing tournament, said this year’s event went great despite several cancellations forced by high lake levels. Anglers were greeted with some great weather and fishing during Saturday’s tournament.

As COVID cases increase across Arkansas, figures remain stable in SWAR   07/19/2021

DE QUEEN – Active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County remained the same last week, beginning the week and ending the week at 21. Currently, figures from the Arkansas Department of Health are only updated on week days so updated figures from the weekend were not available Monday morning. Total cases also saw a corresponding increase in Sevier County to 2,870. Deaths have not increased since nearly the beginning of the year and remain at 24.

In neighboring counties, Little River is currently reporting 16 active cases of the virus. Cumulative cases number 1,295 since spring 2020. Deaths due to COVID-19 in Little River County did not increase last week and remain at 43.

Howard County is reporting 17 active cases at this time. Total cases number 1,708. Deaths remain at 25.

Active cases in Polk County currently number 18. Total cases rose last week to 2,068. Deaths did not increase last week and remain at 74.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health continues to report a consistent increase in new cases detected each day. On Friday, over 1,300 cases were reported across the state alongside an additional 11 deaths. Deaths due to the virus now number 5,992 since the spring of 2020. Active cases also saw a sizable increase on Friday, rising by 671 to a current total of 9.750. Hospitalizations increased by 12 to leave 681 Arkansans hospitalized by the virus as of Friday.

MLX to host Feeder-Livestock Producer Meeting Aug. 6    07/19/2021

McDaniel Livestock Exchange will host a Feeder-Livestock Producer Meeting on Friday, Aug. 6. The meeting will take place in the McDaniel Livestock Exchange conference room, located at 17251 Highway 71W in Valliant, Okla. Dinner will be provided and those interested in attending are asked to RSVP at (580) 933-7500.

Car Show benefit scheduled in Lockesburg for Courtney Angel    07/19/2021

LOCKESBURG – A benefit car show has been scheduled to support a Lockesburg woman as she battles against a 2020 cancer diagnosis.

The benefit car show will be held Aug. 14 in support of Courtney Angel of Lockesburg. Organizers say Angel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 and after five months of chemotherapy she recently had what is hopefully her last surgery. Angel is a mother of five.

The car show benefit will be held to help raise funds in support of Angel’s treatment. Registration will be held the day of the show, Aug. 14, from eight to 10 that morning. An opening ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance. Judging starts at 10:30 a.m. An awards ceremony will be held after as well as a 50/50 raffle.

Entry fee is $20 for a participant’s first vehicle and $15 for each addition entry. Awards will be given to the following categories: Top 30’s Car or Truck, Best of Show Truck, Best of Show Car, Courtney’s Choice, Clunker (which must arrive under its own power), Junker (which must be trailered, pushed or pulled) and Project (not finished but on its way) and, finally, Rat Rod.

Food, drinks and snow cones will also be available during the car show.

Domtar announces plan to restart shuttered paper mill   07/16/2021
ASHDOWN – Good news on the economic front for Little River County, with Domtar Corp. announcing Thursday its plans to restart a shuttered paper machine at its Ashdown facility.

Domtar announced last August it would permanently close down the A62 paper machine, ending the Ashdown facility’s paper mill operations. Company officials said the closure was a result of drastically reduced paper demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure was expected to save the company around $200 million but resulted in the laying off of 109 employees.

Domtar however told Arkansas Business it now plans to restart the Ashdown-based paper mill as demand for copy and printer paper increases as more people return to work and offices reopen across the country.

In a news release, Domtar Senior Vice President Rob Melton said demand for paper is recovering alongside the broader economy.

It’s unsure at this time how many of the jobs lost last year will return alongside the restarted paper mill operations. Domtar officials said the company is working with union leaders as part of its evaluation of staffing needs. Little River County Judge Mike Cranford told Arkansas Business resuming the paper mill will also provide more employment opportunities for loggers and “put timber merchants in a better position to sell it at a higher price.”

Earlier this year, Domtar confirmed it was in talks for a possible merger or outright sale to the Canadian-based company, Paper Excellence. Officials with both companies said the possible $3 billion merger would not result in the loss of jobs at either of the two companies’ facilities.

The merger is expected to be finalized later this year.

Dierks Water and Sewer Departments under investigation for financial irregularities   07/16/2021

Submitted by www.southwestarkansasradio.com/B99.5

From our sister station in Dierks:

DIERKS – Law enforcement personnel and state auditors are conducting an investigation into various financial transactions within the Dierks Water and Sewer Departments.  According to a report released Wednesday, the city failed to submit information for an audit of the water and sewer system for the calendar years 2015-2019.  State auditors say they will issue a report concerning the questionable transactions, once the investigation is complete.

In the report released Wednesday, state auditors allege finding a variety of matters that are non-compliant with state law and accounting practices in 2018 and 2019. The findings include unsupported liability accounts of $111,356 in 2019 and an additional $76,309 in 2018.

The city also traditionally gives $5,000 each year to the Dierks Chamber of Commerce for the Pine Tree Festival. However, for the two years covered in the audit report, there was no service contract issued between the city and chamber. These contracts are required before municipal entities can provide non-profit organizations with taxpayer-supported funds. The city also provides a $450 contribution each year to the cemetery committee. There was also no service contract for that donation either, according to auditors.

Within the police department, the audit found $190.00 for boots used by a City Police Officer that were adaptable to general usage as ordinary clothing, without adding the items as income to the employee’s IRS W-2 form.

It was also noted that a council member, who served concurrently as a part-time police officer, received salary payments totaling $3,827 without an authorizing ordinance.

De Queen Primary, Elementary announce registration dates; school supplies will be provided at no cost to all students in grades K-5th   07/16/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s hard to believe, but De Queen kids will be heading back to school in exactly one month.

Classes resume at all De Queen Public Schools campuses on Monday, Aug. 16. Educators are gearing up for the 2021-2022 school year and part of that is registering all the new and returning students to the De Queen School District. A number of registration events and Meet the Teacher Nights have been scheduled in August.

De Queen Primary School will host registration on Wednesday, Aug. 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 3-6 p.m. that day. This in-person registration event is for all Kindergarten as well as all new first and second grade students only.

These students will be registering in the primary cafeteria. Parents and guardians are asked to bring their child’s birth certificate, social security card, shot records and proof of address.

First and second grade teachers will be calling parents on Aug. 4 and Aug. 5 to get students registered. De Queen Public Schools will furnish all school supplies this year for students in grades K-5th. Your child will only need to bring a backpack and a reusable water bottle. Kindergarten students will need to bring a large towel for rest time.

The primary school will host a Meet the Teacher Night on Thursday, Aug. 12 from 5-6 p.m. This is a come-and-go event where students and parents can see their classrooms, meet teachers and take pictures. The school is asking that only one parent and their student attend the Meet the Teacher Night.

Out of an abundance of caution for health reasons and other safety concerns, De Queen Primary and Elementary Schools will be closed campuses again this year. Students should be dropped off as car riders or bus riders the first day of school. District officials say they appreciate everyone’s understanding of these precautions as the district returns to classes with the health of students and teachers in mind.

Earlier this week, De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders spoke to the precautions in place for incoming students. Heightened sanitary practices remain in place and while the district cannot mandate mask use, parents who want their child to wear a mask are allowed to provide them with one. Sanders added the district will continue to monitor the situation regularly and change plans if needed.

De Queen Elementary School is also hosting a registration day on Wednesday, Aug. 4 for all students in grades three through five. This will be an in-person registration event and is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m. that day.

Parents are advised that students’ names and teacher assignments will be posted in the hallways of the elementary school. Students previously enrolled at De Queen Public Schools will go to their current grade level hallway to find their teacher assignment.

Students who are new to the district or Spanish-speaking students will register in the cafeteria where translators will be available. New students are asked to bring their birth certificate, social security card, shot records and proof of address.

Again, De Queen Public Schools will furnish all school supplies this year for students in grades K-5th. Incoming elementary students will only need to bring a backpack and reusable water bottle.

The elementary school will host its Meet the Teacher Night on Aug. 10 from 5-6 p.m. Like the primary school event, the elementary school’s Meet the Teacher Night will be a come-and-go event and officials ask only one parent and their child attend.

For more information visit www.dequeenleopards.org

De Queen man charged with three capital murder counts set to reappear in court Sept. 11   07/16/2021

MADISON COUNTY – A De Queen man accused of killing three family members this past Feburary in Madison County will have his next court appearance later this summer.

Hunter Chenoweth, age 22, will appear again before the Madison County Circuit Court on Sept. 11 to face three counts of capital Murder. During his initial court appearance, Chenoweth entered a plea of not guilty to the three capital murder charges.
Chenoweth is accused of killing his mother, 51-year-old Tami Lynn Chenoweth; his stepfather, 59-year-old James Stanley McGhee; and his sister, 26-year-old Cheyene Chenoweth. All three were found deceased inside a home in Madison County on Feb. 23, according to the Arkansas State Police.
Chenoweth was arrested later that evening after authorities across the state began searching for a vehicle witnessed at the crime scene. According to the Arkansas State Police, Chenoweth was arrested following a brief stand off with state troopers in which he brandished a rifle and threatened officers at the scene. State troopers were able to approach Chenoweth from behind and arrest him without further incident.
An infant child belonging to Chenoweth’s sister, Cheyene, was found in the vehicle and recovered unharmed. The child has since been handed over to the Department of Human Services. The female driver, identified only as a 25-year-old De Queen woman, was questioned and released.

Prosecutors are seeking a sentence upon conviction of either life in prison or the death penalty.

Chenoweth is also slated for a jury trial this October related to a felony domestic battery charge from February of 2020. According to online court records, that charge stems from an incident that same month in which Chenoweth is accused of stabbing his stepfather.

Amy Barker named new principal of De Queen Primary; Kayla Morris hired as asst. principal   07/16/2021

Amy Barker, an educator with 18 years at De Queen Public Schools, will be the new principal for De Queen Primary School.

DE QUEEN – In related news, students enrolling at De Queen Primary School this fall will be greeted by a familiar face with a new leadership role after the district announced the school’s new principal this week.

Amy Barker, an educator with 18 years of experience at De Queen Public Schools, will enter the 2021-2022 school year as the new principal of De Queen Primary School. She is entering the position after former principal and longtime De Queen educator Sharon Pigeon passed away earlier this year. Barker was officially hired as primary principal during the De Queen School Board’s meeting on Monday.

Barker received her Bachelor’s in Education from Arkansas State University in 1995 and in 2004 earned her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Harding University.

She is married to Leopards Coach Jason Barker and together than have one child.

Barker will be assisted by another familiar face, Kayla Morris, as assistant principal. Morris was formerly a kindergarten teacher at De Queen Primary School. She is not only a teacher for De Queen Public Schools, but a graduate of De Queen High School as well. On the district’s website, Morris states she’s had a lifelong love and interest in education dating back to when she was a student herself. She said her goal is to provide students with not only knowledge but also a respect for learning, growth and curiosity that they will carry with them the rest of their lives.

Nashville woman struck, killed by vehicle Tuesday evening   07/16/2021

NASHVILLE – A Nashville woman was fatally struck by a vehicle Tuesday evening.

According to the Arkansas State Police, 33-year-old Shardae Golston was struck by a 2017 Ford Focus traveling north on U.S. Highway 371 around 9:20 Tuesday night. The state police report states Golston was on foot in the northbound lane at the time the accident occurred.

She was pronounced deceased at the scene by Hempstead County Coroner David Peters at 10:25 p.m. The driver of the vehicle was not identified in the report.

According to the investigating state trooper, road conditions were described as clear and dry at the time of the crash.

State police records show at least 327 people have been killed on Arkansas roads so far this year.

Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival on for this Saturday; Listen to all the results on 92.1FM   07/16/2021

DE QUEEN – After several postponements, the 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival is on for tomorrow.

Continually high lake levels have forced the Sevier County Chamber to postpone this popular event on several occasions. All three hosting lakes remained way above normal elevation due to tremendous rainfall in May and the beginning of June. Many of the boat ramps used during the tournament were underwater and debris was also a concern.

However, of the three hosting lakes, only Dierks Lake remains above normal elevation. Nonetheless, Jefferson Ridge’s boat ramp is open and levels on Dierks Lake aren’t high enough to hinder this weekend’s tournament.

Although it’s been rescheduled, organizers hope participation will remain strong. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray reported over 100 anglers have already registered for the tournament and more are expected the day of the event.

The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes, this Saturday, July 17. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. that day. Late registration is $50. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.

Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.

Over $14,000 in cash prizes will be awarded during the tournament, including $1,500 for catching the biggest bass.

For more information, contact Sevier County Judge Greg Ray at (870) 642-2425 or the Chamber of Commerce office at (870) 584-3225.

And make sure to stay tuned to all hour-by-hour results from all three lakes here on Your Number One Country, 92.1FM. Tyler and Patrick of The Morning Brew will be on-air all morning bringing you the results and having some fun on-the-air as the Sevier County Chamber presents this year’s 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival.

CADC resuming summer, winter utility assistance for Sevier County residents   07/16/2021

DE QUEEN – The Central Arkansas Development Council is currently taking applications from Sevier County residents for its 2021 Extended Winter CARES LIHEAP Utility Assistance program. This program will assist with gas and propane utility bills only. The extended gas program will assist customers with past due bills or shut off notices. Only crisis assistance will be available through this program.

Crisis benefits are available up to $2,000. Applicants who previously applied are eligible to apply again. Applications for the upcoming CADC LIHEAP Summer Program for electric customers will begin Monday, July 26. This program will provide up to $2,000 in electricity bill benefits and funds will be disbursed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more information, visit www.cadc.com or call (870) 982-9701.

SCMC CEO provides update; resumes now being accepted for hospital positions   07/16/2021

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court heard a report from Lori House, CEO for the new Sevier County Medical Center, during its meeting earlier this week. House provided a brief update, reporting that installation of the roof is currently in the works. House added the search for the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer remains underway and that the hospital’s new website is expected to launch this week. The hospital itself has a tentative open date of May 1, 2022.

House said the hospital is beginning to accept applications for a variety of positions. House invited interested applicants to email their resumes to apply@seviercountymedical.com

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray added bids open Aug. 3 for the sewer line and pump station to run from De Queen to the hospital site several miles north of the city on Highway 71. That project is estimated to cost around $1.5 million and will be paid for by funds received through the federal American Rescue and Recovery Act passed earlier this year.

Sevier County teams perform well at Dixie Youth Baseball State Tournament   07/16/2021

The Sevier County 10u team was the State Champs in their division during the 2021 Dixie Youth Baseball League State Tournament this past weekend in De Queen.

DE QUEEN – Sevier County teams had a great performance at this past weekend’s Dixie Youth Baseball State Tournament.

The championship games were hosted once again in De Queen at the Sportsplex, drawing out hundreds of youth athletes as well as their coaches, family and friends.

In order of the games played, the tournament wrapped up with the Sevier County 8U as the 2021 state runner-ups and Texarkana taking the state championship.

In the 10u game, Sevier County earned the state champ title with Texarkana finishing second as the runner-up. The Sevier County 12u team were runner-ups with Texarkana’s 12u team taking the state championship in this category as well.

Overall, organizers of the state tournament and the Sevier County Youth Baseball Association said it was a great weekend of baseball. Kyle Willis of the Sevier County Youth Baseball Association said the community didn’t just show up for the event, they showed out. He added this weekend’s state tournament was a great time and a return to normalcy given the upset to schedules due to last year’s COVID-related cancellations.

For more information on local youth baseball, visit the Sevier County Youth Baseball Association on Facebook.

Oak Hill VFD to host low-cost spay and neuter clinic Aug. 10-12   07/16/2021

ASHDOWN – The Oak Hill Fire Department will host a low cost spay and neuter clinic Aug. 10-12 at its fire station on 1165 Highway 108W.

Cost for dogs ranges from $70-90 depending on weight. Cost to spay or neuter a cat is $45. A rabies vaccine is included in the cost of the surgery. Other vaccines will be available as well as heartworm testing. Nail trims and microchipping are available by the sponsoring rescue agency.

Call (903) 280-2341 to make your reservation. In addition, volunteers are greatly needed and welcomed for this event.

Ashdown Police Department launches anti-speeding campaign this week   07/16/2021

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown Police Department today launched a tough new speed enforcement blitz for the city of Ashdown under the tagline: “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.” The intensified enforcement effort against speeding drivers underscores the severity of the problem, both locally and across the nation.
“Speeding translates to death on our roadways. It greatly reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around another vehicle, a hazardous object, or an unexpected curve. Speeding drivers put themselves, their passengers and other drivers at tremendous risk,” said Sgt. Zane Butler.
In 2015, speeding was a contributing factor in 27 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. and more than 9,500 lives were lost in such crashes, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“During the “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” blitz, officers will intensify enforcement of posted speed limits in Ashdown Arkansas. We’ll stop and ticket anyone caught speeding anywhere in the city limits of Ashdown—especially on Highway 71 and Highway 32, where most of our speed-related crashes occur,” said Sgt. Zane Butler.
Fully 17 percent of all speeding-related traffic fatalities occurred on local roads — where the posted speed limits were 55 miles per hour or under. According to NHTSA, a crash on a road with a speed limit of 65 mph or greater is more than twice as likely to result in a fatality than a crash on a road with a speed limit of 45 or 50 mph and nearly five times as likely as a crash on a road with a speed limit of 40 mph or below. About 15 percent of the country’s speeding-related fatalities occur on interstate highways each year.
A NHTSA research report, “Analysis of Speeding-Related Fatal Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes,” shows that a major proportion of fatal, speeding-related single-vehicle crashes occur on rural roadways.
Across America in 2015, speeding was a factor in 17 percent of all fatal crashes on dry roads, and in 21 percent of those occurring on wet roads.
“Driving above the posted speed limit or speeding in bad weather conditions dramatically increases the probability that a motorist will be involved in a crash,” said Sgt. Zane Butler.
“During this enforcement blitz, officers will be out targeting and ticketing speeding drivers,” said Sgt. Zane Butler. “Our goal is to save lives, and we’re putting all drivers on alert – the posted speed limit IS THE LAW. No more warnings and no more excuses. When it comes to speeding: Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.”
NHTSA considers a crash speeding-related if the driver was charged with exceeding the posted speed limit or if the driver was driving too fast for conditions at the time.

Why do bug bites itch? Entomologist McDermott weighs in on summer’s bane   07/14/2021

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Those pink splotches of calamine lotion adorning arms and legs are summer’s badge of honor — showing you’ve been outside and faced down the hordes of midges, mosquitoes and ticks out for your blood.

It’s bad enough that these insects want your blood, but why the maddening itch? Emily McDermott, assistant professor of entomology for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said it has to do with the human immune system.

“The itchiness is an allergic reaction to insect saliva,” she said. “As an insect or tick is biting, it’s salivating into the wound. It needs to introduce compounds that will keep the blood flowing.”

While the insect tries to draw the blood out, the human body is working to keep it inside.

“The insect’s saliva is combatting platelet aggregation, vessel restriction and clotting,” McDermott said. “That’s what your body is reacting to — trying to defend against foreign compounds.”

Itch vs. scratch

The immune response creates the itch, but does it have any advantage for the one being bitten?

“Itching is kind of a way to protect your body from things. That immediate itch is a ‘get-that-off-me’ response,” McDermott said.

However, that’s not foolproof. In some cases, the body’s itch reaction to a bite may take days or weeks, long after the insect is gone, she said.

However, outside of the initial “shoo” potential, scratching isn’t all that healthy.

“The pain of scratching overrides the itchy sensation,” McDermott said. “It causes the brain to release serotonin, which make the itch more intensive.

“The more you scratch, the more you itch,” she said, which increases the likelihood of tearing the skin.

Over-the-counter remedies like calamine lotion or cortisone-based creams can help dull the itch. McDermott uses an ice cube, with the cold producing “reduced nerve response.”

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

 About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Sevier County jailers, dispatchers to receive pay raise in hopes of increasing employee retention    7/14/2021

DE QUEEN – Staff at the Sevier County Jail will be receiving a $1 per hour raise in hopes to combating a growing loss in jailers and also encouraging more applicants.

The Sevier County Quorum Court voted on Monday to incorporate the pay raise immediately. Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry raised the issue with the quorum court after reporting a significant loss in jail personnel to the private sector – including, just recently, four jailers. He added the jail has no additional applications on file.

Arkansas state jail standards require a minimum number of staff to operate a jail. Gentry said he was worried the continued loss of jailers would cause a violation of those standards. He hopes the $1 per hour pay raise will convince the jail’s remaining staff to stay while also prompting more applicants with the promise of higher pay.

The loss of employees to the private sector has been a growing trend among public workers with local industries paying upwards of $19 an hour. A tight labor market and a desperate need for workers has forced the private sector to offer higher pay at a rate Gentry said he and other public entities cannot match.

During Monday’s meeting of the quorum court, Sevier County Circuit Court Kathy Smith raised the question of pay raises for all county employees. She stressed the fact that offices remained open and county employees remained in their positions throughout the pandemic – a commitment that should be rewarded through a pay raise, she added.

Many businesses have provided pay raises to employees who worked throughout the pandemic. The City of De Queen, too, provided a $0.75 raise to all city employees last month in appreciation of their work during the pandemic.

Earl Battiest, who serves as the head of the quorum court’s budget committee, said however across-the-board pay raises were not feasible for all county employees at this time. He explained the pay increase for jailers was necessary due to the need to meet jail staffing standards – rather than performance or recognition based.

Battiest said a one-dollar-per-hour raise would cost the county an additional $170,000 per year – nearly a million dollars after five years. He said the county could “simply not afford” such an increase at this time. Battiest said county employees do have access to health insurance with no premium costs, county-funded retirement and other benefits not directly associated with per-hour pay.

In other business, the quorum court officially declared a vacancy over the District 7 Justice of the Peace seat. This position was previously held by Mike Archer, who passed away earlier this year after 26 years on the quorum court. Gov. Asa Hutchinson will have to appoint a person to the seat to fill out the remainder of the term. The appointee would not be able to seek re-election.

Finally, the quorum court heard a report from Lori House, CEO for the new Sevier County Medical Center. She provided a brief update, reporting that installation of the roof is currently in the works. House added the search for the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer remains underway and that the hospital’s new website is expected to launch this week.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray added bids open Aug. 3 for the sewer line and pump station to run from De Queen to the hospital site several miles north of the city on Highway 71. That project is estimated to cost around $1.5 million and will be paid for by funds received through the federal American Rescue and Recovery Act passed earlier this year.

Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival on for this Saturday on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes    7/14/2021

DE QUEEN – After several postponements, the 31st annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival is on for this upcoming weekend.

Continually high lake levels have forced organizers of the event to postpone this popular event on several occasions. All three hosting lakes remained way above normal elevation due to tremendous rainfall in May and the beginning of June. Many of the boat ramps used during the tournament were underwater and debris was also a concern.

However, of the three hosting lakes, only Dierks Lake remains above normal elevation. Nevertheless, Jefferson Ridge’s boat ramp is open and levels on Dierks Lake aren’t high enough to hinder this weekend’s tournament.

Although it’s been rescheduled, organizers hope participation will remain strong. Sevier County Judge Greg Ray reported over 100 anglers have already registered for the tournament and more are expected the day of the event.

The tournament will be held on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes, this Saturday, July 17. The event will begin at 6 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m. that day. Late registration is $50. Boat check and late registration begins at 5 a.m. on all three lakes the day of the tournament.

Check-in will be held at Oak Grove and Rolling Fork landings on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek and Little Coon Creek on Gillham and at Jefferson Ridge on Dierks Lake. Weigh-in sites will be located at all three lakes.

Over $14,000 in cash prizes will be awarded during the tournament, including $1,500 for catching the biggest bass.

Despite the postponement organizers remain hopeful this year’s tournament will still draw a big crowd. Especially after last year’s event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is always well-attended and draws in hundreds of anglers from across the area for a chance at thousands of dollars in prizes. Chamber officials have cited the economic benefits of the tournament by attracting out-of-town anglers, many of whom stay, eat, shop and fuel-up at local businesses.

For more information, contact Greg Ray at (870) 642-2425 or the Chamber of Commerce office at (870) 584-3225.

Arkansas notes dramatic increase in COVID-19 active cases, local figures remaining steady    7/14/2021

The Arkansas Department of Health reported another surge with active cases rising past 8,000 and more than 1,400 new cases over the last 24 hours.

Over the last 24 hours, Arkansas saw another increase in new and active cases with an 879 active case jump moving Arkansas past 8,000 active cases.

There were 15 new deaths that were reported over the last 24 hours according to the ADH.

The ADH reported 1,476 new cases for Tuesday, for a total of 358,949.

There are 8,134 active cases, which is up 879 from Monday. Currently 606 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus, which is up 41 from Monday, and 98 on ventilators, which is up 4 from Monday. According to the Arkansas Department of Health, 98 percent of the hospitalizations since January were among Arkansans not vaccinated.

Locally, Sevier County is currently reporting 22 active cases. Total cases rose to 2,817 on Tuesday. Fortunately, deaths have not seen an increase in months and remain at 24.

In Little River County, active cases currently number 10 and cumulative cases at 1,231. Active cases in Howard County total 11 and in Polk County 16.

UA Cossatot restarts enrollment for Youthbuild program    7/14/2021

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot has restarted enrollment for the 2021-2022 YouthBuild program in De Queen. Participants must be out-of-school youth between the ages of 16-24 and lack a high school diploma or GED.

Participants will learn job readiness skills, earn certifications and gain leadership skills. Stipends and supportive services are available.

For more information on the YouthBuild program, eligibility and requirements, call Leslie Daniels at (870) 584-1153.

Four more counties added to fire ant quarantine zone    7/14/2021

The federal Imported Fire Ant Quarantine has been extended to four additional counties: Logan, Prairie, Sebastian and White.

With these additions, there are 43 Arkansas counties included in the current federal quarantine area. The ant’s continued spread across the region means most of Arkansas, including Sevier, Howard, Little River and Polk Counties, are affected by the ban.

Kelly Loftin, extension entomologist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, has spent years studying methods for managing these pests and teaching Arkansans how to protect their families, farms and themselves from this invasive species.

Arkansas wasn’t the only state to see an expansion of the quarantine – three counties were added in North Carolina, one in Oklahoma and five in Virginia, he explained.

The additions are in response to imported fire ant surveys conducted by state regulators in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA announced the expansion in June.

Agriculture is at risk from red imported fire ants for several reasons. These ants will feed on the buds and fruits of numerous crop plants, especially corn, soybeans and okra. Large nests located in fields interfere with and damage equipment during cultivation and harvesting.

Ant attacks can also inhibit field-worker activities as a single fire ant can sting its target repeatedly. Young and newborn animals are especially susceptible to the venom of these stings.

The quarantine is needed to prevent the artificial movement of these invasive ants to non-infested areas. Movement of regulated items from quarantined to non-quarantined areas is restricted unless specific actions are taken to ensure the regulated items are fire ant free. Regulated items can move freely within the quarantine area.

The list of regulated items include:

-Nursery stock with soil or potting media

-Grass sod

-Baled hay stored in contact with the soil

-Baled straw stored in contact with the soil

-Soil

-And used soil-moving equipment.

Additional information, including interactive maps are available through USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection service at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/plantheatlh/plantdiseases/imported-fire-ants.

Find information specific to Arkansas on the fire ant and other quarantines here:https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/plant-industries/regulatory-section/quarantines/.

Back to School: De Queen School District preparing for class to resume with facility improvements, COVID plans    7/13/2021

DE QUEEN – It’s hard to believe but classes for Arkansas students resume again in just little over a month.
That means the De Queen School District is wrapping up several projects in time for the new school year, one everyone hopes is unhindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The De Queen School Board met last night to discuss several ongoing projects around the district planned for completion by the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Those include running fiber optic cables to the new video scoreboard at Leopard Stadium, new flooring for the primary campus, HVAC improvements and, most noticeably, the new field turf and other renovations at Leopard Stadium. Those include new homeside bleachers and stadium seating.
The field turf project was made possible through a partnership between the school district and numerous area businesses. Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district is confident the new turf field will be ready for use by the first football game of the season.
The CDC announced last week its recommendation for all schools in the United States to reopen fully this upcoming school year. Sanders said that was already the plan for De Queen Public Schools, which managed to continue throughout the pandemic and the 2020-2021 school year with only minor interruptions caused by COVID-19. School districts in Arkansas are not authorized to impose mask mandates but Sanders said De Queen parents can choose to send their children to school with masks if they prefer.
Sanders added the sanitary practices implemented over the last school year will continue into the new, along with easy, on-campus access to COVID-19 vaccines for teachers, staff and students aged 12 and up. Sanders stressed those vaccines will be available for anyone who wants one and will not be required.
During last night’s school board meeting, the board voted on several other items including the hiring of Amy Barker as the new De Queen Primary School principal. She will replace Sharon Pigeon, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year.
The school board also heard from its financial advisor, Ray Beardsley of First Security Beardsley Public Finance, about several school bond refinances. He said the district had successfully secured lower rates on all bond issues, including a rate of less than one percent on one of the issues, saving the district nearly $80,000.
The board then approved a $150,000 project to build a new 1.5 acre playground on the backside of the elementary school. Sanders said the new playground will not require students to cross any roads to access and will have a greatly increased capacity of 200 children. Other capital projects approved Monday night includes a $90,000 bid for fencing around Leopard Stadium, new weight equipment for the basketball program and the cost of placing sponsor logos on the new field turf at the stadium.
Classes are set to resume for students within the De Queen School District on Monday, Aug. 16.
Ashdown grad Jaden Hill selected for Rockies in MLB draft   7/13/2021
By Bill Franques, LSU Athletics
LSU junior right-hander Jaden Hill was selected Monday in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies.
Hill, a graduate of Ashdown High School was the 44th overall selection in the draft, which began Sunday with Round 1 and continued on Monday with Rounds 2-10. The draft will conclude on Tuesday with Rounds 11-20. Monday’s selection marked Hill’s second in the MLB Draft.
He was chosen in the 38th round in 2018 by the St. Louis Cardinals after his senior year of high school. Hill made seven starts on the mound for the Tigers in 2021 before being sidelined by an ulnar collateral ligament injury that required Tommy John surgery on his elbow.
He posted a 2-3 mark with a 6.67 ERA in 29.2 innings, recording 12 walks and 25 strikeouts. Hill was named a 2020 third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball newspaper after the pandemic-shortened season in which he allowed no runs and just one hit in 11.2 relief innings (four appearances) while recording five walks, 17 strikeouts and two saves. He limited opponents to an .028 (1-for-36) batting average on the year.
Hill pitched as a starter in LSU’s 2019 weekend rotation for the first two weeks of the season before having to sit out the remainder of the year due to a shoulder ailment. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week after defeating Air Force on February 17, as he worked five innings and limited the Falcons to one run on four hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
De Queen and all other schools to again provide free lunch, breakfast    7/13/2021
DE QUEEN – The USDA waiver implemented last year authorizing school districts in the country to provide free breakfast and lunch will continue into the next school year.
De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders said the extension of this waiver is good news for families facing other struggles during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the economic consequences caused by it.
The USDA’s decision, encouraged by President Joe Biden, allows schools to serve meals under the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option, which is open to all children and maintains the nutrition standards of the standard school meal programs.
Tammy Huddleston named 2021 De Queen Rotarian of the Year    7/13/2021
Tammy Huddleson recognizes JP Atkins with a plaque commemorating his tenure as De Queen Rotary Club President for 2020-2021. The incoming president is Erika Buenrostro of UA Cossatot.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Rotary Club held its annual awards ceremony Monday to recognize local outstanding Rotarians and officially change leadership.

A number of awards were handed out, including De Queen Rotarian of the Year to long-serving Rotarian Spike Dunlop.
Three 20-year members were also recognized, Teresa Brewer, Ceci Bettel and Marian Chandler. Perfect attendance certificates were awarded to ZZ Kamruddin, Jerry Davis, Tammy Huddleston, Spike Dunlop and JP Atkins.
Finally, Club President JP Atkins officially passed the gavel to incoming De Queen Rotary Club President Ericka Buenrostro. Buenrostro is an employee of UA Cossatot.
Third annual October Cruise Over this fall in Lockesburg   7/13/2021
LOCKESBURG – The third annual October Cruise Over has been scheduled for this fall in Lockesburg. The car show, set to draw out dozens of custom cars, trucks and bikes, has been set for Oct. 9 at the Ida Margaret Coulter Stone Park in Lockesburg. Registration will begin at eight that morning with an awards ceremony set for 3 p.m.

The car show will feature concessions, entertainment, activities and door prizes throughout the day. Cost to register a vehicle is $20 on the day of the show. Categories include best rat rod, top five pre-50’s truck, top five post-50’s truck, best motorcycle, and several other categories for both cars and trucks.
Proceeds from the event will go to serve the local Masonic Scholarship Fund and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. For more information contact Rodney Whisenhunt at (870) 451-3273 or Mark King at (870) 200-1337.

2021 Future Leopard Football Camp set for later this month   7/13/2021
DE QUEEN – Registration continues for the 2021 Future Leopard Football Camp at De Queen Public Schools.

The event has been set for July 26, 27 and 29 at the Leopard Football Stadium each day. Eligible grades are kindergarten through fifth. The camp will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. each night.
Cost is $50 and includes a t-shirt.

The Future Leopard Football Camp is being organized by the Leopard Football coaching staff and players. Campers will learn and develop the basic skills and fundamentals of football that will assist them as future Leopards football players.

Campers will be involved in sessions that include form running, agility and change of direction. All participants will interact with current Leopard football players and coaches to help build the future foundation of the Leopard football program.

For more information, visit the De Queen School District’s Facebook page or contact Leopard Head Football Coach Brad Chesshir at (870) 584-4312.

State, local law enforcement launch “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” anti-speeding campaign   7/13/2021
Arkansas law enforcement officers have launched a speed enforcement blitz with additional patrols to stop speeding drivers.  Operating under the tagline, “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine”, state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and local police officers have committed to confront the safety threat caused by drivers who choose to ignore the posted speed limit on Arkansas highways and local streets.

Starting today and continuing through Sunday, July 18, the intensified enforcement operation will involve law enforcement officers from state and local departments, big and small.

Speeding violations across Arkansas have been trending upward over the past 18 months, correlating with an increase in fatalities from motor vehicle crashes, according to Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.

When a driver increases the speed of a vehicle, it reduces the reaction time the driver has to safely react to unexpected hazards and too often the end result is serious injury or death to drivers and passengers, Bryant added.

During calendar year 2019 the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) documented 26 percent of all traffic fatalities, or 132 lives lost, in speeding related crashes.

Nationally, about 15 percent of the speeding related fatalities occur on interstate highways annually.

Speed also affects safety even when a vehicle is being driven at the speed limit but too fast for road conditions, such as during bad weather, when a road is under repair or in an area at night that is not well lit.

NHTSA considers a crash to be speed related if a driver was charged with exceeding the posted speed limit or if the driver was driving too fast for conditions.

For more information on the “Obey the Sign, or Pay the Fine” mobilization, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visitwww.TZDarkansas.org

Mena man killed in collision with train Friday morning     7/12/2021
NEW POTTER – A Mena truck driver was killed when his Peterbilt truck collided with a train in New Potter Friday morning, according to the Arkansas State Police. 62-year-old Jerry Price of Mena was eastbound on Polk County Road 48 when his Peterbilt truck collided with a southbound train.

The accident occurred at 7:28 a.m. Friday at Arkansas 375 West in New Potter.

According to the State Police report, the weather was clear and the road was dry at the time of the accident.

Ashdown man charged with July 4 shooting incident in Miller County     7/12/2021

ASHDOWN – Authorities say they have an Ashdown man in custody wanted for a shooting on July 4 which fortunately left no one dead or injured.

According to the Miller County Sheriff’s Office, officers with the Ashdown Police Department arrested 19-year-old Neil Williams, Jr. on July 8 in connection to the incident over the Fourth of July weekend. He is facing numerous felony charges, including seven counts of aggravated assault and 11 counts of committing a terrorist act. Williams is currently in the Miller County Jail awaiting his first court appearance.

The Miller County Sheriff’s Office reported responding to a residence on Miller County Road 139 on July 4 after occupants said someone had fired a gun into the home. Although no one was injured, there were several occupants inside the home at the time. It is believed the incident was related to an ongoing dispute between one of the victims and Williams.

Dierks Pharmacy, De Queen Health and Wellness to give away $1,000 thru vaccine drive     7/12/2021

DIERKS – Two area pharmacies are teaming up to help encourage more people to get their COVID-19 vaccines.

The Dierks Pharmacy and the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy have partnered up to create a new, $1,000 incentive for Arkansans who have not yet received their vaccine. Anyone who receives either their first vaccine dose or both at oneof the two pharmacies during the month of July is eligible to enter the $1,000 cash prize drawing.

e drawing will be held during the Dierks Pine Tree Festival July 30-31. Participants do not have to be present at the festival to win if their name is drawn.

For more information, contact the Dierks Pharmacy at (870) 286-2131 or the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy at (870) 642-2400.

The Arkansas Department of Health is continuing its own vaccine incentives, allowing those who get their vaccine to stop by any county health unit to receive either a $20 Arkansas Scholarship Lottery scratch-off ticket or a $20 Arkansas Game and Fish Commission gift certificate.

State and local health officials are continuing to express concern over what appears to be a renewed surge of COVID-19 infections in Arkansas.

Last week saw the first time in over five months that the state reported at least 1,000 new cases in a single day period. On Friday the Arkansas Department of Health reported over 1,100 new cases in just that 24-hour period. Case rose by 1,200 just the day before. Hospitalizations are also seeing a dramatic rise, increasing from a little over a hundred a month ago to nearly 500 as of Friday.

Those increases are starting to be seen locally as well. In Sevier County, active cases last week rose to 21 – the highest figure in months and a dramatic increase from the single-digit caseload reported just a couple of weeks ago. Howard County is currently reporting 18 active cases at this time. Little River County saw its active caseload grow to 12 on Friday.

Sevier County Health Officer Dr. Jason Lofton said his recommendation and those of other health experts remains, get the vaccine.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, just over 30 percent of Sevier County residents are fully vaccinated. Little River is just under 22 percent, one of the lowest rates in the state. Howard County is among the top counties in Arkansas in regards to fully vaccinated residents at 36 percent.

COVID-19 vaccines are currently available at many health providers and pharmacies across the state, including the De Queen Health and Wellness Pharmacy and the Sevier County Health Unit. For Little River residents, vaccines can be obtained through the Walmart pharmacy. Vaccines are widespread and currently available for all Arkansans aged 12 and up. For more information on where to obtain vaccines, and for more info on COVID-19 in general, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

July is Watermelon Month in Arkansas     7/12/2021

Arkansans know that no summer barbecue is complete without fresh watermelon. Our state may not be the largest producer of watermelon, but Arkansas communities lay claim to being the home of the world’s largest and the world’s sweetest.

The month of July is known as National Watermelon Month. July is typically the largest shipping month of the year, with over 15 states harvesting simultaneously.

The United States currently ranks 7th in the worldwide production of watermelon. Over 1,200 varieties of watermelon are grown across 96 countries worldwide. But the impact the crop has on communities here in Arkansas has been a cause for celebration for decades.

In Arkansas, we have more than 200 farms harvesting more than 1,500 acres of watermelons. Crops are valued at more than $5 million.

The city of Hope annually celebrates its claim as the home of the world’s largest watermelons with a yearly watermelon festival. The event first originated in 1926 and has been ongoing, though not continuous, since 1977. This year’s festival is just around the corner, scheduled for Aug. 5-7.

Researchers are now finding out that watermelons are even more nutritious than previously known. The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service recently identified over 1,500 small molecules of diverse chemical characters in the fruit, known as phytochemicals. They concluded that eating watermelon is an excellent way to increase your intake of antioxidants, non-protein amino acids, and lycopene. This means that every time