Friday, February 28, 2020

Local News

Today's News

DE QUEEN MAN FOUND WITH METH PIPE AFTER TRAFFIC STOP TUESDAY 02/28/20

A De Queen man was held in the local jail after authorities discovered two travelers with warrants out for their arrest during a traffic stop in Sevier County Tuesday, February 25th.

A report released by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department states that Chief Deputy Chad Dowdle and Deputy Justin Gentry were patrolling Smith Road East of De Queen Tuesday when they observed two people traveling in a green Pontiac car without wearing seatbelts.

The driver of the vehicle was identified as Tony Evans, and the passenger is listed as Donavon Ford, both residents of De Queen, Arkansas. The Deputies were informed through dispatch services that Tony Evans had a warrant out in Texas but authorities did not pursue extradition. The passenger, Donavon was discovered to have a warrant out for his arrest in Polk County, Arkansas and authorities did wish to have him picked up. 

Donavon was transported to The Sevier County Jail where he reportedly admitted to being in possession of a pipe used for smoking methamphetamines concealed in his boot. Authorities recovered the glass pipe containing suspected meth residue wrapped inside a sock and Donavon was charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, both class D felonies.

DIERKS MAN SENTENCED IN SEXUAL ASSUALT CASE 02/28/20

A Dierks man was sentenced to 15 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections earlier this week on Tuesday, February 25th. The man, 53-year-old Rhodie Romine, was found guilty and sentenced following a bench trial before Circuit Judge Tom Cooper.
Romine was charged with Second Degree Sexual Assault last year in 2019. Prosecutors report that Romine was accused of having sexual contact with an underage victim in March of 2019.
The felony count carried a prison term of five to twenty years. He will be given credit for jail time served.

NEW SCHOLARSHIP ESTABLISHED AT UA COSSATOT 02/28/20

Horatio resident, Gayla Irvan, donated to the UA Cossatot Foundation to establish the Alex Scholarship.
The scholarship is to honor the memory of her son, Alex Irvan. The Alex Scholarship is for UA Cossatot students accepted into the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program. Eligible applicants will need to have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and have a financial need. The scholarship will award one applicant $500 for the academic year.
Irvan said, “I had a disabled child and I wanted to give to a college with an OTA program to help students who could work with people with disabilities and helping with other rehabilitation services.”
The UA Cossatot Foundation exists to create awareness of the need for scholarships while focusing efforts on raising resources to meet the need and furthering UA Cossatot’s institutional development.
UA Cossatot Foundation Director, Dustin Roberts said, “Mrs. Irvan has a big heart and a strong desire to help others succeed. This gift in memory of her son, Alex, is greatly appreciated and will help a deserving OTA student at UA Cossatot.”
For more information on how to support UA Cossatot Foundation, please contact Dustin Roberts at 870-584-1172 or droberts@cccua.edu.

SEVIER COUNTY ELECTION COMISSION TO HOLD MEETING TUESDAY 02/28/20

There will be a meeting of the Sevier County Election Commission on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 5:00 P.M. The meeting will be held in the County Courthouse in the Conference Room. This meeting is to canvass the results of the Primary Election held on the same day.
There will be a meeting on the 9th of March to conduct Provisional Ballot Hearings. This meeting will start at 1 P.M. in the County Clerk’s office.
All Election Commission meetings are open to the public.

AGFC TO HOST PUBLIC MEETING IN SW ARKANSAS MARCH 18TH 02/27/20

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host a special open forum for the public at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus on March 18. The forum will begin at 6 p.m. in Hempstead Hall, 2500 S. Main St., in Hope.
The AGFC hosted three open town hall meetings during 2019, and this will be the first scheduled for 2020.
This forum will take on a different look than previous town hall meetings. Instead of Commissioners sitting in front of a crowd to answer questions, they and various AGFC staff will be stationed at tables throughout the room to answer questions on a one-on-one level.
“We received some excellent participation from the public at the last three meetings,” AGFC Director Pat Fitts said. “We hope to offer even more time for individual questions and engagement with the public through this new format. Everyone will still be able to talk directly to Commissioners or staff, but we hope this gives a much more personal environment where people can speak freely.”
Brief presentations are planned before the open question period. Anyone who wishes to speak is encouraged to attend.
Visit the AGFC’s YouTube page for a recap of questions and answers during the previous three meetings. A direct link to the Stuttgart meeting, held in November, is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9B7_7iehas.

ARKANSAS AG TO HOST SCAM PREVENTION WEBCAST 02/27/20

Later this Spring, The Office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will be hosting a scam prevention webcast March 5th in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week. This free webcast on scams and consumer protection will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and is open to the public.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division represents and protects the State, its subdivisions, legitimate business community and Arkansas consumers.
This webcast will review the many ways the Attorney General’s office can be utilized as a resource, common scams to be aware of and how to avoid them, and identity theft. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions during the presentation.
The Attorney General’s office has applied for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) and law enforcement standards (CLEST) credit.

Previously Reported

DE QUEEN MAN FACING MULTIPLE DRUG RELATED CHARGES AFTER TRAFFIC STOP MONDAY 02/26/20

A De Queen man has been charged with multiple drug-related Crimes after a Deputy with The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department pulled a vehicle over for traffic violations Monday, February 24th.
A report released by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department states that Deputy Isaac Alvarado was dispatched to the area of HWY 29 and Farm to Market Road in regards to a suspicious vehicle call. While en route to the scene, Deputy Alvarado noted witnessing a vehicle commit multiple traffic violations. That vehicle was listed as a 2013 Dodge Ram being driven by a man identified as Steven Curtis , age 18, of De Queen.
During the traffic stop, a sobriety test was administered that resulted in Curtis being placed into custody for suspicion of DWI. A search of the truck revealed marijuana, THC oil and drug paraphernalia to be located in Steven’s possession. The suspect was transported to the Sevier County Jail in De Queen and charged with possession of a controlled substance, drug paraphernalia, and DWI drugs. All charges are listed as misdemeanors and a court date for Steven Curtis has been set for April 28th, 2020.

MISS UA COSSATOT PAGEANT ANNOUNCED 02/26/20

The second annual Miss UA Cossatot Scholarship Pageant will be held at the historic UA Cossatot Bank of Lockesburg Gymnasium on Saturday, March 28, 2020, at 6:00 P.M. The winner of the pageant will be crowned Miss UA Cossatot 2020 by Perri Lowrey, and will also receive a full-tuition waiver while attending UA Cossatot. This is an opportunity for current and future UA Cossatot students to receive a scholarship, and also to promote their school and their community.
To be a contestant in the pageant you must be a female student who has never been married, you must be seventeen to twenty-one years old, and have a GPA of 2.5 or above. To participate, you must also be a current student at UA Cossatot or an area high school senior who plans to enroll at UA Cossatot. The winner of the pageant will be expected to make appearances and be on UA Cossatot promotional material while being a student at UA Cossatot for at least two semesters after being crowned Miss UA Cossatot.
The UA Cossatot Student Ambassadors are coordinating the pageant, and admission prices for the event are $5. UA Cossatot students and high school students can pay $3 to attend, and there is no fee for children twelve and under to attend.
UA Cossatot Student Ambassador, Jhamilex Hernandez, said, “This is our second Miss UA Cossatot pageant. I know the pageant will be a super fun night, but it will also be an opportunity for the winner to earn scholarship money.”
The theme for the second annual pageant will be “The Roaring Twenties”. For anyone interested in participating in the pageant, please visit www.cccua.edu/missuac for more information.

ARKANSAS TO JOIN MULTISTATE INVESTIGATION OF TOBACCO VAPE COMPANY 02/26/20

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced joining a bipartisan, multistate investigation of JUUL Labs. The 39-state multistate coalition is investigating JUUL’s marketing and sales practices, including targeting of youth, claims regarding nicotine content and statements about risks, safety and effectiveness as a smoking cessation device.
“Misinformation and inaccurate advertising has run rampant in the vaping industry, enticing our youth to use a virtually unknown product” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Millions have been put at risk and it’s time to fight back against JUUL for making profits through deceptive practices.”
While traditional cigarette use has plummeted among young people, vaping is skyrocketing. From 2017 to 2018, Arkansas saw a 78 percent increase in high school students vaping and a 48 percent increase in middle school students vaping.
Rutledge has been at the forefront of the fight against the vaping crisis. In 2019, she hosted two Youth Vaping Summits in Little Rock and Bentonville, bringing medical experts together to help present facts and address the public on the real dangers associated with e-cigarette use.
Rutledge also issued an Enforcement Advisory to 100 online e-cigarette retailers, warning them that it is illegal to sell or ship any nicotine products, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids, to consumers in Arkansas. The advisory warned of potential legal action if businesses are found selling to minors over the internet.
In October 2019, Rutledge filed suit against three online e-cigarette retailers for violating Arkansas laws. By selling and shipping nicotine products and devices to Arkansas children without age verification, the companies are in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
To learn more about the dangers of youth vaping, visit ArkansasAG.gov.

MARGARET DANIEL FOUNDATION DINNER RAISES OVER $9,010 IN ASHDOWN 02/26/20

Ashdown School Board Member Glenda Smedley, Ashdown Teacher and Foundation Board Member Brenda Tate, and Ashdown School Board Member Rosa Bowman
The Annual Margaret Daniel Educational Foundation Dinner was held in the Ashdown High School Cafeteria on Saturday, February 15 and sponsored by Trammell Piazza Law Firm, PLLC. The cafeteria was set for an elegant dinner of creamy green pea soup (Sponsored by Red River Oil/McIver Abstract & Title), Bibb salad with raspberry maple dressing (Sponsored by Little River Health System), smokey garlic pork loin with mahogany sauce and spiced peaches, loaded mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach & corn, (sponsored by Cowling Title) and cream cheese carrot cake crumble (sponsored by Judge Mike Cranford and Horatio State Bank) prepared by Chef Lois Corbell and assisted by Gary Corbell, Michelle Haskins and Wilma Burke. The delicious meal was served by the AHS Skills USA and Beta Club students and guided by their sponsors Mrs. Amy Silva and Mr. Elmorris Hopkins. The evening entertainment of piano music was provided by Ashdown High School student pianists Ariel Shumake, Ashlyn Harger, Alex Hamby, Dal Ringgold, Tryston McCandless, Grant Young and his dad Mr. Carl Young (sponsored by Red River Federal Credit Union).
The evening raised over $9,010. AHS Principal, Kay York Wortham said, “We are all delighted in the outpouring of support for our students and schools. Grants totaling over $137,000.00 have been awarded since 2005 to teachers in the Ashdown School District. The teachers and staff at Ashdown have many unique and innovative ideas in which they wish to come to fruition and the Margaret Daniel Educational Foundation provides the support and funds to do so.”
The Foundation Board continues to keep the standards high so that each dollar that is given either as a gift, memorial or honorarium is in turn granted to projects and ideas that meet the goals set forth by the Margaret Daniel Educational Foundation. Wortham said, “We want our donors to know that their hard earned dollars are benefitting students in Ashdown to reach higher learning and academic achievement through unique and state of the art ideas and materials.”
Grants have been awarded for World Drumming Materials, sensory stations, butterfly gardens, AHS art supplies, engineering equipment for robots and programming, Colombia University Writing Institutes, the Baby Grand Piano at Ashdown High School, and most recently computer software and equipment for our computer science class to work closely with the AHS Baseball Team on data analysis. These grants have provided over-the-top opportunities for our teachers and students.
The Foundation accepts donations, memorials, and honorariums throughout the year as well as providing for the annual dinner and silent auction in February each year. Ashdown School District Employees that are “invested” have been giving $10 per month which is automatically deducted and given to the foundation each month. According to Wortham, “That is a true blessing.”
Foundation Board members include: Darren Thomas, Brenda Tate, Kari Harger, Beth Provence, Thad Bishop, Katrina Williamson, Mallory Wharton and Kay Wortham.
Any donations can be mailed to: MD Ed. Foundation, 171 South Locust, Ashdown, AR 71822

JONQUIL FESTIVAL SET FOR MARCH 20-22 IN WASHINGTON 02/26/20

The 52nd Annual Jonquil Festival will be held at Historic Washington State Park, March 20-22, 2020 and the Festival is Free to enter, $5 for Parking and Tours at regular prices.

Jonquils are in bloom at Historic Washington State Park and a tremendous line-up of Entertainment and fun await those who will be visiting the park on March 20th through 22nd for the 52nd Annual Jonquil Festival.
In addition to our crafters and food concessions, festivities will include the Four States Iron Munchers, 5K run, and singing competition.

The Washington Volunteer Fire Department will be having a Burger Fundraiser Saturday beginning at 11:30am under the Farmer’s Market pavilion. There will also be a free concert featuring Dillan Cate, a country/rock artist from Northeast Arkansas beginning at 11:30am under large green and yellow entertainment tent.
One thing that makes this festival stand out from other events is the “Atmosphere”. Strolling the board walks, watching children play in the jonquils, picnicking on festival food or enjoying music under the entertainment tent, there is something for every family member to enjoy. After shopping and enjoying a great meal, you cna experience history in the 19th century by touring locations such as the Weapons Museum, the Print Museum, and the Blacksmith Shop, famed home of the Bowie Knife!
Williams Tavern Restaurant will be open serving the buffet all three days from 11am – 3pm.

FIRE CAUSED LOSS OF HOME FOR LOCAL FAMILY, DONATIONS BEING ACCEPTED 02/25/20

More information about a house fire that caused the displacement of a local family last week was released by The De Queen Fire Department Monday. The report states that the De Queen Fire Department was dispatched to the scene of a structure fire on the edge of De Queen Thursday, February 20th, 2020.
Seven members of the department responded to the all-call alarm at 10:30 a.m. and arrived to the house fire by 10:45 a.m. The home was located on Swift Road and The Horatio Fire Department assisted in handling the scene. Water was used to extinguish the fire but Chief Dennis Pruitt confirmed the flames caused a total loss of the structure. The Department left the scene by 12:03 p.m.
No insurance company was listed for the home in the report and no persons received injuries as a result of the fire.
An occupant of the home is an employee of The City of De Queen and donations are currently being accepted at city hall to help the family during this difficult time.
Donations can be dropped of during business hours at city hall, located at 220 North 2nd Street in De Queen, Arkansas.

TRIAL DATE SET FOR NASHVILLE WOMAN WHO FILED FALSE REPORT IN SEVIER COUNTY 02/25/20

A Nashville woman accused of filing a false police report in Sevier County has a trial date set for May 13th, 2020.
Casey Parker, age 31 of Nashville was arrested February 4th, 2020 for falsely reporting that her vehicle had been stopped near the Highway 70/71 intersection by someone impersonating a police officer. Parker claimed the man who stopped her was a black male, weighing around 200 lbs and standing 5’7 inches tall.
Deputies with The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, De Queen Police Department, 9th West Judicial Drug Task Force, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Highway Patrol, Howard County Sheriff’s Department, and the Little River County Sheriff’s Department were all assisting in the attempted apprehension of the alleged suspect before the claim was determined to be a hoax.
Deputies reported as they began investigating the incident, they received information that Parker had made up the story as a prank.
Casey was arrested that same day and charged with Class D Felony for filing a false report and was held in the Sevier County Jail.
Parker’s pre-trial date is scheduled for April 30th.

HARVEST REGIONAL FOOD BANK COMING TO SEVIER COUNTY THIS WEEK 02/25/20

Harvest Regional Food Bank is returning to Sevier County with its TEFAP USDA Commodity Mobile Pantry. “We have several communities in our rural service area that are not fully served by local partner agencies. To be sure that the residents in these areas are served, we are providing direct service where needed.” said Camille Coker Wrinkle, Executive Director of Harvest Regional Food Bank.
Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute TEFAP USDA Commodities directly from their truck on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 from 10 am to noon. The truck will be parked at the Horatio First United Methodist Church located at 304 S Pennock St., AR. Next Mobile Pantry will be on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Recipients must bring photo identification verifying their age and residence in Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one per household. USDA TEFAP Commodities will be available for those who meet income requirements. Please note, the day of mobile pantry will be on a Wednesday.

FREE PREDATOR TRAPPING WORKSHOP IN HEMPSTEAD COUNTY 02/25/20

A free predator trapping workshop for Arkansas Hunters has been announced in Southwest Arkansas this weekend. Trapping provides important benefits for people, habitat and wildlife. The workshop will cover basic trapping safety, trapping equipment and preparation, selective trapping techniques, ethical best management practices, trap modifications and care, as well as fur handling and preparation.
There is free Admission and the workshop will be held at Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center in Columbus, Arkansas on Highway 73 in Hempstead County .

This program is for adults and teens age 15 and older and attendees should meet at the pavilion dressed for outdoors Friday, February 28th at 6:00 p.m..
There is no fee for this program thanks to support of the 1/8 Cent Conservation Sales Tax.
For more information about this or any other program, please contact the Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center at 870-983-2790.

DE QUEEN HIGH SCHOOL QUIZ BOWL TEAM STILL ON TOP IN MID-SEASON POLL 02/25/20

De Queen, Fort Smith Southside, Russellville, Arkadelphia, Mountain View, Haas Hall-Fayetteville and Norfork High School all top their divisions, from 7A to 1A, respectively in a mid-season poll of participating Arkansas Governor’s Quiz Bowl Association (AGQBA) coaches.
The poll was administered by Arkansas Friends of Quiz Bowl, a nonprofit organization comprised of alumni, coaches and others who support quiz bowl in Arkansas by, among other things, funding annual scholarships for quiz bowl players.
Polls were taken in January in which all AGQBA coaches were asked to rank their opponents by division, as determined by their classification in the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA). Weighted points were assigned to higher rankings. A composite score was generated from those weighted points to determine the highest ranking teams in each division.
A similar poll conducted in September prior to the beginning of the academic year’s competitions had Conway, Russellville, De Queen, Arkadelphia, Centerpoint, Haas Hall-Fayetteville and Haas Hall-Rogers as the top ranked teams in each division from 7A to 1A, respectively.
Quiz bowl is an academic competition governed by the AGQBA under the administration of the AAA. During games, players answer questions on a variety of academic topics such as literature, art, music, history, science and math to earn points.
Games are structured such that teams must rely on the individual knowledge of each player to answer most questions but are allowed to work collaboratively on others. State championships will be played in April and broadcast live on the Arkansas Educational Television Network.
5A includes: De Queen, Morrilton, Huntsville, White Hall, and Little Rock Christian.

FIESTA FESTIVAL ANNOUNCED FOR DE QUEEN MAY 2ND 02/25/20

Fiesta Fest will be held on Saturday, May 2, 2020, on North 3rd Street of the courthouse in Downtown De Queen from 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. The festival’s focus is bringing the community together to celebrate all the cultures of Southwest Arkansas while raising scholarship money for UA Cossatot students.
Festivities will include food, vendors, live music, a DJ, folkloric dancing, carnival rides, games, face painting, shopping, a petting zoo, and a mariachi.
The UA Cossatot Student Ambassadors will host the De Kolores 5k run before the festival at 8:00 A.M. in the same location. The entry fee is $20 and t-shirts are guaranteed to pre-registration participants. Registration forms can be found at www.cccua.edu/ff5k. Completed forms can be mailed to Ben Renfrow C/O UA Cossatot 183 College Drive De Queen, AR 71832.
Sponsors and vendors are wanted for Fiesta Fest. Sponsorship and vendor forms can be found online at www.cccua.edu/ff or by contacting Dustin Roberts at droberts@cccua.edu or 870-584-1172.

TRAFFIC STOP LEADS TO METH DISCOVERY IN DE QUEEN 02/24/20

A man was jailed on multiple drug-related charges after a traffic stop was conducted in De Queen earlier this month. A report released by The De Queen Police Department states that Sergeant Wayne Baker was eastbound on Colin Raye Drive on February 14th when he observed a pick up truck in front of him change lanes without using a turn signal.

Wayne pulled the vehicle over and identified the driver as De Queen resident Stacey Higgins, who was known to officers from previous interactions involving an arrest for methamphetamine possession. Higgins reportedly claimed there was a problem with the turn signal on his vehicle and looked away when asked if he was in possession of anything illegal.

After being granted permission to search the truck, a brown crystal-like substance was discovered to have been concealed by paper inside a cigarette pack. Higgins was transported to the De Queen Police Department where he was read his rights and agreed to answer questions. During the questioning, Higgins also presented a pipe for meth consumption that had been kept in his sock. That pipe was discovered to contain residue of suspected methamphetamine and Higgins was charged with both possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The suspected methamphetamine was reported to weigh a total of .03 grams. Higgins was held at the Sevier County Jail for the crimes.

CREATE BRIDGES SEEKING SURVEY PARTICIPATION FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT 02/24/20

A pilot program focusing on rural economic development in six rural Arkansas counties is surveying employees to learn more about job training and experiences that can bolster businesses in the retail, tourism, entertainment and accommodations industries.
Create Bridges, a multi-state program to help communities strengthen their retail, tourism, accommodations, and entertainment sectors, which in turn provide jobs and business opportunities that can boost rural economies, is seeking survey participants. In Arkansas, the efforts are organized by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Community, Professional and Economic Development unit.

The program was established in October 2018 in two regions in Arkansas. The 3Cs Region includes Howard, Little River and Sevier counties, while the Ozark Foothills Region is made up of Fulton, Izard and Sharp counties.
In 2019, Create Bridges held forums in several counties throughout the state to gather information about community assets in the retail, tourism, entertainment and accommodations industries. They also interviewed business owners to learn about the opportunities, benefits and challenges of operating a business in rural Arkansas.
Now, the project is focusing on gathering employee insight, asking survey participants about their current skills, areas in which they want to improve, and training available to them. The survey also asks about the types of benefits employees appreciate in their jobs, such as flexible scheduling, training opportunities, childcare assistance and insurance. Finally, the survey asked participants about the factors affecting their ability to work, including limited transportation options, housing availability, and child or elder care access.
Employees in the six program counties can access the survey at http://bit.ly/CBEmployeeSurvey. The survey is anonymous and takes about 15 minutes to complete. Results will be used to create strategies to support these businesses including workforce training.
Julianne Dunn, economic development instructor for the Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service, encouraged employees to participate in the program.
“The employee perspective will be invaluable to identifying training and policy opportunities to promote the flourishing of these types of businesses,” Dunn said.

Create Bridges — an acronym for Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism, and Entertainment by Building Rural Innovations and Developing Growth Economies — has already held community forums and a retail academy for regional leaders.

DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 02/24/20

Early voting for the Arkansas Preferential Primary and Nonpartisan General Election began last week and will continue up until the date of the election, Tuesday, March 3.

Although many of the headlines focus on the Presidential race, it’s important to remember the other significant elections on your March ballot including legislators and judges.

Non-partisan elections for judicial candidates and prosecutors are held at the same time as Democratic and Republican primaries.
If no candidate wins a majority in the non-partisan races, the two candidates with the most votes participate in a runoff. If a runoff is required, it takes place on the same day as the general election for partisan races, and runoff candidates appear on the general election ballot.

Arkansas is one of thirteen states that choose their state supreme court justices in entirely nonpartisan elections and one of eighteen states that select judges through nonpartisan elections at all trial court levels.

The polls are open between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday. Early voting ends at 5:00 pm on the Monday before the election. The polls on Election Day will be open from 7:30 am until 7:30 pm. Once at the polls, you will be asked to show a photo ID issued by either the United States, the State of Arkansas, or an accredited postsecondary educational institution in the State of Arkansas.

In most counties, early voting is conducted at the county clerk’s office. In counties with off-site early voting (a location other than the county clerk’s office), local newspapers will publish the designated sites. You can also find your polling location and a sample ballot at www.voterview.org.

DANNY RUTH PASSES LEAGUE CERTIFICATION PROGRAM    02/21/20

The Arkansas Municipal League congratulates Danny Ruth, who has achieved or maintained their status as a Certified Municipal Official through the League’s Voluntary Certified Continuing Education Program.

The certified municipal officials were honored during the opening night banquet at the League’s 2020 Winter Conference, held Feb. 12-14 in Little Rock.

Numerous municipal officials representing cities and towns from across the state completed 15 core Level 1 hours and six continuing education hours of study in subjects such as budgeting, personnel management and methods of effective leadership. To maintain certification, graduates must complete six hours of continuing education workshops each year.

The program continues in 2020 with workshops held throughout the year at the League’s North Little Rock headquarters and in June at the League’s Annual Convention in Little Rock. The League is also expanding its certification program this year, offering Advanced Level 2 workshops for those who have achieved Level 1 status in addition to offering a new Certified Municipal Personnel designation for key municipal personnel such as department heads and finance directors.

The Arkansas Municipal League is a service and advocacy organization for the municipalities of Arkansas. The League offers its programs and services to 500 cities and towns in Arkansas and was created in 1934 to assist cities with information and representation in the public affairs of our state and nation. To find out more, please visit www.arml.org.

UA COSSATOT RECOGNIZES AMERICAN HEART MONTH 02/24/20

February is recognized as American Heart Month. The UA Cossatot Employee Safety and Wellness Committee and the college’s Continuing Education department are both promoting heart health and CPR training this month to educate individuals throughout the year.
Statistics indicate that over 17 million people in the U.S. have coronary heart disease, with 234,000 of those individuals in Arkansas. About 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year.
The UA Cossatot Employee Safety and Wellness Committee has teamed up with the college’s Educational Resource Center (ERC) to provide heart-healthy information to everyone at the college.

This month in the ERC, students and employees can view fact sheets, statistics, and suggestions to improve heart health. Large heart magnets displaying signs of a heart attack are also available and free to anyone.

UA Cossatot’s Continuing Education department is also promoting American Heart Month by hosting a free lunch and learn in partnership with the Sevier County Coalition’s Live Well Sevier County Coalition on Thursday, February, 27 at noon. The lunch and learn will take place in the UA Cossatot Weyerhaeuser room located in the Skilled Trades building on the UA Cossatot De Queen Campus.

This lunch and learn will inform those in attendance about early heart attack care and will be presented by Radiologic Technologist, Leah Harper. All are invited to bring their lunch and enjoy this free event.

UA Cossatot is offering CPR and AED training this spring, summer, and fall on a demand basis for both initial certification and recertification. CPR is an emergency procedure that can help save a person’s life if their breathing or heart stops. More than 350,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States per year. Ninety percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest die before reaching a hospital or medical care facility. Knowing CPR can save someone’s life.

This training is available to the general public, daycare centers, industry personnel, or anyone wanting to learn the skill of CPR. To sign up for a class or to learn more about CPR courses through UA Cossatot, please contact UA Cossatot’s Continuing Education department at 870-584-1178.

BANK ROBBERY REPORTS SURFACE IN DE QUEEN 02/21/20

On Thursday February 20th, KDQN received reports about a possible attempted robbery at a bank in De Queen occurring around the 6:00 p.m. hour. We reached out to De Queen Police Chief Scott Simmons and Mayor Jeff Brown for an official statement. Mayor Brown confirmed multiple law enforcement agencies worked a call regarding a bank. The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department confirmed a burglary was attempted at Red River Credit Union in De Queen.

According to an official press release from The De Queen Police Department, on Thursday February 20th, 2020 at approximately 6:03 p.m. officers of The De Queen Police Department were dispatched to an attempted robbery call at Red River Credit Union at 6th and Collin Raye Drive in De Queen.

It was reported that a black male approached the front door of the bank and pointed a gun while attempting to open the door. The suspect is said to have then fled the scene and a pursuit was initiated after the man’s vehicle was located.

The pursuit crossed over into McCurtain County Oklahoma where the suspect’s vehicle reportedly became stuck and he then fled on foot.

The Arkansas State Police, De Queen Police Department, Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, and McCurtain County Sheriff’s Department are currently investigating the case.

As of Friday morning, February 21st, no persons of interest were reported to have been taken into custody. De Queen Police Chief Scott Simmons confirmed no suspects have been apprehended but officers are actively working the case.

CITY OF DE QUEEN ACCEPTING DONATIONS TO HELP FAMILY AFTER HOUSE FIRE 02/21/20

De Queen Fire Department Chief Dennis Pruitt has confirmed that a house Fire occurred in the local area Thursday, February 20th and the flames caused a total loss of the structure. The Horatio and Broken Bow Fire Departments assisted in handling the scene.

The home belonged to an employee of the City of De Queen and donations are currently being accepted at city hall to help the family during this difficult time.

More details will be reported in the KDQN local newscasts on 92.1 FM and donations can be dropped of during business hours at city hall, located at 220 North 2nd Street in De Queen, Arkansas.

 IMPROVEMENTS COMING FOR KIDD’S LANDING IN HEMPSTEAD COUNTY 02/21/20

On Thursday, February 20th, The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission unanimously authorized $554,800 from the state’s Marine Fuel Tax program to be used for repairs and upgrades to boat ramps and access points throughout Arkansas at its meeting today.

The money will fund eight projects ranging from road repairs and construction to parking lots, boat ramps and courtesy docks.

Marine fuel taxes are collected on gasoline and diesel fuel used in boats throughout Arkansas. The money is held by the Arkansas Department of Transportation and is distributed through a partnership between the AGFC and ArDOT.

In Southwest Arkansas, projects funded included:Improvement of Kidd’s Landing Access on Bois d’Arc Lake in Hempstead County.

The Commission also approved the 2019 White-tailed Deer Strategic Management Plan, which will help guide the agency’s efforts in managing the species for the next five years. The plan was submitted for public review throughout January and was viewed by more than 34,000 people. More than 4,100 public comment surveys were completed during this time to offer input and overall attitudes toward the plan. The final approved plan will be published at agfc.com later this week.

PUBLISHED AUTHOR TO HOST BOOK SIGNING AT LOCKESBURG LIBRARY 02/21/20

Lockesburg native and published author Davida Wynn will be hosting a meet and greet/Book signing event at the Lockesburg Library in Sevier County on Saturday, February 22nd from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

There will be free entry, door prizes, an open forum discussion, a question and answer session and book purchase and signing available. Light refreshments will be served and everyone is welcome.

Davida is a 1999 Lockesburg High School graduate who achieved a Master’s Degree in Nursing and also works as an editor, motivational speaker and advance practice nurse, in addition to being an author.

Wynn is committed to empowering women in all walks of life and she currently resides in Atlanta Georgia, though she often returns to her roots of Lockesburg to stay connected with her friends and family in Southwest Arkansas.

For questions about the book signing, call Ms. Wendy at 870-289-2233.

OFFICER ARRESTS MAN FOUND WITH DRUG PARAPHERNALIA IN DE QUEEN 02/20/20

A local man is now facing a felony charge for being in possession of drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop in De Queen Monday, February 17th.

A report released by The De Queen Police Departments states that Officer Jarrin Platt was patrolling South 4th Street around 1:20 p.m. when he observed a man known to have a suspended driver’s license traveling near the 41B and Hwy 41 South intersection.

Platt conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and confirmed the driver’s identity as Joshua Burcham, age 33 of De Queen. Burcham complied when asked to step out of the vehicle and he reportedly admitted to possessing a needle used for drugs.

A search of his person uncovered a syringe with suspected meth residue and Burcham was restrained. Platt noted finding needle marks on both of Burcham’s arms and he continued the search, but no additional paraphernalia was discovered in the car.

Platt transported the suspect to The De Police Department where he reportedly agreed to answer questions and make a statement. Burcham was charged with drug paraphernalia, class D felony and was held in The Sevier County Jail.

PINKERTON NAMED NEW ATHLETIC AND FACILITIES DIRECTOR  FOR DE QUEEN HIGH SCHOOL 02/19/20

A full agenda was handled by The De Queen School Board Tuesday night, as personnel, student healthcare and financial topics were among the most major of the 25 total items addressed during the meeting. A new Athletic Director and Facilities Director will be in order for the districts High School programs as the board agreed to promote from within and hire current Middle School Principal Mr. Lance Pinkerton to fill the role. The position opening was presented following the recent announcement of retirement for longtime coach and AD Bob Sikes.

The first item discussed Tuesday night was the bond closing with Ray Beardsley of First Security Financial. Superintendent Jason Sanders credits Mr. Beardsley for his guidance on the matter, as his financial advice helped the district obtain more than $700,000 in total unrestricted savings.

 

 

The board then heard from Angie Walker from the office of De Queen Physician, Dr. Randy Walker in regards to the proposed Leopard Clinic. The purpose of the clinic is to “help students and faculty in the district by bringing health services to them where and when they need it.” The proposed partnership will aim to reduce absences, increase vaccine compliance and fill gaps in the healthcare needs of the district by providing free access to medical services. The board agreed that educating the families and students through parent-teacher conferences, emails and informational materials prior to moving forward with the clinic would be the best approach in implementing the new services.

 

 

After holding the conferences and allowing time for public input, the board will reconvene on the issue at the April meeting.

Stephanie Jones informed the board that the show choir has raised a total of $20,450 towards their upcoming trip to attend “America Sings.” The show choir has attended the event 6 times, but this is the first group to be invited to participate in the honor choir. With around $2,000 still needed to pay for all parts of the trip, the board agreed to provide the remaining amount for the show choir to participate in the event.

All financial reports, previous meeting minutes, student transfer, substitute pay, stipends and the calendar for the 2020-2021 school year were approved, as well as the renewal of the administrative contracts.

Following the announcement of the new Athletic Director hire of Mr. Lance Pinkerton, Mr. Sanders also announced that an opportunity has been presented for assistant Middle School Principal, Brandon Lindly. As Mr. Pinkerton will step in to the AD position for the High School, the assistant principal position at the middle school will be condensed with the principal role and Mr. Lindly will serve as the principal and lead administrator for the campus.

 

 

Another big personnel change has been revealed with the announcement that Beau McCastlain will be stepping into a media relations position with the district. McCastlain is currently the baseball coach for De Queen, however he has a background in broadcasting and media and he will be leading the video board and video production class at the High School, as well as serving as a point of contact with media relations for De Queen schools. The move from baseball to video board/production will open up a spot for a head baseball coaching position and Sanders reports a recommended hire to replace McCastlain will be announced “in the next month or two.”

Good news is in order for staff members as the 2% raise announced for De Queen teachers is reportedly the first raise implemented in about 10 years. The raise will go in effect for the 2020-2021 school year.

The technology project bids were approved for two companies at a total of $310,308 to cover the installation and set up of cabling, cameras, intercom systems, and access controls for the district to feature top-notch equipment. The selected bids allow the board to save more than $400,000 from what the original bid submitted.

The board agreed to approve the start date of new head football coach Brad Chesshir on March 2nd, 2020, which allows him to participate in Spring football with the program.

Chesshir’s wife, Phylicia was also hired on with the De Queen district within the special education department. She is set to begin the position July 1st.

The final item addressed before adjourning was the selling of the Lockesburg Property on steel street. The highest bid came in at $36,500 and the letter of approval to sell the property was received from the state on Tuesday, February 18th, 2020, just in time for the board meeting.

The next De Queen School Board meeting is set for March 16th at 5:30 p.m. in The District Adminsitration building and the public is welcome.

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION MEETING HELD FOR HIGHWAY SALES TAX TOPIC IN MENA 02/19/20

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) held a public meeting on Tuesday, February 11th at the Ouachita Center on The UA Rich Mountain Campus in Mena to emphasize the need to maintaining the state sales tax on the sale of Gasoline, which is set to expire in 2023.

Featured speaker for the meeting, Scott Bennet, ARDOT Director, advocated a proposed constitutional amendment for the 2020 General Election Ballot-Issue1- that would make the tax permanent. The half-percent sales tax that was originally approved by voters in 2012 and set to expire after a 10-year run.

Bennet expressed concerns in Mena about a grim future for Arkansas infrastructure if the tax is allowed to sunset. Bennett projects the tax will raise about $205 million per year for highways and around $89.6 million to be split between cities and counties.

Approval of the proposed amendment would provide funding for thousands of miles of interstate highways and farm-to-market roads, as well as money for repairing deteriorating bridges. Bennett said the measure is needed because highway revenue has remained flat over the last 30 years. “We have had three fuel tax increases since 1983, but people are also buying vehicles that are more fuel efficient,” Bennett said. “It has kept the revenue flat while prices for construction and repairs could have continued to increase.”

Bennet said $10 million could have paid for 200 miles worth of overlay in 1995 but today, it would only cover around 54 miles. Bennett said allowing the tax to sunset would call for a 30% reduction in funding.

The November, 2020 ballot proposal, referred to voters by the Legislature, is the second part of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s $300 million highway plan.

The meeting in Mena was one of 12 total sessions planned around the state in which attendees are able to view displays, ask questions and hear from ARDOT staff about the highway tax.

UA COSSATOT HOSTS TRANSFER FAIR MONDAY 02/20/20

The 2020 UA Cossatot Transfer Fair took place on Monday, February 17, at UA Cossatot’s De Queen and Nashville Campus. Thirteen four year universities visited the college to meet with students to discuss transfer options.

The UA Cossatot Transfer Fair gives students who have chosen to go to school at UA Cossatot the chance to meet with university representatives to learn about how they can continue their education after obtaining an associate’s degree.

rkansas Tech University Assistant Director for Transfer Recruitment, Sabrina Billey, said, “I am excited to be at the UA Cossatot Transfer Fair. Arkansas Tech University has several educational opportunities for transfer students. There are five transfer scholarships available that community college students can apply for and use at Arkansas Tech University that range from $3,000 to $9,000.”

Billey added, “We also have a Tech Transfer Tracker where transfer students can view degree agreements online between UA Cossatot and Arkansas Tech. On the Tracker, students can also view how many of their credits will transfer.”

The representative from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville also provided information to students. She informed them that this past year the University of Arkansas announced that they would honor UA Cossatot’s tuition rate by offering the Arkansas Transfer Achievement Scholarship.

Anyone who graduates from UA Cossatot with a transferable degree to the University of Arkansas, which would be an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or an Associate of Arts in Teaching degree, can pay the same tuition rate at Fayetteville that they spent at UA Cossatot.
The University of Arkansas’s tuition rate per hour is $246.12. UA Cossatot’s in-district tuition rate per hour is $72. This scholarship is available for those who qualify and will allow UA Cossatot students the opportunity to continue to pay UA Cossatot’s tuition rate of $72 at Fayetteville.
UA Cossatot students wishing to learn more about transfer agreements and options at other four year universities can contact UA Cossatot Student Services Advisor, Jocelin Galvez, at 870-584-1163.

ARKANSAS AG FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST HOT SPRINGS WOMAN FOR SCAM 02/20/20

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a Hot Springs woman who facilitated a multi-million dollar international sweepstakes scheme. The complaint alleges that Jean Butler, 73, is funneling fraudulently obtained funds through numerous bank accounts to the operators of the scheme in Jamaica.

“Jean Butler was and has always been an active, willing participant in this fraudulent money mule scheme,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Money mules like Butler who help scammers take advantage of Arkansans and people across the country must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

In these types of schemes and in this particular case, the operators, who are often in foreign countries, contact potential victims and say they have won a jackpot or lottery but must first pay taxes or fees before receiving the prize. The victims are instructed to send this payment to a person in the U.S., commonly referred to as a “money mule,” like Butler. The money mule opens bank accounts and deposits money received from these victims. The operators then withdraw those funds for themselves. In Butler’s case, investigators estimate she opened numerous bank accounts and facilitated the transfer of about $6 million to the operators of the scheme in Jamaica. The victims, usually seniors or other vulnerable persons, never received the promised prize and discover all too late that the money they sent to the money mule is gone.

Butler is accused of acting as a money mule since 2017 in a scheme purporting to be the “Mega Millions” lottery. After opening bank accounts, Butler would inform the bank that she would be traveling out of the country that way avoiding raising suspicions about the foreign transactions. Banks would eventually suspect fraudulent activity and close the accounts. Butler would then open an account in another bank and continue the activity.

Investigators determined that Butler was aware of her actions and complicit in her involvement in the scheme. The various victims of this scheme are reportedly from throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, alleges that Butler violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and seeks restitution for affected consumers, civil penalties and an injunction prohibiting Butler from further participating in this or any other scheme. The lawsuit also requires her to cooperate with any additional law enforcement investigations into the scheme. Any person who violates the ADTPA may be subject to civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation. The Attorney General’s Office coordinated this effort with the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The recruitment of money mules is on the rise, often deceptively advertised as “work from home jobs” or “online jobs”, and appear to be attractive options for the elderly or college students to make money easily. It is common for those who participate in money mule activity to not even be aware they are facilitating an illegal operation. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be a victim of money mule activity, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

DE QUEEN POLICE FIND PARAPHERNALIA, MAN SUSPECTED OF DWI DURING TRAFFIC STOP 02/18/20

An Oklahoma man was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and arrested for suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated on President’s day in De Queen.

A report released by The De Queen Police Department states Sergeant Bucky Sawyer was patrolling Locke avenue in De Queen when he observed a vehicle in front of him accelerate in speed quickly. The vehicle was reportedly clocked at 47-miles-per hour in a 35-mile-per hour zone. The driver of the car was identified as Markus Hill of Smithville, Oklahoma, age 25.

Upon making contact with the driver, the officer noted the smell of an odor associated with alcohol coming from inside the vehicle and asked Markus how much he’d had to drink. The suspect reportedly claimed he’d consumed one alcoholic beverage an hour earlier, however a Portable Breathalyzer Test revealed Markus to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.12

Sergeant Wayne Baker assisted in administering additional field sobriety tests and officers asked if any drugs including marijuana, methamphetamine or cocaine were located inside the vehicle, Markus reportedly claimed he did not, however the police report lists a green pipe with residue as evidence found in the car.

Markus Hill was taken into custody for possession of a marijuana pipe and suspicion of DWI.

ARKANSAS AG LAUNCES FIRST OF ROUNDTABLE MEETINGS IN ALL 75 COUNTIES OF ARKANSAS       02/18/20

 

 

 

Last week, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge launched her Rutledge Roundtable of 2020 with community and business leaders in Sebastian County. The event kicked off her sixth consecutive year of hosting roundtable meetings in all 75 counties around the State.

 

“As I visit all 75 counties each year, these meetings allow me the opportunity to hear directly from folks in their hometowns about issues faced by their communities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “By meeting people where they live, we can work on real solutions immediately.”
Since taking office in 2015, Rutledge has hosted 384 Roundtables with over 4,300 participants. Each meeting has included officials from local businesses, local and State government, farmers, faith leaders, educators and representatives from various other industries.

 

In addition to the Roundtables, Rutledge had a record year in 2019 with 2,232 Arkansans visiting an Attorney General Mobile Office throughout the State, and 2020 is already on pace to exceed the record. The mobile office initiative was created in 2015 to provide a county-by-county location to personally assist consumers in filing consumer complaints and answer questions about the full range of services provided by the Attorney General’s Office. After the success of the initiative in 2015, Rutledge expanded to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes during each visit. The office collaborates with local law enforcement agencies across the State to handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Since the addition of this service, the boxes have allowed authorities to properly dispose of nearly 620 pounds of expired or unused medications.

 

For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s Office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

4-H POP-A-TOP CAN DRIVE    02/18/20

Ethan Wolcott reminded #1 Country listeners of the ongoing 4-H Pop-a-Top Can Drive being conducted by the Sevier County 4-H.  This is a state-wide campaign and Sevier County placed 1st in the Region and 3rd in State for this community project last year.

4-H is focused on community service and a new 4-H service club has been formed.  The Sevier County Community Changers will assist local groups with community service projects.  Call (870) 784-0748 or (870) 584-3013 for more information.

SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE ENCOURAGING VISITORS 02/17/20

The Ashdown High School Scholarship Committee will soon be awarding scholarships to 2020 AHS graduates, as it has since its formation in 1986, and contributors are encouraged to either continue donations as they have in previous years or become new scholarship donors and contribute to the success of new Ashdown High School graduates in their post-secondary endeavors.

“Last year, we awarded 65 scholarships with a total value of $37,090” states Ronda Pounds, chairperson of the committee. “This brings the total scholarships to over $462,557 awarded to 1,116 students over the course of our 34-year history.”

Pounds also states that 100% of all donated monies are awarded every year and that all donations are tax deductible.

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

As in previous years, scholarship recipients will be announced and scholarships awarded at a tea sponsored by the committee. The date for this year’s tea is Sunday, May 3 at 2:00 p.m. in the Ashdown High School cafeteria. “All donors are welcome at the tea,” Pounds continues, “and welcome to participate in presenting the scholarship they are giving if they would like.”

To be awarded to 2020 AHS graduates, contributions must be received by April 2. They may be mailed to or dropped off at the Ashdown School District Administration Office at 751 Rankin Street, Ashdown, Arkansas 71822.

EARLY VOTING FOR PRIMARY ELECTION STARTS FEBRUARY 18th      02/17/20

>Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston wants to remind Arkansans that Early Voting for the Preferential Primary & Nonpartisan General Election begins Tuesday, February 18th.The polls will be open between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday. Early voting ends at 5:00 pm on the Monday prior to the election.  Election Day is Tuesday, March 3.  The polls on Election Day will be open from 7:30 am until 7:30 pm. 

To check your voter registration information, find your polling location, or view a sample ballot, you can visit www.VoterView.org.  If you have moved or your information has changed and you need to update your voter registration, you have until February 28th to make this change before the March 3rd election.

 

 

 

By state law, voter identification is required at the polls, so remember to have a photo ID with you when you go to vote.

 

 

 

You may vote at any listed Vote Center: 

 

Kern Heights Baptist Church De Queen, AR 71832 

 

De Queen Church of Christ De Queen, AR 71832 

 

Ben Lomond Community Bldg Ben Lomond, AR 71823 

 

De Queen Mena Educational Co-Op Gillham, AR 71841 

 

J L Walker Fellowship Hall Horatio, AR 71842 

 

De Queen Community Bldg De Queen, AR 71832 

 

Lockesburg United Methodist Church Lockesburg, AR 71846 

 

Central Community Bldg Horatio, AR 71842 

 

Geneva Baptist Church De Queen, AR 71832.

 

 

 

Early Voting Site: Sevier County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse – Room 102. Available between Tuesday, February 18th and Monday, March 2nd, 2020

 

 

 

 Sample Ballots:            Democratic             Republican           Non Partisan

 

 

 

 

SEVIER COUNTY QUORUM COURT STAYS PUZZLED ON TIME CLOCK ISSUE FOR COUNTY EMPLOYEES        02/14/20

A small list of agenda items managed to host a “packed house” and a continued discussion of a puzzling time clock issue for the Sevier County Quorum Court at the February 10th meeting.

With just four items under the “new business” category and only two presentations in the committee and reports section, it was an item in the “old business” topics that held the JP’s up in lengthy discussion. The Time Clock Management system item is one KDQN has previously reported on in multiple recent meetings of the county Quorum Court.

After hearing an update from the Sevier County Hospital Board of Governors and a report from Kaylen Lewies of the Jason Owens Law Firm in regards to legal policies, the use of time clocks presentation was delivered, as The Quorum Court heard from Becky Boyett of Financial Intelligence Systems out of Little Rock. Ms. Boyett explained the logistics of the proposed time keeping system and answered questions from the JP’s, Department Heads and meeting attendees.

The Sevier County Quorum Court first approved the state-operated electronic timekeeping system for county employees back in December of 2018, but the discussion didn’t begin to heat up until nearly a year later, when the topic of implementing the system was included on the Quorum’s agenda for the November 2019 meeting. The hot button conversation was put on hold  in November and was tabled again until this month.

The proposed system will require all county government employees to clock-in and out of all shifts using a digital method through computer or cell phone app to log the hours worked. The system will also keep track of sick time and vacation hours for employees as well.
The discussion sparked a variety of reactions and response from the supervisors responsible for tracking employee time, as a concern for overtime regulations was brought up, along with the issue of emergency response time for Sheriff’s Deputies and logistics for the County Road Department. The elected officials of the county are split on the issue with differences in opinion.

After the presentation, the item was then tabled for the fourth time and will be addressed again at the March 9th meeting.

After the JP’s reviewed the 2018 County Audit results, a request for the allocation of funds to replace two wrecked vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department was discussed. The combined amount of the two vehicles in need of replacement totals more than $23,000 and after insurance, Sheriff Gentry reported the amount needed is roughly $12,000. No action was taken during the meeting, as Sheriff Robert Gentry is set to collect bids and then report back to the Quorum Court before the purchases are made.

The last items on the agenda included the re-appointment of Greg Wright as the delegate for The Arkansas Association of Quorum Courts and the 2% increase on dispatch fees for Horatio before the meeting was adjourned.

The next Sevier County Quorum Court meeting will be Monday, March 9th at 2:00 p.m in the conference room of the courthouse. The public is welcome.

LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT SPOTLIGHT: JUSTYCE JOHNSON, FEBRUARY 2020

 

 

 

 

This month, KQN is providing the behind-the-scenes story of the lives of our local law enforcement representatives in the Sevier County area. We’ve been granted access to sit down one-on-one with employees of The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department for a close-up of those who help keep the community safe.

 

For the month of February, we’re spotlighting Justyce Johnson, a Detention Officer with The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department who was born and raised in the city of De Queen.
Justyce is a 2015 De Queen High school graduate, mother of a two-month old son named Dexter, and wife to De Queen Police officer Doug Johnson. Her family connection to law enforcement doesn’t just include her city officer husband, as her mother is also employed by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department as a Dispatcher.

 

 

 

Originally, Justyce wanted to become a lawyer for many reasons, including how fitting the job would pair with her name.

 

 

 

After realizing how long she’d have to be in school to earn a law degree, Justyce changed her path to discover a different side of law enforcement so that she could begin her career sooner.

 

 

 

In August 2017, the De Queen native began working at The Sheriff’s Department when a position opened up and her mom encouraged her to apply. A full time opportunity presented itself and she has been with the department ever since.

 

 

 

For fun, Justyce says she hangs out with her son a lot and enjoys watching Disney movies like “Monsters Inc.” She also loves working out, spending time with her family and going out to eat. Favorite foods on her list include pasta, Texas Roadhouse, Mexican food, sushi and “food in general.”

 

 

 

Something the wife and mother enjoys about her job is helping people. She says she believes that “if you treat people fairly, the way you’re supposed to, then you gain a lot of respect from people and they’ll come to you.”

 

 

 

We asked what Justyce wished people on the outside looking in at law enforcement could realize and she says she wishes everyone could see how much “they just want people to do better.” “We’re not out to get them”, she says ” I promise we aren’t hoping you come back to jail, we don’t want you to keep making the same mistakes.”

 

Being a Detention Officer at the county jail includes a series of responsibilities, such as booking inmates in the system, running regular security checks, verifying information, logging property, maintaining cleaning supplies, updating and scanning paperwork as well as escorting inmates to classes plus many other tasks. The officers are also required to help get the inmates ready for their court dates and keep the daily operations of the county jail running smoothly.

 

 

 

As far as her goals go, Justyce has a desire to patrol the streets some day. She says her favorite thing about law enforcement is that “you never know what is going to happen.” Despite how much routines play a role in a typical day at The Sheriff’s Department, anything can also change at a moments notice. Although she finds law enforcement exciting, she also recognizes that it isn’t the safest career field and the work-related stress is Justyce’s least favorite part about the job. She also has to make sure she doesn’t bring any of the stress from the Job home with her, even though her husband is a police officer who can relate to what she’s going through, she says she doesn’t want to take that stress out on her family.

 

 

 

We also asked Justyce who she looks up to, and she mentioned her maternal Grandmother, who she says was a great person and was like a 2nd mom to her, though she passed away when Justyce was a teenager.

 

 

 

Lastly, Justyce told KDQN she wishes people outside of Law Enforcement could go a day in their shoes, experiencing how busy they are, and how even when they’re not busy, she says there is “always” paperwork. Beyond patrolling the streets as an officer some day, Justyce has aspirations to become a parole or probation officer and to continue serving her community.

 

 

 

For more law enforcement spotlight stories like Justyce’s, keep listening to the local newscasts on 92.1 FM and keep checking out KDQN.net online.

 

 

 

CORPS TO CLOSE MILWOOD LAKE TEMPORARILY 02/14/20

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office is temporarily closing access to several boat ramps on Millwood Lake because of high water levels.

The impacted boat ramps are River Run East, River Run West, White Cliffs, and Wilton Landing.
The project office is monitoring the water levels and will reopen the ramps when the water recedes.

Officials at the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office regret any inconveniences this may cause.

If you have questions, please contact the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office at 501-340-6609.

Recreation information can be found on the Internet at www.swl.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/littlerockusace, and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/usacelittlerock.

 

 

GRAMMY WINNING ARTIST TO PERFORM IN TEXARKANA 02/14/20

 

 

Friday, February 21, 2020, at the First Baptist Church Texarkana, located at 3015 Moores Lane in Texarkana, TX, multi-Grammy Award-winner Bill Gaither will host a spectacular evening of music, laughter and encouragement featuring the talent of the prestigious Gaither Vocal Band.

The Gaither Vocal Band will share timeless gospel classics, as well as refreshing, inspiring new favorites embraced by audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Few events have the ability unite individuals from all walks of life the way Gaither concerts do. “The longer I live, the more I learn to appreciate the here and now – this moment – this place in life – this group of people with whom I am privileged to collaborate,” states Gaither Vocal Band founder and bass singer, Bill Gaither.

 

 

During the summer of 2019, the Gaither Vocal Band celebrated the release of a new recording, Good Things Take Time, produced by famed country and gospel music performer and studio musician Gordon Mote. The recording is a musical snapshot of a special season for this lauded quintet, featuring Gaither, Wes Hampton, Adam Crabb, Todd Suttles and Reggie Smith.

Year after year, Bill Gaither has brought the Homecoming Tour into cities worldwide, performing to packed houses with collective attendance figures exceeding a million people and being ranked among the top concerts for tickets sold worldwide in any music genre during the past two decades. Each concert showcases gospel music’s finest talent and draws new listeners with every city. Joining The Gaither Vocal Band for this special evening will be talented female vocalist, Charlotte Ritchie and powerful male vocalist Gene McDonald, as well as guitarist and comedian, Kevin Williams.

Gaither continues to be delighted by audiences’ response to the concerts, now more than 40 years after he quit his day job as a teacher: “I’ve always said it all starts with a great song, and we are fortunate that each concert includes great songs that have stood the test of time. With all the musical choices that are available now, there is still a special place for the joy and optimism that reside in Gospel music. Good news never gets old.”

Named ASCAP’s Songwriters of the Century, Bill and Gloria Gaither have written more than 700 popular gospel songs throughout their multi-decade career, including favorite standards “He Touched Me,” Because He Lives,” and “There’s Just Something About That Name.” Since 1992, when Gaither began recording the celebrated Homecoming series of DVDs and CDs, most every volume has gone gold or platinum with sales totaling approximately 100 million volumes. The programs appear regularly on television networks around the world.

This event with the Gaither Vocal Band at the First Baptist Church Texarkana in Texarkana, AR, begins at 7:00pm and will celebrate timeless themes of faith, unity and eternal hope through a variety of music the whole family will enjoy. Complete information, including ticket pricing, is available by visiting www.gaither.com or www.premierproductions.com. To charge tickets by phone or to obtain additional information call 1-855-484-1991.

WESTERMAN WEEKLY 2/14/20

MAN ARRESTED FOR DWI, DROVE WITHOUT LICENSE IN DE QUEEN 02/13/20

A man found driving without a license was charged with DWI and held in the Sevier County Jail after authorities worked a motor vehicle accident in De Queen over the weekend.

A report released by The De Queen Police Department states that around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, February 8th, officer Hanney arrived on the scene of a car accident on West Locke Avenue and noted observing a vehicle “had run off the road and taken a street sign with it.”

The driver of the car was identified as Jose Luna, age 21 of Nashville, Arkansas. Luna reportedly spoke limited English and a nearby resident assisted in translating. Luna allegedly claimed to have a vison problem and also stated that another car had driven by with headlight beams on high. He also reportedly admitted to not having a driver’s license and a series of sobriety tests were administered.

The portable breathalyzer revealed a .13 and Luna claimed he’d consumed two beers, and officer Michael Barnes noted seeing a 30 pack of beer in the car. After completing additional Sobriety tests, Luna was arrested for driving while intoxicated and read his rights.

Another breathalyzer test taken later at the jail showed Luna to blow a .146. The suspect was charged with DWI and driving with out a license then booked in the Sevier County Jail.

ARKANSAS TOURISM EARNS STATE TOURISM OFFICE OF THE YEAR AWARD 02/13/20

Arkansas Tourism has been named the State Tourism Office of the Year by the Southeast Tourism Society.

The 2020 Shining Example Award winners were announced during the Southeast Tourism Society’s annual Connections conference in Little Rock, which was attended by representatives of several southeastern states.

The State Tourism Office of the Year award was given in light of team accomplishments throughout the Arkansas Tourism office, including effective tourism marketing, creativity in design and development, and implementation of new projects.

A recent economic impact report indicates that Arkansas hosted more than 32 million visitors in 2018 who spent $7.37 billion in total travel expenditures, $408 million in state taxes and $161 million in local taxes. This data indicates a healthy, thriving tourism industry across Arkansas.

The job of Arkansas Tourism is not just about numbers though. It’s also about finding creative and innovative ways to help tourism partners promote their attractions and destinations, while also enhancing the traveler’s experience.

In 2019, Arkansas Tourism conceptualized and launched several new projects that had not previously been implemented in the tourism field.  The most prominent example was the creation of “Ark Tank,” a competition for start-up tourism businesses within the state that debuted during the 2019 Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

Other highlights of the year included: Arkansas Tourism took part in its first international sales missions trips including a Travel South International Sales Mission trip to Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou, China and sales trips to the UK and Ireland. Arkansas Tourism began a new partnership with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to produce “ARKANSAS: Love Where You Live,” a print publication targeting potential audiences for relocation to the state. Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., served as an ambassador for Arkansas’s participation in the U.S. Civil Rights Trail by participating in a satellite media tour broadcast to local news outlets across the U.S.

In his appearances, Mayor Scott promoted not only Central High School National Historic Site and other Arkansas civil rights sites, but also Arkansas’s culinary scene and other tourism attractions. Arkansas Tourism collaborated with the University of Arkansas to launch an experiential learning experience for high school students.

Arkansas Tourism increased its professional development opportunities for the industry by hosting a Crowdriff Webinar and Google Webinar.

In addition to these external-facing projects, Arkansas Tourism also launched several new programs for internal staff. These programs not only increased the team’s professional knowledge, they also fostered a spirit of teamwork and collaboration.

STATE PARK IN MENA TAKES TOP PRIZE IN TOP CHEF COMPETITION 02/13/20

Queen Wilhelmina State Park took home the top prize today at the Arkansas State Park’s Top Chef Competition. It was the first time they won in the seven years of the contest.

Five park restaurants participated in the event, sponsored by Ben E. Keith, at the Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute. “We made a fajita salad with roasted asparagus,” said winning Chef Ken Morse. “We think it was our special seasoning on the fajita steak that caught the attention of the judges.”

Contestants from Queen Wilhelmina, DeGray Lake Resort, Petit Jean, Mount Magazine and Ozark Folk Center state parks prepared a new entrée and sides that each restaurant does not currently have on its menu but is considering adding it as a selection.

Judges from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, Ben E. Keith and UAMS used criteria such as flavor, presentation, and workstation tidiness to crown the victor.

DE QUEEN/SEVIER COUNTY BOARD OF DIRECTORS ANNOUNCED 02/13/20

The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce board election committee met to tally the ballots cast for the four positions open on the current board, and the 2020 Board of Directors have been announced.

Incoming board of directors:
Tara Athey – Hale Real Estate
Monica Pearce – Monica Pearce Designs
Angie Walker – Dr. Randy Walker Family Clinic
Callie Miller – De Queen-Mena Educational Co-op

Current board of directors:
Chris Chandler – Smartphone EMT
Christy Gallegos – HealthCARE Express
Sheila Ridley – Sevier County
Amanda Billingsley – Avanna Boutique
Emilee Vaught – Vaught Care Center
Zahir Kamruddin – Individual
Angela Smith – Bailey Discount Building Supply
Lori Jones – Ranch House Cafe

Board alternates:
Hector Gallegos – HealthCARE Express
Denise Smith – Country Girls Cafe
Jan Wolfe – Wolfe Chiropractic
Daniel Figueroa – Selena’s
Alicia Gonzales – Meraki Hair Studio
Montana Frachiseur – Pilgrim’s Pride
Jackie Taylor – UA Cossatot

ASHDOWN SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER TRAVELS TO WASHINGTON D.C FOR ASBA 02/12/20

Ashdown School Board Member Rosa Bowman traveled to Washington D.C. February 2-4 to represent the Arkansas School Board Association. She currently serves as President-Elect for the State Association.

The trip was part of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Advocacy Institute 2020. Mrs. Bowman has served on the Ashdown School Board since 2006 and is a retired teacher.

She was excited to travel to the nation’s capital for a second time to be a part of the Advocacy Institute, and said, “I’m honored to have the privilege to again meet with our national legislators concerning upcoming legislation and to thank them for all they do in providing federal funding for our schools.

This was a great opportunity to consider the proposed federal mandates and to discuss the impact that they will have on the students of our state and community.”

While in Washington, D.C., she had two days of meetings and workshops focused on IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act), broadband for rural communities, and E-Rate funding. On the third day, she had the opportunity to meet one on one with Arkansas Legislators serving the state of Arkansas. She met with Senator Tom Cotton and Congressmen Bruce Westerman and Rick Crawford. This gave Mrs. Bowman the opportunity to communicate to them the important issues of our local schools.

While in Washington, Mrs. Bowman was able to tour the Smithsonian Museum of Natural Science, see the 45 carat Hope Diamond, and see the original Declaration of Independence.

Ashdown Superintendent, Casey Nichols said, “We are so excited Mrs. Bowman had the opportunity to again represent both Ashdown Public Schools and the entire state of Arkansas in order to voice the needs for our district and state to the legislators who serve us in Washington. We are so proud of her dedication to our students.”

SEVIER COUNTY CATTLEMAN’S ASSOCIATION 02/12/20

The monthly meeting of the Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association will be held on Monday, February 17th at 6:30 p.m. at the Adams Building of UA Cossatot.

Morris Ranch Inc. will sponsor the meeting, and the speaker will be Rachel Bradshaw with Farm Service Agency.

A drawing will be held for all those who have paid their 2020 dues in December and January, and the prize is a steak dinner from the Ranch House Café.

Come eat with the organization, learn about some valuable programs available to agriculture producers through Farm Service Agency, and renew your cattlemen’s membership if you haven’t already.

They welcome new members as well, and all who renew in February will be entered in the drawing for a steak dinner to be drawn for in March. For more information, call 870-584-8809.

HILLTOP BAR BURNS DOWN IN EAGLETOWN WEDNESDAY 02/11/20

The City of Broken Bow, Oklahoma has released information about a fire that caused a McCurtain County bar to burn down last week.

A report from The Broken Bow Fire Department states that on Wednesday, February 5th at approximately 11:45 p.m, Firefighters were dispatched to the scene of a commercial structure fire at Hilltop Saloon off Highway 70 East in Eagletown, Oklahoma. Multiple members of the department worked to extinguish the flames, along with assisting aid from The Eagletown and De Queen Fire Departments.

The report states that Broken Bow Fire arrived on the scene by 11:59 p.m. February 5th to discover the building fully engulfed and “50%” of the structure already burned to the ground.

Firefighters pulled lines to suppress the blaze from both sides of the building and reported the fire to be out by 1:28 a.m. At that time, command of the incident was transferred back to The Eagletown Volunteer Fire Department.

There were no deaths or injuries reported and the state Fire Marshall was contacted to assess the scene and investigate what caused the flames.

The owner of the property is listed as Jeanette Rojas, a resident of De Queen, Arkansas. KDQN reached out to the office of the State Fire Marshall to retrieve the official report and officials stated that “the investigation is ongoing at this time”. Details will be reported as information becomes available.

SEVIER COUNTY HOSPITAL MEETING HELD THURSDAY 02/11/20

The most recent Sevier County Hospital Board of Governor’s meeting was held Thursday, February 6th in the conference room of the county courthouse in De Queen.

The meeting was lead by acting chair Greg Revels, who filled in for chairman Steve Cole. After the prayer and opening remarks, the board welcomed a presentation from Mark Webb of Vizient, who announced that he will be making himself available as a resource for the construction and equipment planning aspects of the hospital project.

The board agreed an important point to consider as construction draws closer is making the most cost-efficient decisions possible when planning equipment purchases and patient logistics. The next item discussed was the floor plan design for the medical center. The board previously sought input from the local community and held a special meeting to go over the results submitted.

After discussing several issues within the floor plan that still needed adjusting, an additional meeting to finalize the blueprint for the new Sevier County Medical Center was scheduled for Wednesday, February 12th at noon in the county courthouse conference room.

It was reported that a communication error resulted in the final floor plan being estimated at 1500 square feet more than planned, when the goal was to reduce the overall center size by 1500 square feet. Details still needing to be finalized in the plan include locations of the kitchen, inpatient rehab services, trash removal coordination and other logistics.

The next item on the agenda was discussing the land and site survey for the property in which the center will be located. A full site survey is reportedly in the works, as well as the laying out of electric lines and water lines.

In regards to the old De Queen Medical Center, an update was provided by Attorney Lynda Johnson of The Friday Firm and Sevier County Judge Greg Ray. It was revealed that the old building in De Queen will be put up for auction by the Commission of State Lands in September of next year. Greg Ray reported the property, however, is “uninsurable” and will require a 3-year minimum before anything else could be built in the old center’s place. Ray also currently has full authority over the hospital license and money from the receivership account has also been transferred to the Sevier County Court System.

The final item on the agenda was about developing a support system for the hospital through an official foundation. That foundation would serve a purpose of directly benefiting the Sevier County Medical Center through efforts coordinated by local people in the community who have a strong interest in the well being of the center. The foundation board will consist of 9-15 community residents who will be in charge of donations, fundraisers and events that will benefit the new medical center.  The board approved the decision to form the official organization and the group title has been chosen as “The Sevier County Medical Center Foundation.”

The next Sevier County Medical Board of Governor’s Meeting is set for this week on Wednesday, February 12th at noon in the county courthouse conference room.

ASHDOWN HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS SIGN WITH COLLEGES THIS MONTH 02/10/20

Ashdown High School senior football players signed to continue playing at the next level. Brett, Joseph and Delrae will play at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Anthony Hopkins will play at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas.

(l-r) Brett Bond, Anthony Hopkins, Joseph Paredes and Delrae Smith


Front row (l-r): Brett Bond, Anthony Hopkins, Joseph Paredes and Delrae Smith Back row (l-r): Matt Richardson, Chuck Crow, Joe Baker, Jake Norwood, David Wilson, Tyler Sheppard

TRUCK DRIVING TRAINING OFFERED AT UA COSSATOT 02/10/20

UA Cossatot is offering a Truck Driving Training Program this spring at its Nashville Campus for individuals seeking a career as a professional truck driver.

The training program is provided through the college’s Continuing Education department and is available in March, April, and May.

The UA Cossatot Truck Driver Training Program is an intensive one hundred and sixty-hour training program with a proven record of providing quality, in-depth truck driver training that will have students on the road in four fast-paced weeks. The training program includes a combination of up-to-date classroom, field, and on the road training.

The total cost to sign up for the course is $3,695, which includes books needed for the training. Financial assistance may be available for students interested in being in the program.

Classes will take place Monday through Thursday on March 2-26, April 6-30, and May 4-28.

The instructor, Phillip Jones, will teach the course from 6:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. each day. The Truck Driving Training Program at UA Cossatot will be offered three times this spring semester.

The deadline days to register for one of the three options is February 24, March 30, and April 27. Truck drivers, on average, make $39,070 a year in Arkansas. In only four weeks, students in this program at UA Cossatot can expect to be prepared to enter a career where there is a bright job outlook.

The college is also offering a Truck Driver Refresher Program designed to reacquaint individuals who haven’t worked in the trucking industry for a long period of time with the opportunity to get refreshed. In this program, the student will learn skills to obtain his/her CDL license and re-enter the trucking industry as a professional commercial truck driver. The course is also available to those who would like to improve on their existing skills, such as backing, shifting, or driving.

The course is customizable to each student’s needs and may include classroom, range, and road time. Persons entering this course must have his/her permit or a valid CDL. The program includes forty hours of training and costs $900, which includes the CDL Skills Test.

To learn more about the Truck Driving Training Program, the Truck Driver Refresher Program, or to enroll in either program, please call UA Cossatot’s Continuing Education department at 870-584-1178.

10TH ANNUAL IRONMEN’S WILD GAME COOK-OFF 02/10/20

De Queen First Assembly 10th Annual Ironmen’s Wild Game Cook-Off will be held Saturday, February 29th in the Hospitality Hall. This year’s speaker will be John Williamson. Area men may enter their Wild Game dishes for a chance to win great prizes. Dishes for judging must be turned in and registered between 4:30 pm and 5:00 pm at the church. The meal will begin at 5:30 pm.

Prizes include: Browning Abolt 270 Rifle Ruger 10/22 Rifle Chain Saw Weed Eater and many other great prizes. There will also be a Rack Em up Contest for the Best Mount, Best Rack, and Ugliest Rack. Call 584-3435 if you have any questions.

LITTLE RIVER COUNTY CHAMBER AWARDS BANQUET WINNERS ANNOUNCED 02/10/20

The annual Little River Chamber of Commerce membership banquet was held Thursday evening, February 6th in the Barbara Horn Civic Center on the U of A Cossatot campus in Ashdown.

Congratulations to the following award recipients: The Steve Pearce Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Joe Mack Bennett. Rhonda Fleming Pounds received the Clayton Castleman Public Service Award. The Panther Ambassador Award was presented to Cole Smith, while Kenzie Cowan received the Gator Ambassador Award. Teachers of the Year was honored as follows: Jennifer Simmons for Ashdown; Samantha Lace Smith for Foreman; and Lynze Greathouse for U of A Cossatot. New Construction Award went to Davis Feed Company. The Renovation Award went to Tres Agaves. Noah’s Ark Daycare won the Small Business Award, while Southern Precision Fabrication took Large Business honors. And the School/Community/Non-Profit Award was presented to the Methodist Church in Ashdown and Reverend Jim Cross, our own “Voice of the Panthers” on 92.1.

Congratulations to all the award recipients at the Little River Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet last Thursday evening in Ashdown.

2020 CENSUS UPDATE 02/10/20

A greater effort is being made in many Arkansas cities to emphasize getting an accurate count in hard-to-count communities during the 2020 census effort this spring.

Getting an accurate count is important in helping cities receive the maximum federal funding that’s based on population. Every year, census data is used in sending billions of federal funds to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other services.

At last week’s Count Me In Census 2020 Kickoff in Little Rock, it was estimated that census numbers are projected to amount to an average of $3,300 per person per year over the next ten years. Undercounted residents include children under younger than five, people of color, people with limited English language skills, those in rural communities, those who distrust the government, those who move a lot, and the homeless.

Mireya Reith, executive director of Arkansas United, an advocacy group for immigrants, said state, local, and community partnerships will be needed because the 2020 census faces several unique challenges. Reith said mistrust of government isn’t limited to immigrant communities. Farmers in rural Arkansas also fear government intrusion. Reith said that in De Queen, there is a large number of hard-to-count residents from immigrants with limited English language skills to farmers who don’t trust the government because they think it will make their taxes go up.

Tyson Foods is also participating in the efforts to ensure an accurate count. With 25,000 team members in Arkansas, John Tyson says that communicating the importance of census participation to employees and dedicating company time and resources to helping everyone understand is vitally important.

The goal of the Count Me In 2020 campaign is to tear down fear and distrust, and to start building bridges among people in communities.

AGFC ANNOUNCING YOUTH SHOOTING SPORTS SCHOLARSHIPS 02/10/20

Student athletes considering participating in this year’s Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program have a new reason to sign up and build their shotgunning skills: the chance to claim a $1,250 scholarship as top gun in the Champion of Champions shoot that will be held in conjunction with the program’s state championship event.

The additional scholarship opportunity is possible thanks to the Homebuilders Association of Greater Little Rock. In November, they signed a five-year agreement to donate $2,500 each year to the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation to support the scholarship. The remaining portion of the donation will be held in an annuity to continue funding the scholarship in the future. AYSSP is a competitive trap shooting program created by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 2007 for any student in grades 6-12.

Teams practice on their own beginning in February, and then compete in regional tournaments held each weekend from the end of April through May. Teams and individuals who qualify through regionals then advance to the annual state championship.

Jimmy Self, AYSSP coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, says the contract will renew at the end of its five-year term unless either party opts to cancel it at that time, so the donation may very well support young shooters’ college goals for the foreseeable future. “We’ve always been able to provide a scholarship to the top teams in the senior division at the state championship, but this will be the first time we can offer the top overall shooter a scholarship as well,” Self said.

According to Self, before this donation it was entirely possible for the best shooter in the whole program to get a trophy and a pat on the back, but no scholarship like the top overall team. In some cases, individual shooters have come to the state championship’s “Champion of Champions” competition from teams that didn’t even show up to the final weekend’s shoot. “Usually the top shooter is on a qualifying team, but there are cases when the entire team could not make it to the competition day,” Self said. “We hope the added incentive helps motivate some of our young outdoors-oriented students to take up the sport and compete.”

Visit www.agfc.com/ayssp for more information on the program.

ARKANSAS AG LAUNCHES PSA ON CHILD ABUSE 02/10/20

LITTLE ROCK –This week, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released her public service announcement (PSA) on her YouTube channel addressing the warning signs of child abuse.

One in every five children in Arkansas suffers abuse from family, friends or neighbors. “Many of us were blessed to grow up in a loving home, but not every child does,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If something doesn’t seem quite right, say something, and save a child’s life.”

The Special Investigations Department (SID) of the Attorney General’s Office has statewide jurisdiction. These certified law enforcement officers are committed to protecting Arkansas’s children by investigating and arresting those who sexually exploit children online. SID is also a member of the Arkansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and cooperates with federal, State and local law enforcement agencies.

The public service announcement can be viewed now on Rutledge’s YouTube page and it can later be seen on various networks and cable stations throughout the State. Arkansans who have questions can email the office at oag@ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

HORATIO STUDENTS TO ATTEND BOYS AND GIRLS STATES 02/06/20

American Legion Post 54 of De Queen is sponsoring Duncan Connor and Melissa Arellano from Horatio High School to participate in the upcoming American Legion Boys State and the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State programs. American Legion Boys State will be held at the University of Central Arkansas and the Girls State will be held at Harding University from May 24-May 29.

The Boys and Girls State programs are a one week intensive education program of government instruction for high school juniors. They are programs where each participant becomes part of the operation of their local, county and state government. Connor and Arellano will partake in various activities to include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies’ band, chorus and recreational programs.

ASHDOWN COMEPTES AT FBLA CONFERENCE THIS WEEK 02/06/20

The FBLA District IV Conference was held on Wednesday, Feb. 5th at UACCH in Hope. Ashdown High School had 16 students competing in various events. Several students qualified to compete in State Competition on April 6-7 in Little Rock by placing in District competition.

Above: Aly Mills was installed as the District IV Reporter and will work with the District IV Officer Team for the year 2020-2021.

Public Service Announcement – Gracie Sisemore – 1st Place Business Ethics – Chelbi Gathright, Rhys Parker and Ansleigh Patrick – 3rd Place Digital Video Production – Morgan Billingsley and Kaya Stultz – 3rd Place Introduction to Public Speaking – Aly Mills – 3rd Place Public Speaking – Sara Huddleston – 3rd Place Business Calculations – Addison Smedley – 5th Place Business Communications – Ellie Loosier – 5th Place Personal Finance – Lanyce Hemphill (not pictured) -6th Place

STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS DELIVERED AT TUESDAY’S COUNCIL MEETING 02/06/20

The agenda for the council meeting in De Queen Tuesday night listed just three items and one of those was the notable state of the city address delivered by Mayor Jeff Brown.

The address reading took place after the approval of the previous meeting’s minutes and time for citizen comments. During the comment session, Imagination Library organizer Z.Z. Kamruddin informed the council that the program has been a big success for Sevier County since launching the local chapter in 2018. Kamruddin thanked the council for their financial contribution but announced the $2,500 donation would not be needed this year due to an outpour of support from the community.

Suzanne Babb used the comment time to report the annual chamber of commerce awards ceremony and banquet set for Thursday, February 27th in The De Queen High School Cafeteria. This is the 100th anniversary of the De Queen chamber of Commerce and this year, the theme for the banquet will be “Dress for the Decade.” Attendees will be encouraged to wear outfits that were popular during their chosen decade between 1920-2020.

The first item of new business was a fiesta fest presentation from Dustin Roberts of The UA Cossatot Foundation. City Attorney, Erin Hunter informed Mayor Brown and the council that using taxpayer money for a donation towards anything that is not a youth organization (like boys and girls clubs or imagination library) is a violation of Arkansas constitution.

Though the council will not be able to donate any money, they can still help with the festival by closing off city streets and routing traffic for the event.

The next item on the agenda was the state of the city address delivered by Mayor Jeff Brown. KDQN was permitted to record the reading and the file has been uploaded below:
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The last item on the agenda was information about a COPS grant presented by Police Chief, Scott Simmons. Simmons reported that the city will be applying for a grant in the amount of $125,000 through The Governor’s office that would allow for an additional school resource officer to serve the campuses of De Queen public schools. Simmons said 75% of the funds can be used for the officers salary. After three years, the grant would run out and the city would be require to foot the bill for that officer’s pay. After a brief discussion, the council discussed a few housekeeping items that will be addressed at the next meeting and then the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting is set for Tuesday, February 18th at 5:30 p.m.

HORATIO STUDENTS ATTEND FBLA COMPETITION IN HOPE 02/06/20

Horatio FBLA students dressed to impress for their spring conference and competitions this week. UA Hope hosted over 750 competitors just for the district . A total of 12 students placed top 5 in the district and will advance to State in several categories. Superintendent Lee Smith reports “All of the FBLA students represented Horatio well, and we couldn’t be more proud of them!”
Congratulations to the participating students:


Jacob Brecheisen-Securities & Investments Samantha Harris-Personal Finance Aubrey Matheson-Impromptu Speaking Gabbi Litchford-Job Interview Hannah Norman-Political Science Haylin Halcombe-AgriBusiness Madisyn VanBibber-Bus Communications Angela Gutierrez & Magaly Sandoval- Publication Design Team Diego Zenon, Norma Resendiz, & Melissa Arellano- Marketing Team

ARKANSAS HUNTERS CAN TRY FOR ‘TRIPLE TROPHY AWARD’ 02/06/20

The 2019-20 Arkansas deer seasons are winding to a close, and a handful of archers are still looking for a last-minute harvest before the February 29th deadline. But, there’s plenty of time for successful hunters to submit an application for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Triple Trophy Award. Hunters who qualify for the Triple Trophy Award must, within a single annual deer season framework, take at least one deer by each of the three legal hunting methods – modern firearms, muzzleloading rifle or pistol, and archery/crossbow tackle. Qualifying hunters receive a patch and a certificate suitable for framing. The program was started in the mid-1980s to encourage the harvest of antlerless deer and to spread hunting pressure through the three seasons, reducing crowding. 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. The AGFC introduced deer from other states and relocated deer to game refuges, where deer were protected and allowed to grow without disturbance. 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. Visit www.agfc.com/tripletrophy to learn more and apply.

TWO SW ARKANSAS SCHOOLS CLOSE FOR ILLNESSES 02/06/20

Two area school districts have announced their classes are dismissed for the remainder of this week due to a high volume of student sickness. Officials at the South Pike County District and the Mineral Springs School system both announced late Tuesday afternoon that school will be shut down through Friday. Both districts will utilize the A.M.I. days for this week. Mineral Springs officials say their conference basketball games slated for Friday night are still scheduled to be played at this time.

OFFICER IMPERSONATION REPORT DETERMINED TO BE A HOAX 02/04/20

On Tuesday, a press release containing information about a black male impersonating an officer was published to the community by The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department.

The press release stated that a woman, who has now been identified as Casey Parker, age 31 of Nashville claimed she’d been pulled over for a turn signal violation by a black male driving a white, unmarked Chevrolet car with blue lights.

Deputies with The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, De Queen Police Department, 9th West Judicial Drug Task Force, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Highway Patrol, Howard County Sheriff’s Department, and the Little River County Sheriff’s Department were all assisting in the attempted apprehension of the alleged suspect who was reported to be impersonating an officer.

Multiple news reports were announced on local media sources to inform the public they should “Be on The Look out” for the suspect, described as a black male weighing 200 lbs, standing 5’7 inches tall.

On Tuesday, February 4th, 2020 after authorities spent numerous hours investigating the reported incident, Deputies with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department received information about Casey Parker making the scenario up as a prank, and filing a false report.

Casey was arrested that same day and charged with Class D Felony for filing a false report and is currently being held in the Sevier County Jail.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department would like to inform the public that they take every call the comes in very seriously and they are here to take care of all the citizens of Sevier County to the best of their ability. Anyone who calls in false reports will be dealt with accordingly. Sheriff Robert Gentry would like to thank everyone who shared the information on social media.

DE QUEEN/SEVIER COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BANQUET ANNOUNCED 02/05/20

The De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce has announced their annual banquet and awards ceremony for later this month. The event will be held on Thursday, February 27th with doors to open at 5:30 p.m. in The De Queen High School Cafeteria. This year, the chamber will be celebrating their 100th anniversary, and the theme for this year’s banquet is to “Dress for the Decade” as attendees are encouraged to come dressed in attire from their favorite 10-year span from 1920-2020. Community awards will be given out during the event, and a meal will be served by The De Queen High School cross country team. There will also be a silent auction and deals on merchandise that have been donated by chamber members through the live auction. The De Queen Jazz Band will be performing live and tickets are on sale now. The cost is $25 per person or $200 per table. Email DQchamber@gmail.com or call 870-584-3225.

SEVIER COUNTY COALITION TO HOST LUNCH-AND-LEARN ON HEART HEALTH 02/04/20

February is Heart Month, the perfect time to learn lifesaving information about heart health. On Thursday, February 27, 2020, the Sevier County Coalition’s Live Well Sevier County Committee and UA Cossatot will be co-hosting a Lunch-n-Learn entitled “Early Heart Attack Care” at UA Cossatot’s De Queen Campus. The presentation will begin at 12:00 noon in the Weyerhaeuser room, located in the Skilled Trades Building, and will conclude at 12:30 p.m.

Presenter Leah Harper will be teaching participants to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart attack including risk factors, how symptoms can differ for men and women and atypical presentations of a heart attack. Harper says, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in the United States,” adding “Last year alone, 647,457 people died of heart disease. A number of these deaths could have been prevented.”

Harper is a registered Radiologic Technologist (RT(R), ARRT) and native of Sevier County with a background is in Radiologic Sciences. She has worked at Christus Saint Michael Health System for over 36 years, including 26 years in the Heart Cath Lab. She is currently the supervisor for the Heart Cath, Electrophysiology and Interventional Radiology labs; and active in community outreach. Harper says, “Heart health is something I’m very passionate about. Heart disease doesn’t just happen to older adults. The conditions that lead to it are now being seen in younger adults more often. My goal is to save lives by educating the public on how to be savers instead of enablers.”

All are invited to bring their lunch and join Mrs. Harper for this free event. For more on Lunch-and-Learn programs, visit the Sevier County Coalition website at www.seviercountycoalition.com or call UA Cossatot’s Continuing Education Services at (870) 584-4471.

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO HOST PUBLIC MEETINGS 02/04/20

The Arkansas Highway Commission has scheduled a series of regional public meetings in the first quarter of 2020. The purpose of these meetings is to educate and inform the public while soliciting input regarding proposed projects that could be funded by a continuation of the temporary half-cent sales tax. A total of 12 meetings have been scheduled, and the next session will be held on Tuesday, February 11th at 5:30 p.m in The Ouachita Center of UA Rich Mountain in Mena. Other meetings are planned in West Memphis, Harrison, Texarkana, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Maumelle, Springdale, Batesville, Jonesboro and El Dorado . These sessions will consist of an open house program where attendees can view displays and visit with Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) staff. This will be followed by a brief formal presentation on the current funding and condition of the Arkansas Highway System as well as the impact that continuation of the half-cent sales tax would have in funding system preservation and new capital projects moving forward. In early 2019, Governor Hutchinson announced his highway funding legislative package that resulted in Act 416 and a proposed Constitutional Amendment, House Joint Resolution 1018. Act 416 provides revenue from motor fuel taxes, electric and hybrid vehicle registration fees, and casinos resulting in an estimated $95 Million in new funding to ARDOT. If the constitutional amendment is approved by voters, it will provide an additional estimated $205 Million annually to ARDOT and an estimated $43 million each to cities and counties. Citizens with an interest in learning more about the Governor’s proposed highway program are encouraged to attend one of these 12 regional public meetings. Each of the meetings will be identical in format and presentation material. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions that will be addressed by Commission Director Scott Bennett.

GAME AND FISH TO HOST PUBLIC MEETING IN SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS 02/04/20

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host a special open forum for the public at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus on March 18. The forum will begin at 6 p.m. in Hempstead Hall, 500 S. Main St., in Hope. The AGFC hosted three open town hall meetings during 2019, and this will be the first scheduled for 2020. This forum will take on a different look than previous town hall meetings. Instead of Commissioners sitting in front of a crowd to answer questions, they and various AGFC staff will be stationed at tables throughout the room to answer questions on a one-on-one level. “We received some excellent participation from the public at the last three meetings,” AGFC Director Pat Fitts said. “We hope to offer even more time for individual questions and engagement with the public through this new format. Everyone will still be able to talk directly to Commissioners or staff, but we hope this gives a much more personal environment where people can speak freely.” Brief presentations are planned before the open question period. Anyone who wishes to speak is encouraged to attend. Visit the AGFC’s YouTube page for a recap of questions and answers during the previous three meetings. A direct link to the Stuttgart meeting, held in November, is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9B7_7iehas.

LIBRARY SNIPPETS: BY JOHNEYE FISHER 02/04/20

Each Sevier County Library Branch recently received a wonderfully generous gift of 100 new children’s book from The Brownstone Book Fund. The staff would all like to say a BIG Thank you to Diane. Johnye says Without folks like her our libraries could not continue to thrive. At The De Queen Library this month, The Caplinger family will be donating a bronze plaque in memory of their Beloved mother Thema Caplinger. She instilled upon her children the love of reading and are still avid readers. There will be a ceremony on February 20th at 1:00 pm. Everyone is invited to attend. We will have a story time and Making Valentine’s with Klondike February 12, 2020 at 4pm. Everyone is welcome to come on in and make Valentine Cards for the Nursing center folks here in De Queen. Don’t forget those Domino games going on Wednesdays at 10am.You can contact 870-584-4364 or visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/seviercountylibrary Happy Valentines Day from the Horatio Library. They will have a children’s program on February 15th at 10 a.m. Every Thursday there is a Mexican train domino game at 9:30 with a trophy for the winner to take home that week. They have several new books on the shelf from authors such as Stewart Woods, Suzanne Wood Fisher, and Melinda Leigh just to name a few. They also have 100 new children’s books that were donated by The Brownstone Book Fund and they have several used Christian Fiction books on the way. Any residents with an interest in starting a Book Club in Horatio should call at 870-832-6882. Have a Blessed month and we hope to see you at the Horatio Library. At the Lockesburg Library there will be a book club discussion of February’s selection “Where Somebody Waits”, by Margaret Kaufman at 10:00, Saturday, Feb. 8. March’s book club selection will be available to pick up at this meeting. Please join us on Saturday, February 22 for a “Come and Go”, “Meet the Author/ Book Talk/Book Signing” with Davida F. Wynn from 10-11:30. Davida F. Wynn is an advanced practice nurse, author, motivational coach, and speaker. She has resided in the Atlanta, Georgia metro area for the past five years. She is a 1999 graduate of Lockesburg High School. Her family continues to live in our area. Contact Wendy Clay at 870-289-2233 for more information concerning programs, books and activities at the library. Due to recent changes the hours for Gillham Library will be Saturdays 10 am- 2pm until further notice. For more information, you can contact at the Gillham Library at 870-386-5665. They are currently looking for volunteers please call the De Queen Library at 870-584-4364

SHOPLIFTERS ARRESTED IN DE QUEEN SUNDAY 02/04/20

Two local residents were charged with theft of property and held in the Sevier County jail after police responded to a shoplifting call in De Queen Sunday evening. According to a report released by The De Queen Police Department, Sergeant Wayne Baker and Officer Michael Barnes were dispatched to Wal-Mart on Colin Raye Drive around 5:54 p.m. Sunday, February 2nd in reference to a report about shoplifters inside the store. The suspect was described as a white male, wearing sunglasses and a cap who was reportedly seen switching his tennis shoes for a pair of boots and leaving them in the box on the store rack. He also consumed a red bull energy drink in the store without paying for the item. The man was identified as Shane Patrick Davis, age 25 of De Queen. Authorities waited outside until Davis exited the premises and then placed him in custody. Later that evening, a woman identified as Kristen Arrender, age 31 of De Queen was confronted by police for alleged thefts from the Wal-Mart store. Arrender reportedly admitted to having previously taken a bottle of shampoo, hair dye, a notebook and cologne. The suspects reportedly admitted to the shoplifting and were charged with theft of property. Both Davis and Arrender were read their Miranda Rights separately and held in the Sevier County Jail before being released due to overcrowding.

LOCKESBURG COUNCIL NOTES FROM JANUARY MEETING 02/04/20

The most recent Lockesburg City Council meeting was held Tuesday, January 14th and a variety of agenda items were addressed. The council agreed to continue their scheduled meeting times of 6:30 p.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of each month throughout 2020. Other action items approved during the meeting include new back tires for the city’s Kabota Tractor in the amount of $800 each, as water supervisor Justin Ruth reported the purchase would need to be made in time for Spring. An additional lawn mower may be coming as well. Justin also noted that the city is currently down to just one mower and it was agreed that price estimates will be collected and reviewed at the February meeting. Before entering an executive session, the council approved Wastewater Superintendent Matt Webb to attend a wastewater 1 class in Clarksville class March 10-12 with testing to be conducted March 13th. It was announced that work was under way for dead trees and various streets around town. Following the executive session, two raises were revealed for city employees. Recorder/Treasurer Becky Jegstrup will be receiving a 6% raise and after being presented with a certificate from the City Clerk Recorder Association, a 25 cent per hour raise is set to go in effect for Deputy Municipal clerk, Joanna Giusti. The council has also reviewed applications for a clerk assistant but no action was taken.After going over several engineering proposals, it was agreed that Al Franks Engineering will be hired to complete the wastewater project. In addition to a new audio recording device to be purchased for city meetings, new items have arrived for the Lockesburg Senior Center. The Lockesburg Lions Club purchased picnic tables and chairs that were delivered for the seniors. The council agreed to give $100 per month to the center and the current employee will cook on Fridays. In March, the city will be applying for a grant to supply funds for finishing the kitchen. After approving the previous meetings minutes, December Financial report, and bills, the meeting was adjourned. The next Lockesburg City council meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 11th at 6:30 p.m. in city hall.

DE QUEEN TEACHER ACHIEVES NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION 02/03/20

Jill Collins, literacy facilitator at De Queen Elementary, recently achieved National Board Certification in the area of Literacy: Reading-Language Arts for early childhood through middle adolescence. She joins the ranks of teachers across the country who have proven their abilities as highly accomplished teaching professionals. “These new National Board Certified Teachers will continue to change the way their students learn, and their proven ability to be the best teachers they can be will have a ripple effect on their schools and their communities for years to come,” said Peggy Brookins, NBCT, president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. “I’m especially proud to see that large numbers of new NBCTs are teaching in schools where they are needed most.” Including Collins, the De Queen School District now employs 11 National Board Certified teachers. According to Collins, “The rigorous process of achieving National Board Certification has helped me strengthen and refine my teaching skills. I have become more reflective in selecting only the best methods and materials to meet the unique needs of each learner. I am grateful to work in a district that supports teachers in reaching their full potential, encouraging them to continue to grow professionally throughout their careers. The students I have taught and the families I have gotten to know are among some of the greatest blessings in my life,” “The staff at De Queen Elementary School is extremely proud of Mrs. Collins and her accomplishments. She works diligently with all of the students at DES as well as serves as a resource to all teachers. She is a valuable member of our DES family,” said Terriann Phillips, De Queen Elementary principal. In order to become a Board-certified teacher, teachers complete a performance-based, peer-reviewed process, demonstrating their proven impact on student learning and achievement. In addition to the new NBCTs, more than 24,000 teachers are currently pursuing Board certification. An increasing number of states and districts support growing the number of Board-certified teachers because of the impact they see on teachers and students. “National Board Certification is about elevating the teaching profession; and it is about helping children achieve at higher rates,” said Brookins. “The certification process impacts teaching and learning well beyond an individual teacher’s classroom.” More about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards can be found at www.nbpts.org

DEANN VAUGHT WEEKLY REPORT 02/03/20

Representative DeAnn Vaught reports the Department of Finance and Administration announced that effective February 3, 2020, all 134 State Revenue Offices will have the ability to issue a Real ID. Arkansas is taking part in the federal nationwide initiative to improve the security of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, which will help fight terrorism and reduce identity fraud. Starting October 1, 2020 anyone who boards a domestic flight or enters a federal building will need a Real ID driver’s license, Identification Card or other approved documentation required by the United States Department of Homeland Security. When we previously reminded constituents of the upcoming deadline, just 25 State Revenue Offices could issue a Real ID. Now, DFA has expanded the capability to all revenue offices to make it more convenient. The cost to obtain a REAL ID does not differ from the cost to obtain or renew a license or ID. Current Driver Licenses (DL) can upgrade to REAL ID at any time by purchasing a duplicate license. The fee for a duplicate DL is $10.00 and expiration dates remain the same. If within one year of the expiration date, you may renew and convert to the Arkansas Real ID. At regular renewal periods, the REAL ID may be purchased for $40.00 and will not expire for eight (8) years. Real ID will not replace a U.S. Passport or allow border crossing. A Real ID Driver’s License is optional and only required for individuals who wish to continue using their Driver’s License to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings after October 1, 2020. Should you have any questions about the Real ID, please contact the Office of Driver Services at 501-682-7059, email questions to driver.services@dfa.arkansas.gov or VISIT www.ar.gov/realid or www.dhs.gov/real-id

ARKANSAS AG ANNOUNCES LAWSUIT AGAINST HOT SPRINGS TOW BUSINESS 02/03/20

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit today against Classic 24 Hr. Towing & Recovery, a Hot Springs business for operating without a license, mandatory permits, vehicle registration or liability insurance. The owner, Paul Vujicic, advertises that his company has been in business for more than 40 years, yet evidence shows, it has never been properly licensed. “Every time this illegitimate business is put to work, its customers are unknowingly put at risk,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas has these regulations in place for the safety and protection of both consumers and business owners.” According to the complaint, Vijicic has been cited repeatedly by the Hot Springs Police Department for failure to register his towing vehicles, failure to have insurance, as well as safety and moving violations. In 2014 Classic 24 Hr. Towing was caught operating without the required safety permits. The investigator informed Vijicic that he was violating Arkansas law. A similar interaction occurred in 2017, and Vijicic was cited for displaying a fake safety permit on the rear window of one of his tow trucks. The Towing and Recovery Board demanded he quit towing immediately. Vijicic continued to operate. In 2018, the Towing and Recovery Board ordered Vijicic to pay a $10,000 civil penalty before the Board would issue him a license or safety permits. Again, Vujicic was later discovered to be operating with two unpermitted trucks. In 2019, Vujicic applied to perform towing and recovery for the Arkansas Department of Transportation. These harmful acts violate the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA). Each violation can amount to a $10,000 fine. The Attorney General asks that the Court prohibit Classic 24 Hr. Towing & Recovery from doing further business until it has all the required permits. To file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.