Monday, October 26, 2020

LOCAL NEWS

Today's News

Sevier County voters to decide wet/dry issue this election   10/23/20

The full audio interview is featured here:

The partial transcript is available below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

One issue which is certainly driving Sevier County voters to the polls this year is the question of legalizing alcohol sales.
 
The sale of alcohol has been illegal in Sevier County since Prohibition took effect in the 1920s. Even after Prohibition ended, the ban continued in Sevier County and numerous others across the state and region. A group of local business owners and residents are hoping to bring that ban to a final end.
 
The Sevier County EDGE Vote for Growth Committee announced its intention to overturn the vote this year by bringing it to all of Sevier County’s voters. After gaining more than the minimum-amount of needed petition signatures back int he summer, the issue was officially placed on the ballot for the 2020 November General Election.
 
Naturally, an issue like this can lead to controversy. The sale of alcohol has been prohibited in the county for a century. But organizers behind this effort stress it’s time for a change. Specifically, they see alcohol sales as a way to stimulate economic growth in a time when rural communities are suffering due to declining manufacturing and increasing centralization of large industries in metropolitan areas, reducing job creation, the tax revenue base and tourism-related growth.
 
Monica Pearce of De Queen is one of the volunteers behind the effort to legalize alcohol sales in Sevier County. Given the proximity to Little River County and McCurtain County in Oklahoma – both of which allow for the sale of alcohol – Pearce said legalizing sales here would collect revenue already being spent elsewhere.
 
Pearce and other Sevier County EDGE members stress this change, if passed, won’t mean a liquor store on every corner. The issue would provide for up to three liquor stores in the county and allow restaurants to apply for licenses to sell alcohol on their premises. Allow restaurants to serve alcohol, Pearce said, would help local tourism attract more visitors.
 
Sevier County residents who have voiced opposition say things can get slippery when wet. Their opposition to the issue largely cites the negative impacts alcohol can have on a community. Unbiased, national-level statistics don’t appear to be available detailing the change in alcohol-related crime and motor vehicle accidents once a county goes wet. But results from other communities which have done so are mixed. Alcohol-related incidents in Craighead County were increasing before the county went wet and continued to do so for a couple of years after the change. But then they began to fall off and remained lower than in previous years.
 
In neighboring Little River County, officials who asked to remain anonymous said they’ve noticed little to no change since the county went wet in 2016. They stated charges for the offense of driving while intoxicated and public intoxicated saw a sizable decrease since the county voted to legalize alcohol sales. Law enforcement agencies in other communities have cited the fact that people have to drive less to get alcohol and are thereby less likely to drink and drive.
 
Other studies have been somewhat of a mixed bag of results. For instance, a 2000-circa study by the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University in New York found alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents increased in communities (the paper studies 237 alcohol-related policy changes within communities in Texas) where on-site consumption of alcohol was legalized, such as in a bar or restaurant. However, the study then finds expected accidents “may actually decrease” in communities where the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption is allowed.
 
Going off Little River’s relatively positive experience since going wet, Pearce and other Sevier County EDGE members are telling voters they don’t expect much change locally if the issue passes.
 
The issue is open to all Sevier County voters to decide this year. However the issue turns out once the election ends next week, no doubt local residents are going to be paying very close attention to the results – whether that means alcohol remains illegal to sell in Sevier County or that it will be allowed for the first time in 100 years.

Early voting continues this week   10/26/20

DE QUEEN – Early voting continues this week across Arkansas.

Voters casting their ballots early in Sevier County last week likely noticed some changes from previous elections. Six-foot markers were in place to help ensure CDC-required social distancing. Election workers donned masks and other personal protective equipment. Free, disposable styluses were handed out to each voter to make sure no one had to personally touch anything. Although masks are not required, almost no one entered the polling location without one on their face.

Early voting will continue in Sevier County through Nov. 2 at the Herman Dierks Park Community Building in De Queen. The location is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekday this week and, for the convenience of voters, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday. The last day to early vote is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 2.

Little River County residents can cast their early vote at the Little River County Election Center located at 349 North Third Street in Ashdown. Early voting for citizens of Little River County is also available at the Foreman Community Center at 200 Shuman Street in Foreman.

Both locations are open Monday through Friday this week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday. Early voting continues through Monday, Nov. 2. Early voting hours that day are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Election day itself will be Nov. 3.

Although early voting is now underway, Arkansans who’d rather skip in-person voting still have today and tomorrow to request an absentee ballot application. A statewide executive order issued by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the summer authorizes every Arkansan to vote absentee this year. Before requesting an absentee ballot, however, you must complete an absentee ballot application. These can be found at your county clerk’s office or on the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website at sos.Arkansas.gov.

The request must then be turned in to your local county clerk’s office. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Tuesday, Oct. 27. The ballot must be received via mail by 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. If submitting your absentee ballot in person, you must do so by close of business on Nov. 2, the day before the election.

Election officials are reminding voters who choose to mail in their ballot that they are required to cover the postage fee. The cost to mail back your ballot in the provided envelop is $1.40.

Voters seeking additional information are welcome to call their county clerk’s office. In Sevier County, that number is (870) 642-2852. In Little River County, call (870) 898-7210. Howard County residents can call (870) 845-7502 and, in Polk County, (479) 394-8123.

2020 DHS Homecoming festivities kick off today with Spirit Week   10/26/20

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School’s Homecoming Ceremonies kick off this week in preparation for the big event this Friday night.

The De Queen High School Student Council announced earlier this month that Halle Harp will be the 2020 DHS Homecoming Queen. She will be escorted by twenty-six DHS homecoming maids. The ceremonies are set for this Friday, Oct. 30, when the De Queen Leopards football team will take on the Magnolia Panthers. Homecoming festivities will kick-off with spirit week beginning today and continuing through Oct. 29.

Spirit days include: Scare the Panthers Monday, when students will be allowed wear their Halloween costume; Don’t Sleep on the Leopards Tuesday, when students will be allowed to wear pajamas; Way Back Wednesday, when students will dress in fashion from a past decade; It’s A Cat Fight Thursday, when students will be asked to dress in their designated class color for color wars day. School dress code will apply to spirit week.

Due to Covid-19 precautions and that Friday being a virtual school day for the district, homecoming festivities will look a little different this year. The festivities will begin at 2 p.m. at Leopard Stadium with an afternoon coronation ceremony. DHS is inviting students and the community to attend the ceremony at no cost. There will be no pre-game homecoming ceremony but the homecoming court will be recognized at halftime of the football game. In order to be in compliance with the Arkansas Department of Health, everyone must wear a mask and social distance at the afternoon ceremony and during the football game.

Senior maids for this year’s Homecoming event include Kimberly Delgado, Deciredh Alvarez, Edith Hernandez, Dalania Hibbis, Carlee Helms, Ashley Contreras, Yasmelin Gonzalez, Angie Hernandez, Kynnedi France, Matilda Jacobo, Cristal Caudra, Giovanna Lerma, Perla Zapata, Sara Victoriano, Jessalyn Parker, Ana Marrufo, Kenya Martinez, Ariana Ortiz, Janae Tirado, Parker Sneed, Lizbeth Osura and Diana Ramirez.

Junior maids are Daphne Villeda and Marlen Perez. Sophomore maids are Wendy Victoriano and Amairany Ortiz. Crown bearer is Aileen Lopez while Hernan Fernandez will serve as football bearer.

Local youth raise thousands of dollars at Sale of Champions in Little Rock  10/26/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The annual Sale of Champions livestock auction was held today as part of the Jr. Livestock Show of the Arkansas State Fair. The event, held in Barton Coliseum, raises funds for ag youth scholarships.

Kix Lee of Gillham had an amazing performance throughout this year’s Arkansas State Fair Livestock Show, taking home a number of wins. The biggest no doubt was had at the Sale of Champions, where Lee’s Bronze Medallion Market Steer netted an impressive $6,000 at the auction.

Kinlee Stivers of Lockesburg also had a great performance at the Sale of Champions. Her market hog, which placed fifth overall during the livestock show, raised $1,500 at the auction.

Like so much this year, the 2020 Arkansas State Fair was a decidedly different and limited event. But no so at the Livestock show.

While most of the parking lots at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds have sat empty throughout October, the barns and livestock pens at the southern end of the grounds have been as lively as ever for the past 10 days.

For the first time in decades, the Arkansas State Fair, historically spanning the middle weeks of October, was canceled — another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic that began shuttering businesses and social events in March.

When the Fairgrounds’ board of directors made the decision to cancel the 2020 fair earlier this year, they left the door open to the possibility of conducting the traditional livestock show during the same 10 days in October. Farm families from across Arkansas seized the opportunity.

Chris Sweat, a livestock superintendent for the Arkansas State Fair and former agriculture teacher at Blevins High School in Hempstead County, said many of the young exhibitors and their families simply needed an excuse to get out of the house and off the farm.

The annual livestock show is normally at the heart of a literal carnival, surrounded by acres of rides, vendors and tens of thousands of visitors from around the state. But with the cancellation of the fair itself, the grounds were considerably quieter and less hectic, which Sweat said had helped to lower the general level of stress for everyone involved.

In contrast to the zeroed-out fair attendance, overall participation in various livestock exhibitions was up substantially. Chelsey Kimbrough, associate professor of specialty livestock and youth for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said entries in the various cattle categories alone was up 25 percent over 2019.

Kimbrough said the annual fair offers exhibitors, who often begin raising and showing animals from rabbits to sheep to cattle of every stripe before they themselves even reach the age of 10, the opportunity to show off the work they’ve put into raising animals and lessons they’ve learned in the preceding year.

Stay informed and make sure your vote counts this election year  10/26/20

Election Day 2020 is quickly approaching – a time when Arkansans have the opportunity to have their constitutional rights heard by making important decisions on candidates and issues being considered on the ballot. This year is bringing challenges that have required new precautions to ensure Arkansans are safe while executing their voting rights. State and local election officials say, despite these new challenges and changes, it is important for Arkansans to know that the integrity of the election is preserved and that when a ballot is cast, it will be counted.

Arkansas citizens who have not yet voted can confirm their voting registration, location and precinct with your county clerk on your voter registration card or online at VoterView.org.

Voters can also check with their County Clerk to view a sample ballot before you vote. Sevier County voters can view a sample ballot online on our website, www.kdqn.net

Due to COVID-19, you may request an absentee ballot from the County Clerk’s office by printing an English or Spanish absentee ballot application and return it by mail or in person to your county clerk by October 27.

The Arkansas Health Department issued a guidance for voters to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. They advise wearing masks to your voting location and maintaining six-feet social distancing. Although masks are recommended at voting locations in Arkansas, they are not required.

Voters can review candidate information and state ballot issues by visiting the Secretary of State’s Elections website.

Voters are also encouraged to research ballot issues from a non-partisan source beforehand to be a more informed voter. A great source for unbiased information is available through the Arkansas Voter Guide published by the University of Arkansas Public Policy Center. This guide is available online at www.uaex.edu/ballot

Absentee ballots must be returned to your County Clerk by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. Military ballots must be post marked by Election Day and received by Friday, November 13.

For tips on what to expect at your polling location, you can review the Secretary of State’s Voting 101 Pocket Guide. If you would like to report a voting concern, contact the State Board of Election Commissioners at (501) 682-1834 or visit arkansas.gov/sbec.

Horatio High School NHS hosting Halloween event this weekend   10/26/20

HORATIO – For those looking for a fun but socially distanced Halloween experience, the Horatio High School chapter of the National Honor Society is offering just that for area children this weekend. The organization will be handing out candy through a no-touch candy drop. A candy chute will be set up to deliver treats and ensure no-contact procedures are in place. Visitors are event welcome to stay in their vehicle if they wish.

The event will take place this Saturday, Halloween night, from 6-8 p.m. at Horatio High School, located on Metcalf Street. Please enter the east drive and exit the west drive of the high school.

Deer-related accidents on the rise this time of year   10/26/20

Rut is in full swing in most parts of the state, and with the increased deer activity comes something that happens to hundreds of Arkansas drivers every year – a collision with a deer.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission advises all motorists to be aware of what may be just beyond the edge of the road while driving during this time of year. In addition to the increased deer activity, the shortened days place rush hour during the peak times of day when deer are on the move.

One way to increase safety is simply slowing down. Giving yourself a split-second longer to see and react to deer along the side of the road often can be the difference between a safe braking job and a dangerous situation. Give yourself a few extra minutes in the morning and at night to get where you’re going and arrive safely.

When it is dark, use your high beams whenever the road is free of oncoming traffic. This will allow a deer’s eyes to shine, even when along the side of the road, so that you are prepared if one starts making its way toward you.

While jokes abound about deer crossing signs and the Arkansas Department of Transportation simply moving them to a crosswalk to let deer cross in those areas, the signs are there for a reason. According to ADOT, these signs are placed at areas where they have been requested by people observing multiple instances of animals crossing the road and where vehicle collisions have occurred.

Never swerve to avoid a deer in the road. Swerving can confuse the deer on where to run. Swerving can also cause a head-on collision with oncoming vehicles, take you off the roadway into a tree or a ditch, and greatly increase the chances of serious injuries. If a deer does move into your path, maintain control and do your best to brake and give the deer time to get out of your way.

If you do collide with a deer or other large animal, call emergency services at once if injuries are involved, or local law enforcement if no one is injured but damage has been caused to your vehicle. Also give the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission a call at 800-482-9262 to report the road kill. Report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

A frequent question to the Game and Fish Commission is, “If I hit and kill a deer on a road, can I keep the deer for meat?” The answer is yes, and it does not count on a hunter’s season limit. Once a wildlife officer records the incident, he or she also may know of a needy family in the area who would take the meat.

ADH’s COVID-19 report shows growing active cases in region   10/26/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County continue to grow as part of a nationwide surge in rural COVID-19 cases across the country. National and state health experts are calling this the third wave of COVID-19 and its impact is disproportionately falling on rural communities. Active cases in Sevier County fell below the single digit mark in late September/early October but have steadily increased since.

As of Sunday afternoon, Sevier County is reporting 69 confirmed active cases of the virus. That’s an increase of 15 since Friday’s report. Total cases grew by 18 over the same period. Deaths fortunately did not increase and remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County saw a slight decrease in its active case count, which fell by three on Sunday to 22. Total cases increased by 15 over the weekend to 447. Deaths remain at 38.

Howard County reported a rise in its active cases over the weekend, which saw a net increase of 12 since Friday. Active cases in the county now number 41. Total cases crew by 21 over the same period to 577. Deaths remain at 14.

Active cases in Polk County saw a net increase of just one active case of COVID-19 over the weekend, raising the current total to 30. Total cases grew by 12 to 354. Deaths remain at five.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional COVID-19-related death over the weekend. That raises the county’s total to 39 – the highest in the region. Active cases of COVID-19 in McCurtain County remain the highest in the region at 220. That includes six new cases confirmed over the weekend. Total cases grew by 37 over the weekend to 1,614.

Across Arkansas, an additional 1,337 cases were confirmed on Thursday. That’s the largest one-day growth in cases since the pandemic began. Nearly 800 cases were confirmed on Sunday, raising the cumulative total to 106,115. Deaths increased by 15 on Sunday to 1,812. Hospitalizations increased again, rising by 14 to 633 Arkansas currently hospitalized. Active positives rose by 231 on Sunday to 9,766. That’s a record-setting level of active cases in Arkansas and surpasses any totals seen so far since the pandemic.

Local, state and national health officials continue to stress the importance of wearing a face mask in public settings, washing hands frequently and maintaining six-feet of social distancing where possible. Arkansans are also encouraged to get their flu shots as soon as possible in hopes of alleviating an aggressive flu season in the midst of a renewed COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Mayor Jeff Brown

State Representative DeAnn Vaught

State Senator Larry Teague

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

US Senator John Boozman

US Representative Bruce Westerman

Previously Reported

Erin Hunter of De Queen to be area's new prosecuting attorney   10/23/20

DE QUEEN – The Ninth West Judicial District will receive its first new prosecuting attorney in a dozen years.

In an announcement made Thursday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson stated his intent to appoint Erin Hunter of De Queen as the district’s new prosecuting attorney. She will replace Bryan Chesshir, who has held the position since 2008. Hunter is currently a deputy prosecutor for the Ninth West Judicial District and also serves as the legal counsel for the City of De Queen. Her term begins Jan. 1, 2021 and continues through Dec. 31, 2022.

The Ninth West Judicial District encompasses Sevier, Howard, Little River and Pike Counties.

Hutchinson said Hunter’s experience in various prosecutorial roles places her as a highly qualified candidate for the position of top prosecuting attorney.

In a statement, Hunter praised Chesshir for faithfully executing his term as an elected prosecutor. Chesshir himself has more than 22 years of prosecutorial experience including 12 years as the area’s prosecuting attorney. In 2017 he was recognized as the Prosecuting Attorney of the Year by the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association.

We hope to bring you more on this story in the near future.

Dierks School District listed in school “red zone” report from ACHI   10/23/20

DIERKS – The Dierks School District has been placed in a COVID-19 “red zone,” according to a new report by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI).

The report and graphics, which were released yesterday, show Dierks as one of 42 school districts in the state which have reported 50 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 district residents over a two week period. State health experts deem these areas as “red zones” for the rate of COVID-19 transmissions.

The report does not state these cases are within the school itself. Rather, it details transmissions of the virus among the population within those school districts. In fact, the Dierks School District is not even listed on the latest school report – released yesterday by the Arkansas Department of Health. That report includes each school district in Arkansas with five or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its students and staff.

The only local school district featured on the list is De Queen, with 14 currently confirmed active cases. However, De Queen remains in the “yellow zone” according to the Arkansas Center for Health Improvements due to the lower per capita rate of infection within the entire school district. In effect, De Queen’s cases remain below the point-five percent level.

The two week period detailed in the report spans from Oct. 5 through Oct. 19. The 42 “red zone” schools announced Thursday is nearly double from the 23 identified during the previous two-week period.

Dr. Joe Thompson, president of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvements, said the report shows COVID-19 is still an invisible and serious threat that continues to spread across the state.

Today is deadline for Arkansas Wildlife Conservation Grants   10/23/20

LITTLE ROCK – Today is the deadline for educators to apply for free money to help teach conservation education in Arkansas. Interested schools and educators can apply for more than $735,000 in education grants but must do so by the end of the day. The deadline was previously extended by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas Economic Development Commission, but today marks the final deadline.

More information on the program, a link to the application site and a county-by-county list of grant money are available atwww.agfc.com/conservationgrants

There is nearly $3,700 available in grant money in Sevier County, over $5,100 in Polk, $5,600 in Howard and $4,500 in Little River County.

The money for the grants comes from fines collected for wildlife violations in each Arkansas county. The money collected by courts is sent to the AEDC and earmarked for conservation education programs. Qualifying grant programs include Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program, Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, Fishing in the Natural State, the Schoolyard Habitat Program, Stream Teams and other educational programs that introduce youth to natural resources. Reimbursement for field trip expenses to AGFC nature and education centers, hatcheries and other field experiences also may qualify for grants.

These grants have funded a variety of youth shooting sports and conservation activities and programs in the listening area.

DQPD participating in 2020 Arkansas Drug Take Back day   10/23/20

DE QUEEN – Local and state law enforcement agencies are teaming up this weekend to encourage Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets in an effort to make their homes and communities safer. These agencies are organizing more than 250 drop-off locations throughout Arkansas for this year’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

This annual event will be held this Saturday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations across the state. At these events Arkansans are encouraged to bring any unused or expired medications and drop them off, no questions asked.

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

Prescription Drug Take Back Day is held semi-annually with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs and Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy. The DEA, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers also participate each year.

The De Queen Police Department and local drug taskforce unit will participate on Drug Take Back Day by setting up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the De Queen Walmart Store this Saturday. A year-round drug collection site is also located at the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office. The Ashdown Police Department and Little River County Sheriff’s Office also feature year-round collection sites.

Other events and more information on Drug Take Back Day in Arkansas can be found at ARTakeBack.org. Since the program began, more than 72 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is an estimated 201 million individual pills.

Weather likely to get wet over next week in listening area   10/23/20

DE QUEEN – It’s likely to get a little wet in the listening area today and throughout next week.

According to the National Weather Service, showers and thunderstorms are possible throughout Friday morning and into the afternoon. Chances are currently hovering around 80 percent. Chances are only 20 percent tonight, so hopefully the weather will have no impact on the football games scheduled around the area this evening.

A cold front is expected to bring in additional rain starting Sunday and continuing throughout next week. Chances are currently between 40 and 60 percent through next Thursday.

Highs and lows will see a sizeable drop after a heat wave hit the area this week. Tonight’s low is 48, nearly 20 degrees less than other nights this week. Lows will remain in the 40s and 50s next week.

Although De Queen’s traditional first frost day falls around Oct. 26, temperatures will not get low enough just yet to cause that to occur.

Horatio Haunted House returns this weekend   10/23/20

HORATIO – Get ready for another weekend of thrills, scares and screams with the “Screams of the Night” Haunted House in Horatio. The haunted house kicks off again tonight and Saturday night with two more performances scheduled for Oct. 30 and 31. The event, which is billed as the biggest haunted house in the Ark-La-Tex area, is open nightly from 7 p.m. to midnight. The haunted house is located at the intersection of Highway 24 and Highway 41 on 120 Headstream Road.

“Screams of the Night” is hosted annually by the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department. This is the fire department’s seventh year to put on the production. In previous years the event featured concessions, an indoor waiting area in case of rain, outdoor fire pits to keep visitors warm and waiting areas for family members too scared to enter. The haunted house includes around 40 rooms with character actors inside sure to give visitors the fright of a lifetime.

Proceeds benefit the volunteer fire department and its mission in the community. In previous years money raised through the haunted house was used to towards a new fire engine for the city and free smoke alarms for residents who don’t have one. Money raised has also been used to provide needed supplies for residents who lost their home due to a fire.

For more information visit the Horatio Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Time is here for Arkansas' spectacular foliage change of colors   10/23/20

DE QUEEN – Are you ready to plan your fall road trips yet? Whether you have or have not, now’s a good time to travel the Natural State. The state’s fall foliage is about to be in seen in its full glory.

Arkansas may be known for its hot springs, beautiful lakes, and rivers but make no mistake the fall foliage in Arkansas can compete with anywhere in the state.

The state of Arkansas turns into gorgeous shades of reds, oranges, and yellows every fall. 

The fall foliage will be in its full glory from late October to mid-November every year. 

2020 will not be any different so it’s time you start planning your annual Arkansas fall foliage road trip that will take you on an a peaceful and beautiful journey to all of the most scenic spots in Arkansas to see the leaves change color.

Fall colors begin to appear in the Ozarks and other northern sections of the state by the second week in October and continue slowly toward the southern part of the state.

Late October and early November generally provides peak fall color in our corner of Arkansas. October and November are two of the most popular months that travelers in Arkansas can see the beautiful fall colors and cool brisk weather.

There’s plenty of places here in Sevier County to see the colors change. But for some really amazing displays, you just need to travel a short distance north to Polk County, Mena and the surrounding Ouachita Mountains. The Talimena Scenic drive is particularly popular this time of year.

Every autumn, nature paints the mountains and valleys of the Ouachita Mountains with gorgeous hues of gold, red and orange. Many of Arkansas’s visitors travel here for special fall vacations to catch a glimpse (and take some incredible instagrammable photos) of the season.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Polk, McCurtain Counties report additional deaths   10/23/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County saw another increase on Thursday, growing by four to 53. Total cases increased by 10 to 1,301 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County saw a slight growth in its active case count, which rose by two to 19. Total cases increased by six to 432. Deaths remain at 38.

Howard County active cases increased by five over the past 24 hours to a total of 29. Total cases increased by 10 to 556. Deaths remain at 14.

Polk County reported its first additional death due to COVID-19 on Thursday in over a month. That raises the death toll in the county to five. However, active cases of the virus saw another day of decline, dropping by two to 29. Total cases increased by just one to 342.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional COVID-19-related death on Thursday. That raises the county’s total to 38. Active positives increased again on Thursday by 11 to 214. Total cases grew by 20 to 1,577.

Across Arkansas, an additional 1,202 cases were confirmed on Thursday. That’s the third largest one-day growth in cases since the pandemic began and raises the state’s cumulative total to 102,798. Deaths increased by 21 to 1,772. Hospitalizations however saw another day of decline, falling by 24 to 612. Active positives did see an increase of 210 to 8,730 confirmed active cases in Arkansas.

Volunteers still sought for 2020 Trunk or Treat in De Queen   10/23/20

DE QUEEN – Volunteers with De Queen’s 2020 Halloween Trunk or Treat are still seeking volunteers for this year’s event. After last year’s success, the event will be moving to the Sportsplex to accommodate even more activities and visitors. The event is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31.

Members of the community are invited to host a car or game at this year’s Trunk or Treat. There is no cost to enter a car or activity. Organizers are also asking the community to support the event by donating candy. Anyone wanting to donate candy for the event can do so at Meraki Hair Studio, Top Line or Peak Therapy in the Town North Shopping Center. Organizers are asking participants in this year’s Trunk or Treat to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Set up time for Trunk or Treat participants is 2:30 on Halloween. There will be a contest for best decorated car voted on by the kids. For more information and a sign up sheet, visit the De Queen Trunk or Treat event page on Facebook. You can also contact Alicia Gonzalez at 784-0628.

Ashdown Panther Theater to perform “Annie” this weekend   10/23/20

Area residents are invited to attend Ashdown High School’s reproduction of the popular play Annie, scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday.

Community performances are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24 and Sunday, Oct. 25 with performances at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. both days.  Adult tickets are $5 and student tickets are $3. Tickets can be purchased through the end of today at the Ashdown Public Schools administration office.

Tickets will be pre-sold as the auditorium audience capacity is currently limited at 100 with Arkansas Department of Health guidelines. The play is directed by Ginger Hillis.

Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie.

 


De Queen Leopards Marching Band earns first-division rating for first time since 1990s   10/22/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

First Division – The De Queen Leopards Marching Band received top ratings for its performance during the Region Marching Band Assessment on Tuesday. That's the first time the band has achieved this distinction in nearly three decades.

Tuesday was a huge day for the De Queen Leopards Marching Band. For the first time in nearly 30 years, the band walked away from its annual regional competition with a perfect performance and a chance at the state championship.

A regional assessment judging team visited De Queen on Tuesday and watched the marching band perform at Leopard Stadium. Following the performance, the judges provided the Leopards Marching Band with straight 1 superior ratings – the best possible. Those ratings included top marks in a number of categories, including music performance, marching performance and the overall effect and integration of all of the band’s marching components. De Queen school officials said the Leopards Marching Band has not received complete straight 1 superior ratings since the 1990s.

For band directors across the state, the regional marching band assessment is seen as the band’s equivalent of a school’s end-of-course exams. They are, therefore, seen as the most important events of the year for the students and faculty in the program.

De Queen High School Band Director Chris Richard said all of the band’s hard work, practice and dedication paid off after Tuesday’s performance and perfect assessment. That well-earned victory follows perhaps the most difficult year of any school marching band’s history. With state and federal guidelines against COVID-19 still in effect, marching bands like De Queen’s have had to adapt greatly to a myriad of challenges.

Richard said the program lost nine kids over the past week due to COVID-related quarantine. That meant reassigning parts and performing new drills. Nonetheless, a supreme effort by the remaining students paid off handsomely with that historic performance and rating on Tuesday.

Richard credited De Queen band members and the director trio, as well as a supportive De Queen School administration, for making it all happen.

Regional marching band assessments are staged by the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association. Assessments are based on a set of rigorous standards established by instrumental music educators from across Arkansas and are designed to set the bar for performance very high. Regional marching band assessment scores determine who is awarded an Arkansas Sweepstakes Trophy at the end of each year.

De Queen was not the only area school to perform exceptionally well at this year’s regional assessments. As we reported yesterday, the Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band also received the awesome distinction of a flawless, first division rating.

The Horatio Lions Marching Band will also be going to the state marching band championship following its regional assessment on Tuesday. Judges provided the Lions with a second division rating following the performance. A second-division rating is considered an excellent score by the Arkansas School Band Association and qualifies the Lions for the statewide competition.

The state competition will be held Nov. 3. A big congrats and shout out from all of us here at KDQN to our local schools and the hardwork and dedication which made their amazing performances possible.

De Queen's average first front and freeze days are coming up, but current warm front has different plans this year     10/22/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The National Weather Service has released its forecast detailing when Arkansans can expect the first frost and freeze in the state. For residents of the listening area, those average dates are just around the corner. But don’t be too concerned just yet – the temps won’t be anywhere near close to freezing.

According to forecasters with the National Weather Service, De Queen can expect the first frost of the year on or around Oct. 26. That is the traditional average for the area. That date is obviously closer – if not already passed – in the north stretches of the state.

This year the first frost for north Arkansas actually occurred earlier than average. With southwest Arkansas in the midst of an unusual warm front, the first frost is doubtful to be on time in 2020. Temperatures over the next week and a half are not expected to get even close to the freezing mark.

Frost occurs when water vapor becomes a solid, forming ice crystals on outdoor surfaces. Temperatures don’t have to be below freezing – frost can occur with temps slightly above the 32 degrees Fahrenheit mark.

For listeners who spend a lot of time in their yard and gardens, the first frost is always an important moment to keep an eye on. That means putting up those not so cold-hardy plants, pare your perennials and consider planting those spring-flowering bulbs.

Forecasters predict De Queen’s first freeze to occur around Nov. 3. The first freeze marks the average date during which temperatures for the season fall to or below 32 degrees.

However the weather unfolds this season, you can certainly expect Tyler Massey here at KDQN Studios to keep you updated and informed each and every day.

De Queen meeting next week seeks to highlight area's minority populations     10/22/20

DE QUEEN – A Community Project Planning Meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Sportsplex in De Queen.

All local residents who are interested in helping organize efforts to support the minority populations of De Queen are encouraged and welcomed to come out and participate. 

The purpose of the meeting is to begin planning a Southwest Arkansas Juneteenth celebration, discuss fundraising options for a Sevier County African-American museum and multicultural center, and to develop programs that provide regularly scheduled Sevier County Latino and black history education for the public.

People of all races, ages, backgrounds and identities are welcome to attend. Please wear a face mask and practice social distancing. An online option to view the meeting will be available as well.

For questions, please contact Kevyn Wayne by emailing DQunity@gmail.com.

DQPD makes arrests in two separate incidents for DWI, public intox    10/22/20

DE QUEEN – A De Queen man is facing a public intoxication charge after he reportedly caused a commotion at a trailer park in De Queen.

According to the De Queen Police Department, officers were dispatched to a De Queen trailer park on Oct. 18 after receiving a complaint about a man banging on doors at homes in the park. Upon arrival Officer Brady Haney was allegedly informed that the suspect was 28-year-old Roger Godoy of De Queen. Officers located Godoy soon after walking on the shoulder of Highway 71 North.

While speaking to Godoy, officers reportedly smelled the odor of alcohol on Godoy. He allegedly failed a breathalyzer test and was then placed into custody for public intoxication and transported to the Sevier County Jail.

That same evening, De Queen officers arrested a Broken Bow, Oklahoma woman for the offense of driving while intoxicated. Officers pulled over a vehicle speeding on Highway 70 West. The driver was identified as 33-year-old Jessica Janes of Broken Bow. Officers performed several field sobriety tests which Janes allegedly failed. She also reportedly refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. She was then cited for driving while intoxicated and transported to the Sevier County Jail. Janes was also charged with failure to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Sevier County Libraries to host Food for Fines and Sweater Drive next month     10/22/20

DE QUEEN – Sevier County residents who owe library fines will have a chance next month to pay those off while also helping local folks in need this holiday season. The Sevier County Library System will host its annual Food For Fines Month in November. During the entire month, patrons can bring in any nonperishable food item into any Sevier County Branch Library for a one-dollar reduction per item towards their existing overdue fines. Food accepted for fines is for returned library materials only, not for replacement fees of lost or damaged items.

During November, the library will also host a sweater drive as the colder weather arrives. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30, area residents are asked to bring any new or gently used sweaters, jackets, coats or other cold-weather clothing items to any library branch. These donations will be kept and distributed within each local community.

Gillham First Baptist Church Fall Festival is this Friday     10/22/20

GILLHAM – Gillham First Baptist Church will host its Fall Festival tomorrow night with events themed for the entire community.

The festival kicks off at 6 p.m. with a meal including some fall favorites like chili, soup, nachos and hot dogs. Bounce houses will be set up for children as well as games and a hayride. Volleyball games will be hosted inside the gym and a bonfire is scheduled for out back as part of the fun. The night will end with a cakewalk.

Bring out the whole family for a night of fun, food and fellowship.

Sevier County Election Commission sets two public meetings   10/22/20

DE QUEEN – Election officials in Sevier County are informing residents of two important meetings in relation to a very important election year.

This year’s election has been wrought with controversy, uncertainly and, no doubt, plenty of drama on the national level. Local election officials want to ensure Sevier County voters are comfortable with the effectiveness and transparency of the election process through a couple of public meetings.

The first is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. On that critical day, the Sevier County Election Commission will meet to canvass and tabulate votes for the General Election. Another meeting will be held several days after the election, on Nov. 9, to hold provisional ballot hearings. Provisional ballots are those cast by a registered voter whose name did not appear on the precinct voter registration list, or if they were unable to comply with identification requirements.

Provisional ballots are also open to you if your vote was challenged by a poll watcher. The hearing meeting is held to review returned provisional ballots. In most cases, according to the Arkansas Secretary of State, the election commission will mail a notice to the voter of whether or not their vote was counted. That provisional ballot hearing meeting will begin at 1 p.m.

This meeting and the aforementioned meeting on Nov. 3 will both be held in the conference room of the Sevier County Courthouse. Again, both meetings are open to the public.

Application period opens Nov. 1 for Arkansas anglers hoping to catch, keep trophy alligator gar     10/22/20

Submitted by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

The application period to catch and keep a trophy-size Arkansas alligator gar is just around the corner. Arkansas anglers can begin submitting applications Nov. 1. The application period will end Dec. 31. Only 100 tags will be awarded for the 2021 calendar year. This tag is required to harvest an alligator gar larger than 36 inches.

A 10-pound bass or 3-pound crappie might be a bucket-list catch for many Arkansas anglers, but their size pales in comparison to Arkansas’s largest fish species. Alligator gar are the second largest species of freshwater fish in North America. They frequently grow longer than 7 feet and weigh more than 200 pounds. The largest fish ever caught in Arkansas was an alligator gar in the nearby Red River that weighed 241 pounds, over 100 pounds more than the next largest Arkansas catch, a 118-pound paddlefish caught by James C. Johnson in Beaver Lake earlier this year. And those of us in Sevier County know there’s plenty of monster alligator gar in our area too.

But, if you plan on fishing for one, it’s important to know all alligator gar longer than 36 inches must be released immediately back to the water – unless you possess one of 100 alligator gar tags issued this year.

Eric Brinkman is the fisheries supervisor at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Hope Regional Office and lead biologist on the AGFC’s Alligator Gar Management Team. He has led the charge for research of this prehistoric fish species for 8 of his 12-year career. He has worked with alligator gar since 2005, studying them in graduate school.

Brinkman notes that alligator gar are a very long-lived species. He explains trophy-size gar can be 20 to 60 years old and are critical to the species’ survival. It takes more than a decade for females to become sexually mature and need protection so they may spawn the next generation.

Loss of spawning ground is one issue the alligator gar faces. With larger rivers being dammed and channelized for navigation and commerce, many of the species’ historical spawning areas have been altered. That’s made it impossible for some gar to produce offspring. Biologists work every year to identify remaining spawning areas and evaluate remaining populations of the fish. 

Brinkman adds that alligator gar once held some status as an angling trophy in Arkansas, especially in the White River. But overharvest, combined with loss of spawning habitat and killing of gar by anglers who incorrectly labeled the species as a predator of sport fish, decimated that population. Biologists want to offer fishermen the opportunity to enjoy this resource, but also maintain a healthy population of the species where it still exists.

Anyone may fish for alligator gar on a catch-and-release basis, but anglers interested in keeping a trophy gar in 2021 must enter a free online drawing Nov. 1-Dec. 31 for one of 100 Alligator Gar Trophy tags. Applications are available under the “Fishing License” section of the AGFC’s website, agfc.com. The drawing will occur Jan. 2, 2021.  

Applicants will be notified of the results by email. They will then need to return to the licensing site to claim their tag. Each tag allows the holder to harvest one alligator gar longer than 36 inches from snout to tail during the open fishing season. This season is open all year except between May 1 and July 15. An Alligator Gar Permit is no longer required for alligator gar fishing or to apply for an Alligator Gar Trophy Tag.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures     10/22/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County increased by four over the past 24 hours to a total of 49. Total cases increased by 11 to 1,291 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported an additional death on Wednesday, raising the total to 38. Active positives did see a decrease, dropping by two to 17. Total cases grew by six to 426.

Howard County also reported an additional death on Wednesday. That raises the death toll in Howard County from COVID-19 to 14 since the pandemic began. Active positives however decreased by two to 24. Total cases grew by two to 546.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus continued a decrease after last week’s high mark, falling by five to 31. Total cases increased by just one to 341. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County active cases increased by nine on Wednesday to 203 – still the highest level of active COVID-19 in the region. Total cases increased by 23 to 1,557. Deaths remain at 37.

Across Arkansas, an additional 1,155 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday. Arkansas’ cumulative total is now 101,596 since the pandemic began. Deaths rose by 23 over the past 24 hours to 1,751. Active cases saw a net increase of 98, raising that figure to 8,520. Hospitalizations experienced a net decrease of one, leaving the total of Arkansans hospitalized due to COVID-19 at 636.

“Stick a Fork in Cancer” fundraiser tonight to benefit American Cancer Society; proceeds from meals at Ranch House Cafe to support research, supportive efforts    10/21/20
The full audio story is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Area residents will be able to enjoy a meal out while also supporting the battle against cancer through an American Cancer Society fundraiser in De Queen tonight.
 
Keisha McKinney, a cancer survivor and resident of De Queen, organized the fundraiser to support the cancer research organization and also to reinforce the fact that the fight against cancer continues – despite COVID-19. 
 
McKinney spoke to us this week about the American Cancer Society and tonight's fundraiser. She's partnered with Ranch House Cafe in De Queen to help raise funds tonight for cancer research and support for cancer patients. Proceeds from meals sold between 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and the restaurant's closing time will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
 
McKinney said it's not just an opportunity to eat out tonight but also to support an important cause.
 
Every meal sold this afternoon and tonight will help the nationwide effort to beat cancer. And, in October, breast cancer is the traditional focus. Nearly 300,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, and it is the most common cancer diagnosed in women other than skin cancer. The American Cancer Society is committed to continue to be the largest funder of cancer research outside of the US government. Each day new therapies, treatment protocols, screening guidelines, and survivorship patterns are being developed through the $64 million invested in cancer research. 
 
McKinney was not diagnosed with breast cancer but similar treatments helped her through her own battle with cancer. She's now a 12-year survivor. She credits the American Cancer Society for much of that success and wants to ensure the organization is there for others who face similar challenges. McKinney said no group is better prepared in this effort than the American Cancer Society.
 
During the pandemic, the American Cancer Society has been hit like most non-profits and this year candidates like McKinney are challenged to continue to raise funds and bring awareness. Besides tonight's fundraiser, McKinney is also hosting a freezer meal fundraiser, auctioning drawings by her toddler son, selling tshirts, and receiving online donations at tiny.cc/vipinkkeisha.
 
McKinney hopes tonight's fundraiser will be a huge success and give local folks a chance to help in this important effort. Again, from 2 p.m. until closing time tonight, proceeds from meals sold at Ranch House Cafe in De Queen – whether dine-in or take-out – will be donated to the American Cancer Society and its research and supportive efforts. 
 
In addition to funding cancer research, the American Cancer Society provides transportation grants, hotel partnerships, a patient hotline that is available 24/7 at 800-227-2345 and trusted information anytime at cancer.org.

For more information about breast cancer or the VIPinks campaign in Arkansas, call 1-800-227-2345.

Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band receives first division ratings    10/21/20

Submitted by Ronda Pounds of Ashdown Public Schools

Members of the Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band enter the field for the annual Region II assessment. The three regional judges recognized the band with first division ratings.

The Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band received first division ratings on Tuesday during the 2020 Arkansas Region II Marching Band Assessment.

In traditional years, marching bands from across the state would convene for the judging competition. With COVID-19 precautions and guidelines still in place, however, this year looked a little different. Instead of marching bands traveling to their regional assessment, the assessment came to them. Three judges traveled to Dick Hays Stadium yesterday for an 8:45 a.m. competition time.

The Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band performed their halftime show of “Hey Baby,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” and “I Want You Back.” The band performed not just before the regional assessment team, but also fellow students, staff, school board members and parents.

Following the performance, the band was notified they had received first division ratings from all three judges. School officials and band members said they couldn’t be prouder of the recognition, especially given the challenging precautions regulating school marching bands this year.

The Ashdown Purple Pride Marching Band is under the direction this year of Arial Shumake. Directors are Mark Pounds, Tim Avery and Nick Palmisano.

Area youth livestock exhibitors taking home some big wins at State Fair    10/21/20

LITTLE ROCK – Local youth exhibitors are continuing to bring home wins while attending the 2020 Arkansas State Fair Livestock Show in Little Rock.

Winners in the Non-Brahman Influenced Breeding Beef divisions were announced on Tuesday with a number of area youth earning champion titles.

Jacey Whisenhunt of Grannis showed the Grand Champion AOB Female.

Kix Lee took home an award for showing the Grand Champion Charolais Female at the same event. Lee also received first place in the Junior Beef Showmanship competition on Oct. 18.

Brylee Frachiseur of Gillham showed the Grand Champion Mainetainer Female.

Autumn Frachiseur of Grannis showed the Reserve Champion Percentage Simmental Bull.

The Reserve Champion Simmental Bull was shown by Lucas Allen of Dierks.

Other area youth exhibitors who’re taking home awards this year include Lyndon Youngblood of Ashdown. He received the title of Grand Champion Senior Market Hog Showman.

Although almost all state fair events have been cancelled, state officials gave the livestock show clearance to proceed this year. However, attendance by the general public is not allowed and competitors’ family members are limited in number to help maintain social distancing.

The Arkansas State Fair continues in Little Rock through Oct. 24.

De Queen Rotary Club welcomes Jason Sanders, Jacob Bunyard as new members    10/21/20

New Member – Jacob Bunyard was inducted as a new member of the De Queen Rotary Club at Monday's noon meeting. Jacob is the Financial Compliance Officer and Accountant at First State Bank. His sponsor is Greg Revels.
New Member – Jason Sanders was inducted as a new member of the De Queen Rotary Club at Monday's noon meeting. Jason is the Superintendent at De Queen Public Schools. His sponsor is ZZ Kamruddin.

New grant program offers financial assistant to Arkansas small businesses    10/21/20

LITTLE ROCK – A new grant program aims to financially assist businesses in Arkansas impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency.

The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration received approval this week to proceed with a grant program using $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in affected industries.

Yesterday morning, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved a business interruption grant for certain Arkansas businesses in the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. The grant will provide reimbursement for a portion of specific eligible expenses incurred by businesses in these industries between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020.

The grant application period will open Monday, Nov. 16, and close Wednesday, Nov. 25. Grants will be awarded on a prorated basis depending on the total number of applicants and the amount of reimbursement requested. The program anticipates making grant awards in late December.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the grant will help businesses that were disrupted by the precautions necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Arkansas small businesses having 250, or fewer, full-time employees located in Arkansas may seek reimbursement for expenses associated with COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The grant also provides assistance for some business interruption expenses due directly to local, state or federal government COVID-19 directives.

Information will be regularly posted to www.ArkansasReady.com about the grant, the application period, training and a help line.

Updates for this Friday's football games in De Queen, Ashdown and Horatio   10/21/20

This Friday’s football game between the Horatio Lions and Genoa Central has been cancelled. Officials with the Horatio School District cited COVID-19-related concerns as Genoa Central's cause for the cancellation. Horatio will now face Camden Harmony Grove instead this Friday night. 

Tickets for the De Queen Leopards football game against Hot Springs Lakeside this Friday are now on sale at the De Queen administration office. Tickets will be on sale through Friday morning. There are 200 tickets available and the cost is $5 each. No tickets will be sold at the game on Friday, therefore Leopards fans must purchase them prior to arrival.

Tickets for the Ashdown Panthers Senior High home game against Arkadelphia on Friday, October 23 will go on sale to the general public beginning at 8 a.m. today. Tickets can be purchased at the Ashdown Administration Building.

Lockesburg VFD hosting gun raffle fundraiser in lieu of event    10/21/20

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg Fire Department is hosting a gun raffle to help raise funds for its firefighting and emergency response duties. Lockesburg firefighters are currently selling chances for a Weatherby Vanguard 6.5 Creedmoor rifle with a Leupold scope. Tickets are $5 each. Proceeds will go towards upkeep of the department’s rescue truck and rural firefighting unit. Contact any Lockesburg firefighter to purchase a ticket. The drawing will be held Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. in the fire station. You do not need to be present to win.

The gun raffle will be held in lieu of the department’s annual fundraising event. That has been cancelled, the department announced, due to COVID-19. Any and all donations are greatly welcomed, however. For more information or to donate, call (870) 200-3057.

Ashdown Elementary offering Tuesday night tutoring, family night    10/21/20

ASHDOWN – Ashdown Elementary School is offering Tuesday night tutoring for its students. Sessions are available each Tuesday night from 4-6 p.m. in the Ashdown Elementary Library, now located in the C.D. Franks Building. Call (870) 898-3711 to set up an appointment for your child.

Monday night is Family Night Library and Tutoring at Ashdown Elementary School. Sessions are held each Monday from 4-6 p.m. in the Ashdown Elementary School Library. Parents and families are asked to look for the sign on the middle door of the bus drive and ring the bell for entrance.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    10/21/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health: 

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County saw a small increase over the past 24 hours, raising by two to 45. Total cases grew slightly as well to 1,280. Deaths remain at 16. Overall, 1,219 Sevier County residents have caught COVID-19 and recovered since the pandemic began. 

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two additional deaths over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 37. The county saw no increase or decrease in active cases, which remain at 19. Total cases increased by three to 420.

Howard County active cases decreased by one to 26 while total cases remained at 544. Deaths did not increase and remain at 13. 

In Polk County, active cases of the virus decreased by four to 36. Total cases did not change and remain at 340. Deaths total four since the start of the pandemic.  

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County active cases increased by four on Tuesday to 198. Total cases increased by 12 to 1,546. Deaths remained at 37.  

Early voting kicks off in Arkansas; absentee voting still available    10/20/20
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Sevier County voters line up this morning to cast their ballot on the first day of early voting in Arkansas. Early voting continues the next two weeks in Sevier County at the Community Building in the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen. The polling location is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday thru Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturdays before the Nov. 3 election.

Early voting kicked off yesterday across Arkansas. Locally, the first day of early voting began smoothly even with bigger than normal crowds lining up to cast their ballot. De Queen’s early voting location saw some lines but for the most part the process was quick and easy. Although numbers from the first day of early voting in Sevier County weren’t immediately available, election officials said it was easily one of the busiest in memory.
Voters casting their ballots early in Sevier County likely noticed some changes from previous elections. Six-foot markers were in place to help ensure CDC-required social distancing. Election workers donned masks and other personal protective equipment. Free, disposable styluses were handed out to each voter to make sure no one had to personally touch anything. Although masks are not required, almost no one entered the polling location without one on their face.
Early voting will continue in Sevier County through Nov. 2 at the Herman Dierks Park Community Building in De Queen. The location is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekday and, for the convenience of voters, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday’s before the election.
Little River County residents can cast their early vote at the Little River County Election Center located at 349 North Third Street in Ashdown. Early voting for citizens of Little River County is also available at the Foreman Community Center at 200 Shuman Street in Foreman.

Both locations are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The center is also open both Saturdays before the election from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Early voting continues through Monday, Nov. 2.

Election day itself will be Nov. 3.

Although early voting is now underway, Arkansans who’d rather skip in-person voting can still request an absentee ballot. A statewide executive order issued by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the summer authorizes every Arkansan to vote absentee this year. Before requesting an absentee ballot, however, you must complete an absentee ballot application. These can be found at your county clerk’s office or on the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website at sos.Arkansas.gov.

The request must then be turned in to your local county clerk’s office. Although the deadline to request a ballot by mail is Tuesday, Oct. 27, you should begin the process as far in advance of the election as possible. The ballot must be received via mail by 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. If submitting your absentee ballot in person, you must do so by close of business on Nov. 2, the day before the election.

Election officials are reminding voters who choose to mail in their ballot that they are required to cover the postage fee. The cost to mail back your ballot in the provided envelop is $1.40.

Voters seeking additional information are welcome to call their county clerk’s office. In Sevier County, that number is (870) 642-2852. In Little River County, call (870) 898-7210. Howard County residents can call (870) 845-7502 and, in Polk County, (479) 394-8123.

Groundbreaking ceremony for new area hospital scheduled for Nov. 6    10/20/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Officials behind the effort to build a new area hospital are gearing up for next month’s groundbreaking ceremony.

Construction on the Sevier County Medical Center will be officially inaugurated on Nov. 6. The event, which is open to the public, will begin at 11 a.m. at the construction site several miles north of De Queen on Highway 71. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be rescheduled to Nov. 9.

Hospital officials are reaching out to a number of dignitaries as well as local and state elected officials to attend the event.

The ceremony will officially mark the start of construction for Sevier County’s new hospital. In effect, this event will mark history in the making for the area, given the lack of a viable hospital in Sevier County since the closure of the De Queen hospital last year. Last year’s closure of the hospital marked the end of 20 years of private hospital ownership in the county. The hospital’s former owner, Jorge Perez, is facing a host of fraud-related charges from his involvement in hospitals ranging from De Queen to Florida to New York.

The board overseeing Sevier County’s new hospital hope to leave that troubled history behind as they prep for the new, county-owned medical facility.

As part of this effort, officials behind the Sevier County Medical Center recently marked one other advancement – the creation of the hospital’s mission statement. That reads as follows, “Sevier County Medical Center will seek to perfect the entire health care experience while exhibiting professionalism, integrity and compassion.”

Officials said the mission statement details the new hospital’s ultimate goal while also remaining inclusive to all area residents and not just those from Sevier County.

Officials are also prepping for another important upcoming date – Oct. 22, when funds raised through the hospital’s bond sales will official reach the county. Once these are received the hospital will have the money it needs to begin and complete construction. That is expected to take place shortly after next month’s groundbreaking ceremony.

Deadline nears for AGFC Wildlife Fines Grant Program; thousands of dollars available for local educators, groups for youth outdoors, conservation activities   10/20/20

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas Economic Development Commission have extended the deadline for educators to apply for free money to help teach conservation education in Arkansas. Interested schools and educators can apply for more than $735,000 in education grants by Oct. 22, 2020.

More information on the program, a link to the application site and a county-by-county list of grant money are available at www.agfc.com/conservationgrants

There is nearly $3,700 available in grant money in Sevier County, over $5,100 in Polk, $5,600 in Howard and $4,500 in Little River County.

The money for the grants comes from fines collected for wildlife violations in each Arkansas county. The money collected by courts is sent to the AEDC and earmarked for conservation education programs. Qualifying grant programs include Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program, Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, Fishing in the Natural State, the Schoolyard Habitat Program, Stream Teams and other educational programs that introduce youth to natural resources. Reimbursement for field trip expenses to AGFC nature and education centers, hatcheries and other field experiences also may qualify for grants.

These grants have funded a variety of youth shooting sports and conservation activities and programs in the listening area.

Area residents invited to participate in Day-to-Day Living with Diabetes webinars    10/20/20

The end-of-the-year holidays are just around the corner, along with all the tempting food — from Halloween candy to Thanksgiving pies to Christmas cookies. With all this high-fructose cheer, maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult, especially for people with diabetes.

The Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is offering an eight-week online program to help area residents do just that. The program, titled Day to Day with Diabetes, offers resources in health, wellness, nutrition and fitness for people living with diabetes. The next group will meet Oct. 26 through Dec. 18, just in time for the holidays and for November’s Diabetes Awareness Month.

Agents with the Cooperative Extension Service say Day to Day with Diabetes offers a place for people to connect with others with similar goals and to share strategies that work for them.

Weekly virtual meetings will be offered each Monday during the lunch hour through Facebook Live and Zoom, with additional resources posted throughout the week. Participation is free, and registration is through the group’s Facebook page,at facebook.com/groups/DaytoDaywith Diabetes

Nearly 15 percent of Arkansans — about 360,000 people — have diabetes, and 800,000 more residents have pre-diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association’s Arkansas Chapter.

Extension also offers year-round diabetes prevention education as well as a four-week Living with Diabetes education curriculum through its Family and Consumer Sciences Division. For more information, call (479) 495-2216 or email rlchaney@uaex.edu

Walmart announces no traditional Black Friday sales event this year    10/20/20

Walmart says it will spread out its traditional one-day Black Friday deals over three weekends in November in an effort to reduce crowds in its stores during a pandemic.

The nation's largest retailer said this month that more of its doorbuster deals will be reserved for online, as a way to steer more shoppers away from its stores.

The store will kick off the deals online Nov. 4, with new deals in stores on Nov. 7. The second event will begin online Nov. 11, followed by a similar sales event in stores Nov. 14. It will wrap up its discounts online Nov. 25 with new discounts in stores Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional Black Friday.

Walmart said it will go back to limiting the number of customers inside its stores to 20% of the store's capacity during the three big store events, as it had during the early phase of the pandemic. The stores will open at 5 a.m. during the three Black Friday events. It said customers will form a single line to enter the store. And workers will hand out sanitized shopping carts to customers. There will be so-called Health Ambassadors placed at entrances to greet customers and remind them to put on a mask.

For the first time, the discounter will also offer shoppers curbside pickup at its stores for Black Friday orders.

Poultry industry sees modest recovery, but faces uphill slog through 2021    10/20/20

Submitted by UofA Extension Service

FAYETTEVILLE — The poultry industry, battered on multiple fronts by the COVID pandemic, is making modest gains, but recovery into 2021 may be its slowest in nearly a decade.

In looking at the Oct.14 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Projections for the Broiler Industry, economist John Anderson noted that there were more complex factors at play than simple supply and demand.

Anderson is head of the agricultural economics and agribusiness department for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural Food and Life Sciences. He has been providing pandemic-related analyses of the economy since March.

“These factors include the supply-side effects of changes in production and processing operations in response to COVID-19 as well as demand-side effects related to the economic disruptions resulting from COVID-19,” he said, adding that these included “continued sluggish demand from the food service sector.”

Anderson said the price impacts of the pandemic were probably even more significant for the broiler industry than the production disruptions. In 2019, broiler wholesale prices averaged 88.6 cents per pound according to the WASDE report.

“At the beginning of 2020, expectations were for prices to slip around 2 percent in the face of increasing production, he said. “As the pandemic unfolded, though, price expectations deteriorated dramatically. The latest WASDE report projects a 2020 average broiler price of 70.8 cents per pound, a decline of about 20 percent compared to the prior year.”

On a positive note, broiler production has rebounded since June, and Anderson said expectations for 2020 production have stabilized at about 1.5 percent above last year’s production.

“It is remarkable that the industry appears set to manage a modest increase in production given the magnitude of the 2020 market shock,” he said. “Still, current expectations are over 3 percent lower than in March, illustrating the significant negative impact of the pandemic on the supply side of the market.”

Current expectations as reflected in October WASDE projections are for a relatively slow recovery for the sector. The current projection for 2021 production is 45.06 billion pounds, which is up 1 percent from 2020, and an average wholesale price of 79 cents per pound, up 12 percent from last year.

“This works out to an expected wholesale value of production of $35.6 billion: a significant recovery from 2020 but still 8.5 percent below 2019,” he said.

“If current projections hold, 2020-2021will witness the slowest two-year growth in broiler production since 2012-2013, when the industry faced record-breaking corn prices,” Anderson said.

Find Anderson’s WASDE analysis here: https://bit.ly/3k4XmXr.

Find other COVID-related economic analyses at https://bit.ly/AR-Ag-Eco-Impacts2020.

To learn about extension and research programs in Arkansas, visit https://division.uaex.edu/

Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk, @uaex_edu or @ArkAgResearch.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    10/20/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

The number of active cases of the virus in Sevier County declined by one yesterday to 43. Total cases increased by three to 1,274 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths remain at 16.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported an additional active case of COVID-19 on Monday, raising the total to 19. Total cases increased by four to 417. Deaths remain at 35.

Howard County active cases increased by one to 27 while total cases rose by five to 544. Deaths remain at 13.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus decreased by four to 40. Total cases did not change and remain at 342. Deaths total four since the start of the pandemic.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County active cases decreased by 15 on Monday to 194 – still the highest level of active COVID-19 in the region. Total cases increased by four to 1,534. Deaths remained at 37.

Across Arkansas, an additional 531 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Monday. Arkansas’ cumulative total is now 99,597 since the pandemic began. Deaths rose by 10 over the past 24 hours to 1,714. Active cases saw a net decrease of 246 cases, dropping that figure to 8,658. Hospitalizations increased by a net total of 41 and now number 613 across the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is expected to provide his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday afternoon. We’ll be bring you more on that story as well as any other developments locally and across the state.

Early voting starts today across Arkansas    10/19/20

DE QUEEN – Early voting begins today across Arkansas.
The early voting period is held the two weeks before the general election. For Sevier County voters, they can begin voting next Monday at the De Queen Community building located in the Herman Dierks Park.
The early voting location will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. For the convenience of voters, the community building will be open both Saturdays before the election from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Election day itself will be Nov. 3.
The deadline to register as a first time voter has passed, but Arkansas residents who’ve moved to a different county since the last election have until Oct. 30 to update their voter registration.
Election officials are reminding voters of certain electioneering guidelines and laws. State election law prohibits voters from wearing campaign t-shirts, caps or buttons when entering a polling location. Voters who wear items displaying campaign material will be asked to remedy the situation before voting.
In addition, all campaign type material must be at least one hundred feet from the entrance to a polling place. This includes bumper stickers and campaign signs on vehicles.

The Sevier County Clerk’s Office and the Sevier County Election Commission is informing voters that election officials are ensuring this year’s election will be not just a smooth process for voters, but a safe one as well.

A number of protective measures will be in place with everyone’s health and voting rights in mind. Poll workers will wear masks and shields to protect themselves and voters. No-contact procedures are in place for the comfort of all voters.

Voting equipment will be sanitized frequently and six-foot markers will be placed to ensure CDC social distancing. Doorkeepers will be located at each polling place with a quick, voluntary questionnaire to determine COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.

A separate voting machine will be installed at each polling place for anyone who feels ill on election day. Voters will be asked, but not required, to wear face coverings.

The Sevier County Clerk’s Office stresses that no one will be discouraged from voting on Nov. 3.

Sevier County voters seeking additional information are welcome to contact the County Clerk’s office at 642-2852.

Little River County early voting info

Little River County Clerk Deanna Sivley reminds Little River County residents they can now cast their early vote at the Little River County Election Center located at 349 North Third Street in Ashdown. Early voting for citizens of Little River County is also available at the Foreman Community Center at 200 Shuman Street in Foreman.

Both locations are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the convenience of voters, the center is also open both Saturdays before the election from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Early voting continues through Monday, Nov. 2.

Sevier voters to decide several local issues   10/19/20

DE QUEEN – Local residents who begin casting their in-person ballots today are reminded they will have several local issues to decide.

That includes whether or not to permit the sale of alcohol in Sevier County. The wet/dry measure made it to the ballot after organizers behind the effort collected more than the minimum amount of needed signatures earlier this year.

If the measure passes, alcohol sales will be permitted in Sevier County for the first time since Prohibition began in the 1920s. The measure would allow for a limited number of alcohol stores in the county, and allow restaurants to apply for licenses to serve alcohol on their premises.

The wet/dry issue will be open for all Sevier County voters to decide.

Other local elections include a race for the Ward 2, Position 1 seat on the De Queen City Council. Lee Ann Pitchford has challenged incumbent Teresa Bunyard for the position.

Voters within the Gillham city limits will decide a proposed one-percent local sales and use tax.

In Howard County, voters within the Dierks School District boundaries will also vote on continuing the current millage rate of 43 mills for district funding. The extension does not increase the current millage rate. The requested rate of 43 mills represents the same rate presently being collected.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month   10/19/20

October is breast cancer awareness month. This is an opportunity to remind Arkansans of the importance of mammograms for early detection and lifestyle changes that could help prevent cancer.

Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat, and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.

It is important to still get checked for breast cancer regularly, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. As long as you’re not feeling sick or having any COVID-19 symptoms, experts say it’s safe to get a mammogram.

In 2017, there were 2,163 new breast cancer cases and 414 cancer deaths in the state. However, Arkansas is ranked as one of the lowest states (37th) for breast cancer screening, according to the CDC Wonder (2018). 

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. 

Only about 5–10 percent of breast cancers are believed to be hereditary, meaning they’re caused by abnormal changes in certain genes passed from parent to child.

The vast majority of people who get breast cancer have no family history, suggesting that other factors must be at work, such as environment and lifestyle.

If you are uninsured or underinsured, you may qualify for a free or low-cost mammogram through the Arkansas BreastCare program.

BreastCare’s mission is to increase the rate of early detection of breast and cervical cancer and reduce the morbidity and mortality rates among women in Arkansas by lowering barriers to screening that result from lack of information, financial means, or access to quality services.

It is funded by the Arkansas Department of Health with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Arkansas Tobacco Excise Tax.

For more information, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

And join us Tuesday morning at 8:15 here on KDQN when we speak with Keisha McKinney. Keisha, who lives in De Queen and is a 12-year breast cancer survivor, is an inaugural member of the VIPinks campaign in Arkansas. She and nine other women in Arkansas are leading the awareness campaign in regards to breast cancer. Keisha will join us to speak about the campaign, its mission and how the broader community can become involved.

Gillham youth exhibitor wins competition at Arkansas State Fair   10/19/20

LITTLE ROCK – A Gillham youth livestock exhibitor will take home a big win following a competition at the Arkansas State Fair.

Kix Lee of Gillham received first place in the Junior Beef Showmanship competition at the state fair in Little Rock. The competition was held on Oct. 18.

The state fair continues through Oct. 24 at the state fairgrounds in Little Rock.

Competitors qualified for the State Fair field at county and/or regional events. In the case of pageants and talent, many also had a virtual component to their 2020 State Fair competition experience.

Organizers say the state fair’s number one priority is to put public health and safety above all other considerations. Organizers have implemented stringent safeguards and protocols for these events, including social distancing, wearing masks, limiting attendees and spacing of events to allow for thorough cleaning of required buildings.

State Fair administration has developed an extensive logistics plan to limit the number of people and animals on the grounds at any given time.

Attendance by the general public is not allowed and competitors’ family members are limited in number to help maintain social distancing. Masks are required in all areas and strict cleanliness in barns and competition areas will be observed.

Horatio business receives grant through Arkansas Meat Processor Program   10/19/20

HORATIO – A Horatio business was one of 31 facilities across the state to receive funding through the Arkansas Meat and Poultry Processing Grant Program.

The program was approved and provided funding of $10.4 million through the federal CARES Act. 

The 31 facilities selected to receive funding through this program includes Prime Country Meats of Horatio.  

Recipients of this funding will help address the lack of local, small-scale meat processing capacity in Arkansas during the COVID-19 related disruptions. Expanded processing capacity will build resiliency within the industry and benefit producers, consumers, and Arkansas rural communities, according to Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.

Collectively, the applicants receiving awards anticipate increasing processing capacity throughout the state by over 2,000 head of cattle, 850 hogs, 7,400 poultry, and eight goats and sheep per month.  The applicants also anticipate maintaining 258 full-time positions and 75 part-time positions.  Recipients will also provide additional further processing and value-added capacity and assist with education and workforce development. 

Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation in the value of animals and animal products. Overall, this sector provides more than $5.6 billion to the state’s economy annually. In the 2019 production year, Arkansas was ranked 10th in the nation in beef cow inventory and 25th in the nation in cattle and calves with 510,641,000 pounds of production.

For more information on this program and what it seeks to accomplish, visit  agriculture.arkansas.gov.

Blood drive in Dierks today  10/19/20

DIERKS – LifeShare Blood Center will host a blood drive in Dierks today from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Dierks Community Building Room102. LifeShare issued a third emergency appeal this month in hopes of alleviating a region-wide blood supply shortage. All donors are welcomed and all blood types greatly needed. For more information on other LifeShare events, visit lifeshare.org or text “donate” to 999-777 to receive text updates.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures; Little River County reports six additional deaths over weekend   10/19/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County saw a net increase of 22 over the weekend, raising the total to 44. That’s the highest figure since early September and suggest, like many other locations in the country, that cases are again on the rise. Over the weekend total confirmed cases grew to 1,271. State health officials adjusted back Sevier County’s death toll by three to 16. This is likely due to the determination that those three deaths were the result of other causes.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported an additional six deaths on Saturday. That raises the county’s death toll due to COVID-19 to 35 – the highest in Southwest Arkansas. Active cases in Little River County did see a net decrease of four over the weekend and now number 18. Overall cases number 413 since the start of the pandemic.

Howard County active cases increased by five over the weekend to 26 currently. Total confirmed cases rose by seven to 539. Deaths increased by one to 13.

In Polk County, active cases increased by six to 44 over the weekend. Total cases grew by 17 to 342. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County Active cases grew by 31 over the weekend to 209 currently. Total confirmed cases rose by 56 to 1,530. Deaths remained at 37.

Across Arkansas, an additional 644 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Sunday. Arkansas’ cumulative total is now 99,066. Deaths rose by 20 over the past 24 hours to 1,704. Active cases saw a net increase of 94 cases, raising the total to 8,904. Hospitalizations grew by four to 572.

Health officials still stressing need for Arkansans to receive flu shot this year  10/19/20

Local and state health officials are spreading the message to Arkansans that shouldn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic distract them from a more familiar fall and winter foe: Influenza.

Getting vaccinated against flu is more important now than ever, especially given the rise in COVID-19 cases in the area in recent days. The flu vaccine can keep you from getting the flu, make the flu less severe if you do get it, and keep you from spreading flu to your family and friends.

Flu vaccines are available at the local Arkansas Department of Health units.

The Arkansas Department of Health does not charge out-of-pocket costs for a flu shot and does not require insurance for receiving a flu shot, but you are encouraged to bring insurance information if you have it.

Arkansans may obtain a flu vaccine through their employer’s health insurance program, doctor’s office or local pharmacy. Many area public schools are also offering mass flu clinics throughout the flu season.

Horatio VFD's “Screams of the Night” haunted house kicks off tonight    10/16/20
 
Get ready for a night of thrills, scares and screams with the “Screams of the Night” Haunted House in Horatio. The haunted house kicks off this Friday and Saturday nights but will be held again Oct. 23, 24, 30 and 31. The event, which is billed as the biggest haunted house in the Ark-La-Tex area, is open nightly from 7 p.m. to midnight. The haunted house is located at the intersection of Highway 24 and Highway 41 on 120 Headstream Road.

“Screams of the Night” is hosted annually by the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department. This is the fire department’s seventh year to put on the production. In previous years the event featured concessions, an indoor waiting area in case of rain, outdoor fire pits to keep visitors warm and waiting areas for family members too scared to enter. The haunted house includes around 40 rooms with character actors inside sure to give visitors the fright of a lifetime. Cost is $10 per adult and $5 for kids 10 and under.
Proceeds benefit the volunteer fire department and its mission in the community. In previous years money raised through the haunted house was used to towards a new fire engine for the city and free smoke alarms for residents who don’t have one. Money raised has also been used to provide needed supplies for residents who lost their home due to a fire.
For more information visit the Horatio Fire Department’s Facebook page.
Agriculture Secretary discusses new Arkansas Feral Hog Handbook    10/16/20
The full audio interview is available here:


The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

They’re mean. They’re nasty. And they destroy just about anything, just about anywhere they’re at. If that description conjures up the image of a feral hog, you’ve certainly been paying attention.
Well, so apparently have state officials in Arkansas.
It’s hard not to notice these widespread and highly destructive creatures. Feral hogs cause over $19 million in damages each year in Arkansas alone. They pose a threat to native species, especially groundnesting birds. They also present a significant risk to human and livestock health through the diseases they carry. Altogether, feral hogs are becoming a problem no one can miss.

Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward is one of the leaders behind a multi-agency effort to tackle this increasingly widespread problem. The first step in any battle is knowing your enemy. That's why, in hopes of lending Arkansans a hand in this fight, the Department of Agriculture recently released its newly created Arkansas Feral Hog Handbook. The handbook is described as a guide to assist Arkansans in controlling and hopefully eradicating feral hog populations in their areas. Secretary Ward joined us earlier this week to detail the problems these animals pose and let Arkansans know how state and national programs can help.

The handbook includes contact information, websites, and brief explanations of the resources offered by state and federal agencies and other entities. The handbook details the economic damages caused by feral hogs in Arkansas as well as the danger they pose to humans and livestock. Feral hogs aren't clean animals by any stretch of the imagination and Ward said they can be widespread vectors for disease.

The handbook is part of an increasing effort to tackle Arkansas' hog problem alongside multiple agencies and partners across the state. Ward said part of the path to victory is lettingg Arkansans know they're not alone in the fight.
 

The handbooks are being distributed to the public at locations throughout the state, including Farm Bureau offices, the Cooperative Extension Service and Arkansas Game and Fish nature centers. Copies of the handbook can also be found online at the Department of Agriculture’s website, agriculture.arkansas.gov  

AGFC approves new fishing regulations   10/16/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Anglers across the state can expect some changes, both big and small, to the way they go fishing, starting next year.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved over a dozen new regulations or changes to existing regulations during a meeting on Thursday.

A few notable changes include requiring boaters to remove drain plugs from their boats while being trailered to and from water bodies. Anglers will also be required to check their trotlines and limblines every 48 hours or remove them when not in use. Both yo-yos and free-fishing devices like jugs or trotlines are limited to 25 per person.

The commission increased the possession limit on fish from two daily limits to three daily limits. Anglers may be happy to know the commission removed the requirement to possess an alligator gar permit to fish for alligator gar. The permit was free but did put an extra requirement out there for anyone fishing for alligator gar. However, a Trophy Alligator Gar Tag is still required to keep alligator gar longer than 36 inches.

More locally, the commission ended a prohibition on spearfishing for black bass on Millwood, De Queen, Dierks and Gillham Lakes. AGFC biologists said the regulations overly complicate fishing regulations on the four lakes and provide no biological benefit to the black bass species.

The new regulations will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. 

Search continues for two suspects in murder of Ashdown man   10/16/20

ASHDOWN – Ashdown police are still hoping they’ll get a tip from the community on the whereabouts of two Little River County residents suspected of shooting and killing an Ashdown man last week. So far, both suspects remain at large.

According to the Ashdown Police Department, Cheleka Johnson and Corey Garfield are both wanted for their alleged involvement in the death of 48-year-old Ashdown man on Oct. 6. Felony arrest warrants have been issued for both Johnson and Garfield on the charge of first-degree murder. Both suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

The man they are suspected of shooting was treated on the scene by police but died later at an area hospital.

Investigators announced Johnson and Garfield as suspects following an investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Zane Butler at (903) 276-6370 or Little River County Dispatch at (870) 898-5115.

Again, both suspects are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone who has seen these suspects or know of their whereabouts should contact authorities immediately.

Ashdown High School Homecoming scheduled for Nov. 6   10/16/20

ASHDOWN – Ashdown High School has announced it will host the annual Homecoming ceremonies on Friday, Nov. 6. During this event the district and community will celebrate Ashdown senior maids and football players.

For the week leading up to Friday, Nov. 6, students at all campuses can participate in “dress up” days to fit the 2020 theme of “Tune In To Panther TV“.

Starting at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, the senior maids and senior football players will caravan through Ashdown and proceed back to AHS. Community members are able to line the route, but are asked that social distancing be observed in order to follow the Arkansas Department of Health Guidelines and keep this a safe event for all involved.

The evening coronation will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Dick Hays Stadium. In order to attend, you must purchase a ticket in the Administration Building starting Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 8 a.m. Tickets will be on sale until sold out. District officials said they are still mandated to follow outdoor venue guidelines, so there will only be a limited number of tickets available. The coronation will be live-streamed for those unable to attend. At a later date, more information will be provided on how to view the live stream. Kick-off for the Homecoming game will be at 7 p.m. vs. Fountain Lake High School.

In the event of rain, the coronation will be moved into the gym, and the senior maids and senior players will receive tickets to give out.

District officials note that masks and social distancing are required at all school events.

The 2020 Ashdown Homecoming Court includes Makhia Cook, Chelbi Gathright, Blaire Gentry, Aleya Hill, Ashlynn Johnston, Amy Newton, Ansleigh Patrick, Porsha Randle, Railee Schmidt, Vonee Thomas, Keely Turner and Emma Wrinkle.

No new virtual students at Horatio Schools after Oct. 20   10/16/20

HORATIO – Horatio Public Schools announced that beginning next week, students will no longer be able to choose the district’s virtual learning option. The change takes place Oct. 20 and continues through the end of the current semester. District officials said this change will not affect students already enrolled in Horatio’s Virtual Academy. All virtual students, however, we still be allowed to return to onsite instruction if they choose. 

ADH updates latest COVID-19 figures   10/16/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County rose by a single case over the past 24 hours to total 22 currently. Overall confirmed cases grew by six to 1,246. Deaths remain at 19.

In neighboring counties, active cases in Little River County decreased by one to 22. Total confirmed cases rose by two to 404. Deaths remain at 29.

Howard County active cases decreased by six to 21. Total confirmed cases rose by five to 532. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases increased by one to 38. Total cases grew by six to 325. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County Active cases fell by five to 178. Total confirmed cases rose by 10 to 1,474. Deaths remained at 37.

Across Arkansas, an additional 1,278 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Thursday. That marks the highest single day growth in new cases since the pandemic began. Arkansas’ cumulative total is now 96,524. Deaths rose by 11 to 1,645. Active cases saw a net increase of 417 cases, raising the total to 8,424. Hospitalizations grew by seven to 594.

Hundreds if not thousands of COVID-19 antigen tests will be making their way into area schools in the coming days and weeks.

Rapid COVID-19 antigen tests coming to area schools   10/16/20

LITTLE ROCK – Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday the state had received the first 100,000 of nearly a million antigen tests destined for Arkansas this fall. The tests are being delivered to states across the nation as part of a testing effort through the White House.

According to Hutchinson, 55 percent of the tests coming to Arkansas will go to Arkansas schools. These tests he said will be used to screen teachers and staff on a weekly basis. Hutchinson highlighted the flexibility of the tests given their ability to show results in as few as 15 minutes. The ramped up testing effort will also provide officials with the means to respond faster and more efficiently to outbreaks across Arkansas.

Of the 900,000 tests making their way to Arkansas, 20 percent will go to the Department of Corrections for visitors and employees. This is inline with the governor’s announcement that visitations would proceed again at state correctional facilities. The remaining tests will be distributed to the Department of Human Services and healthcare workers across the state. Around 50,000 tests are expected to arrive in Arkansas each week through December.

Election workers in Arkansas are also receiving priority for rapid tests through local health departments.

Today is last day to pay personal, real property taxes in Arkansas    10/15/20
 
DE QUEEN – Area residents are reminded that today marks several important, and unfortunately tax-related, deadlines.
Today is the last day for residents and property owners throughout Arkansas to pay their personal and real property taxes without facing a 10 percent penalty. It’s the last day but collector’s offices across the state are hoping to make the process easy and convenient.

For instance, the Sevier County Tax Collector’s Office is open today until 6 p.m. to collect taxes from anyone who has not yet paid. Taxpayers in Sevier County should be aware that they can now pay their taxes online for the first time ever at tax.countyservice.net/sevier
The Sevier County Collector’s office will be closed Oct. 16 through Oct. 22 in order to prepare the delinquent tax list. The office will return to normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. after Oct. 22. The tax collector’s office is located in the Sevier County Courthouse. Visitors to the courthouse are required to wear a face covering.
Again, Sheriff Robert Gentry reminds taxpayers they have the option to avoid the line and a special trip by paying online at tax.countyservice.net/sevier
Little River County Sheriff and Collector Bobby Walraven is reminding Little River County residents that today is their last day to pay personal and property taxes without a 10 percent penalty. Save time and pay online by visiting Arkansas.gov and choose the online services tab. Taxpayers and also mail in personal checks or pay in person at the Little River County Courthouse. Visitors are asked to enter through the courthouse front door. The collector’s office will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Finally, the October 15 filing deadline is here for taxpayers who requested an extension to file their 2019 tax return. There are tools available at IRS.gov to help people with their taxes: Taxpayers can file their tax return electronically for free through IRS Free FileOther electronic filing options include using a free tax return preparation site, commercial software or an authorized e-file provider.
If an extension filer owes taxes, they should pay as much as possible by the Oct. 15 deadline to reduce interest and penalties. IRS Direct Pay allows individuals to securely pay from their checking or savings accounts. Visit IRS.gov foradditional payment options.
Get ready for a night of terror with Horatio Haunted House fundraiser    10/15/20
HORATIO – Get ready for a night of thrills, scares and screams with the “Screams of the Night” Haunted House in Horatio. The haunted house kicks off this Friday and Saturday nights but will be held again Oct. 23, 24, 30 and 31. The event, which is billed as the biggest haunted house in the Ark-La-Tex area, is open nightly from 7 p.m. to midnight. The haunted house is located at the intersection of Highway 24 and Highway 41 on 120 Headstream Road.
“Screams of the Night” is hosted annually by the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department. This is the

Delores Mooneyham & Johnny Bivins say the Horatio Volunteer Fire Department is ready for “Screams in the Night”

fire department’s seventh year to put on the production. In previous years the event featured concessions, an indoor waiting area in case of rain, outdoor fire pits to keep visitors warm and waiting areas for family members too scared to enter. The haunted house includes around 40 rooms with character actors inside sure to give visitors the fright of a lifetime.

Proceeds benefit the volunteer fire department and its mission in the community. In previous years money raised through the haunted house was used to towards a new fire engine for the city and free smoke alarms for residents who don’t have one. Money raised has also been used to provide needed supplies for residents who lost their home due to a fire.

For more information visit the Horatio Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Local agencies participating in Arkansas Prescription Drug Take Back Day   10/15/20

DE QUEEN – Local and state law enforcement agencies are teaming up to encourage Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets to make their homes and communities safer. These agencies are organizing more than 250 drop-off locations throughout Arkansas for Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

This annual event will be held Saturday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations across the state. At these events Arkansans are encouraged to bring any unused or expired medications and drop them off, no questions asked.

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

Prescription Drug Take Back Day is held semi-annually with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs and Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy. The DEA, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers also participate each year.

The De Queen Police Department and local drug taskforce unit will participate on Drug Take Back Day by setting up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the De Queen Walmart Store on Oct. 24. A year-round drug collection site is also located at the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office. The Ashdown Police Department and Little River County Sheriff’s Office also feature year-round collection sites.

Other events and more information on Drug Take Back Day in Arkansas can be found at ARTakeBack.org. Since the program began, more than 72 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is an estimated 201 million individual pills.

Ashdown High School to perform musical, “Annie,” for community next week  10/15/20

ASHDOWN – Area residents are invited to attend Ashdown High School’s reproduction of the popular play Annie, scheduled to begin next week.

The Ashdown High School Panther Theatre has been hard at work on the production. Ashdown High School Senior Chelbi Gathright has been cast as Annie. Oliver Warbucks will be played by Tryston McCandless. Ansleigh Patrick will play as Grace and Amy Newton as Miss Hannigan.  

Community performances are scheduled for Oct. 24 and Oct. 25 with performances at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. both days.  Adult tickets are $5 and student tickets are $3.  

Tickets will be pre-sold as the auditorium audience capacity is currently at 100 with Arkansas Department of Health Guideliens. Guidelines.  More information on when and how tickets will be available will be posted at a later date. The play is directed by Ginger Hillis.

Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie.

Free small food business webinars open to all Arkansans    10/15/20

LITTLE ROCK – The Cooperative Extension Service’s Local, Regional and Safe Foods Team will be hosting two no-cost webinars as part of a Lunchtime Learning Series in October to assist a growing number of small food businesses.

As consumers increasingly seek locally sourced foods, U.S. local food sales, including cottage-food sales, have grown from $5 billion in 2008 to a projected $20 billion in 2019, according to former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The first of the webinars, scheduled for this Friday, Oct. 16, will focus on starting a small food business in Arkansas, specifically those businesses centered on “cottage food.”

The Oct. 16 webinar is primarily intended for small scale, home-based food businesses, farmers’ market managers and county extension agents. To register, visit www.uaex.edu

The second webinar is scheduled for next Friday, Oct. 23. This session will focus on food safety documentation and COVID-19 preparedness for small food manufacturers.

Both webinars are scheduled to stream live from noon-1 p.m., CDT. There is no cost to participate.

Organizers say the webinar series is designed to support Arkansans who want to launch a food business within the state.

Anyone interested in the subject but unable to join the webinars during their initial streaming can find additional resources and ongoing support for farm and food businesses at www.uaex.edu/localfoods.

ADH Updates local COVID-19 figures    10/15/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County rose by four over the past 24 hours to total 21 currently. Overall confirmed cases grew by eight to 1,240. Deaths remain at 19.

In neighboring counties, active cases increased by two to 23. Total confirmed cases rose by two as well to 402. Deaths remain at 29.

Howard County active cases increased by two to 27. Total confirmed cases rose by three to 527. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases decreased by two to 37. Total cases grew by five to 319. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional death over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 37. Active cases saw a significant one-day growth of 23 cases, raising the active case load in McCurtain County to 183. Total confirmed cases rose by 30 to 1,464.

Across the state, an additional 1,079 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday. That raises Arkansas’ cumulative total to 95,246 since the pandemic began. Deaths rose by 23 to 1,634. Active cases topped the 8,000-mark on Wednesday, rising by 263 to 8,007. Hospitalizations, fortunately, saw a decrease of 18 to 587.

Theft suspect leads police on chase, wrecks truck and flees on foot    10/14/20

 
DE QUEEN – De Queen police say an investigation continues into a case involving a shoplifter who fled in a vehicle, led officers on a pursuit, wrecked his truck and then escaped on foot.
According to information released yesterday afternoon by the De Queen Police Department, the incident began on Oct. 8 after police received a report about a shoplifter at Walmart in De Queen. The suspect left the store and was then seen by officers in the McDonald’s drive-thru. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver reportedly fled.
Following a short pursuit on Highway 70W, the suspect attempted to turn onto A.L. Tribble Lane but instead wrecked the truck into a ditch. The suspect then fled on foot.
First responders conducted a search but were unable to locate the suspect. The investigation continues, according to the report. Investigators do not have a name for the suspect and did not provide any other identifying information. Anyone with information on the case or the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to contact the De Queen Police Department at (870) 642-2213.
Harvest to distribute commodities today in Lockesburg    10/14/20
LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank will host a food giveaway directly from their truck this morning in Lockesburg. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia Street.
With CDC precautions and recommendations against COVID-19 still in place, Harvest is taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as drive-thru distributions. Recipients are asked not to leave their vehicle. Food will be loaded directly into their vehicle.
Photo ID and proof of address are required to verify recipients are residents of Sevier County. Commodities are limited to one box per household and two households per vehicle. Last year, Harvest distributed 3.2 million meals and served over 60,000 individuals in Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas.
Oklahoma residents arrested in Sevier County on felony drug charges    10/14/20
DE QUEEN – Two Oklahoma residents are facing felony drug charges following a traffic stop over the weekend.
According to a report released by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, two deputies were on patrol when they received a report about the occupants of a car acting as if they were under the influence. The deputies caught up to the reported vehicle on Highway 70 and initiated a traffic stop.
Deputies identified the driver as Jesus Laredo Nichols and a passenger, Kacy Ebert. Both were reportedly acting nervous, leading deputies to suspect both were under the influence of a controlled substance. The report stated Nichols was sweating profusely, mumbling and unable to sit still in his seat.

Consent to search the vehicle was allegedly given. A case containing suspected methamphetamine and related paraphernalia was allegedly found in the vehicle. Several more bags of suspected meth were found, according to police, totaling around 23 grams. Deputies said Nichols began complaining about a pain in his groin so he was taken to the Howard County Memorial Hospital for treatment. He was medically cleared soon after and then transported to the Sevier County Jail for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, a Class A felony, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia. Ebert was also arrested on the charge of possession with intent to deliver.

Area residents asked to complete policing survey by Oct. 16    10/14/20
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans have just a couple of days left to share their input on community policing through an online survey. Officials want to make sure area residents share their voice as well.
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the creation of the Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas this past summer. It's a cumbersome title that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but that doesn't take away from the mission the task force is pursuing. The taskforce was created to study the best practices for recruiting, training and maintaining law enforcement officers in Arkansas. The group also seeks to enhance trust and relations between law enforcement agencies and communities. 
The initiative was largely prompted by police shootings and the resulting protests throughout the nation this year.
Lockesburg native Daniel Martinez, Jr. was one of over a dozen Arkansans recruited to the governor's taskforce. Martinez spoke to us last week to highlight what the taskforce seeks to achieve and how local residents can help. 
The taskforce is hosting a survey looking to get input from Arkansans on how they view law enforcement within their community. So far the survey has received most of its responses from Northwest Arkansas. As a lifelong area resident, Martinez wants to make sure local voices are heard thru the survey, too.
The survey must be completed by Oct. 16. Once it's done, data from the survey will be compiled and highlight the difference in opinions by demographics and location. The survey report and analysis are expected to be complete by Oct. 23.

 
Martinez stresses the survey is quick, easy and vital to ensure Southwest Arkansas is represented.
 
De Queen School Board approves new weight room equipment for students    10/14/20
 
DE QUEEN – De Queen student athletes will soon have access to new training equipment following approval by the De Queen School Board Monday night.

The board approved an $85,000 purchase for new weight room equipment for students in PE as well as school athletes. District athletic officials had previously stated the need for new equipment to replace the aging equipment in the weight room.
During Superintendent Jason Sanders’ report, he stated the district had 73 percent of its students qualify for free and reduced meals. He added that current enrollment is 2,309 with 480 of those in a virtual learning environment. He also stated the district was teaming up with the City of De Queen for the upcoming peewee basketball program.
The board then approved several items of routine business including elected board member Skip Bell as a delegate to the Arkansas School Board Association. Board members also approved the district’s Gifted and Talented education plan and signed a memorandum of understanding with a local head start program.
Finally, the board approved the resignation of nurse Susie Mendez and approved two student transfers.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 2.

Arkansas State Fair begins tonight in Little Rock    10/14/20

LITTLE ROCK – The 2020 Arkansas State Fair will soon welcome livestock, talent and pageant competitors from across the state for 10 days of competition. The Arkansas State Fair Board announced earlier this year that aside from these two attractions, the 2020 event was being cancelled out of an abundance of caution over public health issues related to the coronavirus. 

“I think it is safe to say that the 2020 State Fair is the most unique in the event’s long history,” said Doug White, Arkansas State Fair president. “Despite the unconventional nature of this year’s Arkansas State Fair, we are very pleased to host the Junior Livestock Show, State Fair Pageant and Talent competitions and their participants.”

Competitors qualified for the State Fair field at county and/or regional events. In the case of pageants and talent, many also had a virtual component to their 2020 State Fair competition experience.

White said the state fair’s number one priority is to put public health and safety above all other considerations. He added that organizers have implemented stringent safeguards and protocols for these events, including social distancing, wearing masks, limiting attendees and spacing of events to allow for thorough cleaning of required buildings.

State Fair administration has developed an extensive logistics plan to limit the number of people and animals on the grounds at any given time.

Attendance by the general public is not allowed and competitors’ family members are limited in number to help maintain social distancing. Masks are required in all areas and strict cleanliness in barns and competition areas will be observed.

The 2020 Arkansas State Fair begins tonight and continues through Oct. 14 at the State Fairgrounds in Little Rock 

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures    10/14/20
 
DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County rose by two over the past 24 hours to 17. Overall confirmed cases grew by three to 1,232. Deaths remain at 19.

In neighboring counties, deaths in Little River County due to COVID-19 grew by one to 19. Active cases increased by two to 21 while overall cases rose by three to 400 since the pandemic began.

Howard County active cases increased by three to 25. Total confirmed cases rose by four to 524. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases increased by four to 39. Total cases grew by six to 314. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported an additional death over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 36. Active cases increased by three to 160. Total confirmed cases rose by 19 to 1,434.

Deadline tomorrow for tax filers who requested extended deadline   10/14/20

The October 15 filing deadline is just a day away for taxpayers who requested an extension to file their 2019 tax return. There are tools available at IRS.gov to help people with their taxes: Taxpayers can file their tax return electronically for free through IRS Free FileOther electronic filing options include using a free tax return preparation site, commercial software or an authorized e-file provider.

If an extension filer owes taxes, they should pay as much as possible by the Oct. 15 deadline to reduce interest and penalties. IRS Direct Pay allows individuals to securely pay from their checking or savings accounts. Visit IRS.gov foradditional payment options.

 
De Queen High School Homecoming ceremonies set for Oct. 30     10/13/20
 
2020 DHS HOMECOMING QUEEN – Halle Harp will be crowed the 2020 De Queen High School Homecoming Queen during ceremonies scheduled for Oct. 30 at Leopard Stadium.
DE QUEEN – October is here and that means De Queen High School’s Homecoming Ceremonies are just around the corner.
The De Queen High School Student Council announced Halle Harp will be the 2020 DHS Homecoming Queen. She will be escorted by twenty-six DHS homecoming maids. The ceremonies are set for Oct. 30, when the De Queen Leopards football team will take on the Magnolia Panthers. Homecoming festivities will kick-off with spirit week beginning on Oct. 26 through Oct. 29.
Spirit days include: Scare the Panthers Monday, when students will be allowed wear their Halloween costume; Don't Sleep on the Leopards Tuesday, when students will be allowed to wear pajamas; Way Back Wednesday, when students will dress in fashion from a past decade; It's A Cat Fight Thursday, when students will be asked to dress in their designated class color for color wars day. School dress code will apply to spirit week.
SENIOR MAIDS are from left to right in the front row, Lizbeth Osura and Diana Ramirez. In the second row are Senior Maids Kenya Martinez, Ariana Ortiz, Janae Tirado and Parker Sneed. In the third row are Senior Maids Perla Zapata, Sara Victoriano, Jessalyn Parker and Ana Marrufo.

Due to Covid-19 precautions and that Friday being a virtual school day for the district, homecoming festivities will look a little different this year. The festivities will begin at 2 p.m. at Leopard Stadium with an afternoon coronation ceremony. DHS is inviting students and the community to attend the ceremony at no cost. There will be no pre-game homecoming ceremony but the homecoming court will be recognized at halftime of the football game. In order to be in compliance with the Arkansas Department of Health, everyone must wear a mask and social distance at the afternoon ceremony and during the football game.

SENIOR MAIDS also include, from left to right in the first row, Cristal caudra and Giovanna Lerma. In the second row are Senior Maids Ashley Contreras, Yasmelin Gonzalez, Angie Hernandez, Kynnedi France and Matilda Jacobo. In the third row are Senior Maids Edith Hernandez, Dalania Hibbs and Carlee Helms.

Senior maids for this year’s Homecoming event include Kimberly Delgado, Deciredh Alvarez, Edith Hernandez, Dalania Hibbis, Carlee Helms, Ashley Contreras, Yasmelin Gonzalez, Angie Hernandez, Kynnedi France, Matilda Jacobo, Cristal Caudra, Giovanna Lerma, Perla Zapata, Sara Victoriano, Jessalyn Parker, Ana Marrufo, Kenya Martinez, Ariana Ortiz, Janae Tirado, Parker Sneed, Lizbeth Osura and Diana Ramirez.

Junior maids are Daphne Villeda and Marlen Perez. Sophomore maids are Wendy Victoriano and Amairany Ortiz. Crown bearer is Aileen Lopez while Hernan Fernandez will serve as football bearer.

Early voting begins next week in Arkansas   10/13/20

DE QUEEN – Early voting begins Oct. 19 across Arkansas.

The early voting period is held the two weeks before the general election. For Sevier County voters, they can begin voting next Monday at the De Queen Community building located in the Herman Dierks Park.

The early voting location will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. For the convenience of voters, the community building will be open both Saturdays before the election from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Election day itself will be Nov. 3.

The deadline to register as a first time voter has passed, but Arkansas residents who’ve moved to a different county since the last election have until Oct. 30 to update their voter registration.

Election officials are reminding voters of certain electioneering guidelines and laws. State election law prohibits voters from wearing campaign t-shirts, caps or buttons when entering a polling location. Voters who wear items displaying campaign material will be asked to remedy the situation before voting.

In addition, all campaign type material must be at least one hundred feet from the entrance to a polling place. This includes bumper stickers and campaign signs on vehicles.

Sevier County voters seeking additional information are welcome to contact the County Clerk’s office at 642-2852.

Ashdown teenager killed after being struck by car in Texarkana    10/13/20

TEXARKANA – An Ashdown teenager was killed after being struck by a vehicle in Texarkana over the weekend.

According to Texarkana police, 20-year-old Jackson Giles of Texarkana, Arkansas was driving a 2019 BMW south on Stateline Avenue when he hit the teenager. The 16-year-old teen, whose name has not been released since he was a juvenile, died at the scene. The incident occurred around 9:40 Sunday night.

Giles told investigators the teenager appeared suddenly in his path and that he did not have enough time to stop. In the report investigators said the teen had exited another vehicle and ran into the darkness just moments before the accident.

Police said the accident investigation is ongoing.

Sevier County Quorum Court declares vacancy in District 2 seat; special appointment by governor to fill seat expected later this year or next    10/13/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court met Monday afternoon to declare a vacancy on the legislative body and deal with several other items of county business.

The quorum court passed a resolution declaring a vacancy in the office of Justice of the Peace District 2 following the death of Charles Keels late last month. Keels, who was 74, had served on the Sevier County Quorum Court since 2002. County Judge Greg Ray said Keels will be greatly missed and not easily replaced.

Following this resolution, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will now be able to create a special appointment to the quorum court. It is, however, doubtful this process will be completed before next month’s election. Ray said he anticipates the special appointment to be made closer to the end of the year or even early 2021. Whoever is appointed to the position will not be able to run in the next election cycle.

In other business, the quorum court authorized Sevier County election officials to apply for and accept grants to assist with this year’s election. Specifically, these grants provide local election officials with funds to help purchase protective equipment and pay for special training for pollworkers. In effect Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin said the grants will help the county conduct a safe and secure election in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A similar county fund was established for federal funding the county receives through the Coronavirus Relief Fund set up by the national CARES Act.

Justices of the peace also heard from Dr. Steve Cole, Chancellor of UA Cossatot and director of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. He updated the quorum court on progress being made on the new hospital. That includes a groundbreaking ceremony set for early November. He also announced the group was in the process of seeking the new administrator to oversee day-to-day operations of the hospital. Dr. Cole said the board hopes to have the administrator in place in January.

Given the county’s past experience with hospital administration, Dr. Cole said the board will be very selective in who it chooses for the position.

The quorum court is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 9.

Search continues for two Little River County residents wanted on murder charges    10/13/20

ASHDOWN – Area law enforcement agencies are still asking for the community’s help in locating two Little River County residents suspected of shooting and killing an Ashdown man earlier this week.

According to the Ashdown Police Department, Cheleka Johnson and Corey Garfield are both wanted for their alleged involvement in the death of 48-year-old Dennis Graves last week. Felony arrest warrants have been issued for both Johnson and Garfield on the charge of first-degree murder. Both suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities with the Ashdown Police Department say they responded to an incident shortly before nine on Oct. 6 at a residence on Byrne Street. Upon arriving officers found Graves lying in the driveway and suffering from a single gunshot wound. He was given medical treatment by officers on the scene and then transported by ambulance to the Little River County Hospital. He died later that evening from the injury.

Investigators announced Johnson and Garfield as suspects following an investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Zane Butler at (903) 276-6370 or Little River County Dispatch at (870) 898-5115.

Again, both suspects are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone who has seen these suspects or know of their whereabouts should contact authorities immediately. 

Local County Extension Office closes; officials cite COVID-19 as reason    10/13/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Extension Office will be temporarily closed until the end of the month. The closure, which took place Monday, will continue until Oct. 27, when the office will reopen with regular business hours. In an announcement sent by the office, COVID-19 was citied as the reason for the office closure.

Staff will be working remotely over the next two weeks and can be reached at the following email addresses:

For Administrative Specialist Dana Stringfellow, email dstringfellow@uaex.edu

Rex Herring, County Extension Agent and Staff Chair, rherring@uaex.edu

Janet Cantrell, Family and Consumer Sceiences Agent, jcantrell@uaex.edu

And Kim Frachiseur, 4-H Program Assistant, kfrachiseur@uaex.edu

The Arkansas Ballot Issues Voter Guide, which is published by the Cooperative Extension Service, can be found online at www.uaex.edu/ballot

Harvest to distribute food in Lockesburg Wednesday    10/13/20

LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank will host a food giveaway directly from their truck on tomorrow, Oct. 14 in Lockesburg. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia Street. With CDC precautions and recommendations against COVID-19 still in place, Harvest is taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as drive-thru distributions. Recipients are asked not to leave their vehicle. Food will be loaded directly into their vehicle.

Photo ID and proof of address are required to verify recipients are residents of Sevier County. Commodities are limited to one box per household and two households per vehicle. Last year, Harvest distributed 3.2 million meals and served over 60,000 individuals in Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas.

Horatio Fall Festival set for Oct. 31   10/13/20

HORATIO – The 2020 Horatio Fall Festival has been set for Saturday, Oct. 31. The event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature a wide variety of vendors and booths set up with a huge selection of homemade and craft items.

A Halloween themed photo booth will be setup at the event as well as fall and Christmas themed holiday décor. Organizers say a ton of crafters from around the area will be set up at the event. A Howl-O-Ween dog costume contest is also scheduled for the festival. To participate in that contest, contact Kelsi Brown at 214-664-8818.

For more information on the Horatio Fall Festival, visit the Horatio Hometown Happenings page on Facebook.

Memorial Baptist hosting clothes drive for students at DQ Elementary    10/13/20

DE QUEEN – Memorial Baptist Church is hosting a clothing drive to help children in-need who attend De Queen Elementary School. Drop-off locations for clothes donations include the Memorial Baptist Church lobby, Lance and Vivi Bradshaw’s classrooms in the junior high school, and an outdoor drop box at De Queen Elementary School. Organizers are asking the community to support the drive by donating clothing and shoes for male and female students. There is an emphasis on winter clothing such as sweaters, long-sleeved shirts and jackets. For more information contact Vivi Bradshaw at (870) 315-0249.

Camping one of best ways to enjoy outdoors in Arkansas    10/13/20

Submitted by Arkansas Tourism

Camping is a wonderful way to enjoy Arkansas’s natural beauty. The views, fresh air and nighttime under the stars can revive the mind and refresh the spirit. Plenty of opportunities to pitch a tent can be found across the wide range of topography found here. Arkansas is home to mountains, lakes, rivers, forests and prairies, and each distinct area provides a portal to enjoying nature and the outdoors.

“Arkansas is a beautiful state,” said Shannon Caldwell, program director at the Arkansas 4-H Center in Little Rock. “There are a lot of outdoor opportunities here. We’ve got lakes, rivers, streams, mountains, and you don’t have to go very far to get to a camping location. Our winter is typically mild and our spring and fall are beautiful. Our summers are hot but we have so many water options that even in a hot summer there are places to go cool off. So you can camp in Arkansas really most of the year.”

For those who are interested in camping but might not know where to begin the process, Caldwell, who has worked at the 4-H Center for 22 years and has taught several classes on camping basics, said a good starting spot is at home. “Try things and equipment at your house first so you are familiar with items like your tent, stove or anything you might need to do at a campsite,” she said. This helps prep you for various unexpected scenarios you might encounter like potentially arriving at a site after dark or as it is raining. “The more knowledge you have before you get out there the less stressful it will be on you once you get to the campsite,” she said. “Try to do a practice run camping close to your home if possible, especially if you have kids. This way, if the venture becomes a bust, you have the option to easily get home.”

A vital step before heading out on a first venture is to research the area you’re going to. Reach out to people who’ve been there before for information and try not to solely depend on the Internet. Make sure there is camping space available where you’re going and become familiar with the accommodations available there: for instance, whether it is a primitive campsite or if there are restrooms, water or animal-proof trash cans onsite. Also, keep an eye on the weather. Prepare for it and for what kind of climate you’ll be in because this helps prepare for the type of clothing you’ll need to take. Also, because Arkansas weather can change quickly, practice layering clothing: for example, having a moisture wicking layer against your skin and a breathable waterproof outer layer if rain is expected. “Don’t make your trip so complicated that you don’t have fun though,” Caldwell said. “Do your research but be flexible and remember that this is about having a good time.”
 
For first-time camping with kids, Caldwell said a number one recommendation is to keep them involved in the planning process. “The more the kids are invested the more successful you’re likely to be if they’ve had a hand in planning where you’re going and what you’re doing.” Enrolling them beforehand in area outdoor day camps, such as the Arkansas Outdoor School Day Camp hosted at the 4-H Center each summer, is also an option where they can learn skills like building a fire or learning to fish or canoe. “The more you can help them be familiar with an activity beforehand the better,” she said.

Another suggestion for first-timers is to borrow equipment from friends and family if you can before buying a bunch of gear or spending money on something that might not end up being your thing. For example, if you are planning fishing as part of your camping experience, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a rod-and-reel loaner program through the public libraries. If you want to do other activities like canoeing or biking as part of your trip, many Arkansas State Parks have these items onsite to rent as do various local outfitters across the state. Many universities also have outdoor rental equipment options that students and staff can check out too. Caldwell advised going to local outdoor stores such as Ozark Outdoor Supply in Little Rock, Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters in Hot Springs and Pack Rat Outdoor Center in Fayetteville when you are ready to buy your own gear because the people who work there have first-hand experience with the Arkansas outdoors.

Ready to camp? Below, Caldwell shares some of the many spots you can find across Arkansas that make good options for beginning ventures:  

Blanchard Springs Recreation Area in Mountain View

“This is my favorite group campsite I’ve been to in Arkansas. In general the campsites have shade and there is a creek and a lake you can go trout fishing at and Blanchard Springs Caverns are a top thing to see in Arkansas.”

Maumelle Park in Little Rock

“This is an easy to get to location. They have a lot of campsites, there is a playground and basketball court and it is also close to Pinnacle Mountain so you can camp and then go hike there. It is also close to stores if you forgot something.”

Lake Ouachita State Park near Hot Springs

“If you are into water, this is a great place for swimming, boating, fishing, along with camping. Because Lake Ouachita is such a large lake there are a lot of options.”

Village Creek State Park in Wynne

“I haven’t camped here yet but it has been mentioned to me. They have a small museum, lakes, trails, horse camp sites, and you can hike on part of the Trail of Tears there.”

Devil’s Den State Park

“I haven’t camped here either but I know several people who have and it has got a lot of options. You can do horse camping there, there is hiking and mountain biking there and there are lots of campsites too. We are really fortunate to have as many state parks as we have and as many outdoor opportunities too.”

Buffalo National River

“It is cool this is America’s first national river. Buffalo River has several options of places to camp. It is also a good place to learn to canoe and they have a variety of trails to hike too.”

Arkansas Governor's School accepting applications now   10/13/20

RUSSELLVILLE – Eligible individuals interested in attending the 42nd Arkansas Governor’s School as a student should ask their school counselors about the nomination process.

Information and instructions for applying are available by emailing ags@atu.edu.

The deadline to apply to be an Arkansas Governor’s School student in summer 2021 is Jan. 20, 2021. Arkansas Tech University will host the 42nd AGS July 5-31, 2021, in Russellville.

Students selected to attend will enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime summer program designed to spark their curiosity, engage them intellectually with other students and teachers from around the state and explore scholarly and artistic concepts in a fun, grade-free environment, said Dr. Robin Lasey, director of Arkansas Governor’s School.

Founded in 1979 by Gov. Bill Clinton, Arkansas Governor’s School serves approximately 400 selected students from around the state during the summer before their senior year in high school.

Student applicants should demonstrate the intellectual, social and emotional maturity required to thrive in an environment that emphasizes the application of theory in addressing contemporary issues. Students will apply in one of nine disciplines: visual art, choral music, instrumental music, drama, English/language arts, mathematics, natural science, social science or cybersecurity.

A number of students from area schools have enrolled in the Arkansas Governor’s School in the past.

You can also call (479) 968-0391 for more information.

Search continues for two suspects in Ashdown murder 10/09/20

Corey Garfield

ASHDOWN – Area law enforcement agencies are searching for two Little River County residents suspected of shooting and killing an Ashdown man earlier this week.
According to information released by the Ashdown Police Department yesterday afternoon, Cheleka Johnson and Corey Garfield are both wanted for their alleged involvement in the death of 48-year-old Dennis Graves Tuesday night. Felony arrest warrants have been issued for both Johnson and Garfield on the charge of first-degree murder. Both suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities with the Ashdown Police Department say they responded to an incident shortly before nine Tuesday night at a residence on Byrne Street. Upon arriving officers found Graves lying in the driveway and suffering from a single gunshot wound. He was given medical treatment by officers on the scene and then transported by ambulance to the Little River County Hospital. He died later that evening from the injury.

Cheleka Johnson

Investigators announced Johnson and Garfield as suspects following an investigation Tuesday night and into Wednesday. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Zane Butler at (903) 276-6370 or Little River County Dispatch at (870) 898-5115.

Again, both suspects are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone who has seen these suspects or know of their whereabouts should contact authorities immediately.

 
 
DQPD welcomes newest patrol officer, Chris Turner    10/09/20
 
The full audio interview is available here:
 
 
The partial transcript if featured below:
 
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
 
Chris Turner, a native of Lockesburg, is the newest officer with the De Queen Police Department. He shared some of his history and thoughts on policing in an interview KDQN aired Friday morning.
De Queen's newest police officer hit the streets this week and is likely to be a familiar face to many. He also brings a wealth of policing experience to the DQPD. 
 
Chris Turner started as a patrol officer this week, filling a vacancy left by Jarrin Platt after his resignation. A Lockesburg native, Turner hasn't been back home except to visit since heading off to college after graduating from Lockesburg High School in 1997. After more than two decades away, he's glad to be back. Turner's been with the DQPD less than a week but already knows he's in the right place.
 
Turner went on to receive his degree in health education from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. As a basketball player for Lockesburg, Turner had a longstanding passion for sports and coaching. 
 
But life has a way of changing things. And Turner, well, he realized another passion – one very close to home.
 
He ended up applying and hiring with the campus police department at UCA. He moved through the ranks to become a detective and patrol supervisor.All in all, he spent 15 years with the PD at UCA. Campus police always seem to have their work cut out for them and Turner's about seen it all. From people's best moments to their worst. But the mantra he carried with him each day applied as equally to the university campus as it will on the streets of De Queen.
 
2020 has brought many issues to the forefront. Not the least of which – community and police relations. Incidents involving police have reached the national spotlight many times this year. Sometimes fairly, sometimes not. Morale in many police departments has sagged, forcing some officers to retire early or leave the profession entirely. But Turner's quick to point out it's been a year of hardships for everyone.
 
At the same time, Turner is adamant that the vast majority of professionals in law enforcement are good people who chose this field to help their communities. They serve out of respect and a sense of attachment to the people they serve and protect.
 
And for long-serving officers like Turner, it's the best way they know to give back to their communities.
 
Area residents asked to provide input on community policing through statewide survey   10/09/20
 
The full audio story is here:
 
 
The partial transcript is featured below:
 
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
 
Arkansans are being asked to share their input on community policing through an online survey and officials want to make sure area residents share their voice as well.
 
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the creation of the Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas this past summer. It's a cumbersome title that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but that doesn't take away from the mission the task force is pursuing. The taskforce was created to study the best practices for recruiting, training and maintaining law enforcement officers in Arkansas. The group also seeks to enhance trust and relations between law enforcement agencies and communities. 
 
The initiative was largely prompted by police shootings and the resulting protests throughout the nation this year.
 
Lockesburg native Daniel Martinez, Jr. was one of over a dozen Arkansans recruited to the governor's taskforce. Martinez spoke to us earlier this week to highlight what the taskforce seeks to achieve and how local residents can help. 
 
The taskforce announced this week a new survey looking to get input from Arkansans on how they view law enforcement within their community. So far the survey has received over 1,500 responses – most of those from Northwest Arkansas. As a lifelong area resident, Martinez wants to make sure local voices are heard too.
 
The survey must be completed by Oct. 16. Once it's done, data from the survey will be compiled and highlight the difference in opinions by demographics and location. The survey report and analysis are expected to be complete by Oct. 23. A link to the survey are included here:
 
 
Martinez stresses the survey is quick, easy and vital to ensure Southwest Arkansas is represented.

Keisha McKinney of De Queen included in inaugural VIPinks Arkansas Campaign   10/09/20
 

LITTLE ROCK – In its inaugural year in Arkansas, 10 leading women will unite to fight breast cancer with the American Cancer Society through participation in the VIPinks campaign. Keisha McKinney, of De Queen, is a member of this elite group. Throughout October, VIPinks will encourage community members to take action in the fight against breast cancer.

“In addition to wearing pink and raising awareness about breast cancer, these women will be raising funds to help the American Cancer Society attack cancer from every angle and save more lives from breast cancer,” said DeAnna Korte, Senior Manager for Community Development for the American Cancer Society. “Funds raised help us save lives from breast cancer through early detection and prevention, innovative breast cancer research, and patient support.”

Each VIPink participant accepts a fundraising challenge and will compete to be the top fundraiser among her peers by the end of the campaign.

“I am forever indebted to the American Cancer Society. I’m a 12-year cancer survivor and the protocol that sent my cancer into remission was developed by an American Cancer Society funded research team,” stated McKinney. “But fighting this disease is bigger for us. My mother in law was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago and continues to fight her battle each day. This month she will travel to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, TX to seek need treatments and potentially enroll in a clinical trial. I know these are treatment options that were not available 10 years ago when she was diagnosed and that is because of generous donors, talented research teams, and the commitment of the American Cancer Society.”

It is noted that nearly 300,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. The American Cancer Society is committed to continue to be the largest funder of cancer research outside of the US government. Each day new therapies, treatment protocols, screening guidelines, and survivorship patterns are being developed through the $64 million invested in cancer research.

During the pandemic, the American Cancer Society has been hit like most non-profits and this year’s VIPinks and Real Men Wear Pink candidates are challenged to continue to raise funds and bring awareness. Locally, McKinney is hosting a freezer meal fundraiser, partnering with local restaurants for a give back night, auctioning drawings by her toddler son, selling tshirts, and receiving online donations at tiny.cc/vipinkkeisha.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, and it is the most common cancer diagnosed in women other than skin cancer.

“Our community can make a huge impact in the breast cancer cause,” said McKinney. “I am as committed now as I have ever been to raising funds and bringing awareness for this esteemed organization. I often get asked how the dollars help locally and I smile and say look at my face. I am here because of pennies, quarters, and dollars donated one at a time. When someone gets diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t matter where they live, they have full access to the resources and treatments developed in the labs where the investment would make the greatest impact. That is always a local impact.”

In addition to funding cancer research, the American Cancer Society provides transportation grants, hotel partnerships, a patient hotline that is available 24/7 at 800-227-2345 and trusted information anytime at cancer.org.

For more information about breast cancer or the VIPinks campaign in Arkansas, call 1-800-227-2345.

Horatio High School Homecoming is on for today   10/09/20

HORATIO – The 2020 Horatio High School homecoming ceremony is on for this afternoon and evening. The 2020 homecoming queen is Angela Guiterrez. She will be escorted by Senior Maids Madison Olvey, Aubrey Banhart, Maddie Rivas and Kalyn McWhorter. Junior Maids are Madison Bagley and Gracie Shelton. Sophomore Maids are Attalee Frachiseur and Mallori Marshall. Dovie Connor will serve as flower girl and tate Dorsey as the football bearer. Chanli Hornsby will be the homecoming crown bearer.

Events will begin at 1 p.m. with a golf cart caravan through Horatio. The caravan will end at the elementary school around 1:30 p.m. Parents who would like to view the parade can park at the football field.

A daytime coronation ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the football field. Seniors will be dismissed at 1:50 p.m. to drive or catch the shuttle bus to the ceremony. Grades kindergarten through 11 will be able to watch the daytime ceremony virtually. A photographer will be present and sharing photos and video to the Horatio High School Facebook page.

Tickets for the Horatio Homecoming will not be sold in advance. Tickets can be purchased on a first-come, first-serve basis at the gate. Visitors will not be allowed in without a ticket. Masks will be required. The gate will open at 5 p.m. Homecoming royalty will arrive at 6 p.m. with the coronation ceremony set for 6:30.

Following Homecoming ceremonies, Horatio will face off against the Fouke Panthers at Lion Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Sevier County unemployment rate remains below state, national averages   10/09/20
 
By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
 
Sevier County’s unemployment rate remains below the state and national averages. That’s a fact reflected in consistently strong and record-breaking sales tax collections throughout the late spring and into summer.

As of August – the month with the latest data – Sevier County’s unemployment rate is at 6.7 percent. Statewide the unemployment rate is 7.4 percent. Sevier County ranks 30th in the state for the lowest number of residents filing for unemployment. Of course, the rate does not reflect those who are under-employed – that is, they’re not receiving as much work as they would like. The figure does not include people who are currently unemployed but are no longer receiving benefits.

Neighboring Little River County reported an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent in August. That’s ranks Little River 49th out of 75 Arkansas counties. Little River’s unemployment rate is still lower than the national rate, which declined slightly in September to 7.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Howard County is ranked 16th in the state with an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent. Polk County ranks 50th with an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent.

Statewide Madison County reported the lowest unemployment rate of 4.8 percent. Chicot County has the highest at 12.3 percent.
Across the state line, McCurtain County saw an unemployment rate in August of 6.3 percent. That’s a sizeable drop from the 7.8 percent reported in July and a spike of 12.1 percent back in April.

 
Sevier County Sheriff's Office details monthly activities for August   10/09/20
 
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Sheriffs Office has released its update detailing activities for the month of September:Deputies clocked a total of 2,123 hours on duty during the month.

Total miles driven by deputies were 21,807 with 1,448 gallons of fuel used.

Deputies received a total of 134 calls, including 21 motor vehicle accidents, 124 traffic stops, 11 citations, 117 warnings and 19 arrests.

A total of 77 civil papers were served. 818 building checks were made throughout the month.

Investigators opened several new cases, including a missing person and burn victim case.

Investigators worked four sexual assaults, one juvenile gunshot incident, one animal cruelty case and several theft cases.

Sevier County Quorum Court will meet Monday, Oct. 12   10/09/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court will meet in regular session on Monday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Weyerhaeuser Room on UA Cossatot’s De Queen campus.

The meeting will begin with an update from the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. Justices of the peace will then vote on a proposed ordinance establishing a new county fund to hold and account for grants the county has received in order to establish a safe and secure election next month. A similar ordinance will be voted upon in regards to federal CARES Act funding the county has received. The purchase of a scissor lift is also on the agenda as well as a proposed resolution declaring a vacancy in the office of Justice of the Peace District 2 due to the passing of JP Charles Keels late last month.

The meeting is open to the public.

With deer season on, it's easy to forget fall is a great time for fishing   10/09/20

As the temperatures drop and the leaves change color, the thoughts of most Arkansans turn to the pursuit of deer, ducks, squirrels and other game. Fishing is put on the back burner, but the changing seasons and dropping temperatures will spur the fish of Arkansas into a feeding frenzy that can lead to some of the best angling days of the year.

As waters warm in the early months of the year, fish are spurred to the shallows looking to spawn. This move to the shallows can occur at different times for different species. But during the fall months, all these species are driven to congregate by the need to feed before winter sets in. This provides anglers with a possible mixed bag on any given day. Fall fish are there to feed and their voracious appetites make them great targets for a day on the water.

The fall feed occurs on lakes, rivers, streams and creeks and each one provides an angler with great opportunities. These fish will also fall for a wide variety of baits, thus allowing an angler to be successful with their favorite style of fishing.

Fish in large, clear waterways often follow large schools of shad. These shad are also trying to feed before winter sets in and can be found on long points, drop-offs and brush piles.

In smaller lowland lakes, the fish tend to venture toward shoreline cover. Cypress trees and brush piles, especially those that might be in a little deeper water are often used as ambush points by hungry fish.

Flowing waters offer their most interesting fishing of the year as the leaves change and begin to fall. Many species of fish that inhabit rivers and streams will begin to feed aggressively and often stack in large numbers in the same general locations in search of food. A very important tool in fishing a river is being able to read the river and its current flow. Falling leaves can provide a great clue of likely locations to cast a line. As the leaves fall and settle on the water’s surface, they will flow downstream with the current and these flowing leaves will tell an observant angler exactly where to cast

Whether it be a river or lake, fall is a great time to be on the water. Not only are the fish actively feeding, the crowds have dwindled and the scenery can be spectacular.

 
Sevier County sample ballot for November General Election   10/09/20
 

Authorities seeking two Little River County residents for murder of Ashdown man  10/08/20

ASHDOWN – Area law enforcement agencies are searching for two Little River County residents suspected of shooting and killing an Ashdown man earlier this week.

According to information released by the Ashdown Police Department yesterday afternoon, Cheleka Johnson and Corey Garfield are both wanted for their alleged involvement in the death of 48-year-old Dennis Graves Tuesday night. Felony arrest warrants have been issued for both Johnson and Garfield on the charge of first-degree murder. Both suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

 

Authorities with the Ashdown Police Department say they responded to an incident shortly 

Cheleka Johnson

before nine Tuesday night at a residence on Byrne Street. Upon arriving officers found Graves lying in the driveway and suffering from a single gunshot wound. He was given medical treatment by officers on the scene and then transported by ambulance to the Little River County Hospital. He died later that evening from the injury.

Investigators announced Johnson and Garfield as suspects following an investigation Tuesday night and into Wednesday. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Zane Butler at (903) 276-6370 or Little River County Dispatch at (870) 898-5115.

Again, both suspects are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone who has seen these suspects or know of their whereabouts should contact authorities immediately.

Horatio High School Homecoming ceremonies set for this Friday  10/08/20

HORATIO – The 2020 Horatio High School homecoming ceremony is set for tomorrow, Oct. 9. This year’s homecoming queen is Angela Guiterrez. Senior Maids include Madison Olvey, Aubrey Banhart, Maddie Rivas and Kalyn McWhorter. Junior Maids are Madison Bagley and Gracie Shelton. Sophomore Maids are Attalee Frachiseur and Mallori Marshall. Dovie Connor will serve as flower girl and tate Dorsey as the football bearer. Chanli Hornsby will be the homecoming crown bearer.

Events will begin at 1 p.m. with a golf cart caravan through Horatio. The caravan will end at the elementary school around 1:30 p.m. Parents who would like to view the parade can park at the football field.

A daytime coronation ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the football field. Seniors will be dismissed at 1:50 p.m. to drive or catch the shuttle bus to the ceremony. Grades kindergarten through 11 will be able to watch the daytime ceremony virtually. A photographer will be present and sharing photos and video to the Horatio High School Facebook page.

Tickets for the Horatio Homecoming will not be sold in advance. Tickets can be purchased on a first-come, first-serve basis at the gate. Visitors will not be allowed in without a ticket. Masks will be required. The gate will open at 5 p.m. Homecoming royalty will arrive at 6 p.m. with the coronation ceremony set for 6:30.

Following Homecoming ceremonies, Horatio will face off against the Fouke Panthers at Lion Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Voter Guide aims to inform Arkansans on statewide ballot intiatives  10/08/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

The Arkansas 2020 Voter Guide is available to assist voters in understanding the statewide ballot measures in this year's General Election.

Arkansans planning to exercise their voting rights during the upcoming November elections have an invaluable education tool at their disposal: an online guide to Arkansas’ statewide ballot issues.

The 2020 Arkansas Ballot Issue Voter Guide, published by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Public Policy Center, is now available at www.uaex.edu/ballot.

Election Day is just a few weeks away and many Arkansans are already casting their absentee ballots. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an executive order in August allowing all Arkansas voters to use absentee ballots if they had COVID-19-related concerns. County clerks began mailing out absentee ballots in September. Early voting begins Oct. 19 and Election Day is Nov. 3.

With many Arkansans already voting, and many more planning to once early voting begins, it’s important to know what’s going to be on the ballot. Arkansas voters have some decisions to make this fall when it comes to the state constitution.

The guide covers all six statewide ballot issues, although the Arkansas Supreme Court has recently ruled that three of the six do not qualify to be on the November ballot. Issue 1, Issue 2 and Issue 3 remain on the ballot.

Issue 1 asks voters to continue a half-cent statewide sales tax to provide funds for infrastructure projects. The current sales tax provides the state with 70 percent of the revenue collected. The other 30 percent is split evenly between Arkansas cities and counties.

Issue 2 seeks to install a 12-year term limit on state legislators. Legislators would be able to run again after a four-year break. If Issue 2 fails, the current 16-year term limit will remain in place.

Issue 3 asks voters to support changes to the requirements for citizen initiatives and legislative referrals. If passed Issue 3 would make five changes to the way citizen initiatives and legislative referrals are obtained. For the most part, these changes would place additional hurdles for citizen-initiated changes to state law. The measure would reduce the time petitioners have to get the required amount of signatures and triple the number of Arkansas counties they would need to canvass. Supporters say Issue 3 allows out-of-state interest groups to buy signatures and have an outsized influence on legislation in Arkansas. Supporters cite medical marijuana, casinos and higher minimum wages as issues introduced to Arkasnas by large special interest groups.

Opponents of the measure say it would make it nearly impossible to get a petition on an Arkansas ballot. If everyday Arkansans couldn’t propose ballot measures, opponents of Issue 3 say, the state’s minimum wage would still be $8.50 an hour. That wage was raised in 2018 thanks to a citizen-led ballot measure which received over 68 percent of the votes cases.

Issues 4, 5 and 6 have been removed from the ballot.

The online guide has been updated to reflect those court decisions.

Arkansans see the popular name and ballot title of each proposed constitutional amendment when casting their votes. Every amendment actually includes more information than what is included on the ballot. Voters should find the full proposals and learn more about what they would do in the voter guide.

To view the full guide, visit the Business and Communities page at www.uaex.edu. The guide is also being made available at all cooperative extension offices across the state.

Area voters will decide several local issues, races this November  10/08/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

In addition to statewide ballot initiatives, voters in the listening area will have several local issues to decide.

That includes whether or not to permit the sale of alcohol in Sevier County. The wet/dry measure made it to the ballot after organizers behind the effort collected more than the minimum amount of needed signatures earlier this year.

If the measure passes, alcohol sales will be permitted in Sevier County for the first time since Prohibition began in the 1920s. The measure would allow for a limited number of alcohol stores in the county, and allow restaurants to apply for licenses to serve alcohol on their premises.

The wet/dry issue will be open for all Sevier County voters to decide.

Other local elections include a race for the Ward 2, Position 1 seat on the De Queen City Council. Lee Ann Pitchford has challenged incumbent Teresa Bunyard for the position.

Voters within the Gillham city limits will decide a proposed one-percent local sales and use tax.

Voters within the Dierks School District boundaries will also vote on extending the current millage rate of 43 mills to provide additional funding for the district. The extension does not increase the current millage rate. The requested rate of 43 mills represents the same rate presently being collected.

Sample ballots are available for Sevier County voters who want to study up on all the issues and races before the November General Election. A sample ballot is posted on our website, www.kdqn.net. The sample ballot is also available at the county clerk’s office in the Sevier County Courthouse.

Arkansas releases newly created Feral Hog Handbook  10/08/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

They’re mean. They’re nasty. And they destroy just about anything, just about anywhere they’re at. If that description conjures up the image of a feral hog, you’ve certainly been paying attention.

Well, so apparently have state officials in Arkansas.

It’s hard not to notice these widespread and highly destructive creatures. Feral hogs cause over $19 million in damages each year in Arkansas alone. They pose a threat to native species, especially groundnesting birds. They also present a significant risk to human and livestock health through the diseases they carry. Altogether, feral hogs are becoming a problem no one can miss.

In hopes of lending Arkansans a hand in this fight, this week the Department of Agriculture released its newly created Arkansas Feral Hog Handbook. The handbook is described as a guide to assist Arkansans in controlling and hopefully eradicating feral hog populations in their areas.

The handbook includes contact information, websites, and brief explanations of the resources offered by state and federal agencies and other entities. A grant through the USDA’s Conservation Service funded the project, according to Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.

The handbooks are being distributed to the public at locations throughout the state with assistance from partner organizations, including the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Arkansas Game and Fish and Arkansas Farm Bureau. Copies of the handbook can also be found online at the Department of Agriculture’s website, agriculture.arkansas.gov  

The handbook contains information on a host of information many Arkansans, especially property owners, could find useful. Among those resources are the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force, feral hog reporting, a summary of the USDA Feral Swine Pilot Program, state laws and rules regarding feral hogs, and other resources with information about feral hogs and the damage they cause.

Overall the handbook provides a brief overview of feral hog issues as well as provide information resources available to landowners. J.P. Fairhead, coordinator of the state’s Feral Hog Program, said the handbook also aims to increase public awareness of the issues related to feral hogs.

Deer processors may be very busy this year    10/08/20

Submitted by AGFC

Hunters planning to hit the woods Oct. 17 for Arkansas’s muzzleloader season and Nov. 14 for modern gun deer season may want to check with the deer processor they normally use to make the most of their harvest. Some processors who handle domestic livestock may be seeing a backlog from recent direct-to-butcher purchases at the beginning of this summer’s meat shortage.

According to Jeremy Brown, assistant deer program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, some smaller processors have been booked solid through the fall taking in reservations for local beef and pork production from new customers.

When news spread of a possible shortage of meat, it wasn’t because cattle and pork producers didn’t have the livestock. it was because large-scale processing plants were being closed from social-distancing precautions, Brown explained.

While the purchases were a real benefit to local producers and kept supply lines flowing, it also caused some of the processors to fill to capacity right at the beginning of deer season.

Brown says calling ahead to your processor is a good practice. On opening weekend, many processors will see hundreds of deer come in, and a hunter who knows exactly how they want their deer processed will help keep things moving for everyone.

It may also be a good time to invest in a grinder, vacuum sealer and a few other tools to debone and process deer at home. It’s not hard to do, but it does take some extra effort that many people would rather leave to a butcher.”

Helpful video processing tips and techniques can be found online on YouTube.

Additional helpful tips on game processing and cooking can also be found at www.agfcnaturecenter.com.

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures 10/08/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County saw a single increase over the past 24 hours, raising to 11. Total confirmed cases also grew by one to 1,218. Deaths remain at 19.

In neighboring counties, active cases in Little River County decreased by two to 12. Total cases increased by one to 375. Deaths remain at 27.

Howard County active cases decreased by six on Wednesday to 15. Total confirmed cases were adjusted by one to 503. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases increased by five to 27 over the past 24 hours. Total cases grew by 11 to 297. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, active cases in McCurtain County increased by four to 149. Total confirmed cases rose by nine to 1,368. Deaths remained at 35.

Across the state, Arkansas reported an additional 809 cases on Wednesday raising the state’s cumulative total to 88,880. Active cases of COVID-19 saw a net decrease of 22 to a new total of 6,686. Deaths grew by 13 to 1,482.

Arkansas governor issues new directives for nursing home visitation 10/08/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

New directives in Arkansas will allow more people to see their loved ones in long-term care facilities. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the modified COVID-19 restrictions at a news conference Tuesday, minutes before announcing the state has hit its highest number of virus hospitalizations.

The new guidelines allow patients at long term health care facilities to have visitation if a health care provider approves it for medical treatment or if they are in compassionate care situations, like hospice. There will also be expanded visitation for facilities that meet the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Those guidelines include no new positive cases of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days. The facility must also screen every visitor, employee, contractor and vendor entering the building and restricting access to anyone who does not pass the screening process.

“These visits are critical to the well-being of the residents and families, and we believe the measures put in place will improve the lives of impacted families,” Hutchinson said.

The full guidelines are available online at healthy.arkansas.gov

Sevier County Justice of the Peace, lifelong resident of SW Arkansas passes  10/07/20

Sevier County Justice of the Peace Charles Keels passed away Sept. 29. He was a part of local governance in Sevier County since 2002.

DE QUEEN – A Sevier County Justice of the Peace and lifelong resident of Southwest Arkansas passed away last week. Charles Keels, Senior, passed away at the age of 74 on Sept. 29 in De Queen.

A well-known and well-liked resident of De Queen, Keels served in the United States Army and married his wife, Evelyn, in Lockesburg in 1967. Keels was a master electrician, working three decades for Southwest REA and as owner of Keels Electric in De Queen. He was a mason and represented the Second District on the Sevier County Quorum Court for many years. He was first elected to the seat in 2002 and held it until his passing last month. Those who knew him remember Keels as a kind and humorous man who enjoyed fishing, hunting and spending time with family.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray said Keels' commitment to local governance extended beyond the Second District he represented. Keels took into consideration matters which would affect all of Sevier County. Ray also lauded Keels as a man who would do anything he could to help another individual.

Keels is survived by his wife of 52 years, Evelyn, as well as one son, Charles Keels, Junior, and a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Funeral services for Keels will be held on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. in the Chandler Funeral Home Chapel. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. this Friday at the funeral home.

Passing of local justice of the peace will require special appointment by Arkansas governor to Sevier County Quorum Court  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – The passing of Justice of the Peace Charles Keels on Sept. 29 leaves the District 2 seat currently vacant on the nine-member quorum court of Sevier County.

In the event of a vacancy such as this, the seat will be filled through a special appointment made by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. The Sevier County Quorum Court will vote at his next meeting on Oct. 12 to official declare a vacancy on the legislative body. Following that vote the governor will be able to declare a special appointment to Keels’ former seat on the quorum court.

The individual appointed to the position will serve in that role until the next general election. That individual cannot seek election to the quorum court following this special appointment period.

District 2 on the Sevier County Quorum Court centers around the western and southern portions of De Queen. More information on the appointment process will be provided next week following the meeting on the Sevier County Quorum Court on Monday. 

De Queen City Council votes in support of Issue 1 on General Election ballot; approves Tara Athey to Planning Commission  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council met in regular session Tuesday night to officially show its support for Issue 1 on the Arkansas November General Election and to take care of several other items of city business.

The city council voted unanimously on an ordinance in support of Issue 1. This issue seeks to make permanent a half-cent statewide sales tax used to fund road improvement projects across Arkansas. The tax is currently in place but will sunset in 2023. Issue 1 seeks to make that tax permanent.

Under the tax’s existing funding structure, 70 percent of the collected revenue will go towards state road projects. The remaining 30 percent is split evenly between Arkansas cities and counties. De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said that equates to around $125,000 in additional funding for the city each year. Given the ever rising costs of road construction, Brown said those state funds are a shot in the arm for local infrastructure improvement projects.

The ordinance passed by the De Queen City Council simply expresses its desire to see the tax continue, and highlights the loss it would pose if the tax expires. Voters across Arkansas will decide Issue 1 during this year’s General Election on Nov. 3.

In other business, the city council approved Tara Athey to the De Queen Planning Commission. Brown said Athey’s experience serving on local boards, including the De Queen/Sevier County Chamber of Commerce, and her experience as a real estate agent will serve the planning commission well.

The city council also approved levying the city’s standard 5.4 millage rate. That includes 5 mills for general funds and .4 mills for the city’s firemen pension. Also approved was the 2018 legislative audit and a $7,000 appropriation to repair and replace fencing around the city’s water tower sites.

Finally, city officials introduced two new employees during Tuesday’s meeting: Chris Turner, a native of Lockesburg who will serve as De Queen’s newest police officer. Turner previously served for years at Arkansas Central University and will replace officer Jarrin Platt, who recently resigned.

Also introduced was Clint Young, who will replace Mike Sims as superintendent of the De Queen wastewater department. Sims is currently the longest serving city employee. He plans to retire next month after 37 years with the city. Young will take over as superintendent following Sims’ retirement.

City officials cancelled the council’s next scheduled meeting in October and will meet again next month. 

Election information on COVID-19 measures in place; voters reminded of electioneering laws  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Clerk’s Office and the Sevier County Election Commission is informing voters that election officials are ensuring this year’s election will be not just a smooth process for voters, but a safe one as well.

A number of protective measures will be in place with everyone’s health and voting rights in mind. Poll workers will wear masks and shields to protect themselves and voters. No-contact procedures are in place for the comfort of all voters.

Voting equipment will be sanitized frequently and six-foot markers will be placed to ensure CDC social distancing. Doorkeepers will be located at each polling place with a quick, voluntary questionnaire to determine COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.

A separate voting machine will be installed at each polling place for anyone who feels ill on election day. Voters will be asked, but not required, to wear face coverings.

The Sevier County Clerk’s Office stresses that no one will be discouraged from voting on Nov. 3.

Election officials are also reminding voters of certain electioneering guidelines and laws. State election law prohibits voters from wearing campaign t-shirts, caps or buttons when entering a polling location. Voters who wear items displaying campaign material will be asked to remedy the situation before voting.

In addition, all campaign type material must be at least one hundred feet from the entrance to a polling place. This includes bumper stickers and campaign signs on vehicles.

Sevier County voters seeking additional information are welcome to contact the County Clerk’s office at 642-2852.

DQPD, McDonald's in De Queen celebrating National Coffee with a Cop Day  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – McDonald’s in De Queen and the De Queen Police Department will celebrate National Coffee with a Cop Day today by greeting community members in the drive through and passing out free coffee. Celia Montgomery, the local McDonald’s owner and operation, said as local small business owners, they are always looking for opportunities to support the local community. She said this partnership with the DeQueen Police Department will continue to build community relationships while following all national and local social distancing guidelines.

Officers from the De Queen Police Department will greet drive-thru customer and hand out free coffee this morning from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the McDonald’s restaurant in De Queen.

“While Coffee with a Cop may look a little different this year due to the pandemic, I’m proud to continue supporting stronger relationships between police officers and our community,” said local McDonald’s Owner/Operator Celia Montgomery. “I’m happy that we can continue to do that this year while still prioritizing the health and safety of our customers and employees.”

Montgomery said her McDonald’s restaurant in De Queen will continue to look for additional opportunities to work with local law enforcement offices throughout the year to encourage stronger relationships between police officers and community members. 

De Queen Trunk-or-Treat is still on for 2020; ADH issues guidelines for Halloween trick-or-treaters  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – Volunteers with De Queen’s 2020 Halloween Trunk or Treat said this year’s event is still a go. In fact, after last year’s success, the event will be moving to the Sportsplex to accommodate even more activities and visitors. The event is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31.

Members of the community are invited to host a car or game at this year’s Trunk or Treat. There is no cost to enter a car or activity. Organizers are holding a candy drive to have as much candy donated for this event as possible. Anyone wanting to donate candy for the event can do so at Meraki Hair Studio, Top Line or Peak Therapy in the Town North Shopping Center.

Set up time for Trunk or Treat participants is 2:30. There will be a contest for best decorated car voted on by the kids. For more information and a sign up sheet, visit the De Queen Trunk or Treat event page on Facebook. You can also contact Alicia Gonzalez at 784-0628.

During his weekly briefing on Tuesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson outlined some guidelines from the Arkansas Department of Health for Halloween as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The state health department is suggesting that trick-or-treaters do the following:

Wear a cloth face covering instead of a costume mask alone or on top of your cloth face covering

Limit the number of houses children visit

Only eat factory-wrapped candy that has been wipe with a sanitary wipe

Low-risk activities include: carving and decorating pumpkins, decorating your house, having a virtual costume contest

The CDC released its Halloween guidance in September which included discouraging door-to-door trick-or-treating and attending costume parties or haunted houses.

In late September, the governor made it clear he would not cancel Halloween and stressed that if guidelines are followed, “then it'll ought to be a safe Halloween.”

ADH updates local COVID-19 figures  10/07/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Active cases of the virus in Sevier County did not increase or decrease over the past 24 hours and remain at 10. Total confirmed and probable cases saw a slight increase to 1,217. Deaths remain at 19.

In neighboring counties, active cases in Little River County remained unchanged at 14. Total cases increased by one to 374. Deaths remain at 27.

Howard County active cases remained at 21 on Tuesday. Total confirmed cases grew by one to 504. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases stayed at 22 over the past 24 hours. Total cases grew by ofive to 286. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, active cases in McCurtain County decreased by three to 145. Total confirmed cases rose by 10 to 1,359. Deaths increased by one to 35.

Youth fishing clubs invited to apply for project awards  10/07/20

LITTLE ROCK – With schools back in session and summer fishing tournaments beginning to wane, many youth fishing organizations are looking for ways to keep everyone’s thoughts on the water. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a special award available that’s a great way to keep youth engaged in the outdoors and offers them a way to earn a few dollars for their fishing club. 

Created in 2017, the Youth Tournament Fishing Organization Aquatic Habitat Program enables any fishing tournament organization affiliated with an Arkansas junior high, high school or college to apply for an award ranging from $500 to $1,000 for building and sinking brush piles or engaging in other habitat improvements in Arkansas lakes. 

There’s no restriction from the AGFC on how the team spends the money. It can be used to pay for jerseys, equipment, travel expenses, or anything else the team and school decide upon to benefit the club.   

In addition to creating possible tournament-winning hotspots, these habitat projects can help the fishery. With additional ambush cover, predator fish such as bass and crappie are able to catch their prey using less energy, which can translate into better growth rates in the long run. Additionally, the small spaces in complex brush piles can be shelter for many young-of-the-year fish and baitfish to keep the fishery’s future bright. 

The idea of the program isn’t just to offer some funds to young anglers or create helpful habitat, but to show these young anglers how they fit into the big picture of conservation in The Natural State.

The grant opportunity is open to any fishing club affiliated with a high-school, middle school or college. Applicants should submit a proposal before beginning work on their habitat project to ensure their efforts are legal.

Additionally, the team must supply the AGFC with the coordinates of the habitat they placed for the program. 

 Applications are available at http://www.agfc.com/

Corps of Engineers resuming fee collections at day use recreation areas  10/07/20

LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District is resuming the collection of fees at several day use recreation areas. Fee collections were suspended earlier this year when recreation areas were closed due to COVID-19 precautions.

USACE collects fees at its day use swimming beaches, picnic areas and boat launch ramps. Fees are also collected for camping and for Special Use Permits, which cover events, facilities and group activities.

While visiting USACE recreation areas, visitors are encouraged to practice social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precautions required and recommended by local, state and federal authorities. CDC guidance on visiting parks and recreation facilities can be found online at https://www.cdc.gov/

Local, state and federal law enforcement team up for campaign against distracted driving  10/07/20

LITTLE ROCK – Beginning this week and continuing through October 12th, Arkansas law enforcement officers will join forces with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to participate in a high visibility enforcement effort directed at drivers violating distracted driving laws.
  
Arkansas has joined the national “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” operation formed to stop distracted driving.  Police and sheriff’s departments are spreading a unified message that distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone operating a motor vehicle on Arkansas roadways.
  
Between 2012 and 2018, nearly 23,000 people died as the result of motor vehicle crashes attributed to distracted driving, according to federal records.  While there were 2,841 deaths from crashes caused by distracted driving during 2018, a 12 percent decrease from the previous year, law enforcement agency leaders say additional emphasis devoted to stopping violators is still needed.
  
Millennials and older Generation Z drivers have become the most egregious offenders of texting while driving.  A comparison of statistics indicate that since 2007, drivers 16 – 24 years of age have been using handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle in greater numbers of instances than older drivers have.  During 2018, eight percent of the people killed among teenage drivers were distracted at the time of the crashes.
  
Arkansas law enforcement and NHTSA urge Arkansas motorists to lay their phones aside while driving and practice the following suggestions, ensuring everyone remains safe:

-While driving, if you’re expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park the vehicle in a safe location.  Once the vehicle is safely off the road and parked, it’s safe to text.

-Ask your passenger to be a “designated texter”.  Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls and messages.

-Do not engage in social media scrolling, reading or messaging while driving.

-Cell phone use is habit forming.  Activate your phones’ “Do Not Disturb” feature or place the phone in the trunk or an out of reach location until you reach your destination.   

-Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal. Break the cycle.

Remember: U Drive. U Text. You Pay.  For more information on distracted driving, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov 

Nominations now being accepted for Arkansas Food Hall of Fame  10/07/20

LITTLE ROCK – The Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced this week that the nomination period for the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame is now open.

Nominations will remain open through the 31st of this month. The statewide program is celebrating its fifth year of recognizing the legendary restaurants, proprietors and food-themed events from every part of the state. The annual event seeks to spark a unique conversation about food and how it relates to Arkansas’s heritage.

Nominations are being accepted at ArkFoodHOF.com in five categories:

-The Arkansas Food Hall of Fame award recognizes those long-standing restaurants that have become legendary attractions in Arkansas.

-The roprietor of the Year award honors a chef, cook and/or restaurant owner in Arkansas who has made significant achievements in the food industry.

-The Food-Themed Event award honors a community food-themed event or festival that makes our state a great place to live and visit.

– The Gone But Not Forgotten award remembers the collective culinary legacy of a once-and always influential Arkansas restaurant that has since ceased operations.

– And finally People’s Choice, which awards and identifies the public’s favorite. This award is truly in the hands of Arkansans. The restaurant or food truck that receives the highest number of votes wins.

Every person has a story to tell when it comes to food and these nominations are the perfect time to share your Arkansas food experience. More than 1,450 submissions were received from all 75 Arkansas counties last year, more than double from the previous year. Winners will be chosen this winter by a special committee of Arkansans who are historians, chefs, foodies and food authors. Honorees and finalists will be announced at a special ceremony in 2021.

Governor Hutchinson proclaims October as Farm to School Month  10/07/20

Governor Asa Hutchinson has proclaimed October as Arkansas Farm to School Month. This recognition is part of nationwide efforts to connect schools, early childhood education sites, and other organizations with farms to bring local, healthy food to children.
 
The theme of this year’s Farm to School month is “Celebrating Local!” The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has created a media and promotion toolkit to help schools, early childhood education sites, farms, and others share information about Arkansas Farm to School Month. Find the toolkit and more information about Arkansas Farm to School Month online at https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/
 
“The Arkansas Farm to School program has experienced tremendous growth over the past year,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “We celebrate its successes this month by applauding the efforts of those involved in bringing local food to children. From the farmer who produces food to the educators and parents who teach children about gardening, cooking, and nutrition, all are critical to the creation and sustainability of strong local food systems.”
 
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Heifer USA are also “Celebrating Local!” by hosting a virtual farm tour on October 28, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. on YouTube Live. Attendees will virtually tour Heifer Ranch’s certified organic production gardens, hear expert advice on gardening best practices, and celebrate local successes from across the state. Attendees will be able to ask questions and interact throughout the live event. 
 
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit agriculture.arkansas.gov.

GROUNDBREAKING FOR NEW HOSPITAL IS NOV. 6; BOARD TO BEGIN SEARCH FOR HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR NEXT MONTH  10/02/20

The full audio story is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Sevier County Medical Center will be held Nov. 6. After more than a year in the making, construction will soon begin.

Big news for the area’s new hospital following yesterday’s meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors – a groundbreaking date has been officially set.

After more than a year of organizing and working through a global pandemic, local officials are just about ready for construction to begin. An official groundbreaking ceremony will be held next month on Nov. 6 to inaugurate the construction phase of the Sevier County Medical Center. This is a big moment for the new hospital, said Dr. Steve Cole, director of the hospital’s board of governors.

Of course, this time of year, weather has a way of affecting any organized event. So, a backup date of Nov. 9 was decided in case of inclement weather. The board of governors is extending an invite to local and state elected officials, construction managers and other groups instrumental in getting the hospital from theory to fact.

The board of governors approved another major step in getting things rolling in time for the expected opening of the hospital in early 2022. That’s hiring an administrator to oversee operations of the Sevier County Medical Center and the construction phase.

Board members voted to begin advertising for the position in next month with hopes to have a hire in place by early next year. A salary range of $150,000 to $200,000 was discussed, but an exact figure was ultimately left out and will be dependent on experience and talent. Qualifications for the CEO position include graduate work in an accredited program in hospital administration and a minimum of three to five years in a senior operational role in a hospital or similar entity.

The position would oversee the more than 100 employees expected to work at the new hospital.

Given the area’s experience with previous hospital administration, Dr. Cole said the board will be extremely selective in who it chooses for the position.

The hope is to find someone from Arkansas who understands the state, its residents and their specific health challenges and needs.

Dr. Cole and Sevier County Judge Greg Ray also provided an update on the new hospital’s finances. Bonds to fund construction of the hospital were sold last month. The sale officially closes Oct. 22 with that money entering the hospital’s bank account immediately thereafter. All-in-all, the bond sale collected over $22 million for construction.

The one-cent sales tax passed by Sevier County voters last year to pay for the new hospital continues to be strong. Despite expectations in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, sales tax collections in Sevier County have hit record levels this year. That included $189,000 in August and over $193,000 in September. Dr. Cole said that’s credit to Sevier County residents, who are choosing to shop local and in effect ensure the hospital has a strong start.

A few other items were approved during the meeting, including the addition of several more negative pressure rooms within the hospital. These rooms use specialized airflow techniques to ensure the isolation of infectious diseases or contaminants within a particular room. Instead of spreading that material through the facility’s ventilation system, a negative pressure room localizes potentially contaminated air and forces it through a dedicated exhaust system where it can be harmlessly released from the building. The importance of these rooms became increasingly evident under the current pandemic.

The board then briefly discussed a potential walking trail around the hospital. Dr. Cole said the board was approached by a donor who was willing to pay for this addition to the hospital grounds.

Finally, Bruce Jackson, chairman of the Sevier County Medical Center Foundation, provided an update on the group’s latest meeting. The foundation is an auxiliary group formed to provide an organized setting for community members to both volunteer and donate in support of the new hospital. Jackson said the foundation has already received donations from community members for that cause. The foundation meets the second Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in the De Queen Farm Bureau boardroom.

The Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors will meet again on Nov. 5. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held the following day at the site of the new hospital.

HOSPITAL BOARD APPROVES SAFE HAVEN “BABY BOX”  10/02/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Jim Smith of De Queen discusses a baby box during August's meeting of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors. A baby box allows mothers to safely, anonymously and legally abandon a baby in a protected environment. The baby would then be given to the Department of Human Services for adoption. The baby box is designed to enhance the survival of unwanted babies. Smith's goal of seeing a baby box installed at a local facility came to fruition on Oct. 1, when the hospital board agreed to install one at the new facility.

Imagine if there was a way to help prevent the death of abandoned babies in the local area. That’s exactly what one De Queen resident and members of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors are hoping to accomplish with the addition of a Safe Haven baby box at the new hospital.

The hospital board voted during its meeting Thursday to incorporate a baby box into design of the new facility. A baby box, or baby hatch, is a secured container in which mothers can safely and anonymously abandon their baby.

Abandonment of newborn children is a hideous problem, but a tool like the baby box can mean the difference between the baby’s death or survival. The baby box is typically located at a public facility which is manned 24-hours. There is no location in Sevier County which meets the requirements. That is, until the new hospital is completed.

Board members said the box would fully serve its purpose if it saved the life of just one baby.

Through Arkansas’ Safe Haven Law, parents can legally drop off a child 30 days or younger to a qualified location without facing prosecution for endangering or abandoning a child. The law was approved and put in place to alleviate the abandonment and death of infant children in Arkansas.

The baby box idea was first raised locally by Jim Smith of De Queen during the hospital board’s meeting in August. A former De Queen police chief, Smith discussed how his first case involved the death of an abandoned infant child. It was something he saw far to often during his career, and it’s something that left a deep mark on him.

Smith said the problem was alleviated somewhat by laws that now allow mothers to legally and voluntarily surrender a child who is 30 days old or younger. But, that still leaves the question of where to bring that baby, especially after-hours or on weekends.

Once a child is placed in the baby box, lights and alerts are sent out to trained professionals and first responders who will arrive almost instantly to provide care. The baby would then be given to the Department of Human Services as soon as possible for adoption to a forever home.

The cost to install the baby box and train local professionals is around $15,000.

Smith asked the hospital board to consider allowing installation of a baby box on the property of the new medical center. Yesterday, they agreed to put one in place.

Once completed the hospital will be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That means trained staff will always be on site to respond quickly to a child placed in the baby box. If one baby is saved, said hospital officials, the baby box will have more than served its purpose.

GROUNDBREAKING FOR NEW HOSPITAL IS NOV. 6; BOARD TO BEGIN SEARCH FOR HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR NEXT MONTH  10/02/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

September was another wet month for the listening area. In fact, it’s been an extremely wet year and there’s likely more to come.

Rainfall totals were nearly seven inches in September. That may not seem like a lot after the 13 and a half inches of rain that fall in August. In fact, August’s rainfall was 600 percent more than the monthly average. Leave it to 2020 where you can’t even depend on a dry August.

Nonetheless, rainfall in September combined with the rest of the year totals more than 66 inches. The yearly average is 51 inches. So, we’re way above normal. And as any longtime resident of the area knows, some of the wettest weather is still ahead. There’s a slight chance of rain for the listening area this Saturday. That’s likely just a taste of many more wet days to come.

While the weather has resulted in many flash flood alerts and even a tropical storm warning in August, it’s also had some beneficial effects. Forest fires in this part of the state have been almost non-existent. That’s a great thing, considering the devastation seen in recent weeks along the West Coast due to raging wildfires.

Anyone with hay pastures hasn’t had much difficulty growing grass this year. They probably just had a lot of trouble getting to it. Haying a pasture isn’t fun when even your tractor wants to get stuck in the mud.

So, if you’re in the listening area, don’t retire those umbrellas just yet. We may be already above the yearly average, but mother nature is sure to bring a lot more rain before 2020 is said and done.

DE QUEEN TRUNK OR TREAT ON FOR HALLOWEEN  10/02/20

DE QUEEN – Volunteers with De Queen’s 2020 Halloween Trunk or Treat said this year’s event is still a go. In fact, after last year’s success, the event will be moving to the Sportsplex to accommodate even more activities and visitors. The event is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31.

Members of the community are invited to host a car or game at this year’s Trunk or Treat. There is no cost to enter a car or activity. Organizers are holding a candy drive to have as much candy donated for this event as possible. Anyone wanting to donate candy for the event can do so at Meraki Hair Studio, Top Line or Peak Therapy in the Town North Shopping Center.

Set up time for Trunk or Treat participants is 2:30. There will be a contest for best decorated car voted on by the kids. For more information and a sign up sheet, visit the De Queen Trunk or Treat event page on Facebook. You can also contact Alicia Gonzalez at 784-0628.

HARVEST FOOD BANK TO HOLD DISTRIBUTION IN LOCKESBURG OCT. 14  10/02/20

LOCKESBURG – Harvest Regional Food Bank will host a food giveaway directly from their truck on Wednesday, Oct. 14 in Lockesburg. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. The truck will be parked at the First Baptist Church Lockesburg located at 3466 S. Camellia Street.

With CDC precautions and recommendations against COVID-19 still in place, Harvest is taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff, volunteers and recipients. Mobile pantries are now operating as drive-thru distributions. Recipients are asked not to leave their vehicle. Food will be loaded directly into their vehicle.

Photo ID and proof of address are required to verify recipients are residents of Sevier County. Commodities are limited to one box per household and two households per vehicle. Last year, Harvest distributed 3.2 million meals and served over 60,000 individuals in Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas.

ROLLING RALLY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP IN DE QUEEN TOMORROW  10/02/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Republican Party will hold a rolling rally this Saturday in support of Incumbent President Donald Trump. Anyone interested is invited to come by the De Queen Sportsplex on Oct. 3 to watch or participate in the event.

Organizers say the rally will center around a parade including cars, motorcycles, tractors and even boats decorated in red, white and blue to show their support for President Trump. The rally will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through 1 that afternoon.

For more information, see the Sevier County Republican Party on Facebook or email Chairman Monte Bartek at mbartek@windstream.net

CENTERPOINT CUSTOMERS WILL SEE UTILITY BILL DECREASE  10/02/20

Customers of CenterPoint Energy will likely notice some reduction in their monthly utility bills starting October.

According to a news release sent by CenterPoint Energy Thursday, the new rate will total a decrease of around 4.2 percent in their total natural gas bill. CenterPoint said that equates to a little over $2 for the average residential customer.

CenterPoint Energy provides natural gas to about 400,000 residential and business customers in Arkansas. CenterPoint Energy says customers who may have difficulty paying their natural gas bills to set up a payment plan now so their bills don’t become so large they struggle to pay them later. To discuss payment options, call 800-992-7552.

WINGS OVER ARKANSAS PROGRAM SEEKS TO INCREASE BIRDWATCHING OPPORTUNITIES IN THE STATE  10/02/20

Submitted by AGFC

With the fall migration of many bird species beginning, birdwatching enthusiasts and educators are just as excited as the most avid waterfowl hunter. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is hoping to bring more birders into the watchable wildlife ranks. After 20 years the AGFC’s Wings Over Arkansas program has been revamped and is ready to share the outdoors with more people than ever before.

The program rewards birdwatchers for the number of different species they document in their birdwatching adventures with special certificates of recognition and pins they can display as they move up in the ranks.

Participants in this free program receive an Arkansas Bird checklist as well as a free Arkansas Backyard Birds pocket guide to help them identify common species in The Natural State. The guide includes handy information to help you get started, including links to popular websites and apps to make your birding efforts more rewarding.

According to AGFC migratory bird experts, the program is great entertainment for people from all walks of life. Educators can also adapt the materials to their classroom studies to help engage with students who may be learning on virtual platforms. The AGFC said it’s seen great success introducing everyone from school-aged children to retired individuals at assisted-living communities to the outdoors with the help of the program.

The new Arkansas Backyard Birds pocket guide is filled with new, colorful images of the most common species found in Arkansas and interesting tidbits about their behavior and habits.

Visit www.agfc.com/wingsoverar for more information on the program and downloadable materials, or you may call 501-223-6352 to request free printed guidebooks and brochures to get started.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES  10/02/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported no change in its active COVID 19 caseload, which remains at seven Cumulative cases since the start of the pandemic did not change either, staying at 1,193. Recoveries total 1,168. Deaths did not increase and remain at 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported two additional active cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, raising the total to 12. Total confirmed cases grew by two to 347. Deaths remain at 21.

Howard County active cases increased by four yesterday to a total of 10. Total confirmed cases grew by seven to 468. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases saw a single increase to 15. Total cases grew by four to 270. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported two less active cases on Thursday. That brings the total of active cases of COVID-19 in McCurtain County to 144. Total confirmed cases grew by 12 to 1,321. Deaths remain at 34.

Across the state, an additional 921 cases were reported on Thursday, raising Arkansas’ cumulative total to 81,531. Confirmed active cases grew by 179 to 6,552. Deaths increased by 15 to 1,238.

ARKANSAS GATOR HUNT ENDS WITH 170 TAKEN; 72 FROM LITTLE RIVER AND MILLWOOD LAKE  10/01/20

Submitted by AGFC

Travis Bearden, Gary Bearden, Cody Bearden and Tommy Kelley took an alligator that measured a half-inch shy of 14 feet and weighed 800 pounds. The length and weight were verified by AGFC personnel. The alligator is believed to be the longest ever harvested in Arkansas – and definitely the longest since the state has had an alligator season. It was taken on Merrisach Lake near Arkansas Post last weekend.

Arkansas hunters harvested more alligators than ever before in the 2020 alligator season, which was held the third and fourth weekends in September in three hunting zones in the lower half of the state. Included in that harvest was the longest alligator taken since the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began setting an annual alligator hunting season. Hunters also harvested 72 from Little River and Millwood Lake.

Collectively, 170 alligators were taken in the state on both public and private land. The previous record for alligator harvest was the 98 taken in the 2017 season, according to Mark Barbee, an AGFC wildlife regional supervisor in southeast Arkansas and coordinator of the alligator hunt.

An alligator believed to be the longest ever harvested in Arkansas – and definitely the longest since the state has had an alligator season – was taken on Merrisach Lake near Arkansas Post last weekend. The AGFC does not maintain an official state record on alligators but has recorded data on length since beginning the annual alligator harvest in 2007. The alligator came in half an inch shy of 14 feet and weighed a whooping 800 pounds.

Alligator hunting is by permit only in Arkansas. The AGFC issued 38 public hunting permits, with hunting allowed only on designated areas of the state. Those areas included the Little River below Millwood Lake and Millwood Lake itself. According to the AGFC, 72 alligators were harvested from Little River and Millwood Lake. Eight were taken on public land and the rest on private land.

UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN DE QUEEN WELCOMES NEW PASTOR AND RETURNS TO IN-PERSON WORSHIP FOR FIRST TIME IN SIX MONTHS  10/01/20

The full audio interview is here:

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

This past Sunday the United Methodist Church of De Queen held its first in-person worship – the first one in over half a year.

The congregation had been meeting for months before then online through its own YouTube channel. Like other churches, the local Methodist church postponed services in the spring as the COVID-19 pandemic swept over the country. Sunday was an exciting day not just because members were once again able to worship together. It also marked the first opportunity some had to meet Stephen Copley, the church’s newest pastor.

Copley joined the church in July after 13 years with the United Methodist Church Board of Global Ministries. That tenure included three years in North Little Rock. Born in Oklahoma, Copley moved to Gentry, Arkansas at an early age and has considered himself a true Arkansan ever since.

Copley said his calling to enter ministry began at an early age.

Copley graduated high school from Gentry and then moved to Fayetteville to attend the University of Arkansas. Life got busy and Copley, while not forgetting that early calling, had to focus on college.

But it was early on in college when the idea of entering the ministry returned. Copley faced some critical challenges finding housing close to the campus or even a ride to and from classes. It was one of those stressful moments where the problems just seem to pile up. But Copley turned to God, asked for help and received it. He was able to find housing and transportation to college. It was at that moment he knew he needed to fully devote his life to God and church. One of the themes Copley has always carried with him is that God is with us, for the big things and the small.

Copley has now been a pastor with the United Methodist Church for the past 35 years. After graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, he moved to Georgia and began his first pastorship in 1985. The Methodist Church regularly moves pastors to different churches as needed. For Copley, that included a combined four years of ministry in the United Kingdom.

Copley and his wife, Judi, came to De Queen after the local Methodist Church’s former pastor, Mark Cloninger, relocated to Saline County to head several churches there.

Moving to a new area to lead a new church presents plenty of interesting changes on its own. But, in the middle of a pandemic with in-person worship sessions postponed, well, that’s a situation no one could have expected or prepared for a year ago. Despite the new setting and despite COVID-19, Copley said he fell immediately in love the area and congregation.

One of his immediate tasks was the formation of a reopening committee to ensure in-person service could resume while also following health guidelines. Again, not something they teach you in seminary. But something every pastor in the United States has had to consider. In the meantime, he called, visited and spoke with as many members of his new congregation as he could. When Copley and the reopening committee decided to return to worship services on Sept. 27, excitement was really strong among his congregation.

Like every pastor, Copley brings his own style to ministry and worship. Over his years with the United Methodist Church he’s tried to develop a close, personal and heartfelt manner of church leadership.

Copley invites anyone interested to reach out to him and the church – whether they’re longtime members who no longer attend, or someone looking for a new or first-time church home.

The United Methodist Church of De Queen is located at 424 W. Heynecker Avenue. The church office is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and again from 1-3 p.m. Worship services are held on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Call 642-2038 or visit the church’s Facebook page for more information.

TODAY IS LAST DAY TO RETURN FREE/REDUCED SCHOOL MEAL APPLICATIONS 10/01/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Today is the last day for parents to return their child’s free and reduced school meal forms.

Although all students in Arkansas are eligible for free meals at school through the end of the semester, administrators with area school districts say it’s vital parents turn in those forms.

The completed registration serves two very important roles, district officials said: first, it ensures children of low-income families in the school district receive access to free meals or meals with reduced pricing.

Secondly, the more completed registration forms the district receives, the more federal funding it is guaranteed through the national Title 1 program. In the past, De Queen Public Schools has used these resources to enhance and promote technology in the classroom and for other programs that benefit the entire student district.

District officials say around 70 percent of De Queen’s students qualify for either a free or reduced-price meal. But this year completed registration forms have been returned in fewer numbers than in the past.

This is possibly due to the high number of virtual students – around 600, or about a fourth of all De Queen students – not completing their forms. District officials stress virtual students are also eligible for free and reduced school meals.

Thanks to a waiver exemption from the USDA, all students in Arkansas are able to eat breakfast and lunch at school completely for free. But, area schools ask parents not to let this new development stop them from completing the registration. The revenue those forms bring in is critical for a number of projects that benefit all students.

For more information on how to obtain a free or reduced meal application, contact your school’s administration office today or visit their website as most are making the form available online. Again, the deadline to get those turned in is today.

DIERKS SCHOOLS APPROVES PLAN TO INCREASE INTERNET CAPABILITY  10/01/20

DIERKS – The Dierks Board of Education approved a measure during its meeting Monday night to increase Internet access for its students.

The board approved spending $24,600 on the purchase of 54 wireless access points. These internet boosting devices will be installed in each classroom in the Dierks School District.

The wireless access points will give a huge boost to the district’s internet capability. Currently, Dierks’ wireless service can support around 30 devices. With the new access points, that capability will grow to 500 devices at 1,000mbs.

The purchase will be covered by federal funds through the CARE Act.

CADC TO HOST FOOD GIVEAWAY IN DE QUEEN NEXT WEEK  10/01/20

DE QUEEN – The Central Arkansas Development Council will host another emergency food giveaway next week for residents of De Queen. The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 6 and will be held on the De Queen campus of UA Cossatot.

The agency is giving away 50 pounds of meat, vegetables and baking goods to each qualified resident. To protect volunteers and recipients, this event will be held in a drive-thru fashion. Visitors will be asked to remain in their vehicle as food is brought to them.

Recipients must provide photo ID and meet income guidelines. For more information on those guidelines or the event, visit www.cadc.com. You can also call (501) 315-1121.

LOCAL LIBRARIES HIGHLIGHT “BANNED BOOKS WEEK”  10/01/20

DE QUEEN – This Saturday, Oct. 3 is the start of “Banned Book Week” and area libraries invite everyone to come by and learn more about the dangers of book censorship.

Banned Book Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

Stop by the De Queen Library or any other branch of the Sevier County Library System to see their displays and what featured books they have to offer.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES  10/01/20

DE QUEEN – Turning now to the local COVID-19 environment, here are the latest figures as of Wednesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County a single increase in its active COVID-19 caseload, for a total of seven. Cumulative cases since the start of the pandemic number 1,193. Recoveries total 1,168. Deaths did not increase and remain at 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River County reported an additional death due to COVID-19, raising the total to 21 since the outbreak began. Active cases increased by two to 10. Total cases increased by three to 345.

Howard County active cases decreased by one to six. Total cases were unchanged at 461. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus remained unchanged at 14. Total cases number 266. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 10 additional active cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday for a total of 146. Total confirmed cases grew by 20 to 1,309. Deaths in McCurtain County remain at 34.

Across the state, an additional 607 cases were confirmed on Wednesday in Arkansas for a cumulative total of 80,610. Active cases decreased by 156 to 6,373. Deaths increased by 19 to 1,223.

In related news, Gov. Hutchinson said that the federal government is buying 150 million rapid testing kits, with Arkansas expected to receive 900,000.

Around 59,000 are expected to ship within 10 days.

State officials will make a plan on how to distribute the testing kits across the state – with an emphasis on students, educators, the prison population and at-risk individuals.

ARKANSAS AG, FTC TEAM UP TO COMBAT DEBT COLLECTION SCAMMERS AND AGRESSIVE TACTICS 10/01/20

LITTLE ROCK – If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re one of many Arkansans who have received fake and threatening debt collection calls. It’s a growing issue as scammers’ efforts to target people increase. The Arkansas Attorney General along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and more than 50 federal and state law enforcement partners announced this week an effort to curb this trend. The goal of this initiative, called Operation Corrupt Colelctor, is to protect consumers in Arkansas and nationwide from phantom debt collection and abusive, threatening debt collection practices.

The campaign includes both law enforcement operations and an outreach campaign aimed at consumers in Arkansas. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge reminded residents in the state of a few things to keep in mind if you get a debt collection phone call.

-Debt collection phone calls are only allowed to a consumer’s home during the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Legitimate debt collectors cannot harass, intimidate, threaten, or embarrass consumers and cannot make false or misleading statements, including false threats of imprisonment or criminal charges.

-If a caller requests payment of a suspicious debt, then request a written verification of the debt.  A legitimate collection agency is governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  When asked by a consumer, it must provide written verification of the debt, including the name of the original creditor.

-Keep detailed records, and report the debt collector to the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Arkansas State Board of Collection Agencies if wrongdoing is suspected.

Operation Corrupt Collector initiative includes 54 total enforcement actions brought by the FTC, other federal agencies, and various state agencies against debt collectors engaged in these illegal practices.

In coordination with 46 states, Arkansas joins with the FTC in rolling out new information to help consumers know their rights when it comes to debt collection and what steps to take if they receive a call trying to collect on a debt that they do not recognize.

The FTC has also created a new online dashboard with information about reports received from consumers on debts not owed and abusive and threatening collection practices. So far in 2020, the FTC has received more than 85,000 reports from consumers related to debt collection, and nearly 45 percent of those were related to debts the consumer did not owe or abusive and threatening practices.

FREE VIRTUAL WORKSHOP TO PROVIDE EXPERT TIPS ON GAME CAMERAS  10/01/20

LITTLE ROCK — Game cameras can be a valuable tool for hunters. However, if used the wrong way, they can turn up empty or, worse, blow your hunt.

Arkansas bowhunter, hunting industry pro-staffer and outdoor filmmaker, Tim Endsley, will break down the variety of game cameras on the market, strategies for using them to improve your scouting, and critical errors to avoid in this free online ZOOM workshop hosted through the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center.

The workshop will begin at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6. Click here to register.

Additional workshops offered by Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center are available at the center’s Facebook page:www.facebook.com/centralarkansasnaturecenter.

SEVENTH ANNUAL SEVIER COUNTY HEALTH FAIR IS TODAY  09/30/20

DE QUEEN – Local and state health agencies will host a Health Fair in De Queen today with a variety of free health screenings for area residents.

The event is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. all day today at the Legacy Center in De Queen. The Legacy Center is located in the former First National Bank building on Third Street in downtown De Queen. The health fair is open to everyone but focuses specifically for people who don’t have insurance.

The event is being organized through the local Legacy Initiatives organization and funded through the Arkansas Minority Health Commission. Offices partnering with the event include the Lofton Family Clinic, Dr. Randy Walker and the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation. Volunteers from the De Queen Walk-in Clinic, UA Cossatot, the Lansdell Clinic and Encompass Health will be represented and have volunteers on site to assist with screenings.

A number of check ups, preventative services and health screenings will be provided at absolutely no cost. Those services will be aimed at diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other similar health topics.

Dr. Walker will be offering vaccines and flu shots during the event. A free diabetes class is scheduled for 2 p.m.

A free prostate screening will also be provided to men aged 45 to 75.

Dr. Lofton said all-in-all, the screenings add up to about $500 worth of services but will be provided for free during the event.

Dr. Lofton and other participating healthcare providers say this is a good event to catch up on screenings and other health services that may have been put to the side during the pandemic. Again, that event will be held today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Legacy Center on 121 Third Street in downtown De Queen.

ARDOT ANNOUNCES $20.5 MILLION PROJECT FOR AREA BRIDGE REPLACEMENTS  09/30/20

Over $20 million in infrastructure improvement will be heading to the area next year, according to a recent announcement by the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

The state is planning to replace three aging bridges on Highway 70 and 278. Those include the 70-year-old bridge spanning the Saline River on the Sevier and Howard County line. Also scheduled for replacement under this project is the bridge over the Saline River on Highway 278, built in 1963, and the bridge over the Caddo River on Highway 70 in Glenwood. That bridge is nearly 60-years-old.

All in all, the replacement projects are expected to cost around $20.5 million. Manhattan Road & Bridge Company of Tulsa was awarded the contract.

Construction is expected to begin next spring. A time frame from start to finish was not immediately available but that information is expected to be announced as construction nears.

William Cheatham, ARDOT’s district engineer for Southwest Arkansas, said traffic delays will be kept to a minimum. He said all three existing bridges will remain up and in use until the new ones are constructed. He added that at least a single lane of traffic will be open at all times while work gets underway.

Cheatham said its projects like these which face a threat in funding reductions without the approval of Arkansas’ Issue 1 on this year’s ballot. That measure seeks to turn a current half-cent sunset tax into a permanent tax to fund continued state, city and county road improvement projects. If the measure fails, the current half-cent tax will expire in 2023. Currently, this statewide sales tax is divided 70 percent for state projects and 15 percent for both Arkansas counties and cities. Issue 1 would continue this funding structure.

ARKANSAS AGRICULTURAL PROFILE HIGHLIGHTS INDUSTRY'S IMPORTANCE TO STATE ECONOMY   09/30/20

It may be common knowledge that agriculture is among the strongest pillars of Arkansas’ economy, but the “how’s” and “why’s” can sometimes be a mystery, even to life-long residents.

The Arkansas Agricultural Profile, published by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, offers an explanation of the many facets of agriculture in the state. The 2020 edition is now available for download at uaex.edu. The publication is available at no cost.

Leah English, program associate with the Division of Agriculture, is a member of the small staff of economists and analysts who compile data for the publication each year. She said much of the agricultural data comes from services provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Much of the economic and employment data come from private sector sources.

She said a lot of farmers use this publication, just as a way of knowing where their contributions stand in the state. It’s a way to help explain how important agriculture is to other people in the state. It’s also helpful for legislators, as an effective way to see how vital agriculture is to the state’s economy.

Some important facts highlighted in the 2020 publication:

-Farmland comprises about 42 percent of the state’s land, with more than 42,000 farms covering 14 million acres

-In 2019, Arkansas agriculture contributed approximately $21 billion in added value to the state’s economy

-Agriculture supports more than 268,000 jobs in Arkansas

-About 57 percent of the state is forestland; the timber industry saw about $439 million in cash receipts in 2018

-Arkansas is the No. 1 rice producer in the country; No. 2 in broilers

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS MAY QUALIFY FOR CONCURRENT ENROLLMENT SCHOLARSHIP  09/30/20

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

UA Cossatot is reaching out to qualified high school students to let them know they may qualify for the new Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarship. This scholarship will award eligible high school students $125 per class for up to two concurrent credit courses per semester. These classes would be open to both juniors and seniors. Rules, regulations, and details about the scholarship can be viewed at www.adhe.edu.

There is zero cost to students who enroll in concurrent classes offered during school hours at their high schools. These are taught with high school instructors qualified to teach college courses or programs through the Secondary Career Centers.

Students opting to take additional online college classes above what is offered during their high school day, or outside of the college’s Secondary Career Center, are charged $125 per course. Students who receive the Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarship as a high school junior or senior will receive up to $500 for college classes in one academic year. College officials say that’s a total $1,000 in savings for eight college credit hours.

For more information about the Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarship or UA Cossatot’s concurrent enrollment program, contact UA Cossatot’s High School Programs Department at 870-584-1343.

DEADLINE TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN NOVEMBER ELECTION IS MONDAY, OCT. 5   09/30/20

DE QUEEN – The clock is counting down for citizens in Arkansas who wish to vote in this year’s General Election but have not yet registered to vote.

Citizens who have not registered to vote and want to participate in this year’s presidential election must register by this coming Monday, Oct. 5. If you’ve moved from one Arkansas county to another, you will have until Oct. 30 to transfer your registration.

Early voting is just around the corner and will be held the last two weeks of October at the Community Building in the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen.

For those who plan to vote on Election Day, the county will have six voting centers open for use. Those include the De Queen Community Building, the Ben Lomond Community Building, the Lockesburg Methodist Church, the J.L. Walker Fellowship Hall in Horatio, the De Queen Church of Christ and the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative.

For more information or if you have any questions, contact the Sevier County Clerk’s office at 642-2852.

TODAY IS IRS DEADLINE TO CLAIM DEPENDENT FOR ADDITIONAL $500 PANDEMIC RELIEF STIMULUS   09/30/20

Today is the IRS registration deadline for Americans who are eligible for the $500-per-child payment available under the March coronavirus stimulus but failed to get it.

The CARES Act in March allowed $1,200 per person who made $75,000 or less on their most recent tax return and $500 for every dependent under the age of 17. But some people who missed brief windows to file still have not received that $500 per child.

The IRS is urging people who were unable to provide their information in time to receive the child stimulus payment to use the IRS.gov Non-Filers' tool by the end of today.

Those eligible to provide this information include people with qualifying children who receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement benefits and Veterans Affairs Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefits and did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, the IRS said on its website.

The IRS says it anticipates the updated payments will be made by mid-October.

These people were automatically sent their $1,200 payments even if they didn't file tax returns, but had to use the Non-Filers' tool to request the $500 dependent amount. They were given short windows to file earlier this year, but many missed it and were told they'd have to wait until next year.

The agency is also reminding Americans who made little or no income and are not required to file tax returns that they are still eligible for their full stimulus payment. They need to use the Non-Filers' tool by Oct. 15 if they want to receive their payment this year. Anyone who misses that deadline will have to wait until they file their federal tax return next year.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES  09/30/20

Here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported no change in its number of confirmed active cases of the virus, which total six. Total cases grew by two to 1,192. Recoveries grew to 1,192 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths remain at 18.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 decreased by three to eight. Total cases were unchanged at 342. Deaths remain at 20.

Howard County active cases remained unchanged at seven. Total cases grew by one to 461. Deaths remain at 12.

In Polk County, cumulative cases of the virus increased on Tuesday by one to 266. Active cases grew by one to 14. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported nine few active cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday for a total of 136. Total confirmed cases grew by four to 1,289. Deaths in McCurtain County remain at 34.

COUNTY HEALTH UNIT OFFERING EXTENDED HOURS ON TUESDAYS  09/30/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Health Unit will now be offering extended opening hours on Tuesdays. Deborah Hedge, director of the local health unit, said the clinic will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.

The change, effective immediately, was made to benefit individuals who need later appointments. The clinic will retain normal operating hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

The Sevier County Health Unit is located at 304 North Fourth Street in De Queen. For more information, call (870) 642-2535.

LOCAL VETERANS PARTNERING WITH STATEWIDE ORGANIZATION TO PROVIDE SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR SERVICEMEN, WOMEN IN SWAR  09/29/20

The full audio interview is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Local veteran advocates are hoping to reach out to servicemen and women in the area who are struggling emotionally in their lives.
 
September is Suicide Prevention Month in Arkansas and across the nation. Although suicide is an affliction that can affect anyone from any background, veterans are at particular risk. A little outreach can go a long way when it comes to suicide intervention. That's exactly what local veterans are hoping to accomplish.
 
Michael Chenowith, a local veteran and member of De Queen's American Legion Post 54, said the group recently connected with the Arkansas Veteran Suicide Intervention Team, known as “We Are the 22.” That name stems from a study showing on average 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Support is available out there but outreach has been limited in this corner of the state. Chenowith said local veterans want to change that through the “We Are the 22” organization.
 
“We are the 22” was founded by Mikel Brooks, who fought two combat tours in the Middle East and suffered disabling injuries during his time over there. Brooks said he fell into depression and self-medication and eventually an attempt at taking his own life through overdose. When Brooks woke up, he said he woke up with a vision to help veterans who were suffering through the same emotional and mental issues. Ricky Hendricks, commander of the local American Legion post, said the program is based entirely in Arkansas.
 
The “We are the 22” organization has intervention teams available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Their mission is to come to a veteran in need and help them through their crisis. Through a partnership between “We are the 22” and Sevier County veterans, local servicemen and women will have a close source of help to turn to.
 
For more information on the “We Are the 22” program, visitwww.wearethe22.com. Volunteers, both civilian and veteran, are greatly needed. Veterans can call the Arkansas Veteran Crisis Line at 1-855-932-7384. The crisis line is available 24/7.
 
For more information on this project, or for anyone interested in learning more about the local American Legion and Veteran of Foreign Wars organizations, can contact Ricky Hendricks at (870) 584-8051. The local VFW chapter meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Veterans Hall on 513 Eighth Street in De Queen. The local American Legion post meets on the second Monday at the same location. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m.
 
TIME STILL AVAILABLE TO REQUEST ABSENTEE BALLOT     09/29/20
 
DE QUEEN – Voters in Arkansas are still able to request an absentee application and ballot.
Because of the concern surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, anyone who does not want to vote in person this election can request an absentee application. Registered voters must apply to vote absentee. The process is an easy one.

The application form is available by calling the county clerk’s office at (870) 642-2852 or by emailing countyclerk@sevco.ar.gov. The application form will need to be printed and returned via mail to Sevier County Clerk, 115 North Third Street, Room 102, De Queen, AR 71832. Compled applications can also be faxed to 642-3896, or returned via email to countyclerk@sevco.ar.gov

Applications are begin accepted now. Absentee ballots were mailed to voters in Sevier County beginning Sept. 18 but absentee voting continues through election day.. If you choose to handle the process entirely by mail, you are encouraged to return the form as soon as possible. If you plan on submitting your absentee application in person, you must do so by the close of business the day before the election. If submitting by mail or by electronic forms, applications must be received by seven days before the election. If you plan on using mail to complete the whole process, election officials advise you to start as soon as possible to mitigate any potential mail delays.
The ballot itself must be received by the close of business the day before the election. If submitting a ballot through a designated bearer, the bearer must submit the ballot by 7:30 p.m. on election day. Absentee ballots returned via mail must be received by the county clerk’s office by 7:30 p.m. on election day. You may not fax or email a completed ballot.

 
ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES; HOWARD COUNTY REPORTS TWO ADDITIONAL DEATHS ON MONDAY     09/29/20
 
DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Monday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:
Sevier County reported no change in its number of confirmed active cases of the virus, which total six. Total cases remained unchanged at 1,190. No additional recoveries where reported over the past 24 hours.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 decreased by two to 11. Total cases were unchanged at 342. Deaths remain at 20.

Howard County confirmed another two additional deaths over past 24 hours, raising the total to 12. Active cases saw a net decrease of two to currently total seven. Total cases number 460.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus increased on Monday by four to a total of 13. Total cases saw an increase to 265. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 145 active cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Total confirmed cases grew by 12 to 1,285. Deaths in McCurtain County remain at 34.

Across the state of Arkansas, health officials reported 786 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 79,521. Active positives decreased by 141 to 6,824. An additional 23 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours for a total of 1,183.

AREA BUSINESS DONATES $2,000 TO CREATE SCHOLARSHIP FUND AT UA COSSATOT    09/29/20

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

Jimmy Carver, left, presents Dustin Roberts of UA Cossatot with $2,000 to fund an athletic scholarship at the college. Carver, owner of Jimmy Carvers’ Refrigeration Heating & Air, said he wanted to support UA Cossatot and its students, especially now because of the economic effects of the pandemic.

UA Cossatot Foundation recently received a $2,000 donation from Jimmy Carvers’ Refrigeration Heating & Air to benefit UA Cossatot Colts athletic scholarships.

The scholarship requirements are that recipients be a UA Cossatot student athlete and have a 3.0 GPA or higher. The UA Cossatot Athletic Director will determine the selection process and number of awards.

Jimmy Carver, owner of Jimmy Carvers’ Refrigeration Heating & Air said he wanted to support UA Cossatot and its students, especially now because of the economic effects of the pandemic. He hopes the scholarship helps student athletes succeed and reduce their expenses so they can focus on their education.

The UA Cossatot Foundation said it welcomes and appreciates any financial gift to support UA Cossatot students, programs, and efforts in providing quality education and services to its students.

UA Cossatot’s Head Coach and Athletic Director, Robert Byrd said he and the athletic program are thankful to Jimmy Carver for establishing the scholarships.

For more information on how to give to the UA Cossatot Foundation, contact Dustin Roberts at 870-584-1172 or droberts@cccua.edu. For information about UA Cossatot’s athletic program, contact Robert Byrd at 870-584-1105 or rbyrd@cccua.edu.

SCMC GROUNDBREAKING EXPECTED TO BEGIN NOV. 1   09/29/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Sevier County residents are likely to see a lot of activity on Highway 71 north of De Queen by the end of next month as construction on the area’s new hospital begins.

Bonds to pay for construction of the Sevier County Medical Center hit the market this month and were scooped up within 24 hours – a sign that investors are willing and ready to put their money in the new project. The bond sale is set to officially close Oct. 22 with funds slated to enter the hospital account immediately thereafter. The bonds raise a little over $22 million for construction of the new hospital.

Once funds are released to the county hospital fund, construction on the medical center can began immediately. Dr. Steve Cole, director of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, said ground breaking is expected to begin Nov. 1. Construction is scheduled for completion in early 2022.

The bonds will be paid back through a one-cent sales tax passed by voters in support of the new hospital last year. Sales tax collections this year have hit record levels, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences. The record sales tax collections show Sevier County residents are shopping locally and ensuring the hospital has a great financial start.

SEVIER COUNTY REPUBLICANS PLANNING ROLLING RALLY IN SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP   09/29/20

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Republican Party will hold a rolling rally this Saturday in support of Incumbent President Donald Trump. Anyone interested is invited to come by the De Queen Sportsplex on Oct. 3 to watch or participate in the event.

Organizers say the rally will center around a parade including cars, motorcycles, tractors and even boats decorated in red, white and blue to show their support for President Trump. The rally will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through 1 that afternoon.

For more information, see the Sevier County Republican Party on Facebook or email Chairman Monte Bartek at mbartek@windstream.net

JUST TWO DAYS LEFT TO RETURN FREE SCHOOL MEAL APPLICATIONS   09/29/20

DE QUEEN – With just two days left until the deadline, De Queen Public Schools is urging parents to fill out the district’s free and reduced meal program registration. The registration completed two very important roles, district officials said: first, it ensures children of low-income families in the school district receive access to free meals or meals with reduced pricing. Secondly, the more completed registration forms the district receives, the more federal funding it is guaranteed through the national Title 1 program. In the past, De Queen Public Schools has used these resources to enhance and promote technology in the classroom and for other programs that benefit the entire student district.

Although all children in Arkansas are currently eligible for free school meals – thanks to a USDA exemption waiver – districts still need the forms completed and returned.

District officials say around 70 percent of De Queen’s students qualify for either a free or reduced-price meal. Completed registration forms have been returned in fewer numbers than in previous years, officials said. This is likely due to the high number of virtual students – around 600, or about a fourth of all De Queen students – not completing their forms. District officials stress virtual students are also eligible for free and reduced school meals.

For more information on how to obtain a free or reduced meal application, contact your school’s administration office or visit their website as most are making the form available online. The deadline to return the form is Oct. 1.

FLU SHOTS STILL AVAILABLE IN AREA     09/29/20

DE QUEEN – With the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic still ongoing, it may be more important than ever to get your flu shot – and get it early. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone get their flu shot within the next six weeks.

If you missed last week’s Mass Flu Clinic in Sevier County, there’s still other ways to receive an influenza vaccine this year at little to no cost. The vaccine is still available at the Sevier County Health Unit and should be available now or soon at your local doctor office.

Healthy Connections in De Queen announced it has also received flu shots and its ready to distribute them as needed. Most patients are eligible to receive the flu shot at no cost depending on their health insurance coverage. Patients who are insured through the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Part B or most health insurance plans should be able to receive the vaccine for free.

TICKETS AVAILABLE TODAY FOR ASHDOWN-BAUXITE GAME THIS FRIDAY  09/29/20

ASHDOWN – Fans of the Ashdown Panthers will be have access today to a limited number of tickets for this Friday’s game against Bauxite. Tickets will be on sale today only starting at 8 a.m. in the Ashdown Administration Office. There is a limit of two tickets per purchase. Bauxite will honor AAA cards, so if you have one, there is no need for a special ticket. Kickoff for this Friday’s game is scheduled at 7 p.m.

HAVEN'T RECEIVED YOUR COVID STIMULUS PAYMENT? FILE/REQUEST IT BY OCT. 15 OR PAYMENT MAY BE DELAYED UNTIL NEXT YEAR     09/29/20

Tens of millions of Americans have gotten their stimulus payments. But some people are still waiting for relief — either for their dependent children or because they earn too little to file a tax return.

Roughly 9 million people across the country are receiving letters from the IRS about how to claim those missing stimulus checks.

Now, they’re looking at a looming Oct. 15 deadline — if they don’t want to wait well into 2021 to get their money.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (Cares) Act provides economic impact payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for taxpayers filing a joint tax return. The law also includes an extra $500 for each child who was under 17 at the end of 2019. You don’t need earned income or a job to qualify for a stimulus payment, also known as an Economic Impact Payment (EIP).

Under the Cares Act, stimulus payments must be made by Dec. 31. If people don’t receive the money by year’s end, they’ll have to wait to get the money until they file a 2020 federal return next year because the stimulus relief payment is actually an advance credit.

If you don’t normally file a tax return and haven’t received a stimulus payment — up to $1,200 in aid for individuals and $2,400 for married couples — you have until Oct. 15 to use the non-filers tool at irs.gov to get the funds by year’s end.

Those who don’t have access to the online non-filers tool can submit a simplified paper return, which needs to be postmarked by Oct. 15.

You’ll need to download either Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors if you’re over 65.

The instructions also explain how to claim the additional $500 payment for each dependent child under 17.

Something to keep in mind, if someone else can claim you as a dependent on their return, you don’t qualify for a stimulus payment. But if you won’t be claimed as a dependent for this tax year, you may be able to claim the stimulus credit when you file a 2020 return next year.

DEADLINE TO REGISTER TO VOTE IS JUST ONE WEEK AWAY  09/28/20

DE QUEEN – Unfortunately each Election Day, many would-be first-time voters in Arkansas do not have their votes counted because they are not actually registered to vote. The deadline to register to vote in this year’s November election is October 5. The postmark on a mail-in application will be considered the submission date.

Many believed they had registered months before, but failed to follow up when they did not receive a voter ID card from their county clerk. The process of voter registration is convenient, but it also places responsibility on the registrant to ensure the process is completed.

Submitting your voter application at a state agency, in a voter registration drive or through the U.S. Postal Service does NOT guarantee your registration. You should follow up on the status of your registration just as you would on any other personal business matter. Before considering yourself a registered voter, you must receive an acknowledgment of your registration from the county clerk.

To register, you must fill out a paper Voter Registration Application. You can find one at the following locations:

Your local county clerk.

The Arkansas Secretary of State Elections Division at www.sos.arkansas.gov .

Your local revenue or DMV office.

Public library.

Disability agency.

Or Military recruitment office.

If you are registering to vote by mail, you must provide either your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number on your Arkansas Voter Registration Application, or check the box in #9 on the application to indicate that you do not possess either a driver’s license or Social Security number.

If you have moved from one county to another within Arkansas, you must update this information with the county clerk no later than 4 days

prior to Election Day via a Voter Registration Application.

Voters are welcome to call their county clerk and inquire about the status of your application. You may also check your voter registration status online by visiting www.voterview.org.

Amidst the global pandemic, election officials are hard at work to provide safe and secure voting opportunities for Arkansans.

Voting in person on Election Day, early voting, or absentee voting are options available to voters. Early voting begins October 19.

For more information, contact the Sevier County Clerk’s Office at 642-2852. That number in Little River County is (870) 898-7210, (870) 845-7502 in Howard and (479) 394-8123 in Polk County.

TWO ADDITIONAL DEATHS FROM COVID-19 REPORTED OVER WEEKEND  09/28/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Sunday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Sevier County reported two additional deaths on Sunday, raising the total to 18 since the pandemic began. The additional deaths were not, however, matched with an increase in active cases of the virus. Confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in the county actually saw a net decrease over the weekend by two to six currently. Total cases increased by one to 1,190. A total of 1,166 Sevier County residents have contracted the virus and since recovered.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 totaled 13 on Sunday. Total cases grew by a net of four to 342. Deaths remain at 20.

Howard County confirmed two additional deaths over the weekend, raising the total to 10. Active cases saw a net decrease of two to currently total nine. Total cases number 459.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus increased over the weekend by two to nine. Total cases saw an increase to 260. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported 146 active cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. Total confirmed cases since the outbreak began number 1,273, surpassing Sevier County which previously led the region in the number of total cases. Deaths in McCurtain County remain at 34.

Across the state of Arkansas, health officials reported 475 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 78,735. Active positives decreased by 62 to 6,965. An additional 23 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours for a total of 1,160.

SEVIER COUNTY HEALTH FAIR WILL BE THIS WEDNESDAY    09/28/20

DE QUEEN – Local and state health agencies will host a Health Fair in De Queen this week with a variety of free health screenings for area residents.

The event is scheduled for this Wednesday, Sept. 30 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Legacy Center in De Queen. The Legacy Center is located in the former First National Bank building on Third Street in downtown De Queen. The health fair is open to everyone but focuses specifically for people who don’t have insurance.

The event is being organized through the local Legacy Initiatives organization and funded through the Arkansas Minority Health Commission. Offices partnering with the event include the Lofton Family Clinic, Dr. Randy Walker and the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation. Volunteers from the De Queen Walk-in Clinic, UA Cossatot, the Lansdell Clinic and Encompass Health will be represented and have volunteers on site to assist with screenings.

A number of check ups, preventative services and health screenings will be provided at absolutely no cost. Those services will be aimed at diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other similar health topics.

Dr. Walker will be offering vaccines and flu shots during the event. A free diabetes class is scheduled for 2 p.m.

A free prostate screening will also be provided to men aged 45 to 75. September is Arkansas Prostate Cancer Awareness month. Health officials stress that prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent survivable if detected early. The American Cancer Society and the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation stress the need for men in Arkansas between the age of 45 and 75 to receive yearly prostate screenings.

Dr. Lofton said all-in-all, the screenings add up to about $500 worth of services but will be provided for free during the event.

ASHDOWN HONORS RETIRING STAFF, EDUCATORS    09/28/20

ASHDOWN – Last week, Ashdown Public Schools held a private reception to honor their 2020 retirees. The retirees were honored for over 499 combined years of service to Ashdown Public Schools.  Superintendent Casey Nichols congratulated those who were able to attend and presented them with plaques as a small token for the time and effort they had each put forth to provide the best education possible for Ashdown students.

We’ve been highlighting some of these dedicated educators and staff members over the last few days. Today we’ll wrap up the list of Ashdown educators who retired this year.

Gail Wade taught the last three years at Ashdown Public Schools with thirteen total years of teaching. At Ashdown High School, she taught Advanced English II and English II. She has many projects planned to keep her busy in retirement as well as travel and books to read.

Katrina Williamson spent an amazing 50 years in the classroom and 45 of those with Ashdown Public Schools. Williamson has taught a wide variety of grades and students levels. She said her style of teaching focused on the fact that all students have the same basic needs, love, understanding, and acceptance. She said students are largely the same, some are just taller than others.  Her fifty years in teaching have been a fantastic journey with thousands of travelers by her side.  During her retirement, she plans to have many more adventures with her husband Jim, lots of yard work, and a larger role being a grandmother.

Finally, Sharlotte Wright worked as an attendance clerk and computer lab manager for 28 years in Ashdown Public Schools.  She said she enjoyed working with her co-workers especially at L.F. Henderson Elementary School.  She will miss getting to see the kids and visiting with them.  She looks forward to spending more time with her family.

HUNTERS ASKED TO BE DEER STAND RESEARCH ASSISTANTS    09/28/20

LITTLE ROCK – Hunters can help the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s wildlife management efforts through the AGFC’s free Deer Hunting Observation Survey available through the AGFC app. The app is available through both the iTunes app store and the Google Play store.

The mobile survey lets hunters record sightings of game species such as deer, bear, quail, turkey, and furbearers and also nongame species such as feral hogs while hunting.

The hunter observation survey has been used since 2004; however, the process went completely electronic in 2014.  The app makes it even easier for the hunter to participate and gives them something else to pursue while in the stand. Even if you don’t see any animals during your hunt, AGFC officials say completing a survey each time you go out provides helpful information about how often species are seen.

In addition to hunter observation data, the AGFC deer program receives biological data collected from approximately 700 Deer Management Assistance Program clubs across the state and other observations. The commission analyzes this information in order to make decisions on deer management by deer zone.

FREE CATTLE MARKET WEBINAR  SCHEDULED FOR TOMORROW      09/28/20

2020 has proven as unpredictable a year for cattle producers as for anyone else. An upcoming webinar from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture aims to shed some light on the coming fall cattle marketing season and help ease some the uncertainty facing Arkansas’ cattle producers.

The hourlong webinar is scheduled for tomorrow, Sept. 29, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. In addition to current market conditions, the webinar will cover factors that affect bid price, calf management, and supplemental feeding for preconditioned marketing and more.

Shane Gadberry, professor of cattle nutrition for the Division of Agriculture, said this year’s event takes place in a notably different market environment from previous meetings and webinars dedicated to fall cattle marketing.

Since August last year Arkansas has seen turmoil in the cattle markets. Gadberry explained the fall of 2019 was associated with a fire at a processing plant. This spring, markets were responding to the stock market and a backlog of cattle in feedlots as processors were working through employee illnesses and worker safety issues due to COVID-19.

With the uncertainty of what a combined flu plus COVID-19 season will look like, cattle producers will want to pay attention to cattle markets and evaluate if marketing sooner or later fits best, Gadberry added.

The webinar will include a discussion of the current supply and demand situation for the beef industry. That discussion will be followed by a look at supply and demand factors that will likely influence fall feeder cattle and cull cow markets.

Panelists will also discuss multiple “sell versus retain” marketing scenarios.

The webinar, which will be presented on the Zoom online conferencing platform, is free to attend, but registration is required. To register and for additional information on the virtual event, visit www.uaex.edu

You can also contact the local Cooperative Extension Service office in your county. In Sevier County, that number is (870) 584-3013.

DUMAS HUNTERS BAG LONGEST ALLIGATOR ON RECORD    09/28/20

DUMAS – A group of Arkansas men hauled in a monster on the last weekend of the state’s alligator hunting season, breaking the record for longest gator caught in Arkansas.

The four men caught the 13-foot, 11.5-inch alligator on Lake Merrisach near Dumas this weekend. The gator weighed in at a whooping 800 pounds.

Arkansas game and fish officials don’t have an actual state record in place, but said the gator was the longest ever measured in the state. The four hunters said it took them two hours to haul in the giant.

Arkansas hosted its first-ever quota-based alligator hunt on private land in the southern half of the state. Licensed hunters were legal to harvest alligators on private land this year if they had permission to hunt the land and as long as the quota hadn’t been met.

No doubt Sevier and Little River Counties are home to some monster alligators and, accordingly, some great hunting opportunities. If you had a chance to bag an alligator locally during this year’s season, let us know. Send a pic to our Facebook page or send it to numberonecountry@yahoo.com

DE QUEEN LOSES ONE OF MOST WELL KNOWN AND RESPECTED BUSINESS LEADERS, KENNETH WAYNE “DINK” GENTRY   09/25/20

The full audio story is available here:

The partial transcript is featured below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

2020 has been a difficult year for De Queen's business community. But this year recently took another tragic and personal turn. On Sept. 19, De Queen lost one of its most well-known, respected and cherished business leaders: Kenneth Wayne Gentry, affectionately known to everyone as Dink. He was 78-years-old.
 
Dink was born on July 21, 1942 right here in De Queen. Along with just a handful of other leaders, Dink went on to shape De Queen's modern business community. His legacy included over 60 years as the owner of Gentry's Trading Post and as a real estate owner and manager. It was a legacy of small beginnings but of well-earned success. Anyone who knew Dink will remember him as a humble and amicable man. Those he leaves behind remember him as a man who would do anything he could to help someone in need, no matter how many chances they needed.
 
The Great Depression had a huge impact on how Dink's legacy came to be. He was too young to live through it, but his parents did. They remembered well those hardships. Hardships they never wanted their son to see. He learned early on the importance of working hard, saving money and helping others whenever you could.
 
That was Bud Gentry. Bud and Jimmy Ray are Dink's sons. They took a few minutes to speak about Dink and the legacy he leaves behind. Both said they'll always remember their father as a man who cared about De Queen and its people.
 
Jimmy Ray said his father always respected Pilgrim's poultry facility in De Queen. Without it the town would have likely been little more than a gas station in the southwest corner of the state. But it's also where Dink got his real start in business. Dink had worked with his dad in the log woods but learned quick that wasn't where he wanted to be.
 
That initial start allowed Dink to partner in the Trading Post and then buy it outright. He managed it for the next six decades. He was there every day because he carried a work ethic few could match. Dink built the business car by car, sale by sale. Today, there's hardly a person in Sevier County who can't say they bought their first car from Dink Gentry.
 
Although real estate and cars was what Dink became known for, at heart he was a born trader.
 
Trading was a passion not lost on his sons. Bud shared one story about a lesson they learned from their father, even if it wasn't exactly what Dink had expected.
 
Dink was a De Queen man and a community man. He and his late wife, DeLois, along with Mac McDaniel were founders of the Sevier County Toys for Tots campaign. Their hope was to ensure no local child had Christmas without a toy under the tree. He was also a wealth of knowledge on De Queen and its history.
 
Work was something Dink never truly gave up. He never officially retired and could be seen just about any day at the Trading Post. He'd spend time at the new car dealership his sons' founded and later expanded, Gentry Chevrolet, just to make sure things were running right. Days off were rare moments Dink didn't see many of. He'd even offer to run the dealership himself on holidays it was scheduled to be closed.
 
That's the ethic Dink carried always carried with him, right up to his passing last Saturday. In fact, he requested his funeral be held on a day no one would have to miss work to attend.
 
Dink was the kind of man that can't be replaced. He was one of several men who've passed away in recent years. Men who helped build De Queen and carry it towards a more modern and prosperous era.
 
Gentry was preceded in death by his parents and his wife of 46 years, Delois. He leaves behind Bud, Jimmy Ray and a sister, Sue Baily, as well as five grandchildren and one great-grandson.
 
Funeral services will be held for Kenneth Wayne “Dink” Gentry this Sunday, Sept. 27. Services will begin 2 p.m. at

Wilkerson Funeral Home Chapel in De Queen with Bro. John Henry Williams and Pastor Ray Reynolds officiating. Burial will follow in Redmen Cemetery.

General viewing will be from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. this Saturday, September 26th at the funeral home.

Condolences may be left online at www.wilkersonfuneralhomes.com

TRIAL DATE SET FOR HOT SPRINGS MAN CHARGED WITH VIDEO VOYEURISM IN SEVIER COUNTY   09/25/20

DE QUEEN – A trial date has been set for an area man facing a felony voyeurism charge for an incident alleged to have occurred while he lived in Sevier County last year.

According to records from the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, 34-year-old Jeffrey Boarman has been scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Nov. 12 of this year.

Prosecutors are alleging Boarman secretly videotaped his 13-year-old daughter while she was undressing on at least one occasion. The incident under investigation dates to October of 2019. A state police crime lab reportedly recovered deleted photos from the incident. The girl told investigators she found her father’s iPad hidden in her closet and set to record video.

Boarman, who court records show now lives in Hot Springs, was originally set for a pre-trial hearing earlier this year. However, COVID-19 forced the postponement of court proceeding across the state. Boarman is now set to appear in court on Nov. 12.

Unless a guilty plea is entered, Boarman’s trial is expected to begin Nov. 18.

The video voyeurism charge is a class D felony which carries a sentence of up to six years in prison and fine up to $10,000.

SEVIER COUNTY MASS FLU CLINIC WRAPS UP TODAY      09/25/20

Today is the last day of the 2020 Mass Flu Clinic in Sevier County. All area residents are invited to come by and get their flu shot today. The drive-thru flu shot clinic will be set up in De Queen today at the Methodist Church parking lot across from the Sevier County Health Department on Fourth Street. Visitors are asked to enter the parking lot on Heynecker Street and exit through the alley by the Methodist Church. Trained staff will be providing flu shots today until 4:30 p.m.

The shots are free to everyone but visitors are asked to provide their insurance information if they have it. This will allow the health unit to recover some of the costs of administering flu shots this year.

THIS IS LAST WEEKEND OF PRIVATE LAND ALLIGATOR HUNT  09/25/20

DE QUEEN – Arkansas is hosting its first-ever quota-based alligator hunt on private land in the southern portion of the state. Hunters have just a few more days to participate in this expanded hunting opportunity.

Licensed hunters are legal to harvest alligators on private land this year – if they follow a few rules. As long as the quote in their zone hasn’t been met and they have permission to hunt that private land, they are legal with only the $5 permit available at www.agfc.com.

The change to the private land alligator hunt was introduced this year. Previously alligator hunts were available only through a statewide lottery-style tag drawing.

Interested hunters should visit www.agfc.com/alligator to see more details about the hunt, including the online orientation videos and manual.

Hunting is allowed only from 30 minutes after sundown until 30 minutes before sunup this weekend.

Hunters should call the AGFC Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 after 2 p.m. the day of their hunt to check to see if the quota has been met for their zone. The season ends Sept. 28, or the night the quota is reached, whichever comes first.

If you’re in the listening area and had a chance to bag a gator, let us know. Send a pic to our Facebook page or send it to numberonecountry@yahoo.com

LOCAL CITIES, COUNTIES AT RISK OF LOSING ROAD FUNDING WITHOUT APPROVAL OF ISSUE 1 THIS NOVEMBER   09/25/20

DE QUEEN – Voters in Arkansas will soon decide on a state initiative that could affect highways and roads for years to come.

The “Issue 1” ballot initiative asks voters to approve a permanent extension to a half-cent sales tax for highway and road projects.

Arkansas has an existing half-cent sales tax in place, but the tax expires in 2023. If Issue 1 passes, that tax will continue indefinitely.

If voters pass Issue 1, it will generate about $290 million annually. About $205 million will go to the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT), and about $85 million will go to cities and counties. About $400,000 is provided to Sevier County each year with another $100,000 for the City of De Queen.

Without the tax, cities and counties in Arkansas will also lose 15-percent of their current road budgets.

ASHDOWN PUBLIC SCHOOLS HONORS RETIREES  09/25/20

ASHDOWN – Last week, Ashdown Public Schools held a private reception to honor their 2020 retirees. The retirees were honored for over 499 combined years of service to Ashdown Public Schools.  Superintendent Casey Nichols congratulated those who were able to attend and presented them with plaques as a small token for the time and effort they had each put forth to provide the best education possible for Ashdown students.

We’ll be highlighting some of these dedicated educators and staff members over the next couple of days.

Janet Phillips has 32 years of teaching experience and all at of those at Ashdown Public Schools. Her teaching career included 1st grade, 2nd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade. Phillips said her years at Ashdown taught her that life is a lifelong learning experience. She added that Ashdown schools taught her that teachers are special people who work tirelessly to encourage students as well as peers.  During her retirement she plans to visit with family, volunteer, workout and pursue her hobbies.

Arlena Reed spent 25 years at Ashdown Public Schools as a custodian. Iven Richard worked for 27 years at Ashdown Public Schools as a custodian.  His morning duty was assisting the students as they arrived at school in the car rider line. Both said they will greatly miss the kids and parents they helped each day.

Virginia Spain taught 34 years at Ashdown Public Schools as part of her total 38 years in teaching. She said those years were an amazing journey. She’s grateful to have had the opportunity to teach in such in the Ashdown school district. Although she will miss teaching, she looks forward to retirement. She plans on renovating her backyard oasis and being a full-time grandmother.

Brenda Tate taught for an amazing 41 years -all those years with Ashdown Public Schools teaching kindergarten and first grade. She also was director of the 21st Century after school program. Teaching taught her to be patient, be fair and be concerned for and loving towards her students. She also plans to spend time with family in her retirement, work in her garden, volunteer in the community and live life to the fullest.

We’ll highlight the last few educators and staff members on the list on Monday.

DHS CHEERLEADERS HOSTING SPAGHETTI FUNDRAISER THIS AFTERNOON  09/25/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Leopards Cheer Team will host a Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser this afternoon before the game at Leopard Stadium. The meal will include spaghetti, garlic bread and corn. Cost is $7. Serving will begin at 4 p.m. If you would like to order, contact Callie Helms at 582-3588, Amanda Hibbs at 582-2889, Blaire Harp at 279-0444 or any of your 2020 Leopard Cheerleaders. Delivery will be available for businesses and large orders.

The Leopards Cheer team invites fans of the De Queen Leopards to come out and support the team as they take on the Hope Bobcats this evening. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

ASHDOWN SCHOOLS OPENS UP AFTER-SCHOOL HOURS FOR TUTORING, BLENDED LEARNING SUPPORT  09/25/20

ASHDOWN – Ashdown Junior High School is providing students to catch up during the busy school year with after-school tutoring and support sessions. The junior high library will be open from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. each Monday and Tuesday for students who need tutoring, have make up tests and assignments to complete, or need support for their blended learning curriculum. There is no cost to attend these sessions.

FRIDAY IS LAST DAY OF DE QUEEN'S FALL CLEAN UP WEEK   09/25/20

DE QUEEN – Today is the last day of the fall clean-up week for residents of the city of De Queen.

As part of the yearly campaign, city residents are encouraged to pickup trash and debris before winter.

There are several opportunities city can residents can take part of during fall clean up week.

The city will again be collecting old electronic items for recycling. Computers, printers, cell phones, televisions and similar items will be collected at the De Queen Fire Station during the end of business today only. Items delivered after clean-up week will not be accepted.

Pickup of large items such as old furniture or appliances will be available for the remainder of today as well. Call De Queen City Hall at (870) 584-3445 to be put on the pickup list.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL, STATE COVID-19 FIGURES   09/25/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Thursday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County increased by one over the past 24 hours to eight currently. Total cases increased by two to 1,189. Deaths remain at 16. A total of 1,165 Sevier County residents have contracted the virus and since recovered.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 increased by one to 13. Total cases grew by one to 338. Deaths remain at 20.

Howard County active cases remained the same at 11 confirmed individuals. Total cases grew by three to 453. Deaths currently total eight.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus increased by four to seven. Total cases saw an increase of fourto 256. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported two fewer active cases of COVID-19 on Thursday for a total of 148. Total cases increased by nine to 1,256. Deaths remain at 34.

Across the state of Arkansas, health officials reported 1,030 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. That raises the state’s cumulative total to 76,676. Active positives increased by 289 to 6,672. An additional 17 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours for a total of 1,097.

JOHNSON BRIDGE TO BE CLOSED NEXT WEDNESDAY FOR STATE INSPECTION   09/25/20

DE QUEEN – Sevier County officials say a portion of Johnson Bridge Road will be temporarily closed on Wednesday, Sept. 30. The road will be closed near Johnson Bridge to allow state crews time to inspect the bridge. The closure is expected to begin around 8 a.m. and continue through noon. The inspection was originally slated for this week but was cancelled due to weather. Johnson Bridge Road can still be entered from the east and west off of Highway 70 West, but traffic will not be able to cross the bridge over the Rolling Fork River.

OUACHITA BIGFOOT FESTIVAL KICKS OFF TODAY   09/25/20

MENA – Today marks the start of the Ouachita Bigfoot Festival and Conference at the Blue Zipline and Farm near Mena. Believers and skeptics alike are invited to come out today or throughout the weekend to enjoy numerous vendors, activities, door prizes, good food and a conference will well-known Bigfoot researchers. Events are scheduled today through Sunday afternoon.

Festival admittance is $1 per person and free for those three and under. Conference admission is $5 per day and free for children five and under. Proceeds will benefit the Polk County School Lunch Fund, which benefits school children in Polk County whose families are suffering financial hardships.

For more information, call (479) 216-8639 or visit the Ouachita Bigfoot Festival page on Facebook.

ARKANSAS MOVES ANTERLESS DEER HUNT TO DECEMBER   09/25/20

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans looking for one last chance to bag a deer at the end of the season this year will have three additional days to take a doe after the Modern Gun Christmas Holiday Hunt to fill their tag. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission voted in May to move the Private Land Antlerless Only Deer Hunt from the middle of October to the last days of December in hopes to increase participation in the hunt.

Established in 2012, the hunt has seen limited participation throughout the state. The move to the cool weather of the late season is an effort to increase doe harvest — the initial reason for the hunt’s creation.

The early season was an attempt to protect more button bucks. Many of these yearlings would still be with the does, allowing hunters to more easily differentiate the smaller button bucks from the older does and choose the latter.

Deer hunters in Arkansas have shown a definite preference for harvesting does later in the season.  Based on several comments received, hunters would prefer less disturbance and pressure on deer prior to the October muzzleloader hunt and the statewide opening of modern gun deer season.

The Christmas gun hunt will still take place Dec. 26-28, adding a few additional doe-only days to fill a tag.

LIONS SEE GREAT START TO FIRST YEAR OF NEW GOLF PROGRAM   09/24/20

The full audio story is available here:

You can also read the partial transcript below:

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Starting a new high school sports program from scratch is always a process filled with challenges and uncertainty. But, as a coach, you've got to feel pretty proud when your teams end up in the top three in the conference.
 
Proud is exactly how Horatio High School Golf Coach Micah Cassady feels for his boys and girls team. Both just wrapped up their first season and overall it was a great one despite coming short of an invitation to the state championship tournament.
 
Both the boys and girls teams came in third place in the conference. The girls were just three strokes short of a second place in the conference, which would have sent them to state. Tuesday's game in El Dorado was rescheduled at the last minute for Monday. It was a rush to get the teams ready but Cassady said that didn't stop his athletes from giving it their all.
 
It was a great showing for a team formed from scratch with only one summer of training under its belt.
 
Horatio High School has hosted a golf program in the past, but 2020 is the first year in recent memory to see the Lions field a team. It was a quick conversation one day over lunch between Cassady and Athletic Director Stephen Sprick which led Horatio to relaunch the program.
 
Practice began simply enough with the basics at the high school. The team then moved out to the Little River County Club to practice on the green.
 
Although any sport focuses on competition, Cassady said he wanted his athletes to understand golf is a low pressure game which focuses as much on the social aspects as the competitive ones.
 
As proud as Cassady is of his team, he's just as proud of the Horatio community for its support of the new program and its student athletes. A supportive community, Cassady said, is one of the keys of any popular and supportive sports program, especially in that crtical first year.
 
ARKANSAS HUNTERS ENCOURAGED TO INTRODUCE NEWCOMERS TO WOODS AND WATER ON NATIONAL HUNTING AND FISHING DAY  09/24/20
 
Sept. 26 is National Hunting and Fishing Day. It's a perfect day to introduce a newcomer to Arkansas' outdoor opportunities.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wants to increase the number of hunters and anglers in the Natural State and they’re asking for everyone’s help. If hunting or fishing is your thing, share that passion by pledging to take a newcomer to the woods or water this National Hunting and Fishing Day, Sept. 26.

National Hunting and Fishing Day is a day to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in conserving America’s wildlife and wild places. The annual celebration is one way conservation agencies strengthen their partnership with the public. The hope is to continue promoting wildlife populations and the ethical pursuit of game species for the benefit of all.

Unlike systems in which wildlife is owned by individuals who own the land, the North American Model of Conservation observes that wildlife are a public resource available to all. However, there must be a governing agency to ensure wildlife does not face the catastrophic declines seen at the turn of the 20th century. There’s a few older folks in Sevier County who may remember the near extinction of deer during the Great Depression. Some may even remember stringing barbwire across faint deer tracks in the desperate hopes of harvesting one.

That’s a situation no one wants to see return. Proper conservation is the key.

The funding for conversation agencies like the AGFC is based on hunting and fishing license sales and on excise taxes placed on hunting, fishing and shooting equipment gathered by the federal government and distributed to states.

In 2019 over 600,000 hunters and anglers spent on average $3.8 million a day. Those funds are what supports wildlife conservation in Arkansas and ensures all Arkansans have a chance to enjoy the outdoors.

The dollars contributed by hunters and anglers are used to benefit all species. That includes nongame species like songbirds and pollinators. Hunters and anglers not only provide the majority of the funding for this conservation work, but they are impactful partners in shaping policy and lobbying for the creation and management of public lands. As such, sportsmen and sportswomen are the lifeblood of many rural Arkansas economies.

Of course, the best way to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day is to introduce someone new to these sports and places we love. Many of Arkansas’s hunting seasons will be open for people to experience what the outdoors has to offer. Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking about ways you can bring someone new into the hunting and fishing community:

Arkansas’s opening day of archery deer season is Sept. 26; bring someone along to unplug from the electronics and enjoy the relaxation of a day in the deer stand.

This is a great time to go fishing, at least before the usual rains in fall and winter reduce those good fishing opportunities. Fishing’s always in season, and shad should begin moving shallow as days get shorter in September. Check out the AGFC’s Weekly Fishing Report to find the hot bite.

Arkansas’s squirrel season has been open since May 15, but this is prime time to find a few bushytails feasting on hickory nuts; encourage a friend or family member to take a walk in the woods with purpose, scanning the treetops for squirrels.

Take a weekend float on one of the AGFC’s Arkansas Water Trails, and bring along a fishing rod. The cool weather will help keep mosquitoes at bay and makes it easy to grab a paddle and a friend for a quick, comfortable introduction into paddling.

Plan a family outing to one of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s nature and education centers. They’re open on weekends and will hold special programs for the event. Admission is always free.

NATIONAL COLLEGE SAVINGS MONTH     09/24/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

September is National College Savings Month and to that end state and college officials in Arkansas are reminding people of the importance of saving for college.

Student debt is rising and college is getting more expensive, so the need to save is perhaps greater than ever before.

One of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to save for your child’s college education is through Arkansas 529 Educational Savings Plan. This tax-deductible savings plan is used by tens of thousands of parents in Arkansas to help prepare for their child’s college education. This month, the plan hit a milestone of more than $1 billion within college saving accounts.

The 529 plan is administered through the office of the Arkansas State Treasurer. Perhaps no one is better placed to discuss the plan than State Treasurer Dennis Milligan. Treasurer Milligan took a few moments with us here at KDQN to discuss the plan, its impact and how more parents can get involved.

The full audio interview is here:

REMINDER: POSTAGE WILL BE ON VOTERS WHO MAIL IN ABSENTEE BALLOTS   09/24/20

LITTLE ROCK – As more people request absentee ballots for this year’s General Election, election officials are reminding voters who choose to mail in their ballot that they are required to cover the postage fee.

The cost to mail back your ballot in the provided envelop is $1.40.

The Sevier County Clerk’s Office began mailing out absentee ballots last Friday. If you plan on voting absentee but haven’t yet requested an absentee ballot, there’s still time.

Registered voters must apply to vote absentee. The application form is available by calling the county clerk’s office at (870) 642-2852 or by emailing countyclerk@sevco.ar.gov.

The application form will need to be printed and returned via mail to Sevier County Clerk, 115 North Third Street, Room 102, De Queen, AR 71832. Compled applications can also be faxed to 642-3896, or returned via email to countyclerk@sevco.ar.gov

If you choose to handle the process entirely by mail, you are encouraged to return the form as soon as possible. This is to mitigate any potential delays through the mailing process.

The ballot itself must be submitted in person by the close of business the day before the election. If submitting a ballot through a designated bearer, the bearer must submit the ballot by 7:30 p.m. on election day. Absentee ballots returned via mail must be received by the county clerk’s office by 7:30 p.m. on election day.

MAUMELLE MAN FINDS SECOND LARGEST DIAMOND AT CRATER STATE PARK   09/24/20

Submitted by Waynon Cox of Crater of Diamonds State Park

Kevin Kinard of Maumelle found the second-largest diamond ever discovered at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

On Labor Day, Kevin Kinard, a 33-year-old bank branch manager from Maumelle visited Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park and found the second-largest diamond discovered in the park’s history. Kinard has visited the Crater of Diamonds fairly regularly since first going there on a second-grade field trip, despite having never found a diamond. This trip was to turn out differently.

Kinard and his friends brought equipment with them to wet sift, but Kinard preferred surface searching. He only wet sifted for about 10 minutes before he started walking up and down the plowed rows. Anything that looked like a crystal, he picked it up and put it in his bag.

While searching in the southeast portion of the diamond search area, Kinard picked up a marble-sized crystal that had a rounded, dimpled shape. He thought it was nothing more than glass at the time, but it looked interesting so he kept it.

The plowed soil of the park’s 37.5-acre diamond search area was fairly dry on Labor Day Monday, with temperatures in the low 90s. A few clouds provided occasional relief from the sun.

After a few hours of searching, Kinard and his friends stopped by the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where park staff identifies visitor finds and register diamonds.

The 9.07-carat diamond found by Kevin Kindard earlier this month.

An employee identified Kinard’s rocks and minerals but sat his rounded, dimpled find aside to carry into the office for closer examination. After a few minutes, park managers brought Kinard into the office and revealed that he had discovered a diamond weighing more than nine carats.

Weighing 9.07 carats, Kinard’s diamond is the second-largest found at the park since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972. The only larger diamond found during that time is the 16.37-carat white Amarillo Starlight, discovered in August 1975.

After registering his diamond, Kinard took it home and spent a couple of weeks mentally processing his excitement. He returned to the park on September 23 to share his story.

Finders of large Crater diamonds often name their gems. Kinard chose to honor his friends with the name of his diamond, calling it the Kinard Friendship Diamond.

When asked what advice he would give other visitors, Kinard said, “Have the park staff check everything, because you never know. I would have never in a million years dreamed that I had found anything. Always have them check it!”

As of this publication, 246 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2020, weighing a total of 59.25 carats. An average of one to two diamonds are found by park visitors each day.

Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three colors found at Crater of Diamonds State Park are white, brown, and yellow, in that order.

The previous record for the second-largest diamond found at the park belongs to the 8.81-carat white Star of Shreveport, discovered in 1981 by Carroll Blankenship, of Shreveport, La.

Admission to the park’s diamond search area is currently limited to 1,000 tickets per day due to COVID-19 restrictions. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance at www.CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com, to ensure access.

CENSUS SEEKING ADDITIONAL EMPLOYEES TO COMPLETE LAST STRETCH OF 2020 COUNT    09/24/20

Although the 2020 U.S. Census is in its final leg, the agency is seeking applications from a few more area residents to help see this year’s census through. The U.S. Census said a number of field representative positions are still open in the area and throughout Arkansas.

Potential applicants must be at least 18-years-old, have a valid driver’s license, have a working automobile and be a U.S. Citizen. A security background check and six months of general work experience or education are also required.

Hours are flexible and based on the application survey. Salary ranges from $14.95 an hour to $21.56. There is a ten percent increase in pay for hours worked past 6 p.m. and mileage is reimbursable at 58 cents a mile.

For more information or to apply, call 1-800-865-6384, ext. 15, or visit 2020census.gov

The U.S. Census Bureau is also encouraging anyone who hasn’t yet completed their survey to do so as soon as possible. With door-to-door visits by census takers now underway, the U.S. Census Bureau is informing households that they may also receive a follow-up visit to ensure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census.

On a daily basis, the Census Bureau updates its list of households that have responded. It is possible that a locally hired census taker will still visit the address as part of the Census Bureau’s quality assurance program for the 2020 Census even if a household has already responded. The public is encouraged to cooperate with census takers as they follow up.

In addition, other Census Bureau representatives continue visiting homes for ongoing surveys that are occurring at the same time as the 2020 Census, such as the American Community Survey. These ongoing surveys affect only a small number of households nationwide and provide valuable information to help community leaders plan for hospitals and schools, improve emergency services, and make informed decisions about creating jobs.

Households can still respond to the 2020 Census by going online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire they received.

DEER HUNTERS ASKED TO HELP TRACK SPREAD OF CWD IN ARKANSAS; SAMPLE DROP OFF LOCATIONS IN SEVIER, OTHER COUNTIES    09/24/20

Deer hunters in Arkansas are being asked to help state officials combat chronic wasting disease through a statewide testing campaign. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has set up more than 100 free testing locations throughout The Natural State this season to identify the spread of this disease.

Hunters across the state are asked to drop off a sample of any deer they’ve harvested at one of these testing locations. In Sevier County, a sample can be dropped off at the De Queen City Shop on East Haes Avenue. In Howard County, that testing location is the Farmer’s Cooperative in Dierks. In Little River, samples can be taken to the Little River Sanitation Department in Ashdown. The point of contact for all three of these testing locations is Brad Townsend, who can be called at 877-777-5580.

Biologists stress this is not a food safety test. There is no confirmed evidence of a human ever getting chronic wasting disease from eating venison. Nevertheless, biologists want to determine the spread of the disease by testing deer samples from across the state.

To submit a test at one of the containers, a hunter simply removes the deer’s head with at least 4inches of neck still attached at its base, removes any antlers, places the head in a bag that’s provided at the freezer and places it inside with contact information. The stub from their contact information will guide them to find their test results, which are available online.

If a positive result is received, AGFC staff will contact the hunter directly by the phone number provided with the sample. Staff will then make arrangements with the hunter to pick up any meat they no longer want and can provide an additional deer tag to harvest a doe to make up for the lost meat.

Test results are usually available within 2-3 weeks. The AGFC has partnered with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Little Rock to help complete the testing in a timely manner.

In addition to “self-serve” drop-off locations, the AGFC has a network of taxidermists who will collect and submit CWD samples for free. While most of the animals they see are mature bucks, many will pull a sample from deer they are not mounting for hunters who want the help. Hunters are asked not to move intact deer carcasses harvested inside the CWD Management Zone outside of that zone, even for testing purposes.

Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for more information about Chronic Wasting Disease in Arkansas.

AAA GIVES HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PROGRAMS THE GO AHEAD    09/24/20

The Arkansas Activities Association says cheer and dance squads can now attend out of town athletic events. The previous ban was issued due to COVID-19 concerns. The change means school districts on the local level will now make the determination if their squads will be able to attend the away games. Bands are still not permitted to travel for away games.

The activities association has also released guidelines for high school basketball games this season. Schools who play football will be allowed to schedule 26 games, while non-football schools can schedule 34 basketball games this upcoming season. Districts will not be allowed to host multi-team events, such as tournaments, and Arkansas teams will not be allowed to travel out of state for these types of events.

In the stands, six feet of social distancing space will be required between family groups. Everyone in the arena will be required to wear masks at all times, with the exception of actively participating players, and school districts must provide separate entrance and exists to help avoid congestion.

LOCAL SCHOOLS, COLLEGES SPARED FROM RISING COVID-19 RATES IN ARKANSAS   09/23/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

A growing number of schools and colleges across Arkansas are reporting an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases confirmed among their students and staff. Fortunately, so far area schools have been spared from any sizeable outbreaks since the start of school.

That’s according to the Arkansas Department of Health, which began providing public data in August listing schools with five or more confirmed active cases of COVID-19. Both De Queen and Nashville School Districts made the initial report in mid-August. District officials in De Queen said action taken to quarantine students exposed to any confirmed case prevented a wider spread of the virus. Both districts were on the list for only a few days before being removed due to the decrease of confirmed active cases.

De Queen Superintendent Jason Sanders says the district is continuing to follow state health and education guidance. Those measures include face masks, social distancing and frequent cleaning and sanitizing of school facilities.

Any school with less than five cases is not included on the list. The list is updated twice a week.

The only public schools in the region included on the list are Prescott with 19 active cases, Texarkana with 10 and Magnolia with 5. There are a total of 498 currently active cases of COVID-19 confirmed among students and staff across Arkansas. The cumulative total is slightly over 1,800 with the vast majority of those having recovered.

Colleges and universities across Arkansas are seeing a slightly higher level of active cases among students and staff. That figure currently includes 631 active cases with nearly 3,000 overall. Again, no local institutions are listed in the latest report. Naturally, the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, as the state’s biggest school, leads the list with 324 currently active cases. SAU is the only university included in the list with eight currently active cases.

The data can be viewed anytime by the public by visiting the COVID-19 information page on the website of Arkansas Department of Health. That website can be viewed at www.healthy.arkansas.gov

DE QUEEN MAN ARRESTED FOR PUBLIC INTOXICATION – TWICE WITHIN SEVERAL DAYS   09/23/20

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Police Department said it arrested a De Queen man for public intoxication – not once, but twice within several days.

According to a report released by the department, officers were dispatched to Tiger Mart in De Queen on Sept. 17. A call had been received about a man at the gas station who appeared to be intoxicated and was asking customers for money. Upon arrival officers saw the suspect walk across Highway 71 where he was nearly hit by an 18-wheeler. Officers made contact with the man and identified him as 50-year-old Alberto Garza of De Queen. In the report officers said they immediately noticed the smell of alcohol and that Garza’s speech was slurred.

He was placed into custody and taken to the Sevier County Jail on the charge of public intoxication. Several days later, on Sept. 20, officers responded to a man harassing customers at El. Pasiano’s Restaurant in downtown De Queen. They immediately recognized the suspect as, again, Alberto Garza. Garza reportedly admitting to drinking and also refused to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Garza was then, again, placed into customer and taken to the county jail for public intoxication.

UA COSSATOT AWARDS SECOND CLASS OF PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANTS   09/23/20

Submitted by Ben Renfrow of UA Cossatot

On Monday, UA Cossatot held a pinning ceremony at its Ashdown Campus in the Barbara Horn Civic Center to inaugurate the new, 2020 class of physical therapist assistants. Nine students graduated at the pinning ceremony and became the second group of students to complete the program.

The nine students who received pins at the ceremony include Allie Anderson of Ashdown, Alondra Galvez of De Queen, Luis Herrera of De Queen, Riley House of Delight, Myka Lemley of Texarkana, Katherine Malca of Texarkana, Kayla Mills of Texarkana, Lacey Morton of Lewisville, and Ashley Thompson of Ashdown.

UA Cossatot Chancellor, Dr. Steve Cole, and PTA Program Director, Jennifer Sanderson expressed their excitement for the graduates and congratulated them. During the ceremony, Jennifer Sanderson announced the graduates' names, and the graduate's family members pinned them. Graduate Riley House also received recognition for having the highest program grade average in the class.

To learn about pre-requisites for the PTA Program at UA Cossatot or deadlines to apply, please visit UA Cossatot's Medical Education page at www.cccua.edu to schedule an advising appointment.

ASHDOWN PUBLIC SCHOOLS RECOGNIZES 2020 RETIREES   09/23/20

ASHDOWN – Last week, Ashdown Public Schools held a private reception to honor their 2020 retirees. The retirees were honored for over 499 combined years of service to Ashdown Public Schools.  Superintendent Casey Nichols congratulated those who were able to attend and presented them with plaques as a small token for the time and effort they had each put forth to provide the best education possible for Ashdown students.

We highlighted a few of these dedicated educators and staff members yesterday. We’ll continue that look today.

Among those retirees honored this month were Keith and Sharla Fricks. Both have been in education for the past 28 years. Seventeen of those were with Ashdown Public Schools. Sharla retires as a math teacher and media specialist for LF Henderson Elementary School. Sharla said she cherishes the friends and memories she made at Ashdown Public Schools. During retirement she plans to spend time with family, travel, catch up on reading and see her new grandchild. Her husband, Keith, served as assistant principal for Ashdown Junior High School and as principal for LF Henderson. He plans to spend time with his family, new grandchild and work in more fishing and hunting trips with his father.

Hardy Gibbons spent eight years in maintenance and transportation at Ashdown Public Schools. He plans to do a lot of fishing in his retirement.

Kim Joyce spent 34 and a half years in education and all of it at Ashdown Public Schools. Kim has served in a variety of roles, from substitute to bus driver to district bookkeeper.  Joyce said she enjoyed her time with the Ashdown School District working, helping, learning, and making lifelong friends and family. During, retirement, she plans to spend time with the people who are special to her and enjoy time outdoors with her husband Larry.

Georglyn Miller spent 26 years in education at Ashdown and all at L.F. Henderson as an ISS Classroom Manager and principal’s secretary.  She said she enjoyed the responsibility as an educator to teach in the manner each student can learn. She plans to move to Hot Springs and volunteer with a Parkinson’s advocacy organization.

Ryan Murry taught for 36 years, six of those at Ashdown Public Schools. Although relatively new to Ashdown Public Schools, Murry said she felt like part of an extended family the moment she stepped onto the campus of Ashdown High School. Murry plans to spend time with her family in retirement.

We’ll continue highlighting these Ashdown retirees in the coming days.

CITY HALL REOPENS TO PUBLIC THIS WEEK  09/23/20

DE QUEEN – De Queen City Hall fully reopened to the public this week for the first time since the spring. Like government offices around the state and nation, city hall was closed to visitors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown said visitors are welcome again this week during regular hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The drive-thru window will continue to be in use for anyone wanting to pay their water bill or conduct other, quick business. Masks are required for anyone who enters city hall.

The Sevier County Courthouse opened under similar circumstances earlier this month. Access remains limited however on Tuesdays and Thursdays when court is in session.

ADH UPDATES LOCAL COVID-19 FIGURES; SEVIER CO. SEES FEWEST ACTIVE CASES SINCE NEARLY THE START OF PANDEMIC   09/23/20

DE QUEEN – Here are the latest figures as of Tuesday afternoon for Sevier County and the surrounding area, according to the Arkansas Dept. of Health:

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sevier County saw a decrease of one over the past 24 hours. Active cases of the virus in Sevier County now number just seven – that’s the lowest confirmed level since nearly the start of the pandemic. Total cases did not change and remain at 1,185. Deaths remain at 16. A total of 1,162 Sevier County residents have contracted the virus and since recovered.

In neighboring counties, Little River County active cases of COVID-19 dropped by one to 12 currently. Total cases grew by five to 336. Deaths remain at 20.

Howard County active cases decreased by two to 10 confirmed individuals. Total cases did not change and stayed at 450. Deaths currently total 8.

In Polk County, active cases of the virus dropped by three to a total of just three currently confirmed cases. That’s the lowest rate of active cases in the region. Total cases saw a slight uptick of one to 251. Deaths remain at four.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, McCurtain County reported no new active cases of COVID-19, which total 154. Total cases increased by eight to 1,238. The county reported an additional death for a current total of 34.

And now, with the latest COVID-19 information from across Arkansas, here’s our report on Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s COVID-19 press conference held Tuesday afternoon:

SAMPLE BALLOTS FOR NOV. GENERAL ELECTION AVAILABLE; SEVIER COUNTY VOTERS TO DECIDE WET/DRY ISSUE   09/22/20

By Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director

Sample ballots are available for Sevier County voters who want to study up before the November General Election.

It’s going to be big and busy election with voters deciding not just who will be president for the next year, but also a number of local issues as well. That includes whether or not to permit the sale of alcohol in Sevier County. The wet/dry measure made it to the ballot after organizers behind the effort collected more than the minimum amount of needed signatures earlier this year.

If the measure passes, alcohol sales will be permitted in Sevier County for the first time since Prohibition began in the 1920s. The measure would allow for a limited number of alcohol stores in the county, and allow restaurants to apply for licenses to serve alcohol on their premises.

The wet/dry issue will be open for all Sevier County voters to decide.

Other local elections include a race for the Ward 2, Position 1 seat on the De Queen City Council. Lee Ann Pitchford has challenged incumbent Teresa Bunyard for the position.

Voters within the Gillham city limits will decide a proposed one-percent local sales and use tax.

Voters within the Dierks School District boundaries will also vote on extending the current millage rate of 43 mills to provide additional funding for the district. The extension does not increase the current millage rate. The requested rate of 43 mills represents the same rate presently being collected.

Area voters will also have their say in deciding a number of state and federal races. That includes, of course, the presidential election between incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden. A number of third-party candidates are also running.

Bruce Westerman, the Republican U.S. Representative for Arkansas’ Fourth District, is being challenged by Democrat William Hanson and Frank Gilbert of the Libertarian Party.

In addition, there are six statewide ballot initiatives all voters in Arkansas will be able to decide. However, only one of them, Issue 1, has not been struck or is currently being challenged in court. Issue 1 asks voters to continue a half-cent statewide sales tax to provide funds for infrastructure projects. The current sales tax provides the state with 70 percent of the revenue collected. The other 30 percent is split evenly between Arkansas cities and counties. The revenue raises about $400,000 for road improvement projects in Sevier County alone.

Issue 4 and 5 will be included on the ballot but have been struck, meaning election officials will not count votes for or against it. We’ll be bringing you additional information on these measures and other election-related information as the election nears.

The sample ballot is featured below. The sample ballot is also available at the county clerk’s office in the Sevier County Courthouse.