Monday, May 27, 2024

Local News

Today's News

Tornado suspected after damage to homes, loss of electricity in Sevier County      05/24/24

DE QUEEN – Officials are working to determine whether a tornado touched ground in Sevier County early Friday morning, causing damage to homes and leaving many without power but fortunately no injuries.

Sevier County OEM Coordinator Matt Webb said a team from the National Weather Service is expected to arrive today to determine if this morning’s storm resulted in a small-scale tornado. He said several homes in the Farm-to-Market Road and Highway 329 areas were damaged by fallen trees. Other trees were seen with their tops ripped away either from straight-line winds or a suspected tornado.

Either way, fortunately no injuries have been reported from the storm system. A car reportedly crashed into a downed tree on Highway 329 but the accident resulted in no severe injuries.

Fallen trees blocked several driveways in the area, as well.

Damage included numerous power lines, some of which fell on roadways leading to partial closures of Farm-to-Market Road and Highway 71 near the Dierks Junction. Those issues have since been resolved thanks to efforts by the Cossatot Volunteer Fire Department, the Sevier County Road Department, the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and other local first responders.

All major roadways in Sevier County were cleared by eight o’clock Friday morning.

Power has been restored to most affected customers in the listening area. Some lingering power outages remain for SWEPCO and Southwest REA customers in Polk, Little River and Howard Counties.

Local veterans to host ceremony at Sevier County Courthouse lawn Memorial Day      05/24/24

DE QUEEN – Members of the local American Legion and VFW posts will host a special ceremony on Memorial Day to recognize the sacrifice of local veterans and rededicate the newly restored cannon on the lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse.

Ricky Hendrix, commander of the De Queen-based American Legion Post #54, spoke with us recently to share some details and invite everyone to come out and share in this special occasion on Memorial Day.

We’re hosting this on Memorial Day to recognize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country and to honor the work done by the Sevier County Road Department to restore the cannon on the Sevier County Courthouse lawn,” said Hendrix. “We’ll have a flag-raising ceremony, a military firearms salute and rededicate the renovated cannon. We hope everyone can come by and join us.”

The event will take place at 10 a.m. on the southside of the Sevier County Courthouse lawn, next to the cannon and the memorial remembering Sevier County residents who died fighting for the nation throughout the history of its wars.

Many may not realize that the cannon on the courthouse lawn is actually an extremely rare piece. Labeled as The 90mm Gun T8, this piece was intended to provide a much-needed anti-tank punch to U.S. ground forces, an element capitalized on by German and Soviet army units in World War II.

The T8 entered its trial phase only in February of 1946 and ultimately fell by the wayside with just a handful of prototypes produced (I’ve seen figures range from just two to several dozen).

The gun was ranged out effectively to about 1,000 yards and would have been towed by a mover vehicle. The gunnery crew could then move the weapon system around to fine tune angle and placement.

If the T8 had ever been adopted for frontline service, it would most likely have battled Soviet armor of the Cold War years.

It is a very rare piece, with just one known example in Ohio and another at the General Patton Museum in Fort Knox, Tenn.

It’s not perfectly remembered how the gun got here, except that it arrived in the 1950s to much fanfare. Adorning the lawn of public facilities like a courthouse or city park was a very common and greatly appreciated fate for decommissioned military equipment, specifically after the Second World War.

Relics of America’s military dot communities across the entire nation. Tanks, cannons, planes, torpedoes, naval guns — these retired machines of war stand as stoic reminders of events that forever altered the course of history for a proud nation and its people. And it takes a lot of planning and a lot of people to get them into place.

It’s an honor for Sevier County to have such a piece to display, especially one as unique and rare as this.

De Queen City Pool opens for the season with free swim on Memorial Day      05/24/24

DE QUEEN – This weekend marks the traditional beginning of the City of De Queen’s summer pool schedule.

The city pool opens for the first day of the season this upcoming Monday, May 27, Memorial Day. The pool will be open for a completely free swim from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on memorial Day.

Following the big opening day, the hours of public swim are now Monday through Friday from 12 noon to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The pool is closed on Sunday.

As in previous years, a free adult and senior only swim is open Monday through Friday from 8:45-9:45 a.m. This time is for adults 25 years or older and no children will be allowed in the pool during this time.

General admission remains at $3 person and season passes can be purchased for $50. Family passes for four or more family members are available at a cost of $200.

Pool parties can be booked during afternoon and evening hours Monday through Saturday by contacting the De Queen Parks and Recreation Department at 642-4140. Pool parties are available for booking on Wednesday and Sunday by Vacation Bible Schools and other church groups only.

Swim lessons are again available this year and can be scheduled by contacting the park office.

The parks department is also opening the city’s new splash pad for its sthird year. The project was funded through a $480,000 grant from Pilgrim’s.

Local, state law enforcement eam up for “Click-it-or-Ticket” campaign      05/24/24

LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging drivers to buckle up ahead of a national Click It or Ticket high-visibility seat belt enforcement effort. The national seat belt campaign, which coincides with the Memorial Day holiday, runs through June 2.


Authorities want seat belt use to be an automatic habit for drivers and passengers alike. It’s not just a safe thing to do — it’s the law. During the Click It or Ticket campaign, they’ll be working with fellow law enforcement officers across local and state lines to ensure the message gets out to drivers and passengers. Buckling up is the simplest thing you can do to limit injury or save your life during a crash. Authorities see the results of not wearing a seat belt all the time. They see the loss of life. So often, it could have been prevented.


The national seat belt use rate in 2023 was 91.9%, which is good — but it can be better. The other 8.1% still need to be reminded that seat belts save lives. Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night.


One of the focuses of the Click It or Ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement. NHTSA data shows a higher number of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities happen at night. Also, seat belt use differs among females and males. Of the males killed in crashes in 2021, more than half (54%) were unrestrained. For females killed in crashes, 42% were not buckled up.


If the enforcement effort alerts people to the dangers of unrestrained driving, authorities say they’ll consider their mission to be a success. If you know a friend or a family member who does not buckle up when they drive, please ask them to consider changing their habits. Help spread this life saving message before one more friend or family member is killed as a result of this senseless inaction. Seat belts save lives, and everyone — front seat and back, child and adult — needs to remember to buckle up.


For more information on the Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization, please visit NHTSA.gov/ClickIt.

Horatio Lions name Willis as new head football coach      05/23/24

Paul David Willis has been named the new head football coach for the Horatio Lions. He’ll officially take over this summer.


HORATIO – The Horatio Lions have a new head football coach who’ll be bringing over three decades of coaching experience to the program.

At its May meeting, the Horatio Board of Education voted to hire Paul David Willis as the new Horatio Lions head football coach. He will replace Lantz Castleman, who has been hired to lead the football program at Genoa Central as it moves to 11-man football in the 7-4A conference.

Willis served as an assistant coach for the Horatio Lions under Castleman during the 2022 season and has coached multiple programs in both Arkansas and Texas. He also taught high school math for Horatio. He brings over 30 years of coaching experience to Horatio. Willis said he’s glad to be back at Horatio and lead a program he holds special to him.

“I’ve got a special place in my heart for Horatio and the kids and I felt like it was something I’d be interested in, to lead the program,” said Willis. “It’ll be a learning opportunity, but since I know the kids and know the program, and they know, we’ll be able to get right into it.”

Willis is familiar with the Lions football program and coached many of the players who will return as seniors this fall. He said they’re familiar with his style of coaching and that’ll be a benefit for the upcoming season.

“They know I’m old school, they had me in class and know how mean I am and they understand it,” he said, laughing. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Although Willis doesn’t officially start until July 1, he said he’ll be there daily for the summer football training program beginning early next month.

“We’ll actually start the summer program on the third of June and get our feet on the ground,” said Willis.

Willis said the program needs some work but that its overall mission is the same: helping players become young men and contributing members of their community.

“I understand we need a lot of work in the program, but we gotta get some interest back in football for these kids,” he said. “To be honest, I just want to try and be a positive influence on these kids’ lives. It’s a different world they’re growing up in and they need a little structure, a little discipline and a little loving, but they also need a little kick in the tail too. I think as a coach you need to be willing to do all that.”

During its May meeting, the Horatio Board of Education also approved Castleman’s resignation as well as those of Issac Minton, Grace Minton and Karen Ochoa.

FFA officers and sponsors presented their accomplishments and honors awarded to the FFA members this school year.

Board members approved the school choice list and student transfers into the district. They voted to approve the Food Service Management RFP with K-12 Culinary Connection.

Superintendent Gayla Youngblood reported on school projects that could be considered with remaining American Rescue Plan/Ready for Learning funds, the district’s safety drill and final inspection for partnership monies. Veronica Ozura, high school counselor, reported on 2024 Graduates, and principals reported on past and upcoming events.

Sevier County Library System has busy summer planned      05/23/24

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Head Librarian Johnye Fisher is informing the community of some of the many things happening this summer through the Sevier County Library System.

That includes this year’s Summer Reading Program, titled “Adventure Begins at Your Library.” The program will be held at 10 a.m. each Wednesday beginning June 5 and continuing through July 10. Fisher said a ton of great activities and programs are planned this summer.

That includes a visit by the AGFC on June 5, a Scooby Doo-themed program on June 12, Ventriloquist Gary Ray Howell on June 19, Ducks with Erica and Friends on June 26, Camp Adventure on July 3 with hotdogs and chips and a visit by the De Queen Fire Department on July 10.

In addition, the De Queen Library will host its Reading Contest throughout June and July. Those who win in their age group will win a backpack with school supplies. Visit the Sevier Country Library page on Facebook for more information.

June 3-July 26 will include the new “No Kid Hungry” campaign thanks to a partnership between Excel by Eight and De Queen and Horatio School Districts. Through this program, organizers will distribute free meals to any child under the age of 18 at all four Sevier County Libraries (De Queen, Horatio, Lockesburg and Gillham, as well as the Winthrop Library in Little River County). Meals must be reserved by calling (870) 584-4364. These will be served each day Monday-Friday between 12-2 p.m. The number of meals available depends on the number of meals reserved, so organizers ask recipients that they make sure to reserve in advance.

The De Queen Library will host a canned food drive throughout the month of June. For every 10 cans donated, library patrons will receive one entry to win a Tundra 65 Yeti cooler filled with supplies. Donations will benefit the De Queen-based Chalice Cupboard. The drawing will be held July 1.

Fisher reminds the public that the library offers the LIBBYAPP to obtain books not available on the library’s shelves. Follow the instructions to download the libbyapp from the Sevier County Library Facebook page. The app can also be obtained on Google Play for the Apple Store by searching for “Arkansas Digital Library Consortium.” Those using the app most hold a valid library card to browse the selection. For more information, call (870) 584-4364.

Horatio Library

Catherine with the Horatio Library states her Summer Reading Programs will begin June 8 with Fitness Fun. The Horatio Library will host additional programs each Saturday in June from 10 a.m. to 12 noon The library will provide crafts, stories and snacks. Kids are reminded to bring their reading “passport” to track their adventures. When their “passport” is full, they can return it to the library for a prize and new passport.

The library is continuing its Community Puzzle. The newest one is a peaceful street scene and as always there is plenty of room around the table to join in.

The Horatio Library Needlecrafters are looking for members to bring in any kind of needlecraft to work on.

The Library will be serving meals to kids under 18 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call ahead at (870) 584-2073 or (870) 832-6882 to reserve an order. The program is open to all children under the age of 18.

Lockesburg Library

The Lockesburg Library has been given the opportunity thanks to Excel by Eight and No Kid Hungry, along with the De Queen and Horatio School Districts, to distribute free meals to kids 17 and under on Wednesdays and Thursdays in June and July. Recipients are asked to provide one day’s notice for the number of meals needed.

The Lockesburg Library’s annual Summer Reading Program has started. This summer as an incentive for reading the library will provide “Jibbitz.” Attendees can collect Jibbitz to wear in their Crocs or be provided with a bracelet to show off their accomplishments. Upon reading and returning five books each child can earn a new Jibbitz. Lockesburg Librarian Mz. Wendy said the collectible aspect helps drive the excitement and motivation to get more.

Contact the Lockesburg Library at (870) 289-2233 for more information.

Gillham Library

The Gillham Library will host its Summer Reading Program each Saturday in June beginning at 1 p.m. Programs include:

-Learning about water activities with the Corps of Engineers on June 1

-Dr. Seuss and the Grinch on June 8

-Smokey the Bear on June 15

-Learning about trees with Weyerhaeuser on June 22

-Erica’s Farm Animals on June 29

After each program, kids will get a sack with snacks and treats. Children who attend all five programs will receive a special prize from the Treasure Chest. The Gillham Library will also be participating in the Excel by Eight No Kid Hungry free summer meals program for kids under the age of 18. Lunches will be provided each Tuesday between 12-2 p.m. beginning June 4. Call and sign up participating children at (870) 386-5665.

Dr. Steve Cole honored as Arkansas Rural Advocate of the Year      05/22/24

Governor Sarah Sanders visits with Steve and Leslie Cole and Jay Bunyard, Vice-chairman of the AEDC Commission. Cole was recognized on Tuesday as the 2024 Arkansas Rural Advocate of the Year.

HOT SPRINGS – The prestigious Arkansas Rural Advocate Award was presented to Dr. Steve Cole at the Rural Development Conference Tuesday afternoon in Hot Springs.

The chancellor of UA Cossatot, Dr. Cole’s dedication to economic development in rural communities has had a positive impact on Southwest Arkansas. Dr. Cole said he was humbled to receive the award.

“It truly is an honor, I truly was shocked when this all came about,” said Cole. “I’m looking around the room and I see all these people from Sevier County, I share this with all of them because we do this together. That’s what makes this happen and I just happened to receive the award. It’s everybody.”

Dr. Cole helped start the Sevier County Economic Development group, which evolved into the FRIENDS organization. This model, a partnership between UA Cossatot, local industries, businesses and municipalities, focuses on shared resources to tackle economic development ideas effectively. Dr. Cole recalled how FRIENDS started.

“It started as a bunch of friends from Sevier County having lunch together years ago,” he said. “We’d discuss that we really need to do something. Just from grassroots meetings like that, it became FRIENDS. We decided we’d all pitch in money and hire someone to be the point person in Sevier County [for economic development]. It’s paid so many great dividends for Sevier County and now surrounding counties.”

The Sevier County contingent at the Rural Development Conference in Hot Springs Tuesday for Dr. Cole’s presentation.

The success of the FRIENDS model has quickly spread to nearby counties, according to Dr. Cole.

“When people started seeing the success that Sevier County had, they reached out and asked how we did that,” he said. “We shared the plan and it’s now spread to a total of three counties with others interested. We don’t mind sharing our ideas and plans at all. If we’re doing better, everyone else is doing better and we honestly do that.”

The FRIENDS model’s success is not due to one person, said Cole. But by leading the conversation, he has created an emphasis on collaboration and regionalism, pooling resources from local colleges, industries, businesses and municipalities for a unified approach to create a sustainable foundation for economic development efforts.

Congratulations to Dr. Steve Cole, the Arkansas Rural Advocate of the Year!

This weekend’s Judge Ray Tri-Lakes Bass Tourney is a go     05/22/24

DE QUEEN – Despite a sketchy weather forecast, organizers say this Saturday’s 34th annual Judge Ray Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival is still a go.

Officials with the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce hope the rain and other bad weather holds up as they host one of the region’s biggest bass tournaments on Saturday, May 25. As of Thursday morning, the National Weather Service is predicting no chances for rain on Saturday.

Currently, there are no plans to cancel the event.

The event is scheduled for 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all three lakes. The early registration fee is $65 and enters each angler into a chance to win some of the more than $30,000 in cash prizes for this year’s bass tournament. On-site registration is $70. Anglers can take advantage of the $75 registration bundle which includes the chance to win an extra $50 if your catch takes first place during the hourly weigh-in.

Early registration ends after 4 p.m. this Friday.

This year’s cash awards include the $30,000 Reel the Weight prize presented by De Queen Auto Group, Tri-Lakes Realty and Bailey Discount Building Supply. If the last two digits of the biggest fish at each lake match a secret number, the angler who caught the fish will receive $10,000. There is a chance to win at each of the three participating lakes.

This year’s cash award for the overall biggest bass has been increased to $2,000.

Weigh-in sites will be held at Oak Grove on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek on Gillham Lake and Jefferson Ridge on Dierks. The first weigh-in is at 8 a.m. with the final at 1 p.m.

An awards ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. at Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.

The long-running and hugely-popular bass tournament was renamed in 2022 in honor of the late Sevier County Judge Greg Ray. Ray was an instrumental organizer of the event for many years.

The tournament is hosted each year by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.

Registration forms are available now at the chamber’s temporary office at De Queen Church of Christ. Registration forms can also be obtained by calling the chamber at (870) 584-3225.

Forms can be mailed back to P.O. Box 67, De Queen, AR 71832.

For more information, contact the chamber or visit www.seviercountychamberofcommerce.com.

Legacy Academy provides update on famed Coach Otter, upcoming programs     05/22/24

Submitted by Ben Wright/Legacy Academy

Jason Otter is a former Division 1 player (Austin Peay University) and NBA trainer with 30+ years of experience. He recently joined a training camp held for Legacy Academy’s basketball program.

LOCKESBURG – On May 18-19, Legacy Academy hosted two days of elite basketball training for the Warriors and Lady Warriors Senior High teams. The two-day camp focused on developing handling skills, defensive positioning and movement, and offensive motion drills.

LA Warrior teams, having just completed the school year, headed straight back to the Warrior Gym on Saturday morning. The camp offered specialized training for the senior players, tailored specifically towards their playing styles and team composition.

Already looking forward to the next season, Coach Chad Gallagher said, “We loved having Jason Otter with us. Small schools are challenged in their pool of athletes and in their depth of size and natural athleticism, therefore you must compensate through skill development, fundamentals, discipline and other equalizing factors. Otter is excellent at player development. We’re thinking long term in building a strong basketball program, not in just creating a winning season here and there. Investment like this will pay off for decades in an athletic program.”

Jason Otter is a former Division 1 player (Austin Peay University) and NBA trainer with 30+ years of experience. He learned at a young age that smart, hard work will ALWAYS beat talent, when talent doesn’t work hard. By developing drills and strategies with the everchanging game of basketball, we have seen our campers achieve major success. We have helped players reach their goal of playing in college, at all division levels, and even professionally (overseas and NBA).

Legacy Academy Announces Summer Programs

Legacy Academy has unveiled an engaging and diverse lineup of summer programs designed to enrich and inspire their student. Spanning from May to August, the camps will offer a blend of athletic, artistic, and educational activities, ensuring a memorable summer for students of all ages in a Joyfully Different environment of safety, care and nurture. Come and join an unforgettable LA Warrior summer!

Camps include Basketball Camp & Games (May 22-24, June 17-19, July 16-19, July 31-Aug 2), Goodness & Grace (June 4-6), Game Days (June 11-13), Theater Camp (July 8-12, Aug 19-23), Art Camp (July 23-25), Mad Scientist Day (July 30), Culinary Camp (Aug 6-8) and Reading Camp (Aug 6-8).

Committed to providing an enriching summer experience that fosters growth, creativity, and fun, the school’s summer programs are designed to partner with parents to create stimulating and adventurous camps to keep students growing in skill, character and maturity. Whether a new skill or a favorite pastime, Legacy Academy’s programs will offer something for everyone, as well as opportunities for its older students to serve their school community.

Big faker: Arkansas’ hognose snake is Arkansas’ ‘counterfeit cobra’     05/22/24

By Kirsten Bartlow/AGFC

The flattened head of a scared eastern hognose snake may resemble a cobra with an extended hood, but it is a harmless ruse. Bigstock photo.

LITTLE ROCK — Snakes scare a lot of people. According to Web MD, half of the people in the world feel anxious about snakes while 2 to 3 percent of people experience ophidiophobia – a fear of snakes so extreme that it interferes with life.

Trigger warning: This article highlights a snake in Arkansas whose theatrical performance may cause your heart skip a beat.

Spoiler alert: Said snake is harmless to humans. As for their main prey, toads, that’s another story.

The eastern hognose snake lives statewide, but in localized populations. This medium-sized, stocky snake with an upturned snout prefers habitat with sandy or loose soil.

Describing the snake’s coloration is tricky because it comes in a palette of colors – tan, black, olive, yellow, reddish-orange or gray. These colors may be uniform or paired with a series of brown or black blotches on their back and bands on their tail. Adding to this variability, its belly may be gray, yellow, olive or red and mottled with green-gray or gray. One consistency in their coloration is a pair of large, dark brown or black blotches behind the head.

When its initial bluff doesn’t work out, a hognosed snake will resort to “playing dead” in hopes of escaping harm. Bigstock photo.

Their prominent, upturned snout digs and pokes through loose or sandy soil in pursuit of toads, their preferred prey. Toads have dandy defense mechanisms for most predators – glands behind each eye secrete a toxin that makes them inedible and they puff up their bodies to appear much larger. But these defenses are no match for the hognose. A neutralizing enzyme in the digestive tract of the snake allows it to eat toads with no ill effect, and a specialized pair of large teeth in the upper jaw in the back of the mouth deflate a toad like a balloon.

Hognose snakes also produce a mild venom with their saliva that subdues their prey for easy swallowing. While toads make up most of their meals, hognose also dine upon a variety of frogs, salamanders, lizards and their eggs, ground-nesting bird eggs, and small mammals such as mice and shrews.

When frightened, a hognose snake puts on a thespian-worthy performance. Act one involves the snake flattening its head and neck and hissing loudly. It may even strike, but only as a bluff with its mouth closed. If this offensive display doesn’t work to ward off an enemy, the snake’s second act is a strong defense. It may go into convulsions, open its mouth and let its tongue hang out, thrash around, throw up prey from its stomach, defecate, roll onto its back and play dead. If the perceived threat moves away, the snake will eventually roll over onto its belly, look about cautiously while flicking its tongue before slithering away to safety.

Hognose are non-aggressive despite this impressive show – they rarely bite people, even when they’ve been captured. And while the saliva of a hognose helps subdue its prey, it has little effect on humans although some people have experienced a bit of swelling along with a burning and tingling sensation, all short-lived.

The harmless hognose has earned an assortment of nicknames including “puff adder” and “hissing viper.” And while its defensive behaviors work well against their natural enemies, these antics unfortunately cause them to be killed by humans out of unwarranted fear.

Check out AGFC’s “Arkansas Snake Guide” to learn more about the 36 species of snakes that live in The Natural State and the important roles they play in nature.

Arkansas Farm Bureau announces local County Farm Families      05/20/24

SEVIER COUNTY – The Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program has announced its 2024 County Farm Families of the Year for Sevier and surrounding counties.

Since 1947, the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program has helped to recognize outstanding farm families throughout the state. The objectives of the Farm Family of the Year program include giving recognition and encouragement to farm families who are doing an outstanding job on their farm and in their community.

The program also seeks to recognize the importance of agriculture in the community and state and disseminate information on improved farm practices and management.

Selection criteria for the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year includes efficiency of production, conservation of energy and resources, leadership in agricultural and community affairs, home and farm improvement, and home and farm management.

The local county Farm Families of the Year are:

  • Sevier – Justin Craig
  • Hempstead – Curtis & Melissa Bobo
  • Howard – Billy Barton
  • Little River – Mark & Patty Welch
  • Polk – Tracy & Mary Standerfer

The families will be visited by a set of judges to determine eight District Farm Families of the Year, which will be announced June 17. The Arkansas Farm Family of the Year will be announced in December at the Farm Family of the Year luncheon, who then represent Arkansas at the Southeastern Expo Farmer of the Year event in Georgia.

Arkansas has had three Southeast Farmer of the Year winners, Brian and Nan Kirksey of Clark County in 2008 and Wildy Family Farms of Mississippi County in 2016 and the Cobb, Lyerly and Owen Family/Partnership of Craighead County in 2023.

Sponsors of the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program are Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. Additionally, support for the program is provided by the Arkansas Agriculture Department, Arkansas Department of Career Education, Arkansas Press Association, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development.

For more information on the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program, please contact Matt Jackson at matt.jackson@arfb.com or 501-517-4237.

BKMC Chapter 34 to host sanctioned BBQ competition, fundraiser in DQ      05/20/24

DE QUEEN – A Southwest Arkansas motorcycle club is organizing a big get-together later this year in hopes of making De Queen a hot sport for enthusiasts while raising money to help local children in need.

Brothers Keepers Motorcycle Club (BKMC) Chapter 34 will present “Hoorah City Bikes & BBQ” Sept. 13-14 at the Sevier County Fairgrounds in De Queen. The event will include a BBQ cookoff sanctioned by the Barbecue Competitors Alliance (BCA) as well as motorcycle-themed events and activities for the whole family.

BKMC members “Chef” and “Sidestreet” recently joined us to discuss the event and their hopes of making Sevier County a hub for motorcycling in the region.

We have so many great roads to ride around here, from the lakes to the Talihena Drive to Hochatown and others,” said Chef. “De Queen is strategically located right in the middle and we think we can make this a hub for all the enthusiasts out there.”

Chef said Hoorah City Bikes & BBQ hopes to do that by bringing riders together from across the region for the big event in September. That includes the official BBQ competition which will allow winners to enter more regional and national cookoff competitions. Competitors will be tasked with cooking ribs, brisket and chicken. The meat will be donated by Prime Country Meats of Horatio.

We had 10 teams at the unofficial competition in De Queen last year. We hope that increases to 30 this year especially now that we’ll have it entirely sanctioned,” Chef explained.

Other events the weekend of Sept. 13-14 include performances by Lane Bricker and Edson Perez, as well as a Friday night glow ride for motorcycles and SXS/ATVs. Vendors, concessions, a poker run, live/silent auction and a low rider truck show will be held that Saturday. Games for kids and the whole family will be offered as well.

Proceeds from the event will be used to purchase Christmas gifts for children in Sevier County who otherwise may go without. Last year, BKMC Chapter 34 provided Christmas gifts to 127 local children. Chef anticipates the need this year will be even higher.

It’s certainly not like the economy is getting better for folks,” he said. “We’re thinking we’ll have even more kids to help bring Christmas to this year.”

Chef said local residents can help in a few different ways: purchase an event sponsorship (business/group/individual name will be featured on the event t-shirt), donate an auction item, provide a monetary donation or come out to the event Sept. 13-14. Club members are currently visiting local businesses to sell t-shirt sponsorships.

For more information, contact Chef by calling (903) 748-9347. Those interested in entering a BBQ cookoff team can find the registration page by searching for “Hoorah City Bikes & BBQ” on event page on Facebook or by checking out the Brothers Keepers MC 34 Facebook page.

Arkansas publishes new online sex offender registry      05/20/24

Arkansas residents are being notified that a new website is now available with a registry of the state’s sex offenders.

The website is available at www.sexoffenderregistry.ar.gov and is maintained by the Arkansas Crime Information Center. The website allows the public to search the registry for the location of sex offenders in Arkansas.

The registry is updated as offender addresses and other offender information is updated in the Crime Information Center office. The public can search for offenders by address, city, county, zip code or place and see information on the publishable offenders within the map view of the address you enter. The public can also search for an offender by name if applicable.

Any individual who is convicted of certain sex offenses and offenses against children is placed on the registry.

The information on this site is provided as a service to the community and is reviewed and updated regularly by the Arkansas Crime Information Center, prior to appearing on these pages, in order to ensure that it is complete and accurate. Officials with the Arkansas Crime Information Center stress that anyone who uses this information to commit a criminal act against another person is subject to criminal prosecution. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, activity on the site is monitored.

UALR spotlights 2024 graduate and HHS alum Natalee Voss      05/17/24

By Whitley Small/UALR

Natalee Voss

Natalee Voss’s big dreams brought her from the small town of Winthrop, Arkansas to UA Little Rock. At first not sure which direction to take, Voss took a leap into the business side of things and discovered her passion for accounting. Now a senior on the brink of graduation, Voss is looking forward to her next steps after obtaining her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Natalee Voss, and I am a senior at UA Little Rock pursuing my bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting. I grew up in the small town of Winthrop, Arkansas, and attended Horatio High School. I am really just a small town girl with large aspirations in life.

I have always wanted to be successful and make those around me proud. Whether that was in basketball, softball, FFA, school, or just relationships in general. I have been blessed with a supportive and loving family who has always cheered me on and have ultimately been a huge reason as to why I grew up wanting to be a college graduate.

Why did you choose UA Little Rock over other universities?

I ultimately chose UA Little Rock over other universities because it offered the most scholarships. I always knew that I wanted to attend a four-year university, but I never really had my heart set on any one in particular. I applied basically everywhere I could in the state of Arkansas, and UA Little Rock literally gave me the most bang for my buck.

How did you decide to pursue accounting?

You know how when you’re growing up the one question you are asked every school year is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Well, I never had a solid answer to that question. I used to think that I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was little, but when I realized that vets can’t save all the animals, I quickly changed my mind.

In high school, while most girls were taking nursing concurrent credit courses, I dedicated my time to the welding classes. I thought that I wanted to pursue a career in the welding industry after obtaining my associate in applied science my senior year of high school, but I still submitted applications to four-year universities because that was one thing I was always sure I wanted to do in life.

When I first started attending UA Little Rock, I chose to pursue computer science. I literally thought, “Computer people make loads of money, so that sounds great to me!” I quickly discovered that I did not enjoy all that the major entails and, after the toughest semester I have ever had, decided to change my major to business administration.

In doing this, I was introduced to the Principles of Accounting I course. This is where I discovered my love for accounting as well as the importance of choosing a career that makes you happy. Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of accounting that most definitely are not “easy” for me to understand, but this major allowed me to actually be interested in understanding and learning more.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

One accomplishment that I am most proud of is maintaining an honorable GPA throughout my college career. Ever since I can remember, I was always the student that just had to have straight As. In school, everything came easy to me, and I never really had to study. When I began majoring in accounting, there were things that did not come easy, and I had to figure out how I learned best. Although I earned my first B that semester, I felt extremely accomplished because I knew that I had to put in the effort to understand and deserve that grade.

Another accomplishment that I am most proud of is being a Chancellor’s Leadership Corps (CLC) graduate. When I received the CLC scholarship, I knew of several other freshmen who also received the scholarship and honestly didn’t feel like it was that big of a deal. However, as I continued through college, I noticed that the number of individuals who were still scholars was diminishing due to the academic requirements of the scholarship. I feel honored to have been able to continue to maintain my academic status and truly earn the title of a Chancellor’s Leadership Corps graduate.

A final accomplishment that I am most proud of is that I was able to attend a career fair on campus that eventually led to me obtaining an internship with a local accounting firm during my Spring 2023 semester. I was able to become an audit intern for HCJ CPAs & Advisors, PLLC.

Through this internship, I was able to work hands on with certified public accountants while also attending college. I learned many valuable skills through this internship that I will continue to extend upon and carry with me throughout my life and career.

What have been some of the highlights of your time at UA Little Rock?

Some of the highlights of my time at UA Little Rock include gaining new best friends by living in the East Hall dorm, becoming a member of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), and eating the amazing food from the cafeteria. Obtaining lifelong friendships allowed me to create a circle of dependable and uplifting individuals who are my biggest supporters.

I know wholeheartedly that if I had never met these people, my experience at UA Little Rock would have been drastically different. Also, by becoming a member of an on campus student organization, the BCM, I was able to create even more connections, the most important one being with God.

Lastly, I mention one of the highlights of my time at UA Little Rock as being eating the food from the Trojan Cafeteria. This sounds so cheesy, but it is literally the best cafeteria food I have ever, and ever will, eat in my entire life. Not to mention how caring the staff is! They really made the place feel like a home away from home.

What’s next for you?

After graduation, my next steps in life include getting married, moving to a new house, and seeking work. A week and a half after graduation, I will be marrying my high-school sweetheart. We will be moving into our new home that we are currently renovating. After this, I will be seeking a full-time position in an Arkansas-based auditing firm. My internship as an auditing intern for HCJ CPAs & Advisors, PLLC, taught me that I have a passion particularly for the auditing side of accounting. It is my hope to be able to perform duties associated with the state of Arkansas’ government.

Search back on for CRSD superintendent      05/17/24

WICKES – The search is back on for a superintendent to lead the Cossatot River School District.

Incoming Superintendent David Tollett submitted his resignation from the district on May 15. The current superintendent of Lamar Public Schools and a former state representative, Tollett was scheduled to take over as lead administrator of Cossatot River Schools on July 1.

Outgoing Superintendent Tyler Broyles said Tollett submitted his resignation in order to pursue a different option.

Broyles will continue to serve as superintendent through June 30. He’ll be taking on a similar role with the Gentry School District in Northwest Arkansas beginning July 1.

Volunteers need for this Saturday’s citywide cleanup in Ashdown      05/17/24

ASHDOWN – Organizers are hoping for a great turnout for this weekend’s cleanup event in Ashdown.

The Keep Ashdown Beautiful Project will host the cleanup event this Saturday, May 18. Organizers are asking volunteers to meet at Pocket Park (also known as The Two Rivers Park) beginning at 7:30 a.m. Lunch will be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Pocket Park.

Lead Coordinator and Ashdown Alderwoman Lorene Pearson is asking calling on all area residents to volunteer and join in the effort to help beautify the city. The more volunteers helping throughout the city, the more areas the effort can cover.

For more information, contact Pearson at (870) 331-2283.

Safe Boating Week begins May 18; area safety courses scheduled      05/17/24

POLK COUNTY – The COVID-19 pandemic, and orders from health care officials to socially distance from others to limit spread of the virus, sent many people socially distancing on the lakes of Arkansas four years ago. Boating use increased during the summer of 2020 and has remained higher than pre-2020 numbers; it’s no coincidence that boating accidents have been on the uptick since more people took up boating.

During National Safe Boating Week, which begins Saturday, May 18, and runs through Friday, May 24, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will emphasize — not only this week but through the summer — safe boating by users of the water resources around The Natural State, and a strong emphasis will be on boater education, according to Stephanie Weatherington, the AGFC’s boating law administrator.

The first law that needs heeding is wearing a life jacket and the boat operator making sure he or she has enough life jackets on board, including life jackets that are the proper size for boat passengers.

National Safe Boating Week prompts more media pushes nationally for boaters and boat riders to be more aware.

Anyone born before Jan. 1, 1986, isn’t required to have a boater education card. Anyone born on or after that day, and of legal age to operate a motorboat or sailboat, must have completed an approved AGFC Boating Education Course and carry proof while operating a motorboat or sailboat on Arkansas water.

There are two ways to take boater education online: The Original Arkansas Boater Education Course is $34.95 and available at https://www.boat-ed.com/arkansas/.

A more “gamer” style course is available online, for $49.50, at https://www.ilearntoboat.com/arkansas/.

A free, instructor-led boater education class, the traditional method for boater education, lasts a couple of hours each night for three to four nights, or on a full Saturday, culminating with a test to pass the course.

Upcoming classes in the area include at the Mena Library on Saturday, June 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The library is located at 410 Eighth Street in Mena and the course will take place in the community room. Chad B. Lowe, III is the organizer.

Another course will be held Saturday, July 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the University of Hope-Texarkana, located at 2500 South Main in Hope. Mickey Bivens in the organizer.

Find more scheduled classes and sign up here: https://register-ed.com/programs/arkansas/38-arkansas-boater-education-classroom.

Along with taking a boating safety course, wearing a life jacket and avoiding alcohol while operating a boat, the National Safe Boating Council recommends these tips for boaters:

  • Check equipment. Schedule a free vessel safety check with local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to make sure all essential equipment is present, working and in good condition.
  • Make a float plan. Always let someone on shore know the trip itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and communication equipment on board before you leave the dock.
  • Use an engine cut-off switch – it’s the law. An engine cut-off switch is a proven safety device to stop a powerboat engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
  • Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during the excursion.
  • Know what’s going on around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all reported boating incidents in 2022 were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
  • Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Be familiar with the area, local boating speed zones, and always travel at a safe speed.
  • Keep in touch. Have more than one communication device that works when wet. VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones, and cell phones can all be important devices in an emergency.

The National Safe Boating Campaign is produced under a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund and administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. The campaign offers a variety of free and paid resources to support local boating safety education efforts. Learn more at www.safeboatingcampaign.com.

Bunyard Broadcasting to purchase De Queen Bee, other publications to enhance local journalism in SWAR     05/16/24

DE QUEEN – Two of the most storied media groups in Southwest Arkansas are combining forces to provide unparalleled access to local news, sports and community events.

Bunyard Broadcasting, Inc., which operates a network of radio stations across Arkansas as well as The Polk County Pulse, has announced acquisition of a group of print publications in Southwest Arkansas operated by Alabama-based Lancaster Management. The merger includes The Mena Star, The De Queen Bee, The Ouachita Trading Post, The Waldron News and The Mansfield Citizen.

The transition is expected to finalize May 31. Readers of these long-standing newspapers will notice the official change in ownership beginning throughout the first week of June. That change will include a renewed and dedicated focus on local journalism to serve the citizens of Southwest Arkansas.

The media group will serve as a subsidiary of Bunyard Broadcasting under the title Arklahoma Print and Digital Solutions. Owned by Jay and Teresa Bunyard of De Queen, Bunyard Broadcasting has a longstanding commitment to providing timely and accurate information regarding local news, sports and community events. Bunyard has operated KDQN 92.1 FM in De Queen since 1983, eventually expanding to incorporate Arkansas’ first all-Spanish station. The network now operates 18 stations across the state as well as the popular Pulse newspaper in Polk County.

Bunyard said the merger signifies his organization’s commitment to providing timely, relevant and accurate news to the residents of Southwest Arkansas and surrounding region.

I grew up reading local newspapers like The De Queen Bee and The Mena Star and believe they are core to an informed, active and successful community,” said Bunyard. “It’s key to providing our listeners and readers with coverage of youth sports, local events, notable deaths, elections, public notices, and don’t forget a newspaper’s critical role as a watchdog of government.”

The merger marks a return to local ownership for all five publications after decades of corporate management. The Mena Star was purchased more than three decades ago by Lancaster Management. The De Queen Bee was purchased by the Alabama-based corporation in 2007.

Through its existing experience in print media, along with a staff of veteran local journalists, Bunyard believes Arklahoma Print and Digital Solutions will provide residents of Southwest Arkansas with the local coverage they deserve.

I believe that meshing our print professionals like Jamie Hammack, Patrick Massey, Ethan Nahte and John Russell, together with the professional team that’s already in place, will greatly enhance these publications,” he explained. “I’d like to thank Tom Byrd, Patrick McDaniel, Billy Lea and Chris Daniel for all their help to get this transaction to the finish line. We are all very excited about the future of local journalism here in Southwest Arkansas by combining our broadcasting, print and digital opportunities.”

It’s this combination of diverse media platforms that will help ensure a viable future for community journalism in Southwest Arkansas. In turn, that future will rely on the continued and valued support of residents and businesses alike.

The fact that we operate very strong, popular and viable radio stations in Mena and De Queen to cross-promote the newspapers with will give us the opportunity to be successful with this new venture,” said Bunyard. “Being locally-owned will have its advantages for us and our readership and listenership. But most importantly, we must have the continued support of the businesses and readers to ultimately succeed. Without your support through advertising and subscriptions, operating these newspapers and providing the critical service they offer will be impossible.”

Bunyard said his philosophy is to provide reliable sources of important information that matches the needs of the communities in which these publications operate. He believes the acquisition will also breathe new life into locally-based print media.

We know that starts with us,” he explained. “We have to put out products that advertisers and readers will appreciate and take pride in. To lose a newspaper is to lose democracy. We want to do our part to keep democracy alive and make our communities a better place. We would sincerely appreciate your support of your local newspapers, because our communities do not just need them, they deserve them.”

Bunyard Broadcasting anticipates no changes to the core level of service offered to current readers and subscribers, other than a renewed focus on local coverage. More details on the merger and its associated publications will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

Sevier County children will have access to free meals throughout summer     05/15/24

SEVIER COUNTY – The De Queen and Horatio School Districts, in partnership with Excel by Eight, are partnering up to provide free meals this summer to children in an effort to combat local food insecurity.

There is no registration or application required and the feeding program is open to all children under the age of 18.

Horatio Public Schools will sponsor the program June 3-28. De Queen will sponsor the program July 1-26 (no service on July 4).

Locations for meal pick-up between June 3-July 26 are as follows:

-De Queen Public Library from 12:30-2 p.m. Call (870) 584-4364.

-Gillham Public Library from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Call (870) 386-5665.

-Horatio Public Library from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Call (870) 832-6882.

-Lockesburg Public Library from 12-2 p.m. Call (870) 289-2233.

-Winthrop Public Library from 12-2 p.m. Call (870) 381-7580.

-Horatio Elementary Cafeteria from 12-2 p.m. Call (870) 832-1930.

Organizers recommend calling ahead to the meal location before visiting to ensure availability.

AGFC to break down barriers with federal grant     05/15/24

Submitted by Randy Zellers/AGFC

Five choke points like this one on the Robinson Fork of Little River will be replaced with railcar bridges to allow free flow of water and aquatic species throughout the year.

DE QUEEN — Thanks to a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investment of $2 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will be able to tear down five stream barriers on Robinson Fork, restoring stream connectivity to more than 150 miles of aquatic habitat in south Arkansas.

The work will replace five low-water road crossings on property owned by Weyerhaeuser and Polk County with railcar bridges to open up year-round access for fish to move freely throughout the stream. Robinson Fork connects with the Rolling Fork, which enters De Queen Lake and eventually winds its way to the Little River.

We’ve always identified these barriers as possibly being important for stream habitat work in south Arkansas and this was confirmed in barrier assessments recently completed by the South Arkansas Stream Habitat Coordinator Aaron Norton. The new opportunity for funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enabled us to give them more attention,” Tim Burnley, Stream Habitat Supervisor for the AGFC, said. “Lo and behold, our proposal was one of the 43 projects that will be funded.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investment of just over $70 million will address these outdated and obsolete barriers in 43 projects across 29 states. These funds build on the Service’s 2022 and 2023 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law National Fish Passage Program investments of nearly $73 million for 79 projects across the U.S. The newly announced project list represents the third and fourth years of funding of a five-year, $200 million commitment to restore free-flowing waters, allowing for fish migration and protecting communities from flooding.

Culverts under this road crossing restrict fish passage and will be removed as part of the announced project.

We’ll also be doing a lot of stream stabilization work around these areas that will reduce sedimentation in the stream and increase overall water quality,” Burnley said. “This work will greatly improve the habitat for many federally threatened species as well as the federally endangered Leopard Darter, which historically resided in this stretch of the river.  The ultimate goal is to reintroduce this species back into Robinson Fork”

In addition to Weyerhaeuser, and the AGFC, the Arkansas Stream Heritage Partnership and Howard Polk and Sevier counties are all collaborating to make the project a success.

We also received the support of the Choctaw nation of Oklahoma, as these barrier removals open up fish passage to areas far upstream of Arkansas and will let native fish access historic habitats in Oklahoma,” Burnley said.


The USFWS’s National Fish Passage Program, which is funded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, works to restore degraded and fragmented aquatic habitats while decreasing public safety hazards by removing obsolete dams or improving water delivery for local agricultural irrigation districts.

Officials hopeful for SCMC after cuts, recent revenue report     05/14/24

DE QUEEN – Officials with the Sevier County Medical Center are cautiously optimistic over the hospital’s future after concerns shared at a special quorum court meeting last month suggested it was teetering towards financial collapse.

During Monday’s meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court, County Judge Sandra Dunn said the hospital was making “significant” progress in paying off creditors while increasing hospital revenue. Payroll was reduced by $60,000 between March and April after staff reductions were implemented to help address the hospital’s financial situation. A total of 25 positions were eliminated.

Other changes implemented since the April 2 special meeting – during which hospital officials announced the facility was in dire financial distress – include a five percent wage decrease for most employees, mandatory employee contributions for health insurance coverage and a flexible staffing model that matches employee levels to immediate patient loads. 

The hospital is also seeking to eliminate APERS retirement in favor of a 401k system, although this transition is dependent on the hospital seeking designation as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. It does not currently hold that status.

Another decision made last month was to decline renewing the contract with CEO Lori House. The hospital’s current lead administrator is Chief Nursing Officer Stacy Dowdy.

Officials said these changes, along with increasing the efficiency of the hospital’s billing process and emphasizing its most profitable services – such as its swing bed program – are creating some blue skies around what was a threatening storm of fiscal challenges.

Hospital board member Mike Branson has taken a lead role in efforts to turn around the ailing hospital. He said the hospital posted positive net revenue in April despite this being a traditionally slow period in the healthcare industry.

“Net revenue was a little over $1.2 million, which is the highest net revenue we’ve seen since the hospital opened back in January of 2023,” said Branson. “That’s really encouraging when you consider that this time of year revenues tend to fall off a little bit due to a reduction in patient activity. And that’s even before we get swing bed revenue and that’s really encouraging. To me that says we’ve got the interests and the needs of the community to keep our patient levels up.”

The Sevier County Medical Center has also benefited from a tremendous level of private donations since the hospital’s financial woes were publicly announced last month. Financial help from both the county and private citizens and businesses has amounted to over $700,000. Branson said this support has had a great impact.

“A large part of that was donations made by the citizens of the community,” said Branson. “To me, it really speaks volumes to the quality of the people of Sevier County and their interest in seeing the hospital survive. The good thing is, we’ve been able to keep most of that money in our bank account. That positions us really well on a go-forward basis.”

With so much emphasis placed on the hospital’s financial situation, officials have been quick to praise the efforts by staff to operate at lower levels and reduced pay without negating the quality of care. Branson said the employees of the Sevier County Medical Center have performed Herculean tasks to ensure the care provided to the public does not suffer.

“In my mind, they’re the heroes in this process, the ones who are staying and making it work,” said Branson. “We went from being overstaffed to relatively understaffed now. But what you’ve seen is, these employees have really stepped up and are doing what is necessary to take care of our patients and keep the quality of care up. We’ll rebalance over time and get our staffing back to where it needs to be. Our hats are off to the employees because they’re the ones making a difference day in and day out.”

Branson was quick to stress that the hospital remains on a difficult path to reach fiscal sustainability. However, the increase in revenue and significant reductions in expenses experienced over the past month give hope that it can be done.

“You can just feel the momentum is beginning to shift,” he said. “We’ve still got lots of bumps and hurdles in front of us and it’ll always be a challenge for a critical access hospital in a rural setting like ours. But I think we have some wind in our sails and we’re moving the right direction.”

Among those whose optimism is growing is Justice of the Peace Greg Wright. He and Callie Efird were among the first on the quorum court to publicly express concerns over the hospital’s financial situation. They’ve raised numerous issues, questions and public comments during their meetings with hospital officials. Both suggested strong steps needed to be taken to reverse the hospital’s course.

Given an increase in transparency and the recently-implemented changes, Wright said he feels much more comfortable with the hospital’s future.

“I really am,” he said. “I tried to stay optimistic, but it’s always a tough climb when you have a community putting in a hospital like this and not a whole lot of money. Not a lot of people had done this and there wasn’t a new hospital built in Arkansas in 40 years. It was tough. I began to see a lot of things I didn’t like, I heard from people who didn’t like what they heard. But we’ve made some changes.”

Wright said Branson’s addition to the hospital’s board of governors has been instrumental in building a future of fiscal sustainability.

“He’s just been great for that board, he’s intelligent, knows what he’s doing and tells it like it is,” explained Wright. “It was refreshing. Changes have been made and they weren’t easy. But they’re really helping. I’m more optimistic now than I’ve ever been. It’s never going to make a lot of money, but we know that. But I do think we’re on the right track now to keep it open and serve the people of Sevier County. That’s what we want it to do.”

During Monday’s quorum court meeting, county officials also discussed a desire to hire an in-house chief financial officer to maximize the hospital’s financial operations. Currently, that service is contracted through an outside accounting firm.

The quorum court, in conjunction with the hospital’s board of governors, is launching an effort to explore the possibility of converting the hospital to a 501(c) 3 non-profit. The committee is headed by Justice of the Peace Angie Walker, who also serves as officer manager for the clinic operated by her husband, Dr. Randy Walker.

De Queen says farewell to 152 graduates in Class of 2024     05/14/24

DE QUEEN – Monday night was one of congratulations, excitement, fond memories and perhaps even some bittersweet sentiments as De Queen High School said farewell to the Class of 2024.

Thousands turned out to celebrate the commencement ceremony for De Queen High School’s 152 graduating seniors. Despite a sketchy weather forecast, the rain held off and the entire ceremony was welcomed with temperatures pleasantly in the 70s.

The once-in-a-lifetime event for this year’s seniors kicked off with a processional by the De Queen High School Band. Max Pinkerton provided the invocation and Joel Galvan recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

The National Anthem was performed by Mrs. Stephanie Jones, Jordan Biddle, Jordan Daley, Justin Dacayo and Kaitlin Villeda. Laura Mae Harp provided a scripture reading.

Presli Young introduced the night’s keynote speaker, 1974 DHS graduate Liz Culp Howell. Howell became the first female vice-chancellor in the history of Harding University and now owns a realty firm in Searcy. She is also the mother of DHS Principal Aubrey Chandler.

Howell discussed her own experiences at De Queen High School while providing an inspirational message to the graduating class. She stressed that graduates look forward to the bright future which awaits them if they dedicate themselves, and that life only gets greater after high school.

The salutatory address was provided by Co-Salutatorians Martha Jaramillo and Roberto Osorio-Perez. The valedictory address was shared by Co-Valedictorians Elaina Rivas and Jamileth Rueda.

Rivas shared a few fond memories from her time at De Queen, as well as a few inspirational messages. We want to share that message because few in the crowd could have been unaffected by its sincerity, its strength and the sentiment that, “Once a Leopard, Always a Leopard.”

DHS Counselor Ramona Hill shared an announcement that the Class of 2024 received more than $1 million in scholarships, including approximately $80,000 provided by local donors.

DHS Principal Aubrey Chandler, Superintendent Jason Sanders and School Board President Dr. Kenny Martin awarded the diplomas.

The night was wrapped up with a benediction by Caleb King and a recessional consisting of the 2024 Senior Class Song, “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas.

Ushers for the night included Ty Collier, Ulyces Coto, Sophie Hunt, Perry Nickerson, Presley Parson, Katelyn Ponce, Arturo Quintana and Lance Wise.

The entire ceremony is available for viewing on the DQTV YouTube channel.

Everyone here at KDQN wants to share a special congrats and farewell to two graduates who served a vital role on our stations, Penelope Sims and Jordan Daley. From all of us here, we miss you already and wish you the greatest luck in the future. Congrats to all the graduates of De Queen’s Class of 2024.

Riding for the Brand Tour coming back to De Queen this Friday     05/14/24

DE QUEEN – Rodeo fans get ready because organizers are gearing up to host an exciting night of youth riding and rodeo events this weekend.

De Queen Auto Group will host stop #3 of the Riding for the Brand Tour presented by Southern Caregivers this Friday, May 17. The main performance kicks off at 7:30 p.m. in the De Queen Auto Group Arena at the Sevier County Fairgrounds.

The rodeo was rescheduled from March to this weekend after weather-related cancellations.

From bull riding and saddle bronc to barrels, poles and team roping, Friday night’s rodeo will offer an action-packed evening for everyone in the listening area. The rodeo will feature a 75 percent payback and points towards buckles and awards. Concessions will be available.

Youth entries will be accepted through eight this evening.

Mike Launius, pastor of Rugged Cross Cowboy Church in Magnolia and one of the founders of Riding for the Brand, said in an interview last year that attendees to the Riding for the Brand tour can expect a great night of rodeo entertainment.

“We’ve got a great group of kids and a lot of kids from Sevier, Polk and Howard Counties as well as some out of state guys and gals that are junior world champions,” said Launius. “They’re rodeo competitors just like the big guys and girls you see at the big shows.”

Riding for the Brand Youth Rodeo Tour began five years ago and in that time has awarded over $20,000 to youth competitors. That’s a point Launius is proud of, but said the tour is about much more than prizes.

“We started this about four years ago and if we had 70 entries at a rodeo, it would be a huge rodeo,” said Launius. “The next year it doubled and then the next year it went up about 25 percent. We pay out about as much as a college rodeo would. But the whole thought behind Riding for the Brand is, we share the Gospel before the rodeo starts. We want a good, family-friendly atmosphere for kids to come to improve their skills, win some big money and, more importantly, learn that there’s more in life than what happens in the rodeo arena. And that’s living up to the principles of Jesus.”

Some of those youth have been able to earn a place on a collegiate rodeo team through their performance with Riding for the Brand.

The 2024 stop #3 Riding for the Brand Youth Rodeo Tour begins at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, May 17 in the De Queen Auto Group Arena at the Sevier County Fairgrounds.

Cost is just $10 for those seven and up; free to everyone six and under, as well as contestants.

For more information contact Mike Launius at (870) 451-2304.

De Queen to send off Class of 2024 tonight at Leopard Stadium     05/13/24

DE QUEEN – It’s graduation day for the De Queen High School Class of 2024.

District officials will host commencement ceremonies beginning at eight this evening at Leopard Stadium.

The commencement ceremony for the Cossatot River High School Class of 2024 will be held beginning at 6 p.m. tonight at Stevenson Gymnasium on the high school campus.

Dierks High School will send off its 2024 graduating seniors on Tuesday, May 14 at the J.L. Johnson Gymnasium.

Horatio High School will say “farewell” to the Class of 2024 during a graduation ceremony scheduled for Thursday, May 16 at the Horatio Football Field.

Ashdown High School will host its graduation for the 2024 Class on Thursday, May 16 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Dick Hayes Stadium.

Legacy Academy in Lockesburg will honor its seniors at a commencement ceremony scheduled for Friday, May 17 at the Legacy Academy Gymnasium.

Foreman’s graduation is Thursday, May 23 at Memorial Stadium.

Leopards fall against Dardanelle at state soccer semi-finals     05/13/24

MAUMELLE – Saturday was a tough day for the De Queen Leopards after they were unable to advance past the semi finals at the 4A State Soccer Tournament, falling 2-1 against the Dardanelle High School Sand Lizards.

The boys were looking great after earning a 6-3 victory over Southside Southerners in the second round of State on Friday. Donovan Ester had 2 goals on the day and Luis Sotelo had 3 assists on crosses. Despite the loss at state – the first loss for the Leopards since they opened conference play in March – Head Coach Stephen Sloan said he is proud of the attitude and effort of his athletes.

Lady Leopards played their hearts out but fell in a shootout at the first round of state tournament last Thursday. It was the final game for three of De Queen’s top female players the last few years, Nancy Martinez, Alexa Monroy and Martha Jaramillo.

After cancellation in Grannis, OBRA series kicks off May 19 in Mena     05/13/24

MENA – The Ouachita Barrel Racing Association will host its first in an eight-week series of competitions this Sunday in Mena.

Organizers originally scheduled the first event for this past Saturday in Grannis. However, they were forced to cancel due to weather conditions. That race has been rescheduled to June 15.

The first race of the series is now scheduled for May 19 at the Andy Risenhoover Arena, located at 156 Polk County Road 43 in Mena.

The full schedule is as follows (weather-permitting):

-June 3 at the Hatfield Riding Club Arena

-June 10 at the Grannis Trail Rider’s Arena

-June 17 at the Andy Risenhoover Arena

-June 24 at the Hatfield Riding Club Arena

-July 1 at the Grannis Trail Rider’s Arena

-July 8 at the Andy Risenhoover Arena

Entries are available for open ($30), novice ($15), youth ($20), peewee ($10) and exhibitor ($4). Only cash will be accepted for entry fees. In addition, there is a $25 nomination per rider and the rider must be nominated by the second race. A variety of payout splits will be offered depending on division.

Entry fees and registration will be accepted at the arena before the race.

Buckles will be available for the open and youth division winners. Riders must compete in at least six races to qualify for buckles.

For more information, contact Colby Saddler at (479) 216-8501, Lena Davis at (870) 784-3797 or Madison Herod at (479) 234-0402.

Work on Pullman Road in Sevier County to begin today     05/13/24

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Judge’s Office advises that the Road Department will be working on improvements to Pullman Road beginning Monday, May 13, weather permitting. 

Dependent on the weather, this work could take up to three weeks. 

A portion of the project includes replacement of culverts at Pepper Creek.  Detours using Memory Lane and Ottawa Road may be necessary at certain times during the road work. 

For more information, you can contact the County Judge’s Office at (870) 642-2425, ext. 3.

Cossatot River seeking host families for foreign exchange students     05/13/24

WICKES – Cossatot River High School is seeking parents to host foreign exchange students for the upcoming school year as part of an educational and cultural experience for its students and families.

Cossatot River previously offered a similar program and Superintendent Dr. Tyler Broyles said the district is excited to bring it back to the district for another year.

“We’ve had this in the past, but we have it approved now for Cossatot River High School,” said Broyles. “Many community members have asked me about revising it. Under the leadership of one of our principals, Dr. Mary Lowery, she got us approved. We’re very excited about revising that program for the upcoming school year.”

Broyles added that the experience can be a life-shaping one for both sides of the program.

“It’s a long lasting relationship, great cultural experience on both sides, and one more thing we can offer at Cossatot River,” said Broyles.

Those interested in hosting a foreign-exchange student have a few requirements to keep in mind. They must be able to provide a bedroom (can be shared), three meals per day, transportation for school (bus is acceptable) and loving guidance.

For more information, call Jayme at (479) 243-8744, Paula at (479) 216-4464 or Elizabeth at (479) 234-0725, or visit www.studentexchange.org.

Over $75,000 in local scholarships awarded to De Queen seniors      05/10/24

DE QUEEN – The 2024 De Queen High School Scholarship Banquet was held Thursday evening in the cafeteria. Local businesses and organizations awarded a total of $75,805 in scholarships this year, according to Counselor Ramona Hill.

College Scholarship presentations totaled another $657,308. Because of delays in the launching of the College FASFA process this year, Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships through the lottery totals are not yet available. The Arkansas Lottery Scholarships are valued at up to $14,000 for four-year colleges in the state.

The prestigious Rotary Academic Cup, that dates back to 1936, and is awarded annually to the outstanding young man of the senior class went to Max Pinkerton. The P.E.O. Cup that goes to the outstanding young lady in the class was awarded to Kinley Ward.

2023 D.H.S. graduate Abigail Gonzalez-San Juan, a student at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, gave the opening remarks and provided some words of wisdom to this year’s graduates.

Graduation exercises for De Queen High seniors will be held Monday evening at 8:00 in Leopard Stadium.

Horatio teams, Leopards advance in state tournaments      05/10/24

In some exciting sports updates, the Horatio Lions baseball team and Lady Lions softball team advanced in the 2A State Tournament in Palestine on Thursday. The boys posted a 7-2 victory over Mansfield while the girls won a 7-6 nail-biter against Lavaca. The Lions will take on Cedar Ridge at 3 this afternoon with the girls scheduled to compete against Riverside at 10 am on Saturday.

Also, the De Queen Leopards walloped Berryville in the state 4A soccer tournament in Maumelle on Thursday, posting a 4-0 victory over the Bobcats. They’ll take on Bauxite at 4 p.m. today in hopes of making it to next week’s finals and defending their 2023 state title.

The Lady Leopards unfortunately lost in their opening round at the state tournament after a scoreless tie that ended with a 4-2 Farmington victory following a wild series of penalty kicks.

De Queen Lions Club Youth Fishing Derby is Saturday      05/10/24

DE QUEEN LAKE – The De Queen Lions Club will host its annual Youth Fishing Derby from this Saturday, May 11.

The derby is being organized for local youth aged 15-years-old and younger. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. at the De Queen Lake Spillway. Fishing starts at 9 a.m. and will end at 11 .m.

There is a limit of one fishing pole per youth. Youth must be accompanied by an adult. The first 100 contestants registered will receive a t-shirt, if sizes are available. There is no fishing license or cost required for this event. In addition, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will provide catfish for the derby.

Local schools announce partnership to address food insecurity       05/10/24

SEVIER COUNTY – The De Queen and Horatio School Districts along with other entities have partnered up to help address food insecurity for families in Sevier County over the summer break.

Free breakfast and lunch will be offered for all children ages 0-18 throughout the summer. This program is made possible thanks to a partnership between Excel by Eight, No Kid Hungry, De Queen and Horatio school districts and the Sevier County Library System.

More details on how families can participate in the program will be announced soon.

Sevier County to host 42nd annual Senior Citizens Appreciation Day       05/10/24

DE QUEEN – Sevier County is inviting everyone 55 and older to the 42nd annual Senior Citizens Appreciation Day on May 31.

Come by between 9 a.m. and 12 noon as Sevier County celebrates the contributions of our senior citizens with food, prizes, music, health screenings and more.

Registration begins that morning on the lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. The event will include a recognition of Sevier County’s oldest man, woman and military veteran as well as the county’s longest married couple.

This year’s event, themed “Under the Sea,” will include dozens of health screenings, services and vendors specializing in care for senior citizens.

Organizers will also recognize long-time supporters of the event.

Senior Citizens Appreciation Day was founded over four decades ago as a way to honor the local contributions and achievements of Sevier County’s senior citizens.

Again, Sevier County’s 42nd annual Senior Citizens Appreciation Day will be held Friday, May 31.

Public reminded of May 31 personal tax assessment deadline      05/10/24

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Assessor Sheila Ridley and her office are reminding everyone that personal taxes must be assessed by May 31st to avoid a penalty as provided by law.

A 10 percent penalty will be applied if you assess your taxable property after the May 31 deadline.

When you assess your taxes all changes in real estate structures must be reported.

Be sure and apply for Amendment 79, the homestead credit, if you haven’t already. You do not need to reapply for this credit each year. If you are 65 years of age or older you can receive a property tax value freeze.

You can call (870) 584-3182 to assess personal property or come by 115 N. Third Street, Suite 117 at the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. You can also email assessor@seviercountyassessor-ar.gov.

Sevier County Chamber discusses eclipse, bass festival and remodel      05/09/24

DE QUEEN – The Board of Directors of the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce met Wednesday at noon.

Executive Director Suzanne Babb gave a report on the April 8 Total Eclipse. It’s estimated that about 2,000 tourists, mostly day-trippers, visited Sevier County to view the Eclipse. Although that’s far fewer visitors than what Wyoming experienced in 2017 and less than what was anticipated here last month, the Chamber Board thanked everyone for the cohesiveness in the County to be prepared. Hopefully, many of the approximate 2,000 guests enjoyed their visit and will return as tourists in the future. The Saturday Eclipse events at the Fairgrounds were successful.

The Chamber, the Fair Board, and the college foundation each received checks for $2,733 as the profits were divided evenly between the three organizations. The Chamber office still has Eclipse T-Shirts available for sale at a price of two for $20. 

The Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, is coming up on Saturday, May 25 during the Memorial Day weekend. Registrations are starting to roll into the Chamber office. Last year, 314 anglers from throughout the region competed in the tournament. Volunteers are needed at weigh-in sites at all three lakes. For more information, contact the Chamber Office.

The remodeling project of the Chamber of Commerce office on Stilwell Avenue in downtown De Queen is expected to be completed later this month. The total project cost is expected to be between $80,000 – $85,000. The Chamber has already raised $45,000 in commitments toward the project. Businesses interested in contributing toward the remodeling project are encouraged to call the Chamber office.

A move-in date will be scheduled for the week of May 20. Executive Director Suzanne Babb says the remodeled building will be something that citizens will be very proud of. 

Leopards, Lady Leopards heading off to stat soccer tourney today       05/09/24

DE QUEEN – We’re joining the community in wishing the Leopards and Lady Leopards a safe trip and the best of luck as they head off for the opening round of the 4A state soccer championship in Maumelle today.

The undefeated leopards will be defending their state title after an amazing season in 2023. This year has been even more promising for the boys after they posted their 17th straight victory against Arkadelphia last Friday.

The Lady Leopards play Farmington in the first round of state today with Game time set for 1. The Leopards open up against Berryville at 3 following the girls game. Both games will be played at Maumelle High School. Brackets are located at ScoreBookLive and all state games will be live-streamed.

AEDC awards nearly $1.5 million for local infrastructure improvement projects       05/08/24

LOCKESBURG – Several area cities are set to receive some much needed financial assistance to fund infrastructure improvements.

Last week, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders along with officials from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) announced the organization had awarded nearly $8.5 million in Community Development Block Grants to 17 Arkansas cities and counties.

These grants were awarded under the General Assistance set-aside, part of Arkansas’s $17.8 million grant allocation, to provide communities the opportunity to apply for a variety of non-housing public facility and public infrastructure projects. These funds originate from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Local recipients include:

  • · Lockesburg, Sevier County, $500,000, water tank improvements 
  • · Dierks, Howard County, $499,743, water system improvements 
  • · Hope, Hempstead County, $500,000, wastewater system improvements 

When the federal government works right, in coordination with state and local experts, the results can be fantastic. The Community Development Block Grant program is a great example of state and federal collaboration,” said Governor Sanders. “This year’s seventeen recipients come from all across our state, from Garland City in the southwest to Peach Orchard in the northeast. Each one of these grants advances our administration’s priorities of improving our education system, investing in workforce readiness, and ensuring that every Arkansan has access to safe and clean drinking water.”

AEDC is highlighting these awards in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Community Development Block Grant Program. Enacted by Congress in 1974 under the Housing and Community Development Act, CDBG provides necessary funding to communities across the country to address infrastructure, economic development, housing, disaster recovery, and other community needs.

Across Arkansas, there are thriving communities that are laying the foundation for future economic success and improving the lives of their citizens,” said Clint O’Neal, Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. “The Community Development Block Grants help local communities to strengthen that foundation to provide excellent quality of life and a great business environment for companies.”

Since the CDBG program’s inception in Arkansas in 1983, more than $900 million has been awarded for 2,390 projects that have benefited more than 5.16 million Arkansans. State CDBG funds are utilized for a variety of public facility and public infrastructure projects, including senior centers; childcare centers; public health facilities; youth centers; residential water and wastewater; street, curb, gutter, sidewalk, or storm sewer; and flood control and drainage projects; as well as towards economic development grants incentivizing the location or expansion of jobs in the state. Funds are awarded on an annual basis with counties and municipalities also allocating resources to meet urgent needs and benefit low- and moderate-income persons.

The Community Development Block Grant remains one of the most important grant resources for the State of Arkansas and local governments and their non-profit and other partners to utilize in designing flexible solutions to meet community development needs,” said Jean Noble, Director of AEDC’s Grants Division. “We are proud to recognize the awardees for their hard work and dedication to addressing their highest priority community needs and administering these funds effectively back in local cities and counties. We look forward to partnering on these successful projects!”

To be eligible for CDBG funds, communities must have a population of less than 50,000 and at least 51 percent of the persons benefitting from the project must be of low- to moderate-income. The project must meet another CDBG national objective, prevention of slum or blight, or meet an urgent need. All Arkansas cities and counties are eligible for the grant program except for 14 entitlement cities that receive CDBG funds directly from HUD.

For more information on the Arkansas Small Cities CDBG or CDBG-CV program, visit https://www.arkansasedc.com/grants

Texarkana PD arrests Sevier County man as part of sex crimes sting       05/08/24

TEXARKANA, Texas – A Sevier County man was among five arrested as part of a multi-agency sex crimes sting in Texarkana over the weekend.

According to the Texarkana Texas Police Department, 42-year-old Lance Bradshaw was charged with solicitation of a prostitute as part of the operation conducted in the Texarkana area. He and another defendant, identified as 67 year old Henry Oller, were netted during the sting and their two cases are not related to an underage person.

Three other men, however, were arrested for Online Solicitation of a Minor after they reached out and communicated with an undercover officer that they thought was an underage girl. All three are residents of the Texarkana, Texas area and identified as 32-year-old Dylan Dickens, 37-year-old Jesus Rosa Rosales and 54-year-old Keith Godfrey.

Bradshaw was a teacher for the De Queen School District. The De Queen School Board met Tuesday night and accepted his resignation, effective immediately.

Bradshaw was hired by the Cossatot River School Board earlier this year to serve as head track and assistant football coach beginning this fall. However, Cossatot River Superintendent Tyler Broyles said he will recommend a separation arrangement to the board next week due to the arrest. He added that Bradshaw’s contract had not yet been fully executed.

Sevier County Chamber hosting ribbon cuttings in coming days, weeks       05/08/24

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is informing the community of a number of upcoming ribbon cuttings and open houses.

That includes this Thursday, May 9 at De Queen Family Medical, located at 500 Collin Raye Drive in the east end of Pruett’s Foods in De Queen. The chamber will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 12 noon to welcome De Queen Family Medical as its newest member.

In addition, the KDQN Morning Brew Crew will be set up live on location from 2-4 p.m. to interview the owners and staff and share additional details about one of Sevier County’s newest businesses. We’ll also have the KDQN Treasure Chest full of cash and prizes!

Other upcoming chamber ribbon cuttings:

  • May 10 – 12 p.m. – LIFT HOUSE  Open house, 116 N. Third Street (downtown De Queen )
  • May 17 – 12 p.m. – TWISTED TINES  168 Hwy. 71 N, De Queen
  • May 31 – HOCHATOWN RESCUE CTR & PETTING ZOO – hosted by Sev. Co. Farmers Coop 801 W Collin Raye
  • June 7 – 12 p.m. – DE QUEEN SELF STORAGE NORTH  180 Old Hwy. 71 N, De Queen
  • June 7 – 12:30 p.m. – BACKWOODS BRUSH CONTROL  180 Old Hwy. 71 N, De Queen
  • June 14 – 12 p.m. – KEN STEWARTS MEMORIAL ARTS  109 Lakeside Drive, De Queen
  • June 21 – 12PM – THE BREAKFAST JOINT Food Truck, Samaritan Fields in De Queen

AGFC: Leave ‘abandoned’ wildlife where you find it       05/08/24

Submitted by AGFC

A deer fawn’s instinct to stay perfectly still and quiet is how it avoids predators; the mother is likely nearby waiting for you to leave.

LITTLE ROCK – Many species of wildlife have their young in spring, and many well-meaning Arkansans regularly call the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to report deer fawns and other young wildlife that look abandoned. But moving these animals can actually cause more harm than good.

Most wildlife cannot be with their young nonstop. They must search out food for their offspring or gain much-needed nutrition to continue nursing them. It’s not uncommon for a doe deer or rabbit to leave her young alone nearly all day while she eats and recuperates from the stress of nursing. Mother and father birds also take many trips scouring the nearby area for food they will bring back to the hatchlings.

It can be a shock to a person to see these young animals in such a helpless position, but this is how these species survive. In fact, the more trips back and forth a mother makes to her young in the wild, the more scent trails she leaves behind for predators to possibly follow.

Often, a doe deer is within hearing distance of her young, even though you may not see her. The best defenses fawns and rabbit kits have are to stay motionless so they blend into their surroundings and stay quiet so they don’t attract unwanted attention. Baby birds almost ready to fly hop around in the tree branches exercising their wings, and often end up on the ground a few times before finally getting the hang of things. Parent birds will continue to feed them on the ground until they fly off on their own.

Moving “orphaned” wildlife works against this plan. Instead of rescuing them, well-meaning people often mistakenly take them from their mothers and have little to no experience or idea on how to help that young animal. Wildlife rehabilitation permittees often are overwhelmed by kidnapped young owls and other birds that were mistakenly “rescued” by well-meaning people.

If you do find a young animal and have taken it from the area, the best practice is to place it back where you found it as soon as possible. In cases where the spot may have been unsafe because of a nearby road or predator, you can move the animal slightly and its mother will find it. Forget the wive’s tales about the mother rejecting the young because of your scent; when she comes back to the area, she will take care of her young regardless.

According to Dr. Jenn Ballard, state wildlife veterinarian for the AGFC, young deer and elk present an additional challenge because it is illegal for a rehabilitator to take them in.

The transport of live deer can help spread chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease in deer, elk and other cervids,” Ballard said. “Research in Arkansas indicates that it is possible for a fawn to be born with CWD, and that deer could not only infect others at a rehabilitation site, but contaminate their facility, making it possible to spread the disease to any future rehabilitated cervids.”

Even if a baby owl or bird falls from the nest, the parents often tend to it on the ground if it is healthy until it is ready to fly.

If you happen upon a fawn, you legally must leave it where you find it. Just because an adult deer was found dead nearby does not mean the fawn is alone. That deer that was hit by a car may not be the fawn’s mother. Even in cases where the mother has been killed, there is still a chance other does are nearby that will take in the fawn as their own if they find them. In either case, that animal’s best chance of living a healthy life in the wild is for people to step aside and let Mother Nature take care of things.

If you know the animal is injured or truly orphaned and it is not a bear, deer or elk, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission keeps a list of licensed rehabilitators available on its website at www.agfc.com/rehab.  These rehabilitators do not receive pay for their efforts, have limited space, and often are available only during certain hours, so calling ahead to find one that will take in the animal is highly recommended.

Jason Sanders recognized as 2024 Superintendent of the Year       05/07/24

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders stands alongside his family after receiving the 2024 AREA Superintendent of the Year award Monday night.

DE QUEEN – The Arkansas Rural Education Association officially recognized De Queen’s Jason Sanders Monday night as one of its two Superintendents of the Year for 2024.

The Arkansas Rural Education Association (AREA) recognizes two superintendents of the year, one from north and one from south of Interstate 40. The recipient of the north region for 2024 is Dr. Andrea Martin of the Greenland School District.

The candidates are nominated by Educational Service Cooperatives who are AREA members.

Dennis Copeland, executive director of AREA, presented the award to Sanders during Monday night’s meeting of the De Queen School Board. He discussed the organization and its decision to recognize Sanders this year.

“This started back several years ago. We recognized teachers of the year through our sponsor, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, and someone suggested we start recognizing superintendents and we said sure,” said Copeland. “Each one of the 15 education service co-ops nominate a superintendent and narrow it down to one. It’s a pretty rigorous application. [Jason Sanders] was the top pick in the southern district. He does a great job, this is a great school system and he’s been a great leader for the district.”

De Queen principals and assistant principals, along with a number of his Sanders’ family members surprised him by appearing at the meeting for the award presentation. Sanders said he was grateful the award, but credits De Queen students, faculty and staff for making it possible. He said the entire district works tirelessly to bring education to De Queen’s children.

“First, I’m very appreciative and thankful for the award,” said Sanders. “I appreciate them for doing this award and for their board of directors for selecting me. I would not have had a chance to win if it wasn’t for the nominations by the other superintendents in the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative. For me, that’s an award in and of itself by being recognized by other educators in your area. I’m very lucky that I get to go to work everyday for such a great district.

“We have 2,400 great students, 300 teachers and support staff that do a tremendous job every day. When you surround yourself with successful people, successful things happen. Any area you look at in our school, it’s tremendous. From the principals leading the buildings, to our board and our community and parents. De Queen Schools was great before I got here and it’ll be great after I’m retired and I’m gone. Every day I just try to leave it better and improve the school the best that I can.”

Sanders joined De Queen Public Schools as an assistant superintendent in 2018 and was tasked with overseeing the construction of the new De Queen High School. After the retirement of Superintendent Bruce Hill in 2019, he was promoted to Superintendent. Under his leadership, the district continued to improve its facilities and build on its tradition of academic success despite facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past six years, the district has made twenty-five million dollars worth of facility improvements and has several ongoing projects. Ground is about to be broken for a new school farm so that students who do not have access to acreage can still participate in animal science and agricultural opportunities. The district has implemented several new partnerships, such as Chartwells and Senic Solar Energy.

In addition to having one of Arkansas’ two superintendents of the year, the De Queen School District also boasts the 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, Beau McCastlain, who just returned from an official awards ceremony at the White House in Washington DC. Two De Queen High School Seniors, Ashley McCullough and Dayanti Villeda, also attended the trip and had the opportunity to embed with the White House Press Corps.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders stands alongside his family after receiving the 2024 AREA Superintendent of the Year award Monday night.

De Queen Rotary Club honors recipients of 2024 Community Service Awards       05/07/24

The De Queen Rotary Club hosted its annual Community Service Awards on Monday. From left to right are Sevier County Judge Sandra Dunn, Sevier County Firefighter of the Year Roy Stover, De Queen Firefighter of the Year James Ruth, DQPD Captain Sonny Kimmel, DQPD Officer of the Year Chad Bradshaw, Sevier County Deputy of the Year Chris Turner and Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Rotary Club presented the annual Community Service Awards to deserving law enforcement officers and firefighters at Monday’s noon meeting of the Club.

Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry and Sonny Kimmel, representing the City of De Queen, simultaneously presented Officer of the Year Awards to Chris Turner and Chad Bradshaw.

Last July, Deputy Turner responded to a domestic abuse call on Sweet Home Lane east of De Queen where he was met with gunfire. His training kicked in and he sought a place of safety and called for back-up assistance. The suspect fled on a motorcycle and was eventually apprehended in Little River County. During the high-speed pursuit, Officer Bradshaw suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder. The Arkansas Attorney General honored both Chris Turner and Chad Bradshaw in December for their heroic efforts during this dangerous incident last July. The Rotary Club also proudly honored both officers on Monday.

County Judge Sandra Dunn presented the County Firefighter of the Year award to Roy Stover, who has served as a firefighter since 1992 and has been a member of the Cossatot Fire Department since 2013.

De Queen Fire Chief Dennis Pruitt presented the Fireman of the Year Award to James Ruth. Chief Pruitt commended Ruth for taking all the training available as well as always asking where he is needed and what he can do to help. 

The Rotary Club is proud to honor these officers and firefighters for their tireless community service.

Early morning accident on Monday claims life of Ashdown woman       05/07/24

SEVIER COUNTY – Authorities say a single vehicle accident in Sevier County early Monday morning claimed the life of an Ashdown woman.

According to the Arkansas State Police, the accident occurred around 1:50 a.m. on Monday. Incident reports state that 25-year-old Robin Lynn McBride was traveling south on U.S. Highway 71 when her 2015 Nissan left the roadway and collided with a tree. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

McBride was pronounced dead at the scene.

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

Possible tornado in Sevier County Sunday night       05/06/24

Mark Crawford photographed this cloud formation on Provo Road near Lockesburg on Sunday. Sevier County OEM Coordinator Matt Webb described this as a textbook example of a wall cloud, the type often associated with the formation of a tornado. Webb said he has contacted the National Weather Service to confirm the formation of a tornado in Sevier County Sunday night.

SEVIER COUNTY – A possible tornado passed near Red Colony in Sevier County on Sunday, fortunately causing only minor damage and no injuries.

Cloud rotation and the possible formation of a tornado was caught by a Sevier County resident and posted to Facebook. According to Sevier County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Coordinator Matt Webb, the storm – which was not indicated on radar – occurred around 6:55 p.m. on Sunday.

The only reports of damage was to the roof of a home, and that was described as minor. No injuries or loss of life were reported.

Webb said he’s sent videos and a photo of the storm to the National Weather Service in Shreveport, La., for confirmation. He estimates the tornado was a small EF0.

Webb stressed that, given the unexpected appearance of the storm system Sunday evening, local residents should remain weather alert this time of year.

The peak seasons for tornadoes are spring and fall. This is when warm and cold air masses collide most often, but that collision can occur almost any time of the year.

It’s vital to know the difference between a watch and a warning. The National Weather Service issues a Tornado Watch when tornadoes are possible. A Tornado Warning is issued when a tornado has been indicated on radar or has been sighted.

Additional isolated thunderstorms are possible later this afternoon through at least early this evening. While a stray severe storm cannot be ruled out, the best chance for severe thunderstorms exists late tonight, mainly north and west of the I-30 corridor which includes Southeast Oklahoma, far Northeast Texas and portions of Southwest Arkansas.

Additional probabilities of strong to severe thunderstorms will be possible late Wednesday into Thursday and Thursday Night. A cold front will begin pushing into the region from the northwest and strong to severe thunderstorms will be possible along and in advance of this feature. In addition to severe weather chances, locally heavy rainfall will also be likely late Wednesday through late Thursday.

Bret Burgess returning as new Lady Leopards head basketball coach       05/06/24

DE QUEEN – The Lady Leopards basketball program has a new head coach and he’ll be a familiar face to long-time De Queen fans.

During a specially-called meeting last week, the De Queen School Board hired Bret Burgess as the new head coach of the Lady Leopards basketball program. Burgess previously coached at De Queen before leaving to Nashville to work with the Scrapperate’s basketball programs.

Burgess’ leadership helped the senior and junior high basketball programs at Nashville win a number of titles.

“We were here for four years, we won four junior high district championships,” he explained. “Our overall record was 86-5. At senior high, we had a good run. At the senior high, where I assisted, we won the state championship and won a couple of regional championships and won our conference all four years.”

Burgess will replace Lady Leopards Head Basketball Coach Eden Spears, who announced her resignation last month. Burgess said he’s excited to come back to De Queen, the district he said he knows best, and help lead the program in the years to come.

“I’m looking forward to being back, I was with De Queen for 10 years and built a lot of relationships over the years,” said Burgess. “I’m fortunate in that I know most of the kids, which is a different situation for a coach coming in. I did elementary PE all 10 years so I watched these kids grow up. It’s almost like coming home. I’ve always loved coaching there, I loved the people in the community and I’m just eager to get back and get going.”

De Queen Athletic Director Richard Bell has known Burgess for many years and said the girls basketball program will be well-served under his leadership.

“He’s a fun loving guy and a great coach,” said Bell. “He’s passionate, he knows the game well and taught me a lot when I first started coaching basketball. His record speaks for itself. When he was at De Queen, he had 154 wins and only 50 losses. He knows what he’s doing.”

The 2024-25 basketball season is expected to be a good one for De Queen with a wealth of returning talent. The sophomore-heavy girls squad showed a lot of determination this past season and with Burgess’ leadership, Bell predicts the next season will be an exciting one for De Queen’s girls. Bell added that Burgess will also work with local pee-wee programs to help shape the future of De Queen basketball from the ground up.

“I can’t think of a better guy to put with our group of girls,” he said. “I think he can make our returning girls even better. He’s going to get involved with our pee-wee programs and build this up from the ground level. He’s already had his first meeting with the kids, walked the halls and got two girls back who quit previously. He’s already doing all the right things.”

De Queen soccer teams heading to state this week       05/06/24

ARKADELPHIA – The De Queen soccer teams closed out the regular season Friday with victories on the road at Arkadelphia.

The De Queen girls defeated the Lady Badgers 2 to 0 Friday to earn a three seed in this week’s state tournament. The Lady Leopards will battle Farmington in the opening round Thursday at 1:00 at Robinson High School in Little Rock. After an 0 and 5 start to the season, the Lady Leopards rallied to finish the regular season with a record of 11 wins, 7 losses, and 2 ties.

Meanwhile, the red hot Leopards raced to a 5 to 0 halftime lead at Arkadelphia Friday and cruised to a 6 to 0 shutout victory over the  Badgers to win their 17th straight game. The Leopards finished the regular season as the undefeated conference champs with a perfect 14 and 0 league record. As a one seed, the Leopards will begin their quest to defend their state title from a year ago by opening up the state tournament at Robinson High School in Little Rock Thursday at 3:00 against the Berryville Bobcats. 

De Queen Rotarians to present annual Community Service Awards       05/06/24

DE QUEEN – De Queen Rotarians will present their annual Community Service Awards today.

The local club hosts the ceremony each year to recognize the area’s top community leaders as well as first responders.

Last year, James Gilbert, a 16-year veteran of the De Queen Police Department, was honored with the De Queen Police Officer of the Year Award. Gilbert is an instructor for the DQPD and was chosen for the award following a vote by his fellow officers.

Walter Smith was named the De Queen Fire Fighter of the Year. Smith retired in 2022 as a firefighter and as Sevier County OEM coordinator following 40 years as a first responder.

Jeremy Whitley, fire chief of the Gillham Volunteer Fire Department, was presented with the County Firefighter of the Year Award.

Nikki Sharp, a long-time deputy with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, was named the 2023 Sevier County Deputy of the Year. She was praised by Sheriff Robert Gentry for her commitment to the community as a first responder and to Horatio Public Schools, where she serves as a school resource officer.

We’ll bring you more on this story, including the 2024 winners, during our news broadcast Tuesday morning.

De Queen’s Jason Sanders named one of two top superintendents in Arkansas       05/03/24

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders was named one of two Superintendents of the Year by the Arkansas Rural Education Association.

DE QUEEN – The Arkansas Rural Education Association has named a Sevier County superintendent as one of the top two in the state for 2024.

The organization named Jason Sanders, superintendent of De Queen Public Schools, as its 2024 Superintendent of the Year for the southern district of Arkansas. The Arkansas Rural Education Association recognizes two superintendents of the year, one from north and one from south of Interstate 40. The recipient of the north region for 2024 is Dr. Andrea Martin of the Greenland School District.

The candidates are nominated by Educational Service Cooperatives who are AREA members.

In a statement, the Arkansas Rural Education Association said its members are proud of the dedicated superintendents who make up this large community and lead Arkansas rural districts so effectively.

Cinco de Mayo celebrations this weekend in De Queen       05/03/24

DE QUEEN – Cinco de Mayo is Sunday and there’s a couple of big events planned locally this weekend.

That includes over at Samaritan Fields here in De Queen, this Saturday May 4. Esteben Ochoa and Samaritan Fields will present the celebration from 1-10 p.m. with food, a youth soccer tournament, a best taco contest, bounce house, arts and crafts vendors and more. Check out more about the event by checking out the Cinco de Mayo Festival event page on Facebook.

In addition, St. Barbara Catholic Church will host its annual Cinco de Mayo Spring Festival on Sunday, May 5. The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the church in downtown De Queen. Come by for a wide variety of Mexican food as well as traditional dancing, music, kids games and more.

Leopards ends baseball season in third place at regionals       05/03/24

NASHVILLE – The De Queen Leopards saw their baseball season come to an end Thursday in the opening round of the Class 4A South Regional Tournament at Nashville with a 2 to 0 loss to the Warren Lumberjacks.

It was a good pitcher’s dual between De Queen sophomore Logan Petrishen and Warren’s Kolby Pope. Petrishen allowed two runs on three hits. He fanned ten and walked three. Pope went the distance for the Lumberjacks and scattered four hits. Pope was helped out with two Leopards being thrown out on the base paths.

De Queen hitters on the day included Eastan Patrick, Petrishen, Isauro Lopez, and Max Pinkerton all with singles.


The Leopards concluded a great 15 and 7 season that saw them go 9 and 5 in the tough 7-4A Conference, good for a third place finish.

Sevier County Farmer’s Market season underway       05/03/24

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Farmer’s Market held its opening day for the 2024 season this past Wednesday.

The farmers market will be open each Wednesday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon throughout the growing season at Herman Dierks Park in De Queen. New this year, organizers will host a farmers market the first Friday of each month from 4-7 p.m. at the new pavilion in downtown De Queen. That includes the inaugural first Friday tonight, again from 4-7 p.m.

The farmer’s market is currently seeking vendors, speakers and family-friendly entertainment to set up at each event. Basically, if you make it, grow it or bake it, you’re invited to be a vendor. Cost is just $5 per day or $50 for the entire season.

In addition, the farmer’s market will feature a number of monthly themes, including Earth-friendly practices in May. June will focus on local authors and artists while July will be the month of the tomato. August will be kid’s month while September will include education on fall and winter gardening.

For more information on the Sevier County Farmer’s Market, visit the group’s page on Facebook, call (870) 584-3225 or email seviercountyfarmersmarketdq@gmail.com.

42nd annual Sevier County Senior Day is May 31       05/03/24

DE QUEEN – Sevier County is inviting everyone 55 and older to the 42nd annual Senior Citizens Appreciation Day on May 31.

Come by between 9 a.m. and 12 noon as Sevier County celebrates the contributions of our senior citizens with food, prizes, music, health screenings and more.

Registration begins that morning on the lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. The event will include a recognition of Sevier County’s oldest man, woman and military veteran as well as the county’s longest married couple.

This year’s event, themed “Under the Sea,” will include dozens of health screenings, services and vendors specializing in care for senior citizens.

Organizers will also recognize long-time supporters of the event.

Senior Citizens Appreciation Day was founded over four decades ago as a way to honor the local contributions and achievements of Sevier County’s senior citizens.

Again, Sevier County’s 42nd annual Senior Citizens Appreciation Day will be held Friday, May 31.

Horatio Public Schools to conduct mandatory safety drill       05/03/24

HORATIO – Horatio Public Schools is informing the community that the district will conduct an annual mandated emergency drill at an unspecified date and time next week.

The drill will involve local emergency response personnel. Parents/guardians are encouraged to speak with their children in advance and encourage them to follow teachers’ instructions during this drill.

Parents/guardians will also be notified after the drill is completed so that they can have discussions at home with their children about school safety as well as safety plans they may have at their homes.

Nomination period opens for 2024 “Coolest Thing Made in Arkansas” campaign       05/02/24

What’s the coolest thing made in Arkansas?

That’s the question Arkansans are being asked to answer as part of the 2024 “Coolest Thing Made in Arkansas” campaign. Hosted by Arkansas Business – in partnership with the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Entergy and AEDC’s Manufacturing Solutions – the promotion seeks to highlight the state’s manufacturing sector and the vital role it plays on both the national and international scene.

Bonnie Jacoby, Vice President of Sales and Training at Arkansas Business, said the campaign launched last year after a casual conversation she had with Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.

“This program has actually been a few years in the making,” said Jacoby. “[Zook] asked me, ‘What is the coolest thing made in Arkansas?’ As we progressed that conversation, he brought up a program that the Wisconsin State Chamber had done called The Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin. We wanted to mimic that program here in the state with the whole goal to create awareness for the variety of products that are manufactured in Arkansas.”

The 2022 inaugural campaign resulted in 16 finalists in a single-elimination, bracket-style contest. Those products ranged from snack foods to industrial equipment pioneered by Arkansas-based companies like Nabholz and Aerojet Rocketdyne. The winner, however, was a clear choice for the Coolest Thing Made in Arkansas – Lockheed Martin’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS.

The HIMARS is produced in Camden and has received widespread international attention as a critical part of the U.S. assistance package to Ukraine in its defense against the ongoing Russian invasion.

Jacoby said the HIMARS was a bit of a surprise winner of the 2022 competition because many Arkansans  – and even a few Lockheed Martin officials  – had no idea this sophisticated weapons system was produced right here in Arkansas.

“Even within the company, there were people who had no idea it was made in Camden, Arkansas,” said Jacoby. “Most people don’t have the opportunity to know everything that they do, so it was a good opportunity for [Lockheed Martin] to raise awareness.”

Jacoby stressed, however, that Arkansas products don’t have to be as impressive as the HIMARS to become a finalist in the Coolest Thing Made in Arkansas campaign.

“We actually had one of our products last year that made it to the feature four that was up against a popular snack food and actually beat them because they used social media engagement to be able to pull that off,” explained Jacoby.

Last year’s winner was the fluff pulp made by Domtar at its facility in Ashdown. The material is used as raw material in the absorbent core for a wide variety of personal care products. The mill introduced fluff pulp during one of its largest every capital projects and established itself as the third-largest fluff pulp producer in the world.

The campaign’s primary goal is to highlight the products made in Arkansas and the needs they fill not just within the state, but across the nation and globe. Jacoby hopes the effort will encourage Arkansans to be even prouder of the state’s manufacturing sector.

“For the average person who lives in a city, they may know a manufacturing company’s name, but not necessarily understand what they make or its impact, whether it’s on a statewide basis, national basis or even an international basis,” said Jacoby. “So we want to be able to raise awareness not only among business and political leaders but also within that local community so people understand a little bit more about the products that are manufactured here and develop a greater sense of pride for them.”

The nomination period for the 2024 Coolest Thing Made in Arkansas Campaign remains open through May 31. Nominating a product couldn’t be easier – just visit www.coolestthinginarkansas.com and cast your vote. This year’s winner will be announced in October.

What’s the “buzz” about? Well, trillions of cicadas       05/02/24

If you’re wondering what all the recent “buzz” is about, well, it’s time: the 2024 great cicada double brood emergence has begun.

According to reporting from USA Today, Arkansas is one of 17 states expected to get a visit from some of the trillions of cicadas this year, part of a rare, double brood event. The state will entertain Brood XIX cicadas this year, which emerges every 13 years and will be found in more states than the 17-year Brood XIII, although both are expected to emerge in parts of Illinois and Iowa.

They have been underground for the last 13 or 17 years, waiting for the right conditions to emerge, feed, mate and die, when the next generation will then head underground to start the cycle all over again.

Brood XIX cicadas have already been spotted above ground in Arkansas, with many more on the way soon. The insects and their abandoned husks can be found all over – with perhaps many more on the way.

A trip through Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday was met with a constant and deafening roar of these periodical cicadas. But you don’t have to be in a location as remote as a wildlife refuge to hear the pulsing drone of the emerging insects: they can even be heard within the city limits of De Queen despite the din of traffic and other noises.

According to Cicada Mania, the insects begin to emerge when the soil 8 inches underground reaches 64 degrees, and are often triggered by a warm rain.

Emergence dates may vary around the country, but Brood XIX has already been spotted in Arkansas across the Southeast and is expected to emerge more broadly around the eastern U.S. by mid-May.

Arkansas will only see one of the double brood emerging this year: Brood XIX. The brood last emerged in 2011, and after this year, is set to emerge again in 2037.

Besides Arkansas, Brood XIX will also be found this year in the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Brood XIX cicadas have already been spotted a few places in Arkansas, according to Cicada Safari, a cicada tracking app by Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The Cicada Safari app allows users to submit pictures and video of cicadas in their area, which builds an interactive map tracking the species as they emerge this year.

So far, Cicada Safari users have seen Brood XIX in states including Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri.

Broods XIX and XIII last emerged together 221 years ago in 1803, when Thomas Jefferson was president and there were only 17 states in the Union. After this year, they are not expected to emerge again at the same time until 2245.

Motorcycle safety is everyone’s safety       05/02/24

Coinciding with Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, May marks the beginning of riding season for many motorcyclists in America. The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office (AHSO), state and local law enforcement, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) want to remind all motorists that Motorcyclist’s Safety Is Everyone’s Safety. Motorcycle safety is an ongoing responsibility for all road users. By consistently following safe driving and riding practices and sharing the road with others, all motorists can help reduce the number of motorcyclist fatalities.

Each year motorcyclists are overrepresented in traffic crashes. According to NHTSA data, there were 6,218 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2022, which represents 15% of total highway fatalities for that year and a 1% increase from 2021 (6,143). Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists were about 22 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and 4 times more likely to be injured. Two leading contributors to this reality are speeding and alcohol impairment.

For more information on motorcycle safety, visit NHTSA.gov/Motorcycles or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8127, and go to https://www.tzdarkansas.org/ to learn about Arkansas’ Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities.

Leopards competing in 4A state track meet today       04/30/24

Lady Leopards get warmed up for the 4×8 during today’s 4A State Track Meet in Pocahontas. (photo submitted by De Queen Public Schools)

DE QUEEN – De Queen’s track and field teams are in Pocahontas today in hopes of bring home a state championship trophy.

The team left Monday to trek the nearly five hour journey to Pocahontas for this year’s 4A State Track Meet. The Junior High Leopards and Leopards enter the state tournament with back-to-back conference wins. Both senior high teams placed runners-up this year. That sparked some controversy after the Lady Leopards initially earned the conference championship, only to learn a couple of days later that a scoring error had instead resulted in a second-place finish.

We were joined by Leopard Head Track Coach Drew Dykes earlier this week to discuss the season and the disappointing news regarding the conference tournament.

“It came down to the last race and we had to get second place to win the meet,” said Dykes. “And we did. Alexa Monroy came and ran a great 400m, we won the meet and celebrated. That day, in the eighth period, we were getting shirt sizes for the conference championship t-shirts. About four o’clock I got a call from Camden’s coach and I just had a weird feeling. He said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ I said, ‘You’re going to tell me we lost this meet?’ He said, ‘Yeah, we scored the high jump wrong.'”

“But you know the girls understood, we looked back and checked the scores and they were right. We got beat fair and square. We still had a great meet, a really good group and I’m really proud of them.”

Dykes said none of that, however, is discouraging his teams from today’s track and field events. The Leopards qualified 10 boys and 13 girls for the state tournament. Dykes said both teams have some strong competitors.

“We’ll go up and give it our best shot and hope to see some really good performances,” said Dykes. He singled out Randy Rodriguez, Kate Lindsey, Landri Liggon, Alexa Monroy, Eva Billingsley, Emma Chambers, Jaide Tatum, Jayden Valdez, Presli Young and Aubrey Gilmore as top contenders at the state tournament.

De Queen is a top competitor in high school track and field events. Dykes said the future is looking just as strong, especially after a couple of school records were broke by junior high athletes.

“DeNashia Briggins broke two records, one in the 300m hurdles held since 2007 and one in 200m hurdles held since the late 1990’s,” said Dykes. “John Maturino tied the high jump record from 1985 by Otis Powell, six-feet and two-inches. We had some really good performances in junior high and we’re definitely excited for the future.”

Track and field events continue at the state tournament through the evening hours. We’ll weigh in on some of those results tomorrow and in the days ahead. In the meantime, as always from us here at KDQN Studios, good luck and go Leopards!

Benton youth pastor accused of embezzling funds from Bogg Springs church camp       04/30/24

By Shelli Poole/MySaline.com

BENTON – A Saline County youth pastor, school staff member, and church camp treasurer is suspected of embezzling nearly $24,000 from a Polk County church camp, according to documents from the Bryant Police Department.

On March 19, 2024, Bryant officers began to investigate Phillip Batchelor, age 45, of Benton, on allegations of embezzlement. The police report states that the allegations were filed with the Saline County Prosecuting Attorney first. That office forwarded the case to Bryant PD.

Staff at the National Camp at Bogg Springs, a church organization out of Wickes, Arkansas, contends that Batchelor, who was an employee, had been embezzling money from the Camp bank account over the last two years. Batchelor was the camp treasurer who had access to the National Camp bank funds.

Four representatives of National Camp brought the allegations.

The group alleges $23,790.76 was stolen. The investigation notes state that part of the money appears to have been spent in Saline County. Approximately eleven other purchases may or may not have been outside Saline County, according to allegations.


Batchelor is also a para professional at Harmony Grove Junior High School and a youth pastor at Park Place Baptist Church in Bryant. He was arrested by Bryant Police officers on Monday morning. He was booked at the Saline County Jail at 8:15 a.m. and at this time, bond has not been set.

Horatio’s trap teams off to state after regional qualifiers       04/30/24

JACKSONVILLE – Horatio’s two trap teams are advancing to state after a fantastic performance at the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program regional tournament in Jacksonville this past weekend.

The Horatio Senior Trap Team finished an impressive 10th out of 131 teams during the South Region Tournament, held in the AGFF/Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex April 26-27.

Horatio’s Rhett Walker, Konnor Bailey and Aiden Forest placed in the top 40 among a field of over 500 competitors. They’ll go on to compete at the state tournament June 1.

The Horatio Junior Trap Team will be joining its senior counterpart at the state tournament this summer. The team placed eighth out of 115 teams during the South Regional Tournament. Three members of the team placed in the top 50 out of 518 shooters: Grady Seal, Casen Smith and Gage Hodges.

Regional qualifers for the May 31-June 1 state tournament continue through May 18. The top 16 teams from each region in each division advance to fill a 64-team state tournament bracket, which will be contested in Jacksonville May 31-June 1.

They’ve been shooting and practicing since January and February and we’re finally coming into regional tournament time,” Jimmy Self, YSS coordinator for the AGFC and its Recreational Shooting Division, said. “Everybody is coming into their regional tournaments ready to compete and wanting to qualify for state.”

Self said the program has registered nearly 5,500 male and female shooters for 2024 in its 18th season. That number is up about 100 shooters from last year.

Junior shooters during regional tournaments shoot at 25 clay targets, while seniors have 50 shots. A team is made up of five shooters (clubs and schools can enter several teams). A team’s score is made up of all five shooters’ totals. Ties in the team placement are decided by “card-off” of the most shots made by one individual, moving to the next shooter if needed to break the tie. Also, individuals who shoot a perfect qualifying round in junior or senior divisions advance to a Champion of Champions round, held during the state tournament.

In both divisions, the shooters rotate through five stations at a trap stand (the Jacksonville complex has 14 separate shooting areas) and set up 16 yards from the throwing house. The trap-throwing machine sends out clay targets at various isolated patterns. Shooters typically are using 12- or 20-gauge shotguns.

USFS notifies public of effort in Montgomery Co. to remove Ips engraver beetles       04/30/24

MONTGOMERY COUNTY – The Ouachita National Forest will soon be conducting a pine timber salvage operation in Montgomery County due to a localized infestation of Ips engraver beetle.

The infected pine trees are located on 177 acres of Forest Service land north of Lake Ouachita on the Jessieville-Winona-Fourche Ranger District, southeast of the community of Story, Arkansas. The infestation begins on the shores of Lake Ouachita and continues northward. Visitors are advised to proceed with caution along Forest Service Roads 69, 69A, and 69B until salvage operations are completed later this spring.

The USDA Forest Service, along with state and federal partners, including the Arkansas Department of Agriculture – Forestry Division and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are closely monitoring Ips engraver beetle activity. “We are committed to prioritizing treatment where Ips beetles may impact public lands, threaten important habitat for wildlife, or pose a hazard to forest users,” said Michael Crotteau, Integrated Resources Staff Officer for the Ouachita National Forest.

Ips engraver beetles are found living naturally in most Southern pine forests. They are considered a “secondary” pest, attacking pine trees that have undergone a major stress event like drought, disease, storm damage, lightning strikes, wildfire, or competition for resources (overstocked stands). Normally, Ips will attack groups of five to ten pine trees randomly across the forest. Within the last two years, larger and more frequent outbreaks of Ips infestations have occurred. These events may have been triggered by the extreme late summer drought that occurred in 2022.

Symptoms of an Ips beetle infestation usually include discolored crowns, dying and dead branches, sloughing bark, and dead trees. However, there are three species of Ips Engraver beetles, and they infest different areas of the pine tree. One of these species attacks side branches, and generally does not kill the tree. In this instance, tree symptoms may include small emergence holes, pitch tubes on the bark, or sawdust at the base.

Private landowners with pine trees damaged by a suspected Ips bark beetle outbreak are advised to contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture – Forestry Division.

Veteran extension agent named new Ozark District director       04/29/24

GRANNIS – Longtime Cooperative Extension Service agent Sherry Beaty-Sullivan steps into a new role May 1 as the director of the Ozark District, where she will oversee extension staff and programs in 25 counties in the north-central and northwest areas of Arkansas.

Beaty-Sullivan is currently the staff chair for the Polk County extension office. She supervises staff and splits her time between maintaining agricultural programs in livestock, forages and horticulture, as well as community and economic development and 4-H programing in the community and in schools. She and her husband, Scott, own a 1,600-acre ranch with cattle, forages, timber and aggregate in south Polk County in Grannis.

I am excited to have Sherry joining the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service administrative team as Ozark District director,” said John Anderson, director of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service. “Sherry brings years of experience as a county extension agent and staff chair to this position. Over the course of her career, she has worked in all three of the state’s extension districts, developing and delivering agriculture and 4-H programs.”

The Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, has offices in all 75 counties. Sullivan will work alongside directors for the Delta District, which includes 25 counties in eastern Arkansas, and the Ouachita District, which covers 25 counties in southern and southwestern areas of the state.

Beaty-Sullivan will fill a position vacated by Kevin Lawson, who returned to Faulkner County to be an extension agent.

This is a very important role for the organization and a challenging one,” Anderson said. “In the district director role, Sherry will have the opportunity to use her considerable experience to recruit, hire and mentor agents across all Cooperative Extension Service program areas. I have no doubt that she will be up to the challenge, and I am very much looking forward to working with her as she assumes this new role.”

With more than 25 years of experience as an extension agent, Sullivan said she feels ready for her new role.

This has been a longtime goal of mine,” Sullivan said. “My father was an extension agent and then a district director,” she said. “I grew up in this organization. This was something I knew I wanted to do. I’m looking forward to getting to know the district and seeing where and how I can help our agents and staff chairs.”

Deep extension roots

Beaty-Sullivan’s father, Ron Beaty, started his extension career as a livestock agent — first in Craighead County and then in Pulaski County. Beaty-Sullivan grew up showing animals and was involved with Arkansas 4-H, extension’s youth leadership program. Her mother, Judy, was a 4-H volunteer leader.

I was more of a play-in-the-dirt kind of girl, so I went the ag route,” she said.

Beaty-Sullivan has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture extension education and a master’s degree in animal science, both from the University of Arkansas College of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences. She earned a doctorate in agricultural sciences from Mississippi State University in 2022.

Beaty-Sullivan started her extension career working as an intern for the White County extension office. At that time, interns worked alongside agents for up to two years, learning all facets of agriculture, 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences.

You were expected to have a knowledge base of all of those program areas,” she said.

After nine months, Sullivan moved into her first full-time job as an agriculture and 4-H agent in Independence County and then in Howard County. In 2016, she moved into a leadership role as extension staff chair in Little River County extension. She’s been staff chair for Polk County since 2019.

She has been recognized for her accomplishments as an agriculture agent at both the state and national level, and she is one of a relative handful of county agents to achieve the rank of Distinguished Agent.

I had a lot of mentorship when I was coming up in Extension — not only from my dad, but other agents and staff chairs. I’ve worked under some pretty legendary folks and was trained by some of the best.”

She counts among her many mentors Judy Riley, former White County staff chair; Brian Haller, White County agriculture agent; and Jean Ince, Howard County staff chair.

Over $50k awarded at Ashdown Scholarship Tea       04/29/24

By Ronda Pounds

The annual Ashdown Scholarship Tea was held on Sunday, April 21, 2024, at 2 p.m. at Ashdown High School. Seventy-eight scholarships of over $50,190 were given to 37 Ashdown High School Seniors.

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

Last year, we awarded 76 scholarships with a total value of over $49,000. The committee has authorized an alumni fund through which former students of Ashdown High School, businesses, or other individuals may contribute to the program in any amount and at any time. Such contributions may be made in honor or memory of friends and loved ones. Scholarships are tax deductible and may be sent to Ashdown Public Schools, 751 Rankin St., Ashdown, AR 71822. You may attention your correspondence to: Ashdown Scholarship Committee or call 903-826-4434 if you have any questions.

Committee Chairperson Ronda Pounds said, “Each year we are so thankful to be able to award these scholarships through generous donations from alumni, businesses, and our local community. We would like to thank all of the donors for allowing us to continue honoring our deserving seniors from Ashdown High School. We would also like to encourage businesses, as well as individuals to support the scholarship program.”

The following students are listed along with their scholarships received:

Joseph Scott – Archie & Mary Sue Mills Memorial

Caroline Wrinkle – Ashdown Administrators

Luke Barnes – Ashdown Alumni Association

Rylee Youngblood – Ashdown Alumni Association

Zaniya Alexander – Ashdown Alumni Association

Rylie Fyock – Ashdown Alumni Association

Audrey Bishop – Ashdown Alumni Association

Kaylee Walker – Ashdown Alumni Association

Keymond Hemphill – Jo Ann Biggs – Ashdown Alumni Association

Makayla Lawson – Jo Ann Biggs  – Ashdown Alumni Association

Caroline Wrinkle – Jo Ann Biggs  – Ashdown Alumni Association

Kenya Hemphill – Jo Ann Biggs – Ashdown Alumni Association

Connor Cobb – Jo Ann Biggs – Ashdown Alumni Association

Zaniya Alexander – Ashdown Athletic Booster

Keymond Hemphill – Ashdown Band Boosters

Isabella Woolfley – Ashdown Dental Coleman Pearson Memorial

Isabella Woolfley – Ashdown National Honor Society

Alexa Pena – Ashdown Rotary

Rylie Fyock – Ashdown TARGETS

Audrie Lansdell – Becky Day Memorial

Caleb Blankenship – Ben Birtcher Memorial Scholarship

Nash Brown – Ben Birtcher Memorial Scholarship

Luke Barnes – Dr. Brian L.  Matthews Academic Initiative and Merit (AIM) Scholarship

Caleb Blankenship – Bubba Hatridge Memorial

Evelyn Young – Cecil & Beth Bowman Memorial

Rylee Youngblood – Chad Trammell

Gage Vaught – Coca Cola

Gage Vaught – Courtney Jewell Memorial Scholarship

Ella Bowman – Davis Family Scholarship

Aubri Hinton – Diamond Bank

Anna Arnold – Diva Thomas Memorial

Kannon Masters – Domtar

Bannon Price – Eric T. Bishop Attorney at Law

Lexi Neal – Farmer’s Bank

Mikealla Allen – Frances Walraven Memorial

Joseph Scott – Fred Jester Jr. Memorial

Nash Brown – Fred Jester Sr. Memorial

Mikealla Allen – George Branch Memorial

Carson Horn – H & K Electric

Kylie Erwin – Helen and Buddy Parker Memorial

Lexi Neal – Henry Kaufman Memorial

Tyrance Marks – Jackson Title Company

Anna Vanarsdall – Jalen Lewis Memorial

Adisyn Ward – Jean Ann Jeffries Memorial

Makayla Lawson – Jim & Paula Mounts

Bannon Price – Jr. Setliff Memorial

Cazandra Rivas – Judy Lowery Memorial

Braylee Thomas – King Medical Clinic

Miriam Vermeer – Leilana Warren Memorial

Kylie Erwin – Little River County Farm Bureau

Audrey Bishop – Little River County Farm Bureau

Tremell Williams – Little River County Retired Teachers

Carson Horn – Little River Hardwoods

Jayden Murphy – Little River Memorial Hospital

Michala Scarborough – PPMB Alumni in honor of Mark Pounds

Anna Arnold – Matt Harris Memorial

Miriam Vermeer – Matt Harris Memorial

Alexa Pena – Mil-Way in Memory of Kenny Bankosh

Jayden Murphy – Mil-Way in Memory of Matt Harris

Luke Barnes – Paul Hale Memorial Scholarship

Bannon Price – Paul Hale Memorial Scholarship

Aubri Hinton – Phil Pierce Class of 1965 Mem Scholarship

Adisyn Ward – Ralph & Cecile Fuller, Jr

Michala Scarborough – Roger & Von Rose Memorial

Braylee Thomas – Ruby Lee Rosenbaum Memorial

Evelyn Young – Sammy Walker Memorial

Kenya Hemphill – Sharlotte Wright Memorial

Skylar Masters – Sharon Booth McGee Ashdown Alumni Association

Cazandra Rivas – Sherry Gentry Kidd Memorial

Tremell Williams – Shirl & Nancy McCoy

Connor Cobb – TDS

Anna Vanarsdall – Thomas Fomby Class of 1965

Audrie Lansdell – Vestco

Tyrance Marks – Wesley Strange Memorial

Kaylee Walker – William & LaVerne Coker Memorial

Ella Bowman – William L. & Mary E. Welch Memorial

Two from Ashdown arrested in connection to Nashville shooting       04/26/24

NASHVILLE – Two suspects have been arrested in connection to a shooting in Nashville last night.

According to the Nashville Police Department, 18-year-old Malik French of Ashdown is one of two suspects now in custody following the shooting incident Thursday night. Authorities have not released the name of the second suspect, but identified him as a 15-year-old juvenile also from Ashdown.

The shooting occurred around 7 p.m. at the intersection of Parker and Ansley Street in Nashville, according to a press release. The suspects reportedly fired multiple rounds during the incident, injuring one person.

The victim was transported by a personal vehicle to Howard Memorial Hospital.

Agencies that responded to the incident include the Nashville Police Department, Howard County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police and the South Central Drug Task Force.

Franklin Co. accident claims life of Horatio man       04/26/24

OZARK – A two-vehicle accident Thursday morning in Franklin County claimed the lives of a Horatio man and two other people, according to reporting.

The accident occurred around 6:30 a.m. on April 25 on I-40 near the City of Ozark in Franklin County. According to the Arkansas State Police, 30-year-old Ethan Pelts of Clarksville was heading west on I-40 in his 2018 GMC Terrain when he lost control and collided with a guardrail on the Philpot Road overpass. The vehicle came to a rest and was then struck by a semi-truck also traveling westbound on I-40.

Pelts was killed in the accident along with two others: 29-year-old Austin Lofland of Horatio and 48-year-old Michael Wagley of Clarksville. Both Lofland and Wagley were listed as passengers of Pelts’ vehicle. All three were pronounced deceased ast the scene.

The investigating state trooper noted that it was raining at the time of the accident.

National Weather Service predicting possibility of severe weather this weekend       04/26/24

DE QUEEN – The National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook ahead of some possible severe weather in the coming days.

Forecasters expect severe weather chances to return to the region today and continue into the weekend. Impacted areas include Southwest Arkansas, Southeast Oklahoma and Northeast Texas.

All modes of severe weather will be possible, along with a threat of flash flooding resulting from heavy rainfall.

Severe weather chances will likely linger through the weekend. The greatest chance for widespread severe weather will be Sunday, with all modes of severe weather being possible. Additionally, three to five inches of rainfall will be possible through the middle of the new workweek. That, say forecasters, could result in additional flooding and flash flooding given recent rainfall.

ASP graduates 18 troopers, three for local Troop G       04/26/24

LITTLE ROCK – Eighteen recruits became Arkansas State Troopers tonight during a graduation ceremony in the rotunda of the State Capitol.

After being tested and interviewed, this class of new Troopers was chosen from a pool of 230 applicants. They began their training program on February 18, 2024, at the State Police Training Academy in Little Rock. During the 10-week program, the recruits underwent a comprehensive and challenging curriculum designed to prepare them for the realities of being an Arkansas State Trooper. The program included approximately 710 hours of specialized instruction and practical training including criminal law, traffic control, accident investigation, firearms training, and defensive tactics.

The graduates were sworn under oath as Arkansas State Troopers by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as the keynote speaker. Colonel Mike Hagar, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety, Major Roby Rhoads, Sergeant Chad Staley and Corporal Keon Thompson addressed the class during the ceremony. ASP senior command staff, troop and company commanders, the training section cadre, ASP Commissioners, and ASP Foundation members were among the audience.

Three graduates have been assigned to Troop G, which serves Sevier, Little River, Howard, Hempstead, Miller, Lafayette, Nevada and Columbia counties:

Troop G
Diondre Fuller, Little Rock
Micah Miller, Texarkana, TX
Chance Swafford, Texarkana

The new Troopers will be placed with a certified departmental Field Training Officer (FTO) upon reporting for duty at their respective troop headquarters. Each graduate will work in tandem with their respective FTO for a transitional period before being released to their assignment.

De Queen falls to Magnolia in season baseball closer       04/26/24

MAGNOLIA – The De Queen Leopards closed out the regular season on the road at Magnolia Thursday and fell to the Panthers 9 to 0 in baseball  action as heard live on your #1 Country 92.1. 

The Leopards had lots of opportunities. Magnolia pitching walked 11 hitters. However, the Leopards just couldn’t get a timely hit to take advantage as De Queen stranded 13 runners on base for the afternoon. 

Isauro Lopez, our McDonalds Player of the Game, had a double and single. Max Pinkerton added a single. Sam Graham pitched the first four innings and was charged with the loss. Pinkerton came on in relief to pitch the final two innings. 

Despite the loss, De Queen’s baseball team earned a three seed in next week’s regional tournament at Nashville. The Leopards, who finished the regular season with a 14 and 6 overall record and 9 and 5 in conference play, will open up Regionals action on Thursday.

Meanwhile on the softball diamond Thursday, the Lady Leopards registered one of their most impressive wins of the season in their final contest of the year with a 12 to 8 victory over the Magnolia girls.

This weekend’s Lions Club Youth Fishing Derby reset for May 11       04/26/24

DE QUEEN LAKE – The De Queen Lions Club has rescheduled its annual Youth Fishing Derby from this Saturday, April 27 to Saturday, May 11.

The derby is being organized for local youth aged 15-years-old and younger. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. at the De Queen Lake Spillway. Fishing starts at 9 a.m. and will end at 11 a.m.

There is a limit of one fishing pole per youth. Youth must be accompanied by an adult. The first 100 contestants registered will receive a t-shirt, if sizes are available. There is no fishing license or cost required for this event. In addition, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will provide catfish for the derby.

Benefit next weekend for “Cowboy” Burnett       04/26/24

HORATIO – A fundraiser will be next month for a local man to help him cover expenses related to his treatment for cancer.

The benefit will be held May 4 to support Chad “Cowboy” Burnett. Organizers will host bingo, a cakewalk and concessions beginning at 5 p.m. in the Horatio Elementary School Cafeteria. Proceeds will go towards Burnett’s medical expenses.

For more information, call Fredia Lofland at (870) 542-4818, Alice Stevens at (870) 582-2312 or Freddie Stevens at (870) 542-4441.

CRHS Choir to host Disney performance May 2       04/26/24

WICKES – The Cossatot River High School Choral Dept will present their spring concert, Disney Spectacular, on Thursday, May 2 in the Holbert Auditorium in Wickes.

The concert will begin at 7 p.m. with the 7th/8th grade Eagle Choirs. Following will be the combined Sr. High Choirs made up of students in choirs One Voice, Cantabile, and Noteworthy.

End of the year choir awards will be given and senior choir members will be recognized. The Rachel Norman Memorial Choir Scholarship recipient will also be announced and awarded.

2024 Choir Seniors are Johana Gutierrez, Landrey Richardson, Nathalia Trinidad, Jesse Dosch, Ashton Miller, Monse Salgado, Kody Bailey, Clifton Ragan, Ella Engelke, Lyniya Treadway, and Emanuel Trinidad.

Cossatot River Sr. High Choirs are under the direction of Susan Brewer.  Jr. High Eagle Choirs are under the direction of Susan Brewer and Jacob Talamantez.

Come out May 2 to hear outstanding performances of hits of the best Disney movies through the years.

Marc Rosson announces bid for District 87 State Rep       04/26/24

Marc Rosson has announced he will challenge incumbent District 87 State Representative DeAnn Vaught in this November’s General Election. He is running as an Independent.

GILLHAM – Marc Rosson has announced his intention to seek election as an Independent to the District 87 seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives. The office is currently held by incumbent DeAnn Vaught. The following is his announcement:

Marc Rosson, the former Gillham Fire Chief, community volunteer and businessman from Gillham has announced he is running for State Representative in the District 87 which takes in Little River County, Sevier County and the Dierks area in Howard County.  Marc Rosson has had many accomplishments and leadership experience much of which has been reported in the local news papers and radio stations. 

Marc is a Christian and speaks at the Mauney Street Church of Christ in Murfreesboro a couple times a month and works with that congregation to bring people to Christ. He also attends other congregations and works with other congregations and with kids. Marc grew up in the Gillham area and went to DeQueen school.  Marc has been married almost 25 years to his teenage sweetheart Dianne, who grew up in Dierks and graduated there.  Both Marc and Dianne Graduated UA Cossatot Dianne also graduated Henderson with a masters in Special ED.  They have 4 great kids and been foster parents as well. 

Marc is a contractor for the USPS he delivered mail in the Gillham area for over 14 years.  Marc is a former IUOE member and employee and a heavy equipment operator by trade.  In the early 2000’s marc started investing in real estate primarily buying properties that had been on the market for long periods of time and turned them into profitable properties.  They now own several hundred acres, many houses, commercial and industrial properties and recreational properties.  He has been investing in Sevier County and Little River County for many years.  Marc has worked in the community as a volunteer for many years as has his wife they taught their kids the importance of helping others.

Marc spent 3 years on the Mena Polk County Board of Directors.  Marc taught a class to inmates that was intended to help them with money matters when they were released.  Marc works with people that have been in trouble and those who haven’t, to help them find financial and Godly ways to make their lives better.  Marc was a firefighter/first responder for 8 years and fire chief for 5 of that.  He built up the Gillham department to the point they had good equipment, good trucks, new equipment, new turnouts, plenty of oxygen for fires and enough water to fight a fire.  While he was chief he worked and got the Fire ratings lowered which lowered home owners insurance. They had some of the newest lifesaving equipment in the county.  He started a kids day program teaching kids and parents how to prevent a fire and how to escape one and it was open to everyone. 

Marc became a level 1 instructor through the fire academy and a BLS instructor through the fire academy. He worked with law enforcement and appreciates their work.   Marc said a real leader leads and his actions shows his leadership. Being able to get that much done in 5 year and raising over $100,000 in private and public grants is not possible without being a leader and a worker.  I would never send anyone in a fire I would not go in first.  Marc still raises cattle.   Like most Arkansans Marc wants to live free and in peace but the over taxation is a burden on everyone.

Marc is Pro-God, Pro-family, Pro-Life, 100% Pro-2nd Amendment and very conservative but realistic.  Marc did not plan or want to run again but the votes like the one this past September by the current representative which took away some of our rights persuaded him that she needed an opponent. If elected Marc says he will work for the people in district 87 and not corporations and lobbyist.  He will work to get taxes lowered.  He will work to completely end the grocery tax and get the agriculture exemptions more along the line of the Oklahoma exemptions.  He will defend peoples rights and will not vote for a bill that will take rights from the people. He will work to get the eviction process cleaned up and along the line it is in Texas.

Where people that wont pay rent or break contract will be gone in a month or less.  He will also vote yes or no so you will know what he is standing for.  People in the district will also be able to contact him any time they will also be able to help review bills before votes and give their opinion on how they would affect Arkansans. 

Marc said he will not go to Little Rock to make friends he will go there to work get the job done and come home. He said if elected he will not post articles written by others about what’s supposedly going on at the capitol, then pass it off as his writing.

Marc Rosson asks for your vote in November.

Regional qualifers begin today for AYSSP tournament       04/26/24

JACKSONVILLE — Qualifying for 64-team state tournaments in both senior and junior divisions in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Youth Shooting Sports championships begins this week with the first of four regional tournaments at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation/Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex on Graham Road.

Junior age trap shooters (grades 5-8) from the South Region will compete beginning at 9 a.m. Friday. Senior division shooters (grades 9-12) compete Saturday starting at 9 a.m.

Regional tournaments will be conducted at the complex the following three weekends: East Region, May 3-4; North Region, May 10-11; and West Region, May 17-18. Each day’s competition begins at 9 a.m. The top 16 teams from each region in each division advance to fill a 64-team state tournament bracket, which will be contested here May 31-June 1.

They’ve been shooting and practicing since January and February and we’re finally coming into regional tournament time,” Jimmy Self, YSS coordinator for the AGFC and its Recreational Shooting Division, said. “Everybody is coming into their regional tournaments ready to compete and wanting to qualify for state.”

Self said the program has registered nearly 5,500 male and female shooters for 2024 in its 18th season. That number is up about 100 shooters from last year. Each regional draws dozens of teams; Saturday’s action typically will run as late as 3:30 p.m. during regional competition with so many teams trying to qualify for the top 16.

Junior shooters during regional tournaments shoot at 25 clay targets, while seniors have 50 shots. A team is made up of five shooters (clubs and schools can enter several teams). A team’s score is made up of all five shooters’ totals. Ties in the team placement are decided by “card-off” of the most shots made by one individual, moving to the next shooter if needed to break the tie. Also, individuals who shoot a perfect qualifying round in junior or senior divisions advance to a Champion of Champions round, held during the state tournament.

In both divisions, the shooters rotate through five stations at a trap stand (the Jacksonville complex has 14 separate shooting areas) and set up 16 yards from the throwing house. The trap-throwing machine sends out clay targets at various isolated patterns. Shooters typically are using 12- or 20-gauge shotguns.

All teams in the state were eligible for their particular region if they got in five practices since J January.


For the parents, families and spectators, as well as shooters who have completed their turns, the complex will have a fishing station set up at a pond on the east end of the complex, as well as a nearby archery setup. “We’ll try to add a few more things for state,” Self said. Concession vendors will also be on hand. The city of Jacksonville is in charge of selling merchandise such as T-shirts. There is no admission charge.

This is our first tournament since the new (Recreational Shooting) division was created at the AGFC,” Self noted. Previously, shooting sports fell under the purview of the AGFC’s Education Division. Recreational Shooting Sports is led by new chief Jose Jimenez.

The Game and Fish is standing behind recreational shooting enough to put it inside its own division,” Self said. “We have a new chief, he’s only a month and a half in, and we have goals and we’re working to create more recreational shooting disciplines. We’re looking at partnerships with new ranges around the state.”


Self also serves as the central Arkansas director of the Arkansas State Trap Shooting Federation. He sees how much impact the AGFC’s YSS program has on building recreational shooters of all ages.

We have colleges shooting all the time now. You can shoot this sport at any age, there are a lot of (styles) to shoot out there,” he said. “You can shoot in those tournaments in any age bracket. We see, as they move on, we’re retaining those shooters at older ages now.

YSS is a beginner program, that’s where they first can travel and get into recreational shooting. We have all-Americans who have participated in the program, an Olympian (Kayle Browning) who participated in the program, kids who have come through our program and have made it their careers.”

This Saturday is Arkansas Drug Take Back Day       04/24/24

DE QUEEN – Local and state law enforcement agencies are teaming up this weekend to encourage Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets in an effort to make their homes and communities safer. These agencies are organizing more than 300 drop-off locations throughout Arkansas for this year’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

The annual effort will be held this Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations across the state. At these events Arkansans are encouraged to bring any unused or expired medications and drop them off, no questions asked.

Drop off points will include Walmart in De Queen and Ashdown, as well as the Howard County Sheriff’s Office in Nashville. Pike County will have collection sites open at the Pike County Sheriff’s Office in Murfreesboro and at Glenwood City Hall.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office also maintains a year-round collection site at its location on Robinson Road.

State health experts say that cleaning out medicine cabinets and turning the expired, unused medications over to law enforcement during a Drug Take Back event can go a long ways towards saving lives. Overdoses are on the rise and the figures have been staggering, especially during the pandemic. Law enforcement agencies say it’s more important than ever to properly dispose of these prescription drugs.

Other events and more information on Drug Take Back Day in Arkansas can be found at ARTakeBack.org. Since the program began, nearly 290 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas.

2024 Graduation ceremonies coming up at local schools      04/24/24

DE QUEEN – Area schools will host their graduation ceremonies in the coming weeks to say farewell to this year’s senior class.

The graduation ceremony for the 2024 Class of De Queen High School will be held Monday, May 13 at 8 p.m. at Leopard Stadium.

The commencement ceremony for the Cossatot River High School Class of 2024 will be held May 13 beginning at Stevenson Gymnasium on the high school campus.

Dierks High School will send off its 2024 graduating seniors on Tuesday, May 14 at the J.L. Johnson Gymnasium.

Horatio High School will say “farewell” to the Class of 2024 during a graduation ceremony scheduled for Thursday, May 16 at the Horatio Football Field.

Ashdown High School will host its graduation for the 2024 Class on Thursday, May 16 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Dick Hayes Stadium.

Legacy Academy in Lockesburg will honor its seniors at a commencement ceremony scheduled for Friday, May 17 at the Legacy Academy Gymnasium.

Foreman’s graduation is Thursday, May 23 at Memorial Stadium.

Lane closures announced on Hwy 71 north of Ashdown      04/24/24

ASHDOWN – Alternating northbound and southbound lane closures are scheduled on Highway 71 north of Ashdown, between Highway 108 and the Little River, Thursday, April 25 through Saturday, April 28.

Weather permitting, crews will conduct milling and asphalt paving operations daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Traffic will be controlled with the use of barrels and signage.

Drivers are urged to use caution while traveling in the area.

Additional travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov.   

Summer EBT application process now open in Arkansas      04/24/24

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) announced on April 22 that the state of Arkansas has formally launched the application process for the new Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program.

The new grocery benefits program provides families $120 for each eligible school-aged child to buy groceries when school is out for the summer break.

Many eligible families will get these benefits automatically, but some parents will need to apply. Children are automatically eligible and don’t need to apply if their household participates in SNAP or TEA, or if they individually applied for and were approved for free meals through the National School Lunch Program.

 

The new program is in addition to free meals that kids of all ages can get at summer meal sites in their communities.

The $120 benefit will be provided on pre-loaded EBT cards similar to ones used for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These cards, which will be sent separately to each eligible child in a family, can be used by families to purchase groceries. The cards are expected to be mailed out by the beginning of July.

For more information about Summer EBT and to find out if you automatically qualify or need to apply, visit ar.gov/SummerEBT.

De Queen Public Schools to host Home School meeting       04/24/24

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School District will host a Home School Meeting May 7 from 3-3:45 p.m.

The meeting will be held via Zoom. Those interested in participating can use the following links to join the session:

Join Zoom Meeting
us04web.zoom.us/j/79239208895?pw…
ID: 79239208895
passcode: bLC8z3

Joining instructions

Meeting host: bsharp@dequeenleopards.org

Join Zoom Meeting:
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/79239208895?pwd=pW7FlOynQvlmDBNUOEaaHEk7FQCHzw.1

Education Dept issues “transformation contracts” for troubled Arkansas schools       04/22/24

The Arkansas Education Department has written new rules for troubled schools to enter “transformation contracts” with outside entities, such as charter school operators.

The Department will accept public comments until May 15 on the eight pages of proposed rules. It will implement a provision in the LEARNS Act that was passed by the legislature last year. The act was the centerpiece of the governor’s legislative agenda.

An Education Department official said that transformation contracts offer a dramatic way to improve districts that are in academic distress.

Schools are eligible to enter the contracts if they have a D or an F rating or if they are classified as needing Level 5 intensive support by the Board of Education.

Area schools graded “D” include Hope Elementary School, Junior High and High School. Ashdown Junior High School, Fouke Elementary School and several Texarkana schools are also listed as “D” schools. No schools in the area are “F” rated. The Education Department maintains the full list here.

A strong incentive to enter transformation contracts is that for two years after the contract is signed, the state will not impose any sanctions or take any actions against the school for failing to satisfy academic performance standards.

The proposed rules allow the state to provide financial incentives to support the transformation campus, but the proposals do not specify any details about those incentives.

Under the proposed rules, any property owned by a school district when the contract is signed shall remain in the school’s possession.

The organization that contracts to take over most of the school’s administration is referred to as the transformation campus operator. Their intent must be to return management to the school after “accelerated, meaningful, and sustainable increases in student achievement have been achieved.”

One school district in the state is already being operated under a transformation contract that was signed soon after the LEARNS Act took effect last year. It is the Marvell-Elaine School District in east Arkansas, which is under state control.

Under the three-year transformation contract signed last year, Marvell-Elaine schools are being operated by the Friendship Education Foundation that sponsors open-enrollment charter schools in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pine Bluff.

The proposed rules would allow school districts that are not under state control to enter transformation contracts. If the district falls under state control during contract period, the contract would become void on the date the state takes over control.

Community Service Requirement

Another provision in the LEARNS Act will require high school students to perform 75 hours of community service in order to graduate. The first seniors who will have to comply will be the class of 2027, who are now in ninth grade.

This class has about 39,000 students, so they will contribute almost three million hours of community service in Arkansas over the next four years.

The Education Department has written four pages of proposed rules to implement the community service provisions and will take public comments until April 24.

Local school boards may grant a waiver to a graduating student for extenuating circumstances, on a case-by-case basis. For example, waivers may be granted to students who are medically fragile, or students going through a serious illness or who has a family member who is seriously ill.

Also, students with jobs who contribute significantly to the family’s income may get a waiver.

ASP earns awards for 2023 drug interdiction efforts       04/22/24

BILOXI, Miss. – Arkansas State Police’s Interstate Criminal Patrol (ICP) once again dominated the annual Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area awards held last week in Biloxi, Miss., winning three individual awards, Team of the Year and Officer of the Year.

ASP’s outstanding performance in 2023 was recognized for collectively seizing illegal drugs with a total street value of $27.7 million,  45 vehicles, and $1.26 million in currency.

Trooper Ana Escamilla was recognized as 2023 Officer of the Year for 28 drug seizures, with a total street value of $5,678,326 and 7 currency seizures, totaling $610,755.

Individual winners:
— Sergeant Derek Nietert, largest marijuana seizure, 939 pounds
— Trooper Cody Martin, largest cocaine seizure, 145 pounds
— Trooper Escamilla, largest “other dangerous drugs” seizure, 420 bottles of Promethazine (street value $100,800)

During 2023, ASP seized over 10,386 pounds of marijuana, 353 pounds of cocaine, 56 pounds of methamphetamine, 46 pounds of fentanyl and 21 illegal weapons.

Seized drugs are sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for analysis and then stored during prosecution. After cases are adjudicated, the drugs are transported to an incinerator for disposal. Seized weapons are destroyed, later used by law enforcement, or sold at public auction.


Seized cash that is determined to be forfeited goes to prosecuting attorney in the jurisdiction where it was initially seized. Prosecuting attorneys decide how the money is distributed.

Leopards, Lady Leopards victorious over visiting Cardinals       04/22/24

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Leopards ran their winning streak to six games Friday with a big 7 to 3 Conference win over visiting Camden Fairview as heard live on your #1 Country 92.1.

The Leopards trailed 3 to 1 after the third inning, but took the lead for good with a three-run fourth. The Leopards added one in the fifth and two in the sixth to pull away for the victory.

The Leopards pounded out 12 hits on the day. Isauro Lopez had a double and a single. Eastan Patrick, Konnor Shelton, and Rowan Sanchez had two singles each. Sam Graham, Logan Petrishen, Max Pinkerton, and Jaylon Boyles added a single each.

Meanwhile, the sensational sophomore pitching tandem of Konnor Shelton and Logan Petrishen came up big. Shelton worked the first four innings to earn the victory. Petrishen, our McDonalds Player of the Game, pitched the final three innings and slammed the door shut on the Cardinals to earn the save. Petrishen allowed no runs on only one hit. He fanned four and walked only one.

The Leopards are now 8 and 4 in conference play, tied with Magnolia and Ashdown for second place in the standings. The top four teams advance to the Regional Tournament. It sets up a big game Monday at 5:00 as Ashdown comes to De Queen. The Dugout Show with Greg Revels and Jay Bunyard goes on the air at around 4:45 on your #1 Country 92.1.

Lady Leopards Softball defeats Camden Fairview Lady Cardinals

Meanwhile on the adjacent softball diamond behind De Queen High School Friday, the Lady Leopards defeated the Camden Fairview Lady Cardinals 6 to 4 behind the pitching of Perry Nickerson.

With the victory, the Lady Leopards improved to 6 and 6 in the 7-4A Conference standings. That’s good for fifth place. However, only the top four teams will advance to the Regional Tournament in Nashville May 2-4. The De Queen girls trail Magnolia, who is 7 and 4 in the league, by two games in the loss column with only two games left to play. So, the Lady Leopards will need to win their last two and hope for some help elsewhere in other league action as their postseason hopes are fading.

Ashdown triumphs over visiting Malvern       04/22/24

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown Lady Panthers played host to the first place Malvern Lady Leopards in a 7-4A conference matchup. The Ashdown girls came away with a 5 to 1 victory.

The Panthers scored one in the first, two in the 4th, and two in the 6th highlighted by two hits and two RBI’s from Maddie Troup, two hits and an RBI from Jala Richard and two runs scored by Kylie Erwin.

Maddie Troup held the powerful hitting Leopards to five hits and only one run. Jala Richard made three fantastic defensive plays in center field.

The Panthers improved to 9 and 3 in conference play and will travel to De Queen on Monday at 4:30. The game will be broadcast live on 102.1 the Good Path with the pre game show beginning at 4:15.

Local pastor to walk across LRCO for annual fundraiser     04/19/24

ASHDOWN – A local pastor is preparing to walk across Little River County this weekend as part of his annual effort to raise money for a host of charitable causes in Southwest Arkansas.

Jim Cross will participate in the Impact 2024 Walking for Christ this Saturday, April 20. Cross – who pastors Ashdown, Richmond and Wade’s Chapel United Methodist Churches in Little River County – will embark on his 12th consecutive 30-mile hike across the county to help raise funds for a number of causes. Cross may also be familiar to many as his role as the “Voice of the Panthers” in covering Ashdown High School sports. In the past 11 years, Cross has helped raise a tremendous amount of money for those causes.

“We’ve been doing this for 11 years,” said Cross. “We walk 30 miles raising money for different groups and organizations. We’ve raised nearly $270,000 in those 11 years. It’s been unbelievable.”

Each year Cross walks 30 miles through Little River County as part of his effort to raise money for those in need.

“It’ll be 30 miles and it takes about 10, 10 and a half hours. I start at 6 a.m. and end around 4:15 or 4:30 – hopefully closer to 4:15,” laughed Cross.

As in previous years, Impact 2024 will include a celebration at Ashdown United Methodist Church with bingo, live music, food and activities for the whole family.

Money raised during past events have helped pay for shoes for children in Little River County. Other charitable causes funded through the event include the Be Like CJ Foundation, Ashdown Public Library, Richmond Volunteer Fire Department, Harvest Regional Food Bank, Marlee’s Smile, Ashdown City Parks and scholarship programs for local youth. It’s an effort, said Cross, that serves as a testament to the community involvement and charitable spirit demonstrated by the folks in Little River County.

“It sure is,” said Cross. “We get a lot of support from people. A lot of that support from people out of town, out of the county. It really is amazing.”

While Cross will be doing the walking, others in Southwest Arkansas are invited to help the effort by either providing a donation or by coming by this Saturday to join in the fun.

“There’s two different ways you can help,” said Cross. “You can send a check to the Ashdown United Methodist Church at 145 E. Commerce Street, Ashdown, Arkansas 71822. Or better yet you can come to the event on the 20th and have a good time with us. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we’d love to see you.”

Again, expect to see Cross walking across Little River County on Saturday, April 20 and make sure to honk if you see him or give him a word of thanks – and a bottle of water – when you see him during the Impact 2024 event that day.

Wear Blue this Friday in support of Child Abuse Prevention Month     04/18/24

DE QUEEN – Local organizations are encouraging everyone to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month by painting Sevier County Blue this Friday, April 19.

Organizers are asking the public to help the Sever County Department of Child and Family Services, the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division and CASA of the Ouachita Region spread awareness by decorating the outside of their business with the color blue and by participating in Wear Blue Day this Friday, April 19.

Organizers are sharing a few statistics and figures regarding child abuse:

-There are currently 24 Sevier County children in foster carefree

-Only 10 percent of abused children ever tell anyone

-One in three child victims will eventually victimize someone else

-95 percent of child abuse victims know their perpetrator

-Child abuse is growing at 10 times the rate of cancer

For more information and on ideas on how to help, call (870) 518-6041.

Gun raffle fundraiser for Doug Ruth of DQVFD     04/18/24

DE QUEEN – Members of the De Queen Fire Department are rallying around one of their own to help him cover medical expenses.

De Queen firefighters and first responders are hosting a benefit gun raffle fundraiser for Doug Ruth. Ruth, a longtime and dedicated member of the De Queen Fire Department, has suffered from a medical emergency and has been hospitalized on multiple occasions over the past few months.

Firefighters hope this fundraiser will ease some of his ongoing medical expenses. All proceeds will go to Ruth and all contributions are greatly appreciated.

The winner of the raffle will receive a Rossi Model RS .22LR in a desert tan finish. Cost if $5 per ticket or $20 for five.

To purchase a ticket, get with any De Queen firefighter or call (870) 584-9241. The drawing will be held at a later date to be announced.

Arkansas Ag restricts cattle imports into state after bird flu detected      04/18/24

As of April 15, USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service reported confirmed cases of HPAI in cattle in eight states, including Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina. All of the reported cases have been in dairy milking cattle. (Image courtesy USDA.)

LITTLE ROCK — As highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, is detected in cattle in a growing number of states, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture has issued an order restricting livestock exhibiting symptoms or testing positive for the virus from entering the state.

Dustan Clark, extension poultry health veterinarian for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said Arkansas has seen no reports of cattle infected with the virus within its borders. Additionally, there have been no reports of bird flu in Arkansas commercial poultry production facilities or backyard “hobby flocks” since December 2023.

So far, we’re doing quite well,” Clark said. “I won’t say we’re safe. We need everyone to maintain good biosecurity practices.”

Clark is also the associate director of the Division of Agriculture’s Poultry Center.

Per an April 5 letter from Arkansas State Veterinarian John Nilz:

  • No dairy cattle exhibiting symptoms of or testing positive for HPAI shall be allowed to move into Arkansas.
  • No dairy cattle from states with impacted herds shall be allowed to move into Arkansas.
  • Livestock moving into Arkansas found to be in non-compliance with this order shall be quarantined to the nearest facility until all requirements are met on said animals to meet specifications.

This is still an unfolding issue,” Clark said. As of April 15, USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service reported confirmed cases of HPAI in cattle in eight states, including Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina. All of the reported cases have been in dairy milking cattle.

Clark said that since February 2022, more than 90 million birds in the United States have been affected by the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

It’s been detected in about 480 commercial flocks and 645 hobby flocks,” Clark said.

According to an April 16 U.S. Department of Agriculture report, more than 8.5 million birds had been affected within the previous 30 days. While HPAI has been detected in 48 states over the last two years, it has only been reported in eight states — Michigan, Florida, New Mexico, Minnesota, Kansas, Texas, North Carolina and Maine — during that 30-day period.

Two of the largest of those were table egg flocks in Michigan,” Clark said. “One with more than 2 million birds, the other slightly less than 2 million birds. Then there was a commercial table egg flock in Texas that was more than 1.8 million birds. Those were the biggest in the last 30 days.”

Clark said that while USDA and the state veterinarian outlined clear biosecurity guidelines for

the transportation of poultry for both commercial producers and backyard hobbyists, one factor that can’t be controlled is the presence of wild birds.

Don’t expose your hobby flock birds to wild waterfowl,” Clark said. “Keep them penned up at this point in time, while the migration is still going on. Don’t let them range and keep them away from water sources that may have had wild waterfowl on them, such as a pond.

If you go somewhere such as a park and there’s a pond there, stay away from it,” he said. “When you go home, clean and disinfect your shoes and change clothes before you visit your own poultry.”

Many public resources are available to help individuals establish good biosecurity measures and assess the possibility of an infected herd or flock, including the USDA’s HPAI biosecurity factsheet, the Division of Agriculture’s biosecurity resources page and the Arkansas Department of Health’s HPAI page. Individuals who think they may have an infected bird should consult their veterinarian or call the Arkansas Department of Agriculture at  501-823-1746.

McCastlain, two DQTV students invited to ceremony at White House     04/16/24

Members of the DQTV program at De Queen High School along with instructor Beau McCastlain are pictured at the Student Television Network’s National Convention held in Long Beach, Cali., last month. McCastlain, along with DQTV students Ashley McCullough and Dayanti Villeda, have been invited to a recognition ceremony at the White House next month. McCastlain will be recognized as the 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year as well. Teachers of the Year from other states, along with the National Teacher of the Year recipient, will also be in attendance.

DE QUEEN – Arkansas’ teacher of the year along with two De Queen students will be heading to Washington, D.C. to represent the state and receive recognition at an official White House Ceremony.

Beau McCastlain, communications director for De Queen Public Schools and DQTV instructor, is invited to the White House on May 2 for a dinner in honor of the 2024 National and State Teachers of the Year. He was invited to choose two De Queen High School students to attend alongside him. The two traveling to the Capitol next month are both instrumental members of the high school’s award-winning DQTV television production program: Ashley McCullough and Dayanti Villeda.

McCastlain announced the invitation and opportunities for his students during Monday’s meeting of the De Queen School Board. He said the trip will be an amazing educational experience for McCullough and Villeda, who will have the opportunity to embed with the White House Press Corps during their visit.

“There’s really no words from me that can describe how special this is,” he said. “So many great opportunities have come my way over this past year, but that all goes back to the district, the students and all the support we get. The White House has also reached out to me and asked if I could bring two students with me. They’re actually going to embed these students with the White House Press Corps to cover the event. It’s an amazing opportunity, most importantly, it’s just an unbelievable educational opportunity for my two students, Ashley McCullough and Dayanti Villeda. They have been the backbone of all the success we’ve had over the past three years.”

McCastlain was announced last year as the 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year. He was presented the award during a surprise visit by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders as well as other state and local officials. His term as Arkansas Teacher of the Year officially begins this summer and will include a number of speaking and touring opportunities across the state and nation.

Villeda and McCullough have been instrumental student leaders within the high school’s DQTV television production program. Both recently returned from a trip to Long Beach California where DQTV competed against similar programs from across the nation in the Student Television Network’s National Convention. DQTV was recognized with several top awards highlighting innovative high school television production programs.

Presli Young named recipient of 2024 Crystal Award by Rotary Club     04/16/24

Presli Young is pictured by Tammy Huddleston of the De Queen Rotary Club.

DE QUEEN – The Rotary Crystal Award has been presented annually to the outstanding senior female athlete at De Queen High School since 2000. Past winners of the award represent top students and athletes spanning over three decades at De Queen High School.

At Monday’s noon meeting of the club, Rotarian Tammy Huddleston presented the award for the 2023-2024 school year to Presli Young.  The daughter of Brent and Lacey Young, Presli has earned all-conference honors in track, cross country, and golf for the Lady Leopards. 

In track, Presli is ranked in the top ten in the state in the 800-meter run.  She’s also a member of the two-mile relay team which is ranked third in the state.  The girls Cross Country team repeated as conference champs and finished third in the state meet.  Presli has cheered for several years and qualified as an All-Star and All-American cheerleader. 

She’s an active member of the First Assembly of God Church in De Queen and a former Miss D.H.S. pageant winner.  Presli also excels in the classroom with a 3.9 grade point average, and she scored a 24 on the ACT Test. 

She’s a member of National Honor Society and on the honor roll, and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  Presli plans to attend the University of Arkansas – Cossatot to get her basics after high school graduation in May.  She later plans to transfer to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to pursue a degree in Dental Hygiene.

Besides performance in sports, the Rotary Crystal Award is also based on character, leadership, scholastic achievements and participation in other school, church and community activities.

Arkansas turkey season underway, over 1,100 taken during youth hunt     04/16/24

Thousands of young hunters took to the woods earlier this month for Arkansas’s annual youth turkey hunt, taking advantage of a bright, sunny opening morning followed by a moderately cloudy Sunday hunt, and the birds seemed to cooperate in stellar fashion. By the time the pollen settled Sunday night, hunters aged 6 to 15 checked 1,143 turkeys, 75 more turkeys than in 2023.

This is the second consecutive year the turkey harvest has topped 1,000, and is only the second time it has reached that level since 2016. While the upward trend is promising, Allison Fowler, assistant chief of wildlife management for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, notes that weather conditions during the two-day hunt play a big role in the success of the young hunters.

We’re obviously excited to see so many successful young hunters out there, and we’re thankful that the weather turned out nearly perfect for an opening morning hunt,” Fowler said. “The turkeys were gobbling and many parents and mentors took the opportunity to get their young hunters out for what we hope will be the first of many birds in their hunting career.”

The youth hunt typically accounts for 10 percent of the overall season harvest, so Fowler is hopeful that hunters have a good regular season ahead.

The forecast for Monday’s regular season opener looks like there is a good chance of rain and overcast skies, but not a sudden decrease in temperature,” Fowler said. “We hope to continue hearing some good gobbling as many hens begin to head to the nest and the male turkeys get anxious to continue breeding.”

Arkansas’s regular turkey season opened April 15. The season will end April 23 in Turkey Zone 1, which is composed of the extreme northwest and southwest portion of the state as well as the Crowley’s Ridge area and northern portion of the Arkansas Delta. Hunters in Turkey Zone 2, which makes up the majority of the state, will have until May 5 to chase gobblers. Only one legal turkey may be taken in Zone 1, but the seasonal limit is two legal turkeys in Zone 2. Only one legal turkey may be taken during the first seven days of the regular season. All turkeys taken by youths during the youth hunt count toward their seasonal limit.

Visit www.agfc.com/turkey for more information on turkey hunting in Arkansas.

ASP investigating use of force after arrest in Wickes     04/15/24

WICKES – The 18th West Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney has requested the Arkansas State Police (ASP) Criminal Investigation Division (CID) to investigate an alleged use of physical force by a Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) Deputy.

The incident took place on or around Monday, April 8 near Wickes in Polk County, which resulted in non-life-threatening injuries to the individual.

ASP Special Agents assigned to the case will present their findings to prosecuting attorneys for review.

Officer-involved shooting in Columbus     04/15/24

COLUMBUS – Special Agents with the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Arkansas State Police (ASP) are investigating the shooting death of a Hempstead County man by a Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputy.

On Thursday, April 11 at approximately 8:50 p.m., HCSO responded to a residence in the 2900 block of Highway 73 in the Columbus community of Hempstead County to serve a felony arrest warrant. Deputies contacted the subject of the warrant, identified as Randy May, 65, at the front door of his residence. According to a witness, May was armed with a machete and charged deputies. A deputy fired his service weapon, striking May.

May succumbed to his injuries on the scene.

ASP CID agents will prepare an investigative file to be submitted to the Hempstead County Prosecuting Attorney, who will determine whether the use of deadly force by the sheriff’s deputy was consistent with Arkansas laws.

U.S. House passes bill to reopen Albert Pike for overnight camping     04/15/24

LANGLEY – Efforts to reopen Albert Pike Recreation Area are advancing after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the EXPORE Act last week.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04), the EXPLORE Act seeks to introduce a number of provisions aimed at enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities across the United States. If signed into law, the bill would also require the U.S. Forest Service to reopen Albert Pike Recreation Area near Langley in Southwest Arkansas.

The park, once a popular draw for campers, has prohibited overnight use since a 100-year flood tragically killed 20 people during the early morning hours of June 11, 2010. Since then, and after a lawsuit filed by family members of those who perished, the park has been open for day-use only. Its facilities continue to bear the scars of that disastrous incident 14 years ago.

Westerman’s bill would safely re-open any existing overnight campsites outside of the 100-year floodplain within 30 days of the bill’s enactment. In addition, it would identify 54 areas that may be suitable for overnight camping in the recreation area within 6 months of the bill’s enactment. It would also establish at least 27 new overnight camping sites outside of the 100-year flood plain, including at least eight with electric and water hookups, for public use within two years of the bill’s enactment.

In an interview this past Friday, Westerman said he’s pleased with the widespread support his bill has received.

“This was a great bipartisan bill we passed out of the House,” said Westerman. “If you’re an outdoor recreation enthusiast, there’s something in it for you. But particularly if you’re in Southwest Arkansas, this bill mandates that the Forest Service rebuild camping spots at the Albert Pike campground and reopen it for camping.”

The bill must now pass through the U.S. Senate before reaching the president’s desk. Westerman is hopeful the EXPLORE Act will be signed into law.

“The Senate has been working on a similar bill and there is a ton of support. [The EXPLORE Act] passed unanimously out of the House on a voice vote, so that shows you how much bipartisan support it has. I’m very excited about that,” he explained.”

Westerman stressed that the process to reopen Albert Pike to overnight use would seek to avoid a similar catastrophe like that which occurred in 2010. However, he also notes that any enjoyment of the outdoors carries risks.

“We say the camping spots have to be above the 100-year floodplain which I think is a reasonable compromise,” he said. “But when you’re talking about outdoor recreation, you cannot eliminate all the risks and you can’t deny access because of injury or death. If that was the case, you couldn’t go to the Grand Canyon.

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s also an understood risk that when you go into the great outdoors that things can happen. You don’t want to be haphazard or carefree about it, that’s why we worked on what I thought is a good plan to put overnight camping above the 100-year floodplain.”

In addition to reopening overnight camping at APRA, the EXPLORE Act would:

  • Improve access to public lands and waters for outdoor recreation.
  • Modernize technology to improve visitor experiences, like increasing broadband connectivity and creating digital recreation passes.
  • Streamline the permitting process and reduce fees for small businesses that depend on public land access.
  • Protect rock climbing in iconic places and create new long-distance bike trails.
  • Restore campgrounds and modernize infrastructure.
  • Support gateway communities by addressing housing shortages and outdated infrastructure.
  • Improve accessibility for military service members, veterans, individuals with disabilities and children.

The EXPLORE Act is supported by more than 100 outdoor organizations, including several Arkansas based organizations who advocate for hunting, fishing, horseback riding, recreational boating, rock climbing, and more.

April 15-19 is spring cleanup week in De Queen     04/15/24

DE QUEEN – It’s clean up week in the City of De Queen and city officials have been encouraging everyone to do their part in making sure the city’s looking good as fall settles in.

Spring cleanup week continues through this Friday, April 19. City residents are asked to clean up their properties by getting rid of brush and leaves as well as large items like old and unused appliances. De Queen citizens can contact De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to have a time scheduled for the city to assist by collecting those large items and brush and leaf piles.

The De Queen Fire Station will also collect old and unused electronic items for recycling during clean up week only. Old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic items can be dropped off at the fire station from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through April 19.

Anyone with old, unused vehicles that need to be removed are asked to do so by calling Baker’s Sales and Service at (870) 584-3676. In some cases vehicles may have salvage value.

De Queen Rotary Club hosts Academic Awards ceremony     04/12/24

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Rotary Club hosted its annual Academic Awards ceremony Wednesday morning in the De Queen High School Auditorium to honor the school’s top performing students.

The recipients and their awards are as follows:

English 10 – Monica Macias

Pre-AP English 10 – Rylee Vaught

English 11 – Yamile Arce

English 12 – Juliette Perez

Geometry – Kailyn Klitz

Algebra II – Catherine Socash

AP Pre-Calculus/Trigonometry

AP Statistics – Jamileth Rueda

AP Calculus – Joel Galvan

College Algebra – Gloria Morales-Ahumada

College Trigonometry – Keri Staggs

Biology – Maria Morales

Chemistry – Eliazar Lara

Pre-AP Chemistry – Tristan Marrufo

U.S. History – Stephanie Villeda

World History – Laura Mae Harp

Spanish I – Lizeth Baltazar

Spanish II – Elaine Tovar

Spanish III – Ulyces Coto

Spanish IV – Yadira Marrufo

Physics – Rowan Sanchez

The Academic Awards ceremony is a longstanding De Queen Rotary Club tradition and dates back to the 1950s. Each recipient receives a plaque recognizing their achievement.

AGFC discovers invasive giant snail in shipments of live crawfish     04/12/24

Submitted by Randy Zellers/AGFC

These were just a few of the giant apple snails recently found in live crawfish shipments from Louisiana. AGFC photo.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission needs the public’s help in preventing the spread of giant apple snails, an invasive aquatic species native to South America, recently found in shipments of live crawfish from Louisiana.

Giant apple snails have not yet been found in the wild in Arkansas, but have been established in Louisiana for many years.The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has worked with the state of Louisiana to prevent the spread of this invasive species through many potential pathways of introduction, including aquarium pet releases and educational campaigns on cleaning of boats and recreational equipment. Additional vigilance by Arkansans through inspections of any live crawfish shipments (no matter the source), will help prevent further spread of this invasive species that could affect native wildlife and Arkansas’s rice industry.

Giant apple snails, also known as island apple snails, are among the largest freshwater snails with shells typically between 2 to 4 inches tall and large specimens reaching 6 inches tall. They were first documented in Florida in the 1980s and have since established wild populations in Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. Apple snails are popular in the aquarium trade due to their large size and handsome shells, however they can quickly exceed the capacity of their enclosure. Irresponsible aquarium dumping is believed to be the main means of apple snail introduction in the United States. Apple snails, as with any exotic plant or animal, should never be released into the wild.

They spend most of their time in water and can survive in low oxygen environments. They lay bright pink egg masses just above the water on tree stumps and other objects.  Each cluster contains on average 1,500 to 2,000 eggs, and females can lay a new cluster every 5 to 14 days.

Giant apple snails are voracious eaters and can cause serious damage to rice crops. Photo courtesy of Jess Van Dyke, Snail Busters, LLC. Bugwood.com.

Apple snails consume large quantities of aquatic plant material, damaging important habitat for native fish and wildlife. They cause significant damage to rice crops in Asia and are considered a serious rice crop pest in the U.S., affecting rice production in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

In addition to being an agricultural pest and damaging aquatic ecosystems, these snails can also threaten human health. Apple snails are known to carry rat lungworm, a parasite that can infect mammals (including humans) through the consumption of uncooked snail meat or contaminated produce. People with mild infections usually recover fully, but severe infections of the parasite can cause eosinophilic meningitis.  Additionally, the snail’s eggs contain a neurotoxin that can cause skin and eye irritation if handled.

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, giant apple snails were first discovered in New Orleans in 2006, and have since spread to nearly 30 parishes in the southern half of the state. Louisiana is the number one producer of crawfish in the United States. For more than a decade, apple snails have infested Louisiana crawfish farms, clogging crawfish traps, competing with crawfish for food, and resulting in the loss of entire crops. State and federal agencies continue to work with the Louisiana crawfish industry to help mitigate the spread of these pests. However, the continued range expansion and high abundance of apple snails increases their risk of hitchhiking in crawfish shipments.

AGFC is coordinating with other state and federal agency partners and the aquaculture industry to increase public awareness of apple snails coming into Arkansas through live crawfish shipments and monitor crawfish shipments coming into the state.

Apple snails lay thousands of eggs in pink clusters just above the water and can overpopulate an area quickly. Photo courtesy of Jess Van Dyke, Snail Busters, LLC. Bugwood.com.

All live crawfish should be inspected for snails, their eggs and other debris. Anyone spotting an apple snail, pink egg mass or aquatic snail larger than a quarter in diameter in purchased live crawfish or in the wild should take a picture, note the location and report it immediately. If found in live crawfish shipments, please use the Apple Snail Reporting Form available at www.agfc.com/ans. If found in the wild, please report them on the Aquatic Nuisance Species Reporting Form found on the same web page.  You may also contact Matt Horton, Aquatic Nuisance Species Program coordinator at 501-604-0485.

Dispose of any snails by double-bagging in a garbage bag and taping the bag closed to seal it. If available, place in a freezer for 24 hours and throw away in a trash receptacle. Do not discard apple snails onto the ground, in a ditch, pond, or other natural environment or keep them as a pet. Wear gloves and thoroughly wash hands with hot soapy water after handling snails.

According to the Arkansas Code of Regulations, crawfish imported for human consumption may not be released, stocked in ponds or used as bait.

Contact Horton or visit www.agfc.com/ans, for more information on giant apple snails and other aquatic nuisance species in Arkansas.

Dierks City Council approves $125k in improvements to park     04/10/24

DIERKS – The Dierks City Council met April 8 to approve a number of improvements for Jack Clawson Park.

Mayor Ronnie Cogburn informed the council that he had received a bid just before the council meeting for the installation of poles, lights and wiring for the two existing ball fields and wiring for two future ball fields and a concession stand that will be built in the future in the amount of $125,000.

Council members voted to accept the bid after ensuring the city had the funds budgeted for the project.

Cogburn reported the city had applied for a $300,000 grant with the Arkansas Department of Transportation. He said the grant if received would fund repaving three streets within the city limits.

Cogburn also informed the council that the bridge into the city cemetery needs to be repaired. He said it would cost about $67,000 to repair, but the bridge belongs to the cemetery committee and they do not have the necessary funds available. Council members asked him to determine what the cemetery committee could contribute to the project.

Police Chief John McKee reported his department was working to update streetlights and has started writing tickets to property owners who have not cleaned up their property in compliance with city ordinances.

Sheriff of Hot Spring County arrested by ASP     04/11/24

MALVERN – The sheriff of Hot Spring County was arrested last week, according to a release issued by the Arkansas State Police.

As a result of a probe by the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division, Hot Spring County Sheriff Scott Finkbeiner was charged on Wednesday, April 10 with misdemeanor sexual solicitation and felony unauthorized use of the Arkansas Crime Information Center. He surrendered to the Hot Spring County Detention Center.

His bond was set at $10,000.

Online court records show the charging document was initially sealed due to concerns over “pretrial publicity regarding other matters involving this Defendant.”

The Arkansas State Police has not released any additional information at this time.

Finkbeiner is also facing charges stemming from November of 2023 in which he is accused of obstructing a FBI narcotics investigation. He posted bond following his arraignment and a trial is scheduled for July.

ARDOT announces performance dashboard for public     04/11/24

Submitted by ARDOT

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) launched an interactive dashboard designed to keep citizens informed about pavement conditions across the state, the status of construction jobs, safety data, and other metrics under the “Transportation Performance” umbrella.

The Transportation Performance Dashboard can be accessed via ARDOT’s website at ardot.gov/performance.

The dashboard features gauges showing bridge condition, Interstate condition, and National Highway condition ratings – along with the evaluation process and what each rating means.

These ratings are determined using federal standards,” said ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor. “Seventy-five percent of our budget goes toward taking care of the roads we already have. We’re proud of our pavement preservation efforts across the state and are excited to have a tool that shares where we stand in that continuous effort.”

The dashboard also includes the latest roadway safety data and an interactive map of construction jobs across the state.

This is a great tool to promote transparency and show the public how their tax dollars are being spent,” said Director Tudor. “We hope to continue adding features to this dashboard over time.”

To learn more about the dashboard and how to navigate it, click here.

Additional travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov.   

Judge Ray Memorial Big Bass Festival is May 25     04/10/24

DE QUEEN – One of the region’s biggest fishing competitions is returning next month.

The 34th annual Judge Ray Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival is scheduled for May 25 on De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes.

The event is scheduled for 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all three lakes. The early registration fee is $65 and enters each angler into a chance to win some of the more than $30,000 in cash prizes for this year’s bass tournament. On-site registration is $70. Anglers can take advantage of the $75 registration bundle which includes the chance to win an extra $50 if your catch takes first place during the hourly weigh-in.

This year’s cash awards include the $30,000 Reel the Weight prize presented by De Queen Auto Group, Tri-Lakes Realty and Bailey Discount Building Supply. If the last two digits of the biggest fish at each lake match a secret number, the angler who caught the fish will receive $10,000. There is a chance to win at each of the three participating lakes.

This year’s cash award for the overall biggest bass has been increased to $2,000.

Weigh-in sites will be held at Oak Grove on De Queen Lake, Coon Creek on Gillham Lake and Jefferson Ridge on Dierks. The first weigh-in is at 8 a.m. with the final at 1 p.m.

The long-running and hugely-popular bass tournament was renamed in 2022 in honor of the late Sevier County Judge Greg Ray. Ray was an instrumental organizer of the event for many years.

The tournament is hosted each year by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.

Registration forms are available now at the chamber’s temporary office at De Queen Church of Christ. Registration forms can also be obtained by calling the chamber at (870) 584-3225.

Forms can be mailed back to P.O. Box 67, De Queen, AR 71832.

For more information, contact the chamber or visit www.seviercountychamberofcommerce.com.

De Queen Public Schools mourns loss of former longtime educator     04/10/24

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools along with family and friends is mourning the loss of a former and longtime educator.

Evelyn Sue Trible Beasley, 62 of Texarkana, Texas, passed away on Tuesday, April 2 at Christus Health Medical Center in Texarkana, Texas. Originally from Blytheville, Beasley served in education for more than three decades including 27 years with De Queen Public Schools. At De Queen, she taught special education and impacted thousands of lives.

The De Queen School District is asking the Leopard Family to send thoughts and prayers to her sons, Prince and Malik, as well as her entire family.

Visitation will be held Saturday, April 13 from 10 a.m. until services begin at 12 noon at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, 1110 South Promiseland Road, Blytheville. Reverend Frederick Clay, Sr. is the pastor. Funeral services will be conducted at 12:00 noon at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend Frederick Clay, Sr. will deliver the eulogy with interment to follow in Memory Gardens Cemetery.

Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.mhfuneralhomeinc.com.

The following is the full obituary:

Evelyn Sue Trible Beasley,62 of Texarkana, Texas formerly of Blytheville passed away on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at Christus Health Medical Center in Texarkana, Texas.

Evelyn was born April 1, 1962, in Blytheville, Arkansas, the daughter of James Trible and Luzell Norton Trible. Evelyn attended school in Blytheville and was a graduate of the Blytheville High School Class of 1980. Following high school, Evelyn attended Southern Arkansas University, receiving a bachelor’s degree. She taught Special Education in the De Queen Public Schools where she worked to enrich the lives of her students. Evelyn was a loving daughter, devoted mother, caring sister, and adoring grandmother and true friend who will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

Evelyn was preceded in death by her father, James Trible, one brother, Jimmy “Bo” Trible, and two sisters, Mary Smith, and Betty Manning.

Evelyn is survived by two loving and devoted sons, Prince Beasley of North Little Rock, Arkansas; and Malik Beasley of Conway, Arkansas; her mother, Mrs. Luzell Trible of Blytheville, Arkansas; her granddaughter, Aubrey Beasley of Texarkana, Texas; one brother, Jerry and Marilyn Trible of Blytheville, Arkansas; seven sisters, Linda and Robert Crain of Blytheville, Arkansas, Bobbie and John Diamond of Blytheville, Arkansas, Velma and Lee Whaley of Blytheville, Johnetta Orr of Blytheville, Arkansas; Shelia Trible-Poole of Blytheville, Arkansas; Debra Moore of Memphis, Tennessee, and Sandra Trible also of Blytheville, Arkansas; many beloved nieces and nephews, cousin and friends.

Visitation will be held Saturday, April 13, 2024, from10:00 a.m. until services begin at 12:00 noon at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, 1110 South Promiseland Road, Blytheville, Arkansas. Reverend Frederick Clay, Sr. is the pastor.

Funeral services will be conducted at 12:00 noon at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend Frederick Clay, Sr. will deliver the eulogy with interment to follow in Memory Gardens Cemetery.

Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.mhfuneralhomeinc.com.

McDonald-Horne Funeral Home is in charge of services and arrangements.

Keep Arkansas Beautiful announces film contest for high school students     04/10/24

The Fort Smith International Film Festival, Ozark Media Arts Festival, Arkansas Cinema Society (ACS) and Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission will host a statewide video contest for high school students (grades 9-12) to create a video commercial of 30 seconds or less that promotes environmental responsibility in Arkansas.

The contest will run from March 1 until May 24. Winners will be announced on June 28 at the ACS Filmmaking Lab for Teen Girls. There is no fee to enter the contest.

Students should focus their video on the Keep Arkansas Beautiful mission of inspiring Arkansans to improve their communities through education, preventing litter, promoting recycling and keeping Arkansas beautiful.

Videos must be submitted to the Fort Smith International Film Festival on FilmFreeway at https://filmfreeway.com/FortSmithInternationalFilmFestival.

For more information about the film festival contest by visiting here.

Reform Alliance hosting webinars to help parents understand EFAs     04/10/24

The Reform Alliance, an Arkansas-based educational non-profit organization, is inviting Arkansas families, schools, and other education service providers to join organizers for a webinar at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, to learn more about the Educational Freedom Account (EFA) program, which is now accepting applications for the 2024-25 school year.

Those interested in participating can register here.

Whether you are enrolling in the program or just interested in more information, The Reform Alliance will be hosting the Arkansas Department of Education to share information about eligibility and how the program works and to assist in the application process.

There will be an opportunity to submit questions during the webinar, but organizers also welcome questions beforehand using this form.

The Reform Alliance is also inviting participants to join in for a new webinar series called Community Conversations. In this series, each event will focus on a special, specific community and will share programs and resource available to those community members.

The series will begin Community Conversations with a program on Autism Awareness and children with special needs. It will take place at 12 noon on Tuesday, April 23. You can register here.

The series will continue with a program celebrating the Month of the Military Child and Military Awareness. It will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30. You can register here.

First total solar eclipse in Arkansas since 1918, but crowds less than expected     04/09/24

Our very own Jen Massey caught this photo of the total solar eclipse. Check out some great submitted photos on our Facebook page.

DE QUEEN – Despite all expectations, the clouds parted over De Queen just in time to witness Monday’s once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse. People could be seen up and down Collin Raye Drive wearing their eclipse glasses in hopes of catching the eclipse and fortunately Mother Nature did not disappoint.

Hopes were dashed after skies turned overcast earlier Monday morning. Significant traffic could be seen leaving De Queen, likely out-of-towners and locals alike searching for clearer skies and better views of the eclipse. Those who were patient were rewarded with the sight of the first total solar eclipse to touch Arkansas soil in over 100 years.

The eclipse was described by state officials as likely the biggest tourism event to ever occur in Arkansas. Around 1.5 million visitors to the state were expected, though reports from across Arkansas suggest it was quite a bit lower.

Many cities in the path of totality reported much lower visitors than they had expected. Sevier County, for instance, which boasted the longest period of totality in the state and anticipated around 30,000 visitors. It’s likely that less than a tenth of that figure actually showed up, with many traveling on due to the forecast.

Russellville seemed to grab the biggest headlines with its major (but still less than expected) draw of tourists.

Statewide, traffic seemed to be greater immediately after the total solar eclipse as visitors began to leave the state. Few major incidents were reported. However, a small plane carrying eclipse chasers crashed shortly after taking off from the Clarksville Municipal Airport. All four people survived but were injured and airlifted to a hospital for treatment.

For those who witnessed Monday’s eclipse it was a truly magnificent event. But if you missed it, the next one to reach the continental United States is just two decades away. The next one to reach Arkansas will be just a year later, in 2045.

Most calendar years actually feature two or more solar eclipses. These, however, are not always total solar eclipses. These are typically partial solar or annular eclipses, often occurring over the ocean where they are less visible to people.

A total solar eclipse usually occurs every 18 months, on average. The rarity of this event lies in its location.

It usually takes about 375 years for a total solar eclipse to happen again at the same location. But this time, we’ll have to wait only 20 years.

Horatio FFA to present bass tournament this weekend     04/09/24

HORATIO – The Horatio High School Chapter of FFA is gearing up to host its second annual Bass Tournament in support of local scholarships.

The tournament is scheduled for April 13 at De Queen Lake. Check-in will take place at Oak Grove Landing. Entry fee is $70 per boat with an optional $10 Big Bass addition with 100 percent payout.

All state and local laws and regulations must be followed and there is a limit of two anglers per team. Day of registration will be accepted. Registration and boat check will begin at Oak Grove landing at 5 a.m. with the tournament to begin at six.

First place will get a 30 percent payout, 20 percent for second place and 10 percent for third place. All proceeds will go towards the JD & Linda Vaught Scholarship.

To register in advance, or for more information, call (870) 584-6761 or (870) 279-7203.

Region under flood watch, severe weather expected     04/09/24

DE QUEEN – A flood watch remains in effect for the listening area after the first in a series of storm storm systems moved into the region Monday night.

According to the National Weather Service, the flood watch is expected to remain in effect through 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The impacted areas include Sevier, Little River, Howard and McCurtain Counties as well as others in Northeast Texas and northern Louisiana.

Widespread rainfall amounts near two inches have been common across much of the Four State Region through early Tuesday Morning with some isolated locations across Northeast Texas and Northern Louisiana having seen totals as high as 4 to 6 inches. Look for additional rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches through the day Wednesday with some locations across North Louisiana and South Central Arkansas possibly seeing an additional 6 to 9 inches. This additional rainfall could result in very serious flooding concerns, especially across low lying and flood prone areas. Area waterways will continue to respond as well with additional rises (some significant) possible.

Residents of the impacted area monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible Flood Warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

Showers and thunderstorms will continue to impact the entire Four State Region Today through tonight. Excessive, heavy rainfall could result in additional flooding concerns with low lying and poor drainage areas becoming especially susceptible. Strong to severe thunderstorms will also be possible through tonight, especially across the southern half of Northeast Texas into Northern Louisiana where large hail, damaging wind gusts and an isolated tornado threat will exist.

The heavy rainfall theat should begin to taper off across much of the region during the day Wednesday but there will continue to be a severe thunderstorm threat, at least during the morning hours on Wednesday across portions of the region. Showers and thunderstorms should end across the entire Four State Region Wednesday Night.

Additional rises from recent rainfall will continue to impact area waterways with crests likely not reached until the end of the work week, the upcoming weekend or next week.

Mayor Jeff Brown
State Representative DeAnn Vaught
State Senator Larry Teague
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
US Senator John Booman
US Representative Bruce Westerman

Previously Reported