Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Local News

Today's News

Sevier County business earns worldwide award      07/17/24

Susan Nelson, co-owner of Nordic Americas Group, recently traveled to Norway to accept the worldwide Land-Based Distributor of the Year Award from the Jets Group. She is pictured with her husband, Clint Nelson, who owns AMS Global, a manufacturing operation based near De Queen that uses the vacuum sanitation technology produced by the Jets Group and distributed by Nordic Americas Group.

DE QUEEN – A manufacturing business in Sevier County recently earned a big award halfway across the globe.


Nordic Americas Group, based between De Queen and Horatio, is the sole distributor in North America for land-based applications for the Jets Group in Norway. The Jets Group is the world leader in sanitation technology with an emphasis on highly efficient waste management systems.


Owned by Susan Nelson and Meg Taffe, Nordic Americas Group was recently named the Land-Based Distributor of the Year during a ceremony held at Skothomen, Norway. The award encompasses all Jets Vacuum worldwide land-based distributors – a significant feat for the locally-based company.


Clint Nelson, a representative for Nordic Americas Group and Susan’s husband, said the local company has been a distributor for the Jets Group since 2008.


“This was pretty great, beating the other worldwide distributors from Australia to Brazil,” he said. “The folks in Norway are great, it’s a wonderful place and it was an honor to be able to go and receive this award. It was our fifth time traveling to Norway.”
The vacuum sanitation system distributed by Nordic Americas Group is similar to those used in cruise ships and airplanes. The systems produced by the local company are used primarily in mobile sanitation systems.


The technology is a perfect match for the systems produced by AMS Global, a neighbor of Nordic Americas Group and owned by Clint Nelson. His company, which provides around 20 good-paying jobs in Sevier County, manufactures mobile restroom trailers for distribution across the world using technology produced by the Jets Group.


AMS Global is currently producing one system to be shipped to Hawaii. Others built right here in De Queen have been shipped across the world and used for a variety of situations including disaster relief operations, for operations on the southern border, large-scale events among others. One of AMS Global’s mobile restroom facilities is located at the Sevier County Fairgrounds where it replaces the port-a-potties previously used during events there.


Nelson said his company’s facilities – using Jets Group technology – are becoming attractive replacements for traditional port-a-potty options.


“When you think of a port-a-potty, it’s basically just an outhouse,” he said. “And if you’ve been in one on a hot summer afternoon and a big event, you know it’s not the greatest thing to use. The mobile restroom facilities we’re producing are so much cleaner, efficient and better to use for the public along with being ADA compliant.”


After decades of decline in the United States’ manufacturing sector, AMS Global proves that manufacturing is still viable in rural areas like Southwest Arkansas even if on a smaller scale. 

De Queen Lake trail project receives state grant      07/17/24

DE QUEEN – The project to build a mountain biking trail around De Queen lake got a boost last week after state officials announced a series of grants for outdoors projects in Arkansas.

On July 11, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders joined Secretary Shea Lewis, Secretary Renee Mallory and Office of Outdoor Recreation Director Katherine Andrews to present $500,000 in Outdoor Recreation Grants to projects in seven counties across the state. The Sanders Administration revived Great Strides after the program went dormant in 2017, fulfilling one of the recommendations of the Natural State Initiative. The funding for this grant program comes from Arkansas’ Tobacco Settlement Fund.

Great Strides is back and better than ever. I know that when deciding which applications to accept, the grant writing committee had a special focus: smaller Arkansas communities without robust access to outdoor recreation. What these projects lack in size they make up for in impact. This program goes a long way toward making sure that every corner of Arkansas – not just a few big cities – is a great place to live and raise a family,” said Governor Sanders.

The De Queen Lake trail project received $8,330 of the total and was the only recipient in Southwest Arkansas.

The Office of Outdoor Recreation received twenty-one grant applications from fifteen counties across the state totaling $1,611,270.28 in requested funds for fiscal year 2024. A total of $500,000 will be disbursed.

Last year, the De Queen Lake project received $250,000 in grants and county contributions.

The Friends of the De Queen Lake Trail anticipate the completed trail network to serve as a significant tourist attraction given the growing popularity of mountain biking. The goal, said long-time organizer Erik Smith, is to get De Queen on the map for mountain bike enthusiasts.

The project’s trailhead, which has been open to the public since the beginning, is located behind the bathrooms at Pine Ridge Campground on De Queen Lake. For more information, and to keep up to date with the trail project, visit Friends of the De Queen Lake Trail on Facebook.

Rotary Club passes presidential gavel, announces 2024 project      07/17/24

Michael Collins, pictured at left, officially took over as president of the De Queen Rotary Club during the group’s meeting on July 15. He replaces outgoing president Greg Revels. (Photo courtesy of De Queen Rotary Club)

DE QUEEN – At the July 15 De Queen Rotary Club meeting, outgoing club president Greg Revels officially passed the gavel to Michael Collins, who’ll serve as president for the 2024-2025 year.

Club Secretary Tammy Huddleston presented a $44,625 budget for the coming year that was approved by the membership. The primary community service project that the Rotary Club voted to sponsor this year will be the construction of bus stop shelter for students who reside in and around the Sevier County Housing Authority apartments on 13th Street in De Queen at an approximate cost of $5,000.

A handicapped-accessible concrete pad has already been poured at the site. Bristow Custom Metals will construct the shelter that will protect students from the weather elements as they await the school bus. The Club hopes to complete the project prior to the start of the new school year in August. The Club plans to apply for a $1,500 grant from Rotary District 6170 to help fund the bus stop shelter project.

De Queen Rotarians plan to construct a covered shelter for children awaiting the school bus at the Sevier County Housing Authority on 13th Street in De Queen. The concrete foundation has already been laid. (Photo courtesy of De Queen Rotary Club)

The De Queen Club will continue its financial support in the coming year of approximately a dozen other local entities, teams, scholarships, students, organizations, as well as Rotary International and its Polio Plus Campaign.

The De Queen Club, now 36 members strong, was reminded of the Rotary Zone Training in Little Rock on Saturday, Aug. 3.

During community reports, Ethan Wolcott thanked the Rotarians who visited the Sevier County Historical Museum Awareness Day event on July 11. A total of 119 citizens signed the guest book during the four-hour event. There were approximately 35 children in attendance, many of whom participated in a scavenger hunt.

Orville Smith thanked the members who contributed to the Gideons organization annual dinner on July 13. An estimated $3,000 was raised to help purchase bibles for local distribution.

Caitlin Collins, Paisley Grace Collins, and Sofia Kate Collins, wife and daughters of the incoming club president, were guests at Monday’s noon meeting.

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

Dr. Steve Cole submits resignation from SCMC Board of Governors      07/16/24

Dr. Steve Cole has announced he will resign as chairman of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors effective in August. He has served in this leadership position since the process to build a new hospital in Sevier County began in 2019. He said he’s leaving the position to focus more time on his family. He will continue to serve as chancellor for UA Cossatot.


DE QUEEN – Dr. Steve Cole has announced he will step back as the leader of the board overseeing Sevier County’s new hospital.

His resignation as chairman of the Sevier County Board of Governors was officially accepted during the group’s regular monthly meeting on July 11. He will preside over the board’s last meeting in August.

Cole has served as the board’s chairman since its inauguration in 2019. In an interview, Cole said he made the decision in order to spend more time with his family.

“I looked it up, I think I’ve volunteered over 10,000 hours towards the hospital in the past five or six years going all the way back to the closing of the old hospital,” said Cole.

 “I loved every minute of it. I think the hospital is in such a good place right now, but I think it’s just time. The last couple of weeks I’ve had some time to reflect. I’m over 60 years old. I have a father who lives a long way from here and he needs me. My family has always needed me. When you’ve given so much time to certain things you realize it’s really time to put time towards your family. After a lot of soul searching I realized [stepping back] would be the right thing to do for me and my family.”

Cole said he feels comfortable resigning from his leadership of the board given the hospital’s current hopeful position. Following a dire financial position earlier this year, the Sevier County Medical Center has shown encouraging progress in increasing revenue, cutting expenses and maintaining healthy patient levels.

“I think the hospital is in a wonderful place right now,” said Cole. “It’s been challenging and tiring, but really rewarding. We’ve had a lot of trials and tribulations but the progress its made has been really encouraging. It’s a beautiful place providing wonderful healthcare. Over the last several weeks I’ve had time to think about it and it’s time for someone else.”

Cole expressed gratitude to two groups in particular for their support and guidance during his time as chairman of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.

“My wife and my two daughters especially because they’ve fully supported me through this whole process. They’re the ones I’ve been away from and I want to start spending more time with them,” said Cole. “Also, the board that is currently there, Greg Revels, Dr. Jonathan Hoyt, Jimna Stinnet, Veronica Ozura, Jeff Tollett, Manya Wood and Mike Branson, those folks have put in the time too. It’s just been wonderful to work with them. The hospital is in good hands with those folks.”

Cole said he will continue to serve as chancellor of UA Cossatot, a position he’s held since 2010.

“As long as the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, my boss Dr. [Donald] Bobbitt, and my Board of Visitors want me around, I won’t go anywhere,” he said, laughing. “I’ll continue to do everything I can for my family, my college and my community.”

CRSD educator recognized as 2024 AREA Teacher of the Year      07/16/24

Bethany Brantley (pictured at right), a gifted and talented teacher at Cossatot River School District, along with Andrea Murray of Pocahontas Junior High School, have both been named the 2024 AREA Teachers of the Year.


LITTLE ROCK – A Southwest Arkansas teacher was recently recognized one the top educators of the state by the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

Bethany Brantly, a gifted and talented teacher at Cossatot River School District, was one of two educators recognized as recipients of the 2024 Arkansas Rural Education Association’s Teacher of the Year program. The second recipient was Andrea Murray, an eighth grade English teacher at the Pocahontas Junior High School.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas have sponsored the Rural Teachers of the Year Award since 2004.

Murray and Brantley were presented with a crystal apple gift and a check for $1,000 from the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

Teacher-of-the-year nominations are vetted by the state’s 15 educational cooperatives, which then submit a finalist for each educational cooperative district to the Arkansas Rural Education Association for consideration.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.(AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 600,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.

Brantley is among another educator from Southwest Arkansas honored this year by AREA. In May, the organization officially recognized De Queen’s Jason Sanders Monday night as one of its two Superintendents of the Year for 2024.

Tori Falls named new director of Little River Chamber of Commerce      07/16/24

Submitted by Ronda Pounds/Little River Chamber of Commerce

Tori Falls has been named the new director of the Little River Chamber of Commerce.


ASHDOWN – The Little River Chamber of Commerce is happy to announce Tori Falls as the new Chamber Director. Tori has a wealth of experience in managing projects, running her own business, and planning events.

Tori Falls has a varied work background. She has spent five years running her own business, Ashdown Sports Photography & Tori Falls Photography. She has strong marketing, budgeting, and organizing skills, which she learned through different manager jobs and her photography business.

She has grown her business’s online presence through smart marketing and social media strategies. Tori makes sure her customers are happy by responding quickly and building good relationships with them.

Tori interned at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital-ALSAC, where she helped plan big fundraising events and was sales lead at Loft which helped her develop her leadership skills.

Tori holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literature with a Minor in Business Foundations from the University of Houston. She is married to Josh and they have three children Edith, Iris, and Owen.

“We are so excited to welcome Tori as our chamber director,” said Chamber President Ronda Pounds. “She is a great addition to the chamber and we look forward to working together to help our local businesses succeed and grow in our county.”

“I am excited to join the Little River Chamber of Commerce and look forward to helping our local businesses grow and succeed,” said Tori Falls. “I am committed to learning, growing, and providing every member with the best possible experience.”

Ashdown man arrested for drugs in Sevier after riding go-cart on highway      07/16/24

DE QUEEN – An Ashdown man desperate enough to get to work to drive a go-cart on a U.S. highway has been charged with drug possession in Sevier County.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched to the 3000 block of Highway 71 on July 15 after receiving a report of an individual driving a go-cart on the highway. The responding deputy located the go-cart, broken down, on the shoulder of Highway 71 just south of Rock Hill Road.

The deputy made contact with the driver and identified him as 22-year-old Alex James Allen of Ashdown. Allen reportedly told the deputy he was driving the go-cart to get to his place of work in De Queen. The deputy then discovered that Allen was currently on parole for past drug-related incidents and had a search waiver on file.

During the search, the deputy allegedly uncovered a baggie containing suspected marijuana and another containing a substance believed to be cocaine. Allen reportedly admitted to purchasing the controlled substances from his workplace.

Allen was then arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and transported to the Sevier County Jail.

Sevier County Sheriff’s Office June activity report      07/16/24

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office has released its activity report for the month of June:

Deputies worked a total of 1,898 hours on duty throughout the month of June and clocked 22,804 miles.

Total fuel used was calculated at 1,601 gallons.

Total calls received by deputies were 90 in addition to working 10 motor vehicle accidents and 106 traffic stops. Of those stops, one resulted in a citation with 105 warnings.

Fifteen arrests were made in June. twenty-six civil papers were served and deputies completed 1,371 building checks.

Investigators with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office worked a stabbing incident and another involving arson.

Drawdown underway at Millwood Lake      07/16/24

MILLWOOD LAKE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District began lowering Millwood Lake on July 15 to improve shoreline vegetation and promote sediment compaction.

The drawdown will expose an extensive area of shoreline for re-vegetation to allow the planting of millet which promotes water quality, increases fish production, and provides habitat for wintering waterfowl.

The lake will be held near an elevation of 257.2 feet until Sept. 13 when it will be raised six inches. The lake will be raised to the top of normal conservation pool of 259.2 feet on Nov. 1.

Boaters are encouraged to wear a life jacket and exercise caution during the drawdown as submerged stumps and shallow areas will be more prominent, especially in boat lanes. Real time lake level information can be found on the USACE Little Rock smartphone app which can be found in most app stores.

For more information, contact the Millwood Project Office at 870-898-3343.

Questions abound after failed Trump assassination; former president set to appear at RNC      07/15/24

By Patrick Massey

Numerous questions remain following the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

What were the shooter’s motives? How was the would-be assassin able to approach within 130 yards of the former president’s position? What prevented the U.S. Secret Service from implementing tighter security protocols around the speaking arena? What does the attempted assassination mean for the upcoming election and the nation more broadly?

Some of these questions will take days, if not weeks and months, to answer.

Much of the nation remains in shock and disbelief following the first attempted assassination of a U.S. president since John Hinckley, Jr. shot Ronald Reagan in 1981 – more than four decades ago.

Trump narrowly survived Saturday’s assassination attempt at the campaign rally, which left one attendee dead and two others critically wounded. In an exclusive interview with Michael Goodwin of The New York Post, Trump said the attack would have been fatal had he not turned his head at the moment the shooter opened fire.

I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be dead,” Trump told Goodwin. “The doctor at the hospital said he never saw anything like this, he called it a miracle.”

The bullet grazed Trump’s head, slicing his ear and causing blood to stream across the former president’s face. Secret Service agents immediately formed a shield around Trump and escorted him to safety. The entire scene was caught on horrifying video footage.

In a moment of utmost defiance, the ex-president (and presumptive nominee, as of our press deadline) raised his fist in the air while shouting “fight” as he exited the podium.

The shooter, identified as 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks of Bethal Park, Penn., was killed moments after opening fire. He managed to fire eight rounds before he was killed by a single shot from a sniper deployed as part of Trump’s security team.

One of those rounds killed 50-year-old Corey Comperatore, a father and former volunteer fire chief. He dove in front of wife and daughter to shield them when the shots rang out. Two others were critically injured.

In his first statement, Trump thanked law enforcement and expressed his sorrow for the other victims of the attempted assassination.

“I want to thank The United States Secret Service, and all of Law Enforcement, for their rapid response to the shooting that just took place in Butler, Pennsylvania,” Trump’s statement on Truth Social said. “Most importantly, I want to extend my condolences to the family of the person at the Rally who was killed, and also to the family of another person that was badly injured. It is incredible that such an act can take place in our Country. Nothing is known at this time about the shooter, who is now dead. I was shot with a bullet that pierced the upper part of my right ear. I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin. Much bleeding took place, so l realized then what was happening. GOD BLESS AMERICA!”

The former president has since expressed his desire to quell fears in the United States following the attack and promote a message of unity across the nation.

President Joe Biden has also called on calm following the attempted assassination of his political rival.

My fellow Americans, I want to speak to you tonight about the need for us to lower the temperature in our politics and to remember that while we may disagree, we are not enemies,” Biden said during a rare Oval Office address Sunday night. “we are neighbors, we are friends, coworkers, citizens and most importantly we are fellow Americans. We must stand together.”

Biden said he was “grateful” that Trump survived the assassination attempt and expressed his condolences to the Comperatore family.

An investigation began immediately into the failings of Trump’s security detail. The Secret Service has since blamed local police for improperly securing the area around the rally stage. The service, which is responsible for the safety of current and former presidents, said it was tasked only with covering the rally grounds. Local police, the agency said, were recruited to secure the surrounding area.

The failure to protect the president is sure to be a topic of heavy debate in the coming days.

In the meantime, Trump is scheduled to appear on Monday for the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wis. He is expected to receive the party’s formal nomination as the GOP presidential nominee on Thursday.

Trump said in a Truth Social post that he would not delay his trip to the convention after the assassination attempt.

I was going to delay my trip to Wisconsin, and the National Republican Convention, by two days, but have just decided that I cannot allow a ‘shooter,’ or potential assassin, to force change to scheduling or anything else.”

Hope man charged with 100 counts of illicit material featuring minors      07/15/24

Rodney Lee Watson

HOPE – Criminal charges are being brought against a Hope man after he was allegedly found in possession of material featuring the sexual exploitation of minors.

On Monday, July 8, 2024, agents with the Arkansas State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) arrested Rodney Lee Watson, 71, of Hope. The investigation follows a search warrant stemming from a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The investigation led to Watson being charged with 100 counts of distributing, possessing, or viewing material depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child.

ICAC Agents arrested Watson and transported him to the Hempstead County Detention Center. Watson’s bond was set at $250,000.

Heat advisory currently in effect for listening area      07/15/24

DE QUEEN – A Heat Advisory is currently in effect for the listening area after another round of sweltering temperatures and high humidity.

The heat advisory was issued earlier Monday morning and will continue through 8 p.m. Today’s high is 97 with heat index values expected as high as 107.

Tuesday is likely to see another heat advisory activated as temperatures are again expected to be 97 with a heat index of 107.

Fortunately, an incoming storm system is expected to bring some cooler temperatures and much-needed rain later this week. Currently, Wednesday has a 20 percent chance of rain with that increasing to 50 percent in the evening. Thursday has a 60 percent of showers with additional chances forecasted through Sunday. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid to high 80s.

In the meantime, drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of

the sun and check up on relatives and neighbors.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 911 as soon as symptoms appear.

56th Grannis Rodeo is this weekend      07/15/24

GRANNIS – Everyone is invited to join the Grannis Trail Riders as they alongside the Wing Rodeo Company present the 56th annual Grannis Rodeo this Friday and Saturday.

The rodeo takes place July 19-20 at the Grannis Rodeo Arena. Admission is just $8 while kids four and under get in for free. Senior citizens will get in for half-price Friday night.

Enjoy rodeo clown Campbell Autrey as well as a calf scramble and money drop nightly.

The rodeo will include $700 in added money and $1,100 in added money for bull riding.

On Friday, every admission fee comes with a chance to win four tickets to Magic Springs and Crystal Falls theme park. Bring some cash on Saturday for a chance to win big in the 50/50 draw.

Mutton bustin’ and junior barrels kick off at 7 p.m. with more action at 8 p.m. at the 56th annual Grannis Rodeo July 19-20.

The rodeo is sanctioned by CRRA, ACRA, ARA and UPRA.

Sevier County Equalization Board announces upcoming meetings      07/15/24

DE QUEEN – There will be a meeting of the Sevier County Equalization Board on Thursday Aug. 1 in the Sevier County Assessor’s Office at 9 a.m.

This meeting will swear in all Equalization Board members, approve minutes from 2023 and hold any tax equalization hearings that might be scheduled at that time.

The Sevier County Equalization Board will then hold two more hearings on Monday, Aug. 19 at 4:30 p.m., and Aug. 26 at 5 p.m. in the Sevier County Courthouse Conference room.

Anyone interested in scheduling a hearing should call the Sevier County Clerk’s office at (870) 642-2852 (option 0) between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Hearings will be scheduled at a time to accommodate the taxpayer if at all possible.

Veronica Ozura is Sevier County’s new economic development director      07/11/24

Veronica Ozura, a De Queen native, took over the role of Sevier County Economic Development Director in June. Ozura said she’s excited for the opportunity to help Sevier County grow. She’s pictured outside of the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce office in downtown De Queen, where she’ll work from.

DE QUEEN – The new coordinator of Sevier County’s economic development efforts said she’s ready to hit the ground running.

Veronica Ozura officially took over the role of Sevier County Economic Development Director in June. A 2006 graduate of De Queen High School, Ozura comes to the position following a career as a counselor at Horatio High School. She graduated with degrees in sociology and psychology from Arkansas Technical University.

Ozura currently serves as the 2024-25 president of the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce and has already marked three years on the organization’s board of directors. 

As the county’s economic development director, Ozura said she’ll work to improve the local economy through community and economic development projects. The position is funded through partnerships between UA Cossatot and the City of De Queen, Sevier County, and the FRIENDS Foundation.

Her role will include focusing on the unique opportunities and challenges Sevier County faces in broadening its economy – from infrastructure limitations to tourism opportunities to business and industry recruitment. Workforce development is another component of her role – specifically, identifying the skills the county’s employees possess and how to strengthen them to make Sevier County an attractive place for outside investment.

Ozura said she looks forward to serving Sevier County with the aim of growing its economy.

I’m very excited because I know we have a lot of opportunities and a great community to work with,” she said. “Together I think we can make Sevier County an even greater place to live and do business.”

Engler signs on as new junior girls basketball coach at De Queen      07/11/24

Jacie Engler has signed on as the new junior girls basketball coach for De Queen. She is a native of McCurtain County.

DE QUEEN – The latest addition to the De Queen basketball coaching staff comes from the west. 

Jacie Engler is now the De Queen junior girls coach after coaching three years at Valiant Okla. She is a McCurtain County native.

After graduating from Wright City High School, she went to junior college at Northern Oklahoma in Enid then transferred to Oklahoma Baptist University.

In addition to basketball she will coach tennis and teach health and physical education at De Queen.

Engler played softball as well as basketball in high school — shortstop, catcher, outfield. 

She played basketball throughout college — every position. “I played one through five,” she said. “I’d rather play the two or three.”

Engler said coaching had always been a possible career choice. She was influenced by her junior college coach Scott Morris. “He was the hardest on me,” she said. “He influenced me to play a lot harder. He was very knowledgeable.”

Anther influence was Joel Dickerson at Wright City assistant. “He always helped me out,” Engler said. In Engler’s view the best thing about coaching is “seeing kids work hard and improve, get better and compete.”

The most frustrating element of the job is repeated mistakes. “They’re kids. You have to learn from it and move on,” she said.

Engler is the daughter of Laguanna and Jeff Engler. After her mom passed away, aunt Sandy Meeks assumed child rearing responsibilities. Brother Jared is a middle school science teacher at Wright City. She has five cousins in education.

Engler said in the summer she likes outdoor activities such as riding ATV’s and swimming. All year round she enjoys hanging out with friends and family. There is one tradition she cannot miss. “Every Sunday we have family dinner,” she said.

Sevier County Sheriff’s Office notifies public of new sex offender in area      07/11/24

Jonathan Neeley

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department is releasing the following information pursuant to Section 13 of Act 989 of 1997, the Sex and Child Offender Registration Act, and the community notification guidelines promulgated by the Commission on Abuse, which authorizes Law Enforcement Agencies to inform the public of a sex offender’s release. Authorities say such information will enhance public safety and protection.

New Level 3 Sex Offender

Jonathan Neely

Level 3

DOB: 8/26/1983

Address: 600 Block of Crosstrails Road

All sex offenders required to register in the State of Arkansas must submit to assessment by the Sex Offender Screening & Risk Assessment Program coordinated by the Arkansas Department of Correction. Each offender is assigned a community notification level based on the results of the assessment. Offenders failing to submit to assessment are assigned by default to a community notification level of 3 but may also be considered for assignment as level 4.

The individual who appears on this notification has been convicted of an offense that requires registration with the Arkansas Crime Information Center.  Further, his/her previous criminal history places him/her in a classification level that reflects the potential to Re-offend.

This Offender has advised the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department that he/she will be living in the location listed in this report.  HE/SHE IS NOT WANTED BY THE POLICE.  THE NOTIFICATION IS NOT INTENDED TO INCREASE FEAR; RATHER, IT IS OUR BELIEF THAT AN INFORMED PUBLIC IS A SAFER PUBLIC.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department has no legal authority to direct where a Sex Offender lives.  Unless court-ordered restrictions exist, this Offender is free to live where he/she chooses.

Sex Offenders have always lived in our communities, but it wasn’t until this passage of the Sex and Child Offender Registration Act that law enforcement even knew where they were living.  In many cases, law enforcement is now able to share that information with you.  CITIZEN ABUSE OF THIS INFORMATION TO THREATEN, INTIMIDATE OR HARASS REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.  Further, abuse could potentially end law enforcement’s ability to do community notification.  Authorities believe the only person who wins if community notification ends is the Offender since sex offenders derive their power through secrecy.

For additional information on safety and education for how you can prevent, identify, and respond, visit https://www.nsopw.gov/en/SafetyAndEducation You can also click on the link https://www.ark.org/offender-search/index.php for the sex offender registry on Arkansas Crime Information Center’s website.

LEVEL OF RISK FOR ADULT AND JUVENILE OFFENDERS

Based on historical data and information obtained from the risk assessment process, offenders are assigned to the following levels of risk to the general public:

  • LOW RISK-1: Usually these are individuals with no prior history of sexual acting out, and no strong antisocial tendencies, sexual compulsions, or psychological factors impairing judgment.
  • MODERATE RISK-2: Usually these are individuals with limited or circumscribed prior history of sexual acting out, possess some antisocial personality characteristics, predatory tendencies, or deviant sexual interest or behavioral patterns that increase the general level of risk these offenders pose.  They may have mild or well-controlled mental disorders, and/or developmental disabilities.
  • HIGH RISK-3: These individuals usually have histories of repeat sexual offending, and/or strong antisocial, violent, or predatory personality characteristics.  Sexual compulsions are likely to be present but may be kept under control when relapse prevention plans are followed, and treatment is continued.  The offense patterns of these individuals reflect a relatively high probability of re-offense and/or a risk of substantial injury to victims should re-offense occur.
  • SEXUALLY DANGEROUS PERSON-4: These are individuals with impaired judgment or control who have sexual or violent compulsions that they lack the ability to control.  This may be due to pedophilia or other disorders of sexual attraction, mental illness, or personality disorder that distorts thinking, interferes with behavioral control, and predisposes the person to acts of predatory sexual violence.

Alligators a steady presence in Southwest Arkansas      07/11/24

By Ryan McGeeney/UAEX

A pair of alligators pose for their photo while hanging out in Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Sevier County. Following their near-extinction in Arkansas, today there is no shortage of alligators particularly here in Southwest Arkansas. (Photo by Patrick Massey)

Arkansas is known as the “natural state” for a reason, and the abundant wildlife is a major contributor to the reputation. Lions and tigers, not so much. Bears — sure, here and there. But for residents across the state’s southern tier of counties, alligators make more than the occasional appearance.

In Sevier and Little River Counties, for example, spotting the occasional reptile is just part of life. They’re not uncommon in areas where waterways are essential to agricultural operations. There’s not much you can do if you encounter one, other than stay clear and call it in.

Decades ago, American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in the United States were hunted nearly to extinction. In 1973, they were identified in the Endangered Species Act, but were ultimately removed from the list in 1987 once their population numbers rebounded.

If a person spots an alligator, they should stay at least 60 feet away from it, whether it’s on land or in a body of water. One way to help livestock avoid crossing paths with alligators is to make sure they have their own secure sources of drinking water.

In November 2023, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, introduced a new nuisance wildlife hotline. The number, 833-345-0315, is intended to respond to reports of wildlife that may pose a threat to people, livestock or property. The number is monitored 24 hours a day. (Photo by Patrick Massey)

In November 2023, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, introduced a new nuisance wildlife hotline. The number, 833-345-0315, is intended to respond to reports of wildlife that may pose a threat to people, livestock or property. The number is monitored 24 hours a day.

The commission has published annual Alligator Management Reports since 2007 and has records of alligator nuisance reports dating back to 2000. In that year, the commission reported 11 nuisance reports across the state’s five alligator management zones. The number has varied year to year, peaking in 2009 with 108 complaints across all three zones. In 2023, the commission reported 57 alligator nuisance complaints.

Among the five alligator management zones, alligator sport hunting is only allowed in the three southern-most zones (Zone 4 includes about a dozen counties in the northeastern corner of the state; Zone 5 includes most of the counties covering the northwestern third of the state).

Alligator hunting on public lands is limited to Alligator Management Zone 1, the southwest corner of the state, and Zone 3, the southeast corner of the state. These permits are drawn, so some luck is involved. Alligator hunting on private land is allowed in any of the three zones, including Alligator Management Zone 2, which encompasses more than 16 counties in central and south-central Arkansas. Private Land Alligator Permits can be purchased outright.

The hunting dates for either permit include two four-day periods in mid-September. In 2023, Arkansas hunters set a record for alligator harvest, bagging 202 alligators on public and private lands.

Sevier County Fair Pageant, Talent Show entries due by July 20      07/11/24

DE QUEEN – Organizers are gearing up to present the 2024 Miss Sevier County Fair Pageant and Talent Show with a few new additions this summer.

The pageant and talent show will be held Aug. 10 at 4 p.m. in the De Queen High School Auditorium. Interviews will begin at 2 p.m.

The deadline to submit entry forms for the pageant and talent show is July 20.

Age divisions for the Sevier County Little Miss Contest include:

-Little Miss, four- to five-years-old

-Little Miss Petite, two- to three-years-old

-Little Miss Baby, 12- to 23-months-old

-Little Miss Tiny Baby, 0 to 11-months-old

Entry fee is $60 and each child will receive a memento. All entry fees are nonrefundable. The Little Miss will represent Sevier County in the District competition in Hope this September.

New this year, the Sevier County Fair Pageant will include a Senior Ms. Sevier County, Ms. Sevier County and Elite Ms. Sevier County competitions. 

These winners will represent Sevier County at the State Pageant in Little Rock in October.

Age categories for the Miss Sevier County Fair Pageant are as follows:

-Senior Miss, 56-75 years

-Miss, 35-55 years

-Elite Miss, 24-34 years

-Queen, 18-23 years

-Princess, 14-17 years

-Miss Teen, 11-13 years

-Junior Miss, 9-10 years

-Young Junior Miss, 6-8 years

If the contestant is 17 and a senior, she can enter the queen category. State Fair rules will be followed for the Queen, Junior Queen categories as well as the Junior and Senior Talent Contest. The Queen and Junior Queen will represent Sevier County at the State Fair in Little Rock. All participants in the Queen and Junior Queen contest (other than the winners) can participate in the District competition in Hope this September.

The Sevier County Talent Competition will also be held Aug. 10 beginning at 4 p.m. in the De Queen High School Auditorium. Age divisions are as follows:

-Youth Division for contestants 13 years of age or younger

-Junior Division for those 14- to 17-years-old

-Senior Division for contestants 18- to 23-years-old

-Elite Division for those aged 24 and older

Categories include vocal solo, vocal group, instrumental solo, dance solo, dance group and variety.

Contestants must legally reside in the county unless attending school in the county. A person can only represent one county. No contestants will be allowed to compete in more than two categories. Contestants must be single, never married or have had a child. Junior and Senior contestants must not have ever been convicted of any crime or have any criminal charges pending. 

Junior and Senior contestants must not have ever been married, divorced or have children. Acts must not be exceeded by a three-minute time limit and doing so will result in a five-point deduction.

Entry fee is $25 and nonrefundable. No entries will be accepted after July 20.

For questions, entry forms or more information, contact Blaire Harp by calling (870) 279-0444. More rules and information as well as entry forms can be found on the Sevier County Fair De Queen Arkansas Facebook page. 

De Queen’s new coaches visit Rotarians      07/11/24

De Queen will enter the 2024-25 school year with a number of new coaches, including six who were introduced at Monday’s meeting of the Rotary Club. Pictured from left to right are Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Richard Bell along with new coaches Jacie Engler, Bret Burgess, Trent Hale, Saleni Rojas, Adrian Mendoza and Tristan Snider.

DE QUEEN – At the July 8 De Queen Rotary Club meeting, Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Richard Bell introduced six new members to the Leopards coaching staff for the 2024-2025 school year. They include: Bret Burgess, Jacie Engler, Trent Hale, Tristan Snider, Adrian Mendoza, and Saleni Rojas.

Coach Bell opened up the meeting by explaining what he and the search committee were looking for as they sifted through applications and conducted interviews. The committee was searching for good Christian people, with knowledge of their particular sport, who would be positive role models for our young people. “We were looking for men and women that we would want our own children to be around, and we believe we’ve accomplished that with these six new coaches”, Bell said.

Bret Burgess is the new senior girls basketball coach. Coach Burgess spent ten years at De Queen before spending the last four in Nashville. “I enjoyed the people and the community here, and I jumped at the opportunity to come back”, Burgess said. Having coached several of the current Lady Leopards in Elementary P.E., Coach Burgess is familiar with most of the girls. After Team Camps this month, Coach Burgess says he’ll know more about his team. “The girls are buying into the pace and speed, and I like the direction we are headed”, added Coach Burgess.

Jacie Engler will also work with girls basketball. Coach Engler played high school basketball at Wright City as well as four years in college. She has most recently coached at Valliant.

Trent Hale will coach junior boys basketball. Coach Hale played high school ball at Fouke before attending college at Southern Arkansas University. Most recently, Coach Hale has been on the staff at James Bowie in Hughes Springs, Texas.

Tristan Snider was born and raised in De Queen and he’ll take over the Leopards Offensive Line.

After graduating from high school in 2017, the former Leopard center played college football at Coffeyville, Kansas before finishing up at Henderson State. Snider has coached the Offensive Line at Dierks the past two seasons.

Adrian Mendoza will work with the Junior High Cubs football and track squads. The former standout Leopard linebacker/fullback moved to De Queen in the second grade and graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant where he also played football.

Saleni Rojas will work with girls soccer and cross country. Coach Rojas has been a member of the De Queen faculty, but Coach Bell convinced the former Lady Leopard to give coaching a try. Coach Rojas is excited about the opportunity.

Coach Bell closed the meeting by saluting the support system at De Queen Schools. “Our Administration and School Board always put our kids first”, Bell said. Coach Bell also thanked the Rotary Club and the community for their support of Leopards Athletics.

Coach Bell was introduced by Rotarian Greg Revels, who arranged the program. Karley Snider, wife of Coach Snider and a fourth-grade teacher at De Queen Schools, was a guest at Monday’s noon meeting.

Officials remain cautiously hopeful for Sevier County hospital      07/10/24

DE QUEEN – Officials with the Sevier County Medical Center remain cautiously optimistic over the hospital’s future after concerns shared at a special quorum court meeting in April suggested it was in dire financial distress.

Hospital board member Mike Branson has taken a lead role in efforts to turn around the ailing hospital. He said the hospital is demonstrating a positive financial trend. The hospital has not posted a net loss since March and even recorded some positive net revenue in April and a $26,000 profit in May. The latest financial report for June won’t be available until later this week, but Branson is hopeful the trend will continue.

“What I expect the financials to show is a very similar pattern to what we saw in May, which I expect to be close to break-even,” said Branson. “That continues the positive trend we’ve seen over the last four or five months and that’s encouraging.”

Another encouraging sign, said Branson, is the hospital’s cash position. Officials are monitoring this factor on a day-by-day and weekly basis. Branson stressed the hospital’s current funds on hand are another promising development.

“What we’re seeing there is that we’re holding our own on cash,” he explained. “We’re not having to get a lot of contributions from outside the system. So we’re not having to approach the (Sevier County Medical Center) Foundation, we haven’t had to go back to the quorum court or anything in terms of additional financing for our debt. The good news is, we’re holding our own.”

The hospital’s increased financial position is due to a number of expense cuts enacted over the past several months. That’s in addition to steady patient loads during a particularly slow time of year for healthcare. The hospital is also emphasizing its most profitable services such as its swing-bed program.

“Patient levels at the hospital are holding up through the summer months much better than anticipated,” Branson explained. “We had a total of 44 days in our swing bed operations in the month of May, which is a good number for this time of year. All-in-all, it’s always going to be a struggle, but I’m continuing to be optimistic as we go forward that we’ll be able to make this work.”

Changes implemented since the April 2 special meeting – during which hospital officials announced the facility was in dire financial distress – included 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 full impact of all these adjustments will be seen in July and from what I’m able to tell from the financial records is that we’re on track to hit the targets we have set up,” said Branson.

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, but is exploring it as an option.

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

The Sevier County Medical Center has also benefited from a tremendous level of private donations since the hospital’s financial woes were publicly announced earlier this year. Financial help from both the county and private citizens and businesses has amounted to over $700,000. Branson said that 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 are continuing to provide the community with quality healthcare services.

“As we got into this pinch on cash, we identified that there are two elements you have to achieve to be successful. One is you have to be stable financially, and at that point we were not. And then you have to provide excellent healthcare to the community and we were not short on that,” he explained.

“We are doing very well on the quality of our healthcare. It’s not perfect, but you can’t afford perfect – it’s too expensive. The thing I’ve been most impressed with as they’ve had to deal with these challenges we’ve thrown at them with pay cuts, benefit cuts and reduced workforces, they’ve really stepped up. They’ve done that because they’re really committed to wanting to see our hospital be successful in the community.”

Despite the reductions in hospital expenses, Branson said the quality of care remains the same.

“We haven’t seen any change or disruption, and if anything it’s as good or better than before,” he said. “To me, the employees are the ones who stand out as the heroes in this process. Without them, we have no chance of being successful. Their willingness to step up has allowed us to stabilize the ship and given us a great platform to go on and be successful.”

Branson said the most critical factor in the hospital’s success remains its use by the community.

“That’s our hospital out there and if we don’t use it, we’ll lose it,” he said. “When there’s a need, that’s where we want people going because they’ll get great healthcare when they do.”

The Sevier County Quorum Court, in conjunction with the hospital’s board of governors, has launched 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. The proposal was scheduled for a vote at this past Monday’s quorum court meeting. However, the issue was tabled to allow officials more time to explore the implications of transitioning to a non-profit status.

The quorum court did approve the appointment of Manya Wood to the Sevier County Board of Governors. She replaces Jeff Tollett, who had announced his resignation. Branson said the board is pleased to include Wood in its oversight and administration of the hospital.

“We hate to see Jeff leave but we’re delighted to see Manya step up and take that position on,” said Branson. “She brings a broad legal background which is one of the skills that will help us as we work through some of the legal challenges we have in front of us over the next 12 to 18 months. She’s well-respected in the community and seems very interested and willing to contribute, so we’re excited to have her.”

Sevier County DYB 10&U are state champs, off to World Series      07/10/24

Congratulations are in order for the Sevier County Dixie Youth Baseball 10U team after earning the DII State Championship in Arkadelphia this past weekend. The team won its first game against Magnet Cove 13-3, its second game against Camden 17-3 and the final also against Camden 11-2. The Sevier County DYB 10U will now go on to the World Series July 25-30 in Bossier City, La. Players in the front row from left to right are Keaton Harder, Kade Denton, Cooper Willis, Alexander McCoy, Drew Parson, Canton Tollett and Kizzer Barfield. In the middle row are Noah Herron, Blake Willis, Jordan Williams and Kirk Miles. In the back row are coaches Jason Parson, Bo Harder and Ned McCoy. (Photo submitted by Kyle Willis)

Sevier County Fair Association to host Summer Extravaganza this weekend      07/10/24

DE QUEEN – Local youth livestock exhibitors will have a chance to compete ahead of next month’s Sevier County Fair and Rodeo during this weekend’s Second Annual Summer Extravaganza Livestock Show.

The Summer Extravaganza takes place July 12-13 at the Sevier County Fairgrounds with a pig show on Friday and a lamb and goat show Saturday. Cards are due by 6 p.m. before each show, which begin at 7 p.m. both nights. Late entry is $40 in addition to a $30 per head ABL and Natural State fee.

The goat show is sanctioned with the Natural State Show Goat while the lamb show is sanctioned with the Arkansas Junior Sheep Council.

For more information, contact Christy Lee by calling (903) 908-4080.

Jerald Cooper winner of De Queen Library canned food-drive contest      07/10/24

Jerald Cooper of Horatio was the winner of the canned food-drive competition hosted by the De Queen Library in June. He won the Yeti cooler along with a number of other outdoors-themed prizes. The library collected more than 300 items weighing more than 200 pounds during the drive to donate to the De Queen-based Chalice Cupboard.

Rabbit Workshop this weekend at fairgrounds      07/10/24

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Fair Association will present a Rabbit Workshop this Saturday, July 13.

The workshop will take place at 10 a.m. in the education building at the Sevier County Fairgrounds.

Anyone with a meat rabbit they plan on showing at next month’s fair is required to bring it for identification and a picture for the Premium Sale. If your rabbit needs to be tattooed, please bring it as well.

Organizers will be discussing rabbit showmanship, new rules for the fair and assisting with fair registration.

For more information, contact Linda Frachiseur by calling (870) 584-9592.

June weather summary for listening area      07/10/24

DE QUEEN – During the month of June, KDQN recorded measurable precipitation on eight of the 30 days.

The total rainfall amount for the month totaled 3.65 inches. The total precipitation for the first half of 2024 is 29.99 inches. The hottest temperature recorded in June was 96 degrees on the afternoon of June 24.

The coldest temperature recorded during the month was 61 degrees on the morning of June 6.

KDQN is the official reporting station for the National Weather Service in De Queen.

Sevier County Fair to again include hay decorating contest      07/10/24

DE QUEEN – A feature debuted for the first time at last year’s Sevier County Fair and Rodeo is returning this year thanks to popular demand.

Organizers will host the Second Annual Hay Decorating Contest during the 2024 Sevier County Fair and Rodeo. scheduled for Aug. 10-17 at the Sevier County Fairgrounds.

Local businesses, churches, groups and individuals are invited to take part and try their hand at decorating a hay bale to display throughout the fair. Entry fee is $25 and includes the hay bale. Participants must decorate their bales with an agriculture theme.

Winners will receive $500 donated by Martha Bush in memory of Alan Bush.

For more information and to enter, call (870) 584-8809.

Hurricane Beryl expected to bring rain, potentially severe weather to SWAR      07/08/24

DE QUEEN – The region is bracing for some potentially severe weather today and into Tuesday after a hurricane made landfall in Texas early Monday morning.

Hurricane Beryl reached the Texas coast earlier this morning as a Category 1 storm. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Beryl to turn to the northeast and move over Arkansas beginning here in the southwest corner. Beryl will weaken into a tropical depression by the time it enters the state.

Winds will reach 30 mph with gusts as high as 40 mph. The main threat from this system is severe weather and specifically tornadoes. It’s common for the remnants of a tropical system to spawn short-lived tornadoes.

The Storm Prediction Center has parts of Arkansas under a level 2 low risk for severe weather Monday afternoon into Tuesday morning. They have much of the state under a level 1 very low risk. Miller County and eastern Little River County, as well as the extreme southeast corner of Sevier, are under a level 2 risk.

In the risk area, the main threat is tornadoes. According to the National Weather Service, the last time a tropical system moved over Arkansas it spawned 8 tornadoes.

The National Weather Service has issued both a flood watch and wind advisory for the listening area ahead of the expected tropical depression. The flood watch continues through 3 p.m. on Tuesday while the expected strong winds should subside by late tonight or early Tuesday morning.

Rain totals of four inches are possible across our listening area.

Chances for rain are 90 percent through Monday night and 70 percent on Tuesday. The storm system will drop temperatures into the 80s today and tomorrow before summer returns in full swing later this week.

Local museum plans “Day of Awareness” for this Thursday      07/08/24

DE QUEEN – A young man known for his local community service projects is taking his passion for volunteerism to the Sevier County Museum in hopes of bringing more attention to the organization tasked with preserving the history of Sevier County.

Ethan Wolcott is helping organize the first annual 2024 Sevier County Museum Day of Awareness. The community is invited to come by the museum between 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, July 11.

Wolcott developed the idea to host a museum “Day of Awareness” while serving as an intern at the Sevier County Museum over the summer. Wolcott discovered during his internship that too many people in the community were unaware of the services provided by the museum – or that De Queen even had a museum.

I was coming across so many people that didn’t know where the museum was and some that didn’t even know we had one,” he said. “We have this fantastic museum right over by Herman Dierks Park and there’s so much history inside it. Mrs. Karen Mills, the museum director, works so hard and does a fantastic job. I went to her one day and said, hey, we have this fantastic museum and so many people can gain so much for it. So, let’s put on a big event to showcase everything it has to offer.”

Everyone is invited to visit the museum on July 11 for a come-and-go evening of museum tours, historical exhibits, refreshments, door prizes and more. Wolcott hopes everyone will come away with a greater appreciation of Sevier County and its history.

I thought I was pretty up on Sevier County history, but when I started interning at the museum I realized there was so much more fascinating history to our county and its people,” he said. “I think everyone who takes the time to visit the museum, checks out the great exhibits it has, will gain a greater sense of pride and appreciation for our history and the efforts by the museum to preserve it.”

Wolcott hopes the event is such a success that it becomes a new tradition in Sevier County.

It’s new and we’re just starting it this year to see how it goes,” said Wolcott. “ We’ll see how it goes and hopefully continue it for years to come. Hopefully it’s a big success because the museum thrives on community participation and there is so much there for the community. Whether you just want to go by yourself and look up some local history or take the whole family by for the day, there’s something for everyone at the museum. I think this county can go to some amazing places, but to go to those amazing places we have to see the great strides we’ve already made.”

The Sevier County Museum is locate at 717 North Maple Street in De Queen, next to Herman Dierks Park. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Call Museum Director Karen Mills at (870) 784-0039 for more information.

Recognizing a long career in public service      07/08/24

Friends, family and the City of De Queen hosted a retirement ceremony on June 28 for outgoing De Queen City Clerk/Treasurer Donna Jones. Jones, pictured seated int he front row and holding a plaque, served in the elected office for the past 24 years.

DE QUEEN – One of the longest-serving elected officials in the history of De Queen officially retired last month.

Donna Jones wrapped up her 24th year as the City Clerk/Treasurer for the City of De Queen with a retirement ceremony held in her honor on June 28. Dozens of Jones’ friends, family members and coworkers filled city hall to reminisce and share their farewells.

At 24 years, Jones is the longest-serving city clerk for the City of De Queen since it adopted its current form of municipal governance in 1903. During her time she’s worked alongside five mayors. She’s signed more than city 800 resolutions and 300 ordinances over the years.

I think it went way too fast and I didn’t quite realize how much we’ve actually accomplished,” said Jones. “I’ve seen the four-lane come to Collin Raye, redone the water plant and the sewer plant, worked with five mayors and hundreds of wonderful city employees who are like family now,” she said.

Donna Jones has worked with five mayors during her 24 years as clerk for the City of De Queen. Mayor Jeff Brown said she was instrumental in helping him settle into the office when he was elected back in 2018.

Jones said she feels fortunate to have had the ability to serve the citizens of De Queen while helping to make the community stronger over the past two and a half decades. 

I’ve had two other jobs besides this one and this one has been my passion,” said Jones. “I love our community, I love to see the growth and improvements in De Queen and I think we have many more great things in store for the future. We have a fabulous community and it has been my true joy and privilege to serve our citizens. It has been an honor to be here and try and help in any way I can.”

De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said Jones’ knowledge with city governance was instrumental when he was elected mayor in 2018.

We got along pretty good since I’ve taken over the office,” he said. “In the last five and a half years, she’s been invaluable to me. I came in not knowing much about what went through [the mayor’s] office and without her I’m not sure I would have made it. Anything I’ve ran into that I needed help with, she was there. In 24 years, you see a lot of things and she was always ready to help guide me when I needed it. We wish her well and hope she visits often to have coffee and make sure everything is going as good as she left it.”

Jones said she plans to travel during her retirement and reacquaint with family and friends. Heather Bruce, who has worked closely with Jones over the past several years, was appointed to complete Jones’ term during Tuesday night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council. Since city clerk is a local municipal position, Bruce will be able to seek election to the position when it opens in 2026 as allowed by state law.

Collins takes reigns as new De Queen Rotary president      07/08/24

Michael Collins will serve as the 2024-25 president of the De Queen Rotary Club. He is an agent for Sevier County Farm Bureau and also serves as youth minister for the De Queen Church of Christ.

DE QUEEN – At the July 1 De Queen Rotary Club meeting, incoming president Michael Collins addressed Rotarians about plans and goals for the 2024-2025 year.

Collins is an insurance agent at Sevier County Farm Bureau. He also serves as Youth Minister at the De Queen Church of Christ. Besides Rotary, Michael volunteers as the public address announcer at Leopard Stadium for football games, as well as p.a. work for Lady Leopards softball.

The club’s mission statement for the coming year is: “Progress in the Process”. Collins said, “These words are a testament to our commitment to growth, learning, and forward movement for our club here in De Queen. They reflect our dedication to not only maintaining the strong foundation that has been laid over the past century but also to build upon it with vision, purpose, and unity.”

Collins plans to incorporate “Rotary Education Days” into some of the club meetings this year to give the members the opportunity to learn more about the organization they serve and so that club guests have an insight into Rotary and its missions.

Collins welcomed the newer club members to a family that is deeply rooted in service, fellowship, and excellence. “Your journey with De Queen Rotary is as enriching as you make it. We are here to support you, guide you, and learn from you”, Collins said.

To the veteran club members, Collins added: “Your experience, wisdom, and dedication have been the bedrock of our success. We look to you to share your stories, your knowledge, and your passion with our newer members.”

Collins concluded by encouraging the membership to let their actions speak louder than words this year as we strive to make a lasting impact on our community and world.

Collins will induct the 2024-2025 board members at the July 15 meeting.

City of Lockesburg to host public meeting over outdoor opportunities      07/08/24

LOCKESBURG – The City of Lockesburg will host a public meeting this week to seek comment on priorities for enhancing its outdoor opportunities.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 9 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center.

City officials said the purpose of the meeting is to identify potential outdoor park and recreation needs and priorities within the City of Lockesburg. Following the identification process, city officials will select those priorities to be submitted to the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism for a Fun Park Grant application.

Ethnic minorities, persons with special needs, elderly persons over 55 and special interest groups are encouraged to attend and participate.

For those unable to attend the meeting, they may phone (870) 687-2204 to submit oral comments. Written comments may be submitted to the City of Lockesburg, P.O. Box 14, Lockesburg, AR 71846.

Sevier County Quorum Court to meet today      07/08/24

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet in regular session beginning at two this afternoon.

Items on the agenda include a report on the Sevier County Medical Center’s financials, operational statistics and a general update for June.

The quorum court is also scheduled to hear reports from the Sevier County Airport and Southwest EMS.

Under new business, justices of the peace will vote on the confirmation of Manya Wood to the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.

The Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors will also present a proposal to convert the Sevier County Medical Center to a 501(c)3 non-profit critical access hospital.

Under old business, the quorum court will host the third part of a series of informational discussions hosted by Justice of the Peace Angie Walker regarding the proposed critical access hospital designation.

The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. today in the conference room of the Sevier County Courthouse and is open to the public.

Horatio Back-to-School Bash later this month      07/08/24

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary School is making members of the Lions Family aware of its annual Back-to-School Bash later this month.

The event will take place from 4-7 p.m. on Aug. 8 at the elementary school. The Back-to-School Bash will include new student orientation as well as meet the teacher sessions.

In addition, the Horatio School District is releasing the following parent orientation nights for Horatio High School:

-Monday, July 22 from 5-7 p.m. for students entering seventh and eighth grades.

-Tuesday, July 23 from 5-7 p.m. for students entering ninth and 10th grades.

-And Thursday, July 25 from 5-7 p.m. for students entering 11th and 12th grades.

For more information call (870) 832-1940 or visit www.horatioschools.org.

LIHEAP summer utility assistance begins July 8      06/27/24

DE QUEEN – The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas are reminding Arkansans that financial assistance for their electricity bills will soon be available.

Starting July 8, on a first-come first served basis, residential households can apply for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through the network community-based action agencies that serve the county in which they live in. The participating agency for Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties is the Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC). The organization’s website is www.cadc.com.

LIHEAP – a federal block grant program – is designed to lower the energy burden for low-income households, who pay a high proportion of household income for home energy costs, by paying benefits for home energy bills. The program assists households with both heating costs during the winter and cooling costs during the summer.

Arkansas LIHEAP offers two types of benefit payments:

  1. Regular: A one-time payment based on the household income and the number of household members.
  2. Crisis: A one-time payment if you are facing disconnection, have a past due balance or the bill is prepaid for less than seven days.

During the 2023 summer program 44,278 Arkansans were served while 46,121 were served during the 2023 winter program according to the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment (ADEE).

A total of $27 million was allocated to this year’s program and ADEE said about half was spent during the winter program.

The following chart can help determine if a household is eligible for LIHEAP assistance: https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/energy/initiatives/pdfs/LIHEAP_Eligibility_Chart.pdf

Households can find their community-based organization to apply for LIHEAP here: https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/energy/assistance/caad.aspx

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides various services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately600,000 members, or customers, in Arkansas and surrounding states.

Conference changes ahead of 2024-25 school year      06/27/24

DE QUEEN – This is an even numbered year which means the Arkansas Activities Association is starting a new two-year cycle of classifications and conferences for the state’s high school athletic teams.

Fans of a certain age can probably recall when the conferences rarely changed. That is not the current situation. Each cycle brings multiple instances of schools moving from conference to conference as well as from classification to classification. It all depends on the attendance figures compiled during the previous cycle. 

There was a time when schools had one conference for all sports. Now some schools have two leagues, and some three.

The Arkansas Activities Association has six classifications. Football is unique. It has a class 7A, but no class 1A. Football also has the classification with the fewest members. Class 7A football has only 16 schools.

The basketball classifications are wider reaching. They include the sports of cross country, tennis and golf in the fall and softball, baseball and track and field in the spring.

Soccer, which began with a limited number of participants, has its own classification system. With its extremely rapid growth in the last few years, the classifications are constantly changing.

De Queen’s soccer conference, the AAAA South, is losing a member while getting bigger. The 4A South will continue to contain: De Queen, Nashville, Hope, Arkadelphia, Malvern, Mena and Bauxite. Morrilton will no longer be a member. That school is moving to the AAAA West, a more geographically correct assignment.

Two soccer novice schools are joining the AAAA South. Magnolia had a JV team last year but will play varsity this cycle. Camden Fairview, which has never fielded soccer teams, is also on the conference list.

In contrast to soccer, De Queen’s basketball conference is shrinking. Class AAAA is moving from six leagues of eight teams to eight leagues of six teams. The 7AAAA conference has lost the teams at the extremes. Ashdown on the southwest edge is dropping to class AAA. Malvern on the northeast edge is moving to a conference which is centered in the central part of the state. The six remaining schools are De Queen, Nashville, Hope, Magnolia, Camden Fairview and Arkadelphia.

De Queen football will remain a member of the 5A South along with Hope, Camden Fairview, Magnolia, Texarkana, Hot Springs, Hot Springs Lakeside and Little Rock Parkview. Horatio will be in two conferences, 3A football and 2A everything else. Both are far flung leagues. The Lions’ football loop will include: Bauxite, Centerpoint, Fouke, Harmony Grove (near Camden), Parkers Chapel, Prescott and Smackover.

Horatio’s basketball conference will have long time close-by rivals such as Foreman, Dierks, Murfreesboro and not so near-by Spring Hill and Caddo Hills. Also on the list are two Garland County schools: Mountain Pine, located northwest of Hot Springs, and Cutter-Morning Star, located east of the Spa City.

De Queen boys attend Lake Hamilton Basketball Camp      06/27/24

The De Queen boys basketball team concluded the pre-dead weeks portion of the summer schedule with a trip to Lake Hamilton’s camp June 17-18.

As with everything at Lake Hamilton, the camp was big. It attracted schools from a wide swath of Arkansas plus at least one from Oklahoma. De Queen’s foes came from as close as Broken Bow and as far away as Clinton, located in the Ozarks north of Conway. It was a good trip for the Leopards.

Last year I did not know what to expect. This time I had expectations of how we would play on offense,” said De Queen coach Logan Lindly. “We exceeded those expectations. They can put the ball in the hole.”

With all the usual summer activities going on, it is not unusual for some players to be missing. De Queen was not at full strength, especially the first day of camp when only eight Leopards were present.

We played six games on Monday,” Lindly noted. “We were tired. We could not explode like we wanted to, but still shot the ball well. And we still played well Tuesday. I asked them to see the bigger picture and they did that.”

Even Kaden Lindly, who discovered talents in the grueling 800 meter race in his first year of track last spring, was showing fatigue by the end of the six game day.

Last season the De Queen team was predominantly sophomores. The coach saw evidence of growth. “I was impressed with Konnor Shelton. He’s a confident player. He finished the year really well and has taken his game to another level,” said Lindly.

Jake Martin shot well. He has been putting in the work. We play through him. He made good decisions.” Martin also takes up more space in the paint, now tipping the scales at 190.

Two newcomers showed promise. Alex Perez was ineligible last year but played on the JV team. “Alex can bring the ball up floor. He’s a smart, good player,” the coach said.

Also new is Brayam Salaites, a transfer from Umpire, a guard who can handle the ball.

Sam Graham, the tallest Leopard at 6-4, is expected to provide senior leadership. “He’s the most experienced. He has started since he was a sophomore. He shot well too,” the coach said. “We are going to use his height advantage.”

I’m pleased with what I saw. Offense should not be a problem,” Lindly said. “The kids have really improved their game IQ. They did a good job shooting the ball, made good reads. We’ll mix and match depending on who we play. We can always improve on defensive rebounding. Working on our new defense with reps will get that done.”

When workouts resume in July after the dead weeks, the football players on the team will focus on the gridiron. The basketball specialists will have two more camps during the summer, one at Mena and one at Dierks. Both will be one day events.

July 4 holiday closings      06/27/24

DE QUEEN – Local government offices, banks and some businesses are announcing closures ahead of the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

That includes the Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill, which will both close on July 4 in observance of the nation’s birthday. Both facilities will reopen on Friday, July 5 with regular hours.

De Queen City Hall will also be closed on July 4. The municipal trash schedule for the week of July 1 will be as follows:

-Monday and Tuesday will remain the same

-Thursday will be picked up on Wednesdays

-Friday will remain the same

The KDQN 92.1 FM Studios and De Queen Bee offices will both be closed on July 4 and July 5 in observance of the holiday.

Workshop to help Sevier County churches counter active shooter threat      06/26/24

DE QUEEN – Local emergency responders are hosting a planning meeting Thursday evening to help prepare Sevier County churches for something they will hopefully never experience: an active shooting incident.

Over the past several years the Family Research Council (FRC) – a Christian-based, activist non-profit – has tracked acts of hostility against churches in the United States. Between January 2018 and November 2023, the organization identified at least 915 acts of hostility. These included vandalism, arson, gun-related incidents, bomb threats and other acts of violence.

A FRC study claims 436 of those incidents occurred in 2023 – more than double the number identified in 2022 and eight times those in 2018. And that’s just counting churches – hostility against synagogues, mosques, Sikh temples and other houses of worship are also on the rise, according to the federal government.

While these are the kind of acts no one would imagine occurring in Sevier County, they’re not something local authorities want to ignore. That’s especially the case after last Friday’s devastating mass shooting in Fordyce that left four people dead and another 10 injured.

Local officials will host the meeting in an effort to help local churches prepare for the worst of violent threats: an active shooter incident. The meeting is scheduled to begin this Thursday, June 27 at 6 p.m. in the conference room of the Sevier County Courthouse. At this stage of the planning only church leaders – pastors, ministers, preachers and deacons – are invited to attend.

Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry is one of the organizers of this effort and said tonight’s meeting will be an informal discussion between church leaders and local law enforcement agencies.

“What we’re wanting to discuss is, planning an active shooter class for the churches,” he said. “This is kind of a sit down meeting to let our churches know that we can offer this class to them if they’re interested.”

Gentry said the sheriff’s office would be available to host the class at a particular church to provide specific strategies for dealing with an active shooter incident.

“It’s hard to decide what to do at a church, safety-wise, unless you’re actually there,” he said. “If they’re interested we can go tour the church, see how it’s set up and help them put a safety plan in place.”

Gentry said this process was initiated after requests from some local churches.

“It was brought to our attention by a local church who suggested we needed to talk a little about this,” said Gentry. “Through that conversation we decided we’d do something county-wide for all the churches that this service is here, we don’t mind doing it and it’s free.”

By hosting an active shooter class, Gentry said local law enforcement will also get a better idea of how to respond to incidents at specific churches.

“It also gives us an opportunity to go to different churches, see the layout and get a better idea of what we’re walking into if something occurs,” said Gentry. “It’s very similar to what we do at our local schools. We just hope it helps us and our churches prepare for something that never happens. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

For more information on tonight’s class and how to get a local church involved, contact Sevier County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Matt Webb by calling (870) 582-5278.

Bond denied for suspect in Fordyce mass shooting      06/26/24

Travis Eugene Posey, 44, is charged with four counts of capital murder and 10 counts of attempted capital murder after the mass shooting incident in Fordyce on June 21. (Photo provided by Ouachita County Detention Center)

FORDYCE – Bond was denied on Tuesday for the man suspected of a deadly mass shooting in Fordyce last Friday that left four people dead and 10 injured.

Travis Eugene Posey, 44, entered pleas of not guilty in the Ouachita Couty Circuit Court on Tuesday to four counts of capital murder and ten charges of attempted capital murder. The charges stem from an incident at the Mad Butcher grocery store in Fordyce on June 21. Posey allegedly shot and killed four people and injured another 10, including two Fordyce police officers. Posey was taken into custody after he was wounded while exchanging gunfire with responding authorities.

According to reporting by KDQN’s sister station in Camden, KCXY, Tuesday’s court hearing was conducted under strict security measures and was closed tot he general public. Metal detectors and handheld wand scans were used to ensure security in the courtroom. The presiding judge emphasized the need for decorum given the fresh wounds and high emotions surrounding the case.

The small community of Fordyce, population just 3,200, has been in mourning following the senseless act. Officials have called the incident the worst day in the town’s history. Many of the victims reportedly knew each other, leaving survivors and the entire town devastated at the loss.

Posey faces severe penalties, including the death penalty or life without parole if convicted of capital murder. The four people murdered on June 21 include: 23-year-old Callie Weems, 50-year-old Roy Sturgis, 62-year-old Shirley Taylor and 81-year-old Ellen Shrum. Weems, a trained nurse, initially provided medical treatment to one of the shooting victims at the scene when she was fatally shot.

Authorities said Posey was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, a pistol and a bandolier with dozens of shells. He reportedly opened fire first in the parking lost before entering the store and firing “indiscriminately” at those inside. He was subdued minutes after the shooting began after he was wounded by responding officers.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, but authorities said the possible motive behind it remained unclear, with ASP Colonel Mike Hagar calling it “just a completely random, senseless act.”

Posey, who resides in New Edinburg 12 miles southeast of Fordyce, is the owner of a trucking and tree service business. Authorities said his criminal background is nearly “nonexistent.” He was arrested in 2011 after attempting to carry a pistol into New York’s Fort Drum while he was making a delivery as a truck driver. He voluntarily told security at the gate that he had an unloaded pistol in his possession, leading to his arrest and a $200 fine.

Area teachers earn merit-based bonuses through LEARNS Act      06/26/24

DE QUEEN – A number of educators in the area are set to receive substantial bonuses this month for their skills in the classroom.

On Tuesday, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Arkansas Secretary of Education Jacob Oliva announced that 3,000 teachers will be the recipients of the Merit Teacher Incentive Fund Program, giving up to $10,000 in bonuses to these educators.

The bonus program was established through the LEARNS Act and awards educators with bonuses ranging from $1,500 all the way up to $10,000 and will be made available for distribution by the end of the month. Qualifying teachers demonstrated outstanding growth in student performance, served as a mentor to aspiring teachers who participated in yearlong residencies, and/or taught in a subject, geographical, or designation area experiencing a critical teacher shortage.

Approximately 16 percent of De Queen teachers are expected to receive one of these state-supported bonuses. The average award is $3,548.

In the Horatio School District, 4.3 percent of teachers will receive a bonus averaging $5,333.

Other districts in the region set to receive bonuses for their teachers include:

-Cossatot River, 4.8 percent of teachers averaging $3,500

-Ashdown, 7.4 percent averaging $4,357

-Dierks, 5.2 percent averaging $2,667

-Foreman, 12.3 percent averaging $4,071

-Mineral Springs, 1.5 percent averaging $1,500

-Nashville, 8.2 percent averaging $3,464

During the June meeting of the De Queen School Board, Superintendent Jason Sanders said the high percentage of teachers receiving a bonus under the program is a testament to the district’s teachers.

We’ve got a great group of educators especially in our critical areas like math and science and I think these numbers reflect that,” said Sanders. “This is a great way to give these teachers a pat on the back and an added bonus is that this is entirely paid for by the state.”

Horatio Superintendent Gayla Youngblood echoed those sentiments.

This really goes to show you how hard these teachers work in their classrooms for our students,” she said.

Governor Sanders signed the LEARNS Act into law last March, raising starting teacher salaries from $36,000 to $50,000 – from 48th in the nation to first when adjusted for cost of living – providing up to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave for teachers, and launching the Merit Teacher Incentive Fund Program.

Great education starts with great teachers. That’s why one of my first acts as governor was to raise teacher pay across the board and reward our best educators,” said Governor Sanders. “This year’s merit bonuses will incentivize teachers to continue tackling our state’s toughest assignments and help every Arkansas student thrive.”

We know for a fact that the teacher in the classroom has the biggest impact on student learning,” Secretary Oliva said. “The best educators deserve recognition for their excellence, and we are proud to recognize these educators for demonstrating a commitment to learning and ensuring their students succeed in the future.”

To identify recipients, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education used data collected through the Statewide Information System, the Educator Effectiveness System, the Arkansas Educator Licensure System, and student state assessment data.

For more details regarding districts where teachers received merit pay bonuses, visit learns.ade.arkansas.gov

Dierks woman pleads guilty to booster club theft      06/25/24

DIERKS – A Dierks woman has pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from her school’s booster club during her time as the organization’s treasurer.

Kaci Quinn, 40, entered the guilty plea on June 21 in the Howard County Circuit Court before Judge Tom Cooper.

Quinn had been charged with two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card or debit card and one count of theft of property. As part of her plea bargain, the two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card were dropped.

Quinn embezzled funds from the Dierks Booster Club while serving as the club treasurer from January 2022 until January 2023. The missing funds were discovered in January of last year and an investigation was initiated by a special agent with the Arkansas State Police.

According to the affidavit, booster club funds were being transferred to the personal account of Kaci Quinn. Those funds were allegedly used to pay Quinn’s personal credit card bills. Investigators also accused Quinn of using stolen funds to purchase personal items from Amazon, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and other department stores. Some of the items reportedly purchased were baby formula, baby clothing and beer.

In all, investigators found approximately $52,000 in missing funds from the Dierks Booster Club.

Quinn has been sentenced to 120 days already served in jail as well as five years probation. She was also ordered to pay $1,500 in fines in addition to court costs and restitution totaling $28,000.

LIHEAP application period opens July 8      06/25/24

DE QUEEN – The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas are reminding Arkansans that financial assistance for their electricity bills will soon be available.

Starting July 8, on a first-come first served basis, residential households can apply for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through the network community-based action agencies that serve the county in which they live in. The participating agency for Sevier, Little River and Howard Counties is the Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC). The organization’s website is www.cadc.com.

LIHEAP – a federal block grant program – is designed to lower the energy burden for low-income households, who pay a high proportion of household income for home energy costs, by paying benefits for home energy bills. The program assists households with both heating costs during the winter and cooling costs during the summer.

Arkansas LIHEAP offers two types of benefit payments:

  1. Regular: A one-time payment based on the household income and the number of household members.
  2. Crisis: A one-time payment if you are facing disconnection, have a past due balance or the bill is prepaid for less than seven days.

During the 2023 summer program 44,278 Arkansans were served while 46,121 were served during the 2023 winter program according to the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment (ADEE).

A total of $27 million was allocated to this year’s program and ADEE said about half was spent during the winter program.

The following chart can help determine if a household is eligible for LIHEAP assistance: https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/energy/initiatives/pdfs/LIHEAP_Eligibility_Chart.pdf

Households can find their community-based organization to apply for LIHEAP here: https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/energy/assistance/caad.aspx

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides various services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately600,000 members, or customers, in Arkansas and surrounding states.

City of De Queen reminds residents of fireworks ordinance      06/25/24

DE QUEEN – Just in time for the Fourth of July, the City of De Queen is reminding the public of the City’s rules surrounding fireworks and when they can be enjoyed.

The use of fireworks in the city limits is prohibited except on July 4 as well as the day before and the day after the holiday. Fireworks can only be shot or exploded between 11 a.m. and midnight on those three days. The city, however, prohibits the lighting of any aerial firework attached to a stick, commonly referred to as a bottle rocket, or any other similar device.

In addition, city officials are reminding the public that it is illegal to deploy fireworks on private property without the property owner’s consent. Deploying fireworks on city-owned property is also illegal, unless they are being used by the city for a public display. That includes De Queen’s 26th annual Freedom Fest, scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3 at the Sportsplex. The fireworks show is scheduled for after dark.

Illegal use of fireworks in De Queen is punishable by a fine up to $200 as well as possible community service.

Finally, the city prohibits the sale of fireworks within the city limits. Stands are beginning to open up on the edges of town as allowed under state law.

Sevier County has no specific regulations in regards to fireworks; however, county residents are reminded that a 2021 noise ordinance prohibits any “loud and disturbing noises” between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between midnight and 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

This is also a good time to go over some fireworks safety reminders. According to the National Safety Council, thousands of people are injured each year due to fireworks, which also start an average of 18,500 fires each year.

Some safety tips to always keep in mind include:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks, and older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
  • And, just to be safe, never use illegal fireworks

Fordyce mourns after four killed, 20 injured in mass shooting      06/24/24

FORDYCE – The community of Fordyce in South Central Arkansas is mourning the victims of a mass shooting on Friday and processing what led the suspect to commit what has been described as the worst day in the town’s history.

On Friday, a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Fordyce, which is located southwest of Pine Bluff. The gunman was subdued by authorities minutes after the shooting began but not before four people were killed and another 10 injured.

On Sunday, June 23, 2024, Arkansas State Police Colonel Mike Hagar briefed the media on the latest developments related to a Fordyce grocery store shooting that occurred Friday, June 21, 2024.

An additional victim from the shooting was identified late Saturday, bringing the total number of people injured from gunfire to 15. People injured from gunfire included 12 civilians, two law enforcement officers and the suspect.

Those killed in the shooting were all civilians. They were:
Shirley Taylor, 62
Callie Weems, 23
Roy Sturgis, 50
Ellen Shrum, 81

Five female and three male civilians, ranging in age from 20 to 65, survived injuries sustained in the shooting. Five of those individuals remain hospitalized, including a woman who is in critical condition at UAMS in Little Rock. Three of the injured civilians were treated and released from the Dallas County Medical Center on Friday.

Six officers working for the Fordyce Police Department and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office were on the scene during the incident. Four additional Fordyce Police officers and an off-duty officer employed by the Stuttgart Police Department arrived on scene after the suspect was taken into custody.

Jacob Murry, 26, an officer who serves both the Fordyce Police Department and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, was treated Friday for minor injuries related to gunfire. Fordyce Police Officer James Johnson, 31, was released from a Little Rock hospital Saturday evening after being treated for a gunshot wound.

Stuttgart Police Officer John Hudson, 24, received minor injuries unrelated to gunfire. He rendered medical aid to an injured individual after the incident had concluded. Hudson was previously incorrectly included as an officer with injuries related to gunfire.

Suspect Travis Eugene Posey, 44, of New Edinburg, will be charged with four counts of Capital Murder. Additional charges are pending. He was treated for non-life-threatening injuries after exchanging gunfire with law enforcement. Posey was released to ASP custody and transported to the Ouachita County Detention Center, where he remains.

A motive behind the shooting remains unclear at this time. ASP’s Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the shooting.

Sevier County Block Party goes to Lockesburg this Tuesday      06/24/24

LOCKESBURG – The Sevier County Block Party Committee will host its second event of the summer this Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Ida Margaret Coulter Stone Park in Lockesburg.

The whole community is invited to come by for an evening of free food, fun, games and fun for the whole family. Organizers invite all area churches, organizations and businesses to get involved in this and other block party events scheduled this year.

The Lockesburg Block Party is co-sponsored by Houser Family Medial and Schroer Medical. De Queen Auto Group is generously donating a bike for all three remaining block parties

Come out for hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn, lemonade and more at the park in Lockesburg. The event will also include a Little Debbie eating contest in both a youth and adult division.

Additional events include at the Horatio City Park on July 30 and the Gillham Fire Department on Aug. 27. Organizers will also support and assist with the National Night Out in De Queen on Aug. 6.

The Sevier County Block Party was started by Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry, Jail Administrator Chris Wolcott and others with the sheriff’s office in 2018 to help foster stronger relations between Sevier County’s communities and the law enforcement agencies that serve them.

For more information visit the Sevier County Block Party Committee on Facebook.

Sevier County 4-H’ers attend District O’Rama      06/24/24

By Kim Frachiseur/Sevier County Extension

Sevier County 4-H’ers competed against 4-H’ers from across the state at the District 4-H O’Rama at Malvern High School on June 19. Pictured in the front row from left to right are Landon Tabler, Asher Frachiseur and Wayland Risley. In the back row are Madison Tabler, Emily Stamps, Evan Wolcott, Chip Stamps, Jacob Seymour, John Moe, Charlie Collins and Zae-Lei Frachiseur.

MALVERN – Sevier County 4-H’ers competed against 4-H’ers from across the state at the District 4-H O’Rama at Malvern High School on June 19. To qualify for district level, they had to compete at the local County 4-H O’Rama.

The winners in the Senior Division (ages 14-19) were as follows:

Jacob Seymour placed first in Animal Science, Zae-Lei Frachiseur placed first in Wildlife, Evan Wolcott placed third in Wildlife, John Moe placed fourt in Sports Fishing & Bait Casting, Chip Stamps placed sixth in Sports Fishing & Bait Casting, and Charlie Collins placed eighth in Gun Safety.

All first through seventh place senior winners are eligible to compete and represent Sevier County at the State 4-H O’Rama to be held at the University of Arkansas Campus in Fayetteville in July.

Junior Division (ages 9-13) winners were as follows:

Madison Tabler placed first in Performing Arts-Instrumental, Wayland Risley placed third in Wildlife and Asher Frachiseur placed fourth in Sports Fishing & Bait Casting.

Also recognized at District O’Rama are District winning Record Books. Record Keeping is part of the overall 4-H experience, and a record book is an important part of completing each project. It is a written history of a 4-H’ers project work and a narrative of their success and learning in 4-H. Record Books are judged at a local level, district level, and state level.

Beginner Category (ages 9-12) winners were as follows:

Rebecca Trauger in Foods & Nutrition, Madison Tabler in Music, and Leighton Frachiseur in Animal Science.

Intermediate Category (ages 13-15) winners were as follows:

Evan Wolcott in Wildlife Management, Ty Wagner in Health & Fitness, Katie Williamson in Health & Fitness and Raegan Frachiseur in Achievement.

Record Books in the Advance Category (ages 16-18) are judged at the state level. Winners in this category are recognized at State O’Rama in July. Winners in this category are:

Kyle Williamson in Wildlife Management and Jacob Seymour in Health & Fitness.

Sevier County also received the District Spirit Award for 4-H’ers demonstrating a positive attitude, extending generosity for others, and providing role models who set the standard for excellence.

Trial by fire: Sevier County’s new OEM director marks dynamic first six months      06/21/24

Matt Webb of Lockesburg became the new coordinator for the Sevier County Office of Emergency Management in January. His first six months have been busy. Fortunately, he brings a wealth of experience to the position.

DE QUEEN – It’s been a pretty wild six months for the new coordinator of Sevier County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

Tornadoes, freezing weather, severe thunderstorms and the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse are just a few of the events that have marked Matt Webb’s time since taking over as the county’s OEM director on Jan. 1. Fortunately, he brings a wealth of experience in emergency response to the position despite being only in his 30s.

A lifelong resident of Lockesburg, Webb graduated from Lockesburg High School in 2007. He joined the Lockesburg Volunteer Fire Department the next year and then ran for – and won – a seat on the city council. He was eventually hired by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office as a jailer/dispatcher. That naturally progressed to a promotion to full-time deputy, a position he held twice between 2009 and 2020.

In 2021, Webb took over leadership of the Lockesburg Fire Department as its fire chief.

We made a lot of progress during those couple of years trying to restructure the department and bring in some new equipment,” he said. “I had a lot of help in making that happen from the other guys in the department and thanks to a lot of guidance from [former Fire Chief] Doug Currence.”

It’s one heck of a resume for a young guy to accumulate. The next natural step was to seek the office of OEM coordinator in Sevier County. The position opened late last year after the previous director, PJ Minor, took a position at the Sevier County Medical Center.

I was hesitant to apply, but I did and got the job. I appreciate the opportunity Mrs. Sandra Dunn gave me and her patience with me,” he said, laughing. “I felt like it was a good fit given how many relationships I’ve built across the county.”

For those unfamiliar with the role of the Office of Emergency Management in Arkansas counties, the name just about says it all. The office assists in preparing for, responding to and helping recover from emergencies and disasters to protect citizens and property. The role includes a lot of training, planning and exercising to respond to emergencies. The office director is responsible for coordinating emergency response efforts in the county and alongside outside agencies like FEMA.

Webb was forced to more-or-less hit the ground running. The Great American Total Solar Eclipse was just a few months away and a severe cold snap at the beginning of the year initially threatened to turn into an ice storm.

We dodged a bullet on that one,” he said.

No doubt, the eclipse and the expected tens of thousands of visitors it was expected to bring to Sevier County was Webb’s primary concern during his first few months.

We had no idea what to expect. We were seeing estimates of 30,000 people coming here, no telling how many around the area. It turned out to be a lot less, but I felt we were prepared to handle just about any emergency that came up,” he explained.

Sevier County’s preparedness, said Webb, is a testament to the many and committed first responders in Sevier County.

We’re very blessed to have what we have in Sevier County,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of very dedicated people who either work or volunteer their free time as emergency responders.”

Webb helped in the response and assessment after two tornadoes tore through Sevier County in May. Both were confirmed EF-1’s by the National Weather Service. One was several hundred yards wide and cut an eight-mile path through the county.

We were fortunate no one was hurt and that damage was fairly light,” he said.

Webb said neither tornado was spotted on the NWS radar out of Shreveport, La.


“The big tornadoes they assure me they’ll see, but a relatively small one like the ones we had in May, well, it’s easy for their radar to miss them,” he said. “I want to try and organize and activate a group of storm spotters here to help us detect something like that as quickly as possible. Storm spotters are very important. I took the class and learned a lot from it. I hope we can get a group together here in the near future.”

Another aspect of Webb’s position is serving as the county’s fire service coordinator. That position helps local fire departments receiving state funding. Webb is also the 911 coordinator for Sevier. He’s responsible for issuing 911 addresses to farms, homes and businesses in the county.

Despite his trial by fire in the first half of 2024, Webb said he’s honored to serve in the position.

I love it, and I enjoy working with County Judge Sandra Dunn and all our first responders,” he said. “I look forward to serving the county and I’ve really enjoyed it so far.”

Finally, Webb hopes he can encourage other young people in Sevier County to become involved and volunteer their time.

Volunteering is just not as common as it used to be,” he said. “I know people have jobs and families, but it’s a great way to help the community and take pride in it. Same with local politics. We have to have young people take those opportunities or else we’re in trouble down the road.”

When Webb is not coordinating Sevier County’s Office of Emergency Management, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Brittany, and their nine-year-old daughter, Gracelynn. The Webbs are expecting their second child, a girl, this October.

Dr. Samuel Slott hired to be next CRSD superintendent      06/20/24

WICKES – The Cossatot River School District has announced who will lead the district beginning with the 2024-25 school year.

During a regularly-scheduled meeting earlier this month, the Cossatot River School Board voted to hire Dr. Samuel Slott as the district’s next superintendent. He will replace Tyler Broyles, who announced his resignation earlier this year.

Broyles will continue to serve as superintendent through June 30. Slott is scheduled to take over the duties beginning in July. Slott is the principal of Lavaca Elementary School and formerly served as a principal at Mansfield Public Schools.

McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy defeated by primary challengers      06/19/24

IDABEL, Okla. – McCurtain County in neighboring Oklahoma will have a new sheriff next year.

Oklahoma held its primary for the 2024 elections on Tuesday. Several people announced their candidacy for the office of McCurtain County Sheriff, including incumbent Kevin Clardy. He faced two Republican challengers in Tuesday’s primary.

Voters solidly rejected Clardy in the Republican primary with the incumbent only receiving 399 votes out of 2,185 cast. Bruce W. Shirey received 49 percent of the vote – a total of 1,080 – while Jason Ricketts won 32 percent, or 706 votes. Because neither candidate was able to surpass 50.1 percent of the vote, the Republican primary between Shirey and Ricketts will be decided in a runoff election scheduled for Aug. 27.

The winner of the runoff will face the Democratic nominee, Steve McKee.

Clardy has faced heavy criticism since a secret recording last year caught him and other county officials engaging in racist and violent remarks. The incident gained national attention and resulted in Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt calling for the immediate resignation of Clardy and other involved officials.

Sevier County Chamber unveils newly redesigned office in downtown De Queen      06/19/24

Looking good – Executive Director Suzanne Babb, Administrative Assistant Sue Stowers and Economic Development Director Vernoica Ozura show off the redesigned reception area inside the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce building in downtown De Queen. The chamber will host an open house on June 28 to officially unveil the recent remodel.

DE QUEEN – After months of renovation and repairs, the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce has reopened its doors in downtown De Queen.

The chamber has been without its location on Stilwell Avenue since last year, when work began to resolve a number of issues within the old building. Officials were initially concerned with mold inside the building only to discover the problem was more severe than expected.

“It took longer than expected, but we had more building repairs than initially thought as is often the case with these older buildings,” said Suzanne Babb, who serves as executive director for the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce. “When they ripped the paneling off the wall, [the mold] went all the way down the west wall. We found there were numerous leaks from the roof. It had been 20 years since any work was done to the roof and we learned we absolutely needed a new one.”

Work began on repairing the building and removing the mold from inside. In the meantime, the chamber temporarily moved its office to the parsonage at De Queen Church of Christ.
 
“We are so grateful for the Church of Christ for letting us land there,” she said. “They have been awesome, even though it was just supposed to be for a few months. Of course, it stretched over to the next year but their patience with us has just been wonderful.”

Anyone familiar with the old chamber office will find it unrecognizable after the recent remodel. One of the highlights is the exposed brick on the western wall and cedar beams along the ceiling. Babb said the new look encapsulates the history of the building and its role before serving as the chamber’s headquarters.

“The roots of this building is that it was originally a fire station,” she explained. “We wanted to give a nod to that. Once we exposed the ceiling, we found these beautiful cedar beams up here and they are the original from when this was the fire house. You see a little bit of history if you just look up.”

Babb said the chamber owes a lot of gratitude to Monica Pearce and her local design company for volunteering to layout the specifications of the remodeled office.

“She did this at no charge and we couldn’t be more thankful for what she did to help us breathe some new life into the building,” Babb said.

The project totaled approximately $100,000 including the mold removal, new roof, upgraded utilities and other renovations. Babb said that includes numerous donations from chamber members and board directors as well as funds provided through the chamber’s partnership with the local economic development group, the FRIENDS Foundation of Sevier County.

The chamber also secured a grant from the Sevier County Community Navigator Pilot Program and the UAEX Create Bridges team to equip the building.

Those partnerships allowed the chamber to turn the ailing building into a jewel of downtown De Queen.

“We wanted to create and capture a feeling of the history of this building,” said Babb. “We’re in the historical commercial district of De Queen and the National Historical Registry. It was brought up, should we just tear it down? But it has so much history, and the downtown is known for its historic buildings. We wanted to save this building and keep that history.”

Besides its new look, the building now incorporates a number of features to increase community involvement and interaction. That includes a small hospitality area, a range of local resources, a reception area and historical artwork. The redesigned conference room features modular tables to meet the needs of local small businesses and organizations who need a modern meeting space.

Clardy refused to resign and remained in his embattled position despite protests and his removal from the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association.

National Night Out coming back to De Queen this August      06/19/24

DE QUEEN – Law enforcement agencies are teaming up in August for what they hope is their biggest operation of the summer: feeding and donating backpacks full of school supplies to hundreds of local kids during National Night Out on Aug. 6.

National Night Out culminates annually on the first Tuesday in August and seeks to enhance the relationship between communities and those tasked with serving and protecting them.

Sevier County first participated in the nationwide event in 2016 under then-Sheriff Benny Simmons. No one at the time knew how it would turn out. Results greatly exceeded expectations.

“Oh, I’d say we had about 3,000 people come by that night,” said Robert Gentry, who helped organize the event and succeeded Simmons as Sevier County Sheriff. “It was a pretty big deal and we could tell our community was excited for something like this.”

The local event was held for several years before transforming in to the Sevier County Block Party Committee to spread the event to all of Sevier County’s communities. The event is back this year thanks to a partnership between the sheriff’s office, the De Queen Police Department and the broader community.

The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at the De Queen Sportsplex. It’s still around a month and a half away, but Gentry is hoping to get the message out now to help the event grow larger than ever.

“We’re wanting to start earlier because we’re going to need all the help we can get to make this a success,” said Gentry. “We’re encouraging everyone to come by and hope our businesses, churches, organizations, groups and individuals can help any way they can. If we can share our resources we can make this another big event.”

Organizers stressed there is no cost to set up a booth.

Pilgrim’s has already committed to providing hotdogs for the event while Dr. Randy Walker’s Clinic will be offering health services to local kids ahead of the start of school. LifeShare will set up its mobile blood donation site at the event.

The main goal is to provide everything to attendees at absolutely no cost.

“We want this to be completely free, the type of thing you can come to and leave your wallet behind,” he said.

As in previous years, organizers will focus on providing backpacks filled with school supplies to local children. Anyone wanting to donate items can drop them off at the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office on Robinson Road or the De Queen Police Department at City Hall.

Gentry said National Night Out’s primary goal is to foster better relations between law enforcement officers and their communities. That’s particularly important for kids, said Gentry.

“To be honest, one of my pet peeves is going to Walmart in uniform and seeing a parent tell their kid, ‘You better start behaving or he’ll arrest you,'” he said. “We want kids to see law enforcement as their friends, as people they can trust. And so that’s why something like National Night Out is so important. They get to see us, hang out with us, have some fun with us and now we’re here for them.”

For more information on this year’s National Night Out in Sevier County, call the sheriff’s office at (870) 642-2125 or the DQPD at (870) 642-2213. 

Area communities to present annual Fourth of July shows      06/18/24

DE QUEEN – Local communities are gearing up to present their annual celebrations and fireworks displays ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

That includes the City of De Queen, which will host its annual “Let Freedom Ring” celebration on Wednesday, July 3.

As in previous years, De Queen’s 26th annual Independence Day festival will includes lots of food, music and – of course – a fireworks display in celebration of the nation’s 248th birthday.

Mayor Jeff Brown said the city invites everyone to come out to enjoy the annual event.

It’s always a great time and this year we’re going to add a cornhole tournament to give folks another thing to enjoy while they’re there,” he said. “I’ve spoke with [Parks Department Director] Gaytha Bakenhus and we’re going to try to add something new to each year’s event and grow this in the years ahead.”

Around half a dozen food vendors have already signed up to set up at the July 3 event and more are invited.

The more the merrier,” said Brown. “We definitely have room for more food vendors if they want to set up and there is no cost to do so.”

Anyone interested in setting up as a food vendor can contact the De Queen Parks and Recreation Office by calling (870) 642-4140.

The celebration will begin with registration for the cornhole tournament at 4:30 p.m. The bags will fly at 5:15 p.m. Patriotic music and the performance by Two Story Radio kicks off at 6 p.m.

The fireworks show, which draws in thousands of spectators each year, is set for dark.

Other events in the region

The City of Lockesburg always puts on a great fireworks display. As is tradition, Lockesburg will host its annual Fireworks in the Park show on July 4 starting with bingo from 3-5 p.m. A cornhole tournament is scheduled for 4 p.m. with a cakewalk at 5:30 p.m. and a performance by The Nighthawk Band at 6 p.m.

The event will also feature vendors, a veterans appreciation and the popular Lockesburg fireworks show at dark. All events will take place at the Ida Margaret Coulter Stone Park.

The Vandervoort Picnic Grounds association is famous across the region for its annual two-day Fourth of July celebration. This year marks the event’s 135th annual celebration.

Events will kick off Friday, July 5 with a cakewalk and auction at 6 p.m. Donations of baked goods are greatly appreciated and can be done so by reaching out to the Vandervoort Picnic Grounds via Facebook. A dance begins at nine that evening with a live performance by the Outlaws and Law Dawgs.

The main event begins Saturday with the traditional three-on-three basketball tournament at 8 a.m. This will also mark the start of line-up for the parade and sign-up for the cornhold tournament.

The Little Miss & Mister Vandervoort 2024 contest begins at 7 p.m. before another performance by the Outlaws and Law Dawgs at 8 p.m.

And then wrapping up the big event is the tremendous Vandervoort fireworks display at 10 p.m.

For more information call Trevan at (479) 216-0334 or Ethan at (479) 216-9597. 

The Foreman Fire Department will host “Sparks in the Parks” at the Foreman City Park on Sunday, June 30 beginning at dark. The fire department said any donations for this year’s celebration are welcome.

The City of Ashdown will present its annual Fourth of July Celebration beginning at 5 p.m. on July 4. The event will take place at Ashdown Junior High and will include food, vendors and music. Fireworks will begin at dark. There is no cost to attend.

ACA President Scott Sullivan addresses De Queen Rotarians      06/18/24

ACA President Scott Sullivan, left, spoke at Monday’s meeting of the De Queen Rotary Club. He is pictured with club President Greg Revels.

DE QUEEN – At the June 17 meeting of the De Queen Rotary Club, Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association President Scott Sullivan shared some interesting statistics about the industry as well as objectives of the organization.

A.C.A. was organized 65 years ago and is comprised of 63 local county associations, including Sevier County. It was formed to give beef producers a voice at the capitols in Little Rock and Washington, D.C.

The Cattlemens group’s goals are centered around a theme called L.E.A.D. which stands for Legislative, Education, Advocate, and Development.

On the legislative front, Sullivan recognized State Senator Jimmy Hickey and Representative DeAnn Vaught for their support of the cattle industry. A.C.A. monitors the legislative front for bills that pertain to taxes, wildlife and natural resources preservation, and agriculture policies that deal with animal herd health, as well as those dreaded Feral Hogs that are causing havoc with pasture lands. Another animal that can cause extensive damage is the federally-protected Black-headed Vulture. They can kill a calf shortly after birth. A.C.A. closely monitors federal laws pertaining to these birds. Farmers use chemicals that don’t harm the environment to control weeds and brush. State Boards that set chemical-use regulations are also carefully monitored by A.C.A.

On the education front, Sullivan told Rotarians this involves educating both producers and consumers. Less than two percent of the population (farmers) are feeding 100% of the total population. However, the average age of a farmer is now 60 years. Sullivan says we have to educate and develop the younger generations to encourage them to be a part of the industry. He recognized the Justin Craig family for being named the Sevier County Farm Family of the Year. Scott says the Craig’s are young farmers with a bright future ahead of them.

Educating consumers is also important because beef is a natural product that’s U.S.D.A. approved and of top quality. The herds are treated well and vaccinated regularly per regulations. Sullivan emphasized the importance of supporting County, District, and State Fairs because they’re valuable educational tools.

In Arkansas, cattle is a $16 billion a year industry. The average cow herd size is 43. There are 1.6 million head of cattle in the state, of which 847,000 are “mama cows”. There are 28,300 cattle farms in Arkansas making cattle the seventh largest commodity. 43% of the farms in Arkansas have at least some cattle operations. 97% of the Arkansas farms are family-owned, compared to 86% nationally.

Despite the fact that cash receipts for cattle sales in Arkansas are around $687 million annually at last report, the local producers realize only about 10% of that total as their profits.

Sullivan closed by saying that the farmers are dependent on Mother Nature. Rain is needed to produce grass. The recent drought conditions that stretch from Texas to the Dakotas has dropped the cattle supply to a 73-year low. Beef is a supply and demand product meaning that fewer cattle results in higher beef prices.

The average farmer feeds 166 Americans. It’s the most important industry for survival as we all must have food on our tables.

Sullivan served this area as State Representative for six years from 2003-2008. Scott currently lobbies at the state capitol for Farm Credit and Southern Arkansas University. Besides serving as President of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, Sullivan also serves on the National Hereford Association Board of Directors. He and his wife Sherry operate a 1,400-acre ranch north of De Queen.

Single vehicle accident claims life of Texas man on Hwy 278      06/17/24

HOWARD COUNTY – A single-vehicle accident in Howard County claimed the life of a Texas man on Sunday.

According to the Arkansas State Police, 45-year-old Nathan Don BoQuist of Wills Point, Texas, was driving a 2015 Ford F250 on Highway 278 near the Cossatot River when it crossed the centerline and left the roadway. The truck was towing a camper, which overturned and caused the truck to then overturn as well. Authorities said Boquist was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced deceased at the scene.

The accident occurred around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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

ArDOT: Alternating lane closures on Hwy 71 near Wilton begin today      06/17/24

WILTON – Alternating northbound and southbound lane closures began today, June 17, on Highway 71 between Wilton and Winters Creek.

Weather permitting, crews will overlay Highway 71 daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. over the next month.

The work is expected to last approximately four weeks.

Traffic will be controlled with the use of barrels, message boards, 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.   

DHS Sophomore Teralee Stewart nominated for HOBY seminar      06/17/24

Teralee Stewart was one of just 90 students from Arkansas nominated to attend this year’s HOBY Leadership Seminar.

MAGNOLIA – A De Queen sophomore was one of just 90 students from across Arkansas to attend the recent HOBY Youth Leadership Seminar.

Teralee Stewart was nominated by the De Queen Rotary Club to serve as an ambassador for De Queen High School for the 2024 Hugh O’Brien Youth (HOBY) Leadership Seminar. The event was held on the campus of Southern Arkansas University (SAU) with approximately 90 other ambassadors from around the state for the three day seminar.

The mission of HOBY is “to inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation.”

According to HOBY.org, the State Leadership Seminar is the “flagship program that welcomes school- and community-nominated high school sophomores to three- to four-day seminars each spring and summer. These student ambassadors participate in facilitated dialogue and abilities-based workshops to develop awareness of their leadership strengths and an understanding of their leadership values. Through these dynamic activities with their peers, students hone their skills and learn to recognize, amplify and collaborate with the diverse strengths of others. Held on college or university campuses, our programs give students a taste of college life while they dive into our engaging and fun leadership development curriculum.”


Teralee is the daughter of Gary and Sara Stewart.

Brookshire Grocery Co. seeking local veterans for 20th annual D.C. Tour      06/17/24

ASHDOWN Brookshire Grocery Co. is accepting applications from military veterans to fill 25 spots on its trip to Washington, D.C., Oct. 21-23 for the 20th Brookshire’s and Super 1 Foods Heroes Flight program. In addition to veterans from World War II and the Korean War, this flight will include veterans who served during the Vietnam War, Gulf War, War in Afghanistan and War in Iraq. BGC provides the all-expenses paid trip as a way of honoring our veterans for their service and sacrifices.

In addition to visiting the WWII Memorial, the group will tour the U.S. Capitol with Congressman Nathaniel Moran. Other points of interest will include Arlington National Cemetery, the Air and Space Museum and memorials honoring the U.S. Marines, Navy, Air Force, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Vietnam and Korean War veterans.

“We are deeply honored as a company to take our military veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials built in their honor,” said Brad Brookshire, Chairman and CEO for Brookshire Grocery Co. “This journey is our way of expressing profound gratitude and respect for their sacrifices. One of our community pillars is to give back to the brave men and women who have given so much to our country, and this opportunity allows us to show our appreciation in a meaningful way. We are especially excited that we will have veterans representing multiple conflicts sharing this experience together.”

United States military veterans who served during World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, War in Afghanistan and War in Iraq are invited to apply for the program at https://www.brookshires.com/sm/pickup/rsid/1928/heroes-flight. BGC will be accepting applications for the Oct. 21-23 trip through June 28, 2024.

As of this trip, BGC will have taken more than 500 veterans from Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas to Washington, D.C., since establishing the Heroes Flight program in 2010. BGC is excited to relaunch the program after it was paused during the pandemic.

Veterans on this trip will be primarily from the Tyler, Texas, and Hot Springs, Arkansas, areas. BGC employee-partners, including several who have also served in the military, will be on the trip to assist the veterans.

Application period opens for 2024 Arkansas Alligator Hunt      06/17/24

SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS – Arkansans hoping for a chance to chase Arkansas’s largest reptile species this fall will have some new hunting lands to apply for during this year’s alligator permit hunt application period. Applications for the 2024 hunting season are available at www.agfc.com from 8 a.m. June 15-11:59 p.m. June 30.

The following hunts are available in Southwest Arkansas for the 2024 hunting season:

Alligator Management Zone 1

  • eight permits for Millwood Lake
  • four permits for Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois D’Arc WMA
  • five permits for Little River
  • one permits for Sulphur River WMA
  • one permit for Lake Erling

Each permit authorizes the harvest of one alligator, which must be at least 4 feet long.

Alligator hunting is allowed 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise during the approved alligator hunting season dates – Sept. 20-23 and Sept. 27-30. Each permit holder may have up to three assistants with them on the hunt, but only the permit holder is allowed to snare, harpoon and dispatch the alligator.

Applicants must be at least 16 years of age the day the hunt begins, and only Arkansas residents may apply. Applicants with 18 or more AGFC violation points are ineligible to apply. Alligator-hunt applicants must pay a $5 nonrefundable processing fee at the time of their application.

Anyone who has access to private land in Alligator Zones 1, 2 or 3 may purchase a private land alligator tag in addition to their big-game hunting license and be able to hunt during alligator season until the quota is met for their zone.

Each private land hunter must call the wildlife hotline (833-345-0398) every night before hunting to see if the quota has been met. If the quota is reached, the hunt ends early.

All alligator hunters must go through an online hunt orientation before going to the field. The orientation lays out the most important details and frequently asked questions about the hunt. The orientation and additional information about the hunt are available at www.agfc.com/alligator.

Visit www.agfc.com to apply for an alligator hunting permit.

Rotary Club hears from Arkansas Teacher of the Year Beau McCastlain      06/14/24

2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year and DQTV Instructor Beau McCastlain, pictured left, was the guest at Monday’s meeting of the De Queen Rotary Club. He is pictured with Rotarian Jay Bunyard, who presented McCastlain with a $3,000 check for DQTV’s share of the advertising revenues from broadcasting soccer games through a partnership with KDQN. In all, KDQN contributed $9,000 to DQTV for the 2023-2024 school year’s football, basketball, and soccer broadcasts, as well as arranged for $600 internships for six DQTV students through the Arkansas Broadcasters Association.

DE QUEEN – At the June tenth meeting of the De Queen Rotary Club, Arkansas Teacher of the Year, DQTV’s Beau McCastlain, shared his experiences so far, as well as his upcoming schedule.

There are more than 32,000 teachers in Arkansas. McCastlain first had to be named Teacher of the Year for the high school as well as for the De Queen School District. Each of the 14 Educational Coops then submitted their nominations, with Beau representing the De Queen-Mena Educational Coop. After attending an event at the Governor’s Mansion, McCastlain was named one of four semi-finalists. After a site visit to the DQTV studios and classroom, Beau was secretly selected the Teacher of the Year for the 2024-2025 school year.

The official announcement came from a surprise visit by Governor Sarah Sanders last fall. Beau recalls that it was Pajama Day at the school, and all his students are pictured in their pajamas! Superintendent Jason Sanders made sure that McCastlain was in his classroom at 1:30 for the Governor’s visit despite it being the first Monday of deer season!

McCastlain, his wife Dedra, and DQTV students Ashlee McCullough and Dayanti Villeda were guests at a State Dinner at the White House hosted by President Biden earlier this spring. The students worked with the White House Press Corps and had the opportunity to visit the White House Briefing Room. Beau called it an overwhelming experience that he thanks God for, and he was honored to be representing his community and Arkansas at the event. Besides President Biden, McCastlain ran across Congressman Bruce Westerman, Senators Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, and Mitt Romney while in Washington, D.C.

McCastlain attended an orientation event in Santa Clara in February and he took ten students to a competition in Long Beach, California in March. It marked the first flight ever for six of the ten students. And all that was actually before Beau takes the reins as Teacher of the Year on July 1.

In the coming year, McCastlain will actually be working for the state of Arkansas, but he will be based out of De Queen, meaning he’ll start and end his week at DQTV. The rest of the week, Beau will be traveling the state visiting with other school districts. In the interim, Jamie Fuell will be holding down the fort at DQTV. Fuell has extensive broadcasting experience in the Little Rock market, and recently relocated to De Queen. 

The Teacher of the Year opportunities continue into 2025 as McCastlain will be on the field for the National Anthem at the NCAA College Football National Championship Game.

Rotarian Jay Bunyard introduced McCastlain and presented Beau with a $3,000 check for DQTV’s share of the advertising revenues from broadcasting soccer games. In all, KDQN contributed $9,000 to DQTV for the 2023-2024 school year’s football, basketball, and soccer broadcasts, as well as arranged for $600 internships for six DQTV students through the Arkansas Broadcasters Association.

The DQTV revenue-sharing program is made possible by these local businesses: Southwest Arkansas Accounting Services, Tri-Lakes Realty, De Queen Auto Group, Kawasaki of Idabel, Southern Home Furniture and Interiors, Jorge Rivas Garage and Wrecker Service, Air-Evac, Arkansas Army National Guard, Body Temple Massage, Bristow Custom Metals, De Queen Self Storage – West, Rise and Shine Café, S & C Tire Shop, San Juan’s Automotive Repair, Simply Chiropractic, and Twisted Tines Outfitters.

Guests at Monday’s Rotary Club meeting included Murray “Tuffy” Neely and Jarrod Fannin.

Sevier County well-represented at FC All Star Showdown      06/13/24

2024 graduates Demi Leonard, left, and Presli Young represented Horatio and De Queen, respectively, as cheerleaders at this year’s Red River FCA All Star Showdown. (Photo courtesy of Kim Leonard)

TEXARKANA – Sevier County was well-represented this year’s All Star Showdown hosted by the Red River Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).

Demi Leonard, a 2024 graduate of Horatio High School, and Presli Young, a 2024 graduate of De Queen High School, participated in the All Star Cheerleaders event held May 29 at Texas A&M-Texarkana.

Emma Ray and Trey Mason represented Horatio High School at the All Star Basketball tournament held May 30 at the Rader Dome at Liberty Eylau High School.

Kinley Rankin and Braedon Scarborough represented Horatio at the softball and baseball games, respectively, on June 12 at Atlanta High School.

Local coaches for the 2024 FCA All-Star Showdown included Evan Spears of De Queen (football), and Eden Spears of De Queen (girls basketball).

Emma Ray moves past a Texas defender while representing Horatio High School at the Red River FCA All Star Showdown basketball game on May 30. (Photo courtesy of Kim Leonard)

The Red River Fellowship of Christian Athletes created the All Star Showdown to bring glory to God, bring recognition to the work of FCA in the Red River region, and to highlight the talent of coaches and athletes in Arkansas and Texas. Each player in nominated by their head coach at their respective high school.

Only 250 athletes will have the privilege of participating in football, basketball, baseball, softball and cheer. All players must be in good standing with their high school and community.

Horatio’s Trey Mason goes for a two-pointer against a concentrated Texas defense during the Red River FCA All Star Showdown basketball game on May 30. (Photo courtesy of Kim Leonard)

The program provides athletes with the opportunity to participate in a game with players from more than 35 schools across Arkansas and Texas. In addition, the All Star Showdown pays for all meals, housing, entertainment and service activities, support from licensed athletic trainers and All Star game jersey and gear as a memento.

For more information, visit www.RedriverFCA.org.

 

 

 

Alexander to head up Lions basketball      06/13/24

Blake Alexander

HORATIO – Blake Alexander, recently named Horatio’s head girls basketball coach, comes from a family known for coaching.

He is a native of Umpire, the son of Keith and Diane Alexander.  He and wife Lyndsey have been married three and half years.

Alexander’s parents’ professions are farmer/rancher and nursing – not the family norm. “Education is the family business,” the new coach noted. “Aunts and cousins all in education.”

Two of Alexander’s four siblings are coaches. His sister Leigh Starwalt is in the nursing field. His other sister Carrie Jo Cook coaches softball at Kirby. Brother Justin works in digital technology. Brother Kevin was a long-time boys basketball coach at Dierks, then Murfreesboro and now at Marmaduke. Keith’s brothers Ron, Steve and Jeff all were coaches.

Blake Alexander attended school at Dierks where he played football, basketball and baseball. He finished at Kirby where only basketball and baseball are offered. “Now I think I’m a golfer,” he quipped. At Kirby Alexander was coached by Marty Smith who has kept KHS one of the traditional small school powers for three decades.

Alexander graduated at Kirby in 2009 then went to Henderson State University. While at HSU he interned at Poyen under long time coach Mickey Shaffer. Alexander then became assistant coach for the boys at Cossatot River. After four years in that position, he was CRHS head girls for four years before coming to Horatio.

Horatio was attractive for several reasons. “I went to college with some of the coaches here,” he said. Also, after eight years at the same school, he was ready for a move. “Things got repetitive. I think I got complacent. I’m ready for new challenges. You need to stay sharp, stay hungry.”
He began work at Horatio as soon as possible. “Right after I got hired, I met the kids. Monday {June 3} was the first day we actually got started on stuff,” Alexander said.  “We had a good first week. It’s a good young team, both juniors and seniors.

“They work hard. They’re good kids. I was very pleased with the first week. We’ll practice all June installing stuff.” In July there will be camps at Mount Ida, Nashville and Murfreesboro.

The new Lady Lion coach said there are differences of opinion among the basketball coaching Alexanders. “My brother is more like Uncle Steve. He starts with offense. I’m more like Uncle Ron,” he explained.

His concept begins with defense. “I want to be a good man to man defensive team, very fundamentally sound,” he said.  “I want to play fast on offense, spread the floor, create driving lanes.”

Although he is now in a different conference, he will not be coaching against strangers. “I’m pretty familiar with most people in the conference,” he said. “At Cossatot we played everybody in this conference except the Hot Springs schools.”

At CRHS Alexander coached cross country and track as well as basketball. He will do cross country at HHS. “We’ll probably get some stuff going as it gets closer to August,” he said of that sport.

“I knew I was going to coach when I was in high school,” Alexander said. The only time he wavered was while undergoing treatment for an Injured foot and thought about going into physical therapy.


His favorite thing about coaching is seeing the players develop. “Seeing them do things they didn’t think they could do,” he said.

Another rewarding aspect of coaching is creating bonds. He remains close to the Kirby coaches, not only Smith but also Robert Tucker KHS girls coach. There is also Wendall Cartwright whom he assisted at Cossatot River. The strongest coaching bond remains his brother Kevin. “Probably not a day goes by we don’t talk about basketball,” he noted.


In addition to coaching, Alexander will teach health, physical education and career development.  When he has free time, he has a few hobbies. “I like to golf, deer hunt and watch sports,” he said. “I’m a big Razorback fan.”

Brookshire seeking local veterans for 20th tour to D.C.      06/13/24

ASHDOWN Brookshire Grocery Co. is accepting applications from military veterans to fill 25 spots on its trip to Washington, D.C., Oct. 21-23 for the 20th Brookshire’s and Super 1 Foods Heroes Flight program. In addition to veterans from World War II and the Korean War, this flight will include veterans who served during the Vietnam War, Gulf War, War in Afghanistan and War in Iraq. BGC provides the all-expenses paid trip as a way of honoring our veterans for their service and sacrifices.

In addition to visiting the WWII Memorial, the group will tour the U.S. Capitol with Congressman Nathaniel Moran. Other points of interest will include Arlington National Cemetery, the Air and Space Museum and memorials honoring the U.S. Marines, Navy, Air Force, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Vietnam and Korean War veterans.

“We are deeply honored as a company to take our military veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials built in their honor,” said Brad Brookshire, Chairman and CEO for Brookshire Grocery Co. “This journey is our way of expressing profound gratitude and respect for their sacrifices. One of our community pillars is to give back to the brave men and women who have given so much to our country, and this opportunity allows us to show our appreciation in a meaningful way. We are especially excited that we will have veterans representing multiple conflicts sharing this experience together.”

United States military veterans who served during World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, War in Afghanistan and War in Iraq are invited to apply for the program at https://www.brookshires.com/sm/pickup/rsid/1928/heroes-flight. BGC will be accepting applications for the Oct. 21-23 trip through June 28, 2024.

As of this trip, BGC will have taken more than 500 veterans from Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas to Washington, D.C., since establishing the Heroes Flight program in 2010. BGC is excited to relaunch the program after it was paused during the pandemic.

Veterans on this trip will be primarily from the Tyler, Texas, and Hot Springs, Arkansas, areas. BGC employee-partners, including several who have also served in the military, will be on the trip to assist the veterans.

Craig Family is 2024 Sevier County Farm Family of the Year      06/11/24

The Craigs of Horatio are the 2024 Sevier County Farm Family of the Year. They operate a beautiful 62-acre farm, including two egg-laying houses and a 40-head herd of American Brahman. Pictured are Justin and Tabitha Craig, along with their daughters Everlee, Millie, and Lydia holding Willa.

HORATIO – The 2024 Sevier County Farm Family of the Year is bucking the trend when it comes to agricultural operations in the modern time.

When the average age of the American farmer is 58.1 years, the Craig Family of Horatio is bringing some vital youthfulness to the nation’s most important profession. The family is headed by Justin and Tabitha Craig, and assisted by their four young daughters: 13-year-old Lydia, 10-year-old Millie, seven-year-old Everlee and the fearless three-year-old, Willa.

Justin and Tabitha, high school sweethearts, are both 2005 graduates of Horatio High School. They’ll mark their 15th wedding anniversary this September.

Together, the Craigs operate a beautiful and expanding 62-acre farm off Bear Creek Cutoff named C5 Farms. The farm comprises two egg-laying houses (each producing a whooping 7,500 eggs per day) along with a 40-head herd of American Brahman. They lease an additional 250 acres across the road from their farm and operate a custom hay operation that’s grown considerably in recent years, thanks in part to an investment in providing silage to other cattle producers in the region. Through that effort Justin cuts and bales over 5,000 rolls of hay each year.

The day starts early on the Craig farm. A little after 5 a.m., Justin heads to the laying houses to feed hens and line out the rest of his day. The kids are up before dawn to feed cattle and finish any lingering chores before heading off to Horatio for school. Typically, the day doesn’t wrap up until after dark.

Justin, Everlee and Lydia with two of the cows the girls show through 4-H. (Photo by Jen Massey)

For Justin, who worked in the pipeline industry for over a decade, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

We had a dream to have our own farm, we worked hard to make it happen and it’s the most rewarding thing I think we could have done for our family,” he said. “Everything we have, we built ourselves and we built from the ground up.”

Everyone on the farm has a role to play, even little Willa.

Each of them helps on the farm however they can,” he said. “Lydia helps drive the tractor and the truck when I’m baling hay. It teaches them responsibility. We absolutely could not do it without them. And it’s for them that we’re doing this.”

The Craigs aren’t just busy on their farms. They’re also incredibly active members of their community. The kids show livestock and the family is a member of the Arkansas Junior Brahman Association. Justin sits on the fair board for Sevier County and is a member of the Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association. Tabitha serves as secretary for the Sevier County 4-H Foundation. Justin and Tabitha help coach and make sure their children are as active as they can be in school and sports.

We just believe that you have to be active in your community to make it a better place,” said Tabitha. “And that’s something we want our children to understand as early and as soon as possible.”

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows the Craigs that they would be named this year’s Sevier County Farm Family of the Year. We hope this article will serve as a teaser for the full story on the Craigs and C5 Farms – as well as lots more photos – we’ll be publishing on June 27 in The De Queen Bee.

In the meantime, here’s some background on Arkansas’ Farm Family of the Year program and its efforts to highlight the important of agriculture to our state:

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 families have been 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.

Ashdown man arrested after pursuit in Sevier County      06/11/24

DE QUEEN – An Ashdown man was arrested on multiple charges following a pursuit in Sevier County over the past weekend.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy was on patrol on Highway 41 on Friday, June 7 when he conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for failing to keep within the highway lane. The driver was identified as 37-year-old Michael Scott Kyle Bush of Ashdown. The deputy stated that Bush was acting extremely nervous during the interaction and that Bush’s vehicle smelled of marijuana.

When asked to exit the vehicle, Bush allegedly refused to comply and then fled from the traffic stop northbound on Highway 41 at a high rate of speed. The deputy claimed that Bush passed several vehicles on the highway shoulder and passed vehicles on the double yellow lines while negotiating curves at speeds over 95mph.

Bush then reportedly lost control of the vehicle and slid off the roadway into an embankment of Highway 41 south of Piney Road. Bush exited the vehicle and began walking away from the responding deputy. The deputy was able to subdue Bush after deploying his taser.

A search of Bush’s vehicle allegedly resulted in the discovery of a glass smoking pipe as well as a small baggie containing suspected methamphetamine. Two glass jars of marijuana were also found inside the vehicle, according to the arrest affidavit.

Bush was arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine with the purpose to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance with the purpose to deliver, resisting arrest and fleeing.

Bush is currently awaiting his next court appearance in the Sevier County Jail.

Jacob Seymour of De Queen seeking statewide 4-H office      06/11/24

Submitted by Kim Frachiseur/Sevier County Extension

Jacob Seymour of Sevier County has announced his intention to seek the office of Arkansas 4-H Ouachita District Vice-President.

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Extension Office has announced that Jacob Seymour of De Queen is running for an Arkansas 4-H State Officer position.

Each year, Arkansas 4-H Youth vote in seven of their peers each summer to represent Arkansas 4-H for the year. The officers are inducted each year at the annual Arkansas 4-H State O-Rama activities. The seven positions include President, First Vice-President, Delta District Vice-President, Ouachita District Vice-President, Ozark District Vice-President, Secretary, and Reporter.

Seymour will be running for the Ouachita District Vice-President position. Jake is the son of Debbie and Justin Seymour. He was named 2022 Arkansas Teen Star and is currently an Arkansas State Ambassador.

When asked what inspired him to run, Seymour stated, “I would love to raise more awareness in my district and also the state level about 4-H. I meet a lot of people that think 4-H is just cows and chickens. I would like to teach them there is so much more to 4-H.”

District Vice-Presidents are elected during each corresponding 4-H District O-Ramas and the remaining positions are elected during Arkansas 4-H State O-Rama. Candidates campaign throughout the summer at events such as O-Rama and Teen Leader Conference.

4-H state officers also get the chance to travel the state while working on events and their skills.

They will be representing Arkansas 4-H throughout the state,” Rex Herring said. “Some specific skills that the officers will grow in will be public speaking, interacting with sponsors and administrators of various organizations. If elected, Jake will do a great job.”

Riding for the Brand Youth Tour coming to Grannis this Saturday      06/11/24

GRANNIS – Rodeo fans get ready because local arenas are gearing up to host an exciting night of youth riding and rodeo events this weekend.

The Grannis Riding Club will host stop #2 of the Riding for the Brand Tour this Saturday, June 15. The main performance kicks off at 7 p.m. in the Grannis Arena, located at 199 Arena Lane.

From bull riding and saddle bronc to barrels, poles and team roping, Saturday nights rodeo will offer an action-packed evening for everyone. The rodeo will feature a 75 percent payback and points towards buckles and awards. Concessions will be available.

Mike Launius, pastor of Rugged Cross Cowboy Church in Magnolia and one of the founders of Riding for the Brand, said 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.

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.

Massive blaze destroys Idabel rubber mixing plant      06/11/24

Firefighters from across Southeast Oklahoma battle a massive blaze that broke out at the Red River Mixing Plant near Idabel, Okla., on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Trace S. Bussell/5th Alarm Photography)

IDABEL, Okla. – A fire resulted in the complete destruction of a rubber-mixing facility in neighboring McCurtain County, Okla., over the weekend.

The massive blaze broke out on Sunday at the Red River Mixing Plant near Idabel, Okla. Fortunately, no employees were at the facility and no injuries were reported. However, the 75,000 square-foot facility was utterly destroyed. The building was used for manufacturing and storage and was located nearby the SETCO Tire and Rim facility. That facility was not damaged by the fire.

Idabel Mayor Craig Young told KTBS News that SETCO is one of the city’s largest employers.

Company officials reportedly stated their intentions to rebuild after the fire and resume operations in McCurtain County.

Around a dozen fire departments and 50 firefighters responded to the blaze.

McCurtain Memorial Hospital issued a statement on its Facebook page on Monday vising anyone living in the area with breathing issues to stay indoors with doors and windows closed.

De Queen School Board approves new policy aimed at teen vaping      06/11/24

DE QUEEN – De Queen Public Schools will implement a new policy for the 2024-25 school year to help address the rising issue of teen vaping.

Vaping among school students – both nicotine and particularly THC products – has been a growing concern among  educators both in Arkansas and across the nation. THC vaping devices can be nearly odorless, extremely potent and easy to obtain through the legal marijuana market.

Approximately 30 De Queen students, mostly in junior high, were expelled from school during the 2023-24 school year for vaping. It’s a trend that has Superintendent Jason Sanders extremely concerned.

“We, like so many schools, are having issues, especially those schools in the western part of Arkansas that are close to Oklahoma which has the least restrictive policies on medical marijuana,” said Sanders. “We have so many students who are getting vapes from friends and family members who are going across to Oklahoma and are able to buy it. Our policy is that if they are caught with vapes at school they are expelled.”

Students in grades eighth through 12th who were caught vaping at school could face 45 days of academic expulsion. Monday night, the De Queen School Board approved a new policy forwarded by Sanders to reduce the expulsion period to 10 days –  under very limited circumstances.

“We’ve had such a challenge with this that we’ve decided to try a pilot program to address it,” explained Sanders. “If it’s the very first time that the student is caught, we will have teachers and principals in house that will have substance abuse resources available. We will offer as an alternative to that expulsion that the family comes to a night class.”

Families will have to pay a fee to attend the class, which will focus on providing information and resources to address the child’s vaping habit.

“We’ll provide guest speakers, talk to them about the choices they face, that when they allow this to ruin their education, they’re going down a path in life that is tough to alter. If we can try this as an adjustment, instead of just expelling kids, what we’re looking at is not having them for 45 days miss their academics.”

Sanders hopes this will help reduce the rising incidents of THC vaping among students while providing them an opportunity to stay in school and not fall behind. The battle is a tough one, Sanders stresses, and requires parents to be active participants in combating teen vaping.

“Parents, have a discussion with our child, see what’s coming to them in the mail because they may be ordering it in the mail,” said Sanders. “That’s why we’re wanting a parent or guardian to go through this class with the student, because it is just as much with the adult figure in the home to try and change their behavior and their choices. It’s going to affect their lives and the families are going to have to pay for this five or ten years down the road if their child throws away their education and their opportunities in life for a substance to get an immediate high.”

Sanders said the district has worked with local youth pastors, substance abuse prevention experts and state officials to help address the use of THC vaping among students.

“We’ll take all the help we can get, because this is critical,” said Sanders. “All schools are facing this right now and it’s an epidemic.

In some other school-related business Monday night, the school board approved a request by the district to purchase two used school buses for $90,000 each and a livestock trailer for the agri department.

The board also authorized the district to resolicit bids for its new school farm and animal science facility. Sanders said the district had received a single bid totaling over $921,000. He said that was significantly more than the $550,000 budgeted for the new facility. The district hopes to receive new bids over the next month to bring costs closer to the budgeted amount.

Asst. Superintendent Lance Pinkerton informed the school board that Scenic Hill Solar has begun clearing timber on land purchased from the district for its new 40-acre solar farm in Sevier County.

Under personnel, the board accepted the resignations of teachers Casey Bissell and Anel Montiel while approving the hiring of Kristen McLelland as a paraprofessional as well as Brandy Pearson and Dee Dosler as new teachers.

The school board will meet again on July 22. 

Trial for Sevier County man rescheduled to August      06/11/24

DE QUEEN – A jury trial has been rescheduled to later this summer for a Sevier County man accused of wounding a De Queen police officer and leading law enforcement through a multi-county pursuit during an incident last year..

According to court records, 37-year-old Kenneth Lee Smith was scheduled to appear before the Sevier County Circuit Court for a jury trial on June 6. Smith, who has pleaded not guilty, is facing a range of multiple felony charges from an incident in July of 2023.

Last week, the court granted a motion to continue requested by Smith’s attorney, Eric A. Marks. Marks was previously scheduled to prosecute a murder trial in Cleveland County later this month.

Smith is now scheduled to reappear before the Sevier County Circuit Court for a pre-trial hearing on Aug. 1. If he maintains his plea of not guilty, Smith is currently scheduled for a jury trial on Aug. 21

Charges filed against Smith include aggravated residential burglary, first-degree battery and four counts of attempted murder for the initial incident on July 7 within a home on 113 Sweet Home Lane near De Queen. He’s also charged with attempted capital murder for the shooting of DQPD Lt. Chad Bradshaw during the subsequent pursuit.

Upon a conviction, the range of offenses could see Smith serving up to 40 years or life imprisonment.

Smith remains in the Sevier County Jail on a $1 million cash-only bond.

Smith’s charges stem from an incident that began following a report of a domestic disturbance at the residence on Sweet Home Lane. Upon arrival, the responding officer, Chris Turner of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, was met with gunfire and his patrol unit was hit with multiple rounds. Smith then reportedly fled the scene on a motorcycle, leading to the subsequent pursuit.

Smith was later located in Little River County with the assistance of dog and horse teams, as well as drones and an Arkansas State Police helicopter. The manhunt lasted several hours before Smith was apprehended without further incident.

 

Arkansas Teacher of the Year Beau McCastlain addresses De Queen Rotary club    06/10/24

At the June 10th meeting of the De Queen Rotary Club, Arkansas Teacher of the Year, DQTV’s Beau McCastlain, shared his experiences so far, as well as his upcoming schedule. 

McCastlain first had to be named Teacher of the Year for the high school as well as for the De Queen School District.  Each of the 14 Educational Coops then submitted their nominations.  After attending an event at the Governor’s Mansion, McCastlain was named one of four semi-finalists. After a site visit to the DQTV studios and classroom, Beau was secretly selected the Teacher of the Year for the 2024-2025 school year. 

The official announcement came from a surprise visit by Governor Sarah Sanders last fall.  Beau then talked about the trip to Washington DC as part of his teacher of the year as well as the competition he took his students in California. 

Rotarian Jay Bunyard introduced McCastlain and presented Beau with a $3,000 check for DQTV’s share of the advertising revenues from broadcasting soccer games.  In all, KDQN contributed $9,000 to DQTV for the 2023-2024 school year’s football, basketball, and soccer broadcasts, as well as arranged for $600 internships for six DQTV students through the Arkansas Broadcasters Association.  The DQTV revenue sharing program is made possible by our sponsors.

 

De Queen WWII vet recalls D-Day on 80th anniversary      06/06/24

By Patrick Massey

Sam Phillips, one of Sevier County’s two surviving veterans of the Second World War, stands next to his outstanding tomato plants. In addition to gardening – and motorcycling – Phillips enjoys the opportunity to recall America’s role in World War II. Today is the 80th anniversary of D-Day and Phillips took some time to share his thoughts on that momentous occasion.

DE QUEEN – Sam Phillips remembers exactly where he was 80 years ago today.

It was June 6, 1944, better known as D-Day. Two million men from over a dozen Allied nations embarked early that morning to bring an end to Nazi Germany’s occupation of Europe.

As a 17-year-old sailor from West Texas, Phillips was stationed half the world away in the Pacific Ocean helping in the fight against another tyrannical power fixated on world domination. It didn’t take long for Philips to hear that something big had happened, despite being 7,400 miles away at Pearl Harbor.

It might have been that night, maybe the next day, I don’t exactly remember. Mind you, this was before television and even before a lot of people had radio. Let alone social media,” he said, laughing.

Yet, newspapers quickly arrived announcing that U.S. and allied forces had staged a major amphibious operation on the coast of France. Operation Overlord, as it is known, remains the largest seaborne invasion in human history. The figures are telling. In addition to millions of men, the force included 11,000 Allied aircraft, 7,000 ships and boats.

As a U.S. Navy volunteer, Phillips recalls with pride how secretly the entire operation had been organized. Rumors at his submarine base were nonexistent – even the Navy’s famous “scuttlebutt” had missed the buildup.

No rumors at all, but of course a 17-year-old wouldn’t have been privy to a whole lot,” said Phillips.

Sam Phillips discusses a photo taken in 1936 of him, his siblings and his fellow classmates at their two-room schoolhouse near Odessa, Texas. The other photo shows the test of an atomic bomb in 1946 at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Phillips, then in the U.S. Navy, was witness to the event.

Most importantly, Hitler and Nazi Germany had no idea.

He didn’t know where we were invading, we tricked him into thinking it was gonna be somewhere else,” said Phillips. “It was an amazing bit of deception.”

Nevertheless, Allied forces didn’t land on empty beaches. The fighting quickly raged into some of the fiercest of the war.

[The Germans] were still prepared for an invasion,” said Phillips. “It was a brutal attack and we lost a lot of men taking Omaha and some of the other beaches.”

More than 4,400 Allied personnel were killed on the first day alone. The Army’s history states that “disorganization, confusion and incomplete implementation of plans characterized the initial phases of the landings. That was especially true of the airborne landings which were badly scattered, as well as the first wave units landing on the assault beaches. To their great credit, most of the troops were able to adapt to the disorganization. In the end, the Allies achieved their objective.”

In hindsight, the ultimately successful invasion was the final nail in Nazi Germany’s coffin. Phillips said it marked the turning point in the course of the war.

Of course, in 1944 we weren’t losing, but there wasn’t an overriding sense that we were winning. It was kind of a stalemate,” he said. “After D-Day we knew the war in Europe would come to an end and that we would win.”

The following May, Nazi Germany was a pile of rubble. It surrendered after an overwhelming advance by Allied forces from the west and Soviet armies from the east.

But that wasn’t the end of hostilities for Phillips. War against the Japanese Empire raged on for another five months. Phillips never saw combat, but was one of the millions of American servicemen who ceaselessly supported the front-line forces.

The Second World War was the bloodiest conflict in the history of the human race and ended exactly six years and one day after it started. The beginning of the end came on D-Day, said Phillips.

It was the turning point. We weren’t forced back. We made it all the way to Germany and ended the war in Europe. Then we turned to the Pacific and finished the war against Japan. A lot of good men were lost on those beaches on D-Day to bring an end to the fighting.”

Phillips reenlisted after the war. In 1946, he participated in Operation Crossroads, the atomic bomb tests in the Bikini Atoll. In a perfect example of how small the world can be, he was there alongside another World War II veteran from De Queen, Sterling Daniel.

We couldn’t have known it at the time but almost 80 years ago we were right there together in the same spit of sand islands watching a nuclear bomb go off,” he said, laughing. “He’s a great man and I’m glad I’ve had the chance to meet him.”

Phillips and Daniel are Sevier County’s last two surviving WWII veterans. Less than one percent of the 16.4 million Americans who served in the war are still alive. Those veterans are now in their late 90s and early 100s. At 97, Phillips is one of the younger members of this great generation.

I’m one of the youngsters, I guess you could say,” laughed Phillips.

U.S. soldiers prepare to disembark onto Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944. (Photo courtesy of National WWII Museum)

This past Friday, Sixty-six U.S. veterans who participated in D-Day flew from DFW to France. It’s a journey that took more than a year of organizing through a foundation run by the actor Gary Sinise. Today they’ll be honored for taking part, exactly 80 years ago, in the greatest operation of the war.

Phillips has been keeping an eye on their journey from his home near De Queen.

They’ve been feted and entertained, it’s been a big, big event,” he said. “They’ve had parties, some ballroom dances. Some of those old veterans can still shuffle around and do some dancing! It looks like they’ve had a great time.”

Phillips hopes many younger people will take this occasion to reflect on the role America played in ending those six horrible years of war – a war that involved over 16 million Americans including two of Phillips’ brothers. He fears the legacy slips further out of our societal memory with each WWII veteran who passes away.

Absolutely it worries me,” he said. “When you hear things like ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ pouring out of our elite universities… I don’t know what to think. But it worries me given how many we lost to keep this country free and how many we lose every day.”

New beginning for De Queen’s oldest business      06/06/24

DE QUEEN – Today marks a new beginning for Sevier County’s oldest business, The De Queen Bee.

After more than 15 years of corporate ownership, the publication can proudly say it’s a local business once again. Bunyard Broadcasting, Inc., which operates KDQN FM, KDQN AM and KILX FM in addition to a number of other stations across the state, officially took over ownership of The Bee on May 31.

Today marks the first publication of The De Queen Bee under the new ownership.

Through the purchase, two of Southwest Arkansas’ most storied media groups will combine forces to provide unparalleled access to local and regional news, sports and community events.

The acquisition also includes The Bee’s sister newspaper in Polk County, The Mena Star, the popular free Ouachita Trading Post. These newspapers were purchased from Alabama-based Lancaster Management, Inc. Lancaster purchased The Star in 1991 and The Bee in 2007 from the Kimball family.

The media group will serve as a subsidiary of Bunyard Broadcasting as 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 the first all-Spanish station. The network now incorporates 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 provide 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.”

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.”

The core level of service for current Bee readers is not expected to change, other than a renewed focus on local news and event coverage. In addition, The Bee will have a local office again with the KDQN Studios on 921 Collin Raye Drive in De Queen. Readers can once again call a local number – (870) 642-2446 – to subscribe, share information and purchase advertising.

Patrick Massey, who will serve as editor of The Bee, said he looks forward to this exciting new chapter.

This community deserves timely and accurate coverage and I believe Bunyard Broadcasting has demonstrated its commitment to do just that for many, many years,” said Massey. “I’m excited and grateful to Jay Bunyard for taking this chance to make The De Queen Bee a newspaper our community can be proud of. With the community’s support, and through our commitment to local journalism, The Bee has a great future ahead.”

Widespread storms leave hundreds without power      06/06/24

A SWEPCO lineman removes a fallen power pole after winds knocked it down on Monday on Fourth Street near Vandervoort Avenue in De Queen. DQPD Lt. Chad Bradshaw and Sgt. Bucky Sawyer help clear debris from the road.

DE QUEEN – Power began to be restored to SWEPCO customers in Sevier County Tuesday night and Wednesday morning after storms rolled through the area earlier this week, knocking out electricity for hundreds of residents.

SWEPCO was reporting more than 33,000 customers lost power on Monday after a disruption to its grid ranging from Northwest Arkansas to central Louisiana. More than a thousand people in Sevier County lost power with more outages reported in Howard County.

The outages were a result of a series of storms that popped up on Monday, knocking down trees and powerlines across the region. Coulter Drive in De Queen was particularly hard hit with several powerlines knocked down by strong winds and falling trees. A pole on Fourth Street and Vandervoort also fell, causing additional blackouts in that area of town.

Mayor Jeff Brown provided an update on the outages Tuesday night.

“It looks like we can’t get any good luck. Everyday we’ve got strong winds and rain and I know everyone’s tired of it,” he said. “I’ve been in contact with SWEPCO all day, but it’s been pretty hard to get any updates from them. Horatio was completely out of power, Old Washington was out of power, I talked to the mayor of Nashville and they have a lot of residents without power. It wasn’t just De Queen, it was this whole area.”

Brown asked the public for patience until the outages are resolved.

“The local guys are doing all they can, they’re working hard and I know they’re tired,” said Brown. “They’re giving it all they got.”

Power was restored to most residents of Sevier County Tuesday night, including those impacted within the City of Horatio. As of 5 a.m. on Wednesday, SWEPCO is reporting around a dozen customer outages in Horatio and even fewer in De Queen and Lockesburg.

More than 26,000 SWEPCO customers remain without power across the company’s service region, including hundreds in Texarkana. As of Wednesday morning, the most widespread outages were around Shreveport, La., and Longview, Texas.

DQ City Council discusses short-term rentals, treatment plant      06/06/24

Donna Jones, pictured seated at right, attended her last meeting of the De Queen City Council as the city’s clerk/treasurer this past Tuesday night. She is retiring after 24 years and is the longest-serving clerk/treasurer since the city’s current form of government was established in 1903. Seated next to her is Mayor Jeff Brown. Pictured standing from left to right are Council Members LeeAnn Pitchford, Jeff Holcombe, Kim Jerrell, Rick Pruitt, Kathy Richards and Ron Huckabee.

DE QUEEN – Discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council focused on short-term rentals like AirBnB within the city limits.

Short-term rentals are described as a rental of any residential home or accessory building for a short period of time, typically 30 days or less.
Tuesday night, a De Queen homeowner whose neighbor has established an AirBnB within their home approached the council to question what regulations were in place regarding short-term rentals. She said the frequency of guests has created several issues, including increased traffic on the neighborhood’s one-way street and occasions of trespassing late at night.

City Attorney Erin Hunter said she understood the homeowner’s concerns but said the city has no regulations in place regarding short-term rentals – other than that the home must comply with zoning requirements.

“The city has no mechanism to deal with this and it’s an issue that the council can’t do anything about,” she said.

Mayor Jeff Brown reiterated the lack of any ordinances regarding AirBnBs and other similar rental operations. He said there are two currently operating within the city limits.

“They’re becoming really popular in the last 10 years and a lot of cities are looking at this issue,” said Brown. “As of right now, there are no state regulations or laws against short-term rentals. It’s become a bit of a question of how you regulate it or if you even do regulate it.”

Brown said he and several city officials will travel later this month to a meeting to discuss the topic of short-term rentals and hear from statewide experts on the subject.

“Myself, city clerk Donna Jones and three council members are going to Little Rock next week to a Municipal League conference and they’re going to have a class on short-term rentals to tell us what cities are dealing with and what we might want to look for in the future, or what kind of problems might arise from them,” he said.  “And the benefits of them to the city, also. They’re very popular and I don’t see them going away any time soon.”

In other business, the council heard a report from Wastewater Superintendent Clint Young detailing an “order of consent” submitted by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). Young said the city was recently found out of compliance on the copper content levels in the water released by the city’s wastewater treatment facility.

The order of consent enters the city into an agreement with ADEQ to implement a corrective action plan. Young said that plan is already in place and that the detected levels of excess copper is measured in milligrams per liter.

“It was a very small amount and it’s not considered a health issue,” Young told the council.

The EPA states that excess copper in wastewater is mostly a threat to aquatic wildlife.

The city was fined a total of $1,400 by ADEQ after it was found noncompliant.

Young and Brown said the city is working to determine the source of the higher-than-normal copper levels and correct the issue.

The council then approved a $59,391 bid from Entegrity Energy to install new lighting on field three at the De Queen Sportsplex. Brown reported that the bid came in $20,000 lower than originally budgeted.

The council also approved a $1,250 contract with the Sevier County Humane Socity toward the organization’s low-cost spay and neuter clinics held in De Queen.

In addition, City Clerk/Treasurer Donna Jones marked her last council meeting in that role. She will officially retire at the end of June. It was an emotional moment as she signed her last resolution – one of more than 800 resolutions and 300 ordinances she signed during her 24 years as city clerk/treasurer.

“Looking back at my time with the city, I couldn’t think of anything better to have done than serve the city of De Queen and its people,” she said.

At 24 years, Jones is De Queen’s longest serving clerk/treasurer since the city’s modern form of government was established in 1903. During her time with the city she’s worked alongside a total of five De Queen mayors.

Finally, Z.Z. Kamruddin reported on behalf of the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce that last month’s bass tournament was a success, even if participation was lower than in 2023. He said the total number of anglers – 265 – most likely reflected higher-than-normal lake levels and the chances for severe weather both before and immediately after the bass tournament. Nonetheless, he said the event is quickly growing into a family tradition for many across the region.

Upon a request by Kamruddin, Mayor Brown also stated that beginning next year the city pool would be open the Saturday of the bass tournament to provide anglers and their families with another opportunity during their time in Sevier County.

The council is scheduled to meet again July 2. 

Lifelong Leopard Tristan Snider returning to De Queen as coach      06/06/24

By Doug Dunson

DE QUEEN – The De Queen athletic staff has several young coaches coming aboard.

Among them is Tristan Snider who has multigeneration Leopard roots.

I was born and raised in De Queen. I went to school in De Queen kindergarten through 12th grade,” he said. “My parents (Steve and Linda) were in the class of 1988. They were high school sweethearts.”

When attending DHS, Snider starred at center for the Leopards. After high school graduation in 2017, he spent one year at Coffeyville Junior College in Coffeyville, Kan. He then transferred to Henderson State University where he earned his degree.

His first coaching position was at Dierks where he coached football – offensive line, defensive line, defensive coordinator – as well as softball and track. He considers his two years there as well-spent.

Dierks was amazing. The staff was easy to work with. It’s a close community. I made some lifelong friends there,” Snider said.

He speaks highly of Dierks head football coach Paul Ernest. “I can’t say enough about him. He gave us responsibility and let us run with it. He helped me out a lot.”

At De Queen Snider will be an assistant in football and the head junior boys track coach. In the classroom he will teach seventh grade physical education and eighth grade social studies.

He has been interested in coaching since his pee-wee football days when one of his coaches just so happened to be his dad. 

The attraction is just connecting with the kids, pushing them to be better and at the same time have fun with it,” he explained. “I relate to the big guys. I’ve put on the pads and been in the game.”

The young coach has found that sometimes young players have trouble learning what to do. 

It’s hard to frustrate me. I’m pretty laid back,” Snider said. “I’ll start thinking ‘Am I doing what I need to do to coach him?’ Kids learn differently.”

The fault that is hardest for him to deal with is “not putting in the attitude and the effort to be better.”

At Dierks, Snider was dealing with a spread offense, a long way from De Queen’s Flexbone. “The transition is not hard scheme-wise. It’s harder with the terminology,” he said. “I loved to run in high school. As an offensive lineman, I want to run the ball.”

Making lifelong friends and lifelong memories are two of the things that football means for Snider. “I only played a year at Coffeyville and still stay in touch,” he said.

What he remembers most about playing the sport at De Queen is how much he enjoyed it. “The battles with Mena were always fun,” he recalled.

My junior year Hot Springs was on top of the conference. We lit them up, mercy ruled them. Winning’s not everything, but it sure is fun when you’re doing it with your friends and brothers.”

Another highly memorable game was with another school from Hot Springs whose bus ran off the road on the way to De Queen. “We played Lakeside on a Monday after their bus wreck on Friday. They were number one in the conference. It came down to a field goal. Any game was fun for me. I love to compete.”

The Leopard football staff includes some who coached Snider in his playing days. The staff also includes Snider’s former teammates and long time friends Drew Dykes and Adrian Mendoza. “I’ve known them since we were little,” he said.

I’m excited to bring my knowledge to the game with my buddies and the coaches that coached me,” Snider said. “I’m just happy being home right now.”

Returning to De Queen is not the only recent change in Snider’s life. He is newly married to Karley who teaches fourth grade.

Rotary Club donates to survivor’s fund, hears report on Imagination Library      06/06/24

 

Sevier County Senior Day moved to next week      05/30/24

DE QUEEN – This Friday’s 42nd annual Sevier County Senior Citizens Appreciation Day has been postponed due to the threat of inclement weather.

The big event was scheduled to be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse, with registration to begin at 8:30 a.m. Instead, all activities have been moved to next Friday, June 7. The event will still be held on the courthouse lawn from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and everyone aged 55 and older is invited to attend.

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.

ASP seeks public’s help in Hempstead Co. hit and run      05/30/24

HOPE – Arkansas State Police (ASP) is asking for the assistance of anyone who may have information relating to a Hempstead County pedestrian hit-and-run that left a Texarkana, Texas, man dead.

On Monday, May 27, 2024, at around 12:35 a.m., ASP responded to an unresponsive subject at the 28-mile marker near Hope on Interstate 30 Westbound in Hempstead County. The victim was located on the shoulder of the road and was pronounced dead on the scene by the Hempstead County Coroner.

Witnesses reported that the deceased individual was last seen walking away from a store in Hope. The victim has been identified as Cameron Evans, 33.

Evans’ body will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory.

ASP’s Criminal Investigation Division is asking anyone who may have been traveling on I-30 in Hempstead County near Hope overnight Sunday, May 26, into Monday morning, May 27, and witnessed anything unusual or who know anything about a suspect vehicle to contact ASP CID Company C at (870) 777-8944.

Harvest Regional Food Bank passing out food in Lockesburg      05/30/24

LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank will distribute USDA Commodities directly from its truck on Wednesday, June 19 in Lockesburg. The truck will be parked from 9-11 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia Street.

Recipients must come inside the church to check in. Once checked in, recipients will go back to their vehicle and proceed to line up along W. Magnolia and the church parking lot. The line will continue up W. Magnolia to S. Park Ave. than north on S. Park Ave. towards W Spruce St. Harvest’s next Mobile Pantry in Sevier County will be Sept. 18.

Recipients must bring photo identification or proof of address to verify they are a resident of Sevier County. Distribution is limited to one box per household and two households per vehicle.

Once again, the Arkansas Minority Health Commission will host its Mobile Health Unit at the June 19 mobile pantry and will be offering free cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, BMI, and oxygen/pulse checks. Organizers will also be providing other health education services.

Harvest Regional Food Bank passing out food in Lockesburg      05/30/24

LITTLE ROCK — Among the dozens of regulations changes passed at the May 16 Arkansas Game and Fish Commission meeting in El Dorado, one stood head and shoulders above the rest in creating the most chatter among the state’s deer hunting community. Arkansas hunters will now be able to use non-semiautomatic firearms that shoot straight-wall metallic cartridges of .30 caliber or larger during Arkansas’s muzzleloader season. The same firearms also will be legal during modern gun season in Deer Zones 4 and 5, which traditionally only allowed muzzleloaders and shotguns firing slugs.

Although similar regulations have been in place in other states, it’s always good to run through a refresher of the regulation to help people stay legal in case they want to dust off an old firearm that has been a safe queen for the last decade or are interested in purchasing a new gun and ammunition to take advantage of the new opportunity. More than one sporting goods store has already contacted the AGFC asking which rifles and cartridges they should order in preparation for the new alternative firearms season opener (set for Oct. 19).

Scrap the Scattergun
The first thing to note about the new regulation is that shotguns firing slugs, while legal during modern gun season, will not be allowed during the alternative weapons season. All cartridges used during the alternative weapons season must be metallic cartridges. 

Hunters in Zones 4 and 5 will still be able to use shotguns like before, but during the new alternative firearms season, they won’t be allowed. Zones 4 and 5 still will not have an open alternative firearms season, so the difference shouldn’t cause any issues with a hunter from these zones bringing the wrong gun to the hunt.

A few questions have already come in through the AGFC’s phone lines asking if a shotgun modified with a rifled barrel and converted to be essentially a “slug gun” will be allowed during the alternative firearms season. The straightforward answer is “no.” The hunt is not intended to allow slug guns, and the shotgun shell holding the slug does not fit the definition of a metallic cartridge. 

Straight Talk
A flood of questions have come in during the last few weeks about what cartridges are considered straight wall. 

Is a .30-30 allowed? What about .35 Whelen?”

These rounds may be allowed in other states, but for Arkansas’s alternative firearms season or modern gun season in Zones 4 and 5, they’re straight out. 

If you look at the profile of the cartridge’s case, both of those rounds have a shoulder where the brass is necked down to accommodate a bullet diameter that’s smaller than the base of the case,” Lt. Col. Jake Dunn of the AGFC’s Enforcement Division said. “Any shoulder in the brass case will disqualify it as an option for any straight-wall requirement in Arkansas. Indentations in some straight-wall cartridge cases near the base where the primer is found (called extractor grooves) are legal, however.”

No Auto
A surge of straight-wall semiautos have hit the market since traditional “shotgun only” states adopted straight-wall rifles as legal during their deer seasons. These are good firearms to hunt deer with during Arkansas’s modern gun season in most of the state, but they will not be allowed during the new alternative firearms season, nor will they be allowed in Deer Zones 4 and 5 during those modern gun hunts. 

There are some AR-style platforms that are actually bolt-actions, and we’ve heard about some drop-in conversion kits available that change some automatic rifles to bolt-actions,” Dunn said. “Those would be legal according to the code.”

Ol’ Betsy
If your hunting budget won’t fit a new firearm into this season’s purchases, don’t sweat it. You can still dance with the one you’ve been bringing the last few seasons. Muzzleloaders meeting Arkansas’s traditional regulations may still be used during the hunt. Many hunters have invested a lot of time, energy and money into working up their perfect black-powder load for deer, and many modern muzzleloaders are fully capable of ethically taking whitetails within 150 yards with a well-placed shot. Considering most deer harvested in Arkansas are well within 100 yards of the hunter, the old smokepole is still big medicine for any deer walking the woods of The Natural State. 

Front-stuffers must have barrels 19 inches or longer and must be .40 caliber or larger. Scopes and other magnifying sights may also be used.

Handclap
A few questions also have trickled in regarding the use of handguns that fit the definition of straight-wall cartridges. Non-semiautomatic handguns (including revolvers and single-shots) chambered for straight-wall cartridges of at least .30 caliber will be legal during the alternative firearms hunting season. Hunters opting for handguns should note that all cartridge-firing handguns must have a barrel at least 4 inches long to be legal for deer hunting. Muzzleloading handguns with barrels at least 9 inches may also be used as long as they shoot conical bullets of .45 caliber or larger or round balls of .530 caliber or larger.

Just as with any firearm, hunters should use good judgment in cartridge selection. A few underpowered cartridges may technically fit the definition to be a legal handgun during the alternative hunt as well as the modern gun hunt, but they may not provide a fast, ethical harvest. Larger, magnum cartridges, such as .357 Magnum, .44 Remington Magnum and ethical shot distances within 50 yards are highly recommended. Handgun hunters also should make sure the bullets in those cartridges are soft points or hollow points instead of full-metal jacket ammunition (which is illegal).

Local American Legion hosts Memorial Day service on Sevier County Courthouse lawn      05/28/24

The American Legion Color Guard hosted a presentation of arms, a military gun salute and a performance of Taps.

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

Around several dozen people attend the ceremony on Monday, including local officials, veterans and members of the community.

Ricky Hendricks, commander of the De Queen-based American Legion Post #54, said he was pleased with the turnout as organizers hosted the memorial service on the lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse.

“I think it turned out really well. I was glad to see we had a pretty good crowd out here today and it was an honor to be here and take part in this,” he said.

The Legion hosted a memorial to the fallen soldier as well as a military gun salute, flag raising ceremony and a performance of Taps.

Tim Litchford, a veteran and De Queen firefighter, lowers the American flag while American Legion Post #54 Commander Ricky Hendricks salutes the colors during a Memorial Day service on the lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse.

Members of the local Legion post presented the organization’s Officer of the Year awards to Lt. Chad Bradshaw of the De Queen Police Department and Sevier County Jail Administrator Chris Wolcott (DQPD Captain Sonny Kimmel accepted the award on Wolcott’s behalf).

One of the highlights of the service was a rededication for the recently-restored cannon on the courthouse lawn. The Sevier County Road Department recently restored the cannon with a fresh coat of paint, new tires and some other touch ups. The piece looks like it just rolled off the factory line. Organizers also expressed their gratitude to Baker’s Sales and Service in De Queen for helping reinstall the cannon earlier this year.

Hendricks said it’s great to have the cannon back in place on the courthouse memorial dedicated to those from Sevier County who were killed in action.

“We’re glad to have it back. It looks great. It’s a great piece of history and we’re just glad to have it here to honor our fallen soldiers,” said Hendricks.

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. Figures range from just several completed to around 200.

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.

Chuck Ault of the American Legion presents DQPD Lt. Chad Bradshaw with the local organization’s Officer of the Year award. Chris Wolcott received the American Legion’s Deputy of the Year award.

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.

The American Legion hosted a rededication ceremony for the newly-renovated cannon on the lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse. The cannon is one of just several known examples and dates from the 1940s.

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.

Hendricks said the Legion was honored to host the event and hopes more veterans in the community become involved with the organization and its community efforts.

“Our meeting is held on the second Monday of each month at 513 North Eighth Street or you can contact me at (870) 584-8051 and I’ll answer your call,” he said. “We’d be happy to have a lot of younger veterans come in and be part of the Legion.”

National Weather Service confirms EF1 tornado in Sevier County      05/24/24

DE QUEEN – The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado was responsible for home damage and power outages in Sevier County Friday morning, local emergency responders are reporting.

Sevier County OEM Coordinator Matt Webb said a team from the National Weather Service arrived Friday afternoon to determine if that morning’s storm resulted in a small-scale tornado. He said the team confirmed it was an EF1 tornado with wind speeds approaching EF2-levels. An official survey report is expected soon.

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 high winds caused by the tornado. Fortunately, no injuries were reported from the storm system.

Major roadways were cleared shortly after eight o’clock Friday morning 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.

Another severe storm system rolled through Texas, Oklahoma and into Northwest Arkansas early Sunday morning, resulting in a widespread path of destruction and the loss of at least 22 lives.

Eight people were killed in Arkansas during the storm early Sunday morning, including three in Benton County. Rogers was among the most damaged areas, according to statewide reporting.

One victim died as a result of losing power to their oxygen machine they depended on for a chronic disease. Another person in Benton County died after a tree fell onto their home. Other storm-related fatalities were reported in Boone, Washington and Madison Counties.

Victims and emergency responders are still sorting through the wreckage in affected communities in those counties. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced a state of emergency for the state on Sunday and toured the damaged areas on Monday. The order authorizes additional funds to assist with recovery efforts.

Brad Porter snags top catch at 34th annual Judge Ray Big Bass Tournament      05/28/24

DE QUEEN – Despite a questionable weekend weather forecast and above normal lake conditions, over 200 anglers competed for the more than $30,000 in cash prizes availble during the 34th Annual Judge Greg Ray Tri-Lakes Bass Festival on De Queen, Dierks, and Gillham Lakes.

Brad Porter snagged the biggest bass of the day during the second hour on Dierks Lake. Porter’s bass tipped the scales at 5.96 pounds earning him $2,000. In fact, like 2023, four of the top five biggest bass this year were caught on Dierks Lake. Second place and $1,000 went to Ethan Hall for a 5.87-pound lunker during the second hour on Dierks Lake. Third place and $750 went to Chase Mitchell with a 5.85-pound bass also caught during the second hour on Dierks Lake.

Zack Currence earned $500 and fourth place overall with a 5.45-pound bass caught during the third hour on Dierks Lake. Rounding out the top five was Bill Huddleston with a 5.41-pound bass caught during the opening hour on De Queen Lake.

The top five finishers each hour on each lake earned cash prizes. The $30,000 Reel the Weight prize – sponsored by De Queen Auto Group, Tri-Lakes Realty and Bailey Discount Building Supply – was not claimed as none of the biggest bass were able to match the secret weight.

After the six-hour tournament ended at 1 p.m., anglers gathered at De Queen’s Herman Dierks Park for the awards ceremony at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Sevier County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Suzanne Babb thanked the tournament fishermen, sponsors, and volunteers for making this year’s 34th annual bass festival the best yet.

“A huge shout out and thank you to all of our sponsors, we could not host this event without them,” she said. “We had several new sponsors this year and we had door prizes for the fisherman. The volunteers were great, too. We have a new wave of young volunteers that are helping and learning all the ins and outs. They all had a great time.”

Attendance was down from last year’s tournament. However, Babb said that was expected given the higher-than-normal levels on all three lakes and a Saturday surrounded by bad weather.

“We were down about 49 people, but the weather played a part in that and I know several folks were worried about lake levels and traveling long distances if they were closed,” said Babb. “But the ones who did come, they were excited that it was going to give everyone a fighting chance.”

Babb said enthusiasm was high as the tournament kicked off. She said the bass tournament has become a tradition for families.

“I was really excited about the turnout, everyone was enthusiastic,” she said. “I talked to several people as they were registering and for them it’s an annual thing for them that they look forward to every year. You have fathers and sons and now even grandfathers all fishing together. It’s become a family tradition.”

The tournament is one of the biggest events of the year for the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce. Babb said it serves as a way to showcase Sevier County’s outdoors opportunities and increase tourism by drawing in anglers from across the region.

“This year, the furthest one I found so far, was from Newcastle, Okla., which is 230 miles away,” Bass said. “We had anglers from way off in Texas, Northwest Arkansas, Louisiana. It does draw in quite a few visitors to our area.”

Work has already begun on hosting next year’s tournament. The event is annually held on Saturday during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

City of De Queen pool, splash pad now open      05/28/24

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

The city pool opened for the first day of the season this past Monday, May 27, Memorial Day.

Following the big opening day, the hours of public swim are now Monday through Friday from 12-5 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 is $4 per person and season passes can be purchased for $50. Family passes for four or more family members are available at a cost of $200. Several scheduled times are still available as of Tuesday morning, said De Queen Parks and Recreation Director Gaytha Bakenhus.

Pool parties can be booked during afternoon and evening hours Monday through Saturday by contacting the De Queen Parks and Recreation Department at (870) 642-4140. Pool parties are available for booking on Wednesday and Sunday by Vacation Bible Schools and other church groups only.

The parks department is also opening the city’s splash pad for its third year. The project was funded and debuted in 2022 thanks to a $480,000 grant from Pilgrim’s.

Local, state law enforcement team 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.